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My Father’s Eulogy (2012)

Happy Belated Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there…..

A few days ago my wife was cleaning up in our office and she found some folded up papers that were my notes for my dad’s eulogy speech.  I would’ve never thrown this speech out, but I didn’t exactly put it anywhere safe or memorable either.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see it re-surface, and have a chance to read it to myself for probably the first time since I was in a church saying the words out loud.  I had to do a Eulogy for my mother-in-law a couple of years later, and had the good sense to make it a blog post at the time (so the location of the paper version became less relevant).  Interesting fact….. It is the most viewed blog post I have ever written.  Even though this blog has kind of dried up in recent years, almost not a day goes by when someone doesn’t read that post.  I couldn’t understand the phenomenon, so I decided to google ‘mother-in-law eulogy’, and it’s on the first page of results.  I guess in laws don’t usually prepare the eulogies??  Anyways, my father’s eulogy never made it into blog form, so if you weren’t at the funeral, you never heard it (until now!!!).  He died in 2012, 3 days before my son was born, so I was a little busy, as you might imagine (and trust me, you don’t want to imagine).  It’ll be nice to post this and take care of this unfinished business.

Without further delay, here’s my portion of my father’s eulogy (my sister spoke before me….. I told her ‘you set em up, I’ll knock em down’ 😉 )

 

I’d like to thank everybody for coming in such great numbers and showing your support.  I’m overwhelmed, but not surprised.  As most of you know, my wife gave birth to our son, Ken’s first grandchild on Friday evening.  They’re unable to be here, as they are recovering at home.  My wife wanted to pass on a few sentiments.  Even though her absence is understandable, it’s quite devastating for her to not be here as she loved my father very much, but she also wanted to than everyone for their support during the major life events that have taken place here.

When talking to people that have come out this past week, the one main theme that keeps coming up is that it’s such a shame that he didn’t get to see his grandson…..  It’s okay to feel bad about that, but my father was the type of person that would have preferred a happy celebration of his life today.  He was a happy, positive man that would always look at the bright side, and there is plenty of bright side.  So rather than focus on what he didn’t get a chance to do, here’s what he did get a chance to do…….

  • He got a chance to grow up in beautiful Muskoka, where the air is cleaner, the people are friendly, and now people pay top dollar to vacation there.
  • He got a chance to play hockey, and was a good goaltender.  His childhood teams in Bracebridge won the Ontario championships on two separate occasions.  Coming from a small town, that was a big deal.  When he went to school at Ryerson, his team went undefeated for an entire season and won the championship, then he ‘tried’ soccer, and that team won the championship in the same season, and he won Ryerson’s Athlete of the Year award that year.  He is a 2-time Ryerson Sports Hall of Fame inductee, both as an individual, and as part of that undefeated hockey team.  Last I heard, his picture is still in a glass case at the Bracebridge arena.  Many people I spoke to yesterday that have known him for years said ‘I didn’t know Ken played hockey’, but he was modest… or like his coach said to me yesterday “He showed, but didn’t tell”.  To put his hockey achievements into perspective for non-sports fans, most of the things I listed off had ’50th anniversary’ celebrations.  You don’t celebrate something 50 years later if it wasn’t a big deal.
  • He got a chance to marry the girl of his dreams and spent 47 years with her.  They had 2 children who turned out alright.
  • He got to travel a lot, and has been on many great trips to many great countries, and has friends all over the world.
  • He got the chance to golf, which was his only real vice or indulgence.  He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, and didn’t spend money on himself, but he golfed.  The powers that be blessed him with an ability to hit the ball 300 yards almost into his 70s.  They didn’t necessarily give him the ability to keep it on the fairway, but that always gave him the chance to go into the bush and pull out half a dozen new balls to replace the one he lost.  If you were on the course having a slow round, there’s a good chance he was out there in front of you  (Just adding this, but he didn’t even need those balls because everyone people kept giving them to him for Christmas…..  he literally brought them home, washed them off and put them in my golf bag *sniff*)
  • He got the chance to be good to people.  He volunteered his time.  He used to help raise money for Unicef.  Lately it’s been the church.  He worked as a greeter, helped with the banking, and drove some elderly people around to appointments.
  • If you were his friend, family member, casual acquaintance, or someone he just met randomly at the store, he was fascinated by you.  He loved hearing about you, and it wasn’t an act.  He was like that all day every day.  He had a magical ability to make whoever he was talking to feel like the most important person in the world at that exact moment.  You could be talking about a blade of grass, and he would hang on your every word.  Imagine that was your father?
  • He was loyal to everything and everyone he valued.
  • He was meticulous too.  Every job he did had to be done right.  Even if he was serving us dessert.  If he had to divide up a pie or cake, there was high level mathematics going on in his brain to make sure everyone received an equal portion.  God forbid someone ask for a smaller piece.
  • His Hellos and Goodbyes were legendary.  If you came to the house, he was like a friendly dog, only he smelled better, but he couldn’t wait for you to get in the house, and when you left, he stood on the porch and talked to you until you almost had to cut him off.  Then as you drove off, (Summer and Winter) he stayed out there and waved at you until your car was no longer in his sight lines.  Every time! (Just adding this….. the last time I saw him was like this.  My wife and I were leaving his house, and she must have been pregnant as hell, and I unlocked the door for her, but I didn’t actually go around and open it.  He was mortified because he’s such a gentleman…..  I was like ‘technology man….’  he didn’t like that, but we had a laugh.  Then he waited until we were out of sight before he went inside.  I never saw him again.)
  • I can’t begin to describe what kind of son, husband, father he was, but based on what I’ve said, I’m sure you can put the pieces together.  We’ve had a great life together.

