Ah, But a Man’s Reach Should Exceed His Grasp, Or What’s A Heaven For?

I can’t say for sure how I would have reacted in, say 1995,  if you had told me then what I would find myself doing some fifteen years down the road, on a sunny morning in early March.

Way back when, I was living the life of an upwardly mobile single young man living in the big city.  I was a relatively recent entrant in the urban Rat Race (Toronto division).  A young briefcase-carrying professional during the day, I was also writing music on the side, and I was very interested in (if not particularly successful at) advancing the fortunes of the band after which this blog is named.  I lived on Queen Street East in a little flat over top of a jewellery store at Queen and Broadview.  Over the noise of the streetcars turning and amid the steady parade of alcohol-fuelled gentlemen filing in and out of the strip joint on the corner, a community there was rapidly gentrifying.  Not far from the back door, there was the clubhouse for the outlaw motorcycle gang;  it was damaged (but only a little bit) by a rocket attack one night.  Across from our place, there was a terrific Jamaican restaurant that served Red Stripe beer and the best jerk chicken you’re ever likely to sample.  The neighbourhood, filled with a colourful cast of characters of the “down, but not quite out” variety, was also dotted with antique stores, little cafes and second hand shops.  The estimable Reaction Studios, where the lads and I had only months before recorded our studio debut, was a short walk away.   I played hockey three or four times a week with my buddies.  I went to the precious few clubs that continued to support live music, and my bandmates and I schemed up ways to worm our way on to the Queen West circuit.   I dabbled at film-making.  I saw Important Movies, I read Important Books and I spent much of my time searching for Big Ideas to bring into my life.

I can’t, in good journalistic conscience, risk having left the false impression with the reader that I was at any point in this period of time edgy, cool or hip.  I may very well have thought at the time that I was;  in hindsight, it is abundantly clear to me that I most assuredly was not.   The quality of my personal aesthetic and fashion achievement during this period of time is not, however, the point;  instead, I am trying to convey to you that my life in 1995 was very much a life lived to the peculiar rhythms of the thriving urban community within which I existed.

It is within that context that I suggest that historical me would have had some considerable difficulty comprehending exactly how it came to pass that this morning, here in 2010, I found myself searching out my camera equipment for the following reason: so that I could take a picture of a dead raccoon that my wife had pointed out to me along the side of a country road.  Let’s take that last sentence apart piece by precious little piece for a moment, shall we, to make sure we haven’t missed any of the wonderful and varied splendour it contains (and, not coincidentally, that life serves up so unexpectedly when you’re not looking).  The logical propositions that are incorporated into that statement are as follows:

  1. I have a wife (mildly surprising to 1995 me, no doubt);
  2. We were together on a country road (not so terribly far-fetched for ’95 me, who would presume this rural peregrination as some sort of romantic journey, rather than a trip home from Horton’s);
  3. My wife pointed something out that she thought would be of interest to me  (awwwww);
  4. The said item of interest was a deceased raccoon (wait, what?);
  5. She was correct about this being of interest to me; and
  6. She was so right, in fact, that I would actually drive home, retrieve my camera and excitedly return to the spot in question in order to take a picture.

I don’t know what your feelings are about the movie Forrest Gump.  At this point in my life, I don’t much care, to be honest.  Regardless of your views on this matter, though, it is difficult at times to argue with that movie’s oft-quoted line, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”  I suspect that the little fellow pictured below would have to agree.

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It?

Rocky Raccoon Gives Us a Pompeii-like Tableau for Rural Folk

UPDATE: From @kidkawartha of the PPP crowd comes the epic de-motivational poster.  I am without words, consigned only to chortles, giggles and snorts.


Update to the update, Monday March 8th: As a direct result of this picture and my conversation about it with @kidkawartha (not to mention the considerable efforts of @archluke), #deadraccoonmoviequotes became, for a time, the #1 trending topic on Twitter in Canada on Sunday afternoon (click on the link to see a photo of Twitter, then zoom in and look at the right side of the page). Deal with THAT, Canada.  The surprises just keep on coming…

Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun, especially those in the gang over at Pension Plan Puppets.

