Thursday, 27 December 2012

Ten Songs from 2012

I'm not a real critic so my list skews softer than most -- though the hard song at number one was undeniable. Titles mostly link to videos.

1. Japandroids, "The House That Heaven Built"
Tell them all to go to hell.

Just a rock anthem. Maybe the best rock anthem.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

10 Modern Poets You Might Like

Highlights from a.m.k.'s experience with modern poetry.

I recently read a 600-page introduction to modern poetry (for fun), so I've had that on my mind lately. The book had a lot of dry parts (as you might imagine) but I enjoyed learning about poets I've never heard of before or getting some of my misconceptions of certain poets/movements sorted out.

I am by no means an expert -- there are many poets I haven't read, and many others who I've only read a bit of. But I've been reading poetry for several years now, and the modern period is what I am most comfortable with and arguably like best. I am not up-to-date enough on contemporary poetry to make a list of anything more recent than 1970 (and there is a lot to keep track of -- damn internet/damn globalization), but one day I will be. For now, I'll share my knowledge and interest in poets most active from about 1890-1970, which includes the period preceding modernism and the bulk of post-modernism as well. I realize this is well past the scope of what most scholars consider to be modern, so if you are a scholar you can ignore the term and just think "he's listing poets he likes from (approximately) an 80-year period."

It is also my firm belief that people should read more poetry. Attention spans and TV are big competition, but for people generally interested in literature, art and self-expression, poetry is really worth it, and it’s much less of a commitment than novels. I get that no one has the time to read War and Peace, but most poems in the past 100 years are one page or shorter, and good poems can stimulate your thoughts or emotions in only a moment.

So for poetry enthusiasts old and new, here are ten "modern" poets I'd recommend:

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Complete Guide to Starsky & Hutch

A friend convinced me to start watching Starsky & Hutch. It is a TV show about cops, and it is from the 70s. Here are the key elements of any episode of Starsky & Hutch.

Starsky and Hutch

Starsky and Hutch are two cops who catch bad guys. They are the best of friends. In this picture they are dressed up as pimps, but they are pretty outrageous dressers under normal circumstances.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A Vegetarian's Guide to Centretown Brunch

In which a.m.k. raids the neighbourhood for the fourth-most-important meal.

I'm in my mid-twenties, so I like brunch. I'm not sure what it is about brunch that has hipsters my age so excited -- maybe it's because all the best foods can be eaten for breakfast/lunch. Or it's that brunch works for every occasion. You can meet mom for brunch, or perhaps an old friend.

That girl/guy you brought home from the bar last night, the one that kept your roommates up until four with the bizarre sounds they made? What better way to break the ice after an awkward good morning than brunch. Breaking up with the long-term partner? Brunch. First date? Brunch. Business proposal? Brunch. Post-wake family gathering? Brunch.

As you can see, there are many times in your life when brunch is the perfect, civilized means to spend time with other people. Or just to read. We're busy people, but probably not that productive at 11am on the weekend, and hell everywhere has wi-fi so you can even bring your laptop and get work done while settling down for some delicious french toast and coffee (two teaspoons of raw sugar).

Monday, 19 November 2012

Why I'm moving to Colorado (or Washington)

a.m.k looks in on marijuana laws and changing times.

Almost two weeks ago, the United States re-elected President Barack Obama, much to the dismay of old rich white American men. Initially lost in the intense battle for US presidency was the fact that three states -- Colorado, Washington and Oregon -- all had a vote to legalize marijuana. When the news finally reached me a few days later, I was astounded: how come this hasn't been all over the news? Is the US becoming more socially-progressive than Canada? How fast can I get a holiday visa?

After finding this out, I immediately considered applying to MFA programs in those two states and was very upset that I hadn't initially decided to apply to the University of Washington or Colorado State. My writing could be very improved with legal access of mind-altering substances, and though I'd probably get very fat eating Miss Vickies Sea Salt and Vinegar Chips, I wouldn't be tempted to spend time away from writing to do some mundane activity like going to the gym or cleaning the bathroom.

I think many of us take for granted that Canada is more socially-open than our southern neighbours -- and I still think most places in Canada are ahead of the US with things like gay rights -- so the news that two of the three states, Colorado and Washington, voted to approve the legalization of marijuana should turn some heads.

That's right. Marijuana is going to be legal in parts of America now.

It didn't pass in Oregon, but in Oregon I believe there weren't any proposed restrictions on how much one could buy, which might have freaked some people out enough to vote against it.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Lockout spotlight: the start of the OKC Barons' AHL season

a.m.k. has 9,000 words to share with you about the Oilers' farm team.

It's a few weeks into the North American pro hockey season, and with the NHL lockout dragging on perhaps for infinity, the spotlight is on the AHL. For you non-hockey lovers out there, that's one step below the NHL as far as  North American professional hockey goes.

Average turnout at a Barons game.
The AHL operates very similarly to the NHL and in fact is attached to its parent league: each NHL team owns an AHL team, which they use to develop their prospects and replacement-level players. Most minor league teams will have over half their players on NHL contracts, meaning they can be called up to the NHL at any time (some of the older guys have to clear waivers). For a young team like the Oilers, though, almost every single player on their farm team has an NHL contract, and since the lockout is on, they were able to send many of the young guys who would normally be in the NHL to their farm team, the Oklahoma City Barons (which, as you might have guessed, doesn't exactly sell out the building, even when giving a freakin car away every Saturday). You see, when your parent club, the Edmonton Oilers, is as bad as they've been for as long as they've been, they get a lot of high draft picks, most of which are still pretty young and are thus eligible to play in the AHL during the lockout.

Now, OKC is supposed to be tearing up the minor leagues because of the skill players they have down there: two first overall NHL picks (Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent Hopkins), an NHL all-star (Jordan Eberle), one of the most prized young free agent acquisition of the offseason (Justin Schultz -- currently leading the AHL in points, which is especially ridiculous because he's a defenseman), a few young players with NHL experience still developing (Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander), and the normal array of promising young prospects that haven't quite made the jump to the NHL yet.

The difference between the OKC Barons and the other AHL teams is that most other AHL teams only have an array of talented young prospects, replacement NHL players and AHL vets. Some teams have a couple NHL players because of the lockout, but none have the number that OKC has. In fact, it'd be tough to argue that OKC doesn't have the top four players in the whole AHL, or at least four of the top ten players in the league.

Barons looking like Oilers.
As an aside, the level of play in the AHL has been a lot higher than I thought it'd be, and I think most of the guys on those rosters wouldn't look especially out of place as bottom six NHL players. There is definitely not as much skill on the ice, but it's still good hockey.

