2005-06-28

Why Blogging Matters

In the last few days, I have been thinking about the so called blog revolution. What is its purpose and raison d'etre and does it really matter? Worse, do people care?

The last bit is an elusive rhetorical question to which I won't attempt to rationalize. People don't care about a lot of things. Gauging and studying people's behaviour is a forever changing dynamic. We still don't know what is the psychological profile and preferences of a supermarket shopper with any authority. People are, well, weird.

'Blog' is such an ugly word. It's a name given to an alien in an Ed Wood film. Or on The Simpsons - Kodos, Kang and Blog together again! And yes, there are many, many, many awful, irrelevant and not-so well presented blogs in the blogosphere. It's filled with nonsense and stupidities.

Yet, there are many excellent ones too. And this is where we should focus our energies when we think of blogging. Focusing on the negatives is all too a modern fad. Besides, are there not both great and pathetic journalists out there? Good and bad newspapers? Authors? Blogging is no different.

More importantly, and subjectively, blogging is mutually inclusive and directly compatible with the principles of democracy. It gives a voice to many who have no outlet to express their inner thoughts and ideas. Why should it be restricted to an oligarchy of aristocratic journalists? How many times have we heard about how many journalists "were at the right place at the right time" or were just plain "lucky" with their new jobs?

Let me expand. The last time newspapers expanded in Canada and hired on a big scale was way back in the 80s. For example, all those sports writers who were hired are not retiring soon. So...what to do with people who love to write but have no shot at job security. See where I'm going with this?

This does not to demean the art of journalism in any way. In itself, may bloggers would not cut it as journalists or writers for that matter. Journalists are trained professionals and blogging on this front could never realistically challenge it. Blogging is not a replacement or substitute for journalism. However, many journalists and other accomplished people now blog also.

Blogging is a compliment to journalism. Together they search for "truth" - however one may define this. Where journalism fails (given the sad state of media) blogging can take over. People will allow their perceptions to reinforce their beliefs at the expense of truth everywhere. But blogging is the latest step toward truly democratic environment. One can get information in real time from several different perspectives almost instantly now.

Blogging is the latest step towards a democratic civilization. Traditional media can ignore this but expect to see both print and blog merge in some form one day.

Blogging is also a vehicle by which creative minds can finally express themselves without being at the mercy of a publishing house or corporation. Let freedom reign.

Note: Dedicated to the Parti-Quebecois and L'Office de la Langue Francaise (who would try and silence this blog for being written in English. Too much English on the internet!) and their reactionary ethno-tribal nationalism that hinges on the emotion and rhetoric. The truth will come out. If not already. The fiefdom you seek may still be within grasp but in it you will find the utter banality and contradiction of your existence.

2005-06-25

Sports Comments: NBA, Tim Duncan, U.S. Grand Prix, Legacies, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ronaldinho

-The NBA realistically and practically struck a deal within days that the unrealistic and impractical NHL was not able to. The NHL lost a whole season before cooler heads prevailed. For some that comes at too high a price. True both sides played hardball but the owners were right this time around and the players association shot themselves in the foot. As a result, they will get a less favourable deal. Lessons, lessons. Learned lessons? What's that?

-Tim Duncan was named MVP following San Antonio's game 7 victory over the Detroit Pistons in the NBA finals. Duncan is one of those rare all-round great basketball players who faces each game with class and quiet reserve. Unfortunately, this is not good enough for some fans and the media who want all flash all the time. The bad boy element of the NBA is what attracts the lowest common denominator. It seems the more guns'n tatooes one has the more over-rated they are likely to be. It was interesting to listen to experts on ESPN and other sports shows basically set-up Duncan for a fall if the Spurs would have lost. That he was soft, that he won one championship without David Robinson and so on. He's fine for now. Had he lost we would have seen a great injustice hurled upon one of the all-time great athletes.

-As days have gone by more and more information and revelation comes forth that shows how unprofessional and bias journalists were in insidiously somehow attempting to blame Ferrari at the U.S. Grand Prix. It was a sad spectacle indeed but keep the blame squarely where it belongs - with Michelin.

The teams who refused to take a penalty subsequently came up with a ridiculous 'solution' that amounted to a farce while Max Mosely who refused to make a decision. Ferrari, in the end, made the only decision they could make that was reasonable to their team, fans and sponsors. It was not a hollow victory as they broke no rules. It was not up to Ferrari to make such important decisions. After all it is a competition and had the tables been turned around there would have been no debate about it. The other teams would have insisted that Jordan, Minardi and Ferrari sat down. As far as I am concerned, Ferrari had every right to celebrate at the end. For the anti-Ferrari element, consider F1 without Ferrari. The fiasco showcased two things: the lack of accountability in today's world and the emergence of the egalitarian sports fan that insists on clipping any form of dominance.

-I never understood why in debating the greatest athletes in team sports having won a championship was a determining or major criteria. Surely, winning a title takes a total team effort and some of the great athletes, like Marcel Dionne, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Dan Marino and Charles Barkley (to name a few), did not always play on great teams. This should take away from their greatness. It should come into the equation but it should not be a final determining factor. Too many athletes and their legacy are shafted as a result.

