September 2, 2017 scottcjones 2Comments

The next morning I packed up. Gave the old room a final inspection. So long, crummy motel room. Ordered an Uber for the airport on the motel’s wifi. Then I headed outside.

The sun was coming up over the freeway. Hadn’t left yet, but I was already feeling nostalgic for California. So long, California! You beautiful, sun-baked hag, you.

There was a black car parked next to the motel’s front office. Was the Uber here already? As I walked towards it, I noticed that the car looked weirdly similar to Tony The Driver’s car from yesterday. Can’t be Tony, I thought. How can that be Tony? 

The driver waved at me through the windshield. Same upscale eyeglass frames. Same Bluetooth thing hanging from his ear. Fucking Tony.

He opened the door and stepped out. “Your ever-faithful driver, reporting for duty, sir!”

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August 28, 2017 scottcjones 1Comment

Work was fine. I put in the hours, did what I’d been contracted to do. The job was in an anonymous business park. Big, blank buildings with manicured shrubs out front. The building I was working in was full of people, but I felt alone there. Once the last day was over, I handed in my badge, tried to find someone to say goodbye to. Then I took an Uber back to the hotel-motel. (more…)

July 12, 2017 scottcjones 3Comments

I despise summer on the East Coast. I always have. The Herald Square subway station at 34th Street and Sixth Avenue is the real-world equivalent of the hubs of hell. It’s the epicenter of NYC’s savage summer heat. It’s claustrophobic and dark down there. It reeks of spoiled garbage and urine. You’re a hundred feet below ground, surrounded by trash and darkness, yet the temperature is still as warm as a witch’s oven. Even the track rats seem to openly sweat in the Herald Square station.

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June 28, 2017 scottcjones 10Comments

[This is a continuation of my account of my first days in Vancouver in May 2009. I think there’s one, maybe two parts left. Oh, and hey! Thanks for reading. I haven’t been posting consistently lately, which you may have noticed. Planning to post more in the coming days. Hope you come back. -Scott.]

As soon as I stepped off the plane in Vancouver, as soon as I set foot in the airport, I left some of the nagging 9/11 gloom behind. My shoulders, it seemed, were relieved of an invisible burden on this arrival. My posture began to automatically self-correct. I felt as if my skeleton was stretching itself out, expanding to its full height. Only minutes into my new life in Canada and already I stood taller, felt stronger.

I was not a visitor here this time. I was, presumably, here to stay. I had a job. And I had immigration paperwork, making it official.

Once I’d finished with immigration, I exited the Vancouver airport and stood on the curb with my two cats, still tucked safely inside their carriers. I filled my chest with Canadian air: inhale, exhale. Despite the nearby line of idling cabs, the air tasted cleaner and earthier to me. I could smell lilies blooming somewhere nearby. Only moments into my new life here and already things seemed less dangerous, less complicated, and more livable.

It was then that my eyes began to water. I didn’t expect this at all. I used the sleeve of my jacket to dry my face.

As I waited in the taxi line, my idle brain questioned why I was in Canada.

But wasn’t New York great? You loved it there!

Yeah, it was great. I loved it so much.

So why did we leave again?

Because it wasn’t safe there. We thought we were going to die there.

Oh. That’s right. Now I remember… 

If we went to pick up milk, we thought we were going to die. If we went to fetch dry cleaning, we thought we were going to die.

That was awful.

Yep. Pretty awful.

An eerily silent taxi (a Prius, of course) sped me and the cats to the new apartment, in a neighbourhood known as Gastown. I sat in the backseat and opened up the local map on my phone. With a series of finger-pinches and swipes, I found New York. I was 2,900 miles away from it now. I found a webcam on the Internet overlooking midtown Manhattan. Thanks to the time difference, it was almost dawn in New York.

The city looked lonely and gargantuan. Despite the pre-dawn hour, it was still twinkling like mad, as usual. New York, it seemed, could still twinkle without me.

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June 22, 2017 scottcjones 1Comment

I had a pretty serious girlfriend in New York. Her name was Jill. I was nuts about her.

Jill was a part-time teacher in the math department at NYU. She lived in New York but she was from Vancouver—the same city, coincidentally, where I was shooting a TV show every month or two. She’d grown up in Vancouver in the 70’s and 80’s. She’d been a snowboarding prodigy as a kid, which sounded terribly Canadian to me. She remembered her dad driving her down the icy mountain roads after her snowboarding meets. Her father always bought her a tuna sub from Subway on the way home—that was their ritual. As he steered the car and navigated the tricky curves of the mountain roads, guiding them both back to civilization, Jill sat in the passenger seat. She watched her father drive and ate the tuna sub.

