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.

She Pondered

“What if I topple your paradigm?”

Her finger played nervously with a loop underneath long black curls.  She pondered his words.  Was this honey sweet flirtation or just wearing on her last nerve?

——————————

This is my first second  Trifextra submission to  Trifecta.  To my delight, my last entry received some positive feedback from nice folks (isn’t everyone nice… until they get to know me).  As an added bonus, my writing didn’t get me run out of town.

This weekend’s assignment asks for exactly 33 words, 30 of my own and three of the following:

topple   paradigm   underneath   nerve   honey   loop

My imagination helped me to squeeze them all in, so hopefully it doesn’t fault my entry.  Time will tell.

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 🙂

Summertime

“I want to!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, just like Julian!”

“Okay, but be careful.”

Slap, slap, slap go little feet.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Bump. Bump.

SPLOOSH!

Tweet!  “Jump straight; Not to the side!”

——————————————————————

The above is writing I submitted as part of something new to me called Trifecta.  I discovered Trifecta while reading a submission by another writer on Raursaur’s blog (seen here).

As part of the weekend assignment, I had to limit my writing to thirty-three words and had to incorporate the use of onomatopoeia.

Usually I like to include a photo or video link in my posts, but in this case, I’m hoping the words and examples of onomatopoeia help build mental images instead.

The Show Goes On

Work has been all consuming recently in a way that leaves me wondering, “Why I do whatever it is that I do at work?”  Is that how a midlife crisis feels?  Pondering questions and searching for meaning and purpose?  If  it is  indeed a midlife crisis, would I even know it?

So…

Tonight, Sara Bareilles played live in Vancouver, but I’m here in Calgary.  Yes, I’m simply here, and slightly disappointed that I’m still in Calgary.  Just like most nights…

Brave_Tour

When I first heard Sara Bareilles was playing a couple Canadian cities, Toronto and Vancouver, I thought, “This is my chance!  I’ll fly to Vancouver, see the concert, and catch an overnight flight back after the show.  That way I won’t even have to spring for a hotel!  I could even be back in time to be at work the next morning (not that I would be productive).  The concert takes place at this artsy little theater called the Rio, and Vancouver’s Sky Train has a station close by the theater… I won’t even have to rent a car.  This will be awesome!”

WestJet

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  Flights to either Canadian mega-city were a wee bit outside my budget.  And not that it would be so bad to break the budget once in a while.  My problem is that I’ve already broken the budget one too many times.

While I wallow in my disappointment, being tired from work, I’m left to express my thoughts here.  While writing this entry, I happen on this concert clip which just seems to go with the moment…

Special thanks to Peter Wu for uploading this clip to YouTube

Maybe a letter, the kind that never gets sent, would be appropriate for the moment…

Dear Sara,

You don’t know me, and I suspect we’ll never meet face-to-face.  If we ever did meet, I  wouldn’t know what to say and nor would it sound intelligent.  I’m pretty sure if we had went to school together, we would have been freakish friends at best.  Okay, I’d probably been the freakish one.

I wish I’d been able to make your concert tonight.  It wasn’t meant to be this time, but rest assured, I’ll add it to my future bucket list (and mark it: things to do for sure).  Instead, tonight I’m doing the dad thing, the trying to do the right and responsible dad thing for my wife and kids.

“What?” you ask.  A father that listens to your music…?  I know, I know.  I’m not your usual demographic, but for some reason much of your music resonates with me.

I hope your next album, Blessed Unrest, proves to be a huge commercial success (that way you’ll keep touring, and maybe even come to Calgary one day.  No?  I guess a Calgarian can always dream).  Until then… all the best to you!

Sincerely,

Dad (not to be confused with your own Dad)

Brave

Brave

Sara Bareilles has an album releasing in the not too distant future.  It sounds like it will be titled The Blessed Unrest.  A new single entitled Brave releases to the world on April 23rd.  Hear it here…

It’s quickly growing on me.   Sara’s last EP, Once Upon A Time, really sparked my imagination, left me day-dreaming, and brought me many smiles.  I’m not a vocalist nor musician by any stretch of the imagination.  If I was, I’m left wondering  how I would name my albums.  Here’s a fun insight into Sara’s thought process for naming her next album:

I love the classic gas station “dinging” sound for each album name.  I’ll have to make something similar for my smart phone notifications.

I don’t really know anything about Martha Graham.  I gather she has something important to do with dance (or dance ideology).  I also dance very seldom  and infrequently in public (Elaine’s dance from Seinfeld immediately comes to mind), but I was intrigued by the quote Sara mentions in the video clip.  Martha Graham is quoted as saying…

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
~ As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille, p. 264, ISBN 0-394-55643-7.

At first glance, I’m sceptical.  What’s she really saying… a life force?  I agree, we all have a God-given soul, but I’m not sure if I’d call it a life force?  I’m reading the part about unique expression and equating to creativity (or creative spirit).  I agree.  I think God has enriched each person with unique talents and gifts, most of which too easily get dismissed or squandered away.  And it seems true, that when people suppress their gifts and talents (for whatever reason), people around them, their community, society as a whole, everyone loses out on that individual’s God-given abilities.

I would caution people to “keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”  I think I get her context, but certainly would NOT suggest that a person be open to urges that drive him to overeat or to drink in excess (or even worse things I’m now imagining as I type this).

“…No artist is pleased.”

This is such an understatement about perfectionism.  I wrestle with this in my work, my writing, my photography, my drawings, my painting, and almost every part of my life.  Just trying to write a blog just about kills me at times (maybe because I’m such a newbie).  I can relate to a consistent state of dissatisfaction with many things, creative things, and various parts of my life.  The unrest… it bugs me.   I’ve never thought of it as a blessed unrest, but it’s eerily familiar.

