Friday, February 25, 2005

Marshall McLuhan and the Fine Art of Peer to Peer Sharing

"As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes." - M. McLuhan

I know I'm not the first person to have thought about this... but I can't beleive how little about it there is on the vast Inter-Web. Of all places... it's the perfect place for such an idea to germinate...

McLuhan is almost absurdly hailed across the information landscape for his ideas. He was totally brilliant, it's too bad he missed out on this development. (He died in 1980.) He would have been having SO much fun. I only say 'absurd' because of the nigh pop-cult figure that he has become... he has, practically speaking, had his legend fall victim to the very ideas he explored. Which is something he would be fascinated to explore, I have no doubt.
Peer to Peer is one of the most publicly discussed sub-aspects of the internet (now that the web itself has become so big that it has deflated from techno-cultural phenom, to everyday tool.) We even ignore that much of the literature about P2P (including this musing) is disseminated via the internet... which is somehow ironic. We take the internet THAT much for granted that we have practically divorced the idea that P2P is a direct descendant of the original idea.

But I digress from my take off point to tangential thoughts. Back to ones... Googleing (McLuhan would also be all over that!) the Phrases "Marshall McLuhan" and "Peer to Peer" garners less than 800 hits - and while I haven't sifted through them all I expect there's a significant number of duplicate hits and a certain percentage of garbage hits. Of the genuine ones - yoiks! - is there ever a lot of intractible verbiage. You don't have to be a media-philosopher to grasp it all, but I have no doubt that if I were more versed in such thought I'd have less trouble untangling it.

(A McLuhan primer.)

Extending McLuhan-esque thought to the internet is close to a no-brainer... the caveat being that having even a moderately functional handle on McLuhan's philosphy (which is no less than I claim to have) does require a certain level of brain power. Why has there been no great insight into how it applies to Peer to Peer sharing? It ought to be decisive in my mind.

This past week Garry Trudeau has finally been exploring the same thoughts I've had (albeit tongue in cheek) in his daily Doonesbury cartoon.
Yay, Garry. That pretty much says it all.

"I think of art, at its most significant, as a DEW line, a Distant Early Warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it. " - M. McLuhan

Artists are going to lose the battle if they adhere to the increasingly antiquated idea that they are going to make money through the sale of their work. Let me rephrase that. The battle is over - for some reason they are still wasting effort in fighting it. I suppose there is still money to be made in the old ways, but the reality is that a new way must be found.

"A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." - M. McLuhan

Musicians are coming off looking pretty bad. I was told by a musician that I was "going to go to Hell" for file sharing. This was a musician who's career amounts to... diddly squat. He has released nothing on any label - independently or otherwise. He is personally losing NOTHING by having files shared. Which by extension means that he has the most to gain by embracing a new way ahead of the pack. The obtuseness fucking boggles my mind.

"The winner is one who knows when to drop out in order to get in touch." - M. McLuhan

I myself work in an industry that is impacted by P2P - currently less than music, but the slide has long since begun - the film industry. I, akin to my cranky musician friend, have made very little money in this field. But my first two movies are in various stages of production (my first is currently being edited; the second goes to camera in two weeks (which begs the question what am I doing wasting my time blogging)). I haven't found the answer as to how to best capitalize on film-making in a world where films are made more and more easily by anyone (myself included) and distributed basically for free by the viewers.

Now, there is a significant thought - "distributed free by the viewers." Distribution costs... next to nothing. Income, sadly, next to nothing. Gawd... does that mean having to rely on product placment for income? Yes. It most likely does. I hate that. Sorry Naomi Klein, I probably have to do a bad thing...

So, what about the musicians... product placement in a song? Obviously not. (Please tell me I'm not speaking too soon.)

"Art is anything you can get away with." - M. McLuhan

Doonesbury has it right. It's a reversal of the paradigm.

Once upon a time, music was all about the live performance. Then the recording industry came along and essentially changed all that. Touring and concerts became promotional tools for selling records (those are those big black CDs with two sides). (Yeah, yeah there were exceptions like the Rolling Stones retirement fund tour #3, but you need to be the Rolling Stones in order to have that work in your favour.) But P2P changes that. With sales going in the toilet, the focus changes again. The concert becomes the special thing. It becomes where the musician makes their money. It also most likely reduces their sphere of influence. More and more people will be downloading the music of the artists that they are most able to go and see at local venues. That doesn't mean that U2 will now only play in Dublin - there will always be international acts. But the focus will shift to those that get out to the 'people' and the 'people' will generally shift their focus to who they are most able to see.

Speaking of U2... they know it. The entire "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" was stolen thing... I've been a U2 fan for long enough that I come off sounding like one of those "I was there first" boasting assholes. I didn't try particularly hard, but I couldn't find a copy of Vertigo to save my life. The best I could do was get a copy of a Bono sound alike doing a passable job and getting a bit of mis-managed self-promotion in. Mis-managed? You bet. I haven't got a clue who it was. I'm betting that that song (which was reasonably good) was downloaded a lot. It could have sparked a career if it had been better planned out.

"Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century." - M. McLuhan

Have you seen the price of a U2 concert ticket this year? The price for THE CHEAPEST TICKETS IN THE GM PLACE are close to THREE TIMES what I paid for SCALPERS TICKETS in 1992. And in 1992 the scalpers tickets were going for what we then considered outrageous prices. Tell me now where U2 is making their money? The obvious answer is "ticket sales." The correct answer is "P2P."

"I don't necessarily agree with everything I say. " - M. McLuhan... although I wish I'd said it myself.

In celebration of these thoughts, go and download "The Ballad of Marshall McLuhan" by "The Vestibules" and have a laugh at the irony, if not the song.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

We said it... time to pony-up.

Well, it's official. We said 'no.' Yay!

I didn't say I would vote Liberal if we said 'no' to joining in the North American Missile Defense Shield. But the chances of me voting Liberal have increased significantly... Federally.
Provincially... well, not only will there be an NHL season before that ever happens, but Lucifer himself will be lacing up.

Now the big issue surrounding this is Canada 'forfeiting our soveriegnty.'

Ummm, let's see... fuck you, U.S.A.

We are our own nation. We are defending our own air-space. Now if you feel like you have to pick off any Korean bogeys that rain down on Toronto without calling up our Prime Minister, then you are involved in an illegal act. Admittedly, we probably won't make a big stink about it, but that doesn't mean it's not an international offense.

Don't expect us to be thankful for your benevolence.

In fact, this has more to do with maintaining our sovereignty than relinquishing it. If we were cozied up to the big-dog, we'd really be letting it take care of us. At least we're trying to be independent. If the U.S. decides to shoot down missiles that are flying over Canada... well, if they're heading for the U.S. I would pretty much expect them to take them out as soon as feasible - no matter over whose airspace the missiles are. I just hope they have the good grace to clean up the debris when they are done. Doesn't mean that they haven't violated our air-space, and while it's more than likely a moot point, if we had to do the same, I'd expect the exact same attitudes to be reversed.

It is significant that it is moot though. We haven't managed to incite the ire of so many of the worlds other nations. If the States REALLY wants to challenge our sovereignty - however they should so choose to do it - I actually in some dark manner welcome it.
Sure. Go ahead. Treat us - arguably your biggest trade ally - that way if you so choose... it only makes you look worse. And the worse you look the closer you are to having to deal with the fallout of your actions. It's coming. It's coming relatively soon. I hope soon enough that I get to see it happen. Not out of a sense of vengeance or hatred - more because I'm fascinated to see where the chips fall. It is inevitable. The only question is "when?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Just Say "No" to American Defense

I suppose I can see the other side's P.O.V. - they don't really care to get blown to holy-fuck. But, really - that is my P.O.V. too.

The further we can distance ourselves from the U.S. the better. If we willfully say "No, we don't want to be part of your missile defense plan" I think that there's a reasonable chance that we will be seen to be actively distancing ourselves from them and their wicked government's ways, and that we'll simply be left alone.

I admit that there are some easy to argue elements to that position, but really, I want to live in the country that has the balls to take the chance - the country that believes that there is a better way.

C'mon P.M. the P.M. we made one bold stand, lets do it again. I know you've got a minority government and that things are shaky on that ground. I can tell you this. I didn't vote Liberal last election, I'm not likely to vote Liberal next election. If we go in cahoots with the U.S. on missile defense, my chances of voting Liberal dwindle to next to nothing. If Canada refuses to be a part of the Missile Defense Shield, I will regain a significant amount of faith in Liberals... may even consider floating my electoral support that way... not that a vote for the Federal Liberals counts for much in B.C.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Adrian Clarkson and the Stanley Cup

This news is so new I can't even find a hit on it yet.

Adrian Clarkson, Canada's Governor General has suggested that the Stanley Cup be awarded this year... to the best Women's Hockey Team.

Who gets to play for it? The NWHL? Anyone who can put together a credible team?

I don't know. I kind of like the idea of the latter. Exactly what constitutes a 'credible team' would need to be defined. But it would harken back to the original days of the Cup - awarded to the best team in hockey, and virtually anyone could challenge for it. Eventually they had to become more structured., not be a 'challenge cup.'

What the heck, take all the major women's teams and round out the field with a few wild-card teams... imagine being the best team in your rec-league and suddenly find yourself playing for the Stanley Cup. Why not 32 teams in a standard 5 round elimination playoff. Say 3 games in the first round. 5 games in the second. 7 in each of the quarter; semi; and final rounds.

The Cup SHOULD NOT GO unawarded. It would just be wrong. And awarding it to a junior team seems not right. While many juniors will never have the opportunity, being men, they do in theory have the opportunity. The best of them will go on to the NHL and some of them will eventually raise the chalice. Not so for the women.

The most storied women yet to play hockey are playing the game today - let them play for the Stanley Cup, just once.

