The Epic Adventures of a Small Man in a Big World

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Of pumpkins and the obtaining of prizes…

It has come to my attention that I possess a high probability of success when faced with a challenge that has as its central device, a pumpkin. That large orange gourd and I appear to share a unique bond, a bond that consists of that fruit’s(?) uncanny ability to facilitate my winning of prizes. From feats of intellect through to feats of artistry, I have reigned supreme in every pumpkin related contest I’ve participated in, in recent memory… All two of them.

1. A feat of intellect.
Last winter I was cruising the aisles of the Edmonton farmers market, a favorite destination of mine due in large part to the kim chi vendor that existed there. Wandering about I caught sight of a large orange bulbous object in my periphery which, as I’m sure you can guess, was a pumpkin, though a pumpkin of considerable size and girth. Upon closer examination of this fruit(?) it became apparent that this pumpkin was the subject of a challenge, a challenge of intellectual prowess, that being to discern said pumpkins weight. I collected my thoughts, placed them in order, ran through mental formulas and algorithms, stretched my mental fortitude to the limits of my very sanity… and wrote down my answer, the sweat dripping from my brow at the sheer exertion of it all. A few days later I received the call… I had of course, answered correctly. Ten massive buckaroos in my pocket. Cha-Ching!

2. A feat of artistry.
A few days ago I find myself in Montreal in the presence of some of the most lovely of my friends, including one Benjamin Tyne and one Sophia Darling. We hear tell of a local pub that host a weekly arts and crafts night. Possessing in our persons both the love of arts and the love of crafts, we decide to investigate. Walking in we are greeted with the spectacle of a myriad of young adults feverishly engaged in pumpkin carving. We are promptly informed this is a competition… “Hmmm,” I think… “a contest involving pumpkins… my specialty.” And so with the aid of my dear friends Benjamin and Sophia, we obtain a pumpkin and wreak sweet beautiful havoc on its visage. Initially at a loss for ideas we proceed to contemplate what the figure of our fruit(?) might resemble. Being an honorable man I must give credit to where credit is due and provide adequate props to one dapper young gentleman with the name of Derek Colley, an exceptionally fine lad by any consideration, who suggested a pregnant woman’s belly. To which I responded “A fetus!… but not just any fetus… an evil fetus!” , “Terrifying” Benjamin responded. And so the stage was set for the most horrifying of jack o’ lanterns. At this present juncture a dialogue was entered concerning which of our party should design said fetus. Not one of us apparently blessed with any sort of artistic ability, we all seemed hesitant. Eventually, fatefully, the short straw fell upon myself whereupon I mustered ever last iota of artistic strength from within my soul and set to pumpkin what had previously only existed within my mind. Generally there has been a significant disconnect between what exists in my brain and what my hand is able to produce… but this night… this night things were different. For on this night there was a contest involving pumpkins. To the beats of the illustrious and renowned Doctor Dre’s award winning thesis work on Chronic in 2001, I had my way with that pumpkin that night. The result, nothing short of a masterpiece. After my work was done and Benjamin and Sophia had imparted their expert craftsmanship to this glorious work, the stage was set for a heated competition. We went about our nights events with this large gourd ever present in the back of our minds. And finally… finally the judgement was passed. The outcome can of course be guessed… we reigned supreme to the cheering and well-wishing of the infinite masses. The free beer was ours!

The point of all of this… if you find yourself in a contest involving a pumpkin… drop me a line… I have a gift.

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Babies everywhere…

Seriously… babies… everywhere.

Bazan.

I can count on one hand the amount of times the physical presence of someone I didn’t know has caused me to abandon rational thinking and fall into some kind of giddy stupor. Seeing David Bazan walk down Bloor Street in my general direction was one of those instances. David Bazan… I really am a huge fan of that dude. I’ve mentioned this before but it’s a particularly relevant thought for me at this point.

You see, last night I scratched a significant item off my life’s to do list, an item that has been on that list for many a year, that being to see David Bazan live in concert. I will actually go out on a limb and say it was the best concert I have ever been to. Best… ever. He played selections from his whole catalogue of work, selections that sounded better live than I even thought they could. I have never been to a show where I knew more of the words to the songs being sung or felt more impacted by those words… truly tremendous… like actually, my mind was blown and I was pretty much in a state of ecstasy the entire evening. Wow…. just wow. I didn’t talk to the guy, I didn’t want to be that dude… you know the dude I’m talking about… but I will one of these days… maybe at a living room show. So many questions I have…

Anyhow…. some dude offered David $50 canadian to play this song… he wouldn’t do it but he did in San Francisco. After watching this you should go listen to more of his music… I think that you’ll love it.

The simple things.

Exhibit A:

The other night I donned a mesh back ball cap, a sports related t-shirt and found my way to the Peterborough Demolition Derby. Now me and the derby, we go way back. You see, attending the Peterborough Demolition Derby is a Jardin family tradition dating back to my early childhood. Every year come the Peterborough Ex my parents and I would make the trek to those hallowed exhibition grounds to take in what could affectionately be referred to as some “X-TREME AUTOMOBILE CARNAGE”. We’d find our seats on the old wooden bleachers amongst beer swilling chauches and their trophy girlfriends and proceed to be deafened by a visual display that undoubtedly resembles the machinations of a five year old’s imagination. Turns out the parents are keeping the tradition alive as they could also be found at the demolition derby this year immersed within the general revelry.

