I remember when…

In our movie of the week, Memento, we have a character who suffers from a condition known as Anterograde Amnesia—an inability to create new memories while still being able to recall long-term memories. I thought it would be fitting to write out a list of some of my favourite memories from my life, from my earliest memories to today.

– Sitting on the floor of the living room in our small mobile home watching Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling with my siblings. The Cuban Assassin, Killer Karl Krupp and Leo Burke changed my life.

– Making marshmallow snowmen with my mom. Christmas was coming and I was going insane with anticipation.

– Sitting outside with my grandfather in Yarmouth, NS listening to him tell stories.

– Meeting my best friend on the first day of school in grade 1. We had so many common loves: superheroes, climbing, making bows and arrows, riding bikes, swimming, and make believe adventures. We also both wet the bed back then. I guess now that I’m past the age of 40 I can share that.

– Seeing my first theatre movie: Lady and the Tramp. My second movie turned out to be just as great of a memory for me: The Empire Strikes Back.

– Moving from a trailer into a house where I got my own room.

– Writing and drawing my own cartoon strip. “Crooket’s Law.”

It looked just like this one.

– Christmas morning, finding a puppet of Animal the muppet (and famed drummer of Dr. Tooth’s Electric Mayhem) with my name on it.

– Sleeping outside with my cousins in Fredericton.

– Going to see the New Brunswick Hawks play at the Moncton Coliseum with my dad and brother. The smell of french fries and cigarettes became comforting smells ever since.

– Staying with my aunt and uncle in Nova Scotia for a few weeks in the summer. Ate lots of fish, which I was happy to do.

– Going on a trip to North Carolina with my sister and lots of good friends on a choir tour. I could sing as well then as I can now. So yeah, it was a miracle I even went. Awesome time.

– My first kiss with a girl from Newfoundland. She was a good kisser.

– Meeting Randy Savage and Elizabeth at the Moncton Coliseum with my sister. He had just won the world title two months previous.

– Establishing a new close friendship after discovering a guy I went to a church youth group with was a wrestling fan. We could talk for hours and never get bored.

– Travelling to Florida with my parents and sisters.

– Discovering new freedoms and responsibilities as I move into a college dorm room.

– Meeting Joy at a weekend rally at my school; taking her on a double date to see Muppet Christmas Carol two years later; proposing to her two years later; marrying her one year later with so many people I know and love there to witness it. Oh, and going on an Alaskan Cruise with her two months later.

– Seeing my very first NHL game in Colorado. The Avalanche beat the Blackhawks that night.

– Traveling to Russia to work with teenagers in a summer camp. Winning a Russian language competition that I had no business winning. Great story…

– Witnessing the birth of my three children. Each of them have heard their birth stories a thousand times.

– Getting a call to move to Sussex to teach youth ministry.

– Attending the closing session of my daughters’ summer “princess lessons” and dancing with them. We were all decked out.

– Taking a group of teens from Bloomfield to Saint John and spending the day doing everything from bowling, to swimming, to movies, to a moment of silence at a cenotaph at the town square.

– Going to Greece and swimming in the Mediterranean.

– Taking my son to his first wrestling match. The first of many we’d attend.

– Taking my wife and children to Disney in Florida.

– Going on a road trip with my son and some friends to see my (and his) first WWE event: Night of Champions 2013.

– Being involved in professional wrestling for the first time as a ring announcer.

There are so many more but I’m sure I’ve bored what few readers I may have already with this list. It sure felt good to reflect on all of these and to see how many significant ones came to mind. I hope I never get Leonard’s condition, though I would gladly live with it if it meant I would otherwise lose my long-term memories. Like everyone, I have bad memories as well, but all of these great ones overshadow them. May I never take that for granted.

Congratulations Memento, this is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Invana Baquero, who plays Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth. She is a child in his movie and I don’t think they could have found a better actress for the part. This movie made it onto my top 25 favourite movies list the moment I watched it.

Best Actor: Don Cheadle. Hotel Rwanda is one of those “important” movies that everyone really should see, and Cheadle’s portrayal of the hotel manager fits this importance like a glove.

Best Quote: “If we can’t make memories, we can’t heal.” – Guy Pearce as Leonard in Memento.

If any of you did not catch Petrina’s comment on the last blog post, take a moment and read it. She describes the greatness of Memento well. This is one of the most creative plots of any movie I’ve seen and it leaves you with plenty to think and talk about.

