Monday, November 12, 2012

Well, that didn't take long.

Instead of mourning the mothballing of this blog... I just decided to create a new one. C'mon over to Stuff J Writes.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Well, that about does it for now.

When I started writing this in the fall of 2004...
  • I'd just started grad school, after having taught for four years.
  • I owned a car that I lovingly nicknamed "the Deathcar," because I didn't know if it'd die on me on the 401 (and it nearly did).
  • Barack Obama was a (secretly Muslim) state senator in Illinois.
  • Amy Winehouse had just released her first album and was two years away from being a breakout star.
  • The Detroit Tigers were awful; the year before they'd come within one loss of tying the record for most losses in a season.
  • Facebook was only open to university students, and not at every school.
  • Twitter wasn't yet a thing.
  • Current grade 9 students were entering grade 1.
  • I was banging your mom.
  • (Still am.)
I'd kept a journal on and off for the previous seven years, and still kept a private one sporadically in the early days of this blog until I realized that I pretty much got out everything I needed to say right here. And so it continued, for a little more than eight years.

I'm sad to have to say it, but... Facebook ruined this. Once upon a time, if I had something to say, I'd sit down, think up a good topic, and take ten or twenty or sixty minutes to write something here. (Mind you, being a grad student in a joke of a program, I had that sort of time at-hand fairly often.)

These days, let's say I come across a funny quote or have an interesting photo to share or Mayor Fat Fuck does something stupid. Where do I spread the word? You guessed it: Zuckerbergland.

If I have something I need to work out in a longer form, I'll put it up here. That's why I'm not saying I'm ending this blog... but that is why I'm saying this is going to change to be a more intermittent thing. I occasionally look back to 2004 or 2005, see how often I posted — at least three or four times a week, often more — and wonder how I ever managed to put out that much material. And hey, in the future, I might revert to that. But not now.

So, check back here from time to time. Bookmark the thing, and when the late great movie on City-TV isn't so great, take a minute to pop in and see what's going on.

Take 'er easy, folks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oh, hi there.

It's been a while, I know.

And yes, I'll get these pangs of guilt now and again... Should I fire up the blog and write? But, as you can see, it's been tough overcoming inertia lately.

Here's the thing. If my life was more exciting, I'd probably let you know a hell of a lot about it. These days, I go to work, hang out with the kiddies (and have fun, definitely), come on home, usually catch part of a baseball game, go to bed way too late, and do it again the next day. Weekends find me hanging out with pals, doing family stuff, or occasionally helping to win co-ed rec-league slo-pitch playoff games. (And yes, we won our division, in an exciting extra-inning game.)

That's just what the working life is like, y'know.

Remember, once upon a time, when Friday nights were for gettin' out there, chasin' tail, hoistin' a few drinks and staying out until the crazy hours?

Gotta level with you... to me, these days, an ideal Friday night finds me in bed by 11.

Is this what life's about? Can I expect another couple of decades of this, roughly speaking? (Plus, if all goes well, a wife, kids, home ownership, and all that jazz.) I guess the key to life is reveling in the everyday and appreciating the routine.

Anyway... I guess that's that for now. Although, I do have a bit of South Scarberian to teach you.

bare (adj.) almost entirely, primarily, overwhelmingly
— example: "I went to the mall, and it was bare emo-kids."

'bout that life (?) into that, interested in that, participated in that
— example: "Hey, did you know Alice played volleyball?"
                   "Really? I didn't know she was 'bout that life."

And a couple of funny exchanges with a kid, J, who's in my Grade 10 class...

Me: "So, when you combine these two elements like this, what's the name of the compound you get?"
J: "Oh... hmm... well, is the name 'sodium fluoride' or some shit like that?"
Me: "Well... yes. Yes, it is. Nice work."

(J walks in about 15 minutes late for his first-period class)
Me: "So, why were you late?"
J: "I slept in."
Me: "I see... when did you go to bed last night?" (expecting "Oh, 1 in the morning, I was playing video games")
J: "Eight o'clock last night."
Me: (bewildered) "Is this a normal thing for you?"
J: "Nah. I was high last night at 8, and I just decided to go to bed."

Despite these unorthodox exchanges — or, perhaps, because of them — I kinda like this kid.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's a weird time to be a teacher in Ontario.

It's been a while, but the provincial government feels it's time to pick on teachers again. (Ah, reminds me of the late-'90s and early '00s; they were simpler times, weren't they?). This means people are talking about how much they hate us, or how much they love us.

Now, I'm not going to go on and on, telling you about how hard my job is. If you've been reading this blog for a while, I think you've been able to see that it's a gig that has its challenges — but, of course, it's not the only job that has challenges. I never make teachers out to be holier-than-thou; I mean, over lunch today a bunch of us had a conversation which was inspired by an inane reality show called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo which veered into the profane and vulgar easily within three minutes. We're not saints, but we work fucking hard.

You've heard a group of people talk about teachers working 9-to-3, and you've heard another group (mostly teachers, probably) talk about all the extra hours they put in. Let me tell you what my day was like today, because it's a fairly typical one. And yes, I'm being completely honest here; no sugar-coating or embellishments. You have my word. All the lurid details (the ones I remember, anyway) are after the jump.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A short letter to the defence of the Detroit Tigers.

Toronto, Ontario
September 17, 2012

Dear Detroit Tigers defence,

Catch the fucking ball.

Sincerely,

JTL

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A collection of things that shall be said.

The bottom of my right foot hurts intermittently.

My students this year seem quite alright. Then again, we're in that honeymoon period where they'll do what I tell them, unquestioningly, no matter who they are. That usually lasts about to the end of the second week. But I have a good feeling about most of these kids.

I don't like to be used as a pawn for the Ontario Liberal party. I hope they don't win both by-elections today, thus getting a de facto majority (the Speaker votes with the government).

I think I'm going to start working out. I inadvertently entered a friendly competition amongst a few friends, most of whom already work out, and... well, we'll see how that goes.

Why is it still so damn hot?

I haven't played baseball since July. Watched a hell of a lot of games, but haven't thrown a ball in almost six weeks.

I doubt I've worn a wristwatch more than 20 times in the past dozen years.

I lost a few important little pieces of paper at work today, and I have no clue where they are, and it's driving me crazy.

I don't like losing things.

I "upgraded" my desktop computer's Ubuntu to the latest version, and I hate it with a passion. It took a couple of hours to upgrade, and it'll probably take me a week to reinstall the old version (but not wipe out all my data files; don't worry, mom, I'll back up everything important).

"Mixed Emotions" is probably the best song the Rolling Stones have recorded in the past thirty years.

I might go to bed Friday night and sleep straight through until Monday morning. It could very well happen. 'Tis the season.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Music was better in the '90s.

...right?

In Rolling Stone every week, there's a "From the Vault" section beside the charts on the back page, showing the top 10 singles from some era in the magazine's history. They started publishing the thing in the late '60s, so this goes back some time, but on occasion they have something from only a few years ago.

This week's chart is from August 6, 1992.
  1. Madonna — "This Used To Be My Playground"
  2. Sir Mix-A-Lot — "Baby Got Back"
  3. TLC — "Baby-Baby-Baby"
  4. Boys II Men — "End Of The Road"
  5. Guns N' Roses — "November Rain"
  6. Billy Ray Cyrus — "Achy Breaky Heart"
  7. Jon Secada — "Just Another Day"
  8. Tom Cochrane — "Life Is A Highway"
  9. En Vogue — "Giving Him Something He Can Feel"
  10. George Michael — "Too Funky"
Surprised?

Don't be.

The biggest-selling single of 1969 was "Sugar, Sugar" by a fake group, The Archies. Singles also released in 1969 include:
  • Led Zeppelin — "Whole Lotta Love"
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival — "Bad Moon Rising", "Fortunate Son", and a couple others
  • The Beatles — "Come Together"
  • The Who — "Pinball Wizard"
  • David Bowie — "Space Oddity"
  • Santana — "Evil Ways"
  • Sly & the Family Stone — "Hot Fun In The Summertime"
  • Shocking Blue — "Venus"
...and "Sugar, Sugar" wiped the floor with all of them.

Yeah, when I initially saw the chart from 1992 I was surprised there wasn't anything by Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam... nothing from your favourite alt-rock stalwarts. But then I realized that, above the notion that "music" is either better or worse at a particular point in history than it is now, is that most people have really, really shitty taste in music.

(You, on the other hand, Dear Reader, have immaculate taste in music.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five things about aging.

Warning: This blog post "keeps it real."

Look, I'm not getting any younger. (And neither are you; that's just how time works. It goes forwards. Every single thing is getting older, one day per day.)

There are certain things about getting older that nobody seems to mention. I know I've never seen a "60 Minutes" exposé on any of these things, either singly or together. So, consider this a public service.

(Please note that some, or all, or none of the following may apply to you. All I can say is these things have happened to me.)

#1: My taste in women has changed.

When I was a young buck of 19, I was in this weirdo program that UW and Queen's had together, where I did teacher's college in my third year of my undergrad program. This meant that I was around women who were 22-24 for a good long while... and they were fascinating, alluring, intelligent creatures.

You know the "half your age plus seven" rule, right? Well, I'm 34, so (34/2) + 7 = 24, which seems reeeeeeally young for a woman I'd consider dating. Don't get me wrong, 24-year-olds are a hell of a lot of fun to be around and look at, but... crikey, that's a child. A sexy, sexy child.

