A Christmas interview with Karolina Rivera-Osorio

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For Christmas time I’m posting a special Christmas interview. Karolina Rivera-Osorio is a very talented young artistic soul from USA. She sings, plays several instruments and dances. As her mom comes from Honduras, I asked her to say a few words about celebrating Christmas there. We talk also about Christmas carols, dishes and a good way to truly experience the Christmas joy.

Remote Talk: Your mom comes from Honduras. How does celebrating Christmas in Honduras look like? Could you say a few words about Honduran Christmas traditions?

Karolina Rivera-Osorio: It’s a very special day where people prepare large home meals, sometimes simple because the majority of the people are poor, but the love which they put into the meal makes it a very special event comparable to Thanksgiving in America. The one dish that is always available on all the tables, regardless of being poor or rich, is the famous tamales, which is like a baked moist corn bread filled which chicken or pork, potatoes, rice, raisin, peas, and chick peas covered with plantain leaves and then boiled so that it can become one conglomerate piece. It is served with salad on the side with onion or cabbage salad on the side and the people love eating it with ketchup. Eggnog with rum is always available, they call it “rom poppe” and of course, “orchata” for the children, which is a delicious juice made from rice water. Also, the children go crazy with the parents buying fireworks which sometimes gets confused with actual gun shots, which is not safe to stay outdoors. This is why authorities usually tell us to stay inside when watching the spectacle of the fireworks.

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What about other Christmas dishes in Honduras?

As I said, tamales is one of the main dishes. Others are baked chicken, fried pork with yuca, cole slaw, and sea food.

And do you have your favourite Christmas dishes (Honduran or American)?

Tamales are a definitely a family favorite.

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Let’s move to USA. In general, do Americans treat Christmas mostly as nice holidays, a chance to spend time together, eat something good and exchange gifts? Or do they still remember what these days are really about? What do you think?

Americans treat Christmas very commercially. Very few remember that Christmas is about Christ, but they still get carried over with gift exchange and opulent parties, forgetting the true meaning of the celebration.

What is Christmas for you? What do you like most about it?

Christmas is the birthday of Christ and it is all about being with family physically and spiritually.

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Karolina with her mom and grandma

You’re an artistic soul. You sing, play the guitar and the violin. Do you sing carols (and maybe play instuments) with your family on Christmas?

I don’t sing carols in public as I ought to, except on Christmas day when we are all together. All throughout the Advent season my sisters and I will sing a random Christmas tune, the others might follow or we end up laughing because we dont know all the lyrics to the song. It’s all in the spirit of Christmas!

Which carols are your favourite ones?

It’s so difficult to choose one song! I would say there is a tie between three traditional songs, “The Carol of Bells,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “The Little Drummer Boy.” The first song is beautiful in melody, the second helps me meditate joyfully on the story of Christ being born. The third song makes me tear everytime I sing it. I place myself in the shoes of the little drummer boy as a musician. The little drummer boy has nothing of value to give God, except the talent which was given to him by the One whom he is about to play for. There is a great humility in this song that reminds me to never be afraid to give glory to God through my music.

And have you ever played in a nativity play?

When I attended Catholic school as a child, often times we were asked to participate in the Christmas shows. There was one nativity scene in my church that brought in live barn animals while my classmates and I sang as angels in the background. The baby Jesus even fell asleep to our singing. It was a wonderful experience!

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If you could share a little of your personal experience, what would you say to those who want to really feel the atmosphere of Christmas and the joy coming from the birth of Baby Jesus? What advice would you give them?

Go to the nearest Catholic church and go to the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. You will truly experience the birth of Christ there. If you want to feel the coming of Christ, you must prepare your heart and soul by helping others, going to holy mass and going to the sacrament of confession. The birth of Christ reminds us that we are so loved by God, He sent his only begotten son to save you. When Christ was born, He did not choose to be born in a palace with the finest linens as a rightful king deserves. He chose to be born in a humble stable that was not perfect in any way, yet in the same way, our hearts are not perfect, but as long as we welcome Christ humbly into our hearts, He will never say no to dwelling in your humble heart. Our greatest joy is knowing that our Lord is a Humble, Loving and Merciful King.

Thank you very much for the talk and thank your Mom for her stories about Honduran Christmas 🙂

by Łukasz Garbol, Christmas 2016

Photos from Karolina’s archives.

Do you have any interesting Christmas traditions in your countries / regions? Would you like to share how you celebrate Christmas? I invite you to comment below 🙂

Check also other special Christmas posts / clips:

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Santa Claus Village (Rovaniemi, Finland)

Christmas in Finland

Christmas in Finland – Jenna from Rovaniemi

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Something special for Christmas time (hopefully, this won’t be the only Christmas post), a special video by Jenna Rautio from Rovaniemi. I’ve recently posted a clip with Jenna guiding you through the Santa Claus Village. This time, I’d like to share with you another clip I asked her to make some time ago. In this video Jenna speaks about Finnish Christmas traditions and traditional dishes. She also syas what Christmas means to her and picks her favourite Christmas song. We prepared this clip about 2 years ago, when I was a podcaster. I sent Jenna some questions and she recorded this short video. Back then, she was a blogger (blogging mostly about fashion).

