Saturday, April 3, 2010

For the Love of Neil Patrick Harris

I love you, Neil Patrick Harris.

Not only for your effortless charm, charming good humor, and the last two hours I spent watching “Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog,” which I enjoyed very much. (It’s a short film...I watched it twice. Ahem.) And how every moment of my life gets about three shiny-gold-stars better when my brain cries out “Neil Patrick Harris! He’s amazing!” which happens, periodically. That’s all good, but, there’s something else, too.

You’re gay. I know, you probably knew that already. And while I clearly have a giant crush on you, more importantly, my brother also has a giant crush on you. Which is spectacularly amazing,’re gay. Which means my brother has a crush on a gay guy. Which means my brother is himself a little bit gay, or at least forced to accept that gay guys are cool, because he thinks you’re cool, and possibly because he’s a little bit gay inside, too.

So, for your heroic efforts to end homophobia inside one desperately confused young Ontarian man, I thank you.

...And now, on to the angry, ranty part of my blog, which is really getting quite redundant...

Reasons to Renounce Democratic Socialism and take up Dr. Horrible-Style Anarchy:

Our country is a monarchy. Every law and declaration that comes to pass is signed by the Governor General, who is Canada’s representative of the Queen of England (Elizabeth II), who is still officially in charge. Again, not even our queen - England’s queen. She only visits once every decade or so, and yet...oh, Canada. In fact, our country only has a parliament, at all, because the Queen of England (Victoria, this time) willed that it be so in 1867, when she decided that it would be nice if Canada gained some self esteem by running their own affairs for a while.

Our Prime Minister (who, let’s not forget, has no real power if his actions go against the will of the Queen of England) is Stephen Harper. ‘Nuff said.

The majority of Canadians who voted did not vote for Stephen Harper, but our system is not representative, so only the big parties get a chance of going to Ottawa at all, and...Stephen Harper. That’s apparently the very best our country can do.

While a small group of Canadians voted Conservative, and a larger group voted for a myriad of other more liberal parties, an even larger group of Canadians did not bother to vote at all. Our country’s citizens are among the worlds most complaining and complacent - we’re well informed about the issues that shape the world, and yet we have absolutely no will to lift a finger for change.

Feelings of laziness, disenfranchisement, and understandable bewilderment at our current political system prevail, leading to a population which is theoretically dissatisfied with the status quo, but comfortable enough not to bother to do anything about it. Or so it seems. Maybe if we took away hockey, Canadians would have a bit of gusto left over for social change.

Until then....sigh.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I miss my family.

There were four kids in my family, and each of us was uniquely miserable, in our own, sad way.

We lived in a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by corn fields, an old graveyard, and a closed down elementary school which would later be purchased by the predominant settlers of the region - German-speaking Mexican Mennonites. (Mennonites use electricity, but they force their women to wear head scarves and skirts - and that is the entirety of my cultural knowledge.) The previous owners of our house had been Mennonites, with eight children living at home, three of whom were blind. They were leaving the country for unknown reasons, and we purchased the house at a bargain price.

Our yard was large and overgrown, and out back there were the remnants of a chicken coop. A sole, starved rooster showed up, bristling with neglect and rage, days after we’d moved in - we figured the previous owners had abandoned him. We named him “Pox.” Every time we got off the school bus, he would try to gouge out our eyes with his talons. A swift boot kick to his chest would usually send him flying far enough that you could get inside the door.

Our uncle shot him, several months later, and we watched him erupt in a plume of feathers before falling to the ground, dead. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if Pox might have been nicer if we’d bothered to feed or water him. I guess we’ll never know.

On the bus ride home, Mennonite kids would tell stories of hanging hens upside-down and slitting their necks to drain the blood. We’d just buried Pox in the ground. His remains are next to those of our family dog (backed over by a car), our next family dog (run down by a transport truck), and countless family cats who have died of various ailments.

Also living on the property was a thriving family of barn swallows, making their residence in our garage and occasionally dive-bombing cats and small children, and a large possum named Herbert who would sometimes sneak in at night to our back kitchen (which didn’t have a door), where he would steal from our bags of cat food.

An oil excavation team moved in across the street, housed in trailers, in the months between the ninth and tenth grade. The constant construction and three second thud of metal on metal machinery was a metronome against the sweltering heat and our collective boredom, until finally, in October, construction was finished and we found ourselves neighbours to a functioning oil well.

That year my brother moved in with a friend, then our father, and eventually joined the army, to be stationed in rural Alberta, and rural Manitoba, and rural former-Yugoslavia - all considered a step-up. My step-brother played musical houses between his mother and father, neither of whom particularly cared, before making friends in Toronto who were willing to take him in.

