Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dwayne's Journey

It's been a week since I sat in my living room and listened as a close friend, Dwayne Harms, the pastor of Living Hope Church and 37-year-old father of two, told me that the doctors had found evidence of cancer in his liver, kidneys, and lungs, and that it would quite likely be terminal. I looked him in the eyes as he told me that unless the Lord chose to do a miraculous work that he was dying. And I just sat there astonished that someone who was so full of zest and life a month ago was suddenly facing the prospect of not experiencing his fortieth birthday. I didn't know how to react. But how do you react when someone you know is facing their own mortality? I struggled with it over the course of the week. My daily existence wasn't changing, but Dwayne's was. How should my life be changing? I wasn't quite sure. Then our church had a prayer meeting on Monday night to pray for Dwayne and Janet and their family, and I realized that I was sharing in this burden with Dwayne and the rest of the people who responded to the Lord's call that night. My role in this journey would be different than everyone else's, so that we all would journey together. I do not know all of what my role is, but I do know that part of it is staying at Living Hope to be with Dwayne and the rest of the church during this difficult time. Dwayne has also begun to journal his journey in his own blog, and it has already proven to be quite powerful. I would encourage all of you to take some part in Dwayne's journey, even if that is just by reading over his blog and praying for him. I don't know what the end of all of this will be, but like Dwayne, I have "quiet confidence" that this is ultimately all for the Lord's glory.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Undiscovered Life of Turner

Life of Turner VII: The Wrath of the Undiscovered Nemesis

Reading over my columns in recent weeks has led me to the realization that they have the same problem as the Star Trek movies: only every other one is really good. The even-numbered movies - The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, The Undiscovered Country, First Contact, and Nemesis - by far outstrip their odd-numbered compatriots in almost every aspect. And this unfortunate pattern was being reflected in the Life of Turner. Last week's column seemed like a good idea at the time, but I read it again and realized it was really just self-indulgent tripe. I mean, who wants to read about stuff they've read already? I don't. How could I expect all of you to? It's absurd! So far I have written about the Life of Turner for six weeks. Three of those have been really good, in my decidedly biased opinion, two have been kind of blah, and one pretty not good. I guess I have been learning the pitfalls of the expectations of a weekly columnist syndicated in one newspaper nationally. It's tough work being this creative. So to all of you I am making a pledge. Rather than simply taking up valuable ad space with said self-indulgence, I want to only communicate things that are really worth communicating. I know I have a lot of good columns left in me. I mean, this is the Life of Turner I'm talking about. Weird stuff just happens. But instead of getting all of those great columns and some mediocre ones and the occasional really crappy one, you'll just get the gold. Only the best for the readers of the Life of Turner, I say. Maybe that means that there will be a column every week and they will all be amazing. Or maybe that means that there will be a column every other week and they will all be amazing. Or I might write one more, period. I don't know. I want to write on my terms, and part of those terms are dictated by the eponymous life that I live. If you still need your fix of Turner, check out my blog at derekbturner.blogspot.com. Maybe you can glean factoids on my life there. It tends to be heavier, but still has good stuff. Or just keep reading the Sheaf. I'll be back. You can't keep a good Turner down.

Originally intended for publication in the Sheaf on October 21, 2004, but never submitted for publication

Life of Turner's Greatest Hits

In the vein of sitcom flashback filler shows and premature Greatest Hits collections comes this week's Life of Turner. Actually, this week is more like the update shows on Survivor that take time to fill in viewers on all the stuff that has already gone on so that they can join in the show from that point on. After five weeks of writing about my life, I decided it would be a good time to look over the road we have traveled together and to give the novices a quick overview of what has already been established in weeks past. "Do you need a George in your life?" gave my reasons for writing about my life. In a nutshell, I am similar to George Costanza in that I live the life that everybody wants somebody else to live, meaning that you can live vicariously through me in this column. And I know the editor. "Reflections of an old student" was a short collection of thoughts from the first week of school, which boiled down to one concept: I'm too old for my age. Week three was a little more lighthearted, as I chronicled my identity crisis after I Googled myself in "Will the real D. Turner please stand up?" In the end, I decided I was living D. Turner the best way I know how, and it doesn't matter what any British right-wing propagandist has to say about it. "A comedy of errands" was a heavier piece about the importance of not getting bogged down in insignificant details. And last week's "A D. by any other name would smell as Turner" was a short history of nicknames throughout my life. And so ends our review of the life of Turner thus far. Earlier this week, a friend asked me if there was a point to the Life of Turner. I honestly didn't know, and I still don't. I think that's what makes the 'life of Turner' different from the 'opinion of Turner,' which is found occasionally in these same pages. Maybe what truly makes this the account of my life is that I really have no idea how it's going to turn out until it's all written. That's the interesting thing about publishing writing - it becomes so final, yet it truly isn't. I probably won't know the point until the end of the journey. So if you have not yet caught a ride on the Turner express, now's your chance. All aboard!

