Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Russell Peters and his “felonies waiting to happen”

From pretty much the beginning of Russell Peters’ career, I have been a supporter of his.  His jokes were original, it took the veil off of a lot of issues, and they were funny and relatable.  For a few years, he was in town on my birthday, but I wouldn’t find out until after I was committed to plans, or the tickets would be sold out by the time I found out, so I’ve never been able to see him live.  That had been a long time goal of mine.

His last two specials (particularly the latest Netflix one) haven’t done much for me.  It was almost exclusively recycled jokes from his previous specials and I literally fell asleep during the last one, so I couldn’t even tell you if there was any original content.  Actually, no, that’s not true.  There was a lot of content making fun of his ex-wife.  I remember thinking “man, your daughter is going to watch this stuff as she gets older.  Do you really want her to hear this stuff?”

I understand and accept that comedy is subjective and should be left largely uncensored.  I also don’t agree with boycotting venues that host comedians who toe, or out-right cross the line from humor to crass, obscene, and vulgar.  The venues often don’t have creative control over content, and just because you don’t find it funny, doesn’t mean someone else does.

Comedy is an escapism, and should be left at that.

There are subjects in comedy that I sometimes don’t find humorous (generally they’re jokes that can in some way promote/condone/normalize hate of any form) but I just either tune them out during that time, or straight up stop watching (depends on the venue and whether or not other people are with me) when that’s the case.  I recognize that just because it’s not my personal brand of humour, doesn’t make it someone else’s.   I also recognize that sometimes comedians make these jokes to shine a light on those issues that people are often uncomfortable talking about, or are a characterization of the ridiculousness of those who support hate.  I am perfectly capable of laughing at some of these jokes, given the right context or the history of that particular comedian.

Where I draw the line, personally, is when the jokes promote rape culture.  This should never be funny. It should never be defended.

Let me repeat myself.  Sexual violence is not funny.

On April 2, 2017, this year’s co-host of the Juno Awards, Russel Peters, went off script and made a joke that has – at least in Canada – potentially left a permanent, Michael Richards sized mark on his rather illustrious career.  Standing on the stage, surrounded by many girls in the audience who – to me – clearly look as though they are in their mid-teens, Peters says “Wow, look at these young girls!  It’s like a felony waiting to happen!” This joke promotes statutory rape.  It’s not funny, and this needs to stop. 

Here are some Canadian statistics (direct from Stats Canada) about rape.  As you read this, understand that I am one of these statistics – the first half apply directly to me.  For some people, ALL of these facts apply to them.  In a lot of ways, I was one of the “lucky ones”:
1.       Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police
o   Thanks to my mom’s bravery, my abuse was reported
2.       1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime
o   All (yes all) of my incidents of my sexual abuse have taken place in North America
3.       60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17
o   I was as young as five
4.       Over 80% of sex crime victims are women
o   I’m a woman.  A proud woman who has survived rape
5.       80% of sexual assault incidents occur in the home
o   Each time
6.       17% of girls under 16 have experienced some form of incest
o   This applies to me
7.       Half of all sexual offenders are married or in long term relationships
o   My first abuser was a married man
8.       80% of assailants are friends and family of the victim
o   My first abuser was my bio-“father”
9.       Only 2 - 4% of all sexual assaults reported are false reports
o   That number is far too high, and often delegitimizes the other 96 – 98% of actual victims
10.   1 - 2% of "date rape" sexual assaults are reported to the police
o   And that’s just based off of empirical data
11.   11% of women have physical injury resulting for sexual assault
o   This is where I am one of the lucky ones
12.   83% of disabled women will be sexual assaulted during their lifetime
o   Again, this is where I’m one of the lucky ones
13.   15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 16
o   This is just of the reported victims
14.   57% of aboriginal women have been sexually abuse
o   If you think sexual assault is under-reported, you should look at the statistics related to abuse amongst aboriginal women.  It’s even more depressing
15.   1/5th of all sexual assaults involve a weapon of some sort
o   A lot of abusers just know how to groom or incapacitate their victims such that they don’t require weapons.


When Russell Peters made this joke about statutory rape, he joked about each of my instances of rape.  He joked about me. I am the subject of these jokes.


There should be no room in comedy for rape.  It’s just that simple.