My sister remained at home while we ran in our respective directions, but she’s older now, and ready - for dorm rooms, hours away by car. All the cats I knew growing up have died, and the family dogs I loved have all gone the way of Pox the rooster. So there’s nothing much to miss, except a big white house with bad insulation in the middle of a corn field - and I never liked that house to begin with.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My wrath issues are getting out of control.

Rage of the Day: I hate life. But mostly, I hate slow people, who seem to naturally congregate with other slow people, hand in hand, forming a human blockade five people thick, congesting any hope of me getting to the skytrain within a reasonable three minute timeframe.

Shove over, slow people - my time is just as precious as yours, and I don’t want to spend it staring at your collective asses while you impede my ability to walk at a reasonable pace. I don’t force you to walk fast, don’t force me to walk slow. I have places to go, and I know that you don’t, but...agggggh. MOVE. For the love of my sanity move. HALF THE SIDEWALK - at most! It’s a socially implied rule. Socially implied!

And...the Pope.

The man who lives in a secluded giant temple amidst riches and opulence by which even Heaven cannot compare, while his people starve and are compelled to bear fourteen children each, six of which will be molested by celibate priests, all with the pope's full knowledge and probable complacency. His holiness, indeed.

(It's worth noting here that Catholic Priests, back in the day, were allowed to marry, but then the Church decided it wanted more land, and that it could acquire the land of all its priests when they died if it stopped their ability to have if you're thinking of yelling "why?" at the sky when you hear one more story of children being abused by sexually confused men in a position of infinite power, the answer is "so the Pope could have more land." Doesn't that make you feel better?)

But my stance on the Pope remains exactly the same as it was last year, when old Popey was making waves by declaring that condoms encouraged the spread of HIV. Remember that? It was such a simpler time, when we thought the Pope was only okay with letting African babies die of AIDS.

Enjoy the repost...

Stop listening to the Pope (we asked him to stop talking, and that didn’t quite work). Responsible consumerism can, and should, be applied to religion. If you’re tithing your local catholic church, you are supporting a pope who thinks condoms cause AIDS and that birth control is always wrong. Why is this man’s impeccable logic worthy of your attention? Stop listening, encourage others to do the same, and he becomes just another opinionated old guy yelling at young people from his porch.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oy, vey.

Passover certainly isn't "Jewish Easter." It's way more like "Jewish Christmas."

I understand that I - heathen, gentile, goya - don't know the first thing about what it means to be Jewish, and any attempt to try will end up coming off as racist or promoting of stereotypes. I get that it's complicated, what with the whole "my people killing off your people en mass, some two generations back;" that sort of thing, in general, is linked to angst and hard, in advance, I'm very sorry. (To be clear, I'm Irish, not German, and my people haven't effectively killed anything, ever, except our own livers...but I digress.)

But I have wondered what it would be like - being Jewish.

Mostly, my curiosity comes from a hunger for belonging - I like the idea of a being part of a large, albeit annoying family, spanning the globe, connected by a common heritage (...a heritage of genocide and persecution). I live on the outskirts of Vancouver's Jewish district so I know where to buy my food kosher, and I already have lots of angst and self-deprecating good humor, without any of the benefits - being part of an ancient culture extending back thousands of years, and part of a community willing to support me and give me things, solely because of my birthright. I like the idea of synagogue, and I'd even be willing to study Hebrew, were it to earn me a large Bat Mitzvah.

I'm also in favour of a culture of talking - about things, questioning things, debating, compromising, and not necessarily even having to believe in God. It's a far cry from what is means to be a Pentecostal Christian, which is a religious experience I'll not soon forget. Jews allow dancing at their weddings, too. Plus, they get to grapple with being God's chosen people, and I've always wondered what it would be like, being Chosen.

The Irish weren't chosen for anything...except by the Vikings, who chose us for raping, and pillaging. And the English, who chose us for raping, and pillaging. Ours is not a happy heritage - and there weren't no manna falling from the sky during the potato famine, either.

I tend to regard religion in the same way that others regard illicit drugs...recreationally benign, but prone to spiralling out of control and into life-consuming addiction. I'm also in favour of Karl Marx's "opiate of the masses" decree, though it's often misquoted - in the time of Marx, opium was one of the few effective painkillers, which Marx had himself used to ease suffering. Marx referred to religion as a painkiller for the poor - but, like codeine tablets, one should be careful, lest they end up in a back-alley, shooting heroin into their eyeballs. (That end part's my interpretation, not Marx's...I have a feeling Marx was much less judgemental.)

But sometimes, life gets lonely, and on such nights, when I'm out walking my puppies, and it's cold and wet and windy and I'm feeling terribly small and alone, the homes of my neighbours look especially lovely - crowded with well-dressed family members, gathered from far and wide to come home, to eat, to talk. I'll remember - Passover started tonight, at sunset, and its a time to be with family...if you're Jewish. It feels warm and wholesome, and though I know I don't belong and never will, I wish for a moment I could come inside.

Have a holly-jolly Passover, friends.