Have Your Donut, and Eat it Too!

6 Jun

donut
Happy Donut Day? Why not!

There seems to be a day for almost everything. But then again, who doesn’t love a little piece of heaven with a hole in the middle? Donuts are a tasty little treat, with a variety of flavours to choose from. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but there’s just something about a donut!

So if you’re celebrating National Donut Day, enjoy your delicious goody of your choice.

Have a great weekend,

Merzybean

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Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou

28 May

Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

I was devastated to hear the news of Maya Angelou’s passing, this morning. Angelou’s words resonated not only within me, but around the world and across generations. The prolific author, poet and civil rights activist managed to string words together in such a way that one couldn’t help but be both intrigued and inspired.

quote maya angelou

Angelou’s highly acclaimed poetry truly inspired me in high school and throughout university, as both a student of literature, and as a woman striving to be intelligent, courageous, and loving. Angelou’s words spoke to me in such a way that no other did.

I thank Maya Angelou for being brave enough to bare her soul through written word.

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May you rest in peace, Maya Angelou. Your words will live on!

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Merzybean’s Year in Review: 2013

31 Dec

It feels as though the end of the year is always an appropriate time for reflection. This December 31st is no different. 2013 has been one hell of a year.

Last year, I blogged about whether or not New Year’s resolutions are worthwhile, or simply a waste of time.  While I still hold onto the belief that it is always acceptable and encouraged to take a retrospective approach to an upcoming year, the ideology that a new year brings new opportunities and fresh beginnings is often a little bit idealistic (I’m not jaded).

Why must we wait for a new year to make a change in our lives? I am going to take the opportunity this New Year’s Eve to reflect on my past year’s triumphs and challenges, rather than set myself up for failure with resolutions that I may or may not commit to. I think that resolutions encourage positive change and am not discouraging any of you from making a resolution or two for yourself. I just want to make changes in my life as I am mentally and physically capable of doing so, on a day to day basis, rather than mapping out my entire year before it has even begun. 

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I do think that it is important to look back on the year, however. I learned a lot about myself this year. I shall share, without going into too many personal details:

  • I am more capable of overcoming obstacles than ever before
  • Family is everything
  • Friends are family that you choose to have in your life
  • I strive to be the wife that my husband deserves
  • Teaching is truly a vocation in my life (far beyond a career choice)
  • Kids really do say the darndest things; especially my grade 7s
  • Photography is a passion that I definitely want to pursue further
  • Procrastination is my biggest enemy
  • Turning 25 makes me feel like a real grown up
  • I have a backbone and deserve to stand up for myself

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I wish all of my readers and friends a safe and prosperous New Year. I hope that you spend the evening with loved ones and I look forward to sharing more posts with all of you, here on Merzybean, in 2014.

See you next year,

Merzybean

Savannah’s Smile: Light the Night Walk

26 Sep
savannah

In loving memory.

Savannah H. Munoz had the biggest and brightest smile that truly could light up the night. It breaks my heart to say that Savannah had to battle against cancer as a beautiful young child. I had the pleasure of watching this beautiful little girl grow into her giant smile and while she is not physically with us, her spirit lives within us.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s (LLSC’s) Light The Night Walk is an event that brings help, awareness and hope to people battling blood cancers. It is always comforting to know that fundraising events actually put the money to good use! The Light the Night Event proudly states on their website that funds raised offer real help that include:

  • Valuable information for blood cancer patients and families
  • Support programs for patients and their families
  • Education on the latest medical advances for healthcare professionals
  • Advocacy efforts that draw government attention to cancer-related issues
  • Grants for leading researchers across Canada who are working to cure blood cancers

Now that you have a better idea of what the LLSC aims to achieve with its fundraising, let’s get back to Savannah’s Smile.

Savannah’s mother beautifully shares her story that led her to finding the strength to put together a team to raise money for LLSC research and to talk in Savannah’s honour. She goes on to candidly share that “A couple of years ago, Savannah and I watched as Light the Night 2008 lit the night from the Sick Kids Hospital lobby. She really wanted to do the walk but because of the cold weather and recent treatment, we were not able to. As we watched the people walk by, I promised her we’d do it together the following year. In my mind I pictured us walking with white balloons (symbolizing survivors) because I always believed she’d pull through with a full recovery….

I’ve finally found the strength to form a team and do the walk holding our gold lanterns in her memory….”

Savannah’s family and friends will be walking proudly on October 2nd in honour of her lasting memory. It would mean the world to the team (and me) if you could donate towards this incredible cause. You can find Savannah’s Smile team page here: Savannah’s Smile.

