Game of Thrones Thoughts (S4E2)

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Spoilers below, you have been warned…

1. When Ramsay was pursuing the girl in the forest, were those the same two slave girls that were with Theon before Theon was “cut” by Ramsay?

2. Difference from book…it was Sir Ilyn Payne that trained Jaime, not Bronn. Jaime chose Sir Ilyn because he has no tongue and can’t speak.

3. Nice death scene, Joffrey is gone! 

4. Cersei was at her bitchy best!

5. Tyrion’s problems are just beginning..If he thought Cersei was bad, he ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!!!

6. Charles Dance is perfectly cast as Tywin.

7. Lady Olenna is a force to be reckoned with.

8.Best scene of many good scenes…Jofrrey chopping up the book that Tyrion gave to him with his new Valyrian sword.

9. Price Oberyn scene with Cersei was amazing.

10. If you thought that Game of Thrones was interesting before, hold on because it’s about to get a whole lot better!

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What is This? Who Am I?

For the longest time, I’ve thought about what kind of blog do I want to write. Is this blog to be a funny, political, whimsical, stupid or about sports. I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t have to be about just one thing. It can be all these things that make up what is me. 

I’m 46 years old and have discovered that I’ve learned alot just this past year. I have a self fulfilling prophecy when it to comes to women. I’ve realized that my love of hockey has diminished but I still watch. I’ve come to realize that my kids need me more than I need me. It’s become clear that I need a change but not the kind of change what makes a big announcemet about.  It’s the kind of slow change that will come only in increments, mostly small.

Today, I did something stupid. It won’t be the last time that I do a stupid thing but I hope it will be the first time I learn from a stupid thing. 

I had a great conversation with a friend of mine on just such a topic today. It was a conversation I needed to have. A conversation that may have just saved my life from perpetual misery. I can only look forward, no more looking back. I’ve lived in the past long enough and I don’t want that anymore.

This blog will be about the journey, a journey that hopefully, will take me away from where I am and deposit me onto the map that leads to me on  a wonderful journey.

 

 

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Howard Roark…..and Me

I was twenty years old perusing the classic fiction section of a favorite bookstore. The kind of bookstore that was small with friendly people who were more friend than clerk. I had just finished Great Expectations and was hoping for some more “modern” fair. I purchased The Fountainhead” for 1.99 in a hardcover edition. The book was a little banged up but for 1.99, why bicker?

The first sentence showed me that this would be an audacious read. There he was, the protaganist, standing naked upon a cliff about to dive into the choppy sea below. The symbolism of that first sentence was lost on me until I read on further.

I have since read the book many more times and although I found the writing to way too descriptive, the idea of the book was what resonated with me.

Anyone who knows The Fountainhead will try to tell you that this is a young idealist’s kind of story. It appeals to young people in university who are full of vigor and are chafing to make their mark in society. I did read this during my twenties but the idea that it should no longer appeal to me now that I’m in forties is ridiculous.

Howard Roark is his name and integrity is his game. No one, not his lover or anyone else will change who he is. He is unmoved by the forces that circle around him like a bunch of vultures and he stays true to himself despite those who would make him kneel. He is me, or rather who I would like to be. I identify with him because I think like him despite everyone teling me to do the opposite of what I believe.

The antagonist of the story is Elsworth Moncton Toohey. His intitials are EMT which spell empty and that’s exactly what he is. An empty shell of a man who can manipulate his way into people’s lives by preying on people’s fundamental weakness of seeing their own values through other people’s eyes. He is a small not very strong man who is purely evil. He cannot beat you with strength but he will beat you the best way possible….he will make you beat yourself. Ellsworth hates Howard in the worst way and tries to ruin him but has trouble doing it. Howard can’t be bought, cajoled, persuaded or blackmailed into anything.

Then there’s Peter Keating, a man of no self worth who is lauded by Ellsworth and therefore thinks he’s great because others like him. By the end of the book, I felt sorry for this character as his destruction was of his own making….and he knew it but in the end was helpless to stop the fraud that he was.

These three characters are the makeup of what society is. Most of us are Keating, striving to be acceptable and not believing in who you are but what you appear to be. How being politically correct is more important to him than being true to himself. How other’s opinions are golden to him and how in the end, it’s impossible to change. Blissful until you realize that it’s should have been the other way around.

