Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Wish...

  • ...that I was motivated by money.
  • ...that I didn't possess a shred of creativity.
  • ...that I liked making co-workers look bad so that I could look good.
  • ...that I was devoid of imagination. 
  • ...that I was terrified of what people thought of me.
  • ...that I wanted an iPhone.
  • ...that I could work for an unethical company without losing sleep. 
  • ...that I could be content watching network television all the time.
  • ...that I'd never travelled anywhere.
  • ...that I only ever watched mainstream news.
  • ...that I didn't like to read.
  • ...that I liked processed food.
  • ...that I enjoyed f#@king people over for a percentage.
  • ...that I had absolute, unwavering faith in my own beliefs, regardless of conflicting evidence. 
  • ...that I could spawn a litter of kids without thinking about it.
  • ...that I liked Nicki Minaj, Rascal Flatts and Bruno Mars.
  • ...that I was 100% right about everything all the time and everyone else was wrong.
  • ...that I defined success by how much stuff I owned.  
  • ...that I didn't follow politics.
  • ...that I was a fan of movies that all have the same ending.
  • ...that I liked to text.
  • ...that I had fashion sense and liked spending money on clothes.
  • ...that I cared about Kardashians, Bachelors, Divas, Dancing, Home Renovation and Orange-Colored Idiots.    
  • ...that I was convinced that things can never change or get any better.  
  • ...that I was obsessed with sports to the detriment of everything else.
  • ...that I could be happy while being house poor.  
  • ...that I could drive an SUV in good conscience. 
  • ...that I thought there was no-one else on the planet except myself.
  • ...that I didn't think about where shit goes after I throw it out.  
  • ...that I had an interest in personal finance.  
  • ...that I could blissfully fritter away large chunks of my life making money for people who don't know that I exist. 
  • ...that I felt obligated to force my faith and morality on other people.
  • ...that I could feel a sense of righteous indignation whenever someone less fortunate then me gets some much-needed help.   
I wish for all of these things because I think it would make life a lot simpler.  

EPIC:  Be warned, if you click on this you run the risk of complicating yourself.  


EPIC DAD  Mike's back and he's droppin' science, yo.

FAIL:  Terrific, we now live in a era in which politicians equate mind-expansion with snobbery.  I wonder why?   

Friday, April 20, 2012

ECD Radio is On The Air!

Hey, Fellow Babies!

As a kid I didn't actively listen to the radio very often but whenever it was on in the background, it always seemed to proffer some sort of auditory revelation.  For example, I distinctly remember half-hearing the Peter Gabriel tune "Games Without Frontiers" on the radio back in 1980 and promptly becoming obsessed with it.

Ironically, it was television that really piqued my childhood interest in radio.  Even as a ten year old kid I had an inexplicable fascination for the following show:


Cripes, even people who were adults in the 70's probably don't remember that particular nugget of pop culture flotsam.

Hello, Larry was a sitcom that aired for two inexplicable seasons on NBC, back when the station's call letters stood for "No Body's Choice".  It centered around the life of Larry Alder (penitent M.A.S.H. deserter McLean Stevenson), a divorced radio talk show host who leaves L.A. for the greener pastures of Portland, Oregon (?).

Right from the start, Hello, Larry embodied every lame sitcom cliche: bland characters, contrived plots and broad attempts at "humor".  Whenever I'd ask my parents if I could watch it they'd scoff and respond with "Why?  That stupid show is too foolish to talk about!"  Late night czar Johnny Carson took frequent and merciless pot-shots at the beleaguered sitcom during his Tonight Show monologues.  Despite the critical drubbing and virtually non-existent ratings, NBC actually renewed it for a second season (which really says a lot about the sad state of the network at the time).

In a vain effort to staunch the hemorrhaging exodus of viewers, the producers shifted their focus away from Larry's time at the radio station to his mundane home life.  As a discriminating critic, I positively despised these changes and immediately stopped watching.  In losing their one and only dedicated supporter, Hello, Larry also lost its raison d'être and it was cancelled not long after.  

