Things are gonna change for me around here. Real soon. I’m done with being disrespected. I’m sick of being laughed at. I’m tired of being judged by passing birds. And most of all, I’ve had it up to here with being ignored by the cosmos. That all changes tomorrow.

I’m going to show all those women who dumped me. I’m going to show all those guys who always picked me last for badminton. I’m going to show all those dogs who just walked away when I tried to pet them. I’m going to show all the people who didn’t want to be friends with me just because I kept yelling at the sky. I’m going to show everyone.

I’m going to beat the shit out of the solar eclipse.

People are talking a lot of big game about this so-called “major astronomical event.” Like it’s some real hot shit or something. Like the moon and the sun converging once every few years is some big deal. Pfft, yeah, I have sex almost that often too. You’re not impressing me, eclipse.

I’m seeing all these Facebook events popping up for eclipse-watching parties. Everybody wants to be the eclipse’s friend. Well guess what? I’ve got a Facebook event for you. It’s called “Come at me, eclipse, I’ll knock your astral dick in the dirt.” Start time: the moment the edge of the punk-ass moon starts creepin’ onto that little bitch the sun. End time: after two hits; me hitting the eclipse, and the eclipse hitting the floor. The space floor.

Oh, you don’t think I can take the eclipse? You think just because it’s, like, twice the size of me I don’t stand a chance? You ever hear of a little story called David and Goliath? Yeah? Well Goliath isn’t gonna win this time. No, I’m taking that gradually-more-awe-inspiring-as-the-heavens-gloriously-align bastard down. The sun’s not gonna look so hot when you can’t even see it anymore! Because I punched it, that is. Not because it was eclipsed by the moon. Dammit, I feel like I really just muddied my point. Anyway.

How will I do it? Easy. First I’ll blend in with some regular spectators, wearing their dumbass eclipse glasses ‘cause they’re scared of it. Well I’m not. That’s when I’ll strike. I’ll pull off the stupid glasses, break them in two, and throw them in the ditch like a proud rattlesnake shedding the skin of a mighty wolf. Everyone around me will be like “whoa, who’s this cool guy? I wish he was my friend.”

Then I’ll look right at the eclipse and say something real badass, like, “hey, eclipse… time for lights out.” And we’ll stare each other down. Don’t worry, I won’t go blind. I’m tough. Besides, scientists say looking at an eclipse can destroy your retinas, and I won’t be looking at it with my retinas, I’ll be looking at it with my eyes, genius.

It’ll all be over pretty fast. Sure, the eclipse will probably get a hit or two in, but it’ll be no contest. Anyone who’s seen me practicing karate on clouds in the park knows that. And when it’s all over, and people are packing up their telescopes and microscopes and what have you, all everyone will be able to talk about will be how cool the guy is who beat the shit out of the eclipse, and how they all want to be his friend. All those stuck-up stars will be so jealous.

After word gets around the galaxy about what went down, the eclipse will think twice about showing itself around here again. And so will every other cosmic show-off. I’m looking at you, aurora borealis. You think you’re so pretty? Everybody just loves you, huh? Well I’m pretty too, you know! We’ll see who’s prettier after I kick your rippling green ass!


Photo by Takeshi Kuboki via flickr

These days, many women walk around playing with their phones or other devices like they’re people with lives and interests and hobbies and friends. Often they’re wearing headphones, presumably listening to Lilith Fair playlists on Spotify or podcasts about diva cups.

This means they’re not interested in being talked to by men they don’t know, and you should leave them alone.

Or does it?

Some of these women might be in serious relationships or be lesbians or maybe they’re just not looking for anything right now. Some of them could be giant bees disguised as humans and to anger them might put you in danger of being swarmed by the entire hive. In any of these cases, particularly the latter, it’s probably best to just give them a wide berth and go on your merry way.

But a lot of women wearing headphones on the bus or at the mall or while out for a jog are just waiting for you to stop them and talk to them. Why? Because the headphones they’re wearing are actually cursed relics, and they’re completely bound and under a power other than their own. They’d welcome a confident, easy-going man coming along and motioning for them to remove their headphones so that he may talk to them. And banish the malevolent spirit inhabiting those headphones back to the nightmarish hellscape from whence it came.

What To Do To Get Her Attention

  1. Stand in front of her (with 1 to 1.5 metres between you). Any less than this and you risk the demon presence’s aural tendrils latching to your eyes and the tip of your penis and draining the life force from within you, leaving you a dried-out husk and it more powerful than ever before.
  2. Hold whichever blessed vestige you intend to use to quell her curse in a confident, easy-going manner.
  3. If she hasn’t already raised her unnatural gaze toward you, simply flourish the Sword of Magisterial Truth before the dead galaxies which were once her eyes, until they meet yours. Begin to chant your litany. She most likely won’t be able to hear you, but it’s just a way of showing her that you’re trying to wrestle her everlasting soul from the malediction which has plagued her lo these many years.
  4. Once you do have her attention, by proxy of the unholy horror whose grip she is ensorcelled by, continue your sacred invocation with renewed fervor. The profane demigod who is controlling her will undoubtedly assault you with a barrage of visions of your family being tortured and dismembered in ways so unimaginable and horrific that your overwhelming instinct will be to fall prostrate in supplication and surrender for eternity to the void. But do not let your confident, easy-going manner waver, this is just how many women play hard to get and test a man’s persistence.
  5. Once the terrible spirit begins to physically manifest itself, the battle is almost won. It is now time to use against it the sacrosanct items you have brought to dispel it from our dimension forever. Be mindful that some malicious deities’ corporeal forms must be pierced by a divine implement, while others can only be defeated by having their own magic turned back against them. If the latter is the case, make sure you have with you an enchanted mirror or crystal. Also, don’t forget to keep things flirty.

For example, in a shopping mall or behind a corrupted church where dark rites are frequently performed:


Woman: Jessica.


Woman: [Possibly sputtering an incomprehensible guttural language, spewing thick noxious fumes] Hi.

If it’s clear that she’s interested in battling with you for the very future of humankind, sit and chat with her for a bit before getting her phone number and rending the fabric of existence to exile her malignant spectral puppeteer.

Common Mistakes That Guys Make When Approaching Women Wearing Cursed Headphones

  1. Not knowing what kind of curse they’re up against

One of the biggest mistakes guys make when approaching a woman wearing cursed headphones is not having done his research. Knowing the difference between an ancient Sumerian curse and an ancient Phoenician one can mean the difference between saving your town or having all the liquid in your body burst through your flesh in every direction at once. This isn’t amateur hour, so if you don’t want every child born on earth for the next two hundred years to be stunted goat-goblins, read your grimoires, guys. It’s all in there.

  1. Not being confident and easy-going

You should have a confident, easy-going manner.

  1. Taking “No” for an answer

Whether it’s winning a vicious confrontation with an all-consuming eidolon or winning the heart of a beautiful young woman, the key is always persistence. If she won’t take those headphones off, keep trying. Women are attracted to unwavering, borderline-threatening determination in men, and demons fear it. So don’t allow “no” to even be part of your vocabulary. Unless, of course, you’re uttering the phrase “erok aanul no fadeem kruul” as part of your cantrip to excommunicate a powerful apparition back to N’eleth Tul, in which case obviously the ritual won’t work without it.

With all these tips, you should be well on your way to seeking out and talking to women wearing cursed headphones and breaking the curses forced upon them. Of course, not every woman wearing headphones is wearing cursed headphones, but the only way to find out for sure is to get out there, be confident and easy-going, talk to them, and see what happens when you throw the mystical astral powder into their eyes that you obtained from that high-ranking necromancer!

Photo by cinnamon_girl via Flickr

Ed’s Note: In case you don’t know and think Johnny Scott has lost it, this article is a parody of a really terrible post on another site. We don’t want to give them direct traffic, but Google “How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones” and you’ll find it. Also, yes, Johnny Scott did in fact lose it a few years ago, but apparently has found it again. When we find out exactly what “it” is, we’ll let you know.

Ahoy, mates! I welcome ye aboard the Swift Doom, the most notorious and feared galley on the Seven Seas. Yer all here because ye saw one o’ the want ads we posted all over the port, and in every ale house and brothel where a carousin’ scallywag can wet his whistle and whatever else he wants to wet! Yar har har!

