Saturday, December 23, 2006

And Screw You Too, Saskatoon

Those are Head of Government-quality jowls

So I drove from Flin Flon to Saskatoon for a 7:35 PM flight, got to the airport at 4:15, and now have to wait until 10:20 for the thing to actually leave. I guess that's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things (I certainly wasn't going to originally arrive at a decent time anyway), and it does afford me the opportunity to post a blog post from Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport, just for the hell of it.

So... yeah, that was basically it. My first and, God willing, only post from Saskatoon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poetry Corner

Ironic or heartfelt? You be the judge

On the long path
All white with white snow
An old man comes forward
With his cane in his hand
And all above the wind
That whistles in the branches
Whistles to him romance
That it sang little child

Live the wind, live the wind
Live the wind of winter
Which goes blowing and blowing
In the big green pines
Oh! Live the times, live the times
Live the times of winter
Snowball and New Year’s Day
And Happy New Year's Grandma

Monday, December 11, 2006

Worth a Shot

I do not want to imply that your mother is of considerable girth, but might I kindly suggest that she purchase the Slim Effect for Larger Figures?

Dear Sears Canada,

In your fall/winter 2006 catalogue, I came across a photo on page 16 of a woman modeling a “Jessica” brand vest. She looks a bit petite, blonde… maybe a B-cup. As a male I have no interest in the product being advertised, but I was wondering if you could provide me with the model's address, or even her telephone number? Maybe if you know if she uses MSN, maybe you could send me her MSN address? I promise I won’t do anything weird. I might just chat her up, see if I can’t get anything going, you know?

Anyway, I thank you in advance for your help in this matter. Even though I would never buy clothes without trying them on in a store first, and I don’t think anyone has ever really used a catalogue since the 1950s, I like to look through yours. I look forward to getting the next one in a couple weeks!

Sincerely,
Mr. Michael J. Smith

PS: Whatever happened to Roebuck?

*****

Mr. Smith,

Regretfully, due to company policy, we are unable to provide you with the contact details of any of our models. We hope you appreciate our concerns with respect to their privacy.

If you have any further questions regarding our catalogues, department stores, Sears Home Outfitters or our Mastercraft brand of power tools, please feel free to contact us or visit our website at www.sears.ca. We thank you for your interest in Sears Canada, and look forward to your continued patronage.

Sincerely,
N. Allan Underwood
V.P. Consumer Affairs
Sears Canada

PS: Mr. Alvah C. Roebuck died in 1948 at the age of 84.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Always Recycle... to the Extreme!!!"



Ha, Poochie has a fanny pack. I just noticed this. See, Simpsons never quits.

Poochie. Do I really have to explain who he is? More than anything, he represents a concerted and cynical attempt to attract an audience while attempting to appeal to the lowest common denominator. During his creation, absent was deference to creativity, originality, artistic integrity or a respect for the audience. Instead, he is nothing more than an attempt to reign in cash, a committee-created trademark to appeal to as wide a base as possible. He is everything that thought-provoking, intelligent fictional creations are not: he is “extreme” in the negative, mid-90s sense, wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket while carrying with him a surfboard and a devil-may-care attitude.

In the Simpsons episode bearing his name, Poochie is scorned and eventually rejected as the trite marketing gimmick he was. If only the real world’s inhabitants were as clever as the citizens of Springfield. Starting today, I begin a semi-regular feature profiling those intellectual properties that I feel are more Poochie than… fuck, I dunno, Great Gatsby?

Today’s instalment: Sonic the Hedgehog

He's cool 'cause his shoes have lots of detail, and his eyes are angry

In the early 90s, Mario was the dominant video game character. So popular was he that, in fact, more children could recognize him than Mickey Mouse (which I can’t back up with proof, but you know it’s true). Sega, seeking to claim dominance in the video game wars, decided that they needed a mascot more popular than Nintendo’s humble plumber.

Let us consider Mario for a moment. Despite his popularity, his design is incredibly “lame”, vis a vis the Poochie mould. The reason for this is the technical limitations in place at the time of his creation. Think back to Donkey Kong, Mario’s first appearance. Graphics weren’t exactly life-like, and many of Mario’s signature visual trademarks are a result of this: He was given overalls to better indicate his moving arms, while the moustache was a way to cover up what would have been a ridiculous looking mouth. Finally, his cap was added because the hair would have just looked too blocky in 1981.

Only a homo would design this

Can you imagine a major video game mascot being created today who was fat and had a moustache? No fucking way. But Nintendo stuck to their guns and today Mario is one of the best-loved video game characters around.

In 1991, Sega was not as constrained, visually, in their creation of a character. The 16-bit era brought with it better graphics, and basically anything imaginable could have been designed. After a few false starts, Sega settled on Sonic the Hedgehog.

Oooh, he had attitude. And he was cool. You know why he was cool? Because the song in his ads said so through the refrain, “going fast is cool/going slow is not”. He was spiky, and blue, and ran fast and had “attitude”, because he wagged his finger while looking angry. He wasn’t some lame ethnic plumber who walked around really slowly; he fought robots and shit.

This is literally one of the characters Sega considered before settling on Sonic

The original 3.5 Sonic games are considered pretty decent. Classics, even (although gameplay never changed that significantly between the original and the 16-bit opus, Sonic and Knuckles). No self-respecting video game player, however, places any amount of importance on today’s Sonic games. Quite simply, really fast moving characters don’t translate well to 3D, and Sega hasn’t figured this out yet.

