Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Film That Says It All

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Vignettes - Chapter 6
The Maker

I remember cold nights. Long and dark. Time drew out like blades
from sheaths. My basement apartment in Guelph was not giving me
much comfort. The bright red, musty smelling carpet never felt right
under my feet. Everything seemed alright...and yet it didn't all at the
same time. I didn't really feel right...about anything. It was somewhat
like an aching in your body but you can't really specify a joint or a
specific region. It was everywhere. The lights went off in my room but
the fires in my brain were lit and roaring.

I had a phone conversation with two of my closest friends the next
day. I told them I was tired. I was tired of wading in and out of the
water but never really submerging myself. I was tired of knowing the
answers in my head but not really knowing them in my heart.

"I rose from my bed with a thundering unrest and sat at my poorly lit desk.
The book that had not been opened for so long was finally cracked. The
spine of it creaked. I can still smell the pages. That papery, lacquery
aroma. The words jumped off the page and applied directly to me, no
matter where I looked.

And there You were.

All that time.

Never gone.

Just waiting for me."

Words fall short of all that I want to say to You. I remember walking
the streets of Guelph and vividly hearing You speak. Once, when I
was about to make a stupid decision, I wasn't sure what to do. My
heart and mind were twisted together in a massive battle. I woke up in
the middle of the night and heard a voice say 'No'.

I remember horsefly mountain....just being there with You. So peaceful
and so real. No one else. Just You and me. I wondered why everyone
couldn't have it that good.

Since those days, times have changed. At times, I've definitely forgotten
about You but then You usually showed up. I've found it harder to see
You. It's almost as if I hear You've been somewhere and then I arrive a
few minutes later...like the Pokaroo. I get really pissed off that You're
invisible and that You haven't shown Yourself to more people...but then
I remember it was me who decided to seek You out.

I made the choice.

I took the Indiana Jones step across the seemingly empty chasm.

I have this feeling that You were so close and so real for a while and that
as I've grown up, You've distanced yourself...maybe so I don't get hooked
on a feeling...and so I remember the truth...and so I remember what I know.

Help me to look for You.
Help me to think less of me and more of the others around me.
Help me to see You in all things and all seasons.

Thanks for never leaving.

Your love far outweighs my greatest concept of the word 'love'.

But I'll say it anyways...because it's all I can do.

I love you.




Oh, oh deep water, black and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open,
I've run a twisted line
I'm a stranger in the eyes of the Maker

I could not see for the fog in my eyes
I could not feel for the fear in my life
And from across the great divide,
In the distance I saw a light
Jean Baptiste's walking to me with the Maker

My body is bent and broken by long and dangerous sleep
I can't work the fields of Abraham and turn my head away
I'm not a stranger in the hands of the Maker

Brother John, have you seen the homeless daughters
Standing there with broken wings
I have seen the flaming swords
there over east of eden

Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker...

Oh, river rise from your sleep...
-Daniel Lanois

Monday, June 11, 2007

Vignettes - Chapter 5
Ballad of the First Person Shooter

'So much shoosting, so little time'.

(Shoosting relates to a term that my friends Mark and Eva stole from
the movie 'The Impostors' that refers to a comical, stereotypical
German character who says the word 'shooting' like 'shoosting'.)

I don't really remember the first time I played a one person shooter game
but I know that it was most definitely Goldeneye. I had played variations
of one person shooters throughout my childhood (i.e. Duke Nuke Em on my
friend Steve Gray's PC where Duke would say lines like 'Damn! I look
GOOD!' in a baritone voice while blasting away at pig-like aliens) but
Goldeneye was my first taste of simulated ammo unloading glory. The very
first time I played Goldeneye (I think) was on a random visit to PEI with my
best friend Bri. I had no clue how to play the game and in a four player
shoot-out, all I really recall is not knowing how to use the new-fangled
joystick and having my character stuck in a kneeling position, spinning
around in circles and shooting straight up at the ceiling.

I was an easy target.

Goldeneye for the N64 is one of the best made video games
of all time.

The graphics were so far advanced for its era and it is a cult classic
that legions of current gamers and programmers still try to mimic. At one point,
my Ottawa homiez Steve and Joel were so into two player Goldeneye that
they had a monster basement set-up at Joel's house. The setup involved two
different monitors or tv's (whatever they had found in the dumpster that
week) hooked into the same N64 with a piece of cardboard over the
top half of the screen on one tv and a piece covering the bottom half of the
other screen. It was insanity. The reason it was insanity was due to the fact
that you were not allowed to use radar (an onscreen device that allowed you to
track the other player) and weren't even able to see the other player's screen
so that you had no clue when or where your opponent might strike. Many a
loud, girlish scream of horror was heard from the Stewarts' basement in that
day and age, I tell you.

