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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pray for Peace in the name of Humanity...


This was not justice...it was murder...as is every execution...as is every death, American or Iraqi that has occurred since this nightmare began.

This is no season of peace.

This is a season of blood.

I pray for us all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Taking the "Christ" out of Christmas

"...And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger...".

--Linus, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown"

It's been a long, long time since Linus reminded the Peanuts gang what the True Meaning of Christmas was.

It's been almost as long, since Christmas had any true meaning left. In the aforementioned Christmas special, Charlie Brown was depressed (BIG surprise) about Christmas being so commercial. Okay, that was the "B" story; the "A" story was about him going on a power trip directing the school Nativity Play.

Up until the last ten, fifteen years, it's safe to say that North America was not as secular a continent as it is today. Christianity held Sway in all things. As American popular culture came into its own in the 1950s, this Christianization of mainstream American culture continued. This can probably be seen as a consequence of the Cold War; the Soviet Union was very much an Atheist nation (More to do with the Russian Orthodox, Coptic and Catholic Churches' complicity with the Tzarists in subjugating the Russian people than Karl Marx's proclamation of religion as the Opium of the masses--Had Marx been born 100 years later, he'd have said the same thing about television.) and America and "The West" was fighting against EVERYTHING the Soviets stood for; hence introducing the phrase "Under God" into the American Pledge of Allegiance and putting "In God We Trust" on American money.

In any event, as American pop culture became heavily Christianized (And anyone who knows anything about how decadent America was prior to the Great Depression and WW2 will know it wasn't really so much, before) in retaliation against Soviet Atheism, it also became rabidly Capitalist--and Commercial--in retaliation against Soviet Communism and Frugality.

For a very long time, Corporate Culture and Christianity worked well together. But slowly but surely commercialism began overtaking the cultural mainstream. Likewise, the social revolution of the 1960s began to create a more pluralist--and inevitably more secular--society.

Gone are the days when Charlie Brown would even have a Nativity play in his school. The multicultural reality means that North America, the "Great Melting Pot", must be sensitive to other cultures and other religions in order to maintain its integrity as an all-embracing place.

On the one hand, taking Nativity Plays and other quaint Christian traditions out of the public life leaves me thinking we've lost something. But perhaps what we lose is ultimately less important than what we can gain.

Arguably, one of the greatest problems in the world today is religious fundamentalism. Jihaddist filth desecrate the Koran to wage terror campaigns against the West; Zionists refer to Talmudic Law and ancient history to proclaim their right to persecute the Palestinian people; so-called Christians from the Pope to Pat Robertson use the Bible to defend everything from the subjugation of women to the persecution of homosexuals. George Bush's tragically misguided AIDS policy of "teaching Abstinence rather than safe sex" is the same kind of Faith-Based Initiative as flying airplanes into buildings in the name of Allah. Ultimately, the former may cause more deaths than the latter.

But I believe that even in our secular world there is a place for religion--all religions--and I believe that people who are sincere in their faith and use it to bring people together instead of alienating people are the true Faithful.

However, there is in North America a growing Fundamentalist Christian movement. Just in time for the holiday season, the Christian Fundamentalists are currently boycotting stores in the US, including Target, Sears and Wal Mart because their decorations and seasonal slogans are secular and multicultural: wishing people "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".

My question is: why?

Christmas hasn't had much to do with the birth of Jesus Christ for a very long time. If anything, I would think that Fundamentalist Christians--hell, any Christians who hate having their faith disrespected--would boycott stores who try and use Christmas as an excuse to sell, sell, sell.

Can there really be any doubt in anyone's mind that Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus, anymore? It's not that it's become secularized; three major religions all have Holy Feasts during this calendar period. No, what is truly un-Christian about Christmas is how commercial it's gotten.

Christmas isn't about Jesus' Birth any more. It's not even about getting together with family. It's an excuse to stay off work, eat a lot of food, and get as much stuff from other people as possible. Whereas within even MY short lifetime many Christmas gifts were hand-crafted, now everybody wants to "get a good haul" on the 25th--or, increasingly, over the 8 nights of Chanukah. Given that Ramadan is even becoming less about the Fasting and Atonement during the day and more about the Feasting at night, no one's religious holidays are safe from this sort of exploitation.

It's not even enough to get people presents; you have to get the "good" presents; expensive presents, and most importantly, MANY presents.

Whether you believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, a Prophet, a philosopher or just a really cool guy, the historical record is there to show that he sermonized against greed, and preached a doctrine of love, selflessness and community. So why, then, do so many Christians object to having Christ's name removed from "the holiday season"? Would YOU want YOUR name to be used for something that celebrated everything you had always stood opposed to?

Maybe it's time to take the "Christ" out of Christmas. His actual birthday was sometime in March or April, anyway. Certainly it would honoour His name better to celebrate His birth than through the completely Godless capitalism and commercialism of the Holiday Season. Come to think of it, Holiday is a contraction of Holy Day. Perhaps we should find a new term for this time of year, altogether.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Frightening New Film...


Mary Poppins, remixed as a horror movie. Funniest shit EVER!

The Music Review They Don't Want You To Read!!

The following post is the un-edited version of my weekly music review over at Confront Magazine:


Steve’s Three-Way 2006-12-06

As a music critic, my favorite phrase is “Debut CD”. I think it has to do with my personality type; my love of the lottery. “Debut CD” can mean so many things: Triumph or Tragedy; Genius or Federline; Music-as-Poetry or Music-at-its-Most-Insipid.

I’ll give you three guesses as to which of the above best describes the debut CD for Drake Bell.

“It’s Only Time” is the title of this CD. Time, it is said, is the fire in which we burn. And I wasted my time on this insipid piece of perky-preteen-pop so YOU don’t have to!

Let me break it down for you: The CD sounds like the worst of late 1980s perky-pop, combined with a fatal overdose of Sesame Street and Disney Channel. Perhaps that’s because previous to his soon-to-be-over career as a “rock-star” (as the “Break-down” on AOL’s music page calls him), Drake Bell was the star of a show on the Nickelodeon network, which has so often brought us the best and the worst in children’s programming.

Drake Bell: It’s Only Time

Steve’s Rating: 11.13 % (11-13 year olds being, I presume, the target audience)

Holiday Shopping Guide: Grandmothers: Buy this for your Ritalin-addicted tone-deaf little Tween Grandson today!!

From wonder bread I moved on to hot chocolate funk-ay with Brian McNight’s new CD, “10”. Listening to this CD is like spilling a warm beverage in your lap: you get a sudden warm feeling and then you’re drenched. There. I said it: I listened to the CD and even I’M wet.

After listening to this CD, all I can say is that McNight is the heir and rightful King to sit upon the throne of Barry White, and all other funk-master soul artists who have given us such great f**k music over the years.

Brian McKnight: “10”

Steve’s Rating: 110.00% (And DEFINITELY NC-17)

Holiday Shopping Guide: Gentlemen: Stuff her stocking with this CD. Batteries not included.

The movie “Love, Actually” is set around Christmastime in London. One of the many subplots of this film is an aging British punk rocker who’s doing a ghastly Christmas CD in a cynical bid to make money trading on his name.

It must be said that this is pretty much how I approached Billy Idol’s CD. Then on his Myspace site I found the video for him performing “Jingle Bell Rock”. Good lord…how to describe it? Imagine Spike from Buffy / Angel in the stupidest “Rockabilly Swing” video imaginable, singing “Jingle Bell Rock.” Then go to http://www.myspace.com/billyidol and see it for yourself.

This album is hilarious. I mean, we know in Buffy that even with a soul Spike was still basically evil at heart; the same can be said of Billy Idol; that’s why we loved the little ponce despite all his bluster and airs.

But nonetheless watching him embarrass himself doing this video, listening to him croon Christmas carols…the Hawaiian Electric guitar solo at the beginning of “O, Christmas Tree”…never even mind “Here Comes Santa Claus”. It is like that soulless monster (From the movie “Love, Actually”) has come to life!

