Thursday, December 20, 2012

To the Hole in My Pocket,

You swallow so many things, yet you have no digestive tract, no stomach, nothing with which to hold that which you consume.  You will never be sated by the many coins that you have consumed in the midst of your endless, sisyphean hunger.  This is your curse in life, to always eat but never be satisfied, to be ever consuming but never retaining.

Basically, I think you should give up because your whole coin swallowing trick is getting old and I keep forgetting that you exist.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To the gentleman who cut me off on the way into the parking garage,

  I am glad that I was able to facilitate speedy access to the parking area for you. I understand that you, no doubt, had very important things to do — things that were much more important than anything I might have had to do. The speed with which you took advantage of my act of opening the garage door leads me to the conclusion that you are a very august person, for whom ordinary rules of parking lot decorum and civility do not apply. Perhaps you are a superhero or a billionaire philanthropist on your way to save the universe or a small poverty-stricken village in Northern Ontario. I do not know how you would do these things from the comfortable confines of your humble apartment, but I shouldn't ask too many questions of your noble personage. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to aid a person of your obvious importance in your quest for quicker access to the condo's parking garage. I feel that your importance has enhanced my own importance. If there are any other ways that I can convenience you by, say, losing my place in the grocery or bank queue to you or using my face to test the structural integrity an oversized backpack you wear on the bus, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Yours affectionately, John

Monday, December 17, 2012


There is a restaurant in Ottawa named “Gezellig.”

Gezellig is one of the Dutch language’s greatest words.  There is no English equivalent, which explains how this word can survive sixty years to a generation of Anglophone Canadians of Dutch descent.  For the uninitiated, gezellig (with the g’s pronounced with the beautiful guttural phonetics that no one can pull of quite like the Dutch) is a word that calls to mind warmth and coziness, the feeling that one has after having a warm time or moment with family friends.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there is a restaurant in Ottawa called “Gezellig.”  When I first heard of their existence I was very excited because I thought I would finally be able to dine on some fine Dutch fare – perhaps have some steaming stumpot or a nice appeltaart.

But no, apparently this restaurant does not actually serve any Dutch food.  I was disappointed to learn this and then bitterly remonstrated, in my head, against this callous act of linguistic appropriation.  Imagine if there were a restaurant named “Jolly Good” that didn’t serve any British fare or a restaurant named “Jambo” that didn’t serve any East African food.

Still, I heard that the food is very good, and they’ll definitely be getting my business sometime in the future.  When I do go, I should suggest serving at least one Dutch dish. You know, because they borrowed such an awesome word. 

I can always get some fine Dutch cooking from my mother.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


  • Shout out to Celine and Steve.
  • Where the heck do I find Miranda’s blog, Celine?  I am of the opinion that, if a thirty second google search yields no solid results, a thing does not exist.
  • Other things that do not exist: A Murray McLauchlan fan club (too bad, really), Wal-Mart Inc.’s conscience (wasn’t expecting one), and sour grape mentos (why is that?).
  • Interesting thing I just learned: Fruit Pizza with Almond Extract is a thing.
  • Also, there are cockroach enthusiasts in this world of ours.
  • I just ate pie.
  • It was good.
  • It was filled with various berries, one of the varieties was definitely blueberry.
  • There was this movie I seen one time about a man riding across the desert and it starred Gregory Peck.
  • We’re moving / in the process of moving.
  • I just wrote a skit for Christmas this year and then I realized that last year’s skit is still on the first page of my blog.  That’s a shame, John.  A real shame.
  • Our new place has a full wall mirror in the living room.  A shag carpet would really bring the room together.
  • We picked up the following items at Ikea yesterday: A large computer desk with attached shelf, a kitchen table, four chairs, a computer chair, a small kitchen table, two lamps, and two light bulbs.  We fit all of that into our car because Laurianne is a genius.
  • The light bulbs are the part that impressed you all most, I’m sure.
  • Ikea how do you have an aisle zero?  That shit is just weird to me.
  • Rob Ford . . . Toronto, that was a silly thing to do, electing him like that. 
  • Dalton McGuinty . . . remember when you were the one defending teachers?
  • Stephen Harper . . . thanks for taking away the protected status of over two million Canadian rivers.  We don’t need our waterways protected, it’s not like we use that water for anything.
  • I have a new cup for my tea that changes colour when the water is at the correct temperature.
  • Signs you are getting old: you get excited about a cup for your tea.
  • My coworker referred to records as “those giant cd things.”
  • Really though?  Really?
  • Signs you are getting old: your coworkers are too young to easily call to mind the word for record.
  • I downloaded an app that allows me to rate beers.  I never know what to say when I rate beers.
  • Here’s a sample of one of my reviews: “I like it.”
  • Here’s another sample: “Great.”
  • Here’s a slightly less glowing review: “Good.”
  • Here’s a review where I am more critical and in depth: “Smooth, not my taste though.”
  •  That's it.  That's all I have to say right now.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Fantasy Soccer Graph

