Books ! It’s Book Reviews

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I am spoiled because I have an INDIGO button on my desktop. And when I click it, books come to me, sometimes in less than 2 days. When necessary, I shop in the Brick and Mortar store, when I want a book, TODAY…

The books sitting on my bed side table are:

  • The Spirituality of Imperfection – Ernest Kurtz
  • The Insect Farm – Stuart Prebble
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

The last two books I finished reading this week are:

 

  • Punishment – Linden Macintyre
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

I have a running collection of books written by Linden Macintyre. I’ve read every book he has written. Each one of them is a stellar piece of literature. They run on a familiar theme. The Maritimes are a very integral part of Linden’s storytelling.

In Punishment … We are in Nova Scotia. The lead Character is a man who grew up there, and finds himself working for the correctional system in Ontario. The story revolves around a man who was behind the wall, well, behind several walls, as the story unfolds.

As the story pans out, that ex con is released and returns to his old haunts in Nova Scotia.

The story is a mix of corrections, old love, relationships, crime and what happens when you mix all these ingredients together in a “page turner” book.

If I tell you any more, it would spoil your read.

In any case … Read This Book.

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Ready Player One, was a book that Casey Neistat pimped on his You Tube Channel last week. He pimped the book, because Steven Spielberg is making the movie, of the same name. Before the film is released Casey implored us to READ the BOOK, because, like Casey said … A film can only do so much magic to turn the book into a film.

If you were a kid growing up in the 1980’s, then Ready Player One is right up your alley. It would also serve you better, if you were a gamer geek in the 1980’s, either gaming on a game system, Atari, Commodore, or Apple, you get it.

The other part of the story, that I am familiar with, but never played, was Dungeons and Dragons. This game is integral to the story from start to finish.

The book opens in the year 2045. And the main character PARZIVAL …

The world has gone to hell. Global Warming, Famine, Hunger, War, the running out of Fossil fuels (gas) have turned the World upside down.

James Halliday, a man in his seventies, who grew up in the 1980’s has just died.

He leaves billions of dollars to the gaming community, because he has no family, no dependents, and no wife. The kicker here is, that he has spent his entire life building games.

And one last game is about to take place.

In the year 2045 a virtual reality world exists that everyone around the world is engaged in. That would be The OASIS. A virtual world that is the biggest platform system operating in that time period.

A group of gamer young people take part in the Final Game competition to find Halliday’s Easter Egg that he has hidden within Anorak’s Castle.

Parzival, Aech, Art3mis and Shoto.

If you LOVE 1980’s Music, Film, Trivia, Books, GAMES … Then this book is for you.

Having grown up in the 1980’s myself as a teenager, I loved all the pop culture references and game talk and trivia.

This story is a story about what happens when honest gamers, who have put in a lifetime of study in all things POP, go head to head with a conglomerate that is out to win the prize, by any means necessary (read Cheating their way to the prize) and what happens when the worlds best gamers gather in a universe far far away inside the OASIS system, and how they defeat the conglomerate and attain Halliday’s Easter Egg.

It is certainly a Page Turner.

I’m not sure how good Spielberg’s team is in duplicating every little piece of the story completely. I don’t think it is humanly possible to recreate OASIS and all the gaming consoles, references, and space ships and characters who live inside the story.

We shall see. And Like Casey Neistat said … READ THIS BOOK !

Diana – My Story August 31, 1997

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I had turned 30 years old just a month prior on July 31st, 1997.

Little did I know how the age of thirty would change my life forever, then.

I remember that night vividly. It was a Sunday night, around nine or ten that night. I was home in my apartment in South Miami, watching tv, when the news that Diana, Princess of Wales was injured in a car crash in Paris, and would later die from her injuries.

My next door neighbors were from London. I remember being in shock. I quickly got dressed and ran to the local neighborhood bar, around the corner, that was in full swing of Sunday T-Dance.

I ran into the bar, the lights were flashing in the ceiling and people were dancing and partying without a care. I jumped into the DJ Booth, and called to the DJ to stop the music and put the televisions on full blast.