So, on paper, OKC should be tearing up the league. After 10 games, they're 5-4-0-1 (one shootout loss), which adds to 11 points and is good for a tie for seventh in the Western conference. If the postseason started today, they'd barely squeak into the playoffs.

The season is only 1/8 done so it's obviously quite early, but the 10-game point is about the time where I like to start collecting impressions and getting worried/excited about the individual and team performances. Since is this is the minor leagues, I don't care nearly as much if the Barons win or lose (though I prefer they win). I'm more concerned with how the players are doing, developing and projecting into NHL roles. 10 games is a small sample size, but for a team that's supposed to be dominating, being a middling team is not good enough. Now is the time they need to turn it up.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Cardigans, nostalgia and stalking old friends

When he was ten, a.m.k. used to hang out all day on music forums....

As I sit here on my balcony, realizing how F.R. Scott isn't nearly as good as the first few poems I read of his seemed, for the first time I can hear music coming from my neighbour's apartment. My building is very well-insulated for an old building, and for some reason you can hear things when you walk thru the hallways that you can't hear in your apartment. The only time I hear anyone is my neighbour below me playing saxophone sometimes, and it's not even loud at all. Except he plays the same damn song over and over. I play music all the time quite loudly and I’ve even asked neighbours if it bothers them and they say they never hear a thing. So if they do, it's not my fault for not lowering the music, is it?

Anyway, I’m sitting here on the balcony, wrists sweating like a motherfucker and she's playing the Cardigans. I first discovered the non-singles side of the Cardigans when I think I was bored one night and downloaded a bunch of songs that had corny-sounding names. I was such an emo I probably searched "kiss" and their song "And then you kissed me part II" came up, and I thought to myself, why did I never give the Cardigans a real chance? That Romeo and Juliet song was really catchy and I think they had another one that I remember liking, just not hearing enough to think of it much. And I saw their CD and I bet I was feeling rambunctious and I just bought a handful of bands I’d hear of but never thought of buying before, just in case I found a gem, as my uncle would say.

When I bought their album I was really intrigued by their sound, so I decided to give them a cautious chance. They didn't seem like a cool band to be into, if you know what I mean, they weren't "in". I don't know if it was any one song that had this effect on me, but I think I found pretty near their whole discography for cheap used on Amazon. I still get their damn newsletters because I don't know how to unsubscribe or am too lazy to scroll down and see if there's a link. I kept unsubscribing from the NRA's mailing list and fuck I still get their newsletters every few days with coupons and rally invitations. Whoever gave my email to the NRA is a cruel, cruel person.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Field Notes: Dear Lea Graham:

by rob mclennan

I am writing from the office in our newly-shared apartment, the one you haven’t seen yet. Christine sends her best. Books scatter and stack, every day a new box opened, discovery. I don’t always know what I know. Squirrels carry leaves in their mouth, strike up back steps, deck, slip up the roof. It is different, to live with a woman.

Lately I’ve been trying to get Christine to read Sarah Mangold: “The moment snow pours out of you / bed,” she writes, in her An Antenna Called The Body. Instead, she pours through the late Daniel Jones, The Brave Never Write Poetry: “Never much needed a muse / when I had the beer; yet for so long / my fingers have been silent.” We relay, different points of attention. Articulation.

Lately, Robert Kroetsch has been on my mind again. A thin, clear, unspecific line. Less the writing, more the man himself. Everywhere, I see the dead. John Lavery, a nestle of scotch in the corner of Pubwells; Dennis Tourbin at the intersection of Bank and Somerset, where the old Lockmaster Tavern perpetually threatens collapse, strict folds.

Dizzy, what heights. Navigation, wind. A song room, sweetened. From our back maple, an edit leaves; red-filtered, fallen.

Not everything follows the centre. What you call center. And, and, and. My reading is perfectly alphabetized.

I don’t always know what I know, lessons learned in a cycle. Christine’s wayward collection of cds, her Carpenters tribute album on permanent repeat, rolling through these past three days. Already I know I’ve heard a more compelling version of one track, lisped into Mirrormask. Sometimes you just die, trying.

As Mangold writes, “One word could carry you through an entire novel.” I am trying to find that word.


What did Robert Kroetsch mean when he wrote “The spending lover both creates and fears the growing silence.”? I slip through Kroetsch, and end up amid pages of Smaro Kamboureli, in the second person: “My life seems to draw its own map, straight lines, and a few curves, that delineate the trajectory of my moments in ways I still cannot comprehend.” As though, by writing out the second person, she writes her whole self into being.

I am reading through your poems on Kroetsch, and speculate your trajectories. Where are you heading? Robert Kroetsch down through Mohawk Valley, threading the Hudson River all the way to Poughkeepsie. Airplanes and radio waves zigzag and spool. I take enormous comfort from your journeyings. But when might you drive again the six or eight hours north?

We live in a house, occupy but a fragment. Third floor. Still, an improvement. A room with a view and a couch you can use. In Either Way I’m Celebrating, Sommer Browning writes, “A house is an employment of trees; a crowd is a path to your door.” I have misplaced my Mangold, constantly thumbing and setting down.

The office warms, even as the city cools. The printer dims bulbs. Labyrinthine snow, we could never find egress. Clear, in fact. Apartment heat so strong, we haven’t yet required to close our bedroom window. Sometimes passing snowplows startle us out of sleep.

Christine has abandoned the shared office, requesting a corner of bedroom. I’ve since carved a corner for desk, laptop, bulletin board. She trades order for chaos and back again, constructing poems. A flurried precision. Sits with Kate Beaton’s Hark, a Vagrant. The difference between fractals and pinpoints, the way her light shines through history. It happened like this, and like this, and like this.

I am waiting for 1812 to begin its re-telling, flagrant in its variety. What your country has edited long out of existence.

*Editor's note: Check out a piece rob wrote on part of Centretown's history here.

Born in Ottawa, rob mclennan has lived in Centretown since 1990 (give or take a year). The author of more than twenty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, including Ottawa: The Unknown City and The Ottawa City Project, he spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta. He regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Dating and the mysterious allure of sports fandom

a.m.k. has a few things to say about a popular waste of time.

A subculture in action.
I've met people from a lot of different subcultures. Some people are into counter-cultural or expressive types of entertainment: the underground music guru, the theatre enthusiast, the drug dealer. There are academics who attend conferences, briefcase-in-hand, perhaps looking down their noses at people disinterested in intellectual pursuits. There are nerds who get into weird online gaming communities like WoW (sorry I'll never understand it). And of course, there are people who don't seem to be into anything; maybe they have big families or live alone and stare into space smoking all night, who knows.

And then there are sports fanatics.

