Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Rant

I so agree, strange little dude:

That said, my little guy will be a dragon tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Scott Pynn Art

You know, I believe that Newfoundlanders are a talented lot: a fine crew. Contrary to all those Newfie jokes out there, we can get the job done. Hell, we are currently building the entire province of Alberta! We are sharp, clear minded, we cut through the bullshit. One need only read the works of Ray Guy, Rex Murphy, or Rick Mercer to see that. We are artisans, painters, sculptors and poets. And we do it all with our distinct sense of the world, our wit, and our poetic voice.

I recently came across the works of Labrador native, 27 year old Scott Pynn , and I was lucky enough to be able to ask him a few questions about his life and work as an artist. A self described "Average Joe", Scott used to work as a roofer, a carpenters assistant, and a lumberjack. The latter he said was “the most interesting because I would spend all day cutting down trees and then go home and paint them back up again”. Scott’s been painting since he was young. He was inspired by his grandfather, also an artist, who specializes in painting steam locomotives. He taught Scott when he was “just a young pup” beginning with the basics of composition, color, and perspective: “It was the greatest gift he ever could have given me.”

Art is not a choice for Scott- it is something he must do: “I have always been compelled to make things and feel disconnected from myself when I don't have a creative outlet. I sometimes joke that if I never painted my mind would explode, it's hard to pinpoint what inspires me; it's a mixture of everything, nature of course being a big part. But I guess what I strive for the most is to describe in paint those indescribable feelings you get so often in life. Like on a crisp fall evening when the leaves are crunching under your feet and you can smell wood smoke in the air, or that feeling in your stomach around Christmas time. You know the feeling I'm talking about, everyone does. Sometimes I'm inspired by very big things like a thunder and lightning storm and sometimes it can be as small as watching a drop of rain slowly trickle down the stem of a daisy.” Scott has had a variety of shows in the last few years in Labrador, New Brunswick and Alberta, and more are in the works. Currently he has the largest Facebook Art Group with over twenty-five thousand members and growing. He is “thrilled” with the support he has received fellow Newfoundlanders.

I have some really beautiful pieces of art in my small collection of Newfoundland works- and I picked each because they spoke to me somehow. Of course, because I live off Rock now, these pieces mean so much more to me: they are a comfort. But my feelings towards Scott's pieces were very different: I haven't reacted to art work so viscerally in a long time.

I lived in Wabush, and Goose Bay for a few years as a child- and it was a golden time for me. I was a happy kid then; my family loved it there. I don’t often think of Labrador because my time there was so short. But when I first saw Scott’s work, I found myself whirling back to that apartment on Cormac drive…to the woods beyond where I would toboggan, ski-doo, build snow forts, and make snow angels in the deep of the whitest snow. I remembered the magic of the Northern Sky, with her rainbow of lights swirling in dark- the trees bowed by the weight of the snow, themselves awed by celestial majesty. Scott’s work brought it all back in a bittersweet rush of nostalgia; made me a little weepy. But then, that is what great art does.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Autumn traditions in Newfoundland.

I love autumn. I love the cool days and crisp nights; the changing leaves that swirl in the wind whispering their way through the sky. Of course this fall has had none of that. Jeeze, it has been hot as balls these past few weeks. Feels like we may just skip fall and dive head long into winter- though at the rate we are going, it looks like it will be a green one.

Aside from the weather cliches, I love autumn because of all the traditions that go with it. Many of my favorites begin at harvest time, it has become and annual tradition for my husband and I to pick apples at Archibald's Orchard , and pick up a nice fruit wine for Thanksgiving at the same time. We also head on over to Pingles Farm to pick our pumpkin for Halloween- and deck the house out so it looks like a tribute to Vincent Price. And now it is something we do with our son.

Many of the autumn season's customs are historically related. Although there was no Thanksgiving Day holiday in Newfoundland Pre-Confederation, many people celebrated it as part Harvest and it included Halloween. The whole season of Halloween is a little different back home on the Rock. There are at least a half-dozen Halloween-related customs that are unique to Newfoundland, though their roots, like our ancestors, reach back to other places. We just made them our own.

For example, the few days before Halloween and sometimes after it used to be called Mischief Week. Old Newfoundland's children traditionally believed that there are certain kinds of mischief allowed at that time: stuffing sods in chimneys, soaping windows, taking pins from gate hinges, and so on. It in no way resembles the Devils night insanity that sometimes goes on across Canada and the US. Mischief week was just harmless little pranks.

In Trinity Bay North, many people participated in Torch Night, when young men would carry torches around the community in a parade. Torches were made from just about anything: from old boots soaked in fish oil, or barrels of kindling, even old dried-up tar mops; in fact the name Tar Mop Night was used in the White Bay area. And come on, is there anywhere else on the planet that still celebrates Gay Fawkes night besides the UK and Newfoundland?

