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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Facts I'd rather not face...


Another year is about to wrap itself up. Come April of 2008, it will have been officially two years since I've been able to write a single fucking thing.

Every story idea I've had since 2006, ever novel I've tried to write, every world I've imagined, every character I've come up with...all of it has died on me. Every plan I've had, to revive, revise rewrite or rework a story that I have already written and saved to magnetic or optic media has met the same fate.

At first I chalked it up to how 2006 opened: with me filing a grievance against a bullying asshole boss at Bell, then getting laid off two months after the arbitrators ruled in my favour (no coincidence there!), then desperately looking for work the rest of the year, while along the way seeing my first novel get published...and then go nowhere.

A lot of things happened in between those events...some good, some bad, some painful, including my falling back, for a time, into using and abusing marijuana (it almost cost me my marriage), becoming a music journalist for Confront Magazine (which appears to be the only fruitful writing I can do of late--music reviews, interviews and various rapportages on different events), going broke and ruining my credit rating, scaring off an old friend who'd been innocently just trying to get in touch, alienating some formerly close family members (and bidding good riddance to others) and all kinds of shit that finally seemed to take a turn for the better when I landed a job at Starbucks.

Among the things I've come to realize is that I no longer have faith in my abilities to write fiction. Journalism, editorials, reviews and this blog seem to be the best I can do. I don't have enough experience at the former (or the fucking all important Degree of Higher Learning) to make money with it and as for the latter? Well, let's take a look:

Only about a dozen people actually read this thing. Of those that do, about half of them are friends and/or family. And despite numerous attempts by me in the past to get input on how to improve this blog, how to make its audience expand, nobody ever fucking bothered to reply. Not even my c losest friends. What does that say? Then there's the fact that only a couple of people actually reference my blog from their blogs/websites.

So, when even your friends (with a couple of exceptions--you know who you are) won't so much as add a hyperlink to their own site to help, what can you do, except wonder aloud about why do I bother with this weblog, anymore? Why indeed?

Another problem is that my first novel has sold all of seven copies. SEVEN! Of those seven, I've sold three to people I know--one to a friend of a friend (who didn't buy the book themselves), and two to people that I quite literally hadn't spoken to in years until they emailed me to say, "By the way, Steve, I just bought your book!"

Granted, the marketing of The Unearthing was killed when I lost my job at Bell, along with the approximately five grand in stocks I'd have accumulated by the time the book came out in September 2006. That money had been earmarked to finance a marketing scheme that I was working on, with people who actually knew something about marketing. But when the well ran dry, so did the prospects of creating buzz for the book.

Surely, you would think, that my friends with websites would have helped by posting a link? Well, one of them did...

One...

Kind of hard to even get word-of-mouth going when everyone clams up all at once.

But, ultimately, I have myself to blame for the failure that is my first novel. I went with Publish America, knowing full well their reputation and that the onus would be on me to sell the fucking thing. I left Bell with a layoff package that I didn't spend wisely, thus buggering up the slightest chance of a marketing budget, though the leaving Bell wasn't exactly my fault. What few attempts I could make to sell the book, without even the help of a friend with a website, or the magazine I do most of my writing for.

When 2007 began, I have to say I was feeling somewhat more optimistic, but this year, it seems, has been more of the same. In July I changed jobs (for the sake of a much needed higher salary) and started to work in a call center for the world's leading employee share purchase plan management company. Despite my exemplary customer service skills and repeatedly being lauded for doing an exceptional job, just last week--two fucking weeks before Christmas--I was fired; not because of my work ethic but because I was deemed "too negative", by virtue of the fact that I'm too much of a curmudgeon for certain coworkers--one in particular who was traumatized by his abusive alcoholic father and now sees Daddy wherever there's a grouchy male present.

So now, a week before Christmas, I'm jobless again. The money's about to run dry and I'm left sleepless and stressed out at night, my own grim thoughts for company.

And in all that time, from January 1, 2007 to today, once more, everything I try to write, every story, every script, even the stuff I try to revisit and revise...it all goes to shit. I can't write a goddamn thing.

Nothing that matters to me, anyway. I've interviewed rock stars, I've been backstage at some major events, I've listened to and reviewed CDs before the general public knew they were coming out...

It occurs to me that all of us spend far more time--far too much time, in fact--at work. Whether we're self-employed or working for someone else. 8 hours or more a day at work, doing labor for someone else's benefit, compensated rather poorly for sacrificing our time, our health, our lives and our sanity so that someone else can reap it all in.

Let's face it: most people in the lower and middle income brackets are nothing more than slaves, because we cannot live in this modern world without money. We certainly cannot prosper without it, and the things that it can buy, like shelter, utilities, food, clothing and medicine. And the same society we help prop up by sacrificing 2/3 of our waking life for its sake then tries to get us to work even harder, even longer, by enticing us to go into debt (or put money aside) for luxury items that are so ridiculously superfluous as to be nothing more than legalized drugs. an iPhone for the tech addict, an iPod for the music junkie, a Wii for the videogame freak, a Blu-Ray disc player for the cinephile...consume, consume, consume...and to consume, we must work, work, work...and as I found out last week, to be able to have the privilege of working, we have to conform. We must wear the face of the happy Field Nigger, proudly picking massa's cotton, not minding the lash, always glad to have such a lenient whip-cracker at our backs, always thankful for the privilege to work towards someone else's benefit...because let's face it: we sure as christ aren't working for our own. Even the self-employed are ultimately enslaved by long hours and deadlines, to meet the needs of their fickle and fleeting customers. Only the very rich are the ones who profit from their own labours.

Let me quote a younger version of myself, who wrote about this far more eloquently, back when I could still believe in myself enough to write:

Alec stretched out and leaned his head back.

“Tell me, Brian, have you ever thought about life? About freedom?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Alec laughed.

“I mean that we’re all a bunch of fucking slaves! We go to school so we can learn a trade and learn to conform to society’s expectations…then we enter the world and every morning we wake up, go to a job that about ninety per cent of us are gonna hate, where we’ll spend eight to twelve hours of our waking life every day, making sure the engines of this great machine called the economy continue to run!

“Tell me, Brian? Do you know how we’re rewarded for our efforts? We get a mediocre wage to pay our bills and buy food…and if we’re lucky, there’s enough money left over for pointless luxury distractions we’re programmed to desire by the media and maybe two or three weeks of the year where we have the privilege not to work and maybe afford a vacation if we scrimp and save.”

“Jesus,” I laughed, “It sounds like you’re turning into a communist.”

“Communism? Bri, Karl Marx said religion is the opium of the masses. He was so fucking wrong; movies, TV, videos, videogames…those are the tools of control. Those are the drugs we use to dull our senses, to keep us from realizing how bleak and pointless it all is! Fuck, if there was no entertainment, no distraction, people would realize how badly they’re getting fucked over by their jobs, their governments and their fellow man! We’d have a fucking revolution inside of days, because people would start asking the kind of questions nobody in power really wants to have answered! Instead, we go to work, go to school, come home, veg out in front of the TV, go out on the weekends to some stupid movie or some stupid bar, get drunk, get high, get laid and then we keep on doing this same routine day in and day out like happy little drones, until we die!”

“And then sometimes,” Alec said, looking at me intently, “Sometimes, the universe decides to fuck you up, completely! Sometimes you’re ripped out of your complacent existence and you realize that we’re still a bunch of savages; we’re still a bunch of fucking animals, brutal, stupid and fragile and we do die…we do die…and if we don’t do something to change this world, if we don’t do something to make a difference, Brian, then we die in vain. We have to make a difference, Brian!”

