Monday, October 27, 2008

Tales of the Real Twilight Zone

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of dreams and nightmares, of things and ideas. It is the middle ground between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. That sign post ahead is your destination and your reality: Bored on The Corner.

This article of "Bored on the Corner" is somewhat unique, and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a common metropolitan newspaper. Every day, countless people around the world flip pages like these, reading stories about the world around them, that they usually forget moments later. Unless it's the latest fiasco that a drunken celebrity has gotten him or herself into. But all the time there are stories that, if they are printed at all, are hidden in an unimportant area, labeled as jokes and curiousities. However, every single one of them is true. It just goes to show you that you are just one wrong turn -- or one page turn -- away from truly finding yourself in The Twilight Zone.

Consider the case of a 43 year-old Japanese woman, who had a virtual marriage in the online community called "Maple Story". One day, she finds herself divorced from her digital husband, without any word. What is a jilted technospouse to do? She used her hubby's login to kill her ex-cyberhusband, albeit in digital form. She has been charged with hacking. At first I thought that this was very bizarre behaviour, even for a jilted wife, but how is this any different from an angry spouse that slashes her husband's tires, or drills a hole in his favourite boat?

Then there's 66 year-old Maryanne O'Neill, of Fort Pierce, Florida. Earlier this month, she went into a local Waffle House, ordered a coffee and sandwich, then refused to pay the bill, even when ordered to be police. She was arrested for the misdemeanour, and if convicted, she could be jailed for two months, and fined $500. If you are wondering, her sandwich and coffee would have cost her just $7.45. While this blog is all in favour of sticking to your guns, it also is the first to say that this is just a stupid fight to pick.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, a judge ruled to throw out a lawsuit against God, saying that The Almighty was not properly served, due to His unlisted home address. The lawsuit was filed by Independent State Senator Ernie Chambers, seeking a permanent injunction against God on the grounds that He allegedly made terroristic threats against himself and his Omaha constituents. Supposedly the purpose of the lawsuit, was to prove a point, that anyone should have access to the courts, regardless of whether they're rich or poor. It is beyond me how suing God has anything to do with the average person having his or her day in court, but then again much about religious intolerance baffles me anyway.

Finally, in a case of romance truly being dead, an judge has told an Iowa woman to stay away from her fiancee -- who she is due to marry two weeks -- because in the midst of an argument over her driving, she not only bit her beloved's hand, but ran over his foot. At the risk of making a very cheap joke, my advice to her would-be husband is to run as far away as he can... once the bones have all healed, that is.

What's that you say? Too mundane, is it? Alright, if you want more lurid tales, then I will be happy to oblige. As many of us know, a common feature in Halloween haunt shows is a fake hanging. But I can show you some examples of why this is not a wise thing to try at home. Twice, in October of 1990, teenagers have actually died as a result of these stage stunts gone horribly wrong. The same calamity also happened in October of 2001, under the same circumstances. Each time, the hangings were mistaken for a part of the show.

Before I go, I will provide a public service and remind parents and children alike to be careful of what kind of treats they accept, from certain people. While it's rare for Halloween treats to be poisoned, or to have blades and pins hidden in them, it has happened nonetheless. 1982 was an especially horrid year for these antics. Please be sure to not eat any treats that are homemade, or unpackaged. And boys and girls, please be patient and let your mom and dad check everything you've brought home, before you stuff yourselves with sweets. Thank you.

That's it. I just wanted to show you some of the world's deceivingly colorful locales, and introduce you to some of its more special residents. Fact or urban legend, substance or shadow, but all of it very much a part of The Twilight Zone. So it only goes to show you, that "truth" can easily be stranger than fiction, when you're Bored on the Corner.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Now that the election nastiness is out of the way for the next little while, I'm going to try to lighten this blog up a bit, and go after some really weird and wacky things... like conspiracy theories. You know, those little madcap urban legends that every little thing that annoys us is being done by some secret organization that's usually bent on world domination. Now, I know I've had my moments of random paranoia in this blog (see "Remake Fatigue") but that was definitely not my best day. For instance, Hollywood favouring remakes over original work is more likely a matter of greed and laziness, rather than some kind of suppression. To be honest, I realized that pretty much as soon as I put that episode on-line. The point is, a lot of these so-called conspiracies can be unraveled either through a quick Google search, or by using this funny little thing called your brain.

