Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Moving On...down

I'm moving again. I haven't been evicted or thrown off a couch this time, but I'm moving because of money. I don't know when the last decision I based primarily on money was--or if I've ever made one before in my life-- but this one is it. I just ate a steak downtown and that decision was based solely on hunger and how much I wanted steak, not on the fact that steak is one of the most expensive things on a menu. But I ate the steak and am still hungry so what. I want to move now strictly because of the amount of money I will save by going where I'm going (which still involves rent).

If there is one lesson I've learned in life (along with never checking your bank account balance before bedtime) it is that your entire life you will have to deal with the fact that you take up space and that it must be paid for. In your mother's womb you gradually grew to take up more and more space while she paid for it but as soon as you were born, she immediately needed another place to put you and a new space for you to occupy. You didn't pay for this space for the first eighteen (roughly) years of your life and then all of the sudden: rent. You may have then paid an (increasingly) exorbitant amount to rent space in the classes you attended in university and you had to rent a place to lay your head while you did so (if you didn't live at home). Then at some point following school (decades later to never for some while mere months for others) you have enough to start your own home and now you pay mortgage rent. Then when you reach an age where you can't be trusted to manage the day to day operations of this home, your children or immediate family move you to a nursing home, where you will pay the rent there with the money you made selling off your independence until you're required to pay a fee for the plot you're buried in when you're dead. RENT. RENT. RENT. Oh the things you could buy if the largest chunk of your living didn't have to go to paying for space. But your own (or rented) space is fun! And yes, sure it is, that is until it's not. Until you start meticulously analyzing all the things you are paying for in a rental agreement aside from a place to store your belongings. I.E. the sights, sounds and smells of your rental situation. The toilet ring stains that will never come off no matter how hard you scrub; the rusty shower curtain rod; the Berber carpet that had been trounced down to the floor that you'll no longer walk upon without shoes; the stove that hasn't been cleaned in god knows how many tenants that I just had to clean whilst completely naked there were so many hazardous waste materials at play.

My mother comes over in a hazmat suit. She thinks my living situation is vile and visits her doctor for a delousing serum and scabies cream after she stays over. She has rented maybe four properties in her whole life compared to my...one, two, three (in one year)...and, well you get the picture. She was then off to the land of purchasing space where she is now celebrating the later part of her life mortgage free. What a concept. I think it's time I break out the party hats for her this time. Congratulations, you no longer owe ANYONE for your space. Enjoy it in all of its PAID FOR glory.

I can handle the noises of shared living--meaning the shuffling /stomping of feet at an appropriate decibel (zero), the playing of music (never between the hours of 9pm-9 am) the arrival and departure of guests (if it's never conducted in the hallways we have to share) and the general upkeep and maintenance of the common areas (I actually despise the way they clean the hallways every Sunday and the vacuum comes out because the sounds of vacuuming on a Sunday remind me of being hungover at home and mom firing up the blasted thing at 9am, drilling into my worsening headache and why does vacuuming always have to happen on Sundays anyways).

I will not miss the never ending sounds of construction/renovation at my apartment; or the Africans holding a wedding reception in the back parking lot while I try to park my car; or the non-stop heavy -duty traffic, signs of more construction; or the smell of weed filtering into my window actually waking me up from slumber it's so potent; or the street people rattling my balcony while I'm inside at my computer, masturbating to pornography in my housecoat while they pitch a story of how they need money because their friend broke their leg or how they need let into the building because they're with the census board and are just trying to do their job of marking down who all lives in this matchbox of apartment hell.

My suite is fine. But I'm sick of looking at it because it means more than itself; the whole of the suite is not worth the sum of its parts. So goodbye for now, apartment dwelling! I'm going to someplace worth its rent; it's a shantytown--don't bother sending my things because I won't bloody well need them.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A Prime Minister and His Nation Bid Farewell to the Tragically Hip

