So, that little magazine project I posted about a few months ago is coming to an end and we’re going out with a bang! In case you’ve forgotten Boiler Magazine is Winnipeg’s first men’s food magazine. Our first issue covers a range of topics from junk food cravings to making moonshine, with a whole lot of feel-good food in between.
Boiler Magazine is holding a launch party on Friday April 4 from 12 – 4 pm at The Roblin Centre (Red River College’s Exchange District campus). We have awesome prizes to give away, an eating contest for some brave bellies, and a ton of delicious free food that you can help us eat!
Our magazine is one of 14 student created magazines being featured at the Creative Communications Magazine Trade Fair (check the Facebook page for more info). There’s a lot of interesting topics being explored if you’re not into guiltlessly celebrating indulgent, delicious food— but stop by our booth and say “Hi” anyways!
I thought I would put some friendly faces to Boiler Magazine’s creative team, and share with you the people I’ve spent more time with in the last 3 months than my own family:
Photo Editor – Eva Wasney (Me)
Copy Editor – Adriana Mingo
Copy Editor – Trevin Thomas
Editor-in-chief – Amy Jean MacLean
Layout Editor – Jordan Welwood
So come by on Friday and see what some very creative people have been working their tails off for, or to eat a bunch of free food. Stay hungry Winnipeg, lunch is on us.
Winnipeg is an interesting city. It’s got multiple personalities that change on a street by street basis, and, for a city of 700,000 people, everyone seems to know each other.
But there’s many invisible dividing lines within Winnipeg’s perimeter. Some lines are fortified by cultural and economic differences, and others are created entirely by perception.
Much of the city North of Portage Avenue is seen as an unsavoury urban oasis by people living outside its boundaries — save for a few slowly gentrifying pockets. This negative perception is reconfirmed in newscast after newscast that only seem to cover the violence and crime that occur in the area.
On Tuesday I saw a play called Sargent & Victor & Me, a one-woman show about a troubled Winnipeg neighbourhood as told by the people who live there. Debbie Patterson, writer and star, wrote the play based on interviews she had with residents of the area, and their interactions with a food bank on the corner of Sargent and Victor Avenue.
Patterson is dealing with multiple sclerosis and at first intended to leave her disease out of the script. Her MS later became the connecting piece between the main character Gillian and the rest of the characters.
What I liked about the play was Patterson’s honest dialogue about MS. During the opening scene she calls out her leg that has stopped working properly and includes the audience as she puts on the leg brace that she wears for the rest of the play. Patterson puts all of her issues on display with Gillian and talks candidly about her frustrations living with an untreatable disease.
I also enjoyed the set because it allowed Patterson to be in motion while she transitioned from character to character. The stage was filled with objects that made the set perfect for her to navigate. At times Patterson was able to hide her limp when playing different characters by sitting on the floor, on a table or in a chair.
Patterson did an amazing job of becoming Theresa, a 15 year old gang member who quickly became my favourite character. Theresa’s unbelievable story was even more compelling because Patterson captured all of her subject’s mannerisms.
Unfortunately what didn’t work was the amount of characters and the lack of definition between most of them. Patterson shoehorned eight characters into the hour and a half long play, with most only differentiated by lighting and vocal inflections. This detracted from the production because it became hard to follow the story lines.
A slightly strange comparison I made while watching the play was with Rick Miller’s MacHomer, a twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth that is played out with characters from The Simpsons. Weird, I know, but it’s the only other one-person play I’ve seen. Miller also has to navigate through many characters but he does so more successfully than Patterson because his characters are established pop culture icons with distinct voices.
That comparison might seem like I’m trivializing Patterson’s play, but it’s just a point of reference. I recognized she had the arduous task of engaging the audience with a list of characters that many people hadn’t encountered before. I know I was surprised by the unintentional racism that came out of one of the older characters in the play. But I appreciate that she didn’t censor any of her subjects.
In my mind Patterson succeeded in creating a play that explored a multifaceted neighbourhood, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had been more focused.
An old geography professor of mine once described exciting places as regions plagued with war, political unrest, and poor quality of life for the people living there. Based on this definition, Canada is decidedly boring.
