Monday, November 17, 2008

Since getting here...

I have acheived nothing. But I'm working on it.

Wow! My blog looks horrible! Two (or three) years of neglect! Who knew that meant anything in the blogosphere? May as well be a shack in the woods!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Life isn’t about what you own. It’s about the experiences that make you who you are.

I treasure the moments in my life when I’ve truly understood what life is all about.

82 kilometers along a trail, at various points two kilometers up and two kilometers down, at 2500 meters above sea level. I was walking the same worn stone path that the Quechua people had walked for centuries before the Europeans arrived. Our group had endured four days of hard travel, fighting through bad weather, altitude sickness, rough terrain, and steep climbs, braving nighttime stories (of various creepy-crawlies that might sneak their way into our sleeping bags if we left the tent flap open) and bland soups of quinoa and boiled river water. All leading up to this point. We got up at the crack of dawn, and walked the last few kilometers of the trail to a steep, stepped incline, crawling on our hands and knees, to the Temple of the Dawn. And as I sat there amongst the remnants of an ancient civilization, catching my breath, the clouds parted, and there was Machu Picchu -- as pristine and beautiful and untouched as the mountains that surrounded it, cradling the sacred city like a newborn child. That was the reward. But that was nothing compared to the feeling of accomplishment I felt after conquering the rugged peaks of the Andes.

At midnight, sitting alone on a white sand beach, surrounded by swaying palm trees and the distant, fragile light of the ring of clubs and restaurants along its span. A swift breeze rose up and I could hear the sounds of conversation and light music drifting on the wind from down the beach. Eerie streaks of blue heat-lightning were arcing across the sky, horizontally, without any sound or evidence of it having been there at all. As I sat there, I watched the moonlight reflect off the rippling waves and saw a burst of sudden movement, flying fish taking wing over the water and then disappearing again. As I stepped closer to the water, I saw that it was sparkling with thousands of points of light, swirling in eddies, tiny phosphorescent krill that could be found only here, at Koh Phangan. I breathed in deeply, waded out into the Gulf of Thailand, and dove in, headfirst.

Sitting on a wall, breathing in the crisp autumn air and sipping back a diet cola that I had brought along with me that day. My tripod and camera was set up in front of me, ready to capture the sunset that was still hours away; in my naivety, I had misjudged the time and the movement of the sun. I had spent the day trying to make up for lost time, capturing the last fading colours of the season as best as I could. Yet as I sat there, in the Arboretum in my home town, I realized I hadn’t missed anything at all. I saw the spread of yellows and reds and oranges and greens set before me, set afire by the golden light of the setting sun, and watched as a little girl crossed the hill in front of me, pulling a homemade kite made out of a plastic shopping bag and some sticks behind her, laughing and smiling and running in circles. And as I looked up at the sun and realized that the sunset wouldn’t be as colourful as I had hoped, I still felt like I had seen something even more beautiful.

Taking shelter in a small gazebo built for one, next to a hedgerow, water dripping all around me. My plans had changed; a storm was coming, with threats of lashing rain and pelting winds. The weather forecast made me head to my planned destination a day earlier. When I arrived, the weather was still holding off, so I took a walk around the grounds of Herstmonceux, exploring, and getting a feel for the English countryside. I walked amongst the centuries-old graves around a church that was there at the time of William the Conqueror, shuffling my way though the sodden grass, and made my way down to the castle. And as I was wandering around the manicured gardens, the storm hit suddenly and the rain began to pour down, drenching me to the skin. I ran to the gazebo and briefly took shelter, smoking a cigarette and watching the Queen’s University flag waving above the crenellated top of the castle’s battlements.

Life moves fast, and it’s often full of pain and hardship. Sometimes you need to slow it down to appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who says you need to play an instrument to be a musician?

And who needs music lessons? Or coordination? This guy makes up for his lack of musical talents with one hell of a talent for editing video and a small dash of theatrics for flavour. Check it out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Keeping with the holiday theme...sort-of

I'm still recuperating from a crazy adventure in the wilds of Peru. Which, rest assured, I'm going to be blogging about as soon as I've had a chance to sort out the vacation photos.

In the meantime, I'm amazed by this, and I thought I'd share it. It's in light of American thanksgiving, making it a little dated to those of us up north, but bear with me.

So as the page says, a teaching assistant at the University of Pennsylvania decided to add a question to the end of a recent Psychology midterm exam asking students to draw a turkey. And here's the fascinating part for me....two thirds of them drew a hand or traced around their hand and added turkey features! Check out the drawings on the page if you don't believe me.