O’ course, we also put up bulletins on the community notice boards and at the women’s resource centres. On this ship we don’t discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. Many o’ our top officers are women, and we pay ’em the same as the men. None o’ this 70 cents on the doubloon nonsense! And ol’ Gibberin’ Thomas in the crow’s nest is openly gay. Though that doesn’t define his role or personality, I’m just mentionin’ it to illustrate a point. He’s a respected member o’ the team, and we don’t treat him any different. Arr.

If ye be a visible minority, we have many excitin’ opportunities fer ye in entry level bilgin’ and swabbin’ with plenty o’ room fer advancement. We here on the Swift Doom like to encourage diversity. Not like we have a quota or nothin’, but we pride ourselves on our multicultural hirin’ policies. Time off will be given on all major religious holidays, yar, and concessions will be made fer any cultural or ceremonial attire, as long as it doesn’t be gettin’ in the way o’ yer swashbucklin’! Yarrrrrrr har!

Now, speakin’ o’ swashbucklin’, we’ll be engagin’ in some rough and sometimes dangerous activities, involvin’ cannons and swingin’ on ropes and fightin’ off scurrilous knaves with our cutlasses. So it be important that ye tell us now if ye have any disabilities or medical conditions. Thar’s a place fer everyone aboard this ship, and the handi-capable are a vital part o’ our crew. We even got a substantial booty compensation plan fer anyone who’s crippled due to hazardous workin’ conditions. Just because we’re out there pillagin’ and plunderin’ doesn’t mean anyone has to be unsafe about it!

Oh, yar, and speakin’ o’ which, now would be the time to let us know if ye have any food restrictions or allergies. Once we set out to sea, it’ll be leagues before we’re able to stop somewhere fer soy or tofu. No worries about nuts, though, this’s been a nut-free ship fer nigh on to two score and seven. We be able to accommodate anyone needin’ kosher or halal meal plans, and fer any o’ you vegans, our cook, Big Stompin’ Bertram, makes a delightful arame and lentil salad once we get out to where the kelp grows thick.

Arrrrrrr, now if yer able to follow the rules o’ the ship, and not expose any o’ yer shipmates to problematic behaviour, ye’ll do just fine. But if ye be a troublemaker, well, yer punishments will be fierce. A spell locked away in the brig is standard, but fer particularly troublesome rapscallions a strongly-worded thinkpiece on the nature and effects o’ yer actions will be employed. And for the most heinous o’ offences, such as body-shamin’ a fellow matey, you’ll be forced to—and trigger warnin’ now, there’s going to be some frank talk about plank-walkin’—walk the plank!

So, if ye still think the pirate life is the life for ye, get yer blunderbussin’ arses to work with all the other scurvy dogs. O’ course, I use the term “scurvy dogs” as a colloquialism, there’re no pets allowed on the ship whatsoever. A bunch o’ us got allergies. Arr, that reminds me, no strong colognes or perfumes neither. We’re tryin’ to make this a safe, comfortable, inclusive space fer everyone!

Hoist the Jolly Rita! That’s what the Jolly Roger goes by since she began identifyin’ as female last year, and we all support her heartily, aye, so we do. Also there’s no expectation fer her to be jolly at all times. She may be our flag, but she doesn’t owe us anythin’. If she doesn’t feel like smilin’, there isn’t one o’ us who has a right to tell her she ought to be.

Now, get yer sorry deck-swabbin’ behinds into line, we leave first thing tomorrow after brunch! Big Stompin’ Bertram is makin’ gluten-free french toast and salmon eggs benedict with a spinach hollandaise!


Photo by Robert Pittman via Flickr

So, you’re single. Big deal. Who cares? So what if all your couple friends talk about you when you’re not around in a concerned tone usually reserved for speaking about someone who just found out they have cancer. There’s no shame in being single. Be proud, you impossible-to-love loner weirdo.

But just because you’re single doesn’t mean you need to fall into bad eating habits in an attempt to fill the all-consuming void inside you. Microwave burritos, frozen pizzas, and potato wedges from the fried chicken shack down the street that’s been shut down four times already this year for health code violations are easy options when you’ve got no one to impress with your culinary prowess. But, come on, you’re better than this. That chicken place is covered in rodent droppings. They found them on the ceiling fan once. How does that even happen?

There are loads of great tasting, simple to prepare meals for one out there that won’t hurt your wallet, either. So, whether you just got dumped or you’ve been perpetually single for years, keep in mind that you’re fundamentally damaged and no one will ever be able to commit to a healthy long-lasting partnership with you because you’re incapable of being happy with who you are.

Wait, sorry, I meant to say keep in mind that a fun, healthy solo dinner is just a few easy steps away. Ignore that last thing. Anyway, here are a few of my favourites for you to try.

This first one is a regular in my meal plan because it’s so quick and requires so few ingredients. Start with one 1.5 litre bottle of wine (red or white, the recipe’s pretty flexible), and drink a third of it. Officially the recipe calls for you to drink from a wine glass, but that’s not required. I usually use a nice ceramic coffee mug, but you can use pretty much any receptacle you have on hand. Or just drink straight from the bottle. The recipe doesn’t call for any judgment. I once completed the entire thing using a cat dish because I ran out of clean cups.

Once the first third of the bottle is finished, the next step is to go outside for five to seven minutes and yell at something alive. It could be a stranger out walking their dog, it could be their dog, it could be a squirrel or a bug, the important thing is that it’s a living being that can comprehend on some level that you’re angry at life and you’re taking that out on it unfairly.

In a pinch, if you can’t find anything else, yell at God. Whether God exists, or is “alive”, is not for this recipe to weigh in on, but if you can’t find even a bird or something hanging around, God can be substituted.

Once you have shouted yourself hoarse, or the neighbours have dialed the police, return to the wine, and drink the next third. As you’re doing this, log into Facebook. It’s time to start messaging exes. Begin by telling them it was a mistake to ever let them out of your life, and things were so much better when you were together, despite all those things you said, you can see that now. You’re seeing things clearly for the first time. They were right this whole time, and you’re sorry for everything, especially that unfortunate toast at their sister’s wedding.

Switch gears very quickly at this point, telling them that they don’t deserve you and they’ll never find someone as good at oral as you are. Then preemptively block them, catch a bus to where they live, and take a shit right outside the drivers’ side door of their Optima.

If you’re already blocked by your exes, you’ll have to find a more creative way to get a message out. I put them into articles I write, because I know you’re reading this, Stephanie. I hope Brad knows he’s not just moving in with you, he’s also moving in with your borderline pathological trust issues.

The final step is finishing the last third of the wine. This will complete the meal with a lot of crying, perhaps a hole punched in the drywall or cupboard doors ripped off, and a good deal of speculation on who would attend your funeral if you died tonight. The meal is capped off when you pass out in the bathtub.

That’s it, I guess. I know I said I had a few recipes to share, but, well, life’s full of all kinds of disappointments, isn’t it? That’s what I was screaming about at that caterpillar after a third of a bottle of wine last night, anyway.


Photo by korafotomorgana via Flickr

Dick pics are nothing new. Centuries ago men would make etchings of their members and nail them to the shutters of their intendeds’ windows. This trend evolved with the changing times. Daguerreotypes of dudes’ junk were sent by carrier pigeons throughout the mid-19th century. In the ’80s it wasn’t uncommon for a guy to hide a wang polaroid under a big line of coke as a fun surprise for the gal next up.

Today dick pics are more prevalent than ever, due of course to the ease of texting, dating apps, and social media. But ask any woman and she’ll tell you that the majority of cock snaps she receives are unsolicited and unwanted. Which raises several questions. When is it okay to send a dick pic? What am I really trying to say with this dick pic? How many dick pics should I be sending per hour?

Sometimes it makes sense to send a woman a dick pic. Sometimes it doesn’t. Distinguishing this is one of the most important aspects of dick picking. How do you do this? There are a lot of factors you’ll need to consider. Hey, no one ever said being a man with a photogenic dong was easy.

