Category Archives: Canadian Celebrities

Yoga Hosers: Mr. Smith Goes to Canada.

yogahosers-harleyquinnsmith-lilyrosedepp Here’s a favour to everyone. Watch this trailer and feel like you’ve now seen it without having to endure the entire film. This diaper load from writer-director Kevin Smith might be less offensive than Argo because it doesn’t spoof Canadian heroes, just hosers, but that’s not saying much. Like many films of the deep dark past when white actors played non-white characters, this one pours the American-style beet-sugar, fake maple syrup all over it’s cinematic trojan horse.

Years ago, it was very common for actors like Christopher Lee to play Fu Manchu or Laurence Olivier to play Othello in black-face but there are Canadian actors all over the place! Hollywood is filthy with them, not to mention Canada, where you filmed this. Under closer scrutiny CCT found that not only are the leads not Canadian, there isn’t one Canadian in the cast – not one. What?

cct-mickeyrooneybatThe two young stars unknowingly I’m sure, play roles that nod to the historic racism of Hollywood. Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith is to Yoga Hosers what Mickey Rooney was to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and for Lily-Rose, I’ll dig into the distant familial past to her father Johnny Depp’s horrific portrayal of Lone Ranger’s partner, Tonto. Lily-Rose Depp’s role as a hapless Canadian teen at least hasn’t completely deconstructed a beloved icon.

the-lone-ranger-johnny-depp-armie-hammerCome on, Mr. Smith, no one needs your Canadian Trilogy. Canadians are masters of comedy and need to be revered as such. This film is too absurd to explain and a viewing of the trailer should be enough.

Posted in Aboriginal, Business, Canadian Celebrities, Entertainment, Manitoba, Movies, Pop Culture, Television | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Star-Spangled Banner, eh?

CCT-AttackFortMcHenry

It might seem like a strange subject for Canadian Culture Thing but the Star-Spangled Banner has deep Canadian roots and could have never been written if not for the villain of its story – Canada.

After dishing out some payback for declaring war on Canada, by torching the White House and other government buildings in Washington, Major General Robert Ross and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane set out to add insult to injury in the War of 1812 by going after Baltimore. Baltimore was a busy port and was thought by the British to harbour American privateers, government-sanctioned terrorists, who were raiding their ships.

The Burning of Washington 1814
The Burning of Washington 1814

The plan was for Major General Robert Ross to launch a land attack at North Point and for Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane to lay down a thrashing to Fort McHenry at Baltimore Harbour. When Ross arrived, he was greeted by 3,000 American soldiers sent to duke it out as a planned distraction while the Americans made fortifications. Ross was killed by a sniper during the battle and replaced by the less competent Colonel Arthur Brooke. The Americans retreated.

The next day, Brooke was surprised to find that he faced 12,000 troops dug in behind substantial earthworks east of the city. Under orders not to attack unless there was a high chance of success, Brooke poked around and found no discernible weaknesses in the line of defence so he sat back and waited to see the result of Cochrane’s attack of Fort McHenry.

On September 13, a bombardment began on Fort McHenry. Nineteen British ships began pounding Fort McHenry with Congreve Rockets from rocket vessel HMS Erebus and mortar shells from bomb vessels Terror, Volcano, Meteor, Devastation and Aetna (the Deadpool and Rocket Robin Hood were late getting to the fight). After the initial exchange of fire, the Canadians withdrew beyond range of Fort McHenry’s cannons and continued to blast the Americans for another 27 hours.

As night fell, Cochrane sent out a landing party in small boats to the west of the fort, distracting the centrally concentrated defence for a half hour or so, affording the British a little time to blast them some more. After the 27-hour bombardment, Cochrane figured drawing the battle out might be too costly and decided to pack it in.

Brooke’s orders were clear that they weren’t to attack the American positions around Baltimore unless they were certain that there were less than 2,000 soldiers in the fort. Because of his orders and the loss of naval support, Brooke was forced to return to the fleet as they prepared to attack New Orleans.