Addendum: A Link!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Random Clean Up

A few brief notes - as I am swamped in pre-production for my next film - the working title of which is "Men's Only."
I'm really hoping to come up with something better than that as a title.
Titles have always been one of my bugbears. Sometimes a brilliant title will present itself. "Don't Ask Me. I Just Live Here." came to me in a dream and I wrote a play around it. It won an award.
"Sarcophagus" although never produced, also won an award. In my mind it's the only name for the play (about the Chernobyl accident.) the themes in the play, plus the real-life significance of the term 'sarcophagus' with regards to the accident. Unfortunately, there is already a play about the accident which is also called "Sarcophagus." So mine had to become "Sarcophagus: A Nightmare" - and really, if it is ever produced (which will likely require a rewrite) it will probably need another naem entirely. In that case, my pre-conceptions are really going to get in my way. Someone else will likely have to name it.
"Scarlet to Starlet" - the first time I was ever commissioned to write a play is a title I hate. It means so little in terms of what the play is about, and to the degree that it does mean something, it only serves to elliptically give away the end. (Although you'd have to be pretty brilliant to figure it out from the title.) I wanted to call it "Bedknobs and Boomsticks" but the Revelstoke Mountain Arts Council - who commissioned me - refused. Fair enough. Their dime.
"Sons of Cohen." While not brilliant, has always been the right title for that film. It's about two guys who think they're Leonard Cohen's sons.
Probably my best result when it comes to uninspired titles has to be "Steel & Ice" - which for a long time was called "Untitled Hockey Movie." Not a great title, but totally serviceable.
"The Beast of Bottomless Lake" is laughable in terms of how many names it has had, including "Ogopogo", "'Pogo" and my personal favourite "The Nightmare Beast of Blood Lake: A Scientific Overview." That last one was such a high-concept joke that only Keith and I got it. The title died with him.
My two favourite titles are both for unfinished works. "Divorce Club" - which pretty much says it all. And "Double Identity" - which is a pun on "Double Indemnity" of course, and which makes more and more sense the more about the film you know... but I'm going to play my cards close to my chest on that one for now.

I went down to the Union office today to apply for waiver status for "Men's Only." And they were closed! For 'Heritage Day' - I'd never heard of it. Just my luck. Life is playing games with me this week. My original plan was to go in today, but then I changed shifts on Friday and I planned to go in then instead - just so there was more time... but then first thing in the morning Clint called and asked if I could come in to work earlier than intended - I could use the money, so I agreed and put off going to the UBCP office until today again. Well... so much for that idea. Luckily, I am starting late each of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Christ.

It seems Markus Naslund agrees with me about Steve Moore. - See my post on the Bertuzzi Trial.

C'est tout.

- K

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Who's the Boss?

When I started a few days ago, I chose the blog title "What's Your Problem. Canada?" after a still-born T.V. magazine I was involved in a few years back. I've always kept the name in the back of my head as a title for... something. Over the years I've kind of come to know that whatever it became it would probably focus on Canada's relationship with the U.S. It's actually surprising that my Urgemagnet column, didn't get titled "What's Your Problem,Canada?" but the American Gothic graphic just couldn't be ignored, and the accompanying title simply had to be.

So far, any connection to my opinions about the U.S. has been tenuous at best. And once again, this post is going to largely ignore the originally intended theme. However, at least this time I'll be talking about an American Cultural Icon...

The other day I was waiting for a bus at a stop outside of a magazine store.
In the window of the store a magazine was being displayed that seemed to be dedicated to The Boss. Every single article in it was about Bruce Springsteen. Every one. Seems a bit excessive to me - an entire magazine about one person... mind you there is a magazine called 'Oprah' so who knows what niche markets are going to appeal to a broad enough segment as to warrant an entire magazine.
One of the articles touted on the cover was something to the effect of "Celebrities pick their top Springsteen songs of all time!" Which makes me ask - "Why do I care?" Why do I want to know what Scott Weiland or Sandra Bullock think are their favourite E-Street tracks? I don't really. But it got me thinking, what are MY favourite Springsteen songs of all time? Not that me telling you is really any different than Jon BonJovi telling me...
Bruce Springsteen. I'm not a particularly big fan. I respect him, for certain, but I wouldn't include myself among the true believers. I own a whopping three of his albums, one of which is a Greatest Hits package... which in my mind is a mark of a band-wagon jumper. Why would a real fan have a 'Best of' album? They should already have all the best stuff right? Point being, I'm about to pass judgement on a subject I'm not terribly well informed upon... not the most enlightened of positions, but I have to think that the Socratic admission of ignorance is worth something.
I remember when the Born in the U.S.A. album came out - it was also about the time that Much Music premiered. I recall seeing the 'Dancing in theDark' video and thinking it was a pretty cool song - and that chick he pulled out the crowd was pretty cute...
A few more singles came out - I think 'Bobby Jean' was next; and then the eponymous track. Then my Dad bought the album. I recall thinking "Way to go, Dad. This album is OLD already." I was a young teen, so my idea of old vs. new was pretty skewed. The album stayed in the top ten for something like a year and a half after that point producing no less than three more hit singles: "Glory Days" "My Hometown" "I'm on Fire" possibly more - I remember thinking that virtually every song on the album was a hit. That was a bit of exaggeration.