-The Hockey Hall of Fame is a joke by the way. It's filled with players who never dominated.

-Could someone buy Brazilian and Barcelona midfielder Ronaldhino some braces? He could hurt someone with those things. While we're at it, can someone purchase dentures and some Freedent for striker Carlos Teves of Argentina?

-World Cup 2006 will have the usual suspects challenging - Brazil, Argentina and possibly Germany. Though some questions remain for Brazil. What of the other great power Italy? Many people lament the state of Italian soccer but this may be imprecise. No nation, besides Brazil, on earth produces as many great players position for position. What Italy lacks is grit and leadership. Their track record is impressive in the 1990s. Consider: 3rd place World Cup '90, finalists in '94 and quarter-finalists in '98 - in each case losing in shoot-out, In fact, they rarely lose outright. At Euro 2000, it took a phantom 4 minutes of added time for them to lose and at Euro 2004 they bowed out without losing a game. Italy is fine, they just some luck and a better attitude among some of their players. Maybe they should look at the '82 club that won. That team was filled with leaders and character.

-I never understood how so-called sports fans or experts on T.V. or the radio can dismiss soccer as being a great sport. In fact, some of them make fun of the sport. Ridiculous. If you are true sports fan you appreciate all sports on some level even the ones you don't get - like synchronized swimming.

2005-06-23

Max: Anti-employed.

Today I was thinking about the direction, or lackthereof, of my life. I tried in vain to try and find a catalyst that could possibly lead me into some direction. Nothing. In between, I make espressos, read the papers and exercise. All events that defer my inevitable decline as a human being. Decline? Shit, you have to reach some pinnacle in order to 'decline'. Empires decline. Me, I'm just a mere collection of wasted bacteria, cells and ameobas. The adipocere will stink the autopsy, if they bother to perform one, table. I was snapped out of this rather unnecessary semi-depressive trance when my mother asked if I wanted salad after meal. Fuck, salad.

You can try and drive away your concerns, by actually driving a vehicle if you desire, but like the grim reaper there is no way to escape it. Don't fear the reaper as that old Blue Oyster Cult went, or you'll go mad. Mad enough to stop in front of a restaurant window where people are sitting, pick your nose and smear the shnott (s) down with your hand wide spread. Or pull out your cock and jack-off and cream on the window and wipe it with a squee-gee. Or just plainly stop and begin to yell animated gibberish.

On a positive note I bought some kitchen garbage bags today. I splurged and bought 'Glad'. You get less but they are tougher. I'm not one of those economic consumers that weighs out every option to derive the most from a dollar. I don't use them. I eat them. Dollar here, dollar there. I figure if that's how I have to live to retire merely comfortably fuck it. These are tough times for our generation. The baby boomers put everything out of whack. The next great age is when they all die and the generation that is present when the last narcissist dies is the one that is going to benefit. Until then, the rest of us work, eat and live to support those assholes. Worse, we even have to listen to them argue about politics on T.V, give their arrogant opinions about history and whatever else these post modern pricks want to shove down our throats.

Oh yeah, positive note. Let's see, let's.....see.

2005-06-22

Semi-Thoughts on Liberal Intolerance, Quebec as Tin-Pot and American Hegemony

-I read somewhere about Sean Penn's attack on 'Team America-World Police' and it prompted the following thoughts.

Team America is a funny movie. Witty in its logic, writing and parody of Bruckheimer films and modern celebrity. I have very little tolerance for people who speak of freedom (in all its forms) but seek to suppress it when it does not fit their own private poorly constructed ethos. Liberals (insert your own definition) fear the oppressive nature of modern American politics.

Robert Crumb escaped the theocracy for freer spaces in France. One man's tea is another man's coffee or espresso - whatever. At least he made good on his word - not like those cowards who threatened to leave but stuck around.

The problem is not the armada of various branches found in conservatism but of the ironic fact that liberals are acting like traditional conservatives of yesteryear in holding on to their world view. While progressive conservatives, again ironically, seek to preserve all the ideals and inroads brought and fought by the American liberal tradition.

Follow? Me either.

Liberals cling to outmoded and irrelevant philosophies that are hopelessly out of touch with most Americans and they refuse to acknowledge this. Worse, they seem prepared to cram it down people's throats.

Which brings me back to Penn. His self-serving moronic escapades in Iraq and at the UN has not contributed anything insightful to international relations but it has revealed the limitations to celebrity influence. They go from beloved movie stars to irrelevant buffoons in a hurry. As I pointed out in past blogs, there has been a blurring of job lines where everyone feels compelled to over step their boundaries - it's a culture of ultracrepidarians.

Penn is an artist and has decided to publicly attack another artists work. No one seemed to attack Michael Moore's utterly repugnant films in Hollywood. Sure they didn't - it fit their world view. Tyranny, alas, comes in many forms.

