Me, speechifying like it’s nobody’s business (Photo by Zach Miloff)

—   V I C T O R Y   A T   L A S T   —

A speech on the occasion of the wedding of Samuel and Safiya, November 28, 2015, to be delivered with tenor Churchillian bombast, and given in recompense for Samuel’s unforgetable speech at my own wedding five years prior

* * *

To find Samuel a wife. This was our charge. This was the battle.

One score and eleven years ago Samuel’s parents brought forth in this nation a new boy, conceived in hope, and eventually dedicated to the cause of spiritual and social advancement and the true liberty of mankind …  and also, a bit later, dedicated to the hope of marriage.

The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy. In this case, the enemy was a life of bachelorhood: abstinence from home-cooked meals; abstinence from in-law-related obligations; and, of course, standard-issue abstinence.

You ask, what was our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs! Victory in spite of all potential embarrassment! Victory, however long and hard the road! For without victory there could never be the hope of adorable, cappuccino-coloured progeny.

He had nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. He had before him an ordeal of the most strenuous kind. He had before him years of struggle and long-suffering. He faced the most daunting of tasks: to seek out and investigate the character of one who could be his match, his intimate helpmeet.

What were our tactics? We would see him off on outings with young ladies. He would date in North America, he would date in China, he would date in Africa, he would date in India, and he would date online. He would go on dating to the bitter end. Or would it be the sweet end? And he would never surrender.

We were all in this together – you and I, families, friends –  rallying around the noble cause of pairing this guy off, sending our warrior into the loving arms of eventual matrimony. We took up our task with buoyancy and hope. We knew in our lion hearts that this cause would not be suffered to fail among men. Through thick and thin, we have stood by him: ever the suitor – but ever to be the groom?

“Always the wedding crasher, never the bridegroom,” or so it has been said, just now.

I, among his comrades-in-arms, have done what I could to stand by him – mostly over the phone, since, despite our apparently undying friendship, we have never in fact lived in the same place. Living far apart from your BFF can be difficult –  but it may have been a mercy to those around us, considering that when we did get together we insisted on doing such things as: challenging everyone in sight to Scrabble tournaments; pretending that the somewhat dry gatherings we attended were actually taxidermy conventions, and then trying to hold in our giggles; calling up acquaintances to ask them ludicrous questions that purported to have something to do with their fields of expertise; and, of course, hosting our own preemptive funerals.

My spiritual brother was not always the paragon of manhood you see before you today. I first came to know this now decorated hero [point to wedding ring] as a small, blonde –  nay, see-thru-haired – boy at a summer camp. Camp, in particular ROBSI (the Rideau-Ottawa Baha’i Schools Initiative), became our primary stomping ground, and we were royals in our day. Our campfire skits were the cleverest, our noodle fights the noodliest, and our spice-eating contests the most hilarious. One fateful year, we were at last put together as a counsellor team, only to be split up later that summer, after the camp directors received complaints from campers in other groups that our group was having too much fun and it wasn’t fair.

On other occasions, we would be found drawing faces on pieces of fruit, writing and illustrating comics that mysteriously didn’t seem to be funny to many other people, and of course, having excellent ‘girl talks.’ Wherever we were in the world, messages would be exchanged. Had I ventured into that vault, this speech would have been many hours long. I will only say that one of my favourite emails from Sam came when he was in Macau, near China, doing volunteer work, and I was starting my undergrad in Peterborough, Ontario. The email, which warmed my heart to no end, simply said, “Could you come here for a sec?”

In later years – the globe-trotting, single years – my memories of Samuel comprise long hours of preparation for this or that trip abroad: staying up all night, packing up his literal baggage, unpacking his proverbial baggage, mending his clothes, and exchanging all the music we could download from one another in the space of about ten hours. Ship-shape in the barracks, and then ship out.

So you see that I have had my share of valour on this battlefield. It has been my honour to have Samuel for so many years monopolize my time, belittle my cities of residence, malign my friends, make fun of my family, and on early mornings sic his dogs on me as a wake-up call. And it is my hope that we will once again into the fray. That is to say, I hope we will make time again for some of our creative projects, for example, now that his all-consuming wife search is over.

