Writing Faith Workshop begins, Feb 10, 5-8pm, Whitehorse United Church

  How do you write about your “faith”?  How do you describe the indescribable, the ineffable, the otherworldly? the grief or joy or miracle or peace or disappointment that you have because of your faith?  Everyone can argue about the value or lack of value in “religion”–and it’s an easy connect-the-dots to create your own pictures of what organized religion has done in the world.  It’s harder to write about personal faith or your personal interactions with religion–what keeps you going, what happened to you that you know no one would believe, about the anguish of trying to live in a real, faulty, fragile world, when others ask you to strive for peace, patience, happiness, even joy.

This writing workshop will explore how people write about these very personal experiences, or their thoughts about faith and religion and its very real presence in their lives, or the lives of those around them.  We’ve had students write about their relationships with their parents, their children, their grandchildren, experiences in nature, in confronting others who aren’t on the same page.  We have had students who are believers, non-believers, unsure, people of various faiths.  All faiths are welcome–come with what’s important to you, open to what is important to others. This isn’t a dogma class.  It’s not a class to teach you from the top down.  It’s for you to teach us from the ground up through your experiences, your writing.

Continue reading

The Guild’s Boston Marriage witty, fun, screamin’ good

Last Friday night I was banned from the Guild’s front row if I wear red and come to a comedy.  I couldn’t control myself.  The play is way too funny for me, and so I was laughing–and I plead my case to Artsnet.  Sometimes, laughing is uncontrollable. What is controllable, I’ll admit, is the color I’m wearing and where I sit.  But I was running late, and the front row has fantastic leg room.  I had no idea that I might be distracting to the actresses pulling off this coup of a play.  I certainly couldn’t tell; they were very professional at hiding their laughter.

Let me back up:
Photo by Cathie Archbould

Friday evening, through with a long string of shows at YAC, I got to go on a mini-vacation.  I went to Boston Marriage at the Guild.  You’d think you’d be “show”ed out, with all the cool things happening in Whitehorse, but Boston Marriage doesn’t feel as if you’ve gone to a show.  It feels like someone snuck you into someone else’s living room to watch.  And it’s refreshing and touching and funny.

The Guild, after a few plays where characters yell at each other, comes up with a love story, where the leads may bicker at each other a bit, but who resoundly care for each other at their heart–and their sniping isn’t just regular sniping.  It’s David Mamet sniping.  That’s like the Caviar of sniping.  Okay, for comparison, Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was hot salsa sniping. Sharp, angled, hook-like and a bit cruel.  Mamet’s language is so rich and perfect–it tastes way too expensive for your mouth (which is why hearing it from Katherine McCallum and Moira Sauer makes it even funnier–they know how to wrap their tongues around every word-morsel).

So I laughed, and laughed and laughed…(cringing) and couldn’t stop.  I was surprised that they didn’t stop the play to let me finish.  But they couldn’t–and when they went on, well, it compounded the laughter–and now I was laughing at new stuff, on top of the previous funny lines, and my laughter got worse.  I was very lucky I didn’t pass out, though I think Moira and Katherine both probably would have liked it if I lost just a teensy bit of oxgyen along the way.  Not that I ever covered up a line.  Not that I ever was so loud others couldn’t hear the jokes.  In fact, in FACT, others were laughing just as much as I was.  (But, they weren’t wearing red and they were sitting farther away–hence a more acceptable laughter.)  The whole room shook like puppies in Christmas box.

Continue reading

Dancing Bears on Main Street, Whitehorse: Sarah MacDougall, The Greatest Ones Alive

So, I’ve always wanted to be a bear.  Sarah MacDougall’s album, The Greatest Ones Alive, is being released at the Yukon Arts Centre on Saturday, Nov 12, and Erin and I decided to promote the album by being the dancing bears on the cover of her album.

Costumes rented, we danced up and down Main Street.  We had a great time.  Sarah MacDougall was there, and captured us in a video and put us dancing to her beautiful song, “Sometimes You Lose, Sometimes You Win.”

I already love her CD.  And I was already looking forward to seeing her live in concert.  Now I feel deeply honoured to be part of her VIDEO!!  And I get to be the bear I always wanted to be. I think I was born to be a mascot–what do you think??

Tickets are still available (667-8574, box office).

I would go on and on about a) her music, and b) the existential moment of being a bear, but I’ll let you watch the video instead.

 

Find Sarah MacDougall’s CD, The Greatest Ones Alive here.

Continue reading

Raven Ordering McDonald’s Drive-Thru: the Yukon has Smart Wildlife

Raven ordering McDonald's Drive-thru, photo by Jerome Stueart

Check out this photo taken yesterday, October 21, outside of the Whitehorse McDonald’s.  Ravens are getting so smart they’re ordering through the drive-thru. The Yukon has very smart wildlife. 

Of course, I’m not sure what this says about McDonald’s food considering what ravens eat. 