I started thinking about this privilege after readingA Thousand Farewells, by Winnipeg-born CBC journalist Nahlah Ayed. The book is an account of Ayed’s time spent reporting on conflicts in the Middle East.
For seven years, she followed stories of war, politics, and exodus as they unfolded in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. While the book organized country by country, Ayed’s larger story is about the experiences of people living in the region.
In fact, Ayed includes so many people that it becomes quite the task to try and keep everyone straight. While all of the stories provide important perspective, it would be a smoother read if some of the names were left unsaid, especially when they aren’t followed up on immediately.
As well, It would have been nice to have a map of the region in the back of the book to reference when she begins moving through many borders.
Yet, a striking feature of the book is Ayed’s uncluttered vivid descriptions of her surroundings.
“At the have-not side of the border, men in brown shawls squatted silently just inches shy of the barbed wire. They watched the recognized refugees with envy, barely moving for what seemed like hours in an impressive feat of stillness.”
She effectively calls attention to the small details that reveal what is left unsaid by her interviewees.
Ayed also does a good job of explaining the historical issues that divide people along lines of faith. I admit to not knowing enough about the struggles of the Middle East, and Ayed’s account quashed some misconceptions I had.
Ayed also talks candidly about her anxieties and recognizes the toll constant conflict took on her mental health. Being a student journalist, these comments really resonated with me. Now I’m not comparing my deadlines to a war zone, but it was comforting for a seemingly collected professional journalist to admit the stress of the job.
I also appreciated the way she talked about interviewing and the importance of engaging with your subjects. This is something I leaned very quickly after my first interview. If you go into the situation wanting to hear someone’s story you will often learn more than you expected.
While reading A ThousandFarewells,I was reminded of a documentary I watched years ago called I Know I’m Not Alone, by musician and activist Michael Franti. In the 2005 documentary, Franti travels to the Middle East to investigate the effects of war on the people living in the area — similar to Ayed’s approach.
If you’re planning to, or have already, read A Thousand Farewells I suggest you check out the documentary. It helped me visualize Ayed’s surroundings in the book.
Yesterday, I spent my evening in a gymnasium filled with ceinture flèche’s, hot pea soup and some of the best beards in Winnipeg. I’m, of course, talking about the Festival Du Voyageur’s annual beard competition!
It’s that special time of year when men from all over the city gather in St. Boniface to celebrate their robust facial hair. While the event isn’t particularly glamourous, the competition is pretty stiff (I’m so punny).
This probably has something to do with the amount of testosterone in the room, and the number of Manitoba Facial Hair Club members that enter the contest — the club where the most serious beards hobbyists hang out. Aside from some mean mugging and friendly jabs, the competition is really fantastic to watch, especially if you’re into guys that look like Voyageurs.
For the second year in a row, my handsome boyfriend took home the top prize in the novelty beard category. The novelty beards aren’t necessarily the biggest beards but they are the fanciest thanks to some expert hot ironing and a generous amount of hairspray.
The other categories include a beard race to see who can grow the best beard in two months, the Voyageur or wild and wooly beards, and an open category for those of us who can’t grow magnificent face manes, i.e. women.
The last category is a new addition this year which made for some pretty creative entrants. My favourite was a faux beard equipped with a handle that, when turned, made a canoe full of miniature Voyageurs start rowing!
Now that the beard competition is fully inclusive I think it would be hilarious if I entered next year, but until then I’m proud to call myself Mrs. Beardyman 2014.
It’s official, yesterday I handed in my academic plan – after too much deliberation– and I’ve decided to major in journalism! It seems to be the path less travelled these days thanks to a somewhat bleak future for the printed news. But even in the age of the internet there’s still a need for well written, insightful articles and I would’t mind contributing to that.
Aside from being a respectable, if not insanely stressful, career path, I knew when I started Creative Communications that I wanted to be a journalist. I really like storytelling, and once I got over my trepidations with interviewing people I fell in love with the whole process.
Even though I knew all of this, I was experiencing a huge amount of anxiety leading up to my declaration. I’ve never been good at decisions – choosing a restaurant to eat at or a movie to see can be a painful affair for anyone accompanying me – so deciding what I wanted to do for the rest of my life gave me horrible stress nightmares.