The battle was not always dignified, but it was always honourable! Tens of tens have been left in the dust of the unrelenting juggernaut that was Samuel Benoit, bachelor. The statistics speak for themselves: one out of all Baha’i women in eastern Ontario and western Quebec have now fallen victim to his crusade. I first learned of Safiya – or “Amusement Park Girl” as I would come to catalogue her – over the phone, after a discouraging encounter about which the bridegroom may one day tell you. Suffice to say, rather early on in their acquaintanceship, all seemed lost. And yet, victory is sweetest when one has known defeat.

But God is not heedless to the sighings of the soul. When we desire something good, Good will side with us. When we pray ardently and truly seek some outlet for the realization of our hopes, sooner or later the occasion will present itself. And later is better than never.

Never have so few owed so much to so many. Today is a day for the annals of history. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if this union is to last for a thousand years or more, through all the worlds of God, we will still say, “This was one of Samuel’s finest hours!”

Where there is unity, there is always victory. God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of unity between two families. Everyone, mother or father, sister or brother, niece or nephew, friend or frenemy, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the false alarms, nor the rocky starts in any way weakened the unbending resolve of Samuel Benoit in his efforts to find a delightsome wife, and find one he has: a wife beautiful and sweet, one who has already begun to temper him, and – best of all – one who makes him look tall in photographs. Here’s to you, Safiya! [Raise drink in toast. Others should join in.]

Let us now, at the last, unfurl the standard of victory in the name of these two beloved friends! [Unfurl the standard!]


The new Benoit coat-of-arms. (Photo by Samuel)

And if you’re thinking, Samuel, What on earth am I going to do with that giant flag? I do not want to keep it, then I say unto you, “too bad,” and I suggest that you might find uses for it someday – say, for example, as a baby blanket.

Thank you for indulging me this evening. Please continue with your merry-making (for a minute or two, after which we will hear from the illustrious groom).

* * *

With thanks for some of their words
, which I brazenly lifted, 
to, most especially,
 Winston Churchill, and to Martin Luther King Jr., 
Gandhi, Teddy Roosevelt, 
Publilius Syrus, Malcolm Forbes, 
Sun Tzu, Abraham Lincoln, and to Bahíyyih Khánum (the latter being 
the only words I took entirely seriously)



The happy groom and bride at their recent reception (Photo by Melody R.)


The coat of arms, in progress (1)


The coat of arms, in progress (2)


Me and my derpy face, speechifying. Now with 100% more coats-of-arms! (Photo by Zachary Miloff)


See the inspiration for the coat of arms here. (It was inspired by a historical coat of arms of the de Benoit family.)

Also, I submit the below photograph into evidence. The photograph shows a scrap piece of paper on which, in perhaps early 2012 (more than three years before Samuel’s wedding), I wrote down the idea for this speech.


Evidence that I had planned this speech years before the wedding. (When you get a good idea, write it down! Keep it for as long as it takes!)

My 2015 in Books

Well folks, I didn’t even get to 50 this year. AND I’m a bit late publishing my list. But it’s about quality, not quantity, right?

But I enjoyed the many books I did read, and I began a number of larger works I hope to finish in 2016. My favourites of the past year – difficult as it was to choose favourites – are in red text in the list below.

Happy new year!