So what is Bruce's greatest song?
How do you define it?

"I'm on Fire" has been remade by a variety of artists including Tori Amos and Johnny Cash. Each one markedly different from the others, and each one a little gem of a song. That's a mark of a good song - that it can be remade with such breadth successfully. Look at Elton John's "Rocket Man" - none of William Shatner, Kate Bush or William Hung could ruin it. Hell, even Elton John couldn't ruin it.

What made the biggest impact to his career? Well, an argument can be made that no song does more than the first release - as if you didn't impress with it, there wouldn't be any others, but that aside...
"The River" - possibly. Definitely a great song. It's the absolute essence of the Springsteen ethic, with it's bleak blue-collar story-telling. Shot-gun weddings, union-cards, the empty passion of nihilistic youthful sex and mourning lost childhood. Springsteen arguably wrote this song over and over again for the next fifteen years... which is also it's failing.
"Born in the U.S.A." - Possibly the most misunderstood song he ever wrote. Leave it to heartland America to miss the point. Perhaps the song itself is at fault. It's anthemic chorus certainly seems victorious. But listen to the rest. The song could not possibly be much more cynical. It features one of the most brilliant lyrics I've ever heard. After three verses of two sets of paired rhyming couplets, he drops a line. "Had a brother at KheSahn/Fighting off the Viet-cong/ They're still there, he's all gone..." ... and then nothing. The simplicity of it is staggering. The listener's expectations are all set-up by the previous verses and then the loss of the brother is echoed by the gaping absence of a lyric. Amazing. Infuriatingly basic. But what is infuriating is that I didn't think of it first.

But I think that Bruce has got one collection of songs... er, I guess that's an album... that is different. Songs of hope. Songs of patriotism. Lyrically and sonically beyond most of his past work. Yet, in relative terms it was largely ignored. Mind you it was released in a different world - popular music fragmented, rock losing ground, P2P sharing knocking the hell out of the music industry... and of course that little matter of someone thinking it was a cool political statement to fly a plane into a building.
Now, it's going to become viciously apparent as I continue to post that I am among the less sympathetic of people when it comes to the 9/11 disaster. I won't get into it now, but suffice to say that it was a terrible thing - I just think that the American response kind of misses the point.
Having said that - "The Rising" nails the human aspect of it perfectly for me. Song after song, Springsteen explores a new side of the tragedy and taps into a new voice. It's a love-letter to New York. It's an exploration of heartbreak. An evokation of the inexplicable. A humble salute to heroism. I'm stuck as to what the best song amongst them is... "Nothing Man" the lament of a Fireman who survived while the rest of his crew died; "Into the Fire" - the mournful voice of a family member of a lost rescue worker; or the unadulterated victorious pride of the title track...

No definitive answer. Just an overview.

That was kind of a fun exploration... I may have to do that with other artists. Take that as a threat.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bringing Hockey & Court Battles Together Under One Post

Hockey is cancelled (although the news is now saying they may reneg on the cancellation and make a retroactive save of the season - I guess the finally clued in as to how fucking dumb losing a season is) and yet there's still so much to talk about on that front.
Another high-profile court case - at least if you're a hockey fan.

The Bertuzzi trial.

Really I just need to weigh in on the initial incident.

Bertuzzi blew it. Let me be clear about that, 'cause an awful lot of what follows is going to come across in his defense and appear as though I'm blaming the victim. Well, to a degree, I am. Bertuzzi blew it, but Steve Moore was dressed like he was asking for it. Yeah, yeah, blast me for that one.

So, who is right? I don't think anyone involved is. That makes it really hard to say Bertuzzi deserves to be vilified for time immemorial. It makes it hard to penalize the entire team for the playoffs. (The Canucks lost in the first round in game 7 overtime to the Calgary Flames who went 7 games in the final for the Stanley Cup, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's hard to imagine hockey history not being significantly different if the best power forward in the game had been allowed to play for the Canucks.)

