Category Archives: CoreLife

STACKS earns veteran actor Daytime Emmy nomination

Actor and comedian Mark Christopher Lawrence shines as the lead in his co-produced project, $TACK$ (STACKS) earning himself a 2021 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Daytime Fiction Program. Along with his Daytime Emmy nomination, he also received a nomination for a Regional Emmy for his work on The Flourish

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When you’re in it

Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be in it when we’ve gone through it. And sometimes when we’re in it we feel like we will never make it through.

When Halestorm released the 10th anniversary edition of their debut album last year, the band’s gale-force lead singer Lzzy Hale made an entry into her diary. She said it felt like she’s lived several lifetimes since the debut. She wrote about the hard times they went through together as a band. They were able to make it through those tough times. So I thought I would scrape up her words and share some of them with you here. If you’re a musician, there may be some inspiration in it for you. 

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The time my friend’s dad loaned me fifty dollars

In my younger years I always kept my eyes open for opportunities that would help me grow in my career and my personal life and expand my world view. But I didn’t always have the resources to go after the things that would help me advance professionally or move me up the social ladder.

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Cameroonian designer dresses Viola Davis for the Golden Globes

Award-winning actress Viola Davis, queen of drama on screens big and small, walked the red carpet at the 78th Golden Globe Awards on Feb. 28 wearing a custom-designed African print gown made by a Los Angeles-based Cameroonian designer. 

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‘You’re joshing me,’ student reacts to winning scholarship in surprise video call

Trent University student wins scholarship to study law.

I haven’t heard that phrase in decades but that’s what this student said in a surprise Zoom video call when she learned that she won a scholarship. Staff told her they had some follow-up questions to ask her as part of the application process as they were continuing to review the applications from students transitioning from high school to post-secondary education. Instead, they were actually planning to tell her that she was this year’s winner.

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Law firm tops up university scholarship with tech funds

If you’re interested in law and need some extra financial assistance, a Canadian law firm is offering a scholarship that could help. The firm is increasing the scholarship fund to help offset technology costs associated with studying during the pandemic. They even extended the application deadline.

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In 1989 a police officer pressed a gun to my nose in a routine traffic stop

Reflections on how I learned from that experience and have applied diversity to my businesses ever since 

Seeing the horrific George Floyd incident and the related protests, mayhem, and looting is bringing back a flood of emotions and memories.

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Atwood film gives us a glimpse of the ‘Handmaid’ author’s monumental life

Directors Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont spent two years jetting around the world trying to keep pace with the award-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale, to capture memorable moments of her monumental life for their documentary Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power.

Lang and Raymont help to break with the tradition of under-appreciating our high-achievers by shining a light on Atwood, her contribution to defining the Canadian literary identity, her impression on the northern geological mythology and her overall influence on our world view. The high-point is, she’s still around to appreciate it.

The filmmakers allow us to catch a glimpse of the quick-witted poet’s seldom-seen private life, as well as her public life. We see her traversing lakes and rivers, vacationing with her family, canoeing in Northern Ontario and again in Iceland, speaking in front of large audiences, sitting still to write the final chapters of her latest novel, visiting the set of The Handmaid’s Tale, and spending time with her late-partner Graeme Gibson. At times both worlds intertwine as in the case when she tours the world but takes on the role of caretaker to her husband as his dementia progresses.

Actress Tatiana Maslany recites poetry and prose at the outset of the film about Atwood’s life and career. Along with multiple clips from award shows, Atwood is inundated with accolades from long-time friends and colleagues, many of them prominent personalities themselves; poets, writers and broadcasters among them. We hear from her dear friend and former governor general of Canada, journalist Adrienne Clarkson and actress Sarah Polley, writer and producer of the big screen version of Atwood’s Alias Grace. We also meet Atwood’s ex-husband, and her former roommate from Harvard. We hear personal stories about her that we haven’t heard anywhere else, mixed in with footage from the archives.

“I never thought that I would be a popular writer. I only wanted to be a good one.”

Her work has won a long list of awards over the years, starting with her first book of poetry, The Circle Game (1964), written while she was still studying at Harvard and for which she was recognized with the Governor General’s Award. There would be many more awards, but Atwood’s popularity has risen to new heights since the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Her presence can create a frenzy in public, some of it political and controversial because of her ability to capture and reflect the crucial social issues of the times in her work. But mostly, fans are just excited to meet her wherever she goes. As an octogenarian with two million followers on Twitter, she has become a cultural phenomenon in her late years. But in earnest, Atwood says, “I never thought that I would be a popular writer. I only wanted to be a good one.”