Originally published in the Sheaf on October 14, 2004

Friday, June 24, 2005

A D---- by any other name would smell as Turner

Everyone should have the opportunity to have several nicknames throughout their life. They make you feel appreciated and they can capture a snapshot of a season of your life in a way that nothing else can. And there are certainly many forms of misnomers. The first ones were the family nicknames, the ones you most certainly do not want coming up at your wedding. As a child, I had two: Dewey and Goomer. I have no idea of their origin, but they still follow me to this day. And I imagine they always will, much to my dismay. Then there was the grade school nickname. For a week in each summer for six years, I was no longer D. "The Professor" was the nickname to which I answered. It was the kind of unique yet simple nickname that I imagined, if I ever got to be a hockey player or professional wrestler, would be the eclectic nickname that would get me noticed and written about in those "top ten sports nicknames" columns for years after retirement. Then again, my thought patterns were certainly a direct reflection of the nerdiness that inspired that nickname in the first place. Then came the true sign of adolescence, the high school nickname. It took me a year to get one, but once I did it really took off. It happened the one time I tried out for a sports team in grade ten. Some of the seniors thought I looked like a guy they knew, and so "Heppy" was born. Every day for three years, I became "Hep" or Heppy to nearly everyone in the school. It was just one of those high school things, I guess. Of course, I still get all of these names coming back to haunt me occasionally. People I have not seen for years will remember me by these other names. And now they are nostalgic, reminders of past occurrences of me. As prevalent as my nicknames were, they still define the me that existed in the past, and not the current me. And now my current altername is simply "Turner." I do not know what sets me apart from all the other Turners, but I do know that my surname has become a new identity for me. After all, it is the life of Turner. It just sounds better than the life of Dewey or the life of Goomer.

Originally published in the Sheaf on October 7, 2004

The Definitive Dynasty Guide

Now that the San Antonio Spurs have won the NBA title, the dreaded "D" word is going to come out: "dynasty." There will be people making the argument that the Spurs, with three titles spread over seven years, can now be classified as a "dynasty." This term is so overabused by sportswriters that it has almost become void of meaning (cf. this year's New England Patriots). In fact, it is not uncommon for writers to be throwing the "D" word around after one title! One! This is completely ridiculous, and it calls for a clarification of what a dynasty is. There are a number of components that are essential for a particular team to be considered a "dynasty."

1. Championships. In order to be a dynasty, the team must win, period. The minimum number of championships to be considered a dynasty should be three, which need be won in close proximity to one another - I would suggest a minimum of 75% of the championships in any given period (eg. three championships in four years), and a not-very-negotiable requirement of at least one repeat championship in the time of dynasty. No repeating, no dynasty. In order to be a dynasty, winning must be an expectation, not a surprise.

2. Success other than championships. There are two areas in which this should be evident: regular season success and playoff success. Though regular season success is not a requirement for a dynasty, the team in question should perform well enough in the season to warrant the high expectations given them. And even if the teams do not win championships, they should make it far in the playoffs, preferrably to the finals themselves. An appearance in the finals in the midst of championships does a lot to cement the dynasty status, but even a tough loss in the conference finals or the semi-finals can be used to qualify, especially if that loss was to the eventual champion. A first-round loss, or missing the playoffs entirely should be enough to reset the dynasty clock.

3. A core of key players. Although sports rosters are always changing, the key players need to be the same in order to qualify as a dynasty. Role players can change, but your go-to-guys need to remain the same. Resetting the major players resets the dynasty.

4. A major rival. Dynasties are made in battle with a rival who is sufficient competition, regardless of their status as a dynasty. Think Bird and Magic, with a side of 'Nique. Think Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard. Most dynasties have a counter-force acting against them and helping cement their status as a dynasty.

5. Memorable moments. Part of defining a dynasty is psychological, and so a dynasty must have some moments that stand out from the crowd. Think of Michael Jordan dropping double nickels on the Suns in '93, or his flu game against the jazz in '98.

