Let's all talk about Dave behind his back

        I don't think he's here right now so we can talk about him as long as we keep our voices down. From what I've heard, he was born on July 3rd, 1969. Gee, that's sort of old to be still stuck in university studying for his BCompSc. at TUNS isn't it. (Okay, okay, so it is now called DalTech since it was assimilated by Dalhousie, but no one will admit to it.) But this isn't Dave's first attempt at grand scholastic achievements, he already has a BSc in that evil subject called Physics. He received this lovely honor by spending three years at Saint Mary's University. Here's a question, how many other people out there have ever been taught a course at a hospital, with the professor hooked up to an intravenous? Ahh the joys of SMU. But I am getting ahead of myself right now, let's start somewhere near the beginning.

        Sources at a hospital in Middle Musquodoboit say that he was actually born there but I haven't been able to confirm anything. I am pretty certain that his family moved to the big village of Tatamagouche when he was three. Speaking of his family, he has one Dad, one Mom, and one sister. (And a highly unlikely combination of relatives, especially uncles on his Dad's side.) His sister's name is Juanita. Philosophers have pondered for many years why his sister was given such an unusual name while he got such a common one. Perhaps we'll never know.

        Growing up in Tatamagouche was a unique experience. Having his father for principal and occasional teacher all through high school certainly added to the uniqueness of it all. In school he played chess, was yearbook editor, and had a reputation for his unusual speech topics, especially his infamous "kissing speech". He did extremely well in track & field with the triple jump until he actually had people to compete against. His other sports triumphs have been closely guarded. We're not quite sure why.

        After having his heart broken for seven years straight by the same girl, he decided it was time to move on to the big city of Halifax. (Of course she left the province entirely to the evil brainwashing DeVRY Institute of Technology, but that's beside the point.) At SMU he learned the lovely intricacies of "froshing" (we unfortunately were unable to obtain any pictures of him pushing a roll of toilet paper across the SMU football field with his nose wearing only a diaper). Other highlights included floor floods, hand grenade drills at 3am, a little bit of Physics, writing his first full-length script, and meeting girl #2 in his life. And when he graduated, he went on to bigger and better things: working at Lawton's Drug Store.

        In September of 1991 he experienced the most difficult moment in his life: breaking up with girl #2 after nearly two years together. When asked for a comment, David declined. However, "Picking up the Pieces", something he wrote shortly afterwards, probably sheds a little light on things.

        Tackling life alone once more, our hero tried to break into the elusive world of filmmaking on the side while he spent his daytime hours at Lawtons, serving customers who spoke words of wisdom such as:

Yeah, I want that Belvedere Extra Mild. No, I don't want that one, I can't smoke any that say cancer on the package. How about that one, it only causes birth defects, and I ain't pregnant.
I'd like to buy this hot water bottle. Oh, wait a sec, I have a feeling there's a hole in this one. Don't ask me why, but I've had these feelings before and I've always been right. I'll go get another one.
        He actually survived long enough at this questionnable occupation to be promoted! Yes, before he gained the great inner wisdom for which he is world renowned today he became a postal outlet manager. (Making a whopping $6.25/hour and putting in 80 hour weeks.) But it was never meant to be. After finally smiling one day and leaving his employment he returned to the greener fields of Tatamagouche where rumor has it he concentrated on reading, (52 books in 52 weeks) writing (the epic sci-fi script "Command Decision"), and drawing (UI cheques).

        Then after a great bicycle ride across PEI and many leaps off the bridges of Tatamagouche, he decided to head to a place with more challenging bridges. Yes, back to the big city of Halifax once again. This time at the Technical University of Nova Scotia for his BCompSc. He moved in to M. M. O'Brien Hall on the third floor but after only a few weeks he moved up to fifth, a lonely ghost town of a floor where tumbleweed continually rolled down the corridors.

        But in January he returned to the mysterious void better known as third floor. A land of wild and unimaginable creatures such as Dunks and Moikes and Big Daddys and Guts and Goats and we mustn't forget the one and only Chico!

