My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 1

So the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the American League East Division Title yesterday. For the first time in 22 years. I quietly enjoyed watching their champagne showers from my couch at home. I don’t remember what I did the last time they won their division, but it was 22 years ago, which made me 18. At that age I probably would have celebrated with my own champagne shower….. or sparkling wine shower…… who am I kidding? I probably quietly enjoyed it from my couch at home.

The Blue Jays have been incredible this year. I don’t blog about sports very often (because when I do, my viewer stats bottom out for whatever reason, until I just figure ‘hey…. they don’t like sports blogs’), so I don’t know if I’ve properly explained my passion for the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s just use the word avid. With all respect to band wagon jumpers around the city (because you’re all welcome), there isn’t anything you can tell me about the Blue Jays since the year 1981 that I don’t already know, and before 1981, I was basically a toddler. I also know my fair share of stuff from before 1981, because I studied my Blue Jay history. My wife would be quick to point out that I haven’t been monetarily compensated for any of this knowledge. I would add the word YET to that sentence.

So I’ve watched a lot of games. I was thinking about my blog the other day, and feeling a bit bad for not posting anything in a while, when I realized that this dream season the Jays are having, and me not blogging isn’t just a coincidence. I’m just having a tough time thinking about other stuff. So maybe to remedy this situation, I should write about some of my life experiences as they relate to the Blue Jays. I’ve got some good stories. I tell them all the time. I’ve just never written them down. So today, I’ve decided that my next 10 blogs will have a Toronto Blue Jays theme to them. I hope their playoff run lasts long enough that they’ll still be playing until I’m finished this project. Otherwise the last few that I write will be no-fun-at-all. Without additional delay………..

Saturday October 24, 1992 – Where were you?

I’ll tell you where I was….. Working at White Rose. It was a nursery. I had a part-time job loading garden soil into the backs of people’s cars. That’s what I remember about it anyways. We did all manner of dirty jobs at that place. Sounds crappy, but it wasn’t somehow. We were too young to care how unsafe our working conditions were. There were a bunch of people our age working there, and it was great fun. Two nights earlier, the Toronto Blue Jays had a chance to win their first World Series at their home stadium, then called ‘The Skydome’, and I still call it that because that’s the name it was given (don’t get me started on corporate naming rights). My parents were at that game too. I had written a good paragraph about their adventure that night in the following post That’s kind of a sad post, so scroll down to paragraph 12 if you’re not in the mood for a good cry. For those that didn’t click the link, the Jays lost on Thursday, and Game 6 would be played in Atlanta with the Jays up 3-2 in the series.

So this particular Saturday night might just be the first time in my life that a major Toronto sports team (apologies to the CFL Argonauts who I love dearly, but not the same way) could win a championship. The Blue Jays for those who don’t know were an expansion team new to Major League Baseball in 1977, so by 1992, we were ready. I wasn’t quite ready, I was stuck at White Rose until 6pm. I had found out that since the game was being held in Atlanta, the vacant Skydome was allowing fans to come in and watch the game for free as long as they brought some non-perishable food items for a food drive they were having. I wanted to be there, watching on the big screen with 50,000 screaming fans. With me getting off work only an hour before game time, and living in Mississauga, how was I going to manage this?

I give my friend Chris full credit for making this happen. Neither of us drove. He got his father to give us a lift to the train station. As I recall, the last train that we could catch to get us there was leaving the station at about 6:15 or so, and I know it was probably 12 minutes away. Chris and his dad rolled into the White Rose parking lot with food items to donate at 6 on the dot. I hurled myself into the backseat like it was a getaway car, and off we sped. We arrived at the station and ran up to the platform just as you could see the approaching train’s headlights off in the distance. A couple of minutes later we were on that train, closer to our goal, but not in the clear yet.

Before I continue, I have to explain the importance of this, because as I’m remembering it, I’m tensing up with excitement, but as I’m reading it back to myself, I’m not sure that I’m playing it up enough. At that point in time this was one of the few things that mattered to me in the world! I was 17 years old. One of the only Canadian kids who preferred baseball over hockey. It was my chance to watch my team possibly win a World Series. At 40, I still haven’t seen the Leafs win a Stanley Cup, and we’re not close. I fully understood this moment and how important it was, and how I’d be talking about it 10, 20, 50 years later. I had to get into this stadium, and we were cutting it real close. By getting on that train, we had pissed away our opportunity to just watch it on TV at home. We were downtown now. We weren’t old enough to go watch it at a bar, and what bar wouldn’t be completely rammed to capacity anyways? I’m sure we had no money, just a couple of jars of peanut butter or Kraft Dinner or something. There was no PVR, there was VHS, and while I’m usually happy to start watching a game after it’s happened these days, not the clinching game of the World Series!!! There was no backup plan! How did this story start? It started with ‘Where were you?’ If I didn’t get into the Skydome, I would be NOWHERE.