Who is wrong? Bertuzzi.
What did he do wrong? Really, all he did is punch Moore from behind. Bad choice. No two ways about it. It's against the rules.
What has been exaggerated? Bertuzzi riding Moore head first to the ground. Watch the video. Bertuzzi did nothing of the sort. Yes, they fall, Bertuzzi comes down on top of Moore. He fell. Nothing premeditated about that. And watch what happens next - one - two Colorado player dog-pile Bertuzzi and Moore. That's a lot of sweat drenched, fully geared hockey player. No wonder his neck was broken.
Who is wrong? The N.H.L.
What did they do wrong? Once again the NHL is being contradictory. Moore hits Naslund. Naslund knocked unconscious - cannot play. Moore is suspended? No. Penalized? No. It was a 'clean hit.' Well, that's pretty arguable. But 'it was a clean hit' and the NHL does not have a policy of 'penalizing the severity of the injury.'
The Canucks lost their top scorer on a contentious hit that was not penalized - naturally they were pissed off. And it wouldn't be the first time in the League that players got steamed and developed a sense of retribution. That sort of emotion was once a corner-stone of the game. Ask old-timers. Old rivalries were at the heart of the game and those rivalries were fueled by the tit-for-tat of the physicality of the game. Many detractors of the game cite today's lack of passion as one of the failings of the modern NHL. The NHL covered their ass in a legal sense by saying all the right things before the game, but they really fell short of any actual action - 'cause everyone knows that the rough side of the game buoys a lot of it's gladiator appeal.
How are they hypocrites? This is a no-brainer. Moore - no penalty. Bertuzzi - is still suspended (yes, it's currently moot). If they're aren't penalizing the injury, but are penalizing the intent to injure. I can't see how you can differentiate between the two hits. Both were willful, both were intended to injure. The penalty to Bertuzzi is technically a different issue entirely, but the lack-of-penalty to Moore is absolutely a major cause. Had Moore been properly penalized, the players would have had less to avenge, would have felt less like they needed to take matters into their own hands, less need to set things right.
Who is wrong? Steve Moore.
What did he do wrong? He wouldn't face the music. Why did Bertuzzi sucker punch him? Because Bert gave Moore every chance in the world to drop the gloves and take it like a man. It's the unwritten code of hockey. Hit Gretzky, you gotta duke it out with Semenko. Bertuzzi followed Moore around the ice for that entire shift - and previous ones - challenging him to drop his gloves. Moore was obligated by the code of hockey to put up his dukes and defend his own poor-choice. Punters don't go after super-stars without repercussion. It's the way it HAS to be - or else we won't have super-stars. There ya go. I'm blaming the victim.
Who is wrong? Tony Granato - Avs Coach.
What did he do wrong? It was a blow-out. The Avs were up by 6 goals. There were minutes left in the game. It's a classic bad situation. It's exactly when fights break out. Happens all the time - it's practically expected. (Which in certain way's makes Moore's cowardice all the more reprehensible.) But really, considering that there was 'a bounty' on Moore's head. Granato had NO BUSINESS putting him on the ice. None what so ever. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know hockey - and that includes Granato. The Avs had virtually an entire bench worth of players to put on the ice in lieu of Moore.
Who is wrong? The Canucks.
What did they do wrong? They all blew their sense of vengeance out of proportion. They were all carried away. Practically any of them could have been the one to go too far. It's amazing it wasn't Brad May, who was so fired up that he challenged Avs enforcer Peter Worrell - who seriously outsizes May - to TWO separate fights. May still had the jam to score BOTH of the Canucks goals. He was so charged up that he arguably had the best game of his career on the team's darkest night. Crazy how things go that way sometimes.


Bertuzzi was in error. He's not denying that, he plead guilty. He's taking the brunt of the blame - which is where the reality of the situation breaks down. The culpability on this one is spread vegemite on a cheese-sandwich down under.

Now, here's what makes no sense to me... where is the civil trial filed and being held? Denver. Where did the game happen? Vancouver. Where is the defendant's home? Vancouver. Steve Moore is from Windsor Ontario for fuck's sake! Moore filed in Denver because it provided the best chance of a big payout - possibly bigger than a role-player like him would ever make in his meager NHL career. I think that playing the system like that is as reprehensible as a sucker punch - possibly more so. In my world, that suit gets thrown out of court faster than an Al MacInnis slapshot. File in Vancouver - Canada even - and it's fair game... regretable, but fair game.

Free Bertuzzi and play Hockey!

- K

Jury Suitability

Back to Jack...

I probably would have made a good O.J. juror - apart from being Canadian. I could have cared less about the trial, and knew relative diddly-squat about it when it started. I was a real rarity.

For Jackson, I'm pretty confident I'd be a lousy juror. I know too much already. I didn't like M.J. from the outset. I have largely made up my mind already. About the only thing going in my favour is that I really do think he deserves as unbiased a trial as possible - which is exactly why I don't think I'd be a good juror, kind of a paradox there.

My voracious need for Jackson trial data has temporarily been stalled by his 'sickness' - oh to be in the limo for that. "Oh, Tito, I think I'm feeling a little...*cough* - *cough*... could we turn the car around please? I don't think I can go to court today."

Jesus. Jackson on trial. It'd be easier to play football with a Fabrege egg.

The trickle of news items about his illness are about as exciting as sitting around the castle watching your arrows warp. So in the meantime, I've dug up the pre-trial questionairre for prospective jurors. And just for fun, and in these earliest days of my blog to offer a crash course in getting to know me...