6. A distinguished ending. Ideally, the end of a dynasty should come either when the key players retire (eg. Jordan in '93 and '98) or they are defeated by the next dynasty (eg. Edmonton Oilers defeating New York Islanders in 1984). A dynasty should not whimper out of existence.

So, given these criteria, what teams in the major four sports (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) actually qualify as dynasties? Here are my lists, along with my reasons for including them either as a dynasty or as "close, but not quite." Note that a repeat without corroborating evidence does not merit consideration for dynasty status. Still, there are exceptions to every rule. Also note that a dynasty begins with a championship, and must end with a championship. Any losses on either side may factor in to overall consideration, but will not be considered part of the dynasty itself. Here's the definitive dynasty list as I see it:

NBA Dynasties:
1948-54 Minneapolis Lakers (5 titles in 6 years)
1956-69 Boston Celtics (11 titles, 1 loss, 13 years. Most. Dominant. Team. Ever.)
1983-88 Los Angeles Lakers (a game seven loss followed by three championships in four years after a finals sweep in 1983, with a loss the year afterward)
1991-93 Chicago Bulls (Jordan, Pippen, Phil. 'Nuff said.)
1996-98 Chicago Bulls (Jordan's retirement, the addition of Rodman, and the two years between the threepeats necessitate a differentiation between dynasties)
2000-02 L.A. Lakers (love 'em or hate 'em, Shaq, Kobe, and Phil count).

Close, but not quite:
1956-61 St. Louis Hawks (1 championship and 3 finals losses including two Game 7 losses to Boston in 5 years)
1961-69 L.A. Lakers (0 championships in 9 years, but 7 finals losses with four game 7 losses, and all but the final loss to Boston)1980-83 Philadelphia 76ers (2 finals losses to the Lakers and one win in four years)
1983-87 Boston Celtics (no repeats, but two titles in four years with two losses to the Lakers, but this placement is debatable)
1987-90 Detroit Pistons (game 7 loss followed by repeat championships)

Special note:
2003-05 San Antonio Spurs (a championship next year will cement their status as a dynasty, since the 1999 championship doesn't count into dynasty calculation because of the time elapsed and the presence of David Robinson for the first championship). In order for the Pistons to qualify for consideration, they will have to win next year and at the least appear in the finals the year following.

NFL Dynasties: (the standards are a little different here, mainly regarding time, or else no one would qualify)
1967-68 Green Bay Packers (only a repeat, but the first two Super Bowls were won decisively and created legends, including the man for whom the championship trophy is named, coach Vince Lombardi)
1973-74 Miami Dolphins (a loss followed by repeat titles, but the perfect season puts them over the top)
1975-1980 Pittsburgh Steelers (4 titles in 4 Super Bowl appearances over 6 years)
1982-89 San Francisco 49ers (4 titles in 4 appearances over 9 years, but not including the 1995 win)
1992-95 Dallas Cowboys (3 titles in 4 years)

Close, but not quite:
1974-77 Minnesota Vikings (3 SB appearances in four years, but no wins)
1987-90 Denver Broncos (3 SB losses in four years with no titles)
1991-94 Buffalo Bills (0 titles, four consecutive appearances; "Wide Right!" killed them)

Special note:
2004-05 New England Patriots (2 titles in 2 appearances. This team must win one more to be considered a dynasty. Note that the 2002 championship is excluded: different key players and an underdog victory, followed by a non-playoff season ensures it stays out of the consideration of the Patriot dynasty)

MLB Dynasties: (taken from the modern era, since the Red Sox' 1918 championship)
1936-39 New York Yankees (four years, four titles)
1942-46 St. Louis Cardinals (no repeats, but 3 titles and one loss in 5 years, with Stan Musial putting them over the top)
1947-53 NY Yankees (6 titles in 7 years, including five in a row)
1972-74 Oakland Athletics (3 for 3, with no surrounding losses)
1998-2001 NY Yankees (a three-peat followed by a G7 loss to end the dynasty; the 2003 WS loss to the Marlins doesn't count because of roster changes, and 1996's WS win was a surprise, as well as a far different roster than the 98 WS title)

Close, but not quite:
1921-1924 New York Giants (repeat wins followed by repeat losses, with one G7 loss)
1926-28 New York Yankees (G7 loss followed by repeat titles)
1941-43 NY Yankees (2 titles in 3 years, but it could be piggybacked with 36-39 dynasty to form a bigger dynasty. It's up for discussion.)
1961-64 NY Yankees (repeat wins followed by repeat losses, with one G7 loss)
1969-71 Baltimore Orioles (a win sandwiched by two losses, including the Miracle Mets of 69. Tough break)
1975-76 Cincinnati Reds (a great nickname and two titles in two years; one more and they would have been a shoo-in)
1988-90 Oakland Athletics (again, a win between two losses, but the Dodgers had fate and Orel Hershiser on their side in '88)

Special note:
1991-99 Atlanta Braves are not a dynasty. One win, four losses in nine years is a consistently good team, but not even a "close but not quite." Too spread out.