From 2002 to 2003, I lived in Guelph with my long time brother Justin
Paizer. Paizer had a PS1. This was a step into the gaming world that blew
my mind, mostly because of one game - Syphon Filter 3. At first, the game
scared me. The movements, the quick aim features, the variety of weaponry
and graphics all seemed to be far beyond the grasp of my Atari mind. Slowly
but surely, though, Paizer helped me find the light. This game followed agent
Gabe Logan and his truth-seeking friends who are trying to stop a deadly
virus...but who cares about that. One word: Falcon. The falcon was a special
type of handgun, only available on certain missions, that would rocket any
opponent airborne toward their certain death into with one shot. One day
in particular, I remember being jobless and really having nothing to do except
play Syphon Filter...all day. For at least eight hours straight, I played some
of the most difficult missions on my own without Justin's aid. One mission
required special agent Gabe Logan to make it all the way through a dark
desert valley with a shadow player who has to remain alive. The shadow
player is named Ellis and he is essentially a walking corpse with zero aim.
(I once heard Justin curse the name Ellis loudly from the other room.) I did,
though, finally make it through the mission with Ellis in tact but the problem
was that the next mission began with the ammo you had at the end of the Ellis
mission. I had pretty much exhausted every piece of ammo in the Ellis
level and the level after started you with about 5 guys firing directly at
you in an alleyway with nowhere to run. Eventually, I found a way to
summersault all the way to each player and stab them from up close
while dodging their bullets. Now THAT was an achievement. I also still
remember the shocked expression on Justin's face, coming home
well after 6 pm, seeing me in the exact same spot on the black futon,
doing my part to stop the deadly strain of the syphon filter virus.

For the most part, though, Syphon Filter was exiting my life and
Goldeneye was about to make a massive comeback.

In 2003, I had moved away from Guelph and into my girlfriend's
town to live closer to her, making plans to eventually get married. I
found lodging in the nearby residence of my friend Matt Roberts. I lived
in his basement all year while he was gallavanting through Europe and going
to school there. He had an old N64 in his basement and I realized that he
did, in fact, have a dusty old Goldeneye game cartridge. I was hooked in.
After months of perfecting the game, though, Matt returned and learned
of my re-ignited love for the game of all games. He found this concerning as
he was pretty much the Goldeneye champ of Northumberland County.

We set a date.

The intensity of our match was unparalleled to any other two player shooter
experience I have endured. Matt was very quick and had me in a 6-0 hole
within minutes but slowly and surely, I found a way to get inside his head.
Thanks to well placed headshots with the cannon of the 357 Magnum,
Matt was finding himself caught up to while screaming curses into his pillow.
When we stopped for dinner, the score was 7-6 for Matt. I was hot on his
trail and he knew it. He ended up beating me but it was still an intense

The First Person shooter experience has brought some joy to my life even
though it is the worry of many gaming companies now due to amount of
school shootings and teen violence. I think that anything can be fun in the
right context but that there is a darkside to all things human.

For me, the brainless activity of making it through a mission or playing
against a friend is quite a release of endorphins.

Justin gave me his PS1...the world needs someone to stop the virus...
but who will do it?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Vignettes - Chapter 4

So there's this guy named Garry. To begin a post of this magnitude
is somewhat of an overwhelming chore. Garry and I have about
25 plus years of history together. Once, while my best friend Bri
and I were watching 'The Ref' (a incredibly terse but good comedy
with Denis Leary), we noticed that one of the main characters of the
film was named Gary (probably with one R - not very unique). We
also noticed that as these two bumbling policemen in the film keep
wanting their mutual friend Gary to show up, and when he finally
does (into the house that Denis Leary is robbing...sort of...you gotta
see the film), the two idiotic policemen see him, shouting in obnxious
unison "GAAARE!" Bri and I thought that THIS was the way Garry
should be greeted from that day forward. That was probably 1995.
I still say it when I see him today.

