I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Canada D-eh

On July 1st, Canada celebrates the emancipation of a bubbly beverage company from the stronghold of the Coca Cola Corporation.

Wait, that’s Canada Dry, not Canada Day.

Whatever. Same shit, different pile.

Anyway, before the fireworks are lit, I’d like to clarify a few Canadian clichés (I’m sure other people – Kelly to the west, Richard to the east, and everyone inbetween - can also help me out) before we pop open the bottles of Molson.


We do not have an accent (we pronounce about the English way).

We do not end our questions with the word “eh.”

We do not wear trucker hats (a.k.a. hoser caps) and plaid flannel.

We do not live in igloos (only when Home Depot has sold out of portable a/c units).

It does not snow here all year round (winters in the Toronto area can be mild).

It does get incredibly hot and humid during the summer (my curly hair!).

We do not know who Tom is (you know, that other guy who lives in Canada).

We also don't know who Mike is.

Mounties do not walk the streets, but at fetish fairs (it's all about the uniform).

Moose do not walk the streets, but there are shitloads of them in Toronto.

We are not all polite and courteous (I will push you off the sidewalk into the street if you step in my way – don’t try it, grandma).

We are not all self-effacing (we're just shittin' ya).

Tim Hortons is not known for his hockey skills, but for his coffee (and donuts).

Not all Canadians love hockey (the sacrilege! the shock!).


There are probably dozens more, but I’ll just reinforce another stereotype and worry about it later.

It’s time to kick back and relax, celebrate with friends and family, and get drunk enough that the weekend blurs from one day to the next (with very little beer barfing).

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.


Note: For all those below the 49th parallel, Happy 4th of July, and for all of those who aren’t celebrating any particular holiday, celebrate anyway!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Scratching the surface

When leaving my car in a parking lot, my father always reminds me to keep the car far away from the others. He believes the farther away it is, the less likely it will be scratched, dinged or stolen.

“You never know with those crazy drivers,” he says.

The rest of the family rebuts his thinking. They tell him he’s so protective of his own car, he should sleep with it under his bed and carry it around with him so no one can scratch, ding or steal it.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to avoid having anything happen to your car. My little Lexus has small scratches and dings (inside and outside), although they’re mysteriously on the passenger side of the car.

Hmmm, I wonder how they got there...? Is there anything you’d like to tell me, Mother…?

Much to my dismay, I listen to my father’s advice, but I can’t do anything about the other drivers.


As I step out of my car and move towards the parking metre, I walk around the trunk and see it: a two-and-a-half foot (as in 30 inches) scratch that starts on the rear quarter fender and extends to the rear passenger side door.

Thirty fucking inches worth of scratch on my navy blue car. I am fuming.

For the person who made such an indelible mark on my car, I may not know who you are, but I hope get stuck in one of those vacated, hick towns, where there’s some psycho out huntin’ fuckers who scratch the paint surfaces of other people’s cars and don’t leave a note of concern, or a number of their insurance company, impales you with a pole through your forehead like Paris Hilton in House of Wax.

Or he can just leave a 30-inch scratch on your own car.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cunning linguist

In the industry that I am in, knowing more than one language is an advantage that is imperative in order to stay ahead of others in this competitive workforce.

Unfortunately, many of those who claim to be multilingual are linguistic liars.

They boast about their varied ethnic backgrounds, with cultural combinations that would make the UN proud. When asked how many of those languages they know how to speak, their responses are vague.

With the cultural changes that evolve our syntax every day, language isn’t static, so I have never claimed to be fluent in any language. One can never be fully fluent in any language - unless it’s Latin (and when was the last time you had a conversation with another living person under 400 years old, in Latin?).

Being someone who has “knowledge of” a couple of languages on his CV, I am normally given the assignment to contact various non-English stakeholders in/of the company. There is a little bit of apprehension on my side, since I don’t speak and write these languages on a daily basis (but, I can still whip out a 2000-word French essay on 16th century literature in a couple of hours - natch).

After performing these duties, I go back to my regularly scheduled program with a smug satisfaction that with a few rolls of my double-jointed tongue, I have a skill that no one else has. A cunning linguist.

But, that happiness fades rather quickly when I am the go-to guy for all non-English work of this nature. When that happens, I mutter under my breath something no one comprehends, but I hope they understand – even if it’s not in English:

Vaffunculo e baciare il mio culo.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thank heaven for little girls

There is a connection some people have with children that can only be called special. It’s indescribable. They look into one another’s eyes and fall in love.