Graph Plotting Effort Invested in Fantasy Soccer Versus Score Outcomes Per Week (Effort Measured in Units of Thought)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Ox-Bow Incident

I picked this book up on a whim for 35 cents at a used bookstore in Maine.

By far, this is the best 35 cents that I have ever spent in my life. Not knowing anything about the book, I was expecting a sort of rough Western story about how a hero was able to face off against a lynch mob. This book delivers so much more than that. The exploration of mob psychology, authoritarianism, and the nature of injustice was enthralling. Reading this book is like witnessing a car hit a pedestrian in slow motion. I know, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the book, but hear me out.

I’ve never witnessed a car accident in slow motion, but I imagine it this way: I’m standing on a curb seeing a car headed toward a witless pedestrian (slowly, of course) and I’m thinking that maybe the car won’t strike him. The pedestrian’s head is down and he doesn’t see the car, so I’m worried. I look at the driver of the car, and I see from the way his eyes are focused that he does see the pedestrian. The passengers of the car are yelling. One of them is pointing angrily at the pedestrian, another is eerily smiling, while the other is pleading passionately, a pained expression etched on their face. I feel a sense of relief, he’ll stop in time – slam on those brakes. He’ll listen to reason. Indeed, he does start to decelerate and that’s when the pedestrian finally sees him. The pedestrian’s eyes widen, and he starts to leap. Maybe he’ll be able to evade the car if, for whatever reason, it can’t stop in time. But the car is no longer slowing down. In fact, it’s speeding up. The passenger who was pleading looks sad, but resigned while the others maintain their facial expressions. Now the clash is inevitable. I can’t watch this, but I can’t look away either. Maybe a miracle will occur, some kind of divine intervention. No, it happens, the man dies.

At one point in the book, one of the doomed men says of the lynch mob: “I thought there was a white man among you.” It’s a jarring quote, and I took it at face value at first. But, no, it is clear use of irony. Clark was well aware of racist lynching and he clearly had this in mind when he wrote the book. One of the most sympathetic characters in the book is a black man, Sparks, who has the least social standing in the entire community but is steadfast and brave in his stand against the lynching. Clarks book is a protest not just against injustice, but against the profound racial injustice he saw all around him.

Van Tilburg Clark has created a deeply intelligent book that serves as a startling reminder of our capability for evil. We make excuses for inaction in the face of injustice. After all, what can we do? Clark’s choice to have his protagonist act as a mostly passive members of the mob is a good one. I can’t imagine the book being as effective without this decision. Personally, I was forced to question my own decisions. When had I participated or stood by while someone was bullied? When have I chosen to be quiet in the face of injustice? When I have chosen the easy route of inaction?

This is an engrossing read that inspired a lot of self reflection.

“The book was written in 1937 and ‘38, when the whole world was getting increasingly worried about Hitler and the Nazis, and emotionally it stemmed from my part of this worrying. A number of the reviewers commented on the parallel when the book came out in 1940, saw it as something approaching an allegory of the unscrupulous and brutal Nazi methods, and as a warning against the dangers of temporizing and of hoping to oppose such a force with reason, argument, and the democratic approach. They did not see, however, or at least I don’t remember that any of them mentioned it (and that did scare me), although it was certainly obvious, the whole substance and surface of the story, that it was a kind of American Naziism that I was talking about. I had the parallel in mind, all right, but what I was most afraid of was not the German Nazis, or even the Bund, but that ever-present element in any society which can always be led to act the same way, to use authoritarian methods to oppose authoritarian methods.

What I wanted to say was, ‘It can happen here. It has happened here, in minor but sufficiently indicative ways, a great many times.’”

