Remembering 2014, My Ninth Year Of Blogging (Part Two)

While 2014 was a very good year for The D-Man, the same can’t be said for a number of prominent public figures.

Take Jian Ghomeshi.  He once had it all:  a youthful appearance despite being middle-aged, a high profile gig as the popular host of CBC Radio’s Q, a ubiquitous presence in Canada’s arts & entertainment scene.  But following the death of his father, it all went downhill when he was suddenly fired by the CBC.  Shortly thereafter he posted an infamous Facebook statement on his public account (now since deleted) in an attempt to try to get ahead of a very damaging Toronto Star expose on his behaviour around women.

He claimed he liked rough sex and so did his partners.  But the women who spoke to the Star (and later Maclean’s Magazine & the CBC itself) strongly countered that assertion by claiming what he really liked to do was abuse & harass them in variously disgusting ways.  (The earliest accusations date back to the late 80s when he was a university student.)  As more and more disturbing stories surfaced, Ghomeshi started losing all his lucrative gigs.  Three of his alleged victims complained to police.  An investigation began and, much to my surprise, he was ultimately arrested.  His next court appearance happens early next year.  His lawyer publicly stated he will rigorously fight the charges.  I hope he loses.

After attempting on two occasions to write about his stunning fall from grace, I had an idea.  I decided to seek out a public library copy of 1982, Ghomeshi’s best selling teen memoir (which will no longer be published), in an committed effort to write something original about the growing scandal.

In the end, Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 became a threepart series.  Collectively, it has generated close to 1400 page views.

While Woody Allen continues to make one movie a year & occasionally direct an actress to an Oscar (Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett being the latest this year), his past haunted him big time in 2014, as well.  After his estranged daughter Dylan Farrow wrote a damning, powerful piece for Nick Kristof’s New York Times blog about how Allen abused her when she was just a child, it opened up an uncomfortable but necessary public conversation about sexual assault and privileged celebrity perpetrators.

I ended up writing eight pieces about it:  Damaging Woody Allen Details From A 1997 Connecticut Magazine Article, the threepart series Damning Woody Allen Details In 1993 Child Custody Decision and the fourpart series Forgotten Woody Allen Revelations From Mia Farrow’s 1997 Autobiography.

Girls creator Lena Dunham’s inappropriate childhood behaviour towards her younger sister erupted into controversy after a conservative website printed excerpts about it from her book of essays, Not Your Kind Of Girl.  It triggered a couple of painful childhood memories of my own which led me to write Lena Dunham & The Importance Of Childhood Boundaries.  The original draft included a section on Jian Ghomeshi but was correctly taken out because it felt out of place & it made the essay way too long.  In a weird way, I’m grateful I finally had the chance to make peace with this part of my life.  I’m in a much better emotional head space now.

Then-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would love to forget all about 2013, the beginning of the end of his one term as mayor.  But that proved impossible when reports of a second crack video (along with the release of other odd videos & audio clips) caused another major ruckus in the spring of 2014.  After a controversial two-month stint in rehab, he was then diagnosed with a rare cancer just weeks before the Toronto civic elections.  (Doug filled in for him in the race for Mayor.)

I had written four times about Ford in this space last year.  Two more entries surfaced this year:  the satirical Rob Ford (a song parody (just the lyrics) of Iggy Pop’s I’m Bored) and Rob Ford’s Political Hail Mary which was later posted with a slightly different title on Huffington Post Canada.  While he recovers from his serious illness, the now bald ex-Mayor is still at City Hall as a Counsellor (the safe seat he decided to run for instead of continuing his doomed reelection campaign).  Absurdly, he’s planning to run for Mayor again in 2018.  How about focusing on getting healthy, instead?

President Barack Obama continued to flounder in 2014 as the NSA scandal continued to grow, the CIA’s ongoing history of War On Terror torture slowly went public & his Democratic Party lost the Senate in the November mid-terms.  But he still has his fans like this former aide who wrote a revealing article for Rolling Stone, another piece that ended up on HuffPo.

Speaking of politics, Israel’s savage assault of the Palestinians in Gaza inspired much outrage worldwide.  Since I’m no Max Blumenthal or Rania Khalek when it comes to covering this beat with the full honesty & integrity that it deserves, I wrote three poems about the unfolding genocide instead:  There Is No Tomorrow, Only Yesterday; Darkness Inside and Spilling The Blood Of Innocence.  Some of the explicit imagery graphically depicted in Innocence did not come from my imagination.  I saw photos of murdered Palestinian children posted on Twitter looking exactly the way I described them.  Now that the International Criminal Court is going to get involved, here’s hoping the brutal, illegal, longterm occupation of Palestine at the hands of the endlessly vindictive & unaccountable Zionist Israeli government comes to a swift end.

Politics was a recurring theme of other poetry I wrote in 2014.  12 Years A Slave is about being a detainee in the American gulag in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay.  Professor Nothing is a knock on no-nothing TV “experts” while The Truth and Waves Of Dissent are both slams on President Obama’s numerous, egregious human rights violations.

Encounters with difficult women on Twitter led to four more poems.  Self-Righteous Fury was inspired by an overheated argument regarding a controversial John Grisham interview.  I defended his remarks, she made outrageous, unfounded accusations against me and even made a bizarre threat to have my HuffPo gig taken away.  What a twit.  Thank goodness for the Block button.  After some serious online flirtations & even some sexting with a very sexy Canadian feminist, I wrote Lust Never Sleeps & Perverted Thinker as tributes.  A month later when it all went to shit (she unfollowed me after one too many sexually charged DM’s that she previously said she thoroughly enjoyed), I composed the tempestuous You Hurt Me First.  We haven’t communicated since.  I blocked her phony ass.

Speaking of difficult women, Devil’s Insight feels very reminiscent of Nobody Cares with its fictional, villainous portrayal of a callous temptress.  I wish I could remember what exactly led to its creation.

Humourless Gesture took on Suey Park’s dopey #CancelColbert campaign (as did the essay How The Real Suey Park Is Just As Ignorant As The Fake Stephen Colbert) while The True Meaning Of Indecency and, to a lesser extent, Your Courage Is In Short Supply once again took poetic aim at Barack Obama apologist Sophia Bush (as did Sophia Bush’s Revealing Buzzfeed Interview & Warmongering Human Rights Activists).

Feminism and depression are not the easiest subjects to tackle in verse.  You have to tread carefully or risk alienating large, vocal communities.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen to me personally.  While No More Depression, The Sadness Beneath (a eulogy for Robin Williams), A Life Of Deprivation & Switching Off The Darkness dealt with the sickening scourge of mental illness, I Am A Lie focused on slut shaming.  It’s a tribute to Emily Lindin of The UnSlut Project who bravely shared her middle school diaries online about being both a victim & perpetrator of shaming girls for their sexual choices.  The poem incorporates some of the darker real-life elements of her compelling writings into a fictional scenario.  (Follow her @UnSlutProject.  She’s great.)

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd knows all about slut shaming.  She did it to Monica Lewinsky for years.  When Lewinsky returned to the public eye in 2014, Dowd revisited the subject.  That inspired me to write Three Past Examples Of Maureen Dowd Slut Shaming Monica Lewinsky, which was kindly mentioned here.

