“Do you think that the metrics the Academy Awards will start applying in 2024 regarding the composition of at least 30% of the cast and crew by under-represented groups in order for a film to even qualify for the Best Picture Oscar nomination is appropriate? Or, do you share Richard Dreyfuss’ opinion that because filmmaking is an art form, imposing such criteria in order for a film to even be considered for an Oscar is inappropriate?“
It is as ridiculous as the publishing world rewriting books to conform to today’s politically correct woke-driven standards. It is a form of censorship that we cannot allow to happen. I believe the best people applying for the position should be employed. I’m not naive, I fully understand that there are bigoted factions in society and sometimes affirmative action initiatives are appropriate. There are other ways to ensure a representative workforce. Stifling art is not the place it should be applied.
Art must be judged on its merit, not on a headcount of arbitrarily delineated categories of people. Salman Rushdie said it best of the literary world at the 2023 British Book Awards when he was talking about publishers re-writing works by authors such as Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl. “Books have to come to us from their time and be of their time, and if that’s difficult to take, don’t read them. Read another book, but don’t try and remake yesterday’s work in the light of today’s attitudes.”
While Hollywood may not be re-editing or updating older works there is a push to rewrite the screenplays of the stories Rushdie talks about to conform to today’s rules. I point to the example of The Aeronauts, a fictional film based on the true history of scientists James Glaisher and Henry Tracy Coxwell. When the screenplay was being written and the cast chosen there was a conscious effort to replace Henry Tracy Coxwell with the fictional Amelia Wren (the name of the character, no doubt chosen to mimic that of female heroine Amelia Earheart, only serving to further muddle the true history) to make the film more inclusive. Essentially rewriting the past for public consumption and to an audience that will take it as a fact and never consider looking up the real history.
While I believe that all people who are qualified should be able to apply and work in the film industry (or any industry) I suspect the new rules the Academy will impose only encourage more bowdlerizing of art and history and that is a form of censorship that cannot be tolerated.
I attempted to respond to Fandango’s provocative question last week but as has become the norm of late, life and all its twists left the piece uncompleted. Even Sunday Digest got left behind and so I will combine the two into this week’s “Tuesday Digest”.
Many will not like my view on the gender dilemma sweeping the planet…
We can quibble over sex and gender and their meanings, origins and entwined evolution in the English language ad nauseam. It changes nothing.
Everyone is born as we are into this world just as our God, Mother Nature or the alien race that seeded the galaxy intended. Evolution is a messy convoluted process with unlimited variation. It is a science experiment and we are the subjects. Our double helix, right-hand twisting DNA strands are forever being manipulated and re-sequenced in the petri dish of life.
Nature’s overarching mission is to genetically engineer changes to benefit the species over millennia and with a singular goal – SURVIVAL. As with any experiment, some adaptations will make the species stronger, some will yield no evolutionary advantage, while others may prove detrimental. It is the scientific method at its purist yet most brutal extremes. None of it is relevant on an individual level. I carry one of those detrimental mutations in my DNA. It fuels a relatively benign auto-immune disorder with a possible small role in determining when I depart from this world. Who are we to determine which adaptations nature renders desirable or abhorrent. Especially based on the definition of a few words in the English language. Humans love to catalogue, categorize and assign value but in reality, we are not very well suited to judge the Universe’s grand design.
I believe people should be allowed to live as they are. Accepted the way they were created. For there is beauty in all our forms. Take the idea of transitioning, the entire process is predicated on preconceived notions of biological sex and gender norms. Just because we can alter biological sex (at least on the surface) doesn’t mean we should rewrite the book. The more viable path to physical and psychological well-being would be to accept who you are, as you are. More importantly, society needs to embrace everyone as they are and accept the gifts each and every one of us contributes to the human experience.
I am not a fool, I understand the need for limits, laws, and established societal norms to maintain order. We can’t allow murders, pedophiles, and the various monsters that haunt our nightmares to roam free but that is not what we are discussing. As long as people are loving, accepting, and mutual in heart and mind why do we care what the definition of gender, biological sex, sexual orientation or any other term is. The fact remains those identifying as transgender comprise a relatively small number of individuals. Why we have allowed this topic to dominate the news is mind-boggling. It seems blatantly obvious that if we just love and accept everyone as they are there is no issue.