NHL Dynasties: (since the beginning of the Original Six in 1941)
1947-51 Toronto Maple Leafs (four titles in five years, including a threepeat and the classic all-OT '51 series won by Bill Barilko's goal in G5)
1952-55 Detroit Red Wings (Sawchuk, Howe, The Production Line, and the octopus was born with eight straight wins in '52.)
1955-60 Montreal Canadiens (five straight Cups, followed by a loss in '61. But the dynasty ends here because that's when the Rocket retired.)
1962-64 Toronto Maple Leafs (three in a row, can't argue with results)
1965-69 Montreal Canadiens (four in five years with a loss to the over-the-hill Leafs in '67. The argument against this dynasty is that expansion changed the league dramatically in '67, but everything points to this being a dynasty)
1976-79 Montreal Canadiens (Quite possibly the most dominant team ever, in any sport. Go ahead, argue with me. Try it.)
1980-83 New York Islanders (Sheer dominance, but the '84 loss to Edmonton doesn't count in the dynasty)
1984-88 Edmonton Oilers (four titles in five years, including two repeats; 1990 doesn't count because of roster changes - ie. no Gretzky or Fuhr, and it was an underdog win)

Close, but not quite:
1951-55 Montreal Canadiens (five straight appearances, but only one win between pairs of repeat losses)
1961-65 Chicago Blackhawks (a win, followed by a loss and another loss two years later. Oh Bobby Hull, what could have been.)
1970-72 Boston Bruins (two wins in three years, but just one more title would have put them over the top)
1974-76 Philadelphia Flyers (repeat wins followed by a loss to the next dynasty, Les Habitants)
1991-93 Pittsburgh Penguins (if only they had not lost to the Islanders in the second round...if only...)
1995-98 Detroit Red Wings (one more title would have set them, but too many roster changes and early playoff losses to strongly consider them)
2000-03 New Jersey Devils (a dynasty if they had won that G7 against Colorado. So close...)

Special note:
The 1996-2002 Colorado Avalanche were very successful, winning two titles in two appearances in the Finals('96 and '01) with a lot of regular season and post-season successes as well, but they're not even in the close category. If only they had won a few more of those conference final Game 7s versus Detroit and Dallas.

And that is my definitive dynasty list. I know it's a lot of information to process, but I've wanted to write this article for awhile. I'm actually going to see if I can get it worked out a bit better and maybe published somewhere on the internet. But for now, I hope you enjoyed my diatribe of the day.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Seventh Heaven

The internet is abuzz with talk about tonight's Game 7 NBA showdown between the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs (who, not coincidentally, were my picks for the finals when the playoffs started). It promises to be a good games, and it will serve as an appropriate conclusion to an exciting, if overly drawn out, NBA playoffs. For the record, I think the Pistons will win their second consecutive title. But as I have been reading about this extraordinary event, I realized that in the NBA it truly is out of the ordinary to go to Game 7. This is only the sixteenth final series to go to a Game 7 in the approximately sixty-year history of the league, so about one in every four years. And I thought that the NHL is so much more known for its Game Sevens, so I wanted to compare the numbers. Only twelve in the sixty years since the seven-game format was adopted for the finals. And here's the really staggering comparison: in the NBA, there has been 7 finals sweeps; in the NHL, 20! So, according to statistics, it's a whole lot more likely for the Stanley Cup to be swept than it is for the series to go the distance. So then why do I have this perception of the NHL being associated with Game 7 and the NBA not? I think there are a few reasons for this disconcerting statistical information and my misperceptions:

1. The NBA is more star-driven, so it is easier to steal a game or two than it is in the team-driven NHL. An amazing player can take a game in basketball (think Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers as the primary example), but only a goalie can really do that in hockey.

2. Momentum means more in hockey. Basketball seems to be more of a game in which each game is a self-contained entity, whereas there often seems to be significant overrun between games in hockey. This is quite likely caused in part today by the frequency of games, which is generally every second day in the Stanley Cup Finals and every third or fourth day in the NBA Finals.