Prince Justin decided to wear a shirt to the Tragically Hip concert in Kingston, Ontario last night. It was a Hip-issued t-shirt worn at the final show of their fifteen-stop Man Machine Poem Tour in the group's hometown after singer Gord Downie announced his diagnosis with terminal brain cancer back in May. The photo-op of the PM preceding the show was one of him without shirt on a beach in Tofino, donning a wetsuit folded over at the waist and leaning against his surfboard like Keanu Reeves in Point Break. Apparently he was there only to photo-bomb a couple's wedding procession but made it look like he was 'hanging ten' all day before it, although his hair was dry and there were no photos or videos of him in the water actually catching a wave. But it was a good thing he was wearing The Hip shirt when the cameras panned up and into the box seats where Trudeau was as Gord then addressed him personally. Like the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, Gord spoke up to the Prime Minister as he stood in his box seat, praising him for this work with the First Nations while Justin mouthed an awkward 'thank you' with a forced look of melancholy in his eyes. The show thankfully carried out and I could get back to the feeling of it being a very Canadian broadcast indeed, and not just because the CBC was at the helm either. But it was a good thing they were, though, because it's the only channel I get with my digital rabbit ears.

The cameras frequently panned out to the crowd of 6,000 where couples were making out in hockey jerseys with "The Hip" stitched on the back and people were wearing Canadian flag glasses and other strange patriotic bits of paraphernalia. I realized then that this was the only other time besides Hockey Night in Canada where I saw Canadians come together as a homogenous whole to represent what this country truly enjoys: white ice and white rock n' roll. And poignantly enough, that was what CBC chose to name the broadcast "Hip Night in Canada", complete with the new take on the same logo because why commemorate a dinstinctly Canadian moment of any kind, however removed from our nation's sport, without reference to it. But still--and like hockey--it brought the country together in bars and homes across the nation. I could probably get the same patriotic surge if Bachman-Turner Overdrive took the stage--although they would be featured at your local casino venue now and not selling out a major stadium--or if Rush or Nickelback was there instead. But unlike Nickelback,The Hip hasn't divided the country like the Berlin Wall between those who love the Nickelbackers and those who loathe them. I am a stereotype on the Canadian fence in that I don't pick a side in that debate because I'm simply proud when one of our own goes international; however, and like the PM lamented in a radio broadcast with Ron MacLean before the show--although I'm not sure why--the Hip, after their thirty-two-year career, did not.

The Hip began their musical crusade in 1984 and the band of today soon formed: lead singer and lyricist Gord Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay. Their discography includes fourteen studio albums--nine of which reached no.1 in Canada--two live albums, an EP and fifty-four singles (says Wikepedia). They're decorated with fourteen Junos and numerous accolades including a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002; inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005; presented with an honorary fellowship at the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2006 and were awarded the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2008. They performed once on Saturday Night Live in 1995.

Their sound has been described as "enigmatic" and "dark" but last night it was neither. It was the sound of a group of people who have known each other for a long time taking to the stage to deliver songs they have known as intimate friends for the last time. All listened--including the rest of the band-- as their master writer and performer reverberated each end note of almost every line of song including my favourite "Bobcaygeon"from their 6th album Phantom Power until you thought he might not want to carry on to the next verse at all and would rather vibrate the rest of it. But we got the point, nonetheless, that this was a man who was going to do things Frank Sinatra's "My Way" on his way out and we were just along for the final ride. He was frequently caught adjusting his wardrobe whether it was his metallic pants falling down or the Vick's Vapour Rub sock he was talking about his friend having made him. He chose to wear it around his neck and this may have been a comfort thing which at first made me wonder, but then as it began to take the form of a rocker sock signature accessory like Aerosmith's Steven Tyler wrapping scarves around the microphone stand, it started to grow on me.

The band is not only iconic, but could be a dubbed meteorologically clairvoyant with their signature song "New Orleans is Sinking" from their second studio album Up Here released in 1989. Several radio stations stopped playing it in September of 2005 out of courtesy to the victims of Hurricane Katrina which saw a large portion of that city indeed under water. I had to mute it last night because of the innumerable times I've heard it done in bars and karaoke joints, but when I turned the sound back on, there was Gord posing to the audience like a supermodel on the edge of the runway, waiting to hear their reaction from different parts of the stage but sadly done so in vain as they didn't understand what he was doing and didn't react with cheer. I realized then that I couldn't echo the PM's sentiment of being "glad the Hip remained a Canadian staple" as here I saw a very charismatic man (albeit a sick one) doing what all the great lead rock singers from America and Britain did/do, rile up the audience, but it was us as Canadians that didn't get him.

