Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life on Lemonade

What do you do when life hands you lemons? You make an MTV audition tape! That's what local talents Jenna, April and Reggie have done. MTV is currently host an open casting call to all those who think they have what it takes to create a completely original MTV reality series. This local trio have produced a very intriguing and sentimental casting tape that is sure to be relatable to most of you out there. Ever feel like you were meant to do something bigger then what you're currently doing? Ever feel like your talents and skills are better suited elsewhere? Ever feel like you could learn so much more about yourself or your world? Ever feel like you should be following your dreams? These are just a few of the questions that are confronted in Life on Lemonade; a seriously cool coming of age of sorts for all the dreamers out there. So remember, dreams are attainable.. just keep squeezin' them lemons!

Do us all a favor and check out their audition video below, then follow the LINK to view thier casting page!

Become a Facebook friend of Life on Lemonade!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Kid 'n Play

For the past couple of weeks, I've been helping out Chloe's aunt by stepping in and babysitting the family baby. You've seen Brooklyn featured on this blog before and I'm sure we can all agree that she is cute as a button. Here of some photos of us playing in the yard as she shows off her new playground. Chloe took a few of these photos, so it seems she's been finding her inner Small Time Visionary.

A rare serious moment. I wish I could claim I took this beautiful photo, but Chloe was the one behind the lens this time. I love it!

Drivers ed. How flattering.

All that play has the kid tuckered out. Nap time, cutie pie.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking the High Road

On the West Side of Manhattan there is an amazing park that stretches through the neighbourhoods of Chelsea, The Meat Packing District and Hells Kitchen. It is called the High Line and it is one of the best examples of modern urban redevelopment. The High Line was originally an elevated track that moved dangerous trains off of the streets of Manhattan. Built in the 1930's and last utilized in the early 80's, the High Line became a decrepit community eyesore and was slated to be demolished until a small group of community activists fought to preserve the High Line and it's significance to the neighbourhoods it served. By taking ingenious design, the High Line magnificently mixes industrial material with natural occurring plants and wood that somehow blend into the urban landscape seamlessly. Beautiful!

Redevelopment is not a new concept to many of us. The City of Calgary has been working aggressively at re-shaping our oldest and ugliest neighbourhoods. Don't believe me? Just take a walk through the East Village, Victoria Park and Bridgeland. Can you think of any old industrial/brownfield sites that would be a good candidate for a face lift? I'm sure you can! Just to name a few off the top of my head, how about the old Firestone site or the Currie Barracks? These are sites that remained nearly deserted and unused, but could certainly benefit from a redevelopment strategy.

Look outside of the box; rethink your neighborhood. Make it yours.

Redevelopment doesn't end simply at placing a condo on top of an old site. There are far more options that may not be as financially viable but add to a city's attractiveness and livability. Adding new high rises simply add to the problem as we consume more and effectively force out those who cannot afford to live in luxury. This is why our civic officials need to take charge of our cities, listen to their constituents and mute out the corporations. We need more low-income housing. More parks. More transit options. Our cities belong to us and we need to dare to be a little different.

To learn a little more about what the City of Calgary is doing in terms of redevelopment, click on the following links: Calgary's Brownfield Strategy, Toward Smart Growth in Calgary, and Plan It Calgary Display Boards. I've done my research, you should too!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movie Review: The Karate Kid

It has been a little over a month since I have written a movie review and while I have seen two summer blockbusters since the last review, those being Iron Man 2 and Get Him to the Greek, they were hardly worth writing about. In short, Iron Man 2 was a poor excuse of a sequel that deviated more from a weak story line then Tiger Woods cared to deviate from his marriage while Get Him to the Greek was a funny at times film that felt somewhat incomplete in its composition but has the potential to grow on you like it’s predecessor, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

When I first heard of The Karate Kid remake I groaned in agony as I anticipated Hollywood to yet again butcher a classic and personal favorite. In my opinion, the original Karate Kid movie is a near perfect film; it has your classic underdog protagonist, the douchey and hated villain in Johnny and the Cobra Kai, the wise Mr. Miyagi as the mentor, a challenge for the hero to overcome, a final showdown between the two entities and a love interest in the form of a young and rotund Elizabeth Shue, whom is a direct link to Kevin Bacon in the film Hollow Man, therefore adding to your repertoire of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon knowledge. I cannot stress how important a direct link to Kevin Bacon is as one would be stumped without such trivial knowledge. If only such wisdom was acceptable to put on a resume; maybe I would have at least gotten a call back by now! But I digress from a weak movie review more then Tiger Woods... wait, I used that metaphor already.

