Saturday, October 31, 2015

Curse Of Obligatory Halloween Post

Happy Halloween, Ya L'il Rotterz!

Many moons ago, I started a blog series about the things that scared the ever-livin' poop outta me as a kid. It started simple, with my first recollections of fear in general, which I recounted right hur. Then it moved on to a catalog of all the horror movies that scared me silly growing up, starting with An American Werewolf in London and moving on to The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the original Alien.

Needless to say, I really wanna continue this trend, but maybe lighten things up a bit this year. And when I say "a bit" I really only mean "a smidge". 'Cuz, let me tell ya, my next pick really freaked the hell out of me.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)


Yes, The Return of the Living Dead is another horror comedy. What can I say, I was a really sheltered kid.

Just like in American Werewolf in London, writer/director Dan O'Bannon wasted no time establishing a creepy atmosphere. Frank (James Karen), a supervisor at a medical warehouse, tries to spook his dim new protege Freddy (Thom Mathews) by telling him that the events in George A. Romero's seminal zombie movie Night of the Living Dead actually happened fo' realz.

Since that film had already made an indelible impression on me, I was already pre-sold on a follow-up of sorts. That is until Frank told Freddy that one of the living dead corpses was actually stashed in the basement underneath their very feet. Hat's off to actor James Karen for taking what could very well have been a boring scene of pure exposition and turning it into a creepy campfire yarn. Sorry, James, I don't care if you're ninety-one years old now; if I ever run into you I'm still gonna punch you right in the nards for traumatizing me so badly as a kid.

Of course these two chuckle-heads wandered down into the basement and within record time they managed to break the seal on the zombie canister. Pretty soon the entire facility was flooded with some sort of toxic nerve gas, which apparently was all the excuse Dan O'Bannon needed to trot out one darkly humorous and brain-noshingly dreadful set piece after another.

First, one of the anatomical cross-section dogs came to life and started barking and growling. Freddy and Frank then proceeded to beat the vile thing into a second death with crutches. Whenever I watch this scene now I laugh my ass off, but back then I thought it was the sickest, most reprehensible thing I'd ever laid eyes on. Man, I was such a Republican...

To make matters worse, O'Bannon uses nudity for shock value when one of the jaundiced-looking corpses in the meat locker starts running around buck naked and attacking people. Even after our gormless duo manage to decapitate the thing it just springs back up again and starts running around like a headless plucked chicken. Again, I find this to be hysterically funny now, but back then seeing a nude, homicidal, headless corpse attacking people while they screamed their lungs out really shattered my nerves.

After Mutt and Jeff finally managed to subdue the frenetic corpse by hacking it into pieces (!), they came up with the brilliant idea of burning the remains in the crematorium. This only served to send toxic smoke skyward, which then fell back down to earth in the form of rain. Of course, when the tainted rainwater bled into the ground, scores of horrifically-decomposed corpses started popping up out of their graves like rigor-mortis-inflicted Sea Monkeys.       

Even before the first twenty minutes of the film was over by mind had thoroughly blown and leaking out of my left ear, so I just sat there and gurgled as O'Bannon kept troweling on one body blow after another. I watched slack-jawed as the punk rocker Trash, played by aforementioned scream queen Linnea Quigley decided, for no apparent reason, to do a striptease on top of a graveyard crypt. Since promiscuity is an instant death sentence in horror pictures, it wasn't long before she got enchompinated and came back as a zombie who was clearly free of any body image issues. 

And, let me tell ya, folks, these ghouls didn't play by the old rules. They didn't even have the common courtesy to drop after you blasted them right in the mush. You practically hafta stuff 'em into a blender and put 'em on frappe for at least three minutes. Also, unlike the dazed-looking extras wearing a few scattered facial appliances and scars in Night of The Living Dead, Return's zombies are all rotted, gross and nasty.  Just Google "Half-Corpse" and "Tar Man" and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

There's one other  important way in which these guys differ from Romero's living dead: they can haul major ass! Watching them swarm military and police barriers with ease was enough to scare the fertilizer outta me. Bonus points: O'Bannon's ghouls are also positively chatty! The scene in which  a zombie uses a police car (and then an ambulance) radio to place an order for delivery is completely hilarious, but at the time it was completely lost on me. My brain was on total lock down by that point.

There were more gut-wrenching scenes to come. After directly inhaling the toxic gas, Freddy started to succumb to the zombification process. But before that happened he had a gut-wrenching re-union with his girlfriend Tina who, naturally, became a total wreck while watching him go from dead to living dead. Eventually she's forced to flee from him and the other characters bar him up in another room. 

Thom Mathews gives a brutal, go-for broke performance here, delivering his E.C.comics-inspired lines so well that they haunt me to this very day:


Sorry, but that's just creepy as f#@$.

For its complete lack of scruples, shock-value nudity, amazing gore and makeup effects, eerie lines, and over-the-top performances, Return of the Living Dead also scores a "3" on the Evil-O-Meter.

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So, there you have it for another year, kiddies! Join me again next year, same bat-time, same bat-channel for a new installment of my Obligatory Halloween Post!

EPIC BEHIND-THE-SCENES DOC  I went completely off the deep end when DVD's first came out, thanks to amazing in-depth, "making of" docs like this one:


SEQUEL FAIL  Turns out, Dan O'Bannon made a much better follow up to Night of the Living Dead then it's co-creator did. Watch now in amusement as Internet sensation Dr. Wolfula sinks his teeth into John A. Russo's excrementally awful Children of the Living Dead.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"____" Reasons To Vote STRATEGIC A.B.C. On October 19'th



Greetings, Persistent Purveyors of Political Prudence!

Well, if anything was going to inspire me to blow the dust offa the ol' Emblogification Capture Device, it was a new federal election. After all I've used this particular platform to rail against Herr Harper on four separate occasions:
  1. Way back on April 26, 2011 I cautioned my fellow Canadians about the dangers of voting for Harper's pack of preppie douchebags. The good news is, sixty-one percent of youze guys listened to me. The bad news is, thanks to Harper's electioneering and our own cock-eyed political system, all of those left-leaning votes got split up amongst three different parties which allowed the Refor...er, Allianc...er the "Conservatives" to capture the long sought-majority that they've sacrificing all those goats for since 2006.
  2. On March 7, 2012, not even a year into Harper's Palpatine-like mandate, I decided to do a follow up entry. I quickly discovered that Our Supreme Leader had done a lot more irreparable harm to our beloved country than I originally feared. Between hideous violations of privacy, drunken taxpayer wastage, blatant attacks on scientists, the gutting of the CBC and criminal-style election fraud, all I could do was catalog these escalating violations with disgust and wince at the prospects of yet another three years under this despot.
  3. Just three short months later, on June 21, 2012, I was inspired to take up quill and paper again "thanks" to the the pork-stuffed C-38 omnibus bill. After researching this Frankensteinian hunk of legislation I just had to kick back against what can only be interpreted as a blatant attack on the middle class, retirees, aboriginal people, the environment, food safety standards, and our autonomy from the United States. 
  4. Then, back on May 22, 2014, I felt compelled to share two decades worth of recollections about our Crime Mon(i)ster via The Quotable Harper. My goal with this entry was to show young people and Canadians with short-term memories that Harper is nothing more than a maple-syrup flavored Neo-Con corporate puppet like his Republican idols down south. And I proved this in simplest manner possible: by using Harper's own words against him.
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By rights I should have done a post about the downright-Orwellian Bill C-51 but by the time it sluiced through Parliament, ye olde ECD was winding down and I was getting kinda depressed by the apparent inevitability of it all. But now, with a new election hurtling towards us like a Mack truck with a giant Green Goblin Harper face mounted to the front, I can't stand idly by in good conscience while the Conservatives have even the slightest chance of forming a government in any capacity.

