Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Semantics Can Never Reverse Deaths in Afghanistan

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

“The silence of good people is worse than the actions of bad people.”
Malalai Joya

And when I say death and semantics with regards to Afghanistan, I mean death in great numbers.

And I’ll begin with an apologetic qualification: I have no expertise whatsoever on Afghanistan. Nonetheless, I find it painful and morally suspect when we in our ivory (okay, cement and wooden) towers fight over semantics regarding innocent sisters and brothers—and this can also include American/Canadian soldiers—who have to live under brutal, deathly, inconceivable conditions, regardless of the rights and wrongs of said semantics.

In the National Post (which is, evidently, more than semantically bankrupt), Raphael Alexander is righteously indignant because Noam Chomsky—and countless others from many papers—describe the American military actions in Afghanistan (and I suppose the Canadian actions, too) as an invasion.


Alexander quotes a colleague, Mark Collins:

There was no “invasion” of Afghanistan.

Before the fall of Kabul to the insurgent Afghan Northern Alliance in November 2001, and the consequent collapse of the Taliban regime, there were no foreign regular combat formations in Afghanistan [great, and the 15,000 military advisers Kennedy sent into south Vietnam were simply taking notes on the local flora].


For a different opinion on the Northern Alliance, I’d recommend Raphael at least comes to hear the remarkably courageous Afghan woman Malalai Joya talk this Saturday in Vancouver. She has stated:

“I realised women’s rights had been sold out completely…Most people in the West have been led to believe that the intolerance and brutality towards women in Afghanistan began with the Taliban regime.

But this is a lie.

Many of the worst atrocities were committed by the fundamentalist mujahedin during the civil war between 1992 and 1996. They introduced the laws oppressing women followed by the Taliban—and now they were marching back to power, backed by the United States. They immediately went back to their old habit of using rape to punish their enemies and reward their fighters.”

I guess that’s just her opinion—maybe even semantics—but she lived there, and she’s risked her life to say it, so it should be given some merit.

Continuing the Alexander article:

The Northern Alliance did receive air support [sounds like payments from dad after a divorce] and assistance [for welfare mothers] from special forces (both U.S. and British); that however is not an invasion.

Anyone must surely understand that, whether it’s an ‘invasion’ or simply a ‘war’—decide for yourself—one army’s ‘support’ and ‘assistance’ from the most powerful forces on earth will likely be another group of citizens’ ‘hell’ and ‘massacre.’


Alexander’s article continues:

Substantial foreign ground combat forces—including Canadian—only entered the country after the Taliban had been deposed by indigenous Afghan forces.

Those foreign troops entered with the agreement of the Northern Alliance—which was the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan and held the country’s seat at the United Nations.

An agreement! That’s a relief! And I’m doubly relieved for the Afghan people because—using Alexander’s reasoning—isn’t it true, then, that the brutal Soviets didn’t ‘invade’ Afghanistan in 1980? After all, it is well documented that like the Americans with the Afghan Northern Alliance, the Russians also had an agreement and were repeatedly invited by the then-Marxist Afghan government to ‘assist’ and ‘support’ them against rebel insurgents.

From Wikipedia, and footnoted:

The Afghan government, having secured a treaty in December 1978 that allowed them to call on Soviet forces, repeatedly requested the introduction of troops in Afghanistan in the spring and summer of 1979. They requested Soviet troops to provide security and to assist in the fight against the mujahideen rebels [mujahideen—that sounds familiar. Oh yeah, freedom fighters the moral equivalent of the American founding fathers, at least according to, I believe, Ronald Reagan—while also being the ripe soil for the coming harvest of mad-men].

On April 14, 1979, the Afghan government requested that the USSR send 15 to 20 helicopters with their crews to Afghanistan, and on June 16, the Soviet government responded and sent a detachment of tanks, BMPs, and crews to guard the government in Kabul and to secure the Bagram and Shindand airfields.

This invitation to “support” and “assist” goes on and on here.

No, agreement or not, I think I’ll stick to the invasion theory of Soviet involvement.

And just as a trivial aside, the Northern Alliance may well be “the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan and held the country’s seat at the United Nations.” And the abominable Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge held their country’s seat (Cambodia) at the United Nations—with American and British support for a number of Cold War reasons—until 1982, and then until 1993 (under a different name). In other words, with support from the West, the Khmer Rouge held a UN seat for nearly fifteen years after committing the second largest genocide of the 20th century.