Deal With That, Tinfoil Hat Brigade

The Push Buttons
Sign on Elevator Panel in Hamilton Office Building

The above picture was taken in an elevator in the building where I work.  The thing that makes me laugh about this sign is that it just so happens that quite a few people suffering from various mental illnesses have occasion to come in to the building on a daily basis.  I know it isn’t a real plus karmically, but I get a strange pleasure out of imagining the effect that this little hastily printed sign has on those who are afflicted with various forms of paranoia.

3 Not Only Wise, But Security-Conscious, Men

On New Year’s Eve, the coffee shop that we usually go to near the office was closed.  Despite the impending festivities, it was a crazy busy day for Spouse and I, and at some point it became necessary to make a caffeine run.  I headed out the door, a little off the routes that I would habitually have occasion to pass along, and loaded up on Tim Horton’s steeped tea for Spouse and I, as well as a few other souls also unlucky enough to be in the office.

As I retraced my steps through the frigid December air, hands full of the supplies I had been sent to retrieve, I had passed by the City of Hamilton’s public nativity display in Gore Park.  As I’ve already said, it was a busy day and I had about six trillion other things on my mind;  I was in one of those mindsets that I get into when I have a lot of tasks to accomplish in a short period of time and I’m afraid of getting off schedule and causing complications further on down the line.  Single-minded, laden with cups of tea and timbits and striding purposefully back to work, I only half-noticed the display out of the corner of my eye. I had completely passed the display and was just stepping into the street when what I had seen scrambled up out of my subconscious and screamed at me to do a double-take.  I stopped, turned around and walked back and couldn’t stop laughing when my second look confirmed what my peripheral vision had told me was there.  As pressed for time as I was, and even though it was difficult to juggle about forty-five cups of tea while I fished my iPhone out of my pocket and got the camera app ready to go, I just had to take a picture:

Wide angle nativity
Nativity, Hamilton Style

Close-up view:

Closeup Nativity Warning
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3)

“…and in the darkness shineth
an everlasting light…”

Next step in Hamilton’s war against magi thieves?  Three words:  “booby-trapped Balthasar.”  Can’t be too careful with all that gold, frankincense and myrrh laying about.


Stitching Together Ayr

Panoramic Ayr iPhone 004

This photograph is a composite of at least five separate images taken with my iPhone and automatically stitched together with the application “autostitch”.   It’s a view from the bridge over the pond in Centennial Park, looking west towards Northumberland street.

I am amazed at the job this application did.  I literally just cranked off five photographs, then downloaded the app, put them in its little buffer and clicked one button.  It whirred and gurgled away for a few minutes (actually, it just sat there silently cogitating, but the whirring and gurgling is much more exciting) and bingo bango bongo, you’ve got yourself a beautiful panorama.  Amazing.  The little iPhone is consistently making me want to take a time machine back to 1984 and trash talk my Commodore 64 big time as a worthless underachieving pile of silicon claptrap.  Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a “time travel” app available from iTunes…

Here’s the satellite photo of the area depicted in the above photo.:

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Ferris Bueller Had the Right Idea

Shhh!   Don’t tell anyone, but Spouse and I have taken a couple of days off from work.

A day off is a wonderful thing;  if you’re anything like me, you have it in mind to accomplish so many things, but you also want to just revel in your chance to drive in the slow lane for a change.   For us, on these days, priority one is very definitely just kind of recharging our batteries vis-a-vis the workplace.

A very close second, though, was “getting those chairs painted”, you know, the ones my father-in-law started painting two weekends ago.  The lawn furniture in question is a set of two chairs with matching table and bird bath that my Dad made several years ago, and which he and my Mom kindly donated to the People of Juniorvania.  The acquired assets were in need of a paint job and – when he and Gillian were here in late May – Harold was, as Pierre McGuire is wont to say, “a monster” with the paintbrush.  He layed down a number of difficult early coats on all of the pieces over the course of a couple of days back-breaking work, but wisely fled the jurisdiction prior to completion of the task.

Here’s a picture of Harold getting the painting party started:

Painting the Chairs_8250
Harold Takes the Task in Hand

Spouse and I spent a couple of hours in the driveway ourselves this afternoon, gaining new appreciation for the difficult work Harold had already accomplished. With any luck, tomorrow morning will see the application of one final coat on each piece and I will happily spend the afternoon literally watching paint dry.