I don't agree with the hoarding of Canadian talent for this country because that is not what we should want for our entertainment. Even if it means the ghastly 'selling out' to our brother's below, 'exposure, exposure, exposure!' should be what we're chanting and with their repertoire of songs I think this band had what it took to cross over and be lumped in as one of the greats that came out of the 90s rock/grunge era and I'm not happy that they didn't. One could say they were "So Hard Done By" and that they should have "Fully Completely." That they had both the "Boots and Hearts" to do so and the "Grace, Too." Ok, that was a stretch, but these songs are good and highlight the group's sheer rock talent while showcasing Downie as an accomplished and brilliant lyricist. But still, the only reference to America at the show last night besides the rendition of "New Orleans is Sinking" was the rip off slogan from their money displayed by those wearing "In Gord We Trust" shirts. In some sense when this happens it's only natural for the nation to get maternal and say we were glad they didn't leave us like so many have when they become big and in that way they remain ours and ours alone. But that sounds like an overprotective mother who doesn't want their child to succeed if it means leaving the nest, or one that now has to mollify their child because they never got to. But in fact, the way the Hip remains a distinctly Canadian band where only we get the references to names of places does allow us to hold them a little closer to our bosom up here. I remember the first time I heard "Bobcaygeon." I was a passenger in the back seat of 1968 Buick Skylark cruising at a mild 90km through Banff National Park on our way back to Calgary from snowboarding Lake Louise. The melody and tempo were the perfect soundtrack to leaving a place from which we all hoped we would soon get to return. It was much different than the guitar shredding, distortion induced American punk psychosis of my youth growing up in small town. I was relaxed and at ease as I watched the mountains get smaller in the rearview and the city lights approach.

"Wheat Kings"-- another of the group's fan favourites-- is Canada's answer to Bob Dylan's "Hurricane"as both lyricists felt the need to musically retell separate stories taken straight from the ugly pages in the history books of the wrongfully accused. David Milgaard, originally of Winnipeg, was only seventeen when he was sentenced for the rape and murder of twenty-one year old Gail Miller. Milgaard served twenty-three years in prison before being released after DNA evidence surfaced, absolving him of the crime.

The concert broadcast ended with the song "Long Time Running" looping in the background as the credits rolled and as The Hip exited the stage after their third encore performance. I had never heard the song before, but I'm a fan now as it's great and was the perfect selection for the CBC to play as the final curtain call was made and the band walked into the Canadian musical museum. Like the museum Gord was describing in "Wheat Kings,"

It's a museum and it's all locked up after dark
Where the walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents' prime ministers

I hope that future generations will still be listening to the song when it conjures up the portrait of Prince Justin--and you know it'll be a good one-- long after he makes his exit from the stage, too.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Soiled Separately…and Other Sordid Tales from the Drawing Board

As the harrowing job search continues, I find myself wanting to branch from the delivery of food and drink into new, unchartered areas and recently took notice of ads calling for a "sign shaker" and "soil sorter." Where the first one has often impressed me-- driving by any given street corner to witness a professional sign handler hurling the thing like a baton and really earning his $10/hr--it required no further job description, unlike the second one. I read on to find that "soil sorter" was an ad placed by a uniform cleaning company and my memory soon reverted to the regular pick-ups and drop-offs conducted by employees of such a company. They would show up to the restaurants in delivery trucks to drop off clean bar rags and aprons while picking up the dirty ones in a fell swoop in and out that never took longer than forty-five seconds. The arrival of these males (although most possessed an intimidating countenance and were built like an ex-convicted gang member or night club bouncer)
always came coupled with a feeling of elation and a deep sigh of relief that finally we have clean bar rags again and I won't be needing to beg the cook for one from the secret stash he hoards…that is until we go through them all again in a week. I would smile and nod my head in a salutary gesture to these individuals, in awe and appreciation of their superhero-like dedication to the task at hand and nothing else. I rarely spoke two words to any of them. They were fast and always efficient, never stumbling or allowing a rag to tumble out of the bag.

So curiously I got to examining what this soil sorter's job duties were as I was a bit confused by the language. At first I thought it was actually soil from the earth but then upon discovering it was a uniform cleaning company realized the term 'soil' meant something different (and more fun!) altogether. However--and unlike the title suggests--the task is NOT to sort the garments and supplementary pieces by the type of substance that has indeed soiled them, but according to the item's colour and type of material. This was a relief. Here I was thinking there was a separate bin for every kind of substance capable of soiling an item and that on top of unloading heavy bags from the delivery trucks and standing for seven hours of an eight hour shift, this potential candidate for employment must also be versed in the sights, smells, texture and habits of modern day stains. 

