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Farewell to Winnipeg’s Sweetheart

Deanna Durbin, Canada’s own Shirley Temple, died yesterday at the age of 91.

A top child actress during the Depression, Durbin played the part of the perfect child, fixing the problems of the adults around her with charm and grace.

She hit Hollywood royalty with her first movie 1936’s Three Smart Girls, a musical comedy co-starring Nan Grey and Barbara Read. A box-office smash, it saved the faltering Universal Studios and turned her into one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses.

Then, in 1938, she was given a special Academy Award for her “significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth.”

Like many child actresses, problems arose when she started to move onto more adult roles. Her public wanted her to retain her youth and innocence, and reacted negatively to any attempts of Durbin’s to expand her range.

First married at 19, Durbin was told that she was not allowed to divorce because it would “ruin the image.” A second marriage would also end in divorce. Finally, at age 28, Durbin met director Charles David and married for the last time.

At this point, after starring in 21 feature films, Durbin retired.

She will be remembered by many as what she was officially dubbed: “Winnipeg’s Sweetheart.”


Women of the Week: Erin Deviney

Many people can cite exact moments in their lives that caused them to reevaluate their lives. When she was 20, Erin Deviney went on an Outward Bound Trip to Central America. According to her, it “profoundly changed how I see the world.”

“It opened my eyes to the difficult realities faced daily by so many people across the globe. Ultimately, I learned that poverty is such a complex issue and it is not about a single thing. It is about the environment, about education, about governance, about health and so many other factors.”

Initially, after graduating from Queen’s University in 2001 with a degree in Economics, Erin found work as a global market researcher, helping companies discover the best way to access potential customers.

“I found it fascinating to understand what drives people to make the decisions they do,” she says. “But ultimately, I struggled because while I was intellectually satisfied, I was emotionally empty. I wanted to use my skills to benefit people not companies.”

A decision to move to Australia in 2008 would prove to be the turning point in her career. “I saw this as an opportunity to make the shift to the not for profit sector that I had always dreamed of doing.”

After working overseas in Cambodia and Grenada—“Being given the privilege to work in other cultures, particularly one where language is a barrier is truly a remarkable experience,” she says—Erin retuned to Canada.

Now, back home, her primary focus is serving as campaign manager for the Canadian branch of the global movement Live Below The Line.

“Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s changing the way Canadians think about extreme poverty. We are challenging Canadians to step outside their comfort zones by living on just $1.75 a day for all of their food and drink for five days. Why $1.75? There are 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty who have less than $1.75 a day to spend to all of their needs in life from health, to transit, to food. “

The project, which is being taken on by people of every age group across the country, is a creative way to get people engaged in the poverty eradication movement by getting them to experience the daily struggles faced by a large portion of the people on this planet.

Her new focus in Canada is radically different from her former corporate life, but there are no regrets.

“Personally, the biggest difference is passion. When you do something that you love in a field that you deeply care about – it doesn’t feel like work anymore,” Erin says.

Although the initial shift was shocking, Erin adapted and learned from it. As she explains it, “that difference in resources has actually proven to be engaging – in that you have to be creative and resourceful. I think that makes work in the not for profit sector exciting in that there is room for new ideas.”

Not afraid to take chances, Erin has proven that she is willing to stand up for what she believes in. This, she believes, is what sets her apart from her competitors.

“You can’t ignore me,” she says.

30 disturbing and disgusting tweets about Jason Collins coming out


Jason Collins shocked the world this week by becoming the first openly gay pro athlete (besides baseball player and inventor of the high-five Glenn Burke who was out to his teammates) and has been met with hate from ignorant people along with the praise he has received.

The hate being spewed at him is sadly not a surprise.

This collection is not intended to change any minds. The people who wrote these tweets think that what they are doing is okay and right, and it would take a lot more than simply holding up a mirror to them to get them to change their minds.

This collection of tweets is intended to open the eyes of anyone who is passively indifferent to gay causes or may be on the fence about vocalising their support for gay people in their lives.

Gay people wake up every day knowing that there are millions of people in the world who hate them for what they are. Gay people in other countries wake up every day unsure if they will be alive at the end of it. Kids here in Canada are bullied to death with words like these.

After reading these please do your part to let your friends and family know that you support gay people and gay rights. Send a positive tweet to Jason Collins, for example, or just do something simple as update your Facebook status to say that you love and care about the gay people in your life.

These are 30 disturbing and disgusting tweets about Jason Collins coming out.

