August 07, 2016

The Mothership


Cow with fingers

Phew, it's been a while since I've updated. I'm just chronically exhausted.

Anyway, more interactions with my mother.

Tory: Look Mum, I drew a cow with fingers.
Mum: Cows don't have fingers?
T: ... No.
M: They have hooves.
T: Yeah!
M: Why did you draw a cow with fingers then?
T: Because I thought it was funny.

June 14, 2016

Mattie, June and the Other Room



chillin' like a villain.

I've spent a good deal of time writing drafts for this stupid story. One always has such trouble getting the words out just so.

The humans triumph (?) this time.

Mattie, June and the Other Room

Even though June had driven almost two hours from Tenby to Cardiff Airport for a 7 a.m. flight to Toronto with a three-hour layover in Amsterdam, she and Mattie were awake well past midnight discussing the finer points of cross-stitching.

June was not paying attention to Mattie's meandering monologue about her latest monstrosity, or "piece," as she optimistically called it. There was something far more interesting over Mattie's shoulder.

"Say," June said, pointing it out, "I don't think you've shown me that room yet."

"What, you mean the kitchen?"

June did not mean the kitchen; she was perfectly aware of its location. "Other side, behind that window. Strange place for a room, now that I think about it."

"June, there's nothing behind that window. It's just the backyard."

"Mat, I think I'd know a room if I saw one. That is a room."

The hairs on the back of Mattie's neck stood on end as if someone was watching her, and suddenly, she was very awake. A cold wave of panic crashed into her, settling in the pit of her stomach. She shook herself, mentally berated herself for being utterly ridiculous and, with a steadying breath, turned to look.

For a single, heart-stopping moment, she saw it: an entire Other Room she had never, in the two years she had lived in that house, seen before.

It did, however, seem oddly familiar.

Warm relief rushed through her as she recognised it. "That," she said, "is just a reflection. Of, y'know, this room. Since it's dark out there and the light's in here and physics..."

June felt rather foolish. "Sorry, I should've known."

Mattie hastened to assure her that no, she wasn't stupid; that it was all perfectly understandable, this being a strange new place for her; and besides, the living room was so terribly dim, anyone could have made the same mistake.

They shared a good chuckle over their mutual silliness, agreed that they were both too tired, and then, they turned in for the night.

June 08, 2016


I don't remember the context.

A couple months ago, I drew this BANANAS AF picture. I think the sole reason was to post it on my friend's [Facebook] wall. I printed two copies of it out on good cardstock and one of them keeps me company at work.


As a [very long] side note, I've been watching lots of (too much) television lately, like a healthy, non-sedentary human bean. Wynonna Earp and Supergirl have both received mixed reactions from critics...

... but, like, they're both extremely enjoyable? The first half of Supergirl, and I'm only a little over halfway through, was extremely engaging. I managed to finish Wynonna Earp in under a week. They feel like more modern versions of Xena and Buffy—female-led superhero shows with spotty acting, extreme cheesiness, etc. None of the dark and gritty nonsense some shows try to sell; just good, mostly clean fun.

This isn't to say, of course, that they don't discuss bigger issues. They have all the classic elements: family, morality, relationships... dead parents. The only difference is that the main characters don't get crapped on, no one is fridged, everyone is treated with some goddamn respect (I'm looking at you, The 100 and Supernatural).

Also, Calista Flockhart is in Supergirl and redeems herself from the disaster also known as Ally McBeal.

(To be quite honest, I actually enjoyed Ally McBeal for about a season. I didn't know any better at the time. I haven't kept up with Calista Flockhart, but I sincerely hope she's happy and healthy.)


Supergirl AND Melissa Benoist are cinnamon rolls, too good, too pure for this world.

Also also, at least one of the actors on Wynonna Earp is Canadian and a Jeen O'Brien song was played in one episode. Four for you Wynonna Earp; you go Wynonna Earp.

Wynonna Earp

There aren't any good cast photos? This is very confusing?

Of course, Supergirl was on the brink of being cancelled. Last I heard, it was moving to the CW, meaning that it will continue. Some fans already fear that the CW will corrupt the show's wholesome goodness, but I'll wait and see...


