Thursday, January 31, 2008

words and phrases I would ban - part 1.

NEAR MISS – If you nearly miss something, then you hit it.

IRONICAL – This is not a word. Last week I heard some intellectual use the word several times in a CBC interview. I’m not sure, but I think I heard the interviewer snicker.

LIKE – When used properly, I have no quarrel with this word. It is useful. However, most of the time it is used instead of a pregnant pause, or an ‘ummm’. I would prefer the ummm or silence. I’m not listening to you anyway if you say ‘like’ like a lot.

I.E. – Used instead of saying ‘for example’. It actually means is ‘id est’ which is Latin for ‘that is’. Why are you speaking in Latin? What kind of elite asshole are you to assume that everyone will understand your archaic language skills? I would say that it should perhaps remain in the realm of the printed word, but on second thought, why wouldn’t you just use ‘that is’? Unless of course you are writing a novel in Latin, which I find to be somewhat noble, although largely useless.

LOL - Are you honestly that lazy? You can't just type 'that was funny,' 'I peed myself,' or 'let me hire you because you are funny.' This ban applies to all other acronyms that are increasingly seeping into our spoken languages. It is only cute when used in irony, and then, only sparingly.

WAKEY,WAKEY. HANDS OFF THE SNAKEY - This is the most unpleasant and crude wake up call short of a fart to the face. My Dad used to say some version of it, and my treeplanting foreman used to say it when the van finally arrived at some black fly infested cut block in the middle of a swamp. Either way, it never ever is the harbinger of good times.

REGULARTORS! MOUNT UP! - I've worked in a testosterone soaked job for much of my adult life. Every year someone drags this quote up and just won't let go of it saying it before the van or helicopter leaves for the work site. Why? Are you trying to make the job seem more like a wild west ride of pretend vigilantes? Is the job not already cool enough for you that you have to add a further level of fantasy? Just knock it off. I don't want to hear it this summer.

OUAIS – This Québécois French for ‘oui’ (yes – if you didn’t catch that). It sounds like a duck sound in the middle of an otherwise charming sing song like French accent. Is it really necessary?

SO I SAID... – I think that that is implied when you tell a story. Perhaps just once add that to the mix to make sure I know that it is important to know that you actually said something. If you say it at the start of every sentence... I’m not listening anymore. I’m probably watching the internet while you babble to me on the phone.

ANYTHING SPOKEN ALOUD IN ELVISH OR KLINGON– It’s great that you’ve learnt a new language. It would have been more helpful to the world if you had learnt a language that was in use other than in make believe land. By all means, have meetings about it, just don’t expect my respect when you speak in make believe languages in public and to non-geeks while laughing at other’s ignorance of your somewhat useless knowledge. Seriously. We have many languages on the verge of extinction. Learn one of them. Exceptions made for those employed in actually creating fantasy worlds, whatever the medium - because we all need to escape reality at least once a day.

CHANGE– Jesus! Have we not heard this word enough in the last 3 months? I like Americans, but honestly your complex election process has given the world nothing but clips of politicians claiming a need for change. Who is falling for this? No one has said what sort of change the world is to expect in the next year or eight.

RONALD REAGAN WAS OUR BEST PRESIDENT– Again, I do genuinely like the average American, but No he wasn’t! You have 43 presidents to choose from. Stop listening to Bill O’Reilly and find someone better. Maybe someone who didn’t attack small countries... that should thin out the list a fair bit. I suggest John Quincy Adams.

ANY WORDS THAT YOU DON'T KNOW THE MEANING OF - Just a good rule to follow. If you cannot define the word and use it in a sentence, then you shouldn't use it. You might think it makes you seem smarter, but it doesn't.

I’m sick with a head cold, so I’m grumpy. If I offended you because you happen to be a star trek type person, or think Latin words are fun to inject into your limited vocabulary to make up for something – Bring it on like Donkey Kong!

Leave me a comment and fight me, damn it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

blog finally pays off.

I forgot to mention the first tangible hint that this web presence has not gone fully unnoticed. Although I am so appreciative of those of you who have commented, I still have to take it on faith that you are actual real people and not a computer or robot encouraging me to blather on for reasons beyond my current comprehension.

Sometime ago, I did a very short review of a new café that bravely popped up in an area replete with nearly countless little cafés. I was brazen enough to demand a free coffee, though I wasn't really serious.

It turns out that the owners of the Em café were paying some attention:

I am one of the owners of EM Café. Thanks for the lovely picture and comments. Stop by anytime for your free coffee! My name is Sonja and I look forward to meeting you.

