Things I Remember Upon Hearing Of The Death Of Terry Pratchett

Honestly, I was not a fan of Terry Pratchett’s work. Those who know me will know that I never got into Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and all of their ilk. In truth, I’ve never been big on funny fiction, with the notable exception of the always amazing Christopher Moore. My ex-wife was quite a fan of Pratchett, however, and I know that his writing was excellent, his books well loved, and his fans saddened by his death.

Now I’m going to relate a story from the Olden Days, back when there was a thing called a “land line”, not to be confused with a “land mine” despite obvious textual similarities. A land line was a telephone that had a chord in it that was physically attached to a connection to the telecom provider, typically in the wall of a house. Back in those days, we had a thing called the White Pages, which was a big book full of all listed residential phone lines. It would say things like “Blenkowitz, Murray 33 Snickerdoodle Rd…… 555-122-3344” and you could use it to awkwardly call girls you liked (and everyone in the approximate area you think they might live who shared a last name with them).

Continue reading

The Day They Asked Me How To Smuggle Illegal Images Across The Border

Oh, such a glorious summer day in 1999, as I waited in line at the airport. I was on my way to Web Design ’99, my first ever work-related conference being held in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Everything was coming up Big Ugly Jim back then; I had become quite stable in my new career, I was actually being sought after as a software developer, my marriage was still a not-broken thing, I was in Johnny Incognito… Life, she was good.

It should also be noted that this was prior to The Tragic Events Of September 11th, when air travel was just one of those things you did without fear that you would get a glove up your ass, or that your particular brand of mouthwash would land you on a no-fly list. I hadn’t flown across the border as an adult at this point, but I assumed it would be no big deal.

Naturally, I got pulled to the side for a little more attention on what I was bringing into the good ole’ U S of A. They insisted I open my laptop, which was a work laptop. I assumed that, much like they did with Walkmans (which were still a thing back then), they just wanted to make sure that it was actually a laptop and not a bomb or something. They asked me to turn it on, and I did. No explosions. Figured that’d be the end of that.


Continue reading

The Right To Refuse To Serve Christians

Before anyone misinterprets this post, let me say that I am not a Satanist. However, I freely admit that I find the Satanic Temple quite interesting and worthy of further investigation on my part, and that I have absolutely enjoyed the recent antics of the Satanic Temple that have passively attacked the many in the US who would so quickly abandon the separation of church and state. I refer to their campaigns, such as those to erect a statue of Baphomet on public grounds next to the monument to the ten commandments in Oklahoma City, and the handing out of a delightful satanic activity book for kids where groups like the Gideons are handing out religious pamphlets in schools.

I embrace this sort of thing. As a Canadian, we don’t actually have that separation of church and state thing, but I wish we did. Religion should not create public policy, it should based on a rational interpretation of what is best for society.

I had a thought just now, and I just hope it happens. I would like to see a business put up a sign that said it would not serve Christians. In Arizona, a law was passed to allow business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people, so long as they do so for religious reasons. This law was, I believe, vetoed by the Governor, but it mirrors many other laws such as Michigan’s House Bill 5958, which may open the door to legally protected discrimination in the name of faith. I say may because, as the link points out, it’s Continue reading

Breaking The Law

I am a blasphemous prick. I have drawn Muhammad, and I have regularly and with fervor insulted a significant number of both religions and religious people. I am mellowing in my age, and have far less gone on the offensive, but I will say this: Religion is fuck off terrible for culture. And yeah, that includes moderates who don’t personally murder apostates and heathens. You can cherry pick the goodness in your scriptures to fit your personal ideology, but I have yet to read a religious text (certainly not an Abrahamic faith’s text) that didn’t promote hate, murder, and any number of human cruelties.

So fuck religion, fuck God, fuck Allah, fuck Zeus, fuck the pantheon. Fuck them all. With dicks of fire.

Now, you see what I did there? That’s called “blasphemy”. And it’s illegal. The Canadian Criminal Code says that I have just published a blasphemous libel, and am thereby able to be removed from the general public and interred in a jail cell for no more than two years.

That’s two years where I would not be able to feed my family. That’s two years of subjecting me to the torments of a prison. That’s two years isolation from all that is important to me. That’s two years of my life, approximately 2.5% of an average Canadian’s life expectancy, stripped from me.

Continue reading

The Black James Bond (Or: James Bond Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore)

There was, I hear, some talk about having Idris Elba play James Bond possibly at some future point, and a lot of people have been vocal about how OMG JAMES BOND R WITE POLITICOL CORECCTNESS WUT NEXT WHITE MLK. This is stupid for a variety of reasons, and PZ talks about them at the link I’ve mentioned. But y’know what? I have a different take on James Bond.

I think James Bond doesn’t make a lick of sense in the world we live in. Ian Flemming’s James Bond was Roger Moore and (to a much greater extent) Sean Connery representing Britian in the cold war, and the cold war is over. Not only is it over, but, in the words of Steven King’s gunslinger, the world has moved on.

Many years ago, I was one of the editors-in-chief of 3am Magazine, a project I am to this day infinitely proud of. One of the things we scored was an interview with Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and lots of other stuff. The interview was regarding, among other things, the at-that-point-soon-to-be-released novel, Lullaby. I remember being really taken by his explanation of how the book came about, the evaluation of What Is Scary in a modern context, and how what we have traditionally considered scary in the past really doesn’t do it for us today.

