Greta gets down and dirty

(This column appeared in The Sault Star Jan. 31, 2023)

What would you say if I suggested that teen crusader Greta Thunberg’s environmental activism is a product of small breast syndrome?

Don’t tell me. I already know.

You’d heap scorn upon me for my sexism and crudeness. Many would bombard me with screeds about the dangerous consequences of body-shaming. A few might threaten to de-man me.

And I’d agree with you, except for the de-manning part.

In truth, I don’t know or care or even want to contemplate the mammarial mass of the famed environmentalist who has been making giant anti-carbon footprints globally since she was 15. It’s irrelevant.

Whatever motivates her, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a feeling of inadequacy about breast size, I’m all for it.

But I’m confident many of the same people who would be quick to vilify me for that spurious suggestion were applauding and high-fiving just over a month ago when Thunberg suggested one of her antagonists was compensating for a small penis.

In case you missed it, she became the hottest thing on Twitter just before the new year when she burned a so-called social media influencer.

It happened when Andrew Tate trolled the internationally famous 20-year-old. Tate is a 36-year-old former pro kickboxer, self-described woman-hater and all-round despicable person. Some parents have been dismayed to discover their teenage sons are falling under the sway of Tate’s ultra-macho mantra.

But when he tried to put the boots to Greta, she blindsided him.

Tate tagged her in a post about his “33 cars” and offered to email her a “complete list of . . . their enormous emissions.”

“Yes, please do enlighten me,” she replied. “Email me at”

In short order that became one of the most-liked tweets of all time.

And to boot, the next day Romanian police arrested Tate and his brother and charged them in an investigation into rape and human trafficking of women, allegedly to produce pornography. Later, authorities seized 15 of his treasured high-emitting luxury gas-guzzlers.

Now, it would be hard to come up with someone more deserving of being publicly phallic-shamed by one of the most famous young women in the world. 

I mean, this self-styled alpha male apparently sent a woman a voice note in which he appears to admit to raping her, saying “the more you didn’t like it, the more I enjoyed it,” according to VICE World News.

And if there is a man who might be obsessed with penis size, someone who spews Tate’s stone-age machismo is a likely candidate. So perhaps Thunberg’s jab was well-aimed.

But the idea that men compensate for feelings of phallic inadequacy by accumulating Lamborghinis or huge, noisy trucks with oversized tires is a tired trope, though it seems to me it’s deployed a lot by female environmentalists on social media.

I’ve yet to see any scientific evidence of a correlation between penis size and horsepower. 

Might as well claim that women who are on a first-name basis with all the clerks at Winners and whose sofas are hidden by a mountain of throw cushions from Wayfair suffer from breast size envy.

Yes, both breast size and penis size insecurity would seem to be quite common. About 20,000 Canadian women go under the knife for breast enhancement each year. 

Only about 9,000 penis enhancements are performed each year in the entire world. But some studies report half of men think their penis is smaller than average (and wouldn’t that be about right statistically?)

Those men worry even though something like 85% of women express satisfaction with their partner’s penis size (although hubby was in the room when they took the survey).

Regardless, I don’t get why people feel smug about blaming a man’s odious behaviour on a physical quality that he can’t do anything about, rather than a character defect that he could and should remedy. Doesn’t that just let him off the hook?

I think Tate has some serious shortcomings, but probably they are in his psyche rather than his physique.

And if people drive fancy cars or souped-up trucks because of perceived inadequacies beneath the waistline, does that mean the guy in that eight-year-old minivan or riding that bicycle probably needs an extra-large codpiece?

Likewise, is every man who is endowed with genitalia of a certain size automatically a wonderful fellow?

Those questions are only slightly more stupid than the penis-size proposition.

From the time at age 16, when she took delegates at the UN Climate Action Summit to task for their limp responses to our climate crisis, Greta Thunberg has punched well above her weight.

She doesn’t need to land bawdy blows below the belt.

Hey look, that bozo in the newspaper is me


The wonderful fabric art behind me, Across Canada and Around Town, is by Nancy Sachro of Sault Ste. Marie. I thought it made me look rather saintly. Dangerously saintly.

