Friday, October 30, 2015

Not Exactly Re-Branding

Hey folks,

Sorry that I've been quiet here lately. I've been perusing Seth Godin's book on Tribes, which is important for new authours. In this fragmented market space, an artist has to determine who their "tribe" is, that is, the people who will be drawn to their work. If I wrote erotic romance,for example, this would be easy. Unfortunately, I write a blend of genres. Yes, it's urban fantasy, but it's also near-dystopian. Post-apocalyptic, yes, but with strong noir detective roots. (Thanks, Robert B.Parker) There is also a blend of religion and spirituality and mythology, along with strong social justice commentary and a good deal of action and humour.

I have no idea who my "tribe" is.

Even my blog, which I thought I would focus on dreamers, because that's what all artists are, wasn't specific enough or wide enough. Fact is, I'm interested in a lot of things. I thought about making my blog non-political, but I am passionate about social justice, which bleeds into politics. I'm also a huge sports fan. And I love pop culture. Sigh. So you see the dilemma.

So while the experts suggest I focus on ONE SPECIFIC THING, I realize that I can't do that. This may limit my page views, but, well, I don't care. So if you see something you like, whether you're a sports fan or movie fan or want to delve into class issues, I hope you'll find something here.

The heart of a novelist is the intricacies of the human experience. That is a WIDE, WIDE net, but if I limit myself to one thing, I simply won't write. (Here. I'm ALWAYS writing)

Hope you enjoy the "new" blog. Thanks for coming on the journey with me.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays

It's a difficult thing to describe. A feeling in your stomach. A sense that this year may not be like last year, may not be like the last twenty years. A sense that, against all odds, your team, the one you've invested in since you were a kid, is actually good.

The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays didn't feel like that during the first half of the season. They gave their fans glimpses of it,some of which were heartbreaking. They blew out teams and then lost games by a run. The big hit eluded them. So did the shutdown inning,especially by their relievers. They were quixotic, half vitamin and half street drug. You didn't know what you were getting until the second or third inning rolled around. If they were going to win, you knew it. If they were going to lose, if it was close, you knew that, too.

And for a fan, if they were a drug, they weren't particularly healthy. Their run differential spoke of greatness. Their record suggested mediocrity. That's what happens when your team wins 14 - 2, and then loses the next two games of the series by a single run.

For the first half of the season, I could hear my fellow fans. 'Aren't we better than this?' I echoed those comments. The Jays lost in a variety of ways, and in such a wide fashion that calling for someone to be fired made no sense. It was like getting a book from the library and realizing that it was in a foreign language.

And then the trade deadline happened. Specifically, Alex Anthopolous happened. Or made it happen.

Troy Tulowitski, one of the five best players in the game became a Blue Jay.

David Price, a leading contender for the Cy Young award, became a Blue Jay.

Ben Revere, a true left fielder who'd led the NL in hits the year before became a Jay.

Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins were added to the bullpen.

Things changed pretty quickly after that. The questionable, 'what the hell happened' losses ended, and for the next two months the Blue Jays played with joy and verve and arrogance. They ran off another 11 game win streak, won 17 of 18, and jolted past the New York Yankees for the division lead.

It was all so sudden.So amazing. The feeling in my stomach changed, but it was still difficult to accept. For the past twenty two years, the Jays hadn't sniffed the playoffs, languishing behind the powerhouse clubs in the powerful AL East. It was the longest playoff drought in "the big Four" over that stretch.

Twenty two years of never feeling your stomach dance. Twenty two years of mediocrity. Twenty two years of noting the calendar and cheering for individual achievements. A Delgado MVP. (Should have happened) Bautista home run record. Halladay Cy Young. As a Jays' fan, this is what you expected.

At times in September, I had trouble watching the games, though I hadn't missed one in nearly seven years. It was like watching a horror movie between open fingers, but it never became horrible. There was the series in Kansas City, when they took three of four. Later, the series in New York, and then the return date in Toronto, where Russell Martin hit perhaps the biggest home run of the regular season.

The day they clinched the division, I was at a loss. I did not know what to do.I didn't even know how to celebrate.

Playoffs? We're going to the playoffs?

And then Texas. Winning two games on the road, and coming back to have Bautista hit the biggest home run of his life, and doing it in such a way that for the next two innings I watched with tears in my eyes.

The Blue Jays did not get a nationally televised game all year, but here they were,playing for the pennant. Their luck ran out, but when it was over, I was more exhausted than sad. I'd forgotten what it meant to be fan of a good team. A very good team. It had been a long time.

And now, we look towards next season. There are so many questions. What will our rotation look like? What will our bullpen look like? Bautista and Encarnacion are in the last year of their contract,what will happen to them?

We can't count on 2016 being anywhere near as exciting as this one, but that feeling, the one in your stomach that says this might be year, is still there. I'm not used to it, but I like it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Weekly Sports Burns Ed.2



Notre Dame came into the season as a favorite for the college football playoff. Or at least, a contender. Experts said it was Brian Kelly's most talented team. In the first game, they lost their number one tailback, Taream Folston, for the season. In the second game, they lost Malik Zaire, their number one quarterback.

But after their win against USC on Saturday night, the Irish sit at six and one, and still in contention for a playoff spot. How? Well, Deshone Kizer has been excellent. A true freshman, he has played much better than anyone expected. And C.J. Prosise has been a revelation at running back, making the switch from receiver and recording five, one hundred yard games already. The offensive line is filled with studs (left tackle Stanley is projected to go in the top three in the NFL draft) and they have a deep group of receivers.

The defense has struggled at times, particularly with their tackling, but they still boast a ton of playmakers (Sheldon Day and Jalen Smith) who are getting it done.

Beating USC always feels good. It's one of the oldest rivalries in college football, and so for at least one more week, Notre Dame remains in contention.


14 - 2. Cliff Pennington, a reserve shortstop pitched the ninth. Dickey never got out of the second. We ended up with four hits. So, yes, the Blue Jays are down 3 - 1 in the LCS to the Kansas City Royals who look like a machine right now, don't they? In Game Three, the Blue Jays finally got their offense on track but still ended up conceding eight runs, despite winning the game.

Facts are facts. Their pitching has been terrible. When we look back at this series, we'll probably look at a couple of things. David Price dominating until he didn't, and gave up that lead in the fateful seventh inning. The bullpen being stretched too hard because the starters weren't good enough. The bullpen, particularly the back end, with Hawkins and Tepera, just not being good enough against an awesome Kansas City bullpen. The Jays' bats going stagnant in the repugnant Kaufman field, built more like a cemetery than a baseball park designed to watch hitters slash opposite field singles and run a lot. (Boring.)

