- How to Live Better A Guide to Wedding Season Etiquette
- Money Matters Are American Flights Really Cheaper Than Canadian Ones?
- Books All I Write Are Love Songs
- How to Live Better Welcome to Rob Ford’s Nirvana
- Politics I Voted: Give Me a Prize
- Thoughts & Feelings The Time I Retired for a Month to See What It Was Like
Summer is upon us, and with the increasingly warm weather comes beach volleyball, Frisbee golf, barbeques, and making excuses to lie in front of an oscillating fan all day instead of participating in outdoor activities. It’s the season for being outside, picnics at the park, chillaxing, and keeping your toenails trimmed.
It’s also the season for weddings. Indoor, outdoor, church, destination — they come in all shapes and sizes, and range in levels of formality and degrees of tolerated raucousness. Some weddings kick off with Chris Brown and end only when the reception venue finally gives the boot to all the drunk straggler guests. Others require floor length dresses, tuxedos, and decorum.
Regardless of what kind of wedding you’re attending this summer, there are a few things you must do, a few niceties you must attend to. Here’s how to be an exceptional guest this wedding season:
Before you do anything else, you need to RSVP, which means you must REMEMBER to RSVP. RSVP-ing isn’t hard. Usually, all you have to do is go to the wedding’s custom website and follow a few simple prompts.
No problem, right? Here’s the thing — you’ll forget to do it. You’ll get the invitation in the mail, stick it on your fridge, mark the date on your calendar, then forget to inform the happy couple that you intend to show up. The RSVP date will come and go, and you’ll not even think about it until weeks later when you see the bride-to-be at a function (possibly her bridal shower) and she awkwardly reminds you that you’ve neglected to confirm your attendance at her wedding. Don’t ask her if she can take your verbal assertion as an RSVP. Go home, go to the website, and do it properly. No excuses. You’re a grownup after all. Continue Reading →
From the Vancouver Sun:
In a report to be released Thursday, the coalition denounces the Harper government’s aggressive war on drugs, which puts the emphasis on law enforcement while steering money away from harm-reduction initiatives like Vancouver’s supervised injection site.
“While countries all around the world are adopting forward-thinking, evidence-based drug policies, Canada is taking a step backwards and strengthening punitive policies that have been proven to fail,” states a summary of the 112-page report from the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, which is based at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
The report notes that at least 25 jurisdictions in the world have moved to decriminalize at least some drugs, with Portugal (in 2001) and the Czech Republic (in 2010) ending criminal bans for all drugs.
“After decriminalization and similar to Portugal, drug use (among Czechs) has not increased significantly but the social harms of drug use have declined,” the report stated.
We all know that the vast majority of Canadians live within a short distance of the U.S. border. Lest any Yanks get swell-headed about this, though, we should clarify that this phenomenon is not because we have any particular fondness for our southern neighbours, but rather that the farther north you go the more friggin’ cold it gets. It starts to impede on one’s ability to successfully grow stuff to eat.
The fact that so many Canadians are situated near the U.S. state line, however, has created a number of side effects in our contemporary economy. It means convenient access to like, you know, stores we don’t have. Stuff made in Bangladesh, but with different logos on it… and it’s a little bit cheaper! Canadians flock south of the border to save money on a variety of products, though sometimes the savings are illusory since the cost of gasoline and a hotel, not to mention duty, might negate the $7.55 saved on your H&M fine-knit cardigan or J.Crew woven boxers.
But if the Travelocity Gnome is to be believed, savings on airline tickets are significant — so significant that members of the Canadian Airports Council recently met to discuss this growing problem of Canadians relying on American airports for their travel plans. According to authorities, this practice is costing Canadian airlines thousands of jobs and millions in revenue.
Reasons for the higher price of Canadian flights are many, and include such things as government regulation and a lack of competition. Experts also cite our sparse population — though it then seems strange that a flight from Winnipeg (population 750,000) to Orlando will often cost close to $600, while a flight from North Dakota’s nearby Grand Forks (population 50,000) will cost half that or less. And how has a sparse and spread-out nation such as Australia kept the cost of its domestic flights down? Continue Reading →
“I realized for the first time that every single one of my songs makes me sound like a real loser,” says the Justin Bieber-esque singer at the centre of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (Free Press, 304 pp., $28.99) halfway through his headline appearance at Madison Square Garden. Navigating the twisting byways of a tween idol’s awakening, Teddy Wayne’s second novel drops into the dark heart of pop exploitation, where Tiger Beat fears to tread.