Peters has remained mute on this topic, except for liking some tweets where he was being defended. To me, this speaks volumes, and when he comes on my TV, I will be hitting mute.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dear Bruh,

Dear Bruh,

I understand that, for you, going to the gym is a great time to bro out with your bro force and out-bro one another.  I get that, for you, it’s of vital importance to exclaim whilst occupying the chest press, “Bruh!  I can do four sets of 15 reps at 85 pounds” and then hear if your bros can out do you.  Naturally, you will dispute their claim when they state they can do 4 sets of 50 reps at 100 pounds” (I would too.  Their arms and shoulders don’t look like they can do 2X20X50).  I get this.  But please, BRO OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!  While you’ve been sitting at the machine for 10 minutes lying to your bros, you haven’t done a damn thing.  I need that machine.  I will actually use that machine. 
Give me two minutes on the blasted thing, and then you can go back to lying to your bros while sitting on the press like the selfie taking, bench warmer you clearly are. I’m only recently retuning to the gym scene after a long absence, but I have quickly compiled a list of Dos and Don’ts  (mostly don’ts) for the gym.  

1: If you’re going to superset on multiple machines – don’t hog all the machines!  If the machine you want is occupied, move on the next machine like the rest of us, or find an alternative.  Don’t scatter your crap about all the machines you want and put them in a holding pattern.  There’s one leg press and a dozen or so people who may want to use it at any given time.  If it’s part of your superset, and you’re currently doing barbell squats, don’t put your sweat rag on the leg press bench to reserve it while you finish your squats. 

2: Continuing with the leg press: do clean up after yourself.  When you’re done your set, take the
weights off.  Its super annoying when I’m finally able to get on to the press and I have to take 150+ pounds off the damn thing so that I can put my weights on.  Listen.  Not all of us are able to/want to do 150+ pound presses.  I’m only at 70 pounds, and I don’t plan to exceed 100.  My legs are plenty strong and decently toned.  I don’t need to add more weights and look like I’m about to enter a strong man competition.  If that’s what you want, all the more power to you, but clean up after your damn self. I ain’t your mama. 

3: Don’t horde the dumbbells.  Unless you have hands so big that it makes Lou Ferrigno’s hands look about as big as Trumps, there’s no reason for you to have 84 pairs of dumbbells.  Again, you’re supersetting, I get it.  But I mean seriously.  The gym I go to has three sets of weights as well as kettle balls, and literally everyone who had the one pair of weights I needed had multiple pairs of dumbbells at their feet.  What the hell?  I, too, would like to do my sets.  I don't want to be the person who runs to the trainers crying "teacher! that cross fitter's hogging all the weights" but a girl's about to get desperate here.

4: If someone’s signed up for a cardio machine from 6:15 – 6:45 and its 6:44 and you can clearly see that they have a minutes and 44 seconds left, don’t tap them on their shoulder and shout “Are you getting off at 6:45 or what?!” Lady, chill! Not everyone’s watches are synchronized to your watch.  Do some stetches, and let them finish their cooldown. Don’t tap on their sweaty shoulders and do your best hen impression.  That just isn’t cool.

5: If you’re going to do some stretches while you’re waiting for your machine to free up, don’t do it right in front of the machine you’re waiting for.  That’s totes awkward, and it’s going to make the petty in me shine.  I’m middle child; no one does passive aggressive better than a middle child.  You are ill equipped, you will lose this petty match up.


All in all, whatever our reasons, whatever our motivations, we’re all there to improve ourselves.  Whether that’s our intent or not, that will be the end result.  DBAD, and make what may already be a really difficult experience for some to just SHOW UP, even more difficult.  Recognize that even though you’re here with your bros, and you’re having a good time bro-ing out, you’re not the only ones here.


Monday, January 30, 2017

How Can I Help?

