January 2014


‘Looking’ episode 2 recap: Patrick is a little bit racist, Dom confronts his ex, and Agustin moves in

The big move: Patrick and Dom help Agustin start his new life of domestication by carting all of his personal belongings out of downtown San Francisco and up to his new home with Frank in Oakland. On the way Patrick decides to discuss his new relationship with Richie and whether or not he is just going to be a “fuck buddy”. Coming from Patrick, it sounds awkward and uncomfortable, but so do most things.

When Patrick and Agustin finally say goodbye, it is the end of an era, and Patrick begins saying those beautiful golden lyrics, “Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again…” What is it that ties gay men to the Golden Girls? Are they the original Mean Girls? Or perhaps it’s just the cheesecake.

Patrick fumbles his way through a date with Richie. After Agustin informed him that there is a good chance Richie’s penis is uncut if he’s a “real Mexican”, Patrick spent the afternoon googling images so that he would know exactly how to deal with an uncircumcised guy. They go out for beers, and it is clear that Richie really wants to get to know Patrick, he asks him questions that Patrick just shrugs off. Patrick’s only goal seems to be to get Richie in bed and find out once and for all, cut or uncut?

He pushes booze down his throat, and says awkward things like “cheers to more beers”. They make their way back to Patrick’s apartment and things start to heat up, only to cool down moments later when Patrick gets his question answered. He is cut. Patrick starts to giggle which prompts Richie to ask him why, starting a conversation that made me want to pluck out my eyes. We’ve all been there, when you reach down and you’re not sure if you’re going to find a turtle-neck or a crew-cut, but Patrick is 29, is this really his first experience with an uncircumcised member?

He explains that he spent the afternoon looking at uncut penises and that he thought that Richie might be. Why would anyone ever admit to that embarrassing google search? Because Patrick doesn’t know any better, and unfortunately for him, ignorance is not bliss. “I think we’re looking for different things, it’s no big deal, it’s cool” Richie says while he puts his clothes back on his furry body. Patrick flops around like a fish out of water trying to get him to stay, but he’s gone. Patrick doesn’t know what he wants.

He calls Agustin to discuss how horrible the whole situation was, “Everything was fine until I acted like all I wanted to do was suck on his uncut cock… I think I may be a racist as well” Patrick asked Richie about his family at the bar, waiting to hear where exactly they were “from”, meaning which country other than the United States. “He’s a good guy, but we get together I act like a crazy person.” Yes, you do Patrick.

Hopefully this encounter will be a lesson for Patrick to smarten up and actually pursue Richie for a relationship and not just someone for a booty-call every once in a while.

Dom meets up with his ex-meth-head, ex-boyfriend Ethan. We learn that Dom gave Ethan eight thousand dollars for treatment to get him sober years back. Even though Ethan is clean now, and acts as though he has changed and apologizes for his past, “I’m sorry I took advantage of you” he still makes Dom feel like a piece of shit. It takes Dom cruising on gay-GPS app Grindr to find a young bottom twink who knows all the words to the musical Wicked — who doesn’t? I saw it five times when it was in Toronto and twice on Broadway — to “fuck the pain away.”

The 28-year old muscle-twink gushes over Dom’s adult apartment and great view because he lives only a couple floors down. This is one of the many issues that come up with Grindr and apps like it, sure it’s convenient for finding someone nearby, but what happens when they’re too close? When they live in the same building? Inviting someone over for a quick roll in the hay is one thing, but what about seeing them hungover on a Sunday afternoon when you come in with your bucket of KFC and Mccain deep-n-delicious cake? Been there, done that.

After some self reflection (Dom has sex with him in front of his bedroom mirror) and chat with his roommate, Dom realizes he’s a walking cliche and that Ethan hasn’t really changed. He’s still the guy who capitalizes on Dom’s generosity, whether it’s eight thousand for a stint in rehab, or covering his Starbucks “Refresher” and Protein Box.

I loved how Dom’s roommate Doris talked about hating people who call things by their specific product name (Starbucks Refresher), it is definitely a type, and they are the worst type. “Can somebody pass me my Yoplait Yoptimal Yogurt?” No. No, I can’t.

When Dom finally speaks his mind, he loses it for a moment and calls out to the clients that Ethan is seeing, “Once a meth-head motherfucker, always a meth-head!” It may have been a little much, but I do like seeing this commanding side of Dom and hope that this interaction lights the much needed spark for him to pursue a goal other than topping a blonde ten years his junior.

