Archive for December, 2008


Christmas

Historically, Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. I mean, I hate Hallowe’en, I hate birthdays more and more every year, and Valentine’s Day is stupid. Thanksgiving and Easter are both fairly meh.

So, by process of elimination, Christmas sort of wins by default.

But Christmas would be my favourite holiday even if all of the other holidays didn’t stink. There’s just something… magical, for lack of a better word, about this time of year. All other holidays are confined to a day or a weekend or a week at the most. Christmas isn’t. The Christmas season begins in November and slowly builds up to a climax on December 25th.  And during the month and a half or so leading up to Christmas Day, the world as we know it temporarily changes.

Some of the ways in which the world changes are obvious. Turn on the radio, and you’ll hear Christmas music playing. Look outside, and you’ll see lampposts decorated with emerald wreaths and bright lights of green and red. Go into a mall, and you’ll find yourself unable to buy anything without having to wait in an incredibly lengthy line. But some of the changes are more subtle. There’s something indescribable about how the world looks when a fresh blanket of snow adorns it. Few people enjoy blizzards, but most enjoy seeing the aftermath of one. It’s a beautiful thing.

Some adults have become jaded over the years, and no longer really enjoy the Christmas season. They see it as just a month with higher expenses than most months. And that’s a shame, because their rotten attitudes have a tendency to rub off on other people. People like me.

I’ll admit, my love of Christmas has decreased over the last couple of years. Some Christmas shoppers are good people who truly see Christmas as a season for giving. But a lot of them are jerks who are only out shopping because they have to. And so when I want to buy a CD, I have to walk into a crowded HMV with a bunch of people bitching at another bunch of people. It isn’t worth it to me, and so I end up leaving the mall empty-handed. This sort of thing makes me resent the Christmas season a little bit. I think that we need to look to the six year olds of the world as a guide for how to act around Christmas. Have you ever watched a six year old open a Christmas present? I highly recommend you do if the occasion arises.

They eye the gift. "From Santa", the card reads. Their eyes light up. He came! They furiously tear open the gift, leaving shreds of wrapping paper in their wake. A wide smile breaks out on their face. He knew exactly what I wanted! They jump up and down with glee as they tell their parents what they got from Santa. The parents, half asleep still, smile back.

That’s exactly the type of attitude that everyone needs to adopt. That Innocent and unshakable faith in the Christmas spirit. That pure joy.

But it’s really difficult, if not impossible, to recapture that joy once you hit age ten, because by then you’ve learned the horrible truth: Santa isn’t real.

And that’s the most terrible truth that a child will ever learn. Because once they find out that Santa doesn’t exist, what goes along with it? The Tooth Fairy… The Easter Bunny… Magic. All gone. A significant piece of that child’s Innocence is lost, and it can never be reclaimed.

In all seriousness, I think that there should be a fine imposed on anyone who tells a child that Santa doesn’t exist. Destroying a child’s faith in magic is one of the most harmful things you can do. Yes, unfortunately there will come a time when the child will figure it out by themself. Children are remarkably smart, after all. Eventually the child will say, perhaps with a hint of sadness, "Santa doesn’t exist, does he?" And at that point the parents must tell the truth, because telling a direct lie would harm the child. So yes, the child will eventually learn on its own. But no one should ever tell a child that Santa doesn’t exist. Doing so would be to deliberately harm the child, and should be punished by a $100 minimum fine.

As for me, my faith in the Christmas season is dwindling. Ever since learning that Santa doesn’t exist, much of the excitement and magic is gone. Some remains, but not much. And this year’s Christmas Eve hasn’t helped at all.

You see, back when I was much younger, Christmas Eve was a momentous occasion within my household. Relatives from all over came to celebrate with us. Over the years, a few of those relatives have stopped coming. I don’t exactly blame them, since they live about an hour away by car. But still, it has lessened the experience somewhat.

