Sunday, October 31, 2004

Good Advices: Halloween Edition

Not a lot of guys try to rock the "sexy black cat" costume at Halloween, but it's well worth your while. Not only is it cheap to pick up the ears/tail/bowtie kit and put together a black outfit (I recycled my WMD costume from last year by turning the shirt inside out), but biology dictates that the male must exist to help the females propagate the species. And yet you're pretty likely to be the only tomcat at your Halloween party among a whole litter of pretty kittycats (at the Halloween party I was at this year, for example, there were four female cats and a girl dressed as the Cat in the Hat), so they ought to be catfighting over you. Also, make sure your costume isn't quite complete, because it's pretty easy to get one of the girls to offer to draw some whiskers on you with an eyebrow pencil. And last, be sure to make it known that you haven't been neutered.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Quick tip: Easily convert any witch costume to an Abu Ghraib prisoner oufit

Looking for a last-minute Halloween costume? In the same spirit that motivated me last year to dress in black with the words "Weapons of Mass Destruction" written across my chest and hide behind things, Dan Savage and David Schmader bring you 2004's Scariest Halloween costumes.

Yeah, Dan Savage, the sex columnist. What? You think everything he writes has to be about coprophilia or Ashton Kutcher bukkake fantasies?

Friday, October 29, 2004

After I said this, this girl let me thrust a big phallic object at her repeatedly

After a layoff of nearly a decade, I started fencing again tonight, at a club only a short walk from my house.

"This is Peter," the club president told everyone. "He used to fence at Queen's University about ... nine years ago?"

"Eight or nine," I agreed.

"Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth," she continued.

"My skills are also extinct," I added.

"Anyway, he lives in the neighborhood, so he had to join," she concluded.

"Well, I didn't have to," I said. "I wanted to. I didn't feel obligated to join just because I live close by. And it's not like I was worrying that I'd better brush up on my dueling skills in case I got jumped by a roving pack of you foil fencers outside my house."

Laughter. But now I wonder: Was this a joke? Was I ever safe after all?

Moral: For mutual protection, join your local fencing club at the nearest opportunity. Failing that, join a street gang.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ideas for better living

If I ever buy a parrot, I'm going to go get one from Québec. Because I don't think I could learn much of anything from any English bird, but I've always wanted to learn to speak French.

Even if I don't learn anything else, I'd probably be able to go into a really fancy restaurant and order a cracker.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ew! Gross!

Here's a sign that maybe I'm no longer the small-town boy I once was:

Last night, I was on the subway, and there were two well-dressed guys sitting across from me, one in a seat, and the other in front of him on the floor. As we reached my stop, the guy on the floor stood up, then leaned in and kissed the other guy on the lips.

My immediate reaction: Ew! Gross! That guy was sitting on the dirty subway floor!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I like telemarketers

Actually, I don't like telemarketers -- they're the reason I have caller ID -- but I do like messing with them. Here's the conversation I've been having lately with the ones who manage to get through to me:
Telemarketer: Is Mr. or Mrs. Lynn there?

Me (angrily): No! Thank God!

Telemarketer: Er ... do you know when they will be home?

Me: Never, I hope!

Hints at a little family drama, and usually gets them flustered. Next time, I'm going to try saying, "Listen -- I really don't feel comfortable doing this over the phone. Can we meet somewhere?" I'll bet that weirds them out too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Living and Loving: The Steve Nash Story

I just was checking out the comics in my housemate's campus paper, the Ryerson Eyeopener, and I can safely say they're all crap. Just painfully unfunny.

Except this one. For some reason, I love this one. And the previous installments are a guilty pleasure too.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Is it Saturday Night Live or Saturday Night Memorex?

I just saw something interesting on Saturday Night Live: The show came back from commercial to join musical guest Ashlee Simpson, who was starting her second performance of the night (although, unusually, she hadn't been introduced by the show's guest host, Jude Law). After a couple of lines, the volume of the vocal track faded out. She danced a little idiotic jig for a while, wandered around looking confused and embarrassed for a few seconds, then left the stage. Her band vamped for a few more seconds, and then the show abruptly cut back to commercial. Lip synching trouble?

