Monday, September 28, 2009

How Much Time is Too Much Time?

Have you ever seen that Seinfeld episode where Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer are in a rush to get to a movie and they go to a Chinese restaurant and have to wait for a table? The Host of the restaurant keeps telling them 'Five, ten minutes', in response to their questions about how long till they get seated. To make a long story short, the whole episode is them in the waiting area of the restaurant trying to get seated, eventually they give up and leave because they are starving and have missed the movie and just after they leave the restaurant the Host calls out "Seinfeld four!"

This past weekend my bride and I took the kids to Fredericton for the night and decided that we would go out for supper when we got there. After three tries at three restaurants we finally got to have our supper (it seems that no one in Fredericton cooks at home on Friday night). At two of the restaurants the wait for a table was 45 minutes or longer! The third restaurant we got to originally told us 15 minutes, so we thought, 'o.k. that's not too bad' and hunkered down to wait. The funny thing about this whole situation was that as each new person entered the restaurant and asked about seating, the hostess told them progressively shorter times. I looked at my bride and we both, in a moment of shared brain activity, whispered to each other 'Seinfeld four!'

This of course got me thinking, how long do you wait for a table before you just say the heck with it and leave? If you go to a restaurant and they tell you '10 minutes' say, and you wait and wait and then look at your watch and it's been almost 15 and you ask again and they say 'just another couple of minutes', have you invested too much time to leave that restaurant? Do you take the chance that it might be just a couple of minutes or do you bail in the hopes of getting quicker seating somewhere else? It's one of those circular conundrums. If you stay the wait might be longer than you are being told, but if you leave you might get quicker service at another restaurant, but if you leave your table will probably be ready in just a couple of seconds. Then there is the whole factoring in of the time it takes to get to that other restaurant… Ugh!

Luckily in our case we got seated faster than we were actually told and the meal was good, the kids had a good time and all was well with the world. Looking back at the weekend, and the faces I saw in the waiting areas of the three restaurants we visited, I can only remember three smiling faces – those of the owners.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I guess if I don't get it now I never will. No, not some disease or other illness -- the whole whoopla over the Beatles (I don't really get the Elvis thing either). This past week two new box sets of their albums and a new video game hit stores, much to the delirious delight of their fans. Some lined up outside stores all night just to ensure that they got to purchase the items they wanted. Kind of reminds me of the whole Cabbage Patch Doll mania in the '80s (something else I'll never understand).

I have never been a big fan of the Beatles. I'm not sure if it is because they were broken up before I was born (although I do like other bands from the same period), but their music just never appealed to me. The music itself is alright I guess but some of their lyrics just send me around the bend. "She loves me yeah, yeah, yeah She loves me yeah, yeah, yeah She loves me yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!" YEAH.

Do we really need to have another release of music that has been on the market for 40 years? Doesn't everyone who likes the Beatles already have all their music? What more could there be? I guess like so many other things, it comes down to money. Music companies, producers, record stores all must just love this repeat of Beatlemania. People lined up outside the door all night and the cash registers ringing like some mad symphony. Maybe Sir Paul (if it is really him. Didn't he die back in the sixties and someone else begin impersonating him?) just needed to replenish his accounts after the no pre-nuptial divorce he went through a couple of years ago. Anyway you look at it, it looks like there is money to be made and spent. Perhaps I should give them a chance but for the $200 to $300 bucks a pop for the box sets, I think I will probably just let it go. I don't play video games often so I guess I won't be buying that product either.

With a busy schedule, that never seems to get any lighter (work, running kids to sports, keeping a house up and all the other ten thousand things that seem to need to be done) I just don't have time to listen to a box set of anything. After all, there are only Eight Days a Week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back To The Future… Or Is It The Past?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a time machine. You know, hop in, enter a date and travel to that period of time to see what things were like. The only problem with this travelling to the past is that if things change in the past then our present would also change (if you subscribe to that particular theory of temporal logic). For example, let's say that we travelled back to when your family made the move to where ever it is you now live. Perhaps something you do in that past time period makes your ancestors decide that they should stay in England or Ireland or where ever they started. When you got back to 2009, things would be different. Maybe you don't live in where ever it is you live, or perhaps your family is somewhere else. Maybe you don't even exist because your great grandparents did not meet at the barn dance. Gets kind of confusing eh?

