Thursday, 22 November 2012

Better Get Reused to It...

Hello Friends.

Have you ever seen those survival guy shows? Not Survivor, but the type of show where a guy (it's always a man, women aren't this intentionally stupid) goes into an inhospitable environment to humans, like a jungle, a desert, or an outdoor music festival, then finds his way out They even film themselves, so there's no suggestion of an off-camera crew sharing turkey subs from the catering table. I for one would like to see the reverse concept every episode. Show me how to get into a five star hotel or top-rated restaurant using only my wits and a cup of my own pee.

I will admit, however, a certain appeal to the survivor guy show. It's amazing to see how far one can get without any stuff. It flies in the face of our always-connected age. I envy that freedom from things (that said, don't take away any of my shit). I was without a cell phone for so long, and now Dr. Jon and I split one and I hate when it's not in my possession. At first I thought I'd never use it, or only for emergencies, and now I wish I could use it more. There are, for instance, ways to connect to Facebook and Twitter on this phone, but we don't have a data plan and so we can't and it TEARS ME UP INSIDE! The appeal of such a concept (Facebook and Twitter on a phone) is that multiple functions are served from one device. Like the survival guy who uses a long stick to spear fish and retrieve Frisbees from tall treetops, I love the idea of more than one use for a simple thing.

Dream: Find new uses for everyday objects.

Goal: Achievable. In this economy, one can't afford to waste money on single-purpose items anymore. Most folks will rinse out a jelly jar and use it anew to store thumbtacks, for instance, or turn their expired Jello into a marital aid. It helps one save money and feel resourceful; what's wrong with that?

Plan: List all the tips and tricks I have learned to reuse everyday items, like:

No one buys cds anymore, but we all have those accordion folders where we used to store them. Placing processed cheese slices in there means you and your friends will always have snacks for cross-country roadtrips. For example, on a hot August day, you could reach for your accordion and say to your travelling companions, "Have you heard the latest single from..." (open case) "Kraft? KRAFT SINGLES!" and everyone will laugh and chow down.

New televisions on the market are now often longer than they are wide, making them the perfect sledding surface. Why waste money on a toboggan when you can glide down a snowy hill in style on a television? Strap yourself in nice and tight with the attached power cord and HDMI cables!

Has your infant grown into an ungrateful child? Don't throw out that baby monitor! Turn it into a walkie-talkie you and your spouse can use to grieve lost innocence from separate rooms.

A garlic press makes a fantastic pill crusher enabling you to top any food with psychotropic medication your dinner guests will consume, unawares. Turn your next dinner party into an all-night freakout.

Have a skeleton in your closet? Don't come clean! Use it to retain the shape of your sweaters.

Put a twist of citrus in your colas and cocktails with a quick spritz of Lemon Pledge.

Poop in the tub

Has your messenger bag gone out of style? Fill it with ball-bearings, place it atop the stairwell of an apartment complex, and tip it over as you pull the fire alarm for a fun afternoon.

No ice cubes for your next party? No problem! Swipe some stones from your pretentious neighbour's "garden pathway" in the dead of winter. They keep your drinks cold and don't water them down.

Merchandise in support of Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign makes excellent toilet paper.

Retain the shape of your boots by paying a person who is roughly your size to stand in them for you while you're not wearing them.

This holiday season, we want to save money and time where we can. So surprise Mom with a Lady Shick that also peels potatoes, and keep Dad a fiend on the fairway with a 9-iron that's also a kneecap-crusher. We live in such abundance, we cannot only survive but thrive if we learn to create more from the more we already have, lest we discard our blessings like a cup of our own pee.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

I Am Afraid of No Ghosts...

Hello Friends.

In the revenge fantasies of my childhood, I always cast myself as a ghost. So if some other kid was an asshole and I needed to think of fanciful things to fall asleep, I'd imagine an elaborate scenario wherein I was a ghostly presence who would sneak into his bedroom and mess with his stuff. Steal his money, smash his toys, etc. And he'd be all "Uhhhh whose doin' that?" (you should've heard this kid-total moron). I'd respond in a ghost-voice, "It's meeee! I'm messing with your stuuuff! I'm a ghooooost!" and I'd spill a bowl of potato chips on his floor or, if I was feeling particularly churlish, smother him with a pillow.

Now that I'm older, my revenge fantasies to fall asleep are less supernatural and more convoluted. If a friend jokes that I eat like a pig, for instance, I might fantasize about sleeping with her boyfriend, then her father. If an actor I hate lands a series of plum acting roles, I fantasize about buying a national theatre, casting him as Torvald in A Doll's House, cancelling the production, then sleeping with his boyfriend/father.