What got me started on this was this thing that a friend sent me, which is a video by Hal Turner about the so-called Amero, which is supposed to be the currency of the North American Union that's secretly being formed by Canada, America, and Mexico. First of all, I wouldn't believe ANYTHING coming from a guy well known for denying that The Holocaust took place, as well as being stupid enough to threaten several public figures on the air. But, some people took notice when he posted a video showing an Amero coin that was supposedly minted by the U.S. Government. The problem is that even a quick check on Snopes -- you know, those guys who look into urban legends on the internet -- would have shown these people that the coins are collectibles, available since 2005, intended to create discussion on the North American Union. Not endorse it. Besides, it doesn't make sense for even the most right-wing politicians in these countries to support a merger that makes them LOSE money -- something that they're much more concerned about than anything else.

Getting even dumber are the 9/11 theories still going around today, like the whole thing being an inside job, and that the World Trade Center was destroyed by a controlled demolition. Really? As opposed to those two huge jetliners crashing into the middle of the towers, loaded with jet fuel and possibly explosives? Come on, I know that North America isn't exactly bursting with geniuses, but give us some credit. If you take out a support structure, like a wall and any beams behind it, then anything standing on it is going to fall. You don't need an engineering degree to figure that out; it's called "gravity". I don't doubt that the Bush Administration knew about it and did nothing, and I'm willing to entertain the idea that they saw a chance to take as much power as they could, but somehow the idea of them staging the thing seems like a bit of a stretch. After all, Dick Cheney couldn't even shoot a hunting partner without the press jumping all over it, do you really think he could stage a terrorist attack without someone noticing?

Finally, we get to some more current, wide-spread, and encouraged stupidity. Namely, the bullshit being spread about Barack Obama. You know what I'm talking about, those ones that say Obama isn't really a Christian -- even though he took some heat over things that his old PASTOR said. The ones that claim he isn't patriotic, just because he supposedly doesn't wear flag lapels or feature the American flag on his campaign jet, and therefore has some hidden Muslim agenda or whatever nonsense is being said about him this week. As I've said before, people who are so ignorant and racist as to infer that being a non-Christian would somehow make a man dangerous to America, are the last ones who deserve attention or credibility. That being said, let's look into this and more.

Part of the reason for the thing about Obama's supposed lack of patriotism is this photo that shows him not placing his hand over his heart, supposedly during the singing of the national anthem -- though the accuracy of that is vague. The problem is that the actual Flag Code states that persons are also expected to face the flag... and as you can see no one is facing the only flag in this picture. Actually, it's kind of hard to tell what any of them is supposedly facing. In any event, modern custom doesn't actually require the hand-over-the-heart thing, as far as I can tell. Moving on, take a look at this picture of Obama's plane, you know the one that supposedly doesn't have the stars and stripes on it. The tail pretty clearly shows a sun rising over a stylized flag. Furthermore, Presidential candidates have been using planes that didn't have the flag on them for at least ten years -- current contender John McCain being the most recent example -- and no one said a word over it. The same sort of thing goes for the vague and unfriendly association Obama had with former terrorist Bill Ayers -- drawing the conclusion that Obama is a terrorist just because of that is not only unconstitutional, but makes no sense. That's like saying I'm a psychotic Bible thumper, because of my ex-girlfriend being like that. One person's actions do not automatically relate to those of a stranger. Period. This just furthers my belief that if Obama were a white man, with a Christian-sounding name, we wouldn't even be hearing this crap. Heck, I already know that we wouldn't be hearing this nonsense about him being The Anti-Christ, because supposedly The Book of Revelation describes the Anti-Christ as a Muslim. This is complete crap, not only because Obama isn't a Muslim, but because Islam didn't even exist when any part of The Bible was written!

