Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Year of Movies (From Beginning to End)

I used to be superstitious to a point. I used to think that the first movie I would watch in any given new year would be indicative of how the year was going to go. If it was good/noteworthy, it would be a good year; if it was terrible, well, not even a positive nod from the Farmer's Almanac could save that year. This would cause so much anxiety the year I watched City Slickers 2, and so much confusion the year I watched Aliens and Alien Resurrection back-to-back. I obviously don't still believe that this is true, but I do make a big deal out of what movie will be my first of any new year. It's been hit an miss the last couple of years, but some highlights have been The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and After the Wedding.

Speaking of movies, I felt a little disappointed with what the film world had to offer us this year. Last year was stacked with a bunch of strong movies, especially from this side of the world (surprising, I know). But this year has been a bit weaker. I'm struggling to think of who's going to get a best picture nod this year, whereas last year seemed to overflow with possibilities. That being said, I saw Slumdog Millionaire a couple of weeks ago, and I'm now rooting for it to do well in this upcoming awards season. I'll finish off the year watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and look forward to whatever the first film of next year will be.

My picks for films of the past that I enjoyed thoroughly this year is a list that could go on and on and on, but I'll narrow it down to three. The Seventh Seal stands out immediately. I have waited years and years to see it, and it did not disappoint. Then there's La Jetée. I saw it in my film class (it was the inspiration for 12 Monkeys) and was quite intriguing. Finally, even though I've seen it before, Gregory's Girl gets a nod from me. I just watched it a couple of days ago, and in all honesty I wrote this entire post just so I could put a picture of the poster up. It's a Scottish Wes Anderson-esque film made before Wes Anderson had even left junior high. I'm sorry you had to read all of this posting just so I could talk about this film - but seriously, it's awesome!

I'm really just killing time until the new year on here. I've got some big plans for what's going to show up here come January. I've been working on it for a while, and still am over the holidays. I hope that once it's revealed all will be well with your soul. Until then, let Christmas sooth thy soul.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Albums of 08 (Edited)

I listened to these albums more than others this past year* (Not all of them are from 2008).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Christmas! I'm Coming Home!

If you click here you'll be able to hear a Christmas song I recorded last weekend. It offers all the sentimental value that (1) out of tune instruments, (2) a cracking voice, (3) my first foray into piano playing, and (4) basement recordings offer. It's in line with all the other sappy seasonal songs that I've done in the past (but have yet to be released!). It's a time honoured traditions folks.

Then there's the song my brother and I recorded in 15 minutes for my nieces and nephew. It's... interesting to say the least.

It may have the same effect that Wayne's World had: It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, it'll make you hurl.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Curious Case of David Stone

I am reading "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" tonight. I am reading it not only because I am interested in seeing the movie when it comes out later on this month, but mainly because it is written by a good friend of mine: F. Scott Fitzgerald. By friend, I mean literary great whose work I have admired since my final year of high school. Though the style of this short story I am reading is a bit different from his usual form and style, it reminds me of why I have enjoyed Fitzgerald for years now. One of my biggest disappointments in university was that I didn't get the chance to read any Fitzgerald with my English courses.

I've always been intrigued by the story of Fitzgerald's life, and how it so closely spoke into the stories he wrote. His stories weren't biographies, but they shared his life story through different lenses to each reader who picked up his books. His stories resonated with me in an eerie way, because I found so much of his literature and actual life resonated with mine. I can't tell you how much the real life story of F. Scott and Zelda freaked me out because of its reoccurring nature in the present. However, while I am amazed at the way stories can resonate from Keats, to Fitzgerald, to now, I find solace in knowing that resonance does not mean all outcomes are determined. There are times when I wonder whether I squander the gifts and abilities I have as I'm caught up in the apathy of our age - just as F. Scott squandered his in the excess of his - but am calmed in knowing I can opt out of that trend. Though F. Scott bore the scars of love come undone, this does not mean that the same follows for me (thankfully). I am ever amazed at the way our lives are narratives that resonate beyond our births and deaths, but I am more thankful that this resonance is not a determined sentence, but more of a assurance that our highs and lows have occurred before. With this perspective I am able to appreciate my unique opportunity to experience hopes, and not be overwhelmed by the fears that have been common for the rest of my fleshed siblings in time.

Different look.

I'm in the process of changing a bit of the look of the Blog. My good friend Rob is helping me with it, for I am truly terrible with computers.

Keep checking back for more updates

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Three Pieces of Great News!

Great Piece of News #1:
The following is the latest copy of my newsletter. Feel free to peruse and enjoy!

Great Piece of News #2:
The following is a picture of myself - and the paperwork that was submitted today that makes me an official employee of IVCF!

