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.

* * *


all the king's horses and all the king's men...

supporting cast: bush 41's national-security team, in 1991. from far left, scowcroft, gates, cheney, quayle, baker, bush and powell.

the democrats took the house and the senate, which means they have control of congress. the president can still set the agenda, but nothing will get done without the democrats. Soon after the political “thumping” by the democrats, george w. bush had announced that secretary of defense donald rumsfeld was resigning, to be replaced by robert m. gates. bush also announced the desire to work with the iraq study group, a commission on iraq chaired by james a. baker III.

for years bush has been avoiding accepting advice or turning to his father, the 41st president of the united states, george herbert walker bush. it seems that now, finally, he is turning to his father, or at least his father’s old guard, to help him get out of the mess that is iraq, the mess that he created, a mess that his father was too smart to get entangled in. the significance of this is not lost to the media. newsweek is reporting in its latest issue what is deemed as a big bite of humble pie, a sort of political “father knows best.”

george bush sr. is a smart man who had smart people around him. smart enough to know that going into baghdad was not feasible, that it would be a colossal mistake, given the age old rivalries along ethnic and religious lines. saddam, as awful as he was, seemed to have some sort of control of the place, and it was more about the devil you know then the devil you don’t, which is one of the reasons why saddam was never taken out when the united states had the chance back during the gulf war.

the newsweek piece is very interesting, because it touches on the bush clan and how they work, both politically and as a family unit, and while there is yet no direct proof of bush sr. making direct moves to help his son, there is enough speculation to show that in some respect, bush jr. is in need of help, and his father’s old team, lead by james baker, is stepping in to rescue him.

some highlights of two of the articles:

on the bush political family dynasty:

- It is an irony of history, and the tragedy of the Bush family saga, that President Bush has all along had the best and the brightest just a phone call away. His father is a deeply seasoned and wise foreign-policy expert. Had, say, Sen. John McCain been elected, Bush 41 would have been jetting around the globe helping to resolve conflicts. Instead, aside from some tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief work, Bush Senior has been relegated to watching all those political talk shows his son refuses to watch, wincing each time he hears his son's name being mocked or criticized. George H.W. Bush has been, in effect, sidelined by nepotism. He has repeatedly told close friends that he does not believe it is appropriate or wise to second-guess his son, or even offer advice beyond loving support.

on james baker who chairs the iraq study group, and who is also suspected of having a hand in the changing of donald rumsfeld for robert m. gates:

- ...it would be widely speculated that Baker was somehow in on the secret, that he helped arrange the firing of Rumsfeld and the appointment of Gates as part of a fundamental power shift, a last-ditch rescue operation—by the old guard of Bush 41 to save Bush 43 from sinking ever deeper into the Iraq morass.

- It's not even clear that Baker ("Bakes," to Bush 41) and Bush (el jefe, to Baker) spoke to each other about the Rumsfeld-Gates switch. Baker's relationship with the Bush family is close but rivalrous, and it has endured jealousies and suspicions… Baker has, on occasion, wondered why he wasn't the one elected president. Barbara Bush was widely reported to be miffed at Baker for not trying hard enough to get her husband re-elected in 1992.

- George W., who sometimes reflects his mother's resentments, did not call on Baker for advice when he was preparing for his presidential run. "That was okay with me," writes Baker, who nonetheless answered the call when George W. needed a good lawyer to take on the Florida voting fiasco in 2000. Baker's cleverness and diligence for the Bush clan in its hour of need were possibly decisive. But make no mistake: Baker is no mere lawyer for the Bushes. Trying to describe Baker's role and his true allegiances in the Iraq Study Group, the former Baker aide quotes Justice Louis Brandeis, who once said that in certain cases the lawyer has a responsibility to represent the situation, not the client. In this case, the situation is the national interest in getting a solution to the Iraq mess—not protecting the president or the Bush family. "It so happens that this also serves Baker's interests," says the aide. As his memoir makes clear, Baker cares deeply about being remembered as a statesman, not a pol or a hired gun.

on the iraq study group trying to find solutions to iraq:

- For the Iraq Study Group, he (baker) has reached out to Iranian, Syrian and Saudi diplomats; he has traveled to Iraq and met with local civilian and military leaders, and he has stroked the large and sometimes fractious egos of his own commissioners.