Dre is the new Karate Kid and finds his life in Detroit ripped apart when his mother accepts a new position in Beijing, China. As expected, Dre has a hard time fitting in, not only because the Chinese seem mystified with African American hair styles, but because he has a bit of a salty attitude. Immediately, Dre makes enemies with the neighbourhood assholes and finds himself beat up on the pavement more often then one would care to be. Thank goodness the maintenance man, Mr. Han, can kick some serious pre-pubescent butt! Reluctantly, Han takes Dre under his aged wing and teaches Dre the mysteries of Eastern Philosophy and facial modulation through the use of Kung Fu. Did I just say Kung Fu? Why the hell isn't this movie called the Kung Fu Kid?!

What the poor movie summary above shows is that the remake follows the original very closely. Almost exactly actually, which I am extremely ecstatic about. The new Karate Kid is a near perfect re-application of the original's story line. Almost every scene from the original is recreated and infused with its own Eastern influence. I hate how some remakes try to re-invent the original. The new Karate Kid doesn't pretend to be something new and amazing. In true Confuciast and Taoist fashion, The new Karate Kid sticks close to the game plan and did a great job of keeping hardcore purists like myself happy.

Now, on to my gripes about the film, besides the film being called The Karate Kid and not the Kung Fu kid: (a) I don't like how the hero, Dre, was so young. No diss to Jaden Smith, the kid is going to have a long and successful career, but I just feel that the youth of Dre is too much of a departure from the O.G. K.K. (b) I find it hard to believe that Jackie Chan is an old man. I'm a huge fan, and I know he can still jump off buildings and climb 5 story walls. Seeing him limp around on screen isn't fooling anyone! (c) the villians voice sounds like a little girls. Not very intimidating.

One thing that I find especially exciting about the film is that it is one of the first major alliances of Hollywood and Chinese film studios. Yup, get used to it folks because whether you like it or not, the West will have to meet the East in even larger arenas then the film industries. Soon, there will be more chinese brands on North American soil then you could shake a leg at. Anything from motor vehicles, electronics and furniture will be flooding our markets. Hell, Jason Kidd and Ron Artest are sponsered by Chinese sneaker manufactuer, Peak. What the devil is Peak?! Anyways, could this film just be a larger allegory for how our society will evolve in the following generations. Will the older, wiser East be taking the younger, cocky West under it's weathered yet mighty wing? Only time will tell; but don't take my word for it, I can't even get a call back!



Monday, June 14, 2010

Taking it Back

Excuse me folks, but I took a little time off from the blog last week. I officially graduated on the 7th, which was certainly a long time coming. I can't help but feel proud about what I accomplished and proved to myself. I learned more useful lessons about life then anything that I have learned from an over-priced text book or inflated professor. While the years in post-secondary have been the most personally challenging, they were also the most rewarding. I just want to give a quick slow jam shout out to all the people who were there with me along the way. Some of you I may have lost touch with, others I may have gotten closer to; either way, you're influence, no matter how long or short it has been (that's what she said) has made me into the individual I am today. You are appreciated, so Thank you.

High Flyin': Washington Square Park, NYC. Pigeon

Lately I've been throwing it back to the old school. I dusted off my dad's Pentax/Asahi K1000 SLR and have been shooting some film. For christmas, my parents gifted me some dark room supplies to develop B&W film, 100 ft. of Ilford FP4+ film, a day light film loader and empty canisters. They've been sitting dormant for 6 months but I decided to dust them off and give them a go. I now load my own film canisters and develop my film in the basement bathroom with the lights completely off and the door seems covered in masking tape. I decided to shoot more film as an exercise in the science and technique of photography. You can't cheat with film, and what you get through the lens is what you're stuck with, but through experimentation one can alter the overall effect of the image. These are things I feel every photographer should experiment with. I've grown up in the digital age, so while film appears completely dated, it doesn't get any purer. As you can imagine, it will take a lot longer to get anything posted from these exercises, but I'll keep you in the loop.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Times are a Changin'

When I first saw Times Square, I was flabbergasted at the sheer supremacy it exudes. It is seriously something out of this world. To me, Times Square represents capitalism to it's most extreme limit. It's evident in all the billboards, big screen televisions running ads and the scrolling stock market ticker. Times Square is the worlds largest spam email. The worlds largest pop-up ad. The worlds largest alter to free-market economies. Surprisingly, Times Square was not my favorite place to be. The stores are generic, the resturaunts were crowded and the atmosphere is like a circus. I'm happy we decided to stay in SOHO and Union Square rather then here.

Just days prior to these shots being taken, a terrorist attempt at demolishing Times Square was foiled by a humble t-shirt vendor. It's no wonder why Times Square would be a target, but it's kind of ironic that a t-shirt vendor saved the Times and not a police officer or Spiderman. The place is insane and has to be seen to believed. These photos were chosen because they present Times Square in the grand manner for which I perceived during my visit. Yes, I did another selective colour but I couldn't help it! So please, enjoy.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Noel Crisostomo

This one here is for all my fashion lovers..