Chris and I got off the train and booked to the Skydome in hyper-speed. I think we had strategically chosen a gate near the top of the stairs, thinking that it would get us up into the nose-bleed section (the 500s). We maybe figured that those would be the only seats leftover. As we got to that gate there were like 200 people in front of us. The game was going to start in just a few minutes. It wasn’t looking good. There is a huge set of stairs that lead down to some more gates. We thought it prudent to check out the lineups at a couple of the other ones to see if it was more promising, so we started down the stairs. About 10 seconds later someone came on a megaphone and announced that Gates 5 and 6 were now the only gates left that were letting in people………….These were the gates that we were approaching…… the ones at the bottom of the stairs……

This next part plays out in my mind like a movie. I’m quite certain it didn’t happen in slow motion, but when I replay it in my mind, that’s the only way I see it. I can see the lady’s mouth slowly saying the words. You know in the movies, there would be a little bit of slow motion spit coming out of her mouth as she said it, and a really bitchy look on her face as she delivered the disappointing news, but she had probably been putting up with people’s shit for 2 hours and was happy to be shutting her gate down. Then there’s the crowd of people whose faces were looking ahead, have now swiveled towards us with sheer panic, and their stances turn athletic, and Chris and I look at each other like you do in one of those zombie apocalypse movies where there’s only two humans left, and you were doing okay sneaking around, but then someone dropped a candy wrapper on the ground, and 500 zombies suddenly see you at once, and decide they want to eat your brain, so you say to each other “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Chris and I had about a 30 foot lead on these people as they started running after us at top speed DOWN TWO MASSIVE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS toward Gate 5 and 6. I honestly can’t remember if I actually feared for my life at the time or not, but the possibility of getting absolutely trampled to death was a real thing. As I was flying down these stairs, if I’d had a loose shoelace, or god forbid, dropped my non-perishable food item on these stairs, it would have been curtains! As it were, we maintained our 30 feet advantage, and got into the Skydome with relative ease strangely enough, but when I tell you that we were the last 2 people who got in, I’m not exaggerating by very much. I do remember the security guards closing the doors not far behind us, and most of the zombies were left wanting. We were in, and it was totally sweet. What was to come was truly one of the highlights of my life.

We were really lucky to even find two seats together. We had a pretty awkward view of the (then, state of the art) Jumbotron, but it didn’t matter. We could see the game, and the atmosphere was electric. I had almost forgotten until now, but that clinching game was 11 innings, so we were there for hours. In between innings someone would always run out onto the field and try to outrun the security guards. Abhorrent behaviour at a real baseball game, but at the viewing of a baseball game on television, I was pretty happy to have the between inning entertainment. Lots of people took rolls of toilet paper from the bathrooms and launched streamers. I cringe for those that had to drop a deuce at the stadium that night. It was bad behaviour all around I suppose, but they were serving beer to a bunch of people who at the end of the day were watching a big TV.

The Toronto Blue Jays won their first World Series that night. Chris and I, along with everyone in the 100 level charged out onto the field after the game to celebrate. Security didn’t seem to mind, so they must have been expecting it. It was the first and maybe the only time (other than the following year when the Jays won again) that I’ve seen people so euphoric that they were high fiving and hugging complete strangers. It was like you knew every single person in there, and were happy to see them. Real hugs too. People that I had never met hugged me like I was a long-lost relative they hadn’t seen in years. There we were, partying it up on the same field where our heroes made their living, and where a year later they would be celebrating again (this time on home turf). It was a strange privilege that a few thousand people got to experience just for being in the right place at the right time. The party spilled out onto the streets of Toronto, and while a year later I was in Toronto for that incredible street party, Chris and I decided to head home. The train ride was full of ecstatic Blue Jay fans. I even walked home from the train station even though it was about an hour’s walk. Cars driving down a major street in Mississauga were beeping their horns at me, and we were all screaming together at the top of our lungs well into the night.

It was absolutely one of the greatest thrills of my life, and everybody should get to experience it the way I did. I hope sometime soon they will.

That Time I Was An Actor In a Kick-Ass Movie

Recently I got the opportunity of a lifetime. Have you ever dreamed about being an actor? Then done sweet shit all to make that dream come true? Then still dreamed because that’s what you do, thinking maybe some crazy movie director will just ‘discover’ you, and put you in their film? Yeah, that kind of happened to me, and this is that story…….

OK, I did embellish a bit. The movie director probably wouldn’t appreciate being called ‘crazy’, although he probably wouldn’t mind either. He didn’t really discover me, as we’ve been friends for years, and it’s probably playing it up a bit to suggest I’ve always dreamed of being an actor, but who hasn’t just a bit? It would be cool, right?

There’s a lot of back story stuff in a previous blog which outlines my desire to be a paid entourage member of this particular movie director and his cinematographer (although I don’t think they get as rich). Here is the link to that blog….

Assuming you’re all caught up, the story begins like this…. I’m having drinks with my buddy (Director Trevor Juras who is going to be famous soon, I’m sure of it), and we’re talking about some of his short films (because that’s all he’d done up to that point). I had noticed that he’d used a couple of mutual friends for small roles in one of his shorts, and even though they weren’t actors, they had done a good job with their roles. I was probably beating around the bush a bit, and hinting that I would make myself available for such a gig if after all, he would use the odd amateur actor going forward. He got a bit of a grin on his face like he’d been expecting me to say something like that for a while, and said ‘You wanna do some acting?’ Of course man… who wouldn’t? ‘I’ll definitely keep you in mind’ he said. The way it’s written that kind of sounds like a blow-off, but I believed him, and never brought it up again.

Some time passed, and we were hanging out again. Trevor was getting ready to do his first full length feature film called “The Interior”. He said he had something for me. It was one scene, but had a good chunk of dialogue. The movie was described to me as a Horror Film, but my scene would be in the mix with the early character development stuff, which is actually pretty funny if you ask me. The scene is a lot of fun which contrasts the rest of the film which is significantly darker. The dialogue was written with me in mind, and when I got a chance to read it, I knew none of it was going to be too much of a stretch for me. I knew this character pretty well. So I was very excited.

