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Tag Archives: Canada

What A Week.

leonard cohen

Hi friends.

I know it’s been a while. That’s because life has been absolutely insane these past few months. Lot of things have happened, mostly good – but of course, some incredibly bad.

Part of me has wanted to put the blog on complete hold until I can finish the never ending redesign (which is why I have been silent here for a while) but when someone like Trump is elected president, and then we find out Leonard Cohen died, it feels wrong to stay silent. This has always been where I come to vent, and today will be no different.

Obviously, I am not an American, but the reality is, Americans are our neighbours, and they’re also our brothers and sisters. They are not that different from us, despite how much we might protest otherwise and lay claim to superiority since we have Trudeau – a feminist – while they have Trump, a man who campaigned on pure hatred and vitriol toward everyone but white men.

A world under Trump is terrifying. Not because Trump is terrifying (he’s just a clown, nothing more than a power hungry entertainer with a great marketing team) but because if he is impeached (a likely possibility) an even worse monster – Pence – becomes President of the most powerful country in the world. I’d like to believe Trump isn’t nearly as racist or sexist or xenophobic as he campaigned himself to be, he just knew it would work on the people who are.

That said, in the face of the rampant increase in racism and sexism being displayed in full force since his win, it is up to us to do the right thing and protect the people who are now free targets to a once mostly silent majority of the population. Speak up if you see someone saying something hateful. Stand with the person being targeted. Being a bystander is never okay.

As Canadians, we also have a responsibility to not fall into the trap that has taken hold in France, England and America – the nationalist trap that fears the other. This is how devastating wars begin. This is why the violent tragedies that have happened recently have happened at all. Being afraid of refugees moving here is what convinces those vulnerable people to believe the rhetoric of dangerous groups and sign up for their ranks. With every nationalist win like Trump and Brexit, they only get stronger. Aaron Sorkin wrote that ISIS is having a party after Trump’s win, and that’s what strikes me the most about this whole nightmare. By being afraid and filled with hate, you are only making them stronger. This isn’t a solution to the problem, this is how you increase its power over you.

When America had Bush, we followed with Harper. Once they had Obama, we followed with Trudeau. We tend to follow their political ping pong party game pretty closely, and I hope and pray that this doesn’t happen again with our next election in three years. We cannot buy into this world of fear and hate. It only puts us at risk. When you hear a certain Conservative woman on the news spouting about Trump and how she hopes to follow in his footsteps here, tune that shit out. Turn the channel. Don’t write about her. Don’t give her press time. Please don’t validate any Canadians who campaign on hate, like the American media did by giving Trump non-stop press just because it was good for ratings.

We like to believe we are less racist and sexist here, but as we found out last Tuesday night, the silent majority might just be silent until it comes time to vote. Don’t take that for granted. Try your best to educate anyone around you who seems to support the Trump win. Do it without anger (if you can, I know this is incredibly hard for me). People only understand life through their own eyes, their own experiences, and that means your suburban relatives can’t always relate to your point of view. They haven’t experienced the diversity we embrace in cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. They only see the issues that affect them personally, and that is how they vote. Educating the people in your life about what it means to care for your neighbour is key. Educating them about what all this fear mongering nationalism does to strengthen terrorist groups is key. It might not work – people are inherently stubborn and self-interested, but you have to at least try.

In other news, I recently went to NYC for the first time in a DECADE! And it was as incredible as I remembered it to be. There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to leave Toronto for New York, and I think I had to stop visiting in order to truly embrace my city. Now that I adore Toronto and it has developed into an incredible place, I can resume my just as intense love for New York.

I went down there for a writing conference run by and for women, where I learned a ton. Screenwriting has been the most recent passion of mine, and I was able to attend a seminar led by Jenny Lumet, who wrote a film I truly love, Rachel Getting Married. I also got to wander around the MOMA, see the spot where Paul’s Boutique used to be, stay in Brooklyn, get drenched by a full day of rain, live on about 4 hours of sleep a night, eat the finest pizza $3 will ever buy you, tour Greenwich Village to indulge my Bob Dylan love, get lost on the vast subway system, meet a bunch of incredibly talented women writers, attend live tapings of The View and Dr Oz (because all the shows I wanted to see… Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Steven Colbert, SNL were sold out) and visit the 9/11 memorial. It was an incredibly packed 4 days.