But, man, I loved that first season, which mainly featured Larry attempting to deal with his insane co-workers at the radio station, all the while heaping abuse upon the weirdos calling into his talk show.  So enamored was I of this concept that I promptly co-opted my Dad's tape recorder and invented my own radio station, appropriately named C.R.A.P.

I took the high-concept core of Hello, Larry and cross-pollinated it with sketch comedy shows like S.C.T.Vand Newfoundland's very own Wonderful Grand Band.  To ensure that my own good name would never be linked to such lunacy, I invented an on-air persona named Larry Lovebug.  Okay, so I wasn't the most creative kid in the world.

Originally a parody of the classically smarmy "RADIO VOICE", my Larry eventually morphed into an über-hostile version of the McLean Stevenson character.  He became a narcissistic, abusive jack-hole who held the other shows in open contempt and constantly bitched about the overall sorry state of the station.

There were several regularly scheduled programs on C.R.A.P., including a parody of Phil Donahue's talk show called The Phil Interview Show.  There was a darkly humorous (?) recurring skit about an old woman who experiences incessant bouts of cardiac arrest and the eternally on-call medical team tasked to aid her.  I staged elaborate radio plays featuring my Star WarsBuck Rogers and superhero action figures.  I had an ongoing horror series about explorers raiding the tomb of a restless undead mummy which spawned no less then four sequels!

Only my closest friends or my poor long-suffering parental units would ever be witness to this lunacy.  If we went on a road trip, I'd take my tape recorder along, much to the delight of my Mom and Dad.  Occasionally I have re-enforcements in the form of my equally loopy cousins Debbie and Donna.   Together we'd invent all sorts of zany characters and ridiculous shows, half of which seemed to be populated or hosted by stuffed animals.

Stephenville's own home-brew radio station / comedy gold mine C.F.S.X. was a frequent target for my sophmoronic wit.  I mercilessly spoofed the station's community events calendar via What's Goin' On? (hosted by the eternally enraged Suzie Seasick), poked fun at the Day & Ross Road Report (read by the barely-conscious Merry Dowdie), and parodied their daily radio market place show Teleshop (which I wittily re-christened as Teleslop, har de har-har).

As great as all of this high-brow humor was, the concept really took off when I first laid eyes on this classic show back in 1981:

Being only eleven or so at the time, I didn't quite get all of the subtle humor and innuendo on W.K.R.P., but I certainly fell in love with the characters and the music Johnny and Venus played.  This new data had a direct impact on my own enterprise.  Larry's last name became the infinitely more respectable "Drake", the format was switched from talk to modern pop and the station's call-letters changed from C.R.A.P. to C.F.A.P.  Which, in modern parlance, really isn't an improvement.

In order to facilitate the playing of music, I acquired a second tape player.  Whenever I wanted to introduce a song (usually from a K-Tel tape like "Right On", "Hit Express", or my own personal favorite "Star Tracks") I'd cue it up on the second player and then un-pause it when I was ready to roll.  This allowed me to blabber inane bullshit right up to the point when the lyrics began, just like a real D.J.!

Honestly, when you're twelve year old kid and figure this shit out, you feel like a friggin' savant!

I hit a metal phase in 1982, prompting a change in the music format.  Larry became a minor character and full-time foil for a new, hip D.J. named "David" (okay, imagination really wasn't my strong suit).  Although I'd sneak in the odd "retro" comedy bit or original radio play amongst all of the Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, all I really wanted to do was play pretend D.J. for music that I would never hear on the radio.  By the time I turned thirteen, I'd outgrown my fictional radio station and C.F.A.P. promptly went out of business.

It's a pity that some teacher or authority figure didn't discover my crazy secret broadcasting career.  If only I'd had the chance to funnel some of this unrefined yet manic energy into something productive like a High School drama class.  Oh, wait, our lame-ass High School didn't have a friggin' drama class...scratch that.