As I get inundated/inundate myself with much of the news that’s being discussed around water coolers, gyms, dinner tables, and Facebook walls throughout the world relating to the new Trump administration, I am often sitting here thinking to myself, “how can I help effect change?”
How can I make life safer for my community of amazing people around the world, and in the US in particular?
Being in Canada, how can I lend a hand and show solidarity to those in the US who I love that are part of the black community, the Muslim community, the First Nations community, the LGBT+ community, the community of women, the community of teachers, the middle class and the unemployed, and all the other countless amazing communities that are out there right now who are hurting, crying, afraid, and desperate? 
What can I do, beyond my deluge of social media posts, to bring about awareness and social change to those who may not agree with me but are willing to listen?
I’m honestly asking here, because I simply don’t know.
I feel exasperated and hamstrung in my ineffectiveness. I have signed petitions that have led to nowhere but made me feel good for a minute.  I have engaged with trolls (and those who are in a quasi-trolly mood, but aren’t really trolls, they’re just feeling like they’re not being heard so they act like trolls which make people not want to hear them and so they act MORE like trolls) in the comments section.  I have donated to various causes.  I have cheered on my friends who have put jobs/friendships on the line to protest this tyrannical administration.  I have done all of this from the comfort of my home.  I haven’t actually DONE anything.  I just clicked a few buttons, tapped a few keys, and mentally patted myself on the back for being a good person.
There was a vigil today to grieve with the local Muslim community in the wake of yesterday’s mass shooting in Quebec.  Mass shootings are an anomaly in Canada; they happen so rarely happen that the entire nation is rocked to its very core (this is the fourth mass shooting since 2014).  Sadly, it wasn’t until after the vigil ended that I found out about it so I wasn’t able to attend.  There’s a subsequent one on Saturday that I will be out of town for, so again, I can’t attend.  So again, I sit here frustrated in my inactivity. 
I see way too many parallels between this new Trump administration and the rise of the Nazi regime and it scares me.  Not in the *excuse me as I attempt to type like Kim K sounds* “like, omg those poor, like... people” kind of scared.  But in the “Holy shit, maybe those crazy Preppers are on to something, and we need to seriously consider making a bug out bag.” kind of scared.  I genuinely fear that we are witnessing Nazi Germany 2.0 in the making, and I am equally terrified that as loud as everyone is about speaking out against this horrific scene developing, we aren’t being loud enough.  The poem “First They Came...” has been running through my head in a constant loop for over a week now. 
I want and need to speak for the Socialists, and the Trade Unionists, and Jews... because soon, someone will need to speak for me.  I am terrified that the meager things I have done have amounted to nothing, and I as good as silent. 

I need to go look at puppies and baby sloths, because...

I feel my zen coming back a bit...

OMG they’re in a bucket!

How is he even real <3

Awww, he’s tired

Let’s just end this here

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas: Come here, just don't stay here

I haven't posted in a while, and I just came back from a trip to Vegas so come, sit.  Let me tell you a tale (or scroll down for a synopsis).

When I first stayed at the Stratosphere eight years ago, it was my first vacation with my now husband, my first time in Vegas, and I was in that stage of pregnancy where everything is awesome *cue Lego Movie song*, so it was hard to go wrong with me.  This time around, I came here with my best friend to celebrate her 30th birthday.  She and I were tight on cash, and I had a great experience at the Strat last time, so I figured this would be the best place to stay this time.  

Oh how wrong I was.  

When we checked in, I slipped the front desk clerk $20 thinking it would give us a good upgrade and he made a good show about that being the case. Depending on how you define upgrade, I suppose it was.  We were "upgraded" to the top floor, but he claimed we were in the newly renovated rooms (which I had booked and paid for in the reservation), but we had one of the older rooms.  So, I'm thinking I got jobbed there. 

The room we had was nice enough.  As standard hotels go, there really wasn’t anything to complain about there.  If you’ve stayed in Vegas, and on The Strip (which the Strat technically is a part of.  It’s closer to Freemont though, in my estimation) enough times though, you come to expect a certain standard with your room and the Strat just doesn’t live up to it.  The Select Rooms were recently renovated, however, and they’re quite a bit nicer.  If you must stay here, make sure you get a Select Room.  Seriously, don’t budge on this one at all. 

The casino floor is poorly lit and reeks of old cigarette and cigars.  I know you have to expect a certain amount of stench on casino floors, but the more main stream casinos at least have the decency to try to mask the stench with their own unique perfume they add to the AC.  The Strat doesn’t bother with such niceties.

The overall appearance of the hotel seems to have taken a consistent downswing over the years.  Recently they've made some improvements (McCall's is an AWESOME restaurant, you must eat there at least once!), but they fall much too short of enticing me to ever stay here again.  Everything just had a feeling of desolation and sadness.  I probably would have had a better experience staying at the Nugget or some other sad little hotel in Freemont.  

