Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Canada has fake bands too, you know.

I'm kind of getting a kick out of HelloGiggles.com as a fun site for randomness and pop culture. (my massive girly-crush on Zooey Deschanel notwithstanding) However, I'm finding it unforgiveable that twice now they have posted articles on the best fake bands from movies and made glaring omissions.  Maybe it's a deep-seated prejudice against Canadian Content, or maybe they are just sadly ignorant of our offerings north of the border (god knows...  Canadians hardly recognize that we have a film AND a television industry, so I can't be too hard on the Americans).

The other possibility is that with the exception of my last choice, the bands I mention can only be considered 'good' if 'good' to you doesn't necessarily mean 'talented, with catchy tunes' but rather 'kind of goofy but nonetheless amusing as fuck.'

Here are some examples that have twice now been left off the list, and have thus prevented me from giving HelloGiggles full recognition as a credible pop culture website.

- OR -

Sometimes I just like to piggyback on other people's ideas.

Thunderface - Corner Gas
Consisting of Hank on Vocals, Brent on guitar, Wanda on bass and Karen on drums, Thunderface decided to reunite for a show at the hotel after a 15 year hiatus, much to Paul's delight.  After kicking the Tragically Hip out of Brent's garage to practice, their one show is cut short by the fuzz, otherwise known as Davis (who is jealous that Karen got picked as drummer over him).

Rod Torfulson's Armada Featuring Herman Menderchuck - Kids in the Hall

Originally known as simply Armada, they're goal was to practice, always showing up on time and arrive having eaten.  The nameless singer played by Kevin McDonald basically did all the work, but was consistently over-ridden by bandmates Rod and Herman, whether it be to add backup singers, or even keep Kevin in the band (while keeping his songs).

The Zit Remedy/The Zits - Degrassi Junior High

Joey Jeremiah, Derek "Wheels" Wheeler and Archie "Snake" Simpson only ever managed to write one song over their 3-4 year career and man, was it terrible but catchy in a way that after 12 hours of having it stuck in your head, you would begin to believe that the 'Something' that 'everybody wants' was probably something sharp to jab in your eardrum to distract you from this godawful song.  Still, you had to admire their persistence.  Maybe, I don't know.

(the only reason I can sit through this video is for the occasional glance at Clutch's ass)

You've been warned, though.

Hard Core Logo - Hard Core Logo
All joking aside, this is really where I think the HelloGiggles article dropped the ball.  Hell, Barbie and the Rockers made it onto their list, but they somehow managed to miss possible the most bad-assed of fake bands.  I'm not saying this just because of my deep-seated desire to be the meat in a Hugh-Dillon-Callum-Keith-Rennie-Circa-1996 Sammich.

I can watch this movie over and over.  I will admit, I have judged people on their enjoyment of Hard Core Logo.  Who could watch the dysfunctional vaguely homoerotic relationship between Joe Dick and Billy Talent, the good-natured antics of Pipe Fitter and John Oxenbergers decent into madness and NOT want to join a punk band?

Well, I would.

Don't take this the wrong way, but to quote Mr. Joe Dick himself "You don't know shit from good chocolate, baby."

(I'm kidding, actually.  I just really wanted to used that line.  No hard feelings, k?)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Has your brain exploded yet today? Here, allow me to help.

This is one of the more brain-explodey, face-palmy, loss-of-faith in humanity things I have read today.

Judge Blasts Kids For Suing Mom Over Birthday Card

From the sound of it, two spoiled, privileged-as-hell upper class twits and their father, who apparently has too much money and time on his hands, have been killing time the last two years in a lawsuit against the kids' mom for what basically amounted to 'Bad Mothering'.

"Did she beat them?" one might ask.  "Was she cruel?  Emotionally abusive?  Neglectful?"

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of cruel.  Among the charges lodged against Kimberly Garrity were:
...failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then 7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses, and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

My personal favorite one is the charge from her son who suffered great emotional distress because she sent him a birthday card but 'neglected' to include a check or any cash.  Nor did she ever send the poor suffering dear any care packages while he was away at colleges.

