Earlier this month, we celebrated Stephen Fitzpatrick’s 40th birthday. Since I’ve known Stephen for over 20 years now, this seems an opportune time to offer tribute.
I’ve known Steve since high school. We met, to the best of my recollection, while serving on Student Council; I was the Grade 10 Representative, and I believe he was the Vice-President…I’m sure Steve will step in to correct me. I liked Stephen right from the start, even though we weren’t much alike on the surface; he was outgoing where I was introspective, he was tall and I was short, he seemed like the least neurotic person I’d ever met, while I felt like I was drowning in teenage angst every moment. Steve was a breath of fresh air.
Stephen Fitzpatrick and Earl J. Woods, back row, right.
Stephen is a very gregarious guy, one of the most fun and fun-loving people I’ve ever met. When Stephen discovers something he loves, he shares it with his friends. And I’ve benefited from that generosity from the beginning. Steve’s impulse to share introduced me to a wide variety of important pop culture touchstones. Steve has long been on the cutting edge of this stuff; without his guidance, I might not have become the geek I am today. Stephen introduced me to...
Moonlighting. It was quite possibly the best television drama/comedy of the 1980s, with terrific writing, inventive direction, and the most engaging leads ever to grace the screen. This was smart TV, and helped me fall in love with the medium.
Crisis on Infinite Earths. I was at that age when I thought that I’d grown too old for comics, but Steve told me that I had to check this out – they’d killed the Flash! And Supergirl! I thought he was nuts – superheroes didn’t die. At the very least, they didn’t stay dead. But Steve drove me up to a comic shop in Edmonton – I don’t recall the name, only that it belonged to a guy named Jim – and I caught up on the Crisis, got hooked on the reimagining of Superman, and collected comics for the next twenty years or so, before I finally realized I was spending more on the hobby than I was paying in rent. My pocketbook may not be too happy with Stephen, but I’m grateful for the endless hours of entertainment.
Science fiction conventions. I knew they existed, but I’d never been to one until Steve drove a group of us down to Con-Version II in Calgary. There’s something very liberating about dressing up like a fool and trading obscure inside jokes while racing from panel discussions to the dealers’ tables to the movie room, all while enduring the befuddled stares of less addled folk. Steve and I even shared a costuming prize one year – he was a Klingon accountant, I was the Starfleet officer tasked to deal with him.
Stephen Fitzpatrick in cosume as...I'm not sure what.
New tabletop roleplaying games. To wit, the Star Trek RPG (naturally) and Villains & Vigilantes. Villains and Vigilantes was a great game, with a novel conceit: you played yourself, but with super-powers. We had a blast uprooting telephone poles to use as clubs, foiling bank robbers, and surviving nuclear catastrophe.
John Carpenter Movies. Stephen introduced me to John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China – two very different, but equally awesome films. The first is one of the most bleak and chilling SF/horror pictures ever made, while the second is one of my favourite comedies. John Carpenter’s filmography is pretty uneven, but these are masterpieces of the genre, and I’m grateful Steve brought the director to my attention.
So with all that preamble out of the way, let’s enjoy a few pictures of the party. Here’s to your first 40 years, Stephen!
Stephen is sure to enjoy this fine bottle of...cat's piss?
The "Hawaii Four-Oh" theme encouraged loud partying and loud shirts.
Even though fire, alcohol, tools and skipping ropes were all present at the party, Jeff managed not to hurt himself.
Colin, Audrey and Scott look on as Stephen delivers a rousing speech (edited for content and length)
I liked the indoor palm tree, so Stephen was kind enough to take this photo of Sylvia and me.
Pete hammers a coconut, presumably so he can put a lime in it.
Mike sculpts. From the expression on his face, I'm not sure I want to know what horrors he hopes to coax from the clay.
Heather and Jeff, just because it's a nice picture. Except for the branch sticking out of Jeff's head...I'd like to pretend that Jeff merely had another accident, but in this case it's just my bad composition.
What an awesome tribute to Stephen's first 40 years. The pictures captured the party quite accurately! Much fun was had.
Very nice! I don't suppose you had any alcohol at the party, so I will speak up for the Cat's Pee On A Gooseberry Bush. The short story is that it's a nice, herbaceous white wine typical of New Zealand, and perhaps a little exotic to North American palettes, at least for under $20 a bottle. The long story is that "Cat Piss" (or "catty") has become one of the more positive of the arcane descriptors of wine. For the rest of the story, you can google it. Also see: the Wine Aroma Wheel by Ann C. Noble.
Well, those are some very touching words Earl, thank you! I deeply appreciate them, and the true gift of longtime friendship behind them; it has truly been my privilege!
Geez, now I almost feel bad for some of the stuff I am planning to say when I emcee your wedding this summer... ; )
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