25.12.11

Merry Christmas, fam.

Recorded this track a couple of days ago with fantastic friends and brothers Brian, K, James, Mendel, and Petey.  Enjoy, and Merry Christmas.

http://soundcloud.com/hitchrisback/oh-come-all-ye-faithful-2

PC: Adge Lui, dim sum king

20.12.11

Things learned on December 20, 2011

People with big sibling complexes are some of the most frustrating to get along with.  They're also necessary to make things work.

14.12.11

Consider the lilies of the valley.

1.12.11

Lists Installment 2: Ten things I will miss about Ottawa

So as few of you know, and more of you don't know, I recently moved to Toronto to pursue new opportunities, leaving Ottawa, my home of the last 4.5 years, behind.  It's weird to think that I first made the trek out east for university in 2007, and in what seems like a flash, I'm done school.  But Ottawa was about so much more than school to me.  SO much more.

Lists Installment 2: Ten things I will miss about Ottawa (in no particular order)
1.The poetry scene.  Who would've thought that an innocent foray to see Shane Koyczan at the Mercury Lounge in 2008 would end up having such a significant impact on my life?  I literally owe 90 per cent of my life currently to poetry right now, and Ottawa's scene is the one that grew me. 

2. Shawarma.  West and East Coasts call it donair, but Ottawa calls it Shawarma and it is the most glorious 2am meal ever.  Favourite locations include Shawarma King on Bank St. and Castle Shawarma on Rideau.

3. Folk Night at the Laff.  Probably the best quality open mic I have ever frequented.  Hosted good friend Peter Ko one time for his first Ontario gig, and run by my buddy Brad Morden.

4. Eddy's Chip Wagon.  Bank and Sunnyside.  Best.  Poutine.  Ever.  Doesn't matter if Eddy never smiles, talks, or gives correct change - the man hustles for a living and makes unreal fries.  Respect.

5. Drop-in basketball at the MET.  Not the greatest run in Ottawa by a long shot, but the people are nice and their mission is respectable.  It's pleasant to be able to make it through a game without arguing over scores and fouls.

6. Reporting on massacres at the Raven's Nest.  Honestly, Carleton's men's basketball program is one of the most dominant dynasties ever in the history of dynasties, and that's including the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, and the Ming, Ting, and Wing.  Gonna miss getting box seats under the pretense of my 'reporting.'

7. Busking on Sparks Street with my gal, Meaghan Weasley-Lagrandeur.  People in suits are so generous with their change on Fridays.  And Mondays.  And Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, so long as it's decently warm out and I'm playing Maritime tunes with a redheaded fiddler.

8. Knowing Carleton's campus inside out and being able to play it like a... fiddle.  Seriously, after being a tour guide for two years and having a hustler's mentality in general, I know how to get in and out of every spot on that campus and where to go to get free swag, free meals, and free clothing.  And I don't feel a bit guilty, because they milked me of four years of tuition money anyway.  Rather, it's sad to leave such a hand-out centre.

9. Sessions at Mont Cascades with the homies Kyle, Kiersten, Mary, Dan, Kaite, and Ayla.  Great times shredding the mole hill that is Cascades.  Can't argue with $75 season's passes though, or their nachos.

10. Good, good people.

12.11.11

Things learned on November 12, 2011

I am not prepared for some of the things this life has to offer.  At all.

1.11.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 26

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 26 (in no particular order)
1. Lost in My Mind - The Head and the Heart
2. Red Rabbits - The Shins
3. Lift Off ft. Beyonce - Jay-Z and Kanye West
4. Unaware - Allen Stone
5. Simba - J. Cole
6. I Don't Wanna Care Right Now ft. MDMA - Lupe Fiasco
7. Hurts Like Heaven - Coldplay
8. Poison & Wine - The Civil Wars
9. Siyaishaya Ingoma (Sing Out For Love) - The Idan Raichel Project
10. No Good With Faces - Jack Johnson

Shouts to the lovely Mary Pinkoski for her contributions to this installment.  Not only is this woman a monster poet, she is also a connoisseur of fine music. 

That is all.

31.10.11

Links that save my life on a daily basis: Installment 5

http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/

Because every time I get caught up on The Office, they make another episode.  I mean, wtf is that.

29.10.11

Things learned on October 29, 2011

Doing something for somebody else for the sake of doing it is what rewards you.  Doing something for somebody else so they know you did it is about as unrewarding as not doing it.