Pardon me whilst I grab my smelling salts.
On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

“Son I got you this Birthday card because it's just like you . . . different from all the rest!" the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote "Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo.”
Granted, that's a pretty cheesy card.  I groaned when I read it.  Googly eyed Tomatoes?  Puh-lease.   That being said though, I would hardly call this a trauma requiring $50K in compensation.  Fortunately, the judge in this case called it for what it appears to be.. bullshit.  This is one of those cases I would have loved to see go in front of Judge Judy - is she even still on the air?

I'm pretty sure Judge Judy would have tore a strip off these kids and their lawyer dad (Oh, that's right.. Mom has to pay her own legal fees to fight this, but the kiddies get Daddy all pro bono and such) and made them wear it as a scarf.
I like to pretend she's flipping the bird here.  Source
The amount of entitlement here is disgusting.  There are two things that piss me off.  Okay, that's a lie, anyone who knows me knows there are a number of things that piss me off.. but two things that piss me off in relation to this story are as follows:

  • I take great issue with parents who use their kids as props in their revenge scenarios during and after a divorce.  
It's something I've gone to great lengths to avoid myself because it generally doesn't do the kids any good at all, and I'd say this is a pretty good illustration.  The kids' (who are not so much kids as adults in their early 20s) father claims he tried to dissuade his kids from pursuing the case, but I call bullshit.  Why?  Because he continued to represent them, even though it was a bullshit case.

  • Second, I hate the hell out of people who try to frame not getting every damn thing their own little way as 'abuse' or 'neglect'.  
Seriously.  Now, to play devil's advocate, I realize there are two sides to every story and Garrity may possibly be the mother from hell.. but it would stand to reason that if she really were some horrible, neglectful, cruel parent and the kids were going to go so far as to bring a lawsuit against her, if they were going to go that far I would think they'd have something more compelling to bring to the table than 'OMG.. she bought me a CARD, the BITCH'.

It degrades and devalues the claims of people who really have gone through hell and back with abusive parents.  These kids need a little more exposure to what shitty parenting is really like.   Maybe a googly eyed tomato and a midnight call to the school dance wouldn't seem so bad. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Conversations with my Kid: The "Mommy's not here to win friends" edition

T: Mommy, do you think I'm a good singer?
Me: Of cou...
Me: I wouldn't tell you were a good singer if I didn't think you were.
T: Oh, come on!
Me: No, If I didn't think you were a good singer I'd probably go "Uhm.... er... *averts eyes* How was school?"  And then you'd say "I didn't GO to school today!" and I'd say "Why weren't you in school?  You're GROUNDED!"
T: But it's summer, so there is no school! So you can't ground me!

(at this point I'm thinking 'way to keep up with the conversation, kid. ')

Me: I could... if I was desperately trying to divert your attention by changing the subject.
T: ....
Me:  So yeah, I think you're a good singer.
T: Oh.  Okay.  Thanks.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good News, Everyone.

My computer is officially fixed.

Be prepared to get esophaegal-lining-rupturing SICK of hearing from me.

*resists urge to sign opening lines from Eminem's 'Without Me'*

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Inducing rage on your Tuesday morning.

Quick post.

Last week, I posted about what I considered the best feminist children's book ever.

This week I'm taking you in the opposite direction, as I have caught wind of what could possibly be the worst book to get your little girl (or boy).  It's called Maggie Goes On A Diet.  It's about a little fat girl who goes on a diet to fit into a pretty pink dress and becomes popular and plays some soccer.

Can we get a big, collective, face palm right now?

It's about a 14-year-old girl, but the book is aimed at the 4-7 age bracket.  BRING EM YOUNG.  Let's look at some of the problematic messages:

Thinness is the ticket to popularity.
Only thin people are athletic.
You are valued for your appearance.

The comments and tags that are going up on the Amazon site for this page are heartening though.  It looks like people are getting that this is a craptacular lesson to be sending  to little kids.  I somehow think this book isn't going to be doing any great amount of sales.

I don't mind saying, for anyone who does buy this for their kids, I hope something very large and pointy falls on them from a great height.

Myself?  I wouldn't be caught dead.  I'd rather read my kids "Go The Fuck to Sleep"

It'd be less damaging in the long run.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Little One

Today is my youngest daughter's eighth birthday.