- The commissioners are just now receiving a draft of the recommendations. The contents are a closely guarded secret, but the commission is certain to call for some kind of diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors, reversing the Bush administration refusal to negotiate with enemies like Iran and Syria. "There are going to be some things in this report that the administration is not going to be excited about," says Baker, choosing his words carefully. There may also be some kind of call for a troop drawdown or redeployment, though Baker says he is very reluctant to dictate to the U.S. military

- ...the Iraq Study Group must find a middle way, a plan of action that can be characterized neither as "cut and run" nor "stay the course." Judging by the election returns and the exit polls, it's what the people want—along with an end to rancorous partisan squabbling and ideological posturing. But getting a plan—and carrying it out—will be difficult to achieve.

on robert m. gates, rumsfeld’s replacement:

- Within two hours the president was in the Oval Office with Rumsfeld and his replacement: Robert M. Gates, Bush Senior's CIA director and the president of Texas A&M University, the home of Bush 41's presidential library.

finally, on bush sr. directly helping his son:

- In Houston the phones started ringing, and Bush 41 staffers were pulled away from their pizza. Reporters were calling and e-mailing: would 41 talk about 43's shake-up? The answer was no, though two perfunctory statements were issued (one for the College Station Eagle and one, as the former president put it, "for everybody else"). Still, the reality spoke for itself. Dad's team was back—a remarkable course correction in the political life of the son and, quite possibly, in the life of the nation.

- A source who declined to be identified discussing presidential confidences told NEWSWEEK that Bush 41 left "fingerprints" on the Rumsfeld-Gates decision, though the father's exact role remains shrouded in speculation. "This would have been done by nuance and indirection. Forty-one would have said to 43, 'One of the people who I've been talking to who might be helpful is Bob Gates'," said a veteran of previous GOP administrations who declined to be identified talking about the Bush family. A onetime director of the CIA and loyal member of Skull and Bones, his Yale secret society, Bush "is a master of deniability," says an old aide to Jim Baker, who asked for deniability while discussing Bush.

all in all, very interesting i would say. probably the best read to come out since the midterm elections. you can find the sources here (source 1) and here (source 2). regardless of whether bush sr. had anything to do with the switch up, it is a good sign and there’s hope that the united states won’t be staying the course. now whether they can put humpty dumpty back together again is yet to be seen. at least the next two years should be really interesting.

to top it off, here’s stephen colbert’s take on the whole “father knows best” scenario:

good ol' rummy

ah rummy... where has the time gone? six years? has it really been six years? here's just a funny little clip from the late show with craig ferguson poking some fun at how cute former secretary of defence donald rumsfeld can be.



some minor cosmetic changes to report. i have switched over to beta.blogger and it makes blogging a little more fool proof.

most of the changes are more internal, to do with the posting and template process, which basically makes it so that html is pointless for the most part. the major visual changes to the blog are:

- wider blogging body so there's not as much wasted space in the margins.
- archiving is set to cascade, and therefore easier to navigate.
- i was going to change the background of the blog, give it a black look, but i realized how suffocating it seemed. i figure keeping it white and clean helps give the view that it's open, while giving the maximum amount of information as possible.
- nifty picture header. it is a panoramic photo of the burrard street bridge in vancouver. it's my "hit and run" photo where if you look carefully, you'll see a crumpled version of me lying out on the road. hence, the hit and run motif that sort of represents my writing as well. (note of trivia: i almost got hit by a car trying to get that picture. lying out in the middle of the road in order to get the picture took ten seconds. ten seconds, i found out, feels like an eternity when you're playing chicken with a car. definitely not recommended. they say you get wiser as you get older. apparently not so true.)

the downsides:
- not as advanced or as intuitive as i would like. wordpress.org still has a lot of better functions. since google ownes blogger, and since they have a tendancy to try innovative things, i was hoping for something better. but i guess this will suffice for now.
- haloscan comment system doesn't seem to work for this beta version. hopefully in time haloscan will adapt to this. until then, we'll have to keep the current comment system. and somehow, although i know not how, i deleted all the previous comments by mistake.

while still on the note of change, there will be some major changes to my writing strategies which i will report in full in my next post.

farewell douche bags

as everyone now knows, the republican party lost control of congress. the political graveyard is starting to fill up with their corrupt and bloated bodies. here, bill maher makes a fitting tribute to the dearly departed. farewell, douche bags.


the morning after

you wake up in the morning, and you're a bit groggy. you don't exactly know what you did the night before because you were really drunk and at a certain point you blacked out. but you awake in the morning, head pounding, cautiously fearful that you may have done something wrong, but you're not sure. then you turn over and you see someone new lying in bed next to you. you start to panic a bit. who the heck is that? please don't let her be ugly, you think. then she slowly turns over and your heart jumps because she's who you wanted it to be. she's that hot chick from the bar that you saw and didn't think you had a chance with. but there she is, next to you, and it's better than you had hoped, because she remembers your name and wants another go at it. that's what the democrats must be feeling this morning after the election.

