Friday, July 24, 2009

Review: Trixx "Mistrial" - Comedy Show

Trixx is hilarious.

There was something so authentically "Toronto" and so completely relevant about last night's performance at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts that had the packed house in hysterics, stomping their feet, running tears, and bussing shots all night long.

Canadian comedian Frankie "Trixx" Agyemang killed his first headlining performance, hosted by veteran comedian Jean Paul, and featuring up-and-comer Patrick Haye.

It made me think: when was the last time I laughed this uncontrollably? There was an era in the past where stand-up comedy was on a roll: Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Katt Williams, Martin Lawrence...we have had a good amount of American comedians keeping us entertained over the years.

But then, as their success grew, they branched into television, movies, and the stand-up routines were less frequent. As a result, it seems like there's been a void in the stand-up world for a good minute now.

Do you remember how great it was when Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock released a new stand-up DVD? Or the first time you saw Eddie Murphy's "Raw" or "Delirious"...times when you laughed so hard it hurt, and you couldn't think of anything remotely negative as the words and stories of the comedian entertained you?

Well, last night I got that feeling back. The feeling I used to get from Dave, from Chris, from Eddie, and the countless other comedians we've grown to know and love. I laughed until my throat hurt. I laughed until tears ran from my eyes. I listened to the build-up of each plot, and eagerly anticipated the punchlines, knowing that they wouldn't disappoint.

I felt great! It was the kind of joy that had people standing out of their seats, stomping their feet and giggling non-stop...even during the pauses. Even based on his gestures and actions alone! The vibe in the theatre was so great that there was barely a moment of silence without someone chuckling or doubled-over as they laughed.

There is something great about hearing stories, songs, (or reading books!) that are authentically a representation of you--of your city, your language, your experiences, and your environment.

Trixx told tales that we could all relate to: stories about Canada's Wonderland, old-school Nintendo games, dominoe games, and what it's like for females being approached in the club by his African-stereotype "Kofi."

In one of the most timely and endearing moments of the night, he gave a play-by-play of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, pointing out the nuances that he noticed in his adulthood...that he didn't catch when he was a child.

That is what made the show so special. Trixx IS the voice of Toronto, the voice of our generation; he is a familiar yet unbelievably fresh voice with an interpretation on life that is beyond hilarious.

Along with fellow Canadian comedians Jean Paul, Marc Trinidad, Jay Martin, and of course Russell Peters, Trixx deserves our utmost support as his reach expands, and his good vibes are passed on.

He's definitely a talented guy, and I definitely look forward to seeing this guy blow up. It's inevitable.

Stacey with Jean Paul (top) and Patrick Hayes (bottom)...























Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review: The Harder They Come (the musical)

Last night I went to opening night of the musical The Harder They Come, brought to Canon Theatre in Toronto by Mirvish. The live music by the band, the red gold and green stage lighting, the effortless dancing, the familiar (and authentic) Jamaican tone and humour...I loved it all from beginning to end!

The musical was inspired by the real-life story of the infamous Jamaican outlaw, Ivanhoe "Rhygin" Martin (played by the excellent Rolan Bell). Rhygin's legacy of the 1940s was adapted for the motion picture of the same name in 1972, starring Jimmy Cliff.

The on-stage session with drums and keyboards kept a steady reggae vibe all evening as the songs of Jimmy Cliff were featured in beautiful arrangements and powerful reinactments: The Harder They Come, Many Rivers to Cross, You Can Get it If You Really Want, and Sitting Here in Limbo to name a few.

There is something wonderful about hearing the songs you know and love, and seeing them brought to life on the stage. It was almost a proud moment to see an audience of all races, ages and backgrounds laughing, grinning, grooving, and being drawn into the story of Jamaican Rhygin and his lover "Elsa" played by the talented Joanna Francis.

Under the direction of Dawn Reid and Kerry Michael, the cast of mainly British actors had dance moves and vocals that were clear and flawless: obvious professionals. Gospel singer Lain Gray ("Pedro"), dancer and choreographer Susan Lawson-Reynold ("Pinky"), Joy Mack ("Miss Daisy") a 70s recording artist dubbed the Queen of Lovers' Rock, and Marcus Powell ("Hilton"), a television star. All of the cast members did an excellent job, and had strong performances.

Perry Henzell has written a brilliant play, and I encourage you to check it out. If you love reggae music, if you love GOOD music, period, then you will love this show. It's funny, it's pleasant, it's captivating, very entertaining, and it left everyone with a smile and good vibes at the end of the evening.

For ticket info, visit http://www.mirvish.com/. You won't regret it!

If you do check it out, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!










Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can You Stand The Rain?


