You thought wrong

From the J&W archives, because I just Googled “fall cleaning” and it led back to my own website. HA HA HA HA HA.

If you’re on the internet as much as I am, you’ve doubtless encountered websites with end-of-article features like this:

This one is by Outbrain, which bills itself as “the leading content discovery solution.”  I used to do PR for technology clients, so let me apologize — once again — for ever having used language like that.

I thought about doing a HuffPo Spoilers-style post where I would, in their words, “give in to (the) click-bait so you don’t have to,” but I really don’t want to give in to the click-bait.  Instead, in the spirit of “how to dress for your shape,” I’m just going to go ahead and guess what these Teasy Teasersons — found on — might be all about:

10 Things Your Kid Should NOT Be for Halloween
1 through 9: Adolf Hitler.
10: Sexy nurse.

5 Fall Green Cleaning Tips
Oh, I am sorry, but are we cleaning TWICE a year now?  That is OPPRESSIVE.  And we’re supposed to be environmentally sensitive all at the same time?  What load of PATRIARCHAL BULLSHINE.

HowStuffWorks “Costumes 101 Pictures”
Ha ha ha … what?

How to Pick a Paint Color
Do you like it? YES / NO
If YES, pick it.

10 Hairstyles That Make You Look Thinner
1. Inflatable dreads.
2. The Skunk (black on sides, white up the middle).
3. Over-sized sombrero.
4. Over-sized sombrero that is made out of corn (optional: cheese dip in crown).
5. The van Goghtee.
6. Beehive (made with actual bees; everyone is thinner when viewed at a distance).
7. Pigtails (made with actual pigs).
8. The Tennessee Wall.
9. Asymmetrical blob.
10. Pielights.

Ultimate Guide to Recycled Milk Jug Crafts
You guys, do NOT read this article.  They ask you for your mailing address and two weeks later they mail you eight mimeographed pages of bedazzled bird feeders.

Ultimate Guide to Green Building
I asked my three-year-old what this might be about.   He said, “you do a Lego but you only use the green ones.”  Yeah, that sounds about right.

Painting Siding
This looks complicated.  I think I’m just going to hang up another bird feeder and play with Lego instead.

5 Tips for Cleaning Glass Without Streaks
Pretty sure this list consists of vinegar, vinegar, vinegar, vinegar, newspapers.

The play’s the thing

I don’t imagine that if one were to create a Venn diagram to illustrate this post, that the intersection between People Who Closely Follow Canadian Federal Politics and People Who Enjoy Amateur Theatre would serve up much more than a hair’s breadth of overlap. But surely there are a couple of people who can lay claim to both. So, Rodney MacDonald of Inverness and Katherine Sousa of Strathcona, this one’s for you.

There has been much debate about the level of civility and accountability in the Canadian House of Parliament. Some are suggesting that the solution lies in giving the Speaker of the House greater powers, others feel such a move “goes too far.”

But two things caught my ear during debate earlier today, and they pointed at the same thing.

First, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, referred to the performance of some MPs as “bad high school theatre.” Not long after, MP Scott Simms (Liberal) described Question Period as “expensive dinner theatre … and not necessarily good theatre, either.”

My first impulse, after banging on my invisible desk (aka: my lap) and spilling my non-invisible beverage (aka: my coffee) was to wonder what kind of actual theatre one might be able to get away with in the House.

There are the Aristotelian standards: tragedy, comedy, melodrama, drama. I think those are fair game and already well represented, though perhaps unintentionally (comedy, I’m looking at you).

Then there are different theatrical styles, everything from classical (Shakespeare’s Hamlet) to postmodern (Müller’s Hamletmachine).  Theatre of the Absurd. So many options to choose from!

But I am limited by time (have to pick up my kid) and space (see earlier reference to lap desk) so I have decided to limit my suggested lineup to these three stagings:

Tony and Tina’s Wedding (dinner theatre)
A “festive celebration,” this show dispenses with the public gallery, and invites visiting groups to join in on the fun. Raise a toast to democracy! Amuse your bouche with Parliamentary procedure! Main course: Pizza. Don’t ask.

Phantom of the Opera (musical)
The spirit of accountability returns to haunt Members. Featuring the popular songs, “All I Ask Of You,” “Why So Silent?” and “Notes.”

