Beer League Hockey and Terrorism

I’m stopped at a red light. I look over and the girl driving the car next to me is grooving to her music. I mean really going for it – singing, head bopping, the whole thing.

She opens her eyes, notices me looking and immediately stops. I don’t want her fun to be ruined, so I quickly smile and improvise a series of gestures to her – The “No No It’s Cool” head shake, the vigorous two thumbs up, capped off by my supportive “Raise the Roof / White Man Dance”.

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Her face is frozen in a look of horror, disgust and disapproval. The light turns green and she quickly drives off.

The awkwardness isn’t done. She’s driving the speed limit in the left lane and I’m late for my hockey game. But I’m hesitant to drive past her on the right, like the feeling of cutting somebody off and having to face them. So I’m doing the driving equivalent of the creepy guy in the bar, not approaching, not passing, just lurking over her shoulder in the right lane.

In my head, I’m laughing at being pegged as a weirdo while comments from the #YesAllWomen campaign scroll in my head like the end credits of a movie.

Not knowing how to segue out comfortably for both parties, I end the scenario by gunning it past her with no acknowledgement at all. Because nothing brings closure like an abrupt departure.

retrieverI laughed about it for the rest of the drive while also having a bit of sadness for a bygone time that maybe only exists in my imagination, but when moments like these might have been taken as charmingly graceless rather than a cause for fight-or-flight syndrome. These modern brushes with strangers are easier if you’re accompanied by a child, woman or golden retriever.

Perhaps in modernity we must be ever wary of threat, of the sex offender or pedophile among us. Maybe it was naive of our parents to let us walk to school rather than protect us from predators by scooping us up in a minivan every day?

I don’t know, isn’t this wariness another form of “letting the terrorists win?” The western liberal world seems so committed to protecting our rights and freedoms, we howl at government or the media for manipulating us, but don’t rights and freedoms include the micro level moments like the girl in the car? Unless I truly project an aura of malevolence (quite possible), or I misread it and she was simply embarrassed, I felt saddened for her knee jerk reaction.  This wasn’t a dark street or a nightclub, where guardedness is needed.  Does the reality of threat deserve to follow us into our every waking moment? Was it always this tense out there?

Maybe I’m just a privileged straight white male whose vision and hearing is distorted, but those Charlie Brown kids were onto something when they listened to the adults ( that droning sound is the most brilliant voice over in the history of animation). The cries from the liberal left in the media and on social media sound an awful lot like the traditional plea from the conservative right: “What about the WOMEN and CHILDREN?”  Whether it comes from a yoga mom or a redneck, the tenor of it always sounds the same to me – fearful as hell and encouraging me to be outraged.  Facebook is hilarious, it sounds like a small town who’s lost its mind and everyone is rioting.  You know those pseudo prayers you see people vainly throwing out on their Facebook wall? “We need to calm down, please, there’s too much anger in the world!” ( Followed by 7 likes and 1 comment disagreeing and restarting another argument.)

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Maybe I’m a moron.  I did spend most of college drunk. And maybe the rabbit hole of my brain needs some repair. But as I drove to the rink that night, I mulled the parallels between white, male beer league hockey players and Muslims on airplanes. I guess in my heart of hearts, if I had been dancing to Beyonce while sitting in 12C and a brown guy with a beard was looking at me, I might have been frightened for a moment.

But I hope I would think “Don’t let the terrorists win!”, smile at the gentleman, and go back to dancing to ‘All the Single Ladies’.

A guy can dream, right?

White Shark!

I went diving at Guadalupe with great white sharks a few years ago.  A shark body checked our cage at one point, which gave us a good jolt of adrenaline.  This video, though, takes the cake of any I’ve seen.

If you’re not a diving nerd, go to 1:25 and brace yourself.  Wow.

 

Revenge of the Nerds – SPAM KILLERS.

 

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When I was a kid, the most miserable hermitic weirdos in the whole neighbourhood were the people who put signs up on their property warning solicitors to stay away. (“Warning, dangerous dog on premises!” “ABSOLUTELY NO JUNK MAIL OR SOLICITATION!”, etc).

When I used to collect monthly payments for my paper route, these people were invariably creepy and lucid, with houses full of similarly depressed looking pets and the smell of an old bookstore in the air.

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Cut to 2014 – I’m going out on a limb and assuming this new generation of frowning, sexless, ex-student council vice presidents have pushed forth the Canadian Anti-Spam legislation. Canada really could use more legislation, as we don’t have nearly enough, and pages of fine print really do help solve grey area issues and spur the growth of small businesses immensely. The Anti-Spam act outlines potential fines of up to ten million dollars for emails, social media messages, etc which are sent “commercially” and don’t follow strict guidelines of verbal or oral consent.  Can’t imagine how many laws prostitutes will be breaking now.

