Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yet Another Spiritual Moment as a New Father

I've had some incredible moments on this journey as a new father. There has been several times that I feel like I am soaring through the sky and filled with an energy that I never knew existed. I still feel holding Everett in my arms for the first time was one of the most incredible moments of my life. I've now recently experienced a moment that is just as powerful and allowed me to connect to my son even more. I reveal that very moment in today's "Dad's Eye View" column, so go check it out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I'm a Filthy Liar

I said I'll be back on here Monday, and it is now Tuesday. I'm hoping none of you decided to hold your breath until my next post was published on here. If you did, you're probably in desperate need of oxygen now. So, go get some of that.

Monday ended up being a cavalcade of crazy. I was away from my trusty computer for a large portion of the day doing non "furiously typing away at a keyboard" kind of work, but still did the part of helping pay for the mortgage and the carrot sticks. I came home to Everett needing some of my attention, while also trying to squeeze in all the writing work that got neglected during the day. I wanted to blog and I had the urge to blog, but pay copy got in the way (as it should).

Then later in the evening I was all gung ho "let's get this blogging done", but then I got a few unexpected emails ordering more pay copy. I once again let the promise of having cash to pay for pop tarts and pants get in the way of writing on my absolutely free blog.

I then slept.

Well, I first tried to read a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but I only got a few pages in until the tiredness won out. But what was I thinking waiting so many years before jumping on the Harry Potter series? I reread the first one awhile back, and then got the itch to read the sequel, and then the itch has continued on to the next two books. This is an incredible fantasy series, and Rowling's storytelling, creativity, and writing improves more and more after each novel. I realize it is pegged as a children's novel, but this series rivals any adult fantasy novel. Most fantasy novelist would beg for the ability to create a rich story the seamlessly meshes both remarkable world building with compelling story telling. Rowling redefines how we see well known fantasy creatures and people, but doesn't waste paragraphs trying to reeducate us but just integrates it into the deeper storytelling. This series is as much of a landmark as Lord of the Rings, and probably a stronger overall tale too (this is coming from a huge LOTR fan). But I'll gush more about Harry Potter in a future post.

I also saw some of the Oscars on Sunday. I ended up taking an hour intermission from it, because a new episode of The Walking Dead aired. It looked like a pretty decent awards show from what I saw, and I'm impressed they actually ended very close to the time allotted. I've seen this awards show go over 45 minutes, and so running an extra 15 minutes is a huge achievement. There was a pretty good collection of comedy and tributes, and it proved why it is usually one of the more interesting of the awards shows. I'm saddened to admit I saw very few of the Best Picture nominations, and I haven't seen the winner, The Artist. I'm now very interested in catching it. Hopefully, this year I can do a much better job on keeping on top of the film scene by seeing a few more movies. Though I've started out badly since my grand total of times going to the cinema this year is at zero.

Anyway, I've got a nice little mountain of pay copy to attend to. So, I'm going to disappear, and be back when the mountain starts to resemble a small hill. Hopefully, you have yourself one magnificent Tuesday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's the Weekend, So I'm Doing Weekend Things

Or in other words, I'm going to take the weekend off from the blog. I've got some pay copy that I need to finish, some personal projects I want to get ahead on, various other small jobs, and would actually like to relax a bit too. So, this all means I will retreat from the blog for the weekend.

But I'll be back on Monday, all ready to amuse you like the writer monkey that I am. But until then, you'll have to do your own monkeying. Or maybe go buy a monkey, and get it to do the requisite monkeying for you. Have a splendid weekend, and watch out for that feces.

Speaking of monkeys. . .

Why Collective Publishing is Fantastic

I'm sure most of you know that I've written several articles for Collective Publishing over the summer and fall. But they've also been interested enough in buying some of my past blog posts. There really isn't many things more awesome then getting paid for an article that you wrote for personal interest and enjoyment. Collective Publishing has now allowed me to enjoy that amazing feeling three times. The past articles were tributes, but this time they've bought one of my completely goofy pieces. So, please support Collective Publishing by checking out my rating grabbing ideas for Survivor.

One Baby Item That is Worth the Price Tag

I'm not an expert on baby gear. I'll admit Emily did all the research, and she was the major decision maker. Sure, I threw in my token vote, and we didn't buy anything I was against. In the end, I just didn't have too many opinions on many of the items we bought. I knew we needed things for the baby, and I trusted Emily's choices. But there is one item that has been invaluable and I do have an opinion. Check out today's "Dad's Eye View" column where I share my biggest recommendation to soon-to-be parents trying to make purchasing choices.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

12 Rating Grabbing Ideas for Survivor

Survivor loves its gimmicks. Now that it has been around for over a decade, it seems to have relied on stunts to "keep the show fresh" and grab those all-important ratings. Recently, we've seen Redemption Island, returning of past castaways, and this season, both tribes sharing the same beach. It looks like Survivor has taken to Samoa being the permanent location, probably due to a combination of cost, politics, and safety. If they can't sell a season on its location (because it is always the same place), then they have to come up with innovative ideas to grab the viewers' attention. Here are 12 ideas I'm pitching to the Survivor producers, and I promise will keep the show a gold mine for years to come.

1. Survivor: Zoo - For the first time ever, the game will allow contestants from outside of America. It will also be the very first time that the tribes will not have the same number of castaways. One tribe will consist of nine American castaways, but the other tribe will consist of a lion, a tiger, a bear, and a crocodile. In another new twist, castaways aren't eliminated by being voted off but rather by being devoured. It will be the most lopsided season ever, and unfortunately, only lasts one episode.

2. Survivor: Not Really Stars - Eighteen castaways that consist of all our "favourite" non celebrities that pollute the airwaves with their reality tripe shows. I'm talking about the Jersey Shore gang, the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, and anyone else that has a "reality soap opera." I'm sure they'll do it if you promise them a small cut in the sponsorship money and also notify them this will be the highest exposure and ratings they've ever got (network TV still slaughters cable TV ratings for the most part). Viewers get to watch the most annoying people in the world as they trap themselves in their own shelters, cry about a bug giving them a "boo boo", knock themselves out trying to open a coconut, complain about how their agent promised bottled water and drown in the ocean. This will also not likely last the usual 14 episodes, but will have the added benefit of killing off an entire infamous part of the reality TV genre.

3. Survivor: Soccer Moms vs. Professional Wrestlers - No explanation necessary, but this needs to happen now.

4. Survivor: Prison Break - Survivor is at its best when it has players who lie, cheat, steal, and backstab. So, why not fill the entire cast with characters who have done all that in their real life. For the first time ever, entire tribes will be filled with convicts. It will also be the first time that someone will literally be backstabbed. It also will only last one episode as the convicts decide they'd rather do a real prison break rather than play the game.

5. Survivor: Divorce Court - This season will be populated entirely of married couples. Except the couples will be split up and be put on opposite tribes, but not necessarily by gender. At the merge, what will Kathy do when she finds out her husband Ron formed a rather tight alliance with 21 year old Stacy? Who is Billy more committed to, his tribe or his wife Sophia? This season will witness the most crumbled and formed relationships in TV history.

6. Survivor: Sweet Revenge - One tribe will consist of nine fit, outdoor survival experts. The other tribe will consist of eight former castaways that at some point got in an argument with the host, Jeff Probst. But who will be the ninth person on that tribe? Well, Jeff Probst. I have a feeling that despite telling other castaways to suck it up or guilt tripping them for quitting, Jeff isn't so tough when he doesn't have a hotel room and bottle of wine to retreat back to at the end of the day. It will be the first time we see Jeff cry on national TV, but hopefully, the season maintains its appeal after Jeff quits halfway through the first episode.

