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.
From 1991 to 1995, OffStage Theatre was a bare-bones, smaller-than-small independent theatre company in Charlottetown. Its King (and Fool) was David Moses. I was his Number One, I guess, and learned a whole heck of a lot during this time. Most all of it from David. Others named in this history more or less came and went, but it was mostly David and me who ended up sweeping the floors the most. Whatever I have become in Charlottetown’s theatre scene, it was borne out of these years. I am eternally grateful to have had the experience.
For awhile, Off Stage had a nice head of steam going, but steam doesn’t pay the bills. A constantly leaking roof in our first home became more and more of an issue, as did malfunctioning theatre equipment, a total lack of storage and no dressing rooms to speak of; it all conspired to drag us down. Fortunately, we had to energy of youth and the passion of artists, and through both were able to ignore the obvious glaring financial discrepancies involved in paying rent with four-dollar ticket prices.
It was exciting, trying to live up to the company’s mandate of creating and producing original works of theatre. I am proud of everything we created. It was awesome, too, to bring in other theatre artists from across the Island and Canada, like Andy Jones of Codco, and see their processes.
Energy and enthusiasm is wonderful, but working at it for less than no money isn’t feasible, and that takes its toll eventually. It was a great run. And I’m still trying to make bank on some of the things we ended up creating.
Here, then, is a just-the-facts-ma’am history of OffStage Theatre. Personal remembrances and anecdotes are likely to follow. But for now, just the cold, unemotional dates and details.
The Pre-History of Off-Stage Theatre
The seeds likely were sown a few years before 1989, as many of the principles got to know each other through the UPEI Theatre Society in the mid-1980s.
But it was 1989 when it started. During that summer, feeling the need to develop their theatre skills, Rob MacDonald, Linda Wigmore, Donna Wigmore, Peter Ewart, Dianne Campbell, Nancy McLure, and Jane Wells approached David Moses to teach acting classes. David was a theatre-guy, a good friend, mentor, and had directed theatre and taught acting before. He was, at the time, on summer break from the National Theatre School of Canada, where he was studying direction and acting. David agreed.
When David returned to school in Montreal in the fall, many of the people in the acting class maintained their interest in theatre by writing, performing, and directing plays around Charlottetown.
In April, after leaving the National Theatre School and returning to Charlottetown, David contacted members of the original acting class, and other interested individuals, expressing an interest in forming a theatre company that would produce original plays and develop the skills of the company members. The focus would be on process as well as product. All involved agreed this is good, a name was agreed upon, and in April 1990, in a small apartment on Queen Street, OffStage Theatre was born.
Billy & Biff vs. Dracula, by Nick Grant
In true independent theatre style, through various fund-raisers and flea markets, OffStage raised a whopping $500 for their first production, Billy & Biff vs. Dracula.
The play, by PEI writer Nick Grant (living in Montreal at the time), was work-shopped over the telephone and through the mail. The original script, gender-blind casting (in the role of Dracula), and unusual sets made for an exciting first production.
It was presented to the public for three nights in August 1990 at the Duffy Amphitheatre, UPEI. OffStage Theatre was off and running.
In the fall of 1990, OffStage Theatre was commissioned by the Festival of the Arts committee to produce an original new play for children for the Fall Festival.
The Pied-Piper of Hamelin
OffStage created and performed their version of the fairytale classic The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
As would become common for most original OffStage productions, “Piper” was created by the actors and director during rehearsals. The actual writing of the script was done by David Moses and Rob MacDonald after each rehearsal.
Piper was well-received by audiences.
After “Piper”, OffStage was successfully incorporated as a non-profit company. The hope was this would help with funding, grants and sponsorships, etc.
Late in 1990, OffStage Theatre Company moved into a 2nd-floor studio and office space it shared with the Charlottetown Ballet Theatre, 134 Richmond Street.
Children’s Theatre Series
OffStage was awarded a grant from the PEI Council of the Arts, to produce a series of three plays for children. From November 1990 to January 1991, the Company produced revised versions of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Three Little Pigs, and created a new play, The Clown Show. The overwhelming response from day-cares and kindergartens (children and adults) showed a sincere need for such productions for young Islanders.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Redux)
Whereas the original Off Stage PIPER was darker, scarier, and moodier, this revised version of the play was totally re-written by David Moses and Rob MacDonald, and concentrated more on slap-stick and farcical comedy.
The Three Little Pigs
The Three Little Pigs remained truer to its original incarnation, which was written by Moses and MacDonald in 1989 for the West Prince Arts Council for summer performances at Mill River Park. It was revised and updated to make it longer, and new songs were added.
The Clown Show
The Clown Show was a series of sketches created mostly by the actors improvisational work in rehearsals. Again Moses and MacDonald worked together to complete a final script.
The Kelly Murder
In the Spring of 1991, OffStage Theatre produced The Kelly Murder, a docu-drama concerning the murder of a black youth in Charlottetown in the late 1800s. Written by Artistic Director David Moses, the play was cast with 28 actors, professional and amateur, from across the Island. It played to sold-out houses at The MacKenzie Theatre, and won a PEI Heritage Award.
Another Clown Show
OffStage Theatre was asked to present their Clown Show for a Confederation Centre fund-raising fair. Rather than present the same play they already produced, OffStage created an almost entirely all-new show. This new show also received overwhelming support by all who saw it.