-Speaking of intellectual tyranny, on a more local level, right here in Montreal, the Montreal Gazette employs a pseudo-sports writer who condescendingly feels the need to lecture his readers on history and politics through a narrow prism of nonsensical babble speak that would make the Jabberwocky proud.

They say you are only as strong as your weakest link and the sports pages of that paper are poorer for keeping his self-serving and oft hypocritical column in print. He is incredibly personal and intolerant in his reporting. It's all so, well, boring and tiresome. Bring us someone who can offer real deep thought provoking insights free of the stench we find in a dirty University water-hole where narcissistic neo-hippie boomers wallow. The only real zero in Montreal is Jack Todd.

-For you Americans reading this blog if you ever happen to read any stories about Quebec separatism where its political class and masters claim to be democratic do not believe it. This province is a sunken treasure of golden jewelery for anyone interested in studying the contradictions found in a democratic society. With recent confirmed reports about the treasonous and scandalous behaviour of the Parti-Quebecois (a political party on par with 19th century socialist romantic doctrines) and its treatment of voting irregularities in many English speaking polls across the province is something you hear in tin-pot banana republics. Mind you, Quebec is not too far off this reality at times.

Revolutionary protectors of the French culture have taken this paranoid stance a little too far. It has built and designed itself an intellectual framework to justify their exclusionary ideology. Worse, it plays with its citizens future by using manipulative and creative junk rhetoric that exploits people on an emotional level to push their heroin induced madness. They have no plan to secede. They plan to wing-it so to speak. This speaks volumes to the actual maturity level of the independent movement in this sometimes backward political swamp land where free-thinking is dead. And oh yes, unemployment is as high as 20% in some regions. If they secede, the economic engine of Montreal should pack its bags quickly to not be a part of this pathetic exercise.

Here's a small insight into how this second-rate political expression behaves. They have elected officials in Ottawa who have a mandate to break up the country - they earn a Federal pension paid by all Canadians. They talk of killing Canada but want their money - merci. Of course, they argue they are entitled to it. Much like a teenager who wants to rent a loft downtown to express their independence only they expect their parents to pay for it. It is also home to a language watch-dog outfit known as the language police which amounts to public harassment. They literally fine hard-working, law abiding citizens who pay taxes for not observing the provinces repressive language laws. They roam the streets of Montreal with rulers measuring the size of English letters on store windows. I kid not. Such a sophisticated society. The gimme, gimme society where the unions rule all. If its own economic base is not free-standing how could its intellectual classes who are slaves to their inept theories.

-Here are a couple of eye-opening stats about the ubiquitous American hegemony that seeks to dominate us all. While spending on the military is staggering in the U.S. (though it is tiny on a percentage level given the sheer enormity of its economy), U.S. bases (which are being trimmed for strategic purposes) across the globe is smaller than what it was during the height of the Roman Empire. So much for that. America is a disinterested empire that has not yet come to the full realization that it is one. Only when they do will they be able to narrow down the bad public relations image largely built on perceived contradictions. London used locals to build and expand societies liberal traditions. While America's attempt to export this tradition is not as bad as people think, though it has some notable failures, it suffers from a lack of adjustment it needs to make in order to effectively get the job done in place like Afghanistan and Iraq.

One area American hegemony creates much anger is culture - namely through pop culture. True, American pop culture is massively popular and powerful in its breathtaking scope. However, what little is known is how much America imports and borrows ideas. Just look at how many internationals work for and with NASA - including many Canadians. Many famous American shows have been off-shoots and derivatives of programming from places like Canada, Britain and Australia. Its films often borrowed from ideas Germany, Italy and France and more recently Japan (including comics and animation). That is the beauty of America. Its ability to absorb so many ideas and talent from abroad and make it uniquely American. So much for the narrow-minded and self-absorbed American. It seems to me that a society can't be both successful internationally and be self-absorbed internally entirely.

According to 'Screen Digest' a recent study published in the recent 'Foreign Policy' issue Britain leads all nations in total of hours of film exported in 2004. They were followed by The Netherlands, U.S., Australia and Sweden. Notice where America is - in 3rd - though not too far off. Nonetheless, it makes an important statement. India itself produces twice as many movies as the U.S. France, one of the more vocal anti-American culture freaks, imports the most hours. No one is twisting their arm.

On a side note, much is said about anti-Americanism (where it is not uncommon to hear intellectually depraved comments like 'rogue nation' lives) these days as institute like the Pew reveal but I suspect pro-Americanism is much more powerful in the world. The 'we love Americans but not their President' stance is hogwash to me. You judge a country by how many people want to get in it.

