sense of loss

ernest hemingway shot himself in the head. many writers end their lives in dramatic ways, usually by drinking themselves to death. sometimes i think i am not fortunate because i don't have such ailments. although, i can identify with people's helplessness sometimes, being slaves to depression or inaction.

two days ago i blew my knee out. i don't think anything is broken or torn, but i definitely screwed it up. i have never felt so helpless in my entire life. making lunch is now a chore. i'll be fine in a week or two, but i couldn't help but get hit by a wave of helplessness, and a stark realization that loneliness is predatory, and knows the exact time to strike.

at any rate, this feeling is now creeping into
cooler than the millions. there is a disconnect that is showing between the characters as i plot out the story in my head. a disconnect where one character is starting to become literally invisible, while another desperately tries to save himself, and a third is losing what little humanity he has left. the ideas are getting intense and the characters are really starting to shape up, and for the first time, i believe i have a female lead character who is more than one dimensional. i am whole-heartedly invested in this plot, which is exciting and scary at the same time. and for the first time, i'm not really basing any characters on any of my friends; i'm basing all these characters on myself, as sort of various shades of myself. getting sick or injured sucks, but at least it gives me a lot of time to think.

my writing has always been the strongest when i endure negative emotions, like anger or depression or regret. the good thing is that i never wallow too long in these emotional states, at least not long enough to drive me to shoot myself in the head. that, is obviously, a very good thing, because i have no intention of leaving this world any time soon. i mean, i want to be ernest hemingway - every writer secretly does - but i don't want to end up like him.


tolerance from intolerance

this is just a nice and sweet commentary from good old george from the hour on the cbc. just another example of music bringing the masses together.


mercenaries are nothing new. they've been around as long as there have been armies to fight or defect from. these days, mercs are quite prevelant, making quite a bit of money working for private security firms like blackwater in iraq, doing whatever they are paid to do. it can range from being hired out by humanitarian groups as protection, or by corporations to protect property, to pretty much everything in between.

these private security companies were having quite a bonanza in africa, protecting corporations and their diamond mines, and now they're having another field day in iraq, where a merc can be paid up to $600 usd a day. these companies and their mercs go where the money is, pure and simple. politics and humanitarian issues are secondary unless it becomes beneficial to dovetail their policies together.

these companies are often a legal nightmare. nobody regulates them, and they aren't considered legal combatants, so they can pretty much do what they want, so long as they they don't get caught or killed, and if that happens, they don't have a government to bail them out.

the following is a video that's been on the net for a while. it's been called a "trophy video" of some private contractors who are shooting at iraqi civilians, seemingly at will, all set to the music of elvis presley, an american pop cultural icon. just a warning, you may find this a bit disturbing and offensive. DO NOT WATCH if you are at all squeemish to violence.



you don't understand. you're gonna leave your life, or you're gonna leave the information in this room. - spartan.

here is a movie that defines its title. forget about character development, forget about side stories, forget about levety... this movie is simply about one thing: finding the girl. written by david mamet, spartan involves the search for the u.s. president's daughter. i don't want to say too much about the plot, except that val kilmer's character, scott, is a single minded individual, a self proclaimed "shooter, not a planner," who does nothing but follows orders and gets the job done. his idea of interrogation involves slamming a man against a wall, then asking, "where is the girl?" repeatedly like a broken record and then prompty breaking the interrogated man's arm before telling his partner to take his knife out and gouge out the man's eye.

the movie goes through bodies like changing socks, picking up characters and then discarding them whenever it is convenient to do so, all in the goal of finding the girl. the writing is tight, if just a tad bit robotic, but lively at the same time. the acting is good, and there's an urgency to the whole thing, because the girl needs to be found. you're not gonna see two people falling in love during the course of the investigation, you're not going to find the main character coming to terms with who he is, and you're definitely not going to get a touching sequence between father and son. what you are gonna get is some sharp writing, with a plot that moves along at a ferocious pace, opting to get to the next interrogation or next lead instead of stopping to smell the flowers. there's no time to rest here; the girl has to be found.

like lord of war,
spartan is a movie that i regret to say sort of fell under my radar when it first came out. yeah, i heard about it, and yeah, i saw the trailer, but i never bothered to see it until it came out on dvd when i was bored. at any rate, spartan was made with such great skill, and i was definitely impressed.


in the cross-fire

so tucker carlson thinks that canada is america's retarded cousin. that's fine. he thinks canadians are hostile to americans. that's not true. we just don't like their president, who by all rights, under the laws of his own land, should have been impeached by now for all the laws he's broken. (if bill clinton can get in trouble for getting head while on the job, surely bush should be nailed for sending america's sons and daughters to war on false pretenses and illegally wiretapping fellow american citizens, right?) tucker also thinks that we canadians believe that we are morally superior than the americans, and that the truth is, we are not at all. he's half right on that: we aren't morally superior, in fact, we can be just as bad sometimes, but we definitely don't go around thinking we are. that would be delusional and a waste of time. we're too busy being pissed off that our national hockey team lost to switzerland at the olympics. he also says that the united states thinks very little about canada. that much is true. but the reality is that the united states should think a heck of a lot more about canada.

