Monday, August 30, 2010

Is it Monday?

It's funny how even when you're working from home and the day before was exactly the same that the flavour of Monday is still so strong. I'm still sick but now that I've spent 12 hours at the computer my reality sensor is impeded as well.

Did this ever happen to you when you were a kid? My brother had a subscription to MAD Magazine when we were kids - we were both fans although he was a much bigger one. He eventually got Alfred E. Newman tattooed on his bicep. I always read it really fast and then just went back to whatever else I was reading. Some days though, for some reason, I'd pick up an old issue. And then another one. And another one. Until I'd spent around three hours reading MAD magazines. (This may in some way explain my personality on a fundamental level.)

When I'd finally close the last one, because it was dinner time, or I had chores, I'd lift my eyes from the page and the world would resemble a MAD comic for at least a while. This is unlike what happens when, say, you play Tetris for three hours and start seeing the world in different shaped bricks that you feel compelled to put together. The Mad filter always took a long while to fade and while I liked the comics I did not like the feeling that the editor had invaded my brain and I was seeing my world through his whacked out eyes. I was a pretty prim kid and I disapproved of MM. I didn't care for snot jokes or fart jokes or how they seemed (even to a kid) to go for the most obvious joke all the time. Anyway, after almost two straight weeks now I've been working 12-14 hours days on my laptop and I'm experiencing that weird sensation again - but this time the world is more like Firefox and since I spend half of that time moderating Jezebel and Gawker and the other half in a chat room plotting a new website...I feel like the world should have a google app, is what I'm saying. I welcome the implant.

Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims

SALINA, KS— Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world.

Gentries, 48, said he had absolutely no interest in exposing himself to further knowledge of Islamic civilization or putting his sweeping opinions into a broader context of any kind, and confirmed he was "perfectly happy" to make a handful of emotionally charged words the basis of his mistrust toward all members of the world's second-largest religion.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

More exhaustion

After a long weekend catering and planning a revolution, I'm toasted. Tomorrow there'll be a scintillating piece on Friday's event plus the usual media round-up. If anyone reads these posts, please feel free to respond in the comments - 0 comments makes me suspect I'm blogging into nothingness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TV advertising isn't sexist!

I didn't write this but I wish I had

Dear Everyman,

When we complain about men raping, abusing, harassing, and refusing us our human rights, and you come back angrily with "But some men aren’t like that! How dare you imply that I might be like that." Do you not think that the problem might come from the very fact that you are angry at us for complaining, rather than angry at your fellow boys and men for this enduring misogyny? Instead of being furious that we point out that many men do act this way - including men these women trust completely - be angry that there are men that will treat your mother, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend badly purely because they are female. Not only that but they are giving you a bad name, not us.



Media for Thursday

- Nobody understands why I can't watch horror movies. Allie does. (Hyperbole and a Half)

- Adventures in Sass: Lady Gaga gets JUDGED by Crystal Precious
The perennial debate - Lady Gaga: Art or Shitty Pop? Seems like CP thinks both.(The Real Crystal Precious)

- A Handy Guide to Knowing Your Muppet Names (The Daily


I think maybe I watched these two too much as a kid. I still deeply identify with them.

- Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.
by Jane Mayer

So this is where the Tea Baggers are getting all their money! This is the kind of reporting that I want to do. This is the gold crown right here. (The New Yorker)

- Dear god. This is more sad than anything. This guy tried out for Canadian Idol and now he's been arrested for trying to blow something up. Except maybe it was a joke?

(Toronto Star)

- The raging controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” is quintessentially American: free of facts and logic and unapologetically exploitative of emotional issues in the tradition of bare-knuckled partisan politics; yet also an occasion for responsible leaders to call on fellow Americans to live up to their highest ideals, despite the lingering trauma of 9/11 and the ravages of an economic crisis. (Toronto Star)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am rebelling against the tyranny of titles

This is so true.

Well, not really. Today I worked from 8:30am - i.e. two seconds after waking - until 2:30 when I went for a three hour bike ride. Then I came home and made food and worked a little more. I should maybe be putting """ around work - this internship doesn't feel like work. But investigating phone plans was. Jesus.

Actually, biking the seawall was a little like work, much less fun than usual. It felt like one of the last hot days of summer - it's the shortening of the light rays - and every single human and tourist was at the seawall today. I should have known. They've shut down a couple kms of the seawall and re-routed people. Of course people cannot figure out how to navigate the seawall at the best of times, when it's just following a simple concrete line, clearly divided. I really need to just start yelling "BE AWARE YOU ARE MOVING IN THE WORLD" instead of politely trilling my passive-aggressive little bell while silently seething and projecting bitchface while trying to remember how tourists are. I am riding my bike! There are other bicyclists at speeds faster than you can walk! Be aware!