Are there any unique Christmas traditions in your countries? If you’d like to write a few words about them, feel free to comment:)

Santa Claus Village

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Santa Claus, or actually Saint Nicholas, is coming, bringing gifts to all the good children (and adults too). Saint Nicholas’ Day is 6 December here in Poland (actually Saint Nicholas leaves the gifts at night – 5/6 December – when everyone’s sleeping). In some countries St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on the same day as here, in others on December 19 (Eastern Christian countries). I’ve written this short info because I thought it would be a nice idea to post something from my archives. About two years ago, when I was a podcaster and I was running a YouTube channel for a “podcast radio”, I asked Jenna Rautio from Rovaniemi, Finland, to record a short clip showing Santa Claus Village and say a few words about this place. Back then, Jenna was a blogger (mostly a fashion blogger). I’ve just published this clip on my new YouTube channel for this blog, so enjoy! By the way, do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day in your countries? Do you have any interesting customs / traditions connected with that day or with St. Nicholas? If so, please share some information about them in the comments 🙂

An interview with Zan Campbell (Fell and Fair)

Close your eyes. Imagine Rangers of the North in their green hoods running through the dark wood with their bows ready. Imagine noble warriors of Rohan with the blades of their swords shining in the summer sun. Imagine a fair shieldmaiden of great beauty and courage equal to it. Now open your eyes and see how they all come to life. Zan Campbell and his fellowship, known as Fell and Fair, bring your favourite stories, legends and myths into reality. They make costumes and equipment, enrich their knowledge and gather people who share common passion, virtues and commitment. And they go on adventures. What are Fell and Fair? How did they come into being? Who can join them? The answers to these questions you will find in this interview. Zan Campbell will also tell you about Fell and Fair’s funny and dangerous moments, his first contact with Tolkien’s books, favourite literature and flying helicopters.

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Remote Talk: If you were to describe Fell and Fair in one sentence to someone who doesn’t know anything about you, what would you say?

Zan Campbell: Fell and Fair is about preserving that which was lost, and bringing to life that which never was.

“Meet each other and go on adventures”, was a message to the fans I once spotted on your FB page. How did you meet one another? How did Fell and Fair come into being?

Many of us grew up together. In fact, Fell and Fair really started with three core families. We played and made “movies” which, though we did not really realize it at the time, were just reasons to make and buy costumes and armor. Instagram changed the game though. Once we began posing some stills from some of our projects, we were able to access a community that had hitherto been unreachable. I joke that the Internet let all the nerds find each other, but it is true.

Do you remember your first adventure with the Fell and Fair fellowship? What was that? Did anything strange, surprising or funny happen?

The first true “Fell and Fair” meeting happened in late 2012. I had met this cool blacksmith and armorer, Charlie Ellis, over Instagram. When we realized that we only lived about an hour away from each other, we agreed to meet up and trade some hand-made arrows for a custom knife. I gave him the address and when he arrived he met my sister and my girlfriend dressed as elves at the house. They had instructions to lead him down the forest path to where we were throwing our feast. So after putting on his own elf armor, Charlie followed them into the forest. We decided to ambush them along the way so we found our favorite “ambush spot” (did I mention this is a bunch of people in their twenties?) and lay in wait for them. However, our plans went awry when my sister, feeling something was up, accidently triggered our ambush too soon. She whistled and everyone ran out only to find our victims fifty yards down the path and not in our trap whatsoever. Despite this poor display of woodcraft, we had a wonderful feast, and it encouraged us to find more people who loved the same things.

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Have you ever had any unexpected or dangerous adventures while roaming around with your companions?

I have a motto that goes, “It is not an adventure until something goes wrong.” So several times we have encountered issues that caused us to band together to overcome an obstacle. I remember especially when we found our usual river-crossing washed away in a flood and we had to get everyone, including three children and a pregnant woman, across in safety while keeping weapons and cameras dry.

And what’s been the funniest moment spent together with your fellowship so far?

The funny moments usually come in our battles. The one that first comes to my mind was when about five warriors from each side clashed while trying to defend, or slay, the bearer of a flag. Within about one second all ten were “dead” having struck each other with swords or arrows. The flag bearer was just standing with an amazed face as he looked at all the dead people laughing at how funny it was that no one survived to claim victory.

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You once mentioned on Facebook that you sometimes receive strange messages or are asked untypical questions by people interested in your projects. Do you remember any weird or funny messages you could share with us?

Most of the ones we find funny are people that try and debate us about our pictures or tell us how we got it wrong. We find these funny because we never make any claims that we are historically accurate or that we copy movies/games exactly. In fact we really enjoy creating new ideas and designs. One time someone commented accusing us of inaccuracy in one of the photos because we had paired a Tolkien quote and a picture of a shield that he said “no one in Middle~Earth ever used.” I simply asked him to go search all of Middle~Earth and if then he could still not find one I would use a different quote. He never replied.

Where do you wander most often with your company?

We are blessed to have about 500 acres of property near the mountains in South Carolina that we use the most. We love it because it has hills, fields, streams, rock formations, and a variety of trees. All of these make for better adventures and, of course, pictures.

In Fell and Fair people with different talents and skills come together creating something exceptional. You also share your talents with others, for example with movie industry. Could you say a few words about this cooperation? In which films or series can we see the effects of your work?

We currently work with three organizations by providing costumes, props and consulting regarding modern and medieval/fantasy weapons and warfare. You can find our costumes in several of the Assassin’s Creed Parkour videos by the famous YouTube star Devin Graham, and you will see more in the near future coming from The Forge Studios in their Rangers series, and several internet shorts and web-series by various studios. You can also see our work in the award-winning short film The Password written and directed by our friend Will Stewart.