Agustin is starting to settle in with Frank, and it is pretty adorable. Frank finds a piece of artwork Agustin made when he was seventeen, a unicorn collage made from gay porn clippings. Frank begs him to let him hang it next to the doorway where everyone can see, but Agustin isn’t budging.

I am starting to really fall in love with Agustin, maybe it’s because I too am in a committed relationship and sometimes the idea of staying in and watching something on a laptop with your partner instead of going out seems like the best possible option. “We can just check in somewhere cool on Facebook” Frank tells Agustin, something that is both hilarious and hits close to home. It also shows again how heavily reliant most people are on the internet and social media, but especially gay men. With apps like Scruff and Grindr and countless websites,we’ve really paved the way for meeting other queers like ourselves.

When I was younger and living in a smaller city, going online was the only place you felt free enough to discuss openly who you were, even if it was with a fake profile picture and altered stats. It helped you come into your own, and then maybe cum somewhere else.

After Frank falls asleep, Agustin (in just his briefs) runs to the wall and decides to hang up his cock-filled unicorn, maybe domestic life is really for him.

I’ve also discovered that the show makes a great drinking game: Drink every time they say the title Looking. Drink every time Doris speaks. Drink every time somebody gets naked. Hopefully we can look forward to more of the latter.


Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

Showdown: Boxed wine vs. bottled wine

By Nicola Burrows

There has been a long-standing stereotype that has haunted boxed wine. Some suggest that it’s cheap, low quality and dissatisfying to the taste buds. In reality, when the characteristics of boxed wine are compared with those of bottled wine, the stereotype doesn’t prove to be true.

These words may conjure up images of drinking back in college. Oh, how times have changed. Today, chic packaging has made cardboard the new “it” product for thinking inside the box. As one of the fastest growing segments of the wine industry, high-quality boxed wines are getting attention. Australia has led the way since the majority of wine Down Under is sold in boxes. Now people are getting hip to the idea that good wine can come in something other than a bottle.

Boxed wines make a trip to the beach a breeze. They’re your answer. Not only are wine boxes ideal for big gatherings, they are environmentally friendly, with some reducing waste by nearly 90 percent of the equivalent bottle.

Convenience is also a factor. Bag in box technology, which is used in many boxed wines, allows the wine to stay fresh for up to four weeks. As the wine is consumed, the bag collapses. This, along with an airtight spigot to pour, keeps oxygen from getting in to ruin the wine. No more worries about what to do with leftover bottles.

Box sizes have also gone creative. Instead of the standard five litre size, higher quality boxes have reduced their size. Most range from three litre down to one litre, containing just over a standard size 750ml bottle.  There are even mini boxes that hold enough for a single glass of wine.

So if going green, drinking affordably and having fun while sipping interest you, then it’s time to reach for a box. You just might like what you taste.


Most people bring bottles of wine to a variety of events like outdoor parties, holiday celebrations and birthday parties. Boxed wines eliminate the risk of breaking a bottle and are also more insulated, causing the wine to stay colder longer.

Fresh Factor

Most wine enthusiasts will tell you that a bottle of wine is best when finished a day or two after opening it. This is not the case with boxed wine. The bag inside the box stays airtight around the wine as it is dispensed, and boxed wine will stay fresh for about four weeks after opening.

Reducing Waste

When it comes to the environment, it is important to recycle our waste. One box of wine reduces the amount of waste produced by 90 percent when compared to one bottle of wine.

Networking — online and off

By Nicole Duquette

The idea of networking makes me shudder. I dread the thought of attending seminars and conventions because of the expectation that the entire event will be spent schmoozing. I’m just not a schmoozer. Luckily, the internet has made it possible to start networking without ever having to get out of your pajamas.

Joining LinkedIn is a good place to start building a professional online presence and it’s also a great place for marketing yourself in the industry you would like to work in. When building your profile, highlight the skills that make you qualified for the position you want, not the job you already have. When I was fresh out of university, even though I wasn’t yet a professional writer, I set up my LinkedIn profile as such, so that people viewing my profile knew what I was interested in. I also joined writing and publishing industry groups, to familiarize myself with the issues in the industry. Taking it one step further, I reviewed the profiles of people working at jobs I was interested in. By doing this, I was able to get an idea of the type of education and work experience that was necessary to do the jobs I was going after.