We have to make a difference. We do. There hasn't been a revolution in labour since the early days of the union movement, back when they weren't corrupt, self-sustaining entities and industries unto themselves.

It's time for a change, for a new deal, for employees to demand the respect that their employers aren't giving them. It's time for employees to take back their lives from these corporate monsters, who force their workers to live in fear of being fired, or of having their benefits cut, or whatever else they think they can get away with doing, to keep their flocks of sheep in line. It's time that people stood the fuck up and said to themselves and each other, "I only have one life to live, and it's too fucking short to live like this!" It's time for the economy to stop working for the majority shareholder and to truly start working for the benefit of all humanity.

It's time we stopped being slaves to the artificial world of the corporate consumer class structure.

Everyone should go into work tomorrow and as one just stand on their desks and yell "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

If I could, I'd mobilize and motivate everyone to do just that.

Of course, there's little I can do about it, by posting about it here.

A dozen of you read this thing.

Ten of you don't give a fuck.

Merry fucking Christmas.
Happy fucking New Year.
Let's hope 2008 is better, because I don't think I've the strength to live through a year worse than the last one's been.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Rainbow Disconnection

The End of the Rainbow

SteveK examines the aftermath of the Radiohead ‘In Rainbows’ experiment

So, for a couple of months it looked like Radiohead was about to lead the vanguard charge against the way music is distributed to listeners, as well as deal a direct hit across the bow of the music industry, with the pay-as-you-please download distribution of their latest album, ‘In Rainbows’. Yes, there was the issue of the poor quality of the MP3 (160 KBPS compression rate as opposed to more standard 320 KBPS), but surely such a little thing could be forgiven at the start of a new music revolution.

The record charts couldn’t track the phenomenon of the downloadable-only album, which was promoted almost exclusively online, by the word-of-mouth enthusiasm of the fans and online music critics alike, with YouTube playing host to the music videos that the band did put out. Record executives were scrambling, music promoters were updating their resumes, file-sharing enthusiasts were cheering and independent artists and musicians were looking ahead with hope to a potential new era in music.

So much for all the hype.

As of the 10th of December, the downloadable (and Digital Rights Management-free) version of ‘In Rainbows’ is no longer available, at least through official channels; no doubt it’s still out there on countless file-swapping networks worldwide.

Instead you can get either the “discbox” version of the CD for £40.00 (approximately $80.00 US/CDN) which comes with the album as-downloaded, along with a 12 inch vinyl record of the same, an “enhanced” CD with additional songs, accompanying picture booklet and lyrics, or on January 1st of 2008 you will be able to buy a regular CD version of ‘In Rainbows’ from just about every major record retailer in North America.

And although the band maintains that they had originally released the album as a pay-as-you-please downloadable in order to “…Make people stop for a few seconds and think about what music is worth…” their management maintains that this was done solely to boost sales of the “real” album, whether the “discbox” or CD that will be in stores in three short weeks. Needless to say, the quality of the songs on both “hard copy” versions of ‘In Rainbows’ will be much higher

The band has fairly well betrayed anyone and everyone who believed that the downloadable ‘In Rainbows’ would usher in a new era of music distribution, one in which there would be no record label middleman between the artist and their fans.

Instead, in a move as cynical and as commercial as the fabricated feuds between supposedly rival pop stars, we’ve discovered that Radiohead did all this merely as an elaborate publicity stunt to generate buzz in advance of the physical CD release. We should have known better; we should have seen it for what it was but we didn’t. We all wanted to believe that a music revolution was coming.

Radiohead should be ashamed of themselves for being so callous, and for profiting from those who paid good money to download very poor quality recordings. It is my sincerest hope that the fans will stay away from buying the CD, and thus voting with their pocketbooks, send a message to the band about being loyal to and honest with their fans.

I suspect, however, that the fans are far more forgiving, and that this CD will not only sell, but will indeed revolutionize the way music is distributed, by selling well enough for the concept of a low-price low-quality pre-release promo download to become a standard music industry marketing ploy to squeeze even more money out of fans, listeners and music lovers.

We got our revolution, it seems; just not the one we’d been hoping for.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More censorship by so-called "Christians"...

Yet another school, this time in Calgary, is pulling the His Dark Materials children's book series.

This proves, at least as far as I am concerned, that one religious zealot is as bad as another.

Let's not forget that the central theme of the series by Philip Pullman is to get children to understand that taking any belief system and following it dogmatically, fundamentally and zealously is absolutely, positively wrong. The overriding moral of the story is to not let anyone use religion to empower themselves at your expense, that we should not live under the yoke of religious oppression.

What astounds me is the same people who were outraged by the Fatwah placed on Salman Rushdie over The Satanic Verses are the ones who are banning this book in a free, Western democracy. I wonder if the so-called Christians who are performing this act of censorship would feel the same about a book written by, say Irshad Manji, a Muslim who is very critical of Islamic fundamentalists...probably no, for the simple fact that she criticizes Islam, not Christianity. But those same Christians who would support her condemn Philip Pullman...claiming he's "indoctrinating" children into atheism. The last time I checked, the indoctrination of children was being done by people who force their children to be baptized and then drag them to sunday school and mass every week...or by missionaries setting up "schools" and hospitals where among the medicine and "education" a rather unhealthy dose of Christian fanaticism is doled out, as well.

I'm not saying people don't have the right to their beliefs. I, myself believe that there is something greater than ourselves out there; however, to claim that any one religion has all the answers, or for that matter the ONLY answers, or to turn around and not only attack other religions but to attempt to ostracize, censure and censor people whose views are not like theirs, well, that's got nothing to do with God. In fact, it's the most Godless act of cowardice I can imagine.

The Catholic league is leading an attempted boycott of "The Golden Compass" movie and the books. I have to wonder: where were the outcries from the Catholic League, when priests were raping and molesting children? Where was the outrage when the Archbishop of Cologne revived the Nazi-coined term "Degenerate Art" to describe works of art he disapproved of? Where were the Catholic Leagues protests when their own Pope, and former member of the Hitler Youth and Nazi Party Joseph Ratzinger describe Islam as an evil, violent religion?

If one movie, if one book is such a danger to the hearts and minds of the people of your religion, you should ask yourself just how meritless your religion really is.

As an author I find the censorship of any book reprehensible, and disconcerting; because it's so easy to ban one book, then another, and another and another...through fear-mongering, hysteria and populist ignorance, freedom of expression is curtailed and crushed...boycott a movie, ban a book, burn a CD...and then there's a new movie to boycott, another book to ban...soon enough, the movies don't get made, the books don't get published and then it's only a matter of time before the writers, the artists and the intellectuals are silenced, arrested, made to disappear.

