Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Revenge Of The Inappropriate Ringtone

Well, I had such a time writing the last installment that of course there had to be more. No doubt this may become an ongoing feature.

Some days ago I heard the trilling ringtone of a cell phone, with an abomination as the person's preferred ring tone. It was, unfortunately, this infestation.

That song, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the most irritating songs of the last fifty years. And now that you've clicked on it, it's stuck in your heads for the next few hours.

So, let's continue on with the theme of inappropriate ringtones that we left off with yesterday.

Let's say you're a defendant in a trial (innocent until proven guilty, except in Texas). Or, for that matter, you're a lawyer or judge. Either way, this tune might not be a good choice for your ringtone.

For that matter, if you're a straight woman or gay man, and securely comfortable in your preferences, you might want to avoid using Katy Perry's breakthrough as your personal ringtone. Your guy might look at you strangely.

Visiting someone whose family member was killed by the Manson gang? Don't have helter skelter as your ringtone.

Going back to my notion of bad ring tones for therapists from yesterday, there's this classic that ought to be avoided. Your patients will thank you for not having that start to sound when they're on the couch in your office. They don't need to hear about maniacs, thank you very much.

What if your therapy is directed towards a group of people with fear of flying? Obviously, this Chantal Kreviazuk tune is not an option for your  personal ringtone. Neither is Tom Petty's opus. The title alone will get them thinking about falling out of planes. And forget this one too.

Are you a white guy? Forget using rap for your ringtone. Just forget it. You look supremely silly. If you do, well, I'm gonna knock you out.

Let's say you're the head of the DEA. Or a politician known for being strictly anti-drugs. There's no excuse for using Hendrix or this stoner classic for your ringtone. It'll send all the wrong messages.

In Alcoholics Anonymous? Well, as infectious and fun as this song is, you can't use it for your ringtone.

Attending your mother in law's funeral? Delete this song  from your ringtone. That's the last thing you want interrupting the funeral. Your spouse will want to kill you.

Let's say you're in the military. Well, you might like John Lennon, but these sentiments  might not go over well at work, so avoid using it as a ringtone.

On trial for arson? Got a taste for being a firebug? Well, you don't want to incriminate yourself, so this is out of the question. So is this.

Attending the Louvre? Want to make an impression that you're impressed by the culture and the history? Want to avoid being seen as a heathen? You might want to avoid having Shania saying she's not impressed as your ringtone while standing in front of the Mona Lisa. The French will not like you for it.

Are you a bomb squad member? You might want to avoid using this Britney Spears song as your personal ringtone. After all, Oops is a word that we don't like hearing coming from a bomb squad technician, so....

In fact, if you use any of her music as a ringtone, I'm sending the hounds after you.

Live in Vancouver? London? No doubt you're used to the rain. Well, veryone else lives with it too. And they hate it. So, for your own sake, avoid using this Amanda Marshall song  for your ringtone. You might get slugged by someone sick and tired of rain for the twentieth straight day.

Let's say that you're a Bond Girl. You've managed to survive until the end of the film. Well, after James ditches you, you really ought to refrain from using this Carly Simon classic as your ringtone. Unless your future boyfriend or husband is a spy, it's going to get to him. He'll always know that the best sex you ever had was with that suave British agent you spent a couple weeks with, running around the world in exotic places and battling supervillains, Tea Party leaders, and Alaskan mama bears (yes, they're all the same person) in hollowed out volcanoes.

Finally, I submit to you this future scenario. It's the year 2029. A dystopian, dark future for one side. A glorious future for the other. In Washington, D.C., President Chelsea Clinton resides in the White House, her heart heavy. Her nation has just fought and lost a war with Canada. It's a war started when her daddy, still a skirt chaser in his wheelchair, pinched the bottom of Governor General Avril Lavigne three years ago.

Canadian troops occupy every state capital. The Canadian Prime Minister (yours truly, by the way) sits smugly at her desk in the Oval Office, victory in his grasp. She wonders how a country with a population tenth the size of her own could defeat her military so soundly. Now she must sign a negotiated peace, signing over Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and New England to become Canadian territory. Her Republican arch rival, Senator Bristol Palin, is somewhere cackling with glee.