Jill accompanied me on one of my TV trips to Vancouver. We stayed in the spare room at her parents’ apartment. It was at some point on that trip—probably over dinner with Jill’s parents at an oyster place in Gastown—that we decided to move to Vancouver together.

I phoned the producers of the Canadian TV show I worked on the next day. I asked if I could work for them full-time. They said yes. The wheels were in motion.

Jill and I returned to New York and began winding down our lives in NYC. We scheduled goodbye dinners with friends. We fantasized about our new life together in Canada. The vulture of gloom? The one that perched on my shoulders and made me flee subway stations in terror? The vulture’s days were numbered now.

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April 28, 2017 scottcjones 3Comments

Traveled to Brantford, Ontario in March, to the PC Museum. Syd Bolton, the museum’s founder and curator, drove into downtown Toronto to pick me up, along with TV’s Steve Tilley and Youtube’s Erika Szabo. Syd summoned us to his museum for an event called a Game Soiree. I’ve never been to any sort of event with the word “soiree” attached to it. I was concerned that it might be sleazy. It wasn’t.

We were all at Syd’s modest estate from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. So it was a pretty good chunk of our day.

But come on—it’s Syd, right? He’s the most eccentric Canadian I’ve met. His entire life is built around gaming, and computers, and nerd culture. It’s honestly difficult to know where the work ends and Syd’s private life begins.

Special thanks to Tilley, Szabo, Shane Luis (also of Youtube), and to Syd, for feeding us spaghetti, opening his home, and letting his calvary of tiny, precious, snow-white dogs lick our hands and faces.

Update: I have a subsequent conversation with Syd that I’ll be posting soon. Stay tuned for that.

-Scott J.

 

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April 19, 2017 scottcjones 1Comment

Vancouver, British Columbia. Saturday morning in September 2016. Low clouds. No rain yet, but it’s coming. Cloud cover so low and dark this morning that the city feels boxed in and claustrophobic. As soon as I step out the front door of my building, rain begins to fall, raindrops as big as Canadian nickels. I fish the umbrella out of my backpack and press the button on the handle. FWAP! The unfolding nylon sounds like an oversized bat taking flight.

The rain is merciless and cruel. It threatens to shred my umbrella, to reduce it to a nylon pulp. It’s pounding everything, myself included, down, down, down.

This is how it rains on the West Coast of Canada.

I lope towards the Rogers Arena across town. Vancouver is small enough to walk. Rogers is where the Canucks play their home games. Rogers is where I gave a Tedx talk in 2015, so the Arena and I have some personal history.

I’m attending a media event this morning. A media event is a high-strung phoney party that’s designed to introduce members of the media to a product. Media events usually contain the following ingredients: artisanal sandwiches, soft drinks, giveaways/freebies, awkward moments, sometimes sublime moments, too, and interview opportunities with celebrity and pseudo-celebrity guests.

I’ve been going to these dreaded gatherings—dreaded because they are designed to be fun and rarely are—for more than a decade.

This morning’s high strung, phoney party at the Rogers Arena is to celebrate the release of a video game called NBA 2K17.

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March 14, 2017 scottcjones 3Comments

The latest episode of Heavily Pixelated is a celebration of Mass Effect, specifically how the original trilogy of games helped one gamer understand herself better.

Note: I’m ridiculously proud of this episode.

Thanks again to the brave, incredibly articulate Ashley Cooper for sharing this story with me (and now you). You can read Ashley’s writing here: https://medium.com/athena-talks/the-artist-formerly-known-as-james-195ac1922a68. It goes without saying, but she’s worth reading.

Special thanks to Mac Walters, the director of Mass Effect: Andromeda, who took time out of his day busy day to talk to us.

Thanks to Steven Nikolic for his ongoing technical support and vaunted website-building skills. (Translation: He makes all of this stuff look good and sound good.)

Finally, thanks to my partner and friend, Sarah Deakins. What inexhaustible talent and drive that woman has. Sarah inspired me every step of the way during production.

If you like this episode, please share it with your friends, colleagues, co-workers, etc. I need more listeners.

More episodes are coming soon. Stay tuned.

xoxo,

Scott J.

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