new coffee shop

is there a type of person
whose only ecosystem
is a coffee shop
less than 3 months old?

do they migrate?
from one to the next

when time passes
do they feel like fish in the deepest pools
of an evaportating river
watching the horizon
for the clouds to gather and the rains to come?

if the new place hasn't opened
or been reviewed
the rains are late
or contractors are slow
do they die?


fire drill

One of those things that's been on my computer desktop too long that the internet gives a home to. I never could figure out the punctuation in this thing, and the experimentation with tense is...something. May you live in digital perpetuity short story.


A fire drill begins when the siren hidden at the top of the tall wooden tower by the river starts to howl. Worried about surprise attacks the village council runs drills at least twice a year and long ago installed a siren that no one could ignore; before its sound even reaches your ears you feel a pinch to your spine, right at the bottom, then something cold raking through your lungs. It’s like the village trapped an ancient demon - with who knows what black magic - chained it in the tower, and whenever there is cause for alarm someone stabs at it with a hot iron to make it scream. Whether you’re sweeping, talking to the butcher or lying in bed alone in the darkest part of the night, when you hear the siren they say it’s your civic duty to run to the river and safety. No second thoughts.
     My first memory of the siren, or anything, is from when I was three. I am in the village nursery stacking wooden blocks that are painted different colours. I have them stacked in an impressively tall eight-block tower but when the siren hits I knock them over in my attempt to run away. Then I’m off the ground, held tightly and struggling against adult arms, desperate to escape the swarm I feel but can’t see around me.
Everyone runs when they hear the siren, but a child’s uneducated response is to run away from the noise and the river, into the fields that surround the village. I learned quickly though and soon knew where to run, I knew that the river and full submersion promised safety. Another memory, this time I’m six years old, everything is harried and loud but the drill feels less chaotic because I know what is expected of me. I hide my fear and churning stomach, trying to match the somber faces that surround me, as all the village children run for the water.
     I’m nineteen now and still feel a bit sick when the siren starts, but I know that when I run I feel better. It’s gotten so I don’t even think anymore, my muscles twitch, adrenaline hits and I’m flying. Full out running is the best. Sometimes when I’m pushing myself hard my head and body don’t even feel like they’re moving. It’s as if they’re floating above the street surrounded by a churning blur of arms and legs. I don’t look down but like to imagine my feet - invisible because of the speed - exerting a huge force for the instant they actually touch the ground. They tug at the earth’s surface, causing it to bunch and wrinkle far away, at the tasseled edge of the pan-global rug. There’s no strategy to it, or pacing, just run as fast as you can. And if you run so fast that breathing gets ragged, steps heavy and grey dots are swirling in your eyes by the time you reach the river, that’s a good thing. I like that feeling, knowing I really ran and didn’t pace myself. The oblivion of top speed is bliss.
     The first time I saw grey dots I was eleven and with my best friend Theodore on a lumpy field outside of the village. Rocky and full of scrubby plants, no one has tilled it in years. I remember walking into the beige late-afternoon landscape looking for lizards. Everything feels dead, or is just waiting in stasis for the start of the winter rains. Behind a far-off hill I see a flash of orange, then the siren’s call distracts me and I run. But something else is there, chasing me; I can feel it screaming above the siren. I’m moving very fast, winging through the village, past my home, the temple and the market, and now dancing dots are in my eyes. They congeal into a ring around my vision and march inward. I can see the river but it’s grey, my world is grey, then black. In the darkness I am somewhere else, I think. On the edge of a great gaping maw that is slowly and secretly swallowing the world. I want to run and yell, warn my family and friends, but slip instead and fall into the black. In the real world I hit water and the terrifying mouth is replaced by wet shock and cold. Teddy hadn’t kept up but from behind saw me catch my toe on something a few meters out from the river. He said I stumbled and lunged, he thought I would fall for sure, but I somehow kept my feet beneath me until the water cut into my shins. It was January and the riverhead is in the mountains to the north so the water was very cold.
