Malcolm McKearney owes me a goose.
I’ll get to that.
If you don’t know Malcolm, he’s the one what’s always going on about being smarter than everyone he knows. And most that he don’t know. Trouble is with Malcolm, it’s easy to prove him wrong, right. At least, it’s easy to prove him wrong to others. But Malcolm’s belief in his knowledge is stubborn. You can’t convince Malcolm of anything if he’s got his mind looking in any other direction.
Anyways, I see him there sitting in the corner there of the Seal Club and Sandbar Lounge. This is, what, about 9 months ago or so. Just before the latest incident with the shit socks at the Seal Club. The one that shut them down for them couple of months. I see him there. Usually he’s with his boys, Arnold McCutcheon, DeBlois DeBlois, and Earle Stanley, but that night he’s sitting there all by himself.
He looks bored so I figure I’d take a trip over and gab a bit about this and that. You know, spill some time before heading back home. So I goes over and he looks up and nods.
“She’s some wet, what?” I go.
“Seventy-two millimetres since Sunday” he goes. Malcolm is all about the weather. He’s got all the amometers and measuring stuff that they got at the weather center in Charlottetown or wherever it is. He’s right into it, and it’s always a good way to start off a conversation with him by bringing it up. A sure-fire “in” if you know what I mean.
So I sit down and he brightens up and goes off on a long trail about the climate and his thoughts on all that. Me, I listen and nod every so often and take occasional swigs from the beer I brought to the table. He’s spouting off statistics and numbers and prognostications and whatnot, all about the weather. Honestly it was boring as shit, but I go along with the listening to it, just to pass time more than anything.
So that wraps up without much incident and then he goes off on another drive about stuff. Things he’s reading, ideas he has about things that should be invented if he had the time. You know, bullshit stuff.
Anyways, he goes “This May’s been the wettest May in the Northern Hemisphere since May 1912 when the Titanic sunk.”
And I’m thinking “Wrong!” Now I can let his wrong-headed opinions go because you can’t argue opinion, but I will always argue facts. And I know for a fact the Titanic sunk on April 14, 1912. Because April 14th 1925 is my Aunt Sadie’s birthday and they always talk about how it was her claim to fame that she was born on the same day as the Titanic sunk. Not the exact same date but the same day. So I know for a fact he’s wrong.
“Titanic sunk in April” I go. “Not May.”
“No, it sunk in May” he says. “Fact.”
“Not a fact” I go. He can’t go calling something that’s wrong a fact. “Titanic sunk in April. April 14th 1912. I’m sure of it”
Anyways, we go back and forth, both claiming to be right about which month the Titanic sunk.
Finally, I have enough. “Betcha double or nothing on one of your Christmas geese that you’re wrong and that the Titanic sunk April 14th.”
Malcolm is well-revered for raising top-quality geese. Geese ain’t as popular these days as they was back in the day, but enough people still like them for Easter or Christmas or Thanksgiving or any big celebration dinner over turkey. Enough for Malcolm to keep at it, raising and selling geese to those that want them.
“You’re on” he goes and slams his hand down onto the table and laughs. “Easy money! Pay up!”
“Hold on” I go. “You can’t prove the Titanic sunk in May ‘cause it didn’t. It sunk in April, and I can prove it.”
“You can’t prove it because it sunk in May” he goes. Stubborn to the core.
So I pull out my phone and ask Google. “Okay Google, what month did the Titanic sink?”
Quicker than a flash the phone goes “The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean.”
“Yow owe me a goose” I go.
“That don’t prove nothing” he goes.
“Whattyamean” I go. “Proves everything. Proves you owe me a goose!”
“You can’t prove that machine is right” he goes.
I go “It’s Google. Of course it’s right.”
“Still” he says, “that’s not proof”.
“You owe me a goose” I go.
“I owe you nothing” he goes. “Titanic sunk in May.”
“You owe me a fucking goose” I go. I’m starting to get right agitated. He senses my irritations and goes even harder into his belief that the Titanic sunk in May.
“Sunk April 14th 1912. Same day as my Aunt Sadie was born, only thirteen years earlier.
“Wrong” he goes. “You owe me double a goose. And you don’t get the goose.”
I ask Google again and it says the same thing. “The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean.”