And, yes, I know everyone thinks that the Cons are on the ropes but frankly I'm not one to underestimate the inherent incompetency of our fucked-up political system or Harper's capacity to scare the shit out of people with his all-purpose boogeyman threat of "terrorism" or xenophobia.

So, here then are...

"???" Reasons to Vote STRATEGIC A.B.C. On October 19'th
(1) "Sorry, I Had No Idea How This Machine Works." He's exhibited nothing but sheer contempt for the traditions and institutions that define our own unique brand of democracy, whether it be the concept of federalism, allocating sufficient time to debate important issues or the rulings of the Supreme Court. 


(2) "Ignore Us Your Poor, Your Tired, You're Huddled Masses..." Maybe if the Conservatives didn't view so many asylum seekers as “bogus refugees” we might have been spared these horrifying images back on September 2'nd.

(3) "I Thought 'Blowback' Was Just A Ron Howard Movie About Firefighters." If you think that I approve of fluid borders and letting hordes of refugees into Canada, then you'd be wrong. I'm a firm proponent of getting your own house in order before inviting guests. In the same breath you can't expect to bomb and destabilize other nations for nine long years and not expect a refugee crisis. Where I come from if you make a mess then you're obliged to clean it up!

(4) "Peezekeeping Iz Fer Weenerz."  Remember when we used to help patch up the planet instead of fucking it up? Well, under Harper's war-hawkian watch, Canada has slipped dramatically in its role as the planet's most trusted peace-keeper.

(5) "Hey, The Military-Industrial Complex Ain't Gonna Feed Itself!" Speaking of tub-thumping for war, if Harper had been Prime Minister with a majority back in 2003 then it's pretty durned likely that we would have been complicit in the illegal invasion of Iraq.

(6) "Um, Yeah, The Election's Actually On The 20'th. Yeah, That's The Ticket!" In a move taken directly from the Neo-Con playbook, the Conservatives crammed Bill C-23, with its ironically titled "Fair Elections Act" through Parliament. This was designed to severely curtail the chief electoral officer's freedom to use “any media or other means” to give people the information they need to exercise their “democratic right to vote.” But Elections Canada is still fighting the good fight, using loopholes in the bill's verbiage to try and safeguard our most basic tenants of of democracy. 

(7) "Sure Voter Fraud Is Rampant. Why, There's An Entire...Handful Of Cases!" As if muzzling Elections Canada wasn't sleazy enough, Harper also instituted the sort of superfluous voter ID laws that the Republicans in the States have been salivating for. Despite the fact that there's been little to no voter fraud in the history of our nation, Harper weaseled this thing into existence for the express purpose of making it harder for students, seniors and native Canadians to vote in this election. Harper is relying on us to be unregistered or have insufficient ID so that our power to kick him in the cubes politically is diminished. So be vigilant, folks, and make sure that you've crossed all your "T's" and dotted all your "I's" before you go to the polls on October 19'th.

(8) "Sure, I Believe In The Freedom Of The Press. To Freedom For The Press To Go F#ck Themselves." In a healthy democracy, a free, muck-racking, independent press is the bleach used to kill the bacteria of corruption. Which is why Harper despises the media with the fire of a million suns.

(9) "LA! LA! LA! I Can't Hear You!" Since Harper's less-than-keen on journalists, why the hell would he bother to lift a finger for one who's currently being illegally detained in Egypt?

(10) "My Favorite Batman Hero Is Two-Face. Whattaya Mean Two-Face Isn't The Hero?" Since I'm old enough to remember the borderline fascist Reform / Alliance party that Harper used to belong to, it really doesn't surprise me that his gang of misfits have said some none-too-flattering things about indigenous people. In fact one of Harper's former speech-writers has recently gone on record to say that Harper's 2008 public apology to Indian residential school survivors was a “strategic attempt to kill the story” and "move on to a better relationship between Natives and Non-Natives". Stay classy, Harper.

(11) "It Isn't Really High On Our Radar." Good gravy, that's an actual real quote. Harper's epic-level ennui when it comes to over twelve-hundred missing aboriginal women is reason enough to shit-can this cold-blooded lizard who's doing such a poor job masquerading as one of us.

(12) "We Stand On Guard For...Oil." What makes me really angry is that Harper is already assuming that the environmental ruin that comes part and parcel with Chevron's Pacific Trails Pipeline, the TransCanada Coastal Gaslink and the Enbridge North Gateway is as inevitable as pumpkin spice lattes in October. As such, representatives from these companies keep barging onto Wet’suwet’en land, trying to survey it like an undertaker measuring a sick man for a coffin. Thankfully, the Unist'ot'en clan, led in part by Freda Huson, keep fighting a noble battle to prevent these ancient and unspoiled lands from being annihilated by a dirty, inefficient and antiquated industry. This video, which briefly documents their campaign, makes me weep with pride and sadness whenever I watch it.

(13) "Look On The Bright Side, Now That Alberta Is Mordor, Lord Of The Rings Tourism Is Way Up." Two words for you: TAR SANDS. Y'know, for a religious dude Harper doesn't seem to care too much about God's country.

(14) "God Money I'll Do Anything for You." Then again, there's no higher authority in Harper's world than corporate wealth. Just look at the ridiculous ends he's going through just to keep the tobacco industry on life support.

(15) Harper Isn't An Economist: Part 1. Harper still clings to the belief that "dropping our tax rate has not caused the government's corporate income tax revenues to fall, which indicates that it does in fact attract business." Unfortunately there's a pesky l'il thing called facts that doesn't jibe with this assertion.

(16) "I'm Not Fond Of Trees But I Really Love Eyesores."  Y'know something, these effin'  things alone alone should be enough to get us all enraged. The Conservatives slashed a bunch of good, door-to-door mail delivery jobs just so they could waste taxpayer money on these "super" mailboxes. How much you wanna bet that they'll all look like something out of Mad Max: Fury Road by the time spring rolls around next year? Ultimately this is yet another major middle finger to seniors who'll be forced to climb over McKinley-sized snowbanks this winter just to chisel their mail outta these things like ancient scrolls recovered from the gullet of glacier-imprisoned woolly mammoths.

(17) Harper Isn't An Economist: Part 2. You can expect Harper to flog this minor triumph like a rented mule over the next few weeks but what he wont talk about is how he plundered EI premiums, veteran's affairs, aboriginal resources and other social programs in order to do it. 

(18) "Elizabeth May? Where? Where...?!?" Even after serving as the ersatz leader of our great country for the past nine years, Harper still pees a little and tries to hide in the nearest closet every time someone mentions the name of the classy and intelligent leader of the Green Party.