Every good memory is a gift. Cherish them.


Can I, a dude, be a feminist?

I used to hate the term feminist. On the one hand, I grew up having a mom who was always a strong woman who believed in gender equality (though she avoided being labeled a femisist). And on the other hand, so many people I knew seemed to depict feminists as a united front of evil/annoying women who crashed and ruined every party. I think we all know that, though some feminists groups surely have views that not everyone agrees with, it was most likely those threatened by gender equality that created such stigma. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of feminism:

“Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women … A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”

And for those of you who are still leery of Wikipedia, here is dictionary.com’s definition:

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. 2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.”

Weird, huh? I do realize there are feminist groups, especially political ones, whose newsletters I would rather not receive, t-shirts I’d rather not wear and regional conferences I’d rather not attend (unless they’re the kind where you check into your hotel room, skip all sessions and seminars and just go to sports events and eat out at cool restaurants). But for every one of them there are about ten Christian groups where I’d say the same thing. I don’t do any lobbying or canvasing, but perhaps more of us fit in this definition in one way or another. Or maybe just more than we would think.

Here are five principles I believe strongly in regarding gender equality:

1. Women should get the opportunity to do anything a man has an opportunity to do AND be paid the same. I do realize that some jobs seem to fit one gender more than another. I think everyone knows this and is fine with it, including feminists. But the stereotypes simply aren’t always accurate. Rarely are they. The profession that I used to be in–local church youth ministry–women were paid less than men consistently all across North America. The sharpest students I had when teaching the subject were often women, but they ended up with the small salary jobs, if they got one at all. This wasn’t just my hunch either. The figures were in print every year in a monthly journal I’d receive. The idea still sickens me.

2. Chivalry is not dead. I get so tired of hearing this. So men don’t open doors like they used to (why is this always the example used?)–we live in a different time. Chivalry plays itself out differently. I had a friend who went through a phase where he couldn’t stop insinuating that I was a henpecked husband. It seemed ironic: if I brought her a coffee, took care of the kids while she was with friends or left an event early so I could be with her, I wasn’t a gentleman nor was I chivalrous. I was simply whipped. But for the record I open doors for everyone. I’m Canadian.

Thankfully no one wears these pants anymore. Please Hammer, hurt ’em.

3. I would give anything to stop hearing the phrase “wears the pants in the family.” This statement assumes that a man must be “head of the household” and, therefore, must make decisions and call the shots. Now many households may operate this way where one person does it all. I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that they “wear the pants” if they are female. That implies that the leader should be male but the female has had to take the role on. But again, this stigma is hardly ever the case. In our house, if you were speaking strictly of taking care of finances, then I have no problem admitting that Joy “wears the pants.” Go ahead and say she wears the tie and cumberbun, I don’t care. I’m not good at it and I’m glad for her to take that. When it comes to Thankfully none of us wear these pants anymore. Please Hammer, hurt ’em.disciplining the kids, usually I’m called in as the chairman of that board (makes me wonder… how come when I fed my kids when they were babies or changed their diapers no one told me I was wearing the dress in the family?). A great deal of the decision making in our family involves both Joy and me. It’s true that there was a time when, as Archie and Edith Bunker so eloquently put it, “girls were girls and men were men.” Everyone had their roles and it worked. Yes times have changed, but we don’t need to be threatened by that.

4. There is no such thing as “reverse sexism.” Same with “reverse racism.” It doesn’t exist. We make up terms like that when we feel threatened. Sexism is sexism whether it’s a man or a woman committing it, and whether it’s a man or a woman they are committing it against.

5. Before you belittle one gender or the other, as if you can make an accurate judgment on one mammoth group of people all across the globe, remember that there are people who know and love you who belong to that group. I remember a babysitter of mine when I was six years old saying to me, “Troy don’t grow up to be a man,” when she was angry at her boyfriend. I wish I could go back in time and give her a piece of my mind. Got a problem with someone? Deal with that problem with that person. It doesn’t help you at all to drag anyone else into it.

Do complaining feminists annoy me? Sure. But it should be noted here that complainers annoy me, whether or not they are feminists, Wal-Mart customers, children in my house, Montreal Canadiens fans, or old people is irrelevant. But one thing I’ve learned about complaining: sometimes you’ve got to listen and try to see it from their point of view. Actually, scratch the “sometimes” from that last sentence. I became ten times happier of a person once I started to try and do this on as regular of a basis as I could.

