Friday, December 18, 2009

Xmas Caption Extravaganza

Marry Xmas, happy Hanukkah, rocking Festivus, etc.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In defense of bad words

I was called out yesterday for my use of the 'word' Douchtard in my blog post. The commenter was generally upset, they wrote:
"Have you ever met someone with Down Syndrome? If you do, call them a tard and see how it feels.
the term is not divorced from its original meaning...everyone knows what is intended when you say or print that."
At first I was taken aback. The post was in defense of the Truro and area gay community. The last thing I expected to read in the comments section was an attack on my use of Douchtard and how insensitive it is towards those with Down Syndrome. Quickly I shock it off. What the hell? This was political correctness run amok, I chalked it up to contextual bullshit and moved on. Sorta.

This morning I found a fantastic video a friend had sent me on Facebook. It put the whole Douchtard/Down Syndrome/Political Correctness thing into hilarious perspective (I have awesome friends). Check it out:

Big guffaws eh? I mean really. If there is no malice behind a word, despite the word's historical uses or meanings, how can that word itself be harmful? An example; I am doing the dishes, I have my iTunes blasting, my girlfriend walks into the kitchen, I am listening to Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, I look at her and say: "What's up up my nigger?", is this wrong? Am I a racist pig? I had been spitting Dre's lyrics for the last 10 minutes, I was messing, it was a joke, my girlfriend wasn't offended at all. No harm, no foul. CONTEXT!

Another example, for another of those words that you can't safely say in front of your mom. The worst word I know, aside from the 'N' word is cunt. Cunt is not a word that can be used loosely, it's the worst there is. It makes fuck seem like fiddle sticks. Only the Brits/Scots/Irish use cunt right (well as right as such a nasty word can be used). Yes the word is still vicious, it's weighty, it's powerful, it is like a slap in the face, SMACK! That said, when a Brit calls someone a cunt, they really aren't disparaging the female genitalia, they are basically calling someone an asshole, a total dick, a real motherfucker. Malice is implied, cunt is not a nice word, but in context, if you're just hanging with your mates, is it really all that wrong to call someone a fucking cunt? Rude, unrefined, yes, but again, no harm, no foul.

George Carlin said it best (as he does):

So there. I am sorry to those readers who get squeamish when reading certain words. I for one love curse words. I swear like a sailor. Say it with me; shit, fuck, Goddamn it. Stub your toe and then tell me that yelling one of those words isn't a wonderful release. The pain in that toe is instantly lessened with a loud curse, it's magic. So curse, to hell with repression, it's not healthy.

But where was I? Oh yes, I was called out for using Douchtard. A slang word that probably hasn't even registered in the Urban Dictionary yet (I will check, whatya know it has). This is my response to that calling out. I am not one that uses words to disrespect others. Especially those of special needs (is that the PC term now...???). Douchtard in my vernacular means asshole. A douchtard is someone usually in a position of power that does something incredibly dumb. Douchtard stays, it is part of this blog's shtick. Political correctness be damned.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Douchtard of the Week (Month, whoops): Bill Mills

In a week where the President sent 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, only to show up in Oslo and receive his (now ironic) Nobel Peace Prize. A week that saw Bill'O' renew his yearly war on Christmas. And week that saw Tiger Woods' life go splat! The competition was tight, there where some huge names in play, but I have to go with Bill Mills, the mayor of Truro for the win. Who? Truro, where the hell is that? The town of Truro, N.S. (note the douchy pic of Bill Mills on the town's website, he sure looks the part)

In what appears to be a huge upset, Bill Mills smoked the big named competition this week. Why? Read This: Truro considers closing gay 'pick-up spot' To paraphrase; Mills and the town council are thinking about closing a road to a park which is thought to be a gay pick up/make out spot. Basically the mayor wants to shut down lover's lane. Here is how he described the road in an interview with a local newspaper: "favourite pick-up spot for guys from all over the Maritime provinces. They go up and have a rendezvous and then they go into the woods and do their thing. It's been known for years and years and is becoming more and more of a problem,"(hat tip The Truro Daily News and

This from a man and a town council that would not allow a rainbow flag to be flown during gay pride festivities 2 years ago. Um, ya, there is a pattern of homophobia in the Truro town hall. Why the opposition to the flag? Well it turns out that Mr Mills could not agree to raise the flag as a Christian. Ah, that pesky church and state problem again. Oh Millsy, you poor, poor soul, how dare gay men make out in parks, how dare there be pride in a community, how dare they ask to fly a pretty flag. You win Millsy, you are my Douchtard of the Week. Proud? I hope so, you deserve it. Thanks to you, I am gonna gas up in Sackville. Truro is just too non-inclusive for a raging liberal like me.

Oh and hey, if Mills and the council do shut off the road to that hook up spot, I have an idea as to where these lovers can go to make out. I say if you lose lover's lane, why not hook up right on the steps of town hall? I am sure Mills will get a real kick out of that.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What about Santa?

There is a natural order to the fall of childhood myths. The birds and the bees (when a man loves a woman, he sticks his...) are nothing. The Tooth Fairy (the biggest extortionist of the bunch) usually falls quickly. All it takes are a few forgotten teeth under pillows and an older sister who knows the truth and wham, yes Zach the Tooth Fairy is a sham. Does he still get 2 bucks a tooth, hell ya, so does his sister.