Continue reading

10 Things Every Aging Musician/Business Analyst Who Looks Exactly Like Me Wants For Christmas

I actually don’t even have ten things I want for Christmas (off the top of my head), but I keep seeing posts about “What every teen wants for Christmas” or “What ever twenty-something wants for Christmas” because clearly we are nothing more than bleating sheep, and entire decades of people can be generalized into a top 10 list. But this list? I can stand by this list.

It is important to note that I get nothing or next to nothing for Christmas, because I am a poor piece of crap and have to have that awkward, unforgettably shitty conversation with friends every year. Thanks, Jesus. This list is actually sneakily about me thinking about things I actually want, because I’m terrible at doing things for myself, so now I’ll have a list that is at least slightly relevant.

#1. Books
Note: I mean actual books, not gift certificates to book stores or Kindle downloads. What book should you buy me? Simple. Buy me something you have read and think I would love. The chances are I’ll totally love it, unless you’re a complete dumbass. And if you’re a complete dumbass, then I probably don’t like you, so don’t get me any books.

#2. Music
I have such varied tastes in music, you will have a hard time going wrong with music. If it’s a copy of your own band’s CD even better. I don’t care about genres, I just want it to be good.

#3. Coffee Machine
I swear to fuck, the Beer Core House does not have a coffee machine. I end up wasting mad money buying awful 7-11 coffee all the time. I don’t care if it’s a shitty coffee machine or a crazy ridiculous fuck off massive barista thing. I just want coffee that doesn’t taste like hobos.

Continue reading

Scary Shoplifters With Guns

One of the things that has annoyed the hell out of me as it pertains to the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson’s finest is the allegation that he posed a significant danger to the arresting officers, thus warranting the lethal force they employed. For the purposes of this post, let’s just take as writ that Michael Brown was a shoplifter, and that he attempted to grab one of the arresting officer’s guns. K? We’re all on the same page? Cool. I’m gonna tell you about a different story now.

Once upon a time, I was young. Oh yeah, it was a long time ago, but I assure you, it really did happen. Back in 1985, I, like many of my fellow My Home Townians, was enthralled by a story that happened right here in My Home Town.

These security guards at a mall downtown saw a guy shoving a bunch of stuff into his bag. They figured he was probably shoplifting, because you don’t generally shove things in your bag if you plan on paying for them, and they approached him. This guy pulled out a gun and shot at them, hitting one of them in the hand. They still managed to subdue him, an armed man who it was later revealed was an ex-Marine and a martial arts expert, and police arrested him.

Continue reading

Robocop IV: Robocop Goes To Everytown

Sadly, I can’t find an article I wrote for Newtopia Magazine a very long time ago about the G8 Summit we had here in My Home Town. There was a theme to it that has just been eerily familiar of late, although I didn’t know it at the time. In the article, I wrote about what I saw during the summit, and was surprisingly supportive of the police. While yes, there were the riot gear robocop looking dudes in the wings, when it came time for direct interactions with the peaceful mob, the police we saw were the bicycle cops in bad socks.

That was something important to me, something I thought that was really integral to the peacefulness of the whole thing. See, a guy in shorts and knee-high socks on a bike is a human being. A partial face hidden behind riot gear, plastic shield, and wielding a baton is a futuristic warrior robot intent on the destruction of the human race. Yes, there are times when a situation is out of control and you need to call in the big guns, but I happen to believe that most people are decent and reasonable, and dealing with a regular police officer is fine.

I may be wrong. I’m no cop, and I don’t know what their real experience is. But I can say that having a peaceful protest surrounded by Judge Dredd clones beating their shields like war drums is a fine way to make a situation escalate.

Continue reading

A Message To My Daughter As She Prepares To Graduate High School

Slow down, kiddo.

The other day, we talked a bit, and you told me about how you were thinking about going to trade school in a variety of disciplines. I in no way oppose this, and I understand that you are feeling the grade 12 rush towards What Will You Do With The Rest Of Your Life press down on you. As well, if I understood our conversation correctly, there are some opportunities that require you to leap directly from high school into post-secondary for financial assistance. These are all well and good, but ease up a bit. Hear me out, here.

I may be a silly-minded old fart, an aging musician who’s pretty cool but doesn’t really get the way the world is, but there’s a thing or two I know about the world that I want to share with you. They’re pretty important things, and they might start to sound a bit depressing. I assure you, this isn’t a gloomy message.

Continue reading

Things Better Than X-Box

I like video games. I like them so much, I refuse to play them. I know how I am when I get caught up in a video game, and it’s not very good. In college, I recall my then-wife coming home from working a night shift and catching me fifteen minutes before I had to leave for school. I was completely disheveled, having spent the entire night playing Civilization rather than sleeping, eating, studying, or in any way doing anything. As a general rule, I simply avoid playing video games because I like them enough to not do anything else. I imagine that cocaine is the same, so I have elected to never find out.

What I don’t like about video games, or more accurately, what I don’t like about our current society’s addiction to technology, is that we don’t actually ever do anything anymore. That’s a sweeping generalization, and I recognize that everyone does some stuff, but it kind of frightens me how little we do.

As a Wee Ugly Jim, I watched plenty of TV. That was back in the olden days when Saturday Morning Cartoons were a thing. When the family got a computer, I spent great amounts of time playing games on it. But I still did stuff. My friend, Jason, and I would spend entire days on our bikes, traveling all over our quadrant of the city. We built forts. We had wars with kids. We played tag on playgrounds. We went to the mall to pick up chicks (which, for the record, was laughable given that we never actually spoke to girls and mostly just wandered around all desperate and pathetic). I read books voraciously.

Continue reading