Soundtrack of Archived Life

I'm on the cusp of finishing Home Movies Vol. 19 and one of the components I always include is a music montage. I like to use a tune we listened to during that time but that also works (is positive, energetic, etc.).

These are my past selections:
  • 2003 Spring in Edmonton: Life is Beautiful (Amy Correia)
  • 2003 Fall in Montreal: No Sleep (Sam Roberts)
  • 2003 Christmas in Cormier Village: Heaven's Got a Baby (O.C. Supertones)
  • 2004 Spring in Montreal: Let Go (Frou Frou)
  • 2004 Summer across North America: July (The Innocence Mission)
  • 2004 Fall in Spruce Grove: New Slang (The Shins)
  • 2005 Spring in Spruce Grove: Falling at Your Feet (Daniel Lanois)
  • 2005 Summer across North America: 'Til Kingdom Come (Coldplay)
  • 2005 Fall in Tactic: Hard Bargain (Ron Sexsmith)
  • 2006 Spring/Summer in Tactic/Montreal/NB: Amassakoul ‘N’ Tenere (Tinariwen)
  • 2006-7 Winter in Tactic/AB/BC: A Lot Can Happen in a Year (Riley Armstrong)
  • 2007 Summer in Tactic: Your Rocky Spine (The Great Lake Swimmers)
  • 2007-8 Winter in Tactic/Mexico: Mushaboom (Feist)
  • 2008 Spring in Guatemala: De Ushuahia a la Quiaca (Gustavo Santaolalla)
  • 2008 Summer/Fall in AB/BC: Love at the End of the World (Sam Roberts)
  • 2008 Christmas in Calgary: Maybe this Christmas (Ron Sexsmith)
  • 2009 Spring in Calgary: Between Sheets (Instrumental Version) (Imogen Heap)
  • 2009 Summer in BC/AB/NB: This Time Tomorrow (The Kinks)
  • 2009 Fall in Calgary: Get on Your Boots (U2)
  • 2010 Spring in Calgary: Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk (The New Pornographers)
First, I'm impressed at the high Canadian content there is (and world music too). Second, it is remarkable how permanently the images become related to the songs I've chosen to accompany them; I hear the first measure of any of these songs and I can recall which season and year the song plays against.


20 Dwarves (coming 2012)

Behold Thorin, Ori, Dori, Nori, Bombur, Bifur, Bofur, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Fili and Kili.

I've been doing my best not to spend too much time checking out Peter Jackson's latest project - the prequel to The Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit. But I have wandered over to check out some of the updates and peruse production stills. This picture of the 13 dwarves is one of my favourite images so far (this is the other one I like).

Behold Napoleon, Grimm, Wolf, Butcher, Half-Pint, Grub, and Chuckles:

Then last night some friends of ours returned The Fall, a great film that didn't cash in at the box office. They told us that director Tarsem Singh is working on a Snow White film so I checked that out - another 7 dwarves in goofy outfits (which I like).



This last weekend was spent playing board games with other board game enthusiasts at FallCon, here in Calgary. FallCon is an annual convention where multiple tournaments are held, used (and new) games are auctioned off, the Canadian Game Design award is presented, and attendees can borrow from a library of hundreds of games to play with each other. This has been happening for 24 years now.

This was my first time attending. As such I wanted to learn as many games as possible so I signed up for each of the five tournaments so I could be taught the new games. This worked well as the newbies were usually lumped together at one table (typically 4 concurrent games would be played and the 4 winners would play in the final). I was also able to contribute to the conference by doing the 12-page layout for the program (got to reacquaint myself with InDesign).

Friday night I played a recently released stock game called Airlines of Europe. It wasn't too difficult to learn and gameplay went smoothly, especially with a facilitator on hand to answer rule or procedure questions. I lost, but I enjoyed the game and I'll likely play again since the lead organizer for FallCon is my friend and he owns (or houses) most of the games.

Following the tournament I played a familiar game with 5 other some available gamers called 7 Wonders. Since I was the only one to have played before, I taught everyone and promptly lost. I then joined a guy named Justin and we played 3 rounds of Lost Cities before entering an hour long amicable political discussion (he's a candidate for the new provincial Wild Rose party).

