My Items

I'm a title. ​Click here to edit me.

Talkin’ Sh*t about Sch*tt’s Creek, White Boy Rappers and Black Homophobia

Talkin’ Sh*t about Sch*tt’s Creek, White Boy Rappers and Black Homophobia

stop clutching your pearls and own up AS MY FREQUENT VISITORS ARE well aware, I like to solve the world’s problems, or at least point them out if there’s no financial incentive and I don’t feel like changing out of my bathrobe, by wielding the almost supernatural influence of this blog. Did I say “the world’s problems”? Look no further than your own back yard, Dorothy Gale! The U.S., Canada’s back yard strewn with half-dismantled human rights up on concrete blocks and mentally challenged Home Shopping Network addicts, provides a veritable cornucopia of problems on which I can demonstrate my astonishing insights and practise rolling my eyes backwards in my head with disdain. Once all of America is writhing with shame from my withering analysis, I flick my gay wrist in their general direction, throw over my hapless subjects a handful of the fairy dust Tinkerbell rejected as too faggy, and voilà! The U.S. becomes just a tad more like Canada, the superhero who’s always Clark Kent. In the U.S., you need Superman in order to live up to your heroic, revolutionary persona. You need victories, barely won. (If you doubt me, please go to your closet and meditate on the past four weeks’ transition of power, then the past four years of burgeoning fascism. Just don’t talk to me about it, OK? I’m still on the medication.) Bad guys beaten by the good guy, evil defeated by might equals right, but only in the last nail-biting moments of the last act. Up here, with a few strokes of a pen, we offshoots of Loyalists reiterate our commitment to equal rights—not to create them but to draw attention to their natural existence, should one need a reminder. We do things slowly, roughly at the pace of cold maple sap dripping out of a spigot. We didn’t have our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms until the 1980s. But our glacial pace yields dividends. We don’t have to pore over the text of an 18th-century revolutionary manifesto, trying to divine how Thomas Jefferson would have reacted to the idea of transsexuals, or figure out whether the Second Amendment includes the right to carry a concealed machine gun. You guys have to fight about what’s good first, then filter that through the mindset of some Enlightenment slave-owners; we already have it figured out according to slightly more up-to-date standards. Clark Kent goes to Parliament, Parliament delivers. It’s not as exciting as a fight to the death against a ready, simplistic foe, it’s not as “Days of Our Lives” as arguing in the living room with the curtains open, but it gets the job done. We love government! And the more boring the better. For drama we have the CBC. And you can, too! For though you lack my fairy baton, all you need to know is that the key to the U.S. is extremism. In the U.S. they like to take an acceptable idea then stretch it leftward and pound it rightward and work it like a thin crust pizza onto which they dump far too many toppings, including lashings of High Racism, sentimental cheese and a big dollops of stubborn misinformation and distrust. What was once a light snack is now a forced intubation on the body politic, who moan, “all we wanted was non-starving school kids, heart attacks without bankruptcy and strolls in the park without being raped at gunpoint, and you’ve turned it into a Tolkienesque struggle between my god-given American liberty and the forces of evil collectivism!” Thus on the far left we have Sanders-nistas, the Bernie bro’s and babes, aiming firing squads at wonky, homespun Elizabeth Warren because she once brushed up against a Republican while buying her laundry detergent (“corporate lackey”) and vying for office space in the Politburo with far-right Trumpers—for though he be but a fading nightmare, Trumpism has escaped its cage and has long legs—who think Liz Warren’s name signifies The War of the Lizard People, yet another H.G. Wells subplot to QAnon’s vampire pedophiles (“Liberals”). The ouroboros of extremism has the front end of the far right forever planting its smoochy lips on the back end of the far left; and whether your ideology be the M.O. of plutocrats from Wall Street, Moscow or Beijing, we the people may be forgiven for not caring about the difference, because there isn’t one. They call Canadians weird! Nothing but extreme simplicity to ripple those amber waves of grain. Nothing but either-or, win-lose, good-evil; black clouds blotting out the spacious white skies; give me Bernie or give me death (or at least some ear plugs). I might at this point employ the word “Manichaean” if I had even an inkling that it was appropriate, but I promised my parents I wouldn’t embarrass them any more than was obviously unavoidable. This extremism is in the very veins of Americans, who come in only two types, fancy and plain: either city folk, living precariously by the rising seas on either coast, in liberal enclaves rivaling Sodom and Gomorrah in sinful ubiquity of anything you want, or they are aw-shucks country bumpkins, raising barns across all the rest and posing for Norman Rockwell paintings so tight-assedly, WASP-ly sinister that they effectively murder Catholics and Jews just by not painting them. The city folk are the raw silk drawstring bag; the country folk, the lumps of pebbly aggregate that are the bag’s contents. City folk have a smidgen of nuance. They order their intemperate Liberal delights in various colors and flavors. It’s a great, big inclusive quilt by Versace, dry clean only. The hicks, the country folk, just flat out hate niggers and homos and say so, holding their pitchforks firmly by their side in the style of Grant Woods’s creepy American Gothic, unaware that Grant Wood was fucked up about being gay and painted his sister as the wife in that eerie repurposing of 14th-century German style. He did that because incest with the “right” sex is clearly better than any sex with the “wrong” one. “The wife appears to be gazing at something outside of the frame of the painting,” say all the usual critiques of Wood’s Meisterstuck. Of course she was! She was gazing at Grant Wood jerking off while whining, “can I touch your secret place again after I finish putting all the detail in your hair?”, then crying. That’s the hicks for ya, and bless ’em for their honesty. City folks can’t own up to their core of hick, they must spin. White American Liberals once went to school with a Black person, so they’ve been inoculated against racism, and it’s a shame that Black people for some reason don’t want to live in the same gated communities as the white overlords, but what can you do? There’s no accounting for taste! And anyway, why would they need good schools, which means white schools, when they’re all going to be basketball stars, or, even better because you don’t have to leave your room, rock stars singing and sharing their unique world view through their marvellously colorful ‘rap music’ ? That seems reasonable to me! Yo, bro, Imma be so ghetto, muthafucka! Did I say that right? My goodness, I feel so… so… naughty, yet woke! You may be surprised at how fluent I am in Ebonics. That’s because I spend so much of my time listening to the pathetic attempts by certain white boys of my acquaintance to be hip hop stars, which they achieve in their own heads, because there’s nothing else in their heads of importance, like getting jobs or being respectful. Listening to white boys mimic Black rappers while dreaming of fame makes my toes curl, and not with ecstasy. My white boy hangers-on want to be cool, which they clearly are not, and they mimic what they think is cool, which is the trappings of fame that come from success in an art form born of a specific, desperate experience, without going through the experience. The experience comes from growing up without hope in the toxic milieu of the ghetto white people have forced Black people to inhabit; the real, physical ghetto and the spiritual ghetto. The division of labour is clear. Black rappers can take their pain of growing up in the ghetto, create a musical genre of searing anger and caustic, foul-mouthed humor, then leverage the music into wealth, which they donate to the Blacks still growing up in the ghetto; white people get to say, with the grossest condescension, that “the ghetto is teaming with raw talent,” which they’ve been saying in the U.S. in one form or another since the Union vanquished the Confederacy. You will note that both acts require that there be a ghetto, making this a win-win situation, just with both wins for white people. But white boys? What do you have to rap about, except your dad not giving you the keys to the Range Rover on Saturday night? You can’t create the music of searing anger unless life hands you the raw materials. You’re just another bunch of white boys appropriating an “exotic” experience that your racism created. We’ve tried to steal everything from Black people: hope, dignity, justice. But you can’t steal the pain of their experience. The pain you experience in the bland suburbs that Blacks weren’t allowed to move into is inconsequential, the pain of having only one mohair sweater. You arranged it that way. While we’re on the subject of Black oppression, how ’bout I tell you about some Black-on-gay oppression? ‘Cause one thing that Black hets do that’s just so oppressive to gay dudes is, obviously, not tolerating gay dudes, but they do it in a smarmy, secret, nudge-wink “we all know what we talkin mm HMMM” way that makes me feel like I wandered into a Baptist church just as the old ladies dressed in electric pink suits are cramming their flowered hats back on and getting themselves all gussied up, ready to knock on your door and shove a Jesus Saves! pamphlet in your stupid white face. I’m reading this critique of “Schitt’s Creek” online and this Black lady intellectual/feminist dude—and I call her “dude” because, I don’t care how she identifies in real life, she could be five Chinese lesbians in overalls for all I know, but when she wrote this diatribe, she was a straight white man, OK?— she’s on about how it’s not a good show, not funny, not exceptional, no way, and no way of watching it is going to make her get the point. And she is totally right, because Schitt’s Creek is A GAY SHOW. Take one look at the handsome, Hot Gay Jew-face of Daniel Levy and tell me it ain’t true. He’s a Hot Gay Jew and Schitt’s Creek is a Hot Gay Jew show, for gays, by a Hot Gay Jew gay. Daniel is David Rose, the undeniable focus and star of the show, and a self-confessed mama’s boy to boot. His ditzy sister Alexis is the totally shallow, utterly self-serving disloyal best friend evERRR, Mom is the quintessential wacko Fag Hag and Eugene Levy is just, I dunno, Everydad, wandering around and running the gamut of emotions from bemused to perplexed, which is his shtick. I personally don’t get the point of Eugene Levy in this show—well, in fact, ever—unless he’s here to disguise the fact that every other character is a gay stock character cliché that we love. They purport to be a family, but seriously? They are not, they are the old-fashioned constellation of the stock characters in a gay man’s life, and it’s beautiful and comfortable. Fuck it if you don’t get the joke, or the jokes. Fuck it that there’s no tap dancing or blackface so Black feminist academic dude can go off on the show and justify her pearl-clutching, prim distaste by anything except homophobia. Gay people love love love to see ourselves on TV, recognized as gay because we spend our lives invisible, and that’s still true, but it was REALLY true when I was growing up. God knows what drag queens did back then, I imagine they resorted to bales of hay for wigs and tissue paper for their fabulous gowns and the juice from mumbleberries for make up, but somehow they damn well did it. They got reviled and spat on and arrested and beaten up and murdered so the rest of us could one day watch Schitt’s Creek and be proud. That’s why I love and revere every drag queen and every Quentin Crisp in-your-face quasi-drag queen who ever lived, and why I spit on and revile every white bread self-hating “passing” gay who ever said, “I wish THEY (drag queens/leather men) would go away and stop spoiling it for the rest of us.” That’s not all. Gay people instinctively support BLM. We support BLM because gay people historically have recognized that you can’t do it alone. The LGBT community (which I say to be inclusive, but it’s really gay men who are the issue, because Queen Victoria) knows about divide and conquer—the strategy instinctive to the ruling class to keep the people at each other’s throats— and has always recognized intersectionality, those shifting nodes of privilege and disadvantage. We knew about intersectionality before there was even a word for it, and so did Black people and “women’s libbers” as they were called in those days, the dim distant 60’s and 70’s, by the white male media, but now, perfectly siloed and fed up with stalling progress, every minority waves their own banner. We the disadvantaged, the discounted, the hated, suffer from the penis envy of martyrdom: who’s had the biggest, longest, hardest time? Schitt’s Creek treated being gay as natural—not needing extra explanation or backstory or drama or apologies or consequences; natural like sunshine and rain—though so does South Park, with the Leather Guy turning Paris Hilton injto the world’s most annoying, whiny sex toy and roiling masses of naked men looking like the balls of victims that the Aztecs rolled down those stairs that you and your mom train to walk up, when you do your all-expenses paid trip to Tsixclkweoiouwejklhfewl, Mexico. Of course, as a sop to god knows what, they had to make the character of David polysexual, had to throw in a little dollop of swinging both ways, in case anyone should feel excluded. “Well of course he’s A MAN, he doesn’t care WHAT he sticks it into.” Never mind that no self-respecting straight woman would take one look at David and not instantly know he’s just waiting until the right dick comes along. And by cracker it does, white and soft and unthreatening as a steamed hot dog bun. Tell me honestly. Is it all about the sex? Does distaste and disgust around gay men come down to that? How can it be? We learned how to do it from straight people! Besides, that’s the way it is: Straight people fall in love; gay men have sex. Black and white; either or; this or that. Come, now. That’s just clever propaganda from the right. The psychic wall on our bodies’ metaphorical southern border is built from bricks of gender stereotyping and religion. Why do we laugh at a man in a dress, but when we see Dietrich or Diane Keaton in a “smoking” we declare them a fashion trend setter? No one’s threatened by a woman in a suit; it’s considered a no-brainer that a woman would want to upgrade and wear the trappings of suave manhood. But frail male psyches can’t assimilate a man in a skirt; it’s ludicrous, even dangerous, that a man would lower himself to a woman’s status. Horror! Christianity is an easier analysis. The bible tells you so, so there. As an old, white fag—and how dare you call me old—I can’t speak with any authority about ideas of manhood and womanhood in the Black community. I can only tentatively point out what I think I see: the historical importance of religion and all forms of tradition that unite against a threat, whether it’s sin or injustice; the historical importance of playing by the rules, not rocking the boat more than is required; the central position that struggle—real, physical struggle—has always assumed. What can I report, first hand, about gay men, from a lifetime of observation? What does a gay man take to the second date? goes the set-up. What second date? comes the punchline. But this is equally true: If every man had been a warrior, culture would be a non-starter, the human race, extinct. Male identity is a fragile thing, in need of constant renewal and revision. Free from the stabilizing, conservative influence of women, who throw a much-needed anchor to the straight male, gay men move through life like explorers without a map, with the danger always present that we’ll use sex as our compass, that we’ll lurch from one encounter to the next with nothing to show for our trouble except alienation and shallow self-absorption, a constant craving for validation by another notch on the bedpost: collect ’em, keep ’em, trade ’em with your friends! This I freely admit. But what is that your business, you high-minded hets who, excuse me, brought the world Reverse Cow-Girl when we were still working out how to open the jar of petroleum jelly. Sexual practice is an insultingly limited sampling to serve as anyone’s sole identity, unless you’re the Marquis de Sade, Helen Gurley Brown (look it up, baby feminists) or the inventor of the Fleshlight, in which case, congratulations on lifetimes well spent. Gay men don’t spend our time obsessing about what you do in bed, and it’s time you stopped obsessing about us. Raise your sights a little, sisters and brothers, and admit the very real gift that gay men possess, of helping the human family survive itself. I guarantee you’ve experienced it, whether you’re aware of it or not. You may think it’s like trying to describe an orange without using the word “orange”, but think what gay men really bring to the table. Fully clothed and at large, at our best, gay men find creative impulses, and nurture them like newborns. A famous quote, and how I wish it were mine, has it that “Homosexuality is nature’s way of ensuring that the truly gifted aren’t burdened with children.” We use our greater stores of empathy, our kindness, our wit, our powers of observation that come from our status as outsiders, our instinct to defuse conflict, our emotional intelligence, to build bridges and heal rifts—when everyone stops hyperventilating about our inability to conform. (Which reminds me of an experiment I’m designing, in which I accost straight couples on the street and ask, “Which one of you is the man?”) Gay men are indestructible. You may see fluff, but we’re harder than nails. Gay men are eternal. Beat us, kill us, mock us, we’re never going away. You need us so much that every generation gets its two percent. We’ve walked through fires that would burn you up and come out the other side with a Broadway musical and ten new color schemes. You gotta admit, it’s a look. And when our strategy involves a little more mascara, take it from me—it’s waterproof. ֍ #homophobia #intersectionality #Schitt039sCreek #whiterappers

