August’s Top Five Vids

5. Phil Collins + Gorilla. Could it get any better than this?


4. I spoke too soon: Cookie Monster + Tom Waits. Now, this is fantastic.


3. For my exo-Toronto friends. KPMG is a huge multinational auditing/consulting/kitchen sink company, our new mayor hired to suggest ways to trim our budget. And surprise surprise, one of their suggestions was privatize some city services. And why not? Why should our tax dollars pay for unionized city workers when they could go towards unionized private workers! We’d save millions of cents! Anyhoo, in the following video, Councillor Vaughan asks about Melbourne, Australia, a city that also privatized some of its services. Listen for the dramatic punchline…


2. I mentioned this idea on Facebook a few weeks back. Take heed, vegerians, for the next time you invite over a meat-eater!


1. This is a beautiful clip from the movie Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, inspired by John Foster Wallace’s book of the same name. In the clip a man talks about his father working as a washroom attendant in a ritzy hotel. It really gets under your skin.



Other People’s Poetry

In a Corner of the Sky

The old
shuts her bleary eyes.

The new
wants to paint the night

(In the fir trees on the mountain:

Federico Garcia Lorca 1899-1936



Reflections of a First-time Father

I am the father of Ava, the cutest baby girl ever.

Yes, you can commence eye-rolls now. But, how do I know she is the cutest? Because prior to the early morning of August 7th, my mental response to the sight or sound of a stranger’s infant was: why have they brought THAT to this restaurant? I mean, I thought kids were cute and I sort of understood their appeal, but even when my wife was at full-term, I would look at a baby in the next restaurant stall and wonder how anyone could put up with the screaming and crying and dribbling for 24/7. In fact I even had trouble imagining how I would feel about Ava once she was born. Would it be pure paternal love, or meh,..she’s kinda cute but…

You have to understand that for the duration of the pregnancy, Ava was purely abstract; a mysteriously growing bulge in my wife’s belly that would occasionally give her heartburn and head-butt her bladder. However, following the words, “I think my water just broke”, Ava quickly began to solidify into something much more concrete. With this realization came a cold sweat. The controlled chaos which immediately followed my wife’s announcement remains a blurred series of memories. I recollect an amateurish attempt at assembling a “go-bag” (Bath salts? Anne Douglas, really??), the repeated attestations to how “unready” we were (the baby was 3 weeks early), and the resulting and overwhelming feeling of failure on my part. How was I ever going to be a good parent? The water broke while I was playing Oblivion on my PS3, for crying out loud. Such thoughts I bravely concealed from my wife, though if I had confessed I don’t think she would have heard me because during the brief time it took us to get to the hospital, the contractions had escalated in frequency to about thirty seconds apart. A little trick, people: if you want to get into labour triage unit sooner, don’t tell them it’s your first pregnancy. After what seemed like an eternity we were admitted to a bed in the triage unit. A curtain separated us from the labour pains of about 4 or 5 other women, and after a three-hour, dystopian opera, my wife was finally admitted to a birthing room.

One thing I will say about this part of the process, without going into much detail, is that the days when the husband is expected to pace in the waiting room, or sip whiskey sours at the bar around the corner, are long gone. Now husbands are part of the action. The nurses and doctors want you in there, stroking foreheads and massaging hands. I did notice, however, a nurse in the room who seemed to be merely observing the action. I assume now that she was there in case I fainted or shrieked like a girl and ran for the hills.

As for myself, I found to the whole thing both terrifying and fascinating. In addition, it has changed my perspective on the female form. Witnessing a live birth has added an element of functionality to the allure; female wiles with a bit of heavy machinery thrown in. The best analogy I can come up with is discovering that your wife/girlfriend is actually a sexy and cleverly disguised Transformer. I must admit that during the crucial part of the birthing process, I broke from my affirmations to my wife and exclaimed quite clearly “holy cow!”, earning me a odd look from one of the doctors. The last thing I will state about my experience in the birthing room is that while I was told earlier that newborns come out a little pale, I was very surprised to learn exactly how pale. I mean, we are talking the colour grey. I confess that one of the thoughts that ran through my head when little Ava emerged was: Oh, my god, ZOMBIE BABY!!

These are neither the thoughts nor the expressions I thought I would make as a newly-minted father. A friend has asked me for my first impressions of fatherhood, and it has been a difficult question to answer. I’ve come to the realization that it is much like asking a heterosexual male what it is like to be attracted to women. How a man feels about this varies with his perceived level of success with women. My guess is that parenthood, like the sex drive, is instinctual. It is not so much something you feel, but something you are (I know, sounds smug, but it’s the best I can do). Upon seeing my daughter being born, I imagine some never-before-used circuits in my brain switched on, and in a heartbeat, my prime directive switched from “get laid!” to “nourish your offspring!” And how has this affected my daily life so far? Well, for instance, this week we’ve been told to get Ava’s weight back up her birth weight, and so began Operation: Feed Your Face. Whereas my usual weekend nights consisted of wine, cigarettes, poetry and PS3, the last forty eight hours have been a near-sleepless rollercoaster ride from euphoria to despair and back again, all depending on whether this little peanut of ours feels like eating or not.

All this speculation comes with a caveat: Things May Change Without Notice. After all, it has only been about seven days since Ava was born, and just as I am certain that those of you haven’t yet joined the parenthood club have done a lot of eye-rolling while reading this, I am sure that there are just as many veteran parents who’ve clicked their teeth at my musings and muttered just you wait until she’s a toddler/teen/twenty-something. So I’m quite comfortable being told to stuff a sock in it by you childfree hipsters, just as I’m sure the seasoned parents out there don’t mind me telling them to turn down the smug a little.

I’ll conclude here today by simple reiterating that Ava is the cutest baby ever.