The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century Joey deVilla's Personal Blog Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:52:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lies, damned lies, and Reuters’ graph of Florida firearm deaths before and after “Stand Your Ground” Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:15:32 +0000

Here’s a graph that Reuters recently published on gun deaths in Florida before and after the enactment of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Take a really good look at it and see if you can figure out why it’s so terribly misleading:

misleading stand your ground chart

Click the graph to see the source.

P.A. Fedewa saw the graph in Business Insider and submitted this graph in response. The data is the same, but this time, the presentation isn’t attempting to lie to you:

corrected stand your ground chart

Click the graph to see the source.


Mark Jaquith astutely points out in the comments that even the headlines of the graph are misleading, because they conflate gun deaths with murders. He writes:

More worrisome than the murder rate should be the rate of people getting away with shooting someone in a situation that isn’t reasonably self-defense (they wouldn’t be reflected on this chart). And the problem there isn’t the stand your ground principle (which is common, even California has that principle), but the lowering of the evidentiary burden and the haphazard way the law is applied.

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Toronto’s most pink-tacular house can be yours for $699,000 Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:52:58 +0000

Click any of the photos to see the real estate listing for the house.

From the outside, this house near Jane and Bloor Streets currently listed for sale in Accordion City looks like any number of houses built in the post bay-and-gable era, located in the near-burbs that circle the city’s core:

house 00

What sets it apart from all the others is the interior, which for the most part is best described as “grandma meets Barbie Dream House as designed by Unikitty from The Lego Movie”:

house 01

After enjoying pleasant conversation and (presumably pink) hard candy from a cut crystal container in the living room above, you could adjourn to the fantabulous dining room…

house 02

…which is adjoined by the (just) slightly more subtle kitchen:

house 03

The pink rotary phone is a nice touch. Here’s the kitchen as seen from the other end:

house 04

If your hunger for pink-and-pretty hasn’t yet been sated, you need only go upstairs to what I call “the diabetes inducement level”:

house 05

So. Much. Pink!

house 06

Variety is the spice of life, and even the most pinkcore of pinkaholics needs a break. Hence, the Lavender Love Lounge:

house 08

This is what I imagine the guest room at Prince’s house looks like:

house 07

Aaaaand back to pink. I’m not sure I could poop in such a bathroom:

house 09

I’d read that a number of places are coloured specifically to induce moods, feelings, and urges in people. For example, one of the reasons many fast food places go with an orange theme is that the colour is said to bring about feelings of hunger. I never gave it much thought until one day in the late ’90s, when College West was making its transition from the mellower Little Italy to the hip new destination for twenty-somethings. Our group decided to go to a new restaurant with a full-tile red colour scheme. Red walls. Red carpet. Red tables and chairs. Monochrome red paintings on the walls. Red lighting. Red plates.

The evening started off well enough, but the longer we stayed in that place, the worse it got. First, people started feeling a bit antsy. Little disagreements that would otherwise have been let go stewed. Discussions became debates, and debates became arguments. I think I had a “Why the hell did I just say that?” moment, and finally one of us, a brilliant arts school grad, said “I think it’s all this red. I think it’s driving us insane.”

He was right. As soon as we stepped outside, the madness lifted. It was summer, and while it was certainly warmer outside that inside the red restaurant, it felt as if we’d escaped from a hot medieval torture chamber and onto a cool mountainside.

“Hooo-kay,” I said. “I’m not taking any dates there.

I don’t know what kind of madness the all-pink colour scheme will induce, but the house does have a place where you cab escape from the maximum pink: the basement den. It’s got late-era Don Draper written all over it:

house 11

That bar is fantastic, as are the crossed epées over the fireplace. I would gladly live in this room:

house 10

The house is in a good location: not far from where I used to live, a short walk from the westernmost end of the Bloor West Village shopping district, just south of the considerably more expensive Baby Point neighbourhood, and a stone’s throw from the subway. You’re also walking distance from a movie theatre, which I consider a plus. Here’s the description on the real estate listing:

Only $699K! Great Value! Retro, Pristine & Spacious Detached Home! Prime “”Bloor West Village”"! Lovingly Maintained By The Same Owner For 72 Years! Updated Kitchen! Breakfast Rm + Walk Out To Garden! B/I Cupboards In Lr & Dr. Master +B/I Vanty! Lower Level Family Rm. Plenty Of Storage & Cedar Closet! Rear Patio & Sunny West Garden! Steps To Bloor, Schools, Shops & Subway! Mutual Drive! Can Park Small Car In Rear **** EXTRAS **** Fridge, 1950′S Moffat Stove, Washer & Dryer, Window Coverings,Microwave, Freezer, Air Conditioner (2000), Electric Light Fixtures, Hot Water Tank (Rental), Roof Shingles 2007,Lots Of Storage & Built-In Cupboards.Carson Dunlop Inspection

Asking price is CDN$699,000. You can find more details on the real estate listing. Let the bidding war begin!

Update: HGTV has even better pictures of the house.

Thanks to Jodi Peacock for the find!

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Finding Mr. Righteous: Lisa DePasquale’s memoir on dating conservative guys in D.C. Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:50:13 +0000

finding mr righteous

While the major reason I moved to the U.S. was to be with my Tampa-based girlfriend, one of the minor reasons was to shake things up by changing my surroundings and getting some new perspectives. So here I am, living in the state that marched to put George W. Bush in the White House with a girl with a couple of NRA baseball caps and a “Who is John Galt?” license plate frame, enjoying myself and agreeing to disagree at the same time. After all, if you can’t vive la difference, is la vie really worth vive-ing?

Even before my move here, I made sure to experience stuff outside the largely-liberal Toronto tech scene, which includes regular visits to Reason’s site. I like the personal responsibility aspect of libertarianism. I also find that “freedom for me, corporate rule for thee” and “screw you, I got mine” aspects questionable. I always try to value seeing other perspectives.

One recent interview I found interesting was one with Lisa DePasquale, former CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) organizer, about her book, Finding Mr. Righteous. It’s a memoir of dating in the world of conservative Washington politics, and it’s interesting to note some of the similarities between Republican guys and Silicon Valley guys (including the observation that I’ve heard applied to both: “The odds are good, but the goods are odd”). There’s a fair bit of overlap between student council kids and computer club kids (and hey, I should know; I was both).

You may not agree with her political views, and her need to reassert that she’s the real deal (she self-identifies as a “true conservative” not once, but twice in less than five minutes) can be grating, but you might be surprised to agree with her on other issues, such as her support for including gays and lesbians in CPAC, a struggle over which she left as an organizer. The interview’s interesting, and it’s about finding someone, which is a universal story that applies to everyone, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum:

Of course, if you want to lose your faith in humanity, particularly the male half, you can always read the comments for the Reason article or the YouTube video.

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Kill your productivity with “Rob Ford: The Game”! Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:42:59 +0000

rob ford - the game

Rob Ford: The Game isn’t going to tell you more about what Toronto’s joke of a mayor is up to, what demons drive him, or why the hell people insist on supporting him after everything he’s done. What it will do is give you addictive platform-jumping game fun as you maneuver our Peter Griffin-esque mayor into crack, marijuana, and booze while dodging or jumping on the police and news camera operators.

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I like the way this teacher thinks Tue, 08 Apr 2014 16:55:56 +0000

who writes SATAN in bubble letters

What kind of lame-ass kids are parents raising these days? It’s lightning bolts, fire, and pointy letters, people!

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The inescapable truth about spring weather Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:28:26 +0000

first 2 weeks of spring

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Toronto-to-Tampa Road Trip, Day 3: Hangover day in Asheville Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:44:14 +0000

day 3

In case you missed the previous installments in this series, here they are:

Hipster Coffee

I’d refer to the feeling I had the next morning as “the wrath of grapes”, but Eldon and I had drunk nothing but beer the previous night, and “the wrath of malted barley” just doesn’t have that ring to it. I was still in last night’s jeans, and in the pockets, stuffed all hodge-podge, was an extra forty-something dollars that I’d made at the pub by playing raucous accordion tunes, and singing increasingly off-key as the night had worn on.

“We’ll make it a mellow day today,” said Eldon groggily. “Some looking around town, not too much driving. How’s that sound?”

“Sounds good to me,” I replied.


