June 22 – Hold Me Now

333/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  My defining moment came in 1987.  The year prior (1986) I got that amazing job at Expo 86 and the year after (1988) I got married – two amazing life milestones but the one that shaped me probably the most was traveling to Quebec on my own to learn French for the summer.  I had attempted travel (after high school graduation) to Europe with others and that was a nightmare so I was very wary to say the least.  I traveled across Canada on a plane and a train on my own – the train being an amazing experience!  I met people who had lasting influences on me.  I experienced many, many things for the first time.  I basically broke out of the self-imposed shell that protected me!  However, the highlight of the entire summer came from being at the right place at the right time.  I, with a few friends, were supposed to go to a club – a former cathedral converted into a dance place – but we couldn’t get ourselves organized.  We then heard about a band playing in the back field of our campus (Universite de Laval) as a warmup before their performance at said cathedral.  It was all on the hush-hush and only a few people were privy to the information.  I was in the in-group but more on the outside of the inside in that I was not informed who the band was.  I got there.  There were perhaps 20-30 of us and who was performing but only one of my all-time favourite 80s group – The Thompson Twins.  Okay, for you young ‘uns, you have no clue what I’m talking about but they would be the equivalent of say The Black Eyed Peas in their hey-day!  I was in shock.  This was my 80s music.  Tom Bailey (lead singer) epitomized coolness to me (oh, and I tried to model several of my hairstyles after him) and here he was only 15 feet away from me.  Afterwards, they talked to the group of us but I was just freaked out and stood in the back trying to take it all in.  I have never, ever been a fan-boy for celebrity but yeah, here I was freaking the shit out!!  I can’t even remember the songs they performed as it was so surreal and at times I wondered if it happened but yes, it did!  I just happened to be where I was supposed to be and the Thompson Twins were supposed to entertain me on that night.  They were at the top of my 80s musical idols.  I had a love for their music but ever since, ever so more.  Everyone needs their musical, athletic, artistic, whatever it is idols because their talent gets us through things in life but to be able to see them perform in real life is a special experience and it has been the one concert going event (can I even call it that) that has stayed with me until this very day!  As I create a Spotify playlist in their honour, here’s to my musical heroes who I didn’t know were until that night – The Thompson Twins!!

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June 12 – cyberfriends

323/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This gratitude post is a strange one for me in that I am different than most people from my age group when it comes to the online world.  I have been connected to cyberspace well before it became mainstream.  I was on ICQ, the way, way old version of messenger.  I was on a bunch of forums.  I followed rooms (the earlier precursors of blogs) before they became de rigeur.  I followed an online music forum and became “friends” with people from all over the world and ended up becoming a moderator for the website – over a decade ago.  We had a community.  Almost 2000 followers.  I spent countless hours in front of the computer moderating various threads on music.  Jenna, Liam, Brett and myself were the admin.  We were approving who got into our music sharing forum.  It was the new era of the internet.  It was slightly bizarre for me.  I didn’t really believe in online friends but here I was with online friends!  People that I had never met in my life.  It became surreal when I received Christmas cards in the mail from them!  Today, no one blinks an eye in that one has “friends” in cyber world but I still am surprised that I, a guy who is in the here and now world, got caught up in the virtual world.  I guess I am slightly embarrassed as for a while, I spent a lot of time with my “online” friends than I did with the real world.   Today, I’m all about the real world and the online world is where I do this – blog my gratitude.  However, I can not totally dismiss the online friends and life I had a decade or so ago because if not for them, I would not be expressing myself and using cyberspace as a valuable tool to let everyone know about how grateful I have been and I am for all the people who have come in and out of my life to make me the man I am today.  Thank you cyberfriends for giving me a perspective and insight into cyberworld as a medium for expression and for being!