The party stopped.

The news was flashing across the screens in the bar. And the sobs began. We stood there for what seemed like hours, as the international news told the story of Diana being trailed by paparazzi through the streets of Paris, and Henri Paul at the wheel.

In one fateful entry of a Parisian Tunnel, Henri Paul’s car hit a pylon in the tunnel and Diana was fatally wounded in that crash, and would later die in Pitie-Salpetnere Hospital in Paris France.

When I was a boy, on July 29, 1981 I remember getting up at the crack of dawn, and watching the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana. That day I had gone to work with my father. And I had a television in the car, that I could plug into the car lighter for power so I did not miss a moment of the wedding ceremony.

Diana was part of my life, she was part of my being. In those years from 1994 to 1998, I was waiting to die from AIDS. I was so very sick back then. But Diana, in her simple loving way, embraced the sick and dying in a way nobody we knew had before.

In her own way, from afar, I knew that she loved me and cared for me, by extension, the men she knew, who were fighting the same battle an ocean away.

The News of Diana did not stop. The American press, at the time, had non stop coverage of all the sordid details of the night before the accident. Parsing every word, scrutinizing every action, looking for that smoking gun, of Who Done It.

September 6th 1997 – was the funeral…

We know today, what Prince William and Prince Harry have said about that day. We’ve heard the stories re-told with insight of all these years, through the eyes and hearts of her sons, William and Harry.

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Watching those young boys walk behind their mothers flag draped casket, being carried by a cortege of horses and guards, was heart wrenching. I just could not imagine what was going through their young minds during that very long and arduous walk to Westminster Abbey.

I’ve walked inside of Westminster Abbey myself when I was in London, many years hence.It is a beautiful space.

The entire world stopped for those few hours to pay our respects to Diana, Princess of Wales, The People’s Princess. The words of her brother, The Earl Spencer, were pointed and biting. The message he sent to the world was this …

“We your family, pledge that William and Harry would grow up without the fear of cameras in their faces, and they would grow up as normal boys, come hell or high water.”

Well, we know today all that happened since that fateful day.

William and Harry, did indeed grow up, into fine young and noble men.

I think to myself, his thought … There in Miami, at a church downtown, was held a memorial mass for Diana, Princess of Wales. While there, memorial books were placed for mourners to sign. I had written letters to both Prince William and Prince Harry. And I stuck those letters, within the book, that would be sent to London, with the millions of others, from all over the world.

I wonder if William and Harry ever got to see any of those letters, and if they read them?

I watched several special presentations herein Montreal, over the past few weeks. And as I listened to them talk, I wondered if they read any of the millions of greetings that were sent to them specifically?

We all know the stories. We all know the speculation and the conspiracy theories.

William and Harry carry their mother’s legacies as best they can. And now that William is a father, and Harry an uncle, one day, Prince George and Princess Charlotte will one day know who their grandmother had been, and how much she loved her boys.

Diana lives in the heart of her children today. And every time I see both William and Harry, I see a little bit of Diana in each of them.

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We honor Diana, The People’s Princess today.

Tuesday: The Four Horsemen

 

A Vision for You …

Never could we recapture the great moments of the past. There was an insistent yearning to enjoy life as we once did and a heartbreaking obsession that some new miracle of control would enable us to do it. There was always one more failure.

Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Hideous Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair.

Unhappy drinkers who read this will understand !

This chapter is one of my favorites. Because at the end, this chapter tells us what we really need to know, before we look into our sober bank, and think about helping others.

It came for me late in the game, this realization. And it took some one much more sober than I was to point it out to me. And I learned the lesson.

Did you know that when we drank the Four Horsemen followed us around, without us ever noticing them, until we took that last drink. Looking back …

Did you also know that the Four Horsemen, follow us around in sobriety as well ?

Shit does not only happen to us while we drank. Shit happens when we get sober too.

And if I am Honest, when shit happened to me in sobriety, not many sober people wanted to know me, help me, or give me any kind of support, one way or another.