It's an old cliche, but for your team to win a championship, your stars have to be stars. Price has been a playoff bust. No, he wasn't hit that hard, but he gave up a three run lead. Donaldson has been okay, and so has Tulo, but the others?

Still, I put this on the pitching staff. They've been bad. What worries Jays' fans is that we only get two or three of our starters back next year. (Dickey has a club option.) The problem isn't the lineup. The problem is elsewhere.

Kudos for the defense, though. Aside from that Goins/Bautista miscue, they've been good. Let's get some damn outs, starters.


Troy Tulowitzki's home run to put the Jays up 6 - 2. For a brief, shining moment, he gave us life. And then today happened. Sigh.


1. There's some concern around the Raptors about Demar's slow start. There should be. I like what I'm seeing in the pre-season. Lowry looks like an MVP candidate, and both Carroll and Joseph seem to be everything we were promised they would be. But DD is a usage-heavy shooting guard who slows everything down. If he could hit the three, like he did at times last season, it would mitigate some of those issues. But every time he touches it, the pace slows down, and he takes them out of their offense.

2. JV signed a huge contract in the offseason, but we still don't know what we're going to get from him. He's still slow on his defensive rotations, and every time he makes that pump fake, the apocalypse happens, we all go for dinner, and he still hasn't decided what to do with the ball. He needs to be good for them this year for the Raptors to contend for the division. We'll see.

3. The Bills get embarrassed again. Honestly, I don't know what to think. I hate their offensive line, other than Incognito and Wood, and if you want to take a page from the college ranks, look at Notre Dame. (Or the Cowboys last year) Their line is so good, they can lose their top RB and top QB and keep going because they get protection. Manuel was better then he'd been in the past, but he simply isn't good enough to be a starter in the NFL. He misses too many throws.

4. And the defense. Truly, the Bills defense played better, especially in the first half, then the final score suggests. Too many dumb penalties. Too much taunting. Too much idiocy. Darcy looks like a great pick, and Gilmore has played well. So, um, how about some pressure on the quarterback oh vaunted defensive line? The whole team screams mediocrity.

5. Do the Leafs look like a different team or what? Yes, they lost against Pittsburgh on Saturday, but it was really a hell of a game. The results aren't there yet, and they may not come this season thanks to a lack of talent, but I honestly thought I'd be skipping their games. They play a terrific, disciplined attacking style of hockey and hold on to the puck more than they did the last two seasons combined, when they all treated the puck like it was a live hand grenade. Kudos, Mr. Babcock, good job so far.

6. In 2012, everyone thought the Giants were done, trailing 3 -1 against the Cardinals. They came back to win the series and the World Series. Here's hoping lightning strikes twice. Go Jays!

(Author's note. I've been caught up in editing my latest novel this week, which, along with the election and a few other things has diverted my attention from the national sports scene. Next week, we'll have the regular spot for what else is going on in the world of sports. Cheers!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Canada Votes!

I've mentioned here many times that this site is not political. I refuse to make it so. However, I am politically active, and I'm a proud member of a democracy. Tonight was our federal election, and so I was not able to write my normal sports blog. My only comment on the election is a brief story.

I have a slow leak in one of the front tires in my car, but I'd forgotten to check it the past few days. When I drove up to the local elementary school to vote tonight, a ruffled looking man with stained fingernails and only a few teeth left in his mouth knocked on my window. I'd planned on driving to a gas station, but he gestured with a finger for me to wait. I got out of my car.

"You can't drive with a tire like that," he said. "Wait, I think I got a pump in here."

He pulled out a compression pump (or whatever you call a thing you plug in that pumps air into tires. Clearly, I know nothing about cars) and hooked it up.

It only took a few minutes to pump my tire up.

"I'm Steve," I said.

He shook my hand. "Phil. So do you know how you're voting?"

We chatted briefly and it turned out that we were voting for two different parties.

It didn't matter. If anything, it only strengthened my confidence as a citizen of a country that embraces a wide variety of views.

We all believe different things, But kindness is all that really matters, no matter the politics.

That's what I learned tonight.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tomorrowland (2015) A Review

What if all of our scientists and dreamers and writers had a chance to remake the world? And to do it without red tape or bureaucracy or any interference?

What if we had a chance to create the world of our dreams, one that not only helped the single mother but also gave license to our most inventive engineers?

This is the question that pulsates through through Tomorrowland, A Disney movie that only occasionally becomes, well, a Disney movie. (Coke, anyone?)

George Clooney plays a retired genius, a man brought to a world of dreams before he was kicked out decades earlier. He's a recluse, living in a house rigged with bombs and high-tech work to protect himself when his mates from "Tomorrowland" come to get him.

As per most movie reviews, I don't dwell on plot points. (I have always found them the most boring parts of any review, and you can find them by going to Rotten Tomatoes.)

What interests me, as both a novelist and storyteller. is what this movie attempts to do. It is grand, unexpected, and while it doesn't land it's final punch the way it could have, it is still inspiring.

When the first looks at Tomorrowland started appearing on the web in 2014, most thought it would be a box office smash. That it would be a typical box-office summer blockbuster.

That never happened.

And it's easy to see why. I'm not a huge fan of Disney (though they do have their moments) but in this movie they refuse to objectify their female teenage protagonist. (She wears a baseball hat the entire movie, a hat that belongs to her father, whom she loves.) And while there are some bitingly obvious brand placements (Coke), they do not cater to the usual "manifest destiny" of most blockbusters.

Yes, you can read it as an ode to "positivism." (Which is easily linked to individualism) But as a dreamer, you can feel more than that from the script. This isn't simply about artists. About writers. It's a movie about anyone who wants to make the world a better place. It's about people starting their own gardens. People doing ballet. People trying to do something to change the world.

Yeah, I know. It's a cliche. And if you just read this review, maybe it all sounds like a bad commercial.

It's not.

Tomorrowland takes a swing at some big ideas about humanity. No, it does not always register. It makes the typical Disney mistake of aiming too low. (Too many robots being killed that only an eight year old would like) But it tries. And in a time when Hollywood seems intent only on sequels and prequels, Tomrrowland is a bold attempt at something new.

What would tomorrow be like if we let our scientists speak? If we let our writers and artists speak? If we let everyone who had a dream for a better place not only speak, but act?

Too often, our popcorn blockbusters help us escape, but they don't make us think. Tomorrowland isn't perfect, but it does make us think. And for that, it deserves our consideration.