My final thought is……  If there were such a thing as human cloning, and it wasn’t REALLY frown upon (this was funny because I was saying it in a church), I think he’d make an excellent prototype.

I would love to live in a world full of Ken Austins!

Thank you!

 

 


Acknowledging My White Privilege

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

 

I’ve wanted to write this for days but didn’t know what to write or how to write it.  Still don’t, but I guess I’ll work it out as I go.  I’ve done more listening than talking over the last couple of weeks.  Ever since George Floyd’s death, there’s been an uprising.  It’s overdue I think, but sometimes it takes something so shocking to really get it going.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know what’s happening, and I’m not here to report the news.  I’d be terrible at it anyways.  I haven’t said much up to this point, on social media or otherwise.  I feel like more listening and less talking has been a good way to approach it.  Racism has always kind of sickened me.  I have a lot of friends and family that are people of colour.  I personally enjoy that kind of diversity, and I’m lucky to live in a place that has a lot of it.  All of that said, how much do I know about it and how often do I have to think about it?  The honest answer is not much and not often.  That is a small part of what’s known as white privilege.

I’ve been trying to learn a bit more about systemic racism, and read a few articles and opinions.  I never really thought that I was being part of the problem, but if I was I’d probably be the last person to know it.  Even still, I don’t think I’ve been part of the solution either.  When I read the quote at the top of the blog, it kind of impressed upon me that I need to say something.  Just hanging back and keeping quiet isn’t making me an ally right now.  I do have a blog!  It has seen better days, more prolific entry habits, and readership for that matter.  Still here though.  While I don’t have lofty expectations for this post, I think I can get something important off my chest, and contribute in some pedestrian way to the ongoing conversation.

The thing I saw in every good piece of media I encountered on this, is that it would be a thoughtful first step to acknowledge my white privilege.  I had a vague idea of what this meant, but didn’t fully understand it’s importance.  I’ve always understood that I was less likely to get pulled over by the police, or less likely to be discriminated against in some other way.  Digging a little deeper though, there are a lot of luxuries that we are afforded, that we take for granted, and most of us are blissfully unaware that it should be an issue for people of colour.  From schools teaching our history, seeing predominately white faces on TV and in the movies, not being excluded from anything based on skin colour.  There are probably thousands of little examples, but if they don’t come up in your life, you may find it difficult to notice it.  It’s not super obvious like someone coming up to your door and giving you a bag of money because you’re white, but more that absence of certain bad things happening on account of you being white.  So you wouldn’t notice it.  Not noticing it is part of the privilege.  Not having to act on it is also part of the privilege.  One I can totally relate to.  I haven’t marched at rallies, I haven’t really called out racist behaviour, and up until today, I don’t think I’ve ever said anything in my blog about racism.  I’ve basically sat comfortably on the sidelines, and that’s part of my privilege as a white person  (not proud of it, but just being honest).  I can delete this post right now, and go watch TV, and nobody will think less of me.  It’s not my fight, unless I choose to make it my fight, but I do have that choice.  People of colour don’t have that choice.  The fight comes to them whether they want it or not.  They could use our help.

White privilege doesn’t seem to be as much about taking personal responsibility for a system that’s been in place for hundreds of years, or feeling guilty about your ancestors that may have been involved (I don’t think)….. It’s more about acknowledging that the system is there, and should be fixed.  It’s about admitting there’s a problem.  Does it solve anything?  I don’t know, but almost any problem you can have in life can’t be fixed until you take that first step of admitting the problem exists.  What if we all did it?  What if we were all just more aware?  It can’t hurt.  Let’s learn from all of this.

So today, I take the very small step of acknowledging my white privilege.  I hope that maybe someone else after reading this, might do the same.  Don’t know if you have to do it in a blog, or on social media or in the presence of someone who might appreciate it, or just say it to yourself in the mirror.  It’s the smallest of gestures in a way, but I think it’s meaningful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Construction Ducks

Is a story about two love birds, who returning north from wintering in some favorable climate, find each other and begin their courtship.  No online dating required.  Just good old Duck Talk pick up lines.  I mean they were probably flying when they met, what could you possibly say up there?

M – You’re hot

F – You look like you fly good

M – Wanna make babies?

F – You had me at ‘you’re hot’

Animal instincts take over, and they become a couple (actually animal instincts didn’t take over, they were probably running this scenario from jump).  It must have been so romantic they way they gazed into each other’s eyes the whole time, and completely overshot Lake Ontario.  Or perhaps they were looking for something a little more secluded.  Or perhaps he told her he had a private lake.  Probably that.  First body of water he sees that doesn’t look like it’s spoken for becomes the private lake.

F – Cool lake.  What’s with all the bulldozers?

M – Don’t worry about that baby.

So they made sweet love on their private lake, and began to build a nest.  Not a lot of options for nest locations.  This lake is a 5 or 6 day heat wave from not even being a lake anymore, it’s so small.  That doesn’t bother them at all.  They frolic around their little construction site lake, which is soon to suffer a fate, only foreman or contractor could predict.  They don’t need it that long.  How long does it take to make Duck Babies and teach them to fly?  Can’t be that long!

Almost every day I go to visit them.  Not only am I totally obsessed with their unique story, but I’ve been quarantining, and this is what qualifies as ‘getting out’ these days.  I haven’t seen them in a while.  I don’t know if the site didn’t work out, maybe too much construction noise.  Maybe they found a better spot.  Maybe they go out and grab dinner at around that time, because it’s usually 5pm, and everyone knows that Ducks eat dinner at around 5.  Maybe shit just didn’t work out between them.  After all, based on what I’ve said about them (and that’s all we have to go on), their relationship was kind of superficial.  My Duck friends will be in my thoughts literally every time I walk past their home.  I hope whatever has happened, it was for the best, and I wish my Duck friends well.  We’re not really friends though, I just visit them sometimes, and I like to quack at them, but they don’t really quack back, but it’s cool.

