Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

On Blues-Rock

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I don’t usually have the regular use of a car, but for various reasons I do at the moment, and so I’m listening to the radio more than I normally do. Here in Ottawa I haven’t found a radio station I really like, but the one I turn to is 101.9 DAWG FM, which plays blues-rock. Or what they think of as blues-rock, anyway.

[It’s going to sound, in this blogpost, as though I’m tearing several strips off of DAWG FM. That’s not my intention. Basically I enjoy listening to their station. I just have to shake my head at certain aspects of their operation, that’s all.]

Some of the stuff they play is legitimately bluesy. But some of it is just rock that they can make the argument that it’s kind of bluesy, though, even though it really isn’t. (Some obviously older and well-known; not sure how much new. “When Love Comes to Town” by U2 and BB King is one of their big favourites, if that suggests anything to you.) The announcers… they tend to get these extremely white-sounding people to do their DJing. Very soft, nonthreatening male voices, a little too close to the microphone, talking about how they went to IKEA on the weekend. This kind of thing. The station advertises their morning show, the Dawg’s Breakfast, with some kind of patter about how crazy it gets and maybe you better not listen to it because it’ll be too much for you. No it won’t; it’s the most sedate morning show I’ve ever heard.

And it’s fine. If they’ve determined that this is the kind of thing the people of Ottawa want to hear, I have no issue with it. I’m not trying to prove how Authentic I am or anything. Now, if <em>I</em> was running a blues-rock station, <em>I</em> might want to put someone on the air who’s <em>cool</em> in some way, in <em>any</em> way, but that’s just me.

One problem with the station is that they don’t seem to have the deepest catalog in the world. I only hear it for about fifteen minutes at a time, a few times a day, but even in that limited exposure I occasionally hear a song that I’ve already heard them play not long ago. That shouldn’t happen. Not without listening to it a lot more than I do.

Or then there’s what happened today, which had me shouting, “Come on!” at the car radio. See, one of the things they do every so often is they play the little sounder that says, “Another DAWG FM Soul Shot!” and then they play an old soul song. Which I’m all for, because I love old soul music. So last week, late afternoon, I’m driving along, and they announce another DAWG FM Soul Shot. Which turns out to be “Roll with It” by Steve Winwood. And I had to laugh, because I know soul music well enough to know that that ain’t it. I like Steve Winwood; I like “Roll with It”. If they want to play it, I’m happy to listen. But don’t try to tell me that this is freaking soul music.

That was last week. Today, again late afternoon, I’m driving home, and another Soul Shot comes along. This time it turns out to be…

… “Roll with It” by Steve Winwood.

What is this, they only know four soul songs? Of which one of them isn’t even? Silliness.

On the Designated Hitter

June 9, 2012 Leave a comment

As you may or may not know, I’m a baseball fan; specifically, a Toronto Blue Jays fan. In baseball fandom, one of the debates that won’t go away is the argument about should there or should there not be a DH in baseball.*

Here’s what I think about it. The DH doesn’t bother me a bit. I like baseball with the DH and baseball without the DH. It’s fine either way. I don’t mind watching pitchers go up to hit in the National League, and I don’t believe that American League baseball has “less strategy” than National League baseball.

If I ever attain the position of Grand Emperor of Baseball, I will have lots of things that I think need changing much more urgently than the DH rule does. I’d probably leave it the way it is.


If I, as GEoB, ever did get through my to-do list to the point where I could spend a moment on the DH rule, I would eliminate the DH. Not because it’s bad. Just because it’s asymmetrical. Infielders, outfielders, and catchers play defense and also go up to bat. Pitchers are also ballplayers and therefore should also play defense and go up to bat. It’s as simple as that.

I know there are objections to this, but they don’t bother me.

– “But pitchers can’t hit!” I know they can’t hit. So what? Same for both teams.
– “What about how the DH lets older hitters extend their careers?” The older hitters can fend for themselves.
– “What about the increased risk of pitchers getting hurt?” Injury is always a risk in baseball, and the risk in going up to bat is a lot less than the risk of being a pitcher in the first place.
– “But pitchers have importance on defense far beyond that of any position player; they shouldn’t have to hit in addition to that!” Why not? It’s not like they have to do both at the same time.
– “What about how attendance would go down with the decrease in offense?” I’d be surprised if there was any such effect, and even if there was, I could live with it.
– “The players’ union would never go for it, because it’s basically eliminating a regular position in the starting lineup from every team in the American League.” What part of “Grand Emperor” don’t you understand?

I repeat: I don’t hate the DH rule at all and I am not campaigning for its removal. This isn’t a big deal to me and I’m perfectly content with the rules the way they stand. I just think that getting rid of the rule would make baseball more orderly, a little, and if it was easy and all other things were equal, I’d do it. If not, not.

