Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Accidental Missionary

I have been trying to think of an appropriately holiday-themed topic for my blog post this week, but I couldn't come up with anything. I was writing about the stupid War on Christmas bullshit that is the most useless movement in the history of life (people, saying Happy Holidays is not an insult to Christians) but it was getting long and preachy and not very exciting.

As I was writing it, though, I remembered a funny little story from my childhood. And what's more Christmassy than a story about childlike curiosity, youthful naivety and friendship? I can't help but chuckle to myself as I'm writing it, so I hope you think it's funny too.

When I was a kid, around nine or ten years old, I got a pen pal through one of those Let's All Be Friends and Hold Hands With Kids Around The World type programs. It didn't last long - maybe two letters each - before we stopped caring about each other. My pen pal was a little girl from New York who I'm sure was a very nice person despite our general indifference to continue the letter-writing friendship after the novelty wore off.

I don't remember her name, but I'll pretend it is Hannah. One of the first things Hannah told me about herself in her initial letter to me was that she was Jewish. I found that very exotic and exciting. I didn't know many Jewish people and, because I was nine and stupid, I figured that she probably didn't know many Christians or much about Christianity.

I was curious about Judaism. I knew that Jews celebrated some sort of weeklong holiday called Hannukah around the same time that us Gentiles were waiting for Santa, but I didn't know anything about Hannukah or what Jewish holiday traditions were like.

I wanted to ask her, but I thought it would be rude to just ask her for information and not give her any of my own. We were pen pals, after all; it was all about getting to know one another, and sharing parts of you with someone else in the name of cultural harmony and yada yada yada. So I figured that, if I was going to ask her what Hannukah was like, I should tell her about Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Partial Hearing Loss

Warning (to most people) and/or selling point (for ten-year-old boys and people who have the mentality of ten-year-old boys): There are gross medical pictures in this post.

I've mentioned a couple of times now that I am hard of hearing. When I was a little kid - three or four - I started developping chronic, really bad ear infections. Ear infections are bad news bears, guys; they should never be neglected. Sadly, no one told my family doctor this, so despite my parents's repeated concerns that this wasn't normal, the doctor kept brushing it off and refusing to do anything about it. He is awful. So very awful. I will call him Dr. Awful. Eventually, my infections were so bad that even Dr. Awful finally acknowledged that maybe I needed to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. But it was too late: the problems has progressed beyond the point of antibiotics and bedrest.

My new ENT doctor, who I will call Dr. Awesome, determined that I had a condition called cholesteatoma. (Yes, I definitely spelled that wrong at first.)Cholesteatoma is a specific type of skin cyst that forms on the eardrum. It's a fucking asshole and should probably die.

If you want to learn more about cholesteatoma, here you go, but unless you are a doctor, biologist, or Trekkie, that Wikipedia page might as well be written in Klingon. I'll try and dumb it down, although I am not a doctor myself and most of this went on when I was too young to really get it, so my own interpretation is probably a bit off.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remembering Kids' Books

I've mentioned before that I am something of a big reader, and that I always have been.

I wasn't kidding. I learned to read at a young age, and was tested to read at a high-school level when I was just in grade five. I've won several awards and contests for my reading and writing, including a special medal for reading in kindergarten. And I'm not telling you this to brag - well, okay, I'm bragging a little. (How many of you got reading awards when you were five, bitches?) But I'm mostly just highlighting that reading and writing is kind of my thing. We all have certain skills that are natural to us, or certain hobbies that mean a lot to us; reading is mine. I can't explain why I've always been good at it, or why it's always been a favourite pastime. It's like breathing to me. I don't even remember learning how - it's like I was born knowing - and I can't imagine my life without books. My range in book tastes is pretty diverse: political non-fiction, epic adventure stories, mysteries, celebrated Canadian literature, pop horror, postmodernism, and, finally, comic books all have a home on my bookshelf.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Am A Happy Atheist

Whoa, Caterpillar.


The title of this post makes no sense! An atheist is, by definition, a person who is miserable and downtrodden and suffocating in a cloud of pain. How can an atheist find joy? Isn't an atheist a person whose hard life has led them down the path of cynicism and hate?

That's how I imagine you would have read the above title if you are a TV writer. You see, TV writers hate atheists. Or, more accurately, they hate their atheist characters. It doesn't matter if they themselves are atheists, since I'm sure atheist TV writers exist. But they must be really self-loathing! Because I have yet to come across a positive portrayal of atheism on television.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Things That Shouldn't Terrify Me but Do

It's Halloween!

I missed all the rad parties this weekend, because I was at an even-radder party: Alice's wedding to Dawson!

A huge cybercongratulations goes out to Alice and Dawson, who I am sure are going to be deliriously happy together when they're not trying to avoid a mental breakdown dealing with their adorable little hellraiser. So I hope you'll join me in wishing them a very happy life together. If their wedding was any indication of how happy they'll be, then they certainly don't need any luck in that department - they've got all the love they're going to need. Anyone who knows Alice will know what a big deal it was that she managed to bag a man who was willing to participate in not one, not two, but three choreographed dance routines. These two are made for each other. <3 Cheers to the happy couple!

But, back to Halloween. I have a rather short and silly post today. I figured in the spirit of everyone's favourite scary day, I would post a few of the weirdest things that terrify me. I wonder if any of the following makes anyone else nervous?

1. Escalators

I don't know why but I always get a minor, but real, thrill when stepping on/off an escalator. Remember when you were a kid and you believed that if you didn't time your step properly, you'd get sucked into the crack that separates the escalator from the regular floor and your feet would get sliced off at the ankles and your bones would be slowly and agonizingly crushed to leave your parents weeping over your lifeless flattened body? Well, as a grown-up, those fears have been replaced by the much more reasonable "I might trip and look like a jackass" fear. But still. It's scary.

2. Stairs with holes in them

Stairs with gaps between each step should not exist. Because people who are afraid of heights (which, as I've mentioned, is an entirely legitimate fear) will believe that they will slip and fall through the cracks and die. It does not matter if I am far too large to fit through a three-inch crack. The holes also serve to remind me how high up I am, and every time I walk up those stairs (seriously, every fucking time) I grip the railing tightly and hyperventilate a little bit because I am mentally picturing the stairs crumbling under my weight and I crash to the floor beneath me with a shriek of doom.

3. Going through customs/airport security

I am fully aware that I have not packed any drugs, weapons, or foreign animals with my luggage. I know. I packed it. I'm also aware that I don't actually own any weapons or drugs, and I don't intend on bringing my cats on an airplane. But every time I go through security - every time - there's that tiny part of me that worries I forgot to take my nail file out of my purse and the security guards are going to beat me down and question me for suspected manicure terrorism, or that I somehow have an old joint from seven years ago that for some reason was in my purse I only use infrequently and I'm going to get whisked away to a Thai prison like in Brokedown Palace. It doesn't matter that I've never even been to Thailand. That's always the prison I picture.

4. That scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I where the snake in Bathilda's house jumps up and snaps at the camera

I'm not including horror movies, because those are supposed to be scary (and rarely are). But this is Harry Potter! I didn't sign up for this. It's a scary part, guys. Makes me jump every time, however-many viewings later.