The previous night, the group of people we ended up drinking with in the basement bar of Wicked Weed Brewing Company told us about a place that served an amazing brunch. Our start to the day was rather late and slow, so by the time we got there, the Sunday crowd had lined up around the block. We decided to drive a little farther to see if there were any other interesting places, as the street had that “this street has interesting places” vibe. Our hunch proved to be correct, as a few blocks away, we happened upon an oddly-painted building and I said “Now that…looks like my home planet.”

battlecat 2

BattleCat Coffee House is, to put it in Toronto terms, a Parkdale coffee shop that just happens to be located in Asheville. Built from a house, with its various rooms as well as the front porch and yard converted into various cafe lounges, it’s the kind of student-y, art-y, hangout filled with yard sale furniture, charmingly mismatched bric-a-brac, and local artists’ works where you’re likely to find me (in fact, I need to find an equivalent in my new home in Accordion Bay).

joey at battlecat

They make a mean mocha, which I found reviving. I looked around and said “We’re in a college town in the mountains, all right. We may be the cleanest-shaven people in this entire cafe, and I’m including both sexes.”

Found Art

buick 1

The neighbourhood in which BattleCat is located is full of interesting things that lend themselves well to photographs, from the whiskey bar next door (alas, we’ll have to save a visit for another time) to the nearby garage, which had this magnificently rusting old Buick. I loved its hood ornament, which is straight out of the imagery of Gernsback-era science fiction:

buick 2

Around the corner was a sculpture garden made out of found household and industrial objects:

bottle garden

…and when we walked closer, we found that its creators and owners were perfectly fine with people coming in to get a closer look, as the sign by the entrance indicated:

garden 2

In the center of the garden was something I call “Truckhenge”:

garden 3

I couldn’t resist posing with this little artifact:

kicking a bomb


Across the street from the garden was this sign, which I thought might be a funny way of announcing to the world what my new job in the U.S. was:

holistic herbalism

A few doors down the street from the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism was Harvest Records, a great indie music shop with a great selection of music, friendly staff, a computer set up so you can see what Pitchfork said about the tunes you’re about to buy (or hear what they sound like), and even a comfy place to peruse the books or magazines they hope you’ll eventually buy:

harvest records

Eldon picked up Gangstagrass’ Broken Hearts and Stolen Money CD, and the music is exactly what the name implies. Here’s a track from the album:

Bluegrass Brunch

While checking out the posters at Harvest, we noticed that a place downtown called the One Stop Deli and Bar had a bluegrass brunch with a live band that let people join them on the open mic. A short drive later, we’d ordered our brunches — I had chicken and waffles and a Bloody Mary, while Eldon got a local brew to wash down his “redneck benedict”, made of poached eggs on biscuits, covered in biscuit gravy and chicken tenders. We certainly weren’t going to win any healthy eating awards that day.

Before I had a chance to get a bite of brunch, one of the guys in the band saw the accordion and waved me over to the stage. I took a quick swig of my custom Bloody Mary — they give you a glass with a lot of vodka, and you assemble the rest at the Bloody Mar fixings bar (mine had extra pickle juice and sriracha) — and on the stage I went. A few quick introductions and a quick walk through the chords later, I was playing with the band.

The guys in the band were talented, friendly, and fun to play with. If you’re ever down Asheville way and are looking for both brunch and people to jam with, I can’t recommend the Bluegrass Brunch at One Stop Deli and Cafe enough.

Afternoon Outdoor Beer

wedge studios

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Asheville has an arts district just outside its downtown area, by the French Broad River. This area of about two dozen former industrial buildings turned out to be the perfect location for artists’ studios, and it now is the work area of nearly 200 local artists. The center of it all seems to be the Wedge Brewing Company, which is where Eldon and I headed after Bluegrass Brunch.

wedge studios 2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Despite the fact that it was still the first week of March in North Carolina, the day was bright, sunny, and warm enough that some people were fine wearing just a T-shirt. The place was crowded with people enjoying the sun and craft beer, which meant birthday celebrations, which in turn meant…accordion!

I have no idea what the Wedge is like in the dead of winter, but if I lived in Asheville, I’d be a regular here in the spring, summer, and fall.

wedge studios 3

Click the photo to see it at full size.