Even though I'm very much in favour of attacking authority and the status quo, a big difference between me and the sort of idiots who would spread conspiracy theories is that I actually check things out first. This is a big reason why even some conservatives respect my views -- I don't just take peoples' word for it. It's ironic that a lot of the wingnuts who make this stuff up say things like "Here's what they don't want you to know", because so many of their rants just fall apart if you think about it at all. Enough said.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Young People Fucking, Part 2!

Well, I'm actually a bit surprised. You all would know by now, I've been following the controversy around the movie Young People Fucking quite closely, and with a certain amount of sarcasm. This was helped by the fact that a while ago, I was able to find it on YouTube and started watching it, but then it got pulled. I saw enough to have a general idea of what it was like, so between that and reading additional reviews I said in a previous episode that it was really overrated as far as filth goes. Well, I finally saw it in full a few days ago -- it turns out that it just now came out on DVD... and it turns out I may have to eat some words.

Now, I didn't see much more in the second half than I did the first half, as far as anything racy goes. That being said, I'll say that chalking up the nudity to "just a couple of boobs and butts" was over simplifying it, there was actually quite a bit of nudity as the movie went on. I'm not terribly bothered by that, but since it could throw some people I should point that out. Also, while the action still isn't super explicit, the staging does get more revealing than I indicated the first time around. I honestly apologize for that.

What this comes down to is the really loaded question surrounding the movie -- is it porn? Well in the hardcore sense, definitely not. As I've said before, there are much more deserving candidates than this in the indie film category. But, by definition you can make a decent argument for it being a kind of softcore. I'll get to that in more detail later.

That being said, to say that movies like this contribute to the so-called moral decay of society is really stretching it. This sort of movie is definitely not marketed to kids, and to be honest it's so obscure outside of cultural circles that I wouldn't be surprised if most people haven't even heard of it. For that matter, it's not the sort of movie that places like Blockbuster just put out front for everyone to see -- in fact, for a while I was convinced that it didn't really carry it, and there was some misprint in the new releases. It was actually buried in a pretty odd place. In other words, if parents actually do their jobs and keep their kids away from this stuff, both by talking about it with them and by actually blocking them from it where necessary, the kids would be fine. To be blunt, it isn't fair to try to censor filmmakers just because some parents are asleep at the switch.

Anyway, the problem with basing a very important public policy on a movie like this is that it's not only wide open to abuse -- as Charles McVety's disturbing attitude towards the harmless Breakfast with Scot makes very clear -- but there definitely needs to be clear, multi-lateral grounds for labelling any movie as obscene. Now, I very rarely agree with the Family Action Coalition on ANYTHING, but as I've said before Young People Fucking *may* indeed qualify as a kind of mild pornography. In any event, the smart thing to do would be to have multiple people in the government review this kind of material... and preferably people who don't have some sort of ax to grind, or a few marbles missing. I can't emphasize that last part enough, not only because of the aforementioned Mr. McVety, but I can honestly remember a Christian group in the U.S. that thought Attack of the Clones was sexually explicit, because Natalie Portman wore a shoulder less dress a couple of scenes. I'm completely serious. People that neurotic about the human body make me wonder if they shower, bathe, and go swimming with their eyes closed.

The really silly part about this was how overblown it got. What any religious group trying to block questionable media never quite seem to realize is that the more you preach against something, the more it becomes known, and the more people get curious about it. In other words, whether this movie was obscene or not, McVety gave it all the free publicity it ever needed, especially by refusing to see the thing in full, and going so far as to flat out lie about it having things like an orgy in it. So if the filmmakers would have been frugal enough to make it as a no-budget movie -- which, take it from someone who's done that, would be easy as pie -- they wouldn't have needed the tax credit in the first place! The ad royalties alone would have made them their money back. But I digress... The point is, censorship is a really dangerous thing for the government to get into, and if it ever does it had better make damn sure it knows what it's talking about. Enough said.