Nearly a decade later, the following movie rekindled my interest in radio:

Since we only got a half-way decent radio station here in Halifax just last year (in the blessed form of Live 105), the idea of starting up a pirate radio station has always been kind of attractive to me.  Although I have no desire to wax philosophical on the air like Mark Hunter in Pump up The Volume or Chris Stevens on Northern Exposure,  I would certainly liked to have heard The Pixies, Sonic Youth and Soundgarden on the local radio over the past twenty years.  

So, for the first time in almost three decades (*Yikes!*), I'm hosting a radio show courtesy of modern techmology and the Internetz.  Ive long since traded in my dual tape players for a single digital audio recorder.  My old, now-distorted analog magnetic tapes have been replaced by a massive CD collection rendered through my iPod.  And thanks to the magic of Audacity and Internet Archive, I can finally have listeners beyond the poor bastards within earshot of me.

Pleeze lissun if you wantz:

EPIC  Thank God, Vishnu, Crom, Zeus, Odin and Lemmy for internet radio.

FAIL  This show was a friggin' abomination.  And I liked Hello, Larry, fer Chrissakes!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Resurrection" Redux

Hello, Persistent Purveyor of Proselytizing Prose.  

Just over two years ago I started writing my first blog.  It's been a tremendous boon since it put me on a self-enforced writing schedule.  At first I had such a backlog of pre-written stuff that I could easily do five posts a week but eventually I had to drop it down to three a week and then just weekly in order to finish editing my first book.  

In the interim I started to work more and more in the realm of video.  I also launched two spin-off blogs: one entertainment/review related and the other tabletop game related.  Right now, juggling all of these things pretty much occupies every moment of my waking life.  

For the two year anniversary of my Emblogifcation Capture Device I wanted to go back to that premier  entry for two reasons: 
  1. To Pull A Lucas and spruce it up a bit.  Now I'm not gonna render the post in 3-D or add in a ton of pointless links, photos, video and racist references.  I just wanted to show people that, yes, I know how to embed a f#@king link now.  
  2. To Pull A Coppola and do a running commentary about that first entry.  Y'know, just to give folks some insight into my headspace, my creative decisions, how I've progressed as a writer and where I stand on the blog's future.
Which is on its neck, as it turns out...  

In doing so, I'm predicting an absolutely riveting experience not just for myself, but for readers as well.  Oh and a word about the formatting: the original post text is in bold with my commentary in italicized quotes.

Alright...ready?  Here goes!   

Greetings, Gentle Reader.

"It's beaten into my head that you should always have some sort of greeting when addressing readers.  Steven King did it religiously in non-fiction books like Danse Macabre or On Writing.  I kinda dig it; it acknowledges that someone's actually taking the time to read what you wrote and it re-enforces the relationship going forward.  Reading other blogs I'm surprised by just how many of them don't have a greeting of any sort.  It's like 'Okay, no foreplay, huh?  Just up with the skirt and we're at it?'  Yeeesh."      

Welcome to my Emblogification Capture Device!

"I originally wanted to call my blog 'You Can't Get There From Here' since I always wanted to be a professional writer but the call centers I worked in to pay the bills seemed totally removed from this dream.  Every morning on the way to work I'd make all of these grand plans to write when I got home, but it never seemed to work out.  After spending an eight-and-a-half hour day sitting in front of a computer screen and doing something that I totally despised, the only thing I wanted to do when I got home was to get vaguely drunk and play video games.

"Unfortunately some jack-hole had already taken so I had to think up a second choice.  I was watching Weezer's Video Capture Device and a whole lungful of Whedonized T.V. at the time (Buffy, Angel, all) so it's quite likely that these two geeky influences synthesized into my consolation prize title.  

"As it turns out this was a blessing in disguise since 'Emblogification Capture Device' is a lot more unique and it's the first thing that pops up in a Google search."

Before I go any further I'd like to give a shout-out to Michael Chiasson, who's considerably less frivolous blog "Daddy's Home" ( gave me endless inspiration. Not necessarily to reproduce, but just, y'know the idea to...*ahem* blog about something. Trust me, I just spent Easter weekend with my wife's sister's kids and I'm seriously considering a procedure. Just kidding, gals, I love ya!