The Easter Bunny (the cutest of the bunch) often falls next. So if the Tooth Fairy isn't real, what about that bunny? It isn't hard to convince a kid about the ridiculousness of a bunny that hides candy and presents in everyone's house each spring... I mean come on, a bunny. Who does it think it is Santa? At least Santa has elves and reindeer on his side. Easter Bunny, pish. Chocolate eggs and cheap dollar store gifts will still be doled out every spring, the bunny can hang out with the fairy. His work is done.

Then one day it comes. The Santa myth is debunked. It happened in my house when sister decided to upset her younger brother by telling him that she was going to write a letter to Santa explaining all the bad things he had done that year. Yep, older sisters can be that vicious. Cue the waterworks, the no, No...NOes! Throw in an I am telling, a scream for mommy and ya, older sis knew she had gone too far. How was she going to appease her screaming brother...hmmm? "Zach, Zach, Zach, it doesn't matter, do you want to know why? Cuz Santa isn't real anyway." Yep, that is sure to stop a little boy from crying. Pure big sister genius. Cue (of course) even more waterworks, desperate wails, much stomping. The sky just fell. "Mommy!!!..." sniff, sniff, sniff " Santa real? Emily says Santa is like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Is this true? Why mommy? Why did you lie to me?" Valid questions. Heck as adults we try our best to at least believe in the spirit of Santa. The whole power of giving, yada, yada, the magic of the season. As to why we lie about Santa... how can you not? The bugger is everywhere from mid-October on. Everyone else does it. "Zach, Santa is a myth, kinda like the Easter Bunny." Blubber, blubber, sniff. "OK mommy, you will still get me presents, right? Even if I am bad sometimes?" How could we say no? Hell he will probably get more this year then ever. With or without Santa.

This of course brings us to how, or why we celebrate Christmas at all. My partner and I are non-believers. The birth of Christ is really not something we feel compelled to celebrate. There is nothing at all wrong with the few days off. We love the gatherings of family and friends. But is hypocritical not to abstain from the rampant consumerism, the promotion of myth and the gluttony of the season? What happens when Zach does the math, the one, plus one, plus one equals no God? What do we say then? Maybe we can revert his attention back to birds and the bees. Maybe a new Lego set. What would Ben Ten do?

Happy Holidays folks. Remember to be naughty and nice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Early mornings on strange city buses (an excerpt from Plant)

How long am I going to stare at the ceiling? Is it really still dark outside? I wonder what time is it? 5:38 am. Jesus, did I sleep at all? I might as well get up, use the washroom, have a shower, get dressed, sort out how I am going to get to the Rockland Center for 9:00 am. Mike disappeared yesterday, he is no longer an option. I have about $3 in change, surely there is public transport. I hope to hell there aren't very many connections. The guy at the front desk will help me out, I hope.

Dried off, relieved, packed, gear on back, down the YMCA stairs. A quick look at my watch, 6:49 am, I have loads of time. The guy at the front desk looks surprised that there is anyone up and about this early.
“How you doing?” I ask.
“Good morning, can I help you?” He responds.
“Yep, first I'd like to check out, here is the room key.” Hand him the key.
“Great, thank you, I hope you enjoyed your stay with us." He hangs the key on the wall with others.
“Ya, it was great, thanks. Listen, I have to get to the Rockland Center, I was wondering if you knew if there was a bus or something that could get me from here, there?” (fingers crossed)
“Hmm, let me think. I think it is the number 4 that goes straight from here to there. I better look at the bus route to make sure... yep, the number 4 bus, it stops just up at the end the street every half hour or so. According to this schedule the next bus leaves at 7:25.” He passes me a bus schedule.
“Awesome, thanks so much.” Off I go!
“Your welcome, good luck eh.”

Out the door. Heavily weighted down by my own gear, I waddle up the street to the bus stop. Check watch, 7:12, light a smoke, wait. Shit, I forgot to ask the Y guy how much a bus ticket costs. It can't cost any more than 3 bucks, could it? I will have to ask the bus driver. The number 4 bus, right? Is that it? Nope that is the number 12. It's only 7:17, chill Joe, relax, hell light another smoke.

Here comes the bus. Change in hand.
“How are you? How much do I owe you?” I had that line well prepared in advance. I didn't even stutter.
“$2.50” The bus driver mumbles.
“Right, good. This bus takes me to the Rockland Center, eh?” (fingers crossed)
“Sure does.” Another mumble, barely heard him.
“Great, thanks.” Pick a spot, sit down.
Over-stuffed knapsack and dufflebag placed on two seats, sit beside them, watch for that mall like a hawk. You don't know Edmonton at all. Keep your eyes to the window. Don't blink.

Downtown Edmonton had come to life, it seems that Mike was right, there is a rush hour in Edmonton. The bus and I were in amongst it. We slowly inched our way out of the downtown core. I recognized the university area, Whyte Ave was around here somewhere. I bet we are getting close. We roll through an area of gas stations and strip malls. We will arrive soon. I can feel it. I am excited. It is really happening, adventure will ensue. There was no turning back now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Well hello there winter

solidification - the process of becoming hard or solid by cooling or drying or crystallization

It's December 1st and wouldn't you know it, winter has arrived. I normally dislike winter. I know, I know how unCanadian, I might be asked to give up my toque, my skates and my hockey stick, but ya, I can usually do quite fine without 5 months of Arctic temperatures thank you very much. Not so much this year, seems that the arrival of my daughter Zoey has renewed my vigor for the harshest of the four seasons.