Back to the bananas. The other day, my friend reminded me that I had drawn BANANAS AF, so I made a little sequel:


It became a bit meta.

June 02, 2016

Charlottetown, PE: The Bake Sale


Monk Buns, amirite?

In this edition of Tory's Slightly Disastrous Travels, Tory encounters something so heartwarming that even her cold, dead heart was a little touched.

Those rolls ("monk buns") were made by student monks at the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS), founded by Master Zhen-Ru, in Prince Edward Island. They were, from what I gathered, warmly welcomed when they first moved to the Island and have been treated with great kindness ever since; and so, they work hard to give back to the community.

The history of these rolls can be found HERE.

I participated in a bake sale at my new job. All money raised went to a colleague who is currently battling cancer. I'd never met her before, and my supervisor basically voluntold me to help out (of course, I didn't mind).

You guys. I have never seen so many baked goods in a single place before. The sale was held in a board room with a one of those long elliptic conference tables, and it was covered in sugary goodness (and a couple loaves of bread and a single jar of salsa (?)). I cannot impress upon you, Dear Reader, how much goddamn food there was. The fundraiser was a huge success, or so I hear.

As for the rolls, the monks had somehow gotten word of the fundraiser. They donated over 100 rolls, literal boxes of them. How amazing is that?

May 27, 2016

Charlottetown, PE: Public Transit


Large Eggs

Welcome to the very first edition of Tory's Slightly Disastrous Travels, in which Tory, a.k.a. a Broke Student, a.k.a. Myself, moves to Charlottetown, PE for the summer to work for the feds.

After a good night's rest, I set off for Toronto Pearson at around 5:30 a.m.

Just kidding, I slept for maybe an hour. I did set off for Pearson at 5:30 though, and it was not fun. Also, I forgot to take my shoes off at Security. I taxied from the Charlottetown airport to the room I'm subletting for the next three months. Then, I went to the Charlottetown Mall, a bustling hub located just 10 minutes from downtown Charlottetown.

Just kidding. On such a tiny island, 10 minutes might as well be the difference between Port Hope and Toronto. I picked up some essentials from the mall, dropped them off at the house, then hopped on a bus downtown.

I find myself discussing public transit more often than the average person, but it really is quite interesting. Maybe I'll go digging into its history for a post.

Anyway, one of my favourite things about Charlottetown is that there are two bus routes: one that travels the town's perimeter and one that travels right down the middle.

And the busses! Look at these things!


I figured they were supposed to resemble trams for the aesthetics, to fit in with the downtown charm, but after seeing the interior, I wouldn't be surprised if they were in fact trams, re-engineered to run independently.

I apologise for how creepy this shot seems.

They have these extremely uncomfortable wooden benches pretending to be seats, and when passengers are picked up, the drivers screech to a halt (they are invariably speeding) and fling the doors open at the same time. If you're coordinated enough, you could leap in and the driver wouldn't even have to stop.

I need to take a very long nap now.

May 07, 2016

Television Binge


In order to make up for my disastrous semester (I don't know if it was disastrous or not; I haven't checked yet), I have been on a television binge.

More specifically, I've been on a mostly BBC binge.

You guys. My dear Reader(s). Friends, Romans, countrymen. The BBC is quite nearly my absolute most favourite thing right now. Keeping in mind that these are shows I've already started in the distant past, here's a list of shows that I've raced through in the past few weeks:

Idris Elba as John Luther, my fave. My other fave is his friendship with Alice Morgan.

Scott & Bailey
Bailey is honestly one of the least likeable characters I've watched on my binge.

Father Brown
I've read the Father Brown stories, and the show is not quite the same. Lady Felicia discovering dead bodies is an oddly delightful trope.

Happy Valley
Sarah Lancashire's bangs give me life.

Call the Midwife
While the entire cast isn't captured here, this screencap contains many elements of the show: period midwife costumes, food, cardigans, and, most important of all, tea.

You guys (again). Let's talk about Call the Midwife for a moment. It has such a huge cast—upwards of fifteen "main" characters over five seasons—and yet, I remember everyone's names and I actually care (!) about them. This has never happened to me before, and I'm not sure what to do about it.