        Time flew quite quickly during those months, winter turned to spring and just when everyone had almost given up hope, summer arrived. Of course, summer brought summer classes which always seemed to get in the way of his desires to go swimming and canoeing as well as working on the world's greatest adventure game...

        But now, summer is long gone and after a short month back home in Tatamagouche, he has once again returned to the land of e-mail, midterms, the insanity of Friday nights on Third Floor, and a new and exciting thing: THE BIG JOB HUNT! Yes, indeed, beginning in January, our brave hero may actually begin to bring home a bit of bacon. (Or at least some balogna.) The glories of a co-op education. So far he has had only one interview, but we have heard rumours that he is destined for far greater things in the near future.

        And that pretty well brings us up to date on Dave's life as we know it. He is still writing scripts and searching for that great love of his life. But he has told us in an exclusive interview that he has not given up and will continue to search for his ever elusive dreams.

Update as of December 14th, 1996
       It has been rumoured that Dave is trying to leave the city of Halifax. Could this be true? A semi-reliable source has told us that after braving the evils of an Operating Systems exam and the glory of Computer Organization, he is headed back to Tatamagouche for the holidays. And then, as unbelievable as it may seem, he is flying to St. John's, Newfoundland: land of palm trees, sunny beaches, and babes in bikinis. (And if you actually believe that, you'd better check out St. John's current weather).

        The place he is working at is called Ultimateast (soon to become Stratos) and at press time, his duties are unknown. University records show that he is still registered for courses in May so we believe that he will be returning. Stay tuned to this space for more details in the weeks and months to come.

Hot off the Presses...
We were able to interview David outside of King of Donair at Pizza Corner in Halifax as he attended more courses at TUNS in the summer of 97. Well, actually, it is called DalTech now but David refuses to admit to it. We asked him about what had happened since last we spoke. He shuddered as he thought back on his four months in Newfoundland. Wading through waist-deep snow drifts all the way along his two mile trip to work each morning. Having to spend an hour and a half on a bus just to find a laundromat. Fighting off wild animals right outside his apartment each morning. He refused to admit that any of these things were exaggerations. He even showed us drool stains on his jacket sleeves to prove the truth of the wild animals. Ahh, but there were bright spots, he said. Movie theatres weren't too far away and he managed to fall in love with Renee Zellweger from "Jerry Maguire".

"Any non-theatrical loves in your life?" we asked. At this he went quiet for a moment, a slight look of sadness passing across his eyes, before replying.

"Not yet," he said, "but I know she is out there somewhere."

Changing the subject quickly, he told us that not all of his time was spent fighting off snow blindness, scurvy, or ice hounds. His long evenings being snowed in inspired him to write the first 50 pages in his great epic "The Tower of Ithern". When we asked him how much he has written on it since returning to Nova Scotia, he grew defensive and refused to talk about it anymore.

As he threw the last crumbs from the crust of his donair pizza to the birds, he got up and gave us a wink. "Don't worry," he said, "I haven't given up yet, I still have grand plans you know." When we asked him what he was up to for his next work term, all he would do was sing Neil Young's "Four Strong Winds". He wandered off singing "Think I'll go out to Alberta, weather's good there in the fall..."

Coming to you live from Fort McMurray, Alberta
After three long months leading dog sled teams across the barren wastelands of Northern Canada, we arrived in Fort McMurray and were surprised to find it sunny and even somewhat warm, with not a speck of snow to be found. However, we have been told that is not always the case. After passing around photographs to various locals, we finally found a lady who works at one of the theaters who believed she had seen David's face on numerous occasions. She especially remembered him coming out after a showing of "Mimic" wrinkling up his face and scowling and on another occasion, walking out from "The Game" with a look of utter confusion.

