Tag Archives: Photography

Tales…

… from the road!


This week I’m at the beginning of a mini vacation and whirlwind meet ‘n greet tour of a number of wonderful places in the northeastern United States… and Buffalo. With special Fan Club tickets to the Pearl Jam show in Buffalo on Saturday night, airline tickets being what they are, and me with my new fuel efficient Mazda 3 (Sport, with SkyActiv technology), I made the executive decision a few weeks ago to drive from Buffalo to Cambridge, Massachusetts while making a stop in upstate New York to visit my friend and fellow blogger/writer Gordon Bonnet (his twitter handle is @TalesOfWoah and his blog is Skeptophilia).


But before that I had a few things to sort out. Step one is getting across the border. Last time I made the trip I was harangued at the Peace Bridge by an overzealous guard. In addition to the usual “What’s the purpose of your trip? Where are you staying?” questions the following exchange occurred: 

Guard: “How do you know your friend?

Me: “We grew up together.” 

Guard: “So you’ve lived in the United States?” 

Me: “No he used to live in Canada?” 

Guard: “So why is he living in the United States?” 

Me: “He went to grad school in Wisconsin and then got a job in Chicago. He switched jobs and moved to Cambridge. Met a nice girl and got married.” 

Guard: “So is that why you’re visiting? To get a job?” 

Me: “No sir. I have a job. I just want to visit my buddy.” 

[Handing me back my passport] 

Guard: “Have a good trip.”

Seriously?


This time the trip across was a lot smoother, even if it did take 45 minutes to complete. With it being the long weekend and with there being a Bills game on Sunday it was amazingly busy. The border guard did rummage through all my stuff and check the wheel wells of my car for contraband but other than that it was uneventful. Oh, a lady a couple rows over was detained for reasons unknown, so I guess that was exciting.

Saturday night was spent in a packed arena in the armpit of America watching one of the most exciting bands of the last two decades. Pearl Jam has graduated from 1990’s grunge to good old fashioned Rock and Roll and they put on a show that I certainly won’t forget. Smart phones being what they are I managed to capture a few things. Here’s a taste (oh yeah, I caught myself a Mike McCready guitar pick too):


Sunday brought a quick 90 minute drive down to see Gordon. It was everything I hoped it would be, and then some. I’ll admit it, I have a serious man crush on him and he did not disappoint. Aside from writing a thoroughly entertaining blog, he’s written some thoroughly entertaining books, and he’s a SCIENCE TEACHER! Anyone who knows me knows that science is my favourite -ence. 

We chatted about writing. We talked about art and creativity. I got to see his son working on his art (glass blowing and other assorted glass creations). He made me a cheese and bacon sandwich. He even let me see his writing hole… er… workspace. He probably has the best window ever for looking out of. The picture doesn’t do it justice:

 

So it’s been an eventful weekend to say the least. Tune in next week as I continue my quest to meet as many writers as possible. With any amount of luck I’ll get to tell you what Richard B. Wood drinks at the pub, what kind of flooring is in Alex Kimmell’s house, and where A.J. Aalto’s favourite place is to dump a body.

Stay tuned!

~ Andrew

The Big Reveal

Well the guesses are in and we have a winner!
 
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to have a read and congratulations to Stephanie Fuller for correctly picking out which one of these was a complete and total lie. Stephanie, just send me an email with the pictures you want (up to 10) from Andrew’s Alphabet and I’ll get them to you right away.
 
Of course, because I’m sneaky (or just a jerk – you decide) I’ve decided not to directly reveal which answer is bunk. Instead, I’ve made all the choices clickable and upon doing so, the choice will expand to reveal a brief story about the item. The false one will be appropriately labelled (and in red text).
 
Of course, if you want to just go back to the original post and check to see which one Stephanie picked you can do that too 🙂
 
