Category Archives: music

2015 Summer Preview!

HEY! Here’s some writing and performing related stuff happening in my fair city of Toronto this – 2015 – summer and fall. I’ve also included events that have already passed (and that I was too dumb to get ahead of) so you (and I) can plan for next year. If you say you’re bored, it means you’re boring, or you just need to read a book or something. Go see some damn art damnit!

Stratford Festival: Stratford, Ontario is home to this 61 year-old theatre festival featuring the work of The Bard performed by some of the world’s best talent from APRIL to OCTOBER.

Shaw Festival: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario hosts performances of plays written by or written during the lifetime of George Bernard Shaw from APRIL to OCTOBER.

inspiraTO: The 10th year for this theatre festival held at the Alumnae Theatre from MAY 28th to JUNE 6th, that features blocks of 10 minute plays all revolving around a particular theme or concept.

Pedestrian Sundays: Literally walk in the streets of Toronto’s coolest neighbourhood every Sunday from MAY 31st to the end of warm weather.

Breakthroughs Film Festival: Short Film festival featuring emerging female filmmakers at the Innis Town Hall on the weekend of JUNE 5 & JUNE 6th.

EXEE: Great beers and live bands every night at The Only Cafe during the week of JUNE 13th to JUNE 20th.

Female Eye Film Festival: “Always Honest, Not Always Pretty”, goes the tagline for this film fest featuring female filmmakers and it runs from JUNE 16th to JUNE 21st at The Royal Cinema.

Open Roof Festival: Music and films for $15 ever Wednesday at 99 Sudbury from JUNE 17th to AUGUST 19th sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

NXNE: A music and arts fest that takes over the city in a good way from JUNE 17th to JUNE 21st.

Pride Toronto: The annual extravaganza of LGBTQIA culture revs Toronto up for the summer and features fantastically flamboyant marches, parades, performances, and other great “p” words at various venues from JUNE 19th to JUNE 28th.

Luminato Festival: Everything art and all in Toronto at a variety of venues and times all around the clock from JUNE 19th to JUNE 28th.

Toronto Fringe Festival: Awesome indie theatre killing it with reckless abandon, and an outstanding beer tent at venues and times that only awesome indie theatre can rock from JULY 1st to JULY 12th.

Shakespeare in High Park: Once again High Park is home to a double-bill of Shakespeare wherein the same cast performs a comedy (“The Comedy of Errors”) and a tragedy (“Julius Caesar”) on alternating nights at their outdoor amphitheatre from JULY 2nd to SEPTEMBER 6th.

ReelheART International Film & Screenplay Festival: Festival that features film screenings and script readings at various venues including The Carlton Cinema and the AGO from JULY 6th to JULY 11th.

Christie Pits Film Fest: Free/pwyc outdoor movie screenings at Christie Pits park every Sunday during JULY & AUGUST.

SummerWorks Performance Festival: SummerWorks has performers acting, singing, and dancing sometimes all at once at venues across the city from AUGUST 6th to 16th.

Toronto International Queer West Film Festival: Queer West features films from local and international LGBTQ filmmakers and promotes the beauty of diversity and creativity at The Revue Cinema from AUGUST 7th to AUGUST 9th.

Buskerfest: If you want to see someone ride a unicycle while juggling live chainsaws and holding a torch aflame in their mouth then check out Toronto’s Buskerfest along Yonge Street between College Street and Queen Street and this is now going to be a run-on sentence because I promised myself only to write one sentence per event to keep things simple and so I can’t confirm the fire-mouthed chainsaw juggler but there will be music, juggling of some sort, acrobats, food and clowns and depending on whether you like clowns or are terrified by them the clowns might be nice or sinister and the clowns and others can be found on Yonge from AUGUST 27th to AUGUST 30th.

TOindie Film Festival: Fantastic event featuring indie films from Toronto and across the world held at the local gem known as The Carlton Cinema from SEPTEMBER 3rd to SEPTEMBER 12th.

Toronto International Film Festival: A world renowned film fest featuring talent, both renowned and waiting to be rewound, from across the globe and at venues across the city from SEPTEMBER 10th to SEPTEMBER 20th.

The Word on the Street: Books, magazines, and literary “stuff” can all be at Harbourfront Centre on SEPTEMBER 27th from 11am to 6pm.

International Festival of Authors: Writers are everywhere but during this fest they can mostly be found at Harbourfront Centre talking and signing and talking and probably writing from OCTOBER 22nd to NOVEMBER 1st.

NaNoWriMo: Join authors around the world and write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of NOVEMBER.

In addition to all of this, there is the Toronto Festival of Beer, various street parties throughout Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods, and Yonge and Dundas Square always has something going on!

Stuff I’ve missed because I am an idiot but check it out to plan for next year:

Inside Out: LGBT Film Festival; Doors Open Toronto; Canadian Film Fest; Canadian Music Week (CMW); CONTACT Photography Festival; Hot Docs; TOindie Shorts Festival (affliated with the TOindie Film Festival)


SOURCES: NOW Magazine; The Toronto Star; the various festival websites listed above; my massive head and the memories contained therein.