A Maven Who Meets the Zeitgeist Head-On : Malegrievance “Mike” Atheistbitch-Godisdead

A Maven Who Meets the Zeitgeist Head-On : Malegrievance “Mike” Atheistbitch-Godisdead

So send in your questions! The collision starts now. WITH INAUGURATION DAY SETTING EVERYONE’S NERVES a-janglin’ down south, and its embarrassing, bargain-basement Canadian complement, the show-trial and ousting of tendentious, racist Derek Sloan from the Conservative Party of Canada drifting by unnoticed up here, birthplace of ice cubes and frozen dreams, I thought it fitting to just ignore anything of real consequence and, bearing down like an elderly prima gravida popping out an unwelcome thalidomide baby, birth yet another of my controversial alter egos. Ker-PLOP! The trouble with ousting someone from the Conservative Party for racism and obnoxiousness is the always-present danger that you might get them mixed up with everyone else in the Conservative Party and oust the wrong one. I mean, if it’s even possible for there to be a wrong one, considering they’re all conservatives. To help you differentiate: Derek Sloan is the POS who stood in a freshly plowed field and asked if our Chief Medical Officer, distinguished infectious diseases specialist Doctor Theresa Tam, FRCPC, was working in collusion with the Chinese to get his order from Spring Rolls wrong every Friday night and make us fuck up our pandemic response. He has also “accused” her of being transgender. Jeezus. From Amal Clooney to Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama, and every other unsung heroine, in the spotlight or laboring behind the scenes, heterosexual men just can’t get their pointy heads around strong, gutsy women of achievement. They’re really men, of course, or else they cast about for some fatal flaw that will diminish them in the world’s eyes, so they believe, anyway. Ten out of ten times, they get it hilariously wrong. Guys! How many times do I have to tell you. Being transgender is not a shameful secret that you can use against someone. It’s just normal life. It’s just another expression of gender, itself a societal construct. It’s not like something scandalous and criminal and incomprehensible, a stain on someone’s conscience that they’d want to hide, like being a conservative. OK? The Inauguration, because of the U.S. being currently in the grip of toxic, armed Neo-Nazi flat earthers and conspiracy theorists who think Trump, someday soon, is going to go like TA-DA and be revealed in his glory, through parted clouds spilling god-light, as Christ the Toupée, is being pared down a bit. Just a lectern, a microphone, a big sheet of bulletproof plexiglass and a few body bags ready to contain the bloody, quivering arms, legs and torsos that could be all that remains of Weepy Joe, not-quite-black-enough Kamala, don’t-forget-to-call-her Doctor Jill Biden, and the First Husband, what’s-his-name, once the pipe bombs go off. And I’ve been wondering: “Doctor” Jill Biden, with your Certificate of Turning up Online from the Learning Annex, take note: anybody can pick up a couple of templates from Staples, but if you’re a Doctor of Education, can you cure stupid? Right? So much for America! The U.S., face-it, just knows how to put on a kick-ass live potential terrorist event, and all without lazy falling back on typical Cirque du soleil-style crowd pleasers, like a bunch of self-fellating French mimes playing floating grand pianos upside down. Here in Canada, the closest we’ve come to a terrorist attack on a politician is the guy who drove his car up to the gates of the prime minister’s residence, then changed his mind, apologized, then drove to Tim Hortons and had a Steeped Tea to calm his shattered nerves. “Jeezus, when I think how wrong that could have gone, eh, with me in such a snarky mood!” the would-be attacker remarked to reporters, after a cautious thirty-mile-an-hour car chase through downtown Ottawa with their seat belts on, during which they stopped at all the red lights, drove extra-slowly, without sirens or honking impatiently, past an elementary school in case of darting children, and helped an elderly blind woman use the cross-walk. And now, without any further, or previous, or any type of ado whatsoever, frankly, allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to introduce you to my special guest today, the woman, and I use the term in its broadest sense, who put lipstick on while riding the Megabus to New York thinking it was lip salve, and started a self-esteem revolution: Malegrievance “Mike” Atheistbitchgodisdead, Certified Relationship Maven Extraordinaire and if she’s the wrong size or color, just regift her—I’ve kept the receipt. Welcome, Malegrievance— Mike, call me Mike, please! Thank you, Mike, welcome to the show, or rather, blog—you know, this is such a thrill but I have to admit, I feel so oog-y and awkward and nervous speaking with you! I’m used to it, Darryl, believe me! And I see you’re in your signature off both shoulders ensemble, with make up that takes more than a little inspiration from, where does it exactly, you know— Devon, whether it’s crunching numbers for the World Bank or crunching cocktail peanuts with a glass of Veuve Clicquot at Davos, my signature look has you covered. It’s a little bit “Pagliacci,” a little bit flat web design and a big, wet dollop of let out of maximum security psych ward a bit too early! Well let’s cut to the chase. Tell me, why did you choose “Malegrievance” as your feminist, post-fun-to-be-with name? It stems from the conundrum at the heart of our human existence, namely: why do men still exist when we’ve had turkey basters for nigh on – It must be at least a century, Yes, indeed. I know my grandmother had a turkey baster, which she kept in her bedroom, I guess because it was so crucial around Thanksgiving and she always wanted to have it by her side. I’m going to complete this interview using the “Answer a Question” feature from Facebook. Ready? Let me just pull this camisole a bit further down, to completely expose my breasts. There, ready. I know that you’re extremely well-travelled, some would say, been around the block. Ha ha. Seriously, how many countries have you visited? I’ve traipsed the Kingdom United,
East to West in America the Blighted.
Fulfilled many a need in
The midnight sun’d Sweden
A quick in and out for the land of the Kraut
And the French city called Ah, Paree.
But I’ve never been to Me. Would you like a tissue? I’m OK. You would like to travel to….? … Forget my infamous past. Indeed. Getting to know you a bit better, between spring, summer, fall and winter, what do you prefer? Frenzied masturbation to the point of chafing! I completely identify. It’s like separated at birth! Carry on. Let’s see now. How do you relax after a hard day? I like to just pour myself a cold drink, find a comfy chair and put my feet down. Did you have a nickname when you were young? I mean when you were a child? Is “Hey, Faggot” a nickname? What do you value most in life? The priceless lessons it teaches me about love. No wait, sorry—money! Here’s one that really digs deep. Which TV character do you most identify with? I’d have to say—Madame Bovril. If you were a musical instrument, you would be….? Pissed off because I’d probably be made of wood and have metal strings instead of hands. WTF??!! Do you drink coffee? How often? N*[Bodum/4] + π > 0
where N = days in the month
and π = a piece of pi If you could speak to everyone in the world at the same time, what would you say? Could you PLEASE stop taking my phone charger! Thank you!! Malegrievance Atheistbitchgodisdead, it’s been a pleasure! Call me “Mike.” ֍ CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
Send in your relationship questions (any questions at all, really) and our Certified Relationship Maven will answer them in a future post. * Submit a form. *DISCLAiMER: SlowPainful dot Com (SP) will select, publish, answer or not answer questions in its sole discretion. Submitting a question does not guarantee publication. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for clarity or other reasons. All questions become non-exclusive property of SlowPainful dot Com and its heirs and assigns for the rest of eternity throughout the known universe, in all media heretofore known and those yet to be invented, including cloud clairvoyance .and even media that we can’t conceive of because they are so advanced. So just bear that in mind. There is no financial compensation whatsoever for having your question picked, published or answered, or for any reason. In short, just CHILL, OK? ֍

