St. John’s Film Festival Celebrates 20 Years

October 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Film Festivaling

I’ll soon be off to Newfoundland for the 20th St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.

This year I’ll be moderating another kids’ workshop and I’ve created another opening “signature film” for the 2009 festival screenings.

Watch it:”>

Serious about Humour

April 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Rachel's Thoughts

Humour is my language.
I can speak other languages, but I prefer to express myself in my mother tongue.
Personally, I believe it should be everyone’s language, much like how Americans go abroad and get annoyed that not everyone speaks English.  As understanding and empathetic as I generally am (or appear to be) when conversing with others, I have a difficult time understanding people who just can’t communicate in humour.
If I have to repeat, “No, no. You see, that was a joke.” more than twice in a conversation, you’ve probably lost me.  I just might give up right there.

If human interaction were baking recipes, then humour would be the milk.  Not every recipe needs it, and it would spoil a few dishes, but most baked goods ask for at least half a cup, worked in evenly throughout the mixture.
Well placed, perceptive humour can be an ice and tension breaker.
It can be an open door, as well as a terrific wall — an invitation or a deflection.
There are things you can express through sarcasm that would never work in a serious tone.

My best defense against fighting most of my insecurities is humour.  Self-deprecation can help you own your imperfections and mold them into strengths.

I bought a house a few years ago and quickly realized that green thumbs are not items I possess — not on either one of my hands.  I dug up my front lawn one day with the intention of turning a new leaf and starting a garden, but I then forgot (or rather, didn’t care enough) to actually plant anything.  As a result, my lawn was wonderfully tilled and ideal for lush and fertile weeds.  I like to think I was starting a weed garden, but too many people misunderstood me when I made comments like that.
At its worst, my weeds grew to be about 4 feet tall.
Old Italian men would come around to my house just to point and laugh.
One of them told me to get a husband and have him fix it.  I thanked him for pouring salt on my wounds.

When giving instructions to my house, I eventually found myself describing it as “the one with the ugly lawn”.  This was becoming my home’s most distinctive feature.

My friendliest neighbour Bob, “The Dirty Old Man Who’s Past His Prime” (I swear to you, that’s the way he introduced himself) tried several times to pawn his lawn tools off on me, until I insisted that I had worked long and hard to get my front lawn just perfect like this.
“Oh… Yes.  Yes. I thought so.” He said.  “I didn’t mean to insult you.  I just thought… You know, if you ever wanted to prune it, to be even nicer……  I have a Weed Whacker in my shed.”

I needed to take control of the situation and make sure my other neighbours wouldn’t hate me.
Bob was funny andnd his lawn is dirt, so he would have been the last to judge.

Fix the lawn??  Pfffft.  Not likely.
Making them laugh was the key.

I began to put up signs.  The first one began with a grain of sincerity and read,

“Yes, I am aware of the condition of my front lawn.  But thank you for your concern.”

That sign was put up simply to stop the stares and murmurs from contractors, neighbours and passers-by.

Then came,

“Yeah?!  Your MOM’S an ugly lawn!!”,

“My other lawn’s a Porche.”,


“I do this to make the other lawns feel better about themselves.”

(That my friends, is what I like to call “one-downing”.  Instead of “one-upping”, where one tells a better story, making those around him feel worse about themselves, one-downing self-deprecates and helps to build others up — make yourself plain, so the girl next to you looks glamorous.  That sort of thing.  My lawn was one-downing all the other lawns on the block.  My lawn was the Ethel to everyone else’s Lucy.)

I kept those signs up for over a year.  I grew to care very much for them.  And at one point my mother (a very funny woman) did a drive-by lawn ornamenting, leaving behind a tole painted garden sign in the yard which read, “Quiet please, weeds growing”.

Eventually I realized I had reached a point where I had developed pride over my particular weakness, and my owning of my bad thumbs had now lost its point.  I began to let the lawn get uglier just so I could keep up the signs.
“My place looks like CRAP! Stand tall! Stand proud!” I would think to myself while arriving home from work.

The Fed Ex lady had told me she looked forward to coming to my house, always hoping to find a new sign, and that had made me very happy.
(She would also assure me that the lawn wasn’t so bad.)

I’ve since taken down those signs, and today my inner city lawn looks a lot more like Bob’s.  It’s not glamorous and it’s mostly dirt, but you wouldn’t get lost in it anymore.

I’m no longer insecure about my habit of neglect, but I sort of miss the attention from the signs.
The Fed Ex lady has long since forgotten me.

I’m considering planting corn.

Rachel at the VERY serious St. John's Women's Film Fest, with Kelly Davis and Noreen Gulfman

Rachel at the VERY serious St. John's Women's Film Fest, with Kelly Davis and Noreen Gulfman