5. Ordering food when stoned

I think I want to order a cheeseburger. But I don't want mustard because I don't like mustard and if the cheeseburger comes with mustard it will ruin the experience for me because I am ravenous but also suffering from hyper-sensitive taste buds at present. I am pretty sure if the cheeseburger has mustard I will throw up all over the table, even though I don't actually hate mustard all that much. But I don't even know whether the combo # 7 comes with mustard so I guess I should probably ask the counter staff whether it does. But how? Do you just say "Does the cheeseburger in combo # 7 have mustard on it?" That doesn't sound right. That can't be right. Is that really how you ask a question? Maybe I'll just say "I'd like a combo # 7 without mustard," whether or not it comes with mustard. But then the counter staff will think I'm a moron for not knowing how to order food. I should totally know whether the cheeseburger has mustard, shouldn't I? Is that a thing a person should know? Oh holy crap, it's my turn next. Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Wait. What am I ordering again? Mustard? Mustard had something to do with it. Why would I just order mustard? I don't even like mustard. Mustard is a funny word. MUSStard. MusTERRRRRD. Oh my god the counter staff is looking at me. Where am I? What do I do? I'm just going to leave the restaurant or I think I might have a heart attack, and not from this greasy-ass food. I can make some toast at home. Mmm, toast.

Now, time to go home and scare the beejesus out of myself even further with some cheesy old movie. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tattoos and the Usual Questions

I'm back, internet!

I have been seriously neglecting my blogging duties for quite a while now, haven't I? But I'm not going to apologize for that. It's my blog. I blog when I want to blog. I OWN YOU.

But seriously, I do actually have a good reason for being so unbloggy lately. I have a very seasonal job. I work in communications for the national office of an education-centered charity. The summer months are slower, the winter months get a little more action, but the fall and the spring - COMMUNICATIONS INSANITY. I just returned from a work conference out in the lovely province of Prince Edward Island, and the past month or so has been nuts leading up to it. But now it's done! Behind me! And I can breathe a little more easily knowing I didn't spill red wine all over our board of directors or accidentally trip my boss into the Atlantic Ocean or anything like that. I still have a job, guys!

One of the helpful things about these national conferences is that the (provincial) branch representatives and national board and staff all come together face-to-face. When you live in Ottawa but have colleagues in Victoria, Halifax, and everywhere in between, these face-to-face meetings are really valuable for recognizing your colleagues as living, breathing human beings. So get-to-know-each-other icebreaker activities are almost always a part of these conferences, and this weekend, everyone learned something about me: I have 3 tattoos.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Them Juicy Leaves Archive: High-Brow TV

This is the page where I will be posting random lists of things that I think are truly and undeniably awesome. I will update every month or six weeks or whenever I damn well feel like it.

This month's edition: High-Brow TV!

Do you think TV is super lame? Do you think it's all Simon Cowell and Charlie Sheen and "Celebrity" Apprentice and CSI: *insert city here*? Well I am here to prove you that TV is not lame, and that there are some quality, sophisticated shows out there you should consider watching. This is but a small selection of the best of the on and then go out and get caught up!

(As I pointed out in my leading post, I am by no means a TV snob, and I like a lot of unsophisticated stuff too...but today, I'm trying to win you over, so I present to you the shows that prove I am a classy-ass bitch.)

I should probably advise you that there is at least one NSFW picture in here. And now that I've really got your interest...

Mad Men

Why should you watch Mad Men? It is necessary to watch Mad Men if you want to get your TV Lovers Membership Card. Mad Men is pretty much the boss of television right now. And I'll tell you why: it's not because Mad Men has good actors, phenomenal writing, and a captivating plot, although it does have all those things. But also: suits. And martinis. And smoking, but not the shameful apologetic balcony smoking of today. It is pride smoking. Desk smoking. If you don't smoke like the characters on Mad Men, you're uncivilized and Don Draper will judge you from behind his cigarette and cocktail.

I do not understand your healthful ways.

[I have to add a side note. You should not watch Mad Men until you can properly understand and identify subversion. Mad Men is not reflecting wistfully on the "pre-politically-correct" days of the 60's. Some of you may be surprised to hear this, but the show is actually starkly commenting on those things, in a negative manner. Liking Mad Men does not justify treating women like shit, slapping your children around and/or using offensive gay or ethnic slurs. If you do not understand subversion, you are not allowed to watch Mad Men. Step away from the television set and consult your local bookstore for more information.]

The Walking Dead

If you think it seems odd to name a zombie show in a list of "high-brow" entertainment, then you are officially terrible and you haven't seen the Walking Dead.

There are several reasons that the Walking Dead is a great show. Many people will tell you that this is because it is about the humans, the survivors of the zombie infestation; it is not really a zombie show, but a post-apocalyptic drama. These people are, technically, correct. But come on - it's a tv show where zombies make regular appearances. And it has a very sexy main character, who often kills said zombies with guns or rocks or whatever else he has at his disposal. And if I need to tell you why hot guys killing zombies = awesome, then once again: this show is too good for you. Go watch American Idol.

(Warning: this teaser clip with a scene from Season 2 is epicly violent and possibly triggering.)


Dexter almost defies genre. There are three different ways I could describe it:

1) Dexter is a cop show! It's about a brother-and-sister crimefighting team, raised by a cop father, who work together with their friends in the police department to bring down the criminal network in Miami. The brother is an introverted genius with a secret talent and a dark outlook on life, and the sister is a foul-mouthed detective on a mission for justice. Each season, they're hunting after a new serial killer the likes of which Florida has never seen. CAN THEY DO IT?

2) Dexter is a family drama! It's a heartrending story about a brother and sister whose parents died young, leaving them alone together to navigate their relationships, careers, and adulthood in general. The sister is unlucky in love, moving from one relationship to the next and always chasing after Mr. Wrong; she dives full-tilt into her career to give her life meaning. The brother is a bit of a social outcast, trying to settle into family life, feeling as though nothing fits. Their friends at the police station face similar battles and together, they're just trying to find sense in this crazy world. WILL THEY EVER FIND LOVE?

3) Dexter is a show about a sociopathic vigilante serial killer who ties people down with saran wrap and torments them with photographs of people they've wronged, before chopping them up into pieces, dumping their bodies in the Atlantic, and storing their blood in slides in his air conditioner unit. HOLY MOTHERLOVING HELL.

Fun for the whole family!

Parks and Recreation

OK, so it's a network sitcom, unlike the other shows listed here. But it's a critically acclaimed sitcom and it has Amy Poehler. And I admit I discovered this one rather recently. I couldn't even name all the characters. But I fell pretty hard for this show. You will like this show if you like:

-things that are funny
-funny things that will make you laugh

I mean, it has Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari all in one show. That should be enough. But if not, then seriously, just watch it and laugh, and then laugh again, and then you'll see.

It's more than just the lulz, though; in Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler has probably given us the most lovable protagonist on television right now. I mean, let's just to compare her to most of the other protagonists mentioned here: Don Draper is the ultimate anti-hero, Dexter Morgan is hardly cuddly, and most True Blood fans watch the show despite Sookie Stackhouse. The one possible exception, Rick Grimes, is definitely your true American workaday zombie-killing hero, and we do love him. But Leslie Knope? No person has ever been so singularly awesome, ever, in the history of awesomeness.


