Sunday, 16 November 2014

Pipe Smoking...

This is actually a blog I wrote for the site of a friend of mine. Since I'm lazy I thought I'd post it here too. The usual punctuation and grammatical errors should be expected.

The most common question I get when people find out that I make pipes for a living is, “So, do you smoke them too?” to which I answer that, yes, yes I do. What I really want to say is, “What do you think, you dimwitted twit?” Mainly this is because I already know what the follow-up statement will be, and that is: “Smoking’s bad for you, you know.” It’s at this point where the internal censor needs to kick in for a second time, and instead of saying, “Holy crap! Really!? I had no clue!” I simply shrug and continue on.

Yes, news flash, smoking is bad for you. I have no doubt whatsoever that compounds found in burning tobacco are doing horrible, nasty, and possibly immoral things to me on a cellular level. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report came out there has been a huge amount of scientific evidence to prove this to be true. Denying it only goes to place you in that special genre of misguided souls containing such people as the Flat Earthers, and the good folks at the Westboro Baptist Church.

Am I addicted and simply unable to control my impulses? Nope. When I’m busy, weeks can go past without having a pipe, not a big deal. Even when I do have the time, it's rare for me to have more than three or four pipes a week. So what gives? Why would I expose myself to this plague on society, this demon weed? The answer is simple. Because I want to. I understand the risks and I chose to participate, just like people who ride motorbikes, skydive, and eat deep dish pizza. That’s right folks, for the last half-century, your stereotypical tweed-wearing pipe smoker has actually been a bad-ass risk-taker on par with formula one driver.

What people seem to lose sight of, especially when the subject of tobacco comes up, is that too much of anything will kill you. This might sound a bit doomy, but in the end we’re all on a one-way trip. No matter how many veggies we eat, how long we spend at the gym, or how many vitamins we pop, we’re all going to shuffle off our mortal coils and go the way of the Norwegian Blue Parrot. Too much meat, too much sun, hell, too much Kale is bad for you! I think sometimes as a society, we've fooled ourselves into believing that if we just go on that one new diet, swallow that one special pill, we’ll somehow live forever. Sadly, I'm leaning toward the opinion that there’s more truth to that saying about, “death and taxes,” than there is, “better living through chemistry.”

This isn't to say that I’m going to smoke like a tire fire, and stuff my face with bacon-double cheeseburgers from now until they plant me in the ground. I've got a wife and daughter that I dearly love, and want to hang around with. I’m enjoying my ride on planet Earth, and think it would be just spiffy to see another forty or fifty trips around the sun. For me though, living well means that sometimes I indulge myself. Sometimes I eat that bacon-double cheeseburger, drink a few beers, and sometimes, by Jupiter’s frothy beard, I’ll smoke my pipe, and enjoy the hell out of it.

At this point, if the person I’m chatting with is genuinely interested, the next question will be, “But, why smoke a pipe? Pipes are what old men smoke!” Here I’ll admit, smoking a pipe has a certain image that accompanies it. We've touched on it already. Pipes are seen as something for the aficionados of tweed and Early Bird Specials at the local country restaurant. Seriously, Google it, I’ll wait. Type in: “Pipe smoking images,” and see what comes up… You guessed it, we have an excess of elderly white guys in button-up shirts and ties, looking contemplative while posing for black and white photographs. The Tolkiens and Einsteins of the world are heavily represented, along with a few sufficiently craggy sea dogs, and, for good or bad, a smattering of Hipsters. So, why?

I guess a part of it is that I've never been all that image conscious. I don’t particularly care if I wear the latest fashions or drive the sexiest car. I wear an oilskin duster when I walk my daughter to school in the rain, because it’s the only coat I've found that can keep my pants dry when the rain is really coming down. I wear Doc Martins because I know that I can go a couple years between purchases. I hate shopping for new boots. I drive a Honda Fit because it’s awesome on gas, feels like you’re driving a go-cart, and can fold down to fit an eight-foot book case and three people comfortably. I’m not terribly interested in fitting an image as much as I am having the things I own fit me.