Writing Exercise: “Wait” by M83

Just heard this song for the first time today and can’t turn it off. It’s pretty much perfect for a montage scene. At least I think so.

So the writing exercise? Wherever you are, stop. Turn this song on and listen. Listen to it and develop your montage. If you are on the street, you have a stock load of characters just walking by. Maybe everyone within your vicinity is connected in some way. Sounds like great montage fodder to me. But wherever you are, stop, listen and then write a montage.


Everything & Everything Else

Yes, the title of this post is pretty weak, but it’s short and because I decided to pack everything that’s been happening in the last couple of weeks it’s more than appropriate.

Alright, well, what’s been happening?

Let’s start with the most important weekend of my creative life. Two and a half weeks ago my dear friend (I’d name her, but I’m not sure she wants to be named so henceforth she will be referred to as MDF) contacted me about an upcoming screenwriting opportunity wherein production teams have 48 hours to write and produce a short film. This was my introduction to the The 48 Hour Film Project. What an experience. Wow. MDF, who was also my writing partner, and I got together at 7pm on the night of October 18th and began our writing process. After two ideas, some delicious soup, a banana, an epic larynx crushing hug, two moments of goosebump inducing revelations, consultation with the production team, and a bunch of other stuff, we nailed an idea and had a first draft put into Final Draft at around 4am the next morning.

And that was just the beginning. The team then took our script and turned it into a BRILLIANT visual experience. As cliche as it may sound, words do not do justice to any part of this experience. It was truly a blessing to work with the uber-talented individuals that I had the pleasure of collaborating with on this project and I feel indebted to each and everyone of them. I describe this as the most important weekend of my creative life, because it gave me a chance to help create something, but also to work with such an amazing group of people who, without ego or personal agenda, committed their time, talent and effort to creating a film in a scant 48 hours. I am truly humbled to have been a part of this project and feel as though I should message each person every day to express my gratitude. Now, I haven’t done that because then, instead of the team thinking of me as “that writer guy who worked on the 48 Hour film project”, I would be, “that crazy, overly-grateful guy who needs a thesaurus to find other ways to say thank you and maybe a valium because he keeps sending me really happy and rambling thank you emails and now I just want to go to his house and shut off his internet”…so ya, maybe I should stop it here.

But Damnit! Good job to all! And Thank You!

Our contribution, “ex gratia” will be screening at the Revue Cinema, Monday November 4th at 7pm.

After we wrapped I met MDF and her lovely and talented boyfriend, MDCT (those are his initials), for a couple beers a few days later and I thanked her again for asking me to be a part of the experience and she said that one of the reasons she did so was because she felt I needed a creative kick in the ass. And without knowing it, she was right, I did need that. As good friends tend to, they know and can read parts of us that we have maybe let fall, unintentionally, dormant and after she said that I realized that I had been feeling disconnected from my creative self. This past year I went back to school with the intention to change careers and find something more stable to pay the bills until my writing career can handle them on its own. During that time, I keep up with reading, editing and story plotting, but the actual writing muscle was rarely exercised. I remember feeling as though I had “lost my muse” for lack of better phrasing. This project ignited it and combined with another reading of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – I know I have posted about it before, but as a refresher it is easily the most important book ever written about creativity and living a creative life – the muse is back. And this wouldn’t be a blog post on without the accompanying music to express a sentiment. So I give you, “You” by Matt Skiba and the Sekrets (I’ll post the song and lyrics below…the vid is pretty guerilla.) The lyrics in this song perfectly encapsulate how it feels to have the muse back and to be able to create again, while looking toward the future and the bound copy of this first vomit draft that I am currently spewing out for National Novel Writing Month.

Ta DA! I have previously posted about NaNoWriMo, however, a quick refresher: the point is to write a novel, the baseline of which is 50,000 words, during the month of November. You can write an entire story or just the first 50,000 words, but the word count is what matters. You can write 1667 words a day, or 50,000 on November 30th (good luck!), but you have to get it done. The manuscript I’ve been editing for the last 3 years was written during NaNoWriMo 2010. So yes, this is my second attempt and with the muse back I’m killing it. Though it is only November 2nd.

I think that sums “everything and everything else” pretty succinctly. If not, I’ll hopefully write something here tomorrow, as the dates on my posts show I have been an utter failure as maintaining this blog. But “You”, my dear muse, are back and thus, so am I.