Highly recommended.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Greatest Game Ever

Remember when M. Night Shayamalan was making movies where you couldn't guess the ending. Films that made you hit rewind and do the "ahh" thing and shake your head. That was what it was like to watch tonight Game Five between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Net is littered with reports on what happened, so surely you know by now. You know about the crazy Russell Martin throwing error that led to a Texas 3-2 lead in the top of the 7th. You know about the three consecutive errors in the bottom of the inning by a Texas team that had masked its defensive deficiencies for the past four games. And you certainly know about one of the biggest home runs in Blue Jays history, the mammoth three run shot by Bautista that brought the stadium to a living roar, so loud it seemed about to come alive.

As a fan, it's one of the best moments of my life. Yes, I remember Carter's home run in the World Series in '93, but the Blue Jays had been great for a long time, and they'd won the previous year. It was awesome, but it was expected.

This? This was not. This was Bruce Willis playing a ghost in Sixth Sense.

It was startling. Unexpected. And gut wrenching in emotion.

Nothing, as a Toronto sports fan, after so many years of mediocrity, could prepare you for such a moment.

I had tears in my eyes for the last two innings. And I doubt that I'm the only one.

Sports is a form of theatre, though it is often masked in macho idiocy and overstated cliches. And when you're a fan, you put up with the nonsense, the same stilted dialogue, always hoping for that one moment that changes everything. That moment that lifts you out of your seat. That moment that causes your stomach to wrench with joy and look for the nearest person to high-five. (Or that moment that gives you $100M to play with for three more movies until they realize you don't have it anymore)

Not only did Bautista hit the home run heard around Canada, we then watched the youngest player in baseball strike out four of the last five Rangers, including a swinging strike on the last pitch of the game, to complete it.

It was more than a game. It was a story told for the ages and one that will be replayed as much for generations to come. No, it wasn't the World Series. But in a city starved for winners, where films ended by the likable protagonist usually ending with a knife in their throat, this Blue Jays victory will go down in history as one of the best games this city has ever seen.

Not even Shayalaman could have written this piece.

No. It was much better than that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Weekly Sports Burns (1st. Ed.)

Welcome to the Weekly Sports Burns! If you want to know how the column works, check this out.



I was twenty-two when the Blue Jays won their second consecutive World Series. With the highest payroll in all of baseball at $56M, WAMCO (White, Alomar, Molitor, Carter, and Olerud) was a team for the ages. They'd been good for so long, it seemed inevitable that they would always be good. Then 1994 happened, the year of the strike, and everything changed. For the next twenty years they would toil in mediocrity, their highwater year an 88 win team under disgraced manager Tim Johnson. Along the way, they would never hit a real low until 2013, but in the most powerful division in baseball, they couldn't climb over the Red Sox and Yankees, who for the best part of fifteen years,  became the richest teams in the league with staggering $200M payrolls.

And then this year happened. Anthopolous, the Jays' GM, pushed all his chips into the middle of the table and turned the roster over by a staggering eighty percent in a twenty month span, and added Troy Tulowitski, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, LaTroy Hawkins, and the big get, David Price, at the trade deadline.

For the next two and a half months, the Blue Jays played at a .750 clip, unheard of in baseball, where even the worst teams win forty per cent of their games. Down eight games to the Yankees at the beginning of August, they blew past them like they were standing still, culminating in a division championship.

It's been the best year of baseball for Jays' fans in a very long time.

But after losing their first two games at home this past weekend, the Jays looked like they might be swept out by a powerful Rangers' squad with a resurgent bullpen. Tasked with winning two on the road and attempting to come back from a 2 -0 deficit for only the third time in Major League history, the bats loosened in the Texas heat, and the Jays bombed the Rangers in two games to tie the series and take it to a Game Five here in Toronto on Wednesday.

There are no guarantees, obviously. But the greatest season in baseball for Toronto fans in nearly two decades continues.

And that, was the best news of the week.


I'm tempted to point to the Jays' losing their first two games at home, but from a local standpoint, despite the Bills win over a bad Titans team, the struggles on the offensive line continue. Tennessee was in Buffalo's backfield all day. Seantrel Henderson looked about as effective an over-sized saloon door. Incognito has played very well, and Wood has been okay. But the Bills cannot allow Taylor to be running for his life all game, even if he's able to make plays with his legs (RGIII, anyone?) If the line doesn't get better, and get better fast, this team, despite their defense and weapons on offense, is not going to the playoffs.

(UPDATE) Taylor is out for several games due to a sprained MCL. Dammit!


In Tampa last weekend, they had a shot before the game of left-fielder Ben Revere chatting with some Blue Jays' fans at field level. One little boy was wearing a Revere jersey, and the left fielder took a few pictures with him and ruffled his hair. Now, players do this all the time, more than we realize, but what this notable for me was the way the woman (who might have been his mom) was communicating with the boy using sign language. I paused the TV and rewound it, and then showed my wife. I asked her what she thought, and she confirmed what I'd seen.

As someone who spent nearly twenty years working with special needs' kids, that made my night. Truly, this is what sports is about. It looks like Revere might be one of the good guys.


1. The impact of Mike Babcock is already evident. Last year, for the first in a decade, I stopped watching the Leafs. They were a damn disgrace. No effort. Everyone doing whatever the hell they wanted. No one seemed to care. But their opening game against Montreal shocked me. They played an organized and aggressive style of hockey that but a weak goal and lack of scoring would have got them the win. It's going to take a while, folks, but make no mistake, this team is FAR different from last year's team.

2. If you're not impressed by a nationally ranked college football team that has lost its starting tailback and starting quarterback (and is now starting a freshman) nothing will. Yes, they were favoured against Navy, but that triple option is a pain to defend, and Navy will be a bowl team this year. If Kizer keeps progressing, look out. Notre Dame has a ton of talent on both sides on the ball.

3. One m ore thing about the Irish, thank you NBC for showing the Alma Mater. Some of us believe in that tradition. DON'T CUT IT!

4. If you haven't seen a picture of slimmed down Kyle Lowry, you need to, Raptor fans. I hardly recognize him.

5. It's preseason, but the "new" Lowry seems to have taken his game to the next level. Like dropping forty on the Lakers the other night. Again, it's preseason, but this looks like the MVP candidate from the first two months of last season. Great news for Raptors' fans.

6. Gibbons took a lot of flack for bringing in Price so early when Dickey seemed to be cruising in the fifth inning of Sunday's Jays' game. I don't understand the fuss. Loup wasn't available, and with Cecil injured, the only lefty they had was Price. It made perfect sense to bring in Price to go through the lefty dominant lineup of the Rangers at least twice. They couldn't have done that if they weren't sold on Stroman starting Game Five. But I'm sold. And if you're not, why not? The kid's the real deal.

7. Worried about Stroman's nerves? Today he was in the clubhouse, sitting by a bunch of the media guys, getting his hair done. Yeah. The kid will be fine.