Great Piece of News #3:
Though there is no picture accompanying this piece of news, rest assured that I will be posting some more of my writing in the near future. I'm working on a story about Irfan Khan. If you don't know who he is, well, you should go watch The Darjeeling Limited or Slumdog Millionaire - both of which I can safely recommend as brilliant films!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reflections on "Music for Bed Wetters"

I can still remember the time in high school when I first started to listen to Coldplay. I was exploring Brit-rock for the first time, not knowing that it would form the basis for much of my musical tastes, and my friend Foote and I jumped on board before Yellow quickly rose to infamy. I can remember enjoying their music because I would throw it on while working on art projects and would find myself inspired. It wasn't rock'n'roll, but it sure did resonate with a student who's most creative season was the dead of winter. The bareboned simplicity of tree branches in winter, or a simple, young chap walking down a beach were appealing. They weren't abbrasive - but rather simple reflections of a young man trying to discover truth and beauty. I was an art student, so I could appreciate that.

I've gone through phases of Coldplay appreciation since those days - digging A Rush of Blood to the Head (especially because I hyped myself up for it... and my girlfriend at the time dug it), despising X&Y because of its betrayal of so much of what their earlier music had meant, and somewhat embracing the group again after Viva la Vida. I am writing this post because I really did want to return to being a faithful fan of the group, but I just don't think I can. In listening to the cynicism toward capitalism and materialism in early B-Sides "Such a Rush" and "Bigger Stronger", and then viewing all the promotional crap that surrounds the last few albums, I lament the path the group has taken. They've become what the sung against. As catchy as some of their new tunes may be, I really feel like it lacks the heart that some of the earlier stuff did.

It was simple and honest in the beginning, and now it's self-righteous and messiah-like. So many parts of this new video made me cringe, in the same way I cringed when I saw them live over five years ago and Mr. Martin got a guitar tech to play guitar backstage for "Yellow" so that he could punch the air and gallivant on stage. Music was sacrificed for image. It's unfortunate really.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

author unknown?

Since deciding to dwell in the story (memorize) rather than just analyzing (manuscript), this is the humble progress I've made.

(with no aid from the book)

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully, to write down an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you might know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

In the days of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who was of the priestly tribe of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once, when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen according to lots, as is the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now when the time came for the incense offering, the whole assembly of people was praying outside, and an angel of the Lord appeared at the right side of the alter of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified, and was overwhelmed with fear. But the angel said to him "DO NOT BE AFRAID, for your prayer as been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John..."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This week's sermon

I'm preaching for the first time this week.
I'm talking about LOST and the value of parables.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Weekend

I just spent a wonderful weekend up at OPC for the LIT reunion. It was a refreshing, recharging, and life giving experience. It was also a tough weekend. I came to a few alarming realizations and found myself convicted by stories of lost sheep, lost coins, and lost sons. I ended up staying up well past everyone else and journaling in the silence of the dining hall about my own journey of being lost and found. It felt so good to get so much off my chest!

The father takes joy in those who turn back to him.

Had it not been for the fact I woke up with swollen glands this morning, I would have gotten up early to watch the sunrise on Lake Clearwater and write some more in the silence. I appreciated the quiet serenity up there more than I ever have before. It brought calm and inspiration as I wrote and wrote and wrote.

I am looking forward to what I'm turning into.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Enjoy Take Away Shows

Here are a few of the reasons why I enjoy the Take Away Shows.

Bloc Party - This Modern Love

Jens Lekman - F-Word

The National - Start A War

Sufjan Stevens - The Lakes of Canada

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Seventh Seal

Those who know me well know that I have a passion for cinema. It's a point of tension in my life, because I love it so much that I'm able to enjoy some of the more painstaking films that drive many people nuts, and I always accept the burden of embarrassment for enjoying such films. I can remember a time in high school when I felt so much shame because I invited my youth group friends over and we watched 'Waking Life'. I cringed during the entire thing because I knew I was enjoying it - but everyone else was going nutty because there were no explosions, chase scenes, or frivolous romances. Still goes down in memory as one of the more awkward and embarrassing moments of my youth. So I often have to resort to watching films I would enjoy in private. It's not a preferred way of watching, but I've made it work over the years.

I say this because my experience with the realm of cinema has had two similarly remarkable occasions in the last two and a half year, and one of them happened today. Years ago I came to know of a film called 'Wings of Desire'. I can't explain why, but I knew that one day I would have to see this film, and that when I did it would take the top spot on my list of all-time favourite films. So two and a half years ago I managed to get a copy of it. I wasn't feeling good when I started watching, and fell asleep part way through. Then I watched it again, and it was as if I had a knowledge of the future because the film had stolen the top place in my list of favourite films. I was moved, enthralled, and able to thoroughly enjoy.

Today, this same phenomenon occured. I finally was able to get a hold of a copy of 'The Seventh Seal' yesterday, so this afternoon I watched it. The concept was interesting to me - Death and a retired crusader play chess. That was all I knew of it. There was no other knowledge, and I wanted it to remain that way so that I could enjoy the act of discovery when given the chance. While I usually believe that films need repeated viewing before they can take a place on a list of favourites, upon viewing, this film has easily placed itself in a tie for the top spot on my list. It was beyond what I thought it would be, and I found the narrative speaking into depths I hadn't expected. This film could not have come at a greater time, for it has resonated on a level that will inevitably shape the writing I'm hoping to do this fall.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pies! Pies! Pies!

