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Under the needle

March 20th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Under the needle)

When Joe and I got married, we vowed to each other: “I will be the Bert to your Ernie, the Ernie to your Bert.”

I walked down the aisle to the song I’m Yours by Jason Mraz (before it hit the top 40 charts, mind you).

Combine a line of that song’s lyrics and those two characters with the very special relationship, and I present to you: My new tattoo.

ETA: The artwork is by Julie at New Moon Tattoo, by the way.

It wasn’t just the kids he coached

March 16th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana - (Comments Off on It wasn’t just the kids he coached)

When I was 14 or 15, I wrote a letter to Brian Kilrea telling him how he had inspired me to work in hockey.

When I was 20, I interviewed Brian Kilrea after a game and when the interview was over I told him that, as an aside, I needed him to know that he was a hero of mine. He hugged me.

Between those two events, I spent every Friday night and a lot of Sunday afternoons of my adolescence cheering on the 67’s and their storied coach. I wore my jersey to school every game day; I skipped a week of school when they hosted and won the Memorial Cup; I didn’t miss a single game the season they won the OHL championships. In fact, that year I was supposed to be away for university and when I made a very sudden change of plans, the first thing I did was buy myself my season tickets.

The Ottawa 67’s, and by extension Brian Kilrea, made up a lot of my formative years, and certainly made them better. I would have been all the more lost without my 67’s games to go to and my players to cheer for.

Every week I had something to look forward to, and for that I thank Brian Kilrea, who always put a quality team on the ice.

Can you tell me how to get…

March 11th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Can you tell me how to get…)

A little while ago I was listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and they did their ‘Not my job’ feature using the book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street which I immediately decided to buy and start reading. This was unusual for me, because I usually read fiction and rarely get all the way through a non-fiction book.

I decided to pick this book up right away because I love Sesame Street, I love the Muppets and I love Jim Henson. I grew up watching Sesame Street, loving Grover monster and Oscar the Grouch, I remember learning so many new things from that show – all the Spanish I know I learned from those Muppets and Maria and Luis. I believe that the origin of my sense of humour rest partly with my genetics (if you met my father, you’d see) and partly with the Muppets – Ernie in particular.

My husband and I even included the line “I will be the Bert to your Ernie, the Ernie to your Bert” in our vows, and we’ve bickered over which of us is which (I tend to be the Bert, except when I make bad jokes).

I am now a little over halfway through the book, through the development stages of the show and into the first few seasons where things I remember where put into place.

Feeling nostalgic and home sick I decided to watch Sesame Street this morning, and I didn’t like what I saw. Things certainly have changed.

First off, as part of a rant I have ranted before, I don’t understand why the world has decided that just because we are capable of computer animation we should use it for everything animated. I like the look of cell animation, I like animation that looks like animation and isn’t trying to look like the real people.

Secondly, I, like many of my generation, hate Elmo. I hate him. He bothers me for no specific reason, but mostly because he took over Grover’s spot on the show, and I love Grover. I don’t understand why Elmo is suddenly the star of Sesame Street with his own segments to end every show. There was never a star before.

Thirdly, I came to the character of Abby Cadabra. I had heard of her before, but saw her for the first time today. I have no issue with her as a character, in fact, it took me a while to figure out why I didn’t like her, but then it dawned on me: When I was growing up, Sesame Street was a magical place but there was no real magic. Life on Sesame Street was perfectly normal, there were monsters and talking animals, but everything seemed normal, but suddenly with Abby Cadabra, who is a fairy in training, there is real magic, which seems somewhere outside the normal that I lived when I was a kid. It takes it away from the real life and into the fantasy – which sounds ridiculous when you’re talking about a street where giants birds and cute little furry monsters live – but that was what it felt like to me.

ETA: The husband points out one reason I might prefer the wonderful Grover to the little red tickle-monster. Grover always took great pride in his diction, whereas Elmo speaks like a small child. Grover could teach little kids to speak properly and precisely, Elmo can’t.

Good point Joe.

Everytime

March 8th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana | Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on Everytime)

Every time this happens, two days from my past flash through my mind.

The first was a day that didn’t seem like anything when it started. I was in college, it was Friday morning – production day for the paper, and we were putting it all together. Two of my classmates were at the base, CFB Trenton, where families were saying goodbye to the soldiers who were about to ship off to Afghanistan. The war had just started, we didn’t really know what was going on yet, and my classmates didn’t know that their story and photos were supposed to be going on our front page – it had been decided that morning. Melanie, the photographer, had come back without Jeff, who had decided to stay behind and complete a few more interviews. I was given the task of driving down to the base to pick Jeff up and get him back to the newsroom to type up his stories as quickly as possible (with the caveat that I wasn’t to break any laws).

I drove up the highway, got onto the base and drove around trying to figure out where everyone was. When I finally found the building, parked and went inside to find Jeff it was completely overwhelming. You could feel the emotions in the air. I should have realized then that I was never meant to be a reporter, because just by being in the room with these wives and husbands and children I felt like I was intruding. These were the private moments of people saying very difficult goodbyes.