Obviously, it comes down to a case-by-case basis, but I think 27 would be an appropriate age-floor for me these days. I wouldn't rule a 25-year-old out, but she's gotta be pretty extraordinary.

#2: Hair starts disappearing.

This doesn't apply to everyone, of course. And while I had a little early retreat in my 20s, I think we're pretty much in a holding pattern these days. Of course, with hair this fair, it can be tough to nail down exactly where it is and where it isn't, but yeah, some of it has made its way to the exits.

And you know what? I don't really care that much. I feel like I should care a lot, and I do care some, but... well, here's the deal. Every single person you know has some sort of physical imperfection. You probably noticed it right away when you met them, but after a while it just becomes part of who they are. Some people have funny noses, some people have odd fingernails, some people have flat butts. And some people have lost a little hair.

Really, what good does a full head of hair do? In some anthropological way, it probably signifies to a female mate that you're young, can get it up pretty well, and you're virile and can thus father children. And I know that our brains do work on that level, to an extent, either consciously or subconsciously. In the end, though, once I club a woman and drag her back to the cave to be mine (or, y'know, do that whole "romance" thing instead), does it matter? Not really. So suck it, Rogaine.

#3: Hair starts appearing.

Oh, but it shifts around, it does.

I'll be checking myself out in the mirror and I'll notice one lonely (but prominent) hair sticking out of my skin near, say, my shoulder — absolutely nowhere near my chest hair. But it's there.

How? Why? What the hell is going on? Did a rogue follicle make its way south from my skull and decide to set up camp near my shoulder? I didn't think they could migrate, but there it is.

Do other people get this too?

#4: I hurt a little, but not much.

Once upon a time, after the first baseball game I'd play in a season, I'd hurt a little the morning after, but it'd be gone pretty quickly.

These days, my hurting takes on a different but reliable pattern, and it lasts the first two or three weeks:
  • play baseball on a Sunday night
  • feel absolutely fine Monday morning
  • start hurting Monday evening, through Tuesday morning
  • be fine by Tuesday afternoon
There's a delayed-reaction thing going on, and I don't know why. At least I can plan for it.

#5: I actually like aging, all in all.

If you, and your life, stayed exactly the same... wouldn't that get boring after a while? Doing the same thing, going the same places, seeing the same people. Hrmmpphhh.

Don't get me wrong; obviously there are people and places that have stayed near-and-dear to me for a long time. But I like seeing new things, meeting new folks, going here-and-there and finding new stuff out, discovering new bands (or just new songs from bands I already knew)... which brings me to a bigger point.

I have friends and relatives who got married young and had kids and bought a house and have the whole thing seemingly salted-away... which is fine — believe me, there's a whole lotta stupid stuff they don't have to deal with anymore (e.g. dating), and I'm a little envious of that, I'm not gonna lie.

But at the same time, I can't help but notice the things they don't do anymore, because they have those responsibilities I don't — randomly going on 12-day solo baseball-centered roadtrips to the US midwest, for one — and since I like doing things like that, it makes me a little wary to "settle down."

I think, right now, I'm in this sweet spot where I'm old enough to appreciate things like baseball roadtrips, but still young enough to have a future ahead of me which includes all those great things most of us want out of life (spouse, kids, house, comfort, etc.). But at the same time... y'know, I'm turning 35 in a couple of months, so how long does this extended-adolescence window stay open?

Getting older has agreed with me pretty well so far. It might turn ugly soon, though — or it might not. I'm in a good spot right now, though, and that's about all a fella can hope for, isn't it?

Friday, August 03, 2012

On the Chinese.

It's hard not to think, as I watch a ton of Chinese athletes win gold medals all over the place at the Olympics, it's only a matter of time before they take over the world (and probably enslave the rest of us in the process). Consider:
  • there's 1,339,724,852 of them
  • they're loaded-up on US debt
  • their government does extremely bold things
To me, that's a pretty volatile combination. But as it applies to sports, consider each of the poins:

The Numbers
If you have that many people, odds are that you're going to have someone who has just the right build and mental temperament to excel at pretty much anything. (You can make cracks about how short they are, but consider that (a.) you're probably thinking about Hong Kongers as opposed to mainland Chinese, and (b.) Yao Ming is 7'6".)

The Money
In case you haven't noticed, they have a lot of it, and a lot of that comes from the US because the US is in a lot of debt and a lot of that is owed to China. You can talk about GDP and whatnot, but that doesn't include the amount of money in business/government that doesn't circulate out to the average-folk.

The Government
This is perhaps the most interesting/formidable piece of the puzzle. Remember the Beijing olympics? The government did such things as (a.) build huge/expensive/crazy buildings for all the events, (b.) bulldoze entire neighbourhoods to build things, (c.) ordered industries to shut down for a few weeks to clear the air pollution around the city, and most crazily (d.) seeded the clouds before they got to Beijing, ensuring sunny skies for outdoor events.

But what concerns me the most are the stories about how they train athletes. You know the script: at age 6, someone sees that some kid has a real aptitude for, say, gymnastics. Kid gets yanked from the family and gets put in some special school for athletes halfway across the country. Kid spends all day, every day, training for their event. So, when they finally win that gold medal, of course it's a huge sigh of relief; there's so much invested in them, for decades — not just with themselves and their coaches, but the whole government apparatus as well.

The only thing I can think of which comes close in this country is kids who are trying to climb the ladder to play professional hockey — there are endless tournaments, games, leagues, camps and such, and if you play in the OHL in a team away from home, that can involve a lot of separation from your family, friends and otherwise "normal" life (although I think there are rules that keep kids under 16 in their hometown, or close to it).

I dunno, man. In the end, sure, China may end up kicking all our asses on the medal count. But if the kids-turned-adults have to pay that high a price in order to win everything... they can just keep those medals, thanks, and I'll take kids with normal childhoods instead.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ridiculousness.

This is a story in several parts. As you might be able to surmise, it is ridiculous.

1. I met a girl, R, back in about March-ish — yes, the online dating thing (from which I'm taking a break, possibly permanently) — and we went out a few times. Things ultimately didn't work out romantically, but we stayed friends.

2. In April, R mentioned that she wanted to play baseball (i.e., slo-pitch) this summer, and hey, do you happen to know any teams that need a player? Turns out ours did; we're a co-ed team and we have to have a certain number of women on the field at all times, so I put R in contact with the people who run the team.

Now, I know what you're thinking: J, you asshole, you're dumber than a pillowcase full of Lego blocks. Why would you do this? The answer is, I don't know. Maybe I was drunk. Anyway, for the majority of this season, it's been very non-awkward, much to my surprise.

3. This past weekend a bunch of us on the team played in a tournament in Brantford on Saturday and Sunday. Most of those people stayed in a hotel in Brantford on both Friday and Saturday nights, as to facilitate drinking; I drove up myself instead on Saturday morning and stayed at my brother's place a short drive away, mostly because (a.) it's free, (b.) it's moderately fun, (c.) I don't get to see him and my niece quite as often as I'd like, and (d.) to be honest I don't really hang out with the rest of the people on my team a lot.

Let me qualify that last one a bit. I genuinely like everyone on the team. Lovely people, solid teammates, good camaraderie. We just don't happen to hang out together, socially; we run in different circles, I guess you could say. R, on the other hand, is blending in well.

4. I was chatting on Facebook today with R, and we were discussing some events from the weekend. Eventually it came out that she thought I was very "negative," I see the world as black-and-white, and that I didn't know how to talk to women. I disagree with each of these.

To the first charge: I would definitely say that I'm an analytical person. It's in my nature to take things apart, see what's going on, and if I don't like it, I'll tell you how I feel about it. Sometimes that's not going to turn out positively, because the world isn't all sunshine and roses. However, if I've learned one thing from my job in the past dozen years, it's how to be diplomatic about it. I would not say that, on the whole, that I exude negativity.

To the second charge: I wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, I see some things as definite — Nickelback sucks, beer is delicious, baseball is fun — but I'm definitely a shades-of-grey, grain-of-salt kind of guy. Life is a set of nuances, and devils lie in details.

To the third charge: I didn't really know how to talk to R, because she's a decade younger than I am. (For the record, she first contacted me; I rolled with it because frankly it was pretty flattering and I wanted to see how it'd go, but after a while I could see it just wasn't going to work.)

5. Perhaps most irritatingly, R did these two things on Facebook:
5a. Posted a vague, passive-aggressive status update along the lines of, "People who have too much negativity in their lives don't belong in mine" — which is worthy of perhaps a 14-year-old girl's diary.
5b. Didn't de-friend me, but made it so that I couldn't see anything except her most basic info, which essentially does the same thing.

In any other situation, I'd de-friend this person on FB and probably never talk to them again. But... y'know, we're on a baseball team together, through mid-September. And possibly next season. So, as much as I'd love to fire off one hell of a kiss-off email and dust my hands of the whole matter... R and this asshole still occasionally have to throw a sphere to each other.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

One-sentence random thought #18.

Sometimes you dodge a bullet, and you don't realize it until much, much, much later.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Choices.

So I'm watching the annual snoozefest that is the Major League Baseball all-star game, and because it's an American national suck-and-fuck, they trot out "God Bless America".

That may be the song I hate the most on planet Earth.

. . .

Yes, I'd rather listen to Eminem rap. I'd rather listen to Inuit throat-singing (which is actually pretty interesting). I would rather listen to the recent hit song by the North Korean dictator's — er, Supreme Leader — rumoured mistress, a married pop star who climed the DPRK charts with this little toe-tapper entitled "Excellent Horse-Like Lady".



