Friday, March 27, 2009

If only FOX was truly "Gut"less.

It seems I've been writing a lot of letters lately. Such a Canadian stereotype, I know, but I'm so tired of being prim and polite when it comes to international politics. I was just beginning to get past my rage concerning the O'Reilly keynote speech when another horrible bastard - from the same network! SURPRISE! - decided to insult my country, our armed forces, and therefore by default my grandfather, great-grandfather, and countless great-uncles who have served in the military. This man should be fired for the things he said, and I have sent a copy of the letter below to every available email address and bulletin board I can find. Once again, I acknowledge the fact that this is little more than tilting at windmills, but it took me three minutes to write it. A small sacrifice in the hopes that it just might affect something.

I doubt it. But it makes me feel better, anyway, to unload my venom on someone who deserves it.

A very brief primer, for anyone who's been living under a rock and hasn't heard word one about this situation: Watch the offending segment, filmed the same day that four more Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Then have a look at what this prick is passing off as an apology. And then see how angry even our own journalists have become as a result. If you're on Facebook, take note of the fact that all 600 of his 'fans' are disgusted Canadians, many of whom have crossed the line into death threats. Not our proudest moment, to be sure, but I can't say I don't understand that kind of disgust and rage.

Consider yourselves caught up.

To Greg Gutfeld:

I don't care how this gets to you, or if it's even read BY you. It would suit me just fine if your peers, however distant, and/or your colleagues and/or your superiors receive it instead.

My American friends - none of whom even watch your poor excuse for a network, let alone the show in question - have been apologizing to ME because of what YOU said. It's truly pathetic when a good group of people feel the need to distance themselves from their own nationality because you've embarrassed them by being the ultimate stereotypical American that the world has come to loathe. What's worse is that you haven't even apologized for yourself! You made a pithy statement about how Canada "misunderstood" what you said. So that's our fault, too, huh? I think you've been watching too much South Park, pal.

I just realized that I'm typing all of this under the assumption that you can read. That's rather foolish of me. Perhaps you can get Bill O'Reilly to sound out the words for you...?

I'd never heard of you before this. I hope I never do again. And I hope someday the freedoms our soldiers have afforded you are snatched from your greasy little hands.

Part II - To everyone associated with FOX:

You would be well advised to rid yourselves of this Gutfeld person and the others of his ilk; Canada is a very large country, full of consumers who are only too happy to boycott any product your advertisers are selling for as long as you allow uneducated mouthpieces to represent you.

Unlike America, we in Canada are regularly shown our soldiers coming home in coffins. My commute every day is along what has been renamed the Highway Of Heroes, which runs through Toronto, and I have seen altogether too many processionals of these young men and women being repatriated. We gather on overpasses with Canadian flags and we honour them in silence as their caskets are driven past us. There is absolutely no room for humour in this.

The talking heads responsible for this uproar need not offer another insincere apology. Fire them, save your ad revenue, and do not ever mention my beloved country again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The days of the true rock concert experience are dying.

My 2009 summer concert list is getting rather unwieldy.

  • Coldplay - tickets are bought (show is July 30th)
  • Depeche Mode - tickets are bought (show is July 24th)
  • Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction - tickets aren't on sale yet, but I have a crack team working on snatching up a few when the time comes (show is June 2nd)
  • U2 - no onsale date yet, either (whyyyyy did they pick the lousiest possible venue??? Show is on September 16th)

And those are just the four major contenders; there will surely be others. Thank goodness I'm only actually paying for two of these at a time. And the Depeche Mode ones are actually a gift from my parents, which is a damn good thing, since they're $115 each. Compare that to the $50 apiece we paid for Coldplay, and it's outright despicable, really.

Oh, before I forget (and completely off-topic!), I'm putting out a call to all:
What's your favourite conspiracy theory?
Is there one (or more than one??) that you've always kinda thought had some merit to it? I'm doing a little research into some of the more popular ones, and was thinking of doing a few blog installments about them, so tell me which conspiracy theories fascinate you the most, or which ones are completely ridiculous (and why!), and I'll get around to compiling a few posts looking a bit further into 'em.

Back to the concerts thing, then.

Remember the good old days, when TRUE FANS would line up the night before or the morning of the tickets going on sale? When you'd befriend other fans in line and you'd see them again months later at the concert? Remember when people had to do more than sit on their lazy asses and click a mouse to go to a show? All of those things, that effort, really did add to the experience. Now scalpers get more tickets than fans do, and venues add an extra $20 to each ticket for "convenience charges" and so on. Mark my words: The days of the truly great rock concert are dying, my friends.