Garry grew up in Calgary and was a fan of Calgary Flames. When
he was 6 or so, that all changed as Garry and his fam moved to
Camp IAWAH in the golden lands of Godfrey, Ontario (right next
door to Fermoy). We kinda grew up together there as my parents
came up to volunteer in the summers and his parents pretty much
ran the IAWAH show. Everyone at Camp IAWAH gets a camp
name (a nickname so that crazy kids who come on site can't
find your real information if they don't like you) - Garry's was
'Dufour'. It was the name of the windsurfing board that he learned
to windsurf upon. Years later, he cut the end of that windsurfing board
off, where the moulded plastic read the word 'DUFOUR', and
still has it as a mantle-piece to this day.

One time, Garry picked me up at the Kingston Bus station at 3 am
with our mutual friend Jason Oldendorp. Apparently, when I called
them to let them know I had arrived in Ktown (as they were staying at
another Jason's place also called 'The Geneva House'), Garry
and Olden were sleeping on a large throw rug. When they heard the
noise of the answering machine, Garry sat bolt upright causing Olden
to spout jibberish. They were both sweating buckets. They barely
made it to the station. I don't remember much more of that weekend.

I just know that it was good.

Garry, at that time, drove a brown Nissan boxmobile that had a
reputation for showing constant dash lights, spewing a variety of
smells through the vents and barely cracking 100 k/hr on
the highway when it was floored. We made many a memory
traversing within that automobile. Once, we drove from Ottawa to
Almonte and played hockey with Brad Huskins, (older brother of
last night's Stanley Cup Champion Kent Huskins) Paul Godin,
Jay Oldendorp and a few others. It was a really sloppy game of

When Garry worked at IAWAH for a year after his graduation
from Queens, I once came to visit him and we spent a few days
together when the usually busy Camp was pretty much emptied
out. We played a floor hockey game together where the two of
us would shoot rubber pucks at each other, using the span of the
entire empty gymnasium. The point of the game was to try and
score on each other's nets but you could only come to the halfway
line to rip a shot. We ended up hitting each other a lot. I probably
swore at him. On that same visit, we decided that talking in
"Yodaspeak" was the best way to converse with each other. When
taking stock of what was in Garry's personal fridge, I spouted the
classic line 'Correct you are. Only a Brita remains.' We made a
lot of blue juice and milkshakes during that 2 man retreat.

On that same 2 man retreat, I had a dream about:
a. Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters, and how I had to set up a
massive 'sink demonstration' for his birthday - the demonstration
involved a massive line of sinks, about 18 all in a row, and when
I cued the sinks to...do whatever they were supposed to do...they
did nothing. It was at this point that 18 plumbers all dove under the
sinks to find out 'what had gone wrong'. Dave was watching
nearby in a chair and was unimpressed.
b. Tony the Tiger flying in the sky - I looked up from my side
yard in Ottawa and saw him almost swimming through the clouds.

I told Garry about these dreams. He looked puzzled.
Speaking of dreams...

Garry has had, over the years, some incredible nightmares that
have usually involved animals of some kind either chasing or
wrestling with him. Once, while in his room at IAWAH, he was
having a dream about a deer that was chasing him through the
woods, snorting at him and looking mean. While in the dream,
Garry thought it would be a good idea to hide behind a tree, jump
out and scare the deer. As he did this in the dream, he also did it
in real life, jumping out of his bed, yelling as loud as he could and
stretching out both of his arms as far as he could. He knocked a
whole row of cds off of his bookshelf. In the midst of another
crazy animal dream, Garry was being chased by an angry, hissing
platypus (that's right - I said 'platypus') and decided to punch the
platypus on its beak. While doing so, Garry also performed this task in
real life and punched the side of his wooden frame bed, waking
himself up in severe pain.

Garry has been known to like strutting his stuff in front of a crowd.
I can't say that I haven't encouraged him to do so - the results were
always excellent. One time, without any encouragement, Garry was
driving one his many inherited/found bicycles around Queens
campus and decided to 'hop' the curb in front of some girls.
Unfortunately, the bike was not very 'high quality' and while he
attempted to pull up the handlebars to 'hop' the curb, the front
wheel came clear off the bike. Garry landed on the front forks
and went 'ass over tea-kettle' on to the sidewalk. The girls were
unimpressed...and Garry was in pain. I'm pretty sure Garry bent
or trashed that bike beyond recognition, out of fury and
disappointment, after that incident.

Gare and I worked together for many summer and spring seasons at
Camp IAWAH. We definitely had some disagreements and at
one point, it looked as if we would not be friends anymore. I can
even remember saying to Sarah, on a late night drive, that I could
honestly see the end of our friendship coming.

