Sunday, June 21, 2009

Truth in Advertising

I don't usually pay much attention to advertising. I like to think that I am smart enough to avoid the pitfalls that advertisers put out there in order to get me to spend money on things that I probably don't need in the first place. Over the last few weeks though there have been a couple of ads that have caught my attention – but not in the way intended.

The first ad was one I have seen several times on television. It is flogging a new 'frosty' kind of milkshake thing at a national royal dairy retailer. The ad shows the product and the voice over intones that it is blended by hand. All I can think, every time I see it is, "Really?" Is it really blended by hand? Because when I hear that I picture a big vat or bowl of the ingredients and someone's hand reaching in to mix the stuff up. Keeping in mind all of the studies that have been done in recent years about the unhygienic conditions in some restaurants (not necessarily this one in particular) and the poor hand washing techniques of some employees, 'blended by hand' is not a big selling point for me.

The second was a print ad I saw yesterday while perusing the bundle of sale flyers that gets dropped at the end of the driveway each week. Again, I'm not so much looking for inspiration on things that I might want, but more to see if there is anything that I usually use around the house that might happen to be on sale this week. The particular ad in question was for beachwear. The sale they were promoting was for women's bathing suits – bikinis in particular. The ad stated the colours available, sizing and of course price, but the thing that caught my eye was the phrase 'tops or bottoms'. Again, really? Tops OR bottoms – kind of risqué no?

Now I've never been a huge fan of the beach (too far to go, too hot, too much sand inside the shorts) but if this ad is true, then I might just have to rethink this position. It could be an interesting summer at the beach.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Graduation 2009

It's finally here! That time of year that all students work towards for 13 (in N.B., kindergarten to grade 12) long years – Graduation Week. That time of year when all of that hard work (or perhaps slacking off and then panicked work) all pays off. Time for the girls to spend loads of money on hair and make-up, tanning, and a dress you will never wear again (kind of sounds like a wedding). For the guys a time of trying to find that perfect date to show up at the prom with and then grope in the backseat of their '89 LTD in the parking lot. It's a busy time of year what with exams, dress fittings, tux fittings, Baccalaureate services, prom night insanity ('Does this dress make my bum look big?' 'No, honey, but it looks like your boobs may fall out!'), and graduation ceremonies. With all that is going on it is a good thing that we still have the mighty yearbook to fall back on to bring all of these fuzzy memories to light in the years to come.

One of my beautiful bride's responsibilities at the school where she works is to supervise the yearbook. You know, make sure that pictures of events get taken and that all of the various groups and teams get photographed for posterity, check to see that no inappropriate behaviour is photographed and published, that sort of thing. Most everything is done online now, no more 'cut and paste' in the 21st century in the yearbook room. But on thing that still has to be done by good old pen and paper is the grads list of future plans (FP), favourite memory (FM), date of birth, full name etc.

Being a helpful guy I try and lend my wife a hand whenever I can to lighten the load. This year I volunteered to help proof the grad listings. All I could do was laugh at the same mistake being made now, that some people made when I graduated. Most can get their own names spelled correctly. Some can even get the right birth date and some sort of future plan down on paper. The mistake I mean is listing a favourite memory for a date that hasn't happened yet. Because these books are produced on a schedule, these grad lists have to be entered weeks ahead of time. On listing after listing I continued to see – FM: Prom and grad night with Chris (or Sally or Bob or Martha or whoever). How do they know? It could be the worst night of their lives. Perhaps Chris and Mary break up before prom night. Maybe Bob or Martha get loaded and hook up leaving their real dates high and dry. No one knows how this night is going to turn out.

When I noticed the prospective grads filling out their lists this year I tried to offer some advice against doing this sort of thing. Some listened, others did not. All I could think of as I read the lists was the old adage – Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hockey Is Over

Halleluiah, Praise the Lord! The 2008-2009 NHL hockey season has finally, at long last, thankfully come to an end. I don't mean that it was a long season because my chosen team (I don't particularly like any of them) had a bad season. I don't mean that I am tired of hearing about the attempt of a group in Hamilton trying to get a team there over the protests of the league president (even though I am). I don't mean that now we have 2 ½ blessed months without Don Cherry. I mean just what I said – it is over. The whole experience from the drop of the first puck in the fall to the final goal of the playoffs is too long. Do we really need to be watching ICE hockey in June? NO!

