Archive | May, 2012

Tune-day Tuesday: Linkin Park- Burn it Down

29 May

Linkin Park has been one of my favourite bands for over ten years. Frontman, Chester Bennington, has a voice that is unique and powerful; a smooth grit, perhaps. It was only a matter of time before Linkin Park made an appearance in my Tune-day Tuesday installments.

The band collaborated with Jay-Z to put together an album, Collision Course. This was one of the most epic albums put out because the mashup of Linkin Park songs with Jay-Z songs was something that was fresh and brought fans together, despite their preferred genre.

Linkin Park has released a new song, Burn it Down:

I can’t get enough of this song because of the same reasons that I love Hybrid Theory (the band’s debut album), their recognizable and signature sound. Linkin Park fans have been waiting a while for a new song and the wait was oh so worth it!

 

The cycle repeated
 As explosions broke in the sky
 All that I needed
 Was the one thing I couldn’t find
 And you were there at the turn
 Waiting to let me know

 

We’re building it up
 To break it back down
 We’re building it up
 To burn it down
 We can’t wait
 To burn it to the ground

What is your favourite Linkin  Park song?

Merzybean.

Guest Blog: Raising Money. Raising Hope. Raising Changes.

25 May

It is my great pleasure to post the first guest blog here at Merzybean. My friend Michelle is partaking in a fundraising event that hits very close to home for me, The Sears Great Canadian Run. I am disappointed that I had not heard of the event until Michelle brought it to my attention, but am thrilled to include a blog post about something that pulls on my heartstrings so much. I am very impressed with the fundraising event, as Sears is working towards making a difference in the lives of children and families in need, while contributing greatly to pediatric oncology initiatives at SickKids Hospital. I spent a bit of time at SickKids with a very special little girl, and am dedicating this post in honour of sweet Savannah, an angel taken far too soon.

I extend my congratulations and best of luck to Michelle and to everyone who is participating in the Sears Great Canadian Run. Events like this must be championed and appreciated because it is so important to spread awareness and fund raise in order to make a difference. With that being said, I am pleased to introduce my friend Michelle:

The Sears Great Canadian Run 2012

Hey everyone, thanks to everyone for taking the time out to read this guest blog. First I wanted to tell you all a little about me. I am avid traveler, fierce soccer player and Harry Potter enthusiast!

The main purpose of this blog is to get a message out. This message is about a great battle that many Canadian children find themselves fighting. This battle is with Cancer.

On average, an estimated 1,310 children and youth aged 0-19 years develop cancer each year. Cancer is the most common cause of non-accidental death in Canada’s children beyond the newborn period. In the past research in the areas of children’s cancer have been neglected as it was believed that cancer in children and in adults was the same. The types of cancer diagnosed are vastly different than those found in most adults. These cancers affect the body differently and are found in different areas of the body. There is a great need for more research on the effects and causes of children’s cancers.

Since 1985 the mortality rate of children diagnosed with cancer has declined (luckily). Although this his statistic shines a ray of hope on the fight the downside is that, although they may be considered cured, the effects of cancer treatments have a long-term affect on these children. It is a never ending fight. Their fight never ends.

I will be participating in fundraising running event on September 22 to help raise funds for research and support. The Sears Great Canadian Run is now in its second year. The run is a 100km course starting in Toronto and ending in Blue Mountain.  I will be participating as part of a Welcomehome Relocations team. We will work together, running different legs of the race to complete the course. It’s about going the distance together and enjoying the journey.

The Run will support the Sears Canada Charitable foundation. Sears aims to be a significant fundraising resource in the childhood cancer area. The funds generated from the relay will be directed to The Hospital for Sick Children and national initiatives across Canada that support the research and treatment of kids cancer and help fund 16 national pediatric oncology centers.

I am actively working toward either finding more team members or donations. So far I have received $200 in donations. It’s a great start but I want to raise more. If you would like to make a donation you can visit our team page or my personal donation page. Every little bit helps toward finding a cure.