Usually when you run to the river you’re aiming to get in at the bowl, a natural bend beside the siren tower that’s been worked over the centuries - widened and deepened - to provide safe haven for the whole community. There’s a pier and a shallow area for wading, but during a drill people are only concerned with sliding in up to their necks. I spent a lot of time in the bowl when I was young, talking with my family, wetting my hair, shivering and looking skyward with everyone else. When that got boring I’d inspect my pruned hands or watch my clothes float around my submerged body then cling tightly when I stood or lifted an arm. If you stand out of the water before the all clear sounds you get yelled at.
If you’re away from the bowl, or just don’t want to be around people, there are other places to get wet of course. I call my favourite spot the lagoon. A steep bank and brambles hide its landward edge and a false shore with piles of muck and sharp-edged bulrushes do the same from the river, so unless you know where to look you won’t find it. It’s private, quiet and, if the time ever comes, I hope deep enough.
Three years ago in August I was near the lagoon when an alarm sounded. August is normally hot but that year the air felt heavier, weighing on the whole village, turning everyone and the milk sour. I left a village meeting that day where people with the sweat for it were arguing about some new edict. It was boring and I was hot so bought myself an icy treat from an old man named Piotr. He makes them in his cellar using ice he harvests from the mountains in winter then stores. When the siren sounded I was close to the lagoon so ran there and even managed to get my frozen snack through the mud sort of clean. No one had ever been in the lagoon with me before and, distracted by my melting treat, I didn’t notice Katia. She startled me when she asked for a taste, then sat waiting quietly on a moss-covered rock near the shore while I swam to her.
Katia was two years older than me and as much a stranger as is possible in our village. I knew her parents had died when she was very young, no one ever said how, and that she was quickly becoming one of the village’s best weavers. That afternoon we talked a long time, our conversation filled with pauses that sat on the water until they dissolved or sank. I swam some while Katia stayed on her rock. She didn’t like getting wet and explained that she came into the lagoon via a bramble-arched tunnel she’d found. Later when we heard the all-clear I squeezed onto the rock beside her to better hear what she was asking. “Does the siren scare you? It’s meant to mean safety but whenever it starts I just want to cry. Lie down wherever I am, curl into a ball and cry until I burn. Or whatever.” She laughed then, long and gentle. The laughter arrived slowly, floated then drowned. It sounded like crying. “Just drills,” she laughed. “Always drills.” I nodded and told her how the siren brought me close to puking sometimes, then explained how running so fast my brain slowed and my vision blurred always set me right. I suggested she try swimming.
The lagoon was still around us and she leaned into me. I put my wet arm around her. Katia looked at me, then out past our bulrush cordon to the distant mountains and through them. I was going to ask her what she saw beyond the edges of the world, but the sun moved and she kissed me while the day’s shadows were repainted across the water and our floating clothes. When it was dark we crawled through the bramble tunnel and went to our homes. Katia left the village soon after, apparently - despite rumours of banishment - with the council’s blessing, and I never saw her again.
Last week when the siren sounded, I turned to the river and twisted my ankle. No high-speed, earth-tugging run for me. I didn’t feel sick as I hobbled my way to the bowl though, safe and not aflame. Once there I spent more time underwater than normal, enjoying a different view of the world. I watched the sky dance and shimmer, warped by ripples, and bubbled laughter when my four-year-old cousin appeared above me waggling his tongue, only to be scolded by his mother for standing up. “Up to your neck!”
That day reminded me of something from when I was very young, from before the incident with the blocks. Was I less than one? Is a memory even possible at that age? It’s all a bit muddled. I am floating in the bowl then suddenly held underwater by strong arms. I am still looking up when an enormous green shadow darkens everything. Noise and commotion, but it is muffled and distant. Then the shadow is gone, torn apart by a violent slash of red-orange flame screaming across the water. It burns the world. And that’s it, my only experience with a dragon in real life. But like I said the memory is hazy and, I realized recently, similar to a picture book I read a lot when I was younger. Maybe I’ve never actually seen a dragon.


March 2010

Empties to Beer Store.
Bike (not walk) to Honest Ed's
Kensington shopping
Dave also in the area.
Coffee (too full)
Park (too full)
See friends
Sit in Park
Friends also planning to sit in park.
Lady points out white squirrel.
Carriage break down.
Successful repair.
Part ways
Feel good about life and with a story to tell.


