Over The Bridge

Has anyone noticed that I am a bit of a smart ass? I know, I know I am very subtle about it but it is true. There is a trick to it though because there is a fine line between being a smart ass and being a mouthy asshole. It takes a lot of practice to tilt that ratio to a socially acceptable side, at least for me. I spent a lot of formative years being on the wrong side and when coupled with teen angst and being socially inept I had a lot of space on my calendar.  I can’t claim to be exact on this skill now but I have a much better success rate these days and I find that the key has been learning when to keep my mouth shut. I have a dream that one day the internet community will learn this, of course I also dream that I will grow wings and fly and one is more likely to happen than the other.

There is a huge difference between being a  smart ass and being a dick. Sure I have crossed that line plenty of times but it the internet is over populated with people that would rather just be harsh to friends and strangers alike. It isn’t good natured ball busting or teasing just harsh, and often, unwarranted statements, Trolling. It’s easy to get caught up in such things on the web, just disagree with someone and say so. I don’t mean pick a fight, even the most civil disagreement can result in a lambasting of unbridled proportions, as if having a differing view point was a slight against the laws of God and man. The concept of agree to disagree or civil debate does not seem to exist on the internet, which is a shame because of the way things escalate to personal attacks instead of facts or point of view explanations. These are the aggressive Trolls, just out to cause problems at any turn.  Actively being hateful and trying to drag down others accomplishments and happiness.

Instigating internet shit storms seems to be the main pass time of millions these days. Do not stand up for yourself, others, call bullshit on someone for their lies, half truths and/or egotistical bravado, that leads to a hell of a time. These are the defensive Trolls, they wait under their metaphorical bridge and when anyone tries to cross it they emerge to rage at the audacity of those who dare to use common sense or question their obviously fabricated or clearly uninformed posts.  It’s the spin doctoring type I have trouble with the most, part of the truth wrapped up in a thick layer of garbage designed to make them the victim and everyone else, be it one person or society as a whole, the bully.  I remind myself that I do not have the time or energy to drag myself into the quagmire of embarrassment that is involved with unwrapping that garbage. I have jumped in before and will probably do so again one day, I just try to keep my cyber foot print positive but I am human and somethings get under my skin as much as anyone. I stop and remind myself that even the most playfully cheeky remark can spark a blitzkrieg of retorts and the personal satisfaction is usually dwarfed by the energy it would take to deal with the drama to follow. Essentially I play the role of the first to billy goats Gruff and roll my eyes as I walk past and wait to see what happens when the big goat wanders past.

All in all the tight knit world of social media is less small village and more Middle Earth where the few good souls are vastly out numbered by the hordes of Trolls waiting to lash out. I don’t mean to paint a dark picture but lately I have wandered past far to many in our digital realms and it irritates me that good people trying to stay positive or have a civil discussion are subject to the whims of the negative and ignorant who seems to dominate the realm, I would surmise that perhaps the negative ones have far too much time on their hands but I haven’t done the research to prove such a theory. All any of us can do is carry on and avoid the idiocy we encounter, despite the rise in ocular injuries from the amount of eye rolling we now do, again speculation not research, and the only advice I have to offer is; DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS


Left, right, left, right, A, B, select, start. If you had game siblings or friends you know what that means. 30 lives each for a two player Contra session on the NES. My brother wast nearly the gamer I was, granted he was an athlete and his time was limited but when it came to the sports games the odd time we played I was his bitch. I racked up quite the cache of NES, Sega, Sega Genesis, N64 and PS2 games, hell I have managed to grab a great many PS3 but honestly that has more to do with the ability to wait out cheaper prices on used games and amalgamation of two households. If you are reading this and knew me in high school you will recall I was not at a lot of the social events until just before graduating in nineteen-ninety-it’s-not-important, I was more content with my comic books and video games, I’m sure there is some social anxiety thing that played into it but regardless I was content and my friends were too. My social ineptitude aside I was hooked on video games since the early 1980’s, Atari and Coleco vision got me and Intelvision hovered in the periphery.  I thought I would never put down a controller. Turns out I was a stupid kid.

