Photo by Allan Ferguson, used under Creative Commons license


So, I’m sexist. Like, Level One sexist according to this blog post by John Scalzi.  Probably Level One racist too.

I’ll explain — Scalzi very thoughtfully lays out better than I’ve ever been able to, usually applying a clumsy moniker of “privilege” to too broad a range of issues. He posits four levels of discrimination, the first of which probably applies to the majority of us:

Level One: Ambient – This is the discrimination that is given to you, by society in general, by the particular groups you participate with in our general society, and by immediate influences (i.e., family, friends, teachers and authority figures). Your own ambient mix of discriminatory things will vary due to all of the above, as you drill down from the general to the specifics of your own life. But that doesn’t mean you avoid discrimination (or its effects); it merely dials in what particular discriminatory things you are more strongly influenced by. Everyone is influenced by the ambient discrimination, which is why, in fact, everyone is sexist, racist, classist, etc — we all got given this stuff early, often and before we could think about it critically. This is the baggage we deal with.

Despite growing up with strong, respectful parents who would never tolerate me being a racist, sexist dick, I almost certainly suffer from the baggage Scalzi defines here. It’d be hard not to. While I learned to hate racism, homophobia, etc. long ago, it took too long for my brain to really register the ambient misogyny in society. And, I guess, in me, for that matter. Once I started to see and hear it, I saw and heard it everywhere. Like bad kerning…except, you know, a deadly societal issue.

I’ve been aware of the active backlash against the “not all men” cop-out for a while, which was properly skewered by Slate in the wake of last weekend’s shooting at UC Santa Barbara, perpetrated by Elliot Rodger, a mentally unstable twat who, according to his own manifesto, killed random people because of the women who drove him to it by not digging him. Fuck that guy. If you want the 40-second version of his misogynist whinging, might I suggest this video, But I’m A Nice Guy by Scott Benson, found via Joey DeVilla:

Anyway, the push-back against the predictable post-Rodger “not all men” cry has come, in part, in the form of the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag. I started reading those tweets this weekend, and pretty quickly felt revolted by my own gender. Those tweets from women I didn’t know rattled in my head when I tried to go to sleep. Especially Margaret Atwood’s words: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

Today, though, I got a close-up look.

I was on the subway heading south to a meeting on King Street, standing in the far doorway, listening to a podcast. Three people — two young women, I’m guessing mid-20s and early-30s, and a young man — got on at Summerhill. They all stood close together, and kinda weirdly close to me…closer than you’d expect people to stand to you on the TTC. I didn’t think much of it, but then I noticed the guy. He was staring at the younger woman. I mean staring. Open-mouthed, non-blinking, less-than-a-foot-away staring. He wasn’t speaking. The women were but I couldn’t hear what they were saying — I was listening to an episode of This American Life on my headphones. Finally, just before Rosedale station, I saw him say something and try to move even closer to the younger woman but the older woman blocked him. It was clear now he wasn’t with them; he was following them. Specifically, the smaller, younger woman. I pulled out my headphones and heard the older woman say, “Okay, she doesn’t know you, and you don’t know her, so just leave her alone.” I realized at this point that the early-30s woman didn’t know the mid-20s woman either…she’d just been trying to help her fend off a creepy guy. I realized this, and all I could think of was Elliot Rodger. This was obsession, fixation, objectification. He was coming after her like a dog chasing a ball.

I stepped forward and tapped the younger girl on the shoulder, letting her know she could move behind me into the doorway. I stepped in front of the other woman as well, between her and this guy, and put my headphones back in. He didn’t seem to notice me…he was completely fixated on her. He just tried to step around me to get to the woman. Now he was moving more aggressively, actually trying to duck around me and another lady who was now helping to shield the young woman.  I got in his way a few times, and he figured out now that I wasn’t going to let him get to her. I didn’t try to get physical with him; he wasn’t a big guy but he was definitely unstable. He tried to provoke me though: he stuck his middle finger as close to the right side of my face as he could without touching me. I just stared out the subway doors, smirking. This was the best he had when there’s someone my size in his way. But I noticed something else: the smell. It’s a smell you get to know in any city. He didn’t look homeless, but he definitely smelled homeless. And it confirmed that I didn’t want to touch this guy.