I assume something got lost in the translation; it's probably high praise in that language/society to say someone works like a horse, or has the disposition of a horse, or something along those lines.

Still makes for a pretty funny and easy joke, though — which is exactly what we specialize in, around here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I oughtta make this my theme song.

I don't believe in astrology (and neither should you), but the rest of the lyrics are pretty applicable to me these days.




(It's fine, I'm fine, don't you worry; I'm chuckling about the whole thing. I probably can't share what this is, though. Trust me, though, it's funny. And yes, I'm a god damn cocktease.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

This is art.

No, really, it is.


This is a Yoko Ono installation which has three piles of dirt, labelled "Country A", "Country B" and "Country C". On the wall behind the dirt is a poster that says "War is Over".

Look, I know it's weird, but here's why it works for me.

I've heard that astronauts, when asked what they found most striking about their view of Earth from orbit, say the thing that gets them the most is that, when you look down on the Earth, there are no lines separating countries. It's just all one thing, blended and blurred and continuous. The boundaries we draw between each other are just that: drawn. They're not real; we make them up.

Similarly, Ono's piece says that, no matter what country you're from, the dirt is all the same. Her statement about war is apt, of course, but another angle occurred to me: since we all eat things that come from the Earth (directly or indirectly), and we're made up of the atoms and molecules of the things we eat (and breathe, of course), and the things we eat all grow in dirt that looks the same (and is all somewhat chemically homogenous)... we're more similar than we think. We're all the same, from the molecules on up. And yet, we choose to make wars and kill and oppress and exploit.

Go figure.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

This is bullshit.

Highs of 33 and 34 this week, plus humidity?

TIME TO GO BACK TO ICELAND.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Buying a bike is intimidating.

One of my proudest moments as a 14-ish-year-old was going into Woolco with money I'd earned mowing lawns and working in fields, and coming out with a mountain bike that I knew I'd earned.

Oddly, I don't remember it being much of a pain in the ass to pick one out.

When I lived in Calgary as a university student in the summer of '99, I bought a bike at the local Value Village, I believe for $60. The thing might've been previously stolen, who knows? Anyway, what I do know is that Calgary has some pretty sweet bike trails through the city, and I biked around a bunch of them. At the end of the summer I left the bike in the shed at the house at which I was staying, and I haven't owned one since.

So, these days, I live in Toronto, not too far from the Don river valley, which has some nice trails too. I think you can go all off-road-y if you want and jump over logs and all sorts of crazy crap, but that's not really my cup of tea. There's a trail that goes from a sidestreet just down the block from me, all the way to the Brick Works, which I visited for the first time ever a few weeks ago, and it looks like a good (if disorganized) way to spend a Saturday afternoon. A bike, therefore, sounds like a good idea.

Here's the problem, though. Let's say you go into a bike shop and you're looking for something simple. Inevitably, you'll encounter a Bike Person. How can you tell if a person you're talking to is a Bike Person?
  • They really know a shit-ton about bicycles.
  • They act as if they're a little bit better than you because they ride a bike — and you, you fucking part-of-the-problem, you drive a car.
  • They occasionally act as if they know physics.
  • They poo-pooh places like Canadian Tire.
My next-door neighbour is hardcore about bikes; he owns five of them (which he apparently all keeps inside his third-floor apartment). He's a Bike Person, and he suggested a bike from a place up the street. I went there earlier today, and this bike runs a cool $479. As I'm discovering, this is actually a fairly low-priced bike, as far as bikes go.

And so it continues, this bike-buying idiocy. All I wanted to do, a few weeks ago, is walk into Crappy Tire, get one of their cheaper models, and ride it around the neighbourhood. Now I'm all into disc brakes, hybrid mountain/road bikes, 29-inch wheels, and several-hundred-dollar investments... my head is swimming. Plus, on top of this, I'll have to buy a lock and a helmet for the first time. What a pain in the ass!

Maybe I'll just steal one instead.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

I'm 81% sure I'm doing the right thing.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm taking the summer off from chasing women. It's going fairly well so far, I think — nobody has chased me down and forced me to make love to them yet, so let's call it a tentative success to this point.

I can't help but think, though... am I missing out on opportunities here? Are there women out there that I'm taking great pains to avoid, but who are fantastic people and might actually dig me? The answer is, of course there are. But, you know what? That'll always be the case.

...I think.

The thing is, I've twisted myself in knots about women for the better part of the past couple of decades. Frankly, it's exhausting, and I need some time off. It's been nice so far, but I'll let you know in July if I'm getting antsy.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Just try to get this song out of your head, I dare you.

There's no particular reason why I like this song. It's from the '80s, and it's cheesy. The video looks like an Off-Off-Broadway production of Cats, as viewed through the lens of the early-'90s Super Nintendo game Street Fighter II* (i.e., the second-best video game in the history of the world, after River Raid for the Atari 2600). I'm not sure how it got stuck in my head a few days ago, either.

But hey, here we are.



Enjoy Scandal (featuring Patty Smyth (no, not Patti Smith)) and their song "The Warrior", direct from 1984 (the year (not the novel (or the movie based on the novel))) to you.
________________________________________________________
* I may or may not have participated in a Street Fighter II tournament with two friends of mine until 7 am, back in high school.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here's a summary of Leviticus; it's long.

I've been curious lately as to what exactly is in the book of Leviticus, the third book of the Bible (and Torah). Apparently it has a lot of salacious stuff in there, mostly about what to do if two dudes are doin' it and want to get hitched. I used biblegateway.com and the New International Version of the Bible, because the King James Version sounds pretty gay, if I may say so myself. Anyway, here's what I found.

Chapter 1
Basically, how to offer burnt-animal sacrifices to God. In a lot of detail.

Chapter 2
How to offer grain-based offerings to God — again, in a lot of detail. The thing looks like a Martha Stewart cookbook. "If your grain offering is prepared on a griddle, it is to be made of the finest flour mixed with oil, and without yeast." And that's a good thing.

Chapter 3
Animal-based offerings, of the non-burnt variety. Remember, remove the long lobe of the liver with those kidneys, those are the holiest parts! Also, "All the fat is the Lord's."

Chapter 4
Wuh-oh, what to do if someone sins. I was expecting something juicier, but it's all about goats and what to do with them. Sometimes you sacrifice a male goat "without defects," sometimes a female goat "without defects." Good thing this book tells us which one.

Chapter 5
If you keep quiet if you know something's wrong and someone gets nailed for it, if you touch something "unclean," it's all about lambs and doves. Or, if you sin and didn't really mean to, take a good ram from your flock. Because it's 2012 and we're all fucking shepherds.

Chapter 6
Screw-over your neighbour? Pay back what you stole, add 20% and, you guessed it, a ram from your flock goes to God. Also, more about how exactly to burn offerings: burn it all night, the priest has to wear linen undies, change clothes before scooping out the ashes, and for crying out loud keep that fire going all night. Grains must give "an aroma pleasing to the Lord," but really, who knows what the Lord digs? Also, clay pots have to be smashed afterwards, but just make sure to give bronze pots a good scrubbing.

Chapter 7
More about how to do offerings. Honestly, this all sounds pretty wasteful; why would you make awesome bread and then just burn it? This ghost in the sky has some really weird fetishes. If you sneak a bit of God's offering, though -- even if you're really peckish -- sorry, pal, but you're supposed to be "cut off from [your] people." Same goes if you're an Israelite and you eat the fat of cattle, sheep or goats, or blood. Cut off!

Can we please talk about something other than offerings? This is getting pretty repetitive.

Chapter 8
Alright, so now we get Moses and Aaron into the picture... and all they do is talk about how they sacrificed things. Pleasing aromas, splashing some blood on the altar and their clothes, sometimes with and sometimes without yeast, yadda yadda.

Chapter 9
Moses and Aaron invite some elders down for another goddamn sacrifice. PLEASE GET TO THE HOMOSEXUAL PARTS! (Tee hee, though... "And when all the people saw [the burning sacrifice], they shouted for joy and fell facedown." FAIL.)

Chapter 10
Two of Aaron's sons lit up some incense, and because it wasn't holy, God burned them to death, and Aaron didn't say a thing. Also, if your hair is natty and your clothes are ripped, and you leave church early, or drink booze in church, GOD IS GOING TO KILL YOU. S'ok, though, Israelites can mourn your death. So you've got that going for you, which is nice.

Chapter 11
Here's what you can eat: stuff with divided hooves and chews cud. But not camels, or hyraxes, or rabbits, or (obviously) pigs. Scales and fins on swimming animals? Fry 'em up. Eagles, vultures, kites, ravens, owls, and a few other birds are a no-go. Locusts and crickets are fine, but some flying insects aren't. If you touch something unclean, you're "unclean till evening." And, NO SNAKES.

Chapter 12
Give birth to a son? You're unclean for a week, then wait another 33 days to be purified. DOUBLE THIS IF YOU GIVE BIRTH TO A DAUGHTER. (Why? Just because.) Oh, and circumcise the boy when he's eight days old. (Snippity-snip!) Oh yeah, and there's some burnt offerings involved, "to make atonement for her" — for what, squeezing a new potential minion for You out of her vag?!

Chapter 13
Have a rash? Take it to a priest; he'll tell you if it's a "defiling skin disease" or not, because priests are totally doctors. Here's the punchline, though: "Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp." Oh, and if mold grows on your fabrics, have a priest check that out, too. (They're so handy.)

