Growing Your Own Stash

Bill C-45 l will allow households to grow up to four plants for personal consumption. Steve Cook, owner of Jon’s Plant Factory in Burnaby explains some of the options available to aspiring cannabis cultivators.

First thing you’re going to want to do, when you’re thinking about growing, find out what kind of space you have in your home to do it. Something that would be out of the way — not too cold or not too hot. And then from there you’d determine the size of the grow area you need, and with that you would figure out the size of light, cooling system and how big your plants are going to get.

Hydroponic and growing equipment is widely available across the lower mainland. Experts do advise to have your personal grow operation done properly with plumbing and wiring completed to code. For Evolution 1079, I’m Chris Pratap.

PETA Warns Against Fireworks

Halloween is the one time of the year that residents of Greater Vancouver get to enjoy homemade pyrotechnics, but a letter from PETA, to the City of Vancouver, warns of the consequences to pets and local wildlife. Maureen Binnie, of the Critter Care Wildlife Society explains:

Whether its wildlife or domestic wildlife, a bang like that is hard for them. It just charges them to run, they don’t know what direction they could go in to and it could probably cause injury.

 

To date, no formal decision or response has been made by the City of Vancouver in regards to PETA’s letter. For Evolution 1079, I’m Chris Pratap.

 

Calgary Fatalities Signal Smoke to Surrey

Surrey residents have a lot to think about as they head into the upcoming mayoral election on October 20th. With two recent fatalities caused by Calgary’s light rail system. Many residents are questioning if the city should be reconsidering its options for an above ground skytrain alternative. Tom Ewasiuk, campaign manager for Proudly Surrey, weighs in on their party stance:

Proudly Surrey reaffirms its commit to going ahead with phase one of the LRT, inspite of the recent deaths in Calgary. We feel that we should halt progress and if we always thought like that we wouldn’t have automobiles now.

The first stage of Surrey’s LRT route has been approved but its only phase one of an aggressive 10 year expansion project. For Evolution 1079, I’m Chris Pratap.

Unchartered Territory for Cannabis Retailers

Many local pot businesses are preparing for new uncharted territory. Canada’s new Cannabis act goes into effect on October 17th. Bill C-45 will legalize recreational consumption for users but critics still question the role of sellers and producers in this new market. Justin Molinari, General Manager of Apollo Medical Dispensaries explains the challenges facing retailers.

Bill C 45 has been tough for us. We’ve been forced to close our doors and wait for the government to issue licences, with the threat of being banned from operating our retail locations if we do not comply.

Some dispensaries have begun applying clearance sales to unregulated inventory, while others are refusing to take product of the shelves. For Evolution 1079, I’m Chris Pratap.

I’ll Take Kim’s Convenience Over a Spike Lee Joint?!!

As a person of colour, I’m pretty skeptical of any shows that try to run on any kind of racial theme. I feel like they never get it right. Way too often, I’ve let my guard down and come out disappointed, and I don’t need need to go that far back to bring up the last example. I was crushed after watching Spike Lee’s Blackkklansmen. I went in expecting a Spike Lee joint. I wanted the same energy and excitement I got from seeing Radio Raheem on screen for the first time. Instead of seeing something original and creative, I got beat with that overwhelming sense of pandering.

I want to consume content that doesn’t make me feel like a token. I don’t want to feel like a message of equality is being shoved down my throat; I’d rather it that effect come organically. It’s that same desire that left me really impressed with Kim’s Convenience. I don’t feel pandered to. The characters aren’t just Korean for the sake of being Korean. Each character over the last two season has gone through a fair bit of development and they feel rounded out. I think thats the difference between genuinely caring about a character or just turning something on to occupy your mind. The writers for Kim’s Convenience have also done a great job of exploring the first and second generation immigrant experience in a way that feels organic. It isn’t just Apu getting a taste of Rock n Roll for the sake of comedy.