Before that, I fulfilled one of my biggest music industry dreams – I was a Grand Juror for the Polaris Prize 2016 – which as you know by now went to Kaytranada’s 99.9% – a truly fantastic album that I never would have given a fair listen to were it not for the privilege of being on this incredible jury. It wasn’t the album that I was there to fight for (that would be Black Mountain’s fantastic IV) but I understand exactly why it won and I stand behind the choice.

One more great thing, I checked another big career goal off the list by having my first byline in Marie Claire (about a 90s film I love, The Craft), a publication I’ve always wanted to write for. Yes, my writing here has been sparse because I have an entirely new vision for this blog that has me stockpiling material, but also because I’ve been focused on freelance writing full-time, which is a non-stop hustle. With that point, I should make it clear that TTRO is not over, it is just on a semi-hiatus until I can turn it into something that represents me in my 30s instead of this old version of me in my 20s. I feel like when I post here I’m walking around in an old outfit that just looks silly on me now, so I’ve been holding back. But soon! An early 2017 launch is the goal, and things around here will be a lot more consistent (and hopefully very useful for you) come that time.

One last thing – by some strange and awesome twist of fate – after 7 years on Twitter I was finally able to get my name out from under someone sitting on the handle – so @lisa_TTRO is no longer. Now you can tweet me @lisalagace, which is the same as my Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Periscope names. Yay for consistency!

And finally, let me just say, one last time for the record, RIP Leonard. When I watched you perform live in 2009 it was one of those rare musical moments where I knew I was witnessing pure genius, a poet who understood our pain for us, made it somehow more tolerable.

“And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord Of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.”

 Lisa

Ed The Sock Explains What Happened To Good Canadian Television

Ed The Sock CRTC

Remember the days of Kids In The Hall? The days when MuchMusic was your favourite thing on TV because they actually played music? And for my parents generation, maybe you even remember SCTV and the original Degrassi?

There was a time when Canadian TV was all about innovation, despite the tiny budget. No – because of the tiny budget. But that tiny budget also meant we could never compete with American broadcasters in primetime.

If you’ve been following the CRTC rulings lately, you’ll know some great things have been put into action – for example, them forcing the big name providers to offer a basic TV package for $25, and then allowing you to pick and choose the extra channels you want.

As a self professed TV nerd, I am all for this. Rogers and Bell have been ripping off cable users for a damn long time, and this kind of ruling was absolutely necessary.

But the ruling Ed the Sock is talking about is different. CRTC also passed a rule to loosen the daytime CanCon requirements for TV producers, and there will no longer be genre protection for specialty channels – meaning MuchMusic doesn’t have to play any music (though that stopped happening ages ago), and History Channel doesn’t have to show any history – as Ed puts it.

For the most part, I agree with what Ed is saying – equating money with innovation is always wrong. That’s exactly why I think the best art is always the first thing the artist releases, when they are poor and struggling and full of innovation and passion and desire. The first album, the first novel, the first film or TV show, that’s the stuff that sticks in the cannon throughout an artists life for a reason.

Having no budget means you have no choice but to be your most creative self.

On the other hand, I don’t think it’s wrong for the CRTC to want Canadian productions to be able to increase production values so that our industry can at least try to compete with what the American networks produce.

There’s a reason we watch more American television than Canadian, and it’s not because we don’t have the talent and skill to make shows as great as our Southern friends – it’s because the budgets up here are nothing compared to what they are down there.

Tons of American shows are shot and produced up here (Hannibal being my absolute favourite) – the difference between that show and the Canadian made shows we ignore on CBC is the budget – which trickles into the actors they can hire, the ability to have one consistent showrunner onboard from the pilot to the finale, the directors they can afford, the writers, the production design, the shooting locations, and so on and so on.

Maybe Canadians like keeping our TV in a specialized “Canadiana” stereotype world of Trailer Park Boys and Corner Gas, but if that were true, Canadians wouldn’t spend the majority of their TV time watching American and British produced shows.

