Archive | April, 2014

Vinyl Valhalla #1 – The Formative Years

30 Apr
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, vinyl without end. Amen.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, vinyl without end. Amen.

 

My first post on stereos and music, “Sanctuary For The Restless Male Mind,” was a brief heads-up for a series of posts on a topic that will be of interest to many people: music, and especially the stereos that most of us reproduce that music with. With that in mind, here we go:

My first encounter with stereos was with Mom’s Philco console stereo, which looked something like this:

 

 

Mom had come from a humble French-Canadian background, and becoming an administration Flying Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) back in the 60’s saw her receive a meaningful pay check for the first time in her life. Quite reasonably, she treated herself to the Philco—turntable, AM/FM, amplifier, and speakers, all in one convenient and handsome cabinet.

Dad was (and remains) a Johnny Cash fan—how many of you have a parent who’s seen both Cash and Buddy Holly, live? Mom had Elvis and Edith Piaf albums. So I have fond recollections of hearing albums like these:

 

It takes so little spirits for Nav to "Walk The Line." This tends to lead to a "Burning Ring of Fire" the ensuing day.

It takes so little spirits for Nav to “Walk The Line.” This tends to lead to a “Burning Ring of Fire” the ensuing day.

 

When I was around 10, I received a plastic Sears turntable as a Christmas gift. I haven’t been able to find any photos of it, but this will give you an idea of the sort of thing that I had:

 

Close enough

Close enough

 

I remember listening to my Elton John’s Greatest Hits album on it. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and “Benny & The Jets” were part of my cultural upbringing. I also had a fantastic used Guess Who album that an Uncle had given me. “No Sugar Tonight” and “American Woman” were also staples. Yes, there was a time before Lenny Kravitz, way, way back in the distant past.

 

10 year old Nav didn't know that "greatest hits" albums were gauche. He just loved the music.

10 year old Nav didn’t know that “greatest hits” albums were gauche. He just loved the music.

"No Sugar Tonight" Trumps "American Woman," IMO. Feel free to disagree.

“No Sugar Tonight” Trumps “American Woman,” IMO. Feel free to disagree.

 

My broader exposure to music, though, really began as a kid of just 13. Remember this made-for-TV movie?:

 

So unbelievably cool to a 13 year old boy living in at C.F.B. Nowhere.

So unbelievably cool to a 13 year old boy living in at C.F.B. Nowhere.

 

Yes, Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park was an incredible experience for a young 13 year old lad in the not-cosmopolitan locale of Canadian Forces Base Summerside, Prince Edward Island, back in ’78. And, sure enough, didn’t one awesome S. Claus leave this album for me under the tree that Christmas morning?:

 

Japanese audiophile re-issue. WARNING: Do not play under the influence of alcohol. May result in Nav spandex-clad karaoke episodes. Listen to with caution.

Japanese audiophile re-issue. WARNING: Do not play under the influence of alcohol. May result in Nav spandex-clad karaoke episodes. Listen to with caution.

 

I was into skateboarding, back in the late 70’s. After Summerside, Dad was posted for a year to the even more not-cosmopolitan U.S. Navy Facility in Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada. It was actually a great place for a kid my age, and with my subscription to Skateboarder Magazine, I was introduced to aspects of skateboarder culture, which included picking up Blondie and Nazareth albums after reading reviews of them.

 

Ah, the joys of exploring music.

Ah, the joys of exploring music.

 

1980 saw us move to the outskirts of broader metropolitan Halifax, Nova Scotia, at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater. By working a few part-time jobs, I saved enough to buy a Lloyd’s all-in-one stereo, just like this:

 

Just like this one, but with a dust cover.

