A Writer Writes (About How He Never Writes, But Then Writes About How He’s Going To Start Writing Again)

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. In junior high and high school, I wrote stacks of fictional works that would now get me investigated by the local authorities because I took all the frustration and pain that came from being an outcast and expressed it, often with murderous sprees aimed at characters meant to represent the people who had hurt me in school. This was not my making a death plan or fantasizing about actually killing anyone, it was a form of therapy. I was skinny to the point of the absurd (in grade ten, I was 7 inches taller than the stereotypical 5′ 98 pound weakling, but he had 25 pounds on me) and deeply introverted. When people were nasty to me, I just took it, but I learned that I could get the feelings out by writing.

I figured, as a kid, that I’d be the next Stephen King. Now, keep in mind that my experience set was quite limited, and at that point, Stephen King was the most intriguing author I had heard of. It was always my goal. And when I went to college to get a degree in computers, it was because I accepted that “making it” as a writer was not a safe bet for a man who had a wife and wanted to have kids, so I would need a day job to pay the bills while I spent my nights writing.

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Tilting At Windmills

wpid-Don_Quixote_6.jpegLet me dim the lights here, and you can come in close and sit with me here by the fire, I’m going to explain to you how scary it was when I finally lost my faith. Cuz it was fuck off scary for me, and I think sometimes that people don’t understand that.

I don’t know the moment that the fear set in. I know that I had been doubting for years at that point. I found¬† myself getting frustrated because the Bible didn’t have the answers that I thought it did. I found myself getting angry when people would talk about stories from the Bible and what they meant without realizing how creepy and racist they sounded, and how petulant their God sounded. I found myself getting genuinely irate with people who would accept everything without asking why and how. I would go to church and I would become mad during the sermon probably seven times out of ten, and those other three times were never uplifting experiences. I was floundering, but I still knew God was real.

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Local Bands I Have Loved – His Last Words

wpid-IMG_213256243717201.jpegHis Last Words reminds me of my first real band, Johnny Incognito. That’s a huge compliment, because I am clearly an egomaniacal prick. The differences are that His Last Words:

a) still play shows
b) have a bright future
c) are actually worth seeing

I chose today to talk about them because I thought it only fair, having yesterday begun the Local Bands I Have Loved series with their opponents in tomorrow night’s Punk Vs. Metal: CARNAGE tournament, but they would have been a band I quickly got to no matter what, because I just think they’re cool. The first time I saw them, I couldn’t help but think of Johnny Incognito. They weren’t very tight, they don’t really look like a hardcore band, and they have a singer that surprises you.

I remember well the first Johnny Incognito gig; it was a Bandwarz at The Shamrock, a venue that Heavenly Father has since chosen to smite with fire, and I will gladly admit that I was perhaps the single worst front man of all time at that point. The entire set had my hand firmly stuck in my pocket, and I just stood there making my throat-noises like a bleating lamb fully aware that the next bullet is the finisher-offer. Fortunately, that gig was captured for posterity and aired as the “local flavor” during the credits of Sports At 11:30, so my suckage was easily accessible. When I watched that tape, the biggest thing I took away from it was that I couldn’t just stand there like a cock, I had to move around. So I made it a point to be as wild as I could on stage. Mostly, this meant pacing, thunder-jumping (I was >300lbs back then, so when I came down hard on a stage for punctuation, you knew a large mammal was commanding your attention), and making my eyes as Steve Buscemi creepy as I could. For those audiences that saw us after that, the biggest thing I heard was how unexpected it all was. We looked like nice enough people, but when we started playing and I started in, you just had to take notice.

So it is with His Last Words, particularly their singer, Richard. And no, that’s not cuz we’re both big guys, it’s because he sort of comes across like the kind of guy who loves his parents and plays D&D a lot. Nothing’s wrong with that, but he seems very gentle. And then the band starts playing, and this evil emits from his throat, and you just wonder where in the blue hell that came from. But as I was saying, when I first saw them, they were a lot sloppier and sort of directionless, and they really didn’t make any impression on me. I don’t know if they wound up playing over the credits of Sports At 11:30 or not, but something changed in them, and they have become a band you can’t help but take notice of.