These days I mostly fantasize about playing video games. I still have a good deal of vintage stuff and promise myself I will eventually hook the up and enjoy them but I never seem to have the time. Four kids love playing heir games on the PS3 but by in large I don’t get the appeal of Mine Craft or Infinity and my tolerance for first person shooters went out the window back when Perfect Dark was a big deal. I would love to spend an afternoon on the couch with a controller and a beer but it doesn’t work out that way these days, once in a while I get to pay partial attention and offer advice to the kids as they play Kingdom Hearts or some thing I can relate to but mostly I just look at the video game console like one might look at an old girlfriend, not the one that got away type but the “we had such a good time but I want different things from life now” type.  Sure we get together for a few hours a couple times a year or if mutual friends are around but we just don’t have that chemistry we once did. Did someone put on a Simple Minds album? I haven’t forgotten about my games and I still get the urge to shut my life down for 48 hours when an updated sequel pops up or nostalgia collection is released, I know that no good can come of it.

i don’t want to sound like I don’t play any games, I have a selection of time wasters on my phone and a few times a year I drop a disc in the PS3 or dig out an old cartridge and spend a little time just being in the game, I still find it as relaxing as ever right before I hit a challenging part and my frustration peaks a least. Metal Gear, Final Fantasy and WWE games raise my eyebrow and I get curious but it is rare that I dip into the wallet for them for my personal use, mostly I just play something on hand and the progress I used to make in a weekend now stretches out over the course of years. I am probably just being an adult and putting my priorities back in the order the should have been in decades ago but when I see the kids playing I wonder what I am missing. Should I be sharing some of my favourite games with them and making family time? The kids have been known to enjoy games I recommended, sounds reasonable to me, I just don’t seem to have the time to sit for several consecutive hours anymore.

I do miss those times where an entire day just vanished under my thumbs, no traffic, no drama, no BS that the outside world can bring. The catch is gaming is addictive and the realities of the 16bit gamer fantasies of intercontectivity and massive user games provide their own pit falls. I don’t want to get sucked in to a life where I am exchanging insults with strangers. The concepts today were forgone conclusions to anyone playing sports or combat games in the cartridge era, play with your friends but not leave the house, of course internet anonymity reared it’s ugly head and  created a whole different kind of stress exists over a game now. The computer isn’t cheating for itself everything that goes against a gamer is now ‘bullshit’. If I am going to get stressed out and frustrated I may as well be productive while I’m doing it. Frankly I think the levels of frustration I achieved in my gaming days far eclipses most of my adult frustrations, who needs that? I keep my systems and kids of the internet gaming community because I know I will drown in that world and they just aren’t ready for it.

I don’t look down on gamers, I envy them, you have the time to do it and live a life then by all means, go ahead. I have painted myself in to a corner in life and used up my game time allotment early, that’s on me. Most days I don’t miss it but like that ex-girlfriend that you grew apart from I see the games and remember the good times and think “I should take her out one more time.” but in the end for me it is just not the same, I don’t have the drive and they don’t have the attraction. I’ll sit down from time to time and catch up over coffee or a beer but that passion has gone from me. Every few years I pick up a new game and the kids and I play it for a while but in short order I find myself just watching them as I type or read or study, looks like I am an adult now. Someone will lose their job over that one eventually.

Love Lost 

“Love is a burning thing.” said the man in black, he was right, it warms and comforts and provides but it also destroys, that beacon in the darkness may also be your home burning to the ground.I think we’ve all been there, if you can honestly say you haven’t I would counter with ‘yet’. That is life though, it is how we are forged into functional human beings. I must confess that I love someone that doesn’t love me back.

It took a long time to get to love, while it was never truly hostile I was not much more than tolerant for many years. Things change as we grow older, whether I got more tolerant or just found things I never expected to find one day I just found that their was something undeniable and I caved in and went with it. For a while it was really good, we worked well together for a while. Lots of motivation and support, life was good, until it wasn’t. It didn’t take much to push us off track, a few lack luster results or set backs and the rifts would form. We would grow apart and want different things for a time and end up back together sooner or later. Slightly toxic right? Yeah, you’ve been there too.

The bottom line is that I can’t escape this, when we were good we were great, best times of my life, when we weren’t it was awful. I see this person every day. Every day I am reminded that there are great things to be done and if only we could work together despite set backs we might get something done on a grand scale. When I look in the mirror and try to convince myself that we could still be good together, the reflection reminds me that I have a better track record of poor results and we are better off apart. There is no more toxic love affair than the one with yourself, you can love yourself but to really be successful you have to return that love as well, that little voice in the back of your head has to love you back. Right now mine does not, I put a good spin on things, find the humour and fun around me but I allow too many other things to distract me from my actual desires. It comes out in sloppy work and rushed tasks that cause me to become frustrated or indifferent, you may have noticed it come out here from time to time.