"Well I can't lift much, so this job isn't for me" I said aloud, scrolling down to the next $10/hr job requiring minimal education. I possess a prestigious university degree but little in the way of '(direct) degree relatable/transmutable/grantable/pertinent/relevant/ experience', as they say. So I carried on my search and was getting bored and tired until my eyes grazed over the words "Men's Locker Room Attendant" and I immediately perked up. I read on to learn the ad was posted by the Glencoe Club of Calgary, an elite, well-attended sports and social club located in Elbow Park. This facility is host to a full-service food and beverage department as well as eight sports facilities. I decided that this was the place I wanted to watch my horizons expand before my eyes. I could be surrounded my half-naked to fully naked men, listening and observing how they comfortably interact with one another and their world at large, able to gain a better understanding of how the first sex is getting by in these upsetting economic times. While ensuring their garbage cans are frequently changed and urinal cake supply replenished, I could be the proverbial fly on the wall for the discussions that ensue post-workout concerning a sporting man's particular swim time, bowling score or lap maximum. But after the immediate attention to their workout wanes, I will prompt these towel-clad, successful Calgary men with riches gained during (prosperous) decades of oil exploration and extraction, into discussing things with much broader life-changing implications such as:
  • money
  • how to get money
  • how to keep money
  • how to make money work for you
  • taxes
  • luxury cars
  • housing trends for the mortgage-approved
I could digest this information and while ensuring the paper-towel dispensers are free from jams and the electronic blow-dryers are still functioning at ear-piercingly loud decibels, potentially make a turn-around in my life topics of discussion such as:
  • insolvency
  • renting
  • forty-year repayment plans
  • backpacking/traveling on less than a shoe-string and more of a fishing line/dental floss budget 
I read on for the full list of duties.
  • 1-2 years related experience (housekeeping where housekeeping after men is considered an asset)
  • Ability to perform physical requirements of the job including standing for extended periods of time, walking, lifting, grasping, and performing repetitive motions
  • Ability to converse and accurately follow verbal instructions in English
I realized soon after reading the ad that not only could I meet the necessary qualifications, but that it was also the perfect ad for any man seeking a woman (with the third bullet point negotiable). I would like to ensure that sweaty men coming in from their workouts of either curling, bowling, skating, squash, tennis, aquatics, or general gym-going, have enough towels and soap in the soap dispensers fashioned to the showers. I'd like to go into the showers while they're showering to see if the soap is low and if anything else is, for that matter. I would be wiling to answer any and all questions they might have about my job duties such as: "How many years of university do you have again?" and "That's a mighty fine broom you got there, how many bristles you think it has?" But alas I had better go... I had better get my application in.

Note: author is aware job calls for a "dedicated and passionate male", yet fully intends to challenge this notion in today's "Because it's 2015" world of gender inclusion, as previously cited by the current reigning Prime Minister of Canada. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Symphony of Construction, American Lotto Winners vs.Canadian and the Doomed Fate of the Playboy Mansion

Since times are evil and money scarce, I've had to resort to acquiring my newspaper quota from atop the garbage bin areas of local food-counter merchants whom I know will only throw them out at the end of the day. This is what was done with the Sun--the only paper the bar would subscribe to-- when I worked in restaurants. But if the place attracted patrons who read other news sources, I would snatch up a copy of the National Post or Globe and Mail if someone had left it behind and before it sat too long atop the dishwasher and the ink ran into illegible blobs.
I was working one night in one of these places when I mistakenly showed interest in the Calgary Herald that an over-fifty regular male patron was reading that evening. "Oh yea? You read the papers?" he asked, turning his eyes upward to meet mine. "Yea, of course. It's necessary to be kept informed and is my job as a citizen of this country and as a person walking around on planet Earth," I replied.
"Is that so…"
 He decided to give me the paper when he was through that night and I accepted gratefully…until I realized I had unintentionally started a 'thing' between us. He would came in every night at 6:30 to eat and drink and read the paper. When he was done and I was processing his bill he would slide the paper over to me with an off-putting gleam in his eye and say, "I hope you enjoy this tonight after work." It didn't matter that it was just a newspaper which cost less than $3, he was getting off on giving it to me as a (used) 'gift'. I felt sick about what I had started and knew I had to end it one fateful night; I had to refuse the paper. I watched the clock until both hands were at the bottom of it and he walked in, right on time. It was all business as usual until it came time for the bill and until his mouth parted to say the line and his hand motioned toward the paper. "I won't be needing it this evening," I almost yelled. "Oh?" he replied, surprised. "Yea, I bought a subscription and now it comes to my house," I lied. "But don't you live on your friend's couch?" he argued. Goddamn you for sharing your life with everyone, I silently cursed. "Yea, but she gave me the key to her mailbox because she doesn't use it anymore after CanadaPost keeps stuffing it with flyers. It hardly even opens now it's so full! But I'll get rid of them. Say, wanna buy a Walmart flyer?! Hahaha. So long! See you tomorrow! And don't forget your paper!"

