December 31, 2013


Tonight I'm making a effort to reflect on successes from this past year. As a problem-oriented person, I usually end up dwelling on failures. Or looking ahead to what needs to be tackled next. Plus "reflecting on past victories" sounds a lot like "resting on your laurels."

But I need a break from that thinking. And I need a dose of joy. So tonight I've scheduled a dose of savouring certain memories along with my pinot grigio. We'll see how it goes.

Happy new year to you.

December 12, 2013

Winnipeg's honorary consulates

Perhaps Google maps is wrong. Or perhaps diplomacy isn't what it used to be...

The Netherlands

The Philippines



November 16, 2013

"I'm a news promo writer." "What the hell is that?"

A few people have asked about my job and aren't quite sure what a news promo writer is/does. Neither was I before I nabbed this job. It's a delightful hybrid PR/journo position that's right up my alley.

I promote the news. I find out what's coming up on the different shows - the morning, evening and late night news casts - and make radio, print and TV commercials to convince people to tune in. There's a number of other little projects I have, but news promo is the heart of it.

I make these. These are my children. My 30 second, reductionist children.

November 10, 2013

Modern Matt

A wee update what I'm doing these days...

1. Graduated from CreComm

That "going back to college" thing some of you heard I was doing? I did it. That might be why you haven't seen me in awhile.

As much as I love acting and miss performing, I found I couldn't accept the lifestyle. Six or eight weeks of gigs doing the best job in the world didn't balance stacking boxes in warehouses the rest of the year (or getting a decent communications job only to have to quit when I was lucky enough to snag a part). So I went into one of the more intense programs in Manitoba, in terms of time commitment and networking opportunities. And it was right up my alley. And I'm so glad I'm done.

2. Running

Two years ago I found out that running away from my problems helped. Out on the road I can find the mental space to both unwind and contemplate. And feel great doing so.

I've notched two half marathons and have signed up for the full this May in Fargo. Excitedaunted!

3. Spin the news

A summer spent hustling multiple jobs has coalesced into one main gig: news promotion for CTV Winnipeg. I pump out the commercials saying what stories we're covering and why you need to watch. And I love it. I'm not just cheering for something I believe in, but in a small way I'm having impact on important discussions here in the province.

4. Reviewing theatre

I've taken my knowledge of the stage and turned it against my former colleagues, burning bridges and alienating friends! I fear nothing! Bwa ha ha!

Actually I just write a few thoughts on shows for the excellent Prairie site Spectator Tribune. And my opinions are just my opinions, so I'm sure no one is taking them too seriously. Hopefully it's drawing people to shows, but at the very least it's helping me crystallize my thoughts on the art form I adore.

5. Going for coffee/drinks with friends

Reversing the ill effects of point 1, I'm catching up with good people. Have we not sat down for a chat in a couple years? Message me. It's on.

November 9, 2013

Shadow songs - A night with Le Ombre

Because I'm helping the WSO's resident composer Vincent Ho with a movie (more on that in a future post), I was able to score tickets to last night's concert with Le Ombre - the traveling silhouette dance show (trailer is below).

It was great fun being surrounded by an audience gasping and sighing with pleasure at one of the oldest arts in human history. The dancers are strong on their own, but it's the moments of inventive imagination - when twisting bodies become an animal, a building or an iconic image - that carry the show.

It's a great night at the symphony, particularly if you don't regularly attend and are looking for a show to take you by the hand, smile and pull you up onto the stage and into your imagination. Check it out if you get the chance.

September 14, 2013

Drunk on the view

I became trapped at a friend's birthday party last night - snared by the view from his 11th storey balcony.

It's been so long since I had a room with a view.
I forgot how beautiful Winnipeg is when you rise just a few metres and look out over the elm tree canopy.
I forgot the strange mix of contemplation and voyeurism from looking down at people-shaped ants.
I forgot the tickle of danger from standing by the edge.
I wonder how much our physical position impacts how we think. When we're raised up, buried deep down, wandering far away - do our thoughts match our predicaments?

September 7, 2013

The people who choose your news

If 75 per cent of people stop reading news stories at the headlines, the anonymous copy editors who craft these short blurbs are some of the most powerful people in society.