Maybe it’s because I follow and am friendly with a number of feminists on Twitter that I decided to join in on the #YesAllWomen hashtag which became a top trending topic in the immediate aftermath of the Elliott Rodger massacre.  Many of the tweets I posted under that tag were compiled along with a few new ones in We Men Are The Problem, Not Women.  It led to some interesting exchanges with a couple of male readers in the comments section.

I may have stopped predicting results for their monthly, overpriced pay-per-views (I’m a terrible prognosticator) and ceased being a regular, devoted viewer of their weekly TV shows, but that didn’t stop me from writing about the WWE on multiple occasions again this year.  CM Punk’s sudden departure immediately following the Royal Rumble led to two tribute pieces:  Why I Don’t Blame CM Punk For Leaving WWE and Thank You, CM Punk.  (An earlier piece, How CM Punk’s Original “Pipe Bomb” Foreshadowed Several Key WWE Storylines, added almost 3500 hits to its current overall total of 5600.)

I also paid my respects to The Ultimate Warrior, complained about the WWE’s reliance on aging superstars of the past & missing, significant stories from The History Of WWE DVD, offered trivia about SummerSlam and the Survivor Series, and wrote about The Five Men Who “Retired” At WrestleMania.  Looking back at the retirement piece, I probably should’ve included Stone Cold Steve Austin who wrestled his final professional match in a losing effort against The Rock at WrestleMania 19 in 2003.  I forgot about it because it wasn’t billed as his last in-ring encounter.  Oh well.

In the world of legitimate athletic competition, there was plenty of excitement for sports fans.  The World Cup itself was full of stunning surprises:  defending champions Spain utterly collapsing against the Netherlands in their first match (a rematch of the 2010 final), Germany’s hilarious decimation of humiliated host nation Brazil, England & Portugal’s early exit from the tournament (like Spain, they didn’t make it past the group stage).  It was also full of doppelgangers.  A few months earlier, the Winter Olympics provided plenty of drama of its own.  When it was all over, I reflected on what I loved and hated about the event.

Back to politics for a moment.  NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave NBC an exclusive prime-time interview which was much praised.  I posed my own unanswered questions to the heroic American.  Meanwhile, explosive reports about Canada’s own surveillance state left me with even more questions for my own federal government.  Finally, the transparently pathetic Michael Coren pretended to be a new friend of the gay community.  Don’t believe he’s changed his views on homosexuality because he hasn’t.  Until he supports gay sex, gay marriage and gay adoption publicly & privately, not to mention transgender people, don’t be fooled by his bullshit.

That leaves us with the world of entertainment.  When I wasn’t reposting old MonkeyBiz CD reviews of Autobodies’ Rearranger and Dirty Penny’s Sage Against The Machine, I was honouring 6 actors who made remarkable movie comebacks and critiquing films like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, NightflyersMannequin, Movie 43, A Haunted House 2 & Edge Of Tomorrow.  When I wasn’t making poor predictions about the Oscars, praising host Ellen DeGeneres’ surprisingly funny performance, and re-examining the influence of the meaningless Golden Globes, I was honouring MuchMusic’s 30th Anniversary and lamenting its forgotten, lost influence on Canadian pop culture.

You know, it’s amazing to me.  I wrote far less this year than in 2013 yet The Writings Of Dennis Earl saw tremendous growth in hits & visibility.  In fact, this is my most successful year as a blogger to date.  You know things are going well when a piece you wrote three & a half years ago continues to be the most popular piece I’ve ever written.  What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons? earned an additional 5100+ hits this year bringing the overall total since its June 2011 debut to over 27000.

So, as I always like to ask this time of year, what’s next for me?  Can I carry this encouraging momentum into 2015 and beyond?  Will there be more creative opportunities to expand my reach?  Will my sex drought come to an end?  And will I finally be able to get paid on a regular basis to do what I love most?

All I can say is stay tuned.  In the meantime, Happy New Year, everyone!

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
5:31 p.m.

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Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 5:32 pm  Comments (2)  

Remembering 2014, My Ninth Year Of Blogging (Part One)

“Annus horribilis” or “annus mirabilis”?

How should we remember 2014?  Was it a “horrible year” or a “wonderful year”?  Well, as always, it depends on who we’re talking about.  For Robin Thicke, Jian Ghomeshi, Bill Cosby, Shia LeBeouf, Donald Sterling, the CIA, the NSA & countless others, it was the former.  For Senate Republicans, the German soccer team, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Benedict Cumberbatch, feminists, the Canadian Olympic Team & countless others, it was the latter.

In my case, upon evaluating all the available evidence, I’ve come to one unmistakable conclusion:  my 2014 was pretty damn good.

I’ve been blogging now for almost nine years, much of it in almost total obscurity.  At the end of 2006, after being on MSN Spaces for 11 months, The Writings Of Dennis Earl had generated a measly 3200 hits.  Eight years later, the grand total of overall page views for my relocated WordPress site in 2014 is almost 40000, my biggest annual total to date.  It may be a slow process building a readership but by God, things are finally happening for me.

In 2014, there were three significant moments, three pivotal turning points that led to all this growth.

It all began in late March.  While checking my daily stats, I noticed a huge surge in interest in Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld On DVD.  Last year, this trivia piece generated less than 350 hits in 2013 altogether.  But on March 29th alone, it generated almost 550 hits.  A little investigation revealed why.

Someone had posted a link to the piece on Reddit.  That gave me an idea.  What if I started posting my work myself in various sections of the website?  Would that boost my numbers, I wondered?

So, in April, I signed up.  Although some pieces were either rejected or simply not read or commented on at all, there were a few that did attract some attention, both enthusiastic & harsh.

Unsolved Mysteries Of Seinfeld dates back to early 2008 during my Windows Live Spaces period but after I shared it on Reddit, it was seen almost 1700 times on April 14th alone.  (I set a new daily record that day:  over 1900 page views, the most single-day traffic I’ve ever had in the history of this site.)  Although, comments were decidedly mixed (hey GlottostopFTW, I like my old health card picture, so fuck you), I was incredibly surprised so many Seinfeld fans took the time to read it & write about it, even if some didn’t particularly care for it.  (It was filed under “controversial”.  That’s bad ass.)

In the WordPress era, Unsolved Mysteries Of Seinfeld was seen just under 500 times in four years.  In 2014 alone, thanks to the Reddit posting, it has generated an additional 2400 hits in 2014.  Thanks to its own Reddit posting, Interesting Things I Learned About The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld On DVD generated almost 3500 hits this year (thanks for sharing it, besst!).

Before Reddit cracked down on my excessive personal linking (I got a little carried away & didn’t know they frown on this until I took the time to read their rather restrictive policy), my 2006 review of the Kurt Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven (over 800 hits), The Five Men Who “Retired” At WrestleMania (over 1350 in a single day, plus an additional 300 for the rest of the year), Royal Rumble Trivia (over 450) & 9 OMG! Moments The WWE Overlooked For Its 2011 DVD Set (almost 370) all benefited from being shared on the site.