3. The lead-up to the Finals is more gruelling in the NHL. I would guess that the NHL far outnumbers the NBA in total Game 7 series, but what the aforementioned stats do not show is that many of those Game 7s happen in the earlier rounds. The Stanley Cup playoffs are far more of a grind than the NBA playoffs are, and this seems to have often resulted in teams who are exhausted by the finals from the route they have taken (think Carolina Hurricanes in 2002). If one team gets through relatively unscathed, the beaten-down team is more likely to lose quicker.

4. Finally, the NHL has more parity. Parity, you say, when they have more sweeps? How are you going to make this argument? Think of it this way. For the most part, the NBA playoffs are fairly easy to predict. Most of the teams in the finals are either a 1 or 2 seed in their conference, because all of the other teams get beat out earlier. This year's NBA conference finals featured Miami (1) vs. Detroit (2), and Phoenix (1) vs. San Antonio (2). So there's not much chance for an underdog to win his way through. In the NHL, it is far more likely that a Cinderella team will get through to the Finals. Some recent examples include: Calgary, 2004 (6); Anaheim, 2003 (7); Carolina, 2002 (3, but the worst team in the playoffs that year). Although each of these teams pushed hard in the finals, none of the three could overcome their favoured far more powerful opponents, the teams that were expected to win. Unfortunately, it seems very rare where both teams can wear the slipper. At any rate, the fact that the NHL, like any sport, still has its dominant teams often gets exposed in the finals. But the fact that these severe underdogs are able to push the top teams to the limit, regardless of whether they win or not, is proof of the NHL's parity.

So, those are my thoughts of the day. Hockey, come back!

A comedy of errands

Life is full of stuff to do. Things that have no more significance to life than the fact that they need to be done in order to keep life in good working order. Consider your own life for a minute. There are number of random tasks and odd jobs that take so much time to accomplish, and the only thing they accomplish is that they are taken off the "to do" list. Things like grocery shopping and laundry and clipping toenails and picking bits of gristle out of your teeth. It is easy to get bogged down with these details, because just when it seems as if the list is finished, it is suddenly renewed by a new slate of things to do. I can begin understand why house-servants were valued throughout history. It is a full-time job to simply run maintenance on one life. With a servant, you can have two people working on one life. It makes perfect sense, except for the whole dehumanizing subjugation of another person and all. But if you ignore that, servanthood is a great idea! Maybe this is where marriage comes in handy. You have two people to run what becomes one life. One and a half tops. Combining households and names and bank accounts and having an extra person to help out should reduce the errand quotient. In theory. But as the dream of NHL hockey succeeding in the Sun Belt has shown us, theory is not reality. Unfortunately, there is nothing that modern technology can do to rectify the problem of errands. In fact, computers seem to create more errands. Another machine that needs maintenance, especially keeping it organized and junk-free. In the end, a computer ultimately creates as much work as it saves. The bottom line is that life is full of errands and trivialities and to dos and stuff. It is reality, plain and simple. But here is the encouraging part: we do not have to be defined by that stuff. Each of us has a greater purpose to serve, and it is not necessary to have those menial details be the sole arbitor of our existence. Consider those tasks and errands as a needlepoint-sized scratch in a mile-long cable. And whenever you are getting bogged down and tired and frustrated and otherwise disillusioned by the fact that you are never done all that there is to do, just remember: live for the cable, not the scratch.

Originally published in the Sheaf on September 30, 2004

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Will the real Turner please stand up?

There is beauty in the bluntness and simplicity of my name. But one day I began to wonder: who else could lay claim to this name? What had they done with it? And were they worthy of this magnificent moniker? Enter Google. 5,160 results later, I have discovered a lot about me. He is a flyfishing instructor in North Wales. An assistant professor of philosophy at Connecticut College. The editor of British extremist right-wing publication Right Now! A gunsmith. A cutting-edge artist. An architect who proposed an idea for the new World Trade Center. The former Managing Director for Street Management at Transport for London. A defenceman for McTeagle amateur football club. The late keeper of manuscripts at the British Museum. The president of contracting company Turner & Co., located in Edmond, Oklahoma. The manager of the online Sunset Casino. A sound engineer for Niall O Callanain & Band. A commander in the Royal Navy. An R&B singer in Inglewood, California. And me. That's a lot of Turners. Then this journey through the tepid pool of useless information known as the internet became a personal quest of discovery. How did I fit in to the pantheon of Turners? In the first five hundred results, only six linked to the real me. Four of those were in the final thirty I searched. My personal blog ranked as result number 470. Not exactly an inspiring discovery. I was beginning to doubt my claim to the "life of Turner." If this was only the D. Turners, imagine all the other Turners out there who could also be living the "life of Turner." It had all the beginnings of an identity crisis. But then I thought about the issue some more. How many of those D. Turners have bitten the side of a raw fish in front of hundreds of people? Ran a golf cart into a tree? Been dunked in Wascana swamp? Had their car, a 1980 Plymouth Horizon named Pierre, filled above seat level with popcorn? To the best of my knowledge, only one. Me. Sure, there may be other D. Turners who have done great things and led great lives. But the fact remains that only one man has lived the life of Turner. I am the real Turner, and I am standing up.