But, sometimes love starts off as something else.

When my niece was born, she was the size of a small bag of flower with a set of arms and legs, a tiny head covered with fair hair and a pair of eyes of indeterminate colour. In short, she looked like every newborn.

She enjoyed being passed from adult to adult, giving them warm smiles and the occasional spit bubble. When I held her, her disposition changed and the smile turned into a furrowed brow and the spit bubble became a scream of terror.

She hated me.

I became reluctant to hold her since she would cry, push me away and squirm in my arms. This went on for some time.

Then, things changed - quickly.

By the time she began to crawl, I would sit down and play with her. There was a change in dynamics. The furrowed brow smoothed out, replaced by the occasional smile and squeal. This was a relief to me.

Talking developed concurrently with walking. Her mother would try and teach her to say mama and dada, but the one that stuck (strangely enough) was Ti Ti – short for Uncle Steven. Why? I have no idea.

Upon visiting my sister, my niece would run to the door, point at me, smile and say, “Ti Ti,” while forgetting there were other visitors. Why? Again, I have no idea.

No one understood why my niece found me so interesting. Fuck if I knew.

The more she grew, the more I spent time with her. She became a living doll. We would play with her toys and dolls, look at books, and have me look for her when she disappeared in the corners of the house. It was like most relationships uncles have with their nieces.

Eventually, there began a time where I couldn’t leave the room without having her follow me. No longer could I watch TV, use the computer or talk on the phone, without having her tug on my arm and pull me away to do something with her.

Going to the bathroom became an excruciating experience. I would try and make as little noise as I could when I would slip out of the room, but her supersonic hearing located me in seconds.

While sitting on the throne, I would be fearful that she would find me. From the distance I could hear the tapping of her feet on the wooden floors. They would get closer and closer. I would squeeze my eyes tight and stop breathing.

“Ti Ti,” she would yell as she hit the door with her palm. “Ti TI! (bang bang bang)” she would continue. I could see the doorknob move as I looked at it in terror. Shit, I hope she doesn’t open the door. Please, don’t let her open the door and find Ti Ti on the throne, I’d think.

From the distance, I would hear, “Leave Ti Ti alone and come over here. He’ll be out soon.” If it wasn’t for that save, I don’t know what I would’ve done. Would a biology lesson be in order? Do infants understand the concept of the male anatomy?

These behaviours will pass when she gets older and her uncle - miraculously - remains the same age. She'll get taller and prettier (judging by her paternal side of the family). She'll also get smarter and funnier (if her maternal's wacky-ass family is a predictor of humour-filled antics).

But, that's for another day. Today, she is still my little niece. And, I'll take every day with her as it comes, for she won't be a little girl for long.

Thank heaven for little girls, for little girls get bigger every day...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tasty muffins

Going through someone’s résumé is like looking at a list of items required to bake a batch of muffins. Instead of flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and occasional dashes of vanilla, chocolate, or a medley of fruits and juices, you have education, skills, work experience, and extra curricular activities.

The recipe should produce a delicious confection, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes there is too much of one thing and not enough of the other.

When they meet you for the first time after reading about your ingredients, they think they know you, but they know of you. There is a check-off list that goes through their mind before they meet you, and they hope that the description matches up with the physical specimen.

You look good on paper, so you must be good in person, right?

Sometimes the flavours are a perfect match, and other times not. It’s as if they don't realize sugar is sweet and lemons are sour.

There are so many reasons for the aftertaste: They took a list of adjectives and made assumptions out of them, misinterpreted some descriptions (because they don't know what they mean), filled in some voids, glossed over some terms, or made up some whole other person in their minds.

And, no amount of sugar will sweeten the effect.

But it doesn't matter in the end.

Although your baking might not be to everyone's liking, at least you know someone out there will enjoy your tasty muffins.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Off the rack

Sometimes, while perusing clothing stores, there will be an item that catches your eye that you would never consider purchasing, but find amusing enough to try on for a good laugh.

As my friend D and I are walking through the store, I pull something off the rack that looks ridiculous enough to make a fool of myself: a pair of denim bellbottoms.

“Do you think I should try these on?” I ask D as I wave the pants in front of my waist. They appear to be the right size, too.

“Go,” he giggles. “Go try them on. I wanna see what they look like.”

At the back of the store, I find a changeroom that was left open and run inside.

While I’m taking off my shoes and pants, and slipping on the pants, I hear the voice of a sales associate talking to D.

