Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Firsts

I find it hard to believe The Dark Knight came out nine years ago. I remember sitting in the audience thinking it was one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen.

Why so serious?
Why so serious?

I also find it difficult to comprehend how much time has passed since Titanic came out. Has it really been nineteen years? Incredible.

My wife tells me we’ve been married for over twenty years. Well, she doesn’t need to tell me, I already know. Yet, when I think about it, it doesn’t seem as if time has passed at all.

Where have I been since I first heard Katy Perry‘s massive pop album Teenage Dream hit the charts? That was five years ago.

Then there is the time Friends went off the air. That happened twelve years ago.

Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond

And let’s not forget about Everybody Loves Raymond. I remember lying on my couch eleven years ago watching the final episode.

Is this how I mark time, by the passing of entertainment units? It seems like it.

Although, I beg to differ. I remember the first time I told my wife I loved her. The next thing she did was hop on a train back to Nova Scotia. Was it something I said?

How can I forget the time when my first child came into the world? We were in tears. Nope, I wasn’t watching a TV show at the time, and I don’t remember a swelling soundtrack playing in the background.

My first car was a Honda Accord. The memory of that day, when I went into the bank to ask for a loan, is still in my head. The interest on the loan was eleven percent. I thought the bank at the time had given me a great deal.

The first time I landed my dream job was such a pleasure that my family and I went out celebrating. It was also the first time I could afford to pay for everyone’s meal.

I can’t forget the first guitar my dad had bought me when I was a teenager. It was an imitation Gibson Les Paul. I played that thing so much that I had worn the frets to a state of non-existence.

Whenever I think of summer, I think of the first time I had gone in the deep end on my own. It was also the first time when I had almost drowned. After that incident, I learned how to swim, and have never forgotten.

I read somewhere that a person’s greatest fear is speaking in front of an audience. My first experience addressing a large crowd was when I was fifteen years old in high school, running for Ninth Grade class president. I stood on stage behind a podium, pointed a finger at the entire student body, which was close to five hundred kids, and said, “I want you to want me.” The entire assembly erupted in laughter. That phrase was from a song made popular at the time by Cheap Trick. It was also the first time I had felt absolute embarrassment.

But you know what? I won that election. One of my teachers later said to me, aside from having moxie, that if I could get up there and make a fool of myself like that, I certainly belonged in politics.

I guess when it comes to memories my entire life is not a set of vignettes centered around entertainment, even if I sometimes think it to be that way. No, I enjoy reminiscing with family about our firsts, our seconds and thirds, what we’ve learned, and if we had the opportunity, what would we do over.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t change a thing of my past. If I did, then I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

Do you remember any of your firsts? What do you like about those memories?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

All Things Celtic

I’m a big fan of Celtic music. When the film Titanic came out in 1997, I was in my element. My wife’s background is Nova Scotian. So imagine if you will what it must have been like for me when the Irish influence hit North America back in the mid to late 90’s. I realized I couldn’t turn a channel without a Celtic-themed program playing on one station or another. The media knew how to take a good thing and make it better.

Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings

Today, I’d like to dedicate my Freedom Friday post to all that is Celtic.

As I was saying, since my wife is from Nova Scotia, whenever we visit there, we’d always have an invitation extended to us to attend a cèilidh–a social gathering featuring song and dance. Sometimes we’d host it as well. Our typical cèilidh consists of lots of snacks and music performed by family members. Back in the day, my wife’s parents were a famous singing duo, touring and appearing on the CBC. They eventually ended up inducted into Nova Scotia’s Country Music Hall of Fame. That would account for the musical talent running through her side of the family. From my side, I had a relative in South America who was a classical conductor and maestro. And I studied baroque composition for a while at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

Music runs through our blood.

There was a time my wife and I were also performing for the crowds. I played the guitar and my wife sang. We’d perform such tunes as Song for the Mira and other Celtic favorites. Members of the audience who knew my in-laws would come up to us after the show and tell us how we reminded them of the Hall of Famers. I took it as one of the biggest compliments anyone could have received.

Anyway, how did we get on to that? Right, I was talking about our family cèilidh. Yes, we still have them whenever we visit Nova Scotia.

Riverdance
Riverdance

Going back to the mid to late 90’s, that era was a highpoint for all that was Celtic. Riverdance was one of our favorite shows to go see. Although we didn’t get the opportunity to watch Jean Butler or Michael Flatley perform, their understudies’ interpretation was more than what we had hoped for in a show. I’m a wild fanatic of the spectacle, having purchased all the soundtracks and videos. It really was the thing to watch live in those days.

Then there was Titanic. Gosh, when that hit the screen, no one could get enough of the film. It was the first movie I can classify as an event. It came out December 19, 1997, and except for a few of my friends, everyone had gone to see it. We talked about Jack and Rose as if the characters were part of the family. At one point, I knew everything there was to know about the making of the film. I had become obsessed with the era, and I wanted to understand how such a tragedy could have happened to the unsinkable ship.