Ah, but that was then and now I've learned to only take abandoned newsprint. Which brings me to my Post score last night. I came across an article written by Joseph Brean about the disturbing yet recurring trend of big lotto winners spending their loot and going busted broke within seven years of the win. The man they chose to showcase was an ex small-time weed dealer who (now broke) was recently arrested and sentenced to two and half years in jail on crack trafficking charges, proving he was better off before his $5-million windfall. But this isn't the telling part of the article. Brean chooses to cite sociologist H. Roy Kaplan at the University of Florida who surveyed hundreds of winners and who found an interesting statistic. "He found that American winners tended to move house immediately to areas of established privilege whereas Canadians tended to renovate." I saw this and nodded my head so as it almost fell off.

I have lived all over this city and since finding my favourite place--still in my girlfriend's apartment but now alone and with my own bed--I have in the last three years been plagued by the ceaseless sounds of skill saws, drills and pounding nails until my ears are bleeding and I'm pacing around the neighbourhood with a Jamaican air horn and megaphone just to compete. I do not live in a flashy neighbourhood whatsoever. It may be downtown, but it's the last notch on the west end of the belt line. I pay $900 rent because I'm close to the hip 17th avenue--an avenue I would have loved to live off of in my 20s--and because it is still Calgary, the second most expensive city in North America to park downtown in after New York. But the sounds of renovations and general fussing over domiciles whether the owner has won the will to do so or not is something I (not being a homeowner) cannot fully understand. The blasted condos across from my apartment who constantly have teams of landscapers, roofers, leaf blowers, sanders, skill sawyers, table sawyers, sweepers, shovelers, painters and a regular stream of commotion, look no different after each major 'overhaul' than they did before.The small home next to the condos had just finished adding an extension to the front of it this summer. After the sounds of that ceased it was time for the condos to fire up the air guns for shingle repair on all four roofs and forty-eight accompanying overhangs although I could find not one of the damn shingles lifted, curled up, or in any signs of distress from the elements whatsoever.

But back to Brean's findings and how they must mean Americans care more about personal image (i.e. moving to a home in an affluent neighbourhood when they win) than they do about that particular homestead's image. Making news this year was the selling of the Playboy mansion, with the hitch that Hef comes with and won't leave until he's dead. Both him and the mansion are around 90 years old and while Hef still gets upgrades (mainly in the form of the playmates he keeps) the house allegedly hasn't (See Vice's "I Went to the Playboy Mansion and it was Kinda Depressing"). But that didn't stop it from being sold for $200 million to the 32-year-old billionaire owner of Twinkies. Daren Metropolous, son of a Greek American billionaire and private equity tycoon, currently lives next door to Hef in an $18-million mansion and plans to combine the two properties, creating a 7.3 acre compound. Hef is already been heard asking after the biggest load of Twinkies the Hostess heir can get so that he turn one of his infamous 'movie nights' into a Twinkie eating contest between his bunnies that will go until the first one who requires liposuction loses. He mentions no plans to renovate.

