Expanding On My Happy List

As always, I have a lot on my mind, and today I’m not entirely sure what I feel like talking about here, so I was thinking I’d expound upon some of my happy list from yesterday.

  • getting people to talk about their passions
      • The Mind Reels was initially started because we realized that no one was really talking about the things we loved (as far as TV and movies and the like), so we decided to talk about them ourselves. That quickly turned to podcasting, because talking is faster than writing, sometimes. And within weeks we were conducting our first actual interview with a film director! I think that was the start of things changing for us, because that director (Jeremy Lalonde) hooked us up with interviews for some of his cast, and one of them (the wonderful Mary Krohnert) put us in touch with Lost Girl cast member, Rick Howland. From there, we spent much of our time pursuing interviews with people we wanted to talk to, who were creating the content we love.
      • I’m not sure when it happened, exactly, but at some point, interviews started coming to us. This was different in that it was often for projects and/or people that we might never had been made aware of otherwise. That new aspect added an additional level of excitement to each interview, because not only did it expand on our awareness of content we might enjoy, but it also gave us the opportunity to create a casual, comfortable and fun atmosphere for our guests, which allowed them to open up more about their passions in general. Instead of just asking the same rote questions that go hand-in-hand with every industry interview, we started getting people to talk about themselves, as well as their projects, and that’s made all the difference, I find.
      • I love the way a person will light up when they talk about the things they love, things that interest them, and things that challenge them to be more. It brings out a side of a person that is among the best of human qualities (and we really don’t have very many, so I treasure the ones I find), and that I play a part in bringing that part of them to light makes me feel kinda special, too.
  • being around non-human animals
      • I mean, there is just something so pure about non-humans. Not always “good”, I guess, but it’s like they are on a whole different level from us. They aren’t calculating which foot to put forward, which face to wear, nor do they edit what they communicate in the hopes of not offending anyone’s delicate sensibilities. If my cat, Kate, didn’t like you, she had no qualms about peeing on your shoe. There’s no fake-ness with animals – if you are paying attention and taking the time to know and understand them, you know exactly where you stand. You also learn not to put what you think they are thinking ahead of what they are actually thinking; you learn to admit that you don’t know. At least I do. I admit I don’t know much at all, but I feel like that leaves me more open to learning, as compared to some people who think they know more than they actually do.
      • Anyway, for me, one of the things I love about being around animals – aside from all the love itself that they sometimes give out – is that I don’t have to pretend, either. I just have to show up and be present, and they expect very little from me beyond that. Actually, some don’t even expect that much. Some just want to be fed, and some just want to be left alone. To be able to inhabit a space with another individual who asks you for nothing is really quite liberating. I get to be in their presence, I get to be myself, and things can just be quiet for a while. That they usually don’t care whether I am there or not is also quite humbling. It’s a good reminder that we are not always the shit. We go through our lives looking for validation and attention and for others to just see us and recognize that we are there – we want to be seen. Other animals, for the most part, really don’t give a crap about such seemingly superficial needs. They just are, and the idea that there are times when I can just be, as well, is incredibly appealing to me.

That’s it for now, as I have to get back to work. Maybe I’ll cover some of the other stuff tomorrow.

Oh, and just because it’s still cool to me (and falls nicely into my own personal quest for attention and validation), it was one year ago today that my status as a Guinness World Record holder was posted on the GWR website, and we went public with the announcement of our success!

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Frustration, Money-Hating, and Coming Up

Feeling a tad over-stimulated today, on top of not having had enough sleep last night. Like, less sleep than usual. There’s, like, three different pieces of music playing nearby, and I can hear all three at once. The person whose sales I am supposed to be coordinating hasn’t come to work yet this week, so I am flying solo and trying to stay under the radar while just keeping afloat as much as possible. It’s frustrating because I don’t have access to all of the information I need to be effective, among other things, but I’m doing my best. Maybe next week will go better.

