GPS: Bloor St, Toronto

I love walking past this place


Imagine the lovely lords and ladies clanking onto the stage, exciting the peasantry by pulling off vambraces, greaves, starting with a sultry kick to send a solid steel sabatons crunching the front row. That would be a real Gentlemen’s club, because you get a much more respectful audience when hurling your clothes can cause serious injury. I’ll never go inside. This is the one situation where naked sexiness would be an active disappointment.

The way strip clubs are always built to be utterly impenetrable to light only adds to the feeling of a carnal castle. It’s an extreme case of the shared function of clothes and buildings: all of the protection from strangers and the elements has been offloaded onto the building, freeing those inside from needing clothes at all.

Bloor also has the greatest thrift-shop name ever:


Alas, it’s one of the crappy universes killed off by the DC New 52, a universe of deeply disappointing shirts. They haven’t so much ransacked the universe as waited by its trash until they were sure even the rodents didn’t want anything that was left. But it’s still a hell of a name.

Drinking Real Virtual Whisky

The brain is such an advanced problem-solving system it can decide to make things worse instead. People will spend five minutes agonizing over sandwich toppings and not one second wondering why everyone else in the queue hates them. I used to spend longer working out solutions the X-Men’s social problems than my own, which is why I came up with 5 Nerd Hacks To Make Me Less of a Jerk.

The most powerful is virtual whisky. Sometimes your idiocy ends with losing a ton of money, feeling like shit, regretting approximately everything and just wishing things colud go back to normal. The same symptoms as a terrific night out. So decide you’ve done that instead! You’ve already lost the money and time, but when you’re hungover you don’t waste time kicking yourself, spiraling your thoughts down the urinal of toxic regret. You just piss away all the poisons and get on with the painful process of making life livable again. Accepting pain, forgetting the past, and pushing through the hard work of enduring a new day. “Hungover” is the greatest self-help trick there is. Virtual whisky is a mental panacea. And last week I got to buy the real thing.

The Whisky Shop attendant in Heathrow now knows me by sight even though I only fly once a season. I don’t even buy much, one bottle being the duty-free limit, but I clearly buy that bottle with such joy and intensity that it sticks in his memory months later. Which is what a truly fine bottle of whisky should do. I bought particularly truly fine bottle last week, another Laphroaig variant, those exciting traveller exclusive beta-tests which say “Hey, Luke, we made another type of your favorite fluid just for you.”

And that’s just a bonus of long-distance flying. Which is fantastic. A flying Faraday café, an electromagnetically-shielded isolation chamber where they serve you drinks so that even “wanting beer” won’t interrupt eight hours of reading and movies. And you don’t have to get back to work afterwards! That was just the trip to take you to a fresh new land full of old friends and favorite restaurants. (Toronto turns multi-culturalism into a menu of the gods, as in “many powerful things based on thousands of years of different cultures which can still change your entire experience today.”)

And I forgot the whisky. It rolled off somewhere, and as I stood and shone to go enjoy myself in an earlier timezone – a low-key Irish accented Booster Gold – it escaped to some lucky new owner. I shouldn’t have bothered checking lost and found – that much optimism and ignorance of human nature could have reversed climate change – an an hour I was still stuck in the airport and entirely sober.

But worrying about my mistakes and loss would be anti-whisky. And if the worst that goes wrong when combining 150 cubic meters of aviation fuel, travelling at 250 meters per second, and a bottle of whisky, is that the whisky is gone, well. That was going to happen anyway. Instead I picture myself as a more honestly alcoholic Father Christmas helping someone else’s holiday, and enjoy the fact that I just created and experienced virtual whisky for real.

Especially since another item on that list was “Jetpack Sex”. I can’t wait.

New Civilization V Victories

Civilization isn’t so much a computer game as a wonder of the world, and has consumed more person-hours. The latest update adds an array of new victory conditions:

Irony Victory

Make Genghis Khan the most bullied person in history by always pre-emptively annihilating him, then get nuked by Mahatma Ghandi.