There is a direct comparison to be made to Renaissance Italy and its wealthy and remarkable republican city-states. Italy was the gateway to everything coming from Byzantium, the Middle-East and Asia. Italian merchants and artists were constantly exposed to what was happening in what was at the time more advanced societies. The genius of Italy was how it mastered the commercial aspect (thus inventing, enhancing and perfecting accounting and banking practices for example) of trade and more importantly how it learned and added a uniquely Italian twist to all things. Soon enough, Italy became a financial and cultural center that influenced Western culture. Its achievements remain with us until this day. The flowering and expansion of Occidental culture found a rebirth in Italy for the second time (the first being in Rome) only it was now Milan, Florence and Venice who were the purveyors of humanism that led to all remarkable discoveries. It literally woke up Europe. Italy's well-deserved reputation as a brilliant industrial and manufacturing society as well as masters in the art of good taste has its roots in the Renaissance.

America is very much the Italy of modern times. While it is true there is a 'flight of creativity' as Richard Florida put it - youthful talents are opting for places like Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney these days- America remains the center of civilization akin to Renaissance Italy where people from everywhere came to be with the best. Enjoy the experience or you'll miss it.

2005-06-21

The Great Canadian Mirage

In the United States, people there seem bent on imploding internally by obsessing on the failures or shortcomings of the American experience. In Canada, it's the opposite. If Canadians could boast more they would explode.

On the surface we seem like we're pulling our weight, with rock icons like Bono ridiculously addressing Parliament pleading the world 'needs more Canada'. Well, after the Liberals naturally used him like cheap Irish whiskey, it came to Bono's humanity that Canada wasn't all that.

Bob Geldoff, of Boomtown Rats and Live Aid fame, demanded that Canada bring up its foreign aid to .7% of GDP or don't bother attending a G8 meeting on poverty in Africa with him. Never mind that he is right that Canada has a terrible foreign aid policy, why is this man dictating our policies to begin with? The problem with concerts and humanitarian aid, like the tsunami one before it, is that too often the money is sent and promptly disappears.

George W. Bush has it right, you want our money you will be held to democratically account for it - this drives aid activists mad. But how else to ensure the money goes to the right places and is subsequently used properly?

'We're the best country in the world' is a popular slogan used by politicians, citizens and advertisers alike. Not bad for a supposed quiet and reserved people. When I visit family in Europe, Canadians are rather nerdy and annoying with their assumption that a Maple Leaf will earn them immediate recognition and respect. A typical Canadian trait these days is to be respected and loved without earning it.

Canada does have much going for it. For example, it attracts creative and talented people seeking a conducive atmosphere for art and bio-technology. But we're in the process of mocking our institutions and heritage. For years I was convinced that a 'Golden Age' of Canadiana was ready to conquer the world. It never happened. True, 'The Economist' not so long ago had it's 'Cool Canada' piece and Canada is held in high regards but in the place where it matters most -U.S.A.- we remain an obscurity.

How we measure ourselves is largely based on what parameters we choose to define our failures and successes.

All this is made the more annoying given our pathetically anti-American reflexes. The roots of anti-Americanism in this country are long and is not be the point here. We should treat polls with suspect.

Nonetheless consider one poll conducted by the International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. In this country, a whopping 60% of Canadians view Americans in a negative light.

What's more appalling is how Canadians view the other countries. Specifically, only 39% of Canadians view China in a negative light? Communist China and all its human rights abuses is more respected in Canada! Only 19% of Canadians view France in a negative light. So France managed to pull a fast one on the public relations front. Big deal. France is also a mythical socialist paradise. Like I said, take polls with a grain of sea salt.

There is indeed a democratic deficit in Canada. To be sure, Canada is a stable and functioning democracy with a judicial and legislative process that is the envy of the world in many respects. But as I have mentioned, we are mocking this with our incredibly naive, childish and corrupt behaviour.

If Renaissance humanists came to Canada and rated this society for its achievements and contributions it would possibly earn a failing grade.

Best country in the world? In our little minds perhaps. Let's start acting like one.

2005-06-18

Today's Program is Brought to you by the Number '7'.

What is with the number 7 and 'how-to' and 'secret ways' books? Seven ways to become rich, 7 tips on a successful marriage, 7 how to wipe your ass book, 7 ways to date. 7 ways to handle bitchy dates, 7 ways to order food from a menu, 7 secrets on how to deal with assholes.

Even George Carlin had his hilarious 'seven dirtiest words in the English language' bit. I think the anonymous author of the epic Arthurian poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' also makes mention of the number 7.

Consider: 7 days of the week, 7 wonders of the world, 7 deadly sins, 7 seas, 7 daughters of Atlas, 7 ages of man, 7 levels of hell, 7 primary colors, 7 notes of musical scale, 7 categories of absolute judgement, 7 objects in span of attention.

Apparently the number 3 also has a special significance. Yeesh.

Sesame Street never touched on this mystery....or coincidence. Damn that Bob and The Count.

Reflecting on an Era Long Gone

I'm one of those 30-something lads that derives pleasure in anything from the past. During a conversation on film and music, an older lady innocently took for granted - because of my age - my knowledge on these arts. She was barking up the wrong tree.

While for most people being contemporary was enough, for me looking to the past was special. I made it a point to watch films like Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, Duck Soup, Singin' in the Rain (the last two being personal favorites) and host of other films from the Golden Age of film (anywhere from 1930s to the 1950s). Not to mention my brief obsession with Vaudeville and the silent comedy with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle and other Mack Sennett (an early Canadian film pioneer in Hollywood) Keystone features.

