Sunday, August 29, 2004



I've played slo-pitch since I was 18. I started with a team out of Copps Coliseum (I think it might have been a 3-pitch team) and then, when I started at Dofasco, I was picked up to play on a men's team. That team's pitcher hooked me up with a bunch that he played mixed ball with. Many of us on that mixed team stayed together for about 12 years, switching to men's ball in 1996. The last two years, I played on a men's team that a good friend of mine, Shawn McVittie, played on. We won the league championship both years.

Why am I telling you all of this?

I can now say that, after winning a championship on a team where I had no real "friends" (Shawn suddenly passed away in the winter of 2002), I enjoyed what may have been my best year of baseball in about 10 years. An old, old friend of mine, Mike Johnny, and I talked about me playing on his team this year. When the team's captain, Grant Voisin, asked me to hook up with them, I never gave it a second thought. I have reconnected with a lot of people from my youth on this team (Grant and Rob Divinski, friends of my brother's from the old neighborhood. Pete Stapleford and Ed Reid, with whom I was in Mike's wedding party. Chris Culver and Kevin Rizun, who I competed against in hockey and baseball pools). Plus I get the opportunity to hang out with Matt Collins, Philpott's youth pastor and a heck of an outfielder.

I haven't felt like I "belonged" on a team in a number of years. This year was great from the word go. I didn't hit that well, and the team finished 5th in a 6-team league, but every game was enjoyable and, with only a couple of exceptions, competitive to the end. We even played a 0-0 tie, which is a true rarity in slo-pitch.

Next year, I hope to talk my brother Mark into coming out to play, which would be awesome. Now if only Mike would move home, we could put all the Benallick boys on the field together, which hasn't happened since we last played in a tournament with our extended family. That's something else I hope to do next year, too.

Anyhow, we had a full day of playoff action yesterday, playing 3 games before bowing out. I'm very sore today (left knee, right foot, right elbow) and will probably need medical treatment over the winter, but it was worth every ache and pain to have such an awesome summer of ball. Looking forward to next year, Shooters!!!!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2004



Yeah, like there ain't enough of these around:

First, the only game that makes a challenge of tossing paper balls into a wastebasket while fans blow behind you:


Next a putting simulation I picked up a few months ago from Jason's blog:


By the way, the soundtrack to my blogging today? "The Pleasure and the Pain" by Montreal's own The Box (released in 1990). How many of you remember The Box?


Hey all you video game freaks

Coming soon to a theater near you:


The Whole Censorship Thing

Well, The Graduate and I wound up focusing our discussion more on the Texas Rangers than anything else yesterday, and the censorship discussion didn't come up again. However, I received a thoughtful response from Jason that helped me find my way a little better.

I suppose, in the end, I really don't condone censorship. I found myself thinking that, if someone demanded that Blogger yank my privileges for something I said, I would be pretty upset. Everyone is entitled to their point of view and, whether I agree with it or not, if they are able to gain a platform to publicly shout it out, then I guess more power to them.


I find myself more and more saddened by the fact that the only way to get such a broad platform is to say and do things that shock and, quite often, come at the expense of others. I still think (and NOBODY will move me off this) that there is an element of society that listen to the commentary of extremists and take it literally. This leads them to think that mistreating others for their benefit is acceptable behaviour. This is the type of "bullying" parents don't want their children to do on the playground, yet we shrug our shoulders when it is displayed in the public forum. Where do parents think kids pick it up? We have, in the last 20 years, allowed black and white to become gray. The lines are so blurred now it is almost impossible for parents to convey a consistent message throughout their child's upbringing. Heck, the PARENTS often don't consistently draw the lines.

I suppose my earlier post was more my way of mourning society's ever-increasing lack of moral boundaries and willingness to more frequently seek out the easiest targets just to get someone to listen to us or to laugh. It's so much easier just to pick on someone weaker in order to get attention than it is to work at building relationships, helping others and showing love and respect for our fellow man (funny, that last bit seems to be a model for Jesus' ministry).

I know for sure that I'll be paying a lot of attention to my kids' behaviour, as well as my own. I hope anyone who reads this, if they aren't already doing the same, will join in.

God bless


Friday, August 20, 2004


A New Blog To Check Out

Welcome my smarter, better-looking, wiser, younger brother to the world of Blogging. Prairie Ponderings is where you can find the musings of my brother, Mike, who lives out in the desolate flatlands known as Saskatchewan (or Saskatchebush, as I like to call it). Make sure you add him to your BlogRolls, you'll be glad you did.

I should catch up with Austin tonight on the train, where we will likely continue our censorship/government intervention debate. One of us will update.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Not feeling too hot today....

Picked up a cold somewhere. Absolutely no idea where I got it. Neo Citran is a funny product. It makes me feel better, but it really messes with my sleeping. Knocked me silly and I was out about 10 minutes after finishing it, but then was in a kinda awake-asleep state from midnight until my alarm went off at 4:10. So I'm feeling a little iffy today. I have a sneaking suspicion coffee is going to be my best friend today.