(19) "I Have Decided To Remain Silent On The Grounds That It Will Incriminate Me." Look, it's bad enough that no less then four of your affiliated senators, namely Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Pamela Wallin are all being investigated for fraud and breach of trust. But to try and stymie the information commissioner's investigation by playing keep-away with important documents is particularly greasy. Hmmmm, I wonder if Harper's favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hero is Shredder? "Shredder"... geddit? 'Cuz he's "shredding" documents? *Ahem*.

(20) Conservatives Say The Darndest Things - Part One. As far as I can determine Harper's remaining devotees consist of the following people: (1) People who are laboring under the mistaken belief that Harper is still a Progressive Conservative and not an Alliance / Reform extremist with the serial numbers filed off. (2) Our own version of Fox News viewers (R.I.P. Sun News) who really do subscribe to his creepy goal to return us all to the 1950's. (3) Racist assholes who want any excuse publicly double down on this whole niqab crap. Sorry, spoiler alert...see #39 below. (4) Rich assholes looking for tax breaks. (5) Corporate Assholes looking for tax breaks.  Case in point, remember this clown? The reason this story resonated so much is because we've all debated Conservative Harper supporters in the past and they all sound like this jerk. As soon as you confront them with pesky facts they get belligerent, turtle and then take their ball and go home.

(21) "Sure I Believe In Freedom Of Speech. The Freedom Of Speakers To Go F#ck Themselves." Y'know, when Harper introduced strict protocols limiting what scientists can say to the press about their research I knew that this would likely be used to limit criticism of government interference. What I never expected in a million years is that a scientist would be suspended just for writing a simple protest song. "In Soviet Canada, song protest you!"

(22) "David Suzuki? Where? Where...?!?" If the venerable and respected broadcaster, activist, and scholar David Suzuki thinks that re-electing Harper once again would be "terrible for Canada" then we really need to prick up our ears.    

(23) "My Favorite R. Kelly Album is Trapped In The Closet."  Remember when that lone wingnut shot up parliament last October? More to my point do you remember how our illustrious leader reacted to this crisis? Quick refresher: he essentially did what a toddler would do when mommy and daddy start arguing with one another down in the kitchen.   

(24) "Sure I Believe In The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms. The Right and Freedom For You To Go F#ck Yourself." Edgar Schmidt, a high-profile lawyer working for the federal justice department decided to sue his employer over some incredibly dubious directives that are clearly designed to give the Conservatives more wiggle room to erode our beloved Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The justice department responded to Schmidt's lawsuit by putting him on an unpaid suspension for six months. Seriously does anyone even recognize our country anymore?

(25) "Civil Liberties? Folks, That's Not The Country We Live In." Sadly, that's a real quote, uttered by Calgary-Signal Hill Conservative candidate Ron Liepert during a debate back on the 20'th of September. It was in response to an audience member who understandably expressed trepidations about Bill C-51's assault on our civil liberties. Liepert claims that criminals "had too many damn rights" and police needed more powers to "pursue and prosecute when necessary". This, of course, is completely contrary to the fact that crime had steadily been dropping in Canada for the past twenty years. No, it's much more likely that Bill C-51 exists thanks to the handy, catch-all boogeyman of "terrorism", which, thanks to Harper, can mean just about anyone nowadays. Speaking of terror, isn't anyone else terrified by all of this?

(26) "Voter Fraud? Why That Only Happens In Places Like The Ukraine...And Maybe Guelph." Let me make this crystal-clear: the Conservatives cheated in the last election. That isn't debatable, that's a cold-hard fact. Back in the 80' and 90's, if a political party was found guilty of something this serious they'd be drummed out of office and would soon cease to exist. But thanks to an endless conveyor belt of Conservative scandals that have made citizens apathetic and resigned as well as Harper's draconian control of the media, these blatant misdeeds are just par for the course now. Little wonder ten thousand citizens signed an electronic petition asking representative from the U.N. to monitors this upcoming election; they're legitimately worried that it'll happen again.

(27) "Yours Is Not To Question Why..."  If you really think that Canadian troops were sent to Afghanistan to hunt down terrorists and bring stability to that war-torn part of the world, then I'm gonna hafta straighten that "sucker" sign on your back. This happened under Harper's watch, and it was one of the earliest examples of Canada turning from peacekeeper nation to aggressor nation. By the time we left in 2014 even right-leaning media outlets had a hard time justifying all of that taxpayer money spent and lives lost

(28) "...Yours Is But To Do And Die."  Y'know it's bad enough that our armed forces were put into harm's way unnecessarily or, at the very least, purely mercenary reasons, but to not support them when they come home is downright unforgivable.

(29) "Whattaya Mean That 'Half Of The Population Is Women-Folk'? Ruh-roh." Back in 2010 the Conservatives  de-funded no less than fourteen different women's support groups within a two-week time span. Wow, that's gotta be some kinda patriarchal record.     

(30) Even Stalin Had The Brains To Keep His "Enemies" List In His Head. I mean, what kind of childish, paranoid, simpleton actually lets his staff compile a list of "enemy lobbyists, bureaucrats and reporters" who actually have the temerity to oppose your insane and destructive agenda. At the very least I could have saved him a bunch of time and just written "EVERY ONE ELSE" on a piece of paper with a crayon and handed it back to him. What a maroon.

(31) "Hey, Look, We Love Muslims! Especially Muslims With Fat Bank Accounts."  Harper merrily orchestrated a $15-billion dollar deal to ship armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights violators on the planet. Funny how Harper's view of Muslims is predicated on how much money they can feed into our budding military industrial complex.

(32) "Hey, Where Did Everyone Go? Guys? Guys?" A lot of ministers fled the ranks of the Conservative Party leading up to the election. Samuel Getachew is just the latest and his insider testimony should terrify us all.

(33) "What, You Expect The Government To Fix That Bridge? Why, That's Socialism!"  Most of our country's infrastructure dates back to the 1960's and since it isn't being maintained or replaced fast enough people are getting hurt. Unfortunately the Conservatives dragged their heels on implementing an extension on the New Canada Building Fund just so they could post a rare budget surplus...just weeks before the election. Convenient. I sure hope nothing collapses between now and October 18'th.

(34) Graduating With A PHD...In DebtUnder the Conservatives, tuition rates across the country have skyrocketed. No surprise here since Harper's probably a big fan of the American "education for profit" model that's turning the university system into a major enterprise and keeping it well out of reach of the poor and the middle class.

(35) "I Believe The Children Are Our Future...So I Will Crush Them."  So you say you're pissed by the previous point about rising tuition costs? Well, good luck affecting any change on October 19'th. Thanks to Harper's draconian new voting laws, you probably won't even be allowed to vote since you just moved into residence recently. Ain't democracy fun?