History, even in the supposedly "free" West, is rife with examples. Below is just a partial list of names of authors whose works have been banned from libraries, here in
North America, in just the last century. Philip Pullman is in exceptional company:

Amis, Kingsley
Angelou, Maya
Aristophanes
Auel, Jean
Baldwin, James
Balzac, Honore de
Bamford, James
Bannerman, Helen
Benchley, Peter
Bennett, D.M.
Bett, Doris
Beveridge, J
Blume, Judy
Boccacio, Giovanni
Bonner, Raymond
Bradbury, Ray
Bryant, John
Burgess, Anthony
Burroughs, Edgar Rice
Cabell, James Branch
Carrol, Lewis
Calhoun, Mary
Chandler, David
Chomsky, Naom
Coleman, Benjamin
Cormier, Robert
Davis, Deborah
Debray, Regis
Defoe, Daniel
De Sade, Marquis
Dos Passos, John
Dreiser, Theodore
Duesberg, Peter
Ellison, Harlan
Ernst, Morris L.
Farrell, James T.
Faulkner, William
Favel, J.
Feuchtwanger, Lion
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Flaubert, Gustav
For, Dario
Foucault, Michel
Frank, Anne
Franklin, Benjamin
Friedan, Betty
Fuentes, Carlos
Gautier, Theophile
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Golding, William
Green, Graham
Guest, Judith
Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Heller, Joseph
Helper, Hinton
Hemingway, Ernest
Holmes, Peter
Huxley, Aldous
Jackson, Gordon
Jones, James
Joyce, James
Kauffann, Stanley
Keyes, Daniel
Khair-Eddine, Mohammed
King, Stephen
Klein, Norma
Kundera,
Milan
L'Engle, Madaleine
Lawrence, D.H.
Leary, Timothy
Lewis, Sinclair
Livingston,
Myra Cohn
Louys,
Pierre
Luise, Reuban L.
Lurie, Reuben
MacElroy, Wendy
Machiavelli, Niccolo
March, J.M.
Marchetti, Victor
Marks, John D.
Marks, Percy
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
Mather, Increase
Maugham,
Somerset
McGeehee, Ralph
Mencken, H.L.
Miles,
Austin
Miller, Arthur
Miller, Henry
Milosz, Czeslaw
Moore, Carol
Moravia, Alberto
Morse, Ann Christensen
Murdock, Iris
Nin, Anais
O'Neill,
Eugene
Orwell, George
Paine, Thomas
Parsons, Jonathan
Plath, Sylvia
Pound, Ezra
Protagoras
Pullman, Phillip
Pynchon, William
Rabelais, Francois
Reich, Wilhelm
Remarque, Erich Maria
Rice, Anne
Rouseau, Jean-Jacques
Rushdie, Salman
Salinger, J.D.
Sanger, Margaret
Sartre, Jean-Paul
Sewall, Joseph
Shakespeare, William
Shaw, George Bernard
Sinclair,
Upton
Snepp, Frank W., III
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
Stein, Gertrude
Steinbeck, John
Stern, Howard
Stopes, Marie
Swift, Jonathan
Thompson, Linda
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Tolstoy, Lev
Twain, Mark
Velikovsky, Immanuel
Vidal, Gore
Voltaire
Von Mises, Ludwig
Vonnegut, Kurt
Walker,
Alice
Whitman, Walt


Friday, November 23, 2007

The threat of censorship rears its ugly head...


As detailed in this article in the Globe and Mail, hysterical Catholics in Ontario have filed a formal complaint with their funded-by-taxpayer-dollars Halton Catholic District School Board that the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials series should be pulled from their school library.

Why?

Because Pullman is an unapologetic atheist, and the book series in question deals with the story of a corrupt religious heirarchy trying to take over the world through various acts of atrocity.

Now, let's be clear: the devout Catholic hystrionics are about Pullman's status as an atheist, and the parents who complained feel threatened by the fact that literature that is written by an atheist should be allowed in their school. They want to ban a book because they disagree with the author's personal convictions.

I can think of another devout Christian who enjoyed banning books by people with different ideologies than his own. He was an author, himself; you may have heard of his book: it's called Mein Kampf. These upstanding, church-going God-fearing Catholics are in good company, then.

Mind you, I really don't think we should expect any less considering the head of the Catholic Church is himself a former Nazi.

I'm continually amazed by the number of Christians who understand absolutely nothing about the teachings of Rabbi Joshua Ben Joseph, better known as Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fat-Ass Tom Cruise

Well, the in-the-closet scientologist Hollywood attention whore Tom Cruise is having a hissy fit these days because the following image of him was leaked by papparazzi. It's from his forthcoming box-office waste of time with Ben Stiller and Jack Black, "Tropic Thunder" and, well, you be the judge of why he's got his panties in a knot:



Poor, poor, Tom Cruise...nobody will leave the little psycho alone...at least he still has his wife to prove he's not gay...

Friday, November 02, 2007

CONFRONT Magazine Online article on the aftermath of Live Earth


...by none other than yours truly.

Check it out

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rounding Up The American Doll Posse

So an early anniversary present from my wife, in lieu of a Force FX Mace Windu Lightsaber collectible, was tickets to see Tori Amos when she appeared here in Montreal, at Place Des Arts. While Tori wasn’t doing press interviews this tour, (meaning that I didn’t get to talk with her as I’d hoped to), getting to see her live was nevertheless an unforgettable experience.

Let’s get the bad out of the way, first: While the Wilfrid-Pelletier hall at Place Des Arts is acoustically perfect, the seating is terrible: cramped, uncomfortable, about as ergonomic as a 14th century Middle European church pew. By the end of the show I had a backache, and my right shoulder felt like it was on fire. I’d suggest to Place Des Arts that it’s time to replace seating that I can only presume is original to the 1963 Wilfrid Pelletier arena.

Having said that, on to the concert, itself: Tori has developed quite an elaborate mythology for this album and tour, including five distinct characters (including herself) who each play parts in the musical storytelling on ‘American Doll Posse’. For the Montreal show we were greeted by two of these characters: “Isabel”, who played for the first half of the two-hour set, and Tori, herself for the last hour.

Now, I have to admit I find the whole stage-persona-role-playing thing a tad pretentious and a little distracting at first, once I did get past it I was able to thoroughly enjoy the show. Tori delivers a fantastic live set and it was obvious that she was enjoying herself. The crowd was engaged and enthralled and Tori was devoted to the performance, which is more than I can say for a lot of acts I’ve seen live.

All in all it was a great show, and I would definitely pay to see her live, again, though hopefully at a venue with more comfortable seating.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Musical Letdowns

I’m pretty confident it’s happened to all of us.

We’ve all been a fan, probably even more than once, of a band or an artist that had a really stellar debut or a series of spectacular albums (even if we were the only people to ever think so), that was then followed up by one or several mediocre-to-disappointing albums.

I can still remember the first time it happened to me.

A little over 13 years ago, Pearl Jam released their third album, ‘Vitaology’. After the fantastic ‘Ten’ and ‘VS’, I can remember sitting down with their third album, putting it on the CD player and then, as I listened to it, thinking to myself “What the fuck is this shit?” In fact, that album (deliberately designed by Eddie Vedder to test the faith of his fans, according to legend) completely alienated me from Pearl Jam’s music; I never even bothered to pick up another of their CDs. After all, if Darth Vedder couldn’t keep the faith with his fans, why on earth should I keep it with him?

It’s happened again over the years, most notably with Tori Amos’ sixth, seventh and eighth albums (‘To Venus and Back’, ‘Strange Little Girls’ and ‘Scarlet’s Walk’) which were lackluster and pretentious, at least in my opinion. Happily, her next two original albums (not counting the various compilations and collections), ‘The Beekeeper’ and ‘American Doll Posse’ renewed my faith in everyone’s favourite Cornflake Girl. I still think ‘Boys for Pele’ was her best CD, but her latest two are new vintage. I kept my faith with Tori, kept hoping that the next album would be better; I was rewarded…eventually.

