Tag Archives: Featured

Meet The Sloths (and other deadly sins)


Have you met the sloths?

If your immediate response was anything other than “OMG, I love the sloths, they are so cute, squeeeeeeeee!” you clearly haven’t met these unbelievably mellow creatures, with their Mona Lisa smiles and zen-like demeanour. They are the animal equivalent of Buddha, or possibly Cheech and Chong.

Where can you hang with the sloths? At the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, of course. This one-of-a-kind facility rescues, rehabilitates and houses countless sloths. But if Costa Rica is a bit too far, you can always tune into tonight’s season premiere of Meet The Sloths on Animal Planet.

There is a great deal to learn about these enigmatic creatures, but this quick primer should get you caught up on your sloth studies.

What you need to know:

  1. The most interesting thing about sloths is their poop
  2. You can gauge a sloth’s health by its poop
  3. Sloths only poop once a week
  4. Pooping is virtually the only time they descend to the ground
  5. Sloths don’t just descend and poop, they do a “poop dance”
  6. Seriously, the sanctuary’s staff is so obsessed with sloth poop that you’d think it was laced with 24k gold

Don’t believe me? Watch this clip:

Defecation aside, the new season also delves into the romances and clandestine affairs of the sanctuary’s furry inhabitants. In episode 2 we meet “Brad Pitt,” an unusually handsome wild sloth who is helpless to resist the siren call of the females. By siren call I mean a high pitched shriek that could possibly shatter glass. Poor Brad scales concrete walls in dogged pursuit of the ladies, and unfortunately adds lust to his other obvious deadly sin.

You know … sloth … deadly sin … just watch the movie Seven and you’ll get it.

Animal Planet’s Meet The Sloths premieres today, Saturday, November 23 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT


Interview: Dr. Carin Bondar of Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World

Dr. Carin Bondar in a Faraday cage at the Boston Museum of Science

She didn’t get to meet Stephen Hawking, but in the Discovery World series Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World, Dr. Carin Bondar did get to explore how Nikola Tesla’s dream of wireless power is being realized, how biomechatronic prosthetic limbs can create enhanced human beings, was embedded with a virtual SWAT team, and drove one of the fastest accelerating electric cars.

“This was a dream job for me, probably one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had,” she said in a recent interview.

With the second season premiere “Inspired by Nature” airing tonight in Canada, viewers can oooh and ahhh along with the team of scientists who investigate breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, engineering and robotics, and their implications for the future.

Tonight’s segments include an adhesive modeled after gecko skin and all-terrain robots. The investigative scientists are assigned story topics based on logistics more than their particular areas of expertise, lending them the same sense of wonder as their audience in discovering these cool new technologies.

Plus, “we’re doing jobs like this because we genuinely are blown away by stuff like this, and we want to learn more about it,” said Bondar, whose wireless power segment had her driving a wireless electric BMW (“I’m glad they didn’t tell me how much it was worth of I’d have been way too nervous to drive it”) and charging a phone and various electronics without those pesky cords.

An evolutionary biologist from Chilliwack, BC, Bondar is an online and TV host for Scientific American, PBS Digital Studios and Earth Touch Productions, as well as her own independent web series and various shows.

She gravitated toward video and short-form writing as working with her greatest strengths. Since promoting scientific literacy and wonder among the public is a goal, she balances the need to be accurate and the need to be understandable.

“Shows like The Big Bang Theory have made it ok to include a lot of that geekspeak, as long as you’re clear about it and your audience understands,” she explained.

Part of her work at Scientific American includes reviewing popular media for scientific accuracy, and she pointed to Rise of the Planet of the Apes as a particularly egregious example of the opposite. Yes, she realizes much of it was meant to be ridiculous, “but even the science was ridiculous and I felt they were mocking what scientists do.”

With Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World, she’s thrilled to be part of a show that celebrates rather than fears new technology.

“I’m a mom of four who lives in Chilliwack, so for me to be involved with an international show of this calibre, I’m just so happy.”

Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World is a six-part documentary series airing Fridays on Discovery World.


Interview: Played’s Dwain Murphy on being “the bark”

"Played" Ep 101 Day 01

CTV’s new undercover cop drama Played airs Thursdays at 10 pm. TV, eh?’s Adam Langton spoke with Dwain Murphy about the brotherhood of cops and actors that make up the show.

AL: On Played you play Daniel Price, a member of a very elite covert team. I was wondering: how much has that team atmosphere come into play between the ensemble cast that you have collected on this show?

DM: Oh man, we’re a family at the end of the day. Cops in real life are a brotherhood and I think that when we first all met on set it was immediately great. There aren’t a lot of times when actors immediately click like that right away, on a personal level before you even get to the work. You have to connect on a personal level and then you have to take that into the work and make that connection. It was such an easy transition because we all actually, genuinely liked each other—and still do, even after five months of filming. That made it an easy transition, that was the great part about it.

AL: Working in such a big ensemble cast of talented people, was it reminiscent of maybe theatre days, more so than TV?

