Polar Vortex 2014: Time to Stay Inside and Watch TV

Feeling like -40C with the wind chill? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

the mindy project television

I personally find January the most depressing month of the year – no more holidays, and only cold weather and darkness outside. While I’m longing for summer, patio drinks and chances to wear rompers, at least I’ve got my favourite shows back on TV to keep me warm.

Tonight two of my most beloved comedies are back – New Girl and The Mindy Project, starting at 9PM on Fox and CityTV. While Mindy is going on a winter hiatus, it’s not happening yet – we’ve got three sure-to-be glorious episodes this month before its break. The hilarious and underrated comedy will then return in April.

January also hails new seasons of some of my favourite shows. The outrageously inappropriate yet fantastic Shameless returns on January 12th, as does Lena Dunham’s Girls. The trailers for this season of Girls have me with high hopes for this season.

Showtime has amazingly put the Shameless premiere online ahead of it official start date and unsurprisingly, it’s a great one. I was worried we might get less of Mickey Milkovich this season, but fear not, the premiere has several awesome Mickey scenes aka ALL THE FEELZ.

Since outdoor activities are a no-no for me during these Arctic-feeling months, I’m making my way through some older television shows for the first time. On the docket at the moment: Six Feet Under, Primeval and Sons of Anarchy.

What shows are you excited for this winter? Doing any binge watching of your own? Keep warm, folks!

Start Something New

Happy New Year! I hope you had safe and fun celebrations last night, whether they were low-key or you find yourself still in bed today from last night’s festivities.

I don’t know what 2014 will hold, but I’m hoping for new things, growth, achievement and adventure. I wish for happiness and health for family and friends.

I’m never very good at resolutions – my hope for this year is that I set goals for the things I really want and make the plans to achieve them. I’m already making plans for 2014 with this delightfully charming Kate Spade planner – shouldn’t be hard to cross things off my to-do list when they are in this lovely agenda!

Picked up this charmer at Indigo!

Picked up this charmer at Indigo!

I came across this quote today from the always eloquent Neil Gaiman and wanted to share:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Best wishes for 2014!

Being Christmas-y in Toronto

Elf: One of the all-time greatest movies. Seriously.

Elf: One of the all-time greatest movies. Seriously.

If you’ve spent remotely anytime around me or my social media accounts anytime after August then you’ll know that I LOVE Christmas. The obsession is  a bit out of hand (Christmas music creeps into Halloween), but how can you not love the music, tv specials/movies, food and fun times that Christmas brings? Also, as someone who hates cold weather and winter sports, Christmas is my only saving grace getting me through our country’s blustery winter months.

I’ve recently checked out two of my favourite annual things to do in the city at this time of year: The Toronto Christmas Market (which runs till Dec. 15th!) and the One of a Kind Show (today was it’s last day – hope you didn’t miss out!). I went to both last weekend, making it one magical Christmas-y weekend! Continue reading

GIVEAWAY: Win Tickets to Steam Whistle UNSIGNED + More!

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You love beer? You love indie music? Of course you do. The folks at Steam Whistle Brewery have their sixth UNSIGNED concert coming up on Friday, November 29th and are giving a lucky reader free tickets for a great night of indie music and of course, beer.

Steam Whistle is an ardent supporter of great Canadian independent music and their UNSIGNED Indie Music Series has showcased talent such as The Darcys, Rich Aucoin, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Austra, Hooded Fang & many more.

This year’s line up boasts:

Rituals
The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores
Fresh Snow

What are we giving away?

  • A pair of tickets to the show
  • Refreshment tickets
  • A pair of brewery passes

TO WIN: Send an email with the subject line: Steam Whistle UNSIGNED to lisap.blog[at]gmail.com by midnight on Tuesday, November 26th and an entry will be chosen at random!

If you’re like me and love checking out new music, you need to check out Steam Whistle’s UNSIGNED!

Breaking Bad is Back

All bad things must come to an end…

breaking bad

Are you ready?! The final 8 episodes of AMC’s intense drama Breaking Bad begin tonight! It’s a bittersweet excitement, as I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen next (the ending of the last episode – SO TENSE!), yet I am sad to say goodbye to Walt & Jesse (and to one of the best written/acted shows in television history).

If you don’t watch it a) what is wrong with you b) prepare to be annoyed by everyone around you talking about it over the next few weeks. For a refresher on the past five seasons, check out this recap below:

Also, this year Breaking Bad will have an after show, Talking Bad. The postmortems will be hosted by Chris Hardwick (who also hosts the network’s The Walking Dead after show, Talking Dead). Love this!

Will you be tuning in?

Those Summer Nights

tiff in the park

If you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive night out in the city, may I suggest this mid-week excursion: a trip to the Magnum Pleasure Store to create your own delicious concoction for $6.00 (which I’ve already waxed poetic about),  then hitting up TIFF in the Park, a free movie series running every Wednesday at David Pecaut Square. This summer TIFF’s theme is “A Summer of Romance” and it’s playing classic and contemporary rom-coms – so basically this is the best thing ever.

