Thursday, 11 February 2016

Ottawa Citizen purges staff, eats its own tail

This song is dedicated to the men and women at the Ottawa Citizen, many of whom are my former colleagues, bosses and partners in crime who lost their jobs to the Post-Media implosion.

RIP Daily Journalism in Ottawa

According to Warren Kinsella, the following people with packaged, some willingly, some against their will.

The Ottawa Citizen died yesterday.
Oh, sure, there are still some good people there to put it out, for however long.  But make no mistake: the marquee newspaper in our nation’s capital – the equivalent of our Washington Post – is dead.
Late yesterday, we got word that the following folks (and more) had taken a buyout, and/or were pushed out by the guild of vampires who are Postmedia:
  • Peter Robb: editor, arts, sports
  • Mark Kennedy: Parliamentary bureau chief, National Newspaper Award winner
  • Rob Bostelaar: longtime reporter and editor (and who edited my stuff, full disclosure)
  • Karen Turner: longtime reporter, editor
  • Glen McGregor: national affairs reporter, Michener Award winner
  • Anita Murray: homes editor
  • Robert Sibley: senior writer, author
  • Carl Neustadter: managing editor
  • Andrew Potter: editor in chief
  • Joanne Chianello: city affairs columnist
  • Peter Simpson: arts editor (and another one of my former editors)
  • Hugh Adami: columnist, longtime reporter
  • Chris Cobb: senior writer
  • Drew Gragg: deputy editor
  • Stephanie Murphy: editor
- See more at:

Fembots for Hillary Clinton

A few fembots in America have their knickers in a twist over the fact that most young women would rather vote for Larry David than Hillary Clinton.

They believe that young women are setting back the feminist cause because they don't seem to care about the historic fact that Hillary could become the first female U.S. president. I call her Hillary, by the way, not to confuse her with her multicultural husband, Bill (Roman hands and Russian fingers) who used to be president but now hovers behind his wife in the background, looking more and more like the old stand-up comic, the guy you remember who always had the corny jokes and played Sullivan. Now he's opening for Louis C.K.

The old fembots -- you know who they are, one looks like your grandma, the other looks like she's grandpa's mistress -- are saying that women are flocking to Larry David, I mean, Bernie Sanders, because that's where all the hot guys are working. That may be true. Guys are genetically engineered to go where the winners are.

In any case, Hillary is sliding into her usual abyss while the rest of the left-leaning folks are "feeling the Bern." Oooh, now that does sound hot.

Somebody, I forget who, yesterday said that young women don't understand the struggle to the top. They weren't around during Roe vs Wade, so they lack the perspective from the trenches. God help me, it sounds like the fembots have become old veterans sitting around the tavern talking about getting trench mouth.

Speaking for myself, and myself only, all I can say is that I remember Roe vs Wade. I also remember Margaret Thatcher who was famously Prime Minister of Britain and galpal to Ronnie and Nancy. Thatcher proved that snatching victory from the jaws of defeat means using every ruthless tactic possible to meet her ends. Just because she wore granny panties and 18-hours didn't mean she had a heart.

Now Hillary is no Margaret Thatcher, nor is she Angela Merkel. Hillary is a pawn of the establishment who kept two sets of books during her time as Secretary of State. She is a rich and privileged white woman who wouldn't know a food stamp if she found it stuck to her ass. Of course, of course, she understands the plight of Latino and African-American women in principal but she never had to turn to the kids and say, "Look honey, Dad is gone, but I got you a lovely pet...this cockroach."

The only thing Hillary Clinton has in common with a black woman is a $500 bill at the hairdresser.

Now, Bernie, he isn't a woman, either. And maybe he's not a feminist, but he is a humanist, and that's why young women like him. He doesn't see race, he doesn't see color, he doesn't see gender.

Bernie believes everybody should have a right to social services and an education, not just to some weird state sanctioned medicare which requires a person to have a PIN number and an email address. To Bernie, medicare is NOT just a website, it is a right.

The thing is, as women, we're far too intelligent to fall for the Hillary schtick. We saw what happened with the buying of a black president by the Oprah Winfrey glitterati. "You get a black president, you get a black president, you get a black president! Sorry, I forgot to mention there's a heavy debt to be paid to the IRS for winning that lottery!"