It has to be the Chicago Cubs, doesn't it, after taking a 2 - 1 lead over the Cardinals in the National League LDS. Look, everyone who follows baseball has the utmost respect for St. Louis. They run the best organization in the game and they are always in contention. (They're like the New England Patriots, only likable) But outside of Cardinals' fans, if you're not cheering for the Cubs, you might want to check your soul meter. Yeah, I'll cheer against them if they play the Jays' in the World Series, but no single fan base deserves to win more than the Cubs.


(I'm sticking with baseball a lot this week, but it's the only sport in the playoffs, and as I mentioned in my breakdown, playoffs come first.)

I hated Hundley's slide into second. I thought it warranted a two game suspension. Forget that it broke Tejada's leg, it was a dirty play. He was PAST the bag when he started to slide. If you're going to eliminate blocking the plate to protect catchers, why not protect middle infielders? Two players who were lauded and feared for their slides throughout their history were Frank Robinson and Don Baylor. And the dirtiest of them all was the first player ever elected to the Hall of Fame, Ty Cobb. (Bet you thought Ruth was the first one in, didn't you?) Cobb was famous for going spikes high. There's a reason everyone hated him. And feared him. But baseball has changed, and the game should NOT revolve around players avoiding injury.


Nothing stuck out this weekend for me, except perhaps watching the Cubs win the Wild Card game. Arrieta is just... wow. Read this if you want to know how he's emerged as such a dominant pitcher.


1. That Broncos defense is frightful. Peyton Manning has been playing like Eli played last year and it hasn't mattered. We'll see if he gets healthy. If he does, look out.

2. The Red Wings look like legit contenders to me, and that young kid, Larkin, looks special. He's the first teenager to crack the Red Wings lineup in twelve years, and you can see why. They bombed a disciplined if not terribly talented Leaf squad on Friday. If their goaltending remains solid, they're contenders. Period.

3. I honestly didn't think the Mets had much of a chance against the Dodgers, but suddenly a lineup that features YC and bite your tongue is an offensive powerhouse. As a Jays' fan, I can't help but sigh every time I watch young Thor pitch, but such is baseball.

4. I would very, very much like for the New England Patriots to stop losing. That's all.

5. The Association (NBA) is going to be interesting this year. When you watch Golden State, you can't help but wonder if the other teams are going to catch up. Because, damn, they're SO good. But they're are a lot of good teams in the West, though. I imagine it will come down to injuries. Except for the Clippers, I still think that they're overrated.

The Weekly Sports Burns (How It Works)


When I was a kid, I used to carry a tape recorder and microphone around and "interview" my friends about their latest sports heroics. I would mimic favourite announcers like Dick Vitale and Howard Cosell. When I was twenty four, I took the broadcast course at the National Institute of Broadcasting in the hopes of one day working in radio or television as a sports commentator.

It never panned out, and my love for the arts led to a writer's life. But my fandom never left. I was one of the few jocks growing up that felt equally happy to talk about the Blue Jays' lineup or Robert Jordan's "awesome" new fantasy series.

And while I've written about sports on this site before, this will be the first time that I will dedicate a single post every week to that world. I do not know what the final format will look like or how long it will be. I'm open to any suggestions, and if you like a particular section more than any other, let me know.

For every young boy and girl that put on a glove or felt the nerves dance in their stomach as they pulled on their jersey and felt the thrill of joy when their team won, and for all the fans out there who still find joy and thrill in their teams, this column is for you.



How The Column Works

The Column will be broken down into two categories, Local News and National News. Local News will deal with the local teams


Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Raptors
Buffalo Bills
Toronto Maple Leafs
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (football; my favourite team)
Any Canadian National Team


The big four sports, plus tennis and maybe golf and anything else I find interesting. (For you EPL fans, sorry, I but don't follow it.)

One last thing, playoff sports will always get priority. Always.

Okay, onto the column! See you in the next post!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Postonement (Jays Win Two; Column tomorrow)

Sorry for the irregular posting, folks. My new Monday sports column, The Weekly Burns, was supposed to start today, but it's Thanksgiving here in Canada, so between time with my family and other duties, I generally don't blog on holidays.

I can tell you that my first column will be done in great spirits, as my Blue Jays won two in Texas and head home for a decisive Game 5. Woohoo!

Go Jays!

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Add caption
Tonight my wife and I stopped by Whole Paycheck, err, Whole Foods. It was my first time there,and it was quickly evident why we didn't shop there often. The store itself was clean and quirky, in the way a store where mostly rich people shop can be.

It was amazing.

The reason we'd paid a visit was simple. As vegetarians, Thanksgiving is a time when we look for vegan turkey substitutes, particularly when we visit our families. (Every vegetarian knows this. You learn to bring your own food. It's just being considerate.) And Whole Foods has a number of great of great substitutes. We chose two Gardene turkey rolls. (If you're ranking Vegan substitutes, i recommend any Gardene product, they're all awesome. Yves has good stuff as well.) At the checkout, the magazines in the rack were very different from the ones we'd seen at Loblaws an hour earlier. The Economist. Toronto Life. GQ. Esquire.

Yeah, it was odd. But very cool.

Still, even as I looked at the other customers, I felt something like a twitch. At one point, I leaned over to Bethany and said, 'Do you think everyone here is rich? Or do you think there are a few people here like us?'


I've spent the past four months working as a house husband and full-time writer. (My wife got a new job, and we do well enough with her busy week for me to look after everything else.) I do all the cleaning and cooking and shopping, and after hours doing that, I write for the rest of the day. As of yet, I'm not being paid for my writing. I expect that to change this year.

Still, I get twitches. What would it be like to be able to shop at Whole Foods all the time? To not have to worry about income? To be able to shop wherever I wanted and not think twice about cost?

I thought about that all the way home, and by the time I pulled into our driveway, I felt a twinge of shame. My wife and I both own a vehicle. That places us in the top eight percent of the richest people in the world. And everything we have, everything, is a gift.

I didn't choose to have educated parents who impressed upon me the importance of it. I didn't choose to grow up in a home with two parents who have been married for 47 years. I didn't choose to grow up in a home where I never worried about having enough food or a bed to sleep on or parents who didn't love me.

I didn't choose any of it. And I didn't earn it.

It wasn't my hard work that landed me in Canada, one of the richest countries in the world. I was born here. I did nothing to deserve to grow up in a quiet neighbourhood that emphasized family, that welcomed my friends, that gave me memories I will cherish forever.

Thanksgiving is one of those times, whether we're religious or not, where we get an opportunity to be grateful for what we've been given. It's easy to compare our lives to those around us and find fault. We all have families with quirks, because no one is perfect. And no one has a perfect life. The thing is, that's never going to change. The only thing we can change is our perspective.

