May 28, 2008

Science proves it: Nice people exist.

A cathartic diary-bookend to last week's run-in with small-time hood/brothel-bouncer "Jack":

My address allows me a great luxury: biking to work on the Mark Goodson/Bill Todman trail - twice a week, if I can help it. There is a slight kink in the route, though. Coming west, at Park Lawn, you need to take a left on Lake Shore Blvd. W. (The alternative is continuing another 200m on the path into a strange condominium cul-du-sac/mobius loop.)

The kink in the kink is that turning left on LSBW is impossible if no car is along for the ride - your bike won't trip the sensor. So sometimes I cheat by riding the sidewalk until I can bolt onto the road like that jagoff cyclist we love to hate.

While aggressively navigating the sidewalk yesterday, I'm cut off by a Honda that blasts out of Marina Del Ray and stops right in my path. I brake suddenly (but easily) and give him the mockingly polite "after you, my liege" arm extension.

Dude rolls down his window and says, "Sorry, man. That was bad form."

"No problem", I reply with complete sincerity. "I really shouldn't be riding on the sidewalk."

"Oh man, I do that all the time around here. Kinda have to. Anyway, have a great day. Sorry bout that," says he.

"Don't worry about it. Take it easy."

I smile all the way home. It helped that his son was in the back seat.

May 27, 2008

Complaining is a spectator sport.

  • New rule: no more Anus Angus Burgers. I was a picosecond away from Wiki-ing this, but the truth is, I actually don't care what Angus means. Unless the patty is wearing a school uniform and bobbing its head like a yes-man with Parkinson's, I'm not buying it. If Wendy and Harvey McDonald think we are fooled by this for one minute, they should probably fast-track their heirloom tomato ketchup.
  • Hey, bike courier guy who balances for minutes at a stretch at red lights... We're all very impressed. Now see if you can't balance a real career in there.
  • Hey, otherwise normal cycling guy in the city. You're not in a race, and have never been sponsored by those companies on your shirt. Quit trying to look like a stock-car and wear some real clothes. While you're at it, give that wiener-wrap a rest, Pants Armstrong.
  • Drivers... if you cut me off, here's your choice: give me the wave, or get far away from me and my family. If you're a real sport, you'll flush that cop out of the next trap for me, too.
  • CD jewel-case inventor: I hope you are dipped in beef stock and chased by pit bulls into an active volcano.
  • Memo to streetcar drivers: buy donuts before your shift, and quit complaining about how "stressful" your job is. You don't need to be a red-rocket scientist to press a pedal without steering.
  • Russell Oliver: I pledge you my father's family ring, made from the gold in his grandfather's mine if you put a frackin' sock in it for one calendar year.

Always a classic...

Call me lazy, but I'm not going to come up with anything funnier than this today.
Have a good one.

May 23, 2008

Momentary Time Lapse of Reason.

Question: What side of "fight or flight" does "piss your pants while unable to move" fit into?

(I'll interject by saying this is one of those "diary" entries that I hate to employ, and totally forgive you for avoiding it like it were Hannah Montana III: the Ice Musical.)

Scene 1
INT: foyer of modest two-storey home, New Toronto.
Photo-weenie (ME) packs up time-lapse photo gear and kisses WIFE at the door.

Be safe!

See you soon. I've got my phone.

C/U: wallet on banister, as door closes.

Scene 2
EXT: gas station, Magic Hour is approaching.
ME fills car (pays cash) and drives west, enabling a drive into the city with back to the sun.

Scene 3
EXT: forlorn gas station on dodgy side of Etobicoke. Car is parked in empty lot, facing really crappy strip mall.

ME fiddles with camera, clamps and intervalometer, affixing all to roof-rack of Santa Fe with straps, gaffer tape, and combination lock for good measure.

POV: really crappy strip mall, centred in viewfinder of expensive camera. Sun is beginning to paint the Toronto skyline a colour that is seen maybe three times a year.

A tough Italian HOOD, mid-thirties, approaches menacingly. His face says whatareyoufuckinlookinat.

