Archive for September, 2009


The Most Effective Form of Birth Control

We’re sitting opposite each other at a high-top bar table at the Sin and Redemption.  Dark beer and red wine, to celebrate commiserate the sudden chilly turn in the weather.

At some point, the conversation turns to tales of past misdeeds.

“Remember how I told you about the girlfriend that I dated all through high school?”

“Mmm hmmm.”  Eyebrow raise.

“We got pregnant the very first time we ever did it.  Fourteen.”

Gulp.  “Oh.  Well, that sucks.  Aren’t the odds of that happening on a par with being struck by lightning?”

“I also got my ex-wife pregnant within a week of trying for a baby.  That was kind of disappointing, because I was hoping it would take longer.”  He winks.  “I’m like a magic silver bullet.”

Awkward, slightly mortified laughter.  Then silence. 

I am unable to stop myself from filling the void, like a rush of graceless air entering a romantic vacuum.

“Wow.  You should bottle that stuff.”


"We've got you surrounded!"

"We've got you surrounded!"


The Scramble



Do you ever feel as though you’re standing in the middle of an intersection?

Earlier this year, Toronto created its first “scramble” intersection.  The foot traffic at the corner of Yonge and Dundas was so heavy that a “pedestrian-only” signal was established that stops traffic in all directions – and allows pedestrians to cross in any direction.

However, I’ve noticed something rather odd about this intersection.

Despite what is depicted in the photograph above, even when pedestrians are allowed to wander freely throughout the entire intersection, or walk diagonally, or choose any other random path, many people rarely venture beyond the standard gridlines.  Sometimes I have noticed people doing so while glancing around nervously, as though they are engaging in some kind of forbidden act.

After all, intersections can be dangerous things. 

The crowd could sweep you away from your intended destination.  Or a  fast-moving vehicle could knock you off your feet.

It’s tempting to stay inside the lines.

It’s more fun to be part of the scramble.


These Are the People in Your Neighbourhood

First things first…thanks to BlogTO for listing VFTS as a “Local Blog” under their Toronto Links and Resources.   Much appreciated!


Last week, I received the following letter. Technically, it was addressed to my landlord, but hey, I’m his proxy, right?

Re: Window Coverings:

Dear A’s Landlord:

We are writing on behalf of Anal Condo Corporation #666. On a recent inspection of the premises it was noted that your window coverings are not white or off white.

You may not be aware, but the condo rules require that all window coverings must be white or off white (facing the exterior of the building). Please arrange to have a white or off white liner installed no later than April 28, 2009.

Thanking you in advance for your kind co-operation in matter [sic].


Annoying Management Services
Agents for an on behalf of A.C.C. #666.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was pissed. I spent a great deal of money on my gorgeous RED window coverings, and wasn’t relishing the idea of spending even more money, time and energy installing white liners.

This is why I hate condo living. Everyone spying and snitching on each other. No one “inspected” my apartment. They stood on the street and counted windows to figure out where the rogue red curtain owner lived.

This week, after installing my condo-approved Eggshell curtain liners, I found the following note stuck in my door (as did the rest of my neighbours):

To the People living at 123 Sesame Street,

You probably don’t know, but there is a DRUG DEALER living in your building. He deals crack, heroin, meth and coke. He rents Apt. XXX, has a white pit bull and his phone number is 647-555-5555.

Why am I telling you this?

Because last week, he HIT me and pulled a knife on my boyfriend. We were buying coke from him and he was messed up and arguing. Believe me, his violence is what got him evicted from the last place.

Get this scum OUT of your building, before it’s too late.

Apparently, it’s all right to be pit-bull owning drug dealer, as long as your window coverings are white or off-white.

Apparently, these are my neighbours.

 These are the people in my neighbourhood.

And of course, I couldn’t let this moment pass without sharing one of my favourite Sesame Street moments…skip to 1:00 see Ralph “I’m not a spoiler” Nader tear off Bob’s sweater.  Classic.


Veni, Vidi, Visa

I enjoy the musings in Torontoist, but this post slagging the Visa Screening Room at the Toronto International Film Festival takes the proverbial cake.