April 21 – Prince

271/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I heard about Prince’s death this morning from a friend who came by my classroom.  My heart sank.  I was devastated.  Thankfully, my class was working on individual assignments so I could take time to process.  I loved Prince like no other!  People had/have their musical idols – Bowie, Lennon, Cobain, Mercury, Houston, Jackson – all amazing no doubt but Prince epitomized music for me.  He was my idol.  I love music but his music spoke to me on a different level – it was funk.  It was rock.  It was soul.  And it touched my soul.  I loved his image too and he, other than David Bowie, was a male who kept on reinventing himself with look after look – something I have done since I was a young adult – he made it normal for me as a teenage/young male to change up how I presented myself.  I idolized him.  He also made it acceptable not to have to be hyper-masculine to be a male.  He had attitude.  He oozed confidence and sexual bravado.  He didn’t take shit.  He talked smack about whatever he wanted to.  He wore his androgyny proudly.  He did it his own way regardless of what anyone thought. He was Prince.  Everything about him, I loved – and have come to emulate consciously but more subconsciously.  He produced for other artists and after hearing their collabs (Sheena Easton for one), I became a fan of that artist but the reason was the Prince sound.  His videos were iconic – When Doves Cry and Kiss are etched into my memory as are dozens of others.  His signature voice – the falsetto (Camille voice) morphing into his deep natural voice and the amazing production of his songs equaled perfection.  No matter what you called him – Prince, The Purple One, The Kid, The Artist Formerly Known As, Symbol – you can’t deny his talent.  I didn’t understand how people were moved by a celebrity’s death, someone they didn’t know, until today.  Perhaps it reminds me of my mortality as I grew up on his music in the 80s and now I’m 50 and he was only 57.  Perhaps he felt like a member of my extended family as he was always there musically and visually to get me through life’s moments.  Perhaps his songs resonated so deeply with me as they formed the soundtrack of my teens/young adulthood.  Whatever the reason, I’m gonna miss the musical genius but I take comfort in the fact that I have his music to remind me of his talent and what they meant to me.  I concoct a purple martini in your honour and salute you!

March 28 – escapism

247/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I love to talk.  I love to express myself.  I love to share my opinions.  I love to be heard!  LOL.  If you know me, you know that all that is true about me.  I also love to watch tv and get involved in any discussions regarding the shows that I watch.  I also love music and espouse the virtues of my favourite artists at any turn.  As well, I’m a fan of books and movies and can find myself in enlightening dialogue regarding characters or plot development.  I think this is what makes entertainment that much better – being able to engage into it further than the initial viewing, listening or reading.  About a decade or so ago, I was a moderator of a music forum with a few others.  New singles and artists were introduced (yes, the days of Napster!!) and threads were opened to discuss the merits or faults about the song and I could spend hours embattled in what I felt was a great song or what should have been a huge hit – I enjoyed making ‘friends’ and being able to have lively debates about whomever was artist du jour.  With books, I’ve entered into forums on a work chat site over the years convincing others of the merits of an author and listening to thoughts about others based on what I read.  Not always are the recommendations great, but they do always allow me to expand my horizons.  When it comes to movies, I go to critic sites and see what others are saying.  I also take to heart word of mouth recommendations from friends who I consider would know my tastes – not always have they been right  – Birdman??  Hated it!!  But the follow-up dialogue was better than the movie.  Finally television allows me to engage with people I would not have had things in common with – there are tonnes of co-workers, hockey parents, gym buddies, and Facebook friends who I can text, email, talk to about the episode and come up with theories around the next episode.  To all of my entertainment friends, I love having you around (whether we agree or agree to disagree) about what we have in common – our love for escapism!

March 24 – superhero!

243/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As the movie version of Batman vs Superman is making it to the big screens (and the initial buzz is sadly negative), I started to reflect on why I, as a teenager, have loved movies like The XMen and Batman – basically superhero movies and I realized that most of the themes are about characters who in their regular lives have struggles and challenges due to various reasons but are able to escape and become something through their alter-ego.  I guess it just resonates with the bullied boy in high school who had no means of escape except through his imagination be it through creativity (artwork), music (escaping into music) or fantasy (movies and tv shows).  I am a fan of the marred hero (some can say anti-hero) who still has flaws and isn’t perfect and probably never will be but does what he or she has to.  The outsider becoming the revered.  The outsider becoming better than those who put him on his path of struggle.  The outsider becoming a true version of himself.  The outsider self-actualizing.  Yes, most see the movie as pure entertainment on a superficial level but I see the movie in a deeper way as I connect to the flawed superhero.  Yes, he may not be the quintessential good guy but he is the good guy in my mind as I feel I know where he is coming from.  Thank you anti-superheroes for connecting with the boy inside of me throughout the years and allowing me to not only see but realize my potential!

