Final Departure

hurtling heavenward
armrests clung tight
g-force pins bodies
propulsion burns bright

ignorant Houston
oblivious crew
awestruck observers
all wait for stage two

water had frozen
ring breach failure
exploding disaster
numb, silence, vapor

——————————————————————————————————————

This is my response to Trifextra: Week Seventy-Seven where I was given the three words below and asked to give back thirty of my own, making a grand total of thirty-three words.

ring
water
stage

Admittedly, I’m not normally poetic (by any stretch of the imagination, nor by education), but was inspired to make my earlier work in progress into the poem above…

The astronauts hurtled heavenward with armrests gripped and g-force imprisoned bodies.  The crew-members eagerly anticipated stage two.  Oblivious to Houston, Challenger, and observers alike, a ring had failed.  The Challenger disaster was imminent.

Thanks for reading.  Your comments are encouraged!

Trifextra: Week Seventy-Seven
Trifextra: Week Seventy-Seven
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Lost Translations

I’d run across this photo a long time ago, but do not recall ever seeing this sign when I visited Leningrad in 1987 (now called St. Petersburg).

I especially like the stick figure art.  It’s clever, humorous, sarcastic, and not what I’d expect from screeners in the former USSR.
Untitled

Untitled by the Real Janelle

The Real Janelle (whoever you really are) posted this to her Flickr account back in 2007 with these very witty English translations.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sign01

1) No riding into the fortress on armored tanks saluting Hitler.

Sign02

2) No samples at the deli

Sign03
3) No miniature rocking horses

Sign04
4) No suicides, please, this is not the Brooklyn bridge

Sign05
5) No smooth jazz

Sign06
6) No underpants

Sign07
7) No ski-jumping

Sign08
8) No loss of depth perception

Sign09
9) No Don King hairstyles

Sign10
10) No drinking whilst holding a lamppost, lest you become electrocuted

Sign11

11) No flying bicycles, with or without extra terrestrial

Sign12

12) No supermodels, they break like sticks

May the former KGB never hunt you down for creating laughter against the former Soviet Union.  Stay safe the Real Janelle!

First Daze

The last thing I remember was the close up of patient’s eye.  Everything was copacetic right up until the surgical instrument extracted the metal filing.  My blood galloped to meet the floor and my body, the traitor, was helpless but to follow.

I was reawakened as classmates struggled to upright me.  “Are you okay?  You don’t look so good.”

“No, I’m fine.  Eye injuries just make me squeamish.”  The momentary humiliation stung.

“Mr. Dyck.  You’re excused for today.  Tomorrow, we start the real course material.”

How could I protest after being unceremoniously unseated on my first day?

I had been warned about the gory nature of the shop’s safety film and its aim to scare safety mindfulness into freshmen.  Putting forth my bravest face, I had grossly overestimated my ability to muster mind over matter.

I stumbled woozily onto the bus while fumbling to produce my monthly pass.  Defeated, I slumped into the seat and burrowed my head into my jacket.  My eyes stared blankly at the pedantic transit advertisements.

The transit meandered its way to my home with ceaseless stops and starts.

The girl seated in front of me looked around with a gaze that differed than most.  When had she gotten on the bus?   The Camwest Center?

With the most devilish grin from ear-to-ear, the girl turned to face me.

Next Stop

 She clasped something in her left hand.   A similar substance was on her cheek.  At first glance, I guessed chocolate.  The whiff that followed clarified otherwise.  It was a defecating matter!

My stomach contents ejected upward while my hand grasped desperately for the next stop rope.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

With breakfast in my mouth, I rushed the rear door.  The ride stopped.  I exited, expelled, exhaled, and embraced fresh air.  Sweet fresh air!

My composure was nearly regained as the next bus arrived.  Once boarded, seated, and mildly relieved, I couldn’t help but notice the constant trickle of passengers from the earlier bus, all being picked up along the way.

———————————————————————————————————————-

The above is my response to Trifecta: Week Seventy-Eight where this week’s word is pedantic (adjective)

1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant(see pedant)
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned
3 : unimaginative, pedestrian

The challenge requires my response to be between 33 and 333 words.  The word must be used once in its third definition.

My response’s story idea stems from a real-life situations experienced by my roommate on either his first or second day at SAIT (over 20 years ago).  Good or bad, it was the first thing that sprung to mind when I looked up pedantic.

The Farewell

Jim&Pam_2

Leave it to me to get all sappy about the ending of a TV show…  As you may or may not know, this was the last season for NBC’s The Office.  Eight and something-something seasons later, the show’s finale aired last night.  It didn’t disappoint.