True Blood

I have been writing this piece for like a month now. One of the reasons it's taken me so long is because I have been thinking through all my favourite TV shows and trying to decide which ones count as "high brow." There are some shows I like that are definitely outside the high-brow arena: I like Glee, but I full-on concede that it is terribly written and horribly acted and how Matthew Morrison was nominated for an Emmy is something that will forever mystify me. The Office and How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory are all really funny and well-done, and even occasionally pretty smart, but I would be hesitant to call them "high brow" shows.

I have been back and forth over whether or not I should include True Blood in this list. Let's face it: True Blood is not Mad Men. True Blood is a show built on a foundation of gratuitous sex, fake southern accents and ridiculous supernatural creatures like fucking werepanthers. It has been cast exclusively by the Hot Twentysomethings Club and there isn't a person alive, male or female, gay or straight, supe or mortal, that doesn't even partly watch the show because they want to fuck at least one person in the cast. I'll give you a minute to enjoy those. (Suggestion: If you're not at work, turn off safe search and spend some quality True Blood Google Image alone time! YOU'RE WELCOME.)

True Blood does have its own brand of depth, though. The polical analogies threaded throughout the series are anything but subtle, but they're definitely interesting. This is Alan Ball, after all: the man that brought us Six Feet Under and American Beauty could hardly tell a story without including a gay rights struggle, even if that struggle is depicted metaphorically with loud-and-proud vampires and closeted werewolves. "God hates fangs"? "Coming out of the coffin"? Ha! Fans of quality punning should really find the time to watch True Blood.

So I am including it. Am I including it as high-brow just because it's on HBO and I feel as though it must therefore be artistically relevant? Maybe. Am I including it because we're coming up to the Season 4 finale and I'm totally psyched? Almost definitely. And that says a whole lot more about my perception of HBO and low attention span than it does about True Blood's quality programming, I guess. But if there's anything I like doing more than admiring Ryan Kwanten's abs, it is talking about Ryan Kwanten's abs, and blogging about True Blood gives me the chance to do both.

No, I don't have a fucking clue why he's wearing angel wings.

Please join me in being really, really happy that this picture exists. I don't know why, or how, or when it happened. But it happened, and that is enough. If the Internet breaks tomorrow, and no print copies of this picture exist anywhere, and the wings are burned up in a tragic photo studio fire, and Ryan Kwanten develops a severe paprazzi-induced phobia of cameras, leaving literally no chance that the picture could ever be taken again and is lost to the world forever - if all of this happens, just close your eyes and remember that this existed once. And happiness will be yours for even just a simple, fleeting moment - and you'll have True Blood to thank.

Archived Them Juicy Leaves editions:
Harry Potter

TV is Better than You Think It Is

I am going to give you a little quiz.

Question 1: What do you think of TV?

a) TV is all right, I guess. There are some shows that are pretty good. I watch a few hours a week, if I'm bored.
b) Contemporary television is worse than acid-coated headlice on steroids.
c) Oh, I don't watch much network television. I mean, 30 Rock has its moments, but I mostly stick to HBO and Showtime.
d) One time, I forgot to DVR Jersey Shore, and later that week my dog got the runs. I'm not saying that there's a causation effect here, but I'm not saying there's not, either, and I'm not taking any chances.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More On Hot Dogs

Just a quick update on Tuesday's post!

First, if anyone's ever doubted how much daschund owners love their dogs, just ask this chick. But you should probably not ask her if you are, or if you remotely resemble, a bear. Shirtless Robin Williams should probably not approach her.

Second, my dad has enthusiastically jumped on board with the Floating Doggie Dock! He couldn't comment on my piece because Blogspot is stupid, but he emailed me a whole bunch of comments so I thought you might like to see what he had to say. He offered a lot of hilarious tidbits of wisdom - do you see where I get my awesomeness?* - but these are his best:

1. In reference to why we named our Daschund "Moose" :

Confidence boosting…that’s hilarious, I love it. But you forgot to mention that he is also extremely well endowed.
This is, in fact, true. Moose has rather impressive genitalia for a neutered 20-pound lapdog. However, I wasn't entirely sure whether the Internet needed to know that. So...I guess now you do. Sorry about that. Blame my dad.

2. In reference to Moose chasing foxes and deer when he was younger:

Now here I have to object: 1st – he runs after way more chipmunks and squirrels than deers.  I think he has only encountered a deer maybe 2-3 times, but chipmunks…whoa, like numerous times each and every day even in his 'oldmanishness' ways.
Again, this is true. I should probably have given the little guy more credit for being active since chipmunks remain, to this day, his #1 favourite snack that he's never actually eaten.

3. In response to my script for the Floating Doggie Dock infomercial:

OK I’m in. I got the business end of this all figured out ... I figure we could probably build these puppys for under $35, retail em for $99, a whopping 65% gross profit margin.  Wow, excellent revenue to cost ratios...
My dad is a very clever businessman, so could this maybe actually really work? Maybe we can go on Dragons' Den! Yes!

What do you think, Internet: would you buy a Floating Doggie Dock? Assuming you had a swimming-phobic small dog?

*Don't worry Mom! I get my awesomeness from you, too. I am a unique blend of Irish-German-French-Canadian awesome, as evidenced by my awesome parents. Although not that unique, because my brother has acquired their awesomeness too. I guess...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to Swim with a Hot Dog

No, I'm not talking about juicy delicious frankfurters, although if someone would like to invent a way to swim in a twenty-feet-deep lake while eating said frankfurter without using a floatation device or getting the hot dog wet, I'd be alllll ears.

I'm talking about weinerdogs.

The only pet dog I've ever owned is a weinerdog. My family bought him in the spring of 2002 as a suprise father's day present for my dad, who's always wanted a dog, despite our family being more of a family of cat-people. My mom decided she would finally bow to my dad's wishes, and sent my brother and I to pick one out at a pet store as a surprise. (I know, I know, the pet store industry is terrible, I promise I'll never buy a dog from one again.) The only rule was that it be a small dog. We already had three cats at home, so we couldn't deal with a big horselike animal joining our flock.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A simple goodbye to a far-from-simple man

I was going to post a silly fluff piece about my dog this week. And that will come. But today, I'm writing something a little more serious.

I am sad today. I am sad, because Canada has just learned of the loss of one of its most prominent politicians, a few short months after he succeeded in bringing his party a level of electoral success that many had believed the NDP could never achieve. I am sad, because Jack Layton's most recent Facebook post declared that he was determined to come back to politics, and he would fight his battle with cancer and win. I am sad, because regardless of one's politics, it would be hard to deny that Jack Layton was a man who really, truly believed in his party's platform. He was a man who cared about Canada and its people. He had many detractors, and although they may have come to different conclusions from him about what Canada needs, even they would have to admit that Layton was a man who cared. He never had the appearance of a power-hungry sellout; he was a man who believed every word he ever spoke. He was a man with passion.

About a month ago, the idea came to me to write a three-part series on my experiences meeting various celebrities. One of those celebrities was indeed Jack Layton. And I had set the idea aside for a later date. But then, a tired-looking Layton made the announcement that he was stepping down from government to focus on his health. No one could blame this clearly ill man for taking that decision. I decided to post my three-part series earlier than I had planned, with the intention of prefacing Part 2 with a note about my concern for Layton's health.

