Sonoma County diet – sweat and drink

Sonoma County Illustration by Jon Stich

Sweet & Sweaty in Sonoma County

Sonoma County, California is a perfect long weekend getaway providing ample opportunity to get active year round while offering sumptuous food and wine to scintillate your senses.  My mission was simple – sweat and drink. 

Spring had officially donned her bedazzled Easter bonnet and shoved Old Man Winter down a steep flight of stairs.  With this turn of seasons came one of my favorite pastimes – patio drinks and dinners. 

As the sun coaxed me out of my jacket I’d suddenly been hit with a horrific realization.  Canadian swimsuit season was in sight.  Now where could I shed some Polar Bear poundage and still indulge sipping on the fruits of someone else’s labor?      

Sonoma County wine tasting.
A wine picnic in Sonoma County

Though tempted to skip the sweat on arrival in Sonoma County, I summoned my inner drill sergeant and rented a bike to peddle out to Francis Ford Coppola’s winery.  Being a film buff I considered it the perfect place to begin.  With more than forty wines produced on site and situated on a stunning property surrounded by sustainably farmed vineyards I got it right.  I soon had a stemmed glass of the Director’s Cut varietal in my paw as I perused the display cases with Academy Awards, Golden Globes and memorabilia from Apocalypse Now to The Godfather

Catching a glimpse of the Russian River I decided it was time to get wet and jumped in a kayak for workout number two.  The sandy banks beckoned after a few kilometers paddle and thankfully I had brought a bottle of bubbles on board. 

Many, including myself, are surprised to learn that a few vineyards outside the Champagne region of France have been Grandfathered and approved to use the name.  Such is the case with Korbel Champagne Cellars in the town of Guerneville in Sonoma County.  Over one hundred and fifty years ago the Korbel brothers immigrated to the U.S.A. and continued the tradition of Champagne.  And I’m so glad they did.  Bubbles can be a boy’s best friend. 

Sonoma County - Armstrong Woods Guerneville

The Armstrong Redwood Grove is really not to be missed once you’ve sunned yourself on the banks of the river.  Though I began running I was soon slowed to a contemplative stroll as I took in the serene, majestic beauty of the Grove and how it stands as a living reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest that covered much of this area before logging operations began during the 19th Century. 

Sonoma County coastline

While whale watching was not likely to drop any pounds I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out on the open water and view the rugged Northern California coastline.  At any rate the thought of one of the whales in an Aussie Bum Speedo allowed a smug smile to creep across my face as I made my way to the bow of the fishing boat.

Sonoma-County-Wine-Grapes

Pinot painted my pallet as I reflected on this quintessential California retreat offering sun, sand, surf and serenity.  Sonoma County is a perfect place for romance and a favorite denning area for the bears of our community.  Glancing down at my cubbish figure I realized maybe I just found myself a new sweet spot.  Seawater splashed up and beaded like sweat on my forehead.  Vacation accomplished.  Drink and sweat.  Or at least fake it ‘til you make it. 

Catch me if you can! 

Where in the world is Charlie David?   Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to keep up with the adventures.

Enjoy Travel?  Watch the video on the history of gay Tango dancing I made while in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

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Marc Devigne stars in Shadowlands series

Marc Devigne

Marc Devigne is a prairie boy originally from Winnipeg Manitoba in Canada.  Marc is a diversely experienced Canadian singer, songwriter, musical theatre performer and actor currently residing in Toronto. He stars in the new TV series Shadowlands.

Shadowlands is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

With a well-rounded experience base that ranges from being a finalist on “Canadian Idol” in 2003, to international touring with various theatre companies and session work as a studio vocalist, Marc Devigne has a strong passion for music and performing in general.

As a songwriter, Devigne has co-penned music with an impressive array of Canada’s leading songwriters such as Stephan Moccio, Amy Sky, Mark Masri, Greg Johnson, David Martin, Luke McMaster and Simon Wilcox. Marc’s infectious stage presence and performance experience have afforded him the opportunity to appear on 2 PBS specials; a Mark Masri PBS special, as well as “Bailamos! Live at the Empire”.

Marc Devigne’s infectious on-stage energy is a testament to his broad range of Musical Theatre experience, such as touring with Rainbow Stage, Persephone Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Ross Petty Pantos and Koba Entertainment to name a few. Devigne has also performed as a featured soloist for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestras.