This is either the most cynical of all holiday ploys and proof of the Antichrist’s return to Earth or Billy Idol is a comedic genius of Andy Kaufman proportions, conducting the greatest self-parody since William Shatner.

Billy Idol: Happy Holidays

Steve’s Rating: 100.00 %

Holiday Shopping Guide: Younger Siblings: Buy this for the 40something recovering heroin addict in YOUR life!

Friday, December 01, 2006

For my next trick...



I have decided that I am going to revive and rewrite a novel I worked on many years ago; a piece commissioned by Tom Leroux, an old friend.

But I have a new idea, a new twist about the doors in Crossroads...and how they will relate to another story idea I've got started, as well.

This is going to be most interesting...

Read all about the revival of Crossroads here, and hopefully over at Tom's blog, as well.

Of course, I've yet yo actually talk to him about it, but this will serve as a good litmus test as to how often he reads my blog.

I'm not a jerk...I have asperger's syndrome, thank you.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The REAL Rock and Roll Lifestyle.


So last Tuesday found me at the Metropolis, recording part two of my interview with Ryan Barkwell from Idle Sons.

I was there for another interview (More on that later) as well, in my role as a music correspondant for Confront Magazine. In the last 60 days, I have seen an entirely new dimension added to my budding career as an author: Now, I am a music journalist, as well. The gig still doesn't pay much, but I'm branching out, expanding my circle of friends in other domains.

While waiting for Ryan who was off doing something (I'd shown up early enough to go for a coffee up the street and still show up early for the sit-down) I spoke with a record exec, who quizzed me about my novel. Very neat, I must say, as the record company in question has print media connections and associations.

Anyway, Idle Sons are currently on tour with Three Days Grace, Theory of a Deadman and Mobile. And yes, I'm giving out links to their sites, because these guys all deserve it: They are working their asses off, ladies and gentlemen; they are putting a great deal of effort into what they do.

The days of the 80s Rock God who gets everything handed to him on a silver platter are long gone. Now, Artists have to tour to promote themselves.

Know what's involved in a tour?

You get up at the crack of dawn for rehearsals, interviews, sound-checks, photographs, more rehearsals, more sound-checks, more photographs...this goes on all day, constantly, with no down time. And if you think that any of that is easy to do six days a week, being on from dawn to however late the "sponsored" after-concert promotion event lasts.

Now, that does not mean that these performers don't enjoy what it is they're doing. On the contrary, they very much enjoy the work and they are thankful--only too thankful--that they can get it. And they work their asses off, because they know damn well that if they don't sell enough tickets, sell enough residuals and most importantly sell enough CDs they will not be given the opportunity to make another record.

It is just that hard, right now.

Now many among us think that musicians usually have "fallback" positions. Like the rest of us, some do, some don't. Some plan ahead, some plan poorly, some wouldn't know a plan if it came up and bit them in the ass. Same goes for average joes as goes for rock musicians: This is a career. This is their specialty. This is what they have trained best to do. It is their discipline, it is their art, it is their vocation, just as some people are born with a love to teach and others are born with a love to crunch numbers, as some people are born to write code, some people are born to make music and work hard for their dreams.

So, how do you have a fallback position on a dream?

What are you supposed to fall back onto when you can no longer do what you love best?

Everything else is just settling.

And these guys, the guys that I interviewed, the guys that I just plain talked to, the guys, who, to be sure I'm old enough to neither know what band their in nor really care, because they're just plain folk when you meet them one-on-one.

And that's why I give a shit about Idle Sons, Mobile, Theory of a Deadman and Three Days Grace: These guys are regular folk; they're not ego-filled celebrities; obviously they have a desire for attention--they're performers. But that is what fuels them to do what they do so well, to work as hard as they do. These guys are busy. And when they make time to not just do an interview, but to actually talk to someone, to actually connect with you? That makes all the difference in the world.

So, no. I don't give a shit about personalities or celebrities that just want the attention. Give me a Michael Franti and Spearhead; give me a Steven Oliverez, an author who busts his ass to sell his book, to get out there and show people he's got something worthwhile. I'd rather hang out with a Ryan Barkwell, an intelligent, well-spoken young man whose passion is drumming and whose mind is always racing in reason and thought and philosophy, or have a beer with a William Thomas Leroux, Evangelical Minister of the First Church of the Mac, W3C Compliancy, Web Hosting and Belly Dancers, or share a philosophical Alice-with-the-Catterpillar afternoon haze with Tammie Morahan, who is trying to be the ante-rockstar. Most of all I live to hang out with Angel Gaudet-Karmazenuk, my best friend, my lover, my wife, my editor-in-chief at Confront Magazine.

And if you think sleeping with the boss has any privileges, let me assure you, it does not. Angel runs a tight ship, when it comes to the Magazine. And we're all going places. Each of us in our own way, each of us in our own ship, each of us heading in the same direction, though not necessarily together.

Let's put some positive energy out there, boys and girls; lets give ourselves some much deserved praise and love for working so hard to follow our passions.

These are people I can relate to; people who are just trying to do what they always enjoyed the most.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time to let you all know what's been going on...


I know, I know...the Kspace Universe has seen a lot of "trial balloons" get thrown up of late...the whole podcast thing (dead) the wi-fi coop thing (status unknown) and given very little follow-through with the marketing of The Unearthing as I had promised to do.

The truth is I've managed to get to work on a lot of writing related projects, while I try to come up with about three grand so that I can actually launch the marketing of my book.

See, I need to order many copies, so that I can send them out to be reviewed by newspapers, magazines, websites and fansites, as well as do a proper book reading or two.

In the meantime, I've also become a lot more involved with Confront Magazine, where under the moniker of Steve K. I've been working as a music critic and recently, I've picked up additional duties now as a rock reporter; I've done interviews with Idle Sons and Mobile. I gotta say, being able to go backstage at these rock venues and chill with the guys behind the scenes is pretty neat.

Part One of the Idle Sons interview is up right now, with part two to follow later this week; you should check it out.

I wish I had more good news about The Unearthing; I wish I had ANY news about The Unearthing. I've sold a few copies, at least I think I have; the number of copies that Amazon keeps in stock goes up and down on a weekly basis. SOMEBODY's reading it, and to the ten of you, let me say thank you.

I hope I'm not related to more than six of you.

I promise...I am keeping this weblog...it's not going to go dead...but how about you guys show a little love and buy a book or two?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Doing My Part for the Revolution...



Today at the Esperanza I noticed a plethora of people who, like me, come there with their laptops in order to get some work done.

I don't know what came over me, but I started going up to everyone I saw with a laptop, asking them what they thought about pitching in and forming a "Wi-Fi Co-op" at the cafe.

I gave out my business card (Which reads "Steve Karmazenuk, Author" has my K-rune icon and my email addy and when I ran out of business cards.The idea is, as the Esperanza doesn't have wi-fi, that we would all pitch in whatever amount to get wi-fi internet access into the place. If we can get enough interested people together, I'll approach the Esperanza owner with our offer--we pay for it as a coop and the proceeds go towards maintaining the service.
Everybody I spoke to LOVES the idea.

How do I get myself INTO these things?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Coming Soon...


Once again, all apologies for the fact that I haven't been posting of late. I've been very busy.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that very shortly I will be podcasting and providing links from this online journal to the podcasts.

See you soon!

Friday, October 20, 2006

SALES...My Gods, I've made SALES...



Holy SHIT I can't believe it...I don't know how many books I've sold...but at Barnes&Noble.com when you look up "The Unearthing Steve Karmazenuk" there it is:


B&N Customers Who Bought This Book Also Bought
Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
1984
Erich Fromm, George Orwell
Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
Slaughterhouse-Five: Or, the Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance with Death
Kurt Vonnegut
Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff
There it is!! up in print...Look at the company The Unearthing is keeping: Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Orson Scott Card, Kurt Vonnegut...Ayn Rand...