A couple of updates. Last week’s Digest covered my binge-watch of “The Last Kingdom.” After some of your comments, I broke down and watched the movie “Seven Kings Must Die” and was pleasantly surprised. It was entertaining and also held to the history better than I’d expected. It did a great job of wrapping up the series and I’d recommend watching it.
After exorcising their first-round demons my (no I don’t own them) Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to fall flat on their faces. With Boston’s early departure the Leafs, who haven’t won a cup since 1967 (the year before I was born) have dropped three straight to the Florida Panthers and have look gawd awful doing it. This team has the talent but clearly lacks something – heart, intestinal fortitude, desire – because they have not only lost all three games, they have failed to even show up. Nothing short of a miracle will prevent their exit from Lord Stanley’s tournament, I predict it will be golf season as soon as tomorrow night.
This week was a Death Cab for Cutie kinda week musically. In particular, the Dan Gibbard fronted Seattle outfit’s Plans album which included the classics Crooked Teeth and Soul Meets Body.
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. Everyone is said to get there 15 minutes, Fandango’s question asks us to explore fame and expose our claim on it. This week’s question is…
“What is your claim to fame?”
Back when I attended Lakehead University I would take the train back home. You don’t really get a feel for how big Ontario is until you try and cross it. The trip from Toronto to Thunder Bay, itself the amalgamation of Fort William and Port Arthur sitting at the western end of Lake Superior, is a 20-hour train ride. That only moves you from two points within Ontario. There is still another ten hours from Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border in the west and six from Toronto to the Quebec border in the east. Alaska and Texas are small in comparison to Ontario’s vast geographical area.
As odd as it sounds VIA Rail (Canada’s Amtrak equivalent) did not pass through the City of Thunder Bay. It ran along CN Rail’s northern route through the small logging community of Armstrong situated about 250 km and 3 hours north of Thunder Bay.
At the time, Armstrong was home to about 1300 residents, about 100 more than call it home today. The town had two bars, both nothing more than one-room dives. The first location played classic rock music through an old Jukebox and the other played country and western through a karaoke machine. This was 1993 so Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, and Reba McEntire were filling the airwaves and with the advent of Soundscan to properly track record sales, the genre was seeing a resurgence fueled by young and charismatic artists across North America. My girlfriend and I were listening to “New Country” as it had been dubbed, hitting up local rodeos on weekends and spending nights cutting a rug at the local honky tonks.
Anyway, here we are in this tiny bar, me in my deerskin cowboy boots, blue and black Garth Brooks cowboy shirt and a black ten-gallon hat. Naturally, my girlfriend insisted I go up and sing her a song. She even picks out the Randy Travis’ classic “Diggin’ Up Bones” and me being a fool in love agrees to make an arsehole of myself for all to see. For my efforts, I may have spent some time in the back seat of a fogged-up car before hopping on the train back to Hogtown, but my memory is a bit fuzzy.
So here is this fool on a makeshift stage crooning to the ball boppin’ across the screen of the Karaoke display. The room is full of about 25-30 mostly Aboriginal Canadians from the nearby reservation. When the music finally ends and I set the microphone back on the stand the room erupts into applause, a few so moved they even jump to their feet to give me a standing ovation. Later on, as we were sitting at our table sippin’ on Molson Canadian, the only beer they served, one of the patrons who was clearly three sheets to the wind stopped by our table and insisted I should consider starting a career as a singer/musician, he even suggested he could talk to the owner of the bar to get me a gig for a few nights.
FYI, you will be happy (or at least your ears will) that my singing career has remained largely confined to an empty car or the bathroom shower!!!
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question deals with memory and the things we believed to be true. Although my post does not deal in absolute truths and likely veers from Fandango’s original concept, it does speak to a realization of something I believed would happen but never did. This week’s question is…
“Have you ever been sure that you knew something to be true only to find out that what you thought you knew to be true was, in fact, not true? If so, what was it and how did you find out that it wasn’t true?”