 

“Oh to be young, and to feel love’s keen sting!” – Professor Dumbledore

 


Don’t Give Up Just Yet

I’m writing this during the COVID-19 crisis, but I want you to know that I would be writing this no matter what was happening in the world.  If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know this.  These are really tough times though, so I’m going to aim for 20% less judgy to suit the occasion, plus maybe end with some inspiration as the title as probably lead you to believe, and I don’t want to let you down.

I’m at home with my wife and son, and once a day, usually after 4pm, we leave our condo building to go for a quick walk outside.  Taking all necessary precautions mind you…. the precautions themselves rival the actual walk itself.  I’ve found that my 7 year old son’s neck-warmer/scarf, which are loose on him, wrap around my head perfectly and make a nice tight impromptu mask.  My favorite is the Pokemon one.  I look super gangster when I go out, but possibly fun too.  We take the stairs to avoid elevators, and we sanitize our hands as soon as we’re out of the building.  We see a few people out there, but not a ton, and everybody gives each other space because they know the drill by now.  It’s great.  I need it after a day of home schooling, and cooking (like I always cooked, but we used to go to restaurants a lot… I’ve never cooked this much), and baking (I bake now…. surprise…..only loafs so far, or is it loaves?  Spellcheck seems OK with either……I called my son a loaf this morning…… it was awesome, because I actually had a loaf within arms reach, and I grabbed it to give him the comparison.  Are we still within the parenthesis here?  Damn).

So, upon returning from our short journey, which had been made shorter by my son who notified us that he had to take a shit, I saw something that obviously prompted me to do a bit of writing tonight.  There was a lady near the door we wanted to go in, smoking a cigarette, basically prompting us to go around and use the other door.  Not because of the cigarette, but the 6 feet of distancing thing, so that was fine.  The thing was, this lady was fully wearing a pair of pyjamas, and a robe overtop.  Let me remind you that it was probably close to 5pm.  So…… I have a few issues with this… where do I start exactly?  I could just say ‘Put some damn clothes on’ and end the blog like that, but I want to drill down a bit if I may.

Let’s start with where I live.  You could say it’s in the city, but you could also say it’s outside of the city.  Depends on your perspective.  Let’s just call it a no pyjama zone.  If you go far enough out into the boonies, pyjamas seems to be an acceptable grocery shopping uniform, I’ve seen it (and been dismayed by it).  If you go deep enough into the city, you are bound to see some pyjama’d folks that are either homeless, or in close proximity to a mental health facility.  So they get free passes from me, that’s part of being in the city.  My building though?  Not that I’m one for a lot of rules, but couldn’t you throw on some track pants and a t-shirt before you came downstairs?  Let me answer that for you!  Yes you could!  I know because I’ve done it, and it’s not as complicated as you might think.  In fact, I’ve never failed to do it.  I always got a pair of pants on before going out in public.  You’re welcome world!

Now speaking of my building….. I almost forgot to mention that all units in my building have balconies.  Yes, there is a designated place for firing up lung darts while in pyjamas, free from the scrutiny of rotten judgemental bloggers such as myself.  (Side note – Spell check is trying so hard to get me to spell pyjamas differently.  Looked it up and it seems Americans use an ‘a’ instead of ‘y’.  They’re in charge of spell check, but I feel like the ‘y’ makes it a cooler word, so I’m sticking with it this time.  Sorry Americans, but I had your back earlier when I took the ‘u’ out of favourite).

So we are going through some challenging times with COVID-19, and I’m trying to decide if I give this lady a pass (as if it were up to me).  It’s quite possible that this lady is going through some shit, and has zero fucks left to give at this exact moment.  Like for example, if I found out she was a nurse or something, and she worked a 16 hour shift, and came downstairs for a smoke because she got better reception on her phone or something, I’d be like ‘as you were ma’am.’  What I really think happened though, is that some people that can’t leave their homes, are just PJ’d up 24/7.  Totally plausible, and I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with that.  I’ve drifted into the afternoon before getting my clothes on a few times since this thing started.  Just never drifted outside without clothes, because I just think there have to be limits.

I think going outside in pyjamas is like waving a white flag.  ‘I give up world!  I don’t care enough about myself, or you to step my legs through a pair of leggings or shorts or something!’  I don’t like this.  Call me old fashioned, but you’ve heard the term ‘Dress for the job you want, not the one you have’.  Does it apply here?  I dunno.  I’m not saying we should be binge watching Netflix in dress pants or anything.  This staying inside business has a uniform of only the most comfy gear.  The thing is, we will come out of this one day.  It will be time to face the world again some day.  Time to interact with humans face to face some day.  See family and friends again.  I just don’t want to see the world give up.  The road will be tough, but……..We are strong.  We are better than this.  We can conquer this….. and when we do……when we are standing on the mountain top, and planting our flag……we will be doing so…… with proper fucking clothes on.  That’s all I’m saying

🙂

 

 


My Personal Quarantine Handbook

We all gotta get through this.  I can’t say that any of this would work for you.  All I know is that it works for me.  Hard to retro-actively go back in time and prepare for this moment.  Some of these measures have been years in the making, and I can’t take a lot of credit for it either.  It’s just plain dumb luck that I happen to be totally ready for social isolation.  Here is my personal quarantine handbook to fight boredom.