Obama was a big fat zero, as far as a lot of people were concerned. He has a chip on his shoulder. As my mother used to say,"He thinks he's Barack Obama."

He doesn't play well with others. He's a big cranky pants. He doesn't see his own reflection in the mirror.

Just because he's black doesn't mean he's made a better or worse president. Color, gender, sexual orientation -- all the food groups -- have absolutely no influence on a person's ability to be president of the U.S., of Chrysler or of Yahoo! That's right, I said it.

Hillary is Bill Clinton without the charisma and with all the baggage. Sanders, like our own Justin Trudeau comes to the show beholden to no one: no obscenely funded political action committees and interest groups, no corporations, nobody. (American friends, Justin Trudeau fired all the old gang, including his own Senators! Now instead of eating in the hallowed halls of power, they're in the cafeteria comparing blood glucose levels.)

Justin is free to be, like you and me. And that's why people like him, here.

He is toxin-free.

Women like Bernie because he's NOT Hillary Clinton. They like him because he's not part of some sort of privileged system that believes that power belongs in a family pact. Clinton. Bush. Clinton. Bush. Refresh. Whitewash. Repeat.

Politics -- even in our own country -- has become like network television, with spinoff after spinoff, one Kardashian reality show after another. The spoils to Ryan Seacrest.

Surely, more than two or three families have offspring who are qualified to run the nation.

And here's another thing that smart people know. It's not the Big Giant Head of Hair that counts.

It's the people who lacquer that head who run things. Back to my television analogy, the person who is in charge is Tina Fey, not Tracey Morgan.

Hillary had more influence as Secretary of State than she ever will have as president especially with Bill around. Just because you have a new bandleader doesn't mean the band has changed.

If Bernie does get elected, God Bless America, I'm confident he will fill up his Cabinet with a mix of talent from all areas of society, and from all genders. He's a class act, not just class president. He has excellent values, not just an excellent portfolio.

So fembots, get over yourselves.

This is 2016, for Christ's sake.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

I'm a Little Pee Pot

I saw something on the Ottawa news yesterday, something that blew me away.

There is an Ottawa clinic that is now offering something called FemiLift, and it's basically a vaginal lift that uses a laser to address three areas of concern for women: vaginal laxity (which occurs after childbirth), stress-induced urinary incontinence and dryness.

That's according to Dr. Sharyn Laughlin, a dermatologist who works for Laserderm. It's also believed to increase sensation, she says, though that is not the main reason for its use.

This could be the magic bullet for a lot of women who pee themselves when they bounce, laugh or even walk. During my worst years, through perimenopause, I used to have to wear a pad the size of a bicycle seat just to walk down the street. When I went to the doctor, I was told to do those useless Kegel exercises which basically have you holding your pee while on the toilet.

That never worked for me. I tried everything short of sewing myself up like a trussed chicken. I even got Scott to make me a set of homemade weights that comprised a clean Kinder chocolate egg, pennies and fishing wire, all wrapped in a condom.

Even that didn't work. I just felt silly. And I didn't realize it, but safes aren't cheap!

So this procedure, which involves laser tightening of the vag area, is a dream come true for me. And I know I'm not alone.

There are 3.5 million people, by conservative estimates, that live with urinary incontinence alone in Canada. According to Jacqueline Cahill, Executive Director of  the Canadian Continence Foundation, people with incontinence face embarrassment and social stigma, negatively impacting their quality of life and potentially leading to depression and feelings of isolation. 

It's most common in women over 50 years of age, but it can also affect younger people, especially women who have just given birth.

Yah think? Poise is making a killing selling disposable underwears to women who should still be able to rock a thong.

Ah but here's the rub.

The procedure that's being offered will cost $5,000 Canadian (50 cents US) a little less than half what it's going to cost me to get my boob job. My boob job will take four hours, not counting recovery, requires a plastic surgeon, a fully serviced operating room, an anesthetist and so on and so on. This procedure is done by a registered nurse and takes 10 minutes, three or four times.

Seems a bit steep, don't you think?

It made me think.