They went to British Columbia to shoot most of the movie in a forested area of a beautiful (or scary) island. I don’t want to give too much away, but the main character is in self-imposed isolation out in the woods when freakiness ensues. The first 20 minutes of the film, including my part were shot in and around Toronto. My scene was the last to be filmed, so everybody involved was pretty jacked, but also really tired. My character ‘Roland’ basically gives the main character an interview for his ‘rock-bottom’ job. It was a really fun scene to shoot, mainly because everyone thought it was hilarious. I don’t know what it’s like shooting non-comedy scenes, but the mood has to be a little different. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was very focused and professional, but considering what their schedule had been like that weekend which included multiple shoots in several locations around the city, I thought they were in great spirits when we were working.

I was a little nervous at first. It was my first and only time acting in front of a camera. I’d met a few of the people before. The cinematographer Othello Ubalde is a great friend of mine, and I’ve met his team members before. The director is obviously my buddy, and one of the other actors they used in that scene is another one of Trevor’s friends who I’ve met several times. It was just the star of the film Patrick McFadden, and producer Peter Kuplowsky who I was meeting for the first time. I knew my lines pretty well, but they were far from totally memorized. Things had been hectic at work leading up to the shoot, and on my day off that I was going to devote to rehearsing, I ended up in the hospital with my mom who was having some health issues at the time. I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, but because my character was giving a job interview, it made sense that there would be a sheet to read questions off of. That sheet saved me. I had way more on that sheet than those questions. Patrick and I rehearsed a few times while they were setting up the shot, and to be honest, it made me feel a lot more confident to do those dress rehearsals a few times, and by the first take I felt like I was giving them good stuff right away. The most notable thing about acting in a movie scene that you wouldn’t otherwise know, is just how many people are in the room with you. My scene seems to be in an office with 3 people. There were 5 other people in that room, with lights and cameras and giant microphones. I didn’t consider how difficult it would be to pretend they weren’t there, even though they were set up about 2 feet away from Patrick who I was supposed to be making eye contact with. It takes a lot of focus. That was the #1 thing I learned that day. Can you imagine what a big budget Hollywood set must be like?

After the shooting comes the editing, and a thousand other processes that I was fortunate to not be a part of. Poor Trevor probably got a text from me at least twice a week asking when it will be done, and when can I see it, and all that impatient childish nonsense. I can’t lie to you people. I’ve been excited about this all year. This is a feature-length film, and I acted in it. This is a definitive stroke off the bucket list. Everything else is gravy. I’m very excited for my friends who poured their blood, sweat and tears into this project. That alone would make me excited, but I can’t overstate enough, how stoked I am that I’m acting in it. That is fun shit people! FUN SHIT!! So where do we go from here?

Festival Time! So with Trevor’s first short film garnering some attention, and getting into a few Film Festivals, we’re obviously hoping for the same thing for ‘The Interior’, and we are in luck! ‘The Interior’ premiered at The Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal on July 27th of this year. At that point, I hadn’t even seen the movie. Montreal is too close to Toronto to pass that up, so my wife and son took a little trip with me out to Montreal, which ironically we were thinking of doing anyways for my wife’s birthday. Her birthday was the week before, so we slid the trip over to make sure we were there for the premiere. This trip no longer was happening on my wife’s birthday, and I just want to officially nominate her for wife-of-the-year award in front of the blogging world, for allowing me to make her birthday about me somehow.

Going to the premiere was so much fun. Trevor, Peter, Othello, and Patrick were there, as well as Jake who acted in some of the B.C. stuff. We showed up at the movie theatre, and there was reserved seating for the cast and crew. Like the amateur that I am, I secretly was getting a kick out of that while trying to look like I wasn’t getting a kick out of that. I didn’t even have to pay for my seat. It was getting better all the time. On an interesting side-note, Kevin Bacon was to be at this festival the following night for his movie ‘Cop Car’ which they were taking around. So if I’m ever playing the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, I’m going with this story.

Watching the movie was the best part of all. I’d intentionally not watched it up to that point. Not that I had access to it, but I’d seen a few clips at Trevor’s place at an early editing phase, and probably could have begged to see more. I thought it would be fun to watch it on the big screen with fresh eyes, and while I knew the story a bit, I had no idea how it ended. My part came up pretty early, and by the time I saw myself onscreen, I had almost forgotten that I was in the movie. I think that’s a great testament to how much I enjoyed the film. I was really into it, and then boom, there I was on the screen. My part was over not long after it had started, and I was able to focus and enjoy the rest of the film.

After the film we all went up on stage for a short Q&A session, and then headed off to a pub that was sponsoring the event, so even though it was a Monday night in Montreal, this place was busy until 3 am. It was fun to see the guys from the film get their props from the various people that had attended. I was even approached by a couple of strangers to be congratulated, the most notable of which happened out on the street when I was alone, and stumbling back to my hotel room. Wow, I got recognized on the street as an actor for probably the only time in my life. Even though that person had obviously been at the screening…… don’t ruin it for me, it happened. Never can I recall 6 hours of work translating into so much for me. It was too much fun.

Man, the film’s good. I’m so proud of my guys. The movie is visually stunning. Particularly the stuff they did in the forest. It’s both the most beautiful place you’ve seen, and somehow the most terrifying all at the same time. There’s nothing conventional about the story or how it plays out, which is refreshing to me. It’s pretty dark, but doesn’t have the cheesy horror clichés, and keeps just enough of its sense of humour along the way. It treats the viewer as an intelligent being, and doesn’t tell you what to think or feel. There’s no Hollywood gift wrapping at the end either.

I hope you’ll seek out ‘The Interior’, and try to watch it at some point. It will be difficult to do that in the short-term, unless it comes to a movie festival in your town. It’s set to play the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival on October 3rd, and there are whispers of potentially additional festivals coming up as well, although that’s all that’s official at the time I’m writing this. That said, at some point it will become available to the general public, and when it does, please check it out.

