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Confession

2010/08/06 Comments off

Dear blog,

I’ve been using you for my own selfish aims. I started this blog in the desperate midst of my job search so that I could have some semblance of a writing portfolio to show potential employers. And guess what? Mission accomplished! I’ve been working for a couple of weeks since my last post as a technical writer for a tech firm. So I guess I owe you a thank-you e-card, blog.

The added bonus is that as a writer (if the word writer is in the job title, I’m only slightly bending the rules by calling myself one) I spend eight work hours a day making a portfolio for myself and I get paid to do so. Huzzah! Doesn’t that make you happy blog?

 So… it’s not that I don’t love you any more, and this isn’t your fault, but I have to spend some time with this new job. Really get to know it and spend lots of time with it. A job is a big commitment and, well, maybe we should take a break.

Of course I want to write stuff in you, don’t be that way! I finished three books, went to three movies, and did some pretty fun stuff lately. I even won a contest. It’s not that I don’t care about you or that I haven’t done anything but work, but sometimes we have to rethink our priorities.  

No, I’m not starting a new blog on Tumblr.

Look, I even gave you a shiny new theme and a new title!

We both knew this was a short-term thing. We’ll always be friends.

Maybe sometime soon we can have coffee together, just as friends. Maybe I’ll write about something exciting. I’m moving this weekend, so maybe I can show you my snazzy new place when I’m all settled in.

Until then let’s just see other people. I hear Le Plateau has finally started up in full force and Kim’s blog is always fabulous. Of course Rosel is always a great read… so… why don’t you spend sometime with your fellow blogs and really just get to know yourself?

I just want you to be happy.

Sincerely, Alex

Categories: Uncategorized

Feeling Down? This Won’t Help.

2010/06/30 Comments off

I’ve been self-diagnosed with what I’m calling “End of the World Syndrome” (EWS). No, not that mandatory growing despair one feels when they’ve just finished school, have to find a job, pick another tiny apartment to lease, and a new set of goals to develop, but an unavoidable hopelessness that the world has become a sinking inflatable life raft that any amount of personal bailing out will not save.

As I grow and mature (and manage my own finances) I am becoming increasingly aware of the impact my actions and purchases have on my immediate and extended environment. I do my best to buy local, organic produce at farmer’s markets. I’m actively making an effort to buy recycled and used clothing. I am spending my summer scouring garage sales and back alleys for house wares. Even my nerdy-ness needs are being met by only buying used and pre-owned videogames. All my light bulbs are compact fluorescents. I only use green-certified cleaning products, and my soap, shampoo, and conditioner are essentially clumps of grass in bottles. It may sound like I’m bragging here, but I see these as inconsequential baby steps in a walk I fear may be longer than I’ll ever be able to walk: I still don’t grow my own food, I take long, hot showers, eat imported goods, buy lead-filled things from Dollarama, and have a stack of Styrofoam plates left over from a dinner party a few months ago. I’ve lately begun to feel guilty for owning ziplock bags and using paper towels.

The prime symptom of EWS is that it one’s efforts can never feel like enough. I have come to some firm conclusions in this regards: 1) Even if I stop purchasing anything and somehow manage to have literally zero or a positive impact of the environment, the world is going to end. 2) I do not possibly have the power to convince everyone on the planet to stop everything and just go frolic with the fawns or whatever regional fauna that they live near to. What with things happening around the world like oil spills, how do the happy-type greenies stay hopeful? Did I miss the vaccination for EWS when they were getting distributed?

The other force working against me is the fact that I’m not entirely convinced by the environmentalist critiques and solutions offered that I’ve come in contact with. Recently I considered joining Le Frigo Vert, an anarchist, organic, fair trade, student-run co-op here in Montreal as a way of alleviating EWS. Unfortunately, unless I want to subsist entirely on grains and beans and the occasional sprouted bean, it was not the place for me. Am I just being a privileged brat? The excellent short documentary, The Story of Stuff (www.thestoryofstuff.com) by Annie Leonard, confirmed my opinions on consumerism (including my own), lists several possibilities for change and argues we need to radically change how we produce and consume goods. I wholehearted agree, but her enthusiasm and positivity still cannot convince me that such a change is possible. Leonard groups people into two categories: those who are positive and hopeful about total environmental change and those who want to continue to exploit our world. Heck, even the oh-so-subtle film Avatar suggests we all fall into the same types. But what about those of us who look at the uphill fight as a Sisyphean endeavour?

Perhaps it’s just a case of me being too all or nothing about the whole thing, which is entirely possible. It’s not going to stop me from continuing to be as green as I know how, and learning new ways to do so, and I’ll keep looking for something to cure my bad case of the EWS, but at this rate I’m more likely to find a little cabin in the middle of the woods and live by eating the turnips I’ll (hopefully) find there.

Categories: Uncategorized

Blame Game

2010/06/25 1 comment

It seems that after every natural disaster/catastrophe/event it doesn’t take long for some political and/or religious nutjob (who am I kidding? That /or shouldn’t be there) to blame the queers for it. This week’s earthquake in Central Canada may not have been earth shattering (apologies), but somewhere someone is blaming me.