(36) "Danny Williams?!?  Where? Where...?!?!"  Danny Williams is still remembered as one of the best Premiers Newfoundland has ever had. He's an example of a true statesman, someone who left the private sector and entered politics for just enough tome to effect real change and as soon as he was done he went right back to where he came from. He isn't a career politician, just a rare example of the now borderline extinct Progressive Conservatives that I would still proudly vote for. And, as a man of knowledge, integrity and perception, he despises Stephen Harper with the fire of a million suns

(37) "I'm Lookin' Out For Number One...The Number One Percent That Is." Ever since day one Harper's been trying to fast track the Trans Pacific Partnership, I.E. the largest trade deal in human history. Unfortunately the deal was reached just a few short days ago under a cloak of complete secrecy and fostered by a cabal of greedy bankers and corporate pinheads. Not only have the people of North America been ill-informed about the deal, they haven't been given a chance to weigh in on it at all. Many economists believe that the T.P.P. will give corporations, banks and Wall Street unlimited freedom to self-regulate, all at the expense of small, independent industries and, ultimately, the middle class.

(38) "Hey, Look Over There...Yoink!"   What's that, you say? You've independently researched the Trans Pacific Partnership deal and you think it'll be ruinous for Canada, particularly for dairy farmers and the auto industry? You say you don't want anything to do with it? Yeah, well, too bad, 'cuz it's already a done deal here in Canada. Since day one this deal's been fast-tracked in a sleazy manner that display's Harper's utter contempt for the people of Canada. He really does think that we work for him, instead of the other way around.

(39) "I Mean To Win...By Any Means Necessary." Just a short month ago, Harper's numbers were right in the dumper. People were pissed off by important issues such as Harper's woeful economic record, his cold-hearted stance on refugees and all of the rampant chicanery in the Senate. So, in order to reverse this downward spiral, he retained Lynton Crosby, AKA the "Aussie Rottweiler", a ruthless political opportunist that retrieved David Cameron's flagging campaign out of the dustbin in the recent UK election. Crosby's modus operendi is to make people forget about the issues they really care about and concentrate on winning hearts instead of brains via dog-whistle politics. So, when Harper took a hard-ball stance on a non-issue like the niqab his numbers shot through the roof. Pity this means that the real issues that effect every single Canadian have since fallen by the wayside.

(40) "Not My Fault...I Didn't Do It...You Can't Prove A Thing!!!" Despite the fact that the niqab debate was a blatantly transparent and desperate attempt to distract oblivious voters from the real issues, it's resulted in some pretty serious blow back. When our own Prime Minister engages in such openly divisive and racist fear-mongering he encourages others to act out in kind. Is this seriously the sort of Canada you want to leave to your kids and grand-kids? 

(41) "And By That I Mean Old White Canadians."  Sorry, Harper can back-pedal all he wants but it's not hard to tell what he meant by "old stock Canadians". By the way, you wanna know who the real "old stock Canadians" are, Mr. Harper? The Inuit and native population, that's who.

(42) "Snitch-ery Guarantees Citizenship."   Y'know, I really wish I was making this one up, but sadly I'm not. In another action that dove-tails with their racist and alarmist agenda, Harper and his cronies want to set up an anonymous tip line where you can rat on your fellow citizen about "barbaric cultural practices". Which, in my humble opinion puts a just a stones throw from this. I can't wait to use it to report on all the barbaric cultural practices that the Conservatives are indulged in.

(43) "What? Immigrants Have Plenty Of Good Uses! Like Driving Wages Down."  Y'know, for someone who isn't fond of immigrants, he sure does love the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Well, so long as it benefits his rich corporate buddies and not, say, Filipino nannies.

(44) "I'm Just Starving The Dog That Wants To Bite Me."   Harper's history with the CBC is a pretty adversarial one. As a completely independent Canadian voice funded entirely by taxpayers, the CBC has held politician's feet to the fire since it was established way back in 1936. But since Harper got into power, he's has cutting off funding to the venerable network more and more, knowing full-well that they'll never tow his line. His latest claim, that the CBC is foundering due to a flagging audience and not merciless budget cuts, was immediately and soundly rebuked by the network's current CEO.

(45) "Patrick Who?"  On September 15'th Patrick Brazeau plead guilty to assault and cocaine possession but wriggled free of a more serious sexual assault charge. This doesn't even cover Brazeau's 2014 conviction for impaired driving or submitting possibly-fraudulent living expenses for his Senate gig. How this guy is still living off the taxpayer dime is beyond me. I mean, just look at him. He's like Canada's answer to Tommy Wiseau...but at least 30% creepier.

(46) "Bruce Who?"  On July 27, 2012 one of Harper's former top advisors, Bruce Carson, was charged with influence peddling related to a proposed deal involving water purification systems for First Nations communities. What sounds like a humanitarian act on the surface quickly takes on a more sinister cast when you hear the allegation that twenty per cent of the revenue that would been generated from this sale would have been directly funneled to Carson's then-fiancee at the time, Michele McPherson. This isn't the first time Carson has been charged with wrongdoing; back in 1990 he plead guilty to three accounts of fraud. And even though Harper claims that he would have never hired Carson if he'd known about "more recent things", Carson himself maintains that his boss knew everything but hired him anyway.

(47) "Michael Who?"  Even though Michael Sona was the only Conservative thrown under the bus for the notorious robocall scandal, both the crown prosecutor and the defense both agreed that "evidence indicates he did not likely act alone". Makes sense, since Sona was just a snot-nosed, 22-year-old staffer at the time and not particularly capable of hatching such an elaborate scheme. The bottom line is, Harper created a climate in which election fraud became a viable option and he deserves to be roasted for it. 

(48) "Micheal, er...Mike Who?"   Honestly, we Canadians have been hearing about the Mike Duffy scandal for so long now that the whole thing has degenerated into a giant, nebulous morass of lies, counter-allegations and denials. Mercifully the good folks at Buzzfeed were kind enough to distill the whole sordid saga down to its essence, using a series of Game of Thrones-related gifs. Who says politics is boring?

(49) "Pamela Who?" As recently as last March, the RCMP have honed in on no less than one hundred and fifty Pamela Wallin expenses that require "additional investigation". According to the Mounties forensic accountant: "I believe that Senator Wallin breached the standard of responsibility and conduct demanded of her and by the nature of her office. I believe that Senator Wallin's conduct represent[s] a serious and marked departure from the standards expected of a Canadian senator." At first Harper claimed that "her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian traveling from that particular area of the country over that period of time" but lately he's distancing himself more and more from the embattled senator.

(50) "Dean Who?"  As bad as all of that is, the real capper comes in the form of Dean Del Mastro, disgraced Conservative MP and Harper's former mouthpiece. Back in June of this year, l'il Deaner was sentenced to a month in prison and four months of house arrest, for illegal overspending in the 2008 federal election. According to Justice Lisa Cameron the crimes were an "affront" to Canadian principals and the "antithesis" of our democracy. And what's Harper's reaction to that happening under his watch? Well, it's likely that we'll never know because of point # 51...

(51) "I Could Answer That But I Don't Wanna." Thanks to Harper's stranglehold on investigative reporting the only question he seems willing to answer is "Why are you so awesome?"

(52) "Rob And Doug Who? Oh, Yeah, Those Guys. They're Cool." Just a few days ago, Rob and Doug Ford were front row center at a Stephen Harper rally in Etobicoke. It certainly isn't the first time these guys have hung out together. Besides being rank idiots, why are these clowns so firmly entrenched in Harper's corner? Because, they're rich, entitled, morally-ambiguous assholes, who don't pay their fair share of taxes under Harper's watch. I just think it's funny that Harper, who's supposedly tough on crime, turns a blind eye to Rob Ford's chronic scum-baggery.