It took me a long time to learn to love myself and in turn it has taken me an even longer time to love myself in return, to get that little voice to find me attractive too. Lately it seems less like a lost love situation and more like trying to escape the friend zone. This cannot continue though, I am making headway,I have gone nine months where I produced this content every week, some times twice. It doesn’t always feel like I am getting anywhere but I am chiseling away at those 10,000 hours, sooner or later that will start to earn the respect of that little voice and perhaps this love affair will start going both ways again. Though I will admit that materialism has been a factor in this dynamic a little monitory reward for my efforts may just nudge things along. Stay tuned.



Talked In To A Good Time

Talked In To A Good Time

I don’t get excited easily, I used to but for some reason it is really difficult to get me all worked up for things and events. I might pop for an unexpected surprise but the anticipation of most things does not often get my motor running. I have been known to drive people nuts with my perceived indifference, which it is not, I just rarely get a case of jittery impatience. Last week I told you all about my issues with the concept of a vacation and a recent trip to Penticton but I purposely left out a portion because it was a personal highlight after being my most reluctant piece of scheduling. Since I don’t often get away I have never been on an ATV, my fiancee had found Okanagan ATV Tours ( http://www.okanaganatvtours.com ). Now to be clear I was more concerned with the chronic back problems my fiancee has than the machines involved, to top it off she tripped on our way out the door and twisted her ankle, we would find out later is was actually a spiral fracture of her fibula, for my part I have had my bouts with back pain and lately a sore hip which had been bothering me with all our driving time that weekend. I point these things out because my big fear was one of us ending up worse for wear in the end. This proved to be completely unfounded.

We pulled up to the site and met our guide, Al who is also the owner, in the street out in front of a line of red Honda ATVs. He is very personable and knowledgeable and easily imparts the knowledge to the uninitiated, me. We met the other two riders for the tour, a father and his visiting daughter, and Al explained the operational basics and code of conduct for the ride. After a quick test of the basics we all fell in line behind him and did a run through the training track. Al swapped a couple positions in the line and off we went into the hills over looking Lake Okanagan. Our first stop was a simple view point where we could see where we started and how far we had gone in a short time. This was where he stressed the safety aspects as help was not close? even though he had first aid training and kit, a serious situation was to be avoided and the importance of safe operation not just to preserve his fleet of brand new Honda ATVs but our health. He gladly recounted stories of those that did not heed the advice which resulted in near misses and damaged machines.

As our ride continued on single file, Al was sure to check back to make sure our little caravan was intact and to make sure we went around obstacles properly by allowing us all to be in sight when he approached them. We wound out way into the mountains and had a break at a tranquil little lake. The group stretched our legs, took some photos and chatted for a few minutes before we got on to our next stop. We were all feeling more comfortable driving the machines and for the most part we had gotten used to the handling and controls, not that we felt that we were experts but the hesitancy of the first time out had greatly faded. Eventually the five of us ended up a a view point over looking Lake Okanagan where we could see for miles. Al was great at recounting the history of the area and answering questions. He would gauge our comfort level and adjust accordingly and soon we found ourselves at the two hour mark of our trek, which meant we had to meet another guide as our new acquaintances would be heading back to the base. To my great joy my fiance and I still had two more hours to go.

We waited single file at the side of the road for the other guide, Brandon, and when the time came for the other three to pull off Al was standing to the side of my ATV near the front and though I could only see his eyes due to the helmet they suddenly bulged out and I knew I was screwed. The sudden knowledge of impending impact tightened my sphincter enough to create a diamond, thankfully the impact never came. The girl behind me, in her mid twenties, had lurched forward too quickly but had managed to brake in time to avoid rear ending me. Thankfully that was the closest call we would have and the next two hours we would visit a higher view point with an even more spectacular view of the lake, another smaller mountain lake and zoom along mountain roads, I may have pushed my luck a tad with the speed on a few long stretches but I couldn’t help myself, I regret nothing either.

In the end we had a great ride and neither of us felt any worse for the wear, the ATVs were as smooth a ride as possible and we had a great deal of fun talking with with Al and our other companions. It even turned out that the same morning an 89 year old woman was out for a ride so if a pair of chronically pained people and an octogenarian can come out unscathed so can you. We also discovered that you can get package tours with the ATV tour and a wine tour or zip line session as well, to be fair I’m split on those or an eight hour ride. Sadly it will be at least a year before we can get away like that again but I am already excited to get back up there and ride through the mountains. If you are up in Kelowna, Penticton, Peachland and the surrounding areas I highly recommend you look up http://www.okanaganatvtours.com/ and go for a ride.