So I took a step back and imagined how I would feel 20 years down the road if I hadn’t done journalism. I would feel pretty guilty. So even if I don’t end up working as a reporter or a news anchor in the future I’m feeling pretty satisfied with my decision and I’m celebrating with a pile of homemade banana pancakes!
I adapted the recipe from here, which makes too many pancakes for one person so I tossed the rest of the mixture in a sandwich bag and put it in the freezer. This way when I’m ready to make pancakes again I can just defrost the bag, snip off one corner of the bag and pipe the batter straight into a skillet, easy peasy.
Fluffy Homemade Pancakes
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour (we use Gold Medal all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (295 ml) milk, whole or 2% reduced fat milk are best
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter and combine it with the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour the wet mixture into it. Stir until there are no more large pockets of flour, but it’s ok if the batter is a little lumpy.
2. Heat a large skillet with coconut oil over medium heat. Pour the pancake batter into the skillet using a ladle or, if you want to be more accurate, a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Flip the pancakes when the bubbles stop popping around the edge of the batter.
3. Serve immediately with syrup or jam and your choice of fruit as a topping.
“If I had a kid I would name it Weather. That way everyone would always be talking about it”
So said a friend of mine the other day. And it couldn’t be more accurate.
As a lifelong Winnipegger I’m constantly astonished by how many people talk about the weather. I’m aware that this city can have some insane weather, especially in the winter (we had thunder snow warnings this week). But it’s so funny that the weather seems to be the jumping off point for so many conversations, superficial and otherwise.
I’ve noticed it the most while I’m waitressing: it’s the easy, go-to, conversation while I’m standing around waiting for the debit machine to finish up.
“Is it still pretty windy out there?”
“Ya it’s crazy, it’s like minus 40.”
“Oh boy, I guess I won’t be walking home today.”
So on and so on. It’s the small talk, but it’s also the day to day experience that connects us all in a city that is so internally proud of its daily wind chill factor. It quickly becomes common ground and is sort of representative of the hardiness that is typical of the prairie experience.
The snow will fall and the wind will blow, but regardless of the conditions outside we will still find ourselves bundling up and waiting for the bus. It’s nice and it’s endearing.
I’ve loved growing up in this city and lately I’ve felt very grounded in Winnipeg. I mean I have two cats, my entire family, all my friends and a love that I would’t dare uproot. Because of this I’ve been struggling to decide my major, which is a very realistic dilemma that I need to relinquish with the week.
My pros and cons list have nothing to do with the weather in Winnipeg and more to do with my indecisiveness. I’ve never been good at making decisions but having to choose a major, based on three months of experience, has proved to be an anxiety inducing task.
When I signed up for Creative Communications I was hell bent on being a journalist. Now, I think it would be nice to make some money. Previously, I wanted nothing more than to travel the world and tell the stories I encountered, now I feel so settled I couldn’t care less.
While I know what I want do in my heart I also know that this city, and all of its’ crazy snowdrifts, will be the place I end up growing old in. I accept you, Winnipeg, minus 50 and all.
The following is a review I wrote on the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – or the annual ad show at the WAG. The show runs from December 6-20 and tickets are $10 each. I submitted this as an assignment for my journalism class and I quite enjoyed the experience, let me know what you think!
The Art of Branding
The lights dim and the small screen in the Winnipeg Art Gallery opens to a dystopian landscape full of half naked men and slick patent leather. Steven Klein’s dark robotic images and amorphous sounds fill the theatre. The scene ends five minutes later with a close up on a bottle of Fame, Lady Gaga’s newest fragrance.
For 60 years, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has used their annual advertising showcase to blur the line between television commercials and high art. Cannes is a public entertainment anomaly that celebrates the advertising that many people eagerly skip over during their favourite TV shows.
Every year Cannes enlists a panel of industry brains and tastemakers to choose the best ads from around the world. Commercials are ranked in gold, silver and bronze categories, and are judged on a whole slew of considerations including craft, creativity and effectiveness. The resulting montage is an exciting mix of North American and international ads, most of which are too racy to be aired during the nightly news.
This year’s selection of 68 commercials was a mixed bag of humour, inspiration, drama and emotion.
