This two-word pablum says as much as "OK" by bloating the verbiage by one syllable. It's as if people use "fair enough" when they have nothing constructive to add to an argument or conversation. It's the white flag of conversation. Want to give up on a chat and steer it somewhere else? That's where "fair enough" comes in, but otherwise it should exit stage left and spent the rest of its days golfing in Florida.
"I'm so OCD about that!"
When OCD is thrown in conversation as a way to stress how obsessed you are about something, I grate my teeth. OCD has struck my immediate family heavily, and it's not a disease to throw around like, well, "fair enough." If you have any form of OCD, you might get a pass, but if you don't, please consider using a different phrase to express your attention to detail. Otherwise, you'll likely offend someone who's truly suffered from OCD's chokehold.
As a journalist, I despise language that seeks to deride my profession and colleagues simply because that particular news hit isn't favourable to the speaker of such derision. We all know "Fake news!" was born from Trump's face-hole, but too many everyday folks are taking up the battle-cry. The term should only apply to truly phony news, which Buzzfeed's Craig Silverman has been tracking for years, and whose work I highly recommend you check out.
I don't hear or read this often, but when I do, I cringe. It's one of those words, like "moist", that can ignite a strong reaction in someone, and to me "douchebag" is just a lazy insult. What's the sayer meaning with that affront? Less of an asshole, more than a scumbag?
I come across this phrase most often as a journalist, thanks to the dozens of press releases I get daily. Tech startups are particularly fond of saying a new kind of technology has been "baked into our new product release," when they could have easily said "built into." What's with all the baking, CTOs?! You're not in the kitchen, and the more "baking" you do gives the impression you're pulling words from a synonym list just to make you sound smart or hip or smartly hip.
This is a new one to me...not the written use of "LOL" in messages but as a rejoinder to say out loud. As in, a joke is said, and then someone says "LOL" instead of actually laughing out loud. WTF? I mean, what the fuck? Are we so lazy with our language we don't actually want to emit the laughter bubbling in our chest and instead spit out an acrostic substitute? I know there's slang from the younger set that us ol' fogies might not understand, but if we're heading to the path of letters to express an appreciation for humour...I fear for what's next, folks.
I am so proud of this 3-minute trailer for my solo show Jewnique, which is a new feeling for me, that is, having a trailer that I can call my own. Thanks to my buddy Jacob Frenkel, an exemplary editor, and his videographer colleagues, this trailer perfectly captures some of the stories I'll be sharing on May 10 at Al Green Theatre in Toronto.
Few endeavours have been as challenging and rewarding as this project. I've learned a ton about myself as an artist, while also finding out more about my relationship to Judaism with the writing of these profiles of Jewish Canadian trailblazers.
Graphic designer Ian Todd also brought his talents to Jewnique by crafting these eye-catching posters. Torontonians should be seeing posters and flyers of this show around town in the coming weeks.
I'll post more updates about the show throughout April.
If you're curious about the journalism I've been producing recently, this blog post is for you.
Below are some recent articles I've written for media outlets such as Crixeo and NOW, as well as the alumni magazine for the University of Michigan. Enjoy!
What you need to know about The Handmaid's Tale
My NOW review of Soulpepper's Animal Farm
Inside the documentary on Jane Goodall
How students are learning with prison inmates in Ontario
A profile of Jean Twenge, a psychology prof researching how today's teens are using technology
Author, designer and podcaster Debbie Millman recently said on a Tim Ferris podcast:
Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something, the excuse “I am too busy” is not only the most inauthentic, it is also the laziest. I don’t believe in “too busy.” I think that busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period.
Those sentiments resonated with me strongly. I've said it before, and I've heard others say it too: "Yeah I'm super busy, I don't have time to tackle everything." Such a sighing statement is usually side-dished with "But I wish I had time for X and Y!"