All donations, no matter how “big” or “small” would be greatly appreciated by the team and those thousands of Canadians battling leukemia, lymphoma , myeloma and other blood cancers.

Passing the light on,

Merzybean

Interview: Art by Steve Khan

1 Sep

It is my pleasure to introduce to my readers, Steve Khan. Not only is Steve one of the most generous, gentle souls, he is an incredible artist in all senses of the word.

“Steve Khan is a visual artist and a poet. He is originally from Vancouver, but has lived in many places across Canada. Although his diverse ethnic background allows him to ‘belong’ to many different boxes, he prefers to make his own new space.

He is a graduate with distinction from the joint Art and Art History Program at Sheridan College and the University of Toronto with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. He has recently won the Canadian Art Foundation Award for community development in the arts, and a nomination for the 2010 Mississauga Arts Council Volunteer of the Year Award.”

Steve Khan

MB: Tell us what type of artist you are.

SK: A relatively unknown one, but this interview will change that.

I draw things well, usually portraits. I have painted, sculpted, designed, and crafted art objects, but now also enjoy using text. My current work combines aesthetics with a particular medium to emphasize a concept. Even when words are conspicuously absent, they still influence what I make.

Side note: I have seen art change the world I live in, and still believe it can- so I’m quite romantic.

MB: What is your first memory of art?

SK: That’s tricky because my memory often fails me.

One of the first paintings I made in kindergarten hangs framed above my bed wherever I live. It uses the song ‘To sing a rainbow’ to illustrate a concert I sang very badly in when I was five. Myself, my sister, my mother and my kindergarten teacher are more important than everyone else, so we are much larger and in detail.

My favourite memory of art was Tino Seghal’s ‘conversation piece’ at the Guggenheim in New York. It taught me a viewer could be the subject of a work.

MB: What do you hope to achieve with your art?

SK: A comfortable living would be nice, but I will settle for infamy and gallery representation. Till then, I am compelled to make things without financial gain.

Leslie Dick explained it with these words: “You are materializing- taking something from the inside and putting it out into the world, so you can be relieved of it.”

In terms of intent, I use humour to incite conversation, usually about something unspeakable, with the hope that once spoken out loud, it can change.

MB: What is your favourite medium to work with?

SK: Currently, words.

MB: What has been the most difficult part of your journey as an artist?

SK: Since I was taught say nothing when you have nothing nice to say: first, learning where I want to belong (as opposed to fit) in the art world. A close second is getting used to rejection. The hardest lesson is grasping John Baldessari’s overused quote that “Art comes out of failure”. I let go of making only the ‘right’ choices when I realized my mistakes teach me more.

MB: What advice do you have for other artists?

SK: Debbie Fields (creator of Mrs. Fields Bakeries) said: “. . . the greatest failure is not to try”.

Make things for yourself and things your collector will buy.

Gurpreet Sehra told me : “Take risks. Make work that pushes beyond what you are comfortable producing”.

Since critics will tear your work apart with them, learn how to defend your (self and your) work with words.

Silence is not necessarily a bad reaction; it could be delayed gratification.

Without constant rejection, acceptance (or recognition) wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying.

To avoid learning you inadvertently stole someone else’s idea, read about art a lot.

When you don’t feel like making anything at all, try to remember how you felt when you finished something. Preferably something you liked.

Art school will teach you things you can’t learn by yourself. However, if you find someone who curbs your need to make things, don’t hang around them too long.

Besides that, no matter what anyone tells you, you are still an artist.

MB: Are you working on a current project you can share with us?

SK: One uses pennies, one uses fruit and the third uses vinyl. Sorry, but no more clues til they’re finished.

MB: Is there somewhere that you dream of showing in?

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal- slightly more ambitious than the wall in Shopper’s World my dad keeps encouraging me to apply to.

MB: Who or what inspires you?

