Saturday, November 28, 2009

Comedians on Twitter




Some people don't even know what Twitter is, how it works, what the point of it is, or why people even bother to log in...but for those of you who are locked in, you know where I'm coming from...

Twitter got jokes!

Over the past few weeks, I have literally laughed out loud at some of the commentary, punchlines, and Trending Topics (the most popularly discussed Twitter topics of the day) that I've viewed online.

Yeah, sometimes I've felt like a stalker, constantly reading what the celebrity comedians are Tweeting about, but there has consistently been such a plethora of ridiculousness going on that I have even started to let people know about my secret pasttime. It's just been too funny to keep to myself.

This is such a unique moment in comedy history.

Never before have fans had immediate and real-time access to their favourite funnymen. It's one thing to go to the theatre or tune into the television to watch a staged performance...it's another miraculous effect of our evolving technological world that you can literally read up-to-the-minute jokes from these brilliant minds.

For example, during the American Music Awards last week, a few comedians were providing their play-by-play on what was going on, simultaneous with the live broadcast.

On Thanksgiving Day this past week, many were commenting on the Trending Topic "#youknowuhavinaghettothanksgivingwhen" with scenarios from their own family gatherings taking place that very moment...never before have comedians been able to interact with their fans on this intimate level, so directly.

Some people use Twitter for social networking and to have private conversations in ultra-public spaces...but I've used it for the laughs and for the entertainment.

Spearheaded by comedians Marlon Wayans and Affion Crockett, the routines have been taken to a whole new level. I wouldn't be surprised if the past few weeks of activity on Twitter by this particular group of men, inspires a new project, movie, or hopefully a comedy tour from them.

If you want to read the jokes past and present, you don't need an account with Twitter. Just visit them here (click photos):

Marlon Wayans








Damon Wayans Jr.








Nile Evans








Affion Crockett







If you haven't yet seen Affion's YouTube spoof of "Run This Town" (aka "Hunt Chris Brown"), here it is:


You can also check out their colleagues on Twitter (pls click on name links) Damien Dante Wayans, Shane Miller, and Craig Wayans...equally hilarious.

Enjoy!

What would we do without laughter? I'm thankful that I've been able to witness this new comedic phenomenon go down.

My books about urban Canadian life, love, and relationships are available on line. Please visit http://www.staceymarierobinson.com/books.html for more information.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Legendary Sanchez Performs in Toronto

On Saturday, November 21, 2009 at the Sound Academy in Toronto, Humble Penny, 2 Lined Music Hut, and Keep it Moven Ent. brought Jamaican reggae artists Sanchez and Pinchers to Toronto, with home grown opening acts Kim Davis and Steele. The night was hosted by Jahmin, and featuring early musical vibes by the Riddim Track Master Spex, and Radication sound.

There is nothing like a good show and a grown crowd. People who love the music, love the energy...and can appreciate being around mature patrons who share the same passion for a solid live performance. It's nice to see couples stepping out dressed to impress, bubbling the night away and lifting their hands in recognition of the classic songs they have been listening to for nearly two decades--songs that have provided the soundtrack to many events and day to day experiences.

To show support for an artist like Sanchez is a courtesy, a way of saying thank you for being a consistently inspirational artist. For contributing numerous songs to reggae culture that seem to never ever get old. There are few artists that have reached this status, where no matter where or when their songs are played...they are received warmly by everyone. Sanchez (aka Kevin Anthony Jackson) is one of those notorious artists who is loved by many, and rightfully so.

Time has done nothing to that voice. While other performers get noticibly weaker, lazier and lose their fire as years pass, this man was still sounding (and looking) like he was in his prime. The Chronic Band were also on point, backing him flawlessly throughout the night.

I unfortunately missed the intro performances of Steele and Kim Davis, but was able to take in Pinchers. Now with all due respect to Pinchers and the contributions he has made to reggae music..."Bandelero" was the big tune that everyone was looking forward to hearing from him. He went through his entire repertoire, sang some familiar classics...some not so familiar songs (in their entirety, verse after verse!)...and then when he had about 30 seconds left of his performance, gave the eager audience about 2 lines of "Bandelero"...then ran off stage and ended his set.

I'm all for dramatic effect, build up, anticipation, etc...but I do believe he should have brought "Bandelero" in all its glory. Not even the verses we all love to hear and sing: "Now him come lick de pelico..." None of that. "But I just drink the tequila..." Nope.