the democrats, and the world, awoke to a vastly changed political landscape in the united states. it appears the voters have voted with their hearts and minds as they drove the bums out of office. similar to the style of voting that went on during the last canadian election, where people voted as a reaction to the corruption and arrogance of the liberal party that had ruled for too long, the republican revolution has come to an end.

as of this morning, the democrats have won the house, and they are inches away from taking the senate as well, as they lead narrowly in two very hotly contested races in virginia and montana. the democrats may not necessarily win the senate when the votes are finally tallied, but they have another victory, in the form of the resignation of one donald rumsfeld.

donald rumsfeld, one of the architechs of the iraq war, who foolishly favored technology over troop deployment, who favored telling jokes instead of seriously addressing the needs of soldiers, who stubbornly held to his plan when it was clear it wan't working, at the cost of more american lives, has stepped down.

what this election shows is that people have had it with the republican abuse of power and general incompetence of the presidency. cases in point: 1) the president squandered the momentum of 9/11 when the whole world was behind the americans, willing to do what the americans wanted out of sympathy for what was a savage and brutal attack on u.s. home soil against three thousand innocents. the president squandered this good will, this global unity not seen since the creation of the united nations, by shunning the international community through their cowboy diplomacy. george w. bush had the chance to be a great president. to do some good in the world for the international community as well as his own people. instead, he messed it up as he would mess up everything else in the years to come.

2) iraq war: the iraq war was not a key battleground in the war on terror, but this administration has now made it one. a bogus war was created on bogus rational (remember those weapons of mass destruction? there weren't any. and we knew this because the united nations inspectors said so). and for what? to avenge a father's legacy? for the lucrative oil contracts? for the billions of dollars that it would create for war profiteering in general? the iraq war diverted much needed funds for the war in afghanistan, where the real battle against al-qaeda and terrorists was and still is. the iraq war also diverted attention and funds from domestic needs, which brings us to the next point.

3) "george bush doesn't care about black people." rapper kanye west said this during a live benefit for the victims of huricane katrina. this may or may not be true, and it just may be the ramblings of an emotional artist who himself is characterised as ego-centric and arrogant beyond belief. but the fact remains that this administration screwed up with katrina, and a year later, things aren't much better. the government is supposed to help you in times like this, not hurt you further. how can the bush administration protect america from enemies of the state, when it has become one itself through its own incompetence?

4) illegal wire tapping, the loss of habeas corpus, and the introduction of torture into the american every-day psyche. america has completely lost the right to call itself a haven for freedom and democracy. as bill maher once put it, america has become a south american junta, where people can now be dragged off the streets with no legal means to protect themselves or to prove their innocence against charges of terrorism.

5) the republican moral quagmire. you have so many republicans now being brought down on charges of corruption or sexual immorality, that it's starting to become a running joke. from people like jack abramoff to foley, the political graveyard is slowly being littered with the careers of formerly moral holier than thou political figures. if all of this corruption says anything, it's this: perhaps the republicans should talk less about other people's morality, and start looking inward at their own. people in glass houses, as they say, shouldn't throw stones.

once the dust is all settled and the political corpses are cleared, it seems the democrats will be hitting the ground running. house minority leader nancy pelosi, a congresswoman from the san francisco area, is set to become the new speaker and the highest-ranking elected woman in u.s. history. she has a six-point plan to lay before congress in its first week on the job in january that will see the introduction of a tough new anti-lobbying law, as well as proposals to raise the minimum wage, boost homeland security spending (including new border arrangements), introduce a variety of alternative fuel measures and reverse education cuts.

all in all, democrats now have an opportunity to really rein in the president and put him in his place, which hopefully, will be one that is more reasonable, and boxed in for the remaining two years of his presidency. this man has done so much damage to americans, and to the world, that he must be controlled. and hopefuly this election will also show that the american people have a second chance to get back what they've lost, which are the core values that used to make america so great. if they are really serious about regaining their dignity, dare i say it, the impeachment case has to be brought forward. but even if the democrats win both houses, i doubt this will be the case. it will probably be just enough to make sure that bush and his cronies will end their political careers with a whimper and not a bang.

