Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 378: Takin' Care of Livestock

For a long time (and for all I know it’s still there) –- there was a lop-sided sign just off the highway as you headed north and left the urban comforts of Toronto for the countryside.
It was rough and hand-painted and said simply, “If you had something to eat today, thank a farmer”.
As a kid who grew up surrounded by farms and farmers, that sign was a constant reminder of how detached we’ve become from the land and the things our very lives depend on.
I’d bet a lot of people who live in cities have never met a farmer, let alone sat down to chew on a wheat straw and talk to one.
And farmers can tell you a lot. Not just about their daily lives and how much they care about their crops and their livestock and doing what’s best for the people who buy what they produce.
If you talk to most farmers you’ll discover their desires and concerns are not far from your own. And that they don’t put a lot of stock in all the food scares and trends that dominate the media.
One of the more interesting places to find a farmer if you don’t live near one is a website called Peterson Farm Brothers operated by three down to earth farming brothers from Kansas.
There, Greg, Nathan and Kendall Peterson, along with “honorary bro” Laura Peterson blog and engage on almost anything agricultural.
Their opinions are about as simple and basic as living on a farm. From corporate vs family farms (96% of farms are family run) to GMOs (“Over-researched”).
This is stuff that doesn’t always fit the narrative driven by the writers of Salon or the Food Network. Instead it comes straight from the horse’s mouth –- sometimes literally.
On top of all that, they sing. About farming of course. And they’re worth a listen there too.
Take a few minutes to visit the country and…
Enjoy Your Sunday.

Or – to the tune of Katy Perry’s “Roar”…

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pool Report: Sevens

Image result for sevens slots

It just doesn’t get any better than this. Two Game Sevens to determine who meets next week to vie for the Stanley Cup.

New York/Tampa and Anaheim/Chicago have produced both fabulously close games and utterly one-sided fiascos that make picking the ultimate winners nigh on impossible.

If you’re a fan of one of these teams, of course you have a rooting interest. But for most of us – “Don’t care! Just want to see them go at it”.

The reality of any Game Seven is that anybody can win. One weird bounce and even the lowest member of the fourth line can become an instant hero.

This is gonna be a fun weekend.

Come Monday we’ll know who’s meeting who for the Cup and who among our Poolies still has a shot at the title.

We’ll also be debuting this season’s Props Contest, giving everybody a second chance at sharing some of the glory.

And as we go into the final periods of Round Three, Will Dixon still holds a commanding lead. (Uncle Willis loves it when I append his name with words like “commanding”)

Chris Sheasgreen hangs in at second with Wil Zmak a distant but persistent third. I’m thinking the podium won’t change over the weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pool Report: I Slept In

Allow me to explain last week’s absence.

I decided to wait until Anaheim and Chicago had played Game Two last Monday night so there’d be some kind of balance in the number of games being tallied in the pool standings from each series.

And then that game went to Triple overtime which meant that I slept in on Tuesday. And then I figured, “Okay, so I’ll only do one report this week” and then they went to double overtime on Thursday  night so I slept in again and missed that one and…

Well, it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway, since Will Dixon used last week to just kept pulling away from the rest of us. Has ANYBODY ever had this kind of lead in this pool?

I’d be on the verge of declaring him our 2015 Champ except there’s the possibility Anaheim might win one of these marathon barn-burners or Ben Bishop might take another puck to the nuts putting Uncle Willis in a tailspin.

Stranger things have happened around here.

So don’t give up hope, guys –- except for me, Brooks and Pascoe. We can all go concentrate on scaring up Italian-Armenian co-pros or something.

The standings as Round Three gets down to “Best of Three” series in both divisions – Will Dixon continues to lead with Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak giving chase.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 377: The Selfie

Some social media memes utterly escape me. Taking pictures of your feet or whatever you’re about to eat are part of that list. But topping them is the Selfie.

Surprising as it might be to Millennials and their overlapping generations, taking a picture of yourself with your own phone is not something new.

There are some who believe the first Selfie was taken by five New York photographers on the roof of the Marceau studio in 1920.


And if they weren’t the first, my dad was sometime in the 1950’s.

The last day of any family vacation was always marked by taking a photograph of all of us together. Whether we were camping, visiting some natural or historic site or simply hanging with relatives, the final day did not proceed until the photo had been taken.