A Forced March Into an Already-Old New Year

A Forced March Into an Already-Old New Year

Lockdown lunacy, a challenge for Nicole—and Trump’s “come-as-dumb-as-you-are” farewell party, with sparklers. Insurrection, January 6th, 2021 I’M PANDEMICKED, WHO ARE YOU? ARE you Pandemicked, too? Did you awaken this morning, as I did, with a stone for a heart, and emitting a groan that echoed through the inner city like twelve ambulances en route to a burning trap house? What a coincidence! In my former life, when every day was a sun-drenched meadow carpeted with buttercups wagging their yellow heads and I was so very, very ungrateful, I would wake up from a terrifying nightmare and enjoy the delicious relief of knowing that none of the monsters were real. No one was chasing me brandishing a Japanese fish filleting knife and a live carp. Oh, pshaw! I was not, after all, running in slo-mo to catch a train, with noodle legs sporting lead boots, through quicksand. How silly! I did not have to play a Brahms concerto I’d never learned on a clunky upright piano for my great-aunts, lined up in their coffins, while my public school principal stood by, eyes like black hollows, wielding a barber’s razor strop. Just my feverish imagination! My life, I now admit with a pang of regret, was a luscious southern Ontario peach, already peeled and served to me by a shirtless George Clooney—because, if you’re reading this, George, and I know you are, Ney-norge, Cloo-cloo, my adoration is too pure and respectful to allow for full nudity, at least for the first ten minutes—a succulent peach served on a Meissen platter from the estate of Marie Antoinette, whilst the red-red bobbin’ robin warbled his damn head off. Not any more, Murgatroyd McGraw. Those days are gone. For well-nigh twelve months now— —I say “months” but it could be years or hours or even some new measure for time, the “ennui,” who knows? “Let’s meet by the entrance to the Food Bank, in twenty ennuis!” and you start to get dressed but suddenly all your shirts look the same, and you can’t find two matching socks, or remember if it’s the first or second Monday of this week, so you just say, “fuck it!” and lie face down in a half-inch of bathwater— —for twelve months now I’m the worm, looking up at a colossal, razor-sharp beak and a gigantic glossy black marble of an eye. Warble, warble, chirp. The robin isn’t hesitating, weighing up options like clemency. He’s listening, waiting for me to betray myself with a breath or a twitch. He’s salivating, or whatever the heck robins do when they’re about to gobble you up. He’s putting off the moment when I become half a worm, then no worm at all; he’s merely anticipating his treat, the way you save a couple of French fries for when you’ve finished your Happy Meal. Here’s where we stand at the beginning of what looks like at least one more year of fucktardery to make 2020 seem like an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation with a bunch of pink, flabby Conservatives ordering up “massages” with happy endings (Hint: you’ll find it under “the flap”) and chortling into their Mai Tai’s: Insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol, incited by Trump and a whole posse of Republicans, with five dead as a result. At least three of them were QAnons and Trumpers, and I’m biting my usually tart tongue with the effort not to be an asshole about it. But you know, and can I just say, seriously. These people died doing what they loved: being idiots, and how many of us will be able to say that? Trump treated his rapt audience on The Mall to his scariest, most unhinged speech to date, excommunicating his loyal side-kick, Mike Pence (who by sheer luck had just a few days earlier found his missing testicles in a cigar box tucked behind his New English Bible), exhorting his thug army to “be strong,” and repeating his shocking lie that the election had been rigged and the presidency stolen from him. Who was really surprised when, finally, whipped into a frenzy and masterfully manipulated by Trump, his followers exploded with the pent-up rage of four years and headed to the Capitol with the intent to stop the certification of Biden’s victory. They’d brought with them pipe bombs, they carried firearms and their own tear gas; they wielded handcuffs made from plastic zip ties and signs reminding us that this was a sacred crusade to “Save America”. “All of them are traitors,” shouted one burly man in his 50’s. “All of them!” Storming the Capitol, they assaulted police offers with hockey sticks, dragged them down stairs, and murdered one with a well-placed blow with a fire extinguisher. They shoved through barricades, ten, twenty rioters easily overcoming the one or two officers manning them, and proving that barricades, like laws, are only effective to the extent that we believe in them. They penetrated the building until they were outside the Senate chamber. What would they have done, if they managed to break in, with tear gas, handcuffs and firearms? We didn’t want to think it possible, yet it is confirmed by the the FBI that the goal was to kidnap and even assassinate lawmakers and remove the voter counts. Many of them knew exactly where to go once inside, suggesting that they’d been briefed in advance. The rioters, overwhelmingly male, uttered death threats to the Speaker, publicly, in texts they were either too stupid or too brazen to conceal. They took selfies sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s chair and mugged as they carted off her lectern, proving that a powerful woman rankles most of all. (More than just liberal, more than SJW, more than elite. Powerful women, a.k.a. bitches, get under the tattooed flesh of every white supremacist. In fact, scratch any old white dude grumbling in his La-Z-Boy while watching the game and you’ll uncover an embryonic white supremacist who only needs a bit of encouragement by the boys down at the garage, his fellow incels wanking over the Pirelli calendar. I suspect, but cannot prove, that one withering look from Nancy Pelosi and they’d scatter like a pile of dirty socks confronted with a Tide pod.) The rioters were sad, bewildered schmucks, like medieval peasants who’d breached the walls of the castle. Their bravado, their obvious disdain for the sanctity of the Capitol and their cluelessness about its history, betrayed the tawdriness of their mission. They were revealed as no more than hard-core white trash, air-lifted from the trailer park and beamed into a gilded ballroom in a distant galaxy where courtiers danced a minuet. These are the Philistines, the Puritans and the pioneers, this is the true, no-frills-permitted, anti-elitist spirit of America. This is the world that’s coming: contemptuous, resentful, driven by ignorance and hunger. “Let’s have trial by combat!” shouted Rudy Giuliani, and they delivered. What in god’s name happened to the Rudy Giuliani who stood in the smoldering graveyard of the Twin Towers and solemnly comforted the nation, who reminded New Yorkers that they were not defeated, that they would survive even that horror? Twenty years later, here he is, slumming it, a universally despised, witless clown, ordering home-grown terrorists to break into the cockpit and fly the jets themselves. Is it “the Trump effect”? If clueless lack of class and self-serving amorality are this contagious, we should have been wearing masks every time we logged on to Twitter. What have we learned from the Trumpers’ Revolt of January 6th, 2021? Well, dudes, democracy is fragile. Also, I’m TOTALLY giving up wearing casual clothing made from small game. Sooooo overdone. Never a good choice. I see this now. Twitter has reacted by banning Trump, and I can only congratulate them for their stern reprimand and decisive action, following what must have been a tortured four years of uncertainty. The rest of us came to the facile conclusion, starting around November, 2016, that delivering racist monologues and demonizing journalists, all the way up to pressuring foreign governments for intelligence, threatening public health with bizarre “alternative” cures and disinformation about a deadly pandemic and directing your followers to riot and kill based on the lie that you won an election you actually lost, did not count as “free speech,” but you guys took the trouble to make one hundred percent sure that Trump’s hateful rhetoric wasn’t protected, just nonsense you’d punish a five-year-old for indulging in, except that Trump’s version is in-your-face, full-bore sedition. Following suit are legions of high-minded political donors abandoning Trump like rats casually walking down the gangplank with the ship safely in harbor. Twitter, we are devastated that, without your due diligence and “can-do” attitude, we might have been too hasty with our condemnations. Next step: Check the barns for bolted horses and secure those doors! Even Melania “Be Bester!” herself has come out of seclusion and, seductively pulling on some Ralph Lauren pantyhose, stood up once again for American values. Yes, Melania has unequivocally and unhesitatingly condemned the violence—the violence done to her, that is, by people who interpreted her saying “who gives a fuck about Christmas” and chainsawing the Rose Garden as somehow negative. Honestly, you’d expect we could at least give this walking testimonial to Photoshop the benefit of the doubt! Except there’s no doubt. Forgive us, Melania, for we knew not what they teached! More? This must be what the man meant when he said, “the fun never stops!” Toronto is entering yet another lock-down phase where we are compelled to stay at home, except for life-essentials such as bidding goodbye through panes of glass to the elderly relatives you’ve abandoned to the humiliating ministrations of abusive nursing aides in squalid, unregulated long-term care facilities. Thank our lucky stars that we can still buy food and bath salts at mom-and-pop shops as long as we do curbside pickup. But why do that when we can grab a cart and play bump’ems down the aisles at Walmart and Costco, who clearly need our custom, and stock up on flat-screen TVs whose prices are cheerfully subsidized by starvation-wage workers housed in jumbo tents in snowbanks, and who have finally evolved to live on the carbon dioxide the rest of us exhale. Praise Judy, Mother of Liza, for memories of fine dining, as we co-opt the homeless, who are officially not bound by the lockdown orders, to pick up our Pad Thai and souvlaki and chow mein from restaurants on the verge of bankruptcy and deliver them to us, we who are so far untainted by anything except disdain for the homeless and greed. For COVID-19, Doug Ford’s research has established, also shares our good taste, leaving those experiencing homelessness amazingly free from infection and ready to become our concierges with dirty faces. Let’s make lemonade, like this: My building’s management has asked us to share our stories of inspiration. Did we start a blog (!), learn a new skill? Affirmative! I’m developing a circus act in which I stare at the ceiling with a haunted expression for an entire night, then spend the next eighteen hours pacing my apartment with my pants around my ankles, eating mayonnaise and alternately weeping hysterically then laughing like Charlotte Corday just before she stabbed Marat. In French, of course. It’ll slay them in Des Moines. And because I’m old and pine for that simpler, more sophisticated terrorism of days of yore, I sometimes épater those touchy bourgeois by pulling on a hijab and shouting “Vive le Québec libre!” which also satisfies my CanCon requirements. Canadian angst. What a joke, quel bavardage! The U.S. has riots, every state legislature tensed for attack, more riots and perhaps even a bomb attack during the Inauguration. What do we have for scandal and mayhem? Some measly non-recusals and a few hypocritical hols! No deaths. No infidelities. No one’s ever shouted “piece of shit!” or “traitor!” at Castro’s love child. We’ll never play with the big boys at this rate. But that’s the sad story of our Canuck lives: always the bridesmaid, never the hangman at the mass execution of one’s political enemies! Adding final insult to injury like a Tim Hortons worker dumping sugar into your triple-triple, Nicole Kidman is being cast in a biopic as Lucille Ball. Nicole Kidman! Whoever made the decision to deny Meryl Streep yet another chance to suck all the oxygen out of the room with her gift for mimicry and plumb the depths of Lucy’s tortured soul will surely have some splainin’ to do, which is not at all cliché or racist, unless, like me, you wear the badges of Politically Correct and Social Justice Warrior with unabashed pride. Social Justice Warrior. We live in a world where people are mocked, hated, even, because they believe in social justice. Did you remember that? Glad we’re all on the same page again. ֍ #Pandemic #DougFord #insurrection #torontolockdown039 #capitolriots