Behold the queen.

And now, this week’s movie of the week is Roman Holiday, in honour of the Queen of the Golden Age of Film, Audrey Hepburn. She too was a strong women who made it big in a male-dominated profession. She was a Dutch woman who spoke English, which makes for a very unique accent. Though she was slight and meek she would grab the camera with her charm and all eyes were on Audrey.

Congratulations Audrey Hepburn and Roman Holiday. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Like I did with other actor-centered nominees, I’m going to pick a second actress for this category. As much as I love Marilyn Monroe, I believe Grace Kelly deserves the distinction. She was my pick this week, but I decided to go with what the majority of people were picking.

Best Actor: Jack Lemon. Normally I’d say Jimmy Stewart, but he’s gotten so much attention already. I’m really not much of a Lemon fan, but he deserves this.

Best quote: “Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!” – Marilyn Monroe as Sugar in Some Like It Hot.

Again, there are many other great women who could’ve been on this list. I love the golden age of movies. It can be strange seeing how they talked, acted, thought, and even walked in that time. But just like in most contexts, brushing away the dust of things that are different or foreign to us we find priceless gems that dazzle. And these women dazzle.

Who is the Queen of the Golden Age of Hollywood?

All of the women listed below were queens of film in their own right. There were also many others, and though I realize that this is a trio I cam up with myself, I wouldn’t doubt that it’s far from reality that one of them could be crowned queen of Hollywood’s golden age. Which one do you think deserves it?

Queen of Golden Age

Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday1953, #231)

Gracy Kelly (Rear Window1954, #33)

Marilyn Monroe (Some Like It Hot1959, #97)

*Oops… made a mistake with the movie listings for Audrey. They don’t match. Believe it or not B.A.T. didn’t make the top 250. Anyway, I’m sure you are forgiving.


I gotta go see about a girl…

A character in Good Will Hunting wrestles with the idea of a career change. I love watching the process in this movie and I love what the process says to its viewers. I have personally changed vocations in the last few years and it’s been both a trying and a rich experience. The career I had before was ministry: either local church ministry or teaching local church ministry. I’m not the first person to make a change from this line of work, so if you ask anyone else who has they would probably agree that making such a switch is a very unique experience, different than, say, if I was a welder, insurance agent or truck driver. Ministry is one of those professions where much of your heart and soul is invested and quite an amount of stigma is attached, so it’s surprising when one leaves it. I don’t blame people who wonder “What happened?” or “Why would you ever leave ministry?” It’s a natural thing to think that. Nonetheless, dealing with the questions makes for a tough transition.

I had thoroughly enjoyed being a minister. I had never been a “senior pastor” (or what they call today a “lead pastor”) and I never wanted to be one. Even though my job was similar and though it usually paid substantially less, I had no desire to lead an entire church. I did love working with children and youth, so youth pastor was a reasonable choice. And I loved it. I had two things that I most enjoyed: 1) Public speaking. For most of the population this is a huge fear. I am one of those freaky mutants born with a warped desire, even enjoyment, for getting in front of a crowd and either speaking or just making an ass of myself. 2) Working with people. Always loved the people and had a great time working with teens, their parents, other pastors (some were dingbats but mostly they were great) and community leaders. Considering both of these favourites of mine, I naturally enjoyed teaching ministry as well.

Joy and I had a curve ball thrown at us forcing us to reconsider what direction to take for our future. When I say “curve ball,” that is not a way of pointing any fingers or claiming to be a victim. It was simply a difficult thing and many of you have had to face it too. I was let go at the place where I held a full-time job teaching ministry. Here were my options:

1. Teach somewhere else

2. Get a full-time job in a church

3. Do something else

The first one involved the risk of having to invest in a doctorate. This is a wonderful experience and well worth the money, but it was going to be tough nonetheless. The other risk that came with this was having to move the family.

