saddam hussein executed

saddam hussein was executed by hanging in baghdad around 6 a.m. local time saturday (10 p.m. et friday). was this a victory in the war against terror? hardly. was this a triumph of justice? that's debatable. was this the much needed boost for human rights? i sort of doubt it.

it is certainly underwhelming, considering how much brutality this man caused over the last couple of decades, the circus that was his trial, and the seeming railroading to a quick execution. of course, even if the trial wasn't the most even-handed affair, there really was no way saddam would ever get a fair trial, because everyone knew him to be evil and guilty, even though he technically hadn't been taken to trial at the time or had been convicted of anything, which technically made him innocent according to western laws, even though everyone knew he was guilty, but he's not until a court finds him so, which they finally did in a trial that got ridiculously out of hand, if you follow where i'm going with this.

perhaps instead of having a perfect trial from a new judiciary, what was more important was the appearance of due process, because who are we kidding? it was all just a formality anyway. saddam was dead the moment the first american soldier set foot in iraq. it was only a matter of time. not if, but when and how.

i suppose many do rejoyce and consider saddam to have gotten better than he deserved, but at the same time, what now? he's dead. soon to be bones. where does that leave the iraqi people? what about the troops fighting there? the rest of the world?

say what you want about saddam (he's a monster for sure), but he managed to keep the disputing factions relatively under control during his reign because, well, he scared the shit out of everyone. he was basically the linchpin in iraq, and once removed, that whole complicated political and religious system sort of came unravelled which leaves iraq in civil war. is the world better off without saddam? probably. was he a necessary evil though? maybe. the less than satisfying nature of his death sort of makes you wonder, doesn't it?



gerald ford: iraq war was a "big mistake"

gerald ford, the 38th president of the united states, and the only one ever to take office without being elected, died at the age of 93, on december 26, 2006. he took over the presidency after nixon resigned in the wake of the watergate scandal. during his presidency, the biggest thing he'll be noted for (over and above surviving two assassination attempts on his life) is when he gave a full and unconditional pardon to nixon for any crimes he may have commited while president. this would turn out to be his biggest political mistake.

ford, apparently, did not agree with the iraq war. in a series of interviews done on the condition that they not be released until after his death, he spoke of many things, from the iraq war to the notion that the united states has a duty to free people around the world.

here are some highlights on what he had to say:

on the unjustified iraq war:

- ford said the iraq war was not justified. "i don't think i would have gone to war," said ford, about a year after u.s. president george w. bush launched the invasion.

- "rumsfeld and cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in iraq. they put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction... and now, i've never publicly said i thought they made a mistake, but i felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

on what he would have done:

- "i don't think i would have ordered the iraq war. i would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer."

on george w. bush's notion that the u.s. has a "duty to free people":

- "well, i can understand the theory of wanting to free people," said ford. but he was unsure if it was possible to "detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest."

- "and i just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

on saddam and weapons of mass destruction:

- "saddam hussein was an evil person and there was justification to get rid of him," he told daily news' thomas defrank. "but we shouldn't have put the basis on weapons of destruction. that was a bad mistake. where does (bush) get his advice?"

it seems that ford was just as perplexed towards the bush administration's actions as everyone else was at the time.

(source 1) (source 2)

the following is a fitting humorous tribute to gerald ford. here, dana carvey is in an old saturday night live skit that shows him playing news anchor tom brokaw preparing for ford's inevitable death:

an inconvenient truth

i know i'm a little late on this review, but i guess it's better late than never *wink, wink* i had been sitting on this movie for months and just haven't bothered to take a look at it until now. it didn't tell me anything i didn't already know, but it was definitely entertaining.

global warming is a tough subject to discuss without getting too preachy, and it's sort of unavoidable. at least al gore does it entertainingly in the documentary, an inconvenient truth. former vice president al gore does a great job of taking a stuffy, yet incredibly important subject like global warming and manages to, amazingly, turn in an entertaining and informative lecture. here, he speaks with passion and wit and humour. you can tell this is a subject close to his heart. the only thing i have to wonder about him, is where was this version of al gore in the 2000 election campaign? but i digress. the past is the past and we can't really change that. i'm

at any rate, an inconvenient truth is a great documentary. everyone should see this movie. as a human, as a global citizen, you will be cheating yourself if you did not see this movie. if you are someone who already knows about global warming and wants to make a change, this movie will give you support and make your beliefs into convictions. if you are someone who is critical of the effects of global warming, this movie will at the very least test your beliefs. and if you're too afraid to test your beliefs every once in a while, then those beliefs probably weren't worth propping up in the first place.

a major issue raised in this movie is the ability of science to help humanity move forward and advance. over the past few years, science has taken a major beating: from schools no longer teaching evolution to global warming being dismissed as a theory. it's about time science took a front seat again in schools and in thought. after all, science has gotten us to where we are today. without it, we'd still be a bunch of superstitious cave dwellers. (well, i guess some of us still are).

all in all, even if you don't believe in global warming, and you don't believe in the negative effects (eg: increased spread of diseases, flooding, increased natural disasters, increased refugee populations, etc), you can at least know this one key thing: you may not think it effects you, but eventually it will effect your job, your living space, and ultimately where it really hurts: your pocket book.

pick up the movie. it's good for you. the dvd package is even made from completely post-consumer recycled (and biodegradable) material.


george bush: new years resolutions

president george w. bush has made a new year's resolution to make sure u.s. troops remain safe in iraq and that the united states would "help this young democracy survive and thrive, and therefore write a new chapter of peace."
it's really a good thing he made a resolution about it, otherwise it won't ever get done. i mean, everybody follows through on their resolutions, right?
he's also gone on record saying that he wants more consultation with congress and the iraqis before "coming to closure" on a plan for iraq. he believes that "the key to success is to deal with elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding."
no shit sherlock. that's like saying the key to staying alive is breathing. considering he has yet to make any real changes towards the issue of civil war in iraq, with thousands of iraqis dying every month, not to mention the continuing increase of u.s. military casualties, hearing him give nothing but lip service sort of makes you want to puke in your mouth.


the fantastic four: rise of the silver surfer

the first fantastic four movie was horrible. everything from the writing to the special effects were terrible. the only character they got (mostly) right was the human torch. now there's a sequal, because for some strange reason that first movie made money. the fantastic four: rise of the silver surfer is supposed to herald some great special fx for the silver surfer. however, if you watch the trailer, the silver surfer simply looks like another version of the t-1000 from terminator 2. considering that movie came out in 1991, it's easy to say that i'm not too impressed with this version. i understand that the silver surfer came first, but you would have thought that there would have been some advances in fx in fifteen years when it comes to metal work.

anyway, the trailer has more action than the whole first movie did, so i guess this one should be a little better. however, if they don't improve the writing, there really is no point. it was the terrible writing, above everything else in the first fantastic four film that killed it.

one last thing: i'm really liking this method of releasing a full clip from the film as a trailer. studios should do that more often. it makes for a nice change of pace.

just click on the silver surfer picture to be taken to the trailer.



transformers were my favorite toy growing up, and the transformers movie was such a milestone in my childhood development. watching my favorite transformers die within the first ten minutes of the movie was very traumatic for me.