7. Survivor: No Vacation - Eighteen wealthy business executives are told they have won a free vacation to an exotic island and as an added bonus, their exploits will be documented by a camera crew. They quickly learn it isn't the five star resort they expected, but rather a tropical island where they have to catch their own food and build their own shelter. Preferably it is a cast comprised of people who have never watched Survivor. Watch as 280 pound oil tycoon "Big Bucks" Bobby Barns tries to catch a boar for dinner, but ends up hiding in a tree for hours from a rooster. Revel in the craziness as millionaire Arthur gets slugged in the face after too many times asking an African American contestant to "fetch" him a scotch.

8. Survivor: Winners vs. Losers - One tribe is comprised entirely of past winners, and the other tribe consists of former castaways who were voted off first in their season. This is probably the one actual good idea in this entire batch, and I think would be really awesome to watch. It may be way too difficult to get eighteen past castaways with these specific qualifications to return to the show.

9. Survivor: Trek Wars - One tribe is filled with Star Trek fans, and their opposition is a tribe full of Star Wars fans. Watch as half the cast melt due to being exposed to sunlight for the first time in 20 years. The remaining Star Wars tribe implodes over who "shot first", and the Trekkies refuse to continue based off a plot inconsistency in episode one (humans don't melt). May be the lowest rated season ever.

10. Survivor: Jaws - After the castaway is voted off the tribe, they have to swim in a shark infested body of water while wearing a bathing suit made entirely of fish guts. If they're able to get back to the shore with all appendages intact then they can return to their tribe.

11. Survivor: Rock, Paper, Scissors - In a twist that will change how the game is played forever, the losing tribe won’t go to tribal council but instead must compete in a Rock, Paper, Scissors competition. The person who loses the most rounds is eliminated from the game. When the tribes finally merge, they will battle with real rocks, paper, and scissors, and we will find out what really wins.

12. Survivor: Nuclear Fall Out - In the most controversial season ever, the producers drop an atomic bomb on the islands inhabited by the two tribes. The survivors from the bomb will them compete in the game for one millions dollars. If there are no survivors, then the season will broadcast Mark Burnett's crimes against humanity trial.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Revisiting a Boy & His Dog

Because apparently, the public demands to see a baby next to a large dog as much as possible.

And how does Everett feel about his friend, Summit?

Our First Big Scare as Newborn Parents

It is inevitable that eventually parents are going to get scared and worried about their child(ren). It is what good parents do. We just didn't think it would happen three days after our son's birth. But being scared and worried may be natural, but it is the good parents that try their best to resolve the situation rather than crawl into a fetal position in the corner of the room. Fetal positions were not practiced during our little emergency. Nope, we tried our best to remedy our situation. Check out today's "Dad's Eye View" column and learn about our first (and thankfully only) parental scare.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"I Want to Punch You in the Nose Because You Pulled My Hair in Grade 2": My Attempt at Figuring Out Why I Can't Stop Being an Ass to Some People

The lady steps into the old, abandoned mansion, and a sudden chill crawls up her spine and she senses an incredibly dark presence. She knows a horrendous murder happened in this house 55 years ago, and her powerful senses tell her the victims still haunt these grounds. She can't explain why she knows this, but it is a powerful gift she possesses. The lady is eternally locked with the otherworld, and she is connected with the dead. She knows the places that have trapped the ghosts.

Yeah, I know it's rubbish. Though it makes for some pretty fun fiction. Though I don't believe you can feel supernatural presences in ancient homes or cemeteries or any place, I do think certain places can trigger strong emotional responses in you. It isn't a supernatural experience, but it can be just as unexplainable.

I know there is a particular neighbourhood that whenever I go there that my language starts getting crasser and my behaviour is more volatile. I only went to this place a few times in my childhood, but it was populated by kids from broken homes who were used to having to fight to get through the day. I returned there about 10 years ago (which was still about 10 years after the last time I was there before), and I suddenly felt my body filled with a certain level of unexplained angst. I was less patient and more willing to speak my mind. I had not planned or even thought I would feel that way. I knew it was time to leave that place as quickly as I could, because it made me someone I didn't like. I am not sure what drove me to feel this way. The tough kids from my childhood were not there, and it did not benefit me to act tough and ornery. But my emotions were wired that way once I stepped foot in this area. It was as unexplainable as the lady who can sense the ghosts in the haunted house.

This isn't the only time my emotions have transformed my personality and demeanour. I remember stepping back into a classroom from elementary school, and having the chill run up my spine and feeling incredibly worried. It was a classroom from a grade that was particularly rough for me. The teacher wasn't a good fit for my personality and learning style, and she made me feel pretty stupid at times. Even though it was several years after I was a student in that class, I started to feel the fear and self-doubt while I was in that classroom. I could feel the nightmares brewing in my mind again. I had to leave.

It isn't all bad. My body is surged with positive energy and fills me with a sense that I could almost fly when I go to places like the zoo or Canada's Wonderland. I had amazing childhood experiences there, and they still hold a lot of power for me. There are many places that still get my creative juices flowing or will instantly lift up my spirits. They are places that house wondrous memories and experiences. I may not even go there to relive those experiences and I may even just be passing by those places, but the energy still finds its way to me and recharges my strength and emotions.

I don't think of that tough neighbourhood much. I try to forget about that classroom. I rarely reflect upon my times at Wonderland or the zoo. And there are even places I'll have long forgotten about, but somehow emotions start stirring when I return to them. These emotions don't arrive because I remember the places well or think about them constantly. They're emotions that are deeply imbedded in my mind and start to activate once I arrive to the place that once implanted them.

I don't know if this is the case for everyone. I can only say that I know it affects me. I'll arrive to a restaurant and suddenly be full of far more energy -- because it was the spot that I shared many memorable college parties. Or I'll go to a house where I suddenly become an irritable ass -- because it was a place I experience great tension. It is interesting how a place can implant powerful emotions into your mind, and activate them every time you return.

I'm not saying that my entire behaviour is dictated by emotions once I return to one these places. I can start feeling like an irritable ass, but eventually, I can make the decision to start behaving like mature adult. The emotions may instinctually drive me to behave a certain way and make me more irritable, but in the end, I am still able to overcome the emotional drive. I am not trying to blame a location for inexcusable behaviour. But a place can definitely make me feel a certain way before there are any current events that would have triggered it (everyone is nice, but I'm feeling pissy).

This might all come from me just being a moody and emotional guy. I won't deny such a thing. I've always been one prone to an outburst or one who lets his feelings drive some decisions. It is the curse of being a creative type. Or at least, that is the excuse I am using. But I can usually quell my moodiness by being a goof. My joking and laughing helps to balance things out, especially when I arrive to place that start uncovering my darker emotions.

The real problem is when the emotional implanting is done by interaction with specific people rather than a place. I encounter a person and I suddenly feel a certain way. It comes from a past experience with them, but they aren't doing anything that would justify my current feeling towards them. I don't want to feel that way or even planned to feel this emotion, but they become uncovered the instant the person interacts with me.