1) Juror Number: 44 (Let's just call it a favourite number of sorts.)
2) Gender: Male
3) Please stat your age: 35
4) Is English your first language? Yes.
5) How long have you lived in Santa Barbra county? (Let's make that the Lower Mainland.) 9 1/2 years. In California? (Make that British Columbia.) 35 years.
6) What is your current area (I.E. city) of residence including your zip code? Vancouver - V5E 1L6
7) How long have you lived at your current residence? 9 months
8) Do you Own, Rent, Neither? Rent.
9) Marital Status (Single - Never married, Married, Separated, Divorced, Widowed, Single - Living with significant other)? Single - Never married
10) If married, how long have you been married? N/A
11) If living with a significant other, how long have you lived with this person? N/A
12) If married of living with a significant other, what is your spouse's or significant other's occupation? N/A
a. If he or she is retired or unemployed, what was his or her occupation before retiring or being unemployed? N/A
b. If married or living with a partner, what is his or her level of education? N/A
c. If previously married, what was your former spouse's occupation? N/A
13) Do you have children, step-children or foster children, and if so do any live at home? No, and by extension, no.
14) Please list the age, sex, occupation or area of study and marital status of each of your children or step-children: N/A
15) What are/were your parent's occupations? Mother: Educator (Teacher & Administrator) & City Councillor Father: Financial Comptroller for an airline.
16) If anyone else is living in your home, what is his or her relationship to you, age and occupation? N/A
17) Where do you fall in terms of age in relation to your siblings? Naturally, oldest. If step-siblings are considered, 2nd youngest of five.
18) What is your highest level of education completed? Bachelor of Fine Arts
19) Have you ever taken any law courses? No
20) Have you ever worked or volunteered for a child advocacy group or for a group dealing with child saftey, child abuse or mistreatment, or children's rights? No.
21) Have you ever had any training, education or jobs or have you ever done any volunteer work in any of the following areas? Banking/Finance; Corrections/Jail/Prison; Drugs/Alcohol; Engineering; Entertainment/Performing Arts; Handwriting Analysis; Forensic sciences; Firearms/guns; Genetics/DNA; Journalism/News; Investigations; Laboratory science; Justice systems/courts; Local/state government; law enforcement; Pathology; medicine nursing; statistics; Mental health; TV/Radio; Police Proceedures; Telecommunications; Science or Biology; Victims of crimes; Security; Women's Rights Organizations: Whew! Well... Corrections/Jail/Prison, Entertainment/Performing Arts, Journalism/News, TV/Radio
22) What is your present employment status? Full-time job plus self-employed activities.
23) What is your present occupation? No simple answer here - the waged job I have is in the horse racing industry - the betting portion of it. That's as far as I'm going at the moment. Not because it's illegal - it's totally legit. But I'm going to play paranoid about all the people getting fired for talking about work in their blogs...
My self-employed work is all in the entertainment industry - variously acting, writing for stage and screen as well as directing, producing and editing film... why I can't make ends meet doing all that is beyond me.
24) Have you, your relatives, or anybody close to you ever been diagnosed with any form of cancer? Yes. (How many people can honestly answer 'no' to this?)
25) Do you think your feelings about or experiences with people from different races might affect your ability to serve as a fair and impartial juror in this case? I don't think so. But by the same token I know that I've found that a lot of people who I would classify as racist don't think that they are, so I could be deluding myself. I often find potentially racially offensive jokes funny - but I can say that I find (admittedly rare) Irish jokes as funny as any that are directed at people of races that I am not a member of. The degree to which I am a racist, I am with impunity - everyone's a little bit racist some times, right Avenue Q?
26) Were you or a close family member ever in the military or reserves? No.
If yes, answer the following:
a. Who was in the military? N/A
b. What branch? N/A
c. Date of service? N/A
27) Have you ever served on a jury before? No.
If you have served on a jury before, please answer the following:
a. Please provide the following information for each case in which you served: Year; Civil or Criminal; Verdict Reached. N/A
b. Were you ever the foreperson? N/A
c. Have you ever served on a GRAND JURY before? N/A
If yes, please describe where and when: N/A
28) Have you or a family member ever made any type of claim for money damages? No
If yes, please explain: N/A
29) Have you ever been involved in a lawsuit (other than a divorce proceeding), including giving a deposition? Yes.
If yes, were you the Plaintiff; Defendant; Witness or Other? Witness
Please explain: Two separate occassions. Both car accidents. In the first case the defendant was representing himself and called me in to testify as a witness to the accident. I was the sole witness to the event. There was never any real doubt in my mind as to the fault - I suspect that the forensic evidence would have supported my belief. The defendant was utterly at fault. Yet he was under the misconception that because I ran to his aid that I was 'on his side.' The other driver was ambulatory immediately after the accident, the defendant was not - I ran to help the one who appeared to be in jeopardy. On the court date, the defendant did not show for trial.
In the second case, I was one of several witnesses. Two young-teen girls on a joy-ride narrowly missed the vehicle I was in, side-swiped a parked car and took off around the corner... where they immediately ran into (literally) a police car. Again, there wasn't really much question as to the guilt. On the court date she pleaded guilty and I never had to testify.
30) Have you, any friends or relatives ever been involved in law enforcement (for example, F.B.I., D.E.A., Sheriff's Department, County Prosecutor's Office, California Highway Patrol, Attorney General's Office, U.S. Attorney's Office) or been emploted by any such agency? No... I guess. Not in the U.S. A close friend was in the Canadian Military Police. My Mother's cousin (is that my second cousin?) is in the V.P.D. I haven't seen him in... 7 years.
31) Have you, any relatives, or close friends ever been ARRESTED or ACCUSED of a criminal offense (other than minor traffic violations)? No.
32) Have you or any member of your family, or close friends, ever been the VICTIM of or WITNESS to a serious crime? No.
33) Have you or any relative of close friend ever been ACCUSED OF inappropriate sexual behavior? No.
34) Have you or any relative or close friend ever been THE VICTIM OF inappropriate sexual behavior of any kind? A qualified 'no.' Above and beyond the 'not that I know of' caveat, I did have a teacher in high-school who, the year I graduated was arrested and convicted of sexually abusing his young male students. Naturally I was questioned as to whether I experienced any similar attention. I hadn't. But in the light of the revelation that it had been going on around me, I certainly looked at a few incidents in my time as a student of the person in question a little differently. Perhaps even as 'close calls.' Luckily I was far too goofy back when he was my teacher. I blossomed later.
35) How much have you read or watched about the current Michael Jackson case? Lots. Like, lots and lots, 'lots.'
36) How frequently have you discussed this case with frineds, co-workers, or family members? Lots.
37) Do you know, or have you read, seen, or heard ANYTHING about the publicity regarding the 1993-1994 investigation against Michael Jackson? Yes.
38) Do you or any family members or close friends know Michael Jackson? No.
If yes, please explain: N/A
39) Have you ever known anyone who has met Michael Jackson or spent any time at Neverland? No.
40) Do you have any religious or other beliefs that would make it difficult for you to sit in judgment of another person? Not at all.
If yes, please explain: N/A
41) Do you have specific health, hearing, or vision problems of a serious nature that might make it difficult for you to sit as a juror on this case? I do have aproblem that makes it difficult for me to literally sit for long periods of time. I had a roller-blade accident that caused permanent damge to my sciatic nerve. It's way better now than it has been in the six years since the accident, but still... day after day of sitting only makes it worse again, this is demonstratable.


