Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Billy Bob and My Devotion Hit Rock Bottom

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

…momentarily at least. I can’t make promises in matters of the heart.

I’m tempted to put this in the “Horror” category. It is a sign of true friendship when your friends call to report the love of your life has crossed a line. I have very good friends, but some things I’d rather not know.

jillian mcdonald

I was alerted today not only by CBC Radios’ Q Facebook group but by myriad friends in Canada, the UK, and the US that my special someone starred in a new bad boy role today, and not in a good way. Bad boy is one thing – grumpy is another.

With heavy heart I report Billy Bob Thornton, interviewed on CBC’s Q today, has slightly fallen from my favour. I guess it was only a matter of time – 2009 marks seven years after Mr Thornton first set my heart aflutter.

The interview is here if you care to watch. I can’t bear it myself so I won’t embed the video. Note Mr Thornton “lumps” Canadian audiences into the descriptor “mashed potatos without gravy”, and then walks out on his own performance sans southern charm and with his fellow band members left to fill in the blanks, themselves as lively as zombies – the slow kind. Jian Ghomeshi, our host, doesn’t know what to make of the crew’s uber-melancholia.

The thousands of comments floating around on Facebook, Q’s blog, and Youtube, to name a few, grasp for explanations: drugs, depression, Hollywood arrogance, doomed acting career, “band as celebrity vanity project”, rudeness, etc.

For my part, I believe if BB had called me all those years ago, he might be a happier man today. Just sayin’…

Haunted in Connecticut by way of Winnipeg

Friday, March 27th, 2009


Another movie review (sight unseen):
If you’re wondering what on earth is coming out of that boy’s mouth in the poster for The Haunting in Connecticut, don’t worry, it’s probably chiffon. The film opened tonight and I skipped it, I don’t really like chiffon. Haunting in Connecticut is a true story, like many horror films including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Wolf Creek, The Blair Witch Project, and Amityville Horror.

I’ve never seen a ghost, not even at The Headlands in Northern California – a place rife with ghost stories. But I have occasional dreams where someone is standing at the foot of my bed, I always wake up immediately during these dreams, which is haunting. If these ghosts watch me sleep, their motive is a mystery. Talking, laughing, stealing covers, arguing, and kicking are not outside the purview of my nocturnal activities, so maybe the ghosts study my sleep patterns or find me entertaining. Or maybe they followed me from Winnipeg.

Winnipeg physician T.G. Hamilton began conducting séances in his home and recording paranormal sights after the death of his young son in 1918. The University of Manitoba published this video on Youtube, which features the photos. As you can see, the photos are unbelievable. Literally.

That whispery substance emitting from the subjects’ mouths and other orifices is, if not chiffon or muslin, paranormal ectoplasm, secreted by mediums when in a trance state. According to, ectoplasm “appears to be milky white in color and smells like ozone.” “Medium Eva C. supposedly produced an ectoplasmic face from her ear during a séance. Many of her “faces” were later revealed to have been cut from a Paris newspaper.”

The Haunting in Connecticut website provides many resources, including Sample Questions for the Dead, should you wish to conduct your own séance. According to their blog, “thoughts may come into your head that seem strange; embarrassing, or uncomfortable. Do not fight them. These are the thoughts of the dead.” I plan to use that excuse regularly.

The strangest fact I learned on the website’s paranormal proximity assistant is that all the world’s haunted houses are in the USA. What about T.G. Hamilton?

Okay I forgot to review the film: it’s late and I digress.

haunted near you

SCREAM in Saskatoon

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

scream billboard

In Saskatoon at the moment it is minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius, a temperature that deserves more than a tiny number in order that you can savour it, contemplate it, or at least try to fathom it. Luckily we humans have very little capacity for recalling pain which is why, in the words of my undergraduate art school professor Sharon Alward, people can live in extremely cold places like Winnipeg or Saskatoon year after year without going insane*. While minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius is reason enough to evoke screams in many people, it scares neither me nor Jo-Anne Balcaen – my billboard project collaborator and friend from Montréal. Jo-Anne and I were actually born within hours of one another and grew up separately in Winnipeg**, but that aside is another story of which I will spare you the details. The daunting temperature also doesn’t scare David LaRiviere, director of Paved Arts who facilitated and helped tremendously to oversee our two-person show.

Scream opens January 16th – come see it if you dare. There will be screaming. You have been warned. The billboard is silent but it requires 3-D glasses – available at the gallery.

scream billboard

From the press release, “Scream is a two-person video installation and collaborative billboard presentation. While Jo-Anne Balcaen studies the scream from the perspective of ecstasy, Jillian Mcdonald approaches the same subject as a device in horror films. The exhibition project arises from the affinity that the artists recognize in each other’s work, and is thus culminated from an ongoing, long-distance creative dialog.