Now we come back to the pipe. There are a lot of things that are attractive to me about smoking a pipe. First and foremost, I think it appeals to my obsessive geek personality. I don’t mean I like to smoke pipes because Bilbo did, and that, deep down, I really just want to be a Hobbit. I like pipes for the same reason I like to roast my own coffee, write novels, grow my own tobacco, run long distances, and play the mandolin. Pipe smoking is something I can get passionate about.

When I smoke my pipes I’m a participant, not a passive observer simply drawing smoke into my lungs for a nicotine fix. If I wanted that, I could slap a nicotine patch onto my forehead and call it a day. There is a process, a learning curve to smoking a pipe. A pipe requires you to learn how to pack, light, tamp and draw properly keep it lit. It makes you pay attention to it in a way that neither cigars, nor cigarettes do. When I smoke a pipe I’m on a quest. Why do some tobaccos smoke better in different pipes? Why does one pipe sing after a week to sit, while another is ready to go after only a day? When will I again smoke that perfect bowl of tobacco? The one where the stars align and a divine shaft of white light beams down and strikes upon me a la the Quantum Leap opening credits.

When I smoke my pipe there is a history between us. This was the pipe my wife bought for me. This is the pipe I bought from Jay, Trever, Neill, or Rad. This is the pipe I smoked around the campfire that summer. This is the pipe I smoked, looking out the window and watching the snow fall. This is the pipe I smoked holding the hand of my wife on that warm summer night, sitting out in the back yard and looking at the stars.

Pipes become your companions. You know their quirks, what they like and don’t like. Pipes aren't throw-away pieces of tech, they will not be obsolete once the new update comes out. You won't remember what smartphone you had during a memorable event years down the road, but you'll remember the pipe you smoked. You have a version 1.0 pipe and it’s going to stay that way forever. It is a piece of permanency in a throw-away society. A pipe has a soul, or maybe it just becomes a part of yours. Either way, that’s why I like pipes.

PS If you are really interested in seeing the kinds of pipes that I make you can visit my website.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Wherein I post an early excerpt from Chapter one of my novel...

**Warning** This is an unedited sample. Poor Grammar, bad language, worse punctuation, and violence ahead.

In a suburb of Vancouver, a woman named Elanor was dying. This came as a huge surprise to her for a couple of very good reasons. First, she was, for all intents and purposes, immortal. Second, the one who was responsible for her demise was, in her valued opinion, a complete tool.

Knox was attempting to act suave and collected as he sat on the edge of her mahogany desk, and was failing spectacularly at either impression. A layer of sweat beaded and glimmered across his bald head, and his frantic eyes bulged behind round lenses reminding Elanor of an overly-excited rat terrier doing a bad impression of John Lennon.

Off to one side, watched Knox’s long-time companions, Mister Bone and Madame Rag. Mister Bone was a huge man with a face like an abused meatloaf and the physique of a hyper-steroidal gorilla. Madame Rag, by contrast, was a blonde wisp of a thing who looked as though she could be swept away by the breeze of a desk fan. The only thing that the two seemed to have in common were the avid smiles they each wore pasted onto their faces as they watched her die.

Elanor, for her part, lay slumped and confused on the floor behind her desk in front of Knox’s well-polished shoes.

“So, here we are Elanor,” Knox said in a voice, too tight to sound casual. “It’s strange, and you might not believe me, but I think I’m going to actually miss you. I’ve spent nearly three whole centuries waiting to kill you, and watching you die was one of those things I knew I could always look forward to. To use a modern term, you were on my bucket list.” An idea lit up his face and he took out a smartphone from his pants pocket.

“And while we are on the topic of modern…” He twiddled and tapped the screen a few times and a light shone from the back of the phone next to a small white piece of fruit. He pointed the miniature camera lens at her, “So I’ll be able to look back at our final time together,” he explained.

Elanor looked at him uncomprehendingly. Her confusion wasn’t due to shock, or from any lack of recognition of the man who sat before her. She knew more than she really wanted to about who and what Knox was. Her bewilderment arose from the impossibility of what he’d done. If the cats of the world had suddenly revealed to humankind that they had a secret space program and that they would soon be sending a Calico to the moon, she couldn’t have been more surprised. Knox shouldn’t have been able to find her here, and even if he did, there was no way he should have been able to kill her. It simply should not have been an option.

