June 2012


There are always certain topics of debate that people with similar interests can find themselves having. From sports to music to politics, there is generally always room for opinion and debate — sometimes even too much room. As a music lover, specifically I guess under the “rock and roll” genre (which we could debate about too) there is one question I am trying to pin point an answer for. No it isn’t which version of Hurt is better, Johnny Cash’s or Nine Inch Nails’, although I still debate the question often, but rather one even more broad — what are the top 10 timeless rock tunes? When I say timeless I mean songs pretty well everyone in the room would know if it were to be played in a social setting, songs a majority of people can agree one. However, just because everyone knows the song doesn’t mean the song is good  or to be auto considered for the top 10, so we must also include a level of greatness in regards to the musical talent within the songs.

The following are my top 10 timeless rock tune picks, in random order —

1. Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”
This was a toss up between “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” — both such gems, but which one is superior to the other? I chose “Wish You Were Here” partially because I think more people would know it, and partially for the classic “we’re just two lost souls living in a fish bowl, year after year…” lyric. This does not disregard the brilliance of “Comfortably Numb”.

2. The Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby”
This one may be a bit bias, okay they all may be, but I particularly love this Beatles song. I realize The Beatles have a multitude of music, and I am an avid lover of them, but there is just something about the melody and quickness of this song in combination with the lyrics that gets me every time. Also, who doesn’t love some violin? “Eleanor Rigby” is a 2 minute bit of perfection, in my mind.

3.The Ramones – “Blitzkrieg Bop”
I know a few people who actually tell me they don’t enjoy The Ramones, however, this song is brilliant (I already used that word to describe something already but it really is brilliant). I tend to have a thing for songs that reference historical events and/or monumental things, thus, how can I not love a song titled after a German tactic from World War II?

4. The Strokes – “Last Nite”
I flipping love this tune! Anytime this song comes on the radio or in the bar I feel happy. It may be that I associate it with good memories but I really do think this song is timeless. Anyone who is cool would know it and sing along with me! Tis one of a kind.

5. Neil  Young – “Rockin’ in the Free World”
Another artist who makes it difficult to chose a best song from — also Canadian! This was a toss up between my final selection and “Heart of Gold”. I feel like more people definitely know “Rockin’ in the Free World” and it just feels good to belt out and dance around too. What person hasn’t gone through a phase of far left peace loving empowered by “Rockin’ in the Free World” and like songs?

6. Led Zeppelin – “Black Dog”
Gotta love Led Zeppelin and their never ending songs. Strangely this song is unusually shorter than many of their other masterpieces. Another toss up between this pick and “Dazed and Confused” or “Stairway to Heaven”. I don’t know what to say about this song and why I picked it, other than saying it is awesome, and pumps any person in their right mind up! Oh, snap I sound like such a loser, but we’re all friends so let’s sound like losers together and “Ahhhh ahhh ahhh ahhh” together. “Stairway to Heaven” is such a long song, I often wonder if people ever listen to it completely through.

7. Nirvana – “In Bloom”
I am a huge fan of the early 90s grunge, so I had to include some of that goodness. Although I am slightly obsessed with Pearl Jam, I do think Nirvana is more timeless in certain aspects — don’t hate me Eddie. I am sure you may tire of my telling you about the dilemmas I had choosing, but again, Nirvana has so many gooders — “Polly”, “Rape Me”, “Come As You Are”, “Heart Shaped Box” and the list goes on. “In Bloom” however is that classic one, suitably agnsty and catchy enough that people love it. Again, I am sure many of you have been caught singing this out loud at one point or another in your life, if not — you will!

8. The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
Jack white is pretty damn awesome, one of his many projects needed to make my list. I pick “Seven Nation Army” because that infectious drum beat with the guitar paired in is pretty unmistakable. The song is no doubt a classic, although newer than a lot of the aforementioned, it won’t be dying anytime soon.