I've spent time inside and outside the sports world, and it's easy to forget what it's like in there -- just like it's easy to forget what it's like to be single or to be addicted to Pacman.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


by Bandita
No peace

 My life is
              one long wander
one long wonder

            I spend my days

Wandering then wondering
              Wondering then wandering

Finding questions
              Asking answers 

            Out there in the wondrous world
In here in my wandering mind

            seldom exhaustively
               always exhaustingly



   No peace 

Once upon a blue moon cast over dark lustful nights, Bandita lived and 
shenaniganed in Centretown. She now occasionally revisits Centretown to 
drag sleepy stupored young men out of their haze and into the Light.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Chicago Open Report

Brendan tried out for Jeopardy last year. He knows the names of a lot of former congressmen and Renaissance painters and stuff.

I'm pretty obsessed with playing quizbowl and learning / remembering the things that would help you win at quizbowl, but a lot of people are still a lot better than me at this stuff. Last month I went on a road trip to play sort of a masters quizbowl tournament against very strong competition. I wrote most of this report in a kind of dazed week after my trip, when I had exams coming up.

Thursday Night

Ottawa and Chicago are far apart, man. I guess you can technically go from Ottawa to Chicago in a day, if you consider a day to be 24 hours, which I do since that's approximately how many hours I stay awake for in an average day. I meet Patrick at midnight to get on the overnight bus to Toronto, the driver tells us not to drink alcohol on the bus, and in the first four hours of my trip I completely kill the battery on my music player. I even brought a pillow to sleep on the bus, but I am tightly-wound and never relax, not even with pillows, while Patrick is pretty much a ten-toed sloth who falls asleep without turning his music off.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Mental health and super powers

a.m.k. has studied his share of psychology, and for years, he has volunteered at a psych health centre near Centretown.

Some kind of crazed
I often sit on my balcony and wonder about psychological disorders. Specifically, I wonder whether they exist.

Over the past few decades, there have been smalls shifts to think of "disordered" behaviours as merely differences, not to have a value judgment. Some of these behaviours have made the jump to being "ordered," but some of them haven't.

For example, homosexuality was considered a disorder until 1985. Back in the day, the majority of people did not accept that homosexuality was healthy.

An aside about the struggle for gay rights

It seems that a large part of the world has gotten past this, and although there is a lot of hatred for the gay community still, I think most heterosexual people don't have a problem with homosexuality, or at least not one that they would openly talk about. This trending-in-the-right-direction runs parallel with the gay rights movement, whose battles for acceptance are being fought largely under our noses in communities like Ottawa, where people don't necessarily think about it so much.

Contrary to what some might think, Ottawa is not a socially-conservative city. For most of my life I called somewhere else home, and very few people were openly gay there -- at least in high school, and from what I know, after as well. I'm not sure how some cities progress faster than others in a globalized world like ours, but I swear it happens, and Ottawa is less likely to produce homophobic kids than virtually any other city in the country from what I can tell. That is not to say that homophobia does not exist in Ottawa -- it absolutely does, and I have come across it several times. But the homophobia that exists in many other cities is far more noticeable and far more hateful, if that makes sense.

Here, it's not unusual to see gay couples holding hands walking down Bank. Down Wyandotte in Windsor? I've never seen it, and I lived there 18 years. In other cities, like Windsor, I get the impression that it is much scarier to be gay because you're not sure if someone is going to jump you and you're nearly certain people are going to gawk and say something hateful. In Ottawa, I've been cat-called by men sitting on the patio at CP. I can't see an official gay village designation getting passed in many other Canadian cities. There is still a ways to go, yes, but these are steps in the right direction, for sure, and steps that perhaps have not been taken to the same extent in other areas.

The designation "disorder"

It wasn't always like this. Homosexuality used to be considered a disorder. Few people, even those in more right-wing communities, would dare call it that now.

Are there conditions now that are labelled as disorders but not really warranting a diagnosis? Maybe. "Diagnosis" has a very pervasive negative haunt to it because it has to do with the psychology--the insides of someone. And it's perceived that people have some, or at least, more, control over their psychologies and what is invisible to others.

Some very thin vertical lines between these categories. (Source)

Are there other conditions that do not warrant that "disorder" status because they do no harm to anyone, but can be better described as "differences"? Take personality disorders for example. Does someone ever really need to be told that their personalities are a textbook example of what a bad, malfunctioning person is? Can someone control being Schizoid?

What if their personality entails treating other people as tools to get what you want, unempathetic of their well-being?

Yes, that last example could be warranted as disordered behaviour. A human unable to feel remorse when carelessly disregarding the life and liberty of another person. That's dangerous. That creates harm. That is also a symptom of Antisocial Personality Disorder, a component of psychopathy.

A person who avoids confrontations at all costs? Shy beyond belief because they don't want to say the wrong thing? Probably not qualities that will help you succeed in the westernized world, but disordered?

Some people worry more than others. Does that warrant the label of a disorder?

It might. It depends how harmful it is to their psychological well-being, if at all. When psychology was emerging as a respected field, there were definitely value judgements placed on people who exhibited certain behaviours. Even today, people with mental illnesses suffer from much more social stigma than people who have physical handicaps or skin cancer. (Something like Alzheimer's is likely somewhere in between--you can see the brain deterioration if shown, but when people act different and don't know who they are, it's hard to see them as the same person or to be able to treat them like it.)

I am willing to bet that the dangers and harmfulness of conditions like worry are over-exaggerated in our society. Actually, I think it can perpetuate the worry people have--an anxious person can become more anxious when being told they have anxiety, for example. It can also become a scapegoat for the person not wanting to make a concentrated effort to get better.

Am I saying everyone with anxiety is faking and could be okay if not diagnosed? God no. I'm just saying that, generally speaking, we over-analyze as a society. We need labels and to keep people and their behaviours in perfect boxes to explain them away. When a person with some issues gets a label that they don't necessarily need, it can do more harm than good because it can be used as an explanation for some of the issues they are facing; this can be good in many cases--it's nice to know you're not alone and other people have the same type of shit to deal with that you have--but it's also easier, I think, to lay on the couch and accept the fact that you're depressed if you're told so by a doctor. We then can think, I'm lying here sulking because I'm depressed, instead of I should go out and do something.

(Of course, I am only talking here about borderline cases of mental health issues, or cases where diagnoses are not needed. I've said it above and I'll say it again: this is not true of all diagnoses. Many, many are helpful, in my opinion. I'm more talking about the societal inclination we have to diagnose and some of the potential side-effects that it can cause in cases that could perhaps be avoided if we changed how we viewed personality differences and "atypical" behaviour.)