and now there is a live action movie and i cannot wait. it is being directed by michael bay, which sort of makes me want to throw up considering the bile he's put to screen over the last ten years, but the one thing i do know, is that he can do large, action filled movies. and that's all i expect. i don't expect a good story or great character development. all i care about is awesome robot fighting. if there is a good story and great characters, that's all just bonus for me. simply put, i want a fun and exciting summer blockbuster on the grandest scale possible. if michael bay can pull this off, i will forgive him for his past cinema sins.

i have low expectations, yet high hopes for this movie. i am hoping, deep down inside, that this movie won't suck. my childhood memories depend on it. even if the movie does suck, you know that it will make a tonne of money. consider the fanbase: just think of how many kids have played with transformers, and how those kids have now grown up to be adults with jobs and families. and consider how many kids today watch the new transformers shows (the transformers have been around in one form or another since they first came out in the 80's.) basically, the studio and the hasbro toy company are looking to make a killing on this, even if it sucks. the geeks have indeed inherited the earth.

i won't be posting a youtube version of the trailer because this movie demands that you view it in glorious quicktime. click on the screenshot below to access the trailer. all i can say at this point is, "bow down, bitches!" enjoy.



i never bought audioslave. and by "bought," i mean i never believed what i was hearing from audioslave; i never felt these guys were serious. it always sounded like old rage against the machine songs dubbed over with chris cornell's dubious vocals that sort of spilled nonsensical lyrics.

well, with the release of their third album, revelations, i now believe them. i finall "get" them. it no longer sounds like two different bands trying to force something to work. revelations works on so many levels and i finally believe that these two separate entities have finally shed their baggage to create quite a good album.

i've always felt that rage against the machine had one of the best rhythm sections of modern rock and it's no different with audioslave (of course, they are the same people, so that was really a dumb statement).

i also felt that chris cornell was sort of riding the coat tails of the ratm members, never sort of pulling his own weight. well, he's actually very good here; his voice sounds strong and vibrant. he's got that instantly recognizable voice that is sorely lacking in modern music these days; everyone sounds the same. but cornell's voice you instantly know, no matter what song it is. i really believe the best thing to come out of the seattle sound of the 90's are the distinct singers. cornell, layne staley, eddie vedder... these guys basically have a brand with their voices.

just a couple of beefs: tom morello's solos still bother me. i miss the days when he'd just give a solid, rocking solo. now, he's more into making funny noises with his guitar, which works sometimes and doesn't most of the time. when it doesn't work, it just sucks you right out of the moment of the song, and that's a shame. the second beef is with the band's name. audioslave is a horrible name for a band. terrible. just terrible.

here are a couple of videos:

original fire - tom's solo here doesn't work for me.

revelations - tom's solo here is much better.



elbow is one of the best underrated bands on this planet. these guys are definitely one of my favorites. i could listen to their music anytime, any day, any place. i particularly like to write while listening to these guys. they have a great ability to craft really great "big" songs, songs that take up volume and space yet somehow manage to stay incredibly intimate and delicate.

not only are they great musically, the lyrics to their songs are spot on. take the lyrics to "leaders of the free world" for example. The first two lines are just perfect:

I’m sick of working for a living
I’m just ticking off the days till I die

here are a couple of videos. go buy their cds and dvds:

"leaders of the free world"

"switching off"


how to read a music video

so the writing for giants has been going quite well as of late. i think i am slowly seeing success in terms of how the second half of the book is coming along. as i have mentioned before in previous posts, my intent with the second half of giants was for it to have as little dialogue as possible, with the majority of it being played out through the physical interaction between characters, their actions, and music. this is influenced by the movie easy rider. to this day, that movie remains a huge influence on me.

that movie had very little in the way of dialogue (most of it incoherent), with long stretches of video played to rock music. it was basically a two hour music video, which i thought was great, because it got the message across without any real dialogue. now doing this in a book is very tricky, because you don't want to rely on music for mood or emotional points because if the reader hasn't heard the song, it won't mean anything to them.

so what i've done is write it traditionally, and injected songs in virtually every major scene; just a mention of them, and nothing more. the result, hopefully, is that the reader understands there is a specific song playing, yet that's not the focus. it's sort of like mentioning a certain character is wearing a red obey shirt. it doesn't really matter if you know what the brand obey is. all that matters is that it's a red shirt. it's a detail, but it's not necessary. however, if the reader does know the brand, then hopefully it will give an added benefit to their experience. same way with listing a song. ultimately, it would be kind of cool if the reader went and sought those songs out.

so far, i have manged several dozen pages without any dialogue and it reads great i think. a lot of this second half of the book is based on some of the roadtrips that i have done. a lot of it is a mediation on travelling in general, and how seeing one's own country for the first time can be quite an eye opening experience. there is one particular sequence taken from my last trip across canada that involves the time my friends and i were trying to find a campsite late at night, somewhere in ontario. we were on a dirt road and we couldn't see a single thing. suddenly, a small orange pylon appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the road. we decided to drive on the left side of it, and it turned out to be the fortunate choice, because as we went around, we noticed that on the right side of the pylon, there was no road. the whole right side had crumbled away leaving a wide, gaping cliff. needless to say, it was a bit harrowing. here's an actual picture of the road from inside the car just minutes before we saw the pylon. as you can tell, we couldn't see anything. you can click on the picture for a better look, but it doesn't illuminate much:

the following are a couple musical exerpts from the book. they're not in any particular sequence, but the randomness of it is sort of the point, and i think it still fits together. (these are just first drafts. i haven't even done a spellcheck on them yet). the songs i have chosen here are just songs that i have either a) listened to on a roadtrip or b) was listening to while i was writing the scene.

- - -

The great lakes are big. This is an understatement. John had never realized just how large these lakes actually were. They seem to be as large as the prairies are flat; Just kilometres and kilometres of shoreline, with everything seeming so calm on the surface, with a whole world thriving underneath. It’s amazing how nothing seems real until you see it for yourself. Pictures or photos or images on a television screen… nothing does justice until you’ve witnessed it with your own eyes. Birth doesn’t happened with eyes wide open, but John can’t help but wonder if people ever open their eyes. Do they ever really see what they’re looking at? Is that even a lake out there, or is it fleeting? Is it really an old memory that will soon evaporate into a dust bowl? Is there time to say goodbye? Wave goodbye to the nice lake, John. Wave goodbye.

And it took 28 years to notice this. To see this. To open his eyes to this. Sometimes the distance between time and life can be cruel. How did he go so long without realizing the greatness of these lakes? It’s even in their goddamned names. It’s funny, but most people believe their lives are going nowhere when in reality the truth is colder and harsher than that. The truth is, most people live their lives at the speed of light. Blink. And it’s over.

John turns from the lake shimmering in the rearview mirror to Elton, who’s noticeably shivering next to him. His got his arms folded across his chest, his hands tucked into his armpits. It’s actually quite warm out, with even the wind wisp of burning warmth to it. He says something to himself and takes off his sunglasses before putting them back on. It’s at that moment that John wishes he could do something for him. Anything. If only. But he buries it, like he’s buried other feelings of helplessness. The time will come, he knew. And so he focuses on the beauty of the world as The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Weight of the World chimes on the radio.

