Almost every day around four o-clock in the afternoon, I would smile when I heard her grunt and moan as she motioned back and forth on the swing in our backyard. I had made the backyard her wonderland. Flowers, vines, and white lights wrapped around every structure. There was a large deck which contained a pond, a wooden gazebo, and a rocky trail leading to the shed. The yard was a place of tranquility and magic. Our neighbours, a newly married couple, had two kids, a boy and a girl. Sometimes I would glance out the living room window and eye their children sneaking into the yard so that they could stare into the pond and try to catch a peak at the tiny fish.

My wife and I had two boys of our own. They were ten years older than our neighbours’ children. They were healthy, typical, teenage boys, who loved baseball and had good hearts. You could say that I saw the young couple next door as a reflection of my wife and I ten years ago. My wife also gave birth to a daughter, but there were some complications and we were told that she would not live very long. She suffered from critical brain damage. She would never learn the ability to speak or understand. She was impaired. We were told that the condition she suffered from was called cerebral palsy.

I had made the backyard for her. When we bought the home in the early nineties I chose the biggest lot on the street. I was determined to make a place for her, determined to see her smile each day. The doctor had told us that her mental capacity would never grow beyond one of a young child. She would motion back and forth; she would never grow out of her swing.

Like the garden, she required a lot of attention, and I was willing to care for both. It is only now that I am afraid I will not be able to care for her anymore. Six months prior to today, I had met with our family doctor who had more news to share; this time it was about me. I have been diagnosed with a cancer, which currently has no identified cause or cure. I have been undergoing treatment, but as I feel my life slip from my grasp, I worry about the garden; I worry about her. When I close my eyes I see her swinging, at age five, seven, nine, fourteen, twenty-one, thirty-two… I want to be there to love her; I want to watch her grow.

I lie in the hospital bed; I am surrounded by white walls and patients in blue gowns. The doctors are constantly in a hurry, and the dilated pupils of every visitor appear vividly distinct. I stare into these black tunnels, which extend so far back that they do not suggest an end. Everyone is distant; everyone is afraid of getting too close.

But then I hear her, unfazed, melodic and radiant. I close my eyes again, and see the sparkle and life of the garden, and the sun’s beams bouncing off her golden hair. Her light reaches me in times of darkness. I can see her light at the end of the tunnel. I close my eyes one more time and everything goes black.

Get On My Level 2015: Highlights from Melee Singles


From May 30-31, the Canadian player-led video game organization Even Matchup Gaming hosted the largest Canadian Super Smash Bros. event in history. In Melee Singles, Hungrybox, asserted his dominance over the tournament, but there was also impressive play from Canadian KirbyKaze, fan-favourite SAUS and runner-up Hax$.

You can read what happened here:


Press Start 2015 – Super Smash Bros. Melee Tournament: C9 Mang0 Defeats Fly Amanita

Mang0 tears his way from Losers Round 1 and goes all the way to Grand Finals in MacD’s Press Start Smash Tournament, taking place in Southern California over the weekend. There were 232 entrants, which included three out of the top five Melee players, all competing for a prize pool of $10,000.

The format of the tournament was a bit different from most others. As opposed to the top 8 being best-of-fives, the whole top 32 would have these sets. The round-robin pools that took place on Saturday led to very unexpected brackets for Day 2.

After Round 1, Cloud9’s Mang0 was sent to the Loser’s Bracket for not showing up on time, along with two other top players S2J, arguably the best Captain Falcon main, and Hax, who is known for being an extremely technical Fox player. Fly Amanita and MVG’s Axe faced in the Winner’s Finals with Fly winning. Instead of Axe playing Pikachu, his main throughout the tournament, he opted for his known secondary, Young Link, against Fly’s Ice Climbers. Axe, feeling more comfortable on Young Link for the match up, stuck with him all five games.

It was an unexpected Winner’s Finals considering that three of the top five players Melee players and TSM’s Leffen were all competing. Other upsets occurred when COG/MVG’s Mew2King met Leffen in Round 2 of the Winner’s Bracket. Although the last two times they played, Leffen had the better of Mew2King; prior to Apex 2015, M2K always had his number. Leffen took MewTwo King 3-1, sending M2K to the Loser’s Bracket in Round 2; an early descent for the King of the Mews.

Leffen went on to face MIOM’s SFAT; the pairing that have been at odds over twitter recently. While SFAT was victorious in precious money matches, Leffen was the favoured to win, but he lost 3-2. Leffen, along with Mewtwo King and HungryBox (who lost to Lucky 3-2 in a close set) were all sent to the Loser’s Bracket.

Mang0 is known for having impressive Loser’s Bracket runs when he drops sets early, but today he completely dominated with wins on Jace (3-0), westballz (3-0), Hax (3-1), Leffen (3-0), Shroomed (3-0), Lucky (3-1), HungryBox (3-0) and Axe (3-1).