"I really do have Mike to thank (or blame) for this two-year obsession.  At the time the blog was a way for me to justify walking away from a lucrative job that, ultimately, was damaging my health and stifling my dreams.    

"Now I look back and marvel at how naive I was.  I actually thought if  I put my writing out there that some mysterious, unquantifiable and omnipotent force would stumble upon my work, validate my abilities and give me a paying gig to keep doing what I so obviously loved to do.  Alas, this hasn't happened yet but I continue to remain somewhat optimistic.  

"Despite the fact that blogging doesn't really generate any revenue for me still I can't kick the habit.  I still feel a little rush of endorphins whenever I publish something new, a sensation that I never once experienced in my old call center jobs.  On the flip-side, if I'm late with a new post, I feel as if I'm failing myself or that one reader out there who actually gives a shit.  

"A couple of side notes: (1) Mike stopped blogging back in February which gives me a sad, especially considering that he received a 100% bonus in the daddy department recently.  Hopefully he'll be able to eke out enough time to come back to it some day.  (2)  Yes, I know how to embed a friggin' link now!  Piss off!!!  (3)  I just spent yet another Easter Weekend with my wife's sister's kids and that 'procedure' is still on the table.  But I'm beginning to waver slightly as they slowly transform into interesting creatures who can hold their own in a conversation and not succumb to the constant impulse to torture and/or assault each other.  

On April 1'st 2010 I decided to honor April Fools Day by leaving a job I've been doing for the past ten years. In a time of fragile economic recovery you may think me mad, and trust me, you'd have ample evidence (just don't believe what that clown at "The Source" in Halifax Shopping center says about me, if I'd just had a smidge more plutonium last time my idea would have gone off without a hitch, I guarantee). Regardless of how crazy it seems I still cling to one thing my parents always taught me which was that "The only jobs worth doing are the ones you can have a personal impact on." Well, actually, I don't think they ever told me that verbatim, but, hey, I still think it sounds cool.

"Unlike my days at Sears I've yet to talk about my last job at any length, making me believe that this blog's best days are still ahead.  One of these days, after sufficient time and perspective has gone by, I'll feel comfortable talking about it.  After all, it took me ten years to broach the subject of Sears, fer Chrissakes.  

"But I do believe, at this point in time, that a slight reveal is in order.  So here goes:

"Six years ago I was very content in my job.  I was well-paid, I had benefits, I didn't work weekends and I was free to do things based on experience and reasonably-good level of intelligence.  In fact, at the time we were described as 'managers of our own virtual retail stores'.

"But as my department expanded, management's trust in us evaporated.  Our calls became intensely monitored, completely regimented and scored like a Spanish Inquisition tic sheet.  The results negatively impacted our commission and frequently became the fodder for what was often and ominously referred to as 'Progressive Discipline'.  

"Worst still, we were given some tremendously stressful production goals.  We had to contact a certain amount of people in a day otherwise our efforts were considered to be a complete and total failure.  If we didn't meet the unreasonable average our compensation was docked and once again the 'Progressive Discipline' bogeyman would get trotted out.  

"We were also given increasingly aggressive sales goals which were virtually impossible to meet.  And, hey, guess what?  This also kicked us in the paycheck and fueled the threat of 'Progressive Discipline'.  

"As an industrious, hard-working drone, I managed to keep my head above water but the stress eventually took a toll on me.  In the Fall of 2009 I was diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder a stress-related condition that results in chronic pain, dizziness and hearing loss because of nocturnal teeth grinding.  When I casually mentioned this to a fellow co-worker three other people stood up in the aisle and told me that they also wore bite plates to bed every night.  Notwithstanding the devastating impact this has on your sex life, such appliances are also a clear indicator that you work in a completely toxic environment.    

"The draconian changes foisted on our department caused turnover to skyrocket from 6% to over 30%.  I spoke to supervisors, site managers and division overlords in an effort to bring about positive change in the work environment.  Every single one of them seemed to sympathize with me and promised to make improvements at the start of the next fiscal year.  

"But instead of it getting better it got worse.  Under the new structure our commission rates dropped sharply.  I watched my paycheck get neutered for three months before I had enough and announced my resignation.   