Thing is, we DO have time for X and Y if we prioritized our schedule differently. I suffer from this most apparently with my love of new TV shows: I know I spend too many hours taking in the new Jessica Jones series or catching up on Fargo. Instead, I should be learning more about Toronto Jewish history for my current project, or applying for grants, or working out.
At least I'm recognizing where I can shift my priorities. Other people are still dead to that inner voice that says, "You're not busy. You just want don't want to do that thing you say you should be doing."
There's an odd cachet around saying you're busy. It's as if you're boasting about the many responsibilities swirling around your life, perhaps leading to invaluable successes you'll reap once that "busy life" eases up. But I think the business of being busy could bankrupt our confidence; instead of strengthening our willpower to push away distractions, the idea of an overwhelming life acts as a salve. Yeah, I'm so busy I just couldn't take on this creative projects that means a lot to me. Gots to keep the lights on!
Millman also says, "You can’t let being busy stand in the way, even if you are busy. Make the time to do the things you want to do and then do them."
So I'm not watching series like The Walking Dead any longer. I'm waking up earlier to get more out of my day. And I'm reevaluating my priorities, almost monthly, to set a schedule for myself so I'll be free to do what I want, when I want. Being a freelance writer offers me that flexibility, too, that may not be available to 9-to-5'ers.
Such a shift in my mental energy will do wonders for my psyche...and the creativity flowing through me, begging to taste air.
Welcome to my trip to California, in photos I snapped while in San Jose and San Francisco. I went to Cali to visit my friend Mike McGee, he of the palm tree adoration, to workshop my solo show that will debut in Toronto on May 10. It was a much-needed break from the Toronto cold. San Jose is definitely a city worth checking out, as you can see from my pics above.
Below is a slideshow of my time in San Francisco, such as visiting the cafe where Kerouac and Ginsberg once frequented, and a view of me by Fisherman's Wharf with Alcatraz in the background. I only spent a day and a half in SF so the next time I'm there I'd like to absorb more of that city for at least three days.
Before Facebook, there was MySpace. Before YouTube, we watched videos on Google Video. Before Sonos and Alexa you might remember HomePod. (Thankfully, many people don't).
Some people think they have have to race to get their ideas off the ground, without poring through the user experience, the design, business model, etc. I've seen this in the startup space in Canada, having covered it for 15+ years as a journalist, but I've seen this be-first-or-else anxiety infiltrate the spoken word scene, the theatre space, in sports too.
Example: You shouldn't launch an arts festival unless you have everything in place first. I was once part of an ambitious Toronto arts fest that ended up capsizing because it didn't have the budget for the artists it invited, and the fest only featured its spoken word segment, which I helped lead. I saw, from the inside, how racing to be first can be thrilling, sure, but you end up with blind spots that could lead you errors in judgement.
Seth Godin has a great quote on this ideas race: "Be an inventor if you choose, but don't expect that you'll be the one driving the bus once the masses decide to get on."
Being a good journalist is easy. Better a great journalist is challenging. What I've learned in my 15+ years reporting on news from around the world is just how wide the gap can be from good to great.
For anyone struggling to elevate their skillset to the next level, I wanted to pass along a few tips I learned in my time as a journalist and editor, and it doesn't matter which beat you tackle, where you work or your age.
On my birthday, I often instinctively think: Wow, I'm so lucky, to have the life I have, the friends and family who care about me, the poetry slam scene, the journalism work sustaining me, a healthy body and mind.
But more often than not, I push that pop-up thought out of my head and remember there wasn't much luck involved. I didn't happen upon the spoken word scene, I didn't enjoy journalistic assignments falling into my lap.
It all took work. And long hours. And networking. And time taking on responsibilities that others would stiff-arm.
Like Toronto Poetry Slam. Not everyone has the bandwidth to start an arts series from scratch, later assembling a killer crew of volunteer poets and poetry fans who help run the slam and other shows. There was no luck involved here. We pack the Drake Hotel every two weeks because we all work tirelessly to promote the show, strategizing on how to advertise effectively on Facebook or bridging the gap between our scene and the literary scene. Case in point: In 2017 we partnered with Toronto's International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront Centre, the first partnership of this kind. That wasn't luck.