Jumping Jesus...I'd rather be selling more copies but, SHIT! I'm being read by people who enjoyed reading the GIANTS of Speculative Fiction!

This is truly a validating moment.

NOW BUY MY BOOK ME NEED MONEY!!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Announcing the Official Site for The Unearthing

The official website for The Unearthing is now up and running.
I am asking everyone to please spread the word about this site; encourage people to visit, to read the sample chapters available there and to buy the book.
Most importantly, encourage them to tell others.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

...And we are in operation--sort of...



Well folks, with the release of The Unearthing imminent, the updates for this weblog will probably be with increasing frequency.

Today, I got my complimentary copies of my book. They came in the mail, just as I was about to leave for work.

My mom was promised the first copy, which leaves me with one. However, on my first order of books -- providing I buy over $50 -- I will recieve a 50% discount.

This, you see, is how Publish America makes most of its money.

Where the shortsighted see a scam, I see an opportunity.

First, I am currently working (Namely asking advice of friends and associates who know something about marketing and publicity) on a marketing strategy that is within my since-losing-my-job-at-Bell finances (piddling to nil), including, of course, sending copies of the book out to be reviewed by certain papers and by certain genre websites, fansites and other online resources, not to mention strategic "dropping" of the book in certain coffee shops, book-stores, planning a waayy cool launch party, etc.

In order to make any of the above marketing strategies (Among others not yet "official") come true, I need to have several copies of the book on hand. I am therefore trying to raise capital to fund a major book purchase. I need money, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm not asking for money, either. I'm asking you to buy books. I am willing to pass my savings onto you. Click on the link at the top of this blog to order my book through me (PayPal required). You'll pay $20.00 USD + S&H; a savings of 20% off Amazon!

Can't afford it? Okay, tell you what: Click on the button ABOVE the blog, the "Donate to Kspace Now" button and send what you want; I'll send YOU an electronic copy of the book (A $12.00 value) absolutely FREE!

Don't want to send money? EMAIL ME with some advice--or the names of people with a lot of disposable income who are looking for a write-off to invest into!

The Internet's kind of like PBS...except I don't have Kermit the Frog to tell you why I need your money to bring you quality programming.

Come on, people! I need you now, more than ever!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Launch Date Confirmed: November 13 2006


The Unearthing
Steve Karmazenuk
A massive alien artifact is discovered beneath the desert outside of Laguna, New Mexico. Before its existence can be concealed, the object unearths itself and news of the discovery is leaked to the international media.
As religious leaders strive to reconcile the artifact’s existence with their faiths, and governments wrestle over its many secrets and how to exploit them, ordinary men and women around the world struggle to make sense of a perpetual onslaught of live and unfiltered news broadcasts about the object.
When a survey team is sent in to examine and explore it, they discover that not only is the artifact still operational, but it is conscious and has been waiting for tens of millions of years…

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Experiment: The Countdown Begins.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present to you the next exciting installment of the Steve Karmazenuk Experiment To Independantly Publish and Successfully Market His Novel, The Unearthing; The Experiment for short.

The news is beyond good. The final burst of "Hurry Up and Wait" has happened: The book went to press on Monday. It is oddly fitting that a book that I have worked so hard on, worked so dilligently thusfar to promote and produce, would go to press on the Eleventh of September, five years after The Event.

And although I promise to return to topic and talk about What Comes Next, I would like to comment on the date, itself.

September 11 is not just about the fall of the Twin Towers, but the Towers themselves are part of a greater symbology than one might think.

Yes, they are a symbol of the worst tragedy in modern American history; yes, they are a symbol of a moment that galvanized a nation and plunged the world into chaos. They are a symbol of heroes: the firemen and policemen who suffered the Ultimate Sacrifice, the brave men and women in uniform who followed, both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a very real sense the Fall of the Towers is a symbol of great change; change that comes at a terrible price.

That is certainly the meaning of the card, The Tower in most standard Tarot Decks. But there is only one Tower in a Tarot deck; so for two towers to fall, the card's alternate meaning, when the card is reversed, would be the one we would need to look at: A change for the BETTER that comes at a Terrible price.

And the date itself: September 11th; many, many important and significant events have happened on that day.

Let's look at a few:

--in 1226, eight hundred years ago this year, the Roman Catholic Church began the practice of perpetual adoration, a most significant religious vigil.

--in 1609, explorer and friend to all Canadian shoppers Henry Hudson landed on Manhattan Island.

--in 1773, Benjamin Franklin's satirical essay Rules by Which A Great Empire May Be Reduced To A Small One was printed for the first time, by The Public Advertizer.

--In 1814 the Battle of Plattsburgh ended, thus ending the War of 1812.

--In 1906, one hundred years ago, Mahatma Gandhi started the Non-Violence movement, Satyagraha.

--In 1943 the Nazis began liquidation operations in the ghettos of Minsk and Lida.

--In 1962 the Beatles recorded their first single, Love Me Do.

--Three years later on September 11 1965 the First Cavalry Division of the US Army arrived in Viet Nam.

Clearly, many great and terrible things have happened on this day. I hope that the ever-changing historical significance of this one day will carry with it some power to change my fate, once again.

September 11 2006: The Unearthing by Steve Karmazenuk goes to press.

November 13 2006: Official launch date ofThe Unearthing.

Another post will soon follow, outlining the next steps.

Monday, September 11, 2006

11 September, 2006

On this day I hope that I am not alone in my belief that we all just want to live our lives in peace.

On this day I hope that I am not alone in my belief that our similarities are more important than our differences.

On this day I hope that I am not alone in the knowledge that if we all just took the time to listen to one another we can accomplish miracles.

On this day...
I Know I'm Not Alone.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

...And now for your moment of Zen:


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

PRE ORDER "The Unearthing" NOW AND RECIEVE A FREE PDF EBOOK COPY

By clicking the button below you will be pre-ordering
"The Unearthing"
by Steve Karmazenuk
for $10.00 USD.

The payment will be applied to the purchase price of
"The Unearthing"
when the book is released this fall, from Publish America.

You will be notified by email when the transaction is completed

A massive alien artifact is discovered beneath the desert outside of Laguna, New Mexico. Before its existence can be kept secret, the artifact unearths itself and news of the discovery is leaked to the international media.

Religious leaders struggle to fit the alien artifact into the context of their beliefs. Governments wrestle over the artifact’s secrets and how to exploit them. Ordinary men and women around the world are forced to confront the new reality as events unfold live and unfiltered during global news broadcasts.

And when a survey team is sent in to examine and explore the artifact, they discover that not only is it still operational, but it is conscious and has been waiting for tens of millions of years...

ACT NOW AND RECIEVE A FREE COPY OF

"The Unearthing"

PDF-FORMAT EBOOK!


RESERVE YOUR COPY TODAY!















Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Coming Soon...


I must once again apologize, dear readers, for the delay in between postings.

However, this post will reveal all--at least, all that I wish to reveal.

First, I have been, of late, blessed to be working on many projects at once. Some of them could easily be classed as long-term, however I believe you will be excited to hear about some short-term projects of mine, now available on that Internet thing they're always jawing about:

CONFRONT Magazine Online just debuted, along with a scathing attack by myself, against the latest offering from Bob Dylan.

This week I'll be reviewing KASBIAN's latest offering, "Empire" and introducing a new feature to my article, "What You Should Listen To", my own personal pick of a new, old, or even bootleg CD you should listen to.

And over at PHYTE Magazine, I'm told a major site redesign will now feature a new look (AND NEW CHAPTERS!!) for Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind.

As well, PHYTE will also feature an article about the self-publishing of The Elder Staves, as well as a review of the book, itself.

As I went to my favourite cafe the other night, I happened upon an intriguing film by Michael Franti, titled I know I'm Not Alone, for which I will be writing another article for PHYTE magazine. I'll also be interviwing the fascinating Deborah Bassett, whose dedication made her invaluable to the effort to screen I know I'm Not Alone here in Montreal.