(Disclaimer….  I’m trying to have a laugh during a shitty time, but if you are reading this and are somehow on the front lines of this Corona Virus thing, and don’t have the good fortune of being able to safely distance yourself and wait this out, none of this is probably funny.  That is not lost on me, and I hope you are all safe and well xo).

    1. Have a kid – This will take up all of your time.  Obviously, not everyone can or would even want to do this, and even if me giving you the idea right now was the one thing that put you over the top, there’s not enough time to turn it around.  If you have one or several already, than you know… keeping them busy or home schooled, or sane, or yourself sane, or fed, or exercised, or whatever takes up all of your time.  Depending on their age I suppose.
    2. Have a house – I don’t have one of these…. I live in (near) the city, and the condo life IS FOR ME!!!!  No more mowing the lawn.  No roof repairs.  No painting the fences etc.  Oh how I love when there’s a snowstorm and I just stand by the window with my coffee and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.  However….. Man, it sure would be nice to have a backyard right now.  Or a basement or something.  How many people have touched these elevator buttons???  I’m doomed!
    3. Don’t read books, but acquire them as if you do – Oh man…. I’ve never read so much in my entire life.  Never been a fan before now.  Never really wanted to spend time reading about other people’s adventures when I feel I should be out having my own, but….. I gotta say…… given the right book….. and the right environment….. and really no competing priorities….. Reading Doesn’t Suck as much as you might think it would.  I have dozens of books I haven’t read yet.  Don’t know if I’ll get through them, but assuming my new fascination with reading isn’t just some short term fling, maybe I will.
    4. Be a slob – I really feel for organized neat freaks right now.  You’re self isolating, so what?  You gonna organize your stuff?  How long did that take you?  Half a day?  I have enough shit lying around, needing to be sorted out to last me well into next year.  Between all the reading, home-schooling and cooking?  I still feel like I don’t have time to do it.  That said, it’s nice to have options.  Especially if the reading thing doesn’t take.
    5. Acquire Toilet Paper – Just kidding.  What an idiotic thing to prioritize.  Although….. I guess running out of that would be shitty 😉  I’ve thought about this a lot, (I mean, I always thought it would be zombies) and you need to stalk up on canned Tuna.  Canned Tuna lasts like 2 years.  It’s ready to eat out of the can.  I mean it could take some mayo and onions, but if you had to throw it in your back pack beside the baseball bat, and take a defensive position at high altitude.  If it ever got to that point, would you really care about toilet paper?  Possibly yes, so throw a roll or two of that into the backpack before you break camp for good.  Fuckin zombies!
    6. Stash cool food items in random places – Every so often when life starts to seem a bit mundane, it’s pretty bonkers to be like “Oh shit!  I found those Honey Ginger & Lime Crunchy Roasted Soybean Snacks that you bought at the ‘One of a Kind Show’!!!”  Joy!
    7. Better make sure that music collection is on point – I mean you don’t have to have 27,566 songs on your Itunes (I’m bragging because I think I’m awesome… sorry Mom), but if you did, you could go 76.5 days without hearing the same song twice.  Or you could just listen to the same 150 songs that you like over and over and over again if that comforts you, but I would quietly judge you from afar (but that should be the least of your worries right now.  Do you.)
    8. Do something creative – I’m re-vitalizing an abandoned blog.  My son is crushing abandoned lego sets (by crushing I mean building efficiently).  My wife busted out this colouring book for adults.  It all feels like work while you’re doing it, but it feels nice after.  Especially if you did sweet shit all the rest of the day.  It’s like working for free, but somehow feels more fulfilling.
    9. Board Games – OK we haven’t done a ton of this yet, but….. They lie there in waiting.  I have a dream.  One that none of my family share, but I think I’ve always wanted to do this, but never have.  I want to play Monopoloy to the death (not really, I just liked how it sounded.)  What I mean is, I actually want to finish the game.  Not a timer, not ‘oh I ran out of money’….. I mean mortgage all properties and then declare bankruptcy in order to be eliminated.  Has anyone ever played Monopoly long enough to actually finish it?  Like really finish it?  It would be super time consuming, but time I’ve got.  I say this to my wife and son every couple of days, in a voice that says ‘I’m enthusiastic about this and I hope you are too.’  I’ve been getting some faraway glances, and typically the verbal responses have been a changing of subject.  For now I wait.
    10. Get some fresh air – I know we are not supposed to be within 6 feet of each other, so find a place to go for a walk.  We’ve been doing this successfully, and if I see a person coming, I’m like Keanu Reeves, dodging bullets in the Matrix.  People in my area have been great at crossing the road when they see someone else coming, or distancing themselves appropriately.  Living in the city sucks for this.  I’m lucky to not be right downtown.  Try to get some exercise though.  All this home cooking has to go somewhere.  I shit you not when I say I’ve been doing yoga.  Picture that, anyone that knows me!  When you see me next I will be flexible and nimble as a gymnast.  Very centered and reflective as well.

Namaste!


One Door Closes…. Another Opens

Gonna be home for a few days. Weeks even? Who knows? Corona Virus is a thing, and if you’re consuming this while it’s fresh, then you know more than you’d like to about social distancing. If you’re reading it years from now, congratulations, you survived. Here’s to hoping this is soon just a punchline to some shitty joke. In the meantime, what to do? Great time of year to watch Sports!! Hockey and Basketball playoffs coming soon, Baseball about to start up. What? They’re all cancelled? Oh man. Binge watching TV and movies I guess. What else? Good time to listen to music. I mean really listen. Like we used to. When we had those album covers we could read while the record was spinning. For me? Well I do have this blog. I’d argue that it’s at least 5 years past it’s prime, but hasn’t necessarily gone into retirement yet. Hey, if George Foreman could win the heavyweight title in his 40’s, I could surely get this thing chugging again. After all, my readers have nothing but time, and I have nothing but time. Surely my son, (who is soon to be bored out of his skull, if not already) would love to just give Daddy the kind of space he requires to do a bunch of writing every day….. NOT. Plus my wife needs the chair I’m sitting in to work from home. So there are obstacles, and my output over the coming weeks will be direct evidence of my resolve. So if this is the last you hear of me, don’t be surprised, but nevertheless, HERE WE GO!