You and other members of Fell and Fair seem to be real history buffs, delving deeper into certain topics, having fun enriching your historical knowledge. Have you always been interested in history or did it all start when you gathered Fell and Fair group?

Ever since I was a small boy I have had a love for history and historical fiction. In fact, I was devastated at the age of six when I was told that I could not grow up to be Robin Hood. Our love of history was certainly a motivator in our desire to learn the crafts required to create our costumes at Fell and Fair.

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You’ve already mentioned your cooperation with filmmakers. You also work as consultants for movies. Could you name a few titles you’ve worked on?

We are currently working on several independent films, nut we cannot disclose the names at this time. However, you can see our work in The Password from 9/8 Central and the world stage debut of Prince Caspian by The Academy of Arts (shows in the US and UK).

By the way, if you were to pick the most historically accurate movie or TV series you’ve ever seen, which one would that be?

In my opinion, there are two types of historical accuracy in film, costume and story. As to costumes, Master and Commander and Kingdom of Heaven to have done a particularly good job of costume design and by conveying the spirit of the times, although the characters are fictional. As to story, most productions fall somewhere on the scale of more or less accurate. I can’t say I have seen a historical movie that was entirely accurate in all the facts and dialogue. Often, because we have no way of recording everything, and often, shortcuts are needed for the sake of time. I understand this from a storytelling perspective, so it is far more important to me that a film convey the accurate costume, feeling and spirit of the period and people than actually being 100% factual.

And what about the one that has the most serious inaccuracies and mistakes?

The movie Braveheart. The whole thing. Still an awesome movie, but not accurate as to the people or to the costumes / sets / battles.

You make films and short videos with Fell and Fair, but they aren’t the only productions we can see you in. Some time ago you appeared as one of the main characters in UnSuper, “a comedy web series about the unfortunately normal people living in a world with super heroes”, a Flagship Comedy original series by Micah Taylor. You played a superhero named Speedfast (I think the name tells everything). How did you like portraying this kind of character, playing in a series that takes on a lighter tone?

UnSuper was a lot of fun to be a part of, but I definitely had to adapt from my usual surroundings. I played a character who was really not a very good person. Someone who was selfish, prideful and self-absorbed. I enjoyed it because it was so different. I got to act as Speedfast in a way that I would never act towards other people in real life.

As for superheroes, who is your favourite one? And if you could be a superhero yourself, would you prefer to be a speedster, like your YouTube character, or to have different superpowers?

Thor is definitely my favorite superhereo. A wonderful combination of history, myth and the modern world. I think if I could have any power it would be those of Wolverine. He can pretty much win any fight, is always in shape and can heal just about any wound quickly.

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Together with Fell and Fair, you have, so to say, been to a lot of different realms known from literature, movies, computer games. Is there any realm you haven’t been to so far, but you’d really love to visit?

One of my favorite movies and book series is Master and Commander (or the Aubrey-Maturin Series) by Patrick O’Brian. If I could get a crew of sailors and sail about in an eighteenth century frigate, I may just die of happiness.

From what I’ve seen, I can say you have a really impressive collection of swords. Which one is your favorite one?

One of the oldest and most trustworthy is my Agincourt sword. It has a short twenty-eight inch blade which makes it easy to use with a shield, and it is very light and strong.

By the way, legendary warriors often give names to their weapons. Do you give unique names to your swords?

I have not. I guess I am not quite legendary enough for one yet.

Let’s talk a little bit about the technical side of Fell and Fair’s activities. How difficult is getting all the materials, clothes and accessories needed? How much of your equipment (weaponry, costumes, props) do you make by yourselves and how much do you buy as ready-to-use items?

We now make or modify everything ourselves. Some things, like chainmail or boots, we buy pre-assembled, then we just modify them to suit our purposes, in order to save time and money. It definitely takes time to learn each craft, and part of that is learning the secrets of obtaining the proper materials. We are still learning so hopefully there are some tricks we have not learned yet!

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Do you remember the first element of costume, weapon or piece of equipment that you made on your own? And what was the first thing you created that you were really satisfied with?

I believe I made an archer’s hood. I had wanted one ever since my Robin Hood days as a kid, so I learned how to sew one. My first set of Gondorian Ranger bracers were the first thing I made that I could look as and say, “That looks just like the movie”.

You made costumes for the “Assassin’s Creed: Unity” (“Assassin’s Creed Unity Meets Parkour in Real Life” – see below) and “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate”  live parkour trailers. How did that happen? How did the AC parkour team get in touch with you?

I actually met their lead costume designer over Instagram and she was having a baby the week they were needed. She had seen the Assassin’s Creed costumes I had made for myself and asked me to make them for the video.

Who can join Fell and Fair? What skills, what features of character should a good candidate possess?

Skills you can learn; character is far more important. We look for people who have a genuine desire to learn and a love for things that are good and wholesome. Often we find them because they do have skills and display them on Instagram. We meet people online or locally then after determining they would be a good match for the group, invite them to join us.

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For those who would like to start and try putting together their own costumes and equipment, could you recommend any internet shops / websites worth checking?

YouTube tutorials are the best resource I have found. If you want to make something, it is highly probable that someone had made a video about it on YouTube.