You never know when it is going to hit you. That one Event, That one Tragedy, That one Serious Illness, or That Next Drink.

They never warned me that sobriety could be so difficult.

I know, in the past, that I had known several women, in the rooms, who hit the shit storm, and had to muddle their way through ALONE.

Let’s just say that, after the way that people treated me, over the past year, I am a bit more harsh on people. I am a bit more Honest with my words and warnings.

I’ve spent the past fifteen years and eight months of my sobriety listening to people talk. I’ve watched them act. I’ve watched them go back out.

Some returned, many did not.

You think that what I have to say means something other than a warning to:
NOT DO THAT YOURSELF ???

If people put so much meaning into what I write or what I say, you’d think, that everybody would be long sober now.

If words mean everything, and we should taste our words before we SPIT THEM OUT, do you think that I did not think through every word I have written here over the past fifteen years?

This running record of sobriety AND my life experience is the greatest wealth of information someone suffering from the disease of alcoholism may ever read.

If we are not honest with people about everything, and if we sugar coat our words and always say YES to everyone and not rock the boat, and we let our friends continue to do stupid things, then what are we getting sober for ?

If we do not share the messages of HOPE as well as the Messages of WARNINGS, then what do we have to give?

Sobriety is not pretty. It does get ugly. And Sober people can be assholes.

I know this is true. When the four horsemen visited me on that one day that I fell to the ground and sobbed on my knees, a long sober man called me irrational and a child.

Everybody continues to blow smoke up his ass to this day, and every time I see one of those people, they stay well away from me !

I’m tired of being the pretty gay boy who loves everyone and never says the word NO to anyone. I’m tired of having to eat shit from people who turned their backs on me.

I sat in one particular room for a solid year, talking, begging, for someone to step up and help me. Not One Soul Stepped up and Helped me.

People who are long sober, look at me and say nothing.

That’s the God’s honest Truth.

Sobriety is worth every penny you invest in it. Sobriety is NOT a cake walk. Sobriety is not pretty, when it really gets UGLY. And not every sober person wants to be your friend.

People look at me and think I AM CRAZY ??? That nothing I have to say to them matters, and that the way I work my program is stupid and unnecessary ?

The Second time you really have to work for it.

I will tell you that the first time around there was a boy who could not string a week together. And for FOUR YEARS he was stuck in that revolving door. I could not figure out why he could not “Get It.”

And you know, I had to go back out MYSELF, to understand the SLIP properly.

So you think that I waste my time writing here and talking to the air night after night, and you think that what I say is wrong or rude or inappropriate ?

UNBECOMING a SOBER member of A.A. ??

Fuck You.

I worked my ass off from day one. I did EVERY single thing I was told to do, EVERYTHING.

  • I got a home group
  • I did service
  • I made coffee and set up tables and chairs
  • I went to thousands of meetings
  • I worked Steps and More Steps and More Steps Over and Over
  • I went back to university at age 36 and got TWO degrees
  • I got Married in Sobriety
  • I lived 23 years longer than I was supposed to Living with AIDS
  • I am still alive today
  • And I hit FIFTY years old last month

I fucking worked my ass off. And I talk about people, who cannot be bothered to even lift their little finger to get sober. Who moan about God and the Steps and Spirituality.

Oh For Fucks sake … Read the God damned Book

More to the point READ HOW IT WORKS and tell me if you understand the concept of HONESTY ????

YES ???

NO ???

People from other places told me, front and center, that if I did not work my ass off, that sobriety would mean nothing and that I would not learn one God damned thing.

If I did not WORK. And PRAY. And Serve. And Give.

I did that for years and years, and what did I get for that effort ? NADA !

I have a handful of good friends. I can count them on two hands.

I sponsor people, who care about me. I don’t waste my time with takers and users.

Time is precious. And sobriety is precious.

If you are not willing to do the work, then don’t waste my time.

The Four Horsemen are always there. And keeping them away is a full-time job.

TERROR – BEWILDERMENT – FRUSTRATION – DESPAIR

Welcome …

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It seems that people are a little incensed with honesty.