It didn’t take me long to find Jeff, explain the situation and get back out the the car, but I’ve never forgotten what it felt like to walk into that room.

The second day was much more difficult.

It was the first day of the Summer Pioneer and the four Canadian soldiers killed by friendly fire were arriving back in Canada that day, at CFB Trenton, and I was on base.

I stood amongst the media, watched the Hercules land, watched them unload the coffins – watched the wives’ faces as they did.

The two things that affected me most that day were watching the media run, literally run, to get the story. It seemed that while I was empathizing and watching the scene before me, almost in disbelief, they were all trying to get the best shot. I was unprepared for that.

The second was seeing the hundreds of people lined up outside. Civilians were not allowed on base, so they all stood outside the fence, lining the highway. It was the first time that had happened, now we call it the Highway of Heroes. One of my most cherished pictures is one that stired much debate among my classmates – it shows mourners framed by the chain-link fence watching one of the four hearses drive by. One of them is holding a Canadian flag. To me, it says everything there is to say about that day.

I felt privileged to be on that base, sharing such a private moment with those families, saying a silent thank you to those four men, now counted as the first of 112.

My home and native land

March 6th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana - (Comments Off on My home and native land)

As I mentioned before, I don’t do arts reporting. I read reviews, but I am incapable of writing them. Thus, this is not a review of the movie One Week, it is a telling of what One Week meant to me.

I decided that I wanted to see this movie this morning after reading a couple of reviews and watching Joshua Jackson on Canada AM. This film was sold to me as a tribute to Canada, and a chance to see the sights that I saw while driving across the country one more time.

For those of you who aren’t aware, I am a Canadian patriot. I love this country. For years I knew that I would be getting a tattoo of a maple leaf on my shoulder – I finally did it when I was 19. I grew up loving this country and I want it to be with me wherever I am. That is not to say there aren’t things here that I am unhappy about or ashamed of, but overall I think this country is great, and I think it’s people are great, and capable of great things.

This movie is about a man who finds out he’s dying and takes off, riding a motorcycle West from Toronto all the way to Tofino, BC (which I had head of only because my husband is obsessed with the Planet Smashers). Along the way he stops to see a bunch of wacky roadside attractions (as I did when I made my way to Alberta – my favourite was the Gladstone, MB Happy Rock – puns!).

This movie demonstrated two things to me: 1) Joe and I are pretty much meant for each other. The one thing we both noticed was that the edited the movie and put different provinces where other provinces were supposed to be.

2) I really, really love this country. I started crying at one point in the theatre, not because of the plot, but because there is so much of it I haven’t been able to see. When I was a kid we drove from Ottawa to PEI and when I was 22 I drove myself from Ottawa to Eastern Alberta, but I’ve never been to Newfoundland, I’ve been to BC, but I was too young to remember, I haven’t seen any of Alberta West or South of Alberta, I’ve never been North, I’ve never been to Quebec City. I’ve never seen the Northern Lights or the Rockies, I’ve only been in one ocean. I’ve only seen a moose up close once, in the dark, right before I swerved to avoid hitting it.

Joe pointed out that I’ve seen more of this country than a lot of people, but that just made me sadder. I want everybody to see what I’ve seen and more. I want everyone to understand the absolute beauty and cold and the sunshine and the sky and the trees – so many trees.

The day I knew I was meant to be a sports reporter

March 6th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana | Personal - (Comments Off on The day I knew I was meant to be a sports reporter)

When I left high school, I had one plan for my life. That plan quickly gave way to another, completely different plan (something I might write about here later). I worked retail for a year, figured things out, and decided to go to journalism school.

All my life I had been avoiding journalism school, because I did not want to go to Carleton, because I did not want to be constantly asked if I was my father’s daughter. During that year off, it dawned on me that journalism might just be where I belonged, and I applied to Loyalist College. I went down to Belleville, took a tour of the school and felt completely at home.

When I started school in September of 2001 they asked us where we wanted to be in two years time. My answer was easy, I wanted to work at The Hockey News. I wanted to be a sports reporter, I wanted to be a hockey writer. I wanted to take my two great passions and fold them into one.

In Print Journalism at Loyalist, you work through the first few months learning how to put together a newspaper. After you learn, you do it.

In January of 2002 I joined my classmates on our first try at putting together the weekly student newspaper. We were a thin staff, waiting for some more students to join us once they completed their pagination assignments (Anne was such a hard-ass). I think the staff that week consisted of an editor, a photo editor, a dark room tech (worst job ever), two reporters and one photographer. I was excited to have been named one of the reporters (though admitedly disappointed to have not been named editor).