Here's a behind the scenes look at the Winnipeg Free Press copy editing team - the people who choose your news.

June 17, 2013

Half marathoned




I was shooting my mouth off before the race, talking about the full marathon in 2014. Then I nearly slowed to a walk at 19K because I was done, there was nothing left. Except some guy sitting on the side of the road who yelled, "Don't give up, keep running!" Ahem. Sir. You're a jerk. And thank you. 

So I don't know about the full next year. Though I do have 363 days to train...

June 13, 2013

My many, many moves | Frogbox Blog Contest

Baden Soellingen, Germany

I'm a base brat or for you civvies out there (that's civilians to... civilians), I'm a kid who grew up on military bases. My father flies jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The main pro of that upbringing? Being able to top the threat of every other kid in the schoolyard.

Him: Oh yeah? Well my dad drives a truck and he'll run you over.
Me: Oh yeah? Well my dad drives a jet and he'll bomb your house.
(awed silence)

Cold Lake, Alberta

The con? Moving. A lot. I relocated to new towns five times growing up, which isn't too many compared to some of the other brats I knew - they seemed to move every six months - but it was enough. Enough to disrupt my friendships. Enough to foster a sense of always being on the move, never really settling. Enough to make me jealous of people who have "childhood friends."

I wish I hadn't moved so much as a child. Now, of course, that I'm an adult who's curious about the world, I'd love to move more. I want to go exploring. But as a kid, I wanted my friends, hard won through a strong effort to overcome my natural shyness.

Lazo, British Columbia

The act of moving is disorienting. Five times (OK, I don't really remember my first move. As an infant, I packed light) all my stuff was jammed into boxes. What felt like the sum total of my life was compressed into a few square, badly packed feet.

Gahd, it was stressful. And that's from a kid's perspective, I can't even imagine how rough it was for my parents to organize an entire household, pack the kitchen, pack the livingroom, sell old furniture, pack three kids' junk, unpack to find the one item the oldest daughter needed, repack, unpack to find what the younges daughter needed, load it into a truck destined for a new town only Dad had visited...

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Which brings me to Frogbox, the North American company that supplies clean, reusable packing containers to people on the move - dropping them off at old house and picking them up at your new home. (They're running a blog contest right now, more on that below.)

In the stress of moving, there were moments of comfort and fun. Always eating out, because all the kitchen gear was already packed. Friends and neighbours dropping by to help with the move. Finding the long-lost book you thought was gone for good. These little perks in the midst of unsettling times helped a lot. They were little golden moments along the path to a new town.

So cheers to Frogbox for helping make moving easier, cleaner and more environmentally friendly. I wish I'd had you along for the ride when I was a kid beyond the obvious reason of building the ultimate Frogbox fort.


As I mentioned, Frogbox Winnipeg is running a contest through their Facebook page. Just write a blog post that touches on Frogbox. It can be about moving. It can be about how you try to be environmentally conscious. It can be how you'd like a Frogbox as an ice box for your summer brews. Anything.

There's some sweet shwag you can win, but more so, you're helping get the word out about a fun local company. Deets below.

June 8, 2013


I'm back at the Free Press copy editing and writing headlines this summer while I look for a permanent job. The first couple weeks have been a sharp reminder of a hard truth I learned last time around: I'm not really a copy editor.

I don't have the depth of grammatical and linguistic knowledge my coworkers have, not to the level it takes to be a really good copy editor. More than that, I struggle to rearrange other people's writing to make their stories really sing. There are a couple colleagues whose skill at storytelling is impressive - they're the secret weapons of the Winnipeg Free Press newsroom. Me? I can hack it out, but I'm not great.

Every now and then, however, I redeem myself with a good headline.

June 6, 2013

Summer reading lists

I just finished an article for The Winnipeg Review (fantastic Prairie lit blog you should subscribe to) about summer reading lists, asking local authors for their thoughts on the matter. And most don't buy into them; they either have a list they plug away at throughout the year or they read a la freeform. There was even a hint that summer reading lists are a media/pr creation (read the article).

So, to open this up to everyone, here's the 39-chapter question: Do you have a summer reading list?