Another disappointment for me was the last original album released by The Sisters of Mercy, namely 1990’s ‘Vision Thing’. Though it was followed up in ’92 with the fantastic compilation of their early singles, ‘Some Girls Wander By Mistake’, the mess that was ‘Vision Thing’ soured the milk for me. Worse still, ‘Vision Thing’ was their swan song, no further new material coming out after that.

Some letdowns are ongoing: Since ‘Kid A’ was released, anyone who is or was a fan of Radiohead’s music knows about the schism that frontman Thom Yorke created, when he steered the band away from alt-rock into the techo-rock landscape in 2000, with the release of their fourth studio album.

The album marked a new direction for Radiohead; one that took them away from their Grunge Rock roots and into the world of electronica and noise.

This divide between the old and the new polarized fans and only deepened with the release in 2001 of the electronic/art rock album, ‘Amnesiac’. The fanbase was largely divided into two camps: those who loved and pined for Radiohead’s old sound and those who followed the band forward into the musical avant-garde.

I’ve bounced between both camps, myself; I thought ‘Kid A’ was fantastic, though ‘The Bends’, Radiohead’s second CD remains my personal favourite (And ‘OK Computer’ has been described as the best album of all time on the BBC). When I first heard ‘Amnesiac’, the follow-up to ‘Kid A’, I desperately hoped that the bleak, minimalist album was a concept piece. I sincerely enjoyed 2003’s ‘Hail to the Thief’; however, it just provided more general dystopic electronica, and despite a couple of really great tracks I found it to be an overall letdown.

Yesterday, through their official website, Radiohead released their seventh album, ‘In Rainbows’. The album is fairly good, but it still leaves me missing that old Radiohead sound. A more in-depth review of the CD is available from CONFRONT Magazine’s “Views and Reviews” section, this week. But to get beyond the review, ever since ‘Kid A’, whenever I press “Play” on a new Radiohead album, I do so with the utmost of hope, that this time I will be as blown away as I was the first time I listened to ‘The Bends’ or ‘OK Computer’ or ‘Kid A’, for that matter. And each time, after the last note of the last track has sounded through my ears, I’m left feeling more let down than anything else. But I keep hoping; I keep on saying “maybe next time…” just as I did for Tori Amos’ music, so do I continue to hope for Radiohead.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Memo to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas...

...When you fuck with a classic, like replacing guns with walkie-talkies, turning an unfinished opus by Stanley Kubrick into a sappy, sentimental kitzsch-fest, making Greedo shoot first or making Darth Vader C-3P0's builder, or making another Indiana Jones movie, you know what happens?

KARMA, bitches!

Therefore, here follows the spoilers about Indiana Jones IV that they don't want you to read:

Director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas made the entire cast and crew of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" sign nondisclosure agreements. But Tyler Nelson - cast as a "dancing Russian soldier" - gave an interview to his hometown newspaper, the Edmond Sun in Oklahoma, in which he revealed that:

* Indy, played once again by Harrison Ford, and the Soviet army are both searching for a priceless skull made of crystal in the jungles of South America.

* The Russians take Indy hostage and then blackmail him by threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend and mother of his son, Marion Ravenwood, portrayed by Karen Allen. Cast as the son is Shia LaBeouf.

* Cate Blanchett plays an evil Russian who grills Indy. "I saw Harrison Ford strapped to a chair and being interrogated," Nelson told the paper.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unreasonable accommodations…

So today, September 20th is “in the city without a car” day, meaning that the downtown core was closed to vehicle traffic…which itself therefore means that the city of Montreal is doing what it does best: putting on a grandiose and poorly thought-out gesture that in the long run does more harm than good.

Organizers will talk about the reduced carbon footprint that the “day” (actually from 9:30 to 3:30) will have, but in truth the downtown core between De Maisonneuve and Dorchester (renamed after the separatist traitor to Canada to Rene Levesque) and from McGill to St Urbain will be the only area closed to traffic. Cars will actually be diverted to the surrounding streets.

This means an increase of traffic on those surrounding streets, major traffic slowdowns, more cars idling and producing exhaust as they inch along towards their destination. This actually means an overall INCREASE in the carbon footprint put out by the city today.

Likewise, by “encouraging” people to leave their cars at home, all the city is doing is forcing more people into an already overcrowded, overworked public transit system. There are already not enough busses on the road or trains on the metro line. Any morning the busses are packed beyond standing room, oftentimes not even making their stops because they’re too full to take on passengers. The metro system is just as overtaxed, overcrowded and unreliable. Add to that the fact that McGill Metro is falling apart, the transit workers driving the busses, metros and working the ticket windows are disgruntled and performing union-mandated pressure tactics because they aren’t happy at the obscenely ridiculous deal they’re getting from the STM and what you get is an absolute nightmare of a day.

Generally, this stupid project will do nothing more than inconvenience everyone and produce even more greenhouse emissions than it’s supposed to reduce.

That’s rant number one.

Rant number two is about the ongoing commission here in Queerbeck about “reasonable accommodation”.

The backstory behind this is that there is a racist little town in this racist little province that sent a letter to Muslim immigrants telling them they weren’t allowed to behead their women in Quebec. This touched off a huge controversy and debate about the level of ignorance and bigotry in Quebec, and what is considered reasonable accommodation in the province; IE should observant Muslim women be allowed to weir the veil, etc.

The thing is there is no reasonable accommodation in Quebec, because it is ingrained in the mentality of the French majority in this province that they are an endangered species. They are especially intolerant of the English speaking community in Quebec, particularly Jews and any English immigrants. Anything foreign in this province is seen as a threat; veiled Muslim women, turban-wearing Sikh men, Buddhists in traditional robes. Anything non-French is decried…not a day goes by when I don’t see “Quebec En Francais” stickers plastering walls, mail boxes, phone booths and any other available surface. This morning as I walked to the bus stop I counted several examples of crudely-drawn anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-Immigrant hate literature jammed into billboards and taped onto junction boxes.

This is not a province of diversity or tolerance. Recently, former premier, avowed separatist and unabashed racist Bernard Landry boasted that Quebec was not and never would be multicultural.

There is an ongoing effort of ethnic cleansing by attrition in the province…English place names are erased by the Orwellian “Commission de la Toponymie”; English schools are being systematically closed; Jewish synagogues and cemeteries are constantly vandalized and English-speaking citizens are continually harassed and berated for daring to speak English in public. There is a culture of bigotry, racism and xenophobia in this province…the commission on reasonable accommodation is nothing more than lip-service, a false and outright insincere attempt to make “les autres” feel at home in a province where the only thing that matters is being White and speaking French.

If Quebec cannot even accept its English speaking citizens, who have been here for hundreds of years and whose history is as rich and as old as the French history, what hope do minority immigrants from other countries have of ever feeling at home in this province?

Monday, September 10, 2007

A long-awaited update...


Okay...it's been forever since I've filed an update...sorry.

However, last month we landed the opportunity to move out of our rattrap shithole and into a fairly decent if in need of paint and renovating appartment much more conveniently located (between a taxi stand and a bus stop, on a corner with windows on three of the four sides) place. Such being the case, most of August was spent cleaning, painting, de-stuccoing and cleaning and painting and tiling and grouting and bitching and moaning and packing and moving.