9. The Rolling Stones – “Paint it Black”
Hell yes I love this one too, go figure?! This is an epic song, the fact that my boss can strum it on his guitar quietly in our office one day and suddenly have everyone around singing along says something. I bet you sing this song in your head when you seen red doors, don’t deny it!

10. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Simply because this song is so dynamic. Additionally, it’s fun to sing or watch other people sing. Power to all the Freddies out there!!

Songs such as Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing” got automatically disqualified from selection due to the fact that I am actually tired of hearing it. I’m sure Journey doesn’t mind the popularity of their hit since Glee killed it into the brains of youth everywhere, but I do. Furthermore, it was quite difficult for me not to include Blue Oyster Cult, because I love me some cow bell, but I am not convinced everyone else does enough to argue it as timeless.

Here it is, the long awaited second excerpt from the pseudo-memoire I have been working on for what seems like an eternity. By presenting it like that, I sound like I actually have a following or a fan club but I am pretty sure that’s not exactly the case. Needless to say, here it is —

It was my second date with Distracted and for some reason I didn’t feel as excited to be hanging out with him as I remember myself being the first time. To be honest, he didn’t even look as physically attractive to me tonight as he did on the first date.  These feelings, or lack thereof, I believe were definitely result of his overwhelming stench of desperation for attention, yet disinterest in making any kind of effort. His “I’m bored” text messages every other night for the past week and a half were getting irritating. What grew to be more irritating was the fact that he never suggested we hang out anytime he sent one. It appears as though he figured bitching to me about having nothing to do was a good enough alternative. In my view however, this isn’t exactly the best way to get someone to hang out with you, or me to at least. Last time I checked when you were interested in hanging out with someone, and you have confirmed that the person you want to hang out with is also available you generally use that window of opportunity to ask if they would like to hang out with you. Maybe I am the only one who sees the logic in this, but I am pretty confident I am not alone. I can only begin to imagine how much fun initiating sex with him could be.

I may sound like a giant asshole when I say that because there could be several reasons someone would be reluctant to ask someone else out, simply due to things like fear of rejection or past mishaps. I, for one, can relate. I suck when it comes to making myself fully available to someone else because I’ve been burned but I acknowledge it and try to keep myself in check. Regardless, I have a theory that, as a man, you should exude some kind of manliness within the first couple of dates anyway, and being whiney about boredom, of all things, without having the balls to simply say “Hey let’s hang out”  if that is what you are interested in doing, isn’t exactly hot. As part of this theory, I also think that men are more aware of whether or not they are interested in continuing to pursue someone because women are the type who will, more often than not, always agree to a second date. My theories could very well be part of why I am still single, but I like to think of it as a fool proof system for weeding out the men who aren’t serious enough about dating me, and I am just not convinced giving  the man the responsibility to ask for a second date is too much to ask. I also pretty well lay out my theory to all the men I go on dates with so they know what I expect,  if anything it opens a good forum for debate. If that level of assertion from me is intimidating to them then I have an issue imagining us having any type of future together anyway.

Needless to say, there we were, finally on a second date, sitting at the pub having a blasé conversation about our days while he mulled over the menu. His lack of decisiveness while sitting there just trying to choose something off the menu began to irritate me too; I began wondering if this man could make any decisions in an efficient manner.  To make matters worse, while we sat there on this second date all he could seem to pay attention to was providing commentary to the various sporting events on the televisions surrounding us. I understand men enjoy sports, heck I don’t mind watching them either, but I don’t think I am alone when I say it is pretty bad practice to pay attention to everything except your date. A few dates down the road, or one day when we are hanging out on the couch at home, feel free to make all the sports commentary you like. Second date rule of thumb, I would say maybe make more effort to have conversation and get to know your date better. To make matters worse, he even went as far as pointing out a girl standing at the bar and commented on how manly her body looked – at least he didn’t tell me how hot she was right?

As a public servant I have taken to paying far more attention to what is going on in government, which is likely a good thing. Most recently, with the submission of Bill C-38 to parliament, my colleagues and I, as well as much of Canada, are feeling the effects of this rapidly passing new act. I have no better way to describe this latest act than as daunting. Well over 50 pieces of legislation are being “tweaked” in this over 450 page mega document.