For thousands of years, humankind worked to discover the secret of immortality through alchemy - everybody knew that. What wasn’t widely known though, was that a little over five centuries before, they’d succeeded. Alchemists were successful in creating a substance which not only stopped physical ageing but healed all but the most grievous injuries. They called the substance, Panacea. The guild that sprung up to foster Alchemical training, was extremely picky about who it chose to advance to the top of its ranks, and Knox was not one of those people.

To his credit, Knox was intelligent and ambitious, even if those traits were most often exercised at the expense of others. Elanor always thought that Knox’s biggest stumbling block was his simple lack of a moral compass. Ruthlessness was a trait that was sometimes called for and necessary, but it was only one tool among many. Knox was ruthless when it was neither necessary nor called for.

In an age when witnessing death was as simple as a walk to the gallows, Knox had appalled an entire nation with his disregard for life and had nearly been lynched for it. He had, in fact, been burned in effigy and forced from his home by the angry crowd. She’d been present at the near-mobbing, and unknown to Knox, had actually drawn his trademark round spectacles on the dummy before it was fired.

     Only police intervention and a quick dash out the back door of his home while disguised as a soldier had saved his life. It was his genuine confusion over why people would do such a thing that finally convinced Elanor that Knox was a sociopath long before any such term had entered the language.

     Anyone acquainted with Knox for any length of time grew to recognize this fundamental lack, and his advancement in the Guild slowed, stalled, and eventually stopped over a century before. No master would continue his training beyond a certain critical point, and over the years, his frustration and sullen anger at his lot had grown. Knox had become a bitter little footnote in the history of Alchemy. At least he should have been. It seemed Knox had other plans, apparently including the heretofore unthinkable act of murdering her.

     The crap part about the whole thing was that it should never have worked. Finding a way to circumvent Panacea was nearly as big a breakthrough as finding it in the first place. Outside of decapitation, or burning a body to fine ash - which was a task surprisingly harder to do than it sounded - it was a near-certainty that if you had Panacea in your veins, you would live to see the another day.

     For five centuries she’d trained, studied and sacrificed for her knowledge. As a ranking alchemist of the Red, Elanor was a master who could sublimate the very anima of life out of empty air. It infused her to her bones, and the simple knife that Knox stabbed into her forearm a few moments before, should have been nothing more than a painful, but momentary, distraction. The whole point of putting all the hard work and sweat into becoming immortal was to avoid situations exactly like this one. As she’d always suspected, dying sucked.

     The knife, which still protruded from her arm like some horrible metallic parasite, was tricked, it had to be. No normal poison could overcome Panacea. She’d felt the cold consuming agent rush into her body the moment the knife’s point parted her skin. The trick felt familiar, like hearing a new song for the first time from an artist you knew well. There was alchemy there, she knew that without even needing to think about it, but there was something else too. Something cold and dead. Then it hit her. Death Magic. Necromancy.

     Elanor’s mind skittered over centuries of learning and research. She struggled to bring up every fact she’d ever heard of about magical poisons, every rumour and mention. Moments of her life drifted away like the last few clinging pieces of dandelion fluff to a naked stem. There was nothing, no knowledge, no last minute plan that would save her life. It seemed this ambulatory shit was right. She would die, and from the speed the poison was working, it would be soon. Her mind kept working as Knox continued to record her final moments.

     If she had to die, was there anything else she could do to hurt Knox, to spike his wheel? An idea crept in, a horrible ghastly thing that sent a shudder down her poison-wracked body. Her mind recoiled from it, as though reaching through a darkened cupboard she’d suddenly felt an abnormally large spider caress her hand.

     “Tell me how it feels to die,” Knox prompted, bringing her attention back to him. Looking at him, she suddenly knew, knew in her heart that he wasn’t the one to have discovered the poison. Knox always considered himself a scholar par excellence, and if he’d been the one to discover a way to get around Panacea, he’d be crowing about it from the rooftops. He’d be gloating over his discovery, not simply her impending death. There was no question, Knox was someone’s cats-paw. “How does it feel to know that I’ve killed you?” he continued peering at her through the phone.