Then, when we moved, we had to deal with the consequences of having hired the incompetant thugs of Demenagement Alain Tremblay, a company that I suggest you avoid hiring, ever, under any circumstances. If you live in Rosemont, Hochelaga Maisonneuve, the Plateau Mont Royal or any of the surrounding neighbourhoods, you've seen their big blue box trucks, advertizing $30 an hour moves, any time, any where. Needless to say that once you hire them they charge more than $30 an hour and aren't anywhere near the professionals you might expect. In fact, besides being rude, vulgar, lazy and belligerent, they ripped our sofa, smashed some dishes, scratched our new floors and damaged the computer, necessitating a rather hefty bill for both a new monitor to replace the scrapped one and a new graphics card, to suppor the new monitor. Needless to say we're trying to get money back for our troubles, but I suspect that it's likely to go to court before we see a dime.

So now we're moved, but unfortunately not yet unpacked. The unpacking has begun, but as I'm also working a new job (No longer enslaved to Starbuck's Quebec franchise, owned and operated by the fairly un-friendly-to-their-employees Cafe Vision/ Cafe Elite Corporation which allows me better hours and pays significantly more than the pittance i was getting at Park and Laurier's Starbucks location) I've not had as much chance to do my share of the unpacking, so it goes slowly. I've got ten of roughly twenty book boxes for the office library unpacked, the kitchen's set up and the living room's well on its way to completion, though.

I've sold a couple more copies of The Unearthing, still hoping to sell more, and other than my work with Confront Magazine, I've unfortunately not had time to do much writing. I've reviewed a lot of stuff I've written and have decided I'm going to completely re-start The Aeons War, which is the third volume of The Macrocosm, the series of which Unearthing is volume one; this is owing to the fact that I'm just not happy with the direction what I've thusfar committed to paper has progressed. As I write by hand, unfortunately, this will entail a lot more work. I'll soon be working on the rewrite of Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind, chapters of which can be found at Phyte Magazine.

I'm also having some ideas about a story I wrote and published for the Jumpgate Web Portal a few years ago. The story in question was called Crossroads and for some reason it's started whispering in my ear some seven years after I wrote it. This happens sometimes in the night, as I lay down to sleep. You'll hear more about it, I'm sure as it grows more insistent. You might be able to find it, or portions of it, ins some Internet Archive somewhere...if you look hard enough.

...Yes, Tom, you and Angel both have been at me to revive this one for a long time...However, the story may be significantly different from what you remember.

So that's it for now...I promise a new post a lot sooner than the last one...still, I'm disappointed that fellatio in beer adverts garnered so little a response. Is anybody bloody reading this blog?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sex STILL being used to sell beer.

All summer long I, like many commuters, have been seeing this poster of a young guy at a rock concert, crowd surfing. Young beautiful people out having young beautiful times...It's for a rather mediocre Canadian beer. Something about the add just struck me as off...

Click on the pictures to enlarge them...don't forget to use the "back" button on your browser to return to this post.



Finally, I realized what it was...let's take a closer look, shall we?



So, there's the guy, at the crest of the "wave" logo that's been used to sell this particular fuzzy pee to consumers...do you notice it, yet? No? Well, look at this:



That's right...the guy is being fellated--or at least the suggestion is that he is being fellated--by that girl whose face is planted squarely in his crotch. Not only that, but he's pretty much the only male in the picture...so he's a young man being carried on the backs and shoulders of a whole bevy of young, beautiful women, one of whom is apparently fellating him entirely for his pleasure, given the ecstatic look on his face.

Next time you see this billboard, have a look.

Then write the Molson brewery and tell them how pathetic and offensive it is that they still use misogynistic, subliminal sex suggestions to sell beer to the youth market.

Here's their contact info:

Terry Beck

Title: District Sales Manager

Telephone: (204) 987-3901

Mailing Address

5-1080 Waverley St
WINNIPEG, Manitoba
R3T 5S4

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Musical Milestones

Two very important events happened in the world of music, this week…both of which have the potential of far-reaching consequences for society as a whole.

First, Apple’s iTunes online store passed three billion songs sold on 31 July; that number is up one billion from January, when the company’s sales passed the two billion mark.

What makes the iTunes sales record so significant is how effectively it silences the dinosaurs in the traditional economy who insist on trivializing the importance of the Internet as a vehicle to promote, distribute and sell products. Most businesses still don’t see the need of having online advertising, or for that matter an online store, and that has allowed sites like Amazon.com, eBay and iTunes to pretty well corner the market, simply by providing easy access and a user-friendly transaction service. The fact is, the middle-aged people who run the sales and marketing departments of most businesses just don’t get how significant the Internet is for anyone under 40.

Likewise, iTunes distributes music from artists that would otherwise not have any point of sale; acts like Stars of Track and Field, for example, make most of their sales from iTunes or the merch table when they’re playing a venue. Big-chain music stores might carry several hundred copies of the latest Top-40 product, but obscure or rare albums are harder to find; often, they must even be special ordered—take for example the fact that I am STILL waiting on Archambault Music here in Montreal to deliver on my order for ‘Centuries Before Love and War’, the Stars of Track and Field’s debut album.

That makes iTunes the Great Equalizer: they don’t care how small or big an artist is, how popular or obscure a music act is; if they have product to sell, iTunes will gladly sell it…again, the traditional record-store chain model fails in that regard.

My only complaint about iTunes is that their music format will only play on an iPod and their digital rights management software makes it well nigh impossible to convert those files to a format that will play on a regular MP3 player, unless you have better-than-average computer skills. While it’s obvious this hasn’t hurt iTunes or iPod sales, the fact is it does shut a significant portion of the market from benefiting from the service.

At first glance, the second musical milestone that happened this week might not seem, at least on the face of it, to be musically related, but in a very real sense, it is:

This week, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to send a peacekeeping force of 26 000 troops and civilian police officers, the largest number of UN peacekeepers to ever be deployed.

What makes this a significant musical milestone is that the United Nations only acted on Darfur after ordinary people around the world put mounting pressure on their governments to do something. And the people who pressured their governments did so only after Darfur was pushed into the public consciousness because of activists who raised awareness about the crisis by hosting benefit concerts for Darfur in their local communities.

It was the efforts of these activists and the often-unknown-outside-their-communities music acts that played that raised awareness about the issue. Small venues in several different cities hosted the concerts. On the local level it was only a handful of individuals who worked diligently, anonymously and often thanklessly to raise awareness in their schools, their neighborhoods and their cities. But that local-level work was multiplied hundreds of times across hundreds of cities around the world. Arguably, the peacekeeping force about to be deployed into Darfur wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for those small, local benefit concerts.

While we have seen UN peacekeeping efforts turn into travesties in the past, notably in the former Yugoslav Republic, I believe that there exists more than just a glimmer of hope that the Darfur Peacekeeping force will succeed. Too many people have worked to make this happen, and too much is at stake for it to fail.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mystery Music

I call upon my readers and music aficionados to help me out, this week.

A lot of the time we have to rely on free play music sites like www.mp3.com or www.muchmusic.com/music/ or http://music.aol.com in order to review an album for our site. Such was the case this week, when I went to mp3.com to listen to Sum 41’s latest offering, ‘Underclass Hero’.

Right now (unless MP3.com has repaired the mistake), when you click on the free-play for Sum 41’s new album, what you end up listening to most definitely is NOT ‘Underclass Hero’.

When I listened to it, I knew it wasn’t what I was looking for, but the haunting, acoustic guitar and folk-music sensibilities of the mystery album were so poetic, so moving that I had to discover what it was.

I scoured mp3.com trying to line up the music; I Googled the first stanza of the first song, “I met a girl on Halloween / When she was lost and I was drunk / And it was dark and cold out when we left…” and I still wasn’t able to find out what it was!