After the painting was done (well, actually, in between coats) we headed in to the backyard and were mesmerized by the movements of this little fellow:

Hummingbird in tree_8676
May Be a Juvenile Ruby Throated Hummingbird

I had a great time following this little guy with the camera and trying to get some good in-flight shots. It was such a beautiful sunny day that I could really ramp up the shutter speed and go full telephoto. Here’s a shot of our new friend heading in for a snack at the new feeder:

Commence Mid Air Refueling _8650
JHB01 Looking for Clearance Runway Two Seven...

I am really pleased with some of the shots I got of this little visitor today.

We finished off the night with a bowl of fire out back (first one of the season) and a couple of beers before settling in to watch Malkin and the Penguins dismantle the Red Wings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final (turning point of the game:  for sure, Malkin’s first breakaway shorthanded in the second period.  He didn’t score, but it gave life to the Pens, especially Jordan Staal, who followed that rush up with a breakaway of his own and rang up a shorty in the process.  The Pens didn’t look back in the game and – with a few breaks and some discipline early in Game 5 in Detroit, they might not look back in the series.)  I’d like to write some more about the Final tomorrow.  For now, it’s time to pack it in for the night  and get some shuteye so I can get up early and enjoy doing whatever the hell I damn well please again tomorrow.

Popeye is Watching

Popeye has a habit of standing at the top of the hill behind the house, just over the property line so that he’s technically all four feet firmly on the neighbour’s property.  Next door to us, there is a fairly large farm, and the edges of the fields – as you might imagine – get somewhat overgrown with tall grasses, wildflowers and weeds.  

Popper likes to stick his head through the grass that’s grown up along the edge of the property and perform surveillance:  looking left, then straight ahead, then right;  back to the middle, back to the left;  back to the middle, back to the right….you get the idea.  Well, maybe you don’t – but this picture should give you a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about.

Popeye on surveillance_8352

Class Act Cervidae

In an effort to pay the bills around here, Heroes in Rehab: the blog has decided to run the occasional advertisement.   Management has resolved to ensure that the commercial content is tasteful, minimally intrusive and discreet.  In addition, we are determined to endorse only those products and services that we here at HiR:tb can in good conscience recommend because we find ourselves using and enjoying them on a regular basis.  Keeping that in mind, may I present a message from one of our esteemed sponsors:

Oh, deer...

And now with the mercantile niceties behind us, the staff ’round here will presently return you to your regularly scheduled half-baked analysis, tangential musings and baldfaced lies, mixed of course with a liberal dose of poopy jokes.  Now with 15% more deer porn!   I think we all knew it would come to something like this on this site eventually.

Game 6: One More Like That, Please!

Wow, Washington and Pittsburgh served up another beauty tonight.  At one point in the third period, I recall Gord Miller telling me that there had been four lead changes in the game.

The final two minutes of the 3rd were beyond belief.  The slashing penalty that caused all of this called at the blueline by referee Denis Larue was ridiculous in my estimation, and the Caps would have deservedly felt they had been hosed out of the series had the Penguins been able to bang one home on the ensuing power play to win the game.  Happily, the hockey gods seem to have a sense of justice in this series – a playful one, one in which the team scoring first does not fare very well – but a sense of justice nonetheless.

And so we come to another Game 7 Wednesday night in D.C., where the faithful will be Rocking the Red for sure and blowing the lid off the joint.   Hopefully, the Caps step on to the ice a more determined, prepared and disciplined crew than they did in the last game, or the Crosbys will be the ones smiling broadly during the post-game handshakes.

To try and get some good Capitals (and Varlamov – anybody else think he’s still looking a little shaky?)  mojo going for my adopted team once again, here’s another picture of Ovie that I took at a Caps/Lightning game in February.

Ovechkin 7003
Ovechkin Plus Puck Equals Da Bomb

p.s:  Still working on the tale of my recent adventures – but it was beautiful outside tonight and there was hockey to be watched, so…you get “photographs and meh” instead of the unadulterated awesomeness that naturally evolves from any story in which I collide heavily with objects of even more substantial mass than myself, such as (for example) the Earth.