My husband had the desk fall apart on him – literally ON him – and they didn’t even bother to report it to facilities.  They just left this GIANT piece of desk continue to rest where my husband had left it. When he phoned to address this issue, the front desk clerk told him he’d send security up to prove my husband didn’t break the desk himself.  After an hour or so later, security came by and actually sorted things out.  A concierge came by too and was suuuper magnanimous and offer him two buffet passes, totalling a whopping $15.  That’s right.  The room fell apart on him, he was accused of being a vandal, an hour+ of our night was wasted, and for that, my husband was offered a pretty lame $15 buffet.

I will, however, tell you about some things they do well (or at least don’t completely mess up). 

Club 107 is pretty decent.  There are GREAT views, but overpriced drinks and a teeny tiny dance floor keep me from getting super excited about this place.  If you go, don’t go when there’s an event up there, and if you want to drink while you’re up there, go after 1am.  They have a 2-for-1 drink special.  The drinks are $15.  FIFTEEN DOLLARS!  It’s not like you’re getting top shelf hard bar, either.  So definitely wait until the drink specials come into effect before you imbibe there.  Better yet, don’t drink there. Don’t go there if you don’t want to dance in Vegas’ smallest dance floor, and dance with strippers either.  Because that’s a thing that happens... apparently.  (It happened to me). 

Roxy’s is a 24 hour 50s diner that’s pretty good and well priced. Sometimes some of the servers will break out into song.  That’s always a nice touch.  Keep in mind, however, that they shut down every Wednesday morning for cleaning.  So if you’re there on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, and you get a hankering for their brisket burger at midnight, you’re just going to have to wait for another night.

McCall’s is their pièce de résistance.  Do yourself a favour and order their garlic rubbed steak.  You can thank me later.  Easily the best steak I’ve had in my life, and I’ve had a lot of steak in my lifetime.  If Willie is your server, you’ll be in terrific hands.  He has the class and elegance of a server at a very formal restaurant, with just enough charm and wit to make you feel like you’re at your favourite neighbourhood restaurant.  The bread they serve you is varied and interesting, and their sweet butter is different, but not at all unpleasant.  If you’re with a group, and/or VERY hungry, order the Sampler Platter.  Again, you’re welcome.  You get two jalapeño and bacon wrapped prawns, a half pound of chicken wings, and four smoked cheddar and steak potato skins.   Good grief, it is good!  If you’re a fan of mojitos, make sure you also order their Black and Blue Mojito.  If you prefer the sweeter cocktails, the Heartland Peach is the drink for you.

Synopsis: McCall’s will keep me coming back to the Strat, but just about everything else will keep me from staying here.  Spend the extra $20 - $50 and stay anywhere else on The Strip.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Can you afford it?

So today the husband, the kid, and I went down stateside to hang out and do a bit of shopping.  Before we started our shopping marathon, we decided to stop for lunch at Taco Time.  Through a miscommunication, we wound up getting two extra tacos that none of us ended up having.  We saved the tacos, figuring we could eat it later, or better yet, give it to someone who's hungry. 

We went shopping at Ross for an hour or so, and then on our way back to the car, I notice a guy sitting in the parking lot under the blazing hot sun. I've seen him there before, and I've given him food each time I've seen him, since we always seem to have leftovers from some restaurant or another.  Today was no exception. 

Here's the crazy part: When I gave him the food, his reaction was, "Are you sure you can afford this? Thank you!  Are you sure?"  This guy, a Navy vet (according to his sign), is hungry, homeless, sitting under the blazing sun, and his primary concern was making sure *I* wasn't going to go hungry or put myself out by giving him this food.  Let's be real here - if I didn't give this guy our food, I was going to turf it.  And this guy was worried... for *me*.  After I just spent $70 on clothes that I didn't *really* need.   I was so moved I started to cry. 

We often forget how incredibly rich we are.  We take our three squares a day, our overabundance of snacks, our drinks at the bar, all of that stuff for granted.  We gorge ourselves on Ben and Jerry's and then complain... we complain about how full we are!  We whine about being fat.  We joke about how this bottle of wine is going to cost us a couple of hours at the gym.  Then when some person who's obviously living on the streets has the temerity to ask us for the spare change in our pockets so they can get something to eat, we lie that we don't have any.  Or that we can't spare any. 