To that end, I have scrubbed all my posts of a sensitive nature and placed them behind password protections. So that you don’t have to read my sober ramblings about town.

This is my blog. My personal space to write. And this is not going to become fodder for others to tell me what I can and cannot write about.

You have a choice, you can Stay or you can Go and never return.

Many people read this blog around the world. And if I take it down that deprives them of my content. If you don’t like what you see here, you are welcome to just leave.

In our Friday meeting the PREAMBLE states,

You can take the message outside this room, but names and personal details stay here.

I share stories and observations. Honestly.

At age FIFTY I have earned my right to say anything I damned well please.

Your sobriety is about you, and what you choose to do with it.

I just share what I see, hear and witness so that my readers can make an informed decision about what kind of sobriety they want for themselves, by reading the troubles and mistakes so many people make over time.

And yes, by the way, I have some time.

I know what worked for me, because I am still sober today.

Because sobriety and meetings are testing grounds. And spending over fifteen years listening to my friends and fellows talk, make stupid decisions, go back out, and really fuck up their lives, taught me all the right things, and to stay away from all the very wrong things in sobriety.

Welcome.

Sunday Sundries: Ottawa Trip

 

It was very moving to see the First People’s of Canada led the parade ahead of our Prime Minster and his guests. The Indigenous community has first place of honor in our Pride Parades this year, both here in Montreal and in Ottawa today.

 

I am home from a Whirl Wind trip to Ottawa to visit my best friend.

I took an early bus out, because I arrived at the station earlier than I had anticipated, so they let me on an early bus.

Pictured above … The Pride Parade in Ottawa this afternoon. The Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fellow Parliamentarians, and The Honorable Kathryn Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, led today’s parade through the streets of the Gay Village in Ottawa.

You can see the Private Security AND the POLICE. And I have to say there was one particularly HUMPY officer on a bike … WOOF !!

As the Prime Minister marched past us, a counter demonstration was coming back at us from the wrong direction, chanting “NO COPS in the PRIDE PARADE …” As many Officers on their bikes were riding with them in the opposite direction.

There were TWO Counter COP protest groups in today’s parade.

If I had the chance, several of them would have had broken limbs, had the cops not been escorting them, against the tide.

Nuff said about those asshole …

Unlike last year, the sun was out and we got quite burned standing on the sidewalk on the sunny side of the street. We took up several positions as the parade came past us.

It was much bigger, and many more groups marched this year. Last year it pissed down rain all afternoon.

All of the Political Parties had groups marching. The Canadian Military Services also marched, and one of their buses was in the parade itself. And we thought this funny that the Military Band that marched in the parade was playing … wait for it …

IT’S RAINING MEN ….

By the Weather Girls. My bestie said to me as they came past that they should have been playing “In the Navy” by the Village People. Both songs would have been appropriate.

We have some seriously good-looking men in uniform.

It was a good day, that ended in a Second Cup over coffee and conversation.

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Friday …

I arrived around 5 o’clock into Ottawa, and we had reservations to see Kontinuum.

Ontario is building a METRO system in Ottawa Proper. due to open next year.

There are two lines, A North – South Branch and an East West Branch running through downtown Ottawa, Several Stations will be servicing Parliament Hill, in the area, almost adjacent to The Hill.

Kontinuum, is a Multi Sensory, Light, Video and Sound show that was built to highlight the Metro System, under ground. The stations are not yet complete. So as we entered the System, we came in on One Side of the station, where we were greeted by a sensory overload light show that began above ground with a movie, sound and light show.

Over the next half hour we moved underground, into that station, as light, sound and video showcased the Metro System. On the Track platform, which hosted both sides of the station, like we have here, an inbound and an outbound track. Sound and light served both sides of the platform.

It was quite dynamic.

I have video of the tunnel, but this blog does not have video functions …

UGH .

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Saturday …

 

Saturday was a full plate kind of day. With my friends Parliament Hill Access, and an invitation from a Member of Parliament, we got in to see Parliament Hill, from the Inside. A beautiful day.