- The kettle is put on at least once per episode.
- Sister Monica Joan is wonderful and steals every single scene she's in ('I have put Plato here, next to Mr. Freud, so they can be companions in their ignorance'.)
- The nurses trying to extricate themselves from family arguments during home visits is an excellent trope.
- Unlike many other shows, the characters don't make one terrible decision after another in order to manufacture drama, and it's mind-blowing and beautiful.
- Their accents! [West] Welsh for characters from Pembrokeshire! Upper RP for characters from upper-middle-class families! Cockney, and variations thereof, for all the characters living in the East End! And many more!

Series 5 aired at the beginning of this year, and the next episode is the Christmas special, which is months away. I'm pretty pumped for it.

April 12, 2016

À propos : Apophenia?


Drawn with a fountain pen!
It has been many days, weeks even, since I've updated. There are a couple reasons for this:

1. I am busy. School, dear Reader(s). It makes one quite busy.

2. I have no ideas.

Unfortunately, my writer's block has extended too far. Since the last post I made, I have wondered if I value quality or quantity. Like many other bloggers who have taken a hiatus, I eventually chose quality.

But fear not! I have found new, very interesting things to ramble about! I bring an oft-discussed topic to the table today:

À propos: Apophenia

What is it?

Apophenia is the human tendency to find "familiar", or recognisable, patterns in disorder. Take, for example, an image like this:

In brief, conspiracy theorists had a field day over this. Here was definitive proof of sentient (read: human-like) extraterrestrial life: a humanoid face carved into a rock on Mars.

A few (over 20) years later, NASA took a photo of the same formation.

Still vaguely face-like?
The face, it turns out, was a trick of light and shadows. More specifically, it is an example of a famous phenomenon called pareidolia, which is the human tendency to see a familiar image or hear a familiar sound in disorder. It is a result of the basic human craving for some contact when everyone else on this ridiculous planet already hates each other.

Just kidding.


Sounds the same

Very recently, I learned about this as the rather specific term "phonetic redundancy".

Ever heard of "backmasking"? Conspiracy theorists believe that if you play a recorded message, be it a speech or a song, backwards, the true intentions of the speaker or singer are revealed.

Here's a backmasking video from YouTube. Close your eyes and listen to this (no cheating!):

If your eyes were closed and you'd never heard this before, the backmasked sample probably sounded like a garbled load of nonsense. That, essentially, is what it is. However, some creative individuals have magically deciphered it. If you rewind to 0:26, you can see what they have elucidated.

I do want to point some things out. First of all, most of us need to know that we're listening for words, probably in our mother tongue. Second, some of us also need to know which specific words we're listening for.


Phonetic redundancy?

Backmasking, despite the interest it draws due to the general public's infatuation with secret codes and hidden messages, doesn't really interest me. Ultimately, it isn't practical—or even all that cool, once you realise it's just an illusion.

No, the best part of this is why pareidolia (and phonetic redundancy) exists.

Consider the spoken word. Different humans use different tones, accents, emphases, etc. Without at least some degree of phonetic redundancy, we wouldn't be able to understand each other. At all.

Imagine that! If we didn't have this innate ability to pick words that seem vaguely familiar out of the jumble of sound emitted from other people's mouths, we wouldn't be able to understand each other! That's astounding!

The concept isn't limited to humans. Other animals understand some degree of something like it too. After all, they have to understand and recognise each other. And on a cellular level, examples of "communication" redundancy can be found in cell signalling pathways and enzyme inhibition or activation!


Okay, that's it. Go forth and exist.

March 05, 2016

The Ottawa Snow


Repost from Facebook. It was snowing quite a bit the other day.

I've talked about Ottawa and the dismal state of its snow-clearing services before.

To be fair though, the snow accumulated very quickly.

To be unfair though, the sidewalk ploughs didn't even try. They left huge wheel tracks and a little furrow where the plough tip touched the snow... and then 15 cm snow ridges in between.