What to write…. This blog in it’s prime was very ranty. I was younger I suppose. More full of piss and vinegar. I can feel myself mellowing. Not so entertaining. I could rant about social distancing. It would be so ‘of the moment’. To be honest though, I really feel like people were never quite designed to go through something like this. It will be very interesting to see how compliant the entire world will be simultaneously. I’m really not that angry with people right now. Again, if you’re reading this years from now, WE MADE IT!

Starved for something to write about, I thought about a prompt of some sorts that would ask me questions that I could just answer. Slight cop out, but should get me through my first session. I stumbled across another WordPress blog that had just such a list. I’ll attach the link as a shout out. It’s from 9 years ago, so who knows if she still writes or whatever, but I didn’t do too much research on the other, because I had to start typing. https://efcarletti.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/50-good-questions-to-ask-yourself-and-others/

I did not compare these questions with others on the net. I just committed to answering them. I have not even read them all. My answers will be below each question

50 good questions to ask yourself and others

1. What are your nicknames? What do you prefer to be called?

I’m a giver of nicknames. Not always a receiver of one.

2. What books on your shelf are begging to be read?

‘Acid For The Children’ – Flea ‘Muhammad Ali – Through The Eyes of the World’ – Various…..Currently reading ‘The Beastie Boys Book’…. I never read, but this week I’ve read a lot.

3. How often do you doodle? What do your doodles look like?

I don’t. I guess I mind doodle? It looks crazy

4. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep? Toss and Turn? Try to get up and do something productive?

I mind doodle lol

5. How many days could you last in solitary confinement? How would you do it?

Not sure. I feel like I could last a while. I think I would just develop other personalities and invisible friends and make the best of it.

6. Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away?

I save them, but never go through them. Maybe I will though.

7. Who is the biggest pack rat you know?

My mom. Sorry mom.

8. When making an entrance in to a party, do you make your presence known? Do you slip in and look for someone you know? Do you sneak in quietly and find a safe spot to roost?

Depends on the party and it depends on how I feel at the time. I’ve done all 3, but if it’s people I know well, I make my presence known, because that’s more fun.

9. What is your strongest sense? If you had to give one up, which would it be?

Humour lol. I guess that’s not the answer. I’d give up smell maybe?

10. How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror?

Couldn’t attach a number to it. Every time I pass one.

11. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

That my face would ‘stay like that’

12. What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?

I think I enjoy teasing people. I try not to be mean about it, or at least know ahead of time if the person can ‘handle’ it or not. I do it to my son. He hates it. I hated it when I was his age. I’d like to think that I’m preparing him to deal with it later in life when it’s not me that does it, which is possibly true. I think you need to learn to laugh at yourself. Once you can laugh at yourself, it takes the sting out of other people laughing at you. I think. Or maybe I’m causing mass psychological damage to everyone I know. Sorry.

13. Who performs the most random acts of kindness out of everyone you know?

Jade (speaking of people I love to tease). She is the queen of intentionally doing ridiculous things, and feeling zero shame about any of it. For a couple of years we worked together and she was my boss. If I made the mistake of offering to go on a Starbucks run, I would have to rhyme off 7 obnoxious details about her drink like the amount of sugar or whip cream, and it was never just the standard amount. I don’t think she goes a month without doing something that by most standards is completely bizarre, and posting it on social media for all her friends to either lol, or eye roll at. Every pic she takes of herself has a Jade face, where she looks like she’s getting shot out of a cannon. She was a fun boss and good friend. When my father passed away, she would cook food, and bring it to my mom’s house (I don’t know if my mom even knew who she was). When my wife had to go to the hospital for a day, she insisted on ordering us a dinner from Uber Eats even though we hadn’t hung out a lot during that time. I’ll never forget those gestures.

14. How often do you read the newspaper? Which paper? Which sections?

Wow. Like I said, these questions are from 9 years ago, so I’ll answer this one like it was 9 years ago. Every day. Toronto Star or Toronto Sun, Sports page, and whatever else I have time for.

15. Which animals scare you most? Why?

Rats are fucking nasty, I don’t know why.

16. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head-on?

Depends on the day. Instinct is to avoid, but my learned behaviour is to engage head-on, after a cooling off period preferably.

17. What was the most recent compliment you’ve received and savoured?

Somebody at work took me aside and thanked me for teaching them so much. That meant a lot.

18. What is something about yourself that you hope will change, but probably never will?

I always secretly admire people who can wake up in the morning, seem rested, and have a great breakfast routine, where they mentally prepare for the day. Oh and do yoga and or workout in the morning. When I wake up in the morning I push the snooze button 14 times, and fly through the condo like I’m escaping from a fire, and I’m at work with a coffee in my hand and a breakfast bar in my pocket to be consumed later, probably no more than 30 minutes after my head is still on my pillow

19. Are you a creature of habit? Explain.

Yeah. Maybe. No. I don’t know.

20. Are you high maintenance? Explain.

I would say no. However I offset that with being completely unreasonable over small details, so yes. (Just asked my wife. She spoke to me about it for 20 minutes, and says EVERYBODY thinks so.)

21. When was the last time you really pushed yourself to your physical limits?

Once or twice a week I play basketball against people that are usually 10-20 years younger than me. It takes me 2 days to recover. How much longer can I do this?  I guess as long as the back holds up.