Canada has always been divided along language and religious lines. A legacy left by the British who conquered the French on the plains of Abraham but allowed the French communities to retain their language and customs in Lower Canada, mainly for political reasons back in Europe. The province of Quebec would eventually include most of Lower Canada within its boundary at the time of Canadian confederation in 1867.
Its French heritage has always made Quebec unique within a united Canada, especially when compared to the other nine predominately English-speaking provinces. The most obvious difference is language and this idea of Quebec being a distinct society or a nation much in the same vein as the Aboriginal populations of North America such as the Sioux or Iroquois Nations. The truth is a lot of that rhetoric is a thin veil that the pure laine1francophone minority holds onto like a security blanket, designed to hide their xenophobic and often racist agenda.
I was only five or six, too young to remember the FLQ crisis in the early 70s but I was certainly old enough to remember the first of two referenda held in Quebec’s deluded attempt to (kind of) separate from Canada. I say kind of because many Quebecers believe the Federal government would continue to financially support an independent Quebec and continue to provide the transfer of tax monies collected to the new nation after succession. Bwahhh ha ha…
The first referendum, spearheaded by the Parti Québécois (PQ) and then Quebec Premier René Lévesque was held in 1980. Lévesque was a stereotypical chain-smoking Québécois who grew up in the Gaspé. Although his father was a prominent lawyer and he did not grow up impoverished, he was raised in a region of Quebec where the French-speaking population was dirt poor compared to the English, most of whom were descendants of British Loyalists who had fled the American Revolution. This would have a profound effect on his life and his politics. Quebec’s national aspirations would be rejected by 60% of Quebecers in that first bid for independence and although Lévesque would not live to see it, the province would hold a second unsuccessful vote in 1995.
My Grandmother was French Canadian born and raised in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on the western tip of Île de Montréal. She would marry my Grandfather, an anglophone of English and Irish descent and move to Mississauga, Ontario but she would maintain a deep connection to family in La Belle Province. That first referendum tore her family in two, a line drawn between Nationalist and Federalist allegiances, the wounds not fully healed even to this day.
As a kid, I recall a particular evening at my Grandparent’s house. We were off playing in the kitchen, foyer or den while the adults discussed politics in the living room. Lévesque and the coming referendum dominated the conversation. There may have even been some of the Federalist faction of my Grandmother’s family visiting although my memory is less clear on those facts.
What I do remember is my Grandfather getting very heated and stating rather emphatically that René Lévesque would realize his treachery and in some display of remorse for his actions hang himself. I admit, right up until his death of heart failure in 1987 I fully expected to wake up to the news of Lévesque being found, hanged by his own hand from the rafters of his garage. I know a weird fascination for a kid but the memory of my Grandfather’s words have stuck with me for almost half a century.
As for Lévesque, friends and foes alike remember him as a giant of Canadian/Quebec politics. In my view, he was nothing more than a traitor to the values this country holds dear. Separation for Quebec seems more unlikely today than ever. Immigrants continue to flock to Canada and settle across the country. Many hold deep-seated allegiances to the federal government that provided asylum from whatever horrors they left behind in their native lands. As such they tend to have federalist leanings and as the population dynamic continues to evolve in Quebec federalist voices continue to outweigh the desires of the separatists.
Still, many of the policies born from the early PQ and the separatist movement are present in modern-day Quebec as is evident in Bill 96, yet another attempt to eradicate secondary languages and in particular English from the province and the blatantly racist Bill 21 designed to force public servants to remove all vestiges of personal religious symbolism in provincial workplaces.
Although the bill is written to include the removal of all religious symbolism, and sold to the public as an effort to separate church and state. It is advertised as promoting secularism in provincial institutions, but in reality is an attack on minority groups in the province, especially those who have more outwardly visible religious attire such as turbans or hijabs and will have little effect on the province’s Catholics. Most Christian symbolism such as crosses or crucifixes are normally small or hidden beneath clothing and the line between their religious roots and secular prominence have long since blurred making it less likely to be enforced.