I went in last week and collected my free coffee. I would have been happy with a simple drip coffee, but a latte was happily placed in front of me along with kind words. Kind words and a smile can be hard to come by in Montréal on a weekday in January.

Café Em is still a very nice place to hang out in, even if you don't receive a free coffee. I forgot my camera at home that day, otherwise I would have posted a picture of what a free coffee looks like, but instead, here is a photo of French Panic's breakfast. You can tell it is hers because I would never eat eggs or egg related dishes. I can't tell you why because I don't know. Some repressed childhood trauma, no doubt. Regardless, eggs make me wretch, and it isn't worth it to eat food that makes you ill.

My thanks for making my day and providing valuable human contact before I headed back into the solitude of my little office.

creepy santa.

I have not been blogging. My brain is currently on pause and there isn't much going on up there this week. I blame a dangerous combination of excellent teevee in the form of an entire season of Dexter on the clarity of DVD, and my old nemesis, procrastination.

Prior to this bout with procrastination, this blog had been my excuse for not doing what I ought to be doing and yet not inducing guilt as a computer game would. I figured it was creative and a good warm up to a day sitting in front of Big Momma Lou - my main computer - editing an impossibly poorly shot documentary. As an aside, if you own a video camera, for the love of god, buy a tripod... and USE IT!

So I'm back to doing this blog stuff. Shooting virtual terrorists is a sad sad way to avoid my editing duties.

Today I give you a photo of a creepy Santa while you consider how to pay that christmas visa bill.

As an adult, I find all Santas creepy. Perhaps it is a reminder of that first big lie that adults feed you, (and that stream of lies just doesn't end, does it?) Maybe it is because I'm a little suspicious about kids lining up to sit on some old guy's knee. I'm not sure, but the only Santa that I currently have much admiration for is the one portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa. This movie holds the christmas movie record for a whopping 170 uses of the word 'fuck', 74 uses of 'shit', 31 uses of 'ass', 10 uses of 'bitch', and 1 use of 'bastard'. I heard tales of parents taking their children to see this in theaters. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I do have an evil side... and it has a nasty sense of humour.

Now I will unplug the internet from my computer and get back to it. Working from home actually sucks worse than putting in time at the office. Strange, but true.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


When I was young, and dreamed of having an Apple IIc at home and the internet hadn't been made available to anyone yet, I used to read the many encyclopedia volumes we possessed. Encyclopedias were perfect for a curious mind like mine that had one failing - no attention span. Born a decade or so later, I would have been given some ritalin. My mother has suggested as much.

I wasn't a difficult child in the way of bouncing off the walls or stealing city buses. I just wanted to know everything all at once without much effort. Can you see how I was purposely built for the digital age? For this reason, I know details about all manner of subjects, but often lack the depth to elaborate too much about it without resorting to hearsay and bullshit. Most people wouldn't have known any of this, since my normal state was one of shyness.

My encyclopedia readings allowed me to do 'research' for homework. What really happened was I looked into the volume I needed to for the task at hand, got bored of it rather quickly, and started leafing through the rest of the volume. Although I was never a good student, I would argue that no one ever asked me about the more interesting stuff I learned. I still know more Canadian history than most of my peers, and I can tell you that Canadian history is not as boring as school would have you believe. I'm a real hit at parties.

Like every boy, I wanted to figure out about girls (mostly because I wasn't invited to their parties all of a sudden, and the adults seemed to support these unfair practices - I was always for equality)... which led to finding another volume higher up on the shelf... the joy of sex. I won't get into that too much except to say I was intrigued, took it to my room, and was promptly caught a day or so later - by my mother. A day late, as it turns out. It was the 1970's version complete with extra body hair. I read through that pretty quickly, both horrified and compelled to absorb as many of these secrets as possible. How sad that I was so unpopular. I had a dangerous amount of knowledge floating about my brain, unused for years.

In the space of last two decades, kids have pushed far past restrictions on calculators in math class and can now simply type anything they want into a web browser and do homework without picking up a book or an over sized pencil or visiting a library. I'm jealous... and then not so much. Without being forced to leaf through heavy books and climb the bookcase, what serendipitous facts will be left undiscovered? Online sex education would be far more traumatic and misleading than drawings of shameless, naked, extremely hairy hippies. As I re-read that last sentence, maybe not.

Now, anyone can edit the current giant of encyclopedias; Wikipedia. The screen capture proves my point. I didn't really understand what the writers of my precious teevee shows were striking about. I'm still sort of confused. However, as an underdog of sorts myself, I almost always side with other underdogs. In an effort to understand why all the re-runs, I went to my favorite website and typed in 'writer's strike'. What came through the browser is closer to the truth. Strikes are bad, and are makeing [sic] many of us angry.