I knew this guy in college that I never got along with. We disagreed on almost everything. We argued a lot. I viewed him as a pompous ass. He probably saw me as the same. It seemed like every time we talked, it turned into a ferocious argument -- so, we limited the times we saw each other. It was almost four years before I saw him again. We were at bar with a bunch of friends, and just having a great time talking about sports, movies, and old times. In the four years that passed, I had changed a great deal and had grown in many ways. Since this happened to me, it is just as likely he'd changed a lot since his time in college as well. Despite this time apart, I instantly felt disdain for him. He was talking about a movie that I loved, but my emotions were telling me to disagree with him and call him an ass. Everything he said annoyed me, even though he was saying all the same things my other friends were. He was making the same kind of jokes and partaking in the same type of fun, but everything he did annoyed me. There wasn't any reason for it. It was if all those years of college had downloaded a hate program that would activate the moment I came in contact with him. I still had a fun night, but I remember going home feeling guilty over the unexplained animosity I had for this innocent guy.

I knew this other guy from high school that was about 6 or so years older than me. He seemed like genius back then. He knew so much about science and religion and philosophy. I really respected him a lot. He was a confidant back in high school, and he helped me work through a lot of teenage angst. I had not seen him for over a decade until we ended up going for drinks right before I got married back in 2008. It was a great time together, but then he started giving some "advice" about marriage and some of his thoughts on politics. It was complete bullshit that I disagreed with, but somehow I couldn't boil up the rage to voice my disagreement with him. I just sat there like a mannequin and lapped up his nonsense. I was intimidated by him, even though it was clear I knew more about subject than he did. I knew he was wrong, and I had the evidence to disprove him. I probably was even justified in giving a small dose of diplomatic styled rage (I didn't want to harm our friendship after all). Instead, I felt like he still my mentor and someone with this vast knowledge, even though his words continued to prove that in this particular subject he was pretty oblivious. I couldn't speak up, and I allowed him to pretend to be the expert. My emotional implant caused me to still treat him like a leader. I ended up going home wishing I had the courage to speak up.

I am not a psychologist. I am not going to claim that anyone else faces these same types of scenarios. I have had experiences where I've seen individuals behave a certain way towards another because of their shared history.

For example, I know at least three married couples with a painful history who will start fighting over the most ridiculous problems. You know the fight has nothing to do with that issue. The wife reprimands her husband over saying something that any other dinner guest would have easily got away with. It is that emotional history that made the wife think her husband was a fool. The benefit of the doubt has been completely removed. It is that emotional history that causes a husband to unleash an emotional outburst on to his innocent wife over a simple request, because he assumed it was something unfair or laced with venom. I've viewed arguments that look absolutely ludicrous on the surface, but I then learn there is an emotional history that has caused this couple to be less patient and more likely to erupt into arguments.

It is easy for me to judge that couple. It is easy for me to condemn them. But then I remember those times were I felt hostility towards a guy who didn't deserve it or took advice from a guy who was peddling poison. I did those things because of an emotional history. I know that I've thrown jabs or demonstrated rage over the smallest infraction, because it was committed against someone who has a history of pissing me off. It is pretty scary how somebody can firmly implant certain emotions in you, and they will stay there for years and years -- maybe forever. People can change. I know this. I've changed a lot over the last several years. My world view has altered. My opinions have adapted. I probably would get along a lot better with some people that I once disliked for petty reasons. These "emotional implants" get in the way.

Is it all an excuse? Is emotional history something I use to justify my "pissy face"? Is it an attempt to disown accountability?

I hope not.

I admit when I'm ass. I eventually fess up to it. I give out my necessary apologies. I try to mend fences. I try to create friendships out of relationships that once were defined as "enemies." But I still find myself having problems and issues with people that haven't done anything wrong in the last year, but I've had history of disagreement or been bullied by or been mistreated. I want to let go. I tell myself to let go. Sometimes that emotional implant tries to steer me into hostile territory.

In my case, I am one very lucky person that I have someone like my wife. She isn't scared to call me an ass when I am an ass. She isn't scared to say, "Why the hell aren't you standing up to that guy when he is totally saying things you disagree with him?" She knows when I'm moody or acting out of character. Or in the case of the scenarios created here, when I'm overreacting or responding oddly to the actual situation. Then I give myself a few minutes to think through things, and analyze how things really are rather than what my emotions tricked me into thinking.

I am really not trying to cop out here. I know certain histories can cloud how I see a person. It can make me feel a certain way towards a person that is no longer justified. But how do I fix that without relying on my wife to correct my behaviour every time? Or how can I offer up advice to others that isn't "cart my wife everywhere you go" (which is pretty bad advice for anyone -- even me).

The best strategy I've got is making it an exercise to remind myself I've changed a lot over the years. Then remind myself I don't have magical powers that allow me to mature and grow, but rather it is the natural process in all humans. We grow up; we learn; we develop; we evolve. It is what we do. People I have had problems with or I once was scared of have also done all those things too. It doesn't mean my emotional implant doesn't act up, but it does mean I've reminded myself that sometimes my emotional implant is wrong. I need to give the person a fresh start every time I meet them. Because I'd like the benefit of the doubt too.

Yes. I'm boiling it down to the golden rule. But hey, it is called golden for a reason. I find it helps to keep me in check most times.

I know that just knowing people change isn't really enough to quell the fury of my emotions. As I've already established, I'm an emotional guy. So, I can let the emotion dictate some of my actions and usually it turns into something that I regret. Apparently, regret isn't enough to stifle the next time my emotions come knocking. So, instead, I've come up with another strategy to help counteract my occasional moodiness. It is being a goof. I try to make sure I'm laughing and keeping the mood light. It usually puts me in a place where I'm more willing to be less fiery and furious when more serious subjects come up. Even if things get heated, I try to use a joke or a snarky remark before getting too serious. In most cases, it at least leaves me in a better emotional place, and also throws the other person off enough that things don't get volatile.

Of course, I am not really trying to offer up advice here. I don't even know how many of you find they suffer from "emotional implants" when it comes to encountering people you have a rough past with. I know it isn't just me, but I don't know if it happens to me more than the average bear. I do think it is an interesting thing to think about. I wonder if this is the cause of much of the tension and issues that tend to surface in relationships. We assume the negative when it would have been more beneficial to assume the positive.

Maybe that is my big advice. Try to assume the positive. It'll likely disarm a possible dangerous situation or prevent you being the cause of a problem. Misinterpreting a person's intentions is a nasty business, and probably happens way too often. Maybe the person has a habit of making ridiculous demands or being the town idiot, but it doesn't mean this is what they're doing this time around. It's better to just believe your arch enemy is trying to be your buddy this time, and deal with the disaster after your emotional implant proves to be correct. This is also advice I try to use when encountering people who've rubbed me the wrong way in the past, and I admit I am pretty sucky at following the advice. But I try. Sometimes it even works.

Like I said, I'm not really trying to give advice. I'm just making a personal observation and taking a gamble a few people can relate. But it wouldn't be the first time I'm the lone nutjob. I still try my best to spread my crazy as much as possible, because my mom always said it nice to be inclusive.

What do you think? You can throw out your thoughts or you can just pretend you didn't waste ten minutes reading this. Or you can pass it on to others and say, "This guy is a nut. Stay away from him." Or you know, say that I'm actually on to something too. I'll take it either. I'm just happy to get attention.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why Make Money When You Can Work Hard for a Pat on the Back Instead?

Are there a lot of plumbers or electricians or mechanics that I don't know about who go to people's homes and work entirely for free for the exposure and experience?

I'm not talking about someone volunteering to help out a poor family, or doing a favour for a family or friend, or a worker who is an apprentice.