For God’s Sake, Don’t Look in Your Stocking

For God’s Sake, Don’t Look in Your Stocking

Twenty-twenty has been just one ginormous lump of coal Flagellation: The True Meaning of Christmas Remember when you were a kid, you used to get The Christmas Talk? Be a good girl, a nice boy, or Santa will put a lump of coal in your stocking. And you just rolled your eyes. A lump of coal! What kind of child-abusing scumbag would do a thing like that? As it turned out, Santa was a hoax. Your mom bought the presents and your dad put up the tree. Your mom and dad were an undercover crime duo, like Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers (and, somewhere in the mix, a cute dog.) You found out the truth about Santa at school, during recess. It was like the last moments in the final scene of Wozzeck, the German expressionist opera by Alban Berg. Marie, the slut, has been murdered by Wozzeck, the pitiful put-upon Everyman antihero. In the final scene, Marie’s child is rocking on a hobby horse, and a bunch of older children go running past him. “Hey! Your mother’s dead!” shouts the spokeschild for the group, a vicious little twerp who should probably not apply for a job as singing telegram delivery boy. Hop! hop! replies Marie’s child. Hop! hop! He’s only three, too young to comprehend. It’s one of the most pathetic, heart-rending scenes you’ll ever witness on a stage. Likewise you and Santa. You’re at recess and Billy Scruggins shouts: Hey! There’s no Santa Claus! and you hold back your tears like a little soldier. No way you’re going to tell mom and dad. God knows how they’d take it! You gotta let them keep some illusions, after all. Anyway. First in your stocking: Are you ready for The Vaccine and its <Hammond Organ chords> sinister microchip? I know you heard about that on Facebook, the obvious destination for straightforward, factual reporting. They’re going to inject us with a vaccine that contains this electronic Trojan horse, a microchip. The authors of that video mashed up interviews with Bill Gates and various politicians and edited them to create the impression that they were saying shit they actually didn’t say, and had taken things they did say out of context. I know you guys watched this one hundred billion times and then sent it to a hundred billion friends. You bought it, because we all have confirmation bias, meaning we don’t seek out the truth. We seek out voices that confirm our beliefs, so we can feel social cohesion with people who are just as stupid as we are. That’s more important than the truth, apparently, in an evolutionary sense. Man, the truth is a lonely place. I know how Galileo must have felt when he threw a grown-up conservative and a tiny child conservative out of the highest window of a tower: relieved that there was one less grown-up and potential grown-up conservative around. To his surprise, they hit the ground at the same time, something to do with mass and velocity and towers and gravity, which is handy to know, so that when you have a bit of spare time you can defenestrate conservatives as efficiently as possible. Try to pay attention for this next bit. It’s important. So, Murgatroyd McGraw. The microchip is on the vial of vaccine. The microchip is not in the vaccine. What is wrong with you? It’s on the vial and it’s like the best-by date. It’s not in the vaccine, to be injected into you so it can control you and watch your every move. What a ridiculous, paranoid idea! We have your phone for that. Crazy right-wingers think Justin Trudeau is planning a coup along with a bunch of other socialists. If you don’t get the vaccine you’ll be put in a camp, and if you do get it—you’ll be microchipped. Guys. Justin can’t even manage to track down pics of himself in blackface and destroy them (it’s possible he didn’t even remember they existed). Justin can’t even manage to recuse himself and walk out of a room to save a student intern program, a beloved Canadian charity and his mother’s honor. Well, admittedly, it’s hard to walk wearing ankle chains. Jeezus. We’ve got to stop trying to up the crazy to U.S. levels. Our heart just isn’t in it. Except, maybe, Conservative hearts. Erin O’Toole, Canada’s bald, blustering bad-boy and Conservative leader, is on Justin’s case about delivery of the vaccine. Just imagine his angry voter base: “The PM is late with our vaccine programs! Incompetent!”
“I know, right? I wish he’d hurry up so we can refuse to take it as soon as we possibly can. Time is of the essence!” Are we following the protocols? Schools in, school’s out! Wear your mask! Close your restaurant! Stay at home! Don’t wear your mask! Deal with this open assault on your freedom! Open your restaurant! Take off your mask! Go to school! I just don’t get all the fuss and protest. All we have to do is follow the simple, clear, consistent instructions! Reliable stats show that it’s not schools that are vectors of transmission. That’s because ten-year-olds understand what to do. It’s the adults who are complete fucktards about it. No, wait. It’s the Young People who are causing all the ruckus. Imagine, going to the beach when we’re in the middle of a pandemic that so limits your already useless life that all you can do is go to an open restaurant, where you punch out the hostess because the bitch asks you to wear a mask; drive across the American border in the stale-weed atmosphere of your eighteen-wheeler; or invite “ten people” (nudge, wink), guaranteed all perfectly socially distanced, to the Mah-jongg tournament in your living room. I know that beaches have wide open spaces and salubrious breezes off the lake; living rooms are Corona petri dishes with closed windows, patchouli oil burners and more CO2 than a Pepsi bottling plant, all crammed into a hundred square feet, but still. Those whippersnappers at the beach! Have Young People no sense of community? The economy is important. So, your grandma died. That sucks, but after all, what’s so unique about your grandma that we can’t get from any random old woman at the Sunset Lodge? That’s what happens with old age, you know. Your features melt and stretch and sag; if you’re a female you grow a beard and if you’re male your penis shrivels up and your body gets all soft and you grow boobs. Mother Nature is turning you back into clay. Your features blur into a doughy Everyperson. You’re like a marble cake, swirls and veins of all humanity and every gender. (Plus, somewhere in the mix, your cute dog with the cataracts.) Dude, I mean, it’s a shame, but—the economy! What, are we going to tell Elon Musk that he can’t buy Paraguay now, because of your cake mix of a grandmother? And not even Duncan Hines cake mix — No Name. Generic! As if you’d even notice if we substituted the lady in the next room at the hospice! And she had a good life, which she sacrificed—admittedly without a lot of consultation—so Tim Hortons workers can stay out of the rain and pour your triple-triple. If you miss her from time to time, you know what? Just watch a couple episodes of Golden Girls. It’ll take the edge off. What’s really important is that you listen to politicians, not scientists. Scientists! What a slippery slide-y lot! One day Fauci’s telling you that the universe revolves around you, and the next day? He flip-flops. Masks are good, masks aren’t so good; the earth’s flat, the earth’s round, yada yada. Truth never changes. Listen to Doug Ford. There’s a man who knows what’s what, speaks his mind. He knows what’s important to fund, what to cut. One stop shop for all the definite answers. I hope he gets the Governor General’s Macaroni Picture for Turning Up to Work. It’ll look lovely ont he fridge! Life in the U.S. is back to its normal mode in which Americans vote for the reality they want. And Americans Have Had Their Say! Sixty percent of them believe kindly Joe, and what you wanna bet the Dems will win ONE of the two seats in the Senate they need? Forty percent believe Trump won the election. Most Republicans, in fact. I actually kind of admire that. I mean, to believe his allegations requires quasi-religious devotion, once it sinks in that the President of the United States baldly lied about basically everything several times a day for four years, and now is attempting to annul a democratic presidential election which even Republicans have vouchsafed is the most transparent in living memory, with not a hint of irregularity. But Trump says “fraud” and they stand at attention, armed and ready. Can you blame them for believing him? I can’t. Because what would it say about them, if they admitted they’d been stupid enough to elect someone who lies as their aerobics routine? That they’d elected someone who you could literally not trust a single thing that came from his mouth? Of course they believe him! They have no choice. They’ve invested too much time and energy and army tank rental costs. It’s like waiting for the bus and it gets to be twenty, thirty, forty minutes. Now you have to keep waiting for the bus. That’s seventy million little faces screwed up in concentration, demonstrating the power of prayer. Did anyone see the witch on TV? The Republican witch who chanted for Angels to bring in the era of Trump? “Owchta-magowchta, archangel of Omaha, I invoke thee!” I’m not making this up, you know. Is this your new life, then? Sighing wistfully with your nose pressed against the window pane in between bouts of slutty virtual sex with strangers on Zoom? Be careful, lest you appear in a business meeting, as I did last week, with your slutname blazing in hundred-watt bulbs: Good morning, errr, KinkySeniorDude! Happy to onboard you for Shopify! Be honest. Are you not actually rather enjoying life repurposed as an amateur roadshow of Mad Max 12: Loo Paper Apocalypse? (After the Mad Max franchise, pretty boy Mel—“Shyla” to his friends—went on to create pretentious biblical homo-epics in Aramaic, but turns out that Jesus, whipped till he pops a woody then nailed to the Cross in a designer loincloth, is just a different, more self-righteous version of that fruity gay bottom in “Road Warrior,” who gets banged by a biker then scalped with a boomerang thrown by a retarded dwarf.) Tell Uncle David. Do you talk these days mostly in shrieks and sobs, like a Dementor? Is there anything left of your dignity—remember dignity? Yeah, neither do I—intelligence or giving a toss about climate change? Or even an underwear change? Does the thought of one more loaf of homemade bread make you vomit, then laugh like Vincent Price? Are you starting to wonder if the Earth really is flat, are you worried that Santa’s real, but too fat to fit down the chimney? Do you even have a chimney? And it doesn’t count, that Heinz baked beans can with both ends cut off, stuck in your campfire under the Gardiner Expressway. Do you start to notice sinister details, for instance, that “Santa” is an anagram of “Satan”? And that he spends a suspicious amount of time sneaking around after dark, entering your home in a sexually-suggestive Freudian manner and hanging about with an inappropriate demographic? And when was the last time you saw Stephen Miller wearing a faggy-pedo red pantsuit with white fur trim? OK, and when was the last time you saw Hillary wearing a—right? We’re in the home run to YouKnowWhatmas. Time for a trillion tedious conservatives with a million followers each on YouTube to complain they’re being censored and to remind us that there’s a War on Christmas. A war for which I gladly volunteer. In fact, just this afternoon, on my way back from the corner store, I fire-bombed two dachshunds wearing reindeer ears and a little girl licking a candy cane. Then I rounded up some Muslim bro’s, a couple of rabbis, and Richard Dawkins, we all pulled on our football cleats and we jumped on their lifeless bodies, then danced our Hanukkah-Infidel-Atheist Dance of Triumph while singing our new anti-nativity carol: Away With the Manger! Christmas, Schmistmas! Stamp that sucker OUT! Three hundred and forty-one thousand deaths so far in the US, half the population is rioting with the other half about putting on a little mask to love thy neighbour as thyself, but—fuck that bullshit! We want Christmas, you know? The kind that has a sale afterwards. My mind is as muddled as my mother’s mincemeat tarts, which appeared every year around November, gag-full of glacé fruit, hard chunks of bitter citrus peel and currants, which are extra-dry raisins with a single particle of sand in the centre, just for a treat. All suspended in something brown and viscous. Was it HP Sauce? Her lips are sealed tight as the lid of her coffin, but I’ll bet you Bitcoin to Timbits there was something nasty in that chaotic mix. Pine-Sol? A distinct possibility. That woman would have vacuumed her bush, not a bad idea if you consider the likelihood of cobwebs, so the idea of a cleansing flush of Christmas cheer must have occurred to her at some point. Would you like your gastric chemical peel in lavender or rosemary? Stocking stuffers are the best part of Christmas. You can buy any old tat, shove it into what looks like a red-flannel deep-vein thrombosis cuff and no one can complain. My mother used to tell me that, in her day, when buffalo roamed where we now have semi-naked loony bin rejects living under jumbo anoraks in derelict parks, she would get an orange in her stocking. An orange! Hand-picked by slaves then schlepped via carrier pigeon to the northern wilds of Huntsville, Ontario, I have no doubt! But I could never feign the correct response to this story, full of respect and appreciation for the simplicity of times long ago-ago-y. I’d stay silent, but my mental response was always more like: Wow! You used to crave the fruit that’s common as dirt! Oranges, trailer-trash of the citrus world. What a loser! It’s like when I recount yet another wonder of the olden days to a millennial; how music came on shiny discs that ceased to function with the merest scratch or smudge, how we used to handle them with white gloves, like the family silver, and rub them from the centre outward with alcohol gel before turning them into ashtrays at twenty-five dollars each, with the implication that this was better than Spotify. Or check your stocking for a pomegranate, hard to navigate at the best of times, due to the one-half micromol of delicious juice that’s trapped, an afterthought, in the membrane surrounding each of a thousand tongue-puckering astringent seeds. My mother told me that she would pick them out with a pin. When the sheer delight of that palled, she would, ever resourceful with the two resources at hand, run up to the nearest outcropping of Canadian Shield and peel off thin sheets of mica. This was her version of dolls, just like my grand piano and antihistamines were my version of a mother actually loving me and tucking me into bed. Ah, her incomparable apple pie, which to this day I insist should be served still warm from the oven, with a botched suicide, or at least the threat of one if you’re pressed for time. Please note: you can’t stick your head in a microwave. Best wait until Sunday dinner, when you already have the gas range open. Pins. She must have conferred at least once with her mother-in-law, Ruby Roddis, née Campbell, who once showed me what appeared to be a five-foot long pin with a pink pearl on the end—a hat pin. This object, she teased, with what I suppose she mistook for an air of scampy mischievousness, held her hat on her head because she pushed it right into her scalp. Grandmothers are supposed to be all pink and white, with silver hair and rosy apple cheeks and twinkling eyes, smelling of Elizabeth Arden. Mine was a character they cut from the script of Hellraiser because the test audiences fainted. When it gets close to Easter I still wake up sobbing, if I ever get to sleep in the first place. At our house at 908 King Street, Whitby, we apostates started the custom of opening our presents on Christmas Eve. This was supposedly to relieve the suspense and stress of waiting for the morning, in a sense true, but not because of me and my two sisters. The suspense was in anticipating the moment when my mother’s face would slowly implode with disappointment that her presents did not demonstrate the full measure of thoughtfulness, attention and love that she needed on a minute to minute basis, her need now amplified by comparing the value of her presents with her kids’. You got the Arnold Palmer Table Golf set, but I only got this lousy Liberty scarf! Paid for with my own money! That’s probably when I learned my first life lesson: That in any situation or relationship, at any given moment, someone has to be the designated adult. Also known as: don’t all be sick on the same day. Last year, when I decided to take adulthood for a tentative spin, this bit of Cheetos wisdom made for a bit less work. At six years old it was definitely a stretch, but still. Compared to my mother I was Moses and a couple of Elijahs teaching Kabbalah on Masterclass. The end of year, that lame-duck run up to a dutiful celebration of more stuff we don’t need and more food to throw away, has always been a sated anticlimax. Nothing could have lived up to those promises of beaming adorable children and bowdlerized saints, the unbearable burden of enforced good cheer and mandatory happy endings. The gift I had so desperately wanted? Just the sight of it filled me with loathing. I felt like a trainee terrorist who’d held my parents hostage. There was no surprise, no imagination, no delight, just a cowed payment of ransom: a trinket that advertising had made irresistible. I felt sick, like I’d unfairly leveraged my position as Son Who Must Be Placated. And my family’s squeamishness about any physical expression of feelings meant that we didn’t know how to respond, even for the dime-store, jokey gifts, the dinky toys and silly putty and Mr Potato Heads. My family was three kids, a sicko and an absent dad; three de facto adults, a child and a renegade. There was no model for saying “thanks” clean of subtext, need or passive-aggressive revenge. Every word had a cutting edge, every emotion an agenda. Embraces were the fumblings of Stepford Wife arms and clunking Tin Man lips, negative skills gleaned at the tight-assed WASP academy where the curriculum taught resentful gossip, not face-to-face discussion; anxious clutching, not genuine hugs. Our only template in this Miss Manners-free universe was my mother’s palpable disappointment and sighed refrain of “Oh, well, then. That’s nice, thank you, dear.” After all, it’s the thought that counts—for nothing. She would have reacted the same if we’d gifted her with a Liberty scarf or our dirty underwear. “Oh well. Let’s launder this dirty underwear then make a resentful reference to it three months from now, while I’m serving dessert!” I wanted to hug my mom, if only she had been a different mom, someone who wasn’t a narcissistic borderline personality with an emotional age of eight who assumed the world had been expressly designed as a focus group about her. But, alas! As I reached through the two-way mirror and gingerly wrapped my reluctant arms around her bony sparrow’s frame, I’d find she’d shape-shifted into Richard Nixon. Which reminds me. Did you know that Trump was going to play this game? Of course you did, and while you’re here, is any one of you about to say, “But he did some really good things for the economy!” or something else from that tolerant place where everyone has some redeeming qualities? Because you can spare yourself the effort. Sure, he might have redeeming qualities, but do they outweigh “puts kids in cages”? Maybe he’s nice to Melania occasionally, does that offset using a phony charity to fund his campaign? Or trying to deny desperate Americans affordable healthcare during a pandemic? Criminals may send flowers to their moms, but, once convicted, we still put them in prison. They’re still a danger to society. You see? I’m not Trump’s bestie. I’m not comforted by his pardoning a turkey or even Roger Stone. I’m an alarmed citizen of Canada, the best bro’ of the U.S. since forever, and I see what Trump has wrought in terms of lowering the tone on a global scale. Trump did not cause the sickening decline in U.S. values, yet he modeled them and gave them credibility. He gave hatred and serial Big Mac eating his imprimatur. He was the carnation in the lapel of fascism. A company is only as good as its CEO. The values and vision at the top are reflected throughout the organization. Trump has furthered the dumbing down of America. He’s taught his base that the rule of law doesn’t matter, not that he or his base actually understand what that means; he’s demonstrated that you can and should get away with whatever you think you can get away with, because even if it’s not everything it’s a helluva lot more than you thought. And isn’t he the one! He’s got away with rape, theft, adultery — which, if you think about it, should mean “any old stuff that adults do” — lying, fraud, and the worst sin of all: being a bore. Trump “stacked” the Supreme Court, and though he may win back the support of rabid Christians by throwing them an abortion bone, he is in for a surprise. He already had two with DACA and LGBT equality: Roberts led the way recently by handing Trump the opposite of what he was seeking. Justices and lawyers may have their legal opinions and interpretations, but none so far in the U.S. has gone the full 1984 “war is peace slavery is freedom” route. They still revere justice, which involves a search for truth and fact. They still balk. At time of writing, Trump and the state of Texas, along with sixteen others, have applied to the Supreme Court in an effort to nullify the results of a Presidential election which have been certified by most states as the most secure, reliable and free from chicanery in U.S. history. Even William Barr, sleaze-bag pimp to the Justice Department, has told him to move on (he’s since moved on himself). You know what this means, don’t you? Of course. We’re actually witnessing history’s laziest, lamest attempted coup d’état. A very Merry Whatsmas to All. Don’t forget to send a big tax break to Jeff Bezos and to blame something, anything, on Justin. Did you know he’s Castro’s love child? Suddenly, it all makes sense. ֍ #Antivaxxers #JustinTrudeau #fobbingoff #Trumpelectionloss #ErinO039Toole