Vay Cay Shun..?

I am not a vacation inclined person. I just never really got into that habit or tradition. There may be a future story in that but for now just go with me here. I can take down time and shut off the stress in smaller increments. Honesty it’s the way I have done it for so long I just don’t crave the holiday like many others I know. Full disclosure it doesn’t always work, never the less it’s what I know. I have gone on vacation before, a week in Texas, weekends in Toronto, camping or visiting family, the travel bug never dug into me though. A few times employers noticed that I was racking up a ridiculous amount of time owed or vacation pay and frankly there was one incident where it was so lopsided that HR demanded I take some time because it was damn near a civil rights violation, wasn’t on the company though it was on me.

The last few years it has been brought to my attention that I was selfishly depriving my family of memories and my fiancee of her traditional time away. Well…fuck. So in mid August I started beating down the selfish impulse to blow off the suggestion of time away and get comfortable with the idea of not being home and living out of a bag for a few days in a hotel, more specifically a yurt. I’ll wait while you google that term, better yet let me get a tad bit further and I’ll add a link. This Labour Day weekend happened to fall neatly around my fiancees birthday, I had little grounds to deny her wish of a weekend away since last year I set an impossibly high bar with a marriage proposal, so I resigned myself to the trip and did my best to silently battle the revulsion that I get when faced with such a prospect.

We started off on a slight misstep and a side trip to Lillooet to visit my Mom and drop off my daughters, while not ideal we did enjoy the shirt visit and my girls often feel starved for tome with their Nanny, so it was a blessing. Despite Lillooet not being an entertainment hot spot there is one attraction that we love rain or shine Fort Berens winery, this proved to be a crucial component to the rest of our weekend. Jodi at Fort Berens ( http://www.fortberens.ca/ )  was not only delightful and knowledgeable but she took the time to recommend her favourite wineries and a distillery to us in Penticton and write out a list of them for us. Customer service folks, it goes a long way.

Our ultimate destination was Barefoot Beach Resort ( http://www.barefootresort.ca/ ) in Penticton on Skaha lake, we had found a cool little yurt to stay in and though it wasn’t exactly on the beach it was still a lovely temporary abode. kitchenette, bathroom, TV, internet, king size bed, in short my kind of camping. Our first full day was filled with wine, we took a drive up Naramata and checked off many of the suggestions we had been given. We found great vodkas and Blasted Brew a fantastic coffee liqueur at Legend Distillery, good bye Bailey’s we had a good thing but I’ve found something better. We continued through Naramata enjoying the views, various wines and each others company. We were in no hurry and found several vintages to bring home and a few gifts. We topped our drive off by stopping at Tin Whistle Brewery and found more friendly staff more than happy to talk with us for nearly an hour while I casually enjoyed a flight of the brews I had not had before and getting a growler fill of their Peach Cream Ale topped off with about 1/3 Black Widow which is an incredible combination.

I could tell you we then went out and panted the town red and partied like we were 20 again but it would be a lie. It was my wonderful fiancees birthday and we had reservations. My fiancee had found a lovely Greek restaurant to enjoy for her birthday dinner. Then we were told another was better, so we headed there and blew off our reservation. When we arrived we had to agree that with the crowd it must be good, it’s smelled good, the food we saw looked good, this was the place indeed. The 45 minute wait for a table was not going to work for us though and neither was the complete lack of service and rude hostess, so we walked down the block to the original restaurant and found it too was packed, this time we had a reservation and were still 5 minutes early. La Casa Ouzeria ( http://lacasaouzeria.com/ ) delivered in spades. I can honestly say I have never eaten better. Giant portions, mind blowing food  and a fantastic staff, if this really was the 2nd best Greek food in town they had the best service and I would love to see the other place try to out do the food, personally I think we got hosed by the recommendation. When our waiter returned to offer us dessert we both nearly passed out at the though of trying to put anything else in our mouths. ” We get that a lot.” he reassured us as we stumbled over each other to decline due to being far too full.