With a little more sleuth work we managed to track him down to a set of apartment buildings called "The Towers". From what we can gather, he is located in the baby tower, living at the top of a gigantic four story building. We were told that he has a psychotic roommate so we have decided to lay low until we can ascertain exactly what the situation is here. From our surveillance van, we can see that he leaves every morning at 6:30 and gets on to a bus to head off to the buildings of Syncrude, a half hour drive away. Passing through the dug up wastelands of the Alberta tar sands, it looks like the perfect setting for "Terminator 3", gigantic lit up machines digging away at the earth, endless conveyor belts heading off into the unknown, enormous ships hovering overhead firing lasers at the workers below... After an eternity of waiting, we see him board another bus at 4:30 pm, carrying what looks like a Robert Jordan book under his arm. We will continue our surveillance here and hope to have more information in the near future.

Update: February 6th, 1998
We managed to find David in Halifax this time. We tried to approach him on four previous occasions but each time he was too busy to chat because he was just on his way to another showing of "Titanic". Today we managed to track him down out at Point Pleasant Park. The wind was up and he was standing near the shore watching the mighty waves crash one after the other upon the shore. He had just finished tossing popcorn out to the seagulls and now the gulls were all hovering in the air above him, gliding on the wind above the waves. As we approached, David seemed happy that we had arrived.

"I'm so glad someone else is here to see this," he said. "I don't have a camera to capture it and I really wanted someone to share it with someone."

He turned his attention back to the waves for a while longer and then we walked with him back towards the TUNS residence. He quickly summed up his life at present. Back to classes, which unfortunately seemed to be particularly lacking in anything of any use this term. However, he was fairly excited about a filmmaking workshop he was attending. "You're not trying that again, are you?" we asked.

He did not seem to appreciate that remark. "Of course I am. Okay, so things didn't work out well last time, or the time before that, but I think I can make a better go of it this time. All I need to do is make a few friends so I don't need to go at it alone. It is something I really want to do. Right now I have two weeks to come up with a short film idea."

Seeing that he wanted time to himself to continue his thinking, we left him to continue walking on his own. We hope to catch up to him again in the next while to see what comes from this workshop.

October 27th, 1998: The Final Term
Coming down the elevator at the Maritime Center, we noticed a peculiar individual ranting and raving and tossing his books all about. We were about to call police to have them restrain this lunatic when we realized it was the very person we had been searching for. When he recognized us he calmed down slightly but continued to pace around like a caged lion.

 "Two more months, two more months and I am out of here. I graduate and I am done. Or at least I am unless I do something really intelligent and drop out of university. I don't ask for much. All I want to do is learn something, anything. Is it too much to ask for professors who can actually teach? Courses that actually have some intelligent content to them?

 We let him continue his rantings and ravings for another ten minutes while we followed him back to his apartment on the 26th floor of Fenwick Tower. He invited us up, apologizing for the mess, but anxious to show off the incredible view of the harbour.

 "So how did that film workshop go?" we asked him.

 "Oh... don't get me started on that one. I could write a small novel about that mess. I wrote a cute little script called Cole's Notes. Nothing grand, but it certainly did not deserve the royal trashing it received on its epic journey to the big screen."

 "You sound a little bitter with life right now." we pointed out.

 "Yeah, I guess so. I'm just getting a little frustrated, with the world and with myself in general. I'm slowly getting things sorted out again but I feel as if I have been walking around in a coma ever since I returned from Fort McMurray. But things may pick up soon. I'm going back to the film co-op to do some volunteer work and try to meet some people. Been adding some more to my story, 'The Tower of Ithern', it's 260 pages now. And I am planning on meeting the love of my life any day now. So, if you manage to track me down in another month or so, I hope to have grand tales to tell."

 And so we left him to continue on with his story and his various quests. We are still uncertain if he will follow up on his plans, but we continue to be hopeful. So, until next time...

November 20th, 2000: My How Time Flies...
        Just when we had completely given up on finding David again, we tracked him down to the other side of the country, in Whistler, British Columbia: land of winter skiing and summer mountain biking. Amazingly enough, he has been there for the last year and a half. We first caught a whiff of his trail in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Film Festival was hosting a tribute to David's favorite filmmaker, Peter Weir, in June. We knew that if David knew about it he would find a way of attending. Sure enough, there he was, wearing his "Carpe Diem" t-shirt in the front row during a discussion Weir was giving on "Picnic at Hanging Rock". Although he managed to leave the city before we could catch him, we did get to read his Weir experiences from the festival. We also noted that his car had BC plates. We began to close in.