Fell and Fair is deeply rooted in Tolkien’s mythology. Do you remember your first contact with Tolkien’s books? Which book was that? When did it happen?

When I was nine years old my mother gave me The Lord of the Rings book trilogy for Christmas. I was really disappointed because I wanted toys. However, she forced me to read them before she would allow me to see the movie a few years later. I cannot thank her enough for forcing me to read those books.

And who’s your favourite Tolkienian character? Why?

Boromir, Eomer and Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth are probably tied for my favorite. All are young men charged with the protection of their people. They all are exceptionally skilled in combat and honestly desire to be good leaders. As a young man, I saw them as the embodiment of all the virtues that a true man should exemplify.

From time to time, different fanarts and memes appear on the internet, titled “What I’ve learnt reading Tolkien’s books” or “What I’ve learnt reading The Lord of the Rings”. If you were to answer such a question, what would you say? What have you learnt reading Tolkien?

Tolkien taught me that dragons can be conquered. That you don’t have to win to make a difference and that sometimes things that people dismiss as trivial, childish or petty can mean more to people than money, power or popularity.

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Talking about Tolkien, what do you think about Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings? Some readers are big fans of it, some totally criticize it, some appreciate the effort and enjoy watching it, but nonetheless see some elements that are in complete opposition to the spirit of Tolkien’s story. What were your impressions when you watched it for the first time?

I was twelve years old when I first watched it, so my reaction was, “I want this to be my life.” Overall, I really do love it. Going back to the discussion about costumes and accuracy, I think Jackson and Weta Workshop did an amazing job with costume, set and character design. There were several important characters left out, and several that were changed. I can remember the horror I felt when the elves showed up at Helm’s Deep! Usually, when I think about the story, I think about the characters Tolkien created with the visuals, actors and places that Jackson made for the movie. I find that a very nice combination.

By the way, do you have your favourite scenes from Jackson’s trilogy?

The death of Boromir and the charge of the Rohirrim at the Pelennor Fields: to me those are the great moments of glory in cinematic history.

Were there any Lord of the Rings actors or actresses who enchanted you with their interpretation of the characters from the book?

I loved Sean Bean’s Boromir, Ian McKellen’s Gandalf and Karl Urban’s Eomer. While I wish Boromir had been portrayed in a more positive light as in the book. I just thought Sean Bean was the greatest warrior one could imagine. Let’s be honest, Ian McKellen IS Gandalf. Karl Urban played an Eomer that was a man, flawed, but determined to do right by his king and people. That is a man I would follow.

Apart from Tolkien, who are your favourite fantasy authors? What are your favorite fantasy books?

I love Lewis’ Narnia series. That was probably my first introduction to fantasy. I also read and enjoyed the Eragon series as well as The Chronicles of Prydain series and the Game of Thrones series. However I have always been a lover of historical fiction more than fantasy in general. What I loved about Tolkien’s fantasy or, one might call it myth, is that it is so real. It is not too fantastic. You feel as if you could walk through the woods and see a hobbit or an elf and they would not be out of place.

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And if you had to choose your top three (or top five if you prefer it this way) of your favourite books (of any literary genre), what would you choose?

The Silmarillian – Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings (that still only counts as one) – Tolkien

The Ballad of the White Horse – G.K. Chesterton

Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian

Henry V – William Shakespeare

What have you read recently (not necessarily fantasy or science fiction)? Can you recommend anything to our readers?

I recently read Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis’ autobiography. It really helped me appreciate fantasy and myth in a whole new way. It was also reassuring that an Oxford profession and world-renowned writer was just as much of a nerd as I am. I also recently finished Bernard Cornwell’s The Grail Quest series about archers in the Hundred Years’ War. It is most excellent if you want historical fiction about archery.

When I look at the photos on your page, they naturally remind me of my favourite books, but they also bring back the memories of RPG sessions I used to take part in. Do you play role playing games? If you do, what’s your favourite system?

I really do not. I have mostly stuck to tabletop games like The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (like Warhammer) and computer RPGs and games like Age of Empires and Total War. However, some of our battle scenarios do resemble LARP to some degree.

And your favourite character class?

Archer. Kill them with arrows and loot their pockets.

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You’re a helicopter pilot and because I live in a town famous for its helicopters, I’d like to ask about that part of your life, too. How did you become a pilot? How long have you been flying helicopters? What types have you flown so far?

I became a pilot in 2012 while serving as an officer in the United States Navy. I flew both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. As to helicopters, I flew the Navy TH-57 Sea Ranger (a military Bell-206) and the MH-60R Seahawk.

Do you remember the first flight you undertook on your own? How did it feel like sitting at the controls of the helicopter back then?

I remember thinking, “Well Zan, you have done it. Now don’t kill yourself.” It was a combination of terror and excitement. I have never been so scared or so proud of myself as behind the controls of a helicopter. I also may have hummed Flight of the Valkyries the whole time.

Are there any skills or habits acquired while serving as a pilot that come in handy in everyday life?

Well, you get know a lot about the weather actually. A large part of a pilot’s life is understanding how not to be killed by the elements, so you know a lot about weather patterns, storm fronts and how long different types of weather last and why. You also become very good at paying attention to detail and developing a “scan”. That helps a lot while driving and looking after your car/house.