- - -

Off the beaten path. In the middle of nowhere. On the road to nowhere. It’s actually quite frightening how much the darkness can swallow up. Without even the starlight, the dirt road before them seems to lead right to absolutely nowhere. The headlights shoot out several feet only to be taken in by the vacancy. There are particles of dirt floating in front of the headlights and every once in a while a large insect would fly out from nowhere, only to disappear into the blackness. It’s almost like they’re driving right into a black hole that’s swallowing them whole. Deepthroat. And the road seems to narrow, with the sides of the forest closing in on them. The branches are now scratching along the sides of the car, smacking their leaves up against the windows.

Elton glances at John but doesn’t say anything. This is John’s trek. His voyage. It’s dangerous to have expectations. Especially great expectations. So Elton leans back and listens to the Nick Drake’s Horn which rings out hollow one guitar instrumental tunes. You wouldn’t think that anything could get accomplished in the blackness, but there’s a sign up ahead. Not a sign, but a small orange pylon with reflective tape that acts as a sign that gets closer and closer until John slows the car down and in the split second, decides to go to the left side, rather than the right of the pylon.

As they pull up slowly to the left side of the marker, Elton rolls down the window and puts his head out, feeling nothing but deep air and emptiness. It is then that he notices the road has disappeared. They stop the car. Elton opens the door and puts a foot out tentatively but there is no ground where there should be ground. He takes the flashlight that John hands him and peers over the side with it. The light reveals the crumbled road, or what’s left of it. The whole right half of the road, the side where the pylon was acting as a divider, had completely crumbled and broken away so that there was nothing but a gaping cliff. That’s when the howling comes in; not from any animal, but from through the trees. From the wind. Like an abyss.

rocky balboa: it ain't over 'til it's over

does the world need another rocky movie? i think so. i think i am the only one in the world excited to see this movie. there's just something so great in the piles and piles of cheeze that rocky represents, that i just love. rocky is forever an underdog story, even when he's the champ, which is what i think makes it so great. that, and the song eye of the tiger.

so what's the new movie about? who cares. all you have to know is that there will be a montage sequence, 14 rounds of rocky getting hit with hundreds of punches that no human being could possibly survive, and dramatic moments where sylvester stallone mangles the english language. that's ten bucks well spent.

the following are two clips, the first is the trailer from the next and final rocky movie, out this christmas, and the second clip is of the training montage from rocky III. the best part of this training montage, is that it is completely unedited, the way it appears in the actual movie.

i believe the training montage was perfected in rocky III, although rocky IV had a pretty sweet training montage too. I mean, c'mon, he was fighting the commies. notice the sweaty, homoerotic embrace at the end of the clip as apollo and rocky prance in the ocean, with rocky raising his fist in triumph. genius.


the iraq study group: the new dream team

the iraq study group headed by james a. baker III have released their recommendations on the quagmire that is the iraq war, the most divisive military conflict since vietnam. the recommendations are actually quite blunt and refreshingly embedded in logic and reason, something that seems to have escaped the administration over the past few years. the report doesn't call for the foolish outright immediate withdrawal that some democrats have been proposing, nor does it support the ludicrous stay-the-course mantra that president george w. bush has been repeatedly cheerleading for. instead, the report calls for a dramatic change of direction that follows a timeline based on several different factors, and argues for the slow and gradual withdrawal of troops over the next fifteen months.

the highlights as taken from an article from the new york times:

- a call for direct negotiations with syria and iran and a clear declaration that the united states would reduce its support to iraq unless that weak and divided government makes “substantial progress” on reconciliation and security in coming months.

- while americans will be in iraq for years to come, the iraqis must understand that the american military commitment is not “open ended.” it is time, the panel said, to “begin to move its combat forces out of iraq responsibly.”

- the commission also abandoned the definition of “victory in iraq” that president bush laid out as his own strategy a year ago, and its report did not embrace the white house’s early aspiration that iraq might be transformed into a democracy at any time in the near future.

- their findings left washington awash in speculation over whether mr. bush, who thanked the members for their work and, in a private meeting, did nothing to push back against their findings, would embark on a huge reversal in policy. to do so would represent a admission that three and a half years of strategy had failed, and that mr. bush’s repeated assurances to the american people that “absolutely, we’re winning” were based more on optimism than realism.

- mr. bush can easily embrace some of the findings, including a call for a five-fold increase in embedded american trainers in the iraqi forces, which the panel said should happen down to the level of companies of iraqi military.

- the commission’s report included blistering critiques of current policy. it said that intelligence agencies had far too few people working on the causes of insurgency. it noted that the total cost of the iraq invasion and its aftermath could be “as high as $2 trillion,” or 20 times higher than some bush administration estimates in 2003.

- it proposed the creation of an Iraq support group of neighboring nations, including iran and syria. but it left unclear how those countries would be persuaded to be helpful.

and finally, here is a quick rundown of the members of the iraq study group, which is composed of both democrats and republicans. the study group is bipartisan and united in its recommendations. the new american dream team, if you will. just click on the jpeg for a larger view.

what barry says: the neocons

here's a great little video by the knife-party.net. it's a quick few minutes that sums up the neocon agenda. it's an older video, and while still relevant, things have changed a little (not much, but a little bit) in the united states political landscape, what with the end to the republican revolution and the end to cowboy diplomacy.

however, i think the graphics are pretty, so that's usually enough for me to post something on this silly blog.


george w. bush: american idol

ever wonder what president george w. bush would sound like singing john lennon's "imagine?" or how about lou reed's "walk on the wildside?" well, here you have them both in a mash-up mix thanks to www.thepartyparty.com.

i don't know about you, but i know who my american idol is!


the united nations: staff sex crimes

united nations secretary general, kofi annan recently addressed the unsettling occurance of sex crimes by a select few united nations staff. these crimes are being committed not only by some u.n. staff, but also by some non-governmental organization members.

annan repeated that "no one in the u.n. is above the law." there has been a "zero tolerance" policy in effect ever since allegations of u.n. peecekeepers in the congo surfaced.

just to note, the work that the u.n. does around the world is priceless, and the actions of a select few deviants hopefully won't deminish such efforts. we shall see how strict the u.n. is on this and how far they go to prosecute those who are basically the worst kind of predators: those that use opportunity and position to exploit people who are in need.

i also realize there has been a lot of debate for the last 10 years (actually, more than that) as to whether the united nations is still relevant or just a relic from the past, unable to affect any sort of change in the world. yes, they have some collosal failures on record (eg: Rwanda, soon to be Darfur, etc) but sadly, it's the best we've got right now. there needs to be a major restructuring, because let's face it, sexual misconduct is the least of the u.n.'s worries at this point. not to trivialize sex crimes, because they are some of the worst types of crime out there, but the u.n. is in serious need of rebuilding and commitment.

here's the article:

Sex crimes by staff 'overshadow' good work: UN chief
CBC News

Sexual exploitation by some UN workers is "utterly immoral" and "completely at odds" with the organization's mission, Secretary General Kofi Annan said at the start of a conference aimed at ending the crimes.

Annan made the comments in an opening address at the UN High Level Conference on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and NGO Personnel. The conference in New York drew officials from the UN department of peacekeeping operations, UN agencies, member states, troop-contributing countries and non-governmental organizations.