To qualify for a diagnosis today, the condition in question must limit your quality of life; it must be disabling and distressing to how you experience your life. What if someone believes their homosexuality to cause distress, if only because it leads to their being mistreated by others. Does that mean it's a disorder? Of course not. But then why are some other conditions considered disorders which (1) don't cause people to harm anyone else and (2) are not unpleasant in and of themselves? Or what if, perhaps, they are unpleasant, but adding a label does nothing to help that person? Maybe it has a negative effect on them, for any of the above-mentioned reasons or for countless others that I won't get into. Maybe it's helpful. It does depend on the individual case, for sure, but I am suggesting that perhaps we are progressing more towards over-diagnosis and over-medication instead of trending toward a society that values acceptances and uniqueness.

The power of labels

We might think of some traits as disorders just because they're named that way. A lot is in a name; we use names as heuristics, mental shortcuts in a way to navigate more quickly to what needs our attention. If I'm constantly distracted by the smell of manure, it'd be hard to work in a stable. So we get a lot out of things like names because they pre-package information for our brain so it doesn't have to download the information as intricately. Imagine if we had to really take in each individual word in a sentence: we would take ten times longer to read.

The problem is the environment in which these labels are created sometimes. Many disorders do not exist globally. Are labels perpetuating a certain type of behaviour? Do certain conditions within society foster maladaptive behaviours? Mood disorders are more prevalent in richer countries.

What happens when people are different

Why did being gay get such a bad wrap when things like sexuality began to be a growing concern? Who sat at the council to make it have a negative sound to it?

However it happened, the dominant society went and took being gay to being negative, which is something that our present society, progressively so in Ottawa, is finally reacting against.

People love to have control, and that's understandable. It's scary when we don't know what to expect from the world. And it's scary when we don't know what to expect from the person talking to her/himself on the bus beside us. Since they don't follow our notion of what is a proper way to act, who knows, they might stab us.

Some people who have mental health struggles are dangerous, it's true. This is also true: some people who don't have mental health struggles are dangerous. Also true: many of the people who have mental health struggles are not obviously struggling with any issue. In fact, many of the people with mental health struggles who ARE dangerous, for example, people with psychopathy, are well-functioning in our society. In fact, they have many personality traits that are considered desirable, often intelligent, motivated and charming. You couldn't pick them out of a crowd. Chances are, though, the person talking to her/himself on the bus or the person who has panic attacks is much more concerned with their own internal struggles than they are about stabbing you. But, these people do not fit in with our perception of normality. And we are scared.

These days, some differences carry more weight than others in the social consciousness. When Ms. Jenna Talackova was vying for the title of Miss Universe Canada, there was a lot of talk about it, and a lot of support for her, but also a lot of hate.

Clearly lacking order.
People with depression and anxiety process information and their world differently than people who do not have depression or anxiety. People who are gay or transgendered probably process their worlds differently than heterosexual people because their experiences are also different. Women process their worlds differently than men as a whole. But of course, each woman processes her world differently from every other woman, too. Consciousness is different for each one of us, and we never really can know truly how someone else feels. First rule of active listening, never say 'I know exactly how you feel' or 'I understand'. So why draw imaginary lines between genders or sexual preferences when they exist between each and every one of us? In a way, we all have borders between us because we all have a different consciousness, but in another way we are all humans with brains and bodies and have, what we expect, to be a similar understanding of basic physics. We all have language and eat and shit.

How we can handle all this

I'm not really advocating for getting rid of the DSM. I do think, however, that the way we treat people who are different needs a serious overhaul. Some people with anxiety could really use help with the unpleasant feelings of worry they experience, but if people were more understanding, it wouldn't have to affect their work and social life as it can in many cases. If people treated each other better, perhaps there would be so many instances of legitimately diagnosable depression or anxiety, and the cases that are borderline now would be completely non-existent.

I can't stop you from labelling me. Labels are healthy insofar as they're temporary, as they can give way to a clearer picture once you get to know a person. We need to judge people by things like how they're dressed sometimes. I don't want to walk next to guy who I would classify as looking violent on dark road or a back alley. That move would cost me more often than walking on the same dark road or in the same back alley with a beautiful girl in running gear. In this case, I call the quick judgment a life-preserver.

I can, however, ask that you don't make a value judgment on me when it's unnecessary. I have a trait that is strange and different and could be labelled conveniently, but that doesn't mean that you have the right to judge anything. That behaviour that isn't hurting anybody else and not myself either. If you had to make a judgment on me because of your own safety that's a different story, but that's a very rare consideration.

My confession

I do not sweat as much as other people.

You know who else 
didn't sweat much?
I have a friend and when we play a short set of tennis he sweats buckets -- it's actually pretty repulsive. He can hardly breathe or walk when we're done, and I just stand there with my testicles hanging out waiting for him to get up again to finish the game. He sweats when walking up stairs. My muscles get sore pretty fast, I'm far from an athlete, but do I sweat? Not really. I worry that I don't drink enough water.

I have another friend who I perform with sometimes on stage. I swear before he even gets on the stage he is already dripping wet. I curse the shows with good lighting because it shows the beads flying off him a dog coming out of a bath. Meanwhile I am behind him on stage, where it is supposed to be hotter, perfectly dry. Even though I'm flailing around on drums and he's just standing with a guitar, he's the one who overheats up there.

Is it because I'm in such stellar shape? Do I hardly break a sweat after doing sprints, playing tennis or performing on stage because drinking bourbon and lattes and having long baths makes me more physically apt than my peers?

Probably not.

Do I have a problem with my pores? Is my body unable to extract liquid? I haven't cried in years. Would anyone think badly of me for not sweating?

I hope not.

Everyone has differences. Maybe sweating makes me unique. Some people are gay, and some are shy. None of those things are inherently unpleasant to live with or hurtful to others. If someone existed who didn't have anything that was different from the majority of other people, I wouldn't particularly want to meet them, other than for the scientific discovery.

Why not turn the tables on the shrouds of negative value judgments? Everyone in the world has something about them that is different from the general norm--let's call it a superpower. Some can hold their breath for a very long time. Some can run long distances without breaking a sweat. Some can avoid disaster by carefully planning everything--they're who friends ask for help sorting out their own disheveled lives.

