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The sleep machine I carried around my neck.
Last week was a Lost Week—a week that brought me closer to death without having brought me appreciably closer to anything else—because it kicked off with a nighttime and daytime sleep study that involved having to sleep in a strange windowless room in a hospital while connected to a giant strange machine and listening to disembodied voices say things like, "And now it is time for your leg exercises," before then having to spend almost nine hours in a waiting room with giant things stuck to my head.

It was by no means a genuinely horrific experience. It was kind of what you'd get if you took something mildly annoying, like standing in line with giant things stuck to your head, and then extended that for 19 hours.  

The only redeeming aspects of the whole thing were (1) the nice gentleman who worked there in the daytime and was willing to discuss things like how the large, sepia-toned photo by the bed boasting strange, stunted trees and a road staggering up into an even sepia-er sky looked like it was depicting a road to death, and (2) the following question:

One night you have to remain awake between 4:00 - 6:00 am. in order to carry out a night watch. You have no commitments the next day. Which ONE of the following alternatives will suit you best?

Would NOT go to bed until watch was over Would take a nap before and sleep after Would take a good sleep before and nap after 
Would take ALL sleep before watch 

What is a "night watch"? I NEED TO KNOW WHAT A NIGHT WATCH IS.

I wish all medical questions on medical questionnaires sounded like a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure book, a George R.R. Martin book, and a Victorian novel featuring a death-bed vigil.

 
 
Commercials are mostly awful (except, obviously, for quirky German ones that celebrate tiny cars). I realize that's not exactly a controversial statement ("I'm going to take a stand right now and just say plagues are unpleasant"), but it's one I'd like to enlarge upon at length.

Because there's a certain kind of commercial that's been taking Canadian television by storm, and I HATE IT. 

It's a very simple concept for a commercial: you come up with a list of nouns and things and then get someone with either a smug and unctuous voice or a smug and knowing voice to read them. 

The smug and unctuous voices are used for things like Ikea commercials (which USED to be more like German small-car commercials), and I think are supposed to make you feel as though you have well-behaved, loving small children and are watching them have a pillow fight in dappled sunlight on your duvet on Mothers' Day. "We're for long naps, and keeping secrets, and letting your hair down," etc. I swear there's one that's far worse, but this is the only one I could track down. 

The smug and knowing voices are used for the condescending, enraging, stick-it-to-the-man-ish commercials. "You're no follow-the-leader, lower-level Nazi; you're no parasite-brained Yes Man with a blood infection," etc. My favourite current example of this breed of terrible is this Crystal Light commercial, which is terrible.

I'm not sure whether it's the repellent smarminess, the repellant disingenuousness, or the repellant laziness of these commercials that I find most repellant.

Imagine my relief then, when something came along that distracted me from these commercials much in the way a punch to the head takes your mind off a migraine. 

It is the worst. It is an Oreo commercial. It is magnificent in its awfulness. It is the malign programming of young girls to be competitive biological clocks as sung by a wistful set of bangs.

It makes me extremely depressed. And whenever I get extremely depressed, I think of this Maple Leaf meats commercial, because nothing, absolutely nothing, can restore balance to the brain like a dose of pure batshit crazy.
 
 
Regular readers—and not the people who've arrived at this site only because they googled "farty sex" (I thought that was beautiful and inexplicable until I googled "farty sex" and discovered my site pops up THIRD)—will know that (a) I have a handsome cat, and (b) I love him.

Recently, my younger niece introduced me to something that has made my life better: Instagram. (Within about five minutes, she'd signed me up, chosen my user name—GeorgeTCat—and informed me I'd be focusing largely on photos of George but also occasionally posting photos of her  animals.) I knew it existed, mostly because of snarky comments I've heard about people who routinely take pictures of dinner garnishes. But I had no idea that I, who have never been particularly interested in taking photographs and then showing them to teenage girls I don't know, would find in it the GREATEST SATISFACTION OF MY LIFE.

First of all, George really is outrageously photogenic.
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Those eyes and paws.
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Those ears.
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THAT LOOK.
Second of all, I do not care. I do not care if my photos are not very good. I do not care if anyone follows me.  I do not care that at some point very soon, all my new photos will look much like all my older photos. I do not care that my cat does not wear tiny hats or tiny ties or tiny shoes or have a charming gimmick of any kind. I considered, for a while, trying to rustle up some text (Byron? Donne?) that would complement George's general smouldery-ness—and then realized I didn't care. I do not even care if people think all my uncaring is the result of some kind of isolation-induced pathology. I have never in my life done something that brings me so much joy and involves so little effort or concern.