Annan said one act of sexual exploitation committed by a UN staff member was one too many.
"Even if it is only a few who take advantage of our positions of relative power in the countries where we operate, it is a few too many," Annan said.

"Our behaviour should be something that others can emulate and be judged against."
The officials were discussing ways to address acts such as sexual assaults, rapes, human trafficking and sex with adult prostitutes by UN staff. These include allegations of sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in such countries as Congo, Liberia and Haiti.

Since 2004, the United Nations has investigated 319 cases of sexual exploitation involving some UN staff. The investigations have led to the summary dismissal of 18 civilians and the repatriation on disciplinary grounds of 17 police and 144 military staff.

Most UN staff 'upstanding,' Annan says

Such acts do not reflect the "upstanding behaviour" of most UN staff and the uniformed personnel who serve alongside them, Annan said.

"Throughout the world and in difficult and dangerous conditions, these courageous men and women make invaluable contributions to our work for peace and human dignity," he said.

"It is tragic and intolerable that those contributions are undermined by the small number of individuals among them who have engaged in acts of sexual exploitation and abuse.

"Such acts violate the trust and respect placed in us by the communities we are sent to help. They cause great harm to women and children who already face extreme hardship and violations in their daily lives. And they overshadow in the eyes of the public our many achievements."

Already raised standards, cracked down

Three years ago, after officials from the UN and non-governmental organization worked on the issue, Annan issued a bulletin entitled "Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse."

UN member states recently adopted standards set out in the bulletin, which spells out prohibited sexual conduct, explains the duties of individual and managers, and applies to all UN staff, including those in uniform.

Annan said the UN has made progress in implementing the bulletin, including by handling allegations of sexual exploitation more professionally, firing staff if they are found guilty, and sending uniformed staff home and barring them from future peacekeeping service.

'We have really only begun': Annan

However, the secretary general said the world body still needs a UN-wide strategy to implement the bulletin."

Today our personnel are better informed about what is expected of them," he said. But there still exists in some member countries a climate where victims do not feel free to come forward to report such acts, he added.

"We have really only begun. My message of zero tolerance has still not got through to all of those who need to hear it, from managers and commanders on the ground to all our other personnel," he said.

Annan said he has put together a draft policy statement and comprehensive strategy for victims of sexual exploitation by UN staff to be discussed by member states. Annan said victims, and the children born of such acts, need assistance.

"No one in the UN is above the law," he said.

In September 2005, Annan set up a group of legal experts to examine how to strengthen the accountability of UN staff and related personnel, such as UN police officers and military observers, who commit crimes while serving in UN peacekeeping missions.

The group has issued its report, which includes a proposal for an international convention on the matter. He said he wanted that report to be discussed at the conference as well.

As well, after allegations surfaced about UN peacekeepers in the Congo, the UN's peacekeeping operations department tightened its procedures and put investigators in place to enforce its "zero tolerance" policy.



heroes redux

there is currently no show on television as good as heroes. period. the writing on the show is amazing. heroes has everything, from action to serious drama to humor to tragedy... it has it all.

the great thing about the writers of heroes, is that they know how to tell a story. they know how to keep the suspense, yet give you enough answers to keep you engrossed, awaiting the next big twist or surprise. does it get convoluted? sure, at times, but it gives you enough answers to satisfy. unlike another genre show that will remain un-named. (cough, cough! lost! cough, cough!)

there have been eleven episodes to date, and the show just keeps getting better and better. the characters are compelling, with each hero starting out from the most benign and ordinary of origins, to become something more, something special. and that's the beauty of the show. it taps into the desire in all of us, the belief that we were meant for something more than being ordinary. that we aren't insignificant, and we can affect change. do good.

or evil. the villains on heroes are equally, if not more interesting. they're not the black and white, cartoony villains one is used to in regular comics. they have some real depth to them, with one who seems truly evil, yet deep down inside only wants to save his daughter. and another, who is a serial muderer with the power to move objects at will. he began as a young man afraid of insignificance, just like many of the good guys. some of whom are colored by tragedy in their own origins.

i thought the show was great when i saw the pilot episode. now i think it's the best written show on television. it's gaining lots of popularity, with one of its characters, a japanese office worker named hiro, who can bend space and time at will, becoming a sort of pop cultural icon in the short three months the show has been on air.

the most recent episode, which involved the origin story of one of the main villains on the show, had me completely rivited. i cannot remember the last time i watched a television show that made me yell out and gasp at the screen.

do yourself a favor and watch the show. it's good for you. trust me.

heroes promo.


two nations under god

if you can feel something in the air, if you can hear something off in the distance, if you come across something that you can't quite put a finger on, it's because history has been written, fundamentally changing the symbolic face of canada.

quebecois is now a nation within canada. symbolically speaking, that is.

prime minister stephen harper introduced the surprise "symbolic" motion on november 22nd in a bid to up the ante on a bloc quebecois motion that sought to declare quebecers as a nation without reference to canada. the motion passed with majority support from all four parties in parliament.

the immediate fallout of this is the resignation of michael chong from the tory cabinet as minister of intergovernmental affairs. chong disagreed with the government's position, and so resigned so he could abstain from voting. when asked about his decision, he replied, "to me, recognizing quebecers as a nation, even inside a united canada, implies the recognition of ethnicity, and i cannot support that." chong himself is the child of immigrants of different nationalities, who found each other in canada and had a family.

the longterm fallout is less certain. some say this will cut some of the leverage the bloc quebecois has with refards to another referendum. others say the wording is not specific enough, that it is too vague. just whom does 'quebecois' refer to? and if the quebecois can be a nation, why not the the first nations people (who arguably have more of a right to indigenous nationality than anyone else)? what about other ethnicities?

the result of all this makes some things very clear to me. 1) the fact that he did not even discuss this with chong, whose portfolio is in direct line with such a motion, before he went public with it, just shows that harper is acting as a one man operation. instead of discussing this topic with the one minister who would be dealing directly with this, he chose to go outside the party and to a different politician who served as the minister of that portfolio in the previous liberal government. this also shows to me that harper, once again, isn't thinking things through. he did this as a kneejerk reaction to the bloc motion, and the consequences of this may be more than what he bargained for. at this point, no one knows who quebecois refers to, and judging from the confusion after the vote, my guess is that not even harper has a clear idea.

2) i was always uneasy with the idea of quebecois being given nation status. chong is right: it implies the recognition of an ethnicity. i would add futher to that statement by saying it implies recognition of an ethnicity above and beyond any other ethnicity. in effect, it says that one ethnicity is better than another, and even though harper still says it is only symbolic, they're still words and i find that once thoughts become word, they become entrenched ideas and these ideas, which are meant to only be symbols, have a nasty way of becoming beliefs, and beliefs tend to divide people, usually for the worse.

