Living far away from the federal riding of Calgary Signal Hill, even I could hear the bells ring out and the cries of ‘free at last!’ when Rob Anders was defeated by Ron Liepert in the riding nomination race. The fact that it took the actual riding association to get rid of him speaks volumes about what would have likely happened if his name had been again put forward to run in the next election – another win for him despite the litany of boneheaded comments and actions made by him for 17 years as a member of parliament. It speaks volumes because the majority of people in Calgary would vote for a potted fern if it ran as the Conservative nominee in any federal election.
Rob Anders is a disgrace to politics, the public service and the human race. To this day, I still don’t know what was going through everyone’s minds as they voted him into office six times. Well, yes I do. I know the reason. It is purely superficial. What I’d really like to do is interview everyone who voted for Rob Anders over the last 17 years and find out what was really going through their heads when they marked an X next to his name in the polling station. I mean really, why? It still can’t be because of their ongoing sweaty night terrors about Pierre Trudeau trying stealing their oil. It can’t. Too much time has passed for any reasonably sane human being to have that kind of ridiculous festering eating away at them for decades. It makes no sense, kind of like how a person like Rob Anders getting elected to public office makes no sense. Both defy logic and reason.
Anders was one of the last hold outs from the old whiny Reform Party – the West’s answer to the PQ in Quebec. At first, the Reform Party had good intentions to reform government. Unfortunately, soon after, it was taken over by right-wing extremists and western separatists – tags that have followed and haunted every incarnation of the party since (including the current Conservative Party). Anders was one of these right-wing extremists whose exclusionary views, no matter how insensitive or outlandish, seemed to fall on deaf ears of those who voted for him.
It seemed that no matter what he said or did (insulting veterans, sleeping on the job, insulting Nelson Mandela, defamatory, bizarre, preposterously worded rhetoric surrounding gun control, gay marriage, etc., etc., etc.), all of it failed to resonate with people in his riding, who by their actions, agreed with every ridiculous thing he did and said. After every election that we won, you just were floored at the voters’ inability to do the right thing and boot him out of public office and were left saying “what is wrong with you people?! Open your eyes and your ears!” But that’s the problem. Anders was the king at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.
In the end, he ended up looking like the pathetic person that he is. You could tell on the day of the nomination vote (one of the few times he actually showed himself in public during such an event that the media managed to capture) that from day one of his first election to the bitter end, he was solely focused on the single demographic that put him into office – the old crotchety right wing person who grumbles constantly about taxes and young people. As always, living in the past, the future caught up to him.
You could tell the people in the riding were out for blood. It was their chance – finally to get rid of him without the risk of a general election and the ‘Pierre Trudeau stole my oil’ windbags out of the equation. Though it would have been even sweeter to see Anders go down in a general election, it was satisfying the see him get his comeuppance. Unfortunately, a person like Anders (even with a $100,000 per year pension) gets used to the pig trough of public money, so expect to see him haunt another election in one form or another.
5/10/2014 0 Comments
On a Friday night in May of 2013, I was sitting down in front of the television, scrolling through channels when I came across an episode of ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ – another Gordon Ramsay reality television concoction. He’s only slightly less abrasive in this version as opposed to his ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ which has him going off at every turn. For a complete turn of events, he’s a pussycat in ‘Master Chef’. But I digress.
I just happened to come across this particular episode of ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ (and the repeat of it a year later) and the opening teasers were, of course, intriguing. Shows like this usually follow the same formula – a setup, a backstory, a crisis (or train wreck in-progress), an intervention (by Ramsay) and then a solution or conclusion. Something was different however with this episode. The cameras filmed a service-in-progress before Ramsay arrived (nothing new about this concept). But what was captured was truly unbelievable and eye-popping: a train wreck of a restaurant operated by two people with severe mental health issues.
At first it was entertaining, laughable (they have to be making this up, right?… right? People who own restaurants don’t act like this, right?… right? They’re being coached to act like this to ‘drama up’ the situation, right?… right). Then, as this train wreck of a dinner service ended, you’re left sitting there wondering why the restaurant is still operating if this is the way they treat their staff and their guests. It must be an act for the cameras, right?… right?!
Then, as Ramsay arrives and sits down with the owners (both before and after the next train wreck of a dinner service), you end up realizing that, yes, the owners are totally delusional, there is no act and what you have just witnessed is a case of two mentally unstable people put on display for entertainment. But that is what is wrong with reality television. These people (and hundreds more contestants, guests, teams and players that make up the meat and potatoes of reality shows) with mental health issues are put through the meat grinder of reality television for our entertainment. What is wrong with that?