Hey, what are you doing?

Hi, how are you?

What's going on?


Whuddya doin' with that camera?

Oh, nothing.

ME sighs, mentally preparing the obligatory "here's how time-lapse video works" speech that is next.

Seriously. What are you doing with that camera. Why are you taking pictures here?

HOOD's face is now 10 inches from ME. HOOD is not nervous, has not smiled once, and is unconcerned that he has no backup. ME looks around casually and realizes that the closest witness might be 300 yards away, if he were visible.

I'm shooting some time lapse video. It's where...

You have any ID?

(semi-indignantly; he knows his "rights")
No. Why?
(smiles inwardly at thought of wallet safe on banister.)
I'm with Citytv.

HOOD is not impressed. He is, however, more confused and more pissed now.
ME fumbles at camera bag for only business card he has ever been asked for in 12 years. Finds one.

(smiling) This doesn't prove I'm me, but here you go.

As he hands over card, ME realizes the combination to his camera's combination lock is written on the back of it.

Actually, can I have that back? That one's no good.

HOOD pulls card farther away. His suspicion and pissed-ness are somehow multiplied.

Why are you shooting that club? (gestures to really crappy strip mall)

Actually, I'm shooting the highway. You see, with the shutter at about 2 seconds on shutter-priority, you get this nice blur that...

(cannot believe how stupid and wimpy ME is)
That the thing Frankie Flowers does in the morning on the way to BT?

No... I don't know.

You don't... it's your station!

I don't get up that early. Sorry. I should have introduced myself. My name's Jeremy. You are...

(beat) Jack.

Funny, that's... nevermind. Is everything okay? (gestures toward mall)

(confides) Let me tell you something. You see that studio over there? Lexa?

ME smiles, looks desperately toward a photo studio that he has never heard of. There is definitely no photo studio; only a big black window that says Lexa Studio in a shitty font,

Men go there to cheat on their wives. They don't get too excited about having their pictures taken. These are the kind of guys that have no problem serving 1 or 3 months for breaking some guy's jaw who took a picture of them. No problem at all.

Oh man. sorry bout that. I getcha. I'll uh... be finished in a second. Wow. Should I just flip this around 180, or...?

(matter-of-fact, not shouting) Just get the fuck outta here.

HOOD walks away and scrutinizes business card.
ME gets the fuck outta there.

Scene 4
EXT: other side of gas station
ME pulls around to other side of gas station, quickly checks clamps and combination lock.


Hey, why do you have a lock on that?

Because 'Murphy' was an optimist.

Car pulls out of lot at pretty good speed, without screeching. Sun has set. Magic Hour is way over. Long shutter speed now unnecessary since blur effect can now be derived solely from speed of car as it approaches on-ramp.



May 20, 2008

Things that make me rap my head on the closest solid surface.

  1. Clicking on a link that - after an excruciatingly long wait - opens a big fat PDF in Acrobat. I keeel you!
  2. "Please leave your message at the sound of the tone." The sound of the tone? Why stop there, Capt. Redundant? "If you don't mind, and the spirit moves you, please feel free to speak a spoken audio speech upon registering the analogue rendition of the digital sound of the re-creation of the tone which you'll hear."
  3. As much as I like them, there is something very Nanny State about pedestrian countdown timers. First there was the red light, then there was the yellow light warning us that the red light was coming. Now we have a warning that the warning is coming. Hey, Elmer. Is it too much to ask for a reminder that the countdown is imminent?
  4. Post commercial-break "updates" that bring you up to speed on things that happened two minutes ago! Has our collective ADHD really come to this? And what's up with pedestrian countdown timers?
  5. Supermodels who have an opinion on anything other than which cigarettes curb your appetite the hardest. Also... can you really be considered a Top Model if five seconds after the finale you're more ignored than tea at Burger King?
  6. Fine print in car ads. Yeah, we get it. We're being screwed like plywood before a hurricane.
  7. Why show a "professional driver on a closed course" if no one's allowed to drive like that, ever? Can recruiting ads show coke-snorting Marines at an Amsterdam whorehouse? Cause I'm guessing they'd meet their quotas.
  8. Dog tricks. Unless you can get your dog to play undead, just keep him in the backyard, Skippy.
  9. Birth announcement quantities. 8lbs. 3oz., 7:18 AM, 54 cm, 5200 mL, 98.6 degrees F, 52.9 mili-Coulombs of electrostatic charge... Newsflash... guys want to know one thing: Is it mine?
  10. Unplanned pregnancies.

