Talking to History

After meeting him at the White House for the first time, legendary writer/blogger Connor Mclean, winner of two Nobel Prizes and numerous other smaller awards, agreed to sit down for a brief interview with me. Here is an excerpt:

What is your favourite style of writing?

No doubt fiction. From there I love all kinds of different writing, including poetry, storytelling and character profiles. I have never enjoyed non-fiction writing too much: the story has already been told, and there is only one course of action you can take. The opportunity to create endless worlds, people and anything else you choose is way more fascinating.

Who inspired you to start writing seriously?

Many English teachers along the way were quick to compliment my writing and encourage me, while still being critical enough for me to feel a need to improve and keep striving to be better. Mr. Langford in grade eight was definitely a big contributor, and once I got to high school both Ms. Smid and Ms. Smith were praising of my work and gave me confidence to explore all different aspects of writing.

What is your favourite sports team?

There are two- The Ottawa Senators and Indianapolis Colts. Being from Ottawa, I love the Pesky Sens and were jubilant that they managed to win the Stanley Cup back in 2013. Football is also my favourite sport and the Colts are without doubt my favourite sports team of any sport outside of the city. With great executives and players, they are the golden standard of all organizations and one of the biggest loves of my life.

Fishing For (Hopefully) Nothing

Somewhere in the depths of my subconscious, a fish feeds off my fear and lurks in my nightmares. It has been forever since I can remember that I have had an immense fear of fish. Not fish of any particular distinction, as catfish, goldfish and jellyfish scare me alike and will run me out of any water clear enough for me to spot these vile creatures. I do not know from where I developed such an “irrational fear”, as my friends and family try to persuade me, but there is nothing on Earth that scares me quite like fish, not heights or snakes or spiders. I was never the strongest swimmer, and therefore never felt that comfortable to begin with in water. This was despite the fact that I took swimming lessons for a couple weeks every year at the Carleton pool. Starting from the younger years around seven or eight, I started to notice the big dark grate that was positioned at the bottom of the wall in the deep end. Evil thoughts began to creep in my head, and no matter how hard I tried to convince myself that all there would be in it was water, chlorine and the odd pair of goggles, I was certain there was a giant squid that lurked behind the bars. After every stroke of back crawl, every breath in front call and every kick in breast stroke, I would do a full turn and make sure I wasn’t being followed by a lethal sea creature. Teachers began to ask questions and I did my best to hide it, but I have yet to be able to overcome this very rational fear I have of the scariest beings in the world.

What Have You Been Hitting?

There were news stations, newspapers and even hockey “experts” who cried foul on the hit Eric Gryba from the Ottawa Senators laid on Montreal’s Lars Eller. And then the chief disciplinarian of the NHL, Brendan Shanahan suspended Gryba two games of their first round playoffs series for the alleged malicious hit that seemed to knock Eller unconscious and send him immediately to the hospital. While there is no place for injuries of any kind in sports, it is appalling that this young hockey player got suspended and was kicked out of the game. First of all, Gryba is 6″4 while Eller is 5″11. Even still, there was minimal contact to the head as it was evident in all angles that Gryba did not have intent to injure, use his elbow or target the head. While all of Montreal screamed that it was reckless and dangerous and illegal, the league acted quickly to suspend this clean hit. Had Eller not been injured or if Gryba was not a first year player barely known around the league, there certainly would have been no disciplining on the league’s part. However because the league tries so hard in fruitless efforts to remove headshots from hockey, they felt that because a player got a head injury it meant immediate suspension. It was obvious that the large part of his injury came from hitting his head on the ice, but the NHL decided to suspend a player because of the result and not because of the primary event. It is disgraceful as hockey’s superstars would never have been suspended for this clean hit and the league has not shown it is weak, dumb and in desperate need of its fan base.

Dinner for Two

A list of people who I would have loved to been able to invite over for dinner.

 

Tupac Shakur

His inspirational music and messages contradicted his gangster rapper persona, and I’d love the chance to discuss his views on society and the world as well as the thug side of him, including how hard it was for him growing up in the projects being raised by a single mom with a crack addiction.