I also do not care that I am contributing to the cat-ification of social media. I dutifully watch PBS NewsHour each and every day, and so feel I should be able to look at as many damn cats as I like the rest of the time.

What doesn't come through in those photos is that he was purring the whole time. THE HEART-BREAKINGLY LOVABLE SON OF A BITCH.
 
 
Even strong supporters of Hudak would be hard-pressed to deny that he looks a lot like a groundhog.

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Tim Hudak.
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A groundhog.
I've often reflected on the fact that he really looks like a groundhog. But such reflections have always left me confused and frustrated, because there's something else, someone else, he reminds me of. And then yesterday (while I was watching him on CP24 cleverly skirt the issue of what the future holds for groundhogs), it finally came to me: Michael Keaton.
Tim Hudak looks like what would be produced if a groundhog ate Michael Keaton.

I mean no disrespect to Tim Hudak when I say he looks like a groundhog who just ate Michael Keaton. In fact, that's probably the nicest thing I've ever said about him.
 
 
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I wish I could draw.
I could have sworn there was some kind of Rob Ford crack scandal a few weeks ago. Involving Rob Ford and crack. I was reminded of this long-ago, seemingly-no-longer-discussed-by-anyone topic by the recent hijinks of Daily-Show-darling-turned-ohmygodpleaseputyourpenisaway Anthony Weiner.

Anthony Weiner was an up-and-comer (sorry) in the Democratic Party before he torpedoed (sorry) his career by having a large package and a yen for showing it to starry-eyed left-wing internet ladies. He went away for a while, and we all assumed he was spending his time off being repentant and not taking pictures of his penis. And then, just when it appeared his career was once again on the ascendant (less sorry, but going to stop now) and he was poised to become mayor of New York, it came out that he had found a new texting object of desire and a new handle—one that would add to his reputation for compulsive exhibitionism a shiny gloss of cartoonish hilarity: Carlos Danger.

I feel like in the time it's taken for Rob Ford to be associated with the smoking of crack and then to go to back to doing just what he's always done as though no one ever saw him smoking crack, Anthony Weiner has managed to show his penis, resign, repent, run for office again, and then show his penis again (I am misrepresenting the Weinergate timeline, but I think you'll find it makes my argument more convincing). It's entirely possible Weiner will fall out of favour again, redeem himself again, run for something else again, and show his penis AGAIN before we hear anything else about Rob Ford and that goddamn video.

Where did it all go? Why have we not heard anything in ages? Has nothing else turned up because Canadian journalists are not sufficiently resourceful, or because Canadian media outlets don't tend to pay people to tell their stories (about how they once smoked crack with Rob Ford)? Maybe the idea of receiving no money for the opportunity to be interviewed by Peter Mansbridge just isn't appealing to a crack dealer or user with Ford-related secrets.

Maybe discovering Rob Ford smoked crack as his crack-smoking alter ego Pascual Calamity would bring this back into the limelight. (Thank you, Slate Magazine's The Carlos Danger Name Generator.) 

 
 
It's extremely hot. I find that observation very interesting, because I am extremely hot. I am currently watching people on the PBS NewsHour talk intelligently about bilingual education, and the most interesting thing I have thought about them is that they do not look as though they're extremely hot.

I have no air conditioning in my apartment. Instead, I have an invisible cone of safety. The invisible cone is created by my fan, and as long I do not leave it, I am okay. Not refreshingly-cool awesome, but okay. If I shift a foot in any direction I immediately become (a) wildly irritable or (b) comically lethargic. I have to carry the fan to and then position it in front of any place I plan to settle for any length of time.

I am not alone in my cone:
(I also, naturally, cart that chair around so that it can be positioned in front of my fan so that my cat can lie on it.) I initially felt quite sorry for my cat, because he is, after all, furry, but then he insisted on my throwing his nerf ball around for a while so that he could run around vigorously after it, and I decided he was bearing up quite well.
 
 
A while ago, I wrote about "eldergrimming," which is what happens when an inspiring, affirming moment is ruined by an old person.

Today I was reminded that it's not just the elderly who are capable of introducing an uncomfortable note of awfulness into a pleasant situation you really didn't expect would turn awful.