Tony Ho - Dissection

I had surgery a week ago tomorrow. To celebrate, let's watch a video about cutting bodies that I helped produce.


Evil in the Woodlands

I think I wrote a first draft of this in high school...maybe. It was published in the university newspaper in my first or second year. I am VERY political, but I couldn't tell you what about.


If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Does it really matter if it makes a sound? Does anyone care? After all, it's only a tree, a tree that produces oxygen for us to breathe, a tree that gives us shade from the fiery heat of the sun, even cools the air. Are there not other trees to do these things? Wasn't nature just taking its course and removing an old tree? Yes, of course it was, but what if a man had cut the tree down, cut it down to use for lumber after it had supplied its share of oxygen and shade for many years? Isn't he just continuing its use for the better? Not according to some, the kinds of people who would rather lie in the middle of the road, risking life and limb, than let a lumberjack continue a tree's usefulness.

So a tree falls naturally and no one cares. Except for the squirrel who has just lost a sleeping place, and also happened to be sitting under the tree at the time of the accident. He'd care, but only for a second, for the brief moment before life was forced from him as a whoosh of air, and a tangled mass of limbs fell around and on top of him. CRUNCH! Would anyone hear that sound, a sound far smaller than the possible din of the tree?

That's a good point. If a squirrel gets crushed in the forest will it make a sound? Will anyone notice? Will anyone really care? A squirrel's just a squirrel, nothing important like a tree, a tree that has just committed murder by crushing the squirrel. Yes, full-blown, cold-blooded murder of the very creature whose ancestors could have carried the seed to plant the tree. This tree has killed, and yet people flock to save the remaining forest. What's to stop those trees from killing other innocent squirrels? Nothing, that's what. And yet people don't understand; they don't see the maliciousness of trees as they seek to destroy squirrels and other woodland creatures. The good lumberjacks try to put the trees towards a useful purpose before they have a chance to kill, but too often their paths are blocked by dazed tree-huggers.

So, if a tree falls in the forest, and it hits a fanatical, tree-hugging, lunatic will it make a sound? Probably. Will the other wild-eyed and obviously confused environmentalists hear it and realize the trees have turned on them? Probably not. Will they see their misguided ways and change before it's too late, or will they ignore their comrade's end and continue to save this enemy of squirrel and man alike? Who knows? Only time, will tell.

Now about baby seals...


atlas collection

"Let me have a look at your car." What does this man want to see my car for.
"I don't have a car."
"How about your office, would that be all right?"
My office? I don't have an office. There is a desk in my bedroom.
"I don't have an office"
"Where do you work then?"
"Well there's a desk in my bedroom."
"Okay, we can start with that."
"I'd rather, oh! It's a bit messy with paper and things all over. And the walls, I haven't hung everything yet. You're going up the stairs. I don't really want you to, oh shit."
The man mounts the stairs to the attic bedroom, rounds the corner at the top and stops. Atlases. They are wedged around the room, against the wall behind the furniture and amongst other atlases, the ceiling and the floor. The earth pressed flat and repeated into an over-literal meditation on parallel worlds."Planning a trip?"
James catches up, too out of breath for the number of stairs he just climbed. "No, just atlases."
"But why so many?"
James manoeuvres into the room, past the man, until he stands between him and the books. With the worlds at his back he stands tensed and ready and forgets to breathe until his face glows red. "No reason. There was a sale at the Salvation Army. You don't need a reason to buy atlases."
"And if you had to move, would you get rid of some?"
James looks behind him and considers the atlases, his desk and unmade bed, just a mattress on a boxspring on the floor, and the pieces of paper on everything. He turns to answer, but the man is gone. On the wall near where he was standing James notices a photograph of a cow he took while in France. He couldn't remember hanging it.


spring coffee

I'm cleaning out the folder I created while taking a creative writing class a few years ago. This story is probably the most bummer one I've found so far.


