Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting Down in Second Life

Warning: Contains some adult content.

My foray into Second Life has been fairly uneventful, unlike a colleague. Within ten minutes of logging in, he was hit by a car and propositioned by a Japanese avatar, who uttered a phrase like: "you wanna sucka me?" Sure, a female avatar asked if she could hug me, but she was not in control of her gestures, and she failed to execute the maneuver. I have no idea how to do that either. And so, I wondered on, and then sat on a bench by a strangely calm sea and stared off into the cyber distance.

Later, I ended up in an adult orgy room. I am not sure how this happened, but my search for a night club went awry and I found myself suddenly surrounded by naked avatars, some of them getting it on. I have no doubt that first lifers look nothing like their sexy pieces of anthropomorphic code. So, I wouldn't say that there was anything especially sexual about the place, unless one is into low-grade anime. By the way, why are there no ugly avatars?

I have to admit that the one thing I had been curious about since joining Second Life was what my avatar looked like without clothing. Most of the places I had visited before had strict rules about nudity, and so I had never been able to take off my clothes. I decided, after a few minutes of virtual voyeurism in this club, to take my pants off. I thought that I would just blend in.

This is where the shocking thing happened. Oh, the horror of it all. I discovered that I had no penis! My avatar looks like an anatomically-correct Michael Jackson doll! Why do female avatars have breasts and male avatars lack penises? This is a serious oversight. But, this lack of appendage explained the advertisements for penises on the walls. It appears that they can be purchased from the Second Life penis makers. I have only earned $4 (Lindens, actually) from my modeling job, and I am fairly sure that this is not enough, especially for a big one.

But, I have a fear of getting a penis, because I am not sure I will know how to operate it. I might end up disappointing some cute Japanese avatar - or her 350 lbs male first-life-counterpart. That would be sad for both of us.

And, speaking of penises, I posted a photo of a naked man on my Flickr account taken after the Toronto Pride Parade. This photo has been viewed more than 1100 times in 24 hours, making it second in rapid view accumulation just ahead of a lingerie-clad mannequin and behind a slaughtered pig. What's wrong with the world?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Endings/Beginnings, part three (see parts one and two)

What does a father say when his 18-year-old daughter announces that she is planning to move in with her boyfriend, a man of 31 or 32 years? On the one hand, he probably wishes that he was the man hooking up with a young woman. On the other, this is his daughter. I guess to preserve family harmony, my dad didn't forbid it, not that he could. "She'd do it anyway," he said to me. And, he was right.

For me, it was a chance to get my own room, and so I was overjoyed when she moved out and I could escape from the room I shared with my brother. My parents awarded me the room, even though I was younger. It was a prize for staying is school while my brother dropped out at age 15

I try to imagine how my sister must have felt when she discovered her boyfriend's secret life, 14 years down the road. He always left early for work, managing some sort of poorly-functioning renovation business, where I once earned a pittance for a summer of labour. He always arrived home very late. It translated to a mere five or six hours of sleep each night. What my sister learned is that much of his time away was spent with his other common-law wife.

He had two places to sleep and eat and shower. His had two lives, opposite, and yet bizarrely the same. He bought two identical Christmas presents each year. I suppose it was easier to remember what he gave if he just bought the same thing twice. He'd buy two bathrobes, two bottles of perfume, two pairs of slippers, two push-up bras, probably in different sizes.

And then she met the women, described as T's wife, a title she claimed for herself. Soon, my sister learned that there were three mortgages on her house; that this woman's father held the third; that a lawyer had perjured herself to implicate my sister; that this women - the other wife - had embezzled money from her own father; that the business was a thin operation, barely holding on, but with big dreams it could never hope to achieve; that someone else held a mortgage on the restaurant and T was just a figurehead owner, not the real man, hardly a man at all.

My sister lost the house. She didn't get a cent from the sale after foreclosure. And who knows where he is now. Part of me wants that information; a part does not.

To be continued ...

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Ice Cream Truck

How many ice cream tucks are there in Toronto? There would have to be hundreds, because the mobile soft-serve ice cream people always show up at dinner, with that infernal music that scrapes against my brain. Years of planning with Euler graphs and computer simulations must have taken place for this to happen in such an orchestrated manner. But, if the mobile soft-serve ice cream people are always at someone's house at dinner, where are the mobile soft-serve ice cream people just before they arrive and where do the mobile soft-serve ice cream people go right after? Does this mean that the mobile soft-serve ice cream people know when everyone eats, and can, therefore, time arrivals accordingly? Where did the mobile soft-serve ice cream people acquire this knowledge? Why is it that when we eat later, the mobile soft-serve ice cream people still manage to arrive when we are eating?