Update: At the end of the show, she claimed the problem was that her band had started playing the wrong song. Could be. It's not like I can tell one Ashlee Simpson song from another.

Further Update:
Ashlee Simpson in a recent Lucky magazine interview:
LM: What are your takes on lip-synching?

AS: I'm totally against it and offended by it. I'm going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me.
Well, then. That settles that. I guess I didn't see what I thought I did after all.

Or did I? You can see fans going nuts about this on her message board, the NBC message boards, or on the fansite forum, or you can read about it in the New York Daily News, but better yet, you can check out the video of the incident here. I should point out that the vocals seemed to catch her off-guard as they came on, as her microphone was down by her hip, and she quickly had to snap it up to her mouth.

Classy move for her to blame her band, though. By all accounts, they were indeed plugged in live and tried like hell to save her by switching over from the song they were supposed to be playing to the one whose vocals were actually broadcasting (apparently, the same one she'd "sung" in her first performance -- as I said, I can't tell them apart and didn't pay much attention to the first performance anyway).

I guess this is what SNL deserves for whoring itself out to push untalented prefab pop acts whose record labels are owned by the same parent company (Ashlee is on Geffen, which is owned by Vivendi/Universal, which merged with NBC last year). I hope Elton John throws another anti-lip-synching hissy-fit about this one.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The very best Canadians, brought to you by the very worst ones

The folks at the CBC have been running a poll to determine the 100 greatest Canadians. They shouldn't have. The poll doesn't say much at all about the quality of the Canadians being nominated, but it says a hell of a lot about the quality of the Canadians doing the voting.

Let me explain: Sir Wilfrid Laurier comes in at only #43. This is a man whom noted historians Jack Granatstein and Norman Hillmer rank as one of only three great prime ministers of Canada, reflecting a nearly unanimous view among historians. The first francophone leader of the country, and one who bridged the gap between the the French- and English-speaking peoples of Canada. The guy who brought Alberta and Saskatchewan into Confederation, and who led Canada into the 20th century. The guy with a university and numerous schools named after him. If we had a Mount Rushmore, he'd be on it.

So guess who comes in at #40, beating Laurier by three spots? Avril Lavigne. Somehow, the acoomplishments of the sk8er grrl from Napanee already outstrip those of the guy on the five dollar bill.

Coming in one slot ahead of her is Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Hey, I've always liked the guy. And I have to admit, he's held more WWF World Championship belts than Sir Wilfrid or just about anyone else on the list. But he's simply not even close to being the 39th best Canadian there ever is, there ever was, or there ever will be.

But you know who, at #34, is an even greater Canadian than both Lavigne and the Hitman -- or, for that matter, WWI flying ace Billy Bishop (#48), Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery (#57), or co-discoverer of insulin Charles Best (#77)?

Some idiot DJ at Winnipeg's Power 97 radio station.

But I guess as long as you're a self-promoting ego case with a microphone and scores of moronic fans willing to fire off e-mail after e-mail to electronically stuff the ballot box, that makes you a greater Canadian than the woman who ranks just behind you on this list, Laura Secord. After all, what did she ever do for Canada besides lend her name to a line of delicious chocolates and -- oh yes -- hike barefoot 32 kilometres through swamps, dense woods, and cliffs, risking attack by wild animals, hostile Indians, and enemy troops in order to provide crucial warning of an imminent American invasion?

I've always been in favor of getting rid of the monarchy in Canada, but now I'm not so sure. I think perhaps we need to strengthen it. Let Queen Elizabeth II rule over us by direct fiat -- the real one, or the Scott Thompson version of her, or whatever. Just give us a despot. Take the vote away from Canadians. By voting Shania Twain (#18) a greater Canadian than the Unknown Soldier (#21), they've proven they just don't deserve it. They've proven that even in what I'd always thought of as a reasonably enlightened and intelligent nation, democracy doesn't work.

