For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Aww, for me? You shouldn't have.

Today's my birthday. (Insert Uncle Luke classic here.)

And the GOP has given me the gift of Speaker Tom Delay stepping aside. (blush) Really, that's too extravagant.

But I'll take it. :)

And-and-and!! The Muppets have finally been put on stamps! Hurrah! And Beeker's there! ALL IS WELL IN THE WORLD.

My birthday consists of torrential rain, a quiet morning in, soon a pot of my favourite kind of coffee, a short day of work (4.5 hours), and a quiet evening in. Quiet is good this week. I've already had a few nights of birthdayish celebrations -- and there are a few more nights of it to come. Just not tonight. And that's peach frickin' keen with me.

Still, it does feel like a nice, special day, even though I need to ride through the shittiest weather in months to get to work today. Something about that makes me smile, though.

Perhaps all is well in the world, but I'm not well in the head? Let's hope. ;)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Photos I've taken In the Not-too-Distant Past

This photo was taken just a few days ago, at the trailhead off of Spanish Banks beach. It heads into the forest that surrounds the University of BC, home to crazy amounts of hiking/biking trails and the best beaches this city has to offer -- kilometres and kilometres of them.

This photo was taken on a lot soon to be home to one of Canada's wealthier people. Taken in West Vancouver, this photo's a pretty good example of why West Van (a city Northwest of Vancouver) is the wealthiest zipcode in Canada, our version of BelAir.

This is a parasailer off Spanish Banks Beach, across from the top photo of the trailhead. This city's an incredibly active place, with sports of all kinds happening everywhere the eye can see, but parasailing isn't something we see every day. I suspect it will be catching on. There were five guys doing it this day, a windy day last week.

The requisite artsy black-and-white shot. It's just a light on the ferry I rode to Gibsons last week.

This was taken a while ago, but I don't think I've ever posted it. I live off the Fraser River, BC's main tributary for barges. Standing on the Oak Street Bridge, it's always fun leaning over and watching the barges hauling dead trees destined for pulp mills. This was just snapped at a good time, and I love the geometrical look of it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not-so-Happy Hour

I was accused of being behind the times and less than bright for posting the link on Bush possibly drinking. Apparently that’s “a year old” and so on.

Apparently I’m “smarter than that” and “should prove it.” Thanks, Anonymous.

I just don’t have much to say. I’ve always assumed he’d buckle and drink again. I’m not surprised. I’m just sick and tired of the mainstream media not addressing it. It’s the elephant under the carpet, and no one’s making an issue of it. No one mainstream, that is.

That said, alcoholism is a horrible disease. It’s not worth chuckling about. I don’t want to crack funnies. It affects far too many lives in far too many ways for that kind of base commentary. Alcoholism’s a disease that impedes judgment and ability to function, this much is public knowledge.

How is it more important that Clinton gets a blowjob in the Oval Office, but a leader scarfing down beer and shooters at the ranch on any one of his 319 vacation days over the course of less than five years in office any less of a national crisis? I’d say more of a crisis.

I’d say that the number of dead in Iraq, the poor response in New Orleans, and the lack of accountability at the top makes this issue one that REALLY needs to be discussed. But where’s the fucking media?

I’ll tell you where. They’re hiding behind The Code. The media’s famous for its love of alcohol and indulging in vices. Whatever gets you through the night, baby, right? It’s a hard life, being the windsock of world events, reporting on the bad and the ugly, and sometimes hiding behind a bottle makes it all blur and become a little less bad.

It’s an unspoken rule. Well, actually, it was spoken of back when I did my journalism degree: There are things we don’t report. “We cut slack.”

If it’s a cocaine habit, it’s kept quiet for a while, but if it’s not addressed, then it gets mentioned. On page eight. A little booze, though, is all right. “Everybody’s doing it.”

It’s duplicitious. Maybe the alcohol’s not the reason why the USA’s going to hell in a handcart with this war and the poor disaster response. Maybe that’s just bad politics. But as far as I can see, America is a country in crisis, and now, more than ever, a leader is needed who is on the job 24/7.

Not one whose self-esteem is tanked as he is, in a vat of Jim Beam.

The people deserve to know. It’s a pity about The Code.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Is Bush drinking again? Looks that way to me. Man looks like shit of late, albeit a little tanned. A good series of questions are asked here.

A Dixie memory

A tribute to the city New Orleans once was, and everyone hopes will one day be again, has been run in the International Herald Tribute, a fine newspaper that prints a mix of the NY Times and its own correspondents, many of whom also write for powerhouse presses throughout the world.

The tribute is an excerpt from a collection of writings by singer/master songwriter Bob Dylan, and evokes the ethereal beauty of one of the most inspired towns this world's ever seen.

Go here to read it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Two-Fer

You remember when you were a kid, and you'd start being annoying, and your mother would turn around and snap at you, "Ooh... Don't you start with me!"

Well, we've got this store chain here in Canada, "Canadian Tire," and their new slogan (starting last year) is "I'll start with you." What the fuck is that supposed to mean anyhow?

Clearly I'm undereducated and just don't get the sheer brilliance of this slogan that they've paid sick amounts of money to an advertising house to conjure.

But just between you and me? There aren't many stores that are more annoying to shop in than Canadian Tire. Maybe that was the point?

Invitation: A spoken or written request for someone's presence or participation.
Once upon a world, people sent these little things out called "invitations." It would be the act of asking you to attend an event being hosted by those who sent the "invitation" out.

The invitation then would ask you to "RSVP." For those who missed the basic etiquette class, this means
répondez s'il vous plaît. In English, that means "answer the invite, fucker."

Seriously. What the hell happened to basic etiquette? Someone offers to have you in, to feed you, to wine you, dine you, and give you a warm, inviting place to be, you fucking have the decency to RESPOND, at the very least.

