Monkey On My Back

June 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Busking, Events

I think I enjoyed this weekend’s Dundas Busker Festival on a new level than others I’ve been involved with.  This is the first time I’ve festivalled at home.  It felt pretty great.  It’s very surreal to be working a festival and see people you know.  I even met old childhood friends I hadn’t seen for nearly a decade.

I liked it.

It was a really great festival for meeting more performer friends, comparing some of them to their online forum personalities, and thoroughly enjoying the Fast Horse Family.  Judy Boswell, Paul Maskell and all others involved were really great to festival with and it’s apparent that they love doing it (one should never run a festival if they don’t love doing it.  It’s a festival!)

I met some great people this year.

My chalk drawing ~  I chose a strange piece of pavement.  I chose it for location, but as soon as I had committed myself with my fat, black outlines I realized the texture was going to be a challenge.  What I lacked in detail due to bumpiness, I think I made up for in size and sheer audacity.  I hope to do this piece again soon so that I can get in all the shiny spots, gleams and colours I wasn’t able to accomplish this weekend.

But here we are:

I seem to have mastered the pre-teen boy demographic.  Chalk time is the only time I’m ever cool with tweens.  For young teens to actually give me real money is a huge compliment and success.  …they don’t usually think to give that stuff away.

One young girl came along, looked at the piece and said, “Oooooooh, I get it.”
I took a beautiful double take and said, “You DO?? …Oh.  I see.  Well, I guess I’m glad someone does.”

Another woman insisted for some time that it was a 3D chalk piece, like the kind she’s seen on the internet.
I told her it wasn’t that sort of drawing, but she told me that, yes, it absolutely was.  I’d like to know what medication she’s taking, but I’m glad she appreciated it on a level that didn’t even exist.

“Monkey On My Back”

Visit the pavement art page

Fall Down Seven, Stand Up Eight

May 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Events, Performing


I’ve just come home from a visit to Kalamazoo and nobody at home believes me.  I may as well have said I was going to Timbuktu or Lake Titicaca.

Kalamazoo happens to be the home base of a new, innovative circus and Kalamazoo should be proud.

Allison Williams of the world renown Aerial Angels is writer and director of STAND UP EIGHT, a theatrical circus show that brings you closer to the performers and sometimes right up onto the stage, along side them.
After a great deal of development and investment Allison and the Angel’s co-Artistic Director Zay Weaver got one final and dramatic boost into production when they appeared on the CBC’s reality show, The Dragon’s Den.  They received a generous investment from W. Brett Wilson, Canada’s cutest blue-eyed zillionaire, with soft spot for entertainers.

(If you’ve seen CBC ads for either The Dragon’s Den or for CBC programming itself, chances are you’ve seen Allison and Zay.  They were by far the coolest looking entrepreneurs to appear on the show, eating fire and tumbling from silks, and having the most teeth grittingly tense discussions of any I’ve ever seen aired on that program, ending in a few tears and some accusations of arrogance.  The Aerial Angels, in my opinion have single-handedly provided the CBC with a season’s worth of promotional ads.)

I went to Kalamazoo with my video camera in tow, to film the process of this new show and its first few performances.
What does it take to start a theatrical circus show and get it rolling?
What sorts of people invest their talents and personal lives into it?
This documentary will introduce you to them.

Along with other creative projects working their way out, I hope to spend my summer piecing together a masterpiece that captures what I see developing down in Kalamazoo Michigan, and quickly spreading across the globe.

Art.  Passion.  Drive.  Skill.

…kittens.
…Lots and lots of kittens.

(It’ll make sense.)

As a peculiar little side note: My aspiration to break out into documentary (as I am primarily an animation filmmaker) was what originally brought me to the world of variety performance.  I had desired to make a film about the life of circus/sideshow/street performers many years ago.  Realizing I knew little about either documentary or the lives of variety performers, I dropped that story to experiment in actually performing as a comic fire eater for a while.  Allison Williams taught me how to light my tongue ablaze in the back alley of a street festival one summer in Toronto.
After a few years and some short edits of performance related video footage, I have now come full-circle with an inside scoop of the variety life and some documenting experience.  I couldn’t have worked it out better if I had tried. …and I did try.  Funny, that.

!NEW!
I’ve just finished the first promo video for Stand Up Eight Circus.
Filming and editing by Rachel Peters.
Second camera man, Dragon Alexander.