Two of my neighbours are single moms. I know the daily struggle for them because they've talked about it. Their life is hard. No, they aren't perfect and they've made some bad choices, but when you listen to how they grew up, those choices seem almost inevitable.

And I haven't had to deal with any of that.

I am so lucky.

This weekend, when you gather with your family, and that one annoying in-law or extended family member starts complaining and makes you want to tear your hair out, just walk away. Or better, talk about how lucky you are. How lucky we all are. My wife grew up in Ethiopia as a missionary kid, and she saw more poverty in a week than most of us will ever see in our lifetime. Her family tradition, and mine, was always to invite anyone over who had no place to go.

This one day, we forget about our differences and try to include one another.

It's a beautiful thing.

Don't make the mistake that I did. Appreciate what you have, and see if there's anyone that might be welcome at your table this weekend.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 09, 2015

This is Amazing

I know, I know, it just one of those damn talent shows. But this was amazing. My wife showed this to me tonight, and I had to share it.

Jays Lose - Moratorium and Other News

As any reader here must have noticed, I'm an avid sports fan. The Toronto Blue Jays are my favourite team, and after suffering their second playoff loss in as many days, I'm not of the mind to write about anything else.


1) Marcus Stroman was not only terrific this afternoon, but he has shown that he's a future ace. Despite the loss, the moment is never to big for this twenty-four-year old. That's encouraging. After they scored early, they didn't touch him until that bloop single in the eighth inning.

2) The defense has let them down in this series. Yes, they've made some nice plays in the field, but in the playoffs, everything changes on an error. That Martin error cost them the game. He's a great player, but he threw the ball well early for a rundown. That's nothing but nerves and anxiousness. It happens. But you can't beat a team like Texas with those kinds of mistakes. You can't.

3) The bullpen was magnificent. Two runs over seven innings, and those runs courtesy of the umps. Wonderful.

4) The Umps. Look, every team that loses in the playoffs complains about the umpires. But this was a disgrace. There was a detailed piece about the umpires on Grantland before last year's playoffs that show how umpires are selected. MLB insists that they choose based on performance. Except its not true. The umpire's union is so strong, only veterans work, regardless of what kind of year they had. This is unacceptable. Forget the horrific and ever shifting strike zone, what's the point of having replay, when a player is clearly being tagged and off the base, and you're going to call him safe. I won't say that the umps cost the Jays the game (look to my next point for that) but it cost a team not playing very well a chance to even the series.

5) Donaldson, Tulo, Edwin, and Bautista are a combined 5 for 35 in the series. Tulo is 0 - 10 with four strikeouts. This is the series right here. Today they had 8 hits over 14 innings. If your four superstars don't produce, you don't win. Period.

6) I don't buy into any of the stuff about them "taking the foot off the gas pedal." Honestly, I think the season may have ended (it's not over yet) when Osuna blew that game in Tampa on Saturday. I have no idea why people thought Texas was a good matchup for the Jays. Sure, they have two left-handed startes at the back of their rotation (I don't count Hamels, he's an ace), but they've show they struggle with Gallardo and the Rangers have Hamels. In a five game series, with their offense, that's plenty. Besides, they were nearly as hot as the Jays over the past two months.

To me, it was never about home field through the playoffs, it was about matchups. Toronto blew that game, and they got the one team in the league that's their krypotonite.

7) Loup looked okay today (the ball Hamilton hit was a shot), but losing Cecil is significant. How important it is, I'm not sure, but he's been the team's most consistent (and most dominant) reliever through the second half.


The Jays will win in Game 3. (Perez? Who? And a lefty?) I honestly think this team plays better as an underdog, and I think their hitters are due for a big game. (It'll be 10-2 or something like that on Sunday) Estrada has been great all year. I expect he'll be great again.

This series will be decided in Game 4. The odds suggest that Texas will not lose three games in a row. But the odds also suggested that a home-dominant club like the Jays wouldn't lose two in a row at home.

I think Texas wins a close Game Four to close it out. But if they don't, the Jays will win in five.

Go Jays!


I put a note out on Facebook last week asking if some of my readers and fellow sports fans would be interested in a weekly sports post. I received enough feedback to make it a go.

I'll unveil the Weekly Sports Burns this Monday. I have no idea how long it will be yet, but I'll divide the column between Local Sports (my teams) and National Sports (everyone else). Come along for the ride if you're interested, and if you have any comments or questions or requests, let me know.

Here's hoping I get to write that blog in a better mood.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Two Things We Should All Do

The fall had come, and my wife was huddled in a warm green sweater, me in my winter jacket as we sat on our porch. Her long day had just ended and mine was about to begin. This had become our ritual since I'd started writing full-time four months earlier. A chance to catch up and spend some quality time together. By the time she got home at night, I'd usually finished my chores around the house and whatever shopping and cooking needed to be done. When she went to bed, I went to work, writing in the silence of the quiet hours late at night.

Our conversations ranged from work, both hers and mine, and other topics around the news and in our own life.

It was my favourite time of the day.

Tonight, we'd been talking about the personality test, a free test that copied the famous Myers-Brigg test that I'd taken in Seminary in my leadership course. Though we shared the same worldview (basically, we're both hippies) our personalities were very different.

"You know what I don't understand," she said, taking a sip of wine. "I don't understand how you can be so closed and private when it comes people coming over or visitors or anything in the physical world, and yet so open and vulnerable in your writing."

Bethany had been raised in Ethiopia, the daughter of missionaries, a country known for its hospitality. Her easy going nature had no issues with sudden visitors. But to write a blog this one? That would never happen.

"It's because I have to be." I said. "Writers need to be open and vulnerable to be interesting. The only experience that I can truly mine is my own, and I have to be willing to dig into it to write things that matter. In other words, if I'm not willing to look into the mirror and be honest about what I see, I can't be an artist."

I believe this is true for everyone who has goals and dreams, not just artists. Whatever it is you're trying to achieve, an inability to look in the mirror and be honest will cause you to fail.

There are, I think, two things we all need to do.

Get the Windex out, spray down the glass, wipe it, and take a good look. Do you want a new house? A better job? A book deal? What's it going to take to get there? How much money will you need? How many hours do you need to spend to get good enough to achieve it? Do you have the discipline to do it? If you hedge on any of these questions, you won't get there without simply getting lucky.

When I first started writing, it still held a kind of mystique for me. I wrote a little, dreamed about it, talked about it. But I was afraid to look in the mirror. My first characters were nothing more than cardboard cutouts, characters that I thought people would like because they were so generic. The more I read, the more I realized that I needed to go further. I needed to stop worrying about what my parents would think or my church would think or what my friends would think.

I needed to lay it bare.