Next week I'm going to be making homemade pies from scratch and selling them to help make ends meet until I start officially working with IVCF at Mac. If you're interested in helping me out, and having a delicious pie, it'll only cost you 10 buckaroos. That's basically the price of a generic store bought pie, but throwing in a toonie extra to "help a brother out". I'll be doing this a couple of times this fall, with different pie options each time.

This time around the options are:
1. Lemon Meringue Pie
2. (the infamous!) Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie
3. Key Lime Pie

If you're interested, comment here or email me at daveyvonstone - gmail - com. I'll be doing the bulk of the baking on Wednesday the 29th, fyi.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In exile...

I will not whine and complain about the election results last night. I’m convinced that politics are not as divisive as one’s faith in, and reaction to, political processes. I consider many people from different political perspectives to be close family and friends, and know that our politics don’t divide us, but when one person complains and one person gloats, a rift appears, only to grow and grow and grow. That being said, here are my thoughts on last night’s election.

I am ever reminded of the need to be dependant on God, and how the kingdoms of this world pale in comparison to the Kingdom of God. So often people put their faith in the politics of humans, and not the politics of God. I remember hearing someone say a couple of weeks ago that each time we vote for a leader, regardless of their affiliation, we are making the same choice that Israel made thousands of years ago – choosing a human to lead rather than God.

So what to do when an election doesn’t go the way one hoped? The same thing one does when an election does go the way one wants – keep a healthy perspective on what kingdom one is serving. Electing a woman or man of any political preference does not mean we can shirk the responsibilities we have to serve a kingdom that speaks freedom to the oppressed, life to the dying, inclusion to the marginalized, and demands stewardship from the neglecting. If anything we’re invited into a process of taking on more responsibilities.

Regardless of who we voted for last night, in some sense we have chosen exile. I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to be faithful in a time of exile. Perhaps I’ll be reading more of the prophets in the near future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I weep for Canada and the CBC

Tough election. I wasn't passionate about many of the options this time around. I was very dispassionate about certain options. Peter Mansbridge just told me this was probably the lowest voter turn out yet. Seriously folks! This is a sad evening.

I was told to try and be unbiased in my musings on tonight. I'm trying. But what I will say is this:

The CBC needs to pay more attention to Rex Murphy. He's in the background, watching Pete struggle through the night, and being ignored. Same goes for Rick Mercer. I've been watching for a couple of hours now, and neither has gotten the chance to speak.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why I love Canada and the CBC

I was catching up on some missed Vinyl Cafe podcasts the other day when I came across Stuart's essay entitled Dangerous World. It's pretty much one of the greatest things I've heard from both the cafe and the CBC in general. Please take the time to read his essay, or listen to it here. This is, quite simply, a timeless piece - poignant in our current political climate and relevant far beyond. Please. Enjoy, and take to heart.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

a labourer amongst the harvest

Standing between rows of cornstalks
I witnessed the knowledge of being.
The stalks do not sulk-
they are rooted firm
though the wind whips of violence
and the sun scorches its tips.
The scent of autumn is abundant,
and all is what it is.

As I walk through,
the dead leaves brush my cheeks
and I pause to cherish its caress.

I turn to the cob beside me
and know that it is the fruit of being.
This field is what it is,
and in so being, is fruitful
for those beyond the field.

It is harvest,
and I see the life and I see the death.
I tear a piece of stalk off
and taste its crackling sinews.
What is fruitful in life
is fruitful in death - they are one stalk.

In the middle of a cornfield I hear the sea.
The wind is my empty shell pressed to the ear.
And I find no shame in
what has been
and what is being.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fear and Awe

The new Oasis album came out this week. Hearing it has reminded me of my high school days when I first started listening to them, and all the ludicrous reasons why I thought they were awesome then. I still think they are awesome for all the same reasons - but here's where they've stepped it up a notch these days.

A couple of songs talk about the rapture on the new album, and interestingly enough these Man-City-loving-lads have a better understanding of the concept than, say, our culture's founts of rapture theology - LaHaye, Jenkins, Hagee, and the sort.

It scares me somewhat to know that the brothers Gallagher have a deeper insight on eschatology than many bible believers.

I also think it's awesome.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Update

Before I forget, here's a copy of my fall newsletter. Hope you enjoy the read.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Matching Game

Here's the game: Match the picture with the little blurb found below.

a) Album comes out next week, and yet I'm listening to it now. And it's great!
b) I'm making these and selling them for $10 each to help pay bills. Please buy one.
c) I met him at the Locke St. Bakery today. We talked about Brad Pitt and the Biz.
d) Album comes out tomorrow, and I'm going to listen to it, and it's going to be great!
e) Uttered to God upon learning my support increased 20% in the last two weeks!
f) Made by my friend Paul. He is talented.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Oh Canada!