I'm having a party next weekend, and maybe I should've phone everyone to ensure they received their email invites, but I live in the real world and I work and have a lot of responsibilities. Email's more convenient, considering I'm putting myself out to open my home up to people.

Of those invited, one-third have had the decency to respond.

Know what the problem is? Everyone in North America is so fucking self-involved with their little lives that no one entertains at home anymore. To host a party, you virtually need to be born with a Martha Stewart gene. We live in a society where people just don't understand the concept of throwing dinner parties and entertaining friends.

The rest of the world? They get it. They understand that by entertaining at home you get to control the music volume. You get to establish a mood conducive to folks enjoying each others' company. You get to choose the exact food you want to eat, and control the costs much better. You don't need to worry about some dickhead waiter who smells a better, bigger tip at another table. You don't need to concern yourself with the ignorant fucking party of eight sitting two tables away, shouting at the top of their lungs because they think they're witty enough that the whole restaurant should hear them.

Some of us, like me, are born to entertain folks at home. I don't clear shit away for a dance party, but I do establish an environment that really invites great conversation and real camaraderie.

But every time shit like this goes down, fuckheads who don't have the decency to acknowledge the efforts I've gone through and will go through deserve a response, I get a little less interested in trying to accommodate people in my home.

The season for home entertaining is just getting started, and if you're one of these people who doesn't even bother to contact your hostess, then I have four words for you:

Smarten the fuck up.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Confessions of the Cableless

I have no cable. Normally, this grants me some kind of moral superiority when talking to others. They’ll be yammering on about the latest episode of Arrested Development and look to me for an opinion. “Sorry, I don’t have cable.”

Insert image of my being somehow too intellectual and worldly for some small matter like television.

The truth is, right now, it’s killing me. The new season of television lingers on the horizon, teasing and taunting me.

“Watch me. You know you want to. What are you really accomplishing, anyhow? You’re not writing. Your house is messy. You could be living the same way... but with me titillating you. Caaaable. You know you want me. You want me bad, baby. Prime-time wantage. And all you gots to do is ask. Ask.

And it’s so right. I want it. Bad. Worse than sex. Caaaaaaable. I wanna get Lost. I wanna see what’s the secret behind Kitchen Confidential. I wanna plant my fat ass on the couch and never, ever get up again.

I want the underwhelming experience of being sucked into the boob tube vortex. This holier -than-thou shit is boring the hell out of me. I want a cheap third act. A four-minute commercial break that puts the pressure on to not only MAKE toast, but butter it, too.

My god, the drama, the excitement. That’s what’s been missing this summer.

We like to think that without TV in our lives we somehow live better, more full existences, but the reality is, most of the time we’re so bought and sold by our jobs and obligations that a little television doesn’t really make much of a difference.

There’s a lot of shit on the tube, and that’s never going to change, but there’s better television being offered than ever before. Writers are actually writing stories. Sure, you can sit around and watch something socially unnecessary like The King of Queens, but you could also be watching something like last season’s gripping 24, which tackled a lot of really challenging social issues around race relations on this continent.

All I know is that it felt cooler not having cable in the summer, when there was nothing worth watching anyhow. Now that summer’s winding down, I’ve had to turn my pad’s heat on for the first time since spring, and the days are getting shorter, there’s something wistful about the notion of not being able to watch the telly... especially with all the good shit I’m hearing about that’s due to start over the next three or four weeks.

I’m torn between wanting to not be needing the added distraction, and knowing I want to be distracted more than I’ve wanted it in years.

I’m like a junkie. I want it. I need it. I’m fighting it with everything I got, but I know that high’s worth chasing. Besides... I’m missing out on conversations and feeling far too disconnected from this paltry little electronic world we live in.

Oh, fuck, wire me up. Please. I beg you, Mr. Cableman.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Holy obvious, Batman

What the hell? This is NEWS?

I'm watching the news and the "ticker" at the bottom ticks by with "New Orleans residents hope Rita passes them by." There's three precious seconds of my life I'll never have back.

No shit, Sherlock. A city decimated by a class four hurricane are "hoping" the oncoming class five hurricane passes them by. The only news there is the blatant understatement in the word "hoping." Try PRAYING, motherfuckers.

Then, get this: "Long lines of cars are heading out of coastal Texan towns as Hurricane Rita gains strength to become a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph (267 km/h). Texas Gov. Rick Perry says: "Now is the time to leave.""

The troubling part of speech is you can never have fine print. You can't add, in microscopic lettering, "Or, if you're poor, black, or too ill to be transported, now is the time to pray like there's no fucking tomorrow, you poor son of a bitch."

Of course, it IS an "act of God" to begin with, so, the praying thing's kind of pointless, too. It's probably a good time for boardgames, instead, like a game of Twister.

Pun not fully intended.

Quickies: A Two-fer

A moment of silence, if you will, for the passing of summer. Last night, I turned my heat on for the first time since March.

One of the nice things about writing in the winter is that there’s a wall heater under my desk and I can rest my toes on top for nice warm tootsies.

The air quality is back, thanks to the bog fire dwindling towards almost-out. I may have been a tad pissed in my last posting about the fire, and possibly a little dramatic about fires not getting undone in a bog. The reality is that fires are part of the bog’s lifecycle, but this bog’s one of the world’s biggest, and the fires have been increasing at an alarming, unhealthy rate, with just a few years spacing out each fire. Its urban location means it sees far too much use from the public, but it also means that the bog plays a fundamental role in the quality of air we breathe here in Vancouver. So, important, yes, but I may have overstated things in my heated moment.


Canada continues to kick ass. JD Fortune has been selected as the new frontman for INXS. A while back, I thought it’d turn out this way, but each of the performers had weak patches, and during JD’s, I wrote him off. Clearly I underestimated his resilience.

