Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: Stephen King

Long live the public library!

“Who goes to libraries anymore?”

That question was posted on a Wasaga Beach news and commentary Facebook page,  adding to a long thread about the downtown plan and a proposed new location for our library.

The current one (pictured above) is tiny. Not “so small you have to go outside to change your mind” but cramped. The aisles are narrow and you’re constantly having to say “excuse me” or turning sideways to let a fellow reader pass.

The biography section is uncomfortably close to the computer station. I’m always back to back with a seated patron who’s taking advantage of free Internet. There are times when l feel like the manager of a call centre.

I’m not checking out whatever you’re checking out, honest!


Despite all that, our library has a surprisingly good collection.

Since transitioning from radio employee to freelance writer, my morning routine has included a lot more reading time, from bios and self help books (like how to be a successful freelance writer) to popular fiction.

I always have a novel on the go.

Wasaga Beach lacks anything resembling a bookstore. Chapters is 45 minus away, in Barrie. You can only purchase books at Walmart, groceries and drug stores. Their selection is severely limited. Best sellers from the same 10 authors, or so it seems.

Then again, I’ve read almost every Stephen King story and few authors have been more popular than the man who gave us The Shining, It, Carrie and dozens more.


I’m not knocking Dan Brown, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, David Baldacci and others who top the best seller list year after year. They’re all masterful storytellers who keep us turning the page to find out what happens next.

Walmart can’t devote much space to books, and these days even flea markets have fewer vendors offering paperbacks. Over the years I’ve found many books at the Elmvale Flea Market. The pickings there were pretty slim during the summer of 2018.

Danielle Steel? Of course. She’s as perennial as bargain bed sheets, Harley Davidson t-shirts and cheap sunglasses, oh yeah!

David Mitchell? Not likely, even though Stephen King recommended “Slade House.”

So, guess where I found this one?

My local library.

For free.

Okay, you are required to take them back after 3 weeks (with the option to renew online), but we are so fortunate local libraries still exist.

And just a few blocks away!

Sure, I’ve ordered dozens of titles from Amazon but, even with the discounts that come with an annual subscription, that’s at least $10 spent on a book that will eventually collect dust.

My current, totally free checkouts are “Slade House” (I’m a third of the way through it…highly recommended), Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room” and this one by Naomi Klein.

It’s not fiction but a guide for surviving Trump, which makes it as scary as anything Mr. King could imagine.

Three great reads, for free.

The construction of our new, bigger and better library could be a few years away so that will mean many more hours of squeezing past my fellow story-loving residents, and trying not to appear like I’m hovering over those internet users, but so what?

Long live the local library!




Tay Tay and the lost power of persuasion

I’m getting carpal tunnel from the frequent clicking of the “hide” button on Facebook posts and scrolling past offensive memes and links from questionable sources.

Yes, I’ve composed political posts to express my frustration that the other side doesn’t get it and holy hell, if they only read my linked article they’ll see the light!

No. They won’t.

And, on the flip side, no, I won’t click on such posts.

So, why stay connected with folks who cause me to hide their posts? Maybe I think they are well meaning or just basically decent people who don’t share my views.

You do not want to be persuaded. You are set in your ways and thanks to social media, all you see is content that supports your views and attacks the other side.

Trying to convert anyone is a waste of key strokes. At least in terms of politics. Post another cat video. Give me your review of Bohemian Rhapsody.

I thought it was entertaining as a tribute to the music of Queen but as a biography…um…not that great.

Then again, what seems to bring the greatest satisfaction to keyboard warriors is being about to gloat over the enemy’s bewilderment and failures. Your guy lost, you idiot! How does it feel being such a loser?


Okay, the photos and links below are slanted liberal because I have always voted Liberal or NDP. I grew up in Toronto and my first MPP was Stephen Lewis in Scarborough West. He set the bar so high for what I felt an elected representative should be and when my Dad was unemployed, Lewis met with my Father to help him out.

Dad found another job and I don’t know if Lewis played any kind of role in that, other than supporting his constituent, but I do know Joseph O’Mara thought the world of Stephen Lewis.


If you’re conservative you may have called them “libtards” or dismissed them as no-nothing Hollywood elites and clueless singers.

Fair enough.

I find it harder to enjoy Cat Scratch Fever because of Ted Nugent’s political views. Love his music, the man…well, let’s move on.


Taylor Swift endorsed the Democratic senate candidate in Tennessee.