With the election comes new ad campaigns. Here are my initial thoughts on the first three ads I've come across.

Initial thoughts: Only someone like Steve would politicize veterans. Low sir, just low. And what's with this "We're better off with Harper"? That's like saying, "we're better off not getting the car repaired because the deductible is $50."

Initial thoughts: Oh Stephane... I like your style of thinking positive and describing the possibilities rather than saying "we're better off..." While I like your ad, you've got a lot of work to do to remind people that the environment is an important election platform. Good luck.

And then there's the Bloc. They have a song. Here are the quasi-English lyrics, and here is the mp3.

Initial Thoughts: AWESOME! A Bloc rock song! Gilles Duceppe, once again you've made me want to be a francophone. You truly are the greatest politician this country has. If only I could vote for you here. One day. One day...

Monday, September 1, 2008

The First September

This is the first September that I haven't been enrolled in school. True, I did have my first term of school off in OAC but I went back in February. This is the first time in memory that I haven't had school to look forward to (or dread).

While many know that I am working with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Mac, some don't know that I'm taking this term off from work - before I start really - to develop a funding base so I can actually sustain myself come January. I think it will be a nice break to be away from campus for a term, and I know that God has a lot that he can teach me over these next four months, and beyond. I am excited to see what God does, and excited to be setting a foundation for myself that will allow me to return to campus in a healthy capacity.

If you feel so inclined, I would love your prayers and support throughout these next few months. I need to find a part time job that will help pay rent and bills, but also free me up to do fund development. Also, I need to build an actual funding base so I can start work in January. Any help or prayers in these areas would be a blessing.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Why I think Christian marketing teams are comprised of elementary school dropouts

...because my first thought was that this was about focused discussions on spiritual topics for men.

Logical, no?

Look for me another day.

With two days left at camp I found myself listening to Lakes of Canada. It's been far too long since I listened to that song, and, in an almost unrelated note, it's also been far too long since I've updated the old blog.

There are many many things to talk about, so check back really soon to see a long list of updates. Here is a taste of things to come:

Dear Mom and Dad,
Remember when Matt emailed everyone telling them that he came really close to a bear during a hike in Alberta, and that it was a surreal moment when he and the bear both walked away from each other? Yea, I remember that too. I just thought I'd let you know that I ran into my first bear two nights ago in the middle of the night. The bear took a step toward me a growled. I ran away like a little school-child. I still have all my limbs!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ingmar Bergman Facts

Yesterday would have been Ingmar Bergman's 90th birthday.
On July 30th 2007, Bergman lost a life-long game of chess.
It is impossible to find any of Bergman's works anywhere in Brantford.
It is very, very difficult to find any of Bergman's works in Hamilton.

I've wanted to watch The Seventh Seal for years now, but alas, it seems easier to find this movie.
But Bill and Ted sure are awesome!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly

I'm in a notoriously franchised coffee shop right now doing some writing. I don't like franchised coffee shops at all, but I had to get out of the house to get some work done (my parents' house has become a black hole for all productivity recently). I escape the house by coming here, and I escape 'here' by putting my headphones on and listening to music. I also read a blog today about certain music which was also a nice little escape. But music, my friends, is much more than an escape.

I'm convinced that music has beautiful salvific properties. I cannot think of any other medium that has inspired so much self-reflection, been a catalyst for so much creativity, and been such a harbour in the tempest for me. Eliade believed that Christianity could not be a religion because it lacked continual theophanies (appearances of God to man) and has tried to regurgitate one theophany for the past two thousand years. I wonder whether he listened to music, because in the same way I am to see Jesus in the face of the passerby, I see the divine show up in musical expression. Music isn't God, but I definitely think it speaks to the existence of the transcendent.

The sheer beauty of albums like "með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust," "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme," or "seven swans" can sometimes be overwhelming, and makes me wonder how people can divorce the divine from the experiential so easily.

Today, it was while listening to "in rainbows" for the first time in a couple of months, amidst the chatter of this coffee shop, that these thoughts were brought to the surface.

Also, on a side note, I finally was able to get work done on character/setting profiles and plot points for my 'faux-end-of-the-world-theophany-story' that's been kicking around for a while.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sanctity of Life

I've wrestled with whether or not I should write this blog for a while now. Mainly because I had this fear that people would misinterpret it, and therefore ostracize me from their communities. I hope that whoever reads this has eyes to see what I'm actually saying.

If I ever met Henry Morgentaler, I would shake his hand.

And while shaking his hand, I would apologize to him for the hatred and threats on his life that have been proclaimed in the name of a God I believe in - a God that does not desire harm against him.

