Thursday, June 9, 2016

Stanley Butters

I grew up playing hockey as the son of a man who grew up playing hockey. My dad has two signed letters from the then General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings, Jack Adams, inviting him to come to training camp. My young father declined both invitations and went on to have a 34-year career as a public educator in Toronto. The Maple Leafs are his team but he holds the Red Wings in high regard after the interest they showed in my father and his hockey abilities.



So, to me, it seemed entirely fitting in 2002 that the day after the Stanley Cup was awarded  to the Detroit Red Wings that my first child, my daughter Avery, was born. I've told this story before but I'll sum it up for everyone again.

It was June 13, 2002, and my wife was 37-weeks pregnant. With it being her first child and everything progressing normally we weren't planning on her giving birth quite yet. We were lying in bed watching the hockey game, well, I was watching and my wife was doing a good job of not being too annoyed with my talking to the television as I watched. Detroit won and Steve Yzerman skated over to The Cup with his daughter at his side. As soon as he lifted the cup and handed it to coach Scotty Bowman I leaned over and patted her belly and said, "Okay, you can give birth now." Well, wouldn't you know it? The next morning she woke me up at some ungodly hour and told me that her water broke. At 17:17 on June 14, 2002, our daughter came into the world. I finally had my very own little Stanley Cup.




Last year was the first time since 2002 that the Stanley Cup was handed out on June 13. Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins could win it if they beat the San Jose Sharks on home ice. If not, game six will go on Sunday night. If San Jose wins that one then game seven will be on June 15. So, there's no chance for a repeat of my special moment. In that case, I'd rather Pittsburgh end it quickly. That way I still stand a chance to win a hundred bucks in a hockey pool.

Still, I'll be watching the Cup deciding games to the very end regardless of how late they run. It's something I've been doing for as long as I can remember. There's something about seeing that trophy get hoisted in the air that gives me chills. I got to touch it at the Hockey Hall of Fame once and I was in complete awe. It's the greatest trophy in all of sport and I will forever associate it with one of the greatest moments in my life.


~ Andrew

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Sound of Music - Ranking Revealed

Over the last while, in an homage to High Fidelity I've been writing about my Top 5 Albums of All Time. I used some basic criteria to make the list:
  • Number of songs I like on the album (i.e. the fewer songs I skip over, the better)
  • Emotional impact of the album (i.e. how does listening to it make me feel?)
  • Composition of the album (i.e. are the songs arranged in an order I find pleasing?)
Truthfully, though, I went with my gut. I tried to pretend someone asked me, "What's your favourite album of all time?" and then answered as quickly as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat four more times. I spat them out in five blog posts with some detailed explanations and stories behind each one. What I didn't do was put them in order. This post is designed to remedy that.

The first one was easy. The next four? Not so much.

Number 5: Shakespeare My Butt - Lowest of the Low
This is a really fun album with some really happy memories attached to it. If you haven't listened to this one (and a lot of people won't have) you should add it to your collection.

Number 4: Ten - Pearl Jam
I saw these guys play shows twenty years apart and the songs they played off this album still held up. This album will never grow old. 

Number 3: Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Turn out the lights, close your eyes, maybe have a sandwich, and play this album start to finish. Best destresser ever. 

Number 2: In The Trees - The Watchmen
Another Canadian gem. Such great lyrics and the vocals are truly a gift to your ears.

Number 1: The Joshua Tree - U2
I could listen to this album every day and not tire of it. It's the reason it's #1 and my always answer to the question, "If you were stranded on a desert island and only had one album, which one would you want it to be?"

Of course, no Top X list wold be complete without some honourable mentions! Give these a look-see. I know you won't be disappointed. I'll add more as I get around to it. For now, these will do the trick.

  • The Watchmen - McLaren Furnace Room
  • RUSH - Moving Pictures
  • Led Zeppelin - IV
  • The Beatles - The White Album
  • Nirvana - Nevermind
  • Pink Floyd - The Wall
  • The Tragically Hip - Road Apples

Happy listening!

~Andrew

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May The McFourth Be With You

May 4 is a big day for Star Wars nerds. Fans all over the globe run around greeting each other with, "May the fourth be with you!" My son's class is encouraging the kids to come dressed up as Star Wars characters and is allowing light sabers in the classroom. My wife, out of town tonight and most of the day tomorrow, left a note with the greeting on the fridge. It's going to be a good day, as it is every year.


What's going to make this year's May 4th even better is the fact that it's also McHappy Day. For those who aren't aware, this is the day that McDonald's donates proceeds from every Big Mac, hot beverage, or Happy Meal sale to Ronald McDonald House

I know, I know, McDonald's isn't the greatest food in the world, but they do some really great things with the money. My wife and I saw it first hand when we were at McMaster Children's hospital last year. Our daughter had spinal surgery to correct severe scoliosis and my wife and I qualified to stay at Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton, across the street from the hospital. Avery spent 11 hours in surgery, 18 hours in the pediatric ICU and then 7 days in the hospital ward. Since we only qualified in distance by a couple kilometers, had a great support system between family, friends, and very understanding employers, and the ability to drive back and forth without issue we decided to not take up a room at Ronald McDonald House so that people who were truly out of options could take advantage of the facilities. 

What we didn't know until a couple days at the hospital was that there was a Ronald McDonald House room on our floor. It was a complete and total savior. While our situation and support network didn't have us feeling like we should have used RMcD House we completely underestimated what kind of toll it would take on us. Knowing that there was a retreat in the middle of the hospital where we could go and get home cooked food, muffins, coffee, and beverages, watch TV, read a newspaper, lounge on the couch, take a nap, or just plain interact with other people was a godsend. 

When you're going through the worst experience that you can imagine, when you're filled to the brim with worry, it's little gestures of kindness that make the difference, that keep you hopeful, that let you know that you're not alone and that there's at least one thing that you don't have to worry about. 

So please, from a parent who has seen the true value of the services that Ronald McDonald House offers, take your kids to McDonald's tomorrow. Let them have a Happy Meal. Get yourself a coffee. You can just plain old fashioned donate cash if you want. They're giving away fancy socks if you donate five bucks!

~ Andrew

Saturday, April 30, 2016

You Have Until May 31 To Buy Their Books

I'll do everything I can to support my friends with Booktrope, who announced yesterday that they are shuttering the windows and closing its doors. I whipped up a quick link to "Booktrope" over at Amazon but I thought that I could do better.

With that in mind, here is a more comprehensive list of authors you should buy books from before May 31, 2016.

I've started to add others who can provide services and I'll update the links when I have new websites for authors that are republishing.

If you know of someone who should be on the list, just send me an email and I'll happily add them.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Support Booktrope Authors

So as of May 31 Booktrope will be no more. 

This means very little for me professionally, but it means a lot to the hybrid publishing industry, 

and it means a whole hell of a lot to a large number of my friends. I’m not sure what I can do to help aside from supporting them and helping promote their work, so that’s precisely what I’ll do.

I’ve set up this handy little shortcut that you can click and find a whole whack of talented authors to buy

books from:

http://bit.ly/helpBTauthors


To all my friends wondering what the hell is going to happen now I say stay strong and keep writing. 


You got this.