With the jump to the next-next-generation systems, Sonic is able to talk. And when he does, he sounds like an ass. Kids, do you really want your favourite character to be all badass and attitudey? He just comes off as really mean and stand-offish. Were you a woman, you would not want to enter into a relationship with this guy. Compare this to Mario or even Link, those two ciphers who – though they hardly speak a word – are characters I feel more comfortable spending my afternoons with.

For his irritating “cool” attitude, the fact that his games have sucked since 1994, the way he was deliberately created to be a corporate mascot and the fact that Nintendo, in their own, low-key and accidental way made a traditionally “lame” character 25 years ago who represents to this very day the pinnacle of video gaming, I say that Sonic the Hedgehog is a piece of crap in the same vein as Poochie.

Sonic the Hedgehog gets 3 Poochies out of 5.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"I mean, women loved him! I didn't see that one coming."

Yep, nothing weird going on here, folks

“Hey, Steve, what’s up!”

"Oh, hey Liberace! Haven’t seen you in ages, buddy. How the ladies been treatin' you?!”

"Yeah, just, erm... great. Listen, glad to run into you. I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

"Well heck, shoot!”

"You know this new song you’re writing, ‘Mr. Sandman’?”

"You bet I do! It’s gonna be top of the pops!”

"Right, and I was thinking for the lyrics, when the girls are talking about qualities they'd like to see in their dream guy, why not add the line, ‘and lots of wavy hair, like Liberace’?”

"And I would do this... why?"

"Well, I mean… I was just thinking. Just a suggestion. Use it – don’t use it - no worries.”

“I mean, okay, I just don't see your reasoning.”

"Right. Just that, you know, I have some pretty distinctive hair, a little wavy, and, I mean, that’s obviously part of the reason why people of the opposite sex – women - find me attractive. Sexually attractive, I mean.”

"Yeah, I guess…”

"And I noticed in the song, you were listing qualities that a woman might want in her dream man, and I was thinking, shoot, why not my wavy hair? Because women find that really sexually attractive.”

“Hmmm…”

"Like I say, take it or leave it. I honestly won’t be offended. I just think that listing one of the qualities that has made me really sexually attractive to women for a number of years now would put this new song of yours over the top. Just really hammer home how handsome this guy would be, you know? Just so there’s no doubt as to how appealing I am to women.”

“Yeah, thanks Liberace. I’ll give it some thought.”

"Oh Steve, you're a sweetie!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

For Ever and Ever

A handy mnemonic for folks like me. Incidentally, if you need a mnemonic for the word "mnemonic", just think of Keeanu Reeves' 1995 opus, "Johnny Mnomonic".

I teach in a public school funded by Saskatchewanian (since MS Word hasn’t put a jagged red line underneath it, I assume “Saskatchewanian” is actually the word describing people who live in this province) taxpayers who believe in various things, religiously speaking. Christ, as odd as it sounds, I am actually one of these taxpayers, even beyond the GST/PST (seriously, that’s odd).

Every morning, at 9 o’clock Indian time (it’s okay for me to joke about that, y’see, cause the Indians joke about it too), some old lady comes over the PA system and does the Lord’s Prayer. This is ridiculous for the reasons outlined above. Like, it’s so fundamental a part of the taxpayer system/separation of church and state/democracy that I really oughtn’t have to explain why this is wrong. Yet, every morning like clockwork, Lord’s Prayer in a public school.

This is wrong, but I will gladly tolerate it. First of all, it wastes time. Anything that wastes time is okay in my book. Sometimes, if they’re feeling frisky, they’ll even do a musical, folksy version of the prayer to guitar (JP2 must be rolling in his grave. Also, probably all the rest of the popes). This wastes a huge amount of time, and I really love it on that level. The notion that a taxpayer-funded school is promoting a particular religion… not so loveable.

During Lord’s Prayer, I have taken to leaving the classroom. Nobody has really caught onto this, however. I have also started picking staples and shit off the walls in the hall during the prayer to make it obvious that I am not participating. Still, no comments on this, and I guess it is a reflection of how petty I am that I even care. I want to be that guy from outside the community that shows up and starts causing some shit, getting kids to question whether they need to be doing this every day, eventually getting an interview on “As it Happens”. I want to be like Edward James Olmos, but instead of teaching them math, I want them not to be religious. But I’m not. It’s ten times more mundane than that.

Staff meetings have started with the Lord’s Prayer. This is the one that pisses me off. I can see the argument for having it for the kids in the morning, however wrong it may be. The community needs something to hold onto, even if it, ironically, happens to be a religion that destroyed their own culture and values centuries ago. But the staff? That’s bullshit, and I brought it up with the VP one evening while drunk. Given that he turned out to be a sober and religious man who wholeheartedly supported the Lord’s Prayer in the school, I ended up regretting that one.

During the observance of the prayer during staff meetings, I sit down in my chair while everyone else stands. I don’t know why I am the only one. Many of these people I know to be irreligious. Why the fuck do they let this happen? It pisses me off.

So enjoy it, Sandy Bay. Enjoy your vaunted Christianity. I have never understood why they place such importance on it. You run into the odd religious nutbag back home, right, but since everyone here is also big-time into the Jesus, it becomes less of an issue (and, thus, less obvious). But, press them on it and every one of them will steadfastly defend their religion just as much as that weird kid back in grade 11 Math (you know who you are). Then, later in the summer, they will engage in their pow wows, and they will stick to their native traditions, but it’s all rather incongruous; your Pope, people, doesn’t really want you to do this. At best, he finds it quaint. At worst, it’s heretical and he wants you to stop. Figure it out.