Just gets you thinking about what else is lurking around in our brains as left-over conditioning from kindergarten, y'know what I mean? It might explain how easy it was for me to pick up some Spanish while I was in Peru. Thanks, Sesame Street!

Monday, October 09, 2006

All Hallow's a Little Early

Just wanted to share this, the first pumpkin of the season. This one was K's's Mumbles from the upcoming movie Happy Feet. Yeah, I know, jumping the gun a bit, since it isn't even in theatres until November.

So why Mumbles? I was feeling charitable, so I let her pick the design. She wanted a Pug dog. I refused. We settled on this instead. The girl likes penguins, what can I say? Enjoy!

Who knows, since we did this so early, I might have another pumpkin to post before Hallowe'en.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I spilled donair sauce into my keyboard today. Don't tell anyone.

I was trying to write an email and eat the donair at the same time. It was the wrong thing to do. So now there's dried donair sauce underneath the keys, where it pooled up. I'm trying to come up with some kind of plan to get it outta there.

I think the worst thing about this is that the smell of the donair sauce wafting up from my keyboard is making me hungry for another donair.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Angry Read of the Day

As some of you know, once upon a time, I was part of a small collective of writers who spent small amounts of time writing angry, scathing, yet funny reviews of movie trailers. It was a great idea: the trailers were available for download online, for free, and the bland, derivative, and predictable movies out there (which is most of them in the theatres, at any given time) could be summed up pretty easily by their trailer alone. The site was called The Trailer Trash, and it was the creation of one of my former roommates, Jay Pinkerton. Jay was also the co-editor of the newspaper I edited in my final year at school.

Jay's brilliant, by the way -- one of the most gifted comedy writers I have ever known. Since then, he's gone on to semi-internet-stardom with his site and is now one of the editors and major contributors for the relaunched Cracked magazine. I've given him kudos before, but what's one more time, for good measure? I'm real proud of him, and Jay, if you ever check in here anymore, congrats on your recent engagement!

Anyway, the reason I'm bringing all of this up is that I found a kind of interesting movie review site today that I thought I'd share with you. It's called "Pajiba - Scathing Reviews for Bitchy People," and although it's not as funny as Jay's old site, it makes up for it in vitriol. Check it out here.

I think that's the most hyperlinks I've ever put into a single post.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Idol Pursuits, Part 3: Finale

Catching up now? Check out Part 1 here.

All things Idol took a turn for the stressy over the remainder of the summer. I won’t go into details, but K's job got a lot harder. I’m guessing that’s all a part of showbiz.

In the meantime, things between K and I continued to grow stronger. We spent weekends together whenever we could and I was always there for her when she needed some backup, whenever the work-side of her life went bananas. Although it didn’t happen in the most romantic way or with the best timing (for some reason, I’m bloody lousy at that), we exchanged the “L” word and haven’t looked back since.

I still had one more chance to see K in action, working for the show. Somehow, K managed to sweet-talk someone in the production office into getting me a ticket for the season finale. And it was quite the spectacle.

As I sat, waiting for the show to begin, tucked away in the back corner of the theatre, I suddenly felt very privileged and almost smug about it. As I looked around at the minor celebrities, friends and family of CTV execs, and the odd teenaged girl (formerly a staple of the live audience) who managed to snap up one of the few remaining tickets for the show, I felt like I had a secret.

What they didn’t know is that I probably knew more than they did. I’d heard anecdotes about the people involved with the show all summer long. I’d been backstage, hanging out with K and helping her to prepare for the show. I knew that the stage was built mostly from plywood and the same kinds materials you might find at your local craft store. I was on the inside track and I’d seen behind The Great and Powerful Oz’s curtain. And in a weird way, that made me feel kind of powerful. Or privileged; we can stick with privileged.

As I was waiting for K to finish her work so we could head to the wrap party, I kept seeing the competitors from the show, the Idols, walking around backstage. And as I was looking at them and made eye contact, I found myself raising my eyebrows and smiling. You know – that look of happy surprise and recognition, as if to say hello to an old friend you haven’t seen in a while when you bump into them on the street. And yet, I absolutely didn’t know these people.

To them, I was a complete and utter blank, random stranger #349 out of the hundreds that they had encountered that night. And yet to me, they were familiar. I knew all kinds of things about them through the miracle of TV. I wasn’t star-struck, I was comfortable, like I’d known them for years. It was kind of eerie, actually. And when I didn’t get that look of recognition returned back to me, I got that momentary jab of rebuke before I reminded myself that I was being completely irrational. But that was my reflex, nonetheless.

