Thursday, February 28, 2013

Another School Board Takes a Giant Step into the 21st Century

Yesterday, the St. Albert public school board voted to draft a policy on gender identity and sexual orientation. Yay! They are following the lead of the Edmonton Public School Board which happens to be the first and only in Alberta to have such a policy. See, this is the thing, people talk all the time about how backward Alberta is and yet in so many ways, it's so not true. Whenever I say that, people throw Bill 44 in my face. Okay, Bill 44 is stupid, unnecessary and truly morally reprehensible but the thing to remember is that it was our provincial government that passed that stupid bill, it was never voted on by the public. They did Bill 44 to try to pacify some vocal minorities that were pissed off about the addition of orientation to the Alberta Human Right Act. I'm not saying it was okay, it most certainly was not, all I'm saying is that I don't believe most Albertans supported that bill. In fact, the ATA opposed it and so did most teachers individually.

What public school teachers and administrators are doing in Alberta is something quite other than what they are doing in the legislature. The Edmonton Public School Board voted for, drafted and approved a policy specifically addressing their views on queer issues and how transgendered, gender queer and queer and questioning students are to be treated in schools. Their particular concern in this was to make sure that all students, but in particular queer and gender-queer students who are often the object of violence and bullying, are safe and supported in schools.

They not only went and ahead and did this, but they also then went to other school boards across the provinces and encouraged them to use their template and follow their example. Pretty cool, I think. Now St. Albert has taken them up on it.

Sure a written policy isn't the answer to all the problems within the school system but it's a major step in the right direction. It makes it clear to LGBTQQ students and their friends and families that they are supported by the school board and it gives them all some recourse when they aren't treated with respect and dignity. It can only help.

Good on you, St. Albert public school board.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Awkward Sexual Adventure and other Valentine's Movies

I went to the Metro (which, by the way, completely rocks and if you live in Edmonton and don't hang out there, you need to start now) last Friday and saw the movie 'My Awkward Sexual Adventure'. It's one of Canada's top ten movies of the year. It's playing again on Valentine's Day so that got me thinking about movies that would be good to watch on Valentine's Day.

Now if you are into traditionally romantic movies, you don't need me, look here. If you read this blog, you'll know that I am not traditional so my suggestions are for the more twisted view on what Valentine's Day might be.

Your best bet for V-Day is the Metro! At 7pm, they are playing Amelie. This French film which is fun and sweet and quirky and really must be seen. It's great for couples, a first date, or friends. At 9:30, they play My Awkward Sexual Adventure. This is not so sweet and tame as Amelie but not all that terribly raunchy either. There's a lot of nudity, which is good. It's a funny movie, mainly about character and about what we really want, not just in our sex lives but in life in general. It has a rather conventional ending, but because of all of the non-conventional stuff throughout, it's not so hard to take. The acting is lovely and the writing is good. But the toys are terrible - do not buy toys that you see in this movie. Their bondage gear is quite good though - I think they might have got it from Aslan.

Other suggestions:
Silver Linings Playbook - if you like romantic comedies, this is a really good one. The characters are complex and the story - while the same basic plot as a conventional romantic comedy - is actual complex. It treats people in a realistic way and is pretty truthful in the way is deals with mental health problems. If you are or ever have been somewhat nuts, you'll identify with this story. I think this is still in theatres but if not, the DVD is out so you can get it on TV on demand.

Sexual Chronicles of A French Family - I suppose this movie is romantic in a weird kind of way. It does show a lot of couples who seem to really love each other. There's lot of nudity and lots of sex but it's presented in a very direct way, with no shame at all. It's fascinating because of how different this French family is in the way they deal with their kids and sex. I caught this one on Netflix.

500 Days of Summer - this is a great one if you hate Valentine's Day or if don't hate it, you just think romantic love is bullshit. This movie takes the usual male/female paradigm and turns it on its head - with the guy being the hopeless romantic and the girl being the one who's just out for a good time. I think you can get this on netflix too.

Better Than Chocolate - hot, hot, hot - funny and lovely - watch it! It's an older movie - might be a little harder to find.

Crimes of Passion (1984) - this is messed up but hot in its own way. If you like twisted old movies that are so weird they teeter on the fence between really bad and really good, you'll like this. Not too much explicit sex but lots of implications of it - and lots of leather - and a very odd scene with a stiletto.

Sex and the City the Movie - Say whatever you want about this movie, it's the best girlfriend movie out there. If you are spending Valentine's Day with your best friends, get this and some cosmos.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - I finally just saw this movie a few weeks ago and it was not what I was expecting. If you are looking for something romantic that isn't cliche or predictable, this is it. The two main characters are interesting, quirky and likeable while at the same time, leading lives that put them on the bottom of the social strata. It's a beautiful little ode to loneliness, self-identify, and self-respect. And it ends up being sweet and romantic to boot.