Note: 1. The French term pure laine (lit. ’pure wool’ or ‘genuine’, often translated as ‘old stock’ or ‘dyed-in-the-wool’), refers to Québécois people of French-Canadian ancestry, especially those descended from the original settlers of New France who arrived during the 17th and 18th centuries. Citation: Wikipedia.
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question has a musical theme…
“What is your favourite music genre? Why is it your favourite? If you have more than one genre that you prefer, what are they?“
I listen to just about any genre of music.
My playlists are mostly filled with alternative sounds dating from the 80s to the present. They say someone’s musical path is determined by the beats they listen to from the onset of their teenage years and into their early twenties. For me, that was the sounds of the 80s although there was influence from older cousins and friends who were rooted in the classic rock sounds of the 70s. Depeche Mode, The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, U2 and early REM are some of the seminal bands of my generation that found a place on my turntable, along with other influences like Love and Rockets, Roxy Music, Brian Johnson era AC/DC, and the Madchester sounds of the Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses.
As I left college and embark on adult life SoundScan began to change the music scene. Where recorded sales of music were somewhat of a murky business the introduction of the point-of-sale inventory/sales system made it impossible for promoters and music labels to pay off retail outlets to fudge sales for whatever artists they were pushing. In the olden days, the music business could give Hollywood and possibly the mob a run for its money when it comes to being shady.
SoundScan levelled the playing field for Artists. Music sales that had been suppressed began to gain acceptance. Sales numbers could no longer be skewed as accurate barcodes and point-of-sale data collection took over the industry. Artists who were being ripped off now had data to prove it. Backwater sounds like Country and Western benefitted from the change. For years the industry had cannibalized sales from the genre to prop up other acts across other genres. Actual numbers showed that sales were stronger than anyone imagined and where there is money there is investment and marketing and new artists ready to cash in.
As such I found my taste expand through the 90s and artists like Garth Brooks, George Strait and Brooks & Dunn found their way into my 6-disc Pioneer CD player. I even donned cowboy boots and hats and headed out to the local bars to boot scoot and boogie. It wasn’t hard to go there considering the Grunge and Britpop sounds of the early and mid-90s, had run their course and the airways were filled with Top 40 shite from acts like the Spice Girls, Brittney Spears, Mariah Carey and the like. Most of that was an autotune assault on my good senses.
I have always enjoyed Jazz and the Blues and even R&B and early hip/hop. Even today I can listen to acts like Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys and K-os. But Gangsta Rap is an assault on one’s ears. How in a society where we are so willing to cancel someone for an inappropriate comment or a differing opinion, we find it okay for racially charged, misogynistic and downright anti-social music to permeate our airwaves is mind-boggling. My oldest son would disagree with me as he spins the likes of Eminem, Snoop, Post Malone, Dre and other giants of the genre 24/7. I know “spin” is an antiquated term when it comes to music in the streaming era.
Today my alternative tastes have mellowed to a more folksy feel. Vance Joy, Of Monsters and Men, and Mumford and Sons fill my playlists but I still often find myself back at my musical roots. The stomping beats of Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode), the gyrating riff of How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths) or the dark overtones of Lullaby (The Cure) will always have a place in my soul.
Isn’t that the beauty of music though? There is something for everyone, a myriad of sounds to tickle the senses. Even my likes and dislikes are not absolute. Ihave dabbled in Big Bands, Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Industrial, Classical, Opera, Metal, Thrash, Punk, Disco, Trance, Ambient, and even thoughtfully written Hip/Hop. On the other side there are Alternative sounds that aren’t worth my ear. I guess the old adage of “good music is good music” rings true. Happy Listening!
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question follows on the heels of his unfortunate fall from a ladder. I think the accident probably had a huge influence on this week’s question…
“Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?“
While I cannot claim to have required hospitalization or a stay in a rehab facility I wanted to participate so this is as close as I’ve come.
The worst bone break I ever suffered was a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Certainly nothing like Fandango’s ladder/hip mishap. There was no hospital stay outside of the lost hours spent waiting in Emergency but there was lots of physiotherapy after to get back to a full range of motion.