there is this great big fat lie that's been floating around for the last fifty or so years, that says that canada needs the united states more than they need canada. the truth is, the united states needs us more than we need the united states. we are the united states' largest trading partner, and one of these major exports is oil. the united states imports more oil from canada than any other single country. then you also have the whole energy thing... the fresh water thing... you know... the essentials. you need these things to function in society, to live your every day life, or to even go to war. to be fair, the united states government is, and has always, kept a close eye on canada, because they know how valuable we are, which is why it is in their best interest to continue with this great big fat lie. i suppose part of this lie is furthered by our own sense of inadequacy for sure, but the united states needs us. they need our resources, they need our vast distances of land, they need our borders, and they need our friendship.

i wonder what would happen should the day come when canadians finally wake up and realize that we have everything we need to support ourselves, right in our own backyard. We have the resources, we have the skills, we have the work force, and we have the drive. What if we just started manufacturing our own goods instead of simply exporting raw materials and buying back the manufactured goods that were made from said raw materials?

i suppose this is just a dream, because there's still too much money in trading with the united states, and no canadian politician would be willing to take the hit for any possible short term economic devastation that would occur if we tried to change the system in any dramatic way. look, i'm not saying that we should cut ties with the united states or anything that silly. all i'm saying is that we don't have to believe the lie. at any rate, tucker carlson needs to just sit down and listen to someone else other than himself for once.

here's a clip of his appearance on the hour, a surprisingly intelligent and funny news magazine show on the cbc.



a while back, some cartoons of the prophet muhammed were published in denmark and in other european papers, which ended up offending the muslim world. i suppose "offending" is a little soft; more like "outraged," because the response to these cartoons was violent. islamic tradition bans depictions of the prophet, even respectful ones, on grounds that it could promote idolatry.
in recent weeks, publications in france, germany, netherlands, italy and spain have republished these cartoons in support of the danish press and the right to the freedom of the press. and now a canadian news magazine, western standard, has published these cartoons.
ezra levant of the western standard says they published the cartoons because they are "the central fact in the largest news story of the month." he goes on to say that "i'm doing something completely normal. i'm publishing the centre of a controversy. that's what news magazines do."
levant has gone on to criticize media in canada and the united states, saying that news outlets here aren't publishing them not out of respect for islam, but "out of fear." he says that the news outlets here, particularly the cbc, don't respect religion, but rather they're afraid of one religion. he's pointing to the fact that when items are published that offend christians, they resort to writing a letter to the editor; they don't resort to violence.
to be fair, most muslims don't resort to violence, and they don't promote it either. secondly, i must say, that the original publication of these cartoons, really do seem like a provaction, almost as if daring a hostile reaction, because some of them are pretty crude, bordering on vilification. the original publication of these cartoons and their intent could be called into question. that being said, i can see levant's point; the news is there to report, not to be "cowed into fear" as the publisher puts it. if the media didn't report certain things or publish certain items out of respect to the individuals or cultures or peoples involved, then nothing would get published. and from their perspective, out of simple news worthiness, i can understand their stand. there were violent riots because of these cartoons, so that makes the cartoons newsworthy as the source for the reaction.
i personally believe, that when it comes to freedom of the press and freedom of speach, nothing is sacred, and everything is game. that's why when a friend of mine sent me a petition to stop the release / boycott of the film on karla homolka (a serial killer) based on the please of the family, i did not sign it. it's not that i'm not sensitive to their feelings, it's just that i believe in the principles of freedom of speach and freedom of the press. regardless of whether it feels exploitative. it's not necessarily something i personally would write or publish, but i don't believe in banning or censoring anything. ever.
what i think is a major factor in this whole situation, is the fact that the west sees freedom of speach and freedom of the press differently than the islamic world. even the word "freedom" has different meanings within the seperate cultures. there, you can't draw the prophet, and you can't write a book like salman rushdie's satanic verses without retribution. here, you can write about jerry falwell having sex with his mother in an outhouse as larry flynt did in his porno magazine, hustler, and you can write a play about Jesus being a woman or gay or whatever.
i don't really agree with the original motivation for publishing these cartoons, but in the end, i'll defend western standard's right to publish the cartoons as news. i will also say that i do not agree with violence as a response, and while most muslims are just like you and me, these violent riots aren't helping beat down the stereotypes that the west has of islam. riots like these just help strengthen the arguements of those that claim that islam is an inherantly violent and vicious religion. the power really is in the hands of every day muslims to change this perception. while those with any real intelligence can see the peaceful aspects of islam, those that can't are many, and you probably can't ever change their opinions, but resorting to rioting isn't helping anything. i mean, as much of a nut i think jerry falwell is, at least he hasn't burnt down a building because someone made fun of jesus. although, the image of him leading a crusade against the studio that produces southpark is amusing. perhaps mel gibson could behead someone.