I noticed this renewed vigor as I (bundled in toque and scarf) walked to the elementary school to pick up the kids. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, ice had formed in the puddles. Oh and brrr was it cold. Did the weather bring me down? Nope, it added a spring to my step. I was plugged in, the iPod was pumping out the funk, I was sliding on ice, I was watching my breath in the air, I was acting just like any other kid experiencing their first blast of winter. Hell, I think I might even have felt my first tinge of Xmas spirit. I think it was the Shriners' Xmas tree sale that was to blame for all that. What can I say, I am a sucker for big evergreen trees. The smell of them brings me instantly back to the Xmas excitement of my youth. I am stoked for the Holidays this year. It is Zoey's first, the magic is back. Ho Ho Ho.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Zoom! (an excerpt from Plant)

The neurosis kicks in. It was three hours before the connecting flight was scheduled to take off. I pat myself down, the 146th time to ensure that yes, I do have my plane ticket. I unfold it, and read Gate 76 for the 78th time. I go through customs. I sweat, I shake. Wallet, belt, jacket, change everything prepared well in advance of the metal detector. Can the customs agents sense my anxiety? Are they going to take me aside, pat me down, ask me questions? Not this time, phew. I pass through customs with ease.

Zoom I go through long airport hallways, zinging playfully on automated walkways. A spring in my step, the adventure slowly continues. Gate 71-91 to the left. Gate 71, 72, 73, 74, I stop at magazine stand, buy a Rolling Stones magazine, a bunch of gum, a bag of Doritos and a Coca Cola. Gate 75... here I am, Gate 76. Now I sit and wait, only 2 and a half more hours until I am back in the air. Bliss. A notebook, or some Kerouac, I am On the Road, those would be my guesses.

"Canada 2000 Flight 216 is now preparing for preboarding. If you are a 1st class ticket holder, or need assistance with boarding our aircraft, please make your way to the boarding desk now. An announcement will be made soon for regular boarding. Thank you."

My heart begins to pound. It won't be long now. I chomp furiously on my gum, pat myself down for ticket the 576th time. Nope it won't be long until, whosh, off I will zoom to Edmonton. Do I have time for one last smoke? Am I addicted already? That is a story for another day. I better stick with gum, who needs the stress of trying to find a smoking section? Pop, chomp.

Seat 36F, a window seat, score! Smush, I stuff my backpack under the seat in front of me. Chomp, chomp, chomp, nervously I load more gum into my mouth. I put on my headphones, I press play on my yellow Sports Walkman. A mixed tape, Beastie Boys, perhaps some New Order. The stewardess, who was doing the rounds, checking seatbelts, making sure the overhead luggage was secure, politely asks me to please take off the headphones until after the safety demonstration was over and the plane had left the ground. Drats, they catch me every time. Who really watches and listens to that silly display anyway? Damn them and their rules. I comply, of course, there was no need to piss off the stewardess, I might want a drink later.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving is for the birds...

A full report is underway on what I think of all the traditions America has screwed up, it has butchered Thanksgiving the worst. It's a wonderful concept that has lost it's true meaning. The way we celebrate this holiday is for turkeys...and I fucking hate it. PLENTY MORE TO COME...and happy thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sarah Palin is an insult to the intelligent

Storms are brewing in your eyes,
Now I can realize
You're like a beauty queen

~ Jefferson Starship

Unless you have been living in a cave (and if you have I am jealous), it would be impossible not to have noticed how America has once again gone gaga for Sarah Palin. What should have been nothing more than a failed politician's book tour, has morphed into a weird hookie hockey mom love/hate fest. The ability of Sarah Palin to attract public attention is one of the world's grand mysteries. She has been described as polarizing, as representative of the average guy, grassroots, real, all the stuff that makes modern conservative just so frickin' wonderful. Basically Sarah shits conservative rainbows (talking points and cliches as well), she is the queen of the right, the left (me included) are baffled. Is there a spray, a soap, an anti-Palin cream? She burns our brains, she is an insult to the intelligent.

Sarah Palin is George W. Bush in a $1000 skirt. A mental midget, all charm, zero substance. The idea that there are those in the conservative movement that see Palin as some sort of great white hope, that she might be the future of the Republican Party astounds me. Is conservatism political delusion? Am I so left, so liberal that my own ability to see the brilliance that is Sarah Palin is compromised? I don't get it. Just like I didn't understand how Bush II could have been nominated let alone win the American Presidency. Why? Well because I think there has to be a level of intelligence met in order to become the most powerful person on the planet. Bush was no where near that level of intelligence, neither is Sarah Palin. If that makes me a member of the liberal elite, so be it, send me my membership cards in the mail. This is not the entertainment industry, hunting, watching the Texas Rangers or drinking a few beers, this is the Presidency of the United States of America. Bush was grossly under-qualified, as too is Sarah Palin. Brainless conservatism, or puppet conservatism has been a proven failure, a disaster that has set the USA and the world back decades.

Sarah's 15 minutes of fame should have ended months ago. She will not become the first female President of the United States, she will however, sell a lot of books, she might get a talk show, there will always be room for her on Fox. My advice to my friends down south is this; if you ignore her she might go away. You betcha, Sarah loves the attention and she will do anything to stay in the public eye. Tune her out, switch the channel, she is no good for you, she isn't even all that cute. The hockey mom look was so 2008...

By Special Guest Contributor Stephanie Stebbins!


Why Good Journalism Is Important

There is a disturbing trend I have watched develop over the last decade or so.

Yellow Journalism seems to be taking over more and more respectable news sources.

Now, before anyone forgets, Faux News, I mean, Fox News, has never been even close to a semblance of a credible news source.