Some of us are Ellsworth in that control is everything. Religion is the most common Ellsworth analogy in that one has to come to into it voluntarily. Then it sucks out every single individual thought you could have until it leaves you so malliable that it takes you for everything. It destroys from within. There are other Ellworth’s out there like governments that have turned regions into nanny states. Schools that teach nonsense instead of facts ( I’m looking you religious based schools…itelligent design as fact???). Then there is television morality, like a bunch of ravenous vultures of human dignity. Picking a topic and focusing on it in ways to make you think a certain way. Complete with ominous music to accompany their directing of where you should think. Using emotion as fact instead of actual fact as fact. Corporations that suck the life out of individualism in order to contol your thoughts and money. What’s sad is that even though its blatant, people just fall for their schemes all the time. Like how governments invent a problem and then propose a solution to the made up problem. Just ask victims of Tort Reform.

Then there is Howard. In my circle of friends and in the workplace I am the Howard character. I have paid a heavy price in terms of social status for saying what I believe to be true. I back up what I say with facts that annoy the others who can’t properly back up their own claims. But, I would rather live a life of solitude than mingle with people who just can’t think for themselves. I am not always right and have been proven wrong. The key word here is..proven. Proof is what’s needed, not feelings or forced politeness that makes the backbone of political correctness.

What I have found is over time, people you truly respect even though they may have different opinions do show up in my life and I treasure these people for they are as rare as a perfect day.

I’ve lived this way all my life despite the setbacks….l hope that if Howard were real, he’d be proud.

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Five Underrated Genesis Songs

I have been a huge fan of Genesis since 1980, The first song that I heard from them was Abacab. I bought the album of the same name and have enjoyed them ever since. Yes, even Calling All Stations.

Here is a list of their most underrated songs.Please note that this is purely subjective and is not a definitive list by any means!

1. Heathaze (Duke): This is a typical effort from Tony Banks in that it takes a while to get into the song. But once there I felt the  loneliness from the lyrics. The beautiful arrangement gives the song a kind of longing, a sense of someone on the outside, longing to join in…but can’t. It has an soaring chorus and is sung very well by Phil Collins.  It starts out slowly and takes a while to get going but once it does you want the song to continue on and on. The best and most emotional song on Duke.

2. One Day (From Genesis to Revelation); This first effort from Genesis is largely ignored from Genesis fans. But this one song although very innocent and sounding very Bee Gee(ish) just screams that Genesis would be a force someday. Musically, it stands up against the better commercial Genesis efforts. It sounds like it was made for the sixties…it was in fact done in 1969. A solid effort for a first time out and a really nice love song.

3. One Man’s Fool (Calling All Stations): The much maligned Ray Wilson fronted version of Genesis. Calling All Stations was better than We Can’t Dance. It was better than Abacab and it was better than Duke. The title track could be on this list too. One Man’s Fool starts out slowly (ah Tony Banks again) and indeed, the opening 5 minutes of the song are not as strong and the closing 6 minutes. Those  final 6 minutes  soar with passion and purpose. The lyrics are very powerful during the last 6 minutes and it’s their best played music on the album. It’s a crying shame that they did not continue with Ray Wilson. He more than held his own and I like the direction they were going in. I still have my ticket stub from the cancelled show in Montreal. Too bad…and maddening when you consider that the album did well in Europe but couldn’t penetrate here. Typical North American ignorance of music. Note: Calling All Stations is their 4th best selling album…good on you, Ray!

4. Hairless Heart (The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway): To pick out a two minute instrumental from a classic double album says something about the music. But it encapsulates everything that was good about the Gabriel lineup of Genesis. A true gem.

5. Living Forever (We Can’t Dance): This song did have some commercial success but it is overshadowed by No Son Of Mine or I Can’t Dance. It is the last song from them to have an old Genesis feel. I know that Fading Lights has the same feel in terms of old sounding Genesis but Fading Lights just isn’t as good. Interesting Lyrics with a great sound and a nice finish to boot.

This is not to say that all other Genesis songs are not that great. This list is for the under appreciated songs in their catalog.

Honourable mentions: Calling All Stations, Undertow, Many Too Many, Counting Out Time. Your Own Special Way, Not About Us, Me and Sarah Jane.

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Christopher Hitchens

It is not easy to write about someone that you have never met. All one has to go on is the public persona which can be misleading even at the best of times.