 

Why you still wanna be like George…

The name is Shrinks, George Shrinks.. Every man-child or woman-girl, has a penchant for cartoons and not just cartoons from their era. I remember coming home from nights of getting completely obliterated and hopping on the couch next to my brothers for morning cartoons. It’s fun to get lost in animated world where the impossible is possible once again, because (as we know) those moments of fancy get beaten out of us by the real world.

George Shrinks was everything fun about cartoon wrapped into one show, and I can still watch an episode without succumbing to the slightest bit of boredom. What more do you want from a cartoon? George was a G! I was just starting to enjoy the luxuries of my drinking age, but all I wanted to be was a little more like George. I still want to be like George.

Lets run this down like it’s an episode of Cribs. This is how George rolls:

  • The Zooper Car – This car transforms into a boat and a plane, and is also capable of autonomous operation (before Apple or Google)
  • Every week George lived out an epic adventure, that would put Bond to shame
  • His parents are both artist and are always super enthused and supportive of George’s antics
  • He has these Dr. Doolittle like relationships with insects and animals (minus one Sparkle Tangerine)
  • His life is a constant death defying endeavour (life is tough when you’re three inches tall)

If you still aren’t impressed after reading that list, just remember that George had did all of that while starring in a two season run.

The Man of a Thousand Costumes

How difficult is it to deliver on 15 minutes of content? Any creative who’s worked with deadlines knows how tough it is to deliver piece of creative content consistently and on a schedule. The brain doesn’t naturally flow that way. It want’s to stay fixated on whatever has its immediate interest at the time. Just think of the last time you encountered anything that changed your mind or delighted it with a new of thinking about something. How long did it consume your thought?

For a creative, our best work comes when we have the time to ruminate on an idea or concept. If we take our time and examine every angle, we eventually come away with enough to deliver on work that we can take pride in. The creative process is something that can’t always be rushed, if we’re going to deliver something meaningful. It’s that reasoning, that makes the career of Ernie Coombs so astonishing. For decades, Coombs (better known as his title character Mr. Dressup) entertained children on a show largely guided by his imagination and ingenuity.

Every episode follow a plot of exploring one fundamental concept that by his own standard needed to educate, entertain and spark the imaginations of the children watching Mr. Dressup. Coombs. As impressive as it is to run a nationally broadcasted show, consider the fact that the majority of episodes featured only him and a handful of puppets. He wasn’t just engineering an entire show and starring in it, he had to carry every episode aided largely by puppets. Ernie Coombs wasn’t just a philanthropic onscreen personality, but a brilliant creative mind who helped pioneer children’s programing in Canada.

Skin for Skin: 15 Minutes Recipe for the End of Times

In its own words, Skin for Skin is a dark allegory of greed and spiritual reckoning. The animated short by Carol Beecher and Kevin D.A. Kurytnik is set in the early days of Canada’s colonial history, and centres its focus on the fur trade. Normally I don’t give enough time or attention to short film, because I’m usually left feeling unsatisfied. Most times the subject matter at the heart of the story isn’t explored thoroughly, or the crunch for time leads to holes in the story line. There are also times, but far less frequent, that a short film is wonderfully entertaining and complete, but I’m still left feeling like I haven’t heard the whole story. It’s this “to be continued” moment, where you as the viewer know deep down that it will never be continued.

 

What Skin for Skin manages to accomplish, without any substantial character dialogue, is nothing short of amazing. The entire short plays out with metaphoric animated visuals that guide a viewer from thought to thought with surprising ease. No need for skilled oration or characters interacting with setting or conflict solely for the benefit of keeping you abreast of the plot.

In fifteen minutes, practically free from dialogue, Beecher and Kurytnik shatters the tidy, PG image perpetuated in every social studies class and Hudson’s Bay origin commercial. It expertly sets the table for that early interaction between colonial power and the west as the seeds of destruction we have today in the form of climate change and extinction. As the winner of 2017’s Best Short Film (Live Action or Animated) and a recipient of Oscar qualification status, Skin for Skin is unquestionably worth the fifteen minute investment. You can watch it for free on the NFB website and I’ve included the link below.

