Creative trash talkin’

Canadians by and large are not particularly well known for their trash talking, even in sports. We’re more a smile to your face and mutter under our breath kinda people.

But I am no ordinary Canadian, and when it comes to my beloved Toronto Marlies, I won’t just defend my team, I’m happy to pick the fight. And it particularly nice when I can take a shot at my fellow Canadians.


Sometimes they kinda write themselves


With Star Wars night coming up, how could I resist drawing parallels between Hoth and Winterpeg?

Spring never officially started until I got a handshake from Shiloh

Created by RCW:

Every once in a while, an extraordinary person enters your life, someone who somehow manages to touch a spot in your soul and who simply by existing, makes you want to be a better person.
My friend, Ned Hickson, just lost such a special person—the victim of a hit-and-run—and is feeling the loss quite heavily.
To the outside world, Shiloh was just a kid who Ned knew, someone from his town. No one special. Not part of Ned’s family.
And yet to hear Ned speak of this fellow is to understand both the impact this young man had on Ned’s world and the anguish Ned feels in the sudden tragic loss. If you have a moment, read Ned’s words and learn about Shiloh.
And whether you have a moment or not, make one today, reclaim some time in your day to think about the Shiloh’s you have met in your life. If you still know them, contact them and say hello…that’s all.
And if they are no longer around, for whatever reason, think on how they impacted your life and see if there isn’t someway that you can’t become a Shiloh to others.
We need all the Shiloh’s we can get.

Originally posted on Ned's Blog:

This is the only thing I will be posting today, in tribute to a wonderful young man who was tragically taken from the world early this morning. After this, I will be shutting down my devices for the day and avoiding my social media sites. But before I did, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about a young man named Shiloh Sundstrom…

imageThe four years I covered Shiloh Sundstrom during his time as a Mapleton High School athlete remain among my favorites in my 16 years at Siuslaw News.

Not because he was a particularly extraordinary athlete. But because he was most definitely an extraordinary person.

The kind that makes you feel good just to be near him because he not only carried positive energy and warmth with him, but shared it with everyone he came into contact with.

Even after Shiloh graduated and moved on to Oregon…

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Win-Win weekend for Marlies

For those of you who don’t like hockey, you will be forgiven for moving along. For the rest of you: PICTURES!

Another amazing weekend in the 2015-16 Toronto Marlies hockey season as the American Hockey League-leading team continued their winning ways.

After an extended but successful road trip–an annual pilgrimage triggered by Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair–the Baby Buds returned home to defeat the Rochester Americans 5-1 and the Binghamton Senators 6-4 before impressive Ricoh Coliseum crowds.

If you want an impressive recount of both games, I highly recommend you check out the blog of my friend UKhockeyfan, linked below:

Rochester Americans vs Toronto Marlies (Saturday, November 21)

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Binghamton Senators vs Toronto Marlies (Sunday, November 22)

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Documentaries can change the world


Just when you thought it was safe to go back near the water, SeaWorld announced that it will phase out its world-famous—and more recently, infamous—killer whale shows. The decision comes after months of pressure from community and animal-rights groups outraged by scenes depicted in the documentary Blackfish.

To further show the power of documentaries, however, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced that it would phase out the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research, transferring its remaining test subjects to an ape sanctuary.

NIH officials have given numerous reasons for the decision, citing the weakness of animal models for human disease and technological advances that make such animals less necessary. Many, however, suspect the government agency is bowing to pressure from community groups fearing the post-apocalyptic world highlighted in the documentary series Planet of the Apes.

In particular, the actions of former laboratory test subject Koba scared the shit out of everyone.

There is no doubt that this trend of documentaries changing animal policies will intensify. For example, it is anticipated that the 2016 release of Ice Age: Collision Course will prompt the U.S. government to change its policies regarding the Scrat…whatever the feck that is.

All victims, all loved


Participants observe a minute of silence during a vigil honoring the victims of the Paris attacks at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun. 14NOV15

In the days since the attacks on Paris, I have watched my social media streams explode in two directions.

The one includes demonstrations of support for the victims. Messages of love and commiseration. Prayers for a peaceful future. Shared tears of loss, both physical and spiritual.

But while these messages may represent the majority in my social circle, there are others that I find disturbing. Others that by their tone and content seem all the larger.

I have been surprised and dismayed by the venoms of hate and anger that blots my timelines. Friends and family spewing abhorrent messages against Islam, against innocent refugees, against anyone who does not look or sound like them.

And although I am not the target of these comments—my timeline merely one poster board on which these messages are painted—they cause me pain. They trigger anger and even fear within me.  I want to lash out, to attack.

But I cannot.

These are not discussions of logic that can be ameliorated by a well-considered series of facts. And lashing out would accomplish nothing. Spewing venom on top of venom only makes the world more toxic.

Instead, I must respond with love.

At the same that I extend my arms to embrace my like-minded friends suffering in the aftermath of the insanity, so too must I embrace those who I feel are piling on to the tragedy, exacerbating the fear, the hate, the pain.

They too are uneasy and uncertain about the future. They too are confused and frightened about the prospect of these events unfolding again and closer to home. They too need comforting and a renewed sense of security.

While the words these people write and speak may be abhorrent to me, they themselves are not. And difficult as it may be at times, in the face of my own pain and fear, I must always remember that.

And so, I open my arms to everyone, and will myself take solace in the return embrace.

I truly believe that this is the only way.

Peace and love to you all.


Falling into autumn

Last week, I took my camera out to catch a glimpse of nearby Toronto’s Kew Gardens and the fading remnants of our Remembrance Day commemorations.

Blood red poppies

Remembrance Day

Every year, as October transitions into November, I go in search of a new red poppy pin in honour of Remembrance Day on November 11. It is a tradition in my family and across Canada to append the crimson flower to our lapel as a reminder of the bloody sacrifices made a century ago.

I also wear it to honour my great-grandfather Francis Sowden, who came home from the Great War, unlike so many others, including siblings on my great-grandmother’s side who are sadly just names without faces to me so many years later.

I am one of few in my generation to have known Francis Sowden.

I am one of few in my generation to have known Francis Sowden.

Recently, I have heard people complain that the commemorative symbol of the poppy has been co-opted by those who want to hail it as a symbol of the glory of serving in the military, if not actually the glory of war itself. This bothers me.

I greatly thank all those who have, do and will serve in the military both in Canada and abroad, many risking their lives to keep others safe. Although I was an unthinking idiot in my youth, I have learned that these people, while frail humans, are noble titans who see conflict as a last resort.

For all that nobility, however, the poppy must remain a separate symbol.

A painting from the Royal Ontario Museum that haunts my dreams. (sadly, I cannot remember artist)

A painting from the Royal Ontario Museum that haunts my dreams. (sadly, I cannot remember artist)

The poppy reminds us of the horrific toll of war. It is a crimson stain upon our lapels that taints us all and reminds us of the fragility of the peace that surrounds us. The bloody hue taunts our civilized smugness with a warning of how easily we can fall into the pit of violence, whether as individuals, communities or countries.

While we wear the blood red poppy to honour the fallen of World War I, we also wear it as a badge of shame that the war ever took place, and that the war to end all wars wasn’t.

This dual purpose must never be diminished. We must strive to be better.

And next year, as October transitions into November, I will go in search of a new red poppy pin in honour of Remembrance Day on November 11.

I will never forget.

A cemetery near my home reminds me of the sacrifices

A cemetery near my home reminds me of the sacrifices