As a result of all of this, April 2014 is currently the biggest month I’ve ever had with over 7600 hits.  Were it not for Reddit being such anti-linkites, I’m quite confident I would’ve had an even bigger year than I already did.

Two months later, my disappointment was immediately forgotten after I received a very nice email from Seamus McKiernan.  He loved my three-part blog series, 9 Public Figures Who Rightly Opposed The Second Iraq War, and asked if it would be ok to have it published on The Huffington Post.  (He’s an editor for the site.)  Despite being in considerable pain (damn you, gum disease & 18 years of unchecked tartar build-up), it didn’t take me long to give him my blessing.

Although the HuffPo version was much shorter (at the request of Seamus, it was trimmed way down so it could fit into a single condensed piece) & given a new title, this was a major breakthrough for me.  In the end, it was liked 356 times, shared almost 100 times on social media and through email & commented on 49 times.  After she read it, my Mom could not have been any prouder of me.  The outpouring of support from my friends & family on Facebook & Twitter was deeply gratifying.

Since then, five more of my pieces have been posted on The Huffington Post:  21 Things You Probably Don’t Know About ‘Hell in a Cell’, Some SummerSlam Trivia, 6 Actors Who Made the Most of Their Second Chances (which was also translated in French), A Former Obama Aide’s Revealing ‘Rolling Stone’ Article & Rob Ford Threw a Political Hail Mary That Doug Can’t Catch.

The Rolling Stone story was liked an incredible 1400 times, commented on 115 times & shared with others almost 15o times, easily making it the most popular of all my HuffPo contributions.  (I wish they kept official statistics for all my pieces posted on there but strangely, they don’t keep track of any of that.  I hope that changes soon.)  It also inspired a brief email conversation with a globally respected math professor, a fellow President Obama critic, who not only enjoyed the piece but expressed astonishment that HuffPo dared to publish it.  That meant a lot to me.  Thanks, Professor Farley!

The Rob Ford story was liked almost 500 times, inspired 34 comments and has been shared over 110 times.  A DJ from British Columbia liked it enough to request I do a 10-minute phoner about it on his morning radio show.  (I was deeply flattered but politely declined.)  That said, I have a couple of small complaints.  An error I made (Doug Ford was still serving as a Toronto City Councillor at the time of its writing.  I wrongly noted he was a former Councillor during the civic election campaign.), pointed out by a former schoolmate in the comment section, wasn’t corrected, even after I emailed Seamus about it.  I also wanted to post a clarification regarding Rob Ford’s health history (“CLARIFICATION:  During a September 17 press conference announcing Rob Ford’s rare cancer diagnosis, Dr. Zane Cohen stated that the Toronto Mayor didn’t have a benign mass in 2009.  He actually had appendicitis.”) but that was ignored, too.  Since the piece was first posted here on WordPress, like all of my HuffPo submissions, I simply made these changes in the original essay here.

President Obama’s War Crimes, my one & only attempt to write something exclusively for HuffPo, was not accepted.  Curiously, after posting it on my site, it was reprinted without any prompting on my part by Socialistnet.net.  That was cool.  They published two more of my pieces, a poem called Self-Righteous Fury & the aforementioned Rolling Stone Obama aide story, as well.  Too bad the site doesn’t exist any more, not even in cached form.

Finally, there’s Twitter.  Truthfully, there’s no one single event that stands out as a game changer but to have prominent media folks & activists, as well as non-media people, following me or interacting with me has surely led to more interest in my work.  (My account generates tens of thousands of views every week.  If only my blog could be as popular.)  As we begin to bury 2014 for good, after two years of tweeting, I’m proud to say I have over 400 followers.  That’s more than twice the amount of blog subscribers I have (116, as of this writing).  I feel like I’ve made some new friends (although I lost a few, as well) & even earned a tiny bit of respect along the way.  Here’s hoping for more good news on this front in 2015.  You can follow me @DennisCEarl.

While my Twitter account is far more read than my own site, The Writings Of Dennis Earl had a banner year nonetheless.  Since the move to WordPress from Windows Live Spaces in the fall of 2010, it’s now been accessed over 110000 times.  New stats records were set for seven individual months.  (January, February, June, July & October were the only holdouts.  Past years during those periods generated higher monthly totals.)  Only one month (February) had less than 2000 hits.  And I’ve already mentioned the new daily, monthly & annual statistical breakthroughs.

When debating whether one had a good year or a horrific one, from my perspective, based on everything I’ve just finished documenting, 2014 was, in a word, mirabilis.  May my good fortune continue in the new year.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
8:50 p.m.

Published in: on December 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

50 Things I Loved About 2014

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble.  Two stellar talents putting on a clinic in the first match of a pay-per-view that easily bested the disappointing WrestleMania 30.

2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ WWE Hall of Fame induction speech.  Poignant, cathartic, painfully honest & even funny.  A much deserved honour for a superior ring psychologist.  Thanks for “masturbating our emotions”.

3. Coldplay’s Ghost Stories.  Who knew a “conscious uncoupling” would lead to a lovely set of tunes?

4. Rob Ford is no longer the Mayor of Toronto & Doug Ford is no longer on Toronto City Council.

5. Dylan Farrow’s powerful statement on the New York Times website against her estranged father & childhood abuser, Woody Allen.  It opened up a wide ranging public conversation about sexual assault & the celebrity assailants who often get away with it.

6. The executive summary of the CIA torture report was finally released after multiple delays.  Despite excessive redactions, its shocking revelations should inspire worldwide pressure to prosecute all guilty parties, past and present, even though the Obama Administration is very reluctant to do so themselves, the fucking depraved cowards.

7. Bruce Springsteen’s long awaited studio recording of American Skin (41 Shots).  His timing couldn’t have better.  The song of the year.

8. Germany won the World Cup for the 4th time while defending 2010 champions Spain didn’t even get out of their own group.

9. Jian Ghomeshi & Bill Cosby were finally exposed for the serial predators they’ve secretly always been for decades.  More proof that “nice guy” images are powerfully deceptive.  May their many victims finally get justice after all these decades.

10. Glenn Greenwald’s thoroughly frightening No Place To Hide.  The book of the year.

11. The ending of the final Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.  Very funny homages to The Drew Carey Show, Newhart & The Sopranos.

12. “We’ll Meet Again”, the charming, strangely moving celebrity sing-a-long from the last Colbert Report.  The fake conservative pundit character might be resting in a coffin somewhere but the lid isn’t sealed.

13. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 30.  The match of the year.  The post-match steel chair beatdown by H on Bryan’s arm was brutality at its finest.

14. Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, his 4th such title, at that same event.  Despite a slow start, the Triple Threat match with Randy Orton & Batista ultimately evolved into an entertaining main event featuring the pinnacle of the most unlikely babyface superstar of all time.  The right guy went over that night.

15. Interpol’s El Pintor.  Still plumbing the darkness for sexual release, this time without Carlos D.  Let’s not take another four years for album number six, ok guys?

16. Being asked to become a Huffington Post Contributor.  Seven posted pieces, thus far, with hopefully many more to come.  Talk about a big career break.  If only it was a paying gig.

17. Robyn Doolittle’s Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story.  Just a small, fascinating taste of the insanity that is the Ford Family, plus a revealing look at how a difficult series of stories came together at The Toronto Star.  I’d love to see a sequel.  God knows there’s more than enough material for one.

