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“Leftovers” Opening Tonight at Shadbolt 

Posted by Stacey on March 25, 2015 in Theatre |

Leftovers opens tonight, March 25 to March 28th at Burnaby’s Shadbolt Centre and although opening night is already sold out, you can still get tickets to the shows for the nights of March 26, 27, and 28th. 

Marcus Youssef, directs Charlie Demers, the writer and star of Leftovers. Charlie Demers, who is perhaps best known for his comedy work with the CBC Radio show The Debaters or from the Just For Laughs comedy festival.

The following conversation was held with Marcus Youssef, the Director of Leftovers.

“Opening night. Always a big day. Did some real nice work yesterday talking about what it means if/when people don’t laugh at stuff that’s meant to be funny, and what that might mean for ‘Charlie’, and how he might handle that. 

Talked a lot about one line in the play, that was also 17-year-old Charlie’s grad yearbook quote, which is from Che Guevara (can you imagine quoting Guevera at 17? I think I quoted Duran Duran.)  

‘At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.’

That seems important for the show, and a good thing to remember when facing nerves of opening night. My guess, though, is people are going to laugh, a lot. Even after hearing the jokes 100 times, I still do!”  -Marcus 

Don’t miss your chance to see this brave new blend of stand up comedy and theatre. Get your tickets here…

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The Skeleton Twins; Real Family Comedy

Posted by Stacey on March 24, 2015 in Life Musings |

Here is our first movie review by our movie Dude, the Toth. Enjoy it –

“The dog dies at the end?!” Bill Hader responds in mock anger to Kristen Wiig’s accidental give away to the ending of the book Marley and Me. The two former Saturday Night Live alumni star in the new comedy/drama, The Skeleton Twins, about two siblings who are forced to re-examine their lives after they are thrown back together over the period of a few weeks.

The film is often dark and starts out with a suicide attempt that sets up the reunion between the siblings. Bill Hader plays Kristen Wiig’s gay brother Lance who seems to be having one emotional crisis after the other. It turns out Wiig’s character Maggie’s life isn’t that great either even though she is married to easy going Lance played by Luke Wilson.

The Skeleton Twins is a film that has some big laughs that are very well balanced with dramatic moments. It is about relationships and all the positive and negative consequences of being in any kind of relationship. The greatest accomplishment of the film is that both comedic and dramatic moments feel well earned and sincere.

The movie’s secret weapon is the chemistry between Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. These two worked for years together on an ensemble sketch show and were at the top of their game when they left the show.

They have been on the big screen before in 2009’s Adventureland starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. They played a married couple who run the Playland style amusement park Adventureland.

The chemistry in that film was great, but in this film it is flat out amazing. They really do feel like they could be brother and sister. The way that they can convey getting under each other’s skin is incredible to watch. It is also this great chemistry that makes one of the best scenes in the film work so well. I will not give it away but it does involve lip synching. A scene like this would not work unless the audience feels the connection between the two people in the scene. It works perfectly because of all the time that these two actor/comedians have spent together professionally.

Of course, I don’t want to sell the performances, writing, or direction short. This is a well made little film and the director’s choices are spot on, but I will again reiterate that casting the two leads as brother and sisters was a major coup.

I have liked Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in other roles before. Wiig was great in the movie Bridesmaids, and Hader had an amazingly funny cameo as Jason Segel’s married friend in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

However, in The Skeleton Twins they take their performances to the next level.  The movie was filmed over 22 days (which also means there was an amazing editor on board with this crew) and while there was a great script, improvisation was encouraged by the director.

I can easily imagine the two leads having a hell of a good time making this film and interacting with the rest of the great cast which also includes Ty Burrell from Modern Family in a surprisingly powerful performance.

Writer/director Craig Johnson, along with writing partner Mark Heyman deserve a lot of credit for the excellent script and great direction. By assembling a great cast and writing a great story, the team behind this movie has created one of the best surprises of 2014.

More people should check this movie out because it is a special film that will pleasantly surprise a lot of people. I would rate it 4.5/5 stars. Highly recommended! Available On Demand, download, and disc.

 

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A New Contributor to the Blog

Posted by Stacey on March 24, 2015 in Theatre |

Hello out there to all you movie fans in Coquitlam and the other burbs of the Lower Mainland, province, and the world.  It’s just about time for another person who feels they have something to say about films to post some stuff on the Internet.

I’m Victor Toth, and ever since I saw the 70’s version of King Kong, you know the one with Jeff Bridges as the hero and Jessica Lange as Fay Wray, I have been captivated by movies.

Shortly after that fateful viewing I was sleeping beside my parents bed, shaking with fear. I was only 4 and a half at the time of course. Then I saw a small indie film called Star Wars and it was all over. I was hooked for life.