Without further delay. Here are the facts (and one lie):
  1. I have scored a game winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  2. I have assisted Penn & Teller on stage with one of their tricks (Mofo the Psychic Gorilla)
  3. I have been paid as a freelance writer to provide original content to a video game
  4. I have had a 1 minute conversation and spoken five scripted words on a nationally broadcasted television show (US and Canada) 
    1. The episode aired more than once and I have been recognized by at least one complete stranger for this appearance
    2. It was 20 years before I saw it
  5. I have played, and won, hockey games on both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks in Lake Placid New York 
  6. I have had a 500 word anecdote selected for inclusion in a Darwin Awards book
    1. In the first printing (hard cover) they incorrectly spelled my name
  7. I have stood in the room where Winston Churchill was born
  8. One summer in Europe was spent working as a groundskeeper for a Canadian embassy
  9. I have had a 5000 word short story selected for inclusion (and soon to be published) in an anthology
  10. I have appeared as a street fighting bum in a rap music video
  11. I have eaten snake soup
  12. I was once qualified to instruct both flat water canoeing and small vessel sailing
  13. I once stayed awake for over 100 consecutive hours
  14. I have appeared in a TV commercial for a financial institution (singing & texting – but no talking)
  15. I have been a teacher’s assistant for English as a Second Language children (ages 6-10) with behavioural problems
    1. This job was a block away from the most crime riddled area of Canada’s largest city
  16. I have broken or cracked the following bones: toe beside the big one on the left foot, left foot, left ankle, left tibia, left arm (radius AND ulna), left pinky and middle fingers (separate breaks), several ribs, right ankle, right wrist, right pinky finger, nose, head (stiches), and brain (more than 4 concussions)
  17. I have driven my car to the publicized geographic longitudinal centre of Canada
  18. Last year of high school I did not take notes or use anything but a pencil to write assignments/tests in calculus.  I got 94%.  Last year of university I studied more for my Calculus 3 course than any other subject.  I got 51%
    1. In school, we covered in 3 lectures (9 hours) what took Isaac Newton over 20 years to uncover and write down (granted, he had other things going on).
~ Andrew
 

One of These Facts is Actually a Lie

Update:
You can go to The Big Reveal post to find out who our winner is. Congratulations and thanks to everyone for playing along.


I think this is a good time for you to get to know me a little bit. Though instead of doing a Q&A or blather on about myself I thought I’d do something different. Here are 18 main points and 5 sub-points that are all facts about me – except one.

To make it interesting I am asking you to guess which one of these is a complete lie. Until 23:59:59 on March 31st I will be accepting guesses, and if at that time I have 10 or more guesses I will reveal the lie and someone will win stuff!
First, the prize: 
  • (Up to) 10 digital downloads from Andrew’s Alphabet
    • Free for you to use however you want, as many times as you want (provided you do not resell them or use them for any commercial purposes). 
    • I will also include the story behind each image. One paragraph per picture about how I came to get the picture in my collection.
Next, the rules:
  • In the section below enter your email and other relevant information (it will NEVER be given out to anyone or seen by anyone but myself)
  • For your comment simply put down the number (and sub-number, if applicable) of the statement you think is FALSE (e.g. #4-2 or #7 or #18-1). Feel free to actually comment too!
  • You may only guess once
  • You may only pick one statement (i.e. if you select #4 you have picked that statement and not all the statements below it)
  • On April 1st if I have received at least 10 guesses…
    • …and one person has guessed correctly – I will award them the prize
    • …and more than one person guessed correctly – I will award the prize using a random draw including just the correct guessers
    • …and no one has guessed correctly – I will award the prize using a random draw including everyone who has guessed
  • Once the winner is declared they will have until April 15th to visit Andrew’s Alphabet and select up to 10 letters. I will send you an email and you can just reply with your choices and I will send you the images (Note: all images are suitable for printing in 4×6, many will print much larger)

Those who know me (or who have been paying attention) will know for certain some of the truths. Don’t spoil it for others! Just comment with your guess and see what some other people think 🙂