“Aha” he goes. “You ARE wrong! Even if your Google thing is right, you said the Titanic sunk on April 14th. Google said it sunk April 15th. YOU ARE WRONG” he yells.
I ask Google again. Sure enough “The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean.” My Aunt Sadie’s claim to fame was based on a lie.
I think for a minute and go “Well, it started sinking on the 14th probably. Probably took the better part of an evening to sink, and the actual sinking ended in the early morning of April 15th”.
“Either way, you said it sunk April 14th. Your Google says April 15th so you’re wrong. You’re both wrong, because it sunk in May anyway.”
And that was that. I tried a bunch more to get him to admit he was wrong but in his mind he wasn’t wrong. I went home furious and vowing to prove him wrong.
Month later I come into his shop – he’s an auto mechanic in the day, the goose stuff at night or whatever – with a picture of an old newspaper front page headline my nephew Donald got from provincial archives that states the Titanic sunk on April 15th.
“Could be photoshopped” he goes.
Fucking asshole. I knew then and there that I’d never get my goose outta him.
So I wrote this song about him.
Malcolm McKesrney’s Goose Is Sunk
It took an iceberg to sink the Titanic on April 15th 1912
Though probably started sinking the evening before.
But it would take something harder than that berg
To get Malcom McKearney to say he’s wrong.
He says it sunk in May. Don’t matter what Google says
Or the Provincial Archives, his ignorance stays alive.
How do you prove that two plus two is four?
Or that the sun rises high in the sky?
If Malcolm thinks otherwise you can’t.
No matter what he thinks
Malcom McKearney owes me a goose for Christmas.
Don’t make a bet with Malcolm McKearney even if it’s based on fact.
Malcolm ignores facts in favour of his own stubborn brain.
Don’t make a bet with Malcom McKearny and expect to get his goose.
No matter what he thinks
Malcolm McKearny owes me a goose for Christmas.
I recently watched, online as part of FinFestival, “Still the Water”. Written and directed by Susan Rodgers, it’s her debut feature, and here’s my review.
Having been aware, primarily through social media posts made by Susan, of many of the challenges, problems, and difficulties she had in the process of persevering this film into existence, I first want to offer sincere congratulations for creating something that looks so good, and works as a fully complete and bona fide dramatic feature. This is an accomplishment that deserves mighty praise!
Here’s more praise: the cinematography is sharp and sparkles. The acting, very much of a professional quality, is much better than I was expecting. The direction and editing work well in serving the story being told. By that I mean it doesn’t meander or lollygag too much from what needs to be shown and told, and for that I am always grateful.
I just wish I liked the story more.
Here’s a brief story brief: Sacked from another team in the From Away, Jordie MacAulay (Ry Barrett), a semi-professional hockey playing brother comes back to PEI – to his Summerside community – to sort out his troublesome life and work on his anger issues. His first stop is to his brother Nicky (Colin Price) and his young family, and takes up the offer to temporarily stay in a nearby vacated house. Jordie’s presence is troubling for Nicky, who already seems to have plenty of problems of his own – chief among them is his relationship with haunted-by-her-past next door neighbour Abby (Christena McInulty), who sings at the local bar. There’s also Nicky’s emotionally brooding and stoically suffering wife Alice (Sherri Lee Pike); the brothers’ younger, brother Noah (Spencer Graham) whose obnoxiousness is, I guess, supposed to be played for laughs (?); and their formerly-abusive but now tolerated-by-most father.
The movie follows the leads as they attempt to
work through live through their individual and familial troubles. The brothers Nicky and Jordie take up playing hockey together, arguing with and resenting each other endlessly, spending a we-all-knew-that-was-coming challenging day lobster fishing, and working in their father’s boat repair (?) shop, where nothing (work or relationships) seems to happen.
As I said, the movie looks more than good enough and the acting is pretty sharp, but unfortunately, it all gets let down a bit too much by a story and script that I just did not care that much about. That said, I can certainly see there being people for whom this story might resonate well. But not me. I didn’t find myself really caring about or for any of the main characters. I did, in one scene, feel bad for that Gentlemen Jim’s server, though, who had to suffer through the inexplicable assholery of Obnoxious Noah. Probably the reason I found myself not caring is because I got a bit bored by the repetitiveness of the same challenges showing themselves again and again to the same characters, without any real advancement. And that, I suppose, falls to the storytelling.