The only 'renovations' I have sought after to my apartment since moving include the reduction of the amount of flyers stuffed into my mailbox. I first wrote a letter to the mailman, telling him it was his turn to get stuffed and left it in my mailbox after clearing out the flyers. But I ran back to rip it up after I serendipitously met him on the corner on my way to work that same day. He was real nice and told me lugging around those heavy flyers was messing up his back and that he hated having to deliver them but had to because they were such a large chunk of CanadaPost's revenue. The next day I found a letter in my box with a pink CanadaPost issued sticker that I slid into the window that read: No Flyers Please. I had made one myself, of course, but I found out it wasn't legitimate because it wasn't in pink construction paper issued by the Feds. I haven't received a flyer since. One man giveth the news and the other (mail)man taketh away.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Policing Digital Decency and the Depravity of the New World Order

I was visiting a friend at Central Memorial Park when a boisterous Englishwoman hollered out to me on my way to the restroom. "I like your handbag. Is it Marc Jacobs?" she asked, noticing my green purse that has since its purchase two Christmases ago become an appendage. The thing was olive green when I first bought it but now has a distinct dark blue hue to the leather on the back from rubbing up against my jeans when walking. "Yes, it is," I replied, surprised she could pin-point the designer from afar. "Are you a rep or something?" I asked.
"No, I just like handbags," she replied. I realized later it's relatively easy to spot bags by Marc Jacobs because their logo is embossed on most of their products and is a distinctly outlined rectangle but that had slipped my mind. "Look at all these people with their heads in their phones," she continued, using her hands to make a sweeping gesture out towards the park. "They're all playing that Pokemon Go." I looked out and laughed. Leave it to the English, I thought, to be astute and keenly aware of their surroundings. It was a nice Wednesday evening in Calgary and the park was busy, but no more than normal on a hot day so I had paid no mind to the loitering that was happening near the cenotaphs and nearby fountains as my associate and I had chosen to drink pints of beer at the Boxwood Cafe fenced off from the park. The Englishwoman was alone and had finished her drink and left by the time I returned from the bathroom but I couldn't help studying the players and their peculiar rituals after she left.

Now today's front page of the Calgary Sun blasts these Pokemon players, calling theatrically for them to


as veterans and families of veterans are outraged at the misuse of the parks and memorial sites. Veterans Affairs Canada posted a tweet echoing this, asking players to refrain from playing when visiting Canadian War Cemeteries and Memorials. That would be difficult, however, as apparently Central Memorial is the city's largest Pokemon attraction with three "Pokestops" at separate memorials, including the cenotaphs. I have never played the game and have more interest in shaving my Dad's back than picking it up as a hobby, but it has now touched a nerve that I do have interest in: the decency of digital device use and how it's near impossible to police--aside from calling for a call toward it. A situation like this is similar to the outcry over people taking selfies at other such places that deserve respect and screen-free reflection like Auschwitz and Ground Zero in New York. But you visit these places and see more often than not the opposite happening. I was at Ground Zero, overcome with heavy thoughts, when a tourist beside me asked a 'merchant' selling picture books of the towers on fire to take a photo of him and his family. The merchant put his books down for a second and snapped the shot of the family with all of them smiling like they were in front of the Cinderella Castle at Disneyland. 

In Japan all iPhones are shipped with the shutter sound permanently on because of privacy concerns over the lecherous phenomenon known as "up-skirt photography." This was not an action taken by law, but rather by all Japanese cell-phone vendors in an effort to curb voyeurism in that country. Then there's the recent case of Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers who lost her gym membership in L.A. after taking a naked photo of another woman in the change room and posting it to social media. Here the police were involved on grounds of an "illegal distribution" of the image and damages could be sought for a hefty sum if the woman decides to sue.
Most will agree that taking cheap sneak shots of women's crotches or buttocks' is tasteless and that wearing a skirt on public transit or being naked in a change room doesn't warrant the gratuitous use of cell-phone cameras, but the the slippery slope before getting to obvious places like these is easy to see. How are we to determine what it's ok to take photos of and where it's ok to take photos and play games and where it's not? Where's the criteria? Should we be teaching appropriate digital media use to children in schools? In the case of memorial sites, however, I would wager it's a hard thing to teach; that respect for the fallen or compassion for human suffering should levy a reach that extends further than one's pocket or purse. One could perhaps teach appreciation for the severity of circumstances that caused the sites to be erected in the first place, but it would take a lot deeper of an appreciation to overcome a want that has become second nature and borderline involuntary. The constant documenting of most aspects of daily life -from the routine to the spectacular-- and the playing of internet games in every corner of the world.

