In a struggle to be happy and free

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Category: the sexes Page 1 of 4

Aren’t we past this?

I saw this ad in the Home Hardware flyer yesterday. My first thought was “Aren’t we past this?” and I then felt a bit of sympathy for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

My first thought was because of the antiquated Western stereotype that everything pink is for girls, and that girls like everything pink. We are past this and manufacturers and marketers who play it up are more likely to cause outrage than make a sale.  Even worse is the suggestion that woman can’t simply use an item … they need a special version, which invariably is exactly the same except for the colour. Just ask Bic about their For Her line of pens.

I’m insulted, and I’m a guy!

This whole pink thing brings me to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. They’ve created an immediately recognizable brand with their pink ribbons. My sympathy comes from the fact that it’s somewhat limited. If a toolbox manufacturer wanted to increase sales and do some good by getting together with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation by giving part of the sales of a line of toolboxes, how would they advertise it? They could slap a sticker of a pink ribbon on the toolbox. That’s what they should do, but it’s not very visible. So to gain that visibility, they make the toolbox itself pink. It’s far more visible, but it’s also patronizing, and I have no doubt that it also limits sales.

I just hope the idea for this came from the toolbox manufacturer rather than from Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I can understand why a company that makes toolboxes is completely clueless about marketing products to women, but I’d be surprised to learn that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is similarly clueless. In fact, I would hope that the Foundation did their best to dissuade the manufacturers from going out of their way to piss-off potential customers, and because the Foundation would not want to be targeted by any of the bad feelings the product causes.

But what do I know? I’m not the target demographic for the god-awful toolbox.

Oktoberfest vignette

Saturday evening, I attended the Barrhaven Oktoberfest celebration. Grant suggested we go and he bought 2‑for‑1 tickets in advance. Right from the start, it was good!

While I haven’t been to many Oktoberfest parties, I have to imagine it had all the important components. There was beer, food, live music, and lots of people. What more do you want?! What made it more interesting to me is that Strongbow was one of the sponsors so there was also cider. I’m not a big beer-drinker so this was a far more interesting option for me.

20121001_poker-chipsWe found that the alcohol was not directly sold for money. Rather, each beer, cider, or glass of wine was available in exchange for a token, and the tokens cost $5 each, or 4 for $20. Yes, I know that’s still $5 each, but those were the two options listed on the sign. Putting the illogic aside, I bought four tokens and started in on a Strongbow.

A few days before, I’d heard an interview on CBC Radio One with a man from Spud’s Potato Bar and Poutinerie. Since they were one of the food vendors, they created an Oktoberfest-themed poutine. I’m not sure what, if anything, it had to do with Oktoberfest besides the mini-bratwurst placed on top, but I still liked it a great deal. I hadn’t eaten dinner in preparation for the poutine, so I enjoyed every bit of it.

I didn’t plan to drink a lot, but I enjoyed my cider-induced happiness. We walked around, ate, talked, people-watched, and drank. It was a fun evening. We joked about the approach of old age because by about 10:30, we were cold, tired, and ready to go.

I had one token left and Lori took Rustin’s last token and gave it to Grant. She said that we should find some women to give them to on our way out. I was already thinking the same thought. The token wasn’t worth keeping, and if I was going to give it to someone, it would be a woman. No rocket science there.

My choice didn’t take nearly as long as I let on, because Rustin was increasingly cold and his crotchetiness was entertaining!

Earlier in the evening, I noticed two women walk by. One stood out because she had a classic look about her. She wore tall boots, dark cotton pants, a light-coloured wool coat, and a knitted hat. Her attire was a far cry from the typical attire. I was also envious because she had the foresight to wear gloves. Nothing bulky, but rather just enough to keep warm with a cold drink in your hand, and my drink-hand was cold. Her friend wasn’t as much an immediate stand-out, but she looked good all the same. She had a very nice black jacket that Lori told me was a very fashionable brand … that I can’t remember, of course. While I don’t know if her jeans were of a similarly fashionable brand, I had no trouble recognizing that her figure did very nice things to them.

I asked Grant for his token, got up, and approached the two women. I held the tokens between my thumb and forefinger, and slid them apart, making it clear that I was holding two. I held them in front of me as I approached from the side, letting the tokens introduce me. They looked at the tokens, and then at me. I said, “we’ve got to go, so.…” They smiled, and plucked the tokens from my hand. The woman wearing the wool coat said, “You are a handsome man. A very, very handsome man,” and it was my turn to smile. I tipped my head with a slight nod and withdrew, still smiling.

It was a lovely ending to an enjoyable evening.

Token graphic © 2012 Oktoberfest Ottawa.

Judge the cover?

Diana Krall’s new album, Glad Rag Doll, will be available for purchase October 2. I’m looking forward to hearing it, but I’m not as full of anticipation as I might be if she were more serious about the jazz in her jazz. Much of her recent music feels disappointingly like easy listening.

At this time however, it’s not her music that has set the tongues wagging. No, it’s the album cover:


I read about the kerfuffle in the article, “Is Diana Krall’s new album cover too sexy? Too sexist? NSFW?” by Peter Hum in Jazzblog. The article did include a small image of the cover, but based on the comments he saw, I thought that there must be more to the story than the image in the article.

