Category Archives: Stories

My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 2

The Time I Played Catch With Scott Rolen

One of my best friends Tim used to work for the Jays. He started on the Grounds Crew, and by the time he left the organization, he had been the Manager of Game Entertainment. That’s not to say that you should all go apply for Grounds Crew jobs in hopes of rocketing up the organization. He had the appropriate Sports Marketing background to make this happen. If you’re wondering what a person in that position might be responsible for, I don’t have his job description, but it included fun things such as who sings the national anthem, and what to show on the Jumbotron. The greatest part about Tim having this position for a while, was that he’s as big a baseball fan as I am. It wasn’t just a job, it was a dream job working for the team that you grew up watching. Way better than the job going to someone who didn’t give a shit.

Being close friends with Tim during this time occasionally provided me with a strange amount of access to certain things Blue Jay related. While I was able to enjoy some of this access periodically, I tried not to overstep my limits. Once in a while I was provided with interesting little insights that the average fan would have no idea about, and every so often I found myself in a situation that the average fan would never find themselves in. As a result, you are going to find that a good chunk of my Blue Jay stories wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Tim. Now, if he wanted to tell you HIS Blue Jay stories, I’m certain it would be worthy of a book. A great read for any true Jays fan. I’ve heard all of these stories, and re-told them periodically when he wasn’t around. Some of them are fascinating. Like ‘holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-that-happened’ fascinating. My stories fall into the ‘not-that-crazy-but-still-kinda-cool’ category.

I had always wanted to go to Spring Training. Tim went to Florida for 3 weeks every year. It was some of the most important work they would do all year. They would do interviews with all of the players, so they would have footage to use on the Jumbotron at the home games throughout the year. The 162 game schedule is so hectic, that it was really hard to get the players to do these interviews or promotional work during the season, so this was typically done in the pre-season. This seemed like a glamorous work trip to me, but I know it was really hard work. One year my wife and I decided to vacation in Orlando while Spring Training was on, and do a little side trip to that magical place called Dunedin, which I’d only ever heard about. The Spring Training games hadn’t started yet, but the practices had, and guess who got us into the practice facility?

That year Tim wasn’t actually working for the Blue Jays, but was working for a consulting firm that was hired to do his job, and they hired him to do it. Oh, the business world! The only reason I bring this up is because that firm also picked up the contract to do the Tampa Bay Rays game entertainment at the same time. So Tim, who was old hat at running the Blue Jays game entertainment was stationed in Tampa for most of that season, remotely running the Jays as well. That ended up being the season where the Rays went to the World Series (with current Jays David Price and Dioner Navarro), only to lose in 5 games to the Philadelphia Phillies. Tim got an American League Championship ring for his troubles.

When we arrived there, the players were taking some batting practice, but looked like they were just finishing up. Random things that I remember seeing included Jerry Howarth, who is the radio play-by-play voice of the Blue Jays was saying some hellos to the players and coaches. It appeared as if he had just arrived in Florida, and watching him walk around and catch up with people after not seeing them all winter, wasn’t unlike the first day of school, and seeing all your friends at the end of summer break. I remember watching John McDonald taking ground ball after ground ball, while everyone else was standing around like practice was pretty much over, but this guy was putting in all this extra work. He had a reputation for being a phenomenal defender, and just having a peak at his work ethic confirmed how he got there. Hall of Famer Frank Thomas walked past us on the way to the locker room with his bag of bats, and other equipment. He gave us a nice smile and polite wave, which I thought was cool considering we might have been the only people standing around that nobody knew. That was because Tim was really busy. He’d gotten our passes and let us come in and have a look around, but then he had to do a couple of things. My wife and I just walked around and watched the players take turns hitting. We could totally hear all of their conversations. It was pretty fascinating. After a while, Tim came out and got us, and brought us into this room.

His boss, and a cameraman they liked to use were in a room shooting promos with ball players. They would be loosely scheduled to come in after a practice, and spend maybe 30 minutes answering some questions on camera, and perhaps shooting something for one of their sponsors. Tim had to head out because most of his day’s work was to take place at the Rays practice facility, but he introduced us to his co-workers, and asked them to take care of us, and we would meet up later for dinner. So we sat in this room and waited for a few minutes. Tim’s co-workers chatted with us and explained what they did, and we waited for a ballplayer to show up. Every day they would do this, and for the most part the guys dreaded coming in for these interviews. After practicing for several hours, most of them wanted to take naps, or play golf, or who knows what. In walks Scott Rolen.

