Another Year, Another Yen

Has it really been almost fourteen months since I posted a blog entry on this website? Could it really have been more than a year since I’ve had a spoken-word event to plug? That seems to be the case. But I didn’t do much in the poetry or lit scenes in 2016. There might have been a mini-feature at Jammin’ on the One somewhere along the way, but I didn’t feel like promoting it. There were a couple of open mics I did in New York back in June. That’s about it. Nothing to write home about. Or from home, on a website. Whatever floats your bag of wax.

2016 was a crappy year for a lot of people, and I’m no exception, but I’d rather not go into the details. Suffice it to say that a year ago, I had a spacious high-rise apartment, a steady freelance income in addition to my day job, and a healthy savings account. Now I have none of those things (except the day job, thankfully) and, for all I know, maybe never will again. There are a lot of people much worse off, sure, and we’ll all have a lot to fear when an air-headed reality-show billionaire with no political experience becomes leader of the free world in less than two weeks. But suckage comes on many levels, doesn’t it?
As a Caucasian heterosexual male, I am constantly told that I am one of the luckiest and most privileged individuals in the history of the human race. And I guess I’m in no real position to dispute that. But when I take a look around my cramped basement apartment, while worrying about how long I can keep my financial situation stable, and thinking about all the people who’ve deceived or betrayed or manipulated or taken advantage of me, sometimes I can’t help thinking: if this is privilege, I ain’t doing it right.

Anyway. Never mind all that.
I have two gigs this month. And I’m out of practice in performance, and I haven’t even written any new material in more than a year. But they should be fun.

This Tuesday, I have a feature at the Art Bar.
You thought the Art Bar was dead, did you? No siree Roberto. It was in the ICU for a while, but it rose from the ashes like Lazarus to mix metaphors like a Colossus. Now it’s at the Free Times Cafe, without the government funding, but still determined to be the best Art Bar that ever Art Barred. Lucy Brennan and Marc di Saverio will be the other features, and you can win $20 as the best open-mic performer.

Later on, I’ll be helping JOTO host Damon Lum celebrate his birthday in a show at the historic Arts and Letters Club, where they say the Group of Seven used to paint. (Ernest Hemingway briefly was a club member there in the 1920s, but the cheap bastard never paid his dues. And was never heard from again.)
Tessa Stone, Pelayo Matute and other friends will be performing as well. I am crossing my fingers for free chips and pretzels.

Happy New Year. More imaginative posts to come later on. Don’t wig your gig.

Get Hot for Project HOTS

The Horseshoe Tavern is an iconic Toronto venue that has hosted performances by musical acts ranging from the Rolling Stones, The Police, The Talking Heads and The Ramones to Bryan Adams, The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo. Or so Wikipedia tells me.

And now… I’m about to add my name to that illustrious list.

Because I’m doing a short (ten minutes) set next week at the Horseshoe, as part of Project HOTS – a fundraiser show to raise money to buy food and winter gear for Toronto’s homeless population this winter.

The show also features Cynthia Gould (of High Heels Lo Fi fame, performing a solo set), Lizzie Violet, Heather Babcock, Cate McKim, Kat Leonard, SuperTash and a whole whack of other local poets and musicians.

Come out and support a good cause.

If you don’t come, I’m just going to have to assume that you don’t like the homeless. No, just kidding. But do come. Details on the right sidebar here. And here’s the Facebook event page.

*****

It’s too late to go out for Halloween, but it’s not too late to read my most recent Toronto.com article, “Haunted Places in Ontario”. It’s actually an update of Craig Clark’s listsicle from last year – I just added a lot of other spooky places across the province. Read it… alone, late at night.
Also, look out for an upcoming piece by me about places to go in Toronto over the holiday season.

And check out recent reviews I’ve done for Digital Journal. My pan of the Full House musical received more than five thousand hits, which wouldn’t be much for the Toronto Star or New York Times website, but it’s a lot for me. I also wrote about Kim Novak’s appearance at TIFF.

Bye.

Waiter, waiter, there’s soup in my fly

Hey squirt.

Two features coming up later this month… but first things first.

First of the firsts:
Did you catch this swell review of my CD, This Album Is NIT FENNY! on Cate McKim’s arts blog, Life with More Cowbell? If you haven’t, well, there it is.