In my initial introduction to that piece, I was going to say that I was writing it to demonstrate what a powerful presence Layton carried, and to say that people like me needed him to fight so he could return to politics healthier and stronger. Although the piece wasn't about his politics or even, really, him - it was instead about my own girlish bashfulness in meeting him at a work function a couple of years ago - I thought describing the sheer excitement I felt in meeting him was maybe a way of lighteheartedly declaring my support for him without saying as much. I wanted to try and lay all of those complicated emotions out in writing at the start of the story.

It felt ominous, though. After reading my intro to that blog piece, I realized that I didn't want to preface it that way. I thought the words in the body of the post spoke volumes all by themselves about the way I feel about Jack Layton, and I decided to keep the tone of the post silly and fun, because sometimes humour is the easiest way to deal with sadness. I didn't think of it consciously at the time, but seeing the images of Layton at his July 25 press conference scared the shit out of me. Maybe, in the end, I couldn't face the very real possibility that Jack Layton was a very sick man who might not survive. I didn't have the honour of knowing him personally, but his death has upset me more than I think I could have anticipated. I feel like a mess right now, like I've lost a friend.

Jack Layton will be greatly missed. I was barely interested in politics until my early 20's, but his passion and dynamism drew me straight to the NDP as soon as I was preparing to cast my first ballot in a federal election. There are some things that I don't like about the NDP. I don't agree wholeheartedly with all of their policies. But the one thing I've always known about the NDP is that they had a leader who really fucking gave a shit about Canada, and who would work hard, and faithfully, to restore the progressive social democracy that we used to stand for. I don't know what the future holds for the NDP, or how Nycole Turmel is going to work out as their new leader (if she does indeed keep that title). But I know that their future accomplishments, however great or small they may be, are going to owe a lot to Jack Layton and his astounding success in mainstreaming the party.

I might be a lowly humour blogger who never knew the man personnally. But from what I could tell, Jack Layton loved people. He loved Canada. And Canada loved him back.

I don't think I can write any more on this, because I'm too upset right now. I can scarcely even edit this piece without crying. But I am going to post it anyway, and I hope it will serve as a sufficient send-off, however poorly structured it may be. This is not the first, and will hardly be the last, of heartfelt goodbyes. I'm sure that many will say it much more eloquently than I'm currently capable of doing.

Thank you, Jack Layton, for all you've done for Canada. My thoughts are with your loved ones during this difficult time. Rest in peace, and know that Canada will never forget you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meeting Celebrities Part 3: The Celebrity Who's Not That Famous

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

Now you're caught up. Good.

The Celebrity Who's Not That Famous

I know you've all been waiting in anticipation for the last couple of weeks for me to tell you what the fuck I mean by "not that famous." I also know some of you will yell at me and tell me I'm everything that's wrong with my generation for not recognizing Lou Diamond Phillips.

First of all, he's pretty handsome. Look at this guy. What a handsome man! I can see that there's a reason you've sort of succeeded in Hollwood, Mr. Phillips.

Second of all, he had a lead role in one big movie. However, you'll have to forgive me, readers, because I haven't seen that movie. And that is the reason why I didn't recognize him when he and I were patrons at the same bar: I have yet to see La Bamba.

"Lou Diamond Phillips" is, I would wager, one of those names than many of my fellow Generation Y-ers (or are we Generation X? I think we're like X.5) have heard but can't quite put a face to. Like that person at your high school who sort of hung out with some of your friends back before you were really a part of that social group and so they talk about them from time to time but you're totally incapable of drawing up a coherent image of the person. We know the name Lou Diamond Phillips, and although I imagine there's a whole lot of us know who he is, there's still a whole lot of us who don't. I think it looks something like this:

I'm pretty sure that I don't know how to do math like this....
So if you do know who Lou Diamond Phillips is and you think I'm ignorant for putting him in the "not that famous" category, then congratulations. You win a cookie.

But I am placing him in the category of "not that famous," because he's obviously not at the Brangelina level of hiding-from-the-public-eye fame. He's the kind of guy that could walk to the grocery store and do his shopping and he would almost be guaranteed to be recognized, but he probably wouldn't be harrassed and he definitely wouldn't be ambushed with his hair ripped out of his skull and traded on Ebay for someone's firstborn son.

A couple of years ago, Lou Diamond Phillips (who my friends have now lovingly nicknamed LDP) was in Ottawa filming a movie. I don't know what movie it was or why they were shooting it here or anything else about the project, but there was some quiet buzzing around town that a movie was being filmed here, because we don't get that too often in Ottawa. My friends and I went to a little pub in the downtown area, and some of the group I was with knew our bartender, so we were sitting along the bar and she was telling us about how LDP and some other movie people had been in the pub lately and it was pretty exciting. I was a little left out of the conversation, because I didn't know who LDP was. Everyone was saying "ELLL DEEEE PEEEE!" and laughing about Ottawa's temporary local celebrity. I wanted to take part in the joy, but I couldn't for the life of me picture who LDP was.

Then, out of nowhere, he showed up again. At the same bar! While we were sitting there! He and his little entourage grabbed a table behind our backs, right by the door. The bartender shushed us and mouthed that he was there, and we all tried to look without being completely and lamely obvious. My friends got even more excited and started giggling about it and we were all whispering at each other. I was growing frustrated that I still had no idea who this LDP character was. I asked my friends to try and discreetly point him out to me, and to tell me which movies he had been in to help me figure out why it was awesome that he was there.

The problem was, like I said, we were sitting along the bar. If you've ever tried to sit along the bar in a row with a group of four or five people, you know that proper socializing is kind of out of the question. Add to this the fact that I was sitting at the left of the group, and I'm extremely hard of hearing in my right ear, and I could barely hear a word anyone was saying to me.

This pub was also on the smaller side, and LDP's group was sitting right behind us. So craning my neck around to get a good look at the Famous Table was diminishing my subtlety even further. I'm pretty sure that this is the scene LDP saw from his table, in plain sight - and earshot - of the row of twentysomethings who couldn't keep their voices down enough:

Deaf girl on the left: Who's here?? Who's famous??

Friend #1: Shh! It's Lou Diamond Phillips!

DGOTL: Who the fuck is that?

Friend #2: The guy from La Bamba! He's over there!

*Friend #2 starts to glance over his shoulder, realizes there is no way to do so discreetly, and tries to gesture with his eyebrows*

DGOTL: The guy in the black shirt over there? 

*Friend #3 sneaks a daring glance*

Friend #3: No! Beside him! In the toque!

*DGOTL looks over her shoulder, pretending to care about some beer company

DGOTL: That guy's famous? What else has he been in? I never saw La Bamba.


Friend #1: Wasn't he in...that movie? With whatshername? About the things? And stuff happens?

Friend #4: No, no, that was the other guy. With the face.

Friend #2: I think he was also in that show about the people.  

DGOTL: Seriously, I have no idea who this person is.


So as you can imagine, our attempts at discretion were not working out. After a few minutes, during which time I imagine LDP and his entourage were snickering behind our lowly commoner backs, my friends gave up trying to educate me in 1980's B-movie pop culture and we went on to discuss other things.

Some time after our conversation had drifted from that topic, however, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I twisted around on my bar stool. My friends all looked up.