I had to walk back to the truck alone as it was a few blocks away and return to fetch my girl but as I walked back I contemplated this vacation thing. I was feeling relaxed and mellow, I felt I was reconnecting with this woman I am committing my life to, what have I been missing out on? My most exotic vacation was a week in Houston, Texas which I loved but as far as just letting go and being away I was just realizing why people do this on purpose. We would have a few more winery stops and an incredibly fun ATV tour that I will tell you about next week because I could go on forever about it and the near tragedy that preceded it. As I strolled back to the truck alone in the warm and mugged ( it would rain shortly after we returned to our yurt too bloated with dinner to move, our sheer indulgence ruined our beach camp fire before the rain could.

It will take me a few more tries at this to become truly comfortable on vacation but when I step out of my own bullshit I understand that one of my few true axes left to grind with my childhood I am repeating on my kids and future wife. There are a few things I would like to experience still, to do that I must travel and take vacation. So here we are again, I am admitting to you all that I had fun, lots of it and would like to do it more but to do that I have to do the one thing that has kept me below average my whole life, I need to get over my shit which really is why I’m writing in the first place.

Tragically Canadian

“Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.” Chills ran up my spine and a tear welled in my eye, never before has a lyric changed its meaning so much and become so powerful. 11.7 million other Canadians seem to have felt the same, the most watched broadcast in Canadian history since February 2010, second only to the 2010 Olympic hockey finals. Blah, blah, blah. You’ve already read this stuff, I know I am late to the deluge of coverage of this event, even though as I write this I see several more news outlets and bloggers still releasing their takes. To be honest I was debating even writing this, let alone publishing it but this entire blog project is as much getting things off my mind as it is practicing to get good enough as a writer to get paid for it and The Hip are on my mind.

1/3 of a country that occupies 1/3 of a continent watched on as a man went through a kaleidoscope of emotions on stage, how could he not?  Gordon Edgar Downie stood in front of the millions….AND MILLIONS, of Tragically Hip fans and gave us everything he had and poured every emotion possible out of his soul. Kingston, Canada and the world  saw it and we wept with him and for him.  All over the globe Canadians and fans streamed the feed on, computers, phones and tablets and felt everything Mr Downie did. It was not just 11.7 million fans it was 11.7 million empaths sharing a moment with one man. I admire the decision to squeeze in this tour, to me it speaks volumes of the character of Mr. Downie, he knew the out come and stood up in the face of death and said “I am NOT tired as fuck. I will not go quietly nor will I go before I have said good bye to everyone. I will not win this fight but I will leave on my terms.”  I respect Mr Downie for that. He would not give up and accept his fate without fighting back and going on his terms, my Grandfather was the same way when he battled ALS, “It may take me but it will have to come and get me.” There is nothing more on this Earth that I respect than the willingness to fight on in the face of certain loss, the strength of will it takes to persevere, to put aside all self pity, rage, sorrow and in the case of Mr. Downie the sacrifice of time with family and friends. Hold on a second, is it possible the he spent time with thousands of friends at a time in ten different cities?

If you missed the show, I have no doubt in my mind that there will be a home version released at some point, in fact I would bet heavily on that and the stipulation that a least part of the proceeds go to a charity to help cancer research and/or the plight of the aboriginal peoples. I see no problem with that, take my money. I do not see the Tragically Hip continuing on though, I can envision a tribute album where other vocalists fill in for Mr Downie as the rest of the Hip play, but I do not see someone filling in full time, not this band, not now. There are bands that just aren’t the same unless they are the complete unit we have accepted, like The Beatles you just can’t swap out one member and go on, other bands have and found success after replacing members but The Hip just doesn’t seem like one. Don’t mistake me, I think the remaining members can continue their careers or do other things and be successful but I can’t see a new front man being inserted and the band continuing on, once in a while maybe but not full time.

There was one major beneficiary Saturday night, Justin Trudeau, Mr Downie publicly endorsed him and and bound him to be the man who rights the wrongs done to the aboriginal population and be the leader that will lead Canada into a prosperous and bright future. No pressure Justin, not like it’s your rookie year or anything… Holy shit, I wouldn’t want that job just for the BS of public opinion on how you balance everything let alone having the most beloved Canadian since Wayne Gretzky fully endorse you as the next big thing. Mr. Downie said multiple times with incredible conviction that our Prime Minister  is the man and I would wager caused some reconsideration to many that did not support our him. The flip side to that is now Mr Trudeau has to live up to being put on a pedestal in the second largest and most uncensored broadcast in Canadian history. That may have be the most clever bit of public accountability in political history. Well played Mr Downie, well played.

