About Me

Rob Crowston I'm an award winning multimedia producer with a background, and it turns out a foreground in print, radio, television, and advertising. A sound engineer, producer, writer and voice-over artist. You've heard my work in many radio and TV spots, documentaries, corporate videos, audio walking tours and on-line. I've been an instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, an instructor at Langara Community College. These days, I teach creative multimedia production to young people at the Wachiay Friendship Centre ( WaMM - www.wachiaymultimedia.com ) Along with all that other stuff, I live happily with my wife Shelley McGaw and our dog, Molly in the little community of Courtenay on Vancouver Island. My passions lie in high-end audio, deep in the heart of the Hi-Fi jungle and I care about music, recording, film, fiction and art. I'm fascinated by architecture, design, technology and their impact on our society and our culture.

Down The Street, But Not Too Far

April 25, 2019

Down the Street, But Not Too Far

The moving van exploded into a thousand little pieces of things that a family once owned. There were the easy things; those two things were table legs and what was a wicker laundry hamper lid. But there were confusing things too, just a bunch of stuff; there was stuff everywhere, all over the street. It was a really big mess. 

Mary Kinder was the first one on the to get near the van. She was six. As dust settled, and smoke dissipated, Mary, who had only been a hundred feet from the blast, but luckily, sitting in the protective shade of a small power transformer shed, had been very still for a moment after the big bang sound. Her eyes had shot wide open and her mouth too. She was very still for a few seconds and then, after a little shake of her head, had peered around the metal shed only to see a moving van on its side. There was a small flame growing in the engine department area and clouds of smoldering clothing, facecloths and scraps of table napkins fluttered listlessly and without further purpose back to the ground. 

At first she wasn’t afraid, but she was really, really surprised. She understood that the sudden and tremendously loud blast, the household things, the slowly turning front wheel were all connected. She could see that. She could see the once perfectly white picket fence of Mr. Thompson's house was scarred, blackened and listing awkwardly and she could see that something important or at least very, very unusual had just taken place. But what she couldn't see was why? Why had this happened? Why was there a moving van lying on its side in the middle of her street with a small fire growing under the hood? 

She was first to arrive because the only other people that were closer to the explosion appeared to be dead. Mary wasn’t sure about that. She wasn’t sure about dead. But they looked dead. They weren’t moving and they were all twisted up and they weren’t holding hands and the little boy who had been laughing with his mother when the mother had smiled at Mary as she walked by wasn’t making any noise at all now. Mary thought that it was strange that a Mom could be walking hand in hand with a little boy on a sunny day and that a boy could be laughing and that the Mom could smile at Mary as she passed and then, in a second, be all wrecked and not moving one bit and laying on the street with her dress all ripped and not nice looking anymore. 

By the time she got to the van, the little fire in the engine part of the van had grown and now it seemed to be all over the front part of the truck, but it was quiet, and it didn’t seem dangerous. In fact nothing about what she saw in front of her, on her street, right near her home, seemed as dangerous as the big bang sound that had startled her so much that she had done a little sit-jump even though she was leaning against the hut in the sun with Ed her bear.  

Off in the distance she could hear the sound of a fire truck or a policeman or the ambulance as they got closer. She started to hear the sound of voices too. Her mother’s voice, loud, but not mad loud, and running footsteps. Sounds like old man Carson’s little bell on the handlebar of his electric scooter ringing furiously - the same as when Mr. Carson wanted the boys out of his yard in the evening, and there were other voices and people shouting.  Still, the van, and the fire and the smoke and the mess and all the family’s stuff were quiet, like the middle of the night, as everything lay all crazy and broken in her street and all the voices were far off – even her mom’s voice when she'd been turned sharply by her mother and told to look at her and after that too, when her mother pulled her into a hug that Mary thought might break her.

Her mother smelled just like her mom always smelled, nice and a little bit pretty, but there was another smell too. Not just the smoky smell, or even the faint gasoline smell, but another smell.  A different smell, a not very nice smell. Was it the people's stuff? Did the people that were moving have stuff that smelled bad and now their stuff was all over her street with a van and a mom and a boy and a broken fence?

She felt herself drawn away by her mother, pulled by the arm away from the van and the fire and the smell. Pulled off to the side of the road towards Mr. Carson, who had stopped ringing the bell on his scooter, and was now shouting to some of the other neighbours who were outside on a warm sunny afternoon, just after a moving van had exploded and fallen on its side in the middle of her street.

Mary’s mother tried to shield her from looking at everything by forcing Mary behind her big, soft summer dress, but Mary bent a little at her waist and could see around her mother. She could still see the fire and the van on its side and all the stuff lying around all messy and not put away. She could still see the smoke and the slowly turning tire and the boy and his mom. She could hear her mother sobbing and calling out questions, she could hear the sirens, close now, only a minute away. There were more footsteps too but they were running footsteps now and there were men’s voices and men calling out and men shouting to other men to go get things. Women were crying and shouting and calling for children to look away or go back inside or stay close. 

