Riley Goes to Colombia Day 3 – February 12, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we took a cab ride to Monserrate, a mountain that overlooks Bogota. For the first few minutes of the cab ride, we worried he was driving us up the mountain, as we had to go up high to get on a beltway that runs along the hills. The cabbie took us to the station where we could catch a funicular up the mountain, or a gondola. The gondola didn’t open until noon, but that was fine with us because we both wanted to take the funicular. (Jenn took pictures from it; I did not as my camera doesn’t Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 2 – February 11, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

After breakfast, we took another long cab ride to a mall, where we met Loon, our guide, for a tour of one of Bogota’s big food markets. We tried the following over the course of the morning: 1.Breakfast Sancocho de pescado  Fish soup made with plantain, yuca and potatoes. Arepa de queso – Colombian arepa filled with gooey double cream cheese [better in Bogota than Medellin] 2. Fruits Feijoa – Green, bubblegum tasting fruit Granadilla – Sweet passion fruit Pitaya – Yellow dragon fruit Mangostino – This was the final one we ate that looked like garlic cloves. 3. Fried stuff Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 1 – February 10, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

We got up sometime after 4 AM, though I was up from 1-something until 2-something, due to my usual anxiety about leaving for a big trip, and because I was anticipating the alarm going off any minute. We took the Union-Pearson Express, because it’s pretty much the only option at 5:30AM (unless you want to spend an hour+ on the night bus or spend $60 on a limo). I was pleasantly surprised by the trip – and fascinated by the route – but it is still incredible to me that a new, separate train was judged the best solution, not Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia – Prologue

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

I spent most of the last two weeks in Colombia; it was my first visit to South America. Why we went to Colombia is a long story. The short version is that I wanted to go on vacation – it’s been two years since my last trip abroad – and the GF had heard great things about Colombia. And so we went. We went despite lots of people expressing their shock that we would choose to go to Colombia, and others expressing their fears. (What we found was that, if the person had been to Colombia or knew someone who Read More

Welcome to my new blog

Categories: Personal.

You may have noticed that I have been rather quiet over the last few months. Well, it was to get this site up, which combines the blog that used to be here with my older blogger blogs, previously available at This isn’t the file version of this site, I’ve got a lot more work to do, some of which will not get done for some time, as I am only one man. I ask for your patience as the site continues to change. I haven’t stopped writing – I have over 60 pages of material that wasn’t posted here Read More

Shyness and Desirability

Categories: Personal.

I have been meaning to post something about my continuing shyness on here for the last month. It would have gone something like this: Even though I have had numerous moments in the past five years where I’ve still made shy, I was convincing myself that things were different. What had changed? Well, I felt like my ex-girlfriend brought me out of my shell a little, principally by giving new found confidence in myself as someone people might actually want to speak to or know. And when we broke up, I assumed that I would retain this supposed new found Read More

Riley’s Breakup Play List Part 3: The Metal Years

Categories: 2014, Music, and Personal.

Very self-respecting music nerd knows for a fact that the Gunners aren’t truly metal, but I like the title. Despite the overwhelming cheese of many of Axl’s contributions to Use Your Illusion, I find his lyrics have a particular relevance to me at this moment of my life, something I really hadn’t imagined possible previously. And so, here we go: “November Rain” This one is now a few days out of date…(And, not coincidentally, I was just at a football game where they felt compelled to play this because, you know, it was raining in November.) For me, it has Read More

Now is the Winter of My Discontent

Categories: 2014 and Personal.

On October 23, 2015 the longest romantic relationship of my life ended. When I say the longest, I also mean the only serious one, the only one that was ever successful. And, at least for me, it felt like it was the only thing in my life that was permanent, that would never change. We were together for approximately 4 3/4 years and lived together for slightly more than three. I have not said anything in this space before because, until this morning, we continued to live together and it was the very least I could do to not write Read More

I won the internet lottery!

Categories: Personal and Society.

I’m sorry I’ve been so bad about updating this lately. Life has sort of gotten in the way; we got a puppy, I have been working on a new book, and I published my second book. Also, I have been working a little too hard at making sure my pop culture blog is in better shape. (Why don’t I amalgamate them? Good question!) I have been meaning to write two posts which I hope to get to in the coming months: A post on journalism’s vital role in democracy and why the Mainstream Media is failing democracy; A post on Read More

On the sanity of living with another human being

Categories: Personal and Psychology.