I also developed the uncanny ability to re-watch films over and over again. Anyhow, I’m almost 40 now and have worked in a video store ala Quentin Tarantino and have worked in a movie theatre ala Salvatore Di Vita from the great film Cinema Paradiso. 

Now, I am a parent and husband who annoys my family with my love for movies and my opinions on which movies people should watch. At the same time, if someone loves a movie for any reason, who am I to say which is the best movie to watch? I’m just offering my opinion. As the Dude said in one of my all time favourite movies,The Big Lebowski, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like your opinion man.”

In that spirit I hope you enjoy my reviews, that I will post up here semi-regularly. Toth out!

Gustin Premium Menswear

Posted by Stacey on March 12, 2015 in Clothing with Comments closed |

In January I went online and purchased a pair of jeans from Gustin Premium Menswear. And just this week I received them.

You would be justified in thinking WTF –  you ordered them in January and receive them in March? Well that is because Gustin does a crowdsourcing form of retail.

What they do is they find a type of fabric, in this case a black on black 14 ounce selvedge denim, and then they design clothing for that particular form of cloth. In my case they designed a pair of dungarees, which they then share on their website and via their email list to people who have subscribed the piece of clothing, the type of fabric and any other interesting details about the article of clothing.

They set a number of items that they must sell, a date for when the article of clothing must be fully funded, and then, if the article of clothing meets the sales numbers by the set date, it is a go.

The number of orders that they get for that particular item of clothing dictates how much fabric they will buy, and how much or how many pairs of jeans, shirts, jackets or whatever they will make.

This form of merchandising, a form of crowdsourcing, makes it so that the retailer does not have a warehouse full of leftover clothing that has not sold.

Ideally they make the exact number of pairs of jeans or clothing that have been requested by their customers.

It can be frustrating for the type of person who likes the instant gratification of going to a store, picking up a pair jeans, trying them on and then heading home. However the Gustin model of crowdsourcing gives people like me an opportunity to buy very good quality clothing for a very reasonable price.

A concern that many people have about buying clothing online is the ability to try the item of clothing on. Even though I was not able to try on the Gustin jeans, I was fairly confident that they would fit me the way I wanted them to fit because on the Gustin website there is a “Fit Guide” page with a chart detailing exactly how their trousers will fit.

Gustin Fit Guide

Gustin Fit Guide

Rather than saying that it is size 32, 34, or 40, they use a system with a “tagged size” listing and then they list all the measurements: waist, front rise, thighs, knee, cuff opening and inseam.

 

To make sure you get an excellent fit, they recommend you take your favorite pair of jeans, a pair that fits you the way you want, and then you measure them across the waist using their method. Using their system gives you a very good chance of getting jeans that will fit that you.

Gustin How to Measure

Gustin How to Measure

Overall I am extremely pleased with the quality of these new dungarees that I purchased from Gustin Premium Menswear. These are essentially top-quality custom made jeans in a 14 ounce denim. Another feature of their brand is that all their clothing is made in the USA with expert craftsmen.

The best part? Top quality jeans in a premium denim and they only cost me $99 US.

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Cinderella 2015 the Disney Edition

Posted by Stacey on February 27, 2015 in Theatre |

I received an invite to an advance screening of Cinderella 2015, the new Disney version of the classic movie for yesterday evening.

Cinderella 2015

Cinderella 2015

Of course my invite included a “plus one”. So I figured this was a good time to have a father-daughter bonding evening. Add to the fun of father-daughter bonding time, it was fun to think this was my daughter’s first visit to a real movie theatre. I thought it was a kind of a neat opportunity.

Before I go any further I have to say that before being allowed in the theatre I had to agree to not do a “full review” of the movie itself. So this will not be an actual review of the movie and just my observations of the event. (I think that covers my legal bits).

Another interesting bit about attending the advance screening was that everyone who wanted to go into the theatre had to hand over their mobile device which was then placed in a paper bag and stapled shut. Apparently they wanted to be sure that nobody was taking pictures or recording the movie. Once you handed over your device another person went over your body with one of those airport wands to see if you were still “packing”.

About the movie, the fact is, this is the story of Cinderella. I don’t see how this can be a spoiler because well, the story of Cinderella 2015 hasn’t really changed since Cinderella was first written (as far as I know).

One kind of cool thing about this latest Disney version of Cinderella was that I was expecting it to be animated when in fact it was done with real actors. That was kind of cool.

Although I took my daughter who was totally accepting of the fact that fuzzy little rabbits sometimes get turned into food, I did have it in the front of my mind that she is a sensitive sort of person and the story may be somewhat upsetting so I made sure that we were sitting relatively close to an aisle.