Better than a plastic kids’ stereo, but still a long way away from true hi-fi

 

Not only did it have an automatic turntable (which would shut itself off after playing an album) and AM/FM receiver, it also had an 8-track player. You haven’t heard music until it’s been interrupted by the massive KA-CHUNK of a mid-song track change. As I began working at a variety of jobs in my spare time, I could afford to explore music a little more. I was also going to concerts with high school friends, when major acts would condescend to play Halifax: Ted Nugent, Van Halen, etc. I’d normally go to bed after throwing a final album on, and fall asleep listening to Led Zeppelin or Queen.

Any of these seem familiar?

 

British rock import albums!

British rock import albums!

Biting social commentary.

Biting social commentary.

LOVE early Purple.

LOVE early Purple.

"Dark Side" and "Wish You Were Here" are better, but this is the definitive end of the journey. Monumental.

Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were great. The Wall was monumental.

Everything up to "The Game" was genius. Freddie and Brian May...

Everything up to The Game was genius. Freddie and Brian May…

Violin bows and double-neck electric guitars. The impact of Zep is difficult to comprehend, even today.

Violin bow and double-neck electric guitar, courtesy of the amazing Jimmy Page.

 

Little did I know that these formative music-stereo years were to stay with me for the rest of my life, as my tastes and experience and knowledge grew. It wasn’t until around 2000, however, with the discovery of one unselfish and dedicated audiophile’s website that I learned what true high-fidelity audio was really about. Forget all about the fancy magazine adds and the “amazing” 1,000 watt amplifiers at your local electronics shop. You’d be amazed at just how much musical information and emotion are actually hidden in those mysterious vinyl grooves. You just have to know how to coax those delicate little musical bits out.

 

Stradivarius performs Hendrix

Stay tuned for the true story behind what are probably the greatest turntables to have ever existed.

 

Musical genius. Words escape me.

Musical genius. Words escape me.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

P.S. I listened to an audiophile re-issue of The Wall last night, for the first time since high school. Wow. It was spiritual in a cerebral sort of way. For those of you who’ve had an advance read of my book The Mirror, I think you’ll see some of the lyrics from The Wall in a whole new light, especially the parts dealing with “mother.” I’ll have to write a post about this, someday. Fascinating.

P.P.S. Look what I’ve just found on 180g vinyl and ordered! Eva Cassidy on vinyl! Her singing is so beautiful, it can bring tears to my eyes, may God rest her gentle soul.

The voice of an angel

The voice of an angel

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Chef Nav’s Culinary Crime Against Humanity

28 Apr
Oh, my aching guts.

Oh, my aching guts.

WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE

Those who’ve followed this blog and especially those who have read my book (pre-release) will know that I am a most serious fellow who both never jokes and is somewhat adept at identifying abstract patterns. Often this works to my advantage.

Other times, it doesn’t.

It appears as if I am afflicted with a certain cognitive asymmetry. This is a very clever way of saying that I can be very not clever in certain regards, haut cuisine being one of the better examples. Indeed, The Nameless One, who is so named as she must not be named, once looked on in astonished horror as I attempted to make a delicious meal in which I mixed canned tuna and canned baked beans. At least, it was supposed to be a delicious meal, in the same spirit as the two people who bumped into one another and mixed chocolate with peanut butter. It proved to be a serendipitously delicious and accidental culinary discovery, or at least it was in the 1970’s commercials.

Fairy tales don't happen in Nav's kitchen

Fairy tales don’t happen in Nav’s kitchen

How was I to know baked beans and tuna would taste like crap and turn my guts into knots for an entire day? Tuna comes in cans. Baked beans come in cans. There was a pattern there; I just bloody knew it. Not all patterns are good ones, I suppose.

Where the hell is the cautionary labelling?: NOT FOR USE WITH CANNED TUNA!

Where the hell is the cautionary labelling?: NOT FOR USE WITH CANNED TUNA!

This morning, The Nameless One left me with idiot-proof instructions regarding a delicious and healthy meal that was to be made with the F@#!ing Vitamix superblender. This blender is so powerful that some 3rd world nations use it for tire recycling. With this monstrosity of unrestrained kitchen torque as my mystic culinary temple, and much like the mystic Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Nameless One left me her cryptic and timeless message on the kitchen blackboard: beets; carrots; dates; coconut; almonds. There. The mystery of the universe, solved. Whatever the bloody hell could ever go wrong with just five ingredients?