And finally, I've heard from many of you that you'd like to have a downloadable version of Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind made available to you. Well take heart! Very soon I will be offering Nevermind for sale as a downloadable ebook, from both this site AND PHYTE Magazine!

Until then, True Believers, EXCELCIOR!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Dark Side of the Force...Darth Vader being an asshole.



I came across this video while browsing online...the premise is simple: Darth Vader decides to be a dick to General Veers.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Blogging Goes Wireless!



Yessir!

Thanks to the purchase earlier today of a wireless router, my wife and I are both able to be on the Internet at the same time--from two different rooms of the house!

So as of right now, I am making my first "wireless" update of my weblog.

First off, to let you know: I've finished proofing the galley copy of The Unearthing, and I sent it back to Publish America; pre-production is nearly done; they'll send me some cover art to look at and that should be the final phase before the book goes into production.

And THEN...

The REAL work will begin: Promotion and marketing of The Unearthing.

I have had months to think about this one long and hard; there's still enough money in the bank for me to do at least PART of the marketing strategy I'd devised. Be sure that this means at long last The Experiment will go forward; I expect that before Christmas I'll have books to market and promote...Hopefully I'll have some by the Fall.

I'm waiting until I have physical copies before I detail what my marketing strategy is; rest assured, however, that I will be posting about it here, but only when the time is right.

Until then...watch this page!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

...Whenever I damn well please, THAT's When!

If you've already read this post, please check the update notice at the bottom.


Well, the way I see it, if JK Rowling can use that answer when she's asked when she's going to finish the next Harry Potter book, I can CERAINLY use than answer when asked when I'll be updating this blog.

No?

Oh, okay...

Let me then apologize to you, dear readers (All six of you) for not having updated sooner.

But I have a REALLY GOOD EXCUSE!

No, really!

See, I started a new job.

And my darling Angel has started a new magazine.

Which meant we had to get a new computer.

And I had to load Microsoft Office onto it.

So, yes: we now have two computers. However, we still don't have a router, so only one of us can be online at a time. As she has been diligently at work setting up the magazine, Angel has needed the 'net more often than I, so for the most part when I have a chance to go online it's usually just to waste time as opposed to do anything as responsible as update my weblog.

However, with both of us having otherwise completely unfettered access to computers, I've been unusually productive of late, with regards to my writing. I've been going great guns transcribing The Darkness and the Stars from longhand into the computer.

Likewise, now that Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind is squared away and up and running on PHYTE magazine, I've got no roadblocks left to my creative processes.

And considering that for over a year now every fucking time I sit down to try and write a new, original story it always ends up wadded up and thrown in the trash, I'm also quite happy to report that I have been working diligently on the outline for a brand new novel! Yay me!

Anway, that's it from me. I promise to try and be a little more diligent about updating regularly in the future.

UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!

News of a most anticipated nature!

I've just gotten 'round to checking my email and PUBLISH AMERICA HAS SENT ME MY PAGE PROOF COPY OF THE UNEARTHING!!!

So now begins the job of proofing my novel!

HUZZAH! HUZZAH!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


YESSSS...

...heard back from my contact at Publish America; The Unearthing is now with a proofer, who will be getting in touch with me once the initial proofreading is done!

Moving forward at a snail's pace, yes, but MOVING FORWARD NONETHELESS!

...stay tuned...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Taking the PHYTE on the Road!



My wife Angel and I will be joining our friends Kevin and Tammie will be heading up to Edgefest this coming weekend.

We're doing this in part because Angel is the music editor for PHYTE Magazine and she will be interviewing music acts 30 Seconds to Mars, Hedley and Matchbook Romance. Likewise, PHYTE Magazine will also be reviewing the overall Edgefest Experience and I'm sure we can count on Tammie, AKA the ANTE-Rockstar for some colour commentary. We're all going to Edgefest and we're all going to have something to say about it for PHYTE.

PHYTE Magazine, you'll recall, is the online home of my novel, Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind.

In other PHYTE-related news, I'll be interviewing author Steven Oliverez about the success of his novel, The Elder Staves. Steven, like me, is an independant author who used the New Media, viral campaigning as well as traditional grassroots campaigning to promote his book; he's listed as one of Amazon.com's top 100.

As for my other project, The Unearthing, well I'm still waiting to hear from Publish America, but the last news I had was the book was indeed in pre-production and the galley copy could show up in my inbox at any time.

You'll notice that the Donate To Kspace button has made a return. This is because I'm leaving no avenue unexplored in my attempt to fund the promotion of my novel. So while you're reading this, why not make a donation? The universe you save might be your own.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Imagine for one moment...

Let's imagine you, for a moment.
You live in a relatively secular, cosmopolitain city, raised in a culture that you have always known.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that this culture is one that you know is far from perfect, but one you understood: It's authoritarian, and therefore, to you, Mr Average Citizen, it is one you have always been familiar with: From your strict parents, to your teachers, to your friends' families, there has always been authoritarianism in your life.

You are aware of the benefits of this life; you are also aware of the risks. Despite this authoritarianism, each citizen is left free to decide whether to conform to society's mandate or rebel. You are aware of the benefits offered to conformity, you are aware of the risks of non-conformity.
Now, imagine a hostile foreign country, a foreign country that your own country has gone to war with coutless times in the past, attacks and invades your country and destroys the life you have always known.
Everything is changed--dramatically. There's no more television, no more telephone. No electricity, heat, running water or shelter. No job to go to--because your city's downtown core has been reduced to smouldering piles of rubble. You've lost friends. You've lost family. You've lost everything you've ever taken for granted, everything you've ever known, everything you have ever understood.
After this shock-and-awe bombing attack, your government is overthrown, and people who have been disloyal to that government--a government you have never liked, but always accepted--are applauding the first divisions of enemy soldiers marching through the streets.
Imagine promises made by these troops--promises of a swift end to the outages, of rebuilding your country, of ushering in a new way of life--promises made by their leaders, are broadcast everywhere for you to hear.
Imagine that instead, the foreign government's corporate sponsors come in, and institute the kind of horrible, criminal corruption that you'd only heard of, in reference to the countries of the Former Soviet Union.
Imagine finally being fed up of the cahos and deciding that it was better to do something, to fight back against this invading force than to just accept that your entire life was a cahotic ruin.
Now imagine that isntead of being an American, or a Canadian or a European that you are an Iraqi.
Just imagine.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A letter from Michael, and my reply.

Dear Mr. Karmazenuk:

Many thanks for your e-mail. What you are going through is no doubt very hard. But the decisions that we have to make to transform our business in this increasingly competitive environment are also not easy and they are not made lightly. Particularly given the impact that they have on our people.

We must, however, rethink and change the way we operate so that we can assure Bell’s success for another 125 years. Planning for the future of the whole company is a significant challenge and big part of my role as CEO.

Like virtually everyone in the company, I am paid a base salary plus incentives that are tied directly to the operating performance of the business and an assessment of my personal performance by the people I report to – the Board of Directors.

I also believe that incentive payments should be carefully controlled and made only when justified. So at least twice I have not accepted the incentives offered to me. In one case, it was a bonus associated with the reduction of capital expenditures. I turned that down because I thought doing that work was simply part of my job. Then, last year, I again refused my bonus in the wake of the billing issues in wireless because, at the end of the day, as CEO I was ultimately accountable.

When I have accepted an incentive compensation, I have made it a point to invest every nickel of bonus in our company because I believe deeply in the importance of what we do and where we are going. And because I have confidence that we will get there.

Best regards,

Michael Sabia
***
Dear Michael,

First, let me say that I am impressed that you deigned to reply to me at all, even though you only managed to do so one full month after I sent my email.

You’ll be happy to know I’ve decided to forego visiting you at the shareholders’ convention today, in favour of staying home and getting a head start on the domestic upkeep I’d scheduled for the weekend. Some other time, perhaps; I know a place that makes a great CafĂ© Americano.