Again I need to preface this with the fact that we basically NEVER read classic stories to our kids. Take the example of Hansel and Gretel – right…a wicked woman who convinces their father to take his two children into the forest and leave them there. Good times.

Think about any of the classic stories we read as kids; they make the Wile E Coyote and Road Runner story look like a love story.

For the first 45 minutes of the movie my daughter had tears streaming down her face. I did keep asking if she wanted to leave but she insisted on staying (I was wondering if I should exercise my parental veto and force her to leave, but I didn’t).

First the Ella’s mother collapses – “Papa why did she fall down?”

And then she is bedridden until she dies. “Papa why isn’t she getting out of bed?”

Then the very loving father remarries and ends up with a hideous woman with two miserable daughters – “Papa why are those girls so mean?”

UGH!!!!!!

And then the father goes away on business and dies while he is away!! A neighbour comes to tell Ella that her father will never be returning – “Papa, where is her father and why doesn’t he go home?”

UGH!!!!!!!

But then there is redemption when Cinderella dances with the Prince and is the belle of the ball – then my daughter was smiling.

The weird thing is that there were many very young children in the theatre last night. In hindsight, I am not sure that Cinderella is a movie that any kid should see. It certainly made for an evening of difficult questions for me to answer.

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The Foreigner – A Top Secret Farce

Posted by Stacey on February 23, 2015 in Theatre with Comments closed |

I am very much looking forward to seeing John Voth in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s performance of their “top secret farce” The Foreigner at the Evergreen Cultural Centre next week!

The preview for the play says;

All Charlie wanted was a little peace and quiet. So when he arrives at a fishing lodge in Georgia, it seems harmless enough to masquerade as a foreigner who can’t speak English.

He soon realizes that people will say the most extraordinary things when they think no one can understand them!

The Foreigner has a limited run of performances at the Evergreen Cultural Centre – March 3-7th with all shows starting at 8pm (except the Saturday matinee that begins at 4pm).

If you want to join me at the Evergreen Cultural Centre you can buy tickets online or at the Evergreen box office.

 

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Kid’s Swap Meet

Posted by Stacey on February 16, 2015 in Community Events with Comments closed |

I’m not sure how the retailers who sell new baby/toddler clothes and toys and stuff actually stay in business with the growth of Craigslist, thrift stores, and swap meets dedicated to kid related stuff. Having a kid (or two or three) is expensive and you are wise to find ways to economize and help recycle baby/kid stuff. So go to a swap meet!

If you live in or nearby Coquitlam, this coming weekend (February 22nd, 2015) there is a kid’s swap meet scheduled to be held at the Poirier Community Centre. The kid swapping runs from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The meet is a great place to buy gently used kids’ clothes, books, toys and more. Admission to the event is free and you can drop by anytime between 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. to stock up on affordable kids’ items for the spring.

It is important to note that actually swapping kids with other parents is frowned upon and even strictly not allowed in some cases.

For more information about the event, please visit www.coquitlam.ca/poirier. Poirier Community Centre is located at 630 Poirier Street, Coquitlam.

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Animals and Meat

Posted by Stacey on February 14, 2015 in Life Musings |

At bedtime we are reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder type books about life on the prairies. Except it appears that life took a turn for the worse on the prairie and now Rose and her Ma and Pa have left to go live in Missouri.

Anyway it doesn’t matter where they are living, this evening in the story, Rose, the little girl in the story is jumping up and down on a pile of branches and she scares a rabbit out of the brush pile.

She chases the rabbit around the field, going up-and-down and back-and-forth and eventually the rabbit goes into a hollow log. She then plugs each end of the hollow log thus trapping the rabbit inside of that log.

Fast forward in the story and Rose and her mother and father are sitting down to a dinner of rabbit stew.

As I was reading my one daughter looked at me and asked me “where did the rabbit they are eating come from.” Her eyes were open as wide as I had ever seen. She looked quite horrified. She was more than a little shocked that they had killed and made food out of the little rabbit. She says that rabbits are incredibly soft and very nice and it’s not very nice that they were going to eat this rabbit.

Her sister said to her in the most matter of fact way that, “well you like chicken. Where do you think chicken comes from?”

She answered that she likes chicken meat but she doesn’t like chickens. And the fact was brought up again that rabbits are so soft and cuddly.

It was very interesting to see them make the connection between eating meat and killing animals. Especially animals that are cute and cuddly and would make a nice little pet.

This evenings story time reminds me of the time when I was in the leather shop a couple of years ago. I had my daughters with me and we were looking at rabbit skins, cowhides, deer hides, and calf hides. One of my daughters asked how they get the skin off the animals without hurting them. At the time I didn’t have the guts to tell her the reality of it. So I just told her they do it very carefully.

Just an interesting observation. That’s it.