If a woman sends you a pic of part(s) of her nude body, it’s only polite to return the gesture. In fact, if you don’t send one after this, you might as well just text her back saying, “I received the communique regarding your breasts, and after careful and deliberate consideration have decided to never engage in the ravages of carnal intercourse again, and will be retiring to a mountain monastery where I will spend the rest of my life devoted to the Trappist art of cheesemaking.”

Other times it’s appropriate to send a rod shot include special occasions like birthdays, long weekends, regular-length weekends, Wednesdays, the night of any full moon, during parades, Ramadan, lightning storms, the twelve days of Christmas, harvest time, February 29th, February 21st, the first day of spring, February 28th, restaurant soft openings, the march of the penguins, and July. Avoid sending one on Valentine’s Day, though. It’s tacky, and that’s a meaningful day when you should be sending a butthole pic.

So, once you’ve determined it’s appropriate and a real great idea to send your lucky lady a photo of your gonads, there are still a few things you should be mindful of. Composition and a knack for flair are just as important as length and girth in a woman’s eyes. Style is important, but shouldn’t overwhelm the subject. Everything should gel and the whole of the project should reflect your larger intended meaning. You want to be the Bill Watterson of unflinching penis closeups, not the Bil Keane.

It kind of goes without saying that you should be fairly to fully erect. No one wants to look at a man’s flaccid genitals. It would look better if you went to the local butcher shop and snapped a pic of a pile of tripe and sent her that. So do whatever you need to do to achieve arousal. I have a model electric train set transistor that I attach to my nuts, that’s what usually works for me, but everyone’s unique.

It should be well lit, but not harshly lit. Get some candles going, put on some Remy Shand, and just do what feels natural. If you’re having fun, that will come through in the pictures. Women are intuitive, they can sense when a boner is relaxed and having a good time. If you’re nervous, just imagine the boners of all your friends are there, cheering you on. You can do it, little guy!

Well, I mean, not little. Average sized. Totally average sized.

The main thing to remember is that your dick is special, and it’s a privilege she’s being given to be able to gaze upon it in its glistening, crooked glory. Your dick will change the world one day, it will change her world, and it’s totally a really good idea to send it. The things she’ll do when she gets an eyeful are lurid and obscene in the most wonderful way, and don’t at all include laughing about it with her friends.

So dick on, my friend, dick on. Don’t be dissuaded by requests to cease, derisive comments, or being ignored. It’s your right as a man to continually disseminate explicit images of your anatomy, and you should never let your confidence waver that one day they’ll be part of something important. Like, probably most likely be evidence in a harassment charge.


Photo by JaBB via Flickr

Stephen Harper once released two-hundred thousand snakes into the city of Moncton. I mean, they weren’t poisonous snakes, and most of them just died the following winter, and actually they did do a lot to get rid of a mouse problem that was affecting a substantial portion of the city’s restaurants, but that’s not the point. Stephen Harper didn’t release two-hundred thousand snakes to help local businesses, Stephen Harper released two-hundred thousand snakes because he could.

You didn’t hear a lot about it in the media. In fact, it went largely unreported even in the city of Moncton itself. Which makes sense, I guess, because why would you need it to be reported to you that your city is overrun by snakes when you suddenly have thirty snakes in your bedroom or your sex gymnasium. It makes even more sense when you learn that one of the snakes was a boa constrictor and ate the reporter for the Moncton Free Press who was writing a story about the snakes.

Okay, that’s not really true. But the boa constrictor did eat the reporter’s Lhasa Apso. And that reporter is a raging alcoholic who can barely meet a deadline at the best of times, let alone when her dog is dead and there are snakes coming out of her kitchen sink. At least that’s what my friend who works for Canada Post and was stationed there for six weeks told me.

Anyway, the fact is that Stephen Harper released all these snakes. Just because it wasn’t reported on by any major or reputable news source doesn’t mean it’s not true. Also I saw a meme that some people posted on Facebook that said he did some bad stuff to all of Canada’s protected rivers and lakes. I can’t remember what it was exactly. Probably he peed in them, I guess.

And that’s pretty fucked, I tell you what. Stephen Harper, the man who is supposed to be running our country, is going around and peeing into 2.5 million rivers and lakes. That’s going to take a long time. And a lot of taxpayer dollars. That’s a lot of pee, no matter how much Sunny D you drink. And what’s next? Our pools? No sir, Mr. Harper, I say. I didn’t vote for you for you to go around peeing in the recreational facilities of hard working Canadians.

In fact, I didn’t vote for you at all. So how did you get this job, anyway? If I didn’t vote for you, and a bunch of people who post anti-Harper memes on social media didn’t vote for you, then who did? I mean, I’m a pretty popular guy, I know like twenty people. And they all say they didn’t vote for you. So where are all these votes coming from?

I guess friends of his must’ve voted for him. It’s a big popularity contest. Like how I didn’t get to be my high school graduating class’s valedictorian because Jacob had a bunch more friends than me. Also because I didn’t do real good with grades on account of I don’t do good English and I can’t math. And technically I didn’t actually graduate. And because of that one time Mr. McKay caught me selling cocaine.

It wasn’t even actually cocaine, Mr. McKay, it was just baking soda. But Jason and Shelly and Wade and all the other popular kids didn’t know that. We were sixteen, they had no frame of reference, they thought that’s what cocaine was. Way to blow a good thing I had going, McKay.

So, anyway, Harper unleashes this torrent of snakes upon the citizenry of Moncton, and wouldn’t you know it, he gets elected again. Mainly, I guess, because all of those snakes voted for him. Which isn’t surprising, because snakes are big oil advocates and notorious climate change deniers.

I guess my point is that the reign of Harper needs to end. And the only way to make that happen is to not vote for him in the upcoming election. If we all decide to vote for someone else this October we can put a stop to the rampant abuse of power that Mr. Harper has been bandying about as Chamberlain of Canada for over fifty years.

Realistically, though, none of us should even be voting at all, considering we were all stripped of that right after being arrested and charged for getting real drunk and pooping repeatedly over the course of five weeks onto Alan Thicke’s star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.


Photo by Seattleye via Flickr

Earlier this month, Cecil, a Zimbabwe national park’s beloved friendly lion, was killed in a gruesome fashion by what everyone assumed at first to be a Spaniard, presumably in a sexy crime of passion taken too far. But, it turns out it was an American dentist named Walter Palmer, because of course it was an American.

But, while there has been large-scale uproar online both in the form of innumerable social media posts and countless thinkpieces, most calling for Palmer’s shaming, some for far nastier consequences, there has been very little support for the poor dentist at the heart of this whole firestorm. But I think we need to consider his side.

Now, just hold on a second, before you go screaming for my flaying and beheading for even suggesting that maybe we go easy on the guy, hear me out. But he killed an innocent lion, you all say. A lion that everybody loved, you go on to say. A lion who saved my aunt from a burning building once, you continue. A lion who lent me $300 to cover my rent last month, you’re still arguing. Well, just wait a minute.

You didn’t know who Cecil the lion was before this. You’d never heard of him. Cecil the lion is like some obscure indie band, named Cecil the Lion, whose frontman killed himself or died of an overdose, and suddenly they’re all over the news and everyone’s like, “I’ve been a fan since that first EP. They’ve been real game-changers in pop music for years, and the world is only now starting to catch up. Yeah, I totally heard of them before this. I read about them on… uh, Pitchfork.”

And another thing. I’m not so completely sure Cecil was as great a guy as the media and public seem to be portraying him. Even a cursory Google search will tell you that he was kind of a jerk. More than that. Cecil was an agent of the patriarchy. He was the leader of a pride that included six lionesses whose only roles were to bring him food and bear his offspring. A fact which Cecil never publicly denied.

Yet we fault Palmer for having virtually the same macho hang-ups. Yes, perhaps the most important argument for the defense of Mr. Palmer, is that as a white, middle-aged American professional, he is entitled to go to whatever lengths he needs to feel that his penis is as normal-sized and functional as anyone’s.

For a guy to travel halfway around the world, pay tens of thousands of dollars, and murder a majestic symbol of virility and strength, he must have some serious cock problems. And, hey, I get it. All us guys get concerned over our size once in a while, or have the occasional misfire.