I was on the streetcar and a mass of tiny children got on. I immediately thought, "I want to kill myself. Very soon, I'm going to want to die." But I soon noticed that the children were implausibly adorable and that their teenage counselor was implausibly attentive (to them, I mean) and resourceful and engaged and funny. The kids were bouncing around in a way that was still cute but on the verge of being not cute at all anymore, and the counselor asked them all the following question, which suddenly and fiercely focused them on something other than starting to no longer be cute: "If you had all the money in the world, what would you spend it on?"

Cue head-exploding cuteness explosion. One tiny boy said, "I would spend the money helping other people who need help." Adorable. One girl said, "I would buy Gerrard Square mall." Slightly less adorable—because more commercial and acquisitive—but still acceptable. The tiniest boy of all looked like he'd been hit by a thunderbolt of inspiration and come up with THE BEST IDEA EVER, and he shouted, "I would buy...A CAKE!"

By this point, I was smiling widely and feeling generally uplifted. I got up to leave the streetcar, still smiling in a "I am old and sophisticated, but still capable of being softened by the magic of childhood" kind of way, and a sweet-faced girl yelled:

"SLAVES! I would buy A LOT OF SLAVES!"

And then I went to the grocery store and a sweet-faced elderly woman was really mean to the cashier.
 
 
I was going to write something really glib and flippant about the topic I am about to introduce, but the more I looked into it, the more all the glib and flip got knocked out of me. What's left of me when those things are knocked out is mostly sadness and Bridge Mixture.

I recently started getting odd emails. Here's one of them:

Hello!

You are receiving this email from J.T who has signed up for X3watch, a personal accountability service from Triple X Church.

J.T. has identified you as their accountability partner. If you've received this email in error or you don't want to be J.T.'s accountability partner, please ask them to remove your email address from the X3watch application.

What Happens Now?

You will receive an email every week containing all possible questionable sites they may have visited on their [list devices the user runs X3watch on] devices.

This information is meant to encourage an open and honest conversation between friends and help us all be more accountable. You should also add the address reports@x3watch.com to your email address book to ensure it's not marked as spam email.

I naturally assumed Triple X Church was a made-up place that existed in order to somehow acquire my banking details. Or a real-life place that existed in order to provide people who are not me with High Anglican pornography. Either way, it was suspicious, and I CLICKED ON NOTHING. But the emails kept coming, so I finally, STILL CLICKING NOTHING, googled "XXX Church" and discovered that it's a website for religious people grappling with porn addictions.

The name of the man who suggested I might like to regularly monitor his use of pornography was included in the email (I obviously redacted it here, because I am not an animal), and as far as I can tell, he's a prominent gastroenterologist somewhere in Kansas. He's also a devout Christian and a married man, and his pornography addiction has jeopardized his relationship (he has posted comments on blogs about porn addiction and religion). The only other thing I know about him is that he probably has a trusted friend or relative with an email address remarkably similar to mine.

If I can figure out a way to no longer be a stranger's online porn accountability partner without having to correspond with someone from a Christian website or with that stranger who is right now totally unaware that some girl in Toronto is his porn accountability partner, I'll do so.  And I haven't looked at a single one of those reports, because if I wouldn't want some gastroenterologist from Kansas knowing incredibly personal things about me, I'm not going to give into the temptation to know incredibly personal things about a gastroenterologist from Kansas.

Thankfully, I found some statements on the website that allowed me to drown out my reluctant pathos attack:

"Each year, we distribute 25,000 bibles within the porn industry."

"We take the light of the gospel to the darkest of places around the world: porn shows, strip clubs, and brothels."


You can, naturally, donate money to fund their bible- and gospel-distributing endeavours. And why send your money to the world's less-dark places when you could use it to send a Christian to a strip club?

I am heartened to find myself glibbant once more.

                                  ***

This post was supposed to end after that last paragraph, but I just discovered that Triple X Church runs something called "Operation: Save the Kittens" and I think you should know about it:

"'Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten!' This notion came to us in an email by an anonymous person, and we took it to a whole new level."

A WHOLE NEW LEVEL, INDEED.

The Triple X Church thinks that masturbating (even if one distracts oneself throughout with THOUGHTS OF FRUIT) is wrong, and suggests that people make anti-masturbation pacts and remind each other not to masturbate by sending weekly emails with catchy subject headings to one another. Because the world is not all bad, they provide examples of such headings:

    * OSTK
    * Please, think of the kittens
    * Killed any kitties this week?
    * The kittens thank you for your support
    * Long Live the Kittens!


Pure awesome.
 