Plenty.

The first thing that a man must do–and when mustn’t a man do what a man must do?–when confronted with such a righteous quest is to pull out Excaliber or some other holy and +3 magic sword. Not having one lying around, I whipped out the next best thing: the 10″ Shun Classic chef’s knife / Bilbo Baggins’ special.

I'm compensating for what?!

I’m compensating for what?!

Having scrubbed and chopped both red AND orange beets, as two colours surely must be healthier than one, I then pondered the stupid coconut. The goal was to get the uber-fresh coconut milk from inside the coconut AND into the destroyer of vegetables that I so dearly love.

We couldn’t have canned coconut milk. No. That wouldn’t be cricket. So, having left my light sabre at the office and not wanting to provoke a 911 call for having attacked an unarmed coconut with a reciprocating saw, I decided to use our U.N. Human Rights Commission-Approved Guantanamo Bay  Ethical Restraining Device, to keep the coconut from hurting itself while I punctured the bloody life out of it.

Respecting the dignity of all mankind.

Respecting the dignity of all mankind.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the cognitive stress of solving the Mystery of the Sealed Coconut so taxed my poor asymmetric brain that I forgot all about the bloody dates. Might as well try to re-start the warp core without di-lithium crystals. Otherwise, all the ingredients went into the F@#!ing Vitamix. I followed the proper VM ignition sequence protocol, just like they teach at NASA.

The lid was sealed. Low power, minimum speed. Slowly increase the speed via the correct rotary dial control knob as the tire recycler chomped through the hard bits of beets and carrots and almonds like a pit bull going through prime rib. Just when you think you’ve reached the point of maximum vegetable violence (MVV), throw ‘er into high gear, and stand back as time and space warp under the awesome power of the F@#!ing Vitamix.

A bowl of rotten Pepto-friggin’-Bismol and cheap port would have tasted better than this Tinkerbell-pink healthy crap. I’m so glad I added the hairy-assed coconut milk; what a disaster it would have been had I forgotten that, too. I had a Campbell’s Chunky Soup moment upon first tasting it: maybe God is punishing me, so I should use a spoon, to get every friggin’ drop. “Jeez, all that’s missing is a touch of dates,” Nav said to himself. \

Who needs hot yoga or Pilates to strengthen my core, when I can just drink this crap and  send my guts to the digestive olympics decathlon? No colon cancer for this culinary cowboy, no ma’am. There’s fibre, and then there’s Vitamix! Might make the U.S. Navy super gun R&D team green with envy, which is preferable to being internally pink and gurgling with my concoction.

Whatever reason God put me on this Earth, I can with great confidence say this one thing about it: it surely wasn’t to make food.

Copyright (c) and Pseudonyms: What Every Author Should Know

25 Apr
The cover I didn't choose

The cover I didn’t choose

There can be a number of reasons why an author would want to write under another name. For example, horror master Stephen King also wrote under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman, so he could publish more often without saturating the Stephen King brand. More recently, Harry Potter author Joanne Rowling wrote for an adult audience as Robert Galbraith, to escape the Harry Potter hype.

These are examples from fiction. I am a non-fiction writer (well, for the moment, at least) who is writing as “Michael M. McConaughey.” Who I really am must remain an eternal mystery, just like the Bruce Wayne – Batman thing. Besides wanting privacy due to the rather controversial nature of my true story, there is actually a legal requirement that I not be publicly identified in association with my case. Ontario’s Child and Family Services Act s. 45.(8), under “Hearings and Orders,” is quite explicit:

Prohibition: identifying child
(8)  No person shall publish or make public information that has the effect of identifying a child who is a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding, or the child’s parent or foster parent or a member of the child’s family. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 45 (8).