Streamed Version: https://www.nfb.ca/film/skin_for_skin/

Canada’s New TV & Film Hub

What is the life of an actor in Canada’s newly minted film and television hub? I was surprised to learn, early this year, that BC had taken the top spot as the capital of film and television in Canada. According to the Canadian Media Producers Association, BC surpassed Ontario in terms of dollars spent on media production in 2017 with a volume of $2.99 billion, compared to Ontario’s $2.97 billion.  

There are tonnes of implications that come from the additional money being added into the provincial coffers. A lot of the money brought in through film and television gets spent on infrastructure and it supports communities in smaller towns outside of the metro Vancouver area through trickle down economics. All the buzz in this sector will attract a lot of students eyeing it as a potential field of interest and some younger professionals looking to for a career change.  

We’ve all been exposed to the trials and tribulations of young actors heading to Hollywood, looking to make their way — it’s been played out in countless movies and shows. Have you ever wondered what it’s like for the working creative here in Vancouver? It’s full of emotional and financial hurdles, just like any other industry, but its different hearing it from some of our own.

Early this year, a group of students (myself included) produced a documentary interviewing some local actors who make a living navigating Vancouver’s film and television industry. If you’d like to more, you can listen to the documentary here:  

Canadian Actress Fight Club

Clubs are very popular in Canada. We drink Canadian Club, we eat turkey clubs, and we go to clubs. Our connection to clubs runs about as deep as ancient aliens and pyramids. So this week, since I’ve been trusted with giving you the most crucial takes on Canadian film and television, I am giving you my take on Canada’s toughest female actresses. For simplicity and clarity, I am instituting three simple rules:

 

  • Each actress must be born in Canada
  • The rules of engagement they are being measured on, is a Fight Club scenario
  • Only actresses under the age of 50 (only because I didn’t want a list where Kim Catrall took all three spots)

 

Taking the third spot and rounding out the bottom of our short list is Rachel McAdams. Hailing from London, Ontario, the 39 year-old actress brings the grit and savvy of a seasoned veteran. Her previous roles as a tough cop in True Detective and as an ER Doc in Dr. Strange, have taught her where and how to make it hurt.

Elisha Cuthbert takes the silver medal among our contenders. It is true that Elisha’s career has cooled off in the last few years, but deep below lies a young Popular Mechanics for Kids star that is hungry to prove herself. She’s developed nerves of steel from her time saving the free world from anarchy on 24, and countless rejections from movie auditions. What can I say? I love an underdog story.

At the top spot, staking her claim as undisputed champion, is Ellen Page. At four-foot-nine dont let this pint sized thespian’s small frame full you. She has fought off a child predator in Hard Candy, morning sickness in Juno, and the mutant apocalypse in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Page takes the mental edge over our other contenders as she can, just as easily, break you down mentally, with her razor sharp wit.

The Hilarious House of Frightenstein

Deep in the archives and annals of television fame lies a 131 episode gem of Canadian sketch comedy. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (which will be referred to from this point on as THHF) was this wonderful mish-mash show of horror comedy, The Kids In The Hall and Mr. Dressup. The show featured a group of skilled actors and comedians, who played multiple roles from a ne’er-do-well Dracula, to a wannabe celebrity chef, witch. But, as crazy and kooky as THHF ever was, its impetus seemed to act as a challenge to anything its writers could even come up with.

On what I like to imaging to be a chilly Toronto evening, barricaded away from the whipping winds inside the Windsor Arms Hotel, Riff Markowitz entertained a group of creative friends over a champagne and spaghetti dinner. Riff had a seed in his head — just an initial concept for a variety show. Over the course of that evening, drowned in tomato sauce and champagne, Markowitz spear-headed a brainstorming session that eventually led to the creation of THHF.