Lou Diamond Phillips smiled down at me, stuck his hand out, and said, in the friendliest voice imaginable, "Hi! I'm Louie."

Dumbstruck, I placed my own mornoic hand into his.


"Nice to meet you!" He gave me a little wink and then turned around to leave the bar. We all watched him go without speaking for a solid thirty seconds. Then they all turned to me, asking the same question with their raised eyebrows and gaping mouths.

My only answer was "I don't fucking know."


So there you have it, Internet. This concludes my three-part series of meeting famous people. And you know what? All five of them were class acts. Green Day's band members were humble, down-to-earth regular guys. Jack Layton was gracious in trying to navigate unfamiliar territory (a hard job for a politician with a specific public platform). And Louie - I can totally call him Louie, guys, cause he straight told me to - just got a kick out of the whole thing. I guess when you're sort of a Hollywood one-hit-wonder, you learn to laugh at these kinds of situations. (If you read the above dialogue as sarcastic or snotty at all, I assure you it wasn't; he really is a nice guy.)

So remember, reader: when you meet a famous person, they're just a regular person like you. A person with a lot more money and power than you, who's probably cooler and almost definitely better-looking who has maybe had a lot more sex than you! But they're a person all the same.

And if they tell you to call them Louie, then just smile and nod like a moron. Because no matter how you respond, no matter how you react, you know he's going to be telling the story later on tonight; and however he spins it, you're going to sound like a jackass.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meeting Celebrities Part 2: The Politician

Have you read Part 1 yet? If not, stop! Go back! Read it! It's right here.

The Politician

I promise I won't get political on you.

This encounter was probably the least hilarious of all my celebrity-meeting encounters. However, if three-part episodes of the Simpsons and Family Guy have ever taught me anything, you always put your weakest story in the middle. So, here it is.

I work for a government-funded not-for-profit company in Ottawa. Since I swear a fuckton and occasionally discuss my political affiliation and I write about dildos and zombies (and probably, eventually, zombies using dildos - new post idea???), but I also like having a job, I'm not going to tell you who I work for. However, that poses a complication: for this next section, I'm going to need to tell you a little bit about an event I attended through work. I work for an advocacy group, and we occasionally sponsor events and things, and these events and things are often funded in part by a particular department of the Canadian government. When I met the politician, it was at an event on Parliament Hill for one such event.

So we're going to play pretend! From here on out, I will tell you that I work for an advocacy body called the Fantastic Mustache Supporters of Canada, or FMSC. We support every Canadian's right to have a fantastic mustache, regardless of income level, religious affiliation, age, or gender. (...I guess our knowledge of biology is a little flawed.) We occasionally sponsor mustache-related events, and on this day in question, we were at a reception on Parliament Hill hosted by the Canadian Department of Mustaches to mark the end of a weeks-long mustache growing competition.

I knew that at this event, I was going to meet the Minister of Mustaches* along with some other committee chairs and important people and a few lesser Members of Parliament. There were also some bigwigs from some of our non-profit partners within the mustache advocacy community. It was sort of fun; it was a wine & cheese in the middle of the day, which was a nice break, and I always like an opportunity to dress up and be fancy and impress my boss. He and I were the only two people from my office in attendance, and he was introducing me to some of our mustache partners.

Then, in the middle of the event, while my boss and I were chatting up an official from a fellow sponsoring organziation, in walks Jack Layton.

I told you I wouldn't get political on you, and I won't: this isn't going to be about why I greatly support the NDP. All you need to know is that I do, in fact, happen to greatly support the NDP, and therefore you can imagine my excitement. I am about 72% sure that my eyes cartoonishly burst from their sockets and were replaced by big shining orange stars.

Everyone else was clearly just as surprised as I was to see a federal party leader just waltz into the room like it ain't no thang; all the MP's had of course been invited, but the big important ones don't usually attend this sort of lowly mustache event. I gaped for a few seconds before I managed to catch my boss's eye and I mouthed "Jack Layton!" at him, which in retrospect, probably insulted his intelligence.

He played it cool as always, nodding his approval. He is not a man who discusses his own politics, and for all I know he could be a Tory, Grit or a Dipper, but he was obviously pleasantly surprised to see Layton step into the room.

Jack Layton worked his way around the room, shaking hands and being politiciany, with his trademark handsome grin and hearty laugh. It was very soon that I saw him approaching our group and all that I could think was "don't be a moron, don't be a moron, don't be a moron."

Imagine this, guys: you're at an event, totally unprepared to meet a national celebrity. And there he is. And you know that you have to try and be calm, because this is is different from the autograph signing with Green Day (again, go read Part 1) for two reasons. One, you are with your boss and you have to not be some giggling teenager. You have to keep a cool head because you are representing your organization, and you have to make that organization proud, especially in a room full of people working for the Department of Mustaches that might be able to increase or cut off your office's funding. And two, you did not wake up that morning knowing you were going to meet Jack Layton; you are totally unprepared for this.

So, what I'm saying is, pressure, guys, pressure.

Jack Layton approched our group. He met everyone, shook their hands, and smiled humbly as they all blurted out their names and the organizations they were there to represent in tones that were far too loud and excited, far too soft and shy, or some viciously awkward combination of the two. It seems as though that's how it works at these events: you say "Hello, First Name Last Name, Organization," and you do it with the appropriate level of humility (read: difficulty) according to who you're meeting.

Then he turned to me. To me. Jack Layton turned that awesomely mustachioed face in my direction, stuck out his hand, being his impressive but "everyman" self, and his hand touched my hand and shook it and he said "Hello, I'm Jack Layton." Like, fucking duh. But I just grinned back and said in my most quavery voice ever, "Hello, I'm the Social Caterpillar, and I'm here with the Fantastic Mustache Supporters of Canada."

This moment must have been every politician's nightmare. Because it could not have been clearer that Jack Layton had no goddamn idea who we were. He had never heard of us, but that's not a slight against him; our organization is sort of well-known in the "mustache advocacy" community, but it's not so famous that it's on every Canadian's radar. I don't think I've ever told someone outside our industry who I work for without having to give an explanation. But Jack Layton is a politician. And politicians have to keep up appearances and be gracefully supportive of the greater Canadian public. So, after a few moments of visible pondering, he just nodded passionately, waving his hand in a circular motion that I assume means he's thinking fast, and said, "Well...I am a Canadian...who supports fantastic mustaches!"

He moved down the line to my boss, who pretty much just repeated me with his own name, and seemed satisfied that I hadn't puked red wine all over Jack's nice suit.

That was it, and we had no further interaction with Jack Layton for the rest of the day. But we got back to the office and I jammered all over my co-workers, saying "Jack Layton was there! OMG! Jack Layton!"

I was pretty pleased with the encounter, actually. I really thought that I would have horribly embarrassed myself, my boss, my company, or the whole mustache advocacy community. But when you work for the FMSC, and one of Canada's most famous mustache-havers is touching your hand with his hand and moving it up and down in an international symbol of respect, know you did good, and you had a good fucking day.

Next week: The Celebrity Who's Not That Famous!

*does anyone else really, really wish there was a Minister of Mustaches? I tried to think of someone** I would nominate, but I have no idea.