 

Nicolas Flamel

Alchemy is such an interesting subject, and although much of it has been proven to be false, it would be cool to talk to this European alchemist and learn exactly what is myth and what secrets anyone may have discovered.

 

Terry Fox

While perhaps a “cliche” choice for many Canadians, he nonetheless lives up to the hype as an inspiration to all and it would be fabulous for an opportunity to listen to his wisdom and motivational speech.

 

Jackie Robinson

The first African American to play professional baseball in America was the recipient of many lifetimes of criticism and to hear about his life struggles and how he was able to overcome these obstacles would be fascinating.

 

William Shakespeare

While not the greatest Shakespeare fan in any social circle, it would be great to be able to learn the truth behind all the doubt about whether or not it really was him that wrote some of the greatest plays in history.

 

Alexander the Great

He is the ultimate warrior and would have earfuls of interesting stories from his experiences in battles.

 

 

 

No Place Like Home

Towering above everything else around it, the tall rickety house dwarfed the thin, frail trees around it only in height. Even with their roots almost entirely above ground, they were still more secure than the brown, brick building that had now been abandoned for decades. Nearly three stories tall, the foundation was non-existent as the basement windows were now being swallowed up by ground around them. There was no more front door and it lay face down in the grey dirt at the feet of the property. Thick concrete pillars were all that seemed to support the crumbling bricks, and with large cracks running through all of them the inevitable ruin of the house was looming quite near. The muddy siding enveloping the outer walls were all flaky, and each gust of wind scratched more dead skin off the body. Loose shingles threatening anything that surrounded the steep roofs and windows covered with stronger spider webs than the glass itself, the once-proud estate gazed down upon the barren landscape with a sinister look. The grass that had once been so prosperous was now long gone and it would be a short time before the half-dozen malnourished trees met their demise as well.The chimney had fallen off in its entirety and lay in pieces to the side of the house, scattered about as the curious birds of prey that lived nearby wondered whether they would be of any use in building a nest. Like everything else about house, they weren’t.

Old is the New New!

Tired of being unable to pronounce the name of your phone? The model of iPhone too high for you to count? Well I think it’s time for Blackberry to make it’s comeback. Sure, we haven’t made profits in years, but we guarantee this phone to be at least as good as the third iPhone, if not better!

We’ve added a bunch of new awesome features for any techies who think we at RIM have lost a step. For example, texting! While this has been a struggle of ours, the remaining staff still employed by  Blackberry have managed to build a secure connection between your phone and our service towers in order for your texts to actually always go through.

Another perk is our battery. Our new and improved ultra-lightweight battery now lasts fifteen minutes as opposed to the ten our previous line of phones have had. This is a 50% increase!

While adding cool features, we’ve made sure to keep your old favourites still aboard. We still do not have a touch screen and have kept the trackpad for another consecutive year in order to benefit all you folk who like buttons not touch screens. And in case anyone was wondering, our screens still freeze and go black, so that no matter what you’re doing you’ll still have the chance to have your phone die on you.

The best part of all, is that upon release day there won’t be any long lines to stand in! So make your way down to the nearest store that still sells Blackberry’s and by the new Blackberry Brick for only 2.99$! No insurance available.

A satirical commercial for a future Blackberry product directed towards technology-savvy folk.

So You Want To ‘Nuck Up?

Canada is a wonderful place,  but if you’re not familiar with the way we do things up here in the North, it can be frightening. Whether you’re new to the country or have lived here your whole life, here are three easy steps to help anyone achieve their inner Canuck.

1. First and foremost, you need to have the mentality that everyone in the country is more important than you. If at any point you lose this notion, and put your values above someone else’s, you will immediately be looked down upon from society and most likely exported to America. This includes, but is not limited to: going first at a stop sign, cutting only your own lawn and not your neighbours, and keeping your coat in the cold as opposed to giving it to any slightly under-dressed woman.

2. Apologize for everything. Accept the fact that you are always at fault and make it clear you regret the position you’re in. As opposed to popular belief, it is rude to use a washroom in someone’s house, so be sure to apologize if you do. Also, if you ever make any contact with anyone whether it be walking or getting in an elevator, make sure they know you’re sorry. These are just a few examples of your multitude of wrongdoings.