I'm talking about a fully trained and experienced skilled tradesperson working for a wealthy family, but not getting any financial compensation. Instead, they get the promise of several references to other rich families. Is this a business model that I've just been unaware of for several years?

I'm going to make a crazy guess here, and say that this doesn't happen. Ever.

Yet in creative sectors like visual arts or photography or acting or music or writing, you do see this stuff. A lot. There are big, wealthy companies that expect the creative person's services to be done for free, but with the promise of exposure to a huge audience. Though of course this company isn't just hoping for exposures, they're making big bucks off ad revenue or maybe even charging their audience. The crazy part is that there are suckers who willingly provide their skills for free on a daily basis. All with the hope that this "exposure" will be the magnificent as a unicorn kind of break they've been yearning for.

Why is it that successful websites or publications can get away with not offering up a fair rate for high quality content?

I've come across a few sites or companies that will offer me a chance to write some articles or reviews for them, but add that they do not pay. They then usually talk about the amazing exposure I would get by writing for their large site. I then notify them that in 2012, you still can't pay your mortgage by exposure and get back to me when they become a real business.

I'm not whining about every single company that deals with artists (visual, musicians, actors, writer, etc.). There are many companies that do pay. There are even companies that pay really well. There are wealthy artists, and there are even wealthy artists that aren't necessarily famous. It is because they found companies that pay decent rates, because these companies realize artists are skilled thus deserve to be compensated appropriately.

The problem is there are far too many companies that are making money and are successful that either pay their contributor shit or don't even compensate them at all (unless you count "exposure" as compensation -- which you shouldn't).

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that companies can actually get away with getting premium services for free. But I also don't really fault them either. If a sucker is willing to work for free, then why not take advantage of that fact. It is profiting off the stupidity of others. I don't think it is right, but I can see why they do it. The problem lies more with the countless artists that are so desperate to break into their desired creative fields that they're willing to shortchange themselves now for promises of a golden future.

I know a certain site that attracts a huge flock of readers on a daily basis, and they provide a wide assortment of content. This site also has some pretty big sponsors, and also provides a glossy magazine with a subscription charge. They're also owned by a large media conglomerate. This company is making a pretty decent chunk of change. They have a large army of contributors, who offer up articles and product reviews. The big kicker is that they don't pay most of the contributors, because they only pay for very specific types of articles (and even then, it is shit pay). Yet, they have a lot of writers. How do they get regular contributors, when they don't offer up fair compensation?

You have the one group of writers that only see writing as a hobby. It is something they do after work or to unwind on a weekend. They aren't expecting compensation. They don't view it as a future career. They're just happy to see their name in print. They probably would be shocked if someone was willing to pay them, because they don't view themselves as talented enough.

You then have the other group that dream night and day about a career as a writer. They are so desperate to break in to the industry, and be able to call themselves a professional writer. They'll take almost anything from someone who is willing to print their work. The desperation is so high that they will even be willing to work for free, if there is the magical promise of huge exposure. They probably realize exposure doesn't pay for their mortgage, but they may believe this exposure will lead to them being discovered by a billion dollar company just begging to throw huge sacks of cash at them. This group is delusional.

Let's say there was a plumber who worked for a wealthy family, and did it for no compensation but just the promise of references. This plumber may be the most talented guy in the world. He is also now building up a reputation as the guy who works for free. If you found out that the plumber worked for free for your friend, would you really be excited to pony up some cash? I'm guessing you would be hoping to land the same rate. Free.

Now, I'm not saying you're a complete fool if you work for free. I realize some artists just do things as a hobby and really don't want compensation. I can appreciate that. You may be an actor at a local theatre company, and it would be rather silly to expect financial compensation that would provide for your family. You write for a fanzine that is circulated among a small group of hardcore fans. You may offer up your skills for a non-profit organization. In these types of cases, I don't think you need to expect compensation. You're volunteering or you're doing it for fun. But also these companies aren't doing it for a profit, and likely aren't making much money (other than just covering their overhead costs).

A website that rakes in thousands and thousands of dollars a month from ad revenue doesn't need volunteers. A large publishing company that sells their hardcovers for $35.00 doesn't need the author to work pro bono. If the company is making money, and your contributions are playing a part, then you really need to snag your piece of the sweet financial pie. There are far too many artists that are so desperate to get exposure or be called an actor or writer or musician, that they'll willing offer their services for free and let the company reap the rewards. This is ridiculous.

There are companies that pay really, really, really well. There are a lot of opportunities to make good money in the creative sectors. But there is also just as many opportunities to get suckered. This is because there are so many suckers. There will continually be companies that pay shit or don't pay at all, as long as there are suckers who happily do work for "exposure."

Sometimes it might be okay to do work just for exposure. You could be just starting out, and no company wants to hire an unproven artist. You better make sure this company will promote your work properly and you actually will get that exposure. You also better be sure you maintain all your rights to that work so that one day you can make money off it.

I also realize the problem of sites and companies not offering fair rates aren’t going to disappear any time soon. Even if I am able to convince every artist who reads this that they should demand rates that are fair to their skills, there are still thousands of artists so desperate to be called a writer or actor or musician that they'll work for free. It is just how these industries work. People like the "fame" of having their name in print or being seen up on a stage. They will turn off any business sense, and rip off themselves off to get that "fame," Artists are notoriously known as bad business people and being really bad with money, and it comes from their need to be known to the point they'll give up proper compensation. The big companies know this fact, and will exploit it. It won't change. It sucks.

I’ve said it before, and I want to hammer it into your head, there are many companies that pay really well. There are many opportunities to makes big cash. You just have to work harder to find them. You have to be willing to be a business person and negotiate yourself a great rate. You also have to be willing to laugh at companies that promise you exposure rather than cash. You can get both exposure and cash. You need market yourself properly. It’s easy to have the low paying jobs, because every hack artist gravitates towards them (there are offers all over Craigslist). It is the artist who takes the time to either effectively self-promote themselves or go searching for the high paying companies that actually get exposure and money to pay the mortgage.

Because a pat on the back is nice, but paying that electricity bill is even better. Most skilled workers expect to get paid, and artists should be the exact same.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

About the Last Picture I Posted. . .

I posted a few picture of pure cuteness on Friday. And yes, I realize I've now proceeded to post nothing since then. But that isn't what this post is about. Oh no, this is about something far more profound. I'll have many more days to write excuses over why I stopped blogging for a day or why my entire week consisted almost entirely of links to my columns or pictures of the cute residents of my home. This is not that day. No, today I want to address one very specific picture in the little collection I posted.

The last picture you see my pets sit and look up at me while I type. It is a cute picture. A rare occurrence when both animals are actually sitting side by side (normally, one would be sitting while the other dangles from its mouth). It takes some work (and treats) to get a photo like that. But this isn't what I want to talk about either.

Instead, I want talk about the other figure in that photo. Me.

I know. I know. What a great shock; I want to talk about myself.

My discussion is about how I look in the photo. I realize it only shows my back. This view still shows something rather important. Well actually, it doesn't show something rather important.

Hair on the top of my head.

Now, I have the kind of lovely wife that made sure that this picture was not the moment I discover that hair at the back of my head was fleeing in rapid fashion. She does a good job of keeping me informed of such matters.

Unlike my dad who one day saw a photo that revealed the hair has disappeared, and he pondered how this "suddenly" happened. My mom kindly alerted him to the fact that it wasn't very sudden at all.

My wife feels it is her duty to make sure I know of things like disappearing hair. She also feels it is her duty to add some laughter after she informs me. It made that photo less of a shock, since I knew the prognosis back there wasn't good.

