From the category archives:

Creative licence

Once upon a time, there was a brother and sister. They was a gap of five years and one gender between them, and when he was on the cusp of becoming a teen, she decided to move across the province. For most of their lives until adulthood, their relationship tottered between tolerance and affection, but without any deep appreciation of each other.

As they stumbled into adulthood, however, they found they had more in common than not. They shared, among other things, a love of technology, an inability to resist potato chips, a desire to overcome a rather awkward childhood social life, and the ability to find new and spectacular ways to illustrate Murphy’s Law.

They shared one other thing, too: a subversive and irreverent sense of humour, nurtured by years of Catholic school and Monty Python. In fact, should the therapists (both past and future) of the brother and sister ever compare session notes, they would find that both brother and sister relied almost entirely on humour as a coping mechanism for the various challenges life would throw their way.

One fine day, while searching for an appropriate First Communion gift for her nephew, the sister discovered a talking Jesus action figure in a pile of marked down toys in a rather disheveled and neglected corner of a Winners store. The sister was delighted with this perfectly subversive gift, and was even more delighted to discover, when the gift was unwrapped, that Jesus actually talked, spouting random bible verses when you press a button on his back.

So enamoured with each others’ subversive sense of humour were the brother and sister that they went to great lengths to ensure the Jesus doll traveled back and forth between them, making mysterious appearances in gift boxes, on shelves, and under pillows on visits through the years. Upon her recent return from vacation, the sister was unsurprised to find Jesus resting calmly on the mantle, holding leftover palms from last Palm Sunday no less.

It just so happened that the brother is celebrating his 40th birthday this year. The sister very much wanted to be able to attend the party for her brother, but the endless commitments of early autumn made making the trek across the province impossible. The sister puzzled and puzzled on ways she might enlist the assistance of the Jesus doll to celebrate her brother’s milestone birthday. Should he be baked into a cake? Delivered by singing telegram? And then, because the sister never really stops thinking about photography for more than a few minutes at a time, she got an idea. An awful idea. The sister got a wonderful, awful idea!

And so the sister went through old photo albums and online files, culling some of her favourite photographs of her brother. She pulled them all into Photoshop and set to work, and she cackled with glee at each new creation she made. The sister loved every minute of a project that went from simple to an epic time sink, because it felt like time spent with her brother. As minutes became hours and hours became days, she laughed and laughed and laughed. And this is what she made:

40 years of Sean! from Mothership Photography on Vimeo.

But wait! There’s more!

Making the slideshow and her own mad Photoshop skillz greatly entertained the sister, and she knew her brother would love it. But as she loaded the video online, she looked up at the mantle and realized that Jesus was still sitting there, as he had been since her brother’s last visit. This would simply not do. So she called in a favour or two, and the very next day she found herself cackling anew as she stood in line at the post office to buy a mailer with the Jesus doll carefully packed in a Giant Tiger plastic bag, because as she stood in line in that oh so quiet post office, she accidentally pushed the button on Jesus’s back and he very loudly began proclaiming the gospel of John from inside that plastic Giant Tiger bag. And by the time she got to the counter she could barely get her giggles under control because she was imagining the poor postal clerk who would deliver the carefully wrapped but trigger sensitive Jesus doll to the mutual friend of the sister and her brother, picturing that poor postal clerk’s reaction as the Voice of God spoke from the back of his or her truck.

That mutual friend found Jesus in the mailbox, and with his own sense of humour and timing and drama, helped to ensure Jesus made an appropriate debut at the party after all.

And it was good. And it was funny. And she loved her brother very, very much.

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One day, Willie the cat found himself trapped between the curtain and the window when Katie, the large and smelly but largely benign dog, dropped down for a rest.

Dog meets cat, Act 1

For a while, Willie pondered various plans for his escape. Finally, he had an idea! “Pssst, dog… c’mere, I have a secret!”

Dog meets cat, Act 2

Katie, benign and benevolent creature though she was, once lived with two evil cats, and was naturally suspicious of Willie’s intentions.

Dog meets cat, Act 3

“Dog! Hey, dog! I may be small, but I’m tough, and I’m gonna get you, dog. Come a little closer and I’ll give you the what for!”

Dog meets cat, Act 4

“Hey you, dog! I’m talkin’ to YOU!”

Dog meets cat, Act 5

And then Katie looked at Willie with her best puppy dog eyes. “Do we have to fight? Can’t we just be friends?”

Dog meets cat, Act 6

And so they were. *smooch*

191:365 Dog meets cat - finale (the kiss)

And they lived happily ever after.

(Written with love for my Beloved, on the 12th anniversary of the day we were married. Ours may be the greatest love story of all, but this one is a close second! Happy anniversary, my love — and thank you for all of it!)


This is how I picture it.

Lucy is a business student, doing a one-week internship with a company that manufactures baby gear. After spending most of the week contributing to the company’s success with tasks as challenging as making coffee and filing year-old shareholder reports, she is asked by the production design manager to fax some design specifications for a new stroller over to the marketing department.

Curious, Lucy reads through the entire document. She doesn’t have kids herself, and by the time she’s finished reading through the design specifications she wonders if maybe once you become a parent you lose your mind.

“Market research tells us that the next hot parenting trend will focus on upscale strollers,” says the first paragraph of the introductory notes. “In consulting with other industry researchers, we have determined that parents will buy strollers that incorporate the latest advances in technology. They will want a high-end stroller with luxury finishes.”

Some of the key design features of the new stroller include:

  • computerized navigation panel with GPS
  • faux-leather seat liner with heat and shiatsu massage modes
  • iPod docking station with hidden speakers
  • drop-down DVD player built into the sunshade
  • lilac and vanilla or green tea aromatherapy options

Lucy, emboldened by the fact that it’s the last day of her internship, asks her boss if she can ask him a few questions about the design. “Sure,” he replies, “but you have to be quick. I’m on my way to a meeting with the marketing team.”
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