This procedure is considered cosmetic in nature. You get it done where you get your eyelift and wrinkle cream. But in my mind, it is something that could impact the very lives of women who are suffering, often in silence.

They can't play tennis, or wear certain colors. They smell bad if they don't wear unsightly scented pads. They even have to avoid beer pong.

Thus, incontinence is a disability, just as it is a disability for someone to have an over-sized pair of hooters.

Unless I'm missing something.

If this procedure works, shouldn't it be made available for all women in Ontario as part of our universal medical insurance program? It would definitely be less costly than any kind of surgical procedure. And it would save me a fortune on imported chocolate products.

Alas, like dental surgery and high grade pharmaceuticals, vag tightening is out of reach for those of us who can't afford high end automobiles and vacations in Maui.

It's only available to  those with gold-plated vaginas.

This seems very unfair, so unBernie-like, so unJustin. Women everywhere should be guaranteed working vaginas.

I'm sure if a simple procedure like this one cured erectile dysfunction, or penis drip, it would be put on the books as fast as you can say I'm a little Pee Pot.

More the pee-soaked pity.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Jian Ghomeshi: Pee Wee's Playhouse

And now back to the weird and wacky heads of Jian Ghomeshi.

All I can say is, I'm glad I stopped dating before sexting became a thing. I was never good at it, the sexting thing. It always seemed silly to me. Ditto for dating websites that sound like Pit Bull videos.

I was once a woman not unlike the ones who are taking the stand in the Ghomeshi trial. I was fairly successful at hooking up in younger years, and I met a few Ghomeshis. I encountered one or two who liked rough sex, playful rough sex, but I certainly never dated somebody who would punch me in the face. Truth be told, I was usually the one doing the punching if things got out of hand.

I grew up with brothers who regularly beat the crap out of me, and I soon learned how to give it back. Really, I wish all women would learn defensive dating. It would save them a lot of grief.

I can also relate to the letters, and emails. My early years were spent covering rock bands, and I fell for a couple of harp players in my day and I'd follow them around like a puppy even after they tossed me over for a bottle of Jack. As Penny Lane so famously reminded us in Almost Famous, star fucking is an art, but even the masters get their hearts broken.

I'm not curious about why the women wrote those emails. They quite rightly felt, and were, not only rejected, but physically and psychologically abused. They were simply following up, to make sure it was him, not them which it certainly was.

Jian is one sick little puppy, but as we've learned during this trial he's a smart one, an ass-covering one who probably kept his first sicko Valentine from primary school. Now, all that fan mail is being used against the women who considered their actions normal. What girl hasn't sexted a bad boy after he dumped her? Happens all, all, the time.

I'm sure none of these women expected to see their love letters appear in court, up on the screen. I'm sure they might have thought twice if they knew they'd be laughed at in court, and needled by Ghomeshi's hench.

A lot of people, though, have been wondering why Ghomeshi kept emails that are over 13 years old.  At first, I considered that he might have kept them, as evidence just in case someone reported him for his sicko past time. Apparently, psychopaths learn quickly to cover their trails. I mean, haven't we all seen Criminal Minds?

I think there something far deeper, and more sinister, at work in the Ghomeshi case. It's my considered amateur psychiatric opinion, that like most serial psychos, Ghomeshi was keeping a treasure trove of trophies, just like Dalmer, and Bundy and Colonel Williams.

Some like panties, some like to keep heads in the freezer; others prefer emails.

A key component of his hunting is for the perp to bring back trophies that he can revisit over and over again on those nights when he's having a pizza party with Ma. He can feign sleep, go to bed early and pour over all the love letters, and the especially cherished ones, the ones where the girls are pleading to get with him again.

If he's keeping them for decades, he must have a shit load of them. Maybe a couple of hard drives' full.

Ah, that Jian must have a rich imaginary life.

That's why he didn't balk at house arrest.

It's Pee Wee's Playhouse!

The trouble, as we've seen with some of these bastards, is that suddenly the fantasies are not enough, and their behavior escalates. Perhaps, if he gets off, he'll go to Australia, where nobody knows him, to resume his radio career or become that country's King of Spain. He picks up a girl in a bar, slugs her, she hits her head, and she's done for. Ooopsie.

