Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 415: An Actor Prepares

I've always been a big fan of Bill Shakespeare. First play I ever did in high school was one of his. Studied him a lot. Hate how he's constantly over-analyzed. Love that he's as relevant four centuries after his death (anniversary of which was yesterday) as he was when he was still chronicling the human condition.

If I wanted to get very wealthy I'd start a religion and base its teachings on what you can learn from Bill's plays. But you'd have to be careful about that -- because there are so many ways to interpret what he (or the myriad of guys people claim actually wrote the stuff ) wrote.

And that means you'd spin off more sects and cults than all the religions so far created.

Ask any two actors how you should play any of the famous monologues and you'll get two different takes. Ask three actors and you'll get three. Four and -- well, you could go on forever. 

For me the key to Shakespeare is that he speaks to each of us on the level of our own experience. What you get out of him at any age reflects the events that got you to that age. He's the perfect barometer for how much both the actor and his/her audience have lived.

That's wonderfully expressed in this segment of last night's BBC tribute to the Bard.

Enjoy Your Sunday. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 414: You STILL Can't Handle The Truth

There have been several bewildered as well as angry accounts coming out of the USA lately about how little media time has been spent covering the Democratic Presidential Primary campaign of Bernie Sanders.

Despite winning a string of primaries and attracting overflow crowds to his speeches, Sanders can't seem to inspire any mainstream journalists to report on his apparently growing support.

With the Primary calendar moving to the New York state, Sanders supporters felt the media would have to take notice once those huge rallies started appearing in their own backyard.

But when nobody reported a gathering of tens of thousands in support of Senator Sanders in Manhattan's Washington Square, it became clear to anybody paying attention that somebody didn't want that story or those images widely distributed.

Now, depending on your political orientation, you might believe that's because the corporate media, like all capitalists, doesn't want to say nice things about a guy who hates them. Or, you might believe that the journalists covering Sanders know he doesn't have a hope of implementing any of his promises, so why bother giving him any traction.

The question I have is -- when did journalists decide that their job was to make up my mind for me? 

And we here in Canada shouldn't feel smug about how other journalists operate. Because our guys are doing the same thing.

Friday afternoon, CBC Newsworld's "Power and Politics" featured a story on how Prime Minister Trudeau had floored reporters with his insight into the world of Quantum computing. 

Host Rosemary Barton showed a clip of the PM at a Quantum conference as a reporter jokingly asked Trudeau to explain the science and then posed his more serious question about what's going on with us and ISIS.

Trudeau, like any good politician, deflected to the computing question so he didn't have to say too much about a subject he doesn't really want to talk about. 

Despite watching a fellow journalist being outflanked, Barton and her panel had a giggle and she wondered aloud what would have happened if the PM wasn't such a gadget geek.

The answer seemed straightforward to me -- in that case the story would have never run on CBC Newsworld.

And apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed the shift in principles around here...

Now, during our most recent Federal election, it became clear to those on both the Left and Right of the political spectrum that our media was enamored of Mr. Trudeau. And given the government he was running against that may be fair.

But now that they've got their Disney Prince, do they really think most of us can't see through the ongoing gush-fest?

Will we ever go back to reporting the facts and allowing the Public to decide for themselves whether the guy is up to the job or not?

A story out of Halifax this week suggests the defensive shields are fully up.

A week ago, the venerable local paper, the Chronicle Herald, produced a piece on bullying in a local school -- bullying by recent Syrian Refugee children on the kids in their school.

It suggested that maybe the local authorities had perhaps painted too rosy a picture of the new arrivals -- or that the powers that be had not truly been prepared to meet their needs.

The minute the story began to garner National interest, however, the newspaper spiked it, pulled it off its website and basically began claiming there had been no story in the first place. 

Except it seems there was. A story that's politically incorrect in our current environment.

You can find the machinations of what went on, including the Chronicle-Herald's original posting here.

And here's what you get when another reporter does some actual journalism.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 413: H Positive

The Canadian Federal Government will get around to tabling legislation on assisted dying this week. I'm sure it will be a respectful and serious debate that's probably long overdue.

The news in my local paper on the weekend, however, told the story of John Hofsess, an advocate of those facing terminal or debilitating conditions and not wishing to suffer what insults or agonies Nature might have in store wanted to exit on their own terms at a time of their choosing.

Hofsess took his own life a couple of months ago, at the same time acknowledging that he had been the one who assisted the passing of a number of Canadians including well-known poet Al Purdy.

But it seems that when Hofsess' time came, it was actually premature. He had a few good months left, but was worried the Feds might prevent him from controlling his final exit when his past was revealed, so he bumped up the departure date.

Being the kind of guy who doesn't know how to give up on anything and like the kid gifted with a pile of manure on his birthday, starts digging because "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere" -- it's not likely I'd ever opt to have a doctor usher me out the door.

And I also worry that however "humane" our government may want to appear -- we all know that this'll end up as some kind of bureaucratic process with specifically designed steps down the path to that nice farm in the country where all the dogs run and play all day. 

But what if you could choose something special as your last hurrah?

What if you could be "H-Positive"...?

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 412: Don't Be An Untold Story

I'm trying something a little different with today's Lazy Sunday post. Because I've been doing a lot of thinking about screenwriters in Canada lately and how we can improve our situation.

Some thoughts on that will arrive here in the coming days. Meantime, I'd like to prime you with some thoughts from a British band called "The Struts".

They reminded me of the energy and commitment shared by a lot of us who aspired to screenwriting (and other showbiz related) careers when I was starting out. And that was a time before writers guilds, government funding, screenwriting conferences and all the other systems of support that are now in place -- yet somehow still leave so many of our stories untold.

That's because the drive to tell those stories is supposed to come from the story-tellers first...

If it all starts with the writer, then writers must be the first to change.

More to come...

Enjoy Your Sunday.