City council – Sept. 24

September 26, 2012 at 8:53 am (Entertainment, News, Politics) (, )

I’m a day late in recapping this week’s meeting … not going to lie, I kind of forgot I had this thing. There’s just too many other things going on lately, though sadly, none of them involve me keeping up my running schedule in any way.

So here’s what went down at Monday’s council gathering:

  • They were told the provincial government won’t allow a joint city-counties initiative to put up signs with their total population count. Council didn’t take it without a fight; they’re talking about erecting giant billboards along the highway anyway, just not on government property.
  • The 2013 budget process was officially kicked off. Council directed staff to start preparing their submissions, with increases of no more than 3%. With fewer dollars from the province and less revenue than expected, it’s going to be an extremely challenging year for the budget steering committee … which will now include all councillors. I can see the merit in having everyone involved in the discussions, but I’m also not excited about how much longer the process is going to take this year with double the number of opinions.
  • A travel information centre on Brookdale Avenue was shuttered earlier this year, so Cornwall is looking into buying the property. They haven’t been given a price on it yet but councillors were already throwing out ideas like making it a new tourism bureau or transit depot.
  • The Eastern Ontario Regional Network will have help from the city after all. Though council shot down a request for financial support last fall, a new report from their senior development officer convinced them to get on board.
  • Council also discussed the pros and cons of a dedicated staff person to help with event coordination. They asked staff to report on the feasibility and necessity of such a position, which would support all the volunteer organizations that put on activities throughout the year.

There’s been some cool developments in my other “beat”: arts and entertainment. At a culture summit on Saturday, a 13-member arts council was voted into existence. Though a formal mandate and strategy for the group is yet to be determined, it’s exciting to see progress being made on the arts front.

It has caused a year-old culture committee to take a closer look at its own purposes, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There is probably room for both, as long as they keep lines of communication open and don’t end up trying to accomplish the same goals.

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CrewCam

July 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm (Entertainment, Random)

My brother is super smart.

He developed an app (along with a few other people) that was recently approved for the iTunes store. It’s pretty brilliant actually – and I’m not just saying that.

The app allows users to share videos with specific groups with just a couple of clicks. So now, instead of posting clips of your dad making silly faces on your Facebook wall, where only two people are going to care, you can post it to your family group on CrewCam. That’s just one example. I’m part of crews for my church, my city, my relatives and select collections of friends. It’s a great way to communicate – and a far more compelling method of sharing stories and experiences than simply texting.

You should all go check it out. It’s already been named one of the top photo/video apps in Canada. It’s pretty much the next Instagram, which means it’s going places and you need to get on board.

Here’s a link to download the app, and here’s links to the Facebook and Twitter pages, which you should definitely check out to get updates on the awesomeness.

Ryan, you’re my hero. Remember me when you’re rich and famous, k?

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Sunshine and the NDP

March 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm (Entertainment, News, Politics) (, , , , )

  • It’s the first day of spring. My favourite season. Yet, it already feels like summer out there, with temperatures expected to hit 25C today. I’m not complaining, and neither are my flip-flop-happy feet.
  • I have a lot of good things to say about Cornwall, but it’s hard to find a lot of positives in a new ranking of 190 cities released today. Cornwall fell to 167th place, with its crime rate, unemployment, low income and lack of doctors. It’s a far cry from being solidly in the middle last year. However, a city official says the survey accounted for a 12% unemployment rate, a number higher than the current reality.
  • The Hunger Games opens this weekend. I’m ridiculously excited. I’m not at all a bandwagon jumper when it comes to books or movies (I’ve only ever seen one Harry Potter film and none of Twilight), but I’m happy to say I read this entire trilogy before it ever became an international bestseller. Most of the reviews I’ve read of early screenings of the first feature note that it stays true to the printed version, which is very good news.
  • The NDP held on to the riding of Toronto-Danforth in a by-election yesterday. It’s no surprise, given the enormous popularity of the previous representative: the late NDP leader Jack Layton. Craig Scott is the newest MP, taking 60% of the vote and bringing the Official Opposition’s seat count to 102.
    The party is heading into a convention this weekend, where members will vote for a new leader to take over for Layton. Candidates are Paul Dewar, Brian Topp, Thomas Muclair, Peggy Nash, Nikki Ashton, Martin Singh and Nathan Cullen. Any predictions? Leave ’em in the comment box below.