First Summer Season
In the spring of 1991, while sharing a second-floor loft office on Richmond Street, OffStage began rehearsals for its first full summer season. The PEI Council of the Arts awarded a grant of $3600 for the project. And The Canada Council Explorations Program awarded $12,000. Most of this money would go towards construction and renovation of their new theatre space in the old Seaman’s Building on King Street (where City Cinema currently resides).
David Moses invited National Theatre School friends, actors Rick Roberts and Marjorie Campbell, along with actor/puppeteer Mike Peterson to be part of the summer’s cast.
Delays in renovations caused a delay in their planned opening date. However, on July 19, 1991, OffStage Theatre Company premiered its first summer season productions.
The Kelly Murder (Redux)
The Kelly Murder was reworked, and remounted with a cast of six actors playing 40 characters.
The Entertainers, an experimental piece written by Rick Roberts, starring David Moses and the puppetry of Mike Peterson, played at lunchtimes.
As planned, these shows were replaced in August by Annekenstein, created by Rob MacDonald, written by Rob MacDonald and the cast.
The Prompter, written by David Moses, starring Mae Ames and Marjorie Campbell, was presented during lunchtime.
The overall response to OffStage Theatre’s first summer season was very positive, and the comedy revue Annekenstein was declared the show of the summer.
Once word got out that a play was being produced that made fun of the Island-icon Anne of Green Gables, the shows sold-out and continued to do so for the remainder of its three week run.
Thrilled by the appeal of Annekenstein, the company was also proud that all the shows presented that summer were original works, all positively appreciated, and three of the four were created by Island playwrights.
In order to be able to put on their first productions in their new home, invaluable assistance and support was provided by the Confederation Centre Theatre Department, Theatre PEI, Colonel Grey High School, and in particular Errol Robertson, Rick Warren, Ron Irving and Paul Druet. These organizations and individuals donated equipment, expertise, set pieces and moral support.
In the fall, Off Stage offered its first semester of Acting Classes.
Off Stage was asked to create a humorous show about AIDS and AIDS Awareness for the PEI Dept. of Health and Social Services. Despite the heavy subject matter, Rob MacDonald and David Moses wrote a script based on rehearsal improvisations, and it was performed as part of an AIDS Symposium. The audience was appreciative and welcomed a lighter take on the issue.
Off Stage hosted a three day workshop in Clown work. The workshop was led by nationally acclaimed clown teacher, Leah Cherniak, from Theatre Colombus in Toronto.
Off Stage hosted workshops in Theatre Improvisation which led to weekly presentations of Theatre Sports. These would continue throughout the winter.
As winter began, plans to mount another season of children’s plays proved unsuccessful due to insufficient funding. Off Stage was able to present two new clown shows developed out of the workshop given in the fall. One show toured Island Schools in all three counties. The other, A Clown’s Christmas was presented at OffStage Theatre during the holidays. A short film, THE FALL, was also produced, made through the Island Media Arts Co-op based on a sketch developed during this period.
Theatre Sports Improv
Theatre Sports continued every Friday night.
As a co-production with the UPEI Theatre Society, Off Stage Theatre and UPEI student cast-members created an original production entitled Life On Earth.
Off Stage presented a Theatre Bandwagon production of Island Smoke, written by Greg Dunham.
Annekenstein II and Island Smoke (Redux)
On July 1, 1992 Off Stage Theatre commenced its second season of summer productions in its theatre in Old Charlottetown. Rehearsals for the two plays Annekenstein II and a remount of Island Smoke began June 1st with a company of seven actors and a stage manager/technician.
A $10,000 grant for the summer season came from the Canada Council Explorations Program. Off Stage Theatre also received $5,000 from the PEI Council of the Arts.
Both plays were well- received by those who attend. Annekenstein II, which has an almost entirely new script, is especially popular, selling out regularly during its six week run.
The Bog Hoppers
The Bog Hoppers, with their concerts of tradition maritime music, made a welcome addition to the Off Stage summer line-up.
Late Night at Off Stage
Off Stage also initiated a series of “Late Night” One Person Performances: Andy Jones in Easy Pieces,, John Taylor in My Three Dads, and Clair Coulter in Wallace Shawn’s The Fever. This was thought to be an important step for the company in establishing connections with performers from across the country in an effort to excel in and experience a variety of theatrical forms.
A discouraging note regarding advertising– OffStage Theatre felt obliged to pull their newspaper advertising from the Guardian/Patriot after the first month to protest the paper’s neglect in sending a reviewer to OffStage shows. Other theatre companies were given prompt reviews at the start of their seasons but OffStage was not. After repeated requests were refused, OffStage cancelled their ads. Ironically, Toronto’s Globe and Mail reviewed Annekenstein II, shortly after which the Guardian finally did send a reporter.
In the fall, Off Stage was contracted to produce a play about teenage women and substance abuse. Over a dozen young women participated and the show toured many island junior high schools.
Off Stage second semester of acting class began.
As the first production of its first full winter season, Off Stage produced Dracula Lives, a new play by Nick Grant who, appropriately enough, wrote the first play Off Stage ever produced.
A Man Looking Out The Window
Off Stage Presented Greg Dunham’s one man show, A Man Looking Out The Window.