These are all our superpowers. What are yours?

a.m.k. is too polite to mention that he's never farted before.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Stories from the Ottawa Sun

by Jenna Jarvis

every year, there's summer trouble
across (or in) the river
in quebec, after Victoria Day:

there are students
(that word means trouble—
hot-buttons and trouble)

there was a fire
            in a family house,
there's been a triple-murder
            in a boarding house;

there are more details forthcoming

to dampen the mood of another
crushing humid summer,

to forestall an indian summer,
after the killing

of that global


Jenna Jarvis is a fourth-year English student at Carleton University. Her poetry has appeared in print in In/Words Magazine and online at and

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Living Dead

by Bandita

She rattled my cage
Shook it loud
Shook it fierce
She rattled my cage
Shook me up
Set me free

I saved her from herself
That's what she said
I know I didn't
She did it all by herself
But I did cushion her landing
Ease her re-entry
That I did

I rattled her cage
Shook it gently
Shook it soft
I rattled her cage
Shook her up
Set her free

She saved me from myself
That’s what she did
I know she didn't
I did it all by myself
But she did cushion my landing
Ease my re-entry
That she did

Friends in the dark
Friends in the smoke
Lingering fumes
In a deserted hair salon
Mysterious delivery explained
Painful explanation delivered

We rattled our cages
Shook them good
Shook them loose
We rattled our cages
Shook ourselves up
And walked free
To live
To die


Dedicated to HQ.

Last night, we both went forward,
blind woman, lame woman.
And she ate. And that was good.

"When a blind man carries a lame man, both go forward."

-- Swedish Proverb

Once upon a blue moon cast over dark lustful nights, Bandita lived and shenaniganed in Centretown. She now occasionally revisits Centretown to drag sleepy stupored young men out of their haze and into the Light.

Friday, 6 July 2012

On marriage and growing up

The couple.
a.m.k. has never been married, but he does love champagne.

This past weekend I got to attend the wedding of two old friends, two friends I’ve known for eight and ten years each. At my age, weddings among friends aren't too common, but I should probably expect a steady stream of them to kick in soon and last for the next ten or fifteen years. Long work weeks and other commitments mean 20-somethings have to skip out on a lot of fun stuff, but one of the few events that can justify a weekend road trip is attending a wedding.

This weekend’s wedding was the first I’ve been to that was friends instead of family, and it was also special for me for another reason: I was the person who introduced the bride and groom to each other about seven years ago. At the time, I gave them maybe a few weeks to last--I just didn't see it. But all the same, they lasted and all these years later they're moving into a house together and saying holy vows.

As the years pass, I am slowly but surely witnessing the shrinking of my social circle. I've read about this phenomenon in textbooks and I was pretty sure it was going to happen to me eventually, but I still think it caught me off guard. They say that the friends who stick around are the important ones, which may be true, but there are still people I’ve lost contact with who I really wish I hadn’t. Part of it is my fault, of course, for not making more of an effort to keep in touch, but it’s also just because life gets in the way: it's hard to manage communicating with people in various different cities, especially with a girlfriend, full-time job, volunteering, sports, leisure, sleep, alcohol, etc.

I’ve only had a little contact over the past few years with this couple (and if I wasn't the one to introduce them, I'm not 100% sure we'd even be in contact at all), but we were close at one point and we shared plenty of experiences. Sometimes I call him up when I'm in town, and sometimes I don't, which is fine; his life gets in the way sometimes, mine does too. He’s not allowed to forget me, in any case, since I’ll always be the answer to "how did you two meet?"

The groom in 2004.
The wedding wasn’t small, but it felt small. There were few friends in attendance—zero from our grade school and only one other from our high school that I saw. Out of his friends, there was his wedding party, a guy from our high school job (that he found me) and a few guys he went to college with. That was it. I'm not sure his wife had any friends there aside from her bridesmaids, but they did invite lots of family. I expected to recognize more people, and I’d been preparing myself for awkward encounters with guys I hadn’t thought of talking to since high school.

Being there with mostly family was uncomfortable, but it was humbling, made me feel the weight of my invitation spot in their inner circle that day.

I don’t cry much in public, but I kept trying to think of dead animals and strange situations to get my mind off the bride walking up the aisle, wedding vows, speeches, first dance. Part of me was just emotional for “selfish reasons”--a life event like a wedding can remind you of your own mortality. I've known him since we were pretty much kids and him being a married man is enough for me to wonder where the years have gone and question when exactly I became "grown-up" – though of course there's no real answer to that. The days quietly go until you’re wrinkled, but it's milestones like weddings that force you to stop and think about the past and where you are now.

I am not where I want to be right now: not where I planned to be at this age ten years ago. I can look at myself and think hey I'm not doing so bad, yeah I'm probably more established in my life than most people around me. I've already done things that were on my list, so to speak, and I'm not slowing down or anything, but I guess I just hoped I would have amounted to something more by now. It's inevitable that you'll be disappointed, I think, especially when you dream big, but it still sucks to sit at a table, drinking free wine and wondering how you have a goatee and are not in the career you dreamed of.

Poof! a.m.k. made this happen.
During those moments of the ceremony and reception when I felt teary, though, I had the important consolation that I’d at least done one thing right in my life. Ironically, that thing I did right wasn't intentional--I probably just double-booked myself that night and didn't mean to introduce them, I remember being relieved when they got along--but some of the most important things in life aren't intentional. You don't try to love someone, not at first, at least.

I don't believe in fate, but I do believe in making the most of what happens to you, which my two friends did. Hopefully soon enough someone can feel like they've done one thing right in their life by introducing me to that thing for my career to take off or put me in the right place and the right time to make something of myself, or by introducing me to my own soulmate. Maybe it already happened.

You should all get married so a.m.k. can come to your weddings and get emotional.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The hunt for a good browser

AJ goes to the U of Ottawa in Centretown. He went to China this May and spent a lot of time thinking about browsers.

I've been fooling around these past couple of days with my computer, downloading and installing system utilities and web browsers, and I can't get over the fact that Facebook might be buying Opera. An Opera-Facebook merger would likely be the end of both Opera Software and the Opera desktop browser. Facebook is surely interested in Opera's market-leading mobile browser, not in its market-5th-place desktop browser.

I don't have a smartphone, and I use Opera's desktop browser, so I frantically spent a good part of last Tuesday looking for alternative browsers, should Opera go down. I learned that Webkit is actually an Apple thing, and not independent -- which maybe shouldn't have surprised me so much. Firefox is terrible now, but Pale Moon, which does more 64-bitoptimization than Waterfox, is actually pretty decent. I don't know where else to turn. There's no sense in using Safari for Windows, Chrome is good but Google is scary, and Maxthon just doesn't compare to Chrome.
Save Opera!

I started looking at the "Big 5" browsers by rendering engine:
- Internet Explorer uses Trident.
- Firefox uses Gecko.
- Opera uses Presto.
- Both Google Chrome and Safari use Webkit, which was developed by Apple.