This year, however, my aunts and uncles were all no-shows, opting to instead spend Christmas at their in-laws’ house. And that really bugged me, because in trying to please their in-laws, they wrecked a tradition of Christmas celebrations that dates back to before my birth. So this year’s Christmas Eve celebration was more of a small get-together with my grandparents and a cousin or two.

I don’t know if I’m justified in complaining about aunts and uncles wanting to spend Christmas with their in-laws. But I do know this: I didn’t have a great Christmas Eve, mostly because of how few people were over. My Christmas spirit is at an all-time low, and my own family is mostly to blame.

But you know… Life isn’t all bad. You see…

About two hours ago, and 6681 kilometres from where I currently sit, a golden-haired boy bolted down the stairs from his room. Still wearing his pyjamas, of course. He looked under the tree and saw a great multitude of presents. Closer inspection revealed that a good portion of these were addressed to him. From friends and relatives, and one from Santa. He saved that one for last. He opened each gift, one by one. His pace increased as he drew ever closer to Santa’s gift. The presents were about evenly split between clothes and toys. While he was disappointed whenever he opened a gift to find a new sweater, he at least pretended to be appreciative. Finally, it was time to open Santa’s gift. He tore open the wrapping paper, silently praying that he wouldn’t find coal, and lo and behold… it was exactly what he wanted. He smiled widely and laughed with delight. His family smiled too, for they loved seeing him happy.

A little later today, he and his family will sit down and eat a massive feast featuring a turkey for dinner. He’ll be surrounded by people who love and care for him, and he’ll have good food, too.

He’s happy right now, that little golden-haired boy. I just know he is.

Dan is happy. And so, the world is good.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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Under "Side Effects":
 
"Some patients, while taking this medication, have become depressed or have developed other serious mental health problems. Some patients taking this medication have had thoughts about putting an end to their own lives, some have tried to end their own lives and some have ended their own lives. There have been reports of patients on this medication becoming aggressive or violent. No one knows if this medication caused these behaviours or if they would have happened even if the person did not take this medication. If you become depressed during or after your therapy, it is important to tell your doctor immediately."
 
 
 
 
Only a lunatic would use such dangerous medication, right? Well, just call me batty.
 
But hey. If I should happen to snap in your presence within the next five or so months, try to understand. It’s not me talking, it’s the chemicals.
 
And don’t you dare let me off myself, or I’ll haunt you from beyond the grave.
 
 
 
 
…That was oddly morbid. I’m going to stop typing now, before I say something offensive.

SAT II Results Imminent

9 hours until the SAT II results come in. I didn’t do all that well, especially when it comes to American History. Teaching myself that course was a bad idea, in hindsight. The good news? I did fantastic on the Chemistry section, I’m pretty sure. Respect goes to my buddy Keith for advising me to take Chemistry instead of French. A very good call, it turns out. As for the Literature section, I have no idea. I might have done well, or I might have bombed. I honestly have no clue.
 
This has some interesting implications for Harvard/Yale. Up to this point, I’ve been lumping the two together in everything. Harvard/Yale. But assuming my SAT II scores are approximately what I think they are, I’m going to have to start looking at them individually.
 
You see, Harvard looks at three SAT II tests, while Yale only looks at two.
 
This means that Harvard will see a bombed American History, a possibly good/possibly bad Literature, and a fantastic Chemistry mark.
 
Yale will only see the possibly good/possibly bad Literature and the fantastic Chemistry.
 
 
So suddenly my odds of getting into Yale are higher than my odds of getting Harvard. Of course, my odds of getting into either are still slim.
 
 
Ideally for Harvard/Yale, I’d have 700s in all three of these subjects, totalling 2100 points.
 
In Chemistry, I’m thinking that I scored higher than 700. I’m banking on that, actually. If I didn’t score higher than 700, I’m screwed.
 
In Literature, I have no idea. I’m hoping for somewhere between 650-700.
 
For American History… above 600, I pray. And lower than that and I’ll be seriously damaging my hopes for Harvard. Yale is unaffected by this one.
 
