Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I've had enough

I can't wait for November 26 and the Led Zeppelin and the big reunion concert. Not because I'm going, or that I'm a big fan. Not because I'm looking forward to the brawl that's sure to happen when a stadium full of British football/concert hooligans, most of them strangers to one another thanks to the balloting system of ticket distribution, decide to unite in violence against all the foreigners who also have come to see the concert event of the decade.


What I want in my radio back. This concert has hijacked the airwaves like nothing before. It's bad enough when you live in a city where the classic rock station (Q-107) dubb themselves Q10Zeppelin for the amount of the band's music they play. The station appears to run on a simple rule of them: Satisfy the Can-Con, then satisfy the Zep-Con.

Everything else is incidental.

There is no escape from other stations. If they play rock of any kind they have montage contests, trivia contests, phone in and guess the number contests, hell, I bet even John Tesh is having a "Stairway to Zeppelin" contest on his syndicated EZ Rock shows.

And always the music. Sorry, not all of us are teenage potheads with LED ZEPPELIN misspelled in blue and black ink on the back of our denim jackets and think Plant and Page are gods. (Bonhams' dead and no one really cares about John Paul Jones- not even the band).

Speaking of which, the only thing that must suck worse than being the drummer son of Rock's most famous dead drummer, is being the drummer son of Rock's most famous dead drummer unable to find a band to play in other than your dead father's old group.

The sad thing is, I know the hype won't end after the concert. If they played well, there might be talk of a tour and a new album. And why not, the Eagles are releasing a new record after the swore never to again, but that was before the tours they swore they would never do again.

And if the concert sucked, there will be that to talk about. But short of Jimmy Page taking over lead vocals while Plant dances like Michael Flatly in "Lord of the Dance," I think the show will be deemed a success.

I fearnot even a good old fashioned commercial Christmas will have the power to shoot down the Zeppelin, with the CD's and DVD"s of the concert and let's not forget the ubiquitous boxed sets.

The only good thing that can come from this is the hoopla is a one time thing. Once the back together, the cherry has been popped. Like the Who's neverending reunion tours, the novelty will fade until people merely shrug at the mention of a concert. I mean look what happened to the Rolling Stones--

oh crap.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yikes! I've been spammed!

Looks like the guys who host the website are playing a little hardball. Till recently, my website email has had very little spam, until Doteasy started offering their new spam shield. Don't got it? Well look what happens.


As it is, I don't need any kind of enlargement, thank you very much. Nor do I need Viagra or any other kind of gra that might come with my low low low pescriptions. Don't need Windows or any other software. Don't need a God damn thing! And of course there is a pile of money waiting for me somewhere if I just send them my credit card number to confirm. Unless someone is tinkering with my EBay account and only loggin on with my password will solve the problem.


Sadly, there is a reason for spam. People respond. Some 20 % of world sales come from spam and telemarketing, so it makes sense from the business point of view. I mean, if you aren't going to buy, then there is no great loss, is there? And since as a spammer, you are virtually intouchable, it's all gravy.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Writers of the Future Ceremony 2006

Hey! Here are segments of my acceptance speech from last summer. They loved me. They really loved me.

The Powers and the Glory

Went to see author and Writers of the Future workshop instructor Tim Powers on Saturday. First, I met up with fellow winners, Sarah Totton (XXII), Tony Pi (XXIII), and Gold Prize winner Stephen Kotowych (XXIII).

We met in front of the Merrill Collection Branch of the Toronto Library on a cold blustery day. For the life of me, I swore the branch was on Queen Street, about a mile south of where I needed to be. Luckily, I had arrived early, what I like to call, 'getting lost time.' Eventually, I met up with Sarah and Tony in front of the library.

Now, I don't want to say that the BIG PRIZE has gotten to Stephen Kotowych's head, but let's just say he arrived fashionably late, if you know what a mean ;) ;)

We all had lunch in Sai Gon Palace restaraunt. It was my first time with Vietnamese food and though tasty, I found it decidedly on the mushy side. But that's me. In any case, the portions were generous for the price, and I left with some food at the bottom of my bowl because I was full.