The lady was stunned when I reminded her of Birth of a Nation and Cecile B. DeMille not to mention the lost Library of Congress 1915 watershed film The Italian. Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer enthralled me since it was officially the first 'talkie'. And my interest is not restricted to just Hollywood either. International films have always interested me. Nosferatu in 1922 and The Bicycle Thief (Germany and Italy respectively) immediately spring to mind.

My taste in music is also ancient so to speak. I'm usually vulnerable to Okeh recordings of forgotten old blues legends like Mississippi John Hurt or rare live recordings of Billie Holiday during her Decca years or collaborative works by Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald during the big band years. And so on.

Standards (jazz interpretations of, for example, Gershwin, Porter and Berlin) and show tunes (though I'm far from an expert on the latter) have always piqued my curiosity. Mind you, show tunes never sounded better than on Bugs Bunny cartoons.

"They" tell me this is all rare for a 30+ year old - though I know for a fact I'm not alone. We're just an obscure bunch.

I must admit, I have a hard time adjusting and finding that 'shiver' factor with today's music. Each time I commit myself to learning more about the modern sound (Madelaine Peyroux is one such performer that impresses me greatly) I resort back to my comfort zone.

I recently bought a CD featuring the Rat Pack. They were cool without trying to be. They did not need to swear (though I'm sure they were just as vulgar as any modern rap singer). As I sat back listening, I realized they just don't make 'em like this any more. Sure, there has been a neo-crooner revival but none even remotely match the incredible hip suaveness of the real Rat Pack (did you know Humphrey Bogart led the original pack?) The only ones I think that are in the same league as Martin, Sinatra and Davis jr. are Louis Prima, Bing Crosby and Tony Bennett.

Back then, they wore Italian-cut suits or a tux with French cuff links. They always dressed as though it was their last day of existence. Only they could pull off singing by holding a glass of martini or scotch with a cigarette. As well as stop in mid-song to speak to one another or to a lovely gal in the crowd. It was all so tragically and fascinatingly hip. To borrow a cliche, they threw away the mold when these guys moved on.

This group can be extended to the great dancers of the era with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Their films usually mesmerize me. When Gene Kelly breaks into 'Singin' in the rain' it still captivates me like I saw it for the first time. It always passes the 'shiver' factor. Imagine, they made tap-dancing cool - as did Gregory Hines did years later. Hine's role in Broadway's Jelly's Last Jam not only introduced me to Jelly Roll Morton and the Ragtime era but to tap dancing as an art form.

Even the comedies had a special character. From the dead-pan Keaton, to the slap stick sophistication of the Marx Brothers to the charming brilliance of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in Some Like it Hot.

Yup, they don' make 'em like this anymore. Today, it's all gold chains, guns, pimps and thugs that get the exposure. None of it is cool to me. There's no class left.

I realize I speak of my personal experience and tastes but I do lament a time long gone.

This much I can appreciate. Once upon a time a man wore a suit on an evening with his dame to go and listen to the giants and genius of 20th century music of any genre.

Today, people go in shorts and sandals. Something got lost in the translation.

2005-06-16

Current Affairs: Abortion, Gay crusaders against the Church, Sharia law in Quebec, China and Microsoft, NDP, Greenpeace

Three, no four things caught my ears and eyes over the last couple of days that has compelled me to write about. I'm usually a comfortable mugwump when it comes to certain popular debates.

Like abortion for example. Pro-choice is tolerable provided that it is responsible. But how do we determine the line of what is 'responsible?' We can all agree that a thirteen year-old teenager is not acting responsibly when she engages in unprotected sex. A teenager can be forgiven if she was not properly guided. But what of an adult who rolls the die and who knew better? In the end, we all make mistakes. We should never judge others whatever the decision a person takes.

Two things bother me about abortion (and I'm deliberately avoiding the medical and legal aspect for brevity) - the first, we are probably not doing enough to teach children about abstinence and safe sex. Easier said than done of course. We are more educated than ever on both the pleasures and dangers of sex. The power of pop culture and its subtle and overt glorification of 'sex as cool' provide a strong temptation. Even those of us not influenced by outside cues, who act responsibly, still manage to practice unprotected sex. Should they be denied an abortion? Sex is natural and inevitable indeed but it doesn't mean we should be indifferent to how we approach it.

The abortion problem, it seems to me, would be partially curbed if we empower our kids with knowledge. A mature and sophisticated approach to sex in our schools and at home is essential - it sounds as though we are weaker in the homes as parents and are not quite sure how to handle this. In general, the boy is easier in that we let them figure it out on their own and feel completely unable to confront our daughters - ignoring by ignorance if you will.