I know that this was not the last news story surrounding Mr Downie, I am hoping that there is one solid sit down interview where he can express what his thoughts were as he stood there and looked out at another sold out arena, knowing that there are millions watching from homes, bars, back yard parties and in the streets and massive gatherings. It doesn’t matter much though, the Tragically Hip did not do right by Mr Downie or the band or the fans, they did right by the Canadian spirit. The spirit that never forgets where we come from or who is important to were we go to go. The spirit that says give back to others before you take for yourself, the one that was outlined by William Shatner, Kathrine O’Hara and Michael J. Fox at the 2010 Olympics closing ceremonies. Across the Great Lakes in Chicago Eddie Vedder made a point of paying tribute to Mr Downie dedicating Light Years to him. I look at Pearl Jam and see the same spirit in the music and the same intelligent writing and for some reason whether it be management or just being too Canadian (like being too blonde I suppose) The Tragically Hip never became the world’s band like Pearl Jam has, they remained our band, a Canadian band for the Canadian people in the spirit of the true north strong and free.

I want you all to sit there for a moment and think about your current job, it is your last day and you have done such a good job that 11.7 million people are watching you in emotional turmoil, you did a good job and you don’t really want to leave but it is out of our hands. On what may be his last day on the job. Mr. Downie gave his everything he had on Aug 20, 2016, he lay his microphone on it’s stand and his eyes seemed to say “I can do no more.” and we thank him.He got his due in the end, he did what he loved for the final time in his home town for a sold out crowd, masses in the streets and the eyes of a nation. Pick your four closest friends and imagine that you could be there doing anything you loved one last time in front of that audience. Being on that stage watching a friend, a brother, as sick and exhausted as he must have been giving every last thing he had to your final time performing together. We saw tears, we shed tears and we are just on lookers, what we didn’t see would crush us as human beings. Cancer ravages one person physically but families emotionally, those four others on stage and many support crew backstage were his family too. The strength to get through that show on all accounts staggers me. The Tragically Hip made an impact by doing what they loved. They ‘made a thing’ and that thing enthralled us, that gives me hope and it should give anyone creating something hope. I will be honest here and say that I have considered quitting this, now I feel that I can never stop because The Hip never stopped and look what they turned into three decades later. Go and live, go and make your thing, go and keep going until you can’t, THAT is what I took away from Saturday August 20th 2016. Go forward my friends and do not look back until the end, you could find as many people behind you as The Hip.

READ THIS!!! Seriously It’s Book Recommendations 

Oh the 1980’s, how I miss thee. The hours of Saturday morning cartoons, which were basically 23 minute toy commercials with a couple breaks for more toy commercials and a few public service announcements. We had One To Grow On, Captain O.G. Readmore, In The News, Schoolhouse Rock even He-M

an and G.I.Joe had PSAs at the end of the episodes man did we get a dose of morals between begging our parents for the new G.I.Joe/Transformer/Barbie/Popple/Teddy Ruxpin. Remember those ‘Just Say No’ commercials, now think that the production crews were probably all coked to the gills considering the amount of blow being done in the 80’s, irony ladies and gentlemen (and Alanis Morisette).  I think the one hat stuck with me most was the inundation of reading, hell reading Rainbow was my jam, it was the reason I stopped flipping channels when I saw Geordi La Forge doing something to prolong the dilithium crystals. I was in 7th grade when I found my first emotionally jarring series of books. I was raised with The Hardy Boys books, not the wrestlers, but the series as a prolonged endeavor never reached a firm conclusion that I read but a five book series I discovered had me emotionally distraught at the end of book five. this week I would like to share and hopefully open a discussion on long running book series. NOTE: I m purposely skipping George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ here as there is already too much discussion and I think there is a longer article on it in me. Yes, it is great. Yes, I have been reading it since the first edition paperback of A Game of Thrones. On that note I have never read a page of Harry Potter either, I’ll wait here for you to get over it…..I’m done, stop being a sissy and let’s go, one day I’ll get to it all of them are under my roof but as you’l see the waiting list is long (Ha! third edit joke, you’ll get it later). On to some others I have enjoyed in no particular order.