Last night he kicked ass on both his songs, You Can’t Always Get What You Want and What You Need, and then proceeded to look absolutely natural singing the new INXS single, Easy Easy.

JD’s an interesting national phenomena for Canada. He’s part of The New Breed of Canadians. We’re nice, but we won’t take your shit, and we won’t wait for seconds. I’m now designating our New Breed spokespersons as JD Fortune and Avril Lavigne.

Fuck Celine. We’re so beyond that. It’s a pity all y’all throughout the world tend to pick our most cliche exports as our pinnacles of entertainment.

Fact is, the American entertainment industry would come to a goddamned standstill if it wasn’t for the Canadian exports.

Hell, even the great “American Sweetheart” from the early days of Hollywood, Mary Pickford, was Canadian. We got you covered, folks.

I don’t even know where to begin with a list of who’s been a famous Canuck, but suffice to say, there’s an awful lot of Canadians out there. It baffles me, with such a small country population-wise, how we can be such a large number on the international scene. But hey, we’ll take it.

And the newest player is JD Fortune. I don’t know where that kid gets his incredible charisma from (the maple syrup, I’m betting), but Jesus, I think he’ll be a major player in the rock’n’roll world, and INXS is back from beyond the grave. This will be interesting to see if the dividends pay better for the Rockstar grads than the Idol grads, but I’m wagering it’s not even a competition.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tagged: Thus, the Cop-Out-of-a-Post List

I’m writing a piece about an amusing hostel stay once -- there have been many, I assure you. Fuck hotels. Hostels are where the experiences are.

But that post has been interrupted by Steve, at Everything Changed, so go tell him off. It’s his fault you have to read this. Not mine.

7 Things I plan to do before I die:

  1. Learn to surf in Morocco (looks like it’s on next September’s books, actually)
  2. Do a motorcycle tour of South America a la Che Guevara
  3. Live for a year in Ireland, probably County Donegal or the likes, and write
  4. Write a book
  5. Kayaking in Polynesia
  6. Fall madly in love, at least for awhile, and live off of lust and inspiration
  7. Sail the Yangtze/Yellow River, then go for a bike tour of Mongolia

(And thus ends the portion of the list that I enjoyed. Nonetheless...)

7 Things I cannot do:

  1. Ignore stupidity
  2. Anything double-jointed
  3. Put up with bullshit
  4. Keep my desk organized
  5. Go to church
  6. Watch a Star Trek Marathon -- any, ever: not happening
  7. Pretend to be cute and less intelligent just for the sake of boys’ egos

7 Things that attract me to the same or opposite sex:

  1. Smoldering eyes that sparkle during laughter
  2. Intelligence balanced with an easy-going nature
  3. Confidence and assertiveness
  4. Height and a big build
  5. Nice lips, strong hands, and a good package -- I’m allowed to be shallow, too, people
  6. Perception and heart
  7. The ability to make me giggle or laugh uncontrollably

7 Things I say most often:

  1. When asked “How are you?” I’ll most likely respond “Peachy” or “Ducky”
  2. “It is what it is”
  3. "Motherfucker"
  4. "For crying out loud"
  5. "Jumping jesus on a pogo stick"
  6. "Oh, for fuck’s sake"
  7. "Whatever gets you off"

7 Celebrity crushes:
(You know what? I don’t lust after celebs, but whatever.)

  1. Johnny Depp
  2. Matt Damon
  3. Jon Stewart
  4. Josh Hartnett
  5. The kid that plays Shawn in 4400 -- groan
  6. Also in the over-50? category, Ralph Fiennes
  7. Surfer Liard Hamilton

So, clearly, a very shallow list.

Now I’m supposed to name seven folks to do this. What? That’s whack. Honestly, I’m drawing a blank. Um, here goes nothing.

  1. Sarcastrix
  2. Leeloreya (she of no list-love)
  4. Grover Flanagan
  5. RukSak?

And I’ll leave it there. Thanks.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Quote of the Day

"Some people are like Slinkies:

They're not really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Babbling On a Friday Night

I’m getting overwhelmed with interest regarding my newest pursuit, teaching English as a Second Language.

I’ve been meeting with clients this week, getting a schedule worked out, and now I’m confident I’ll be able to be full-time self-employed within a month. How quickly a dime can spin, my friends.

I have a lot more incentive to work full-time for myself than I do for a company, and a lot more reward on both financial and emotional levels.

I wouldn’t call myself the most social person in the world, but I can work a room, man. I’m a big fan of isolating myself at times, like tonight. I’ve bought a nice bottle of wine, intend to make myself a decent meal, and plan to watch the last couple episodes in the first season of The Wire, before CBS’s new “Threshold” series premieres.

Back when I did have a job, I always enjoyed quiet Fridays in. I don’t understand this notion of having to party because you’re done with your work week. If that turns your crank, then so be it. This, this mellowness, is what turns mine.

But when I need to, baby, I can turn my personality up to nine.

This week, I’ve been turned right up every day, and now it looks like I’ve got a new career for awhile.

I think I sometimes forget what a cool thing teaching can be. There’s this real opportunity you’re given to play a role in the shaping of an individual. You think I’m overstating things? I don’t think so at all.

I’ve done this before. Back in the day, I had this 12-year-old Taiwanese kid I was teaching. I assigned him and his brother stories to write, and whenever we’d mark the stories, they’d get me to tell them what I might’ve done differently, plot-wise.

Within a few weeks of my taking these skeletal tales and twisting them into dramatic adventures, the boys began to get stoked about storytelling. Soon, I’d be receiving 6-10 page stories about dragons, aliens, or knights. The kids got so infected with the storytelling bug that even now, years after finishing up with them, I’m certain they’re still writing. And I caused that enthusiasm. That’s what true teaching is.