Moral: if your intentions are pure, your pleasure will be pure.  If your intentions are tainted, your pleasure will be too.

23.10.11

Things learned on October 23, 2011

Once you get to 10, you want to get to 20.  Once you get to 20, you figure, "Meh, let's go for 30."  Once you reach 30, you decide to go for 50.  Once you reach 50, things are getting serious and you aim for 75.  Once you get to 75, things are just flowing and you knock down 25 more like they're layups.

Now imagine doing that twice a day, from five spots on the floor, and I think I've got an idea of what separates professional basketball players from the scrubs.

Moral of the story: anything you want to achieve in life comes slowly and painfully.  In the end, you'll figure out if "the juice was worth the squeeze."

22.10.11

Things I appreciate about you: Installment 5

I believe that while we are balanced, the universe has also done a pretty bang-up job of equipping us all with the right amount of shit to get through whatever our respective lives throw our way.  It is not fair for us to say that the street kid who was abused by his step-father and turned to drugs to escape has had a harder life than we have, nor is it fair for us to look down on the kid fed from a silver spoon who has never worked an honest day in his life.  We are all created to handle our own problems, whether they be big or small.  You were built to handle this.  I was built to handle that.  The universe has no favourites and can be quite the fickle bitch sometimes, but reality is, she is also fair.  On paper, it doesn't seem like the same battle, but in God's eyes, it is.  Not once ever have I felt sorry for you because of your situation; I know that's not what you want, and I know that's not what God intended.  Instead, by sharing your story with me you have inspired me to face the obstacles in my life with renewed vigor, and for that, I thank you.  I only hope I can be the same source of inspiration for you.

18.10.11

Links that save my life on a daily basis: Installment 4

http://in-passing.blogspot.com/

Another street style blog, this one recently started by my good friend Priscilla Ma.  She focuses on Montreal currently, but will soon be taking her game to Vancouver as well.  Show her love!

9.10.11

Links that save my life on a daily basis: Installment 3

http://www.thesartorialist.com/

Because sometimes, even though I subscribe to the 'homeless bum' look, it's nice to look at nice-looking people.

7.10.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 25

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 25 (in no particular order)
1. If I Had a Boat - James Vincent McMorrow
2. The Beast - Angus and Julia Stone
3. Lights Please - J. Cole
4. What Love Really Means - JJ Heller
5. Last to Speak - Allen Stone
7. Last Way Out Of Here - Paloalto
8. Words Remain - Josh Garrels
9. The Show - Lenka
10. Ooh Ooh - Daniel Wesley

Mixing it up, as per usual.  Happy Friday, friends.

23.9.11

Rapping like saran

I've been saying for a long time that I wanted to make the transition from spoken word to hip-hop.  Not like leaving spoken word behind, persay, as that's what I really love and that's what I'll always go back to, but trying my hand at rapping in an attempt to broaden my horizons (and because I really, really love hip-hop.)  This video is not my first attempt at rapping, but it's definitely the best shot one, through no action of my own.  All credit goes to Sofia and Roderick, who filmed the crap outta this thing.  Enjoy.

10.9.11

31.8.11

Gems from JDP

"When you're skeptical of the preacher before even hearing his message, it's time to find a new church."

"I know what I believe.  My problem is I don't know how to believe."

"You're obnoxious."

"I don't doubt God's divinity.  I doubt everybody else around me."

"I had the privilege of being womb-mates with Emily."

28.8.11

18.8.11

Things learned on August 18, 2011

Lacking self-awareness is one of the greatest personality traits anybody could have.  People have realized this and try and imitate it by consuming alcohol excessively.  Doesn't work.  Lack of inhibition is not the same thing.

1.8.11

Peter Dimes is a boss.  bank it.

19.7.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 24

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 24 (in no particular order)
1. The Return Of Simba – J. Cole
3. Take You On A Cruise – Interpol
4. School Spirit – Kanye West
5. Shot The Sheriff (Marley Tribute) – J. Period and K’naan
6. Almost Everything – Wakey!Wakey!
7. Red Flag – Billy Talent
8. Little Bird – The Weepies
9. Runaway – Hale
10. Diary - Wale

As always, let the music ride you out.