Right about now would be a really bad time for her cell phone to go off. Even worse if her ringtone is Blame Canada.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Curse Of The Inappropriate Ringtone

During a Christmas holiday two or three years ago, I was back at the family homestead. One of my brothers and his family were up too. Around six in the morning, with darkness still looming outside, I woke up to a strange sound. Talking. I went downstairs, hearing this peculiar voice. It was slightly nasal, low pitched, and vaguely English, going on and on about waking up.

It was, in fact, Stewie.

I don't watch Family Guy, but I've seen enough clips to recognize the voice. It was barking in a condescending way, going on and on... and then I found the reason why this annoying evil voice had invaded my sanctum: it was the alarm clock function on my brother's cell phone.

Cell phones these days feature your own personal ringtone, of course. You can customize them to have different ringtones for different people. If you're a teenager, for example, this comes in very handy. For your girlfriend, boyfriend, secret crush, or stalkee, you might select their favourite song. For your dad, you might get him to ask "What do you mean you totalled the car?" and loop it over and over as his customized ringtone. For your mom, you can ask her to say the word nag, and loop that so that when she's calling you, you'll hear your phone chirp up, "Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag."

I don't have a cell phone. If I did, would I go with a ring tone? Hard to say. If I wanted it, what would it be?

Me being me, it would have to be something like this:

The Imperial March


Ave Satani

Norma and I got to talking about inappropriate ringtones. She mentioned a Sunday School teacher whose cell phone interrupted the service. The ringtone? Is this appropriate for church? I think not!

A marriage counsellor would have to be careful about their particular choice for that matter. Somehow an appreciation for this Sara Evans song might be the wrong choice when it goes off during a session with a couple whose marriage is on the rocks.

Funeral directors need to be mindful of this sort of thing too. This song might tend to upset mourners trying to grieve for loved ones if their cell phone buzzes during a visitation. Come to think of it, that song would probably annoy anyone with musical taste.

How about a high-end escort who prizes discretion with her clients? Well, as much as I love Old Blue Eyes singing it,  The Lady Is A Tramp coming from her cell phone while Elliot Spitzer is accompanied by a lady of the evening just can't end well, can it?

Psychologists need to be mindful of this too. Yes, Doctor, you might love Cocoapuff cereal, but the Coocoo For Cocoapuffs jingle won't inspire your patients if they hear that from your cell phone during their therapy. Neither will this classic. Come to think of it, avoid using this one too. Not just because it's a Madonna song. That's reason enough, sure.

If you're a serial killer, you might want to avoid this one as your ringtone. It'll lead to no end of trouble, believe me.

And if you're an accountant who's a skinny, small sort of person who has a problem staying on your feet in a good stiff wind, well, I'm sorry, but this is off limits. Stop running up those steps to mimic Stallone too. It just looks silly.

Finally, here's one that's inappropriate in almost every setting. Unless you work in a shop catering to certain adult entertainment clientele:

Yes, Meg Ryan at her best.

Imagine being in church, the PTA meeting, court, or anywhere else, and hearing Meg Ryan faking an orgasm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In Character: Shadi Tarif


It's the founding principle I live by.

I'm a sergeant major in the IDF. I've been a soldier now for nearly twenty years, and I'm in for life. I believe in my country and in my fellow soldiers.

I'm also a Druze. Our people are spread out through parts of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. We're Muslim, though a fair amount of mainstream Muslims might object to the idea of that. We're fiercely loyal to the land we live in. Which is why it's not out of the question for Druze to serve in the Israeli military, as I do. It's an honorable profession, and I've gotten good at it.

They've offered me the chance to become an officer in the past, but I've passed on the promotions. I'm a fighter. I belong with my men. Besides, while it's the generals who give the commands, everyone knows it's the sergeants who really hold things together and get the business of an army done. I'm right where I should be.