As our interview’s coming to an end, let me ask a little bit different question. “So many times throughout history, the people of the day threw up their hands in panic and cried, “This is the end of the world”. Whether it was the people of Greece after the last Spartan died at Thermopylae or the people of Christendom when Rome fell or the folk of England when Alfred fled and they thought all was lost to darkness and despair. But day came again. And often the generation that lost the keys to the kingdom gave birth to a generation that would reclaim them. Even as Húrin, last to stand against Morgoth, gave birth to Túrin the slayer of Glaurung the father of dragons… Day shall come again.” These are your words. Great words, I must say – words that are always worth reminding. When you think about the history of the world, is there any such heart-warming story, a story of hope never lost, that you could share with our readers? A short optimistic history lesson?

As a student of military history and a descendant of Englishmen, I think my favorite example of what Tolkien called a “Eucatastrophe”, or a sudden and unexpected resolution to a story, would be that of the Battle of Agincourt. Henry V of England had been taunted and provoked into invading France to reclaim some of his ancestral dukedoms. However after a long and costly siege at Harfleur he and his small, weary and sick army were marching as fast as they could to reach Calais and take ship for England. He was cut off by the French army which at conservative estimates outnumbered him four-to-one and was fresh and boasted the greatest of Europe’s chivalry in its ranks. The French demanded his surrender again and again but he refused. Henry chose to take his stand on a small hill near the castle of Agincourt. There his peasant archers slew the nobility of France in their thousands. With losses estimated at less than three hundred, Henry won a victory for the ages. Not only saving his army, but he forced a treaty with France and to top it all off, he married the French princess. Sometimes thousands of years of cultural development culminate and decide the fate of a single day. The fact that the English had the unprecedented skill with the war bow, the fact that the French were so arrogant as to charge on horseback, or even that the fields had been plowed and it rained the night before bogging, the French knights down in the mud. Even though the whole world thought Henry was beaten, when the sun set on October 25, 1415 A.D. he stood victorious on the field of battle and his name lives on forever because he had the will to press on and to fight.

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Imagine a situation like this: on a cold, rainy, windy day, a company of weary travellers enter the tavern. They order a hot meal and a jar of ale and sit close to the hearth to get dry. Suddenly, an old man stands up and says, “Lo, listen to the song of an old bard, to the story of Fair and Fell!” What would this story be about? How would you like people to remember you?

I would have it be a story about people who found each other, saved things that were being lost and maybe brought a little more joy into the lives of people who would otherwise have remained alone in their love for history, myth and legend. That people were reminded through pictures, video and a few choice words that dragons may not be real, but that they can be conquered. That something does not need to be a fact to be true. Finally that people were reminded that nobility, truth and goodness were not lost to the world. But rather hidden in the hearts of a few bold folk, who were then able to remind the rest of the world of their existence.

Thank you very much. “A star shines on the hour of our meeting”, even though this talk is just a “remote” one.

by Łukasz Garbol, October – November 2016

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As usual, links worth checking:

Fell and Fair on Facebook

Instagram

YouTube

Photos:

Fell and Fair FB page

Nicolas Bruno (4, 14, 15)

An interview with Candice Heiden

When the music video to “Sweet Lovin’” by Sigala immediately became one of the most popular clips on YouTube, a lot of people were wondering who the incredible girl roller skating in it was. Since I first watched it, I had been one of them, too, so I wanted to know more about this amazing person. Making this interview was really making one of my dreams come true. She’s a world class champion with a lot of experience (also as a coach), an accomplished roller skater who has been featured in hugely popular music videos, and she’s always managed to have fun and find pleasure in what she’s been doing. We talk about the beginnings of her career, her greatest successes, the unique atmosphere at the rinks, roller skaters’ camaraderie and her craziest ideas. Candice Heiden will also take you behind the scenes of the music videos we can watch her skating in and share a few words of advice for those who have just started roller skating.

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Remote Talk: Did you watch the Olympic Games in Rio? What were your favourite moments?

Candice Heiden: I definitely didn’t watch as much as I would’ve liked, but of course the US women’s gymnastics has always been a favorite of mine, and so inspiring. I think I may have watched them while doing the splits at some point lol. I also loved seeing Claressa Maria Shields win the gold a second time in women’s boxing.

Skateboarding is now officially an olympic sport. It will debut in Tokyo in 2020. Do you think that roller skating will ever be an olympic sport too? Would it be a good idea? I’m asking about it, because some skateboarders are afraid the organizers may not get the right people to prepare skateboarding events during the Olympics.

I’m not quite sure if roller skating will be an olympic sport. It’s been a hope I’ve carried since I began skating over 20 years ago. If organizers used viewership numbers from ice figure skating, I think it would make a lot of sense to have its counter-part (roller) be shown in the Summer Games. There is also a great movement happening now with roller skaters in skate parks (I mean girls are throwing back flips in quad skates, it’s incredibly athletic and impressive to watch), which could compliment the skateboarding sport and perhaps have a cross-over of viewers and fans. As far as organizers go, I would hope that there is a team to properly market and brand roller skating to present it effectively to the general population. As far as I know, there is very little being done to market roller skating in an effective way by a group of organizers. The best at this seem to be skaters themselves.

As a member of the national team, you represented USA in World Championships many times. You also took part in World Games 2001 in Akita, winning Silver Medal in artistic roller skating. How did it feel like?

Its funny you ask about that one. The Silver Medal from the World Games has been the only medal, trophy or reward that I have ever shown to my students as inspiration. It’s quite impressive and represents so much to me. That competition in particular was very memorable because of the skaters that were on the US team, the closeness of the rest of the international competitors, our performance, the condition of the floor, and skating while injured… an experience I’ll never forget.