Next he opened his hand and started waving it in my face, still on my right side, like a kid (or Sean Avery) playing the “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” game. It was annoying, and stunk, but I was fine with it; if he was paying attention to me he was leaving the young woman alone. But then he got more aggressive, and moved right in front of me, right in my face. I tensed at this point; I actually thought he might take a swing, or even have something on him, like a weapon. I haven’t felt adrenaline like that in a while; I forget how tingly your legs get. He didn’t attack me though. He did open his mouth, stick out his tongue, and snarl at me with rotted, sharpened teeth like some kind of homeless Maori warrior, which just grossed me out and actually made me laugh even more. It was all so ridiculous. There was a crazy dude trying to scare me on the subway, while Ira Glass interviewed Molly Ringwald in my ear.

Look, I know a lot of people would say his behaviour has to be chalked up to the fact that he was crazy, or on drugs, or both, or something else entirely. And that’s part of it. But here’s the thing: he wasn’t obsessed with me. Or any other dudes. Or any of the hundreds of other adults on the subway. Or any of the kids, who were all smaller and weaker than him. It was just the pretty girl. Something in his misfiring brain told him this was okay, that this girl’s prettiness gave him permission to be aggressive toward her.  To try whatever the fuck he wanted to do to her if there weren’t people stopping him. And the worst part is that there are men out there who aren’t crazy or on drugs, who also see her prettiness as permission to try whatever the fuck they want to do to her. And they might think to catch her where there aren’t people to help.

The train pulled into Bloor and, in the chaos of that station, I didn’t notice that she got off the train. I noticed just after the crazy guy did, and he ran off the train after her. The last I saw she was running down the packed southbound platform toward the security station; I don’t know what happened after that. A few of us tried to signal to people on the platform but the train was already moving. I wish I’d followed them. Fuck my meeting. I should have followed them. I’ve been checking Twitter and the news all day to see if anything happened at the station.

I hope she’s okay. I hope she never sees him again. I hope she never sees anyone like him again.

But she probably will.


Cover photo by Allan Ferguson, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by 900hp, used under Creative Commons license

“The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.”

We saw Godzilla (imdb | rotten tomatoes) yesterday. The new one, not the classics or the Matthew Broderick abomination from 1998. It was really good. Seriously. I mean, Elizabeth Olsen was completely wasted and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character was much too thin, and it pivoted a little too quickly from exposition to outright chaos, but those are minor quibbles. The action and effects were the important part here, and manoman…this might be the first movie I’ve ever watched where my brain didn’t register computer effects. I mean, I know they weren’t actually destroying cities and ships, but I never had that moment where I thought, “Ugh, effects.” Keeping things dark helped, I guess. And the HALO drop scene was as cool as it looked in the trailer.

Plus — and this is important — Godzilla was just badass.

Oh, and people shouldn’t bring their disinterested kids to sold-out movies. Just sayin’.


Cover photo by 900hp, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Thomas Cizauskas, used under Creative Commons license

Crawl II

Three weeks after doing a mini craft beer pub crawl (Volo, Bellwoods, Bar Hop) with our friend Amanda, we did another yesterday with her visiting sister Becky. This time we hit Bryden’s, Indie Ale House, Bellwoods again, and Wvrst.

Bryden’s was unremarkable, except in that it introduced the ladies to the Local 7 Session Saison. Bellwoods was fairly disappointing this time; my Wizard Wolf was fine but the No Rest For The Wicked sour stout just wasn’t enjoyable. And Wvrst was great, both for the sausage and for our drinks — I had a Silversmith Funzover Dunkel and a Péché Mortel, which Becky also tried and loved.