Juror number 44.


I avoid the O.J. trial like the plague. Mind you, by some weird twist of fate, I managed to miss the initial incident of the O.J. trial completely too, so I got off to a good start.
I had been on tour with a comedy troupe - The Juanabees - and the morning of the infamous slow-speed white-bronco chase, The Juanabees left Montreal for a four day drive to Minneapolis which has since become infamous in it's own right in certain circles. (Perhaps I'll illuminate that some day.) On our way down the Death-Star Trench known as the de Carie expressway, our radio lost it's signal just as the first glimmer of news about something involving O.J. Simpson was aired. It was taken over by static. We turned off the radio and as happened so often when we were on tour, we dissappeared into a two-week news-less vacuum. (Three years earlier it took me ten days to find out that the Soviet Union had politically disintegrated. A fact all the more remarkable by right of us being on tour with a group of Russians!)
The similarity in the Blake trial has left me cold... and it seems that many people are reacting similarly.

But then there's Michael Jackson...

I can't stop watching. I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about it.

My sister must have played two copies of 'Thriller' into the ground when we were kids. Maybe even three. My University room mate listened to some of the most egregious music I can think of - including a (ahem) healthy dose of M.J. (Hall and Oates and anything by Prince - not just his scattered brilliant stuff - we're also on his aural menu.) The man really had no sense of the obligations university students have to listen to cutting edge music. (Admitting that what I listened to in my first years of university was within a few years mocked by the phrase "Alternative to what?") But I digress...

I loathed Michael Jackson. And the incessant subjection to him that I endured only made it worse.

I managed to avoid Michael Jackson for years - excepting a brief window where I played in a band that did a kick-ass country and western version of 'Beat It' - we argued that it was about a gun-fight. And while I had my back turned, Michael just got weirder and weirder. I'm sure you've noticed. I barely even raised my head for the first round of alleged pedophillia.

But then the Bashir interview/documentary came out. I don't know if it was by accident, or by design, but it got recorded in my household. My then fiancee, if she recorded it, practically forgot about it - but once I started watching, I never stopped.
I guess it's part schadenfreude. But I think part of it is revenge. I feel like this is my retribution towards M.J. for every time I had to listen to P.Y.T. or Black/White. It's me getting to indulge my Self-Righteousness Junkie tendencies and be right about Jacko all along.
It's akin to me wishing that I could have been a fly on the wall when all the head-banger dick-heads from high-school found out that Rob Halford was gay. What a laugh that would have been! What were they thinking? "London Leather Boys?" It was always there. Tee hee.

I guess it sounds like I've already made up my mind. Well, I guess I have. I do have an extremely strong suspicion. It looks bad. (No pun intended.) Even if he is innocent, he needs to have someone sit him down and explain to him that it doesn't matter what he believes is sweet and good; that it doesn't matter how much money he has and how many 'yes-men' he has in his court, majority of us on this planet... hell, you don't even have to go that far... the majority of us on this continent - even just the U.S. - DO NOT THINK IT'S SWEET. And the second he had even ONE suggestion that something innappropriate was happening, the only right thing to do was to from that moment on ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make certain that any children in his presence were ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS accompanied by an adult who was neither Jackson nor under his employ.