This is a lie.  Most of us probably don't have the resources to do what FouseyTubeMagicofRahat, or Sofia's Angels do.  But that doesn't mean we can't do something.

I'm going to try to do something.

(PS: Sorry if the post ended somewhat abruptly.  It started to sound a bit preachy.  I didn't like that, and it's late.  So I ended it where I did.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I miss her

I’ve been wanting to write a post about religion, and the absence of it in my life.  This is my third attempt.  I can’t put into words how I feel.  I don’t believe in God. I used to.  I’ve been hurt by religion.  I walked away and haven’t looked back.  It’s not as simple as that, but maybe that’s all I need to say about that.

The reason I’ve been struggling with this post for the past week and a half is because today is the 8th anniversary of my friend’s suicide.  It’s such a weird time of year for me, since Mini Moo’s birthday falls less than a week prior to that.  So there’s this huge build up to the kid’s birthday; days, weeks, months of planning the party (I went a bit nuts this year) and what gifts to get and an almost immediate crash into missing my friend even more than normal.

This year it’s even harder for me.  I know someone who’s struggling with suicide.  I don’t know this person well, but someone who’s really important to me knows this person really well.  He’s a young person who doesn’t fully realize the impact suicide has on the people left behind.  I miss my friend all the time.  There are times where it’s so bad, I can’t function properly.  There are times I’m so angry at her that I want to punch things, throw things, destroy things.  I can’t yell at her, so what other option do I have?  Most of all, I miss talking to her.

She was funny, so smart, loved animals, being active, and being with her friends.  She adored her family.  She had her own business.  She was a light.  She struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide.  She had a hard time finding her own identity.  She believed in God, but had a lot of questions that couldn’t be answered.

And now she’s gone.

We can’t ever talk to her over the phone.  We can’t post stupid quizzes on her Facebook wall and find out what flower she is (she’d be a green tulip).  Her family can’t hug her.  Her pain made her blind to all the amazing things she brought to this world, and she took that from us.  I’ll love her forever, and I’ll never stop mourning her death.  But I don’t think I’ll ever forgive her for that moment of selfishness.

I wish I could grab this kid by the shoulders and say, “Don’t you dare!! Don’t you dare deprive the world of all you have to offer! Don’t you dare leave a hole in the hearts of your family and friends that will never be filled!”  I have talked to him about how suicide has impacted me and my friends.  One of my best friends has also talked to him about her own experiences with suicide.  He listens to us, and all the people who are trying to help him, but I worry he doesn’t hear us.

Like with my friend, he can’t see past the wall of pain.  All he knows is that living... that taking that next breath... is just too hard.  He’s convinced that people won’t give a shit if he lives or dies.  He thinks those who love him will move on in no time, and things will be better for everyone around him.

Unfortunately when someone’s in such a dark hole, there’s little that can be said to that person to convince them otherwise.  All we can do is love them, give them as much support and encouragement as we can, and try to show them how our lives are so much richer with them in it.  My life will never be the same without my friend in it.  The same is true for her family and friends.  The same would be true if this kid does the unthinkable.  Many lives will be profoundly impacted by his loss.  I just hope he realizes this before it’s too late.

If you’re in a scary place, please know that you’re not alone.  There are people who are there to help you.  If you feel you can’t talk to your family and friends, there are help lines you can call.  You can go to the hospital.  You can call the police.  You can talk to a teacher or counselor at school.  Please don’t convince yourself that no one will help and please don’t stop asking for help. There will be someone who can help.

If you are thinking of hurting yourself, please call someone for help.
If you suspect someone around you may be suicidal and you don’t know what to do, please call someone for help. 

Below is a list of resources that you can use for help.

Kids Help Phone (Canada)
Papyrus (UK)
For resources close to you, wherever you are in Canada click here
List of suicide crisis lines by country

If your country isn’t listed, and you would like me to include them on my list, please leave a comment below and I will do what I can to include a national number or resource on this post.

Someone loves you.  Even if it’s someone you don’t know or haven’t met yet.  Trust me in this.

I love you.