Friday, October 17, 2008

An Open Letter to Stephen Harper and The Tories

Ladies and gentlemen of the Conservative Party of Canada,

Now that you have officially wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars on what turned out to be a minor temper tantrum, you people have lost whatever right you ever had to call yourselves financially responsible. I'm barely employed, and I spend far more prudently than this government ever has.

On behalf of Canadians, I demand two things. 1) That we all get our money back, seeing as this slanderous and illegal election didn't make any difference at all. 2) In order to prevent this nonsense from happening again, grow up, drop the holier-than-thou crap, and listen to/co-operate with the opposition parties. Children are taught to work together, and in most real lines of work this is not only expected but effective. So quit acting like everyone who isn't a Tory is an enemy of the state, it makes you look like even bigger Neanderthals than you already are. The only thing your party has really proven is how much of a joke the political system in this country actually is.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Harper Won... Plan B, Anyone?


Well, the election's over, and what I figured would happen did: most Canadians who bothered to vote at all, didn't support Stephen Harper, but he still got in because the opposition vote was split among the Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois and the Greens -- sort of. In fact, we wound up with almost exactly the same standings that we had before this big prick-waving fight. BUT, I'm not blaming those people for the mess we're in now. I'm blaming the system that jokingly passes for democracy in this country to begin with. It seriously needs to change.

You see, the wacky thing about how we vote both nationally and provincially, is that for some strange reason we can't vote directly for the leader. We can only vote for our immediate representative in Parliament. Between this and what's called our "first past the post" system, it means that just because a party wins in your area, doesn't automatically mean they will form the government. It would be like Americans trying to elect the next President but only being able to vote for their Congressman. It's no wonder a lot of Canadians feel like their votes don't count -- to a large extent, it's the truth.

So at the very least, what needs to be changed is that an extra piece needs to be added to the ballot; in addition to voting for our Member of Parliament, there should be a second section that allows us to vote for the Prime Minister. It's a fairly simple thing. But it probably won't happen, because this country doesn't like to change things.

Another idea that's been kicked around is proportional representation, meaning that every vote does directly count towards how Parliament is made up. The way things are now, you can win half the seats in Parliament with a third of the popular vote, but with this other system, half the vote means half the seats. Period. This was included in Ontario's election last year in a referendum, but unfortunately some idiot or jerk at Elections Ontario decided to phrase the question in such a confusing way that if you didn't read the news very carefully you wouldn't have had a clue what they were talking about. So quel suprise, things didn't get changed. And that's why I doubt it would change now.

So barring that, it seems that the only other way for change to happen in this country is for the opposition parties and their leaders to clean up their act and work together. First of all, Stephane Dion, please grow a backbone; stand up to Stephen Harper when he's clearly out of line, or stand aside for someone who will. Second, everybody please focus on the matters and watch your tempers -- especially you, Jack Layton -- a huge reason why the public doesn't like some of you guys is because they think you're dull, extremist, or way too obsessed with one issue. If you can't do that, then once again, you should make like responsible leaders and stand aside for better people. By the way, it didn't help that at least some of these party leaders spent more time attacking each other than Harper, or for that matter, explaining to people why they should vote for their party. Another thing is that since a lot of the opposition parties actually have more in common than is generally believed, they should strongly consider merging parties. Hell, the only reason Harper is in power at all is because the old Progressive Conservatives merged with the old Reform Party, so there's definitely a tactical advantage to uniting the left.