And although democracy is clearly irrelevant—or at least the will of the people and international opinion are clearly irrelevant—here are a few statistics on what citizens around the world thought at the time:

Public opinion at the beginning of the war also reflected this dichotomy between the United States and most other countries.

When the invasion began in October 2001, polls indicated that about 88% of Americans and about 65% of Britons backed military action in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, a large-scale 37-nation poll of world opinion carried out by Gallup International in late September 2001, found that large majorities in most countries favoured a legal response, in the form of extradition and trial, over a military response to 9/11: Only in just 3 countries out of the 37 surveyed—the United States, Israel, and India—did majorities favour military action in Afghanistan [Israel and India were undoubtedly, at least on some level, seeking precedence to attack without limitation their enemies—Palestine/Lebanon and Pakistan, respectively].

In 34 out of the 37 countries surveyed, the survey found many clear and sizeable majorities that did not favour military action: in the United Kingdom (75%), France (67%), Switzerland (87%), Czech Republic (64%), Lithuania (83%), Panama (80%), Mexico (94%), and other countries.

Eventually some of those numbers would change—over time and pressure—not unlike the reversal by Congress with the Bank bailout, which was, similarly due to its ‘legality’, clearly not an invasion of the the tax-payers’ pockets. It was ‘assistance’ and ‘support’ for the bewildered rabble.


Alexander continues in the National Post:

In any event, the U.S was exercising its legitimate right of self-defence against the Taliban regime that was harbouring al-Qaida, the group behind the murderous Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

Again the battle of semantics, with the term ‘legitimate right,’ but it was my understanding that the Taliban—and their ideology and actions are heinous (and now their moderate faction is being negotiated with!)—asked for evidence of al-Qaida’s involvement.

The American government couldn’t supply evidence, refused to seek legal channels (as was desired by many, many countries), and went forward to “smoke [bin Laden] out”—which still hasn’t happened, and is barely ever mentioned.

And I believe that even after an eight month utterly exhaustive FBI investigation, the FBI stated they did not have conclusive evidence of who was behind the horrendous, murderous 9/11 attacks.

Our ensuing investigation of the attacks of 9/11/01—code-named “PENTTBOM”—was our largest investigation ever. At the peak of the case, more than half our agents worked to identify the hijackers and their sponsors and, with other agencies, to head off any possible future attacks. We followed more than half-a-million investigative leads, including several hundred thousand tips from the public. The attack and crash sites also represented the largest crime scenes in FBI history.

And on December 11, 2001, from the FBI:

The indictment [of Zacarias Moussaoui ] we are announcing today is an important step in the process of bringing to justice those who we believe to be connected to these violent and vicious attacks on America.

I don’t doubt al-Qaida’s involvement in some large or small way, but the FBI’s evidence, by their own admission, was inconclusive.

What we did know from the FBI investigation and press release was that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi Arabian, and Wahabbi schools—supposedly often terror encouraging and anti-West in their teachings—had for years been largely financed out of Saudi Arabia.

Hence, days after 9/11: the American invasion of Saudi Arabia.

Oops, I mean, barely even a conversation. Meanwhile, the ‘House of Bush I & II/House of Saud’ money, resource and business connections et cetera are massive—and even in bits, available for anyone to research.

And here’s the real rub and the grand agony: the largely non-existent media and political attempts to seek out, let alone publicize, what the citizens of Afghanistan actually want. And what they want can be discovered. And call me cynical, but responding to Karzai’s requests—not to mention his suspected drug-smuggling brother—should not necessarily constitute the will of the Afghan people.

From a NY Times article:

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The above certainly supports Joya’s bold claims of “warlords, drug lords and criminals” being all through the so-called democratic Afghan government.

Anyway, I’ve said too much. I just can’t stand it when that obvious final question isn’t asked: what do the people want—those who are suffering from the invasion/war/operation/occupation, or whatever you want to call it, as thousands die? Any true democrat would agree that what the citizens of Afghanistan want is the one question that ultimately really matters.