Early manuscript of the Defence of Fort McHenry by
Early manuscript of the Defence of Fort McHenry/Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

During the assault an American lawyer (and amateur poet), Francis Scott Key was appealing to the British for the release of his friend Dr. William Beanes, a prisoner from the Washington wedgie. The British agreed to Beanes’ release but he and Francis Scott Key would have to remain on the British truce ship until the end of the siege as they had heard information that could be used against the British forces in the hands of the Americans.

On the morning of September 14, 1814, the Americans took down the tattered and scorched storm flag at Fort McHenry and replaced it with a ginormous 9.1m x 12.8m (30’ x 42’) American Super-Flag! The flag had been made a year earlier by local flag-maker Mary Pickergill and her 13-year-old daughter. As the sun rose, Francis Scott Key could see the flag from the truce ship on the Patapsco River, some say it could even be seen from the moon. Feeling all warm and gushy inside, Key began jotting down verses on the back of a letter he was carrying and the rest is anthem-history.

Cover of the Star Spangled Banner sheet music
Cover of the Star Spangled Banner sheet music
CCT-SSBMusic
Sheet music for the Star Spangled Banner

Star-Spangled Banner

O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Some historians have mistakenly assumed that the raising of the big flag was to taunt the Canadians with a “Look! You missed this giant flag! What were you aiming at anyway?” but the Fort customarily raised this flag every morning along with reveille.

CCT-Fort_McHenry_flag
The Ginormous Fort McHenry Super-Flag photographed in 1873

Ironically, Francis Scott Key’s poem, “the Defence of Fort McHenry” was set to the tune of a British song called “To Anacreon in Heaven” written by John Stafford Smith as the official song of the Anacreonic Society, an 18th-century gentleman’s club of amateur London musicians. Eventually becoming known as “the Star-Spangled Banner”, the American Congress made it the official national anthem of the United States in 1931.

While we all listen to this anthem at sporting events, it seems that no one knows that it was Canada’s rockets flaring red and Canada’s bombs bursting in the air. No one seems to know that the villain of the Star-Spangled Banner was in fact Canada. Though we were painted as the villain, we were merely responding offensively to a declaration of war from the United States. It’s kind of like when you come to the realisation that the poor, victimized Goldilocks has actually burglarized and vandalized the Bears’ home while they were out for a walk.

And now…

Celine Dion sings the American and Canadian national anthems prior to the start of the Montreal Expos’ home opener versus the Philadelphia Phillies on April 13, 1984. Celine was just two weeks past her sixteenth birthday. That’s right, we inspired an awesome anthem but we’ve got Celine Dion. (Sorry for the static).


Oh, by the way the Expos beat the Phillies 5-1.

Pete Rose had been having a bad year and spent most of his time sitting on the Phillies bench. He was eventually granted an unconditional release from the Phillies in late October 1983. Phillies management wanted to retain Rose for the 1984 season, but he refused to accept a more limited playing role. Months later, he signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Expos. On April 13, 1984, the 21st anniversary of his first career hit, Rose doubled off the Phillies’ Jerry Koosman for his 4,000th career hit, becoming the second player in the 4000 hit club (joining Ty Cobb).

Again, Canada seems to be the inspiration for some great American thing.

Posted in Canada, Canadian Celebrities, Historical, Politics, Pop Culture, Ships | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Superman the SuperCanuck!

Joe Shuster was a Canadian comic book artist who co-created Superman for DC Comics, with writer Jerry Siegel. Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938 and then made his second appearance in Superman #1.

Action cover 1

 

Joe Shuster

Think of just how Canadian Superman is.

  • He immigrated to Earth and was welcomed.
  • His alter-ego is very polite.
  • Metropolis is Metropolitan Toronto.
  • He works at the Daily Planet which is the Daily Star (Today the Toronto Star).
  • His girlfriend is a Female star reporter which would be far more likely in Canada in the 1930’s who was considerably more progressive.
  • Also, Superman’s weakness for the Kryptonite is similar to Margaret Trudeau’s weakness for Rolling Stones.