Scott Rolen was a former All-Star 3rd basemen, who’s best days were behind him, but he was still quite a good player. He was in a crusty mood, so it got real for us right away. Our job was to sit in the background like flies on the wall. The ball players didn’t know who we were. They must have assumed that we worked with them. We’d shake hands as introductions were made. Scott Rolen made it fairly clear that he didn’t want to be there, and he had a long drive back to where he was staying and all sorts of other piss and vinegar. Deb, who was running the shoot wasn’t really one to back down, and showed a little sass when she got her chance. I think Scott liked that, and kind of backed down a bit. It was interesting to see him changeover from spoiled ballplayer to reasonable family man as he sort of realized he hadn’t been too gracious when he walked in. He tried to explain his behaviour, and told us he hadn’t eaten yet, and he has young kids at home that he really wanted to go see, and knowing that there was work here to be done, he decided to ‘play ball’. His interview answers proved him to be a fairly humble guy who didn’t like talking about himself. He was sort of uncomfortable through the entire process. Once that was done, he had to do a couple of ‘action shots’. Like slowly swinging a bat, or making a throw. When they needed him to throw a baseball, they ran into a technical issue. Where was he going to throw this ball? He made the motion of throwing, and hung on to the ball, but it didn’t look good. He needed to actually let go of the ball for the shot to work. If he threw it at the wall, it would make a loud sound, and possibly ricochet off some expensive camera equipment. If someone had a glove, they could catch it, but the only person that had a glove was Scott Rolen. He offered his glove, but the shot would look ridiculous if he wasn’t wearing it. So I finally (meekly) asked Deb if she would like me to stand in front of the wall, and catch the ball? She asked if I would be able to do that without a glove. Scott also seemed concerned. I’d played some baseball growing up. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable talking about that in front of a Major League Baseball Player, but I assured them that if he didn’t whip it hard, that there’s a good chance I would be able to catch it. So after a couple of warm up tosses, we shot that sequence, and it went off perfectly. I didn’t drop the ball, which made me feel useful, and not so bad about basically showing up at someone’s workplace and watching them work. Soon enough, the segment was over, and Scott Rolen left the building a far nicer seeming man, then when he arrived.

“Alex Rios is coming, do you want to stay for another one?” I looked at my wife thinking, man its past lunchtime, and if I’m hungry (with a much bigger reservoir to store food), then she’s gotta be starving, but she probably was recognizing that we were in an extremely unique position at the moment, and said she’d like to stay. This was becoming the most interesting day of my Blue Jay fandom. Periodically people like Pat Hentgen would peek their heads in the door to see if there was time for them. There was a schedule, but a lot of guys just showed up when they felt like it, making for really long, or really short days depending on the shoot. When Alex Rios came in, there couldn’t have been a more stark contrast between personalities. Rios at the time was probably 24. He was a good-looking, happy-go-lucky, extremely talented baseball player who seemed perpetually happy, and was totally easy to deal with. A young female Jays staffer came in before we got started, and wanted to catch up with him about how his winter was. It was a flirty ordeal. I’m not sure what her job was, but she was clearly smitten. Some of us rolled our eyes a few times. Once it got going, it was interrupted again. Vernon Wells came in because he and Alex were supposed to do a quick promo shot together for one of the sponsors. Vernon would not shut up about his tee time, but otherwise was in good spirits. My main memory of their shoot together was that Alex was at least 5 inches taller, and they made Vernon stand on a box. They had fun with it, but you’d never know that if you weren’t there. Once Vernon was gone, Alex had to get into his interview portion. He struggled with it a bit. He is Puerto Rican, and I think he felt a little insecure about his accent. He messed up the line “My name is Alex Rios” so many times it got kind of awkward. Then to make light of it, and maybe to get his frustrations out a bit, he lit us up with “I am ALEX MUTHERFUCKIN RIOS!!!!!!!!!!” We died. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but seemed like a super nice guy. Several years later, my wife and I are always quick with an Alex Rios impression. The joke is totally lost on anyone who wasn’t there.

As much fun as we were having, we had to leave finally. We were so hungry. It was almost 3 and we hadn’t eaten lunch. The story should end here, but I have one more thing to add, which isn’t about the Jays as much as it’s about me being a loser. We went to a restaurant called Carrabba’s which I now know to be a chain, but it was the first one I’d ever seen. I’m reading the menu, and see a dish called the Chicken Bryan which is like a chicken breast with a lemon butter wine sauce topped with goat cheese. Being Canadian, and having learned some French, I try to pronounce things properly when possible. I don’t speak Spanish, but I can pronounce the dishes in a Mexican restaurant. This was an upscale-ish Italian restaurant, so when I ordered it, I took a shot that it was pronounced Bree-yun, and I said that to the waitress, she gave me the blankest of stares, proceeded to take a few open mouthed chews of her gum (like only a waitress in a diner should be allowed to do), and said in a perfect Florida accent, “Yah mean Chicken Bryan??? (pronounced Brian)”. I was like “Yeah…. that”.


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 https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2013/10/14/the-night-my-father-died/ 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…. https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2013/09/30/ridin-coattails/

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 http://www.theinteriorfilm.com

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.


