Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas: Not a fan.

Come in and enjoy the warmth of the fire, the dance of the shadows, and the lull in the business of this season. So many things expected of us, so many dollars to go so far, and far too much food to consume. Enjoy the pistachios, there is still some left.

From about the age of 15 or so I haven't much enjoyed Christmas. Not the holiday, or the underlying themes, but the ideology and the expectations of it. I don't go in for all the ritual involved. I never enjoyed the multitude of jobs that came with Christmas. About the only thing I do enjoy is the gathering of my family and the love and joy of being all in one place. I even enjoy the fighting and annoyance that close quarters breeds. I'm funny that way.

I don't put up a tree. No one should have to work that hard on a holiday. Nor is the ritual sacrifice of an evergreen tree as an idol that appealing to me. I buy gifts, but I don't overspend or rack up large chunks of credit. I tend to also go with gifts that have some form of meaning or bond between me and the person I'm buying for. Our own family has reduced it's spending by doing a Christmas draw for one adult rather than buying for everyone.

The thing I can say about the holiday is the unity and sense of family and community it creates is wonderful. I'm one of those idealists who say 'Let the theme of the holidays last the whole year round.' And I do try. Of course, life isn't a matter of doing only the things you choose to.

Is there a point, not really. Just rambling away with my thoughts. That happens sometimes. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Light a lamp, so on and so forth. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another semester done

Come in come in. The den is restocked, but some of it isn't so healthy. There's some ripple chips and dip, some chilli lime/lemon pistachios (I know, yum!) and of course, some celery. If you want to make that unhealthy I'm sure we've got some spreadable cheese gunk around here somewhere. The fire is hot, the tales are fun, and you're always welcome to spend some time here.

So another semester down. This series of tests was fun because I really changed how I write, and it all came out so easy. I filled book after book with my wit, wisdom, and smart ass-ness. :) And I got back my term paper (A story about Remus Lupin's time in the werewolf community) and response papers for my Harry Potter class. When I'm given a free hand to just do as I want to display the knowledge I have I do really well apparently and come up with some brilliant stuff. The term paper was an 85%, and the response papers got 20.01 out of 25. That means I've got a good chance to make over 80 in the class. WHEEEE!!!! Yeah real intelligentsia I am! :)

I'll be taking another author study. Last semester was Rowling and Milton, this semester, James Joyce! Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses. Been told by the prof teaching the class to start reading, and I have. Already enjoying this way too much.

So here's hoping you're all enjoying your various endeavors with the same joy I'm taking in mine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seasonal thank yous

Come in come in, the fire is nice, but the food is low, need to restock the den. But there is some rye crackers and some cheese. Yummy. The fire is still high because it's SO COLD outside. I come in from one of my infrequent self-poisoning trips and wish for new hands as the old ones have frozen solid.

So it's that time of year and while I'm not a huge supporter of Christmas, I do like the holiday and ideas it represents so I thought I'd take a few moments and thank all the loving people who make life not just possible but wonderful. So personal shout out time.

Thank you to my family, the basis on which I have built who I am. Thank you mom and dad for being incredible role models and such huge helps. Every time you help me I dedicate at least one grade level to you two. :) I love you both dearly and again, while some of my family might not be biological relatives, I want to specifically say this: I've known no other person who is my dad except you Chris, and I'm so happy you treat me like a son and don't accept my bs, push me to be better than I am and always always love me and my little ones. You and mom make your home feel like my home and I'm always happy to be there. Thank you.

To all my brothers and sisters, and their wonderful spouses. You're all just awesome. I love each and everyone of you so much. I envy that you got to grow up together at times, but that I'm one of the siblings makes me feel incredible. Even though they came late, I'm happy to be one of five rather than just one.

Granny. You are my example of toughness and love all together. No one person I've known has lived through what you have, and yet still you love the people around you. There is no bitterness, there is no regret. There is quiet pride and beautiful strength. You deserve more than life has given you but have never asked for it. Thank you for showing us all that happiness and life is not what we're given but what we have.

My Moon, my Little Bear, my Little Bird. No three people could mean as much as you all have come to mean. These are my direct family, and no one has given me more moments of happiness, pride, frustration, and joy than you three have.

