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Superhero Movies

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

I guess I am having a bit of a mixed reaction to all of these superhero movies that have come out recently. For one, I am happy to have action movies that actually have a story line and aren’t the typical Bruce Willis-type. On the other hand, these past few years have been jam packed with them and we are running the risk of spoiling something great. I love superhero movies, so please, Hollywood, keep it classy and don’t ruin it for us!

Here are five superhero movies I will never forget.

X2: This movie is fantastic. The X-Men movies have got to be my favourite and I am not even a little mad about their “reset” with the most recent story. X2 has got to be the best of this batch.

 

Batman Begins: A much needed revamp to an incredible story. I know everyone loved the Dark Knight but this one is definitely my favourite. Aside from the awesome action and being able to see the making of Batman, the movie also has a really interesting comment on the human condition.

 

Smallville (Seasons 1-4): Now, this is one you might fight me on. But Smallville was a great show. It, like most TV series, went downhill and was stretched too far. The story of young Clark Kent coming to grips with his abilities and dealing with “meteor freaks” was what made seasons 1-4 great. Once he moved to Metropolis and the story became more convoluted, the show really lost it for me. In any case, it had a good run. If you haven’t seen the first few seasons, check them out!

 

The Incredible Hulk: Everything Ed Norton touches is gold. Only he could revive the Hulk story after Eric Bana butchered it. This is a great one.

 

Batman Returns: This is one I wish I could forget but haunts me to this day. It has got to be the WORST Batman movie ever, if not the worst superhero movie. The trailer is below, but watch at your own risk.

Abe’s Musical Obsessions!

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

The world is wonderful place. It is teeming with amazing things that are worth talking about and choosing a topic is one of the hardest things a person has to ever go through. I can talk about the Quebec and Ontario election results and what that would mean for the next federal election, I can talk about the current situation in Iraq and how that will affect the middle east in the short and long term. I can talk about literature and the books that I am reading and why you should as well. However all of those things are depressing topics that I do not want to put you through. I can talk about the Game of Thrones finale or the world cup, but I would spoil GOT and I frankly do not care for the world cup (yes I said it). I decided to go with a fun exercise and give you 10 music artists that I absolutely enjoy listening to and I think you should look into as well!

In no particular order:

  • Woodkid- Woodkid’s music is slightly experimental and different, it’s not something you hear in normal songs. The lyrics are wonderful as well, they’re more poetic and metaphorical which is great if you feel like thinking about your songs.
  • Cat Stevens -I’ve recently rediscovered Cat Stevens, and I am falling in love with his music. I think his music is perfect his lyrics are impeccable and timeless, his music is great and his voice is angelic
  • Frank Sinatra- I do not think I need to write about this man. Sinatra is simply one of the greatest artists to ever hit the earth (even if his morals were questionable, seriously look up his mafia involvement)
  • Kanye West- I would say Kanye is my guilty pleasure, but he isn’t. He is one of my favorite artists of all time. I mean 21 Grammy’s don’t lie.
  • Globus- These guys are not really an artist with traditional songs that you listen to. These are the guys that make the epic music for movies and trailers. They are awesome. Eating toast in the morning will never be the same again after you listen to these people.
  • JohnnySwim- These guys are an up and coming indie folk rock band. Its a husband and wife duo and is great. They will be big one day! Big I tell you!
  • Passenger- These guys are great. I am sure you have all heard Let Her Go by now are thinking “dude I knew about these guys before they were cool”. Still you can never get enough Passenger.
  • Bastille- Bastille and I go waaay back. My jerk friends used to ridicule them. Then Pompeii made the mainstream.. guess who got the last laugh. 
  • The Civil Wars- These guys are in the awkward stage where some people know them, and then most do not. Look into them. They are great. That is all.
  • Noah Gundersen- This guy’s music uses string instruments to their full potential. He uses the guitar, violin, cello and his amazing voice to create some hauntingly beautiful music, perfect to cure boredom.

 

Here is some of their songs to make your search easier!

Enjoy!