I’ve decided to compile a list of observations I have made and encourage Canadians who are unfamiliar with what is going on to do some research:

1. The act is enormous and broad – CON
I see it as somewhat unsettling that the government has bundled so many changes into one document with the expectation that fellow members of parliament are going to be able to fully wrap their head around it and feel comfortable with what they are approving or denying. I realize this is all part of the majority rule advantage but I strongly believe that it should have been divided into a few different bills grouping together similar legislation so that the changes could be debated more closely and thoroughly.

2. The timeline for approval is very condensed – CON
Taking into consideration the previously mentioned point about how large and broad this act is, the fact that the timelines for approval are so condensed is also alarming. Had the act been divided into sections these timelines would seem more reasonable, but it isn’t divided, and the speed at which this document is passing through readings is a little insane. This naturally makes me question how  well it is being reviewed and how fair the whole process is being run.

3. Stricter regulations for obtaining EI – PRO
How can this not be good? I think encouraging people to look for work and providing them with more resources to do so is fantastic. In the same breath, I also think that making the criteria for obtaining EI more specific is equally great in efforts to discourage the abuse of the system. I know EI is needed for many and I have no problem with helping out those who need the temporary help, but I absolutely do not like that it is being used as a regular source of income for many who can’t seem to understand the concept of working consistent jobs to sustain themselves.

4. Environmental well being is being overshadowed by the economic well being – PRO/CON
The amendments being presented in regards to environmental protection and assessments within regulatory processes are quite significant. The changes suggest that the processes are going to be accelerated and the requirements in this realm less stringent. I see this as both good and bad, as fast tracking certain economically beneficial projects can be very good for our nation, but at the expense of the environment? Will these decisions being made sound as good 5 years from now? Will the changes being made in regards to the environment be as detrimental as people are anticipating?

5. Independent regulatory departments are losing independence – CON
It appears as though more, “overriding” type authorities are being given to ministers, executives, etc. in these formerly quite independent departments. Essentially, depending on the government and individuals, higher ups could make their own decisions if they so choose to, despite the fact that it would go against the current system and be undemocratic of them to do so. Ex: an NDP government could kibosh proposed energy projects in the name of the environment or something of the sort, where as Conservative government could accelerate and over-approve them all in the name of the economy.

6. The name of the act is misleading – CON
For the Conservative government looking to get this act to pass quickly it could be very beneficial that they disguised the contents of the act by calling it “Budget Implementation”  but it distracts many Canadians from looking further into what it actually encompasses.

7. The “Budget Implementation Act” is being reviewed by the finance committee – CON
Contrary to the title of the act, there are way more items within it than those that are budget related. I have a hard time imagining what kind of expertise the finance committee is going to have when it comes to pipeline projects, environment and other non-finance related business.

8. Elimination of the role of Inspector General (CSIS) – CON
Considering this position deals with highly sensitive information and national security I don’t think it should be bundled into such a large bill and overlooked because it needs more focus and discussion than is being allotted to it. Not having the extra “check and balance” of the IG potentially means less privacy for the public and more room for error. I believe CSIS is an important agency and this position’s elimination could cause detriment.

9. OAS age of eligibility from 65 to 67 – PRO
I, contrary to many, believe this is a good thing and don’t quite understand the outrage around it. Statistics show clearly that people are living longer, which for government means paying out OAS for a longer period of time which makes it all the more expensive for them. Additionally, if people are living longer they are likely healthier implying they may be able to work longer as well. I am not sure how significantly the small increase by 2 years affects people and it isn’t a new concept as countries all over Europe increased their retirement ages to 67 years ago.

10. Increase in decision appeals – CON
Due to powers being shifted, “strict” decision timelines for projects (ex: applications submitted to the NEB) being implemented, and environmental assessment amendments there is a lot of room for companies and individuals to move to appeal them. Increasing appeals will tire resources and potentially put significant strain on our system.