Maxthon (not counted in the Big 5, but still great), uses both Trident and Webkit, as well as Google's V8 Javascript engine. This is the problem I have with Maxthon: it's one of the best alternative browsers -- maybe even 6th overall -- but it's built on borrowed technology. I might want to use Maxthon, but I'd just be better off with Chrome; Maxthon sometimes slips into "retro mode" and uses Trident, while Chrome always functions in the superior Webkit.

Now, among these 6, both Internet Explorer and Firefox are terrible browsers in my opinion. IE is IE, and it has been bad for many years now. I fear, in addition, that because of Firefox's massive community and large extension library, Mozilla has just gotten lazy and left the innovation to extension devs instead of building it into the browser. This is evidenced by Waterfox's latest changelog (at the time of writing):

"Page Source now has line numbers"? Really? That deserves to be up there? Keep in mind that this is not a minor update, but one moving up from Firefox 11.x to Firefox 12.

Furthermore, Mozilla is extremely dependent on Google for money. Before they renewed their contract with Google in November 2011, 90% of Mozilla's income was Google money, and now that Google has their own browser empire, they still don't seem to mind propping up the competition. But even with the new contract, Mozilla is essentially at Google's mercy.

Writing off Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Maxthon, I'm once again only left with Chrome. If I can't do Opera and don't trust Chrome, all that's left for 64-bit operating systems are the Firefox derivatives (Waterfox and Pale Moon). I used to wonder why I used so many browsers, but now, I can't get my hands on enough of them -- especially because stuff like intentional browser blocking means I need access to at least two browser families.

A necessary evil.
I don't feel like using Chrome derivatives, because unlike Firefox, regular Chrome is actually a good browser. As much as I like Opera, Chrome is, in my opinion, objectively the best browser on the market. I plan to download Chrome Canary once I get back to Canada, because downloading and installing it in China yields a Chinese version.

I'll thus have Opera, Opera Next, Pale Moon (x64), and Chrome Canary. That should be enough for now. But if Opera goes down through a hostile takeover by Facebook... *sigh*.

Update: A second look at the browser question

I am biased toward browsers that are updated frequently (at least once a week). This means mostly experimental builds (for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera), but Maxthon also releases the newest version (with minor version numbers and very few changes) about weekly, although it has no developer build. This preference is why I typically don't like browsers derived from others; these derivatives wait for the next major release of the browser before they are ever updated. Browsers that are updated at least once a week, though, contain minor fixes with each iteration, especially bug fixes, and so I don't have to wait months for bug and security updates to the browser I am using. I especially like nightly builds, where they are available. If I am going to use Chrome or Firefox, I will always download Chrome Canary (because Chromium doesn't autoupdate and each new version must be downloaded separately) and Firefox Nightly.

Furthermore, as added evidence of what I see as Firefox laziness, Nightly doesn't really autoupdate. It automatically checks for updates when you go to "About Nightly," then it takes a while to download the latest version, and then a button appears asking to restart Nightly in order to complete the update. You can imagine how my frustration increased having to always wait for the latest download to finish and then restart the browser (because I need the latest version, of course, or else the point of having Nightly becomes moot). I could have finished checking my e-mails and keeping up to date on blogs in that time (and even checking Facebook, if I wasn't in China). In addition, sometimes, the file is downloaded and the update fails, which means I have to go to the website to download the latest version. That was enough to make me turn away FF Nightly, which is a 32-bit browser and turn toward less-updated but 64-bit optimized browsers, namely Pale Moon and Waterfox.

Truly the sleepiest browser.
Thus, when I say that Firefox derivatives are worth using, especially in the case of 64-bit optimized builds, it's because regular Firefox has, in my opinion, indeed fallen that far. My experience with derivatives is limited to these 64-bit browsers, but I can assure you that they are great.

In addition to regular updates, I love a fast browser. I believe that extension installations slow a browser down, no matter how minimally, just as installing programs slows a computer down; I also am a believer that essential features should eventually be built into the browser. I tried running Nightly with some extensions, found that I didn't use them much, and uninstalled them. I don't really use condiments when I eat, and I don't use extensions when I browse, so the massive Firefox extension library doesn't really do anything for me.(Greasemonkey obsessives will probably be shaking their heads as I say this.)

A quick TLDR:
1. Apologies if I insulted your favourite browser.
2a. I am biased toward browsers that are frequently updated, as opposed to those which release once every month (or less).
2b. Among developer builds with multiple channels (i.e. Firefox and Chrome), I prefer nightlies. Frequent updates matter more than everything else.
3. Firefox, in my opinion, actually has derivatives worth using -- the two 64-bit optimized builds, Waterfox and Pale Moon, both do a good job of keeping up with the stable versions. Chrome, being a far superior browser, does not have useful derivatives.
4. I often use browsers without extensions, further removing any need for me to use Firefox.

Why not use Chrome? As far as I can tell, Chrome is objectively the best browser -- and this is coming from not just an Opera user, but a borderline Opera fanboy. However, there are still a couple of things I don't like about it:
- It's from Google. Call me paranoid, but I actually buy into some of the Google privacy rumours. In any case, it's better to be safe than sorry.
- Secondly, now that Chromebooks are out, it won't be long before Google Chrome is just optimized for Chromebooks. If I'm not on a Chromebook, do I really want a Chromebook browser?
- Thirdly, there's a pattern with big corporations -- say, Mozilla and Microsoft -- where each new browser brings very little in the way of new, innovative features. (I read a post recently on which announced the release of Chrome Beta 20, but noted that there were no new features in this beta. Aren't the developer builds the places where features are supposed to be tested, before they are implemented in the final build? At least Chrome's move from 19 to 20 in the stable channel will, as usual, be chock-full of bug fixes, security improvements, and performance enhancements.)

I think this is enough to justify why I'm sticking with Opera Stable, Opera Next, Pale Moon (currently at 12.1), and Google Chrome Canary -- though I anticipate that not everyone will agree with it. Considering my current love/hate relationship with Google Chrome, and that two of my four browsers are Opera, I hope it is clearer now why a Facebook buyout of Opera would worry me.

My advice to you "light surfers" is to think about why you use the browser you do, because there are alternatives out there. I've played with many of them. Off the top of my head, here are all the browsers you could technically be using:

- Internet Explorer
- Firefox (and its developer builds)
- Waterfox
- Pale Moon
Four essential browsers.
- Opera and Opera Next
- Google Chrome (and its developer builds)
- Comodo Dragon
- Rockmelt
- Sleipnir
- Lunascape
- Maxthon (a Chinese browser, and the vast majority of its extensions are Chinese)
- Safari
- Webkit (a browser that requires a Safari install as a prerequisite)
- Chromium
- Seamonkey
- Camino
- Konqueror
- Avant
- Flock (discontinued, but similar in purpose to Rockmelt as a social media browser)
- Cometbird (I think it's a browser?)
- K-Meleon
- SRWare Iron

The "Big 6" list I drew up before (counting Maxthon, because it's actually quite good) turned out to match the leaders in each rendering engine, at least without getting into KDE browsers. The other browsers were all interesting, but they didn't have as much to offer and didn't fill my constant need for browser updates.