12.7.11

Lists Installment 1: Ten feelings I wish I could bottle and save for later

I’ve decided to introduce a new category to my blog posts.  Recently, I’ve been listening to Sarah Kay’s TED talk a lot – it’s quite nice for doing laundry, walking to work, or playing Tetris.  In it, Sarah talks about getting her students to make lists as a way to inspire ideas for new poetry.  I’ve considered it, and have decided it’s probably fairly brilliant. Thanks, Sarah.  Anyway, I will be introducing “Lists Installment x: Title of List here” to this here blog in an attempt to inspire new ways of thinking. 

As always, thanks for reading.  Be well.

---

There are only a select few things in my life that invoke a strong enough feeling within me that I wish I could have access to said feeling at any time, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual (usually all three.) It was difficult to compile this list, not because I couldn’t decide on which ones, but because I had trouble even thinking of ten feelings that I cherish enough to jot down.  Here’s what I came up with.

Lists Installment 1: Ten feelings I wish I could bottle and save for later (in no particular order)
1. Waking up naturally after a completely uninterrupted sleep and knowing I’m going to accomplish something that day.
2. Full speed on the 800m bell lap straightaway.  Preferably a couple steps behind the lead.
3. Truly getting lost in a jam session.
4. First and last run at the ski hill.  First run because I feel invincible, and last run because I know I’ve earned McDonald’s. 
5. Biting into watermelon.
6. Coming off stage after a poem and knowing I’ve won, even though the scores haven’t been announced yet.
7. Reading something for the first time after I’ve written it.
8. Stepping off the plane at YVR.
9. Leading a fast break with the ball in my hands.
10. Feeling alone close to nature, because I never truly feel alone.

11.7.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 23

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 23 (in no particular order)
1. Boogie Wonderland – Earth Wind & Fire
2. Youth Of The Nation – P.O.D.
3. Ordinary Day – Vanessa Carleton
4. Can’t Stop Now – Keane
5. Constantly Changing – Long Beach Short Bus
8. Like The Sun – I Mother Earth
10. Hang Me Up To Dry – Cold War Kids

On that Wale kick right now, dude is serious.

7.7.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 8

Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Larabanga, Mole, Tamale, Bolga, Bawku, Kumasi... one week, two interns, one motherload of equipment.

Pictures to come soon.  For now, be ok with the fact that I saw an elephant.

30.6.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 22


"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 22 (in no particular order)
2. May Angels Lead You In – Jimmy Eat World
3. Glory Bound – Wailin' Jennys
4. Un Canadien Errant – Luke Doucet
5. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes 
6. Cobbled From Dust – The Acorn
7. The Long Journey Home – Aaron Lee Martin
8. Upward Over The Mountain – Iron and Wine
9. Ocean And A Rock – Lisa Hannigan
10. Dors Dans Mon Sang – Karkwa

It’s been a very folky week, clearly.

29.6.11

The parable of the apple, the banana, and the grapefruit

Suppose you are an apple and want your friend, a banana, to be friends with your friend the grapefruit because said grapefruit is one of the gnarliest fruits around and you think banana would benefit greatly from a friendship with grapefruit.  You introduce the two and constantly hound banana about whether or not he has befriended grapefruit yet and when he says no, you get all whiny and go, "Awwww man, but grapefruit is the gnarliest fruit around!" and then banana just gets super weirded out by you and thinks that grapefruit is probably a freak.  And then grapefruit is sad because he really wanted to be friends with banana and was making good progress until you got your stupid apple self in the way and made a big mess of things.

The moral of the story is, you can never make two people become friends.  You can only introduce them and hope that genuine connection occurs, because when it comes down to it, friendship is between two people, and that is that.

I think I'm starting to get why Jesus is so constantly fed up with me.

28.6.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 7

So because Muftaw's show was taken off the air for a bit, Leah and I worked this past Tuesday to Friday and as such, ended up with a four-day weekend.  We decided to take full advantage by heading up north a few hours to Nkoranza, a small town that was of interest to us for two reasons.

The first was Operation Hand in Hand, a children's home for mentally handicapped kids who are abandoned by their parents.  The home also doubles as a guesthouse, and sits on a gorgeous plot of land lush with grass and trees and chickens and donkeys.  First thing Leah and I remarked: the calm.  It was definitely nice to get away from city noise, if only for a night.  We had an early night as the sun went down in the span of thirty minutes, but it paved the way for an early morning that was spent touring Operation Hand in Hand's grounds, seeing the children in the bead workshop, and getting some great interviews for a jhr piece.