May 28, 2013

An open letter to my Fringe friends

I've been asked by the Winnipeg Free Press to review shows at this year's Fringe festival. I said yes.

I'm crossing the line. And I know some of you might not forgive me.

In July, I may write a couple hundred words about the show you've worked tremendously hard on. Though backed up by observations, the review will be my opinion. You might not like it. We might disagree. We've probably disagreed before. But this time my opinion will publicly judge your quality as an artist, plus have a disproportionate impact on how many people see your show.

I feel uncomfortable with this set up. I've performed in a lot of shows and received reviews that have been all over the map. A fun example was One Good Marriage, which earned a five-star review from the Free Press, an A+ from (the now defunct) Uptown Magazine and a two-star pan from the CBC. (Sadly, I can't find it online anymore, but it more or less said "I don't buy the given circumstances.") I know that criticism is highly subjective.

But dammit, my opinion is worthwhile and worth sharing.

That's what writing reviews comes down to, so let's not dance around it. I know there is such a thing as "good art" and "bad art" with degrees in between, regardless of style. And I think - after years performing in shows, producing plays, reading criticism and reflecting on art - I can figure out not only where a piece of theatre sits on that scale, but why it sits there.

Maybe you think I'm not qualified. That's legit. I'm young-ish. I haven't seen, read or lived enough. I'm working on it, but my opinion is arguably not worthwhile.

But even if they're threadbare and anemic, my reviews are still worth sharing. Because theatre should be talked about. That, for me, is why there always needs to be reviewers at the Fringe. Not to help guide audiences' play choices (though that's reason enough), but to kick off a gut-rattling, voice-raising talk about the transformative (and entertaining) power of live theatre.

I believe theatre (even a light, fluffy musical) can and should give people a richer understanding of themselves and their lives. And not doing that (while being enormously entertaining) isn't just a shame: It's a crime.

That's why I'll write my stumbling, bumbling reviews this summer, even though it might put our friendship at risk. I hope you won't take anything I say personally if I write that your show isn't good. I hope we can hang out in the beer tent. I admire what you do and why you do it.

You're worth writing about.

- Matthew

More readin' on reviewin'
Giving stars and taking stripes by Joff Schmidt
The lonely critic by John Bent Jr
Reviews with all guns blazing by Margaret Sullivan
Morris Panych dresses down critic... by Pat Donnelly
How do you decide what to see at the theatre? by Lyn Gardner
How to write a theatre review by Lyn Gardner
Lynn Slotkin's Stratford media tickets revolked and response

May 27, 2013

Half an update

The Manitoba Marathon (I'm doing the half) is 19 days away. I've got under three weeks left to bump my farthest distance ever (16K last fall) up to 21K. Right now I'm at the 13K point, keeping an average pace under 5:30/K.

Here's what I've learned so far. It ain't much, so please add your thoughts in the comments and our collective wisdom will carry me over the finish line.

1) Don't skip training days

2) Sports glide was forged by angels

3) Those new runners (above)? Worth every penny

4) Don't drink two cups of coffee the day of a run. The energy/hydration trade off is not worth it.

5) Music makes running a thousand times easier (any Songza playlist recommends would be appreciated)

6) Don't judge yourself too quickly, the first few miles are always a warm-up time. And don't judge yourself at the end, you're still working toward a goal and there's time to make it. So judge yourself in the middle ;)

May 20, 2013

Breaking out of my cell

My Android has been in the shop for two weeks. Who knew repeatedly dropping it, stepping on it, whacking it, tapping it, spinning it, juggling it, shaking it, punching it, getting it wet, teasing cats with it, keeping hot beverages on it, opening locks with it, derailing trains and prying open the mouths of beasts with it would disturb its tiny guts?

I dote on its absence. I'm in love with its void. Partly, it's the reduced pressure to keep in the loop. The gnawing worry SOMETHING is happening SOMEWHERE and I had better check in with the world every ten seconds to FIND OUT has had its teeth pulled.