You Have Work In The Morning Victory

The game detects that it’s 4 am, that you have an alarm set for 7 am and surrenders in self defense. Because you won’t be able to afford electricity if you’re fired.

Multilingual Victory

The game realizes that you could have learned another language in the time you’ve been playing and starts switching to it. You’re so familiar with the options and structures you don’t really notice and become fluent.


Your civilization researches Computers, masters the Commerce tree, fills out the Freedom ideology, invents the game of Civilization, then ignores all the problems of their virtual world to distract themselves in a virtual-virtual world. You aren’t sure how you feel about the analogy.

The Murder

The filthy neon light flickered, harsh flashes across stinking trash in the dead-end alley. The panicked figure desperately searched the unforgiving bricks for an impossible exit. The chromed hammer clicked back. One fat bullet tore through a defenseless male chest. Stricken, staggering, scarlet, the slight figure fell, rich red blood pooling around the shuddering, struggling body, then one last long drawn-out, rattling, desperate, delaying, lingering, faltering, fading, ending breath.

The shooter checked the corpse, holstered her gun, and turned to leave. Getting him out of the way saved time. Verb smiled.

Adjective was dead.

Space Marines Do It Better

Pink clouds screamed past the drop pod. An energetic impurity in the atmosphere flared in the pod’s wake, bisecting the sky in a line of fire. This same impurity had driven the people of this world to construct a vast floating hive, where the resulting wealth had fostered impurities in their souls.

The drop pod punched through the upper tiers of the hive, smashing through layers of penthouse and pleasure dome. These noble heights had eschewed defense for luxury. So spoiled by wealth, so secure in their remote location, the lords of these heavenly spires had thought themselves above the need for war. But now war had fallen upon them.

Space marines exploded from the pod, cobalt blue through the rubbled grey of impact clouds, the thunder of bolt pistols cleansing anything foolish enough to bear weapons in their presence. The civilian population had already fled the city. Now the defending garrison shattered under the sledgehammer assault.

Sergeant Auctorem smashed through a defensive checkpoint barely worthy of the designation, lip curled in distaste behind his vox-grille as troops tumbled and scattered around him. These traitors were incapable of even the most elementary defense. Clearly non-locals, new to the hive and utterly ignorant of the defensive potential of confined urban assault, but that didn’t excuse their abysmal aim. Throne, they didn’t even use cover! They seemed to be ice-worlders, white armor more concerned with concealing the wearer than protecting them, so flimsy that an explosive bolt ending one soldier would wound two comrades.

He emptied his bolt pistol into an arriving squad – they charged through doors single file! – while checking the blinking auspex in his left hand. He indicated the gore-painted door.



The door disappeared in a flash of melta, power-armored figures pouring into the central cryo-facility before the smoke could collapse against clouds of freezing vapor. The chamber was a stark industrial coliseum. Two figures dueled on a ring around a central pit, but broke off to face the marines, power swords raised. Auctorem’s bolt pistol locked at the larger.

“In the name of the Emperor, you will submit!”

Face hidden behind a blasphemous insectoid mask, the black-clad figure spoke in a voice buzzing with the bass of mechanical augmentation.

“So, he suspects. Then the Emperor shall fall sooner than planned.”

“Blasphemy!” swore Auctorem, his fire held only by duty to their greater mission. “Submit to His Will!”

The smaller figure screamed as he charged.

“I’ll never submit!”

Bolts cracked the air but incredibly, impossibly, the youth advanced, power sword humming against the storm of death. Auctorem’s tactical mind targeted and analyzed the new threat factor.

Theoretical: blocking shots with a power sword would be a useful ability if you could persuade your opponent to fire only one shot at a time.

Practical: any defense dependent on your foe not doing their best to kill you is suicidal.

Marine Procursus proved the practical by add his own bolt fire. For an insane instant the youth still advanced, sword a blue blur, an impossible shield, before sheer weight of fire punched past. Even as one bolt was blocked a second exploded through the waif to fling his body backwards into the pit.

Insect-mask collapsed to his knees.


Auctorem switched aim but still held fire. He needed answers.