He lost, leading Stephen Colbert to say that Tay Tay didn’t have much sway sway. Good on Taylor for speaking out and trying but even a pop superstar couldn’t change political stripes or convince fence sitters.

If you follow Rob Reiner on Twitter you’ll get tweets about his movies but, to paraphrase his character from This is Spinal Tap, you’ll get more, a lot more.

Mostly anti-Trump rants.

As a small L liberal and someone who still feels like Trump’s election was just a bad dream…a really awful nightmare worthy of Stephen King (more on him later)…I have cringed, nodded, cursed and gnashed my teeth along with Reiner.

But he’s preaching to the converted.

Somehow I don’t see Republican supporters in Tennessee saying, “Hey, the director of ‘When Harry Met Sally’ can’t stand Trump, maybe I should rethink this!”

Katie Herzog wrote this terrific piece for The Stranger.

The main point she makes is, Republicans will vote Republican based on their long-standing beliefs and the idea of women supporting each other based on gender alone is not realistic.

“White women are not a monolith. We don’t all know each other. We don’t all go to the same church or yoga class. Some of us, in fact, don’t go to church or yoga at all. 

And now, without further ado, not so constant reader, the master of horror fiction, Stephen King.

I’ve read almost every King novel and, as is the case with Rob Reiner’s tweets, I enjoy King’s constant ridiculing of his President. I mean, it’s Stephen Fucking King, why wouldn’t his tweets be awesome?

And again, preaching to the choir.

Whether it’s Tay Tay, Rob Reiner, George Clooney or Uncle Stevie (as King sometimes refers to himself) the reaction from the right is to be less of a fan or even boycott the artist.

“Clooney’s a dam libtard and he was a shitty Batman, too.”

George wasn’t well suited to be the Caped Crusader but even a super hero can’t change minds, especially closed ones.


So, the next time you post a meme calling Justin Trudeau an idiot or think I should read a piece from an overly-conservative website or an out-and-out nutjob commentator or blogger, I’m hiding it.

If it is from a Facebook group that has “pride” at the end of its name, I’m hiding them as well. Stop pestering me with conspiracy theories and opinions masquerading as news.

I’m a journalism graduate. A big supporter of the media and that includes reputable conservative-leaning publications like The National Post and Macleans.

There’s a huge difference between a right wing paper or magazine that still employs dedicated, fact-checking journalists and educated pundits and the batshit crazy sycophants and propagandists at Fox News.

You aren’t going to change my opinion on politics. I won’t change yours, or even attempt to do so.

I’m not saying you should stop posting and ranting. It’s your right. You feel the need to vent and you’ll get plenty of support from like-minded individuals.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some animal rescue videos to watch.

Who has time to read? I do

A few weeks ago, I purchased two books at the Elmvale Flea Market for two bucks.

A toonie in total. For my non-Canadian readers, that’s a two-dollar coin.

The vendor put the books in a shopping bag and said, “I hope you enjoy those.”



It used to be the flea market had several displays of used books, table after table and box after box. Mostly popular fiction by Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Stephen King, Dan Brown as well as Twilight and Harry Potter.

And Fifty Shades of whatever.

On this day, maybe a few vendors remained. The pickings were pretty slim and it made me think, do people read much anymore?

Not on Facebook.

Who has time to read what they are reposting? So much easier to find a meme or suspicious (well, not to them) link and exclaim, OMG, look at this! I’m so outraged. I have no idea what it really means or if it’s real but it supports my views.

Holy hell.

In the summer of 1981 I was working in the mail room of Pilot Insurance in Toronto. I spent my lunch hours in the company lounge and to my delight, Pilot had a collection of books. I’d become a Stephen King fan and lo and behold, Salem’s Lot was on the shelf.

I was 19. A female coworker old enough to be my mother said she’d never seen a teenager that was such an avid reader.

And, if you’re a King fan, you know he regards his fans as “constant readers.”

Go back a few years prior and my Dad was shocked to discover Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” in my bedroom. He hadn’t read it, of course. It was scandalous at the time, featuring Jong’s “zipless fuck.” I was 17. Any kind of fuck would have been much appreciated.

Dad became aware of FOF through Newsweek. He had a subscription. I read about Jong’s controversial novel in that same magazine, saw it in a used book store and thought it might be worth buying.

It was.

Long before Youporn and even VCRs, many of us young lads were, um, inspired by the written word when we weren’t checking out the Playboy collections hidden by our friend’s dads in dressers or under the mattresses.

Stephen King wrote in men’s magazines like Cavalier before he hit it big with “Carrie.”