I have vivid dreams. I mean: really, really vivid. Sometimes they are so vivid I am convinced I am living them, until I wake up. Sometimes they are so vivid they take the place of my memories and I occasionally get confused about whether or not something realistic that happened in a dream actually happened in real life. This doesn’t happen often, but it happens occasionally. One of the problems with vivid dreams is they tend to affect you emotionally…a lot. I’m not talking about nightmares. I do get nightmares but nightmares just cause me to wake up suddenly, often Read More

Results of the first ever beer tasting

Categories: Beer, Food, and Personal.

On Saturday, the Malty Tasker hosted a beer tasting for his birthday. We tried 16 (well, actually 17) beers.  Here are the results (all out of 50): St. Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout 43.3 Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel 42.6 Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout 42.5 St. Bernardus Abt 12 41.8 Rochefort 10 41.75 Rochefort 8 39.8 Central City Red Racer IPA 39.8 Young’s Double Chocolate Stout 39.3 Fuller’s London Porter 39.3 Henry’s Irish Red Ale 38.5 Chimay White 38.5 Hobgoblin 37.7 Muskoka Dark 37.7 Black Oak Pale Ale 37.7 Hockley Stout 35 Wells IPA 32.8 Read More

Crazy Italians: On the Cultural Disconnect Between Myself and Italian Cinema

Categories: Movies and Personal.

Nearly a decade ago, when I was living in Australia, I went for a couple of organized tours of parts of the country I had never been too.  One such tour occurred in the southwestern corner of Western Australia, an area that is one of the most beautiful I have ever been to in my limited travels. On this tour were, say, 11-12 people. Four of them were Italian. They were some of the loudest, most obnoxious people I have ever met: they fought with each other, the guide, and us, and alternatively praised each other and us out of Read More

The Hits Just Keep on Coming when you Publish with iUniverse

Categories: Books and Personal.

So today I finally called to pay iUniverse for my “free” copies (I am paying the shipping). I called with my project number in hand but that wasn’t good enough to them. The lady immediately tried to pass me off to my consultant’s voicemail (as my consultant had gone home for the day) because I didn’t have my “order number.” (The system is so unsophisticated that one department cannot look up things another department can look up.) Fortunately I found my order number in time. Then, I asked the all important question of whether my 21 (!!!) copies would be Read More

Cineplex doesn’t want me seeing movies, that’s for sure

Categories: Movies and Personal.

So yesterday the GF and I went to our first movie in a theatre since TIFF, and our first non-festival movie (together anyway) since last spring or thereabouts. We went to see Shame, a film we were both interested in seeing. We were confronted by the usual “pre-show” barrage, which at this point is expected. But then, when the movie was supposed to start (1:15), we were treated to “Timeplay” (which they warned us was coming by telling us things like “get ready for Timeplay, which is so interactive” during the pre-show). Timeplay is a gimmick which supposedly lets the Read More

RIP Gerald E. Tucker

Categories: 2011, Personal, and RIP.

Though he initially confounded me, as he did many first year students, Tucker became one of my favourite professors at Bishop’s while I was there – perhaps my favourite. He never finished the curriculum for any class I took with him (I’m not sure we ever made it 2/3rds of the way through any) and he usually strayed from the point, but no other professor at Bishop’s, or where I did my grad school, ever provoked me to think like Tucker did. He would say things – sometimes seriously but often jokingly – that would provoke my brain and / Read More

Did Weird Al really turn me into a music snob?

Categories: Music and Personal.

I am a music snob. I can do nothing about it. I prefer music that tries to be unconventional, “un-trendy,” different and is not aimed primarily at profit or notoriety. I have always wondered where this came from. My parents are not musical. My dad has quite a good collection of “classical” music at this point, but it didn’t exist when I was young. And my mom is content to listen to what she finds tuneful. When I was young I listened to the Nylons – the fucking Nylons. So how I became this massive music snob is a bit Read More


Categories: 2012, Books, and Personal.

Well I won’t be doing that again. I didn’t get much out of it for all the angst. I did learn one thing: I cannot write fiction to order / under pressure. Non-fiction, no problem. But fiction, that just doesn’t work for me. I need to revise. I need to change things. And above all, if I ever do decide to write fiction under pressure, I need a plan ahead of time. Ah well. Read More

I should get off my ass and do things when I have ideas

Categories: Personal.