I miss all that kind of stuff now. Not just because that the weather here in Ontario is all off, but that deep rooted sense of tradition and community is so lacking here. Cripes, some neighborhoods and apartment buildings don’t even allow Halloween. It is kind of sad really. And we are losing it back home too, slowly but surely. I don’t think Tar Mop Night has been seen in about 60 years or more now.

I know some traditions die out for practical reasons- imagine Guy Fawkes night downtown Toronto! The police would show up in Riot gear. Seriously, we need to sit down and look at all those wonderful traditions we had for so many years, and really give some thought to preserving them. If not in practice, definitely with photos and stories: our own recording of our history. These traditions are what make us unique, they are an essential part of that constant internal pull of the island: they draw us together as one. And that my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Ass kicking is what's called for"

I have never been one to jump into American political debate. I do watch what is going on down south but I refrain from commenting on American politics and popular debate because, well, I am not American. It is all too easy to point the finger from the outside; much more difficult to take an honest look inward. But there are occasions when issues arise and I find myself drawn in. The 911 conspiracy freaks have managed to get me going today because, and it pains me to say it, but there are actually some Newfoundlanders out there promoting a variety of conspiracy theories. And no, I am not linking to their blog.

While I am no fan of George Bush and his cronies, I do not believe that the attacks were a false flag operation carried out with the intention of winning the allegiance of the American people in order to facilitate military spending, the restriction of civil liberties, and a program of aggressive and profitable foreign policy. All this was simply a bonus for Bush Administration; it allowed them to take advantage of a tragic situation and use 9/11 to invade Iraq.

While "Intelligence" may have known something was in the works, I doubt they knew exactly what was going to happen and when. Nor does it make any sense to me that the planes which rammed into the Pentagon and Twin Towers were missiles, or were shot down (um, from where? Cleveland?), or that they were the results of "controlled demolition" (yes, because no one would have possibly noticed that in the works). I think the best theory is that Flight 93 never crashed, no, they swapped that plane! How exactly they manage that is never explained. All the while, these conspiracy freakshows manage to ignore the wreckage at the scenes and witness testimony. They also somehow miss published reports by the National Institute of Standards and Technology which do not support the controlled demolition hypothesis. And the hundreds of peer reviewed papers completed by civil engineers who prove that the impacts of jets at high speeds in combination with subsequent fires led to the collapse of the Twin Towers. And yet, this wacko collection of freaks, who seem to have nothing of importance to do with their time, still persist. Maybe it is time to move out of Mom's basement and get a job folks? Maybe get a girlfriend? A boyfriend? Whatever curdles your cream.

You might be wondering what got me going on this today- and it was this crazy exchange between 9/11 "Truthers" with Bill Maher on his show :"Real Time with Bill Maher":

My mind turned to all those families who lost people they loved because of 9/11 and the subsequent wars in the Middle East. What a slap in the face it must be for them to have these brainless worms go on and on with their inane conjecture, and to see Newfoundlanders join this lunatic fringe makes me even angrier. Come on people, we are smarter than this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

And now for something completely different.

It is a little known fact that I kick some serious ass when it comes to puzzles. We recently downloaded PuzzleQuest for the Xbox 360, and when we weren't cleaning, marking, or playing with the boy, my husband and I played game after game of it on the TV. I beat him bad. I made him cry. I did a victory dance on his inferior little manbrain.

Then, on Sunday night, I noticed a new link on my Newfoundland forum, it was Karen, the wonderfully talented photographer (she also happens to have a stunningly beautiful blog) who posted it. Karen knows of my weakness for riddles, puzzles and puns. I think she knew this site would plague me; would get under my skin like bed bugs at a whore house on a Saturday night.

It is a visual puzzle in the style of a medieval painting, and each section of the painting represents a horror flick. The movies represented span film history and because it is basically an ad for M&M Dark chocolates (Yuck, who eats the dark stuff??) all the films depicted are horror or thrillers. So, you have to be a bit of a film buff to get more than a dozen. My husband remembers EVERY FILM HE EVER WATCHES and I am a bit of a horror film hack, but there were two of those suckers we did not get at all.

And it is driving me batshit.

If anyone can get the one with the stairs, or the one with the two guys on the stairs please, for the love of mike and milk chocolate, please let me know.

Here it is: http://www.mms.com/us/dark/dark_game.jsp

And Karen, payback is a bitch..."I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too....."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I will be watching tonight

Two of my favourite shows have pulled out all the stops for their Fall premieres. This Hour Has 22 Minutes makes its season debut this evening ... and Danny Williams is on the menu. Oh I do hope they make a nice liver pate out of him. I may even open a bottle of wine. According to the CBC, Mark Critch will once again demonstrate an unmatched talent for his dead-ringer impression of Danny Williams. Have a listen to this my friends ...just enough to whet your appetite.

And if that wasn't enough, RMR is back! Wahooooooo! Disgraced media baron Conrad Black is scheduled to appear in a taped segment on the season premiere of The Rick Mercer Report tonight.

Ahhhh, ladies and gentlemen, I will break open a bottle this fine eve; any suggestions for a nice red, something that goes nicely with crow?