Once Jonathan Valentino, son of a St. Louis grocery clerk, the YouTube-discovered Jonny has an entourage and famous hairdo, but is under pressure (and the tight grip of his mother and manager Jane) due to slumping sales of his second album. Jonny’s environment has turned him into a tiny dictator with an adult’s work schedule, but without a commensurate sense of responsibility for the shelf life of his career.
In the lead-up to his Garden performance — on Valentine’s Day, naturally — Jonny vomits backstage before shows, goes on a “limo date” arranged by his manager, and shambles through a camera-ready tour of his hometown, suddenly conscious that he put more effort into conquering a 100-level video game and attempting to masturbate than into performing canned hits such as “Guys Vs. Girls” and “U R Kewt.”
The bluntest Wayne gets in his indictment of the culture that created Jonny Valentine (and others like him) appears in one of several clever interruptions to Jonny’s story: a newspaper interview with Jonny’s former tourmate, who describes his lifestyle as “an environment I wouldn’t subject my own child to.” (Wayne seems to have had almost as much fun crafting these digs as he did writing the hackneyed lyrics of Jonny’s hits.) Continue Reading →
I moved to Toronto eight years ago, and the city still beats me down sometimes. Toronto is a burgeoning, uptight, judgmental metropolis, constantly unsure of her status and borders (check the comment sections on our local news websites).
It’s also a centre of conspicuous affluence. I’ve built walls between myself and the people who vote how property owners vote, who speed walk the streets of our most opulent districts wearing designer everything while, I think, scowling at my do-it-yourself haircuts.
Last week, everything changed. Toronto discovered via Gawker and the Star that it’s very likely a video exists documenting our mayor smoking crack out of a crack pipe in a crack den with crack dealers. The short clip might even be made public.
Now, nothing matters. A bright new tomorrow dawns on our city:
- I have unevenly toned home-dyed hair, but so what? It’s not bothering anyone. Christ, the mayor smokes crack.
- I could spend 20 minutes in the bathroom putting on foundation and attempting to pull off a smokey eye, but why? The goddamn mayor is smoking crack. Who cares? Out the door. It’s a beautiful fucking day.
- Brown bag for carrying alcohol? Dude. The mayor smokes crack. Toss it.
- Roommate won’t shut up about Bieber? Throw that “Baby” song on and turn it up. The mayor is smoking crack.
On Tuesday night, after a long day at work, I walked two and a half blocks to the polling station nearest my home and participated in one of the fundamental activities of a democratic society. Despite being tired and not really up for it, I voted in the B.C. provincial election.
Now give me a prize, please. I’ll take money or a gift certificate. At the very least, I’d like a tax break. It doesn’t really matter; just give me something so that next time someone asks me why I bother voting — or the next time someone tells me she or he’s too tired to leave the house, or that there’s no point in marking a ballot — I can tell her or him that you get a prize.
When it comes to elections, there’s a sense of self-importance common among Canadians. We like to think of ourselves as a politically engaged populace, far more active than our neighbours to the south. Sadly, we’re not.
In the last American presidential election, voter turnout was only 58%. Pretty low, it’s true, but our numbers are no better. Only 52% of eligible B.C. voters bothered to discharge their democratic responsibility in this week’s election. Out of 3.1 million voters in Canada’s westernmost province, approximately 1.6 million actually showed up at a polling station. Which means approximately 1.5 million, for whatever reason, didn’t.
That represents an abysmally low voter turnout, and it’s not unique in Canada. In the last federal election, voter turnout was approximately 61%. Not terrible, but not great, either. Provincially, we’re much worse: Manitoba’s last election drew 57% of eligible voters, while Ontario got a staggering 49%. Voter turnout at the Vancouver civic election of 2011 was approximately 35%, up from 31% in 2008. Continue Reading →
- This one is aiming to raise $100,000, but has only received $738 thus far. Days left: 6.