A few months ago, when my older daughter celebrated her 10th birthday, I wrote about how I found out I was pregnant, and about the day I was born.

I'm not going to do that today.

For two reasons, mainly:

Back in May, I had regular access to a working computer.  So that's something.. I've still not got the home comp fixed so I'm forced to blog in spare moments here and there.

Second, the time of Reegs' birth was not a particular happy one for me.  I'm sad to say, I've blocked a lot of that period of time out of my memory.  The parts I remember tend to make me a little stabby and rage-filled, even after all these years.  In the name of keeping things upbeat, I'll avoid the specific events of the day.  Maybe another day I'll go into them, but now is not the time.

What I will say is that there was, once upon a time, a decision I had to face due to circumstances that were beyond my control.  A decision that, had I chosen otherwise, would have meant that I would not be sitting here writing this today because there would be no happy birthday today.  I chose what I felt I needed at that time.

The love that I felt for this little girl was probably the only thing that kept me sane during what was, up to that point, the worst period of my life.  Okay, even to this point, it was still the worst period of my life.

*Knocks wood.*

She was, and continues to be, a smiling, giggling, thoughtful, beautiful, mysterious beacon of hope that I thank the great unknown forces of the universe for on a daily basis because I don't know what I would do without either of them in my life.  Although I love Tierney every bit as much - she was my first, she made me a mother - I have a special place in my heart for my Reagan, maybe because of the circumstances of her birth I feel more protective of her, feel more of a need to be sure that no matter what, she knows that she is loved and wanted by all those around her.

The birth of your sister forever changed my life and who I was for the better.  Yours saved me.
Happy Birthday Reagan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The best feminist children's book ever.

The Paper Bag Princess

If you grew up in the 80's, in Canada especially then it's likely you are no stranger to the wonderful stories of Robert Munch.  I had a collection of teeny-tiny pocket versions of his books, which tended towards simple but humorous plots (a dad who sleepwalks, a kid who won't wear his ugly snowsuit, a kid who won't go to the bathroom until the last minute) and cute illustrations generally provided by Michael Martchenko.  As soon as my kids were old enough to focus their eyes on a book, I began collecting anthologies of Munsch's work so that I could share them with my kids.

Somewhere in the time between being a six-or-seven-year-old with a profound love of reading and a thirty-something mother-of-two I happened to learn a bit about the media and about feminist theory and social constructionism and how gender portrayals in the media tend to affect us.  So upon revisiting what is possible Munsch's most well-known work (aside from that unholy tearjerker that everyone sadist likes to give expectant mothers at baby showers, Love You Forever) I was pleasantly surprised to find a strong feminist message in this story about a princess who outsmarts a dragon to save her beloved.

Let's recap, shall we?  Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry Prince Ronald.  Oh, he's cute and all and she's rather smitten.  So it's understandable that when the dragon comes and destroys her (yes.. *her*) kingdom and carries off Prince Ronald, she is eager to get him back.

The book gets its title from how after her kingdom is burned to smithereens all Elizabeth has left to wear is an old dirty paper bag.  This comes into play later in the story.

By way of her intellect, Elizabeth tricks the dragon into exhausting himself by performing various dragonesque stunts until he collapses, leaving Prince Ronald unguarded.  Pretty clever, no?  Not even clever 'for a girl'.  Just clever.

Here's the rub.  Rather than showing some gratitude towards Elizabeth for saving his useless ass, Prince Ronald turns his nose up and tells Elizabeth that she is a mess and should come back when she 'looks more like a princess.'  Rather than fret and be all apologetic for not living up to Ronald's gender and class expectations, Elizabeth firmly but respectfully informs Ronald that he's a narcisisstic asshat (my words, not hers.. this IS a children's book.  Elizabeth, I believe, calls him a 'bum') and lives happily ever after, ON HER OWN (or at the very least, without the company of the insufferable Prince Ronald).  This is the impression we're given anyway, between the line "And she didn't get married, after all" and Martchenko's illustration of Elizabeth walking off into the sunset, clicking her heels with joy.