(53) Conservatives Say The Darndest Things - Part Two.  Yes, I keep harping on this (pun intended), but it bears repeating: Harper's Conservatives aren't Progressive Conservatives. As former Alliance / Reform goons, they're a lot closer to the Ayn Randian / Objectivist Neo-Con assholes who hijacked the U.S. Republican Party back in the '90's. And a major tenant for these folks is that taxes are bad because that takes money away from noble, hard-working, self-sacrificing martyrs like me and gives it away to lazy, freeloading takers. This guy, for example, would apparently have no qualms about supporting a candidate who's inordinately amorous towards quadrupedal, even-toed ungulate mammals, so long as said candidate doens't oblige us to support such wasteful things as Canada Pensions, E.I., and Medicare.  

(54) "Yeah, These Guys RAWK!!!'  I don't know what's lamer, the fact that Harper welcomed human / taint hybrid Chad Kroeger to 24 Sussex Drive or that Kroeger's boring McBand Nickelback actually flashed up a picture of Harper while playing "Photograph" during a concert. Jesus, that's the scariest image I've seen on stage since Iron Maiden's "No Player For The Dying" tour.

(55) Harper Isn't An Economist: Part 3.   Prior to the rare and impeccably-timed surplus that was announced during this protracted political season (see # 17), the HarperCons orchestrated no less than six straight deficits between 2008-09 and 2013-14.

(56) "Taking Care Of Veterans? Why, That's Socialism!"  Now, I've already attacked Harper for needlessly sending our troops into harm's way in Afghanistan and documented one-man's terrible experience upon returning from that illegal war (see # 27 and 28), but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Veterans are so collectively pissed off by Harper's wanton neglect that they formed a powerful political force with a fact-based website and some pretty powerful videos.

Seriously, is anyone out there still voting for Harper? 'Cuz, to paraphrase Shepherd Derrial Book from Firefly: "Politicians who de-fund veterans are going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater."  

(57) Bribery Will Get You No-Where.  This time last year, Harper introduced a "family tax cut / income splitting scheme", claiming that it would give couples with children under the age of eighteen a credit of up to $2,000 bucks. Well, there's one slight problem with this: it needlessly complicates the tax process, restricts what "kind" of family gets a break and only really benefits people who really don't need it. Mercifully a lot of people saw right through this transparent payola and aren't letting Harper off the hook for a zillion other transgressions.  

(58) "Fear Controls The Fearful." Oakville Conservative MP Terence Young recently took a cue from Harper's playbook of paranoia, telling a group of stunned town hall debate onlookers that the Liberals, once elected, will turn their once-idyllic neighborhoods into dens of iniquity. Hey, if you can't win based on your past record or your future platform, why not just slag off the other guys in a desperate attempt to snag the "oblivious moron" vote. Wait, does this mean that Rob Ford's gonna start wearing a Liberal pin if Justin Trudeau wins?

(59) "Universal Health Care Doesn't Work! I've Made Sure Of That."  In order to give himself a a rare budgetary surplus to brag about during this election season, Harper cut thirty-six billion dollars out of our health care system. Not too surprising since the guy would love to see the whole thing privatized for a buck.

(60) "I Have A Dream: That Hordes Of Wild Turkeys Will One Day Roam Our Land!"  Back in the first week of September, Stephen Harper announced that he'll earmark $5 million large a year to preserve the wild game population starting in 2017. Honestly, this isn't a bad measure, but it would be a whole helluva lot better if it wasn't designed just to give future generations of penis-deprived hunters something to shoot in the beak. Let's face it, announcements like this hardly qualify as inspiring and ambitious campaign promises. As Rick Mercer so eloquently stated recently, where's the vision? Harper's had nine years at the helm of our country and he's done little to nothing to improve it.  

(61) We Used To Be One Of The Good Ones.  Ever since Harper began his despotic reign, our country has seriously slipped in the eyes of the international community. Even more so since this greasy election kicked things into "crazy old racist Uncle Larry" territory.

(62) Big Brother Is Watching You. And So Is Big Sister, Big Cousin, Big Aunt, Big Uncle and One-Hundred And Eighty-Four (!) Other Big People.   When Cindy Blackstock, an activist and professor, took the Conservatives to court over neglected First Nations children, no less than one-hundred and eighty-nine separate government staffers were tasked to spy on her and shadow her every move. Their efforts were so invasive that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled against the Canadian government and ordered them to pay Cindy $20,000.00 in restitution. Hmmmm, someone should get Mr. "I Vote For Sheep Fuckers" on the line and see what he thinks about that one?

(63) "If You're Not With Us...Then You're With The Terrorists."  Harper experienced some pesky blow-back when hundreds of people were illegally rounded up and detained during the G-20 summit in Toronto back in June of 2010.  Good thing then that Bill C-51 got crammed through Parliament, which gives Harper the ability to cast any protester as a "terrorist" and make the whole process of stripping your rights away a breeze!       

(64) Harper Isn't An Economist: Part 4.  When Harper took office back in 2006 Canada's unemployment rate was 6.3 per cent. This now stands at 7.1 per cent, putting Canada in fifth place among the G7 nations.

(65) Conservatives Say The Darndest Things - Part Three.  Sure, anything can be abused, but without unions our kids would still be toiling away in sweat shops making designer handbags for lose bits of string and dead budgerigars. Despite doing far more good then harm, Conservatives like Walter Pamic absolutely despise unions, probably because they divert a tiny modicum of the profits to workers instead of their super-rich CEO's and share-holders.   

(66) "Voter Suppression? Why That Only Happens In Places Like North Carolina...And Maybe Vancouver."  As predicted, Harper's "Fair" Elections Act reforms are doing just the opposite. All of these superfluous and restrictive voter ID requirements resulted in massive line-ups at many of the advanced polls. At an election office on West Hastings in Vancouver voters queued up for hours to exercise their democratic right. Even though they had until 6 pm to cast their ballot the office inexplicably closed an hour earlier, sending a dozen people packing. Sadly, this isn't the only story I've heard like this.

(67) "NERRRRRRRRRRRRD!!!"  Restricted by how much they can travel, starved for funding, and weary of being muzzled by the Harper government, Canadian scientists like Steve Campana fled for greener pastures abroad. This, of course, is all due to Harper's systemic persecution of scientists which pundits predict will have a dreadful impact on our nation in the long run.

(68) "I'm Tough On Crime! Well, Not Right Now...But As soon As I'm Re-Elected I'm Totally Gonna Be Tough On Crime!"  Harper was so desperate to get a budgetary surplus to wave in our faces that he actually de-funded his own crime prevention program to the tune of $28 million dollars. I wish McGruff would take a bite outta his lame ass.

(69) Conservatives Say The Darndest Things - Part Four.  Even though Harper is solely to blame for gutting our mail services, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant recently took out an ad in her local paper telling voters that the "only" way to save Canada Post is to re-elect her. Ironic, considering that, along with the rest of Harper's pack of flying monkeys, she helped defeat an NDP motion to retain door-to-door deliveries. And here's the capper: the union for Canada Post is pondering legal action against her for misappropriating their logo. What a maroon.