What Dreams May Come - this is hands down the most romantic movie I've ever seen but also one of the scariest and darkest. If you are in the mood for a bit of soul-searching and a big 'ol bawl fest, watch this one. This is a great one to watch by yourself or with someone else who appreciates a sad movie.

and of course

Les Miserables - This might not strike you as the typical romantic movie but afterall, Les Mis is an ode to love. 'Remember the words that once were spoken - to love another person is to see the face of God'. Les Mis is about love of children, love of family, love of lovers, love of country, love of home - and defending those things to your death. See it with someone who loves musical theatre and is not afraid to get swept away. Great date movie and a great girlfriend movie. (and Enjolras is super hot)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hello Hype

Every toy news mag, site and blog I have looked at in the last week has featured the new JimmyJane toy called Hello Touch. Seriously, you can't get away from this thing. Absolutely everyone is talking about it. A psychologist friend just told me that the urologist she works with is telling people to buy this toy. So I thought I should put in my two cents on Jimmy Jane's 'Hello Touch'.

The first time I saw a picture of this toy, I immediately dismissed it. I knew right away that it was something we would never bother carrying. After almost 14 years in the toy biz, I can tell pretty quick when something is not worth my time. I would have ignored its existence altogether except that JimmyJane is such a wunderkind with the media that it's become quite impossible to ignore. So I haven't actually had this toy in my hands. Let's just get that out of the way to be fair. Never having seen this thing, I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

If you happen not to have seen it yet, this is it.

Oooh, ahhh! It's so space-aged! It straps to your fingers and makes them vibrate. The press releases on this toy are describing it as the best technological advance in toys in years. Really? There are two things wrong with that statement. First of all, there's this:

Seems somewhat similar doesn't it? This toy has been around since before I started working with toys. So I would beg to differ that it's all that terribly new. But that's not news for Jimmy Jane. Nothing they've done has been new. In fact the vast majority of their toys are actually exact replicas of other company's toys made for them by those manufacturers and packaged under the Jimmy Jane brand. Jimmy Jane is not the first name in innovation.

Then there's this:

This glove has a vibrator in every finger. This toy has been around for just over ten years.

So yeah, not all that new. One of my big beefs with Jimmy Jane is not just that they copy everybody else's designs, it's that they then put them in fancy packaging and think it justifies doubling the price. The yoni toy is $34. The Hello Touch is $67. The Fukuoku, which contains 5 vibrators instead of two and is much more powerful and durable, is $67.

I have some concerns about the Hello Touch. It seems like it would be very easy to break. The cords are small. I know how I treat my toys and I know better. It would probably last about two uses in my house. It also uses an extremely rare AAAA battery. It comes with one but of course, that's going to die eventually. AAAA batteries are very hard to find. For that reason alone, we won't carry this toy. A $67 toy that is essentially one use is not good value. I read a review that said that the buttons on the toy are hard to push - so it would be hard to control. I also have a problem with overly complicated toys. To use this thing, you have to strap three different parts to your hand. That may seem like no big deal, but when you just want to get on with it, that's a lot. This is kind of like the 'Fixsation' - that's a little vibe that fits into a garter type strap thing. I kind of liked the toy, it felt good. But it took me a good 15 minutes to get it all together and get the straps on straight. I've never used it again because of that. I also don't see a lot of multiple use potential with the Hello Touch. The vibes are teeny tiny and would really only worked when strapped to fingers. I like toys that can be used in a variety of ways.

So second, of all, on the innovation point, have the people who are claiming this is the most innovative toy in years ever seen this?

This is the Stonic Eins from FunFactory which actually moves back and forth. That's right. It moves! It pulsates, gyrates, physically moves in and out of you.

or this:

This is the Lelo Tiani - a toy with a wifi remote that responds to movement. It's the nintendo Wii of sex toys.

The Hello Touch can't even compete in the same playground as these toys in terms of innovation.

The hype on this toy is just that, hype. Having said that, Jimmy Jane does produce well built toys. I don't like the designs and I think they are overpriced but they are decent quality. So the Hello Touch is probably not junk like so many toys - it's probably just very fragile and would have to be treated with great care. I actively discourage people from buying Jimmy Jane toys but if this is one that you really think is right for you, it's likely to be all right. It's certainly not dangerous. You just might never be able to replace the battery.

Never buy into the hype around toys. The press is almost always because the company has good press connections, not because the toy is that good. Find a store that will put the toy in your hands so you can find out exactly what its all about before you buy it. Or a store like ours where they make considered decisions about which toys to get - you'll find that some of the most talked about toys in history aren't at the Tickle Trunk and there's a reason for that.