Category: The Arts

Vague words that are synonyms for progress, paired with footage of a high-speed train

Kendra Eash published a funny poem in McSweeney’s about how big companies use stock video and portentous but vague voice-overs to create feel-good ads about their corporate brands. Then a stock footage company with a sense of humour set the poem to, well, stock footage.

Explained the company, “The minute we saw Kendra Eash’s brilliant ‘This Is a Generic Brand Video’ on McSweeney’s, we knew it was our moral imperative to make that generic brand video so. No surprise, we had all the footage.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is a case of commerce imitating art imitating commerce imitating emotion.

H/T: Jane Kansas. Accept no substitutes.

The Three Kings

Each December, the L’Arche Cape Breton theatre group stages a Christmas pageant at the SAERC auditorium in Port Hawkesbury. This year’s show, on December 8, was a dramatization of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Christmas poem, The Three Kings.

Hollywood Oommen, Jamie Stewart, and Joan MacDonald starred as the Kings Melchior, Gaspar, and
Baltasar. Esther Akurut played Mary, Buddy Payne played Joseph, and Simon Zavo was the baby Jesus. David Gunn played Herod (with the help of a fantastic costume designed by Dennis Murphy). Dancing Maggie Power (my granddaughter) portrayed the star that led the kings to the stable where Jesus was born.

Find the complete credits here, and a fuller video introduction to the stage show here (with Jamie Stewart and my son Silas Donham as emcees).

For more information about the l’Arche community, visit, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

BSO v. SLSO: a classical music preview of tonight’s classic

Boston, in six, natch.

H/T: Evy Carnat

Igneous Ichthys

Igneous Ichthys-550

By Alison Halina Uhma

Whose breakfast will I be?

 ©2013 Ronnie D'Entremont - Reproduced by permision

Things went from bad to worse for a young smelt herring in West Pubnico Saturday morning. A common tern and a green crab had their eyes cocked for a meal when he happened by. My guess is that herring and green crab both fulfilled their destinies as breakfast.

Nova Scotia Bird Society stalwart Ronnie D’Entremont was on hand to capture the action with this once-in-a-lifetime shot. Nova Scotia has a lot of wonderful nature photographers, but Ronnie ranks with the best.

Photo copyright ©2013 by Ronnie D’Entremont. Reproduced by permission. All rights reserved.  Click the image for a higher-res version.

If you’re near Sydney Saturday night…

Consider taking in the annual l’Arche Cape Breton Springfest at the World Trade and Convention Center, Membertou. It’s an evening of stories and songs  by the l’Arche troupe, together with delicious desserts and an auction featuring arts and crafts by l’Arche folks, and goods donated by l’Arche supporters.

L’Arche Cape Breton will share their gift of music and storytelling, while illustrating their incredible zest for life.

An evening to remember for just $15. Tickets at Wentworth Perk and the Cape Breton Curiosity Shop.

If you aren’t familiar with l’Arche, here’s a wee introduction:

Director and videographer: Naomi Cousins; Producer: Mary MacDougall; Artist: Anil Kumar; Musical score: Pius MacIsaac; Cast: Members of l’Arche Cape Breton.

Crowdsourcing Cape Breton stories

Ashley McKenzie and Nelson MacDonald need help finishing their latest movie about New Waterford. Their first two shorts, “Rhonda’s Party” (2010) and “When You Sleep” (2012), achieved exceptional success, screening to widespread praise at the Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes, as well as at festivals in Montreal, Stockholm, Whistler, and St. John’s. Along the way, they picked up half a dozen industry awards, including the top prize in CBC’s Short Film Faceoff.

AshleyDespite these early triumphs, the pair have had to turn to crowdsourcing to raise the last few dollars needed to finish post-production on their latest film, “Stray,” the story of a lonely New Waterford girl who tries to befriend a homeless cat.

They wouldn’t need this money if they had taken the expedient route of filming in Halifax. But director Ashley and producer Nelson are committed to telling Cape Breton stories in an authentic way. By paying the extra transportation and crew costs to film here, they were able to set scenes in magnificent post-industrial settings that just aren’t available anywhere else. (Lord knows how Nelson wheedled permission to shoot in some of these locations.)

We’re always bemoning the exodus of talented young people from Nova Scotia. Ashley and Nelson could easily flourish in a major film center, but they choose instead to stay here and tell our stories. We’ve been friends for years, and I can’t think of any two people who work harder, or bring greater intelligence and dedication to their craft.

Isn’t that something we should support?

With just 48 hours to go, their Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign is about $1,600 shy of the goal needed to finish “Stray.” You can contribute here.


Highway 103 between Halifax and Bridgewater is surely the dullest drive in Nova Scotia. For the last three or four years, motorists forced to traverse its dreary confines have enjoyed momentary comic relief near the Tantallon exit, in the form of a car-sized, more-or-less cubical rock outcropping, painted as a Rubik’s Cube.

Rubric one LR

“A jumbled Rubik’s Cube fixed in stone, really heavy stone,” said West Dublin resident Peter Barss, who waxed philoshical about its deeper artistic significance:

A monumental monument to confusion and frustration? A puzzle that never changes… and can never be solved? An implied order, an order that can never be realized? A metaphysical statement about some absolute truth about the universe?

This week, the nerdish joke got better when someone — Glooscap? Giant MacAskill?  — solved the cube.

Rubik's two

Contrarian does not condone the defacement of Nova Scota granite, but we are prepared to make an exception in this case.

Please, whatever your name is…

Newfoundland has always had way better tourism ads than Nova Scotia (or pretty much anywhere else on the planet for that matter). Now it turns out they have way better children’s hospital ads, too. (Stay with this at least until the music starts, about five minutes in. Hilarious.)

[Video link]. H/T Calvert’s own Jenn Power.

A video tour of Nova Scotia’s grandest old theatre

Here’s a nice touch: As part of the promotion for the Savoy Theatre’s forthcoming production of Les Misérables (May 24 to 29), the Cape Breton Post and Seaside Communications have put together a video describing the Savoy’s fascinating history and architecture:

The narrator, Steve “Beak” MacDonald, pretty much grew up with the Savoy. His parents, Scotchie and Mary Marsh MacDonald, were major supporters of the theatre when it hosted Rotary Club musicals in the 1960s and ’70s. Actors, musicians, and crew members associated with the productions were often billeted in the MacDonalds’ home on Sydney’s Wentworth Park.

Here’s an image of the theatre entrance from decades gone by:

Savoy Theatre-old-500

Video production by Jason LeFrense and Brandon Ferguson of Seaside. (Disclosure: Seaside is a client and Beak is a friend.)

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