We got into conversations with a number of locals, including a doctor who spent half her time in Asheville doing consulting work, and the other half of her time at home in San Francisco, who in turn introduced us to her friends, a mechanical engineer of Asian descent and his Czech wife who met while both were on vacation in Thailand. We talked to students, artists, bikers enjoying the first warm Sunday ride of the year, young families, and more.

wedge studios 4

Click the photo to see it at full size.

More accordion, too:

As the afternoon drew to a close, Eldon and I had one last pint (he kept it to a minimum, as it was his turn to drive)…

wedge studios 5

Click the photo to see it at full size.

…and we made our way to Georgia:

driving at night

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Here’s a crazy idea for a movie… Sat, 05 Apr 2014 13:17:45 +0000

science vs stephen harper

This one goes out to my old schoolmate Chris Turner, author of The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada.

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This cat has seen things… Sat, 05 Apr 2014 12:09:58 +0000

prison cat

…horrible, horrible things.

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Nobody ever invites this guy to the movies… Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:46:40 +0000

major spoiler

…after all, he’s Major Spoiler!

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Today’s to-do list Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:18:15 +0000

Current life plans

It’s 9:17 a.m. as I write this and I’m nearly done with item one already.

(And yes, that’s my hand lettering you’re looking at. I can go into hand-made signs once this “computers” fad blows over.)

For those of you who don’t get the reference, you’ll probably want to see this classic bit from the old Conan the Barbarian:


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Everything you need to know about the straight male psyche, captured in a single photo at Walmart Tue, 01 Apr 2014 21:19:15 +0000

walmart bikini

Click to see the straight male psyche at full size.

Oh, we’ve all been that kid. In fact, I may still be that kid.

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Meanwhile, in Florida… Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:20:23 +0000

tire kingdom

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I saw this yesterday in Tampa. Is this:

  1. A Floridian koan?
  2. Some kind of test?
  3. The Tampa version of the Epimenides Paradox?
  4. An April Fool’s prank?
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Mayor Rob Ford is a cartoon character — literally! Mon, 31 Mar 2014 20:58:59 +0000

the rofo show

The fine folks at No Ford Nation — the people who created the hilarious election posters that I wrote about earlier today — also created The Toronto Mayor Show, a series of cartoons showing some of Mayor Ford’s antics, complete with actual audio from the events. They’ve capitalized on Rob Ford’s cartoonish Peter Griffin-esque nature and used the medium well (there’s a great visual joke in the episode where Rob gets all rasta and speaks Jamaican patois). Watch ‘em all, cringe a little, and think twice when you vote: do you still want a cartoon character for a mayor?

Episode 1: “Crack”

Episode 2: “Enough to Eat”

Be warned: this one’s got dirty words…uttered by the Mayor himself!

Episode 3: “Night Out”

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Hilarious “Anyone’s better than Rob Ford” election posters Mon, 31 Mar 2014 14:52:08 +0000

no ford nation 1

Click the photo to see it at full size.

The comical and sometimes criminal antics of Toronto’s world-infamous crack-smoking mayor have set the bar for the title so low that these fictitious candidates’ very simple promises make them sound appealing in comparison. Katie Simpson, a reporter with Toronto 24-hour cable news channel CP24 found and tweeted these photos of the posters: poster 1, poster 2, and poster 3.

“The current mayor threatens to kill people and gets publicly drunk,” reads the poster for “candidate” Ray Faranzi, whose sweaty-faced, messy-haired, tied-one-on visage appears on its left side. “If elected, I promise I will just get publicly drunk.”

no ford nation 2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

“Candidate” Jim Tomkins looks a little more put-together than Ray Faranzi, but he’s still got that “I just killed 5 shots of Jagermeister” look about him. “When I urinate in public,” reads his poster, “I never get caught on camera.”

no ford nation 3

Click the photo to see it at full size.

And finally, we have “candidate” Jeff McElroy, who looks a little less scruffy than programmers of the Richard M. Stallman ilk, but still a little more dishevelled than even the mayor of Portland should appear. “He promises to just smoke pot as mayor,” says his poster, “Not crack.”

Kudos to whoever made these! It’s going to be a long campaign in Toronto (the election takes place in October), but at least it’ll be an entertaining one.

Props to Reg Braithwaite for finding these!

