The Kick – Part 2

With no time left on the clock, Montreal trails by 2 points.  Their place kicker, Damon Duval, lines up to kick a 43 yard field goal to win the game.  He broke the CFL record for points scored this year.  The prospects of him missing are remote.

The ball is snapped, pinned, kicked… and it’s wide!  IT’S WIDE!!!  The Saskatchewan Roughriders are the 2009 Grey Cup Champions!  Two Grey Cup victories in three years!  We are a dynasty!  Players are jumping up and down, bedlam ensues, WE ARE THE CHAMPS!!!!  WE ARE THE CHAMPS!!!   WE ARE THE 2009 GREY CUP CHAMPS!!!!

Then we see the flag on the field.  Everyone stops, holds their breath.  The officials convene.  What are they saying?  Then the head referee steps forward, switches on his mic.

“Too many men.  Saskatchewan.  10 yard penalty.”

The ball is moved forward 10 yards.  Duval puts it through the uprights and Montreal wins the Cup.  It was like an atomic bomb exploded inside the heart of the Rider Nation.  Montreal 28 – Saskatchewan 27.

I feel very, very numb this morning.  The only thought going through my mind is… ‘next year’.  We need to get back there next year and atone for this heart break.  It’s the only thing that will numb the pain.

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Grey Cup Sunday

The only other day more Canadian than Grey Cup Sunday is possibly Canada day, though I doubt Canada Day elicits as much passion.  On this day, the country comes together in living rooms, drinking establishments and one stadium in particular.  Before the day is done, perfect strangers will be embracing each other as if they were long time friends.  Children will be conceived.  Drunkards will take over the streets, high-fiving cops and partying with politicians whilst blocking major intersections.

As if that wasn’t enough, ‘Canada’s Team’, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be playing in the game!  Even The Globe and Mail, the Toronto based ‘National Newspaper of Canada’ declared the Riders to be Canada’s Team in big bold letters on the front page.  Everyone cheers for the Roughriders when their own team isn’t playing.  We play the game with passion, in a workman like fashion, and we do it with Canadians playing in roles normally occupied by American players.  The Rider offense has been nicknamed ‘The Canadian Air Force’ because 3 of our 4 starting receivers were born in Canada.  One is a native of Regina!

The Riders are in tough against a formidable Montreal Allouettes team that lost only 3 games this season and are 9½ point favourites coming in to the game.  Montreal has been to the Grey Cup 7 times in the last 9 years.  Their starting quarterback, 37 year old Anthony Calvillo is headed for the Canadian Football Hall of Fame upon his retirement.  He was voted the league’s most outstanding player the last two years in a row.  This game could be the last of his career.  By contrast, our quarterback, Darian Durant is starting only the 22nd game of his career.  This game could be the passing of the torch, from one generation of quarterbacks, to the next.

Each team mirror’s its quarterback.  Like Calvillo, Montreal is stocked with grizzled veteran players.  They are a virtual all-star team who took three of five Most Outstanding Player Awards this year.  This formidable team also has a chip on its shoulder.  They have unfinished business, losing 6 of the 7 Grey Cups they played in this decade.  This game could be their last chance to redeem themselves before a big chunk of those veteran players are lost to retirement (likely this offseason).  Saskatchewan is a young team, with only a handful of veterans.  This team has a bright future and we could be in the midst of a dynasty, having won the Cup in 2007.

Despite the long odds, Saskatchewan has three intangibles going for it.  The first is magic.  The Riders have something special that no one can describe with mere words.  Many of the team’s wins have come in the final minutes of their games, against long odds, in dramatic fashion.  Montreal doesn’t have any experience coming back in the fourth quarter because they’re usually well ahead at that point in the game.  The second intangible is ‘The 13th Man.’  Calgary has more former Saskatchewan residents than Regina has citizens.  Despite being on the road in a ‘neutral’ city, this game will feel like a home game.  The stands are going to be a sea of green.  Montreal won’t be able to hear themselves think.  If they couldn’t win the Cup in front of a home crowd in Montreal last year, how well will they do in front of a rabid, hostile crowd in Calgary?  A final intangible is Grey Cup winning experience.  Twenty-six Roughrider players on this year’s roster were on the team two year’s ago when we won the Cup.  That’s more Grey Cup winning experience than Montreal has on its roster.  If this game is close in the forth quarter, and the magic starts working, the fans start screaming, and our players dig even deeper, Montreal’s veterans may start thinking about all those Grey Cup losses.

All we need at that point is for those veteran players to lose their concentration for a nano-second.  One play in the final minutes of the fourth quarter could represent the knife turning in the bellies of the 16 – 3 Montreal Allouettes.  It’s a tall order, but if any team can rise to the challenge, it’s the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The game starts in three hours.  Wish us all luck!