SK: In no particular order: you; Gurpreet Sehra; my mother’s writing; Tino Seghal; my sister; The Permanent Longing for Elsewhere- a screening curated by cheyenne turions; Darren Bader; Andrea Levy’s Never far from nowhere; my father’s criticism; Manhattan; one or two night stands; Divya Mehra’s interview in C Magazine and text pieces; Montréal; Zadie Smith’s essays and novel White Teeth; Breann Ritchie; food- though I have an intense allergy to anything bland; Mark Crofton Bell; Camella Da Eun Kim; Jean-Michel Basquiat; artist quotes that attempt to define art; the sublime; Alejandro Cescarco; Emma Donaghue’s Room; Margo Thomas; William Kentridge; Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy; beauty; the Guerrilla Girls; male hipsters; Zacharai Logan; Laura Chiovitti; Javier Fuentes-Leon’s Contracorriente; Francisco-Fernando Granados; Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz; Andy Warhol’s quotes; Martha Rosler; Irmgard Emmelhainz; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun; Hennessey Youngman’s Art Thoughtz; dancers; Thomas Ruff; Asal Aslemand; William E. Jones; Simon Paul Black; Surasi Kusolwong; music mashups; James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; Janet Cardiff and not George Bures Miller; Kent Monkman’s Group of Seven Inches; Sarah Waterfield; Samuel Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water; Amin Rehman; loss; Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World; Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Simon Fujiwara; critics who probably never were artists but find just the right words to describe them; Xavier Dolan’s les amours imaginaires; and me. Perhaps more interesting than who/what is my list always grows.

MB: One word to describe your relationship with art?

SK: Co-dependent (which is defined as an unhealthy psychological reliance of one person on another)

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If you are as mesmerized by Steve as I am,  make sure to hit him up on the below social media outlets:

Twitter: @stevekhan
Until next time,
Merzybean

 

The Value of Sharing Photographs

16 Aug

A photograph holds so much value; from the memories that it eternalizes, to the bursts of nostalgia that it ignites, a photograph speaks a lot more than just 1000 words.  My passion for photography began at a really early age and I knew that when it came time to get married, pictures would be a big focus of importance in the wedding planning process.

Having recently been married, I can speak to the importance of photography. Weddings involve several different stages and a photograph is the best way to capture a snapshot of each of these milestones that lead up to the main event. Between the engagement photos, wedding ceremony and the wedding reception, there are several memories to be captured.

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Once all of the photos have been taken, what do you do with them? Do they sit on your computer in a folder that gets neglected? Do the pictures stay on a CD or a USB stick that eventually gets lost over time? I am all about printing my photographs and having the memories live on, rather than having the pictures become out of sight and out of mind. One of my favourite ways to keep the memories alive is to create a photo book so that I can enjoy my pictures.

When I was in high school, I went on a trip to Italy and the photographs that I had from that trip were unbelievable. I decided that I needed to do something more than just put the pictures into a photo album. I stumbled across Shutterfly and that changed the way I share my photographs. I put together a beautiful hardcover photo book that I was able to customize and share with my family and friends. Another photo book that I made, also with Shutterfly, was a memory book for my husband on our 1 year dating anniversary back in 2007.

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The beauty of a photo book is that the final product is what you make it to be; you can customize the photo book to be unique to you. I plan on making a photo book for my wedding, the tricky part is deciding which photographs to use! Sharing photographs stirs valuable conversation, evokes memories that are near and dear to my heart, and I am able to relive special moments in my life that I never want to forget.

How do you share your photos?

Merzybean

Gaga Popping the Popular Culture Bubble with ARTPOP

13 Aug

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It is no surprise that Lady Gaga is attracting controversial headlines, with the early release of her single Applause off of her upcoming album ARTPOP. It is also no surprise, that with the digital age we live in, that artists are facing the threat of hackers leaking their music before their intended release dates. Gaga, along with Jay-Z and Katy Perry, have recently fallen victim to these “pop music emergencies.”

The official Lady Gaga website posted the below Pop Music Emergency statement:

A POP MUSIC EMERGENCY IS UNDERWAY 911 – 911 SUMMON THE MONSTER TROUPES

DUE TO HACKERS AN ABUNDANCE OF LOW/HIGH QUALITY LEAKS…WE ISSUE THIS POP MUSIC EMERGENCY…MONSTERS SPREAD THE WORD

In true Gaga fashion, the Haus of Gaga released the below YouTube video entitled Lady Gaga is Over: A Film by Haus of Gaga, sending subliminal messages to fans telling them not to buy her new single. Surely this is not the intent of Mother Monster. This type of shock-value marketing (popping the pop culture bubble of mainstream ideas, if you will) is clever because it gets people talking, whether they are fans or not. I applaud Gaga on that move (among several other similar marketing stunts over the course of her career).

Aside from the early leak of Applause and the controversy it is generating, the song itself has had highly mixed reviews. Gaga released an official audio of the song on her Vevo channel on August 12th. Personally, I did not hear any of the low quality leaked versions of the song. And truthfully, my initial reaction was: oh yes, Gaga has done it again! Not that Gaga is frankly interested in the opinions of bloggers, as she so subtly tweeted. However, I think that this is in reference to those who are just constantly looking to criticize for the sake of it (Perez…Hilton…).