Recently, he has toured extensively throughout North America as a Vocalist for various musical groups, such as the latin-themed cross-over group “Bailamos” and Popera group “Vivace”, of which he was a founding member and director, and displays a

INTERVIEW WITH MARC DEVIGNE

Marc Devigne stars at Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series.  In the story a painter (Charlie David) who in mourning the loss of his lover Xavier (Marc Devigne), becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful and life-like that he is drawn under its spell.

What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?

Marc Devigne: When Charlie David first approached me with the script, I was nervous at the prospect of playing the role of Xavier. It had been a while since I had been in front of the camera and had never played a role such as this one. It took a lot of vulnerability but I knew it was an important, relatable story of love that can transcend limits and barriers. Everyone can relate to love and loss.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Marc Devigne: For this specific role, a lot of me went into the character. Charlie and I revisited the script and worked the role of Xavier into a French singer/songwriter artist. The role was adapted to allow me to perform a song in the episode that I believe related beautifully to the characters’ love story.

How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character?  And how much did you have to research or imagine?

Marc Devigne: There’s a lot out of my own experience that I could relate to role of Xavier. Other than the obvious things, such as singer, artist and love of life, Xavier’s illness was something that I drew from very personal and painful events in my life having witnessed the horrible effects of cancer.

What aspects of the Shadowlands series are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?

Marc Devigne: I’m excited that people get to experience 3 very different stories, styling and feelings with a similar underlying theme.

Romance between men and between women was common place and written about in Greek and Roman mythology.  Why is it important to continue sharing these types of stories today?

Marc Devigne: It’s important to me because these stories often times transcend gay or niche themes and storytelling. They are human stories with universal themes that a lot of people can relate to. It’s important for people to broaden their views and I think that by sharing stories where people can draw similarities to their own life or experiences, makes us all one step closer to realize that we’re all humans on this earth living and sharing more similarities than what often times is believed.

What was the hardest scene for you in the Shadowlands series to do and why?

Marc Devigne: Xavier’s “final” scene was definitely a difficult one. It was emotionally and physically draining to stay in that state of exhaustion and low energy for quite a while while we were shooting. Between takes I would remain in character to ensure that the scene remained as truthful as possible. It was also difficult to see my co-actor crying and devastated within the scene. It felt awfully real at times.

Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?  

Marc Devigne: Music constantly influences my creativity. It can affect such a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions.

In addition to acting, tell me about the other areas of entertainment you’re pursuing.

Marc Devigne: Other than acting, I’m currently pursuing Music. I sing with a number of groups and projects internationally. I’m also currently working on my own music and drawing a lot of inspiration from French music. I’m really excited to be releasing my own music that reflects this part of my culture.

With so much going on in the world today, what’s your motivation to be a performer? Do you act to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  To incite a conversation?

Marc Devigne: I do it because I have this innate feeling that it’s what I’m meant to do. Because music and performance are the best and only ways I know how to express myself to a degree that is fulfilling and truthful. It’s my form of creativity, of expression, and hopefully my small piece of contribution to the world.

What’s next for you as a creator/actor/performer?

Marc Devigne: Keep pursuing all venues and experiences that excite me. Creating original music. Collaborating with great creative minds, and hopefully remain inspired and motivated to keep doing what I love. Keep learning and keep creating… those are some of the greatest gifts.

Follow Marc Devigne and listen to his music using the links below:

Spotify

Twitter/Instagram: @marcdevigne

Facebook

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Shadowlands gay series star Vasilios Filippakis

Shadowlands gay series Vasilios Filippakis

VASILIOS FILIPPAKIS is excited for the premier of  the Shadowlands gay series where the world will be ale to discover an array of relationship dynamics within gay culture. 

Vasilios is a Toronto based actor born in Windsor Ontario. After graduating from theatre school at York University, he has trained with many coaches across Toronto ranging in technique and continues working to deepen his craft.

When Vasilios is not training or creating his own work, you may see him in a soon to be released feature film “The Lone Paddler”, or in commercials for Swiss Chalet, Gradifi, or Kit-Kat to name a few.

Shadowlands is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

Tell us about your story in the new Shadowlands gay series. What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?

Vasilios Filippakis: In Shadowlands, the story I am in is called “Mating Season”, which explores the boundaries of a monogamous relationship. A gay couple takes a few days in the woods for  a romantic camping trip when they meet a harmless man who has been camping for some time .

