Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I had to pick, I think I'd have to be Samantha; Chuck Berry's only number one hit single

When did the "Sex and the City" movie become the defining moment for feminism?

I know, I know, some people in the U.S. Democratic primaries listed 'gender' as the main factor in voting against Hillary. But, you know, in that vote you're either sexist or racist, pick your poison. On the hierarchy of things you don't want to be in the U.S., I think sexist is slightly more acceptable than racist. At the end of the day, it comes down to who's more riot prone. Every time black Americans get really upset, something's gonna burn. Every time American women get upset, the shelves of Winners gets picked clean.

That was a joke.

But it was a joke that might lead you to expect my reaction to the "Sex and the City" movie, which is a shrug of the shoulders and a quote from Chuck Berry, "You live how you wanna live!" (My Ding-A-Ling, Chuck Berry, Composer: D. Bartholomew, Album: The London Chuck Berry Recordings, Released 1972, Trivia: Chuck Berry's only number 1 hit) Which is the most profound thing I every heard him say. The second most profound being, "Santa, make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down." (Run, Run Rudolph, Chuck Berry, Composer: M. Marks & J. Brody, 45 single, Released: 1952, Trivia: One of the first songs to use the word 'freeway.')

The problem is that to some people, the measure of your passion for Sex and the City is inversely related to your bias against women. As if they took the outdated feminist battle cry "the personal is the political" and applied it to our desert island movie list. Because I didn't see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I hate all 13 year old girls? I doubt many of the women lining up to see Sex and the City would dream of setting foot in the Iron Man screening, next door. What does that mean for the presidential ambitions of technologically unrealistic battle armour?

It comes down to this. People who like the show will watch the movie. People who didn't watch the show, won't. I don't think too many people have said, "I wonder what this whole Star Trek hoopla is about, I think I'll check out Star Trek 8." No, I think by the time a series has been on the air for a number of years, very few people are still on the fence about it. I'm sure there are some people, male and female, who have refused to give it a chance, but most people I know watched at least two or three episodes and have a pretty good idea if a 2 and a half hour version is for them.

It's a shame that there are actual cases of sexism, racism, classism, homophobia... ism, whateverisms out there. Do we really have to politicize a popcorn movie to this extent? And you what, its okay if you like it and I don't.

I'll even take it one step further. Just because you bought your tickets a week before it opened and have asked every girl you've ever hung out with to go with you doesn't necessarily make you a shallow, proto-lesbian, image obsessed, daddy complex holding, prick teasing, fascistic, femistista who complains about the glass ceiling while showing off the size of her engagement ring.

There. Isn't that big of me?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Have You Hugged Your Writer Today?

I talked about the flipside a little, which really is more interesting, but today I want to talk about the rare moments of recognition. And I’m not talking about awards - fuck awards. There’s always politics involved with awards. And worse, by definition they exclude those who are honoured just to be nominated.

But those moments when someone has read something that dropped, bloody and wailing, from some forgotten recess of your mind, and then actually had something nice to say. Not polite. But actually sincere and heartfelt.

That’s a high that never fades. It’ s worse than heroin. At least with heroin you can nail shut the door and then they make a movie about it with a cool sound track.

Wow, am I a downer or what? Here I am, trying to make a nice little post about feeling proud of a an accomplishment, and I go right to the horrors of drug addiction.

Um… did you like it?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Please, do Not Enjoy the Ass

I had what I consider a quintessential Toronto moment the other day.
There’ s a tiny sex shop a Queen Street West, called the Condom Shack, which seems to somehow make its money from giggling, window shopping, teenaged tourists. Today, there were three twelve year old girls giggling at the flavoured condoms.

Now, in most other cities they’d be left alone, maybe acknowledged with an urbane roll of the eyes, but not in Toronto. In Toronto they have to be “educated.”