If I had a tiny dick and the only way I was able to get it hard, even for twenty seconds, was to kill a wild animal twice the size of me, I’d cut a swath of death and destruction through the Serengeti so big you could see it from fucking space.

I’d wipe out entire endangered species just for half a minute of the ability to penetrate a woman successfully, if only any woman would want to come anywhere near my horrible hate-engorged genitals. And I’d expect all of you to support me. After all, what’s more important than my fragile male ego? Certainly not some lion’s.

Besides, are we even sure he went in there with the intent of killing Cecil? How do we know he wasn’t there to give him a root canal, or do some bridge work, and things went terribly wrong? Accidents happen. Cecil was 13, that’s a lot of wear on a lion’s teeth. If Palmer had been the guy who paid $50 000 to go into Zimbabwe and give ol’ Cecil the lion a set of beautiful new crowns, we’d all be hailing him as a hero.

But just because he dragged the carcass of one animal behind a truck to lure another animal out of its safety so he could shoot it with an arrow and spend the next two days waiting for it to bleed out enough to catch it and shoot it with a gun, then skinned and beheaded it and left most of its corpse to rot, we brand him a “monster.”

My, my, so quick to judge, aren’t we? Well, if you can take a good look inside yourself and honestly say that you, too, have never done that exact same thing at one time in your life or other, then congratulations, I guess you’ve earned the right to call Walter Palmer a complete psychopath (and sign the petition).

But if you’re just a regular person like the rest of us, who routinely murders magnificent, irreplaceable, endangered animals, well, maybe think a little harder next time before you open your big fat mouth and start spouting criticisms all over Facebook.

There’s no two ways about it, superhero movies are big money. And why wouldn’t they be? Think about it. They take pre-existing characters, already storyboarded, toss in a plot that has lots of explosions, add a few big-name actors, and there you go.

People will pay their hard-earned money for this experience, regardless of quality. People demand higher standards from a McDonald’s value menu item than they do from these pictures.

Comic book movies are no new thing. Superman and Batman movies have been around for decades. But in the last fifteen years there’s been an enormous boom. Since 2001, there have been a total of 38 Spider-Man movies, 19 Iron Man movies, a dozen Thors, and so many Avengers it’s unbearable. Two, I guess. How ever many, it’s too much.

One of the more interesting effects of this phenomenon is that films based on lesser known comics are appearing that probably wouldn’t have been given the chance to make the big screen otherwise. Adaptations of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, and garnered glowing reviews.

With this trend in mind, I have a few suggestions for some relatively obscure comic book characters that deserve to make that leap to the movie theatre. So, if you’re a big time movie producer looking for the next big hit, bear these in mind. And if you’re not, well, read them anyway I guess.


Unlike Spider-Man, who was a human bitten by a radioactive spider, Wasp-Man was a regular working-class wasp who got bitten by a radioactive human. Now he uses his super powers to fight people trying to do evil gardening, and swoops into the jam and mimosas of villains at brunch telling inane stories from their weekend so loud the entire patio has to hear them.

Corn Man

Corn Man traverses the prairies of the Midwestern United States, appearing wherever someone isn’t eating enough corn. There’s a lot of potential for stories here, because, really, do any of us eat enough corn? In one memorable plotline that would be perfect for the silver screen, Corn Man faces his most dangerous arch-nemesis, a guy who’s making a burrito and inexplicably isn’t going to put corn in it.

Clipper Girl

Wandering the breadth of the land, Clipper Girl uses her powers to clip the toenails of lazy men who neglect to do so, ensuring that their casual girlfriends’ legs won’t get scratched or cut in bed. She also devotes much of her time trying to figure out why her superhero name is “Girl,” when she’s 27 years old.

The Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test has a pretty unique set of abilities, and maybe couldn’t support a movie on her own, but would make a great sidekick. Her main power is to appear in other superhero movies for a scene or two and talk to the one female character about something other than a man.

Single Guy

From his bachelor apartment of solitude, Single Guy fights vigilantly to assert that he’s single by choice, he could be in a relationship if he wanted to, he’s just taking time to really know himself, and besides, he just hasn’t met the right woman yet, oh, and also he’s totally not gay. It’s 2015, if he were gay he’d just be gay, he’s not trying to hide anything, he swears.

The Mopper

The Mopper pretty much just mops. He’s not really a janitor, because janitors do more than just mop, plus they get paid. He’s more of a deranged ex-university professor who cracked under the pressure of work and his wife leaving him, and now he just mops, and the guys down at the local hardware store feel pity for him, so they let him mop up at the store because he’s not doing anyone any harm. Until one day when he stabs a bunch of people in the neck with an awl. No one really saw it coming, but a lot of people, when they’re gathered at the Tim Horton’s by the highway, say they knew something like that was bound to happen. He hung himself in prison five days in. Classic supervillain.

The Guacamole Kid

Wherever a restaurant is charging extra for guacamole, The Guacamole Kid is there to help you out. He can’t really do anything about the extra charge, it’s restaurant policy, but he’ll totally spot you that fifty cents. If he’s got it on him.


Photo by stu_spivack via Flickr

I don’t know how to start, really. It’s funny, I have so many thoughts, so many things to tell you, so many questions I want to ask, then when it comes down to it I can’t think of a thing to say. I don’t know if you’ll even read this, if it’ll manage to find its way to you out there in the quadrant of space you call home.

You never told me where you come from. If I knew, I could try to send this to you directly. But you kept that vague. You kept a lot of things about you vague. And I get that, I respect that.

We didn’t need to rush things. That’s part of the fun and excitement of being with someone new. Learning things about them slowly, discovering things in common. Where they’re from, what their favourite albums and books are, how many brothers and sisters they have. Or, in your case, how many flesh-stalks burst from the same spore cloud.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t completely know what to make of our time together. It all happened so fast, it’s still taking me time to wrap my head around everything. One thing I can say for sure is that you really swept me off my feet. Literally. When you sucked me into your spacecraft from the golf course I’d broken into and was exposing myself to caddies on.

I know we only spent one night together, but when something is right, you can just tell. I know you could feel it, too, I could see it in the glistening, pulsating sockets I can only assume were your eyes. Or your genitals.

The things you said to me that night, in your guttural, unnatural language, more disturbing than the screams of a hundred thousand grasshoppers lit on fire at once, were so romantic and beautiful, I imagine. And the things you did to me when I was strapped to that examination table, the way you explored my body. Well, I’ve never been touched quite like that by a lover before. And what happened in the indeterminate amount of time I was unconscious after you injected me with that phosphorescent blue liquid must have been magical.

Listen to me. Using words like “magical” and “lover.” I never talk like that. You’ve got me all frazzled. Oh, geez, “frazzled?” I never say that. But I’m just so giddy, my mind is all over the place, like someone turned on the warp drive. Is that a real thing in space ships? A warp drive? Or is that just in the movies? Oh, here I go again, just rambling on like a dummy. But that’s what happens when you’re in love, right?

Oh. Oh, I’m sorry. That just kind of slipped out. I didn’t mean that. No, just forget I said it. No, it’s obviously way too early to be using the L word. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I’ve probably scared you off now. I always do this. I meet someone really great, we hit it off, then I go and ruin everything by getting excited and trying to rush things. You probably think I’m totally crazy. I did this with that Sasquatch, I did it with that subterranean lizard-person, I did it with that cute waitress at the diner down the street, now I’m doing it with you.

But, wait, no, you know what? No, I’m not going to apologize for that. It’s how I feel, and why should I try to hide that? I’m going to put myself out there, all the way. Like that series of interlocking tubes you put all the way up my rectum. I know you felt it, too. The feelings, not the rectum thing. I dare you to look deep into whatever frightening conglomeration of physiology that approximates a heart and tell me otherwise.

I’m not asking for a lot. I’m not suggesting we uproot our entire lives to be together based on one night. All I’m asking for is that you give this a chance, because there’s clearly something there. And it’s something real. As real as the stars and the northern lights and those horrible spider-octopus things that your species contracted to rain inky black death upon the entire Earth so you can have unobstructed mining rights for the precious, precious nickel needed to make cosmic dildos for your chain of interstellar sex shops.

