Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Take your nomination form and...

It's the time of year when a young Carleton student's student council ambitions turn to nominations.

All over campus, these fresh faced and nerdy young go getters are pounding the pavement. They have to get a certain number of nominations to get their name on the ballot. I think. I haven't actually researched this, because I don't care about CUSA bureaucracy, not even enough to spend five seconds googling it.

But these kids care enough to want to involve themselves in it. And they either don't have enough friends to get the required number of nominations out of people they know, or the threshold is set pretty high. So they stand in the hallways and cafeteria lines, harassing strangers to sign their nomination form.

I have a great ready made excuse for not signing petitions or political forms of any kind. I'm a journalism student. Sorry, random student. What if I were called to report on some future CUSA scandal and needed to use you as a source? I can't affiliate myself with you, or anyone else, politically.

Usually this throws people off enough to give up. But not these people. "It's not an endorsement!" they persist. "It's just a nomination. All you're doing is giving me a chance to run."

See, here's the thing though. Let's imagine that the KKK decides it's going to run a slate in the CUSA elections. One of their representatives taps you on the shoulder while you're waiting in line for a bagel. He asks you to sign his nomination form - after all, it's not an endorsement, and why would you stand in anyone's way who wants to participate in the democratic process?

For all I know, these people could be members of the KKK. They could be planning to run on a platform of requiring all students to pledge allegiance to Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il every morning. They could be planning to ban student groups whose views and activities they don't like - which actually happened at York, with some pro-life groups.

Do I support these fictional people's right to run in a student election? Of course. Do I want to put my signature down nominating them? Hell no.

You can tell me it's not an endorsement until you're blue in the face. Even if I wasn't on a strict non-political journalist's diet, I still wouldn't help anyone out with my signature who isn't prepared to give me some vague idea of what they're going to use it for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


A young woman chewed gum and stared into space as a burly man in leather tied her up with white nylon rope.

About ten people watched listlessly as he tied a series of increasingly elaborate knots. Eventually he pulled the rope attached to a wooden frame and hoisted her off the ground. Her long, dark brown hair swung downwards. A half-hearted smile briefly interrupted her gum chewing.

The crowd dispersed. There was no applause.

“You can be next!” announced another, older burly man in leather. In response, he got more blank stares. The crowd shuffled over to inspect a table of whips and riding crops.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Sexapalooza Ottawa, a trade show for people who make a living convincing people to spend money on one of the only things in life that’s free. The spectacle you just witnessed took place in “the dungeon,” a red polyester tent so kinky and incriminating that two sandwich boards and an inflatable devil warn you in both official languages that there are to be Absolutely No Pictures. Who knows whose delicate sensibilities might be offended had images of that fully clothed brunette ended up on Facebook.

To be fair, it was 4 p.m. in Ottawa’s decaying Lansdowne Park, which isn’t normally the time and place for getting loose and crazy. Still, these people shelled out 20 bucks for the privilege of perusing the highest concentration of dildos per square foot in the city. You’d think someone could have mustered a “Take your top off!”

Alas, the only person who seemed interested in anyone taking his or her top off was the event’s M.C. A blonde woman dressed in a military uniform, she took to the microphone throughout the night to assure the crowd the only reason we weren’t all having a wild orgy right now was city regulations.

“It’s getting hot in here,” she whooped. “Maybe everybody should just take off all their clothes! Nope, sorry, regulations won’t let us do that.”

She was similarly reassuring as the crowd watched a half-asleep stripper called Misha Manx reveal nipples covered with black electrical tape. “Regulations don’t permit it here,” she apologized, “but come on down to the Playmate club!”

But no one looked like they were in the mood to stick dollar bills in ol’ Misha’s g-string. The yuppie-looking couples tended to keep their arms wrapped tightly around each other, as if to dispel any suspicion they might be there for reasons other than improving their healthy, heterosexual, monogamous sex lives. Women in their 20s stuck together in groups, making sure to giggle frequently so no one would think they were actually interested in pubic shavers or strap-on harnesses. And lone middle aged men kept their ball caps firmly over their eyes as they inspected porn DVDs with titles like Big Black Titties.

In fact, one of the few people who seemed to be enjoying himself was a man on stilts who kept flashing a pair of rubber boobs at anyone who looked his way. “Woo!” he yelled as he opened his vest for the hundredth time.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

The 2000s: They weren't all bad.

Every end of decade list I've seen has concluded the previous decade sucked pretty bad. Time Magazine even called it the worst decade ever. This seems a bit much (Great Depression? WWII?), but there were some undeniably crappy things that happened over the last ten years.

However, I refuse to let the decade of my young adulthood go down in history as one long, violent, bad weather suckfest. There were at least a few things that were OK about the 2000s, right?

This is my short but sweet best of the 2000s better-late-than-never New Year's list.

5) Flat shoes. I can't remember exactly when flats came in style, but they've definitely been around for most of the decade. I feel as though the fact that it's stylish and socially acceptable for women to wear flats to all but the most formal occasions has made the lives of half the human race a lot more bearable over the last ten years. Throw yoga pants in there too. Basically, every time you feel like whining about the last decade, just think to yourself, "at least I don't have to wear foundation garments."

4) Cats on the internet. This item was brought to you by Kate Harper. For some reason, cats and the internet go together like, well, cats in sinks. And cats in things they're not supposed to be in. And pictures of cats and hilarious text captions.

3) Social media in general. C'mon... #iranelection? Social media is often dumb and over-hyped, but occasionally incredible.

2) TV. It may not have been an epic decade for music or other mass pop culture. But I am going to go out on a limb and call this a truly great decade for TV. The Wire, Mad Men, most of Buffy, Battlestar... smart, engaging, intellectual stuff. TV on DVD really freed up the medium to do long form story telling.

1) Barack Obama getting elected. Whatever you think of the man, I definitely felt like I was part of one of those generation defining moments when I watched that election.

Flimsy? Maybe. Does this list make up for all the bad stuff that happened? Nope. But I was lucky, and I had a pretty good decade. I'm not quite ready to throw it into Ms. Dion's "trash can of history."