Fuck you, my Canada. You blew it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Waving Old Gloryhole

Here's right-wing nutjob Pat Buchanan on homosexuality:
"To some of us, homosexuality is an affliction, like alcoholism, and hellishly difficult to control. Why some folks can take or leave alcohol -- while others can enjoy it in moderation, and others cannot stop drinking without help and must swear off it for life or it will kill them -- remains a mystery of nature. Homosexuality seems to be like that."
Is he saying what I think? That there's nothing wrong with enjoying a little light social homosexuality -- it just becomes a problem if you get hooked on it?

That's a surprisingly moderate view, for Buchanan. It's practically an endorsement, in fact. My theory: Pat's doctor advised him that, like alcohol, having one small homosexual encounter every day is good for the heart.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Concert roundup

It’s been an active week on the local music scene (local meaning “me”). I’ve been to three concerts in one week, and I even squeezed in a visit back home for Thanksgiving. But you don’t want to hear about all that. It’s all about the music, man.

Brian Wilson
Wednesday, October 6
Massey Hall, Toronto ON

It’s nothing short of a miracle that Brian Wilson has finished up his legendary album Smile, that it lives up to 37 years' worth of hype, and that he's performing it onstage. Too bad about the jackass who managed to spoil it for me. I had a fantastic seat in the fourth row, but unfortunately, this character had a slightly better seat – right in front of me. Picture a pudgy guy in a Grateful Dead T-shirt with a sad little ponytail stretched over his bald spot. Then make his neck hairier. Go on. No, hairier than that. Sticking right out of his shirt. There. Gross, isn't he?

He actually started out sitting one seat to the left of the empty one in front of me, and annoyingly, he stretched out his hairy arm across the back of the seat in front of me, right in my field of vision. The seat bottoms pull forward and this mechanism reclines the backrest by a bit, so I sharply kicked the bottom of the seat forward and his arm suddenly dropped a few inches. But he left it there. Until showtime, that is, when both his hands were required for clapping, usually at double the rate of the song’s actual beat, and often above his head, blocking my view. Moving over in front of me, he weaved his whole body back and forth through my field of view, kind of “rocking out”. At one point, he was dancing some kind of shoegazer version of the Twist. A couple of times, he raised his lighter into the air, and once he hailed Brian with a double devil-horns sign. That’s right, the devil horns. For Brian Wilson. The guy who held prayer meetings during the making of Pet Sounds. We’re not exactly talking about Megadeth or Slayer here.

The dork got so irritating that I nearly grabbed him by the ponytail, yanked him back down in his seat, and hissed, “If you don’t settle down, you’re not going to make it to hear ‘Vegetables’ without becoming one!” (Beach Boys fans would get that threat.) But I just settled for preventing him from shaking his whole row with his headbanging by pressing his foot against the back of his seat so firmly that it didn’t have any give.

The show itself was fine. The string section was actually a highlight. Since they don't always have stuff to do, they get to play with props and ham it up a lot. And they're a cute bunch of Swedes. I think Brian missed a good opportunity for a Smile in-joke by not calling them the Swedish Frogs. (If you don't get that, well, I did say it was an in-joke.)

Funny thing about Brian – he mimes his lyrics very literally. For example, he’ll sing, “Out in the barnyard, the cook is chopping lumber” while making a chopping motion with his hand. Or while singing the lyric, “Eat a lot, sleep a lot, brush ‘em like crazy,” he’ll mime forking food into his mouth, then cover his eyes, then scrub in front of his mouth with a finger. He’d make a good children’s entertainer, like Raffi.