Without further delay. Here are the facts (and one lie):
  1. I have scored a game winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  2. I have assisted Penn & Teller on stage with one of their tricks (Mofo the Psychic Gorilla)
  3. I have been paid as a freelance writer to provide original content to a video game
  4. I have had a 1 minute conversation and spoken five scripted words on a nationally broadcasted television show (US and Canada) 
    1. The episode aired more than once and I have been recognized by at least one complete stranger for this appearance
    2. It was 20 years before I saw it
  5. I have played, and won, hockey games on both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks in Lake Placid New York 
  6. I have had a 500 word anecdote selected for inclusion in a Darwin Awards book
    1. In the first printing (hard cover) they incorrectly spelled my name
  7. I have stood in the room where Winston Churchill was born
  8. One summer in Europe was spent working as a groundskeeper for a Canadian embassy
  9. I have had a 5000 word short story selected for inclusion (and soon to be published) in an anthology
  10. I have appeared as a street fighting bum in a rap music video
  11. I have eaten snake soup
  12. I was once qualified to instruct both flat water canoeing and small vessel sailing
  13. I once stayed awake for over 100 consecutive hours
  14. I have appeared in a TV commercial for a financial institution (singing & texting – but no talking)
  15. I have been a teacher’s assistant for English as a Second Language children (ages 6-10) with behavioural problems
    1. This job was a block away from the most crime riddled area of Canada’s largest city
  16. I have broken or cracked the following bones: toe beside the big one on the left foot, left foot, left ankle, left tibia, left arm (radius AND ulna), left pinky and middle fingers (separate breaks), several ribs, right ankle, right wrist, right pinky finger, nose, head (stiches), and brain (more than 4 concussions)
  17. I have driven my car to the publicized geographic longitudinal center of Canada
  18. Last year of high school I did not take notes or use anything but a pencil to write assignments/tests in Calculus.  I got 94%.  Last year of university I studied more for my Calculus 3 course than any other subject.  I got 51%
    1. In school, we covered in 3 lectures (9 hours) what took Isaac Newton over 20 years to uncover and write down (granted, he had other things going on).

~ Andrew

Kev Makes Good

If you read this blog you know about  my history with the writer/director Kevin Smith. It’s been a hot & cold, up & down, tumultuous & tenuious “relationship” that has been going on for more than a year. Well, last night in Toronto, in front of 500 die-hard fans and countless thousands of others on the big screen in over 500 theaters across North America, Kevin and his organization did what they do best, and in the process provided me with some much needed closure.

Upon hearing of his live show in Toronto I sent Jordan Monsanto and Meghan Quinlan an email asking if my art swap deal could be realized. In what can only be described as “lightning fast” reply Jordan indicated she’d put the request in to the venue to have myself  +1 put on the guest list. That was Monday. I was assured a response by Friday. It came and a friend and I were off to the show.

Trying something different, Kevin was doing a live podcast with Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Get Old) at a movie theater and simulcasting it to theaters all over North America (I’m told over 500 screens). After the hour long podcast Kev and Jay would do a Q&A taking questions from Twitter as well as the live audience.

A few weeks before the show I received an email from Jordan indicating that the venue had oversold the show and were eliminating everyone’s +1’s from the guest list. At first I was a little miffed, but I still had a ticket and I had a friend who was already going (more on that in a second) so I wouldn’t be flying solo. Arriving at the theater I realized something: the venue has control. The bag check, pat down, electronic wand treatment they were giving people was ridiculous. According to Jordan, they weren’t even allowed a merchandise table, which is unfortunate as I was going to leave Kev a gift that I made from my alphabet photography:

“SMOD” by Andrew F. Butters
http://andrewsalphabet.com

I lied and said I was only in the possession of a cell phone, and no camera and took my seat. Front row, just to the right of center:

Row AA is good, right? Why yes it is!

Kev doing his thing. Mewes lounging on the couch.

I decided in advance that I would not go to extraordinary lengths to get Kevin and Jay my photography, or to get to the mic to ask a question. I was going to just sit and enjoy the event, and am I ever glad I did. I had a front row seat to a one of a kind event surrounded by TV cameras and hundreds of other great fans. My friend, who recently quit his job and is now writing full time had other plans.

Robert Chute wrote a book, Self-help for Stoners, and really wanted to get to the mic and give Kevin the book (to whom he had dedicated it, along with Joe Rogan). Well Robert had his moment, and he didn’t make a giant douche of himself (which is easy to do when your host does a lot of poop jokes). I completely failed Robert when I didn’t get a picture or video of it! For this I completely apologize and can only say that Kevin was completely gracious upon receiving the book. I was so close to the stage that when Robert handed the book to him I could see Kev off point to the cover and then hear him say, “Oh yeah, I know you!”. So, go read this book (I’m talking to you too Kevin!) Don’t let the title fool you, even if you’re not into smoking pot, the book is great.