Another issue for me – and maybe this is a matter of direction – is the way almost everyone in the movie seems to have a performative air of depressive inevitability to their character. Like everyone was told to express their characters inner turmoils on their faces and in all their movements. It’s like they didn’t trust the script enough to allow any subtext so they telescoped the issues into their physical performances. In this movie even the smiles are played sad.
While I liked the cinematography for the most part, I could have done with far, far fewer “beauty shots” of PEI. Every scene seemingly started and/or ended with pretty shots of sunsets, sunrises, beaches, etc. And a relatively new pet peeve of mine that this movie employs – I am already tired of seeing, in videos/films/shorts/etc., drone shots of PEI that look like they’re taken out of PEI Tourism commercials. Shot for shot’s sake. In this movie, in particular, I didn’t think the beauty of those Tourism Shots lends itself very well to the darker, brooding moods and emotions the movie is attempting to convey.
Something that surprised me was my reaction to the way the story arc of Nicky’s wife Alice was handled. She ended up not being a character so much as a plot device. And that really bugged me. Without giving away too much as a spoiler, I found I was desperate for Alice to have at least one opportunity to release and vent about her situation, to have it out with someone who was actually negatively impacting her life. Or at the very least, let us know why she is seemingly incapable of doing so. The last fifth of the movie I found myself really bothered that she didn’t have that opportunity. And then the way the final shot/scene unfolded only compounded that bother to the extreme.
I hope Susan Rodgers makes more stuff. The filmmaker’s eye is definitely there, and I expect that with more experience she’ll learn to allow the actors to hint at their emotions and inner-feelings a bit rather than have them blatantly wear them on their sleeves.
Were I to give this movie one of my 7-Word Review reviews, it would be: Competent, good effort but a bit blah.
I have such a bad memory about things I’ve performed or haven’t performed. I came across this script I wrote for Annekenstein V, and I cannot for the life of me remember if it was staged or not. I think it was, but the document is entitled “Opening (unused)”, so that’s making me doubt myself.
I’m thinking that perhaps it was performed at least a few times but may have been replaced by another sketch?
Anyway, I like a lot of the script. It very much represents the kind of comedy I like to write and perform.
I post it here, for posterity.
Rob enters onto a stage, upon which are three chairs, set up in a row. He takes center Stage
Rob: Good evening everyone, and welcome to Annekenstein! Before we begin, I’d just like to point out some changes to those of you who may have seen our shows before.
After last year, a governmental agency called the Prince Edward Island Anne of Green Gables Merchandise Regulatory Commission contacted us at Annekenstein. This Merchandise Regulatory Commission is responsible for giving out licenses to any group or individual who wishes to make money off the intellectual property of the Lucy Maud Montgomery creation Anne of Green Gables and all the characters there involved. This commission was developed beacause there was a worry that some of the crafts and dolls, and such, which had an Anne of Green Gables theme, were of a lesser quality, esthetically speaking, than was worthy of such an important fictional character as Anne Shirley.
So, it was felt that a commission such as this could deny licenses to any persons or groups whom the commission deemed as unacceptable to the positive portrayal of Anne of Green Gables.
Well, to make a long story short, Annekenstein falls under this commission’s jurisdiction, and unfortunately for us, and for you the audience, the Prince Edwrd Island Anne of Green Gables Merchandise Regulatory Commission found Annekenstein portrayed (gets out paper and reads) “a negative perception to the wholesomeness and good feelings which are so inherent in Anne of Green Gables” and declined to give us a license.
Dave Moses and I, being the primary writers, talked to them, and to make a long story short, we finally did manage to get a license for this year’s Annekenstein. However, there were a few catches.
We were told we could still make fun of Anne, et al., but the humour had to be gentler. In sketches where Anne isn’t present, we could be the same old satirical wits we used to be, but when Anne was involved, we had to tone down quite a bit.
Still, we feel we are still presenting one hell of– one heck of a… a funny show. It’s still funny. We still make fun of Anne, and you’ll still laugh, I hope. But, like I said, for those of you who are familiar with the comedy of Annekenstein’s past, you’ll likely notice some subtle changes. Some for the better, some, not so for the better.