# Title Author Publisher, Year Subject Category Why did I read this? How did I get it?
1 Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland
Eddie Lenihan with Carolyn Eve Green Tarcher-Penguin, 2004 Non-Fiction (Short Stories) VPL second-hand book sale
2 The Heart Laid Bare
Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2002 Fiction (Novel) for work (ebook production)
3 MaddAddam
Margaret Atwood Vintage Canada, 2014 Fiction (Novel) finale of series
4 The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman William Morrow, 2013 Fiction (Novel) found in mobile library near Heather and 16th, Vancouver
5 Mambo Italiano
Steve Galluccio Talonbooks, 2004 Fiction (Drama) for work (research)
6 Hidden Bounties: Memories of Pioneering on the Magdalen Archipelago
Larry Rowdon Nine Pines, 1994 Non-Fiction (Memoir) intended to read for many years
7 Birth of a Bookworm
Michel Tremblay (trans. Sheila Fischman) Talonbooks, 2003 Non-Fiction (Memoir) via work (ebook production)
8 The Trouble with Brunch: Work, Class, and the Pursuit of Leisure
Shawn Micalleff Coach House, 2014 Non-Fiction (Essay) press, reviews, publicity
9 What’s True, Darling
M.A.C. Farrant Polestar, 1997  Fiction (Short Stories)  gift from GTM in 2013
10 The St. Leonard Chronicles [manuscript]
Steve Galluccio Talonbooks, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (copy-editing)
11 Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell
Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham Vintage, 2015 Fiction (Mystery) series fan
12 Pastoral
André Alexis Coach House, 2014 Fiction (Novella) publisher catalogue
13 Get Me Out of Here
Sachiko Murakami Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (proofreading)
14 The Hatch
Colin Browne Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (proofreading)
15 Fifteen Dogs
André Alexis Coach House, 2015 Fiction (Novel) gift from HW
16 Dead Metaphor: Three Plays
George F. Walker Talonbooks, 2015 Drama for work (proofreading)
17 Shadow Scale
Rachel Hartman Pengun Random House Doubleday Canada, 2014 Fiction (YA) second in a series, first of which won Sunburst Award
18 Fairy Ring
Martine Desjardins Talon, 2001 Fiction (epistolary novel) via work
19 The Miner’s Son and the Farmer’s Daughter: The Story of D.H. Lawrence and Jessie Chambers
P.K. Ridgway unpublished playscript Non-Fiction (Drama) attended a rehearsal, wanted to read the ending
20 Holy Cow
David Duchovny FSG, 2015 Fiction (Novel) tweets & general publicity
21 in event of moon disaster
arbitrarily Archive of Our Own, 2013 Novella-length Fan-Fiction (Mad Men) browsing a shipper tag
22 The Divine
Michel Marc Bouchard Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (proofreading)
23 That Summer
David French Talon, 2000 Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook production)
24 The X-Files: Goblins
Charles Grant HarperCollins, 1994 Fiction (Mystery) got excited about the #XFilesRevival, pledged to read the original tie-in novels
25 Cosmophilia
Rahat Kurd Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (proofreading)
26 The X-Files: Whirlwind
Charles Grant HarperCollins, 1995 Fiction (Mystery) got excited about the #XFilesRevival, pledged to read the original tie-in novels
27 The X-Files: Ground Zero
Kevin J. Anderson HarperCollins, 1995 Fiction (Mystery) got excited about the #XFilesRevival, pledged to read the original tie-in novels
28 Winners and Losers
Marcus Youssef and James Long Talonbooks, 2015 Non-Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook production)
29 Monkey Beach
Eden Robinson Vintage Canada, 2001 Fiction (Novel) intended to read for years; finally got around to it
30 Takeover in Tehran: The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture
Massoumeh Ebtekar (as told to Fred A. Reed) Talon, 2000 Non-Fiction (Memoir) for work (ebook production)
31 Rom Com
Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (typesetting)
32 Darcy’s Story: Pride and Prejudice told from a whole new perspective
Janet Aylmer Harper, 2006 Fiction (Novel) bought as gift for CS
33 Sila: The Arctic Cycle
Chantal Bilodeau Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (proofreading)
34 Mend the Living
Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore manuscript [forthcoming from Talon, 2016] Fiction (Novel) for work (cover design)
35 In a World Created by a Drunken God
Drew Hayden Taylor Talon, 2006 Fiction (Drama) for work (cover redesign)
36 Cerulean Blue
Drew Hayden Taylor Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook production)
37 Moss Park and Tough!: The Bobby and Tina Plays
George F. Walker Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (proofreading)
38 Jabber
Marcus Youssef Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook QC)
39 Men Explain Things to Me
Rebecca Solnit Haymarket Books / Dispatch Books, 2014 Non-fiction (Essays) publicity through Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
40 Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahíyyih Khánum, Outstanding Heroine of the Bahá’í Faith
Janet Khan Bahá’í Publishing, 2005 Non-fiction (History/Religious Studies) Bahá’í community & personal study
41 The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Simon Winchester Harper Perennial, 1998 Non-fiction (History) Enjoyed other work by the same author
42 Sugar Blues
 William Dufty  Warner Books, 1976  Non-fiction (Wellness)  Re-read
43 Practical Magic
 Alice Hoffman  Putnam, 1995  Fiction (Novel) I have a soft spot for the movie, and I’d never read Hoffman, so I figured I’d give her a try.
44 A Credit to Your Race
Truman Green Anvil, 2011 Fiction (Novel/YA) Free book!
45 Her Son’s Hero
Vicki Essex Harlequin, 2011 Fiction (Romance) Recommended by SD
46 Hild
Nicola Griffith FSG, 2013 Fiction (Historical novel) Bookstore browsing


I finished this book months ago but couldn’t post about it until now owing to a photo-uploading problem. My apologies to anyone who even remembers, at this point, that I once pledged to read all six X-Files tie-in novels by January 2016.