Land of the Midnight Sunshine Sketches
Off Stage Presented Hank Stinson’s one man show, Land of the Midnight Sun Sketches.
Les Belles Soeurs
Off Stage produced Les Belles Soeurs, cast with twelve island actresses.
Off Stage produced B-Movie, by Tom Wood.
Children’s Theatre Season
Off Stage Produced a series of three plays for young audiences: The Paperbag Princess, The Reluctant Dragon and Jack and the Beanstalk.
Arms and the Man
Off Stage presented, a Pleasant Productions production of Bernard Shaw’s, Arms and The Man.
Off Stage produced Sally Clark’s Moo.
Fun While It Lasted
In March 1992, due to insufficient funding, a leaking building, a growing debt, Off Stage began preparations to move out of 64 King Street. Fun While It Lasted, an original revue, was the last show produced at that location.
OffStage Theatre and Annekenstein is featured in an article on Anne of Green Gables in Air Canada’s in-fight magazine En Route.
In April, Off Stage found a new home at 203 Fitzroy Street. Renovations and preparations began.
May saw Off Stage hosting Theatre PEI’s New Voices Play writing Workshop and performing an Evening of Improvisation for the Professional Secretary’s Institute.
Off Stage produced the third summer season of Annekenstein, running June to September
It was the only play they produced that summer. As like previous years’ productions, this one continued to grow in popularity as the summer run continued, and was often sold out for the last weeks of performance.
Horatio, by Sean McQuaid
In October and November, Off Stage, in co-production with Theatre PEI, presented Horatio, by Sean McQuaid. This sequel to Hamlet was a winner of the previous spring’s New Voices Playwriting Contest. With a large cast, this was Off Stage’s grandest production since the original The Kelly Murder, and was a critical and popular success.
The Good, The Bad, and the Sugar Coated Peanut Butter Shredded Wheat Balls
Off Stage’s Fitzroy Street location had its final production, The Good, The Bad, and The Sugar Coated, Peanut Butter Shredded Wheat Balls, written by Rob MacDonald. This children’s play was performed for a small number of daycare children, and the public was invited to a workshop production, to which a small number attended.
Off Stage left Fitzroy Street to no-fixed-address. The fate of the company was in doubt. Plans were to find a space for the summer, and to produce another season of Annekenstein.
Off Stage managed to secure the Carriage House at the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, 2 Kent Street. Rehearsals and slight renovations began immediately.
The fourth season of Annekenstein was presented, July to September. Shows sold well all summer long and Off Stage declared the season a success. With the Museum Foundation pleased with their take on the box office, Off Stage and the Foundation made plans for another run the following summer.
In February, plans to produce a fifth season of Annekenstein fell apart when the Museum Foundation pulled out of the agreement after surrounding neighbors of the Carriage House voiced concerns and complaints about the Foundation using the Carriage House as a place of business in a residential area. Off Stage was again homeless with no future productions in sight.
In May, the CP Prince Edward Hotel, lower Queen Street, offered Off Stage a deal to perform Annekenstein in the Auriga Room of the hotel. Off Stage accepted.
Rehearsals and renovations get underway in June for Annekenstein V: The Best of Annekenstein.
Annekenstein V: The Best of Annekenstein
From July to September, four nights a week, Off Stage presented Annekenstein V to great response from the public. Shows average 75% capacity of the 100 seat room for the entire season, with many nights at standing room only. Financially, Off Stage had its greatest success.
As Annekenstein continued to make a name for itself that even began to reach outside of PEI, the production was featured on an episode of CBC Television’s On The Road Again with Wayne Rostad.
After a mutually successful season, tentative plans were made with the CP Hotel to perform another Annekenstein for the summer of 1996. It soon became apparent that these plans wouldn’t come through, as the hotel underwent structural renovations which left them without a venue to offer Off Stage.
In November, once again homeless, and with the fact that the company had become a one play, one season company, and was no longer following its mandate, and with no one with a strong enough desire to take over the management, Off Stage resigned its status as a non-profit, charitable organization, and for all intents and purposes was no longer a company.
Off Stage Theatre Company ceased to produce theatre under its name.
Despite the dissolution of OffStage Theatre, Dave & Rob managed to secure the bar Myron’s as a venue for a 6th summer run of Annekenstein, to run June to August. Despite being, basically, theatre in a bar, it performs quite well.
Annekenstein’s 7th summer season returned to Myron’s, from June to August, six nights a week. Once again, a combination of brand new material and classic Annekenstein favourites worked well and shows sold well.
And, there you have it! A history of OffStage Theatre Company. Do you have any memories of OffStage Theatre? Any plays or performances or music you saw there that stuck with you? I’d love to hear your memories.
Dave Stewart and I come up with all sorts of strange, funny-to-us, oddball things. One such thing was the idea of an old vaudeville comedy act called Flying Away Dead and Boobs. FAD was one character, Boobs the other. I cannot remember how we came up with the names, but it is a terrible name for a comedy duo. That is why we liked it so much.
Anyway, away in the drawers of my brain they sat. One day, in 2003, while trying to come up with a sketch idea for Sketch-22, I thought of a gag along the lines of Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First classic, only using the names of local politicians of the time. And who better to present such a vaudevillian treat but Flying Away Dead and Boobs.