Because our system prefers to shame the victims, to ensure there is no reasonable doubt, Ghomeshi will probably only encounter a wagged finger. Maybe he'll get community service, hopefully in a morgue like Lindsay Lohan, not around real people.

In any case, I'm sure he'll resume his hobby in good time.

What? You think if he gets off, he's gonna stop?

That's a good one.

Meanwhile, the brave women who have come forward will be forced to navigate their lives with exploded minds.

And Marie Heinan will have a LifeTime movie made about her. Paid for by Telefilm Canada, in association with Corus and the Movie Network.

Like the People Versus OJ Simpson, the series now running on FX that's all about the lawyers and nothing about the victims.

Life's not fair, is it?

Unless you're Taylor Swift!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Weight, sadness and what I wore

That's me, front, second from the left.

When I was in high school, I was a size 12, which today would be a size 8.

I was proud of my tiny waist, it was a 23 as I recall, but my big hips bothered me. I wasn't delusional; I knew there was nothing I could do about them. There was no fat on them, just the hip bone. But I was aware of them.

For years, I was jealous of girls I'd consider scrawny today. They got to wear see through jumpsuits made of bubble wrap, and maxi coats that hugged their lithe bodies. Me, I settled for clothes that were tailored, like the outfit in this photo, shirts that didn't cling, skirts that weren't too snug. I would have been the perfect private school girl.

I realize now that my body shame started back in high school. It was hard to accept that I didn't have a perfect body, the kind the boys all drooled over. I was just an anonymous kid, the egghead, who hung out with the freaks and geeks in the audio-visual room.

I read my first diet book, by Adele Davis, back in Grade 10 after seeing her on the Merv Griffin Show. I didn't need to diet, but I knew I needed to know about dieting. So I became obsessed with diets.

On the outside, I was a normal teenager who ate pizza and drank pop. But on the inside, I always wondered how soon it would be until I was forced to consume a hamburger pattie, no bun, a peach slice and a mound of cottage cheese. (This was considered diet food in the 70s.)

My first diet was the Scarsdale Diet, an insane regime which was basically starvation in nature. The diet was popular with folks who wanted to drop a deuce in two weeks. I loved Scarsdale and spent years on and off it, consuming 700 calories, feeling the internal burn as my body suffered through ketosis. But I never got sick, not once. It was awesome.

The real trouble started when I had kids. After I had the boys, Irish Twins 13 months apart, I lived on Haagen Daz ice cream, big platters of beef and potatoes, cakes and cookies. I was a happy mom who loved her food, and ate it in large quantities.

When I was 31, I bought my first size 16. While I was doing other things, my tiny waist was swallowed whole by the beluga that consumed the rest of me.

I managed to lose that weight with Scarsdale just before I conceived my daughter Marissa. Amazingly, I was smaller the day after her birth than before I got pregnant. I was back to my high school weight, with big boobs that squirted milk. They were both handsome and handy.

Life couldn't have been better.

Then the bottom fell out. My husband left me with three kids under seven. My mother died suddenly, and I was completely alone. The career I had carefully nurtured crumbled under me, as I tried to stave off depression and thoughts of suicide. I spent years struggling with substance abuse.

Everything I cherished and believed in was taken away from me. There didn't seem to be much point worrying about my dress size, anymore. I felt completely unloved and unloveable.

After ten years, I managed to crawl out of my cave, and found love again.

But by this time, my boys were heavily into drugs, and my daughter was a ghost. Scott and I managed to bring them back from the brink, get them back into school, and right the Good Ship Simpson. But by then, I was in court, in the battle of my life against an ex-husband, who refused to help fund their education.

The final battle crippled me. The only thing I could count on was the warmth of my kitchen and the soft bellies of my beloved dogs. I made massive meals to feed the kids, and the crowd. I ate like there was no tomorrow because I knew I couldn't count on there being a tomorrow.

The bad stuff continued to pile on. I went through the menopause from hell. I lost my bladder control, and developed debilitating PTSD which was the fallout from the battle with my ex. I woke nightly, drenched in sweat, with night terrors.

And I gained 50 pounds.