“Are you looking at the Japanese condoms?” the sales girl asks. The three teeny boppers clearly have no idea which condoms are the Japanese ones, nor how they should explain this to the very knowledgeable staff. Who continues, “They are twice as strong as our condoms, with a 12 percent increase in lateral elasticity.” The girls try to process this, but are having difficulty getting past the fact the condom’s flavour is marked as ‘tuna belly.’

I was distracted by a life sized, perfect replica of a woman’s lower two holes. It was accompanied by a sign reading. “Please do not touch the ass.” The message was clear, this is an expensive piece of sexual equipment and not a source of amusement. It is not meant to be enjoyed, unless by a government certified pervert. Application forms available from the government of Canada website.

Remember, this is a province (run by Toronto) in which, until very recently, you had to fill out a form in a jail like bunker to buy government approved alcohol.

As we left, the sales woman was explaining “The Keeper” to the increasingly uncomfortable young girls. “It’s not a tampon. It’s smaller and you don’t insert it as far. It is a cup and it collects the... uh... menstruated liquid and you remove it, empty it and reinsert.”

Toronto: Sucking the life out of fun since the 18th Century.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

There will be Boobies! Keep reading...

Here's a word to web people trying to sell to the kids.

Lay off the emoticons.

I'll admit to using smilely faces often enough. :) Occasionally I'll use a winky face - ;). And I do think that some of the things people do with the letters are imaginative, like this one which is supposed to mean, 'I am the Walrus" (:3=

Here's my point - there's no need for you to program in all kinds of functions and graphics which stand in for something someone can just type. And there's also need need for you to transform what I type to whatever you think it is. When I use a smiley face, I want it to stay as text - I don't want it to turn into something that could turn up in the next Forest Gump movie.

I can't tell you the sinking feeling I get when the smiley face I just typed starts to come alive, slowly twisting its head sideways like some mutating alien that has taken over my cat. It turns yellow, grows a head, and becomes some otherwordly thing - taunting me from the place I had used to actually type something meaningful. I didn't ask it to that. And it certainly didn't ask me.

And then there's those flashing banners which promise millions of 'em, available for download! Yay! People will finally be able to tell when I'm being sarcastic!

Just stop it. Yes, I know some people use them. But we don't go hanging 'paint by numbers' canvases in museums, do we?

If people don't have a list of predetermined emotions to choose from, maybe then it might be one small step towards people actually having to think for themselves. You may have noticed that there's no standard, yellow smiley face emoticon for "The consumer capitalist corporate system is stealing my soul."

Don't let 'em tell you how to feel.

And now, as a reward to my long time readers, I present you with some boobies. Enjoy the boobies!


Nice, huh? ;)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just like old people...

I spend a lot of time staring into space.

Writers should not be allowed driver's licenses.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Two questions

Office politics.

I think many people have a visceral reaction to that phrase. I'm sure there are some people who love it, but I can't say I know any of them.

What makes me clench up when I hear it is that it all boils down to this - Don't be emotional, or in the slightest way impulsive. Be a good machine, a good cog in the wheel. React in the way that's expected. When it comes to work relationships, it would be best if you didn't even think - just adopt all the preprogrammed responses.

It drives me nuts.

I read somewhere the other day that the biggest problem with new hires is the time it takes them to adapt to the corporate environment. Look at the buzz words in that sentence, but what does it mean? It takes time to be programmed into the proper responses in a new job.

And that whole attitude of, "I wouldn't want my banker to be wearing a sweat suit." Huh? Would you rather a guy in a suit lose your money, or a guy that looks like a slob make you more?

I know I'm not breaking new ground by complaining about shallow attitudes in corporate workplaces, and middle class jobs. And I'm not going to take up all of your time by whining about it. But I do want to ask one simple question...

Is it honest?

Okay, two questions...

Is it healthy?

Monday, May 12, 2008

What's Manderin for 'Plausable Deniability?'

Seen on a sign at Markham's Pacific Mall...

"Buy TV DVD's Here! Ours are copied straight from the original!"