Then the firemen came and the policemen were right behind them. She had never heard one of those police car rooftop-loudspeakers before, and she was surprised to hear that it sounded just like they did on TV, but way, way louder. Not as loud as the big loud bang that surprised her when she was sitting behind the power transformer hut with Ed the Bear, but that was a different kind of loud. That kind of loud was an all of a sudden, all at once loud and the police car loudspeaker was more like a really loud radio but not a radio playing music, more like just saying loud words that were telling people what to do, and the grown-ups were doing exactly what the loudspeaker said they should do.

Seeing all of this; the smoke and the dust and the little fire and the slowly turning wheel and the fence and the mom and the boy... Mary became, for the first time since the big bang sound, a bit afraid. Afraid like her mother had been a little while ago when Mr. Thompson and Mr. Madison and Mr. Chow and her dad went away. Was this the war? Was the war here now?


True Confessions

March 23, 2018

Let's start with a confession: I am afraid of a few things. Things like rats, snakes and I'm really, really afraid of the Dentist. That's funny 'cause I wake up next to a gal who trundles off to a Dentist's Office every morning and worse, discusses her day with me at days end. I shiver and quake through most of these chats and clearly see her subtle disfavour of my cowardice. To add insult to injury, a whole cast of her McGaw clan work in the field and LOVE to 'talk shop' at any and every fam...

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Vinyl - Hard to Kill

May 10, 2017

Vinyl. Impossible to spell. As a matter of fact, even spelling bee winners cringe at the thought of the word, but it's not just hard to spell, it's hard to kill.

There's been dozens of music delivery formats put out there - 78's and 45's and reel to reel and 8 track, cassettes and MD discs, CD's and MP3's... plus a whole mess of other attempts to get us to buy music. Did you know that Miles Davis's 'Kind of Blue' has been released in every single delivery format that has ever been pushed on...

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The Test

October 30, 2015
This past summer I had the great and grand pleasure to work with a small, dedicated group of young people from the Wachiay Friendship Centre on a message driven creation sponsored by Island Health. The result of those efforts was a little film called 'The Test". It's an HIV awareness video. It was conceived, after many hours of intense debate, written, story-boarded, filmed (on cell phones!) and edited by the group themselves. This is their first effort, and, considering that these people had...
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To Alex and Elyse!

October 13, 2015
What a fine day.
In this enchanted location.
For this magical event.

I'm R C – I am the proud father of Alex and now, too, an over-the-moon with glee father-in-law to the lovely Elyse. Whom, I'm sure we'll all agree, looks stunning and vibrant and so very happy today.  

The only thing that comes even remotely close to the joy you are sharing with us Elyse, is the pure, unadulterated love I see reflected in my son's face every time his gaze happens upon you. Thank-you for that Elyse, what a trul...

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Kerry Catherine Lawrence

September 9, 2015

For My Sister on her passing.

August 24 2015

Just in case, I'm Rob Crowston, K.C.'s big brother.

James Taylor sings:

“The secret of life 

Is enjoying the passage of time.”

We're all here today because my sister, our sister, our daughter, our mother, our wife and our friend Kerry Catherine Lawrence knew, despite everything that was going on with her body, knew better than most, how to enjoy the passage of time.

When K.C. First appeared on my landscape she pretty much ruined everything. 'Til then,...

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End of Joke, Laugh Here

May 4, 2014

The other night I was at a schmooz for a new media company. They were
launching an internet product that they hoped might be the next big thing. Cool
technology, big dollars, forward thinking – all the hype, all the right buzz words.
Lots of people milling about, some old friends in the biz, some newbies and the
usual hangers on and wanna bees you always seem to find at these things.
At one point I found myself standing in line, engaged in conversation with a small
group and one of the fel...
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Martin M Borycki - 26/04/1953 - 07/01/2014

March 19, 2014

My words, my noise from the Celebration of Life for my friend Martin Borycki...

I wrote these notes a few days ago in hope that I'd have something prepared  for today. I guess we'll find out together if that has become so.

It happened that it was Jack Kerouac's birthday.
Like our friend, Kerouac was a poet, a painter, a writer, an American take on a Zen Buddhist with attitude and quite probably certifiably insane.

My friend, our friend, Martin, was all those things and so much more.... he was ...
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The Wait of Words

February 9, 2012

13 years is a long time. A child can become a woman, a man may re-find love.

I cannot stop speeding trains, nor leap to untold heights, but it would seem that I am capable of living long enough to have something precious return to my life and in its happening, move me to my core.

The phone rang, and naturally enough, I answered. At first I thought it was a student, but no, it was someone much closer; much, much closer, and we hadn't spoken for thirteen years.

She called me. I was thrille...

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Why I Love Craigslist

February 9, 2012

Craigslist Ad:

We are a small & casual restaurant in downtown Vancouver and we are looking for solo musicians to play in our restaurant to promote their work and sell their CD. This is not a daily job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get positive response. More Jazz, Rock, & smooth type music, around the world and mixed cultural music. Are you interested to promote your work? Please reply back ASAP.

A Musician's Reply:

Happy New Year! I am a mus...

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