22. Do you have a whole lot of acquaintances or just a few very close friends? Why?

I’ve usually just rolled with a few close incredibly long tenured friends.  Shout out to them.  Apparently I’m high maintenance 😉

23. Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others?

Both, but to build an empire, I need others to unleash the potential of me. I’m too lazy to do things alone. I need the right partnership to get shit done.

24. What’s a strange occurrence you’ve experienced but have never (or rarely) shared with anyone?

I saw an alien spaceship land and……….I have a blog. If I witnessed a strange occurrence, you would know by now.

25. What do you think about more than anything else?

5 way tie and it depends on the day. Family/Friends/Work/Sports/Music

Well…. That’s 25 out of 50 questions. As my high school teachers would confirm, that gets me a D and a pass. I’ve learned some very important things here today. Talking about myself is exhausting. I am HIGH maintenance according to my wife and possibly many others. Blogging starts out fun for the first 300 words, and then gets sucky and boring past 1000.

Anyways… for those that read to the bottom. Stay safe and wash your hands 🙂 For those that don’t read to the bottom, stay safe and wash your hands as well.


That Time I Had My Own Cooking Show

As part of my get rich incredibly slow or possibly never scheme, I’ve decided to go after some of that YouTube money. You know the kind. The kind that kids get from opening boxes of toys, while other kids watch on TV…. or teenagers playing video games while other teenagers watch on TV…… or other random content creators that find something so niche to say or do on the internet, that millions of people need to see. They make that advertising money. Some of these people don’t even have to work anymore. That’s the easy-way-out scenario that I’ve always craved and dreamed of. The same dream that perhaps made me start writing this blog once upon a time. Slowly getting out of the blog game though. People don’t want to read. I don’t even want to read. If you knew how little I read, you’d be amazed at the hypocrisy of me being a blogger. So what then???

A lot of people say ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. Ever since I turned 40, my new motto has been ‘Just because you shouldn’t, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t’. So with that in mind, I decided to start a cooking show. My collaborator is a chef. Another couple of buddies of mine do film stuff. Suddenly, this thing’s got legs and doesn’t seem so crazy. We call it ‘Cumin Beings’. It’s not like a lot of the cooking videos you see online these days, which are lots of recipes and food shots, but lacking in personality. I miss the old cooking shows where the host/chef would actually hang out with you and talk you through it. So much of what you see on TV now is the reality shows and the chef competitions. Those are fun too, but we were aiming for some edutainment. A little different, but still a little familiar.

So without going on and on about it, I’ve attached the link to episode one below. I hope you’ll watch it/dig it/share it. We’re already plotting to shoot a couple more in the near future. If you could help me get some of that YouTube money by spreading the word, I’d be grateful. Maybe won’t be able to quit the day job, but it would be cool to generate a budget to do more of these. I’ll let the universe decide. Enjoy! Recipes below the link.

Rub:

4 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp hot chili flake (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Sauce:

3 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2-3 tbsp rub (see above)
1 cup maple syrup (REAL whenever possible)
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a pot over low heat….stir frequently to combine flavours, 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool, then store it in the fridge.

Slaw:

1/2 medium head Savoy cabbage cut into fine strips
1/2 medium Spanish onion julienned
1 medium carrot peeled and julienned
1 medium Northern Spy or Russet apple sliced finely
1 tbsp rub
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well to combine. Allow to marinate half an hour before serving.


That Time I Wrote/Directed/Acted In A Short Film Part 2

Tonight I will premiere my baby (Short film entitled ‘To Do List’) online for the world to see. By world I of course mean an extraordinarily small percentage of the population of said planet, but whatevs!!! I’m putting this baby to bed (Finally!). Not that it hasn’t been a thrill ride for the ages. It totally has, and its exceeded every one of my expectations. As fun as this has been though, its time to move on. I wrote a blog about it a while back. If you want to start from the beginning of the story, click and have a read. If not, I’ll summarize below.

https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2017/11/20/that-time-i-wrote-directed-acted-in-a-short-film/#comment-4181

I made a short film with zero experience, zero money, and a lot of help from some talented people. The film didn’t suck (which I hate to say was basically my objective, like “Don’t suck!” was a theme throughout), and upon completion, made it’s rounds on the festival circuit. I loved re-reading the above blog because I wrote it just after I found out I got into my first festival. I remember thinking that just one festival, no matter how small or remote or niche, screening my film would have been the most incredible thing. It made it’s world premiere at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, which I was unable to attend. One of several that I didn’t go to for various reasons (most of which involved money or vacation time). It’s a strange feeling the night that your film is screening in some city in front of a crowd of people, and you aren’t there to see it. You might just be sitting on your couch drinking a glass of wine, and you look over at the clock and realize that there might be a room full of people in Portland watching you on a screen, and you are just sitting on a couch with no concept of whether they enjoyed it or not…..just drinking that wine. Alone. It’s a weird feeling.

A ‘not weird’ feeling is going to your first festival to sit in the audience and watch yourself on the big screen. That is Killer Kool-Aid, and I was able to do that in Boulder City, Nevada. On a separate blog site, I wrote this story about that experience, should you decide you want to go down that particular rabbit hole…….

Adventures At The Dam Short Film Festival In Boulder City

If you don’t, it’s cool. We won ‘Best Comedy’ there. It was the only award this film got to win, but considering I was expecting zero awards and would have been totally satisfied with just one screening, this was bananas. As obnoxious as it sounds, I now routinely tell people that I am an ‘Award Winning Director’ because I CAN. They say that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, but I sometimes do…… because I can.