I can tell you, as someone who has battled depression their whole life, this wasn't easy. I wanted to lock away the ugly parts of me. Not look at them. I wanted to lock away my beliefs that didn't make sense and not examine them. I wanted to see myself as the person I imagined that I was, instead of the person that I'd become.

It wasn't until I rid myself of these hangups and recognized that I was human, and that there were other people out there struggling like I was, that I found my voice. After that, the discipline became easier. Words flowed from my fingers. I wasn't writing to make people happy any more, to please certain segments of society, I was, as one writer put up, cutting my vein open and letting it bleed onto the page."

Nothing has been the same since.


We dreamers are often fed a lot of cliche stuff about how important the process is and that the journey matters more than the destination. That's hard to accept when you have two little kids, a job you hate, and you're frantically scribbling lines or practicing your latest song or taking a night course. Who the hell cares about the journey? It's all about the destination, because otherwise, what have you gained.

The temptation, then, is to take shortcuts. For a writer, that might mean self-publishing before your work is ready. (I'm not against self-publishing. Not at all. But you need more than your friend saying "it's good" before you publish your first novel.) For others, it could mean taking financial risks to get you the house sooner than you could afford it.

Whatever it is, understand this: there are no steroids for dreamers. You have to run the race. You have to cramp up and fall. You have to walk when your sides feel like someone is jamming a knife into them. You have to move when your legs are numb. This is the process. This is the discipline. This is what turns adequate writers into good ones. This is what turns so-so musicians into successful bands. This is what turns your professional life from mediocrity to success.

Running cleanly means accepting the pain that comes with it.

If there was a shortcut to achieving our dreams and goals, one that worked, i would advocate for it. Instead, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in Outliers, "talent" costs about ten thousand hours.

Look, to be a dreamer is a hard thing. We have to ignore what other say. We have to discipline ourselves to do things that many people are not doing. We have to keep our eyes focused on a distant horizon with no guarantee of what's to come.

That's what makes you so special. You can do it.

Now go get it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

We need more of THIS

There a time at night, right around three o'clock in the morning, before the morning risers and after the night owls have gone to bed, when everything goes still. And quiet. From my front porch, where I work, I detect only the barest of movements. A neighbour's cat. The rustling of leaves. A chipmunk scurrying along a telephone wire. The movements are sudden, made larger by the silence around them. This is my favourite time of night to take a short break and just walk onto the sidewalk and stare up at the heavens.

Bethany and I live in the suburbs, so it is not the view that one would get further north into the country. Nor does it in anyway equal the view she grew up with Ethiopia, where the legendary African skies are as beautiful as they are mythical.

No, peering up through the telephone wires and old maples that form the canopy over our street can't equal that. But I like to look just the same. I like to explore the possibility of vastness, and eternity, through the lenses of the stars. There is so much we do not know, and in those moments, more than ever, I am aware of my humanity. Aware of how small I am. Aware of how little knowledge I possess, Google be damned.

It seems, with increasing proclivity, that Western culture is getting louder and louder. Libraries, with few exceptions (Thank you, Richmond Hill Central), offer video games for kids, and allow them to play those games at full volume. Grocery stores have their own radio stations (this is true) and shopping malls are like night clubs. Think about it. Think about one place you can go where there is no background music. No noise of any kind.

As a writer, silence is and must be my friend. Even though I listen to soundtrack music (no words) when I write, I only do it to block out the constant noise in a society that more intent on distraction than contemplation. More intent on dazzling you than making you think. More intent on the parade than the process.

The results are increasingly evident. Our inability to put our damn phone damn while we're in the checkout line or driving or at work means everyone is always talking, but who's listening. More importantly, are we listening to ourselves? 

If we're incapable of self-reflection, we create an increasingly surficial society. And for that, we need to experience silence. As Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., explains,

"The function of self-reflection is to make meaning. The creation of meaning is at the heart of what it means to be human."

Look, I know I may sound like I'm getting old and grumpy, but there is no question that literacy is affected by noise. People who read a lot don't mind silence because reading requires reflection, which requires fewer, not greater, distractions. We need our society to move forward, not back. We do not want to fight the same battle that we fought when it comes to equality and justice and freedom simply because our kids want noise all the time. We don't want to lose the gains we've made in medicine because people would rather read a two page Wikipedia page than go to school. And mostly, we don't want to lose the ability to dream because we're always running from one thing to the next, with no awareness of where we're going.

I'm not saying that music isn't important, or that connecting with others shouldn't happen. What I'm saying is that maybe we need to take a bit more time thinking quietly without the flash and buzz and fireworks of the latest Netflix show going on in the background.

Dreamers need to be able to discern where they are before they'll ever go anywhere. So some time this week, turn the radio off on your way to work. Think about what you want in life. Think about what you want to do next. Think about what you need to do next to get there.

Above all, enjoy the quiet. Learn to relish it, embrace it. Even as we sit in those metal coffins, week after week, we can learn to go somewhere else, envision what will happen, and motivate ourselves to take the next step.

And we can do it in silence. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The One Thing Every Dreamer Must Do

The house is quiet today. Bethany works late on Tuesdays, and its just me and our two Garfields, Octavian and Nelson (17 and 23lbs), who are lounging by the front window. As someone who has waited their entire life to write professionally, it's now time to make up my glamorous to-do list for the day.

1. Sweep
2. Straighten
3. Clean the bathroom
4. Grocery shopping
5. Clean the litter box
6. Edit a piece written by a friend
7. Write a blog
8. Clean Bethany's lunch dishes from today
9. Make and prepare Bethany's lunch and dinner for tomorrow
10. Clean kitchen and put all dishes away
11. Prep coffee for tomorrow.
12. Write 2000 words in my new novel, Storms
13. Edit early chapters from previous novel
14. Spend at least an hour reading fiction (Not a chore, but it needs to be included, writers HAVE to read)
15. Three twitter comments a day
16. Attend to various social media platforms

Welcome to the life of a professional writer! And if it looks vaguely familiar, perhaps something some of you from a certain vintage remember, Yes. I, a 210lb weightlifter with a shaved head, is a traditional housewife.

Four months ago I was fired (something I will talk about later this week. Teaser: let's just say don't stand up for yourself if you don't have a union.) and my wife picked up a new job the same day I was released. For a variety of reasons, I decided to take a shot a becoming a pro. Which meant I needed to assume all those other jobs that my wife had previously shared.

That list may not look like much, but if you TRULY want your house to be clean, that list is a fourteen hour day. And its every day. My one break comes on the weekends, when I don't blog. Can any women relate to this? Anyone at all? (And I know that I have a number of readers who also have kids, on top of that list, and they're still working on pursuing their dreams. Which, I have to say, totally kicks ass.)