18. Canada’s performance at the Winter Olympics.  Winning 25 medals four years after winning a record-setting 26 in Vancouver is pretty god damn impressive.

19. The eruption sequence in Pompeii.  Too bad the rest of the film isn’t as fun to watch.

20. U2’s Songs Of Innocence, the two-disc version.  There’s still plenty of vitality flowing through these middle aged bodies.

21. Weezer’s Everything Will Be Alright In The End.  The record Blue Album fans have been waiting 20 years to hear.  Rivers Cuomo’s voice hasn’t aged a day & he still has a trunkful of catchy melodies to share with the world.

22. Green Day is going into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year.  Fuck you, Johnny Rotten.

23. The astonishing fall of former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  What took so long?

24. Invisible Children is on the verge of extinction.  You won’t be missed, phony White Savours.  Kony 2012 was an absolute fucking failure.

25. The #BlackLivesMatter movement.  The spirit of Martin Luther King lives on in a peaceful yet rightfully pissed off community tired of systemic mistreatment & disrespect by governments & law enforcement.  May they succeed in their ongoing quest for real change.  A tip of the hat as well to protesting fast food workers, Canada’s native community for demanding an inquiry into missing women & girls as well as fighting against the construction of new gas & oil pipelines and Palestinians for fighting their evil Israeli occupiers.  Righteous, moral courage is contagious.  May we all catch it.

26. Sloan’s Commonwealth.  More melodic elegance from The Canadian Beatles.

27. Belle Knox.  Smart, honest, defiant, ballsy & incredibly sexy.  After being outed by an asshole schoolmate at Duke University, she made the absolute most of a scary situation.  An excellent writer whose young voice will only grow stronger & smarter over time.  She’s also very sweet.

28. Mr. T’s hilarious yet completely sincere WWE Hall of Fame speech, an incredible tribute to his mom.  He shouldn’t have been cut off, though.  Let the man get all his thoughts out, for Christ’s sake.

29. CNN’s explosive reports on Veteran Affairs hospitals in the US shamefully covering up long waiting lists for patients, an uncomfortable reminder that governments still don’t give a shit about the damaged people who implement their heartless & failed foreign policies.  Drew Griffin deserves much praise for his dogged work.

30. Edward Snowden’s prime time interview with NBC’s Brian Williams.  He is the strongest, living reason to impeach President Obama.

31. The continuing bombshell reports on the NSA’s illegal, immoral mass surveillance programs.  Snowden’s whistleblowing continues to reverberate around the world.  Keep sweating, President Obama.

32. Recreational marijuana became legally available for sale in Oregon & Washington State.  The beginning of the end of the war on pot.  How much longer before everyone wants a piece of this lucrative action?

33. Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL.  If only he had beaten up little kids & grown women, he’d be on a team right now.

34. The Intercept.  Finally rolling with regular updates, it’s the best new news site out there right now.  Fiercely adversarial & consistently revelatory.  Glenn Greenwald was absolutely right to leave The Guardian for this venture.

35. Kim Kardashian’s beautiful bare ass.  I like big butts & I cannot lie.

36. Damien Mizdow, The Miz’ stunt double.  Hilarious, despite being somewhat of a comedown from “The Intellectual Saviour of the Masses” gimmick.  On the plus side, however, he’s finally gotten a title push.

37. Big Wreck’s Ghosts.  Yes, Ian Thornley can scream like Chris Cornell but that’s part of the appeal.  Nearly 20 years after In Loving Memory Of…, they can still bring the rock.

38. Lana Del Rey’s inescapably dreamy West Coast.  I finally get it.

39. Police in Holland arrested a man they believed shamed & tormented Amanda Todd online to the point of suicide.  As CBC’s The Fifth Estate revealed, there are dozens more victims in multiple countries including Canada.  It is such a shame his arrest couldn’t have happened much sooner.  Todd may very well still be alive.  God knows it was possible.  But in a story full of so much tragedy, this very positive development may finally get us closer to understanding the full truth.

40. Antonio Cesaro bodyslamming The Big Show over the top rope to win the first ever Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30.  Also, the handshake at the end was classy.  The Swiss Superman should’ve turned ‘face that night, one of the many fuck-ups the WWE made in 2014.

41. Barack Obama apologist Sophia Bush is still blocking me on Twitter, 18 months and counting.  My second proudest writing achievement next to becoming a Huffington Post Contributor.

42. Edward Snowden was given permission to stay in Russia for three more years, far away from the corrupt tentacles of Obama’s evil National Security State.  Plus, his girlfriend is now living with him.  Suck on that, Michael Hayden, you lying, spying, torturing, bald piece of shit.

43. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s numerous, growing political scandals including the now infamous George Washington Bridge closing.  May his political reputation continue to take the critical beating that it deserves.

44. Eric Cantor surprisingly lost a primary and resigned from Congress.  Now he can enjoy all the Britney Spears concerts he wants.

45. Eric Holder announced his forthcoming resignation as Attorney General.  His legacy will be decidedly mixed.  His constant hounding of whistleblowers & journalists, James Risen in particular, should not be forgotten or forgiven.

46. Egypt’s sham “justice system” which punishes critics, members of the Muslim Brotherhood & journalists doing their jobs like the Al Jazeera Three, & Obama’s continued financing of it.  Disgraceful on so many levels.

47. Lenny Kravitz’ Strut, which features some of his sexiest & most soulful arrangements.  Glad he’s still rocking out.  It’s not fair that he’s better looking than me, though.

48. Rachel Nichols’ welcome, adversarial grilling of serial woman beater Floyd Mayweather on CNN.  I wish every journalist treated him like the disgusting misogynist that he is.  Iron Mike Gallego’s stinging round-up of his criminal acts on DeadSpin deserves high praise, as well.

49. Sheldon Cooper telling his girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler that he loves her for the first time, then kicking her out of his bedroom because girls aren’t allowed in there on The Big Bang Theory.  Perfect.

50. Eugenie Bouchard & Milos Raonic’s grand slam breakthroughs.  How long before either of them take home a major championship for Canada?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 29, 2014
3:06 a.m.

50 Things I Loathed About 2014

1. The Ultimate Warrior died.

2. Despite pulling out of the race for Mayor with just six weeks to go before the election & being diagnosed with a rare cancer, Rob Ford is once again a Toronto city councillor.

3. Gitmo is still open.

4. Israel’s heartless genocidal attacks on Gaza, The West Bank and the rest of the Occupied Territories.  Will long suffering Palestinians ever see justice?

5. Julian Fantino’s pitiful performance as the Minister of Veteran Affairs.  How does he still have his job?

6. Robin Williams & Philip Seymour Hoffman died, two superb talents killed by serious depression.  Can we please take mental illness more seriously now?

7. Boko Haram’s ongoing terror campaign in Nigeria which led to the kidnapping of hundreds of girls, only some of whom have managed to escape and reunite with their families.

8. Monday Night Raw is still 3 hours, has consistently terrible commentators, and remains unworthy of weekly consumption.  Ditto the 2-hour Smackdown.

9. Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak.  Dreadfully boring match & the absolute wrong creative decision.  The Beast Incarnate didn’t need the added heat.  The Streak had to come to an end at some point, yes, but not like this.  Horrible & infuriating.

10. Morrissey’s World Peace Is None Of Your Business.  I waited 5 years for this forgettable, mean spirited piece of shit?  Maybe he’s already written his strongest melodies.  God knows I don’t care about his upcoming Ramones tribute.  Ugh.

11. CBC’s Terry Milewski’s strange refusal to cooperate & collaborate with Glenn Greenwald on Canadian mass surveillance stories.  A completely blown journalistic opportunity.  Milewski should be ashamed of his timidity.

12. ISIS’ decapitation videos.  Only Saudi Arabia & the US are allowed to be this barbaric, right, Barack Obama?

13. The Nut Job.  Poorly animated, sluggishly paced, almost completely unfunny.  Its only redeeming quality:  the guilty pleasure dance anthem Gangham Style playing over the end titles.

14. England couldn’t even get out of their group at the World Cup.  A depressing performance for a talented squad that needs a big kick in the shorts.

15. Robin Thicke’s Paula.  That’s not how you reconcile with your wife.  No wonder she wanted out.

16. GamerGate.  A stupid name for a stupid scandal started by assholes who care nothing about “ethics in video game journalism”, only their unjustified hatred for women.  Despicable.  All the feminist targets of their childish scorn deserve full apologies, restitution & their regular lives back.

17. Alberto Del Rio was fired for defending his ethnicity.  He is much missed in the WWE.

18. The retirement of CM Punk.  WWE blew this one big time, as well.  Let’s see how he does in the UFC next year.

19. The unfortunate injuries of Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns.  The lost possibilities because of their long absences.

20. CNN’s embarrassingly excessive coverage of that missing Malaysian Airlines plane.  Despite weeks of breathless anticipation of its recovery & endless, pointless speculation, it remains completely unaccounted for.  A low point in the channel’s 34-year history.  Also pitiful at times were their on-the-scene reports during the Ferguson, Missouri protests & Israel’s illegal invasion of Gaza.  “Fuck CNN”, indeed.

21. A Haunted House 2.  Disgusting, sexist, slut shaming garbage.  Mark Henry, you should be ashamed of yourself.

22. Republican Congressman Michael Grimm’s scary threat to a NY1 reporter caught by a cameraman who had just finished shooting a quick on-camera interview with him.  Grimm eventually apologized.  He should resign, especially now that he’s a convicted felon.

23. Shaker Aamer & 63 other innocent, tortured men remain trapped in Gitmo, the American gulag.  All the rest have yet to have their day in court, a real court, not these fucking kangaroo “military tribunals”.  That’s not justice.

24. The heartbreaking fire that destroyed a senior’s home in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec in the middle of a bitterly cold winter which resulted in 32 deaths & 15 injuries.

25. Eden Alexander’s health scare & the nonsense she had to deal with while trying to raise money for her expensive medical bills.  The good news is, despite some rough months, she’s almost completely recovered now.  Very nice lady.  May she never be this sick again.

26. War Machine’s obscene assault against former girlfriend Christy Mack.  He belongs in prison for the rest of his life.  She deserves the full restoration of her health.

27. Megan Trainor’s All About That Bass.  An annoying song that will haunt wedding receptions for years to come.  I prefer Baby Got Back.

28. Michael Coren’s phony “apology” to the gay community in The Toronto Sun.  Until he publicly & privately supports full equality, don’t believe for a second that he’s changed because he hasn’t.

29. The Polar Vortex.  Whoever loves all this supremely cold weather is an emotionless psychopath.  I’ll stick with summer, thanks.

30. Sony cancelling The Interview’s wide Christmas Day theatrical release because of a bogus, empty threat from clever hackers.  Although they ultimately changed their mind & let independent theatres exhibit the film, and also made it available online, they looked incredibly stupid capitulating like this.  If it happens again, here’s hoping other studios are less cowardly.

31. The celebrity nude photo hack.  Unless these women want me to see them naked, I’m not going to invade their privacy without their permission.

32. The disturbing elevator video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancé Jenay with one punch.  How is he not in prison?

33. Devil’s Due & Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.  Two more compelling reasons to declare the “found footage” genre dead.

34. The Edmonton Oilers.  They’re so bad now I’m glad I stopped watching them play the few games that air on TV.  Time to resign, Craig MacTavish.  2006 is a distant memory.

35. The persecution of Matt Dehart.  Are you ever going to write about his case, Glenn Greenwald?

36. Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, Jeremy Hammond & Barrett Brown are all still in prison for opposing Obama’s growing, illegal National Security State.  Along with Dehart may their vengeful persecutions be over soon.

37. All the other terrible movies I saw this year:  Movie 43, 21 & Over, Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, Cheech & Chong Still Smokin’, Goon, Fool’s Gold, 13 Ghosts (2001), Little Man, Mannequin, Mannequin: On The Move, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, What A Girl Wants, 21 Jump Street, My Bloody Valentine (1981), Nuns On The Run (it hasn’t aged well), Silent Hill: Revelation, Nightflyers, Grown-Ups 2, You’re Next, 30 Minutes Or Less, Project X (2012), The Hangover Part III, His Majesty The Scarecrow Of Oz & The Patchwork Girl Of Oz.

38. MuchMusic’s pitiful 30-minute “special” commemorating its 30th Anniversary.  It was hardly worthy of the channel’s important legacy as The Nation’s Music Station.  Then again, these days, it’s only a shell of its former self.  A proper tribute devoted to its glory years would only reinforce that.

39. Suey Park’s #CancelColbert campaign.  An ignorant, hypocritical, self-important “activist” uses the old Fox News excuse (“I was only joking!”) to justify a complete waste of fake, collective online outrage.  I’ve yet to see proof she understands what satire is.  In the end, the only reason The Colbert Report is off the air is because the host got a new job.  He takes over for David Letterman next year.  As for Park, she’s off Twitter now.  Good riddance.

40. The abhorrent mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  Like the endless human rights violations of the Palestinians, the world continues to look the other way.

41. The Republicans won control of the Senate.

42. The sudden rise of Charles C. Johnson, already the most despised media hack of the new millennium.  Thankfully, he’s making way too many sloppy mistakes & enemies to survive for much longer.

43. Lena Dunham’s stunning revelation that she abused her sister when they were kids, her defensive, embarrassing “rage spiral” in response to the mostly genuine outrage over it, her ultimately bogus “apology” & the predominantly white feminists who gave her a pass for it.  If it was anybody else, they’d be chased out of Hollywood.

44. The murders of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown & many more people of colour – male & female; young & old – by white, paranoid, racist American police officers.  The brutal, Israel-inspired militarization of law enforcement must be curbed, the sooner the better.  The days of cops getting away with criminal activity have to end right now.  The system is completely rigged in their favour.

45. The WWE Network debacle.  How not to unveil a new venture two years behind schedule.  Vince McMahon ended up losing half his fortune thanks to the company’s plunging stocks.  (Actually, I love that last part.)