Sarah Totton, Stephen Kotowych, and Tony Pi settle up on the bill, while I play the tourist and take a picture. Notice the black T-shirt which Stephen and Tony generously gave to Sarah and myself. Underneath the shirt is a signed copy of WoTF XXIII.

After lunch we went to the library, which is likely one of the finest Science Fiction and Fantasy resources in the world. Unfortunately, the talk was on the third floor and I had a near coronary climbing the circular stairs, but then I always have a near coronary climbing stairs.

Tim is a wonderful speaker. He has an easy manner and a quiet confidence when he speaks, with healthy smatterings of humor, as he explained how he feels about how to describe his books. He knows they are magical realism, but is happy to describe them as Science Fiction or something that gets reviews in Locus magazine.

Here, Tim is seen with his ubiquitous can of Coke. The bag on the desk with the smiley face is filled with them.

Afterwards, he did a quick Q&A, which I found intimidating. I sometimes forget that fans will give your work more consideration than the average person. And if they happen to be English Lit majors, well, forget it. Luckily, Tim was also an EngLit major and easily went toe to toe answering questions on allegory and themes. Later, as I drove home, I realized how cool it must be to have your work considered seriously by EngLit majors.

With the Q&A over, most went to try some of the refreshments laid out for the guest. Here, Tim's lovely wife, Serena, displays a thin slice of a strudel-like pastry in the style of a The Price Is Right model.

Meanwhile, books were purchased and signed.

This is about the only time Tim looked into the camera. Here he is with Sarah Totton.

Tony Pi looks about to gush like a school girl as he looks upon Tim's magnificenceness and penmenship.

Stephen Kotowych: Come on, Tim. It was just last August, like 2 months ago. You remember? Pasadena? I won the Gold Award? It's me, Canadian Steve.

Tim Powers: Hmmm, sorry. Don't remember. Is that with a 'K'?

Finally, it was time to go, and we gathered for the obligatory group shot. Here, are the recent winners (I think we need a cool name, like the Gang of Four, or the Four Horsemen): (l-r)Stephen Kotowcyh, Tim Powers, Tony Pi, Sarah Totton, and Mike Rimar.

And finally, a little bit of the man in motion. Tim Powers.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

This is my rant on politics.

Ontario is in the midst of a provincial election. Last election a close friend advised me to vote for the Liberal Party, lead by Dalton McGuinty, because of his stance on supporting health care.

Although I supported the position, (it’s hard to believe that there are actually people who don’t), I didn’t like the man. I had followed some of his progress through the political machine through the years and recognized him for what he was; a disreputable used car salesman, saying anything, doing anything to get what he wanted.

But the last government was a Progressive Conservative (oxymoron!) majority. In the beginning of their term the PC’s were an anomaly. They had campaigned on keeping our high taxes, and cutting government services till it hurt to create a balanced budget, a rarity in any government.

Well, after election night the PC’s got a majority and everyone settled in for another four years of same-old-same-old.

Only something odd happened. Party leader Mike Harris kept his promises. He cut and cut deep and services bled.

After the initial shock, the province settled into a kind o if-this-is-what-it-takes-then-so-be-it resignation, and all seemed good. The government got a balanced budget and, as is usually the case, Ontario rode high on a good American economy. But then the economy started shifting. Teachers and government services unions went on strike. Harris, to his credit didn’t give in to either.

But he should have. The times, they were a changin’. Lucky for him, when election time came around he was able to produce results, AND his opponent was a new Liberal Party leader named Dalton McGuinty. The PC’s won another majority and maintained the party line.

Big mistake.

The voters, seeing the surplus from the sacrifices they had been forced to endure, thought they would soon benefit. Instead they were forced to make more cuts, lose more services. Hospitals were closed down. Amalgamation, the buzzword of the 90’s, became a slur. Mike Harris constantly besieged by press and power-seekers within his own party, resigned, eventually leaving politics altogether. After a quick convention, the PC’s picked Ernie Eaves to lead them to further glory.