That said, more money does not equal more innovation, but it does allow the innovators to translate the vision they have in their head into the one we see on the screen – rather than shooting a version they end up ashamed of because the budget didn’t leave any room for that vision to be realistically created.

Hear his thoughts below, and let me know what you think about the new changes.

Lisa

Want to Access American Netflix, Spotify and More? Use Tunnelbear

tunnelbear

 

Many of you reading this are, like me, Canadian. And if you’re like me, you’ve often encountered things you want to watch or access that are blocked, simply because you are located in Canada. What a bunch of jerks!

Anyhow, I’ve recently been using this great program called TunnelBear (cute advertising ftw) to get around the ohh so annoying blocks that living in the great white north provides.

I know a few tech nerds who jump through hoops doing all kinds of complicated nerd tricks in order to access American Netflix. I once watched one of them do it and it nearly made my head explode. And that is why I love Tunnelbear. No more of that. Just download the program, turn it on, set it to USA and you are officially seen as an American – the internet walls come down! No more crappy Canadian Netflix!

As many of you are music fans, you’re probably as annoyed as I am that Spotify still isn’t available in Canada. It’s a shameful fact, but Tunnelbear can quickly and easily help you get around it.

The most annoying thing for me has always been with Hulu – so many great shows and clips are made available on Hulu – and if you read American websites, they post these videos ALL the time. It drives me insane. But now that I have Tunnelbear always turned on, I see the proper video every time without doing anything. It’s awesome.

The cool thing about this program is that it was created by Canadians! These people know what it’s like to be stuck here, so close, yet so far away from all that American content. That’s why they invented it back in 2011.

Currently, over 2.3 million people use it in 154 countries, so clearly they have tapped into a need people were desperately seeking.

Another great perk is that it increases your privacy big time, by acting as a middleman and encrypting your connection. Let me tell you, keeping your identity private in these creepy, hacker friendly, stalker-y internet times is very, VERY important.

The nice thing is that you automatically get 500MB of free tunneling each month, and if you want to increase that by an extra GB all you have to do is tweet at @TheTunnelBear and you’ll be bumped up.

What are you waiting for? Go tunnel your way into Spotify, now that you finally can!

 Lisa

Lindi Ortega – Lived and Died Alone

song of the week!

Last night I had the true pleasure of seeing this lovely lady live for the first time. Sad to admit she’s one of those names I had always heard but never paid attention to, placing her in the ‘probably too CanRock for me’ category just by way of associated acts. The Rootstock show I was reviewing last night only reaffirmed that unfair categorization, placing her in between Steven Page, formerly of Barenaked Ladies fame, and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea (someone I would normally avoid ever seeing).

Of course, as soon as she opened her mouth to start singing, I realized how far off I was. I was immediately blown away by the sheer tone and beauty of her voice. The most famous pop stars of today only wish they had a vocal as captivating and original as hers.

Making the night even better was how she described her songwriting process, and how she came to write the beautiful songs she sang. This one particularly struck a chord with me as I tried to hold back tears, making it the perfect choice for song of the week.

Give it a listen:

Lisa

Mas Ysa – Why

song of the week!

Gotta thank a friend for tipping me off on this one. I’m not normally a fan of this electronic singer songwriter (aka indietronica) domination that’s the new cool in music, but this song is legitimately great. The electronic elements are interesting yet not so overpowering that they take away from the sadness of the vocals and the contradiction of the lyrics. Everything about the song reeks of longing and urge and desperate love. And that intro is so creepy. It’s pretty brilliant.

The only part I don’t like is the “drum” solo in the middle, which is actually overpowering and sort of cuts up the beauty of the song for me.

Video wise, I think the choice to show a guy and a girl playing hockey is interesting. At first I was like, wow, this guy really wants to show off his Canadianness – but it’s actually a smart way to depict the chase and the games guys and girls play when trying to navigate relationships, as the song describes.

Montreal born Thomas Arsenault (aka Mas Ysa) is one to watch. If you’re a James Blake fan, keep your eye on this guy.

Lisa