My video of Pinchers (briefly) performing "Bandelero"


So that was extremely anticlimactic to say the least...but his voice was still strong, skin still looked young and fresh, and he gave his all to his half hour performance.

Here are a few video clips from the night (visually interrupted by the occasional gun finger and raised hand around me, my apologies)...please enjoy!

"Here I Am"


"Missing You Now"


"Frenzy/Never Diss The Man"


"Down By The River"


"Amazing Grace"


"Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone"


"Gospel Medley" (Yup! He took us to church!!)


"Jamaican National Anthem"


I love my city. I love the people and energy here. I welcome you to check out my "Urban Toronto Tales" novel collection, stories about the live YOU live, available @ http://www.staceymarierobinson.com/books.html.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sample of "Video Light" the novel

My novel "Video Light" is an urban romance story, based in Toronto, featuring a couple who are learning about themselves, about life, and about love. Delia Chinn is a 29-year-old Jamaican-Canadian dancehall princess who raised herself in the city’s west end; Ryan Wright is a humble school teacher, also 29, who grew up in a Christian household with strict Trinidadian parents. They meet at a party on Caribana Sunday and end up in a whirlwind romance, challenged by their sceptical friends and family who think they are too different to fall in love...

[EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 3]

Unfortunately, Tuesday morning had to finally arrive. After a breakfast of omelets and orange juice, I drove Delia across the street to the Town Centre so she could begin work. Returning to my condo didn’t even feel the same, when I re-entered the space we had occupied together.

I’m sprung…dawg she got me…” Mike sang T-Pain’s song into the phone when I called him at noon. I knew he was on his lunch break–he was an accountant for Rogers Media–and I hadn’t heard from him since the previous day. “Got me doing things I’d never do…” he continued, stopped only by his laughter.

“Yeah, you think it’s funny?” I asked, turning on the television to check the weather forecast for the rest of the week. “Laugh now, understand later.”

“I don’t even know what to say, guy. You let the whole day pass and couldn’t even link me back. You and Miss Chinn over there tearing up the rug.”

“It wasn’t even like that, man,” I said, putting my feet up on the table.

“Of course it was like that. Don’t try to front like you’re over there reading poetry and s*it.”

“Come on, man. Give me some credit. Give her some credit!” I said, looking over at Delia's sandals by the door. “We just had a nice day together. Got to know each other. Cooked her dinner. Everything went smoothly.”

“Aright, aright. I see you’re taking this seriously now, so I’ll stop. So everything’s straight?”

“Believe me, bredren.”

“And you really think there’s something there?”

"Yup.”

“OK, OK,” he said, taking a bite of something. “I just hope you know what you’re doing. Them girls are dangerous you know.”

"What do you mean dem girls?” I asked. “What girls?”

“Those party girls. At the dance three nights a week, bunning a big spliff, drinking Smirnoff Ice and RockStar and getting men to buy them shots at the bar. We’ve seen them in action over the years, and you and I both know not a damn thing’s changed.”

“So she likes to go out. Nuttin’ wrong with that."

“I know, just be careful.”

"Mike, man. I don’t like the way you’re dealing with me, guy. I feel like I just hit the f*cking jackpot, and you’re bringing all this skepticism. What’s up with that?”

“I’m just trying to be the voice of reason man, like you always say. Trying to put things in perspective for you, before you drown.”

“Why I gotta drown? Why I can’t swim, Mike?” I asked, trying to force a laugh.

“You and dat deh hot gyal? I’m throwing you a life preserver from now.”
“I can’t handle it?”

“You can try. It’s not like she’s a regular pretty girl out there either, RW. This is like the dime piece of Toronto. All I’m saying is be careful.”

That was the last time I talked to Mike for a few days. I could admit it: I was wrapped up in her. I picked her up from work on Tuesday evening, stopped by her humble basement apartment so she could pick up a few things, and we went back to my place to chill. Dinner was waiting for her when we got back, we ate, we watched a little TV, and continued to talk about a little bit of nothing, just happy to be around each other.

And the routine continued. Wednesday. Thursday. When Friday finally came and I knew I’d have her to myself for the weekend, I couldn’t have been happier. Except this time when I dropped her home on Friday, her cell phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

I was sitting on a plastic chair in her living room, in the dim apartment, watching as she unpacked and repacked her overnight bag. The phone had gone through three consecutive calls without her picking up, until she finally stopped what she was doing, and put her hand on her hip.