 

Sublime Messages

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of commercials; and in a weird way, I’ve actually come to like them. Not necessarily all of them (I will never love the MarineLand commercials. The jingle gets me so angry.), but along with the general amazement at the amount of funding that can go into them, I can’t help but be impressed with the creativity and ingenuity behind some of them despite the fact that most of them are created to zero in and call upon our inner consumer.

The side of the advertising industry that the average person sees is clearly littered with issues ranging from the problematic depictions of men and women, the fact that most of them use sex, nudity and violence to sell inanimate objects, or just the subtle but very much guaranteed promise of improvement associated with purchase of a certain product. It’s all messed up, and leaves me spending time wishing that the media would either pick a more honest and less socially abrasive angle, or wondering what the world would be like without advertisements. I definitely can’t imagine the latter. It seems like it would be such an awkward transition; like constantly being surrounded by loud noises and loud people, but then landing in a quieter space with quieter people and feeling eerily alone with your thoughts and the loud echoey sound that your voice makes.

Recently, I guess I have come to see great and almost unbridled power in the mere minutes of footage that flash by beckoning us to buy or do something with the promise that we’ll be all the happier for it. This sounds kind of weird but, as I’m watching, I wonder if they’re working on me? Am I more compelled to buy this product? Obviously I’m not hitching a ride to the FootLocker for Nike apparel or running to the nearest McDonalds, but, companies still pump so much money into these depictions of their products that I have to wonder why? What are they really doing? Where is the subliminal message in this one? Oh! Product placement!

I don’t know if I’m a terrible consumer or terrible for feeding my impulse to be a consumer. I can’t help but be fascinated by commercials and the psychology behind them. To me it’s a very different and at times sinister art form that literally billions of people around the world could see upon debut and I find that pretty amazing. Despite their purpose, some of them can be incredibly creative, personable, or just really good at invoking or inspiring something that probably wasn’t there a minute and 30 seconds ago. Which goes to show you, the people in advertising definitely know what they’re doing. It’s kind of spooky really.

Anyways, here’s an assortment of advertisements (mainly commercials) dealing with things ranging from Father’s Day to the World Cup. I really hope they don’t offend too much, but if they do, don’t or just made your eyes roll so far back into your head with derision that they got stuck, feel free to tell me which ones and why!

SUMMER TIME!

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

 

It’s that time of year: the warmth is in the air, for what seems like the first time in months the streets are clear, and the world is free of snow in what is (hopefully) a permanent manner.

To sum it up, we’re on summer’s doorstep.  In just a few short weeks high school will be wrapping up, and we’ll be in the midst of that time of year that seems to be filled with endless possibilities. So that brings us to the question, what am I going to do with my time this summer?

For those of us in Alberta, we’re lucky enough to have a whole lot of festivals and more right on our doorsteps.

1)   Edmonton Folk Music Festival – Once more this August Edmonton’s annual folk fest will be bringing tons of amazing music to our city! The lineup was recently announced! Recognize any names? http://www.edmontonfolkfest.org/performers-2

2)   Fringe – If you’re looking for theatre, this is the place to be. Plays of all genres, lengths and style will be gracing stages throughout the entire whyte ave area

3)   Stampede – Cowboys! Music! Food! What more could you want? Enough said.

4)   K-Days – While I still prefer the name Klondike Days, the festival is still a fantastic place to have rides, food, music and fun all in one place!

5)   Heritage Days – A combination of culture and food, what more could you want? (Okay, so maybe I have a recurring theme of food. But food is great in the summer) Either way, heritage days is just one more fantastic way to spend some time around Hawrelak park this summer!

Anyone living in Alberta is probably familiar with some of these festivals. They have all been around for a long time, and have a pretty huge role in Albertan culture over the summer months. However, we are lucky enough to be in a beautiful province and those aren’t the only things we can take advantage of this summer! If festivals aren’t your thing, do a camping exploration! Check out Banff or Jasper. Or head north and visit some lakes or towns you’ve never seen before!

And finally, there is one thing above all else I can recommend for this summer, if it works for you! That of course would be SUNIA!