* If you don’t know what the DH is, it’s a guy who goes up to bat on behalf of the pitcher of his team, because pitchers are notorious for being bad hitters. The American League allows teams to use a DH because they figured in the 1970s that more fans would come out if there was more offense in the game. The National League does not allow the DH.

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On Conservatism

May 27, 2012 Leave a comment

These days I seem to identify with the political left almost all the time. This is unusual for me. I don’t consider myself either a liberal or a conservative; what I am is a lapsed Ayn Rand guy who takes his positions without regard to labels. If you were to call me an independent I wouldn’t argue too hard with you.

As such you’d think it’d be pretty easy for the right to get me on side, but in fact the opposite has been the case; they’ve pushed me away. Conservatism as currently constituted strikes me as mean and stupid, and I can’t sign on with mean and stupid.

And it leads me to wonder. What is conservatism, exactly? I can think of two things it might be, but it’s impossible for anyone to authoritatively say which one is true because anyone who does is only revealing something about himself or herself.

A) Conservatism might be a political position that says that the status quo, whatever its problems, is worthy enough that it should only be changed slightly and carefully, because it’s a lot easier to make something worse by changing it than to make it better.

B) Conservatism might be a political position that says that society exists to concentrate all wealth and power in the hands of as few really rich people as possible, that any means necessary to accomplish this goal are acceptable, including all manner of outlandish lies and fantasies, and the more cruelties and indignities that can be piled on everyone else, the better.

Obviously if A is the truth, then it’s a perfectly normal kind of thing to think, and there will be plenty of cases when one might want to adopt a conservative viewpoint. Not all the time, of course. But sometimes.

And obviously if B is the truth, then we need to fight conservatism all the time in as many ways as we can, because it’s basically pure evil. And I don’t think B is the truth. I hope it isn’t. But look around.

On Osama bin Laden

It’s not that I’m going to miss Osama bin Laden or think that the world isn’t better off without him. But he was never the real problem.

The real problem is the people who taught him to think like that, and continue to teach people to think like that. And their counterparts in other cultures. Anybody have any ideas for what to do about them?

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On Arrogance

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Most of what I read about writing tells me that you have to pay your dues. You have to keep at it for a long time before you can expect to have any success. Even if you’re lucky enough to get something published early on, that doesn’t mean that anything you do will actually be worth reading for ten years or so.

I’ve had a couple of things published, but I certainly can’t say that I’ve put in a long apprenticeship. I’ve written all kinds of things, but it’s mostly been unsupervised online writing that didn’t put any pressure on me to get better or more polished. So where do I get off thinking I can write?

And yet I’m writing Ded & Sac, and I’m gonna publish it independently, and expect people to buy it. That’s pretty arrogant of me. Right?

Well, maybe it is. I’ve been called arrogant before. I’m arrogant enough to know that I’ve got a good idea*. I’m arrogant enough to know that I can, at least, write engagingly over short distances. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I don’t need editing. I’m not arrogant enough to think I can afford to slack off on any aspect of this story. I’m going to do this because I want to do it and I don’t want to be dependent on the judgments or procedures of the publishing industry. And if Ded & Sac isn’t good, it’s going to be in spite of everything I can think of to make it good.

So, okay, I’m arrogant. But at least I know it. And I’ve been reliably informed that knowing is half the battle.

*I know I haven’t said what the idea is yet. I’m saving that for when I’m closer to being finished.

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Characters: the Hellboy family

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been reading a lot of Hellboy comics recently; the library has the first ten trades and I’ve been working my way through them. I like the character of Hellboy himself, and it struck me that there are a few guys kinda like him in comics: big, strong and tough; stoic and lonely; inhuman enough to be physically unattractive; stable and down-to-earth in personality; street-slangy in speech. Here’s the list as I thought of it:

Robotman (Cliff Steele)
The Thing

Any others?

I don’t mean to accuse anybody of unoriginality in making this list. I just think it’s a powerful kind of character and no wonder it’s been made to work so often.

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First Post. Welcome.

February 21, 2011 3 comments

Welcome to my new website.

I’m going to use it for anything I think might be of interest, but mostly to keep everyone up to date about what I’m writing. My intention is that there will be at least a little bit of new content every day.

I’ve had other websites in the past, and nothing’s changing with them.

If I set this thing up right, anything I post on here should go up simultaneously on Facebook and Twitter; if that doesn’t work now, or doesn’t work properly now, I’ll get it working as soon as I can. Please feel free to follow along via either of those methods, or by the RSS feed; whatever you like. Discussions in the comments are welcome.

Categories: Articles