It seems that someone somewhere has invented a time machine and is using it to change the past -- our entertainment past anyway. Have we gotten to the point in entertainment where there are no new ideas out there? Last night (while watching the very first episode of Jeopardy, from like 1983, apparently we are hard up for reruns too), I saw ads on TV for 90210, Melrose Place, and Degrassi (not sure if it was Junior, senior, university or old age home version). Granted these shows are 're-dos' or 're-imaginings' or continuations of the originals, but come on really! Let's be honest, none of these show were of top quality when they were on the first time, do we really have to subject ourselves to them again (and in the case of Degrassi, again)?

I do admit that sometimes this rehashing of old ideas does come up with some gems. The original Battlestar Galactica barely lasted a season back in 1978. While this has something to do with the fact that it was somewhat campy and the vision of the creators out paced the technology available to put it on TV, (and the fact that the more conservative call for less violence on TV made the shooting of robots repetitive and boring), it really wasn't very good. But the 're-imagining' of the show lasted 4 seasons, had compelling stories and was well made. The new version made stars of several of the actors and went on to spawn a spin off. (I bet Dirk Benedict would like to have the royalties from the new show instead of the old horse he was in.) On the other hand the 're-imagining', or what ever it was, of Knight Rider didn't even last as long as the (now) brutal original (the new versions one strong point was that it thankfully didn't star David Hasselhoff).

But I digress. The main point being, we need new ideas. Sadly the television and movie industry is notoriously difficult to break into. Show producers are very reluctant to accept scripts and ideas from 'unknown' writers and obviously they keep going back to the same old well for ideas and scripts. So if you are ever sitting watching television and are thinking to yourself 'I could write better stories than this,' you're probably right. So, to all the producers out there, please start looking elsewhere for ideas and scripts, because the well you have been using is quite obviously running dry.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Observations On A Stone

Today I spent some time doing what I should have done a long time ago. I've been putting off this task for some time, not because it is time consuming or particularly difficult but because I am a procrastinator. The one person out there who waits eagerly for my next blog entry will now be shouting "Writing a new blog entry!" as an answer to this statement, but that is not the task I am speaking of. No, the dreaded task I've been putting off is the downloading of digital pics from the whole summer into their appropriate files on my computer. Putting them in the topic specific file folders, (camping, sports, family, etc.) is not a task that I particularly enjoy, but there you go. While doing this I had the radio on in the background and there was a story about some kid who was 'well rounded' and this of course got me thinking.

This past summer we spent time camping and the kids collected all kinds of 'keepsakes' from the beach and the woods and where ever else they happened to be. In their collection of rocks there was the usual assortment of nicely smoothed stones that had obliviously been worn and shaped by the action of wind and waves. They often had some neat colours and shapes but all had the same thing in common, they were uniformly smooth. Then there were some other stones which were oddly shaped, cracked or broken, and had holes or depressions or pieces missing. While the smooth stones were neat in their uniformity of shape, the irregular shaped ones were infinitely more interesting. The kids were interested in the smooth stones but spent more time inspecting and speculating about the rough ones.

Why is it then that we use the phrase 'well rounded' to describe people? It seems to me that people are like the stones that my kids collected this summer. They come in all shapes and sizes, colours and textures, but the people with some rough edges are, to me anyway, more interesting. If we were all like those smooth stones that my kids looked at what a boring world it would be. So call me a diamond in the rough or whatever else you might like, but please don't call me well rounded. I'd like to at least think I'm more interesting than that.