Be good to yourselves and each other. All love.

and the lyrics as promised:

“Its alive once again
I feel it pounding in my chest and it hurts like it should
A sharp pain that feels so good
With your arms ‘round my neck leaving me a melting wreck
Now with you by my side I can breathe once again I have nothing to hide

And You – I watched you dancing, you
Out of the ashes, you – dreams of demons kissing in the fire so deeply
You – ya found me hopeless
You – ya gave me solace
You – dying for your kiss I can’t imagine my life without you

Its alive once again
I feel it pounding in my head and it kills all the pain
It’s been powerless vicodin with your hands on my face
Pulling me out of my hiding place with your mouth upon mine
I can breathe once again I do nothing but smile

And you – I watched you dancing
You – out of the ashes, you – dreams of demons kissing in the fire so deeply
You – ya found me hopeless
You – ya gave me solace
you – I’m dying for your kiss I can’t imagine my life without you

Dance with me, dance with me, dance with me
you’re the name of the place where time stands still
Dance with me, dance with me, dance with me
Dismembering this memory its true, I lost myself in you

You – I watched you dancing you
You – out of the ashes
You – Dreams of demons kissing in the fire so deeply
You – ya found me hopeless
You – ya gave me solace
you – I’m dying for your kiss, I can’t imagine my life without you”

Song Inspiration vol. 89 & Writing Exercise

There’s gotta be a story attached to this song. There’s obviously the, well, the obvious, but also I think there’s more than just the top layer. And the chorus is ridiculously epic. See the lyrics underneath the video.

I think I’m having a heart attack
I done do much of what I should of have done
If I could you know I would take it back
Wide awake in a lot of pain
Thinking I might not see the next day and
Hoping that I got it in me to see this through

I say things that I can’t take back,
I torch bridges while I attack and,
Compensate by laying myself out flat,

I just hope I live long enough to be able to see you again,
And I hope I don’t have to suffer the night without you at the end,

I hate every second of the goddamn day,
Give me anything you got I don’t care,
It’s all the same,

I need something to take so I don’t feel any more,
Need something stronger than I’ve done before,
I need it before its too late,
When it hits me I, I didn’t have a choice,
I’m screaming so loud I can’t hear my own voice,
Just make it go away,

And I’ll just focus on trying to breathe [x4]

Feels like I’m having a heart attack,
I’ve done too much of what I shouldn’t have done,
If I could you know I would take it back,

I just hope I live long enough to be able to see you again,
Just enough to be able to see you again,
And I hope I don’t have to suffer the night without you at the end,

Danny & Isabelle vol.6 + Music

Hello, hello, hello. Against Me!’s “Borne On The FM Waves of the Heart” is probably the song that best represents the story of Danny and Isabelle in aural form so that’s why it’s at the top! 🙂

Anyway…after a long summer, involving writing and not writing, I’ve finally finished another draft of my manuscript about Daniel Porter and Isabelle Foster and how they just can’t seem to get together. More on that later, as in much later, as in not in this post.

What is in this post is a list of songs that: 1) I listened to while I was writing. 2) Acted as inspiration for the plot. 3) Are contained, without breaking copyright laws, in the manuscript itself. There’s a ton more than what I’ve included here, but these ones were the essentials. Also after the cut, I posted the 4 other videos for the songs that I think best pertain to the story. Hopefully this is the draft or one of the last drafts I write before I start pitching. To be honest, I’m glad I finished when I did because I needed time away from this story. I can’t read it again! Not for a while at least.

Pilate – “Melt Into The Walls”; The Lowest of the Low – “Rosy and Grey”; Against Me! – “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart”; Smashing Pumpkins – “Landslide”; My Chemical Romance – “Vampire Money”; Snow Patrol – “Open Your Eyes”; Josh Ritter – “To The Dogs or Whoever”; The Avett Brothers – “If It’s the Beaches”; The Weakerthans – “My Favourite Chords; Sleepercar – “Wednesday Nights”; Delta Spirit – “Bushwick Blues”; The Gaslight Anthem – “1930”; Young The Giant – “My Body”; Coldplay – “Us Against The World”; Ray LaMontagne – “Burn”; The Gaslight Anthem – “Howl”; The Gaslight Anthem – “45”; The Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”; The Pogues – “Love You ‘Til the End”; Train – “Hey, Soul Sister”; Train – “Drop of Jupiter”; Train – “Marry Me”
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The Gaslight Anthem & Song Inspiration vol.88 & Writing Exercise

“Handwritten” by The Gaslight Anthem

When I first downloaded this song I listened to it on repeat until I didn’t anymore. It’s safe to say that the boys of the gaslight are my favourite band. Their music oozes emotion, but not in an “emo” way. Their recipe is powerful chords, strong beats and reflective lyrics. “Handwritten” might be their magnum opus, but then again, I could describe every one of their songs that way. At the very least, it’s another great example of how they manage to capture a moment, a feeling or a memory and turn it into an aural event. If this band ever stops making music, I might just stop listening to it all together, because no other group of musicians move me the way that these guys do. Not since The Ataris and Bruce Springsteen, have I been this excited to listen to songs. When I write, its partially my goal to tap into whatever vein these guys opt for, and bleed a little of it all over my pages. I want to inspire and elicit the same emotions in the people that read my words as Gaslight inspire and elicit in me with their songs. It’s that simple.

“Handwritten” Lyrics

Writing Exercise: Write something that includes one character being inspired to act because of the lyric, “I’m in love with the way you’re in love with the night.”

Song Inspiration vol.87 & Writing Exercise

Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”

Writing Exercise: Write a scene or series of scenes, with no dialogue, that involve this song.

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