So, on with– Oh, and the Merchandise Regulatory Commission had final approval of any sketches involving Anne Shirley.
So, on with our show. Here’s our first sketch of the evening, and, co-incidentally, it does involve references to Anne. I think it’s very funny and it’s entitled “The Importance of Being Anne”. Enjoy!
Rob leaves and stage goes black. Lights come up on the three chairs, with Laurie and Jan occupying two, the middle chair empty
Laurie: Hello, Jan Rudd, and welcome to Annekenstein 5.
They get up and hug
Laurie: It must be quite exciting, being one of the two new additions to the Annekenstein cast.
Jan: Yes, Laurie, it certainly is. Myself, and Matthew Rainnie, who is the other of two additions to the cast, we are both happy to be here, and look forward to the raucous joviality that this show is all about.
Laurie: Yes, and although we tend to poke gentle barbs at Anne of Green Gables, ourselves profiting from such tom-foolery, or should I say “Anne-foolery”, we musn’t forget just how important Tourism is to this province, and that Anne of Green Gables represents a very large part of the Island’s Tourism dollar.
Jan: Yes. Anne is so important to our provincial economy that we really shouldn’t make fun of her at all. (Laurie laughs) What, Laurie, did I say something funny?
Laurie: Yes. You said ‘we shouldn’t make fun of her’, as if she were alive!
Jan: So I did! The funny thing being that she’s not alive, nor ever was. She’s just a book! (Jan laughs)
Laurie: Exactly! (Laurie laughs as well, stopping suddenly when:) Look, here comes Matthew Rainnie now.
Matthew enters and hugs Laurie, then Jan
Laurie: Hello, Matthew, and welcome to Annekenstein, but you are not part of this sketch are you?
Matthew: No, Laurie, and Jan, I’m not. But the Prince Edward Island Anne of Green Gables Merchandise Regulatory Commission, along with the writers of Annekenstein, feel that one of the best loved aspects of the old Annekenstein shows was the unpredictbility. You know, when something unexpected happens.
Jan: You mean like right now. Neither Laurie, nor I, knew you were coming out here, now.
Matthew: Yes. The writers feel impromtu bits of comedy like this are excellent ways to get the audience to laugh, and the best thing is, we can do it without making negative references to Anne of Green Gables, keeping her image meticulously wholesome and positive.
Laurie and Jan laugh, then Matt joins in. Ed enters wearing Anne hat and braids. The others stop laughing and stare at him, shocked
Ed: Hey, guys! Are you improv-ing already?
Laurie: What in the blazes do you think you’re doing?
Ed: I’m getting ready for the next sketch.
Jan: Not with that thing on your head your not!!
Ed: What do you mean?
Matt: You know the new rules for the show. Boys aren’t allowed to wear Anne of Green Gables hats and braids anymore. Only the girls are, and only if portraying her in a positive fashion.
Laurie: Now, come on! Take them off!!
Ed: Aw, man, this Regulatory Commission is draining the life out of this show.
Jan: It’s not. It’s for the betterment of the community that they’ve been given the power they have.
Ed: All’s I know is, men in funny girl-hats makes people laugh. This really sucks!
Nancy: (Off stage) Who swore!!! (Entering) I heard a swear! Who swore!! Ed?!!
Ed: I didn’t swear! I just said this sucks.
Nancy: Blasphemer!! The Prince Edward Island Anne of Green Gables Merchandise Regulatory Commission, in association with the writers of Annekenstein, consider the word S-U-C-K-S as an unsuitable word, when associated with Anne of Green Gables. It’s a forbidden word.
Jan: Because S-U-C-K-S could conjure up images of fellatio. And no one wants to think of Anne Shirley giving head.
Ed and Matt become instantly aroused by these words
Jan: Oh my God! What did I say?!?
Laurie: You said “Anne Shirley giving head”!
Ed and Matt groan, involved in their own sexual fantasies
Nancy: Oh, no, the boys are fantasizing! About Anne. That’s most forbidden!!! (To Jan and Laurie) You see what happens!!!
Laurie: This is all your fault, Jan!
Jan: ‘Tis not.
Nancy: We’re in big trouble. We could lose our merchandise license over this!