The truth is, revisiting this family tradition years down the road I’ve realized entertainment doesn’t get any baser than that which can be derived from cars smashing into one another and yet I write these words to admit that there is a part of me that still maintains a profound appreciation for the basic artistry that is found in the derby. I think it amounts to that which I would cite as one of life’s greatest pleasures… throwing stuff at other stuff. I am of the impression that a good many of life’s greatest joys can be simplified in terms and definitions to throwing stuff at other stuff… good sports, good fights, good challenges. And a demolition derby, when brought down to its basic elements, is essentially throwing cars at other cars… stuff at other stuff.

So go about your day, throw something at something else… maybe off of something else or onto something else and tell me it doesn’t make your day go by just a little smoother, relieves just a little tension, makes you feel just a little better, a little more alive. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover there’s something to it, that there’s a reason hundreds and thousands of people line up all over this continent to see cars kick the crap out of each other every year. I think you might be surprised by what you find.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

So I’m sure you’ve all noticed my absence from this blog as of late and have been shedding bitter tears over its inactivity… … … Simply put, I was surprising people. If you have failed to see my semi-clean shaven face wandering around town by this point then you probably don’t live in Peterborough… for I have made that final hop, skip, and jump from Northern Ontario to what I affectionately refer to as “home”. In Peterborough again a year and a third later I have spent the last week connecting with all of the magnificently fabulous people I refer to as “friends.” In a word it has been “swell.” It is much the same as when I left and yet slightly tweaked… things are ever so slightly not the same, enough to make me feel ever so slightly alien. So here I am and I am here for August… if you’re around, keep an eye out for me. We’ll totally hang out.

The School of Hard Knocks.

As many of you who are familiar with me are familiar, I generally tend to approach people with a good-natured attitude and what can simply be defined as blind faith in the trustworthiness and good moral standing of anyone and everyone. This is perhaps unwise as one might gleam from amongst the pages of various life lessons provided us by the school of hard knocks… a lesson that I have as recently as this morning learnt.

You see, I done got robbed… by a Hell’s Angel no less. Actually after a visit to the police station I learned I got thieved… robbed involves assault. However, I have already learned from the school of hard knocks about what it is to get robbed… that story is for another day though.

The story of getting thieved is thus. I am standing on the trans-canada in the midst of the urban sprawl that is known as Calgary, Alberta yesterday morning around 7 o’clock. I am slowly recognizing after wandering on to four or five exit ramps and standing at the side of the highway for a good long while that no one is going to pick me up this close to the urban sprawl that is Calgary, Alberta. After some determined efforts however I manage to flag down someone, someone who turns out to be a dude in his mid to late 50’s with a handlebar moustache and heavily tattooed arms. He quickly ushers me into the car as apparently it is illegal to hitchhike within the midst of Calgary, Alberta. Turns out he is heading to Medicine Hat where he is visiting his daughter… perfect.

So we go to Medicine Hat having a nice chat along the way about our lives and interests and what have you… he seems a solid fellow minus being a bit rough around the edges. Upon reaching Medicine Hat and contacting his daughter it appears she is in this small town a couple hours down the road, whose name I can’t remember, visiting her cousin. So we continue on to said small town whose name I can’t remember to meet up with said daughter. Upon reaching said small town it appears the daughter has moved on to his other daughters house in Swift Current, whereupon we continue on to Swift Current in the hopes of attending what is quickly turning out to be a small family reunion… all the while getting to know one another quite thoroughly.

As we talk and he figures out my plan to visit my bff Thom in Northern Ontario, he suggests he drive me all the way there. Only snag is, apparently he has made too many transactions on his bank card which has now been disconnected because his bank thinks it’s been compromised. So he suggest I foot the gas bill until we get to Winnipeg wherein some transaction will go on with a friend of his and I will be reimbursed. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea to me as it will get me through the bleakness that are the Prairies in no time.

So we continue on driving, stopping in Brandon for a snooze and continuing to learn about one another whereupon I find out that he is a long serving member of the Hells Angels and a Wiccan to boot of which I now have a much more thorough understanding on both accounts… having cleared up a number of misconceptions. All in all, though despite his checkered past he seems a kind fellow who appears to genuinely think highly of me, going so far as to leave me in his car alone with the keys in the ignition on a few separate occasions.

Things are all well and good until we hit Winnipeg. He talks to his friend on the phone who asks him the favour of picking up some assorted implement at Canadian Tire on his way over. I on the other hand need to achieve access to the internet so as to get ahold of Thomas. So we find an internet cafe where I go about my business while he goes about his, with the understanding that he will be by shortly to pick me up and we shall carry on our way. Problem is, the part wherein he will be by shortly to pick me up never comes to fruition. I call the number he has given me under the pre-tense that I should have a place to stay when I am next in BC and hear from a woman that she gets calls about this man all the time and that apparently he is bad news… apparently. So I am left on the streets of Winnipeg a couple hundred dollars poorer and without a dojigger to my name minus the clothes on my back and the wallet that is fortunately adorning my pocket.

Turns out the friendly old man who drove me halfway across the country wasn’t actually so friendly. Turns out this friendly old man is an absurdly excellent actor… either that or I am an absurdly easily fooled person. Probably the latter. Having said all this, I have not condemned humanity… and in fact I forgive that dude and pity the fact that he derives any sort of meaning or pleasure from preying on trusting people. So I shall continue to place my trust in people… but with caution, for the school of hard knocks has taught me well. And really, it’s only material possessions… no big deal… easily replaceable.

So I have made a trip to MEC and recovered from store shelves in small part my lost items. The kicker is, the attendant who was helping me get sorted out is involved in couchsurfing and I am now writing this from her house. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… people are good. As a whole people are good.