“The prisoner. Where is your —”

The scream of tearing metal as his right arm flung out to the side against the will of wearer and machine spirit, bolt pistol flung from his grip. His multilung slammed against the inside of his fused ribcage, desperately expanding to tear air through a suddenly constricting throat. His secondary heart boomed, double-pulse cannonading through his skull, but his mind thundered with only one word even as the other marines were punched backwards.

“WITCHERY!” Pure fury burst Auctorem’s last breath through the unnatural obstruction to curse the abominations inflicted on the Emperor’s galaxy. The pressure on his throat redoubled, crushing his larynx, an invisible vice ignoring his armored gorget to crush the life from his flesh.

Theoretical: an ability to bypass armor is a significant tactical advantage.

Practical: an ability dependent on your enemy patiently waiting to choke is flawed.

The floor shook under the thunder of his steps, or maybe it was his own heartbeats, both smashing in a relentless assault against an impossible force. His lungs were collapsing with unnatural swiftness, and it felt like that his head must surely be torn off, held in place only by his helm.

The red helm of an Ultramarines sergeant. Neither cease nor pause were possible.

The kneeling figure’s dark helmet exploded under Auctorem’s armored gauntlet. Plastek? Did these madmen care nothing for survival? A sucking hiss did for a curse as he considered the lack of prisoners, scanning the room for the most likely route. There. A cargo passage leading to the landing pads. He gestured forwards.


The city was in flames, survivors of the defending garrison in total rout. Ships screamed away from every launch pad. Auctorem shouldered through the doors to the target gantry (was nothing on this cursed world capable of defense?) where a ship shaped like a death-wordler’s tribal mask was already lifting off..

Procursus dropped to one knee, shouldering a rocket launcher and spitting death in the same smooth motion. The contrail speared the rising craft, exploding into flaming wreckage which rattled back to the pad. Auctorem strode into the inferno. Ruby eyes gazed into the burning death. There.

He dropped to one knee, palming the block of carbonite. Unscathed. He signaled the Thunderhawk to come collect their prize. They would return it to the Censura.

There the rogue would share his secret route to the heretics on Kessel.

Because it’s fun, because space marines do it better, and because anyone worrying about galaxies being long ago or far away should know time flows differently in the warp. You can continue to serve the Emperor by learning how Warhammer 40K Is The Most Metal Game Ever.

Striker Strikes. Which May In Retrospect Have Been Predictable

Neutrino is already known to our vets as “M4”, “THAT cat”, and various other capitalized keywords meaning “Get the reinforced gloves and don’t bother being nice”. He’s a more urgent reason to wear protection for rough physical contact thanan S&M brothel. Luckily today I was bringing friendly little Striker instead.

And he exploded.


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Honorary Fake Geek Girl

My “Sexist Superhero Costumes” piece recently came up on Cracked Classic, meaning  a new wave of retaliatory comments telling me I was enjoying comics wrong. Just like a wave, because they were exactly the same as all the ones before, and are completely unaware that their tide is going out. The funniest are a few people demanding to know if I actually read any of these comics I write about. To which the only possible response is no,  I write tens of thousands of words about loving comics because my cats read them and purr their thoughts into my skull at night, cursing a world which left them incapable of typing up their own opinions.

Worst. Primate psychic transducer between feline neurons and global internet communication system. Ever.

Worst. Primate psychic transducer between feline neurons and global internet communication system. Ever.

But I must be writing in the right direction because I realized: the assholes are making me an honorary fake geek girl. They’re pulling the “prove yourself” bullshit, the laziest of exclusionary tactics. The question automatically elevates the asker to the position of authority, judge, gatekeeper, and person whose opinion you give a dead Gelth’s ass about. (Note: Gelth are gaseous and thus tragically assless.)

Making the mistake of responding to these self-styled comiscstapo quickly devolves into minutiae based on the ridiculous fiction that a true comics fan is a walking database. No, a true comics fan being someone who likes comics. That’s it and all. Memorizing issue numbers has always been bullshit, but in an age of wikis it’s outright embarrassing.