The second is the psychological impact an abortion has on women that is rarely mentioned. A woman who has an abortion as a result of rape has a right to choose. A woman who is irresponsible and promiscuous should not. Again, the problem with this is how does one determine this? We fall in danger of moralizing and judging. Though I believe we should carry a card that read 'we should know better' knowing full well we don't always do. Feminists have done a terrible disservice to their gender on this front. Those who claim that pro-life will put a strain on the economy have a dubious argument at best.

This is just a superficial point to make on a complex debate, I realize that. To me, it is not black and white.

Since I'm on a slight roll I shall indulge on other issues.

-Mr. Kevin Bourassa has a problem and dilemma. He has declared in typical hyperbolic fashion (is there any other way for special interest?) wants religious institutions, in all their zany zealotic bigotry no doubt, to comply with the Charter (specifically, if they oppose gay marriage laws that are expected to ram through Parliament without much debate) or else risk losing their charitable donation status.

What is remarkable in his demand is that 1) he and his ilk are no different than any fundamentalist on either side of the ideological divide 2) his shocking disregard for freedom of religion and speech in his anti-democratic reactionary and myopic attitude and 3) more importantly, he obviously does not care about the funding the Church uses to run homeless missionaries or food care packages to families during the Christmas Holidays.

Thankfully our politicians are having none of it and will seek to ensure protection for the Church. This is a secular society and there is no need to go after religious institutions. His campaign will prove to be counter-productive and gays should distance themselves from this nonsense.

-Recently Arab leaders were seeking to make Muslim Sharia laws legitimate in Quebec. As usual, like anybody with an agenda they play down the significance of their request. "No, no you are over reacting." Are we??

Here's the thing, and I'm no expert, but someone, anyone has to remind newly arrived Muslims that this is, at its core, an open and tolerant Christian-based (majority) secular society that will ensure human and equal rights before the law for all.

I'm not entirely sure what and how Sharia would function. Is it a case where it would trump our laws? If so, can it live side-by-side within a constitutional democracy with its own established legal codes?

I think for the time being, Jean Charest and the Liberals have shown wisdom in not allowing this.

Surprise surprise at the Can-Can. China has asked Microsoft to ban certain words on an internet service they provide in that walled up country- excuse the bad pun. What's bizarre is how a country with a remarkable historic civilization can be so utterly backwards. Oh yes, that's right they are communists. Or Marxists or Leninists or Maosits. Whatever, a million killed here, 50 million there it's all good.

Chinese web log users are prevented from using words like 'independence', 'human rights', 'democracy' and 'demonstration.' Wow, do you think the ideologues in Quebec City are taking notes? Microsoft complied. I'm not about to jump on MSFT on this one. They are a business and as such they must do what is in the best interest of their company and international stockholders. It's not their job to be the defenders of liberty. That's for the people and their respective governments to work out.

-"Let (the bastards, morons etc.) Americans freeze in the dark" so says NDP MP Pat Martin in response to Bush's plan to divert Devil Lake into Manitoba that may pollute its waters. Forget the issue, where Canada has a point, and focus on the delicious irony. The New Democratic Party, the name in itself is oxymoronic since they are socialists, is a party that, in part, hinges on compassion. They claim to be caring and not like the 'other' parties. How does this statement fit with their moral ethos? The NDP are morons.

-In the most ignorant thing I have heard yet section I present Greenpeace. The same Greenpeace that had one of its ships sunk by the 'peaceful' French. It seems the brass over at GP headquarters are playing the all too familiar 'let's find a parallel' history game. They recently published a report comparing Guantanamo to the 'gulag of our times.'

The comparison between the two ends within seconds of comparing them. If GP wants to make the world a better place they should go by the Way of the Truth Dante spoke of. Using historical inaccuracies is a crime against the arts.

As for the Americans, it's time they just swallow a pill by Pfizer and just admit that they are an empire. If they would, things would go much easier for them in the eyes of public opinion. It would eliminate the gluttony of contradictions in their actions and behaviour. Can it be nations are annoyed that Americans in fact deny they are an empire? It's as if the world is saying "Hey, you're the new Rome and London. Act like it! Stop acting like softies."

2005-06-15

The Many Faces and Sounds of Springsteenian Eloquence

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The name should immediately conjure up images of our mundane and free-spirited youth, our realized and shattered dreams, our invincibility and vulnerablity.

Springsteen's human depictions of our collision with life's twisted and predictable plots and themes seem all too real and easy in their connectability. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are the apex of an evolution begun with timeless and immortal rock legends of a bygone era. In Springsteen the ghosts and spirits of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Bo Diddley find a voice. Springsteen, however, is not just about rock'n roll and guitars though this is his leitmotif. Springsteen is both Wagnerian and Verdi-esque in his operatic stances and chants. He has a soul. Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield and other conveyors of gospel too have a voice in his music. Like jazz is...Bruce is. He literally and figuratively transcends rock as a form of music. "One, two, three four! The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive....!"

