Archive | May 2013

Violence Against Women – How Men Must Stand Up & Change Attitudes

Earlier in May I saw a great video posted on Upworthy, titled “A TED Talk That Might Turn Every Man Who Watches It Into A Feminist? It’s Pretty Fantastic.” Regardless of whether it has that desired affect, every man (and woman and child!) should watch it. The day I watched it, I shared it on Facebook with the accompanying text:

Caring deeply about issues like sexism (and racism, homophobia et al) is now not enough. Speaking out to start making a real change in peer culture to stop perpetrating bad behaviour from generation to generation is the only way forward. The more we all speak up, the more we push down behaviour that leads to abuse and violence. Such common sense right?

Even if only a few people that i’m friends with on Facebook watched it, it was important to share. The points that Jackson Katz  makes are so strong that I hope they start to permeate society sooner rather than later. I’ve been thinking about it a lot these last couple of days as another video (and blog post) have been doing the rounds. A young woman asked Sir Patrick Stewart a question at a convention about what he’s proud of outside of acting, and had mentioned him speaking out against domestic violence. His answer passionately covered many points of common sense just like Jackson Katz’s video did – it’s up to men to stop violence against women, and it’s up to society to realise the roots of violence and try to eliminate them. He spoke about how his mother had been treated by his father, and that even as paramedics came to help his mother they said things like “but you must have done something, an argument has to have two people” – following it up with no matter what, violence should never be the outcome of a disagreement.

I feel like if every single one of us, regardless of gender or class, took that with us, we would all benefit. Never turn to violence as a solution. If people could see the common sense in all of this, just imagine the change that would occur. I would say that it’s more likely many more people have seen the short video of Sir Patrick Stewart than they will have Jackson Katz’s TED Talk – I hope that it makes some men stop and think, and I hope it makes it possible for more young women to believe in themselves and not be blamed as victims, to be able to stand up and speak about what has happened to them like this young woman did with Sir Patrick Stewart at Comicpalooza. I urge all of you to watch these videos & move forward with the advice and common sense within & share that with the people in your lives! I am lucky to have never been a victim of gender violence but I know people who have, and the more of us – victims or allies – who speak out against it, the more likely societal change will be.

Berlin, 2002: Throwback Thursday

Back in 2002, I went on my first solo overseas jaunt. Brief stops in Frankfurt, Berlin & London/Cambridge, then off to Mexico, followed by flying home from LA. A whirlwind! I saw so many awesome places and things, but this visit to Berlin was amazing. I’d been studying German in high school, and followed up with a little more in University a couple of years before this trip. It was a very unique experience visiting somewhere you are familiar with the language, when it’s not English (Mexico was.. a different story!). I became enamoured with the city – its history, its personality and most of all the amazing museums everywhere. Thanks to this terrific first visit, I ended up going back a few times when I lived in London due to the proximity & relative cheapness of flights there. To this day I have wistful dreams of better German skills so I could run away and live in this beautiful city – for now it’ll remain a place i’ll always be excited to get a chance to go back and visit.


My travelling self posed in front of one of the remaining pieces of the Berlin wall.

Le Weekend

I feel like it’s been forever since TCAF, but it was only just the weekend gone before this holiday weekend just passed. I think i’m just wavering up and down with social exhaustion/anxiety a bit much to have time swinging by at a usual-feeling pace. I got out and about a reasonable amount this weekend at least, which was great. Lots of good things I can pinpoint when looking back, rather than just feeling overwhelmed with how blah I was at times.

Furthering my quest to make it a nice summer hangout, we got a nice patio set for our balcony; we then got the bikes off the balcony & in riding condition (greased chains, tires pumped etc) which is awesome.  Although, our building’s bike parking is a godawful mess & it’s so difficult to find a good spot to chain up (& having Adam’s bike in the apartment is more than enough already; wish we could get someone with a super ultra great drill to come & attach us a wall-mounted bike rack!).

We headed to the Toronto Islands on Sunday – specifically Ward’s Island, where there’s a disc golfing course. I had some beginner’s luck, but was fairly inconsistent. It was just nice to have a chance to wander around in the lovely outdoors on a beautiful sunny (but not too hot!) day. Even better were awesome wildlife sightings! At one point, searching for a lost disc in the scrub, I spotted a wee garter snake! And toward the end of our wandering, we had an osprey circle nearby & land gracefully in a tall tree near the fairway we were on. I wish I’d managed to snap some photos of that – instead, mostly Island-y stuff.