It all started on the first day of school. No, I wasn’t going to school. Those days were long behind on this fateful September 3rd. I was out for my morning ride. I’d just purchased a new road/gravel bike a couple of weeks earlier. Before this bike, I’d been a mountain bike guy. I’d taken many a spill on rocky tree-lined trails with nothing more than bruises and scratches to show. These bones were tough as nails!
But as a guy in my early 50’s it was time for something less dangerous…
Now, back to the first day of school. It was 7:30am and I was out for my 15km morning ride along my usual route. On this morning I was cruising along at about 25km/h, and gaining fast on a group of 15 to 20 high school students walking in the dedicated bike path like a herd of cattle who’ve broken through a barbed wire barrier to obliviously congregate on the road.
As I approached the group they remained oblivious and did not move out of the way. Instead of slowing or stopping, I veered to my right across the grass boulevard towards the empty sideWALK that was ten feet to the right. Notice how I highlighted WALK because that is where they should have been! Anyway, my front wheel caught a rut along the edge of the cement and dug in sending me and the bike ass over tea kettle. My head (thank God for helmets) hit first with my 6’1″ frame crashing down close behind.
The kids, no longer oblivious, looked over as I skidded across the concrete and popped up seeming unscathed. Yeah, I was bleeding from various scraps and scratches but when some of them asked me if I was okay, I insisted I was alright. After all, my head and frame were still attached to each other! In fairness, the adrenaline of the moment had me believing I was none the worse for wear. Although, I am certain my bruised ego would have told them I was fine even if there had been a bone sticking out somewhere.
An inspection of the bike revealed some damage to the handlebar tape and a couple of superficial scratches elsewhere but no major damage. Hell, that was a minimum right of passage for the mountain bike. If it wasn’t banged up you weren’t doing it right.
Inspection complete, I jumped back on the bike with every intention of finishing the nine or so klicks remaining on my ride but the moment I tried to grab the handlebar with my left hand that notion quickly dissipated, replaced with searing pain shooting up my arm. I couldn’t have gripped the bar if my life had depended on it. Instead, it was a slow shameful ride home with my left arm tucked against my midsection while my weakened legs powered a bike that was being guided by a lone and shaky right arm.
I don’t know if any bones were broken. The ER doctor showed me the x-rays but they did not show a break. Apparently, fractures to the scaphoid bone don’t reveal themselves on x-rays until 48 hours after injury. Based on his experience the doc believed the bone was broken and because the small bones of the carpals, and in particular the scaphoid, don’t receive a lot of blood flow should be treated as such. A lack of blood flow restricts healing and if not immobilized and allowed to heal the bone could die. That was enough for me to accept my fate and follow his instructions.
For six weeks I wore a removable cast without knowing if it was broken. X-rays were never taken again later, I just ran with the emergency room diagnosis. When the cast came off I began three months of physiotherapy to get close to a full range of motion. It would be another nine months before I can say the hand and wrist were back to normal.
Even now if the moon and stars and sun align just right, hidden behind a bank of dark grey clouds that are dumping a cold damp rain down on Mother Earth I can still feel it click and groan. Sometimes, I think that if I’d just plowed through them they’d have moved or at the very least it would have been a softer landing!
Oh, and did I mention all the years of reckless mountain biking where I never once broke a bone?
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s is a doozy… “In your interpersonal relationships with acquaintances, friends, and family, are you able to separate political ideologies from the people who hold them? Why or why not?“ Cue my rambling answer below…
I’ve always been able to separate issues from those on the other side. That is probably why I am so good when it comes to disciplinary matters at work. None of it is ever personal. Just deal with the facts and move on. If the other party has hard feelings, there is nothing I can do about that. I just go about my business and do my best to treat them the same afterwards regardless of what may have transpired. There are plenty of people who get themselves emotionally invested and it eats them up inside. They generally burn themselves out or get run out of town at the end of a pitchfork. Either way, they do not fare well long term.