The wrap party, for me, was the big payoff, the soft gooey centre, the victory lap at the end of the marathon. K and I had a fantastic time. We schmoozed and made small talk with current and former Idols. I got to meet all of the people who were in all of K’s work stories over the summer. I saw one of the judges, Zack Warner, jamming with one of the former Idols (Aaron) and a few other guys pulled out of the crowd. I caught an impromptu concert featuring Ashley Coulter and her band from back home, the guys she was jamming with before anyone knew her name. And above all else, I got to spend an unforgettable evening with K on a rooftop patio.

In TV, where shows go through several months of solid production followed by long breaks, most people are hired on contract. Canadian Idol is no different. As it worked out, K found out shortly before the finale that the production couldn’t hire any new permanent employees and that she would be leaving Idol at the end of the season. It was a disappointing day, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Although it was hard for her to see at the time, K felt that it was both a good thing and a bad thing. Months earlier, she realized that she’d learned all she could from her job at Idol and was ready for a new challenge. One, perhaps, that was better suited to her strengths and interests.

More than anything else, I think K missed that part of her job that had her on the front lines during the audition process in the spring. She hasn’t done anything comparable to that since then. That was the part of her job that I saw firsthand, where she was happy and in her element, all those months before. And if she could get a job with Idol in the first place, I know she can also find something even better, if she puts her mind to it.

And I’m incredibly proud of her. I love her now more than ever: for who she was, for who she is today, and for the potential I see in her for tomorrow.

It’s hard to say if we’d have ever gotten together in the first place if it wasn’t for Canadian Idol. The world works in funny ways sometimes – maybe we were meant to be together eventually, and it was fate? I prefer to think of it that way. But either way, I still owe an awful lot to the show. And for that, I will always be grateful.


Epilogue: Just in case you’re interested in my views on how the show itself all turned out, I think the right person won in the end. Early on, I had predicted an Eva/Craig final two, although it looked like it wasn’t going that way at several points over the season. But hey, if you ask me, the best two singers were eliminated before they even made it to the Top-10. Hopefully, they’ll be back again next season….

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Idol Pursuits, Part 2: Opportunities

Catching up now? Check out Part 1 here.

Somehow, I’d neglected to ask K what she did for a living. I knew that she used to dream about a career in the media or the arts. I had naively guessed that she had taken a desk job at some faceless company or government department, high-tailing it down the freeway to mediocrity like so many of our peers. I shouldn’t have.

And here she was with a Canadian Idol business card. She’d made it.

The revelation was followed by question after question about the show and the judges and Ben Mulroney and whether or not he was really as orange and leathery from over-tanning as he looked on TV. On most things, she couldn’t comment, but she assured me that if I was good, I might be able to find out for myself, in person.

We parted ways with my exceptionally-understanding friends and the rest of the evening passed in a blur. A trip to Zaphod’s and several Pangalactic Gargleblasters later, we shared our first kiss. And after I had walked her back to her hotel later that evening and started my own walk home, my head was working overtime. She lived in a completely different city. How would I be able to keep our newfound romance alive?

In the end, it may have been K’s boss that opened the door a little wider for us. Canadian Idol, of course, was in town for their cross-Canada auditions. As luck would have it, they were a little understaffed and K’s boss asked her if she knew anyone who might be able to help out for the day as a production assistant.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I was sitting in a car when she called me, I probably would have leapt three feet in the air in excitement. It was a priceless opportunity. I not only got to spend a day working on one of the most high-profile shows in Canada, my own little taste of the TV industry, but I also got to spend a whole day with K. And, I was promised, I would get a free T-shirt. Score.

We had dinner and drinks with some of my friends that evening. Even though this group of friends tried their hardest to scare her off, K still wanted me to help with the show the next day. And she only protested a little bit about what she called my “nefarious plan” to get her drunk and “lay the smackdown” on her the night before. And I protested back, denying any nefariousness, although I did know the bartender and he may have helped me out a little bit.

And as I sat there, manning a table with K and covering for her while she was away over the course of a long – but fun – day, my admiration for her continued to grow. She just seemed so in control and confident and happy to be doing what she was doing and getting paid for it. And I got paid for hanging out with her. I would have done it for free.

Also, in case you’re interested: Ben Mulroney is about as orange as Ernie from Sesame Street in person. Bert was nowhere to be seen. And his jacket looked like someone had attacked him with a rhinestone-gun.

I’m going to fast forward through some of the next details for a bit. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t give her up. Long-distance is hard, but she was worth the effort. And even though K still suspected nefariousness, she agreed that I was worth the effort, too.

Fortunately, I’d taken a week off as a break between jobs and I spent as much time with her as I could, despite her long working day. That’s right folks, that’s lucky-break #2, if you’re keeping score at home. We had reconnected at the very moment when I actually had the free time to spend with her.