link: http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/02/13/cartoons060213.html


cooler than the millions

so i've been doing a lot of writing on my latest book, cooler than the millions. i haven't written any pages or anything, but i've been getting lots of ideas down on paper. mostly bits of dialogue here and there. also some brief scene descriptions. it really is quite a joy to see how everything is shaping up. the book has changed so much since i first started thinking about it. it's quite a surprise, seeing as how i've probably only written about five pages of actual writing in total. this is my favorite part of writing: the struggle. sure, it's frustrating, and sure it makes you pull your hair out, but when you get those ideas, those good ideas that slip through the cracks, it slowly becomes completely worth it, because those litle gems can give you so much pleasure. anyway, i have thought up the back cover synopsis. this, of course, is subject to change as the book evolves, but never-the-less here it is:

losing is easy. john has found that out. to lose yourself, to lose your beliefs, to lose your place… it’s easy. finding your way back is the hard part. especially when everyone seems to conspire against you, like your friends and neighbours… all of them your rivals. john is also finding this out.

and what happens when you actually lose someone important? like your girlfriend? if she were to just disapear one day? would you have it in yourself to find her? what is one life compared to all the others?

this is about the measure of a person’s worth. this is about growth. this is about identity. this is about pop orgies. this is about being cooler than the millions.


lord of war

i never sold to osama binladen. not on any moral grounds; back then, he was always bouncing cheques - lord of war.

this year was the year for political movies. it was as if hollywood had been sitting on a mountain of ideas and scripts that needed to be told, yet couldn't, out of fear of being labeled anti-american. the best of the bunch was
syriana, which i mentioned in a previous post. just as good is lord of war.

lord of war was a movie that didn't do well, that sort of was there and was gone, and that's all there was to it. i guess people couldn't figure out what it was, and neither could the movie's marketing team. was it a black comedy? was it a drama? was it a tell-all? i have a feeling that, like three kings, it would find some life on dvd. (three kings, by the way, was one of the best war films ever made. if you didn't know anything about the first gulf war, all you had to do was watch that film. problem was, people thought it was some sort of silly heist movie, which it sort of was, but it was marketed as simply a heist movie, which alienated the people that might have shelled out $10 to see it in the theater. the movie was funny, exciting, and incredibly smart in what it had to say about the gulf war).

lord of war is about gun running. it's about a man who sells weapons, small arms, to anyone willing to pay, because the profit margins are good, and business is always booming, because somewhere in the world, a war is being fought, and these people need weapons. the movie is silly in its own way. for instance, the movie spans about twenty years in the main character's life, but nicolas cage, nor the other actors for that matter, don't bother to try to age or look any different. but that's not the point. we're not talking about a coming of age story or anything; we're talking about weapons killing people, and those that sell them.'

the movie has its moments of genius, such as the opening sequence where it follows the life of a bullet on the assembly line, to its transport, to its destination at a war, and finally, to its final resting place, inside a man's head. consider another scene where nicolas cage witnesses the end of the cold war on the news and starts kissing the television, understanding that a world of opportunities has just opened up for him. or another scene where you get introducted to a batallion of child soldiers; too small to reach the pedals in a car, but big enough to accurately fire an ak-47.
lord of war is a movie where the makers know a heck of a lot about its subject matter, and it shows. it knows what damage these small arms could do; far more damage than nukes have ever done, and it knows the bigger picture of who sells them. that the lone gun runner is not the problem; it's the legitimate (mostly democratic) governments that are. this movie has got detail, and the details are interesting. there is an inherent bitterness to the whole thing, an cynical stance that if one person doesn't sell these weapons, someone else will; that even if there were no gun runners, no conventional weapons of mass destruction, people will still kill people one way or another.

there is also a short speach near the end of the movie, where nicolas cage talks about the necessity of gun runners, which compares to the corruption speach in syriana and the greed speach in wallstreet that is just horrifying in the truth of it all. along with syriana, it is the best movie of the year. too bad it couldn't find a larger audience.

i am hoping that the environment has changed enough so that more movies like this can come about. most people need to be told these things; most people don't have the time to go and do their own research, to sift through various news papers, to really dig down to get at the heart of the matter. people need movies like this that squeeze complicated issues down to their essence, and package the ideas into a two hour format. anyway, here is the
trailer. go out and rent it.


soundtrack to our lives...

whenever i write, i always listen to music. it's probably my number one inspiration during the actual process of writing. i like silence when i'm editing, but when i write, i like the music to be loud and quite excessive. writing cooler than the millions has been a real kick, just because i've been listening to lots of great music. i've listed some of the songs that i've been listening to. do yourselves a favour and click on the hyperlinks to enjoy. (WARNING: you may feel an inexplicable desire to put on your dancing shoes.) here's the soundtrack to cooler than the millions...

new order's "krafty"

arctic monkeys' "dancing shoes"

duran duran's, "ordinary world"

alexi murdoch's "orange sky"

joe cocker's "feelin' alright"

corey hart's "sunglasses at night"

the killers' "smile like you mean it"

interpol's "next exit"

bruce springsteen's "maria's bed"

the streets' "blinded by the lights"

iron and wine's "such great heights"

damien rice's "woman like a man"

death from above's "blood on our hands"