(source 1) (source 2) (source 3)


it appears that the democrats have won the montana seat, and they are also declaring victory in virginia as well (although a recount is likely due to the very slim leading margin - approx 8000 votes, with 99 percent of precints reporting in).

(source 4)

***update 2***

the associated press is reporting that the democrats will take virginia, and as a result, will take the senate as well as the house. truly, this has been a political "thumping." now that the democrats have the house and the senate, all that remains is what they do with their newfound power. they'd better not screw it up.

(source 5)

***update 3***

rumsfeld acknowledged that progress in iraq has not been going "well enough or fast enough." no, rumsfeld, you are wrong again. reconstruction takes time, and people realize this. it's not about going fast enough, it's about the complete lack of a reconstruction plan for "phase two." it's about incompetence. it's about your administration not giving the troops the propper support they need, and letting the war profiteers take advantage of the situation. face it: you had no real concrete plan from the beginning.

(source 6)

rev. ted haggard vs himself

reverend ted haggard resigned last week as president of the national association of evangelicals, a block representing 30 million members. in the past, haggard had been demonizing homosexuality in washington and in his sermons, really taking it upon himself to help push hatred towards homosexuals. this, coming from a man who is supposed to teach tolerance and compassion. haggard resigned after a male prostitute said he had drug-fuelled homosexual trysts with him.

it just keeps getting better and better. haggard said he was just getting a massage, and that he did buy the methamphetamines, but never used them and just threw them away. this is, of course, the lamest excuse. it's like eddie murphy not knowing the prostitute in his car was a transvestite. haggard is yet another right wing political figure (and he is a political figure, just as much as he is a religious one) whose closet has effectively been cleaned out.

haggard is a gay basher. through and through. and now that he's been outed, it's hilarious, because his downfall is so deserved. not because he's gay, but because he spent so much of his time looking to politically enshrine his hatred of homosexuals, which as it turns out, really was the most intense of personal fears. fear of his true self, his homosexuality that he could not escape. the fact that god, his god, made him that way, and that he could not reconcile his true self with what he was taught to believe, is actually a plight that faces millions of people every day.

i have no sympathy for haggard, because what he's done over the years, has directly effected millions of people in the most negative of ways. there are teenagers right now whose lives are miserable because of the politics that haggard chose to play.

is it just me, or is being preached to by intolerant hypocrites getting old really fast? here's a sermon to all the holier than thou hypocrites: shut the fuck up.

of course, i'm not the only one that thinks this is hilarious. check out jon stewart's take on the whole issue:



strombo vs. lapham

the hour recently showcased an interview with lewis h. lapham, editor of harper's magazine. now i have been impressed with the caliber of interviews george stroumboulopoulus has been able to churn out over the years, but recently, the interviews haven't been up to snuff. (eg: the interview with the killers was just plain bad. but this may not be necessarily a reflection on george but more on the fact that a band like the killers has absolutely nothing to say beyond pimping their own music.) this past monday, however, he managed to snag lewis lapham, which i thought was a real coup d' etat. lapham is a smart man that has been a vocal opponent of the iraq war and the bush administration. this is a man unafraid to ask the tough questions, to speak out when necessary. he's speaking from a country whose freedoms are being whittled away every day, which makes his questions, his speaking out, more important now than ever.

lapham makes the case for the impeachment of george w. bush. he makes the case that the iraq war could be considered a criminal charge. that even if impeachment doesn't happen, the questions should be brought forward and an attempt has to be made. (if clinton could get impeached for lying about sex with monica, surely bush can be impeached for lying about the war and general incompetence.)

an exerpt of lapham's essay for impeachment was published in harper's last march and you can read it by clicking here. the coming november mid-term elections will, in a sense, be a referendum on george w. bush's time in office. as lapham says in the interview, the mid-term elections can be a way for the american people to show that they've had enough with the lying, stealing and general abuse of power. the republicans have been in power way too long. it's time to throw the bums out.

here is the strombo interview. lapham clearly has a lot to say. watch, and bathe in the wisdom that is lapham.

and just for laughs, here's the david letterman / bill o'reilly interview that strombo aludes to in the lapham interview. o'reilly, who keeps lecturing letterman on how complicated the world is, ends up simplifying the issues himself by asking the stupid question, "do you want the united states to win in iraq?" these are the single-answer, caveman questions that people like o'reilly love to pose to anyone who disagrees with their world viewpoint. by asking this, by taking such a complicated issue and simplifying it into a yes or no question is a trap. the truth is, as lepham points out, there is no winning in iraq. whether you want america to win or not is besides the point.