Which leads me to the point of this post: I was raised in a traditional home, my mom worked part-time and stayed home with the kids. She did the cooking and cleaning while my dad went to work every day from Monday to Friday. He handled the cars, the house repairs, the bills. back in the eighties, in the small Catholic town where I was raised, this was not unusual.

Maybe it was because I was the youngest, I don't know, but I was a dreamer from the time I was a kid, though it wasn't until I was twenty-four until I figured out what I wanted to do. Only problem was that I had no idea how to get there. I worked as a youthworker during the day and wrote at night. The writing only paid sporadically and the youth work paid little.

It didn't matter. The point was the dream. I liked helping kids and I loved writing stories, so I went my own way.

It's the one thing every dreamer MUST do, and there is no compromise here.


Obviously, that doesn't mean everyone needs to quit their job and become a full-time house husband or house wife. (We must still be responsible.) But you can't be ashamed of it, either. I know a lot of men that would never do what I'm doing, because they would feel (wrongly) diminished by it.(This is particularly true of those of certain vintage and culture. My hope is that we'll move away from that towards the equality. True equality.) Frankly, it doesn't bother me. It doesn't bother me that Bethany knows more about cars than I do (I like the red ones) or that she fixes things around the house or that she handles the budget. What matters is that I do the things I'm good at, like care giving, and write.

You can't let others dictate who you are and who you want be and where you want to go. You have to walk your own path. You have to own it. You have to be proud of it.

This has been a big year for me. When Storms, my latest novel, is done, that will be four novels in sixteen months. I'm proud of all of them. An editor is looking at my last three this month. If the situation for us changes the next two months, I'll find a job, and we'll figure out where we'll go from there as a couple. But no one else will dictate what I can or cannot do. What I should or should not do. Whether it's because I'm a man or because it isn't "normal" for a man to do the cooking and cleaning or for any other reason.

Dreamers choose their own path. Why? Because they must.

Whatever your goal in life is, whatever your dream, don't let anyone tell you what road to take. Choose the one that causes your stomach to dance and your heart to beat more quickly. We only go around this planet once. Why not make the best of it?

Monday, October 05, 2015

22 Years - An Ode to Dreamers, the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays

I remember the first time they won the World Series. I was 21 years old. The Blue Jays had been so good during my teens, however, so good that the championship felt more like a coronation.  What I didn't know was that they wouldn't sniff the playoffs again until well after my 40th birthday, producing mediocre teams that were never awful, but rarely competitive.

What a difference a year makes.

With a lineup so long it extends 3000 miles from Vancouver to St, John, from 1 through 9, the Toronto Blue Jays used some key acquisitions (Price, Tulo, Revere, Lowe, Hawkins), and some long time stars (Bautista, Eddie) as well as some off-season pick-ups (Donaldson, Russell) to fashion a season that any novelist, any storyteller, any dreamer, would love. (I would love to write this screenplay!)

Watching their goggled, champagne and beer soaked festivities when they clinched the division in the clubhouse was as close to I can remember, as a sports fan, of truly living vicariously through one of my teams.(I asked my wife if we had some goggles, sadly, we did not)

I know that this website is about dreams, and one might wonder what a professional sports team has to do with that. But like many dreamers, I grew up a fan. I loved the stories of players being second-guessed, of working their whole life towards a dream. No doubt they heard the same stuff we all hear. "Get a regular job. Become an honest citizen. Why the hell are you still trying to make it by playing a stupid game?"

I think about Chris Colabello, who spent seven years(!) in Independent baseball making about as much as someone working at Molly Maid, still believing he could do it. Or Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays' highlight reel center fielder, drafted in the 32nd round and being doubted every step of the way.

As a fan, sports can be draining. This is especially true of Toronto sports fans. (I see you Cleveland) The Bills, the most followed team in Southern Ontario, haven't been to the NFL playoffs in fifteen years. The Raptors (God Bless Them!) made it to the playoffs the past two years, but were swept in the first round and didn't look competitive. The Toronto Maple Leafs are a team that plays in the NHL. They haven't been to the Cup Finals since 1967. (I see you, Cubs' fans.)

So when a season like this happens, especially in an immersive sport like baseball, you revel in it. And as a dreamer and writer, with every home run, with every great defensive play, and every key strikeout, it causes you to throw your hands up in joy. Why? Because every single member of a professional sports team is a dreamer, that's why. They've been told they're whole life that the odds were low. That they had to be prepared for failure. That they would only make it if they were lucky.

Why do you think fans buy in so much?

Many experts have picked the Blue Jays, with their thunderous offense and what amounts to two aces in their rotation (Price and Stroman) as World Series favourites. Maybe, but playoff baseball is essentially tournament baseball, so anything can happen.

If they do win though, I will celebrate this more than I did when I was twenty-one. Back then, as a late bloomer, I didn't realize that I wanted to be a writer. Didn't realize that the one dream that would consume me for the next two decades would never compel me to mix the two, that throughout my writing life, I'd never seen my favourite team in the post season. And I didn't realize that the price I would pay for those dreams, or the rewards from it, even as I watched our boys flounder, year after year.

Well, they're back. A bunch of dreamers from all over the world, put together to achieve the ultimate prize.

Go get 'em, boys. And like Wee Will Keeler once said. 'hit 'em where they ain't!'


Friday, October 02, 2015

My Ten Greatest Inspirational Movies of All Time (Part II)

When we talk about inspirational movies, we're usually talking about sports films. However, there's a wide range of movies that didn't involve sports that were also inspiring. For my list, the rules are simple.

One, I have to have seen the film.

Two, the film needs to have have an impact on me in a visceral way. I know that sounds strange when you're making a list of inspirational films, It's just, how many times do you see movies like Brian's Song, released in 1971, on that list, and the writer is under thirty. Not that it isn't a good story, but come on.

Like most lists, this is completely subjective. And I'd love for your feedback as to movies I missed and ones that I should have included.

One final note. A movie doesn't have to be about someone achieving something, whether they become champions or famous, to be inspirational. That needs to be said, because I'm sure a number of people will look at some of these choices and may wonder how they're inspirational. That's why a list like this is subjective.

These films inspired me, and as such, have probably been watched multiple times.

If you're looking for films that didn't make the list, but might interest you, check out my Friend's Suggestions on yesterday's post. 

So here they are, my top five inspirational films of all time!

#5 A Knight's Tale

Paul Bettany makes every movie he's in a good place to go, and (the departed) Heath Ledger is wonderful here, too. So is the rest of the cast. Call this movie "airy" or "silly" if you like, but if you want to be inspired, throw this one on. You won' regret it.