The second reason for visiting Nkoranza was its proximity to the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary.  Now, let me make it clear that I love animals.  So much so that I even took a first-year bio course in third-year as my one elective (not the only reason... it also boosted my GPA at the cost of watching two review lecture videos.  Total bird course, no pun intended.)  There is little wildlife in and around the city centres, which is where we've spent most of our time while in Ghana.  However, out in the rural areas there is still an abundance of living and breathing critters, and the monkeys of Fiema, considered sacred to the locals, were no exception.  They were funny and not at all scared of us, which made for some sweet shots.


Remember to keep checking www.jhr.ca/blog for official updates on the stories we're covering!

peace fam

ATTENTION

Yo, so this is mostly just for my brother, but for those who aren't aware, I am keeping TWO blogs this summer. One is this one, which is for personal perspectives, thoughts, and the same refreshing honesty that keeps you kids coming back (riiiiiight?)

THE OTHER BLOG is my PROFESSIONAL blog (because I'm graduated and doing crazy things like WORKING now) and it's got my PROFESSIONAL perspectives, thoughts, and refreshing honesty (so long as it in no way incriminates jhr) on it. You can find that blog at:

http://www.jhr.ca/blog/author/ctse/

That is all.

15.6.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 21 (Ghanaian Edition!)

So this is a special edition of CMG, coming to you from Kumasi, Ghana. It features all of the music that blesses the radio waves here. Enjoy.

-----

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 21 (in no particular order)
1. Hold You - Gyptian
2. I Love My Life - Demarco

Seriously, that's all that plays on the radio. Ghana DJs are of the infamous two-track variety.

12.6.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 6

It's been raining like mad for the past few days, which is REALLY REALLY nice because it keeps things relatively cool. Plus, Ghanaian thunderstorms are wicked awesome. I'm officially a fan.

This past weekend there was a "prayer camp" (also known as a church retreat) that happened on the Presby Guesthouse grounds (our front yard.) There were about two or three hundred people gathered for the weekend in our humble little abode, and things got cramped. As in, I couldn't get out of my door because people had stacked their bags there. As in, we couldn't walk down the hallways without having to navigate our way past dozens of sleeping bodies on pull-out mattresses. It was somewhat of a gongshow, but definitely an experience. What wasn't an experience (or a good one, at least,) was the hours these prayer campers kept - try 5am to 1am. Yeah, if you're counting, that's 20 HOURS of straight singing, praying, exorcising, miracle-working, preaching, dancing, crying, and screaming. Also consider that Leah, Lin, and I enjoy sleeping at regular hours. So yes, it was an interesting weekend. When I went to pay rent today, the woman told me to come see the manager tomorrow about potentially getting some money back for the weekend (I think they felt pretty bad for throwing that situation onto us. Really. We got home from work to find 300 Ghanaians worshiping in our front yard.) So maybe tomorrow, we can get some money back. We'll see.

Anyway, that is that. Finally went to the club that we've been invited to go to every weekened since we got to Kumasi. That was yesterday. More on that later.

For now, here's a picture of some kids from Mufty's neighbourhood. They're gems.

bless up

7.6.11

Pain gives way to perfection

Some thoughts I wrote on the plane ride from Paris back to Accra.

-----

The sting of defeat is not an easy pill to swallow. This I know. It becomes even more painful when the defeat comes in an arena in which one has a history of victory. What can you say to the mirror in an attempt at self-consolation when you have just failed on the biggest stage of your life? Do you take pride in the fact that it was a rare loss and you are blessed to experience the success that you have? Or do you lament the fact that when push came to shove, you were unable to perform in the manner that has so convincingly pushed you to achieve new heights in the past?

There are those who tell me that I’m young, I’m ambitious, and I will have a crack at this again. I realize all three of these things. But this realization does little to dull the pain of knowledge. Knowledge that I will never be what he was, that I will never do what he did. But is that my goal? When I pause and reflect, I realize that I don’t know why I hold myself to the standards he has set. Is he God? No. Is he a god? Well, some might call him one in moments of awe-inspired hyperbole (at least in the realm of spoken word poetry,) but when all gold, be it in the form of lavish earrings fit for royalty or conversely, the simplest of wedding bands, is melted down, it becomes the same: a mass of yellow liquid. I am not a lavish earring; that much is certain. But he might be. And to compare myself to such grandeur does nothing for my soul, though it may humble my ego.

