The Strength of Silence

I have a number of social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and now to a limited extent, WordPress.  All are a part of my methods of communicating and expressing myself in the great world wide web.  It’s almost too much to take in.  And oft times I have found myself with the situation in which I’m not really sure what to do.

My standard course of action when I’m overwhelmed?  Do nothing.
Sometimes it works.

In the case of finances, if I can’t decide on what to spend my money on, I don’t buy anything.  When it comes to forming an opinion on a certain matter, if I can’t form words in a polite and civil manner, I do my best to hold my tongue.

When I’m not sure what to write about, I will chose to refrain from writing.
This one can get destructive, because it builds on itself.

Pass up one day of writing, “I’ll catch up tomorrow.”
Two days, “Well, it hasn’t been that long.”
Three days, “Eee… What am I going to do today?  Eh, what’s one more day?”
Four days, “I was going to do something today…”

You get the picture.

But other moments of silence are something to treasure.

When I commute on my bicycle, which I hope to start doing again come May, there is a zen feeling going along a country road under your own pedal power.  Of course the zen gets interrupted with the whooshing of cars travelling 80 kph a mere meter (or less) to my left, but managing my reaction to that is also a part of the balance required.

My wife and I enjoy fervent and spirited conversations, but we also sit in silence, each content with the other’s company.  I’m not sure what our record is for silence spent together, and I wouldn’t go so far to include time spent asleep.  However, earlier on in our marriage, I had carried on conversations with my wife which she could never recall.  I soon learned that it’s best to wait until she is completely awake before engaging in conversations of a critical nature.  Words may be exchanged, but the memory is of silence.

May sound poetic, but it’s a huge pain.

Then there is the stereotypical perfect child.  The one that is asleep.  And quiet.
Though we have that situation with my younger daughter while she’s awake, as her Grandma has written about previously, and it’s not always good.  If Grandma needs to get a hearing aid to listen to my daughter, then so do I!

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Home Is Where Your Rump Rests

Home is where your rump restsEvery time people ask me where I grew up, I find that a bit of a difficult question to answer.  When I saw The Lion King, I found myself nodding in agreement to Pumbaa’s statement, “Home is where your rump rests.”

Until someone told me about the term “Army Brat.”  Then it was much simpler to explain.

My father was career military, retired when I was twenty years old and out of the house, so we moved quite often while I was growing up.  To my memory, the longest we stayed in any place was Petawawa where we lived for four years.  But most of the places we lived, we were able to walk to school.  Church, not always, but those we the two things my parents looked for in acquiring property.  I should not that they only bought houses in Gloucester (Ottawa), Greenfield Park (Montreal), and St. Albert (Edmonton).

Note: The locations listed in brackets are the cities I list first when people ask where I grew up.

And since I returned from my mission – which was served in Greece and Cyprus – I have lived in Edmonton.  Mostly.  I still moved around a lot, once every two or three years, but I have stayed within the same geographical area for the more part.

Do I have any regrets for the frequent moving?  Not really.  I am quite adept in both of my home country’s official languages because of my upbringing and where ever I go I tend to find someone I know.  At times, it seems like the best way to clean the house.  As my daughter has reminded me as of late.

A chore chart may be in order.

Who Watches The Watchmen?

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With the concept of Karma being a real thing, it made my mind go philosophical for a moment.  I did some research and learned a new Latin phrase: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Roughly translating to, “Who watches the watchmen?”

It’s a question for the ages for sure, and Socrates used it in his writings in order to spur the ideas of a tyrannical government.  I was a little surprised to discover that it was actually borrowed from Jevenal, a Roman Satirist, which goes to show that even sometimes the best of writers borrow from other sources.

Regardless, if Karma were proved to be a real thing, I don’t believe that it would change the way I live my life.  I’m always making an effort to make life easier for others, to be a good husband, father, and son.  I know that my life is not my own, my daughters are a constant reminder of that, and many of the principles I live by are based on a passage in the bible:

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. – Luke 9:24

The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have other do to you – would also work in its place.  And after taking a quick look at the Wikipedia article for it, I see that there is a LOT more to it than just the Christian ideal.

Do I believe in Karma?  I believe that there will come a judgement day, in which we will all stand before God to give an account for our deeds and misdeeds in this life, and that will determine our place in the world to come.  I know that if I am found wanting when that day comes, there will be no time to make amends for the hour of repentance will have passed, so now is the day to live the live you want God to judge.  If that is a form of Karma, then yes.

Do I believe that you are going to get in an accident because you cut me off in traffic?  Not as much.

But I do know that my children will be picking out my nursing home, so I do my best to raise them.

 

 

The Third Habit

I will be the first to admit, doing work is work.  And sometimes that is hard work.  Which I don’t like to do.  But taking a page from Stephen R. Covey, you have to put first things first in order to get things done.  Or from the more amiable children’s book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, “Work first, then play.”  You need to do what you need to do, so you can do what you want to do.

Any chore can get in the way of things you want to do, and one in particular took the place of my blog posting time the other day.  I was sitting down, ready to get going with a post for the day, when it occurred to me that I had to look over the budget.  I enjoy working with numbers, but there is something that freaks me out a little about doing finances.  Part of it is discouragement of overspending, or reallocating funds to account for something else that takes a higher priority.

I know it’s important, but it detracts from the fun time.

Hence my second least favourite chore that gets neglected all too often, washing dishes.  Or as some call it, kitchen laundry.