46. Howard Stern’s ongoing support for torture, an internationally recognized war crime, & Israel’s decades-long genocide of the Palestinians, especially the horrors unleashed on Gaza in the summer.  I’m done with this asshole.

47. Elliott Rodger, his frightening misogynistic murder spree, that creepy video with the sunlight in his face & that deeply troubled manifesto.  What the hell happened to this kid?

48. James Avery, Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air & Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, died on New Year’s Eve 2013.

49. The WWE’s ongoing association with serial woman beater Floyd Mayweather.  Chris Jericho, Triple H & Jim Ross, you all sicken me.

50. Rolling Stone’s much criticized report on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.  Of all the important stories to fuck up, why did it have to be this one?  This better not set back all the tremendous progress made by feminists this year in combating rape culture.  For the record, I still believe the woman at the centre of the UVA story was violated.  Like all victims of sexual assault, she deserves justice & peace of mind.  Unfortunately, Rolling Stone has made that very difficult for her now.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 29, 2014
2:34 a.m.

Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 (Part Three)

35. “I was too nervous to actually be aroused by the occasional lurid activity happening onscreen.  [Ghomeshi & some high school pals snuck in to see the R-rated Cat People in a Toronto multiplex after paying tickets to see something else.]  But I saw this as an opportunity for education.  It was all about sex.  I was committed to discovering more about sex.  And I wanted to be old enough to watch Cat People [You had to be 18 & over to see it in Canada.  Ghomeshi was 15 at the time of its theatrical release.]…And I had increasingly become preoccupied with girls.”
(Chapter 11, p.234)

36. “The truth is, seeing Wendy with another guy was strangely liberating.  It sanctioned a whole new world of carnal possibilities for me.  It allowed me to follow my libido with no reservations…Wendy had been a tremendous romantic aspiration for me…But Wendy had never really been a sexual fantasy.  Not once.  I really didn’t want to have sex with Wendy.  I wanted to be with Wendy.  And in my early teens, those were two very different desires.

Sometimes you could have a dream girl and not want to have sex with her.”
(Chapter 11, p.238)

37. “If there was one thing I was definitely interested in by the time I hit Grade 9, it was sex.  And girls.  Any girls.  And now my heart had some sort of free pass.”
(Chapter 11, p.239)

38. “Kim Inglewood and I had stripped naked at her house [when we were Grade 8 students], and I had pursued a forensic fascination with her chest.  I stared at her breasts with a mixture of excitement and curiosity and then tried to caress them in a seductive way that would turn her on.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I remember looking up to see a befuddled expression on Kim Inglewood’s face as she stared at me staring at her naked breasts…I’m not really sure she really enjoyed it.  Kim Inglewood and I never really said that much to each other.  But I liked her.  Or at least, I liked her breasts…Part of the problem was that I didn’t have the benefit of pornography.  That might have helped.”
(Chapter 11, p.239)

39. “…we had pornography, it existed, but it was virtually inaccessible to kids.  This was a real liability.  Without porn, how were we supposed to learn how sex was done?  Of course, pornography was often sexist, exploitative, patriarchal, and full of the wrong messages about human relationships and intimacy.”
(Chapter 11, p.240)

40. “Benny was a thirteen-year-old reading this stuff [used Penthouse books purchased from a neighbour’s garage sale] to a bunch of eleven-year-olds [including Ghomeshi].  I never quite understood what I was supposed to be experiencing when I listened to Benny read tales from Sex Takes A Holiday, but I know it was exciting.  It was also illicit and somehow very wrong.  That made it more exciting.”
(Chapter 11, pgs.243-4)

41. “Starting in 1980, I would host sleepovers at my place on Friday nights…we would turn on our console TV with the volume very low and quietly watch the [softcore Baby Blue] movies on channel 79 [Citytv] in our sleeping bags.  Sometimes there was snickering.  Sometimes there was silence.  Sometimes there were other sounds.”
(Chapter 11, p.244)

42. “Paula Silverman helped me learn the ropes when it came to some mutual sexual exploration in Grade 9.  By ‘learn the ropes’, I mean she allowed me to grope her.  And she groped back…”
(Chapter 11, p.251)

43. “You see, the good news about high school is that, for the most part, over the course of your time there, things get better.  That is, you get older.  And as you get older and move into the higher grades, there are waves of young new recruits who enter the school and struggle to build their courage and get their bearings the way you once did.  So you can look at the younger students and laugh at them, and then you feel better about yourself.  That is what high school is ultimately designed for:  laughing at others to feel better.”
(Chapter 12, pgs.260-1)

44. “My crush on Janelle felt strangely mature.  I felt little of the nervousness and insecurity that had come with Wendy.  On one of our first occasions alone in the hallways of Thornlea, I had spontaneously kissed Janelle on the lips outside the photography room.  I remember her looking quite shocked and commenting on how I had some gall to do such a thing…soon we were seeing each other regularly.”
(Chapter 12, p.262)

45. “Janelle…was what others would see as an ideal partner.  But we didn’t actually become boyfriend and girlfriend…At least, I never fully acknowledged us that way.  She asked me on a couple of occasions if I was her boyfriend, and I changed the subject.  Maybe Janelle was just too good for what I was ready for.  She was not my sexual fantasy girl or ersatz New Wave role model.  She was solid and real.  That probably scared me.”
(Chapter 12, pgs.262-3)

46. “By early December [1982], my countdown [high school] dance event at Thornlea was set to become a reality…Voting to choose the most popular songs was held with good intentions each year, but the results would somehow end up mirroring my interests.  I accept that this looks suspicious.”
(Chapter 12, p.268)

47. “Janelle and I agreed that if we weren’t too preoccupied running the event, we should dance the final dance together…’You better save ‘In The Air Tonight’ for me,’ she said.”
(Chapter 12, p.270)

48. “As promised, we heard the opening keyboard notes and drum machine sample of ‘In The Air Tonight.’…I suddenly wasn’t sure what to do.  Wendy was standing in front of me…At the same moment I realized I had totally forgotten about Janelle…I could see Janelle approaching.  This was the song she loved.  This was the song we’d talked about dancing to.  I didn’t look at her.  I didn’t want to look at her…I turned fully towards Wendy.  She looked up at me and extended her right hand.

‘So…you want to dance to this?’

I took her hand.

Wendy and I started slow dancing.  I soon had my arms around her waist and was pulling her closer to me…This was all happening as it should.”
(Chapter 12, pgs.276-7)

49. “I was ready to take the initiative…The new confidence I felt inspired physical action.  I pulled Wendy closer to me and looked straight down into her eyes.  The look on Wendy’s face was curious.  It seemed to suggest some confusion or hesitance or excitement.  I couldn’t tell which, but I sensed it was excitement.  It must have been excitement.  I pushed my lips into Wendy’s and gave her a long kiss.  I could feel her kissing me back…The song [Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight] was over.  Wendy pulled away a little and pretended to fan herself with her right hand.  ‘Well, I didn’t really expect that!’ she said with a laugh.  She had a strange sparkle in her eye.

‘There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Wendy.’

[snip]

The dance was officially over.  Wendy shifted away from me slightly, but I kept my arm around her.  She didn’t move it.

