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Comedy Rumspringa

February 15, 2016
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Here it goes.

I’ve decided to take some time away from stand-up.

When I first tried stand-up, I had no intention on pursuing it as a career. But I had some rapid success early on and I got hooked.

Since that first set, I haven’t taken much more than a week off. I haven’t stopped and asked if this is what I really want to do.

Right now, I’m not sure that it is. I’m not certain it isn’t, but I need to figure that out.

Thank you, everyone, for all the support you’ve given me.

That’s been my time.

Good night.

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Tothpicks – 2nd Annual Best Films of “the Year”

January 4, 2016

It’s that time again—Best of the Year season. Continuing a tradition I started last year, I won’t be planting my flag on any films from 2015. I’ll be picking up after my previous list and leaving bad, hasty evaluations to The Academy. Proving that point, the very year I’ll be discussing, the award for Best Picture went to Crash.

Also, for this year’s list I chose 11 films, because… why not? Makes just as much sense as 10.

So here they are. My picks for the Best Films of the Year: 2005 Edition.

11 | A History of Violence

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In 2005, there were a lot of films that examined the nature of violence and revenge, and A History of Violence did so very explicitly. I rewatched it in anticipation of writing this list and would’ve placed it higher if not for some truly awful dialogue. The bursts of violence will drown out your memory of some of the clunky lines, but you’ll probably feel conflicted about that.

10 | The Constant Gardener

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There were a few really solid political thrillers in 2005. Munich and Syriana got all the attention, but The Constant Gardener was mostly overlooked. It was refreshing to see a political thriller post-9/11 commenting on something other than Middle East. It also helps that it seems more interested in being thrilling than being political.

9 | Batman Begins

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The first good Batman movie. You could fault Christopher Nolan for kicking off the trend of dark, over-serious superhero films, but I would argue that the Dark Knight Trilogy was the worth it. Batman Begins gets overshadowed by its more ambitious sequels, but it’s one of the few superhero origin stories that actually justifies its existence. And now they never have to do another one. (Please?)

8 | The Proposition

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A gruesome Aussie Western with a literary flourish. Director John Hillcoat has said that Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian was the main influence for the film and, fittingly, the next film he made was the bleak adaptation of McCarthy’s best-seller, The Road. And even though The Road features full-on cannibalism, it’s only an appetizer for the The Proposition‘s brutality.

7 | Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

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The Enron scandal has since been eclipsed by the housing crisis, but at least the Enron execs responsible were held to account. Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room tracks the rise and fall of one the biggest companies in America by profiling the architects of the tragedy. It’s a slick package with a dash of humour, even if it’s just bewilderment at the audacity of the culprits.

6 | Serenity

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Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005, but that year the best Star Wars-inspired film was Serenity. The big screen conclusion to Joss Whedon’s cult TV series, Firefly, was more fun than anything contained in the prequels. Although Serenity can stand on its own, it certainly benefits from having seen Firefly (which is also more fun the prequels).

5 | Munich

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Since Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has been a little hit or miss. Munich represents some of his strongest work in his recent career. The story of the Mossad agents tasked with killing the terrorists responsible for the Munich massacre is thrilling and thought-provoking. It attempts to be both sensational and anti-violence, and it mostly succeeds.

4 | Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

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This film resurrected the careers of Robert Downey Jr. and writer/director Shane Black. Later they reunited for Iron Man 3, which was fine, but it couldn’t match the wit and charm of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. A detective story about detective stories, it’s meta and satirical and really funny. Where else can you see RDJ pee on a dead body and then unwillingly kiss Val Kilmer?

3 | Grizzly Man

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Timothy Treadwell loved bears. He would tell them so, while living among them in an Alaskan nature reserve. And they developed a mutual respect—he assumed. Through footage shot by Treadwell and interviews with people who knew him, director Warner Herzog crafted a sad, quirky portrait of him. Treadwell is odd as you would expect, but Herzog projects less onto him, than Treadwell does onto his bear friends.

2 | Brick

BRICK

I’m a big fan of Rian Johnson’s work and his first film showed a ton of promise. Brick transposes a Phillip Marlowe-style detective story into a modern day high school setting. Turns out, the slang-heavy melodrama of film noir is a natural fit for moody teenagers. Like Looper—my favourite of his filmsit’s a clever genre mash-up that delivers in its own unique way. If you’re unfamiliar with Johnson, you’ll know him soon enough, since he’s writing and directing the next Star Wars.

1 | Good Night, and Good Luck.

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Edward R. Murrow is a icon in journalism in part because of his battle with the leader of the Red Scare witch hunt, Senator Joseph McCarthy. Serving triple duty as writer, director and co-star, George Clooney was the creative force behind bringing this story to the silver screen and like Murrow himself, the film is dignified and even-handed. Black-and-white cinematography, archival footage and a jazz score evoke a strong sense of time and place, though the political fear-mongering is sadly timeless.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

May 27, 2015

Halifax

Last year I would’ve bet you $1000 that I was never going back to school. I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m going to need that money in September, when I go back to school. I’m headed to Halifax to take a one-year Bachelor of Journalism at the University of King’s College.

I will still also be pursuing stand-up–in fact I consider this a next step in my comedy career. After working with VICE last summer and then starting The Hobbyist in the fall, I wanted to try carve a place for myself somewhere at the intersection of comedy and journalism. Hopefully, this degree will help me figure out what that might look like.

And if that doesn’t work out, at least I’ll have another degree.

On the topic of The Hobbyist, both of my listeners might have noticed that it has been inactive for a couple months now. Due to my upcoming move, I’ve had to leave CJSW. I cannot thank the fine folks at CJSW enough for the opportunity and all their support. Thanks to Kai Sinclair, Peter Oliver, Sarah Adams, Dave Norris, Geneviève Dale and especially Peter Hemminger–without whom, The Hobbyist might have never made it out of my drafts folder.

After my time in Halifax, I have do a month-long internship to complete my degree. Since this can be done anywhere, I’m aiming for Toronto. But who knows what will happen. And who knows where I’ll end up afterwards as a result. I’m a lot less certain about my future than I used to be. And that’s a good thing. Probably.

The Hobbyist – Episode 5 – Ben Cannon and Scoot Laird & Chuck E. Cheese

March 24, 2015

On episode 5 of The Hobbyist, fellow Calgary comedians Ben Cannon and Scoot Laird came to promote their live comedy game show, The Ben Scoot Boogie and the three of us made an unsettling trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

 

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