It was good once I got past the Second Beach clusterfuck reroute - I managed to keep up a good pace and only rested a little bit at Third Beach. It was good and hot but not summer hot - it was late summer hot. It's different. I bore down and made it up the hill at a steady pace - I kept imagining a certain man biking with me and tried to put on a good show for him. It worked really well. I think biking by myself so much allows me to coast some. I'm feeling better now. I need to push myself more. I need to write more too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Null (void)

Worked all day. Very little sleep. Brain is mushy. The rest is bitchy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Italian weddings

I learned a valuable lesson last night. When the urge to blog is upon you - stop drop and blog. Riding my bike home from working at the Yacht Club last night I had some great sentences about the wedding I had just worked. 11 hours watching 90 people stop at every traditional wedding checkpoint and show their papers. Hysterical bride? Check. Cringe-inducing speeches? Check. Obnoxious MC? Check.

When we arrived with the gear and got a look at the place, I admit it, I doubted our ability to serve a four course plated dinner plus dessert out of a room the size of a locker room at the Y but god knows we're a mighty crew, a strong crew and a crew that is silently judging you for all your wedding decisions. We never have the set-up time we're supposed to have, we know this, but this one was so ridiculously cliched I actually started to enjoy it. All six of the parents/grandparents whatever who were paying for the wedding came an hour early to announce they were paying for the wedding and so had come to put up gigantic tacky white bows/plate six different kinds of cookies/confirm that the appetizers had fish in them every single time we went past/circle us as we tried to finish setting the tables (with three knives and two forks, thanks event planner! Rot in hell!)

I have developed a strong distaste for people who think they can plan their own weddings. They don't need a wedding planner! They just rip you off! Weddings are easy! You just order food and chairs right? This one wasn't too bad, I sensed the gentle hand of the event planner (Sorry about that earlier remark!) in timing suggestions and what to order, these people could not stick to a schedule. The bride waited until we were just bringing out the first course to declare that she had to go get changed righthtatminute and then she looked at me with eyes that scorched my own and ran to the back, to tearfully start demanding of everyone within 10 feet where her dress was. Well, we didn't have the damn thing, thank god, and eventually the manager of the place, with a look in her eyes I found very sympathetic (i.e. controlling herself from starting to do shots at the bar)found the thing. This is what was once known as "changing into the reception dress." The idea seems to be to show up to the reception in it rather than waiting for the salad to be served and then bolting. Maybe she was afraid of getting salad dressing on it.

This was a very odd bride compared to the ones we normally work with. We're an expensive company, okay, most people who hire us have probably had catering before...I don't know, they dress a certain way. This wedding dress....

I am pleased to report these people could eat. The weight of the uneaten food at some events can really tax your wrists. Some of the weddings we have the menu isn't really a room-pleaser. Just a tip, if three-quarters of your guests are going to be from Mainland China, don't opt for the pasta bar. That just ensures that when the (small) suckling pig gets there your guests will feel compelled to fight to the death over its carcass.

We served, cleared, served, cleared, served, cleared - salad, brie, dinner - and then we had to wait for them to cut the cake. Nobody was in a hurry to cut this cake. All the photographers - pros and amateurs - were setting up and fussing with lighting and angles and stuff and this one guest, with a furtive yet beautifully innocent and thoughtful look assessed the state of the cake with an outstretched forefinger. She met some resistance so she poked harder. Determined to somehow make a dent in that cake she really gave it some effort, utilizing back muscles and a proper poking stance and everything. I watched her - I should have stopped her, but what can you do with someone so openly poking a cake? An adult, I should add. Luckily, the cake was styrofoam. A three-tier, chocolate-brown, small to medium-sized cake with a Mountie on top. One Mountie and his horse. I'm hoping that wasn't the product of weeks of feverish debate. The woman looked at me and I nodded. "Yep," I said. "Styrofoam." She didn't know what to do. I looked away politely.

They cut that cake though. Styrofoam decoy cakes are evidently a thing and when the time came the groom maneuvered the knife while his bride sort of numbly held on and he managed to poke out the back panel that exists to be filled with real cake so the happy couple can remove said cake and schmear it on each other if they feel the need. They did. I had been hoping a three-inch stripper would come out of that hatch in the fake cake. There are no surprises left after dozens of weddings.