Once again I thank all of your for taking the time to read this entry. I hope that I was able to bring some awareness to the issue of kids cancer. I would love to hear your stories and experiences with kids cancer.

Finally, I want to give a big, big, big, big thanks to my dear friend Mary-Anne for posting this blog and allowing me to use her platform to get my message out. She has been a great friend of mine for many, many years and many, many years to come. Her writing style and insight has been a great inspiration to mine.

RUN for the CHALLENGE … RUN for the FUN … RUN for the CAMARADERIE … RUN for the SCENERY … RUN for the PARTY … RUN AGAIN TO HELP END KIDS CANCER!

1 Girl 1 Gay: Chatting with Philip Tetro from 1 Girl 5 Gays

24 May

Here in Toronto, MTV films a television show called 1 Girl 5 Gays (1G5G), which features a panel of five gay men who, along with the endearing host, Aliya-Jasmine Sovani, share candid and personal experiences on a wide variety of topics in each episode. The beauty of the show is that it alternates its panel members every week, so the audience never knows who to expect to see sitting on the couches. There are over ten panel members who the audience has grown to know and relate to. As a fan of the show, not a week goes by where I don’t watch an episode. The show brings awareness, laughter, tears and all other imaginable emotions every week to its audience. Each panel member is unique and speaks his mind, often leaving nothing unsaid!

With that being said, I recently had the privilege of asking Philip Tetro, one of the show’s most loveable panel members, some questions about himself and about his experience with 1G5G.

Photo credit: Brianna Premo Photography

Philip Tetro is a Toronto-based singer, actor, choreographer, blogger and television personality. Born and raised in Mississauga, just west of Toronto, Philip learned at a young age that self-expression, positivity and confidence are vital parts of being the best person you can be.

Tell me how you started on 1 Girl 5 Gays.

I was originally on The After Show (with Dan Levy and Jessi Cruickshank). Everyone kept telling me that I should audition for 1 girl 5 gays, but I didn’t seriously consider it until I heard The After Show was ending and I didn’t want to leave MTV just yet. I had my audition for 1g5g on a Wednesday and I did my first episode not even four days later.

Do you use 1G5G as a platform to educate viewers and put out a message?

I didn’t have any goals or intentions when I started 1g5g, but I quickly realized the reason why the show is so popular is because people can relate to us. All I’ve ever been is myself, and if people learn from that or get a message from that, then I’m proud to do so.

Why is it important to you to have a show on the air about love and sex in the gay community?

I think it’s important to have a popular show about sex in general. Our generation was missing a place to talk about things that every person, gay or otherwise, can relate to or understand. There’s relief in knowing that there are people your age out there who go through similar sexual experiences as you and that it’s okay to talk about them.

How do you react when viewers say that the show represents the gay community of Toronto negatively/positively?

It’s difficult to think that one television show can represent an entire group of people entirely – that was never our goal. Does Modern Family represent every family? Did Will and Grace represent every relationship between a gay man and his straight, female best friend? We represent ourselves and I think that’s the most important thing. It was never my intention to represent anyone otherwise.

You seem comfortable in your own skin. Have you always felt this way?

Yes! My mother taught me that you can’t love anyone else before you love yourself entirely, so I learned from a young age that confidence and self-esteem are key to being happy.

What advice would you offer an LGBT youth, struggling to find his/her identity?

Stop struggling. Let it happen!

Has 1G5G opened new doors for you?

Absolutely! It’s helped me make life-long friendships with a fraternity of brothers that I can turn to at anytime. The experience I have with MTV is so special and unique: if the only door that opens for me is the one with twenty of my closest friends inside of it, then that’s the door I want to open.

What are you passionate about that you don’t get to discuss on the show?

That’s the best thing about this show: nothing is off-limits. I can just as easily cry about Christmas as I can talk about oral sex!

Last question, can’t escape a Philip Tetro interview without asking about your undying love for Madonna and how her music influences you.

There’s a Madonna song for every mood or situation that I’m in. She’s taught me about self-expression, dancing, not having any regrets, how to deal with men, how to appreciate the relationship with my family/parents, and how to deal with a broken heart. Her music is my bible.

