Remembrance Day in photos

One of my favourite assignments last year was the Remembrance Day assignment.

I talked to my mom’s cousin, who was sent to Rwanda after the genocide on a peacekeeping mission. It changed him, sure, but he assured me he wouldn’t change anything about his experiences if he could.

He expressed how important Remembrance Day is to him, and his words reminded me how important Remembrance Day should be for all Canadians.

Most importantly, the assignment reminded me that everyone has a story worth sharing.

Today I spent the morning in Transcona for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 7’s Remembrance Day Parade and Service. I met some pretty great people, and I tried my best not to complain about the cold.

Here are some of the many photos I took as part of this year’s photo essay assignment.

Two Auxiliary Cadets preparing for the start of Transcona's Remembrance Day Parade.

Two Auxiliary Cadets make their way to their post for the Remembrance Day Parade, which started at the Royal Canadian Legion Transcona Branch No. 7.

A member of the Color Party waits for the Remembrance Day Parade to begin.

A member of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Transcona Branch No. 7 Colour Party stands and waits for the parade to begin.

The Remembrance Day Parade begins with the Color Party leading the way.

The Remembrance Day Parade underway, with the Colour Party leading the way.

The youth musical group Transcona and District Pipe Band march while bag piping and drumming.

The youth musical group Transcona and District Pipe Band march while bag piping and drumming.

As the parade arrives at the  Blessed Sacrament Parish, a woman claps from the sidewalk for those marching.

A woman claps for those marching in the parade as they arrive at the Blessed Sacrament Parish at 710 Roanoke Street. 

Peter Martin marches with the flag for his 93-year-old father who served in the Second World War.

Peter Martin marches with the torch for his 93-year-old father Paul Martin who served in the Second World War.

From left to right: Peter Martin with father Paul Martin.

From left to right: Peter Martin with father Paul Martin.

 

***Here are a few others not included in the assignment, but ones I’d still like to share.
Winnipeg's Auxiliary Cadets heading to their place in the Remembrance Day Parade.

Winnipeg’s Auxiliary Cadets heading to their place in the Remembrance Day Parade.

People of all ages filled Blessed Sacrament Parish in Transcona during the Remembrance Day Service.

People of all ages filled Blessed Sacrament Parish in Transcona during the Remembrance Day Service.

The Remembrance Day wreaths lined up at the front of the stage.

The Remembrance Day wreaths lined up at the front of the stage.

Second World War veteran Paul Martin, 93, shows off his badges at Transcona's Remembrance Day Service.

Second World War veteran Paul Martin, 93, shows off his badges at Transcona’s Remembrance Day Service.

Those marching in the parade walk past the Memorial Park Circle on their way back to the Royal Canadian Legion.

Those marching in the parade walk past the Memorial Park Circle on their way back to the Royal Canadian Legion.

All photos were taken with my iPhone 5C

My take: Wicked

Okay, so if you read my previous post, behind the scenes of Wicked, you know that I had the opportunity to see the show. It was a dream come true. I wrote a little piece on my thoughts, and here it is!

My first time was Wicked

It all started with Glee; I must admit I’m a huge fan. Ever since I found out Idina Menzel — Rachel Berry’s mom on the show, and whose name John Travolta majorly screwed up at the 2014 Academy Awards — was the original Wicked Witch of the West in the Broadway show, I became a little obsessed.

I must also admit I have never been to a musical or Broadway show before, unless you count high school musicals, but for the sake of this review, let’s not (as much as I loved my school’s rendition of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).

I fantasized about the day I would see my first show, and naturally, I wanted it to be Wicked. There will always be a place in my heart for the Land of Oz, and Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz has been Broadway’s highest grossing show for nine years in a row right here in North America.

The musical was written by Winnie Holzman, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, all of which was based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire. If you’ve ever wondered why the Wicked Witch was so darn wicked, well, this musical explains it.

Thursday Aug. 21 was the night. The Centennial Concert Hall was packed with people, many eagerly waiting in line to purchase their new Wicked merchandise. Upon arriving, I was told that on this particular evening, the standby actress, Alyssa Fox, would be playing the lead role of Elphaba (a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West).

I took my seat and anxiously waited for the show to begin. A giant metal dragon sat perched overhead, and a curtain with a glowing green map of Oz hung in front of the stage. When the lights dimmed and the curtain went up, I was completely giddy.

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The show started off where the classic 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, left off. Glinda hovers above Munchkinland as a Munchkin below cries, “The wicked witch is dead!” This is also when another asks the good witch about Elphaba, and when Glinda recounts their tumultuous past, the show begins.