So one thing Kevin wanted to do with the show was get in a lot of questions. This would probably be the only downside I saw to the event. Personally, when I go see Kevin Smith I go because he often answers a question with a 45 minute anecdote that leaves you gasping for air, holding your sides, peeing your pants laughing. Because he was answering rapid fire questions in an effort to get as many in as possible (presumably to ensure interaction and continued interest from the remote theaters watching) the responses, while well put together, genuine and honest, just weren’t the type that are in Kevin’s wheelhouse. As such, moments felt rushed, which is hard to do for a 3 hour event, and he didn’t get the chance to really work up the audience and deliver many “hit ’em out of the park” punch lines.

All in all though, it was a remarkably enjoyable experience, and Kevin’s love for Toronto and Canada in general comes through quite naturally, even when he’s not plugging his final movie, a Canadian tale about hockey titled “Hit Somebody”. I can say for sure I’ll go see it, and so will at least a few thousand other Canadians who watched Kevin and Jay rock the stage at the Scotiabank Theater last night.

~

Lend Me Your Words

Update!

A new site is up and running specifically for this project. You can find picture #2 along with the results from picture #1 here. Future pictures will be done through the other site in an effort to keep my personal work separate from the project.

Thanks,
Andrew


So while suffering from post-concussion syndrome I got this idea that would allow me to explore some creativity without me needing to be on the computer for too many minutes in a row (screen time hurts the head).

I wanted to put the adage “A picture is worth 1000 words” to the test. I posted an original photo of mine and asked the people of the internet (mostly Twitter, but also the blogosphere, Facebook, and Google+) to lend me 100 of their words in response to the picture.  Once I had received 1000 words I would then edit the submissions and post the completed work as a little bit of “flash fiction”.

The only rules were that people submit 100 words (or thereabouts) in the form of full sentences and that I would only rearrange full sentences and not just grab words here and there to create new text.

I am pleased to say that in less than 24 hours my post became the 2nd most visited page on my blog (next to the one Kevin Smith did a shout out for on Twitter – to 1.5 million of his followers) and I received just over 1000 words from 10 different people. I’m in the process of editing and I plan on having something complete soon.

At any rate, this has spawned a new idea for me that a couple friends think has some legs. I want to put a whole bunch of these 1000 Word Pictures together, a hundred words at a time, from anyone and everyone who wants to contribute (and hopefully some well-known / famous people) and publish the collection, or display it as an art exhibit, and use it to raise money and/or awareness for a worthwhile cause.

So what do you think? Do you have 100 (or so) words rattling around in your head just itching to get out? Do you know Margaret Atwood or Rick Mercer, and can you get them to spare some words? (please say yes, that would be SO cool). If so then please, email me at thousandwordpicture@gmail.com or comment directly to this post as I present to you the 1000 Word Picture (100 at a Time) #2:



I’ll Take “Words” for a 1000 Alex…

Another Update!


The final results from the first photo are in and can be found here (at the new site).
Thanks to everyone for participating. I look forward to seeing where this takes me…


Update!

This was a huge success. So much so that I’m going to continue with this project and eventually put a collection together to raise money/awareness for charity. I have started the 1000 Word Picture (100 Words at a Time) #2 here. Once I get roughly 1000 words submitted for that photo I’ll post another, and so on…

More information to come on the project as a whole and the charities / foundations it will help support.

Thank you everyone!


Out with a concussion and unable to string together more than a half hour on the computer (and having deplorable handwriting) I’m in a bit of a creative holding pattern. Then I got an idea… maybe it’s not even a new idea, but it’s new to me, so I’m running with it.  It is said that a picture is worth 1000 words and I’d like to put that to the test.

Here’s the picture (thanks to Instagram for the iPhone – and yes, that is me):

Now, I need 10 people out there to each lend me 100 words of their own based on what they see. I need exactly 100 words in the form of complete sentences. As few or as many sentences as it takes, but totaling precisely 100 words when you’re done.

Post them as a comment here or email them to me or Twitter DM them to me or whatever, so long as it’s electronically transmitted to me somehow and there are exactly 100 of them I’ll take it. I’d prefer if they were written in isolation, free from the influence of other responses (I must try to maintain some semblance of scientific control over this experiment, you know)

I will then rearrange the complete sentences as I see fit (without taking single words here and there) to put together the 1000 words that this picture is worth. Read my blog, go through my Twitter feed, send me an email asking questions… all good ideas to start the words flowing. All I need is 100 words from 10 people, and I’ll do the rest.

I’ll post the completed work here and then credit each contributor with a link to their original words in a footnote. Please let me know if you are not OK with that and I’ll omit you from the list.

Go!