        We finally caught up to him at Brandywine Falls in Whistler. Bundled up against the cold, he looked out across a deep gorge at the waterfalls. When we asked him about the camcorder he carried, he said he was trying to make a little movie for some kids back home in Tatamagouche. He invited us back to his one bedroom apartment in Bayshores and he helped us catch up on the past two years.

        After graduating from TUNS, he returned home and enjoyed a couple months of relaxation before seriously beginning his job hunt. Actually, he admitted that he never got too serious about the job hunt. It's just something he was never good at. He had applied for co-op workterms at Paradata twice and both times the job fell through due to funding problems. But they told him to give them a call once he graduated - and the rest is history.

        He flew up for an interview and loved the location. He was hired a week later and returned to Whistler near the end of February, 1999. The first few months in Whistler he stayed with several other Paradata employees (practically the entire staff at the time) at the "infamous" 2247 Brandywine Way. On the down side, he was stuck sleeping on a mattress in the loft for the first couple months. On the plus side, the place had an outdoor hot tub. Wonderful on those very snowy nights. He got his exercise each day trying to dig out the 25 steps heading up to the place. By the time spring arrived he discovered there were more like 30 steps.

        Work was pretty interesting. The company mostly dealt with online credit card payment and David got to do a lot of fast learning and tackling projects on his own. When his first real paycheques started rolling in, he started buying some toys: tv, DVD player, video capture card for his computer, 5 speaker sound system for his movies. His DVD collection is up to 60 movies and still growing. (Though he says that he is running out of truly classic films to buy.)

        He took his job at Paradata very seriously, putting in 60, 70 hour weeks and even biking in to work at 3am on a few occasions when things were going wrong. It was times like this when he realized he should have invested in a bike light... or maybe a car!

        He finally got a place of his own in the fall and found that the peace of mind of having his own place far outweighed the loneliness. Plus, it let him get back to his writing. Though he reluctantly admitted that his "Tower of Ithern" story has been stalled at 350 pages for quite some time. Hikes up the Stawamus Chief, to Joffrey Lake, and up Whistler mountain were the highlights of during this period.

        When snow began to fall once again, everyone at work (Paradata staff growing to 20 people now) urged him to finally hit the slopes. His last excuse vanished when he was given the distinction of "Employee of the Year" at the Christmas party and presented with a very nice pair of skis in recognition. After a short trip back home to Tatamagouche for Christmas, and staying up late watching the computers roll over at Y2K, he finally hit the slopes in January.

        Amazingly, he didn't do that bad considering he hadn't been on skis for nearly 15 years. Though several people credited his extra-flexible legs with preventing a few broken limbs after some of his disastrous crashes. He now has one rule in skiing: "If you cannot see the peak, do not go to the peak." It wasn't until his second white out up top that he truly appreciated the wisdom of this.

        On February 22nd, 2000, David finally broke down and bought his very first vehicle, a 1986 Subaru Wagon, for $3800. He says that he couldn't stop laughing for days as he drove around Whistler. He just couldn't believe that he now had a car. The start of a new chapter in his life.

        His first real adventure in his car didn't come until months later when he drove to Seattle to meet Peter Weir at the film festival. His only other grand adventure of late was his hike up the Stawamus Chief . He foolishly packed his camcorder and tripod and forgot to bring any water. It was a very parched trip back down.

        In August he returned home to Tatamagouche for a couple weeks of much needed relaxation. All he did was sleep in, spend half his days swimming (and leaping from wharves and bridges) with the kids next door, and watching movies. Not a bad way to catch up on life.