The other day, I met with this middle-aged woman from Singapore, consulting about the possibility of doing classes together. She’d brought this story outline for something she had to write for high school English, which she was being forced to complete in order to remain a teacher of Mandarin. I had a look at the outline and offered up a new point of view she might want to consider writing in. (From the POV of an object in her garden, essentially, in a story about her garden.) It wasn’t sheer brilliance, but I still managed to strike a chord in her.

It turns out that the woman is a painter, and a writer of Mandarin fine literature, and it’s been breaking her heart to not be able to express the things she feels in this language of her new home nation. She was frickin’ giddy when she left here. She’d blurted, “You’re so cool!” dozens of times as we discussed her story ideas, and each time I’d giggle. Not because I felt cool, but the idea of turning someone on and making them finally feel like they’re on track to expressing their artistic selves in a way that’s going to improve their quality of life in a new nation? Yeah, that’s pretty fucking cool.

But I’ve been lucky. All my jobs have had an edge of nobleness to them: bookseller, teacher, closed captioner (bringing entertainment to the hearing impaired), photography lab assistant professor, photo lab tech... I’ve always done things I could live with on every level, but I’d forgotten what it’s like when you get the chance to really improve people’s qualities of lives.

I may not be able to change the world, but I feel like I can change theirs, and that’s pretty fucking diggable.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Till her daddy took the T-bird away

If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to buy a new (ie: opposite of "classic") car tomorrow, my choices would be limited.

The Austin Mini Cooper: So goddamned cute it hurts. But then there's that whole "practicality thing. Cute, yes. Useful? Not so much. They're like those adorable shoes that do wonderful things for you at a party, but god help you when real life hits.

The Ford GT Deluxe Coupe: A good example of the right things Detroit's back to doing -- and all the wrong things it's still doing. The lines? They suggest beauty and sleakness. But then there's that whole "cookie-cutter" look of it. What, do they literally use a can opener to cut the sheet metal for that thing? What happened to the adjective sleek in Detroit? Come on, guys. You can do better. Nice start, but shit, you ain't even warm. Still, I'd love to hug some highway turns in that bad boy.

The Volkswagon Beetle: Aww. Cute. I once said I'd never buy a beetle 'cos I couldn't handle driving a car that was cuter than I was. That stands. Plus, ever seen one with a mountainbike attached? Yeah. There's that practicality thing again.

The Ford Thunderbird: Oh, fuck practicality. Baby blue, white leather interior, and you'll never get me out of the frickin' car.

There are dozens of other "new" cars I'd tolerate, but they all look the goddamned same, so nothing's coming to mind. These days, it's all performance... no substance. I don't like new cars.

I want an old car. I want a classic Mustang Shelby. I want classic Porsche Roadster. I want anything from the Fairlane to the El Camino, man.

Something with lines. Chrome. Sleek detailings. Something that says some kind of effort went into creating lines unlike the seen in anything on the market today.

Sadly, all we keep getting is the ugly shit like the Toyota Echo. Who the hell came up with that? If I was the chief of production over there at Toyota and the design team came to me with that car on paper, I'd have laughed them out of my office. I mean, could it scream "I"m on a low income, this was all I could manage" any fucking louder? Seriously.

Have you ever wondered what it must feel like to those brilliant, aesthetically-minded designers of yore when they open up a paper and see something as lame as any one of the "economy" sedans you find around today?

I bet they weep that their legacy has been squandered by these yahoos who claim they are "designing" cars.

I mean, really... the Honda Element? Shoot me now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Up in smoke: Thousands of years of nature

Not too far south of my apartment is a town called Delta. In between Delta and my place is one of the world's largest bogs, Burns' Bog.

An environmentally sensitive ecosystem, Burns' Bog has been a large source of tension between developers and environmentalists over the years, and through it all, the latter have largely succeeded in keeping the bog protected.

Last night, I was standing on my patio, enjoying that autumnal smell in the air -- that far too fresh scent that always tells you winter's either comin' or goin'. Surfing on the breeze was the aroma of woodsmoke, a smell I dearly love, and don't get to smell often enough, living in a large city.

Today I've found out that Burns' Bog is up in smoke. That smell of woodsmoke is thousands of years of a delicate ecosystem being destroyed. The air around my house is thick with the smoke, though the fire's some 20 kilometres away from here, in an area more than 10 times the size of New York's Central park.

The dense peat moss smoke coats my throat and nose, and I've got a headache.

Only 3% of the world today is home to peat boglands. Of them, Burns' Bog is one of the most notable in the world and is known to biologists the world over.

And what pisses me off is, that despite not knowing the cause of the fire at this point, you know it will wind up being some fucker with a cigarette who doesn't know how to extinguish a butt against his shoe. Have some fucking sense, people.

What absolute disregard people have for the world around us. How can we possibly live with ourselves with all this goddamned arrogance we show towards nature?

Living in this beautiful part of the world with virgin temperate forests and some of the nicest rainforests found on this continent leaves me fiercely protective of the nature around me. When I find out about fires like these, caused by idiots with cigarettes, or dickhead hikers who've left a glass bottle on a trail that magnifies the sun's heat and causes a fire, I'm left with a simmering rage that I can't even begin to quench.

How fucking dare they. Invariably, most of the people who start fires tend to be horrified at what they've done. They feel badly about it. Most don't get the punishment they deserve.

I'm here to tell you that stupidity isn't an excuse. Smarten the fuck up.

And Burns' Bog isn't just a forest. It won't come back in a hundred years. No. It'll never, ever be back. It takes thousands of years for peatland to develop. It's safe to say with man's disregard for the natural world now that that will simply never happen.

What a fucking shame.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Channel Surfing in the Land of Steff

Every now and then, the cosmos screams at you that you’re doing the right thing. How do you know? It’s when everything seems to seamlessly fall into place.