But it was the first time I'd ever actually seen the lack of hair over there. And it definitely wasn't a "eating seventy gallons of ice cream without ever getting fat" kind of magical experience. It was more of a "eating a carton of ice cream to only find out it was frozen pork fat" moment. But at least, I was expecting it, even though it was still a bit of "damn, I'm getting old."

The problem with waiting longer to have children is that they grow up seeing you when you're older. Everett won't know his dad with a full head of hair. I do have a vague memory of my dad having a bushel of hair residing on top of his head. In my case, not only am I having my children much older, but it seems like my hair is departing much sooner than it did from my father's head. So, my son will end up looking at old pictures of me and wonder who is that stranger with a full head of hair. Everett will know his dad as the guy who blinds those who walk past him in the summer.

I've known since I was really young that it was my destiny to be bald. I've been aware of the migration of hair for years. The front of my head has been a mess for a long time now. I had a receding hairline before I started dating Emily. I just recently discovered I had an entire tract of my head that was hairless. Or at least, pretty close to being absent of all things to do with hair.

I miss that hair. I don't miss it enough to start applying hair creams or anything like that. I sort of waited too long to take advantage of that, anyway. If I started strutting around the streets with a full head of hair, then it would be pretty obvious what I did. No subtly or grace for me. I clearly was the guy that had to turn to the Rogaine. And I just don't think it is worth the trouble. I might be willing to take the snide remarks and work involved if I knew there would be results. But I've heard a few cases of the medication not being effective. I don't like the idea of having to get into a routine or doing work for something that isn't a guarantee. I'm naturally lazy and like to limit doing time consuming activities. I don't think the whole process is worth it for me. Or at least, not at this exact moment. I'm also a rather moody fellow, and my feelings might change by the time lunch rolls around.

I'll probably end up shaving my head. I haven't done it yet, because I'm scared I have a rather odd shaped head. When you're bald, the shape of your head becomes more important. I've felt around my head, and there seems to be some bumps in strange places. I'd rather keep them hidden for as long as possible.

Plus there is the whole problem that I am really awful at shaving. I probably cut myself every other time I shave. So, I can't see how I'd be able to avoid having bits of Kleenex scattered all over my head after shaving. Once I think I've mastered this shaving thing (I have only been doing it for about 15 or so years), then I might be more willing to just rid my entire skull of hair.

It was a nice run while the hair lasted. I've missed the hair that I've had at the front for several years now. I may miss the hair in the back even more. It makes me think that maybe I should have appreciated it more when it was around. Maybe I could have spoken nicer to it or taken it out for a few dinners or been willing to play fetch with it. Those days are long gone now. The hair is likely chilling out in several bathroom drains, and has long forgotten the relationship we once had.

I'll never forget. I miss hair that once kept the top of my head warm. Oh hair, you were so fine.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Meet Everett's Newest Friend. . .

The magical baby in the mirror.

And of course there are his old friends. . .

Hmmm. . . what could making them sit so still like that?

The People Who Help Make Parenting Easier

I'm not saying parenting is easy. It takes work. But it also can be an absolute delight. I love holding Everett in my arms and then watching as he looks up at me. I love my son. But I also realize that this whole parenting experience has been so enjoyable because Emily and I have an amazing support network of friends and family. In today's "Dad's Eye View" column I take the time to thank all those amazing people who has helped us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Parenting Hasn't Always Been Raining Skittles and Dancing Pandas

I like to brag how awesome my son is, and how this parenting deal has turned out to be much easier than many people made me fear. But that isn't to say it has been a non stop party of pop tart castles and dancing pandas. Oh no, there was definitely a tough adjusting period as a new parent. I discuss that very thing in today's "Dad's Eye View" column. So, go read that, and then when you're done you can try to find a panda to dance with. It really is almost as awesome as being a parent to Everett.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reheated Valentine's Day Thoughts

I was going to write a piece on Valentine's Day, and I may still, but I've got some pay copy that really needs to be finished. It needs to be finished now because I'll be jetting out of the house early to be doing some Valentine's festivating with my beautiful wife. Because I like to celebrate Valentine's Day by letting my wife know I love her. I usually do it through fancy dinners and gifts. Yes, I'm playing right into Corporate America's trap. But I don't care. It makes my wife feel special, and that is never a bad thing even on overly marketed holidays.

Valentine's Day gets a pretty unfair rap. It has to be the most beat on of all "holidays", despite not doing anything much different than the others (well, except for not giving you a day off unless you call in sick). I talked about that very thing last year. So, you can go read that, and if I have time, maybe I'll throw in some 2012 thoughts later.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Lively Thoughts on The Walking Dead Mid-Season Premiere

Does your head explode when you read spoilers for a show that has already been nationally televised? Do you hate it when your head explodes? Well, you might want to skip this post then.

So yeah, I only watched about a whole 4 minutes of the Grammys, because I was far more stoked for new episodes of Once Upon a Time and The Walking Dead. I've been eagerly anticipating new episodes of The Walking Dead for almost two months now. I really didn't feel like waiting until it stumbled upon an on-demand service. I wanted my zombies, and I wanted them ASAP.

Well, except that there weren’t a lot of zombies. There were plenty of zombie corpses, but very little in the zombie action. Actually, there wasn't a lot of "action" in this episode. I've read that despite the show getting record ratings for AMC that they've cut the budget in half this season. It means they need to minimize the need for special effects, which probably is why we get episodes like this one where the zombies essentially take a vacation.

It wasn't necessarily a bad thing. This episode was all about the fallout from Shane's freak out at the barn and the discovery the little girl has been stumbling about the barn for the entire second season. It was an episode that has dropped a lot of hints for potential big storylines in the future. For example, Shane is becoming more insane, and Dale is probably right in saying he's just teetering over the brink when it comes to killing another human. It's also interesting that Dale has Shane figured out, but no one else is willing to believe that Shane would kill someone or is really dangerous. The crazy part is that there were a few key characters that agreed with Shane's decision to unleash the zombies and take part in a game of "Off the Walkers." I'm predicting that we are going to see a split in the group where you have a Rick faction and a Shane faction. It's a pretty cool prospect and a lot of potential for some cool future storylines. Or it could go the other way, the Shane sympathizers aren't willing to fully drink the Kool-Aid and they finally realize what a nut bar he really is -- which would likely lead to an even more delightful meltdown from Shane (only in television can a meltdown be something I look forward to witnessing).

Rick seems to have got himself some trouble too. In the tensest part of the show, Rick offed himself some outsiders who didn't appear to be honest in what they're claiming. They likely have some friends, and friends that may not be totally enthused to hear their buddies are now riddled with bullets. Rick and pals may have a pack of both zombies and angry thugs to worry about. Of course, Rick is also completely unaware that his wife is currently handing upside down in a car, and just waiting for some zombies to make a visit.

The final scene is also interesting in that Rick is now the other character that is responsible for killing humans. He's got desensitized in killing walkers, but now it seems like he doesn't struggle much with shooting a human beings either. Of course, it was out of self defense and you're to believe these guys were just bringing the trouble. This final scene seemed to book end an episode that was all about break downs (assuming you agree Rick lost it just a tad at the end).

You have Hershel who ran off to town to get himself drunk. He has realized the zombies aren't just sick humans but actually dangerous "monsters." It still had to be hard to see his wife and step son get shot and essentially, killed a second time. I think the part that really drove him over the edge was when he realized he'd been spending all those months hoping for a cure that wouldn't exist, and also spending man power "rescuing" and feeding the undead. It wasn't a good day for poor Hershel and I can't blame him too much for resorting back to the drink.

