Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas is very Near

Dear loyal and precious blog readers,

It took until today, christmas eve, for me to get my christmas cheer levels up to scratch. Suddenly all the carols have purpose other than to further my resolve to never be without my little ipod head phones firmly planted to my ear holes.

Mark Near, who you should know from this recent post, is a good friend of mine. We met a few years ago when I was still a forest fire fighter. I was told that I had to meet him and Rob Philips (Far) that we would get along immediately.

They are the closest I've come to meeting a real life Bob and Doug Mckenzie. And that is why I interviewed the pair of them.

One of my favourite stories about Near (I have never called him Mark... always Near) is when his crew was sent to Ontario to fight a forest fire one summer. Near had grabbed a pair of rubber chainsaw boots before leaving Alberta and was all set, he thought.

Sadly, he had been far too excited about the promised overtime and adventure and had grabbed two left (or right) boots. This would have stopped most people in their tracks and forced most of us to admit to making a mistake that had to be dealt with.

Not Near.

With his roommate unable to leave the room due to laughter, Near somehow managed, in a panic, to get a left boot on his right foot. If that wasn't enough, he also managed to walk as normally as he could (I imagine him walking in one large circle) to the morning briefing and tried to play it straight as if nothing was amiss.

Eventually his prominent limp caused management to take notice of this one fire fighter who was not like the others.

It is that kind of optimistic problem solving that brings a smile to even the most cynical.

Mark Near contacted me through the evil that is facebook and let me know that he was building a christmas album. I generally avoid such things relying on the radio to give me all the christmas music I need for the pair of days I can tolerate it. But this album I had to have despite the obvious copyright infringement. Only paranoid filmmakers and litigation lawyers worry about such things anyway.

I promised to review the album for Near, as the man deserves to be famous.

The music is all karaoke versions of christmas carols... but being Near, it is the preamble that brings the carols a fresh new sound. The over-enthusiasm often means that he is off key or completely off beat, sometimes very far off beat.

This is actually not as much of a problem as you might imagine. He clearly loves these carols, especially the Little Drummer Boy, and his christmas cheer levels are exceedingly high. I laughed and cried and thanked various deities that I can call Near a close friend. I will always share my scotch with this man. To rarely take oneself seriously is an especially fine quality in a friend.

I'm not sure how many of these home albums Near made, but Christmas is Near deserves to be an instant classic.

As my gift to all of you who clicked on a link, or googled the word Sidonglobophobia, or considered hiring me and instead found this blog and then possibly changed your mind, here is Mark Near singing Silent Night as you've likely never heard it. I adjusted the levels of the music so it doesn't blow out your computer speakers... added some rare photos of Near when he decided to get a perm (I strongly supported this decision) and some snow flakes... which are all artificial and lovingly rendered with 6 hours of computer time, as each flake is carefully and individually created by this computer because there is no snow in Vancouver.

Enjoy and a very Merry Christmas to you all....


  1. Happy Holidays Tom and all the best in the upcoming year. Try to sense the wonderment and vibe of the season and ignore the crass commercialism. The old order is on the way out and it is time to embrace the new paradigm.

  2. I liked the part where he forgot the words.

  3. Yeah Graeme, that's my favourite bit too... followed by the part where he just realizes how long silent night really is and sighs loudly.

    And thank you for the comment Dave. I'll be happy to graciously bid the old order good bye.



Thank you for visiting. I live in Vancouver now, but I've lived in other places too. I take photos and make short films about things and people. Please comment and be argumentative. It amuses me.

My main website is

other posts