Jason Collins should die

Jason Collins is a Faggot

Jason Collins is disgusting, certainly not a hero


Jason Collins will burn in hell

It is attitudes like these that make his coming out all the more important.

Hopefully someday soon a gay athlete, actor, politician, or person won’t require the fanfare, but until then every single gay person needs the reassurance of your love and support. Their life could depend on it.


Meddling parents make for most frightening Craigslist personal ad ever

And you thought your parents were bad.

We got a hold of this example of a weird set of meddling parents who last year took to the internet to find a “suitable girlfriend” for their grown son. Sure, just like how your mom keeps trying to set you up with that nice young man who works in your father’s office. Except these guys are set that their son doesn’t even like his girlfriend and only dates her because she has an apartment downtown he can sleep over at to avoid morning traffic. I think mom and dad here have a pretty skewed idea of what takes place when a man and a woman have a sleepover.

The kind of lady who would scheme with a guy’s parents to swap out an old girlfriend probably isn’t the classiest of classy ladies, FYI.

As for the current girlfriend, this girl has “loose morals” and must be stopped before any “accidents” happen.

Yikes. Here’s hoping that their “looker” of a son chose the right people to break up with.

Click the image for full size.

Follow Travis on Twitter: @travmyers


Dogs: Man’s best wingman

Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend.  However, there’s more to being a best friend than cuddling with you throughout the finale of The Real Housewives Of Vancouver and sniffing your crotch, even if those are two very important best friend qualities.

Can man’s best friend also be man’s best wingman?

We filled our pockets with treats, poop bags, and a couple of balls to hit the city with an adorable dog named Baxter as we put this to the test.  Our extremely scientific experiment has revealed these to be among the best places in Toronto to take your dog if you’re looking to have someone tell you to lie down and roll over.

Riverdale Park West:  Just south-west of Riverdale Farm is the Carlton Street lower playing fields. This baseball diamond beside the DVP serves as a gathering place for the haut monde of Cabbagetown and their pedigree pooches.  The crowd there is mature, a mixture of gay and straight, and all are friendly.  A couple of the conversations we had there were a little on the pretentious side, but if you plan on meeting the man of your dreams and moving from your 450 sq ft apartment into his million dollar Cabbagetown brownstone, you’re going to have to learn the language of the affluent, dah-ling.

Allen Gardens dog park:  This is a great place to have your furry wingman work his magic.  Serving as a social hub for the surrounding dog owner community, the guys there are very laid back and quite chatty.  You may not be able to find your next millionaire ex-husband like you might at Riverdale Park West, but we’re confident you’ll get a fun ‘pitcher-of-beer-and-pound-of wings’ type of date.  The biggest downside to this dog park is that it looks like a giant cat litter box.

Trinity Bellwoods Park:  Since this has the reputation of being a gathering place for Queen West hipsters, we dressed Baxter up in a plaid coat and took him for a walk to see if he’d attract us some sensitive and creative hotties.  Success.  Unlike some of the other locations we conducted this experiment, we weren’t just approached by other dog owners.  Several attractive boys stopped us to pet Baxter and comment on how cute he is, striking up some fun and flirty chats.  If you’re looking for a guy who probably knows where the best loft parties are every weekend, this is the place to be.  And we totally recommend dressing up your wingman in hipster-style plaid… Ironically, of course.

Cherry Beach dog park:  While an amazing place to have your pooch run free, Baxter had more luck there than we did.  We had a few conversations with the multitude of dog walkers that use this place but didn’t manage to get our flirt on.  It’s likely that you’ll have a bit more luck in the summer months when this place is packed, but for now you and your furry friend will be heading home alone to a tub of Häagen-Dazs, a single spoon, and an Adele CD.

Church Street:  We walked the gaybourhood strip at various times of the day and found that this is your best bet for utilizing your furry wingman to his full potential.  On our walks through the Village, we were stopped many times by hot guys of all types and more often than not we got the impression it was so the guys could talk to us, not just the adorable Baxter.  Oh, and strictly in the name of science, we walked Baxter there just after the bars closed on a Saturday night…

Good boy, Baxter. Good boy.


For Jack Dell‘Accio, the founder and CEO of Essentia, sleeping on an organic mattress is essential to living a healthy life.

He previously owned a company which customized cabinetry for high-rise buildings, and although an entrepreneur at heart, he never imagined that he would have founded the company that makes the world’s only all-natural memory foam mattresses.

After his father was diagnosed with cancer, Jack discovered that everything around us has the potential to affect our health. Being exposed to various health practitioners, he became intrigued by the relationship of the environment to our bodies and was inspired to do his part in helping people become healthier.