For more info and social media handles, visit

Oh, and here’s a link to the trailer. I made it in somehow. I’m the guy that looks like he’s saying something very emphatically.

Thanks Dial!

I bought me a bottle of Dial brand shower gel. What an investment! Why Dial? It was on sale, and whatever shower gel is on sale when I go to the drug store has a leg up in being purchased. So much so that I buy 4 or 5 shower gels ahead of needing them just to get that sale price, but this isn’t about me being frugal or fiscally responsible, or anything like that. No. It’s about Dial. Dial has probably been sitting in a cupboard for a few months waiting for its chance, and it has arrived. So I reach into said cupboard, and pull out a very impressive looking bottle with a solution so blue I could only describe it as perfect. What’s on this impressive looking label I wonder? It says ‘sub zero’ and has a picture of a freezy kind of raindrop, but then in bigger, bolder letters it says ‘FRESH REACTION’. If you know me, you know I’m all about fresh reactions. In fact, I’ll bet I stood there in the store and looked at the different scents, and instead of smelling them, I judged them on the perfection of their colour, combined with the wow factor of their mission statements, and I don’t remember what the other ones said, but I can picture myself holding up this shower gel and thinking ‘hell yeah I want to cause some FRESH REACTIONs’, and then wasted no time in cashing out my purchases for the day.

Wanna know what else it says? ‘Micro-Infused Scent Technology’. What is that? Sounds impressive! The explanation below states ‘Specifically formulated to energize your senses and leave you feeling refreshed’. Cool! I’m buying this! Then it says ‘Non-Drying Formula’. What the hell is that forward thinking awesomeness??? Below it explains ‘Engineered with the right balance of moisturizers’. That’s fantastic. I don’t like to moisturize, and this will do it for me. Not only that, but it won’t OVER moisturize which I hate…. it is engineered with the right balance!! This is going to be the best $3 I ever spent. Then there are 2 more bullet points, but I realize they are just French versions of the first two. Slight downer, but I’m still pretty excited to get this thing home.

So today, just now in fact, I grab the bottle because it’s next in the queue, and I notice there are USAGE INSTRUCTIONS!! Oh, I better read these. Don’t want to fuck it up. This is just the best.
1. Squeeze out (of course, right?? I mean you would need to apply the gel, and you can’t do that if it’s in the bottle)
2. Lather up (ie you cannot just gel yourself up and become a ball of slime, that just won’t do. This unique product actually becomes soap sudsy if you move it around)
3. Rinse off (key final step, because how often do we forget, and just go to work with shower get STILL covering our bodies)

I think I do sarcasm well, but in case I don’t (or in case you’re in one of those countries that doesn’t understand that), I’m totally fucking kidding. In fact I find the audacity of Dial thinking I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to take a shower, upsetting and offensive. Honestly Dial, how desperate are you to find content for the front of your bottle, that you would actually try to instruct us how to use soap? Did your legal team make you do this? Were there too many instances of shower gel misuse? Was the customer service department flooded with calls from consumers who couldn’t navigate their way through using shower gel? It reminds me of those Disaronno commercials where that idiot bartender teaches you to make a Disaronno and Coke….’First you add the Disoronno……….’ I can figure out how to make a 2 ingredient drink asshole!!!!

But then, I’m of two minds about it. Maybe I should be thanking Dial. It is the responsible thing, right? I mean other than the super disgruntled like myself, who would really get offended by something like this? I know what you’re thinking…..just take a shower, man. You’re right. I’m just being difficult. I have a 2-year-old. Maybe he’d appreciate prominently displayed instructions. He’s never used shower gel before. People need reminders sometimes. We forget basic shit like the super obvious rules of the road, common courtesy, how to hold a knife, blah blah blah. I think it’s just time for me to clear my mind, and clean my body. Dial, I forgive you for being aggressively obvious, because you did give me some packaging thrills before that. I suppose if this Micro-Infused Scent Technology works the way you say it does, then you’re alright in my book.

WTF Toronto??? The Pan-Am/Kanye Edition

There is a petition in Toronto trying to stop Kanye West from performing at the closing ceremonies at the Pan-Am Games. Yes, the same city that voted in and tolerated Rob Ford for 4 years, can’t tolerate Kanye West for one night. Ughhhh, there is so much incredibly wrong with this, that it hurts my head, and I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s start with some background since my readers who don’t live in Toronto make up approximately half my audience according to WordPress statistics. The other half should already know the story…… The Pan-Am Games are currently being held in Toronto. Never heard of them? I wasn’t too familiar with them either. It sounds mean, but they are basically the red-headed step-child’ of the Olympics. Toronto very badly wanted to host the Summer Olympics, but were beat out by Beijing a few years ago, and we’re just not wintery enough for the Winter Olympics which are better off in other Canadian cities such as Calgary and Vancouver who have hosted in the past. So we got the Pan-Am Games. Cool! Why not, right? I think it’s good for the city, great for the athletes, and shitty for traffic, but not everybody can be a winner. Now you might have sensed that I’m not 100% into the Pan-Am Games as an institution, and the only reason for that is that it’s not the Olympics. In the Olympics, the top athletes in the world compete against each other, making it a must-see spectacle. The Pan-Am Games are a step or two down from that, and while some of the best athletes in the world are here, a lot of them aren’t. It even takes a backseat to the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in some sports. Plus it’s just North and South America participating. That said, it’s still pretty cool I think. I mean every thing sucks if you compare it to the best thing in the world, right? It’s still a good event worth having.