Like 'em or loathe 'em, we have to support our men. Black, White, Asian or Indian...we have to love them with their flaws and with their positive attributes. A lot of the time women are quick to dismiss ALL men, based on the actions of one (or two...or five!) fools. I often hear women say, "I'm done with black men"...or say, "I hate men!" in general. Like many things in life, it's important to make judgements on an individual basis and try not to let the wrongdoings of The Ignorant mess up potential opportunities with The Wonderful.

There are many good men out there in the world. I'm sure of this! Be patient, be optimistic, be tolerant, and know that good things happen to good people. Instead of putting that negative and hateful anti-man energy into the world, it's easier to try to love, support, and appreciate the goodness in men.

In tribute to the 'celebrity' beautiful brothers that we know and love, I created this YouTube video to the soundtrack of my favourite R&B song of all time: "Can You Stand The Rain" by New Edition...with an arrangement by Boyz II Men featured as well.

Check out the photos of these "100 Brothers" (including Mr. Idris Elba) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4ZPOMSs5U4&feature=fvsr...


THE LYRICS

On a perfect day I know that I can count on you
When that's not possible
Tell me, can you weather the storm
Cause I need somebody who will stand by me
Through the good times and bad times
She will always, always be right there

Sunny days, everybody loves them
Tell me
Can you stand the rain
Storms will come
This we know for sure
Can you stand the rain

Love unconditional
I'm not asking this of you
We've got to make it last
I'll do whatever needs to be done
Cause I need somebody who will stand by me
When it's time she won't run
She will always, always be right there

No pressure, no pressure from me baby
Cause I want you
And I need you
And I love you
Will you be there for me

Can you stand the rain?


Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael Jackson Memorial Service

Wow.

It's been about 24 hours since I watched the Michael Jackson Memorial Service live (via CNN.com) and I still feel inspired, and saddened by the events.

What sticks out to me most is the unbelievable power of music! To hear the beauty of Stevie Wonder's voice, to witness the strength and purity of Jennifer Hudson's performance...to see Mariah Carey fight back her tears as she sang, John Mayer's humble dedication, and the other great performances moved me beyond words.


What is your passion? Do you have something in your life that moves you to do better, feel better, think clearly, and generally motivate you? For me it's music, and yesterday I was easily reminded just how powerful it is. I was overwhelmed by the talent on display and by the sincere emotion the artists expressed through their performances.

My heart feels heavy for Michael Jackson, for the same reason as millions of others. His music was so powerful that it touched the lives of people everywhere. It's amazing how the right melody, the right beat, and the right performer can sustain the greatness of a song for decades. Every time I listen to "Billie Jean" and "Smooth Operator" I'm amazed at how GOOD the songs are. STILL.

And is it me, or do the MJ songs sounds a little bit sweeter over the past days since his death? It's like his music has taken on new life!

I can safely say that the majority of my creative energy usually comes from hearing a good song, checking out a live show or even hearing DJs mix and create at a club. There is something about the strength of music that I just couldn't live without.

Thank you Michael for being one of the strongest, the greatest, and the most powerful musical influences in my life.


Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dating in Toronto

Every time I write a new book about "urban" relationships in Toronto, I leave the process with a new perspective on a particular situation or series of events. Through my characters, I learn about potential consequences for actions, the results of communication patterns, and I use these fictional examples as general experiences that hopefully anyone can relate to.

As a result of my Urban Toronto Tales, and the trial and tribulations of my favourite characters (from Delia to Abigail to Symone) here are a few tips I have come up with for Dating in Toronto...or dating anywhere, really!

1) COMMUNICATE - Make sure you express your feelings clearly, and be honest at all times. It's much easier and less of a hassle to just be straight up and say what's on your mind. Phone calls, FaceBook, texts and BBM are great tools, but nothing beats face-to-face conversation where possible. Don't be afraid to say what you mean, and mean what you say!

2) BE HONEST - Keep it real about your feelings, your life, who you are, and who you aspire to be. If someone can't handle your truth -- your real truth -- then you probably shouldn't be with them in the first place. You can't guarantee that others will not lie to you or about you, but you can control what you say.

3) SOCIALIZE - Maintain a healthy network of friends and associates outside of your relationship. While it's important that you spend time with your significant other, it's equally important that you have other people that you can talk to and have fun with. Alleviate some of the pressure of always having to make plans with your significant other by having options and staying busy--with or without him/her.

4) DON'T TELL your friends every damn thing about what's going on in your relationship. There's nothing wrong with confiding in close friends that you can trust with 100% certainty, but remember that anything you say can and will be brought up again, or possibly used against you later on in the relationship. It's too much work to keep everyone up to speed on everything. Pick and choose what you reveal carefully: if this relationship is close to your heart, it's probably best that you keep it there, instead of putting the details out on Yonge Street!