Interestingly enough, Rolling Stone, MTV and Fuse liken Applause to Gaga’s early work in her The Fame album. I can see how this comparison is made, as Applause has a club feel with a theatrical flare. Applause does what any good pop song should do: electrify listeners. I think that Gaga ignites an urge in listeners to dance and move; hence the ARTPOP movement. Gaga has made it known that she lives for Pop music and if the lyrics of this song do not reflect this, nothing will. Gaga lives for the applause and she lives for her fans; this is what we have been told.

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Pop culture was in art now,
Art in Pop culture in me.

As a self-proclaimed Little Monster, Lady Gaga always gets two claws up from Merzybean.

Interview: Pick Stephanie to be in the Pak!

8 Aug

If you are a fan of basketball, dancing or both, you will want to play close attention to this interview. Stephanie Addorisio, from Stouffville Ontario, is looking for your support in the You Pick the Pak competition presented by Foot Locker. I got a chance to speak with Stephanie about the competition and what it would mean to her to win the final spot in the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak.

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MB: Tell us about your dancing career. When did you start dancing and what type of dancing do you do?

SA: I started dancing when I was only 4 years old. I competed in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Acro, HipHop and Lyrical up until the age of 16. After I stopped competing I started teaching recreational dance for the Town of Stouffville. To keep in shape and in the dance industry I attend drop in dance classes at Vybe Dance Studio in Markham.

MB: Where did you train as a dancer and what experiences have shaped the type of dancer you have become?

SA: I trained at Elite Danceworx in Markham for many years. Elite Danceworx is such an amazing place to train professionally because all the teachers are so passionate about their job. I had the best years of my life at Elite Danceworx. The long training hours and great friendships I built during those years have definitely shaped the type of dancer I have become because I am a team player and my level of skill is very technical.

MB: Do you have any experience with professional dancers/performers?

SA: I had the most amazing opportunity to travel to Los Angeles to train at Paula Morgan’s week long summer intensive. I have also taken classes with Blake McGrath and Mia Michaels who are phenomenal dancers and choreographers.

MB: Give us some insight on your Raptors Dance Pak audition.

SA: It was LONG! I got there around 9:30am, the audition started at 10. There were approximately 250 girls who attended and about 4 major cuts within the day. The last round they chose girls to immediately be part of the Dance Pak and chose 8 girls to be part of the “Pick the Pak” contest.  By 5:30 I was happy the audition was over, ready to eat and extremely excited to be part of such an amazing experience.  

MB: How was your experience with the photo shoot for the Pick the Pak contest?

SA: It was super cool, I felt like such a celebrity. When I entered the Practise Court there was a rack of many different options of Raptors gear. I got to take a casual sporty look, a classy look and then the famous Raptors Dance Pak dress look.  I also had a video interview with Kat who is a former Raptors Dance Pak girl and is now a Raptors Host and got the opportunity to dance for all the voters to see my skill.

MB: Who have been your biggest support throughout your journey as a dancer?

SA: My family is definitely my support system, my mom has always been so amazing from travelling to competitions with me, getting me ready for every performance and also being that one person I looked for in the crowd (she was always there, and still is).

MB: What is so important about dance choreography to you as a dancer?

SA: Dance choreography is very important but I like to think what you make of the choreography you are given is what makes you an amazing dancer. Choreographers don’t just want to see you learn and execute the moves and steps properly; they want to see your personality shine. I really think at the Raptors Dance Pak audition the judges really got a taste of my personality  through the choreography and that’s why I was chosen to be in this contest.  

MB: What is your biggest fear?

SA: I would honestly have to say sharks, I know I am hardly ever near them but the thought of them already makes me squirm (as I am writing about them I am squirming). If I ever got the chance to swim with sharks and was having a “You Only Live Once” moment, you would see tears streaming down my face underwater.

MB: Who is your biggest celebrity influence?

SA: I wouldn’t necessarily say influence, but maybe more inspiration… I definitely would say Miley Cyrus. I love her style and attitude. If I were to ever meet her I think she would be down to earth, funny and bubbly. She seems like she has this attitude where nothing fazes her and she stays positive. I also love her charity involvement with get your good on. Getyourgoodon.org.

MB: What would winning the Pick the Pak contest mean to you?