I’m just saying, next time you find yourself in my neck of the galaxy, drop me a line, maybe we could hang out again, see where things go. How about next month when you’re in town to blow up my solar system’s sun? We could go somewhere, make a weekend of it. I hear Pluto is really nice this time of year.


Photo by exoimperator via Flickr

For a lot of people, summertime means camping. I mean, I don’t really get it, voluntarily spending an entire weekend in the woods, with no access to online pornography and miles from the nearest friendly toilet. Frankly it all sounds a little too much like a Solzhenitsyn story to me. But, as the great shaman-prophet Sly Stone once said, different strokes for different folks.

So, besides the leeches and the ticks and those spiders that crawl into your ear while you sleep and lay eggs in your brain and then the eggs hatch four weeks later while you’re at your desk at work and you die right there in front of all your co-workers and you’re forever remembered for shitting your pants and unleashing a torrent of baby spiders from your nose, there’s also bears.

Bears will just straight up kill you like it’s their God-given duty, because it is. The scientific name for a grizzly bear is ursus arctos horribilis. No, seriously, that’s what it is. That’s Latin for “what in the golden fuck are you doing sleeping in a nylon sack in the forest?” There’s less between you and a bear’s mouth than there is between me and a microwave burrito.

Nevertheless, if you’re one of these insane idiots who insists on “getting back to nature” or whatever you call getting horsefly bites on your dick, there are steps you can take to ensure you don’t get mauled into a coma by a common bear, even if you really do kind of deserve it.

There are the preventative ones everyone knows, like store your food up really high in a tree, and don’t menstruate, but I’ve got a few more that can help if those fail you and you’re actually confronted by an angry bear because you didn’t put your food high up enough in the tree or went and bled out of your genitals too much.

And before you go asking how exactly I’m such an expert on the subject, I’ll tell you my qualifications. I’ve literally never been mauled to death by a bear. Not even once. I think that track record speaks for itself. So, remember these bear safety tips when you head out to the campground this weekend. Oh, and also remember to bring that extra canister of fuel for your Coleman stove. You don’t want to forget that.

Compliment the bear. Bears are nature’s most notorious binge/purgers. The bear spent the entire winter sleeping and lost a lot of weight. Now it’s out there getting fat on salmon and bugs and people and probably, like, I don’t know, grouses or whatever bears eat. Honey, I guess.

The bear’s weight is fluctuating wildly, and it likely has crippling self-esteem issues. Tell the bear it’s looking good. Even if it knows you’re just saying it to be polite, it will probably really appreciate the consideration. Don’t lay it on too thick, though. You don’t want the bear to think you’re hitting on it. You’re not trying to have sex with the bear.

Although, I mean, let things happen organically. If the bear’s into it, and if you are, why not gently move things forward into a bit of playful flirting? Maybe you will end up having sex with the bear. Make sure you’re both on the same page, though, and don’t lead the bear on. It deserves to know where you stand on this. It’s casual, just a summer fling, there’s no reason that anyone needs to get hurt come Labour Day.

Tell the bear a joke. Jokes are great icebreakers, and there’s a good chance that the whole reason the bear is rearing up, swiping its claws, and frothing spittle is because it’s a little awkward socially and not great at meeting new people. A good, short joke could be just the thing to diffuse the situation.

So, if you know a decent one, bust it out, make the bear chuckle, and you never know, you might end up making a friend. Try to keep it clean, though. There’s no bigger gaffe than delivering an off-colour punchline and being met with nervous titters, avoided eye-contact, and having your entrails scooped out in one lumbering swoop.

But a well-timed observational quip about modern day life in the forest could be the difference between you ending up as so much bear droppings the next day, and you headlining at the Shady Grove Watering Hole or the Comedy Cave. A lot of bears are in the business, and it’s just a matter of getting some exposure, so this horrific attack could end up being the serendipitous break you’ve been looking for.

I know this guy who a few years back was having the flesh of his neck and shoulders ripped to shreds relentlessly, then he started in on his bit about how polar bears talk like this and black bears talk like this. Well, turns out that bear was a big-time producer at Comedy Central, and long story short, my buddy has his first hour-long special coming out this fall. Most of his act is about being permanently quadriplegic due to a nightmarish bear attack, but you gotta find your voice, right?

Probably the best advice I can give is to just admit that you were wrong. Face it, if this bear is so angry at you that it wants to pop off your head like the cap of an internal organ-flavoured Jones soda, you probably did something. Even if you don’t know what.

Maybe you didn’t notice the new way it’s styled its fur. Maybe you got really drunk with your friends the night before and didn’t respond to the bear’s texts, even just to give it the courtesy of letting it know where you were and who you were with. Maybe the ever-encroaching progress of your species is threatening its natural habitat with alarming speed. Who knows. Who cares, really, all it’s looking for is an apology. Just tell it what it wants to hear.

That’s about all there is to it. It’s all pretty common sense stuff. If all else fails, just take a deep breath and be at peace with the fact that it’ll soon be over and you’ll always be remembered as someone who died doing what they loved; shitting in the woods.

Photo by Andrew_N via Flickr

Day One

Seven Samurai (1954) Seven hired samurai battle a group of bandits to save a farm village. Widely considered one of cinema’s greatest classics, this is Kurosawa at his most masterful. Plus, I ate a total of three turkey sandwiches during the film. With cheese. A

Day Two

Sanshiro Sugata (1943) Even in his first film, Kurosawa’s striking visual style is on display, seeds of the hallmarks of his later films can be seen, and I texted this girl whose number I’d gotten at the bar the weekend before while I was watching. I ate some ice cream mid-way through the movie, but the girl didn’t text me back. B

Day Three

Sanshiro Sugata 2 (1945) This is the sequel to the one I watched yesterday, and it was basically more of the same. That girl still hasn’t texted me back, and I was watching my phone for the whole movie, so I would’ve seen it if she did. D-

Day Four

Dodesukaden (1970) A story of the lives of a community of people who live in a garbage dump. Pretty interesting film, and his first in colour. Like, look, even if you’re not interested, a text back is just common courtesy. D

Day Five

Stray Dog (1949) A rookie homicide detective tries to track down his stolen pistol, which is being used in a series of escalating crimes. Finished off that ice cream from the other day and didn’t leave the apartment. B+

Day Six

Dreams (1990) A visually stunning collection of vignettes inspired by recurring dreams from throughout Kurosawa’s life. I had a bunch of McDonald’s when I watched it because I got some coupons in the mail, and by the time the movie was done I could already feel the rumblings of some pretty horrific diarrhea ahead. C-

Day Seven

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945) Some guys are trying to sneak through the mountains dressed as monks for some reason? I don’t know, I fell asleep for a lot of this one. It was a great nap, though. B

Day Eight

The Bad Sleep Well (1960) A taut drama about a man seeking revenge on the high-powered bureaucrats who forced his father to commit suicide to cover up their embezzlement. I was sexting with an ex throughout most of this one, and then about two hours into its two and a half hour run I left to go hook up with her. A+

Day Nine

Scandal (1950) A damning portrayal of the invasive nature of the media. The ex I hooked up with last night said something about this mole on my arm looking bigger than it used to. Does it? I’ve been trying to figure it out the whole movie. C

Day Ten

Ran (1985) A sprawling epic about an aging patriarch and his three jerk sons who all won’t stop trying to kill each other. This is one of Kurosawa’s last films, and is his last period epic. The composition of each shot is incomparable, the colour is absolutely vibrant, and I had a burrito during it that was the size of a fucking newborn baby. A

Day Eleven

Drunken Angel (1948) An alcoholic doctor goes beyond the call of duty to try to save a young gangster from tuberculosis. Visually striking shots and powerful performances make this a gripping watch. All the stuff about doctors kept making me think about this mole, though. Is it bigger?? B

Day Twelve

The Lower Depths (1957) I texted an old nurse friend a pic of the mole. He said it’s nothing to worry about. Actually, what he said was to stop texting him, we’re not friends, in fact he wishes the mole was cancerous. It was a bit much. I mean, it’s been like six years since I slept with his girlfriend. Some people can really hold a grudge. My main takeaway, though, is that the mole isn’t a big deal. B+