Though I didn’t really read Playboy “for the articles”until my college years.


By the way, the two books I took home from Elmvale were murder mysteries and I highly recommend both.

‘Piece of My Heart,” by Peter Robinson, and Val McDermid’s “The Grave Tattoo.”

I’m often annoyed by the “share if you agree” posts, surveys and lists on Facebook. Many are clickbait. No value to you, but someone thousands of miles away gets a few bucks for your viewings and repostings.


My cousin Vincent Knowles circulated one about books we’ve found important or inspiring. So here’s one of mine. Read it as a teenager, loved the movie version as well.

So…let’s take a U-turn back to Facebook.

It used to be the only way to express your opinion to the general public was through a letter to the editor in a local or national newspaper. They decided if your take on things was worthy of publishing and called you to verify that you were who you said you were.

Now, any lout has a voice.

The Town of Wasaga Beach holds an annual Remembrance Day event the week prior to November 11th. Why? Because Wasaga doesn’t have a legion branch and the legion in Stayner puts on an additional ceremony to salute the beach’s veterans and their families. They don’t have the resources to hold events on the same day so let me repeat, it’s an EXTRA event.

But that didn’t stop some brainless twit ranting on Facebook about how wrong it was for the town to NOT have an event on 11/11 (the town library does its own event on the actual day).

And…maybe you knew this was coming? They blamed Justin Trudeau.

Read. Fucking read. Anything.

I’m captivated by the HBO’s, “Sharp Objects,” starring Amy Adams. Love that turned up nose (and everything below it). Became aware of the series online and eagerly anticipated it because I had read the book.

Written by Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl” and a novel that would likely be an even better miniseries, “Dark Places.”

Flynn was a writer for Entertainment Weekly and you know who’s letter to the editor was accepted by EW?


I was defending Canadian actors and singers though I may have taken a shot at Celine Dion. Her career went on.

However, Joseph O’Mara (my Dad) had a letter to the editor published in the Toronto Star way back in in the ’70s when Justin’s Father was the Prime Minister.





Creativity fueled by booze

“Drinking is the curse of the writing classes,” said the great playwright and author Oscar Wilde.

I count myself incredibly lucky that, from my days as an adolescent when my parents allowed me to have a glass of wine with holiday meals, to the present, alcohol has always had the desired effect on me and nothing more.

It makes me feel happy, relaxed and I can consume as much as I want (my most recent hangover was Sunday morning) but I can also go days without beer or wine.


My Dad loved Oscar Wilde and I’m sure whatever wit I have came from him and the writer who, when asked at customs if he had anything to declare, said, “Only my genius.”


As I type this, I have had three pints of beer, with two charming ladies from my volleyball group, Rachel and Pam. Cheers!

And there is a glass of Jackson-Triggs cab-merlot next to this keyboard.

Not to make light of alcoholism or addiction. Booze has destroyed careers, marriages and ended countless lives. I’m not advocating abuse of any kind. I sympathize with any person who has battled those demons.

But, from Ernest Hemingway to Hank Moody, the literary process has often been powered by ales and spirits.

imageAhh, Hank. I loved “Californication.” David Duchovny played a novelist whose debut novel was a hit with critics and got turned into a lacklustre movie. Hank spends the series trying to come up with a second novel and reluctantly writing screenplays for Hollywood drivel while succumbing to his additions to alchohol, drugs and women, often times all three in the same evening.

Ian Fleming (James Bond) preferred martinis, naturally. F. Scott Fitzgerald enjoyed gin rickeys. Truman Capote, large vodka and orange, and Stephen King, beer (plus a coke problem that he kicked).


And, the journalist whose alchohol and drug consumption set the high (or low) standard, Hunter S. Thompson, drank bourbon with ginger beer. And fought off imaginary bats while driving around Las Vegas after downing all kinds of cocktails and pills.

I research and compose my radio show under the influence. Thumb through rock and roll bios and type on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, then record my voicetracks and mix them with the tunes the following days. I have done the prep work totally sober and the results have been less creative. As I said earlier, wine loosens me up and connections magically appear.

Little Richard to the western swing days of KD Lang? Ahah. A preference for same-sex relations.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Hang on. Have to fill my glass before typing the next part.

There. Cheers.

From what I was able to find on the Internet…hey, it’s the main source of information according to Mr. “7-11” who has “the best words”….Ernest Hemingway didn’t drink while writing, but summed it up nicely with these words: “Drinking is a way of ending the day.”

I’ll drink to that!



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