(Originally published in the Sheaf on September 23, 2004)

Reflections of an 'old' student

The first "week" of classes is nearly over. And by week, I mean that period before which everything settles down into routine. It just so happens that because of the Wednesday start to classes that this initial "week" is spread over eight actual school days. On Monday, things should return to normal, or as normal as university gets. The early crunch of classwork sets in, as does some sense of regularity and comfortability. Kicks are offed, summer clothes are stored, classes are skipped. The second week provides a rhythm and a flow that are directly in opposition to the anarchy and chaos of the first week. So while we are still basking in the glow of this glorious time before we collectively cash the cold hard cheque of reality, let us take time to look at some of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the first week of school. There is a lot to enjoy as the "good" of the first week. Free stuff to be had whichever way you turn. Seeing people and reconnecting after a summer off. The excitement of seeing who is in each of your classes. Beautiful weather outside. And mostly, the anticipation, hope, and sense of possibility that comes with a new year. But unfortunately, the good often seems to be overshadowed by the bad. And the bad is bad. Student loans. Lines. Buying textbooks. Lines. Bureaucracy. Lines. People shoving pamphlets in your face. Lines. The overpacked Place-Tunnel-Arts route. Lines. People who don't know how to walk at an appropriate speed or proper stopping etiquette. Lines. Loud annoying music everywhere. Lines. Lines. Lines. And don't forget lines. And then there's the ugly - my recent realization that this is the fifth time I have gone through this whole process. The bookstore lines, the applications for student loans, the free burgers. The fifth year. For the first time, I feel 'old.' Not old in absolute terms, but in relative terms. I could have been finished a degree by now. People coming in to university were not even in high school when I graduated. I feel old. For the first time, I can see the end of my degree, and for the first time, I want this year to be the last time I'm on campus for the first week. I am looking forward to the second week. Then maybe the life of Turner can gain some sense of balance again. Maybe.

(Originally published in the Sheaf on September 16, 2004)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Do you need a George in your life?

I must apologize to you, my faithful readers, as I have nearly become a delinquent blogger, what with my relative lack of posting over the last two weeks and all. Well, to make up for lost time, you will be able to get an extra dose of the Turner over the next ten days, at which point the life of Turner will temporarily leave the blogosphere for Camp. But until that happens, in addition to my normal posting, I will post the columns that I wrote for the Sheaf in the aptly-titled weekly column "Life of Turner." Here is the initial offering, initially published on September 9, 2004.

Welcome to the life of Turner. This is the record of the events of the life of Turner, the author of this column and the liver of the life in question. But what makes the life of Turner different from anyone else? What makes it worthy of being read on a weekly basis? You will have to discover that for yourself. The life of Turner is one that only one man could live. It is a life that everyone wants to live vicariously, but not directly. It is a life filled with unique occurrences, oddball observations, and weird happenstance. Things that would not happen to an ordinary person happen frequently in the life of Turner. But perhaps it would be helpful to elaborate somewhat as to the basis for the weekly investigation into the life of Turner. It is common for me to be compared to figures of pop culture. At different times, I have been found to be similar to any number of notable characters: Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers, Mike from Monsters Inc., Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. But one comparison continues to follow me wherever I go: George Costanza from Seinfeld. Everyone has a Seinfeld-ian group of friends: the "even Steven" Jerry for whom everything goes right; the sarcastic Elaine; the tall wacky Kramer who is just plain weird; and then there's the George, the short, stocky man to whom strange things happen. Sometimes, you get a Newman or a Banya or a Puddy in the mix, but everyone has at least one group of friends in which there exists the dynamic of the main Seinfeld quartet. I've tried to be other characters. I could not be Kramer, because I am too normal and short. Jerry is just right out of the question. The closest I came to breaking my George mold was that I was once almost Newman, but I was too endearing. Therefore, I am George. I could simply resign myself to this identity. But instead, I can celebrate it and revel in it. I am George! There is an Independent D----. There is Serenity Now! There will be a "Summer of D----!" There is a need for Georges in this world, for people to point out the pointless and to abuse the useless. I perform a function that few in this world can as a George. And that is the best argument I can make for the relevance of the life of Turner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tag! I'm it!