By Nadine Robinson

Sault This Week

Jan. 23, 2023

When you pick up a copy of Sex is a Four-Letter Word and Other Misconceptions by Tom Mills, you may be expecting sexual content.
Even the book cover is a nude 16th century painting of Adam and Eve that Mills has had to adorn with price stickers as modesty bars for some vendors. While the book is provocative, it is more thought-provoking; and it’s more likely to excite your funny bone than other parts of your anatomy.
“In going through my old columns, I noticed that I had written so often about sex that I should probably change my name to Dr. Ruth, hence the book’s folder was labelled “sex.”” Mills said. “So, when it came to write a title, “sex” was the first word that popped into my mind, even though most of the stories have nothing to do with sex, except perhaps in a Freudian sense.”
His love of puns drove the rest of the title: “I thought the fact that Sex actually isn’t a four-letter word would convey instantly that I was not being serious, while the allusion to four-letter words would be a bit of nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Know what I mean? The subtitle’s “misconceptions” is a bonus pun.”

The resemblance is uncanny
The resemblance is uncanny

The award-winning columnist, humourist, author and journalist modified several of his old humour columns into the content of the book back in 2017. He’d been told for years by readers: “You should write a book,” and so he finally did, seven years after he’d retired as the news editor and columnist at The Sault Star. He came to the Sault in 1980 as an editor and reporter. Previously he’d been at The Winnipeg Tribune, The Niagara Falls Review, The Cambridge Reporter, and The Woodstock Sentinel-Review.
He was born in North York in the GTA into a “fairly creative household” where he and his sisters were always performing and creating plays. Once Mills was hired for a job in radio, but then he heard himself in the voice test and decided that he had a voice for print (whether or not he had a face for radio).

Out of all of his writing, doing his humour column titled Humour Me was what he preferred. He has always liked making people laugh and he enjoys the levity of making up his own facts. Mills estimates that he has approximately one thousand such columns in print.
One of his favourite columns, due in part to readers’ positive feedback is: Some Men Who Travel Together With Two Small Kids Are Not Gay. He had taken a cruise vacation with his son and grandkids and a surprising number of people assumed they were a gay couple.

“Yet as I note in the story, a gay friend once told me that no one who dresses as poorly as I do could possibly be mistaken for anything but straight.” Mills said.
“The story tells how a young woman wearing next to nothing parked her protuberance next to me in a hot tub, obviously not expecting me to sprout Marty Feldman eyes. And it reflects on the irony that while many people on cruises pretend they’re someone they aren’t, I went to some lengths to come out publicly as a grandpa.”

He’s proud of the book and the title, though he says: “Some of my hockey buddies like to remind me that “goal” and “puck” and “miss” and “lose” are also four-letter words.”
Mills has always played hockey, and guesstimates that he’s played for 50 teams in seven countries. While he jokes that he started playing on prehistoric bone and stone skates, the truth is that he did start playing with a ball glove as his goalie glove and his pads had 3/8 wood dowels in them as protection. While he has updated his equipment, Mills still plays multiple times a week in goal, though he likes to extract revenge once in a while as a forward. His author photo on the book is him in an old-time hockey mask.
Marrying his two passions together might be Mills’ next project. “I have a really great concept for a funny novel about hockey.” He joked, “I could do a nonfiction one but I’d have to wait for a bunch of people to die, so they couldn’t sue. Truth is stranger than fiction.”

During his career, he was a two-time winner and three-time runner-up for the Ontario Newspaper Awards (ONA) [Sandy] Baird Humour Writing Award, was a runner-up for the ONA Joan May Award for Columns, and won the Osprey Media Award for Excellence in Editing.
Mills can be found at local author events, though he doesn’t typically read from the book. “Generally at events I read something new and as yet unpublished rather than a book excerpt,” said Mills. “I don’t like revisiting my own historical fiction and tend to be more invested in whatever I’m working on at the moment. Besides, having to come up with something new for a reading forces me to … come up with something new. I guess that makes me like those musicians who insist on playing stuff from their new CD at a concert when all the audience wants to hear is their greatest hits.”

For a copy of Sex is a Four-Letter Word and Other Misconceptions, head to The Artesian at 514 Queen St. E., Stone’s Office Supply, City Meat Market, The Post Gift Shop at the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, or Feeding Your Soul, at 96 White Oak Drive E. Mills can also be contacted directly at or by phone at 705-777-0364 to arrange purchase and delivery for bulk orders or autographed copies.
Mills is on the Internet at and on Twitter and Facebook @humourmetom.
Nadine Robinson is a local freelance writer. You can reach her at or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @theinkran.