Christopher Hitchens’ public persona may be enough though, in that he was prolific through essays and public appearances.

I came to know of Christopher Hitchens through his book “god is not great, how religion poisons everything“. I had just finished reading Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” and was looking for a similar type of subject for which to keep reading. I was struck by his writing style and how he ripped apart arguments that would easily offend the faithful. Being somewhat of a person who lacks empathy for the silly ones among us, I  felt a kindred spirit kind of feeling as I continued reading.

After reading the book, I searched for Hitchens on youtube to see if he had any thoughts to share on video. I was gobsmacked by what I saw! It was a treasure trove of debates, appearances, recollections and stoic braveness in the face of death.

It was through these videos that I came to know him. It was enough. A fierce debater with an incredible reservoir of knowledge. A performer at heart who could make an audience laugh at just the right time. A raconteur as only someone who has really “been there and done that” could attest. A person who did not suffer fools gladly. A man of fierce principle who stood by what he thought and felt.

His passionate defense of his good friend Salman Rushdie . While others in Rushdie’s circle of friends deserted him, Hitchens stood by him and shielded him from the people who wanted Rushdie dead. He had Rushdie in his home, effectively risking his own life to help his friend. A truer friend would be hard to find.

He went on Fox news and declared his feelings on Falwell. He wrote scathing books and columns on Henry Kissinger and Mother Theresa. Only the bravest among us could go after such sacred cows.

But it was in his handling of his sickness and ultimate death that showed me the great strength of this man of principle and honour. It was during this time that he did not waiver in his beliefs. It was in this time that he continued debating..and winning. Winning against the like of Tony Blair,  an accomplished speaker in his own right.

 

It was also in this time that his friends came out to tell the world what a great man earth will lose. Their love for him was evident and touching at the same time. They chose to do this while he was alive because they knew that there is no heaven for him to go to so that he could see and hear what is being said of him. Their testimonials were filled with ripe anecdotes which made me appreciate him more.

I understand the need for comfort that religion brings when people pass on. But the comfort people feel doesn’t make it true. When you’re gone, that’s it, no more you, in any form. Hitchens is gone but his body of work isn’t. That’s what will make him immortal.

I read his books and essays with the sound of his voice in my head. I respect his opinions because I know the amount of research he’s done to come to those opinions.

I never met him but I do miss him.

Goodnight Mr. Hitchens and thank you.

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Ted Bird

Ted Bird on TSN 990

Ted Bird, while at CHOM, did something virtually unheard of in media today. He left his high paying spot on the morning show on a matter of principal.

He is no newcomer to the world of radio. He has honed his skills through many stints on various radio stations and has worn many hats during that process. But it was his stint on CHOM alongside Terry Dimonte that made him a star on English Montrea radiol. His dry wit and good sense of humour has served him well. So, when Dimonte left for Calgary, Ted was ready to take over as morning man without his “sidekick” of many years.

In a perfect world, Ted Bird would have rode the CHOM horse making wisecracks and playing classic rock to the day he decided to call it quits on his terms…like George Balcan, Neil McKenty and Earl Halderman did before him. But, this not a perfect world, he was dealt a program director that was not a broadcast man. So, Bird quit rather than be subjected to dealing with a self proclaimed man of no radio knowledge (For full details as to the departure I refer you to Mitch Melnick’s blog at http://mitchmelnick.com/webshow/…just scroll to the Ted Bird page). Bird just decided to leave and more importantly said WHY he was leaving. The “why” was a scathing indictment of the modern radio business in all it’s bland glory.

People just don”t do this anymore. When Steve Kuleos is told to scream for no reason on That’s Hockey Tonight, he does it. When Dan O’Toole and Jay Onrait are given comedy acts to perform instead of sports news, they do it. When news anchors are told to be less like Edward R. Murrow and more like Oprah, they do it. Not many will leave a great paying job, popularity and comfort in order to stand alone in a field of integrity. Ted Bird was among the “not many”.

The fallout could have been nasty for him. But, K103 came calling and Ted listened. He joined the station to co-host the morning show and lo and behold he fell in love in radio all over again. Ted Bird has now joined TSN 990 where he has given the morning show a dose of old favorites such as Don Scary, Revisionist History and of course Bird Droppings.