Another useful site for marketing yourself in the industry: On this site, you can create what is essentially an internet business card. You are provided with a page to include a picture, a short description of yourself, and links to other sites, like your LinkedIn profile. I now always include the link to my page on all my social networking sites and at the end of my personal emails. From this simple gesture, I have received numerous replies from people who say they look forward to reading my work, or that they know someone else who is a writer. It is a great way to start a conversation and build up a strong networking base.

Online networking can also help get your face-to-face networking off the ground. Try sending out a mass email to your contact list, explaining that you are interested in getting into a certain industry and looking to be introduced to someone who may be able to help. I did this once and met an editor who lived next door to a family friend, and a columnist whose husband knew my dad. These people were happy to talk to me because we were introduced through mutual acquaintances, and it was much less intimidating for me than approaching a complete stranger.

After getting your feet wet with face-to-face networking, try joining a volunteer group or a sports team—you could even bring a friend. It’s a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and be able to bond over your shared activity before broaching the subject of professional interests.

Networking still isn’t my favourite task, as I’m still mustering the courage to go to a Business After Five meeting, but I’ve found that using online networking to gradually approach in-person networking makes the arduous task somewhat less intimidating.

Kitchen queen

By Shannon Hunter
This article was originally published on October 11, 2012

I’m not a very domestic gal. My room looks like a clothing bomb went off and I frequently let my apartment descend into dust covered madness. My fridge has more alcohol and condiments than it does food; I am no Florence Henderson. But occasionally, when I really like a boy, I cook for him. It doesn’t sound like a big deal to those with domestic prowess; for me, it’s huge.

Last night, I made dinner for Mr. Unexpected. He had never had macaroni and cheese that didn’t come from a box, and to anyone who’s ever had the real thing, that is a crime.

He lay on my couch while I cooked, after I promptly told him to, “Get the hell out of my kitchen.” I mixed, boiled and baked it all into a wonderful bubbly dinner treat and it felt great. I enjoyed being a little domestic, even if it was only for an evening.

What I like about Mr. Unexpected is that he lets me be myself. He likes the quirky weird girl, the dedicated driven work obsessed girl and the kitchen queen. He likes it all and never asks me to be anything I’m not.

With City Boy and Country Boy, I always felt like I was giving them only pieces of myself; holding back the parts that I think are strange, hiding the parts that are insecure or scared.  Mr. Unexpected calls me out when I try to hide any part of me and it’s incredibly freeing to just be myself and know that he won’t be put off by even the darkest parts of me.

Too often, we date boys that only want the best parts of us. They want to see the shiny bits but they aren’t at all interested in why you are who you are. They don’t care how we became who we are today, and they don’t want to know what goes on behind the curtains; they want the perfect version of ourselves that we present to the world.

Mr. Unexpected may not be perfect for me, the way I thought Country Boy was. He may not be as together as City Boy was and he’s definitely not who I would have picked for myself, but he makes me feel like I am perfect just as I am and that is priceless to me.

For as long or as short as this dance we’re doing lasts, I will walk away knowing that there is someone out there who sees me for who I am. He doesn’t judge and actually likes all of the strange puzzle pieces that come together to make me, me.

Isn’t that what dating is all about? It’s about finding that person who is equally weird and confused. He doesn’t run away just because you have the entire Gilmore Girls series on DVD or that you sleep with a stuffed Sonic when you’re sad or that you think pickles and peanut butter is basically the most deliciously strange snack out there.

Maybe I’m wrong, but for now it’s nice not to have to hide anymore.

Let’s make it official

By Shannon Hunter
This article was originally published on October 25, 2012

It’s been about a month and a half since I started seeing Mr. Unexpected. He wandered into my life and has been surprising me since that first night. He still isn’t my type, he’s different in a way that is as unexpected as the name I’ve given him here, and that might be my favourite thing about him.

But in the age of Facebook nothing is official until you update your status and let the world know that you’re ‘In a Relationship.’  I don’t have a relationship status on Facebook, that field is left empty and I don’t plan on changing that. When the Big Ex and I broke up, I was all of a sudden receiving messages from ‘friends’ I hadn’t seen in a decade who wanted to tell me how sorry they felt for me; it was then that I decided that I didn’t want to have a public relationship status anymore.