But first, like Sundays before church, we all had to get scrubbed and dressed in the best clothing we had with us. As if anybody believed my brothers and I went fishing in a jacket and tie.

Then we’d find a location that had been selected as the high point of said vacation. Might be a landmark or landscape that immediately identified our location. Or it might just be grandma’s house from an angle showing off the fresh coat of paint.

Then my dad would set his camera on the hood of the car, push the delayed shutter switch and hustle around to join us before the 10 second delay was up.

Usually this took two or three tries because nobody was ever sure if the shutter had actually clicked or the framing had included all of us.

But it was still technically a “selfie”.

And yet the Selfie has become today’s most popular use of digital cameras. I’m not sure why. Perhaps, as this study reports, it has something to do with those who are insecure or narcissistic being the most active on social media.

Whatever the reason, we’re now inundated with accessories to make Selfie production even easier. Although, they don’t come without some unwanted side effects.

I can only imagine one of these in my father’s hands…

Please Selfie Responsibly.

And Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 376: Earthrise

It is said of great photography – “It’s not when you press the shutter, but why you press the shutter”, implying that what makes a photo memorable is less its quality and uniqueness than its ability to touch something in the human soul.

Likewise, any wise film director grants his cinematographer the right to “print” a take that might not be deemed worthy on the set. And often in the edit suite, that unnoticed something extra reveals itself to all watching as the take you want to use.

We all have iconic photos that speak to us. But on Christmas Eve, 1968 a photo was taken which continues to astonish all who see it for the first time.

It was an image no human being had ever seen before. An image which transferred all our individual beliefs, dreams and tribulations into a different perspective.

And now, NASA technology has allowed us to experience that moment as if we were those who first saw it.

It’s an extraordinary moment.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pool Report: Round Three

As my own pool picks dropped from my roster, all I could think about was – “Damn, this next round is going to be a doozie”!

Chicago-Anaheim, seriously? The two most talented teams in the West. Raw power vs steely consistency. It could well be one for the ages.

To the East, New York takes on Tampa. A team of deadly snipers taking on one built to defend.

Fireworks from coast to coast. As it should be.

In the Pool, Will Dixon retains his lead as Round Three begins with Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak in tow.

But there are a couple of other players with rosters that could overcome all of them.

The standings as we await tomorrow’s start of Round Three:


Monday, May 11, 2015

Pool Report: Orange Crush


Last week, the NDP unleashed what it called the “Orange Crush” on Alberta. Last night, Anaheim delivered their version.

Calgary were never really in this series. But it afforded a lot of their fans a distraction from having to pack up the F-150 and head off in search of a city with some jobs.

On The East coast, both New York and Montreal staved off elimination, delaying the CBC Sports job cuts that will inevitably follow the demise of any future Habs games.

And if you read what sports insiders have to say, that gaping arena set Rogers built for their hockey broadcasts might look a lot emptier come the Fall as well.

But Will Dixon isn’t concerned, counting as he is on living large from his Pool winnings. But Chris Sheasgreen has halved the distance between them and Wil Zmak is hanging in there as well.

By the time we report on Friday, the Second Round will be over and the picture of who has a chance and who’s become redundant will be clearer. Until then –- the standings:


And to lighten the mood for those disheartened by the performance of Calgary or their own pool picks, here’s a video submitted by former pool player Allan Eastman.

Allan isn’t playing this year, distracted as he is by the pending suspension of Tom Brady. But it’s a subtle reminder that even the best of us let the game get to us from time to time.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 375: What Moms Think About

For all Moms still here to hug or lovingly held in memory – Happy Mothers Day…

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Pool Report: Go Home, Minnesota! You’re drunk!

Minnesota Wild defenceman Ryan Suter watches as Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell celebrates after Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane scores during the third period of Game 4 in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs, Thursday, May 7, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn.

In the last week and a half, I’ve built a fence, hung ducts and drywall and hammered in a hardwood floor. During the same period, the Minnesota Wild couldn’t manage to win ONE hockey game!

I believed in these guys, saw how they manhandled most of the West during this season and figured they’d easily take apart the perennially choking St. Louis Blues.

I also thought they’d have a tough time with Chicago but push it to six or seven and with the right bounces might even prevail.

I was wrong.

And now they head off to Vegas and Pebble Beach while I begin my slow slide down the standings in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

Jeez, even New York and Montreal have managed to win a hockey game!