I had an amazing time doing these very things with friends a few weeks ago (we caught my fave, Sleepless in Seattle) and I would definitely recommend pairing the two together on warm summer night! (PS – arrive early for good seats!)

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Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About: Summer in the City Edition

toronto skyline 2013

Once again lazy blogging comes from a busy life. Many things going on, unsure about where it’s all heading, so I have neglected updating ye old blog.

I have been enjoying the summer in the city, even if the city seems to have forgotten what sunshine is. So here’s the abridged version of what I’ve enjoyed in the past two-ish months:

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On Being Better Than A Rape Joke

[So this is not the usual lifestyle, entertainment, “what’s fun in Toronto”-type posts that I usually keep it to here, but I just had to get this out. It’s long, I know, but bear with me.]

Terrible things on good ol’ interwebz are not new or few and far between, but sometimes you see so much terribleness about the same damn things that it just about does your head in. For me, it’s the internet brouhaha that’s been happening as of late regarding comedians (most notably white, male comedians) and their “right” to make “rape jokes.”

If you’re not familiar, let’s give it some context: the discussion really began ramping up last year when comedian Daniel Tosh made a rape joke at his set at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood. When a woman in the audience responded (or heckled, if you want to call it that) that rape jokes were never funny, Tosh responded “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” The woman to whom this beyond unfunny sentiment was directed at took to the internet to tell her experience. While there was some backlash against Tosh (he later apologized), there also was support for him – and not by just the typical misogynistic internet trolls, but by many other established and respected male comedians. It and the overall subject have been written about in-depth in many places around the web.

Since then, there has been much back and forth between comedians clamoring against the apparent “policing” of their material and internet feminists about the problematic nature of rape jokes. Some of these recent discussions include an open letter by Jezebel’s Lindy West where she breaks down the issue of the rape joke, specifically it being told by white, male comedians. In the article and in previous ones she’s penned, West has stated that she is not saying that rape can never be discussed as part of a joke, in fact she’s even written a piece pointing out rape jokes that work. She highlights the constant counterarguments she’s received in her open letter, which I think is a must-read to get a better understanding of where us apparently humourless feminists are coming from.

Last week West and comedian Jim Norton appeared on W. Kamau Bell’s show Totally Biased (By the way, I think Bell and his show are genius.) You can check out a clip here. They had a civil discussion. Since that appearance however, the vitriol being spewed at Lindy West for her comments and the articles she has written completely prove her point. Look at the comments under the YouTube video of their discussion if you dare. There is rape culture. There is a messed up, misogynistic culture overall. In fact, in the midst of writing this, West has written a response documenting all the craziness being directed at her since the show. Read it. Let that sink in. (I would like to note that Norton has commented on the response that West has received as well.)

Censorship seems to be the key buzzword for comedians and rape joke enthusiasts. The thing is, no one is actually “censoring” comedians – they can’t actually do that. Rather, they are commenting on and criticizing their jokes – comedians are allowed to say whatever they want, but there are always consequences – if people think what you are saying is problematic, they are also allowed to say so. You can say what you want. If people don’t like it, they can and should look away. But sometimes it’s not that simple and they also can criticize what you are doing.

In my opinion, if you’re a so-called edgy comedian and you have to rely on rape as the punch line of your joke, you’re not a very good comedian. Same with making fat jokes, and using works like “retarded.” You’re not edgy, you’re childish. It’s hack. If you’re so talented, there is LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD TO USE AS MATERIAL.

They say, “Oh, but I offend everyone! There’s always someone who would be offended no matter what!” There’s a difference between offending say, a conservative racist, and making fun of minorities, disabilities, illnesses and those who have been through terrible traumas like rape. I saw someone on Twitter making an excellent point – comedy should attack the powerful, not the victimized.

Here’s the thing – I understand and absolutely agree with the idea that comedy can help us heal and deal with terrible things. Comedy can and should push boundaries. Sometimes it should make people think and re-examine the world around us. Jokes were made around 9/11, but the ones that worked dealt with our fears, the new changes we were experiencing such as increased airport security, not joking about people who had died or lost loved ones in the tragedy.

Back to the Lindy/Jim discussion, I’m sure Jim is a good, intelligent guy, but during the segment he said something to the effect of the audience knows it’s a joke. The audience knows it’s terrible and you wouldn’t actually do that. Um, do they? Have you been on Twitter? Read the news about Steubenville? A lot of people don’t actually get your jokes. They think terrible things about minorities, women, gays, etc. They are not laughing for the reasons you think they are. It reminds me of a conversation I saw on Oprah between her and Dave Chappelle. Part of the reason he stopped doing his show because he realized the audience wasn’t receiving it the way he intended. The wrong people were laughing for the wrong reasons. Now, that doesn’t mean don’t say anything because some idiot out there might take it the wrong way, but maybe just take it into consideration?