I will state unashamedly up front that I have a Visa Aerogold, have used it to purchase week long passes to the Elgin Theatre during the Festival, and yes…I have been in the “Special Lounge”. 

There were no flamingoes.

Once, I even lent my credit card out to a friend to whom I had given tickets so that she and and her boyfriend could get into the lounge on what turned out to be rather rainy September night. 

Let them eat cake, right?

Besides that, a few other thoughts came to mind while reading this article.

First, events like TIFF need sponsors.   Visa has been sponsoring the viewings at the Elgin (and the Festival generally) for years, and it’s a promotion that works.  Cardholders feel as though they’re getting a valued perq, Visa gets a good bang for its promotional buck, and the TIFF can continue to function.  Do we want Visa to pull their promotional dollars because a few people think that it’s somehow defiling their “dignity” to be seated after Visa cardholders?

As this woman pointed out in a pithy comment a few weeks ago, some people have skewed ideas on what constitutes an “indignity”.  Standing in a lineup for bread or clean water or toilet paper is an indignity.  Standing in line to see the latest Colin Farrell flick?  Debatable.

Second, in contrast to most TIFF events, at least one knows the price of admission to the Visa Screening Room, and the Super Not-So-Secret Lounge.   Go to one of the galas at Roy Thomson Hall and see how easy it is for some to enter while the public line is still on the street.  There are patrons, friends of patrons, hangers-on…and this is just for the film.  Try getting into one of the parties.

My point is that this is a film festival, not an election.  Not everyone is equal, and not everyone gets to play.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow, I know, but we can’t all be the cool kid.

Visa doesn’t care if you’re pretty or well-connected.  All it cares about is whether you have a Visa card.  If you take the Film Festival that seriously, you know this and you probably already have one.

I could go on and on about how much I would love to be able to take time off work and stand around in lines for movies all day, and about how much I like that the Lounge protects me from listening to some of the pretentious filmie prats who hang about on the city’s streets all day, but instead I’ll finish with one final thought.

What a fucking bourgeois complaint.  If this is the most injustice one experiences in a lifetime, what a charmed life one must lead.


Your Soul is Showing

I respectfully submit for your review and comment…

He's got soul, and the patch to prove it.

He’s got soul, and the patch to prove it.

The Soul Patch.*

I further submit that the only men who should sport such facial hair are jazz musicians.

Dizzy Gillespie, demonstrating proper use of the Soul Patch.

Dizzy Gillespie, demonstrating proper use of the Soul Patch.

Side effects of improper use of the Soul Patch include:



Uhhhhh…and also…

Billy Ray updates his look from "hillbilly" to "just plain creepy".

Billy Ray updates his look from “hillbilly” to “just plain creepy”.

And finally, I submit that there is no good way to explain to a middle-aged man that you would gladly continue dating him, except that every time you look at him, you think about Hot Lips Hannigan from the Flintstones.

Sometimes honesty just isn’t the best policy.

*AKA the “Sax Player’s Moustache”, the “Douche Tag”, the “Dork Tuft” or, my personal favourite, the “Flava Sava”.


It’s like deja vu, all over again

This brilliant article by John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail pretty much sums up the political landscape in Canada.

However, I wouldn’t say that the political system in Canada has malfunctioned.   In technical terms, I believe this is called “user failure”.   Political ideologues are wrestling at the controls, as the car speeds toward the brick wall.   Parliamentary suicide, if you will.

Ibbitson’s article is a good primer for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Parliamentary system of government and of Canada’s recent past.  The bottom line is that our system of government grants the ability to rein in* the wingnut fringes of political parties who manage to win minority governments.  Minority governments stay in power by learning to play well with others and can sometimes result in reasonable, well-thought-out compromises in policy.

Or, at least, they used to.

But today Canadians find themselves in a never-ending election loop, caught between a conservative micro-manager** whose tenuous party leadership rests on achieving the elusive majority government he promised, and a succession of liberal leaders who never seem to learn from their predecessors’ monomaniacal tendencies to blow up the Death Star at all costs.

It’s the Canadian public paying the price. 