Yes, we all drop into a tenth avenue freeze-out when listening to the scope and poetic lyricism that is Sprinsteenian elegance and eloquence. Best of all, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band make us head for our imagined cars like Jimmy the Saint on an unclear mission. Just like 'James Dean in that Mercury '49' with our tailored version of Rosalita in our arms and ride into a long empty San Diego highway in the summertime, in a sunrise or sunset it doesn't matter, into nowhere. Nowhere too eventually has a point. A point of origin - a new beginning and an impossible end.

No one loves, races and laments quite like a Bruce Springsteen figure. All were born and made in the U.S.A but they know national boundaries. They are international citizens too. At their core, make no mistake, they are instinctively and distinctively American and bound for glory.

Who can forget being thundercracked for the first time? Love is an elusive yet conquerable reoccuring theme in the timeline of human consciousness known to sometimes crush and redeem a soul. In the end "ain't nobody like to be alone." Who wouldn't want to race in a "hot stepping hemi with a four on the floor"? Metaphorically, "she's a roadrunner engine in a '32 Ford." The Magic Rat too had a purpose. We all 'stood stoned at midnight suspended in my (our) masquerade." The "flag of piracy" flew a little to high for some. We all seek respect in this oft tiresome and challenging world. "Mister, I ain't a boy. No, I'm a man and I believe in a Promised Land." Yes, there is hope. Even though "I've done my best to live the right way" and sometimes nothing good comes of it. We want it all "poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king and a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything." Internal and eternal personal satisfaction can be elusive and destructive. Navigating deep into ourselves is a daunting and haunting task.

Yes, there is a 'darkness on the edge of town' on an isolated Nebraska highway in the dead of winter and yes 'growin' up' is tough enough without the Chicken Man lurking about. We all leave or left our homes "with skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra" with no intentions of being saints in the city since, as he put it, it was so hard to be so. But if you care enough, just a tiny bit, there is a call to 'the rising' in all of us. We can go 'racing in the street' to a 'Cadillac ranch' or the 'Seaside Bar' or on the 'backstreets' or down 'Thunder Road' with 'no surrender' to "pull out and win". But smitten, we will always want to 'give the girl a kiss' and this keeps us coming back for more of life. It keeps us honest and just. There is a Sandy, Wendy, Mary, Linda and Bobby Jean for all of us.

There is an eternal plot to Springsteen. "Her brains they rattle and her bones they shake. Whoah she's an angel from the inner lake." "Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat." "Well, maverick daddy got a one-eyed bride she glides like a monkey-mule kicking on the back side." "Come waltz with me tonight senorita 'cause only fools are alone on a night like this." "Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays." Let it all unfold before you. Let it....

Articles of Interest: Politics

I hope to do this on a fairly regular basis. Here are some articles that caught my curious yet tired eye courtesy of Daniel Pipes.

www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=58456&d=3&m=2&y=2005

www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson010705.html

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/users/login.php?story_id=2737&URL=http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2737


Max: In the Dole - Unemployment Rate 100%

I was thinking. The unwillingness of our snollygoster's (and I use this word loosely) to tighten the democratic deficit in this country makes me want to hurt their feelings. Maybe it's time a good citizen like myself strikes back. I ain't going to be no gongoozler.

Whenever society feels powerless and overwhlemed by crime and evil it produces a superhero - Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel, The Avengers, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Badger, Fatman, Duck Dodgers, Angelfood McSpade, Fritz the Cat, Rocket Robin Hood and Mighty Mouse to name a few. Well, I have decided to strike back. One major impediment is that I have no special powers. Hoo-ha.

I was not born on another planet or bitten by a toxic worm. Imagine that, a radio-active worm (of all things) bites my ass and I become Worm-Boy! I slither and sliver to the rescue licking and sticking my tongue in cataglottism in every respectable gals resting and unsuspecting vagina!

So, no powers. Can't fly and can't run at Mach-7 speeds. That sucks. God really hampered me on this front. Nothing annoys me more than wanting something badly enough only to be prevented by God's will. No wonder there are atheists among us. But! But, I have been endowed quite handsomely. Perhaps, I thought, I could use fornication to instill fear into our leaders! The decision was made, over a bowl of cereal (Froot Loops), to attack like a wobbegong and fuck every woman married to a politician like jackalopes. I will use my skills and gift of gab to infiltrate the upper echelons of power (though the word power in Canada has no meaning) - gallant soldier that I am. I may even get the Order of Canada - heck, David Ahknew has one.

My first victim, well she was not really a victim. How can she be one when she screamed, whimpered and begged for more? It was a sad spectacle. The real victim was her arrogant and crooked husband. Some may question my fiendish skullduggery but that's just gallimaufry. This is for the greater good, man.

We made love like passionate amoral dogs. I took pictures. I brushed my teeth. I went home.

I sent a letter (I used gloves to avoid finger-prints) to Parliament that was read on the floor in the House of Commons. It stated in part "I hereby decree that for every act that injures democracy in this great land, I will take one of your wives. If you are a woman, you are safe. I will not touch your husbands but you yourself are not safe. I will make senseless love to them honorificabilitudinitatibus (with honors). I will not be held accountable for my actions. Why should I? Parliament rarely is. Hear my cachinnatory! Moo-haw-haw!

