Archive for June, 2013

This was originally posted on my J-school classmate’s blog, Hipster in a Tub.

At this point, I think it’s crucial that any friend of Kevin Rushworth should take a moment to copy/paste this post onto their own blog and spread the word within their own networks.

The more people read, the more people with help, money or things to offer can reach the person affected.

Kevin, if you are reading, we’ve got your back!

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Friends, former classmates, strangers, neighbors and colleagues:

I know we’re all busy with our day-to-day lives but I’m inviting you to take the time to read the following message. For those of us who have not been directly affected by the Alberta floods, it’s hard to picture and understand the devastating consequences of the flood. But the reality is that some have lost everything, including their vehicle and all of their belongings.

Kevin, my good friend, former j-school buddy and the hardworking Editor-in-Chief of the High River Times is one of them.

On duty in High River, Kevin saw the water levels rise at a rapid rate. He had to be rescued along with other residents who were still in the area at the time.

His car keys vanished in the overflowing river, his basement suite was completely submerged along with the High River Times office, home to Kevin and Kevin’s staff.

What’s really upsetting is that Kevin had literally just moved in his new place and had a house-warming just a couple weeks back. He had bought a brand new bed and new furniture and all his belongings, including his beloved books are now gone. He was able to save his camera and his laptop computer but that’s about all, folks.

Now, if this has happened to you, you understand how disheartening of a situation this can be. If you were not affected by the floods, I’d like you for a minute to put yourself in Kevin’s shoes: You’re starting out a new job, in a new town, and you have just settled in. And now, everything is gone.

Yes, it is only “stuff”, and what truly matters is that Kevin is OK.

However, I think it’d be amazing if we could come together and help Kevin out in this time of hardship.

I’m inviting every one of you to make cash donation – minimum of $10 plz – , or cheques to the name of Kevin Rushworth. Ikea gift cards and gift cards to the mall for new clothes welcomed too!

Kevin is one of the most hard-working and reliable person I know and I know he’d be the first one to be of helping hand if one of his friends were in a similar situation. Open your heart and help a friend in need. If you do not know Kevin in person but have been touched by his story (http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/06/24/reporters-life-washes-away-in-flood), do not hesitate!

Contact me via phone at 403.903.0898, via Twitter @ClaireMig or via email claire.miglionico@gmail.com for more information on where to drop off donations.

Sincerely,

Claire M.

This has been my first trek back to the downtown area since the evacuation on Thursday evening.

Despite it being in my blood to document major events as they happen in any way I can – via photography, reporting, social media, whatever – this time it felt different. I wondered if I was just playing the grief tourist in showing myself around. During my trek east on Memorial Drive where around Fifth Street NW onward was still flooded – it hit me.

Call it a form of survivor’s guilt – not in the classic sense but rather “property survivor’s guilt”; feeling bad that my home came out OK. I’m nestled back down in my sleepy southwest suburb where basements seem unscathed and – bottled-water buying instances aside – it’s like nothing catastrophic in my neighbourhood had ever really happened (and that’s the case). Many people on the other hand, and not just in Calgary, have to rebuild their whole lives.

I shed a single tear for my city today but I’m sure those affected have cried far more than that.

When I couldn’t go any further east of Memorial at around Second Street, I made the long trek to the downtown core on the C-Train line.

On the west end where there’s still power, it was so quiet that the beep-boops of the walk signals were echoing through the air — only a few other curious souls (fools?) in my company. East end looks fairly dried up now – Olympic Plaza too – but seeing pieces of debris and driftwood still laying around at City Hall was just amazing.

Clean up crews are now hard at work.

Looking down from the Victoria Park station walkway on Macleod Trail, there was no water at the entrance of the grounds, though it seems a lot is still submerged.

On 17th Avenue S.E. nearby the station, there was little more than a few ankle-deep puddles left but noticed the silt line on street signs was at least as tall as I was.

There were signs of things starting to look up, however.

An elderly gentleman was mowing his lawn in Sunnyside, the water pumps are there, some bars on 17th Avenue were open and I couldn’t give away my extra water bottle – the police and city workers in our city centre have enough. All I had left to offer was a handshake for them and some money for the Red Cross the moment I arrived home.

This will be my third and final gallery on the #yycflood — I think it’s time for us to focus on #yyccleanup.

I’ll give the Winebar in Kensington the final word.

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Despite the insane water levels at the south end of the Glenmore Reservoir just on the northern end of Oakridge, residents are still walking, cycling and bringing their little ones out to play at South Glenmore Park – but overhearing people talking, all that’s still on everyone’s minds, understandably, is the flooding situation.