After that I got into a few more. We got to see it with some friends in Cleveland at the Short.Sweet.Film Fest, and I finally got a local screening in Toronto, courtesy of Cityflix. Finished off in Canada with a fun little Muskoka Trip at the Cinemuskoka Film Fest, and now I’m done! I’m happy. I’m grateful. I’m excited to finally share this with everyone. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go make another!

I just want to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project. Talented actors, Jennifer O’Callaghan and Patrick McFadden. Cinematographer Othello Ubalde. Editor Trevor Juras. Justin Constantino and Victor Solla who helped shoot it. I’m glad we were able to make it happen, but it wouldn’t have happened without these people, their incredible talent, and generosity of spirit. I look forward to sending it out into the cold bizarre version of our world we call the Internet. Be gentle with my baby 😉

Here’s the link that will have activated by the time most of you read this.

Enjoy


That Time I Wrote/Directed/Acted In A Short Film

So this story could be a stand alone story or it could be considered a sequel to another story…. I made a short film. It’s the only one I’ve ever done, so I could just tell you about that, but there may be people who would wonder how you just do something like that with no background or experience. While my exposure to this world has been limited, I did act in a movie once, and if you’d like to hear that story first, you can read this link, therefore making this story a sequel.

https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2015/09/06/that-time-i-was-an-actor-in-a-kick-ass-movie/

For those that didn’t feel like reading all that, I’ll summarize in one sentence. 2 of my close buddies are aspiring filmmakers (Director – Trevor Juras and Cinematographer Othello J. Ubalde), and Trevor thought I’d make an interesting character in his first feature-length film “The Interior”, in which I appear in only one scene, but have considerable dialogue, I feel like I nailed it, the film was well received at festivals, got a distribution deal, and is now available at most online retailers which is not bad for your first Indie Film. (Hey, I didn’t say it would be a short sentence). It was a thrilling experience for me who never thought he’d have an opportunity to be an ‘actor’, but in an amazing turn of events I now have that great story to tell potential grandchildren while I’m on that rickety porch with rocking chair and a shotgun, chewing on toothpicks.

So what’s next? Well this all happened because of who I know. So I started to wonder what else could happen because of who I know. Careers are made from people leveraging who they know. What could I do? Some more acting? I’ve made myself available to the one director I know, yes, but what about writing? I write! I have a blog as proof. What if I wrote a script for a short film? If it was good enough, perhaps I could get Trevor to direct it, and Othello to shoot it. If I wrote myself into the script, then I could act in it. Seemed like the perfect plan. So I wrote a script called “To Do List”. I thought it was hilarious, so I passed it on to my guys one at a time. Othello liked it right away, and wants to work and get as much experience as possible since he didn’t start doing this until a few years ago. I think he was on board to shoot it. When I showed it to Trevor (hoping he would want to direct it), I didn’t get the response I was hoping for. Not to say that he wasn’t totally cool and supportive, but I think I was hoping he would be super blown away and want to direct it. He’s more interested in writing his own stuff though, and suggested that I should direct it. He even offered to help me. He even told me directing isn’t as difficult as I think which to this day I believe to be complete bullshit. Regardless, I was kind of discouraged, and “To Do List” got shelved for a time.

After “The Interior” had made its rounds in the Festival circuit, there didn’t seem to be too many projects on the go. Trevor started writing his next feature, but it was a lengthy process. Othello was trying to shoot as many things as he could while we all waited for Trevor to make another movie, and I just went back to my normal life, fairly content for a while until the creative bug started nibbling again. Othello had asked me a few times to join his crew to help them shoot some stuff they had been hired to do. I finally joined them on a short film set. It was a first time director, but he had invested some money, and taken a lot of time and preparation to get this project together. This was the second film set I had ever been on. Instead of being an actor, I was now working behind the scenes, helping set up cameras and lighting etc. It was only 2 days, but as this project was moving along, it became more obvious to me that this director was really green, and so I made a suggestion about something, and he went with it, and it worked out. So I made another suggestion, and another and another. I felt bad, because it wasn’t my job to be doing that, but he kept getting stuck, and nobody wanted to say anything to him. I would have kept my mouth shut, but he was open to everything I said, and even started looking over at me to see if I agreed with things he was doing. It was weird, as I was the least experienced person in the room in some ways, but the director was willing to be collaborative, and didn’t have an ego about it. I think he may have been in over his head slightly, but I respected the fact that he had gotten off his ass and pursued his dream of directing a film.

It got me thinking about whether or not what Trevor said about directing was bullshit or not. I dusted off “To Do List” and read it over. I still thought it was funny. I sent it to Othello again, and he still thought it was funny. I asked Othello if he would help me make this film and be willing to babysit me through the directing process. I felt like I would be pretty comfortable directing people to help my vision come to life, but on the technical side I knew (and still know) nothing about making a film. This is why Othello gets a Producer credit on this film.

We planned for a 2-day shoot. I had an editor lined up for afterwards, who was an old high school friend with some experience. Othello’s crew that had worked on all of the projects that I’ve mentioned here agreed to help out, and I needed 2 more actors. Jennifer O’Callaghan who is a friend of Othello’s plays the female lead, and Patrick McFadden who stars in “The Interior” agreed to a fun cameo in my film as well. We scouted locations, and settled on pretty much the only ones available. We rented whatever equipment Othello didn’t already own, went to San Remo’s bakery to get their incomparable Apple Fritters, and we were ready to shoot. Trevor even showed up for the first day to keep an eye on things. My character was on camera for most of that shoot, so it was nice to have someone to direct me, since directing and acting in the same project is REALLY difficult, particularly when you have no sweet clue what you’re doing.