Will Dixon, meanwhile, hangs on to his sizeable –- LEAD. My God, Willis, what did you think I was going to say?

Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak give chase. Followed by that idiot who picked so many skaters from Minnesota and Barry Keifl, who now begins his inevitable climb toward the podium.

Gawd, I hate the Second Round.


Monday, May 04, 2015

Pool Report: Will Dixon Has A Good Night

If you’ve got Brandon Prust in your pool, I believe you can cross him off right now, even with at least (and probably at most) two games remaining in the Montreal/Tampa series.

The NHL operates pretty much on the Vegas model -– “What’s said on the ice, stays on the ice”. And even if the dealer was cheating, it’s your problem.

It’s become clear that the one team Montreal couldn’t beat all season isn’t likely to give one up now that the stakes are so high. That might be best for the “Centre Bell Centre” since it’ll take a while to clear the stench from that place after last night’s Habs performance.

On CBC, Strombo looked like he’d just heard the Ghomeshi news all over again.

At the opposite end of Prust’s bad night was Will Dixon’s sensational one. Twenty points for Uncle Willis over the weekend shoots him to the top of The Infamous Writers Hockey Pool, the first time anyone has piled up such a substantial lead so quickly.

Chris Sheasgreen and Will Zmak are giving chase. But it’ll take something spectacular to knock the Sage of Saskatchewan from his perch.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Lazy Sunday #374: Roar


Those who follow this blog know that I’m not a fan of our government funded film industry, believing it has done more to hamstring than help Canadian Creatives.

Over the last few months, the passing of two close friends has strengthened that belief. One, a screenwriter, left behind unproduced scripts superior to the vast majority of films this country has produced in the last few decades. Unproduced simply because their setting or content didn’t mesh with the mandates of Telefilm or the CMF.

The other was a lovely and talented actress, forced from this country (as so many are) by a lack of opportunity and a dearth of producers capable of recognizing and exploiting real star quality.

And while no production system is perfect, it should be clear from Canada’s track record, especially when compared with countries of similar or smaller populations, that the one we use doesn’t work.

Put simply, if you want to do something worthwhile in this country, it might be better to forget about filling out government forms and just do it yourself.

Not long ago, I suggested here that you couldn’t go far wrong supporting a crowd-funding campaign started by Vancouver filmmakers Stuart Langfield and Dylan Rekert.

Apparently, some of you saw what I saw in these guys. Because less than 24 hours after that post went up they had secured their funding.

Langfield is an animator by trade and Rekert a graphic designer. Jobs both describe as fall back positions that supported earlier attempts at becoming filmmakers.

Last year, they decided to write a script without considering what was possible, ignoring budget, technical restrictions, etc. and just set out to write what they wanted.

Fuelled by what they felt was a lack of subtlety in current genres, they set out to find that sweet spot where Sci-Fi connects on a personal level and resonates emotionally. 5 or 6 drafts later, they had a finished script that Kickstarter transformed into a reality.

“ROAR” was shot over three days last summer with all the effects accomplished in camera.

The film was submitted to Vimeo where it became an immediate Staff Pick –- a high honor when you consider the thousands of hours submitted to that streaming site on a weekly basis.

And now Langfield and Rekert have set to work to expand on the world they have created and see where they can take it.

Without government bureaucrats and minions overseeing them (my opinion alone –- don’t take it out on these guys, Telefilm), I think they’re in for a rewarding ride. And I’m sure you’ll agree once you take a few minutes to see their work.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

ROAR from Stuart Langfield on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Pool Report: Round Two

I know this is a day late. But I lost a day in the ER getting stitched up so I’m behind on everything this week.

I told the doc I didn’t need any freezing. He could just do it like we were both at the bench in the playoffs. He allowed that was okay with him as long as I could get PK Subban to slam me in the boards for 20 minutes first to get my adrenaline up.

We settled on numbing the pain.

I don’t think much will numb the pain that’s coming for fans in Calgary this week. Their game one with Anaheim was brutal to watch. And I imagine every deppaneur in Montreal is out of Aspirin this morning. “Deux avec Pepsi, s’ils vous plait”.

But there will be survivors, including those hobbled but proud within the ranks of The Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

Will Dixon has once again regained the lead with Wil Zmak shooting past me for 2nd place. At the bottom of the pile, Will Pascoe has made Mark Leiren-Young a very happy man.

The standings after Game Ones across the 2nd round…