For lost discs! Ward’s Island, Toronto.

Adam driving down the fairway (spot the disc?)

Some of the rough scrub around the disc golf course, Ward’s Island

It’s gotten thunderstormy this week, but it’s still mostly nice. I hear this summer’s not supposed to be as brutal as Toronto’s last year (but really, i’m grateful summer lasts less than 5 months at a time here!). This week ahead bodes well for good hangouts and trying to get more settled into summer in the apartment. Perhaps a trip to Ikea.. I do also hope that the blogging flows as much as it has been already – it’s still a rocky road to settle back into a writing tone that’s not quite so conversational (like this for instance, seems like an email!) but we’ll get there. I hope to also figure out a little more how I can embed images in a less “long vertical line” & more gridlike, without having to upload them here (all these point to my Flickr account). Suggestions welcome!

International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, a movement that’s been going since 2004 – that I somehow didn’t know about until today, but I’m certainly glad exists! I do not identify as lesbian or bisexual, and I am cisgender. That doesn’t matter, because I identify as an ally to the LGBT community, to all by friends who are part of that community and part of my life.

I’m really lucky to currently live in a country (Canada) where you won’t be criminally persecuted for your sexual preferences, where it’s not against the law to live by the gender preference you feel most comfortable with. Same sex marriage has been law here for many years, which is more than I can say for my home country of Australia.

Although in some places there are no longer laws criminalising and marginalising homosexuality & transgender issues, people’s attitudes and the norm in society has a lot of catching up to do, which is why the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia is so important. I feel that it is moral to support the LGBT community. It is most certainly not moral to judge, harass & deny people basic human rights to be who they are because you don’t feel the same way as them, or religious dogma tells you it’s “wrong”. (A great tongue in cheek post from George Takei illustrates how foolish some reasoning behind homophobia can be.)

Be an ally: let people know it’s not okay to treat people poorly due to their preferences – be it in social situations, or be it written in law. Speak up when you hear someone being harassed, or even when you just hear people speaking in general perjorative terms. Like many other issues such as sexism & racism, attitudes must be changed by people making a positive example. Take this with you today, on the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, and every other day going forward and a difference will be made.

Throwback Thursday

I’ve been taking part semi-regularly in the ‘Throwback Thursday’ posts on Instagram for a while, and figured I should extend that to the blog now! This week I posted a photo from back in 2007. Thanks to the generosity of friends, I was able to fly from Brisbane to Melbourne and attend a preview screening of Hot Fuzz. After the screening (such a great film) there was a signing and I proceeded along the line getting my Spaced box set signed. I kind of babbled senselessly at Edgar Wright (far left), got a bit more chatty with Nick Frost (in the middle) and by the time I got to Simon Pegg I was feeling much more at ease. At least by the time I got this photo taken with my friend Immy I didn’t look stunned like a deer in headlights. I’m not great at meeting celeb-type people, but this was such a fantastic evening between the screening & just being in a cinema full of like-minded nerds I didn’t really mind (past the babbling..)

Me (on the front left) with my friend Immy and some dudes.

Sunshine promises

Spring’s been a sort of a will it/won’t it sort of thing in Toronto these last few weeks. Winter clung on like a piece of gum to our collective shoe when all we wanted was to don shorts and skirts and sit on patios. Then it sort of skipped ahead to more summery weather, forgetting that spring should’ve been next. To top it all off it got bloody chilly again this past weekend, including a frost warning (!) which meant all my recently purchased plants, yet to be planted, needed to come live inside for a bit.

Seedlings cowering on the windowsill inside.

I knew that patience would be best, so I left it until it was definitely warm enough to be comfortable & not chilly out on the balcony. I spent this morning getting everything properly sorted, watered and basking in the sun. Red chilis, cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, lemon thyme & a few pretty flowers. One I don’t know, and the others are gerberas – my mum had a lot of gerberas in our garden when I was a kid and I have a fondness for them – plus, it’s really all that’ll cut it here seeing as the rest of the fare from my childhood generally won’t (hibiscus, frangipani, bottle brushes, birds of paradise.. nope).

Not a glamourous shot, but you get the idea.

As I was feeling pretty productive, I also decided to try and clean the bikes up after being stored on the balcony all winter long, and give their chains some grease in hopes that they’ll be rideable sooner rather than later once we top up their tires. I’m looking forward to the ease of transit that biking affords (although not dealing with shitty drivers – I wish there were more bike lanes in Toronto!).