     “Knox,” she asked, trying to keep her voice steady, “is it possible you’re suffering from mercury poisoning?”

     Mister Bone snorted, and Knox’s cool, urbane, mask instantly shattered.

     “Shut up! Shut your foul mouth!” He screamed. Spittle flew from his quivering lips and veins bulged on his reddening head. “I’ve killed you, you will die, and I’ll still be here to piss on your rotted corpse! You don’t get to make jokes out of this!”

     “I always though,“ she gasped, ignoring him “that poison was a woman’s weapon, Knox. Perhaps there is something that you need to tell us all?” She let her eyes linger on his crotch.

     Knox was one who had difficulty keeping up with shifting social norms. Equality between the sexes being one he’d never been able to fathom. During the course of a normal lifetime, it wasn’t too big of a deal. Outdated racist or sexist attitudes would eventually die with their owners. A lot of people had grandparents who made embarrassingly inappropriate comments at family dinners. It was uncomfortable, embarrassing, but also par for the course. Knox hadn’t changed his tune in three hundred years, and it was almost astoundingly easy to push his old-fashioned buttons.

     Knox screamed in rage, swung his leg back and kicked her hard in the hip. It went numb for a few moments before the pain came. She shuddered, but fought against the burning ache, she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much the kick had hurt. There was no way, no way in Hell that Knox would get the best of her in her final moments.

     In that instant, Elanor came to a decision. She had studied, researched, and sacrificed for five centuries to be where she was, and there was no way a foul stain on the bed sheet of history like Knox would be the end of her, not without violent, bloody, payback.

     Blood dripped steadily crimson down her arm and a consuming, cramping, pain ground through her like a straight razor scraping against rusted barbed wire. Elanor could feel the poison spreading through her limbs burning and eating up the Panacea in her blood as it progressed. It was working so quickly! She wouldn’t have thought it was possible if it hadn’t been happening to her. Her fingertips were numb and blackened visibly at the tips as she watched. It was time for hard decisions, and in a kind of horrified dispassion, she examined the one terrible plan she’d been able to come up with.
     “Come on Elanor, you must have something to say,” Knox cajoled in a mocking voice squatting close to her with that damned phone in her face. “You’ve never been afraid of talking in the past, even when you should have kept your fucking mouth shut.”

     It was time, she made up her mind. Despite what Knox’s knife had done, she was still an alchemist of the Red and had the skills to prove it. He’d even given her the tools she needed to put her travesty of a plan into action.

     Carefully, deliberately, she gripped the handle of the knife and pulled it free from her left forearm. The pain made her want to vomit. Then she did vomit, yellow bile, bitter and acid splashed to the polished stone in front of her. Blood flowed faster down her arm to join the pool on the floor. She could tell from the feel of the blade that its trick was gone, nothing was left but an echo of resonance.
     Knox backed up and stepped away from the expanding puddle of blood and sick with a look of revulsion. It was clear from his expression that her death was not living up to the billing he had in mind. That didn’t surprise her, Knox liked his killings to be sanitary, accomplished with a minimum of fuss, and usually at the hands of his hirelings.
     “Knox,” she rasped, grinning bleakly and preparing herself for what was to come, “if you thought that was gross, watch this.”

     With a trembling arm, she dipped a blackened finger into a puddle of her own warm blood and quickly sketched a symbol on the stone in front of her. She couldn’t feel it when her fingertip touched the floor, all sensation had left her limbs, but it was a simple enough shape and she completed it easily. The next part would be harder. She made the necessary mental preparations, then with a short violent spasm, she plunged the knife into her own abdomen. The symbol on the floor flared blue briefly like a hundred arc welders flashing at once, then the light faded away leaving an indistinct blackened mark burned into the polished stone of the floor.

     “What are you doing?” Knox asked shakily blinking his eyes. “What the hell do you think you’re doing!?” He asked again his voice pitched higher and panicked.

     Elanor could feel herself beginning to drift away as pain and numbness wrapped her up in welcoming arms. She spent all of her remaining energy to keep her mind focused. She’d be able to let it all go soon, but first… but first… but first… Her mind began to spiral down into stillness, only a diamond-hard shard of self remained, calmly completing her last great work.