The craziest ticket-getting experience I ever had was the bitterly cold January morning when my boyfriend Doug and I lined up to buy Pink Floyd tickets. We were actually going to see Billy Joel that night at Maple Leaf Gardens (this was 1994), so having to get up that early on a Saturday morning and then make the trek in a blizzard downtown in 12 hours was...not an exciting prospect. Still, it was PINK FLOYD. It was the "PULSE" tour, in support of The Division Bell *swoon*, and nothing was going to stop us from getting those tickets. There was no such thing as Ticketmaster.Ca or .Com, but you could do it by phone, if you were a wimp. This was also before the random wristbands; you had to haul ass to prove you were worthy of those good seats, damnit. And there was also a limit of 4 tickets, EVER, per person.

What we didn't know, though, was that things were different that morning than they usually were when we'd gone to buy tickets at the record store. Usually the store employees would open the mall doors enough for us to at least wait inside for an hour or two, even while the whole place was still technically closed. So I hadn't dressed for -30°C temperatures. I had normal boots on, and a normal winter jacket, sure, but I didn't have a scarf or mittens or a hat, and the wind was bitter enough that I should have been wearing tights and extra-thick socks as well. We had to stand out there for two hours, after all...and that's enough to kill you if you're not dressed for it. (I was also a skinny little thing then - just shy of 5'6" and not even 125lbs. No natural insulation whatsoever.)

After the first hour, my feet started to hurt so badly that I actually began to cry, and my tears froze at the corners of my eyes. Doug had been holding me as close to him as possible, but that didn't help my feet, obviously. So he had to leave me there (I'd only gotten my driver's license a few weeks earlier!), drive to my house several blocks away, and ask my parents for whatever they could give him so he could rush back to me and wrap me up in layers. By now I was getting those telltale white spots on my face, and the pain in my feet....GOD, it was INDESCRIBABLE. The people in front of me in line weren't in much better shape; they were two college guys who were wearing blue jeans and their leather jackets from school. The three of us took turns shielding each other from the wind, but mostly they felt sorry for me, this pathetic little 17-year-old girl with big blue eyes and frozen tears who kept trying to sing "Comfortably Numb" along with them so none of us would pass out.

When Doug returned, he was the hero of the hour: My Dad had sent over a couple of extra sweatshirts and pairs of thermal gloves for the people around us, and my Mom had given Doug money to stop at Tim Horton's to get a whole tray of hot chocolate. Oh, it was bliss. He wrapped a scarf around my face, pulled a toque down over my ears (they hurt like a sonofabitch, too), helped me put on an extra pair of socks, and stuffed my hands into the biggest mittens I owned. He'd gotten 8 cups of hot chocolate, so everyone we'd befriended in this terrible melee was so grateful.

By the time 9:59 a.m. rolled around, and the line began to move toward the door, I could barely walk. Doug dutifully dragged me along, with the help of one of the college guys who'd gratefully taken one of my Dad's sweaters, and the normal inside temperature of the mall felt, comparatively, like we were entering the mouth of hell as we hobbled through those doors.

There was an unspoken code in those days: When you got your tickets and came back out of the record store, you would announce to everyone in line behind you which section you'd gotten, so everyone could calculate which seats were left and so on. Sometimes, if you'd spent enough time together and had become friends while you waited, you might even try your luck at getting tickets for all four of you - two and two, of course, to better the odds, but it still saved precious seconds from ticking away for those people behind you. In this case, though, we opted to go it alone. We wished the college boys good luck, and we watched like hawks as they stood at the Ticketmaster counter, trying to read the lips of the girl behind the register. As it turned out, we all got really good seats, and the guys waited for us outside the store to give back the clothes that had probably saved them from freezing to death. They promised they would remember this, and that they'd see us 7 months from now at the show and would make it up to us.

That night, while we sat at Maple Leaf gardens singing along with Billy Joel, I had to fight back tears because my feet and legs still felt like someone was stabbing them with red-hot knitting needles. But the concert was fantastic, and the fact that I enjoyed it anyway really says something.

Fast forward to July 5th, 1994. January was long forgotten, as was the miserable weather we'd endured to allow us to end up at Exhibition Stadium. It was a gorgeous summer night, and Doug and I were over the (dark side of the) moon about seeing Pink Floyd. We had watched A Delicate Sound Of Thunder on VHS so, so many times, and we were ready to have this experience firsthand. Our seats were breathtaking. And it was the final night of an annual tradition in Toronto - the Symphony of Fire - so we got to watch a most extraordinary fireworks show before the concert began. The stadium was right on Lake Ontario, and the moon was full, and it was just...idyllic.