I've been seconded to protection detail for the last few months. The man I'm assigned to is a Palestinian politician named Sayid Nahas. He sits in the Knesset, which to an outsider might seem odd, but there are, in fact, Palestinians sitting in the Israeli Parliament. What makes him stand out is that he genuinely wants peace. It makes him a bridge between two worlds, between two peoples. And he means it.

I decided awhile ago that he and his wife are the sort of people worth taking a bullet for. That's high praise coming from someone in the protection detail. There are plenty of politicians who, frankly, aren't worth the bullet. Fortunately, I'm not charged with their protection. I protect a man that I can respect, and trust.

Today they tried to kill him.

A terrorist group called the Covenant claimed responsibility for a car bombing. My partner was killed, and the only reason we're alive is that he went ahead to fetch the car. Otherwise we'd be dead too.

They tried and failed to kill one good man today. They managed to kill another good man. Will they try again?

I could see this character in either Oded Fehr (The Mummy) or Pierfrancesco Favino (Prince Caspian)...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Character: Sabra Cohen

I'm a soldier for my country, fighting a war in the shadows.

I'm what's called a Katsa. We're the backbone of Mossad, the field officers who work the cases, managing intelligence assets abroad. When needed, we're also the sort of officers who do what needs to be done.

Israel has been a country under siege from the start of its modern incarnation. We've always had at least one enemy calling for our destruction. Fortunately we've trained well, we've got tough people on the frontline... and we're better prepared then the enemy. Sure, we get along reasonably well with the Egyptians and Jordanians these days, but there's still the Iranians and their Syrian puppets rattling the sabre. Hezbollah and Hamas are messing around with Gaza and Lebanon and making life difficult for us. And last but definitely not least, terrorists keep sending suicide bombers into market places and wherever else they see an opportunity. Our people die. And if Palestinians happen to be in the way, well, in the eyes of the terrorists, that's acceptable.

As I said, we're under siege, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. It's been general policy at Mossad that we can only really rely on ourselves for our own survival... and yet katsas like me spend time abroad, working with other intelligence agencies on matters of mutual concern.

Now I'm on my way to England, on orders from the boss. The President of the Palestinian Authority has been murdered.

For the first time in a long time, there was hope. President Touqan wasn't looking for trouble. He genuinely wanted peace with Israel, a chance for our peoples to finally find a fair solution. Even in the cynical world I live in, we wondered if it might be possible. That's a tall order for a Mossad agent, let alone our fellow agencies.

Instead, he's been gunned down. God knows what's to come. Rioting and unrest? All too likely.

In an ideal world, there wouldn't be a need for people like me, the spies and operatives who constantly lurk in the shadows, waging a silent war against our enemies. We don't live in an ideal world. We live in this one. And people like me are all that stands between keeping the peace and the obliteration of our nation.

The Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer (Angels & Demons) reminds me of Sabra....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In Character: Cecilia Brennan

Living two lives can be trying. I live one life in the limelight of culture... and the other in the shadows, among death and violence... and with a cause.

There's my public face, if you will. I inherited my musical talents from my mother. Evelyn Brennan was a cellist, well loved and respected. Her home was with the Ulster Orchestra, but she played to great acclaim across the world. London, Paris, New York, you name the city, and she played there to thunderous applause. She took me with her, showed me the world, taught me to love music. Not just classical, but so much more. In time, I took up the violin, went to conservatories, learned the art, and fell in love with performing as part of an orchestra.

I think she also took me with her to keep me away from the other side of my family, from the darkness that she saw there. My father was a man named Peter Reilly, a member of the Ulster Volunteers. It wasn't some sort of grand romance or anything. He and my mother were together briefly, and I was the result. Mom knew the sort of man he was... always looking at another woman on the one hand, and part of a militant group on the other. She wanted better for me, so she raised me herself. She didn't want me to get mixed up into the Troubles. So, I stayed away from the bombs and the unrest and the fighting... and I spent my childhood seeing the world.