     For several rasping breaths nothing happened, then, at last, a gasp escaped from Elanor. Her head snapped back and her eyes opened, the whites had turned completely red she turned her head and gave Knox a smile that would make nightmares flinch and look away. Knox peered at her, still partly blinded from the flash of her working, then scrambled backward over the desktop at the sight of her. He joined his companions who were watching the gruesome spectacle uncertainly.

     Cramps gripped Elanor's body, she screamed, but it lasted only a moment before it aborted in a horrible gurgle. Her mouth opened wide, wider than it should have been possible, like a snake unhinging its jaw. Knox expected another scream, to see more vomit, maybe blood. What he didn’t expect was for her to begin emptying herself. Flesh reached out and poured from her in a torrent. It convulsed out of her mouth, and as it did, Elanor’s body became less and less, like a balloon slowly deflating.

     Knox's nerve broke and he dashed to the exit of the workshop, Rag and Bone stayed where they stood, watching the spectacle in a kind of rapt fascination. Knox turned at the exit in time to see Elanor's form continue to empty itself onto the floor. It made a horrible liquid noise, and Knox had to clench his teeth and swallow to avoid emptying his own stomach.

     When it seemed that her body had no more flesh to give, and the horrible process must end, her legs and trunk began to be convulsively drawn up into her torso. There was a horrible crackling noise as the process reached its climax. When it was done, there was no evidence that the pile that lay on the floor had been a person mere moments before.

     There was a sudden and profound quiet in the room. Knox swallowed, breathing hard. He’d expected the death to be more… sanitary. He glanced briefly at the mass that had been Elanor and shuddered. Whatever she’d been trying to do there at the end clearly hadn’t worked. His eyes flickered, examining the floor around what was left of the body, avoiding the corpse itself whenever possible. No knife was worth digging through that to retrieve.

     “What was that?” Asked Rag breathily into the sudden silence.

     “Something you don’t see every day,” answered Bone, apparently not affected in the least by the scene.

     Knox didn't reply, but mopped his pale forehead with a shaking hand and looked up to see his two charges staring into each other’s eyes.

     “Madame Rag,” Knox managed to get out, his voice unsteady, “Mister Bone, we are here for a purpose. Let’s be about it”

     The three moved from the door, around the desk and its scattered papers, and into the workshop.
     Behind the desk, unnoticed and avoided, the mound of flesh on the floor began to quiver. Slowly, gradually, the movement became coordinated. It undulated, stretched, and contracted in on itself in an unsettling manner, then lay almost completely still.

It was hours after Knox and his crew had left before the crunching sound of boot heels on broken glass was heard again in the workshop. A woman of singular appearance walked through the door. She moved into the room as though her presence there was as natural and as expected as the air.
Her hair was a shade too black, and her skin too bone white, but either of these things could have been mistaken for cosmetics. She wore black jeans, a crimson knit scarf, and a fitted leather jacket that squeaked when she moved. Dark glasses covered her eyes, but she moved through the room with confidence and purpose.

She made her way toward Elanor’s desk and bent down to touch the blackened sigil on the stone floor. Her eyes moved to regarded Elanor’s remains with a critical eye. She reached out a hand to the flesh that lay on the floor, it was warm and shivered at her touch. The polished wood and metal handle of a knife sticking out from under the half-formed flesh caught her attention. She gently rolled the boneless flesh aside and carefully extracted it.

It was stained down its length with half-dried blood, without hesitation, she brought it up to her face, her eyes closed, her nostrils flaring. After a beat, she pulled back and gently puffed her breath across the knife. As her breath came into contact with the surface, a heavy dry ice mist momentarily formed and trickled down its edge.

She frowned at the knife and pulled a phone out of her pocket. She activated an app, and after a brief chime, a face appeared on the screen. Like her, the owner’s skin was unnaturally light, but unlike her, his features were a half-step too far removed to be exactly human. The eyes in his lined face were just a bit too wide apart, too green, and when he smiled, his teeth were fine and pointed like a predatory fish.

“Penhold,” she greeted him.  

“Aleph. So?” he asked in a dry baritone.