I'm not entirely convinced that this is progress, but I'm slightly jealous of the kids today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

late thursday afternoon picnic.

On Thursday, I went for a picnic.

It was just before 3 pm when I decided that, and mostly because I saw my thermos as I was making coffee. It seems odd to have a thermos that doesn't get enough use, which is also how I feel about my tent.

I added some bailey's, because it was windy out, and I thought bailey's might somehow help with that. Thermoses work better that way.

With a quick stop at the Fruiterie for samosas, since it isn't a picnic without at least a snack, I took off up the mountain. Thanks to the icy pathways, the mountain was nearly deserted. Even the Haitian pot dealers were taking a day off.

I took the picture around 4:15. If you look closely in the windows, you can just make out people working in their offices.

I would very much like to work in an office, so that I could leave the house in the morning and have some sort of responsibility that would slowly fill up my bank account. Of course, that would likely mean the end of mid-week adventures.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

a video that deserves your undivided attention.

This movie is brilliant. It has Bill Murray in it.

The only reason I found it was because I have been watching Flight of the Conchords lately and I've developed a bit of a crush on Kirsten Schaal. I don't think that I will turn into a stalker, but I wonder how many stalkers have said that. In this film she eats a banana - and it isn't sexy.

Of special note is the reference to Wikipedia, one of my most favorite websites. What better use of the internet is there but to allow the masses to be weekend academics? Huzzah!

little white lies.

This is a photo I took a couple of years ago when I was in camera and computer school. I'm not posting this to shock you with visible pubic hair, or to brag that someone got naked in front of my humble little camera. I am illustrating a point. My model is very pretty. She has quite a lovely body and all of my classmates had acknowledged that fact. When I printed these out, in a dark room old school style, I was very pleased with myself. This photo immediately went into my portfolio.

Recently I was asked to do some touch up work. This is what I was able to do after an hour with photoshop.

I have no quarrel with pornography. Every honest person will admit wanting to see naked people, at least at some point in their lives. Watching naked people doing 'stuff' is a natural progression. Humans are a curious species and if we weren't, we wouldn't have bothered to come down from the trees.

However, we do need to accept some basic truths in our modern world. What you see may not be what you see. Every nearly naked underwear ad on giant bill boards has gone through a similar photo retouching process. Every Playboy centerfold has had their skin smoothed out in computer land. You may not even be looking at their actual waist. These people do not exist the way you see them in magazines.... little white lies that lead some of us to stop eating properly and get expensive and unnecessary surgery.

Just the same, if you feel the need to tell some little white lies of your own, I'm available for hire. For the right price, I won't even tell on you.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

survival in space - some tips.

Space is a scary concept. Much like death, it is mysterious in the apparent emptiness of it all. A whole lot of nothing. Strange that our governments spend so much money trying to get there.

Even though I'll likely never get to visit space, cause I didn't do well in math and still haven't found a real world use for all that calculus I've forgotten from university, I feel the need to be prepared. In a fit of insomnia I searched out what would happen if you forgot to close the door on your space ship. I rarely bother to close the screen door which irritates my room mate a great deal, so this is potentially a real concern should I ever suddenly find myself staring at a forgotten and open space door.

According to this site, and several others (because although I like a good story, when it comes to emergencies, people ought not to have urban myths fill their heads even momentarily - thus you can trust my survival tips) this is what you should do.

1. DON'T PANIC - I always begin my survival tips with that advice and it is not to be taken lightly. Panic in any situation always leads to stupidity.

2. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH - This seems contrary to logic, but that last breath of air will not give you anymore time and it will certainly damage your lungs. In which case, should you survive, you will be kicking yourself for hurting your lungs when you would otherwise have recovered perfectly. Wouldn't you want to be able to blow out your birthday candles after this adventure? I suggest breathing out normally.

3. TRY TO GET BACK INSIDE - It's just that simple. The estimate is that you have 15 seconds of usable awake time. If you ignored tip number one regarding panic, you will likely have 10 seconds or less of awake time to do something in. Panic takes up a lot of energy. If you think that 15 seconds is not much time, practice the following: Close your eyes - breath out - count out 'one banana.... two banana....' until you get to 15 banana. That is actually a lot of time to look around and possibly grab onto something, or turn around. You can probably eat a banana in 15 seconds if you work at it - though that would be unbelievably cavalier in a space emergency.

4. RELAX - After 15 seconds, you will pass out. Apparently this is largely painless. You have a further 90 seconds to 2 minutes of survivable time with no long term effects during which time you will have no ability to do anything anyhow. So either you will be rescued and recover with the very best story to tell at parties, or you will be the topic of conversation for many parties to come. Both scenarios have their advantages, but remaining alive will likely insure that you will get laid again, which is almost always better than being dead.