But the real star of the day was Indie Ale House. Somehow Nellie and I had never been, despite its reputation. It certainly lived up to the rep, and more: the beer was fantastic (especially the Fallen Idol Belgian sour), our food (especially the fried chicken) was outstanding, and we loved the feel and décor of the place. If we lived closer this place would be our new local. We’ll need to find an excuse to return to the Junction, I guess.


Cover photo by Thomas Cizauskas, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Reed, used under Creative Commons license

“We are having dinner! No penises!”

Not sure why I haven’t been writing about these movies, but we’ve watched quite a few lately: Ender’s Game, The Purge, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Oldboy, The Great Gatsby, Killing Them Softly, Knuckle, and Life Of Pi. They were all okay…nothing spectacular. Maybe Oldboy, though it really just made me want to watch the original. Knuckle was like an amazing train wreck. Gatsby was awful.

Hmm. I think I just figured out why I haven’t been writing about them.


Cover photo by Reed, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by John Amos, used under Creative Commons license

Trending down

We used to be really big Hot Docs goers, but in recent years our attendance has dwindled. Between travel and work we’re finding it hard even to fit in five screenings the way we used to. This year we only booked two, and couldn’t even be bothered to go to the first — Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere as we’d had a long week and just wanted to watch the Raptors play game 6.

We did manage to get ourselves to one though: the final screening of The Great Invisible, about the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It focused less on the environmental impact and more on the people involved, from the families of the 11 people killed in the explosion, to survivors suffering from guilt and PTSD, to workers in decimated coastal industries, to oil executives growing rich off the once-again booming oil industry. Because it was the third screening the director wasn’t around to answer questions. Too bad; I wanted to find out more about the highly entertaining and admirable gentleman named Roosevelt.


Cover photo by John Amos, used under Creative Commons license


I was in Miami for a few days earlier this week, for work. Rough job, I know. To be honest, I’d been unofficially trying to go my whole life without ever setting foot in Florida, what with it being…you know, fucked. Still, I was invited to a conference, so I went.

I wasn’t really staying in Miami, at least not the Miami most of us think about. The conference was out in Doral at the Trump Hotel. There were no signs of it being a douchey Trump property, except that when you turned on the TV it would auto-play a random Trump speech. So I got to know the location of the mute button on the remote real quick.

Still, the weather was nice and they had a bar by the pool, so I spent a fair amount of off-conference time hanging out there and drinking Cigar City Jai Alai IPAs with friends. Related: our server didn’t know what Jai Alai is, or how to pronounce it, so I had to teach her. Related to related: I am old.

One other highlight: a vendor took a bunch of us out to dinner in South Beach, at Bazaar in the SLS hotel. We had a private room (which people kept sneaking up to, thinking there were celebrities inside…once they saw it was just a bunch of nerds they looked disappointed and slunk away) for dinner, which was pretty damn great. A quick scan of the menu produced some of the tapas dishes we shared, but not all: chinese buns w/ pork belly; cones full of salmon roe and dill cream cheese; hamachi w/ pickled onions, sour orange; dragon fruit ceviche w/ tuna, pecans, lime, hibiscus; brussels sprouts w/ “lemon air”; bone marrow w/ Caribbean white truffles, florida citrus, capers; Cuban coffee-rubbed churrasco; endives w/ goat cheese, oranges, marcona almonds, orange dressing; sautéed shrimp w/ garlic, parsley, lemon, guindilla pepper; croquetas de pollo; tacos made of jamón ibérico and caviar; and for dessert, some amazing churros with peanut butter.

The night was marred only by the fact that our transportation from the hotel to the restaurant was a Ford Hummer Killer, an enormous stretch SUV limo, which poisoned my very soul. I also got into it a bit with a Republican (or, more likely, Tea Partier) on the drive home re: the relative merits of socialized healthcare. Or, in my more aggressive moments, the “fucking travesty” of the US healthcare system. So, there was that. Oh, and Jamie Foxx ate dinner at the restaurant just as we were leaving, so people were all agog and agape.

All in all, though, it was a good trip. Though I am in no way attractive enough to hang out in South Beach, I’d be willing to visit Miami again. Not the rest of Florida though; that state is messed up.