I have a little bit of a problem, don’t I? My account manager at FriesenPress.com has informed me that we are now at the stage where she must submit the application for copyright to the U.S. Copyright Office on my behalf. I can’t very well have “Copyright (c) 2014 [INSERT MyRealName]” printed in the book, can I? As it turns out, I can’t use “Copyright (c) 2014 MYPRIVATECORPORATION INC,” either. All someone would have to do is Google the corporation name, and my real name would come up as a director (if I had one), as this is a matter of public record.

However, I can register the copyright of my book under my pseudonym. Here’s what the guidance says:

An author of a copyrighted work can use a pseudonym or pen name. A work is pseudonymous if the author is identified on copies or phonorecords of the work by a fictitious name. Nicknames and other diminutive forms of legal names are not considered fictitious. Copyright does not protect pseudonyms or other names.

If you write under a pseudonym but want to be identified by your legal name in the Copyright Office’s records, give your legal name and your pseudonym on your application for copyright registration. Check “pseudonymous” on the application if the author is identified on copies of the work only under a fictitious name and if the work is not made for hire. Give the pseudonym where indicated.

If you write under a pseudonym and do not want to have your identity revealed in the Copyright Office’s records, give your pseudonym and identify it as such on your application. You can leave blank the space for the name of the author. If an author’s name is given, it will become part of the Office’s online public records, which are accessible by Internet. The information cannot later be removed from the public records. You must identify your citizenship or domicile.

In no case should you omit the name of the copyright claimant. You can use a pseudonym for the claimant name. But be aware that if a copyright is held under a fictitious name, business dealings involving the copyrighted property may raise questions about its ownership. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this matter.

Works distributed under a pseudonym enjoy a term of copyright protection that is the earlier of 95 years from publication of the work or 120 years from its creation. However, if the author’s identity is revealed in the registration records of the Copyright Office, including in any other registrations made before that term has expired, the term then becomes the author’s life plus 70 years.

So, in my case, here’s what I have to do:

1 – Get my FriesenPress.com Case Manager to put my pseudonym of Matthew M. McConaughey on the copyright application, and identify it as such.
2 – Leave the space for the real name blank. DO NOT PUT MY REAL NAME ON THE APPLICATION!!!
3 – Recognize the difference in the duration of copyright by doing this (not a big deal, for me).
4 – Make certain that I can prove that it’s my work, in case some clown tries to claim that he or she wrote the book and is “Michael M. McConaughey.”
5 – Consult an attorney.

In my case, 1 and 2 will be taken care of by FriesenPress.com on my behalf, as this is part of the package that was paid for. 3 is really not an issue for me, at the tender age of 48. For 4, I have my correspondence with FriesenPress.com as evidence that I wrote my book. I could also show the manuscript to a lawyer before it is published, as such a lawyer would make for a credible witness. I can also mail myself a copy of the manuscript before it is published, but not open it (i.e., leave it sealed) when it arrives. This allows me to prove that I wrote the manuscript before I published it, as the mail would have a date stamp (hopefully).

For 5 (don’t skip this!), I would look for an honourable and competent attorney with expertise in defamation and copyright law, such as Toronto’s Mr. Gil Zvulony.

Mr. Gil Zvulony, Toronto Attorney (http://zvulony.ca/wp-content/uploads/Gil-Zvulony.jpg)

Mr. Gil Zvulony, Toronto Attorney (http://zvulony.ca/wp-content/uploads/Gil-Zvulony.jpg)

 

If you’ve done your homework, all it might take is a 15 to 30 minute telephone call with such an attorney to confirm that this applies in your legal jurisdiction (mine is the Holy Feminist Matriarchy of Canada). Being a little older and wiser, my book The Mirror, Book One – Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood will be Copyright (c) 2014 Michael M. McConaughey.

Thus, I shall remain the most mysterious Michael M. McConaughey, Scourge of the Matriarchy.

