“Not Over Easy” not over yet

    Posted on: Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

It’s a Rex-Goudie-on-Canadian-Idol big deal.

Newfoundland filmmaker Jordan Canning has a short film in the finals — the very, very finals — of the nation-wide CBC Short Film Faceoff competition.

It’s a huge deal.

Her film, “Not Over Easy,” follows a couple’s breakup using two eggs and stop-motion animation. She directed and co-wrote the film with Jody Richardson, and Sam Pryse-Phillips produced it.

Canning and her film appeared on episode one of the CBC TV’s Short Film Faceoff series on June 16. “Not Over Easy” was chosen by audience applause and a panel of judges to move on to the finals and compete for almost $40,000 of cash and in-kind services to make a film. Canning is up against two other filmmakers for the prize, which she says she’ll use to make her very first feature-length movie.

We all have an opportunity to help her do that — the winner is decided by online voting. On June 30th, at 8:30 p.m. Newfoundland time, the second-last episode of the Short Film Faceoff series will air on CBC Television. As soon as it’s over, online voting opens. But it’s only open for 24 hours.

Tell your friends, tell your employees, tell your networks. Tweet it, Facebook it, pin it, whatever. Let’s help get the word out.

Here’s a Facebook event for the voting blitz.

The Hidden Cameras: interview with Joel Gibb

    Posted on: Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The Hidden Cameras are currently on tour in Canada, with two gigs at The Rockhouse coming up during their stop in St. John’s on June 22nd and 23rd. Frontman Joel Gibb recently took some time out of his busy touring schedule to answer a few of my questions about the tour, Caramel Logs, life, and that whole “gay church folk music” thing.

How’s the tour been going so far?

We played Ottawa last weekend and it was fantastic. Westfest is a free outdoor street festival and we headlined the main stage on Friday. It was a great reunion with the band and audience.

The last time you played here, Caramel Logs were tossed out into the crowd by the dozen – I was even lucky enough to catch one. Did you know at the time that they were a local specialty? It’s kind of an obscure thing to know, and the crowd loved it. Is doing this sort of thing normal for you wherever you play?

There is no “normal” thing we do when we play. It all depends on the people and the circumstances that bring us to a certain stage.

Can you tell me about your last visit to St. John’s? I know you were in the middle of a tour, but were you here long enough to take in any of the city, meet any of the locals, try dressing and gravy on your fish and chips?

We went to the Christmas party for the weekly magazine you got there. I won movie passes to the local cinema. I still have yet to redeem my prize.

Boys of Melody appeared on the soundtrack for Shortbus, which just seemed like the perfect film to find your music in. Could you tell if this opened The Hidden Cameras up to a larger audience at all? Is appearing on soundtracks something you’re interested in, and have you had any other soundtrack experiences that you’d care to discuss?

Lots of people were exposed to the The Hidden Cameras from hearing “Boys of Melody” in Shortbus. Our music has been used many times in movies.

The tone of your music tends to be one of either whimsical joy or solemn melancholy. Your songs sort of live at the extremities of the emotional spectrum. Why do you suppose that is?

I’m a complex guy. I guess it reflects my personality. I also think music should reflect life and life is full of both joy and melancholy.

The record store clerk that first turned me onto The Hidden Cameras upon the release of The Smell of Our Own described your music using the now well known description you gave in an interview with The Advocate, “gay church folk music.” Would you still describe The Hidden Cameras this way today?

Our last record Origin:Orphan (2009) had mild traces but overall was something completely different. The new one has none.

What were your influences going into putting The Hidden Cameras together and who are you listening to now? Likewise, in what ways do you feel the band and your music have evolved over the course of the roughly ten years you’ve been playing together?

The staid music scene in Toronto from the 90s was a big influence. I wanted to do something different. Spectacle was a pillar of the band’s ethos which I think was a new thing for music in Canada.

What’s in store for listeners on the new album planned for 2013?

A much darker and more experimental affair. It’s being mixed right now….

What’s in store for fans at the Rockhouse when you play there on June 22nd and 23rd?

You’ll have to come to the gig and find out! Primarily you will see Jon and John who are from St. John’s playing bass and drums with us.

What about life turns you on?

Nature, people, food, music, sex ect.

