Taking Pride in your union

April 28, 2009

Apparently during Pride in Toronto you can take tours. These tours include things like witnessing a same-sex marriage. Is it just me or does this feel like it’s one step away from reducing gays and lesbians to attractions at a themepark, or worse, a freakshow? How is making, literally, a spectacle of same-sex unions going to help? I suppose you could argue straights taking these tours are already converted to the cause, but it feels to me like anyone taking a tour of LGBT culture is coming at it from an “us and them” standpoint. Perhaps I’m unfairly imagining the tour being like something at Disneyland with people in costume performing skits of “everyday life in Gayville” at various stations the train stops at. Mr. Gay’s Wild Ride — take a swing through the happiest place on Earth!

This is the problem I have with Pride from a purely strategic standpoint. One hand is trying to convince the haters that gays and lesbians are just like them while the other is throwing a party that celebrates every negative (at least in the minds of homophobes) stereotype associated with the lifestyle. There’s a mixed message being communicated to the straight population. We want to be integrated in mainstream society with all the same rights, sharing the same values; and We’re nothing like your so-called “mainstream” society.

I feel changes in negative attitudes could be achieved quicker with a more unified messaging. But I also understand we’re not talking about a small, specific regional population with a unified identity such as Quebec. There can be no consensus about what “gay” means to everyone who identifies themselves as living somewhere under the rainbow.

But surely making same-sex marriage a fairground attraction is the wrong way to go about it.

High Park is a miserable place.

April 22, 2009

» High Park is a miserable place. I’ve been three times and each time it’s done nothing but cement this feeling deeper in my psyche. Granted, the first time was in the middle of snowy winter. It’s not High Park’s fault all its pathways were covered in icy death and there was a bitter, biting bitch of a wind coming off the water. The second time it was later in winter. Less snowy, but doubly muddy and still with the horrible, miserable wind. I vowed not to return until the depressing, soggy-faced trees had leaves on them.

To celebrate our sixth month as a couple, Mandi and I returned to High Park for a pic-a-nic. No leaves yet, but the weather is warmer and, indeed, the wind wasn’t a horrendous slap in the face. I thought maybe High Park was going to cut us a break. What High Park decided to up the ante with instead was a swarm of bees. Or wasps. Whatever they were they lived in holes in the ground and were black and white and were combing huge swathes of the park like a blurry, hovering blanket.  Perhaps it wasn’t quite that drastic. But it was enough of a problem that I felt like everywhere we tried to place our blanket we were in grave danger of being stung to death and hacked into pieces by tiny mandibles for use in a royal jelly recipe.

Eventually, after walking to practically the other side of the park, we found a table to sit at outside of the insects’ domain and had a perfectly lovely afternoon reading library books and eating berries.

But High Park is still a miserable place.

The big launch!

April 21, 2009

LAST NIGHT, around 7:30 pm EST, I made an announcement on Twitter. I expected a few people to acknowledge it and move on. Instead, it turned into a gala event. Well, as much as a tweet can be a gala event. What was it? It was the launch of nerdhurdles.com, our new podcast home base. 

Against my expectations, within minutes the forum started filling up and by the end of the night people were posting like it had been a long established institution. That might be because almost everyone who’s signed up comes from the excellent Simply Syndicated forums and trust each other already. It’s pretty neat, as well, to see several of my internet circles colliding. So far, everyone seems to get along. But then, why wouldn’t they? We’re all nerds here with no normies to fear.

The annoucnement did, almost entirely, eclipse my same-day announcement that I moved Mr. Dapper over to WordPress. Oh well, I left a note saying where I went taped to the door at the old LiveJournal address.

Spring Kills, episode II

April 17, 2009

Bad Riddance 6
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» My springtime malaise continues. Lately I’ve had the same feeling about life that I have about a videogame I’ve completed. Take GTA Vice City. Once you’ve completed the missions, you can still wander around the city playing the game, but you lack any sense of purpose or fun without a goal to achieve.

I have a great girl, a nice place to live, some money saved but a general disinterest in playing the game. Also I think the looming uncertainty of my job continuing into July making it hard to muster enthusiasm for the daily grind. Perhaps I simply need to create goals for myself. Missions to complete and goals to achieve.

The problem is, I’ve been doing this already. Most notably with podcasting. Specifically Nerd Hurdles (for which there’ll be a moderately big announcement in the coming week). It’s not that I don’t have goals and ambitions, I just am losing faith that any goals and ambitions are worth achieving except as a diversion.

Aw crap. I’m having an existential crisis.


April 14, 2009

Baby Ghetto 1, originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» We found a baby stuck in a chain-link fence. We didn’t set it free but someone collected it later.

» Speaking of babies, I have to admit I feel sorry for Billy Bob Thorton. Yes, he acted like a douchebag on CBC‘s radio program, Q. But then people with obvious mental health issue often act like douchebags. It’s one of the ways they get diagnosed. In fact, when you get right down to it, it’s pretty much what the psychiatric profession exists to deal with. They use counceling and psycho-active chemicals to alter the level of douchebaggery that exists in all of us. Thorton’s douchebaggeroids are clearly quite high, as evidenced by his trainwreck of an interview, and he needs to see a professional who can help level those out. Though I suspect he already has sought help because, even for an actor who has proven he can play mentally deficient characters with oscar winning prowess, his Brian Wilson impression was a little too spot-on without there being near lethal quantities of Prozac involved.

As for the Canada has no “gravy” comment, I agree. That’s why I like living in Canada. The lack of gravy. Most of our supposed national pride is based on this lack of gravy and why we’re better than a certain country to the south whose streets run with gravy. I don’t get why some many people took offence to Thorton’s barb. It was a compliment. He was basically saying, “Canadian audiences don’t get plastered on Wild Turkey and beat up their wives in the front row.” True, we don’t. Where’s the problem?