1 Girl 5 Gays airs Fridays at 11:00 p.m. on MTV

A huge thank you to Philip for taking the time to answer my questions so candidly. You can connect with Philip on Twitter and Facebook.

Until next time,

Merzybean.

Bully Movie: Don’t Be a Bystander, Stand Up.

21 May

Bullying seems to be a much more popular topic of conversation today. Why is that? There used to be days where being a bully was cool. How disgusting, right? There also used to be days where it was cool to be the popular kid making fun of the nerds in front of a crowd in order to gain popularity and to get a laugh. Who started this? Why was it ever “cool” to treat someone less than equally because someone deemed them “uncool”? The topic of bullying hits very close to home for me on a personal level and it is something that I am extremely passionate about.

When I was in elementary school we had ICQ and MSN. Kids today has so many more social media outlets that put them in a vulnerable position and essentially puts a target on their backs. Between text messages and the World Wide Web, kids can’t escape bullies even when they get home from school. It’s bad enough to be scared of the bus rides to and from school, and to dread lunch time. Now kids are dreading going home in fear of what might be written about them on Facebook.

When I was in high school, my friend and I approached our vice principal, and together we collaborated to create the Anti-Bullying club. We wanted to make a change, it needed to become cool to stand up for others and to stand up against injustices. It is clubs like this and films like Bully that need to keep popping up across the world in order to eradicate bullying.

I’m so pleased that Bully has been created and that people can watch this raw documentary so that they can see the harsh reality of bullying. Bullying is an epidemic that needs to be stopped. It is inexcusable and heart shattering that kids are committing suicide because they cannot bear the brunt of the name calling, the teasing, the being pushed around, and the torment. It isn’t good enough to make excuses or to turn a blind eye in hopes that the bully is just going through a phase. It isn’t good enough to be a bystander and to do nothing when you see your others getting picked on. It isn’t good enough for teachers and principals to brush punishments for bullies under the rug. Excuses are not good enough anymore.

The trailer for Bully reveals the intimate and heartbreaking stories that the film will reveal, showcasing to the world that bullying doesn’t go away. The impact of bullying is devastating, when are more people going to stand up and make a change? It’s not cool anymore, it never should have been. It’s cool to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

Please share this post and the trailer for the film and try to help make a difference. Don’t just be a bystander, stand up.

Passionately yours,

Merzybean.

My Favourite Places in Pictures: Disney World

17 May

Disney World is probably my favourite place in the world. It doesn’t matter how many times I have been, no trip is ever the same. The magic of Disney is incomparable and untouchable. As you will see in the pictures that I have chosen to share, I love Animal Kingdom, The Boardwalk, and of course Magic Kingdom the most. Animal Kingdom has a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of my family members, because it reminds us of home: Zimbabwe and South Africa. The park really reflects Disney’s efforts towards nature and conservation. We usually stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas when in Disney World because of the beautiful atmosphere and breathtaking view. Last but not least, Magic Kingdom is the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the Disney Princesses, and everything that’s in between! No need for explanation, the magic speaks for itself.

It was very difficult to choose photographs (that I have taken over the years), so definitely anticipate future Disney World posts.

Disney Boardwalk:

Disney’s Magic Kingdom:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom & Animal Kingdom Lodge:

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

As the great Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: ‘The Voice’ Finalists

8 May

For something a little bit different this week, I decided (thanks to the brilliance of my brother) to feature the finalists of NBC’s ‘The Voice‘ for my Tune-day Tuesday installment. Tonight, the ultimate champion is awarded the title of The Voice, while receiving the ultimate prize in the industry, $100, 000 and a record deal with Universal Republic!