So the new John Favreau movie is called Cowboys and Aliens. This bothers me. It bothers me because I had an idea for a cross-genre Cowboys and Aliens film over ten years ago. If only I had done something with it, maybe somebody would have thought it wasn’t terrible and would have paid me money to turn it into Cowboys and Aliens. Boohoo. Read More

Full Disclosure: Influences

Categories: Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Society.

Existentialism: Hannah Arendt William Barrett Albert Camus Fyodor Dostoevsky Karl Jaspers Friedrich Nietzsche Jose Ortega y Gasset   History: Niall Ferguson Leszek Kolakowski   Language: Northrop Frye   Liberalism: John Dewey John Stuart Mill Jose Ortega y Gasset Karl Popper Richard Rorty Judith Shklar   Libertarianism: (early) Friedrich Hayek Robert Nozick   Literature: Fyodor Dostoevsky William Faulkner Timothy Findley Gabriel Garcia Marquez Graham Greene Aldous Huxley George Orwell Thomas Pynchon Philip Roth Laurence Sterne Kurt Vonnegut   Mathematics: Donald Saari   Philosophy, General: Aristotle Leszek Kolakowski Friedrich Nietzsche Karl Popper Bertrand Russell   Post-Modernism: Hannah Arendt Friedrich Nietzsche Richard Rorty Read More

Philosophical Differences

Categories: Personal, Philosophy, and Society.

I am finding more and more that I am across a huge philosophical gulf from many of my friends. I assume so many things about the world, assumptions which I of course regard as correct, that other people appear not to share. I feel like I need to come clean on my philosophy, or whatever you want to call it, but the only time I get into these conversations is over booze and then I’m not so coherent. But my positions really are extremely well-considered, even if they don’t sound like it. And as far as I know, they are Read More

Gaspe Day 2: Saturday August 7

Categories: 2010, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

12PM? 1 PM? 3 hour hike. 1 roll of film. 282 metres? + a tower. Took the roundabout way to the tower (clockwise, most appear to go counter-clockwise). Did the full loop but it is a less extreme climb. 6.5 km I think. I need to drink more water. I am going over to the south side. I have to drive because to hike over would have taken all day and I probably wouldn’t have made it back by nightfall. From here to Cap Gaspe it is 9.2 km. So I take that back. I would make it back but Read More

Gaspe Journal: Friday August 6

Categories: 2010, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

Once again I feel like a foreigner in my own country. My inability / unwillingness to (re?) learn French makes me feel and act differently than I do in all other parts of Canada. I should just try to pass myself off as an American (which is only mostly a lie). I have forgotten a couple of key things: a water jug, a lamp, scissors [actually didn’t forget the scissors]. I couldn’t light a fire tonight to eat dinner. I am exposed as a fraud or I am very, very tired. This drive was totally insane. I should have listened Read More

What’s the worm pate story?

Categories: Food and Personal.

So, I was on this hike on a tour of southwest Australia. We canoed up the Margaret River (that of the famous wine region) and we stopped for lunch. They provided lunch, and part of it was “bush tucker,” i.e. a supposedly authentic recreation of what southwest Australian aboriginals would have had as a diet back in the day. With one exception: worm pate. The reason the worms were in pate form is because they tried to serve them to people in the past in their dead, unprocessed form and supposedly nobody would ever try them. So someone came up Read More

The Ocean

Categories: Personal and Travel.

I have a strong and deep desire to go to the ocean. I haven’t been in over two years. I need the sea. I need it. I can’t explain why. Something about the expanse. Something about feeling like I’m at the end of the world. I need to go to the ocean. Maybe I need to live next to one. Maybe I should seriously consider that once I actually can pick where I want to live based on things beyond economy. Read More


Categories: 2010 and Personal.

So, we just got our new students at work. We get students every summer. They help us out. It is a good thing. Some of them have worked with us before, others not. Sometime last week (I don’t remember what day) one of the new students said hello to me as if she knew me. I couldn’t place her. I figured she must have helped my department a day or two last summer. I really had no idea who she was but I figured that was a reasonable explanation. I think I smiled back a little (I can’t see my Read More

What was your worst dating experience ever? Yes I want details :op

Categories: Personal.

Um, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a terrible date. I think I’ve probably given a girl or two a terrible date experience but I have never gone away from something thinking “that was terrible.” I did have one which was totally utterly pointless because there was no reason for me to be there. But it wasn’t like it was painfully awkward or anything. The girl was a hip-hop-listening business student. I did sort of ask myself, “how did this happen exactly?” Another time I tried to date this girl who a friend assured me was “gorgeous” (I have Read More