On top of Hershel's big break down, you also have Darryl and the girl's mother totally cutting themselves off from everyone else. Again, this is a pretty believable response since the entire first half of the season they were devoted to finding the girl and keeping home she was alive. She wasn't. It was a pretty big emotional hit to both, and I look forward to seeing if they can recover or will take an even deeper emotional descent.

It wasn't a blow away return episode. I missed my The Walking Dead, and I was just happy to have something fresh. This was an episode all about setting up the future storylines for the rest of season. There seems to be a lot of promise and a lot of major issues to be resolved. You'll have the big action in town where Rick has to protect himself from the outsiders, while also eventually needing to rescue his wife (or she'll have to fight her way out without anyone knowing where she is stuck). Then you have the intriguing friction between the two sides (pro Shane/anti Shane), as well as the emotional descent of a whole crew of characters. The character development has been pretty realistic so far, or at least, it is how I would believe people would be responding to a world filled with zombies (I don't have much experience).

It has given me a taste of what should be a delicious gourmet meal. I am predicting an action packed second half to the season, and hopefully, some more appearances from our beloved walkers -- after all, the show is named after them.

Anyone else decide to pick zombies over musicians last night?

Yet Another Advantage of Having a Blog if You're a Freelance Writer

I started this blog as nothing more than a place to vent and rant to the world back in 2004. I turned this blog into a daily ritual in 2010, because I knew it would be a good place to hone my craft while I tried to make a serious run as a freelance writer. I believe blogs are a valuable thing for freelance writers because not only is it a place to practice writing while also gaining some exposure, but it allows you the freedom to write about what you want (since paid work is often going to be writing things your client or publisher wants). I've said before that this blog has had a positive effect on my writing career, but I've also never heavily relied on it being my main source of landing writing jobs. If I really wanted this blog to be the launching pad into writing stardom then I'd have to turn into a niche blog that appeals to whatever form of writing I wanted to make my main source of income. But I don't want to do that. I like this blog just being a place where I write whatever I feel like writing about.

Despite that stubbornness, this blog has paid off for me. It has landed me jobs. It has been a good place to show people my writing style. A writing style many seem to enjoy, because my reader base has grown past just my wife and a couple of friends.

Sometimes, this blog even becomes a source of income. This is when it is really valuable to constantly churn out fresh content. Yesterday was one of those times that the blog did its part in earning its keep around this place. There were a few sites that liked my Whitney Houston tribute and were willing to buy the rights to publish it on their site. I'm always happy to sell my blog posts, so that other sites can spread my rantings and ravings to a new audience (and you know, earn more money).

One of the sites was my good friends at the Collective Publishing Company. I want to point them out specifically, because they really are a fine site that doesn't get the attention they deserve. I've written for them several times over the past year, and they pay really well for a site that isn't incredibly well known. But they deserve to be well known. I'd love for you all to pass on the word, and check them out. I'm not just saying that because this is the second time they've purchased one of the posts from this blog.

This is some proof why a blog is great for a freelance writer. I'm not saying you should expect people to suddenly barge down your door and throw money at you to buy one of your posts. I am saying that a blog can be rewarding. It can be rewarding in the way that you just get to write about things you love and care about. It can be rewarding in that you start gaining some loyal readers. Sometimes it can even allow you to break into markets that you may not have been able get into without the blog.

And it can even be rewarding in the form of sweet, sweet, sweet cash money. Of course, that type of rewarding usually doesn't happen without connections and proper promotion of your blog. In the case of the Whitney Houston tribute, I actually didn't promote the piece very hard. But I have spent the time building a relationship with many sites and publishers. So, when I do write a piece, then it is more likely they'll come across it and be willing to express their interest in the form of money (or a job offer to write something else for money).

So there you go. Another real life example of why having a blog is awesome. Or at least, why it is awesome for me. I can't actually promise the same results or experiences for you. If you do like to write, I think it is important to have a place where you can write for yourself and still have the public read it. Your blog/site will eventually yield some rewards in some form, which will either be personal satisfaction or (fingers crosses) monetary success.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston: Losing a Music Icon

If you've been on the internet for more than 30 seconds, then you likely now know that Whitney Houston passed away yesterday.

It is one of those sad situations that I'm surprised, but not really that surprised. She was only 48 years old, which is far too young. But she has also had a several decades long battle with drug and alcohol addiction. It is an incredibly tragic story, and an ending that many likely saw coming but never wanted to believe. Now of course, the cause of death isn't actually in, and so I'd rather not harp too long on what are the believed causes (a body battered by years of abuse). It is sad that such an incredibly talented singer was so plagued by addictions and personal demons. Whitney Houston was definitely one of the singers that defined an era in music, and her legacy will remain forever. It may be a tragic story, but she has left behind many positive memories.

I had a huge crush on Whitney Houston in the late 80s/early 90s. I knew she was over a decade older than me, and about a million miles out of my dating range, but you don't worry about such things when you have a celebrity crush. I never loyally listened to her music or owned any of her albums, but I always recognized she was a talented singer. I knew she had a hell of a voice. People talk about how Christina Aguilera has an amazing natural singing voice with a powerful set of lungs, but she was never in the same league (or even sport) as Whitney. You wanted someone to belt out a powerful ballad or sustain a high note than she would be the person to turn to every time. Her addictions did hurt her voice, but it just made it pretty good rather than miraculous.

So, why did I have a crush on Whitney Houston? Well, she was hot. Especially in the early 90s. She just had this aura about her. I didn't listen to her style of music very often, but I'd always stop what I was doing if I heard her sing. She was a diva, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. She carried herself as a superstar. She stood out in the early 90s when compared to all the little "pop tarts" wishing they could be divas that were clogging up the air waves. Her competition was girls, and she was a woman. The moment you saw her, you knew she was defining an entire genre.

I can't really say I was a fan of Whitney Houston, because like I said, I never even owned a single album. I also don't know a good part of her musical library. I know all her hits, but then again, almost everyone who pays a small attention to pop culture would know them. She sort of reminds of Michael Jackson, as someone that I wasn't a diehard fan and started to care less about due to their struggles, but when they pass, it hits like a cannonball to the gut. I suddenly realize their epic contribution to the music industry, and just always assumed they would be around for years and years. As an aside, I can't believe I never even made one mention of Michael Jackson's passing on this blog -- though in my pathetic defense, I wasn't blogging in 2009. In both cases, there were far bigger fans than me, but I enjoyed their music when I heard it and I know their significance to music history is monumental.

I am sad to hear one of my first ever celebrity crushes has passed away. I hope she gets one hell of a tribute this evening at the Grammys (I realize it was short notice, but damn, it is Whitney Houston, man). It sucks she died so young. It is unfortunate she struggled with addiction for so long. I am going to keep my happy memories of her. I will never forget that marvelous singing voice.

Whitney Houston was a true music legend, and one of the greatest divas of all time. And yes Whitney, I will always love you.

And just because this was likely the song that started my crush. . .