Found out Roseanne is coming to Toronto for Just For Laughs!!!

I can’t even begin to express how excited I am by this news, nor how much I would love to see her in person. I decided immediately to just buy a ticket and go by myself, just in case it’s not anyone else’s cup of tea. I totally get it, and I’m not even the hugest fan of her stand-up, nor of some of her politics/opinions, but I still adore her overall and her sitcom meant more to me than I know how to say. Man, I loved the Connor family! Damn.

Also found out there are lion cubs at Jungle Cat World right now, so naturally I want to go pet one, along with other critters available to interact with. But I’ve also had my eye on the Keeper For A Day program at the Toronto Zoo. I really want to do that…and in more than one area, so I want to do it more than once. More than twice, even. haha

And Jays games. I’ve only been to one so far this season…and it’s just occurred to me that I don’t think we ever sorted out the ticket price vs beer/food consumed after. Maybe I’ll just buy the next round of tickets and we’ll call it even again.

Anyway, I hate money. And having too much on my mind. And being tired.

There is a slight chance that we may get the Mind Reels going more consistently again. We’re talking with our producer today about meeting up for a strategy session next week to determine next steps and perhaps learn more about how we can get episodes posted ourselves more quickly and regularly. That would be a good thing. I really like doing the interview/chat thing. Since late last year, though, I’ve been feeling like everything has just ground to a halt, and getting it going again is a little like pulling teeth. I haven’t even been trying to line up interviews lately because I don’t feel I can guarantee it’ll happen without the rest of the team on board. Hopefully we’ll at least decide to do it or stop doing it, and then take it from there. But I think even just talking about it will get people excited again, and we’ll start moving forward once more.

The crazy thing is how we could probably be excelling at it, in some regard. Even during Hot Docs, some of the PR people who had never seen us interview folks before were so impressed with how we made the guests feel at ease right away, and how we could get everyone laughing and having a good time long before the “interview” was over. At the same time, we give them a space to talk about and promote their passion, and everyone gets to enjoy the end result. People usually end up enjoying their time as our guests, and viewers often end up liking to watch our guests, even the ones they know nothing about. Not every interview show has that kind of easy feel, I don’t think.

We’re easy. Haha

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. I’m sure we won’t decide to stop doing it at our meeting next week, but I do want us to stop talking at some point and actually start doing. That’s been a huge factor from the beginning…we talk about a lot of things, have a lot of ideas, and even start implementing some of them. But until we start committing to doing what needs to be done, we’re just going to keep resting on our laurels and nothing will ever change. It’s easy to get excited when talking about doing stuff, but actually settling into doing those things takes a whole different kind of excitement. It takes one that lasts, and the commitment to see tasks through.

Oh! I think I am going to become a volunteer at a local place that deals with animals soon! I have an orientation session at the end of the month, and that will help me decide if I want to do it regularly, or if I am even suited to it. It’s mostly just cleaning up poo and the like, but there’s animals!!! I received the Starter Handbook thingy last night and learned a few things about the place that I hadn’t known before, too, and that got me even more excited to give it all a try. I don’t know how much actual contact I’ll have with the animals themselves, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the zoo, it’s that just being around them is highly therapeutic. Also, NO PUBLIC. Being around animals, staff and other volunteers sounds pretty perfect to me, despite all the poo. We’ll see how the orientation session and my first shift goes, and take it from there. More details to follow later! 🙂

Interviews Yesterday

Sometimes I put off eating my lunch so I can think of something to write about. When I am at work, anyway, because I use my lunch break to write, usually.

I am hungry, though, and can’t think of anything specific I want to say except that I am hella tired, so I’ll talk about my evening yesterday and that’ll help explain why I’m even more tired today.

I was already pretty exhausted and rundown yesterday, but was able to leave work early and go chat in the studio for the first time in ages. Our guests were two lovely ladies from Dark Matter – one I sort of already knew, and one I’d only met briefly before during Comicon in March. I was ridiculously excited to see them and knew that their friendship alone would mean that there would be a ton of energy and laughter during our conversation.