A lot of people have discovered you thanks to music videos. Music videos featuring you include Avid Dancer’s “I Want To See You Dance”, Chet Faker’s “Gold”, “Sweet Lovin’” by Sigala and “Make Me Like You” by Gwen Stefani. I’d like you to lead us behind the scenes and share some secrets of making these videos. Let’s start with Chet Faker’s “Gold” you made with April Corley and Appelusa McGlynn. Where was it recorded? Did filming at night matter? Did it make the ride more difficult?

We shot the “Gold” video on a highway north of LA over night. Filming at night was ok for us once we made sure our path was clean and free of debris. There was a large light attached to the bottom of the truck we were chasing that lit up everything we needed to see.

Is it true that the road wasn’t actually empty, but there were cars driving past your group?

We had the road locked down by local police, but yes, cars were allowed to pass through between our takes.

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There are many theories on what the story in the clip is about and who your characters are. What do you think?

We were given direction on our roles and characters by the incredible director Hiro Murai and translated by the incomparable choreographer Ryan Heffington. From what I understood we were sirens coming in and out of the light, but with a constant type of forward progression.

”I Want To See You Dance” looks like a scene from a movie. Did you feel a little bit like a star of the 80s roller skating film?

This was the first time I had done a music video that featured me solo and honestly it was a little intimidating at first, but I quickly warmed up to the freedom that the director gave me as choreographer, which inspired me to try things that I would do if I were just skating alone by myself. It was really fun. I love how that one turned out because the crew was literally 5 extraordinarily creative people that worked together beautifully to create solutions and ideas on the spot that read so beautifully on screen.

Where did they film it?

This one was filmed at the famous Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale, CA. Minutes from Hollywood. Half the skating work I do is shot there, it’s a beautiful facility and the owner, Dominic, is a sweetheart.

By the way, do you have your favourite movies about roller skaters?

Hmm… My favorite movie that features roller skating might be Roller Boogie just because my competitive coach taught Jimmy Bray (the main skater) and I love that he does a full competitive routine almost as if it were a physical monologue… and it’s technically a really difficult routine, which I’ve always been super impressed with. No one told him he needed to do a loop combo, but he does, just because he’s a badass!

”Sweet Lovin’” is the biggest hit among the ones mentioned, at least so far. Where did you make the clip? Who accompanied you on roller skates?

“Sweet Lovin’” was filmed all over LA, various locations including the downtown arts district, the LA river, and a Beverly Hills neighborhood. Some of my best friends and star roller skaters skated with me on that one: Nicole Leonard (4-time World Champion), Ali Stravino (National Champion), Michelle Steilen, Chelsea Traille and an incredible jam skater Tony Zane.

Were there any onlookers moving around when you were filming, any strange reactions?

For the most part, we were shooting with locked down locations, but when there were onlookers they were loving the smoke on my skates.

Can you say a few words about the techniques and figures we can admire you doing in the video to “Sweet Lovin’” (and, more or less, the time in the clip we can see them)?

While I don’t do much that I would consider technical in this video, as they wanted me to just have fun freestyling around LA, I do a shoot the duck at 0:27-0:28, a full 360 jump around 1:53, a spiral happens around 2:47, me and Nicole hit the splits as Chelsea and Michelle roll over the top of us, a 2 person move that I used and created with Danielle Hawkins in the DJ Fresh “Louder” music video. We actually had some pretty awesome choreography created by Chris Downey and Matt Cady (amazing choreographers and so fun to work with) that we didn’t have time to shoot more than once that day and unfortunately was left out of the final edit.

Did you expect such huge popularity of that clip when you were making it? At the moment it has more than 172,1 million views.

I honestly am the worst about gaging which videos will do well and which ones will stay smaller, had no idea when shooting that this or “Gold” would become so popular. I feel extremely grateful and honored to have so many people see me skate.

“Sweet Lovin’” is definitely a summer hit that’s going to stay popular for a long time. What about your favourite summer hits? Do you have songs that remind you of great summer / holiday moments?

I love the Gwen Stefani “Make Me Like You”, it’s a perfect skating song and I heard it for 2 weeks straight while rehearsing for the video and still love it. That means something. I also love listening to “Love Never Felt So Good”, the lost Michael Jackson hit that they released with Justin Timberlake. I’m also really into “This Girl” by Kungs, definitely a summer fave.

The music video for “Make Me Like You” that you’ve just mentioned was special in two ways: firstly, because obviously Gwen Stefani herself is an exceptional artist, secondly – because you made live music video for the song! How was it? Did you have a chance to talk a little bit to Gwen Stefani?

I’m still blown away by what was pulled off for that video to happen. I’ve definitely never been a part of anything with so much risk and moving parts. It literally had to be executed with military precision lol. The planning and coordination involved was beyond comprehension, what we did in our skating scene was literally nothing compared to what the dancers, crew and Gwen had to do perfectly at the right time. Our biggest challenge was moving around one another smoothly at speed, while dancing in a confined space, while letting Gwen take the lead and hold down the front comfortably. She’s such a rock star! And yes, we did get to spend time with her and even met her boys, they are all super sweet.

Did anything funny or unexpected happen during making any of those music videos?

