Monday, 29 July 2013

Hispter Word of the Week – Hariolate

I hope you managed to do more eating than groaking in the last week.  Here's a word that will help your inner hipster set trends.  Or avoid them.


v. -i. prophesy; tell fortunes. hariolation, n.

I wish I could hariolate.  It would be easier to choose bands that won't sell out and become mainstream.

Your turn!  Leave your sentences in the comment section!

Image source

 Source: Luciferous Logolepsy

Monday, 22 July 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Groak

I promise your inner hipster won't floccify this week's word.  I'm sure many of you are actually guilty of it!


v. - to watch people silently while they're eating, hoping they will ask you to join them

No matter how much Marion groaks, I'm not sharing my organic strawberries with her!

Your turn!  Leave your sentences in the comment section!

Image source

Monday, 15 July 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Floccify

Where are you estivating this year?  Here is a new word to impress your new friends.


v. - to consider worthless

I do not care for your opinions, Gigi. In fact, I floccify them.

Your turn!  Leave your sentences in the comment section!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Tea, scones and Devonshire cream with a little of ATUA on the side


Today I'm leaving for London for a well-deserved one month vacation.  ATUA should still be running as normal with interviews, reviews and Hipster words of the week posted on schedule.  I will try to plan Toolbox posts and maybe a few special UK posts but I may not have the time.  I wish you all are enjoying a wonderful summer!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Author Interview Series – Jim Burke + Giveaway!

Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Jim Burke, a playwright from Manchester UK now living in Montreal.  I took Mr. Burke's Creative writing class at Dawson last winter and it was a real pleasure.  I am honored to host such an accomplished writer on ATUA.


When did you start writing?  Was becoming a writer a dream you had since childhood or did it come later on?

I suppose my first serious attempts at writing were lyrics for a punk band I got involved in when I was about 19. Mercifully, I don’t remember any of the songs, and the world hasn’t remembered any of them either, although a Nick Cave type of thing I later wrote, using imagery from Jonah and the Whale, eventually evolved into a play called Bestiary which ended up on BBC Radio 4. My childhood dream was to become an actor or movie director, which is why I chose to do drama at University, but I soon got tired of making-like-a-tree-in-the-wind and gravitated towards writing scripts instead of acting in them. Actually, that “tree” reference might come over as a bit unfair, given that actors obviously go through an incredibly rigorous and multi-faceted training process. But it’s also true to say that my Road to Damascus moment of thinking “You know what? Maybe I’m more suited to writing” actually came when we were being asked to make-like-a-tree-in-the-wind. I have acted on and off since then, which hopefully helped with the playwriting process.

Painter Chuck Close Once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just shows up and gets to work." How do you "get to work?" Do you have any ritual or specific requirements to get the juices flowing?

Yes, that quote reminds me of another one, from William Faulkner : “I only write when I’m inspired. Fortunately I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” Would I had the discipline to be at my desk at 9am every morning. I have the habit of brainstorming all sorts of stuff on a project – thoughts, character studies, synopses, etc – in all kinds of locations, until the looming deadline impels me to just write the bloody thing. So far, it seems to have gotten results, but that way madness sometimes lies. Often, inspiration does come like the proverbial shaft of lightning, and you can spend days wandering around blissfully thinking what a wonderful idea it’s going to make for a play, or a scene, or a moment of stage action. The hard graft comes with knuckling down to make it actually work on paper. This can be a long, frustrating, blood-sweating business as you wrestle mere words into some kind of correspondence to that original bright, shining vision. Sometimes you get there, sometimes you get tantalisingly close, more often you’re left with a faint echo of it which will just have to do. But, yes, you have to show up to work again and again, just to have a shot at it.

Are you working on a new play at the moment? Do you have a play coming up on stage soon?