[snip]

[Wendy said] ‘I just have to get my coat.  I’ll be back in a minute, okay?'”
(Chapter 12, pgs.277-8)

50. “Wendy walked towards the back of the gym and into the hallway beyond, where everyone had left their coats.  I turned and spotted Janelle by the exit.  I looked directly at her….I wasn’t entirely sure what to do.  I gave a little wave of my hand but got no response.  She had an expression on her face that I’d never seen.  It was devoid of emotion.  No familiarity, no engagement, but no sadness, either.  Nothing.  The characteristic warmth I’d grown to depend on in Janelle was absent.  There was no acknowledgement.  I’m quite sure she saw me, but she hurried towards the doors.

I turned away.  I thought about my kiss with Wendy.  I could still taste her lips.

[snip]

The coat check was probably backed up.  It had been more than 10 minutes…I saw the students in charge of the coat check putting away the tables in the hallway.  The doors were now closed.

I waited.”
(Chapter 12, p.278-9)

51. “To my fluffy, dutiful traveling companion, Big Ears.”
(Acknowledgements, p.284)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2014
3:14 p.m.

Published in: on December 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 (Part Two)

19. “After one of our performances [Ghomeshi played Tom Snout in a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream wearing make-up & “a shirt that looked like a dress”. (p.194)], Mike Farnell’s friend saw me in the communal changing area & bluntly asked me if I was gay.  I wasn’t sure if it would be a good thing or not to tell this guy I was gay.  Maybe he was gay.  Maybe he would like it if I were gay, too.  I said no.  But I wasn’t entirely sure.  And nor would I have thought it a bad thing to be gay.  Maybe the make-up and the mauve dress I had to wear as Tom Snout were a message sent from above.  I certainly liked Bowie.  He was a man who sometimes dressed like a woman.  And I was smitten with Wendy partly because she was like Bowie.  I was obsessing over a girl who reminded me of a man who dressed like a girl.  These were confusing times.”
(Chapter 9, p.195)

20. “On the subway ride home [from the 1982 Police Picnic CNE concert], Wendy and I didn’t say much to each other…After Eglinton station, the crowded subway car emptied enough for us to share seats next to each other facing the direction of home.  Wendy and I were both looking straight ahead. I was tired…I suddenly became very intimidated by the thought of doing anything that Wendy might consider uncool.”
(Chapter 9, pgs.203-4)

21. “I’d certainly deduced that girls fancied rock singers.”
(Chapter 10, p.207)

22. “The morning announcements were a thankless endeavour but a big step into prominence by my standards…Somehow, I took the place of our vice-principal…The vice-principal…had been holding down the morning announcements duty for the first few months of my Grade 9 year.  He had a temper that could spring up like burnt toast…Some students later claimed they overheard the vice-principal…curtly say ‘Oh, fuck it.’ over the PA system [Ghomeshi claims the VP was having trouble properly cuing up to the beginning of a cassette version of O Canada one fateful morning.  It “proved to be his breaking point” which is why Ghomeshi took over for him “every morning” in “early 1982″.]…It wouldn’t be something a vice-principal was supposed to say to an audience of students.”
(Chapter 10, pgs.208-9)

23. “Once [while doing the morning announcements], I used a Bowie quote from the song ‘What In The World’ on the album Low about being out of control and in the mood for love…’What in the world can you do, I’m in the mood for your love’ would later become my graduating quote in the Thornlea yearbook in 1986.”
(Chapter 10, p. 210)

24. “No popularity came from being the kid who informed everyone that schoolwork had to begin.  And it’s not as if girls would like a guy because he did the morning announcements.  Not even the nerdy girls…But I was good at it.  And one time, when Paula Silverman found out I was the voice, she told me I sounded ‘sexy.’  And she wore short shorts.  And her compliment made me feel good, because I figured I was like a broadcaster — a ‘sexy’ broadcaster.  And being a broadcaster seemed cool.”
(Chapter 10, p. 211)

25. “…I was confused in Grade 9…there were times when I couldn’t quiet the voices in my head.  The voices would remind me I was a fake.  An imposter…the voices in my head were a reminder of my ongoing life as an imposter.  The voices would also point out that I wasn’t who I was made out to be in song…It wasn’t about how I sang.  My singing didn’t really suck.  The point was, the quality of my singing was not the point if I wasn’t sure who I was.  I was confused.”
(Chapter 10, pgs.211-2)

26. “If only I could sing the lyrics [to Ebony & Ivory during a concert] like I meant them.  If only I could really believe I wasn’t a fraud.”
(Chapter 10, p. 214)

27. “It was positive being in the presence of Bob [Ghomeshi’s high school music teacher who insisted students call him by his first name.].  He seemed to exist in a perennially jovial state.  I only once saw Bob get angry and lose his temper…I could see that Bob was getting angry at the [off-beat] tapping [by a “rhythmically challenged” singer].  Midway through [Toto’s] ‘Africa’, Bob suddenly stopped playing and slammed the piano cover down over the keys.

‘If you’re going to tap along, make sure you do it in time!’

Bob was steaming mad…I’d never seen him like that.  And it didn’t make sense that a normal person would become so bothered by a rhythmic transgression.  That’s when I knew he was a real drummer.  He was badass about rhythm.  That’s when I knew Bob was one of us.”
(Chapter 10, p.217)

28. “Singers aren’t always filled with glee.  They can be quite morose.”
(Chapter 10, p.218)

29. “Kim [Richardson, daughter of singer Jackie Richardson; Ghomeshi “would later become very close friends” with her “and know her mom as Auntie Jackie.” (p.221)] was tall & had really, really big breasts.  When she wore her tight Van Halen T-shirts, her breasts were emphasized, and it was hard not to look at them, even though it was not right to be looking at them.”
(Chapter 10, p.222)

30. “Kim was one of the best singers around…She was a dear friend and had distractingly large breasts.”
(Chapter 10, p.227)

31. “Maybe this [concert where he sang Ebony & Ivory with Kim as a duet] was another colourful example of the paradox that was me in 1982 and beyond.  I was a terribly sensitive and insecure soul who wanted to be accepted.  I wanted to fade into the woodwork.  And yet I never shied away from putting myself out there in some form of potentially masochistic public adventure.  It’s like I needed to keep proving to myself as much as to others that I wouldn’t succumb to judgment.  So, as much as I feared being disliked, I created the conditions where I might polarize reaction…I would soldier on and pursue my passions–sometimes recklessly toying with the implications.  Maybe not all that much has changed as I’ve gotten older.  For most of my life, people have assumed I’m a confident guy with a Teflon exterior.  That you could say anything about me–or to me–and it will just wash away because of the strength of my ego or character.  That’s pretty much the opposite of the truth.  But criticism has never fully prevented me from pursuing my goals or what I believed in.  I somehow wouldn’t let it.”
(Chapter 10, pgs.228-9)

32. “Kim and I stood at the front, singing along and doing a tw0-step dance the way Sonny and Cher would have done, if Cher had been a tall black woman with giant breasts and Sonny had been a skinny Middle Eastern kid.”
(Chapter 10, p.230)

33. “…a confused ethnic kid with New Wave clothing and brownish skin earned applause for playing the role of Ivory at my biggest concert to date.  I started to think of it as a character that I was playing.  That’s right.  Maybe I was increasingly just a character.  That’s what Bowie had done for most of his career.  Maybe it was okay.”
(Chapter 10, p.231)

34. “There were some messed-up sides of me that I decided Wendy simply didn’t need to see.”
(Chapter 10, p.231)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2014
2:44 p.m.