Walter Van Tilburg Clark, 1960.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Skit for Oma's Birthday

My Oma recently turned 90, and the family got together to celebrate her life.  One of our family's Christmas traditions is to prepare a program in which various family members share poems, songs, skits, readings, and games.  We often groan about the program, but it is really a great tradition.  We had a program for Oma's birthday as well, and I prepared one of my silly skits for the occasion.  Cousin Becky requested that I post it here.  There are a lot of jokes that will go over your head if you're not familiar with my family, but I hope you enjoy anyways.

Cousin 1 – “What you up to there, cuzzo?”
Cousin 2 – “. . .”
Cousin 1 – “Say, what are you up to there, cuzzarina?”
Cousin 2 – “Oh, hey there.”
Cousin 1 – “Watcha doin’, Cuzzamication?”
Cousin 2 – “Just trying to write a script for a skit for Oma’s birthday.”
Cousin 1 – “You do realize that we’re celebrating her birthday today, don’t you?”
Cousin 2 – “A little tight on the deadline, am I?”
Cousin 1 – “You might say that or you might say that you have absolutely no chance whatsoever of writing an entire skit before Oma goes to bed tonight.”
Cousin 2 – “It’s only 9.”
Cousin 1 – “Exactly.”
Cousin 2 – “Thanks for the encouragement.”
Cousin 1 – “No problem, Lieutenant Cuzzombo.”
Cousin 2 – “. . .”
Cousin 1 – “Say, you want some help?”
Cousin 2 – “Sure.”
Cousin 1 – “Whatcha got so far?”
Cousin 2 – “I thought it would be nice to have a skit of the whole family at the supper table back in the day.”
Cousin 1 – “Oh brilliant.  Is there a way that we can make fun of Uncle Dave’s jokes?”
Cousin 2 – “Well yes, I have this set up where he makes a terrible pun and Aunt Jane and him give their signature laughs.”
Cousin 1 – “You mean ‘Aunt Jane and he”, right?”
Cousin 2 – “What?”
Cousin 1 – “Well, you see Aunt Jane and Uncle Dave are the subjects of the clause ‘give their signature laughs’ so it should be ‘Aunt Jane and he give their signature laughs’.”