Friday, February 10, 2012

Seriously, Home Births Aren't a One Way Ticket to Disaster Town

I spent several columns recounting our birth story, because I thought that it would not only be entertaining but also allow others to know that not all pregnancies are "normal." I also realize that my little story could have had an unintended negative effect. There is a chance it caused a few people to decide that home births could usher in the apocalypse. I admit that our home birth attempt may have been a little too wacky and wild for my own comfort level, but the whole experience did end with the happy ending in the form of a healthy baby boy. Despite everything that happened, I still think home births are a great option, and more specifically, I think midwives are an amazing option, In today's "Dad's Eye View" column, I try to wipe away any fears that I may have stirred up and explain why I think you should still consider midwives and home births.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Writing a Letter to a Baby Who Can't Read

Which I realize is not as impressive as writing a letter to a baby that can read. But I'm not stuck in the film Baby Geniuses and I'm actually quite happy with that fact. I'd rather be to stuck in Goonies or Star Wars, but they don't really have reading babies either. It seems my letter is not destined to be read by babies.

Despite that fact, in my latest "Dad's Eye View" column, I did write a letter to my newborn son. One day, I plan for him to read it. Since all of you can obviously read, you get the chance to read it before him. It is my little introduction to the world and family for my son. So go check it out, and then gloat about how you read it before the baby it was written for. I am sure your friends will be so proud.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Shatner Sings for the Common People

Call me crazy (and at some point you may already have done that) but I really dig the William Shatner & Ben Folds collaborative cover of Pulp's "Common People." I am not going to say it is a better song (though I think it is), but I do think it captures the feel and emotion of the message much better.

You can just feel the sarcasm and disdain for the rich tourists dripping off Shatner's lips. It is just an angry and more volatile feeling song than the original. Based off the lyrics, that is how it should have always felt. Plus Ben Folds and Shatner actually mesh well together and make the whole song capture the emotion while also being a pretty catchy tune.

Of course, I might just be crazy.

I've got a small little mountain of pay copy and client work to attend to along with some other necessary tasks, so this might be all you get from me today. But if it is, I hope you have yourself the most splendid of Tuesdays.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Oh Look! I See A Parade of Pictures

Yep, I sure do.

This is where the "magic" happens. Or at least, where it is revealed.

The big plus side to working at home is all the stimulating conversation I can engage in.

Don't worry, Everett got lots of his cake -- in magical milk form.

Our stringless marionette.

Yet another deep conversation taking place in the Spicer house.

"There is no way that is true! You're crazy!"

Holy crap! That baby is a giant!

And that is the end of our picture parade. I hope you remembered not to feed the clowns. It is just better if they starve.

Here and There: A Random Assortment of Thoughts - 2/6/12

1. I watched the Super Bowl yesterday, because that is what you do on the evening of Super Bowl Sunday. Unless of course, that isn't what you do, then you are busy doing something else (maybe watching a Bridget Jones marathon on W or arm wrestling a sea turtle -- I don't judge). I like my football, and so it makes the most sense to watch the biggest football game of the year. Unlike in the United States, Canadians actually watch the Super Bowl for the football because we don't have the same smorgasbord of exclusive big budget commercials. We probably get about half of the American Super Bowl commercials, but I'm not sure if I just wasn't impressed by this year's crop or that we got less than that this year (it seems like we got the shaft on the Ferris Bueller and Seinfeld commercials). In the age of YouTube, it doesn't really matter too much that we miss out on many of the commercials, because you can eventually catch all the good ones anyway. It just means you're more likely to be a football fan to catch the event in Canada or you're going to a Super Bowl party to wolf down chili, nachos and wings.

I had me some of that delicious wings and nachos action, thanks to the most magnificent wife in the world (mine). Our Super Bowl party consisted of me, Emily, Everett, Summit and Crosby, and so we played it a bit more low key this year. This was also the first year that I got the honour of taking "diaper breaks' throughout the game, which I think allowed for a much more interactive feel. Unfortunately, Everett seemed to not be as impressed with the Super Bowl, and decided to make the final diaper spectacular an extended one, so I missed out on the Giant's comeback in the final minutes of the game.

The game was a pretty good one, but unfortunately, the joys of parenting meant I was less engaged than most years. It was kept close the entire game, and the trailing team made the big last minute comeback, which is always exciting (probably more if you get to actually see it). There were pretty big plays, and even a few that will get replayed in highlight reels for years to come. Especially the big jumping catch in the fourth quarter that essentially led the Giants to the run that lead to the championship.

I also need to add that I predicted a Giant Super Bowl win a few weeks back when the playoffs were just starting. It seemed like they had the momentum and they've been that type of team that underachieved in the regular season but got things together when it counted. I was confident they'd get the championship after their trouncing of Green Bay. It is always fun to call a big win, because I'm a Bears fans and what else do I have this year to be happy about in the football world?

2. I have wanted to make a few comments on the Shafia murder trial, which has been pretty big news up here. The convicted are still claiming innocence, but from the information that has been released, it appears to be a pretty clear case that they're guilty of murdering their 3 daughters/sisters and ex-wife (in the case of the husband). They also wouldn't be the first ever guilty parties that have stuck to their innocence for the rest of their lives (or until they have a chance to get a lucrative book deal). Debating their innocence isn't what I want to discuss here.

I've been deeply disturbed by this entire case. I just can't imagine what could drive a person to kill their own children and wife. This is something that becomes even more putrid and sickening to me now that I have my own son. I feel instinctually driven to protect my son at all costs. Preventing harm is one of the biggest emotions I have as a father. I can't imagine that one is so bound to their cultural traditions and beliefs that they'd murder those who they should be instinctually driven to protect.

This case is the perfect example of why someone can't allow their beliefs and cultural traditions to dictate how they live and behave. I am not calling for the death of religion or elimination of following your cultural traditions. You can't allow yourself to be tightly leashed by them either. Your beliefs can't consume you to the point that you forget to love and protect those around you. Your beliefs are not more important than a human life. This is my problem with fundamentalism, and those who are so ingrained in their traditions that they don't allow for any breathing room in their thought process. They allow their doctrines and religious texts (or their interpretations of them) to dictate their actions. These beliefs and cultures should be adding value to your life, but not controlling what you do, especially when those things aren't grounded in love. The Shafia trial sickens me, and I feel horrible for those four poor women who did absolutely nothing wrong.

3. I finally caught the premier of Alcatraz. It was a pretty fun start, and definitely shows a lot of promise. It also has the chance to be a cavalcade of plot hole and dropped storylines. I'm all for twists and mysteries, but the key is for the writers to have a clear direction of where they want to go. The current premise has me intrigued, and I do want to know why these ex-convicts are suddenly popping back into existence. The crucial thing is that there really does need to be a reason why they're coming back. It should probably be a pretty big reason, because I can't see someone going through this much trouble to just rob a bank or something. It also isn't going to make sense for every single criminal to just pop back in the modern times to stir up trouble, and so I hope that not every episode is going to be a "new criminal of the week" kind of thing (unless the plan is so huge it does need all 63 convicts). It has been established that there is some kind of goal even if the criminals themselves don't know what it is, but each perp should have a task that builds towards this greater purpose rather just causing random chaos and crimes. In the coming weeks we'll see if the writers can remain focused and avoid this show getting tangled in it plots or attempts at serving up red herrings. I liked what I've seen so far, and I'm interested enough to try to catch up on all the episodes.