“Honestly,” she said, reaching into her purse to pick up the phone. “Hello?” she asked, walking back to her bathroom to pack few more toiletries for the weekend. “I just stopped by my house for a minute, about to go back to Ryan’s place.” She paused, and came back out of the washroom to roll her eyes at me. “OK girl, whatever you say. I’ll link you when I get there.”

“What was that all about?” I asked her. Over the past few days, I think I had received the entire history of Delia Chinn, from the grade school stories, to the present day drama with her girlfriends. They were always having some issues, and being the single–and relatively unattached one–Delia was always the recipient of the news.

“Shannon says I need to check out TeeDotVibes when I get to your house. I hate that s*it, Ryan. The only time I end up seeing it is when I’m with Shannon. She’s addicted to it. It’s disgusting.”

“I used to go on from time to time, but after a while I realized it’s all nonsense anyhow,” I confessed, slightly embarrassed because I usually logged on to check out pictures and video of her.

“When I have liquor in my system, I always end up posing for the most amount of pictures. Especially when I’m with Kimmy. That girl loves the video light, in any form,” she said, zipping up her bag and pulling it up over her shoulder. She grabbed her purse with her free hand. “Aright, let’s roll.”

I followed Delia up the stairs, she grabbed her mail, and we headed back into my car. I was addicted to her. It still hadn’t been a week, but I felt like I already knew all that I needed to know. She was open enough to share many of the important experiences and lessons in her life with me, and in return, I also let her know about the happenings in my own world.

Each morning I served her breakfast before she went to work, every evening I had her dinner ready when she returned, and each night we went up to the roof to watch the sun set while she smoked, returning to the couch to chill and talk some more. Sometimes we didn’t even need the TV on, because our conversation alone was interesting. I couldn’t get enough of her, and thankfully, I think she felt the same about me.

Since it was Friday, I decided to take her out to eat, instead of going right back to my place. We just went to the Jack Astor’s across the street from the condo, and sat back in our booth for nearly three hours, talking about all the great dances we had been to over the years, from the nineties, straight to the present time. We had been to many of the same places, and crossed paths numerous times.

It was interesting to hear the tales from her perspective, to hear the perks she and the girls had received simply for being hot and energetic, and also to hear the ridiculous stories of men trying to get into their circle. She knew how to have fun, and I liked that about her. Even though Mike had been trying to break away from the club scene since the year began, I still didn’t mind going out every now and then to hear what the DJs were saying.

As we wrapped up our restaurant visit, Delia’s cell wouldn’t stop ringing. She eventually put the phone on silent mode, and left it that way until we were back at my place, ready to settle in for the night. She warned me that her girls would be calling, ready to see what was going on for the night. Around eleven, she picked up the phone to check her missed calls and inform them that she wasn’t going anywhere.

“I think I’m gonna have to pass on whatever’s going down tonight,” she said, picking up the phone when Lisa-Anne called yet again. Her silence let me know that the clubbing was not Lisa-Anne’s reason for calling. “OK, Shannon called me about this s*it earlier. I really don’t want to bother, girl,” she said, looking at me with concerned eyes. “OK, fine, fine. I’ll call you right back.”

“What’s up? Everything OK?”

“First Shannon told me to check the website, and now Lisa-Anne’s saying that there’s some s*it about me and Kimmy on there,” she said, looking over to the table where my laptop sat. “Do you mind? Otherwise I won’t hear the end of this.”

I brought my computer over to the couch, and logged onto the popular website, TeeDotVibes. Clicking into the Chat Bout section, I saw that Miss Chinn’s name was the subject of a few discussion chains. Delia asked me to skim it for her, and give her the update, while she began to take off her nail polish. It didn’t take me long to get the general gist of what was going down.

People were saying that Delia’s girl Kimmy was secretly hooking up with KG, who I assumed to be her ex-boyfriend Kirk, and that the ‘Goodas Crew’ was on the verge of dismantling.

“Is this for real?” I said, now realizing the time and effort some people put into fabricating stories, just for entertainment purposes. Before, I didn’t mind logging on to see a few pictures, but now, the whole concept seemed completely invasive and disturbing.

“What does it say?”

“Basically that Kimmy and Kirk have something going on, and you don’t know about it,” I said to her, shaking my head. “Some people really have time on their hands, huh?”

Delia kissed her teeth, shook her head, and continued to take off the polish on her fingernails. Curious, I read through a few more postings, and almost became concerned with the jumbled details and bad grammar. I closed the computer, Delia turned off her phone, and we decided to watch television for the evening until we passed out on my couch together...