        On his return, work seemed to be starting to drag. Not a good sign. Fortunately, he had been inspired by his trip to Seattle and began working off and on with a new script idea. When we spoke with him, it was 61 pages long but still did not have a title. David says that he can have it finished by Christmas if only he can set his mind to it. Currently he tells us that he only seems to get in a writing mood near midnight on Sunday nights. Most peculiar.

        Ski season has just begun once again but Dave has yet to make his way up the slopes. He is beginning to enjoy work once again so he may remain in Whistler for some time yet. He still has not found the girl of his dreams  and he worries more and more about it as each year passes. He's begun having a weekly "movie night" at his place, showing off his favorite DVDs to friends at work.He says it helps to keep him sane.

        And so we leave him once again, knowing that we can probably find him here again for our next interview.

July 3rd, 2001 - Going Nowhere:
        We decided to give David a call on his 32nd birthday, just to see what he was up to. We expected to find him in the midst of a big party, but were surprised to discover  that he was by himself, eating Domino's pizza and drinking Coke. We rushed over immediately to see what was the matter. Being by himself was understandable, but drinking Coke? We stopped by a store on the way and picked up a few bottles of Pepsi. (We were very relieved to discover that the Coke simply came with the pizza, so David didn't have any choice. Gosh, we were worried there for a moment.)

        The first thing we noticed when we arrived was that his car wasn't sitting outside in its usual spot. When we asked him where it was he simply replied "Barstow, California". When we asked him what it was doing there, he said it was a long story, but if we had the time, he'd tell us the tale. So we took off our shoes and settled in for the evening, helping ourselves to some pizza in exchange for some Pepsi. David set the rest of the Coke bottle in the bathroom. "Great for cleaning the toilet bowl," he replied to our curious looks.

        As he straightened up some of the odds and ends that were cluttered about, we took a look around his apartment. His DVD collection had grown some more. Looked like about 80 now. A few new additions to the book shelf. "Now that's a great book," he said, as we pulled out "Ender's Game" to look at. "I read that one right after reading the first Harry Potter book. What a difference. We know Harry Potter is smart simply because the author tells us he is. Doesn't matter that he acts like an idiot. But Ender Wiggin IS smart. You know it because of what he does and what he says and what he thinks."

        Our eyes fell on numerous stacks of American quarters on one table - $16.00 worth in all. "Las Vegas," is all David said. When we enquired further he told us it came out of a change machine at a parking lot. We just nodded, hoping it would all become clear when he explained about his car. David took a glass of Pepsi and some twisty bread and settled down by his computer.

        "Well, in early January I started thinking about quitting work. After putting everything I had into my work for a year or so, I really had nothing to show for it (aside from a nice set of skis) and I felt like I really didn't have that much more to give. I imagined myself five years from now working in some dark corner of the office, completely forgotten and going nowhere very slowly. Do you know the character Milton in Office Space?"

        We nodded. We knew exactly what he was getting at.

        "Once again, I am the alien here. What am I doing in Whistler? I don't really ski that much. I enjoy biking on the Valley Trail and swimming while everyone else mountain bikes down insane trails and goes windsurfing or kayaking. While everyone else goes out drinking and partying, I come back here and have a Pepsi and popcorn."

        We felt like getting up and leaving. No one likes to hear someone wallowing in self-pity. But it was his birthday after all, so we decided to hang around and hear him out. As we waited for him to continue, a cat walked in through the open patio door and across our feet, completely oblivious to us being there. It rounded the couch and settled down by a little dish full of cat food. It sat and munched for a few moments and then walked out just as quickly as it came.

        "The story of my life," said David, "the cat comes in, it eats, and then it leaves. Doesn't even stop to say hi. You know the only time that it gets all friendly and snuggles up to me? When its dish is empty. It's not even my cat. Just lives in the nieghborhood."

        "Ever think of getting your own pet? Maybe a dog? They're usually a little friendlier," we asked.