This week, I reached financial rock bottom. Three days in a row, I cried. I sucked it up and forced myself to get out each day and paste flyers around the university closest to me, UBC, for my English as a Second Language tutoring. (And yay for GayBoy, he helped yesterday. Good friends rock.)

Suddenly, I have things on the horizon. Good things. A couple promising clients.

Suddenly, self-employment seems like a brilliant option. I love the challenge of fending for myself, the autonomy of it all, and the opportunity to juggle things. it’ll be neat. I’ve done this before, just not for a long, long time.

I’ve also always been lousy with money for much of my life. Until this summer. Necessity is the mother of adaptation, or something like it. I’ve never been more prepared to make a serious go of self-employment as I am now.

Let’s hear it for the media.

Finally, they’ve been doing their jobs. Calling for Bush to accept accountability, playing “the blame game,” as the administration likes to call it, they’re finally doing what they should’ve been doing for at least the last couple decades.

Somewhere in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, the media just began swallowing what the talking heads were spouting. They stopped questioning the spin doctors and just believed everything that was spun for them.

Michael Brown’s a good director of FEMA, despite having lied on his resume, despite coming from the Arabian Stallion Oragnization, or whatever the hell it is? SURE, they said.

Back in the ‘70s, the media would’ve exposed the laughability of Brownie being a director of an organization responsible for saving the lives of natural disaster (and otherwise) victims. In 2003, they just nodded and announced the news, and never investigated a thing. They could’ve stopped him from receiving the appointment. They didn’t.

As much as I applaud the media for their sudden realization that they have JOBS to do, I hold them partially responsible for the deaths of those in New Orleans. I hold them responsible for not questioning Brown’s appointment. For not questioning Bush’s moves in Iraq. For not really exploring all the terrible news and issues that have come to light in the last six years.

The media has been asleep at the wheel, but they’re waking up.

The reality is, the people NEED the Fifth Estate. They NEED the media. The media is that light in the fog of the public world. They’re the decipherer of the political code. When the media fails to do its job, the public is ignorant, and bad electoral decisions are made. Decisions that impact far more than just the next four budgets.

Now a man who cares so little for the American poor that he neglected to act for the better part of four days after the greatest natural (and unnatural: the levee failure) catastrophe ever seen on this continent is responsible for picking a Chief Justice and a Justice on the Surpreme Court, both of whom will play a sizeable role in the future of the American constitution and the doling out of rights and privileges to the masses -- for DECADES to come.

Good fucking call, folks. And you can thank the media for their apathy during the last election.

But thank god they seem to be back. For how long, though? One can only wonder.

I was watching the telethons for Hurrican Katrina victims earlier.

Let’s hear it for the magnaminous television stations and their pooling together of resources to air these widespread telethons for those poor fucking people.

Is it just me, or are most people failing to realize that the networks have chosen what is inarguably one of the weakest time slots in the week for airing these telethons? Friday, at 8:00. Oh, yeah. Way to seek a market share for the dead and homeless, network people.

It’s pretty bad when the spokespeople have to say at least once, “If you’ve TAPED this...”

God forbid they lose actual advertising revenue or anything.
That said, there’s never been a natural disaster that has more deserved a musical concert for a fundraiser. There is no city that better evokes music than New Orleans. Pick any city in the world -- none of them will match the musical colour and history of NOLA.

From blues and jazz to soul and rock, NOLA has it covered. It’s all about the music, baby.

There are bigger cities, flashier cities, more far-reaching cities, but there is no city in the world more capable of bringing a smile to people’s faces and a tap to their step than New Orleans.

And to see the stars come out and lay their voices and their soul on the line for the good folks of New Orleans and Mississippi and the heart of America like they have, there’s just nothing more fitting than that.

Get on board, baby. The train’s a movin’.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

HST's "suicide note"

Hunter Thompson, my foremost literary idol in my youth, met the Big Guy in the Sky back in February after blowing a hole in his head with a shotgun. The lit giant was in constant pain after having hip replacement surgery and a broken leg, plus a bunch of other medical ailments that had severely compromised the once-athletic man at the age of 67. Rolling Stone magazine, the folks who essentially brought HST to the world in the first place, have now published this, what is considered his suicide note, written four days in advance of the shot that silenced the author:
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Death by Irony

Recently, a drunk woman in Belgium was staggering through a cemetery in the wee hours of the morning, after a night at the pub, when she urgently needed to relieve herself. She squatted between two gravestones, and upon losing her balance when trying to stand, leaned heavily against one of them.

That gravestone then toppled, crushing her, and asphyxiating her.

I mean, I know do-it-yourself work is the big new trend and all, but don't you think self-burial is just a tad premature?


See, now this would never have happened to a man. Proof that life is inherently harder for a woman.

A guy would've just pissed against a tree and moseyed on. The drunk chick, though, smote down by a tombstone. Cruel fate.

Still, funny as hell. Every year for the anniversary of her death day, I recommend her bereaved enjoy an honourary meal of pancakes.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Conversation with Darth Vader

Darth Vader Desktop 02 1024
One of my fave summer postings, which I'm bringing back for an encore.

Darth Vader stopped by for a beer last night.

What? I have friends in high places. Friends with breathing regulators.

Darth was a little concerned. I was puttering around my place, smoking dope, listening to tunes, and being generally a little apathetic.

Darth glowered at me. Or, if I could see his eyes, I’d expect he would’ve been glowering.

He looked me over, shook that big plastic head of his, and gruffly huffed, “Steff, Steff, Steffie.”


He sighed in that mechanical way of his. “You’re not in touch with your dark side.”

“I know, I know. But it’s July. It’s light for 18 hours a day right now.”

“No, no. You’re too..." Waving his hand dismissively, he concluded his thought. "Fluffy.”

“Fluffy? FLUFFY? No beer for you.”