SUNIA 2014 Video from SUNIA on Vimeo.

While I may be somewhat biased, SUNIA is a fantastic opportunity that can change your life, introduce you to some of your best friends in the world, and give you the chance to see some of the glorious Rockies that we’re lucky enough to live so close to.

We’ve still got some spots left! Hope to see you out this August.

The food of the gods

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

This post is more of a way to project my overindulgence’s on other people more than anything. My apologies in advance if you’re reading this but don’t have food within your immediate grasp for consumption.

First thing’s first, you should know I have a crazy obsession with cheese. You read that correctly; cheese. Cheese is my addiction. I will gladly ingest cheese over any narcotics any day of the week.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can share some glorious recipes with you. If you’re like me and always on the go, it can be difficult to prepare solid meals as often as you would like. I myself am a self-proclaimed “foodie” and love cooking and baking but am always trying new ways to shorten my recipes so that I can prepare what I crave, but in a time efficient manner.

Because summer is nearing and people are steering clear of their bagged lunches and are leaning towards more of the BBQ’s and new and exciting food varieties, I thought I would introduce you to a new take on an old favourite. I’m talking about PIZZA.
There are so many ways to go about making pizza by using what’s already in your kitchen. If you’re like me and on a budget, getting creative and using what ingredients you already have is an absolute must.

So here we go, 10 new ways to go about making/eating pizza.
1. Put it on pita bread
2. Put it on zuchinni
3. Put it on hasbrowns
4. Put it on tortillas
5. Put it on a baked potato
6. Put it on a portabello mushroom
7. Put it on a bagel/English muffin
8. Put it on bacon (multiple layers…mmm…)
9. Put it on French/garlic bread
10. Make pizza cupcakes!

pizza1 pizza2 pizza3

I encourage you to try at least 3 of these methods (or create your own!) because trying new things is fun. And delicious.
Happy eating!

Mira :)

Parenthood

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

With Mother’s Day not even two weeks behind us, I think it’s safe to assume that many people here were venturing stores looking for a special something and a nice card to top up the perfect gift for mom. Now, and forgive me for the assumption that most people here fit the traditional – and very narrow – definition of what a family is supposed to look like, in a few weeks time many will be doing the same, but this time for their dad.

Picking a gift for my parents during their respective day was kind of a drag for me – and it still is – because it’s kind of hard to find the exact watch or maybe that new pair of shoes that says “Hey, thanks for being the only person who still thought I was cute even when I was missing all my milk teeth”. I mean, that’s true love right there. But anyways, finding a gift was nothing compared to buying them both a card. I don’t know how many people actually notice that, but I think that Hallmark doesn’t really understand that caring plays a much greater role in a healthy father-daughter relationship than the amount of money “daddy” is willing to spend. Likewise, still in the printed card world, moms can only be this saint like figures whose selflessness is beyond compare. Puh-lease! Give us a chance to compliment them on who they actually are and on the unique traits that make them a good role model.

What I mean to say here is that when this time of the year rolls around it always gets me thinking of how gendered the parenting experience is and how bogus it is to hold different standards for what it means “to father” and “to mother” a child. Think of all the families you know. How many are there where the dad has equal or the whole share of the caretaking? In how many families the mother is the main or sole breadwinner? How many are composed of two dads or two moms? Or even two moms and two dads? In how many of those families the grandparents became just parents? Or how many have nothing to do with genetics at all?

The poet Marshal Davis Jones, in his beautiful spoken word presentation completely bends the definitions of what it means to be a mother or a father. He does so based on his own experience, being brought up by a single parent, but in doing so he reinvents the spelling of parenthood altogether, for, according to his words, if fatherhood can be as nurturing  as motherhood, than motherhood can be strong as strong as fatherhood. Thus, there is no telling them apart, except the will of “never abandoning their seed”.

Now there is a definition of parenting I can stand behind of!