Chapter 14
What do you do if you're unclean from such a skin disease? Well, there's some cedar involved, and some scarlet yarn, and some birds you have to dip in other birds' blood. (Wait, what?) Then, you guessed it, animal sacrifices for all!

Chapter 15
Have an unusual bodily discharge? You, and everything you touch, are unclean. Did you ejaculate? Unclean until evening. Did you cum on the sheets? Wash them... but they're still unclean until evening. Also, if a man and a woman screw... you'd better believe they're unclean until evening. Raggin' chicks are unclean for a week, as are dudes who do them and get a little Aunt Flo on their business. Then you wait a week, and sacrifice two doves (burning one of them). Man, you'd blow through your dove budget in no time flat!

Chapter 16
I think all of this chapter deals with Aaron only, but I'm not sure. It talks about how Aaron has to wear linen and sacrifice something, but only on a certain day. But, at the end it says that everyone has to fast and rest on the tenth day of the seventh month, every year. Guess I know what I'll be doing on July 10!

Chapter 17
You see, it's the blood of the animals you sacrifice that carries its life... so, eat it and God'll kick your ass.

Chapter 18
Aha, the part I was waiting for. Don't screw close relatives; but more specifically, don't screw...
  • your mom
  • your stepmom
  • your sister (or stepsister)
  • your granddaughter
  • your aunt
  • your daughter-in-law
  • your sister-in-law
  • a mom/daughter combo
  • your wife's sister that you have married (if your first wife's still alive)
  • a chick on the rag
  • your neighbour's wife
  • a dude
  • an animal (this apparently goes for chicks too)
Also, don't sacrifice your kid to Molek, because that god is a douche. If you do any of these things, you get cut off from your people.

Chapter 19
All sorts of assorted rules in here, man... don't lie, slander, steal, all that good stuff. Don't harvest your grain to the edge of your property; that's for the poors, as are the grapes you try to harvest but, whoops, they fell on the ground. Don't cuss-out deaf people, and don't move furniture in the way of blind people, for kicks. Love your neighbour as yourself. (Actually, I could sorta get behind that last one.) A special kind of random crazy pops up next, though:
  • don't mate different kinds of animals (although mules have been around for a while, no?)
  • don't plant two different kinds of seeds in your field
  • don't wear clothes of two diferent fabrics
  • if you screw some other guy's chick-slave, it's bad, but it's not *that* bad
  • if you plant a fruit tree in a foreign country, the fruit is unclean for three years; in the fourth it's holy enough for God, and in the fifth it's edible for you
  • don't cut the hair on the sides of your head, or trim the sides of your beard
  • don't get a tattoo
  • don't make your daughter a prostitute
All good ideas, really.

Chapter 20
This reminds me of Jasper on the Simpsons describing what's worth a paddlin'.
  • sacrificing kids to Molek = death
  • visit a psychic = cut off from your people (and death to the psychic)
  • cussing-out your parents = death
  • screw another man's wife = death (for both of you)
  • screw your mom, stepmom, daughter-in-law, a dude or an animal = death (for everyone involved)
  • marry a woman and her mom at the same time = all three get burned to death
  • marry and screw your sister, or do a raggin' chick = everyone's cut off
  • screw your aunt or marry your brother's wife = you'll all die childless
Chapter 21
Rules for priests, which oddly mentions how they're not supposed to marry a divorced chick or a prostitute, but I suppose marrying someone else is alright... right, Mr. Pope, sir? Anyway, if a priest's daugher is a prostitute, burn her. Also, high priests can't marry anyone but (a.) a virgin, (b.) of the same background as them, in addition to the above rules for regular priests. Also, keep the cripples away from the fucking offerings.

Chapter 22
Actually, keep all the dirty pervs away from the fucking offerings. Oh, and if a priest buys a slave, it's cool if they eat food the priest makes — but not his daughter if she marries anyone except a priest, but if she's "back on the market" and hasn't squeezed out a kid yet, it's cool, she can eat that food again. And, remember, no crippled sacrifices — only the best of the best should be wasted for the Lord!

Chapter 23
Don't work on the Sabbath. Passover's on such-and-such a day. Sacrifice the first grain you harvest, and then seven weeks later sacrifice a shitload more. Blow some trumpets on another day, take another day and atone for stuff you've done, then some time later take a whole week and just go to town on the whole "celebrating the Lord" thing — and make it a camp-out, for good measure.

Chapter 24
This bit's a little confusing... keep olive-oil lamps burning all night outside the tent that houses the ark of the covenant, and stack up some awesome bread for Aaron and his sons while you're at it — after all, they're the ones tending to the lamps. Then it gets fun and random: the people you're supposed to stone to death, specifically blasphemers of the name of God and murderers. But hey, if you hit your neighbour, he can hit you back; "eye for an eye," after all. Same goes if you kill his animal; he can kill one of yours.

Chapter 25
So, God's going to give the Israelites their country back, see? And when they get there, they're supposed to do all their normal farming and such for six years. But on the seventh, DON'T DO SHIT. Whatever the land gives you, man, just roll with it, it's yours. And on the seventh one of those seventh years, light 'er up and have a huge party, trumpets and all! Also, there are complex rules about buying houses in walled cities vs. non-walled cities, and remember not to charge people interest or gouge them on the price of food. AND HEY, SLAVES ARE ALRIGHT.

Chapter 26
If you follow these rules, God will be awesome to you. And if you don't, God will fuck you up in ways you can't even fathom, including forcing you to eat your children. (And it goes on and on and on. Really.)

Chapter 27
This is a little fuzzy. Apparently God said, "If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the Lord by giving the equivalent value, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver." I'm not sure what "dedicate" means here (c'mon, human sacrifice!), but it goes on to list what everyone is "worth," and you'd better believe chicks are worth less than dudes. Later on you can see what other assorted items are worth if they're "dedicated."

Alright, children, what have we learned from this?

RELIGION IS COMPLICATED,
AND MOSTLY PRETTY FUCKING STUPID.

I liked the bit about loving your neighbour, though. That was alright.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One-sentence random thought #17.

There's nothing about Kristen Wiig which isn't sexy as hell.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

I think I'm going to stop chasing women for a while.

Am I really this bad at first-dates? Go out for drink, engage in long, interesting conversation which zips along nicely, get her laughing, make witty references to things, and...

(           )

...yup, that's about what I get in response. Not even crickets chirping. Just... zero.

"Their loss," a friend tells me. Thank you, friend, for trying to boost my ego. (Incidentally, also, thank you, friend, for shooting me down as well, years ago.)

God. Seriously, ladies. Seriously. Don't lead a man on, on a date,* with smiles and laughter and welcoming body language for over two hours and then disappear. Totally not cool.
________________
* The reason I include this disclaimer is, in the past, I've been engaged in really awesome, fun conversations with women while not technically on a date, and they drop the ol' boyfriend-reference in there, and we've covered that ground already in the good pages of this blog years ago.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Students say the darndest things.

From a very reputable source...

(student walks into a classroom which has a picture of Che Guevera on the wall)

Student: Who's that guy?
Teacher: That's Che Guevara. He was big in the Cuban revolution.
Student: Wow, he looks a lot like my lawyer.
Teacher: Uh... you have a lawyer?
Student: [shrugs] Yeah. A lot of people want to sue me.

Seriously, folks. You want a profession where every day is pregnant with the promise of something this funny? Join us.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Teachers say the darndest things.

I work with a fantastic group of people. Our department has really come together in the past couple of years — there's a good mix of younger and older, guys and girls, funny and (usually-)straight-laced. What that means is that, at any time, something crazy can be said by pretty much anyone. Here are a few snippets.

Gender key:
guys = J (me), R, D, C
gals = W, A, F, P, V, G

* * * * *
(this morning, in the department office)

W: I'm texting A [currently on leave but comes in to supply-teach often] and telling her [jokingly] she's a bitch.
J: Oh hey, while you're texting A, can you ask her if she can come in for me when I'm away on the 4th?
W: Sure, no problem.

(later that day)

W: I texted A and said that you wanted to have sex with her on the 4th.
J: Dammit! That's the last time I ask you to pass on a message.
W: What can I say, I have a mischievious streak a mile wide.

* * * * *
(after last class ended, in my classroom)

J (to student I don't teach but who knows kids that I do teach): So did you do the frog dissection last semester?
Student: Yeah, I did. We goofed around a bit, though.
J: Oh? Why'd you do that?
Student: I don't know. But R [his teacher] told me to stop messing around or he'd kick my ass.

* * * * *
(this morning on the way to work, after picking up D at the subway station)

D: Did you hear about that teacher in California who was fired because she did a porn flick, years before she became a teacher?
J: I did! Wow, guess you're a little more nervous now, eh?
D: Nah, there's a double-standard for men and women. W, on the other hand, she's gotta be on pins-and-needles over this.

* * * * *
(before school last week, in the department office, several people around)

F, to me: I swear, I have two talents in this world. One is baking, and the other... I don't even really know what the other one is.
W (while writing, not even looking up): ...BJ's?

* * * * *
(today during lunch, in the department office)

C: Have you ever seen those balls that hang down from the trailer hitches of pickup trucks?
J: Yeah, they're called "Truck Nutz". They're ridiculous.
V: Oh yeah, those. I fully expect my husband to have a set of 'em on his truck anytime now. I think the blue ones are funny.
* * * * *
(this morning, department office)

J: I dunno, man. I'm a little nervous about doing this dissection today. I've never done one with a class before.
C: Well, yeah, I can see that. It's really not so bad.
(G walks into office; C doesn't see her)
C: It's alright to be nervous your first time. You know, like losing your virginity.
G: Wow, I really walked into that at the wrong time.