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Why I Detest Valentines Day

Posted by Stacey on February 13, 2015 in Life Musings with Comments closed |

After extensive research and consultation, I have come to the conclusion that Valentines Day is the worst quasi-holiday of all the Hallmark style holidays that there are.

Valentines Day Flowers

Valentines Day Flowers

Honestly, there is no win for Valentines Day. No matter what you do, it is likely that you’ve done it wrong.

Say for example you go out and pay the ransom that the overworked and under appreciated florists want for a dozen roses. What a complete waste of money. The receiver of your generosity (stupidity) will likely tell you that directly to your face – you are a fool for having paid that much for roses! The week after Valentines Day the roses will be reduced again to less than twenty bucks a dozen. However if you go out and buy 10 dozen roses for your sweetheart a week after Valentines Day you will forever be seen as a cheapskate and a loser to that woman.

Say you want to try a different approach and get chocolate? Good luck. The line-ups are out of sight and it is all overpriced and crappy chocolate. Unless you actually get the good stuff. Clothing as a gift? The stuff you want (you dirty bird!) will never get worn. I wish you well.

And then once you are a father it’s even worse. Your kid or kids have to make Valentines Day cards or gifts for every other individual in their class if not their entire school. You wouldn’t want to exclude any of the little twerps.

Some whack job parents even have their kids give chocolates to the other kids in their class. I can imagine those parents are at home laughing quite hysterically about the mayhem that is going on in the homes of the recipients of all those the chocolates and red-dye filled candies. Good luck being the parent who says “no, you can’t eat the little gift your best-friend for the day gave you.”

The only thing that has spared us any mercy in our battle with the Valentines Day style massacre of our wallets and self esteem is the growth of the dollar store.

The dollar store is the great big fat fuck you to the Hallmark Empire and their attempt to turn every point of life into a card giving opportunity. I kid you not, I saw a card with a happy circumcision message – “Here’s a card to say we’re happy the ritual of cutting the end of your kid’s dick went well!

Before the dollar store phenomenon swept across our nation you could expect to pay $4 or $5 or even $10 for a stupid Valentines Day card that will, without a doubt be thrown away the very next day. Now instead of blowing $5 or $10 on a card you can pop into any dollar store and get any card you want for one dollar. Of course before the Valentines Day card get thrown away you will probably be ridiculed for picking the wrong card. Fact is there is no right card.

The only good thing about Valentines Day is that the next Hallmark Day that follows is St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is all about wearing stupid hats, green clothing and drinking green beer. At least you’re drinking beer and there’s no expectations of romance, flowers, cards or chocolate.

Yes, give me St. Patrick’s Day any day and keep your stinking Valentines Day for yourself.

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My First Play Date

Posted by Stacey on February 11, 2015 in Life Musings with Comments closed |

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but for the first time ever, I was the supervising adult at an event for my kids – a play date.

This is a surprise because my kids are nearly 6 years old and I have avoided this situation until now. I have essentially lived in fear that at some point I was going to be the supervising adult at a play date with my kids and someone else’s progeny.

Well I can assure you that I faced my fear and I survived. Perhaps even more importantly, all of the children who were on the play date also survived.

It is ironic that the idea of a play date strikes such fear into my heart. As some of you may know, my day job is essentially supervising large, out of control play dates. Others call it being a secondary school teacher but really, school is just a glorified play date with some educational stuff thrown in to fill the quiet moments when the teenagers aren’t outside smoking or socializing with the other kids on the play date.

Anyway, being the supervising adult for my own kids and their friend on a play date was actually easier than I ever imagined it would be.

Although it ended up being easy, it did not start out that way. As soon as the visiting child arrived she proudly informed me that she was allergic to dogs, cats, peanuts, and anything that has come into contact with peanuts, sesame seeds and that she didn’t like cheese or yogurt.

Hmmmm. Thankfully we only have one dog and two cats. And the staple food item that my children live off are peanut butter and cheese sandwiches. Peanut butter and cheese actually taste pretty good. I know this because my kids typically eat one quarter of the sandwich and I then eat the other three quarters. The other thing my kids eat are those cheese string things or little containers of yogurt.

The kid asked me what we had to eat. I told her she could eat whatever she had in her little backpack. I was not going to take any chances with anything from our house going into her digestive system. So she pulled out a little Rubbermaid container with five crackers in it and an EpiPen.

I immediately had visions of the scene from Pulp Fiction where John Travolta is crouching over Uma Thurmann about to give her a massive injection to the chest to bring her back to life.

Thankfully after a couple hours the little girl’s mother showed up. Her child was still alive and walking and had no evidence of dog or cat related rashes. I have to add that she was probably pretty hungry after having eaten her five magical crackers basically as soon as she got in the door.

I’m not really sure I would want to host a play date again. The stress was almost too much.

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