Vacation in three weeks. Taking the second week of September off to celebrate birthday number 37 on the 12th and Anniversary number 5 on the 18th. We're going to take Aidan to a big aquarium in Niagara Falls, NY. He is just fascinated by fish.

Of course, that all assumes we don't have a baby by then. Those in readerville not familiar with the story, Aidan was born 13 weeks premature (27 weeks gestation age). He was 2 lbs., 9 oz. and basically fit in my hand. This Saturday, Christine will be 27 weeks along with baby number 2, so we're watching VERY closely for any signs of trouble. First time we see anything, off to the hospital. If they are able to stop things, it's a safe bet she'll be kept in the hospital until the baby's born, because keeping my beautiful, hard-working wife on bedrest will likely require the use of 5-point restraints and an armed guard.

So, if you have a chance, send up a prayer for us because, while we always need God's hand on us, there are times where we are extra dependent. These next few months are one of those times for Christine, Aidan and I.

Gotta go. Q107 is playing Brown-Eyed Girl, which tends to cause me violent fits. Believe me, if I had a choice between listening to Van Morrison or having a frontal lobotomy with a screwdriver, I choose the screwdriver every time.

Monday, August 16, 2004


Time to defend my position

So, I had a great discussion with my buddy Austin on Friday about censorship where I had to thoughtfully defend my position on supporting the yanking of Quebec radio station CHOI's license by the CRTC. There are numerous articles on this issue and a lot of upset people.

Once upon a time, I used to be firmly in the court of opinion that said "If you don't like it, change the channel". L. Brent Bozell, the president of the Parents' Televeision Commission (PTC), was among those at the forefront of demanding greater controls over entertainment back in the mid-90's, when the PTC began issuing a 10-best/10-worst list of TV shows. When Bozell began this, I was saying to myself "Can't you just watch what you like and leave the rest of us alone?".

Now, I think a little bit differently.

Let me tell you, God has done some real work in my heart since the birth of my son. I have always liked movies and TV shows that are a little bit "edgy". I freely admit to enjoying things like pro wrestling, darker films (especially cop thrillers) and darker TV shows (see my earlier post. However, I don't see the humour in things like targeting children, the disabled and others who cannot defend themselves. This is where my line is drawn, and it has especially crystallized since my son was born.

I have vented at numerous times about how I am beyond disgusted with the poor job our justice system does of protecting our children. I APPLAUD the efforts of the CRTC to pull CHOI's license, based on a couple of things I read. There is an article (from Canoe) regarding CHOI radio that states:

Most of the complaints related to comments made on the station's weekday morning show suggesting that psychiatric patients should be gassed and that most African students at Laval University were the children of cannibals.

I am tired of grown adults preying on those who cannot defend themselves, whether for humourous (or far darker) purposes. To allow people a public platform to present such views is, in my mind, reprehensible.

I recently received a book in the mail from Promise Keepers Canada called "Breaking the Da Vinci Code". The letter enclosed with it stated that Dan Brown's novel "The DaVinci Code" constituted a powerful threat to Christianity and PK supporters must be ready to defend the Gospels against the threat presented by this book.

Um, it's FICTION!!!!!!!!

PK, and other Christian organizations, I think, should be using their clout to get behind protecting those who cannot fight for themselves. We need to help the sick, the needy, the disenfranchised, the children of this world. That is what I believe Jesus' ministry was all about. We should be using our energies to speak out against people like CHOI's DJ's, who make such shameless commentary on the radio. We should be standing up for the two boys in Blackstock, who were tortured by their "parents" for years. We should be making a greater effort to make our neighborhoods safe for our kids. We should be out there feeding the hungry, helping those who CANNOT HELP THEMSELVES. If CHOI won't suspend/fire the DJ's who made the comments, yank their license. That's what the law is there for.

I'm kinda all over the place here, but this whole issue has stirred up a real passion for change within me. God is leading me somewhere here, but I'm not sure where. Until I find out, expect more stream-of-consciousness stuff to flow.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Why I watch too much TV.

I have a really quirky personality when it comes to TV and movies. I have discovered this in particular over the last year, as I got deeper and deeper into CSI Vegas and CSI Miami.

I have always liked movies and TV shows that make me a little uncomfortable. Not in the sense of being over-the-top graphic, but in the sense that they push me out of my emotional comfort zone. I have to be able to relate to the characters in order for me to really get anything out of my viewing. If I cannot relate to the characters, I remain detached and make no commitment. If I get attached to the characters, I will loyally watch and empathize. It also allows me to accept some rather "extreme" storylines. Cases in point:

Homicide: Life on the Street

I discovered this show when it was being aired late night on Bravo. It's a tough show to get into, but once I connected with the characters (Andre Braugher's awesome Frank Pembleton, Yaphet Kotto's Lieutenant Giardello, Melissa Leo's Kay Howard, etc.), I was hooked. Some of the characters annoyed me, especially Kyle Secor's Tim Bayliss and, by the final two seasons, when Bayliss became the central character, I had completely lost interest.