I’m currently writing a play called The Angel of Hearth and Home, thanks to a Canada Arts Council grant. It’s free-wheelingly based on the absurd and tragi-comic figure known as Lord Haw-Haw who was hanged for broadcasting all kinds of slimy stuff for the Nazis right to the end of the war. Largely forgotten now, he was, at the time, second only to Churchill as the most recognized voice on the radio. It’s not a biodrama as such - in his last ignominious hours propagandizing for the Nazis, Lord Haw Haw seemed to go into full-blown delusional meltdown (much like that other uber-creep at the next bunker along), which offers the opportunity to create a dramatic situation that isn’t too limited by reality or historical fact. The title comes from a surrealist painting by Max Ernst which shows a monstrous figure sweeping over the landscape, which struck me as an effective image for the then relatively new phenomenon of broadcast propaganda bouncing around the world’s airwaves.

A possibility for the stage later this year is a production of my one-man adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground which was recently work-shopped at the Shaw Festival. The director of that workshop, Paul Van Dyck, is interested in directing and performing it here in Montreal.

What would be your dream project?

Speaking of Dostoyevsky, that would have to be an adaptation of his The Possessed (also known as Demons or The Devils). I’ve been working on this one on and off for years, but it’s such a huge project, I’d need a good sustained run at it over a longer period than I can currently manage. I’d also like to do a revival of my adaptation of Moby Dick, which did pretty well in the UK. It’s a highly physical piece with four performers playing over forty parts (including sharks and the sea itself). Any takers? Right now, though, I have about nine dream projects swirling around my head, and I’m taking the summer to think about which ones I lasso first.

What is the one advice you would like to share with aspiring writers?

Stop aspiring. Write.

Massotherapist and yoga instructor Christine Guenette interviewed two weeks ago would like to know "How challenging is it to be in English theater in a province where the English/French battles never die?"

As far as theatre goes, there really do seem to be Two Solitudes. When I first arrived in Montreal (in 2006), it seemed from conversations I had that one side was pretty much unaware, or interested, in what was going on with the other. Maybe that’s the way things look superficially. Increasingly, there seem to be a lot of efforts by the French and English theatres to be on much more than nodding terms, with more bilingual plays, surtitles, translations, etc. As far as being an English playwright, I’ve found it’s rather worked to my advantage compared to working in England. I’m not necessarily a big fish and Montreal certainly isn’t a little pond, but it’s true to say that you can get lost in the sheer volume of theatre (and theatres) in England, whereas here it’s much easier to make the acquaintance of people in the business and get them to seriously consider your work. In England, it sometimes felt like trying to get an audience with the Pope. I’ve been lucky to get the attention of one or two highly influential figures in Montreal’s Anglo theatre scene, which has guaranteed a serious look over my efforts which has then led to productions. (Not insignificant in this has been the help of Playwrights Workshop Montreal) Maybe a downside of the relatively modest size of Montreal’s Anglo theatre scene, though, is that space on the boards is pretty limited and you really aren’t going to get filthy rich, or even keep the wolves from the door, even if you get regular work. But that’s theatre, I suppose. Maybe if only I’d thought, while pretending to be a tree that time, “you know what, maybe I’m more suited to accountancy...”

Our next featured guest will be a young man who quit his little Ontario village to become a swing dance instructor in Montreal; what question would you like to ask him?

If you were confronted by a student who seemed to have absolutely no sense of rhythm, was horribly self-conscious, and danced like an embarrassing dad at a wedding, would you see him as a challenge to be met, or would you politely suggest that dancing might not really be for him.

Jim Burke is a playwright originally from Manchester, England. Amongst his plays are Cornered and an adaptation of Moby Dick, both of which won Best New Play in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards. He has had several plays produced on BBC Radio. Source


Since Mr. Burke doesn't have any play in theater at the moment, this giveaway will be a little bit different.  I will be visiting the UK next week and since Mr. Burke is from England and a playwright, I will offer the winner of the giveaway a little something from the Globe theater in London.  I will ship it directly from across the pond to you.  To enter the giveaway, leave a question for Mr. Burke to answer.  Whoever asks the best question wins!  You have until Tuesday July 16th 11:59 ET to enter.  Don't miss your chance!


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Review Wednesday – The Yard – Alex Grecian

A few months after the ghastly murders of Jack the Ripper, the madman is still at large and London's trust in its police force is at an all-time low.  Inspector Day, a constable from Devon, had just joined the Yard's Murder squad only to be put in charge of leading the investigation of the violent murder of one of his peers.  With no time to question his ability to solve such a horrible murder, Day has no choice but to take the plunge.