I mean, come on. One of their own spokesmen ADMITTED that they use propaganda on a consistent and constant basis.

Now that we have that out of the way, I would like to talk to YOU,CNN.

Yellow Journalism, as I learned it, is the use of attention-grabbing headlines in order to draw in readers or the practice of presenting opinion as fact.

Now, more than ever, we are bombarded with a never-ending stream of information. Whether it is the internet, cable news, or the slowly dying print media, if you want to find out about what is going on in the world, it is literally less than a click away.

The information junkie part of myself is in love with this fact, but the cynical side of me often wonders just how reliable these sources are that the information is coming from.

Really? A helium balloon can carry a six year old child? How stupid do you think we are? Do you mean to tell me you are seriously going to cover this ALL DAY when it takes 4 SECONDS for it to register in your brain that this is physically impossible??? Wow. Faaaaaaantastic.

You see, I don't know if it is because I am the daughter of a former Washington Post reporter and Virginian-Pilot editor or maybe I just have common sense, but more and more I am noticing a lot more opinion seeping in and less and less facts.

And, it bothers me.

It bothers me, immensely.

I see it as a personal responsibility as a journalist, no matter what "type" of journalist you are, to present the facts as they are and NOT what you think of said facts.

I understand that as a writer, you are allotted your own voice and must use it, BUT I draw the line when journalists delve into opinion territory while reporting facts.

Call me silly, but isn't that an editorial and not a report?

I truly believe that especially now we, the American people, DESERVE to be given facts.

Just the facts.

I don't know about you, but if you give me the facts, I can pretty much ascertain my OWN opinion from it, without the help of any "talking head."

And, I truly believe that the rest of us are perfectly capable of doing that, as well.

So, this is my open letter to you, Journalists of America. It is time to bring TRUE fact reporting back.

Walter Cronkite would be pleased.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Joe Lane classic: "On Style"

I just wanted to post a Joe Lane classic with some of the original comments; "On Style". It always seems to help "beat away the basterd" when the ink flows slowly. And Joe, you can feel free to take this down in 10 minutes if ya want I just wanted to have it on the sidebar menu for all to stumble back across. RE-Enjoy, everyone!
So I drank a full pot of coffee, things began to rumble, things were shaking down south. Off I whisked to the bathroom, my den of silence, the place where I get most of my best reading and for that matter thinking done.

What am I reading right now? I am reading Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik. Truth be told I am not sure I like it. It's not the content, his premise is solid. It is a story about the fashion industry: super models, trannies, flashing cameras, oh my. No, I am digging the plot. It's his style. I am finding the whole damn thing too gimmicky. He is trying too hard, too many tricks. I wish he'd tell the story, I am already dizzy and I have read only 20 pages. So there, no offense Mr. Palahnuik, you're brilliant, I am a huge fan. It's just that the first 20 pages of Invisible Monsters had me reaching for the Gravol. Maybe that's the point. But what is my point? Is this a book review? Heavens no, this is a rant about style.

Style versus substance. I used to write raw, I abhorred the shackles of grammar and structure. I thought them false constraint; I believed my mind and my words were too wild to be caged. Blame Kerouac and his beats. Then thank them for the inspiration. I eventually began to blog, which meant that my words were being 'published' with the potential for all to read. The perfectionism sunk in. I was now playing a writer on the Internet. I had better buck up, edit, edit, spell check, worry. I took it one step further. I enrolled in journalism classes. British journalism classes at that. I wanted my words and the structure of them scrutinized like only the British could. I wanted to be as good as I could get. Style be damned.

Guess what? The words then stopped. It was no longer fun writing. It became a task, something too clean, more akin to washing the dishes than art. I was in a creative funk. The old me- raw, poetic, rebellious vs the new me- polite, structured, tight. I have been writing through that battle now for the last couple of years. The poet versus the journalist. Perhaps I am a new breed of poetic journalist. But I will let Matt comment about that- he is, of course the expert in all things gonzo.

So there. Not a book review, not an attack on Chuck Palahnuik, just some observations on literary style, from a guy still searching for the best belt to match with his literary hat. Now off I waddle to the bathroom on a quest for the next grand subject. Excuse me a moment.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little girls are weird

The bell rang at 3:05, kids of various sizes poured out the school doors. YAY! It was Friday afternoon, hurray for the weekend! My job was to fetch my 10-year-old daughter and three of her closest friends. I spotted one, then two was with three. Where was four? We waited and waited and waited some more. The kids did what kids do, they played tag, wrestled, squealed, squelched, were generally manic. Finally the fourth wacky wee one arrived, something to do with not explaining to the after school program people that she was coming home with us.

Off we went. Me, three girls and their one little boy toy, yee haw. I am not sure how the after school folks do it. I can handle my own, they gray my hair and I love them, but large groups of children frighten me, too damn much nervous energy. The first stop was at my son's best friend's house, to pick up he and his best friend. Are you keeping track? That is me versus six children. Lord of the freaking Flies, I was scared for my life. Fortunately, by the time we picked up the two little fellas, we were only a block or so away from home. I was going to survive the first bit.

Let the party begin! First it was build your own pizza. Kids have weird tastes, pineapple, cheese and Italian sausage, or better, half cheese and half mushroom (divine!). The kids merely picked at their pizzas, it seems that the construction of the pizza was much more fun than its degustation. The pop, ice cream, chips and chocolate chip cookies however, were a huge success. Go figure. I survived the second bit, I began the 3rd bit in the kitchen. Thank you dishes!