Ultimately, however, I think I’ve come to understand this – gold is gold. All that glitters is not gold. God knows that much glitters in this world, hoping to pass itself off as gold. But the true gold is tricky. It is boastful at times, lavish and grandiose and extravagant almost to a fault, though one can never fault it because, well, gold is lavish and grandiose and extravagant. But it can also be painfully shy sometimes, subtle and unassuming to the point where those around can barely recognize its value before it decides to shine. Sometimes, this gold wishes to be more extravagant. “I wish to be more extravagant,” it thinks, observing lavish gold from afar. “I want people to see me as they see lavish gold, as something worthy of praise and honour.” Meanwhile, simple gold continues to toil on in relative obscurity, always thinking to itself that lavish gold holds a superior position and hoping it could attain the same status, but not realizing that there are just as many people who appreciate a simple gold band all the same, and perhaps even prefer it to extravagant gold earrings.

Perhaps this analogy only makes sense in my head. Actually, I’m SURE it only makes sense in my head. Sorry, my head can be an awfully convoluted place sometimes. What I’m trying to say is this – I’ve spent so long in an imaginary shadow cast by others who do what I do and do it well, that I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way I can measure up is to follow suit. To some measure, I’ve succeeded. There aren’t many people who have achieved what I have in the arena in which we choose to compete; in fact, there is only one. He whose footsteps cast gigantic waves of doubt across my mind every time I step up to the mic and see potential greatness, but also potential wasted. So often I’ll beat myself up over missed lines or jumbled rhythms, even as I pocket the prize money and head home. To what standard of perfection do I hold myself, that even in victory, I am defeated? The answer, in truth, is that I don’t desire to be perfect. I just want to be known as the greatest. Call it the most contrived ego trip known to mankind, but I believe every man, or at least the everyman, considers greatness as an attainable goal at some point in their life. It’s the disillusioned ones like I who never give up on the dream, if only to prove something to themselves. But what have I to prove? When it comes down to it, I know I am a winner. I know that I win. I know this. And yet, it is not enough. I want to be in a position where my name becomes synonymous with success, and considering the occurrences of the past few days – I’ve royally screwed it up. Missed my proverbial boat, so to speak. See, success is defined not by achievement, but by the totality of said achievement. Derrick Rose and Steve Nash can each score 25 points any given night. The difference is that it takes Rose 23 shots to get there and Nash, maybe 15. The totality of the latter’s achievement rings so much clearer than the former’s, because it is in its totality that the standard of perfection becomes apparent. Even if I one day return to achieve what I could not yesterday, it doesn’t change the fact that at one point, I could not achieve it. And that is a shadow that will cast a heavy pall on my shoulders, whenever I choose to carry some measure of responsibility on them. Responsibility for our scene, for what we do, and for the pride of those who do it.

I have returned a failure. Grant me this one, however, because I promise it will not happen again.

6.6.11

Defeat

For all those people who have ever told you to be proud of yourself because you did awesome and deserved the victory and are a winner in their hearts - tell them to shut up. Second is just first in a long line of people who lost.

Perhaps the good that comes of this is that I'm now hungrier than I was before. The chip on my shoulder has suddenly become a tree (or a potato, depending on which context of chip on the shoulder you are more partial to.)

Let's get to work.

3.6.11

Poetry Slam World Cup

This ish is too dope. #wordappp

28.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 5

So things have cooled down significantly here in Kumasi. Either that, or I'm slowly starting to get used to the sweltering heat that is a reality of living in a country along the equator. I can say for certain that experiencing equatorial heat in Ecuador was a great precursor to the temperatures of rainy season Ghana.

Leah and I work at Kapital Radio, the "heart of music" in Kumasi, Ghana, as observing journalists (read: be as furniture, and twice as silent,) and co-producers of "Know Your Rights", Ghana's only human rights radio show. It's pretty wicked. Our coworkers are awesome - very friendly, very curious about Canada and Canadian journalism, and they seem to love teaching us nonsensical words in Twi and watching us attempt pronunciation. The three great loves among them seem to be, in no particular order, futball (Barca, Man U, and Chelsea are the favourites here, as well as the national team, the Black Stars, and Asante Kotoko, the local squad in Ghana's premier league,) cell-phones (I've received plenty of comments about my "big man" phone, which is my brother's old blackberry, which I have NO idea how to use,) and Christianity. Already within the span of two weeks, we've had multiple indepth conversations with our colleagues about religion, with poor Leah getting blasted for professing to be an agnostic, something which many Ghanaians just can't seem to understand. The concept of not believing in anything is foreign to them. I get off easy because I "confess" to being a Christian (sorry) though I don't have half the zeal (sometimes over the top, always well-intentioned) of Ghanaian Christians.