Saturday morning came early as I only got to bed at 1 a.m. and had to get to Jasen's house by 7:20 a.m. in order to catch a ride and drop our car off for Amber. I familiarized myself with my morning tourny's game: Dominion, a fantastic deck building game. I got the hang of it after a couple games and then won a couple casual games of it afterwards - a definite confidence booster. Following this I ate some tasty concession food while watching a friend finish his game. The Following tournament was another recent board game called Pantheon - a convoluted game with so many components, I didn't enjoy it as much. It took a while to finish as we were all new at the table.

With a little time before the auction and game design award, I learned to play a fun little card game called Jaipur with Marc, a cohousing friend also attending.

After the award presentation, FallCon organizers set to auctioning off 500 games in an amazingly efficient way. I think the top selling item fetched nearly $200. Other games went for as little as $1. I picked up Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers for a decent price, though I was hoping to get Dominion - but those copies went for $40+.

I began to develop a mean headache through the auction and by the end I was nauseous and developing a fever. I tried to wait it out, but ultimately Amber had to come pick me up. I groaned all the way home and threw up on arrival. Plus side: I fell asleep and was fully rejuvenated in the morning. Minus side: I missed the opportunity to learn Troyes.

Sunday, I learned another new game: Merchants and Marauders. Our group played for nearly four hours when typically a game can be played in 90 minutes, but again, we were just learning.

These board games are far more sophisticated than Monopoly, Candyland and Risk. The variety of strategies, defence vs. offensive tactics, and depth of content are astounding. Another terrific aspect of such games (and game conferences) is how it teaches us about how to live in community and what it teaches us about ourselves. Competition is one of several components to enjoying a board game and one best competes when there are others to play with - thus one must strike a balance between self and community.

I had a great time! I'll better prepare myself for next year's con.


The Eastern Orthodox Way

For much of my life, Christianity was defined by my church tradition: Seventh-Day Adventism. It took just over two decades to begin to recognize and even appreciate other protestant denominations. I attended conferences, seminars, and worship services put on by Baptist, Vineyard, and non-denominational groups ultimately leading us to work with Impact Ministries in Guatemala. Amber and I embraced non-denominationalism as we were not able to find a single denomination that suited our belief system to that point. Our move to Calgary led us to attend a Christian Reformed Church where we continue to enjoy the Reformed Tradition.

During all these years I have taken a Protestant position towards Roman Catholicism, though more mildly than other protestants to be sure! I'm not Northern Irish Protestant. My objections to RC were doctrinal, structural and practical so I had little interest in exploring for gems. I should note that I have enjoyed many relationships with Catholics and I have no doubt that I have much to learn of God from Catholic theologians and much to learn of piety from Catholics.

My attitudes, right or wrong, towards Roman Catholicism extended to the Eastern Orthodox Church because for some reason I equated the two, the Orthodox just didn't follow the Pope. Because of this, my knowledge and experience with Eastern Orthodoxy was extremely limited:

  • Characters in Crime and Punishment by Russian Orthodox author Fyodor Dostoevsky were either practicing Orthodox or practicing vogue atheism.
  • My visit to Ukraine in 1993 took us on a small tour of Orthodox churches in a little village in Kiev.
  • I visited a tiny Russian Orthodox Church in Nice, France because it was on the city tourism brochure in 1997.

I had classified the Church as a cultural vestige of eastern Europe that had just about been decimated by communism.

Then my sister-in-law dated then married a Greek Orthodox man. I have to admit that I revealed a pronounced Evangelical/Protestant/North American bias in my half dozen dialogues on Christianity with Gabriel.

Then a couple summers ago, my new friend Chris from Regina passed me a book: The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality by Kyriacos Markides. Sociology professor Markides returns to his native Cyprus to dialogue with a high ranking monk who spent years on Mount Athos, a haven of Orthodox monks for many centuries. It was an informative and fascinating introduction to this Christian faith, if not a little challenging.