It turns out, the man isn’t exactly as he appears ( I don’t want to give anything away). This aspect is something I really considered while preparing for this role. As real as “Daniel” (the character I played) is there are many elements of mystery with him that were interesting to find spots to incorporate into the script.  

Honestly, I didn’t have many fears going into filming this project, it was all excitement. The ONE thing that was difficult was trying to be sexy in that really cold water. We really tried our best.

Shadowlands gay series Nicolas James Wilson, Vasilios Filippakis, Oscar Moreno

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Vasilios Filippakis: I always try to put as much of myself into all my work and characters. I think as a human with years of life experience you can find many correlations between your real life and the one that is depicted on the script. Sure there are some stretches here, for example, playing a murderer, but even in that case a person is much more than a killer.

You still have other human qualities that make you whole, and those are things that I look to explore and pull when creating. I believe that the best performances come from things I grab from my experience. In this case it’s all about love, loss, hope, reflection and finding peace, all things that I as Vasilios can live authentically in the moment because they are things that I feel naturally.

How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character?  And how much did you have to research or imagine?

Vasilios Filippakis: I could relate to my character’s experience a lot. Daniel really struggled with the idea of being loved and accepted. I think that we all have had that in our lives.

He has this monologue about a past love that was “the one” for him. Again, I think everyone has a similar story to Daniel and has or will feel love the way he did.  

Vasilios Filippakis stars in the Shadowlands gay series

Each story or episode is unique and has its own world of characters, time and place.  And yet there are connections between them. Were you aware of these connections while filming or was it a surprise to learn later?

Vasilios Filippakis: Honestly, I wasn’t really aware of any of this until we started filming. I remember in rehearsal Charlie David was framing a shot to mimic one that is shown in the third episode. It was all a surprise until I saw the final edits and saw all three episode after each other. I think this will be fun for the audience to discover!

Romance between men and between women was common place and written about in Greek and Roman mythology.  Many of the stories in the Shadowlands book were inspired by these ancient myths. Why is it important to continue sharing these types of stories today?

Vasilios Filippakis: It’s important to share these stories because love is love, no matter the time, place or gender. Every story explored in the Shadowlands gay series is very relatable to present times.

This show really just shines another light on life as it is. As much as the inspiration came from Greek and Roman mythology I think the audience will see how much these stories are rooted in today.

What was the hardest scene for you to do and why?

Vasilios Filippakis: The hardest scene for me (no pun inteneded) was for sure all the water scenes. The water was SO cold. Trying to not shiver and look good is a challenge, believe me. The rest of the shoot was so fun and easy. The cast and crew made being on set a dream! I would go back to film with these people in a heartbeat.

Shadowlands gay series Vasilios Filippakis, Oscar Moreno and Nicolas James Wilson

Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?

Vasilios Filippakis: The major influence for me on my creativity is my own life. I just think that we all have a story, that is unique and nobody else can live it or write it. To me that’s inspiring. Who else can tell your story? Nobody! I know that I am a well of emotions and have so much to tell that I am constantly in a state of creation.

With so much going on in the world today, what’s your motivation to be a performer? Do you act to explain?  To get away?  To move past? To widen our knowledge? To incite a conversation?

Vasilios Filippakis: I act for my heart.

It wasn’t till recently that I explored this reason. I was in acting class with the amazing Suzanne Bastien (At The Creative Space) here in Toronto, when we were asked this question “Why do you act”?

We began exploring our hearts why on why we have chosen to be an actor. For me it’s about exploring every emotion without holding back. Acting a vessel to be free and really let go.  

What’s next for you as a creator/actor/performer?

Vasilios Filippakis: I am currently working on a show I created called “FAK YAASS”. I’m the creator, writer, producer and lead actor (it’s totally about my life). The show is a  mix between “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Queer as Folk”.

We have an amazing team and we’re really looking forward to putting this story out there! We have a concept trailer out now and should have some more updates soon about the project!

Follow Vasilios Filippakis

Insta: @vasiliosf

Website: vasiliosf.com

IMDB: Vasilios Filippakis

Shadowlands is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

If you enjoyed this interview, explore other chats with cast members of the Shadowlands series.

Charlie David (director of the Shadowlands series)

Marc Devigne (Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series.

Oscar Moreno (Matteo in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Sean C. Dwyer (Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Nicolas James Wilson (Will in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Natasha Balakrishnan (Thalia in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands)

Brian Woodford (Drew in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands gay series)

Learn about the hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the Shadowlands gay series

 

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