Get ready for summer, bikes!


And for good measure, here’s what you see when you peer downtown from our balcony. Adam’s set to dangle off the side of the CN Tower today doing the Edge Walk, so I hope the weather stays nice for him!

Blue skies.

Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) 2013

I realised as I stood in line outside the Toronto Reference Library this past Saturday morning that this year is the fourth TCAF i’ve attended! I thought i’d done my math wrong, but no. (I even checked and discovered I have photos from back in 2010 (among others), when the crowds were oh so less overwhelming.)

But even though I’m still enthusiastic about the amazingness of this (free!) event – the calibre of exhibitors, the awesome programming, the wonderful panels – I spent less time at TCAF this year than any year before. It really boiled down to personal reasons – lack of spending money & anxiety due to crowds. I missed one of the two panels I wanted to see (the Machine of Death Pictionary one) too, which bummed me out. I did see the other, the Adventure Time panel, which was great. Very neat to see some of the webcomics folks i’ve been reading for a few years talking about working on these projects that aren’t their own creations but having a great time with it anyhow.

Lack of disposable income for me meant a much smaller haul this year, pictured below (i’ve watched my TCAF purchases diminish constantly over these four years, alas), but I am ultra happy with what I got. I also got to wander with my good friend Candice, which was great as she’s a terrific artist who was in awe of all the shiny things and amazingness. I did a quick circle with Adam on Sunday morning too, and we got a chance to check out some of the neat “Comics vs Games” projects on offer (he’s playing “Framed” below).

I’m going to find an empty jar & start putting in spare change so next year I can go to town and get some really cool stuff. (Mostly i’m saving up in anticipation of the next Beartato book. Holy moly I love those books!)

The main floor of TCAF on Saturday afternoon.

Adam trying ‘Framed’

My TCAF haul. Small, but lovely. Beartato book 3, Scott C’s Great Showdowns & a gorgeous gloomy print by Irma Kniivila.




Chris Hadfield: most awesome astronaut? Definitely most awesome online presence of an astronaut!

Commander Chris Hadfield is coming home from the International Space Station (ISS) today – before his trip, he posted this video. The guy made what is essentially a totally awesome music video in space. It’s amazing and exciting how he’s been engaging with folks down here on earth in his short time on the ISS.

Through regular videos and posting updates & photos on Twitter, he’s done a very simple thing. He’s reached out on the internet (in space! the future is great) with engaging content because he’s enthusiastic about what he’s seeing and he’s doing. It’s super cool to see what goes on up there, how stuff works in space – and let’s face it, the gorgeous views in the photos he posts are pretty awe-inspiring.

The only thing really missing from making this a 100% perfect example of how social media can be awesome is the lack of back and forth of responding to people (although it’s understandable considering his particular situation, and not fair to expect his support team to speak for him); they do retweet a lot of neat stuff though. It’s been a great thing to see the progression of Cmdr Hadfield’s sharing of his experiences and sights from way up there. I hope this has set the social media/sharing bar high enough for people to want to aspire to it!

Having dabbled in social media for a business, I’ve made it a point to not always be trying to sell something – don’t always make things one-sided, let there be a conversation and make sure you listen to what people have to say (good or bad!). Share cool stuff, be enthusiastic, don’t be so narrowly focussed on yourself/your business that you’re unaware of the awesome sphere around you in social networks. This is more likely to foster a good online relationship with peers & customers, and only do good things for your reputation online & off. 

If you’ve not been fortunate enough to be seeing what Cmdr Hadfield’s been posting along his journey, make sure to retrospectively check it out. And then take some positive thoughts out into the social sphere online – share, engage & be enthusiastic when you’re talking about something or with someone. It’s so easy to make social media awesome.


So, here’s the thing. (As in, this is it.) I’ve had a bunch of other things and tried to find my voice & place elsewhere before (the last regular ‘blogging’ I did was a photo-a-day project on a now defunct Posterous page), but now this is the place. It’s all the stuff, all the bits and pieces I like/do/think. I’ve tried focussing before, and it went nowhere. If I want to post reviews from a film festival, tell you all about the board games i’m playing, wax lyrical on feminism (or veganism or racism or myriad other isms), share a neat thing, brain dump or any of those things, it’ll all go here. I think that’s gonna work. The Whole Nicole. Now, have a photo!

Terra Mystica, silhouetted