Saturday, October 9
Massey Hall, Toronto ON

Back to Massey Hall again … if only it were so easy. The venue is about a 15-minute subway ride from my house, which is in the east end of Toronto, so it ought to have been easy to get there by the 8:00 p.m. scheduled start time. However, at 7:00, before I’d even gotten showered or dressed, I realized in horror that – holy Jesus fuck! – I’d left my ticket at work – in Mississauga, the neighboring city to the west, about an hour’s commute away. I jumped into the shower, then into my pants, and then ran out the door. I ran to the bank machine, then over to the subway. I stood there waiting for the train a couple of minutes – oh shit oh shit oh shit! – then rode all the way out west to Islington station, fretting about whether or not I’d be able to get into my office with only my electronic key fob. It being about 8:00 at this point, I grabbed a cab, rode up to work, had the cabbie leave the meter running, got into the building, ran upstairs, grabbed my ticket, ran back down, jumped into the cab, then rode back to the station. There, I jumped on a train immediately, rode down to Bloor and Yonge, sprinted for my connecting train, and ran to Queen station. From there, I ran up Yonge St. to Massey Hall, got through the door, climbed up about four flights of stairs, and sat down literally as the band went on at 9:00 p.m. I didn’t miss a single second of the show. Thank god that these bands don’t seem to ever go onstage on time.

I didn’t actually get to sit in my seat, because the woman who had the seat beside me was so grotesquely obese that she filled both her seat and mine. She ought to have bought two seats, in all fairness. Fortunately, I just got bumped up to the seat in front of the one I should have been in. Of course, it was still a shitty seat – second balcony, behind a pole, but I was just glad to be there. Even if the $40 cab ride had cost me almost as much as the face value of the ticket, it would have still cost far more to go to a scalper and buy another ticket.

The band had skipped the soundcheck, and there was some unintentional feedback in the first couple of songs, not that I could tell it wasn’t on purpose, given the band’s recent musical direction. Jeff Tweedy did put an excruciatingly long sonic representation of a migraine headache on the latest album, after all. To make up for this, he vowed to play an extra long set, and they did go quite a while. Pretty good on the whole, but it didn’t match the first time I saw them, at Convocation Hall in 2002.

Morrissey (with the Dears)
Tuesday, October 12
Hummingbird Centre, Toronto ON

This time, I arrived in plenty of time – too early, in fact. So, to kill time, I stopped by the McDonald’s in Union Station and ate a Big Mac combo, knowing full well how much it would offend Morrissey, whose old band once released an album called Meat Is Murder. Sure enough, during the show, he was his animal-loving self, demanding to know why we Canadians put up with the clubbing of baby seals. We don’t care! I didn’t shout back. Just sing the songs, Hairdo!

While I think it’d be an amusing change of pace if it would happen to, say, bassist Gary Day once in a while, no less than 52 fans had invaded the stage to hug, kiss, or otherwise manhandle Morrissey by the end of the show. Of these, my favorite was #21, a cute girl who demurely walked up to him with her shoulder bag tucked neatly under her arm, politely kissed him on the cheek, and then returned to the audience unhurriedly before security managed to reach her. Very classy as far as stage invasions go, and she actually got a round of applause. While some of the others kind of knocked Morrissey around, it’s apparently all right with him. For one thing, it’s obvious that the security guards are under orders to let each fan actually reach him for a token handshake even after being intercepted (albeit under escort) before being removed from the stage. And for another, if he really wanted to put an end to stage invasions, he’d play behind a chain-link fence like Jeff Healey in Roadhouse.

Great show overall. The Dears were plainly excited to be opening for one of their major influences. Mozzer was charismatic, and he had his name up behind him in giant neon letters like Elvis. That’s pretty much what being a rock star is all about.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Our Dark Lord Jesus

Submitted for your approval: Any prayer becomes funnier if you insert the words "Our Dark Lord" before any instance of "Jesus". For example:
Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Our Dark Lord Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.

I believe that your only begotten Son, Our Dark Lord Jesus Christ, shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.

You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Our Dark Lord Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.

Right now I confess Our Dark Lord Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Our Dark Lord Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Our Dark Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.

Thank you, Our Dark Lord Jesus, for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you, Our Dark Lord Jesus, that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore, Lord Our Dark Lord Jesus, transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.

Thank you, Our Dark Lord Jesus, for dying for me and giving me eternal life.