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like …

November 28, 2011 at 10:04 am (Entertainment, Random) ()

… Christmas, of course.

Generally it’s into December before I even begin to consider planning to think about possibly starting my Christmas shopping. Decorations don’t go up any earlier than the first of the month, and the most holiday-themed activities I’m involved in before then are scheduling a family dinner. It’s not that I don’t enjoy all of the festivities, I’m just not the type of person to jump on the frenzied bandwagon of shopping, baking and putting up garlands.

This year is a little different.

Dear Santa at the Upper Canada Playhouse

On Saturday, I took my Little Sister to the Upper Canada Playhouse‘s production of Dear Santa. It was a fabulous play – I’m certain the Playhouse is incapable of doing any less. My favourite character was Richard Bauer as the bumbling foreman. It was cheery, hilarious and of course, topped off with some rambunctious Christmas songs. I walked out of the theatre fully expecting to see flakes falling to maintain the mood … but no such luck.

I purchased some new seasonal tunes this year, including David Crowder Band‘s take on some traditional songs. I also bought an original called Hope Has Come, co-written by a very good friend of mine and released on Generation Unleashed‘s Christmas album with the same name. You should look it up on iTunes – it’s pretty fantastic. (You rock, Tash!)

On Sunday, my family set up their Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure it’s the earliest it’s ever been erected, but hey, everyone was around. It looks pretty great, though I was shouted down when I suggested tinsel was outdated.

Yesterday evening I went to the tenth and final reading of A Christmas Carol, an event that has raised thousands for local charities in the last decade. A group of fantastic musicians and singers performed in between the readings, making it an all-around enjoyable evening. Again though, it was a disappointment to step outside the doors and feel like I should have been wearing sandals.

Still on my to-do list for the next couple of weeks: visit Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village, construct a gingerbread house, make ornaments, and help decorate my church. Oh, and I’m hoping to start my Christmas gift-buying process this afternoon. It’s like a whole new me …

But seriously, where’s the snow? There is no way I can fully embrace the Christmas spirit until the world turns white.

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U2, check

July 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm (Entertainment, Photos, To do before I die) ()

32. See U2 in concert

Wow. There are not enough adjectives to describe the display I saw last night at Montreal’s Hippodrome. It wasn’t just a concert, it was a full-out production of light, sound, and images.

It takes three days to set up this thing.

I went to the U2 show with my brother, sister and brother-in-law. We arrived around 4 p.m., a little intimidated by the massive amounts of people ahead of us, but we managed to stake out a spot only about five feet from the fence.

Ryan, Chris, Lisa and I ... and thousands of other people

It was crazy to see 75,000 people gather to hear four guys play music. We waited hours before they made an appearance … our feet were sore, we were drenched in a rainstorm after, we didn’t get home until 2 a.m. And it was all completely worth it. I have a couple video clips, though I apologize for the audio quality. No photos or film could capture that experience anyway …

Rocking out ...

My favourite song was Beautiful Day, mostly because it was introduced by Mark Kelly … from the International Space Station. He recorded a greeting during his recent mission on the Endeavour, then put cut-out words into the air that finished with “It’s a beautiful day.” He also recited some of the lyrics as Bono sang them out. It was so neat, especially for me because I followed that mission so closely. It was many additions to the set list that encouraged global citizenship and social justice.

Bono

There was always something going on … if it wasn’t music, it was images on the giant screen, lights and smoke, or moving stage pieces. City of Blinding Lights showcased it all to the max.