Most of the Time I Slap It

Most of the Time I Slap It

Comedy, safely sandboxed, gives us permission to think the unthinkable, say the unsayable. Another in a series about my favorite classic movies. SOME LIKE IT HOT Release date: Mar. 29, 1959 (United States)
Director: Billy Wilder
Gross revenue: 194,900 USD
Screenwriters: Billy Wilder · I.A.L. Diamond
Awards: Academy Awards (1) · Golden Globe Awards (3) · British Academy Film Awards (1) · Other awards (2)
Music by: Adolph Deutsch I REMEMBER THROWING ON A DVD OF Some Like It Hot for a group of twelve-step buddies who’d joined me at home after a meeting. This would have been sometime around 2008 or 2009. We were guzzling coffee and chain-smoking (apparently there is no hope for caffeine or nicotine fiends) and as the opening credits ran I eagerly anticipated their chortles, grunts and snorts of laughter. Oh, what a treat they were in for! How lucky they were not to have seen it yet, so they could see it now! With me! Thus began two more hours of my life spent in an agony of embarrassment; for the record, possibly the first such agony achieved on my own, for I had normally relied on my mother to provide expert humiliation and reduce me to a backward five-year-old who’d just wet his pants in church. But she had recently kicked the harvest-gold bucket, moved on to bigger and better victims, and was no doubt now engaged in creating awkward moments of toe-curling shame for God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and his tarted up brunch party of pretentious seraphim. My sober friends sat like moss-covered stones in appalled, almost complete silence for the entire two hours’ duration, with just the occasional tongue-cluck, watch glance or impatient sigh to telegraph, in case I’d missed my complete social disgrace, their disgust at the clunky, old-fashioned humor and the corny set-up, not to mention the black and white aesthetic (Wilder decided on black and white after deciding that the two male stars looked too grotesque in color). “There’s a LOT OF TALKING in this movie!” marveled one of the gang, as though critiquing a sincere but mediocre effort by a newbie screenwriter instead of one of the top one hundred film comedies of all time, performed by human actors, no less. Meh. You’d think I would have been used to it by now, because I was not then, am not now, and never will be, cool. I’m stuck somewhere in a bland beige sunken living room memorizing back issues of the Readers’ Digest, while in the basement the hot nerds with microscopes and pet tarantulas practice back flips on their sexual jungle gyms, and up in the penthouse, gym-rat beach boys drop out of the womb already down to edit the year book, scrape by at U of T Engineering, and turn down offers of porn-stardom from GorgeousBabes dot com, eventually building a world-class party planning business or inventing a new sex toy while wearing next season’s clothing. It should be understood that both of these groups wear eyeglasses with black, David-shaped inserts on the lenses, like the eyeglasses once rumored to have been created for squeamish bullfight attendees. The plot of Some Like it Hot, if you’re not familiar, is as follows: It’s 1929 Chicago. Two speakeasy musicians, Jerry and Joe, (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) escape from a Prohibition raid only to end up witnessing the St Valentine’s Day massacre or some fictional derivative. Barely escaping from being murdered on the spot, they disguise themselves as females and join an all-girl band heading to Florida, where they’ll be far away from the gangsters who are on their case. But also in the all-girl band is their lead singer and ukulele virtuoso, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe). She’s a little bit of a drunk and a sucker for saxophone players, and she’s definitely all girl. The girls-who-are-boys are instantly smitten, but Joe in particular. He undertakes the project of playing the persona of a rich young oil baron who speaks like Cary Grant (making this a man-as-girl-as-man disguise) in order to woo the ditzy Sugar and to conceal that he’s one of those dastardly saxophone players who’s always letting her down. Meanwhile, one of the filthy rich older gentlemen, Osgood Fielding III, who winters at the hotel is instantly smitten with Jerry in his guise as “Daphne.” All very handy when the boys agree that Jerry will keep Osgood occupied on land that night while Joe uses Osgood’s yacht to impress Sugar. All seems to be focused on love and romance in its farcical and unrequited varieties. Then, when we ‘ve almost forgotten the organized crime element, the mobsters turn up. From this point all is murder and mayhem, and the story reaches its climax and dénouement. Like all of Billy Wilder’s efforts, there is high and low comedy, but also a tinge of the deadly serious. This undermines the cliches and, farcical as the events are, the stakes are high. We’ve seen a mass murder of gangsters by gangsters before we’re even fifteen minutes into the movie, and will witness another at about fifteen minutes before the end. The murders are grisly and shocking and not played for laughs. It’s like the inverse of Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, which surfaces comical gallows humor within a tragedy. Some Like It Hot underpins frothy farce with horror, romcom with melodrama. Some decry Some Like it Hot as a Jurassic-era example of blatant misogyny and stereotyped sex roles. I disagree. But even if I did agree, first of all, we can’t chuck all of the movie canon because the attitudes in a 1950’s movie are, well, those of the 1950’s. We do need to examine if these elements are so egregious that they make the work unwatchable in 2020. This is clearly not the case with Some Like It Hot. The usual romantic tropes are cleverly refurbished: instead of being a rapacious sex dog, Curtis, as the oil heir, feigns impotence when it comes time for his yacht tryst with Marilyn. It becomes Sugar’s challenge to raise the standard, so to speak. Luckily she sold kisses for the milk fund! Curtis’ insulting comments regarding acting with Monroe (“like kissing Hitler,” whatever the heck that was supposed to mean) come across as way more misogynist that anything actually on screen. Lemmon, as Daphne, surprises us by really enjoying the status of kept plaything, as his and Osgood’s tango scene proves. In fact, when the boys compare notes, he confesses that he’s accepted an offer of marriage! “Why would a guy want to marry another guy?” Joe exclaims. The answer is delightful: “Security!” Marilyn is probably at her least cliché in this role, even singing passably, albeit in an almost transparent gown, as a spotlight teases the heck out of her breasts. Her character is fun-loving, albeit pessimistic about her prospects in love, which makes it even more amazing to learn that Monroe was a brain-wreck on set because of her addiction to prescription drugs, among other things. The record for number of takes stands at thirty-seven, for the shot where Marilyn says, “It’s me, Sugar.” “Sugar it’s me, it’s Sugar me…” They pasted the lines inside a drawer for access if she needed. Cut, print! Wilder concluded that, yes, she was a pain in the ass, over-sensitive, always monumentally late, often foggy from chemicals. And you could get an actress, any number of them, who were not these things. But then you wouldn’t have Marilyn. Art is most emphatically NOT life. And thank god for that. Art tells us the secrets about life that we all know but pretend we don’ t; idealized versions of life, with all the bits cut out that comprise sandwich-making, bodily functions, waiting for the bus, getting root canal; real-time instances of banal daily routines. And to do this, it sets up sacred spaces. Galleries, studios, stories that are. to use a developers’ term, sandboxes. A sandbox is somewhere you play, making castles out of pails full of sand; it’s also a place with walls, to prevent your creations spilling over into the real world, and to say to the real world, “creator at work, no judgments.” Stand-up comedy is a sandboxed genre. We seem to recognize, collectively, that humor involves breaking boundaries, if we’re not going to spend a boring evening retelling knock-knock jokes, but seeking to cast light on life as she really is. Some of this naturally toes a very, very fine line. Louis CK’s show “Chewed Up” riffs on the words “faggot,” “cunt,” and “nigger.” Each of these words has the wind taken out of its sails by his declaring that, when he uses them, they lose their taboo character and become harmless signifiers of—whatever he chooses. Right. In the same show he talks about the unholy condition of his daughter’s soiled diapers, and, most dangerously, the horned-up state of nine-year-old boys. What gives him authority to speak of these things relatively without condemnation is his status as a parent and, excuse me clearing my throat, a responsible adult. Dave Chappelle speaks with utter candor about whatever comes into his head about race in America, or at least is masterful enough to give that impression. In one joke he compares a scantily-clad woman at a sleazy bar to someone masquerading as a police officer, so that it’s a public nuisance. The woman in the bar is dressed like a whore, he reasons, and that’s as much an act of false advertising as a civilian pretending to be a cop. If it were an emergency… oh, wait. Is needing a “whore” an urgent, life or death situation, an emergency needing an authoritative response? Seems awfully big boots for a small root of flesh. Still. The point of both examples is the leeway we give performers, implicitly. Also, and let the record show I have absolutely no proof of this, I note that the audiences for both performers is primarily heterosexual. Hets are not so sensitized from years of verbal abuse and second-class citizenship as are gay men, who can sometimes be hyper-vigilant in our desire to stamp out injustice and resist being put back into obnoxious categories; and in fact Louis C.K.’s riff on the word “faggot”—”stop being a faggot and suck that dick!” is his ultimate proof that a “faggot” for him is not the same as a gay man, just someone who is, for whatever reason, annoying beyond all hope—is the least convincing of his three word riffs, for he lacks what in legal parlance is called “standing”—direct involvement in or experiencing negative outcomes from the issue being tried. Sarah Silverman is arguably even edgier than the two men quoted above. She takes on 9/11 (“nine eleven widows give great handjobs”), obscure and hyperspecific situations (“if you throw up on a guy’s penis while giving him a blowjob, you can rescue the situation if you can muster a ‘ta-da!’ ” The word “muster” is weirdly, hilariously appropriate, though I can’t really put my finger on why.), and, most tellingly, rape. “Rape jokes: comedy’s hidden gem!” It’s enough to singe your eyebrows off with its slap in the face tastelessness, but somehow the audience at he HBO Special respond with raucous laughter. The “offensive vs. cutting-edge” dichotomy obviously depends on the context, particularly who is speaking. Dave Chappelle saying “nigger” is a whole different world from me saying it. A woman making a rape joke benefits, if that’s the word, from the fact that a woman does have standing: women are victimized by rape, therefore they have the right to take the idea and put it through the blender of their intimate, if that’s the word, relationship to the act. A man making a rape joke would be a nasty business; a woman making a rape joke can be empowering for women, the way a gay man saying “faggot” is empowering. No, I’m not equating the seriousness of rape with uttering a word. Calm down. Enjoy your first or your hundredth viewing of Some Like It Hot, surprisingly, a smash hit when it opened. I attribute this to the absurd premise (men dressed as women! Men getting married, to each other! Who could have imagined!) and two such comfortingly familiar stars that any anxiety about gender roles and sexuality was nipped in the bud. It’s just a buddy film, with dresses and make-up. And as for poor Marilyn, who struggled with not being taken seriously while proving with her tongue in cheek persona that seriousness never stood a chance: I have no doubt that Marilyn (first-name basis) was as exploited as any other female in Hollywood, but I think not more so: her character of the dumb blonde was a brilliant creation, not just laugh-with-able, but sweet, strong, tender and tenacious of life. At least on the silver screen, there’s nothing to be pitied about Sugar Kane, though her plight may awaken memories of our own thwarted attempts to be happy in love. None of us can deny that the world is filled with feckless saxophone players, or that we’ve all licked the fuzzy end of that lollipop from time to time. ֍ #TonyCurtis #crossdressijng #MarilynMonroe #jacklemmon #romanticcomedy039 #somelikeithot

Because It Feels So Good When You Stop

Because It Feels So Good When You Stop

nothing like expecting the world to thank you because you’ve decided you’re not after all going to continue drowning us in the tub, then slit your wrists. Justin Trudeau was the first world leader Biden spoke to. You might think I’m blowing the world a kiss, I’m so happy. But I urge you to listen to the sound again. There may be an alternative interpretation. Justin and Biden. This means we’ve traveled back in time to 2008 to 2016, to when the world was approaching normal, in that… “hog-tied Black president, women still get the privilege of making 70 cents on the dollar, given responsibility with not authority, so they end up working twice as hard as men, as well as serving the coffee, wiping the runny noses and dirty asses of the underlings who snicker at them like schoolboys and refer to them in public as “Mommie;” the women who single-handedly model dancing backwards in high heels while retaining a thin grip on democracy in the midst of a pandemic that’s killed over a million, and that’s only if you’re Angela Merkel; hurricane season starts in April and finishes in March, forest fires rage out of control in Australia and the American west, autocrats roll back human rights from Washington to Wuhan, oh, and hold the phone, the torch of leadership has passed from a moribund America to the Chinese “People’s Republic” where the Uighurs are surveilled with 5G technology and put in camps if they have anything like an errant thought; that world where QAnon is not yet elected to the House of Representatives but is still deciding on ham and pineapple or three-cheese and pepperoni from the pizzeria basement where Hillary and Tom Hanks toss dough into the air and fill Jeffrey Epstein’s order…” …kind of approaching-normal way. Am I awake? Is it over? Am I here, is this real? I don’t think I can cope with normal any more. I’m ruined. I’m just a husk. Check out my dead eyes. Close those curtains, dammit. Hand me the next litre of Kawartha Lakes French Vanilla. No spoon, thanks. I’ll just cry on it until it melts, then use a straw. All over America, numbskulls are dancing in the streets—that’s right! It’s not “Muslims” this time “celebrating 9/11.” It’s those self-loving, humorless, amnesiac Americans, those little freckle-faced rascals, the ones who elected Trump back a thousand years ago. Think of what we’ve all endured. Let’s make it into a game. See what you can remember, and let’s compare lists. Feel free to take your double dose of clonazepam first. Ready, set, go: What I remember from the past four years: “The most people at an inauguration, ever” Muslim travel bans Children separated from their families and put in cages Over twenty accusations of sexual assault against the POTUS The Trump Foundation (charity) revealed as just an illegal shell for campaign donations The demonizing of racial minorities with dehumanizing insults Revelations that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with disinformation campaigns via social media Over twenty thousand lies counted by the Washington Post and other mainstream media The Oval Office to Prison Pipeline, including a prison sentence for Michael Cohen, who paid prostitutes not to testify against the President (interfering with a witness) Breaking of the Paris Accord on climate change and repudiation of NATO, to the detriment of world peace and security Impeachment of the president based on soliciting intel on political rivals from a foreign power (Ukraine) and making military aid money contingent on receiving this, while witnesses endured spiteful retaliation for their testimony; an impeachment which the Senate refused to ratify despite copious evidence Co-opting of the Department of Justice, including commuting or reducing the already handed down prison sentences of his cronies The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, despite testimony from a brave and patriotic alleged rape victim, who then was mocked and vilified by Trump at rallies Russian murders of American servicemen in Afghanistan revealed with no comment or action by their own government Unilateral withdrawal of military aid in North Syria and abandoning Kurdish allies to the enemy Reckless missile attack to kill Iranian general, resulting in the accidental shooting down of a passenger aircraft mistakenly thought to be an American attack and subsequent Canadian/Iranian civilian deaths No action taken on the horrific murder and dismemberment, in the Saudi Embassy, of a prominent Saudi journalist based in Washington Meaningless trade wars with Canada and China Involvement of Canada in the arrest of the CEO of Huawei and subsequent Chinese hostage-taking of two Canadian citizens in retaliation Opening of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and general rolling back of decades of environmental protection Falsely characterizing climate change as a “hoax” and general repudiation of science, to the detriment of the environment and public discourse and consensus Number one in fatalities and cases of COVID-19 in the world, largely due to discarding Obama’s already-in-place pandemic plan Attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act during a pandemic Suggestions about ingesting bleach and other bizarre and bogus “cures” Refusal to heed the medical advice of Dr Fauci, a world-renowned immunologist and researcher, a true hero who tirelessly worked at the highest levels to obtain funding that led to a viable treatment for AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s Stirring up and exacerbating unrest by egging on anti-mask protesters, who were later revealed to have planned to kidnap the governor of Michigan Smear campaigns against distinguished medical advisors and opposing politicians Public overtures to and deference to Vladimir Putin while demeaning and questioning the work of the dedicated staff of Homeland Security, the NSA and the FBI Overt support for white supremacist movements Demonizing of peaceful protest, including “disappearing” of protesters in unmarked vans Threats to suppress protest using the military Stacking the Supreme Court by Republicans before the election, in clear and cynical violation of the Republicans’ own stated principles of “letting the people decide.” Rampant and unapologetic voter suppression, including casting doubt on the validity of the elections process and allegations of fraud with no evidence Refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power when asked Vilifying the media as “fake” and “anti-American” Refusal to concede the results of the election by Trump and senior Republicans The general reduction of politics to an exchange of ad hominem attacks and mud-slinging, including suggesting that Hillary Clinton and others would be imprisoned General undermining of the rule of law in a country whose citizens apparently believe in trial by vigilante... …Oh god, don’t make me go on. That’s only the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Dear America: You are the vacuum cleaner salesman who throws a fistful of soil onto his prospect’s carpet, then vacuums it up. All you’ve done is clean up your own shit, while the houseperson thinks, “Hell, my carpet never gets that dirty!” You are the broken arm that takes eight months to heal, wrapped up in plaster, and when the cast is finally cast off, you’re almost back where you started from, except for the next six months of physio that’s needed to actually get you back where you started from, and that stink of old skin and stale sweat that lingers. Honestly. America, you did it. You took dad’s car out on Saturday night without permission, ignored dad’s advice, got drunk, and totalled the car. Your date was decapitated and the rear passengers were burned to a crisp in the resulting inferno. YOU survived, though. What the hell. There’s girls with bigger tits! Chill, bro. Then you took four years and hit the smouldering wreckage with a sledge hammer until, all of a sudden, after four years, you had your morning Coors and saw the light—and stopped hitting the wreckage with a sledge hammer. “What a fucker of night out, eh? Damn! Wait’ll Dad hears about THIS one!” That’s what you just did, America. And for that you want a Miss America bouquet, a new musical by Sondheim, a plaque on every blue-voting door, a hearty, congratulatory slap on the back, and maybe even a Havana cigar, except, you know. Commies. You all but destroyed democracy, bred ill-will and division to the point that gun-totin’ QAnons are hell-bent on violent protest and even threatening civil war; you made hatred not just acceptable but mandatory; then you said, “OK, that was interesting, but—just kidding! Now let’s not do those things.” That is, except for the ever-trumpers, who are, incredibly, still fans, who said, please, could you keep on doing those things, because, Rebel. Man of the people. Now Biden and Harris have the task of clearing up the mess, and once they’re done, you’ll just have a semblance of normal. No progress. Just back to where you were. You’re a marathon runner who doesn’t run, just stands at the starting line and waits until he senses the others approaching then declares victory. Not doing destructive things is not something you get prizes for, America. Correcting a ghastly mistake doesn’t give you the mandate to tell us how wonderful you are. I’m still sending you to bed without supper. And you’re still the same dumb-as-rocks, arrogant, ignorant, self-serving brats you were in 2016. And, god—I love ya. ֍ #BidenHarriswin #Democrats #USElection2020 #USPolitics