Favourite Moment: As with alll these films, there are so many. But I particularly love when the Black Prince exonerates William and knights him. Great stuff.


This film won best picture, and then was criticized as being "an idealist's choice." Nonsense. It's clever and accessible, and both Joseph Fienes and Gwyneth Paltrow do their best work here. There just isn't anything that isn't inspiring here for me. Wonderful, wonderful film.

Favourite Moment: The final play, when Paltrow plays the role of Juliet. The ending is fantastic as well.


It has stood the test of time. Surprisingly, it wasn't nearly as popular when it was released. But the basic question is one that can't help but get you, and Stewart's performance may me be his best. A Christmas tradition, and a movie that never does anything but inspire you.

Favourite Moment: Auld Lang Syne. Nothing else needs to be said. Oh, and pass the Kleenex.


I was going to include the trailer, but the trailers they made forty years ago were garbage. Anyway, this film still holds up after so many years. For me, it's one of the best romantic films in the past forty years. (Both I and II) After that, the films devolve into entertainment. But this film won eight Academy awards for a reason.

I watch this film a few times a year, sometimes more. With its low budget and gritty framing and terrific writing (by Stallone), it never feels "untrue." I can't think of a better compliment. Forget how Stallone became a caricature of himself and watch Rocky again. He was great, and so is this is this film.


When I first started compiling this list, I thought the race for Number One would be complicated. Difficult.

It wasn't.

Without question, this is the greatest inspirational movie of all time. It's based on a true story, and while the film takes some fictitious license, that license is limited.

I grew up a Catholic, a third-generation Notre Dame fan, but what makes this film work is the earnestness of a true underdog trying to do something that no one believed he could possibly achieve. More, he didn't win a championship, this isn't that kind of film. It's focus remains solely on an underdog who does everything he can to attain his dream. Glorious.

Favourite Moment: When he sits on the rock and finally opens that acceptance letter from Notre Dame. Tears. Every. Single. Time.

And THIS is my greatest inspirational film of all time.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

My 10 Greatest Inspirational Movies of All Time (Part I)

When we talk about inspirational movies, we're usually talking about sports films. However, there's a wide range of movies that didn't involve sports that were also inspiring. For my list, the rules are simple.

One, I have to have seen the film.

Two, the film needs to have have an impact on me in a visceral way. I know that sounds strange when you're making a list of inspirational films, It's just, how many times do you see movies like Brian's Song, released in 1971, on that list, and the writer is under thirty. Not that it isn't a good story, but come on.

Like most lists, this is completely subjective. And I'd love for your feedback as to movies I missed and ones that I should have included.

One final note. A movie doesn't have to be about someone achieving something, whether they become champions or famous, to be inspirational. That needs to be said, because I'm sure a number of people will look at some of these choices and may wonder how they're inspirational. That's why a list like this is subjective.

These films inspired me, and as such, have probably been watched multiple times.


I put a request out on my Facebook for suggestions, and these are the ones I received. A number of them I either haven't seen or they didn't make my Top Ten, but they're all terrific films. If you're looking for an inspirational movie this weekend, try one of these!

The Lives of Others, Blindside, The Duff, Dirty Dancing, Amelie, Fight Club, Rocky IV, Beaches, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Passion of the Christ, When The Game Stands Tall, For The Love of the Game, About Time, Magnolia, Schindler's List, El Camino, Seabiscuit, The Thin Red Line, Pride and Prejudice (the miniseries, and it gets included because it's awesome), Ever After, A Walk to Remember


These were films I considered but, for a variety of reasons, didn't make it into the Top Ten. Nonetheless, I recommend all of them. (Obviously)

Dead Poets Society, Rocky II, Aspen Extreme, Cinderella Man, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Hoosiers, Slumdog Millionaire (my greatest experience ever in a movie theatre)

The hardest to leave off this list was Dead Poets Society. I LOVE that film, and it is still one Robin Williams' finest performances. But it came out when I was fifteen, and probably too young to appreciate it by the time I saw it.

Hoosiers was also difficult to leave off the list. I categorize it as my favourite sports film of all time, but in terms of inspiration, there were, for me, just a few better choices. Still, it's a wonderful film. Six months from now, if I were to do this list again, it might be on it.

I don't give a description of every film, you can find that anywhere, but I do not my favourite moment in the film.



I never get tired of this one. A young Homer Hickham defies the odds and wrestles with his family to pursue his dreams. Based on a true story.

FAVOURITE MOMENT: The final rocket, when his dad comes to watch. There are a number of great scenes, especially with his teacher who inspires him, but I loved it because it was so earned. Awesome.


Yes, yes. I'm a writer. But it's difficult to create inspirational "writer" movies because the act of writing is so stationary and non-visual. (Oh, look at her at that keyboard!) But this is probably the best one out there. (Though I enjoyed Wonder Boys as well)

FAVOURITE SCENE: When William Forrester appears at the school to defend Jamal, and reads his work in front of Jamal's teacher.


There are going to be more sports movies on here than in other genres because they tend to be inspirational and because I'm a sports nut. Baseball (along with boxing) are the two most cinematic sports, and both have a long literary history as well.

In this case, an in-his-prime Kevin Costner gives a tremendous "every man" performance as a man seeking something more.

FAVOURITE SCENE: "Hey dad, wanna have a catch?" Tears. Honestly. One of my favourite scenes of all time.


First, let's just all take a second to give thanks that the way they do trailers now (and they're much more expensive) are about twenty times better then they used to be. Wow.

Okay, rant over. On to the movie.

Look, we all know about Damon and Affleck, and they're both great in this film. (Affleck doesn't get enough credit for his work here.) But this is Robin Williams' film. He's the anchor. Skarsgard is excellent, and Minnie Driver doesn't actually look like she hates everyone, but this is about Williams, who won a best supporting role for his work here.

I wrote about Williams a year ago. And as someone who has always battled depression, his death affected me greatly. How ironic then, that two of his films (Dead Poets was #12 for me) continue to inspire us.

FAVOURITE MOMENT: A lot of people may cite the "it's not your fault" scene, and I'd have no quibble with that, but I liked the scene when Williams tells Damon he's going to put his "cards on the table" again. Mentoring relationships do not work one way. As much as he's helped Damon, Williams has also been inspired to "go for it" again. Terrific film.


Shawshank is probably the best Stephen King story ever. (Yes, that's surprising isn't it.) Beautifully acted, it wasn't a hit when it arrived at theaters, but found its popularity on the home market. It is today, on of our treasured films. And if you ever feel like the world has consigned your fate, watch this. You won't regret it.

FAVOURITE MOMENT: "I guess it comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living. Or get busy dying."

What he said. Be inspired.

I'll list my TOP FIVE tomorrow.