Friday, May 2, 2008

Fergettin' thangs.

Randall had a great commentary on Friday about how forgetful he is becoming of late. All of which I blame on technology. He mentioned the passwords we use at work, which he insists get changed once a month solely to confuse and infuriate him. This is possibly true. This also confuses and infuriates me. None more so than the door code. Every morning, we are the first people into work, and we have to punch a code into the door to open it up. And this code changes, also once a month I believe. And I never remember what it is. I used to have a good system. Like, if the code was 5123492, I would think "Cecil Fielder, Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, Wayne Gretzky". And I would remember fairly well. Cecil Fielder hit 51 home runs one year for the Tigers (1990? 91?), Michael Jordan wore #23, Brett Favre wore #4, and Wayne Gretzky scored 92 goals one year for the Oilers. And that would get me through a month. A decidedly nerdy way to remember things, I realize, but it's what worked for me. However now, after dozens of code changes, I have completely lost track. I think the code now is "Carl Yazstremski, Tony Gwynn, Dale Hawerchuk", but then I used Tony Gwynn two or three codes ago also, and...I'm lost. I now learn the code two days before it gets changed.

And passwords! Everything I do is, to the best of my ability, done online to avoid mail and paper and all that stuff. But that means I have about seventy-four passwords to remember. One for every bill. One for every email system. One for all forty-six departments I must be a part of at work, and on occasion two or three passwords to get a single thing posted on, say, Breaking Rock News. This over-abundance of passwords in my life has led my brain to be so cluttered with words and letters and numbers that I barely know what they mean any more. This password requires at least four letters, one or more of which must be a capital letter, and at least three numbers also, none of which can be zero...and the whole password can not exceed eight characters...what? Now I have them all written down, which is the least secure thing ever because if my series of passwords gets stolen anyone will have the ability to not only steal my identity, but also steal the forty-four bucks I keep in my Cayman Islands bank account! (You should SEE the passwords I need to get to the Cayman Islands online.)

But my memory, for the most part, remains fine. At least in comparison to Randall. And definitely in comparison to Doc. We were golfing at the Canadian on Thursday, and I hit a shed with my ball. When I went over to play that ball from the edge of the lake, there were some guys there working on a pipe. And they yelled over "hey, I got a banana in the car for ya!" and I laughed and said hi and then hit my ball three feet in front of me, straight into the water. And as I walked up the fairway with Doc, he asked me why they said that. "Is it because you hit the ball like a gorilla? 'Cause ya kinda do hit it like a gorilla..." he was still pondering the reasons these men could possibly have had for mentioning bananas to me, while I looked at him as though he were...well...bananas. I finally told him. "See, I once peeled a banana with my ass. Actually, it was fairly recently, like two days ago. You should remember, you were there." And he smacked his forehead and said "Oh, right! ... sometimes I forget what we do." Then, about four minutes later, he missed a putt by about four feet when he was distracted by a spider that walked across his putting line. I get it - don't walk across a guy's putting line - but...

A correction and apology.

In my review of the Police show, I suggested that the hockey game was on in the CHEZ box. This was false. I was told this morning, on good authority, after making fun of some of our box-people, that our box does not have a television. So it must have been the box adjacent to ours, and I hereby apologize to the good CHEZ box-people, who were enjoying the show as they should. Sorry, box-folk, no offense was meant!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Elvis Costello! And the Police.

Every concert it happens. The massive CHEZ 106 balloon-beachballs are tossed out into the audience during the intermission between the opening act and the headliner. And every concert, they are tracked down and destroyed by overzealous security guards, worried that someone might get hit in the head, resulting in static electricity-filled hair for the rest of the show. And when that show is The Police, static electricity that causes your hair to stand on end might be just enough to prevent Sting from sleeping with you after the show. Which would be an unfortunate incident worthy of litigation, and in order to nip such lawsuits in the bud, the security forces do yeoman's work in averting that possible disaster. Kudos, Scotiabank security. You have been a terrific front line of defense against our offending balloons for many shows, and we look forward to continuing this battle at the next one.

And there were a lot of women at Scotiabank Place last night who were clearly hoping Sting might pick them out of the crowd. Sometimes, when a show is boring, people-watching for the skanked out hopefuls is far more entertaining in and of itself. Thank goodness the Police show was not boring. It was certainly predictable, but not boring. Each of the band members has their own unique identity. Stewart Copeland, behind the drums, with his big glasses and goofy expression and Michael Jackson gloves, reminds me a little of that kid in high school that wore bright red rubber boots every day of the year, whose mittens were pinned to his jacket year-round, and yet who was somehow pretty cool and well-liked despite being not exactly all there. Andy Summers on the guitar is like a burnt-out but charming, shambling, running-shoe wearing cross between Ben Stein and Eric Idle. He shambles his running shoe feet up to the front of the stage for his obligatory solo. He keeps his head down, avoiding eye contact with the audience in order to better concentrate on his intricate fingerwork, and when it is done, he acknowledges the crowd with a sudden, awkward raised fist before running-shoe shambling his way back to his regular position on the left side of the stage, continuing to concentrate hard, his South Park guitar strap the only thing colourful on his person.

And Sting. Oh, Sting. With his tight pants and combat boots. From the waist down, he looks like the only aerobics instructor in the world with a subscription to Guns & Ammo. The combat boots are so huge looking on the end of those seemingly spandex-covered legs, that it forms an image so incongruous with the rest of the band...and, in point of fact the rest of the world, that it becomes tough to separate Sting the singer from Sting the bizarrely attired prima donna. And he is a prima donna. Carefully unshaven, astutely craggy looking, and cleverly attired in what appears to be the same shirt he uses to polish his car, he is every inch the rock star. I am not sure what the ragged, full-of-holes-and-stains undershirt is supposed to convey. Perhaps it is supposed to convey "I am a bad-ass man, and I just came from doing some very manly things like changing my own oil and fighting several badgers". Or maybe it indicates "I am so good at this rock star thing, and I am so unselfconscious about my own image that I am willing to appear before you tonight in the shirt that I have slept in nine days running."

But no matter. The music, of course, is what matters, and that was exactly as one would expect. The machine-like precision of Stewart Copeland's drum kit was matched only by the machine-like precision of Andy Summers' guitar, and exceeded only by the Geochron Global Time Indicator-like precision of Sting's voice. And what a voice! Still so powerful, still so clear and perfect after all these years. Of course, he does not have quite the range he did in the heyday of the Police, and some songs (Don't Stand So Close To Me, in particulr) suffer as a result of the downward key change made to accomodate the new range of Sting. But therein lies the problem with the Police show. The only truly unexpected and interesting thing about the show were the songs whose keys had changed. Because those were the only songs they did that were not virtually identical to the albums we have all heard so many times. It was like listening to those CDs, only much louder, and with a band to watch, and among 15,000 moderately excited fans.

And boy, were those fans ever moderately excited! You could see Sting peering out into the audience, confused. Isn't this a rock show? He must be thinking. Aren't I Sting? Come on, Ottawa, sing along! But Ottawa appears not to be a sing-along town. The people who decided to forego a mortgage payment in order to be on the floor for this one were singing when he wanted them to sing. They were clapping when he wanted them to clap. They were making the noise and the uproar that I'm sure Sting has come to expect when he is on stage. But the rest of the crowd seemed vageuly disinterested, applauding politely after each number, but never losing themselves in the power of the show. But the main reason was The Police themselves. It's not a show you can completely buy into. It features machine-like precision and exact replicas of songs you may have come to love, and there is a certain power to the excellent musicianship, but it is nothing like the power of a Scotiabank show like The Who or Springsteen. It's just quite nice, thank you, and I will purchase my commemorative Police license plate cover on my way out to remind myself each day that I once saw The Police Live In Concert. By the way - a Police license plate? Wouldn't that be at least a little confusing for...the police? Anyway.

At least the crowd was enjoying themselves. The regular crowd, the ticket-buying crowd. But then there are the boxes. I was sitting directly across from the coolest box. I know it was the coolest box, because it was the one from which the CHEZ balloons emanated during the intermission. It is also, I am certain, the box in which I saw, during Walking On The Moon, the hockey game appear on the TV. Ah, box people. They are a different breed. But what could they do? It wasn't John Fogerty, after all.

Speaking of John Fogerty, he and Elvis Costello have something very much in common. They are two of the only music legends in history where their most popular songs are also their best songs. Most bands would say that certain album tracks that never became hits were their best. Most music people would argue that Exile On Main Street was the best Stones album, although it produced no monster singles. But Fogerty was a hit machine, and his concert at Scotiabank smoked through those hits and was one of the best shows we have seen there. Likewise, Elvis Costello played all his hits, and we, the audience, were much the better for it. Alison, What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding, Pump It Up, Watching the Detectives...these really are his best songs. And as a result his show was terrific. Now, I will confess to being a much bigger Costello fan than I am a Police fan, but I think many who saw both would agree. Costello was the highlight of the night, and Alison and Watching The Detectives were the highlights of his set. An energetic, terrific set which had me riveted to my seat. While the Police were very good, the highlight of their set for me was when I was reminded of Stewart Copeland calling Sting a "petulant pansy" on his blog. Ha-ha, I thought. Pansy. I love that Stewart Copeland and his blog. And the mittens pinned to his jacket.

The most irritating moment of the show for me was not when my girlfriend said "hey, there's a fight!" and I searched the floor for a couple of minutes until I realized she was talking about the hockey game on the TV in the box across the way. And it was not when I saw the security guards elbowing people out of the way in order to save them and their hair from our balloons. No, it was when, from my vantage point at the side of the stage, I could see the beefy security guard giving Elvis Costello the finger-signal countdown. Ten fingers - ten minutes. Six fingers - six minutes. Two fingers - wrap this up Costello, you're done. Sting's on the way! Come on, man. This is not some local band just thrilled to be sharing the stage with the Police, it's Elvis Costello! He's not an idiot. He knows he's the opening act. So what if he goes three extra minutes? It will just be three more minutes of awesome!

My new favourite TV show. Taking on my new most-hated TV show.

I recently reviewed Season One of A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila for Cynical Cinema. (http://blog.rogersradiointernet.com/cynicalcinema/2008/04/15/a-shot-at-love-with-tila-tequila-out-todayapocalypse-tomorrow-010/) I made the suggestion that not only the worst TV show of all time, it might also be the worst single thing in all of civilization. I further went on to suggest that this TV show might be the most obvious sign of the impending apocalypse, and that perhaps we should all begin building our bunkers right now. And now, another TV show - one that is actually good - has made the same case. Lewis Black's The Root Of All Evil is my new favourite show on television. Mostly because I really enjoy Lewis Black. He gets two comedians to debate two people who might be the Root of All Evil, and Black presides over the debate like a judge. They'll do Dick Cheney vs. Paris Hilton, or Oprah or the Catholic Church vs. facebook. It's hilarious, terribly politically incorrect, and very smart. And last night, it all came together for me when they debated who was the Root of All Evil - Kim Jong Il or Tila Tequila?

As it turns out, Tila Tequila won. It was found that she is, in fact, doing less harm to the world than is Kim Jong Il. I respectfully disagree. Hers is a TV show where she looked for love in a bisexual way with both men and women - as Lewis Black said last night, achieving the impossible, actually dumbing down MTV. And after "Season One", which I was unable to watch until the end for fear my brain would collapse and I would start speaking in internet lingo "I need to dl my lmao lol omfg, wtf?", and I would perhaps be mistaken for someone speaking crazy-guy gibberish, and be locked away somewhere. And I have golf today. But season one of A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila is no longer the worst show on TV. Now, there is a season two. I guess she did NOT find true love at the end of season one. Which amazes me. But, season two of Tila Tequila is no longer the worst show coming to TV. No, apparently - I have discovered this through several sources - there will be a spinoff dating show! A spinoff. Of this show. Starring the creepy Italian guy in the speedo from Season One.

Which means that now, you can be famous simply by being the most annoying guy on a reality show that was created to give a starring vehicle to someone who became famous by being the most annoying person on the internet. MySpace, specifically. And THAT is the root of all evil. Or, at the very least, the Apocalypse. This almost makes Tyra Banks look halfway credible.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The final nail in my suburban coffin?

I was excited by a couple of gifts my girlfriend brought me from that What A Girl Wants store in Merrickville. A Bogart photo and an Audrey Hepburn photo that we could put on our wall. So, today, we put them on our wall in the bedroom. They look great, side by side, all black-and-white and old school. Hepburn is up over her side of the bed, Bogart up over mine. And I looked, and felt a sense of pleasure with our new decor, and then it hit me - She has Audrey Hepburn over her side of the bed. I have Humphrey Bogart over mine. We have become not just a house, a home, or a suburban how-to clinic. No, now we have transformed our house, in a small way, into a Montana's, a Casey's, a Kelsey's, a Broadway! One of those restaurant-bars that have crazy crap on the walls. (They're all the same, the only real difference is the decor or perhaps the hotness of the waitresses.) Not only do we have that stuff on the walls, but we have designated the men's area and the women's area! Like that place that has Marilyn Monroe on the women's bathroom door and James Dean on the men's! THIS is where we live. So, we're going to go look for more cool stuff. I'm now on a quest for Cagney, Bacall, Brando, Mitchum and Rosalind Russell. And best of all, when I've found them all, I can start serving beer, beef dip, steaks and suicide wings in my bedroom!

55 bucks for a breakfast?

I was complaining this morning. I was reading about Richard Portelance, the Radio-Canada sales and marketing GM who claimed $7,500.00 in taxpayers money on meals in six months last year. I mean, this really didn't surprise me. When you're spending money that isn't yours, it is very easy to spend. And how many government beaurocrats do this? Way more than we know about, that's for sure. So I wasn't particularly phased. Oh, outraged and annoyed and all that. But I'm more angry that this is a fact of life than I was about this one guy. I saw that he had paid upwards of 700 bucks for one dinner. I get that. I have seen restaurants where wine goes for 500 bucks a bottle. I have never paid for dinner at these restaurants, but I have been in them. No, what astonished me was that he at one point paid 55 bucks for a breakfast! One guy - breakfast - 55 bucks! I have never been in that restaurant. Whenever I have stayed at a hotel, anywhere, there is a free breakfast. Yeah, it's a coffee and an orange juice and a stale bran muffin, but it's breakfast. And it's free.

And Doc and Woody looked at me like I was crazy! Like, of course there are 55 dollar breakfasts. At hotel restaurants, sure! They've seen that dozens of times. First of all, this makes me think that those guys make entirely too much money. And secondly, have they ever done it? Doc told me he once paid thirty bucks for a breakfast. Well, there were two of them...and it was a really fancy hotel...OK. Thirty bucks. Then he went on the internet, to show me that these breakfasts existed. And they do! I ended up coming home and doing some searching myself. Most hotel prices include breakfast. But I was able to find some hotel buffet breakfasts for up to $125.00.

And then I found this: For $26,000.00. One night. Royal Penthouse Suite Hotel President Wilson, Geneva. This amount of money buys you a night in a four-bedroom penthouse suite bristling with surveillance cameras, bulletproof windows, armoured doors and bedside panic buttons – as well as a butler and views across Lake Geneva to Mont Blanc. It’s also littered with period pieces, including a 1930s billiard table and a Steinway grand piano. And - here is the important part - it does NOT include breakfast. Whew! Come to think of it, Richard Portelance was living frugally! Thank God we have public servants like that man!

Tyra Banks is the most dangerous woman on television!

I saw a snippet of the Tyra Banks show as I walked past the television today. She had a bunch of girls on the panel...is it a "panel" when you're doing nothing of journalistic note or redeeming social value? I wonder. Anyway, there were a bunch of girls who had just experienced their first week working at the Bunny Ranch, the legal brothel out in...Vegas? Whatever. I didn't pay close attention. So these young, attractive women who have decided to become hookers are talking about how great it is. One has her wide-eyed, sad-looking, submissive boyfriend with her. Another has her creepy father with her. And they filmed their first sex-for money transactions (well, their first in the Bunny Ranch, anyway). And although Tyra Banks wants to be righteously indignant, she also doesn't want to make her guests angry, so she asks no tough questions, and lets them go ahead and glamorize the life of a prostitute. And then asks the boyfriends the tough questions. Like, why would you stay with a girl who is a hooker? And that sort of hard-hitting journalistic thing.

And these girls say things like "he knows I love him, and only him, because he's the only one I don't charge for sex". Whee! Now THAT's true love. Nothing against prostitutes, male or female. Hey - ply whatever trade makes you happy. But if your most intimate relationship is based on a mutual agreement not to pay for sex - with each other - you might have problems. And then I realized - THIS is the most interesting, "hard-hitting" Tyra episode I have ever seen as I walked by the TV! THIS! Which is kind of like saying the episode with the black KKK member and the girl sleeping with her own grandmother was the most culturally significant episode of Jerry Springer of all time. In short, it is saying nothing. This show is a total sinkhole, and watching it will ruin young minds faster than pinball and syphilis combined.

The main problem with the Tyra Banks show is that it is presented as an actual talk show. Like, a show where issues are discussed, and the truth will be sought after...Tyra seems to think she is the host of 60 Minutes - for functionally idiotic hot women. It's a constant stream of things that dumb people can latch onto as some kind of social commentary, or some kind of important investigation - Tyra dresses up as a fat chick, and she is...treated differently! This REALLY opens her eyes! It is SO much easier to be hot. And they say they want to do this episode because it calls attention to the fact that fat people are people too, and that ugly people are just as pretty inside as other people...so don't mock them...blah blah blah. But really, what it tells people watching (young girls especially) - God! The LAST thing in the world you want to be is fat! Look what happened to Tyra! And she's already pretty! But the point it misses is this - as a "test subject" for a moronic excercise such as this, Tyra Banks is not a good control group.

People already know who Tyra Banks is. So when she is regular (young and thin and hot), people are not necessarily responding to her as a hot chick, they are responding to her as a famous hot chick. Big difference. An attractive guy may get treated better than, say, me - at a fancy restaurant or a La Senza store or something. But that guy gets treated nowhere near as well as Brad Pitt when he walks in there. Right? So now it's fat, ugly, covered-in-makeup nobody vs. celebritry-hot-chick Tyra Banks. It isn't necessarily that people are treating you worse when you're fat, it's that they're treating you way too nicely when you're normal! (I must say, however, that if I worked in retail and had to deal with Tyra Banks, I would give her the worst service ever, on general principle.) So she does this show where she shows (or pretends to show) that it's OK to be overweight in this crazy world. Then, the next episode, she walks around in a bikini to prove to the world that the pictures of her in the tabloids where it looks like she got fat are NOT TRUE! You see, y'all? I got a bangin' body still y'all!

But this is not where Tyra Banks is most dangerous. When she celebrates Black History Month by honouring a black person who has done a tremendous amount for the black community, and that person turns out to be Tyra Banks, that is still not where she is most dangerous. It isn't even in that dreadful movie Coyote Ugly, which tells young girls that being hot isn't everything in this world, as long as you're a bitch. And hot. No, it's on America's Next Top Model, where she does the most damage. Now, I understand, to some degree, my girlfriend and her friends getting together to watch this show. They are, legitimately, haridressers, and they do, legitimately, look at the hairstyles. But this is merely the raison d'etre of their Wednesday - Wendnesday? I think Wednesday night get-togethers, and soon they get sucked in to the show itself. And they start to care which model said what to whom and who is going home this week. I have watched this show once with them, and I was shushed - shushed! while Tyra Banks went through contestant after contestant. "Congratulations Felicity, you're still in the running for the prize of becoming America's Next Top Model." "Congratulations Trudy, you're still in the running for the prize of becoming America's Next Top Model." "Congratulations Vanilla, you're still in the running"...same phrase. Same exact words. Same delivery. Thirteen girls. That's HALF THE SHOW!

I suppose in a way I deserved to be shushed. After all, I was adding nothing constructive to the program or the conversation, and all I was doing was loudly cursing cancer on Tyra Banks, or hoping aloud that she be accidentally wounded or injured. Or decapitated. Whatever. But no longer will I be doing this. I am now afraid. From a Seattle newspaper: "A woman who suffered life-threatening stab wounds to her chest and neck Wednesday allegedly was attacked by another woman who had been upset that she was too loud while watching 'America's Next Top Model.'" Yes, this show is now stab-worthy. Actually, this is the original reason I started writing this post. Doc mentioned this in the morning and suggested that I would likely blog about it today, hating Tyra Banks as I do. And I didn't want to let him down, so I started out intending to do that, but I got carried away. No time now. I don't want this post to go on and on and on and on or anything.

What A Girl Wants is apparently...also what I want.

My girlfriend called me yesterday, on her way home from Merrickville. She and a friend had just gone shopping there at a store called What A Girl Wants, and she told me she was bringing me back some gifts I would really enjoy. And I laughed...and laughed. I may even have made a derogatory remark or two about her taste. However, she was right! She came home with two pictures for our room, stuff I look for all the time - one of Audrey Hepburn and one of Humphrey Bogart. Then she brought them home, and her other friend said "who are they?" Anyway, I am fairly ecstatic to have these pictures, but what kind of name for a store is that? Here is a store I would never actually go into, assuming that the products they sell would consist of bath beads and scented candles and Hugh Grant movie memorabilia. And yet apparently they have all of the coolest stuff - for guys - that no guy would ever discover. Time, perhaps, for a name change?