Cousin 2 – “. . .”
Cousin 1 – “You wouldn’t say ‘him give signature laugh’ now, would you?”
Cousin 2 – “No, and thanks for correcting a sentence that’s not even in the skit.  But you have given me an idea for some Uncle Marten jokes.”
Cousin 3 – “Hey guys, what is up?”
Cousin 1 - “We’re just writing a skit for Oma’s birthday.”
Cousin 3 – “Oh, make sure it’s sentimental.”
Cousin 2 – “Sentimental?”
Cousin 3 – “Yeah, we want her to know how much we love her, right?”
Cousin 1 – “Good call.”
Cousin 3 – “And it should rhyme.”
Cousin 2 – “Do you know how difficult it is to . . .”
Cousin 1 – “Awww yeah, a rhyming skit.  That is awesome.”
Cousin 3 – “Is there a way that we can refer to the incident of the broken dish of Christmas 2010?”
Cousin 1 – “You mean the incident in which Aunt Jane assured Aunt Rita that it would be perfectly fine to microwave her favourite dish and then it shattered into pieces and cut Uncle Dave’s hand?”
Cousin 3 – “Yes, that incident.”
Cousin 1 – “I think so.”
Cousin 2 – “You do realize that this entire skit is set in, like, 1965, right?”
Cousin 1 – “Yeah, so?”
Cousin 2 – “That incident didn’t occur until 45 years later.”
Cousin 3 – “Your point?”
Cousin 2 – “How can we possibly refer to an event that hasn’t even happened yet?  I mean, microwaves definitely weren’t invented yet.”
Cousin 1 – “It’s called foreshadowing, Cuzzelia Bedalia.”
Cousin 3 – “Or time travel!”
Cousin 1 – “Even better!”
Cousin 2 – “Okay . . . time travel, sentimentality, and rhyming.  Am I missing anything?”
Cousin 4 – “Hey guys, what’s happening?”
Cousin 1 – “We’re just writing a skit for Oma’s birthday.”
Cousin 4 – “Oh, make sure you have a clever math joke in there.”
Cousin 1 – “ . . . “
Cousin 2 – “. . .”
Cousin 3 – “. . .”
Cousin 4 – “You know, something to highlight the fact that Oma is turning 90.”
Cousin 2 – “How on earth will we . . .?”
Cousin 4 – “Look, we’ve had a lot of skits and none of them have ever had a clever math joke in them.”
Cousin 2 – “Maybe there’s a good reason for that.”
Cousin 4 – “Math joke!”
Cousin 2 – “How can we insert a math joke into a den Boer dinner scene circa 1965?”
Cousin 4 – “Pie.”
Cousin 2 – “Pie?”
Cousin 4 – “How many degrees in a circle?”
Cousin 2 – “360.”
Cousin 4 – “Divided by 4?”
Cousin 2 – “90.”
Cousin 4 – *snicker*
Cousin 2 – “Not sure I get it.”
Cousin 4 – “Oma is turning 90.”
Cousin 2 – “Still not registering as funny.”
Cousin 3 – “Maybe you could add a reference to pi in there – you know, 3.14157 etc.”
Cousin 4 – *More snickering*
Cousin 2 – “You really love mathematics, don’t you?”
Cousin 4, deadly serious – “It is my life.”
. . .
Cousin 2 – “And now . . . presenting the skit for Oma’s birthday.”
Setting – Oma, Opa, Aunt Arianne, Aunt Rita, Uncle Marten, Uncle Dave, and Aunt Jane sitting down for a meal.
Aunt Arianne – “Mom, can you tell us a little about you?”
Oma – “I was born in Leens on April 13th, 1922.”
Opa – “A very beautiful girl, you know it’s true.”
Uncle Dave – “Ugh, so sentimental, it makes it hard to chew.”
Oma – “David, you should cut your meat a little smaller.”
Aunt Rita – “Yes Davey, maybe then you’ll actually grow taller.”
Uncle Marten – “I can’t see him getting any smaller.”
Aunt Arianne – “Mom, can you tell us of the days when you were a scholar?”
Oma – “I was very good in the gym, I was lean and quick.”
Opa – “She can wrestle each of you girls down, what a chick!”
Uncle Dave – “Oh, all this lovey-dovey, I think I’m going to be sick.”
Uncle Marten – (aside) “And now I hit Davey with a well-timed kick.”
*Uncle Dave yelps*
Opa – “Let Mom continue David, she’s telling her story.”
Uncle Dave – “I don’t know what came over me, I’m sorry.”
Oma – “I grew up on a farm near Schiphol Airport, and Dav iddon’t worry.”
Aunt Rita – “How many brothers and sisters Oma? To me it’s blurry.”
Oma – “Engelbert, Jo, Pieter, Jan Willem, Dirk, Nicolaas and Henry (or Hank).”
Uncle Dave *does mental calculations – “That’s six altogether, and you can take that to the bank.”
Uncle Marten – “Actually, it’s seven, Jan Willem is one person, to be frank.”
Aunt Rita – “Don’t become an accountant, later I’m sure you’ll give us thanks.”
Oma – “Anyways, I met Dad when we sat on a wagon together for a parade.”
Opa – “It was all a set up by Pim and Mevrouw Bisheuvel, a sort of charade.”
Oma – “I wasn’t impressed when I first met him, but I’m glad he stayed.”
Opa – “It was worth all of the persistence and dedication I paid.”
*Aunt Rita from the future appears*
Future Aunt Rita – “I come from 2012 to give Rita a notification.  Rita, in Christmas 2010 don’t let Jane put your dish through a microwave degradation.”
Uncle Marten – “Microwaves?  What is this future abomination?”
Aunt Rita – “I must go now, but heed my words or face future irritation!”
*Aunt Rita from the future disappears.”
Oma – “That was very strange, that woman appearing in our place.”
Aunt Jane – “So you were telling us how Dad gave you chase.”
Oma – “We were married on October 30, 1946, I wore lace.”
Opa – “And eventually moved to Canada where there was more space.”
Aunt Arianne – “The pie is ready for us to cut.”
Uncle Marten – “Interesting, if you cut it in four, guess you what?”
Uncle Dave – “Then a quarter of a pie is going in my gut?”
*Aunt Jane and Uncle Dave laugh*
Uncle Marten – “No, a quarter of 360 is 90, Dave keep your mouth shut.”
Aunt Jane – “And what is the significance of 90 here?”
Uncle Marten – “Well remember the lady who came, remember she said the year?”
Aunt Jane – “2012, I recall, before she decided to disappear.”
Uncle Marten – “Well Mom will be 90 then, that much is clear.”
All – “Oma we love you, and we hold you dear.”