The question is a decoy designed to prevent you from getting on with enjoying yourself, and any response automatically implies subservience and wasted time. Lucklily you can reverse its polarity to save your time: anyone who asks it isn’t worth it.

Other responses to “Do you even read the comics?”

  • “Yes, my favorite issue is fuck you. That’s the one where you go get fucked. It’s a fiction.”
  • “Yes, but because I’m not a boy I have to keep harvesting fresh testicles to open the magical male-only pages. Hey, come over here a minute.”
  • “Do you even talk to humans?”
  • “No, I’ve been faking, I’m actually an infinite number of monkeys controlling a giant robot suit from the Micro-World.”
  • “Oh no, I’ve been found out!” Start collapsing to the ground, desperately flailing and grabbing at them. “Look what you’ve done! What a world! I’m melting! MELTIIIIIIING!”
  • “Do YOU even read the comics?”
  • Laugh directly in their faces. Laugh not because they’re weak, because what they’re doing does have effects (they really are damaging the industry), but laugh anyway because laughter is stronger.

Of course the assholes are wrong. Assholes usually are. I’m not an honorary fake geek girl, because I don’t have to put up with one tenth of a percent of the bullshit the real geek girls get. So I call out these assholes who think you can only be a true fan if you have a little testicular handbag. Because every man does hand that bag, but it’s no excuse for being a dick.


The Tragedy of Tofu

I’m the least likely proponent of tofu outside of sentient soy plants. I’m omnivorous, because that’s what humans are, but if I loved meat any harder they’d make horror movies about me. I love the taste of meat, my body is made of meat, and my only moral objection to cannibalism is that going to jail would reduce my net flesh consumption. I once chewed through a lamb’s face.

When the global food system collapses and food riots beg for scraps of protein, I’ll be the one crying “Hey, don’t process this Soylent Green so much, give us something we can get get our teeth into!” We are meat machines and the closest I’ve come to an ethereal soul is the smell of frying bacon. Which is better.

And I’m defending tofu.

Coagulated soy milk is far too wonderful for such an awful description. Food is much more than flavor. The truth is in texture and tofu is a textural rainbow, a spectrum of substance from soft to sinewy through every other edible feeling in a festival of frangibility. Soft, skin, frozen, soy sliced and layered so that you’re eating the texture of running your thumb along on old book with “hundreds of pages” tofu (bai ye). It’s a masticable metamaterial, a food so flexible we can build your own sensation structures instead of accepting what nature leaves lying around.

Opponents accuse it of flavorlessness. It’s flavorless like a canvas is colorless, allowing you to paint pictures of bright colors or subtle beauty. And it’s flavorless like a canvas is colorless, in that of course it’s not. That creamy base is an essential part of what follows, one subtle enough to add to the art without interfering.

And if you’re interested in feeding the species as well as your self, it’s excellently efficient. Why is such a wonderstuff mocked so often?

Because it was conscripted into a stupid war it was never meant to fight. It was shoved into center stage as a meat replacement by those who think that they’re in charge of other people’s digestive systems. Tofu isn’t better or worse than meat. Tofu isn’t meat at all. If you sold chocolate as body armor everyone would hate it, even though being covered in chocolate and penetrated can be incredible fun. It’s just not that edible material’s job.

Tofu’s textural flexibility means it can make an excellent meat-methadone for those going cold turkey (and cold cow, cold chicken, cold pig), but stacking it up against the real thing is like attacking a UFC champion with one of his own life-size cardboard cutouts: the processed plant fibres simply can’t stand up against the hormone fuelled flesh-violence.

And it shouldn’t have to. Because tofu can offer so much more than meat. And meat can offer so much more than tofu. More options are always better. So if you’re attacking meat, stop doing that. And if you’ve been avoiding tofu, learn to love food even more.

Consume more foodstrength with The Chicken Wing Suicides and The Glorious Meat Future.

Chewing Through A Lamb’s Face

Could you eat lamb after looking into its cute little eyes? I can unequivocally answer yes, because I ate one while looking, and then ate the eyes as well. Which is about as definitively as you can defeat a rhetorical question. And a lamb.

