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Well, not too close but the floor tickets to Alice Cooper let me get about thirty feet from the stage. Could have pushed in closer but I was pretty comfortable and had a great view where I was. I started to complain about standing for two hours then remembered who was on stage. Alice Cooper is the same age as my mom.
I’m not a superfan, but 2016 seems to be taking a lot of celebrities off the touring list so I figured I would take the leap and see him, since I wasn’t sure I’d ever get another chance. I was not disappointed! The show was fun, very theatrical, and pretty much exactly as I expected. The playlist was a solid series of greatest hits plus a nice set late in the show where he paid tribute to Keith Moon, David Bowie, and Lemmy Kilmister with performances of Pinball Wizard, Suffragette City, and Ace of Spades.
They closed with School’s Out — filling the air with bubbles and feathers (which were actually tissue paper) — and I did wonder whether he gets bored of singing that song. They did one encore, Elect Me, complete with fighting presidential candidates.
I’m glad I went and saw the show. The audience was mostly courteous and well behaved and it felt like everything was right in the world to have Alice Cooper wish everyone a Happy Halloween on his way off stage.
This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada and I have the ingredients for a mostly traditional turkey dinner with pumpkin cheesecake awaiting me in the kitchen as I enjoy my morning coffee. I’ve done laundry and spent time reading about the state of the world today, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my life.
I am thankful that kiddo is with me today (she’ll go to her Dad’s for a thanksgiving meal tomorrow) and that aside from seasonal sniffles we are both healthy. I’m thankful for my extended chosen family of friends and that I could spend a little time with some of them last night and will see others tomorrow. Thankful too for those who reached out to me after yesterday’s emotional post.
I’m thankful that I have a home I can afford in this housing and rental market that seems to be strangling many people, and that I have food on my table and in my cupboards enough to last some time. Thankful that I could spend last weekend volunteering to help others in need and that I have enough energy and money to continue to give where I can.
Thanks to you, too, for reading.
WARNING: this is not light reading; if you do not wish to read about sexual assault, please click away. This is personal and in places graphic, but it is important; I need to add my voice.
Before going further, I recommend reading this post by Allison writes in which she challenges us to
… take a good long look at the women around you.
They’ve been grabbed by the pussy.
It’s happened to at least one of them, if not most. They’ve been touched in a non-consensual way and talked themselves out of the word assault.
Because the guy who did it was a friend, was a co-worker, was kidding, was flirting, etc.
It’s true. We have. I have.
This has to stop.
I’ve been at parties where people have squeezed my boobs. I’ve had my ass grabbed. I’ve been drunkenly kissed against my will. But those were small potatoes.
There is one person from my past, someone I once considered my best friend, who assaulted me in this insidious way that made me believe it was my fault. Not that I’d asked for it but that I’d suggested I wanted it or be down for it in some way.
He was driving me home after a night out with others but it was just him and me in his car, when he pulled over on a quiet street and before I could ask what was up, I looked over and saw that his dick was out, erect and not entirely welcome — an in-person dick pic before the era of smartphones.
I looked from his dick to his face, not sure whether to be frightened or to laugh. Then I saw his expression. He was dead serious.
“Come on. Suck me. Suck it,” he demanded.
We’d never, ever had any sexual interaction before and I was confused by his commands and his exposure. Add to this that I had been drinking a lot and so I wasn’t completely sure if I was just imagining it. In fact that’s what I told myself later.
Except I didn’t imagine it. I didn’t imagine him yelling, calling me a tease and a bitch, insisting that I suck him, and eventually grabbing my hair and pulling me into his crotch. I didn’t imagine the noises he made as he basically used me to jerk off. I didn’t imagine the bitter taste he left in my mouth.
We were nineteen or twenty years old. I felt that the friendship was valuable enough to salvage (it wasn’t — because clearly he did not respect me) and so I did what I could to hold it together. I still went to parties at his house and with our mutual friends, I celebrated birthdays and new jobs, we broke bread and shared meals often. Gradually I just somehow put that event, that night behind me. I convinced myself I had imagined it, or that somehow in my drunken state I had consented to this act (I didn’t). After I got married, and he moved away, we talked less often and eventually I found other reasons to just not talk to him at all. But among the handful of memories of him that still exist, that night is among the clearest. I still see that look in his eyes and hear the echoes of his demands.
I have only ever told a handful of people before and even though this is clearly sexual assault, I still excused his behavior because I was drunk, or maybe I had been teasing him, or maybe I really did want this (I mean, I didn’t try to open the car door. I didn’t just laugh in his face and say “put that away,” and I sure didn’t tell him afterward that I didn’t enjoy being used that way).
The thing is, this is what rape culture does: it normalizes sexual assault. It makes it seem like there is a grey area where none exists legally or morally. And now it has gotten so bad that one of the people with the best chance at landing the job of President of the United States of America is on record saying he can get away with stuff like this because he is famous and people are laughing it off as locker room talk.
No more. This is not OK. This is not acceptable behavior, not for anyone, celebrity, politician, or average Joe. We have to stop acting like it is.
Maybe I am showing my age, but when I hear whispers of “Mango…,” a part of my brain leaps to the SNL character played by Chris Kattan, the running gag being that the ambiguous character was irresistible to virtually everyone. The rest of my brain is simply saying “Eww,” because mango is not a fruit I enjoy.
So when every other cask at this year’s Great Candadian Beer Festival turned out to be mango-something-or-other, I started rolling my eyes at the flavour-of-the-hour. Not that it mattered, there were plenty of beers to try that had no trace of mango!