As a western Canadian who spent the majority of my youth in French school I had a much better appreciation for the French Canadian identity than many of my fellow westerners ever did. I enjoyed the once a year Carnival celebrations where we circled around troughs of ice at the cabane à sucre to get our maple syrup on a stick, ate poutine in the cafeteria all week and listened to luberjack-esque men playing French Canadian folk music. I even argued that it would be quite upsetting to see Quebec separate if ever a referendum produced that consensus from the people. Blame these sentiments partially on the fact that I love history and rich culture; in my mind having this whole other Canadian identity and second language made Canada seem all the more intriguing. I probably even, as a young and naive socialist adolescent who had yet to discover reality, liked the idea of their “hippie” protesting past.

Today, I still appreciate these things to an extent, but I have grown strongly in favour of putting Quebec in its place, and I was likely one of many who rejoiced in the fall of the Bloc Quebecois last federal election. I never understood how a separatist party was ever allowed to participate so significantly (or at all) at the federal level, but it happened, and for far too many years. I have additionally grown to dislike the fact that there is such a hate on for the west, and specifically the west’s economic strength, when that is what largely funds those in the east — it’s like me mocking my employer all day and still expecting to have a job, usually this would be unfathomable.

What really pisses me off though, is the current student protest against the $1625 tuition increase over the next 5-7 years BS that is going on. Quebec already pays some of the lowest tuition in the country, and mostly thanks to the money the west sends them. I realize education is important, and to some degree I do believe it should be more available to anyone who would like to further their education. I however don’t think it should be free, I already know how little kids I went to university with on their parent’s dime cared, I could only imagine what it would be like if the government was picking up the tab. I do agree that post secondary is pretty expensive but it is what it is. Let’s face it, we don’t live in France where we are taxed out the huzzah to offset costs of these big ticket items and at the end of the day, I don’t want to fund some asshole who thinks becoming a professional student is a good career path, especially since the government allowing him to do so affordably enables him to live off the rest of us, who actually work, for eternity.

I wasn’t from a wealthy family and my parents were not able to pay for my education so I did what many do, got loans! Oh my gawd!I think I actually appreciated the whole experience more too as I knew I was responsible for paying back the money I was borrowing and it was a constant reminder of why I needed to do well so I didn’t have to do it again, and double my expenses. On that note, what makes this whole protest even more irritating is that the current tuition rates I have seen range from $2000 to about $4000 a year for Quebec residents. 6 years ago when I started university I paid over $5000 and the increases through my 4 years there ended at my paying just over $7000 a year in 2010. In just 4 years, I saw an increase in well over what the students in Quebec are protesting against and I was already paying more than they pay for their tuition now. Don’t think I ever enjoyed the fact that my tuition increased, or that I didn’t feel some angst, I just see this whole situation in Quebec very disheartening. People who have it good, tend to find more flaws in what they have rather than appreciate it, and that sucks, especially since it is now getting even more out of control than it was in the beginning.

When protests become violent, people get injured and property gets destroyed, you really start to distract people away from what you are really there for. Heck, the fact that you are disturbing the peace and vandalizing the city just increases spending of tax payer dollars that would potentially be helpful for going towards your “outlandish” tuition fees. Seriously, get a fucking grip! Often times youth empathize with youth movements, and in general people with like views will empathize with movements they see demonstrating a fight to express and or protect those similar views they share. This protest however, from what I can see, doesn’t have many youth outside of the group in Quebec who are trying to hold on to their idea of a utopic world supporting them because we live in the real world and we know how much more difficult it is for us with the higher tuition and cost of living out west, but guess what — we managed. It’s even more disgusting that they have the gall to insult fellow students who are choosing to go to school during these protests because they actually care about getting their education.

In my view, for those Quebec students who want to run around half naked sporting body paint and chanting at people you should grab a ticket to Shambalah or some other like festival in the forest. Can greater Canada take a referendum to decide whether or not we want to kick Quebec out? I’d love to see how much tuition would cost them as an independent nation.