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.


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.


Bloggiversary #3

So WordPress informed me that ‘Thoughts and Rants In Jogging Pants’ is 3 years old. It went from baby to toddler. Now ideally it is fully toilet trained, because there’s always lots of shit coming. I thought I should write a post about what I’ve learned in the last 3 years of blogging.

So what have I learned in the last 3 years of blogging?

Very little.

Let’s move on. Here’s a piece that I think I’ll call “Get It Together, People!”

So I saw this lady the other day walking past, and I couldn’t help but notice she had her button down shirt buttoned incorrectly. Do you know what I mean by that? She was off by a button so there was an extra button on top, and an extra hole on the bottom. Hey…. I’ve had days like that too. I don’t even need to mention how many times I’ve started doing up my shirt, and finished only to realize…. yeah, I did it wrong. The difference between her and I, and not to pat myself on the back, but in my example, I noticed that I did it wrong, and then I fix it before I go out. This lady didn’t fix it, and in all likelihood, still unaware that it was off. Am I being hard on her? Maybe. It’s just that you get 2 opportunities to figure it out. If you start buttoning from the bottom, you should see that it’s not lined up properly, but if you don’t, that’s okay, because when you get to the top, you get a second opportunity to notice that you screwed it up and make the appropriate changes! You might even do a little thing called looking in the mirror just as a third measure. Now bleeding hearts, before you start defending her, I know there are people in society that have a tough time with these things for whatever reason. She just didn’t seem to fall into that category. She seemed well put together and adjusted otherwise. Is she having a tough time that day? Maybe. Should I cut her some slack? Perhaps, but society is spiralling out of control, and there’s not a lot that the average person can do to fix it. You know what we can fix though? Our shirts.

Get it together.

On another note, I was stuck behind a driver yesterday that didn’t turn left at the amber light until well after he should have, leaving me to wait for another set of lights to go by at a busy intersection. I wasn’t in that much of a hurry. Who cares, right? The reason it happened is because this guy was flailing his arms about, trying to get his point across to the person he was on the phone with. Did he have bluetooth technology? Yeah, he did. So it’s legal, right? I’m not sooo against people talking on the phone while they drive. As long as they’re good at it. If you can talk to someone that’s in the car with you while you drive, then you should be able to talk to someone on a hands free set while you drive, IF you’re good at it. Some people just aren’t good at it. Some people cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Me? I had a job where I had to drive a truck through the city, and I would talk on the phone, AND eat lunch while driving as long as I was on a straight stretch of road with not a lot of cars around. There are times when you have to focus on the road, and shouldn’t be on the phone, and if you have to talk with your hands and picture the person you’re talking to in your mind in order to have a phone conversation, then PULL OVER!!!!

Get it together before you get us all killed.

If you’ve read the last 2 paragraphs and thought ‘hey man…. you seem kinda uptight’. I would just remind you that I’ve been blogging for 3 years. You can’t have a blog with ‘rant’ in the name, and not sound a bit crabby from time to time. 3 years is a long time to be ranting about stuff. I’m tired.

NOW, on a more positive note, here are a few things that are in the hopper, and might be coming down the pipe……

– I’m taking an online novel-writing course. It’s an accountability thing. I think by the end of the course, I’m supposed to have written a novel. I know I already told you I would write a book, and then gave you a couple of chapters, and then stopped because I hated it, so consider the source, but I plan to write a novel this year.

– I acted in a movie. I’ll probably let you know a little more as it becomes closer to being available for public consumption. All I will say at this point is that I’m in one scene, but my character is fairly significant in that scene. It’s an Independent Film that will be submitted to some festivals later this year. Cross your fingers that it gets into one or two. Even though I’m not an actor, I have big plans to segue this little opportunity into becoming the most in-demand leading man in all of Hollywood. By big plans I mean I really hope someone comes and asks me to do it again. There’s actually a far better chance that I will finish the aforementioned novel.

– My travel blog http://www.paymevegas.com has stalled. Not because I don’t love going to Vegas and then talking about it after, but I haven’t been in a while, and some of my recent plans and schemes to get back out there have not come to fruition as of yet. You can be sure that at some point I will fire up a few more posts there too, but……

– I think I want to do a music blog. I love music even more than I love ranting and Las Vegas put together. Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s not time. We shall see.

– As far as Thoughts and Rants in Jogging Pants goes. Yeah, I’ll keep doing it. Sorry I can’t do it every week like I used to. I think becoming a father has really emptied out the old noggin. As I spend a significant amount of my brain space remembering all of the names of the different engines on Thomas and his Friends, I find myself less able to connect with the real world. I always hated the thought of that, but to be honest, when I’m sitting with my son watching the same movie we’ve watched 7,036 times, almost nothing makes me happier.

🙂