Days are long at Kapital, where we start at 8am and usually leave the office around 6:30pm... (do the math, that equals a 10.5 hour work day. yeah.) We walk there from the Presby Guesthouse (our humble abode for the rest of the summer,) which is about 30 minutes each way with grueling inclines (I can finally say that I have to walk uphill both ways to get to work!), sketchy sidewalks that lead into oblivion, and hordes of marauding mosquitoes that love nothing more than to feast on obruni blood. Leah's getting it worse than I am, however... guess they know she's half white, and is therefore half delicacy. By the time we get to work, we've downed our Nalgenes, are soaked to the bone with sweat, and usually need to sit for about an hour before we stop sweating. it's a lovely time.

Anyhow, I'll cut it off for now as this is getting lengthy. Thanks for continuing to keep up with my adventures, and make sure to check out my official work blog posts at www.jhr.ca/blog, where I'll be posting my "professional blogs" or something like that. If ever you find them too business-like (which they probably will be, as this IS a job that I'm doing,) then check back here for all the nitty-gritty personal perspectives on what I am loving and loathing about my time here. Here's something juicy: I HATE LEAH (just kidding.)

ok peace

22.5.11

Happy belated Mother's Day.



Creds to Petey Ko, Mendel Uy, Adge Lui, and yours truly. Peace y'all.

19.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 4


This is an open sewer. They line the roadsides of every town and city in Ghana. They collect rainwater, piss, garbage, and animal and human feces. Guess who stepped in one today.

FML

17.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 3

Hello from Kumasi!

So after four days of legit pre-placement training in the capital city of Accra, we hopped on a bus to Kumasi. In this case, 'we' is Leah, Lin, and I, as Raquel and Alyssa were off to Takoradi by way of tro-tro* HARHAR. The five hour ride north to Kumasi was rough; I shudder to think what it might have been like in a tro-tro.

*a tro-tro is like a mini-bus... and the driver pulls over at random while the mate screams out the destination and people scramble to the nearest tro-tro heading to their destination and you get real close with your tro-tro buddies because you're both sweating onto each other and making a right mess and the whole deal costs less than it does to think about taking a bus back in Canada.

Anyway, once within Kumasi city limits, the bus driver kicked us off in the middle of a chaotic downtown street with literally hundreds of people milling around, hawking wares and yelling Tvi and there is poor little us, sweating like eskimos in a sauna, hauling around too much luggage worth of camera equipment and lightweight clothing, and very obviously with no idea of what to do.

This is when the cabbies pounced.

First, they tried to put our bags in one cab and us in the other. I was like, 'mahfka, no.' Then they tried to convince us we needed to pay for their bag-hauling services, and I was like, 'mahfka, no.' Then they tried to hustle us for 10 cedis and I was like, 'mahfka, no!' Anyway, we finally reached Kapital Radio, where we met the infamous Mufty** (made infamous by Laura and Ashley's stories.)

**Mufty will be our mentor at Kapital for the next 2.5 months. We'll be producing his show "Know Your Rights" every Saturday evening, the only show exclusively dedicated to human rights in all of Ghana. Gonna be dope.

He shook our hands, showed us around, and then brought us to the Presby Guesthouse, our supposed home for the next 2.5 months. Problem is, they want to charge 20 cedis a night per person, which would come out to 600 cedis monthly, which would come out to $450 for rent, which is what I pay in Ottawa for a much bigger, much less hot place, so I was like, 'mahfka, no!' Anyways, we're staying there tonight while Mufty tries to find us something better. Hopefully he is successful.

That's all, really. Some quick observations about Kumasi:
1. Less hectic than Accra.
2. Less noisy than Accra.
3. Less dirty than Accra.
4. Less white people (obroonies, or "foreigners") than Accra.
5. Hotter than Accra (fml.)