Since the Order of Canada was bestowed upon Dr. Morgentaler, I have read of people returning their honours in protest. I've been invited to Facebook groups decrying both Morgentaler and the decision. There has been a media flurry of public outcry. As of this week, things have quieted down considerably, and yet this topic still lingers with me. This is because the Christian community that I was raised in was one where we would line city streets in protest of abortion, bombarding passing vehicles with "Abortion is Murder" placards. There was an energy amongst Christians back in 1988 that was infectious, and I remember as a little boy being in awe of the number of people who vocalized their opposition, as 4 kms of Brantford's busiest road was clogged with placards and chants one Sunday afternoon.

Today, as I continue to explore what it means to follow Jesus, I have to lament the amount of energy that was put into a protest like that when we seem unwilling to exert similar energies to a deeper range of injustices. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that people aren't silent, and thereby consenting to the ebb and flows of our society. But I haven't seen a similar protest against poverty or affluence. But I digress...

...only slightly. I don't want to talk about organizing new protests, but I want to speak into a new direction to focus the energies that followers of Jesus have. I don't think that anyone should publicly protest against issues like abortion unless they are willing to work towards viable alternatives (and I'm not just talking about adoption, this runs deeper). Are we willing to take in single, pregnant, mothers-to-be, and to provide for them? Are we willing to work towards the eradication of the shame of marginalized parenthood that makes so many desire abortions? Are we willing to clothe the naked and feed the poor? If we are male AND female, made in God's image, then are we willing to fight against the oppression of women within our patriarchal society - an oppressive force that makes the body seemingly the sole source through which freedom can be exercised? If we are not willing to do this, then why should anyone listen to us regarding this matter?

When I read about the kingdom of God, I see a language of freedom from oppression, not a language of shame or coercion, and most certainly not a vindictive language of violence. I hope I am not alone in thinking that it would be more productive to change the way we live our lives so as to bring change to our communities and our gendered relationships than to scream "murder!" at the top of our lungs. As one who believes in the sanctity of life, I choose to extend that to cover all aspects of life. As such, I live for a society in which gender does not necessitate oppression, and where the threat of death, hate, or harm is never uttered, even to our strongest opponents.

Let us bring justice into this world - a justice that invites all to revel in the sanctity of life from start to middle to finish.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Is somebody homesick?

The other day, on the drive back from Ottawa, I had a terrible feeling in my stomach. The last time I had felt that feeling was on the final day of my solo-backpacking trip across Canada four years ago. The last time I had felt it before that was in elementary school when I went to my first sleepovers and couldn't handle it. It was homesickness.

For the last two months I've been in a state of limbo. My belongings have moved with me back to Brantford, but I haven't felt able to settle in there. I still live out of the cardboard box that I packed my clothes in. The majority of my time has been spent in Hamilton doing IV work and finishing school. Each morning when I wake up, I lack the knowledge of where I'm going to wake up the next morning.

Will it be at my parent's house? Will it be on a friend's couch or futon? Will it be in a car en route to some destination? What city will I be in?

The nomadic life used to be an ideal for me, but now I'm craving a place to call home and to root myself in. I think I would be able to handle this transient lifestyle as long as I knew which place I could always return to. But as of now, I don't know of any place.

I know there are lessons to be learned through this period of upheaval, but to be honest, it has been difficult to admit the allusion in my story to a far older story of one who could find no place to rest his head. But I think I need to admit it now, and then go and see what happened in that earlier context.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Any doubts I had about the existence of purgatory were vanquished on Sunday after spending a late afternoon in suburban Oakville. Apparently they don't believe in restaurants there.

I also ran over a turtle with my car yesterday. I felt terrible when it happened, and I still feel terrible. Sorry Franklin.

Come Friday I'll be up to camp for a couple of days, then in Ottawa for a mini Canada Day vacation, and then back in town and back to work!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is some good news!

(after the title jingle, the camera zooms in to a medium close up shot of the newscaster)

Good evening, I'm Peter Mansbridge and these are your tops stories in Dave's life for July 19, 2008.

- After a prolonged tenure at McMaster University as an undergraduate student, Dave Stone has finally completed his one remaining course - and as such is finished his Combined Honours Degree in English & Religious Studies. His final foray in academia saw him enjoying a Film Analysis course he had wanted to take for years, and receiving a 95% for his final paper - a paper that was written on the morning it was due in what was the deemed the norm for this compulsive procrastinator. Somewhere in the lonely halls of power Peter George is lamenting the loss of another student who he could financially take advantage of.

- Elsewhere in the news, the false start for Dave's first novel seems to have been received well by those who have read it, which has reportedly been an encouragement to the budding author. He has also been encouraged by how quickly his new writing has risen to the same length as his previous attempt. With school no longer figuring into his schedule, Dave says he is interested and excited to see how his creativity flourishes and fills the void left by classes and homework.

- Now to the financial world with a Fundraising Update.

(pause for a on screen graphic of dollar, euro, and pound symbols, accompanied by the Hockey Night in Canada Theme song that seems to have found its way into the broadcast after being clumsily let go by CBC Sports)

- Dave's initial fundraising work has gone slower than he would have hoped for this time, however, he has been blessed by the progress of those around him, and encouraged by the growing list of people who have shown their interest in supporting his work at McMaster. For more indepth ways of financially supporting Dave's work, you can visit and visit the support tab.