Cratered by disbelieving feet, the slush lay across and around the ice rink, amazing what a difference a few degrees make. Only the day before, in golden winter light, blades had slashed across the rink’s solid surface, hard and fast in the cold, sounding clean, people’s breath clouding their faces for an instant before disappearing. Today though, all the breath had reappeared as numbing mist, flattening the day's light and sound. Heavier drizzle, not quite rain, falling through the grey air adding static, like somewhere someone had left a very large set of headphones slightly unplugged.

One of the local cool kids, John or DJ SoundSauce depending on context, slunk past the rink. His feet were soaked, his shoes, salt-stained and deformed by the season, were of no use as every step brought a puddle. He pulled himself deeper into his pressed wool pea coat but damp air knows secret passages through a jacket and he shivered as he squelched on. John held fire in his hands, but only enough to singe his lungs without warmth and add fresh smoke to his acrid jacket. All night spent in dank underground windowless clubs, cinder block walls holding out smoking laws, where people danced in the face of sleep as John spun and spun through an unknown dawn’s sad light, his being stank and his skin held the grey translucence of the world around him.

The damp air made hard things unreal. A car burst past without warning. Blasting its horn. Splashing through a puddle its red metal a sudden scarring contrast to the day. Cursing the driver, John stood bedraggled and dripping in front of the coffee shop, 9 am and it was closed. According to a note on the door it had never opened that morning due to a family emergency. Sorry, in the red ink of a Sharpie alongside a bright smiley face. John felt mocked by the grin as he shivered on the sidewalk considering sleep, Adderall and whether delirium tremens was only an alcohol thing or if caffeine was incriminated in some way. Looking down, someone had found coffee that morning. An empty white paper cup tossed away and floating in the dirty morass, a thin brown stain at the bottom holding none of the flavour and aroma John craved.


balls in tubes

The children were taken into a grey room and told to sit at a round, grey table. The table was low and had small, child-sized chairs around it. From the table's centre rose a clear plastic cylinder, inaccessible and full of colourful balls: reds, greens, oranges, blues and yellows. It was so tall that even if a child had climbed onto the table and stretched out on tippy-toe they wouldn't have reached the top. One by one the children's mothers were taken out of the room by doctors, and without paper or crayons the children were left to their thoughts about plastic balls, life, death and the inevitable collapse of empires.


Tanya Tagaq and the Polaris Prize

A woman growled at me last night
gnashed and stomped and thrashed
and left my skin buzzing
all my hair alive
my heart in my throat
and when she was done I cried.

I don't know why or what for
but I felt it building while she sang
and secretly craved the release.

If I felt like lying to sound noble, I would say it was the names that did it.
Of the missing and murdered
aboriginal women
that streamed
behind her.
But I don't.

There isn't
a reason,
a thing,
my brain can attach to
to analyze.

I just cried
because of art and beauty
and a human embodying herself
and knowing where she's from
knowing knowledge of a different kind
and being fully realized

growl the fuck on.


Depending on how you want to divide a life, most of my childhood was spent in a big brick farmhouse outside Keady, Ontario; a 30 minute drive from Owen Sound. We had a barn and 200 acres and three ponds. The house also had a single story addition off one side. Maybe built as a granny flat or for the itinerant farm labour of an older era, we used it for laundry, an extra washroom and a spare bedroom.

I spent a lot of time in that bedroom, because it's where the computer was and the computer was my therapist. Not that I knew it at the time. At the time I would walk through the enclosed but unheated cement porch that connected the flat to the house, get what warmth I could from the electric baseboard heaters and boot up Minesweeper, a game where you use numbers as clues to flag hidden mines and avoid detonation. I would lose hours trying to beat previous best times at beginner and intermediate, or just try to finish at all on the expert setting.

It wasn't a real challenge though, best times were about lucky first clicks and a well set-up random board. Instead it was just about being soothed by mindless repetition. Click click click. The game was so in the moment and instantaneous that I didn't need to think about anything else. I had a goal and I had to stay focused or I would never find the 10 mines on the beginner setting in under 8 seconds. That my dad and brother moved to BC didn't matter. That the family's plan to follow was cancelled because my parents were divorcing didn't matter. That we were selling the farm and some of us were moving into Owen Sound didn't matter. That we had to give away Tara, the family dog, because city life would be absolute shit for one of the best groundhog hunters in the world didn't matter. No sadness, just focused clicking.