Published in: on December 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 (Part One)

Two years ago, then-CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi published a memoir.  Entitled 1982, it mostly focuses on his first year of high school.  It’s not a very good book.  Ok, there’s a sweet chapter about him & a friend meeting two members of Rush outside a recording studio, an amusing Gowan observation, some welcome Persian insight & occasionally charming parental anecdotes, but overall, it’s unamusingly repetitive, self-indulgent, often asskissy and remarkably patronizing.  Ghomeshi often explains things based on the faulty presumption that his readers are all complete idiots.  (We know what a tape deck is, jackass.)

But in the aftermath of damning media reports (mostly from the Toronto Star & indie journo Jesse Brown) that led to his recent arrest on multiple sexual assault charges, the book can’t help but be read in a whole different context today, particularly the following 51 quotes:

1. “Can you even remember a time before you were creeping photos of ‘hot’ people on Facebook?  Barely.”
(Prologue, p. xiv)

2. “I knew what a whorehouse was.  I knew it was a place were hookers worked.  It was probably a house full of sexy whores.  I knew this because I had seen something similar on the Friday-night Baby Blue Movies on Citytv when my parents were upstairs.”
(Chapter 1, p. 14)

3. “There were no ‘crack-whore’ streets or red-light districts…I wish I could say that Thornhill[, Ontario] has since devolved into a dangerous ‘hood filled with hookers & crime-ridden back alleys.  I wish I could tell you that my old stomping grounds have become bloodied and busted.  That would be cred.  But I can’t.”
(Chapter 1, p.19)

4. “[My mother] seemed to overlook the minor detail that my name was Jian and I was the only ethnic kid on the street, other than the Olsons.  And the Olsons were black.  And black wasn’t really ethnic.”
(Chapter 2, p.26)

5. “You probably know that song [Dan Hill’s Sometimes When We Touch] and that end part [“I wanna hold you till I die/Till we both break down and cry/I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides”].  And that sentiment would strike a very poignant chord in therapy sessions a couple of decades later.”
(Chapter 2, p.33)

6. “We didn’t have text messages or Facebook or IM-ing or DM-ing or BBM-ing in the 80s.  Communicating with someone you liked involved high-stakes exposure and risk.”
(Chapter 3, p.49)

7. “Forbes was probably about six feet tall, but he seemed even taller because he had a spiked mohawk hairdo atop his six feet.  He had army pants on & a white tank top.  In later years, this kind of shirt would be referred to as a ‘wife beater’.  But at the time it was just a tank top. Or ‘white shirt with no sleeves’.”
(Chapter 3, p.56)

8. “…I was a different kind of unique…I didn’t really fit in…My search for appropriate role models often came up empty.  And being myself didn’t seem a very appealing option.”
(Chapter 4, p.68)

9. “Mitch Toker carried a knife & had a reputation for being ‘wild’.  I had secretly hoped that Mitch would hook up with my older sister, Jila, when I was in Grade 7.  That way, he would have to like me so my sister wouldn’t break up with him.  I tried to get them together on at least 3 occasions.  But one day, when Jila came to meet me at Toke’s house on our way to the mall, Mitch made the wrong move.  Seems that as Jila was waiting outside, Mitch called down to her while hanging out of one of the upper windows with no clothing on.  Jila did not witness his whole naked body, but she could certainly see his bare chest…She [later] explained that she had not been impressed with Mitch’s insistence upon ‘dangling from the window & displaying his naked torso’… Things didn’t look too positive after that for a Mitch & Jila romance.”
(Chapter 6, pgs.121-2)

10. “John Ruttle wanted to ask Valerie Tiberius to go to the Journey concert, but he didn’t want her to feel like it was too much of a date.  He wanted her to think it wasn’t a date, even though he wanted it to be a date.  You see, if it felt too much like a date, she might say no.  I learned that this was often the case with girls.  They wanted to be taken out, but if it seemed like it was a date, it might create too much pressure and ‘expectations’.”
(Chapter 7, p.133)

11.  “Mothers are natural arbiters of people you want to date.  Or people you think you want to date.  Or people you want to take on a date but are trying to do it in a way that won’t be considered a date so they won’t say no.”
(Chapter 7, p.135)

12. “Experiencing a loss can make you forget about putting on airs.  Maybe that’s what happened after I lost my Adidas bag.  [Forbes threw it at Joan Jett during her set with The Blackhearts at the 1982 Police Picnic concert at the CNE.]  Or maybe it was a genetic predisposition to react calmly to catastrophe.  My father had a knack for bringing calm to a storm.  He could react with impressive composure when truly horrible things went down…My father could be calm when we needed him to be.  Maybe that had rubbed off on me.”
(Chapter 8, pgs.163-4)

13. “I should explain that by ‘a drink’, I mean a Coca-Cola.  Actually, I mean 2 Cokes…I know that ‘a drink’ sounds like alcohol.  That’s why I said it.  That would be cool.  But this wasn’t alcohol.  And whether it was alcohol or not, I liked the idea of taking care of Wendy and showing her I could assume control.”
(Chapter 8, p.165)

14. “…that was the image I had of goth guys in the summer of ’82.  Non-eaters.  Maybe I thought real goths would have some rule confining them to consume only cool & gross things like human blood or imitation human blood.”
(Chapter 8, p.166)

15. “[The Talking Heads] were like Bowie.  Especially David Byrne  Just like Bowie, David Byrne would have had trouble fitting in on any given day in Thornhill.  He was artsy & odd.  And Bowie was odd.  And knowing this gave me confidence.  Their existence meant I wasn’t weird.  Or rather, that I might be weird, but that it was okay.  Or that it was acceptable to want to be weird.”
(Chapter 9, p.180)

16. “One other essential tenet of the Theatre Troupe experience was sex.  That came with the territory, too.  Sexual cross-pollination seemed to be part of the burden of being a dedicated theatre student in [Room] 213 [of Ghomeshi’s Thornhill high school].  This was not mandated by the teachers, of course, but developed quite naturally amongst those enrolled in the program.  Almost all of the students dutifully obliged in the sex part.  I was a novice in this area, but eager to learn.  The truth was, I was generally too intimidated to act on anything with the older Troupe members.  Not yet.  That was all way beyond me at this point.”
(Chapter 9, p.183)

17. “My replies [to my father] were generally delivered in a patronizing tone.  That was important.  It demonstrated that I was ridiculing his mistaken ideas.”
(Chapter 9, p.184)

18. “To tell you the truth, notwithstanding some silly moments, it was in Theatre Troupe that I got much of my greatest high school education.  It was in Troupe that I truly learned to question everything.  The news.  History.  Ideas.  Traditions.  Laws.  And this questioning came in very handy.  I would later learn that questioning everything is called ‘critical thinking.'”
(Chapter 9, p.187)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2014
2:03 p.m.

Published in: on December 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm  Comments (1)