The sports that I follow are a little disappointing in terms of athlete turn out. I’m a big baseball fan, but it’s baseball season, so the best players have to go to their day-jobs, and we get to watch a mixed bag of minor-league players play for a medal. I’m a big basketball fan. It’s the off-season, so we should be able to have dream teams from each country here, right? No. Pan-Am is not a priority for the basketball community. I only barely recognize 3 or 4 names on the American team who probably have 500 players better than any of the ones we’ll see here. They’re treating it like a game of pickup ball on the driveway. Tennis is a sport I’ve watched a lot of. The three Canadian Men’s tennis players we sent are ranked 308, 459 and 540 in the world. Great opportunity for those guys, don’t get me wrong, but there are about 10-15 professional tournaments held each week all over the world that can draw higher ranked players than that. Pan Am is probably better for gymnastics, swimming, track and field and other sports like that, but I wouldn’t know if the top athletes in those sports are here or not. I don’t want to sound spoiled. It is still a really cool thing, but if people outside of Toronto have no idea this is going on, I wouldn’t be that surprised either.

Now Kanye West….. It was announced yesterday that Kanye West was slated to perform at the closing ceremonies. Cool, right? He’s a global superstar (and sorry to be the one to say it, but as I touched on earlier, I don’t know how many of the athletes here are global superstars, at least in the sports I follow), so we should be happy, right? No. Apparently this is so distressing to Torontonians, that there’s a petition to remove him, and the number of signatures keeps changing, but as I type it was up to 22,000. The news of his performance was only confirmed yesterday. This is mind-boggling to me. That we care so much about this. At a time historically, when inclusion and acceptance seems to be at an all time high, and all eyes are back on Toronto for the first time since the Rob Ford scandal, THIS is what we want to make news about??? We’re so bent out of shape that an artist we don’t like is performing at the closing ceremonies, that we’ll all sign a petition to prevent it? This saddens me somehow, but I think to gain further perspective, we have to do the dirty deed of finding out why people don’t like Kanye West.

1. He’s not Canadian. This is not the real reason, but it was mentioned on the petition, so let’s delve. In an article, they suggested Drake, Walk Of The Earth (I honestly have never heard of this band until today), Feist and Deadmau5 among others. First of all, let’s give the organizers some credit. It probably wasn’t that easy to find someone as prominent as Kanye. Maybe some of these people weren’t available either. Also, Pitbull is not Canadian, but I’ve heard nothing about us wanting him to not perform, so let’s stop pretending it’s about that. It looks to me like they are getting artists from some of the different Pan-Am countries, and I see nothing wrong with that. Why does it have to be an all Canadian affair? So it can be a snooze fest like New Years Eve at Nathan Phillips Square every year? I don’t think that’s what’s bugging people.

2. Canadians like polite people. Kanye isn’t that. He’s as arrogant as they come. If you aren’t really into his music, then it’s easy to dislike him for his shenanigans. It’s all very calculated if you ask me. He’s extremely self-aware. Just for a second I’ll compare him to Muhammed Ali. Most won’t like this comparison, because in hind sight, we only like to remember Ali as being the most entertaining boxer of all time (some say the greatest), and for what he contributed to the Civil Rights movement. Kanye so far doesn’t seem to have the same redeeming features. Ali was the master of selling a fight though, and he went to some pretty crazy extremes to keep people talking and interested. If it seemed to make sense to Ali that he would need to behave like a complete asshole leading up to a fight, he had no problem doing that. He could be super arrogant too, and at the time, not everybody liked it, but they also may not have understood what he was doing which was generating excitement. He was definitely ahead of his time. I’m not sure Kanye will ever be looked back on with the same forgiveness and adoration despite his misdoings, but make no mistake, Kanye IS DOING ALL OF THIS ON PURPOSE, and it’s working. You hate it because you know it’s true.

3. As much as most of his other antics are forgivable, people get really mad when he cuts of an acceptance speech at award shows. I’m with the general public on this. It’s just too much. I choose to ignore it, but some can’t. I will say this though. Beck was not hurt by that in any way, and I would argue that some people unfamiliar with his music probably gave him a listen after that. Oh and Taylor Swift??? Yeah, things worked out OK for her.

4. His music. I’m not buying this argument either. I know a lot about Hip Hop music, and I also know a lot about other forms of music. The people that question Kanye’s talent and artistry are simply people who do not know Hip Hop music. I know he’s an easy guy to hate, and there’s a lot of crap you can bring up, but as Hip Hop artists go, he’s just about as good as they get. He’s a phenomenal producer, and a compelling rapper. Self made as well. He got into the game as a producer making other people look good before his own career took off. The general public attacks this guy way more than the manufactured American Idol pop music that everybody seems OK with. It’s wrong. Say what you want about him being a douche, but if you can’t look yourself in the mirror and say that you are a knowledgable Hip Hop fan, than you shouldn’t judge him because he doesn’t play a guitar or whatever. People need to talk about what they know about. Listen, I’m not a huge fan of Rush even though I’m Canadian. I’m just not that into Progressive Rock, but I would never bad mouth them, or question their talent, or dismissively say ‘they suck’, because I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. Rush is awesome, they’re just not for me. Kanye is awesome, he just might not be for you.

5. He married Kim Kardashian. So you take the prime ego-maniac of our generation, and marry him with the queen of reality television. That bothers people. Why? I know almost nothing about the Kardashians. I hear a lot of people say ‘That show is so annoying’. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen it. If you’re tired of celebrity gossip, then maybe you need to stop watching and reading celebrity gossip. It’s a choice. If you know too much about Kimye, it’s because you’ve chosen to. You are the problem. When I think of Kanye West, I try to think of him as an artist only. I could care less if he punches paparazzi or not. I know very little about his wife. That’s also no reason to not let a guy into your city.