Let me break it down by using the results of this last election. As you can see, the Tories have the most seats, but still less than half. Now, for the first example, let's combine the NDPs with the Bloc, since they're ideologically similar. Now, they have enough seats to be the lead opposition. If you really want to go all the way, and all of the opposition into one moderate-liberal group, then Harper is suddenly out on his ass. BUT that probably won't happen either, because frankly the party leaders are too self-absorbed to think of anything but their own careers; the idea of serving the public is often just a rumour to them.

So there you go, three simple and practical ways that we could probably get out of this mess, but none of them is likely to happen, because in a nutshell, it's not in the government's interest for the public to really have any control over things. As a result, we are stuck with another few years of Emperor Harper muzzling information, bullying anyone who disagrees with him, breaking the law, starving the public at large, and very likely advancing any agenda put forth by his friends in extremist Christian organizations, who have the nerve to call themselves Family Values groups. Canada, it is long past time that we as a country get our heads out of our asses and stand up for ourselves, and each other. Because it is very clear that we can't trust anyone else to. Enough said.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Liberals may be our best hope.

As everyone in Canada knows by now, we vote on Tuesday. Now, ordinarily I'm not arrogant enough to "tell" people how they ought to vote, at least in any specific terms. I'm also the last person who would agree with any kind of strategic voting; ideally I shouldn't have to do that. The problem is that these are far from ideal times. There is simply too much at stake in this election for people to be silent. So for that reason, I'm reluctantly supporting the Liberal party, and I strongly ask that you all do the same. It's not because I'm a particularly big fan of them, but because they have the best chance of stopping Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

Despite what the Conservative candidates want us to believe, this election has not already been decided, and the non-Tory candidates are certainly not irrelevant. I find it odd that their slogan is to Stand Up for Canada, because all of the things that myself and most people love about this country are the ones that Stephen Harper has wanted to take apart from day one.

I'm standing up for our ability to sustain ourselves, and have our own voice in the world, rather than just doing every little thing that the White House does. I'm standing up for the right of all of us to have good health care, rather than having to choose between having a place to live and getting a heart transplant. I'm standing up the right of our youngsters to have a good start in life, and our older population to retire with peace and dignity. I'm standing up for the right of women to have equal pay to men, and the ability to control their own destiny and bodies. I'm standing up for the right of gays and lesbians to be with the people they love, to the full extent that straight people are automatically entitled to. Most importantly, I'm standing up for our right to speak out without being persecuted, and to disagree with the government without being vilified and attacked. I'm standing up for Canadians of all faiths to be served by the government, not just whichever xenophobic, homophobic, and self-righteous fanatics are on the Prime Minister's speed dial this month. I say we should stand up for our right to be free, to live our lives well, and maybe even to exist at all.

Heck, if you really need proof that Harper and the Tories don't care about the public, consider this: he never released a platform of his own ideas, until earlier this week, a week before the vote, and after the debates and advance polls were done. In other words, he tried for as long as possible to make sure that he could pull a fast one on all of us, and not have to answer for it. And believe me, if you even dare to question the Conservative party, you will be laughed and yelled at by the people representing our so-called down to earth, rightful governing party.

I want to be able to vote for the party that I really support, but the unfortunate thing about the party system in this country is that everything left of the Tories is fragmented four ways. That's the very reason why Harper is in the lead, despite two-thirds of this country not supporting him at all. Since the other parties aren't willing to work together, then we have no choice but to vote for whichever party is immediately behind the Conservatives in the polls. For better or worse, that's the Liberals.

In the last election, Stephen Harper said that when he was through with Canada, we wouldn't recognize it. I agree with him. The Canada that I grew up knowing, the one that I suspect the majority of our soldiers are trying to protect, and that most immigrants want to live in, is one of peace, leadership, and acceptance. That is a Canada that has been vanishing at a frightening rate, in the last two years. It's getting to the point where, as a secular, pro-gay rights, pro-choice, anti-establishment activist, am almost afraid to live here now. So I have to really make an effort to remember that dictatorships in the past have always fallen, even if it's taken decades. I just hope that along the way, not too many people like me are put in prison. Simply put, I want my home back. Enough said.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Canadian Police State

I read in the news this morning, about people having had the brakes of their cars cut, and their homes vandalized, because of who their supporting in an election. This sounds like the sort of thing that you'd hear about in South America, or Zimbabwe... but guess where it actually happened: Mid-town Toronto. The people attacked, were all Liberal supporters. So to anyone who's called me paranoid, when I said Canada is heading for a dictatorship, take a look around!