We had jollof rice for supper. As we have for the past four days. What I wouldn't do for a poutine right now...

14.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 2

Ok, so we've been in Accra for about a day after almost a full day of travel yesterday... if anyone ever tells you the Toronto to Brussels to Lome to Accra flight is nice and relaxing, they are bare-faced liars and should be shot.

On that note, I would love someone to shoot me with a watergun right now because I am about two seconds away from dying of heat exhaustion. Seriously, if anyone ever tells you that Ghana in May is not hot, they are bare-faced liars and should be shot.

On that note, I would muchly enjoy if somebody shot my dumb ass for losing my brand new BPA-free Nalgene bottle LESS THAN 24 HOURS after landing in Ghana, and with a full load of what the locals call "peer wata" (loosely translated to pure water,) in it too! Left it in a cab after getting too excited bargaining for a good price. Now I'm stuck with my old, trusty Nalgene that has been with me for years and is very much NOT BPA-free. New health concern for this summer: cancer.

I've got 11 minutes left on my time at this internet cafe in Osu neighbourhood, Accra. I think I will promo this on facebook, check my email, see how the Bulls are doing, and look up some fancy Ghanaian phrases to try out at dinner tonight.

Next update will most likely come from Kumasi, unless I manage to get here tomorrow. Be blessed, y'all.

11.5.11

This is excellent. Courtesy of http://www.tickshady.com

-----
"A few rules.

1.Never stop thinking. This is important. If someone ever says to you ‘You need to stop thinking so much,’ call them ignorant in your head and keep thinking deeper. It is this mentality that breeds stupidity and sheeple. Your mind is the most important tool you have, if you stop using it, it will atrophy. Question everything.

2. Stare into space blankly and don’t mentally punish yourself for doing it, even if it is for that split second. If you have a problem with staring blankly, think of it as daydreaming.

3. Root Beer sucks after having spicy food.

4. Everything is going to be just fine. If you worry about acne, you’re going to get a fucking pimple.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk about anything. You shouldn’t be afraid of reality.

6. Everyone is a hypocrite.

7. You are all original. Every life experience is case sensitive and unique. Every time you wake up or go to the bathroom or quote someone else, you are becoming more you than anyone has ever been.

8. Do pointless things. Don’t actively restrain or hide yourself from the redundant.

9. Stop rushing. Shut up and embrace the sound of silence.

10. Religion shouldn’t be taught, it should be found. No one should tell you what to believe except you. And while were on the subject…

11. Don’t be restrained by one religion. People change every moment of everyday. Minds grow and evolve. Religion has no law so feel free to mix and match. Make your own.

12. Going to the bathroom is not a right nor a privilege. it’s an act of nature.

13. Talking to yourself is healthy. Is there anyone that you have more in common with?

14. There is no such thing as time. The sun never sets or rises. Days and years don’t exist. There is only your life. Earlier today you were born and death is predicted later in the evening.

15. We will always be in a transitional phase. Look outside and know that everything will be replaced at some point. This existence is temporary.

16. Its not half empty or half full. Its half a glass.

17. Every now and then take something that you see everyday and try to see it in a different light. Renew its existence.

18. Be happy, but don’t force it.

19. You will always succeed in trying.

20. We are all crazy. Every person you read about in the history books had some kind of ‘disorder’, they just knew how to use it.

21. We are all about as similar as we are different.

22. Ideas are just as valuable as people. Why do you think we keep making people?

87. Numbers don’t have to go in order.

24. Words will always be just words. Love is just another four letter word, only the feeling is real.

25. Ask a child for advice. They may not know much, but they know what is important.

26. Prove you’re alive. Do anything from dancing in the supermarket to screaming ‘Fuck’ during a moment of silence. Remind the world you are still here.

27. Don’t take anything, even this, too seriously."

10.5.11

Toronto (soon to be Ghana) Updates: Episode 1

Hello fam, so the long-awaited countdown to departure for Ghana is almost down to the ng! (that's nitty-gritty, for all you abbreviation-illiterate types.) I'm currently in Toronto for four days of pre-departure training at the jhr head office before shipping out (flying, actually,) on Thursday.