The guests started hitting the booze in earnest, we got to eat, the two kids there slept on chairs put together by their mothers for them to nest in. The dance floor opened up and the usual litany of dances were danced. I've never actually been present for a first dance to "It's a Wonderful World". I knew it had happened but I had assumed that had all taken place in the 80s. The wedding dj - I think he brought his own time warp with him. I wonder if it's because we do so many Jewish weddings - this one had a totally different flavour. "That's Amore" was a big hit on the dance floor.

I was surprised to see the time-warped dj briskly segue into some crazy rap songs - there was some song about girls doing shots? so they would suck the singers' cocks? I saw an old lady work her shit to the song. Here, I found it for you.

The we loaded up the three tons of crap, packed the van, the van drove away and I biked home. The end.

Theme Songs for Sundays

Sunday Stories

Another refugee ship arrives on Canada's shores -- carrying Tamil refugees fleeing a country scarred by decades of grisly atrocities, on both sides of a protracted civil war -- and once again there erupts a mean-spirited fury worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge.

There are demands that the refugees be arbitrarily refused the right to land; that they be given food and sent back to whatever fate awaits them; that their ship should have been intercepted on the high seas; that they be diverted to other countries in South Asia, as if Pakistan with 14 million internal refugees from floods or Afghanistan, the world's leading source of asylum-seekers at the moment, were in any position to help.

There's resentment about providing medical treatment; resentment because we have dreadful conditions on Indian reserves that need to be addressed first (but haven't for 100 years); resentment because homeless people camp out on the streets of our major cities; resentment because the refugees are to be fed and housed while their pleas are assessed; resentment that Canada's constitution guarantees everyone the right to "life, liberty and security of the person."

Why such rage directed at such a minuscule group? These 492 refugee claimants amount to about 1.3 per cent of the refugees who come to Canada each year. Asylum seekers from Sri Lanka are way down the list both now and historically.

Read more

Sunday Stories

Let’s face it. You can’t blame the NDP or anyone else enjoying the drubbing the Liberals are getting from Bill Vander Zalm and co. It is incredibly fun to watch.

There is no question that the drubbing is well deserved. Whatever one thinks of the merits of an HST versus the PST it replaced, it was brought in by the Liberals right after the election to reduce the multi-billion dollar deficit they said they wouldn’t have, with a tax they said they had no plans of implementing. And, without any discussion or debate, they shifted over a billion dollars of taxation from business to households. Nasty stuff.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Links

Keith Olbermann provides some badly needed context for the "Ground Zero" "mosque".

Thursday Links

Shut up, go away, and also, stop lying, or at least tell your politicians to stop lying.
It might help you recognize the truth, which is that you're wrong, and
you're attacking vital American freedoms by going against this Mosque.
The truth is that you're terrorists in your own right. You are striking
against America by going against ...this mosque. You are, in effect, almost
as bad as the ones who killed people on 9/11. Okay, not quite, not
really, but kind of, because you're fighting against what 9/11 victims
died for: religious freedom, which said terrorists don't have and don't want anyone else to have.
But now you have a map to see how wrong you are, okay? Now: Fuck you.
Fuck you and shut up, you assholes. Shut up and leave New York alone.

Thursday Links

France is planning to deport 700 foreign Roma (Gypsies) as part of a crackdown on illegal camps in the country by the end of August. It comes after clashes last month between travellers and police in the town of Saint Aignan.

Thursday Links

EDMONTON — Twin 16-year-old brothers Joey and T.J. Turcotte spent frantic minutes scouring a dark Edmonton park last fall, certain a woman was being attacked somewhere among the trees and bushes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My brain is mushy - it's late and I just finished watching True Blood. I tried to have a normal summer day today but I couldn't deal with it. Biked to Kits Pool and swam and read for a couple of hours but I was too damn tired to enjoy it. It must be a West Coast thing, thinking how much you love the heat and when we finally get some just not understanding what hot actually is. And every ex-Ontario-an is assuring me it's not even hot. Well, I'm still running a slight fever - that's a good enough excuse for me.

One thing I like about biking, when I can get my ego out of it, is observing how people organize themselves when bikes and pedestrians have to mingle on the same stretch of pavement. I had my usual thoughts in the usual places - that there should be a bike lane, people need to keep right, the usual. I wonder what it says about different types of people how they respond to bikes in this situations. Some people are alert and move in and out of traffic as bikes come by, some people resolutely stick to the line they've chosen to walk, some people are not paying any attention at all weaving around unpredictably, kids do their thing, old people in scooters use the bike path and glare around like they're waiting for somebody to challenge them, and snotty teenage girls walk three or four abreast cultivating a look of boredom that doesn't change when you have to almost brush past them to get by. When I am in a good humour I find this all amusing. Today a lot of it irritated me. My de-raging mantra this year has been "Share the Pavement!" When people are wandering all over the place, letting their dogs run lose right in my path and looking surprised that other people are in their general area and roller-bladers are flailing all over the place I fantasize about a giant admonishing patch on my backpack or a decal on a t-shirt: Share. The. Pavement. SHARE IT! Look around, be present, understand you're only participating in one of four or five or six different modes of transportation on the same path.