 

Parliament Hill is a beautiful building, with many different rooms. Every part of the building and every sculpture, column, room, carving and marble floor tile, has a specific meaning. Elements from ALL over Canada went into building the site. As Parliament Hill went up, and Canada grew into Confederation, and all the provinces and territories were at some point, all are represented in the building itself.

We saw the House of Commons, which is done in shades of green. Each seat in the room is party specific. The murals on the walls, and the wood carvings around the room as well, all have stories attached to them.

 

The Senate Chamber is Red. And also there as well, there are meanings carved in the wood, the murals in the hall, and as well, in both committee meeting rooms, that are used during the week for consultations and deliberations of House Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Parliament Hill, we Toured the Canadian National War Museum.

The War museum is a HUGE building. And tells the story of the men who served Canada in all of the wars and conflicts, around the world, over time. I do not know, on my grandmothers side of the Canadian branch of family, if anyone in that branch, served in any military campaigns. I need to go look through my family tree. I do have one here at home.

The museum is beautiful and tragic. Sad and Sorrow filled. So many men lost their lives over the century. And the War Museum gives their stories, tells of their service, and honors their sacrifice to a grateful nation that is Canada.

At Parliament Hill, in the Memorial Hall, is listed every soul who lost his life serving our country. We saw the Peace Tower on my last trip.

Myself as well as my best friend, we are both immigrants to Canada.

Both of us Citizens of Canada.

One can get misty eyed while walking those hallowed halls of memory, and think of all those men, who took on the evil of war, many died, but also many came back. And Canada honors their service to our country.

It was an amazing experience. Last Summer when I went to Ottawa, we were both on the hill together, watching a light show on Parliament Hill, and as new citizens, together at the same time, ON the HILL, as they played Oh Canada … I wept.

That was the most important night of my Canadian Life.

I did not get a citizenship meetings, nor a hand shake, nor the anthem, when I got my papers in the mail, just a Welcome to Canada letter, from our Now Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, who was serving as Immigration Minister when I became a citizen.

As we exited the Museum, I said to my friend that, unlike many Canadians, we did not have any blood connection to anyone represented in that museum. But nonetheless, we were moved to tears in the halls, and we honored their memories, by sharing in this tour together.

We Honored all the men and women who served our Country.

Because War is not just a male oriented duty. Because we know that when a man went to war, his wife, girlfriend, family, and community did their fair share of service, IN service of the war and the men fighting over seas.

We all played a part in the success of the men who served, by doing what we could to serve the greater good, when it mattered. And in death, there are MANY memorials scattered all over Ottawa, for us to visit and REMEMBER …

Right across the street from the War Museum a monument to the Holocaust is going up. It will be another beautiful monument to the survivors and all of those who died in the worst genocide the world has ever seen.

The unspoken genocide that took place right here in our Country was the eradication of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. The Government, and we as citizens, are on the road to mending those very valuable relationships, and the people who survived that very hushed genocide of those who were here First. Which is why they are front and center of Pride Parades in Canada this year.

Every time I go to Ottawa, my visits are always educational oriented.

With every step in Ottawa you take, you walk on hallowed ground. Every stone in the ground, every building that is restored or maintained, every monument that goes up, every park you sit in, and every street you walk down, has a connection to the history of the men, women, and indigenous Peoples who inhabited this land, well before the white man came to this area of Ontario.

There are thousands of stories to learn, and to be heard. There are many, MANY lessons to be learned about the history of Canada and her people’s.

Ottawa is a city of Remembrance.

And we are making slow but serious strides to heal the rift that exists between its First People’s and what we took from them, and returning what is rightly theirs to begin with by honoring their stories and their people, from yesterday and today.

And tonight, I am a lot more grateful to the country I call home.

Because of the sacrifice of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this nation and the world at large from the evils and horrors of war.

We also must commend all the men and women and their service to build this wonderful city of Ottawa, and its myriad of museums, so that no story goes untold, nor forgotten.

We Remember …