The two-and-a-half hour show definitely had its star performers and stand-out moments, but one thing I was not expecting was to be constantly laughing out loud. For such a sombre story, characters like Mme. Morrible and Glinda had the audience guffawing — and loudly, might I add — throughout the entirety of the show. Kathy Fitzgerald seemed born to play the role of Mme. Morrible, and Kara Lindsay shone as Glinda.

I was very pleased with Alyssa Fox as Elphaba, and at the end of the first half, when she ascended above the stage belting out “Defying Gravity,” I most definitely shed a tear. Her voice was incredibly powerful, and after watching Menzel perform the same song time and time again on YouTube, I can say that I was certainly not let down.

What did let me down, however, were the male leads. Matt Shingledecker, who plays Fiyero, delivered a not-so-memorable performance, falling to the wayside and being overshadowed by his fellow leading actresses. And although Oz is a traditionally weak character, Gene Weygandt’s performance left me wanting more.

However, all the good the show had to offer definitely outweighed the bad. The massive backdrops and sets rolled in and out seamlessly, the dancing was consistently synchronized and the costumes were impressive. Costume changes seemed almost effortless — although I’m sure they didn’t seem that way for the actors — switching from Munchkins to college kids in no time. The Emerald City citizens were my favourite: extravagant gowns and suits in various shades of green, which were all very Lady Gaga-esque.

Some other highlights included Glinda and Elphaba’s dormitory scene, in which the audience got a good glimpse at Glinda’s quirky personality; the flying monkeys (of course); and near the end, when the two witches sing “For Good.” The duo had such good chemistry; it appeared as though they were actually two best friends up on stage together, which of course made me cry like my aunt does when she’s watching Dancing with the Stars.

The curtain dropped, and just like that the show was over. I was no longer a musical virgin. A few moments passed and the curtain rose for the finale, where every audience member clapped and got out of their seats. The standing ovation was sweet, but not as sweet as seeing the huge smiles strewn across the faces of the cast members.

My first time was everything I had ever imagined it to be: I smiled, I cried and I laughed a whole heck of a lot. If you ever get the chance to see Wicked for real — instead of on YouTube like the old me — I highly recommend you do. Oz speed, my dear.

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Adventures in Toon Town

Last summer I blogged about how much I love little getaways. To be honest, I haven’t had any this entire summer, except for last weekend when Riley and I escaped to one of my favourite places ever: Saskatoon. I love it because it’s an extremely beautiful city. I love it because it’s where some of my dearest loved ones call home. And I love it because when I’m there, I feel at home too.

It was an extremely quick trip — we left Friday after work and returned Sunday evening. Although a very short weekend getaway, we still managed to do everything I hoped we would. Riley had never been before, so I was excited for him to not only meet my family, but also to take in the beauty of the city. Saturday morning, my aunt Margaret volunteered as tour guide, and we were happy to have her; she knows the city inside and out, so it worked out perfectly. Riley and her seemed to hit it off, so I was happy.

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We checked out the Weir, took a tour of downtown Saskatoon — which included a fun little adventure checking out the Bessborough hotel, built in 1935 — and strolled down the eclectic Broadway Avenue.

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Saturday evening, my wonderful, wonderful aunt Margaret planned and hosted a family BBQ, where we got to capture this adorable family photo. (NOTE: my aunt Margaret is missing because she is taking the photo. Yes, she is pretty much the sweetest lady).

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My cousin Brennan and his girlfriend took us to a bunch of pavilions for Saskatoon’s Folk Fest (pretty much Winnipeg’s Folklorama). Riley danced his first Polka at the Ukrainian Pavilion. Things got kinda strange at the German Pavilion. Things got really strange at the Scottish Pavilion. And then there was the Norway Pavilion.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a nice brunch with my aunt and uncle in from Australia. Their pancakes were delicious and Riley and I ate plums we swore were the best we’d ever had. We said our goodbyes and hit the road to start our eight-hour trek home. We made some stops along the way for snacks and dinner, and to take some pictures of the beautiful scenery. It was on and off storming, so we HAD to pull over when we saw a rainbow in the distance.

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I was sad for it to be over (our first road trip together!!!), but I have no doubt we will be back soon. Even though this was my only little getaway this summer, I had the best time and it was a huge success. Cheers!

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P.S. How awesome is this photobomb?

Behind the scenes of Wicked

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While at work one day last week, I received an email from my friend Jess, the arts and culture editor at OutWords magazine. She asked me if I would be interested in reporting on the set up of the popular musical Wicked. I was so excited; I jumped at the opportunity. I was able to chat with some industry professionals, talk to some people that work on the show, and work on my photography skills.

At the time I wasn’t able to go to the show (I got tickets afterward), so I thought, ‘Well, behind the scenes is better than nothing.’ It was pretty eye-opening to see the amount of work that goes into a show of that scale. This is the article I wrote for the magazine, and you can check it out on their website here. (NOTE: I did get the chance to go to the show and I cried. I also wrote a review, which I will post shortly).