I started to write it, got only so far, and gave up. It went unused, mercifully. Here, though, for your edification and bemusement, is the script as it lay.
Boobs: Well, Flying Away Dead, here you are, over 90 years old. Did you think you’d ever see 2003?
FAD:Two thousand and three what?
Boobs: So, Flying Away Dead, I hear you got a job in the government and you’re responsible for the daily waste watch disposal at the provincial legislature.
FAD: That’s right, Boobs.
Boobs: And somehow you managed to get some big wigs to help you sort out all the garbage at province house.
FAD: Oh, yes. Lotsa big wigs. Lawyers and politicians. Even the Premier of the province is gonna help.
Boobs: Really. Well, I’d like to know more about who’s gonna sort your garbage. For instance, who’s gonna be responsible for putting the waste in the black containers?
Boobs: Oh, is that what you call them black containers? Bins?
FAD: That’s right.
Boobs: So, who’s gonna be responsible for the waste bins?
FAD: Yes, totally responsible.
Boobs: Who’s gonna be totally responsible?
FAD: For the waste? Binns.
Boobs: Yeah, for them.
FAD: He sure will.
Boobs: Who will?
Boobs: Yeah, that’s what I want to know. What’s the name of the guy who’s taking the waste out to the black containers?
Boobs: Sorry…to the bins. What’s his name?
FAD: The name of the guy taking the garbage to the waste? Binns.
Boobs: And what would his name be?
FAD: I just told you.
Boobs: No you didn’t.
FAD: I did. But I’ll tell you one more time…and I’ll speak slowly…This is the name… of the guy…taking the garbage… to the waste…Binns.
(pause as Boobs waits…finally:)
Boobs: What is the name of the guy taking the garbage to the waste?
Boobs: Yes, the name of the guy taking the garbage to the waste bins.
FAD: Now you got it!
Boobs: I do?
Boobs: Let’s say it’s Friday and everybody’s eatin’ fish. Now, after the garbage is collected, somebody takes the unused fish out to the black waste container.
FAD: Oh no, fish’d be compost. That’s Scales.
Boobs: Scales is compost?
FAD: He sure is. Does a good job of it too.
Boobs: Who does a good job of what now?
Boobs: Who does a good job of fish scales?
FAD: Best I’ve ever seen!
Boobs: Let me get this straight. Scales goes to the compost?
Boobs: Everyday? What if there’s no fish that day?
I haven’t forgotten you. This is the typical "I’ve been neglecting my blog" post. I’ve just been too busy settling into my new job, and with a crazy-busy Sketch22 schedule to find time to even surf the web, let alone post witty and insightful commentaries on the important things in life. Once things settle down, I’ll be back at it.
The ink is still wet on the contract that I signed. The one that says I am now employed (well, I start in 10 days). It’s been a long time coming. Back in May of last year, when I was employed by MBS Radio, the CHTN portion of Magic 93/CFCY/CHTN was forced by the CRTC to go out on its own, and with it, a large portion of the staff went too. What happened was CFCY and Magic 93 were MBS stations, and CHTN was a Newcap station. Because of the small size of the market, it was deemed, a number of years ago, that it would be in the best interest of all to pool resources and building and office, and all work together. Then, last year, the CRTC reversed that decision and said that CHTN would have to move into its own digs and operate as a separate company. So, a bunch of people from the amalgamated MBS/Newcap group left with Newcap.
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to leave and become part of the Newcap family of radio station employees. I stayed at MBS and continued working for MBS, a company, shall we say, not known for its affection for its employees. One of the people who did leave was the Creative Director. He and I comprised the Creative Department, and so when he left, I was on my own for a period of time, until such time a second writer was hired. I had assumed the duties and responsibilities of the Creative Director, with the promise of compensatory financial remuneration shortly in the future. In good faith, I waited for that remuneration. It never came, but the promises kept coming, however each time they seemed to be more and more vague. So, in July, fed up with doing more work for the same amount of pay, and with no other job or prospect awaiting me, I gave my notice that I would be leaving the company. I was asked to stay on until September and help train the people who would be replacing me. Since it was in my interest to get paid that extra month and a half, I agreed. So, in September, I left for good. I had a bit of money in my pocket from Sketch stuff, and a couple of pretty good paying freelance jobs that came up right after I left, so I wasn’t immediately concerned about money. Too, I was fortunate to be eligible for EI, since they agreed that leaving the position was an option that I was more or less justified in taking. So, while the money wasn’t flowing in, we were able to get by more or less. As the months wore on into the new year, the “get by more or less” kind of swung to the “less” side of things. Not a lot of prospects in terms of jobs, and the ones I applied for didn’t happen. A couple of months ago, I was made aware that CHTN (Newcap) would be, sometime soon, hiring a bunch of new staff, and one of them was a second Creative Writer. I pinned my hopes on getting that job. It’s a job that I quite enjoy and one that I seem to perform well. So, the anticipatory waiting began. It seemed to take forever for the job to get posted. First they had to wait (forever) to get CRTC approval on their switch from AM to FM. That came (in February, I believe), along with the approval of adding a second FM station for Newcap. Then came the wait for when the switch to FM would take place. Maybe in May. No, maybe in June. July? Probably July. Finally, the job I was hoping for was posted. I applied. It took a couple of weeks for a response on my application. In those couple of weeks, I had pretty much talked myself out of any chance to get the job. I was feeling kind of low. Like I said, I had kind of pinned my hopes on this job and the more I told myself I was a great candidate for it, the more the back of my mind told me I wouldn’t get it. Finally, I was asked to come in for an interview. It went okay. Another 10 days of waiting. Then, last night at 5:30, I was offered the job. I was asked if I needed any time to think it over. I said I’d been thinking it over for a number of months, and agreed to accept the offer. So, today I went in and signed the contract. I’ll be making a nice chunk of change more than I was at MBS. From all accounts from my former MBS colleagues who made the move last year to Newcap, they are a fantastic company to work for. Best of all, many of the people who moved from MBS last year were the people I most enjoyed working with at MBS. So, I’ll be reunited with them all, and I won’t have to go through that awful “new guy” period where I’m learning names and protocols, etc. So, I’m pretty pleased. It’ll be great to work again with these people, and exciting to work at a radio station that, at this stage, really seems committed to giving PEI a couple of radio stations that will be fun to listen to. Yay for me!