Day Thirteen

The Most Beautiful (1944) I was feeling like kind of a fatso because I’d eaten a bunch of poutine earlier, so I decided to start working out while I’m watching these. I spent about 45 minutes on the elliptical, and by the end I felt like a 90-year-old on his death bed. D

Day Fourteen

Rhapsody In August (1991) A Nagasaki family discovers an estranged relative and his family in Hawaii. There is a lot of talk about the atomic bomb. Richard Gere speaking Japanese was way too disconcerting. D-

Day Fifteen

Yojimbo (1961) A wandering ronin plays two rival gangs against each other to save a town from their grip. Got me pumped up to work out again. I did two sets of twenty sit-ups and spent so much of the movie on the elliptical that I could hardly breathe. So, as a reward, I ate grilled cheese sandwiches until I passed out. B+

Day Sixteen

Sanjuro (1962) The sequel to Yojimbo. So tired and sore from all the sit-ups yesterday I could hardly move. Had to pause the movie several times to poop, because of all the grilled cheese sandwiches. C

Day Seventeen

One Wonderful Sunday (1947) A melodramatic tale of a young couple trying to make the best of their Sunday date, despite only having 35 yen. Still not really feeling up to doing any exercise again. Maybe tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow. And no more grilled cheese sandwiches. Well, I mean, I’ve still got some cheese, I should finish that off. Then no more grilled cheese sandwiches after that. For real. B-

Day Eighteen

Throne of Blood (1957) A re-telling of Macbeth, set in feudal Japan. I got really drunk during this one. A


Day Nineteen

The Quiet Duel (1949) So hung over. Is it me, or was this movie way too loud and bright? D-

Day Twenty

Dersu Uzala (1975) I saw a UFO! No, for real. It’s hard to describe, but it was this slowly brightening orb of light that got really intense and then slowly faded and was gone. The really weird thing, though, is that right where it had been in the sky, the clouds segmented into these perfectly symmetrical rectangles that were all geometrically sound and were equidistant from each other, like in a grid. It was weird, man. I’ve never seen anything like it before. B

Day Twenty-One

Madadayo (1993) None of the local newspapers would print anything about the UFO I saw. Like, I’m not expecting it to be front page news or anything, but you’d think they’d want to print a little something. It’s news, after all. It really happened. I did get a free tote bag and coffee mug, though, so it wasn’t a total loss. C

Day Twenty-Two

The Hidden Fortress (1958) Pretty sure Kurosawa just ripped most of this off from Star Wars? C-3PO+

Day Twenty-Three

No Regrets for Our Youth (1946) To be completely honest, I didn’t really understand most of this movie because I don’t understand Japanese. D-

Day Twenty-Four

Ikiru (1952) My cats were being so cute while I watched this, I started snapping a few pics of them and before I knew it I had over 50. It took me the whole rest of the movie to Instagram them all. Time to let the likes roll in. B+

Day Twenty-Five

I Live in Fear (1955) Got 12 likes!! B

Day Twenty-Six

Red Beard (1965) Seven more likes! A

Day Twenty-Seven

The Idiot (1951) It kind of hit me while I was watching this that I’ve been doing this every day for just about a month now, and I’m nearing the end. Can I be honest with you? For years now I’ve been adrift, my life all but meaningless, hardly having a reason to get up out of bed in the mornings, tilting listlessly from paycheque to paycheque and drink to drink. But watching these films has pulled my life into a direction. However trifling it may seem, it’s been a constant that I’ve desperately needed, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s over. No rating, what’s the point?

Day Twenty-Eight

High and Low (1963) Things got a bit real yesterday. I’m feeling better today, and I’m confident that things will turn around for me soon. You never know what tomorrow will bring. B

Day Twenty-Nine

Kagemusha (1980) I finally beat the level in Candy Crush that I’ve been stuck on for, like, two years! B+

Day Thirty

Rashomon (1950) Rashomon is considered to be not only one of Kurosawa’s greatest achievements, but one of the greatest in the history of film. Its innovative camera techniques and use of multiple perspectives of the same narrative changed filmmaking forever. It was the film which launched Japanese cinema into world consciousness, and cemented Kurosawa as one of the leading figures in the medium not just at the time, but of all time. I don’t know, though, I was distracted by this really itchy mosquito bite on my leg that I couldn’t stop scratching the whole time. C

Well, my boy. It’s hard to say exactly when it started. I suppose it was as early as twenty-thirteen or twenty-fourteen. ‘Course, it’s easy now to look back at everything that’s happened in all the years since then and say it was obvious what was going on. At the time, it was hardly nothin’. It was just part of our everyday lives back then. I know that seems pretty unenlightened to you young folks of today, but things was different back in those days. Simpler, you could say.

But before long it escalated, and what happened next was one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever saw. The Great Introvert War. It was a dark time for humanity. Brother against brother, sister against sister, me against everyone in my book club. And the lines drawn are still felt to this day.

It seemed innocent enough at first. History folk will say the real start to it was a sudden onslaught of online lists about what it’s like to be introverted. Sure, they was made to look harmless, with lots of pics and animated gifs from 30 Rock and New Girl, but there was somethin’ a whole lot more sinister at work there. Drove a wedge right down the middle of society is what it did.

Now supposin’ you’re all set to marry the pretty young gal from down the street. She’s a little shy, but you’ve been sweet on each other since grade school, and everything’s ready to go. Then one day there’s some inflammatory BuzzFeed link going around called “22 Things You Need to Know if You’re Dating an Introvert,” and suddenly your whole world is turned upside down and thisways that.

A lot of people started wonderin’ about the people they was with, and things started to turn ugly. It wasn’t long before there was numbers you could call to report someone if you knew they was an introvert, and not much longer after that people started gettin’ killed. It became organized. Secret coded messages, unintelligible to extroverts, started being passed around under headlines like “34 Things Only Introverts will Understand.”

‘Course, you know all about that from the history holograms at your school. But it was a different thing to live through it. History folk will tell you all about what caused what, and who fought who in what battle. But they ain’t going to tell you about what it was like to lose half of your friends, your family. They can’t tell you how it felt for me when your grandmother was taken away to the introvert camps.


Horrible, ghastly places, those camps. Big complexes of individual cells where introverts were forced to live by themselves, with virtually no contact with the outside world. ‘Course, the introverts loved ’em, and flocked to ’em in droves. Many of us never saw a lot of our friends and family again. It could’ve just ended there, with the world divided like it were. We could’ve just left each other alone. But the smugness of the introvert knows no bounds. And what happened next I can hardly bear to recall.

It was devastating for us extroverts. Almost lost us the war when they unleashed their most diabolical weapon. “17 Signs You’re a Secret Introvert” it was called. It spread around Facebook like wildfire. Came out of the clear blue sky. Ain’t none of us was expectin’ somethin’ like this. All of a sudden you didn’t know who to trust. Anyone, this list proclaimed, no matter how outgoing they appeared in public, could actually be an introvert at heart. And right there at the top of the article was a meme of Amy Poehler.

She was supposed to be one of our most steadfast and powerful extroverts. This was slander. It sent shockwaves through our camp, and almost immediately people were turning each other in. Their friends, their drinking buddies, their obnoxious co-workers who were always imitating techno beats. It was a fever. A panic. It almost lost us the war. But we managed to bounce back in the eleventh hour, as any history robot will tell you.

Some people believe there are still introverts out there, hiding in their vast underground cave systems, rechargin’ and preparin’ to venture back out into the world for revenge. After BuzzFeed was dismantled and all its content creators hanged, they lost their main method of propaganda dissemination. But some say they’re plotting, back and forth in long threads of @ replies in their private Twitter accounts, and it’s only a matter of time till they strike again. They just need to work up the resolve to go out in public once more.

And all we can do until that day, my dear boy, is keep living the life we fought so hard to preserve, to ensure the extroverts who died didn’t do it in vain. Having house parties, gettin’ drunk in movie theatres, and talkin’ way too loud at brunch in trendy cafes. Thems are the birthrights of every extrovert.