Thank God that didn't happen.

I have never been through as much agony and struggle in any other
friendship than I have with Gare. The struggle, however, has only
managed to strengthen the bond we have. Gare has been through
a lot of intense shit in his life...and I'm sure I contributed to that at
times...but I'm glad I know him.

I'm glad to call him my amigo.

There was much more I could have written about Gare - I could
honestly publish a book of our adventures. (I think I would call
it 'The Idiotball Dingler' in memory of an incident that occurred
while Garry was goaltending, during a massive game of mens-only
idiotball at Camp IAWAH. Let's just say all the guys were
only wearing boxers and he went down into the splits to make a
save and...yeah.)

Now he has a great wife and a lovely child. He lives in Kingston.

He's the pastor of a church.

We're going to brew some beer together this summer. I can't

Monday, June 04, 2007

The End of An Era

That's all, folks.

I thought about typing some long, drawn out malarkey about my time at NuComm
but after talking it over with Sarah, it seemed to the best option would be to
just stick with the facts.

So as of June 18, 2007, I will no longer be gainfully employed.
I'm a little worried about the future but a clean break has been needed for
some time, now.

'This one's for the record...and the record's for you'.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Vignettes - Chapter 3
Kingston, Coffee and The Sleeping Dog of Caffeine

I can remember the first time I really got into coffee. It was in my
second year at the University of Guelph. I was 21.

Before this time in my life, coffee was always more of a thing I would
get into if others (usually older than myself) were drinking it. Having
worked years upon years alongside my dad during tax season, I was
introduced to the monster of Tim Horton's at a pre-teen age as there is
a TH footsteps away from his building. He would always order (and
still does to this day) a large double cream. As a teen, trying to find his
way, I followed suit but would end up cringing my way through half
or maybe two thirds of the cup, drinking it back at the office. The taste
of the cream on its own (and not being a coffee drinker AT all) gave
me a bad flavour experience. I always told people, as a teenager,
'coffee is disgusting. I'll never be hooked'.

Enter year two of my BA at the University of Guelph. My housemate
Scott Grasley would always stop in at the Centre 6 TH in the U of G
main building as we often took the bus or walked to campus
together. He had a U of G refillable plastic coffee mug that would
hold about the size of one large TH coffee. It was gold and red with
black writing - the colours of the Gryphons. He told me I should get
one as they were giving them away as part of a contest. I did. Telling
him of my past experience with TH, though, I was skeptical of ever
putting coffee into it.

That's when I learned about the 'double double'. 'Noway!', I thought
- 'Sugar will just make it MORE disgusting!' Boy, was I ever wrong.
It came to pass that I had a hard time, from that year forward, going
to a morning class without a full mug of Centre 6 TH double doubley
goodness. I'm pretty sure I made it too sweet but I didn't care. It
was my morning ritual and save for a few dry spells (and de-toxifying
of the system from time to time), it has never stopped. I have even
contributed to my wife's entering into this ritual. I'm pretty proud.

Today, I would consider myself a coffee connaisseur and I
know that TH can be both addictive and repulsive...but damned if
I still don't bear a deep-rooted love for the double double. I've
bought and ground many kinds - from the corporate whore of
Starbucks to grassroots organic fair-trades to Seattle's Best to
certain Hawaiian blends to Honduran home-grown and very
soon Nicaraguan - Honestly, I've really just scratched the

Although I think that coffee has contributed to my anxiety at times,
(especially when I was frequenting this mom and pop place near
work that brewed the BC independent 'Kicking Horse 454
Magnum' - yes - the name says it all) I know that it is also a
source of pleasure and that if I am in a good place, mentally, it
can be a definite source of comfort. Back in the fall of 2001,
when I was starting to set out on my own in Kingston, I hit up
the TH on Princess Street (which had just opened that summer)
on a daily basis after scrounging together what little pocket change
I had. It was not only a way for me to enjoy the sugar and caffeine
rushing through my bloodstream, releasing endorphins rapidly,
but it was also a way to start each day and collect my thoughts.

Sarah and I usually start our days, now, with the enjoyment of
a coffee together. Whether we are taking on the beast of the 401
or just sitting in bed watching Ellen, it's a way for us to relax
before the tide of day comes in. Rocket fuel. Nectar of the gods.
Baptist Alcohol. Call it what you will - some of my grandest
memories involve its consumption.

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