Horror comedy wasn’t a new genre in 70’s but Markowitz and his friends managed to create something that felt uniquely Canadian. The show was this sincere exercise from a group of actors that wanted to entertain, experiment and educate a young audience without compromising. They’d play on common tropes and beat them to death in a way that just worked. In one scene you’d have a psychedelic, groovy, werewolf radio DJ staring deadpan into the camera as he dishing it up with callers, and in another you would have an actual professor lecturing a simple concept of physics.

When I look at episodes now, I laugh and marvel at the shows lunacy and uniqueness. I mean, how does the professor get thrown into Frightenstein’s house? Is he renting a room and tutoring for supplemental income. Is the wolfman spinning tracks from the dungeon in the tower? And if that isn’t enough to get you curious… Vincent Price did their intros!

What if Friends was set in Vancouver?

My mind can be aimless, wandering and full of hypothetical answers to the hypothetical questions that no one asked. Sometimes you have to create opportunity for yourself. So I thought I would answer a crucial hypothetical question, that to my knowledge, has never been asked: What would Friends be like if it was set in Vancouver?

For the sake of simplicity, and to leave room perhaps for a much anticipated follow up article, I’m going to limit my scope to just the characters of Friends.

Phoebe: Would live in Kitsilano where she’d share a two bedroom low apartment with four people. She could keep the guitar… but she’d be a work from home massage therapist who supplements her income by catching shifts at Bean Around The World.

 

Joey: Same struggling actor, but swap the Brooklyn Italian factor for a club promoter/temp service regular with a saggy toque and deep neck vee.

Chandler: No changes, because let’s face it, what’s more Vancouver than a self loathing, sarcastic, young urban professional?

 

Rachel: Four years removed from an business degree, but she would still have no real business experience. She spends her weekends brunching in Yaletown patios and doing coke in Yaletown  washrooms.

 

Monica: Frequents the art gallery but only so she can cross it off the list. Makes a full scale brunch on Sundays, after hours of internet research, only to complain that Rachel didn’t show up.

 

That would be my Vancouver lineup of friends, and after reading through my article it’s probably a good thing that it was set in New York.

Growing up on YTV

Childhoods are synonymous with TV and children’s programing. Childhood as a Canadian is synonymous with YTV. From its inception in the late 80’s, YTV has consistently churned out a bevy of top quality children’s programming. For over thirty years now, it’s been this creative hub that has managed to pump out show after show of original, creative and engaging content.

One could argue that the true measure of a great show, is it’s ability to entertain across generations at a single time (by that i mean, that a parent, grandparent, and child, can sit and watch a show together). Dexter’s Laboratory, Reboot, Freaky Stories, and Rugrats are some of the shows that made its home for Canadian viewers on YTV. They all melded kid friendly graphics, adventure, and ample innuendos towards adult-life complications. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same recipe used by Pixar and Disney to draw their massive audiences.

That’s why YTV is so entrenched in our childhood years. They spent years bringing in the best and leading programing from Canadian and US studios. It was also this safe place for parents to park their kids because they knew what they were getting. It was alright for the kids to watch because it was also alright for them to watch.

The Master of Body Horror

I devour information about the study of phobias. My personal favourite, but not an actual fear of mine, is Trypophobia: the fear of holes. I’ll also gladly dive, five minutes down a Youtube hole about anything relating to mysophobia (the fear of germs), or carcinophobia (the fear of cancer). There’s an elemental factor at the base of each of them, but the real fun part is developing your own theories about its psychological/evolutionary root. I’m the exact same way when it comes to a really good horror flick.

Horror movies jab at our fears and anxieties of unknown malevolent forces or aspects of mechanisation and technology. There’s another genre of horror centered on the human body. Body horror shows the graphic depiction of destruction and degeneration of the human form.

Since the 1970’s no one has done body horror better than Canadian filmmaker, David Cronenberg. He’s considered one of the architects of the body horror genre, and if you’ve ever watched The Fly you’d be amazed at how effective it is, considering it was made in the eighties.

The reason that The Fly and Shivers still hold their own in modern horror cinema, is Cronenberg’s skill at manipulating our most basic fears. His movies blended aspects of the unknown, with famine and plague, and bits of humour.