The Yard is Grecian's first novel yet it contains none of the frequent errors you see in first publications.  His narrative is strong, the plot moves forward at a great pace and there are no plot holes.  In fact, the novel ends with no loose ends, all the different subplots eventually connecting to the main story with clockwork precision.  The author's use of flashbacks (titled Interlude) is brilliant and every both information provided proves useful.  The writing flows and there is never any confusion.  At first, I was a bit disappointed that we got to see from the bad guy's point of view (although we still didn't know who he was) but as the story went along, the opposition came to represent a dichotomy, the pulling and pushing of the forces good and evil.

The characters are extremely well constructed.  They each have a distinct voice and personality and can't be confused with one another.  The use of the different forms of speach to represent the different social classes was dead on and light enough that it didn't hinder the comprehension.  Inspector Day and Inspector Blacker were two great characters, their experiences and personalities completing each other perfectly.  I also got attached to Dr. Kingsley and his new forensic methods.  But my favourite character was undeniably Constable Hammersmith.  His devotion and courage made him more attractive to me than constable Pringle, who was a dandy.

I have to say that reading The Yard reminded me of The BBC's series Ripper Street.  In my head, I immediately cast Inspector Day as Matthew MacFadyen and saw the Yard's headquarters as the one from the series.  I think this serves to prove that Grecian's descriptions were great.

I think the only negative thing I have to say about the book is that it didn't use Inspector Day's wife to her full potential.  She was somewhat involved in the investigation but I would have liked it to be bigger.  This, however, doesn't diminish the awesomeness of the book at all.

I really wish they'd make a movie out of the book and I will definitely pick up the next one in the series, Black Country.


As I was reading, I wondered why the London police force was called Scotland Yard.  I looked it up and it seems that this metonym for the London Metropolitan Police comes from the location of its first headquarters.  From the 10th to the 12th century, the king of Scotland was required to come to London to show its subornation.  The plot of land on which his residence was built came to be called Scotland Yard and the street off it was named Great Scotland Yard after it.  When the police moved their headquarters there, the name stuck. The more you know!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Estivate

Did you manage to teach your inner hipster last week's devenustate?  Not a very useful word, I guess, but that's the point of having a hispster vocabulary, isn't it?


v. - to spend the summer

Stephanie is so lucky, she's going to estivate in the UK.

Your turn!  Leave your sentences in the comment section!

Image source

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Dreamers Interview Series – Christine Guenette – Giveaway winner and answers

Today I'm very happy to announce the giveway winner for massotherapist and yoga instructor Christine Guenette's interview.   But first, let's see the answers to your questions.  A big thank you to Christine for the time she invested in this project!

Catherine asked:
What is the most precious thing yoga brought you? After all, many people do yoga simply to follow trends, but yoga is much more for you, so I wonder. What did you see in yoga? Or what did yoga show you, that was so special?
Yoga has brought me to a wonderful community of people on a path of self work. Within the classrooms full of people following trends, looking for sexier bodies and a good workout, there is this undertone of knowing there is more to this thing called life and we all have the opportunity to discover it if we stop spinning, sit still, and pay attention. I have met people with deep meditation practices, others who have strong views on diet and sustainable agriculture, others who study and expose the commercialism of yoga and it's art form and countless others who are simply open to feeling better in body, mind and spirit and return to their mats time and again for that taste of something more.

I have made some amazing friends within this community. I have met countless warriors that I admire and look up to. Some people I have not become close to but I know I can count on their consistency and presence to help support and uplift my own experience.

For me, yoga has been an exercise in body, a gift in community and a window to a more meaningful existence.
Dave asked:
What's the next step/stage in your entrepreneurial evolution?

As The Nest is still young, the next stage is to increase our volume. I'd like to reach a place where the one room is so busy that people need to make their appointments in advance by a few days.
As a yoga teacher, I am going to be pursing some additional training. This summer I will be taking a Yoga Therapeutics training which I think will compliment my massage therapy nicely. And I may even be doing a second 200 hour teaching training next year!
Dominique asked:

Can you describe in words how you feel when you do yoga and/or give a massage? How does it affect you physically but mostly, spiritually? This is a world about which I know very little, so it was an enjoyable read.