It turns out there’s not. I don’t understand why there’s any comment beyond, “Diana’s looking good!”

Let me explain my reasoning.

The post on Krall’s site unveiling the cover, “ ‘Glad Rag Doll’ Cover Revealed,” explains that many of the songs on the album were written and first performed in the 1920s and 1930s. Regarding the photo itself, the post says,

Diana Krall has collaborated with Academy Award winning costume designer, Colleen Atwood and acclaimed photographer, Mark Seliger to create a series of beautiful and striking images for Krall’s new album, “Glad Rag Doll.” They are inspired by Alfred Cheney Johnston’s pictures of the girls of the Ziegfeld Follies taken during the 1920s.

Said Krall, “If there was an era to which I could choose to go back in time, it would be the 1920s, just because of the whole wildness of it all.”

So the image does fit with the music. It’s not the “visual non-sequitur” some have claimed. But certainly there other less risqué fashion choices available from the 1920s and 1930s, so why choose this one? That I don’t know.

I think it’s unlikely that she posed for the cover in those clothes against her will. She’s not 17 years old, putting out her first album. She’s been around the block a few times and has a career that affords her many freedoms, which I suspect includes approving the cover art, especially if she’s a part of it. With this in mind, it offends me when I read comments like this one, posted on her Facebook page:

She’s so talented but evidently not confident. Dressing like this makes me feel less respect for her. Sets a bad example for female artists — they already have enough bad examples from people who are clawing their way in. She’s already successful. Why, oh why Diana?

Why is making her own choices a bad example? I thought that’s exactly what equal rights for women was about. You respect her less because her choice is not what you’d choose in the same situation? That’s your problem, not hers. I think she’ll somehow manage to get over your disapproval. Despite her garb revealing a heck of a lot less than a bathing suit would, I think it takes more than a bit of confidence to be photographed that way knowing millions of people will see it, when your claim to fame isn’t your appearance. Is it so impossible that she woke up on her last birthday and said to herself, “Damn, I look good. I should get some photos taken…” and it led indirectly to this album cover? Ask me and I’ll tell you that she looks remarkable for someone who’s seen 47 years pass.

I believe those so vocal about thinking less of Krall because of her album art are revealing more about themselves than they realize.

Religion and the Internet

The New York Times published an article titled, “Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet” yesterday. I found it interesting for all kinds of reasons. More than 40 000 ultra-orthodox Jewish men filled Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, to hear, as the article explained,

about a moral topic considered gravely important in their community: the potential problems that can stem from access to pornography and other explicit content on the uncensored, often incendiary Web.

I particularly liked that the event was more a coming together to discuss how to protect themselves from the problems the Internet might bring than their simply being rounded up to hear edicts from their betters.

Another aspect that I, as a non-Jew, appreciate is they came together to discuss solutions for themselves. The article gave no indication that they wanted to save all of us by imposing their restrictions on us, as I can imagine would have been the case had this been a gathering of strident Christians or Muslims.

I was surprised by a quote from 24 year-old Shlomo Cohen of Toronto. He said,

Desires are out there. We have to learn how to control ourselves.

Self-control is certainly the answer, but desires are not ‘out there.’ Desires, both good and bad, are within all of us. The things we want are out there but to externalize the danger is to make it much harder to control. If the desire is not within ourselves, then neither is the fault, should we fail to exercise self-control.

This is but one of the reasons I disagree with how religion vilifies even thinking about things it labels as inappropriate. Even among the ten commandments, Christians are told not to covet anything your neighbour has. It’s certainly not a good idea to fixate on your neighbour’s possessions, or his wife, but I can’t imagine that anyone hasn’t violated this rule in a passing thought. It’s natural and it happens with no ill effect. The only time it goes wrong is when the thinker allows those thoughts to become action.

Hold me responsible for my actions and leave me alone with my thoughts.

I initially questioned the need to set up external barriers to the parts of the Internet that the Jews revile. If they revile them, why would they allow themselves to go there at all? I still question this to a degree but I suspect that at least part of the reasoning involves knowing one’s own limitations.

An example I can give has to do with birthdays. I have a terrible memory for them and with few exceptions, I would forget most people’s birthdays if I relied only on my memory. Does this mean I love the people in my life any less? Indeed, even to this day, I can’t remember the exact day my parents were born. I know the months, and that my mom’s is very early in the month of her birth, but nothing more. I sure as heck do love my parents! I know my weakness so I take an action to make up for my deficit in this area. I have all the birthdays listed in iCal with alarms to remind me in advance. Is this cheating? I’d argue that it is not.

The situation isn’t so black and white with using Internet blocking software to keep themselves away from temptation, but at its core, I believe it’s a matter of knowing one’s own limitations so I understand it. I also respect it because it requires a degree of self-knowledge.

What I don’t respect is taking this too far. Take the ultra-Orthodox practice of separating the sexes when possible. There were 40 000 men at Citi Field. Women could watch from ‘viewing parties’ set up in their neighbourhoods. And of course, watching is not participating.

I found it an interesting article with another example of modern technology causing trouble for beliefs founded long ago.

via Slashdot


The toolbox is where truth and contentment lie, and mending is therapy for men.

James May
Cheesy sauce and carburettors
The Telegraph
Aug 12, 2011

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