Drive-by arguments
There goes my antihero; on Warren Zevon and how pretentiousness passes into truth

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I found Warren Zevon at the same time I was losing myself and that happened to be when Napster was flourishing.

There it is. There was absolutely nothing honest-to-goodness organic about how I came to identify with the artist’s artist. It started out with something so cliché. In the mid-’90s, when Paul Shaffer was on vacation from The Late Show, David Letterman used to have Warren fill in as the bandleader. It was fascinating — at least to an 18-year-old raised by TV. Here was Dave sandbagging a talk show convention by giving a role that calls for gentle banter over to someone predisposed to pithy muttering. Why? Respect for Warren’s genius. Dave was a fan of Warren and I wanted to be Dave — I even named our family dog after him.

Web 1.0 search engines helped point up that other cult figures whose wavelength seemed fun to be on — Hunter S. Thompson, the former Expos left-hander Bill (Spaceman) Lee — were big Zevon fans. Jackson Browne and Dwight Yoakum had covered him. Warren had written for Linda Ronstadt. That was how it started. It was the late 1990s and I was an lonely post-teen who had already punted on ever being rich, understood or loved.

Warren fit into all of that, as I would come to appreciate more during my missing year in 2000-01.

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#BellLetsTalk: why I cannot go along to get along with mining mental illness for marketing

These ‘Let’s Talk’ tweets and Facebook updates brought to you by a telecom that uses mental illness and honest-to-goodness sometimes crippling emotional challenges as part of a fucking BRANDING EXERCISE is galling.

(Note: Tumblr is being fussy, so I reposted this with new thoughts.)

I know all you mean well and have naught but goodwill in your hearts, but please think about it. I get that it raises money and awareness and might create more conservation than a simple donation. ‘Maybe so, but does anyone wonder how it’s received by someone who is depressed when people fire off a tweet, “[Blank]LetsTalk,” without saying anything else. That does not show sensitivity or concern; that’s something done out of obligation. And why is their damn corporate name at the front of it? Brilliant marketing gimmick, sure, but it implies there’s profit to be mined from your pain that you have carried mostly privately for your whole adult life. Today is the only day to we have for you, you have to talk about it our schedule. Well, when do I see a residual?

The rub is that Bell already has a set amount for a donation built into its budget. This boils down to, “Shill for us or we withhold a portion of our donation.” This has, not for nothing, been called charity by ransom, only it’s done one nickel at a time.

So it does not bring me any peace or make my day any easier. I do not look forward to Feb. 12. I dread it worse than Feb. 14 now!

I can only speak for myself; maybe it helps others. Let us hope so.

It’s debatable whether this makes it better, although I have contended as much out of emotion, for which I am truly sorry. People are smarter than that, of course. It just feels like some people who don’t know better are getting taken for a bigger ride than the people who wore those Lance Armstrong yellow cheater bracelets a few years ago. Read Pink Ribbons, Inc.; perhaps this is the best worst way that the world works… extracting real pain for a PR exercise. It’s like strip-mining people!

I fail to see how this one-day-a-year will have any traction that fosters any greater understanding of depression. There has been progress, sure, and perhaps I’m bitter because it did not start until well after the worst of my troubles. But this does not lead to any research into alternative therapies. Or affordable drugs which can help someone manage her/his condition. You know if you don’t have a family doctor in Ottawa, you cannot go to a walk-in clinic for a mental health issue to get a referral so you can get OHIP-covered counselling? It’s not on the checklist. You could look it up.

(Update, January 2014: fortunately I finally got a family doctor and I have started getting therapy for depression and social phobia.)

It sure as hell doesn’t convince our politicians — over a period of several years, our great Ontario government dedicated a whole 1.5 per cent of its health-care budget to mental health, really — that they should put any more resources toward the problem. 

I know a lot of people have been affected by mental illness much, much worse than I have, both personally and by association. There’s no knowing what they feel about this day because I am sure the marketing mavens at said telecom never talked to them before they came up with this great idea.