3) while i am against putting one ethnicity above another, i am also a realist, and the debate of nationality has been going on for a long time. while i don't think by any mile that this will be the end of the sovereignty debate, i do believe something had to be done, and a compromise had to be made. so if quebecois is to be a nation, at least let it be within a united canada. the last thing i want to see is my country being cut in two. we, or at least my generation has been living for a long time under the shadow of sovereignty, and we'd gotten used to the idea of quebec being different, as the first nations people are different. and because we've been told over and over again that quebecois are different, would it really hurt that much to just say they're a nation? i realize that compromise is what lets people move on, and if this is the first step, then let's see where it leads us. who knows what the consequences will be, because at this point, this motion has passed.

i honestly don't know how to feel about this at this point. it is just too fresh. all i know is that i want a united canada, for every citizen to be considered equal. this motion doesn't do that. but if the alternative means continued aggressive fighting about the topic of sovereignty, and a possible break up of canada... then it may be the way to go. perhaps this is the way it has to be: that in order to get true compromise, one side had to tip its hand first. i don't know. the lesser of two evils? we'll have to see i guess.

all i am certain of, at this point, is that i have much respect for michael chong. whether you agree with him is besides the point. he made a decision based on his principles and you have to respect him for that. at least someone in harper's cabinet has some backbone.

(source 1) (source 2)


ode to vancouver: my city

i never realized just how important a location was for a writer until just recently. i never realized how much strength one can gain from connecting with where one lives, drawing stories from the life blood that pumps through the veins of a city. for me, that city is vancouver.

vancouver doesn't get the respect it deserves as a world class city. it gets panned mostly because of how much it rains here, but the reality is that the rain is only bad during the winter. every other season, vancouver is the same as anywhere else. yes, it rains for weeks on end sometimes during the winter, but that's just the way it goes. instead of snow, we get rain. but like any other city, the summers can be amazing. when you have the hot sun beating down with the cool breeze that comes off the water... there's no better feeling.

another myth is that vancouver doesn't have a nightlife. it may not have the kind of nightlife that a city like montreal has, but there is one; you just have to know where to look. i've wandered all over the city during the night, sometimes travelling across massive lengths of it for hours at a time. i know where to get the best burger in town, where to get the best pint of guiness, where to go if you're looking to lounge, where to go if you just want to play some pool, or where to go if you want a quiet stretch of beach to yourself so you can have a bonfire with friends. these things i sort of discovered as i wandered through the city over the years.

and the more time i spend here, the more i appreciate it. i realize now that i am a city writer. everything i write about, the types of characters, the dramatic situations... it all gets inspiration from the city. i have evolved into a better writer because i've been drawing from the city, using the energy of it, to write my books. vancouver has played prominently in my last book and i would go so far as to say that it is the main player in my current one, giants.

i love this city. i love the mild winters and the hot summers. i love the cobblestones of gastown. i love the mountains. i love granville island. i love the university of british columbia, a virtual self-contained town within the city. i love the girls that inhabit this city. (yes, even the kits girls who make a point of telling you they only eat organic food and sometimes wear way too much make-up and basically drive me nuts). i love that you can smoke pot and not be thrown in jail because the police have better things to do. i love the beaches. i love how accessible the transit system is. i love the bridges. i even love the building in the middle of downtown vancouver that looks like a giant bic lighter. i love the sea breeze. i love the politics. i love how empty the streets are at four in the morning; how you can sometimes feel like the last living soul in the city. i love how you can walk down the street and have a virtual tour of world cuisine. i love how it smells after a hard rain.

vancouver gives my writing soul. without this city, my writing, is nothing. and there's nothing worse than soul-less writing. this is my city. i own it.

here, is a paragraph from giants. it is a description of an empty downtown core after some violent political attacks:

- - -

Extraordinary. Inspirational is one way of putting it. The downtown core is completely empty, with the posh stores on Robson Street shut down, their designer clothes blocked away behind barred up windows. No more street peddlers hanging out in front of the art gallery, no more suits, no more artisans, no more fake girls with their pressed on nails and extensions looking for the next best deal for stuff they don’t need. Necessity is a very short list. Life, blood, won’t be grown from a designer’s sketchbook.

The city.
A virtual ghost town with glass and concrete towers that house nothing but mass numbers of computers on empty desks in vacant cubicles in sterile, barren offices. X infinity. Office towers are replicas of vacancy. Replicas, which spire up into the sky, towering above the nothingness of the streets. This emptiness, this vacuousness, extends all through the downtown core, from the beaches of English bay through the office towers to the stark silence of Victory Square to the hardcore east side where even the homeless have taken shelter from the political storms. Stoic, stillness, withdrawn, cagey: all the adjectives in the world. The only movement is from the changing patterns of the traffic lights. Does red, yellow and green lose their meaning when there’s no one to obey? The lights keep shifting, on time, every time, oblivious when the end is fucking nigh. The openness of the city, from the mountains to the shiny steel towers, display a vastness filled with paranoia and guilt and fear. Emptiness, in the streets, is a visual marvel. A vision so clear, you could write songs about it.

- - -

and to finish off my ode to vancouver, here is a great video i found. it is a timelapse piece that shows how beautiful vancouver can be.


lunar park

lunar park, the latest novel from bret easton ellis, is part autobiography, part domestic drama, and part ghost story. it's all of these things, and somehow manages to strike a nice balance between the three, never letting one part dominate the other two.

the book is very schizophrenic, with two separate voices seemingly at work. there's ellis the writer, and ellis the character, and somewhere out there in the vast space, time continuum, there's ellis the person. at times, the three blend together so seemlessly, you don't know where the reality ends and the fiction begins.

certainly, ellis is sort of indluging in his own notoreity here - or what is percieved to be his notoreity. accusations of living the lifestyle he condemns in his early books (i.e.: vacant, drug addicted lifestyles) has sort of dogged ellis all his career, and here, he seems to fully embrace it, whether it is true or not. everything from the drugs to the alcohol to the bisexuality. but that's really only the first part. the book is much more than that.

here, ellis has created an alterego for himself. ellis the character is now a family man, having given up his previous bachelor lifestyle for a life in the suburbs, living with his moviestar wife and trying desperately to be a father to his biological son, and to a lesser extent, the step-daughter.

the book, at its core, is about fathers and sons, and the havoc that fathers can wreak on their impressionable sons. certainly, any man that has had conflict with their fathers (which seems to be more and more these days), will understand just how damaging a father's actions can be. and sometimes, their influence lasts beyond the grave, which is what is occuring in lunar park. ellis, the character, finds himself becoming more and more like his father, all the while trying to keep some sort of connection with a son he never saw grow up.

and then there's the murders. someone, or something, is pretending to be patrick bateman, the notorious narrator of american psycho. here, ellis also plays into the fuss that was american psycho, which was panned before it was even published, by critics and feminists, who called it misogynistic. the ultimate irony being the book's transformation into a movie of the same name, this time adapted and directed by a woman, who subsequently made it a feminist movie. while ellis is trying to cling to a real family life, patrick bateman is murdering people, and no one knows why or how this is happening. and did i mention there was a ghost?

all this is weaved together into a fairly seamless book. i must say i admired the attempt more than the execution. that being said, this is the first readable ellis book to come out in a long time. i felt that american psycho was tedious and boring (despite the graphic sex/murder scenes that caused so much commotion in the press) and could have used several rewrites, and probably could have had its length cut by 2/3rds. then came glamorama, and i just couldn't care about fashion models that turn into terrorists. that being said, i've loved his earlier works, and i still count less than zero in my top five books of all time. i still think less than zero, more than his other works, still has relevance today.