Well, folks, the good people over at Scotty D's site (that is, Scotty D himself) have officially tagged me. A tag is a way of encouraging fellow bloggers to write about a particular topic and to find out what they think, much like filling in e-mail surveys. And so I am going to fill out this tag about books, with a couple of added bonuses.


Last book I bought: Bastards and Boneheads by Will Ferguson (purchased at Value Village). Ferguson's take on Canada is always entertaining, and this book is no different. It focusses on Canadian leaders throughout our nation's history and evaluating their actions in order to classify them in the most objective way Ferguson could construct: either they are a bastard or a bonehead. For example, according to Ferguson's model, Trudeau was a bastard, and Diefenbaker was a bonehead.

Last book I read: Fire on the Mountains by Raymond J. Davis (picture not available). This book tells the story of SIM's early attempts to send missionaries into Ethiopia. Much of the book discusses the trials of working with the Wallamo tribe during the invasion of the country by Italy preceding WWII. It is encouraging to read these kind of stories to see what God has done across the world. Honourable mention in this category goes to Yann Martel's Life of Pi and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

Book I am reading now: Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller. I love the way Miller writes. The way he communicates is not only entertaining, but he really is able to take difficult concepts and make you think about them in a wholly new way. I am also reading Eugene Peterson's The Message, which I find much easier to read as a novel than as "Scripture," and am getting a lot out of reading it that way.


Next book I plan to read: U2 at the End of the World by Bill Flanagan. It's been sitting on my shelf for a long time, and I need to finally read the book that is considered by many fans to be one of the best two or three books about U2. Also receiving mention is Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time series, which I just picked up at a garage sale.



Five books that mean a lot to me:

1. NIV Study Bible. This is my primary Bible for reading and studying, though I do own a number of translations that I read fairly often. I really appreciate the phrasing of the NIV translation, and this particular edition has a lot of scholarship imbedded into it.


2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Although I didn't actually read Tolkien's masterpiece until four years ago, it has made a great impression on me in that short time. Taking a class that focussed solely on Tolkien's works gave me a new understanding of the books, and they are truly the masterpiece of the twentieth century. They should be my literary conquest for the summer.


3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This is the book that stands out most from my childhood. I remember that my mother would read this book to my sister and me, performing all the voices. It is one of the most imaginative fantasy books I have ever read, and the wordplay and use of language in the book is simply delicious. I cannot wait to read it to my children.






4. Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson. This collection of essays is Ferguson's reflection on Canadian culture. It is a must-read for anyone who has ever studied any level of Canadian literature, and it is a perfect catpuring of a national identity. Genius.




5. (tie) Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Call it the "Mere Christianity for a new generation." Miller's look into "non-spiritual thoughts on Christian spirituality" is refreshing, entertaining, and poignant. Definitely a book to read repeatedly.

5. (tie) Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The classic defense of the faith by one of the twentieth century's greatest authors and theologians is one of those books that you have to go back to again and again to soak in more information every time. No matter where you are in your walk with God, this book is appropriate.






Honourable Mentions: The Superior Person's Book of Words by Peter Bowler and Letters From A Nut by Ted L. Nancy. Both books are great coffee table books: intelligent, witty, easy to read, and great for a laugh.





I have learned a few things from this tag: a) school really does a number on your personal reading life; b) I need to read more books (particularly out of my own collection); c) I need to be more intentional about buying good books. Yay for books! And finally, I am going to tag the following people:

Anders Bergstrom
Ariann Chambers
Becca Cochrane
Maryanne Cotcher
Ky and Lyn Hingston
Dave Hutton
Jordan Gasior
Rochelle Knox
Jordan Kurtz
Corrina Rasmussen-Turner

Tag! Now you're it!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Life of Turner by the numbers