Now, I’m an outsider, but I think it might have a lot to do with the new bass player, Dave. Dave also plays in stab.twist.pull, and it might be unrelated, but it seems to me that when he started with the band, that’s when things started to pick up for them. Whether he as that missing thing that brought the band together or not, Dave’s a ridiculous bass player. He comes to the Keith Morrison Band open jams every other Monday at The D, and each time he does, I suggest he should try out my upright bass. Something tells me it’d take him all of eight minutes to be better at it than me. Sick with talent.

In reality, the whole band is fantastic, and they’re really great guys. The first time I really met drummer Brett (I mean, we’d hung out at shows, but this was the first time we got to chatting) was at Three Days Of Dissent, and he just struck me as a decent, interesting cat. Watching him play makes me happy. He does exactly what a drummer should do, keep the band together and throw in just the right amount of flourish.

And Ryan? Ryan’s a guitarist… I mean, who doesn’t like guitarists? I kid, of course, nobody likes guitarists, but Ryan’s great. When he’s on stage, I often have trouble reconciling that there’s only one guitar on the go. His riffs are often very controlled, something I don’t see in a lot of bands in the underground music scene.

One area they need to do better at is the interwebs. Type in his last words band into google and you get nothing. It’s even better when you go to the images tab and see these guys:

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On the youtubes, I wasn’t able to find the band playing, but I did find a hype for their recently-released album, Sapience, and it sounds pretty sweet:

Jim

Why I Hate (And Love) Canadian Content Laws

wpid-nickelback300.jpegI was reading Lousy Canuck’s blog today, and there’s a post there called Skepticon: Not My Canadian Pride! which I quite enjoyed. I was going to write a post mentioning a few more of those small cultural differences that separate Canadians from Americans, but it was suffering from a terminal case of TL;DR and I didn’t think it was worth posting. But it did get me thinking about our Canadian Content laws, and I figured I’d mouth off about them a little bit. Because I have a blog, and bloggers mouth off on things. Win.

By way of explanation, Canada has laws in place that dictate that magazines, radio programs, and all sorts of other stuff have to have a certain amount of Canadian content. Personally, I think the spirit of these laws is a fine thing. Especially in our current Western World, we are inundated by American culture, and requiring our broadcasters to give a push to the locals is a good thing. But the trouble is in the Nickelbackery.

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The True Christian

CraziesYou know what Christians I think are the most directly rooted in their faith? The Westboro Baptists. Now, keep in mind that I have met and wholly respect Nate Phelps, a Phelps family member who escaped their clutches and has moved on to a new life working with CFI Canada. I am disgusted at all turns by the actions of the WBC, and think that they are vile people.

But at least they’re trying.

I don’t mean to say they are trying to make the world a better place, and I don’t mean to say they are trying to save people. From what little I know about their faith, I believe they are Calvinists, and believe that the small list of people who will go to heaven is already defined, and that anyone else is really just kidding themselves.¬† They are trying to live the life God wants for them. Most Christians cherry-pick all the really good stuff and ignore the hideous reality of their walk with Christ. The rapists, the slaves, the homophobia, the degradation and subjugation of women… it all adds up to a pretty clear image of the nature of God. He is a horrifying figure. Yes, there is love to be found therein. It is the love of an insecure and abusive father. His love is dangerous, jealous, cruel, and totally devoted to those that believe. Any who step outside of his directions in the slightest may expect anything from fire raining down to disease to famine to forced homosexuality to outright and instantaneous murder.

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What Makes A Good Comic Book Hero (Or: Why I Hate Superman)

wpid-tumblr_lqphe4UxVF1qewod6o1_500.jpegFirst off, there’s no denying that Superman is a dick. Facts are facts, and the guy has always let the people he loves learn horrifying lessons, has always been a holier-than-thou smug jackass, and has just not evolved enough over the years to be interesting. Good characters evolve, and bad characters are static and flat. Superman is the icon of a static, flat character.