Now that I’m wondering if Mr. Unexpected and I should make it official, I am once again thinking about the dreaded relationship status. While I would be comfortable committing myself to him, I am in no way interested in updating my non-existent status. I’ve noticed that whenever someone changes their status to ‘In a Relationship’ friends start to post congratulatory messages. It’s as if we feel the need to award someone for no longer being a sad spinster lady completely forgetting that being single isn’t a bad thing; some people actually enjoy being single, they like playing the field or they haven’t found the one and aren’t willing to settle.

So while I don’t want all 999 of my Facebook friends to start commenting on my choice to be with the same person for an extended period of time, I’m not against the idea of committing to someone. It’s just been a long time since I’ve done it and I’m not sure I remember how.

I hate serious conversations. Hate Them. I don’t like the uncertainty and I certainly don’t want to be the one to bring it up because in all honesty, I’m not even sure I know how to have that conversation without getting really nervous. When I get nervous I tend to fumble, talk too quickly and blush like a school girl. Most boys find this adorable or charming but for me it’s embarrassing and the embarrassment tends to make me even more nervous.

I haven’t dated someone in an exclusive way since the Big Ex, and there is a small part of me that wonders if I can even do it. Can I be monogamous? Can I commit to being with just one person for the foreseeable future? If I want to be his girlfriend can I just skip the awkward conversation and only use the word in my head? Should I keep dating around and enjoy my twenties? Why am I such a headcase?

All of these questions have been floating around in my head this week, but, when I really think about it, the only thing that matters to me is that he is in my life, the rest is just details.

The art of wine cellaring

By Nicola Burrows

It seems ridiculous to call them cellars as they are the most celebrated crafted wine establishments ever seen. While some are contemporary others can surround you in the hills of Tuscany. A vintage surrounded by deep rich mahogany is the epitome of wine cellars, and savouring a stunningly favourite vintage is the most well respected investment in the history of wine connoisseurs.The art of wine cellaring protects your investment and gracefully matures the wine into something more complex and interesting than the wine in its youth. Furthermore, the ambiance of spectacularly designed wine cellars serves as the best wine tasting experience. A dusty bottle of wine that has aged over 20 years has worked to provide the ultimate taste enhancement for discerning wine enthusiasts worldwide. The Art of Wine Cellaring is as imperative as producing a great bottle of wine, and the goal of cellaring wine is to prolong the life of these wines, giving the wines a stable environment to age. Here are five tips to creating the optimal wine cellar.

Position and Peace

An essential part in cellar and wine management is the peace and position of the wines. The bottles need to be kept safely in a horizontal manner so that they are not disturbed in any case. The bottles need to lay horizontally and always be in touch with the cork to prevent them from drying.


Protect wine from strong and direct sunlight as it could have an adverse effect on the body and aroma of the wine. Darkness is the best option when maintaining a wine cellar.


Keep the humidity level high to avoid cork shrinking from the outside. For best results, maintain the humidity between 60-75% and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wine Tasting Room

Wine rooms require temperature control and design for tasting and entertaining. You need to have easy access to your wine while still being able to host wine tastings without worrying about the warming effects on the wine.

The Mahogany Wine Cellar Is Best

The Mahogany wine cellar is the epitome of wine storage. Other woods simply don’t measure up to the colour, the durability, and the absolute strength of mahogany. Wine racks made from mahogany are strong and can hold more bottles.


Freedom of expression: The pack mentality online can make you afraid to speak your mind

by Heather Lochner

Just a few months ago, my kids and I took a trip to the Lego store. My son had been saving his pennies and wanted to buy a new Lego kit. He had been eyeing up a Star Wars battle ship and finally had enough sheckles to buy it himself. While I am not a fan of “battle toys,” I do understand my son loves to build these ships and fly them around the house.

As we were leaving, my daughter loudly complained, “why don’t they make any Lego for girls?” My equal- opportunity mothering kicked in and I tried to show her some Lego that would appeal to her; but all she wanted was pink, pretty Lego. So, it was with excitement that I greeted the announcement by Lego of a “girl’s” line. Not because I believed girls need pink, but because my daughter wanted it.

I was about to take my euphoria to Twitter and Facebook, but then I saw the tweets and posts. From people who I respect and like, anger was being voiced at this new development. I saw things like – “So proud to be included in the list of activists who are asking LEGO to rethink their marketing and new products created for girls! The petition submitted to LEGO yesterday has over 47k signatures!” And that was just one of many that I saw.

