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.