Not long before the show started, I was startled when something landed in my lap. It felt like...clothes. I looked around and couldn't tell in the throngs of people who had thrown it. And then I lifted it up. It was the Division Bell concert t-shirt. Seconds later, Doug got hit in the face with one. And then we saw them. Our college guys! They were only about seven seats over from us, had spotted us earlier, and had gone to the concession to buy us these shirts. They hadn't forgotten the payback they'd promised. It was lovely. We convinced the couple next to us to switch with these guys, and so the four of us were able to bask in the glory of the opening notes when David Gilmour first came onstage.

It didn't hurt that they'd also brought the purest pot I have ever smelled. They offered, and we declined, but I was rip-roaringly high off the secondhand smoke, which made Doug laugh, because I kept bursting into happy tears and saying, "This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!" whenever the lights turned into green lasers. (The inflatable pigs with the floodlights for eyes FUCKED ME UP, though.)

There were no email addresses to exchange back then - not really - so at the end of the show, we simply thanked our new/old friends for being so generous, and they thanked us again for rescuing them on that wintry day, and we parted ways. I still have the shirt, and so does Doug.

These are the experiences we miss out on nowadays. Hiding behind our computers, selling our tickets on eBay, waking up two minutes before the onsale time hits... It may seem perfectly normal to some of the younger folks reading this, but you're missing out. You truly are.

I have always wanted to tell that story. I'm glad I have. Am I the only one who's had such a fondness for the way getting tickets used to work???

Friday, March 13, 2009

My open letter to - and final words on - Bill O'Reilly.

The petition to have the It Happened To Alexa foundation withdraw its invitation to Bill O'Reilly started out seeking 10,000 signatures. The engagement is only 6 days away, and the goal has now been lowered to 2,000. As of my last check, it hadn't even broken a thousand names.


So I went to IMDb, planning to post a thread in O'Reilly's message boards with a link to said petition, and wouldn't you know it? His profile is up and running, but the message board dedicated to him is marked "Section Closed".

Next step: the man's own website. Apparently you have to pay to become a premium member if you wish to use the "Contact Bill" form. I'm not even willing to pay extra on the cable bill to get FOX News, so I'm sure as hell not going to give a dime to talk to him in cyberspace.

Final step, then: I found his email address, and I wrote the most restrained, polite message I could manage without gagging. You catch more flies with honey, after all, and I don't think my message would hold much water if I was simply being one of those screechy bitches our friend Billy seems to loathe so very much. Instead, I polished a few paragraphs and hit 'send'. Chances are it will make no difference whatsoever. Few things do when it comes to people like him. But at least I can say I did it.

---Original Message---
Bill O'Reilly
The "It Happened To Alexa" Hullaballoo

Mr. O'Reilly -

Surely you've received a mountain of mail about your upcoming talk at the "It Happened To Alexa" luncheon, and the petition asking for your withdrawal. I'll keep mine as short as I can.

Please don't speak at the engagement.

I realize that part of being an on-air personality is putting across what is often a more extreme and exaggerated version of yourself; perhaps the many comments you've made that lead the public to believe that you're a misogynist, among other things, is a direct result of those exaggerations. But I will say this: I was sexually assaulted a few months ago (and no, I don't expect you to care; maybe it would make a difference if you knew that I was wearing medical scrubs at the time, and was alone inside the building in which I worked, and was not in any way making a target of myself the way you said Jennifer Moore did...?), and when I tried to imagine sitting at a luncheon and listening to you speak about rape survival, I felt ill. I couldn't handle hearing a man who has been quoted more than once saying things that amount to "s/he deserved it" or "s/he brought in on him/herself" telling me that he's on my side.

I ask you, Mr. O'Reilly, to please simply consider what your television audience has seen and heard from you, and then think about what the rape survivors at this luncheon will be feeling when you take the microphone and do an about-face (and lie to them?) by saying women's rights matter to you. Please don't make any of those women feel even more belittled and guilty and humiliated than they already do. I can only assume that your reason for never apologizing for some of the more truly upsetting remarks is that you believe you are right, and that there are times and places wherein assault is justifiable. It won't matter what you say on March 19th; what you've said in the past is already out there, and you can't unring that bell.