So now we understand why Torontonians seem to dislike Kanye, and I’m OK with all of these reasons, but where you get off trying to tell organizers who shouldn’t play at events in this city? This is going to sound bad, but 95% of Torontonians wouldn’t give a shit about the Pan-Am Games if they weren’t here at this exact moment. Will you watch again in 4 years in some other city? Nope. While it’s great that you passionately support amateur athletics for a couple of weeks every 4 years, you really only do it so that you can feel good about your country when they win a medal. When these games aren’t on, it’s business as usual for 95% of you unless you have a relative or friend who is an amateur athlete with dreams of competing in something like this. You’re just enjoying the good times in your city while they last, because someone else went and did all the hard work to organize something great, and all you have to do is sit there and enjoy it. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even go see an event, but what a privilege it is for you to be able to, and after all those people went through all that trouble, you’re going to sit there on your couch and criticize their choice about who’s going to entertain you at the big party they’re throwing for you? Get off your high horse people!!! You’re embarrassing yourself and your city!

Billy Ocean Confessional

I got an iTunes GC recently. I’m a music junkie. This is absolutely the best thing to get me always. My nephew knows this and he’s not even 2 years old yet. He slipped it into my Father’s Day card. So I did a bit of iTunes surfing to see if there was anything I wanted. There’s always something I want, but I have to prioritize my wants, because I can’t buy everything at once. Unless there’s some new album that just came out that I’ve been dying to pick up, then it’s anybody’s guess what I might download. I decided my first item should be a Billy Ocean greatest hits album. This decision provides more questions than answers. I told my wife, and she said “You’re so weird.”

Of all the things life can throw your way, what could have possibly transpired in my life that lead me to purchase a Billy Ocean album?

If I could get the money back that I spent on music, I’d have a serious head start on retirement. Music brings me joy, so its money well spent. I wondered about the Billy Ocean decision. It’s been on my mind for a while. Is it time? Could I get away with just ‘Caribbean Queen’ and maybe one or two others, without picking up the whole album? The album was only $10. 4 songs cost more than $5, so I might as well go all in. Plus I didn’t know he had a ‘Long and Winding Road’ cover from the Beatles, and I wondered if it was good.

Would people think I was ‘weird’ for having this? Like if it came up on random play in the car and there were other people in the car, would I skip it, and just secretly enjoy it when nobody was around? I decided while dancing in the kitchen with my earphones on that ‘who gives a shit what people think about Billy Ocean, or about me for that matter?’ Getting older sucks, but as my ‘I don’t give a shit’ factor increases exponentially, I start to think that it has its benefits.

Is it that ever since I was 10 years old I’ve secretly always wanted to have the suave confidence to tell a woman to ‘get out of my dreams and into my car’? Who wouldn’t want to pull a line like that? Do people still even use pick up lines? I haven’t heard any in a while. Maybe this is something lost on the newer generation. I think it’s been unfairly categorized as sleazy. I would argue that if I care enough about you to be that creative, then it’s a thoughtful gesture. Right? Oh well, it was the 80’s, and if it doesn’t fly now, it must have then.

Billy Ocean was way cooler than Lionel Ritchie if you ask me. I would be way more embarrassed to have a Lionel Ritchie greatest hits album (who am I kidding? I have that too….. I have everything).

I’m 40 now. I used to listen to Public Enemy and N.W.A. I still do like that stuff, but old friends might be surprised to know just how much Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Steve Winwood and Bee Gees I listen to these days. I used to think that stuff sucked. Now I quite enjoy it, not to the exclusion of underground Hip Hop or anything, I just like it ALL. Billy Ocean too. It is not the most embarrassing thing in my collection. You know what?? It’s not embarrassing at all. What’s embarrassing is that I just swallowed a fish oil pill sideways and had to go in and ask my wife if I’m going to be OK. I’m finishing this blog despite my throat injury, because ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’

I think I just had to talk myself through it here. It’s not high school. Nobody cares what kind of music I listen to. I only think that people care, but the older we get, the more people are just happy to listen to whatever bullshit happens to be on the radio. That’s sad to me, but you know what??? “There’ll be sad songs to make you cry….. love songs often do….they can touch the heart of someone new…..saying I love you…..” Haha. I forced that in. Sue me.

Please Don’t “Say Cheese”

People love taking their pictures. Since digital cameras and more recently, high quality phone cameras, it’s been happening a lot more. What’s interesting to me is that the pictures themselves have been de-valued since it’s no longer such a hassle to get them. Take a shitty photo? No problem. Take 17 more until you get it right. Even the most stubborn purist would have to admit that digital photography has made things way more convenient. A lot of times you can close your eyes and tell how old the ‘photographer’ is by the level of investment they have in setting up the shot, and the people in it. With younger people it’s snap snap snap snap snap. The older people remember having a roll of film with 24 photos on it, and the cost and time of having that film developed, and the harrowing disappointment of that family photo NOT turning out, and that memory lost FOREVER!!!! You could almost expect 4 or 5 of those pictures to not ‘turn out’, but if it was more than that, you would definitely feel like you wasted your money developing that film. That’s why whenever you took a picture of more than one person, you would always ask them to say ‘cheese’ right before you took the photo, to ensure everyone had their best smile, and just maybe that would be one for the photo album. (The what?? say younger people).