This was the best one so far. By that, I mean I had trouble identifying ways to make fun of it. Thus, it could also be said to be the worst so far. My review is going to be mostly screenshots, so the book can speak for itself. Kind of.

Ground Zero comes from a different author, and this one seems to trust the reader to know what the X-Files are, while still managing to remind the reader, gently, about a few of the nuances in the show that might have slipped their minds. Thank you, Kevin J. Anderson.

Here we have the Skin-man’s first  appearance in the series, a very apropos one:  

Highlights from this book:

  • The word “supercomputer” is used five times in the first chapter, so that’s fun.
  • Mulder’s hair is described as “fluffy.” (!)
  • Scully apparently went to Berkeley for her first year of college and nearly became an activist. Did we know this before? Anderson is playing fast and loose with canon fodder.
  • Mulder’s “long-standing revulsion of fire” surfaces for a moment. Remember how Mulder hates fire? Well he does.



Chapter Twenty-Four is a major highlight, all of it. In it, Mulder and Scully get ready for a trip and travel together, and we see much of it; it doesn’t get edited down as it normally would on the show. If you are into the X-Files primarily because of the relationship between these two characters, you should certainly read this chapter of this book. 

Aww,  he knows her favourite.

Fun thing: Mulder owns Hawaiian shirts! Proof:  

Imagine, if you will, the adorable situation implied by this syntax:  Moose and squirrel, buckled into one seat together.

Asbestos mention! So ’90s:  

It seems that one more tie-in novel has been released just this month or last, I presume to prime the pump for the release of the new season of the X-Files in January – which was my original finish line. So if we add this new one to the list, there are seven in total – and I have only read three yet. I might not make the goal. We’ll see.

Let’s end with Wisecracker!Mulder:  

    clarion call
    United Kingdom, 1743
    Osiming, NY

    Saskatoon, SK
    Rawlco Radio

    Portland, OR
    best hikes
    walking bridges

    Vancouver, BC
    event listings
    all-you-can-eat sushi
    Zawa restaurant menu
    Joey on Broadway
    Winking Judge
    Trutch Street
    Fan Expo 2016
    X-Files publicity event?
    Quest Food Exchange

    Toy Story honest trailer
    Inside Out showtimes
    Kimmy Schmidt
    Good Wife season 4 episode guide
    Elsbeth Tascioni Indian restaurant lunch scene
    Safety Not Guaranteed

    no-sugar-added cupcake icing

    This review is going to take the form of screenshots, because that is what I had time for, and because there were plenty of good ones!

    Let’s start with a little FBI!Mulder: 


    Speaking of the FBI, the first mention of our favourite assistant director comes in Chapter Four! He is characteristically annoyed with Mulder. Skin-man!

    Also in Chapter Four, but a couple pages later, comes this clarion call of a description of the nature of the X-files: 


    Thanks for those Sparknotes, Mr. Grant.

    Later (or perhaps it was earlier – I don’t remember), we get this helpful trip down memory lane – and we can all picture the scene as it played out in every repeat of this flashback on the show: the board game, the blue jersey worn by pre-teen Mulder, who barely looked like David Duchovny but had a similar haircut. SAMAAAANTHA…


    Aside from that, the highlights of this book included a number of mentions of “portable phones,” as well as some other stuff I mentioned on Twitter in the following exchange:


    Here is the first appearance of the denim jacket, as the finale of a mushy/expository description of the M&S partnership:

    Another nice little moment is this one, in which Mulder is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed: 


    Also this (awwww): 


    Then they talk and it’s nice. Fwends!

    Let’s end with a fun fact from my Kobo Reading Life: it took me four hours to read this book. The first book also took me four hours. But this one felt much longer. Perhaps because it was sprawled over more days?