You may remember a couple of months ago, I was approached by a sort of grassroots marketing company and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the newly released DVD of Pamela Anderson and posting it to my blog. Of course you remember. This blog is very important to you. Anyway, I said I’d be delighted to do that (no qualms here about being a shill for the Hollywood machine). So they sent me the DVD and I watched it, and posted what I thought was a fairly un-shill like review. I’m not going to bother to find the post and provide a link to it, because somehow that implies these posts have worth. And while I suspect a number of readers get disconsolate if I don’t post something fresh for them to read each day, and they would argue that these posts do have worth, at least to them, I prefer to think of these posts as empty vessels. So, I reviewed it and that was that. Until today, when the same company emails me and asks if I’d be interested in presenting another review. Whereas last time I had to trek through the sludge of comedy that focused far too much on Miss Anderson’s gaping beaver (alleged) (Alleged gaping, not alleged beaver, because I think we’re all pretty sure she’s not got dangling participles down there), this time I may have struck gold. I’ll be sent a DVD of a new collector’s edition of one of my favourite movies: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
And just now, having re-read those last couple of sentences, I realise how sad and pathetic it is to create a post about how one is excited about the anticipation of receiving a free DVD in return for being something of a corporate whore. No. I will not allow myself to fall for that kind of talk. I am a valued member of the critical press. My opinion is cherished.
It is also for sale. If anyone else wants to send me stuff in return for my honest opinion of it, I’ll gladly listen to your offers. Perhaps you have a photo you took, and you have no idea if it’s Art. Send it to me, and I’ll tell you. Maybe you’re in charge of soliciting low-ranking bloggers for their opinions on how well the latest video iPod works. Send me one, and I’ll tell the world what I think. Maybe you sell frozen beefsteak from the western provinces and are trying to get a foothold here in Eastern Canada. Ship some steaks my way and I’ll cook ’em up and eat ’em. Then I’ll tell the great multitudes of readers (conservatively estimated now at at least tens of ones) whether they’re worth purchasing.
Two of the more annoying TV pitchmen in recent Canadian television history have recently ended their run. First, a couple of weeks ago, the very annoying Fake Scottish bloke who rudely confronted drinkers of Keiths beer was released from his contract, due to alleged dalliances into child pornography. While I wish it could have been for something far less seedy, I am, of course, thankful that he’s gone from the airwaves. Because Those Who Hate Him, Hate Him A Lot.
And yesterday it was announced that The Canadian Tire Guy has been retired from the Canadian Tire advertising cycle. Again, good news, I think, as I suspect that the shark has long been jumped by that campaign. The Canadian Tire Guy has, actually, become quite a national phenomenon. Especially the Hate that many people feel for him. This very site happens to be the number one Google search result for “Canadian Tire Guy” and “I hate the Canadian Tire Guy”. Ironic, I think, since the post referencing him ‘Why I Hate That Canadian Tire Guy’ has very little to actually do with him. I find it curious that so many people actively enter the search parameters “Hate Canadian Tire Guy”, and I find it kind of funny that when they come to my post, they get a post that must leave them a bit miffed, due to the lack of reference to him.
And still the Curiouser keeps getting curiouser. Today I received an email from a woman at The Ottawa Citizen asking if she could interview me for an article she’s writing on his retirement. My initial response was “no thanks. I have nothing of value to add to such a story.” But then I stopped and asked myself “What’s the more interesting and potentially, more exciting thing to do? Be interviewed or not be interviewed?” Since the obvious answer is “be interviewed”, and even though I still believed I had nothing of value to add to such an interview, I decided to do it. So, I just got off the phone with the journalist. We had a nice little chat about The Canadian Tire Guy, and also about the weirdness of how such an innocuous little post on such an innocuous little blog can lead to an interview (admittedly, on a rather innocuous little topic such as the Canadian Tire Guy’s retirement). I think I ended up offering a few interesting sound-bites.
And, what the whole thing has taught me is that I’m pretty tired of saying, hearing and typing the phrase Canadian Tire Guy.