SA: Ever since I was younger I knew I wanted to be in the Raptors Dance Pak. My cousin Danny who lives in Niagara used to always tell me he could see me dancing on the court and that when I made it on the team that I would have to supply him with unlimited amounts of tickets. Winning this contest would mean I get to live up to that promise and also live up to my own person goals of getting back out in the dance industry and performing in front of large audiences again.

MB: In a word, how do you think it would feel to perform with the Raptors Dance Pak?

SA: Oh wow I can just picture it now, because when I go to the games and walk in with the bright lights and the cheering crowd, I wouldn’t even be able to put into words how I would feel. I know I would definitely interact with the crowd and get everyone pumped up because I am a natural performer and entertainer, but initially I imagine I would be overwhelmed by the crowd. I am most excited to be part of a dance team again, I miss that relationship with many other girls who all have the same interest as you.

MB: How do you feel about Toronto sports and the Toronto Raptors?

SA: I am a Toronto sports fan all around, I l love my Leafs, my Marlies, my Jays, my Argos, my Toronto FC, my Toronto Rock and lastly and my most favourite, my Toronto Raptors. I am a Toronto girl at heart what can I say. I also love staying active so any sport or activity interests me.

MB: Leave us with one quote to best describe this experience for you.

SA: All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them – Walt Disney

I am in love with this quote because for the longest time I was nervous to get back into the spotlight and performing and the past few years I thought about auditioning for the Dance Pak but it wasn’t until this past year when one of my close friends passed away that I realized, life is too short and to take every moment as if it were your last. I don’t want to live with regrets and dance is something I have such great passion for.

Thanks for taking the time to read this interview and don’t forget to vote for me!

552851_10151781949959413_432400846_nFun facts about Stephanie:

Sign: Gemini

Hometown: Stouffville

All Time Favourite Raptor: Aaron Gray #34

All Time Favourite Raptors Moment: When the Raptors beat Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1996!

Favourite Musical Artist: Usher all the way, he can really get me grooving!

Describe yourself in three words: Creative, Loud, Entertaining

Hidden Talent: I Tasmanian devil tornado through my room when getting dressed!

Favourite Food: NUTELLA! On anything and everything!

Dream Job: Professional dancer or wardrobe stylist

Celebrity look-a-like: Jessica Alba

Pre dance ritual: A big deep breath, stretch, and a hardcore ab workout

Hobbies other than dance: Crafting, car singing (off key), reading, playing any summer sports, working out, ATVing and snowboarding

Not only will voting mean the world to Stephanie, but you could win tickets to a Toronto Raptors game as well as a meet and greet! You can support Stephanie by voting for her at: www.raptors.com/pickthepak and liking her fan page on Facebook. Don’t forget, vote for the Stephanie with the PH in her name.

Vote

Vote for Stephanie now!

Lets go Raptors!

Merzybean

Hello from Greece

28 Jun

Hello friends! I am writing to you from glorious Greece. Don’t expect too many posts from this end of the world, as I am busy basking in the sun and enjoying the beautiful weather.

I wanted to write a quick post because it is only when I am on the beach and walking through the village that I am so often reminded of the simpler things in life.

I am in Greece for three beautiful occassions: my wedding, the 60th wedding anniversary of my grandparents, and a family reunion. It simply does not get better than this. Material possessions come and go but the one guarantee in life is that as long as you are surrounded by love, the rest will fall into place as it should.

Well, I can guarantee you that I am surrounded by love. My family is spread all over the world and everyone will be meeting here in Greece, slowly but surely. As the island begins to fill with my family, my heart will be full of happiness. The greatest joy in the world is to love and be loved.

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Sending you sunshine from Greece,

Merzybean

Fitch, Please- Ellen Weighs In

17 May

No pun intended, Ellen DeGeneres weighs in on the outlandish comments made by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries. Jeffries is finding himself in a lot of hot water, as he makes horribly judgemental comments such as,  “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

I think that Jeffries has blurred the line between exclusionary and downright narrow minded. Ideally, one would expect Jeffries to either back track or apologize for such close-minded thinking. On the contrary, he takes pride in his company’s lack of empathy and understanding of the human body.

The fact that we live in a world where we are going backwards instead of progressing forwards, essentially teaching children not to be accepting of everyone, is shocking to me. A company whose brand relies on such exclusionary marketing has a lot to be ashamed of. This is not the message that children should be faced with, nor is this type of branding that teaches children anything positive about body image.

I would add more to this but I think that Ellen says it best:

 

Until next time,

Merzybean.

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