I didn’t know what ‘cheese’ meant, I have to admit. I never thought much about it, I just did what I was told. Probably from the time I could talk. My two-year old son says cheese when I ask him to. I’m sure he doesn’t know why either, but he doesn’t question it, he just does it. Same with me, I just did it. Only recently did I actually get in front of a mirror and say cheese to see what would happen. Yup, sure enough, it made my face contort into a ‘smile like’ position. Whoever first thought of that was a genius. Especially in those times where it really mattered that all look good during a photo.

Here was the problem for me. I have 2 smiles. A genuine smile, and a ‘cheese’ smile. I don’t smile just for the sake of it. I wish I did. I know there are people like that, and they’re my favourite people in the world. They smile because they’re happy, or it’s just their go-to face for various situations. My go-to face is not a happy face. It’s not because I’m not happy, or because I feel like I have something different to prove. Trust me, I’d love to be a smiley guy. I have dimples. When asked to say ‘cheese’ ahead of a photograph, I typically give a fake smile. The world might not know the difference, but my mom knows, and so do I. I tried not smiling, or ‘smiling with my eyes’ for pictures, and that sometimes works, but most people look their best with a smile on their face, and I would say I’m no different.

How do you make me smile?

You have to make me laugh. Easy, right?

I’m a funny guy. I know you’re not supposed to say stuff like that about yourself, but I’m 40. I’ve been told by other people very regularly for many years. I’m funny, get over it. Not just funny, but when I’m on, I’m really funny. It’s a schtick I’ve worked on since childhood. It’s how I tried to fit in. Sometimes the dimples weren’t enough. I worked on it for so many years, that I don’t have to try anymore. I instinctively almost always know what the funny thing is to say in just about every situation. Ironically at my age, the best thing I can do is not say it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Wait a minute, if I’m such a funny guy, I should be smiling all the time, right? That’s where it gets tricky. I’ve heard (or said) it all before with very few exceptions. I need something fresh and unique, or to be taken by surprise. A lot of times, the things that make me laugh hysterically are said by people who didn’t necessarily mean to be funny. It just happens that way. It would be a lot to ask of someone snapping a picture to have some witty banter just for me, because I’m the guy in the picture who won’t say cheese. It would also be a lot to ask for 75% of the population to have a sweet clue on how to operate a camera before getting a bunch of people together for a photo opportunity, and having us hold the pose for 30 seconds (aka 5 eternities) while they figured out if the flash was on or not, so………….

I’ve come up with a solution. It works for me every time, and if you don’t find it completely disgusting, you’re welcome to use it.

I’ve spent years brainstorming with friends, a list of words that could be quickly said in exchange for a genuine smile. The rule is that it’s got to be 2 words, said quickly as one. The first word is the name of an animal. Stick to something cute enough that it could be a stuffed animal. The second word is typically slang for genitalia. This is partially for shock value. Picture people posing for a picture, and then shout


That was the first one we ever thought of. We realized that if the first word was 2 syllables, and the second word was one that it had greater impact. Plus we’re Canadian, so the most enduring one, and less offensive than the first (just in case grandma is in the picture), is


It never fails. Even when they’re expecting it, they still laugh. Or maybe it’s just my particular group of friends that have a weakness for that. I can’t say for sure if it’s in fact ‘universally appealing’ or not. I encourage you to make up your own. Try to stick to the syllable rules though. Even though ELEPHANT-BALLS is hilarious to me, it doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely. The animal can’t be too fierce either. TIGER-NUTS doesn’t tickle the same way say PANDA-NUTS would. Also, respect your elders. Someone in their 80’s probably prefers Dick over Cock, unless it’s BUNNY-COCK which is so deliciously absurd that I’m sure it gets a pass from the silver-haired crowd. Wait until you’ve used all the obvious ones before you get into BUTTERFLY-SCROTUM, and remember that it’s too many syllables to use for an actual photo.

If it didn’t gross you out, I hope this helps with your group photos going forward. Feel free to leave me your own creations in my comment section.

Thursday Dance of Madness

I entered a short story contest.
I lost.
Even though this is presented as fiction, every detail is true to the best of my memory.
Without further ado.

Total goofiness is greater than the sum of its parts. If the following events had happened on four different days, this story might not even be worth telling. Foolishness was in the air on this autumn Thursday. There was no escaping it.

I was a college student, and the first week of school was 60% in the bag. I had use of my mom’s car on this day, which was a refreshing reprieve from the convoluted public transit arrangement that I was normally subject to. This would allow me the time to actually make myself a proper breakfast. I had recently learned how to make bacon and eggs, and did so whenever I felt like I had some extra time in the morning. College was still very fresh and new for all first year students. Not only were we trying to make sense of our schedules, buying the right textbooks, and locating our classrooms in the myriad of buildings on campus, but there was also a sense of youthful optimism and general excitement surrounding the prospect of sharing space with the vast number of attractive females. It was to be a good time in our lives, and this was just the beginning. Was it these factors that affected our behaviour on this day?
Thursday was different from the rest of the days from a scheduling perspective in that it featured a common lunch break for everybody in the entire school. Honestly, I never liked this arrangement because from noon to 1 p.m., all students and faculty had one hour to purchase food if they hadn’t packed a lunch, and find a place to sit and eat, which was hard enough the rest of the week. It would take 45 minutes just to get food sometimes. Leaving class for this common break, I remember walking through the hallway of the ‘business building’, which was absolutely bumper to bumper with people trying to make their way to either the cafeteria or the student pub. The signage for the different rooms hung from the ceiling on small chains. While we moved slowly through this hallway, there was a student who was clearly filled with that annoying cocktail of testosterone, confidence and bad judgement, and was slapping these signs as he walked past, causing them to dangerously flap back and forth. I quietly judged his behaviour as I moved past. After all, this wasn’t high school anymore, right? Suddenly there was a snap and a yell, followed by a smattering of applause. This idiot actually knocked one of the signs down, and the chain managed to hit him in the face on the way. Perfect! In almost all other life scenarios, some innocent bystander gets hit with the sign, but on this day, justice was served. As the crowd swept me even further away, I noticed that he was getting lectured from a faculty member. What an idiot! I couldn’t wait to find my friends and tell them.