Apparently this happened last night, to about 14 homes that had Liberal signs set up in their yards. Some of their cars also had key marks scratched into them, and their homes painted with slogans attacking Liberal politicians.

Incidentally, I'm not exagerrating when I say that this is the sort of thing you hear about in foreign police states. Back in the late 80's, when Manuel Noriega was being voted out of power in Panama, he had soldiers roam around the country to arrest, torture, murder, and terrorize anyone supporting his opponent. They were called dignity battalions.

I'm not directly saying the the Conservatives are responsible for this, but as I've said before their supporters are so aggressive and intolerant that I wouldn't put it past them. Besides, the slogans said things like "Bob Rae lies", so this doesn't seem like the sort of thing a stoned teenager would do.

Whoever is responsible for this terrorism, they cannot be allowed to win. To anyone in Canada reading this, do not let anyone bully you, or threaten you, for what you believe is right. This country is above that. And to those cowards who are responsible for this, go take a dive into the St. Lawrence river, this country is a lot better off without you. Enough said.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Uncivil Discourse

So we've had the debates in Canada's sham election, and we're a little over a week away from voting. The last time I had checked, while Harper still has a lead, there's been a drop in confidence, given the very rough time our economy is having right now. So I'm really hoping and praying that things are turning against him. That's right, I'm a public figure, and I have an opinion on how the world works. Live with it.

Things were rough for Harper in the French debates, right away; one of many reasons why the man is called a clone of George W. Bush is because they share the same hands-off attitude about the economy. Basically, their approaches are to ignore what goes on in the world until the corporations cry for more money, at which point Harper or whoever cuts taxes for those who have plenty of cash to spare, but ignores people who have to find three jobs just to get decent groceries. Let's not forget, it's because of this sort of "wait and see" mentality that the stock markets around the world nearly collapsed twice this week. I should also point out that historically the worse economic times in history have been supervised by right-wing governments.

What really got to me, though, was Harper's stance that various inspection agencies should be deregulated and privatized -- in other words, the work done by companies only interested in how much money they make. This is after ample proof that this policy has killed people; one need only look at Walkerton's tainted water problem, or the recent listeria/tainted meat outbreak, or the propane explosion in Toronto, to see how seriously corporate inspectors take their jobs. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association Journal recently attacked Harper over this policy. Guess what his reply was? He blamed it on some sort of conspiracy by the Liberal party.

This is typical, not only of Harper but of anyone I've seen support him. They blame everyone else for getting on partisan high horses, but whenever someone disagrees with the Tories they are branded as left-wing extremists, and often Ottawa tries to silence them altogether. Don't forget, this is the only Prime Minister in recent memory who tells the press what questions they are allowed to ask him, and has seen to it that progressive artists can't afford to spread their views in public. And believe me, if you take complaints to the party itself, they will either ignore you completely, or just treat you like you don't matter. And don't even get me started on some of these psychotic assholes speaking for them in forums -- I've actually seen people say they hope I get kicked out of the country, just because I don't agree with them, and call me a liar because I mention events that are reported in every single newspaper in Canada.

Sure enough, when Harper had his rematch in the English debates, all he did was deny that there is an economic problem -- despite rather clear evidence to the contrary -- and call his opponents useless. His entire strategy thus far has been to say that I'm right, you're wrong, and that's that. So I don't buy this "strong leader" bullshit that's in the Tory propaganda. His attitude says exactly this: "You're either with us, or against us." Where else have we heard that lately? Enough said.