**Surprisingly, there is no Wikipedia page for Canadians with awesome mustaches. What the fuck, Canada?


UPDATE! We have some candidates for the Minister of Mustaches! And our Mr. Layton did indeed make the cut.

h/t to Stephanie for the link!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meeting Celebrities Part 1: The Rock Star(s)

I have met several celebrities in my life. And I know what you're thinking, Internet: of course you have. You are best friends forever with Michael Cera, you are brilliant and sophisticated, and you are the world's first blogging caterpillar! Surely you must be rubbing elbows with the best and brightest Hollywood has to offer.

However, Internet you are wrong. I am not, in fact, a rising star in the diamond-studded world of celebrity bloggers. I am actually not famous at all. And seeing as how I've been blogging for like two whole months now, that is fucking lame and maybe I should get famouser. In the meantime, though, I'll have to settle for occasionally meeting them and getting all starry-eyed and spewing out wordless gibberish.

There are several different types of celebrity meetings that I have experienced:
  1. The Rock Star(s)
  2. The Politician
  3. The Celebrity Who's Not That Famous
I was going to document each of these hilariously awkward experiences for you in one post, but it turned out it was getting stupid long. So! I'm very excited to tell you that I am going to be putting together my first-ever blog miniseries. Today, we're exploring the first section: the rock star.

After reading these three posts, you'll see why I should be famous. I am really, really terrible at being a person who isn't famous.

Monday, July 18, 2011

That Time I Was a Door-Decorator for Eight Months (Or, Why Balloons are Important)

In my first year at the University of Toronto, I stayed at a residence that was brand new and had no name. We called it the 89 Chestnut Residence, because it was located at 89 Chestnut Street, and we were a really clever bunch. It was a hotel that the school bought to accomodate the extra influx of students accepted that year due to the Ontario double cohort of 2003. It is no longer a U of T residence and is something of a universal student dorm for several of Toronto's downtown schools, but for that glorious first year, it was just for the narcissistic bunch of us that made up U of T's off-campus first years. Also, part of Resident Evil: Apocalypse was filmed right outside while I lived there, and that was pretty sweet and one of my friends saw Milla Jovovich walking around Nathan Philips Square.

One of my floor-mates (17th floor what up) and sort-of roommates was a lovely young woman I'll call Kate. Kate was a sort-of roommate because our rooms were attached by a common door, and all four of us - Kate, myself, and each of our own actual roommates - got along really well and pretty much just left the door open all the time, treating the two rooms as one big kitchenless studio apartment. Kate was a great friend (as were the other two) and we spent a lot of time together that year.

It was my friendship with Kate that led to my participation in some residence activity I wouldn't normally have gotten involved in as a party-hopping alternativish 19-year-old. I was never much of a "joiner," but Kate was quite the opposite. We used to say only half-jokingly that she would become Canada's first female prime minister. (Canada's first elected female prime minister. YOU DON'T COUNT, MS. CAMPBELL.) I still believe this is a strong possibility. Kate became the president of our residence immediately and I believe that some time after I dropped out, she eventually became president of the entire university. When we were 19, I was trying to figure out how to get my friends into bars underage, and Kate was trying to figure out how to get her friends into voting. She was passionate about student government, and is now working for someone important in the province of Ontario. So as you can imagine, Kate was also a persuasive kind of person, and as such she pretty successfully managed to get some of her friends, like myself, to take part in things like the residence dance that I wouldn't normally have been interested in. And that's how I became one of my floor's two birthday door-decorators.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On Talking to Children

I just turned 27. And part of being 27 means that I am going to be asked more and more pressing questions about the state of my uterus. You see, when you're 27, and in a long-term, live-in relationship with a man as wonderful as Mr. Caterpillar, people begin to take great interest in your uterus. They ask things like "Why is your uterus still empty?" and "Will you be filling up your uterus anytime soon?" and "Did you know that in a few short years, your uterus is going to get harder and harder to fill?"

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

The thing is, though, I'm perfectly fine with my uterus the way it is. In fact, it's not even empty - it has a fabulous thing inside it called an IUD! Whose sole purpose is to ensure that no one else is going to crash the uterus-party. The IUD is the current tenant of my uterus, and this landlady's only rule is for it to keep out unwanted guests. And then, one day, the lease will be up for renewal and I might decide to trade it in for two or three other tenants - one at a time, please - for nine-month leases in turn. But don't ask me when that day will be. Because I honestly don't know.

So my uterus is still, at this point, fetus-free. And that's cool with me! It's also cool with Mr. Caterpillar, if you were thinking about asking him. Neither of us is in any rush. And unfortunately, I've come to realize something about myself - I have no idea when I'm ever going to be ready for THA BABIEZ becaue I seriously have no idea how to talk to kids.

Babies are fine to deal with. When people have newborn babies, I'm one of those screeching ladies that is all for holding your kid and petting its hair and never ever putting it down, while I coo and freak out over absolutely everything. Tiny blankets and pillows? OMG. Cute little clothes with ducks in rainboots on them? OMFG YES. New high-tech toys that didn't exist when I was a baby? ZOMFGWTFLOLZ *crash* internetspeak implosion.

But then the babies start growing up and becoming real people, and you are expected to talk to them. Like normal-people talk, not that high-pitched, overly excited "SUCH A PRETTY DRAWING OF A WHATEVER" kind of talk for toddlers that anyone can fake. When kids enter into kindergarten, they're going to start to pick up on your condescending crap. And now you have to learn a whole new skill that no one taught you when you were learning math and friendship and how to braid your hair: Talking to fucking kids.

I don't know how it's done, but I'm convinced it's an art form as highly innate and unlearnable as being able to sing nicely. And I hate it. I do eventually want my own children, but it's more than that; I love kids. I especially love my friends' kids, who are adorable, hilarious, brilliant little prodigies that I swear are going to all grow up to be Ministers of Awesomeness in the Canadian cabinet. And I do think that they like me; maybe not as much as I like them, but they're usually pretty excited to see me. So I really want to be good at kids. I just don't know how to talk to them. If anyone ever wants to see a display of awkward, just watch me with someone else's kids for a while.

First, there's the swearing. As you may have noticed if you've been reading my blog since the beginning, I have something of a potty-mouth. And I am not around children often enough to have a ready-on-a-moment's-notice censor. If I had a penny for every time I've been eating dinner at a restaurant and I've screamed out "cockshitting bitchfuck ass!" just to realize there's a family of seventeen right behind me and every child is under the age of four, I would probably have...well, not that many pennies, because that was obviously an exagerration. But you get the point. Parents give me horrible dirty looks. My friends are always cowering in embarrassment at my poor vocal control and deliciously but inappropriately salty vocabulary.

When I'm around kids that I know are there - like when I'm hanging out with my parent-friends and their families and everything is planned in advance and I wake up in the morning ready to be Family-Friendly Caterpillar - I might be slightly more capable of censorship, but never as censored as I should be. I will let a "fuck" or a "bitch" or a "cock" slip out (that's what she said) and then I'll blush beet red and the parent-friend will either laugh it off and say whatever, the kid's a fucking baby, babies are stupid and they don't know anything; or, if the kid is in fact not a baby, they'll humbly appreciate that at least I care that I fucked up. That's because my parent-friends are, for the most part, awesome, and they understand the risks in bringing their children around me. They have already mentally prepared themselves for the string of curse words that their child is going to learn from Auntie Caterpillar.