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Well done, spam killers.  Your parents kept strangers off the driveway and you, the new generation of online gatekeepers have now successfully protected your email inbox and contributed millions of dollars to lawyers, while keeping away those pesky small businesses, arts groups, and kids selling chocolates without a registered charity number.  All because you got fed up of being painfully reminded of your need for Viagra.

Glad you saved yourself 2 minutes a day on your delete button, your fingers need the strength to wag disapprovingly at the next issue on your list.

THE ACTING TEACHER – A Short Film / Mockumentary

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After years of bruising my jaw on the floor watching acting coach “guru” types hold sway over impressionable young actors, I wrote and directed this satire. It’s all in good fun, with maybe a bit of edge…

Enjoy,
Aaron

It’s Not Working Out But Let’s Still be Facebook Friends.

No-FB-011Every year I do a different type of Spring Cleaning.  Instead of breaking out the Pledge and throwing out old phone chargers,  I open the windows, breathe in the cherry blossoms and do a Facebook purge.  It beats the hell out of wiping down flat surfaces.

I’ve got a simple list of criteria for unfollowing people’s posts.  (Side note – huge props to Mark Zuckerberg for that unfollow function that allows us to shut somebody’s online pie hole while avoiding “De-friending” tension at the next Christmas party.  Well played).

If you like to post the following, sorry, but it just didn’t work out between us.  At least we can still be friends.

pancakes1. INSTAGRAMS OF YOUR PANCAKES.

If you labelled them all “Gluten Free!”,  I may have de-friended you.

2. SWEARING.

I’m trying to clean up my sailor mouth and your F bombs weren’t helping.

3. “WELL, THAT WAS STRANGE…??”

I’m sorry you were the first born who didn’t get enough attention at home, but passive aggressive pleas for attention creep me out.

4. “I BOOKED IT!!!”.

This one’s just for the actors.  Spill the beans about your gig, post your selfie from set if you must, but don’t keep unemployed actors guessing about your success.

5. “SO SICK.  CAN’T SLEEP”.

If you’re over the age of 15, nobody cares.  They’re too busy posting dozens of pictures of their kids.

6. POSTING DOZENS OF PICTURES OF YOUR KIDS.

7. DAILY QUOTES FROM YOUR 3 YEAR OLD.

Don’t take offense, this one’s actually on me.  I just tend to get emotional thinking of that little miracle and the miracle of the 361,000 other little miracles being born every day.  And I just lose it.  Can’t be doing that to me all the time.

8. MORAL OUTRAGE.

* Unless it’s about racism or hockey officiating.

8(a).  MORAL OUTRAGE WITH GRAMMATICAL ERRORS.

9. SELF HELP.

I know that my celestial spirit child is my true inner voice and that if I just allow it to breathe my spiritual circle of life will be complete.  Thanks.  No, I don’t need to do the weekend retreat/seminar.  No, I will not tell 3 friends!

10. SELFIES.

OMG, Just TALK to that nice person beside you and ask them to take the picture of you and your “bestie”, so that everybody can comment “hottie!”.  You can then, like, check for those comments through, like, literally the entire concert.  K?  Purr-fect.

If you’ve unfollowed or de-friended me upon reading this, I totally understand.  Just please say hello at the Christmas party.  Gotta keep up appearances, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ugly Canadian

They say Canadians make great comedians, as we have a keen sense of irony.  They also say that we are unfailingly polite.  Last night, I saw irony and politeness meet in absurdly Canadian fashion.

rsz_proud_image-website1I’m sitting third row centre, watching some colleagues in a great production of Michael Healey’s play “Proud” at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver.  The play is a clever satire on our current PM Stephen Harper and a meditation on our national identity as a whole.  Check this piece out if you’re in the city, it’s fantastic.

It’s about halfway in when I notice an older woman’s head in the front row starting to slowly timber to one side.  It’s commonplace in theatre for seniors to nod off or to ask their companion in full voice, “WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?”.  This demographic represents the majority of some companies’ subscription bases.

But no big deal, other than the actors having a slumped over patron in their eye line.

Cue the snoring.  The kind that leaves spouses sleeping on the couch.  The vibrations bouncing off the walls of the theatre and filling every pause in the dialogue.  Front.  Row. Centre.

Heads turning.  Gasps of frustration.  Heated whispers. By now the audience is a bunch of French mimes, gesturing, grimacing and strangling on their indignation but paralyzed by indecision.

FIFTEEN MINUTES.