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: (January 1990 – January 2013), 15 books. There are 14 books in the main series and a short story involving the early days of two characters that was fleshed out and turned into a prequel (A New Spring). It centers on three young men pulled in to a prophetic apocalypse. The three and several others navigate a tremendously well plotted world of swords and sorcery as they prepare to engage the ultimate universal evil as it struggle to break free with help of disciples and acolytes. Part coming of age part Armageddon tale. Robert Jordan passed away in 2007 leaving notes and chapters to his chosen successor to finish, Brandon Sanderson (who has his own creations) not only did justice to the story but I found it seemless from Mr. Jordan’s work. I can not recommend this series enough but it will take some serious time and be prepared to be sad at the end. There are no screen adaptations I am aware of and frankly the only way I can see it being done is a long running animation series because they can stay in production constantly, keep true to source and not drag the story out for an entire generation.

Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind: (1994 – 2015) 17 books. While the story of an unlikely hero rising to the challenge of an evil warlord is not quite original this may be the most compelling. Centering on two characters, one the high highest of her magical order and the other a simple young man that had no idea his heritage was of incredible latent power. To be honest until two minutes before I typed this I did not know there was a prequel and THREE (WTF, how did I miss that?) follow up books to what I thought was the final novel. The struggle of the main characters and the interactions are well thought out and grounded. There are points where the despair of the characters is emotionally draining. While the ending (I thought) didn’t leave me nearly as distraught as the ending of Wheel of Time. However I now have to go buy 4 books and see what else happened that I missed, could be that I end up in tears on the end of this one too. In 2009 Legend of The Seeker debuted to two seasons of a TV adaption until the production/distribution company went bankrupt, while fans long for a continuation the series has yet to find a way to production since the cast was contractually released from their obligation.

Dirk Pitt Novels by Clive Cussler: (1973- 2014), 23 books of Dirk Pitt Adventures. The science and adventure series of my list. the series I refer to are the ones classified as ‘Dirk Pitt Novels’. gave me My mother gave me an early book when I was in 11th grade, I became obsessed and am pretty sure I have most of them, not all. The books read like part Indiana Jones and part James Bond part discovery channel. The creator Clive Cussler is an actual treasure hunter and founder of the real life N.U.M.A. which he founded and  runs with the proceeds from his books and had discovered 60 shipwrecks (that’s reinvesting and crowd funding done right folks) At 85 years old with his first novel published at 34, Clive is probably the one author I idolize most. He started late, wrote much and used his income to fund passions. You can find Dirk Pitt, Oregon Files, Fargo Adventures and Isaac Bell Adventures on literally every news stand and book seller, I have not passed one since I discovered Cussler almost 25 years ago that did not have his name somewhere. I remember specifically reading Sahara (later a Matthew McConaughey film) and his descriptive of wandering the desert dehydrating had me sucking back a Double Gulp (2L of pop from 7/11) in record time, it took hours to recover from breaking that seal. His novel Raise the Titanic was also made in to a 1980 film starring Jason Robards. Neither of which seem to have endeared Hollywood to Mr.Cussler since only 2 attempts have been made and authorized. Frankly I think there is a solid NetFlix series here that could run for a long time. If I were to pitch it I would say six, one hour episodes per book (ish) and two books per season, done well, really get to the meat and bones of the stories, feel the pain Dirk, Al and Rudy go through and the torment they cause Sandecker. Jessica Jones and Daredevil can pull it off why not give it a try. I swear to you all if I win a powerball type lottery I will make it happen under the condition we do not butcher the book as the previous two films did (I did like Sahara I just think it left a LOT on the page that could have made the movie a top 10 of all time, big statement but read the book before you call me out). I preemptive accept the trolling on the 007/Indy Jones mash up.

Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte: (1992 – 2005) 8 books. Wow did this jump up and bite me in the ass. I was working in a film projection booth in the mid-00’s. I was up to date on Wheel of Time and A Song of Fire and Ice, I had yet to discover Sword of Truth. My friend Bryan, a bartender in our lounge, gave me The Sky Stone, the first of five in the series called A Dream of Eagles. There were five books in that series and they ate up my copious free time waiting for films to end (don’t be confused I worked a lot of hours and much of my job was before films started). All my waiting time was eaten up not by watching films through the port glass (for a change) but reading as ferociously as if I was laying in bed going “one more chapter” (I’ve done that too). I don’t think I devoured a series as voraciously as this one. I don’t own even half of it, I borrowed the A Dream of Eagles portion and returned each to exchange for the next volume like it I was a crack addict looking for a fix. There are eight books in the series, the first five revolve around the forging of Excalibur and founding of Camelot as the Roman Empire retreats from Britain. It evolves to the births and coming of age of Merlin and Uther Pendragon and the rise of King Arthur until he pulls the sword from the stone. Uther (6th book), over laps the point of view of book four (The Eagles Brood) focusing more on Uther Pendragon, the father of Arthur, than the one of Merlin who is the center piece of the 3rd, 4th and 5th books. After that the narrative turns to Clothar The Frank (7th book )and The Eagle (8th book), which pick up Arthurian legend from the perspective of Clothar the Frank (as in Frenchman) who travels to Britain in time to join Arthur’s court around the time the 5th book ends, stay with me here, and gaining fame for his skill with the lance. I bet you just bet me to the reveal didn’t you? Clothar The Frank is more commonly known as “Lancelot”, this double shot tells the tale of the fall of Arthur from a fantastic perspective and closes out the series with both a sense of sadness and completion. The five book series is hard to put down, harder than an other I’ve read, the eight book series offers the same but with a sense of completion unparalleled to my experience. I did not feel distraught to end this series, it was more akin to a break up where both people KNOW it is over and just separate with good memories out weighing the bad. This is NOT a fantasy series, this is HISTORICAL FICTION, I cannot emphasize that enough. BONUS: Jack Whyte is a resident of British Columbia (last I heard Kelowna but it’s easy to move).

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander: (1964 – 1968), 5 books. This is the one. I had dozens of Hardy Boy books and they made for a great foundation but this five book series hit me like a train in 7th grade (Devon Gardens represent). You may not know the series by the author given name but book two was optioned by Disney and The Black Cauldron became their 25th animated movie. The third book The Castle of Llyr was my favourite but the end of the series, The High King, was the first book to make me feel like I had lost friends and would never hear from them again as they lived their lives (think about that in this age of social media). I would grow old and die and never know what Taran, Eilonwyn and the rest did with their lives. If you have a young child getting in to the novel stage of reading I cannot recommend this highly enough, as a mater of fact I am giving all 5th to my step son for his tenth birthday at the end of this month (August 2016). Frankly I plan or rereading them while he finishes out his Happy Potter binge.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Why? Because they are much shorter.

  1.  Kushiel Legacy Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey:  2001-2003 , three books. Intense and some what erotic, 23 shades of grey if you smell what I’m cookin’. I’ve only read the original trilogy but there is a trilogy of trilogies to go through in the realm of Terre D’Ange I encourage this to the ladies since it is written by one and my experience sharing it has shown that my lady friends enjoy it more often than my male ones. This is another series I should get after…I may need an e-reader now that I’ve proof read this article once and seen the list of books I have on deck. There are at least two other stories (as trilogies, already said that) attached to the first trilogy, which are the ones I am recommending and two other series by the author. I may be at least 6 books behind but the first three are well worth reading.
  2.  Coldfire Trilogy by Celia S. Friedman: 1992-1995 While C.S. Friedman has published many it was my lurking through the fantasy section in search of something to quell my search for a Wheel of time/Sword of Truth/Ice and Fire type fix (man I hit a heroine type addiction there in the early 2000’s) the cover of When True Night Falls grabbed me but it said sequel when I examined it. I left Coles books in Surrey Place Mall, not Central City (oh yeah GVRD people it goes that far back) with all three volumes. these are the only works of Ms Friedman I have read and they remain compelling and engrossing. The two main characters are so fully fleshed out that at different times you love and hate each of them and in the bitter sweet end you wish there was more but understand that more would ruin the story. The worst trauma comes in the middle of the trilogy when a character sacrifices themselves and all the while you want to believe hey will make a miraculous return in the nick of time. My favourite example of telling a story then leaving it alone. This above anything not in production deserves a shot at  series on Netflix. Three intense seasons and done.

So there you go folks a quick run down of fictional reading lists that I highly recommend to get you through the last few days basking in the sunshine and the winter ahead. Okay, yes, the spring and next summer too in the case of the Wheel of time and Sword of Truth. I do encourage you to read the books if you watch A Game of Thrones, but I will cover those some other time. Before the hate tweets start (TheMattHarding on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Linkedin, Facebook or just about anywhere) I have not read the Harry Potter books, The Dark Tower or any of the other series by Brandon Sanderson, I do plan on rectifying these over sights however I must fix that Sword of Truth fumble (what am I the Seahawks?). What do you recommend? Post on the The Matt Harding Blog Facebook page, comment on the WordPress or Twitter threads. Feed me more, NetFlix and chill isn’t the same if the fiancee is sleeping next to you and you are a night owl by nature.