I’ll let the remarkably courageous Malalai Joya finish. Although she cannot speak for her entire country (although she was elected), she’s surely more important than some questionable battle of semantics:

We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by, and for, the West, to legitimise its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like, corrupt government for another term.

The people of Afghanistan are fed up with the rampant corruption of Karzai’s “narco-state” (his own brother, Wali Karzai, has been linked to drug trafficking in Kandahar province) and the escalating war waged by Nato. In May of this year, US air strikes killed approximately 150 civilians in my native province, Farah [in 2005 Malalai, representing Farah, became the youngest person elected to the new parliament].

More than ever, Afghans are faced with powerful internal enemies—fundamentalist warlords and their Taliban brothers-in-creed—and the external enemies occupying the country.

Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women’s rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves.

So do not be fooled by this façade of democracy. The British and other Western governments that claim to be bringing democracy to Afghanistan ignore public opinion in their own countries, where growing numbers are against the war.

In my tours to countries that have troops in Afghanistan, I’ve met many bereaved parents who have lost their loved ones in the war in my home [also a profound and heart-breaking tragedy]. I am very sorry to see governments putting the lives of their soldiers in danger in Afghanistan in the name of bringing democracy. In fact the soldiers are serving the strategic and regional interests of the White House and the consequences of their occupation so far have been devastating for my people.

I believe that if the ordinary folk of Afghanistan and the NATO countries were able to vote, and express their wishes, this indefinite military occupation would come to an end and there would be a real chance for peace in Afghanistan. But today’s election does nothing for that.

Here’s to peace, love, hope that we may ask the right questions, honesty, and as few deaths and as much integrity as possible in Afghanistan—integrity in the papers, and from my heart (because I truly have so little knowledge, but this report just got my goat). And without doubt, in life sometimes you have to fight. That goes both ways.


FACING ALI Academy Release July 10-16 in New York and Los Angeles

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Hope all is well. This is a blog for all those wonderful folks who have written or called or wondered where and when they can see Facing Ali. First off, I’d love you to see it! I’m not the only one. Check out this photo of ‘The Greatest.’

I’ve been lucky enough to be at full screenings in Seattle, Washington DC and Los Angeles, and I cannot say enough about how generous and enthusiastic the crowds have been. It was like family—families who really love each other. It’s also been shown in Nantucket and Maui.

For now, though, FACING ALI is opening June 10th for a limited one week engagement in LA and New York in what is called an Academy Release. This allows the film to have a shot at an Academy Award nomination. Wouldn’t that be something? That happens, and you’ll all see it.

If you happen to be near either of these two theatres, I’m so happy. If you know anyone near those places, please send an email or make a phone call.

New York:
New Coliseum Theatre
703 West 181st Street
New York, NY 10033

Los Angeles:
Laemmle Claremont 5
450 West Second Street
Claremont, CA 91711

If not, damn I’m sorry. Either way, spread the word if you’ve seen the film, or spread the word if you want to see it. You will love these ten guys who fought Ali, had their lives changed forever, and were a huge part of Muhammad Ali’s evolution. I loved ’em.

The TRAILER is here.

And check this out for three online reviews.

Lots of love to you,



Friday, May 29th, 2009

Well, my friends, today’s the day. FACING ALI is having its first ever public screening at the Seattle International Film Festival tonight, 7:00 (and tomorrow at the Egyptian Theatre). I’m driving down there, leaving in a few minutes, down the 99 to the I-5. Here’s to hoping the border’s clear, people come, and they have a great experience!

And may it look good…

Ali (don’t) bomaye!

Ali (don’t) kill him! We’re all in this together, after all. Here’s to joy.

Lots of love to you—armed with yoga, stand and fight!


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA and the MAKING OF HISTORY: But Will It Change Anything, Really?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

“Whatever happens, when George Bush leaves the White House, he shouldn’t get his damage deposit back.”
—my dear friend Gina

First a question. If Barack Obama had, say, ears one inch larger, sticking directly out from the side of his head, do you still think he would’ve won?

Think about it. Looks are important.

You think I’m kidding? How did Gore lose? How did Kerry lose after the lies of Iraq? For the record, I think large ears are cute—and Obama has normal-sized ears—but an inch more, and I don’t think we could’ve taken his calm demeanor seriously. Same goes for Jimmy Durante noses, shifty eyes (although George W has shifty eyes), uncontrollable twitches and excess sweating. They’re trouble.