“You were right. Knox of the White figured it out, he’s killed Elanor.” She scanned the room with her phone’s camera stopping at the burned sigil and the vaguely human-shaped mound of flesh next to the desk. “Well, mostly,” she amended, pointing her phone’s camera at the fleshy lump on the floor.
“This has gone far enough. Pieces are being taken off the board. The carver needs to be either killed or sponsored. If Knox is able to get to him…”

“It could be very bad,” he said over her, “but it’s too good of an opportunity to miss. He’s been able to avoid notice for long enough that he’s actually taught himself rough control over his talent. Anyone who can do that has at least a chance against Knox.”

“Don’t talk to me about chance. Just because I’ve listened to your arguments doesn’t mean I agree with them. I give this plan a five percent chance of actually working, and a fifty percent chance of blowing up in your face.”

“What about the other forty-five percent?”

“That’s the percent where you and the carver both end up dead.”

He mulled that over. “Those are workable odds.”

“Maybe for you, but it would be a disaster for Senak and The Market. I remember what it was like before you showed up. Back then The Market wasn’t worth the effort for the Guild to step in and save it. Now, the Guild would be there the same day swooping in to ensure ‘stability."

“Probably, but the world would continue to turn. The Guild isn’t exactly evil, and I’m not young. I won’t live forever.”

“That could be altered,” she suggested.

“No, it couldn’t,” for the first time in the conversation there was a hard edge in his voice.

“This game has run ninety years,” Aleph continued, choosing not to start up the old argument. “The time to fight the war was when it was being fought, not now that it’s been lost. I owe you, but I don’t owe you another ninety years of waiting for things to be just right. You need to wrap it up soon or continue on without me.”

The face on her phone looked back at her without expression. “Keep an eye on the carver. They’ll come for him soon.”

“He’ll die,” she predicted.

“Yes, that’s possible,” he agreed, “and if he does, I’ll release you from your obligations. I think it’s far more likely though that Knox will try to use him. He’s a greedy old egomaniac with a lot of grudges. For the first time in four centuries, the carver has given him a means to settle them.”

“I noticed,” said Aleph dryly, not looking toward the desk and what lay under it. She had some pretty strong suspicions where the White alchemist had learned this new trick of his.

Penhold smiled at her through the small screen of her phone. “I think between Knox’s ambition, and the carver’s intelligence, there will be an opportunity for us.”

A small noise echoed in the empty workshop and Aleph raised her head toward it. It was probably just one of the smashed pieces of equipment settling.

“I need to go,” she said into the phone.

“Is something wrong?”

“I don’t think so, but I don’t want Knox coming back and finding me here. It would be awkward.”
Aleph turned on her heel and walked quickly to the door, when she got there she glanced back over her shoulder to look at the room one last time.

Knox had done more than kill Elanor. He’d destroyed what had taken centuries of effort to gather in, create, and discover. In minutes of casual destruction, all of her work was reduced to nothing more than torn pages and smashed equipment. Aleph had seen worse, it was more of the same old, worn, story, but it still had the power to sadden her.

That old Churchill quote about how “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” couldn’t be more wrong. It supposed that people could change basic human nature by learning from the mistakes of the past. No, history would never stop repeating itself because basic human nature would never change. It was biology. History was just elevator music playing for people who would tune it out until it was too late.

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Wimminz

!!!WARNING!!!: Strong language and poor punctuation ahead.

Lately there has been something of a shitstorm on social media around the idea of sexual equality. I've been of the opinion that assholes from both sides of the fence have sullied the questionably good name of both Men's Rights and Feminism, and that I would prefer not to be associated with either one. There is a fine line where justifiable outrage ceases to be meaningful, and instead becomes inward-gazing, shrill and masturbatory. Both of these groups have large factions that have gleefully sprinted across that line and kept going off into the sunset. Why would I want to be painted with the same brush as these people? Recently, though, events have forced me to re-evaluate how I identify in this debate.