To order your copy of "Video Light" please visit one of the Toronto sales locations, or purchase the book online @ eBay.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Jay-Z Blueprint 3 tour (Toronto)

Ok, so I am officially "jockin' Jay-Z".

I admit, before last Saturday I really didn't have an opinion either way of the HOV. I was a fan of his hits back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but really haven't followed his albums, performances, or activities otherwise. Back in 2004 Jay-Z did an MTV collaboration with Linkin Park...but I believe that album purchase was more about Linkin Park than Jay.

But I digress.

After his performance in Toronto on Saturday, October 31, 2009 for the Blueprint 3 tour, I walked away with a newfound respect and appreciation of this man. He was great!

The energy in the Air Canada Centre was crazy. I have seen most of my favourites perform live, and can still safely say that next to Janet Jackson (2001), this show had the most vibes, the crowd showed the most love, and actually had me on my feet from beginning to end. Even from the depths of the 300 section.

The opening acts Wale, N.E.R.D. with wonderful Pharell, even got a good response from the crowd: that's how I knew it was going to be a special night. The ACC was a true representation of Toronto with attendees of all races, all ages, and all excited to take part in the event. Everyone was hype.

When Jay-Z came on stage, I couldn't help but feel like I was about to witness something great. Again, I don't know his lyrics. I didn't even buy a copy of Blueprint 3 (or download it...yet) but I knew that there had to be a reason 20,000 people were jamming consistently, hands raised, for over two hours straight.

Excuse my faraway footage...the details aren't clear, but the feeling is still there :)

Jay-Z opening - "Run This Town":


Even with the tracks from the new album played, he made sure to mix in the classics, giving us the full repetoire of his legacy.

Jay-Z performs "Empire State of Mind":


In one of the most anticipated moments of the night, Toronto's own Drake came out to bless the stage with a performance of "Successful." I found the crowd almost silent at this point, taking in each lyric, and the pride was almost tangible.

Drake:


Towards the end of the night, Jay-Z took a minute to thank the fans, and I think this is the moment that got me. I was amazed how incredibly arrogant...yet extremely humble he could be. He took off his shades and spoke to the people of Toronto with genuine gratitude. You could hear it in his voice, you could see it on his face: he was thankful to be who he was, and where he was.

He took another 10 minutes with the house lights on, shouting out the fans, pointing people out by clothing and costume (it was Halloween night, after all) and giving them the spotlight on the jumbotron. This personal touch, and the time he took to acknowledge his supporters also added to the night's experience.

It was warming to see him also big up Toronto-turned-international rapper Kardinal Offishall in the front row; the crowd showed him the utmost love through applause and cheers.

And just when you thought the concert was over, I think another wave of energy hit Jay because he extended the show past 11pm (which rarely happens at the ACC), had the lights back down, and gave the audience another 30 minutes of his talent.

I am addicted to live shows, admittedly. The noise, the crowds, the acoustics, and the physical energy. So needless to say when he closed with "Young Forever" from the Blueprint 3 with electric blue lighting on stage and near blackness otherwise, I found this to be the defining moment of the night. Thousands of lighters immediately sparked around the venue, men and women, teenage and grown, began to sing along, and you could just feel like you had participated in something great.

These are the musical moments that I live for.

In closing, Jay-Z gave the mandatory "follow your dreams" speech that most entertainers share when on stage. But the great thing about it is that when you see someone like him perform, and feel what can be created with passion, talent, and support, you can't help but naturally be inspired.

Whether in your 9-5, in your hobbies, or in your most ambitious goals and dreams, seeing an artist come from less than favourable conditions, and go against common odds to still achieve their highest fantasies...to me that is worth the cost of a ticket.

This is why concerts remain high on my priority list of spending. The $30-$100 I knock out for the ticket is worth volumes more to me when it comes to motivation, inspiration, and just appreciation of music and life in general.

Yes, it was just a rap concert, but I'm pretty sure there are 19,999 other fans in Toronto who like me, are still on that Jay-Z high right now, wishing it was 9:45pm on Saturday, and we could experience it all over again.
(Borrowed footage via YouTube user forzaferrarif1fan)


The "Urban Toronto Tales" novel collection by Stacey Marie Robinson: books are available online @ http:///www.staceymarierobinson.com. "Stories about the life YOU live."