But more so, I'm pleased by the healthy beating my ego has taken. Because I don't deserve a smartphone. There's nothing I need to say or do or tweet that justifies handing me a palm-sized computer, let alone the slave labour and technical wizardry that went into making it. It's too good for me. The Universe knows it. It hated me having an smartphone. And these past two weeks, in the absolutely smallest way, there's been a slightly improved cosmic balance because of my being unAndroided.

That feeling you have of being one percent more at ease? That was me.

My smartphone is on its way back. It's made a full recovery, according to the store. Which is too bad. Next time, I'll request the Just A Little Broken special like the hip kids do, keeping a slew of food porn, cat pics and mistyped tweets at bay. When my smartphone loses, everybody wins. Even me.

May 14, 2013

You are your friends

Shawn Sorensen and co-worker
Not every day you get to hang out with one of the coolest cats in the country; a guy who, at age 16, came up to me after he had just ripped up the stage with a great performance and said, "We don't know each other, but I've heard you're pretty cool, so we're going to be friends."

Shawn and I were part of the same group of thespians to come out of the Comox Valley at the turn of the millennium, though I left a few years early. Since taking Shawn on a rambling walkabout of the Exchange District, I've been wondering about that mid-high school move. Where and who would I be if I stayed in British Columbia?

And I think I'd be pretty much the same person. Living different circumstances, yes. But I think who you are is largely determined by the people you hang out with. And I've developed a talent for finding the very best people and declaring, at least in my mind, "Hey - we're going to be friends!"

I had a good early tutor.

PS: Winnipeg artistic directors - hire this stage manager. He guides a nine-month-long TYFA tour from Halifax to Vancouver to San Francisco to Philadelphia without breaking a sweat while blogging about it the whole time

May 10, 2013

The Ceeb

Today I finished two weeks of full-time work at the CBC as an arts reporter.

When I say it was a dream gig, I mean the combination of a clear mission, enthusiastic coworkers, varied topics, new experiences, constant learning and ability to have impact gave me the tingles everyday. Even now, it seems unreal.

Someone paid me to report on the arts. People read, listened and watched. I was working full-time for the national broadcaster, contributing to the voice I've listened to since I was a child. Amazing.

I'll still be contributing as a freelancer. Before leaving, I sat down pretty much everyone there to ask how I could keep my foot in the door. I'm not done with you yet, CBC. And I think you're a long way from being done yourself, though some would say otherwise.

Rock on CBC. Here's to another 77 years.

May 5, 2013

The most interesting job interview I've ever had

With the end of my WAG internship (punctuated by the trailer you see below), my CreComm career has shifted gears. Classes are wrapped, interning is wrapped, job hunting is on. Which means job interviews.


I've had more than my share of job interviews over the years. One of the downsides of gigging for theatres is how often you find yourself looking for work. If you're "regular day job" won't let you take time off to do a play - and you really want to act - you quit. Then it's eight or nine weeks of life in the lime lights, followed by hitting the pavement for work.

Stock photo smile!

The most interesting interview I've ever had happened a few weeks ago, for a staff writer position at the Mennonite Central Committee.

Because I'm not Mennonite. 

And I'm not a Christian. 

And I'm an atheist...

The job itself sounded pretty rad. The MCC is one of the best international aid organizations I know, sponsoring projects around the world that enable people to take care of themselves rather than promoting charity dependence. They're potent advocates for political change. The staff writer covers the issues the MCC is dealing with - from promoting non-violence in Syria to raising money for a school in Mogadishu to raising Cain over disappearances in Columbia - to let stakeholders and funders know what's going on. Think "specialized journalist" and you're in the right neighbourhood. About 20 per cent of the job would be travelling the world, covering the aforementioned hot spots.

But you gotta have faith. While the MCC (and every Manitoba employer) is not allowed to pre-screen candidates based on religious belief, they are an unapologetically Christian organization. Office meetings often kick off with prayer (I'm told). The orientation every new employee goes to is a hybrid corporate challenge/prayer retreat in Pennsylvania.

I knew it would be a stretch for them to hire me. It would've been a stretch for me to work there. But the job sounded incredibly interesting. So I applied. And got an interview.