* * * * *

We also have a quote-wall up on a somewhat-obscured part of the department office, in case students come in. Some of the saltier ones that come to mind:

P: "It's like Viagra for your pie."
R: "Literacy's our bitch. We're riding her hard and putting her away wet."
C (to W and A): "I'm like the sexier version of both of you."
P (after bringing in some fancy mixed nuts): "These aren't just your ordinary nuts here."

What can I say, it's a good group.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sometimes, you get to see them again.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: One of the weirdest things about my job as a teacher is that, after we do our work and hopefully cram some ideas into kids' heads, chances are we never see them again (at least in any meaningful kind of way). Only rarely do you get to see the fruits of your labour, years afterward.

Today was one such experience.

Several years ago, in this post (the first part) I told you about a girl I taught who cut me off, mid-sentence, to ask me if I was wearing coloured contacts; when I said I wasn't, she expressed astonishment at how blue my eyes were. (I ain't gonna lie, they're a pretty good feature.)

During third period today, I zipped out of my grade 10 class — seriously, you could put a cardboard cutout of me up at the front of the room and they'd still do their work — to wheel a few computers down the hall into a storage room. On my way I saw three girls lazily walking down the hall, not really in a hurry to get anywhere; I didn't look too closely to see who they were, so I told them my standard thing, "C'mon now, time to get going back to class." They didn't really respond with much, so I just kept going about my business.

After I'd put the computers away, I was passing back through and one of the girls said, "Hey, don't you recognize me?" (N.B. that's the LAST thing ANY male wants to hear from ANY female, regardless of (a.) where you are, (b.) who she is, and (c.) how little you actually do remember her.) I paused for a minute, and it started to come back... indeed, I'd taught her and both her friends. I couldn't immediately place the name, though. We chatted for a bit, then I went back to the classroom to grab more computers.

As I was getting those other carts, it struck me: that was the blue-eyes girl! When I came back around and saw them again, I said to her, "I taught you grade 10 applied science, in that room down there. You sat in the front row and once asked me if I was wearing coloured contacts." The look on her face was priceless. "Oh yeah! I can't believe you remembered that!" (Not bad, eh? That was in the fall of 2006, by the way, over five years ago.)

The four of us chatted for a bit. Blue-Eyes was going to York and taking political science; one of the others is at UofT for something-or-other, and the third (who I taught the only time I ever taught summer school; I later taught her younger sister) is at Ryerson studying social work, and all of them are just finishing up third year. All three of them were nice teenagers, and they're turning into fine young adults — as far as a five-minute conversation can reveal. (I dunno, though, I'm usually pretty decent at detecting BS.)

At any rate, it was a lovely reunion, and completely by accident. Life's like that sometimes, though.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On casinos in Ontario.

(Yes, yes, I realize it's been a while.)

Over the long weekend — Opening Day on Thursday in Detroit, then another Tiger game on Saturday — I spent a lot of time hanging out with my family. One of the things on their mind is how the horse track in Sarnia is going to survive after the province pulls the slot machines out, apparently in May.

Once upon a time, before slot machines were allowed at tracks, the purses won by horses were pretty paltry: a few hundred here and there, maybe a grand, maybe more if it was a stakes race. Worth coming out for, but barely. The purses essentially came from the bets that people made, and that alone.

When the province allowed slot machines at racetracks, suddenly the purses jumped up into the thousands. Money was everywhere, and horsemen all around the province rejoiced. My own family got into it: my uncle and cousin have had a few horses over the past few years, and some of them made a bit of money. Some didn't, of course, but that's the way it goes. (Fun fact: if a farmer owns a racehorse, they can still be counted, tax-wise, as "livestock." True story.) Now the province wants to take the slots out of any tracks (or establishments) which aren't provincially owned. This means the sure death of the track in Sarnia, and doubtless others all around Ontario.

There's been talk lately of opening up a casino on the waterfront in Toronto; some say the Ontario Place site would be ideal. It may be, it may not be, I'm not sure. I don't really have an opinion on where it goes; I'm more concerned with how, and why, gambling brings money in.

Let's face it: gambling, whether it be in slot machines, horse races, other sports betting, lotteries, or anything else, is run for one purpose, and that's to make money for whoever's running it. Sure, a few people Roll Up The Rim and win a car, but how many people didn't this spring? You, and me, and a hell of a lot of people. It's far easier to get a dollar from a million people than a million dollars from one person.

It's been said that gambling is a "tax on the poor," and that sentiment couldn't be more correct. Who buys lottery tickets? Not rich people, I assure you. Gambling takes money from poor people, with the promise of maybe, just maybe, this is your lucky day. (It probably isn't, though.) Studies have shown that, if you make rewards randomly-timed, you can get people to obsessively play a game in order to win a prize, even if it's a token and not really worth anything. Just imagine how people would play it if a few million buckaroos was on the line!

Modern democracies use taxation as a way of levelling-out income disparities: income taxes are high on the rich and low on the poor. Republicans call this "communist social engineering," but responsible people call it "how to make a just society." We've done it for decades, and it seems to be working fine.

Governments run things like lotteries to raise revenues. Poor people overwhelmingly buy lottery tickets, and because the deck is stacked against lottery-players — or gamblers of any stripe — by definition, this means that poor people are shovelling money into the system. Which is not what you want.

"Think of how much money a casino will bring in," advocates say. Where does this money come from? The people who need to hold onto it most.

Casino, indeed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That was a close one.

A couple of weeks ago, I came home after work one day, put my bag down, glanced over at my phone, and the answering machine said "0" like it normally does. You see, most people send me email, or we chat on some sort of instant messenger service, or we use homing-pigeons (a lost art, I say; Mike Tyson has been into them since he was a kid).

I thought to myself, "I'm paying $34 a month for my landline. Shoot, that's how much some cell phone plans cost. Why am I doing this?" So, I started checking out various cell phone plans, intent on ditching the landline once and for all.

And, boy-howdy, there's a lot of cell phone providers out there. There are pay-as-you-go plans and month-to-month deals, and of course the always dreaded year-or-two-or-eight contracts that the Big Guys lock people into. Some offer free phones; I have a fairly recent Blackberry, so I don't really need one.
  • We give you X local minutes free per month!
  • Unlimited texting to Canadian and US numbers!
  • Evenings and weekends, as many minutes as you want!
  • Free beer!
It was enough to make a fella's head spin. And, nobody seemed to give the right mix of features that I wanted for a price I thought was fair: I don't need a data plan, I don't need unlimited North America-wide long distance, I don't need a newfangled touchscreen phone.

And then there's the X minutes per month thing. Some months I might talk on the phone less than 30 minutes in total; other times I'll call up an old friend and we'll chat for two hours. How do I know how many minutes I'll need, in advance? There's really no way to tell.

Yes, I could've gotten around some of those issues; if I wanted to call up an old chum and chew the fat for a good long while, I could dial them up using Google Voice for free. Primus has this phone system which only needs a high-speed internet connection. Skype might've been an option.

In the end, everything which isn't a landline is a giant damn hassle. I've had a VOIP phone before (years ago with Rogers Cable) and the quality was shitty; my parents have the same thing now with Cogeco and they've had service guys out to their house so often they probably know 'em by name. If I was to go cell-only, I'd have to charge the damn thing all the damn time, it wouldn't work if the power was out, and if I lost it I'd be totally fuuuuuuucked (as so many people seem to be when they lose their designed-to-be-lost cell phone in a cab or at a rave or in a wax museum or wherever the deuce it is people go these days).

So, I called up Bell, asked what they could do for me, and they hacked $10/month off my bill. Status quo achieved! Landline and a cell I use sparingly, it'll remain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One-sentence random thought #16.

I've never been able to figure out how much irony Eric Clapton, who was once a voracious consumer of a certain white powder, intended with his song "Cocaine".



Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's that time of year.

Sure, it's tax time.

Sure, it's almost Opening Day (and the Tigers are looking gooooood).

Sure, it's spring.

But it's also that time of year where things get a whole hell of a lot busier for yours-truly. I'm coaching baseball again, and for April that means two morning practices a week. Gonna have to be at the school at 7:30. That means getting up at 6:00. Good christ.

* * * * *

Currently listening to a streaming preview of the new album by The Mars Volta, Noctourniquet, on the Rolling Stone website (here). If you've followed the Volta for the past few years, you know they're not the easiest listen in the world. Far from it, actually; they make absolutely terrible background music. You put this on, you're gonna want to cancel all your plans.

The biggest hurdle for most people is the vocal stylings of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who is a unique singer to say the least. For their first two albums he was somewhat Geddy Lee-ish, normally hanging out up-high; it was peculiar, but at least you knew what you were getting. Afterward, he's gone down in his vocal register quite a bit, and to be honest I don't really like the sound of his voice down there as much as before. It's just... weird.

As for the music, it's gotten a little less wacked-out-19-minute-prog-epic-ish... but to be honest that's why I started listening to them in the first place. However, on Noctourniquet, some of that comes back, and I'm a fan — you can really hear it in the third track, "Dyslexicon". That's some vintage Volta right there.

Be forewarned, though. The first track, "The Whip Hand", is not kind. It is just not a kind thing to do to your ears. If you really can't handle it, though, I assure you the next few cuts are gentler... but they ain't no Barry Manilow LP.