He has said "people don't understand." No, Michael. The score is YOU don't understand. Even if you are innocent, it looks bad. Even if every staunch Jackson fan-come-supporter could be counted in favour of molesting children he'd still be out numbered - probably millions to one. It's absurd to suggest that the majority is wrong - especially in the light of what now is daily becoming more and more overwhelming evidence.

This has been a long pre-amble for where I was heading...

I think I'll call this a post, and make my original thought a separate one.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

No Hockey, No Cry

A complete and utter lie on my part.

I am fucking appalled at the decimation of the NHL season yesterday.

In my Urgemagnet ( column, I write about how "If I Ran the NHL." I don't know much about business. And I really don't want to run the NHL, I don't think I could do a very good job. I reall just write the column to explore amusing - facetious, even -possibilities. What if hockey drafting was locally focussed? What if fighting was a strategically mandated part of the game? What if the league bit the bullet and switched to international ice dimensions? Blah blah blah blah. Musings for fun's sake and very little attention to the reality of the impact on the game... which I am beginning to suspect is Gary Bettman's approach as well.

I think the players are being fools. I think that cost-certainty and a salary cap are the inevitable future of the game and trying to hold it off is as short-sighted as musicians who are fighting the world of P2P sharing, rather than finding a new way in a new economy. Bettman is absolutely right; by allowing the situation to get to this stage, the players have ensured that they are now negotiating in a world where cost-certainty is going to be a necessity of any future C.B.A.
He is bang on about the fact that there is no way of knowing what this is now going to do to franchise and league values. A franchise $1.49 cannot afford a 42 million salary cap. I exaggerate, of course, but the point remains the same.

The players may be fools, but Bettman may as well have concluded his press conference on Wednesday with "...and as a result of my failure to see this through to an agreement, I cannot conscionably continue in the position of Commissioner of the NHL." ...or words to that effect. He has lost the owners an outrageous amount of money - utterly outreageous. Fairweather fans have shown their true colours, and die-hard fans are either angry or despondent. It is ALL bad.

There is simply no excuse. Perhaps it was a losing proposition from square one, but I can't imagine that there wasn't some way that Bettman could have headed this off - before this lock-out began, before he inked a retarded deal with NBC that guaranteed the NHL a whopping $0 for the equivalent of half a season for one team's worth of games, before he inflated the hockey market to absurd places in the sun-belt. I don't know what the answer is.
I do know that failure should never have been an option.
Perhaps the argument can be made that the owners are now on top - hell, I've practicaly made that argument already, myself - and we've heard all the rhetoric ad nauseum; "There are no winners in a lock-out situation"; "The real losers are the fans." But no two ways about it, the person in the role of primary responsibility simply cannot be allowed to continue.

What were they thinking in the first place?

The man has no hockey cred. Basketball, shmashketball. Basketball is a TV sport. Hockey is okay on TV - especially once you know the game and learn how to follow the puck without graphic aid - hell for a hockey fan, hockey is great on TV. But to a newcomer or to a fan, there is nothing like hockey in the arena. I'm a family-less man. I can go with friends who can afford to buy their own tickets. My girlfrined could care less, so I can leave her at home. I CAN'T AFFORD TO GO TO AN NHL GAME - and it's two friggin' SkyTrain stops away. I don't even have to pay to park! A Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay? You gotta be kidding me. And don't get me started about the Cup that went to Dallas... nope too late... (Dallas probably would have won in the end anyway, but YOU CAN'T change the rules in the middle of a season, let alone a playoff series, LET ALONE AN OVERTIME GAME WHEN THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS IN QUESTION!) The least bit of exploration can present further reasons that Bettman has been a total failure. He has failed at his mandate and must be removed.

A new Commissioner of hockey. Who? Well that one seems a no brainer to me, the only problem is that he'd have to relinquish his minority ownership of his team. It would probably also mean that he'd have to step-down as the head of the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team committee - that would probably be a conflict of interest. He knows hockey. He has a history with expanding hockey in the US. He has a track record of success after success. He has the respect of everyone within the game on and off the ice. He has compassion for us weak-ankled mortals who can't back-hand aso much as a compliment. His Dad is one of the most genuine people to walk the face of the planet, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Mark I

Oh for Christ's Sake!

Not the first time this sort of thing has happened I am sure...

I just spent an hour plus writing my first blog entry ever.

Sort of a combination mission-statement; explanation of who I see myself as; the scope of what I expect to write about; un-necessary disclaimer about my newbie-ness; and a brief history of how I got to the point of starting this blog.

And then - poof! Gone. Off to the the might-as-well-never-have-existed-in-the-first-place world of digital-death.


Not going to try to rectify that right now. Can't be bothered to write it all again at this moment.

Not an auspicious beginning.

- K