My feet and hands got cold in that room. I used to think I had poor circulation, and maybe I do, but I was also just sitting in a cold room away from my family at the far end of my house, only moving one finger for hours on end.

The computer wasn't just about Minesweeper, though. There were moments in my childhood when I felt our family was at the cutting edge of technology, like when we got a new computer featuring a CD ROM drive. I was 11 or thereabouts and I remember being asked out of science class at school by the librarian once to help fix one of the school's new computers. Just having a CD ROM at home imbued me with preternatural knowledge about futuretech that the adult desperately needed. I was unable to help.

Of course if you have a drive, you need some discs and amongst the two or three we had there was Encarta, Microsoft's attempt to capture the world's knowledge in one digitized encyclopaedia. When you put Encarta in the drive and closed the tray it would buzz to life and its opening screen would appear, a collage of famous images and people laid together, their borders fuzzed and melded. A few moments later an audio montage would begin, tinny and thin from the computer's speakers. I have a dream would melt into Beethoven and some drums before Inuit throat singing bled out from the ether.

I knew what it was and I knew I didn't like it. The singing scared the shit out of me and made the cold porch between me and my home yawn longer, darker and colder. Two women from far away in space and time in a sweaty fire-lit place faced one another and made these noises while an endless night full of endless white and endless dark howled outside their igloo. A child's imagination mashed with snippets of The Twilight Zone, forced to confront humanity in a raw form, humans connecting with humans unmediated. I had removed myself to this bedroom so the messy stuff, the complex interplay between people that can't be planned out ahead of time, but only experienced and responded to in real time, couldn't force itself upon me.

Although, at the time, I didn't think all that. I just thought it was creepy.


I was in Montreal a few years ago, and, dating a gardener at the time, Montreal Botanical Garden was on the itinerary. Maybe it was because of all the plants, maybe it was because I was uncomfortable in the relationship and hadn't recognized it yet, but at some point during the day I smoked too much and became very tired. Lounging on the benches while my girlfriend pilfered tobacco seeds - shhh - eventually got to be too much on a sunny day so I needed to find some shade.

The First Nations Garden is one of many sub areas in the larger complex and it is well shaded with lots of trees and has a cool, literally and figuratively, interpretation centre too. Fortunately for me and my life that was, unbeknownst to me, leading to today when I would write this blog post, there were some Inuit throat singers performing.

It was warm, there were people all around and I had nothing to fear! Also, that I was looking at the source of the singing, the singers themselves, inevitably humanized the moment. Child-me understood Inuit throat singing vaguely, as part of a hodgepodge of aboriginal spiritual beliefs. Whatever the specific practices of the different nations and peoples they were all just communing with dead ancestors and the spirit world because that's what they had always done. As I said before, sweaty faces in a fire-lit lodge, full of who knows what sinister and mysterious meaning. Whether I thought it consciously or not, my imagination led me into mental traps that understood throat singing as part of culture frozen and dead in the past, romantically removing its agency, preventing it from having any valid role to play in the present and future.

That day in Montreal, however, I could see that throat singing, like so many other kinds of performance and art, wasn't just about lost relics or ancient traditions, but about connecting with who was in front of you. Experiencing the now with whoever is there to share it. The women faced each other, holding one another's arms (although that part of the memory is a bit hazy, so apologies if that is an impossibility) and they started to sing. Back and forth, modulating and experimenting with noises and sounds, and improvising. They were coming up with stuff on the spot, playing off what they heard from the person they were facing and eventually, I realized, trying with all their might to get the other person to crack up, break the song and break out laughing. It was a moment of pure joy under the leafy green trees on a hot and sunny early September day.


A moment's research on Wikipedia tells me Inuit throat singing is generally a duet, or a performed contest between women. And, Tanya Tagaq, as a solo performer, is singled out as a non-traditional use of the form. And I'm willing to bet, incorporating a 40 person choir, drums and and electrified violin for a performance in a space originally built by the Eaton family as a restaurant in a fancy department store might also be considered "non-traditional", but fuck it all if that isn't the brilliance of life.