Death of a Salesman (tragedy)
An older man struggles to accept that his services are no longer needed. Will his children face a brighter future, thanks to his sacrifice? (Spoiler: No.)

And … scene.

The what in the whatnow?

“We’re off the the Jungle of Flim-Flam-Fla-roo
To visit a beetle who lives in some poo!”

— P, imagining, or possibly just reciting from, an episode of TV’s
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

Voiced by Martin Short, the television version of The Cat in the Hat possesses all the calm and equanimity you might expect from a coked-up fabulist who likes to kidnap children and take them on “adventures.”  Okay, kidnap is too strong a word.  He first assures the kids that their parents “won’t mind at all” if they disappear together.  So that makes it … less creepy, I guess?

Whatever.  It’s on TV, so we watch it.

The other night, Seve and I were joking around and we started to come up with alternative combinations of cat and clothing (or rather, I did, because after the third or fourth one, he was laughing to the point of breathless hiccups).  For example:

  • The Cat in the Socks Knows a Lot About Blocks
  • The Cat in the Shirt Knows a Lot About Dirt
  • The Cat in the Shorts Knows a Lot About Forts
  • The Cat in the Mittens Knows a Lot About Kittens

And of course, les pièces de résistance:

  • The Cat in the Boots Knows a Lot About Toots
  • The Cat in the Shoes Knows a Lot About Poos

So by this time, I figured the rhythm and pattern had been well-established, and I asked Seve to come up with a rhyme of his own.  Here’s his contribution:

  • The Cat in the Underwear Knows a Lot About Airports

We’ll keep working on it, kiddo.

P.S.  At first I was regretful, then grateful, not to have gone with “The Cat in the Scarf,” because of course the only acceptable conclusion, if you’re a four-year-old, is “barf,” which is most certainly what I’d have been cleaning up if I’d make him laugh any harder.

How I survived my photo-a-day project

I like to imagine — usually when I’m in the shower, accepting my Nobel Prize for literature — that I was the inspiration behind Oxford’s word of the year.

After all, I’m just a few days away from (successfully!) wrapping up my first-ever 365 project, which involved taking a self-portrait a day, every day this year.  And because I’m more likely to win a Nobel Prize for narcissism, I ended up using these self-portraits to switch up my Facebook profile pic every day, too.

In the last week, a few different people have asked if I’m going to continue the project (answer: TBD) and some have asked for advice on doing a similar challenge of their own.

I don’t really have a lot of advice to give.  I mean, you take a picture of yourself every day for a year: BOOM, you’re done.  But in case any of this might actually be useful, here are a few tips:

1. You’re more than just a pretty face
When taking the photos, I tried to include my face as much as possible.  If any governmental authority was snooping, all I can say is HA HA HA HA HA (also: sorry I melted your server).  That said, there were some days when other body parts — or even shadows — served instead:


2. The mirror is your friend
Nah, I don’t mean making sure that you don’t have kale stuck between your teeth, although there’s an easy fix for that: quit eating like a hipster pony.  When you have to take this many photos, you’re going to need to mix it up occasionally and reflective surfaces (not just mirrors) can be a big help:


3. Best supporting actors
Got cute kids?  Conscript them.  Got cute pets?  Well, they’re probably not as cute as you think they are, but sure, add them in, too.  Spouses, friends, friendly mail carriers … all good.  Just be sure that you properly calibrate the required level of cute before committing to a photo (ie: if you’re looking wretch, you’ll want attractive distractions; if you’re looking great, try fugly friends for contrast).  Some ideas to get you started:


4. Hats help
I’m not really a hat person.  I am however, a person who sufferers from random bouts of hat hair (even when I don’t wear a hat, in which case I do wear a hat).


5. Be your damn self
I’m pretty funny in real life.  I’ve never won an award for it or anything, so it’s entirely possibly I’m funnier online (I did win an award for that).  Not surprisingly, except for a few really genuinely pretty photos, the funny ones were the ones that people liked best.  Here are a few of my favourites:


You may have noticed some crossover between categories: shadows that are also reflections, hats that are also funny.  Congratulations, you have unlocked Level 10 of Observant Pedantry.  This project is perfect for you … trust me.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.