all in all, his books are very hit and miss to me. with lunar park, i'd say it was a hit. not a very palpable hit, mind you, but it was worth reading, and i did quite enjoy a lot of it. (did you like that shakespeare nod? or how about the startrek one before about the space-time continuum? only on this blog will you find such geek popculture and old school literature in one!)

surprisingly, it is the first book of his where there are actual "innocents" and you end up feeling bad for some of the characters, especially the children. ellis really works hard to make ellis, the character, sympathetic, and to a certain extent, he succeeds.

ellis has attempted to make a very multilayered book, which is a first for him. usually his books are pretty simple. a whole lot of surface, with not much else. which is part of the point with his books. but with lunar park, he attempts at various levels of depths. the depths may be shallow, but at least he's got layers of it this time.



the democrats have won the midterm elections, and there's a lot to be done, both domestically and internationally. one of the biggest domestic issues, i believe, as an outsider looking in, is the case for impeaching the president of the united states, george w. bush.

now i don't know if any impeachment effort will be successful, but the attempt has to be made. the reasons should be obvious. the most obvious, being iraq. whether the current administartion knowingly lied, or at best ommitted certain bits of information to convince the american people to accept the logic for going to war is still in question. but the reality is, you have a country which is no longer a country. iraq is breaking down into civil war, with most of the combatants being foreigners (both u.s. and "enemy combatants") and you have hundreds of soldiers and iraqi civilians dying every month. and why? because the president lied? beause halliburton needed a better financial quarter?

what president bush has done with iraq is at worst, criminal, and at best, a fraud. if bill clinton could be impeached for lying about getting a blowjob, surely president bush can be impeached for lying and starting a phony war that has, to date, resulted in the deaths of thousands of america's troops and innocent iraqi civilians.

what an impeachment, or at least an attempt at impeachment will do is to show that somewhere in america, there is at least a group of people who are serious about what this current president has done in the last six years, and that they don't agree with it. that they don't agree with abandoning the geneva conventions, or the legalization of torture, or the iraq war, or the abandonment of americans when they are in need (i.e.: katrina).

even if the impeachment is unsuccessful, it will show that a president, now matter what situation the country finds itself in, is not god. that the president may have all these powers, but he (or she) will have to think twice before using them, or abusing them, because the threat of impeachment is there. impeachment is the greatest defence the repubic has against an unlawful president.

i know i sound like a broken record, because i've been posting about impeachment for some time now, but i cannot stress it enough. a democratic win in the midterms is not enough. an attempt at impeachment will leave in historical record proof that the american people do not abide by what bush has done. because without it, it is an acceptance of the loss of habeas corpus. an acceptance of the iraq war. an acceptance of this president's policies. after all, as edmund burke once said, all that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.

in the end, there at least has to be an attempt. americans need to try. whether that is enough to salvage a battered and bruised national psyche and gain back international respect is unknown. but at least it's a start.



***SPOILERS*** the following is an entry regarding movies david fincher has made and the upcoming zodiac film. it involves spoilers about fincher's seven, the background to the zodiac film. DO NOT READ if you haven't seen seven, or don't know about the zodiac killings. you can just scroll to the bottom and watch the zodiac trailer which is spoiler free.

david fincher is finally back with another movie, and it's about time too. he's directed a few movies, the best of which are seven and fightclub. he is one of the few directors to successfully move from directing music videos to movies. what makes him successful is that unlike many music video directors, who are all style but lack substance, fincher not only has a style of his own, one that has been copied repeatedly by others since seven debuted, but he's got a real depth to him. that depth comes in understanding story structure and knowing what works and what doesn't in a script.

it's now known that before seven was made, he got a copy of the "head in the box" script and thought it was great. but when he agreed to do it, he was told he was given the wrong script and there were numerous rewrites, the last of which was your typical cop/thriller genre. what made seven so great was the last half an hour of the movie. the first 2/3rds is your typical cop/thriller genre, which is just overdone, overplayed, and flat out boring. but the movie's genius lies in the last third, where the killer actually gives himself up, and you're left wondering what is going to happen next? then it had the ultimate ending, which was completely shocking and appropriate, which is why the film stands out as a masterpiece and people remember it as "the head in the box movie."

fincher knew that, and he fought for the ending. what occurred was a compromise, with the studio insisting on a voiceover add-on to the end of the movie, instead of the ultimate shock ending he had planned, which involved the movie ending with brad pitt's character shooting the killer, then fading to black. as it stands, this movie rates right up there with the ending to the very unsettling dutch abduction film, spoorloos (which was subsequently made into a shitty american remake called the vanishing) and the 1980's music video-excess cop film, to live and die in l.a. (both of those movies have endings so amazing and appropriate, that it would be wrong of me to reveal them even in a spoiler page - and that's the key to a good ending. it has to be appropriate to the rest of the story. otherwise, a shock ending just for the sake of having one is definitely not cool).

so fincher knows how to make great films (seven, fightclub). he also knows how to make okay films (the game) and crappy ones as well (panic room). this brings us to zodiac. the latest movie by fincher, which is, funny enough, another serial killer movie. but knowing fincher, this movie won't be your generic serial killer film. it already has a great premise, because it is about the zodiac killer.
in the late 1960's and 70's, a killer roamed the san francisco bay area, taunting police with letters and cryptic messages. his victims seemed random, and the "cryptograms" he sent were always mysterious. so much so that three out of the four cryptic messages have yet to be solved. what makes this really interesting, is that the san francisco police department officially closed the case in april 2004 even though the killer's identity remained unknown.
the following is the trailer to fincher's zodiac. i don't know how i feel about the movie just from seeing the trailer, but my first impression is that it's definitely going to be interesting. too bad it's not out until 2007.



gi-ant [jahy-uhnt]

- noun

1) (in folklore) a being with human form but superhuman sized, strength, etc.

2) a person or thing of usually great size, power, importance, etc.; major figure; legend; a giant in their field; an intellectual giant.

- adjective

3) usually large, great, or strong; gigantic; huge.

4) greater or more eminent than others.

i've been working on my latest novel for a while now. i started it back in november of 2005. it has been a year now and the book has taken me longer than i thought possible. it has changed more than any other book i've ever written. the jury is still out on whether it has changed for the better. all i know is that i was forcing one kind of book, when something completely different was lying in wait, ready to come out, but until now i was unable to recognize it.

well, the new, and final incarnation of the book is called giants. i am about 70% through and hopefully won't be much longer. this book has been a challenge for me, with so much happening to my personal life this past year (and amazingly, so little at the same time).

in writing this book, through the ups and downs of this year, i realized many things. i realized i don't want to self-publish this book or any other book for that matter until i give it another shot at the mainstream. the reason being, i have not sent out a book to any agent or publisher since my first novel, if only. the reaction to that one was so negative and so utterly failed, and the rejection hurt so much, that it cowed me into not releasing anything to any agent since then. it's been almost 8 years.

i realize that i've been afraid to just put my money where my mouth is. i've been afraid of being irrelavant. i've been afraid of genuine criticism. it's all well and good to have your friends read your stuff, but it's just not the same. i realized that by being afraid, i have inadvertantly made myself irrelavant, the very thing i feared the most. how's that for irony?