The second may or may not have moved the family, though it was likely to. As I said before, I didn’t feel that “lead pastor” was a job I wanted, so nearby employment possibilities were less in number. Plus, most churches can’t afford to pay a youth pastor much. That’s why so many of them are in their 20’s and early 30’s. If they can afford it, it would likely be a large church with big expectations. Ministers are terrible workaholics, something I swore I’d never be. I knew that a large church didn’t necessarily mean workaholism was inevitable, but the risk was there. Going to work for a church for just a short amount of time and then resigning because I didn’t like it or because I was too stressed was something I didn’t want in my life. It wouldn’t be fair to me nor would it be to a church. In short, I was coming to face the reality that this was something I simply wasn’t interested in doing anymore. There wasn’t anything wrong about that. It was just reality.

The third option seemed strange at first. What else could I possibly do? My education is only ministry-related. And is changing careers throwing out all that education I paid for out the window? At first these questions made me dismiss option three. But the more I thought about it the more I saw it as an opportunity for a new start. An adventure.

Two things I would like to make clear about the decision: 1) Though there were definitely things about ministry that I was growing away from and/or disliking as time went on, I’m not going to get into any of those things. It is hard to share stuff like that without sounding accusatory. 2) I didn’t make the decision because of being discouraged in ministry. To be sure, I did have my critics. Probably the hardest to deal with was when a couple of my peers had made their feelings very plain to friends, coworkers and even employers of mine that I had no business teaching ministry when I hadn’t worked in a mega church. But again, this never did get me down enough to quit. Besides, for every one of those experiences I had a hundred or so great ones.

No the decision was based solely on what was the best next step for me and my family to take at that particular juncture. For a summer I collected employment insurance. It is my hope for you reading this that you never have to have that experience, or if you have that you never have to again. That fall I worked for the John Howard Society helping young adults get a job who have had challenges in doing so. Each time I told them to chase their dreams and believe in themselves I was saying it to myself. It was a temporary job, so I used that time to keep thinking about what I could do. What I wanted to do.

The reason for choosing a restoration and repair business is simple. My friend was selling it, a friend whom I love and trust. I went with him on some repairs and knew I’d enjoy it once it was mastered. I also loved the idea of working for myself. I’ve had good bosses and bad ones, but now seemed like a good time to try going on my own. Investing was expensive and scary, but just a year prior I was seriously considering getting a doctorate–just as expensive and just as scary. And yes, anyone can get a doctorate. That doesn’t demean the process of getting one. It’s just true.

At this point I should share something that I believe in deeply. If you’ve never seen the movie Ratatouille (my sister says it’s too hard to watch a movie that involves a rat in a kitchen), there’s a line that a chef says that sums up a strong philosophical belief of mine. It is simply this, “Anyone can cook.” It’s a theme in the movie that if you want to do something bad enough, you can learn to do it. Nothing is reserved for just the few. It’s true about ministry and it’s true about anything you want to do or be in life.

I knew this would be a big challenge for me, and has it ever. Many times I’ve come home from a very long day of trying to do a repair. I’d felt like a failure because I just couldn’t do it that day, and therefore wasn’t going to get paid for it. It seemed never ending and the money was barely trickling in. I’d keep reminding myself of that computer animated chef and rat. Anybody can do this…

Good Will Hunting is a very inspirational movie, and the line that I’ve always remembered and loved is, “I gotta go see about a girl.” If you watch this film and hear this quote in context you will notice the theme of loving/believing in yourself and (therefore) living life to the very fullest and seizing those important moments. I already have a girl. I’m in love with her and her name is Joy. But now I needed to go see about a career.

I’m glad I made the decision. My self-confidence, something that has always been a struggle for me, has increased over the last two and a half years. When I think of how many people are surprised that I would even do this kind of work, I use that as inspiration to prove myself to them and to me.

Anyone can cook.

Anyone can pursue what they want to pursue.

And you? Do you need to go see about a girl?

Congratulations Good Will Hunting. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Helena Bonham Carter. She is one of my favourite actresses and she is brings out her character in such a clear and provocative way in Fight Club.

Best Actor: Brad Pitt. I must say that I agree with my cousin. This is Brad at his best and it’s one of the most culturally important movies in the past twenty-five years.

Best Quote: “Well, I got her number. How do you like them apples?” – Matt Damon as Will in Good Will Hunting.

Here we are barely in the third year of this adventure, and though Joy and I find the financial side of it still a struggle, the business continues to improve. The repairs that took me forever to do and still not feel great about are now done in good time with excellent results. To all of you who have changed careers, especially in your 40’s or later, I salute you.

Please don't mind my showing off here...

Please don’t mind my showing off here…