Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Life's Velocity Unchecked

The past few Monday nights - and a few more ahead of us - have brought JediBoy and I to Kinsmen Arena for an hour or so. He spends the time sussing out any latent artistic ability in a cartooning class. I spend the time drinking horrid Concession coffee and reading Gibson's not-horrid Spook Country. All in all, it's a good opportunity for us both to get out of the house for awhile and do something fun and non-productive.

While Jediboy draws his elipses and caricatures in a relatively soundproofed 'community room' on the upper floor, I camp out on the nearby padded benches and filter out the sounds of Our National Pasttime being waged all around me. Inevitably, those sounds' contributors include a small gaggle of younger kids forced to amuse themselves while Mom, Dad, and Grandparents watch the older siblings chase pucks - dreams of a professional career secretly (and sometimes overtly) dancing before everyone's eyes.

In all, the whole thing works in a way that makes me glad to be Canadian. But this past Monday held something new in its cosy, arena-lined pocket. The usual gaggle of kids was predominently female with ages ranging from 6-ish to 10-ish. They gathered at a small table nearby with colouring supplies, chattering over top of each other. All of this was typical for our Monday nights.

All at once, they started singing in unison - perfect unison. Their song, Katy Perry's insufferable guilty pleasure, I Kissed A Girl. They knew all the words and actually sounded quite practised at singing this little ditty. The nearby parents cheered and clapped, which produced the inevitable encore performance.

I'm not a prude or Pollyanna by any measure. But it made me feel so genuinely sad - mere children with little scraps of their of innocence needlessly stolen away. Sometimes I question wether I've been too protective of my own kids, and sometimes I get an answer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Furry London

So off we went to our first cat show this weekend hosted by Pawsitive Paws Cat Club. Given Dee's allergies for most things furry and four-legged, we'd never dared to set foot inside such an event before. As it was JediBoy's birthday (one more teenager emerges from his pod) and this was a Formal Birthday Request, Dee popped some over-the-counter drugs and off we went to puruse the felines at the Carling Heights community center.
I'm not sure what I expected, but it was fun in a setting-foot-on-a-new-planet kind of way. While a bit on the small side, there were dozens and dozens of cats being shuffled about 4 or 5 judging rings. It was obvious that many of the cats were veterans of the Cat Show Circuit - judging from their bored expressions and lack of discernable bone structure as their officious-looking owners carried them to wherever they needed to be.
There were a few of us rubbernecker types trudging up and down the aisles, checking out the hoipoloi of the cat world. But the majority in attendance were serious about these things. The fans tended to be on the elderly side while the breeders tended towards middle-aged couples. In all, the whole vibe was reminiscent of gathering of CB-radio enthusiasts I attended with my cousin way back in the late 70's - normal people with abnormal fixations on a hobby-cum-lifestyle. It was all very charming, actually.
And did I mention they were serious? The judging rings mystified me in the way that polo and cricket mystify me. I get the point of everything, just not the rules. All the same, it was cool to watch - the people moreso than the cats.
The only disappointment was the sparse number of cat breeds. While there was the odd Sphinx (weird) and Maine Coon (huge), the majority of cat-thletes were Persians - a lovely cat for sure, but one eventually gets tired of their flat faces and anxiously-bored expressions. And nowhere did we spy any Siberians - a breed dear to our own household.
And at that, I open the floor to comments on feline slang nomenclature and its overlap with human anatomy colloquialisms.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dear Jack....

Think me as a first-time caller and long-time listener. Over the years I've developed a not-insubstantial dollop of respect for you - as a politician and leader of the federal NDP. While relegated as the '3rd man' in election after election, I have to admire how you've maintained your earnestness for the job, your sense of justice and empathy for us common schmucks. It's gotta be tough to have your electoral butt handed to you time after time and still look like you care. And I always thought you did - care, that is.

Now, I'm going to be honest with you, Jack. I'd never vote for the federal NDP - not in a million years. I once voted for Bob Rae and.... you get the picture. Like frumpy old Ed Broadbent before you, Jack, you've always been the right guy in the wrong party for my tastes.

But not anymore. Not after this election. You've seen Stornoway within your reach and it's changed you, man. You've become.... a politician. You talk and you talk and nonsense comes out of your mouth - dangerous nonsense. You're going to tax the big bad corporations and share the spoils: national childcare, national eldercare, more manufacturing jobs. Okay, I get that. I really do. It's the standard NDP mantra, right? Make the rich pay, pump up social spending, subsidize the CAW. I get it.

But what's this stuff you're saying about saving our mortgages, saving our insurance companies, solving our banking crisis, fixing the stock market, saving the manufacturing sector? I don't get it. To hear you speak in the last few weeks, Canadians have become extras in a remake of The Grapes of Wrath. Our clothes are torn and dirty, our faces are sullen and hollow-eyed. We're living on the streets, wandering the dustbowl, and everything is devoid of colour. Sack cloth and ashes, Jack?

What world is this? Who are you talking about, Jack? Where's our banking crisis? I don't get it - and neither do you. You know you're talking nonsense in a time when intelligent, thoughtful leadership is sorely needed. There is no Canadian banking crisis - far from it. There is no Canadian mortgage meltdown. You cannot 'fix' the stockmarket with a stroke of NDP legislation. That stuff might play well in the Union Hall, but it's not helpful and, frankly, it makes you look stupid.

So, Jack, why don't you talk about the stuff that really matters? You want to blast the other parties for a lack of manufacturing strategy? Fine. That's cool. But let's hear your ideas, man. Let's have a really honest discussion about the fact that China and Mexico and the Southern US are taking those jobs because they can do them cheaper. They're not coming back anytime soon. Hey! Let's talk about global warning in an honest way, too (and this goes for Mssrs. Harper and Dion and Mme. May). Let's stop pretending that economic sanctions are going to solve the problem. They won't - at least not by themselves. These are hard things to talk about. They won't be solved in a single term - maybe not in a generation.

In short, Jack, shut the fuck up and stop being a prick. It's not helpful. It's just annoying. Please grow up.



Saturday, October 04, 2008

So Close to 'Cute'

I wandered into one of the last remaining actual 'stores' in Galleria Mall this week (is it still called a mall?). You know, the one that sells end-of-the-line stuff that The Dollar Store and Giant Tiger can't move out the door. Anyhoo, I wandered through their major-league Hallowe'en section and found this almost-adorable Cow costume. It made me feel sad inside - sad for the Chinese manufacturer who almost grasps English, sad for the parent who'll smile at the gently-comical 'joke', and sad for the tyke who'll never realize why it doesn't quite work.

And then I felt a little angry at the pricks like me who'll smile and chuckle for all the wrong reasons.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Am I Famous Now?

Apparently, my little corner of the wankosphere has some street cred. Yep, one raised eyebrow from ol' Crazylegs can move products out the door. We're setting the trend here. We're this year's model. We are the It Factor.

Feast your eyes on a little something that arrived in the mailbox today:


I'm the webmaster of http://www.pinhole-glasses.com/I
wanted to know if by any chance you would be interested in doing an unbiased
review of our site http://www.pinhole-glasses.com/ on
your blog http://theater-of-cruelty.blogspot.com/

If you agree you can choose between receiving a product sample or
receiving a payment.
If you choose the product sample instead of the payment
the sample is yours to keep and you don’t need to send it back.

The product sample that you can get is 1 pair of pinhole glasses and
you can see it there: http://www.pinhole-glasses.com/howitworks.htm

Please let me know if you are interested.

Thank you

Z. R

Buck up, all you little folks. I won't forget my humble roots.