Alpha Male Status

Yesterday started off with a 10am meeting at my office about the Mother’s Day Game.  PJ, Ken and I all feel a ton of positive momentum with this project and we are excited for our pitch at Multiplatforum next week.  I have to get started on a production budget, as well as come up with a list of potential organizations we can approach to help us bring the project to life.  I intent to spend some time today working on my pitch.

After the meeting I left to teach my class at O’Neill.  It began with a bit of a stand-off to establish Alpha Male status and ended with myself, Dean (their regular teacher), and some of the students showing our photographs from the photography assignment.  It is clear to me that some of these kids have great potential.  I was genuinely impressed and pleased with their work.

Teaching that class takes a lot of energy out of me.  I’m constantly switched on, looking for different ways to share insights and connect with the students in meaningful ways.  Some of the kids are really into it and their enthusiasm fuels me.  I’m going to invite one of them to work along side the rest of the Dacian team once we start work on the Art Crimes teaser in February.  There’s at least two or three students in that class who would be an asset to any creative team… and the best part is they come cheap!  The budget doth like them.

The work day ended with yet another meeting, this time at Atlantis to discuss the Moccasin Enterprises series with Lioz and Rachel.  I think our collective IQs jump a few points whenever we get together.  Research on the series isn’t moving as fast as I’d like, but I’m hopeful something will happen next week to break the log jam.  I’m playing phone tag with a CEO and my instincts tell me to be patient with this guy because what he has to say, will significantly impact the direction of the series.

Afterwards I walked to Shoppers, picked up a frozen pizza and headed home.  I spent the rest of the night on the couch, happy to be left alone, with no other human beings to talk to.  It was a pretty good day.

The Psychology of 1-Ply Toilet Paper

Somebody really ought to do a study on the merits of 1-ply toilet paper.  This completely flawed substance is a staple in every bathroom of most public institutions (such as the University of Regina).  I suspect these institutions believe they are saving money by buying this stuff, but is that really the case?

1-ply toilet paper requires the user to unravel arm-lengths of the stuff just so he or she won’t wind up with a mess on his or her hands.  I hypothesize that as a result, each roll is used up more quickly than what would be the case with its 2-ply sibling.

Economics aside, there is a case to be made for the whole psychology of using 1-ply toilet paper.  I know women who actually carry their own personal toilet paper around with them, because the trauma associated with 1-ply is just too much to take.  As ‘Vince’, the TV salesmen guy says in one of his commercials, “Life is short, you don’t want to cry.”  He was talking about chopping onions, but its the same thing with toilet paper.

I have 3-ply toilet paper at home.  Perhaps it’s my imagination, but I actually hear angel song every time I wipe my ass.  I have images of those dancing pillows you see on TV running through my mind.  I actually look forward to the experience.

Public institutions really ought to rethink the whole 1-ply toilet paper thing.  Since taking a dump is not an option, we should… no, MUST be doing everything we can to make the most of the experience.  Think about it, maybe there’d be less violent crime if people just had a better experience taking a dump… a purge… not just of their own human waste, but also in taking a quiet moment to shed their baggage whilst dumping.  The quiet solitude a of public bathroom stall could be a kind of therapy, a retreat from a busy day, a time to meditate rather than an inconvenient and thoroughly unpleasant obligation.

Purging is good for the soul.

Distraction

The placement of mirrors near the elevators of all hotels is intentional.  People don’t notice the wait as much when they can look at themselves in the mirror.  It makes for a more pleasant ‘waiting for the elevator’ experience.  In casinos you’d be hard pressed to find a clock on the wall, or a window to the outside.  They also don’t want you to become aware of the passage of time.

At controlled intersections throughout the city, you’ll find buttons on traffic lights that pedestrians may press, presumably to let the traffic light know that it should change so pedestrians may proceed safely across the street.

Some buttons are fancier than others… they make a sound when you touch them.  It makes you feel like a change in the light is imminent.  Perhaps even more imminentier.  You stand there and you feel powerful.  With one touch of your finger, you stop traffic.  Machines bend to your will, and a clear path is made for you.  They all stop for you… big semi trucks, buses, beaters, luxury cars… all of them.  They stop for you – a mere pedestrian.

So you’re standing at the intersection feeling all powerful and smug, waiting for your light to change.  Then along come some schmoe who walks up to your traffic light, the one you’re standing beside, and presses a different button, the one that points in the opposite direction.  He wants the traffic light to bend to his will, and not yours.  He’s fucking with your traffic light!