As you have taken the time to reply to me, I think it only polite to likewise take the time to reply to you. Given that I have not yet been able to find employment elsewhere (Apparently prospective employers don’t put as much stock on someone having five or more years with Bell Canada on their resume as they used to), I have the time to do so more promptly than you.

I would like to first of all address the completely impersonal nature of your letter to me. It smacks almost of being form-fed, given the parroting of Bell Canada’s usual line about rethinking operations, remaining competitive and how hard it is to decide to lay people off. I won’t be cowed by such mindless platitudes. Frankly, I’m surprised it took you a month to have one of your underlings send out such a rubber-stamp response.

The fact of the matter is that despite increased competition, Bell Canada still maintains a stranglehold on telecommunications in this country. As unfortunate as that is, it is nonetheless fallacious to suggest the mass layoffs you’ve overseen as CEO are necessary for the company to remain competitive.

Bell posts and continues to post record profits and none of its divisions are losing money. This, despite a continually degrading level of customer service and across-the-board problems with the products and services offered. I think it is therefore safe to say that Bell Canada does not have to worry about remaining competitive.

So why not be honest, Michael? Why not admit that the people you work for, the board of directors and the majority shareholders of Bell Canada Enterprises are demanding more golden eggs from the arse of Bell Canada’s goose? The truth shall set you free, as they say.

I also find it particularly offensive that you so unapologetically defend your “decision” to accept the five-fold salary increase that has fattened your own coffers. That you have decided to re-invest your rather inflated pay rise back into the company suggests not any nobility or spirit of fidelity on your part, but instead simple insider knowledge that the company is going to continue to be engorged with profits, that will be reflected in stock dividends.

Your salary went from one point twenty-one million to six point seventy-two million per anum. That much of this is divested into stock options and various “incentive payouts” is irrelevant; you are getting roughly five and a half million dollars more per year than before. That works out to a tithe of about one thousand, three hundred and seventy-five dollars per employee sacked in the last few months, by the way; a little less than what I would gross each pay period.

On average, the employees you care so much about only get a one or two per cent annual increase in their rate of pay; it’s not even indexed with the cost of living. Yet you feel that you are somehow justified in taking such an obscene pay rise? I’d ask how you sleep at night, but the most obvious answer is, on the most comfortable bed that money can buy.

That you turned down previous pay packet increases only demonstrates that you were slightly less cynical in your approach to your job than you are now. That you honestly think I would believe it was an attack of conscience on your part that made you decide to refuse those previous raises tells me you underestimate the intelligence of your employees, both current and former.

I wonder Michael, eleven years after your mother’s death, how does it feel to have undermined so much of what she fought for as one of Canada’s leading feminist icons? Bell Canada’s employees are, after all, majoritarily women. Interesting, is it not, that Bell Canada’s upper management is generally masculine? Pay equity, outsourcing, closing and consolidating call centers and business offices…you’ve put quite a few women out of a job. Mom would be so proud.

I won’t bother to appeal to your sense of morality or principles; as Bell Canada Enterprises’ Corporate Executive Officer I doubt you have much of either to spare. You’ve successfully outwitted, outplayed and outlasted all of the competition both within and outside of the company. I can only hope for your sake that selling your soul for seven figures is worth it to you in the end; power and privilege are very cold bedmates in one’s twilight years.

One thing we can both agree on, however, is that Bell Canada Enterprises will, for better or worse, continue to exist long after we are gone. But be very careful what direction you steer the ship, Michael. Morally questionable practices like disregarding the letter and spirit of Collective Agreements, outsourcing in favour of Third-World slave labour and cutting jobs and disrupting lives and families lead to very murky waters.

My sincerest regards,

S.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Official Launch...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PHYTE Magazine has officially launched Steve Karmazenuk's new novel, Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind.

The novel is one of a series of innovative, new online-format features available exclusively from PHYTE Magazine, as it continues to create the New Mainstream.

Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind is the story of six friends from different backgrounds studying at—or coasting through—John Abbott College at the height of the Grunge Era in Montreal, from the years 1991 to 1994. What brings them together is their love of cigarettes, music, coffee, dope, sex and hanging out. The story revolves around events in each of the character’s lives as narrated from their individual points of view.

SOPHIE ROSAIRE is a raven-haired, voluptuous twenty-year-old with a severe allergy to committed relationships and a powerful thirst for adventurous sex. She loves her friends and will do anything for them - or with them, depending on her urges.

WILL BAKER is the nineteen year old lead singer/songwriter for the Psychic Circus, a college-bar band based out of Sainte Anne’s, John Abbott College’s home town. A heartbreaking betrayal briefly drives Will into Sophie’s arms - and bed - and this decision will change Will’s life forever.

PASCAL LEBRUN is twenty, the guitarist for Psychic Circus and Sophie’s oldest friend. He has been secretly in love with her for years, though he wouldn’t dare tell her. He suffers in silence through Sophie’s sexual escapades and likewise through his own painful, unsatisfying relationships with his family and his unfaithful and deceptively cruel girlfriend. Music is perhaps the only thing Pascal loves as much as he does Sophie, and he forms the Lennon half of a Lennon/McCartneyesque songwriting partnership with Will Baker.

JULIE KENNEDY is a seventeen year old suburban punk and drug addict, battling her habits and her boyfriend to regain her sobriety. The onetime drummer for the Psychic Circus, Julie is also so severely depressed that she embarks on a quest for new meaning in her life, a new thrill and a way to erase the dark times that still overshadow her.

BRIAN KLEIN is a preppy nineteen year old West Island boy, basing his image almost entirely on Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90210, from his bleach-blonde pompadour to his extra-long sideburns. Brian is struggling with his burgeoning bisexuality and conflicting attractions for Alec Sorvino and Tanya Heihachi, two very opposite people, both in gender and attitudes.

JEFF MCBRIDE is Julie’s ex-boyfriend-to-be and the bassist and for Psychic Circus. Jeff is an opportunistic, amoral self-centered schemer who thinks nothing of using his friends and family, manipulating his girlfriend, or neglecting the band that he formed and helped lead to near-success if it means he can get high. His love of heroin and his penchant for petty crime will shape his destiny and the destiny of his friends in ways no one can hope to understand.

Together these six friends weave their way through interconnected adventures at times comic, tragic, erotic, deranged and incredible. Even as their lives diverge along different paths their love for one another keeps them in convergence through a period of time that culminates in Kurt Cobain’s suicide and with it the end of the Grunge Era in April of 1994.

The novel will be released at a rate of six chapters per month, available exclusively from PHYTE Magazine, at http://www.phyte.ca/nevermind/nevermind.html. Future plans include a trade paperback-format release of the complete novel.

Steve Karmazenuk lives in Montreal and works in telecommunications. He has written and published several articles and op-ed pieces. His first novel, The Unearthing is slated to be released later in 2006 by Publish America. Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind is available exclusively through PHYTE Magazine. He is married and lives with his wife and their seven cats, two birds and several fish.

For more information about PHYTE Magazine or Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind, contact PHYTE Magazine's Media Director, Kevin LeClair, at eon_5@msn.com

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Permanent Addiction...



I have long wanted to get a tattoo, and today, to celebrate the upcoming publication of my book, I decided to have my skin marked permanently with the K-Rune logo that I designed. The rune itself figures largely in the plot of The Unearthing, as well as forthcoming volumes of the story. It is the meaning of the rune that is important. But, I won't spoil it for you, any further. Instead, here is picture of my tat, which is on the inside of my left wrist:


It didn't hurt all that much, and it was a rewarding experience. I've made the decision that for every original novel (or first novel of a series) that I write and have published, I will get a new tattoo.

Just thought I'd share.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This is the moment, or Condoleeza Rice for President '08

This could be the moment that everything changes.

The US has stated that if Iran agrees to halt Uranium enrichment they're ready to enter talks.

Condoleeza Rice has made the ouverture.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5034228.stm

At this point, in what I must confess I find to be an astoundingly and atypically reasonable proposal of diplomacy.