My father was murdered by a group of IRA men one night fifteen years ago. I was a child, barely knew the man. Still, he did leave behind two sons, Cain and Eamon. My brothers. And over time, my mother softened, allowed me to get to know them both. They were older, both of them already hip deep in the cause, so to speak. And getting to know them, they loved me fiercely. And I loved them back. How could I not?

I was already performing in university. I went abroad to America, attending conservatories, making a life for myself, playing the violin. The music world was already seeing me as a worthy heir to my mother, to her talent. I was being lauded even before my studies were at an end.

And then it happened. Eamon was murdered a year and a half ago.

I came home. I had to. He was my brother, and I loved him. They gunned him down in his bed. It was an enforcer with the Real IRA. We buried him, laid him to rest...

Cain found out who did it, and had his revenge. The bastard didn't just get two bullets in his skull, like he'd done to Eamon. Cain made him suffer. He deserved to suffer. And then we went to work.

That's my second life. Out of the public eye, and in the shadows. Cain had broken with the Ulster Volunteers when they made peace. He made up his own group, the Ulster Brigade. He offered me a place, and I took it. I had lost one brother to those Fenian bastards. I took my place by Cain.

I've become his intelligence chief. I run a network of sources, contacts who feed me information. Some of them do so willingly, others have no idea they're even spilling vital information to a spy. It's all in how I approach them. Sometimes it's money. Other times it's sex. And other times, it's ideology... such as that is.

Now I've got a good prospect in one hell of a position in London. The sort of prospect I can use for a long time to come... with all sorts of access to information. Recruiting that prospect is another matter altogether... but I know I can do it.

I live in two worlds. My public life, my growing renown as a musician... is useful for my private life. I can use it to the greatest advantages, to mingle with the powerful, to find what I need. Still, it's my private life, my mission with my brother... That's what I've committed myself to. That's the path that defines who I am.

I could see either Rachel McAdams or Kate Mara playing the part....

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Character: Cain Reilly

I've been at war for fifteen years. Maybe it was inevitable, given my name. My mother seemed to have a strange sense of humor when she chose that one.

My father's name was Peter Reilly. He had three children by three different mothers. My half-brother Eamon and I grew up together. There was also our half sister Cecilia.

He was a member of the Ulster Volunteers, fought the good fight all his life. One of their most feared enforcers, he was. You have to understand. We're at war with those Catholic bastards, the goddamned IRA. They've always wanted to have one republic, with them running the whole bloody thing. They'd never be satisfied unless they'd drive us under their heel. That's the lesson I've been brought up with. That's what my father fought for.

Until those Fenian bastards killed him.

I was nineteen when it happened. He was kidnapped one night on the Falls Road in Belfast, bundled up and beaten. The bastards knew who he was. They took him out to a foundry in the north end of town... and they really went to work on him. They finished him off by dropping him into molten steel. You can imagine... there wasn't anything left to bury.

When we heard he was dead, that was it. Anything I thought of doing with my life went out the window. Eamon and I went into the Ulster Volunteers, just like our dad before us. We fought, we bled... and we took lives. They had it coming.

Then we were betrayed. The UVF decided to lay down their arms... to accept the ceasefire. To trust the fucking IRA! Those bloody murderers! Trust them? So of course I had to break with the UVF. I went and established my own group. The Ulster Brigade.

Not all of the opposition took to peace. Some of them joined the Real IRA... or Continuity IRA. Others decided to lay low, to do something legitimate. But let's face it... they know the same as I do that peace won't last. And so they lay low, waiting for the peace to end... just as my people and I do the same. We'll take on the odd job, assassins for hire... and do what we can to the other side when opportunities show themselves.

Eamon died a year and a half ago now. Murdered by a Real IRA enforcer in his sleep. I caught up to the bastard a week later, and settled that score. And I'm settling the score with the men who murdered my dad, one by one. I know who the boss was... and his time will come. Mark my words.

Cecilia is with me now. She's my intelligence chief. She was just a kid when Dad was killed, barely remembers him. But Eamon's death brought her home. She's something to behold. Clever, resourceful, ruthless, and driven. And you wouldn't think it to look at her.