But you say nothing.  You stand there and you wait for your light to change.  You pressed the button first, and you’re going to cross first… and indeed, your light does change first.  You proceed to cross and you try to forget about the schmoe who dared infringe on your day.  You look over your shoulder as you cross safely in front of all that traffic, and you see him standing there, waiting for his light to change.  Sucker!

Then a thought crosses your mind.  It’s a disturbing thought.  What if these buttons didn’t do shit, and they were simply the traffic light’s way of keeping you content.  Keeping you captive, like some voluntary captive just waiting… waiting… waiting for the light to take its sweet time to change.  And you don’t notice because you pushed the button.  You’re standing there feeling all powerful and smug and the traffic light just stands there, laughing at you.

You stop in the middle of traffic.  The light starts blinking and you turn around and stare at it.  It blinks.  It threatens you with another imminent change.   And with everyone staring at you, sitting in their cars, trucks, buses, or watching from street corners next to their own traffic lights, you hold your ground.  You’re not going to let that light run your life.

Canada is a democracy, and you have free will.  You are not going to let some stupid traffic light control your life.  It blinks faster now… more threatening.  And you think about hotel elevators, and casinos, and perfectly centred progress bars on computer screens, and raising your hand before you speak… and then the honking starts.

You’re standing amongst a sea of cars and they all want the piece of real estate that you currently occupy.  You see ‘em lining up, waiting… waiting… waiting… and now you’re in control.  But it’s an uncomfortable control.  People are yelling at you now, and cars are swirling around you.  There’s nowhere to go.  It’s chaos.  And you look over and you see the traffic light, patronizing you.  One blink and it can fix your predicament.

You can chart your own path, oblivious to all the stuff going on around you, or you can work within the system.  What’s it gonna be?

Tabula Rasa

Epistemology is the study of human knowledge – what is it?  How do we know we have it?  How do we obtain it?  I have committed to writing an essay in my philosophy class about feminist epistemology.  I have to admit, I don’t know much about feminine knowing.  I’m starting with a clean slate, a ‘tabula rasa’.

I like the phrase tabula rasa because a ‘clean tablet’ is a great place to start when we undertake any journey into knowledge.  I think our preconceived notions of what we think we already know, will only fuck up the free flow of information and ideas into our minds.

Tabula rasa is also the best way to approach any subject honestly.  When we come with our biases, we tend to bend the information we acquire towards our point of view.  This can be fun, but it can also be a problem.  Having said that, it seems to me that at some point we NEED to form an opinion about the knowledge we acquire.

How do we know the difference between being duped, being ignorant, and being informed?  How do we know when enough information is enough information?

This essay on feminist epistemology needs to be six double spaced pages.  Clearly there’s not going to be enough space to write comprehensively on the subject.  I’m going to need to find a single crumb and make a meal out of it.

The problem is, there’s a whole shitload of crumbs out there.  Several shitloads in fact.  You can climb on top the pile and see for miles.  And probably, especially on the topic of feminist epistemology, you could tunnel into it and find even more interesting tidbits.  You could dig all the way down to Plato’s cave… and there you’d find me… all fucked up, rocking back and forth, coming to terms with the fact that feminine knowledge is the reality I must contend with, if I am ever to free myself of this essay.

Nobody Fucks with the Rider Nation!!!

There were two plastic fuck dolls at the Rider game last night.  One was dressed in green, and was riding another one, dressed in red.  I have never been to a game with more palpable energy flowing freely through 30,000 fans.  My ass didn’t touch the seat the whole game.  There were waves of sonic fury every time Calgary touched the ball.  People were dressed like green freaks of nature, singing, booing, chanting, yelling and dancing.  Nobody fucks with the Rider Nation!

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are going to the Grey Cup for the second time in three years.  It was 43 years ago today that the team captured its first Grey Cup and it was 20 years ago today that they raised it above their heads for the second time.  Something magical is happening this season.  We’re going to the Cup again, and we’re doing it in a workmanlike fashion.  We’re doing it with an elite group of Canadian receivers, and we’re doing it despite being picked to finish last in the Western Division by many so called ‘experts’ in the media.  We’re doing it upon the shoulders of a Rider Nation so dedicated, that it truly does affect play on the field.  Opposing teams can’t hear themselves think when they have the ball, and yet when the Riders take over, fans quiet right down.

Honestly, the best part of being a fan this season, has been being a fan in the stands this season.  I watched six home games, and I even caught one away game from Bucharest.  It’s going to be a great match-up this weekend.  When our team takes the field against the Montreal Allouettes in Calgary, it’s going to feel like another home game.  Once again, the Rider Nation will carry the day!