Professional sports have to dial it back. NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, CFL… aaaAHHHHHH! Enough! It's all about money. Every professional sport extends their season as far as they can to make more and more money and the public eats it up. If it was really about the game, the experience, the players and the fans, each sport would play its regular season and then the two best teams would play a best of 5 series to determine the champion.

I like to think that I have a good attention span. I can pay attention to sermons in church, listen to teachers or lecturers droning on an on, sit through bad movies and listen to people tell me stories that I have no interest in hearing and less interest in learning the outcome of. But I cannot sit through another round of playoff hockey. I truly believe that hockey should be over when the last pile of snow melts outside the arena of the most northern NHL team. That way we won't have to bear the pain and suffering of playoff hockey in the middle of June.

It's not just hockey either, lest you think that I just don't like hockey. I think baseball should be over when the snow flies and that the NBA and the NFL should limit their playoffs to two weeks tops. Years ago a wise showman said "Always leave them wanting more." As it is right now, I've had more than enough.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Confessions of the Heart

I can't stand it any longer. I have to tell the world about my obsession with my mistress. She is only 25 years old but holds a fascination for me that's hard to explain and belies her years. The give and take of our interactions is intoxicating and keeps me coming back for more. When we're together time seems to stand still and yet fly by at the same time. We met in the summer of my 11th year and have had a stormy relationship ever since. At times our interactions seem more like a battle of wills or a contest of mental acuity than that of a relationship. She is a demanding mistress, and for the life of me I can't seem to shake her grip on my mind. I was reintroduced to her recently by a mutual friend after not having seen her for at least 10 years and her charms have not waned. Our love affair has been rekindled. But as ever, she is a guilty pleasure.

Her name is TETRIS. (You can meet her for yourself at ) I can't understand why this game gets to me. I find it utterly engrossing. It's hard to believe that a game as simple as this one can hold the imagination for this long a time. Now with the advent of MMRPGs online and the computer generated reality of the newer games on the market, TETRIS continues to hold the minds of players all over the world. It kind of reminds me of that ad with the slogan "Those Who Like It, Like It Allot!" It seems that people either hate this game or love it. I happen to fall into the latter category.

So, Happy Birthday TETRIS! Thanks for the years of wonderful time wasting entertainment. I look forward to many more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Magic Carpet Ride

The ingenuity of the human being is a wonder to behold. A few months ago, United States customs officials, in strange case of life imitating art à la Cheech and Chong, found a truck that was literally made out of cocaine! How does one do this? How does one even think of this? I guess if you really need to get that shipment of illegal drugs across the border, necessity really does become the mother of invention.

Now in a recent case, a woman trying to fly from Chile to Spain, was stopped when her baggage was found to be suspect. No, the drugs were not wrapped up in her clothing or cleverly hidden in her toothpaste tube or in her talcum powder bottle. Her suitcases were made out of drugs. Apparently the cocaine was mixed with resin and glass fibre and placed in a mould to create the hard pieces of her luggage. When the 'receivers' get the pieces, they use an unspecified 'chemical process' to separate the drugs from the unwanted material. Now I admittedly don't know much about drugs other than what I have read, but would you not want this stuff to be a pure as you can get it? Do you really want it to be combined with toxic materials and pressed into one shape, only later to be separated, by this 'chemical process' into the form you are buying? I mean, personally, I don't like anything I ingest to be 'chemically separated'. Although, I guess if you are taking cocaine, you're probably not all that concerned with the process of how it got to you.

Anyhow, the woman was caught and now faces the warm fuzzy embrace of the Chilean legal system. It does make me wonder though, what she said to her friends before she left. "See ya guys, I off on a trip… uh, I mean, I'm taking a trip. No wait! I mean I'm going on a trip, uh…"