Archive for February, 2009

My Granddad

granddad-and-gram
James Arthur Groves was born on December 27, 1929. An identical twin, he spent much of his life trying to distinguish himself from his brother, Norman Charles. My great-aunt Marion once told me that one of the twins had been dropped on his head as a child, only no one was entirely sure which twin it had been. My grandfather was adamant that it had been Norman; however, a series of X-Rays my grandfather endured while in his early 70s had solved the mystery and found this not to be the case. 

I first met James Groves in November of 1984. We bonded over a shared genetic history and our mutual love of naps. A constant over-achiever, I cemented my place in his heart when my first distinguishable word was “Granddad.” Perhaps this is an appropriate time to mention that I had a slight speech impediment until the age of four and spoke so quickly that very few people ever actually knew what I was saying. 

But I digress.

Those around him saw James Groves as a philanthropist and a socialite. He had been the President of the Hamilton Philharmonic and of the Hamilton Scottish Rite. He attended all of the right functions and had friends in all of the right places. That said, very few of those people knew the same man that I knew. 

They never met the man who decided a wonderful family tradition would be for all the grandchildren, at every special occasion, to gather round and watch Alice in Wonderland on the television.

To this day, I have nightmares about the Jabberwocky (see above video at around 2:28). Sure, now I can tell that it’s a person in a relatively unconvincing costume, but, from the time I was two just up until I turned twelve (which was coincidentally when someone finally hid the VHS tape my grandfather had recorded the show on to), I found the whole thing incredibly traumatizing.

Music from the Early ’90s

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I just can’t help it; I am still having a somewhat disturbing love affair with the terrible techno-like dance music that was so prevalent from 1991 to 1994. As an impressionable youth, I remember waiting with anticipation each year for MuchMusic’s official Dance Mix compilation to be released (on cassette tape no less). 

markymark
Do you remember when Mark Whalberg was known simply as Marky Mark? I do. The poor young man (who appeared to be allergic to clothing) genuinely believed in the longevity of his music career. But where did the Funky Bunch go? A better question still, who were the Funky Bunch?

And lest we forget OPP? No matter how many times Naughty By Nature tried to explain it to me, it was not until the invention of the Urban Dictionary that I realized I was not down with it

My love of this musical “era” even briefly inspired me to try to revive the Tag Team’s musical career. “Whoomp! There it is!” I would shout whenever the chance arose. As the Tag Team have not had an astounding come back, it is safe to assume my attempts failed. 

But do not weep for these musical groups of yore, for they are not lost to us. They live on.. in my bedroom.. when I play their music and sing to myself in the mirror while doing the running-man.

Libraries

library

It had been a year since I had last been to the Burlington Public Library, and, upon first sitting down at one of the cubicles, I wondered what had kept me away for so long. A few minutes later, it hit me: the smell. Not of the library itself, the building is exceptionally clean and the cafe on the ground level causes the faint aroma of coffee to permeate through the three floors of well-lit stacks. No, the odour that I had been assaulted by originated from the cubicle adjacent to mine.

A man, who appeared to be in his late fifties, was seated next to me, tapping furiously away at the keys on his laptop. His hair resembled a bird’s nest, with tresses twisted and tatted, sticking out in every direction. He looked as though he had been in the library for days, although I knew this not to be the case as it was 12 noon, and the library only opened its doors at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. 

In spite of my fragrant neighbour, I harrowed on with my mission for the day. I was a studious student, steadfastly studying. All sibilance aside, I had assignments to complete and chapters to read. It was just too easy to procrastinate within the walls of my own home, and the library provided the atmosphere I required to buckle down and finish the work I needed to get done. 

Libraries have become my new favourite place to be. If you were to ask any of the individuals I typically associate with during the week where to find me during our lunch hours, they would surely reply, “In the library.” The Niagara College library is my preferred location to kill time between classes. I find a spot to sit down and plug in my laptop, and then I spend the next hour diligently working away at whatever assignment is due next. I once even took a nap in the library. It was unintentional, of course, and I am pretty sure that I drooled all over the slides I had printed out for my Public Relations Principles class. But I will tell you a secret, Internet: I went to class that afternoon feeling fully refreshed.

Algonquin Park

algonquin

It was 4 a.m., and I was huddled in my sleeping bag trying to slow my rapidly beating heart. I could hear the cause of my distress, a six hundred pound black bear, huffing and snuffing directly outside of my tent.

My tent
My ultra-light tent.
Made of incredibly thin nylon and almost non-existent polyester mesh. 

I silently cursed myself for not purchasing a tent made of steel. Granted, it would be heavy to carry around with me, but in that moment I felt that it would quite literally be worth its weight. 

Each year, I go on a summer camping trip into Algonquin Park with approximately ten teenagers. Because I am technically the leader, I feel morally conflicted when, upon hearing a bear, a part of me secretly hopes that someone else will wake-up and scare the bear away before I am required to step into my leadership role and take care of the problem myself.

Splash Wars

In spite of the terrifying encounters I have had with some of the overly inquisitive inhabitants of the park, there are few things I enjoy more than being out in the middle of the woods. The beauty each day holds frequently makes up for the nights I often spend fearing for my life. And, if I am at all honest, I will admit that there is something about having an excuse not to shower for a week that privately thrills me.

Kraft Dinner

Kraft dinner is a staple in many households. For some, nothing is better than this box full of macaroni and powder that vaguely resembles cheese. 

What few people know is that Kraft Dinner first debuted in 1937. Sam Kraft introduced the product during WWII, a tumultuous time when many foods were rationed, dairy and meat in particular. In 1975, the product was revamped when Kraft launched a new shape of noodle, the spiral. In 1988, a wheel-shaped noodle was unveiled to meet the public’s insatiable demand for noodle variety. The 90s brought with them many innovations for Kraft Dinner: noodles shaped like popular children’s characters and variations of the traditional “cheese sauce,” such as Cheesy Alfredo, Deluxe Four Cheese, Light Deluxe and Premium White.

After delving into the plethora of Kraft Dinner facts available on the World Wide Web, I learned that Canadians are the world’s largest consumer of Kraft Dinner per capita. Having eaten some Kraft Dinner myself this very day, I cannot say that I am surprised by this fact.

I blame the Barenaked Ladies.

Boy Bands

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There is no denying it: they just don’t make boy bands the way they used to. It breaks my heart to say it, but the boy band is simply a dying art. And, with Lou Pearlman in jail for money laundering, fraud and making false statements, it seems the boy band is not likely to make a comeback any time soon.

But what about the Joni [plural of Jonas]? I hear you ask. The Joni do not count as a boy band for several reasons. Firstly, they are brothers, and everyone knows that boy bands are manufactured. Secondly, I am confident that they shape their eyebrows. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with males paying attention to their physical appearance; I am just saying that there is a fine line between necessary grooming and being mistaken for that keyboard-playing girl from Hanson.

But I digress.

Boy bands will always occupy a special place in my heart. In fact, I still have a Donnie Whalberg doll back from my New Kids on the Block hysteria in the early 90s. Unfortunately, somewhere along his travels, Donnie Whalberg seems to have lost his pants. Now he hauntingly stares at me from the top shelf of my bookcase, sporting nothing but a black wifebeater, built-in undergarments and a rat tail.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it is better that boy bands are a thing of the past.

*Please note that I do realize the “keyboard-playing girl from Hanson” is actually a dude.


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