- Now for the weather forecast. As the rainy season seems to be coming to an end with quite the bang, this weekend sees the beginning of wedding season! Somewhere there are people getting ready to 'grab that net and catch that butterfly!' There also seems to be a low pressure system of wedding crashing approaching from the west. Bring your dancing shoes!

- In entertainment news, Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" seems to have renewed Dave's interest in the UK quartet, after a poor showing on their previous record "X&Y".

- Finally in sports, Dave is still excited that the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup a couple of weeks ago, and is looking forward to seeing who they pick up in the offseason.

That's all from us on this, the 19th of June. For Dave Stone and the National, I'm Peter Mansbridge. Join us next time as we highlight the day's top stories in Dave's life. Thanks for staying this long and making it until the end.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some writing.

The following is a portion of the story I had been working on up until this past weekend. I realized that I could not continue with this story for a variety of reasons, and it has been one of the most freeing decisions I've made as of late. For those interested, you can see this unrefined and unfinished false start of mine. More writing is going to come, and hopefully soon.

For the first week his surroundings seemed so foreign to him that he had to continually take the bus forty-five minutes back to his apartment. Once at his doorstep, he would immediately feel awkward as he remembered that the subletter in his room had brought her fiancé along with her, and out of fear of interrupting the couple in the midst of sex he would decide against knocking. The couple didn’t have sex all day long, but the mere thought of interrupting them one time was enough to keep him outside.

What would I have done if I had gone inside anyways? This isn’t my home right now, he mumbled as he walked back to the bus station and took a return trip. He did this a couple of times the first week until he realized the futility and saved thirty dollars of bus fare. Instead of taking bus trips, he decided to stay in town and take walks to reorient himself with the settings. It had all been familiar to him years ago, but a large fog had developed over time that he knew had to dissipate if he wanted to make the next few months fruitful. He would go walking just as the dinnertime sun began to recede, and would remain largely within his own neighbourhood. He did this every other day for his second week.

Once he had reconnected with the streets and parks of his childhood, he started to venture out into other neighbourhoods in the city. He was becoming a regular again at certain coffee shops as he caught up with old friends who were still in the area, and still searching for a pub to haunt in a town that had lost all it’s original watering holes to the new, strip mall pubs and eateries that were popping up in the new suburbs. He loathed going to these places because they faked the aesthetic and community of an actual pub – the kind of ma-and-pa run place where you were welcomed each night. There was something criminal, he thought, about the way a crew of university girls in short kilts serving beers they couldn’t pronounce correctly were forcing family businesses that prided themselves on the quality pour into the ground.

As the third week began, he knew that while he was starting to get accustomed to life in his hometown there was purpose for him being here that he had shirked up until that point. He was there to write – and in order to write he knew he had to start walking beyond his own neighbourhood. There were other places that bore most of his memories, and he had to go there.

Rather than working his way up to places most endearing and painful to him – the thematic trait thus far – he went straight for the old playground of Spartan Park. He went at midnight, when the park was silent and still, and the only lighting was the dim reflection of orange streetlights on an overcast sky. He sat contemplatively and searched for creative insight on top of the jungle gym, then swung back and forth on the swings, rhythmically trying to move back in time. He caught a few glimpses of pasts spent trying to swing over the top bar, and boys and girls playing tag down the slides and across monkey bars. There had been childish attempts at flirtatious gibberish. These had been brief flashes, coming and going, but there was still no over-arching image. So he left the playground and began his walk through the neighbourhood – towards a specific house.

As he walked throughout the quiet suburb he immediately felt guilty, as if someone was watching him and knew he was returning to a place with intentions. His intentions weren’t clear to him though – if anything he was trying to discover his intentions, to have ears open to hear directions. He was constantly scanning his surroundings to see if someone was viewing his journey. Even though there was no reason for him to feel wrong about walking late at night, he still felt like he was on someone else’s property. He had already done that years ago, and it hadn’t gone extremely well for him. But in that scenario years earlier he had come away with a treasure that made the trespassing worth it.

On that night, as he made his way closer to his destination, he grew anxious over what was going to occur once the familiar house came into view. Then it did. First the backyard fence came into view, then the large pine tree on the side of the corner property. He walked gingerly along the sidewalk, so as to not make his presence known to who ever he suspected was silently waiting to judge him. He glanced at the basement window on the side of the house, and the memories began to quickly flow. His heart rate began to increase. He shifted his eyes to the ground and continued on the sidewalk until he had rounded the corner and was able to look upon the house from the front. As he raised his head, he first noticed that there were no curtains in the front window. So too there was no porch swing on the front porch. Things were different, but he had expected that. What he had not expected was the realtor’s sign that moved only slightly in the night wind. Nor did he expect the sold sign that was stuck against it.