When you grow up skinny, you don't realize that weight loss and gain is a cruel game. The weight loss doesn't last, the pounds creep up your back side, a few at a time until suddenly, without warning, you have become Jabba the Hut.

It's a terrible practical joke played on women, weight gain. It smacks you where you live -- right in the gut. I could lose it, but I couldn't keep it off.

Then suddenly, in middle age, the weight just moved in, like a permanent squatter, and no amount of exercise and dieting could budge the scale.

The last 20  years have been the worst of my life. I have suffered from low self-esteem, panic attacks, depression, economic uncertainty, the dull heart ache from the loss of my mother and my marriage, and the ultimate abandonment -- the fleeing of the children from the nest.

My sadness has settled, like memory foam, just above and below my navel.

My weight has consumed me, wrapped me in a cocoon, from which there is no escape. It has made me cling to the homefront and kept me out of the stores. Aside from the occasional pair of shoes and tops to replace the ripped, worn out ones, I haven't bought new clothes in close to five years.

But something good happened this year. I found out that I was accepted in a breast reduction program with a surgeon at the Ottawa Hospital. I was over-the-moon. It gave me hope.

Just one caveat.

My surgeon told me that she wouldn't perform a breast reduction until I lost about forty pounds. I should be worried. After all, I haven't been able to lose a single pound in five years despite a punishing exercise regime.

But I'm not worried, not at all.

I saw it as a sign. It was time to tear off the fat suit, and join the human race again.

I realize that my weight issues didn't start in my 40s or 50s. They started back in high school when my hips were too wide and my eyes were too close together. The girl in the photograph never got any older. Instead, she became a first class judgy bitch.

And she has let me know, every day since, that I am a failure, a loser and a fraud.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm in one of those horror movies, where the mom has to go into the ether to try to save her daughter from the demons that are consuming her. Insidious, that's a great description for the evil that has robbed me of my youth and vigor.

It's time to beat back the demons, and save the girl in the photo, and become the hero in my own story.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

At the Media Apocalypse, only the cockroach survives

A short history of newspapers in Canada (as told by the cockroach)

I started out my journalism career as a scab, and now I am a cockroach.

While all the successful journos are either retired, packaged or punted out of the newsrooms, I survive.

I don't have a nice house, or a pension, I exist on crumbs thrown at me by the rich and powerful who have systematically dismantled the media landscape and rewarded themselves with big bonuses. I make $200 here, $50 there. I don't have a legacy or a career; I have a drawer full of clippings.

And a blog.

I was a scab when I started because that was the only way I could get work. I crossed picket lines, watched other scabs get their tires flattened by irate pressmen, the ones with the unions, the ones with a promise of a pension. I was little, I was small, I got in through the cracks to make my living.

That newspaper died in 1980 when the giant head decided to consume its tail in search of maximum profit.

The newspaper I worked for died along side another one. So sad, they were great Canadian newspapers -- the one I worked for, the other one shut down by the corporate lip-smackers. Now they exist in the fond memories of paperboys, and on microfiche at the Library of Parliament.

People left the business, took good government jobs with pensions. They bought houses and country club memberships, but I kept it up. Cockroaches know, when the time comes to tear down the house, she can always move to another one. We live in the walls to save money.

I moved to the walls of another great newspaper. That newspaper also had a legacy, a purpose. Alas, forty years later, it, too is foundering. Instead of being closed, it is being molded into something new, a hybrid concoction, a mixture of white flour and wheat, flax seed and butter. Nobody is quite sure what it is -- it has a tabloid heart and a broadsheet skin.

Now people are leaving, again. Tossed out on their ears. Nothing to show for their dedication, blood, sweat and tears.

The head is eating its tail again.

More good people are leaving, but this time there aren't good government jobs to go to. Distinguished writers are getting sick in the street. Even the posh leather bars they once frequented are closing.

Big giant heads are repairing to their log homes in the country, appearing on all news channels for the same $200 as the cockroach, writing books that are either discounted on Amazon, or they languish as rock bottom remainders at Chapters.

The news hole now is even too small for the cockroach who moves on to the last great battleground -- ghetto publishing. The bosses live in far off lands, places where people still believe that print is not dead. They soon begin eating their tails, and set the cockroach free again.