I appeal to your obviously sizable intellect, and whatever humanity you may have behind your on-air blustering, to reconsider this speaking engagement. Your withdrawal from it would speak volumes about whether or not you actually DO care about how a woman who has been raped or otherwise assaulted should feel. There are so many topics about which you are the perfect man to speak...but the degradation and abuse of women is not one of them.

I'll never know, as we no longer get FOX News here without paying a small fortune for it, but if you did read this far, I thank you.

~Heather xxxxxx
Toronto, ON, Canada

You have the link to the petition. You can try your luck at IMDb, if you like ( ). Now you have his email address, too.

Six days left. Never say never.

And that's the last I have to say about it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Bill O'Reilly petition. I had to post it.

I don't have a lot of faith in what petitions can do, really. Life is not just one big Erin Brockovich lovefest. But every so often I'll see something that makes me practically erupt with rage, and I feel like I'm better off just sharing the damn thing, whether it has any effect or not.

This time it's Bill O'Reilly who's made me feel homicidal. Not that he usually doesn't anyway, just by existing. But women who've been victims of sexual assault - or, hell, just PEOPLE in general - need to know about this disgusting error in judgment (that's putting it kindly) and should say something about it.

O'Reilly has been invited to speak at The It Happened To Alexa fundraiser, which, if you didn't know, is a foundation built to raise awareness about rape and to offer support and resources to victims of sexual assault. I can think of a few men who might be worse choices, but...not many.

I'm borrowing liberally from my friend Rachel's note about this in order to give background to why this bastard doesn't deserve to have an oxygen supply, let alone have the opportunity to listen to himself talk in the presence of the very people upon whom he likes to prey:

Bill O'Reilly is scheduled to speak at a fundraising luncheon for the rape survivors advocacy group It Happened To Alexa Foundation at the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan, Florida, on March 19th, 2009. This is, simply, outrageous.

According to its website, the purpose of the It Happened to Alexa Foundation is to "help support rape survivors through the trauma of the criminal trial, in the hopes that more survivors will go through with the prosecution in order to put these perpetrators behind bars...[and to] assist rape victims families with travel expenses during the litigation process."

A laudable mission, indeed. But not only has O'Reilly been accused of sexual harassment at work (settling out of court and paying his accuser a multi-million dollar sum); he also has a history of making blame-the-victim comments about sexual assault, including the following:

"These two girls come in from the suburbs and they get bombed, and their car is towed because they're moronic girls and, you know, they don't have a car. So they're standing there in the middle of the night with no car. And then they separate because they're drunk...

"Now Moore, Jennifer Moore...She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff... So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning. She's walking by herself on the West Side Highway, and she gets picked up by a thug... And the thug takes her over to New Jersey in the cab and kills her and rapes her and does all these terrible things to her..." (Bill O'Reilly, The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 8/2/06)

"And the question is, why didn't [11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, kidnapped, held and raped for 4 years] escape when he could have?...The Stockholm syndrome thing, I don't buy it...The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted...I think when it all comes down, what's going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances." (Bill O'Reilly, Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 1/15/07)

We can only presume that the board of the It Happened to Alexa Foundation were unaware of O'Reilly's history when they extended the invitation to him. But unfortunately, all objections to O'Reilly's appearance since then have been met with a polite rebuttal.

We consider it wholly inappropriate that Bill O'Reilly should be given the opportunity to promote his new book by associating himself with an organization that does such laudable work on behalf of rape victims.

Please join us in asking the It Happened to Alexa Foundation to withdraw their invitation to Bill O'Reilly and replace him with another, more appropriate, speaker.

Do whatever you feel is right. Sign the petition, don't sign it, watch his show, turn it off, buy his books, burn them, whatever. I've done what I feel is right, and that is to bring this to the attention of my friends and readers. People like Bill O'Reilly do not deserve to have their crimes and misdemeanours swept under the carpet; if a petition can make someone's life a little more difficult - be it his or that of the moron(s) who chose him as a speaker - then it was worth the ten seconds it took to type in my info and hit 'enter'.

**AN ASIDE:** I know I don't update this blog often; I do, however, provide daily links of all types (including the above-mentioned) via my Twitter account, so please feel free to follow me there, too.

***ETA:*** A kind commenter added this additional link for those looking for more background about why O'Reilly is such a heinous choice for this engagement: "O’Reilly Should Apologize to Rape Survivors; Gets Worst Person for Four Straight Nights". Thank you, C.

If you think others would get something out of reading this, PLEASE pass it along, via email, Facebook, Digg or any other means. As I so often say, every little bit helps.