The wildlife seemed curious as well, including the geese, crows and even a beaver.

The most immediate sense of the scale that I first saw is how much the water has risen by looking at the docks at the Glenmore Sailing School: as I show you in one photograph debris washed ashore were mere feet away from where the sailboats are parked.

Pieces of the dock are floating nearby as well.

There are pieces of entire trees ashore and as one person I spoke with put it best: What are these trees’ stories?

Walking west on the lower hiking trail became a little too slippery and narrow for me to keep walking after about 0.8 km without risking a misstep and falling into the drink with $3,000 worth of gear on me being lugged around. Some joggers kept going that way, but I was alone with pricey equipment and a dying phone battery: Better not take any chances.

I’m currently just wrapping up a late lunch at the Point & Feather just across the street from the park’s entrance.

Here’s my gallery of the aftermath. Photos taken between late morning and early afternoon today.

If you are a local media outlet interested in using these, help yourself: Credit to Shane Flug, please.

Looks like Day Two of my Sled Island photography trek for my music magazine I work for has been cut short.

At around 5:00 p.m., I stopped at the Palomino to photograph the first band of the evening there and got aquainted with a fellow who told me he was evacuated from his apartment in Mission.

I went over to the East Village for the Block Party on 5 St. S.E. and Confluence Way, having a good idea it wouldn’t be a matter of if the place would be evacuated, but when.

Sadly, this was the case. Downtown Calgary is now under an evacuation order and here I am typing this back home from my pub in Cedarbrae.

The photos below are quick, close frame-by-frames of a section of scaffolding of the new St. Patrick’s Island bridge under construction nearby giving way to the rushing, rising waters of the Bow River nearby the Block Party. It happened at 6:56 p.m. I took them from the south side of the river with my zoom lens.

There are other photos taken moments later as well, including what appears to be construction debris floating by, an idea of how much the river is rising and a bylaw officer telling a performer atop the Red Bull Tour Bus at Sled Island’s East Village Block Party that it’s time to leave.

Be safe tonight, Calgary.

I describe myself on my Twitter bio as a mediocre voice impressionist.

I’m good enough at it to make people laugh, but I’m at no point where I could be a professional voice actor – though maybe a coach might tell me otherwise if I ever met one.

I can do Krusty the Clown’s trademark laugh OK but can’t get his speaking voice right.

Nonetheless, I have a few that are winners.

My construction boss cracks up at my impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger: “GO! RUN! Get to za choppa!”

Just last week, an old classmate from journalism school I met up with giggled at my impression of an impression: 1980s-era Eddie Murphy impersonating Bill Cosby in his classic stand-up film, Raw: “I would like to talk to yooooou… aboooout some of the thiiiings… that yooooou do in your SHOW.”

And one thrash metal guitarist I know (presumably jokingly) wrote on my Facebook that he would follow my impression of Metallica frontman James Hetfield if I ever took it on tour: “YEAH! YEA-HAH! YEAH! SogimmefuegimmefiagimmethawhichIdesiahhh OOOOOOOOO YEA-HEEHHH.”

Still, I think of impressions as a pretty low form of comedy most of the time – it’s a cheap and easy laugh you can get out of people without putting much effort into writing original jokes. I remember watching episodes of Last Comic Standing and people who resorted to Schwarzenegger impressions during auditions wouldn’t make it further.

But hey, if it makes your buddies laugh when you’re out drinking and there’s enough liquid courage flowing through your veins, then why not have some fun with it?

Seldom do I hear an absolute, spot-on, indistinguishable-from-the-real-person impression from even the most successful of comedians. What matters is the delivery; have a reason to do it.

For example, unless you don’t mind awkward stares, you wouldn’t bring it out of nowhere. Wait for some conversations like discussing favourite movie scenes and those sorts of topics.

And when you do your impression – and it really does help – visualize the character you’re impersonating in your mind. It is acting, after all, so try to be that person.

Start by repeating some of your favourite lines from their respective film or TV show. Pay particular attention to how certain syllables of the character’s words are delivered.

Just one word of caution for you lushes out there – don’t fall into the trap of thinking you sound better when you’ve been knocking back a few, odds are you don’t or just sound the same with a slight slur.

Your vocal range and tone is unique, so try sticking to characters within that range. Doing high-pitched squeal-ish voices seem to make my throat hurt after a while.

If you have a few voice impressions that you can pull off quite well, leave me a comment, I’d like to hear from you.

Here are a few more of mine I can somewhat pull off.