Case in point: In 1960, John F Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in a television debate. He lost that same debate, according to those who heard it on radio—which clearly shows that people too poor to buy a television are less intelligent, and probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote.


As far as political campaigns go, the few times I checked in, President Barack Obama’s was strategically flawless. He ran it with skill, intelligence, strength and class—even if he doesn’t, in my opinion, say all that much beyond, “Yes, we can.” The truth is, he says that damn well.

And the fact is, “Yes, he did.”

The pluses, I think, are pertinent.

One, of course, is that Bush and the neo-conservative’s economic pillaging and the increased concentration of Power will be at least verbally tempered with Obama’s arrival. Having said that, in some ways Big Government (big enough for Exxon but too small for universal health care) may just as easily increase in size and intrusion under Obama. It’s a very tricky world, and inertia is hard to fight.

Two, in case someone on the planet didn’t know, Obama is a black man, he has a Muslim-esque name and he watches the sports highlights on ESPN every night. Those ain’t the best credentials, as a rule, for running for President.

He’s also very calm and smart, and appears to be a good listener, and is decent one-on-one, at least in basketball, if he isn’t too pressured.

So could there be a better person to try and bridge the unnecessary gap between citizens who pointlessly label themselves Democrat or Republican, and then berate each other mercilessly?

Perhaps not.


Oh, with respect to the nearly meaningless terms Democratic and Republican, here’s an irony even more startling than a fly in your Chardonnay.

The results from the Civil Rights Act vote in Congress in 1964 were, thankfully, 289-126 in favour of its passing. That’s 70% for, 30% against.

But get this: by Party, Republicans voted 136-35 (80% for its passing) while Democrats, at 153 to 91, were 63% for, 37% against.

Granted, the Southern Democrats were thoroughly against it, but that only makes the meaning of the terms even more absurd, and you get my point (and I don’t mean the one on the top of my head).

Further, Honest Abe Lincoln, the so-called great emancipator, showing all the signs of a “compassionate” Democrat, was, of course, a Republican.


All that said, the Obama victory remains, obviously, hugely historic.

True, statistically, African Americans make less money, have lower health indexes, and are incarcerated, for a multitude of reasons, some self-explanatory, in far greater numbers per capita than their white and Hispanic sisters and brothers.

But a black man in the White House is still a hell of a walk from the civil rights battles of Montgomery and Birmingham and all over America in the 50s and 60s, let alone the Jim Crow laws and slavery before that. It’s got to make any lover of human beings, any dreamer, stand up and cheer, with hope.

I was watching the PBS Civil Rights documentary Eyes On The Prize the other day, and to go from that legislated disease of slavery to a black man as President brought me to tears here in Canada, so Lord knows what it might feel like for an African American, whose great grandparents may have been slaves (not to mention all other Americans with a pulse).

Having just finished the Muhammad Ali project Facing Ali, it remains instructive to recall just how deeply disliked Ali and his big mouth were in America—particularly by the white population—upon winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1964. Of course, he was against forced integration. But even more striking is Martin Luther King, who in 1965 was considered by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI to be Public Enemy #1. Number One.

So I just have to celebrate (with my American sisters and brothers) in knowing that this presidential victory is a remarkable symbol of what solidarity in the struggle for justice and dignity can achieve. And then we must hope that this election result will not pacify relieved folks into complacency, but rather activate deeper compassion and community across all dilemmas and boundaries.


At the same time, discerning folks everywhere might want to, while celebrating, pay heed to the words of Congressman Ron Paul, spoken on CNN the day of the Obama victory.

There’s no offer of solutions. Obama talks about change but what is he going to change? He and McCain agree on the total bailout package, they don’t disagree on foreign policy really…

We have a policy now where we’re going into Syria, we’re going into Pakistan, we’ve threatened Iran, we have bad conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq. So those problems are getting bigger by the day…

So the American people are going to be frustrated. They’re enthusiastic now, and they’re all hopeful, and they should be, but what’s going to happen after a month if each of these problems I’m talking about are much worse?

Right now there is no evidence that we are going to see a shift, that we are going to see new policies, that we are going to have a deep concern about the constitution. That we are going to talk about non-interventionist foreign policies. That we’ll talk about the Federal Reserve, the culprit in this whole financial mess. Nobody’s talking about that.