I’m not someone who is for censoring everything, really. I am not saying comedy has to be “clean.” To reiterate, I am not humourless. I laugh at a lot of things, trust me. I get jokes. I like edgy comedy – when it is actually making social commentary, not when it’s someone just saying things for shock value. People are using the example of comedians like George Carlin and Richard Pryor in the debate – oh please, most of the comedians in question are not even remotely of that calibre. Also, there is a huge difference in someone using their own experiences, cultural or otherwise to make a joke. As West has stated, “A person making fun of issues within their own cultural group—issues that they intimately and viscerally understand and are affected by—is not the same as you making fun of a cultural group in whose oppression your cultural group is complicit. Basically, be careful when you’re handling other people’s valuables.”

When I was in high school I used to say works like “gay” and “retarded” and so did my friends and we NEVER meant them in a derogatory way, we meant them to say “that sucks.” But guess what, we grew up and learned the power of words. I don’t use those words anymore even if I never meant them in a harmful way – the connotation was still there. If you are intelligent, thoughtful and have real things to say, you can come up with something better than rape being a punch line. That’s not to say there can’t be a well done, funny joke about rape – but where it’s commenting on rape culture and criticizing rapists, NOT those who have been raped.

Being white, I would never tell a person of colour not to be offended by a joke about race. I don’t really think a bunch of guys should be the authority on whether or not rape jokes are okay. Just so you know being female, on the internet and having an opinion on anything from politics to video games is no walk in the park. There are people out there who actively try to destroy the careers of women, as well as threaten the lives of these women and their loved ones because they are actively out there with their opinions online while being female. Yes, celebrities have to deal with crazy people online, but the people I’m talking about are not celebrities – they are average people without the resources to protect themselves and stop the constant harassment and defamation they receive. Once again, case in point.

Yes, I get that someone may always be offended by what you say and you can’t tailor your comedy career around not stepping on everyone’s toes, but when it comes to talking about rape and talking about women, please listen. Just take a look at the internet commentary around the Steubenville and the Rehtaeh Parsons case. Victim-blaming and rape apologies came not just from anonymous internet commenters, but from actual established media outlets like CNN and the National Post. Last summer in Toronto there was a string of sexual assaults in the Christie Pitts area. I ask of comedians so worried about their craft (which once again, no one is actually stopping you from saying whatever you want to say), do you walk with your keys between your hands to easily defend yourself against an attacker every time you walk home and it’s not broad daylight? Do you and your friends always text each other to ensure you have all arrived home safely any time you leave one place and return to your respective homes? Does your family members often tell you “Don’t walk home alone!!!!” (which by the way would make working and living life in general impossible). There’s danger in walking while being a freaking woman, okay?

I don’t get the need to hold on to the “right” to make rape jokes – do you really love it that much?! Don’t tell me it’s about free speech. Just because you can do or say something, doesn’t mean you should. That’s part of being an adult. Free speech is important, but it’s not a shield to cowardly hide behind when someone calls you out for your bullsh#t. If you’re a good comedian you’ll come up with something actually funny and smart to say without any of the terribleness that goes along with things like the act of rape. The criticism of rape jokes, at least from my point of view, is not to crucify, but to educate. In comedy, don’t comics work through their material to see what lands? People can make mistakes, but people can also learn from their mistakes. West herself has admitted to having used problematic language in the past in her own writing and how she would now do it differently. I’m going to drop a Maya Angelou quote here: “When you know better, you do better.” If you’re truly a talented comedian, then be better. Be better than a rape joke.

Sunday Song: Summer’s Coming

What was that – did Toronto just skip right over spring and enter into summer? We all may have been lamenting the prolonged winter we were suffering through a mere week or so ago, but that’s been long forgotten with the resurgence of sunshine. Patio season is here! Outdoor drinking, shopping and strolling the streets and baring our legs – I’ve been doing it all lately and have lots to I need to get the blog caught up with.

In lieu of a real update, I bring you a Sunday night song. I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Paramore’s latest album – it may be more poppy (but really, is that a bad thing?) but it’s also more mature. Their self-titled effort is a mixture of genres and sounds; its new wavish feel is the perfect summer soundtrack. Check out one of my favourite tracks, Last Hope, below.

It’s just a spark, but its enough to keep me going

New Music Tuesday

For me, there’s nothing greater than randomly stumbling across a song and within a few bars – sometimes, before a word is even sung – immediately knowing you love it.

This past weekend I came across this beautiful, melodic tune by Anderson East and Jill Andrews and I just had to share. The track is entitled Say Anything is currently available for download from Anderson East’s website. I will most definitely be checking out more music by these two incredible voices.