At this point, not only is war with Iran avoidable, It is now up to Iran to avoid this war
I truly did not expect this gesture from the United States' government It surprises me and gives me hope.

It gives me hope because for the first time since before Clinton, Bush Sr., or Reagen, it is entirely possible that cooler heads will prevail in America's Middle East foreign policy.
Is Israel ready to extend the same olive branch?

Most importantly, is IRAN?

I pray that they do...but I suspect they won't. Especially considering that only yesterday, ahead of this announcement by the 'States, Iran precluded nuclear talks with them, instead making an ouverture to the EU.

The question is, then, is this just a cynical attempt by the Bush Administration to curry public support of their planned invasion? Because the pundits and talking heads of the Media WILL seize this as a means of saying "See? Iran really isn't being reasonable!" should Iran refuse. If the 'States pull out of Iraq for Iran, they'll have a more popular war to fight.

With a more "acceptable" war, the United States would have three nations in the Middle East under its direct, if albeit tenuous, control. The disintegrating situation in Iran could alter drastically when the two countries' fundamentalistic Muslim governments combine. Iran is, after all, a strong vocal supporter of the Iraqi parliament.

The result would be all-out war in the Middle East. After prolonged carnage with "Collateral" carnage in the West and especially the United States by terrorist cells.

After this prolonged and universally destructive war, a new Persian state would emerge. Either it would carve up the Afghanistan-Iraq-Iran delta into loosely affiliated theocratic provinces, or the power would be centralized in an American Colonial Persia, composed of the former Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, controlled or administered by an American governor.

But what if the war is avoided? What if talks to begin, and what if those talks succeed? Only Nixon could go to China. Can only Rice go to Iran? Because as Secretary of State, Rice is the only person levelheaded enough in Bush's power sphere to dream up this offer, and the most likely person to go to direct talks with Iran; a woman in power, an automatic, historical symbol of The West Versus The East. Likewise, as Secretary of State, it would essentially be her prerogative to go.

Is she already being groomed to replace Cheney as Vice President? Is she already being prepared for the 2008 election?

To be honest, I do believe this to be the case. Unless some charismatic straight-shooter comes out as a Democratic Party candidate, a Hip, Young, New Charmer - think the Kennedy-Nixon debates, or Slick Willie playing sax on Arsenio Hall - the best that the Dems will have to offer in a desperate Hail Mary play to beat Presidential Hopeful Condoleeza Rice would be Bernie Sanders with Hillary as his running mate.

I think a Sanders/Rodham-Clinton ticket would look more like Mondale/Ferraro than it would Bill and Al. But a Rice/McCain - or dare I dream and say a Rice/Powell ticket would be the ticket to ride.

Rice is more of a moderate Republican on domestic issues, though she is a hawk when it comes to foreign policy. This would be good for America during a post-2008 America, where the War in the Middle-East is sure to still be ongoing. She'd protect America's interests abroad by staying the course and hopefully listening to her military advisers on how to do it, while very firmly defending America's diplomatic and commercial issues with the emerging from the fledgling economic Superpower of the European Union; ten more years and it will probably be the European Republic.

Meanwhile Rice's Africa policy would probably be the most beefed-up in decades. Not only because she (and hopefully her ex-military Veep) is Black, but because of the Public's perception of this first Black President of the United States would be shaped by the still-influential (In other words everybody but Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) Black Community leaders and their inevitable very public demands for action on Africa.

This would present Rice with an historic opportunity to expand the current definition of "Terrorism" to include the atrocities engineered by some of the barbaric governments and juntas that prowl the Dark Continent.

Nevermind bringing decency and honour back to the White house; President Condoleeza Rice could bring decency and honour back to the Republican Party, heralding back before Nixon first soiled it with corruption and crime.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Is anyone else as pissed off as I am with "Mainstream" publishing?


I guess I should elaborate on that inflammatory title.
I'm talking not just as an author, but as a reader.
I've been to the bookstore recently, and is it just me or are all the new releases "best sellers" and other so-called "Mainstream" offerings these days nothing but synthesized product delivered to appeal not to the reader but to the Lowest Common Denominator?
Books like "The Crimson Code" pop out at me; not only the title but the "teaser" (and presumably the whole novel) an obvious riding-on-the-coat-tails-and-copying-as-much-as possible-without-legally-being-plagirism of "The Da Vinci Code", a book, which itself, was already very formulaic and derivative?
I've identified one such formula used as the back bone across several genres, from speculative fiction thrillers like the aforementioned Da Vinci Code, as well as the spy / police / thriller novels of the incomprehensively prolific authors like Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum (who strangely enough continues to write books years after his death) Nelson DeMille and John Grisham.
I call it the Ludlum Formula:
"Ordinary Man" becomes "Reluctant Hero" placed in "Extraordinary Situation". "Bystander Woman" gets swept up as "Events Unfold", "Casting Her Lot" in with Ordinary Man. "Shocking Plot Twists" make Ordinary Man and Bystander Woman question "Who They Can Trust". "Last Minute Race To The Finish" makes for "Reader Excitement". "Book Ends" with Ordinary Man and Bystander Woman either "Getting Married" or "Getting Laid".
Grisham's noveld usually follow a similar storyline: "Small Town Lawyer" or, alternately "Small-Time Lawyer" takes on "Case Bigger Than Him". At this point, "Sanctimonious Opposing Lawyer" or "Showboat Opposing Lawyer" or possibly "Corrupt, evil Lawyer" enters the picture and complicates things. Throught the novel, we're peppered with either or both "Lawyer Backstory" and "Victim / Plaintiff / Defendant's Backstory". The latter depends entirely on who the Small-Time Lawyer happens to represent.
Then comes the "Dramatic and Frightening Interlude" in which our hero is either "Attacked or Pursued", always depending on the context of the case.
Add your usual assortment of twists and turns and then the inevitable legal showdown, followed by the consequences and / or conclusions. Being a Good Southern Gentleman, Grisham usually tries to impart a Strong Moral Lesson tied in at the end of the novel.
The formulae for fantasy and science fiction is even easier these days, given that almost everything out there either seems to involve a Fallen Kingdom and a Reluctant Hero on an Epic Quest, or a Galactic Alliance or Galactic Empire either Struggling To Survive the Alien Foe, or alternately Fighting To End a revolutionary war.That's assuming the book isn't part of a franchize of recurring characters, television adaptations, RPG or videogame adaptations, or continuing "legacy" series from old, original sci-fi novels, written during a time when sci-fi really WAS "Speculative Fiction".
And is it just me, or is everything that is non-genre and just slightly better than the "mainstream", both genre and non-genre is so goddamn highbrow that it only appeals to pseudointellectuals, college professors or people who otherwise enjoy the trappings of elitism?
I mean, am I just utterly cynical? Or does anyone else see the same thing?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Coming Soon...










Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bookmarks, Coffee, MySpace Bring Success To Self-Published Author



For those of you who doubt the power of MySpace and self-publishing, consider the following:

Bookmarks, Coffee, MySpace Bring Success To Self-Published Author

May 17, 2006 -- When author Steven Oliverez first started posting his short stories in his personal profile on the popular MySpace.com, the response was little more than an occasional friend popping in to offer words of encouragement. Now that same web log has grown into an outlet with readership numbering in the thousands, and a vocal fan base that grows daily.

Until now, most promotion on MySpace, which has a membership approaching 80 million users, has been limited to musicians and bands trying to hit it big – MySpace has even started their own music label – but Oliverez is seen as the first author to attract such attention through the site. By offering his short stories for free to the internet community, he has made a name for himself and created widespread interest in his fantasy novel, 'The Elder Staves.' Every short story is met with almost instant feedback and discussion, something which Oliverez himself participates in.

The web log has also been a media target, prompting a slew of articles including a piece from The Book Standard, featuring Oliverez's role in this new style of marketing. Very recently, it also brought Oliverez an offer from a movie studio to purchase the film rights to an unpublished manuscript he had written before releasing his first novel (an excerpt from this earlier story also appears in his MySpace.com blog).