February 06, 2016

The Mouse Trap


According to an email from the assistant curator to staff at The Museum of Rural Life at the University of Reading, the dead mouse “was not described as being there on the database” in the listing description for the long-retired trap.
The "Perpetual Mouse Traps" joke has been made many times, but it's just so easy.

Two posts in a day! It must be Christmas! Or Ragnarok, whatever.

I saw this BuzzFeed article the other day. There is something nearly poetic about a mouse making its way into a 155-year-old mouse trap and dying.

Have a great week!

I Dreamed WHAT?



If you ever look at my Blogger profile and scroll to the bottom, you'll see the question and answer above. The question was randomly generated. The answer was apparently me on drugs.

Just kidding, I'm clean.

January 30, 2016

Run On, Sentence. Run On.


I drew a Fat Hen.

Have you ever gotten in a situation where you're just casually walking down the street and someone tries to overtake you—you can hear their footsteps getting closer and closer, and you can feel them breathing down your neck—and right as they're starting to pass you, you speed up, but only just enough to match their speed, and then they're awkwardly stuck beside you?

I have.

On purpose.

Because I am Evil.

January 23, 2016



Doodle of the week: Cocoon!

Here's a post that's been kicking around my drafts for a while. This is my grade 12 biology report, which we were free to present in any format we chose.

I, of course, chose poetry.

Most of my stories are tongue-in-cheek, and that was my intention here, although it got bogged down by the actual goal of the project (i.e. summarise my research). I remember being both inspired and terribly impressed by the size of John Milton's ego.

I guess writers tend to be a little vain.


January 20, 2016

Three More Short Vignettes


An actual conversation that happened. 

I figure I should just keep typing random words. They'll end up meaning something eventually.

1. The ChapStick®

The ChapStick® waited in the bowl of forgotten items on the little table by the front door.

"Hey honey," said the owner of the house, "can you clean this bowl out?" She was in the middle of summer cleaning frenzy.

"Sure," said her unfaithful husband. The ChapStick® knew he was unfaithful because it had seen his mistress. He had taken his mistress into the sanctum of the family home and sullied it, and the ChapStick® had witnessed everything.

He took the important items from the top of the bowl—the keys, the wallets, the garage-door opener—and dug through the rest of the items for loose change. Then, he threw the entire contents of the bowl into a garbage bag.

"I'm done," he called into the house. "Have to head to a meeting, see you later!"

The ChapStick® was frustrated. Why couldn't she see that he was clearly cheating on her, the same way he cheated when he threw out the bowl of items? Who had meetings at four in the afternoon?

It was hot outside, and the black garbage bag sucked up sunlight like a sponge. The ChapStick® sighed as its insides slowly melted away into a puddle of gloop. After all, this was what it had signed up for.

In the bathroom, she scrubbed away at the tub. A stray thought floated across her mind. She made a note to check her husband's phone later.

2. Gianni's Pawn Shop

The flickering neon sign in the window of Gianni's Pawn Shop said the store was "Open," but no one was at the counter. Joanna looked forlornly inside. It was crammed with various odds and ends, mostly guitars and electronic equipment. A crude, printed sign was taped to the door.

"If I'm not here," it said, "I'm having lunch next door."

Next door was a Persian restaurant. Joanna did not feel comfortable stepping inside to ask for anyone, Gianni or otherwise. She walked back to the pawn shop and sat on the front step.

3. Joanna

A fly hovered around the week-old Chinese take-out box. Its lazy buzz made Joanna want to kill something, anything, especially the fly, but not really. She didn't move from the couch.

The phone rang. I should probably get that, Joanna thought. But she didn't.

She stared at the television screen. Nothing was on, not even the television. Still, she giggled to herself. The blank screen was hysterical, the funniest thing she'd ever seen. It was just so, so dark. Something that could entertain people so much, all over the world, was just a black void.

She didn't know how long she'd been sitting there, laughing weakly at the screen.

Why am I so stupid? she thought to herself. She stopped giggling. No! Stop thinking about it!

The more she told herself to stop thinking about it, the more it forced its way into the forefront of her mind. It taunted her, teased her.