!ALSO!
Stand Up Eight in 90 Seconds! For the busy business person who just doesn’t have time for 4 and-a-half minutes.

Get Lectured

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Events, Performing

Having missed my last lecture opportunity at Sheridan College due to a sudden and unexpected bout of what felt a lot like death, I’ll be trying it all again on April 6th, at 1pm.  To students — come get lectured about the “real world”!  There is some talk of possible fire eating, but chances are that administration won’t ever let me come back again if I do it.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing films-in-progress during my recent “guest mentor” days, and I look forward to seeing the few dedicated ones who are still showing up to class in this last home stretch of 4th year!
You’re almost there!  Congratulations to you!

Living in the REAL World?

February 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Events, Performing

Monday, February 9th, Rachel Peters will be heading back to Sheridan College, where she once spent hours upon hours drawing bouncing balls, waving seaweeds and Vivien’s infamous Pink Panther, to lecture animation students on what life is like in the “real world”.  Funny thing, Rachel isn’t entirely sure she’s ever lived in the “real world”.  It’s all lollipops and gumdrops where she spends her time.
Perhaps hearing about Rachel’s unreal world will be a nice counter balance to what she remembers having heard so much in school, about how difficult the industry is (which is can be).
But with a few strategic moves, Rachel believes one can situate themselves so that lollipops an gumdrops don’t have to be just a pipe dream.  Enjoying your living and finding exciting opportunities is more attainable than one may assume.

Valenween’s is upon us.

February 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Events, Performing

Somewhere within the immeasurable moment that falls between February, Friday 13th and February 14th (Valentine’s day) lies a celebration Rachel has created called, “Valenween’s”. Valenween’s is a celebration for the unlucky in love. It occurs only every few years, and the next one won’t be upon us until the year 2015 (followed by 2026), so treasure Valentine’s Eve, known this year as “Valenweeeeeen’s”.

Hot Water Bottle, the Skinny Pig

Hot Water Bottle, the Skinny Pig

Who’s more unlucky in love than little Hot Water Bottle here? Apparently hairless guinea pigs only come in male. He’ll never find a lady who fully understands him, his jiggly, steaming hot belly or his disturbingly naked boy parts.  Poor little guy.  I wish I hadn’t had to give him away last spring.  It’s nothing but rejection for a hairless guinea pig.

Now, WHO Gave Rachel the Lighter?!

January 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Events, Performing

On Friday, February 13th, (That’s right, Friday the Thirteenth!) Rachel will be joining Zero Gravity Circus in freeze-your-bum-off Toronto to not only perform her comical fire eating, but also to screen her newest short, animated film, “Nagasaki Circus“.  It’s sure to be an eventful night.
As well as extinguishing fire with her FACE, Rachel will also be seen lighting her tongue on fire, her fingers, her lips, and if all goes well… nothing else.

photo courtesy of Irene Duma

photo courtesy of Irene Duma

Side note:  Somewhere within the immeasurable moment that falls between February, Friday 13th and February 14th (Valentine’s day) lies a celebration Rachel created called, “Valenween’s”.  Valenween’s is a celebration for the unlucky in love.  It occurs only every few years, and the next one won’t be upon us until the year 2015 (followed by 2026), so treasure Valentine’s Eve, known this year as “Valenween’s“.

Performers in Pavement!

January 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Busking, Events

It’s been four months since I hit the road at the Toronto Busker Festival, creating caricatures of fellow performers in chalk and concrete.
Here are some never-before-seen (even by myself) photos of the final piece, on the very last night, courtesy of Comedienne, Sharon Mahoney.

This piece featured dancer Robert Muraine, contortionist Alakazam,
Silver Elvis
, Squid Percussion, Sharon “From Canada” Mahoney and some fish.

To see more about my pavement art and “Performers in Pavement”, visit the page.

It’s a Moving Stories Holiday

December 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Film Festivaling

I recently attended the lovely holiday party (since we, in the professional PC world no longer say “Chr-r-r-ristmas”) of BookShorts, Moving Stories Film Festival, and Pages Books TINARS (This is Not a Reading Series).  It was the last stop of the nationally touring Moving Stories Film Festival, in which my film screened with a consistently pleasant reaction.
The Hollywood theme gave me an excuse to wear my nice jewelery and pose in a photo with a gun, and the season gave me an excuse to create a new batch of Frankin Toys, to give to producer Judith Keenan.

See the Moving Stories page for more party photos.

Read my instructional post on “How to build a Frankin Toy”.