- This one is aiming to raise $107,500, but has only received $675 thus far. Days left: 7.
- This one is aiming to raise $125,000, but has only received $0 thus far. Days left: 14.
- This one is aiming to raise $104,000, but has only received $0 thus far. Days left: 60.
- This one is aiming to raise $100,000, but has only received $182 thus far. Days left: 23.
Remember: Unlike Kickstarter, all Indiegogo campaigns set up with Flexible Funding get to keep your donations whether the fundraising goal is met or not. Choose wisely.
UPDATE: So it seems most of these campaigns have been removed now, for whatever reason. Only the first one persists, and it’s currently sitting at $1,804.
UPDATE #2: Gawker just started their own Indiegogo campaign. Fundraising goal: $200,000.
In honour of popular astronaut Chris Hadfield and outer space in general.
CTV has the story:
A team of U.K.-Canadian scientists have discovered billion-year-old water deep underground in an Ontario mine and, according to their research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, they think it might actually contain life.
“We’ve found an interconnected fluid system in the deep Canadian crystalline basement that is billions of years old, and capable of supporting life,” University of Manchester professor Chris Ballentine said in a news release. “Our finding is of huge interest to researchers who want to understand how microbes evolve in isolation, and is central to the whole question of the origin of life, the sustainability of life, and life in extreme environments and on other planets.”
I have to admit, sometimes advertising makes getting old look like it’s worth saving some money for. Ladies in capri pants wearing sun visors and giggling on golf courses. Ralph Lauren coated silver foxes entwined with their GILF significant others while holding an iPad, lying before some exotic vista. White teeth gleaming, retracted roof speeding, tanned skin, not a goddamned care in the world. Still fucking, for sure.
Retirement. It all seems pretty fantastic, until you realize those ads are aimed at able-bodied workers with disposable funds to dump into industries that sell the future. If you get up early enough, you’ll see a different kind of advertising on TV — the kind directed not at a younger working class dreaming of freedom as they approach their golden years, but ones already in the shit, so to speak.
On any given weekday morning, I’ll be on a treadmill at my local gymnasium staving off my own deterioration by watching Speed 2: Cruise Control on the AMC network for the fifth time in a month while maintaining a steady pace of 6 mph at a 4% incline. It is here that I’m most often exposed to the horrors of aging. Home alarm systems, palliative care, digestive aids, catheters, grave plots, motorized chairs, bars to help you on and off the toilet, endless insurance ads, and class action lawsuits that instruct you to “JUST CALL 1-800-BAD-DRUG.” Forget sex. These mornings make it look like you’ll be lucky if you can tie your shoelaces.
What’s the point of saving money when the future looks like that? It seems the only thing you really need is a steady stream of intoxicants to keep the oppression of mortality at bay, and something to record your thoughts. This, I can afford. That’s why my retirement plan consists of a good drug dealer and a pencil. Spending money on something you’re too incapacitated to enjoy is a poor investment.
I assure you, like all writers, I’ve made nothing but fantastic financial decisions all my life. Which is why, lately, I’m starting to fear that a happy medium exists somewhere between these two extreme representations of life free from work. There are, indeed, people out there living wonderful, productive lives of travelling comfortably, enjoying the company of others, pursuing hobbies, dining, making art, making love — all of it performed as a euphoric waltz to the end.
There was only one way for me to find out what existed post-work, and that was to drop the needle on Engelbert Humperdinck and pack my bags. My goal? Capture a glimpse of what life was like in the advanced stages of atrophy. My strategy? Embed myself amongst the senior set in Palm Springs, California, for as long as I could. Continue Reading →
The B.C. Liberals were not expected to emerge victorious from yesterday’s provincial election, but they did. Now, the critics are speculating how that happened. How did Cristy Clark’s team manage to beat the apparently favoured NDP, exactly?
One Globe and Mail commenter offers a rather blunt explanation:
ugh, the answer is so easy. Voters don’t like to be told how they are going to vote by the pollsters. Voters get irritated because they imagine these primping pollster jerks are making a busload of money on smugly predicting on how voters will behave.
Canadian voters, unlike the USA, are not sheep at election time.
Whoever pays pollsters, stop. You’re wasting money.