Monday, May 07, 2012

A few months ago, I  finished reading I am Legend, a book by Richard Matheson that was made into a blockbuster film starring Will Smith. I noticed a few small differences between the book and the film:

~ Robert Neville isn't a famous army scientist in the book, he's a veteran and blue collar veteran who knows how to use the library.
~ There is no Bob Marley in the book, just classical music.
~ There is no helicopter crash in the book.
~ There are no mannequins in the book.
~ There are no super-labs in Robert Neville's basement in the book.
~ There is a lady that Robert Neville meets in the book, but she doesn't have a kid with her and she is definitely not motivated by anything approaching the same reasons as the woman in the film.
~ The book takes place in the seventies not during the 2000s.
~ There are no lions or gazelles in the book.
~ The amazing number of broken glasses and imbibed alcoholic beverages in the book make no appearance in the movie.
~ The dog in the book is a mutt, in the movie he's a German Shepherd.
~ In the book, the dog doesn't even really become friends with Robert Neville or appear for that long.
~ Robert Neville's home isn't a secret to the zombie vampires in the book.
~ There is an ironic twist at the end of the book while the movie has a heroic self-sacrifice. . .

Okay, I'm going to stop here and just say that the only similarities are that there is a man named Robert Neville who survives a vampire apocolypse.  He is very sad.  He meets a dog and a woman.  He tries to find a cure.  He kills many vampires.

Actually, I'm going to stop here and just say that both the book and the film weren't very good.  The book was just a shade better because of its ending, and that's really not saying much.

Wait, I'm stopping here to say that I am not to happy with this post.

For real this time, I'm stopping here just to add another line to this post.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dear sir,

I myself have found myself frustrated more than once by that particular door at the Rideau Shopping Centre. As it is the rightmost door in its section, practical experience dictates that it should swing open on the side closest to the door on its left. Nevertheless, this door swings open on the side closest to the wall. I have done the same thing as you, sir – pushing on the door’s left side only to realize, as I meet far more resistance than expected, that I was pushing on the side closest to the hinges.

Now, whenever this happens to me, it breaks up my stride a bit. I mean, I’ll be walking along at a certain pace and suddenly this door interrupts everything and I look just a little silly as I try to push open a door from the wrong side.

So, as you can see, I can definitely relate to the mild annoyance that this door can cause. One time, I was so annoyed at forgetting about this strangely-hinged door that I shook my head slightly. This head shake, of course, was more at myself and my own forgetfulness than the door itself. I mean, it’s a door. It’s an inanimate object that was installed by some well-meaning workers who were following the design specifications of some overtired architect. I will reiterate: this door is an inanimate object. This is a door, it cannot think, let alone hatch a malevolent conspiracy against a passerby. Here are things that doors can have in or on them: handles, knobs, hinges, panels, windows, knockers, signs, decorations, nails, grease-stains, small carvings of gargoyles, peep-holes, and nails. One thing you might notice about this list is that conspicuously missing is any mention of a soul, spirit, brain or intellect. Why? Because doors don’t have any of those things. By their very nature, doors are stupid.

I am not being insulting towards doors here. Even if doors could process the idea of stupidity, they would not care. Why? Because another thing doors don’t have is feelings. So it was with much bemusement that I witnessed your display aggression towards the door. You pushed the door from the wrong side and stumbled through.

At this point I thought you were just another well-dressed gentleman who, being fallible, had incorrectly surmised how to open this particular door. But no, you had to show me otherwise. You proceeded to turn and give the door withering glare. Then, with a display of outright hostility, you gave the door a vicious kick. I really shouldn’t have to say this, but there is no need to abuse or otherwise harass an object that is, by its very nature, without malice.

“Stupid door,” you muttered. This is true, of course. As mentioned previously, doors are stupid. Did the door care about your insult? No, the door did not care because, again, doors do not have feelings. Interestingly, the only element in your little interaction that did look stupid was yourself. You physically and verbally abused a door that remained entirely apathetic to your attack. While you were still swearing under your breath, the door was stoically swinging shut, completely emotionless and utterly unthinking.