Ottawa or Bust!

October 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Film Festivaling

(I just wanted to say the word, “bust”.  I’m cheeky like that.)

I’ve recently arrived home from two days at the Ottawa Writer’s Festival where I discovered Artistic Director, Sean Wilson has the exact same head as Rick Mercer.  Not the same face, mind you.  Just the cranium.  The shape, the hair, and the disproportionately child-like size.  It was pretty cool, I must say.

I was actually in Ottawa for three days, the first being made up of a lovely evening out at McDonald’s with my “Little Brother Figure”, Aaron Bradford.  I’m pretty sure he’ll thoroughly hate this paragraph.  When I first met Bratworst he was in high school, with long, blue hair, and had just let his friends shave his eyebrows off.  He said, “They made me.” but I highly doubt they physically pinned him down.  People called him “Marilyn Manson” for a year.  Now Bradford is all grow’d up, I suppose, and not actually that much younger than me, now.  He has a good hair cut, he can grow a full beard, he wears pants that fit and he has begun showering regularly.  It’s working for him.  Back in the early days when I knew little about animation and Bradford knew little about changing his pants, I starred him in a video series for a large Youth organization.  It was called, “Bradford’s Magic Photo Album“.

Evening #2 for me involved a screening of the Moving Stories Film Festival and a very friendly Hospitality Room.  Paul (Quarrington) had arrived at the Hospitality Room earlier in the day and thought it very inhospitable that it was closed.

I enjoyed hearing an audience respond to my film that evening, although it was very noticeable that we were at a writer’s festival, and not a film fest.  Nobody claps at readings and thus, nobody clapped at the films.  …It felt kind of like church.  I did, however, hear one person sheepishly air-clap and whisper, “woo-woo” after mine.  That rocked.

I met Charles Hodgson, of Podictionary.com, the pod cast which explores a word root every day!  I now have a CD and a book I am very interested in delving into.  It’s not often you meet a real, live etymologist.  In fact, it’s not often I use the word “etymology”.  Where does that word come from?  Charles would know!

Day #3 was for masterclasses.  I attended “Adapting Books: From Page to Screen” with Judith Keenan and Paul Quarrington, moderated by Tom Shoebridge.  Intriguing, entertaining, and informative.
Quarrington was trying to salvage his voice for a concert that evening with his band, The PorkBelly Futures, so his comments and answers were interspersed with swigs of Buckley’s Cough Syrup.

From six to seven I attended my own masterclass workshop, entitled, “Animating Books: From Page to Screen”.  I was joined by Gary Thomas of Crush Inc. and it was moderated by Chris Robinson, Artistic Director of the Ottawa Int. Animation Festival.  (Who, by the way, if he reads this post because of the Google alert that comes with the tag, is NOT a “Cranky Fart”.  You heard it here.)

I really enjoyed being on the small panel of two, but only wished it could have gone longer.  We screened our work and that took up some time.  I realized once we were up there that both Gary and I are animation cheaters.  I mean, our current, featured work was barely “animation” at all (not that we don’t animate, but what we were showing involved a lot of live-action).  But then, perhaps animation by its nature is “cheating”.  Yep.  That’s what I’ll say.  And if you disagree, you can fight me.

Then on to a nap, during which I was not able to sleep, in spite of my cushy hotel bed (two of them, actually.  I love the superfluous second beds.)  I wasn’t able to fall asleep on either of them.

I got up and eagerly jotted off to the big show, “Writers That Rock”, with a lovely line-up, including the most creativity I’ve seen in some long time by the hilarious Bob Wiseman (Keep an ear to the ground for his live performances, wherever you might be), and closing off with the PorkBelly Futures with Paul Q., who, by this time had a line-up of throat medications displayed for the audience, taking appropriate swigs and drops and suppositories, depending on the difficulty of the given song.
Despite his struggle to stay coherent and conscious (enough Buckley’s will do that to you), they all sounded great.

As the evening wrapped up and people headed out to be hospitable, I tried that “sleeping” thing again, with some success.

And that’s that.

Now it’s time for one of those “real jobs”, I guess.

Until the next festival…

The Kids of St. John’s

October 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Events, Film Festivaling

Ta-daaaaa!

Just one click away lies the masterpiece of the “2D in 2Days” workshop kids!

Over two days, seven kids, ages eleven to thirteen worked on flipbooks and claymation to come up with this:

I’m pretty proud of them, if I do say so myself (and I do).

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