Wednesday 30 May 2012

the Night Watchman

French and I always struggled in school; we both took an extra year to finish.  I improved, and eventually succeeded because my girlfriend was in the gifted program; and I needed to step up my game to keep that relationship.  French had a secret to his  academic success as well.  He gives credit to his university degrees, History and Education, to his college job as a night watchman.

French got into university as a mature student, (he was 21 before he even started college) but he needed a job to pay tuition.  He knew a guy that was working in human resources at the Nature Museum, and this connection helped French get a job, but there was a down side: his shifts were always overnight.  At first, he hated it.  French was all alone in a massive museum.  He had to do an occasional patrol, but mostly he had to sit a desk and monitor the cameras, and basically be a presence in the building.

He was so bored that he eventually brought his oft neglected textbooks, and started to study and write essays on the computer.  French would brew coffee and just pound the books.  When he got tired he'd go on a quick patrol.  For a lot of his papers he could collect data, or get ideas, right from the exhibits.

Every shift he'd manage to do up to 7 hours of homework.  French went from a guy who failed multiple classes in high school to the gold medal winner in his program.

So when I look out at the students who are struggling I don't give up hope.  They may get into an inspiring relationship, or get a great job or...

Thursday 17 May 2012

The Wrestler

French is a wrestler.  He's just an old carny at heart, but he took a long break from all things wrestling.  He wouldn't watch it, talk about, let alone get back in the ring.  In the last couple of years he's gradually coming back to it.

He wrestled in high-school and even won provincials in grade nine; he was a natural.  French had continued success, but did not pursue it in university.   French wrestled out in the indy scene for quite a while, but eventually got burned out.  Lately, he's been missing it so we have started to go to local events.

It is a weird little culture; all these people pretending to fight, but there is a lot of love, camaraderie, and community out there too.  We'll go to the events, cheer the faces, and boo the heels, then have a few beers in the parking lot.

French is thinking about getting more involved.  He talks about training, promoting, or managing.  I always agree, and encourage him during these talks, but I know he always has his old gear stashed in his trunk.

Compilation of some recent events...

Friday 11 May 2012


Many nights French, Bruce, Sweaty, Pancake and I would all sit down and watch Sopranos.  We lasted until part way through season 5, but then we just gave up.  The best seasons were earlier on for sure.

One thing we all liked was the intro.  We never skipped the intro to the show.  One day French suggested that we make our own version.  We shot around one hundred  clips from Smiths Falls to Navan and into Ottawa.  We shot this last year, but never got to the editing.  I needed to make room on my laptop so French and I put this together today.

This is our homage to the intro of the Sopranos...

Monday 7 May 2012

Slipping Youth, Art, and MCA

Everyone has called me old Ollie for good ol'Ollie, or maybe it is for alliteration.  Lately, I've been feeling that it is becoming a more suitable name.

I felt this hard on Friday when Adam (MCA) Yauch died.  I've been a Beastie Boys fan since their first single.  I used to blast their songs in my basement as a teen (sorry mom).  I've followed their career and own every album, and DVD they put out.  I even wore out Paul's Boutique, and had to replace it.  A few years ago I even saw them in concert, and it was an amazing dynamic show.

I was wondering why I felt so down about a guy I never met dying.  My first thought was that I had lost a key part of my youth.  My wife had another idea.  She says that I was connected to his art, so in a sense I knew Adam in an intimate way.  So his death is a significant and personal  loss.  She is a wise woman.

I really admire MCA.  He created great eclectic original music, and videos.  Adam was a true artist, and most of all an innovator. So God bless him, his family, friends and fans.

Thursday 3 May 2012

On Gypsies, Spirits, and Lightening Strikes

French told me a story the other day; a good odd story.

First, some back story:  French has a neighbour whose house has been hit by lightening twice in the last year.  The first time was the worst of the two strikes.  The house caught on fire inside the wall of the master bedroom. The home owner was awake from the massive storm, but left the house when he heard crackling inside the walls.  The fire was put out, but there was a lot of damage.

His house got hit again a few months later, in the same spot.  This time there was no fire, but it blew out all the electronics that were plugged in.

Once the second strike hit, they tried to find a cause.  The tree beside the house was hit too, so French helped him cut it down.

French was over there on the weekend stacking the wood and one of the guys who had worked on the fire damage repair showed up, and he had a bottle of homemade wine for the neighbour.  French described him as Eastern European...maybe gypsy.  The worker had a proposition.  He said that he noticed that the tree was gone, but that the evil spirit that attracted the lightening was still down in the roots.  This, so called gypsy, had a guy who would exorcise the spirit.

They all drank the wine and discussed the offer.  The neighbour was skeptical.  French was interested in seeing the ritual.  They debated it back and forth for a bit, but he decided against it.   French was disappointed.

As "the gypsy" was leaving he poured some of his wine on the stump.