I’m asking everyone to go to http://www.mp3.com/free-music/ to listen to it (where, hopefully, it remains misclassified) and if anyone recognizes the artist, please reply to this post or email me, thanks!

Whatever this mystery album is and whoever the artist is, I want to be able to encourage them by buying the CD and be able to post the rave review I think the album deserves.


To do that though, I need YOUR help!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Curmudgeon’s look at Live Earth.


I realize, like a lot of people, that the planet is in a bad way. In fact, given that I studied (in a cursory manner) geology and the cause of mass extinctions while writing “The Unearthing”, I know damn well that Humankind is standing on a precipice that could very well lead to our demise.

So when I heard about the Live Earth concerts being held this weekend around the world, it initially seemed to be an important moment, especially given the caliber of performers who are attending these extravaganzas around the globe.

However, the fact is that even with the global predominance of television and the Internet, most of the world’s citizens, including people in North America, Europe and the other “First World” members, will not see the event, nor will they care.

Why? For the most part, I dare say a genuine lack of interest. Live Earth fails because of its format: Nine lavish benefit concerts around the world, televised, broadcast online and on all the music video channels. But other than the people who are there, everyone else is just a vicarious observer, not even a witness to the event.

Few of the people watching will be impacted, and only the people at the actual shows will feel as though they are part of that Wave of Change that people at such events inevitably get swept up in.

And I’m not immune to getting swept up in such waves, either. Largely the reason I wrote the piece about Darfur a few months back was because of being swept up in a wave at a concert-for-Darfur.

However, the student groups who put on the Darfur concerts succeeded precisely because they weren’t putting on a show that was more of a Big Deal than the cause it purported to support.

Now, I’m not saying that the celebrities and musicians involved with Live Earth are cynically using the event for the sake of being in the Spotlight. In fact, I believe many if not most of them actually believe in the Cause they are playing today to support.

The reason that Live Earth will fail to effect any real change is that Live Earth is about Live Earth; it’s a spectacle, a side-show, a carnival attraction.

Likewise, there is a lot more going on in the world today than Live Earth: Over a hundred people are dead from a single car bomb in Iraq…Alan Johnston, who was held hostage for more than four months, has finally arrived home in England…Montreal’s annual jazz festival has brought tens of thousands of tourists to town for the weekend…Venus Williams just won Wimbledon; I’m sure Live Earth isn’t paramount on any of their minds, today.

Which is why the think-global-act-local approach, with viral marketing and getting your friends to come out and see you play and the one or two big celebrity surprise guest method used to spread awareness of the Darfur crisis works so well: globally, local people are raising awareness and affecting change.

And if the people behind Live Earth were doing this, recruiting promoters and music acts locally on a global scale, advertising each concert in the local media, in the schools and posting bills on every lamppost and vacant wall, they’d reach more people, spread the message more powerfully and get the word out a hell of a lot more effectively than this nine-show extravaganza going on today.

Live Earth is modern media lip-service, despite however many people who are involved. Give me two or three student groups and a small-act booking agent in every city where concerned students and promotion-hungry small-to-medium acts meet, and I will give you the world.

Live Earth fails because it has put the spectacle ahead of the cause.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Unearthing? Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind.


Over the last several months, if not the last year, the focus of my writing has shifted from writing novels to music journalism.

I suspect a lot of that has to do with the fact that my first published novel, “The Unearthing” has performed so poorly, whereas my time with CONFRONT MAGAZINE has pretty much given me a real audience and allowed me to review a lot of good music and interview a lot of great musicians. I’ve also been able to use the magazine as a platform to discuss more serious issues, like the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

I dare say I’ve even made a couple of friends out of it, and gotten to live a little of the life portrayed in Cameron Crowe’s marvelous film, “Almost Famous”.

But it’s been almost a year since I’ve been able to write fiction; oh, I start projects up but they peter out, either because I lose interest or, more often, because the stories don’t seem to go anywhere after the first few dozen pages. I’ve a couple of novels that I’d finished prior to this descent into the cold Hell that is Writer’s Block, but I’ve not successfully completed writing a novel since some time late last year.

Recently an old friend emailed me, having just purchased my one and so far only published novel. God bless her, she didn’t even try and finagle a discount. Being an avid reader, however, she seized upon the opportunity to pick the brains of the writer whose work she was reading. While dissecting “The Unearthing” we started discussing another novel that I’d finished work on last year and I even sent her some sample chapters to put under her literary microscope.

The novel in question, under the working title “Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind”, chronicles the lives of six friends involved in a college bar band in the early 1990s, during the height of the Grunge era. Some chapters of that novel saw the light of day at PHYTE MAGAZINE, but other than that, not much came of it. Yes, it’s a novel I plan to eventually publish, even hiring an illustrator to do some artwork to include in the book.

But like so many other writing projects, I’ve been avoiding it, not feeling confident enough to pick it up for a re-read and revision. “The Unearthing”, a novel that I spent nearly ten years of my life writing, rewriting, revising and updating, a novel whose publication was oh-so very important to me has stalled and coasted to a halt in the box canyon of obscurity, has loomed large in my mind since I realized (and admitted) just how poorly it had sold.

But, having discussed it with my friend and having started looking at “Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind” with her (and getting some much-needed critical feedback), I decided it might be time to have another look at that Grunge-Era novel, pick it up again and start working on readying the project for eventual publication.

The first place I started, however, wasn’t with the story itself, but with the music I listened to while writing the novel. Much of the music I listened to while writing “Nevermind” was, of course, from the 1990s. However, there were some old standards from the 60s, 70s and even the godforsaken 1980s. The playlist I built successfully captures the overall tone of the novel and probably did more than a little to inspire the novel’s writing.

All that to say that while I am now officially back at work on completing “Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind”, I would like to start by sharing that playlist with you. Obviously I can’t legally share the music files with you per se, but using the list you can probably cobble together the music for yourself.

If you do decide to, I hope you enjoy listening to the selections. Maybe you could even suggest some music that I could add to the list.

Music Inspirational to the Writing of “Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind” :

01 – “Tones of Home”, Blind Melon
02 – “Mellow Yellow”, Donovan
03 – “Dancing Days”, Led Zeppelin
04 – “Hunger Strike”, Temple of the Dog
05 – “Little Wing”, Jimi Hendrix
06 – “So What?”, Ministry
07 – “Head Like a Hole”, Nine Inch Nails
08 – “Dominion / Mother Russia”, The Sisters of Mercy
09 – “Love Buzz”, Nirvana
10 – “Hard to Handle”, The Black Crowes
11 – “Get Here”, Oleta Adams
12 – “Breaking the Girl”, Red Hot Chili Peppers
13 – “Detachable Penis”, King Missile
14 – “Riders on the Storm”, The Doors
15 – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, Guns & Roses
16 – “Push”, Stone Temple Pilots
17 – “About a Girl”, Nirvana
18 – “Drug Buddies”, The Lemonheads
19 – “Kid Fears”, Indigo Girls
20 – “I’m Still Alive”, Pearl Jam
21 – “Take A Walk on the Wild Side”, Lou Reed
22 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, U2
23 – “Locked in the Trunk of a Car”, The Tragically Hip
24 – “You Give Love a Bad Name”, Bon Jovi
25 – “Unbelievable”, EMF
26 – “Been Caught Stealin’”, Jane’s Addiction
27 – “Runaway Train”, Soul Asylum
28 – “Old Woman Behind The Counter”, Pearl Jam
29 – “Higher State of Consciousness”, Josh Wink
30 – “Think About You”, Radiohead
31 – “’Round Here”, Counting Crows
32 – “Time After Time”, Cyndi Lauper
33 – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Tori Amos
34 – “Closer to Fine”, Indigo Girls
35 – “No Excuses”, Alice in Chains.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dolores O'Riordan and the Stars of Track and Field


So, I’ve been very busy of late with a lot of different projects for CONFRONT Magazine. The two most pressing have been doing research for a phone interview I had on Tuesday with Dolores O’Riordan, formerly of The Cranberries, about her new solo project (though we spent a lot of time talking about her kids) and transcribing the interview I did back in March, with Daniel Orvik of the Stars of Track and Field.