There was a knock at the door. Joanna didn't move. Like the person on the telephone, they would go away. More knocking, louder and louder and louder—


It was her husband. "Jo, open the door!"

Jo didn't open the door.

A key scraped against the lock. She knew it didn't fit anymore.

"Dammit Jo, just let me back in."

No, she answered in her head. No. You threw away my ChapStick®.

January 14, 2016



In one of my translation classes, we had to write a blog post introducing ourselves. I couldn't think of an interesting way to write one, and I ended up writing a story. There's an entire other story about what exactly happened to that blog post, but here's the original story:


Once upon a time, there was a zebra. Let's call her Cinnamon.
Cinnamon had reached the official age of zebra adulthood. At this age, all zebras needed to make a choice about the nature of their stripes—were they black with white stripes or white with black stripes? As you would expect, the ones who chose the former went to study how to live as a black zebra with white stripes, while the ones who chose the latter went to study how to live as a white zebra with black stripes.
"Cinnamon," said Cownose the Supreme Zebra Overseer [1], "you must choose by sundown."
"But Your Supremeness," she said, "that's not enough time to think, let alone make such an important decision."
"You must choose by sundown," he repeated with grave finality. "This life-altering decision that will affect how you live and think for the rest of your adult life must be made in the next fifteen minutes."
She spent the fifteen minutes dithering instead of rationally laying out the pros and cons of the two choices. When the time came and Cownose asked her for her final answer, she chose the first thing that sprang to mind.
"Black with white stripes," she said.
It didn't really fit with how she saw herself, but it felt like the better option of the two.

Cinnamon was promptly shipped off to the School for Black Zebras with White Stripes. She enjoyed her first two years there and learned many relevant skills. And yet, it seemed like her enjoyment was rather different. It was like she was looking out of a fishbowl and enjoying what she observed instead of actually being immersed with the rest of the zebras.
"I'm going to be the greatest black zebra with white stripes ever," her classmates would proclaim. "I'm going to go to an even more advanced school for black zebra with white stripes."
Cinnamon did not want to do that.
"I don't want that," she would say. "It sounds interesting, but I don't want that."
"Oh," her classmates would reply. Then, they would chatter excitedly about Advanced School for Black Zebras with White Stripes.

Cinnamon decided to join the Trivia Club, which was open to zebras from all schools.
During the introduction circle at the first meeting, everyone had to state their name, school, and favourite board game. Cinnamon thought this was very strange because zebras had hooves, and board games were very difficult for animals without manual dexterity.
Near the end of the introductions, the club's vice-president stood up. "Hi, I'm Oxtail. I'm from the School for Pink Zebras with Black and White Stripes."
"What?" Cinnamon exclaimed. "I didn't know that was an option."
"Sure it is. It's super interesting, and my life was not complete until I went to this school. You should give it a try."
And she did.

Cinnamon loved the school. This was what was missing from her first school. It was like her baby blanket—which, incidentally, she did not bring to school—warm and comfortable and just the right size. In the back of her mind, however, she could not shake the thought that she was an imposter, that she was still a black zebra with white stripes.
"You are," said the soft-spoken zebra adminstrator at the School for Pink Zebras with Black and White Stripes. "For all intents and purposes, you are still, and will always be, a black zebra with white stripes. We're just letting you visit for a bit before you go back to your actual school."
This, while expected, was still a disappointment for Cinnamon. "Why can't I be both?"
"Because that's just the way things are," the administrator replied. "When you call yourself a black zebra with white stripes, that precludes the possibility of you having visible black stripes."
"So what can I do?"
The soft-spoken administrator did not know, and neither did Cinnamon.

There's no ending to this story because Cinnamon and the administrator still haven't come to a satisfactory solution.

[1] Cownose's official title is as follows:

The Right Honourable Cownose, Supreme Zebra Overseer, Lord of the North Eastern Plains, Left Hoof of Our Majesty of Striped Equids, Middle Toe of the Great Odd-Toed Ungulate, Archduke of the Nth (that is not a typo [2]) Circle, and Psychic Lance of the Ultimate Psionic Overlord.

[2] This is not a part of Cownose's official title.