[CAVEAT: This post is not to be construed as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only, to prepare you for discussion with a licensed attorney.]

Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Feminist Social Workers Still At It

21 Apr
Justice is blind, or, at least, it should be. (Source: http://www.photo-dictionary.com/photofiles/list/7606/10212statue_of_justice.jpg)

Justice is blind, or, at least, it should be. (Source: http://www.photo-dictionary.com/photofiles/list/7606/10212statue_of_justice.jpg)

Those who’ve followed this blog (and especially those who’ve read the manuscript for my forthcoming book) know my feelings about feminist child “protection” social workers. In the jurisdiction where I live—Ontario, Canada—, child protection agencies are officially known as Children’s Aid Societies, or CAS for short. These odious feminist entities are borderline above the law, and they know it.

As I discovered to my horror back in 2008, feminists have rigged key definitions and practices in the mandatory Child Protection Standards in Ontario regulatory document. Since 2007, if a mother does not win custody of the kids in divorce (and hence the child support payments), then it is considered child ‘abuse,’ especially if mother is a child abuser. This is to rationalize malicious feminist interference in divorce custody on mothers’ behalf via fraudulent child ‘protection’ action on a province-wide scale.

For those who might be inclined to think that I exaggerate in my analysis of Ontario’s Matriarchal feminist child protection system, consider this recent column by the National Post’s Barb Kay entitled “Children’s Aid Societies gone rogue.”

Here are the highlights of this 154 day case:

– In 2010, the London-Middlesex CAS applied to protect three boys (5, 12, and 15) after a parental separation.

– Mother vilified Father, claiming: he had emotionally abused her; that he was a sexual abuser; and that he was a murderer who tried to exploit the kids to try and kill the mother.

– Mother, no surprise, turned out to be unreliable and manipulative. [Nav: Probably covert narcissist or borderline personality disorder]

– The CAS ignored the boys’ repeated reports of Mother’s “… violence, alcoholism and sexual indiscretions.”

– The mother eventually resorted to alleging that the oldest son tried to kill her, which brought the matter to criminal court.

– Luckily, there was a good judge on the case, Mr. Justice Harper (Where were you in 2008!). Justice Harper slammed the CAS as being the driving force behind the trial and being an advocate for mother (remember, a CAS is only supposed to protect children). He stuck the CAS with 2/3’s of the record $1.4M court costs, and assigned mother the other 1/3 ($604,500).

– The London-Middlesex CAS’s notes referred to Mother as their “client.”

– Mandatory CAS document sharing for court was discovered to be running a year late.

– One CAS supervisor, tasked with providing documents to lawyers, removed 475 pages of notes, emails, records, and summaries from the file. This should be a criminal offence.

– Justice Harper felt that the kids were permanently scarred by all of this, and that “This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers … many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.”

– Justice Harper noted that the CAS had acted in bad faith. This means that the CAS workers involved in this case do not necessarily enjoy the “Good Samaritan” clause protection of Ontario’s Child and Family Services Act. [My opinion.]

– Barb Kay gets, on average, one CAS horror story a week.

It is this systemic and fraudulent feminist child “protection” scam that The Mirror, Book One – Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood will be exposing. I suspect that it is going to make for an interesting if unpleasant read for good judges like Justice Harper. God as my Witness, I will expose this heinous practice for all the world to see.

Scrivener! The Writer’s Best Friend

17 Apr

I suppose one of the advantages to the new reality of first-time authors having to self-publish is that it forces us to learn so much about writing and publishing in general. For example, to learn more about marketing self-published books, I turned to Michael Hyatt’s modern classic PLATFORM – Get Noticed in a Noisy World. I learned that Mr. Hyatt uses Scrivener as his exclusive writing software / app.