He’s Resting.

I’m not the only guy to suffer an injury around the ol’ homestead this weekend.  The little fellow pictured below flew headlong into the window on the east side at the rear of our house.  He seemed to be stunned (beautiful plumage, eh?) for a little bit, and Spouse and I stood nearby to make sure he didn’t get scooped up by any wandering cats or foxes whilst lying in the garden, no doubt pining for the fjords. We were more than a little worried he was going to shuffle off this mortal coil and join the choir invisible.  Spouse said she felt like a murderer, so I pointed out that the sum total of her ignominious crime was “owning a window”, but she still felt like a monster.

Tired and shagged out after a prolonged squawk?

I took the opportunity to snap off a few pictures at very close range. After twenty minutes of resting or so, he gathered himself together and flew off to the top of the tallest tree in Juniorvania, fresh as a daisy.

Like “Brewster’s Millions”, But Less Plausible…

This is how I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that print journalism must be anachronistic, irrelevant and doomed:  I have been asked to write a piece on the Leafs for publication in an actual hold-it-in-your-hand, you-could-drop-that-thing-and-bruise-a-toe book.   And get this:  I am told that I will be getting paid to do this thing.  From this latter fact, I conclude that the publishers of this tome are almost certainly lunatic immigrant millionaires with a tenuous-to-non-existent grasp on the English language.  Believing that they are allergic to money,  I suspect they have resolved to rid themselves of the cursed lucre in the most pro-social way possible;  by contributing to the publication of a well-respected and important medical journal filled with scholarly research.  I just pray someone has a camera when these well-meaning but misguided philanthropists are presented with the finished product – I foresee an instant and compelling portrait of blinking uncomprehension and, quite possibly, some feces throwing.

I can’t give out a lot of details at the moment, mostly because I don’t want you to steal this gig from me, but rest assured I will be pimping the book like a madman once it has been brought into existence.   As much as you are now staring at the screen, cursing the rotten luck that leaves you bereft of detail, I can promise you that you will someday remember fondly the happy times before this godforsaken book was mentioned by me in every sentence.

I’ll bet you can’t wait to be that unhappy.  In the meantime, I am busy trying to figure out how the hell I am going to manage to get everything done that I will need to:  for example, not only do I now have to find the time to research and write the piece, if I am going to be a writer I also have to make sure that I spend the correct amount of time bellyaching about how making the deadline is going to be a bitch and so on.  I guess this post is a pretty good start on that.  I must be a quick learner.

All kidding aside, I do have some degree of concern about taking on yet another project:  at present, for those of you keeping track, I am (theoretically) in the middle of:

And those are just the projects I’ve blogged about!  I also have it in my mind to convert some old VHS video to digital (I spent a large part of last Saturday wondering why I haven’t yet converted my copy of Leafs/Kings Game 7 in ’93 to an iPod-friendly format so that I can watch it whenever I feel the urge.   This, as much as it may be a cry for help,  is not a lie.)   There are also three or four crates of old vinyl LPs that are practically begging for my attention, so much of my (formerly?) beloved music desperate to enter the 21st century at last.

Anyway, no doubt some of my time tippy-tapping away at my article will take away somewhat from the time I have available to examine my navel here for your benefit;  you must be devastated, I can tell.  I have to say, though, that over the last week or so, I’ve enjoyed spending a few minutes in front of the blank screen with the cursor blinking and a hundred poopy jokes wanting to be written.  I guess I’m having fun writing, and I’ve pushed back a little bit at the multi-armed time-eating monster that my job has recently become.  I have been forcing myself to make just a little bit of time to sit here and flap my virtual gums at you, and it has made me feel a bit better, so I am going to try (see the list of projects above) to keep it up.

Seriously, stop laughing at me.


Note:  The Spitfires lost to Brampton last night 4-2.  I recorded the game via Freecorder, loaded it on to my iPod then carefully avoided hearing about the score;  I listened to the game after I went to bed at around 11:30.  About two hours later, I was bummed out – and sleepy.   Anyway, Dad and I won’t be seeing the Spits claim the Championship Trophy tomorrow night in Brampton;  I just hope I haven’t jinxed them too badly.  We want another W!