(70) "I Dunno, I Thought Reefer Madness Made Some Pretty Solid Points." Harper has arbitrarily declared that marijuana is "infinitely worse" then tobacco.  Pity that there are these pesky little things called facts that get in the way of that claim. Is that why Harper hates scientists so much? Is it because of all their sass n' back-talk n' indisputable, quantifiable data n' such.

(71) Prisons For Profit. Just like every other human endeavor, Steve believes that our prison system should be a source of free enterprise. Look, I have nothing against capitalism, but I have a huge beef with corporatism. As soon as certain enterprises are turned over for private gain, greed, cronyism and abuse will invariably start creeping into the mix. Hmmm, I wonder is Harper's militant stance against marijuana has something to do with filling super-prisons up with nominal occupants?

(72) "Sure I'm Fiscally Conservative. Well, On My Dime I Am."  Just a few short days ago, the National Observer completed an audit on public expenses claimed between 2013 and 2015 and found out that Conservative MPs spent a helluva lot more on travel then their political counterparts 

(73) "We're Cutting Back On Entitlements For Lazy Bums!"  While Harper merrily continues to gut Employment Insurance premiums...

(74) "But Not Rich Lazy Bums!"  ...he also keeps doling out generous gobs of corporate welfare both federally and provincially!

(75) Fair Weather Fiends.  When the campaign first started and people were talking about important stuff like the economy and the environment, the Conservatives polling numbers went right in the tank. Desperate to turn things around, Harper retained political hit-man Lynton Crosby who advised him to whip up emotional and "patriotic" fervor by bringing up the whole niqab issue. Thankfully the lion's share of sane Canadians recognized this tactic for what it was: divisive, dog-whistle politics that had no bearing on reality. And when the resulting blow-back put Harper back on the ropes again, Crosby abandoned Harper just days before the election, bringing to mind a rat deserting a sinking ship.  

(76) Fiddling While The World Burns.  Back in April of 2013 Harper's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said "I think that people aren’t as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees” and that “scientists have recently told us that our fears (on climate change) are exaggerated.” Unfortunately Oliver didn't specify what scientists he was talking about. Was it these scientists? Nope. How about these guys? Uh, nope. How about the...ah, fuck it.

(77) Harper Isn't An Economist: Part 5.  With fuel prices soaring back around 2008, Harper doubled down on Canada's dirty, archaic and inefficient oil and gas industry. Unfortunately when our good ol' buddies the Saudi's decided to flood the market with cheap oil it caused prices to tank. Now our petroleum industry is hemmoraging profits and leading us straight into another recession.

(78) "Remember, Hair Should Protect The Head." Did you know that Stephen Harper was the first Prime Minister in Canadian history to retain a full-time stylist (and psychic!) on the public's dime for years? As far as I can determine, Michelle Muntean's retainer fee has never been disclosed, but disguising a reptile like Harper as something vaguely approximating a human being can't come cheap. Psychic transmission to Michelle: you may want to keep working on that ornamental, Lego-esque skull cap that he's still wearing. It's about as realistic the rigor mortis grimace that he vainly tries to pass off as a "smile".

(79) "What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You."  Under Harper's watch, Canada is no longer in the top fifty nations for global freedom of information and our current protocols "fail to meet global standards". Jaysus.

(80) "But What I Do Will Hurt You. So, It's Kind Of A Trade Off."  Even more troubling, Canada fell out of top 10 in UN’s human development index back in 2013.

(81) "Spending Money On Social Programs? Socialism! Spending Over A Billion Dollars On A Spy Palace? Absolutely Badass."  While tub-thumping for claw-backs on social programs, Herr Harper earmarked $1.2 billion dollars for a new lair for C.S.E.C., I.E. our very own maple-syrup-flavored equivalent to the NSA. Fun fact: Canadian taxpayers have never paid this much money for a government building ever before, especially one with such a heinous raison d'être.

(82) More Like 'The War On Frugality'.  Think that spending a billion dollars on a facility designed to spy on Canadians is bad? Well, how about misplacing $3.1 billion dollars during our laughably aggrandized "war on terror" and having no clue how to account for it?

(83) "I'm In Yer Innerwebz, Creepin' Yer Profyle."  Government agencies tapped Canadian telecommunications companies nearly 800,000 times in one year for private information on their customers. And get this, instead of going through the once-legal means of obtaining warrants to do this, the RCMP just paid companies like Telus and Bell $1.6 million dollars to buy this data wholesale. Seriously, why every citizen in Canada isn't completely up in arms over this alone is beyond my comprehension.

(84) "Julian Fantin-Who?" Harper hand-picked Julian Fantino as Minister of Veterans Affairs in July 2013 but was demoted him just a few months ago over his callous handling of complaints from a myriad of disenfranchised veterans. Hey, Julian, this might be a good time for you to re-read the Joss Whedon-penned quote back at # 56.

(85) "Canada! For Sale! Cheap! EVERYTHING MUST GO!" Part I  Formed in 1935 to safeguard the prices our farmers get for their crops, Stephen Harper allowed the Canadian Wheat Board to be pawned off to a U.S. conglomerate and an investment group based in, you guessed it, Saudi Arabia.

(86) Remember, His Official Title Is Prime Minister Cheaty McGillicuddy.  Thanks to this latest sign-destroying scandal featuring Bal Gosal, the Conservatives are now looking at their fourth consecutive criminal investigation related to an election. Man, and you though that José Bautista's  batting average was good.

(87) "Canada! For Sale! Cheap! EVERYTHING MUST GO!" Part Two  Back in December 2012, Harper signed off on a $15 billion dollars deal which saw the domestic energy company Nexen sold off to China National Offshore Oil Corporation. I wonder if Harper did this because he knew that our oil and gas industry was going to start swirling down the commode soon?

(88) "Why Are We So Awesome? Well, It's 'Cuz That Sign We Bought Over There With Your Money Says So..."  Since he first took tower in 2006, Harper has spent $750 million dollars on self-promotional ad campaigns like the "methinks thou dost protest too much" Economic Action Plan billboards, buses and signs. 

(89) "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Pretty Much Sums Up My Opinion On Gay Marriage As Well." Even though Canada as a whole is refreshingly open-minded when it comes to such things, that certainly doesn't reflect the opinions closely held by our illustrious Prime Minister. Notwithstanding this little chestnut, Harper has always been pretty right-lipped on the subject of gay marriage over the past nine years. But given an insulating crowd of supported bigots, his true colors do shine through occasionally. And whattaya know, they're completely intolerant and close minded. Oh, and if you read this and actually share his opinions then you're just as deluded as he is.   

(90) "The Medium Is The Message. And the Message Is 'Fuck Impartiality'". Don't think that corporate-controlled media is a problem? Then just check out these hideously-biased front pages of these Postmedia-owned newspapers.

(91) "'Contempt? I Gotcher 'Contempt' Heatin' up Right Hur." Harper's Conservatives are the only political party ever to be found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to disclose information about various clandestine expenses. These charges were so serious that it kicked off the 2011 election, which inexplicably resulted in a Harper majority.