Leffen’s loss to Mang0 was a huge disappointment for arguably the sixth best player (and the only player outside of the top five to have taken sets off them), especially after recently beating Mang0 in the winner’s semis at Apex 2015 in a high-stake $1000 money match.

In the Grand Finals, which would have been the first-round matchup had Mang0 shown up on time, Mang0 won the first set 3-0 to reset the bracket, and then he also won the final set 3-0. Mang0, who hasn’t placed this high all year, showed the Smash world that he isn’t slipping as he lived up to his title of number one, only dropping three games in all of the Round 32.

Link to Bracket:

The Restrictive That and the Non-Restrictive Which

The relative pronouns that and which are used to introduce relative clauses. That is used to introduce a restrictive/defining clause, whereas which, is used to introduce a non-restrictive/non-defining clause.

A restrictive clause provides information that is crucial to the meaning of the sentence, whereas non-restrictive clauses provide supplementary information:

Her scarf that is red is missing.

Her scarf, which is red, is missing.

In the first example, that is red identifies which scarf is being referred to: the red scarf is missing, not the blue or green one. In the second example, the colour of the scarf can be omitted and the meaning of the sentence will remain intact. Another important distinction displayed in these examples is that when using the relative pronoun which, commas offset the non-restrictive clause.

In North America, that and which are often used interchangeably when introducing a relative clause, but grammarians and critics’ opinions differ when it comes to whether breaking the grammatical rule is acceptable (Ruvinsky 149). Goold Brown’s 1851 work, The Grammar of English Grammars, is one of the earliest sources documenting proper usage of the two words. Goold explains how that is more appropriately taken in a restrictive sense, and how clear writing depends on the different usages these words usually convey (Goold 292).

One of Goold’s key methods on distinguishing between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses in general, is dependant “solely upon the insertion or the omission of a comma” (291). Thus, it is easy to understand how, by simply omitting the commas, which can be used to convey the restrictive sense. Many educated professionals suggest that using that and which in this exclusive manner does not reflect current North-American practice and the choice “for restrictive clauses is strictly a matter of style” as “many writers and speakers would find no difference between” them (Coghill, Magedanz 52). Although this point is true for British English, where both that and which are acceptable when introducing a restrictive clause, North American guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, continue to avoid the use of which in the restrictive sense (6.22 Restrictive and Nonrestrictive). In the manual’s section entitled “Good Usages Versus Common Usages”, a distinction is made between how style guides determine the language acceptable for print, from how words are commonly used and presented in dictionaries. To follow correct usage of which, it is only used restrictively when it is preceded by a preposition (5.22 Good Versus Common). In my opinion, following this standard of writing is important for print culture, but especially for law and politics. Examine William Safire’s examples of that and which usage in the article “On Language; The Wicked Witch and the Comma”, published in the New York Times:

He deep-sixed the evidence that was incriminating.

He deep-sixed the evidence, which was incriminating (Safire).

In the first example the restrictive clause is introduced by the word that and it is not offset by commas. It is clear that the evidence is incriminating.  In the second example, the non-restrictive clause begins with which and is separated by commas; “it is the fact that he deep-sixed it, not the evidence itself, that was incriminating” (Safire). The difference in meanings is drastic and in the extreme case, a person can go to jail over the difference (Safire). In Safire’s article, he also remarks on misuses of the word prominent in culture. For instance, when President Reagan jokingly stated during a radio sound check in 1984, ”my fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever”, he meant to use that, denoting a restrictive clause, but if what was meant was separated by a comma, it would have a different meaning entirely (Safire). Therefore, although in writing, punctuation is strong indicator to whether which is introducing a restrictive or non-restrictive clause, in speech especially, this distinction is not nearly as evident.

The grammatical difference between that (as restrictive) and which (as non-restrictive), is important for clarity of speech and writing, and in my opinion, it also complements the natural flow of speech. The soft sound of that connects additional information naturally, whereas the stress on which, benefits from the comma break preceding it.

Collective Nouns – Sports Teams

Collective nouns also include sports teams, bands, corporations and other groups. Whether these types of collective nouns are singular or plural may seem ambiguous. Consider the following examples:

The Blue Jays are my favourite team. ✔

Minnesota Wild is my favourite team. ✗

The names of sports teams are a type of collective noun, but to make matters confusing, they follow a different set of rules. According to The Associated Press Stylebook, when referring to a team name (Blue Jays, Wild), whether the team name is single or plural does not matter.  The title always takes a plural verb.

The Blue Jays are my favourite team. ✔

The Wild are my favourite team. ✔

On the contrary, the singular is used when referring to the team’s corresponding city.

Toronto is my favourite team. ✔

Minnesota is my favourite team. ✔

William Safire, writer of the On Language column in the New York Times, advocates against the rule:

“No matter how ‘correct’ it may be, if it sounds funny to the ear of the native speaker, it ain’t right.”

He suggests going with the natural sound of language, giving plural names plural verbs and singular names singular verbs.

Should sports teams follow a different set of rules than the collective nouns?