May 12, 2008

Television Sins.

Although it has nurtured me for 39 years, and I dearly love my job as a promo producer, it's time to admit a brutal truth...

TV must die.

If only the TV that's in my house.

Why does TV suck? The thing is, television is kicking major ass right now. If you have a decent cable package, there are more killer programs to be found than there are hours in which to watch them. Remember, there was a time when Happy Days was probably the best thing on TV.

The problem is... TV literally sucks. It sucks us into its maw every night, through the technological glory that is cable, TiVo and DVD. And if you have Blu-Ray, you've just cranked the suction to Debbie Does Dallas. There is chrome coming off a trailer-hitch somewhere.

So if the programming is fine, what is the problem? I don't know... might be the drones sitting on their ever-widening asses in front of it. We blame TV for our being fat and our kids being mouthy and inattentive. Won't somebody tell us what to do?

Someone - I can't remember who - once inflicted favoured the world with his Ten Commandments of Television. They're listed below.

The first thing you'll notice is that they really aren't commandments at all. They're more like beatitudes - blessed are the geeks, blessed are the news-makers, etc... It makes you glad the author's first name wasn't Jesus, otherwise we'd have the "Sermon on the Dish".

To be fair, a couple of these "commandments" are worth chewing on, but - like the original Decalogue - many are redundant, anachronistic, and redundant.

With apologies to copyright:
  1. Television is the triumph of the image over the printed word.
  2. Print created illiteracy. Television is democratic, everybody gets it.
  3. The true nature of television is flow, not show. Process, not conclusion.
  4. As worldwide television expands, the demand for local programming increases.
  5. The best TV tells me what happened to me, today.
  6. TV is as much about the people bringing you the story as the story itself.
  7. In the past, TV’s chief operating skill was political. In the future it will be – it will have to be, mastery of the craft itself.
  8. TV creates immediate consensus, subject to immediate change.
  9. There never was a mass audience, except by compulsion.
  10. Television is not a problem to be managed, but an instrument to be played.
A little cryptic and somewhat - how do I put this delicately - full of shit. (There's also that nagging sense that someone was sitting in front of his typewriter for a very long time, nursing a bottle of Louis XIII and trying to coax the list into an "even ten".)

So let's grab a pair, and demand some action from up here on Mount Sinai. We may not be able to change much, but we can always start with the minutia - real commandments to the people on TV and to those of us who waste our lives watching them:
  1. TV-children shalt not wear Halloween costumes that cost $900.
  2. Thou shalt stop using an answering machine with a cassette tape. That is an abomination.
  3. Thou shalt always remember thy Miranda rights and note that they are not applicable in Canada.
  4. TV-women shalt not go into labour in a way that is completely unexpected and totally debilitating.
  5. Thou shalt have no TVs before thy children, lest thou need to seriously clean thine house.
  6. Thou shalt not pester me to start watching thy show, even if thy show is The Wire.
  7. Remember thine Hockey Night in Canada, and keep it holy.
  8. Thou shalt not pirate thy cable, lest thou shalt get me in on some HBO.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's 52" Aquos HD1080.
  10. Honour thy father and mother by admitting that they let you watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island well after thy bedtime.
Note: Unlike either Moses, I want to hear your commandments, too.

May 8, 2008

Etobicoke was just a warning...

The Mississauga Juried Arts Show is now on (May 3-25, 2008).
I have two pieces on the wall. (They're the ones without the red dots.)

Here's the location. It's right beside Square One, Mississauga's alternative to a downtown.