The originator of extreme television, I have always dug this show. It is the show that brought out my favourite character of all time - David Caruso as Detective John Kelly. When Caruso left, I stepped out of the show for a while, but really got drawn back in by the relationships between Dennis Franz' Andy Sipowicz, Jimmy Smits' Bobby Simone and Kim Delaney's Diane Russell. Once Smits and Delaney left, I lost complete interest, especially since I actively hated Ricky Schroeder's character. I got back into it a little bit last year, but I didn't commit fully and, when ABC began shuffling episodes, I didn't make the effort to keep up. Once again, I was able to tolerate the more extreme behaviours because of the human face Smits, Franz, Caruso and Delaney put on things.


This one's kind of a no-brainer, but I really was a HUGE M*A*S*H fan growing up. I always liked BJ better than Hawkeye. The relationships between the characters was always strong and no show has made me laugh out loud more in my memory. However, the show is dated today and I can no longer stomach the show BJPM (B.J. post-mustache). Seasons 1-6 and the final episode covers my interest in the show.

Today, I love 24 because I like the intensity. I also find that, year over year, I care more about Jack Bauer. CSI, I like for the science, but I would have carried on just fine if Jorja Fox didn't come back. I do like all of the other characters, though, and hope that they continue to build their relationships (but not romantically).

I used to LOVE The West Wing, but they completely lost their focus 3/4 of the way through Season 3 (after Bartlet was re-elected) and I cannot get back into it, try as I might. This may be a case of Sorkinitis, as he seems to run out of gas after a few seasons. Witness Sports Night, a great ensemble comedy that ran out of steam noticeably toward the end of Season 2. I think Sorkin burns out quickly.

On a similar note, I have now come to the conclusion that John Wells is good for TV working in the background. When he moves to the forefront, his shows (West Wing, ER, Third Watch) get far too inconsistent in developing characters, sacrificing long-term development for week-to-week crises, effectively killing my interest. There is an early ER episode involving a preemie baby that was a stark reminder of the fear I personally felt when my son was born. Last year, they did two episodes in a neonatal ICU that felt like they were exploiting the situation, rather than building a character-driven episode showing just how emotionally powerful and draining time in the NICU can be for parents and nurses alike.

Why this long-winded rant? I borrowed Boomtown from a friend. I never watched the show in it's regular run on NBC a few years ago. Boy do I regret that decision now. If you get a chance, borrow or rent this show. In 8 episodes, I became so connected to the characters that I have found myself on the verge of tears in a couple of episodes and with my heart in my throat in others. Donnie Wahlberg (former New Kid on the Block) and Mykelti Williamson's detectives are the heart of the show, and Gary Basaraba's cop is the soul and I absolutely dig this show. I am going to be looking for a used copy of this bad boy for my personal collection.

Just about all of the shows I listed are available on DVD and you should try to find it. Homicide's first 5 seasons, MASH's first 6 seasons, CSI Vegas' first 3 seasons, CSI Miami's premiere season and seasons 1 and 2 of 24, NYPD Blue and the West Wing are out. CSI Season 4 is out in October, West Wing Season 3 in November (and, supposedly, Season 2 of CSI Miami) and 24 Season 3 is due in December/January. TV shows on DVD give you the opportunity to watch shows in the way they were intended, in proper order (and without commercials).

Well, that's enough. Later.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Miss me?

I've been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks. I took a wonderful 5-day long weekend last week, which included a family visit to African Lion Safari. It was my first visit there since, I think, grade school 25 years ago. It was pretty cool. Aidan really liked seeing the monkeys, giraffes and tigers. However, he LOVED the wading pool. Getting pricey though. We had a 2-for-1 adult admission coupon (thank you, Entertainment book). Despite that, admission, three tour bus tickets, a bag of popcorn, a door hanger for Aidan and one double-scoop ice cream cone came to $80. Still a much better deal than Wonderland, but I think I'd rather visit the Metro Toronto Zoo.

Another fun part of the long weekend involved helping my sister move. It was a long day, but we learned that washing machines can be caught and that sofa beds are the toughest pieces of furniture ever invented.

The week before I had some fun playing slo-pitch. For the first time in the last 10 years, I am playing with guys who can actually cover a lot of ground. I learned this the hard way.

A fly ball was hit into left field. I was running hard to catch up to it when, all of a sudden, I hit a wall and landed on the ground. Turns out said wall was the shortstop's chest. I wound upo with a really ugly bruise on my left shoulder. Surprisingly, the shortstop took the worst of it, as he has a bone bruise on his lower ribs. I learned quickly to always call the ball, which I did every time one was hit near me this past Tuesday.

I've got lots of other things to cover, including some more thinking I've done on how I can protect children, the intrigue on the set of CSI as well as more DVD-related stuff. Right now, though, gotta go.