AJ would walk long distances uphill for a comfortable user experience. He keeps a faith blog and a faith-keyboard tabs blog.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Why am I seeing so many girls naked?

Our favourite new show is making a.m.k. uncomfortable....

Brendan posted an article last month on his defense of the TV show Girls. I'll admit, I've watched most of the episodes, enough to form an opinion on a particular aspect of the show: nudity.

Does having that many nude scenes really need to happen? It's like having to watch an old, tired argument between the characters every week that never changes, you just have to watch them struggle thru it with no hope of resolution or even any new points being raised. I never thought I would be complaining about nudity in a show--I used to search for even brief tidbits of it as a young teen, sometimes even having to watch a 45 minute programme just to get a glance, but it seems like everyone in the cast is taking a turn getting naked for increasingly bizarre reasons. The cute one randomly meets some guy from camp on the street, they make a date within 15 seconds, he comes over and gets an erection and essentially asks for a handjob, a demand for a kiss, and all of a sudden they're on the poor girl's bed with her pants off. I get that it's trying to make us uncomfortable, but let's fast-forward just a little bit more to when the English one or whatever meets up with her ex-boyfriend that was just mentioned in passing before and all of a sudden she's getting fucked out of a window. Both of these scenes, although interesting by themselves, don't appear to have any foreseeable ties to the plot of the episode, and unless they're planning to do something super creative and unexpected in later episodes, I don't think that those two brief storylines are going to tie in any major way back to the main plot going forward.

Then, cut to an episode I haven't even watched yet, but my poor girlfriend told me about. Apparently, I can now go see the penis of the girl's dad, the one, that's right, who you see naked in every goddamn episode. She is, of course, the least attractive of the girls, and just happens to be the girl who writes, directs, produces, and created the show. Most people I know who aren't especially attractive wouldn't be looking for excuses to show their boobs in every fifth scene. What's with the bathtub at the beginning of the first episode? Was that a cheap ratings grab? If it was a cheap ratings grab, at least get it right--throw out the unattractive girl, get in the cute one or the one from the UK.

Of course, that's unjustly rude of me, because the truth is it's not like she's hideous or anything. She's just certainly not actress-pretty. And yes, I think it's a feminist statement by the creator as some kind of empowerment symbol or that she has some other wittier explanation that I don't really understand, and there is a lot to respect in that, honest there is--I'm not advocating against any of that, either. I am just saying that I think she is putting herself naked in the show so often at least partly because she likes that so many people are seeing her naked. I'm not sure if it's a fetish or if it's a statement because maybe she got picked on in school and kids called her ugly or fat or something, and again it's not because she's absolutely hideous or anything because I don't think she is, but maybe she was in high school or maybe kids were just cruel because, you know what, they are. And you know what, I'm not even saying it's a problem if it is either of those things. I love empowerment, and I love kids standing up to bullies, or at least symbolic ones. I just don't love seeing her naked every week.

It's actually one of the main reasons why I haven't watched the last few episodes. I'm sick of seeing you naked. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't think I should be seeing anyone who I don't know naked this much. I feel like I know you better than I really do, and then I feel used because it's probably some smart way to get better ratings that you came up with, because everyone knows that the audience identifying with characters is an important component of most successful shows and one of the reasons why the best show of all time, Arrested Development, tanked. I don't want to be used. I don't want to see you naked anymore.

Current background image
on Lena Dunham's Twitter
Also, that cute girl seems so innocent, and I realize that it's her character and she's probably just a good actress, but I've seen a lot of actresses who play the same role in every film, and, lo and behold, it's the exact same personality they seem to have in their every day life. She might be the exception to the rule and she might be wild and rowdy and have a sex scandal already, but she seems sweet to me. And you come up with the most unnecessary, awkward plot-line to get her naked with some old buddy that she "just so happened" to run into on the street. And then he comes close to verbally abusing her with his sexual aggression, which, granted, I know some people like it like that, but I'm also guessing that a lot don't, at least in that kind of situation, right? I mean, if it was me, and my old camp buddy started talking to me like that after not seeing him/her in maybe 7-10 years, I don't like I like being told that s/he "loves eating pussy" after awkwardly being awkwardly encouraged to touch my erection bulging in my track pants on a first date.

Anyway, if you want to exhibit your body to me every week I guess that's your choice, especially since I'm watching it of my own volition, but you don't need to drag other cast members into your strange ratings grab/feminist statement/other, more elaborate reasoning that I don't understand.

That is all.

The wireless signal at a.m.k.'s apartment is called "nevernude."

[Some images lifted from IndieWire.]

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

My mysterious charisma

a.m.k. is on an incredible eight-year winning streak.

I have had about a dozen jobs in my life thus far, ranging from five years long to just three weeks. I've worked at multiple grocery stores and coffee shops, a book store, in high tech, a consulting firm, and in a mall. What is mildly interesting is how I got those jobs, or rather, that I managed to get all those jobs. Somehow, I've gotten pretty much every job I have ever interviewed for.

"Well, a lot of people consider
me small and prestigious."
I am pretty socially awkward. Not quite as socially awkward as perhaps some others are who obsess about school as much as I did. Not quite as socially awkward as other people who were homeschooled as long as I was. But I am a bit socially awkward just the same. I am not someone who I would describe as 100% of people instantly liking at first impression. Part of it might be that I learned social interactions by watching daytime TV, Boy Meets World and Seinfeld, and I only ever practiced those interactions with other people who never left their houses and prayed the rosary at least once a day. And according to recent personality tests that I've taken (fun online ones, not at the Scientology centre on Rideau), I lean pretty heavily towards being an introvert--more than something like 95% of people. I am somewhere between a shut-in and that guy who eats ice cream alone (but never on Bank Street on Sunday--I'm no law-breaker).

Somehow, I've done extremely well for myself. I've managed to settle my social anxiety to a manageable level and to interact successfully with other people. My Interpersonal Relations professor mentioned something in lecture once that I found interesting: true introverts can get very good at faking being an extravert, because to succeed in this world, one almost always has to act extraverted. We live in an outgoing society where you have to be liked. And, as I must begrudgingly accept, I am not very likeable because I'd rather spend my evenings in a warm bath, drinking beer and watching hockey or sitcoms on my laptop. Alone. (Side note: don't worry, I put the laptop on the sink so there's no risk of me dropping it in the tub.)