Photo by Frédéric Vissault via Flickr

Twenty years is a long time. Especially in the video game industry, which in the last twenty years has seen a growth and shift in cultural perception virtually unimaginable back in 1994. In those days video games were still largely considered kids’ stuff, at least in North America. Parents’ views were that video games were at best trifling time-wasters, or at worst actually damaging to impressionable young minds.

Final Fantasy VI was released in North America on October 20th, 1994. I was eleven years old. It was the sixth entry in the series, but only the third outside of Japan, and so was originally known here as Final Fantasy III. Confusing numbering continuity aside, one thing was clear: the game was a landmark; not just of the RPG genre, but of video gaming as a whole to that point. It was an immediate critical and commercial success, and has continued to this day to be regarded as one of the best video games of all time.

Themes of alienation, isolation, discrimination, love (unrequited, misguided, doomed), a desire to belong, and, above all, humanity’s will to overcome. These were not new to the Final Fantasy franchise, but never had they been so aching, so immediate. By turns melodramatic and understated, solemn and comic, hopeful and despairing. Never, though, anything less than engaging.


Set in a world divided by the ways of the past and ever-encroaching industrial technology, a land where magic once existed and has been all but forgotten, become legend; where those few who possess the ability of magic, whether innately or through genetic engineering, are feared and hated. They are sought out by the rising Gestahlian Empire, taken control of and enslaved for militaristic purposes, and despised by the general public for being different.

This was some heavy stuff, if a little hamfisted at times, for an eleven-year-old. I was on the cusp of adolescence, at the point when one begins to carve out a real personality, form the ideas and ideals that will set them on the path to the person they’ll eventually become as an adult. It was no small impact that this game had on me in those formative years, when I played and replayed it. Rushing home from school to get as much time in as I could before I was told that was enough for one night. Getting up early on Saturday mornings and not realizing until I was called for dinner that I hadn’t eaten anything all day. To say Final Fantasy VI had an influence on me would be like saying Kefka had a slight emotional imbalance.

So, into this pixelated world of tenuous political balance and burgeoning civil unrest walks Terra, the de facto main character of the game, a young woman with the gift of magic, under the control of the Empire, with no clear memory of who she is or where she came from. After escaping the Empire’s clutches, she’s thrust into centre stage of a struggle between her former captors and an underground resistance group, The Returners, who see her as their greatest hope to turn the tables in their favour. As the game unfolds and Terra is forced to confront her past and choose her future, we’re introduced to one of the largest casts of characters in the Final Fantasy series.


Locke, an adventurer and treasure hunter with a complex stemming from events in his past which causes him to compulsively fall for women and try to rescue them. Celes, traitorous former general of the Imperial army, gifted with magic ability through genetic tampering, and distrusted by everyone but Locke. Kefka, a demented clown who doesn’t have a qualm with murdering an entire kingdom, because he’s bent on not just taking over the world, but destroying it. Gau, a feral youth raised by beasts in the wild, but with a heart filled with boundless kindness and a love of shiny things. Shadow, a black-clad mercenary assassin with a dog and a tragic past who it’s said would “slit his own mama’s throat for a nickel,” coming and going from your party if the pay is right. And Ultros, a toothy octopus who’s, well, just kind of an asshole.

And so many more. Their paths crossing and uncrossing and crossing again as they weave through the sprawling narrative. Boarding a Ghost Train on its voyage to take the dead to the other side. Navigating the buildings of an Empire-occupied town, disguised as merchants and soldiers to avoid capture. Invading the industrial clangour of the Imperial Magitek Research Facility, where the terrible secret of genetically engineered magic is discovered. The opera house.

Oh, the opera sequence. To infiltrate the Empire undetected your party needs use of an airship. But, alas, the only airship in the world belongs to the notorious gambler and womanizer, Setzer. How will you ever convince him to let you use it? Well, it so happens that the ever-put upon impresario of the opera house has received a letter from Setzer himself, declaring that he will kidnap the opera’s star, Maria, at the climax of the next performance! But, wait! It also just so happens that Celes looks just like Maria! And so, a great switcheroo is pulled, with no real mention of how Celes can sing at a professional operatic level.

Have you ever heard such a delightfully contrived plot point? It’s magnificent in its refusal to submit to its own ridiculousness. The resulting events, a madcap chase during an opera-within-a-video-game, is one of the most memorable scenes I’ve seen in my life, in any entertainment medium.


But what sets Final Fantasy VI apart from RPGs of its time, and even many after, is that for every zany adventure and world-shaking event, there are many moments of quiet humanity. These are not the typical band of noble-hearted wizards and warriors setting out on a quest to vanquish a terrible evil. They are profoundly human characters who are doing what they’re doing because for their own personal reasons they feel they need to. The triumph of the human spirit is what rests at the heart of Final Fantasy VI. A phoenix rising from the ashes of a world torn apart by greed and lust for power. But that triumph, that redemption, is woven into the story on a much more intimate scale as well.

It’s that humanity that makes the game so enduring. It’s impossible to play through it without becoming emotionally invested in these characters. Many, if not most of them, are grappling with some kind of inner demon, real or perceived. And their internal struggles mirror those of the larger story, as they learn to allow themselves to love, to be loved, to let go of the past, and to figure out, when the world is saved, whether there will be a place left in it for them.

And who can’t relate to that? At any age. No matter how old the story. Or how many times it’s been told.

The first time I saw her, something changed in me. It was at breakfast, in a greasy little diner I frequented around that time. She walked in just as the waitress was setting down my classic eggs Benedict. A vision through the steam which rose from the moist surrender of the hash browns on my plate. Two delicate, quivering mounds, splashed with an obscene sensuality by creamy hollandaise sauce. The sizzling whispers of bacon caused my heart to thunder in my head, and blood rushed through my entire body exhilaratingly. I knew at that moment she was a woman I wanted. To do. Like, in a sex way.

I approached her table and our eyes locked. I sat down without a word exchanged between us. Boy, she was totally a babe. With boobs and everything. Probably other parts, too. She held a grill-plumped sausage between her fingers, lightly, but firm with meaning. Gently she caressed with the sausage’s tip between the tender edges of her short stack, glistening, dripping with the sweetest of maple syrups, until with desperate abandon she thrust the sausage within. A quick spurt of grease trickled out as she raised the meat-filled pancake to her mouth.

My mind was racing, but I kept my cool. “Whoa,” I said, “I totally have a boner.” And she was all like, “yeah, me too, wanna go do it?” Though her mouth was full of pig-in-a-blanket, so I almost didn’t catch it. But then I was like, “totally.” So we went to my apartment and totally did sex. Like, full-on P in V sex. I saw her boobs and even touched them, too. We were all sweaty and stuff, and she made these moaning noises and I kind of grunted. She was like, “wow this sex is such good sex!” And I was all, “yeah, we’re totally having it! Sex, that is!”

After that we couldn’t bear to be apart. We met the next day at a coffee shop downtown. We sat across from each other at small table in an intimate corner, though the dishes between us proved but a trifling distraction from how much we wanted to bone. She swirled her biscotti, taught and swollen with want, through the warm froth of her mocha.

I held a chicken salad sandwich with both hands, roughly, but with a tenderness I could give to nothing but that which I longed for ceaselessly. I pulled it close to my lips, my breath hot and ragged on its cool mayonnaise and diced celery. I was locked with it then for a moment which to the rest of the world sped by in smoggy metropolitan rush hour time, but for me, and the sandwich, seemed to span the flare and burning out of a thousand distant suns. When at last it met my mouth, it seemed for the merest second to resist, to quake at the passion erupting among us. Then it gave in. Gave itself to me completely. And we were one.

And then me and that girl went and totally banged somewhere again. Like, in a bathroom somewhere, I think.

The next few months were a torrid blur of lovemaking and enchiladas. To this day when I close my eyes I see her beautiful face, contorted; in the throes of ecstasy, eating corn on the cob. There was one weekend we spent locked in her bedroom just having sex. It felt really good. Like… like what sex feels like. Y’know, like how it feels? I don’t know how to describe it, but you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, we both complimented each other on how totally good we are at sex, and we high-fived a bunch.