Western Finals and Eastern Premieres

In just over 3 hours, the Roughriders will be hosting the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Final.  One more win and we’re in the Grey Cup!

You can feel the energy in the city tepidly building upwards.  I’m nervous about trying to beat the same team four times in one season, but on the other hand, this game is a playoff game.  Win and you’re in the Championship game, lose and you go home.  It’s no longer about beating the same team four times… it’s about beating your opponent on this one particular day.  Go Riders!!!

I also spoke to Laura this morning on SKYPE.  She promised to wear one of her Rider shirts this evening while the team plays (it’s 7:30pm in Bucharest right now).  I’ve been mailing her little care packages.  In the two I sent her, I’ve included University of Regina newspapers and in the latest one, my play.

She’s really excited about the play and she wants to translate it into Romanian so it can be performed this year in Bucharest.  She really believes it will be successful.  We made plans to organize a reading circle with some of her classmates when I’m there in January.  It’s possible that my play could have its world premiere in a foreign country, in a language I don’t understand (yet).

I guess watching something I’ve written in English, but performed in Romanian, would be a pretty interesting way to learn the language.

Evil

Court and I attended a lecture last night by Dr. Philip Zimbardo.  He is known throughout the world for his many accomplishments in the world of psychology.  One of his most famous experiments include ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’.

In 1971 Dr. Zimbardo assembled a group of ‘normal’, average, everyday, well adjusted college students and divided them randomly into two groups.  One group were designated ‘prisoners’ and the other, ‘guards’.  The two groups were to co-exist in a prison setting for two weeks.  The experiment had to be stopped after six days because the ‘guards’ began to perpetrate unimaginable cruelty upon the ‘prisoners’.  The lessons of that experiment continue to reverberate in our world today.

In 2004 photographs from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq began to circulate.  These photographs depicted images of unimaginable cruelty by US military guards upon the Iraqi prison population.  In the ensuing scandal, the Bush administration blamed the mess on ‘a few bad apples.’

Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Hitler are credited with killing a combined 51 million people.  It’s easy to see these men as ‘Evil’.  They gave the orders… but who executed them?  Over zealous ‘believers’ in the cause, or common, ordinary, everyday soldiers?

The cruelty perpetrated at Abu Ghraib over three months was limited to a single night shift of 11 individuals, in a single section of the prison.  What made this shift so uniquely inhumane?

Before the Iraq war, these eleven individuals were common, average, everyday American citizens who worked as truck drivers, retail clerks, and laborers.  They were reservists who answered the call to arms, and they were shipped to Iraq to guard Iraqi prisoners.

The lessons learned from the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) of 1971 were very much in play at Abu Ghraib, but shockingly, those lessons were turned upside down.  Instead of looking at SPE as a long list of what NOT to do, the Bush Administration used it as a mechanism to create an environment where specific conditions would facilitate a desired outcome.

The 11 reservists who guarded the prisoners on the night shift had no training for this task and they were left unsupervised.  They were told to treat the prisoners like dogs, to humiliate them because this strategy of dehumanizing them would make the prisoners more inclined to ‘talk’ during interrogations by the CIA, Military Intelligence, and one other private intelligence gathering firm.  Those reservists committed grave inhumanities towards other human beings.  They deserve the punishment they received.  But what does that say about the rest of us?

Could you execute a person because you were given an order?  Could you humiliate someone because it was your job?  Could you fire a gun upon defenseless women and children in a village because everyone around you was doing the same thing?

The answer is yes.  That capability is in all of us.

The line between good and evil, between moral and immoral, between right and wrong, is almost invisible.  It begins with the slightest infringement upon it.  It begins with a thought, a slur, a sense of duty.  Each step beyond the line is a small one, a rationalized one.  We always see ourselves as doing the right thing.  We always see ourselves as working towards the greater good.  We lose ourselves in ‘the cause’ as our perspectives narrow and our actions swell.

When we give up our individuality to a cause, when we surrender our perspective to an ideology, when we rationalize our actions with a herd mentality, we surrender our humanity.  We begin the process of destroying ourselves.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Court From the Fort

One bottle of wine, a measure of love, an eye for detail, and several electric moments of inspiration, conjured one breathtaking evening for the ages.  Courtney came over to my apartment last night and with lights burning, camera churning, and minds turning, we captured several images of beautiful moments frozen in time.  We were both incredibly moved by how things turned out.

She never modeled before, and she was nervous, but as the hours passed, and the energy in the room electrified, we created something special that will never be forgotten.  She even sang for me as she picked at her guitar.

It was a magical happening, a transcendence of words.  We became something more than just our individual selves.  We became a communion of creativity, of intimacy, of vulnerability, and of mindful exploration.  For several hours, we became as one.