The Chicago Manual of Style does not present a solution to this issue, while most publications use the plural are when referring to sports teams and bands. Therefore, there does not seem to be a correct or incorrect way. The best advice is to pick a method and be consistent.

Collective Nouns

I frequently come across a lot of common grammar mistakes when reading articles, but every so often, I come across a rule that makes me think twice before enforcing a correction.

Collective nouns can be tricky. A collective noun usually describes a group of people or objects. Here is a list of examples:

  • Team
  • Band
  • Public
  • Corporation

It would be easier to say that, for the most part, collective nouns are singular in meaning, but it is a bit more complicated that. The easiest way to determine whether a collective noun is singular or plural depends on context.

  1. If a collective noun refers to a group as a single unit, it is singular. Therefore, it takes a singular verb:
  • The group is performing my favourite number.
  1. If a collective noun refers to individuals within a group, then it takes a plural verb:
  • The group of students are roaming the museum.

The use of the verb are implies that the students are not roaming the museum as a group, but perhaps, the group has (or is it have?) divided into smaller groups, or some may be roaming as individuals.

Grammar Girl states that Americans are more likely to use the singular verb, whereas British users favour the plural. Being more American influenced. Does the sentence, “the group are roaming the museum” look correct or incorrect to you?

An Important Reminder

A word ending in –s that precedes a verb can distract a reader’s judgement of whether the noun is singular or plural. Examine the following:

  • The faculty of music is known for its prestige. ✔
  • The faculty of mathematics are known for their prestige. ✗
  • The faculty of mathematics is known for its prestige. ✔

Faculty is the noun. Likewise, in the example a group of students, group is the noun. Prepositional phrases can help clarify the meaning, but most sources label them as distracting elements. It important to identify the noun first, and then interpret its function.

It or Their?

After a noun is determined as singular or plural, a pronoun used must also agree in number.

  • The faculty of music is known for their prestige.✗

The example is incorrect. Faculty is a singular noun so use it. In the article “Collective Nouns and Consistency” (www.grammarbook.com), it states that it is okay for a faculty to be an it in one sentence and a they in another, but keep it consistently singular or plural if the sentences are close together. On the more extreme end, Byran Garner, writer of Garner’s Modern American Usage and several other books on style and usage suggests that writers remain consistent throughout a whole work.

Alone Together

“But I thought we’d conquer the world together,” she pleaded one last time.
“We still can,” he attempted to be optimistic.
“You know that’s not what I meant.”
And they both did make it to the end of the world.
But with all the pent up hate they had for eachother they had chosen to get their on their own terms.
And when they got there, they stood side by side meeting the end.
But not together.


A girl moves into her own flat on the tenth floor of a sky-rise apartment in Toronto.  It is late in the afternoon and the sun is penetrating through the windows, providing enough natural light to uncover the details of the room.  As it reaches the centre, the girl glows but her stare remains barren.  Leaning against the large glass window is a boy.  His lips pressed, his eyes lowered. 

“So this is home.”  He annunciates the words in a judicable fashion as his eyes raise towards her.  The room is quiet.  She bows her head towards the floor like a clean cut through the thick air while his words disappear into the silence. But it is the implication of his words that linger, seeping through the air like smoke, and eventually getting absorbed into the atmosphere.  Through the silence, her eyes manage to remain fixed on the image of a white room.  A white, sleek, rectangular sofa standing on stainless steel pegs matches the skinny oval table in the center of the room, and an exotic, tangling, light fixture hangs directly above it.  Even the fluffy red rug has an undeniable edge, which is often the case for modern interior design.  Everything must be sleek.

But that is just a description of a highly-modern flat on the front page of a magazine, sitting on what functioned to be a coffee table, but in reality is a cardboard box sealed with duct tape, a noble attempt to clothe her living room.  Next to the box, on the dark and aged wooden floors, a cord to a tall white lamp misses its other half.  The rest of the room’s surroundings are also white, the walls, the appliances, the tiling, but not the fresh white as in the magazine apartment, hers is much more dull.  In actuality, the space is very tight, approximately 12-14 feet which manages to nest a living room, bedroom and bath area.   The apartment’s selling feature is its wall of overly large windows overlooking the city.  If you look straight ahead, you could see into the opposing apartments’ rooms.  If you look down, you could see the chaos of the city.  That is, of course, if the dumpster does not catch your attention first.  It seems that she will be keeping the windows sealed during her stay here.

“Why didn’t you just move in with me?”  The boy asks.  Perhaps he was insulting her apartment, or the real-estate that she was able to afford, and decided this was the time to try and be nice.  But the girl did not flinch at his words; she dared not to respond and instead, she continued to stand there with her head to the floor with a manner so intentional, so deliberate.  Then, most steadily, her eyes made their way to his hands.  It was not until now that she chose to question the small white box held tight against his side.  The box pulsated with the familiar ticking sound of a maneki-neko’s paw swinging back and forth from within it.  The sound put her in a trance.