Their HR department emailed me a questionnaire to fill out and return before my interview, part of which covered faith. Now, I was super busy the week leading up to the interview and they had already said I could bring the forms with me when I came to the office, so I didn't send my responses in advance. When the four of us (three of them vs. one of me) sat down around a table for an interview, they didn't know what was coming their way.

Super friendly HR woman: Now before we begin the formal interview, which is followed by a writing exercise, is there anything you want to ask about or that we should discuss?

Me: Yes.

Super friendly HR woman: (with mild surprise) Oh? What's that?

Me: I don't believe in your boss.

 I didn't actually say it that way. That's just how it sounded in my head. What I actually said was.

Me: I know your time is very important and my time is important to me, so we should discuss my faith and beliefs. Because I don't believe in god. While I have a Christian upbringing...

And so on. What followed felt like a bit of a pitch on my part. I suppose it was. I explained that while I didn't share their beliefs, I had (and still have) tremendous respect for the work MCC does, for how they turn their faith into action. How I was quite comfortable writing on their behalf if they were fine having me work for them. That I believe life is sacred, in as much as I use that word

After that "pitch," they started asking questions: How did I arrive at my beliefs? Was it religion or the faith that I didn't accept? Did I ever see my position changing? And they talked about their own faiths and the periods of doubt they've gone through.

It was the most personal, interesting interview I've ever had. By comparison, most job interviews are bunk. Why ask someone about how they would hand a hypothetical situation (while sitting in the comfort of an office chair) when you can ask them for their story, their place in creation, their take on existence?

After our discussion, they decided to continue the interview. Which was mostly about the craft of storytelling, using media, communicating with audiences and the like. I think I did well. 

Not well enough, it turns out. Of course, I can't compare myself to the many people who applied and whoever got the job undoubtedly earned it. But I do think, barring my atheism, I was a strong contender.

Interesting. At the end of my interview, they thanked me deeply for my honesty. Which is the best policy. I imagine is faith is so central to them they wouldn't hire someone like me, I wouldn't have been that comfortable in the office. In the end, it's probably in everyone's best interest if I keep on job searching.

So... you hiring? I know a communicator who's available, widely skilled and now recertified faith free!

April 27, 2013

April 21, 2013

Half Marathon / Half Crazy

I just registered for the Half Marathon portion of the 2013 Manitoba Marathon.

I do my best work under pressure, but this still seems like self harm. Toward the end of last summer, I was in pretty good shape and able to do 16K. But that's as far as I've ever run and, in the interim, CreComm's all-consuming schedule  nicely knocked me out of shape.

All that to say, if you're looking for me, every second evening I'll be out on the road. Wanna run?

April 13, 2013

Headline writing doc - excerpts

I shot and edited a doc at the Winnipeg Free Press this past month, profiling the team who puts together the headlines (along with laying out and editing all the pages). When you realize that 75% of people don't read past the headlines, this anonymous group of people are some of the most influential folk in the city.

I can't show you the final film just yet - I'm pitching it to MTS On Demand and they'd prefer to purchase a film that hasn't already made it's debut.

But I can show you these excerpts that didn't make it into the final piece. Think of it as a little taste to whet your appetite. And I'll let you know when/if the full version is coming to a screen near you.

April 11, 2013

Al Rae is coming out swinging

The show mentioned in this CBC Scene article I wrote is happening tonight. Check it out if you can - should be hilarious, interesting and moving all at once (so get ready to cry/laugh/think simultaneously).

The Winnipeg Comedy Festival's artistic director will be joining the lineup for the Coming Out Swinging gala Thursday, April 11, to discuss - with a few laughs - his choice to come out of the closet a few weeks ago, ending a 23 year marriage and a chapter of his career.

(continue reading on CBC Manitoba Scene)

April 10, 2013

WAG the blog

Time for an update! Because, gosh, I haven't blogged in a communicator's lifetime (two weeks?). Things are well, classes have wrapped for CreComm and I'm on work placement at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I'm not bragging, but the art on my office walls is cooler than yours ;)

I'm having a tough time knowing what to do with my evenings now that homework is a thing of the past. I've said before I have a tough time transitioning from "work mode" to "have a life mode" and it's still true. I've essentially quit acting, I've lost a lot of friends during my intense schooling, I don't really have any hobbies... what's a girl to do?