Well, maybe it's not that much more amusing. But I still like doing it.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

From the Cheney/Edwards debate last night:
EDWARDS: The vice president, I'm surprised to hear him talk about records. When he was one of 435 members of the United States House, he was one of 10 to vote against Head Start, one of four to vote against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors.

He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

If the debate had been Street Fighter (and I wish that they would settle this sort of thing through some sort of personal combat) that flurry would have been a six-hit combo that would have drained Cheney's energy bar and scored Edwards a flawless victory for the round. In real life, Cheny didn't actually die, but his political career might have -- he just had no comebacks for any of these savage body blows.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Almighty Dollar

Someone left the TV tuned to BET in the gym this morning. BET is generally awful, being full of rump-shaking bling-bling videos and hack comics who not only work blue, but pander shamelessly to the audience with lines like, “Y’all like sex?” But before you dismiss this as Old Man Lynn just shaking his cane, what was on this morning was much worse: a televangelist.

It’s hard enough to sit through a sermon, but being forced to watch one while running on a treadmill is a whole new form of punishment. I suppose I could have changed the channel, but it would have required getting off the treadmill, finding the remote, and figuring out how the satellite TV works. But more than that, I was too transfixed by disgust at this character onscreen.

He combined my favorite parts of BET by having the physique of hack comic Steve Harvey combined with the glassy-eyed stare of hip-hop mumbler (and fellow minister) Ma$e. And just like Ma$e, he turns out to have a dollar in his name, which is Creflo A. Dollar. It’s an especially untrustworthy surname for a televangelist, and while I’ve never heard the name “Creflo”, judging by his very expensive suit and his opulent surroundings, I’m guessing that it means “gimme”. He so reeked of corruption that I wasn’t sure if he was worshiping Jesus or Mammon.

I couldn’t hear what he was saying because the TV was muted, but I had to know more, so I looked him up later. And guess what? Apparently he’s just as much of a scumbag as he seems to be even when you just watch him with the sound turned off. According to this, his ministry is arguably a cult. He leads by charisma, though his followers aren’t allowed to touch him — if they do, his divine anointedness may rub off. Essentially turning preaching into investment advice, he essentially teaches that God will give you money in return for your tithing 10% of your income to Creflo Dollar’s World Changer’s Church International. (Fail to tithe, however, and not only will you be ostracized from Dollar’s church, but the Devil will wreck your car or do something similar to bring you misery.) Dollar says it’s essential to look the part for his followers to find his message of prosperity credible, which justifies the expensive suits and his traveling by Rolls Royce and Lear jet.

He also apparently teaches that we are all as gods ourselves — that anyone (say, Creflo Dollar, just to throw a name out there) is as divine as Jesus himself. This is funny, because Dollar also has a section on his website warning of the Antichrist that quotes scripture saying that “he will exalt himself as God.” Of course, Dollar also throws in a bit about how the Antichrist won’t be interested in women, which should forestall any accusations, since his wife has a large role in his ministry.

Don’t flatter yourself, Dollar. Nobody’s accusing you of being the Antichrist. You’re just a con-man in a flash suit.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Down-filled downer

I forget -- are quirky human-interest stories supposed to make you feel good or bad? The quote from a satisfied customer in this excerpt from a news article about human-shaped pillows somehow manages to take it into the realm of the mildly upsetting.

In Japan, women can doze with man pillow

Nagareyama, Japan -- After a long night at work as a radio DJ, Junko Suzuki likes to snuggle at bedtime -- and she says she's found the perfect partner: a man-shaped pillow.

Linen maker Kameo Corp.'s new "Boyfriend's Arm Pillow" -- which consists of a headless torso and a stuffed arm that curls around the sleeper -- might make some people uneasy.

For Suzuki, who is estranged from her husband, the pillow has definite advantages: It doesn't squirm or thrash in the night, and you know it'll be there in the morning.

"It keeps holding me all the way through," she said in her home outside of Tokyo. "I think this is great because this does not betray me."

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