Being Thankful is SUCH a Bitch

Being Thankful is SUCH a Bitch

PLUS: Come back to daddy Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving, which always takes place on the second Monday in October. I can hear everyone tittering condescendingly about our sad, off-kilter and irrelevant Canadian habits and how we’re just so obviously and sycophantically trying to be American, like little brother checking his pee-pee, then peeking at big bro’s, and wondering, “when will MINE look like a hibernating muskrat?” Not any more, darling. Not after the Caligula-level shitshow of the last four years. It’s long past the time when Canada looked on the United States of Fuckery as anything other than the dying gasps of catastrophically failed hard-core individualism and a tacky, Las Vegas-style imitation Fall of the Roman Empire, minus anything interesting in the sexcapade department, Americans being descended, as you may recall, from Puritans and pioneers. Scrub the color from that stained glass and raise that barn! We ain’t got time for the devil’s work, there’s soap to be churned, hallelujah! (an attitude that still guides public school policy when it tries to subsidize “frills” like art or music. Betsy DeVos, current Secretary of Education, who owns five yachts, I guess in case she forgets where she put the other four, is undeniably the poster girl for a no-frills lifestyle). American sex scandal is the Shaker chair of pleasure and just as hard on the ass, the better to repent not just after, but during, your fall from grace. But as Camille Paglia has pointed out, it’s taboo that makes for titillation, and the more taboo it is—you can finish that thought yourself. Or just ask Jeffrey Epstein, before he was caught, that is, and suffered that unfortunate involuntary assisted suicide. (C’mon, you don’t really think he killed himself, do you? Oh, naive one!) Americans bluster about Manifest Destiny, their divine right to manspread and bully their incontinent way across the continent, while Canadians look on with the bemused, interior superiority of the inferior. Take American Thanksgiving, that obnoxious, self-serving fable about Puritans, turkey dinners, conquered “Indians,” (translation: simpletons and savages distracted by worthless trinkets and yearning to be “civilized”), gun-totin’ mammas and pumpkin pie. Sufferin’ succotash! Sorry, bud. Canada was there first. From The Canadian Encyclopedia: The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in what is now Nunavut. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson, “made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places .” And because we Canadians only nominally had slavery, just enough to, as it were, keep up with the Jeffersons and Madisons and Washingtons, we upped the ante in the Indigenous genocide department. Work out for me, on whatever moral scale you dare to construct, who gets the halo: the white American rationalist, Deist, enlightened enslavers of Africans bought like cattle, erudite men who gave the French Revolution its template and crafted a Constitution whose best paragraphs inspire and guide every democracy, and whose economy was built on the foundation of the forced labor of an enslaved people, and whose society to this day runs on the presumption and principle of white supremacy; OR the white Loyalist-Canadian torturers of First Nations and Métis children, who were separated from their parents and often from their siblings, dressed in western clothing and imprisoned by Sir John A MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, and other white architects of what is called, in the kind of bland committee-speak that hints at the unspeakable, the “Residential School System.” As inmates of these institutions, those children were beaten, sexually abused, indoctrinated into Christianity and forbidden to speak their own languages. The fall-out from this genocide can still be seen today, in every Canadian city, in every Indigenous suicide, disappearance or unjust incarceration; in the ongoing unhealed and unacknowledged trauma—manifesting as poverty, hopelessness, mental illness and alcoholism—of a conquered and uprooted people. You can see it in their fierce anger as they occupy their lands, while the white invaders—who insist on enforcing their imperialist laws while they break their own treaties and refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of indigenous land claims—attempt to ram through pipelines, instructing the RCMP to use as much force as necessary against the protestors. The white invaders call the Indigenous protesters “criminals.” Tell me who the criminals are. Tell me whose story should be told, whose tongues pierced with needles. I had great plans about Thanksgiving dinner, as usual. Holiday dinners, while I was quasi-married to my long-suffering (or maybe more accurately, “suffering just long enough to realize his mistake”) ex-partner, were tense affairs involving weeks of advance agonizing about what dishes would make the most impressive menu, using the rule of thumb that, if it was traditional and/or easy and/or universally loved, I immediately banished it from the short list. This meant I ended up wrangling a daunting collection of completely unfamiliar, professional-grade recipes, each of which was made of up five sub-recipes, and a list of specialty and quite forensically seasonal ingredients which, seeing as I am not Thomas Keller, would prove to be unobtainable at any market, at any cost. Cue yet more anxiety as I frantically rejigged the menu. Around five AM, already hours behind in my schedule, I would remember that all of this required plates and cutlery, which I would begin to yank down from the cupboards with all the level-headed competence of a crack-addled single mother who’s just realized she’s left her kids locked in a hot car. But wait! Not only dishes, but clean napkins and flowers and soda water and alcohol! And little nibblies for the cocktail part of the evening, which I would spontaneously add to the list of torture-by-recipe. To simply buy a jar of “Nuts ‘n Bolts” like a normal, unpretentious person, dump them in a dish and pass them out with the drinks would cancel out all of the virtue I had accumulated by single-handedly taking on by myself what an event planner would have hired an entire firm to do (probably two firms if you counted cleaning the apartment). If you’d seen the haunted look on my face at this point, you might have guessed I was going to cancel; in fact, I was probably thinking something like, “I wonder if it’s too late to make spicy chickpeas and skewer them individually on toothpicks?” This whole boondoggle would then precipitate the one reliable part of my process, namely, a meltdown by me so predictably at three PM you could have set your VCR to record “Days of Our Lives” by it and not missed a single infidelity or shoulder pad. And all for the purpose of—? I’ll hazard a guess I was proving something, although I still don’t quite know what that something was. Unless it was, “See? Not a loser! I’m just crying ’cause I’m so happy!” What it was not about was food or friendship or having a good time. Every aspect of my planning seemed calibrated to produce maximum anxiety, as well as a entirely undeserved sense of superiority—a great, big snobbery shortcake. So to save not so much my sanity—which went missing so long ago its picture occasionally turns up on cartons of milk—but the sanity of those around me, I’ve pared things down a bit. Yesterday a buddy was randomly visiting, so around eight PM I got myself worked up about cooking Thanksgiving dinner, probably because I had just posted a “Happy Thanksgiving” card to Twitter, the septic tank that thinks it’s a smartphone. On Twitter I dared to ask, because who the hell am I, “What are you grateful for today?” Well, I’m grateful that I don’t share the attitude of one guy on Twitter who proposed that Trump deserved better health care, being the president and all (i.e. million-dollar experimental treatments and jumping the queue the way Superman leaps tall buildings in a single bound, for the treatment he received is usually a “Hail Mary” effort by ER staff when there’s almost no hope for the unfortunate patient.) The model and the technology rewire your brain so that the rigid options they present become a limitation on what you believe is possible. As with my Nikon—”pictures must be sharp!”— so with life. If your experience of healthcare is shaped by a system that privileges the rich and entitled, you’ll start to believe that’s normal. “Why would you think that?” I responded. “The Canadian PM gets the same care as the rest of us. That’s what “universal” health care means.” So I’m grateful that I’m Canadian, and not just for healthcare. I’m grateful that we work together to solve problems and that we realize that, without you, I’m nothing, grateful that we don’t need the limelight 24/7, because not only childish, but so exhausting. And of course, I still wake up every morning intoning, “Thank you, Minerva, Goddess of Canned Flaked Tuna in Broth, Keeper of the Amyl, Patron of the sibilant “s”, for making me homosexual.” I finished my last-minute dinner shopping, eighty bucks later, at nine-thirty, giving me just enough time to not call that friend who might have joined us and to decide that dinner would consist of five scoops of President’s Choice Butterscotch Ripple Ice Cream with a big chunk of Chocolate Cake, the one in the New York Times that you mix and bake in the same dish. I think it’s called “My Life is Over But I’m Damn Well Going Out With Chocolate Pandemic Cake to Enjoy Making with Your Little Ones Before You Drown Them In the Tub”, but I’d have to check. And you know what? It was the best fucking Thanksgiving Dinner I ever had. As you probably know from my extensive, continually updated entries in Wikipedia I graduated Magna Cum Laude with my Ph.D. in Procrastination from the University of Somedaysoon. If I ever, you know. Hand in my thesis. So I have kept putting off asking a little favour of all of you who signed up by email. You see, I recently migrated my site to here, WordPress.org, from there, WordPress.com and in the process I lost all of you in a dark, dark wood. And even if you found your way back to me, you may not have been getting notifications of new posts. which is, like, seriously, a bummer. So please, change your bookmarks and and hit that “Follow” button again. Just look a little to the right, sweetie. That’s it. VERY GOOD. Next: “What is email?” And why “the TV thingy with all the pictures on it” is not “the computer”. As usual, when you “follow” me, that’s online, I mean, I won’t spam ya or sell your information. Please! Would I be wearing anything not hand-crafted by Ted Baker if I could sell you off? Of course not, so quod erat demonstrandum and all that. And, no word of a lie, I value your following my site all this time. Value it like crazy. Like a glutton loves his lunch, I sincerely do. So look. Before I get all emotional—Just do it, OK? ֍ #CanadianThanksgiving #FirstNationsofCanada #Pandemic #Canadiansociety #SirJohnAMacDonald

“Maksim Gorky Pretends to be a Dom at the Bathhouse”

“Maksim Gorky Pretends to be a Dom at the Bathhouse”