I only have a few complaints: the band didn’t play Magnificent, the security guy tossed my aluminum water bottle without so much as an explanation, and the dude beside me kept smoking pot … not cool, man.

But seriously, it was an incredible show and overall experience – one I’m thrilled to be able to check off my life to-do list. And with that, I’ve officially completed a quarter of the 100 items on that bucket list.

Bono on the big screen ... and me. My voice was shot the next day from all the screaming I did ...

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Concert season

May 10, 2011 at 11:21 am (Entertainment)

This is a year for great shows.

In the last several months, I had the chance to see David Crowder Band and Steven Curtis Chapman – two of my all-time favourites in Christian music – live in concert. Both were fantastic.

Next Friday, I not only have a free pass into Gordon Lightfoot’s concert here in Cornwall, but I also have permission to shoot the performance. I’m pretty excited to experience the music of my parents’ generation. Not going to lie, I think my mom is a little jealous.

There are three big shows happening in the region this year that I am absolutely stoked about.

  • First of all, I have tickets to see U2 in Montreal on July 8 – one more thing I can cross off my life to-do list. I have wanted to see them live for years … I love pretty much everything they’ve ever put out.
  • Around that same time, Ottawa’s annual Bluesfest kicks off. I’m not sure who I’m going to be able to catch in between work and other stuff, but I am determined to see Death Cab for Cutie on the final night of the festival.
  • Then, in October, one of my current favourites will be in the capital: Kings of Leon. I’ve already snagged tickets to go to the concert with two of my best friends. My expectations are high.

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The Crazies

March 2, 2011 at 11:31 am (Entertainment, News, Rants) (, , , )

There’s a whole lot of crazy people in the world. There are three that have been in the news especially as of late.

  • Muammar Gaddafi. As his people protest his dictatorship and call for reform, the Libyan leader blames his problems on al-Qaeda and thinks the revolters are stoned. His incoherent ravings prove to me that he has lost it. Maybe it’s the new pressures from his population that have pushed him over the edge, or maybe he’s always been a little out of it. Either way, he’s definitely crazy. And he needs to resign. He needs to get out of the way so his country can back away from the edge of civil war and move towards democracy.
    Related note: it is super irritating that nearly every media outlet has decided to spell his name a different way: Qathafi, Gadhafi, Khadafi, etc. There must be a right way, right?
  • Charlie Sheen. I don’t usually wade into entertainment news, but this guy is quite the exception. All those years of substance abuse has definitely messed up his brain. I don’t understand the fans who are more devoted than ever, to a guy who brags about his porn star friends and asks for a raise after insulting his boss. Yeah, what a role model. I’m glad CBS finally suspended down his TV series – no matter how popular it is, there’s a point where having that kind of actor on your set is no longer an asset. I’m not saying I think he’s a terrible person, I just think his judgement has been seriously clouded; his rants are pretty clear proof. I assume those cocaine binges had something to do with it.
    Related note: I love his dad, Martin Sheen. He was the best president the U.S. never had.
  • Julian Assange. I’m not putting the WikiLeaks founder in the same category as either Gaddafi or Sheen. But the other day he ranted that the blame for his troubles lies on the shoulders of Jewish journalists. This isn’t to say he’s lost it, but he has some pretty serious issues he needs to deal with. For one thing, he thinks he’s a journalist himself – not so. He needs to face justice, whether or not he’s guilty of sexual assault in Sweden as accused. I would actually have some respect for him if he stopped playing the victim in everything that has happened … it’s just not attractive, Julian.

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Cornwall, part 1

January 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm (Entertainment) ()

Today I’m kicking off a series on this rather fabulous city* that I live in. I’ve blogged about this before, but I’m going to reiterate my frustration with the residents who are constantly finding the negative aspects rather than accepting the positives. I’m going to focus on those positives.

Just as a disclaimer, I don’t think Cornwall has it all, and I don’t for a moment regret leaving it to attend school and experience more of the world. There are pieces of my heart all over the place, but even so, it’s good to be back.

I’m going to begin with the arts.