Second of the firsts:
Summer is the best time for cruising. No, I’m not talking about the notorious 1980 movie. I mean literal boat cruises. I wrote an article on those for Toronto.com, and you can peruse said article at this link.

Second of the second of the firsts:
I also wrote a handful of reviews for Digital Journal in July. There’s one of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, two of this year’s Shakespeare in High Park productions and one about a book about the making of an unfinished Orson Welles film. You can catch those ones right here.

By the way, the Watchman review got reprinted on Business Insider. Don’t believe me? Check it out here.
Also, the Welles article has five hundred and sixty-one “likes”. Which is all the more impressive, considering that only three hundred and seventeen people have actually read it. Methinks people have been liking posts of the piece on Facebook without actually clicking on the link. (I don’t know what you thinks…)

And now. On with the shows, this is it…

Later this month, I’m doing a gig in Richmond Hill with Valentino Assenza, Anto Man-Ming Chan, Pat Connors and someone or something known as Glowie. Plus there’s an open mic. It’s at a bar called Yogi’s. I don’t know yet if they serve pickanick baskets. Or catcher’s mitts.

A week after that, I’m doing Lizzie Violet‘s monthly series at Hirut Restaurant in Toronto’s east end. Also taking the stage are Philip Cairns, Arlene Paculan and Anastace Krieger. No open mic this time. But lots of great Ethiopian food and a friendly atmosphere.

Wanna go to one of these? More deets on the right sidebar.

Happy Simcoe Day! I’ve been practising my Simcoe carols. You?

Video shilled the spoken-word star

Did you miss me?

Oh.

Well, I’m back anyway. And with a few new videos.

See, I’ve been a little concerned that I don’t have a lot of performance videos of me on the YouTubes and whatnot. But about six weeks ago, I featured in a well-regarded spoken-word series in Salford, England (it’s a suburb of Manchester – the one where Coronation Street is set, more or less) called Evidently, and they film everybody. And they make it look kind of professional, with titles and stuff.

So now there are new videos of me online performing “How to Write and Perform a Slam Poem”, “Border Crossing”, “Pitches” and “Politics”:

I posted only the former two here, because “Pitches” didn’t get much of a reaction at the show, and because I messed up one line in “Politics”.
But if you just can’t make it through the day without seeing a video of me performing “Politics”, well, weep no more! Because this one was taken at my CD launch party in April:

Look – somebody even “liked” this one! They clicked on the thumbs-up and everything.

*****

I didn’t win the KRW Award.
But you know something? Stanley Kubrick never won a competitive Academy Award, did he? So I am still the Kubrick of Canadian trade magazines.

Yup.

I’ve got several gigs coming up, most of which are months away. But I’m doing a short set at Outrageous tonight in Kensington Market, if you’re keen for that.
I’m also doing a feature set in less than two weeks at Jammin’ on the One, or JOTO, along with my friends at Kirsten Sandwich. And there’s an open short-form improv jam, so wake up your inner Colin Mochrie and get your game on, honeyboy.

I’ve published a few new articles on Toronto.com since we spoke last – on hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking. Very summer-themed. You can also read my coverage of last Monday’s Dora Awards… if you dare.

Now – go, my son.

Say, mac, what’s the scoop, see?

I bet you didn’t know that they give out awards for trade magazines.

Apparently they do. At least in Canada.
The KRW Awards for business-to-business publishing has been around for more than sixty years, in fact.

And I’m nominated for one this year.

No, seriously. I am.

Really.

My article “Off the Rails”, which ran in the March 2014 issue of OHS Canada, is nominated for Best Resource/Infrastructure Article. Along with six other folks.

There’s even an awards ceremony of some kind, happening on June 2.
Thankfully, I won’t have to wear a tuxedo, or inform nosy red-carpet interviewers whom I’m wearing. And Joan Rivers won’t be there to insult people, because she’s a little tied up this year with being dead.

Still don’t believe me?
Well, I’m listed on the KRW website nominees list. I defy you to find another Jeff Cottrill who writes for OHS Canada.

“Off the Rails” is accessible from the magazine’s website, and the KRW site has a PDF file of the actual magazine version, which you can see here.

I also wrote a couple of articles for the last issue, including a short piece called “Putting Stress on Stress”, which is online here.
Also check out a couple of new theatre reviews on Digital Journal.

We happy?

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