        "Thought about it. Of course this place doesn't allow pets." Before we could ask the obvious question, he answered it for us. "Yes, I could move, I suppose. I was thinking of moving down to Squamish perhaps. A bit of a commute each morning, but it would be cheaper rent and a more realistic place to live. More families, fewer tourists. You can't think of settling down in Whistler. It would cost you a million or two to own your own place here. Sort of ridiculous."

        "So what's keeping you here?"

        "My rather uncertain future. What's the point of moving if I end up quitting work and returning to Nova Scotia next month? I need some permanence in my life. Be at a job I enjoy, live in a place I feel like I could put down some roots in. A place to call my own. But right now, things are still so uncertain."

        "So you were thinking of quitting in the spring?" we asked, trying to get him back on track.

        "Yeah. I ended up giving myself a deadline of June 1st. If things hadn't drastically improved by then, I would hop in my Subaru and make the 6000 km back to Nova Scotia. Spend the summer at home relaxing and swimming, and then try rejoining the real world in the fall. I went on a nice road trip on the Easter weekend to Yoho Park and sorted through a bunch of things in my head. When I got back I mentioned my intentions of leaving and that created a bit of a ruckus. Nothing like threatening to quit to show you how much people want you to stay."

        "So you survived past June at least?"

        "Survived is the right word. I'm probably working at 10% of my abilities. There were a few brief moments where things improved but then it all just seemed to come crashing down. I suppose part of the problem was that I put too much hope into my trip to the Grand Canyon. I thought it would be a wonderful experience. Take a week off, drive down there and back, and return refreshed, ready to face work once again. Of course I never made it there. My car died in the Mojave Desert and is still sitting down there, waiting for an engine transplant."

        He went on to describe his 3700 km trip down through the western coast of the US and how he returned 5 days early by plane instead of by car.

        "So here I am, back in Whistler with no car. At least I'm getting good exercise on my bike. But I'd almost forgotten how difficult simple things like doing laundry and picking up groceries can become without a car. The worst thing, though, is that my mind is still down in California. My little vacation is unfinished. My car is down there, waiting to get fixed, waiting for me to return and complete the circle. I returned to work more frazzled than when I left and I just spend half my days staring blankly at my monitor. If I keep this up, I won't need to worry about quitting, I'll be fired instead."

        We asked him if he had any good news to share. He thought for a few moments. We were starting to worry that there was nothing at all. But then he started talking about the softball team he is part of, and the fun he has had swimming now that the water has warmed up enough to spend more than five seconds in.

        "Any luck on the female front?" we asked.

        "No, haven't encountered any fellow aliens here yet. Though there did seem to be a bright light there for a little while. But it looks like it was just wishful thinking on my part. There's a big difference between someone being friendly towards you and being friendly towards everyone in general."

        "So anything interesting coming up?"

        "If the folks at Barstow Automotive can fix my car in the next few weeks, I will try and get down there and finish my trip. That would be nice. I'm also taking a little break from work. I'm headed back home for August, taking a kind of working vacation. I'll try and accomplish some work from home and just relax. How I feel at the end of that will probably determine whether I'll stay at Paradata or not. So keep your fingers crossed."

        As we get up to leave, the cat walks in once again and jumps up into David's lap. Looking over at the food dish, we see that it's not yet empty. Perhaps there is hope after all.

February 25th, 2004 - Spinning Wheels in Halifax:
        It's been several years since we last tracked down David and we weren't at all surprised to find out that he was back in Nova Scotia once again. It was 3am when we managed to track him down on MSN Messenger. He was glad to hear from us and invited us over. "Now?" we asked. "Sure," he said, if you're not too dopey, I won't be going to bed for another few hours.

        And so we went over to his apartment on Tower Road. An unusual place. The front of the building was fairly old with vines growing all about while the rear of the building was a more recent add-on with 50 or more standard apartments. David's place was one of the front apartments and was a little unusual in design with a sleeping area up on stilts to make a strange kind of loft.

Uh-oh, I think I hear someone coming. Remember, I didn't tell you anything. We'll keep this secret between the two of us. You don't even know my name. I'll see you around. Click here to go back before he notices something is up.