What will not happen to you:

1. You will not explode. Your skin will actually hold everything inside, just like it does most days.
2. Your eyes and tongue will not bulge out creating an ugly lasting impression.
3. Strangely, you will not actually freeze even though space is cold. It is a vacuum and like your thermos, it will insulate you from it's own cold temperature. This makes not very much sense to me the way I have written it, but I will differ to NASA's advice.
4. Your blood will not boil. Turns out that normal blood pressure will somehow magically prevent this.

What will likely happen to you:

1. Someone will grab you and hit you repeatedly for leaving the door open. You won't do it again.
2. You will get a nasty sunburn, even after just a couple of seconds. People will laugh at you and call you lobster face later.
3. Your skin will swell up and that is supposed to be a little painful, but that pain and swelling will go down if you get back inside your space ship.
4. The moisture on your tongue will in fact boil. This happened to some dude with a leaky space suit in a testing facility here on earth. His last memory before falling asleep, was the water on his tongue boiling. What a shitty way to fall asleep.

That's really about it. The photo at the top belongs to me, not NASA. I made it myself and I'm irrationally proud of it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

blog recommendations.

If you look to the right side of this page, you’ll find the usual links to other blogs. Most everyone seems to do this. Some people put every blog they ever visited or anyone that ever commented on their blog. Not me. Nope. I am pretty hard nosed about who gets on my blog list.

French School Confidential – I realize I’m biased with this one, which is why it tops the list. It is written by my very best friend, roommate, and girlfriend (all the same person). She is the one that got me caught up in this blog thing despite my aversion to the very word blog. French Panic is a brilliant writer and quite funny. I am grateful that the content is so good, otherwise I would link with a sense of duty, not honest admiration.

Death Bed Moment – I stumbled on this blog while hitting the next blog button. At least that is how I remember it happening, but my memory is often blurry. I don’t know this person in real life, but she is from Saskatchewan and the friendliness of Saskatchewan people seems to run deep. A little Canadian prairie perspective helps out when the big eastern city I live in feels uncomfortable and cold.

Jen Sees World – An art student in Baltimore that posts her drawings from time to time. I am always impressed with animation. It is one of my first loves. Even her avatar is pretty.

Sanctimony – I believe she came to my blog through visiting French Panic. She boldly posted one of my photos with a caption I wrote... and she fully credited me. The fact that I made someone in California laugh filled me with joy for a full two days. But I wouldn’t have added her to the blog roll if not for good writing.

Brian Garson – This is an old co-worker. We worked for the same nasty man. He was the first one to caution me about the jerk. When I started, I wondered why he was quiet and rarely smiled. A year later, when I was the only employee left in the office, I understood his emotional state. I believe that we share the record time for working for the man. I also believe that he probably smiles more now. We also share a love of photography and his fashion and skateboard photos blow my mind.

Kate Neckel – I think someone else had featured this New Yorker’s pen drawings on a more different blog. An excellent and unique artist, and a denizen of New York cafés. This is someone I would like to be friends with in real life. (Not that I wouldn’t be friends with anyone else featured here).

Painting Small Things – This blog is now abandoned which makes me very sad. It was done by a good friend of mine. He and I spent sometime together smashing walls and learning how to install hardwood floors. What he did was to make a painting a day and the subject matter was always something that most of us would think of as junk. To him, all junk has some inherent beauty in it. He doesn’t write any words. I don’t think he cares for writing words too often.

In(parent)thesis – What a clever little title. What a clever writer. She is the wife of the creator of Painting Small Things. She prefers writing words to painting. She is also a real life friend and more well read than me. Apparently she wrote a novel a month ago or so. At my suggestion/insistence she did include monkeys that are spies but she hasn’t let me read it yet.

– This is not a blog. It is brilliant. If you have not visited this site before, [and if you haven't, you know nothing of the internet] I encourage you to stop reading this cross promotional drivel and set aside the next hour. Click the link NOW! It is the sort of cartoon that makes me laugh... without resorting to a well placed ‘fuck’ or ‘shithead’... so it is appealing even to kids. It is my dream to make a living the way the creators have; no advertising... at all. All money is apparently made by selling t-shirts, DVDs, etc.

There is a lot of crap on the internet. The featured sites appeal to me because they are not pretentious or boring and because most all of them have pictures. I need pictures to read better. Please take the time to visit them and leave comments. Everyone loves comments.

Monday, January 07, 2008

naked polaroid.