“Hmm. I think I can rephrase,” said the Dark Lord. “All right. You need to feel your anger. You need to rage. You need to rant. You’re letting your blog readers down.”

“My blog readers?”

“Yes. They have come to know you as a loose cannon. Someone they can turn to in the midst of all this... fluffiness.”

“But... now I’m fluffy?”

“Will I get a beer though?”

“All right,” I sighed.

“You’re fluffier than the Ewoks I keep for kicks.”

“You keep Ewoks for kicks?”

“How do you think my suit’s so shiny? I shine it? I have an evil empire to run. No, no. The Ewoks take orders well. I have some that tend bar in my private quarters when I host... soirees. Besides, and don't let this get out, I think they're sort of cute.”

“Hmm. So I’m fluffy. Wow. ‘Course, consider the source.”

“Just because I’m an evil dark lord and I control an empire and I can kill people using my mind doesn’t mean I can’t be an objective observer, you know. Where in the Emperor’s name is my goddamned beer, anyhow?”

“Right. Ale for you. Spine for me. Sigh.”

Maybe soon, dear readers, I will get in touch with my dark side.

It often ties into the autumnal equinox. I’m such a sunny summertime girl. What can I say?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A pensive Sunday afternoon

(Took this photo on a forest amble a couple days back.)

I’m taking a break from watching Dogtown & the Z-Boys, the skateboarding documentary about the crew that busted the underground sport wide open, homogenizing surfing and boarding into one beautiful, fluid craft. Narrated by Sean Penn, the span of the flick is a pretty all-encompassing ride, and I’m digging it.

I have a few personal goals I want to achieve, regarding fitness and weightloss and all, and when I do, surfing’s something I aim to finally learn -- there’s nowhere near here to do it, so it’s not something I’ve been standing on the sidelines watching -- and once I do that, a tattoo’ll find its way on me, too. I figure next spring’s when I’ll be getting onto that task. It’s part of some goals I’ve set.

I love the culture that gave birth to surfing and boarding as we know it now. The disregard for conformity, the hedonistic living-in-the-now approach to life. Sadly, it’s not feasible for most of us, but I’ve gradually reached this point where I’m sick of believing that to be true for myself.

In three weeks, I’m 32. I don’t think the fact that I’m “aging” matters to me. I’m probably entitled to be angry at having much of my 20s stolen by grief and frustrations, but I’m just not angry. Not anymore. All it does is prevent me from being interested in older men. That’s the only residual effect.

But this movie’s an interesting flick for me to be watching on this particular weekend. On Friday, I finished my class that I’d been taking for the last month, that has inspired me to finally pursue desires I’ve had for the last 15 years, and now, for the first time in my life, I’m bonafide unemployed.

I’ve never been without a job waiting for me. I’ve never had a clean slate before me. I’ve always had a transitional element in place before I’ve left any school or work situation.

The reasoning for it is that I’d been raised to have a cover-your-ass mentality in life: charity begins at home, don’t tell family secrets, don’t take risks, don’t rock the boat, do what you gotta do to keep yourself protected, never trust anyone, have a fallback plan, and never, ever expose yourself untiul absolutely necessary.

I lived my life following those credos most of the time, until recently. The best times I’ve ever had were always when I said, “Fuck that shit,” and went my own way. It took me to the Yukon and was responsible for some of the coolest roadtrips I’ve ever had.

I’ve been a paradox that way. On the one hand, I’ve absolutely been a live-in-the-now person, but on the other hand, my roots in fear had prevented me from really taking no prisoners and toeing the edge as far as what I really wanted to be doing.

Every now and then, a movie like this would remind me of that little person inside of me who screamed that they wanted to become bigger than life.

And for the first time, I’ve got no safety net. I’ve got no rules keeping me bound. I’ve got no employer pressing me under their thumb. I’ve got nothing but a dream of what I want to be doing.

So I’m verging on 32, what’s the big deal? Who gives a shit? They keep saying that 40’s the new 30, and man, my 30s are cooler than I’d ever thought they’d be when I was younger. I remember watching the flick Singles when I was 21 and hearing Bridget Fonda’s character ramble on about how she figured she had until 26 to do whatever she wanted to do, and then it was all downhill. And 10 years ago, that was true.

Something has changed. There’s a new culture out there that says we have whatever time we want, whatever we need, and if you live your life right, “old” ain’t until you hit 50, at the least.

The difference for me now is that I’ve overcome some harsh shit. Been there, done that, and whatever the fuck you wanna throw my way now, man, I got that beat. That’s what the 30s are. In an ideal world, by the time you reach your 30s, you’ve tested your endurance.

This past week was a week I’d been waiting for all year long. Two years in a row, I had potentially-fatal vehicular accidents in the last week before Labour Day. I believe in things happening in threes, because they’ve always done so for me. I was terrified all summer long and kept thinking about it, couldn’t shake it, and honestly believed an accident was lying in wait for me this week.

What’d everyone tell me to do? “Park the scooter.” “Don’t ride.” “Take the bus.”

And all I could think was, “Fuck, man. I should... but will I respect myself if I dodge it the easy way and don’t face that fear?” I knew the answer. I knew it was no. And for that reason, I was terrified my stubborness would send me sprawling once again.

So, last Saturday, as “the week” began, I decided to tackle it another way. I did the one thing I always swore I wouldn’t do on a bike, and I plugged my iPOD in and turned on some punk and rock songs, and went long, long ride past midnight around the city of Vancouver. I hung at the beach, rode through the university, down near the Ports of Vancouver, up through the gritty East Side, and I got home after 2am.

For some reason, it all seemed all right after that. Fuck “fate,” I thought, and decided to ride my scooter all week, as I saw fit.

Friday, on the second anniversary of a car accident I had no business walking away from, I wandered to a coffee shop for an Americano, stepped outside afterwards, and saw a chick on a scooter get hit by a car.