March 18 – our Disney girl

237/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Do you have a daughter? Do you know who her Disney girl idol is?? It’s an important question and something you really have no control over. I didn’t even realize my daughter was into the Disney girls until I found myself watching That’s So Raven, Parent Trap, Lizzie McGuire – the list goes on. She ended up having a favourite Disney girl and we ended up buying all her paraphernalia from albums to lunch bags, from accessories to calendars – we were all Lizzie McGuired out! My daughter looked up to Hilary Duff (the actress) and we ended up watching all her movies countless times: Cheaper By the Dozen, A Cinderella Story, Agent Cody Banks and Cadet Kelly to name a few. As a dad of a daughter, I’d take Hilary Duff’s influence over and over again – my daughter picked the right Disney girl who maneuvered into post teen and early adulthood quite well. I mean, she had the choice of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears back in the day and she chose Hilary. I gotta give props to Hilary because without any big faux pas, she emerged into an adult – yes, she had a divorce, big deal and that’s not something that would shape my daughter negatively as Hilary didn’t do a Miley and become all about her sexuality (not slut-shaming here but being a dad of a daughter) nor did she become a Lindsay with all her drug and alcohol problems, Hilary just traversed adolescent into a respectable woman – the type that my daughter has become. I feel for parents of younger daughters today because the times are much different than a decade ago with the proliferation of social media and “stars” who are famous for infamy. I’m just glad my daughter idolized a Disney girl who was and is a true Disney girl with all the wholesome values that represented Disney post Disney career. Thank you Hilary Duff, this dad is forever grateful!

March 12 – I-G-G-Y

231/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am a 50 year old man and I’m going to admit that I love this female. She’s received a lot of flak for supposed cultural appropriation of African-American hip-hop/rap music because she is white – it’s a bigger issue that is beyond the scope of this gratitude post but let me just say that all sorts of other ethnic music has been interpolated over the years and no fuss has been made – closing can of worms. Back to Iggy – I was a fan of hers well before everyone got to know her through ‘Fancy’ in 2014. Back in 2011, I loved the mixtape that she was on featuring her song ‘Pu$$y’ (oh how I cringe knowing I’m a father of two but music is music – it gets to you regardless of your age). I definitely hoped that her first “real” single ‘Work’ would have hit big (I mean, it’s all India/Bollywood – resonates!!) but hey, it’s one of the things I can enjoy that the masses don’t know about. I also have an affinity towards Amethyst as she gets criticism for not being who she should be – once again, yes, 20 something white female rapper and just turned 50 indo-canadian male but I get it: box don’t fit you so you make the box fit you! That has been my life. I have been told to behave and be one way but why should I? So Iggy, you go for yours. Although, I have heard some sneak previews of next week’s big release of the single ‘Team’ and it looks like the rap verses are few and far between, I hope that is not that case and you do you because if there’s anything I’ve learned in 50 years, you can’t please everyone or even anyone except be you. Get than coin I-G-G-Y and make me enjoy what you put out as I have been enjoying for the last 5 years. I’m so Fancy!

February 27 – hurray for Hollywood

218/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s Oscar night. No, I’m not at a party watching – actually, in my pjs drinking wine and watching Walking Dead live as the Academy Awards are being PVRed; however, I do love movies though. Movies provide me with a form of escapism in the crazy life that I lead. Yes, very fortunate to be living the live of privilege that affords me the luxury of watching movies that move me in a myriad of ways. I can’t even fathom not having movies in my life whether they are being viewed on the big screen, the small screen or even the smaller screen of my ipad or the teeny tiny screen of my phone. I wasn’t allowed to watch movies as a youngster so I missed out on a lot of defining moments in my childhood but I have made up for it since. For all the actors, directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, etc etc, I thank you for taking me on journeys that aren’t even rivalled by my own imagination: space adventures, dystopian landscapes, romantic journeys, terrifying moments in the fetal position, horror nightmares, feelgood moments that replay on and on, tug at the heartstrings moments where I keep my manliness by pretending the tear is actually just a yawn tear (you know what I mean!!). Yes, not a traditional gratitude post but a gratitude post nonetheless. Thank you for allowing me that escape that I need every so often from the daily grind!