part of this fear comes from the delusions of grandeur i had growing up.
in highschool, i wrote a heck of a lot, and one day my english teacher took me aside and said, point blank, "you are a writer. you should write." he had such a high impression of me and my writing. so this, naturally, blew my ego up larger than i could handle. what also didn't help was my creative writing teacher suggesting one time that i plagerized my stories, as if he couldn't believe i could write like that. so at this point, i felt like i could do anything.

then i read less than zero, the first novel by bret easton ellis, who had it published when he was still in college. he went on to become a huge name in the late 1980's as a result of this. so i thought i would be a literary phenomenon like him - a canuck version. then comes reality and the failure of if only, which to be fair, was a piece of shit. but i didn't know it at the time. and this seemingly destroyed my confidence in my writing. after a while, i didn't even bother to keep all the rejection notices because they just kept piling up. (i also didn't know that ellis wrote three unpublished books before less than zero, so there's something to think about).

i admired ellis because of his style and ability, but also because his book effected people. which is what i wanted my writing to do. to this day, less than zero - while i still love the book - has been a bit of an albatross for me, but it's time to be realistic about things which brings me to the next point.

i realize now that i have to make a stand. and giants will be my stand. i will start looking for agents and publishers once again, no matter how hurtful the rejection may be. self publishing isn't for me. i want to be published to see my books in all the major book chains and if i don't get that, i'd rather burn my manuscripts than see them manifest in any other form. i'm like the captain going down with the ship. at this point, my feeling is, "so fucking what?" so that means this is hardcore and any other books i've written previous to giants won't see daylight. what does this mean for conquered nation press? well, i still have the trademark, so the company can wait. i'll put it on the backburner.

giants will be the first book where i try to accomplish something. there is a line i wrote in the book that sums it all up. it goes: "at some point, you have to learn to live your life with teeth." simply put, that sums up giants. my characters are making a stand and in a sense, so am i. giants is not perfect by any means, but it is close enough. close enough that i have enough courage to try again. i've written so many books now (the hypocrite's maddening (i was 17 when i wrote that and huge into the band tool, so sue me), if only, zero sum, desert sessions: an anti-corporate love story, this is hardcore, and now giants) and my writing has only gotten stronger with each one. i also just don't care what people think anymore. what happens when i get rejected? i'll move on. i'll write another, and another, and another until something happens or i die. whichever comes first. eventually i have to stick my neck out again. whether i get my head cut off still remains to be seen.

so enough with the rant. what's the book about? well, giants is ultimately about what one human life is worth. it is based on the october crisis involving the flq (front de liberation du quebec) in canada in the 1970's that saw a rampage of terrorist acts that culminated in over 200 violent acts, bombs, three killings, and the use of the war measure's act by prime minister pierre trudeau. i don't want to reveal too much, but it follows two men as they try to figure out what is important in a time filled with violence. it takes into consideration the idea of torture weighed against human rights and the loss of habeas corpus. but ultimately, it's a book that details how these two men chose to accept their fates, and what happens when they ultimately try to answer the question: how much is your life worth?

the book is clearly marked in two halves. the first deals with political savagery. the second half deals the choices people make. the second part is very quiet and moody, with little to no dialogue. basically it's an attempt to show a difference between talking the talk, and walking the walk. and speaking of walking the walk, here's a couple pages from giants. (keep in mind, this is a very rough copy of a first draft that is yet to be completed.)

exerpt 1: the scene starts off at a wake during the festival of lights in vancouver. now, if you've never been to the festival of lights, it's sort of boring and useless, but everyone in vancouver participates because there really is nothing better to do. it's just an international fireworks show.

* * *

Keith speaks to the angels. And Elton doesn’t feel as guilty as everyone else does or thinks he should. Looking down at the casket, and the body of the man before him, he realizes that he never knew him too well. Nor did he bother to ever try. White. Corpse. Dead to life. Elton momentarily ponders reaching out and touching Keith’s face. Would it be cold? Do they keep the bodies under heat lamps like they do burgers? Of course not. That would smell. That’s a nice suit he’s wearing. He reaches down to check the label. Double twill. Durable. Should last for years even when he’s being served up to a chorus of worms. Detritus. Does Armani matter to worms?

Next to him, Sean is leaning into the casket to kiss the corpse on the forehead. The other night, she had said, was just a one time thing to get past the pain. Simple. The night after that, she had said, was going to be the final time. To get past the loneliness. And last night, she had said, was the absolute last time. Absolutely. And it’s not his fault, he figures. Too many times will make you blind.

She sniffs and scrubs away the tears with the back of her hand and mumbles how sorry she is. Keith was pompous, fake, and an evil sycophantic fuck; but she’s the one apologizing. Just because she used to fuck him doesn’t mean she owes him anything. And this makes Elton guilty.

Guilty, because while she’s crying, all he can think about is how good it was to fuck her. How good she looks in that slender, black Versace one-piece. How good it was to feel her moan beneath him. Almost like she meant it. Guilty. As sin.

And speaking of knowing, of belief in someone; Elton doesn’t know Sean very well. Almost not at all. The girl has heart. The girl hates street lights. The girl hates doctors. The girl is a brain trust. And she can suck dick better than anyone else he’s ever known. Vacuum. Beyond that, there’s nothing.

The wake is almost over. People have said their wishes. People have come and gone. Addition/subtraction. And in the room, amongst the empty plastic fold-up seats, beneath the dim lights, Elton watches John watching Sean. And there’s that guilt again. But only briefly. Like a quick pang to the heart. Flinch. Eyelid twitch. And all the while, Sean keeps her distance. From both of them. Like she’s acting out a restraining order. No closer than fifty feet. She really does look good in that dress. And he definitely feels it. Guilty. As sin.

- - -

From the inside, out, Elton watches the fireworks explode in reflections against the tinted windows. Dilluted. Dull. The festival of lights that happens every summer. Exploding pyro technics outside. Bursts of intense energy. But it’s the burning inside that surprises. That astonishes. Incendiary. The intense heat that comes from the death of Keith. On the inside. Astonishing grief. And Elton watches the fire fight explode into sparkling, sizzling flecks of rain that just comes down, seemingly over the whole city. There’s another explosion and another pop, set to the sounds of U2. The razzle dazzle of the fireworks, the bursts of energy, light up the whole night. As if God himself poured light into each cylinder of gun powder. And beside him, John comes up and leans against the glass sliding door, taking in the cascading waterfall of fireworks.

- I saw a woman standing on the Lions Gate Bridge today, Elton says.

- Yeah?

- She’d been standing out there for half an hour. Completely stopped traffic in both directions. People were delayed. People were angry. Because it was one giant inconvenience. It’s like, if she was going to kill herself, why couldn’t she just do it at home? Elton turns to John as more fireworks go off, reflected in the glass. Take some pills, use a razor, get a gun. Most people don’t have guns, but then, Curt Kobain sang he didn’t have a gun and look what happened to him. But it’s not glorious enough, it’s not a spectacle. You had a bridge closed down with crowds of people milling about, trying to get a better look in a sea of cars like some sort of R.E.M. video. This woman wasn’t going to jump and everyone knew it. ‘Cause if she was going to she would have done it by then. He looks back out onto the fireworks and out onto English Bay. So some moron, some de-evolved degenerate in the crowd started chanting, “Jump bitch, jump!” And the pack of wolves start taking up the chant. Jump bitch, jump. Mob stupidity is as infectious as laughter. Or S.A.R.S. And it’s then I got angry. Do you know why I got angry? He doesn’t wait for an answer. Because I wanted to see blood. I wanted this to be done by. I wanted all this non-stop bullshit posturing to just… rot. Away. So I started chanting too. Jump bitch, jump.

