Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today I'd like to talk to you about some of the greatest inventions since the polio vaccine.

1) The Bubble Machine. It's amazing what a little technology, water and dishwashing detergent can do for a mood. I bet if I set up a bubble machine right here in the agency, there's no telling what joy could abound.

2) The Critter Raincoat. Take one adorable two year old and the bubble machine above, and match both with a bumble bee raincoat and there's only one word for it. Bliss. Or maybe it's "blizz", if you're speaking bumble bee. Why is it that they stop making critter raincoats at a certain size? I think a rainy commute would be a whole lot more fun if I was decked out in yellow and black stripes.

3) The waffle cone. Ice cream is delicious in any receptacle -- from cup to cone to licked straight out of the container, but there's nothing that beats the freshly made waffle cone. So what that it contains your yearly fat content? So what that you're full and half sick before you've eaten half of it. The waffle cone signals to everyone in sight that you're here for a good time....and probably not a long time, if you keep eating that way.

4) The Celebrity Autobiography. Okay, I know it's not an invention, but it's a segway into my latest guilty pleasure. Don't judge me, but I'm reading Melissa "Half Pint" Gilbert's book and I can't put it down. It's packed with dirt from the Brat Pack generation -- Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Demi Moore and the crazy shenananigans at Studio 54. Even Michael Jackson makes an appearance. I know you're dying to borrow it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Good Lovelies

One of the rewards of volunteering this weekend (outside running with the Dykes on Bikes, of course) was a front seat for a performance of these three lovely ladies. So, when inspiration fails, I give you their version of Lie Down.


This just in, and more than a little ironic after volunteering in the drug and alcohol free zone. Here's my horoscope for today.

Sobriety and stability
You are satisfied with reliable, stable relationships at this time and do not make unrealistic demands on others. You recognize that your loved ones are human, and you ask only that they live up to their obligations and you will do the same in return. This is a good time to discuss any problems that may have arisen with a relationship, because your sense of reality is strong and you can be objective. Relationships that begin under this influence are characterized by sobriety and stability. They may not be demonstrative, but there is a steadiness of feeling that enables them to survive when others fail. Often such a relationship occurs because of practical rather than romantic considerations, but this does not weaken it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I invented a new word to describe our garbage strike.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Perfect Pitch

I'm pitching this morning. If you're reading this, would you mind sending up a good thought for me to the Universe. Much obliged.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Lunacy of Politic Correctness

Apologies if you're a deaf two-spirited intersex dyke. 

I'm pretty sure Pride has lost its marbles this year.  At volunteer training, we were presented with the following acronym: LGBTTIQQ2S.

In case you're on the edge of your seat wondering what that stands for, its: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning and two-spirited.

It's not just Gay Pride. It's not even Lesbian and Gay Pride. It's anyone who has ever had a queer thought in their head!

Questioning?! I'll say questioning. Questioning what radical politicos thought they were doing anyone any favours by including every tiny little subset of homo goodness under the giant Pride umbrella.

Why don't we just call it the No Straight People Pride? It'd certainly be easier to remember. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Be careful what you wish for

That's the last time I put it out there that I like to give my opinion on things. I got interviewed live on CablePulse 24 on Saturday.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Friday, June 19, 2009


When telemarketers call and ask if anyone in my house works in advertising, I lie and say no, because I like to give my opinion.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life according to Disney

Whenever I feel like unintentionally torturing my fabulous friend J, I mention either a) Dumbo's mother imprisoned in the mad elephant tent or b) "Don't turn around, Bambi. Don't turn around."

In the week it takes her to pull herself together, I can go through her purse and steal all its contents.

So many of our impressionable young minds got their first jolt of life's cold reality in a movie theatre where, in between sticking Milk Duds up our noses, we had our first real experience of death and disappointment.

Enter UP. 

Spoiler Alert. 

If you haven't seen it yet, you may not want to hear some of the finer points.

Suffice to say that it's brilliantly and heartbreakingly done in a "It's a Wonderful Life" kind of way.  

In between cute dog and squirrel jokes, and some of the best art direction I've seen in a long time, it's full of social commentary, about the impact a single life can have, of paving paradise and putting up a parking lot, about how our aging population is often imprisoned in old age homes while they still have plenty to contribute to society, and how two parent families are less the norm and more the exception. 

I marvelled at the perceived marketing risks Disney took here --  in a brief but extremely moving scene showing a couple's heartbreak after a miscarriage and in showing a husband's grief after his lifelong  companion is gone,. It deftly broke down barriers of age (Ed Asner voices "Carl") and race (wilderness explorer Russell is Asian...but his ethnicity rightly doesn't figure into the story line at all).

While this sounds serious, the movie decidedly is not. That's why it's so brilliant. It's funny, uplifting, quirky and ridiculous. 

If you're done, I guarantee it: you'll love UP.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's up with that?

Apparently an Italian woman who missed the Air France flight that went down over the Atlantic a couple of weeks ago, died in a car crash in Austria.

She and her husband arrived at the airport late and missed the plane.

The woman flew to Germany the next day and, instead of taking a connecting flight, she rented a car with her husband to drive the distance to her home. Probably too afraid too fly. On the drive through Austria, their vehicle swerved into the opposite lane, hitting a truck.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Doors Open, Toronto

There's a guy who routinely stands outside the Tim Hortons near my office and opens the door for patrons.

This seems to be his "job". 

He's often joined by one or two others who might sit on a pop crate nearby, lounge against the wall, or take up residence in a nearby doorway. They're his support staff.

The door opener greets everyone who enters and leaves the building. He usually holds a coffee cup -- empty -- which he holds out for donations. 

He's not too aggressive about it.

He's been doing this job for months now. He stood guard all through the winter. So the coffee shop regulars know him. 

Many of them -- particularly the women -- know him by name. In fact, he's taken to peppering his door opening with the odd acknowledgement of a new hairstyle, a spiffy new outfit or a "everything ok, you look glum?"

I vacillate wildly as to what I think of this.

I'm not prone to giving money to people on street unless they're "participating in their own development" -- so I might, for example, give to someone who is selling the Outreach, because I know they need to purchase it, in order to sell it. 

So the door opener would fall into this category, I guess. He's found a niche, and he's filling it.

But the thing is: I don't really want him to open the door for me. I'd really prefer to open the door myself. 

So, in this regard, the door opener is more like kids who rush out at a red light to try to clean your car windows. 

In the world of marketing, we call this the "up front premium". It's delivering a product or service first, and then expecting to be compensated later -- witness the proliferation of address labels, personalized note pads and Christmas cards that are stuffed into your mailbox.

And there's another thing. 

Unlike many of the folks who have befriended the door opener, I'm not really interested in developing a relationship with him. Or at least this kind of relationship. It seems disingenuous. Like I have a "pet" homeless person.

Feeling like I'm doing something for this homeless guy doesn't make me feel any better about homelessness in Toronto, in general.

Maybe I need to drink less coffee and stop thinking so much.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What I did for love

Old William Shakespeare loved the whole play within a play convention. It's as old as time. Older than me, even. But it's great when someone finds an entirely fresh take on it.

I saw Every Little Step this weekend. It's about the musical A Chorus Line. 

The film harkens back to the source of the original play -- a late night meeting between Tony-winning Broadway choreographer Michael Bennett and a group of performers (the original tape still exists) -- then weaves that story into the casting of the 2005 revival of the play.

So the play is about the casting of a play, and we're watching a film about the casting of a play about the casting of a play. 

It's less complicated than it sounds and it's absolutely spellbinding. 

Over the eight months it takes to cast the play, you become deeply invested in the lives of the gypsies who choose to make their living on Broadway. It's tenderly told and heartbreaking in points. 

For anyone working in a creative industry who puts themselves out there on a consistent basis, you can't help but feel their vulnerability. 

You cheer for those who get it and despair for those who don't.

Bring tissue...and your jazz hands.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Near, far, wherever you are

One of my favourite stories involves a friend travelling through Outer Mongolia. They were in a beat-up VW combi van. 

Quite literally in the middle of nowhere, the front seat passenger decided to try to find a radio station. She turned on the radio, fiddled with the knob, and what was the first song she heard? The theme from Titanic.

I tell you this story as part explanation, part confession and part cautionary tale that I spent two hours watching the Celine docudrama on CBC television last night.  

The show documented Celine Dion's birth in Charlemagne, PQ, her rise to fame, and her lifelong love affair with Rene Angelil. 

It was dopey and riveting -- and the guilty thrill I experienced watching it was not unlike watching the two-part docudrama called "Love Can Build a Bridge" that  detailed the life and career of The Judds and that I devoted a couple of evenings to a few years ago. 

I'm so ashamed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hello World

Well, I managed (only narrowly, I might add) to avoid getting head butted by a hippo. I also managed to make it through the entire trip without once succumbing to any kind of intestinal mambo. It appears that the cast iron stomach so carefully honed in the back woods of Kenya many years ago, still serves me well.

I've been suspiciously silent since my return from Zambia.

Part of it is trying to process what was honestly one of the best and most transformative trips I've had in awhile. I guess I've been a little overwhelmed by the thought of writing about it in its entirety.

So some highlights:

1) She liked the dress! Hail to the Biffi. Against all odds, but with the collective gay wisdom of the ages in my favour, the Prom was a success and more tears and fisticuffs were avoided. More than this, she teetered around on her three inch heels for the entire night without complaint.

2) Never underestimate the power of Kraft Dinner to turn you into the favourite house guest of the under 10 crowd.

3) I made a pact with God. Let the last thing I see, before I close my eyes for good, be the big, African night sky with it's incredible wattage of twinkling stars.

4) If you could only see what a simple water pump, along with the skills to fix and maintain it, can do for a village -- from improving children's health, to ensuring that more girls remain in school, to improving the buildings that are constructed in its vicinity -- you would make a gift to your nearest international development agency right now.

5) Everyone should try being the only person of a certain colour for miles around once in their life.

6) Children in other countries consider education the greatest privilege they can be given.

7) In making a point of doing things that scare me, I did a 14 km hike through dense African bush with only a guide, a gun bearer and a tea guy for company. See previous point about narrowly avoiding the head butt.

8) Best cookie name: Eet sum more.

9) Best insecticide name: DOOM.

10) Who's in for a trip to Italy? One of my old NGO pals has bought and lovingly restored a Tuscan farmhouse that will give you a view of the moountains and a Medieval castle, in the Rome-Florence corridor. It sleeps 9 and you can arrange for a cook to come each night. My Zambia pals visited last year and gained 6 pounds in a week. The cook, she's good.