I need a shtick. Perhaps a rose or a picture of Pepe Le Pew to leave behind. I'm not sure. I may also need a costume. Hmm, being hero takes work.

Such are things I think about while playing with my Superfriends figurines. It was a bloody war on an epic scale when they had to fight the Star Wars gang, the A-Team and cowboys and injuns. Welcome to my jungle, punks.

2005-06-05

Max: I, Unemployed.

Insomnia, insomnia. Why oh why? What is your purpose? Science tells us we need, absolutely demand eight hours of 'sommeil' per night. Yet, you steal this from me! You give me two! How dare you!

Whenever I fall asleep, usually around 6am, my dreams are usually nightmares. Evil, distressful, mad nightmares. For instance, last night, I dreamt I was walking on a path to reach the castle or tidings of a killer. Flesh and body parts littered the ground. There were pieces of human and animal parts scattered on broken barbed fences. The scent of spilled blood overwhelmed the natural scent of the earth. The sky was orange red. Heads were impailed and live tortured souls were screaming for mercy and help. It was weird. I hope I wasn't eating popcorn. That wouldn't have been appropriate or 'sporting' of me.

Jeebs and I were talking the other day over over Kilkenny, McAuslan cream ale and Irish stout. Yummy. Though I prefer wine, it's hard ot beat beer on a hot pre-summer afternoon. We were talking about the most offensive word in the English language - (for you young ones and politically correct inclined stop reading) cunt.

What an awful word. Even as I type it it makes me feel worthless and dirty. Imagine when a woman is called that. C.u.n.t. Hoo-boy, terrible. What makes it so ugly? Part of the reason is in how we use it. We usually reserve this metaphor to describe a person we dislike, distrust or just plain have no respect for. 'Hey, why don't you watch where you're going you fucken cunt!" Or "You bloody cunt." Or "Could you believe that cunt?" Or "My boss is such a cunt."

What word can possibly offend a man like cunt can a woman? Cocksucker? I gotta admit, I'm lost on this one. Women have it bad I tell ya. Nine months labour and that word associated to their gender. But what if, just what if, we revolutionize how we use the word cunt? The tone and intonation that is. Instead of 'get that cunt out of here' we can say 'hey great job cunt.' Or 'you saved my job you sweet cunt. High five!'

Hey, it was worth a try after five pints. Jeebs tried it on a French girl but it didn't elicit the desired reaction. Jeebs claims that our experiment was working but I suspected she simply didn't understand. I told him to try it on an English speaking cunt, er, chick. Sorry. He did. 'Hey, looking good! What style cunts!'

Result? Let's just say, don't try it. Woman are not ready for the cunt revolution.

That's about all that happened on this surreal 'South Park' day.

Jackie Robinson - A Montreal Royal Forever

I used to watch 'This Week in Baseball' quite a bit in the 1980s - the Golden Age of Montreal Expos baseball for some. Others believe it to be the 60s and 70s were the Golden Age -which would make the 80s the Silver Age I suppose. Labels, labels such a fascination. Anyhow, perhaps on a romantic level it was, but the 80s was an era where the Expos, Nos Amours, were most competitive.

Regardless, I don't watch TWIB much anymore but I recently caught parts of the latest episode on June 5th. And how about that? right off the bat, excuse the mediocre pun, TWIB continued an age old American bad habit of ignoring this city's baseball heritage.

The show stated that the Brooklyn Dodgers were baseball's first integrated ball club. They were not. They were 'Major League Baseball's' first integrated team but not the sport of baseball. That distinction clearly belongs to the Montreal Royal - three time Junior World Series Champions- home to such legends as Roy Campanella, Tommy Lasorda, Don Drysdale and of course Jackie Robinson.

I won't recite the Royals legacy here since I already have in a previous blog but I will say that baseball was enormously popular among all Quebecers - French or English speaking - as attendance figures at DeLormier Downs reveal. Baseball has a 100-year story here, yet Americans never quite appreciated or accepted baseball locating in this province. They always wanted to believe their own perceptions that we Canadians know or knew little of the sport.

That TWIB overlooked this is nothing new. It just continued a long tradition of American media outlets completely ignoring Montreal -which explains the shocking ignorance and indifference they showed with the demise of the Expos. The message was clear; the Expos were a plague. Baseball epic documentaries like Ken Burns' '9 Innings' were also guilty of this. When I watched his brilliant work, I was disappointed at the subtle gloss over of the Blue Jays World Series victory and the role Canada played in the development of this great game. He sadly looked over the Jackie Robinson experience in this town. Selective history does not do justice to history - or in this case to baseball.

Montrealers poured their hearts, souls and energies into the baseball experience. It is unfortunate we failed to market this so that Americans took notice. Today, the diamonds are still filled with garage and organized leagues in the summertime. Sadly, it all feels so empty. The loss and departure of the Expos left a void that is inescapable.

As for, Jackie Robinson, he will forever be a part of the sports fabric of this town; TWIB notwithstanding.