On a micro level, he left radio because he couldn’t accept the way it was going. On a macro level, he showed me that believing in quality matters and that sometimes, very rarely, someone that stands up to denounce something can end up back on top.

Ted Bird is deserving of respect…..and he has mine.

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My review of CJAD..Montreal’s news talk station.

I grew up listening to, CJAD thoroughly enjoying the likes of George Balkan, Gord Sinclair,  Earl Halderman,  Ed Cowell and Ted Blackman among others. So,  I should have a soft spot for CJAD.

Talk radio is about personality more than  it is about content. It is necessary to get people to listen so that content could have a chance to be heard, the way to do that is to get people interested in the announcers first.

My day with CJAD begins with Andrew Peplowski and Trudie Mason on their Live at 5  show. These two have a nice chemistry going as they read the newspaper together. That’s pretty much the entire 30 minute segment. They read news from Breakingnews.com and then they read the news from the newspaper. But it is informative and gives a decent overview of what the Montreal papers (and Globe and Mail) have to offer.  All in all, not a bad half hour. (B)

Andrew Carter delivers what a morning show should deliver in that it serves up light, entertaining news and information to start your day. Funny, he is,  and he is well suited to the role of morning man.  Nothing bad to say about him. (B)

Tommy Shnurmacher could have been a one trick pony when he started, as he was all about the language  debate and the separatists, but he has emerged as the star the station. No one trick pony, this one, but a burning cauldron of wit and sarcasm that makes him and entertaining listen. I don’t always agree with him,  but I don’t have to.  His show begins at 9am with the gang of four, a group of the station’s personalities discussing the day’s hot topics.  Egbert Gaye is the weak spot of the 30 segment.  His  “systemic racism” ideology makes him a the one trick pony that Schnurmacher could have been.  He just can ‘t defend his opinions well and is often mocked by the other 3 members of the gang of four for it. Graeme Decarie was well suited for the tussles with Schnurmacher but, for some reason, he ain’t there no more. But he was the most intelligent, eloquent of the bunch…maybe thats why he’s gone???  Gang of four (C) Tommy solo (B+)

In all fairness, I don’t care for Ric Peterson’s politics.  So that is what may be clouding my judgment of him. As a broadcaster, he is a true pro but his four o’clock show seemed liked an open audition for fox news (sun news maybe?).  He’s toned down a bit for his 12 o’clock show which is a good thing.  Maybe Suzanne Desautels has been a calming influence on him? I don’t care for his politics at all but, like Schnurmacher’s politics,  I don’t have to.  A little less venom from him is nice, but stop with the open audition for ultra right wing nonsense….and a big yay for the return of Suzanne Desautels to Montreal radio. Peterson solo (C) Peterson and Desautels (B-)

Thank goodness for Aaron Rand! Rand has been able to trade music for talk and he also manages a bit of toughness into his show. His interviews are lively and he is the best thing to happen to the station since Balcan came back from CFCF. (A)

As for the other stuff….

  • It is highly annoying that their Weather Center is nothing more than the Environment Canada Website.
  • Can they possibly say CJAD any more than they do? Is there a contest there to see how many times they can say it? Stop it, already!
  • Their news broadcast center????  Please, a little more honesty.
  • Sports segments are a joke, 2 minutes of commercials within the 5 minute segment. What a waste of Farber time..the guy has 30 seconds to spout his wisdom….please Farber,  TSN 990 is more suited to your immense talents.
  • Their trivia show is most entertaining. Laxer and Fisher have great chemistry.
  • I miss Dan Laxer during the weekdays….ditto for Kevin Holden
  • What’s with the fascination towards children? It seems to occupy their every waking moment.
  • Their sound bites from their newscasts are infuriatingtly small! I don’t know what their interviewees are saying!
  • Coast to coast is just plain sad.  This show just doesn’t have any credibility. The few times credible people are there doesn’t make up for all the nonsense in between.

All in all, CJAD isn’t terrible but it isn’t what it once was either. Their credibility takes a hit whenever their psychics are on air. They are capable of being so much more. Instead they went the right wing, confrontational way…filled by crackpot shows (coast to coast) and psychics and Harper worshippers. Their saving grace lies in their on air personalities. (B-)

(I have not listened to the Barry Morgan show  enough in order to give it a fair review)

But what do I know, I’m just a bus driver.

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