Movie time. We rented enough for the kids to stay up well into the next day. Hours and hours of Disney-esque stuff. Zac Efron you cad, you beautiful beast.

The boys left at 8:00ish, the girls shut themselves into the living room, my 6-year-old went to bed, Amy and I locked ourselves into our bedroom. Chick flicks, (I love you Beth Cooper, Superbad with a miniskirt, funny) hurray! Three 10-year-olds girls in an enclosed space, wow the noise they made. It was then that my eye started to twitch...keep it together man, the night was young.

The goal (of course) was for the girls to pull an all-nighter (well duh, it was a sleep-over, don't you know anything?). They tried their best. I had to tell them to try and be a little quieter at 1:20 am. I heard the coming and going of little girl feet until about 3:30 am. Oh man, morning was gonna suck. I survived, sorta.

I tried to sleep in, I figured I might be able to tone out the morning madness with some extra zzzzs. That however, wouldn't have been fair to Amy. Eeeks the natives were hungry, restless and over-tired. Up I sprang to save the day. Why can't I get coffee delivered in a UV drip? A caffeine patch. The bags under my eyes grew four times that morning, but there were eggs to be scrabbled, bagels to toast, juice to pour, geesh.

Yawn. Amy wants to do this every month or so. Help me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ewwww, messy


as the

~ Charles Bukowski

The spirit has definitely waned, I lack form, I am formless. I am in a creative void, beyond bastardly writer's block, this is a void of black hole-like proportions... HUGE. I am cut to the core, I am questioning why I pretend to play the game at all. What is the point?

Once a week or so, after I tell someone I am a writer, I get asked what I write, or what kind of a writer I am. I usually begin my response with a um, well I have a diploma in journalism (ooo, ahh, how interesting), I haven't been published, it is rough out there, yada, yada, meh. The whole damn thing reminds me of when I was a vegetarian, I was asked and asked and asked again why I didn't eat meat. At first it was easy. I would say something along the lines that I was against the domestication and slaughter of animals for food. Yes, that was me, I was one of those pretentious, wanna be hippies (the first step is admitting it), thank gawd my love of meat and need for protein won the day. That Double Mozza Burger from A & W, nothing ever tasted better. Drool.

Wait, wait, does that mean I am giving up on writing because I find it pretentious, because I can't fit myself into a neat box? Nah, I simply feel a little cornered right now. I am worried that writing is nothing more than a hobby, or worse, a bad habit. I worry that, I simply write for fun, that I will never be able to make a living as a writer. I am suffering from a crisis of confidence and it sucks.

But worry not. I will not be stuffed into a box... no way, never! The way I write, the why and how I write, hell I can't really intelligently answer those questions. I just do. I write because it is a biological imperative, it's like burping, like farting, a piss or a shit. If I don't write, I might explode. Ewwww, messy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The National Affairs Desk: Entering a new eschelon

Appologies to Joe for taking the front page space for an ad, but this is some news all of our extended N.A.D. family may have an interest in.
One of our field reporters, Stephanie Stebbins, will be bringing us the N.A.D.'s first actual report from the field. She is writing a piece for us on a shocking new study which has found a direct link between the occurance of autism and residential proximity to industrial facilities; power plants in particular. There will be original photography as well. Get ready for the N.A.D. to enter a new level of the game...or atleast for ONE article...STAY TUNED!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The planting papers: Nick the night clown

Back to Whyte Avenue, the Commercial Hotel, Edmonton Alberta, Canada. Add 35 or so dirty, stinky tree planters and a night manager who can't stand dirty, stinky tree planters, comedy would surly ensue. The night manager, Nick was his name, he was a bit of a celebrity, a clown of a fella, hence the nickname: Nick the night clown.

Nick had his eye on me, he could smell a rat and I was coming off rodent. The scam, I will have you know, was to have a group of 20 or so planters book 4 or 5 rooms, then, get this, someone would open up the fire exit letting the other 10 or so planters sneak in. We had done it a bunch of times before and without fail. We were convinced that we could pull it off again this time. What could wrong? Really, I mean we were dealing with Nick the night clown, a mental midget, too easy.

Before the caper began, we hit the pub attached to the Commercial. A little pool and some liquid courage to sharpen the senses. The Commercial Pub was a biker/blues bar, a tough spot, but with great music and cheap booze. It was never a spot where you ended your night, but it was a helluva spot to start. But where was I? Oh yes, plying myself with beer, waiting for the signal... operation hotel room would soon begin.

Myself and my buddy Clarke needed some fresh threads (no mean feat, everything we owned, if dry, was stained a nice earthy brown). Off we went into the Ryder truck which housed all our gear. Clarke, gawd love him found a can of Bear Scare (pepper spray), he decided it was a good idea to spray a little, just a little, in the back of the Ryder, 'you know just to see what it was like'. See, who could see? The whole of the box of the Ryder was filled with the noxious spray. Blinded, coughing and yes laughing, we jumped out of the back of the truck. We had to walk it off, we still haven't found a room to crash, yet. Ouch, it burned, it burned.

Once our eyes stopped watering Clarke and I decided to try and find our bed for the night. We went back into the pub, found someone who had a room, asked them to meet us at the fire exit. Clarke went up first, peeked into the hallway, gave a thumbs up and disappeared inside. Up I went, I peeked into the hallway, first I looked left, no Nick, then I looked right, no Nick. A huzzah to the perfect crime.