"The response has been far better than I had imagined," Oliverez says about using MySpace.com as a marketing tool. "Being able to instantly receive feedback from literally hundreds of readers at a time has made the writing process more enjoyable and interactive."

He expects more established writers will shortly follow suit.

More traditional venues have also been generating attention for the young author. Select bookstores across the country have been handing out bookmarks depicting the cover of 'The Elder Staves,' including Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million – and even the coffee giant, Starbucks.

Success has always been the extreme exception, not the rule in the self publishing world.

"There's a stigma," Oliverez admits. "You have to prove that your work is worth reading, and that's no easy task. I'm still thrilled every time I receive an email from a reader telling me they've recommended my book to a friend. When you add it all up, that's still the best type of marketing out there."

I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to my fellow independant author, Steven Oliverez. You've paved the road ahead for me and many others. Thank you for showing us that it can be done.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bell lays off thousands, posts record profits, CEO Michael Sabia takes 555% pay increase


For the past few weeks, Bell Canada has not left any respite to its employees by making business decisions that put their jobs at stake. The Company is fuelling the insecurity that has been hovering over its offices for some years now.

The offhand closing of the Kingston locality (District 17) is a blatant example.

In early April, Bell indicated that 5% of the calls already being sent to Canadian sub-contractors are now being forwarded overseas where working conditions are poor.

Lastly, the Company just announced that the percentage of Consumer Customer Service calls being outsourced has been increased and could become even higher.

Bell is playing with the issue that is most important for the CTEA: the JOB SECURITY of its members. Our members have a lot of questions. They are worried. They remember having made huge CONCESSIONS during 2005 bargaining. Now, they are entitled to ask what more does it take for Bell to stop making business decisions that are detrimental to its employees.

There are frequent conference calls and meetings between CTEA Vice-Presidents and Bell Representatives. The CTEA’s message is clear: Bell must honour the agreements made during the 2005 bargaining. Moreover, the CTEA attorneys are presently working on the case. Emergency Consultative Meeting The Chairman of the Clerical Bargaining Committee, Line Brisson, wrote to the Company’s Bargaining Committee to demand an emergency consultative meeting to discuss the Company’s recent decisions, and particularly the decision affecting Consumer Customer Service. Mrs. Brisson asked the Company to honour the Memorandum of Agreement on Outsourcing/Contracting Out of the Collective Agreement:

“The parties agree that any differences concerning the interpretation or application of this Memorandum of Agreement shall first be discussed through the consultative process on an expedited basis. In the event that the CTEA is not satisfied that its concerns have been addressed, it may file a grievance at Step 2 in accordance with the terms of the Collective Agreement.”
--Bell Canada Clerical and Associated Employees Collective Agreement, p. 121

The Company Bargaining Committee verbally agreed to meet with the CTEA Bargaining Committee as soon as possible.

CTEA Demands

These decisions recently made by Bell are creating a lot of frustration within the membership and the entire CTEA organization. We keep questioning the Company. We keep insisting on answers. We keep demanding that the agreements made during the 2005 bargaining be honoured.

The CTEA expects Bell Canada to abide by the Memorandum of Agreement on Outsourcing/Contracting Out.

The CTEA wants Bell Canada to meet with its Bargaining Committee before implementing decisions that will have major impacts on the jobs of our members.

The CTEA is asking Bell Canada to provide appropriate and acceptable conditions to members affected by office closures.

****

Is Bell closing offices, cutting jobs and contracting out in order to give Michael Sabia a generous wage increase?

“BCE Raised Sabia's Annual Pay to C$6.71 Million

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- BCE Inc., Canada's biggest telecommunications company, increased Chief Executive Officer Michael Sabia's total compensation more than five-fold last year as profit rose 23 percent from a year earlier.

Sabia was awarded C$6.71 million ($6 million), up from C$1.21 million, BCE said today in a regulatory filing.

The pay included a C$1.25 million salary, a C$2.2 million bonus that Sabia converted to deferred share units, a ``long-term incentive payout'' of C$3 million and other compensation, the filing shows.

Montreal-based BCE exceeded its sales, profit and cash flow targets last year, posting net income of C$1.96 billion after the company cut costs and increased sales from its cellular phone business. BCE shares dropped 3.6 percent in 2005”.

Source : Bloomberg

We must bring BCE President back to reality!!! Tell Michael what you have sacrificed in order for him to get his pay raise.

Send your email to michael.sabia@bell.ca or your fax to (514) 398-9313.

***

Mr Sabia,

I have recently become aware that BCE has granted you not only a salary five times higher than your previous annual restitution, but that you have also received millions of dollars in stock options and other benefits.

Meanwhile, Mr Sabia, Bell has made continued job cuts and closed entire districts in order to remain competitive. How, when posting the highest revenues Bell has seen over the last several months and taking such a huge chunk of that revenue for yourself can you justify making cuts to employee rosters because Bell must “remain competitive”?

Mr Sabia, I was recently declared surplus and am currently still unemployed. I, unlike you, did not earn millions of dollars every year. I, unlike you, was barely getting by as it was. How do you justify FORCING employees, who work hard to create the huge revenues that you profit from, to lose their jobs and still take such a huge (five hundred and fifty five per cent increase) in your salary?

My debts are mounting and I have no income. Perhaps, Mr Sabia, you could be generous enough to send me some money to supplement the pittance I will receive as severance pay.

After all, I did my part to help generate the revenues that allowed Bell to post such record earnings; likewise, my being declared surplus along with several thousand of my fellow employees means that you have been able to put a large dollar figure into the “savings” column of Bell’s revenue ledger.

Bell Canada’s employees are the ones who worked hard to allow you that five hundred and fifty-five per cent increase in your salary, Mister Sabia. It seems only fair that you should give something back to the employees who lost their jobs, their pensions and their benefits to earn you that increase.

One of the core values of Bell Canada’s ethical guidelines is mutual respect. We all work for Bell, Mr Sabia, but it seems you have no respect for those who work at the lowest echelons of the company.

As I am also a BCE shareholder, I received an invitation to the upcoming shareholder’s meeting. It is my intention to be there, Mr Sabia. It is my hope that the Board of Directors will tell the shareholders why it is in a time of cutbacks, closures and layoffs in order to remain competitive that you have taken a five hundred and fifty-five per cent increase in your salary.

Respectfully,

Steve Karmazenuk

Saturday, April 29, 2006

...So I just realized how fucked I am...



I was relying, you see, on HAVING A JOB and HAVING STOCK OPTIONS to fund the promotion of my novel, The Unearthing, when it is released later this year.

...Now, my major source of funding is gone.

Granted, with 5 years at Bell Canada on my resume I'll be hired very easily. And granted I'll be getting about $10 K from Bell as a payout for dumping my ass. But that $10 K is going towards paying down some very outstanding debts.

And even if I'm re-hired, there's no way I'll be starting at $25.00 an hour, like I was earning at Bell. Likewise, I won't have stock options right off the bat.

I checked out the Canada Council on the Arts, hoping I'd qualify for a grant. Nope. And why not? Because I've dared to go with an American publisher. The thing is, none of the Canadian publishers I queried (many of whom are American-owned, anyway) were interested. So while the book was WRITTEN in Canada, BY a Canadian, the real problem seems to be that I dared betray my country to publish with Publish America. Well, maybe if a Canadian PUBLISHER had taken a fucking interest in my book instead of dismissing it for all the usual reasons maybe I WOULD be able to be published in Canada!

I feel like I'm being denied money by the Canada Council because of some sort of percieved disloyalty. Nevermind that I want to promote and sell the book in Canada; apparently not good enough for these people.

So between Bell and the Canada Council on the arts, I'm being fucked out of my dream. Yeah, I'm published. Big Whoop. Without being able to market the fucking book, how am I supposed to DO anything with that?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

...But other than that I'm having a GOOD day!