And then when the production left town and headed back to Toronto, I went to visit K for a few days on her own turf. But it wasn’t all rosy. The following month, Idol continued on its tour across Canada and I didn’t see K at all. We did our best to make up for the lost time as things ticked along through May and June, but the Idol threat (ha! another pun) always loomed in the background. K was often asked to work weekends, causing us some scheduling challenges. And yet, through it all, we grew closer and closer to one another as the pressure on K increased and the first set of shows were aired on TV.

I was directly involved with Idol once more when the graphics department couldn’t put some photo work together at the last minute. Fortunately for me, they decided to freelance the work out and K was the one who had to find a designer on short notice. And once again, I was happy to help out. That’s right. Lucky break #3.

The Top-22 episode of Idol (featuring the finalists from the auditions) aired in late June and I already felt like I was a part of the production team, in my own small way. And I was watching. As predictable as the show (almost always) is, I had to find out where it was all leading. But it still didn’t prepare me for what lay ahead.

Check back here soon for the final instalment….

Monday, September 25, 2006

Idol Pursuits, Part 1

Another Canadian Idol season has come and gone. The votes have been cast and Eva Avila has been crowned. Like the Idols before her, she’ll go on to be the poster child for luke-warm Canadian star-hood. And with the show’s finale, the deeply-scarred bedpost of reality television receives yet another notch.

But for me, this season will always have special meaning. And it all started months before the first show aired.

But first, you’ll have to bear with me for a bit of back-story. Back in March, I wasn’t doing great. As you might know, my career had derailed a little bit and I was looking for a new direction. After a few months of networking and following up with friends and former co-workers, I landed a job (that I now love) with a great company. I gave notice at my government job and got ready for my next challenge.

My last day with the government was a chilly, overcast spring day. We had a lunch to say goodbye and the usual suspects at work followed that up by planning a few rounds of beers at a (now-closed!) pub called the Gap of Dunloe.

I was equally excited because I knew that I was also meeting up with a friend who I had lost touch with over the years, who we’ll call K. It wasn’t that I had purposely stopped being friends with K or that there was a fight or anything else like that….its was just that same old story of two old friends moving to different cities. We tried, but the emails between us got more and more infrequent as time went by until they dried up almost completely. I’m sure it was more my fault than hers, I’ve never been as good as I could be at that sort of thing. Over the first year, she even sent Christmas cards, and I may have sent one or two back. But the distance took its toll.

I’m not someone who gives up on friends easily. Some people move on, make new friends, and only have a passing interest in the people who used to be a part of their life. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Perfectly understandable; but that’s not me. And something told me that I had to try harder with K. Something told me that I couldn’t give up.

So I called her out of the blue the fall before….and we talked like almost no time had passed. We started emailing again. And in March, she told me she was going to be in town on business and I jumped at the chance to see her again. I didn’t think much of it past that. It was a chance to see a friend and have a few beers, just like old times, and maybe show her around my city a little bit.

When she walked in, everything changed. I can’t explain it, it’s never happened to me before. Even though we’d known each other for years, when she walked in -- it felt like I’d been hit by lightning. It was like the sun had dawned at that very moment and she was ringed in a golden-orange light. I was struck by a need to make cheesy metaphors to describe that sudden feeling. She had changed her hair colour, but otherwise, it was the same K that I remembered from before. But as soon as she smiled and her eyes lit up when she saw me, I was transfixed.

I jabbered on for a while, telling her about my last day at work and introducing her to my friends around the table. They all shot each other knowing looks and diverted their conversation away from us, giving us some space to catch up.

“You never asked me why I was in town for business, did you?” she asked me with a mischievous grin. My mind reeled a little bit as I realized that I hadn’t (and how could I have been so damn shallow?!). My mind reeled even further when she laid her business card on the table in front of me.

It was a Canadian Idol business card.

More in the next instalment….

Monday, April 24, 2006

The irony of convenient communication...

I love the fact that, at any given time, I have up to six viable means of transmitting thoughts and ideas to someone standing on the other side of the world, making any long distance relationship a whole lot easier.

...and yet...

I can't stand the fact that soon people living in Ottawa, a city of only a million people, will have to dial 10 digits to talk to someone standing on the nearest street corner.

It's a wacky world we live in.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


There's a new kool-aid ad campaign out there, stop me if you've heard this one. As I see it, the story goes something like this: the nice people at Kraft foods resurrect kool-aid man, dust him off, and then promptly strand his zombie, liquid-filled ass on a desert island. Bear with me, here.