In order to ebb suspicion, I carefully shut and locked the fire exit. 'HEY!' There he was, there was Nick the night clown at the end of the hallway. Flashlight in hand and approaching fast. 'Hey you, stop, wait, you get out of here'. I sprang down the hall, into a stairwell down a coupla flights of stairs, zoom into a lady's washroom (Nick would never look there). I waited for five minutes, crossed my fingers that there were no ladies with any biological needs, then tried my luck.

BUSTED! 'There you are, I caught you, you leave the hotel, if I see you in here again, I will call the police'. 'Yes sir, I am sorry sir'.

Fuck, where was I gonna stay? I was broke, it was late. Everyone I knew was either in the hotel or out about town. Hmmmm? The Ryder, could I sleep there? It was a warm night, it was shelter, it was free, what the hell?

I ripped open the back door of the Ryder, whoosh, the lingering fumes of pepper spray smacked me in the face. Yep, I was living large. Hurray for me! I moved a few duffel bags around, I made myself a comfy nest. I slept, well sorta.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Caption, but be kind. I mean look at him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Truth Won't Set Us Free

We know the truth. Michael Werbowski, in "America: After the Fall", tells us ...
20 years after the fall of communism, American-style capitalism has also fallen. But the downfall was silent, without any visible walls toppling or crumbling. The 9/11-like collapse of the financial firms of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers left no piles of rubble or slabs of fractured concrete on the ground, just lots of laid off traders and deal makers. But the brokerage and investment banks' end signaled the death knell of market capitalism as we knew it; another misbegotten ideology born out of the musings of Adam Smith, Ricardo and Milton Friedman was laid to rest unceremoniously. The troika which presumed that man’s most bestial instincts can be curbed in the pursuit of profit and happiness were wrong ...

The president’s inverted version of “perestroika” (that is, the restructuring or retooling of the economy) has been fine tuned to meet the need of the oligarchs and corporate barons who support him and prompt him behind the curtains. Obama and his czar–commissars (and his adoring minions of PR spin operatives) have deftly in a brilliant slight of hand in one swift jest, effectively expropriated the entire financial and industrial sectors in America by means of massive taxpayer funded “bail outs”. These ploys have turned the essence of capitalism upside down, by rewarding cronyism and criminal behavior to the point where “crime pays” very handsomely indeed, and enables billionaires, fraudsters and financiers to obtain great gain almost without almost any pain or punishment. These perverse policies are likely to fail. In the end, Gorbachev’s policies, although ostensibly well meaning, actually hastened the demise of the Soviet state. This later led to its fragmentation and disintegration of the communist superpower and its Eastern Empire. America’s current plight may lead to a similar outcome.
We know the truth. In his piece, "Self-jiving Nation", Jim Kunstler writes ...
If you think we have been in a crisis of finance and economy for the past year or so, consider that we have also been sunk in a comprehensive crisis of leadership. Nobody in authority is willing to face the truth, state the truth, and offer a reality-based idea about how to meet the truth, This is a leadership failure not just in politics and government, but also in business, in the university faculties, in the editorial and production offices of the news media, and even among a barely-breathing clergy ...
We know the truth, but we can't handle it. We grasp at straws of hope, looking for anything in the media blabber and bluster to light the sky over the wasteland. Even the survivalists don't seem to grasp that "The World as We Know It" is gone; what we see now is a chimera, and that's about all.

See it or not, most of us are sucking on a try breast of truly "faith-based" delusion that somehow "recovery" is just over the horizon.

I cringe when I hear that this will be a "jobless recovery". That is the new leader on the list of oxymora. An economic landscape which benefits only those who steal their money from the people is the new truth. We have not, through "bailouts", invested in a system in which the rich elitists reinvest their riches in the interest of a valued, common society of equal human beings. Fuggedaboutit!

But instead of moving gamely through the steps of dealing with our grief over the loss of comfortable, debt-generated illusion, we are caught in the vicious cycle of denial and anger, denial and anger, ad infinitum. And instead of turning our anger against those who have stolen our dreams (they were nothing more than that), we rage against each other in polarized cults, thinking we inhabit our own chosen political temples of truth. Such folly. Heh. We've got 'em just where they want us.

The truth is plain. Last week at the International Forecaster, in "A New System For The Privleged Is Not A Remedy For The Economy", the author writes ...
Our usurping, . . . spendthrift President, together with our corrupt, elitist-bootlicking Congress of money-grabbing Dumbos and Jackasses, are spending us into a multi-trillion dollar hyperinflationary oblivion as their ratings by their constituents drop into the toilet bowl, ratings which are disgracefully the lowest in all of US history. With a diabolical "Robin Hood in Reverse" plan in place since 1913 for the extortion of money from the US middle class to reduce their serfs to poverty and abject slavery, the Illuminati have managed to use the Federal Reserve Act and US income tax, together with the Social Security Ponzi Scheme, phony, orchestrated wars for profit, socialization of bankster-gangster losses, the globalism/free trade/off-shoring/outsourcing/legal-illegal immigration agendas, and a totally bought-and-paid-for President, Congress, judiciary and regulatory agencies, to reduce US citizens to consumerist credit addicts, living pay check to pay check like narcissistic hedonists ...
There's that word again - "narcissist".

This is from a book review piece done back in April by MSNBC/Today Show, "Me, me, me! America’s ‘Narcissism Epidemic’" ...
A popular song declares, with no apparent sarcasm, "I believe that the world should revolve around me!" People buy expensive homes with loans far beyond their ability to pay — or at least they did until the mortgage market collapsed as a result. Babies wear bibs embroidered with "Supermodel" or "Chick Magnet" and suck on "Bling" pacifiers while their parents read modernized nursery rhymes from This Little Piggy Went to Prada. People strive to create a "personal brand" (also called "self-branding"), packaging themselves like a product to be sold. Ads for financial services proclaim that retirement helps you return to childhood and pursue your dreams. High school students pummel classmates and then seek attention for their violence by posting YouTube videos of the beatings.