How to be Wicked

A behind-the-scenes look at setting up the Tony award winning show

Flying monkeys, Glenda the Good Witch’s travelling bubble and the giant Time Dragon that hangs overhead make the Land of Oz quite a magical place. Then there is the process of transforming venue after venue into the Land of Oz, which seems quite magical in itself.

Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, Broadway’s highest grossing show for nine consecutive years, will be back in Winnipeg playing at the Centennial Concert Hall from August 20 to 30. The last time the show was in town was in 2011, when it broke box-office records and sold out in record time.

“We’re happy to be back in Winnipeg,” said Bridget Stegall, associate company manager. “We look forward to amazing the Winnipeg audiences.”

But before musical lovers can be amazed, an experienced team must assemble and set up backdrops and stage props, convertingan ordinary stage into the mystical setting of Wicked.

The travelling company comes equipped with 35 crew members who are in charge of electrical, sound, carpentry, wardrobe, hair and make-up—and that is not including the musicians or actors. Along with the travelling team, the company hires approximately 100 local men to help unload and set up the 11 semi trucks full of equipment. There is a lot to roll out—just to give you an idea, the company uses about four to five miles of cable per show.

“It takes about two days to set everything up. It only takes five hours to load everything out because our guys have worked on this tour for such a long time they have it down to a science,” said Stegall.

The Centennial Concert Hall is a loud place during set up, until elegant crowds takes over in the evening. Hammers are clanking, men are climbing up and down ladders attaching cords, and workers are using measuring tapes to ensure everything is just right. And everything must be just right because assembling the stage is like putting together a puzzle. Certain things must be set up first before the next pieces can go in and so forth. Backdrops are the first to be set up. Once in place, the heavy pieces get sent above the stage with a loud rumble, staying there until they’re needed in the show. Once everything is up in the air, the crew can start laying down the deck.

Between the crew’s communication skills and their efficiency, it’s evident they have done this many times before. Even their coffee breaks are timed out perfectly; like clockwork, all crew members exit simultaneously, leaving the stage deserted and quiet for fifteen minutes until it’s time to get back to work.

After two days of set up and a sound check, the show is ready for its Winnipeg audience. According to Stegall, the breathtaking costumes and the multi-million dollar sets are the same as those we would see on Broadway.

“You’re not getting a lesser or smaller version of the show because we’re here in Winnipeg. We bring the show with us,” Stegall said.

For a travelling show of this magnitude, it’s not an easy task recreating the Land of Oz (fun fact: the electrical, sound and automation departments use enough power to supply approximately 18 houses). But many hands make light work when recreating the show that was declared “the best musical of the decade” by Entertainment Weekly. The show must go on, but first, the stage is set.

I hope you’re happy

Yesterday I dropped my boyfriend off at the airport (Note: I have only ever dropped people off at the airport that completed construction nearly three years ago). I’m not jealous.

Okay, I’m a little jealous. He’s going to Europe for two weeks (you can read about it here). I have never been, and I am dying to go.

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with my dad:

D: Are you going to cry when he leaves?

A: No dad, I’m not going to cry. Yes I’ll be sad, but more so because I’m not going, not because he’s leaving.

D: So what you’re saying is you’d rather go and he stay here?

A: No…well, yeah I’d be okay with that. (ha ha ha)

But in all seriousness, I’m super happy for him. He’s going to have a blast, and he’s with great company. The best part is that he gets to celebrate his 23rd birthday overseas, and how cool is that?

Yesterday at work my boss told me something: the best quality a person can have is to be genuinely happy for others (and this is just one more reason why I love her).

It was good timing and just what I needed to hear.

Regardless of the fact that I’ve never been to Europe, that I’ve only ever dropped people off at the new airport, and that I drove home in my sauna of a car, I find joy in his happiness. And yeah, sometimes it’s hard not to be jealous, but I think that’s only natural.

 

As for me, I just finished two books that I really enjoyed: Everything’s Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford and Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (more details later). I’m starting to read World War Z now because Riley and I just watched a documentary on Netflix called Doc of The Dead which reignited my love of zombies. Also, he said it’s really good and I totally trust his judgement.

I’m working, although I work outside, so if you’re reading this from Winnipeg you know how that’s going…

I’m slowly preparing for my IPP, thanks to some really helpful people. 

I’m writing some articles, and I may have an exciting freelance PR opportunity coming my way (more details later). And like my school friend Cella, I’m trying to just write for fun again. Like she explained, sometimes it’s just plain hard to write something.

I’m really enjoying the fun things like my ultimate frisbee team, Can’t Touch Disc (I know, super awesome name), having drinks on patios (when it’s not raining), and appreciating the company of my friends.