But that doesn't mean that I myself don't feel ashamed. And worried. Because how does one stop something as innate and as fun as swearing? Swearing is awesome! It's colourful. It's sinfully good, like double chocolate cake or sleeping in on Sundays or Bobble-Head Jesus. It's even medically advantageous. So when I have my own kids, I'm pretty sure they'll be flipping the bird at the doctor in the ultrasound X-rays. Which is horrible, right? It makes me feel like I'm going to be one of those white-trash trailer park mommies who sits around in a ratty old metalhead T-shirt with a beer on her belly-shelf yelling "cocksucker" at the neighbour because his dog shat in my garden while my kid sits and listens and learns to be just like me.

But then I think, "no." I'm better than that. I'm not going to be that kind of mother. I am sophisticated, dammit. I keep my many shoes in three different closets and I have multicoloured purses for every occasion and high-end brand name makeup and organic skincare products. I recycle and use my green bin like a responsible middle-class liberal. I occasionally cook tofu and I order extra spicy bloody ceasars at the bar - I even eat the celery stick. I am a classy bitch.

But then that brings to mind another conundrum with kids. I don't really think I'm all that fun. When Mr. Caterpillar and I were at a family function a little while ago, his cousin's new girlfriend was there and she was meeting the family for the first time, and the kids loved her. She was chasing them around and playing with them and they were shrieking with delight that someone so utterly awesome could be amongst them. And I'm sitting there, watching her, sitting in my heels and my pretty dress with my legs crossed, raging internally with bright green envy. While I was spending all that time getting ready to go see his family and making sure I looked impeccable so I could make a good impression on people I'd already met many times before, she was chilling and threw on some nice jeans and a simple top and then just showed up and was awesome.

Don't get me wrong: as far as I know, Mr. Caterpillar's family likes me just fine. He's told me as much, and it shows; his relatives are warm, friendly people who've never hesitated to welcome me into their lives with open arms. And I like them very much in turn. I would simply like to be better at repaying the favour of their kindness by being completely and utterly awesome around their children. I want to be funI want to be so fun that children everywhere cry real tears when I'm leaving. I just don't know how. And it seems that the older I get, the less able I am to relate to little kids.

After all, it's of course not just about being able to bite my swearing tongue around kids, or having the energy and the sensible footwear to be a Super Fun Grown-Up. It's about just knowing how to talk to them. I'm overwhelmed by kids. Their curiosity, their humour, their weird TV shows - it seems like so long ago that I was one of these wide-eyed, sensitive little creatures that didn't really know what the point of taxes is and watched shows like Captain Planet with complete, unironic sincerity. I try to find a balance between condescension ("Oh, wow, a teddy, that is probably the coolest toy that has ever or will ever exist!") and treating the kid too much like an adult ("Hey, you know who you look like in that hairstyle? The chick from Saw 4 who gets her scalp ripped off by her ponytail."). But that line is becoming harder to walk, because the older I get, the more I become simultaneously distanced from my own youth and surrounded by other grown-ups having children all over the place.

I feel awkward around kids. I feel like they're so fragile and under development that anything I say or do could potentially affect their ability to live successful lives as independent, well-rounded adults. I also know that this is a load of narcisstic crap, and that hanging out with my friends' kids once in awhile is hardly going to turn them into foul-mouthed blibbering morons who have nightmares about Jigsaw slicing their limbs open. Yet I can't make that inability to relate to them go away. My fear is always present in the back of my mind.

So I am going to put out a call for help to all my parent-friends out there. What's the secret for kid-talk, guys? Maybe Alice could write a blog post on it? Or one of my other friends could just give me a nod of encouragement when I do something right, or at least not horrifically wrong, in the presence of their children?

I honestly adore hanging out with you, parent-friends, and your lovely families; I even had the pleasure last year of babysitting my friend's two kids while she and her husband had a night out to celebrate their anniversary. I was happy to lend a helping hand and give them some well-deserved alone time, just like I was happy on another occasion to (with another kidless adult present, mind) take a different friend's son out to a movie one afternoon when a local theatre was showing The Adventures of Milo & Otis and we realized this kid had to experience that movie. And in both cases, I think the kids enjoyed themselves just fine, and I know I did; parent-friends, I will gladly help you out again. Don't read this post as any resentment that I've been asked occasionally to participate in your kids' lives, because it's been an honour and a joy to know all of your fantastic children that I love dearly and am thrilled to watch growing up.

I just hope that I'm actually doing a good job with them, because my uterus is going to stay kid-free until I know I haven't broken your kids beyond warranty repair.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Them Juicy Leaves Archive: Harry Potter

Originally posted at Them Juicy Leaves on July 4, 2011

This month's edition: Harry Potter

Harry Potter is drawing to a close. The eighth and final movie is coming out on July 15th, and along with my friends, I will be waiting in line for the midnight showing on opening night - something I have never done yet and am psyched to do in honour of the last movie. I've been rereading all of the books and rewatching all of the movies in preparation, which also means my brain is currently Mugglified to the extreme and I am rather obsessive over things that I like. So I'm going to totally and utterly nerd out about Harry Potter.

(To my friends who fabulously watch all the movies but, unfabulously, do not read the books, I promise that this will be spoiler-free and I will not discuss the end-of-book happenings in Deathly Hallows that are likely going to crop up in the final movie. But if you have not seen the first seven movies then I promise nothing. Go get caught up already! And if anyone feels like commenting, please don't spoil the fun for everyone else. I am the Spoiler Police and I will delete your comment so fast you will fucking feel it.)

A lot of people make fun of Harry Potter. And I mean, of course they make fun of Harry Potter. It's about a boy wizard with a magic scar who has to save the world from someone unironically referred to as He Who Must Not Be Named. But you know what? A lot of people love Harry Potter too, and of course they love Harry Potter - it's about a boy wizard with a magic scar who has to save the world from someone unironically referred to as He Who Must Not Be Named! 

So I am going to prove to you all why Harry Potter is actually awesome and why the Harry Potter world is even better than our own - and I just don't mean stating the obvious, like the fact that they make magic potion and fly on broomsticks and listen to singing hats and probably have a spell called "Orgasmus Maximus" that puts our muggle sex toys to shame. No, I'm talking about systemic and trend-based proof of the wizard world's utter superiority.

Their villains are scarier

Have you ever been so afraid of someone you couldn't say their name? I can't even imagine that kind of fear. I mean, there are people I'm pretty scared of; my middle school gym teacher and Gary Busey both come to mind. But clearly, I can say Gary Busey's name, and even type it for the whole internet to read. So my fear of Gary Busey is nothing compared to an entire country's fear of *whispers* Voldemort.

I mean, really, who's the real-life equivalent to Voldemort, anyway? Some have said he's like a wizarding Hitler. But personally, I think that's just Godwin's Law. Comparisons to Hitler are so overdone that fucking Obama and Stephen Harper are being compared to Hitler, and I mean, come on now. The comparison has become so diluted that calling Voldemort a wizarding Hitler is hardly more effective than calling him a fluffy bunny with rabies. 

And besides - no one has ever, ever been so scared of Hitler they couldn't say his name. Look: Hitler. Adolf Hitler. Hitlerhitlerhitler. OK, I'm growing uncomfortable with myself and officially moving on.