- That’s fucked up.

- Yeah. Elton laughs and turns to John. It’s fucked up.

- Live fast, die young, leave a fuckable corpse.

- The thing is, John… I started to puke. Right then and there in the middle of the street. I just felt it coming. I vomited. Gobs of it all over the street. And it’s like, what is she to me? He starts laughing again. The sound of his laughter, at the wake, reverberates.

- I don’t know. Keep moving, I guess. Hail to the morning.

- It’s crazy, John. I keep seeing her freefalling, arms outstretched… skirt billowing back with her hair whipping violently… only to splash down. A wet smack.

- Fuck me.

- Yeah. Fuck me. Elton scratches his chin and says: There’s revolution in the air, John.

- Yeah? What’s it smell like?

- - -

Against the crowd, against the rush, they push on. Oversized, overwhelmed, they push on. Elton, leading the way, parting the crowd like a shark’s fin parts the sea. In tow, holding onto his hand, is Nevada. Nevada with her big eyes. Nevada with her big smile. And yes, Nevada with her big breasts. Trapped in the confines of a vintage brown dress. And John brings up the rear, holding onto a giggling Nevada’s free hand.

Leading the train, linked like chains, they make their way through the thick crowds that mob Robson street. Fresh from the fireworks on English Bay, the mob lurches forward three steps and back one. Like the rolling sea. And there is no harbour from the tempest here. A man in a pizza delivery car sits idle in the middle of the street, unable to move; an island. Drunk people, teetering and tottering, unable to find their land legs. Bodies, hundreds of them. Quite possibly thousands. Throngs of them, pushing and pulling against each other: desperately wanting to get out. Freedom. And it’s no surprise that Elton wonders aloud: Where’s Moses when you fucking need him? Nevada, lit up amongst the bright neon lights of Robson Street, says something and laughs, but it’s drowned out by the crowd. Everything is drowned out, swallowed up. It’s the tragedy of the mob.

- - -

Inside the Zin lounge, everything is a posh orange and black, with red and orange circles emblazoned on the walls. Some indecernable music is playing in the background. Maybe New Order. Maybe not. In the darkness of the booth, Nevada with her headlights looks spectacular. She’s buzzing about, almost enough to make everyone forget that they just came from a wake. She’s sipping from her martini when she mentions something about Denis, some guy they’re all supposed to know.

- He died last week too.

- Really? John shakes his head.

- Yup. Found his body with the head missing behind Feenie’s.

- Jesus.

- True story. They cut his head off with a sarated kitchen knife. Fucking Ginsu, baby. His sister is freaked that his head will appear on her doorstep one day. They say you can keep a head frozen for like years. Elton laughs at this.

- Jesus.

- Happened last night. Dick and I ate there last night too. Imagine that, huh?

- Jesus.

- Copasetic, huh? Nevada giggles and cups John’s face in her hands and mentions how he shouldn’t be so aghast. It gives you wrinkles, baby.

- - -

Nevada is still buzzing about late into the night. The lounge has swelled up with patrons, pretty people with pretty things, all drinking and petting each other. She’s talking to Jasper, arguing with him really. Elton and John came to sit down at the table with their drinks when Jas suddenly shouts above the music, point an accusatory finger at Nevada:

- Stay away from that. She’s the enemy. Really!

- You gaysians are so fucking dramatic! Nevada shoot back.

- I’m serious, John. You never know what you’re gonna get with women. The witch, the bitch, the bride of fucking Frankenstein… beware of dog, my friend.

- You were raised by wolves, Nevada says.

- My parents were saints.

- Definitely a rare breed of repressed, bitter fuck.

- Are those real? Jas points at her breasts.

- Why don’t you act your age?

- Why don’t you act your weight?

- Fuck this. You guys can suck each other off. Nevada slams her drink down and leaves the table. Elton looks at Jas and says:

- I think you hurt her feelings.

- Whatever. Trash talk is like foreplay to her. Hey, speaking of foreplay, how’s your serenading of Sean going, John?

- It’s going. John smirks.

- It’s going?

- Oh, it’s going.

- I bet you can’t wait to give her the Dirty Sanchez, huh?

- Shut the fuck up. It’s not like that with her.

- Ah, stuffed animals and cuddles, huh?

- It’s not like that either.

- You have to remember: she’s gotta give you something. That’s all I’m saying. Jas leans in his seat and sucks back his scotch. You know, what you should really tell her is that she’s going to let you fuck her, and then you’re going to do whatever you want after that and she’s gonna have to like it. That’ll fuck her up right straight.

- Don’t worry. She’s gonna love me.

Elton says with a smirk: You think?

- Oh… she’s gonna love me. She’s gonna L-U-V me.

* * *

exerpt 2: from the second half of the book, a typical on the road theme but with a music-video touch. hopefully you can feel the similarity to the style of writing to the first section, but also the difference in tone and style in this second section.

* * *

Pointalism. Art in life. It’s hard to miss. They follow the point, the red blinking light in the far off distance. Their northern star. The distance of the landscape is dizzying and sleep inducing. John yawns yearningly and leans back in the seat. Elton sticks his bare foot out of the window to rest on the sideview mirror. The wind whips against his pant leg. He rubs his arms. Trying to feel his bones. He runs his fingers down over the cast on his arm. Rolled up bails of hay and grass decorate the sidelines. Somewhere there is the faint wafting smell of manure and rust. Wreckage is the theme of the drive as farmland turns to graveyard. Rusted out trucks and cars in primary colors seem welded, embedded into the rolling plains. Art as design as constructed into a vehicle only to return as garbage and in kind, become art once more. And so ahead towards the red point, the blinking light off in the distance, a modern day pointalism. To the end, it signals. Towards the end. It’s where Elton’s mind is at and where John needs to get to. Elton puts on his sunglasses and bows his head. The image of him touching his brow gets reflected back in the sideview mirror that his foot rests by.

- - -

Salt. Piles of it, all plastered over the field by the side of the road. Chalky white, almost like snow. Or cocaine. Just looking at it makes John thirsty. He nudges Elton with his hand and points out to the white winter wonderland spectacle. It’s a wonder as to who spread it out there. Like fluffing icing sugar over everything. Elton is tough to read. So selfish in the expressions on his face, or the lack there of.

They pull over on the side of the road to take a piss. Side by side, the sun in their eyes, they piss even and steady streams onto the salt, letting the hot urine melt a hole in the salty topsoil. John dribbles the last of the piss and shakes off his penis before tucking it back into his pants. He heads back to the car, the salt beneath his feet crunching. He looks back briefly at Elton who’s still finishing up, looking much like a man out on a floating ice cap. Elton heads back only to pause and bend down to grab a pinch of salt between his fingertips. He brings it to his mouth, tasting the chemical burn mixed in with flecks of dirt.

* * *