Still, you are meant to turn moral challenges into inner strength. 

I was touring China with the beautiful Dr X, visiting her friends and family and taking every opportunity to try new food. We combined all three in a family friend’s lamb restaurant. As guests we had to try the special, which sounds like “having” to accept free money, but even free food became worrying when X turned away to avoid even looking at it. This is the wonderful woman who’d taught me to eat snake (meat corn-on-the-cob!), cicadas (self-replicating chewy popcorn!), even tofu (this one took a while, but I learned to like it). She’s a published expert in Chinese cuisine and wanted no part of this. She informed me that I was bigger, I ate more, and I didn’t speak the language, so I was eating the special.

Half a lamb’s face landed on the table. But I didn’t owe  money to a discount mafia, so this must be the special. Luckily lambs are built out of meat so I toughened up, channeled the revenge of grass, and started chewing my way through layers of ruminant face. This wasn’t some flattened face-shaped fat laid out for knife and fork. This was intended to be gripped and ground through, a culinary experience designed by someone who thinks mere headbutting is too impersonal. This was someone who thought a staring competition was Mortal Kombat. 

Remember that scene where Indiana Jones is served a soup of staring eyeballs? Luxury! That’s the ocular equivalent of cutting the crusts off your sandwiches. My eyeball was served still inside the sector of sheep skull. Chewing your own way in only adds to the accomplishment. Most food fills your body, but this fills your soul. You take less shit. You get a certain look on your face when it has pulled something else’s apart, a certain cut of the jaw that has cut through extraocular muscles, and it’s a look  other walkingmeats subconsciously beware when approaching to ask you something.

I closed in on the eye that’s the prize, and experienced the most appalling sensation in culinary weapons technology. Everyone knows that food has taste. Gourmands understand the true joy of texture. But this was the first food with a tectonic, I bite down and it pops with a soul-shaking wave unleashed through my skull, every nerve and fiber flinching at invisible acoustics epicentered on the ex-eyeball. The pulse vibrates past my nose and up into my own eyes, which both scream “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT” while going cross-eyed to try to see if their twin is still there.

For two weeks afterwards I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Not because I felt shame, but because I felt the windows to their soul exploding in floods of hot goo.

New food is the most intense experience it’s possible to have. Babies put everything in their mouths for a reason: it’s not just a feeding hole, it’s an entire analytical chamber wired directly into your brain stem, the most sophisticated array of biochemical sensualors ever built. As we grow we learn how to use our other senses, but the narrow inputs of sight and sound must be learned, turning barks, squiggles, and context into something we think we should care about. Taste and texture are what we’re made of, and always have been, and the mouth still floods us with experience every time it floods with saliva. 

I learned more about myself and all life from that plate than most people get from zen monastaries, and I got to keep eating meat the whole time. 

It was amazing. Maybe next time I’ll try goat. 

Here’s looking at you, kid.

DC Double-D-Down On Softcore Cover


Behold the cover of Red Hood and the Outlaws #32, where they double-D-down on their bold vision of guys being super-tough-awesome while women do nothing but offer sex. To anyone passing by.

People have talked about the appallingly simple sexualization of Starfire before, and the comic’s response isn’t “screw you“, it’s “screw her, that’s what she’s there for“. They took one of the only sexually liberated characters in DC — hell, one of the only superheroes who could convincingly claim to know where new heroes come from — and turned her into a robotic sex socket. The closest her reboot comes to agency is demanding men stop boring her with details like “names” before banging her.

This cover busts beyond comics into the sort of stupid car mag which uses women as an accessory because they’ve come up with an amazing new joke about dangerous curves. The sort of writer who uses PHWOAAAAR unironically, and to describe what an engine sounds like. And if those weapons were any more phallicly placed they’d be firing used tissues.

Look at Jason and Roy – the Outlaws know they’re being drawn right now, and the all responded by getting their weapons out. But Koriand’r’s used to this by now: whenever Lobdell’s around she just lies back and thinks of Tamaran.

More on this with The 5 Most Ridiculously Sexist Superhero Costumes and The Big Balls of Bioshock Saviours.