Then I found out – basically right before they arrived – that we were also going live for the first time in…I don’t even know how long. That added an extra level of fun because some people were watching and interacting with us on Twitter as we were recording. Sometimes it not only added to the conversation, but also sort of directed its flow, too. It was very cool, and I always love when things happen more organically like that.

As well, we were of course silly and joked around a lot, as we do, but we also had some pretty amazing conversations about things that just sort of came up. Our “interviews” pretty much always turn into more of a conversation than anything else, but this one was even more so. The girls asked us questions, too, which led to opinions and thoughts being shared on some really interesting topics. Things like race and gender as portrayed on television and in film – and asked for specifically during the casting process, or character development, how series and films are marketed to the public, and how they are received by said public around the world. There were comparisons between Canada, the US and the UK, and the kind of content each produce, as well as my general dislike of the phrase “strong female character”. I can’t even remember everything right now, just that my mind was still working some things out last night, and apparently overnight, because I had some kind of weird and involved dreams.

It was all very engaging, and entertaining (at least for us), and had me feeling all energized and wired by the time we left to go do Hot Docs interviews. Which we almost had to rush for, because we’d also all completely lost track of time! Usually we try to go about a half hour to 40 minutes as the “long version”, which gets posted on iTunes as an audio file later. Then we follow with a 10-15 minute sort of recap, but slightly more focused, and that gets posted on YouTube as a video file. This time, though, we realized at just over an hour that we should probably wrap it up and get our butts in gear so we wouldn’t be late for the Hot Docs side of things!

As if that wasn’t amazing enough, we ended up having two incredible (though much shorter) conversations with the people we spoke to about their respective films after! Up first was the one I’ve been looking forward to from the start, with the subject and one of the directors of the film, Wizard Mode. I was only about two minutes into the screener when I texted Tim to tell him I already loved the young subject, pinball champion Robert Gagno. Robert has the sweetest smile ever, is very introspective and eloquent with the thoughts he chooses to share, and obviously a badass pinball master. He’s also on the Autism spectrum, which makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. But the pinball aspect wasn’t what sold me on the film overall. It was Robert himself. It was his eyes, and his smile, and his curly hair – and most of all it was how much he had to say. Not to mention how much of it was relateable for me. It was how young he is, and how hard he tries to express himself, and how incredibly good he is at it. So many of the things he talked about in the film, I felt I could really relate to and understand – and I was kind of shocked at how much better he is at expressing some of that stuff than I am. He kid’s, like, what – 20-something? And so introspective and self-aware that it puts most of us to shame, really. I guess that comes from existing so much inside your own head, but still.

Getting to shake his hand and look him in the eye and talk to him was pretty awesome on its own, but even better was watching him light up every time he talked about pinball. I love watching people express their passion for something, even if I don’t share it. I mean, I could have challenged Robert to a game of pinball, but it would be like him playing against, say, a tree. No contest. But man, I’d love to watch him play in person. Even on film it’s amazing. I can’t even imagine being there to see it live.

I feel like, for me – and this comes from someone who knows next to nothing about living on the spectrum – the very coolest part of the whole block of time we got to spend with Robert was right near the end when he opted to tell us that he thought he might go out to eat after, because he was hungry. It’s just a little thing, but I felt like it was something personal he’d chosen to share with us. Every other time he spoke, he’d been prompted to, either by one of us or the director, Nathan Drillot. That statement, though, that was all Robert just deciding on his own that he wanted to tell us something, and since I get the feeling he doesn’t just randomly share with strangers all the time, it meant the most to me. It made me think he was at least a little more comfortable with us by that point than he was at the start, and I love that possibility.