So, in the future, if you should mistakenly push on the wrong side of the door don’t blame the door. Blame yourself and move on.


A witness.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The 1812 Bicentennial

2012 marks the bicentennial anniversary of the outbreak of the War of 1812. Journalists on both sides of the border seem to be busy with the academic equivalent of a hip hop feud: Who won the war? Whose heroes were best? Was Isaac Brock just a nancy-pants?

While Americans and Canadians puff up their chests and argue over whether Betsy Doyle or Laura Secord was more heroic or whether the burning of York (Toronto) was worse than the destruction of the U.S. White House, I feel that something important or, I should say, some important people are being forgotten.

Two of the common reasons cited for the breakout of the War of 1812 are the British Impressment of Americans into their navy and British restrictions on American trade with France (Britain, of course, was at war with Napoleon).

Passing mention is also given to the desire of Americans to expand into Indian territory and the support of the British to Indian resistance to this expansion. The British, of course, were not motivated by any noble motive of allowing the natives to keep their territories. Rather, it was a desire to have a buffer between British North America and the United States that moved them. Moreover, as the Americans pressed into Indian territory, they labelled the Indian fighting as aggression rather than as the resistance that it was.

Let's recap, shall we? Europeans arrive on America's shores. The natives they meet show them how to farm crops. Potatoes, corn, and squash enter the diets of Europeans. In fact, Europe's population swells with the influx of these new crops. Unfortunately, the First Nations people are hit extremely hard by European diseases and large swathes of agricultural land are depopulated. The Europeans move into the cleared lands and push the remaining inhabitants out. Europeans continue to encroach on native lands, wage brutal war against any that resist them, and refuse to offer the same rule of law to the natives in their territories that they do to themselves.

Fast forward, the confederated natives to the northwest of American settlement offer safe havens for escaping slaves, fleeing natives, and free-spirited whites. The natives are semi-autonomous and, before the outbreak of the War of 1812, have enough power to negotiate with both the British and the Americans.

These confederated tribes were key players in the War of 1812. They fought and died alongside the British troops and were integral to British North American fighting off American incursions into the British colonies. To their credit, the British included an article in the Treaty of Ghent calling for the end of hostilities between the Indians and the Americans and for protection of their former allies' lands. Unfortunately, citing the lack of unity among the Indian tribes, the Americans continued their incursion into native land.

Too often, I find, history writing does not give agency to the First Nations peoples. They are either the passive victims of rapacious Europeans or they are barely mentioned. Prior to the War of 1812, natives were key players in all of the major wars on the North American continent. After the War of 1812, they lost that power and continually ran into racism, violence, and repression in their attempts at free agency.

I think, rather than just trying to argue about who "won" this war, Canadians and Americans would be better served in remembering who lost: the indigenous people of North America. This is not a pleasant legacy to look into, but its ours, and we cannot move forward if we do not come to grips with our history in a meaningful way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

People I See on the Bus - The Sequel

The villain – As if any great villain would take public transportation, right? Wrong. This guy does. He is bald with an immaculately trimmed goatee. He is, without a doubt, the most snappishly dressed man I have ever seen on my bus. If I had to compare him to a villain from history, he would be a well-dressed Vladimir Lenin. If there were ever any doubt about how villainous this man is, he crooked his hands in front of himself yesterday. Crooked his hands.

Toupee man – He wears a toupee – on his head. I think he might be the villain’s sidekick.

Manute Bol – I only see him sometimes on my way home from work. Once I was sitting at the back of the bus looking down at all of the people at the bus stop and all of the sudden Manute Bol passed by at eye level. He is tall.

Girl lying to her friend - unless, of course, Natasha lives on the 95 Orleans - "I'm at Natasha's house right now."

Woman with severe mullet - It's bad. Still, she seems like a very warm individual - and that's a hard thing to pull off on public transportation.

The woman with the scalp-picking tic - She picks at the same spot on her scalp with her long fingernails every 10-20 seconds. I'm not sure why, but it irritates me beyond reason.