So please, what hobbies should I pick up? How should I reclaim my/a life?

And do follow my blog at the WAG if you've got a second. I'm writing about the sharp learning curve I'm climbing as a three-week intern, plus the insane exhibit they have coming up called 100 Masters. What do Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Tom Thomson, Emily Carr and Andy Warhol all have in common?

They're all coming to the heart of the continent, baby!

PS. This happened at work today. Squeal!

April 6, 2013

Finish line

It's true, there's still three weeks of work placement to go. But why let that interrupt a good celebration?

March 26, 2013

Saving the world with smaller feet

Tyler Nelson wants you to have less impact.

The St. James born and bred graduate of Red River College's Environmental Protection Technology course (2012) is fired up about people lowering the amount of waste they produce as well as the energy and resources they consume: their carbon footprints. Nelson says even as a child, protecting the environment was on his mind.

Continue reading at Red River College's Going Places blog

March 20, 2013

Creative gifts

When is the last time you had trouble finding a jaw-drop-warm-heart-high-pitch-squeaky gift for your special someone? The kind of thoughtful gift that shows you care.

The last time you had to get a present, amirite?

I don't know what kind of treat you're looking for, but I do know a wellspring of local creativity you can hit up to up your chances of finding the perfect present: my classmates. A number of second year Creative Communications students have their fruits of the labour up for sale after the independent professional project presentations. In no particular order, check out.

Impressions - A Young Professional's Survival Guide to Business Dress & Etiquette by Sydnie Payne

Have a friend heading off into the workforce with no clue how to dress for the office. Sydnie will guide them through what to wear with hardly any payne. (See what I did there? I bet you've never heard that joke before, Syd.)

Wolseley Stories

Cyclist, granola cruncher, awesome communicator and author Laina Hughes has collected tales from one of Winnipeg's most storied communities. From the amusement park that used to fill the neighbourhood to women defending an ancient tree, it's a great look into what turns a street into a home.

Penetrator: Extended Play

Hair metal didn't die. Hair metal will never die. (Guitar drops from ceiling.)

Fauves | West

Haunter lead singer Matt Williams has released a concept EP, with each song following a woman's journey to cities across western Canada. Bonus: a portion of each purchase will go to the West Central Women's Resource Centre.

Northfield: Poems for Cigarettes

Guitarist Mark Schram, bassist Steve Kesselman and poet Steve Currie weave tremendous work of pain and beauty. Warning - this music will break your heart.

Late Bloomers

Kristy Hoffman's collections of stories gathered from the trials of female adolescences was the most provocative content of the IPPPs. And she earned every bit of it. Check out the launch of her book on April 3 at McNally Robinson.

Lazer Beam Love Box

A graphic novel about a girl who can shoot lazers from between her legs. Brilliant, but what less would you expect from CreComm's Courtney Brecht (aka Coco Moloko).

Threads of Hope

Jackie Doming created a line of urban clothing (as well as a marathon of events) to raise money for the Children's Wish Foundation. Maybe you missed the concert and bake sales, but you can still grab some of her stellar clothing (I have the t-shirt, I know whence I speak).


There are more projects just crossing the line to the point where you can pick up you copy. Plus, many of the final products are completely free and online. Check out the IPPP blog to see them all.


Creative Communications is rapidly wrapping and I'm pounding the pavement for work, If it interests you, surf on over to my online professional portfolio and check out what two years of shenanigans will produce.

When I look back on what I've accomplished, I'm deeply grateful — for the opportunity, for the company I've kept and for the supporting friends and family who got me in (and through) the program.

If there's something good in this work, it's all your fault.

Thank you.

PS: The site is a work in progress. Any feedback you have is appreciated.

March 16, 2013

Partner shot in the face

Tomorrow is the 1001 Donations Telethon at the Winnipeg Humane Society. I'm co-executive producing the day, so I've had a sneak peak at some of the deeply moving stories that will be on Shaw from 11am to 8pm.

Stories such as Partner's recovery from being shot in the face.