I went last night to see both screenings of Reel Shorts at the Reel Island Film Festival. That’s a lot of sitting in those City Cinema seats, I’ll tell ya! Here, then, are my opinions on what I saw: Pete Murphy’s “The Olde Christmas Spirit” was shown first. Frankly, this was a rough piece of work. Pete, I think, has an interesting eye, but this film (as well as the few other films of his I’ve seen) suffers from poor acting, worse sound and lazy editing. The story and script, too, could have benefitted tremendously from a prudent editor. The acting in the first scene was, I’d have to describe as, plodding. Very slow and deliberate. Couple that with languid edits and the film starts off at a less than energetic pace. And slows down from there. The main trouble with the acting of the lead actor is that he tries too too hard to act Angst and tries to play “Cool guy” too much. His acting gets in the way of his, well, acting. I could go on, I suppose, but I have to live in this town. Next up was “Snowbird” The Search for Lonestar” by Scott Parsons. An interesting, but slightly flawed, docu-drama on the origins of Gene McLellan’s song Snowbird. I say flawed because of too much reliance on voice-over narration to tell us what is going on. It results in too much telling us the drama rather than showing us the drama. The story is about this woman trying to find out about a guy named Lonestar, a former lover, who apparently co-wrote a song about her with Gene McLellan. She’s trying to find out about the song. Turns out the song is Snowbird. Little things bugged me. Like when we flashback to the woman’s younger days, when she’s with Lonestar, she’s wearing the same short denim shorts that she’s wearing in “present day”. And there was no attempt to make her look younger in those flashback scenes. Maybe that was a conscious decision, but to me it belied the reality of those scenes where she was supposed to be a teenager. Especially since her “youthfulness” was supposed to be the thing that sets of the rest of the story. Small complaints, really. Third was Louise Lalonde’s “Courir la chandeleur”, a re-enactment of an old Acadien soiree, performed by Birchwood Intermediate French Immersion students. This was an enjoyable film. Yes, the acting of the junior high kids was pretty amateurish (and some of their French Immersion french was pretty rough), but their energy and enjoyment of the experience kept me interested. Probably could have shortened the amount of time we see them dancing to a tune, though. That seemed to go on a bit too long. Speaking of going on a bit too long: Jeremy Larter’s “A.J.” was a film that I absolutely hated and couldn’t wait for it to be over. Basically, this was a masterbatory piece of shit, where one guy, Jeremy Larter, points his camera at another guy (forget his name) who plays A.J. who may or may not be mentally handicapped and gets him to do “funny” stuff. What a piece of crap and a waste of my time! Scene after scene of this guy doing stupid, barely interesting, things. There was no apparent attempt at structure. Just random scene after scene of boring “look at me and how car-aaazy! I am” bullshit. Thank goodness for Joey Weale’s “Flagwar”. Basically, this film documents an elaborate game of capture the flag on the streets of Charlottetown. Very well done, it kept me interested and entertained for almost its entirety. I say “almost” because my only criticism is that it may be a few minutes too long, and a couple of times I wanted the action to move along, rather than showing me, yet again different versions of basically the same scene or idea. The film employed a lot of still-photos to further the action, and at first I was worried that such a technique might bog the film down. Nobody likes a slideshow, right. But, to his credit, Joey made it work beautifully. He used all kinds of tricks and techniques (without making them feel simply like tricks or techniques) to keep the action moving forward and to keep the audience engrossed and it worked wonderfully. It’s apparent that a great deal of thought and effort went into the production of film, and I was very much impressed with the whole thing. Of the first round of Reel Shorts, Flagwar got my “viewer’s choice” vote.
The second round of Reel Shorts was basically a display of the talents of Fox Henderson. Five of the nine shorts were either “all credits by Fox Henderson” and one other (Jack and The Mud Queen) utilized his studio and talents (to the point where I thought it was another by him, but in fact was directed by Devon McGregor). Rather than go through each of his films, I’ll offer a general opinion of his work. First of all, it’s obvious that he’s a very talented guy and so much of his work is impressive. Last year, he had a few animated films entered in RIFF 3, and my criticism then was that his films were technically interesting but failed on the story, editing and acting fronts. This year, all that improved dramatically, and I was very impressed with practically all of his work. Dan Caseley was very good playing Mr. Death in a couple of very funny silent movies. One aspect of his work that I don’t care for is in his choice to re-record the dialogue in a controlled environment (just like the big movie-makers do). While I understand the desire to want to control the sound, it can really adversely affect the performances if the actors aren’t up to the over-dubbing task. This was most apparent in my least favourite of his films “They That Did Dream”. The dialogue-audio re-dubbing was very intrusive to the enjoyment of the film. But, since I didn’t like the story at all anyway, I doubt that better audio would have helped much. I was very much impressed with the look of Jack and The Mud Queen, and the acting of the lead actor was good, but, like other films presented, this story needed to move along a lot more quickly. Once again, plodding direction gets in the way. Onto the non-Fox Henderson films of Reel Shorts 2: Daniel Arsenault’s “Music Has Family Roots” was a trifling bit of music video. Basically a single-camera, one shot thing showing two live musical performances of Michael and Robert Pendergast. Apart from a slightly interesting projection effect, there wasn’t much of interest in this, as a film. The music performances were good, though. “This and That” by Richie Mitchell was a film that I ended up not “getting”. I think it was about a guy who desired to be a gay thief, but wasn’t because of a priest in a car who followed him around. In one reality he has a companion who may or may not be his lover, and they steal some money from a store owner. In another reality, he is alone, with no companion, and rather than steal from, is given an envelope by, the store owner. He then gives the envelope to the priest. When he sees his alternate-universe companion crossing the street, he gasps, but the priest shakes his head “no”. ??? There are also some shots of a woman walking down the street. She has been shopping. I didn’t like this one very much. And the other non-Fox film was my very own, Christmas Lights. This film, of course, is brilliant, and above criticism. Seriously, though, I am very proud of this film and think it’s a pretty good piece of work. It’s a tight, compact, funny piece of tragic-comedy. The audience seemed to like it quite a bit. I do think (not really), however, that a conspiracy was hatched to confuse the audience (perhaps in an attempt to keep me from any chance of winning “viewer’s choice”?). First of all, on the website, my film was shown as being directed by Jason Rogerson. That was later corrected. Then, on the Viewer’s Choice slips of paper that each audience member was given, Driving Lights was shown as being directed by Rob MacLean. And, the title on the actual film is “Christmas Lights” not Driving Lights, but I think that one was an honest mistake. All the rest, though, is an obvious attempt to confuse the audience.