I’m no psychologist, but I have been around long enough and observed endless human behaviour to know that the kind of behaviour that Amy and her husband exhibited on ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ is not normal human behaviour. They have severe mental health issues that need to be addressed in psychotherapy. But again, that is what drives the engine of reality television – unbalanced, out-of-control, over-the-top, sociopathic contestants (who everyone calls ‘crazy’). Without these people who are displayed to us like circus freaks, would we watch reality television? I would suggest, no. It would be dull and boring watching the ‘normal’ contestants battle each other with their ‘normal’ behaviour.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how much goading (if any) or poking at Amy and her husband was done by the producers to provoke them into their tirades. I also don’t know any of Amy’s backstory. This would be insightful knowledge to get at the root cause of her problem. In any event, both ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ and ‘Amy’s Baking Company’ are to blame for the train wreck that was the episode and that is Amy and her husband’s life. ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ gets a thumbs down for putting two people with mental illness on display for our entertainment, but also a thumbs up for bringing this issue to the table. And although you end up feeling the slightest bit sorry for Amy, the wrath she, her husband and her restaurant got after the episode aired was justified. You just don’t treat people like that. Mental illness is no excuse. Fix your own personal problems before involving others in your train wreck. It’s not our fault.
When reality television took over the medium, I tuned out. There is something to be said for really well scripted television. That is the reason why (to combat the reality television craze’s heyday) I took to watching what was left of scripted television (Law and Order and Law and Order: SVU to name two). Mercifully, the reality television craze is dead and now only a few survive. But still, it seems that when you watch one of them, it’s like watching a car crash – you know it’s horrible but you can’t stop watching.
When I made the decision to take a break from screenwriting towards the end of 2013, I thought it was going to be a clear break. In many ways, it has been – I haven’t written anything new or went back and fiddled with any of my screenplays. However, I still get emails from various sectors of the industry (contests, consultants, blogs, production companies, websites, trade papers, etc., etc.) that keep me connected in one way or another. In the vast majority of circumstances, I ignore them – mostly because they’re trying to sell me something (contest fees, consultant fees, books, software). But sometimes I venture forward because they are looking for a script – something that I might have that might fit what they are looking for. That chance is laughable of course because when you’ve been rejected as many times as I have, you just become the teensiest bit jaded and get jolted back to reality and remember why you quit screenwriting (sorry, ‘took a break’) in the first place.
The decision to stop screenwriting and go back to school to get a certificate in technical writing at the end of 2013 is still the touchstone moment for shaking me out of my spec screenwriting fantasy world. As I have stated in a previous post, you can only stand bashing your head against a brick wall and getting kicked in the head so much before it starts to wear on you. That was one reason for my decision, but it wasn’t the biggest one.
As you get older, you worry more and more about the future and what it may or may not hold. As a result, you get a little antsy at your ‘job job’ and realize that nothing is secure anymore. That’s the feeling that befell me and led me to take action to secure my future because the screenwriting ship hasn’t come in for me. In fact, it may be stuck on a sandbar just off the coast somewhere.
I’m a writer. I always have been and I always will be. I will never be a real journalist (or what a real journalist should be – good) because I’m too opinionated and will never be able to be truly objective about anything. Trying my hand at novel writing is still one of my life goals, but it is just as big a shot in the dark as screenwriting. So, after doing some research on what kind of career I could use my writing skills while providing for my future in a relatively steadily growing field, I chose technical writing. I have a pretty good grasp of technical things and appreciate the appearance of good design and layout, so that is what I chose.
It’s stressful trying to work full time and going to school part time, as I discovered when I was completing my first course. That is the reason why I semi-retired from screenwriting. Something had to give. That was it. I can’t work, go to school and concentrate on screenwriting (including promoting myself) at the same time. I tried and it didn’t work. I’m not quitting. That would be the easy way out. I’m saying that I’m “putting it on the back burner” for now. I’ll still keep my eye open for opportunities as they come along, but as for ‘going for it’ and writing another screenplay – I’m done – for this year at last.
But I have to admit that screenwriting has got a hold on me. As much as I want to be a successful screenwriter, and as much as I want it to go far, far away from me right now, it won’t let go because I’ve been bitten by the screenwriting bug. Perhaps I should have swatted it away after I wrote my first screenplay and moved on with my life. But I let it sit on me, then burrow under my skin as I wrote screenplay after screenplay. Now, it’s too late. Although I have successfully resisted its call while I work on my education, after I complete my current educational endeavor, I’m sure it will rear its ugly head again.
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