Rob: People! People! Calm down! What’s all the stir? Why have we stopped the show?
Matt: I don’t know, Rob. I came out with that bit of improv you wrote me…
Rob: I didn’t write you any improv, Matt.
Matt: But that guy from the Regulatory Commission gave it to me and said you wanted me to say it. Seemed to go over alright, anyways. Then Ed shows up in a hat and braids!
Rob: Red braids?
Matt: Yes, they were.
Nancy: And then Ed swore. He said sucks!
Rob: Is this true, Ed?
Ed: Yeah, so? What’s the big deal?! We used to stuff like that last year.
Rob: Yeah, Ed, and a hundred a fifty years ago Dodge was a rough and tumble city, but it had to get cleanded up!!
Nancy: And Jan said “Anne Shirley giving head”, and then Laurie said it, too!
Rob: Nancy, that’s enough tattling!
Nancy: Well, they did!
Laurie: I only said “Anne Shirley giving head” to tell what Jan said.
Jan: Well, I only said “Anne Shirley giving head” to tell Ed what image “sucks” could conjure up.
Rob: Enough! Enough with Anne Shirley giving head! I mean, here it is, our first sketch in association with the Prince Edward Island Anne of Green Gables Merchandise Regulatory Commission, and we’ve already resorted to the same stuff that we were doing last year. It’s stuff like this that was the reason they wouldn’t give us a license in the first place.
Ed: Stuff like that makes people laugh.
Rob: I don’t care about people laughing, Ed! I only care about the license.
Ed: Rob! Listen to yourself! “I don’t care about people laughing”? That’s not the Rob MacDonald I know and love!
Rob: Drop it Ed!
Ed: No I won’t! What have you become? “People laughing” used to be all you cared about. You’ve devoted your whole life to it!
Rob: My hands are tied! We need this license if we want to perform.
Holds up license
Ed: Screw the license, man! You did before! Remember when the cops got you for drunk driving and you lost your license! But you still drove! You drove without a driver’s license and By God, you can act without an Anne of Green Gables Merchandise Regulatory License!
Rob: You’re absolutely right, Ed. I’ve become some mewling sycophant, rubbing bellies with those snakes in governmental beauracuracy!
Nancy: That’s not your style!
Rob: No, it’s not…. This is my style! (rips up license)
Jan: But what about all the scripts you and David Moses wrote in association with the Regulatory Commission?
Rob: To Hell with them, Jan! From now on we’re doing things with both barrels blaring!
Laurie: What obvious phallic symbolism!
Matt: Yeah, that’s all fine and dandy, Rob, but now we don’t have enough new material to put on a whole show. What are we gonna do? This audience is hungry for comedy.
Rob: Not to worry, Matt. When you’ve been in this Annekenstein business as long as me, you begin to get tired and lazy. And with that laziness comes a desire to rest on your laurels… Ed!
Ed: Yes, sir?
Rob: Ed, do we have any of those old sketches lying around? You know, the ones from the last four years?
Ed: I think they’re all in a trunk, backstage.
Nancy: If Ed can’t find them, I have everything saved from every year but the first, ’cause I wasn’t asked to be in that one.
Rob: Well, go get ’em, kids!
Ed and Nancy exit
Rob: Everyone, run off and learn your lines!
Jan and Laurie run off, Matt begins but stays to listen
Rob: We’re gonna put on an Annekenstein! And not some watered-down, government regulated Annekenstein, but a good, old fashioned barn-raising Annekenstein. Like they used to do in Them Times. We’ll take the best of all the old shows, put them together with some new stuff, and put on a show to end all shows!
Matt: What’ll we call it?
Rob: How ’bout “The Best of Annekenstein”!
Matt: Couldn’t we call it “Spirit of The Nation”?
Rob: Are you out of your fucking mind?… Let’s go!
Unfunny as comedy. Okay as drama. Barely.
I knew I was in trouble, pretty much right away.
In an effort to salvage some sort of a season out of this Life-On-Hold-And-Oh-Yeah-A-Pandemic-Too situation in which we find ourselves immersed, the producers of perennial The Guild mainstay Anne & Gilbert the Musical stubbornly insisted on “putting on a show” this summer. This, despite pretty much the rest of the theatrical community here on The Island, and around the world, stating “That, sir, is nigh on impossible!” They came upon the idea of presenting The Songs of Anne & Gilbert, the Musical.