Friday, May 9, 2008

You just got to believe...

I know a number of very passionate people. I'm not talking about the sex (there, that'll help my Google page rank) and I'm not talking about pretentious artists who talk about passion like it was a knock off Prada.

I'm talking about people who, before too long in any conversation, start talking loudly and pounding on the table. You see, most people's passion comes out in anger at the opposite of whatever it is they are passionate about.

And when it comes to this type of passion, I'm at a disadvantage. I used to be angrier. I used to be the one pounding on the table, going off on what what right and what was wrong. But I made a fatal mistake.

I started reading history.

And not just the TV Guide "Battle of blank" version of history, where what's important is who won (because, you understand, for the most part they're the good guys). I'm talking about the kind of day to day living history, that's what attracts me. I want to know how people lived, how they thought, and most importantly what led them to live and think that way.

And there's the problem. It turns out, the more you read about people's lives, everywhere, the more you start to realize that people are people. That through out history, some have wanted to tear it all down and start again, and others thought that the slightest change was the end of civilization (and that things were better in their day). For hundreds of years, people have fought an ongoing, bitter battle over whether the little mark should go in front of or behind the 's'. Plural or possessive? Long rants about the collapse of society hidden in the single space or double space after sentences. Years ago, double negatives in English were the norm, and now it is the mark of the devil. Text messages and online abbreviations are the current mark of the end times.

I just read a thing where a guy got really upset because in his day, teenagers benefited from long phone conversations with their friends, instead of announcing things over the internet. What do you want to bet I could dig up a similar rant from the sixties and seventies about how bad long telephone conversations were for teens, instead of hanging out at the soda counter, like in their day?

It has been said that those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. I say those who know they're quotations are doomed to hear them over and over. So what happens to those who do know their history? Are they somehow free from this cycle?

What they are free from is being able to pound the table and make a dramatic statement of right and wrong. Because almost every view point you could hold can be weakened by a knowledge of where that view came from. Most of what we believe, especially the things we believe the most, are fictions, made up to keep us sane.

I've been reading this book about authenticity in music, about how almost all musical genres are defined in some measure by their attitude towards a quest for authenticity. How blues music isn't considered authentic unless played by a black male. How rock is judged based on how authentic the performer seems, who self revealing they seem to be. How disco was deliberately inauthentic, and how that enraged people. But the quest for authenticity in a 3 minute song is a fiction, and can never be truely realized. But what the audience is looking for is something that perfectly conforms to their expectations, while still surprising and engaging them.

Where do those expectations come from? Personally and culturally? They're manufactured, intentionally. You have to be introduced to them by an outside source - and this source is often from someone who wants to convince you to think a certain way.

The question you have to ask yourself is, do you judge what you're told based on the source? Or do you take a close, skeptical look at what you're told, including learning tis history, to see whether it makes sense to you? I'm willing to bet you know which side I come down on.

Man, that's a long post, isn't it? Of the two or three people who actually read this, how many got this far? And you read all this way and I'm not even going to wrap things up for you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

To the girls sitting in the cafe who think they are in The Hills

Know what? Twenty years from now everything “Green” and “Organic” will seem as trite and cheesy as mood rings and pet rocks.

I had a pet rock.

The craze swept through St Thomas elementary like Britney’s paparazzi.Looking back, I’m very curious about how it started. Did someone’s mom tell them about the idea? Cause this was the 80’s, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the world had long ago moved on to only wearing one glove.

Here’s a question to those readers in therapy due to being a young adult in that period... what did you do with the other glove? Did you only buy the one? Did you have a drawer bulging over with sequined left gloves? Did you go halfsies with a buddy and carefully schedule glove wearing days so no one would catch on? When the craze died out, were there sad little empty glove stores everywhere?

The kids in my school only seemed to have their pet rocks for a short time. Two or three days, it seems. They picked ones that looked like little faces. I picked up a rectangular stone with a chipped bit on it. I took a red pen and coloured in the “mouth” and called it Sharky. My pet rock was a disembodied shark head. Make of that as you will.