I try to go through life treating people as I'd hope to be treated, and going under the assumption they have a working brain, regardless of where they fall on the gender scale. This doesn't mean that I think that deep down people are all the same. In my opinion they aren't, and honestly why would I want them to be? There are days when my wife tells me she feels safe in my arms, or I see a beautiful woman walk past, and I'll be grinning like an idiot for hours. A happy heterosexual male enjoying one of the perks of life. I'm not advocating for a boring world where people should hide what they are, or be ashamed of it. I want to see a world where people embrace their sexual identity, but still are able to see other people as something more than mobile sex organs, and possibly, just possibly, even treat each other with some basic fucking humanity. Just because we aren't all the same doesn't mean that we aren't all human.

Up until fairly recently, I had the mistaken opinion that my way of viewing the world was the norm, and that the dudebros and the angry militant feminists were the rare exception to the rule. I somehow convinced myself that these two groups were roughly equal and, like matter and anti-matter, they would hopefully annihilate each other in an expanding ball of internet flames, hate, and intolerance. Recent events seem to imply I was wrong. These two forces aren't equal. As a matter of fact, they are vastly unequal.

For every feminist website cheerfully calling for personal anecdotes of women beating up on their boyfriends, (looking at you Jezebel,) there are a dozen organized campaigns pandering to the douchebags who seem to think that having a penis and access to a computer gives them a free pass to be hateful, violent, shits. I'm thinking about #The Fappening, the treatment of Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, and the reaction to Emma Watson's recent address to the UN #HeforShe. Because, let's face it, nothing lets the world know that you've got a rock-solid base to your motivations like invading somebody's privacy and the threat of rape and murder.

The truly nausea-inducing part of the whole thing is how many brainless fuckmuppets this has brought slinking out of the woodwork, most of whom seem to think that the ends justifies the means. Regardless of your motivation in identifying with these campaigns, or the purity of your intentions, here's the thing: Any time a group you associate with threatens to rape or kill because they disagree with somebody else's opinion, you might want to think about what side you are on because there is simply no excuse to be made. Let me say that again, just to be clear. I don`t care if you think somebody`s girlfriend boinked the entire NBA, NHL, and NFL in a bathtub of bribe money while singing, Ì`ve got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. There is no excuse.

So here I am, looking at the events of the last few months and sitting on the fence doesn't seem to be much of an option. Feminism has left a bad taste in my mouth over the years, but the outpouring of hate and entitlement on the side of these online campaigns spearheaded by men and boys has been repulsive to a degree I wouldn't have before though possible.

I have a wife, a daughter, mother and friends who should be able to receive the same respect and opportunity that I do. Hell, I have gay and transgender friends who will have to put up with bile and hate from these same dreadnought-class douche canoes. Why should I watch in silence while people I know and love are marginalized and debased because someone with a dick feels threatened?

Yes, there are women out there who hate men, and who call themselves feminists. Yes, there are times when being a man is a check mark against you, and it sucks. It should be noted though, that these kinds of feminists are the shrill minority, and the discrimination we face as men is minimal in comparison to the shit that the 50% non-male identifying part of the population has to deal with. It doesn't make it right, but neither does it change the facts. I don't agree with all of the different schools of feminism, but a majority of them seem to think that equality between the sexes is a pretty spiffy idea. So, if valuing equality makes me feminist, I guess I am. The other options are no longer anything I can live with as a man who loves women.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Are you there world? It's me, Stephen.

So, here we are. My very first blog. Since I don't have packs of panting, moistened groupies following me around and hanging on my every word, I suppose my novel isn't published yet. Truth be told, I haven't even finished it, but I'm about 85 000 words closer than I was when I started. I estimate another 50 000 words before I reach author-groupie critical mass. Because, honestly, what writer doesn't spend months in the dark behind the keyboard in the slim hope of being published and some hot action from literary groupies?

I've decided to write this blog as a sort of mental emetic; and you, my dear  readers, shall be the lucky recipients of the runoff. From that description, I'm sure you can't wait! Topics will vary, as will frequency. I shall warn you now, I am as inconstant as a rampant ferret.  A mongoose with the seven year itch, and my blogs will probably just end up being silly as this one seems to be becoming. Also, my punctuation is horrible. You shall have to deal as I must. My independent clauses are codependent and fear the use of commas as my cats fear the vacuum.  

See? Just silliness.