Auto ads are downright unnatural

Published in The Sault Star Nov. 23, 2022

Some of the people who make car and truck commercials should get out more. Their concept of nature is downright unnatural.

One of the central themes of their auto ads is that we should buy a new car or truck so we can experience nature.

Big, bad and not-too-damned-beautiful wolf

Or, as one ad puts it, “head into the big, wild, raging, so-damned-beautiful-it-hurts world.”

Venturing into nature is the only way to find out what we’re made of, the ad insists.

Then the ad shows someone parachuting into a canyon. Simply driving your jeep into a canyon to see what it’s made of would lower the resale value, I guess.

And really, must it be a canyon? Wouldn’t parachuting off something like the CN Tower test your mettle just as well?

Regardless, I’d say buying a new vehicle will tell you as much about your credit score as about yourself.

Some of these ad-makers glorifying nature don’t really know much about it. Their version of the wild world seems to have been developed by watching Disney or Pixar films.

For example, one ad features a little boy in a car seat, waving a wolf toy and offering up his best wolf howl.

His parents indulgently drive to a clearing in the woods, where a wolf obligingly appears and howls back at the boy, to the youngster’s delight.

Now, I do a lot of hiking through the bush and sometimes see wolf tracks or wolf poop. But I’ve seen wolves only at a great distance. Wolves fear humans, despite what fairy tales and advertisements might suggest.

I imagine a wolf might trot up to a vehicle if it had a deer carcass draped over it, but not to entertain a preschooler.

Besides, while the family vehicle in the ad is stopped on a grassy clearing, the wolf ostensibly just a few feet away is standing on a huge expanse of packed snow. That gap in terrain is as wide as the gap in my credulity.

In another ad a woman is driving . . . sorry, a woman is bouncing behind the wheel as she sings and waves her arms and looks everywhere but at the road ahead. For all I know she’s also buying Christmas gifts online; drivers can do stuff like that in modern vehicles.

Her alarm beeps and the automatic braking system activates, saving her from colliding with a moose. The beast then walks alongside the vehicle and peers in benevolently at, you guessed it, a child in the back seat.

I’d like to see an ABS pull off that emergency stop if a car barreling down the Mile Hill encountered an oversized ungulate that meandered up from the flats. I’d like to see it because vehicles hit moose there all too often, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The only time I almost hit a moose, one foggy night on a Goulais back road, the so-damned-beautiful beast, apparently affronted, stomped threateningly toward my car’s hood, forcing me to back up for about 50 metres before it took to the bush.

That moose displayed absolutely no curiosity about the kids in my vehicle. Like other wild animals, moose do not audition for social media videos.

I’m all in favour of people driving to places where they can explore nature. But in truth, the only nature most people targeted by those ads are likely to encounter is human nature at its worst. They’re doomed to find out what they’re made of on the freeway, making sudden stops and dodging stunt drivers.

Even here in the north, most people spend about half of their driving time leaving nature behind. Sure, I take my truck to some wild places, but its most frequent destination is the hockey arena, where I find out what I’m made of by failing to keep as many pucks out of nets as I once could.

And vehicles are not nature’s friend. U.S. agencies blame cars and trucks for nearly 75 per cent of carbon monoxide pollution and 27 per cent of greenhouse emissions.

As well, many of the features that make modern vehicles so-damned-expensive-it-hurts are there expressly to overcome nature: the aforementioned ABS, various traction and four-wheel low features, climate-controlled cabs, heated seats and mirrors, stereo systems to drown out any natural noise that dares penetrate the sound-insulted cabins. 

Some truck and ATV ads acknowledge that vehicles and nature are not always best buddies. 

In those ads, rugged rigs, macho even with the most feminine of ecstatically grinning drivers, churn up desert-like terrain, spitting out endangered plants behind them, or spew stones as they bounce along through fields, scattering bunnies and badgers before them.

In one ad, a truck churns up huge muddy ruts along a bucolic bush road. Then a timely rain shower cleans it up much better than a couple of trips though the carwash could. It’ll look real purty parked in the driveway in Mississauga.

In essence, ad-makers offer up two views of nature for potential purchasers of vehicles. You can anthropomorphize it. Or you can spin your chunky tires though it. 

Neither one revs up my engine.