My friends. I am blessed and honoured to have as many as I do. I think I'll have to mention them all briefly, but if I miss someone, I truly apologize.

Viper Pilot: Your joys are mine, your distance is meaningless, that I miss you is nothing compared to how happy I am that you and Atomique have the little Astro-themed one. There is no one thing I could say to express my gratitude to you. I love you, your family and wish that half way around the world I could send you all a heartfelt hug.

Johnny and Cindy, Saskbeast, Jeffy, Loki, T, Brian, and all the others who weekly gather to take my money at a poker table. I am thankful you understand I can be a big whiny baby head and still invite me over. You have all given me such great moments, stories, and times that I can't list them all. Your friendship may manifest around cards, but you all mean so much more than that. Thank you.

Cenobyte, His Nibs, and the clan: While it seems that I may only think of you at my convenience, I am always happy to see you and I think if I do commit myself to some atrocious new years promise of improving myself it'll be to make many more trips down the valley to enjoy you all a lot more. You cock I think is Ceno's favorite phrase of praise. :)

Ringmaster and the Circus: Start a damn Shadowrun game Ringmaster!! :) Kidding. You know we've flung ourselves out in all directions, and those of us who are more centrally located have no place to volunteer for gathering. I think you get placed in that same silly new years promise. Political differences aside, your talents and humour are always one of the things that I love. Oh yeah, Ringmaster? I brag about you to my friends whenever one of your commercials is funny. :)

Neo, TYG, and various others who get slotted into these funny little places. Oh yeah Parmesian as well. I love the new people I meet, I love the new friends I make, and I love the new experiences I get to have. Each and every one of you hold a place in my heart and I appreciate you. Thank you. There's a Dragon, a big hair Raz, a Mel, half of the La's, a troll, Russian boy/girl name guy, oh so many I could thank in this space.

Time and place makes things change, and while the time together may not be a constant, do not think that I do not appreciate even those who leave my sight, because they're always in my heart.

Love you all, and thank you for helping me to be who I am. So really, it's all your fault! :) Hah, just kidding.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Ok so I'm ridiculously happy about this. Jason Clermont is comin' home! Two big bruisin' and cruisin' CANADIAN slotbacks, a speedster for a six pack offense and good enough guys all over the place to start to have one of the best and most agressive recieving corps in the league! HELL YEAH!

'Course now we need to really work on developing the young quarterbacks we have. With improving recievers it'll be a bit easier but still. We didn't exactly set the league on fire with the set we had.

And let's not forget Cates and an offensive line that is one of the best. That's where it starts people. While other's have been said to be better, when the 'Riders offensive line is all together and playing as a unit there is no one better.

But then again I have a different point of view when it comes to O-lines. I coached the offensive line for the Mounties this last year. That's a bantam team in the RMF. Oh yeah, and LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!!!!! But I digress. Here was my o-line:

Left Tackle - Big bruiser of a kid, Brandon, never played football until he stepped onto the field. Was a real quiet and placid kid. But stood about 5'10" and weighed in at 215. (Yeah that is a 14 year old kid as big as me.:)

Left Guard - Smaller guy, Austin, 6 foot, about 185. He WAS a defensive end the last year he played, but he had the speed and smarts to be a really great lineman. And he was 15 and I realized he could be a great leader for the others. He was my captain and did an incredible job of it.

Center - Dory, a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD! Who was too big to play in the younger league. About 5'8" and 160. Was the most consistent and toughest kid I had out there, and was incredible at center.

Right guard - Sean. 14, 5'10" and about 165. Not the biggest guy out there. Wasn't the fastest either. And at practice didn't really show off his great skills until he got pissed. But on game day, it was the same thing. He came to play. That first play he was shakey, but then BOOM! People got run over.

Right tackle - Lewis. 6ft, maybe a bit taller. And 135 lbs. No that's not a typo, he was a string bean. And slow. However, he knew the assignments and how to zone block almost perfectly and used his head to make sure he was in the right place at the right time.

Back up - Joseph. About 5'8", and 190 lbs. Happiest kid in the world. Couldn't piss him off to save my life. I even told him I was gonna start selling pictures of his mom nekkid and he just grinned at me. Never played football and I only had him for half a season, but he tried his hardest.