Technology Bytes

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

Yesterday I booked a dentist appointment over the phone with a practice I’d never been to before. I expected a longer phone call to set up a file and whatnot, but it turned into an even large ordeal due to technical difficulties. I explained my availability and waited for the receptionist to check the calendar… and waited. And waited some more. It took a good long time to discover the availability for each slot I asked about. With their limited hours, it’s not easy to find a time that works (when you don’t) for these kind of things, so I had to give her a few different options. I could tell she was getting a bit frustrated, which confused me because I really wasn’t being that difficult. Finally, she asked if she could put me on hold.

When she returned after a few moments she said she was sorry about the delay and that it was because they had just gotten a computer.

I was stunned. I don’t think I’ve heard those words from someone in a place of business (or anywhere really) in the last decade! To have just gotten a computer in 2014 seems ludicrous. Especially for a dentist’s office, where I presume things like records are mostly digital now. Not to mention how much extra capital the average dentist office seems to spend on technology and making things look nice.

Coming from a millennial this attitude is obviously tainted by privilege and the good fortune of growing up with access to technology. I imagine that for a business to finally convert from hard copy records and methods of business it would be an extremely arduous process. This is be especially true if the staff are unfamiliar with computers, never having had to use them before! After all, this is a conversion that most of the business world underwent more than 10 years ago. To catch up after all this time would be difficult and frustrating indeed.

After taking the time to think about it, I realized that in the past week alone I can name three separate instances in which someone’s ability with computers was determined in relation to their age (i.e. “he’s older so I don’t think he understands technology the same way we do” and “only someone over 50 wouldn’t know how to do that!”).

Does growing up with technology mean our generation has an edge in certain corners of the workforce? Will we have the same struggles as our parents and our grandparents when the technology of our children’s era begins to surface? Perhaps we’re not too far from becoming obsolete as well.

 

computer mad

The Back Page News Story that Matters

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

If you’re like me this past week has been both a blessing and a curse in terms of news. On one hard turning on the TV to find more videos and pictures of Rob Ford saying grossly inappropriate things, smoking crack cocaine in his sister’s basement, and going into rehab was a bit like crack-cocaine for a Canadian politics junkie like myself. Municipal politics has never been so exciting! (Sorry Don Iveson).

However, it also had the downside of being the main news item most Canadian news stations were running for the next few days, at least as the headline, and will be the story that most Canadians will remember from the week that passed. However, this same week the political leader of a huge organization was forced to resign because of public pressure over legislation in the Canadian parliament. That leader was Chief Shawn Atleo- leader of the Assembly of First Nations. And to be honest, like all political resignations, this is a huge story!

Atleo’s resignation was because of growing division within aboriginal groups across Canada over some legislation the Canadian government has on the floor in the House of Commons (currently in second reading for you policy wonks). The bill in question is Bill C-33: The First Nations control of the First Nations Education Act. This bill was introduced in response to the low graduation rates of aboriginal students and issues regarding the transition between graduating high school and post-secondary for aboriginal students.

The controversy regarding this piece of legislation goes way back. An original draft proposal was presented to Shawn Atleo and other First Here is an example of the health cheap health insurance for students exchange application form for individuals. Nations leaders, and was rejected. The government took Atleo’s recommendations into consideration, changed the bill and prepared to launch the legislation in February.

The bill got off to a rocky start, when in Early February the government had an event unveiling reworked legislation, security personnel marked invited guests with yellow dots, and uninvited guests with a blue dot. This promoted a response of first nations, on social media about the community being excluded or shut out on issues that matter to them.

Then throughout the past two months there has been a growing opposition to the bill for many reasons. There has been a push back from First Nations leaders and grassroots. There key issues with the bill are the lack of consultation, concerns over a loss of culture, the low levels of funding for first nations schools, and most importantly- the federal oversight of school operations and management, which many feel infringes on sovereignty. This has sparked a huge debate on social media, and other forums about First Nations nationalism. Although Atleo and other leaders had a chance to critique the bill, many communities and nations did not and feel they should have had a chance to.