In Sigala’s clip, the smoke canisters were falling off all day and you can see it in a part of the video where I look down at my skate because it shook loose and I quickly put my foot in front of the other to hide it falling off and to save the shot.

Reading the articles about filming the music videos you took part in, I’ve got the impression that there’s no rat race among roller skaters, but rather mutual trust, respect, camaraderie. Is that true?

I’m extremely proud to be a part of the roller skating community because that’s exactly what it is… a community. As I’ve done larger projects, I have seen how different we are from other performance communities and although others are friendly, we definitely are a different breed, a bit goofy, and very supportive of one another. Even when a dancer has to throw on skates for a scene, you’ll see the professional skaters stepping right up to help and support that dancer. I love the camaraderie that we share, it’s inspiring and has led me to co-create an entertainment company that supports and creates work for roller skaters.

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As you’ve just mentioned, together with other accomplished world-class roller skaters, you founded LA Roller Girls (the photo above). When did an idea to set up such a group appear?

Me and the girls have been working professionally in LA for years and were being contacted frequently about finding other skaters for castings. We finally realized we were already doing the job we wanted to do so we got organized and created something we are really proud of – a unified front really, where people can go to find the best skaters.

Your group combine training young girls with working in entertainment. Can you say more about it?

Yes, this is one of the most important parts of what we do, and I hold it so close to my heart because I love teaching and helping others accomplish their goal. When I started working professionally as a skater, there was no one to help you learn how to take your training as an elite athlete and somehow present it in the right way for entertainment purposes. One of the most exciting parts of LA Roller Girls Entertainment is that I get to work with girls that I have coached as competitive athletes, and watched grow up. I love being able to advocate for them as they get started in professional skating and put their years of training and incredible skills to use.

Have LA Roller Girls been busy this summer?

We’ve been unexpectedly busy this summer, to the point that work became so frequent we had to cancel a trip to Europe to teach at the BCN Roller dance festival. We had been looking forward to it all year and were so disappointed to have to back out.

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On YouTube, in the comments to the videos we’ve mentioned, some people, especially ladies, admit that they started roller skating after watching you and your friends. Have you had any messages or comments from such people?

When I receive messages or comments about people returning to skating after seeing me or taking up roller skating because of something they’ve seen me do, I get a little emotional. I’m such a nerd. I feel like I’ve won somehow, I’ve accomplished something important if I’ve inspired someone. I literally read the message to my boyfriend and get all sappy. It’s funny.

We’ve talked about LA Roller Girls and extremely popular music videos you performed in, but it’s just a part of your career. Do you remember how it all began? When did you put on the roller skates for the first time? Why did you decide to try roller skating?

The earliest picture I have of me roller skating, I must’ve been about 5 years old walking around my backyard in them with my most special backpack on. They were plastic skates that probably didn’t even roll lol. My mom and her sisters dabbled in roller figure skating as young girls and my parents knew I needed something to do with my energy. Luckily for me, my aunt was still in contact with their old coach who happened to be coaching the reigning world champion, so I trained with the absolute best from the get-go… The stars were seriously aligned for me.

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Some people say that roller skating gives a special sensation, that you can feel like you were flying. Is it so? What’s so unique about it?

For me it’s complete freedom, floating, flying, it’s very ethereal. I used to close my eyes sometimes during competition in big overhead lifts, just to feel more like I was flying. Having the music playing as you float really creates a feeling almost as if being out of body. It’s great!

People who used to spend a lot of time at roller skating rinks in the past, for example in the 80s, say that friendships were born there, that they fell in love at the rink or came there looking for consolation after breaking up. Have you ever experienced something like that, for example making friends you still stay in touch with?

Most of my best friends are roller skaters, first kiss was a rink rat like me, my first job was in the snack bar of the rink, and definitely when I’m feeling empty I go skate alone (usually at the tennis courts near my house). Even though I’m in skates about 6 days a week for work, my friends and I will still go skating as a hangout activity. It’s hilarious.

Talking about hanging out with friends, I have to ask about jam skating. It’s something that looks absolutely amazing. For those who don’t know the name, could you explain what it is? Why do you think it’s so special?

Jam skating I would describe as break dancing meets roller skates. There are several different styles, some are big power moves that require all kinds of upper body strength (see my buddy Tony Zane in Sigala’s video) and other types of jam skating progressively move around the skating floor with amazing shuffling footwork integrated with tricks. I think this is very special because it is very stylized and you will almost never see two jam skaters that look the same, everyone has their own identity, the best ones look like amazing dancers with skates on their feet, you almost forget they’re rolling.

You’re working with young girls. If you compare the situation of roller skating (its popularity, the access to the rinks, the atmosphere at the rinks) at the time you started your career to the present, when they start training, do you see any big differences?

I’ve been coaching skating for about 14 years now and there has been a significant change in numbers of skaters, and quality of skating, even in my years as a coach. I try not to compare today with yesterday because the world is a completely different place now, children are different, families are different, the things that motivate people, children and adults are very different, the emphasis on family physical activities has changed so of course skating has changed. I’m trying to find ways to show the benefits of skating for your health, mind and development as an individual. The roller skating I grew up in, is an individual sport where almost all of my life lessons were learned. I was very fortunate to have it as a positive outlet for me and I would love for others to get out of it what I did. I feel that even with the differences in society now from then, roller skating still has a place to positively affect people’s lives.

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You do incredible things on roller skates. Did you train dance in the past? Or were dance moves just a part of your roller skating training?