Check out this guy’s expression as he realizes what the raven is doing…

Gross Heart: Much to Love about Mump and Smoot

Canadian clowns, Mump and Smoot (with Thug), were in Whitehorse tonight in a revival of their first show together, Something.  I was led to believe it was going to be scary, or disturbing--but these were not scary clowns.  While there are some grotesque moments, there’s a charming show beneath the grossness.  It stems from the deep friendship between characters Mump and Smoot, developed more than twenty years ago by John Turner and Micheal Kennard.

On stage, there is a sense that Mump, a bit rule-bound and dictatorial, is trying to be a mentor to Smoot, or a father-figure.  Smoot, on the other hand, is young, innocent, full of whim, silly even, more uncontrollable–like a child.  His voice even sounds a bit like Elmo from Sesame Street, though he can easily scowl at the audience and berate them just as much as Mump.  But the two clowns cry together, miss each other, play together, and are true friends–even if they play doctor and (unintentionally) hurt each other.  It’s not Laurel and Hardy I think of but Abbot and Costello.  Or even George and Gracie.

Our audience was completely charmed by these two–and I laughed through the whole thing—there’s really only a few moments that you can stop laughing.  Sometimes you are laughing at what the clowns are doing to other members of the audience.  The Audience serves as the fourth member of the show, and completely unpredictable.  John and Mike, afterwards in the talkback, referred to what the Audience does at their shows, as “gifts.”  They don’t know how the audience will react, but they take whatever the audience does and uses it in the show.  This is why the show is different every night.  Sure there are several “acts” they go through–but the audience determines paths they will take in the act.

Yes, there are some grotesque moments, but comedy and the grotesque have often gone together.  Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein comes to mind as comedy exploring inside Horror.  We all still laugh–in fact fear makes us want to laugh all the more.  Movies that play with death, or that use a dead body as a running gag, or that find humor in zombies (see Sean of the Dead). Saturday Night Live’s spoof on Julia Child severing her own finger while doing a live cooking show–this is what they mean by grotesque, or even horror.  Mump and Smoot really don’t go beyond that barrier towards horror.  There is nothing so realistic that it makes you gag.  Thug, played by Candice, is perhaps the scariest of the three, and she doesn’t say a thing–which is why she’s kinda scary.  She’s completely unpredictable.

Continue reading

The Other “Hijacked Airliner” Story: Whitehorse, Yukon 9/11

It was the only airplane to emit a hijacked signal on 9/11/2001.  It was heading to New York City, from Seoul, via Anchorage Alaska.  Fighter jets were scrambled.   A whole city, Whitehorse, was given 15 minutes warning that a hijacked plane was heading to their small airport, an airport just above the center of town.  Every school was evacuated, parents were told to pick up their kids, and a giant 747 escorted by jets whose missiles were locked on target came into view.

Max Fraser, local Whitehorse filmmaker, has put together one of the most intriguing “untold” stories of 9/11 in his documentary, Never Happen Here: the Whitehorse 9/11 story.  Only a few hours after four planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and in Western Pennsylvania, Whitehorse is told that a hijacked plane is on its way to their city.  They have 15 minutes to get ready.

Imagine the panic, after watching everything happen in New York that day, hearing that it’s coming to your town in 15 minutes.  No one else got any warning that planes would be falling from the sky.  The morning of 9/11 was a surprise–there was no anticipation, no expectation.  While nothing can take away from the horror of 9/11 in the United States, or can compare to the tragedy of that event, Whitehorse’s story has an interesting angle no other story has.  It is because of the horror of 9/11 that Whitehorse had something to fear.  A disaster of 9/11 proportions was coming our way, only a few hours after we’d been shocked watching the panic and destruction hit New York City.   What would you do if you knew a 9/11 was coming to your city?

Continue reading

The Future of the Yukon (maybe): Radio Series “Yukon 2058”

We hear a lot about the future of New York, of San Francisco, of England.  Ever wondered what the NORTH would look like in 50 years? What would be happening, what kinds of trends here in the Yukon?  What kinds of possibilities?  Is it all going to be dark from climate change, or will we adapt as we go? I think it’s going to be a good Future if we can take better care of the Now.

Three years ago I created a five part series called “Yukon 2058” for the 50th anniversary of CBC.  They wanted something that celebrated their first 50 years, so I offered them a look at the next 50 years.  My theme was to eventually come back to why CBC is important, why local programming trumps National programming, why having a large staff in a small place like the Yukon is important.  I tried weave my opinions about what is good about CBC, and what is bad about the trends happening to CBC, into a narrative.  Yukon 2058 is the result.  5 parts.  The narrative of a CBC reporter wondering what his future will be, trying to find where he belongs in a rapidly competitive market.

You can go to the Radio Series page and look under YUKON 2058.

________________________________________________________________________

*image is Joyce Majiski’s “Racing Uphill.”  See more of her work on her website.