The Dolores O’Riordan interview was really thrilling for me, because I’ve been a fan of her music since ‘Everyone Else is Doing it Why Aren’t We?’ which was the Cranberries’ debut CD. Dolores O’Riordan also qualifies as my “first” big celebrity interview and I’m fairly sure it’s the first time I’ve gotten an overseas call from Germany, which is where she was on Tuesday.

The Stars of Track and Field are, of course, a band whose music I love and enjoy, a band whose music deserves a far larger audience than it’s currently getting, thanks in no small part to the recalcitrance of corporate radio to play something that doesn’t easily fit into the mould of what their focus groups tell them the kids are listening to these days.

As I listened to my interview with Daniel Orvik to transcribe it for this edition’s Beat Bazaar, I was reminded of how well he and I hit it off, talking and joking throughout the interview.

I think that my time with CONFRONT Magazine has taught me to better appreciate music, simply because I’ve learned so much about what goes into the production of an album and how hard those musicians work to get their stuff out there, even after they have “made it”, per se.

By nature (and I speak from personal experience as an author) artists tend to desire acceptance and approval from other people. Life on the road for all but a very few lucky musicians who can tour with their closest family and friends tends to be very lonely, so I imagine it must be gratifying for them to meet anybody they can relate to, especially when that person appreciates their music.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I can't keep it in any more...I HATE the homeless...

...except for very few cases, these bums are the architects of their own misery.

And, having several use the sidwalk outside the coffee shop I work at as a base of operations, I also know that many of them earn more in a day than a lot of us. The number of people stupid enough to give them $5 or more, buy them groceries, and gush all over them...White Lexus Liberal guilt at its finest.

What none of these insipid bleeding hearts realize is what fncking parasites these "homeless" are...taking us all for a ride.

Given the level of disrespect and contempt that they display to society and to the very fools who soon part with their money to feed these filth? I work for a living, and I earn every goddamn cent I make and I'm barely able to scrape by! These bastards just sit around all day and wait to be GIVEN everything to them! WHAT respect are they deserving of? The only reason I don't want to see them rounded up and shot is because I'm opposed to capital punishment.

If it were up to me the homeless would be rounded up and put to work in labour camps, along with most prisoners, in order to train them to become productive members of society.

Friday, June 01, 2007

THE WARLOCKS STILL ROCK!




I am pleased this week to pass on some information about my favourite underappreciated rock band, the Warlocks.

This week Bobby Hecksher, frontman and founder of The Warlocks, announced that the band had signed with Tee Pee Records and have been in the studio since last month, recording tracks for a new CD.

My old readers all know that I fell in love with the sound of the Warlocks back in March of last year when I went to see the Sisters of Mercy perform their first show in Montreal in 14 years. The Warlocks were their opening act and I was so taken by their music that I went out and got their whole catalogue.

Every so often I devote a CONFRONT MAGAZINE Broadcast to the band and they’ll be perpetually on my best of lists. Their music is trippy rock and roll, fusing elements from the whole Rock Spectrum: blues, arena, anthem, trip, and metal all into one unique sound.

The Warlocks have been around the better part of ten years, coming together in 1999 when Hecksher joined forces with guitarist Corey Lee, Bassist Jenny Fraser, keyboardist Laura Grigsby, and drummers Bob Mustacio and Jason Anchondo. That’s right: The Warlocks use two drummers—and you can’t believe what that does for their sound!

These guys put out one of the best live shows you can hope to see; none of the ridiculous costume changes, wire-flying and stage theatrics that so many pretentious acts use to cover up their actual lack of stage presence.

And they’ve weathered problems that have crushed other bands, from losing band-mates and lawsuits, to break-ins and thefts to being dumped by their label in the middle of a tour.

The news that they’ve signed to a label that’s put out some of the best acts out there in rock music and that they’re recording new material is something we should all be encouraged by: they don’t sound a thing like any of the acts that are getting attention these days.

Their sound is unique and original, and bloody fresh given the cookie cutter acts mentioned above. It’s just what the music listening public needs right now: something wholly new. The Industry’s been feeding us hamburger for too damn long. It’s going to be nice to sink into a nice, juicy steak.

The Warlocks Official Site : http://www.thewarlocks.com/

The Warlocks MySpace : http://myspace.com/thewarlocks

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Jeunes Patriotes are traitors...


Tomorrow in most of the Commonwealth is Queen Victoria's Birthday, or Victoria Day

However, as usual, here in the French Separatist bastion of Quebec, the racist and anti-Canada squad of traitorous fiends, cowards and intellectually challenged inbred French farmers, the day has been renamed "La Journee Des Patriotes" and is a celebration of Quebec Separatism.

The theme of this year's little Hitler Youth style "A Bas Les Maudits Anglais" and "Canada Sucks Hostie Tabarnac" Jean-Guy Pepper rally is "Quebec Not' Seul Pays" or "Quebec: Our Only Country"

Basically these ignorant savage bigots ignore that twice in thirty years the people of this PROVINCE have voted to REMAIN CANADIAN and not for their separatist option of turning Quebec into a North American Belgrade of ethnic cleansing and anti-English hatred.

Over the last thirty years in Quebec, I've seen a very deliberate and patient hostility towards the English, the Jews, Non-Catholics and anyone else who isn't a "Pure Laine" Quebecois. Basically, the French people in the province, descendants all of criminals and mental patients exiled from France to live in the Colonies, seem to think that, despite all the special treatment they receive from Canada, that they're getting a raw deal. They're dissatisfied that they've criminalized English comemrcial signs, made it impossible for people to choose whether t heir children are educated in English or in French, made it impossible for me to get government service, health care or even a fucking cup of Coffee at Starbucks unless I do so by speaking French.


The litany of crimes against the English Community committed by the government and French speaking people of this Province is long and disgusting. From renaming English streets after French Separatist icons to ERASING WHOLE TOWNS FROM THE MAP, the Quebec Government and separatist traitor organizations like the Societe St Jean Baptiste, Jeunes Patriotes and other evolved-from-the-terrorist-FLQ Movement has made it their sole object to make the English Speaking community, a long-standing historic community, unwelcome in their own home.


The little French Patriotes are staging a jamboree tomorrow in honour of their patriotism. Little to these seditious fucking bastards realize that they are in fact traitors to the greatest fucking country on Earth, the only country that would allow their obnoxious language and traditions and so-called "culture" to continue to exist as a festering boil on the rest of the country.


That country is CANADA, and tomorrow, on Patriot's Day, I indend to FLY THE FLAG PROUDLY.


This is CANADA you separatist motherfucks! GO BACK TO FRANCE if you don't like it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More on DRM...