I get confused by the logic of this blame gaming, however; as far as I can see, there’s two ways of placing blame: either God/Deity/Skyfather caused it, or the gays did.

The usual line of thinking is that God/whoever caused the event in order to punish whatever place it occurred for being gay/being fair to gays/not stoning gays. But if that’s the case, he has lousy aim. The earthquake that shook Canada managed to rattle a few of the jars in my fridge, though I may just be attributing a passing semi with tectonic plate-shifting capabilities. A neighbor, one of the most fab people I know, didn’t even realize there was an earthquake. No one (thankfully) has been reported killed, and the queer neighborhoods in the major cities hit by the quake sustained no damage.

Alternatively, God causes disasters to teach straight leaders a lesson. But doesn’t that seem a tad vindictive? It falls too closely in line with the whole Phelps family version of God, who hates (insert pretty much any noun here). I can’t remember which comedian made the joke, but someone noted that for some reason when nature affects someone else it’s to punish them, but when it happen to you (your church, for example, catches on fire) it’s God testing your faith. Funny how that works.

I like to think that there’s a group of people who actually believe that the gays are directly responsible for natural disasters. Like, that there’s a rainbow coalition deciding when it would be bitchiest to cause some trouble. I’m sure how I join or how they accomplish their mission; do we have a weather-control device I wasn’t aware of? Are we magic? I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous anti-gay propoganda (see the Ugandan “kill the gays” stuff going down), but I’ve yet to come across a pastor or pope condemning us for drinking blood and communicating with the dead (wait a minute…)

As far as I can tell, God is either a lousy aim, a bully, or I have a secret tunnel to the Earth’s core. There can’t be any other option can there? Oh, wait! The G20 protestors, it must be them. Things like this can’t actually just happen naturally, right?

Categories: Uncategorized

Read: I Drink for a Reason

2010/05/11 Comments off

I Drink for a Reason

by David Cross

New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2009.

pp. xv + 236 $23.99

When I purchased David Cross’ book from my local Chapters/Indigo store, Darlene* commented happily, “Oh! It’s Tobias!” She was referring to Cross’ role on Fox’s critically acclaimed show Arrested Development as the laughably pathetic Dr. Tobias Funke. “I saw an interview with him once. He was really mean actually.” Yes, Cross is a mean guy, as those of us who are familiar with his long-lost HBO show Mr. Show with Bob and David or his standup comedy can attest. He is a scathing critic of politics and popular culture, as well as a staunch atheist. His standup tackles right-wingers and P.C lefties alike.  He is mean and crass, yes; but he is also smart, funny, and usually spot-on.

I Drink for a Reason is essentially a collection of Cross’ short standup bits transcribed into book form.  52 of them, to be precise.  They run the gambit from simple absurdity (“Didja Know?”) to cultural commentary (“A Non-Sponsored Look at Holidays in America”), stopping occasionally to be poignant and sincere (“Breaking Up”).  Each is piece is about 4 pages long, lending itself easily to several short bursts of reading rather than two or three extended sittings.  It’s a more enjoyable book if read in shorter sessions, as Cross’ acerbic wit can become overwhelming if taken in all at once. He’s angry, and rightfully so, but its tonal nuance can get lost through overexposure.   

The book is hilarious though, and fans of Cross’ standup will definitely not be disappointed. While there are traces of Mr. Show throughout the book, in I Drink for a Reason Cross eschews character pieces and opts instead for his own voice. But even readers new to Cross’ style of comedy will appreciate his blend of cultural critique, absurdist humor, and guttermouth. He blends true stories seamlessly with outrageous comedic fantasies; oftentimes it is not entirely clear whether or not Cross is regaling you with a humourous anecdote from his own adventures or if you’re reading complete hogwash.  It’s usually an unknowable combination of both.   

Leave all your P.C notions at the door however; Cross revels in using every racial, religious, and sexual epithet he can. He mocks individuals with religious beliefs, republicans, as well as flower children and hippies. If you’re easily offended read this book with caution: I Drink For a Reason is not for everyone. For example, one chapter entitled “A Short List of Videos with Babies in Them that I Have Not Seen on the Internet but Most Likely Exist and I Would Like to See at Some Point” lists progressively grotesque scenarios involving infants, including “a drunk baby trying to stand up and walk across the room” (170). If you cannot see the humor in that image, perhaps you should skip I Drink for a Reason and instead opt for the far more family friendly Arrested Development.

Although Cross’ book is far from perfect (it tends to lose momentum in the final third), it operates successfully as both comic relief and as an investigation of what’s wrong with our Western culture. There’s even supplementary video clips and sketches available online at www.idrinkforareason.com, which functions as a nice bonus for readers and as a good measurement for potential book buyers. If you can laugh through “Gay Canada Part II” then you should probably buy this book as soon as possible.

*Not Darlene’s real name

Categories: Books, Uncategorized Tags: ,