3. Always complain about the weather, no matter what temperature it is, with no exceptions. However if on vacation abroad, brag about how you cope with Canada’s harsh weather so easily.

These are a couple simple steps, but if you do them properly you’ll be a Canadian in no time.

A how-to article for foreigners on how to be Canadian.

Tagging In Urban Environments

In a world with more problems than it has people, there are some minor problems that will never be fixed and we must adjust and move on. However, the recent “tagging” epidemic that has seized our civilization is a major item of concern that needs to be dealt with now. I am referring to the act of removing the small tags off fruit, vegetables and other goods in grocery stores. This is a serious concern that affects 37 of every 89 applicable products and has been increasing at a rate of 26% over the last ten years. Whether it is an addiction that adults cannot control, or simply children thinking it’s entertaining peeling off the label from a fruit, there is no excuse for such criminal activity. Since 1999, I now have to stand in line for an average 45 seconds longer as the cashier frantically scans her computer for the produce that matches my purchase. This is simply unacceptable. I demand the right for my fruits and vegetables to be scanned at checkout, as opposed to having to stand around as if I’m a rookie at buying groceries. I propose that each grocery store be federally mandated to impose one security guard in the produce section to ensure that no more people waste MY time ripping the tags off MY food. Parents, if you catch your children doing so, this is an early indication of criminal intentions and I suggest a one year stint at a boarding school to make sure they don’t turn to a life of crime. It’s time to smarten up folks,  this behaviour is simply not acceptable in today’s culture.

Prompt: Letter addressed to fellow citizens

A Chicken For Conflict

The hamburger contrasted entirely with the man behind it. The thick, sloppy beef sandwich was being devoured by Poulet, a slender sharp-looking lawyer representing his client’s interests in a lunch meeting with the mayor. Ketchup and mustard dripping from all sides, crispy lettuce tossed on haphazardly, a bun soaked with grease, not the meal you would expect from a man who spends ninety minutes a day ironing his suit and hasn’t slept in past 5:30 since his freshman year.

“We both know my client has photos of you with your mistress. He asks for an early hearing for his parole scheduled next year.”

The mayor wanted to scream out that this would be ridiculous but simply dipped his shrimp back in the hot sauce. When he realized that he had yet to eat any of his meal, or entreé, as he was not feeling too hungry today, he slowly nibbled on the end of the pale crustacean. It was soggy by now from the excess dipping, and had lost most of its transparency. The five shrimp were all he had ordered and in between small bites he managed: “I will talk to the police commissioner, I’m sure something can be worked out.”

The mayor reached for his drink, his third rum and coke this lunch, and drank it all, peering into the empty glass that was supporting his nervous system as if it were a crystal ball giving him guidance. He wiped his forehead with his napkin, leaving a faint trace of the red hot sauce, then excused himself and rushed to the bathroom where he vomited up the single shrimp he had eaten.

Prompt: Lunch between two people

Call It Like You Hear It

“Where’s the telephone? I need to phone James and see if he’s all right”
She passed him the phone: “Don’t be using up all those minutes, that phone only has 30 left!”

The young man sat in the back of a cave, scratching the dead skin cells from his arm. He had been with those around him for the past three months, living in secret, feeding off whatever scraps of meat they could scrounge up in the mountains. He was part of a covert terrorist cell, ready to do whatever their leader asked. His cell phone rang and he heard: “Stop the project, we’re going to start promoting world peace.”

“Clear!”, they all barked into their microphones. Once they reached the last room on the second floor, it was evident the house was empty. The cops all holstered their handhelds, except the rookie James, who liked the feel of the revolver in his hand. Finally the captain picked up his phone and said into the handheld: “They’re not here.”

The captain closed his phone and put the receiver back in his pocket and said to his group: “They’re in the cave, this is what we’ll do…”. The plan was to have James, who at six and a half feet stood bigger than most football linebackers but was faster than most receivers, chase the terrorists down the tunnel at the back of the cave. There would be receivers at the other end of the tunnel who would then capture the terrorists as they ran towards them. This was the plan.

Prompt: Paragraphs using synonyms