"Exactly one year later I was talking to someone who still works in that division and she thanked me profusely.  She went on to explain that 'After you and a bunch of other high-profile people did their protest quit in 2010 upper management made everything better.  They cut back on the punitive monitoring, the crazy sales goals and the insane production numbers.  It's back to the way it used to be!'

"Now, don't get me wrong, I'm delighted that my actions may have resulted in positive change there.  But I'm also pissed beyond belief  that it took a slew of people upsetting their lives before this unconscionable company finally decided to do something about it.  Real classy, guys.  

"P.S. In retrospect, the whole 'plutonium' / 'The Source' joke is kinda weak sauce."  

Regardless of how I cooked up that little chestnut I believe in it firmly. This was my first day not being a cog in a corporate engine. All I did today was reorganize my storage closet, write a movie review for my "Facebook" profile (, make mexican soup, vacuum, sweep my patio and watch an episode of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" (see EPIC/FAIL below) yet I feel I've done more sensible and productive things today than I did at work for the past three months. Sad but true.

"I really meant it when I said that I did more productive things in one day at home then I did in three months at work.  Which is why I believe that so many of us live lives of quiet desperation.  Quick quiz: if you've ever arrived at work and were soundly disappointed that the HOUSE OF PAIN hasn't been spirited away by aliens overnight, you really need to consider a career change.  Especially if you don't care that your fellow co-workers are currently having the crap probed out of them.

"Since I don't trust Facebook much anymore, my movie reviews now appear right here.   I did that just to prove that I can now embed a link, BTW.  

"Also, in an interesting twist, Jamie Oliver was two years ahead of the mainstream media when it came to revealing the horrors of pink slime.  How sad is that?"    

One thing I learned working in call centers for the past fifteen years ("Fifteen years?!! Sweet Jesus, he's gotta be ready for the booby-hatch by now!") is that people really love reality shows like "Dancing with the Stars", "The Bachelor", or "Who Wants To Be Groped By a Bill Lynch Fair Employee?". Personally, I hate the &$!@@!* things (since I maintain that you are your own reality show), but I understand why folks watch 'em. Since most of them are the equivalent of watching a slow-motion bus-wreck, many people believe they cater to the lowest common denominator of humanity: the fan of Schadenfreude or those that take pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

"For all of you schadenfreuders at home keeping score: I'm removing the 'Updated Weekly!' blurb from the masthead.  Why?  Because regardless of how happy it makes me, I'm not making enough money as a writer and my savings are bleeding out like a noob in Call of Duty.   Going forward I have to make finding a 'real' job a full-time priority.  Hopefully one that I'm good at, have a vested interest in, has a social conscience and won't make me physically sick.    

"Oh, that 'Who Wants To Be Groped By a Bill Lynch Fair Employee?' gag is still money, BTW.  Heh, heh."

I like to retain a bit more hope in the human race, however, and maintain that as much as people like to watch others fail they also get a rush out of witnessing when someone succeeds at dream fulfillment. And although I've finally figured out what it means to be "long in the tooth" now (seriously, why do your front teeth start to look like cuttle bones after a certain age?) , I still have this dream to make a living in some sort of creative venture.

"This statement, co-incidentally, won the 'Most Naively Sanguine Paragraph In A Blog Post Award' for 2010.  The writer has since received a diploma of idiocy, a handful of mud and a kick in the head. 

"P.S. the cuttlebone gag is a bit of a wash."

So, Gentle Reader, take my hand and come with me as we wind on down a road of high adventure. I'd appreciate any good karma you can afford but you'd be forgiven if mean ole' schadenfreude takes hold sometimes and you feel like laughing and pointing when I mess up royally.

To all you schadenfreuders out there: you may now start laughing you collective asses off.  Shouts of 'I told you so!' will also be deemed appropriate.  

Stay tuned, folks, next I'm hoping to get into some juicy back story which hopefully will get you all up to speed. I'm sure you'll find it amusing. Or utterly sad, I'm not sure which.

Looking back I have to say that the ratio was about 30% from column 'A' and 70% from column 'B'.  