So, these somewhat optimistic projections would place me just below the goal of 2100. Hm.
 
 
 
Well, I’ve given it a go. All I have left to do is finish a 500 word essay, and then send the applications in. Then all that will be left to do is pray.
 
I think I’ll start now. An American History Miracle would be fantastic right about now.
Ah, Christmas break. One of only three extended periods of time where schoolwork is not a concern.
 
But I’m not completely happy with that. To be honest, I’m sort of at a loss as to how I’m going to spend the next few weeks. Without school, my life is pretty empty.
 
 
I’m serious. It’s not uncommon for me to leave for school at 7:30am and return at 6:30pm, on four or five days of the week. We’re talking +50 hours of my week. So now, I have 50 extra hours every week and nothing to do with them. It sort of sucks.
 
 
 
I’m not saying that I’d want to live at my school. I don’t know how long I’d last without weekends. That 5:2 ratio of school days to weekends is wonderful. But that’s the thing: It’s a 5:2 ratio. Not a 1:1 ratio or even a 4:3 ratio. It’s 5:2. I need to be spending 2.5 times as many days predominantly in school in order for me to be happy. Any more time at home and I freak out due to boredom. I’m generally in a better mood when I’m inside my school.
 
Strange, but true.
 
That being the case, I’m already looking forward to January. But hey, maybe this break won’t be so bad. Maybe one incredible life-changing moment will occur at some point during this break, making everything worth it. We’ll see.

Is That A Tumbleweed?

I sense that I’m losing my audience.
 
That, or my audience has just become lazy. No comments in nearly three weeks? Come on guys.
 
Here’s the thing. The big bosses of Windows Live Spaces have decided to remove the little widget that tells me how many times my space is viewed daily. This means that I have no clue whether you guys are looking at my space and deciding not to comment, or just ignoring my space entirely.
 
So I’m going to have to make this one of those "mandatory comment" blogs. You have to comment on this entry, just to let me know that you exist.
 
In fact, go do it now. Write whatever you want. You can finish reading this later. Go on, I’ll wait.
 
 
 
 
 
 
All done? Lovely.
 
I think that I need to do something to make this space a bit more interesting. I’ll be bringing back s3c0ndh4nd and the gang eventually, but until then I’m not sure if I can get away with just talking about my own life. I mean… Even I’m bored of my life. I can’t imagine how terrible it must be having to read about it.
 
 
 
 
And now, I’m going to force you to read about my life a little bit more.
 
 
 
Today and yesterday were study days for the grade 12s in preparation for the upcoming exams. Translation? Grade 12s were allowed to take yesterday and today off.
 
I didn’t though. Something told me to go to school. A great choice.
 
With only about 10% of the 12th grade population in school, and with all Grade 12 classes cancelled, I had perfect freedom to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. A day full of spare periods.
 
The absence of grade 12s meant the absence of most of my friends. But I still had fun with the eighth graders. I ate lunch with one of them yesterday. Such a simple thing, I know, but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t awkward or anything. If not for the expectations of society, I’d sit with them at lunchtime everyday.
 
Today I was speaking to one of them (Brian was his name), and for some reason the subject turned to university stuff. He asked me where I was going after high school. Before I could answer, another eighth grader, Bruno, joined the conversation. For some reason, he thought that I was Brian’s brother. I’m not sure why he would think that, since I’m not a blond. But anyhow, Bruno joined the conversation. And then Cole joined. And then three or four others whose names I can’t remember. And they were all talking about their dreams and aspirations, and asking me how much time they would have to spend in university after high school in order to get to where they want to go in life. Questions were flying at me from all sides, and I had an answer for every single one. It was awesome. I can’t describe how good it felt that they were looking to me for answers.
 
But then they had to run off to class and I was left alone. And that’s when I started feeling a bit sad.
 
Today was the last day of the first term. That means that I’m nearly 40% of the way through grade 12.
 
And that sucks more balls than you can imagine.
 