A serious(ly gay) interlude. After a few sleepless nights of quasi-Christian prayer (I cherry pick all the heart-warming bits and the foodie miracles and leave out the whole crucifixion-resurrection boondoggle; anything icky like leprosy; the Book of Revelation; everything by Saint Paul, and Satan, so like, sleepover, ‘Smores for two, paint our toenails red and Jesus is my woke BFF!! You GO, girl!!!), Buddhist meditation (aka tedium as a lifestyle, with sore legs, in order to acknowledge that life is tedious); dedicated carb gorging (Betty Crocker French Chocolate Frosting straight from the can, and I’m GLAD, I tell you! GLAD!) and kicking myself hard in the seventh chakra— —after this merciless spiritual reckoning, I’ve come, reluctantly, to a sorry and disheartening realization. My blog just isn’t gay enough. GAY ICONS No, wait, come back, hear me out! My blog truly has many, many strikes against it on the not-gay-enoughness front. Take gay icons, for example. We’re talking about those broads—always broads, gay men adore women more ardently than straight men do, minus the pussy pounding, so gay icons are always always female—with the wide lapels and the manly hands, drag queen hands big enough to clutch a Van Cleef and Arpels minaudière, a double vodka tonic, two uncut cocks and a Player’s King Size without batting a three-inch eyelash; the belter-broad gay icons with the voices like air raid sirens announcing their imminent incendiary bombing of our eardrums and their emotional trajectory from thinly-veiled hysteria to pulmonary embolism. Like, where are they? Where have all the drama queen, epicene gay icons gone, always assuming we don’t count long-time passing Bernie Sanders? Somewhere other than slowpainful dot com, apparently. Well, comb me out with hedge clippers and tuck me with super-glue, what an outrage! The tut-tuts continue. To my eternal shame, my blog never shrieks, with Bette Davis, “What a dump!” as it flounces into a room like a wind farm on heels; it doesn’t bawl its eyes out with Barbra-Fanny for My Man. With almost perfect certainty I can attest that my blog, horrified by Olivia’s predicament, takes pains to avoid wasting time trapped in a wrought iron elevator getting all musky and feral; I will beg to sign a confession stating that it has never, suddenly, and last summer, traveled with Viola and Sebastian to see the Encantadas, with the beach the color of caviar and the sky all alive, all alive. My blog, if you can believe one more impossible thing before breakfast, doesn’t even sing the Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall album, not even at three in the morning after all the boys have made dramatic exits ostensibly because of perceived slights and then reassembled once they’re around the corner in front of the bathhouse entrance so that everyone in the world is having wild porn sex without me. Feeling distinctly bitter about this. But, like a thinner, more delusional Sally Bowles standing in the darkened wings of my self-esteem, I lift my face to the hot love-lick of the follow spot, switch on my synthetic thousand-watt smile and Fosse myself back to center stage where, after an arch wink and a couple of back-flips, I straddle the rickety bar stool of petty revenge. It’s gonna happen! Happen sometime! Maybe this time! CANCEL CULTURE Ever, ever less gay. Especially not gay enough with the cancel culture. My site does not throw half-chewed doggie toys at Mayor Pete for hobbing his nob with the Sally Ann, or RIP Ellen for being in the same airspace as George Bush and having the gall to not spit in his face. What’s being gay all about if it’s not about total self-absorption and carefully choreographed temper tantrums? Sorry, kids, no food from Sally Ann for you, but take a moment while your stomach rumbles to imagine how good we must be feeling for sticking to our principles as we stuff our faces with organic Christmas turkey! My blog is not holding up its end, so to speak, about complaining that Black Lives Matter is spoiling all the self-indulgent fun of PRIDE by daring to suggest that daily experiences of anti-blackness, including racial profiling, housing and job discrimination, and institutional violence by the police followed by a rate of incarceration almost three times the rate of white offenders, merit stopping the parade for a protest and requesting that the police not be present. White solidarity must be maintained because, after all, we’re progressive, it’s not really important if it’s not white, but we’ll pretend, and, by the way, we’re always sure to smile at black people on the street! Racist? We stopped buying Aunt Jemima pancake mix, months ago! It’s the Asians you gotta watch out for. (Asians! Which, to a Canadian, means, “Chinese.” Overruning the bathhouses with their smooth bodies and crazy language! And pushy? OMFG! Won’t take ‘no’ for an answer! Pushier than Jews, even! (Asians! Buying all the condos, aceing all the entrance exams, building inscrutable enclaves of dim sum restaurants and exporting COVID-19 and generally being all Asian about things. Buying all the condos! (Well, white Canadians, why don’t YOU go out and buy a condo then? And anyway, let’s nail this coffin lid shut: It’s not Asians who are buying all the condos. It’s property speculators. The problem is allowing speculation on property to the extent that the human right of accommodation becomes a commodity on a market and disappears. Not Asians.) THE PITS And in a final descent into the pit of social humiliation and incompetent gay blogger-dom, there are virtually no instances of gay guys shrieking at the sight of a vagina while waving their arms like partially unthawed chicken tenders; discussing “gay culture” (= drag queens and gay bars and gay clubs, and you can just take your Sistine Chapels and copies of Ulysses and place them in your anal gape while we gulp down some more GHB and lie face down on our beds waiting for the top to come along who’ll finally arrange that pervy gangbang every bottom’s been panting for since around 1756 but hasn’t experienced because everyone’s on meth and can’t get a hard-on, which means everyone’s a bottom; kind of like all those yoga instructors wanting to sell classes but everyone’s a yoga instructor); complaining, in a campy way that offers up our internalized homophobia in front of the whole world, that all those drag queens and naked guys and leather queens at PRIDE are “spoiling it for the rest of us”, ie, complaining that PRIDE makes us visible when visibility is the entire point of PRIDE and— Fuck it. Here’s a gay poem, which maybe, just maybe, will resonate while earning me some brownie points against my gay want. I dedicate this to the in-your-face drag queens and the leather daddies reeking of poppers and cowhide and the naked men with ordinary bodies, saggy or sweet human male bodies, and the transexuals who endure the venom and incomprehension and violence of the eternally entitled shoved off their pedestals, to all of you who who insist on being gloriously visible, shaking with fear inside but outwardly defiant, in full proud-peacock display. This is for you warriors, fierce in your integrity, who were and are the frontrunners clearing the safe space for all the rest of us bland wannabe suburbanites. Unlike your supple, quicksilver personas we’re just stiff, white picket fences yearning for any place like home. Quentin Crisp, the very model of a reluctant martyr, flamboyantly queer in 1920’s London when even mentioning homosexuality was unthinkable in polite society, once confessed: “It’s been agony but I couldn’t have done it any other way.” “Maksim Gorky Pretends to be a Dom at the Bathhouse” Peter Pinski
Said, “Come In-ski
Won’t you play with my foreskin-ski?
We could get a little… kink-ski
Make teabag-sky on my chin-ski!” Gorky taken quite aback-ski
“Let us take another tack-ski
If you feel it’s not too bold-ski
You will do as you are toldski!” Peter slut-ski
Quite abrupt-ski
Turns until-ski
Shows his butt-ski “What a pit-ski!
Not too bold-ski,
But it’s fit-ski
You be told-ski: “See my tit-ski?
How I rub-ski?
Call me Mitzki—
I’m a sub-ski!” Subsequent-ski
Life was good-ski Landed gent-ski
Collingwood-ski. To be honest, I’m really quite gorky about it. ֍

From My Squalid Kitchen

I am the anti-chef Many of you have been clamoring for my old episodes of “From My Squalid Kitchen,” my cooking series that takes poverty and obscurity and serves them up ungarnished on a chipped plated. With “LOVE.” Gag me with an egg beater that’s been left in the sink for two weeks! Actually, no. No one has been clamoring for that at all. Or anything, really. It’s all made up. Fake. A big conspiracy about nothin’. A great, big zero-calorie Empty Burger, hold the bun. A salad with One Very Small Island Dressing. Thanks a bunch, Vimeo! You said I’d be accepted at Sundance, and I wasn’t! You never said I had to submit anything! Way to waste mes anneés crépusculaires! The sheer tedium of my own company these past—it’s a thousand years since the pandemic started, right? Or is that since Trump appeared on the scene like Narko the Narwhale and turned our lives into an inexplicable ending to a mysterious art film—the slow thud thud thud of the seconds falling on the slack drum head of my existence as my life ground to even more of a halt has me thinking I should revive these little masterpieces of wry wit, served with my choice of salad or fries. Yes, no? Listen, bub, If I’d taken on everyone’s well-meaning advice I’d still be walking down Yonge Street on a snowy day in February, 1991, wearing Presbyterian minister-type toe rubbers. So without any further, previous or plain old ado, here’s the series so far. Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6

United Corona States of America

United Corona States of America

behind every great man… The White House, just before the putsch “Hey Mel. Mel? Yeah, vhat? Mel? Is that you? I can’t hear too good on this baby intercom thing. What? What was that? Jeezus. Couldn’t you just, I dunno. Uber me, like, over to the Hilton? Donald. Dahlink. Is four in morning. Is it again terrors of night? You vant I sing again all twenty-nine verses “Polovtsian Lullaby of Steppes”? Please, little dipshitsky, make-up guy is here and— Jeezus, Mel. Take me off speakerphone. Or babyphone. I have something serious to tell you. And why is your make-up guy… is he a pansy? Is not normal to know such things. Bruce Make-up Guy are you pansy? Uh-huh, husband vants—No. Is not pansy. Mostly they’re pansies, but then one day one of them turns out NOT to be a pansy, you understand? Like that, whaddayacallit, “pre-verbal pansy in an onion snatch—” you know the world-famous kids song. “Dah dah-dee-dee-dee dah DEE dah-dee onion snatch—” Donnsky, Please to be not singing. OK. I’m off speakerphone. You got two minutes. Just a vodka straight up, dahlink— What was—What are you saying? You want me to Uber you a vodka? Am talking to Bruce Make-up Guy. Bruce! There’s always a Bruce! Fuckin pansy! I thought I was your Bruce, baby… And why— Is Wednesday morning four am and you know I must finishing make-up for Friday photo-op. With hedge clippers. Was your idea. Standing in Rose Garden with hedge clippers. Already they call me names. Who is Myra Hindley? Baby, she’s a famous taste-maker. Myra Hindley Living. So smart, she went to jail. Makes apple pie. Delicious apple pie, you never had a better apple pie. Her chickens lay colored eggs. I know her intimately. She adores me, of course. They call me chicken lady? No. Is not good. Anyway, I thought you just Photoshopped your face—? Could you please getting to the— Mel, listen to me. I’ve got a sore throat. And a cough. And this weird rash— You are butt fucking hookers again? No. Just Democrats! HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa— Hahaha! Hahaha high fives, dahlink. High fives! Me too, I am having also temperature— HaHaHaHaHaHa buttfucking little Fauci, buttfucking little disabled Fauci, little disabled Fauci with Down Syndrome, HaHaHaHaHaHa little, like Hillary Pizza Parlour disabled retards with Down Syndrome— Donald, is only so much HaHaHa can a girl coping with in one day. Please and thanking— Buttfucking Hope Hicks! Buttfucking little disabled Hope Hicks. Hey—Donald Trump Buttfucks Hope! How’s that for a campaign slogan! Donald, listen. I am having temperature and thick cough with phlegmas but you, dahlink? No. Is not serious. I am thinking President lungs just line up virus like firing squad in town square, like in old country. Showing always virus who is boss man. And I had that dream again when, you remember I told you? I was in a cage. A cage! Like an animal— Horrible, Donny, horrible, so sorry you are having that experience, even though I don’t give a fuck, remember? —an ANIMAL and my parents weren’t there and I tried to talk to someone, the maitre d’, the director of valet parking, anyone, but then it’s fuckin NANCY. Yeah, Crazy Loopy Pelosi herself, and she was like an alien, I couldn’t understand her. She opens her mouth and I swear just this, this— shithole Nancy Demtard language came out. Like crazy bitch grandmother in old country! She should go home, make beet soup. Like this Myra Hindley chicken lady. Stay out of politics. Is men’s work. Listen to me, baby, and I have a temperature! Seriously, what is going on? You think the Dems did this? I’m the greatest, kindest guy in the universe, everyone loves me, and what does the universe do? It breaks— Breaks your balls, Donny, I know. Tell you what, dahlink. Next time we get off Air Force One and world is watching I’m slapping your face. OK? In front of Press Corps, slapping your face, Donny. You like that? You don’t think it’s the rallies? It couldn’t be. Nah. They love me, they wouldn’t give me viruses and anyway I think once you’re immune to the flu and E Coli and—E Coli? E Boli? Whatever, didn’t we cancel that? Monkey Coronaflu? And maybe take a hot shower—virus, you’re fired! That’s how it works! Ohhh, that’s beautiful, Bruce! Beautiful! Ya, right there baby, don’t stop! Mel. Mel? You still there? Mmmmmmmflfffafafafafmmmmmlllllalalalal!!!!! Mel! Let’s just fake it. Oh, Donny, I’m sorry to be telling you that was not fake. Only with you, baby. Special for you! Mel, I mean fake the Chinese corona disease and just disappear, can we? Donny? Yeah baby? What is it? You want those new shoes, baby? You wanna walk all over me? Hey, what did Bill Clinton say, that thing he said that you liked? “Ah never had sexual relations with that woman?” Was that it— No, I like always when he is saying, “Intern pussy is best pussy.” I love you, Nancy – Nancy! Vhat the fucking— Pocahontas—FUCK! I meant, Mel, you, Melania Trumpsky! Promise you won’t die on me, baby? If you don’t die I’ll buy you those shoes, I’ll buy you a thousand pairs! I won’t know what to do if you die on me, just make it all dis… disapp… disappear…. Donny. Stop crying like, like—pukotnik! Leesten to me. You are so old, you having orange hair on hinge, your dick is like my leetle finger and you are having terrors of the night, always! Are you man or girly-man? I did not marry you for money, but for your being strong man! That’s true… Look vhat I do, I’m not being so old, I am having Bruce Make-Up Man for terrors of night, I have on always designer gown! And is best of all, I have historical-first First Lady Instagram tits. Is that a fact? Use keywords “Melania tits.” Is working also “Melania MILF big tits.” Tell me, Mel. Tell me what to do. I’m trying to cry… Oh god. I want to be sorry, I feel I should be sorry, but—you know something? I don’t give a fuck, either. Hey, I don’t give a fuck! That is beautiful! Did I get that from you? How does it work, being sorry, is it a feeling or—I don’t get it, what’s the point? Point is to be better person. No one is telling me better than what. I mean, if I do something wrong, I just tell them I didn’t do it! There, done! Wrong thing, you’re fired! Hey, listen to this: “Buttfuck notorious retard RBG baby killer with Down Syndrome—you’re fired!!” HaHaHaHaHaHa—”Buttfuck—” You know vhat, Donsky? Cry-babsky, pukotnik? Yeah, baby? Anything. I’ll buy you anything— we’ll just make it disappear—we can enter the, what is there a Bankrupt Impeached Small-Dicked Autocrat Protection Program? Didn’t I hear that? Or did Obama fuck that up, too? Meester Sir President? Jeezus—what is it, Nancy? Oh FUCK—!! Uber me that vodka. ֍ #MelaniaTrump #coronavirus #satire #covid19 #Trumpinfected