Frustrating photo
Everyone likes to see breasts
Polaroid failure

When I was a bus boy for Smitty's Family Restaurant in Edmonton, one of the cooks gave me a ride home. It was the first time I ever saw polaroids of naked women. They were of strippers sitting on the cook's lap and he seemed to be under the impression that the polaroids represented his virility. As a 16 year old geek with the remanents of the lunch rush encrusted on my pants and shoes, I was impressed.

Later that year when I accidentally found a naked polaroid of my father that I assume my mother had taken... I was distinctly unimpressed. A little sick even.

Parents, do not keep hard evidence of your sex lives anywhere accessible to your children.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

nigerian comic explains reggae music.

One time, I got sent to Sierra Leone for a weekend. It was for work. You can meet a lot of people in the space of a long weekend traveling half way around the world. One of the guys I was working with stayed in touch. He sent me this video of a Nigerian comedian called Klint the Drunk. I like it very much.

8 seconds in my head.

I made this with after effects. I'm not sure what blogger did when I uploaded it, but I think it was re-encoded after I encoded it, which is not cool... not cool at all.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

search engine shenanigans.

Sometimes, when I'm busy picking my nose in front of the teevee, French Panic takes over my computer. I'm very proud of her....

Huzzah to Google for being so non-judgmental, finding all 176 matching entries, and suggesting that perhaps French Panic had not fully explored the subject.

What a wonderful time to be alive!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

saving the planet with money.

The above photo is what came tumbling out of the envelope containing my bank statement. Three ugly little pamphlets, each identical, asking me to please give the bank some money each month to help save the environment.


I could assume that some letter stuffing machine or poor outsourced child accidentally shoved in a couple extra bits of paper.

What is more likely, in my head, is that someone thought three is better than one, cause I might miss one as the envelope takes that paranoid trip through the shredder.

I think good old Toronto Dominion wanted me to part with a couple of bucks a month and all three notes assured me that my 2 dollars a month would be wisely invested in some green it up style campaign.

I’ve had some trouble accepting advice from those with much more money than I have. Last year, while dining with my ex-boss’ exceedingly wealthy parents, I was told by all present that I just had to watch ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, that Al Gore power point presentation about climate change. Both my boss and his parents were adamant that I must see it. Being polite, in public, I said I would look into it. I haven’t, and I won’t.

It isn’t because I don’t care about the environment. It is because of who told me I had to see it. I’m sure it is quite good. (It got an Oscar.... but so did Titanic, so let’s not get too excited about that.)

Way back in 1999ish, when I was taking my time finishing my undergraduate degree, I spent several months taking a class on climate change. I skimmed all three binders that represented the Kyoto Protocol at the time, along with several dozen scientific articles for and against the existence of the threat.

It was the class that was more interesting than the readings. There were only 5 of us, including the professor. We debated the value of different theories, the need for the common person to decide to simplify her/his life, the various causes and possible remedies to the looming warm up of the planet. It was the high point in my academic career as I managed to attain a perfect grade for the first and only time... ever.

During this time, the Alberta government was busy telling all of its citizens that only hippies believed in climate change.... and couldn’t we all use a warmer winter anyway?

Well, being compared to an irrational smelly hippy got me all worked up and I started protesting THE MAN. Sadly, most of the other people demonstrating did have something against showering more than once a week, and most seemed to live in their over sized sweaters for months until they smelled of goat. By protesting and doing mass bike rides every month, I had somewhat accidentally become a hippy myself, despite my love of bathing.

Turns out that the far left of the political spectrum is just as tyrannical as the far right. I don’t think I ever did right by the hippies. I enjoy a flushed toilet and occasionally eating meat and milk and cheese and I love watching tv . I was informed repeatedly that this was wrong. TV should be replaced with a puppet show about gender politics. Meat, milk, and cheese, should be exchanged for tofu, rice juice, and millet.

With my parents and more right wing friends telling me how wrong I was, I decided to just shut up. I have to acknowledge that no one likes to have their world view critiqued especially if that means changing habits.

It has been nearly ten years since I busied myself, ever hopeful that humanity would come to terms with the harsh reality that we can’t all go around driving SUVs in cities and even the very wealthy amoungst us would soon join me on the city bus.

It is painful to realize that the very people telling me to green up are the ones that laughed at me as a naive, yet earnest environmentalist. And these very people, while driving around in cars and investing in whatever will make a buck have the audacity to ask me to contribute some more money to save the planet.

The Toronto Dominion bank does not need my money to save a forest. Profits for that one bank are 4 040 800 000$ in 2007. Some small part of those profits come from my little account.

I'm going to have a bath now, and perhaps just enough gin to make my brain fuzzy.