Their tabloids are more honourable

When we were first introduced to the Quibbler, it was obviously a tabloid. I always imagined it as the National Enquirer of the wizarding world. Where muggles have our UFO's and Elvis sightings, the Quibbler has its Stubby Boardman and upside-down rune articles.

But the Quibbler was never exactly a greedy, profit-driven ethical nightmare like the gossip mags that dominate muggle tabloids. Our tabloids are based on nothing but the desire to sell magazines, and the writers and editors and publishers of tabloids are just preying on the public's insatiable desire for crappy non-news in order to make a hundred billion dollars a year. But the Quibbler is a small, family-run business just printing the stories its editor really believes in, no matter how stupid the rest of the public thinks him; I almost want Xenophilius to find a Crumple-Horned Snorkack because he's so damn devoted.

And eventually, the Quibbler started to grow up a bit. They gave Harry Potter his famous interview that opened the wizarding world's eyes to the dangers that lay ahead. The Quibbler is what small-beans journalism should aspire to be; it's an example of the underdog taking on the corporate machine and letting truth prevail. The Quibbler told the wizards of England that Voldemort should just straight fuck the hell off, and they publicly proclaimed allegiance with Harry Potter; that is, until the editor's daughter was kidnapped by Death Eaters and he tried to bargain with them, but I mean, no one can really blame Xenophilius for that one cause Luna also fucking rules.

Could you ever imagine the National Enquirer coming out during a time of war, and setting aside their stupid speculations on various celebrities' baby bumps that are actually just regular-sized stomachs, and calling for public support for the good guys? Yeah, no. The Quibbler kicks our tabloids' asses.

Their sports are rougher

Ok, admittedly, there's really only the one wizarding sport, at least only one that is talked about in detail in the movies and books. But Quidditch is so underwear-destroyingly insane that you could take all the most vicious muggle sports in the world and put them together into one giant "Super Violence and Bloodthirsty Kill Ball" game and maybe then it could begin to compare to Quidditich.

What is the toughest muggle sport in the world? Boxing, maybe? Rugby? Parkour

Well none of those sports are played on magic broomsticks about a hundred feet in the air. None of those sports involving whipping one another with heavy balls, trying to knock each other off their brooms so that the players face a very real possibility of death. Sure, parkour involves doing astonishing feats at neck-breaking heights, but the various participants aren't actively trying to push one another down. Rugby and boxing involve some crazy-ass brain damage possibilities, but those are not combined with the vertigo and anxiety of supporting oneself on a thin piece of wood high at death-defying speeds high in the air. Skinny 11-year-olds certainly don't play full-contact rugby against angry and muscular 17-year-olds without so much as a parental permission slip. 

And none of those muggle sports have the potential to last for weeks or even months of bruised and bloody agony until someone manages to catch a stupid little flying ball in such a ridiculously unfair scoring system that the non-Seeker players probably face constant self-doubt in their relevancy on the planet. Just read this.

Muggles have even tried to play Muggle Quidditch, and look at how ridiculous it is. We can't remotely adopt the sheer awesomeness of the Harry Potter world, no matter how hard we try.

But goddammit, do we ever try.

Many of their laws make more sense

Before the fans freak out on me: Yes, I know! The wizarding government is just as fucked up and neglectful and imperfect and prone to corruption as our own muggle ruling class. Shit be whack at the Ministry of Magic, yo; their priorities are based in discrimination, they're cowards in the face of fear, they lean on the media to influence public perception of important events, they tolerate slavery of certain races and heavy-handed punishment for crime. It's hard to imagine anything as cruel as the Dementor's Kiss for muggle lawbreakers.

But you have to give them credit for some of their laws. The whole Statute of Secrecy, for instance; it's pretty overwhelming to imagine an entire international underground society living and breathing among us for centuries without any muggle the wiser. Either they're really clever, or J.K. Rowling thinks us muggles are freaking morons. Sure, they're magic and all that jazz, but even considering that, they are keeping tabs on shit. Someone performs magic in front of a muggle? Boom - memory charm. Someone like Voldemort comes along who wants wizards to take authority and rule over the muggles? An entire war breaks out before he has any success and none of us muggles even notice the goddamn fighting, while our bridges are collapsing all around us and England becomes home to tornado country for no reason whatsoever. Witches and wizards are efficient as fuck at maintaining the ignorance of muggles, and they do so for important and honourable reasons: ensuring the prevention of exploitation and mistreatment of a weaker class.

There's also the matter of coming of age. In the muggle world - well, at least, in Muggle Canada and other places - our laws are so inconsistent. Here in Ontario, for instance, you're a legal adult at 18 but you can drive at 16 and you can drink at 19 and you can rent a car at 25. I don't know how that compares to Muggle England and I'm too lazy to look it up, but in magical England, you turn 17 and everything's finished. You can drink your Firewhisky, perform your magic, do your Apparition (assuming you've passed your test) - there's no question that you are truly and undeniably an Adult Who Can Do Things that Adults Do. Isn't that so much more sensible then letting a person who can't yet legally drink a beer join the military? "Oh, ok, Mr. John P. Canada: go ahead and die for the country! But don't you dare try to have a Coors, or we're calling your mother."

Everything has onomatopoeia

Fucking everything. And it's not just auditory onomatopoeia, either; every word evokes a certain metaphorical or visual image that is a perfect representation of the thing being named.

What is the nerdy awkward guy called? Neville Longbottom. What about the everyman hero? Harry Potter. The evil bully at school? Draco Malfoy. His blumbering idiot minions? Crabbe and Goyle. The sneering, greasy-haired teacher? Severus Snape. The short, squeaky-voiced teacher? Professor Flitwick. The hilariously pompous ghost who doesn't get that he's kind of a joke? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. The man who was first introduced to us as a dangerous mass murderer? Sirius Black. Sure, it turned out the guy was cool, but that name sure gave Prisoner of Azkaban some much-needed stormy atmosphere.

It's not just the characters, either. Look at the houses of Hogwarts: the heroic one we're all supposed to like is called Gryffindor, a word that makes me want to puff out my chest and raise my fist in the air and cry victory in the name of my homeland. The asshole house is called Slytherin and even before we know it's associated with snakes, we can picture the sneaky, underhanded, corrupt, slimy racists who sneer and hiss at everyone else.

What sounds more evil than a "Horcrux," with its dominant "x" sound and the word "whore" right there in the first syllable? More mystical and brooding than a dark, majestic "Thestral," only visible to those who've experience enough woe to handle it? "Muggles" are simple people living simple lives, "aurors" are the awe-inspiring heroes of the magical community, and a "snitch" is a tiny, quick-moving sneak that is difficult to catch.

If the real world was like Harry Potter, then earwigs would be called Scuttlecreeps. Roller coasters would be Whizwhipping Trackwagons, and platypuses would be Frumps. And why would anyone ever want to order a bacon hamburger with fries when they could ask for a Meat-Middle Breadbasket with pigstrips and crunchstrings?

Onomatopoeia and linguistic metaphor: do not underestimate the power of language.


So there you have it. I do believe I have just proven the sheer fabulosity of everything that is Harry Potter. Go read it. Then watch it. Then - as JK Rowling herself would say - "beam" at it and share it with your mates over a round of Butterbeers and treacle tart, because, Merlin's beard, it's bleeding brilliant.