“Does your friend need any help with anything?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” answers D. “Steven, do you need any help?”

“Yeah,” I say as I try to button the pants. “Do you happen to have another pair of these bellbottoms in a bigger size?"

“Uh, where did you find that pair?” asks the sales associate.

While holding onto the pants with my right hand, I pull open the door with my left and peek my head outside. “It was over there,” I point, “on the centre rack with the other jeans.”

“Um,” he pauses, “those are women’s jeans.”

I slam the door shut.

While I’m pulling off the jeans and throwing on my own pants and shoes, I hear D laughing. I turn the pants inside out and look for the size. There isn’t anything on the label, only the brand name and vague washing instructions.

Coming out of the changeroom, I find the sales associate standing near the rack where I found the pants. I walk up to the rack, hang up the pants and approach him.

“Why is there a pair of women’s pants in the men’s section of the store?” I ask him.

“It was the last pair.”

“Next time,” I say while looking him in the eye, “do your job and put them where they belong.”

Even though I'm trying to keep a sense of dignity as I start to walk out of the store, it doesn't help that D is still giggling while following me.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Casual Fridays

In most work environments, the dress code has shifted back to professional work attire (jackets, shirts and ties), instead of the early-90’s schlubby appearance made popular by younger, hipper upstart tech companies.

But, there is a concession with casual Fridays where the ties loosen up like the invisible noose hanging over desks from Monday to Thursday.

Wanting to know what are the sartorial parameters for casual Friday, I ask and get the same answers: jeans, t-shirts, the clothes must be clean and have no objectionable language, and shorts are a no-no.

On Friday, I walk into the office with an oom-sa oom-sa oom-sa oom-sa beat in my head, wearing a black cap, a fitted, black t-shirt, low-rise jeans, and a pair of club shoes.

As I look around, I see that no one is wearing jeans and t-shirts. Ditto with the cap and funky footwear.

The men are wearing their ties looser, and the women are wearing cardigans over their frilly tops. Did they forget the memo? This is casual Friday, not cardigan Friday, right?

While everyone in the office looks like they’re about to go to brunch with the family, I look like I’m about to hit the clubs for a night of drinking and dancing (I’d rather do that Tuesday afternoon).

Sitting down at my desk, I pretend to busy myself while looking up to see whether the noose is still hanging above my work station.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Itch cream

Rap and hip-hop music is beloved by millions, sells countless records, is played around the clock on the radio and TV, and is a part of pop culture.

The male performers are the new definition of strength, and they achieve this by talking about money, power, bling, and putting down women by calling them bitches and ‘hos.

Yet, even with all this (false) machismo, they’re strutting around on stage with a bunch of pumped-up and sweaty men with their pants falling off their asses, bouncing to the baseline, touching themselves and grabbing their crotches (it’s as if they’re comparing who has the bigger glock – and I’m not talking about a gun).

I don’t know about you, but that sounds kinda gay.

Jesus. Throw in a couple of disco balls and you have The White Party.

Does anyone else see the irony? Rap and hip-hop fans are mostly men, who want to look like their buffed and blinged idols, hang with their homies, rollin’ on about how they got their back. If anyone can’t tell how blatantly ‘mo this is, then you’re hopeless and I have nothing more to say to you.

Oh, and the crotch-grabbing thing, there’s a cream you can use for that itch, but it won’t make you any less gay.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Going to the chapel

It’s spring. The weather is warmer. The flowers and grass are beginning to grow. It’s such a beautiful time of the year.

And, with the birth of spring, comes the blossoming of love… and weddings.

Most, if not all, of my friends are partnered, engaged, about to get married, or married. Being single, I don’t fit in any of those groups. And, I don’t really mind.

As much as I have nothing against marriage, or those who take the proverbial plunge, I find that marriage is not necessarily for everyone.

When I tell people that being a singleton works for me, they give me the sad face, coupled with the "Don't worry, you'll get married, soon" response, and a pat on the back for support.

Uh, there’s a reason why it's called an institution. People go crazy after a while.

True, the ceremony is lovely, but a marriage isn’t solely based on a church, white dress, diamond rings, a multi-course meal and an open bar. Love is important, but so is respect, trust, truth and compromise (amongst an endless list of criteria).

Not being a statistician, but why take part in something that has a rate of failure close to 60% in the US alone? Those are stats that no one wants to include on a final report. If you do want to talk about numbers, there is a study that shows that a cat can actually get almost 40% on a multiple-choice test simply by urinating on the answers.