Ever-changing and inevitably moving forward, moment to moment, until we're all done. 


Tanya Tagaq's performance. Around 3:18:30 for the full introduction.

And as a final aside, I watched the gala in its entirety today as I was writing this and I enjoyed it. The slightly anarchic vibe is the internet stream gives off seems fun.


A car commercial

A man in the backyard of his modernist house, shorts and shirt, relaxed of a sort. Everything is rectangles and moulded concrete, the blue of the pool set off by neatly shorn grass and surrounded by a tall hedge. He appears strong, muscled, thick and broad, surveying his property and wonders, Why do we work so hard? For stuff? He talks of Europeans taking August off, August!, stopping for a leisurely café after work, enjoying life. But not America. America is hustle, and so the man moves bravely, resolutely, with solid strides.

Inside the house, more rectangles, grey, wood, space, opulence made to look like a factory perhaps. America is high-fiving your child who sits on the couch with a tablet with a sibling beside her entranced by paper of all things. America doesn't need cafés or August, just more hard work. The rest of the world is free to judge, because those idiots hate stuff and none of them were the Wright brothers, Bill Gates, Les Paul or Ali.

We're in the kitchen now, rectangles, and there's the wife with a hand off, it's a go-go household after all, and the moon. It's our moon, America's moon.

The man changes into a suit and is at his car, it's a Cadillac, it's electric and it's a just reward for hard work. "Work hard, create your own luck and you gotta believe anything is possible," except taking August off. If you think that's possible you're a fool, and probably foreign. "As for all the stuff, that's the upside of only taking two weeks off in August, n'est pas?" WINK.
The commercial is a wonder, usurping decades of anti-consumerist rhetoric and revelling in it. Stuff for the sake of stuff, owning for the sake of ownership, and being able to one up the Joneses without the slightest hint of self-consciousness. Define yourself through possession and keep striving because enough is just a rest, a chance to gather strength before launching to the next enough. Oh, and it's downright unAmerican to think otherwise.

And the ad is for an electric car of all things!

People like to buy stuff, it's undeniably fun. There are colours and smells and a sense of satisfaction, not to mention the incredibly powerful self-narratives that can grow around the regular use of the most inane household item. Try to write off consumption and you risk looking like a judgemental wiener and wrong, because the last few centuries seem to suggest it has staying power. But consumption can be depressing too, like when you're told about the environmental or social damage our desire to buy the latest cellphone might be causing. Or the unsatisfying and empty existence you find for yourself once you've climbed aboard the status treadmill (apparently it's also called the hedonic treadmill, but calling it that sounds like you were so busy not buying stuff you had to read the dictionary to fill your time).

On all fronts this commercial just says, yeah, I've heard about hedonism, isn't it great? Want to come over later? We're going to make fun of Europeans, murder August and burn it on a pyre of the stuff we don't want anymore.

That's what it says!!!

This is the point in the writing where I've said some things, really just summarized a commercial and added the bare minimum of commentary, and although I want to write more I'm going to walk away ... in just a few paragraphs, right after I make an ass (maybe?) of myself trying to extrapolate. Here goes:

The car commercials I'm used to tend to have a car driving down a pretty road, maybe there's some cool music. If there's an underlying message it's that this truck makes you a man, or fuel efficiency makes you green. Instead this ad feels like it's defending a way of life.

It's saying, remember World War II? Which we won. And the Cold War? Which we also won. Out loud it's saying, the Wright brothers, Bill Gates, Les Paul, Ali and the moon, but we know what it's really saying. The commercial is also saying, we won the wars by living the right way, working hard and buying stuff. That's how we did it then and that's how we're going to keep doing it, because we're the best! The commercial doesn't want you to stress about economic shifts, the environment, monetized politics or collapsing international relations. It wants to distract from an uncertain future by looking back and reminding people that it's all good. What we're doing is fine, don't ask.

I'm not saying all those bad things are as bad as the most ardent evangelists claim; even attempting to argue that would take at least 6 blogs. And as a person who likes the odd piece of stuff, I probably just wear the same cardigan for longer than most, I don't want to come across as judgemental. Heck, I even like the commercial and have watched it a bunch. I'm just saying, that's what it's saying.