The rapid-fire succession of commercials carries the viewer into a new world every minute or so, creating an invigorating rhythm that takes the crowd from manic to sombre within seconds. The quirky antics of the Old Spice muscle man are swiftly followed by a PETA commercial featuring a chimpanzee fingering a revolver in a drab holding cell.
The audience’s emotional response confirms the effectiveness of the world’s top ads. Advertising’s powerful use of psychology is exemplified as the crowd moves through the highs and lows together. After all, a successful ad needs to strike a chord with its viewers immediately; otherwise their fragile attention span is broken.
Every so often a spontaneous buffer, describing an upcoming ad, interrupts the cadence of the show. The ugliness of the pop-up is like a glitch in the matrix – a momentary reminder that the prestige of the Cannes’ award ceremony was left behind in Paris.
Still, the seams of the production are quickly forgotten when a clever DIRECTV campaign takes to the screen. Involuntarily, the crowd is heaving with laughter again.
Thanks to keen craftsmanship and plenty of surprises, a two-hour barrage of commercials can appeal to the gamut of human emotions. It’s undeniable that the show is a celebration of creativity, not consumerism.
Unfortunately, not every advertisement entertains. The evening comes to a close with Intel and Toshiba’s Grand Prix winning campaign, The Beauty Inside. The six part series has a cryptic plot and lasts for 38 painful minutes. The structure of the campaign is so different from the rest of the show that it becomes hard to digest.
While advertising is an everyday nuisance for most, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity offers up a surreal dose of commercial entertainment.
I think like I’ve tried every brand of cleanser, toner, pore minimizer, zit zapper and moisturizer that’s on the market. It’s wasn’t commitment issues so much as lack lustre experiences that kept me flip-flopping. That is, until I found Tiber River Naturals thanks to the recommendation of a lovely friend!
My love affair started with baking soda deodorant (I’m a hippy I know), and quickly moved to lip balm and face wash. All of their products are handmade from natural ingredients and Tiber River is a locally owned and operated business. The storefronts, on Academy and Kenaston, are part spa and part beauty product boutique.
What caught my attention was the prime ingredients such as pomegranate, lavender and olive oil that are infused into a wide variety of products. The scents in all of the products are pleasantly muted which isn’t often the case with natural products (the headache inducing aroma of Lush comes to mind). And this is a plus: every product I’ve used from Tiber River has lasted longer than anything I’ve bought at a drugstore, making the pricier products a better bang for your buck.
Oh and gents it’s not all perfume and pretty things, Tiber River has a substantial men’s section too! Your beards and mo’staches will smell like roses (ladies, you’re welcome)!
So I had a really yummy time writing a story about a new local burger spot for the Projector (Red River College’s student newspaper). You can read about it here, and let me know what you think! If you like burgers and like locally produced, ethical food then I suggest you check it out!
Winnipeg’s third annual Nuit Blanche celebration lit up parts of downtown this past weekend. The all night party started in France in 1984 and has since spread across the globe as a celebration of contemporary art.
As usual, the Winnipeg Art Gallery was a hub for most partygoers, with a steady stream of people wandering through the gallery from 6 pm to 6 am. Unfortunately, rain all day Saturday made the WAG’s rooftop venue was less appealing than in years past.
Inside, a DJ was playing on the third floor, while a contemporary dance performance happened in one of the galleries, and the main foyer was filled with a projected light installation. Exploring the galleries with a drink in my hand was pretty magical.
My friends and I stopped in at Stella’s momentarily but the place was overflowing, so we turned our attention to the Exchange District. The short walk down Portage Avenue led us Old Market Square, which was sparsely populated, again because of the crummy weather.
There was however, a line-up of hungry art enthusiasts spilling out of Smoke’s Poutinerie. Famished from our walk, we joined the line and waited patiently for our bacon cheeseburger poutine.
While we were enjoying our gooey mess of fries a police officer came up to us and asked if a beer can on the table next to us was ours. It wasn’t, and we watched as the officers approached a handful of others who were enjoying an installation in The Cube. I know a public event is not a free for all, but it was strange to see them harassing the 20 people that were wandering about.
We didn’t end up partying all night but Nuit Blanche is a nice opportunity to get Winnipeggers out enjoying art. The fact that it’s free makes it all the more appealing to us cheapskates.