Then this past year, Chris sends me a link for a YouTube video of this retired monk named Lazar Puhalo who broadcasts talks on pop culture, ancient Christianity, and dialogues with an Anglican scholar. His voice is refreshing and gives clarity to the differences between western and eastern Christianity. I frequent his videos through the winter.

Then in July, I spent a couple weeks at a summer camp in Saskatchewan where Chris and his friend Marc from Ottawa bring me to an Orthodox church in Regina. The liturgy is in English (as opposed to my two previous light encounters). The priest is jovial. I pick up some "hey, you should become Orthodox" brochures in their lobby and read through them quickly because so much of it is new and old at the same time.
Discussions with Marc and Chris bring more clarity to some of the foggy patches and I drop my guard toward this unfamiliar, yet affirming faith. I ask Chris to send me links to the podcasts he keeps telling me about: Our Life in Christ by two Protestant ministers turned Orthodox priests and Speaking the Truth in Love by scholar and priest Thomas Hopko. Chris left me three books to read too while he's away in Kuwait for the next couple years.

I have learned that Eastern Orthodoxy and I share many of the same issues with western protestant Christianity. Some of these include protestantism's low view of the physical world and body (dualism), a lack of respect for authority in the church, a weak emphasis on the incarnation and resurrection, a literal/inerrant view of the Bible, an independent spirit of interpreting the Bible, an unhealthy view of the church's relationship with the state, a trifling method of manipulating science to support "biblical" views, an ignoring of Christian history prior to the reformation, the purpose and cause of Christ's death, eschatological emphases on end times, and the purpose of man.

I've listened to dozens of podcasts now and my appreciation for Eastern Orthodoxy has only grown. I still have many questions and reservations, but the depth of tradition and the ways of interpreting Holy Scripture are unsurpassed in the Protestant world. It is a generous and yet bold expression of faith.

Introduction to Muay Thai

A couple weeks back a friend, Miguel, invited me to some muay thai fights. If your not familiar with muay thai, it's basically a kickboxing martial art from, you guessed it, Thailand. Miguel used to work out and work with some of the fighters at the Mike Miles Club here in Calgary, so he got us some complimentary tickets.

We got a couple burgers at Boogies Burgers then Miguel took us to the casino in his new Volvo C30 (such a sweet car, had to mention it!). We got there a bit early and scored some tremendous 2nd row seats.

Each fighter wore ceremonial muay thai headgear and then demonstrated their particular ritual around the ring and greeted the judges and opponent. Most of the athletes were from Mike Mile's gym, the others came from other clubs in Calgary, Florida, and Thailand. Miles organized the fights and his fighters won most of the bouts.

There were 8 fights. The early ones were mostly one sided as the fighters were just starting out and their level was still being established. Most of the later fights were tight. The big hits were elbows and knees so it was much more than punching. I was expecting much more jumping and kicking, but this method seems much more defensive, much more focused on power hits than flamboyant ones.

Miguel knew heaps of people, including one spectator on his bachelor party. We sat with his entourage ringside as they liquored him up (poor guy was barely coherent at the end). I met a couple of my former students behind them.

The final bout was between a celebrated Calgary fighter named Peter Arbeau. A couple of the previous fights saw one fighter far more defensive than the other; not as engaging. Thai fighter Sakonchai Wan Charoenrit was giving it as much as Arbeau was and so we were stoked to see these two go 5 rounds. Arbeau managed to land a devastating kick to the head and knocked Charoenrit cold in the second round. Great fight, too bad it didn't last longer. The crowd went nuts though.

It's great to have friends; friends with connections, passions, and time for their friends are a life giving force.


Radio Shoutout

I got mentioned on the radio this morning. The CBC Radio 1 morning show, The Calgary Eye Opener, put out a request for listeners to send them photos of them listening to the program so they could see what some of their listeners looked like as they listened.

Amber took a shot of me eating my english muffin as I listened and I emailed it before leaving for work. On our way to work, we continued listening to the program and heard the announcers talk about my picture: eating an english muffin and corn bran  - so he must be a "regular" listener...

Har har!