Until next time (whenever that might be) check out today's brand spankin' new EPIC/FAIL links (now with fancy new imbedded video!)

EPIC   Honestly, my boy was way ahead of the game...

EPIC IDIOCY  I should have signed up for this course instead of IT.  I'd love to provide a vital psycho-social service for my community!  :o(

FAILSPECTATIONS  A damned fine question, Globe n' Mail..

Friday, April 6, 2012

The First of Many Martyrs

Greetings, Fellow Inmates of Planet Arkham.

Every time I sit down to write about something light-hearted and goofy, I hear a news report that makes my intentions seem vapid and irresponsible in comparison.  Kinda like watching the Pauly D Project while The Cove is on another channel.

On the morning of Wednesday April 4'th a seventy-seven year old retired Greek pharmacist named Dimitris Christoulas got up, locked his apartment door, calmly walked down to the Syntagma square in front of the Parliament building in Athens, shouted "I'm leaving because I don't want to pass on my debts!", took a gun out of his pocket and shot himself in the head.  

Why would "a gentleman" described as "decent" and "dignified" take such extreme and desperate measures?

The answer came in the form of a hand-written suicide note:

"The Tsolakoglou government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state.  And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting (although if a fellow Greek were to grab a Kalashnikov, I would be right behind him), I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.  I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945"

Translation: "Insanity is a sane response to an insane world."

Back in July of last year, I talked about how governments all over the world let profit-drunk banks and financial institutions off of their collective leashes by doing away with regulations.

"Government intervention has curtailed free enterprise for too long!" they cried.  "When we do away with all of these draconian laws the global economy will experience a Utopian level of economic confidence and prosperity like we've never seen before!"

Yeah, too bad this didn't account for the following two truisms:
  1. The owners of these organizations are human beings.  
  2. Sometimes human beings can be greedy, evil mother-f#@%ers who, like vampires, regard the average human being as a mobile blood bank.
If you and I both know that the two points listed above are self-evident then I can only assume that the government did as well.  In order words, as more and more protective regulations were stripped away, there must have been some elements within the government that could see the writing on the wall.

Ron Paul sure as hell knew it back in 2003...

And here's economist Peter Schiff in 2006:

So, exactly how much of a schmuck does Art Laffer feel like now?

I think its safe to assume that at least some elements within the government knew exactly what they were doing when they put the foxes in charge of the chicken coop.

This is why a responsible government, fearful of the masses, has to serve as the higher authority here.  Someone has to act as the conscience for big banks, big corporations and bog finance because, clearly, if we set them loose in a climate of laissez-faire they can't be trusted to behave ethically or responsibly.  

Yet we still have these blowhard Conservative/Republican douchebag assholes prattling on about how government has no right interfering in the business sector and how regulations are borderline "socialist".  At this stage in the game, the only people I can possibly see arguing this point are either (A) the monumentally stupid or (B) creeps who are still looking to profit directly or indirectly from deregulation.

Honestly, arguing for fewer regulations after the 2008 economic crisis would be like buying your kid a puppy after they've let a half dozen goldfish starve to death.

I don't know a whole lot about finance but if someone had explained to me what was going on in the housing market just prior to 2008 even I could have predicted that it was all going to end in much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Which leads to me to believe that there were elements in the global governance who knew that the world-wide economy was being systemically dismantled.

This also goes to great lengths to explain why no-one's ever been prosecuted for the sort of gross negligence that resulted in things going completely shit-house.  Hell, some of them even got promotions.  I don't know about your workplace, but in my experience, this sort of gross incompetence usually ensures that the guilty party never works in this hemisphere again.

Now, I can hear a few of you out there asking: "C'mon, Dave.  Why would anyone willingly let this happen?"

Because I firmly believe that there's a cabal of powerful, influential and cruel people on this planet who really want to lord over a population of desperate, indebted, dispirited serfs.

And I think that Dimitris Christoulas believed that as well.   

EPIC  "Greek suicide seen as an act of fortitude as much as one of despair..."

FAIL  We need to see this 24-7.