I’m genuinely interested in seeing how this group of guys in going to turn out. They’ll all be starting high school next year. I want to be there to help them through the process in whatever way I can.
 
But I can’t. Because they’re making me go to university next year. Sure, I can still visit them once in a while, but that’s not the same. The school admins won’t let just anyone come in and talk to students.
 
Six months left. That sounds like a fucking death sentence to me.
 

Addendum

Sixteen minutes. That should set a new record for the shortest time between two entries on this space…

Kevin, again in his infinite wisdom, has seen it fit to post the video onto facebook. I’m not sure if anyone can view it or only Kevin’s friends. Regardless, here’s the URL:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/video/video.php?v=1023030230195&ref=nf

Perhaps I was a bit too critical of Kevin. I didn’t see it during the premiere this morning, but Kevin did credit me for my cameraman work. And he did put my name at the top of the writers list, above his. Maybe I’ll cut him some slack.

But seriously, since when does "Special Effects by:" ever go before "Written by:"?

Even "Edited by:" should probably go after "Written by:".

These are seemingly minor gripes, but like I said before, it’s about principle.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing round two of the SATs.

I’m going in with a pessimistic attitude. This portion of the SATs is subject oriented, meaning that studying is necessary. I’m taking American History, Chemistry, and Literature. And I haven’t been studying nearly hard enough to do well. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try.

As for Harvard and Yale, that dream is being slowly strangled by my English teacher. As he’s made clear to me on multiple occasions, I’m nothing more than a mediocre writer. And as much as I’d like to bash his face in for saying that so bluntly to my face, I’m above that. If I manage to get Cody H. published, maybe I’ll thank him in the acknowledgments for telling me that I wasn’t a good writer. I’d love to be able to harm his credibility as an English teacher somehow. I’d love for his future students to pop open my book and see his name up in lights. In an indirect way, he’s motivating me to become a better writer. Just so that I can rub it in his face.

I currently have an 80% in English, which is the lowest mark that I’ve ever had in any high school course in any year. The second lowest mark that I’ve ever had in high school is an 82% in Grade 9 English. With the same teacher. Coincidence? I think not.

Speaking of the novel, I spoke to my school’s librarian about it today. And that librarian has a friend who is in tight with Penguin publishing, and who might be able to get me an agent.

I refuse to get excited about this yet. The lady is all the way in Nova Scotia, after all. And getting an agent is damned hard, regardless of whether or not you have contacts.

But if I can get an agent, I’ll explode with joy. Being represented by an agent would increase my chances of being published by quite a bit. And some say that getting an agent is the hardest part of the publication battle. Again, I refuse to get myself excited just yet. But I’m closer than I’ve ever been before, that’s for sure.

The film? That went well. Sort of. The film itself turned out alright. I still found myself cringing every time the Jamaican guy spoke. He ruined the best joke of the whole film with his terrible monotone voice. I wish I could post it here, but unfortunately the director has seen it in his infinite wisdom to refuse me a copy of the film.

But reaction to the film was fairly positive. It didn’t receive a standing ovation, but no one made fun of it either. At the end, people seemed satisfied, which is better than I expected.

The credits were disappointing though. My writing was lumped in with three other guys, with no personal distinction whatsoever. I’m not sure what my course of action is going to be. I won’t quit the club in anger, because I’m above that. But I might become a little less willing to help when Kevin needs me to run around the school in search of seventh graders to play bit parts. We’ll see.

The future? It holds 9 exams in the next 14 days. Needless to say, I’m stressed. These are the most and least important exams of my life coming up.

They’re the most important because the marks I get on these exams will comprise about 35% of the marks that universities will see.

They’re the least important because… I don’t really care. Aside from English, my marks are still high enough that I’m easily in to all of the Canadian universities that I’ve applied to. Unless I fall asleep during one of the exams and fail, I’ve already got it made.

But they’re also the most important because they’re the last marks that Harvard and Yale will see from me. One last chance to get my marks to that Harvard/Yale standard of excellence.

