Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Doug Murray

Today was my friend Doug Murray's birthday, who passed away a couple of years ago. July 21st doesn't go by without making me think of him and making me wonder about how things would've been different had he lived.

I met Doug when I started in the Animation-Television programme at Algonquin College back in 1997. A lot of people knew Doug as a teacher at the school in their Design programme, but at that time, he was a student. It was gratifying meeting him because he was also one of the older students too, at 33. I had been quite intimidated at the thought of returning to school at the age of 27, when many of the other students were 18 years old.

Doug was immediately charming, funny, intelligent, silly, genuine, and engaging. He could warm to any subject and had ideas and opinions on many. He was always up for a "wee pint" as he called it, and then would lapse into many Monty Pythonisms thereafter (including "Decomposing Composers" and "The Philosopher's Song").

Not long after our Siers-survival group was formed, and we were meeting regularly at the Ob, Doug showed us one of his "tricks", which was to squeeze his hands together and thus produce a credible fart sound. Hilarious! Often we'd tease him into doing it for us time and time again, and he would comply. I remember Lorne saying: "Give us a fart Doogie", and Doug, grinning like a madman, happily made the sound over and over.

I partnered with Doug in Drama class a number of times. Lorne has tapes of our Drama efforts (God!! Blackmail material for sure!) It is so poignant to watch them--usually we manage to every year at Lorne and Kim's Christmas party. Doug and I go through the pantomime motions of 1st year Charlie-Chaplin wannabes. I pretend to kill him or something, or cut off his arm... and it is all silent.

I wish that we had been more adamant about taping our later, spoken Drama moments. I really miss hearing his voice, and his laugh. I miss seeing the twinkle in his eye and the crinkle of skin that preceded great laughter.

I remember I had someone brow-beaten he and Rene into being in my Drama group, where we had to act out scripts from our scriptwriting class. None of us had practiced really. The script made sense to me, because I'd written it--but Rene and Doug were a little baffled. I finished my lines, something to the effect of being the Chief of the Tribe and having all this power.. and Doug, completely forgetting his lines, grinned up at me and said: "And I suppose that makes you special??" Fantastic!

I have our illustrated yearbook "Flip This" from 1st year, and it has Doug's drawings in it; lush, lovely life drawings and silly, whimsical animation designs. He signed in my book and I treasure the note. Another note I have is on a birthday card from our Dynomight Cartoon days. Scribbled at the back is: "Ich bin ein donut!", which is pure Doug--silly, yet very literary and historical.

Anyway, I am trolling the memories and they come fast and furious. If I dig into them too much I will be crying, and I don't want it--sometimes it is too difficult to stop, you know? Suffice to say that all that I have of Doug, I treasure thoroughly, making me miss him all the harder. He was one of the good ones, and the world is diminished without him.


Algonquin College's Doug Murray Life Bursary
Some great Flamenco guitar music (Doug was an accomplished musician as well!)
And the old Elmdale Tennis Club where he played much tennis >v_v<


Anonymous said...

Very sorry for his passing. He sounded like a very kind and talented man.

Brian Smith said...

I was a friend of Doug's having played tennis with him several times at the ELMDALE and OAC -We also both played flamenco and acoustic guitar so we had some common interests- I have recently been putting in very little information in google searches to see what kind of results I would get - I had forgotten Dougs last name so I just entered in
"Doug Elmdale" and unbelievably I saw your blog - truly amazing! I remember one Saturday morning running down to the folklore center on bank street to pick up a guitar and as I was leaving I saw Doug sitting along having a coffee reading a newspaper - I saw him there and joined him and we chatted about all things tennis and guitar for over an hour! A wonderful memory - I also remember taking a nephew of mine once to the canal to skate and as we were changing into our skates there was Doug ready to head out to the ice - - we only chatted for about 30 seconds - about a year later after Doug's passing I mentioned this sad news to my nephew who remembered Doug very well and even though he only knew him for less than a minute he was very effected to hear the news.
I remember it was very tough at the service for Doug - all his artifcacts has been layed out including pictures form his travels - his tennis gear , guitar songs etc. etc... reminded me of my own life - pictures of the young Doug - the one thing in common was that huge smile and how he loved life - it was truly a tragedy thanks for your message - Brian Smith

Anonymous said...

I remember Doug - Today it was totally out of the blue as I was doodling away on the computer.
On a whim I did what I normally do, ruminate and then see what I can find on Google and here was your wonderful blog Entry.

My highlight of Doug goes to the soccer days of ours at Algonquin. He is still my best and brightest reminder of what it means to be a good sportsman and teammate. I knew he was about to give us his 120%, even when we were losing by 4 points (alot in Soccer terms!) when he'd suck in a big breath, tuck his head down, do a little bit of a jump step antic and then CHARGE into the fray!!! Brilliant! Unforgettable! And he always had a kind supportive word that was never contrived sounding, never sarcastic, always motivating despite my many many soccer mistakes.

I miss Doug. We lost one of the best but I know that he's somewhere bright and happy, probably making some angels laugh in God's Pub, or giving them some prop ups in a Celestial Soccer game somewhere on golden fields..

Thanks for you Blog post. It really hit the spot. :)

jimbo said...

Thank you for your posting and fond remembrances of Doug. I think about him often.
My friendship with Doug goes a back to 1981 in Calgary when we were in a band together. At that time we were best friends. He used to make me laugh so much with his quirky, irreverent, sense of humour. He liked tell stories complete with accents and dialogue; he was very entertaining that way; often the story would end with him giggling (yes he would giggle) and me laughing hysterically.
He was definitely and urban/city guy. We did a back country mountain hike together once in which we got separated and he completely lost his way. I waited for an hour for him but he never showed. Eventually I went back and called the Wardens to help me find him. We found him wandering happily down the trail going in the wrong direction. We had a good laugh about it, but we never ventured outdoors after that. We did urban things together after that.
When Doug got married I wrote a song and sang it at his wedding.
We kept in touch from time to time over the years and wrote to each other a lot when he was teaching in Quatar. I even sent him an old Nikon camera of mine so that he could take pictures while he was there. He took some really beautiful pictures with that camera. I thought he would shoot landscapes and touristy kinds of pictures. But they were the most intimate portraits of the people that he met in his travels; children hamming it up for the camera, old women smiling while they hung the laundry. He could make an instant connection with complete strangers. I was amazed and delighted by those pictures he sent back to me. He was so talented at everything he did. And it makes me cry when I think I won't ever see him again. I wish I could helped him.