Of the second round of Reel Shorts, I voted Christmas Lights as my “viewer’s choice”. If it wasn’t in the running, then my vote would have gone to Fox Henderson’s “The Last Days of Death: After Life”. It was a very funny piece of comedy and my only criticisms of it are that it is too long and the joke doesn’t go anywhere. Each scene is merely a different version of the same joke. It is only too long because it’s one-joke retold again and again. And again. I wanted each scene to build on the previous scenes in some way, but they didn’t. As a result, the joke didn’t have a conclusion. It just ended.
In the past, I’ve railed against the Reel Island Film Festival for showing films that I didn’t think were good enough to be shown. I complained that RIFF’s eyes were bigger than its stomach. Meaning that the festival was too big for the amount and quality of films it screened. This year’s event, due to a lack of funding, was very much paired down compared to previous RIFF festivals. Whereas in the past, they might have tried to have two evenings of shorts screenings and would have had to “water down” the overall quality in order to fill up all the slots, this year’s festival, I think, benefitted by the single night (of shorts). The result was an evening with a pretty solid lineup of shorts. An impressive variety of films. I do think they need to be careful, though, with the potential problem that the RIFF could turn into the Fox Henderson Film Festival. Nothing against Fox, and his work is definitely worthy of being shown, but ideally, I would have liked to have seen a couple less entries from Fox and a couple more entries from other people.
Ten years ago, I spent a winter writing some short stories, based on the pervasiveness of the Anne of Green Gables culture of the Island. Over the holidays, as I was transferring files from an old dying computer, to a newer computer, I came across the folder of stories and started reading some of them. One was kind of a comedic horror story called Copper Acropolis. It has some funny elements to it, and some of the writing is kinda good, so I thought I’d serialize it here on The Annekenstein Monster. Keep in mind, though, that it hasn’t met an editor, so please, treat it with kindness. Copper Acropolis is kind of a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Frankenstein. Annekenstein itself, of course, was also the same amalgam of themes. Anyway, read it or not, here is the first chapter (of 10).
Chapter One: ‘Tarnished Homes and Egg Rolls’
The old mansion stood atop one of the steeper hills in the community of Afton Road, overlooking the sinewy end of the East River tributary that flowed from the Hillsborough Bay.A blood red dirt drive, its connection to Route 2 hidden amidst a heavy growth of scrub brush, peristaltically wound its way up the hill, through an overgrown grove of dying willow trees, breaking into an open field of grass that surrounded the large, ivory-white edifice.
The mansion was a three and a half story building; the top half story being composed of a large dome, which some of the older people around Afton Road claimed at one time housed an observatory.A number of Greek columns supported the expansive veranda that occupied the whole width of the front of the house. Above the large, wooden double front doors, ‘Copper Acropolis’ was engraved into the sandstone; the engraving now as faded and worn as the rest of the stone of the house.
Large blocks of red Island sandstone were used as a facade around the house.At some point in its life, the structure was bathed in a heavy coat of whitewash paint.Due to the heavy, hard rains of countless springs, and the wind and snows of years of harsh Island winters, the whitewash had faded off the red stone in such a way that gave the impression, to those who saw the house from Route 2, that the building was bleeding.
Other than the blood-dripping red and bird-turd white of the faded whitewash stone, the only other colour to be seen on the outside of the mansion was the tarnished green of the window shutters, gables, and the many buttresses of the observation dome.These adornments were all made of pure copper, and, when first installed on the house, how many years ago, no doubt would have been striking in their burnished copper lustre.Now, through years of neglect, they looked dirty.Thick green tarnished residue, along with the faecal droppings of generations of crows and other birds, had built up on the shutters, gables and dome over the years of negligence.This, along with the blood-dripping walls, its isolation high atop that steep hill, and the fact that no one lived in it for years, gave the mansion an ominous and mysterious reputation.No one now living in the community knew precisely how long it stood there, or whom had it built, but those of them who studied such things claimed that based on the style of its architecture, it was likely built in the first half of the 19th century.
Many in and around Afton Road believed it to be haunted.