What do the mobile soft-serve ice cream people do in winter? It makes me wonder what the profit margin is in this business.

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Monday, June 18, 2007


I saw it as though it happened in slow motion -- a cyclist, two cyclists ahead of me on College Street, hitting the ground after being struck by a car door. The good news is that no cars were beside him. The other cyclist and I helped him up, made sure he was alright. The driver got out of his car and was seemed relieved that the cyclist was OK and not angry.

The truly strange part is that the driver was perplexed. He repeated over and over that he did not see the cyclist in his mirror, and he wondered where he came from. Of course, we all told him that he needs to shoulder-check because he has a blind spot, the same way you need to shoulder-check when you change lanes. The driver just could not understand that and it seemed to me as if he was angry at his mirror for letting him down. I believe that the concept of shoulder-checking was completely new to him.

I wonder what box of cereal this guy got his driver's license from.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Endings/Beginnings, part two (read part one)

My father took refuge in his darkened room after my mother was taken away to the psychiatric hospital. Later, we ate in silence in the dim dining room and I remember struggling to see the food on my plate. Perhaps he did not want me to see his face. Days later, my mother returned, for a short time, long enough to celebrate Christmas, and then she fled in my dad's car, heading north to the cottage. She stayed there until the money dried up and the car, neglected and abused, died a slow death, but not before her boyfriend stole it and abandoned it in Rexdale.

My dad is no philosopher, though I think he wishes he was. He has opinions. He offers advice, in a fatherly way. But, it's easy to reject advice when it is steeped in conservative dogma and dispensed far too rigidly. Occasionally, the advice is offered up almost as a plea. "Don't work in a factory," he once advised. That was good advice, but I am sure he felt it might be unavoidable for me, the fourth child in a working class family raised in a small town where the majority of the work is the endless tedium of the factory, the only antidote being cases of beer and liquor.

My mother did not return. She found her way into her mother's house, perhaps the only one who would offer her shelter. Ten years on, she works on an endless stream of seek-a-word puzzles and juvenile crosswords while smoking a chain of cigarettes. Her hair is gray-yellow, a shocking change from the deep black she died it for most of her life.

After some time, my father began to speak with mercenary zeal about dating and meeting someone. He announced that he would not be alone by the same time next year. He was confident. He practised driving to a few restaurants in a neighbouring city, something he had never done before. He has been married to his second wife for 18 years now.

Years later, when A. and I split, turning away from an ill-advised union of the young and the younger (I was the younger), my dad had no advice; instead, he blamed himself and I have never been able to figure out why.

To be continued ...

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


One item in the following list is NOT true.

1) What did I have for breakfast today: gluten-free Mesa Sunrise cereal with soy milk and then two or three rice cakes with jam. When one has celiac disease, one eats many many rice cakes.

2) What am I wearing: jeans and a t-shirt. Yesterday was far more interesting because I was wearing a shirt that is often mistaken for a table cloth. If I were to lie down on the grass while wearing that shirt, people would have a picnic on me and then the ants and pigeons would show up looking for crumbs.

3) What am I reading: Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family.

4) What is the last CD I bought: Yesterday, I grabbed a some CDs from Sam the Record Man's 99 cent bin, as the store is closing soon. I got: Jon Gibbons - In Good Company; Black lab - Your Body Above Me (not so sure if I like this); and The X-Files: The Album - Fight the Future (just for the Dust Brothers' version of the X-Files theme).

5) Last thing I did to piss someone off: I submitted a formal copyright complaint to Facebook for copyright violation in one Facebook group. Someone uploaded one of my photographs without permission. It even had my copyright statement right on the photo. The photo has now been removed. I would gladly have permitted the upload if permission had been requested in advance. What is really troubling is that the person who did is a librarian and should be aware of copyright law. Incidentally, a photo of mine will appear on an upcoming University of Toronto brochure.

6) Last thing I took a photo of: My penis.

7) A random thing on my desk: An article entitled: "Fetishes and their Associated Behavior," Sexuality and Diversity 20(2): 2002, p 135-147.