» Also speaking of babies, it seems I’m a bad parent and forgot to announce the last week’s Nerd Hurdles episode on the Transformers. Here it is: http://ampersand.podbean.com/2009/04/07/nerd-hurdles-12-tran-snore-mers/

And here’s this week’s episode on Iron Man: http://ampersand.podbean.com/2009/04/13/nerd-hurdles-13-iron-man-tupperware-and-poo/

Natkhat Nimbu

April 6, 2009

» I’m always game to try some kind of weird junk food when I see it on a shelf for the first time. This caught my eye specifically because I wasn’t sure if the character on the bag was a chicken or a lemon. Turns out s/he is a potato. Supposedly the kind used to make the “potato solids” from which the snack itself is made. The bag says the snack is “one of the most mouth watering snack of all time.” It’s true. Your mouth will water when you eat Natkhat Nimbu. Which is what you’d expect from something that is made from “high grade, hygienically processed” ingredients. I’m glad they went the extra mile informing me the “potato solids” had been “hygienically processed” instead of me just having to assume it was the case. If you were wondering what the secret behind the mouth watering properties of Natkhat Nimbu is, it would be the “high grade, hygienically processed” MSG. Enough to kill a child “under 12-months of age” apparently. A tad more worrying though is the instruction to “protect from air and direct sunlight.” As if a bowl of Natkhat Nimbu might spontaneously combust if left uncovered on the window sill. But the chances of you doing that is rather slim anyway because, against all odds, Natkhat Nimbu is surprisingly somewhat delicious. They are sort of like a curry version Hickory Sticks. But with more MSG. They’d be a good first date snack because your date will probably become flushed, their heart will beat at least three times faster, and they’ll begin to perspire. These physiological responses to Natkhat Nimbu could be mistaken by your companion as being swept off their feet by you. It’s worth considering.

One Night Only!

April 3, 2009

Lord of the Flies 2, originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» Tomorrow night (Saturday, April 4th) I’m playing a house show in Nanaimo from my bed in Toronto. Because they’re crazy, Rose and Bob are turning their home into an art/performance space. Since I’ve performed at each of their openings so far, they asked me to help break the champagne bottle on the prow once again. It wasn’t possible for me to make the trip physically, so I’m making the trip digitally (my preferred form of existence these days anyway).

I filmed a 24 minute Moonwood set in my living room, cut it with footage of my life in Toronto and mailed them a DVD. Supposedly it’ll be shown larger than life on their living room wall. De mi casa a su casa. Headlining the evening is none other than Canadian weirdo music legend Bob Wiseman. Ironically, the only other show I’ve played in the last year was with his wife (The Phonemes) last summer in Toronto. I am clearly, as Rose put it, stagnant. I believe the show starts at 8pm PST (11pm EST) and the living room wall is at 221 Prideaux Street.

» The above picture of a fly has nothing to do with anything. We found him on a walk along the Humber River last weekend (the same as the birdseed from yesterday’s post). It seems we stumbled across a log someone had set out red stuff on to attract flies. It might have been jam but we didn’t want to taste it to see. “Lord of the Flies” was scrawled on a rock nearby so I suspect it was a photo-shoot for a design school book cover project. I only think that because it’s what I would have done. It was probably just drunk kids. Or maybe sober kids with too much jam on a picnic.

Spring kills

April 2, 2009

Seed Canyon 1, originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» Each year with the coming of spring, I seem to suffer a general malaise. Perhaps it’s several months of winter darkness finally coming to collect. Maybe it’s all the lost mittens that had been hidden under snowbanks now littering the sidewalks in tatters. It could be I find there’s something subversively melancholy in birdsong.

Earth Hour

April 1, 2009

The Grey Tower
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Photography.

» It was Earth Hour last weekend. Being the environmentally minded hippies we are, Mandi and I spent the hour illuminating the subject on a podcast. We ruminated on why it is I might feel things that carry the "green" brand are geeky and I’m just too cool for. We only scratch the surface on the actual show, but it is a three-fold issue for me.

First and second, I’m put off by the sanctimonious tone a lot of supposedly green hypocrites use when they pat their own backs about their feeble environmentally aware actions. To be fair, they don’t realize their actions are ineffectual and totally bullshit and so they, in their minds, have earned the right to be sanctimonious. Unfortunately it makes me want to burn effigies of them made out of styrofoam packing material rather than get in-line with their rah-rah rhetoric. Rah-rah rhetoric that makes people feel good about their trifling actions are going to kill us all. The more people feel like they’ve solved the problem by participating in Earth Hour, the less likely we’ll see bans on food packaging, privately owned vehicles or significant, enforced caps on electricity usage. But like any religion, environmentalism exists to give people a sense of hope about their future and to make sense of a world which is rapidly falling apart. It’s not meant to provide actual solutions, just spiritual band-aids.

The third reason is related to this religious aspect. There’s a goody-two-shoes feel about a lot green behaviour. Now, I don’t own a car, a TV, a microwave, an air-conditioner or a cell-phone. True, I benefit from other people owning these things, but I’m trying to live free of as much resource consumptive technology as possible (yes, yes you’re allowed to laugh at this blogger and podcaster’s own hypocrisy now). I agree with the reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse ethos, but anyone who talks to me about these things comes off like a Sunday-school keener. Perhaps just it’s a hold-over from the band-camp kids who were in the eco-club in high school. I just feel like icky whenever someone brings up "a few simple ways to make the lunch-room greener."

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» Tangerine closure: I’m off my tangerine kick but I’ve noticed what I’ve been buying as Minneola Tangerines are now called Minneola Oranges in several stores. Was I being duped all along? Somebody has some explaining to do. About tangerine nomenclature.

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