(92) "Admit It, Shooting A Fish In The Face Isn't Nearly As Rewarding."   A recent analysis of Harper's alterations to environmental protections led University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski to declare that the government has "all but abandoned" efforts to protect Canada's lakes and rivers.

(93) "It's Just A Thing We Do Now." As much as I want this to be unwarranted, over-dramatized hype, stories like this give me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. When confronted with damning evidence about the mistreatment of Afghan detainees back in 2009, Steve-O just resorted to shouting  "LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" over and over again until the whole thing blew over. Unfortunately, ever since Harper got Canada deeply involved in places like Afghanistan, Libya and other hot-spots in the Middle East, terrorist organization are now calling us out like never before.

(94) "Whattaya Mean 'Proroguing' Isn't A Polish Dumpling?"  Back in 2008 the NDP, Liberals and and the Bloc Québécois (!) formed a loose coalition to try and topple Harper's minority government. Unfortunately Harper's familiarity with the dark arts revealed a little-known and rarely-evoked parliamentary procedure called "proroguing" which, politically speaking, allowed him to take his ball and go home. The gambit worked perfectly. Michaëlle Jean, the Governor General at the time, folded faster then Superman on laundry day, dissolved Parliament and Harper enjoyed a two-month vacation, returning to power no worse for wear. In fact, this maneuver worked so well that he pulled the same stunt again a year later when questions about Afghan detainees made the kitchen a tad too hot again.

(95) ISRAEL GOOD....PALESTINE BAD.  Not only is former Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird a bit of a jackass, he was downright obtuse when it came to complicated international affairs such as the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Even though Canadians are split right down the middle about this issue, under Harper, Canada has sided with Israel every single time, going so far as to actively vote against the Palestinians' campaign to become a non-member state and publicly opposing their bid to join the International Criminal Court. This partisan declaration got Baird's motorcade justifiably pelted with eggs and shoes when he last visited the region back in January of this year. He resigned not long after, the main motivation for which still remains hotly debated.

(96)  Failing Upwards. Back in 2010, senior cabinet minister Tony Clement used the G8 meetings as an excuse to divert $50-million dollars worth of improvements to his home riding in Muskoka with absolutely no paper trail or oversight. There was one slight hitch with this brilliant plan: Muskoka was no-where even remotely close to the summit site. In spite of this, the region was blessed with new parks, sidewalks and, of course, a bitchin' little gazebo. Now, in most normal working environments, someone like Clement this would be taken out back to the wood pile and summarily dispatched and his boss would face some pretty stern question. But no, not with the Conservatives! Quite the opposite: Clement was promoted to President of the Treasury Board, I.E. the department which is supposed to keep tabs on government spending. Wow, irony alert!

(97) "QUICK! GET TO DE ENTITLEMENT CHOPPAH!!!"  Harper's former Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay has always been a pompous, dandified idiot, but in 2010 the big diva demanded that a Cormorant search and rescue helicopter airlift him away from a private fishing trip in Gander Newfoundland, all to the taxpayer tune of $16,000 large.

(98) "It Is My Humble Opinion, Mister Speaker, That The Honorable Supreme Court Chief Justice Is A Big Meanie Face."  Just over a year ago, Harper had a public meltdown when his less-then-qualified Supreme Court pick Marc Nadon was lobbed right back at him by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Unaccustomed to not getting his own way, Harper called her ruling “inadvisable and inappropriate”, a move which made him look like Anakin in Attack of the Clones.

(99) A Little Bit Of The Ol' In-Out, In-Out...To The Taxpayers Of CanadaAfter the Conservatives came to power in 2006, Elections Canada noticed a few...anomalies in the campaign financing receipts. They saw that inordinately large amounts of cash were transferred from the federal Conservative party to their individual ridings to cover volunteer expenses which was then donated right back to the party! In the end, Harper was forced to admit their culpability and re-pay $230,198 to Canadian taxpayers. Which, unfortunately, is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $2.3 million bucks spent trying to get the Conservatives to admit their guilt in the first place.

(100) He's Clearly Thinks That The Canadian People Are All Idiots.  Seriously, the fact that Harper is still ensconced in power with all of this damning evidence piled up against him; he must be sitting back and laughing his ass off at us.

(101)  Hmmmmm...

...y'know something, this is waaaaay too easy. I could just as easily post a slew of these all by myself but where would be the the fun in that?

Tell you what, why don't you guys post your favorite reasons as to why you wanna "Heave Steve" on October 19'th?  Provide you reason plus a supporting link in the comments below and I'll add it to the list.

I'll probably about one-hundred of these myself but if you guys wanna help, let's see how many we can get!  


***

Epilogue 

One thing I'll say about Stephen Harper: he's a master at electioneering, which isn't a compliment, BTW. He knows that there are three left-leaning parties opposed to him and he's counting on us to split the vote again.

And, honestly, I think that's a safe bet on Harper's part. Right now only Elizabeth May of the Green Party and Thomas Mulcair of the NDP are humble and sharp enough to be open to the prospects of a desperately-needed coalition. Unfortunately, unless Justin Trudeau gets over his hubris and ego it'll be all for naught.

Which brings me to my main point: we can't just vote Anything But Conservative, we have to vote strategically. Fortunately there are plenty of online resources to help us with this this. One of my favorites is "Vote Together" who wisely maintain:

In 2011, a majority of people voted for a change in government, but our broken voting system gave the Harper Conservatives 100% of the power with just 39% of the vote. This time, if we vote together, we can stop the riding-by-riding vote splitting that lets Harper win.

61,883 people have pledged to select and support the best local candidates to defeat the Harper Conservatives and move Canada forward.

We're focused on the Conservative swing ridings where a few thousand votes could be all that decides whether or not Harper is Prime Minister again. No matter where you live, we’ll give you the tools you need to make a difference on October 19.

Sure, we might not be voting for our ideal candidates, but if we can just dustbin Harper to the annals of history and shift our country towards a more sane and sound political middle ground that actually represents our national beliefs, we can then can vote with our hearts the next time out.

But right now it's all about taking our country back from a government that's run by corporate interests and not by us. But sadly, if I had to wager on how things were gonna look on October 20'th I'd bet on a "Conservative Minority".

And I, for one, can't think of a more terrifying pre-Halloween horror story.

EPIC AnyoneButHarper.net is another great resource to kicking the Conservative to the curb this election season.

FAIL  "By his own standards, Stephen Harper is a colossal FAIL-ure."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Long And Prosperous Career

Image source.

Live Long and Prosper, Fellow Trekkers!   

On February 27, 2015 celebrated actor, writer, director and photographer Leonard Nimoy succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease brought on by a lifetime of smoking. Nimoy had come forward with this diagnosis only about a year ago, via a series of Tweets:


As Spock himself might say: "The practice of voluntarily inhaling carcinogenic smoke for pleasure is highly illogical."

Now, I've already talked about the photon-torpedo-style impact that the original Star Trek had on my childhood and my imagination. Episodes such as "The Corbomite Maneuver" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" scared the ever-lovin' bejesus outta me, "Arena", "Balance of Terror" and "The Doomsday Machine" thrilled me and "The City on the Edge of Forever" caused my brain to explode and leak out of my left ear.