8) Strangest reference question I had yesterday: "If I put a stamp on this," said patron holding up one of those large inter-office envelopes riddled with symmetrical holes, "will Canada Post deliver it?" I thought not, but replied "I'll have to plead ignorance on that one." To which he replied, "do you have any envelopes." I sent him to the bookstore. Five minutes later, I was asked for an envelope by another patron. This may seem minor to you, but we are constantly asked for envelopes, tape, glue, scissors, staplers (which we provide), three hole punches (which we provide), telephones, paper clips, liquid paper, post-it notes, paper, pens (which we provide), pencils (which we provide), directions (which we provide), band aids, hand sanitizer, proofreading of essays, correct spelling (which we provide), help in interpreting essay questions, etc. Occasionally, we get a few reference questions.

9) Last TV show I watched: The final episode of the Sopranos.

10) More horrific sight I have ever seen: My dad sunbathing is a thong.

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Monday, June 11, 2007


On Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Sandra Kasturi's book of poems, The Animal Bridegroom. It was a well-attended event at The Central on Markham Street. Unfortunately, it was hotter than hell in there, even before the readings began. I saw a few people I hadn't seen in years, most of whom are on Facebook (like, who isn't?).

Sandra published my first poem (two, actually) about 13 years ago. I had two more published in another journal that same year, and then I gave it up and have only written a handful of poems since then. I am not really sure why, but I think that fame was getting to me.

I kept getting demands for autographs and invitations to events I had no interest in attending. I had to retreat to the sidelines. Otherwise, I would have had a Paris Hilton lifestyle, and who wants that? I took a poetry workshop a couple of years ago with Rhea Tregebov, and that was fine, but it did not kick start anything. I have been sticking to prose.

Happy Monday.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Back in the Day

Do you remember the good old days when I had lots to say, some of it even funny or interesting? Those days might be gone.

I think I might be getting another cold. The non-stop cold syndrome is the worst thing about being surrounded with children. At least it's Friday.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Social Etiquette

Caution: this is a boring post, but here it is anyway:

I think that if there's anything that I have perfected, it is standing in a line (or a queue, if you like). There is a delicate balance to be achieved. A socially-appropriate distance must be maintained between you and the person in front. One must be aware of the line as it moves, so as not to leave gaps that are too big, lest someone join the line in the middle. In summary, after so many years on this planet, I know how to stand in a line.

When making purchases, the job is somewhat easier, because one generally has a burden, be it a bunch of bananas, sausages, caviar, or champagne. And yet, when I was in line recently with a container of Baba Ghanouj and two bananas, waiting patiently to pay, an old shriveled woman came up and yelled "are you in line!" at me. She sounded like a pissed off drill sergeant.

I was startled at the volume of the question and because I was clearly in line. I am not sure if it was possible for me to be any more in line. I was as in line as I could be. Any more in line, and I would be in danger of sodomizing the person in front of me. My hands were full, and I had my wallet out, ready to pay. I was in line.

Despite all of the visual clues, this woman had no idea, or perhaps she was trying to force me out of line, maybe make me feel sorry for her and let her in. But, shortly thereafter, I realized that she was a mean old cow.

I was mid way through my transaction when I heard her yell "do you have a smaller bag!" like it was an accusation, that the clerk was holding back the small bags or that she deliberately placed her produce in an over sized bag, just for gags. She probably imagined that the clerks would all laugh at her as she left, and mutter things like, "wow, you really gave her a big bag" and "you win: that's the biggest bag I've ever seen for such a small purchase."

For some reason, the cashier missed the question and the woman let her have it with "did you hear me! I asked if you have a smaller bag ..." She then went on about the size of the bag compared with the size of her purchase.

I hope I don't end up like that.

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Monday, June 04, 2007


Endings are also beginnings. I've often thought that when reading novels or watching films. I believe this because endings are not always satisfactory, especially those children's books that conclude with the cop out "they lived happily ever after." If endings were really endings, we'd have no sequels or prequels or television shows made into films or films made into television shows. The end would be the end and that would be that. In life, the end comes in death, I think. There could be something after that, but I remain to be convinced. For me, that this is the only attractive part about dying: we get to see if there is anything after this life. I suspect that there isn't, but I am not sure I want to delve into religion right now.

There are endings and there are beginnings.

To be continued...

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Friday, June 01, 2007

A Quote

Been a lazy blogger this week, so just a short quote today from Quare Dewd: "Librarians should always get lots of sex, hot chocolate, and cash!"

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