Naomi Klein adds:

the $700-billion “rescue plan” should be regarded as the Bush Administration’s final heist. Not only does it transfer billions of dollars of public wealth into the hands of politically connected corporations (a Bush specialty), but it passes on such an enormous debt burden to the next administration that it will make real investments in green infrastructure and universal health care close to impossible.

If this final looting is not stopped (and yes, there is still time), we can forget about Obama making good on the more progressive aspects of his campaign platform, let alone the hope that he will offer the country some kind of grand Green New Deal.

So despite the dark shadow of the economic bailout/handout Obama supported, and his tacit support for an arguably illegal, amoral and certainly murderous and expensive war in Iraq, one thing is still true and remarkable. A vibrant, young and handsome black man—with a name one letter different than Osama—has actually won the Presidential election in the not-always-United States of America, with great voter turnout.

That also goes to show a couple of things.

One, the nightmarish criminal disaster of George W. Bush’s reign (disaster to the American masses, not his Big Business friends).

And two, and more importantly, that undeniably vibrant and unstoppable aspect of the American spirit that actually does say, sometimes, and sometimes loudly: “Yes, we can.”

And if a centrist pragmatist is the best that can be hoped for—and who knows, maybe it’s the best thing, anyway—Barack Obama is indeed that. May he be safe and morally courageous (he’s already physically courageous just to be there). And may he represent with integrity and increased wisdom, people, a country, and a world in need of all the intelligent, communicative leadership it can find.

Lots of love to you,



Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Thanks to a certain aspect of human nature and the mainstream media, have your neurotransmitters lately been obsessively focused on ugliness, shouting, destruction and the politics of fear by things like $700 billion bail outs, economists and leaders as liars/short-term thinkers, enviro/mental abuse and the tiny mental bandwidth of modern politics?

The yogis (including Yogi Bear, Yogi Berra and Yogi Barely) say we become like that with which we associate. I believe this, very much, to be true. So be conscious, at the very least, with whom and what you associate!

Here’s a great little talk given by green architect/visionary William McDonough, reminding us of ourselves as infinite natural systems, and the beauty and potential of sustainability and the true meaning of competition, from the Latin root which means “to strive together.”

Aah. Doesn’t that just inspire a bigger exhale?

Think big and beautiful, small and sustainable, and remember your beautiful self in it all. De-contract with great discernment. You are a spiritual being, Steven Pinkar and other evolutionary psychologists (who fall in love) notwithstanding.

Here’s the link. Sustainable cities are spoken of at the 15-ish minute mark, but watch the whole thing, and some terms like economics, growth and potential will shoot into our too-worn neural pathways, and start to build healthy, gorgeous, infinite-seeking tributaries.

Here’s a ten minute version (of the 20 minute version).

Here’s Wide Open, just because…

Love and more love, in this infinite experience, and a big fat AUM/Amen for the day…

Pete xoxox


Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

On Saturday March 8, 2008, at the Coast Capital Playhouse (1532 Johnston Road, White Rock, British Columbia) I’m playing (heck, I’m kickin’ off, six-strings and all…) the second night of a two-night, Friday/Saturday concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of my dear and brilliant (and non-pet-eating) friend Larry Anschell’s Turtle Recording Studios, which has recorded countless wonderful artists over the years (and me too).

I mention animals because the concerts are also a benefit for the Surrey SPCA, which is a beautiful thing—being that I hate the thought of animals suffering, which is why I don’t eat them—because in this day and age, they suffer brutally getting to our plates.

I think of it this way: Love me, love my dog. And love my dog, love all animals that feel pain, cruelty, suffering and fear (cows, pigs, chickens etc) just like my dog would feel pain, cruelty, suffering and fear were I to put the little fella through a slaughterhouse/factory farm.

For the record, I don’t have a dog, but you get the bark of my bite. I’ve heard that factory farms produce some 95% of all the meat humans eat. But enough about me and some nine billion animals every year—in the States alone. I believe it’s thirty billion chickens world-wide (considered the worst treated animals on the planet), but who’s counting? Okay, okay, enough already, back to the concert…


The night(s) should be fantastic. I am constantly, repeatedly and mind-blowingly overwhelmed by the amount of talent and beauty out there circling this little blue planet. I don’t know the entire line up—I know Allison Crowe, Cozy Bones and Jason Mitchell—but I am assured they are wonderful, and they will be.