Unfortunately for him, Harris had made too many enemies of the voters, and Harris meant PC. With his slicked back hair, and square Ukrainian face, Eaves looked like a mobster who could do nothing right, even when he did. When it came time to campaign, he decided to dance with the woman he brought to the ball, and stuck to the party line of more cuts and sacrifice.

Sooooooooo Wrong.

The voters wanted change. They wanted someone who would offer them, well, anything other than Conservative miserliness.

Which McGuinty did.

Now let me tell you something that many people have forgotten or simply don’t know. Dalton McGuinty was once part of the Peterson Liberals back in, oh, the late eighties and early nineties. A victim of bad management and bad timing, Peterson managed to lose the election to :GASP!: Bob Rae and the NDP.

At that time I had great respect for Rae. He had been in charge of the New Democratic Party for about 9 years and was a great shit disturber at Queen’s Park, the seat of Provincial government. So, imagine his surprise when he was put in charge. Imagine his, and the voters, surprise when he discovered the provincial coffers which Peterson had touted as brimming with gold, were actually empty and therefore could not keep his campaign promises.

(This might sound familiar to the people of Ontario)

Bob Rae went on to nearly destroy Ontario and do irreparable damage to the NDP. They have never been a serious force in Ontario politics since.

But this isn’t about Bob Rae. This is about another politician who promised the world to the voters, then cried "poverty" when he got into office. I, too, had voted for the Liberal candidate, against my better judgement, but because McGuinty promised something that was important to someone I loved. (and still do ;P)

As it turned out, the candidate I voted for didn’t get elected, about the only thing about the last election that made me feel good.

Since then, I’ve endured the pencil-necked liar, knowing he would get the boot next election. To give McGuinty his due, he is a political animal. His campaign dismisses his broken promises by touting the promises he kept.

The thing about those promises is that for the most part they didn’t cost his government money, or they generated revenue. That might sound good on the surface. Afterall baning smoking just about everywhere is a good thing right? And free, too. Giving the seniors of the province the help he promised them, well, sorry, the pockets are empty on that one.

Sadly, the PC’s have followed the same route the Democrats did in the last election. They got an unpersonable schnook to lead them. John Kerry, with his long jaw and hefty bank account, must have looked good in the drunken euphoria of a Democratic Convention, but after the hangover, lines as deep as the grand canyon etched his reputation, and what was that funky smell?

John Tory has become our Kerry. It was cute when Tory actually won the leadership of the PC’s because the party’s nickname is the Tories. So Tory is a Tory leading the Tories.

Kind of a Major Major Major Major thing you Heller fans. (Oh! A literary reference)

Anyway, this guy was supposed to be the Great White Hope for the PC’s - likeable to big business as well as the middle-class. Well, upper middle-class. Tory would lead the party back from the near oblivion of the last election. All he had to do was wait for an election while Dalton sunk himself.

But noooooooo! (a John Belushi/SNL reference)

Tory had to open his mouth. He had to come up with ‘ideas’ of his own. Worse, ideas so controversial, it overshadows McGuinty’s own failures on the same issue, and is costing him an election.

Now, you might say this is good, showing the man for what he is. Better to pick the devil you know, and all that.

Yeah, and professional sports teams tank games so they can get first round draft picks.

So, here are my election predictions.

Unless Dalton McGuinty is caught in a sexual act with a dead sheep, he is going to get another majority government. If he is caught with a live sheep, then maybe a minority.

Shortly after the election, the Tories will dump Tory for a new Tory loser, er, leader.

The NDP, practically invisible in this election, will remain so, and even lose their coveted status as primary shit disturbers to the environmental Green Party.

Though the Green’s have been getting good press, and let’s face it, deep down we know some of what they say is right, on the whole their candidates are not politically savvy. The party will disappear into the forest with the rest of the fringe parties until the next election.

McGuinty will get in and call his majority win a ‘mandate of the people’, and not acknowledge the fact the opposition couldn’t come up with someone worth voting for. Hell, he won’t have to. Premiers rarely last more than two terms in office. Meanwhile, he’ll continue with his policies of squeezing blood from a rock, balance his government budget and break whatever promises he made that are to inconvenient to keep.

In other words, back to the same-old-same-old.