Suddenly my euphoria ended. At first I doubted myself and my parenting. But then I realized, these comments silenced me. They made me more embarrassed of what my daughter wanted. They made me rethink my voice and my support. My fear of being a lone wolf in a crowd of many, prevented me from typing.

I am a little disappointed in myself. I feel silly that I was intimidated to say, “hey, I like this!” I was more worried about negative tweets than about freedom of expression.

Social media is a great place to have a voice. It is a great medium for public discussion, debate and in some cases activation. But what happens when people feel silenced or embarrassed to voice an opinion? How do we overcome that? How, as a society can we let everyone have an opinion and not feel uncomfortable about expression? Do I need a thicker skin or do others feel the same?

E-mail 101

by Heather Lochner

Out of curiosity, how many times have you received an email that has left you shaking your head in bewilderment? Wondering, “what the heck is she thinking?” Or to be less diplomatic – “why is she being so rude?” It happens to me on a fairly regular basis. You see, I have this friend who has no clue how to properly converse on email.

Her lack of proper email etiquette usually happens when we have group emails. It starts off innocently enough. Someone sends out an email saying “Hey everyone, has been ages since we have seen one another. How about we get together for dinner? Here are some dates, and I think we should try such and such a place out.”

If not initiating the email, I am usually one of the first to respond. My email usually says, “Fabulous idea. Here are the times that work for me. Thanks for getting this going and I can’t wait to see everyone.” Others usually respond in the same vein.

And then my friend weighs in with an email saying something like, “Doesn’t work for me.”

And I sit there, reading her response wondering – what the heck do I do with that? Do we plan without her? Offer up some new dates? My first reaction is usually anger. I want to see a “Thanks,” or “Great Idea, but…” I want her to offer up a solution. Not leave us to guess what to do. After my frustration subsides, I move to “oh well,” and hope the rest of us continue planning. But I always wonder, why? Why are her responses so limited?

Until I realized, she really doesn’t know any better.

After much thought I have come up with the following five points to remember when emailing. While they may seem obvious – for some they are new knowledge.

1. Email has no tone. It is up to you to set up the feeling of the email.
2. Using all capitals can come across as yelling, not enthusiasm.
3. Re-read what you wrote and make sure it sounds okay and not insulting.
4. When sending out an email to a large group of people, use the BCC function. Not everyone wants their email address publicized.
5. Don’t use email to avoid a situation. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to go when expressing something personal.

I’ve found that following these simple tips makes my use of e-mail much more effective in both my personal and professional lives.

It’s my party

Tomorrow is my 25th birthday and despite the fact that everything is very new and totally unofficial with Mr. Unexpected he’s planning on joining me for the festivities.

When I invited him, we hadn’t started seeing each other yet; he was just a fun boy who gave good banter and there was zero pressure associated with my friendly Facebook invite. As far as he knew it, it was just another party and I was just another girl. Now things are different, we’ve been seeing each other for about two weeks and he’s going to spend the night celebrating my life with my closest friends.

Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day: these days are relationship kryptonite. They are difficult to get through, full of expectation and heavy on the pressure.

I’m so used to boys who fear the big days, who worry about meeting the people in my life, who don’t introduce me to the people in their lives. I’d forgotten what it felt like to have someone who isn’t afraid of actually being with me.

The Big Ex and I were together for over a year and he never once introduced me to his family. It should have been a warning sign, but I was too blinded by love to ask why he was hiding me from his friends and family. I promised myself after we broke up that I’d never let a boy keep me a secret again. I’d never be a ensconced girlfriend. I would never let someone make me feel like I wasn’t worthy of a formal introduction. I’m fantastic and if you’re with me then you should want to share my fantasticness with everyone in your life.

The only thing I’m worried about is that my friends won’t like him as much as I do, and I need them to. After a string of less than wonderful boyfriends, I look to my friends to tell me if I’m getting into something I shouldn’t.

I found out, after the mess with City Boy, that one of my closest girlfriends had been biting her tongue the entire time I was with him. But, she was afraid to tell me; I don’t want that to happen again. I don’t want my girlfriends to ever be afraid to tell me what they think of the man in my life because while he may not be a forever boy they are forever friends.

Tomorrow may not feel like a big deal to Mr. Unexpected, but his willingness to attend means the world to me. It’s a breath of fresh air after a year that included months of waiting for nothing, a seven word break-up and a cancelled trip to Shangri-La.

Maybe 25 has more promise than 24, and even if it doesn’t at least, I’ll be starting the year off with a smile.