Useless Knowledge

Useless Knowledge

Ada, Countess of Lovelace; George Boole; Charles Babbage countess × (x²) ≤ a father’s love ÷ empty days in a stately home, where x = ∬ {the latest hat from Paris} Introduction In her final work, “Dark Age Ahead,” the great Jane Jacobs lamented the rise of what she called “credentialing vs. education.” In this model a university degree is now considered necessary not because it is evidence of the highest levels of learning and expertise in a particular field of study. Instead, it is simply a credential that proves to a prospective employer that the degree-holding graduate has jumped through the necessary hoops and shown that her values and skills are in alignment with those of the company. By graduating, she is by definition reliable, honest, able to turn up on time, work well with others and finish projects efficiently and on-budget, Paraphrased, it doesn’t matter so very much what you’ve studied, but it does matter that you’ve been mixed, rolled and stamped out with the cookie cutter of compliance. Universities are just a pre-filtering step in the assembly-line process of creating corporate workers. Go ahead and finish your thesis on Lesbian Poetry Cave Paintings of the Early Neanderthal—what’s really important is you can work until midnight without complaining. Go team, go! We are in thrall to the concept of “efficiency.” Getting the most end product from just the right amount of input of time and resources, which boils down to maximising profit by minimizing, or, even better, externalizing expenses (getting others to foot the bill). What do you acquire at university? Useless knowledge. Knowledge without “practical” application. Or, as another great Canadian writer, Alice Munro, has framed it: “Who do you think you are? In 1854, self-taught English mathematician George Boole had the inventive notion to apply the rigorous procedures of algebra to logical thought, and by doing so made possible a digital revolution that would occur one hundred and fifty years later. Boole’s concept was a set of operations that, working with propositions instead of real numbers, and using only three operators, AND, OR and NOT, could determine their truth or otherwise (a proposition is a simple statement, for example “the window is open” or “all boys like hockey”). This method of treating logical propositions with a scientific method and the stringency of mathematics became known eventually as Boolean algebra. And, brilliant an insight as it was recognized to be, no one knew what to do with it. So there it sat, interesting but effectively useless, a brilliant abstraction, and without any practical application, for eighty years. Mary, George’s wife—also a self-taught mathematician; a species which was apparently raging through academia like crabgrass during the early nineteenth century—was not necessarily impressed. Fun Fact: Mary was a believer in homeopathy, the cretinous quackery that takes as its gimmick the doctrine that a substance causing symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people, or “similia similibus curantur”, like cures like. Which effectively means curing by placebo, as there is literally nothing in homeopathic medicines. At any rate, George walked home in the rain one day after a hard day’s AND, OR and NOT-ing at the Uni, and subsequently caught a severe chill. That might have been the end of it had Mary not gone all homeopathic and covered him with sheets soaked in ice-cold water. He died a week or so later, or, “Like kills like”. Mary’s reaction was not recorded. Personally, I think she should have been publicly stoned for being a ninny. At home with George and Mary Boole: An imaginary evening meal. MARY: Hello, dear, nice day at the University of Cork, Ireland, as its first mathematics professor, even though you didn’t even go to university yourself?”
GEORGE: “Pretty good, Any more biscuits or did you and your bridge club scarf the lot?”
M: “What did you do today? Any more ponderous speeches to the students about their loose morals? That’s rich coming from you, pumpkin!
G: “If you must know, as a matter of fact I discovered Boolean operators, which I’ve named after me, obviously, and can be employed to determine the truth or falsehood of logi—”
M: “Tripe?”
G: “Well, really, Mary! At least hear me out before you start tearing everything—
M: “No, no, darling, PASS the tripe, please. Thank you. And the potatoes, if you’d be so kind.”
G: “Oh, rather. At any rate, then in the afternoon Harry, Algernon and I chatted up that new prostitute who’s been hanging about at the Royal Society meeting rooms, then we took her for a spin, checked the tires, saw what’s under the bonnet, if you see my meaning .Then in the afternoon… why are you laughing, for heaven’s sake?”
M: “Well, you see—IF (George with prostitute NOT male) AND (tells me about it) THEN (hard to take) OR IF (George catches cold from walking in the rain) AND (given ice bath by me NOT hot cocoa) THEN (sudden death of George from pneumonia). AND (at least I’ll have your insurance policy!)”
G: “My word, you picked that up fast! Jolly impressive!” George knew that his Boolean algebra had major significance, but was understandably shaky about its possible applications. Boole had simply come up with an interesting but random idea, like a Cockney barrow boy who’d dreamed something up in his spare time when he should have been shovelling coal or selling cherries from a cart in Covent Garden. Fast forward: In the 1930’s, Claude Shannon, an American mathematician, had a flash of insight. It was a world-changing moment. He realized that these binary variables could be used to represent the low- and high-voltage states of electric circuits, or OFF and ON. Zero and one… Boolean algebra applied to the the switching of electric circuits! These switches, the zeros and ones, are the machine language of computers, and Boolean algebra would provide the conceptual and practical basis for our entire technological world. Unprepossessing George Boole became the architect of a digital age which he could barely imagine; though he spoke of his most important work with a touching sense of purpose. Reading an excerpt from a letter to a colleague in 1851, you can sense his pride and barely contained excitement about the work he was about to commence: I am now about to set seriously to work upon preparing for the press an account of my theory of Logic and Probabilities which in its present state I look upon as the most valuable if not the only valuable contribution that I have made or am likely to make to Science and the thing by which I would desire if at all to be remembered hereafter …
George Boole, letter of 1851, referring to his groundbreaking ” An investigation into the Laws of Thought, on Which are founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities” (1854) But the results of his work really started life as a succès d’estime. In other words, useless knowledge. Because I am shallow, and a male, I take huge, puerile delight in the fact that the first person to envisage the universal computer was named Ada, Countess of Lovelace. <snicker>. Man up, David. This is the big time, OK? Augusta Ada King (1815 – 1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a.k.a. Count Bisexual, and his only “legitimate” child. He adored Baby “if my name were Ada, I’d be Ada, even backwards I’d be Ada,” but nonetheless abandoned her after four months to the care of her mother and continued gallivanting around the eastern Mediterranean, writing the occasional epic poem for posterity and gifting his magnificent body, lily-of-the-valley eau de Cologne and epicene facial features to all and sundry—even on a Sunday. He did manage to squeeze out the word “Ada” with his dying breath. Jeepers. There’s nothing like the devotion of an obsessive helicopter dad, right? Ada King was wealthy and grand and eccentric enough that she was able to devote herself to her preferred useless pastime, which was—no, Murgatroyd McGraw, not needlepoint or home production of quince jelly, but mathematics. Mathematics, the only perfect language humankind has discovered apart from music. I think she may also have dabbled in watercolors, invented ciphers and then written secret messages in her journal and even tinkered a bit at the old Joanna, as they say, but math was her “thing.” Everyone who wasn’t of the aristocracy believed that the aristocracy were just a bunch of useless tits, so nobody got on Ada’s case about “doing something meaningful” or how she was wanting “something for nothing”. They never expected anything meaningful from a countess to begin with, and her inherited wealth was the something-for-nothing that’s always okay to those who have it, because they got there first. Of course, there was at the root of this disdain her unfortunate choice of being a woman in an era when women were believed to be barely above cattle in terms of intelligence and common sense. And so this particular useless tit had LOTS of “me” time. Now, under normal circumstances, Ada’s wealth could have funded a typical, tastefully extravagant and useless aristocratic life. Parties, balls, more parties, dancing lessons (the quadrille was big at the time), evenings at the Royal Opera House, a fashionable jaunt to see the Coliseum and the Pyramids, then back to more parties and more balls. Not Ada. Instead, Ada spent her time becoming a mathematical genius. This girl did equations like an Olympic gold medallist does press-ups and chin-ups, unlike our attempts at algebra, where we more resemble a Diane Arbus photograph of special education students with Down Syndrome being group-punished in an asylum. Ada’s training proves my hypothesis that real freedom—have you heard, apparently there is a type that involves more than one option to choose from, who the hell knew?— is, after all, everything to do with money. Money buys you two extremely valuable commodities: leisure and privacy. Leisure because you don’t have to do anything, you can outsource every single tiresome thing except eating, breathing, defecation and micturition. Privacy because now that you no are no longer forced to do anything distasteful or boring, you tend to talk endlessly about the one or two things you’re obsessed with. Your new glass plate photography kit or your experiments calling up the dead with a ouija board, or building a full-scale replica of the Trianon in the backyard. This yields privacy because this is not easy to be around. The lifelong process by which Ada took her above-average intelligence burger and, with extra privacy and leisure on the side, and maybe a dill pickle, supersized it to genius, also proves my theory that genius would probably arise more commonly if we all had Universal Basic Income so we could sit around staring into space. I do this already, so, like, hellooooo, genius, but if you could give it at least a try? We might want to start getting somewhere eventually. The rest of us would appreciate it. So it came to pass that Ada, at the age of seventeen, met Charles Babbage (1791-1871), an English mathematician who, you guessed it, taught himself algebra and calculus while in his teens, went on to great achievements at Trinity College, Cambridge and was made Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the age of twenty-five. (Sir Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking also held this professorship.) Babbage was, it is fair to say, no slouch with his math abilities, which is understandable considering every person he knew was a self-taught mathematician. Unfortunately he had what I would delicately call, so as not to offend any touchy old people hanging around, “a shitty personality.” Sorry to be so blunt. Call it “shitty personality,” call it borderline; Chuck was a tad difficult to get along with and this would have what we call “far-reaching consequences.” (When I make this into a podcast, this is the part that will get a little “oomph” from some underscoring, perhaps music with an ominous mood. I’m thinking second movement of Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” string quartet, and if you have that on CD, what is wrong with you? Fire up Spotify, luddite, and play away before the twentieth century opens its clammy arms and reverse-engineers you! Enter Ada, whose mother had insisted on her rigorous education in mathematics so she wouldn’t turn out “crazy, like her father” (crazy was the current psychiatric term for bisexual). So by the age of seventeen, Ada was a true débutante: accomplished at just about everything, charming in that “I’ve got more brains than you” way, and discussing Bernoulli numbers as casually as you and I discuss what mattress cover we’re planning to order from Wayfair or whether Kamala just forgot to be Black enough or if it’s a strategy and she’s in cahoots with Trump to blow the whole thing. Bernoulli numbers. Just saying “Bernoulli numbers” makes me feel smarter! Even though I couldn’t tell a Bernoulli number from a pile of lukewarm fettuccine, with sauce. Anyway. Babbage got funding for his Difference Engine, a mechanical, room-sized calculator using punch cards that was not programmable. It got partially built but then Babbage’s shitty personality kicked in. He had a major fight with his head engineer, and suddenly his investors couldn’t see the point of all this “new-fangled stuff”—also because this was England, so, all together now: “Why would you ever want to change anything?” With the Difference Engine still unfinished, and with his investors becoming less and less sympathetic to his project and refusing to fund him any further, he started designing his Analytical Engine. This was even grander and more complex than the first, and now its architecture included the feature of conditional branching, meaning that, in hindsight, it was a digital, programmable and Turing-complete computer. But it was Ada, not Babbage, that had this flash of insight. In her words: [The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine…
[The Analytical Engine was suited for] developping [sic] and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine [is] the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity …
Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent. Not just numbers, but numbers that symbolically represented other values. Musical notes; letters of the alphabet… a universal computer. But she had one final trick up her satin sleeves. In her notes to a seminar Babbage was giving at the University of Turin—in typical smart-alecky smart girl fashion, her notes to the lecture were longer than the lecture, and are the reason chief reason for her fame—she added an algorithm for the Analytical Engine to compute, yes, Bernoulli numbers. She is cited as the first computer programmer for this reason. The Analytical Engine was finally built according to Babbage’s specifications in 1991 if my memory serves me correctly, though you should take my confident air with a grain of salt, here…I was pretty drunk throughout the nineties. Like, there are big patches of vodka and tonic. The Analytical Engine, once built, worked. The first ENIAC computers from the forties, handy for home use if you had your own power plant and a garage the size of an airplane hangar, were less Turing-complete. The architecture from the Analytical Engine would have come in mighty handy, and the engineer of the ENIAC is said to have wept when he saw it, but the Engine had been obscured by the misty mists of time. Babbage’s remarkable work was rightly celebrated. But Ada’s partnership and contributions were not until very recently. In two pages of search results for Babbage, and in one lengthy article from Stanford University discussing his life and influence, Ada King, the woman who had the genius to see his earthbound cogs and gears and imagine them creating an enthralling music of the future, is not mentioned once. Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, died at the age of thirty-seven, of uterine cancer, and was buried beside Lord Byron, the father she had never met, whose dying wish was to see his beloved Ada again. We could have had computers in the 1850’s. And as we build computers in a lackadaisical way then build on top of the shoddy architecture forever, they would have retained their Victorian aesthetic. Giant oak computers, like church organs, dominating the parlor, completely crowding out the beloved upright piano as the new family hearth. Just Mummy and Pa and little Ada, and St.-John, gathered around “The One and Only Babbage Family Entertainment and Learning Engine! Patents Pending in all the Kingdoms of Europe!” Holding hands, eyes sparkling with the magic of the Modern Age, they would sing Bernoulli songs and play Whack the Golliwog, which would be their racist, imperialist version of a game with aliens. There would be no space flight because the OS was built of—well, oak. Beams of oak. Big oak computers in our homes and offices and stock markets and banks. You know that they would never have basically changed, right? With double opt-in, it would take a week to sign up for someone’s marketing campaign, which would be delivered to your door by an employee of the Babbage Company. We’d feed our oak computers punch cards to access our bank accounts and keep the punch cards locked up in case of identity theft. There would still be an umbrella stand built in, a stereoscopic viewer, a make-up mirror for the ladies, and a fold-out tray for the teapot. When you shut it down, it would play “Rule, Britannia!” ֍ #AdaCountessofLovelace #DifferenceEngine #ChargesBabbage #AnalyticalEngine #Historyofcomputers

A brief chocolatey interlude

A brief chocolatey interlude

while I try not to fret about everything falling apart like a wet cardboard box. Facebook Life Event: Inventor of the Two-Bite Brownie Multiple Oh, Yeah It came to me in a gush of warm, velvety creaminess that enveloped my face. It was //NOT ENOUGH// to enjoy an entire pack of Two-Bite Brownies //OR// an entire can of Betty Crocker French Chocolate Frosting (or, as I like to call it, The Chocolately Love Jism of my Cruel Bitch Mistress). I piled the plate with Two-Bite Brownies and microwaved them, as my brain’s dessertebellum exploded like a quasar on a night out in boys’ town. Leaning back into Betty’s arms, I piped her Chocolately Love Jism onto the warm, swollen heads of the brownies. The rest, as they say, is history. Please, no statue. Wait until we evolve more. ֍ #brownies #chocolate #chocolatedeath #Facebooklifeevents