• Yogi Bear: “A-hey-hey. What do we got here in this pic-a-nic basket?”
• Mario: “It’s-a me, Mario!”
• Smeagul/Gollum: “Preciousssss…”
• Hank Hill: “Bwaaaaaaahhh!”
• Lieutenant Dan Taylor: “They gave YOU… an imbecile; a moron who goes on television… and makes a fool out of himself… in front of the whole damn COUNTRY… the Congressional Medal of Honor…”
• Don Pardo: “It’s Saturday Night Liiiiiive!”
• Vito Corleone: “I’ll make you an offer that you won’t refuse.”
• Comic Book Guy: “Worst. Episode. Ever.”
• Duff Man: “Duff Man cannot breathe. OOOOOOH NO!”
• A 1980s-era California surfer guy: “Gnarly, dude.”
• Metallica’s Lars Ulrich: “Hey, Flug. F**kin’ what kind of bulls**t f**kin’ impression of Hetfield was that, huh?”

WATCH: The Man of 101 Voices, 101 More Voices and 101 More…er Voices (it’s all the same guy).

Fringe suburbia.

Outward growth.

Urban sprawl.

I’m sure everyone has a reaction when they read any of those words.

Now that I have your attention, this isn’t an urban vs. suburban post (and sorry if that disappoints you) but my own sort-of insider’s look into the fringes as they’re being made.

One of my livings is building Calgary’s fringe suburbia in residential construction, so every day I get a front-row seat on new communities being built in action and it can sometimes be interesting to document visually.

I have friends who have always lived in the inner city. The reason I whip out my cell phone and snap photos at work sometimes is that it’s my own way of trying to show them the scale of outward growth — or just when the sunrise is amazing.

I’ll guide you through five of them I’ve taken over the last year. These are just small snapshots of working and living on the edge.

This October sunrise almost makes this street in Mahogany seem its' been set ablaze. Note the different phases of finishing the houses are at. Framing is incomplete on one, siding's not installed on some and some do have their siding finished.

This October sunrise almost makes this street in Mahogany in the southeast seem it’s been set ablaze. Note the different phases of the houses from foundation digging, framing, roofing and siding.

When both concrete mixer and pump trucks come in to pour a foundation, an already busy residential street full of construction vehicles can become a full-blown traffic circus. Note that some of these houses are finished and lived in, but the driveways and/or landscaping isn't finished yet. In case you're wondering, no, construction workers aren't allowed to block driveways of lived-in homes. This was taken in Castle Keep in Aspen Estates in April. Castle Keep, akin to its name, follows somewhat of a medieval-inspired architecture with these luxury houses' stone and stucco exteriors. There's a figure of a knight at the subdivision's entrance too.

When both concrete mixer and pump trucks come in to pour a foundation, an already busy residential street full of construction vehicles can become a full-blown traffic circus. Note that some of these houses are finished and lived in, but the driveways and/or landscaping may not be finished yet. In case you’re wondering, no, construction workers aren’t allowed to block driveways of lived-in homes. This was taken in Castle Keep in Aspen Estates in the southwest sometime in April. Castle Keep, akin to its name, follows somewhat of a medieval-inspired architecture with these luxury houses’ stone and stucco exteriors. There’s a figure of a knight at the subdivision’s entrance too.

Earth movers in action. This was taken around last month on the very northern edge of Evanston in the northwest. I'm not sure what's going to be built here, but my best guess is more houses.

Earth movers in action. This was taken around last month on the very northern edge of Evanston in the northwest. I’m not sure what’s going to be built here, but my best guess is, well, more houses.

OK, this one's not Calgary, but this street in Sunset Ridge in Cochrane I took today gives you a pretty good example of what a street that fairly close to completion looks like. The lived-in homes seem to outnumber the ones under construction. Not to mention the view and the perfect blue sky is spectacular.

OK, this one’s not Calgary, but this street in Sunset Ridge in Cochrane I took today gives you a pretty good example of what a street that’s fairly close to completion looks like. The lived-in homes seem to outnumber the ones under construction. Not to mention the view and the perfect blue sky is spectacular.

Aspen Estates, again, in this photo also taken today, as I stood on an empty lot. Note the rows of houses on the left and the earth movers on the right. Probably two more years and this photo would have a lot more houses in the frame.

Aspen Estates again in this photo, also taken today, as I stood on an empty lot. Note the rows of houses on the left, looking generally finished with completed siding, trees and everything. Then there’s the barren earth on the right. Probably two more years and this photo will have a lot more houses in the frame. Problem is if I came to this spot again in the future, a house on the lot I stood in would be blocking the view. Maybe the future resident will let me use his/her backyard for a moment?

Also see: Part 2 of this photo series.