5) MIND YOUR BUSINESS and try not to get involved in other people's drama either! Again, it is important to have healthy reflective conversation with your friends about life and choices, but beware of getting so caught up in other people's situations that it begins to distort the reality of your own. Everyone loves a good story, but focus on your own business instead of the choices your friends are making...or the choices they are avoiding. Let them learn at their own pace, as you continue to learn at yours.

6) BE POSITIVE - Where possible, always try to uplift your partner, be supportive, encouraging, and empathize with their situation whatever it might be. Everyone can use a system of inspiration in their lives, positive energy and loving vibes.

7) SHOW SOME RESPECT - Whether you're from the same part of Toronto, from the same island back home, neighbourhood or ethnicity in general...be sure to respect your partner's heritage and family. Chances are that people from the westend might move differently than people from the east (it's true!), South Asians might have cultural differences from West Indians, or Jamaicans might have different customs and characteristics than Bajans...but no need to disrespect anyone in order to big up your own heritage or background. We have the unique benefit of intimately experiencing so many different cultures in Toronto that we should embrace and celebrate our differences, and teach each other where possible.

8) NO GAMES - Despite what has worked in the movies, on TV, with your friends, or even what seems like a brilliant scheme in your mind, wherever posisble, try to be straight up and not play around with someone's emotions. Deceipt and manipulation are addictive...don't get pulled into those bad habits!

9) BE CREATIVE - Just because you live in Mississauga doesn't mean that you have to stay to that end of the city. Branch out to Markham for the day, or wander around new parts of downtown on the weekend. Toronto is a beautiful place from east to west, so get out and explore what's out there with your partner. No need to get comfortable chilling in the basement, or going to the same old AMC theatre. Drive around, and change up the routine if you can!

10) BE YOURSELF - Show your true colours from day one. If you have things to hide, habits to be ashamed of, and personality characteristics that you are trying to avoid displaying, realize that they will eventually be seen. You can't help who you are naturally, so you might as well come real with it from the beginning. If s/he can't love you for who you truly are, then s/he just can't love you, period.

**
Whether you're in Brampton or Oshawa, Ontario...in other locations across Canada, or anywhere...hopefully these are generic enough dating rules that they can apply. But I can only speak about what I see, and that's Toronto...God bless Toronto because the many situations I have seen and heard have helped me to create my books: all inspired by this wonderful city.
Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...

(dixbnt687h)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Stop Sharing (Men)!

I should put it on my own series of t-shirts, much like the "Stop Snitching" movement of years past. And I mean it in all sincerity that someone (meaning us women) should start our own movement. When I say "Stop Sharing" I truly believe that the key to many failed relationships and neverending drama is often the "other woman." Many get hurt by this other woman....many ARE the other woman.

We all hear that there's a shortage of men (so women share by default), or we make excuses for the behaviour of men because that's just "how they are"...but really and truly, men only are they way they are because there are women out there who are willing to participate in making them "that way." I'm not placing blame on anyone, and I'm not trying to further perpetuate any negative stereotypes, BUT I think women should all agree to a few basic principles.

Do not get intimate with a man who is:

1) Married
2) In a long term/serious relationship
3) Living with his woman
4) Openly involved with more than one woman
5) Has a babymother that is still in the picture and emotionally involved with him

Now it seems like common sense, but I guess the need for affection, attention and possibility causes many woman to get involved with a man despite the fact that he falls into one (or two) of those categories. Everyone has their sob story, they're about to get divorced or separated...or they're about to break up with the chick...they want to move out but can't afford to...or maybe they don't love her anymore but they definitely love the new girl. Maybe they need more time to resolve past issues and just want the new girl to be patient.

Ah, I could write the book myself! Actually, I try to! This is essentially what my "Urban Toronto Tales" books are...hypothetical (yet common) situations put in print.

I just think it would be nice if all women were strong enough to ONLY expect a decent drama-free romance. Whether you're 21 or 31, there really should be no excuses for getting too close to a man who is inevitably going to have you in a controversial situation with a very unhappy lady (see list above).

I'm just writing based on general observation, and of course my thoughts are nothing new and groundbreaking. But the solution seems so simple. If there are no women out there to interfere with particular relationships...then maybe those relationships would stand a chance. Maybe? Maybe not?

Every few months I get a new spark or idea about a fictional woman or man...a new character that is going to face a new challenge and be placed in a new situation. And 9 times out of 10, the story is based on a relationship. In Toronto. I'm not saying that the other woman is the cause of all relationship breakdowns...but is it safe to say that it is a popular problem. Eternally!

We all have our different approaches to love, relationships and understanding the opposite sex.

Yes, it's complicated. And yes, it's definitely specific. But one universal rule that I believe all women should implement is the Stop Sharing rule. By eliminating this issue, it might make it that much easier to solve and conquer all the other relationship drama.


Please click the logo below to purchase one of the novels in my Urban Toronto Tales collection, "Stories about the Life YOU Live"...




(dixbnt687h)