Neat workshop alert

    Posted on: Thursday, June 14th, 2012

If you’ve been looking for an intro to film course that’s more hands-on and less “in this course we shall examine the aesthetics of film by investigating the concepts and practices that comprise the experience and interpretation of movies, based on the philosophical tradition begun by Ludwig Wittgenstein,” we’ve got news for you.

The Atlantic Studios Co-operative and the Motion Picture Lighting and Grip Equipment Supplier in Newfoundland and Labrador are presenting a series of three weekend workshops designed to introduce you to the mechanics of film production. Here’s the run-down:

SET ETIQUETTE WORKSHOP #1
DATE: Saturday JUNE 23, 2012
Prerequisite: NONE
Duration: Full Day, Includes a two part video
Location: Pope Productions, 114 Water Street, St. John’s, NL
Instructor: TBA
Cost: $25
Description: Ever wonder who does what on a film set? How the set is run? This IATSE certified workshop will prepare beginners for what to expect when they arrive on a film set. Best for individuals interested in Lighting/Grip/Camera but also for anyone wanting to work on a professional film set.
Notes: Please bring pen and paper, there will also be information hand outs

INTRODUCTION TO GRIP AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT WORKSHOP #2
DATE: Saturday JUNE 30, 2012
Prerequisite: NONE
Duration: Full Day
Location: Atlantic Studios Co-operative, Suite 102, 62-64 Pippy Place St. John’s, NL
Instructor: Karl Simmons, Key Grip
Instructor: Flora Planchat, Gaffer
Cost: $25
Description: This is an introduction to what all the motion picture gear is called and how it is used. Useful for those who want to get in the business or expand theatre skills and knowledge
Notes: Please bring pen and paper. Please wear work appropriate clothing (Jeans, closed toe footwear). There will also be information hand outs as well as The Atlantic Studios Co-operative equipment catalogue, which will be needed for Workshop # 3.

BASIC OPERATION OF GRIP AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT WORKSHOP #3
Date: Saturday & Sunday JULY 14 & 15, 2012
This Workshop involves on location operation and use of equipment.
Prerequisite: “Introduction” Workshop #2 or equivalent on-set experience.
Duration: Full Day
Location#1: Atlantic Studios Co-operative, Suite 102, 62-64 Pippy Place St. John’s, NL
Location #2 Pope Productions, 114 Water Street, inside and out.
Instructor: Karl Simmons, Key Grip
Instructor: Flora Planchat, Gaffer
Cost: $50
Description: This is a demonstration of basic configurations and use of grip and lighting equipment in situ. It includes selection, pull and loading equipment at the start of the day using the gear during the day and downloading at the end of day.
Notes: Please bring pen and paper. Please wear work appropriate clothing (Jeans, closed toe footwear). Please be prepared to go outdoors.

Workshops are open to all interested persons.
Workshop is limited to 10 people and will be filled on a first come basis.
Deadline for registration is Monday, June 18, 2012

Innarested? Email bpetrie@atlanticstudiosco-operative.ca.

Welcome to Flavour Country

    Posted on: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

I have been granted a somewhat unique perspective on food since my body doesn’t handle sugar very well. In most cases when I eat anything that is sweet or has been sweetened with sugar, I get an upset stomach, headache, my mood plummets and my saliva and blood just feel wrong.

So I avoid sugar, which means avoiding a lot of what most people tend to eat in the run of a normal day.

This has allowed me to experience what it’s like to enjoy foods for their natural flavour. My cereal consists of sprouted whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, blueberries and no-sugar-added almond milk. My salad consists of vegetables, no dressing. I don’t cook with any sauces or use them as dips.

And there’s certainly no sugar tonight in my coffee. No sugar tonight in my tea, either.

This wasn’t always the case. For a long time I didn’t understand my sugar intolerance, and even once I’d recognized it I wasn’t immediately adept at navigating its terrain. So for most of my life I’ve eaten the same things everyone else does.

What I’ve since come to realize is that most of what we add to our foods to make them taste better actually masks the food’s already great taste.

Without any real incentive to do otherwise, it’s unlikely anyone would be inclined to forgo the BBQ sauce on their grilled chicken or the balsamic on their salad, let alone all the sugar-added processed foods that line the aisles of our grocery stores.

The public’s pallet is increasingly being bombarded with more and more intense flavours from the processed food market, which only makes the prospect of enjoying natural food flavours even less likely. How can a raw tomato ever hope to compete with the latest violently-named flavour of Doritos that damn near promises to explode inside your face?