TO: Steve Karmazenuk

FROM: Julie Schembri, Bell Canada

SUBJECT: Surplus Situation

Sir,

Further to today's discussion, this is to advise you that, as a result of changes in the organization effective April 27 2006, your services will no longer be required as of June 22, 2006 (Minimum of 8 weeks from Surplus Notice date). Such decisions are always difficult and I want to assure you that it was not taken lightly.

The following summarizes key information pertaining to your situation. Should you not be redeployed before June 22, 2006, you will be entitled to an advance notice of termination, of 3 months of base salary. This advance notice will start with a period of salary continuance, during which you will be provided with all pertinent documentation regarding your severance allowance.

NET CREDITED SERVICE DATE: September 23, 2000

MINIMUM OF 8 WEEKS SURPLUS NOTICE AS PER LABOUR AGREEMENT:

  • Begins on April 28 2006
  • You continue regular employment (no changes to working conditions or salary treatment) unless you deide to leave the company during notice period
  • 912M prepared with Leader
  • Possible internal redeployment through Bell People First or Transfer Management Group
  • Prior to proceeding on salary continuance you will be provided with personal information on your termination allowance and provisions
  • End of the 8 weeks' minimum Surplus Notice date: June 22, 2006

SALARY CONTINUANCE (1 MONTH)

  • Begins on June 23, 2006
  • You no longer come in to work; however, you are paid as usual for 1 month and you are still covered under the company's healthcare benefits.
  • Entitlement to short-term or long-term disability ceases.
  • Possible internal redeployment t hrough Bell People First or Transfer Management Group.
  • DBM career transition services begin for a period of 3 months

TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT IF YOU ARE NOT REDEPLOYED INTERNALLY

  • Last day in the company: July 22, 2006
  • You will receive the remainder of your severance allowance: 2 months of base salary (first month of severance having been paid in the form of salary continuance)
  • Healthcare benefits coverage, Employee Savings Plan and Group RSP cease
  • Outstanding vacation, if any, is paid out
  • AIP payout will not be made in cases of in-year terminations

In the days to come, you will work closely with your leaderto complete a 912 M which is the first step towards your internal redeployment. The Transfer Management Group will be supporting you as you apply for vacant positions and can be reached at 1-888-391-0005. Should you be interested in seeking redeployment within lines of business other than Bell Canada, please contact a Redeployment Specialist at 1-866-819-0484 to discuss te redeployment process.

While on salary continuance, should you be redeployed in the Bell family, then your salary continuance will be cancelled and you will continue employment with your new group.

If you do not wish to participate in the Bell People First program, please advise your manager. Your salary continuance will then be paid in a lump sum, along with the remainder of your notice period.

Should you have questions or need clarification about your benefits or other issues related to leaving, please feel free to ask me or contact Employee Services at 1-888-391-0005 or by e-mail at employee.services@bell.ca

In closing, I want to offer you my best wishes for the future and thank you for the contribution you have made over the years. Rest assured that we remain available to assist you in any way we can.

(signed)

Julie Schembri

Associate Director - SMB Performance & Strategy

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tomorrow, April 26th, is World Intellectual Property Day!


World Intellectual Property Day celebrates innovative thinking and creativity

April 26th has been designated 'World Intellectual Property Day by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to recognize and promote human creativity and ingenuity in all its forms.

The theme of this year's celebration is "Intellectual Property - It Starts with an Idea". On this day we highlight our ongoing commitment to Innovation.

Launched in 2001, the day highlights the importance of intellectual property as a tool for economic, social and cultural development. Focused on ensuring that the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property worldwide are protected and recognized, WIPO also helps facilitate international trade by providing a level playing field for the marketing of intellectual property products.

You can find more information on intellectual property and the WIPO at their (somewhat uninspired) website, at http://www.wipo.int/portal/index.html.en and also from my links section, in my Resources for Writers area

Monday, April 24, 2006

PHYTE's On...



On behalf of my friends Eon_5 and _te_ and the gang of madmen (and women) at Be - Communications I am proud to announce the official launch of PHYTE Magazine!

PHYTE Magazine is launching with a preview of the adventures of Ante-Rockstar, a weblog, video diary (and possibly podcast) about one woman's journey to try and become a rock star.

(and now, for some shameless self-promotion)

PHYTE will also very shortly be featuring Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind; my own contribution to the online revolution: The complete version of the e-book that you've been previewing from here will be available to read (and for sale) from their site.

But PHYTE is also going to offer news and reviews, lifestyle information as well as offering a host of new, innovative content delivered in revolutionary fashion.

I'm lucky enough to have been named as a partner in PHYTE Magazine's continued growth and development; I'm proud to say that I'm in, if not on the ground floor, at least on the lower mezzanine. The gang at Be - Communications and PHYTE Magazine are on to something. Log in and see for yourselves.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stressssssssssss


Generally, this has not been one of my better writing periods. The last six weeks have seen several upheavals in my personal life that have contributed to an overal feeling of unease and stress. While many artists find inspiration in such malaise, I have grown accustomed to having a nice, at-least-partially ordered universe around me as I sit down to do some writing.

Granted, I haven't been doing any "actual" writing in quite some time; my last two story ideas fizzled out, dying languishing deaths only a few handwritten pages in. Those pages have, of course, been put aside just in case. After all, the first book of Stephen King's Dark Tower series languished incomplete for years before he picked up the thread again.

The last several months have seen me working on transcribing Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind into the computer, followed by doing the same to The Darkness and the Stars. Well, perhaps I should ammend that statement by saying I began the process of transcribing The Darkness and the Stars into the computer...it decided to rewrite large portions of itself while I transcribed it, the result being it has lagged in limbo between the handwritten pages of the Fleshworld and the digital reality of ones and zeroes that make up the hard drive of my computer and various CDRWs.

When this happened I (metaphorically speaking) dusted off Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind and started a rewrite of that story. The result has been the sale of the e-book distribution rights for Nevermind to an e-publication that will be launching within a few days.

However, I've been bouncing back and forth between the two projects, and last week I quit both altogether to focus on playing Grand Theft Auto Vice City instead of doing anything remotely resembling creative work.

Now, as mentioned previously in this journal, I sent in everything I needed to send, to Publish America several weeks ago and haven't yet heard back from them. So I emailed them a while ago and have been waiting to hear back from them.

Well all this pre-production anxiety led to the following brief email exchange between me and Roby Ward, AKA TerishD:

>>>From Me<<<

Hey Roby.

So, I’m getting a little concerned.

It’s been a couple of months since I sent everything along to PA and I haven’t gotten my proofs yet. Likewise I emailed Pre Production last week to follow up and haven’t heard back from them yet.

I’m getting nervous…


>>>From Roby<<<

Patience, friend. They do a number of books. The funny thing is once they get to you it moves rather fast.

You will get options on how to proceed. Yeah, I know:
"I've waited all this time and they are just now asking me about editing options?" Trust me, they read it (at least, a solid scan). They just are not going to waste time with you if not necessary. If it passes their read, and you want to rush ahead, they will let you. I suggest the two week option. Take two weeks and read/edit the manuscript one more time. Don't get cocky, read/edit one more time.

It will take about 4-6 weeks, then you will get actual proofs. This one is supposed to be clean, but read/edit one more time. If you catch anything, let them know. Also, pay attention to the fonts. I had them change the title page font. They will send you new proofs after each change.

Once you approve the proof, then you wait a few weeks before getting the cover. Once you approve a cover, the book is basically ready to be printed. You are basically waiting for the print files to be sent to the printer, for your author copy to be printed, then for the books to be mailed to you. Once you verified that you received the copies, and approved, you are good.

Roby


>>>From Me<<<

Makes me feel better…

But this is just one of several issues contributing to my current writer’s block.


Tonight, I actually managed to get a whole page and a half of re-writing done, for Darkness and the Stars. Quite an accomplishment, to be honest. Unfortunately, then I lost the thread. In mid-sentence, no less.

...Which brings us here. Frustrated I turned to my "non-writing" writing outlet, this weblog.

The circle is complete.

And now, I'm off to bed.