What's weird is, although my revenge fantasies have matured (I'm pretty sure matured is the right word here), my notion of ghosts and haunting is exactly the same. They remain as unknown and scary as ever. I want no part of it.

Dream: Never get haunted by ghosts.

Goal: Achievable. Maybe this is tempting fate to an insane degree, but I don't think ghosts have the internet or anything, so I'm going to just say that ghosts sound like assholes. From what little I've gleaned from horror movies, tabloid media, and those ghost-hunter shows, a certain number of factors are common in all haunting. Therefore, it stands to reason if I eliminate these factors, I eliminate the possibility of ghostly activity.

Plan: Observe the following rules forever to keep the spirits at bay.

1) Never live in an old house surrounded by nothing. Oh man, ghosts love old houses! Do you have a musty attic? Did you build your home over a gravesite? Do your pipes clank sometimes but then sometimes its ghosts? Then you have ghosts. And it's always old houses, you'll notice, because the ghosts are always spurned lovers, young soldiers, or eerily calm children from like a hundred years ago! How come there are never stories of a young couple haunted in their condo that was built in the 1980s after a roadhouse bar burned to the ground? And the ghost is named Donna and she has a jean jacket and crispy bangs? That would almost be kinda fun!

2) Don't have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I saw this one show where this woman breathlessly recounted her haunting by saying, "When I went to bed that night, all the chairs were pushed into the dining room table. When I awoke the next morning, one of the chairs had been pulled out!" Are you fucking kidding me? How neat and orderly does your house have to be, how ensconced in a routine are you, that one chair out of place is an impossibility? You didn't just get up from the table and leave it there! It had to have been an apparition! Oh my god, get a hobby or something! Loosen the reigns on your life a little. Plus, if the worst a ghost is doing is pulling out your chairs, just be cool about it. Less effort for you to sit down to take your psychotropic pill regimen every morning.

3) Stop indulging the believer. Have you ever seen that show Psychic Kids on A&E? It's about kids who supposedly see ghosts in their homes and A&E brings in a Medium to talk to the ghosts and figure it all out. The Medium is this fantastic gentleman named Chip Coffey. Chip Coffey is a LEGIT Southern Dandy. He wears scarves and spectacles and always pulls his chin into his face when he's doubtful and says things like, "Oh my starrrrs! You git on outta here, you silly ghosts!" (Here is a picture of Psychic Medium Chip Coffey). Anyway, kidding aside, what's really disturbing is the fact that these kids approach their parents and say, "I see a ghost!" and the PARENTS say, "Oh holy shit! Really? Oh my god!" They greet the claims of their kid (who, I'm sorry, is never a popular, well-adjusted child anyway) with total belief and support. I can just imagine my own father's reaction if I came to him and told him there was a ghost in my bedroom: "Oh yeah? Maybe he'll practice your goddamn clarinet for you. Quit dickin' around!" And that would be the end of it. These kids on this show are TERRIFIED! But the parents don't treat them with any skepticism, and in fact, lavish copious attention on little Timmy, call the folks at A&E, spend a high-strung and finicky afternoon with Chip Coffey, who somehow fixes everything (no skepticism ever greets his "exorcisms" either).

I guess I'm an asshole for treating the idea of ghosts with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I think if I were to believe fully in hauntings, I'd also have to make decisions about what I believe the afterlife is like. Maybe we don't all turn to dust, maybe we don't meet our maker, maybe we just hang out and rattle chains. Plus, I know people who claim they've encountered ghosts. My dear old grandmother said, right after her husband, my grandfather, died, the following thing happened: She was getting ready for bed and at her bedside she had one of those 3-way touch lamps that go bright, brighter, brightest, when you tap it with your hand. She says that while she was making her bed, the lamp started to go bright, brighter, brightest, bright, brighter, brightest, even though she wasn't touching it. It happened again and again and eventually she left her room and went downstairs and realized that she had left the front door of the house unlocked. She says she laughed! She locked the door, went back upstairs, where the lamp was behaving itself, and went to bed. She says that was my grandfather looking out for her. Reminding her to lock the damn front door, Jeanette. If that's what ghosts are, old loved ones trying to connect, to keep us safe, maybe I shouldn't be so closed off to the idea. For now though, I'll get ready for bed with Dr. Jon, ensure the front door is locked up tight, and let the chips fall where they may.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Hello Friends.

Surely some revelation is at hand. W.B. Yeats said that in his poem The Second Coming, and it's weird how amazing poetry can apply to any time period and situation. Especially prescient of him to predict that, in 2012, I'd be making a public appeal to a heartburn medication.