Those who watch the show are familiar with the show’s format, and for those of you who don’t, this is how it works:

  • Blind Auditions
  • Battle Rounds
  • America Votes
Onto the fun stuff, the music! Led by four current and diverse musician coaches, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Cee Lo Green, the contestants are mentored and guided throughout the journey that is the show. Each coach/mentor has one musician remaining in the competition for the finale and for Tune-day Tuesday, I picked my favourite song performed by the finalists last night.
Team Cee Lo Green: Juliet Simms singing Free Bird
Juliet Simms has such a beautiful, raspy voice and has been likened to legends such as Janice Joplin and even Steven Tyler. I absolutely love the tone and texture of her voice and I think that she is the definition of a female powerhouse rocker. With every note she sings, I feel her emotion and passion for singing and this is something that I admire in an artist. Last night, Simms sang Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Adam Levine said it best, the grit she put into that song was perfect and quite untouchable. The song was symbolic in terms of the point at which the competition is at, as well as the future that lies ahead for Simms’ career. I am a true fan, as she slays every song she performs.
The point in the competition, where Simms proved that she was the woman to beat was when she performed James Brown’s It’s A Man’s, Man’s Man’s World and blew it out of the water. For that reason alone, it is worth me posting for your listening and viewing pleasure. It is also ironic and worth nothing that Simms is the only woman left in the finale, and I think that she has a strong chance of winning (if it was up to me). I can honestly say that I would buy her album today.
Team Christina Aguliera: Chris Mann singing You Raise Me Up
Chris Mann brings such a beautiful uniqueness to The Voice (as well as its competitor show, American Idol) because of his strong Operatic background. With the support of Christina Aguilera, Mann never steered too far from his Operatic roots in order to fit in and become a “mainstream” artist. This is part of the reason I love him so much as an artist, and it contributes to why I respect his artistry so much. When I first saw Mann early on in the competition, I was on the fence and couldn’t decide if I was going to land up being a fan of his, partially due to what I thought was a bit of an ego. However, after his performance of Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up last night, I was blown away and that performance and his humility confirmed that I am in fact a fan. He could not have ended the season on a more appropriate and poignant note, in my opinion. He did an incredibly beautiful rendition of Groban’s gut wrenching song and did it justice. Mann has the ability to bridge the gap between a younger audience and a more mature sound, and the fact that he is one of the finalists of the show has proven that he has indeed bridged the gap. As Cee Lo said last night, he was “so cool”.
Team Adam Levine: Tony Lucca singing 99 Problems
When I heard that Tony Lucca was going to be singing 99 Problems, which is originally a Jay-Z song (who I am a huge fan of) I was a little bit skeptical about it, to be honest. I think that it was a very brave risk that he took and while I enjoyed his rendition, he certainly didn’t avoid the backlash of Christina Aguilera, who was unimpressed with the song’s misogynist undertone. He did a great job of making the song his own and holding onto the metaphor of the song and owning that it is the obstacles that life presents which are the b*tches/problems! I think that it is very difficult to take a song like 99 Problems and cross genres the way Lucca did. Overall, I did enjoy it though. He brought a refreshing and upbeat vibe to the song and while I enjoyed his performance last night, along with his performances throughout the season, I don’t think that Lucca will be the last one standing with the title of The Voice.
Team Blake Shelton: Jermaine Paul singing I Believe I Can Fly
Jermaine Paul caught everyone’s attention early on in the competition because of his role as a background singer for the ever so talented, Alicia Keys. With a voice like his, it was truly only a matter of time before Paul moved from a background singer to a solo artist in his own rite. He sings with so much soul and power and his rendition of I Believe I Can Fly, like Mann singing You Raise Me Up, was extremely appropriate for the point at which the competition is at. Cee Lo said that Paul sings with such simplicity and I couldn’t agree with that statement more. His voice is so strong and he makes it seem so effortless as he truly reaches the audience and connects with the songs that he chooses. His coach, Blake Shelton, paid him the highest of compliments, telling him that he wishes he could channel his performances as well as Paul does.
It is safe to say that I love The Voice as well as all four of the final contestants! The finale airs on NBC in 15 minutes, so with that being said I am going to end this blog post. Please share who your favourite artist is and it’ll be exciting to see who America has chosen to be the ultimate victor.
Merzybean.