She toppled to the ground and laid there, unable to move, as a crowd of concerned and terrified onlookers formed a circle around her to protect her from the traffic.

I stood there in horror, wondering what this meant in the grand scheme of things for me. An ominous warning? And something clicked and it all became a surreal moment of introspection as I stared down at her: This chick on the ground looked like I did two years ago, when I was nearly 60 lbs heavier than I am now, when my self-esteem was at an all-time low. For some reason, something about her on the ground was a closure to all the things gone bad in my life. Who I was that day two years ago was a result of all the tragedy that’d come my way in the five years preceding that, when I stupidly internalized all my negativity.

Since then, I’ve changed in ways I’d never imagined, rediscovered who I was 10 years ago, when I set out for the North.

Now, here I am, all that closure finally granted to me, and with my slate cleaner than it’s ever been in my life. The suspense -- Where will it all go? -- has me grinning with curiosity. I’m so glad I’m single, jobless, and completely free to do what I like.

I’ve given myself this weekend off, to be a slacker loser, hence the boarding flick and other DVDs, and tomorrow... tomorrow it all starts anew.

I can’t hardly wait.

Theme songs for my life in the now: “Can’t Hardly Wait,” by the Replacements, “Free,” by VAST, and “I’ll Get By,” by Swag. Bring it, brother.

Life is going on

I'm tired of all the bad news with the catastrophe, and I'm happy to hear some positive news is starting to come of it all, despite the horrific tragedies still coming to light.

This story made me smile.

A couple in Mississippi were due to be wed shortly after the hurricane landed. Clearly, a crimp in their plans developed. They lost everything -- except the wedding license in the bride-to-be's wallet.

They tied the knot yesterday in their shelter.

Here's the story.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The mathematics of a catastrophe

37 million Americans live in poverty.

That's 125% of Canada’s population of 30 million, a staggering 15% of the American population.

57% of New Orleans’ population was black. 30% of their population lived below the poverty line.

The poverty line is defined as being “a family of four living on less than $18,810.” Try raising a family of four on less than $30,000. Is the poverty line even realistic, then? What's the true extent of poverty in America? Will we ever really know?

And what happens when your predominantly black region filled with predominantly impoverished people gets hit by a catastrophe?

I guess we’re finding out.

There are still no numbers for the dead in the South. There are no news agencies willing to take the risk of proclaiming the number of dead before "concrete" numbers can be had. I’m not sure if it falls under the journalistic credo of “if it’s THEM, we can show their corpses. If it’s US, we cannot.”

But there it is. No numbers. One Louisiana senator, David Vitter, has stated that he feels the number of dead in New Orleans alone will start at 10,000.
Read more »

Friday, September 02, 2005

Early numbers?

There are no numbers regarding how many people might have died yet.

One Louisiana senator says he suspects 10,000, at the least, have died in New Orleans alone.

I don't think you need my commentary on that.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bye-bye, American Pie

This disaster in the southern states sprawls across a land mass larger than Great Britain.

Entire towns have been wiped away. Infrastructure reduced to rubble.

Worse yet, bodies still float on the waters, with an unknown amount of corpses sucked into the Gulf of Mexico, the number of those dead may never really be known.

Thus far, I haven’t heard a single body count uttered. Perhaps it’s unimaginable that a number like the one we’ll inevitably hear could happen in this day and age in the richest country in the world.

Perhaps the horror of the class divide is finally coming to light in a way no one had ever conceived: Those who could afford to leave, did. Those who couldn’t now sit dehydrating and starving to death without food, without water, without medications, without help, in a catastrophe-riddled region that may as well be a world away from the wealth of the nation it’s within.

Bush says “Help is coming.” Only he says it with that smug fucking grin he uses when he knows he's out-fucking-gunned. Deep down, he knows he's a cocksucker, because help should've come by now.

Apparently those of us on our cushy seats north of this tragedy can’t fathom the logistics of such operations... but this wasn’t the fucking tsunami.

It didn’t happen suddenly when the Earth opened up a chasm of unparalleled horror and spat an ocean up upon a chain of unsuspecting nations on one of the only near-global holidays, Christmastime.

No. This happened with advance warning. This happened with Doppler radar citing at least an impending class-four hurricane. This happened with enough of a leadtime that the majority of New Orleans residents could get the hell outta dodge.

This happened with time enough to declare a State of Emergency before the storm hit land.

And then the hurricane swung off the predicted course, causing more destruction and death.

Where was the American Federal government? Where was the fucking President? On holiday, of course.

Only now is the National Guard being summoned. Only now are the resources on their way. Only now is the Federal government getting involved.

Bush, the fucking twat, is cushy in Washington. It’s been almost four days since that storm hit land. Bush should’ve gone straight there from Texas. And why the hell not? The refugees seem to think Texas is close enough to run to. But no, Bush is finally going to view the devastation tomorrow.

One can only hope he flies low enough to see the rotting corpses floating on the water, to smell the stench of decay and death, and to hear the pained and horrified cries of those still trying to come to terms with the reality that everything they had, everything everyone around them had, all their histories, all their heartstrings, all of it has fucking been battered and broken and buried by a bitch named Katrina.

Bush betrayed his country long ago when he sent young men and women off to die in a war that never should have happened.

A war that has prevented him from sending the proper response to this disaster, that has depleted the homeland of its response readiness.

But now he’s betraying them by failing to act with authority, with immediacy, with humanity. By allowing law enforcement and military to enforce something as fucking stupid as looting while people are dying overnight in the stifling heat of the Gulf, dying from a lack of food and water -- things that could be airlifted in, had the government only had the vision to prepare in advance of this disaster, and not just wait to react.