My girlfriend and I are feeling our jaws drop slowly to the floor in amazement that nobody, including her seatmates, is tapping her!  The whole time I’m searching my pockets for objects heavy enough to reach the lady’s head but light enough to do no harm.  I’m calculating how big a disturbance I’ll make by stumbling through my row, down the stairs and across the front of the stage to alert this woman that she’s unwittingly producing a piece of Canadian performance art behind her.  Somebody should have filmed it as a documentary for the national archives: “The Canadian Identity: A History of Silent Frustration.”

Finally, the penny drops and the man sitting directly behind her was encouraged/ordered by his wife to lean forward and commit the unthinkably cruel and invasive act of tapping the woman’s shoulder.  Her head popped up, she rubbed her eyes and sat up with the renewed energy that only a power nap can bring.  Shoulders and anuses relaxed in a collective moment of Canuck catharsis.

We’re watching a play satirizing Canada while we the Canadians watching act out a farce of our own.  Does irony get any stronger?

rsz_angry_old_ladyI live and work in both the USA and Canada.  Say what you will about Americans being abrasive, but for the love of a healthy heart, at least they are unafraid to take action.  Canadians, and Vancouverites more specifically, are so notoriously petrified of rocking the proverbial boat that we’d rather have the experience of the collective ruined than create a moment of discomfort for the individual. What did those people within reaching distance of the lady think was going to happen if they “politely” tapped her?  She’d awake and scream out with nightmares of childhood?  Launch a sexual harassment lawsuit?

 

 

The tyranny of this fear, this terror at offending makes us unreadable and disconnected from our ability to balance reason and instinct in the moment.  We’re much more comfortable expressing our discontent on a Facebook thread than we are about letting ourselves be known in the flesh.

 

 

rsz_children-of-the-cornThis dichotomy of placid exterior and boiling interior makes us polite, trigger happy with apology and yet creepy as those kids in the “Children of the Corn” movies.

I couldn’t count the number of times that newbies to the city comment on this and this awkward local vibe has become a running cliche in the Vancouver dating scene, hasn’t it?  For a city that craves authenticity via yoga and connection with the earth, we sure seem to be hiding ourselves in strange ways.

I’m a born and raised Vancouverite, a flag waving Canadian and a bleeding heart liberal.

But sometimes I just want to scream out against the sea of complacency.

I guess that’s what hockey riots are for.

 

 

HELP US PACK THE HOUSE!

“I’m going downtown to Mitch and Murray!”  We need to make that more than a great line from Alec Baldwin.

indexMitch and Murray Productions has had a great response to our two plays this year.  Unbelievable reviews for “BECKY SHAW”, which closed last weekend, and equally stellar response so far for “LUNGS”, which closes this Saturday December 14th.

Despite this great run, we’re still shy of reaching our budget for this year’s festival.  We need a boost in attendance in our final week and we call on you, our friends and supporters to help us finish up strong!  Five more performances of “Lungs” this week at the Havana – HELP US PACK THE HOUSE!

LUNGS plays Tuesday Dec 10th – Saturday Dec 14th, 8pm at Havana, 1212 Commercial Drive in Vancouver.  2 for 1 Tuesday Dec 10th – 2 tix for just $20!  BUY TICKETS HERE!

Stephanie Izsak and Kayvon Kelly in Lungs

Stephanie Izsak and Kayvon Kelly in Lungs

“LUNGS” is a great play about Gen Y’s struggling with financial and social modernity while deciding to have a child.  It is modern, fresh, funny and heartbreaking and anyone under 40 will completely relate.  Check the reviews and bring some friends out to the show!  Tix at mitchandmurrayproductions.com

“Gen Y’s stumbling towards adulthood…Lungs is smart and often very funny.  Both actors are relentlessly, fearlessly present.” (The Georgia Straight) READ MORE REVIEWS

 

You can find us on Facebook and Twitter – please help us spread the word about our final week #Lungs @mitchplusmurray
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Meghan Gardiner and Aaron Craven in Becky Shaw

 

We just wrapped up the first show of the festival, “BECKY SHAW”. Audience members consistently remarked that we are “building something great here” – a core of Vancouver-based artists producing modern, funny, provocative and cutting edge stories to an audience base thirsty for that type of entertainment.  Remember our productions of “Fat Pig”, “Fifty Words” and “Race”?Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 3.17.51 PM

We’re also doing an early bird ticket drive for next year’s show, which is TBA next fall.  Your early support helps us meet our budget for this year and allows us to secure venues and plays for 2014.   We’re doing a one week sale on early bird subscriptions ending December 17th – what a great Xmas gift!   All early bird purchasers will be entered to win $75 of Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Blanc wine from our sponsors.  GET YOUR EARLY BIRD TICKETS HERE!

 

Thank you for your support, we couldn’t do it without you!

 

Best,
Aaron Craven – Artistic Director, Mitch and Murray Productions