 Maybe instead we need to work on new technology that makes areas like a memorial site impenetrable to wi-fi waves and sends some sort of electro paralysis signal to your phone, rendering it inoperable for the duration you're there. But until major technological players make like the Japanese phone companies and intervene, I seriously doubt people will simply refrain from using their devices at inappropriate places just because some people might find it offensive.  It would be nice to think these players read the front cover of the Sun and the write-up inside but my guess is unless the paper hosted a Charizard or the next Pokestop, their heads were too focused on their phones to pay any attention to the headlines.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Username Misnomers

"She's automatic, so automatic"- Rancid

I couldn't post anything for the last three weeks because I was locked out of my blogger account. It appeared as though I was trying to log in under a different name, the name Gina Rowbald, to be exact. I'd like to meet her some day as I feel close to her now that I was ceaselessly attempting to beat down her digital door and log in to her account through her username but kept getting the password wrong because before I went and reset my web browser history for some unfounded reason the password and usernames were digitally stored and automatically inserted. I feel I perhaps owe her an apology for the harm I may have caused attempting to impersonate her and post my rantings on her webpages as though they were her own. I wonder if I was to advocate child labour or for higher taxes for the rich she would have sicced the internet dogs after me and had me hung for identity theft - that's of course if I were to have miraculously hacked in. But as most of us born sometime after the turn of the twentieth century and who have ever used a computing device well know, the likelihood of Google granting me leave to enter an account they are not 139% sure is mine without previously providing them a urine sample or the phone numbers for me and my five closest next of kin for verification is as likely as getting one of those distorted CAPTCHA texts asking you to prove you're not a robot right on the first go.

The point is I had simply forgotten what my cursed USERNAME was because well, let's face it, I have twenty-seven of the goddamned things and can't possibly keep track of them all when I set up accounts months/years ago and have had the computer remember them for me ever since until one day those blasted boxes come up empty and stare back at you as though you should have the information to fill them constantly streaming throughout your brain waves and if you don't you have gone seriously wrong somewhere in life and should really just start over with a new (user)name and identity because the old one is long forgotten by- perhaps- more than just you.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Sex in the Refinery

Even amidst the lowest prices in decades, Canadian oil has managed to reach a new low. It plummeted to a total depth further than their illustrious drilling machines can penetrate when an advocacy group attempting to persuade whomever they can to choose national oil instead of overseas supplies ran an ad campaign featuring 'hot lesbians' online yesterday. "In Canada lesbians are considered hot and in Saudi Arabia if you're lesbian you die!" reads an ad poster by the Canada Oil Sands Community Facebook group. Besides the fact that lesbians have about as much to do with the importing of oil as a derrick to a double-ended dildo (except that the plastic to make the dildo was probably petroleum based), the bottom of the ad still urges readers to "Choose Equality! Choose Canadian Oil!" It got me thinking just now far some people will stretch in advertising to try and make a point of sale, no matter how weak.

The message's ludicrousness is clear when you break it down: a western nation is touting its social and cultural mores as better than those of the East by pitching that oil from our country will be used to slather lesbian mud wrestling arenas, where Saudi oil will come into our fuel refineries wearing burkas and citing monogamy and boring values to one's family. The premise is about as ridiculous as the attempt to use same-sex to sell oil but hey, why not give it a shot, right? Advertising is just like the act of sex itself, you never know who or what you may attract until you put yourself out there. If you get rejected for acting without discretion- like this bad ad has with backlash and commentary lambasting--you just dust yourself off and carry on to the next piece of ad. In citing lesbianism and equality, however, the ad is not calling attention to Canada's acceptance of the LGBTQ community, priding itself on the progressiveness of government to recognize their rights to choose whom they want to love and marry, and instead employs a played-out notion that 'hot lesbians' are exhibitionists and act for entertainment and sexual attention. It also cries: "Why are we getting our oil from countries that don't think lesbians are hot?!", thus imploring a gross simplicity to as complex a reality as oil export and import. I don't know why we're still importing oil while Canadian barrels are being stacked on top of one another but reaching into the bag and pulling out this embarrassing stop under the guise of equality has about as much effectiveness in advertising as a commercial for spray-on crabs.

The advocacy group is listed as being in Fort McMurray where the oil sands production in Canada is at its largest. It's clear from messages like this one that Fort Mac is feeling good and is on the rebound from the wild fires that ravaged that town back in May. An ad like this one however, is sure to keep the internet flames alit.