I remember very well going through story meeting, getting my assignments, swapping an arts story for a sports story with Krista, the other reporter that week (I don’t understand arts reporting, I just can’t do it). Suddenly I was called over to the fax machine and Scott, one of my profs, asked me if I would go to a press conference. He handed me a press release that I have kept to this day – Jason Spezza had been traded to the Belleville Bulls.

I started jumping up and down in the middle of the newsroom.

This was the next big player coming to my town and I got to cover it, along with all the national sports media that would descend on Belleville that evening.

I took a friend and a camera out to the Bulls’ practice that afternoon, dropped her off to develop the film (I think the school switched entirely to digital the year after I graduated), and headed back to the arena, full of adrenaline, for that evening’s press conference.

I found the room with the national media stuffed into it – the Yardmen was completely unprepared for this much press – and sat down to wait for the Bulls’ press officer and the man himself. It was during this wait that I heard the woman from The Score protest when one of the other pros in the room called the thing a press conference rather than a media conference – she said the term was bias towards print media, and exclusionary of broadcasters. This was when I knew I didn’t like her – a feeling that was confirmed when she tried to take over the press conference and not let any of the rest of us get a question in edgewise.

It wasn’t long before the cameras were set up and the press officer came in to let us know that Jason was coming in, but he was “pooped” after a long day, so the press conference would be sort. I wonder to this day if Jason knew that he was too “pooped” to talk for long.

The press conference itself was nothing extraordinary, but I remember that I got two questions in – despite the Score woman being in scrum mode and trying to shut me out – and I made Jason Spezza laugh (which I remember as a highlight, even though I have yet to see an interview with him in which he didn’t laugh and I now know his nickname is ‘Giggles’).

I was so proud of myself that night – it was my first day as a real reporter, my first real press conference, my first meeting with a real hockey player, and I got a good story out of it. I am even prouder of the final result – the page I layed out with that story, and the single greatest alignment of puns I ever put on one page. My headline ‘Apple of the Bulls’ eye’ was followed with the subhead ‘Team on target with trade.’

I still have that in my photo album too. I kept it on my fridge for the longest time.

Other highlights of my brief career as a sports reporter:

  • Meeting, interviewing and getting hugged by Brian Kilrea, who remains one of my heroes
  • Seeing Chris Neil and Magnus Arvedsson get into a fist fight at a Senators’ practice
  • Making Jaromir Jagr laugh
  • Seeing Jaromir Jagr in his underwear (if only because I can tell people that I saw Jaromir Jagr in his underwear)
  • Interview Olaf Kolzig, one of the most well-spoken players in the NHL
  • Selling my first freelance article for the Kingston Whig-Standard
  • Getting into dozens of Bulls’ games (and one 67’s game) for free and practicing my sports photography
  • Driving to Barrie on the spur of the moment to cover the Bulls-Colts playoff game (and interviewing players in tears after their loss in said playoff game)
  • Driving to Welland on the spur of the moment to cover the Lancers basketball teams loss in the playoffs (and watching an Algonquin player miss at least 8 freethrows and single-handedly losing their game)
  • Finally learning more about volleyball and football
  • Covering a rodeo and a demolition derby (while I was living in Alberta)

My stories

March 6th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on My stories)

As I lay in bed last night thinking about yesterday’s post and all the stories I have to tell, it occured to me that I should just tell them already. Mostly for my own benefit, so I can try to remember all the things I’ve done and clear up what precious space my memory has.

I will post them here, for whoever happens to drop by.

I love Podcasts

March 5th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on I love Podcasts)

Podcasts have been a great addition to my life over the past few years. They educate me, they make me laugh and they make the bus ride much more enjoyable. I started with NPR’s ‘On the Media’ which was enjoyable and led me to NPR’s ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me‘ which I love. I devoured everything episode available, listening to one episode on my way to work and another one on my way home. Eventually I needed something else to listen to and I finally broke down and started listening to ‘This American Life‘ like so many people kept telling me to – and fell in love.

This American Life is a fantastic show that makes me laugh out loud on the bus, makes me cry, fascinates me and teaches me things about the world around me. A couple of months ago I saw it mentioned that people who enjoyed ‘This American Life’ also enjoyed ‘The Moth.’ I ignored that. Until I saw it again in a different place, and then again somewhere else – So, I finally subscribed and downloaded a few episodes. And then this week, I finally listened.

I love ‘The Moth.

The Moth makes me think about my life. All it is, is people standing up on stage telling stories, true stories, about things that have happened in their lives. Humourous things, sad things, great things with great people. So far I have heard about a British guy in his band days, a man who lost his wife to cancer, and the one of the men that the movie Mississippi Burning was based on.

The thing I love the most about ‘The Moth’ is that it makes me think about the stories in my life, and that everyone has a story, that every story has a meaning, and that maybe when I eventually write all my stories down, someone will care.

There are days when I will just suddenly remember something that I’ve done that I had forgotten about – like the plays that we used to write and perform in the basement when we were kids, or the coworker who used to fall asleep at his desk and snore while we were laying out the paper. I want my life to be filled with those stories.

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