They knew that either a category-four or five storm was setting itself on the South. They chose to wait to find out the magnitude of devastation before preparing for its landfall.

And now the price is being paid in tears, blood, and pine boxes.

Bush’s legacy grows darker by the day.

(And I pity the fucking people paying for it -- the black, the poor, the unnecessary. Wake the fuck up, white America. You've a long way to go, and you elected a president who has declined for five years running to speak in front of the NCAAP. Where the fuck is the sense of outrage? I pray something good might come of all this: An awakening. I can only pray, though, since my hope left me long ago.)

Confessional: An explanation

This blog used to be a fairly happening place. I was on my game, and it was all about me having a good time.

But I said a few times that this blog was a creative tool. You need to understand that writer’s block, when it afflicts you for years on end, is like wandering a desert aimlessly. There’s no landmark to tell you where to go, every direction feels the same, and you’re constantly bogged down by this desperate wanting, a wanting that never, ever gets quenched.

I started The Last Ditch in early November, 2004, and promised myself I would fight through that writer’s block. I wrote daily, I posted anything that came to mind, and in fact, on this blog, I still do that -- I post daily on one of my two blogs, but the A-game usually winds up on the other site.

For me, the Ditch is a pressure valve. “Cheaper than therapy,” is my slogan, and lord fucking knows I’ve needed that therapy.

Over the past three months, I’ve probably lost a lot of readers, and justifiably so. I have no illusions about the fact that this place ain’t what it was.

I began to feel an itch in June, this need to find a concrete direction. Anyone who followed the Ditch knows it has always been scattered, very A.D.D. in its appeal. That was me fumbling through the dark in search of something tenable, a writing style that best fit me, that I could excel at.

If you’re not a “writer” writer, you will never understand this compelling need to share your vision with the world. Writing, true writing, is about getting inside yourself and finding what voice suits you the best. It doesn’t need to be Hemingway or Faulkner. It can be rants, poetry, humour, experimental prose, or flat-out non-fiction.

As that compelling need took stronger hold and I began to feel more and more anger about not having found my distinct voice despite having broken the shackles that bound me, I decided to take a creative risk and go in a completely different direction.

For some reason, I’ve always been interested in sex advice. I always found that, as I grew up, my family had really repressed attitudes about sex. I only ever saw my parents really kiss maybe a couple of times. I was scarred mentally when I walked in on them having sex once, and despite them knowing it, it was never discussed, just swept under the rug.

My mother had always attached the notion of shame to sex, that to fuck was to disrespect yourself, so when I fell in love at 17 and lost my virginity, I was so ashamed of it for so long.

But more importantly, I was angry that I was ashamed. I knew there was no reason to be ashamed. The reality is, I’ve never been promiscuous and I’ve had only a select few sexual partners. For me, the emotional content is SO important with sex. I can’t just sleep with anyone, and do not foresee that changing.

Yet here I am, writing about sexual advice for the masses on my other blog. How’s that going? I’ve far surpassed this site in daily visits. Nothing this site has ever done, traffic wise, even remotely compares. I’ve increased my traffic over there by 1000% in three weeks, and expect a thousand visitors today.

Why? Because the writing feels so comfortable to me.

The only other writing that fits me as well is ranting. But ranting involves constantly finding fault with the world, with people. It’s a dark thing, and for me, it never left me feeling lighter or stronger... but I feel that way when I get the response I get from That Other Blog.

Both my experiences with sex and with drugs have occasionally left me feeling ashamed. Shame is one of the stupidest emotions we can ever feel, though, and largely comes from a place or ignorance or fear. It’s shame that has always driven me to educate myself. That said, I know more about sex than most people ever come to know, and only a handful of men have ever had the privilege of learning that.

But it saddens me to see so much stupidity out there around sex. So much frustration. And so damned much bad skill. It frustrates me that people don’t realize sex can be one of the most intense forms of communication two people share, and it angers me that so much judgment still surrounds it.

I have begun taking questions from my public and am stunned to see the questions coming in, questions that can be solved with a short web search, or some creativity, or a visit to the library, yet they’re turning to me for this help.

I’ve already had emails from couples telling me I’ve contributed wonderful things to their sex lives. I’ve had some young girls email me to tell me they’re already feeling better about themselves and are less scared. I’ve had men thank me for the tips, thank me for understanding the pressures they face.

Yeah, I have some fun with the column and I’m amusing and cute in my approach to the writing, and I have some issues to get over as far as the stupid stigma attached to saying I want to be a sex advice writer, but I love the response I’m getting, that I’m really contributing in a meaningful way to people’s lives.

It blows my mind, and I’m fucking loving it. I’ve found a calling, and I’m pursuing it.

So the Last Ditch suffers. It gets mediocre posts and little links and short jokes, but that’s the way I suspect it might be for awhile. I didn’t want it to go this way, but with the attention and popularity and notoriety that has suddenly fallen my way, I’d be a fool to neglect my new site.

I will be a success. I’m almost certain of it. Not just because my ability, but because I know how to sell myself, and so few writers do.

Also, because I look at sex differently. I take it seriously, but I’m also very funny about it, and because I’m a strong chick in touch with both my masculine and my vulnerable female sides. I know I appeal to both sexes, and few sex writers really do.

And I’m proud of it. I feel better about where I am right now than I have ever felt in my life. Few of you can have any idea how incredibly good it is to finally know where to go... to know how to get out of that endless, vacuous desert of disappointment I’ve wandered for so long.

The Last Ditch will occasionally have a great post and I know it. Maybe I’ll get slagged for being so cocky, but I don’t give a shit. People confuse modesty and humility. It’s not about keeping quiet regarding your talents -- it’s about knowing your limitations and your weaknesses. I’m a versatile writer, but I’ve only recently found where my voice is strongest.

And it isn’t here.

(Email me if you want the link and haven't been by the new pad yet.)