Mr. Hyatt lists five reasons as to why he made the switch to Scrivener:

1. It provides a hierarchical file structure. I like this aspect of Scrivener, too, as I naturally tend to organize documents this way. For a simple example, think of a book, with its underlying chapters forming a hierarchy. The file structure of Scrivener can be exactly matched to your book’s structure, which, hopefully, has already been flushed out in the process of writing your book proposal. I’ve done this with Scrivener for my nascent Book Two:

My 2nd "child," in utereo

My 2nd “child,” in utereo

2. It has a distraction-free composition mode. Ultimately, a writer has to write. Scrivener’s composition mode is about as close to having nothing but a blank sheet of paper in front of you as you can get:

No distractions, so just write

No distractions, so just write

3. It was created with writers in mind. Scrivener has so many useful features, and you can use as few or as many as you would like. Some of these are:

– It organizes each project (i.e., a book) as a separate binder.
– It has helpful views besides basic writing, such as a cork board with file summary notes or an outline view.
– You can keep research articles (text, photos, etc.) together in a binder. For a non-fiction writer such as I, this is a significant feature.
– You can split your screen. Thus, I can view a research article (maybe a newspaper article, for example) while I am writing about it in the other half of the screen. Or, I can view footnotes in the 2nd screen as I peruse the main document.
– It has the stats a writer would want access to (e.g., word counts).
– It has an “inspector window where I can keep notes, track status, link to articles, or even create custom meta data.” (Hyatt)

What a great way to organize your writing

What a great way to organize your writing

4. It supports multi-markdown. According to Hyatt, this feature allows us as writers to separate the content creation phase (i.e., the writing) from the formatting, with Scrivener doing much of the work for us.

5. It allows for a variety of export options. This is potentially exciting for self-published authors, as Scrivener allows you to export directly to Kindle, iBooks Author, ePub, or PDF formats. This alone might make Scrivener worth its price of admission.

Hyatt mentions that he still uses Evernote as his main information warehouse, but that he does all his writing with Scrivener. I use both Evernote and Pocket for writing-relating information storage, and, as I am still relatively new to Scrivener, I am going to have to see how to work the relationship between these apps.

Think you might be interested in Scrivener? Check out the 10 minute An Introduction To Scrivener video.

If you’re interested, also note that Hyatt’s article says you can get a 20% discount by using his affiliate code MICHAELHYATT when purchasing it. Since it is now on sale for $45, the MICHAELHYATT discount code would reduce the price by $9, for a cost of $36. My preliminary use of Scrivener suggests that it is the real deal for serious writers, and I think that $36 is a fair price for a useful piece of software.

I’ve heard of other writings apps, such as the $100 Snowflake for the Snowflake Method, but have not used them.

From what I’ve seen so far, I wish I had had Scrivener to write Book One with, and I am certainly glad that I have it for Book Two. I’ll keep you updated as I get more familiar with Scrivener. For the record, I have no commercial interest with Scrivener; I bought my copy. (Scrivener is available for both Mac and Windows.)

The Superiority Of Patriarchy

13 Apr

Another winner by Violet. If she keeps this up, I may switch from a blogger to a reblogger. Please note her disclaimer at the start.

Serendipity

(Disclaimer: Please don’t take this too seriously, this is not a serious argument against feminism. It’s just funny.)

Quite a few years ago, I had the pleasure of watching the Dutch version of Survivor with my feminist roommate. That particular season would have two islands, one populated by men and one populated by women. My roommate had been promoting that particular series to me and the other students in the house for weeks because it would show us, according to her, what a society run by women – free from the evils of patriarchy – would be like.

And it did. Oh it did.

Here is what happened: initially both groups were dropped on their respective islands, given some supplies to get started and left to fend for themselves. In both groups there was some initial squabbling as people tried to figure out a local hierarchy. The men pretty much did…

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The Big Lie of a “Rape Culture” by Wendy McElroy

12 Apr

A rampant “Rape Culture” crisis on Canadian university campuses is the latest women-victim cause célèbre du jour for Canadian feminists and their toadies. This brilliant post by Violet at her blog Serendipity spells it out rather nicely: