Thursday, August 16, 2007

Grrrrr.

I want to get rid of all my anger before I leave the relative comfort of my vacation and return to the relative peace of work. I hate people who say "over-exaggerate". I HATE it. My girlfriend calls me her "other behalf". This drives me nuts, but over-exaggerate makes me murderous. So too do signs that say "here we grow again" at construction sites. It isn't cute or clever. And thirdly, like that snot-nosed pseudo philosopher who took my order at the beer store a few days ago, I really hate people who quote famous people in their regular speech, and then attribute the quote. Like "all the world's a stage...Shakespeare said that". First of all, Shakespeare NEVER said that. He wrote that. Actors said it. And secondly, you are assuming I don't recognize something THAT familiar? Even if I didn't recognize it, I wouldn't give a rat's ass that you were talking Shakespeare at me. I am not impressed. Even worse - people who get the quotes wrong. One guy said to me once "gather your rosebuds while it's May". I punched him.

OK, I think it's time to go back to work. I am 99 percent purged.

Movie reviews and the people they irk.

While I was in at the station tonight, I felt I should get some other work done. I have been reviewing many movies while on vacation, and I thought I should get them recorded and ready to go. Our producer, Andrew, is a terrific producer, but he hates seeing me arrive. That is because he hates cynical cinema. Or, more accurately, he hates recording it for me. And THAT is because whenever I come to record movie reviews, I waste several hours of his "valuable" time. The two hours it takes me to record thirty reviews at a time prevent him from doing his "more important work", like that promotional commercial about Neil Peart being in a band called Hush, and then joining Rush, and then bringing his giant loud power trio of garbage to Ottawa. Andrew doesn't write these things, he doesn't use his own voice on them, but he puts them together.

So again today, I showed up with a fistful of movie reviews, starting with The Man Who Knew Too Much and Triumph of the Will, through recent releases such as Disturbia and Zodiac, through movies still in theatres like Bourne Ultimatum and The Simpsons Movie. This may explain to those who have mocked me why certain movie reviews seem rather untimely. Why, they ask, and rightly so, did you review Children of Men just this week, when it came outt months ago? Didn't you grab it the day it was released? They say. Well, I did. I go to the video store every Tuesday to grab the new releases right away. But I don't record the reviews for another week or two, and then they are in some kind of jumble that I can't put in order myself, and one might not hear my review of a certain movie for maybe six weeks after that.

This is how you can determine the importance the bosses at the station put on various movies. The more familiar they think the movie is, the sooner they will run the review. The lateness of something like, say Children of Men, is indicative of the fact that the higher-ups at CHEZ had never heard of the film. Here is my wager based on my most recent series of reviews, those from today. I will guess - and I would put money on this were I a betting man - that the first few movies whose reviews are heard are going to be Die Hard 4, The Simpsons, Zodiac and Norbit. I might even guess we will hear all about Norbit as early as Monday. Toward the end of the reviews - say six weeks from now, we will hear about the good stuff - Triumph of the Will may never get played at all, but Exterminating Angels and 13 Tzameti will be appearing six weeks from now. Just a guess. Stay tuned!

Working on my vacation...some more...

I really AM more bitter when I'm off. I better get back to work soon so I can forget the rest of the world for a time. One of the most obnoxious things about not being at work is that there is a far greater chance of me being stuck in rush hour traffic. I normally go in to work at a time where there are a total of seven cars on the whole queensway. I then come home just AFTER 9:00, when traffic has thinned out. Today, I drove in to the station at 4:00. You see, I was called back there. Because being "off" really means, apparently, being "on call", like I'm just working from home instead of the office.

There is a golf tournament tomorrow. In Perth. I had made arrangements to grab a ride with Jason out to the Links O'Tay, and then a ride back. My car is not in excellent working condition at the moment, and I am trying to drive it as little as possible. But there are two other CHEZ-sponsored events taking place tomorrow - a live commercial at some store (I don't know where. I'm on vacation. In fact, I would have been actually doing this live commercial, for money, had I not agreed to do this golf tournament for our promo guys, for free). Also, we have some kind of fundraising event that involves the Ottawa police somehow. So, if you're doing the math, that makes a total of three events. And apparently we have but two promo employees. Bob, who is the promo director, and may or may not attend any actual promo events, and Jason, who was scheduled to appear with me at the Hassler Memorial Golf Tournament tomorrow. I am assuming we have no interns available, and as such Bob must be forced to attend one of these events himself, leaving Jason no option but to cancel on me.

Which is fine, except the only reason I was going tomorrow was because of Jason. And the promo department. Now I don't know what I'm doing, why I'm there, or what is going on at all. I normally rely on Jason to fill me in on the details in the car during the trip. Now all I have is directions and a time. There was a time when we had four CHEZ cars. This was great, because it meant that whenever I did an event for our promo department, I could take a car with our logo, so it would be clear than CHEZ was on-site, and also because I didn't have to take my own about-to-collapse car, or spend my own gas money. Now we have two.

I have asked many times why this is, but I have yet to understand the answer. It is always some rigamarole about head office policy from Toronto, and we can only get the cars from certain dealers, and we have to pay more than a certain amount and can only get less than a certain number of kilometres on our lease, and god knows what else. It is the same runaround I get from our sales department when I ask how come I work for Rogers but I can't get a Rogers cell phone to perform stunts. Or why I can't get free rentals from Rogers Video for my movie reviews, which would save me 30 bucks a week. No one seems to know the reasons for sure. But, these aren't my departments, so what am I going to do?

So there I am, fighting rush hour traffic, so that I can make it into the station in time to grab a speaker and some hats and some shirts, throw them in my trunk, and get ready for tomorrow. Apparently we are providing music during the sign-up for this golf tournament. I shouldn't complain, this really IS my job. Well, wrong emphasis. This is MY job. I would like to see our promo department phone Doc at home and ask him to come in and pick up equipment at the station to take to the event they asked him to host. (I can tell you this - they would never ask him to do this. HE has clout.) So I'm prepared. I can do the tournament, I can provide the music, I can show up alone, but I wish I knew what I was to do once I got there.

If any of the organizers of the Hassler Memorial tournament are reading this - I will have to leave fairly early tomorrow, because I have my own car. Unlike the station for which Iwork, I own but one car. And my girlfriend must get her kids to various places tomorrow night. So I will be unable to stay for the dinner, which hopefully is not the reason I was invited to participate. See you tomorrow! (I promise to be less bitter on the golf course. After all, I'm on vacation.)

I am not used to morning TV.

I never watch morning TV. I get home after work, my girlfriend takes the car, and she is gone. I put on old silent movies, or black-and-whites, or movies with subtitles, stuff she would never watch if she were home. However, she is on vacation right now also. So this morning, I have been subjected to the worst that television has to offer. Regis was doing something with some woman. I guess that annoying Kelly Ripa girl is also on vacation. Then some other couple was doing a very Regis-esque show. Then Maury Povich was doing pregnancy tests and saving out-of-control teens. Then Tyra Banks was interviewing Brooke Hogan and fighting back against tabloids who allege she has become fat! Lies! She is not fat! This could be a whole one-hour show, since the most interesting person to appear on the Tyra Banks show could not be anyone who wasn't Tyra Banks! (Perhaps Brooke Hogan is the only guest she's have who's LESS interesting than the host herself.)

What have I done to deserve this? Right now, Jen is complaining that I'm hammering away at the computer keyboard and not sitting down with her, watching Maury Povich. Why would I do this? Why would I watch something that makes me physically angry and nauseous, when I can happily blog away without any concern at all for these out-of-control fifteen year olds who {gasp} drink alcohol and {gasp} smoke marijuana and {gasp} engage in sexual relations with their boyfriends. The only thing that makes them different from every other fifteen year old delinquent I have ever met is that they swear at the audience. You don't know me! No, but I know thousands of others like you...and I don't care. I don't WANT to watch the guy from boot camp yell in your face. I want to type in my blog.

I have been trying for three days, since I got home from the library, to watch Intolerance. (I understand the reluctance - it IS three hours long, and it IS black and white, and it IS silent.) But she's so gung-ho about cleaning, that I could conceivably watch the movie while she continues packing boxes and getting ready to get out. However, this will not take place. If SHE is packing, then I must also be packing. Otherwise, I am lazy and I don't care about the important things around this house. If she is not packing, it is because I haven't gone to get boxes. If I get to watch TV or movies, then it is because she wants to watch TV or movies. But she is more interested in continuing to clean our already clean house. Which means I am cleaning the already-clean bathrooms as well.

The one thing that really irks me is when she points out similarities between OUR relationship and those she hears about on TV. Dennis Leary is with Regis, talking about how he and his wife are brutally honest with each other when it comes to clothes. You know - do you like this outfit...and he says "I don't care. At all." Or, he will put on a shirt she hates, and she will make him go change right away. Apparently, that's just like us! OK. That's true, this IS just like us. But why do I care? How does it affect me that Dennis Leary and his unseen wife have a similar dynamic to ours? I am trying very hard NOT to watch the show, so calling my attention to it will just bother me more...I don't know.

I gotta go. There is a re-run of the View, and I love the Rosie O'Donnell years. Or at least, I'm told that I do.

Boxes.

My girlfriend is on vacation also. Which means that even when I have the time to do what I want to do with MY vacation, I have to deal with her vacation and her whims as well. The last few days, that has manifested itself in her desire to fill our house with empty boxes, coupled with her belief that the job of going out to get those empty boxes could only be accomplished by me, since it is as much a man's job as barbecueing. We are moving in a month and a half, you see, and if we don't get everything in our house into boxes right now, we might have to do it later, and this would throw off the whole moving process. So I go to Sobey's, the Independant Grocers, Zellers, Mac's Milk, anywhere I can think that might have boxes. I managed to get a total of four boxes from two liquor stores. Nowhere else keeps them.

I was in trouble, because we obviously need more than four boxes. It is mostly my fault, because it is mostly my stuff. Between my CDs, DVDs, LPs, VHS and books, we likely need one hundred boxes. So yesterday, while I was at a golf tournament, she went out to get the boxes herself. Same liquor store I went to, same time of the day, I got three boxes, she got forty. She seems to think that getting boxes is my job, and if I don't come home with a car full I'm just being lazy, but she is obviously better at it than I am. The thing is, she is hot. I am fat and ugly. So the men at the liquor store are far more likely to help her out and take her in the back room and load her up with boxes than they are with me. When I asked, the guy didn't even say a word. He just pointed to a pile of three in the corner by the cash.

So now I have no albums to listen to, no CDs, no movies to watch, and no books to read. I managed to keep out a few select movies and books, but I will now wait for a month and a half before I have my selection back. In the meantime, I will have six weeks where I am dodging boxes throughout the house and sitting uncomfortably around boxes on the couch and peering around boxes at the TV while watching one of the four movies I still have, or reading one of the two books that are still around. Six weeks. Thank God we got this done now. It took two whole days, and can you imagine spending two whole days packing when your move is just four days away? That'd be chaos! Ridiculous! Sensible!

Working on vacation.

Not that I'm actually doing work. I'm golfing. But it was a CHEZ event. I attended a golf tournament at the Links O'Tay in Perth yesterday to raise money for the Perth Chamber of Commerce. The Perth Chamber of Commerce has something like 220 members, which as I understand it, is about 20 percent of the population of Perth. That is a pretty high level of community involvement. That's kind of like Ottawa having a chamber of commerce comprising 5,000 members. Which we don't. Jason and I were the CHEZ representatives, and it seemed like a lot of good money was being raised, although I don't have a total yet.

The standard golf tournament games were taking place. All with unconsciously suggestive names. "Get inside the pro" (which was NOT a hole with a hooker), the "balls in the hole" game...we failed miserably. I was golfing with Jason, Blair Campbell of the Perth Chamber of Commerce, and Blair's father-in-law Mike Lee. I take personal responsibility for the loss of the very first contest, the "don't lose the fancy balls" game. This is one of those golf tournament staples where the team gets one ball that you are supposed to keep until the tournament is over. Each player gets it for one hole, then another and another and so forth. I lost it on the very first shot, which is the best way to play that game. That way no one is worried about that ball for the rest of the round, and you can just concentrate on the game itself. Not that that mattered to our team anyway.

The Links O'Tay is the oldest golf course in Canada. And they celebrate this by doing things in a very old style. This is the only golf tournament I have ever attended that is kicked off by a town crier. A charming man in a three-cornered hat with a giant bell and a very loud voice. He was yelling various golf jokes, the kind you read on bar napkins at golf courses. "Any vows made on the golf course are nul and void at sundown" and that sort of thing. Then the real kickoff comes when a local police officer scares the crap out of everyone by firing off a shotgun. This is also the only tournament I attend with a real, actual, shotgun start.

Many people approached me about last years' tournament, one where I apparently made fun of some guy who was attempting to heckle me while I was auctioning off a few items. It turns out this was a memorable occurrence for many of the people attending this tournament, but I could barely remember at all. The heckler himself did remember, however, and I certainly recognized him when I saw him. I guess he decided he remembered all too well, and he declined to stay for the auction this time around. I auctioned off some Senators tickets, a 67s package, and a couple of other things.

I have done several events with professional "auctioneers" (this was not one of them). You know, the ones who talk really fast and say things like gimmeastwelvefortyonedoiheraratwelvefortytwo... I could never do this. But I am reasonably certain that I have hit on a slightly better way to auction things off. Here it is - if you ever have to be an auctioneer at a work function of some kind, the best way to raise a lot of money is twofold. Hit on the women, make fun of the men. That's it. This gets the whole crowd interested, and whether they want to bid or not, they are at least paying attention. And women love being hit on by a guy with a microphone. (For the most part - be careful.) Especially when they've been drinking. And men love being made fun of when they've been drinking. It's terrific.

And we HAD been drinking. Our night was cut short by a family emergency, but I thought to myself, I really should work my vacations around these golf tournaments. Normally, I take off right away after work, bust my ass to get out to the tournament, and by the time 7:00 rolls around and the dinner is half over, I am absolutely exhausted and I just want to get out of there and go home. On vacation, I can just get up at 8, head out to the course for ten, and I can actually drink lots of beer should I decide to do so. There is no curfew or cut-off point, and I'm good to go.

In that spirit, I didn't want to tell Blair and Mike this, but really Jason and I weren't trying very hard this time - we were actually scoping out the course for Friday's tournament, which we plan to win. Friday we are both back at the Link O'Tay, for the Hassler Memorial Tournament. Vacation is glorious!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ah, the library.

I haven't been to a library in years. For the last six years or so, I have purchased books rather than borrowing, simply because I have been too lazy to return them on time, and it's easier when you can get the best books in the world for 99 cents each at used book stores. Well, easier than paying four bucks apiece when I finally do decide to return them. But the house I just bought is less than a block from the Kanata library, so I figured it was about time to get a new card. Lord knows where my old one is. I had to present them with a picture ID (my drivers' license, althoughit has my picture, still has my address four houses ago. I better get this fixed). So I had to produce something with my current address, and I finally found in my wallet one of those green cards they give you when you check into the hospital. Who knew kidney stones would ever come in handy?

So, after a fairly long interview process, the librarian found me in the system, from the days when I lived at my mom's place. I am still a "juvenile" in their system. That did not save me from my fines, however. Apparently, I took out several books about the CFL when I was a youth, and never went back to the library again. I no longer have these books, but I still have the bill. Seventy bucks it cost me to get a library card. These books better be worth it.

The Kanata brach of the Ottawa Public Library is much smaller than I remember the Rosemount branch being, but then I last visited that place when I was eleven. I was much smaller then. I took out Bill Wyman's giant book on the blues, and a biography of Peter Lorre, and The Fountainhead. Then I found the movie section. THIS was worth 70 bucks. Screw the video store, I may never go back. Intolerance, Divorce Italian Style, The Tin Drum, The Front Page, I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang - hundreds of titles the video store would never stock - and it's FREE! You are borrowing, not renting. Free! And the selection is far better than the "classics" section of the video store. I will be back once a week, books or no books. Kanata Public Library, God bless you and your antique sensibilities!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another night of Hell's Kitchen. Or at least, another night of Hell.

As I sat in my chair tonight, trying valiantly to finish Yao Ming's autobiography, I was being constantly assaulted. Some show called Wife Swap was on, and the babble from the girls next to me was invading my book-reading mind to a considerable degree. Fortunately for me, the three of them decided to check out some pictures on-line of some kind of bachelorette party instead, and I surrupticiously switched the TV to the baseball game. I all of a sudden heard, in the middle of the Jays game, that Tim Wakefield was pitching a no-hitter for the Red Sox and it was in the sixth inning. Frantically, I attempted to find the channel with the Red Sox game, but it appears as though I have not subscribed to that channel. Yet another reason to go with that super-duper Rogers giant fabulous Sports Package or whatever it's called. You will not miss a no-hitter, or Barry Bonds' 500th home run. That sports package is available through Rogers, at a video store, near you. Go Rogers, are they ever a terrific company and I love them so.

My frantic attempt to find this new channel was perhaps a little loud. I managed to divert the attention of the girls for the instant away from the computer, where they were huddled, back to the TV, whereupon they noticed that it was no longer showing Hot Wife vs. Fat Wife. They had not noticed for about twenty minutes that I was enjoying some baseball, but now I was assaulted with all kinds of foul language and a frocible removal of the remote control from my hand and a forcible returning of the TV to Channel I Hate Your Kids More Than You Hate Mine. Or whatever that show's called.

Then it was back to the bachelorette party pictures. While holding the remote. So that when they finally turned back to the TV, and returned their attention to the world of the tube, they would not be assaulted with the four seconds of baseball they would have to endure before changing the channel to whatever it was they were into at that moment. I attempted to return to my book. At 9:00, as though there was a timer embedded in Ashley's head that alerted her as to the exact start time of everything that captured her fancy, she rushed back to the couch, eight seconds before the start of Hell's Kitchen, final episode. I tend to get to the shows I like twelve minutes in. Even the Sunday afternoon Packers-Bears football game, I might begin watching at 1:14 or 1:20, because I just don't have this kind of internal clock. Maybe that's why I'm always late for work whenever my alarm clock fails.

So I continued to read about Yao's difficult transition to the American lifestyle and the bizarre business practices of the Chinese Basketball Association as I was interrupted on all sides by giggling, analysis, and the TV show itself. I attempted to understand the reasoning behind that analysis. When my buddies and I say "holy cow, that was a hard hit", we are talking about what we have witnessed. We also never say "holy cow". But who knows? Kids might read this blog. We have seen that hard hit on television, we have heard it through the speakers, and we are aware of how it must have felt, having played football ourselves.

But a comment like "that looks delicious" is strange to me. So, I figure, does the Quarter Pounder in McDonalds commercials, (which actually IS delicious) but also the Eat More bar, Thrills gum, and pizza flavoured chips. Why would I watch something, thinking about how tasty it might be, when I have no ability to actually taste that product, or even smell it for a hint of the taste that might await my eager tastebuds. Unless I was getting a recipe, so I could find out for myself...but no. In the end, I get to watch, half-assed, out of the corner of my eye, while I read my book, a program where every major decision comes with eleven jump cuts and a Classical March Trumpet soundtrack. Then, as the countdown is on to pick a winner, after the show has done everything in it's ability to create the impression that both contestants are in a dead heat, neck-and-neck, at a standstill...three-two-one...commercial. Thank God I never cared about the outcome anyway.

I swear, if kids weren't in the house, I'd be bombed right now. (For the kids who read this blog, if they exist, "bombed" means fast asleep.) I gotta pee.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yet another thing that antagonizes me.

I was driving home the other night from the drive-in at Port Elmsley (by the way, Simpsons movie - see it. Live Free or Die Hard - wait for the DVD). My car has unusually bright headlights. It's pitch black, and I use the high beams as much as I can. But of course, when other cars approach, I turn them off, since I don't want to be rude. However, many of those cares don't believe I HAVE turned off my high beams, because they are still unusally bright. It has been suggested to me that I simply have them calibrated wrong, or something like that. But I have had them checked, and they are not. They are simply bright.

And it never fails. Every single time I drive home in the dark, there is one oncoming jackass on the road who does not believe I have switched off my high beams, and attempts to kill me. He (or she, I suppose) will wait until I am just a few yards away, and then slam on his (or her, I suppose) high beams directly into my eyes and car. Blinded, and completely incapable of finding the road for a few seconds, I have luckily managed to survive so far. But I have kids in the car. What could the motivation be to do this to someone? What justification could a person feel for such a ridiculous act? It's not a friendly warning, like a quick flash of the high beams to let me know mine are still on, it's an aggressive act of road rage that could cause a serious accident.

Let's suppose, just for a moment, that I DID have my high beams on, and I WAS forgetting to turn them off for the oncoming traffic. What suggests to this other car that two wrongs make a right? That guy forgot his high beams. I hope he dies, and I would like to help. Does attempting to run me off the road teach me a lesson? Or is it just an incredibly stupid and dangerous response to a perceived slight? When I'm walking through a bar, and I accidentally spill someone's drink, I offer to purchase a new one. This has happened about thirty times in my life. Most people are OK with this. Others see it as only half the payment. Not only am I out half a beer, but my clothes are damp as well. The only thing to do in retaliation is to start a fistfight. This has happened only twice in my life. Both times, I am certain I was getting into an altercation with the same people who now try to run me off the road.

More obnoxiousness...

Yesterday I tried a brand new pizza place. I normally order from Gabriels, because I love my cheese. There's a Lorenzo's twenty yards from my house, and that's where I get my slices. But I thought I would go with Willy's, since there was a flyer on my fridge and I had yet to give it a go. There was a special - two medium three-topping pizzas for 21.95. The family decided they wanted one hawaiian, one chicken-bacon-green olive. So I called and ordered. This is my unofficial transcription of the call.

Receptionist: Hello, Willy's.
Me: Hi, I'd like to order two pizzas.
Receptionist: For pickup or delivery?
Me: Delivery.
Receptionist: What do you want?
Me: Two medium pizzas, one hawaiian, one chicken bacon and green olive.
Receptionist: That'll be $35.97, will you be paying cash?
Me: I WILL be paying cash, but why am I paying so much cash?
Receptionist: I don't understand.
Me: Well, I'm reading your flyer, and it says 21.95 for two medium pizzas.
Receptionist: I'm afraid you have to mention that when you phone.
Me: I did phone. And I'm certainly mentioning it.
Receptionist: I realize that sir, but you have to mention it as soon as you phone.
Me: So because I waited to mention it, I owe fourteen more dollars?
Receptionist [sighing, doing me a HUGE favour]: I'll make an exception this time, sir. But just so you know for the next time, you have to mention the deal right away.
Me: Why do I need to mention the deal, when that's the special you have?
Receptionist: Well, some people like to have the deal, some don't.
Me: Who are the people who order two medium pizzas, but don't want the deal?
Receptionist: Some people like to pay a different amount.
Me: Buh. [stunned silence]
Receptionist: So your new total is 27.75. It'll be there in forty minutes or so.
Me: Sorry, before I go, I just - ah, forget it. I'll have my cash waiting.

Now, I'm fairly good at math. I am fairly certain that tax on 21.95 does not add up to 27.75. But I no longer want to quibble. I no longer want to engage in this battle of wits. If you have a special on two pizzas, why not make that the price for two pizzas, rather than the price for those who know the secret handshake? What's the idea, long-term customers are penalized because they dial the number without prior knowledge of the deal, but first-timers like me are rewarded for finding a flyer? And the reasoning is that some people just plain like paying more. I feel my pizza is more delicious, proportionally to the amount of money I spend on it. But rather than tipping my 14 bucks, I will instead request that it be added to the price of my pizza. Next time, I will not order "two mediums", or "three toppings", I will order "seventy-four dollars worth of pizza".