Our last interview was about a film whose subject is so devastating to me we almost couldn’t talk about it without getting choked up. Homeless people and their dogs. I chose to leave Kate the Kitten behind in Colorado because I’d planned to couch surf and couldn’t take her along, and also because I thought it would just be for a few weeks. It took about five months to find a crappy apartment and get moved into it before I could have her flown back to Toronto, and it sucked pretty hardcore, I must say. Never want to have to do that again, any of it.

Now with three cats and a doggie counting on me to provide them with a home and food and love? I honestly don’t know what I would do. I am not sure I could live without them…give them up to someone else to look after. But I don’t know how I could live with myself if I made them remain homeless with me. Even now, I make sure I have enough food and stuff for them each month, and if I’m cutting things close financially, I’ll eat less, or more cheaply or go without anything I don’t really need. They come first, because they are my responsibility. But what if I really couldn’t provide food and shelter for any of us anymore? Would it be selfish to keep them with me? Or would it be selfish to leave them to be someone else’s responisbility and just focus on taking care of myself? Would they even thrive elsewhere? Flynn alone requires much more patience than most people would be willing to give, and she and Piper at least would have to stay together. The boys would probably be okay without me specifically, but not necessarily. I’m really the only person Jack’s ever known, because he’s been my baby boy since he was 9 weeks old. I don’t know what the better choice would be for them, and I’m the only one who could make it for them.

I can’t imagine what that choice would be like; what it would do to a person. I hope to never find out.

Stagnating

Hot Docs (Toronto’s amazing documentary film festival) is getting underway tonight, and yesterday evening, Tim and I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing some of the ladies responsible for the opening night film, The League of Exotique Dancers – director Rama Rau, and Legends of Burlesque Camille 2000 and Judith Stein.

Now, let’s face it, as soon as we heard we’d gotten this interview, Tim and I both knew it would be a lot of fun. What we couldn’t have predicted was exactly how amazing it would be! You can see our ridiculous chat with those wonderful women here.

Our second interview of the evening was also fun and amazing, but in a different way. The thing is, though, it made both of us want more. We left the hotel last night on an absolute high, having just spent an hour or so doing something we both love, and meeting some incredible individuals in the meantime. You just can’t beat that – the energy, the laughter, the moments of connection, conversation and shared experiences.

The handshakes that turn to hugs.

I think I can say that, for both of us, the evening strengthened our resolve to get things moving forward with the Mind Reels again. Or even get them moving at all, at this point, as we’ve been pretty stagnant for much of 2016 so far. I mean, we’ve been doing things. Tim’s posting on the blog every day at least once, and we’ve done some on-location interviews, like the ones last night, but they are always for events – like Comicon, the CSA’s and now Hot Docs. We haven’t gotten back to doing regular studio interviews or anything like that for a long time, and we have yet to really strategize some of the other features we are hoping to add to our brand, let alone implement them.

In other words, every time I think it might be time to get off the pot, I realize that I still want to shit.

So, operating under the hope that this feeling of resolve lasts past, like, today, here are some of the things we have in the revised playbook:

  • regular weekly video content – at least once a week, and while not always interviews per se, the hope is to have as many guests as possible, and some different fun things rotated in once a month or so. The main goal, though, is to establish some sort of routine wherein we are posting video content at least once a week. We need to get that going and stabilize it a bit so that we can branch out more in the direction we want to go
  • build our reach and fanbase – we want to get our stuff out there more, and try to break out of our circle of friends to grab attention from strangers around the world. This all started in part because no one was really covering the things we liked in the way we would have liked, so we started doing it ourselves. For sure there are others out there who just don’t know about us yet, but who would appreciate some of the things we’re doing, and thee ways in which we are doing them
  • having gotten our feet wet moderating some celebrity panels at Hamilton Comic Con last year, we’re hoping to do the same this year, as well as branch out to other conventions in the area. The more we do it, the better we get at it, and having the addition of a live audience to interact with only heightens the fun, really! It definitely changes the dynamic each time, and that’s a challenge I want to keep taking on, for however long they let me!
  • If we can get some sort of regular show format going, and build our reach more, then the eventual goal is to launch a Patreon page and try to start bringing in a bit of cash each month, even if it’s just enough to cover some of our brand-related expenses which are currently all out-of-pocket. I mean, I’m not foolish enough to hope that we could be like the two teenaged boys on there who pull in over $10k per month by making silly YouTube videos of them eating various foods and rating them on a scale of sour-ness, for example. But at the same time, why couldn’t we create content that people want to see enough to throw $5 a month our way, in return for said content and some pretty excellent rewards? That being said, though, while it’d be wonderful to make a living wage doing something we enjoy (see my previous post about adulting), I certainly don’t expect to. But I would love to have a little help paying for some of the things we use regularly as it is, and upgrade some other things to make our passion project even better than it already is.

So we’ll see how things go. Once Hot Docs is over, I have a list of first steps to take, and we’re hoping to set up a meeting with our producer soon to go over a few ideas, as well. Once the flush of excitement from this week and next wears off, we might go back to stagnating again, I know.

But, then again, we might not.

Toronto Comicon 2016

So hard to write right now because a certain Mr. Brodykins wants to play.

However.

Today I went to Toronto Comicon.  Naturally, I stayed out far too late last night (but it was worth it), and then lots of little things went wrong this morning, so I was very nearly late for the 9am media photo call, but I managed to squeak in just in time.  Thank goodness!

Tim and I had an amazing time, chatting with guests, other media, and of course the most excellent folks at Touchwood PR, who set us up with so many incredible press opportunities.  This morning was no exception.  Watch the Mind Reels page for the video footage, and check out our goofy selfies with everyone!  So much fun – everyone was in a great mood and came to play.  It was the perfect start to the day!

Once the con officially opened, we headed to the show floor and wandered around to check things out.  I saw so many things I wanted to buy!  I had to keep reminding myself that I don’t actually have any money.

A couple of t-shirts caught my eye, as did several Star Wars toys – original trilogy and Force Awakens.  Probably the greatest things, though, were these Star Wars 3D holograms.  I’ve never seen anything like them!  You can walk around them and see pretty much the whole thing, as it appears to poke out of the picture.  The one being released in a few weeks features R2-D2 projecting a hologram of Princess Leia.  A hologram within a hologram!  Does it GET any better?!

The hits and highlights kept coming as we took in the Killjoys panel, then got the opportunity to speak with the cast ourselves after.  We’d been able to interview Aaron last year, but getting to talk with him, Hannah and Luke together was a real treat.  They all have such genuine and kind personalities, and a great sense of humour.  They play off one another really well, making them an incredibly fun trio to chat with!

Or with whom to chat.

Up next was the Dark Matter panel.  Given that we’d shared a bowling lane with half the crew a couple of weeks ago, I was eager to see them all together again!  It’s ridiculous how pretty that cast is, and the comrade tie between them is obvious, and a ton of fun to watch.  I’d gotten there early enough to snag an autograph ticket, so I jumped at the opportunity to say hello to the cast members I know, and to introduce myself to the ones I hadn’t met yet.

Plus, I’m just not sure I could possibly adore those people more.  They make me happy.

I headed home after that, because I was determined to walk Brody in daylight.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been home while the sun is still up.  I stopped at McDonald’s, though, because I was hungry and it’s been a long time since Brody and I shared the most delicious fries in the world.  Sometimes I just need to hang out with the fur kids and bond for awhile.  It soothes my soul.

As does the McD’s maple blueberry pie that’s available right now.  Good grief!  So good!

Now I’m watching some stuff off my PVR (Survivor and Elementary, so far) and planning to go to bed early.  Tomorrow at the con is a later start, but I am exhausted as heck these days.

Time to put my feet up and relax.  More tomorrow!w