We see recent footage of Atwood in Hay-on-Wyre, Wales, at the Hay Literary Festival where she is followed by a flock of silent “handmaidens” in full costume from head-to-toe. A cluster of red cloaks float in unison behind her, white bags slung low across their bodies, and their white bonnets keep them from seeing and their faces from being seen. It’s a walking tribute to Atwood, one that she couldn’t ignore. She kindly poses for pictures with them.

The Hay festival’s director thinks that Atwood’s popularity shows her relevance even more now, over 30 years after the novel was first released.

“Nobody figured out that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was really Harvard.”

The crew follows along as Atwood interacts with students in Chicago, visits pristine areas in Iceland, again in a canoe dipping oars into the cold water along the snow-banked shore, and on the nature path at the bird observatory she and Gibson established on Pelee Island in Ontario. The camera crew greets her when she pops out of her hotel in Amsterdam and they’re there to capture her chit-chats with admirers as she’s often recognized, and followed, even in the most unexpected places.

In a gallery in Amsterdam she is circled by a bookseller and his very adult son from Montreal in an art gallery. They immediately recognize and approach her. She interacts with them as if they were old acquaintances. They tell her stories of being at a number of her talks years before, ask for a photograph on their cellphone, and she says yes. One never knows what unkind things people will say about you on social media if you refuse them a photo or an autograph.

The film mixes the past and the present. The audience journeys along on what is essentially a tour to promote The Testaments, Atwood’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale. We go behind-the-scenes of the TV series where she hangs out with lead actress Elisabeth Moss on set. We attend rehearsals with Atwood for her role playing an assistant to Aunt Lydia where she practices slapping Moss’ character Offred in the back of the head with a good hand.

We eavesdrop on the conversation between Atwood and Moss as she describes her new book, which we now know as the 2019 co-winner of the Booker Prize, an award she shares with Bernardine Evaristo for Man, Woman, Other.

The Testaments has a more complicated structure than The Handmaid’s Tale,” Atwood tells Moss. “It doesn’t have a single narrator. One is a young girl growing up in Gilead, suitably attired,” as she shows her one of two cover images, not in the red we associate with the old Gilead but in a “vivid shade of spring green and on the back is someone from our culture in the future who looks quite different.”

… the inspiration and setting for The Handmaid’s Tale

It wasn’t necessarily the popularity of the television series that made her want to write a follow-up story. “What did it, of course, was Trump being elected,” she says, calmly. “Circumstances changed. What we thought was true wasn’t true anymore. It motivated me to write it the same way the arrival of the ’80s kicked off The Handmaid’s Tale, because everything started to go the other way around in the ‘80s.”

We follow her to meet with Ane Crabtree, the costume designer of the red robes worn in the movie, now worn by protesters for women’s rights around the world, and to Harvard, the inspiration and setting for The Handmaid’s Tale. Not only do we see the actual buildings that Atwood based the places on in the book, we get an exclusive tour of the campus accompanied by her Radcliffe College roommate from her days as a grad student there.

The book is set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a liberal, democratic town that had its roots in puritan theocracy, says Atwood. Still, “Nobody figured out that The Handmaid’s Tale was really Harvard.”

She walks around the campus pointing out locations in the book and adapted TV drama series. “Widener Library is the head of the secret service and the Harvard Coop is where you get automated prayers and the Brattle Theatre is where you …” She walks slowly along a stone path with her former roommate and gestures to an area where the bodies were hung, as opposed to where they were displayed, as if they were recounting a memory.

Toronto International Festival of Authors, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the film’s production company White Pine Pictures present the world premiere screening of Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Nov. 7, followed by an onstage conversation and audience Q&A session with Lang and Raymont. The film then goes to Amsterdam and the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto (Box office).

A slightly different version of this article was published on Medium.

Changed on Nov. 12, 2019, 8:10 p.m. to say: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, from Hot Docs Festival

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Moulin Rouge auditions dancers in Canada

One of the most famous cabarets in the world is looking to expand its troupe of dancers. The Moulin Rouge holds auditions in three Canadian cities this month in hopes of finding classically trained performers who can also dazzle audiences with their mastery of the French Cancan.

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Meet Good American co-founders Khloé Kardashian and Emma Grede

Get a chance to meet Khloé Kardashian and Emma Grede, co-founders of the inclusive, body-positive, fashion brand Good American. The two are making an appearance in Toronto on Wednesday to launch their clothing line at The Bay.

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