Jillian Mcdonald’s video work entitled The Screaming challenges the horror movie genre’s damsel in distress by inverting the power dynamics and charging the scream with a potency that overcomes any would-be menace…. Jo-Anne Balcaen’s Screaming Girls appropriates famous film images of teen-aged girls enraptured by rock ‘n’ roll performance. Stripped of sound, Balcaen’s subtle manipulation of this familiar pop adulation becomes a study of mass hysteria, oddly foreign to any kind of rationale that Beatlemania may have once produced.”

*Keep in mind these are select few people, you may not want to attempt this yourself.

**According to Wikipedia, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was −47.8 °C (−54.0 °F), on December 24, 1879. The coldest wind chill reading ever recorded was −57.1 °C (−70.8 °F), on February 1, 1996. I was not alive in 1879, but I’ll point out that the last winter I lived in Winnipeg was 1996.


Friday, August 29th, 2008


Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland

Nature Overload

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Newfoundland is stunning: sheep lined up on the narrowest footpath with a view of the ocean and co-mingling with the seagulls; urchins wiggling their green spines and baring their teeth; minke whales diving in schools of black caplin; imported moose like brown tankers waiting at the sides of roads; bald eagles overhead, puffins too fat to fly; mussels and micro-starfish as tiny as my baby finger nail – all within walking distance of our home base. Kayaking and hiking along the frigid Atlantic were highlights for these Brooklynites.





Newfoundlanders refer both affectionately and disparagingly to their island as “The Rock”. A tremendous force carved these rocks, jutting from the bay:


Haunted Maritimes

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Beckley and I just returned from visiting my family on the East Coast of Newfoundland. We had a restful and fun vacation, but the landscapes are stark, harsh, and magical. Horror-film worthy to say the least.

Don’t go in the Water!

The Howling

The Mist

The House that Sank into the Hill

Careful where you swim, my sweet

The House of Horrors

House on the Hill

The Fog

The Danger

I Know What You Did Last Summer

The Cellar

The Rocks

Incident at the Old Pig Farm *

*Special Thanks to Cara Kansala and Pam Dorey of Cara’s Joy who happily told me about the abandoned Pig Farm and showed me their zombie cats paintings.

I’m already half-planning the next trip: the icebergs and grey skies of Winter may be muses calling my name.

Zombies in Condoland in the news!

Friday, July 11th, 2008

zombies in condoland

Zombies in Condoland is mentioned in The Globe and Mail, as a highlight of the upcoming Nuit Blanche Toronto! How’s that for pressure?

More press in The National Post.

And CBC.

American Hardcore’s Cameo Appearance

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

american hardcore

A few nights ago I watched American Hardcore, a documentary film about the hardcore scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I didn’t ever consider myself a hardcore fan but did listen to the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and especially Bad Brains. I just didn’t know they were a scene, or what it was about – I listened to it after it was over. The film is good, and gives a nationwide perspective on the nuanced scene – from San Diego to New York and Boston to Washington. It even credits Vancouverites for coining the term “Hardcore” – go Canada!

Somewhere along the line was a 6-second or less spot featuring artist Matthew Barney as himself, who as far as I can tell was not in the hardcore scene (he was 16 when it pretty much fizzled out in 1983). He is given billing as one of the film’s stars, and his reason for being in the film is strangely not explained via Lower Thirds. Band members, their friends, promoters, journalists, and a photographer who documented the scene all figure prominently. Barney seems plopped in without any context. He grew up in Idaho, a state which didn’t figure prominently in Hardcore, and the scene’s violence and angst seem at odds with Barney’s public profile of football player – turned J. Crew model – turned sculptor. As far as I can tell, his only relationshp with it is from Cremaster 3‘s scene in which 2 hardcore bands battle while Barney climbs through the Guggenheim. Frankly his entrance into the film was so distracting that I didn’t pay attention to the next few minutes while I waited to comprehend what had just happened. Once a star, always a star.

Speaking of Matthew Barney, New York artist Eric Doeringer has a funny mock fan site called Cremaster Fanatic which I always secretly want to call “Cremaster Fantastic”.

The Tune of Hockey Night in Canada

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

hockey night in canada

CBC is offering a prize to the tune of $100,000 for the winning song in an upcoming battle for the new Hockey Night in Canada theme. I’ve read a lot of blog posting about spec work lately. Working on spec, in the design field, means doing the work without being paid, in the hopes of getting business in the future. Except for the winner in such a contest, no one gets paid a cent for their efforts. Creative people are already underpaid and undervalued for their work. Contests like this are one of the worst offenders, adding insult to injury.

Fog Lust

Thursday, June 12th, 2008


Fog, mist, and haze, oh my!

It’s either my double Newfie ancestry or my fascination with horror plots – but I think I’m in love, or lust. Who needs an iPhone when you have a Falcon Fog machine??