I saw the commercial while I was visiting LA, a weird place full of delusion and cars. Everyone is going to be famous and they all just need to drive across town to an audition all the time to make that happen. To do that day after day requires the kind of gung-ho, I'm-the-best attitude this commercial exudes, and it also requires a place that won't be crushingly depressing when the dream doesn't work out on the first couple hundred days. LA might be the ultimate post-modern city, where every day is like the one before and every place is no place, and it's also a pretty great city, in part because of its weather. The light and the ocean/desert air makes everything you do in a day feel indulgent yet productive. My first three days there I napped at least an hour every afternoon and I've never felt so accomplished.

This commercial is like how LA's weather lets you deal with what might actually be a pretty pointless life. It's easy and it feels good and lets you think everything is going to work out fine. You just need to keep doing what you've been doing, working hard and taking two weeks off in August. Remember, you're the best. Sure it might be the start of a century long mega-drought, but you've been living beyond your aquatic means since forever, so who cares. The sun is shining, the surfing looks good and more stuff.

Fuck August.


I Bought You Russia

We shot this thing in October 2012. Do you remember October 2012? It was a long time ago. But the movie is finally done and now on the internet.

Just in time for Sochi!


Gayl Pile

Remember event television? Like when Stephen King's The Stand was a mini-series and they promoted the unholy hell out of that sucker?

Well Gayl Pile promises to be better.

Note: I am not prone to hyperbole. Nor do I remember what The Stand was actually like.


Tony Ho - Wanda

So in the midst of all this Rob Ford stuff Tony Ho released a new video.

That's good news, because everyone needs uplifting comedy at a time like this.

Warning, SWEARS!


Tony Ho - Time

If you haven't heard of Tony Ho, the haunted house of Toronto comedy, what better place to start than with their new amazing short!?!?

I like to let the work speak for itself, enjoy!

Why I feel bad for Rob Ford

I am not a Rob Ford apologist. Rob Ford is a bad mayor, and based on a bunch of evidence he seems to be a bad person. The man lacks empathy, can't comprehend that other people with distinct perspectives exist, refuses to accept any proof from outside his intuition, and even uses his self-avowed ignorance as a point of honour. There are the proven drunken rages in public, accusations of a bigger drinking problem, possible familial abuse and sexual harassment and now the crack video. Some of Rob Ford's problems are public knowledge, others just strongly suspected, but taken together they build one hell of a pattern. (And just for the record I believe some of the stories more than others, but I do believe the crack video exists and the descriptions now in the public domain to be largely accurate.)

Given all that though, and given that I disagree with many of his policies and despise the hypocrisy and willful ignorance and lies he uses to support them, I still feel bad for Rob Ford. Let me try to explain why.

I feel bad because Rob Ford is not a happy man. And he is not a happy man because he is not doing a thing he wants to be doing. I see Rob Ford as an emotional (as opposed to intellectual) being whose world is more black and white than shades of grey. I'm right, you're wrong and even if there are aspects of your position similar to mine, you're still wrong. When he experiences something his response is immediate and single-minded. He doesn't consider contributing factors or how things will be received, he just responds directly and emotionally. If you don't agree full bore, you are attacking him and you are now an enemy. Rob Ford's response is to roar in anger and pain at perceived transgressions and that means he is not suited to being mayor, a job where basic understanding, negotiation and compromise are necessities.

The mayor's emotional reality only became apparent to me on a rare instance when he was in the public eye and obviously happy. At the opening of the new Underpass Park last summer - built beneath an elevated highway by Waterfront Toronto - children were clambering like ants over a newly built jungle gym, having a time as kids are wont to do, when the structure starts bouncing slightly and the camera person suddenly moves to get a better angle. And there he is. Rob Ford has climbed the jungle gym and is now bouncing it and the children. And the children are chanting - Go mayor! Go mayor! - and the man beams. Rob Ford is having the best time, he is happy and it shows and it's kinda nice.

This isn't the original video I saw, but you'll get a feel for what I'm on about, AND get to witness some fantastic audio recording if you watch the whole thing.