The most incredibly stinky human being I have ever had the misfortune of encountering
- I’ve smelled a lot of terrible smells in my life, but nothing has ever hit my olfactory centre with the screaming intensity of this woman’s unique stench. It was as if she had bathed in the collected sweat and putrescence gathered from Satan’s gangrenous armpit. I have sat beside a homeless man who smelled like wet socks and strong body odour for half an hour, I bore that smell with the stoicism of a samurai. With this woman, however, I was forced to retreat five seats backwards, and even then I smelt her. Every single person on the bus was holding a hand to their face. I am not exaggerating. There was a young girl who ran onto the bus, a picture of youthful innocence and joy. She plopped down in a seat directly across from this woman when, suddenly, all of the innocence and joy retreated from her face. It was if she had run face-first into a wall of ugliness, as if I were witnessing the death of innocence and youth. She staggered out of her seat, whirled around to the other side of her seated mother, and eyed the stinky woman with shell-shocked awe. The bus this happened on can save me five minutes some days if I time it right. I no longer risk it.

Prancing man – He lifts his legs like a Lipizzaner pony when he walks. It’s unnerving because I see all of this leg movement and he is only moving at a sauntering pace.

Woman who put on sunglasses and spent the rest of the trip staring at me - I can see your eyes, lady! It was a cloudy day, there was no need for sunglasses. No need. That was the most self-consciously I have ever read a book.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fred Herzog
Two Men in Fog
Ink Jet Print
19.75 x 30 in. image size
Edition of 20

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm not Such a Bad Guy

by Sauron, Guest Columnist

Yes, yes, I am that Sauron. I am the Dark Lord of Mordor, the one whose name should not be spoken, the Great Eye, yadda yadda yadda. I am, if you are to believe the words of that revisionist sycophant, Tolkien, a pretty evil guy.

Alright, I don’t necessarily blame Tolkien. After all, he really only had the word of that pathological liar of a hobbit, Bilbo, to go on. Really, how was he to know that halflings are habitual liars and truth-stretchers? I can’t blame Tolkien for believing those cutesy little curly-haired shit-disturbers. I mean, for example (and purely as an example from the top of my dome), everyone believes a cute little elven girl when she says that an ugly little Necromancer broke her favourite doll, chopped off all of its limbs, and melted the remains in a furnace. Whatever Illuvatar, I didn’t do it. I was busy making cool shit with Aule the smith.

Now, the central point of that entire soppy story of Tolkien’s is that I, Lord of Darkness that I am, was trying to regain control over the one ring. This pulp author waxes poetic through three giant volumes of prose littered with archaic words and flowery-ass songs about how I want to have my ring back. So what? If you slaved away for months on end making the perfect ring of power, wouldn’t you want it back? And don’t give me any of that finders- keepers crap, I made the ring and it is, therefore, my intellectual property. My very own sweet honeysuckle dewdrop intellectual precious.

Now, I realize that many of you might not be swayed by this. After all, the Lord of the Rings franchise has become quite a cultural phenomenon. It seems like an iron-clad, hard and fast rule that the Fellowship of the Ring = Good and Sauron and his friends = bad. Oh wait, I forgot, Sauron doesn’t have any friends; no, he only has minions. Do you know how much that hurts? Not only do I have to have my name besmirched as entirely evil, but I am not even permitted the dignity of having friends. No, I only have a bunch of slavering gross-looking creatures that serve me out of fear.

I admit that some of my associates are rather vile-looking, sure. But let’s be honest, in this superficial world of ours the job market is geared toward good looking folk. In the name of civil rights and equality of all, I set up my Mordor enterprise as an equal opportunity employer. As long as you have the right attitude, I am both willing and able to serve as your Lord. I would have even employed the hobbits, if they had not turned out to be such thieving little ingrates.

I want you to really think about it. Imagine that you invested years into creating a thing of unparalleled beauty and craftsmanship. Now imagine that some furry-footed little half-man came by, snatched that thing up, and threw it into a boiling pit of lava.

Wouldn’t you be upset? I mean, I’m just a floating lidless eye wreathed in fire, but I still have feelings. There was no Visine on Middle-Earth, let me tell you, and I’ve suffered for it. Now I have to deal with everyone thinking that I am some nefarious dark Lord bent on corruption, destruction, and the pursuit of limitless power.

I’m not a tyrant, I’m just a guy who wants his ring back.

Who deh?