I'm not where I heard the following line, but I suspect it was in Terminator 2, of all places: There's no fate but what we make ourselves. Was it fate I started Toronto Poetry Slam and now it's become one of the most popular literary events in Canada? Was it fate I decided to become a freelance journalist two years ago and have enjoyed the kind of success I never thought would come to me so soon into the 'lancing world?
No. I focused on my goal and went for it. I put on horse-blinders and didn't sway from my mission, whether it was to get published in The Washington Post or working out more than twice a week (I average 3x/week now) or writing my first solo show (book off May 10, folks!).
So on my birthday, I like to look back at what got me to where I am today. And I'm proud to say there was little luck involved and a whole boatload of blood, sweat and fears I may fail. But I haven't. Which has me on perma-smile right now as I type this post.
For those unawares, I'm debuting my first solo poetry show in May and I'll be launching a new type of poetry format I'm calling "performance journalism." This project involves me interviewing fascinating people and telling their stories via spoken word, using real quotes and extensive research to infuse the poetry with hyper-realism.
Coming to Toronto May 10 to Al Green Theatre, this show features six profilees, and two weeks ago I revealed the first trailblazer, who contributed greatly to Holocaust education and chazzanut in Canada.
Now, the second reveal...JUDY PERLY, owner of Free Times Cafe on College Street in Toronto!
Her story is enthralling, whether you've tasted the glory that is Free Times' Jewish brunch buffet on Sundays. If you want a peek of the food available at that historic buffet, check out the video above.
I don't want to say much more about Judy's story and the Cafe's relationship to Jewish Toronto, so you'll have to come to my show to find out! Contact me for details anytime.
Next week, I'll reveal my next profile subject...Stay tuned!
Let's talk food, peoples. I've been looking hither and yonder for kickass recipes online, and I've amassed an impressive Chrome bookmark folder of 30 recipes I've been enjoying. They range from breakfast smoothies to creative salads to pasta dishes to slow-cooker recipes. Today, I want to share a few of my faves.
I do have some go-to recipes offline, but I'm not a huge fan of writing out cookbook pages. Another time, perhaps.
Below are some delectable recipes that are simple to make and inexpensive too:
Zucchini Noodles n Shrimp with Avocado Pesto: I admit, I don't make the noods from scratch but when I go to farmer's market I might get a bag of zucchini noodles for this recipe. Avocado pesto goes so well with shrimp I'm surprised this is the first time I've had this pairing. The shelled pistachios also bring a freshly nutty flavour to the dish.
Cauliflower Hash: I get bored of breakfast foods easily, even though as a kid I could down bowls of Corn Pops with nary an eye-roll. These days, I like to bring more veggies into my breakfast, which is why this GIF recipe of cauliflower hash is so handy. I fry and egg and lay it atop the cooked cauliflower and feel free to add hot sauce if you're feeling a morning mouth-boost.
Udon Stir-Fry With Coconut Curry Sauce: This recipe came to me thanks to The Toronto Star's Karon Liu and I've done a variation of it before, but this one really packs a lot of punch thanks to the coconut, which I don't often add. If you're on the move a lot and don't have time to prep for lunch or dinner, this recipe should be your new best friend.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken: I love Indian food and butter chicken is so damn tasty on a cold winter night. Thanks to my slow cooker, I can have my whole spot smelling delicious. Be sure to get basmati rice as a perfect complement to the chicken, but also free to opt for naan if you're not feeling rice.
Honey Mustard Chicken: Also a simple as a dimple chicken recipe, this take on the bird sees a delectable mix of honey mustard and white wine and aromatic spices such as rosemary. I've often paired this with some brussell sprouts or steamed broccoli, and have used leftovers in pitas or sandwiches.
About David's Blog
I write about journalism, freelancing, the arts, Toronto, technology, sports and why egg nog is under-rated.