47-siegel-shuster

superman1_afterfront

joe-shuster, comic table

Superman-Jerry-Siegel-and-Joe-Shuster-4

margaret_trudeau_mick_jagger

 

Posted in Canada, Canadian Celebrities, Canadian Literature, Canadiana, Historical, Television | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Canadian Play Interview with a Demon Opening in Toronto!

No, it’s not another play about Stephen Harper, Ha! Too soon?

Interview with a Demon Banner

Seriously, the world premiere of Interview with a Demon is opening in Toronto.

Demons are people too. At least, they used to be. INTERVIEW WITH A DEMON puts one such diabolical eyewitness on the Hot Seat to explore what really happens in the afterlife.

Bradley Gibb has it all. A beautiful wife, a palatial home in the suburbs and a great job hosting the most popular talk show on television – The Hot Seat With Bradley Gibb. Then, one day, all hell breaks loose – his wife is unexpectedly possessed by a Demon and it looks like he might lose her altogether. Bradley ties her up to wait for the priest when it occurs to him that filming an actual exorcism for The Hot Seat would make for bombshell ratings. But when the exorcist shows up and the demon offers them an exclusive on-camera, no-holds-barred interview, the stakes go through the roof.

Written by Toronto filmmaker and theatre producer Mark Terry, this irreverent comedy will make you rethink everything you ever took as gospel truth (literally or metaphorically!)

Directed by horror-comedy specialist — and Artistic Director of the Beech Street Theatre Company — Michael Khashmanian (Serum for Murder, Franken’s Hyde), Interview with a Demon may play havoc with people’s understanding of Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, life and death – once they stop laughing, that is. “It’s a fascinating and very funny script,” said Khashmanian. “It may challenge your entire belief system.”

The production stars Ryan Graham (The Architect, The Assassins Tale) as ambitious and opportunistic TV personality Bradley Gibb. His wife and The Hot Seat director, Boodle, is played by Vicktoria Adam (Hair, The Nightmare Before Christmas). The Hot Seat’s hapless cameraman Pat Lor is played by Alex Clay (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) while exorcist Father Francis Flanagan is played by John Fitzgerald (The Long Weekend, The Odd Couple).

Special Guest and Canadian comedy legend Seán Cullen voices the Producer of The Hot Seat, the all-powerful ‘Tom’. Cullen (Murdoch Mysteries, The Producers and Corky and the Juice Pigs) is a multi-talented performer, a triple Gemini and Canadian Comedy Award winner, a Dora nominee, and an award-winning author.

B.SMART Producers Abigail Pinto Correia and Boyan Stergulc discovered the script in Cannes, France during the 2014 MIPCOM television market and immediately optioned its film rights. They are producing this stage version as part of its journey towards becoming a full feature film. “The play is hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time,” said Pinto Correia. “Intelligent comedies are hard to come by.”

Playwright Mark Terry is perhaps best known as an environmental documentary filmmaker (The Polar Explorer), but has returned to his theatre roots with this inter-dimensional exposé of the hereafter.

The Alumnae Theatre Mainspace
70 Berkeley St, Toronto
Preview Tuesday Nov 10 7:30pm
Show Opens November 11 – November 15 7:30
Matinee performance Sunday Nov 15 at 3:00pm

Tickets:
Tickets available at Valhalla Cards 791 Queen Street West, Toronto (416) 203-6328
$25 each, Preview Night $15 each.

Tickets are also available at www.eventjoy.com/e/interview-with-a-demon and at the door.

Follow Interview with a Demon
Twitter @TheDemonTalks
Facebook Interview with a Demon
Instagram Interview with a Demon

Follow Valhalla Cards
Twitter @ValhallaCards
Facebook Valhalla Cards and Gifts

Posted in Canadian Celebrities, Entertainment, Theatre | Tagged | Leave a comment