Here's the thing about all these kids. Not even Austin, who was fairly athletic, was a natural athlete. None of them had any particularily fantastic skills, and none of them would be picked for other sports to be the super star. However I fought for every single one of these kids to be my guys. Why? Cuz I know the secret of a great offensive line. Six to seven guys who want to work. Who take pride in doing everything the hard way. Who are willing to lay down their bodies to let others grab the glory. A group of guys who will bond together and make a name for themselves as a unit, not as individuals. I've been a part of these groups. I know how to look for them.

And these six guys did it. They became a unit faster than anyone else, and allowed our offense to gel around them. They never once said 'Look at us' they always pointed to our stars like Connor and Burke, and said 'Look at the touchdowns they got!' They worked harder than everyone else, and never once gave up. My guys pushed themselves and each other to keep getting better and better.

And let's not forget that on average, my guys gave up a lot of size to most teams. Most d-lines in the RMF had at least one behemoth who was like 250, and shoulda been playing high school but couldn't for some reason or another. Yet we ran. We ran over people like you wouldn't believe. Our running backs racked up, in 11 total games, over 5000 yards in rushing. And yes we passed. The RMF said they've never seen offensive stats like we put forward. We passed for close to 3000 yards as well.

So let me tell you some stories about my guys. Let me show you the character and the toughness these kids had. Let me tell you why I was so proud of them at the end of the season and why when I said to the captains who had the trophy, 'Y'know you should let the o-line have some time with that thing,' everyone, including the coaches, said 'hell yeah!' and my guys carried that huge beautiful piece of hardware off the field and to the dressing room we were using. They got the honour, they got the privilage of carrying it each and saying 'This is what WE did.' WE, you see that, we, the team. They brought it all back to the team and I was so proud of them.

So lessee. Let's start with my favorite moment from the preseason. Austin, who we were still arguing about where he would be, O or D, and Ben, another big boy who was one of our top d-ends, do a two on two against Dory and Lewis. The two smallest o-lineman out there. I pointed at Austin and Ben and said 'They beat you, you guys should be ashamed.' Then turned to my o-line and said 'Beat'um. Size is irrelevant, we've gone over the technique, and if you want to beat them and you do what you're s'posed to, you'll win.' Sure enough, Dory and Lewis just RAN OVER those two. Drove'um right out of the blocks and dumped'um both on their backs about 10 yards away. I was screaming and cheering and whooping so loud the entire team was looking over. Ben and Austin were embarassed. And this is what made me fight even harder for Austin to be an o-lineman. He got up and he nodded to Dory and looked at me and said 'I got beat. Gotta try harder.' Ben on the other hand waved it off and made light of it. Austin was a leader there, and someone willing to work. Defeat is as telling as winning is.

Another favorite practice moment. Ben was harrassing Sean, and Sean had had enough. In one on ones, Sean destroyed Ben, repeatedly. Every time Ben came in, Sean would shove whoever it was in there out of the way and go against Ben. And he spent the entire session schooling Ben. So proud of that mook. :)

Brandon, he was young, he's going through some tough times. He seemed a bit introverted and almost too quiet. He'd just moved from Calgary, and wasn't sure of himself. Occasionally he got whiney. Drove me nuts. So we're playing the Raiders and they've got this retarded defense where they've stacked two lineman and two linebackers on top of my left guard and tackle. That's Austin and Brandon. And Brandon keeps saying 'I don't know what to do, I get the first but the next guy gets past, what do I do, what do I do what do I do?!' and I finally snapped, I shouted at him 'Look! Just destroy the first idiot that crosses your face, and chances are he'll trip up the next guy stacked!' Brandon shot me a dirty look and said 'Fine' all sulky and stalked off. Next offensive series, I told Mark, our head coach, to send a play right up the 5 hole, which is to the left of the left tackle. He does. And you want to know what Brandon did? Exactly what I told him to do. That d-lineman steps up and Brandon DESTROYS HIM!! I mean just kills him! And sends him flying into the lineman in front of Austin, and both go down, so Austin just covers them so they can't get up. The two linebackers are now coming in hard, and Brandon does it again!! Just DEMOLISHES the lineback and sends him cartwheeling into the other. Both end up in a heap on top of the lineman, and my two stand over these four and hold them down. I'm jumping up and down on the sidelines, screaming and yelling and shouting, and generally looking like a maniac, and the other coaches think I'm pissed because we only got like 3 yards. As the offensive goes to huddle up I yell 'Brandon! Austin!' and they turn and one coach goes 'Take it easy Rich,' thinking I'm gonna freak. And I yell out 'DO IT AGAIN YOU STUDS!! That was exactly right!! DO IT AGAIN!' I explained it to the other coaches and we run to the right, get a first, and we run to the left again, and I'm guessing that my line told Connor where to grab the read cuz sure enough, they do it AGAIN!! They demolish four guys and the entire right side of the Raider's defense, and Conner cuts loose and is GONE! I was so impressed. I honestly cannot stop talking about that moment, it was so cool!