 
On Tuesday, I went to a distressing and wonderful event: my niece's grade-eight graduation. It was distressing because just a few years ago I saw her being born and now SHE'S GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL, and it was wonderful because she's turned out not half bad.

After she had WON A PRIZE for officially being not half bad and received her diploma, she was poised to go a graduation dance, and so my sister and I reminisced about how awkward and traumatizing it had been to dance to Stairway to Heaven when we were in school (because of the song's ridiculous length and that upbeat, bouncy bit in the middle when you usually stayed with your arms around each other but bobbed about more vigorously). That got me thinking about the Songs of My Youth, and the songs of my grade-eight graduation dance in particular.

My dance took place in the year...I'm pretty sure it was 1990. And that still doesn't seem all that long ago, but Buzzfeed recently had a list called something like "45 Things That Are Crazily and Unbelievably Long Ago About 1999"  (a year which, as you'll note, occurred almost a decade after the year I'm talking about) and also, my niece is GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL, so I realize that it was a long time ago and that I have a great deal to share with the younger generation.

I will not, obviously, be able to remember all the songs played by Clarence the DJ at Glenview Senior Public School—I have also managed to forget (1) the names of the boys kicked out of the dance for getting drunk off of some malign mixture of spirits from their parents' liquor cabinets, and (2) the last name of the boy who, at my graduation, told me I looked like a prostitute (I really, really didn't—but he was kind of a dick).

So here they are:

Fast Songs
You Shook Me All Night Long — ACDC
Sweet Child 'O Mine — Guns N' Roses
Mony Mony — Billy Idol
U Can't Touch This — MC Hammer
Bust A Move — Young MC
It Takes Two — Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Joy and Pain —Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Bizarre Love Triangle — New Order
Rock and Roll — Led Zeppelin
Sweet Soul Sister —The Cult
Beds Are Burning — Midnight Oil
Funky Cold Medina — Tone Loc

Red Red Wine — UB40
Faith — George Michael
Mary, Mary — Run–D.M.C.


Slow Songs
Patience — Guns N' Roses
Somebody — Depeche Mode
A Groovy Kind of Love — Phil Collins

Every Rose Has Its Thorn — Poison
Right Here Waiting — Richard Marx
Heaven — Warrant
Heaven — Bryan Adams
Without You — Motley Crue
What It Takes — Aerosmith

Never Tear Us Apart —INXS
I'll Be There For You — Bon Jovi
When I See You Smile — Bad English

Nothing Compares 2U — Sinead O'Connor
Stairway to Heaven — Led Zeppelin


The last song played (I vividly remember  thinking, "This is the LAST SONG of my junior-high-school life") was Alphaville's Forever Young, and I also vividly remember thinking, "This song is hilariously inappropriate, because I don't care how old I get as long as aging means I get to leave junior high school." Also, we all thought that song was based on some story about some Swedish teenagers who committed suicide en masse after their prom, so it was a bit depressing. That story appears to be apocryphal, though, which I why I can now be so flippant about it.

 
 
After a few weeks of ill health followed by one day of absolutely perfect health that inspired me to say something sensible and prophetic like "She's 100% better! SHE WILL NEVER DIE!" my guinea pig died.

After a life spent wanting hay, eating hay, wanting more hay while still eating that other hay, and hating all things that were not hay, she died in the most peaceful and painless way imaginable.

I had a dream the other night which I will now mention—NOT because I think dreams are interesting as long as they're mine and not some other stupid person's, but because this dream reveals how straightforward and embarrassingly unsubtle my dream life is. I was at a movie theatre. Obviously, I had brought (the still-living) Stabler to the movie theatre with me. Just as obviously, I had not brought a carrier or basket or pair of hay manacles with me, and she immediately escaped. I then ran through the theatre trying to convince strangers to care about and look for a grown woman's escaped guinea pig, and was unsuccessful. Then a man in the front row, clutching a pale, sickly girl, cried, "You...you care for this PIG? You search for this PIG while I stand here clutching my ailing six-year-old [Stabler was, of course, six] daughter?" And the crowd turned on me and then I woke up.

She was a tiny, short-lived mammal, and she was a nasty, no-good, ungrateful piece of work. As my friend Colleen said, she was "fierce, with no fucks to give." As many people have noted, if she had been a person, she would have totally intolerable, and I would not have been willing to keep her in a large cage in my living room. But an asshole who is small and furry and occasionally squeaks is a pretty cute asshole, and I miss her like crazy.