Kitchen Laundry

A Lesson In Time Management

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I’m a child of the Nintendo Generation.  No shame in admitting that.  But the other night, my daughter asked for a story from my childhood.  Exactly why, I don’t know.  She also told me that Toy Story was a movie from the “Olden Days” and I felt absolutely ancient because I saw it during its initial theatrical release.

Back to gaming.

When my family acquired our grey box, it was something that everyone had a hard time stepping away from, myself especially.  Perhaps my mom was a bit more strict and I just have the memories a bit more rose coloured.  But there is one day that sticks out in my mind, that left me a little mortified.

Before I was to head off to a day of school in the Fourth Grade, I was playing a quick round of Super Mario Bros. and I was having a lot of fun because neither my brother nor sister were bugging me for a turn to play.  Then panic set in, once it struck me that things were quiet because they had already left for school.  (Please note “it” in this case, represents my situation at the time, not my mom.)

Try as I may, I got to school late and had to report to the office before I could go to class.  This is where the embarrassment began, since I was an honest kid and saw no point in lying that I had been playing video games instead of heading to class.  But to take it a step further, I had to write this reason out on a card that I then had to submit to my teacher when I got to class.  Everyone in the office staff had a bit of a tut-tut attitude towards my excuse, as did my teacher, but mercifully, she didn’t read my note out to the class.

She did summarize it though.

Needless to say, I never played video games before school again.

Ask A Pony

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I mentioned in a previous post about my passion for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  To give a clearer idea of just how far I’m willing to go for this, take a look at the picture above.  The one on the right – clad in red plaid, red ears, and orange wig – is me in cosplay as Big Macintosh.

Some might jump on me for wearing a costume anytime that is not October 31, and some might further question my masculinity for impersonating an animated, colourful equine.  You might also notice that I’m not the only one in the picture.  This was a photo of the panel group in which I participated that day.  We took on the personas of the characters and answered questions in their manner.  It was a challenge to stay in character and to coordinate with everyone else.  However, most of us had to pay for our own admissions, and therefore we were not doing this for any sort of pay.

We were all doing this for the sheer fun and enjoyment of playing the role of these characters.

This is also the third time the panel has been put on, and the second time I have participated.  While I would love to say that each time has been progressively better than the last, I would be wrong.  This year’s cast was significantly smaller than 2013, but we still have plans to continue the panel.

Improv of this degree is a bit easier for me to handle, since the questions are directed to the characters, and not myself.  Perhaps it’s just my way of figuring how to cope with life by finding a happier, colourful way to express myself.

Even if my character is rather taciturn.

The Art Of Being An Artist

Being a veteran to the stage and screen, I know that there are a lot more roles to be filled in productions than director, producer, or lead actor.  True there is the role of the writer, which gets glanced over, but with theatre, you have the stage manager, assistant directors, makeup teams, wardrobe, technical director, sound tech, light tech, ushers, ticket sales, advertising & media.

There is a LOT more going on behind the scenes than some people realize.  Such that it can get a little confusing how productions are put together.  Take for example animated films.  When released domestically, you can have a big name actor selling the film, because their voice is featured in the marquee.  When it gets an international release, and gets a dub in the local language, then things change.  Owen Wilson was a little perplexed why he was invited to the foreign premiere for Cars, when he wasn’t voicing his own character.

That’s not to say that all voice actors step back for international work.  In The Prince of Egypt, the opening song was sung my the original actress, in every language the film was released.  Sadly, I can’t find anything to back that up except from hearsay from my own experience.  Though Wikipedia states that the director initially laid a scratch track for Miriam singing a lullaby to Moses when she put him in the river.  It was going to be replaced my Sally Dworsky’s later on, but it turned out so well, they decided to keep it.

That was something that happened quite a bit in Shrek.  The crew would lay scratch for the animatics, and when it came time to cast for the roles, they couldn’t find anything to match the level of the previous tracks, so they kept them in.

Mark Walton, who I had the pleasure to meet at Calgary Expo in 2009, also had the same experience.  When they were laying the scratch dialogue for Rhino the Hamster, they had Mark step in and do some recording.  He had experience in front of the microphone for other Disney features such as Home On The Range doing background voices, after all.  But when the time came to cast, they kept thinking back to Mark’s performance.

I really wish that I had access to a video of the following, which we saw at his panel at Calgary Expo, but I have not seen a shred of it since then.

When they had reached the decision to cast Mark Walton officially, they decided to trick him into telling himself.  They took him into the studio to re-record some previous lines, and as he was reading the dialogue, without thinking, he read the line they had sneaked in, “I’m the voice of Rhino.”  When he read it, he stopped mid-sentence, and read it aloud to the director, posing it as a question instead of a statement, “I’m the voice of Rhino?” to which the director replied, “You got the part!”

Mark then proceeded to start jumping and screaming in delight, to which the audience at the panel roared with laughter.  After the laughter had died down, we all found that Mark was STILL screaming in delight off camera!  The audience started laughing again for another good minute.

Though I have done a lot of work on stage in various roles, I have not been the lead actor.  A year and a half ago I wrote, directed, and starred in my own short production, which I would not want to do again.  But one thing I would love to do, is voice acting work.  Just need to get my demo together, as I have had some training already, and I’ll start shopping it out!

Might need an ACTRA membership too.

Regardless, I have another job, and I need to get going so I’m not late for it.