More than anything else, I look back at my time with her with an ache, a longing unparalleled to any I’ve felt before or that I can possibly fathom feeling again. There is, burned like fever in my memory, a picture of a perfect moment. Fleeting, simple, and elegant, it’s a moment I will take with me to the ends of this world and beyond. A burger we shared at a picnic table one sultry summer’s afternoon. I can still see the winding trail of burger juice and mustard rolling lazily down her chin after that first bite. And then we totally went at it, sexually. If you know what I mean.

The vicarious thrill of reliving that moment is all I have left of her. Always will I look back on it, and that burger. With relish.


Photo by Harumi Ueda via Flickr

Facebook is ubiquitous, and it ain’t going away any time soon. That’s a good thing, because it’s a valuable social tool. But it can be pretty overwhelming when you log on and you’re confronted with an all-out assault from friends, family, co-workers, people from high school that you didn’t even care about then, and that creepy weirdo you met at a party one time and had a fifteen minute conversation with about Joss Whedon that was mostly just you agreeing that yeah, you guess Firefly was pretty good and pretending you didn’t sleep through most of The Avengers.

You have the people you want to stay updated on, the ones who are important to you, but how do you go about weeding through the rest? Who deserves to get the axe? Often it takes careful consideration, a weighing of pros and cons that doesn’t just take into account the present, but the future of relationships too. That being said, there are a few people on our friends lists we’ve all got that have no business being there, and whom you should drop right now like a cat into a crock pot.

People with children

It’s a pretty hard and fast rule that anyone with kids should be avoided online at all costs. Nothing good can come of being friends with parents. It’s just one never-ending cavalcade of pictures and braggy status updates about the “amazing” thing their child did that day. Oh, my kid took his first steps today. Look, my kid can use the potty now. Wow, now he’s graduated top of his class. Whoopee, my kid got appointed to the Supreme Court. Big deal, I can walk and poop and get a job. Well, I can walk and poop, anyway. And I’ve appeared in court.

Online activists

You know the type. They post all day about all these causes, acting like they’re making a difference, but they never actually do anything real. There’s a difference between really making an impact and just sharing a bunch of links and photos. So you got a bunch of people to sign a petition about some oil pipeline, it’s not like that took a lot of effort. And is it really that much work to organize a protest that stops the destruction of the only local habitat of an endangered species of bird? I doubt it. You know what? I looked it up, and a lot of those birds are just going to get eaten by cats and bigger birds anyway, so smooth move on that one, John James Audubon.

Also, raising money for breast cancer research by riding your bike across three provinces? That’s not even half of the country. Better luck next time. And $8400 isn’t even that much money, either. I make that in like three years.

Your exes

This one should be a no-brainer, but a lot of people hold off on hitting that unfriend button because they want to keep tabs on their ex. It’s a lot easier that way to find out where someone’s going and sit in your parked car outside, smoking cigarette after cigarette listening to radio static for four hours stewing about who they could be seeing inside that condo.

And, let’s not kid ourselves, social media allows us to rub their face in our current successes, too. But really, as soon as the relationship is done you should cut those ties. Otherwise, what may start as a civil, respectful post-romantic friendship will almost certainly turn ugly. Spiteful messages will be sent, embarassingly photoshopped photos will be posted, and rumours will start to spread about who’s a big cheating whore and who’s not. And eventually this will all be used in her case to take out a restraining order on me.

Well, guess what, Charlene? If you didn’t want your dad and your 67-year-old aunt and your fiancé to know that you once told me I’m better at oral than any guy you’ve ever been with, then maybe you shouldn’t have created a situation in which I can tag you in even one  post about it, let alone four.

There’s no foreseeable time when Facebook isn’t a regular part of everyday life. So we might as well get used to it. We’re well past the early, Wild West days when your stature in life was told by how many friends you had. Thankfully we’ve now settled into a much more calm and reasonable system based on the quality of those friendships. And, obviously, the much more vital count of how many Twitter followers you have.

Photo by Gerard Girbes via Flickr

I guess I should get one thing straight immediately; I haven’t quit drinking. Not even close. My habitual booze habits have done nothing if not steadily increase as the years of my adult life have been knocked back, one jigger at a time.

But I’ve recently seen a lot of articles and blogs being shared around that have gotten me thinking. Stories from people who have given up their hard drinking ways, and the inspiring recounts of how much their lives have changed for the better. And so I sit here, glassy-eyed and unable to distinguish whether I need to throw up or sneeze twelve times in a row but confident I’ll pee unchecked if I do either, and I wonder, why not me?

And that’s led me to this point. A year from now I could be telling the world my interminable story of sobriety that no one really wants to hear but everyone has to pretend to show support for. A little glimpse into my teetotaling future that will lend me support when I’m tempted and will, most importantly, get me guilt-driven Facebook likes. If you’ll indulge me here, like I indulged the other night in half a bottle of vermouth with orange peel twists because I ran out of gin, imagine for a moment it’s one year in the future.

A year without drinking a drop of alcohol. Wow. That’s a long time sober. Who would’ve thought I could have made it this far? Certainly I had my doubts. Probably more than anyone. But here I stand, a breathing testament to willpower and committment. A heavily laboured breathing testament, to be sure, but that’s only because of the gross amount of weight I’ve put on in the last year from swapping my compulsion to drink and socialize with one to eat my feelings away while shut from the outside world in a curtained apartment. The feelings I had previously banished through a level of liquor consumption which could bring shame to a family name.

So, let’s take a look at some of the ways my life has improved since I decided to quit the bottle. First of all, the obvious one: no more hangovers. I used to view hangovers as this inevitable part of life, the flip side of the coin that I would have to deal with to keep living the wild party lifestyle I thought I needed. Headaches and nausea in the mornings are a thing of the past, though, and now my hours upon waking are filled with good old fashioned crippling anxiety, depression, and a healthy terror of interacting with anyone outside my bedroom door.

Speaking of interacting with people, the change in my relationships in the last year has been marked. At work I’ve noticed a shift in my co-workers’ behaviour toward a much more cool and detached attitude, which I attribute to my newfound focus on professionalism. Though I’m starting to think my visible shaking and inability to make eye contact or hold a conversation without fighting back tears might have a little bit to do with it. One big plus is the recent friendship that’s struck up between me and my HR representative at our weekly mandatory case meetings, which began only a few short weeks after I stopped drinking.

Family engagements have changed drastically, too. Without the hazy cloud of alcohol, I’m able to really connect with my relatives in a way I’ve never been able to before. Never have the innumerable nuances that my uncle Marty so painstakingly details about his job at the car rental outlet been so vivid to me. The holidays are no longer just an excuse to get tipsy in celebration, but a time to reflect on what’s important and find new ways of winning internal struggles with thoughts of suicide.

And let’s not ignore the impact that this has all had on my romantic life. Dating used to be a heady blur of glasses of wine gulped back to calm fluttering nerves, flushed faces and dreamy eyes longing from across a table in candlelight exchanging naughty secrets. Now it’s much more straightforward and efficient. Dates are a lot quicker. Usually within the first ten minutes I’ve abruptly blurted out any and every embarrassing secret or story that pops into my head, and then I can’t think of anything to say for the rest of the evening except to constantly have my date reassure me that she’s having a good time. Often these dates end with her excusing herself to use the restroom and then leaving having paid the bill for both of us because she’s either afraid of or for me. It’s for the best, though, because without the calming warmth of a few glasses of scotch or cognac I would probably be too nervous to get an erection anyway.

One year. It’s amazing how much can change in such a short period of time. Maybe this has even inspired some people out there to start their own journey. I hope you can look to my story for strength, like I’ll look to it myself, whenever you feel like the urge is too strong. Yes, it’s truly incredible what the human spirit can accomplish when we set out to do something, and the first step begins now.

Well, like, soon probably. I mean, I’m going to have another few drinks today, but we’ll see tomorrow. Oh, wait, I’ve got that thing tomorrow night. Well, sometime next week for sure. Or by the end of the month. Though, there’s a lot going on this summer. Maybe if I just try to cut down on the amount I drink. That’ll probably work, right? Like, I don’t need to quit entirely, the point is I could quit whenever.


Photo by Travis S. via Flickr