So as I said, a loss is as telling as a win when it comes to character. So is a bad game. Lewis had one of the worst games I've ever seen played on a football field. Guys blew past him, he didn't make any real blocks, only half blocked, and generally he stank up the place. It happens. I don't expect perfection. What I expect is learning a lesson even when a mistake is made. I dunno what was going on with Lewis that day but it was a bad day for him. We discussed it on the field, and afterwards at the next practice. I told him my rule. Making one mistake, and really the way he played I'm sure it was just one looooooong continuing mistake, is not bad. What is bad is making the exact same mistake in the exact same way. He took that to heart. The next game out I watched him just smash guys around. Here's this skinny kid who I'm sure my 12 year old girl is bigger than, just crushing guys in the next game. He came off the field and I grabbed his face mask, gave him a glare and said 'What was that?' He stared right back, smiled and said 'I'm not gonna make the same mistake coach.' And he didn't. He was stellar the rest of the season. So proud of him.

Dory. So he's one of the youngest guys on the field. He's smallish for the age and position. And he's got this totally relaxed demeanor that always throws me off, especially when I watch game film of him playing. You see the 'top' team, the 'Riders, had this big freakin' goon named Cy, who was like 6'4" and 280 lbs, and he was posting YouTube videos about how they were gonna win the championship and how he can crush anyone. Well we outpsyched ourselves and didn't play our game and we lost to the Riders. However one guy did play his game. Dory. See, Cy spent the game lined up on top of Dory. And my guy kicked Cy's ass! I told Dory, 'Make him remember you man. Make a tattoo of your facemask on his fat gut, and make sure he realizes, that you're no push over.' And he did. To this day I'm sure that blowhard has a big cross shaped bruise that will never go away over his belly button, put there by Dory. What a beast!

Finally Joseph. Or Jo-jo. See, I made a joke one day cuz he was not paying attention and I called him 'Joey-jo-jo Shabadue.' Like from the Simpsons. And from that point that was his name Jo-jo. And he didn't become a mascot but he became a rallying point. See, he wasn't very good, but when he did good it drove everyone else to get better. Every special team tackle, every great block, every time he worked hard everyone else worked harder. When he went in as backup, the guys around him stepped up and played harder to help him out and they coached him THEMSELVES to get him up to speed with everyone else. Jo-jo got much better and I'm really looking forward to having him back on the team next year.

So that's my long winded football rant. I loved coaching. And my guys impressed me and made me proud the whole year. They played for their team and crushed other teams within the rules. No dirty play, no smart mouth, nothing but showing they knew their jobs and doing them better than anyone else could. It was fabulous. And I get almost all of them back next year! :) So awesome.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two down two to go.

Come in, the wind is blowing but the den is quiet, I've found some very nice hides that can be strung across the front, and are heavy enough to be wind resistant. And of course, the fire is stoked high. I love big fires!

Second one down, CanLit. MAN I totally riffed out on the essay question and filled 10 pages hand written. And I think it was awesome. Mostly because it flowed out of me with such ease and strength that I was 'oh wow.' It's quite good stuff. If I get it back I'll have to type it out for you folks.

Anyone else ever have that feeling? When you just sit down and BOOM! The idea is there and it writes itself, and in fact you could keep on writing about it if you had more time and some research resources. It was AWESOME! Of course, after a test like that I feel complete drained and very hungry. Burning the brain power is just as energy consuming as burning the body power some times.

Monday, December 8, 2008

One test down

Well, come in and relax with me. I've gotten one test down and another is coming. I've got a real big fire stoked here because I'm enjoying myself and well let's face it, a big fire is fun. It helps the shadows dance, and they like that.