How I once failed a job interview by lying about being nice

"Throw back a couple shots
of Hennigans and you'll be
as loose as a goose and ready
to roll in no time."
I have had a lot of different jobs, but I've only ever interviewed for one job that I didn't get in my life. That was when I was 15 years old, and it was for McDonald's. I made it to the second interview, and my friend Courtney who worked at another McDonald's prepped me for the types of questions that they'd be asking. I was ready to argue about the importance of serving customers -- even if the french fry timer had just gone off -- because the customer comes first. Instead they asked me about when I last helped people.

Helped people? Don't get me wrong, I was actually a very nice boy. (OK, so that was the age when I was around my peak of my Seinfeld-tinted asshole-ishness; I was still sort of figuring things out.) I even think I was nicer at heart then than I am now, but I definitely didn't show it because I was afraid to. I went to a terrifying grade school and high school where any male friendliness, like a chemical trigger, instantly made everyone around you utter homophobic slurs and throw a desk at you. The point is that I was nice on the inside but put on a huge fake show to try to be cool.

I could have listed some of the nice things I actually did do. I did and do nice things all the time, like volunteering and helping people with homework. But the thought about talking about this openly was so bizarre to me that nothing came to my mind. So, I began by talking about how I helped my co-worker at my other job, which was mistake number one, because McDonald's doesn't want to hire a fifteen year old with another job because they want me to be available to be called in any time. Then, drawing a blank, I made up this impromptu story about how I, yes, helped an old lady cross the street.

I remember actually believing that I had helped an old lady cross the street, and I actually might have at some point -- but there's no way that should have been my example. (I actually helped an old lady walk along an icy patch of sidewalk on Gladstone a couple months ago -- I swear to God. Would I cite that as an example if someone in an interview asked me to talk about how I helped someone recently? Absolutely not. Why? Because it sounds made up.)

"Remember, don't whistle
on the elevator."
Why I'm so successful at interviews now

I wasn't offered the job at McDonald's, but after the other 10-15 interviews I've done, I have been offered the job every single time. Which begs the question: am I really that charming?

I don't think I am. What I think the real problem is is that I have a horrible CV. My theory is, that if I get an interview based on my CV, I am pretty much guaranteed the job because if I wasn't stupidly qualified, I wouldn't even be getting the interview. I once sent out 200 CVs before getting one interview, and I certainly applied to many jobs I thought I was quite qualified for. I've reviewed my CV a million times and I have chunks of good stuff on there, but there must be something -- the layout, the font, the format, or maybe I don't sound like a real person -- that isn't what employers are looking for.

Maybe I'm also not giving myself enough credit. Maybe most people just have trouble answering questions about their past experience or promising they'll show up on time. When someone asks me to explain my experience with editing, I can talk about the editing work I've done over the past several years. Is it possible that other people aren't doing that? Or do I just seem really innocent and thus a good hire who isn't going to dick off and read hockey blogs at work?

"I want you to have this job.
Of course ..."
I'm not sure what makes me a good candidate for all these jobs, but for the most part, my employers are pretty happy with me afterwards -- I do good work and I work fast. But that doesn't explain how they would know that after talking with me for a bit, and why my success rate for interview to job conversion is a hair below 100%. Did Boy Meets World, Seinfeld and Days of Our Lives actually give me good life advice thru their bizarre conflicts and offensive/bad jokes? Or do I just have so much natural charisma that no amount of social awkwardness and homeschooling can stop my ability to show my stuff?

I don't think I am charismatic, and I do think that I've been qualified for all the jobs I've been offered. I just don't understand how I haven't interviewed yet for a job that I either haven't been the best candidate for or just didn't get for whatever other reason. Once a manager and coworker were talking about me finding another job because my contract was almost up, and one of them said all I would need is an interview than I would get any job. Did she know something I don't?

a.m.k. is an experienced writer and editor, and he recently charmed his way into a job editing scientific articles. Much of his editing for the Centretown Nonsense blog is done via text message.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Campaign to have a.m.k. institutionalized

Brendan has finally thought of a solution.

Hello friends and readers,

He's always talking to that
wooden doll in the centre.
I've been frustrated with my collaborator here lately, for failing to look at the Nonsense-blog drafts I send to him, letting my outdated Girls rant fester on the front page, three episodes after it was originally written. And as I sit here, on a.m.k.'s furniture, having been entrusted with a house key and an internet password while he's out camping all weekend, it becomes clearer in my mind that a.m.k. needs to be reformed.

I hope to be supported by his loved ones and any medical professionals reading this. It has become clear to me that a.m.k., as he chooses to call himself, is not fit, in his present state, for independent living. The best thing we can do to help him is to let him know that he has a choice, and that a stay at a mental incarceration facility might be needed to curb the criminal insanity from which he suffers.

Many of you will see this as an extreme suggestion or simply as a gesture of mockery, but I contend that you've chosen to overlook A's symptoms of madness in the hopes that his condition will "naturally improve over time." Here is a list of suspicious behaviours displayed by A in the past few weeks:

1. I think he took his laptop camping.

I haven't yet searched his home, but he definitely mentioned that he was going to take his laptop camping with him. I don't think he's even taking the power cables.

2. He made a "balls" joke the last time we played tennis.

No adult of sound mind would have made that joke.

Only a maniac would live like this.
3. He keeps his Ke$ha CDs in the jewel cases.

This is kind of a weird one, but when a.m.k. moved houses at the start of May, I ended up lifting shelves full of his CDs, all in the original cases. He might even have an external storage drive somewhere that he just doesn't use.

4. He listens to a children's radio station.

Other than right now, the last few times I've been over to his house, some combination of Our Lady Peace, Silversun Pickups, and Young the Giant have been playing out of his radio, loud enough for neighbours to hear. He has then instructed me to "make [myself] comfortable" as though nothing were out of order.

5. He throws garbage on his lawn.

Flowers, pizza boxes,
upholstered furniture ...
Walking out of his home the other day, a.m.k. took amusement in an orange-juice carton on his front lawn, declaring, "I wonder if that's mine," and mentioning that he'd left an empty orange juice container on his balcony. On inspecting the balcony today, I found multiple pizza boxes un-anchored and ready to be wind-blown into the street.

(I also keep pizza boxes on my own balcony, but the balcony at my apartment is indoors, so this arrangement is much safer.)

Please write to your city councillor requesting that a.m.k. be institutionalized, and if you see him yourself, please insist that he get to safety and get the help he needs before he can return to society. If you wish to share any firsthand stories of his unstable conduct, please send them in to

Brendan knows he's doing the right thing, but he can't help but fear that a.m.k. will be released into his custody.