Horror is my favourite film genre. I’ll watch a cheesy low budget horror movie over a high budget rom-com any day. It makes me happy that everytime I want a low fuss, nostalgia laden horror movie, I can turn on something from a Canadian Master.

Women roar loud at VIFF

The Vancouver International Film Festival seems to function as an echo chamber for our current mood and emotional climate. In the last couple of years we’ve been presented with films that touch on our societal concerns about the environment, racism and religious schisms. It serves this dual function of exposing minds to the different cultural dialogues of our time, while also being an outlet for cathartic release to work through, even if it is momentarily.

It should be no surprise then, that this year’s VIFF lineup has a strong offering of independent films showcasing strong female leads and the unique experiences from their corner of the world. In our corner of the world this past year, we’ve seen an erosion in terms of gender and race relations, and I think that’s why this years movies are so important.

 

There are two movies in particular, from different corners of the world, that I’d recommend to anyone feeling disillusioned by the current (seemingly un-dying) media cycle we’re stuck in. Carmen and Lola, tells a coming of age story about a lesbian Romani teen finding her way in the strict patriarchal culture of the Romani in Spain. The second story, The Seen and Unseen from director Kamila Andini centres around Indonesian twin sisters exploring their Javanese roots through the memories and teachings of their father. The movie plays out like a fantasy tale is firmly rooted in real life drama as they deal with family tragedy and delve into rich Javanese mythology.

For a complete listing of films put on by the VIFF, you can visit them at: https://www.viff.org/

Two Scoops of Canadiana on the Big Screen

I feel a little silly when I get involved in any conversation centring around the Canadian film and television scene. I’m largely ill-informed, comparatively, and because to me, it’s all the same. You can keep reading this article because aside from that concession, I do have a point to make. Most of the productions in the city are from American media companies and a large portion of the top billing talent are as well. Most of the profits from those movies and shows make their way back there, too.

When I see shows like The Killing, that are filmed in Vancouver but sold off as some Washington or Oregon town, I feel the hometown pride slowly drain from my being. Why isn’t Vancouver special? And by some extension that makes perfect sense to me, are they saying that I’m not special?


So if, you like to find self validation in movies and TV shows like I do, get ready for two big spoon fulls of Canadiana on the big screen! Fans of Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach have been swooning since the summer, when it was announced that the award winning book would be adapted and brought to the big screen.

The importance of this movie can’t be downplayed in any context. It a book written by a first nations author, set (and actually filmed) in Kitimat and it will star Canadian First Nations actors, Adam Beach and Kate Dove. It should also be said, without spoiling anything, the mix of supernatural and bittersweet moments in the book, will really make for something special on screen.  

Twilight Zone – “Peele”-ing back on modern society

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Those iconic words are instantly recognizable by the true TV buff and old viewers of The Twilight Zone. The show was the brainchild of screenwriter and producer, Rod Serling and it played with elements of fantasy, science fiction, sensory perception and the occult. It was this surreal blend of cooky and weird that always succeed in doing the one thing that we really want from a TV show: It allowed us to suspend our disbelief and immerse ourselves in a story.

Serling used the show to prop up analogies of societal foibles and anxieties pervasive in the 1960’s. Some episodes would touch on racial equality, gender relations and uncertainties around the advancement of technology.  Anything that gripped public attention was fodder for Serling’s commentary. The Twilight Zone was a masterpiece of television content and I was thrilled when the news came out that a reboot helmed by Jordan Peele would begin filming in Vancouver this October.  After winning the academy award for best original screenplay for Get Out, Peele has the chops and the pedigree to take on the highly anticipated project.

CBS had originally planned the reboot with director Bryan Singer of the X-Men franchise, but fans seem pleased with it’s change of direction. Peele has stated a desire to remain true to Serling’s original premise and purpose. Considering his diverse background in comedy, drama and horror, I’m more interested in how he’ll elevate the series to a place that I believe Bryan Singer never could.