I find some inspiration and encouragement in the Brave song lyrics…

Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

STAGEIT… featuring Lenka

Sara Bareilles is the first performance I ever saw on StageIt.  The second, just last Sunday, was a concert hosted by the Australian pop singer, Lenka.  Never heard of her?  Neither had my wife, so consider yourself in good company.  If you’ve scene the Windows 8 commercial linked below, then you’ve definitely heard Lenka.  Not necessarily my favorite song from Lenka, but her music indeed.

The StageIt company hosts live concerts through their virtual venue online.  Typically, these concerts are smaller productions, intimate in nature, and stream live from the performer’s studio, kitchen, or living room.

Lenka’s music is something I accidentally discovered while searching Youtube for a specific scene from Inglourious Basterds, dubbed Chapter Five: Revenge of the Giant Face.   In the Quentin Tarantino film, Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), the pretty protagonist, finalizes her revenge plans upon the murderous Nazi oppressors.  Maybe it’s because I’m a part of that MTV generation, but I especially like how the film’s scenes play out to the tune of David Bowie’s Cat People (…putting out fires with gasoline).

The clip I was actually looking for was something like this…

The Lenka clip I ended up discovering along the way was this…

(As you can see above) I stumbled upon a well-edited music video where the creator uses clips of Inglourious Basterds set to Lenka’s song, Trouble is a Friend.  Technology has clearly blossomed  since the birth of early MTV; now just about anyone with a half decent computer can make their own music videos, and many of these home-brewed productions look really professional.  Lenka was new to me.  My curiosity lead me to investigate more of her music.  I end up watching her very creative offerings on YouTube (Trouble is a Friend and The Show).  I’m not what people might call a raving Lenka fan (nor anyone for that matter), but I do enjoy her music and have added it to my personal soundtrack (the ever-growing eclectic unofficial soundtrack for my life).

Like with so many of my online searches, I start surfing for one specific purpose.  Somewhere along the way I follow a link, click another, then another, and then many URLs (and hours) later I end up in a totally different place than what was planned.  It leaves me wondering, “Where does all the time go?”  This last week, I received an email invitation to see Jars of Clay at (or on) StageIt.  While investigating the concert date for Jars, I notice a banner advertising that Lenka’s backyard concert in a couple days.  It sounds cool and costs less than a latte; sign me up!

Concert Day:

Sunday is a typical spring day in Calgary–the kind that makes locals want to hibernate because of the relentless snow (more snow, and… yep, more snow).  My family and I gather round the TV to watch Lenka on StageIt’s live broadcast from sunny Sydney, Australia.  My kids watch for about five minutes before their attention spans fade.  Jana indicates that she’s not a really “into” Lenka’s voice.  I like to think her musical tastes are still developing.  Justin says, “Dad, I’m enjoying the show, but there’s video game missions that need to be completed before bedtime.”  Meanwhile, Lenka, her drummer,  a violinist, and another fellow playing the cello perform a handful of songs from her living room to our home.

During concerts, StageIt provides a way for viewers to text messages to the Performer (which are view-able by members of the audience, assuming they’re reading along instead of watching the concert).  Multitasking isn’t my forte, hence I opt to remain “textually” silent.  For a concert, the visual quality seems a bit rough around the edges, but the audio is far than I had expected, especially since its streaming from the far side of the globe.  Despite being light on production or polish, Lenka’s show totally makes up for it because of the intimate feel of the whole thing.  Before the performance, I knew of Lenka as a vocalist and musician.  It turns out she’s also an actress, a sculpturist,  a songwriter, and even an crafty artist who creates set decorations!  In highschool, if Lenka was my classmate, friends would have joked that she was becoming a real Renaissance Man (well actually a Renaissance Woman). Classmates and I stole the term Renaissance Man as a polite way of teasing someone who might be considered an overachiever.

Lenka

In between songs Lenka draws attention to this site called PledgeMusic.com.  I kind of understood it involved a charity and charities are mentioned on Pledge Music, but whatever the case…  a person can make pledges to finance artists’ projects.  So figuring I might enjoy her new album (available in June 2013), I investigate.  Much to my surprise, Lenka fans can pledge money for not just her new album, but also some pretty amazing creations handcrafted by Lenka herself… very personable.

Signed Posters, CDs, and even Vinyl — $28 to $93
Artistic Doodles on Handwritten Lyric Sheets — $63 — Great idea!
Baby Bibs — $38 — Sorry, not for me as my wife lovingly reminds me that she ONLY signed up for two kiddos *sigh*
Crafty Stuff — $48 to $138
Mystery Craft Stuff — $138 — Oooh!?  Sounds mysterious!
Crafty Fashion Stuff — $138 — Snazzy! Unfortunate for me it cost more than my whole wardrobe :-S
20 Minute Skype Chat — $100 — Intriguing!  It’s not everyday you get to speak face-to-face with a  Renaissance Woman!
Personalized Ring Tone or Greeting  — $150 – Cool! And practical too!  It’s a shame that no one ever calls me.

and the kicker…
A Personalized Lullaby — only $1,500 — Awesome! I wish I needed (or could enjoy) a lullaby, but I’m all lights out when my head hits the pillow.

jgh_LENKA_SHADOWS_cdsleevelayout_2I’m looking forward to hearing some new Lenka in June.  The Pledge Music profile describes her new album, Shadows, as “… a collection of lullabies for adults…Lenka style.”  Interesting.  Until then, I guess I’ll just sing myself to sleep.