But Rob Ford doesn't get to play in the park with children everyday, and Rob doesn't get to perpetually meet with constituents one-on-one to help solve small problems, something I think the man was probably good at. Instead he is mayor and as such needs to subject himself to the chaos of governing, directing city council and working with everyone to find a way forward for the city, something he has repeatedly proven himself incapable of.

What Rob Ford does like doing, and he seems to be quite good at, is coaching football. Unlike at city hall, on the football field he can be as gruff and boisterous as he likes. He's the boss and the players have to do what he says because that's the way it is. He even knows and feels comfortable with the rules, something I'm sure gives him peace of mind. (I'm intentionally leaving this aside for the moment: "By associating himself with crack dealers, a mayor who cast himself as a surrogate football-coach father to black youth who, he claimed, would otherwise have been involved in drugs and gangs, would turn out to be a direct benefactor of the crippling problem he said he was shielding them from. Toronto has seen some cynicism in its days. This is toxic.")

I bring this up because I'm not the only one who thinks it. The reporters who have seen the crack-video report a man off screen telling the mayor his true calling lies in coaching football, and the mayor agrees. So why isn't he doing it? He's from a wealthy family; why doesn't he just coach football and run his foundation full-time?

The answer might be hinted at in another part of the video where Rob Ford is mumbling again... Everyone expects me to be right-wing, I'm... and he trails off. It would be great to know what or who Rob Ford thinks he is, but what we do know is he feels the weight of expectation on him. I assume the expectation and its attendant pressures are mainly familial, but that's obviously me guessing. I've only heard rumours of motherly and brotherly force brought to bear; you have to do this Rob, because of the family name, because of dad, because of history.

Whether from his direct family or the wider conservative one, Rob Ford feels the pressure, and I would guess he feels trapped. When you feel trapped you want to escape and that brings us back to crack and the rest of it. As variously reported and rumoured he drinks to excess, abuses prescription meds and now apparently barrels around high on crack all while his mayoral work suffers, and as an inevitable result the city suffers. Rob Ford is now so desperate to escape his life, job and the expectations that lurk over him he has to hide out in a crack den bantering with men - we don't know what the mayor considers them, strangers or friends - whose motives are clearly not aligned with his own, and it's sad.

Rob Ford's story is a big one, painted in the largest brush strokes of a Greek play, it's all pathos and tragedy, each turn another level of despair. But even the nuance of the tale is incredible. I mean, it had to be crack, it had to be THE drug of urban decay, the default drug we go to as an explanation - assume someone is on - when their decisions make absolutely no sense. Given all that, and the things the mayor has done and wants to do to the city, the things he has said to and about people, horrible things, it's easy to forget the mayor is still a person, not just a caricatured monster, no matter how much we dislike him. And when a person is caught in a story where the Greek gods are pulling the strings, the mortal had best be careful.

He's an unhappy man doing a job that at this point I can't believe he wants to be doing. More than that though, the stress Rob Ford is under might end up doing him some serious long-term, physical harm.

Rob Ford does not look well. Look at most pictures you can find of him online from the past few months, or even just this picture from a flag raising at city hall on Friday.

It's ridiculous and hilarious. It looks exactly like what we expect a picture of Rob Ford to be. He looks like a buffoon, both literally and figuratively a man apart from the crowd. We get to laugh because he is not like us, he is bad and petty and mean, and we rejoice that we are not those things. But Rob Ford also looks sick, so unhealthy, disheveled and on the verge of something disastrous.

As I've said already, I'm not a Rob Ford apologist. Even if I think he's in a situation not of his own choosing - and infantilize him somewhat by saying his mother and brother make decisions for him - it doesn't mean we should forgive his being such a shitty mayor. He is an adult who has to take responsibility for the awful job he is doing. In a few weeks Rob Ford will be turning 44, and I think it would be great if by that time he had found other work. He distracts from governing, gives up on projects the moment they aren't going his way and affixes a bizarre stigma to Toronto internationally as his pratfalls become the only thing people from away know about our city. Rob Ford is not good at his job but I still feel bad for him because beyond what I consider his professional failings the man is suffering. I just hope those around him recognize the demons and help him before anything worse occurs.