The one benefit to the common lunch break was that I was able to meet with friends that were in another program, who normally didn’t have a break at the same time. We had arranged to meet in the student pub. Looking back, I’m not sure that it’s such a great idea to have a pub inside of a college or university, which serves alcohol to students in the middle of the day. We were of legal drinking age, and surrounded by people with dumb ideas. My only saving grace was that I simply couldn’t afford to drink that much, so my days of sitting around in the pub, and getting smashed were a lot fewer than they could have been. When else could one possibly say that a lack of funds came in handy? Remembering I had my mom’s car, I stayed sober over this lunch break, and returned to the business building for a math class in the afternoon.

In math class, our teacher was using the overhead projector, which is always a great way to put me to sleep. The thing keeping me awake was a student on the other side of the class who JUST WOULDN’T SHUT UP. I’m no angel, but I don’t like to interrupt people when they’re talking, especially when they’re talking in front of a room full of people. I felt badly for the teacher, who kept requesting silence from the class, and wasn’t even singling this obnoxious guy out. I had spotted this disruptive student in the pub an hour earlier, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that he had consumed a fair bit of alcohol during the lunch break. Finally, the disruptions had proven too much. The teacher confronted the student and asked him to leave. The following reaction surprised me a little, because this loudmouth didn’t seem to want to be there or learn math, but when asked to leave, he refused. The teacher paused, considered, and decided to let him stay under the condition that he would be quiet. They agreed, and the lesson continued. Not a minute later, the student began chatting again, and the teacher immediately called security. The student shot up out of his seat and started screaming at the teacher. I do mean screaming! This profanity was unprecedented in the history of student/teacher interactions I had witnessed. Suggestions of what to do with certain body parts, F-bombs, derogatory references to family members….. It went on and on until security arrived. What made this outburst particularly riveting was the amount of anger this guy expressed in reaction to being told to be quiet. It seemed unprovoked otherwise. This was just our second class, so the guy couldn’t have hated the teacher yet. Maybe it was due to a liquid lunch, but how drunk could he have possibly gotten in the two hours that the pub was serving alcohol before this class began? Finally, security arrived, and this guy got in some parting shots before being whisked out of the door. We all looked at each other to see if anyone else was completely freaked out by this outburst. The teacher shrugged and got back into his lesson, trying to downplay the ambush. I was personally feeling a mix of appalled and stoked. Was the college experience going to continue to be this interesting?

After that class, my day was done, and I met up with a friend who I had offered to drive home. I couldn’t wait to tell him about my misadventures today, or rather the misadventures of others that I just happened to witness at close proximity. I finished telling my story as we approached the off-ramp of the highway. Just as we got to the stop light to make a right, a song that I loved came on the radio, and I turned the speakers up so I could do a little car dancing. Well into my rhythmic head-bobbing, shoulder-grooving, and whatever else, I looked to the left to see an attractive girl in the car beside us smiling. I was so embarrassed. I turned my head forward, and stilled. My face felt all shades of red. Was I the third idiot of the day? Isn’t there a rule about things happening in threes? I tried to explain to my buddy that she was ‘laughing with me’, but he assured me that she was ‘laughing at me’. I moved forward as traffic in front of me started to make their right hand turns. Shortly after I moved ahead of the girl who had witnessed my ‘Thursday Dance of Madness’, I heard a screech and a crash. Oh no! I looked back. It was the girl. She had been watching me, and when she saw that I started moving forward, she too took her foot off the break and crashed into the car in front of her. Her lane was going straight and the light was still red. Could it be? A pretty girl was so focused on checking me out that she crashed her car??? It was only a small fender bender to be sure, but I felt bad. Not bad enough that my buddy and I didn’t start giggling when we figured out what happened. I wanted to go back, but the off-ramp prevented that. I couldn’t just stop my car from where I was. Besides, what was I going to say? Should I have apologized for distracting her? That would have been presumptuous and wouldn’t have helped her cause any. She was in a stopped position before she got into the collision, so she wouldn’t have been hurt. I hope.

I dropped off my friend and headed home. What a crazy day. I couldn’t ever recall such random acts of goofiness all happening at once. I had a huge smile on my face as I got home, thinking about how this college life was going to provide endless days of entertainment. As I entered, I noticed that the house felt really warm. I went into the living room to have a look at the thermostat. Had my sister turned it way up again? The temperature displayed confirmed that it was really warm inside, but the settings didn’t look like they had been tampered with. It had been pretty sunny all day, but enough to make it this hot? I headed to the kitchen to get a snack, and when I turned the corner, I glimpsed a shock of orange to my left. The electric element for the stove was turned on high since this morning, by me. My heart jumped. I calmly walked over and turned off the element, and removed the (warm) towel hanging from the oven door. Wow!
Did I not just spend the better part of my day witnessing 3 people make complete fools of themselves, and was happy about the way in which I was entertained? Meanwhile I was doing everything in my power to burn my parents’ house to the ground? It seems so. I cracked a couple of windows open, and hoped the breeze would come in before my family did. I managed to get the temperature of the house down a few degrees before anybody else arrived home. In order for me to continue to enjoy certain privileges in my parents’ household, it would be wise if this story went untold.


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