I would love to say I have a background in dance, because I desperately wanted to be a dancer growing up. I danced all the time, but always chose to skate rather than pursue any of my other passions and in my house there was hardly enough money to skate, let alone do anything else.

You don’t only roller skate, you also ride on rollerblades. You once mentioned that you took up rollerblading as an addition to your training at some point. From your experience, what are the main differences between roller skating and rollerblading?

Yes I turned to blades as a kid as a way to practice outside, my parents wouldn’t let me use my good equipment outdoors, but I wanted to skate all the time so on days where there was no practice I would put on blades and skate in the driveway. The biggest difference was how they fit, they don’t hug your feet and react at all like a roller skate. Spinning is quite tricky too but you learn to make adjustments. I like how much lighter they are, it makes jumps feel quite different though.

If you were to choose three most important moments of your career so far, what would you pick?

Hmm… I would have to say as a competitive athlete, earning the Silver medal at the World Games was definitely one of the best moments. Another stand out career moment for me would be earning my first John Wintz award for coaching a National Champion, and professionally it would have to be realizing how many people have seen roller skating by way of the Chet Faker video and now the Sigala video as well. It blows my mind that people can now see what roller skating is.

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Apart from being an accomplished roller skater, you have other talents, too. While watching your roller skating videos, I came across your “Boxing combos” clips – and they were pretty awesome! Haven’t you thought of combining roller skating and fighting – for a movie or a TV series episode?

I have trained in boxing and kickboxing and love learning about the technical aspect of those sports. I haven’t thought of gloves and skates at the same time.

And, in general, if you could guest star in a movie or a TV series, which series or what kind of movie would you like to play in? Maybe some director or producer will read this interview, who knows? 😉

I would love to do anything physical, I love learning and training in a new medium. Wrestling cracks me up and I think my size would be hilarious in a role like that.

Apparently, one of your favourite movies is Amélie. The title character of the movie “sends” a garden gnome on a journey and asks a friend, a flight attendant, to send the pictures of it, taken in different parts of the world, to Amelie’s father. Have you ever done anything as crazy as that? Or maybe even crazier?

I do love Amélie! One of my favorite little pranks has definitely been taking embarrassing photos of friends that would otherwise be throwaways and having them turned into wrapping paper, then giving them gifts in their paper, it’s great!

And what movies do you like watching in your free time? What books do you like reading? What bands and singers do you listen to?

While I don’t get to the movies often, I try to make it a point to see the ones that get nominated, I love good acting and aesthetically pleasing directing. Tarantino films are always a favorite of mine, and Lawrence of Arabia is in my top 3 of all time, its aesthetically gorgeous. My go-to reading is definitely spiritual guidance books because I can read them in pieces and it will completely take away my need to worry for the entire day or maybe longer, it’s like a reset for my perspective on things, it’s magic. As far as music goes, I’m a classic rock and soul girl so 60s and 70s are my easy listening genres, but I love finding new music with a classic feel: Alabama Shakes, Aloe Blacc, Jack White, The Black Keys to name a few.

What about other pastimes? Do you have enough time for any?

I design and create costumes, it costs me so much time but I love how I feel when I’ve created something from an idea in my head, put it on paper, cut some material and created a garment, it really is creating something physical from something that was not there before. There’s something magical about it. I also started to learn to play piano, I would love to spend more time on it, because I do love it and it forces me to sit still, it requires discipline, which I love. I practice yoga and I’m trained in stilt dancing. I do yoga about 3-4 times a week (thank goodness I have time for that).

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What advice would you give to the beginners, those who are just starting their adventure with roller skating?

Don’t give up or be discouraged, if something becomes frustrating or stagnant, move on to another skill and then come back, a fresh perspective makes all the difference.

Where can we see you live (solo or with LA Roller Girls) in the nearest future? Are you going to work on any new music videos (or movies)?

I just finished shooting a video for Norah Jones and shot another video for Hardwell featuring Jay Sean. They should be out shortly (RT: Both videos are already out now: Norah Jones “Tragedy (Lyric Video)” and Hardwell feat. Jay Sean “Thinking About You”). I’m also working on putting out a lifestyle video partnering with High Fidelity Pictures and HQ Avalon Studios where we will get to create the roller skating music video of our dreams! Im also excited to share that the LA Roller Girls will be skating in the “America’s Got Talent Christmas Special” over the holiday season.

We talked about summer hits, summer events and summer sports. At the end, let me ask you one more ‘summer’ question. Three things you like about summer?

I love when the weather is so hot that you have to be in water, I love the water! I also love that people seem to be more social in summer and want to do more things as a group, it’s hard to find time to connect with people these days. I like that I can get away with wearing shorts and sandals every day and not doing my hair is more acceptable because it looks like I might be going to or coming from the beach at any given time lol.

Thank you very much. I’m so happy you’ve managed to find some time for this interview 🙂

by Łukasz Garbol, September – October 2016

As usual, some links worth checking:

image10 Candice Heiden on Instagram

Candice Heiden on YouTube

LA Roller Girls – official page

LA Roller Girls’ Instagram

LA Roller Girls’ Facebook

Most of the photos from Candice’s archives / Instagram, photos 1 and 11 by Elaine Reid, photo 2 is a still from the “Gold” music video, photo 3 by Michael Wise, photo 7 is a still from DJ Fresh’s “Louder” music video .