DM: Probably, yeah. I mean I worked with a theatre company as a stage manager’s assistant and that’s usually how a cast goes. There’s all of these different moving parts and you have to juggle everyone’s personality, everyone’s working styles. But the beauty is, again, all of the actors have been so great to work with. All the way from Vincent [Walsh] playing lead to Adam Butcher who plays Jesse, the team were just all so easy to get along with and it made the work that much more fun to dive into. We were all waiting to see “what’s this person going to bring to the table? What’s this person going to bring to the table?” so we could all make the scenes spicy and juicy and bring in viewers.

AL: This is a team with very specific skills and Price is described as the Confidence Man on the team. Did you do any research on Confidence Men or anything specific as part of your preparation here?

DM: Well, for me, when I first read the Daniel Price character, the biggest thing that came across was that this is John Moreland, played by Vincent Walsh’s, right-hand man. He’s a guy who he trusts with his life at the end of the day. We all trust each other but originally the team was just Vincent Walsh (as John Moreland), Lisa Marcos (as Maria Cortez) and Daniel Price. That’s the original team before Chandra West (who plays Rebecca Ellis) brought the others in. We already had a team established, just us three. So the biggest thing that I learned was that Daniel is the guy that John goes to when he’s in a tight situation. Or he could go to Lisa’s character, Maria Cortez. The physical stature is what I wanted to bring across on screen: Daniel is not the guy you wanna mess with. This is the guy that, if John says to bark, I’m the bark. It’s a confident smooth bark—it’s not crazy and erratic, it’s like “okay, you want it to go down, I’m gonna take you down. So don’t even step out of line.” I tried to bring that across on screen, that physical confidence, that mental confidence, that smooth operator kind of vibe.

AL: It’s very clear from the first episode that Price is so loyal to John Moreland and I’m sure that we can look forward to getting a little backstory to that as the season continues.

DM: It’s gonna be great.

AL: So how about the opposite: is there any member of the team that rubs Price the wrong way?

DM: At first, we get introduced to the other half of the team and obviously I’m going in the same direction that Vincent Walsh’s character is going in; I don’t know about this new boss that we have, I don’t know that we can trust her. So I’m following John’s lead like, “if you say it’s okay to trust her, then I’m gonna trust her.” But it’s also the fact that we’re bringing in new team members makes us wonder, are we not good enough? So at first you kind of see that, a little bit of hesitation. Which way is John gonna go with this? It’s all resting on what Vincent Walsh’s character does. We kind of tag along and go the direction he goes because we’re a team at the end of the day.

AL: Without giving too much away, what can we expect from the rest of this season on Played?

DM: The thing about Played is that you aren’t just getting a TV series, you’re getting thirteen mini-movies. Every mini-movie gives you a great action story but the heart of everything is the emotions you’re going to have between the good guys, the bad guys, the good guys’ family members, and how all of those lives can cross over and interfere with each other. It’s a beautiful thing because at any time in the thirteen episodes, you can jump in at any point and not be lost. It’s such an emotional heartstring every single time. Any given day, you can just sit down at night and watch a mini-movie and be entertained, Played is going to give you that.

AL: That sounds great. One last question: as a fellow Toronto Raptors fan, what do you think they need to do to become a playoff team? (laughs)

DM: Honestly, I think they’ve already set the foundation. They’ve put the proper guys on the floor. It’s a matter of seeing where the young talent can go, with what we have. It’s a matter of developing the guys and I think it’s a good direction that they’re going in. I finally feel comfortable saying that we have a young core that’s going to stay; that’s been the problem in the past, we’ve had the young players leave and seek other markets. And I think that guys are slowly beginning to realize that you have a whole country when you play in Toronto, not just the city. There’s no Vancouver team anymore, you have a whole country on your back. And I think that some of the players are beginning to realize “man, I could really dominate a whole market up there.”

AL: Absolutely. Go Raptors, go! Thanks again for taking the time to talk, hopefully a lot of people tune in to Played.

DM: I hope so. I think viewers will be pleasantly surprised with what they come across. I’m excited.


TV, eh?’s lost Rick Mercer interview


If I were told by the Canadian TV gods when I started this site that I could only ever interview one Canadian TV personality, it would be Rick Mercer. And yet I don’t think I’d ever asked for that interview, believing he’d be out of reach, knowing I’d be tongue-tied and awkward (more than usual, I mean).

Conducting this interview

But when he came to Vancouver last year for CBC’s fall media launch I eagerly signed up for my 15 minute slot. Besides diverting too much brain power to thinking “don’t gush Diane, for god’s sake don’t gush,” I loved the experience and gushed about it to everyone afterward (“He knows the site! He was nice to me!”)

And then, tragedy struck. Actually it really did, but also in the midst of a lot of traveling I lost the recorder before I’d managed to retrieve the interview from it.

I still hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask for another chance when en route to Iceland this month I found the recorder tucked in a hidden pocket of my carry-on — which I swear to the Canadian TV gods I searched thoroughly last year — and promptly transcribed the interview on the plane before I could lose it again in a geyser, lagoon, volcano, or backpack pocket.

