A book that changed my life

This was another challenge set by WordPress.
I’m not the biggest reader in the world, but I do love to read. I read slowly and I soak in every word put in front of me. I absorb it. I feel it. I imagine every moment in my head. The books that I have read in my life so far – most have left a lasting impression on me. Books like A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, The Color of Water by James McBride, both of Khaled Hosseini’s novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones is also a haunter that stays with me.
I have a special place for a certain book however. And that is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I read that book when I was 13 years old as part of a curriculum reading assignment. And it spoke to me. The characters fascinated me. And the conflict of the book made me sad, and also spoke to me of a reality that I didn’t know existed at the time. The book evokes so many emotions in me that even to this day when I see the cover of To Kill A Mockingbird, I still smile to myself and think about the melancholy and woe that the book tells. If that wasn’t amazing enough, the movie version equals the book for me as well.
As a child (and even as a man today), I am always searching for that father figure I never had as a child. Always seeking him out in movies and books. The epitome of that figure was Atticus Finch. He was smart, he was brave and strong – and he was a single father who loved his children. I wanted him to be my father. I loved reading about him and how he was a man of his word, and virtuous. He exemplified all of the characteristics of what a father should be – and as a 13 year old reading this book it meant everything. I had never read (or seen for that matter) such a character before. And I think that’s what makes To Kill A Mockingbird continue to be so special for me.
Read it if you haven’t!

Why I now love Elmo

I’d like to think of myself as a Muppet connaisseur of sorts. Ever since I was a kid, I have adored Jim Henson and his creations. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, the Muppet movies, Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies even!

I have always been more a fan of the vintage Muppets – I will take Grover, Rowlf, Kermit, Dr. Teeth, Big Bird, Snuffy, Ernie and Bert any day of the week.  Those characters are so embedded into my childhood that my loyalty is unwavering.

However, there has always been one Muppet circa 1996 that had always instigated a rage in me unparalleled.


Everything about him – his look, his vocabulary, the hysteria of people who loved him – ANNOYED me.  When my nephew was born, the onslaught of Tickle Me, Elmo merchandise started.  I watched my then 2 year old nephew become enamored with this Muppet, this spawn of Satan. I just didn’t get the appeal.

And here I am now, with a daughter who is loving Sesame Street.  I find myself watching these new Sesame Street DVDs with her and enjoying them just as emphatically.  And what do I find myself feeling?  Love for Elmo.

Yes, that’s right.  I love Elmo.

When I told my sister this (my nephew is now 17 years old), it was as though I had become some sort of traitor.  Her shock and dismay towards me was quite ridiculous.

The only way that I can describe my hypocritical turnaround – watching my daughter completely fall in love with him.  Through her eyes, I see that there isn’t any cynicism, nothing behind it – just love.  And it made me realize that perhaps I need to see Elmo in the same way.  And I have.  I find myself enjoying watching his skits now.

At the Sundance Film Festival this year, a new documentary around Kevin Clash (the voice behind Elmo) premiered to rave reviews from critics and audiences.  Being Elmo I think will be a great one to watch, and the clips that I’ve seen of the film look really heart-tugging and pleasant.

So I am a convert – go figure.

Describe the town that you grew up in….

This was the blog topic challenge sent to me today. I thought it would an interesting written exercise to describe my hometown.
I grew up in a small suburb of Montreal called Greenfield Park. It is exactly what a suburb is supposed to be – clean, quiet, lots of houses, malls here and there, friendly people.
When I was a kid, Greenfield Park was my entire world. There didn’t seem to be anything beyond there. It had all of life’s needs.
The town is divided (a verbal divide, I might add) into two parts – OLD Greenfield Park (where the first homes were built, the churches were there, grocery stores, schools) and NEW Greenfield Park (newer houses, newer parks etc.) I lived in the NEW section.
Greenfield Park was my home for 28 years. I went to school there, went to church there, hung out with friends, shopped, walked its streets, drove its streets once I got my license, rode my bike up and down its crescents and bike paths. I played there, I had parties there, I wrote and even acted (at times) there. It was only around when I turned 18 or so that I began to venture from its parameters and started to spend more time in downtown Montreal where there was culture, noise, freedoms and lots of great food.
When I left Greenfield Park, I was ready to leave. It was time to leave. Its smallness was suffocating me, its predictability was stifling my every move. I guess that’s a syndrome that comes with suburbia at times for people.  So I left for the bright lights and big city that is Toronto. And now being married and with a daughter, I find that I am coming full circle in that I am seeking that small town/community based life for the three of us –  ourselves residing in an Ontario town with the same kind of Greenfield Park view.

We visit Greenfield Park pretty frequently to see my family – and I have to say that I really took for granted the simple way of life that  exists there.  This existence, I suppose, is in any small town.  Every time I go back, I remember the boy that I was and how the things that I thought were big issues were really just bumps that I needed to jump over.  I can’t get that life back, and I know that I don’t want to.  It’s taken me this long, but I will never forget that this is where I came from and I will always think of it fondly.

The Oscars- my take

Well, two days have passed since the Oscars. My excitement from having actually seen movies in contention this year was palpable up to the last minute before the telecast started. Then, the show happened, and it had its merits and its downfalls. Here’s my take:

  • James Franco and Anne Hathaway were HORRIBLE as hosts.  HORRIBLE.  You had one person who was clearly excited and genuinely thrilled to be there, and one person who basically called in the entire night and seemed like he wanted to be somewhere else, not to mention being completely unaware what was going on.  You can guess who was who.  As much as I love them as actors, they aren’t hosts. Bring back Hugh Jackman as host!
  • I would like Russell Brand and Helen Mirren to host next year’s Oscars.  Their banter (Vous etes un idiot, Russselllle!) was fantastic and amazing.
  • Melissa Leo using the F bomb was the best moment of the night.  Say what you want, that woman is the real deal and she was genuinely moved and excited to have that moment.  And she is awesome in The FighterAnd she mentioned Kate Winslet. Her banter with Kirk Douglas was fantastic, and Mr. Douglas’s stalling before announcing the winner was priceless.
  • Christian Bale also deserved his win, as did Colin Firth and (sure why not!) Natalie Portman.  They were all the front runners from the beginning.
  • How excited would I have been if Annette Bening or Michelle Williams were the big surprise/upset.
  • Best short film winner Luke Matheny (God Of Love) made the second best speech of the night.  Heartfelt.
  • Saying Academy Award winner Trent Reznor makes me happy.
  • The wins for The King’s Speech were deserved and right.
  • I wish Christopher Nolan had been nominated for Best Director for Inception but I am thrilled that it had a bit of a sweep in the technical categories.  Deservedly.

There you have it – another year passed.  I’ll be back as always next year to watch.