The idea to create a memory foam mattress came from Jack’s father who worked in the latex and foam business. He had discovered that there were several problems with using latex in memory foam, most importantly, performance. Latex, which is made from rubber tree sap, doesn’t allow for adequate blood circulation for spinal alignment and support. Jack decided to take conventional latex and reconfigure the technology to turn it into natural memory foam. It is the only mattress of its kind. The mattresses are designed to give support to every arch and curve in the body and provide many physical benefits for any age range.

Jack launched Essentia in 2006 and the business has grown exponentially ever since with stores in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, New York and Santa Monica, Denver, Berkeley, Chicago and Seattle. There are currently plans to open locations in Ottawa and San Francisco.

Jack believes that Essentia has a bright future and mattresses are just the beginning and they also now offer support pillows, organic sheets, natural dog beds and crib mattresses for babies.

“I think there is huge potential in just the technology more so than in any other field. Non-toxic foam should be the only existing foam out there,” he says.

Essentia has been featured in O magazine, on the Rachel Ray Show, Anderson Live and the Dr. Oz Show where they were the number-one hot list product for one year and subsequently caused a website crash after a massive influx of online visitors.

Essentia is more than just a green company, they believe in the green and health-minded philosophy through and through. “It’s how we exist.”

Marathon running? Ever heard of Philippides?

The inspiration for the marathon was a man named Philippides.  According to Greek myth, Philippides ran from the battlefield at Marathon all the way to Athens to announce Greece’s victory over Persia. He ran roughly 26 miles as fast as his legs could carry him – an amazing athletic achievement.

No one seems to remember though what happened next to Philippides: he collapsed and died on the spot.

Training for a marathon is an increasingly popular activity these days. For a lot of folks the marathon represents the absolute pinnacle of fitness. “If I can run a marathon,” the thinking goes, “then I’ll really be in shape.” Chances are you’ll wind up in some shape, it just might not be good shape.

I think that the volume that training for a marathon requires is far too much for the majority of us and leads to unnecessary wear and tear on the joints. There’s a certain point at which the exercise that we do ceases to be beneficial and actually becomes harmful. Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize this point because exercise is promoted as being good for us; so logically more of it must be better. Not so. Exercising too much can raise levels of stress hormones causing our bodies to break down muscle and store fat. Just take a look at a marathoner. Most don’t look at all like pictures of health; they look like they’re wasting away to me.

Don’t get me wrong: I think that running can be great for fitness. But there’s a sweet spot where we can get most of the benefit while avoiding much of the harm. (It varies from individual to individual.) Perhaps running briskly for 20 minutes doesn’t gives us the same bragging rights that running a marathon does, but it might do us better at the end of the day.

Travelin’ with Traveler

If you don’t know Colin James’s work (and unless you’re a blues diehard, you probably don’t; he doesn’t get the radio play he deserves) you’re missing one of Canada’s too-little-sung musical treasures. James is a superb blues guitarist, a fine, gritty vocalist, often an inventive songwriter, and a musician unafraid to venture in new directions.


The Saskatchewan native was a high-school dropout; he heard the call of the blues early, moved to Winnipeg to form the HoodDoo Men and opened for the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan who, legend has it, had Colin James Munn shorten his stage name because it sounded as if they were saying “mud” every time they announced his name over the P.A. system.


His first two albums, the eponymous Colin James (1988) and Sudden Stop

(1990) were hits in Canada. Then James became an early convert to the swing revival with the brilliant neo-swing-blues-jazz Colin James & the Little Big Band (1993), six years later, after two more albums, following it up with a second retro-swing sortie that may have been even better.


I’m not disappointed by Traveler but was expecting more. It is, in some ways, a return to the blues, with a bit of power funk and Motown-inflected grooves punching up the thoughtful mellowness in many of the 11 tracks.


Most of the tunes are written by James, ballads such as I Know What Love Is and up-tempo, but somehow slightly subdued, rockers like She Can’t Do No

Wrong (the literate James showing off his drop-out status?). Throughout, his voice is in fine rasp and his axework, as always, is superb. Maybe I find the energy a bit low.


That’s not the case, though, on the opening and closing cover numbers, they are almost leisurely, but smouldering, covers of John Lennon’s I’m Losing You and Jimi Hendrix’s Rainy Day, Dream Away, in which James gets to make his guitar gently sweep.


A lot of people will like this album, and they should. Me, I’m going do some swinging to Cha Shooky Doo a classic from his 93 album.