I've seen this story a few times and it still chokes me up. Producing this telethon, I thought I would come away from each story and visit to the WHS depressed. And while there have been moments of anger and darkness, I've never walked away feeling defeated thanks to the passionate staff and volunteers.

And the resiliency of animals who refuse to hold grudges.

Tune in. Make a donation if you can. Thanks.

March 14, 2013

Readin' Writin' and Representin'


On a certain someone's insistence, I read five pages of fiction before going to bed the other day, rather than my usual nightcap of Twitter and blog posts. Holy glob, did I find out how much I miss reading for pleasure. Soon my beloved novels, novellas, poems and essays, soon we'll be reunited and spend the day lying in bed.
(And if you haven't read the Piano Man's Daughter, fix that situation. That Canada produced an author like Timothy Findley alone makes it a great country).


Deadlines may gang up on me, but there's a deep deep pleasure in doing the freelance journalism/writing beat - mostly because I get to bring attention to notable things and people in my community. The recent wordsmithing includes...

Artist Jordan Miller sells work to the province
Dropping revenue prompts Winnipeg Film Group to consider relocation


Tomorrow morning I'm giving my final report on Heartbeat at the Winnipeg Convention Centre as part of the 2013 CreComm Independent Professional Project Presentations. The first two days have been stellar and my classmates have raised the bar (curse them). I'm on at 9am. You can watch it live, since the technical gurus of are streaming it here.

March 9, 2013

Update from the front / MTYP Board Chair interview

In CreComm land, the four nations (Public Relations, Advertising, Journalism and Media Production) are hustling toward major project presentations at the Winnipeg Convention Centre this coming week. You're very welcome to attend and see some absolutely outstanding work from up-and-coming communicators — from tea parties that raised $30K for eating disorders to documentaries on beer league hockey to silly little radio shows.

The public relations and advertising majors just finished their alchemical experiments, combining their two disciplines to produce three dynamite integrated marketing campaigns for FriendMatch, a platonic friendship-making site. Thanks to my teammates — particularly Jaclyn Leskiw, for being the perfect team co-leader. Employers take note, she's an advertising triptych (knows what to say, who to say it to and why she's saying it).

Here's a wee taste of FriendMatch: The World is Friendlier than you Think.

While cobbling together these campaigns, the public relations majors have also been practicing hostile/aggressive media interviews (with Melanie Lee Lockhart bringin' the heat).

My friends in journalism grumble every now and then about "being handled" by PR people — getting explanations and redirections instead of juicy, controversial remarks. The flip side is, of course, aggressive, sensationalism-seeking journalists who've only had five minutes prep to grapple with complex, long-standing and often confidential issues.

As a freelance arts writer and a public relations major, I have a foot in both camps, so it's a fun discussion. Especially when worlds collide and a beloved member of my theatre community is "released" from the theatre she founded 30 years ago.

Here's the CBC Information Radio interview with Manitoba Theatre for Young People's Board Chair Gloria Koop after Artistic Director Leslee Silverman's contract was not renewed amid ongoing financial struggles.

Let's agree this isn't really a hostile interview. (Not like some of the take-no-prisoners flayings you can find online.) The questions are reasonable, the tone is polite. Marcy Markusa asks the questions Ms. Koop's audiences and key stakeholders must be asking.

Remembering there is a legal obligation to maintain confidentiality on some issues (and pretend you're neutral... which is hard...), you decide if the interview went well.

I'll see you in media training.

March 2, 2013

Building Red River College

I just snuck out for lunch the other day at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute - Red River College's latest downtown campus and a testament to the stellar results Winnipeg can hit when institutions, governments and businesses do a proper restoration.

The two guys above? They made it happen. You can read the profiles of Glenn Garbett (Project Manager) and Chris Sousa (Site Supervisor) over at Red River College's Going Places blog.