I remember being fascinated with that bit of sociological lore that has become a truism. You know the one, it's how people arrange themselves in an elevator to keep a precise distance from one another. I never actually read the study - I'm sure it was done in a post-industrial Western society - but I've always liked that idea, that people will unconsciously strive to keep equidistant from each other. On some stretches of some bike paths on some days I can see it work. Bikes passing on the left, pedestrians keeping right and relaxed in the knowledge that everyone is moving to the same beat, it resembles an improvised but orderly parade. Then a tourist or a child or a confused or rebellious pedestrian will step all over the place and the rhythm gets broken. It's fun to watch.

Bits of news from the Haitian election campaigns are making it into the U.S. news cycle. It's unbelievable how things are presented - one of the candidates, Charles Henry Baker, is a sweatshop owner in Haiti, notorious for the dreadful conditions of his manufacturing plants and the pitiful wages he pays his workers, as well as being one of the shadow figures behind the coup d'etat that deposed Aristide. The lack of context around the reporting is astounding - he is mostly just referred to as a businessman. Is it too political or something to actually mention some of the pertinent details around his bid? His skin colour is among the lightest in Haiti, along with the other 5% of the political and economic elite in Haiti. This is, of course, never mentioned on any commentary around the election. If Wyclef Jean wasn't running for president none of this would even penetrate the dim consciousness of the American media machine.

I read Going Home at the pool today and i bought one of the third or fourth books of Simone de Beauvoir's autobiography Hard Times so I am reading two at once. I frequently do this, I prefer to have three or four good reading options available at any time so I can pick and choose according to my mood. It strikes me that I am fuzzy-headed and tired so instead I shall finish the last chapter of P.D. James' Cover her Face and see if that takes me to sleep.

I wonder how long I can do this every day before I simply write "Sentence". At least a month, I hope.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not quite

No, I'm not done for the day yet. I am reading today, I'm reading Going Home and this is a passage i particularly like:

"The drum beat all through the nights of my childhood stronger even than the frogs and the crickets, ultimately stronger even than the piano, for when I woke in the morning with the sun standing over the chrome mountain, a single, tired, indefatigable drum was still tapping down the hill. And there came a time when my mother could not trouble to get the piano tuned.
But waking in the house near the railway lines, sweating with heat, half-sick with the sweet smell of the decaying fruit and the vegetation outside, it was to see Cynthia and her mother standing together in the corner of the room, hands folded, heads bent in prayer. Then, with a deadly look at her husband Mrs. Millar would say in her womanly resigned voice, 'You can't have bacon and eggs - not on what you earn.'
I was badly homesick. I hated that house. I longed for my cool, humorous, stoical mother, who might sentimentally play Chopin, but would afterwards slam down the piano lid with a flat: "Well, that's that. I wanted, too, to lay certain questions before my father.
When I got home I went in search of him, managed to distract his attention from whatever philosophical problem was engaging him at the time, and remarked that I had had a lovely time at the Millars'.
'That's good,' he said, and gave me a long, sideways look.
'They have grace before every meal,' I said.
'Good lord,' he said.
'Mr. Millar goes to the bar every night and comes home drunk, and Mrs. Millar prays for his soul.'
'Does she now?'
There was a pause, for I was very uncomfortable.
'Well,' he said, 'what is it?'
'Mrs. Millar came to the verandah one morning and said in a loud voice to Cynthia...'
'Cynthia? Who's she?'
'Of course you know, she's been here to stay.'
'Has she? I suppose so. Lord, you don't mean that girl -- very well, go on.'
'She said in a loud voice to Cynthia, "I've been praying Cynthia. O Cynthia, our horrible, horrible bodies!"'
I was hot all over. Never had anything made me as uncomfortable and wretched as that moment. But my father had shot me a startled look and gone red. He struggled for a moment, then dropped his head on the chair-back and laughed.
I said: 'It wasn't funny. It made me sick.'
'Lord, lord, lord,' said my father, lifting his head to give me an apologetic, embarrassed look between roars. 'Lord, I can see the old hen.'
'Very well,' I said, and walked away with dignity.
I was furious at him for laughing; I had known he would laugh. I had come home a week earlier than was arranged to hear that laugh. And so I was able to put that unpleasant household behind me and forget it. My father could always be relied on in these matters.