The context in which he had remembered running throughout the house had been absent for over a decade. He knew the place would be somewhat different, with the knowledge that another family had moved in, but now the place looked empty. Where had the last family gone? Who was moving in? He wondered what story had developed and been the cause for the last family to leave – knowing full well that there was always a story behind transitions.

Alright. So I’m here. Now why? he thought. He was curious as to why he had chosen that night to visit the old house, and why, of all the times he could have come, he chose now. The sign was glaring at him. He remembered how alienated he felt from his childhood the last time he had seen a sold sign on the front lawn. A pang of fear struck him at the thought of being even farther removed from what had been once so familiar and safe for him. He was afraid that his memories, strained as they already were, would not survive being three times removed once the third set of new residents arrived. There was an overwhelming sense of immediacy beginning to surface. He had to start writing.

He had to quickly scribble down the thoughts starting to form within for fear of forgetting them once he returned home, so he fumbled in his side bag for his pocket journal and opened it to the first available page. There was no structure or reason behind what he wrote blindly in the night. Thoughts became words, which in some cases became sentences. The page began to fill with random thoughts full of repetition and wordplay. When three pages were full he moved back to the corner of the property, where the streetlight was strongest, and squinted to see what the orange glow made of his scrawling. His writing, frantic as it had been, resembled a school child learning cursive. He read over the pages, but nothing stood out to him as coherent.

His knees tightened as frustration began to rise. Is there anything I can gather from any of this? He was so angry that nothing was becoming clear to him that he was prepared to rip up everything he had written. As he began to tear the first page out, his eyes caught the last thing he had written in his journal before that evening – something he had been struck by in a discussion with an old religious studies professor of his. He briefly remembered their discussion of various religious eschatologies after a class that previous winter on death and dying, in which the professor offered a gem that he had written down:

- Death is a radical revelation that opens up the future…

He stopped mid-rip and meditated on that comment. He focused on the quote so intensely that it quickly became blurred, forcing him to refocus. Death is a radical revelation that opens up the future. It was right there. This was his second sign of the evening, and the clearest of anything he had seen that night. He had finally found it. When he looked up from the journal his eyes returned to the ‘for sale’ sign, and an image of what he must do began to form. Oh, this is just ridiculous, he chuckled. I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but if I’m going to give myself a funeral, I want a proper goodbye – from the inside out.

He scribbled down the address of the realtor, closed his journal and walked home.

In the morning he brewed some coffee for his travel mug and set off to see the realtor. He wasn’t sure how he was going to phrase what he had to ask, nor if he would be asked to leave the premises. The reality of his proposition was, well, quite unusual to both him and those he envisioned hearing him out. Though the distance from his house to the realtor’s office warranted a bus or taxi ride, he needed the long walk to formulate what he was going to say.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Greater Narrative

When I was working on my funeral project a couple of weeks ago, I made repeated reference to a greater narrative, in which the narrative of my life was a small part. I think there is a lot of depth to the idea of viewing life as a narrative instead of a series of related or interlocking experiences. Series of experiences gives such a linear view of life, whereas narratives often have themes and experiences that are revisited and reflected upon. It's the acts of revisiting and reflecting that give significance to our experiences, and in some sense complete them. So perhaps life is a spiral moving up and down. It's cyclical through revisiting and reflecting, and linear in both directions: upwards as our stories develop, and downward as we find greater depth and meaning in our own stories. I think the implications of this view of life are enormous, especially in our VERY linear-thinking culture.

Starting tomorrow I'm doing a week long study of origin of the greater narrative(s) in Toronto. I'm interested to see how this study influences the way I view my narrative.

In a just over a week I'll hopefully start working on some narratives that have been kicking around in my head for the past 5 years. School is just about done, so the time to write is now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

...sat on a park bench like bookends...

I'm moving back to Brantford at the end of the month, just for the summer. I can't tell you how much this excites me. I'll still have some school left to finish in May and June, so I'll be in Hamilton quite a lot still, but the thought of returning home is really exciting! And it's all because of relationships.

First, there is the relationship between myself and art. I've spent the last five at Mac drawing influences and inspiration from my classes, but very little creation has taken place (beyond a few short stories and short films). Now is the time to put my education to work. I think I view the last five years as preparation for my writing (many classes were spent daydreaming about the perfect story, the perfect soundtrack, the perfectly framed shot). So now I begin writing, and there is no better place to do so than back home in Brantford. I feel like there's a lot of unresolved elements in Brantford that I'll be returning to, and as difficult as it may be, I need to go back into these old haunts in order to be faithful to the some of the stories I want/need to write.

A return to my old art.

Secondly, and more importantly, is the relationship between myself and Brantford friends. I think a distance has developed in many of my relationships with people back home, and I'm not content to leave it that way. Sure, as people develop into different paths, journeys, and stories, sometimes we inevitably become distanced. But this is not because I do not value those friendships. It is just the way the story has developed thus far. I'm more Art Garfunkel than I am Paul Simon.

A return to my old friends.