So we have a princess who uses her wit and resources at hand to show concern and come to the aide of those around her, undeserving as they may be.  Her kingdom is describe as her own.  She outsmarts the dragon without doing harm to him, so she is an empathetic character.  She is able to recognize that her own self-worth is of higher importance than marriage to a prince.  Let's also add that this is not the stereotypical 'beautiful' princess.  Elizabeth is pretty in an average, relatable*  sort of way.

I love that the message in this book is not an overtly preachy one, and is one that is universal to anyone of any gender, ethnicity, class etc... Be resourceful, and you are not obligated to people who disrespect you.  The fact that Elizabeth is conceived in such a brilliantly simple manner as a Strong Female Character - that is, strong in character and intellect, not necessarily just a more ass-kicking object for the male gaze - is what makes this an excellent feminist children's book.

*I'll concede that Elizabeth may be more relatable if you're a little white girl.  However, Munch has made a point of incorporating characters of many ethnicities in his stories, generally without resorting to stereotyping

Monday, August 8, 2011

Got about 20 minutes before the work whistle blows..

So let's talk about censorship.  Well, an part of censorship that is often not talked about:  Radio edits of popular songs.

Ever listen to a song on the radio, find it really catchy, then get the album and go "Whoa, wasn't expecting THAT!"  Maybe it was hearing Thom Yorke sing "You're so fucking special" for the first time in Radiohead's  Creep.  When I first bought Hawksley Workman's Lover/Fighter (well, actually my friend bought it and burned it for me, and burned herself a copy of Between the Beautifuls that I had bought after his show at the Danforth Music Hall back in 2007, but I digress) and popped in my car stereo, I *may* have nearly driven off the road when the first line of We Will Still Need a Song chimed in with a resounding "Fuck you, you're drunk and acting tough...".  Up until then, I had heard only the radio-friendly lyrics "Baby, you're drunk etc etc"

On occasion I find the radio edit preferable to the uncensored version.  For years, I loved the innocent first-gushing-mooshy-puppy love feel of Liz Phair's Why Can't I with lines like:

Here we are, we're at the beginning
We haven't kissed yet but my head is swimming

When I heard the unedited version that replaced 'kissed' with 'fucked' I just felt kind of... bleh.  Like some of the uncynical, unjaded innocence I had always read into the song was lost.  Of course, I wasn't totally aware at the time that Liz Phair was all about jaded cynicism.  To this day, when I play this song, I refused to sing the original lyrics.

The album version of Eminem's breakout hit Hi, My Name Is was another one that left me cold.  I found the radio edit fun and mischevious.. Eminem was a troublemaker, a bit of a miscreant but in a likeable way, kind of like a grown-up fucked up Dennis the Menace.  Of course the album version is a lot closer to what we were to expect from Eminem.. violent, mysogynistic etc.  Meh.

The latest one to get my goat is Enrique Iglesias' Tonight I'm Loving (Fucking) You (depending on the edit). The radio edit is irritating at best, but the album edit is creepy and downright rapey.  Come on, Enrique.  What happened to you?  Once upon a time you were all "Oh, I could be your hero, baby" and now this?  I guess the bloom is off the rose and all attempts at romance have gone right out the door.  Now you just sound like the asshole boyfriend who was all nice and sensitive and on his best game in the beginning but now his idea of foreplay is "Hey, wanna screw?"

What would your dad say, Enrique?

Addenendum:  In response to this piece, I got the following string of text messages from The Danno and I felt I should share:

"Oh poor, sweet, innocent 'Drea - if only you'd heard the original cut to "Hero" it may not have come as such an ugly revelation... I can be your hero baby (with my cock) I can kiss away the pain (with my cock)"

"Enrique has always been a rapey pig and a disappointment to his father-soft core conservative radio edits only masked it from us for the last few years ;-)"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Class Elitism, Thy Name is Tiny Beaches

I live in a small town with a lot of waterfront property, yet a proportionately small amount of public water access.  We have one small beach, two public docks and a small number of 'public' boat launches - somewhere in the area of 2-3.

It really frickin' grates my cheese that in a town that is surrounded by water, it is so bloody difficult to find a decent place to swim, especially with small children in tow.  Our public beach is a bit of a mess.  To get to a decent spot to swim, one must first wade through a couple feet of muck, then navigate a trail of slippery, moss-covered rocks before hitting a sandy bottom.  At this point, you may be able to wander out another 50 feet or so before hitting a bed of weed.  At this point, I'm maybe waist-deep in the water if I'm lucky.