Seinfeld is the last significant television finale still etched in my memory.  Nearly everyone I ever know who watched Seinfeld felt the same annoyance I felt towards its final episode.  How could such an epic Thursday night tradition have ended so poorly?  It still turns my stomach to think about it.

Conversely, The Office couldn’t have ended better.  It left me smiling, laughing, saddened, but most importantly, it resolved the story(and unlike Seinfeld, didn’t leave you wondering if the show you’d watched for so-long might have only been half as good as you remember).  I was one of those few people who followed the show from season one.  Over the last week, I’ve been asking my peers, mostly co-workers, if they happen to watch The Office.  Once again, I’m one of the few.  So nine seasons later, what’s changed?   Now at least everyone knows of or about the show, even if they don’t watch it.

Back in spring 2005, the concept of The Office was new and novel.  It immediately peaked my interest with its documentary feel and character camera interviews (like soliloquies or confessions caught on tape).  And it was about work, and those were the days when I actually felt passion and worth just going to work.

The Office made a second season, and its fandom at my own workplace grew (likely because I was avidly promoting it).  Using my VCR, I would faithfully record the show on Thursdays, and during Fridays’ lunch break, my co-workers and I would bust-a-gut laughing out loud while watching the recording.  Like Miami Vice (Friday nights of my youth), Saturday Night Live (Saturday nights of my youth), and Simpsons (I can’t recall what night of my youth), watching The Office with a group of people makes the experience that much better.  Maybe like in a theatre or cinema, viewers feed off of each other’s emotions and reactions.

TheOfficeUKI’ve watched and appreciate the BBC’s The Office, but not nearly as much as States-side recreation.  Looking at each adaptation of The Office TV show, they differ so much as to practically exist on different planets (not just continents).  The intro scene into the BBC version seems sad, nearly dismal if not depressing, and the intro cinematography makes the show almost look more industrial than about an office.  But credit indeed goes to Ricky Gervais for creating the concept and for getting the whole idea rolling.

So what made The Office different from other television sitcoms?  It was the characters and the setting.  The personalities on the show were both believable and yet over-the-top funny.  So often, the show’s characters could seem so real, down-to-earth, and relatable, while other times you knew the story writers were taking you on some wild goose chase.  And their stories played out in an office space where just about anyone might relate.  Other times, the first person filming of scenes left the viewer actually feeling like part of the cast.Quad_Desk

What will I miss most about The Office?

I’ll miss the emotion that Michael Scott could awake in me–at times I just couldn’t help but root for him because he was the ultimate underdog.  Other times, he would leave me cringing or bubble up with anger.

The cast, while looking more like average folks, rather than Hollywood supermodels, had the ability to capture the viewer’s attention (and often their heart).  At different points in the story, substance rather than superficial made me appreciate each personality for who they were (or developed into).

Watching The Office often ended up being therapeutic… helping me appreciate the quirky nature of working with others, and to realize that the craziest day at my work seldom matched the madness portrayed on the TV show.

A few of my favorite scenes from The Office:

Megadesk
Quad Desk
Booze Cruise
Lip Dub Intro
Princess Unicorn
Finer Things Club
Dwight’s Concussion
Jim playing Call of Duty
Holly doing Yoda Impression
Michael Scott Paper Company
Death Bus (actually called Work Bus)
Michael Scott’s wearing a Woman’s Suit
Creed coloring his hair black to look younger
Identity Theft — When Jim steels Dwight’s look.
Holly, the new HR person, thinks Kevin is retarded
Andy sings to Angela with backing from the friends on phones
Dropping a water melon from  atop of the building onto the trampoline
Dwight reading the speech Jim wrote for him at the Paper Sales Conference

(and too many more to list)

So after spending nine years tagging along, thanks  for the smiles, stories, and laughs!

Do you have a favorite scene or storyline you related to in The Office?  Leave me a comment 🙂

Being naivE

Image

Many years ago, when I worked in Parks and Rec, the bottled water craze had newly infiltrated society.  Some coworkers of mine bought into the belief that the tap water they’d been drinking for years was now unhealthy compared to the new bottled water alternatives.  My water-drinking associates even preferred certain brands of bottled water over others because, apparently, certain companies made better tasting water.  Not than anyone here on earth really makes water; It’s more an art involving filtration. To me, it all just tasted like water.

I also think holding bottled water made people feel attractive.  If you compaired a mental snapshot of me drinking water from a tumbler (freshly poured from the tap) to any of my coworkers drinking from one of their branded bottles, 9 times out of 10 times their drinking definitely looked cooler and sexier.  Mind you, most of them were young women, fit life guards, and looked both cooler and sexier than me doing almost anything.