And then, without any explanation, a plane full of children (possibly also piloted by children) flies overhead. They spot kool-aid man's misleading message ("S.U.S.") and mis-read it as a weak attempt at calling for help. Apparently the kids missed the all-important Grade-1 class where they should have learned the difference between the letter "U" and the letter "O". Miraculously, they find the means to land their adolescent airliner and rush to kool-aid man's *ahem* aid.

So the kids arrive on the beach, ready to rescue kool-aid man, but instead, all he wants to do is hawk his crappy little single-serving packets of fruit-flavoured dust. Kool-aid man has baited and fooled the kids again! The only logical course of action is to throw a spontaneous party. Coconuts are hollowed out, kids are swinging on vines, and merriment ensues.

Now, as plausible as all of this must sound to you, I still have some unanswered questions --how come kool-aid man needs to wear pants? And when they're done partying, do the kids fly away on their plane and leave kool-aid man behind, biding his time until the next jet full of children wanders into his island's airspace? These are important questions.

I think I have too much time on my hands.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Like the phoenix....

Does anyone still read this rag? Holla holla holla holla holla holla! I'm holla'n atchoo.

Okay, so how do I make up for four months of silence? Forget that dumb-ass business, best policy is to pretend it never happened! Yeah, that sounds mature and healthy.

Here's a quick rundown on my sordid, navel-gazing winter. The whole rehabilitation thing swung me for a loop. It's no big secret that I don't handle winters very well....change in light, lots of nutsack-burying cold, blistering wind, lots of COLD. C-O-L-D. Even this year's mild weather wasn't enough to counter the frustration of coming back from the surgery. And it was even routine surgery! Am I goofy, or what?

But honestly, it shouldn't have hit me as hard as it did. Yeah, I was dumb. I learned from it. Things aren't as bleak as they ever seem. I could spout more self-assuring statements for anyone who's interested. No takers? I'll move on.

The "my-knee's-all-fucked" depression would have been enough to deal with on its own, but there was more in store for me. A self-inflicted change to my job that saw me crumbling from a position of power back to a role I used to manage. I won't go into the details, but it shook my faith in the government's HR system. I'll say no more. Let's just say it was good while it lasted. I read a lot of web comics over that period.

But even that shouldn't have accounted for where I was this past winter. I was lost for far longer than I should have been. But the words of a wise friend kept ringing in my ears: if you don't like where you're at in life, don't just sit around bitching about it. Do something about it. So I did.

Today, I feel like a new person. A real, honest-to-God, semi-reformed human being. I still have a pile of stuff I'm working on. But I'm healthier, stronger, leaner and better dressed. I have a great new job working for one of the best companies I've ever come into contact with or heard about (bye-bye land o' cubicles and apathetic public servants). I have my own office with a view of the Peace Tower. I'm dating a sweet, smart, beautiful girl who sent me easter candy in the mail today. Mr. Mike Blue-Jeans is getting married to another great friend, and I couldn't be happier for them. Now If I could figure out a way to win the lottery, I'd be all set. But I'm not even sure that would improve my mood past what it is right now.

Hahahah, yeah, I can't back that up. Winning the lottery would kick ass. Where's all that mushy junk coming from, anyway? While we're dreaming, I could also go for a brand-new Dodge Charger.

So where does that leave this blog? Great question, even if I did ask it myself. Gold-star for me. The honest answer? I don't know yet. I want it to be great. I'm not sure it ever has been great. Lots of people who have been regular readers have told me how much they enjoyed it and encouraged me to start back at it, and I want to send a deep, heart-felt thank-you to each and every one of you (if it weren't for you, I may have never come back). But I still want it to be great. And that may take some time.

So for all of you who are still with me....or happened to drift in by accident -- thanks for dropping by. And with your help (and maybe some more continued good luck) maybe I can make this site as great as I want it to be. I hope you'll stick around to see what I make of it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mission Accomplished


Okay, so here it is: I'm okay. For the first time since the surgery, I'm back online (sorry for the delay). The surgery went well....but the recovery is going much slower than I had expected. And no ice cream afterwards! How is a chicken salad sandwich a good substitute for ice cream after surgery?! Gah! Thank you all for your well wishes, they certainly helped.

I'm stuck in a long cast until January, but at least the new one they just put on is fiberglass and it's a lot lighter than that plaster one I had before. And the meds! The meds made me crazy loopy. The painkillers weren't as fun as people made them out to be, I really didn't like how weak they made me feel. Turned me into a friggin' turnip. But I'm off them now, good riddance. Maybe I just got the wrong kind or something.

Anyway, I'm on dial-up right now, so I'll leave it there...should be back home and on cable internet again by the end of the week.