Now there are no walls to live in, no newsprint to eat, no clippings to collect.

There is just the cockroach standing, at the Media Apocalypse, and she is eying her tail.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Jian Ghomeshi and the cult of celebrity

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has been feeling uncomfortable over the coverage of the Jian Ghomeshi circus taking place in Toronto this week.

It's hard to look away when somebody is being burned at the stake.

It is so incredibly unfair, this trial. The women have done nothing wrong. Their only crime is that they had crushes on a celebrity whose favorite past time was to beat the shit out of women.

He's the bad guy, but they are being judged and found wanting.

What this trial is about is the cult of celebrity. It's about the abusers and the women who adore them.

If Ghomeshi had been the guy at Walmart fluffing the bananas, not one of these women would look at him. If he was the kindly teacher, he'd be up on charges faster than Fat Albert could say, "Hey, Hey, Hey!"

But he's a celebrity, a cute little gnome like creature with a sly smile, whose winks and nudges have made a lot of women and men wet over the years. And that puts him in another class.

I've met a lot of celebrities over the years, thanks to my day job, and I've encountered a few socially. I always tell my friends and my kids to stay away from them. A lot of celebrities are creeps with lots of money and a high opinion of themselves.

Like the Eagles, those nice California boys. Who wouldn't want to hang out with them at the after party, the shindig the boys referred to as "Spread Eagle?" Who wouldn't want to get up close and personal with writers, movie stars, rock legends who blow into town and leave with girls' panties draped over the drum kits.

What happens on the road, stays on the road, right?

The tabloids are filled with tales of celebrities behaving badly. Even little Justin Bieber was accused of punching a limo driver on the back of the head.

The mantra for girls everywhere, when dealing with celebrities, should be buyer beware. And that truth is no more evident than in the case of Ghomeshi, a cowardly little snit who waited until the girl's back was turned to clock her. And he got away with it for years.

Because he is a celebrity.

And he's still getting away with it. His pit bull, Marie Henein, can barely contain her glee as she rips apart the women on the stand, humiliating them, revealing them to be nothing more than silly little girls with school crushes who kept coming back for more. The subliminal message keeps being repeated over, and over, and over again. She wanted it. She asked for it.

The pitbull kept raising questions. Why would these women write love letters to a guy who upsided them on the head, or pulled their hair? Are they no better than the heroine in Fifty Shades of Grey?

The answer, in my mind is not a simple one. They crushed on a guy, he strung them along, then he bashed them in the head. That's not about them liking it, or asking for it. It's about him, the big celebrity rejecting them. That's why these women kept writing to him, and meeting him, because they felt humiliated by him, and were made to feel small. To a person, these women -- like abused children -- wanted to know what was wrong with them.

It's not about sex. It was never about sex. For Ghomeshi like Cosby, it was all about power. They used their power, their celebrity, to feast on unarmed women, blindside them, and humiliate them. What they left in their wake was nothing less than human destruction.

Even now, Ghomeshi holds all the power over those have been brave enough to step up, and expose themselves to public humiliation. Their reward is for it to happen all over again, this time in front of the nation, the world, even.

Because they are vulnerable, because they are human, because they are damaged, Ghomeshi still holds the cards, and will probably get away with it. He bought this trial, and his big city lawyer and her website that makes people think she's straight out of Boston Legal.

And the salacious media is stepping up to make sure everybody knows every lurid detail. Ghomeshi's women are being treated no better than the Salem Witches, burned at the stake of public opinion.

What woman would ever come forth now? It's a joke, a sideshow, a freak show played out for entertainment by media who are arguing that they should be allowed to show "bikini shots"  that are "in the public interest".

If there's any good news, it's that Ghomeshi will never, ever, work in this country again. He might win the battle but he's lost the war.

He'll never feel safe walking the streets of Toronto knowing that he's being watched. Suddenly, there will be no table at his favorite restaurant. His opinions won't matter because he'll be talking to the wall. Believe it or not, shunning is a fitting punishment for a narcissist.

Shun away, Canada.

Ghomeshi may have thrown these women on the fire, but he, in the end is the toasted marshmallow.

Sweet dreams, Jian.