Bottled water also became, dare I say, fashionable?!  A person might stroll into a room, OR that same person might stroll into a room with a bottled water in hand.  Did the person with the bottle look thirsty?  No, not really.  Did they look prepared?  I suppose, but not boy scout overly prepared.   That bottled water portrayed the drinker as enlightened, and made statement that tap water and drinking fountains were unfit for their lips (which reminds me of a movie… but read on).naive

As you may have guessed, bottled water was never important to me.  Sadly for both the world and I, neither was fashion.  At some point, someone brought it to my attention that evian spelled in reverse was naive.  This pretty much solidified in my mind that I would never become a bottled water toting person.  It seemed very naive indeed.

dutch_parking

Being naive was something I hoped not to be. Try as I might, I couldn’t avoid it forever.  In 2000. I moved into a four-plex rental in Edmonton.  The buildings were converted military barracks and had huge backyards without fences.  At the end of the backyard was the community gravel pad for parking, and at the end of my designated parking was this sign that read DUTCH PARKING ONLY.

I’d never heard of the “dutch parking” term .  Did it refer to a method of parking like angle parking?  Maybe it was like going dutch on a date?  I noticed some of the neighbors parked bumper to bumper, two cars deep.  Was that the elusive dutch parking method?  This was Edmonton after all, and I was the new guy.  Maybe along with Edmonton’s crazy traffic circles, dutch parking might have been a unique regional term.

When the property manager stopped by to have me sign some paperwork, I asked her about dutch parking.  She looked confused.  I pointed at the sign and wondered out loud what it meant.  She rolled her eyes and said, “It would be removed if it bothered me that much.”  The light finally went on in my head; it was ethnic humor placed by the previous tenant.  Now I was the one rolling my eyes, but at myself.

While writing about bottled water and being naive, drinking fountains came to mind.  I can actually remember the few drinking fountains in my life that provided reasonable satisfaction.  As a thirsty kid, nothing was more annoying than a drinking fountain that lacked water pressure.  Nobody wanted to suck the water from a public fountain. blah!  I’d rather have kissed a girl.  Later in life, I still rather kiss a gal.

The most memorable drinking fountain movie scene from my youth had to be in Michael J. Fox’s Secret of My Success movie (1987).

I can’t help but smirk at the sappy David Foster tune playing in the background, or how Helen Slater’s hair style looks eerily like Princess Diana, but that was the 80s.  Had the movie been shot two or three years later, I doubt she would have been sipping from the drinking fountain.  I’m guessing it would have been from a plastic bottled water.

Ah Snap! Another One Bites the Dust

The other day I was Googling help about an MS Word dictionary issue, and noticed this in the margin of the page…

Roger_Ebert_Dies_at_70

Immediate disappointment rolled over me like dark clouds.  “Ah Snap!  Another one bites the dust.”  (Insert my sigh, here).  People old enough to remember the PBS program Sneak Previews or At the Movies may experience similar sadness when hearing about Roger Ebert’s passing.

When I was a kid, I’m guessing twelve years old, some Saturday afternoon I stumbled across this television show called At The Movies.  It was rare that interesting shows appeared on channel 13 (a cable  PBS feed from Washington), but this one caught my attention.  Going to the theater as a child was novel and happened seldom.  Disney’s The Rescuers was the first movie I ever saw, and the whole experience was especially memorable.  For some reason, the popcorn and candy at the theater tasted amazing compared to any at home.  Despite my shoes sticking to the floors, the fold-down theater seating was cool, the sound was louder than any TV, and the screen was wider than my eyes could see.

The idea that a couple guys, dare I say friends, went to multiple movies every week for a job seemed heaven-like.  One of the shows’ introductions included a clip of each guy sneaking up to the balcony which was of course closed.  Ah, even more forbidden fruit… sneaking into places a person wasn’t aloud.  So cool!  And up until that point, the thought that a movie might be deemed “bad” hadn’t really crossed my naive mind.

I came to realize Siskel and Ebert were strongly opinionated fellows and seemed to enjoy arguing their points.  Sharing heated opinions drew my attention like a spectacle since my parents seldom argued and in my elementary school, students weren’t yet encouraged to debate each other.

From that point onward I was a fan of Siskel & Ebert, but wasn’t faithful to watch every episode.  As a teenager, I was shocked, nearly hurt for Roger Ebert, when Slappy Squarell on The Animaniacs had made fun of him and the duo during this episode:

Some of it was obviously good satire, but at about 8 minutes into the clip, Slappy serves Roger Popcorn at the theater’s candy counter and offers him “artificial butter” which is horrifically  liposuctioned from Ebert’s belly while he stands there.  That scene left me momentarily stunned and remains vividly etched in my memory two decades afterwards.

I was saddened when Gene Siskel’s died due to complications from brain cancer.  Richard Roeper was a decent enough fill-in, but the new duo’s magic was lopsided towards Roger.  I pretty much gave up on the show when Roger was forced to leave due to his own battle with thyroid cancer.