I’m trying really hard to be less clumsy. After dropping my phone in the toilet and then dropping my new one on the concrete and cracking the screen, it’s very necessary. Also, funny story: Riley and I enjoyed some drinks at Stella’s before he went through security. I got a delicious iced latte and he got some lemonade. I almost walked away leaving my keys on the counter. He picked them up and handed them to me:

R: You worry me when you put your keys on the counter like that.

A: Yeah, I do that a lot. The other day I left them on a counter somewhere. Thankfully a man noticed and brought them over to me. Oops!

Once we said our goodbyes and Riley was in line at security, I set down all my stuff at a suitcase display to rummage through my backpack to try and find my keys (I glanced over a few times to make sure he wasn’t looking). Once I found them, I made it all the way back to my car before I realized I had left my Jean jacket back on the display. Of course. Some habits are just really hard to break.

Last but not least, I’m looking forward to some weekends away later this summer.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer + finding joy in the happiness and success of others.

 

summer reading

I’ve been reading a lot so far this summer, or trying to anyways. During school I found it too difficult to get myself to open a book; by the end of the day I just wanted to sleep. Okay midday I wanted to sleep. Okay okay, I was so tired I didn’t even want to get out of bed some days. But, now that school is done, I’ve made it a goal to always have a book on the go.

About a week ago now, I — unsurprisingly — dropped my phone in the toilet. It was the second time I’ve done that, and I sure hope it’s the last. Needless to say I had a few days without the ol’ smartphone.

I was a little worried, considering my shameful phone dependency. It seems whenever I was bored, I was on my phone. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Always scrolling. It got to a point where I would pick up my phone and open up apps out of habit.

I went a day without a phone before I popped my SIM card into my boyfriends old Sony Ericsson. It didn’t have all the conveniences of my toilet-water soaked iPhone, but it allowed for phone calls and text messaging.

Without the distractions of the iPhone apps, instead of picking up my phone, I picked up a book. Paragraph by paragraph I filled up my spare time, rather than picture by status update. It was so refreshing.

It was a lesson learned on my terrible phone habits.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still a millennial, and after a few days I headed down to the mall and got myself a brand new iPhone 5C (which I like a lot). That said, I have taken a good look at my app-scrolling ways, and I’d like to think I’ve made a change. At the very least I’ve cut back. These days, instead of picking up my phone, I opt to pick up a book.

If you’re looking for something to read this summer, here are some of the books I’ve recently read:

photo 3 (4)The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich —  This book inspired the feature film “The Social Network.” It tells the story of how Facebook came to be, through various inside sources. I saw the movie before I started reading the book, and the two were actually pretty similar. I love me some Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, but this book was very good, so it’s hard to say which I preferred. A nice and easy read, though.

 

 

photo 2 (5)The Parabolist by Nicholas Ruddock —  I very much enjoyed this book. Based in Toronto in 1975, this novel is an interesting mix between comedy, mystery and poetry. Ruddock’s writing style was very unique (I know I shouldn’t use that word), in a poetic sort of way. I couldn’t help being distracted by his use of punctuation — and I liked it. It’s the same story told through multiple characters perspective. Not what I was expecting at all, but in a good way.

 

 

photo 1 (3)A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore —  I’m more of a journalistic, biography type girl, and this kind of book just isn’t something I would normally pick up. It’s about a man who becomes Death. I’ll admit, if I only read the back, there’s no way I would have read it — but I’m glad I did. I actually laughed out loud on multiple occasions. It was well-written and entertaining, and it reminded me that books don’t need to be so serious. I definitely recommend it, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Christopher Moore.

 

photo 1 (3)I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali — My mother recommended me this book. A sad story told short and sweet in 188 pages. The true story is pretty obvious — a different title would have allowed for a little mystery — but definitely worth a read. In 2008, this young Yemeni child was married off to a man she hadn’t even once met. I was so invested in the story from the beginning, I tore through that book in a day. I will admit the writing wasn’t the best, but hey, it was a powerful story.

 

 

photo 2 (3)American On Purpose by Craig Ferguson — I’ll admit, I’ve never been a fan of Craig Ferguson. Don’t get me wrong, I had nothing against the guy, he’s just never attracted my attention in a way that would call me a ‘fan.’ I was skeptical when I started reading the book but was impressed to learn he was a very well-read man himself. He’s a good writer with a hell of a lot of good stories to tell. This funny man’s life is nothing short of entertaining, so if you’re into autobiographies like me, give this book a read– whether you’re into Fergie or not.

 

I’m currently reading Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford and The White Masai by Hermine Huntgeburth, with plenty more on the shelf to go (I’m hoping to get through some of the classics!)

If you have any recommendations, shoot them my way!

Happy summer reading!