Finally, no talk about all things Celtic would be complete without a special mention regarding The Lord of the Rings.

I’ll have to admit this—when the trilogy came out, I wasn’t a fan. I thought the films were overly long, drawn-out vehicles for stoking the egos of the filmmakers.

I was terribly wrong.

It wasn’t until years later, when my kids got into the series, that I’d become fascinated with the features. I recognized how incredibly detailed the filming process must have been for director Peter Jackson. Not only that, but more importantly, the emotion behind the performances of Elijah Wood as Frodo and Sean Astin as Sam rattles me to this day. The films also represent a brilliant setting for life in simpler times.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could live in a time when we didn’t have to check our phones every two minutes to see who liked or commented on our content?

To me, The Lord or the Rings world, with all its Celtic flavor, is that time.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

What do you think of Celtic music? Have you seen Riverdance? What do you like about The Lord of the Rings trilogy?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

The Craft: Sarah

Hard to believe it’s been seventeen years since the movie The Craft came out. For all my young readers who may have missed watching this spectacle, it presents another view of what a witches’ coven really is. I’m dedicating this Women Who Wow Wednesday to Sarah Bailey, the natural witch from the film.

Robin Tunney as Sarah Bailey (Photo Credit: movpins.com)
Robin Tunney as Sarah Bailey (Photo Credit: movpins.com)

A couple of years after the release of The Craft, City, Toronto’s premier local movie station at the time, broadcasted this film almost every month for a couple of years. It was something to behold considering there were a lot more entertaining movies to watch such as Armageddon and Bad Boys. Yet, I’m theorizing because a large contingent of teenage girls had the unquenchable desire to meet Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic, they’d do anything to get close to the star, including casting spells.

I have to admit though, I became hooked with the movie pretty early on before it became a success on City.

Let’s get to the goods, shall we?

Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) moves into a new city and joins a witches’ coven. Sound familiar? Well, we’ll leave the Twilight references out of this post for now. Let’s backtrack. Sarah’s new school features a diverse clique of girls. The popular girls take one look at Sarah and label her an introvert. On more than one occasion, they make her the butt of all of their jokes. A boy, who she thought had a thing for her, spread the rumor she was easy after a night of abstinence with the lad.

That’s when Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Rachel True) enter the picture. They’re dressed in black, have all sorts of weird stuff going on with them and, oh, yes, they’re witches. They want Sarah. Bonnie noticed her balancing a pencil on its tip in French class–without hands. Naturally, they’re not going to let this opportunity pass. Besides, they need a fourth witch to complete the circle and call the corners. You know, north, south, east, west? The corners. Of course let’s not forget the elements, too. Earth, wind, fire, water. They can’t call the corners without a fourth member in their coven.

Sarah Bailey
Sarah Bailey

Sarah accepts. But little does she know what she’s getting herself into. The magical incantations they perform in the beginning are nothing short of sideshow magic tricks. Silly things like levitation, changing the color of one’s hair, etc. Small stuff, really. It’s only after they summon the corners that things turn creepy.

I don’t want to spoil it, I’m only going to say the lesson in the movie is to be careful what you ask for, it always comes back to you three times over. What goes out comes back to you in threefold. That’s a massive lesson to grasp there for those ever wanting to curse anyone in life. In the movie, Karma is deadly.

Back to Sarah. From a shy, insecure teenager, Sarah becomes a force of reckoning. Not only does she prove herself vulnerable and weak during the tough times, she’s a girl who has that underlying strength to conquer all during the worst of times.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen The Craft? What did you think of Sarah Bailey? If you ever wanted one power in your life, what would it be?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Nostalgia

It’s raining here. I’m not sure what the weather will be like in a few weeks, but it’s been raining quite often this summer. I’m almost certain it’ll probably rain again when this publishes for my Freedom Friday post.

Storm clouds over our home (June 14, 2005)
Storm clouds over our home (June 14, 2005)

Rain makes me nostalgic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think about the bad stuff that’s happened in the past. I think about how things used to be, what my life was like at particular points in time. I think everyone goes through these self-reflective moods where we ponder on the wins and losses, the births and deaths, the joy and pain. In some respect, there’s that temptation to want to go back to those times to do things over in an effort to fix that of which we made a mess.

I understand that. I do. I think it’s a natural process in our makeup as humans that as we age, the inevitable reality reveals itself that we’re only on this earth for a certain time and we should make the most of what we’re given.

Maybe that last part didn’t make much sense. I don’t know. Maybe I’m talking gibberish again.