With one test down and three days until the next I can relax a bit. I also enjoyed this test, because I've decided something. While some might consider me intelligent, I'm not one of the brainiac crowd. So rather than try to sound like one I've decided to just be the smart ass I am. I know I have a very distinctive voice when I write in my own style and I think... well better to put it, I know that I am far more capable of writing like myself rather than trying to sound different than the antagonistic jerk I am. So we're going to go for shock and entertainment value. Of course, flashes of wisdom and insight do come through in my mad ramblings, so we'll see if my profs can keep up. Fun times folks. Ejumakashun is fun!

Paradise Lost

Come round and enjoy the fire. It's rather cold out and today I'll be heading off to the final for one of my favorite classes, my Study of John Milton. I've got a lovely home made soup for you as well. Ham bone base, various beans, mushrooms and a couple onions. It is delicious!

One of the things my professor for this class does is every couple three years she puts on a public reading of Paradise Lost. I participated. Read the part of the Son of God. Yeah I know, there are so many jokes about my ego that could be made from this that it's ridiculous. Anyways it was a 12 hour display that I took part in for the WHOLE DAY. I listened and read Paradise Lost for 12 hours. By the time it was over I was ready for a nap. For three days. However I can honestly say it was one of the most incredible experiences I've participated in.

So a funny thing happened during it, which reminded me why I LOVE Futurama. As has been pointed out the show is a bastion of science and technology jokes yet the show also makes quite a few literature based jokes. So here is one of them.

At the end of book 9, Adam and Eve discuss Adam eating the fruit as Eve has done and Eve attempts to convince Adam not to eat, that perhaps if only she has eaten they can make an act of contrition or perhaps Adam can stay in Eden. So Adam declares to Eve that he will chose to follow her without regret. Later, he goes into this long speech that decries Eve for leading him into temptation and says that he should rue ever making such a choice, and he laments falling to Eve's charms.

So in the final episode of season 2 of Futurama is called The Cryonic Woman. Here Fry discovers his girlfriend from 1999 has frozen herself and he unfreezes her. (BTW the girlfriend is voiced by Sarah Silverman and she has this wonderful line that is also an homage to PL when she demands "Oh Fry why do you continue with your relentless logic!") Anyhow, Fry's girlfriend doesn't fit in the year 3001, so she convinces Fry to freeze themselves again for another 1000 years so they can have a fresh start.

Fry agrees, claiming he makes the decision with no regrets. When they come out of the cryo-chamber to emerge into a blasted wasteland, Fry states: "Honey, I just want you to know I don't regret my decision, but I both rue and lament it." I always chuckled at this line, but it seemed so out of place, as it's far more intelligent that Fry usually is, but he has moments of brilliance so I never thought about it. Until the reading of PL.

So there I am in the audience, behind my Professor. And the gentleman reading Adam says these lines, and I immediately react like I've been kicked in the stomach. I want to burst out laughing. However this is a very serious and tension filled moment in the poem. So there I am behind my professor, hunched over, with both my hands clutched over my mouth and nose, making noises like SNERK and GUFORT, and what not, trying not to roll down the aisle in laughter.

My professor turns around and looks at me, concern on her face, and mouths 'Are you ok?' And I nod vigorously, and open my fingers just wide enough to lean over and whisper, 'Tell ya later.' And go back to stiffling my glumps and fffurrrck noises.

I'm tempted to write a paper on the parallels and go into a huge discussion about the meaning of paradise and man's attempt to regain what he's lost, but I think most people would miss the joke.

So go watch Futurama and find your own literary jokes hidden in the show. It's a hoot!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Political Turmoil

Come in come in. In this time of intense division and battle lines being drawn, you can always come here by the fire and sit with me. Silence is such a beautiful thing. Watch the flames, watch the smoke. I offer ... distractions! :)

The Guild already has two episodes up! They aren't doing the same thing as before, with the eps on their website, instead it's on MSN Video. Sponserships! :) So here are the links to enjoy these two eps.

Oh crap the MSN site is fubar'd, and I can't link the second ep. I'm sure they'll fix it, and you'll be able to find it from the first. Enjoy this meaningless distraction within the horribleness that is Canadian politics. :)