February 20, 2013

An unreasonable guide to Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright is better than your favourite musician.
Perhaps that’s an unreasonable statement. That’s okay. I’m not a reasonable man. I danced (or my arm-waving, seizuresque version of danced) when I snagged tickets to Wainwright’s March 2 concert at the West End Cultural Centre touring Come Home to Mama, her third studio album, released in 2012 in the wake of her mother’s death and son’s birth. I put “You Cheated Me” on repeat at the physio clinic I worked at, to the angst of muscle-mashed clients. I am not reasonable when it comes to Martha Wainwright.
So here’s why your favourite artists suck by comparison.
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February 19, 2013

Trainwreckiphilia and American Movie

Here's a taste of American Movie, the 1999 documentary by director Chris Smith following filmmaker Mark Borchardt on his years-long project to make a low-budget horror film.

The film won the Grand Jury prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Fest. The International Documentary Association named it one of the top 20 documentaries of all time. It is a massively entertaining film that had my doc class riveted (and laughing).

And it depresses the hell out of me.

I tend to write off shows about human train wrecks - documentaries or reality shows with casts of self-destructive, self-indulgent people careening toward relational, financial or chemical disaster.  I'll watch for five minutes — I admit it — because the bottom of the barrel is enormously entertaining.

"He's going to do whaaaaat? After drinking all that? Stahp, Rahn, stahhhhp!"

But these shows and movies get boring faster than studios can pump them out. Their stars don't want anything more than to be famous. Their ambitions stop at the Twitter-trending, sex-tape posting, gossip-column bar they've already stumbled over. Sigh. Yawn. Click.

I can't dismiss American Movie, though. Mark Borchardt may have a mullet, low self awareness, brutal social skills and a Midwest accent that could stop a train, but he also has a grand dream of making THE American movie. When he's rattling off shot lists and character motivations, he's staring past both the camera and his rust-coloured Milwaukee suburb, eyes fixed on the American dream.

That's the inspiring train wreck I can't stop thinking about. There's no chance this alcoholic, often depressed, confrontational, low-skilled father of three will reach the filmmaking success he craves. Here's a man who'll live life in the frustrating gap between his abilities and his dream.

That's depressing. And I think it's true for my life, too. It's true for anyone who wants a significant life. Because there is no grand, lasting significance to human existence. We're here on one planet in an infinite cosmos for the briefest flash of time. And then we're gone. You and I may have better social skills than Mark Borchardt but we've got roughly the same odds the impact of our lives will be felt 100 years from now.

You are Mark Borchardt. So am I.

And it's bumming me out. Or as he would say, "Not cool, man, Not cool."

February 11, 2013

Meet Winnipeg Transit's target audience

Tonight the PR mavens and masters of CreComm are buzzing as we wrap up mock briefing notes due at 8 in the a.m., sharpish. We're pretending to by City of Winnipeg communicators, advising the Winnipeg Transit on how to best explain upcoming changes to the fare collection system.

Remember: a key part of communicating effectively is understanding your target audience. Though it's possible (juuuuuuust possible) that your research will turn up the odd outlier.

February 9, 2013

Cat to English translations


Meow = Hello.
Meow = Get lost.
Meow = I have thrown up somewhere in the house.
Meow = Where has everyone gone? Why did you all abandon me!?!
Meow = I'm concerned the clock is slow; are you sure it's 4 am?
Meow = Feed me, hairless meatsack, for I teeter on the edge of starvation.
Meow = There is another goddamn cat in the yard!!!
Meow = Play with me or I'll cut you.
Meow = That floss was delicious.
Meow = This wet food is 'chicken in gravy', not 'turkey in gravy.' My soul has touched the abyss.
Meow = That nap was exHAUSTing. Better sleep it off.

February 8, 2013

I shall punish the earth

Valentine's Day PR

Poor Valentine's Day is annually overloaded with soundbytes, garish graphics and vulgar copy from anyone with a trinket to push. Forgive me, PR brethren, but you're beating Saint Valentine to a second death (perhaps less painful than his first).

But not every idea is dreadful - some do seem in the true spirit of Valentine's Day (Oh, there is a true spirit, ye cynics) instead of exploiting it. From the PR family's notoriously mixed bag, here are your Valentine's Headlines:

Lavalife Unearths the Secret Sexiness of Bold Women

End Your Relationship with Tobacco this Valentine's Day

Dove erects Valentine's Day tweet screen

The aphrodisiac pie (the secret ingredient is love... and bull testicle)

New Zealand radio station's controversial "Win a Divorce" contest