My Tito Noel has been a figure in the Canadian Fashion Industry long before you started wearing high heels, sheer silk tops and jeggings. He worked with some of the more familiar fashion outlets in the world, but more recently, he decided to settle down (for the time being) in Manila. There, my Tito Noel developed his own high fashion label which he named after himself. Designing dresses for some of the Philippines hottest celebrities quickly helped him gain mainstream popularity, eventually earning him recognition as one of the hottest up and coming designers in the Philippines.

The past year and a half has been monumental for my now famous Uncle. He has been featured in numerous fashion magazines, created seasonal collections to rave reviews and has even opened up his own shop in the super trendy business district of Manila, Makati (think the Manhattan of Manila).

Just last week, my Tito Noel hosted his first full collection fashion show for the Premiere B Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2010. When asked about his collection Noel Crisostomo says, "I was inspired by postmodern architecture, particularly the works of Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Pieces are sleek, clean and modern, with a sense of deconstruction. Using fabrics like pinstripe wool, wool crepe and leather, I intend to show the contrast between rigid[ity and softness], soft matte and shine, as well as masculinity and femininity." I have to say, and call be biased but, his designs are absolutely breath taking and are pieces you can expect to see from the big fashion houses in Europe and North America. I'm so proud of my uncle and I want to wish him all the luck in the future of his label.

Click the image below and you'll be linked to the photos of my Tito Noels collection.

*please note that the photos above were not taken by myself, so credit is owed to an unknown photographer.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Late Night

Chloe and I acquired tickets to be the audience for a recording of Late Night with David Letterman. I've always been a bit of a fan for Letterman because he kind of looked like my friends dad. Letterman is pretty funny too and his goofball skits always manage to make me laugh. In order to get tickets, one would have to sign up online and wait for a phone call from a CBS rep who will then ask you a trivia question which you must answer correctly to win the tickets. Chloe happened to sign up my phone number because she claimed to not know anything about the show. Here's how my experience went:

It's around lunch time and I head upstairs to make myself a little something. I can't really recall what it was, but I'm going to guess it was something like lobster and fillet Mignon seasoned with gold flake and diamonds. When I head back to my room I notice a missed call with a 212 designation. Manhattan? Hmm, better check the voicemail.

Caller: Hi this is Jamie calling from the Late Show with David Letterman looking for Stephen. I'm calling because you requested tickets for the week of May 3-7. Please give me a call back and only leave one message clearly stating your name, phone number and your message. I will have to ask you a skill testing question.

I couldn't believe my luck! I thought those fools at CBS forgot about me already, so in a frantic rage I redial and call Jamie up to leave her a message. I pace around the room in anticipation of her call back, but then it occurs on me; I forgot to leave a call back number! Awww, just my luck! She seemed pretty adamant about the only one message comment on her voicemail. But I figure what the hell, how will she contact me without a phone number?! So I call back, speaking and acting like it was the first time I called, mirroring the previous message I left but including that all important call back number.

A few hours roll by now. I'm growing more and more concerned that Jamie isn't going to call back and my opportunity is gone. But alas, Jamie does call back! I feel like I'm in Jr. High again when the girl you like says she'll call you at home but makes you sweat until the final hour.

Caller: "Hi, this is Jamie from the Late Show with David Letterman. Is this Stephen?
Me:: "Oh hi! This is Stephen speaking. I didn't think you would call me back!"
Caller: "Well I received your messages and I would still like to give you the opportunity to win tickets to see a recording of the show. Now I will have to ask you a trivia question about the show before I can reward you the tickets. Are you ready?
Me: As ready as I'll ever be!
Caller: Alright, you tool. David often visits Rupert Gee at the store around the corner. What is the name of the store?
Me: Ohh I know that one!
Caller: Then please, humor me and give me your answer, you douche.
Me: It's the Hello Deli!
Caller: That is correct, congratulations. Now before I give you the tickets I need a few pieces of information from you..................................

And that's when the line went dead. My phone battery died! Can you believe it?!?! Of all times for my phone to die, it had to be now! So again, I leave Jamie another message; I swear, she must hate the sound of my voice by now. Again, I wait an hour or so and she actually calls me back! In the end we get the tickets and she was a lot more pleasant then I made her sound.

The experience was amazing, but the standing and waiting sucks. There are these 'fluffer' type guys that hype the crowd up for David and eventually make you susceptible to laugh at even the most ridiculously unfunny jokes. The show featured Russell Crowe and the musical guest was Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, of which I am a huge fan. But the shining light was the CBS Orchestra headed by Paul Schafer! They are so talented, playing U2's Beautiful Day and Curtis Mayfield's Move On Up during commercial breaks. We were fortunate enough to sit in the second row right in front of the orchestra, so I was grooving in my seat the entire time.

If you have about 40 minutes to kill, below I linked the entire show. I suggest you at least watch the first 3 videos and the last one for the musical performance.

Musical Performance @ 4:30