27 October 2010

Endangered: ROA's Giant Rabbit


Just the other night my animal-obsessed wife and I were on the way home on the 38 bus and she got pretty excited as we passed ROA's beaver and rabbit on Hackney Road. She doesn't usually get all that excited about street art. But big beautiful animal paintings are loved by all creatures great and small. And great news: there are quite a few of his eye-catching creatures dotted around Shoreditch and Hackney.

The very next day I read some bad news: Hackney Council wants to paint over the rabbit. They are calling it "a blight on the environment." But they're wrong. Tell them so.

I was signature 158, two days later it's up to almost 900. But it's going to take lots more to save the work. So sign the petition, and do it now.

From The Guardian article: "The building's owners had granted the artist permission to create the piece, but they have been served with a removal notice by Hackney council, warning that unless they "remove or obliterate the graffiti" within 14 days, a council contractor will paint over the wall and charge them for the service."

This could be the beginning of a horrible trend. Let's not start down that path.



25 October 2010

John Lennon/NYC/On and on


On October 9th 2010 John Lennon would have been 70. Of course, he didn't live that long. This month there's a lot of reflecting on the musical genius and cultural icon. What could have been, and what was.

Tomorrow and Thursday, as part of the BFI 54th London Film Fest, there's Michael Epstein's LennoNYC - a film about John Lennon's relationship with the Big Apple.

It sounds like a good movie. Whether you're going to that premiere or not (tickets for Wednesday have sold out, but there are apparently still seats for Thursday), I recommend watching Dan Bull's short song and video Lennononandonandon. Click through for a poignant song title check-a-thon, simply animated.

The animation was done by Dice Productions, and all put together to commemorate the unveiling of a Blue Plaque at 34 Montagu Place in Marlyebone.

If you want a bit more John Lennon animated, and haven't already, check out I Met the Walrus, the short film about 14-year old Jerry Levitan's 1969 interview with John in a Toronto hotel room.


20 October 2010

Recruitment, Reshmruitment


I had a job interview on Tuesday. I know because I received an email and a phone call telling me so. I was so excited I spent all weekend thinking about how my jobhunt had turned around. I had an interview time booked, and had even checked out their website. It was succinct. Punchy, even.

Then, on Monday I turned my laptop on. Too lazy to attempt their web address directly, I surfed over to Google. I started typing the name of the company with which I had an interview into the search field: "London Green Marketing." I got as far as "London Green Mark-" before Google helpfully filled in the rest "-eting scam."

Google, for those of you who don't know, is an internet search engine that will attempt to help you in your internet query by guessing what you're about to type, based on the frequency with which those word combinations are typed in around the world.

Turns out there's something called a 'recruitment scam', that, according to the average internet user, this potential employer may be running. As far as I can tell, a 'recruitment scam' exists to wheedle a free days work out of hapless, over-keen job applicants.

The hustle consists of a short pre-screening interview, usually at a dodgy unmarked office (which you inevitably pass). Then you do a 'trial day' at the same unmarked office, where you get paid on commission. Or something. Maybe you go keep going back until you figure it out? Maybe they move the office in the middle of the night so you can't go back? I don't know. It's very unclear. Maybe the obfuscation and disinformation is part of an elaborate conspiracy of silence.

It seems way more convoluted and involved - not to mention inefficient - than just actually hiring somebody to do a job.

Anyway, the good news is: the pre-screening interview went really well. I have my first trial day next week!


19 October 2010

Funny Business @The Monarch

I not only did my first stand-up gig ever recently, I also did a second. This second gig was a five-minute set as part of the new Funny Business nights at The Monarch pub in Camden. Organized by Dai 4 Films.

The night was alright. My set was OK. Everything was decent. The great thing was that they filmed it all, and cut together a short, punchline-free chunk of my set and put it on Youtube. And misspelled my name.

They randomly paired me with another performer named Donna Scott. Click through to see the clip.

I'm thinking of shooting for a third set. Sometime soon, hopefully.


13 October 2010

Belgium: Comedy Central

The subheading to the cover story in this month's B. There Magazine is "Belgium's best stand-ups, live and unleashed."

This article is notable largely because it's a fascinating look into live comedy in Belgium, but also of significance is the fact that the comedians 'unleashed' on me. I interviewed Alex Agnew, David Lemkin, and Laurence Bibot. And then I wrote about it. And then they put it on the cover. My first cover story. Check it out:

Famous for the surreal wit of painter René Magritte – he of ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ fame – Belgium’s love of absurdity is also to be found in its burgeoning multilingual stand-up scene. Ryan Millar meets the comics who make the country laugh

Read the rest of the article here.


12 October 2010

Givin' Thanks


No matter how many times you do it, getting bumped out of university into the real world is a shock. I've done it twice.

The first time I emerged from an ivory tower - with a BA in Communications from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver - I spent the following four days packing and then promptly got on a plane and moved to Rome.

This time is no less disconcerting, though the city I find myself in is full of English speakers, and I've had a year to adjust to it. But post-graduation it is still a struggle to find my feet, right the ship, keep my chin up, and other clichés.

The good news is that I'm a whole lot smarter than last time around. Now I have a Masters' Degree. In Professional Writing. I'm a Master Professional.

I am a much more capable writer, editor, performer, project manager, and whatever else you're hiring for, I assure you that I'm good at that too. I may not necessarily be a Master of this hypothetical activity, but it's only a matter of time.

Unfortunately, the bluster and bravado of being a higher-educated only works part-time. Sometimes, whilst job-hunting, you need to allow yourself the space to plumb the depths of the inky blackness of your crushed soul.

But when you emerge from that, it will likely be on Canadian Thanksgiving, and you will be reminded of how much you have to be thankful for.

Such as:

  • Hockey season has started anew
  • An amazing network of friends and family
  • A wife who is awesome and funny and a great motivating force
  • Marbles

These are all positives, and yet, still, I'd like to be able to afford a turkey - at least by the time American Thanksgiving rolls around.


02 October 2010

Iron Cobra in London(!)

London is about to get a Canadian Improv invasion. I've been here for some time doing some groundwork and getting things organized, and now it's time roll out a some heavy-duty Canadiana.

This weekend, it's a full-on assault to the collective solar plexus with a full slate of workshops and shows, all of which feature the amazingly talented and singularly wonderful Becky Johnson, of Iron Cobra fame/notoriety.

Her solo show Iron Cobra (Without Graham) is currently touring the continent of Greater Europe.

She touches down in London for a weekend of outstanding improv on the Canadian tip. Action dates are 9-11 of Rocktober. Presented in association with alt-comedy legends Robin & Partridge


10 October - SHOW
Robin & Partridge present: Iron Cobra (Without Graham) and Marbles. At a Secret Location. Tickets.

11 October - SHOW
50:50 Comedy featuring Iron Cobra (Without Graham). At The Wilmington Arms. Tickets.

9 & 10 October - WORKSHOPS
Robin & Partridge present: Canadian Improv Workshop Club
Becky and I will be doing a weekend series of workshops full of hilarious, tender, specific and motivational activities to push sincerity and stories to new heights. I guarantee awesomeness. Info.