Even the bread most of us eat is unduly processed because the grains are harvested before they are allowed to sprout and then are mixed with other ingredients, including sugar, to help the bread rise and, of course, to add flavour.

These processed foods set the tone for what all food should taste like, so that when we encounter unprocessed foods the inclination is to enhance them with processed ingredients.

Leaving those processed ingredients out of your food would certainly be a more healthy choice, but I’m not even trying to make a point about what’s more healthy.

My point is simple:

Food is delicious.

From Eastern Health to Eastern Medicine

    Posted on: Monday, June 11th, 2012

Last Friday morning I awoke in the company of my arch nemesis, the viral throat infection (VTI). When the VTI comes to town, my throat closes up shop and I’m forced to weather the storm on my own since doctors have told me there’s nothing they can do; water and rest is the best western medicine can offer a person who has lost the ability to swallow anything for days, even their own saliva, due to a VTI.

But try telling that to Christa Angell. She’s a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner working out of the Avalon Laser Health Clinic who treated me for my VTI on Friday afternoon.

When I saw Christa, I was already at the point where swallowing was extremely difficult and talking was painful. The last time I visited my family doctor in this condition, I was sent home to a five day prison sentence of little to no food, drink or sleep as I lay curled in agony on my bed, unable to swallow and in intense pain.

The time before that, I went to the hospital where they hooked me up to an IV to keep me hydrated and gave me antibiotics which, as it turned out, were of no use because the infection wasn’t bacterial.

Christa, on the other hand, tailored a specific acupuncture treatment to the present and historical symptoms I was describing, the condition she observed of my throat and the readings she took from six specific regions of my pulse.

She also applied fire cupping to the areas on my throat where there was inflammation, which involved trapping a burning piece of cotton between the cup and the skin, creating a suction designed to pull toxins out to the surface. Sort of like a hickey for your health.

Above are photos I took from immediately after the cupping treatment and then the following day. The marks subside over time and are now hardly noticeable. Depending on who you ask, cupping marks can be considered quite fashionable.

I was advised to take a dietary supplement full of vitamin C and a slew of antioxidants designed to boost my glutathione levels since it cannot be absorbed directly. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant produced naturally in your body but lessens with age, lowering your immune system, metabolism and digestive functions in the process. This supplement is designed to circumvent this decrease, increasing your body’s natural ability to fight off illness.

Finally, Christa prescribed an elixir made up of ingredients she listed for me to make at home, designed to alleviate the swelling in my throat caused by the inflammation. The elixir consisted of Cong Bai (green onion), lemon juice, garlic, cayenne pepper, ginger and warm water.

I call it my magic potion. I would make a day’s worth at a time then save the rest in the fridge for future doses.

The heat from the garlic and cayenne helped encourage the inflammation to purge – like when your eyes water and your nose runs from eating something spicy, this is a good thing when you’re sick. Case in point, when you’re sick and you get symptoms like these, that’s your body’s natural defences kicking in to rid you of your illness.

The ginger is used to reduce the inflammation and relieve some of the pain, while the lemon is good for cleansing and the green onion is there to help ward off the cold or flu.

A comprehensive treatment, and a far cry from what any western medical doctor has ever tried to do for me with this condition. While Christa is a registered acupuncturist with a diploma in traditional Chinese medicine, she will be the first to tell you that you should always go to your doctor if you are sick before seeking alternative medical care. I’d done that in spades before seeing Christa so I was ready to see what traditional Chinese medicine could bring to the table.

Lo and behold, the following day my condition had improved instead of worsened. And it continued to improve throughout the weekend and into this week. I actually managed to dodge the bullet of completely losing my ability to swallow.

I can’t say definitively whether the treatment I received is fully responsible for this, if this just happened to be a weakened version of the typical VTI I normally encounter, if my body is learning to adapt to this VTI, or some combination of the three.

For many living in the west, the jury is still out on certain traditional Chinese medicine practices, and I am by no means experienced or educated enough in this area to offer any substantiated analysis on the matter.

What I do know is that after undergoing these treatments, I felt better, which has never happened to me before when entering the thralls of a VTI. That, and the treatment is 80% covered by my health insurance. So going into it, I felt like I had nothing to lose, and coming out of it, I feel like I have gained tremendously.

[Update: in the original post I wrote “Christa is not a licensed health practitioner,” which was changed to reflect the fact that she is a registered acupuncturist.]