February 17 – I’m a Survivor

208/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I absolutely love reality tv – not the Kardashian Krap type but competition reality. I used to watch American Idol and The Voice. I am a fan of The Amazing Race and loved Top Model. I watched a couple of one season shows as well but the king of all competition reality is Survivor. I would like to say that I watched it right from the get-go and to a certain degree, I did. The show came on in 2000 and the first season was repeated immediately after it aired and because I heard so much about it, I watched the re-airing and fell in love with the premise and the characters and the entire concept of sole Survivor. Thus, technically I have been watching it from the first season and I have not missed an episode since! Here we are into season 36 I believe and I am just as excited! Being not very athletic, I get to be arm-chair athlete! Being a very social being, I also get to watch the players’ social games and analyze them. I basically live vicariously for an hour through these players. I have been told many times that my persona would be ideal for reality tv and yes, they are all personas – the players are cast for entertainment. I haven’t applied because perhaps on some level I think I would be cast and I don’t know how I would be “edited” – probably the dumb guy!! I have said that if I ever do get on, I will be first voted out or make it all the way to the end 😉 Now the other thing that has made my Survivor viewing interesting and probably that much more enjoyable which is the real purpose of tonight’s blog is to thank the many staff members who have joined in on the Survivor (and other reality) pools that I have organized. I started them way back when I taught at Burnett as a way of getting some staff socialness going on and it took off from there. I came to McNair as a newbie and did the same thing and the staff also came on board. Yes, I may have arm-twisted a few to join but what better or easier way to participate in the work place social atmosphere than throw a $5 bill, get a random player and see if you get a $100 win. The camaraderie that has developed with staff members has been amazing and I have gotten to know staff members that I wouldn’t normally have had a chance of conversing with and it just makes for my Survivor viewing all that much more exciting and pleasurable when you are now talking about staff member players and you have someone to route for right away. Also, I love writing my reviews – some are wine-infused and I let loose a little too much but hopefully they are enjoyable to read 😉 Once again, I want to thank every single person who has participated in the pools – without you, my entertainment on Wednesday night’s would be solely a one way activity but because of you, it has become multi-faceted and much more enjoyable. Here’s to your player winning!!

February 7 – sports, sports, sports

198/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So it’s Superbowl Sunday – does absolutely nothing for me except maybe the half-time show and the lead-out show (the one right after the game) but even those this year aren’t anything spectacular. However, I do wish I was one of those guys who was a super-fan. I will be honest, I am envious of the camaraderie/brotherhood and the whole spectacle of the game but I know nothing about football – its plays or the teams. I tried watching it last year because well Seattle was in it to defend their championship (is that even the right term?) but I really couldn’t get into it. So who am I actually thanking in this gratitude post – sports fans for showing me what I am missing out on. This post does get me a bit down due to the fact that I never got into sports of any kind let alone football (you know what kind of Hockey Dad I am if you’ve read my previous blogs!!). I wished I was an athletic kid so that I had played sports or had a dad around to watch sports with or was even put into sports against my will but none of that happened. I could say that the lack of sports has shaped me into the man I am today and that is very true but when it comes to days such as playoffs, championships, finals – I want to be on the inside if not on the bandwagon, even just hanging on but alas, I am not even running after it, I’m on a different street in another city altogether not knowing the locale of said bandwagon 😦 So yes, I am a unique individual but not happy about lacking sports knowledge and some days I wish I was just like the rest of them – the sports fan brethren. To all sports fans, here’s me from the outside looking in with great admiration and jealousy at something I have never been a part of and probably never will be.