The line-up:

Goby Catt & the Catt Pack, Allison Crowe [see below], Critical Element [I just listened to them, they’re funky, man], Dreams of Treason, Kurtis Dengler, and Cozy Bones [beloved in White Rock, but I couldn’t find their site] (Fri.); and Pete McCormack [struggles out of the gate, but the kid’s all heart], Kirk Caouette [couldn’t find his site], Allison Crowe [see below], Jason Mitchell [great, beautiful singer songwriter—check out full songs at his myspace], Jordan Carrier [founding member of Cozy Bones, just released a new CD], and Yuca (Sat.)

Now I can say this: I just saw/heard a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Halelujah by Allison Crowe, who is playing both nights and will blow your mind with her sound and phrasing. I just sat there with my jaw hanging open, thinking if she opened her mouth wide enough, I might just see the divine Vedic goddess of creativity and beauty Saraswati peek out and smile, with a stamp on Her forehead/third-eye saying: “Official Talent: Never Contain.”

And if that’s not enough, she expands upon the inspiration of the inimitable Ani Difranco’s Righteous Babe Records and starts her own independent record company by the undeniably perfect name of Rubenesque Records [for more about great women, see my previous blog].

Check this out—so beautiful.

I’ve got to open for that miracle! (recorded at Turtle Studios, incidentally). I think I’ll just bring my broom and sweep the stage. Ah, but not so fast, my friends—that’s right, not so fast, because I believe too. And anyway, Allison’s going to hear my songs and want to cover them, no doubt about it. It’s what they call a shoo-in. I’ll let her too, if she’s got a good heart. A good heart is very important.

Allison even covers the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Darlin’ Be Home Soon. I thought my sister and I were the only people who knew that song, let alone went crazy for it. Note to reader: we actually swoon for the Joe Cocker version.

In the meantime, here are a couple of my ol’ and young chestnuts. Download them for free if you like ’em, send ’em to people you don’t know, or sprinkle them on your salad.

Be Brave Tonight

Wide Open

Feel If You Want

Naked Love

Little Dreamer

The Woman I Love is Crazy

Shark Attack


I’ve got to hear these songs as I post them, and they’re such a map of my heart. God I love life. (All three of my triple-plastic selling CDs can be found and downloaded here.)

Here’s my one and only video, a 2008 special (for a chuckle, notice the difference between my hits and Allison’s hits on youtube, and then send me lunch money—cash—in a brown envelope marked “Keep it up.” Incidentally, when my work goes viral, it means I’ve got the flu).

More importantly, check out Darfur in Ten Minutes, Colonialism in Ten Minutes or HIV/AIDS in Africa.

I am indeed a fortunate soul. Love more. Seriously, way, way more

Pete xoxoxo

PS Speaking of rubenesque, like the painter Reuben Kincaid (I know, I know, it’s a joke), I’ve always had this wonderfully life-affirming affection for large bottoms. You got a problem with that? Even in semi-autobiographical fiction: This, live, from Understanding Ken, about a ten-year old Canadian boy visiting the United States (Spokane, WA) for a hockey tournament circa 1973.

And more love. xox Okay, okay! One more song: Shine. Jiminy.

COMPOSING/DIRECTING: How To Salvage A Crap Film With A Good Score

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Okay, that’s not the real title. But Steven Spielberg did once say the music from Jaws (John Williams) was thirty-percent of the film right there. Now I’m not sure if there’s a formula for blockbusters (I sure haven’t found it), but the importance, pressure, intensity, revelation and joy of scoring a film can not be underestimated. Cued at the the right time, with the right mood, a film moment can be profoundly elevated. It can also be bled dry.

However the process works, it is a remarkable marriage of the elements—video and sound—and the people working on the film—director and composer. I’m part of a talk called “The composer/director collaboration,” with Dennis Burke, a great talent and a great guy, who did the score for both See Grace Fly and Uganda Rising.

It should be fun—and hopefully inspiring, revealing and informative:

Emily Talks, at the Emily Carr Institute on Granville Island in Vancouver, as part of the ECI Spring Speaker Series.

