As promised, here is what I wrote for this week’s edition of The Voice. It was shortened for publication, but here is the full version for you.

Failure is not only a part of life, but also a part of success. That was the message George Stroumboulopoulos left graduating UBC arts students with last Friday night.

Stroumboulopoulos was the special guest at the sold-out UBC Arts Undergraduate Society’s Last Lecture in the 525-seat Old Auditorium on campus.

Typically, the last lecture is a speech given by a keynote speaker to graduates on the precipice of entering the working world. Instead, Stroumboulopoulos reimagined the night as more of a conversation.

“If 10 years from now you’re not doing what you want but you’re alive, you’ve won. And that’s how I approach every day at work,” he told the crowd. Stroumboulopoulos noted that no one is qualified to predict where they or the world will be in five or ten years, and advised not to place so much weight on cliché five and ten year plans.

After being rejected by an arts school, Stroumboulopoulos more or less stumbled into journalism when he saw an ad for Humber College, realizing he could make a career out of being on the radio.

Stroumboulopoulos shared some of his moments of challenge with the audience, including failing high school chemistry and his short-lived stint hosting the ill-fated reality series The One. At the time, the show was considered to be the biggest failure in US network history.

“You have to not care if people like you,” Stroumboulopoulos told the crowd. “You have to like you.”

Engineering graduate Marianne Black, 23, said she was really impressed with the talk. She said she took away the message that, “Failures are okay.”

That sentiment was echoed by Meghan Anderson, 21, a graduating international relations student who said, “It’s not the end of the world. You’re going to have failures.”

Andrew Lavers, who coordinated the event, said the audience response was “really positive. In fact, people said they wish it could have gone on longer.”

Stroumboulopoulos will be bringing his popular late-night television show to Vancouver to film at CBC the first week of April. Tickets to the tapings are already sold out.

Gotye

February 13, 2012

Though not long ago you might never have heard of Gotye (pronounced “gore-ti-yeah”), there’s no denying his sudden overtaking of radio airwaves with his break-out hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

The song is all at once catchy, spooky, and empathetically evocative.

Beginning with a plucky guitar interrupted by a Wonka-esque xylophone, it’s not hard to imagine Oompa-Loompas dancing in time to the rhythm.

The lyrics carry a cautionary tale like the famed candy workers would be apt to dispense, telling of not only a love lost, but so too a friendship in the process of a break-up.

Lines like “You told me you felt so happy you could die” followed by “I told myself you were right for me/But felt so lonely in your company” coupled with warbling guitar sounds draw the listener in as the tension builds in anticipation of the climactic chorus.

The mood shifts from melancholic and foreboding to the guttural cry of a lover scorned, with Gotye asserting, “But you didn’t have to cut me off/Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing.”

Having New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra’s breathy female vocals injected into the mix for the second verse adds an extra dimension and sense of unfolding drama.

The song ends with Gotye singing a layered chorus and an abrupt xylophone finish, leaving the listener with a sense that perhaps it was all just a strange and wonderful dream, though not one they’re soon to forget.

(Written for Specialty Writing, January 30th, 2012)

Georgia Straight

December 10, 2011

Last Tuesday evening Tara and I were interviewed about Harmless Innovations by Stephen Hui, The Georgia Straight’s web editor and technology editor (who also happens to be vegan and is often the first to report on vegan happenings around Vancouver).

The interview was published online Wednesday, and definitely got Tara and I quite excited. There were reports of an inability to stop beaming coming from us both.

V-Gun

It also got our creative juices flowing, and for myself reminded me of some things I want to create and sell that I had misplaced in my memory. One of them being vegan dog and cat toys, free of leather, feathers, fur (sometimes even from cats and dogs!) and who even knows what else ‘they’ come up with as a money-making scheme at the expense of animals.

It looks like we’re going to be at another craft fair next weekend put on by Occupy Vancouver (called Occupy Santa), and we’ve put together a menu of delicious options that can be bundled together in a basket for holiday gift giving that Tara posted in our new online store.

We’ll be making festive rounds on December 22nd and 23rd, either to people’s homes or businesses, and you can decide for yourself if you would like the order delivered to you, or your recipient directly. (That’s not to say that you can’t be your own recipient, because you surely can!) For an extra $5 on top of your edible order you get a basket, delivery, and a carol sung by Tara and myself.

Eco-friendly, animal-friendly, and Vancouver's own and only vegan shoe store!

In the meantime, tomorrow I’ll be taking in some holiday festivities at Nice Shoes, who are teaming up with the waiting-patiently-to-open Fairy Cakes cupcakery with a holiday cupcake and soy nog event. I’ve invited another journalism student to come with, and after we’re meeting with a friend of mine who goes to Langara part-time to discuss starting up a student veg group in the new year.

Should be a good day! (Now, if only I could motivate myself to finish those outstanding assignments that are holding me back from really getting into the holiday spirit, all my days would be even better!)