I’m speaking because I can. And if you tell me I shouldn’t talk about this and should just go along to get along, congrats on missing the point, fully completely.

#BellLetsTalk a marketing gimmick inflicted on those with depression

These ‘Let’s Talk’ tweets and facebook updates brought to you by a telecom that uses mental illness and honest-to-goodness sometimes cripping emotional challenges as part of a fucking BRANDING EXERCISE is galling.

I know all you mean well and have naught but goodwill in your hearts, but please think about it. I get that it raises money and awareness and might create more conservation than a simple donatione.’Maybe so, but does anyone wonder how it’s received by someone who is depressed when people fire off a tweet, “[Blank]LetsTalk,” without saying anything else. That does not show sensitivity or concern; that’s soemthing done out of obligation. And why is their damn corporate name at the front of it? Brilliant marketing gimmick, sure, but it implies there’s profit to be mined from your pain that you have carried mostly privately for your whole adult life. Well, when do I see a residual?

So it does not bring me any peace or make my day any easier. I do not look forward to Feb. 12. I dread it worse than Feb. 14 now!

I can only speak for myself; maybe it helps others. Let us hope so.

It’s doubtful that people carry on like all this alone makes it better, although I have contended as much out of emotion, for which I am truly sorry. People are smarter than that, of course. It just feels like some people who don’t know better are getting taken for a bigger ride than the people who wore those Lance Armstrong yellow cheater bracelets a few years ago. Read Pink Ribbons, Inc.; perhaps this is the best worst way that the world works… extracting real pain for a PR exercise. It’s like strip-mining people!

I fail to see how this one-day-a-year will have any traction that fosters any greater understanding of depression. There has been progress, sure, and perhaps I’m bitter because it did not start until well after the worst of my troubles in the early 2000s. But this does not lead to any research into alternative therapies. Or affordable drugs which can help someone manage her/his condition. You know if you don’t have a family doctor in Ottawa, you cannot go to a walk-in clinic for a mental health issue to get a referral so you can get OHIP-covered counselling? It’s not on the checklist. You could look it up.

It sure as hell doesn’t convince our politicians — over period of several years, our great Ontario government dedicated a whole 1.5 per cent of its health-care budget to mental health, really — that they should put any more resources toward the problem.

I know a lot of people have been affected by mental illness much, much worse than I have, both personally and by association. There’s no knowing what they feel about this day because I am sure the marketing mavens at said telecom never talked to them before they came up with this great idea.

I’m speaking because I can. And if you tell me I shouldn’t talk about this and should just go along to get along, congrats on missing the point, fully completely.

Oh, you overofficious Ottawa Senators staffers

Just because someone’s there in a professional capacity, it doesn’t mean they aren’t also a potential customer.

In my role with Yahoo!, I go to about two-thirds of Ottawa 67’s home games at Scotiabank Place. The 67’s relationship with the local media is, frankly, unbelievable, both the friendliness and the conditions.

During the lockout, the 67’s provided staff at Gate 3, which is used by both the media and fans. The way it’s been is that once they recognize you, you can stop showing your Canadian Hockey League media pass each time. On Sunday I passed through the same little laneway that I have all season, smiled and nodded to woman with the 67’s who has got to know me a little across the last three seasons and pressed the button to go up the elevator.

An Ottawa Senators employee who wasn’t even monitoring that entry point comes over and grabs the sleeve of my coat.

"I need to see your pass." I produce it and he says, "I have to see your pass because it’s the first time I’ve seen you all season."

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The most uber-Canadian status update ever.

Et tu, Sags? Yours truly has noshed at Eastside Mario’s more times than one should admit, but this seemed like palate-related pathos.

"[Name redacted] and I went to dinner at The Keg … My faith in the food industry was restored. Fantastic, quality food and incredible service. A five-star evening."

This is the end result of my worst anxiety attack since March 2011. Not that you or the people causing my stress care. Thank goodness for insurance companies, I guess.