Ironically, the most reasonable and rational of the bunch (not to mention the best dressed) is a Quebec separatist

Yeah, we’re probably fucked.  But it’s not the system.  It’s the lack of judgment and leadership of the people we elected.

Well, that 60% of us elected.


*For some reason, few grammatical errors bother me more than the incorrect use of “rein in”.  It’s not “reign in”.  OK?

** And cat-lover.


A Conversation with Winnie

“Why are you standing all of the way over there? I know that you’ve come here to talk, young lady, so you might as well come a little closer and sit down.”

After a few looks around to confirm that no one seems to be paying any attention, I walk slowly toward the concrete dais, looking for the driest place on one of the nearby benches. The sky is ominously grey, but so far has only produced a slow, cold drizzle. Somewhat appropriate for this conversation, I think.
Winston groans loudly as he lumbers down, using his walking stick for support. He unbuttons his waistcoat as he sits down next to me, and, with a wink, produces a Romeo y Julieta from an inside pocket.

“Those American tourists who pass by here don’t know what they’re missing,” he says as he lights up.

“Those things aren’t good for you, but I suppose that since you’ve been dead for over forty years, I can forego the lecture in your case.”

“Please do, my dear.  Now, what is it that seems to be troubling you? I know that you wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t something terribly unsettling.” He fixes his stern gaze on me, and I find that I feel more comfortable shifting my attention to the grey tendrils of smoke rising from the tip of his cigar, as they mingle into the grey of the sky.

“I’ve been having some difficulty motivating myself these days.”

He raises his eyebrow.

“I haven’t really been able to get out of bed in the morning.”

“Black dogs chasing you again, hmmm?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Hmmmmm.” The rumbling sound of him pondering, perhaps remembering his own past experiences is comforting to me.

“Those dogs know my name, too. When I felt that they were upon me, I would retreat to Chartwell. Paint. It was a haven away from London, a place to set down burdens and engage in an exercise that required all of my focus and did not allow my mind to stray into…darker territory.” His deep voice resonates as he articulates the last words, looking at me purposefully.

“Not all of us have beautiful country estates to which we can retreat,” I rebut. “Not all of us can paint.”

“No, but I hear that you are a rather talented writer.”

I blush and look away. “I try. Maybe…”

“Bollocks. Pardon my language, I picked it up during my years in the Army, and it’s never left me. But I should not be speaking that way in front of a young lady.”

“I’ve read a lot of stories about you, and none of them ever described you as one to hold back on the foul language.”

“As they say, you can’t believe everything you read, my dear.” He pauses. “What has really brought you here, then? What is the cause of all of this drama?”

“I met a brilliant thinker yesterday, someone inspiring.”

“Go on.”

“And I feel as though I’m wasting my life.”


“I’m 35 and I haven’t accomplished anything that I thought I would. I could be a great thinker, a great writer, I could have been, anyway. I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

At this, he laughs a great deep laugh, and bangs his walking stick on the ground.

“What is so funny?”

He waves his cigar at me, and continues to chuckle. “Oh, my dear girl, I don’t mean to belittle you in any way. But you are speaking to a man who didn’t accomplish much of anything until he had reached an age at which most men are dead or retired, although I’m not sure there’s a difference.”

“That is not true. You were the Chancellor of the Exchequer. You wrote prolifically. You…”

“I was kicked out of my own party, a pariah.”


“Is that what they write in the history books these days? That’s not how it felt at the time.”

“The point is that you accomplished more before the Second World War than most people would dream of doing in a lifetime.”

“The point is that for the truly great people of the world, there is always a chance for a second act.” He looks at me with grave sincerity, a man who has seen true adversity and succeeded in spite of it. A great man.

“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm,” I say, quietly.

He smiles. “I said that, didn’t I?”

“You did.” The clock in the tower of Old City Hall, directly next to us, begins to chime. “I have to go to work now, but thank you for your time.”

He rises stiffly to his feet and extends his hand. “Any time, my dear. It’s a rare treat to have visitors that don’t want to sit at my feet and eat those vile hot dogs they sell on the street over there. Rather unpleasant.”

I smile as I gather up my belongings and walk off into the mist.