But they’re the least important because I probably won’t hit that standard of excellence anyhow. My entire Harvard/Yale application rests on the arms of young Cody. If they’re impressed by him, I’m in, regardless of my marks. If they’re not, I’m not. It’s as simple as that.

After these two weeks are done, fuck everything. High school will be over. University applications will be in, and unless I hack someone to death, the universities won’t rescind any acceptance offers.

Until then… I’m a stressed kid. Wish me luck.

Film Stuff

It would appear that they’ve changed the layout of this space somewhat.
 
I sort of like it, actually. I wonder why they bother though. Honestly, how many people still use Windows Live Spaces? There’s me, and there’s… er…
 
Hm.
 
 
But anyhow, let’s talk about filming for the second last time. I wish I could say that I have good news about this, but alas…
 
 
 
 
We went to re-film the lost footage and film some new footage, and guess what? Some of the actors failed to show up (just to screw me over, the Jamaican wasn’t one of them).
 
So guess who had to be an actor? Yeah, that’s absolutely right.
 
Not only that, but for some reason I was cast as two minor roles, one of which had me playing a seventh grade student. A seventh grader with glasses. And they were real glasses. Heavy prescription, too. So in one scene I’m acting while essentially blind. I don’t think I did a good job.
 
Do you remember that snide remark I made about the actors being the ones who will have to deal with embarrassment? Yeah. The Law of Karma comes back to bite me in the ass.
 
And not only did I have to act, but I also had to work the camera and do a small amount of directing. Which I probably won’t get credited for.
 
I’ll unleash a short rant on the crediting in a short while, but I first need to let out some other concerns. Today, I took half an hour off filming in order to tutor a tenth grader. And when I get back to the set, what do I find? They’ve changed the whole fucking last scene! Without even consulting me! Apparently it’s really funny now.
 
This concerns me, since the people who told me that it’s funny are the same people who think that farts are funny.
 
 
 
I haven’t seen the final version yet, which also concerns me since it’s making its premiere at 8:34 tomorrow morning. There’s so much that I know is wrong with this film, but have had no power to fix. But who gives a crap if it’s bad? The film is premiering on the last Friday of school before exams. I guarantee you that by Saturday morning, no one will remember it, regardless of its quality.
 
What I’m worried about here is the crediting.
 
Kevin is a wonderful guy who has busted his ass daily for this film.
 
He directed the film, and so he should be listed as director. I did a small amount of directing, but not enough to merit a directing credit. I recognize this.
 
He edited the film, and so he should be listed as the editor.
 
But.
 
He did not write the film. I wrote the film. Other people put in some work, but the vast majority of the writing was done by me.
 
And yet Kevin seemed to be inferring that everyone would be receiving equal writing credit.
 
That just isn’t fair to me. I don’t care if Kevin ignores my camera duties or my directing duties. In fact, I would expect him to ignore those. As for the acting, it goes without saying that I’ll get credited for that. Actors never get screwed over in the credits.
 
But I deserve that writing credit. I’m not being greedy here, am I? If I wrote the vast majority of something, I should be credited for it. That’s fair, right?
 
I don’t mind if Kevin decides to give everyone "writer" credit as long as he gives me "lead writer", or something similar. I’m fine with that.
 
But if he gives everyone equal status as writers, all hell is going to break loose.
 
In the long run, what happens with this film is of little consequence. Whether or not I get writing credit in a 4 minute short film won’t make or break my life. So why do I care so much? It’s the principle behind it more than anything. I don’t like being screwed over by anyone. So, Kevin had better pray that I see my name at 8:38 am tomorrow. I might be only 5’7", but Kevin is 5"5′.
 
(You know, I occasionally wonder if I’m making a mistake by being so open in these blogs. Kevin is on my MSN list, so in reality two well-placed clicks will get him to this blog. But what’s the worst he could do to me? Again, he’s 5’5".)
 
 
 
I might be able to post a link to the film tomorrow at some point. We’ll see.