So this will not be the most current interview with Mercer you’ll read this fall, but it may be the most gratefully bestowed and recovered. Keep in mind these thoughts are from spring 2012.

This looks pretty scary

So a new season — what is there left for you to do?

Well that is the question, but that’s a question I’ve asked myself for 8 seasons now and we always seem to do just fine. It’s still a big country and there’s a lot of people in it, and they do a lot of interesting things so we always manage to find stories. It’s a tough question in that I can’t tell you what we’re going to do, but that’s because we never know what we’re going to do. [He mentions a few possibilities for last season.] All the balls are in the air and we don’t know what we’ll be doing from week to week.

Do you ever say no to some of the things they want you to do?

Oh sure. There’s a group of individuals who stand on horseback and do figure 8s and stuff while standing on horses. They’ve asked me to join them and I’ve said no, so they say “what do you have against us?” I say “I don’t have anything against you, but I’m terrified of standing on a horse. It frightens the shit out of me. I’m afraid I’ll die.” So I can’t do it. I’m too afraid. They were like, “but you’ve jumped out of a plane.” I was strapped to a soldier! I wasn’t standing on the back of a horse.

You have done scarier stuff though.

The interviewer at — you guessed it — 12, kneeling on a horse

Everyone has their own line. I didn’t want to jump out of a plane, but I did jump out of a plane. Whereas my brother, who’s a pilot, says emphatically he’d never jump out of a plane. He’s said there could be someone with a gun and they could shoot him and he would not jump out of the plane. I’m talking with a parachute. He just would not jump out of a plane. So that’s his line. Me, I’m not standing on the back of a horse. And they’re all 12 year old girls too. That’s the other thing. Of course they are 12 year old girls, and I’m like, “I’m afraid,” and they don’t believe me.

Tell me about the charity work you do. You have Spread The Net and — other things.

Yeah, I don’t do much charity work. One of the advantages of being on TV I suppose is that you can sometimes leverage the fact that you’re on TV for good versus evil. I do evil most of the time but occasionally I do good. At the same time it can be embarrassing if there’s a perception that you do a lot of charity work because Canadians by and large are pretty charitable people. I just consider it volunteer work really. So instead of going down and helping work a table somewhere I get to promote something. But in terms of time it’s probably less than my parents did their entire lives while they were raising a family.

Spread The Net is something I’ve supported — well, I’m one of the cofounders — and I found a way to incorporate it into the show. We have this Spread The Net challenge every year and students across the country have raised millions of dollars which is tremendous. But again, the kids are the ones doing the heavy lifting — they’re the ones doing the fundraising. I just say “do it.”

You did an It Gets Better video and then the rant [after Jamie Hubley’s suicide]. Do you feel a responsibility to the public ear that you have? 

That one kind of hit me by surprise. I guess when I ranted about Jamie Hubley committing suicide I felt a responsibility. When I rant even about a serious subject I generally try to inject some humour, and that was the first time I didn’t attempt to. I guess because I was so angry and I didn’t feel like it was appropriate. So I knew it was a bit of a departure. I was heartened by the reaction and pleased at the reaction. But yeah for a while there I became the patron saint of gay teenagers with low self-esteem. That kind of took me by surprise.

(Laughs) There’s worse things you could be.

Yeah, and their poor mothers who are so worried about them. They’re emailing me and I’m like, I am not a psychiatrist.

I read an interview you did later that expressed surprise about how many times a person can come out in this country, because you were criticized for not mentioning yourself in the rant.

I felt it got hijacked a little bit but I’m loathe to talk about that because that’s not indicative of the overall response. In the gay community, as far as there is one — I mean, there’s a gay community but like any other community there’s lots of voices in it — I can certainly understand that some people feel I’m not out enough, and that was the criticism.

And I still don’t know, when it comes to that rant. Some people say “why didn’t you say you were gay in that rant?” I’m pretty bulletproof by saying well, because I’ve said I’m gay before. But I certainly know that any time it’s in the paper that I’m gay there’s all the comments following it: “I didn’t know he was gay.” And then a month later there’ll be a story in the same newspaper and: “I didn’t know he was gay.” So part of me thinks maybe I should have said it, but then part of me also knows that if I had, I’m going to become the story. And certainly that was not the story. So I honestly don’t know on that one. But I was heartened by the response.

Do you get frustrated when interesting political things are going on and you’re not on the air?

Oh sure, yeah, that can be frustrating. Although I’ve been lucky. The last federal election was called I think the day before I did my last taping, but then I went and covered the election for Maclean’s magazine. I got to go on the plane and cover the campaign. So if something’s happening there’s all sorts of venues. In this day and age you can just get an iPhone and start a YouTube channel.

That might not pay quite as well.

With the election I was just looking for a gig for someone to put me on that plane. I didn’t tell them at the time that I would have paid them to get me on the plane. Happily Maclean’s was willing to pay for it.

A new season of The Rick Mercer Report premieres October 8 on CBC.