On the other hand, there are definitely many supporters of this bill in First Nations communities who believe it is an important step in improving the quality of life, and education of on-reserve Aboriginal Students. The current graduation rates are far lower than in the rest of Canada, and many first nations believe it’s important to do something to improve on-reserve education, and are in support of bill C-33.

To be honest, I think this is one of the most interesting political debates going on right now, because it focuses on the question of aboriginal right to self-determination. I’d recommend you do a quick google search on “Bill C-33” or “Shawn Atleo”, and read more about this current debate and the implications. I’ve barely scratched the surface in this post, and this is a story that should have made the front page.

It’s a shame that Atleo’s resignation and Bill C-33 only merits the bottom of the news cycle, and more Canadian’s don’t know about it.

Abe thinking about poems.

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

Before I write anything I always read for inspiration. I like to look to other authors to get my creative juices going. Before this particular piece I was reading some random poetry ranging from Kahlil Gibran to Robert Frost. I ran across one poem that struck me so deeply I had to write about it. The poem was called A man said… by Stephen Crane.

“A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.” “
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173305
So here it goes:

All people crave being cared and loved for, it is the underlying message of all of our actions. We will go through the trouble of excelling at the use of certain language, the jargon of society, we spend hours and spend thousands of dollars on clothes and paint for our faces simply to be accepted and loved by our fellow man. To understand this phenomenon one must have some understanding of the evolution of man; we came from tribes and groups interdependent upon each other for our survival. This made us strong social animals, our happiness directly associated with each other. However through time this all changed with the birth of both the renaissance and the enlightenment eras  human have become self-sufficient for our survival, but our happiness and the way it works is far too embedded into our brain chemistry remained the stagnant through our evolution.

The poem begins with a man who says “to the universe/ Sir, I exist”. This sounds like man who is made a declaration out of having no other option.  He was trying to remind the universe and the powers above the he EXISTS. To declare that shows he has nothing left and this was trial in hopes and prayers to change his state to something better with the help of the creator, the universe. This man who is looking for the care and love to provide for the happiness that he needs. He lacks the human connection necessary so his only place to turn to was an imaginary entity in his mind who can obviously can not provide him with what he needs. Sadly even in his mind, in the deep depression that he has reached, he could not find solace. For the universe simply replied “created in me/ A sense of obligation”.  The poem in its entirety is a very sad, dark outlook upon the state a man can find himself in. It tells us once we are alone nothing can save us, nothing will ever come to our aid. Once alone, you cease to exist.

 

Reconciliation

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Staff Posts | Comments Off

I, like most Edmontonians, has the opportunity to participate in something very meaningful at the end of last month. I hopped on the LRT, got off in downtown, and walked to the Shaw Conference Centre. Edmonton was playing host to the Alberta National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This was the final stop of the Commission. The event offered survivors of residential schools the opportunity to share their stories. The event also offered non-Indigenous people like myself the opportunity to learn more about this country’s shameful history and the harm inflicted on generations of Indigenous people by the state.

What bothered me, perhaps even more than some of the testimonies gathered, was the fact that there was an important group missing. At the opening ceremonies, the MC had asked all those survivors to stand and for all those family members of survivors to stand so that we, as an audience, could acknowledge them. While I think it is great that the space was open and inviting to those that were directly affected by this injustice, I could not help but wonder why nearly three quarters of the room was standing only to be received by a minority.

Reconciliation is a process that must be undertaken by both sides: the victim and the perpetrator. While the average Canadian had no relation to the residential school system administration, we as a society were and are complicit in the suffering it caused. Choosing to acknowledge this is powerful and I don’t believe that Canadians as a whole have been willing to do so. Seeing a lack of non-Indigenous people at the TRC National Event in Edmonton last month invoked a new sense of disappointment in me. How can we hope to reconcile the damage that has been done when we ignore it?

I believe our national psyche needs to be fundamentally challenged. Yes, Canada may be called tolerant and multicultural but that is not to say that racism does not exist. We ought to do more to recognise the flaws in our culture and work to fix them.

Here is Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on “What Is Reconciliation” and how education is the key to change.

 

What Is Reconciliation from TRC – CVR on Vimeo.