Wednesday, April 17, 2019

With a Lot of Help From My Friends: On Half-Past Eight PM (Part Two)

Are you ready for more self-mythologizing? Here's what happened next in the saga of Half-Past Eight PM...

A lot happened in the next school year after my success with Half-Past. My friend Ana, who had transferred to Catholic School for personal reasons, transferred back and asked me to write a movie script for her to direct, but was sadly never produced. Josh and I collaborated on a 30-minute film for CommTech where we played hired killers. And I appeared onstage for the first time outside the drama room in the cast of the Grade 12 production of The Importance of Being Earnest... as the main character's butler.

Over the course of that year I became closer with those drama kids I had been orbiting. Only my paralyzing shyness kept me from auditioning for that year's Sears Festival production of Twelve Angry Men, one of my bigger regrets in a high school career comprised mostly of regrettable moments. But I did become part of that group anyway, making friends without having to be a joiner, just as I always wanted. In the final months of high school it kind of finally felt like I belonged somewhere. My personality had taken three and a half years to bake, and I was very close to shedding the pervasive feeling that they didn't really actually like me. I just wished I had more time to enjoy it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Strange Form of Revenge: On Half-Past Eight PM (Part One)

As someone who is prone to nostalgia but optimistically suspects his best years still lie ahead I have a tricky relationship with successes of the past, even as moderate as they may be. While putting on a reasonably successful local theatre theater production is a pretty low bar for greatness it remains the thing I have done in life that was seen and enjoyed by the most people. So since this is the blog about me, please indulge the part of me that is a legend in my own mind. Here's a little reflection on the 15th - and 10th and 13th - anniversary of Half-Past Eight PM.

It began as revenge. A very specific, strange form of revenge. The kind where the people you're getting revenge on aren't even there to know it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Storytelling Layer: Thoughts on This New York Times Article About The Best 20 TV Dramas

Yesterday, the New York Times promoted a tweet from January into my timeline that, for whatever reason, prompted a thought:




I love TV.  It got me through some really rough years and continues to be a primary bonding method for me and my significant other. I was always more a comedy guy than an hourlong drama guy so my experience with The Sopranos actually mostly boils down to the constant discourse on it from other people who love TV, and happening to be in the room when my brother watched the last episode, lo those many years ago. Ditto The Wire, The Shield, and many other canonized TV dramas. I did watch, and enjoy, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men, after they had finished.


Monday, February 25, 2019

There Really Aren't Any Rules: Learning to Drive in Your Twenties


Southern Ontario is connected by a series of highways/freeways called the 400 series, which intersect at various points and link all the major and medium sized destinations in our small, densely populated corner of the world. The ability to drive on one is what separates the introductory level drivers (G1, the equivalent of a learner's permit elsewhere) from the intermediate level (G2.) And confidence in your ability to drive on them is what separates those drivers from the permanent class (simply called G.)

The first time I ever drove on the 400, it was a pitch black freezing rainstorm in February. I had been out with my co-workers from the bookstore, holding our long-delayed Holiday bowling party. One of the girls, Sam, had recently moved back home with her mom and wasn't ready for the party to end, so two of our coworkers and I were persuaded to keep it going by hitting a pool hall and drinking away the winter blues.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Falling Down a Pasthole: Me and My Timehops

As any of the dozen or so actual humans who follow me on Twitter knows, for the past year I have been using the TimeHop app to dredge up some of my best tweets. Also my worst tweets, which are often the same things. The app has my entire Twitter history loaded onto it, and permits me the ambrosia of showing me every tweet I made on this calendar day on each of the past nine years of tweeting. It's been... a trip.



At first, I downloaded it out of idle curiosity, wanting to skim my own archives despite Twitter quite deliberately not having an easy way to do this. Then after the first time I used it, I found it was keeping track of my streak. Well, I thought, that sounds like a challenge that's fun for both me and my adoring followers, eager to hear my greatest hits again.



Thursday, January 10, 2019

Here We Keep Going Again: Mamma Mia and Us



The other night, we were flipping through the channels with much disappointment. Every one of our go-to cable distractions was a miss. There was nothing left on the PVR for us to burn through. We were lost. I excused myself to the restoom, and while I was in there, I heard from the other room the voice of one Christine Baranski softly crooning "Chiquitita" to Meryl Streep. I smirked - as is bound to happen from time to time, my fiancee had found Mamma Mia on TV somewhere.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Caging a Panther: Michael Finkel's Stranger in the Woods

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,   
has grown so weary that it cannot hold 
anything else. It seems to him there are 
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world. 

- Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Panther" (translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Beginning in the late 1980's, 20-year-old Maine resident Christopher Knight did something unthinkable - both because of how inconceivable and difficult it was, and how bananas-illegal. Knight drove into the Maine wilderness and left society completely - well, mostly - behind. Spending the next 25 years in a small encampment in the Maine woods, Knight survived not by hunting or farming but by pilfering supplies from a nearby summer camp and surrounding community. He was seen by only a handful of people during that time, although the "Hermit" became the stuff of local legend. His own family had no idea where he was or if he was even still alive. He's the subject of Michael Finkel's 2017 nonfiction book Stranger in the Woods, which took me almost 18 months to get around to reading, and several months since I finished to write about. ("Better Late Than Never" is a title I take to heart.)