As F. Scott so eloquently put it,
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

It is time for my Gatsby.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Wonder Years

Today, I was reminded of a website my good friend Jared Korstanje made a few years ago (his technical prowess is... astounding). If you look closely, you'll find some rather embarrassing pictures of me experimenting with facial hair back when it first started growing, and trying to pretend I was a part of Team Zissou.

Why is the website dedicated to Winnie Cooper and The Wonder Years, you might ask?
Because my first girlfriend in high school looked like Winnie Cooper. She never really saw it that way (in fact, the mere insinuation of a likeness brought forth a blinding rage which was hard to subside), but it was true. I thought/still think it was a compliment. For years it was a running/inside joke amongst friends, but I had forgotten all about it until today. There's nothing like a good, hearty laugh to make your day, and I had a big one.

It is with thoughts of high school memories that I end this post with quite possibly the greatest closing lines to a TV show - and a line which pretty much sums up my view of the past:

Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn't with me. Still, like my father used to say, 'Traffic's traffic, you go where life takes you, and growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, the next you're gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time a place, a particular fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder. -Kevin Arnold

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Penultimate!

If anyone knows what penultimate means, then you'll know how significant it was for me to hand in my penultimate version of my thesis yesterday! All 66 pages of it! I didn't actually know what penultimate meant until a few days ago - which is a little embarrassing, given that half of my major is English.

Remaining assignments of the Spring Term:
- an essay critically analyzing the prospect of male pregnancy and its mark on gender, sex, and sexuality constructs.
- a final project detailing how I want to die, and what funerary traditions I want (more fun than it sounds!).
- The ULTIMATE version of my thesis.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You can't scream out loud in the suburbs.

Which is why some days I hate living in the city.

I am in a bit of a funk these days. I think my prolonged undergrad is taking its toll on me right now, and any ambitions I had of finishing well are questionable at this point. It's very difficult to put the time in doing things I'm no longer passionate about (like my classes), when I want to transition into the next stage of life now. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, but I can't really help it at this point. It doesn't really help that I feel like a lot of the near future for me is up in the air at the moment. I am trying to figure out the next four months and what they'll look like - before I am hopefully able to start working with IVCF at Mac. There are a lot of options. I like some options, dislike others, and find myself generally uneasy around a lot of my major decisions at the present time. I am a bit jealous of those moments in film when someone is out in nature yelling at the universe/God/themselves/transcendent/etc., because they're able to get it all off their chest. I could never do that around here because I'd be too afraid of upsetting the neighbours or anyone else around. Sometimes the city is stifling.

Maybe I'm in the wilderness right now.
Maybe I'm on a journey. Or maybe it's both.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This is a long process...

I'm still in the midst of completing the application process for becoming a staff worker with IVCF, and I think I know why these types of processes are so long. It's because you're able to see yourself in a new light, and what character traits need to be developed a bit more, throughout the entire process. For example, I'm looking back on the paper aspect of the application and realizing that I am in dire need of improving my diligence towards simple tasks. Simple tasks are actually very difficult tasks in my world, because the simplicity of it all often goes to my head, and an "I'll get around to it," attitude shows up far too often. Reflecting upon how I've made this process longer than it should be, I'm grateful to now see certain areas in my life that need improvement.

If anyone thinks a job like this is all about mentoring, discipling, and caring for others, they'd be missing a really key part. It's also about my own discipleship.
I'm really glad having it all figured out is not a part of the job description. Seriously, more and more each day I'm convinced salvation is a journey...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

...The Grouch Picks.

Hours before the ceremony, here are a few (but not all) of my picks.

Best Film: No Country For Old Men

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Actress: Ellen Page

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Original Score: Atonement

Best Original Song: Once, "Falling Slowly"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

(Not a lot of) Reading Week

This is the final reading week of my undergraduate career, and in spectacular fashion I have managed to avoid reading (and work in general) of all sorts. This is pretty much how I've spent the previous four reading weeks. Instead of work, I've managed to meet up with different people on different days for lunch, dinner, movies, playing pool, and anything else of the sort. Anything but schoolwork. So rather than get to work on the final chapter of my thesis - which needs to get done at some point in time - I've decided to finally create a new blog. I tried the blog thing a couple of years ago, without much success, but felt the need to start a new one now. I think one of the main reasons for starting up again is so that I have a forum to return to my creative expressions. I keep saying I have a novel I want to write or a short film I want to create, but I always feel like schooling inhibits my ability to be creative (oh cruel academy). So while this may not seem like a wise thing to be starting while I have 25 pages of writing needing to be done in just over a week, I'm hoping that this is an act of foresight that will allow me to return to my creative ways. I have no idea what this blog will turn into, but a step forward in any direction is better than standing still.

I should be reading this book a whole lot more than I have been. Instead I'm finishing up my Inter-Varsity application and starting a new blog. Tomorrow will be my thesis-work day, and I've got a good friend named Chianti who might be helping me along the way!

Three cheers for reading weeks, and the inability to use them for reading.