When I look back, I measure my life’s journey by the movies I’ve watched, the music I’ve listened to, and the people I’ve met. Whenever I think of having watched Titanic in the theater in 1998, I remember how I had long hair, a bit of an attitude, and I wasn’t about to let anyone tell me what I will do, should do, or have to do. At the same time, I remember this magical time when a spotlight shined on Celtic music. Since my wife is from Nova Scotia, I felt rather proud too that it was Ireland’s time.

Storm brewing over our neighborhood (June 14, 2005)
Storm brewing over our neighborhood (June 14, 2005)

The little things also are what get me. I’ll be standing in line at the grocery store and an Eighties song would play in the background shooting me back to my teens when I had my whole life ahead of me with no cares in the world except maybe not having a date for Friday night and the homework assignment due on Monday.

What else was there? I’m certain it was not that acne blowout three minutes before going on stage for my student council acceptance speech.

During these summer months, I have a very strange ritual. It’s a strange ritual because I don’t think anyone else does this. Maybe they do, but I haven’t found anyone who does. If you’re one of those people, let me know. We can be strange together. When it rains, I walk outside in my bare feet and shorts, sit under the front canopy to my house and stretch my legs. I allow the water to pour on my feet. The more powerful the storm, the happier I get. And if lightening should crack in the sky, I’m in my element, grinning from ear to ear.

Didn’t I say it was a strange ritual? I’m not sure why something like a storm would bring such happiness. Maybe it goes with the nostalgia I feel in the rain.

Or maybe, I’m strange. Either way, I’m learning something new every day.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you ever get nostalgic? What is it that you think about?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Rose

Velvet crimson hair. A delicate smile. A dreamer. Rose DeWitt Bukater, Women Who Wow Wednesday’s paradigm of perseverance. The actress. The horseback rider. The spitter.

Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater
Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater

When Rose walks aboard the Titanic, who many call The Ship of Dreams, for her it is anything but. She likens it to a prison where her soul cries out for freedom and there is no escape. Her fiancée, Caledon Hockley, a man of wealth and viable means, promises her the world if she wouldn’t deny him. His wish? Open your heart to me, Rose. The price sounds too costly.

Enter Jack Dawson, the free-spirited young man who would change Rose’s life forever. He travels from place to place on tramp steamers and such. He won his ticket on the Titanic in a lucky hand of poker. A very lucky hand. They meet in the moonlight, she, wanting to take her life, he, wanting to save it. Give me your hand. You don’t want to do this, he says. Come on. One more step and she would’ve found herself floating in the middle of the Atlantic with the water so cold it would’ve hit her like a thousand knives. You saved me, Jack, in every way a person can be saved.

Rose meets Jack in First Class, among the most important on the ship. His art captivates her. Her cheeks grow hot at his drawings of the women. Did you like this woman? I think you must have had a love affair with her. Not at all, he says, just with her hands. She was a one-legged prostitute. Rose melts knowing she promised her heart to Caledon. All the wedding invitations have gone out, there’s no escape of the inevitable. She has to marry him.

Rose
Rose

Do you love him? Oh, Jack, what a silly question to ask. It’s simple, do you love him or not? Rose props her head high, and declares her departure. Wait a minute, it’s First Class, he has to leave! Not before he teaches her how to spit. Strange kids. On the First Class deck, he aims for the sunset bathed ocean. It went far. They’re one. No denying they belong together.

But then there’s Cal. Caledon. What to do? Rose’s heart tears from knowing if she gives him up, she’d be giving up her security. He’s been good to her. If you don’t break free, Jack says, your heart will die. Maybe not right away but the fire will eventually go out. Rose makes her decision. It’s not up to you to save me, Jack. For both our sakes, leave me alone. As strong as she tries, she can’t muster the courage to ignore Jack. Nothing can quench the fire within her not to be with her secret lover.

Jack and Rose
Jack and Rose

When the iceberg finally hits, they can smell the ice. But Rose had decided. When the ship lands, she will disappear with Jack. Before that happens, he will have to free himself. Cal frames him with stealing The Heart of the Ocean diamond. Into the belly of the ship Jack goes, handcuffs and all.

As the ship sinks, Rose’s desperate search for Jack leads to a water-filled grave. Where, oh, where has my Jack gone? In the bowels of the beast, her back against the wall, the vessel groans. She will find him. She will rescue him just as he had done for her. Except this time, she will never doubt him again. Ever.

Rose eventually finds Jack, rescues him from his watery prison, and he leads her to the top of the ship where they consummate a promise of life. Whatever you do, Rose, don’t let go of my hand. We’re gonna make it. Trust me.

I trust you.

The ship bobs for a bit. Stays still. Then flounders. In a rush, waves swallow the couple whole. A few minutes later, the ocean regrets taking the lovers and releases them to the surface.

On a scrap of debris, Jack asks Rose one thing of her. With every last trembling breath he can collect, promise me you will survive. That you will never give up. No matter what happens. No matter how hopeless. Promise me now, and never let go of that promise.

I promise.

Never let go.

I promise. I will never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.