Rhythmically, they're up to a lot of their usual tricks: odd beats, changing time signatures, the usual fare which we've come to know and love.

So yeah, give it a listen. Don't cost nothin'. Might change ya life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"My Girl": A Lyrical Deconstruction.

The song in question is "My Girl" by Canadian rock band Chilliwack. If you've ever listened to a Canadian radio station at any point in your life, you've heard it; the full name of the song is "My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)", which should help too. Just to refresh you memory, though:


So yeah, that's the song we're talking about. Here we go!

Verse #1

Ever since she left me
I sure feel all alone
Aw, she left him. And he's bummed. Let's see what happens!

A little misunderstanding
I can't get her on the telephone
These days, with cell phones and voicemail and texting and whatnot, you can pretty much always get anyone. This song came out in 1981, though, so we're talking totally different times. (I believe people used Telex as their main form of communication.)

Hanging out down on Main Street
Living in a different world
We're probably talking about a small town, if it has a Main Street... then again, Toronto has a Main Street, so I guess we could be anywhere. My guess is Chilliwack, BC — for the obvious reason.

Standing around with the gang on the corner
Talking about my girl
This is where the song starts to fall apart for me. Who stands around with a gang on a corner — are we talking about 1950s "street toughs" here, clad in leather jackets? And who stands around with their buddies talking about the girl that dumped them on a street corner? You'd probably want to do that in a bar while drinking heavily, if you do it at all. Besides, guys don't talk at length about women who dump them; the most you'll get is, "So, that bitch Karen left. What a whore. I think she stole a loaf of bread from my kitchen on her way out, too."

Chorus

My girl, she was the world to me
She's gone, away across the street
Wait, hold on. Across the street?! She's across one street and you're writing a lovesick song already? What's that, thirty feet, tops? Wow, this guy'll get worked up over anything. (For years I thought the phrase was "across the sea," which makes a hell of a lot better justification for a lyrically-sad song like this.)

My girl is just a memory
She's been so long away
SHE'S ACROSS THE STREET. Wait until the little orange hand turns into the little white walking dude, and CROSS THE STREET. It's not hard.

Verse #2

She didn't have to leave me
She didn't have to run
Maybe she does marathons.

She didn't have to go
Without a word to anyone
Maybe she's a mute.

I hope she's doing alright
I got no way to know
We do have Facebook these days for this sort of thing, unless that bitch Karen de-friends you too.

Unless she gets to hear this song
Hear it on the radio
...or in a podcast, or through streaming audio, or downloaded through a torrent, or on YouTube.

Chorus again; Verse 3

I hope she gets the message
Got to get her back, you know
I do now, pal.

Gonna track her down, I'll find that girl
Gonna tell her that I love her so
Careful, there's a fine line between "romantic pursuit" and "stalking." Trust me, this is rather difficult to explain to a judge.

Put the word on the grapevine
Spread it all around the world
"Twitter is the 'grapevine' of the 21st century. Discuss." (N.B. I still don't "get" Twitter.)

Sooner or later I know I'm gonna get her
I'm talking about my girl
I don't know, man. Karen meets a lot of guys. The guys on the corner I was standing around with told me she was hitting on Rodriguo the other day down at the mini-putt. Might want to check that out.

...and, thankfully, we're done. Here is what could very well be the worst cover of any song, anytime in human history; fortunately it's satirical (and hilarious), but... well, just listen and watch.


Oh my god I love Eugene Levy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hello from Florida.

Early on Monday morning — we're talking 5:30 here — I was crossing the parking lot at the hotel on the outskirts of Flint, Michigan that I stayed in, before flying out to Florida, wondering what the hell I was doing going all that way when I clearly didn't need a jacket even in the north.

And from all reports, it appears as if things have become even warmer in Ontario in the days since then; the current 7-day forecast from Environment Canada has no days under 14°C for the forseeable future. Which is weird.

What isn't weird, though, is being down in central Florida this time of year and have temperatures scraping the upper-20s. Which they are.

This year I juggled my flights such that I arrived on Monday morning, and am leaving Thursday night (that's tomorrow). Four fairly-full days, with three nights... I'm not sure, but this could be my shortest Florida trip yet. It honestly feels like I just got here, and could use another couple of days soaking it all in.

Yesterday I drove out to the Gulf coast (and south a bit) and hung out with a co-worker; she brought her daughter and her daughter's friend, I imagine to keep them out of trouble back in Toronto. We hung out on the beach and went for a nice dinner afterward, wherein I had a very turquoise drink. It was lovely.

Monday and today were spent at the ballpark, nerding-out on baseball. Both the games (a.) were against the Mets, (b.) were in Lakeland, and (c.) went to an extra inning, the first one ending in a tie and the second ending in a Tiger victory. (They don't go past the 10th; it doesn't really matter if they win or lose, so long as they look at their potential players, especially the pitchers.) Tomorrow's game is against the Orioles, again in Lakeland; Justin Verlander (swoon!) is starting for the Good Guys.

Oh, and today I met Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. Wheee! Nice fellow.

Hot Lakeland restaurant tip: Red Door Wine Market. The restaurant itself is tiny; the largest dining area (and the only part with proper tables, as far as I could see) was out on a lawn. Two different stouts on tap; both were delicious. And former-blogger ECB would've been solidly impressed with two separate walls of wine bottles. It's an extremely easy place to miss, because it doesn't look like a restaurant at all... but, just look for the red door at Tennessee and McDonald.

So, tomorrow it's back to reality. I'm not looking forward to driving an hour and half across an exceedingly boring part of the world starting at about midnight tomorrow night (after I land in Michigan; going to my parents' place for the night), but I guess that's what I do for March baseball.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Enjoy the warm weather, GTA.

Don't be me wrong, this is pretty great for Toronto in mid-March:


I, however, will be in central Florida:


It'll be tough, but I'll find a way through it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Here are five albums I'm digging right now.

In no particular order...

Dire Straits — Communiqué (1979)
Their second album sounds a lot like their first, which is just fine by me. It's laid back but finds nice grooves. A couple of the songs drag a little, but then they pick right back up and you're moving again.
Current pick: "Single-Handed Sailor"

Steve Winwood — Steve Winwood (1977)
Yes, some of the keyboards sound pretty dated... but if you can get past that, this is really quite a solid album. This was before Arc of a Diver, and definitely before his '80s schlock-pop days... thankfully.
Current pick: "Midland Maniac" (a live version, but a decent guitarist, I think)

Blitzen Trapper — Destroyer of the Void (2010)
See? I like new music too... but for the Trappers, this one hits me a little more squarely than their current LP, American Goldwing (but that's a solid album too). A little twang, a lotta guitars, and copious fun.
Current pick: "Sadie" (a live-in-the-studio version which sticks fairly close to the original)

Kula Shaker — Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts (1999)
They only really had one hit single in North America, "Tattva", from their debut album, K. The Indian stuff gets a little kitschy at times, but you can't deny this is a pretty solid record.
Current pick: "Great Hosannah"

The Bees — Sunshine Hit Me (2002)
Every album they release is different in its own way (like Sloan). What keeps drawing me back to this one is its simplicity and earthiness; after all, it was recorded in a shed, mostly by two guys.
Current pick: "Sunshine", but that's not streamable anywhere, so we'll go with "Lying In The Snow"

So, there we go. A little sampling of the musical part of the mind of J, in early March, 2012. Enjoy! (Or not.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reason #83 not to have kids.

Or, heck, this might be reason #94 to have kids. I'm not sure.

A colleague of mine was regaling us with a tale of her 3-year-old son, L. He's quite the character, and stories about his antics remind me of stories my mom used to tell about my cousin when he was a kid.

L and one of the neighbour kids were playing in the basement, when the neighbour kid came upstairs crying.

My colleague:
Aw, what's wrong? Did something happen?

Kid:
L hit me in the eye with his penis!

...yeah, me laughing my balls off just re-typing that has definitely tipped the scales towards the "this is one of the reasons to have kids" side of the ledger.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Look, I wish I had more to tell you.

Stuff's good, man.

Kiddies are nice, co-workers are (mostly) great, booze occasionally flows.

Oh, I did buy a new ottoman. Great for propping up feet whilst reading in an ugly, yet comfy, pink chair in the corner of my living room. (It's one of the last parental furniture hand-me-downs I own, but despite its garishness, I don't think I'll be getting rid of it anytime soon.)

March Break plans for Florida are pretty much set: flights booked, hotel room reserved, car rented — seriously, Expedia kicked everyone else's ass when it came to rates — and baseball tickets purchased. It's all over but the sunshine and the relaxation and the drinking now. Oh, and a colleague of mine will be in the same general area of Florida at the same time, so I'm going to take my only non-game day down there and slip over for a visit. That'll be fun.

The summertime baseball tour, Midwest '12, is in the planning stages. I hope to see major-league games in Pittsburgh, possibly Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City, then looping back up and hitting up the annual Bless You Boys game in Detroit on August 4. I'll try to jam some minor-league games in, too... should be good times. Maybe along the way I'll make like Clark Griswold and stop off at the second-largest ball of twine in the US along the way.

If you like organization like I do, pdfcalendar.com totally kicks ass. I print monthly calendars out all the time for work and use them to organize my classes and such. Very, very handy.