Jimmy Rankin performs at Aultsville Theatre.

I was officially given the arts and entertainment beat for the Standard-Freeholder, which immediately developed somewhat of a bias on behalf of all of the incredible talent I met, heard, saw. I’ve shot a music festival, checked out an arts open house, talked with dozens of musicians, watched locally-made films, interviewed several big names, been impressed by the pros at the Playhouse, and done some photography on the side for Aultsville Theatre. So many people that have been featured in my stories have expressed sincere gratitude for the exposure; a number of sources have thanked me profusely for the coverage. So yeah, I rather love my corner of the newspaper.

There is so much talent here. And not just that, but passion and cooperation. I’ve been very impressed with the lack of competition – not that musicians aren’t serious about getting ahead, but they love what they do regardless and are willing to work with others. It’s not just musicians too; so many artists are investing back into the industry and collaborating with other artists of their genre. It’s very encouraging.

But of course there are some of the opposite persuasion. Performers like John McDermott and Gordon Lightfoot book concerts in the city, but instead of dishing out the cash and supporting the industry, people complain that no one they like ever gets off the highway here. There are a few that have their own agendas for the arts and culture community instead of encouraging joint initiatives and municipal efforts.

I’m thankful they are not the majority.

* Though my focus is Cornwall, often my opinions include Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry as well.

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The fabulous life of Cheryl

November 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm (Entertainment, News, Politics, Random)

I have been seriously lazy in my blogging lately, and I apologize. I don’t really have a good excuse, either … except …

  • I am still busy with photo editing. If you’re not yet a fan of my Facebook photography page, you should get on that! I’m slowly trying to build my love of photography into some sort of business on the side. I was talking to a potential client the other day and she asked me for prices … which I hadn’t even really thought about before. So I’m working on that. Spread the word: Cheryl wants to take your picture!
  • I have renewed my deep and abiding love for Kings of Leon with the purchase of their newest album. Go check it out!
  • I follow the news like a madwoman, and read with interest the controversy over Saskatewan’s Potash, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell resigning, the midterm elections in the U.S., etc, etc.
  • I’m working hard covering things like police hearings, tons of arts and entertainment events, court, Mohawk issues and oh, so much more. There’s very few dull days in the newsroom.

And there you have it folks. My life in a nutshell. The end.

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Lord of the Rings, check

July 30, 2010 at 10:01 am (Entertainment, To do before I die)

52. Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy right after each other

I crossed this one off my life to-do list yesterday. The day was probably one of my most lazy days ever, but hey, I start work next week so I figured it was a good enough excuse to sit back and tackle this one.

I’ve actually never watched the extended versions of the trilogy before. I didn’t have The Two Towers extended, but it was cool to watch the extra scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King. I started the first film around 9 a.m., and finished the last one fifteen minutes before midnight. I did some other activities in between each one so I didn’t turn into a complete vegetable, but I completed them all in a day.

So call me a huge geek or whatever, but I absolutely adore this trilogy. It’s beyond epic, especially watched in such a short time period. Stories like this one remind us all that we are living in a story that is bigger than us. We are part of something – it might not be as tangible as orcs vs. elves or anything, but we are part of a world of good vs. evil.

“All we have to decide is what we are going to do with the times that are given to us.” – Gandalf

Our lives are meant to be lived for something more than our own small-minded objectives and preferences. That is why these movies make us cry (or is that just me?), why the hero’s rallying call inexplicably stirs our hearts.

“If this is to be their end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance.” – King Theoden

Sometimes we need to be rallied; we need to be reminded. We are stuck in the small things; we are afraid of humiliation and rejection. We forget we are one in billions, yet created with a purpose unique from all others. We are part of a huge story, yet one that we must play a role in.

“Even the smallest of us can change the course of the future.” – Galadrial

Oh, and Sam is most definitely my number one favourite character.

“It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.” – Sam
“And what are we holding on to, Sam?” – Frodo
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” – Sam

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