Although these seem like a random collection of current trends, all are rooted in a single underlying shift in the American psychology: the relentless rise of narcissism in our culture. Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. Standards have shifted, sucking otherwise humble people into the vortex of granite countertops, tricked-out MySpace pages, and plastic surgery. A popular dance track repeats the words "money, success, fame, glamour" over and over, declaring that all other values have "either been discredited or destroyed."

The United States is currently suffering from an epidemic of narcissism. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines an epidemic as an affliction "affecting ... a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population," and narcissism more than fits the bill. In data from 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as fast as obesity from the 1980s to the present, with the shift especially pronounced for women ...
Yes, you see, we know the truth. We just can't do anything with the awful stuff.

Consider ... the primary thesis of classical liberalism, now brought to the farthest extremes in our society, dictates that the individual embodies the highest form of being, endowed with inalienable rights. No matter that the pursuit of such rights pretty much guarantees the alienation of everyone else's rights. The reconciliation was supposed to be managed by capitalism, thus taking the need for personal responsibility away from the individual and allowing "markets" to govern our behaviors. That, as Werbowski notes above, has finally failed, leaving the thieves with the keys and combinations to all the safes.

The truth is this: we have been and are being inexorably distracted from grasping the truth - wars, health care "reform", same-sex marriage, economic "recovery" statistics, cash for clunkers, political and media peccadilloes, and all the silly crap we are fed on a daily basis are a cacophonous diverson from the stark reality that the bread is all but gone and the circus is in town.

In "Social Decay in America" at CounterPunch, John stanton writes ...
American society merrily avoids accountability and responsibility. Americans seek the loophole and blame others--be they individuals, networks or nations--for their own deficiencies. American leaders direct the consequences of poor judgment down the chain-of-command. Why?

The American people have taken the bait from the nation’s op-ed writers and talking heads, corporate CEO’s, financiers, the president, members of congress, justices of the Supreme Court, governors, sports/movie/think-tank/academic stars, and military leaders. In the USA these are the script writers of the American narrative and masters of the American consciousness. They stand firm in their belief that the masses down below will follow their words and deeds, even die for them. They are the Unaccountable Elite.

And the American people don’t disappoint. Only on rare occasions is an “American leader” taken to task by a concerned public. The American people revel in their leaders, glorifying and emulating them and striving, one day, to make it like their idols did. In so doing they have forsaken their duty as American citizens to hold their leaders to account and, as consumers, divine what is theater and what is not ...
Maybe, just maybe, the truth will set some of us free. But first, it is driving us crazy.

Categories: , , , , ,

[originally posted at P!]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Strange beds, migraines, puke, rollercoasters and roadtrips, oh my.

everything here shakes
in fierce gamble
~ Charles Bukowski

I never sleep well in a strange bed. Tuesday night, after a day filled with car trips, an inordinate amount of moms and tots, a trip to the mall and a shortage of coffee, I crawled into a strange bed, my head pounding. I didn't sleep a wink. My headache turned into a full blown migraine by morning. Ouch.

Tired, in extreme pain, I ate breakfast, drank a cup of coffee (lack of caffeine yesterday, was that the cause of my brain pain?), then lied down on the couch. I tried to take a nap with Zoey, no sleep, pound, pound. Finally the woman whose house we were staying arrived with a couple of Advils and some sort of vipo-rub pain reliever, which she massaged into my temples, forehead and the back of my neck. I lied there and waited for the drugs to kick in.

I am not sure if the drugs kicked in, but 5 minutes later I said 'ew, I think I am gonna puke... yep I am gonna, hic, hic..'. Off I ran, hand over mouth, to the bathroom, which fortunately was only about 20 feet away. Boy oh boy did I ever puke. It was like I was suffering from a flashback hangover, it was horrible. Yikes, the impression I must have made on our host. Classy.

The plan for the day, the promise we made to the kids, was to take them to an indoor amusement park called Crystal Palace. Ye gods I was gonna have to get my brain in order and fast! Oddly enough, I slowly began to feel better after a good solid power puke. An hour or so later, my brain and my belly felt well enough to dress the children, pile them into the car and drive them to the amusement park. Yay, and I quote 'YAY!'.

We stopped at a Burger King first. It was around lunch time, I had purged myself of supper and breakfast a couple of hours earlier. I was hungry, the greasier the better, I needed something to stick to my leery ribs. NOM, NOM, NOM, burp! Adequately stuffed with fast food, baby changed and similarly filled with momma's milk, we ran towards the entrance... this was gonna be the best day ever!

First we went on the bumper cars. Might as well test the brain with some bumps and whiplash. Brain held up, belly too. I might survive this day yet. I then took the 6 year old on a bunch of rides that were more his speed. The trucks, a choo choo train, back on the bumper cars, repeat. A quick coffee break, huzzah for Chapters and Starbucks (I scored Bukowski's The Pleasures of the Damned) an amusement park for adults, weeee!

My 10 year old daughter spent much of the afternoon on the rollercoaster, she went around and around and around. This is a girl that gets car sick, but has no fear of rollercoasters, yep, she is an odd one. Anyway, the 6 year old through some taunting and teasing from his older sister was convinced to hop on the rollercoaster, as long as I sat with him.