In 2011 I rediscovered Roger Ebert online at http://www.ebertpresents.com/ and although his reviews were limited and read by other actors, it was encouraging to see him doing his thing.  Roger Ebert hosted an interesting and unusual interview with Quvenzhané Wallis who starred in the film Beasts Of The Southern Wild. During the interviewed Roger, mostly off camera, uses his computer to interview the talanted young girl. At the end of the sequence we Quvenzhané shaking hands with him.

Unlike me, Roger Ebert was a critic of intelligent design, an atheist, and a secular humanist.  Shortly after the film Prometheus, I discovered an exhaustive blog where Roger Ebert and folks debated intelligent design with Randy Masters and others for nearly 700 posts.  It turns out the Roger and Randy had done this once before on some thread that lasted 3600 posts.  Randy Masters, a conservative and being on the opposite side of nearly everything Roger Ebert believed, found a genuine friend in his virtual sparring partner:

http://rmasters78.blogspot.ca/2013/04/roger-ebert-american-treasure-has-gone.html?showComment=1365162354502

I think Randy Masters saw the same personable fellow I first saw on the TV.  Sure, Roger was hard headed in his opinions, but his flawed humanity made him likable, and his passions for film review was inspirational.  Here’s a clip how Ebert started out on TV…

http://siskelandebert.org/video/GWHWHKY3W9R7/Opening-SoonOne-Flew-Over-the-Cuckoos-Nest

Farewell Mr.Klein

klein

When I was in later elementary school, Mayor Ralph Klein came to visit my school’s Pioneer Days.   That was my first memory of him.  I don’t remember many details about Pioneer Days, nor anything about what he said that evening, but I certainly remember Mr. Klein.  As one might expect, the Mayor made an address to the full gymnasium of families.  Being in grade school, full of energy, and most interested in all things play, I  never took note that after the event, Mr. Klein patiently stayed to interact one-on-one with the oodles of parents.   On the way home that evening, my own parents remarked to each other how Mr. Klein had opted to meet and greet instead of bowing to his handlers’ wishes for him to depart for their next appointment.  My parents’ observation left an impression upon me.  Ralph Klein was a man of the people, and if the people wanted to talk, he was there to listen.

In early High School, a casual friend named Chris Burnie bragged about how he was chastised by the actual mayor, Ralph Klein, for making out with his girlfriend on the steps of City Hall.

A couple years later, a girl I was dating happened to live a couple doors down from the Klein’s home in Calgary’s Lakeview Community.  That relationship didn’t last, and sadly we never ran into the Kleins while walking her neighborhood during those warm summer nights.

The first time I ever voted in a provincial election, Ralph Klein became Premier.  Friends, out of the country during the election, came back stunned to discover that King Ralph now ruled Alberta.

Other friends I made while working in Halifax remarked to me about how offended they had been at Ralph Klein’s statement about how those “eastern bums could freeze!”  It turns out that he wrongly gets credit for saying it, but actually never did say it (as reported here in Macleans).  Never the less, it does indeed sound like something Ralph Klein might say;  he was a fellow who spoke his mind and seldom worried about being politically correct.

I was fortunate to be an Albertan when Premier Klein sent out those infamous Ralph Bucks.  I can’t recall how I spent my $400 prosperity cheque, but it sure made my friends and me smile.  I still smile when I think about it.

My Uncle, who retired and moved back from Japan a few years ago, has facial features that remind me of Ralph Klein.  I appreciate both my Uncle Les and Former Premier Ralph Klein, and for different reasons.  Strangely, whenever I look at one of them, I’m often reminded of the other.

In Ralph Klein’s later years, things seemed to catch up with him.  I remember when in 2004 the news reported about his plagiarism in essay writing.  Disappointing as it was to hear, this wasn’t a surprise to me.  If Ralph had been my a friend or relative,  he definitely would have been the last person to ask about citing references on a paper.  I was also never surprised when Klein’s alcoholism occasionally reared its ugly head in the media.   Did we honestly expect differently from a fellow who ran his first shoe-string mayoral campaign out of St. Louis Hotel & Bar?  Along with the good also came the bad.  Flawed like one of us, once again, he was indeed a man of the people.

I’m saddened to hear that Ralph Klein passed on.  He wasn’t a typical politician, and not even a typical guy, but he was good for Alberta.  I doubt any parents are pointing to Ralph Klein as a role model for their children, but while he was alive, he reminded me that even average fellows can do amazing things.

I earnestly hope that Ralph knew Jesus.  I think eternity would be more interesting with a fellow like him around.

ralph_klein_park
Ralph Klein Park
Image by http://www.carlosamat.ca