Expect updates to be sparse for the next few weeks as I acclimatize myself to Ghana, the weather, my new job, the laundry-list of assignments that CIDA has bestowed upon me, and intermittent electricity. However, once I've settled in, expect frequent updates as apparently there is little else to do past 9pm other than read by headlamp or write things on your laptop. So yes, this summer will be THE summer that Chris Tse's blog makes a comeback of Chicago Blackhawks proportions (that is, return from the dead in a dramatic, convincing fashion that delights fans and shocks haters, only to tragically fall short of the collective goal in a hard-fought but ultimately futile battle against a tougher, more talented opponent. In the Blackhawks case, the Canucks. In my case, my knack forgoing old projects for new, sexier ones. Believe me, the blog won't be so enticing for me to write when it's the middle of June in Ghana, it's a balmy 35 degree evening and the last thing I want to do is transcribe my adventures onto paper [or screen, if you will.])

So, to recap:
- the next few weeks will hopefully receive an update every few days;
- the following few weeks will most likely receive a flurry of multiple daily updates;
- the following few weeks will most likely see a decline in activity to the point of nothingness;
- things will pick back up near the end of the internship when I realize I'm coming home and will be, in my excitement, inspired to update you all on the level of my excitement.

Anyways, here is where I'm staying at the moment.

http://theplanettraveler.com/

It's quite lovely.

I'm going out for cheap pitchers at the pub down the street. Yeah, that one. That ONE pub on College Street in DOWNTOWN TORONTO. See you there, maybe?

4.5.11

Watch this.

Even if you are not a basketball fan, watch this. His speech starts at 2:30. I guarantee, it will be worth your while.

2.5.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 20 (WITH YOUTUBE LINKS YO!)

So I've decided to stop teasing you kids with my recommendations of dope muzak and actually link you to it so you can experience the excellence of my musical taste for yourselves. Except in the case where the tunes I'm down with are too indie for youtube, cause I'm so hipster like that. HA. You're welcome.

-----

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 20 (in no particular order)
1. Brand New Spaces - Michael Bernard Fitzgerald
2. Fly Away - D-Pryde ft. Erika David
3. When People Go - Craig Cardiff
4. Mama Hold My Hand - Aloe Blacc (as recommended by Mr. Petey Ko)
5. Indiana - The Strumbellas
6. Hey Little Sister - The Postelles
7. Future of Music - Kixxie Siete ft. Robby
8. A Calming Wind - Whitebrow
9. Weighty Ghost - Wintersleep
10. Brutal Hearts - Bedouin Soundclash ft. Coeur de Pirate
11. We Don't Eat - James Vincent McMorrow

Be gold, be blessed, be musical. Peace y'all.

1.5.11

Things learned on May 1, 2011

The world will stop to watch two things:

1. weddings.
2. death.

28.4.11

Things learned on April 28, 2011

I have possibly the most legit friends and family in the world.

How I managed to meet my fundraising goals for Ghana in two weeks while not tapping into any of my Ecuador donors, I will NEVER know.

I am blessed.

24.4.11

Something you should do today.

go here.
http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?SID=2956715&Lang=en-CA

and donate $10, $20, $200...

no pressure, but I'm pretty desperate.

-----
WHY I NEED MONEY:

I'm heading to Ghana this summer for a three-month internship. I'm gonna be interning for Journalists for Human Rights and CIDA. I will be working at Kapital Radio in Kumasi, Ghana, as a human rights reporter. This is a sweet opportunity.

That being said, I'm completely screwed on the fundraising portion right now... need to somehow raise $2910 in the next seven days, or I can't go.

While I've got enough saved up to cover some of the required funds, I can't do it on my own. That's why I'm asking for support. No pressure whatsoever. Really, anything is appreciated.

If this sounds like something you'd like to help with, click the link above and sponsor me on my trip to Ghana! Tax receipts are automatically given for donations of $20 or over.

Thanks for considering, even. I really appreciate it.

Bless,
-Chris

18.4.11

Things learned on April 18, 2011

People who make good conversation are good walking partners. Conversely, people who do not make good conversation are not good walking partners.

14.4.11

Hi friends. Just wanted to let you know that I am done university. Ok, that's all.

12.4.11

Another joke

Two vampires walk into a bar. Bartender asks, "What ya having?"

First vampire says, "I'll have a cup of blood." Second vampire says, "Gimme a cup of plasma."

Bartender says, "Ok, so one blood and one blood light, coming right up."

Joke

A baby seal walks into a bar. Bartender asks, "What ya having?"

Baby seal says, "Gimme anything but a Canadian Club."