Pete McCormack and Dennis Burke

“The Composer/Director Collaboration”

Thursday February 28
7:00 pm

All talks in Lecture Hall 301, South Building

Director Pete McCormack and composer Dennis Burke discuss the collaborative process in
filmmaking, moderated by John Sereda.

Sponsored by the Guild of Canadian Film Composers, Department of Canadian Heritage Creators’ Assistance Program and the SOCAN Foundation.


And just in case you missed the earlier blog, I’m on a blogging panel (a very cool and diverse panel, it seems) at the popular Northern Voice 2008 Weblogging Conference, February 23, 11:30-12:10, in Vancouver, called From Book to Blog or Blog to Book.

From book to blog or blog to book: how authors use blogs to attract publishers’ attention and to connect to each other, to readers and to the media.

…among other things, clearly.

Lots of love to you,


Oh, and here’s a link to a recent video, well, just because. The opening line is my grandmother, around the spry ol’ age of 97.

NORTHERN VOICE 2008: From Book to Blog or Blog to Book—or, either way, my friends, write!

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I never thought I’d be on a panel about blogging, a word with which I’ve never been affectionate (not panel, blogging). I’ve been affectionate with a panel several times, including wood-paneling, but eventually got board—ha ha ha! Oh my sides, make him stop!

Those fond yet lonely memories with chip board notwithstanding, I much prefer the pomposity, nay the regality, nay the celestial regality, of my friend Sue’s affectionate word for my blog-slogs on line: blessays.


Blog also sounds like bog to me—Bog—which is how I occasionally feel when my blogs get too long or wound up. This, for the record, is in violation of the Very Official Otherwise-You’re-An-Idiot Blog Writers Manual that preaches concision, clarity, regularity and something else—which sounds more like a health regime for Type II diabetics.

You see how this madness unfolds?

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Bogging,” Peat said (as in Peat Bog), typing listlessly, wondering if anything, ever, makes a damn bit of difference. “Bogging.” But suddenly he perked up, added the letter L, and began blogging…yes, blogging. And an hour later he finished a Blessay—that’s right, a Blessay. And somehow, even in the process of life constantly being recycled, all was well with the world.

Until the next bog descended into the horizon of Peat’s little mind.

Silliness aside (never!), I am on a blogging panel (does that make me word-paneling?), and I’m greatly looking forward to it, at the very popular Northern Voice 2008 Weblogging Conference, February 23, 11:30-12:10, in Vancouver, called From Book to Blog or Blog to Book.

From book to blog or blog to book: how authors use blogs to attract publishers’ attention and to connect to each other, to readers and to the media.

…among other things, clearly.

From the Northern Voice 08 website:

And although it is a weblog conference, the range of topics may involve anything that webloggers are interested in…that is, just about anything.

Previous years have had plenty of geekery mixed with panels on how blogging interacts with family life, education, travel, photography, community building and establishing professional profiles. Speakers range from the big names at the top of the Technorati rankings to first-time presenters with a passion to share.

And The Moose also throws a pretty kicking party.

It says a lot about how much fun we’ve had that all of the original organizers are still involved. As the event has grown, and our schedules more packed, we’ve added reinforcements for fresh energy and new perspectives.

It has been the community that has made Northern Voice worth attending in the past, and we invite you to help make this year’s version the best event yet.

The panel I’m on looks wonderfully varied and accomplished, as should be any useful definition of blogging—or yourself, for that matter. Here’s a description of what the talk is about, and links to the panelists, and bank accounts to which large checks should be sent.


As for getting bogged under, here’s a style-tip from a bog-man.

And from the NY Times, a bit about the idiotic extrapolations by scientists who take a couple of preserved-by-bog dead people with axe-blows to the head (I hate when that happens), and make up a cultural history that is about as speculative, in my opinion, as finding a dead monkey with a shirt on, and concluding Planet of the Apes clearly happened (which of course it did, and will again).

Big fat happy love to you. And don’t forget. Seriously, always remember. You know what I’m saying, you gorgeous being,


PS Here’s an interview from a while ago about my creative journey/process that, to say the least, is ongoing. Maybe read it and then write your own poem, limerick, haiku, doodle or epic novel.