So, a cat has as much success of doing well on a test by peeing on it as does a couple who marries (for the first time)?


If I would’ve known that a successful marriage is equivalent to a pissing contest, than I’d rather be single.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Put your Ginch on to get your Gonch off

On a recent episode of Fashion File, the producers of the show followed the creator of the Ginch Gonch underwear brand to South America for their photoshoot of next season’s line.

They showed where the product is made, how it’s made and by whom, the models, photographer, hair and makeup, and production people. Everyone is young, pretty, tan and impossibly thin.

When it’s time to shoot the campaign, the models frolic around parts of the land in various pairs of tanks, t-shirts, and of course, underwear. What’s even more surprising is most shots entail the models wearing nothing at all.

Does anyone see the irony of being naked to sell clothes? No? Ok.

With my interest peaked in this brand, I logged onto their site and check out some of the merchandise. There was nothing special about their product: children-style underwear for adults. What was special were their prices.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a bit crazy to spend so much money on an article of clothing that no one sees (unless you’re an underwear model, or stripper, which in some countries is considered to be the same thing).

Thirty bucks for a pair of cotton underwear? And, that doesn’t include postage and handling, and any applicable taxes (15% in Canada). That's not sexy.

Or, maybe I’m just a cheap bastard, since I come from the old-school ways of living where underwear came three to a pack and cost less than $10. Now that’s sexy.

Crazy or cheap, either way, I shouldn’t complain because no one hardly gets to see my underwear... and I don’t wear them that often.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Brown is the new black

Renova, the toilet paper company, has introduced a line of TP that is not only stylish, but matches everything you own, too.

How can TP be stylish? And, more importantly, how can it match everything you own?

When it’s black.

Seen in Europe’s hippest hotels, bars and restaurants, black TP is considered to be the non-plus-ultra of the sophisticated set. Now, Renova is bringing its new line to North America to see if black is the new black.

Knowing the positive properties - as well as being a fan - of black, I never thought I would have such distaste for the colour.

Does anyone see a problem with black TP? Anyone?

TP was originally conceived as white in colour for contrast: the whiter the TP, the knowledge that you always knew when you were clean after wiping. Although there have been variations of the colour (and pattern), white has always been the preferred choice.

But, black eliminates any contrast. How will you ever know if you’re clean enough? Or just clean? Wipe once or wipe a hundred times, you’ll never notice the difference. Do you like skid marks? You’ll have to, one way or another.

And, don't even get me started on the effects of possible colour transfer.

Even though black matches everything, this time, I don’t think it goes very well with brown. Clever with its concept, but crazy in its execution.

Black TP is just a shitty idea.

Monday, June 05, 2006


The table is set and dinner is already on our plates. My mother is already sitting down and I join her at the head of the table.

As we’re eating, she turns in her chair and gives me a look. She doesn’t seem impressed with something. I hope it’s not the food, since I helped to make it.

“You’re selfish,” she says.

Oh, God, now what? I think.


“You know why. Don’t you play stupid with me.”

“No, I don’t know why.” I take another bite of my food and look at her quizzically.

She nods towards the end of the table where my glass of red wine is resting near the left side of my plate.

“You’re so selfish that you couldn’t even pour me a glass of wine.”

She wants to start? Ok, fine.

“First off,” I wave my fork in the air, “you have a glass in front of you which you decided to put orange juice in. Second, I have two glasses because after drinking my wine, I’m going to have something else to drink. And, third,” I point the fork upwards, “if you wanted wine, why didn’t you pour some in the first place?”

“When it’s my wine, you always ask if I want some. When it’s your wine, you never want to share.” She takes a bite and chews like a petulant child. “You place it way over there, on the other side of the table,” she points to my side of the table with her fork.

“Where did you want me to place the bottle? On the floor?”

“You’re selfish.” She nods her head, as if to agree with herself. “Hopefully I never have to count on you when I get old.”

Get old? How much older does she think she’s going to get? She’s already old enough.

Growing up in my house, there is a mealtime rule: If it’s on the table, it’s there for you to use. Whether it’s food, drink, plates, cutlery, glassware, or napkins, it is there for everyone.

Now, she’s starting something an argument because I’m not playing waiter? I want to tell her whether she knows that in a restaurant, waiters are tipped 20% for their services, and an additional percentage if there is alcohol.

But, I let it go and take another sip of my wine.

I don’t ask her if she wants any.