But the biggest thing I have always disliked about Superman is that nothing ever really sucks for him. He has a good job, good women, good hair, and just the right power at just the right time to win any situation. Oh sure, we all know he can fly (or was that leap really far?) and has heat vision and x-ray vision and super strength and invulnerability, which should be enough for anyone, right? Nope. Not Supes. The guy can have any power the situation demands. Take, for example, super-mathematics.
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Why I Do What I Do And What I Want

wpid-20131108_125408.jpgI’m in a weird mood. Had a very strange dream this morning (documented on Facebook right after I awoke) and I normally don’t remember my dreams, so it started my day off weird. To make matters even more surreal, I’m at the office with two songs by the same band simultaneously swimming through my head — Rainbows And Unicorns and RULZBN? by The Turrettes. Nothing says awesome like making your morning coffee and talking to your boss while your head’s going “FUCKIN A MOTHERFUCKER MOTHERFUCKER FUCKIN A FUCKIN A MOTHERFUCKER MOTHERFUCKER FUCK!” on a loop. So this weird mood is gonna make me tell you a few of the things I do, and why I do ‘em.

I’m in a band. Actually, I’m in three bands, but only one of ‘em is at the all-important “we can play shows and do stuff” stage. I never really considered that I would want to be in a band when I was young, and while I had always enjoyed playing in concert bands and singing in choirs throughout junior and senior high school, it wasn’t in my list of things to do at all. And then an asshole who was at that time a friend of mine needed a bass player. I wound up on stage, and I realized just how much I loved it. When that band fell apart, I kept the drummer (the delicious mister Dongo) and formed a series of new bands that would push my creativity, give me some eerie introspections, connect me in a very surreal way with my dead grandfather, and consume a huge part of my free time. I’m glad that wound up happening. Being a musician, even a shitty one, has been integral to who I am.

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The Profit Motive (Or Shut The Fuck Up And Support Things That Don’t Make You Richer, Pricks)

wpid-FatCat.jpegThis one’s been bugging me all day. I read a great post by Chris Clarke at Coyote Crossing (which you should be reading regularly because it’s an awesome blog) called Failure, and have mulled over my own (many) failures and my own (ugly) financial picture all day as a result. A lot of my frustration stems from the fact that we don’t care about arts anymore if we ever did, and artists these days are either corporate sellouts, people with day jobs, or hungry. You can make a living in the fine arts, but only if you are lucky, if you toe the line, and if you give the rich what they want. There is little to no appreciation of genuine artistic expression.

Don’t believe me? Find me a visual artist who pays their bills without having to do graphic design in their free time. Find me a musician who’s living solely off their music career that doesn’t sound like poppy pap. Find me an author who isn’t writing in the evenings while spending their days doing the same crap you or I do. We don’t patronize the arts at all because the people who can afford to do so don’t see a point in doing it.

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I Challenge The Faithful

wpid-IMG_0235.jpegNo, this isn’t going to be me asking you to prove anything or to donate money to anything. Nope, this is one of those “put up or shut up” challenges, and it only really extends to those people who consider that homosexuality (and all the associated sexual impurities) are condemned by the Bible. I’m specifically speaking of Ephesians 5:1-7, having recently read the details in a post by Ophelia Benson discussing Bishop Chukwuma of Nigeria, and his letter threatening to leave the Catholic Church and set out on his own should the Archbishop of Canterbury not start hating queer folk more.

I’m sure that I have read this particularly chunk of scripture at some point, but I don’t believe it has come to me at any time during my adulthood. Normally when we hear about homosexuality being derided in the Bible it comes from Deuteronomy or my much-enjoyed segment of Romans where God makes people gay. I don’t really take seriously the books like Ephesians, which are really just letters written to members of early churches, but this is definitely intriguing. The passage, quoted from the New International Version reads: Continue reading

Why You Should Vaccinate Against HPV

gardasilThe HPV vaccines have always been controversial. I believe a great deal of this has to do with a prudish attitude towards sex, that if people are catching HPV, they shoulda oughta known better and just said no to the nookie. I have expressed many times how incredibly foolish I consider this notion because people don’t say no. Facts are facts, and using a virus which causes potentially fatal cancers as a punishment for supposed immorality just doesn’t seem like a very virtuous position to take.

Harriet Hall has a fantastic article up at Science Based Medicine entitled Cunnilingus, Michael Douglas’s, Cancer, and the HPV Vaccine which offers some more food for thought on this particular topic. HPV, research has shown, isn’t just responsible for cervical cancer. There’s a whole lot more going on here, including throat cancer (which is markedly on the rise), anal cancers, and esophageal cancer to name a few. That’s a lot of cancer, and oral and anal sex with people with HPV is a significant problem.

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