War is coming. I'm sure of it. And we're going to be the ones who win it.

As to who I could see playing Cain... the great Karl Urban, of course....

And you can find a passage featuring Cain in this blog:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

G Is For Global Blackmail

Muppet Supervillain Resurfaces, Holds Planet For Ransom

Convicted murderer and muppet Mr. Johnson, aka Fat Blue, aka Fred Johnson, has resurfaced in a stunning video delivered to media and the United Nations today, while remaining on the run somewhere in western Canada. Since his escape several weeks ago after a plane crash, the muppet convicted of murdering Elmo and framing Grover has eluded authorities searching for him.

A video was delivered to the offices of the Calgary Herald today, containing what can best be described as a manifesto. The balding blue muppet looked crazed and devious as he spoke directly to the camera.

"I, Fred Johnson, wrongly persecuted by the systems of an unjust government, have taken matters into my own hands. I have demands that will be met, or the consequences will be drastic. I've been busy during my enforced run from the law, nations of the world. My demands are simple. You will execute Grover. It's irrelevent that he's innocent. I want him dead. Not only dead, I want that blue bastard drawn and quartered. You have two weeks from today. It will be broadcast across the world. If you refuse, I will unleash my arsenal of death cannons, and destroy the world. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!  Does my evil laugh sound evil enough? By the way, I really do have death cannons, and they are capable of blowing up the entire planet."

Authorities don't know what to make of the manifesto. The heirs of Jim Henson seemed downcast. Cyrus Henson, a cousin of the late Muppet maker, made a confession. "Look, Jim wasn't merely a puppet master. He was also a wizard first class. He breathed life into these muppets. Sure, they're made of stuffing, but they're sentient living creatures too, and as such, every once in awhile one of them will turn out to be completely evil. Don't hold it against all of them."

Conservative pundit and dominatrix mistress Ann Coulter was quick to speak up. "Far be it from me to talk about giving in to terrorists. That's typical of those slanderous godless liberals who are ready to take away your guns and feed your children to the infidels. But if we have to hand over one Muppet to save the world, I can live with that. Just so long as it's not my personal muppet Gingro. I do so enjoy playing mistress and servant with that muppet. Oh, don't quote me on that."
Grover is said to be in protective custody with his girlfriend, so it's impossible to reporters to get comments from the fuzzy blue muppet. Meanwhile, in Canada, the search goes on. RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich, still heading up the search for the fugitive, was met by reporters, while he was busy beating up a reporter from outside his detachment.

"Look, I haven't got a statement for you," he told the rest as he gave the TMZ reporter a swift kick in the ass.

"Inspector," a reporter with Reuters spoke first. "Do you believe the muppet's threats are real? That he's capable of destroying the planet?"

Ulrich sighed, and threw the TMZ reporter down an embankment. "I can't really comment on that on the record. I'm sure you understand."

A reporter for Access Hollywood ventured forth, eager. "Lars! Lars! Kyvin Summers, Access Hollywood. Tell me, what does Metallica think of the Brangelina situation, and if Jennifer Aniston should get back together with Brad?"

Ulrich stared at the man as if contemplating how easy it would be to sever his head from his neck. Then he spoke softly. "Listen, you ineffectual vermin, I'll say this much. First of all, Jennifer Aniston is a talentless hack who can't act her way out of a paper back. Second, that whole tendency you twits have of combining names into one is really, really annoying. Third, and I want you to listen to this really, really closely. I am not that Lars Ulrich, you idiot!!!!" The inspector sneered in contempt. "Finally, and most importantly, I have real work to do. These real reporters here seem to understand that. What is it about entertainment reporters that make you such dimwitted asses anyway?"

"So is that a no comment on the Brangelina issue?" Summers asked.

The inspector slugged Summers, and returned into the detachment. Somewhere out in the woods, a muppet supervillain waits, a deadline counting down. At the UN, debate rages over the demand made by the villain. And here in High River, entertainment reporters keep getting beaten up. In the opinion of this reporter, they had it coming.