I’ve been to enough GCBFs now that I’ve tried a lot of the standard offerings — some breweries never seem to change up what is on tap — and I was looking for new and different. Aside from mango, sours were the popular brew this year (though often the two were combined). I attended with my two partners this year so, as a team, we would sometimes get three different brews from a booth and taste each of them. As a result of this plus some rather haphazard note-taking this year, my tasting notes aren’t as robust or orderly… but here are the overall results by brewery:
Axe and Barrel [Westshore]: I tried the Raspberry Sour. Nice colour and fruity scent and not nearly as pungent as some of the other sours I tasted. I could finish a full pint.
Brasserie Dunham [Dunham PQ]: The only brew I couldn’t come close to finishing was their Saison Cassis. More sour than most of the sours and with an overwhelming cough syrup aftertaste I couldn’t pawn this one off on either companion so it got dumped into the Royal Athletic Park grounds.
Bridge [North Vancouver]: Filled my glass with the Lemon Gin Saison which was a nice blend, the flavours played together well, but it was not a brew I’d ever order again. I also had a sip of the Blood Orange Wheat Ale and pulled a bitter beer face — the wheatiness was too pronounced for my palate.
Crannog Ales [Sorrento BC]: I tasted three of their offerings and all are recommendable! I filled my glass with The Other Hand Whiskey Ale which was tart but very smooth and I tasted the Backhand of God Stout which had rich chocolate and coffee notes — either of these I would be able to drink by the pint quite happily. The other one I tasted was their cask offering, Gael’s Blood Potato Ale, a red ale that was not quite to my taste as a red ale but I’d recommend it to others.
Driftwood [Victoria]: I tried the Latus Flanders Red a hearty deep sour, well balanced by the oak barrel aging.
Fernie Brewing [Fernie BC]: I was lured in by the promise of maple in their Sap Sucker Maple Porter which was a perfectly passable dark beer but I couldn’t detect either a note or aroma of maple. Disappointing and remarkably average.
Fuggles and Warlock [Richmond BC]: my very fave beer from this year’s festival was their The Last Strawberry Wit, a Belgian Wit with pureed strawberries and honey. Reminiscent of the best strawberry lemonade, the pale pink brew was the only one I would have had seconds if there were time. Long line was totally worth it. They also had on tap one of the best dark beers I tasted this year, Bean Me Up Espresso which has an amazing dark roast flavour thanks to Salt Spring Island coffee.
Granville Island Brewing [Vancouver]: Their cask this year was a Berliner Weisse, a light wheat ale which I tasted with a blackberry syrup added. Very pleasant, fruity and light; I could definitely drink a whole pint of that one.
Hoyne Brewing [Victoria] — my local fave: I ended the night with a glass of Dark Matter which is my go-to dark beer of choice year-round and a fitting way to toast the end of the festival for me this year.
Lighthouse Brewing [Esquimalt]: On offer was something I was very curious to try and happy that I did, a Coffee Lager. Normally, coffee pairs well with darker beers — stouts or porters — so I was curious what the effect would be in a lager. Well, if you consider Starbucks Blonde Roast or the ubiquitous Timmies, then this all makes sense. One sip and I was convinced: if Tim Hortons sold beer, it would taste like this. While it would never be my first pick for a coffee beer, I happily emptied my glass and I wouldn’t turn down a full pint. They also had the most beautiful painted kegs on display!
Philips Brewing [Victoria]: I tasted the beer one of my companions was brave enough to try, their cask was an Altbier with cardamom and cinnamon and while it smelled amazing, the taste left a lot to be desired. No chance I was filling even a 4 oz glass with that one.
Postmark [Vancouver]: another fruity beer here, this time a Raspberry Ale which smelled far stronger than it tasted. Overall average, I wouldn’t turn it down but wouldn’t order it myself.
Powell Street [Vancouver]: I adopted my companion’s choice of the Dry Hopped Sour, which was a peach sour. She couldn’t finish it, but I rather enjoyed the almost cloying canned-peach flavour that balanced the sourness of the underlying brew.
Ravens [Abbotsford]: I eagerly filled my glass with the English Dark Mild which promised toffee and hazelnut aromas in an earthy and hardy brew. Alas, with each sip the beer tasted progressively more bitter to me and by the time I got to the bottom of my glass I was definitely ready for something to clean my palate.
Steel & Oak [New Westminster]: I grabbed the Smoked Hefeweizen which was light and smoky and while I probably wouldn’t have picked out the banana note without the write-up in the guide it was definitely recognizable. I’d buy a bottle to enjoy as a nice summer evening beer.
Swans [Victoria]: having tried the Coconut Porter from Maui, I was curious about Swans’ take on that. It was good, not nearly as rich as the Maui version but, as my companion said, “The coconuts are probably a lot fresher in Hawaii.” Too true. I was content with the sip I had.
Twa Dogs [Victoria]: The Brewery arm of the new Victoria Caledonia Brewery and Distillery takes their brew inspiration from Robbie Burns. I selected the Holy Willie Porter which was a very nice, smooth, dark brew. Would happily drink a pint of that wherever it’s pouring.
Yellow Dog [Port Moody]: only a sip here of the Ginger Lime Gose cask. It was OK but happy I didn’t bother to fill a glass. (Sidebar: their webpage is still Coming Soon — since 2014 — and instead they are relying on a Facebook page. Hey if you need a website, I know someone who can help… )
PHEW! So that’s all of it. I went through 14 tokens (4 leftover from last year plus 10 I bought this year) and while I adopted one glass, I also dumped a glass but that is still just shy of 60 oz of beer! Already looking forward to next September.