40,000 - in dollars, the approximate amount of debt incurred over the past five years of studenthood.
23 - in months, how much older I am than my sister L
2 - times I have appeared on national television
200 - in kilometres per hour, the Turner land-speed record
77/26 - the number of times I have travelled the stretch of highway between Saskatoon and Regina since June 2000, and the number of different vehicles in which I have made those trips, respectively.
93.80 - approximate entry average for the U of R
29 - the number of classes I took at the University of Regina
16 - the number of different disciplines from which those classes were taken (ie English, History, etc.)
9 - the number of those disciplines in which I took just one class (Chemistry, Logic, Economics, Classics, Music Appreciation, French, Indian Studies, Human Geography, Social Studies)
1 - classes out of those 29 in which I was below the class average
82.68 - average at the U of R
68 - lowest mark received in university (twice)
98 - highest mark received in university (once)
13 - classes in which I have received a mark below 80
14 - classes in which I have received a mark above 85
1 - class from which I withdrew when already in session
2 - universities I have attended
48 - total number of courses I have taken in university
2 - degrees I will earn within the next two years (B.A. and B.Ed.)
162 - credits I have already taken in university
204 - minimal number of credits I will have taken when I finish my degrees
269 - entries on my personal contact list
24 - consecutive Tetrises in a row
215 - most lines ever achieved in Tetris
366 - CDs I own
16 - CDs I own that are on the "probably get rid of" list (leaving 350 for now)
99 - number of CDs I own that I bought new (although many of those were on sale)
54 - number of CDs I owned when I moved to Regina in August 2000
1 - phone number for the first 17.5 years of my life
11 - phone numbers in the last 5 years (including cel phones)
4 - houses I lived in from grades 1-12
15 - times moved since initially moving out in August 2000 (including moving to camp)
9 - mailing addresses since June 2000
5 - mailing address in 2003 alone
5 - e-mail addresses
500 - the approximate cost, in dollars, of seeing U2 in concert in Vancouver in April, including airplane tickets, concert tickets, and merchandise
3 - cars owned
1985 - production year of the newest car I have owned
10 - total number of roommates (living in the same house for at least one month while each paying rent) in the past four years
4 - as of the end of this month, the number of those roommates who are married
7 - consecutive years spent in ministry in IVCF (1998-2000 as ISCF leader at Bedford Road, 2000-2003 on the U of R executive, 2003-2005 as U of S IVCF President)
5 - Toronto Maple Leafs logoes visible in my room
0 - times I have been east of Manitoba in Canada
4 - as of this weekend, times I will have been in Vancouver
2.5 - funerals I have attended (a memorial supper was held for my grandfather three weeks after his death in 2002)
22 - weddings I have attended in my lifetime
2 - weddings I have attended that were for family members
6 - weddings in which I have been involved (groomsman twice, usher twice, emcee once, guest table once)
6 - more weddings to attend in the next 12 months
1 - weddings I was not invited to that I ended up deejaying a significant portion of the dance
146 - total posts to the Life of Turner, est. July 27, 2004 (including this one)
6 - the number of those posts that have focussed exclusively on U2 (a surprisingly low number)
14 - the number of Hawaiian shirts I own
1 - the number of bones I have broken
2 - the number of bones of other people I have been mostly responsible for breaking
1 - serious relationship in my lifetime
39 - in months, the approximate length of that relationship from dating to un-engagement
Unfathomable - in dollars, the amount that I have spent at Value Village in my lifetime
25 - days until I am counselling at camp
8 - comments I think this post will receive
4 - amendments I will make to this list after remembering some other detail of my life
Uncountable - the number of times I have typed "D out."

*Amendment 1: Grammatical errors corrected.
*Amendment 2: Bones numbers added
*Amendment 3: Hawaiian shirts

Hest Fest 2005

What do all greatest 1970s science fiction movies have? A future in which human circumstance has been altered due to some catastrophic development, a liberal attitude toward sexuality, a screenplay adapted from a previous piece of writing, some recognizable social commentary, and Charlton Heston. Whether Hest was playing a cynical American astronaut struggling for survival on a world dominated by simians (Planet of the Apes, 1968), fighting for survival as "the last man on earth" against a group of demented nocturnal zombies two years after the world's population was devastated by germ warfare (The Omega Man, 1971), or investigating the murder of a rich man in overpopulated New York City in the year 2022 and stumbling upon the secret of the Soylent corporation (Soylent Green, 1973), the Hest is at his best in the sci-fi classics produced during the height of the Vietnam War. Recently, a friend and I watched all three of these movies in one evening, aptly entitled "Hest Fest 2005." I highly suggest holding your own Hest Fest as soon as you can. Now I'm looking forward to Hest Fest 2006: The Biblical Epics, consisting of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur. The Hest is the Best!

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