Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend in Powellywood

Through a fortunate set of circumstances, we spent the weekend at a film festival in beautiful Powell River, B.C.

Best of all, we were guests at the festival, with everything from film passes and accommodation to food and even the cost of ferries included.

It’s clear that the Powell River Film Festival, established in 2002, is a community-based event, with oodles of volunteers working various aspects of the festival. A raft of sponsors were credited, most of them local businesses. It was good to know who these were, as it was that much easier to pull out the plastic and buy goods from them while we were in town.

The films were shown at the historic Patricia Theatre, claimed by many to be the oldest continuously operating theatre in Canada. 

While the range of films scheduled was excellent, with foreign films, documentaries and locally produced efforts being shown, my favourite was the indie film, Breakfast with Curtis. To my mind, it’s the 2012 equivalent of Harold and Maude

Not that it’s a romance; it isn’t. It’s more about community. And if the community portrayed is offbeat, there’s much to be said for the way a group of such different people can respect and enjoy each other. The film reminds how important it is to live fully. And really, I don’t think you can walk away from it without feeling better than you did going in.

But the Festival offered more than just an array of terrific films. A mosaic of arts was on display at Dwight Hall, another of the buildings in Powell River's Historic Townsite. There were quilts, live music, paintings and prints. Food and drink as well as cultural and information booths were also there. Several displays brought my attention to the importance of community in Powell River. This is definitely a town that’s moving in many positive directions.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the festival was its focus on youth. In addition to hosting a weekend film camp for young filmmakers, they sponsored a province-wide competition for 5-minute films. I attended the very classy awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Prizes included scholarships to the Gulf Islands Film School, swag from many businesses and organizations, including the NFB. These ‘Bests’ were given, much as the Oscars are, for editing, writing, sound design, camera work, animation, drama and documentary.

As for the supposed ‘real thing’ from Hollywood last night, with its tasteless jokes and whiff of fixing, I prefer my memories from the little festival that could.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Isn't today supposed to be a holiday?

The long-promised February holiday, at that.

For years, the people of BC have been lagging behind the rest of Canada, waiting for that long weekend break that would mark the almost-halfway point between Christmas and Easter.

When the holiday was first proposed, a lonnnng time ago, it was suggested that the day coincide with designating the Maple Leaf as the emblem for our flag. Since that was first made official on February 15, 1965, the date suggested was the third Monday in this, the shortest (even though it often feels the longest) month.

Although many Canadian provinces and territories now have a February holiday, nobody calls it Flag Day. While that's fine with me -- face it, it sounds way too patriotic -- it is a bit odd that there are so many different names for the February observance.

In Prince Edward Island it's called Islander Day. Straightforward and to the point, very PEI'ish.

Manitoba celebrates an important figure from its history by naming their holiday Louis Riel Day.

The Yukon does things its own way and not only has its own name for the day, but its own day. They celebrate on the last Friday of the month, so this year's Heritage Day turns out to be February 22nd. I'm thinking a Friday holiday sounds like more fun than a Monday one. After all, did you ever hear anyone say TGIM?

About the only consistent name for this holiday is Family Day, the term it's known by in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

And this year we in BC get added to the list of those celebrating Family Day. But while the rest of the provinces get their holiday today, the third Monday in the month, we had ours all on our own last week. What the heck is that about?

We know that Christy Clark doesn't always see eye-to-eye with the other premiers, but really, does her personal 'drum' have to dictate its beat to the rest of us?

Or is this date to commemorate our expen$ive Olympics from 2010 which opened the second weekend in February? If that really is the case, you'd think -- especially with the financial woes her party keeps trying to explain away -- Clark would have quietly gone along with the rest of the country and chosen the third weekend too.

Happy Family Day today to most of Canada.

Monday, February 11, 2013

There's no iron in irony

And now there's no iron in the Monopoly set. The little metal token has been removed by a forum on that most faceless of juries, Facebook.

What has been lost seems more than just a piece of metal (or, as is likely in some of the newer sets, plastic). It's the loss of a piece that was in the illustrations for the game's official patent in 1935. Of course, as so often seems to be the case, a version of the game had already been around for several decades -- one that had been invented by a woman. Still, the game most of us know goes back to that one invented in the depths of the Great Depression and served as a pastime for dreamers, with visions of getting rich.

Although there are websites refuting the idea that the Monopoly tokens might have had any particular significance, I can't help but think they probably did. The thimble? Dressmakers and tailors. The cannon/artillery, the military. The hat? Since it's the same as the one on the head of Mr Monopoly, the character associated with the game, let's say that personifies the entrepreneur. The ship? Transportation. The shoe? This one's probably the trickiest. Athletes didn't yet get anything like today's big bucks, so that was hardly one of the main streams of employment. My guess is it might have been a good stand-in for those in sales. During the Depression, they must have gone through many a pair of shoes.

But back to the humble handiron. Surely, it stands for the realm of the domestic. The world of steady work that goes on in the home -- work for mostly no pay. Could that be why it's undervalued enough to now be voted out of the mix?

Yes, other tokens have changed over the years. There've been race cars, with and without driver inside. Rocking horse, rising horse (a la Roy Rogers' Trigger), lantern and purse. Oh yes, the little Scotty dog. Again, another connection to Mr Monopoly -- supposedly his dog.

And now, we get a cat. Hmm. I am stumped as to what significance this might bring. Don't get me wrong, I love kitties as much as anyone. I just don't see them as representative of any occupation. Hunters? Sleepers? Royalty? Perhaps. Or maybe the all-too-many who are under- or un-employed.

Maybe this is more than just a loss of trinket that served as token in a board game. Maybe it says something -- not about losing a sense of irony (that's supposedly been dead for years now) -- but about losing a sense of the meanings behind things, about losing a sense of symbol. And considering that symbol is the basis of art and even language, that's not a loss to take lightly.

PS The delightful fence of antiques in the photo has since been replaced by a boringly white picket one. And as far as I know, they didn't even take a poll on Facebook.

Monday, February 04, 2013

So, where do the pennies go now?

Will they go to heaven? After all, according to the song, that's supposedly where they came from.

But, what to do with the ones left in pockets, jars, the bottoms of old purses?

Word is that they'll be collected and melted down, but gosh, I'm trying to think of something more creative than just rolling them into tubes and taking them to the bank. Some kind of craZy coppery mosaic? Chunky necklaces or bracelets, an inset for a ring?? Experiments to get flattened on the railway tracks?

I can't help but be at least a little bit nostalgic. Playing cards with my Gramma for pennies. Collecting pennies in a quart-size glass milk bottle. All those phrases: penny for your thoughts, penny-ante, penny stocks, a bad penny. And what, if they still had them, would you put inside the flap of your penny loafers?

Oh, the sensory images they conjure...though I suppose if you never put a penny into your mouth, you might not understand. Really, could anything taste dirtier (or probably be ) dirtier than a penny? All those hands they'd have passed through. Even the sweaty smell of them conjures unpleasantness.

As of today, we're apparently not using them anymore. Strange, but when I ran my errands, the guy at the counter happily took the 4 cents portion of what I owed in pennies, didn't round it up and ask for a nickel instead.

And apparently nickels are next in line to go.

Who knows, maybe we'll all soon be stuck in the looney-only bin.