I have great memories from shooting this. I also have some hilarious outtakes which made watching it after the fact just as much fun as shooting it. The interesting part about making a film and watching the footage a few times, is that there’s a possibility you’ll start to hate it. This definitely happened to me. It’s a comedy, so once you see the funny parts about 25 times, you start to forget that they’re funny. This is where editing comes in. I said I had a guy, right? The guy I went to high school with? I forgot to mention that he lives in Montreal. I also forgot to mention that this is a ‘Passion Project’ which is another way of saying I didn’t have money to pay anybody for this. Now I need an editor to clean up whatever directorial mistakes I’ve made, and make this a good film. This is where we got held up a bit. Crazy things were happening in my editor’s personal life at the time, and he does this kind of thing for a living, so in order to pay his bills, he had to prioritize paid work over passion projects which is absolutely reasonable. This started to drag out a bit. Just the logistics of getting him the hard drive involved me waiting for him to visit his family in Toronto so I could pass it off in person. It was starting to look like this would never get done. Then Trevor stepped up and offered to have a look at it for me. I was so relieved that we would get the ball rolling again. Sad that I didn’t get to work with my original guy, because we’ve been talking about working together ever since high school when we would be in writing and drama classes together, but I believe there will be other opportunities for us in the future. It took Trevor a little while to get around to it as well. Passion projects man….. You get what you pay for sometimes. If you can’t pay, you gotta be patient.

Trevor came through for me though. Just in time to submit my film to the Toronto International Film Festival which would have been my ultimate goal for this film. We didn’t get it in, so I had to re-adjust the goals. I started submitting to festivals that were either road trip distance, or had a theme that I thought this film might fit in with. I’ve been talking with Trevor and Othello about this, and I really would love just one festival to screen this film. It’s my first time. I have no directorial experience. I know there are thousands of films being submitted to these festivals right now, but I just feel like if I got shut out, that it would be really disappointing. JUST ONE FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After many kindly worded rejection emails, I finally received word that “To Do List” will make its World Premiere at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival on December 1st, 2017. I’m super excited. Tampa Bay is a little far for a road trip right now, but I’d been considering that heavily as the festival approaches. I hope it gets in to more, but if it doesn’t, I can honestly say the experience of doing this has exceeded my expectations, and I don’t know if I’ll do it again or not, but the story keeps getting better.

http://tbuff.org/selections2017/to-do-list.html


Elevator Chit-Chat

For those of us that get into an elevator frequently, there are decisions to be made daily that are perhaps a lot trickier than they look. What do you want your elevator game to be like? Do you want to be that sociable chatty person that acknowledges everyone, and perhaps engages in small talk? Would you rather stare at the door, (or if you’re lucky, some magical piece of information posted on a sheet inside that you can pretend to be really interested in) and be anti-social. Is one better than the other? What does your elevator game say about you as a person? I understand both sides.

My father was a supremely talented small-talker. He never missed an opportunity to engage in conversation with a complete stranger. He thrived on it, and I’m not playing favourites when I say I never saw anyone as good at it. The best part was that he gave no shits whether the person wanted to talk to him or not. It never entered his mind that someone wouldn’t want to talk to him, and he was absolutely charming enough to pull it off even with the toughest of crowds. You’d think the apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree. In a way it doesn’t. I totally CAN talk to strangers too, but when I get into an elevator I want nothing more than for it to be empty. If it’s not empty, I really enjoy walking into an elevator with people who are on their phones or not attempting to engage me in any way. If I can’t have either or those, I’ll take a head nod on the way in, awkward silence until we arrive at the floor, and a polite ‘have a good night’ on the way out. My last choice would be to have someone start chatting me up about something. Unless it’s them telling a quick (really entertaining) story, and me having to come up with a smile and a one-liner at the end, which I can tolerate.

I live on the 6th floor of a Condo building. I used to live on the 5th floor of a Condo building. Coincidence? No. When we picked the floors, I was thinking of two things. One, I’m afraid of heights, and if the shit really hit the fan, I’d like to know that I could tie some bed sheets together and shimmy down some balconies to safety. Two, I hate long elevator rides. Is it the length of the rides themselves that I hate? Or do I hate talking to people in the elevators? A little bit of both.

As a reader, you might be thinking, ‘hey, this guy has a blog, he has lots to say…. why doesn’t he want to talk?’. I do want to talk. Just not to strangers on an elevator. It’s OK though, I tolerate it. There’s one thing I can’t tolerate though (and if you were wondering what prompted me to write this blog, here we go), and that’s someone who starts a conversation in an elevator that they themselves are not interested in. What? Does that actually happen, and more importantly why would it happen? Yes it happens. I don’t know why. It mystifies me, but it does happen periodically, and I can only think that perhaps some people just feel like they SHOULD engage in chit-chat every time they’re in the elevator. Maybe they think it’s impolite not to, or it makes them better people. All of which is fine, but I had a guy the other day start chatting with me, and then when it was my turn to talk, COMPLETELY lost interest in the conversation. Buddy, first of all, I had NO interest in talking to you to begin with, and now here I am, scrambling to say something interesting about the weather, and you’re fading on me???? I live on the 6th floor!!!!!!! It wasn’t a long ride. Focus or fuck off!

To summarize, I think the world has all kinds of people in it. Different people have different elevator etiquette, and that’s OK. I don’t judge anyone, but all I ask is commit to it. You wanna avoid the social awkwardness of neighborly small talk? Me too. You wanna be a Chatty McChattster? Be true to yourself, and annoy all the introverts. BUT…….if you’re gonna try to chat, you better be ready to talk and listen. If I have to take my brain off auto-pilot to have a conversation with you, then finish what you started!