Oh, I guess there is a bit of political news — the whole Conservative robo-call thing, which I guess in Canada counts as a scandal. Basically, "someone" called up voters in a bunch of close ridings just before the last federal election, giving people false information about where to vote, perhaps making it so that they couldn't cast their vote. It'd be interesting to see who got called; if the people that got picked had preferentially identified themselves to Liberal/NDP canvassers as supporters, that's a pretty clear sign the Cons were behind it. Personally, I wouldn't put it past Harper & Co. to try these sorts of dirty tricks.

That's about it, folks. If something comes up, I'll let you know.

Promise.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Different students make my job much, much different.

(For reference, IB means International Baccalaureate, a program we have at our school for particularly motivated kids.)

To recap...

Semester 1

2 × Grade 9 Applied Science: lots of indifference, mild insanity, kids possibly raised by wolves
1 × Grade 12 Earth & Space Science: fun enough, somewhat intellectually stimulating early on

Typical classroom goings-on (i.e., with the Grade 9s):
  • near-constant texting being done by at least one person in the room
  • kids often late for class, and/or absent for no reason
  • pen? pencil? Who brings those to class?! It's ok, someone'll give me one, and if nobody will, whatever, I just won't do any work
  • homework isn't going to get done; might as well not bother assigning any
  • "So, I'm getting over 50 percent, right? I'm cool with that."
Overall conclusion one could gain from teaching these kids:
We're probably not doomed as a species, but it might be a bit touch-and-go at times.

Semester 2

1 × Grade 10 Academic Science (IB Preparation): nerds in training
1 × Grade 11 IB Physics: not entirely nerds, but wow, they're a disciplined bunch
1 × Grade 12 Physics: like to have a little fun, but like to get down to work even more

Typical classroom goings-on (all classes):
  • routinely discussing the kids' plans for university
  • if you give them a handout, it never ends up on the floor/in a sink/ripped up/in someone else's binder/covered in pop/covered in a mysterious substance/crumpled up in a desk
  • if they're away a day, it's usually for something legit
  • if they're away a day, they always ask the next day what they missed, and/or they've already got yesterday's notes/handouts/whatever from someone who was there
Overall conclusion one could gain from teaching these kids:
We're in good hands.

* * * * * * *

Today we had a PD day. Now, if you've never been a teacher, your first instinct will probably be to think, "Whoa, lucky! You had the day off!" But, while the kids get a day off, we sure as hell don't. PD stands for Professional Development, and most of it is unbelievably lame... with the exception of PD done by current classroom teachers for current classroom teachers.

You get some bozo in from a Faculty of Education, or from some company or something, or even from up in the Board offices somewhere, they don't have a good god damn clue what the fuck goes on in classrooms. They may never have been a teacher — or, it's been decades since they've been one, so they may as well have never been one in the first place. But today's workshops were, for the most part, pretty useful because they were put on for us, by us.

Two out of the three sessions I went to today were thought-provoking, useful, and a little bit education-nerdy. (The third was really not my cup of tea, but somewhat interesting regardless; one of the presenters drove me crazy by inserting the word "actually" into every sentence he spoke, sometimes two or three times.) Hell, it's Friday night — prime-time for picking up prostitutes down on Jarvis, believe me — and I've spent an hour so far reading up on inquiry-based learning in physics classrooms.

* * * * * * *

There's a larger point here, and it ties together both of the items above.

Last semester, I was focused on managing all the bad stuff the kids were doing, and it wore me out; in addition, I was counting down the days to the end of the semester and looking forward to it as a break. Now, I'm all energized and excited and thinking about all the great stuff I can do with my classes, trying out new things — and, because my kids are mostly energized about school (or, at the very least, they fake it pretty well), I know they'll buy into it. I'm counting down, but mostly because I want these kids to stick around a little longer.

Now, this is me we're talking about, but I'm a very small cog in a very big machine. Ultimately, it's the kids who walk away with either a good or a bad experience — whether they learned some science or not, whether they enjoyed themselves or not, whether they were interested or bored — and, frankly, I get paid either way, so if I'm emotionally drained at the end of the week and want to booze myself into a fog on Saturday night, well, that's pretty much only my problem.

To use a sports analogy: you gotta leave it all out on the field. Especially for the non-academic kids. Those are the ones who take all the time, take all the effort, and end up driving you crazy... but, and here's the point, they're the ones for whom you can make the biggest difference. So you suck it up, spend your sanity, and hope you made an impact. (Hell, I overheard one of my students from last semester — probably the one who drove me the third-craziest, and that's saying something — say to another kid, "Aw, that's Mr. L, he's greezy, yo." If you'll recall your South Scarberian, that is a compliment, so at least I did alright with him.)

Anyway, I'm rambling, and the whores downtown are waiting. I just hope Clitoria is still there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I think I'm starting to understand why I hate Valentine's Day.

It's not that I'm misanthropic; I genuinely like people.

It's not that I'm always single on February 14 (34 times and counting).

It goes deeper than that.

It all started when I was in about Grade 1. We had to do the standard "fill in a Valentine's Day card for every kid in the class, regardless of what you think of them, and go around the classroom putting a card in the paper bag taped to every kid's desk" exercise. I think everyone did. But, as a moderately introspective 6-year-old, I knew I didn't like it.

There were some people that I genuinely didn't care for — they weren't necessarily my enemy, but they also weren't my friend. And yet, I was still forced to put a card in everyone's paper bag. It was all so... institutionalized.

Fast-forward to high school, when girls mattered: this, I believe, is where the true bitterness began. It's not like there was a lot of drama in a school of 400 kids; hell, we weren't even big enough to have honest-to-goodness cliques, because everyone pretty much knew everyone else. But, it was pretty clear to me that there weren't too many girls swooning over thoughts of the J-man. Fine, whatever.

Bitterness is a funny thing, though. It builds. And whether or not it's a fast or a slow burn, year by year it accumulates.

As a so-called adult, I'm bombarded with messages about romance from every damn angle. Laura Di Battista on the fucking CBC drive-home show couldn't shut up about it. You turn on the TV, it's there too, screaming at you on the evening news. The majority of the people I know on Facebook who posted something about it put up something neutral or slightly negative; I went full-on negative, natch, but there were some that put up pictures of the flowers their man sent them, or how their significant other is the bestbestbest, or some other claptrap.

Ah... I dunno, man. Maybe I'm just mad about always being single. During those rare stretches where I'm successfully partnered-up, things like this seem a little more tolerable. I'm romantic in my own way, so I'm told — so it's not like I'm a total heartless dick.

Frankly, I'd prefer to just live my life without being reminded about shit like this.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Look, world, I GET IT.

I know that IT'S GOD DAMN VALENTINE'S DAY soon.

Jesus FUCK.

So I'm flipping aimlessly around the dial tonight, and come across the fun, MXC-like show Wipeout. It's ridiculous and fun, obviously. But I was wondering why everything had a romance-ish kind of a theme.

Because I'm an idiot, it took me a good five minutes before I clued-in to why this was. And then, duh, I realized that they taped it whenever, but made everything look like winter (e.g. fake snow) and dolled it all up with hearts and such because they knew they'd air it now.

"It's better to be single on Valentine's Day," everyone says. Y'know what, though? That's just straight up bullshit.

Actually, let me clarify.

If you're single and saying this, you're delusional.
If you're coupled and saying this, you're patronizing.

Hard to say which is worse, really.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baseball's changed a little.

There's a guy on YouTube who puts whole vintage baseball games up. I'm not sure how he gets past the 10-minute limit, but he does. Also, I don't want to link directly to it, lest someone do a blind web search, find the link, alert Major League Baseball and have it shut down.

I'm currently finishing up a 1984 Cardinals-Cubs game, also known as "The Sandberg Game" for what the future Hall of Famer would do in the late and extra innings. (If you want to see it yourself, search 1984 cardinals cubs on the aforementioned video sharing site. You'll find it. You're welcome.) Things have changed a bit since then. Here's what jumped out at me.
  • Players back then were mostly regular-sized dudes. Hell, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee look like little shrimps.
  • There was less time between pitches, for sure.
  • Closers were used much differently. The Cardinals' Bruce Sutter started the top of the 8th, batted for himself in the bottom of the 8th, and pitched the 9th. And the 10th.
  • Tommy Herr had glorious hair.
  • Darrell Porter didn't wear a helmet under his old-style catcher's mask. Just a cap turned backwards.
  • Not having constant on-screen graphics telling you the count, inning, pitch speed, your horoscope, the phase of the moon... y'know, whatever. Leave it off. Follow the damn game, jerks. Don't rely on the stupid graphics.
  • Holy shit the Cardinals ran all the time. Any of the reasonably fast Cardinals get on first, they're going. No questions asked. McGee, Andy Van Slyke, Ozzie, Lonnie Smith — bingo. Gone.
  • Holy shit Ozzie made fantastic plays. Range like crazy, accurate arm, threw on the fly.
  • Bob Costas, who was doing play-by-play, opined that on-base percentage was the most underrated statistic in the game. Maybe Billy Beane taped this game, watched it later, and developed Moneyball based on it.
  • Lots of guys used one or zero batting gloves. The way it should be.
  • There were a lot of Hall of Famers in this game: by my count there was Sandberg, Sutter and Ozzie Smith; Lee Smith, perpetually on the fringe, made it in there too (and picked up the win).
  • Sandberg really did have a hell of a game: 5-for-6, 2 HR, 7 RBI. Apparently in this game he became the only person ever to hit two home runs off Sutter in the same game.
  • Nobody uses Game-Winning RBI anymore, but I remember baseball cards pushing it in the '80s; they did on this broadcast too.
  • The Cardinals' powder-blue away uniforms were truly god-awful.
  • High stirrups should definitely come back.
  • Managers and players from the dugouts really screamed at the home-plate ump to disagree with ball-and-strike calls. These days, anyone says more than a peep, they get the ol' thumb.
  • It was great to hear Costas and colour-man Tony Kubek talk glowingly of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, both as 1-2 hitters and as a double-play combination. They should both be in the damn Hall already.
This was actually a really, really entertaining game to watch. If you've got three hours to spare, give it a whirl.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Major League.