Of the two public docks, one is surrounded by weed beds, and both garner a fair amount of boaters and/or anglers which make swimming hazardous at best.  There's one boat launch that has half-decent swimming, but little to no beach to speak off.  About 20 square feet of beach, I'd wager.

The rest of the water front that is taken up by cottages, waterfront homes, and luxury condos the latter of which not only restrict water access to the very wealthy, but also serves to prevent the rest of us from really even enjoying the view of the water.

So it comes that I have to venture out of town to find some decent swimming for my children and I.  About 20 minutes from us there is a long stretch of white, sandy beaches known as The Tiny Beaches.  Over the past few years, debates rages over the sanctity of public use of these shorelines as homeowners in the area attempted to subvert ability to access these public beaches.

This weekend it became clear that this fight for fair access is being lost.  My girls and I had been made aware of a beautiful stretch of beach at the end of the 6th concession of Tiny.  Crystal clear waters, sandy bottom with nary a rock or a weed in sight, water that stretched out for miles.  However, access to this 'public' beach is impeded by a severe lack of available parking.  That is to say, there is NO available parking.  For a while, we were able to park in a vacant lot about 500 meters from the beach entrance.  But this past Monday I was chagrined to find pink tape had been lined across the entrance to the lot and again we were thwarted, so off I drove to try and find parking that would result in less than a 20 minute walk with gear in tow.  Well, you know what?  The road that runs behind this beach, along with all the side roads, are lined with No Parking signs, or with Permit Parking only signs (a $60 fine for each three hour period).

Buy a permit.  That's reasonable, you say?

Sure.  Residents can get two permits for a cost of $15 dollars.  If you're from out of town, be prepared to pay upwards of $75 dollars for a permit.. if you can get one.

Once upon a time, access to these beaches were free for the public.  Then the property lining the shore began to get bought up by wealthy cottagers who did not want the great unwashed littering *their* pristine beaches. Anti-parking bylaws were passed, fences were built, and it became more and more clear that these 'Public beaches' - as are clearly posted - were only for the cottagers, the elite, and their friends... and for, perhaps, those hearty enough to walk or bike out to the far reaches of Tiny Township (which, if you are familiar with the area is a complete misnomer).

Last year one of the few remaining beaches with available parking implemented a 'Pay and Display' system, which is only a little less annoying than the permit parking.  Plans are in the works for next year to have the last remaining 'Free beach' at Balm Beach go pay parking, and restrict parking on the main road leading into the village.  Business owners in the area have protested metered parking, claiming it would cripple their business, which is a reasonable fear in my own humble opinion.

I can sympathize with some of the concerns of residents who pay property taxes to live in these areas.  When I was dating the most recent ex, who lived in the same general area, it was hard to even get to his place while navigating through the throngs of people and cars at the beach.  Thing is, the people, the crowds, the cars are hardly new.   It's not like these folks move in and go "Holy Shit!  People!" (well, maybe, if they buy during the winter months).  No, for the most part, they should probably know what they are getting into. But there seems to be an entitlement amongst the tourist class to come into an area such as ours and squeeze out the local lower-classes by changing the rules of the game to suit their comfort levels.  And of course Municipalities are going to go right along with it, because of the property taxes.

I guess what bothers me the most is that I wouldn't even have to deal with the bullshit parking issues in Tiny if my own constituency had a decent swimming area.  I know, I know.  First World Problems.  People in the world don't even have water to drink let alone swim in.  I know.  I'm whining.  But as someone who operates on a pretty strict budget and would like, once in a while, to have a fun day out at the beach with her children without settling for a mucky, boggy, rocky weedpatch of swimming hole, when there are white sandy beaches stretching for kilometers, if you only you can find somewhere to put your damn car, well, it's pretty frustrating.

*In the name of full disclosure, I should divulge that our family moved to this area from a suburb of Toronto after camping in the area for a number of years.  However, our move was based less on needing a 'summer home' to 'get away from it all' and more on 'Wow, Aurora sucks and living here is expensive as hell!'