4. I saw the Brisk iced tea Super Bowl commercial that starred Yoda and Darth Maul. It was mildly entertaining. The thing that stuck out to me was the small little ad for the 3D Star Wars movies that will get trotted out starting this month. I don't have any intention of going to see these movies, because I have the collection at home and enjoy them just fine in the 2D variety. This ad has reminded me of the latest onslaught of verbiage being unleashed by fan boys against George Lucas. I admit I've been a part of that war, but by this point, I really don't see the point anymore. Yes, the man likes to tinker with his films. Yes, the prequels were a giant let down. Yes, he is likely to remaster the films a dozen more times and eventually, the bartender will be the one to shoot first. I really don't see the point in being outraged anymore. It is the guy's films, and he owns the right to play with them in any form he chooses. I would wish he would allow the release of Blu-Rays of the original films without any Special Edition or tinkering. Other than that pipe dream, I just don't have the energy to get frustrated over George Lucas anymore. The reality is the man played a huge part in defining my childhood and created a set of films that allowed my imagination to soar to far off worlds. I'll always be thankful for that.

I also think the venom over the 3D remastering is totally unwarranted. Star Wars is not the only films that are being remastered for 3D. Disney is turning most of their classics into 3D versions, and James Cameron is rereleasing Titanic as a 3D version as well. If these films make back a decent chunk of change, then I promise you several more major blockbusters will be 3Dified. Hollywood likes their easy money, and this is the easiest of cash grabs. This is definitely more of o Hollywood shift rather than any major decision made by George Lucas (other than the man likes his money, but I also don't think that is necessarily a fault either).

5. The Hunger Games film trailer has definitely wet my appetite for that movie. It has also made me intrigued in the novels, which I've heard many good things about. It has also made me nostalgic about Battle Royale, which is a Japanese film (based off a manga comic that was based off a novel) that must be the inspiration for this series. I'm also sure there are some that complain that The Hunger Games is nothing more than a knock off (because both use the concept of students having to compete in a deadly competition with the last person standing rules). I can't really contribute to the conversation since I've only ever seen Battle Royale. I also know that a competition where the losers die was not invented by the writer of Battle Royale (Stephen King's The Long Walk has a similar concept and was published in the '70s).

The reality is writers are going to stumble upon similar concepts and ideas as other writers. You're going to get works that seem similar on the surface. I think, as long as the work isn't a blatant rip off then eventually they will start drifting away from each other and become very different creatures. I've got a strong feeling that since The Hunger Games is a YA novel that it is different from Battle Royale. I think, any need to call the former a rip off is probably unwarranted (and I'm not even sure if the novel gives an "inspired by" acknowledgement at the start -- which completely kills any need for the "rip off" arguments).

6. I'm going to talk about midwives more this week in my "Dad's Eye View" column, but I just wanted to say how much I loved our experience with our midwives. We didn't get our home birth dream, but our Boxing Day went by a thousand times easier thanks to the compassion and professionalism of our midwives. We meet our midwife for the final time tomorrow. It is absolutely wonderful we were able to get their one-on-one attention for six weeks after the birth. Any time we had a concern, we were able to page them, which have been a huge gift for first time parents. We've also been able to build a real relationship with them and gain a huge amount of trust, which is pretty important when it comes to care for our son. I definitely want to pass on my biggest recommendation for a midwife if you're in the market for some baby delivering. I'm not saying everyone will want or even can have a midwife, but I know the experience for us has been as magnificent as a talking caribou that shoots Skittle from its eyes (except with far less candy).

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Before the Big Game, Come Snack on Some Ear Candy

Work and life has been doing a "chicken running around with its head cut off" impersonation. So, the blog has been a little neglected. I'm telling you just in case you thought I was neglecting the blog so I could belly dance in front of the window to cause the neighbours long term traumatic damage (this of course, wouldn't take up that much time).

I was thinking of putting a Madonna song up here to commemorate the fact she is playing at the halftime show this year. But I decided a halftime of Madonna is more than enough Madonna for one day (or even week). Though speaking of Madonna, I heard on the radio that she is charging $300.00 for tickets for her next concert tour. She apparently realizes this is ridiculously high, but has responded by telling fans they just need to save up their money. Because we all should be saving up our cash so we can go see a 50 year old woman strut around like she is 20. I also think that if Madonna is promising a "can't miss event" rather than just a concert then she'll get many fans lining up to drop down their hard earned cash. The lady has accumulated a legion of followers over several decades and I don't think she tours too much anymore, so it is probably one of those tickets that will move no matter the cost attached. Though I think it reeks a little of "desperately trying recoup losses that may have been suffered by illegal downloads." But I'm just cynical like that.

I promised you ear candy, and I didn't want to do Madonna. I'm going to offer you up some Florence and the Machines' "Shake It Out", because this song has lodged itself in my head and I don't really mind it being there. It is one of those type of songs that I didn't think much of originally, but it slowly grew on me and I'm now completely infected.

So, sit down and listen to some not Madonna. Then when you're done this, you can go grab some last minute snacks before you watch the big game (or if you're in the States and haven't scoured YouTube all week yet, watch yourself commercials).

Friday, February 03, 2012

Now, It is Time to Add Some Magic to this Birth Story

For the last several weeks on my "Dad's Eye View" column, I've been recounting the roller coaster ride that is Everett's birth story. Today's column is not only the conclusion, but probably the highest point of the ride. How does a roller coaster end at the highest point? Well, there may be a reason why I don't design such rides, but rather just like to have fun on them. As for a story, I think this is the perfect ending. Actually, I'd say it is a very magical ending. This was without any doubt the most spiritual and magical moment of my life. What is this moment? Well, you'll have to head on over to Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine to find out for yourself.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My Question Posed Out of Complete and Honest Curiosity

For those of you who come to my blog posts via the Twitterfeed on Facebook, I've been wondering why some of you post your comments on the Facebook site rather than directly on this blog?

If your answer is, "I don't. I comment directly on this blog." Then obviously, this question was not directed at you.

This isn't a question that comes from a place of rage or even any desire to start a debate. It is just straight up curiosity.

From my perspective, you're on this site anyway, and at the end of reading it, you likely encounter the text box where you can leave a comment. Instead, the Facebook commenter closes this tab and decides to leave a comment on the site that was just housing the link rather than the content.

Is it because you think it will be easier to read my response on Facebook (rather than have to return to that blog post)?

Do you find the need to fill in your name and email address to be far too taxing?

Do you just love Facebook oh-so-much and want to write on it as much as you possibly can?

Because of bears?

I also have a question for the large amount of readers who never leave a comment. Though the simple fact that you are a non-commenter may make asking this question pointless. But this wouldn't be the first time I've written something pointless on here.

When I publish a post that is controversial or clearly designed to engage conversation or really any post I write, what is your main reason for not leaving comments?

Is it because you strongly disagree with my comments but don't feel like entering into debate or scared it will scar my fragile ego?

Do you just agree with everything I say and don't feel like being a parrot?

Lack of time or opinion?

You only clicked on the post in hopes of finding a picture of my dog or son or cat, and when you were greeted with a wall of text, you promptly fled to YouTube?

You were going to leave a comment but then "oh shit, my boss is entering the room" happened?

Because of bears?

Well, you can either answer these questions or surf the web for information on bears. I'm cool with either choice.

I also realize my title was a blatant lie as there was more than just one question. Plus I neglected to mention bears.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Greatest Boxing Day Deal Ever

My "Dad's Eye View" column has been recounting one crazy little birth story. By now, it is pretty clear that things didn't go as planned or how we wanted them to go. But in the end, all the craziness and pain is worth it if you get a beautiful and healthy baby. I am sure most of my readers have a pretty good idea on if I think that happened. But since you've stuck with the column this long, why not read the happy ending to this roller coaster of a story. Check out today's "Dad's Eye View" column where I reflect upon what was truly the greatest Boxing Day deal I ever got.