I'll reply to this in two parts, as giving massages and teaching yoga are very different experiences for me.
I have often said that when I give a massage I fall in love with my client during the process. (Obviously I'm not saying this romantically or sexually). There is something about having someone remove their clothes, close their eyes and offer me their trust to now take good honest care of them that leaves me so grateful and moved. During the massage I learn intimate things about them, like where it hurts, or where it feels extra yummy. The affect on me from a massage is very individual. I am a firm believer in energy (chakras, chi, prana, whatever name you give it). Depending on where the client is at, will greatly affect how I feel physically during and after a massage. If a client is exhausted, stressed, and/or emotionally worn out, I will most often walk away feeling drained and tired. If they are energetic and happy I walk away feeling light! Of course it also depends on how the massage goes for them. If they come in stressed, but during the massage lose their anxiety, that too can leave me feeling energized.

When I teach yoga, I feel like something magical happens. My teacher often said she felt like Grace moved through her when she taught. I understand what she means now! When I get into a class, the words are not my own, the flow is divinely inspired, I get into a zone and the time FLYS by me! I have so much fun teaching! And every class is different. I may have the same basic class plan for a week but after teaching it ten times to different class sizes, different people, different times of day etc no class was ever the same. My favourite part of teaching yoga is talking with the students afterwards. I welcome the feedback and love talking about poses they found challenging. Every time I get a compliment it makes my day - I never let a compliment go unnoticed. I feel eternally grateful that I can do this for a living!!!!
And the winner of the giveaway is... Dominique!  To claim your prize, make an appointment with Christine.  You can find her contact information on her facebook page.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review Wednesday – Dan Brown's Inferno

Inferno by Dan Brown, the fourth volume of the Robert Langdon series, opens with an amnesic Robert who needs to flee the hospital to avoid getting killed by a hired gun.  Helped by Dr Sienna Brooks, he barely escapes only to find himself in the midst of a crisis: a plague that will annihilate one third of the population of the world is to be released in 24h and the only way to stop it is to solve the puzzle left by a madman.  Will Robert’s knowledge of Dante’s Inferno serve him well enough to prevent this disaster? 

I’ve always liked the Robert Langdon series; they remind me of the Indiana Jones movies.  However I must admit that so far, the format had been pretty repetitive and linear.  That didn’t bother me, but it made the books slightly predictable.  In Inferno, however, Brown took a completely different approach by throwing us right into the action.  Just as Langdon, we have no way of knowing what happened and have no option but to go forward.

I really enjoyed the fact that all the action happened within 24h.  It made for a great pace.  Of course, as usual, many passages contain explanations of the Dante symbology, which slow down the action. However, it would be difficult to remove them because the reader would have no way of understanding Langdon’s deductions.  I love learning while reading so I personally enjoy this.  Plus, I feel this is Brown’s signature.  To add to this, because of the structure of the story, there is a lot of exposition through flashbacks.  This weighs down the narrative a bit but it didn’t really bother me.  I guess Dan Brown makes it works.  I’m not sure a new writer without a reputation could pull it off, though.  Chances are an editor wouldn’t want to take the chance to publish something that heavy.

As always, Robert was a lovable character.  I definitely saw Tom Hanks in my mind and let’s be honest, who doesn’t think Hanks looks like a nice guy?  As for Sienna, she was a great pairing for the professor; her superior intellect got them out of situations Robert couldn’t have.  What I really enjoyed was how, aside from Robert, the motivations and intents of the other characters were never what they seemed to me.  Brown tricks the reader into believing one thing, then another, making us as confused as his main character.

The ending really surprised me and pleased me very much.  It was unexpected and very different from the endings of the previous book.  I recommend the book without hesitation.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Devenustate

We're back again this week to help your inner hispter's knowledge of obscure words coruscate.


v. - to deprive of beauty

Beauty is so mainstream.  I believe art ought to be devenustated.

Your turn!  Leave your sentences in the comment section!