Dream: Become the the guy who writes the Twitter account for Gaviscon.

Goal: Achievable. Every corporate entity has to have a Twitter presence. The following companies have Twitter: Mrs. Dash, Green Giant, Scotch Tape, Kotex, Crispers, Trojan, Vicks, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. But not Gaviscon, so why couldn't I be the guy who does that? If people log on to hear the musings of a tampon or can of corn, surely my funny tweets will get some new hearts afire (flames which can be easily extinguished thanks to Gaviscon's patented coating action).

Plan: Explain why I would be the perfect candidate for this position.

1) I'm am a good at writer things funny down. Unlike the plant I never played or the clarinet I never watered, some form of writing has been a constant hobby for most of my life. Though this current blog is only three years old, I had a MySpace blog before that, a LiveJournal before that, and a dramatic teenage diary before those. I maintain two Twitter accounts, one that is funny and one that is deeply informative. I write notes for my boyfriend that are adorably passive-aggressive ("It's so cute how you drank all the milk!"). I write plays for teens to perform so as to keep them from wrecking their lives by doing drugs or starting a band with their friends. I write articles for random websites. I comment on pictures of your kids on Facebook so much that I get banner ads for adoption agencies. So I could TOTALLY write 140 character blurbs on behalf of a tablet that foams up all fancy and keeps acid from travelling up your esophagus.

2) I use the product all the time. I don't know when I became a tea-and-toast old person, but lately it seems like any spicy food beyond a certain hour of the day sentences me a painful night. The other day I had this cajun chicken which was so good that I had to dig leftovers out of the fridge for an awesome Dateline double-header about a guy who was like a mime-preacher? Like, he did these gospel performances in silence and then he moved to Vegas and hooked up with this girl who was a bikini model for car magazines and they did GHB together one night and he might have accidentally killed her but we're not sure so it's 2 episodes back-to-back? Anyway, but that was too late for chicken and later that night I woke up just ravaged by my burning heart. I tried to wait out the pain by just waking up to watch the W Network at 4 am. By the way, do you know what's on the W Network at 4 am? Episode after episode of Will & Grace. That show and Friends have become one of the great mysteries of my life, if I might digress for a second. When those shows were first run, Thursday nights in the late 90's/early 00's, I watched them religiously. I found the characters to be witty, urbane, and relatable. I even wrote a spec script for Will & Grace (like every gay kid at the time, so shut up). Now, in reruns, both programs are insufferable. Will & Grace in particular is so shrill! I love Megan Mullaly, particularly her turns in Party Down, Parks & Rec, and Bob's Burgers, but the voice she had on that show! And her co-hort, the guy who played Jack, that guy is bananas. Just so flowery and flamboyant. Here is a scene with all four principles:

WILL: Declarative statement! Statement! Statement! Arm-waving!
GRACE: Whiiiine, though? Whiiining, is how I sound?
JACK: Sofabed lollipop bubblegum power bottom butterfly!

Anyway, I couldn't stand it so I popped some 'scon and was back to bed in five minutes.

3) I would love the flexibility of working from home. Look, I have to believe running Gaviscon's Twitter account would require a computer and maybe a phone. I don't need to put on a suit and punch in every day to write, "TGIF! How are you spending your Friday night? We're thinking tacos! #NoHeartburn #GimmeTenTacos" And if I could write from anywhere, I could travel to anywhere! While I'm grateful to have my current retail job as a sweater-folding priss at a fancy clothier, I am committed to working most of Christmas, which means I'll be lucky to get home to see the folks. But I will tweet 'round the yule log if it means I can get drunk with my brother and play SuperNintendo (like holidays of yore).

4) I can sell things! I've got years of customer service work, Gaviscon, and I recently ended a stint writing online copy for products and services that were often HORRIBLE. I sold weekend staycations at 2-Star motels in Brampton. I sold hot stone massages in a Halifax basement. I sold an exercise machine that didn't do shit! Imagine what I could do for a product I actually like, one that I know works.

I wrote an abbreviated and more professional version of this to the heartburn specialists at Gaviscon, and they recently sent back a form letter saying that my information was being forwarded to their advertising department. I'm choosing to take this as a good sign. Look, just give me the job, Gaviscon. Take a chance on an aspiring writer who doesn't want to backslide into retail and become complacent in customer service drudgery. Allow me 140 characters to change all of our lives. Present me with a sweet challenge to chew on, watch your profits foam up, and let me sleep soundly thanks to the benefit of satisfying employment, the desire for which burns ever brighter in my beating heart.