It's becoming a yearly ritual.

Right around this time of the winter — if you can call this season winter, that is, with all the rain and above-freezing-ness going around — I get a little antsy. The Christmas season and its assorted festivities are over, spring is still a ways away, and Spring Training hasn't started yet.

What better time to throw Major League into the good old-fashioned Blu-Ray player and give it a whirl, then?

Some of the minor details are a bit off:
  • the stadium supposed to be in Cleveland was actually in Milwaukee
  • there's no way Spring Training starts on March 1
  • Lou Brown wouldn't be managing a single minor-league team for 30 years
  • I'm pretty sure Miss Fuel Injection would have a better body than Rene Russo... but it'd be close
  • if you tail a woman home from work and awkwardly walk into a dinner party hosted by her fiancé who hates you, you're probably just going to get the cops called on you*
  • major league baseball teams don't force their players to sleep in bunk-bed dorms
...and so on. But if you suspend a little bit of disbelief, it's a hell of a movie with a shit-ton of quotable moments.

The only quibble I have with it is the inclusion of the romantic subplot. Alright, Jake, we get it — you had the hots for a woman once, but you were a dick and she left and you "couldn't cut it in the Mexican League." But, yet again, a looooooooove story threatens to douse an otherwise hilarious movie with a bucket of piss-warm water. WHO CARES?! SHOW ME MORE OF PEDRO CERRANO WHIFFING ON CURVEBALLS! No wonder Kurt Vonnegut rarely put romance into his works of fiction.

At any rate, it's a great movie and you should watch it. Go Tigers!
_________________________________
* You're really going to want to take my word on this.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A lesson in South Scarberian, and a baseball signing.

1. A Lesson in South Scarberian

Today we continue our series studying the dialect of the English language spoken in southern Scarborough.

beef ting (bēf tiŋ) cf. "beef thing"
an ongoing issue arising from a past injustice, or "beef"
e.g. "Alice doesn't speak to Bob anymore. It's a beef ting."
e.g. (vernacular) "Alice don wan talk to Bob no more, 's a beef ting, yo."

Since my time with a lot of native South Scarberian-speakers is coming to an end — first semester ended today — these lessons may become somewhat more infrequent in the forseeable future.

2. A Baseball Signing

In case you've been under a rock for the past 24 hours, the Tigers signed this guy:


That's Prince Fielder. He's a very good hitter. He's pictured here sometime in the past few years, playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. Below is his dad in the 1990s:


And, why yes, astute reader, that's a Detroit Tigers uniform on Cecil.

The wrinkle, of course, is that Prince doesn't really talk to Cecil anymore. See, Cecil went and blew a lot of money on gambling and bad investments when his career was over, divorced Prince's mom, and... well, Prince hasn't spoken to his dad much in the past decade-ish. Apparently relations are thawing somewhat, but there's still a long way to go.

It's a huge deal, too: 9 years, $214 million.

WOW.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Participatory satire.

I'm not sure if you've been following Stephen Colbert's political career lately, but it sure is interesting — and an amazing example of satire being put into action. Let me explain through a series of bullet-points.

The background:
  • election laws in the US got all fucked-up by a Supreme Court decision a couple of years ago
  • they essentially said that groups could raise unlimited funds to support a candidate
  • these groups are called "Super PACs" (Political Action Committees)
  • they can't "coordinate" with candidates in any way, but they can support candidates by doing things like running ads
Colbert steps in:
  • to lampoon the ludicrousness of this new law, Colbert forms a Super PAC of his own
  • informally it's called "Stephen Colbert Super PAC," but officially it's called "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow"
  • he went in front of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and basically said, "Let me raise a lot of money, and later figure out what I'm going to do with it"
  • they rubber-stamped his Super PAC's approval
  • a series of crazy campaign anti-ads aired in Iowa before their caucuses a few weeks ago, putting down various GOP candidates
Now things get interesting:
  • Colbert decides he wants to run in the South Carolina primary, which is this weekend
  • he has to hand over his Super PAC to someone, so he picks Jon Stewart
  • they rename the group to The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC
  • the Super PAC's lawyer used to be the chair of the FEC, so he knows the rules inside and out
  • Colbert and Stewart continually pull off crazy moves that seem like they should be illegal under campaign rules, but are actually perfectly legal
    e.g. Stewart hires all of Colbert's former Super PAC employees, Stewart tells Colbert what's going to be in the ads, the "new" Super PAC's lawyer is the same as the old one
The fun fine-print:
  • did I mention this lawyer, who is the DNCWSC Super PAC lawyer, is also Stephen Colbert's personal lawyer and longtime friend?
  • did I mention that Stewart and Colbert work for the same company and share business interests together?
  • did I mention that Stewart is one of the Colbert Report's executive producers?
  • did I mention that this is all legal under FEC rules?
Last night on the Daily Show, Colbert dropped by and chatted with — but did not coordinate with — Stewart, and they had their common lawyer on speakerphone the entire time they were goofing around. They told him to speak up if he heard anything illegal going on; they continually had to ask if he was still there or if he'd hung up, because even with Stewart telling Colbert what the Super PAC was going to do, right to his face, it wasn't illegal. At all.

This is absolutely brilliant satire. Actually, it goes beyond pure stand-on-the-sidelines-and-make-jokes satire: they're jumping right into the system and splashing around in it, precisely to show how ludicrous it is.

I'm reminded of the former Canadian political party, the Rhino Party, which actually fielded candidates in elections but had a formal set of policies that included ludicrous ideas. I'd wager to say that Colbert's dalliance is much more high-stakes, simply because of the huge amounts of money involved. (And, let's face it, Canada doesn't really matter that much in the grand scheme of things, but the US sure does.)

So, kudos to you, Dr. Colbert, and your Super PAC which you have absolutely nothing to do with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Profanity on TV.

There was a really interesting interview on the PBS Newshour tonight with a person — a lawyer by trade, I believe — who is following a case making its way up the court system in the US: essentially, a couple of broadcast TV networks are suing the FCC because they got slapped with fines after people said profanity on a couple of live shows a few years ago. Their angle is a curious one: they say that the FCC's rule about indecency on the air is so vague it harms their First Amendment rights to express themselves.

I couldn't help but think about a show I saw last night on the CBC, in prime time, which happened to include the words "shit" or "bullshit" about a dozen times in a half-hour show. The show had a disclaimer at the start and when coming back from commercial, and they did bleep out f-words and their various permutations, but... wow.

Loosen up, America, and let a little profanity slide. It's perfectly alright to put movie scenes of incredible violence on TV, but "shit" has to go? C'mon.

Friday, January 06, 2012

My latest crush.

Look, I know you must think I have a thing for women-of-colour, based on my past (admitted) quasi-celebrity crushes I've listed on here. If memory serves, here's what we've got so far, in chronological order of crushery:

1. Oga Nwobosi, Weather Network reporter

The original and, dare I say, best. How can you top your first Basic Cable Crush? She set the bar pretty high: as high as that high-pressure ridge building over Manitoba, or something like that. Anyway, on we go to...

2. Sarika Sehgal, CBC Newsworld anchor

One day I was flipping idly through the channels, and... there she was. I assume her background is something Indian, or at least in that neighbourhood. But really, does that matter? Besides, if it's 25-below and the wind is howling, we all look the same in snowpants.

3. Sook-Yin Lee, musician/MuchMusic VJ/actor/CBC Radio host

I never had MuchMusic until I went to uni, but boy-howdy did I discover S-Y fast. Nowadays she hosts Definitely Not The Opera, and I am Definitely Smitten. (Have been for years.) She's a Facebook-friend of mine, so I expect her to propose marriage to me any day now. I'll keep you posted.

Fast-forward to tonight. Naturally, because I'm on holidays, I'm reverting to my natural night-owl hours, and I'm able to watch Conan O'Brien's show at its normal time. (Because I'm cheap and don't get The Comedy Network anymore, I wait until 1:05am when it's on CTV for free.) The monologue was funny, Conan promised to eventually air the Nog Hog sketch he cut (details here), Johnny Galecki told stories about his brother not remembering how old he was... and then...

4. Mindy Kaling, actor/writer/producer on The Office

I admit, I don't watch The Office much. Hell, I like the UK version better, and I don't think I've caught more than a couple of minutes of the US version in the past five years. I must've seen her on there maybe once or twice, and thought she was alright, but her character's annoying (by design). But, in person, she's whip-smart, funny (including being openly self-deprecating; pretty rare for a chick), urbane, and just all kinds of sexy. Hell, that picture above doesn't even do her justice. I don't even care that Mindy Kaling isn't even her real name. Hell, I don't even care that she's uh-MURR-i-cunn. She is just eighteen thousand different kinds of alright, man.

There we go, then. I live in the world's most multicultural city, so it'd stand to reason that my quasi-celebrity crushes would sample different cultures. (And don't even get me started on the MP for Scarborough―Rouge River.)