It is, they tell us, a pared-back theatrical experience, comprised of six performers, two musicians, and a trio of young dancers, performing select songs from the musical along with a few that never made it into the show.
I knew I was in trouble, pretty much right away.
The Guild has altered its theatre to accommodate the safety of its patrons, according to regulations and guidelines set by the Chief Public Health Office and Renew PEI. So the theatre has a maximum of 50 seats placed in small groupings throughout the audience area. It takes what was already an intimate space and makes it even more intimate.
I knew I was in trouble, pretty much right away.
The show started with a performance of The Log Driver’s Waltz by the three female performers. And, yeah, so, I knew I was in trouble, pretty much right away, when I started crying. Crying at The Log Driver’s Waltz. I never considered this a song to cry at. Definitely a song to enjoy, as experienced via the NFB’s animated short, which I’m including here:
So, I was shocked and curious as to why I found myself crying. Not, like, full-on blubbering wailing or anything. More like lump in throat, welling eyes, quivering bottom lip. It was sung beautifully, wonderful harmonies, and a pure joy of performance. And it made me cry. As I’ve said, I knew I was in trouble, pretty much right away.
So, long story short, I cried my way through the first five songs or so, before I managed to compose myself – only to find actual tears falling down my cheeks again about three-quarters of the way through the show, well after I thought the crying episode was over for me.
So, what happened? Well, the pandemic happened and it, you know, totally screwed up all of our all’s capabilities to deal with our emotions. And then this show happened. This intimate, personal, professional show happened. And I guess I wasn’t ready for it.
The simple staging of the show creates a very warm and inviting, intimate experience. The two musicians – Music Director Lisa MacDougall playing keyboards and accordion, and Laurie Forsyth playing cello and upright bass – remain onstage throughout, with the singers coming and going as their performances require.
The six singers – Jacob Hemphill, Morgan Wagner, Page Gallant, Simone Derome, Nick Whelan, & Melanie Piatocha – are exceptional. When they sing solo, they absolutely own and inhabit the songs they are singing. When they sing together, in duos or trios, or as an ensemble, their voices blend exquisitely, creating pure and beautiful harmonies. All to the point of eliciting tears and emotions – seemingly at whim – from a rather stoic and curmudgeonly middle-aged reviewer.
Each performer gets their moment to introduce themselves and explain their personal connection to the show and its history. And each takes what could be a bit of a hokey “allow me to emote myself” moment and turns it into a personal and touching evocation. Special mention must be made of Morgan Wagner who quadruple-threatened herself into the role of fiddler with the band – a truly impressively talented performer. Even music director Lisa MacDougall, gets in on the feels, and then offers up her rendition of a wonderful ballad. I did find myself wishing for cellist Laurie Forsyth to speak a bit of her experience, to have her own solitary moment. She was the only of the cast, apart from the young dancers, who didn’t have that opportunity of focus.
In trying to figure out why I enjoyed this show so much, I’ve come to the conclusion that something interesting happens when the focus is purely on the songs from a musical. Not having to worry about the story (not that it is a big worry) allows us to devote the entirety of our attentions on the quality of the songwriting. And I was thrilled and excited to realize just how terrific they are. Kudos to writers Jeff Hochhauser, Bob Johnson and Nancy White for their exemplary talents. If nothing else, you’ve created an Island anthem in “Island Through and Through” that will live on forever.
What is perhaps most remarkable, for me, is this: The performances on the night I saw this show made me feel that this night’s show was a special and unique experience. They perform this show six times a week, and I have no doubt that there must be a bit of a rote element to the proceedings for everyone involved. So to make it seem like the show I saw was somehow elevated and special is a testament to the talents of everyone involved in the production.
My only slight criticism of the show has to do with the inclusion of the young dancers who appear a few times throughout. While their participation no doubt adds an injection of energy and movement to an otherwise grounded staging, the quality of performance was rather below the exceptional we experienced throughout the rest of the evening. Just a little bit sloppy. I’ll just leave it at that.
You should go see The Songs of Anne & Gilbert the Musical. For the superb songs. For the talented performances. For the joy of experiencing theatre.