Doctor Lucille Dewar was the present owner of Copper Acropolis.Born on Prince Edward Island, Lucille, at the age of five, lost both her loving parents. They, Lucille and her parents, were spectators of an afternoon card of horse-racing at the Charlottetown Driving Park during Old Home Week, when a competing horse went mad just as they were rounding the six-eighths’ pole for home in Race Three and jumped the fence.The horse, sulky, and jockey all landed squarely on Lucille’s parents, killing them and the jockey.The horse was later shot.Lucille was given the opportunity to pull the triggers on the double-barrelled shotgun, but had declined to do so.
Lucille escaped death that day because at the time of the accident, she was off buying an ice cream, a rare treat for a country girl.She had escaped death, but over the next fifteen years wished many times that she had died that day with her parents.For on that day her life turned upside down.From her birth, right up to the untimely end of the infamous Race Three at the CDP, Lucille had been a happy, intelligent, and well-mannered child.After that day, however, love and joy left Lucille’s heart.She was forced to live with her relatives, none of whom she cared for, nor whom cared for her, and who would often only take her for a short while before shuttling her off to the next furthest out relative.Eventually, at the age of eleven, the list of relatives ran out and she was placed in the Mount Herbert Children’s Orphanage.
Despite the hardship and uncertainty of her life, she managed to excel in each and every public school at which she was enrolled, and also at the orphanage school. Lucille Dewar was a genius.She was sure of it.When she was twelve, and not trusting the Island’s teachers or doctors to test her adequately, she devised her own test to find her Intelligence Quotient.She scored very high.She knew that with her keen intellect and burning desire for knowledge, she was bound for greatness.And it was this belief that kept her spirit alive.
But where her education flourished, her social life died.Because of her high intelligence, and her being new to each school every year, sometimes twice a year, she was hated by her class mates and became a social outcast.As soon as she came of age, she kept promising herself, as boys pulled her hair or called her names, she would move away, off the Island, to pursue her higher education.She came to hate Prince Edward Island and its intolerably ignorant and mean-spirited children.
When she finally did become legal, she had briefly considered moving to Charlottetown to live, but feeling that the small Prince of Wales College there could not offer her the quality of instruction that her knowledge-absorbing brain required, ended up deciding to make a clean break from the Island.
After a twenty-six year absence, she returned to P.E.I., unmarried, now a doctor and very wealthy. One of the Island newspapers reported the ‘Prodigal Island Girl Returns Home A Millionaire Doctor’ and an interest in her began to grow.Her sudden return to the Island; her unexplained, more-than-you-could-make-as-a-doctor wealth; her spinsterish, and frugal lifestyle; her use of strange, big words made her an enigmatic celebrity on the Island.When asked what areas of study she had pursued away, or, how she, an unmarried woman, came upon such a fortune, she remained imperspicuous.
Years of social outcasting had, seemingly, evaporated any skills she may have had to handle the sudden popularity.The more questions people asked of her, the less she told.And the less she told, the more people wanted to know about her.She wasn’t impolite in her silence, and sometimes seemed to enjoy the attention she received wherever she would go.Soon it became an Island obsession to speculate on the mystery that was Doctor Lucille Dewar.
And when she, against the advice of everyone but the real estate agent, (there were even letters to the editors of the papers advising her against it), went and bought the dilapidated old mansion with the strange name of ‘Copper Acropolis’ and became a total recluse, the obsession grew to the height of its fever.But like all fevers, once this one reached its height, it quickly fell, and the mania surrounding the mysterious and eremitic Doctor Dewar eventually died, and everyone left her alone in her big house to do whatever it was that she did.Even the speculation as to what she did in that big house gradually ended.
After that, the only time her name even came up in the newspaper was when she hired, as a manservant and chauffeur, the Charlottetown Chinese restaurateur named Yune Mune.Yune came under her employ approximately three years after the ‘fever’ broke, about four years after her initial return to the Isle.
Yune, a handsome, classy gentleman, had owned The Blue Mune, the first Chinese restaurant in Charlottetown.When the local newspapers disclosed that he was being investigated for allegedly caressing and speaking indecencies to a rich, married, and well respected female patron, he, despite his claims that the indecencies and caresses were mutually entertained and embarked upon, was, due to public outrage, forced to close down his previously successful enterprise.
Dr. Dewar wrote him a letter offering employment.He accepted, quickly sold his property for a ridiculously small amount and moved into Copper Acropolis.Two months later, a page six article in the newspaper cleared him of any wrongdoing after the rich, married, and well respected female patron dropped her charge, was divorced from her husband and moved to the Yukon with a black lumberjack out of Halifax.At this point, hardly anyone saw, or cared that they did or didn’t see Doctor Lucille Dewar.Occasionally she would be seen, with Yune Mune driving about the countryside.She almost never emerged from the mansion.Yune Mune was her link to the community of Afton Road, and to the world.She was forgotten.
————- Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Copper Acropolis, right here on The Annekenstein Monster!
I’ve often thought that I behave younger than my “real” age. In my mind, I’m still a young guy, even though my physical body tells me otherwise.
Well, now it’s official. According the the scientific computations based on this test, I act as if I’m 24 years old. I think, though, that this low number has more to do with me answering “Spongebob Squarepants” than anything else.
Those who know me, what age do you think I exist at?
What age do you act?
You Are 24 Years Old
Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view – and you look at the world with awe.
13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.
20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what’s to come… love, work, and new experiences.
30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You’ve had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
40+: You are a mature adult. You’ve been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.