Up we went, tic, tic, tic. Zach was getting noticeably more and more nervous. Whoosh, off we flew, zoom, zing, around a corner we zipped, hurtling towards a tunnel, that's when Zach lost it. MAKE IT STOP, I WANT TO GET OFF! I was not aware that the coaster did 3 passes, I figured we were about done, I thought I'd get him off, give him a hug, thus limiting the trauma. I was wrong, ZING, we zoomed past the starting point...I WANNA GET OFFFFFFF, AHHHHHHHHH! Poor Zach, the horror continued. Fortunately I was able to catch the ride attendant's attention before we went on a third hellish pass.

Zach shaken up, but no longer strapped into a torture device, simply needed a hug and some orange pop, poof, the roller coaster was all but forgotten... or at least repressed. The father of the world award goes to... bah, forget it.

Three hours or so later, we were collectively knackered. It was time to put food in the wee one's bellies, it was time to make the long trip home. After a short detour back to the place we had stayed the night before, then a stop at a restaurant for some sustenance, we began the hour or so ride home. The baby like the rest of us was over-tired, she cried all the way home. How the migraine failed to return is a medical mystery.

What a 13 or so hours. It began with a migraine, continued with some vomit, lead to some swirling and whirling and was topped off with an hour of driving with an infant crying the whole way. I was told there would be days like this, I was not convinced that I would ever survive it. Survive I did and you know what, I actually had fun. No I am not a fan of migraines, vomit or noisy car rides, heck I am not even a fan of amusement parks... the fun I guess was in playing super dad, maybe it was the 20 minutes of book shopping, I dunno? I am glad I survived and wow am I happy to be home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The planting papers: So I arrive in Edmonton...

So I arrive in Edmonton, it was late May, there was a chill in the air. I was a complete stranger to the city. I was told to show up at such and such a mall the very next morning. I only had to survive one night. What could go wrong? Anything and everything, but I am getting ahead of myself. I am still at the airport. First time in my life I have been in Edmonton, Alberta, heck anywhere west of Toronto. There wasn't much planning, I had a job, it began the next morning, let the games begin. My priority right now was to find a place to stay. I had heard stories about the Commercial Hotel, I heard it was a dive, but cheap. I asked the cabby to take me there.

Whyte Ave, in the mid 90s, so yes, it was mad. The Commercial Hotel was a dive, one of the roughest places I have ever stayed. In its basement there was a mini skid row (I saw and heard some awful things down there), each room throughout the joint looked different, the whole place hadn't been redecorated since 1958. It never makes much of a first impression, but holy crap do I ever have a million stories in and around that place. I booked a room, I rid myself of all my gear, I hit Whyte Ave, I went exploring.

The next next morning, I made my way to a mall, more specifically a liquor store at the other end of the parking lot. There was supposed to be a yellow school bus waiting there, one that was gonna whisk us off into the wilderness. One problem... it wasn't there. Did I go to the right place? Was I in the right parking lot? The instructions and the directions both seemed legit, everything made sense, aside from the lack of yellow school bus, oh and other tree planters. There were none of those types wandering about. Yikes, what do I do now, I thought. I call head office. Hello, I am so and so, um isn't there supposed to be a bus here? Isn't it all supposed to start today, I asked. Oh, Mr so and so, we are sorry, we were unable to get a hold of you, the trees aren't ready yet, we hope to start in 5 days, they answered. Holy fuck, I have like 40 bucks and a Petro Canada card... 5 days, ouch.

Where does a fella down on his luck and short on money always end up? The YMCA of course. I had to find a Y.

Yellow pages, they were the Internet before the information age...flip, flip, flip, YMCA... downtown Edmonton I went. Edmonton's downtown was near empty, had a real eerie feeling. Large glass buildings, very light traffic, no pedestrians, tumbleweeds (I lie). There I was 22 years old, a back and front full of gear, asking for a bed for a few nights. Rooms cost $17, I had $40, so enough for 2 nights, $6 in change, but who's counting?

Yikes, 2 nights, I will figure it out, I always figure it out. They gave me a key to a double room. Up I went, relieving myself of all that gear, I changed my sweaty shirt, then plunked down on a lumpy old bed, reached into a backpack, rummaged around, first pulling out a Walkman (the year was 1995, long live the mixed tape!) then put Mercury Rev's 'Boces'in it and pressed play. I lied there, I zoned out for a bit, I escaped.

An hour or so later the door swung open, I had a roommate, oh joy, oh bliss. There is no escaping here. My roommate was a tall, skinny fella, with a long 'rocker' mullet. He wasn't intimidating at all, just at that point, he was yet another pain in my ass.

Turns out he had a car, which was important. Why, you ask? Well because cars need gas and the only cash I had came in the form of a gas card from Petro Canada. I put five bucks gas in his tank and we could then attain sustenance in the way of gas station chicken salad sandwiches and potato chips. You do what you can to survive.

I don't remember much of the whole ordeal, I have memories of watching the Devils sweep the Red Wings in Stanley Cup Finals in the Y lounge. I remember being nervous, I remember thinking, what the hell have I got myself into? I remember frequent calls home and frequent calls to head office. I remember wondering if I had made a huge mistake...?

Eventually, 5 days later (or was it 3?)the bus arrived in the parking lot, there were tree planters mulling about. Hacky sacks were kicked, early friendships were formed. On the bus I climbed. Rumble, hiccup, cough the bus rolled towards the Albertan foothills. The adventure had just begun. Yikes.