This is the end result of my worst anxiety attack since March 2011. Not that you or the people causing my stress care. Thank goodness for insurance companies, I guess.

thescore:

Photo: CHICAGO REPRESENT! #Obama dunks Romney!

Brilliant. Shouldn’t they have changed the digits to 44!

thescore:

Photo: CHICAGO REPRESENT! #Obama dunks Romney!

Brilliant. Shouldn’t they have changed the digits to 44!

Confessions of a former 330-pound Queen’s cheerleader; or, why watching a 22-point fourth-quarter lead get away wasn’t tough to take

The Queen’s Golden Gaels had what I suppose people would call an epic playoff collapse, but I still have my health.

Long story short, the two actually go hand in hand. Normally using that transition – long story short – means one is not going to write a honker of a self-indulgent blog filled with obscure university sports references. (Wait, this is Canada – isn’t “obscure university sports reference” a redundancy?)

So on Saturday, my beloveds had the tables turned on them by the Guelph Gryphons in the Ontario University Athletics football semifinal, with Guelph winning 42-39 in overtime after being down by 22 points with six minutes remaining. (Incidentally, I got locked out of Twitter right after Queen’s widened its lead to 36-14.) It was a perfect storm that is only possible in three-down football; the uniqueness of the Canadian game means a team can be pinned near its own goal line almost interminably. Get string of two-outs and turnovers while the wind is at the offence’s back, a familiar friend instead of a forbidding foe. Suddenly one’s heart leaps in the mouth and gets projected on to those guys down on the field. Like baseball, Canadian football is one of the best team games because a huge deficit can be surmounted just like that.

Fans in front of my press box seat had walked out, sportingly telling three Kingston people, “Your quarterback was very good today” in reference to Billy McPhee, who ended up with a 22-of-33 passing day on a wind-whipped field, although people will only remember the three interceptions, although only one was bad pass and it didn’t led to points against Queen’s.

Perfect storm

Then came the perfect storm. Guelph needed points and fast. It put on the punt block, there was that double thunk-thunk of the ball coming off the kicker’s feet and right into the body of a self-sacrificing special teamer. Guelph’s Jake Reinhart scooped it up for the touchdown. That planted the seeds of another comeback by Guelph, which scored 30 unanswered points to beat Queen’s in their regular-season game. Still, most of the time, a 15-point lead with four minutes left is safe, even though the Guelph sideline was alive while, from across the field, Queen’s resembled a library before finals, everyone furtive on edge. Guelph hadn’t sustained a drive all day, but it got another quick score when Jazz Lindsey stiff-armed a defender on a quarterback keeper and went past the Queen’s bench for an 80-yard score. Following a pinball interception where Justin Chapdelaine attempted a diving catch but the ball went off him, off a defender and into the hands of another, Guelph got a last-minute touchdown and a tying two-point conversion where its receiver Carl Trivieri juggled the ball before the defenders could rip it out.

On to overtime then, fall air full of foreboding. Going on offence first means everyone is tight and one bad play likely means having to kick a field goal. Queen’s ran two plays, gained three yards and rookie Dillon Wamsley delivered with a great pressure kick. Two plays later, Guelph’s Michael Fortino made the leaping catch a heartbeat before senior defensive back Josh Sultana could close to bat the pass away. He went in to score as his teammates sprinted off the sideline with a primal roar while gutted Gaels in gold from head to toe sank to the turf.

Naturally, acquaintances figured I’d be more knotted up than a string of cheap Christmas lights after seeing witnessing the ol’ alma mater cough up a three-touchdown lead in fewer than five minutes in a playoff game. The Twitter direct messages came in. Need a hug? Mutual acquaintances tweeting at each other that I had presumably got my Greg Louganis on and done a reverse 2½ off the top of the press box instead of going down to the field. There were a few sorry-mans. In another time, another place, I would have rolled around in that pity like a kid in a pile of leaves.

Not now, not anymore. Don’t you people even know me? All right, so my reputation as a Queen’s Golden Gaels diehard precedes me in myriad media and social circles.

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