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How to (and how not to) make a dumb, jingoistic, douchey ad for an electric car Fri, 28 Mar 2014 16:20:12 +0000

Here’s Poolside, the ad for the $76,000 Cadillac ELR, a luxury electric car that — if you take the ad seriously — is aimed at the douchey segment of “the 1%” who are looking for their next “beater car” and are curious about electrics:

Don’t listen to the actor reading lines written by some cynical ad guy about why the US stopped going to the moon. Instead, listen to someone with a real education and a real job — real space scientist and knowledge hero Neil Degrasse Tyson, who gives us the real reason we took a break from the moon:

We discovered Earth.

In a time when income inequality in the US is reached new highs , when big politicians who killed jobs and businesses to line investors’ coffers equate low bank balances with low character, and big employers like McDonald’s are putting out hilariously tone-deaf pamphlets to help their minimum-wage employees stretch their dollar (get a second full-time job!) and advising them on how much to tip the pool boy, Cadillac’s ad comes close to needing to invoke Poe’s Law: that sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between the real thing and its parody.

In response, Ford put out the Upside ad for their C-MAX electric car, which takes the same honorable themes from the Poolside ad — America, hard work, entrepreneurship, environmentalism — and uses them in a much better way, turning the Cadillac ad on its ear at the same time:

As Jalopnik puts it:

See, you can do this kind of ad without coming off like a jingoistic sociopath. N’est-ce pas?

N’est-ce pas?, the line used to close both ads, is French for Isn’t that so?

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Bill Murray’s awesome PBR golf pants Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:39:38 +0000

bill murray pabst blue ribbon pants

Photo from Uproxx. Click to see the source.

Now that I’m a Florida-based silver-haired gentleman, I need to get my mitts on a pair of PBR pants like Bill Murray’s. If I can walk around with an accordion, I can walk around in these pants. Apparently, there’s a company that makes pants with your company’s logo on them; I should talk to the guys at GSG about getting some made!

Here’s Bill talking about the charity golf event where he wore the pants, as well as the pants themselves:

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Toronto cops dress up as roadside panhandlers to catch drivers with their hands on their phones Wed, 26 Mar 2014 15:06:59 +0000

undercover cell cops

Click the photo to see the source.

If “not killing people” wasn’t incentive enough for you to put down your phone while driving in Accordion City, here’s another: the cops have taken to dressing like roadside panhandlers to spot people breaking the mobile phone law. I love this cop’s cardboard box sign.

We need to start a betting pool on when they’ll pull over Rob Ford.

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For the want of a comma Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:36:18 +0000

kathleen bangs - aviation expert - 01

A recent broadcast of a news piece on the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 highlighted the value of good punctuation. When your last name is also a verb and your full name is immediately followed by your role, you want a comma between them –  there is a difference between “Kathleen Bangs, Aviation Expert” and “Kathleen Bangs Aviation Expert”.

kathleen bangs - aviation expert - 02

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R.I.P. Dave Brockie, “Oderus Urungus” from GWAR Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:17:11 +0000


The greatest achievement of thrash metal parody band GWAR was they they somehow conned bored suburban metalhead kids into watching performance art. Since 1984, the band’s been donning their costumes, playing some of the most amusing metal out there, and dismembering modern culture both literally in their lyrics and figuratively onstage. I got my chance to see GWAR on New Year’s Eve 1991 at The Rialto in Montreal with my friend Rob Strickler, whom I somehow managed to convince to come along for the show. They made their entrance by bursting through a fake brick wall at midnight, with frontcreature Oderus Urungus (played by Dave Brockie) yelling “HAPPY NEW YEAR, HUMAN SCUM!”, and then sprayed the front rows with fake blood and semen. It was one of the better ways to start a new year.

dave brockie

Dave Brockie, who founded and fronted GWAR, was found dead in his apartment in Richmond, Virginia, last night at 7 p.m. by a bandmate. The police do not suspect foul play, nor did they find drugs inside his home — he was just found dead, sitting upright in his chair.

The best way to remember Brockie is to enjoy his hilarious over-the-top performances. Here are a few musical selections…

GWAR covers Billy Ocean

GWAR covers Kansas 

They do more than music. So much, much more:

Here they are on Joan Rivers:

…and I can’t forget their appearance on Jerry Springer:

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