Article written by: stevekMay 9, 2007, 11:05 pm

I was recently able to solve a problem I was having with my "The Matrix Revisited DVD". Namely, I was having a digital rights management issue.


On the DVD are some forty-plus audio tracks that were either featured in or listened to while writing the Matrix series of films.

Anyone who knows me knows how big a freak I am for the Matrix movies.

Understandibly, I wanted to upload these tracks from the DVD to my computer so that I could listen to them on my MP3 player.

The problem is, the music tracks on the DVD aren’t layered as MP3 files, but are embedded in a DVD playback layer. This means it is impossible to just drag and drop them from the DVD to the computer.

Why was this done? For the same reason some CDs require you to register them before you can make a limited number of copies of the audio files therein.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that shows that file sharing can actually help boost CD sales, the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America has been fighting against online file sharing for quite some time.

No one can deny that a lot of the file sharing going on is abusive, but we’ve also heard from new artists over and over again how useful file sharing is, in promoting unknown, unsigned and even newly-signed artists.

Likewise, file sharing is no different than buying a CD and then giving that CD to someone else who then gives it to someone else after, or checking a CD out at a library.

So far, the compromise on online file sharing has been downloadable music stores like iTunes and the new Napster, but there are still P2P networks like Morpheus, LimeWire and IRC networks that make file swapping very easy.

One of the retaliatory countermeasures against this has been to put copy protection algorithms onto music CDs, and limit the availability of those music files.

We all remember a few years ago when one of those countermeasures was effectively a malware that crashed any PC that attempted to play the “protected” CD.

Similarly, by layering in the songs on the “Matrix Revisited” DVD as a DVD layer, it meant that I had no digital access to songs that I own as part and parcel of that DVD.

I don’t intend on redistributing those songs, nor do I intend on making any kind of a profit from them. I just want to be able to listen to them and enjoy them on my MP3 player.

With the guidance of one of those sages who understands the ways of the Internet Tubes, I discovered Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/), a lovely open-source software that allows you to record any audio source on or connected to your computer to the hard drive.

If you’ve experienced similar frustrations when trying to circumvent DRM blockades to fair proprietary use of music you have purchased, I wholeheartedly recommend the software.

Likewise, I’d like to hear from you, dear reader, about any digital rights management issues you’ve had. I want to know just how prevalent the problem is, and what solutions or work-arounds you might have.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Friendz iz Better Than Internetz


With the help of my friend WTL over in Ottawa, I was able to solve a problem I was having with my The Matrix Revisited DVD. Namely, I was having a digital rights management issue.

On the DVD are some forty-plus audio tracks that were either featured in or listened to while writing the Matrix series of films.

Anyone who knows me knows how big a freak I am for the Matrix movies. Understandibly, I wanted to upload these tracks from the DVD to my computer so that I could listen to them on my MP3 player.

But...nothing I could figure out would get the tracks free...checking the DVD's root structure...nothing I could do found me the tracks.
So, of course, I put a call in to the man that Google turns to when it needs to find something, my buddy WTL.

While I was busy searching the Internetz for things like "How to extract music files from a DVD" or "matrix revisited music tracks", which to me seems self-explanatory, but the Googles seemed to think I was looking for other things than how to get the music files off of MY DVD and onto MY MP3 player.

WTL walked me thru a couple of steps, then suggested I look for an open-sourced audio sampling software. Well that's how I found Audacity, a lovely open-source software that allows you to record any audio source on or connected to your computer to the hard drive.
What took me hours of frustration, WTL was able to help me solve in minutes. I guess that's why he runs a business that is very descriptive of his talents, Technomages. They run software and website design out of Ottawa, but in this age of magic internetz tubes you don't have to be in Ottawa to get their services...check them out if you're looking to set up a website, looking for to make your existing site W3C Compliant.

Needless to say I'm now able to extract the audio files from the DVD to my computer and import them to my MP3. YAY! It's going to take for friggin' ever, but it's still worth it.

Now, WTL might not believe in supernatural aparitions in office building windows in Montreal, but he sure as hell knows his way around them their Internetz tubes.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wierd Scenes...


I happened upon this today by accident...I was walking from the place I now call "Home" as far as going coffee-drinking / writing.
The building in the images below are all of the same window on the second floor of a building on the corner of St-Denis and Laurier in Montreal.
Yes, these images are probably largely the work of coincidence and dirt and water, but where some men see coincidence, others see providence.
I honestly don't have an opinion one way or another...you decide.







Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Work In Progress...Site Update



As you can all see, I'm currently updating the look of my weblog. New features include a new section, "Chronicles of an Independant Author", in which you'll find a list of my entries in this journal on my quest for self-publication.

Changes are ongoing, but ever in the hopes of actually getting new readers, I'll be fancying the place up a bit.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Words of Advice on Publish America...



Last night I happened upon a recent message sent to my MySpace account.

It was from a fellow independant author, who is contemplating going with Publish America, as I did for The Unearthing, asking for a little advice.

----------------- Original Message -----------------

From: Ratsy and Kitten

Date: 4/14/2007 6:19:00 PM

Hi, I see that youre a PublishAmerica author. I saw some of your posts to another blog or something and then ran across you here so I thought I would ask you about PA. Would you if you could do it over again go with PA?

I currently have their contract in my hands for a childrens book.

After seeing some things about PA I am holding on to it while I think about signing it.

Do you think they are as bad as people are saying? I mean I hear bad stuff about Ford and Chevy all the time but I would buy their trucks so I am trying to make sense about whether a new un published author should take a deal with PA.

If you have some time to reply with your opinion I would appreciate it.

James Roudon. "Ratsy and Kitten"

----------------- My Reply -----------------

From: Kspace

Date: Apr 28, 2007 6:10 PM

Basically, Publish America has a bad rep, because of mistakes that were made during its first couple of years of inception. I wouldn't have gone with them THEN, but they are a different company NOW.

That, being said, there are certain things you have to consider before publishing with PA.

The onus will be all on you to market your novel. When I went with PA, I had anticipated remaining at my former employer's and being able to use my annual stock dividend cheque at the end of the year of publication of my book to launch as agressive a marketing campaign as I could.

PA won't do much to market your novel, although it will be placed with every major online book retailer around the world; that's a big part of the battle solved right there, but you'll be hard pressed to get any books into a major retail chain store.

I've sold, to date, four copies of my novel. This is not the fault of PA; I knew going in that I'd have to do the lion's share of the marketing...one of the reasons I went with them instead of going the full self-published route is that they picked up the tab for the printing of my book--an expense I would not have been able to afford.

When I lost my job at my former employer I also lost my stock options; I therefore was never able to mount my marketing campaign.

You need to have between five and ten grand to mount a successful marketing for a book. We're fighting an uphill battle because of the company's rep and because we're "nobody" authors. But money goes a long way to solving that problem if you can get the right advice.

The trouble is, without money, you'd have to spend about eight to ten hours a day going from site to site, board to board, chat room to chat room, community to community to market your novel...a commitment I could not live up to, but if you can then yes, you can be successful doing that.

Stephen Oliverez is an author (not with PA) who did just that and he's sold several thousand copies of his first novel. He's listed in my friends, so check him out and get some advice from him as well...tell him I say "hi".

Getting back to my weblog, the best advice I can offer is there, in the archives; most of the entries are about my quest to publish "The Artifact" (re-christened "The Unearthing" after I signed on with PA) and what I've learned along the way.

Thanks for thinking of me on your advice with PA.

Best of luck to you; let me know what happens!