Long after the craze had passed in my fellow 4th Graders, I held on to Sharky.For a while I held him proudly in my hand during recesses, but gradually I became more and more embarrassed of my attachment to this good natured yet savagely visage inanimate companion. First, I kept him hidden in my pocket during recess. But soon I began to fear discovery, so I kept him in my desk, but close at hand along with my pens and pencils. I would touch him tenderly but secretly from time to time. But then I feared what would happen if he was discovered in this intimate place, and he moved into the bowels of my desk, which opened from the top and was constantly jammed with orange juice stained text books and pencil shavings.

At the end of the school year, we all reluctantly opened our desks to “clean” them. This process didn’t involve much in the way of cleaving as it did dumping damp handfuls of happily biodegrading papers into a waiting trash can, while saying things like, “That’s where that smell was coming from!”

And there was Sharky. Waiting patiently. He never gave up on me. I picked him up and turned to the trash can. My fist clenched tight around him, hovering over the waiting rotten orange (that’s where that juice was coming from) and the barely legible six month old note to my parents. I willed my hand to let go. Let go, I told myself. Let go.

But I didn’t. In a motion too quick for anyone to pick up on, I stuffed Shaky deep into the pocket of my hand me down corduroy bell bottoms. The bus couldn’t take me home fast enough my secret shame, my shameful love, a hard lump in my pants. I rushed into my room... shut the door... and held him.

Years later I found him at the bottom of my sock drawer and tossed him in the trash.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ee eye ee eye... WTF?

You know, I'm in the shower this morning, singing Old MacDonald to myself (like you've never done that) and I started thinking, as I sometimes do, about the groupthink we foster on our kids. How we all agree on certain things and we tell them to our kids, even though they have exactly no basis on life outside of the sphere of things we tell kids. Like, for example, that when you sleepwalk you hold your arms out in front of you. Where did that come from? And yet, if you're showing a kid sleepwalking, you better put your arms out - we all agree that's the way it works.

So here's what I come to next, as I'm soaping up areas that you shouldn't be thinking about... why is it that one of the very first things we insist on drilling into our kids' brains is how various animals sound? Why is that? One of the basic foundations of children's literature, a sub-genre onto itself, is that cat's go meow and dogs say bow-wow and cows say moo.


What good does it serve anyone? And yet, from the age of 0 to, say, 5 it's all anyone wants to say to us. The sheep goes... the horse goes... the elephant goes... over and over again until it is ingrained in there on a fundamental level. Things like math, spelling, religion, politics... all that comes later but buster you're two years old now and you'd better fucking learn what a lion says. You don't want to be a retard, do you?

And you can't decide to opt out, either. Like the sleepwalker, you can't say to a child, "No, cat's don't sound anything like meow. They do more of a rwar kind of sound. Doggies? Dear lord, don't get me started on doggies. Where did they get bow-wow from? Were they high? Oh, what's high? Uh... that's what mommies and daddies do when they love each other very much and they put the wet towel under the door and then they have sex."

Imagine your child in school questioning the teacher? "That's not what ducks say!" You'd be getting a nasty letter pinned to their jacket that night, my friend.

And here's another thing about it that drives me nuts... who decided what animals were on the list, and when? Because it's pretty much a closed shop there, huh? The list is always the same. Always. A couple of pets, a bunch of farm animals, a few African beasts in there for drama, and that's it. What does a zebra says? What does a beaver say, or a kangaroo? I don't know, I've never been told.

And there's some on the list that are pretty questionable. Does a mouse say squeak squeak? Really? Who decided that? Have you ever heard a mouse, outside of a movie or something? Not me. I owned a hamster, and he didn't say squeak. But he's not on the list, so I have to give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Next week, I convince you that a is not for apple and the entire system crumbles. Can you say home school?