I admit I approach debating, political or otherwise, through a similar lens. Everyone has an opinion and I encourage them to bring it to the table. The best policy is to treat people with respect even when their ideological compass is pointing in a different direction than our own. Sometimes those views, extreme or absurd as they may seem, can shift perspective for everyone involved and lead others to think outside the box and find common ground leading to more moderate solutions. Even if it amounts to nothing at least I know who the imbeciles are.
There is one group that I do tend to distance myself from and they rarely make it to my inner circle. The exception is family – unfortunately, you are stuck with ’em! If they start I normally throw a couple of jabs in and walk away. So back to that group, I’m referring to those who refused to acknowledge facts when forming opinions. The brazen efforts they will go to refute proven science or obscure the facts to mould opinions that support their ideological fantasies suggest they aren’t likely to see reason. At some point, it doesn’t make sense to continue banging your head against the wall. I was saving the following graphic for a future T-Shirt Wisdom Tuesday but it seems appropriate right here and now.
For example, rabid anti-vaxxers and political anarchists who insist on comparing democratically elected political leaders to Hitler or Stalin. I’m the first to admit that I am not a fan of the current prime minister here in Canada but not every decision of his government has some hidden agenda or has been bad for the country. The government is not trying to overthrow democracy and appoint him the Supreme Ruler of the Northern Realms. Truly, I can only think of one instance where that may have been the case on this continent. Does January 6th ring a bell? The funny thing is the idiots who believe the previous scenario are the same clowns driving around with Trump stickers pasted on their back windows and bumpers.
Okay, so maybe I’m less tolerant of idiocy than I thought. lol
The following is in response to Fandango’s Provocative Question #166. The prompt is: Do you feel that President Biden’s plea to take action and to do something to stem the rising tide of gun violence in America have any impact? Or will lawmakers at both the federal and state levels do nothing more than offer their useless “thoughts and prayers,” which is all they ever do?
Content Warning: Offensive Language
Same Shit, Different Day
Ten days, 21 more lives, 19 of them ten-year-old children. The same old news with different names, different faces, and subtly different storylines. The one thing they all have in common is the same all too familiar outcome.
Unfortunately Fandango, I don’t believe Biden’s call for action will have any effect on Federal and State politicians, the NRA, individual gun owners, and most everyday Americans. These types of pleas have fallen on stone deaf ears in the past and there are no signs that America’s views on guns are any different now than in the past.
I have already heard from family and friends in the United States and in particular, Texas that don’t believe gun control is the solution. Instead, they believe training and arming teachers to carry in school is the answer. It appears the best option is to shoot our way out of these messes.
Hell, I suggest we not stop there, empty the entire gas can on the dumpster fire. Let the elementary kids carry too, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they should take several hours out of science, math, and literature (but not religion) classes and learn how to shoot stuff (or each other.) If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it absolutely is ridiculous. If you are reading this and it doesn’t sound absurd to you then let me spell it out…
The following is in response to Fandango’s Provocative Question #165. The prompt is: How do you feel about what is going on in the United States in regard to racism? Do you see any way of reconciling the concepts of White Replacement Theory and Critical Race Theory?
The Human Race
I identify as human, yes I have skin that categorizes me as Caucasian, my recent ancestors are of European descent and can be traced back to England, Ireland and France. That is how others identify me but I am human, we are all human.
As an outsider, I see the American race dilemma as an observer. I have a sister who moved and married in Texas and although I would not call her racist she and her family certainly represent conservative white America. From what I see that Trump supporting rabid white right is a scary place right now. Not from external threats but from within. Seemingly bright, educated people who have lost all perspective on reality.
Canada is not without our own racial discourse. Our treatment of Japanese Canadians during World War II and two centuries of oppression against aboriginal populations have been appalling.
Assuming you agree that we should have the same time year-round rather than moving up an hour each spring and back an hour each fall, do you favor going to permanent Daylight Saving Time or permanent Standard Time? Why do you feel that way?
Find my response below…
I must admit I have a love-hate relationship with the semi-annual time change. Love the extra hour of sleep in the fall and hate losing it in the spring. Personally, I prefer the time change but if I had to choose I’d give up the extra evening light and remain on Standard Time year-round.