Notwithstanding the hideously-dated, (not-so) special-effects, swingin' 60's aesthetic and cringe-worthy lapses into sexism, Star Trek was still light years ahead of its time. At the heart of the show's appeal was the trifecta relationship between the fiery Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), walking gonad / Horatio Hornblower-wannabe Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and, of course, the emotionless Vulcan science officer Spock, played to unparalleled perfection by Nimoy.

Sci-fi fans owe Leonard a boundless debt of gratitude since he personally innovated several famous Vulcan customs. For example, Spock's famous hand sign greeting can be directly attributed to the actor's Jewish heritage:


As a socially-awkward only child growing up in self-imposed isolation, I really identified with Spock. He was sharp, guarded, outwardly self-assured but visibly different and because of this he was often the subject of undermining ridicule, disproportionate criticism and blatant hostility. Perhaps the most telling thing about Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future is that, in spite of all of our progress in science, technology, medicine and interstellar travel, human beings will still fall prey to xenophobia from time to time. Contrary to what the average Republican believes, prejudice is something that our primitive reptilian brains will always be forced to contend with.

Typically Spock dealt with this human flaw with characteristic aplomb: usually with a raised eyebrow and a dismissive shot at the barbarity of Earth history. This often left Doctor McCoy apoplectic with rage and inadvertently becoming Exhibit "A" in Spock's case against the dangers of unchecked human emotions. Checkmate, Doctor.   

Here Spock and McCoy debate the ethical ramifications of the life-creating Genesis torpedo from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

McCoy: Dear Lord. You think we're intelligent enough to... suppose... what if this thing were used where life already exists?
Spock: It would destroy such life in favor of its new matrix.
McCoy: Its "new matrix"? Do you have any idea what you're saying?
Spock: I was not attempting to evaluate its moral implications, Doctor. As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.
McCoy: Not anymore; now we can do both at the same time! According to myth, the Earth was created in six days. Now, watch out! Here comes Genesis! We'll do it for you in six minutes!
Spock: Really, Dr. McCoy. You must learn to govern your passions; they will be your undoing. Logic suggests...
McCoy: Logic? My God, the man's talking about logic; we're talking about universal Armageddon! You green-blooded, inhuman...

As a viewer I always got the impression that the constant barrage of Romulan-water-torture-style cheap shots and subtle verbal bullying heaped upon Spock over the years were building up to some sort of breaking point. On those rare occasions when Spock did snap, it usually involved some powerful exterior influence, whether it be a chronic case of Vulcan case of blue balls, as in "Amok Time":


Or an emotion-twisting space virus like in "The Naked Time":


Or some mind-bending plant spores, as evidenced in "This Side of Paradise":


It's probably super-naive to say this, but I wonder if things would have turned out differently if the Columbine kids were Trekkies instead of fans of Natural Born Killers. Although I'd never blame music, books or movies for societal ills, Spock's penchant for taking the higher ground is pretty admirable when compared to the nihilistic actions of Mickey and Mallory.

More evidence that the original Trek was way ahead of its time: the show became a massive hit in syndication years after it was prematurely cancelled. When it became a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, the stars of the show were instantly catapulted into dizzying levels of fame. So closely associated were they with these iconic, larger-than-life characters, that many of them struggled with typecasting. And since no one was more iconic than Spock, Nimoy faced particular challenges.

After putting out a methinks-thou-dost-protest-too-much autobiography titled I Am Not Spock, rumors began to swirl that Nimoy refused to appear in Star Trek II unless his Vulcan alter-ego was killed off. Even though there's barely any pre-internet evidence to support this, it didn't prevent hordes of unbalanced Trekkies from sending death threats to the actor. Wow, talk about ungoverned passions!

In spite of this distasteful experience, Nimoy seemed to warm up to Spock not long after. This may have, in part, been due to the widespread success of The Wrath of Khan as well as the opportunity to direct two of the franchise's most successful sequels: The Search for Spock in 1984 and The Voyage Home in 1986. Whatever the reason, Nimoy seemed content with his legacy, publishing the apologetic-sounding I Am Spock follow-up bio as an olive branch to fans in 1995.

Via this one humble little blog entry I hope to convey just how versatile and well-rounded Leonard was. In addition to directing movies with the words "Star" and "Trek" in the title, he also gave us this seminal 80's comedy hit:


Nimoy also hosted one of the earliest and most intriguing "mysteries of the universe"-type shows: In Search Of...


Although we're in the midst of a promising wave of body acceptance awareness, the subject wasn't quite as sexy back in 2007. Leonard was on the vanguard of this movement with the Full Body Project, a series of photographs which tried to present some more realistic examples of proud female beauty.

Even though I feel ridiculous saying this, the following link is decidedly not suitable for work:


Leonard got his start in live theater and by all accounts his performances as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Sherlock Holmes garnered considerable acclaim. In 1981, he starred in Vincent, a one-man show based on the life of artist Vincent van Gogh.


Then there's his subtle-but-memorable turn as a cold-fish, Dr. Phil-type pop psychologist in Philip Kaufman's chilling remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978):


And who could possible forget his self-depreciating vocal performance in the "Marge vs. The Monorail" episode of The Simpsons?:


Leonard is gone now and I can't help but feel that a chunk of reality or a piece of the universe is missing. I'll always be grateful to him for making me feel considerably more fortified as a kid and I think that everyone else should miss him for all of the innovative things he did for pop culture and the rest of his fellow human beings.

EPIC FEELS   Damn, it's times like this when I wish that the Vulcan ritual of kolinahr was a real thing.


EPIC HUMAN #1   I dare you to get through this without blubbering like a space virus-infected Vulcan.


EPIC HUMAN #2   Leonard was a pay equity champion long before...well, long before women were forced to bring this insane issue up again just recently. 

EPIC TUNE  In addition to all of his other accomplishments, Nimoy was a pretty rad singer / songwriter. Check out this half-groovy, all-nerdy, 100% pimp geek anthem:


P.S. I don't know what the deal is with Leonard and memorable hand gestures but my friends and I have officially re-dubbed the gang sign that he throws up @ 1:16 as THE NIMOY. We still use it routinely in casual conversation. Yeah, that's right, we're cool.

EPIC MINI DOC  Leonard Nimoy's Boston. As Spock himself might say: "Fascinating."



SEMI-EPIC MEME   Just to address the obvious question on your mind, Gentle Reader:


THE I AM NOT SPOCK COSTUME FAIL  Seriously, this is what I was wearing when I left the house last Halloween. Needless to way, I'm w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y too round-headed to pull off the inherent dignity of Spock. I look more like Denise Crosby as Sela, fer f#ck sakes.   


THE I AM DEFINITELY NOT SPOCK FAIL  Dear J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof: if the S.I.N.O. (Spock In Name Only) who appears in your remake / reboot / re-imagining / spiritual travesty is trying to solve problems by REPEATEDLY PUNCHING PEOPLE OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN THE FACE then you really don't have single clue about this character. IMHO, this one scene alone is resignation-worthy. Hang your heads in shame, you attention-deficit-disorder clowns!