Oh Me Oh My

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sit Bot-Bot Sit, Bad Dog

Because the holiday season is quickly approaching I thought I would make a public service announcement: DO NOT buy the "RoboPet" (seen above) as a gift for anyone, unless that someone really loves shoddy robotics and impossibly frustrating crappiness. I was told it would only sell in Europe but then I saw the commercial on TV and knew it had invaded North America. I was a production assistant on the set of that very commercial this summer and my loathing for this toy runs deeper than my loathing for children aged 2-18.

The shoot was supposed to be about 12 hours which is long in itself but ended up being 17 hours due in large part to the fact the RoboPet is an electronic pile of feces. The commercial featured both this robotic dog and a real life dog which should have been my first clue things were not meant to go smoothly: working with both an animal and a temperamental robot--awesome! The commercial had about 24 shots that needed to be captured. One of those shots included the dog running up to the counter where the RoboPet then stands on it's hind legs and barks. This one shot took over 3 hours to get! It was hard enough to get the dog to run down the stairs and stand on its mark but then then fuckin' RoboPet would just do whatever the hell it wanted:

Director: Action
*dog runs down the stairs*
Director: Cue the Robot
*RoboPet sorta gets up and then falls into bowl of apples*
Director: CUT! Fuck, Shit, Balls, Fuck!

Almost every shot was equally frustrating. At one point I was no longer "Jamie" or "the production assistant" I was "The Wrangler". RoboPet would be sent into the shot and inevitably walk the wrong way, or fall on his side, or some other random tomfoolery; I was under the counter ready to put him back on his mark--and there I stayed for an obscene amount of time. The worst was the shot that was supposed to illustrate that RoboPet was smart enough to know his surroundings. The kid who stars in the commercial walks away to take a call but leaves RoboPet on. Ideally RoboPet walks to the edge of the counter, sees he is about to fall off, and then takes a few steps back. About half the time he wouldn't walk to the edge at all and just sorta do his own thing instead; the other half of the time he would walk right off the edge and hit the tile floor nice and hard. "Can the Wrangler please get another stupid robot". And so I would run up the stairs to the bedroom where an army of them waited on the floor. It was like a scene from I Robot if the robots in that were smaller and embedded with a mental retardation chip.

The controls were impossible; I mean, just look at the converter they give you, it's just a random collection of buttons. "To make him bark press arrow, arrow, triangle, square, down, upper right circle" Who the hell designed this? To add to the frustration was the fact that the actor who was playing a 14 year old was actually 18 and was growing facial hair like a fuckin' werewolf so Carrie the makeup artist had to constantly powder him up and shave him on 3 separate occasions. We kept thinking the continuity of the commercial would be a mess since the scenes are not shot in order. He goes from clean shaven, to a hillbilly beard, to a five o'clock shadow to a handlebar mustache all in the course of 40 seconds.

But I'm getting off-topic from the primary message: The RoboPet is a disaster. Take the money you were gonna spend on it and buy yourself some booze, then stumble around and if possible topple into a bowl of produce--that way you can experience what it's like to be a RoboPet first hand.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When Bohemian = Bag Lady

I don't know if it is because I spend way too much time on www.gofugyourself.com but I was walking around Square One on my lunch and there are two very disturbing fashion trends that I think we need to stop right now.

First and foremost is the bohemian look where people layer clothes for the hell of it. This had it's roots back when people wore a skirt over a pair of jeans (PICK ONE!) but now has blossomed into a full-on everywhere you look trend. It must be said: It makes you look like shit. It's like a Value Village discount bin exploded and someone looked down and thought, "yeah, two scarves over a shawl over a cape is awesome". It doesn't even matter if it's high-end clothing, when it is layered without thought it makes you look like a homeless superhero. The worst part is that it was a style made popular by Mary-Kate Olsen. Don't get me wrong I love the Olsen twins and would slit any of your throats to have their media power but when the world is taking fashion cues from Michelle Tanner, I think we need to take a collective step back.

Secondly and most dangerous when combined with the above look is tucking your pants into your boots. There is one reason and one reason only this is EVER acceptable: you are 6 years old and putting on your goloshes to walk to school in the snow and don't want to get your pants wet. If you are a grown woman and trying to pull this off, rest assured it looks like you are either on lunch recess and itching to slide down the hill, or an extra in a Poison video.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Mamas Not The Papas

Years ago, in one of my entrepreneurial moods I thought of compiling a CD that featured songs about mothers and another with songs about fathers. It could be sentimental and make the perfect Mother's/Father's Day gifts. I was a genius! I began brainstorming songs about mothers: Good Mother by Jann Arden is great because it talks about becoming who you are because of your mom. Spice Girls' Mama and Boys II Men "A Song for Mama" were all about being grateful for what mom had done for you, and Kate Bush's Mother Stands for Comfort is all about how moms are our anchors and protectors. This was awesome, now I just had to start planning for the father's compilation...this is where I ran into trouble.

There are no good songs about fathers. In fact, the few that exist are quite negative. Oh Father by Madonna is all about her mixed feelings toward the dad that beat her as a child. Daddy by Jewel is about her emotionally abusive father who cheated on her mom. It goes on like this. I was pretty much ready to scrap the whole plan when the first glimmer of hope shone on me:
Father Figure by George Michael! It was perfect I thought:

I will be your father figure
Put your tiny hand in mine.
I will be your preacher, teacher
anything you have in mind.
I will be the one who loves you
'til the end of time.

Touching. Sweet. It was the perfect song to start the CD. With hope renewed I began brainstorming again while listening to the rest of the song. I'll admit the line, "If you ever hunger, hunger for me" seemed somewhat out of place at the time, but I wrote it off as a metaphor for nurturing or something. Then he has that line where he sings. "That's all I wanted, but sometimes love can be mistaken... for a crime". Okay that sorta sounded like the confessions of a child molester but I'm gonna go ahead and assume you meant you love someone so much it's almost criminal...not that said love is actually a punishable offense. Then came the clincher: "Just for one moment, to be warm and naked...at your side". Now it's clear; either George Michael isn't singing about parenthood or there are some traumatized kids out there who have a relapse every time Faith comes on.

Am I seriously the only person who never knew the song was about sex? Why would he include that "put your tiny hand in mine" part then? Did he just like 'em with exceptionally small hands? Did he like them younger? Oh eww, now I have a mental picture of George Michael trying out the whole "who's your daddy" role and once again I am skeeved out. This is what I get for trying to be industrious.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Farty Isabelle!

You know how there are certain names that get tied to a personality trait for one reason or another and then become a euphemism for somebody. You know like guy who won't stop talking to you in line even though you're clearly not interested can be a talkative douchebag or a "Chatty Cathy". Some have historical or biblical significance like "Doubting Thomas". Some have pop culture links like "Debbie Downer" and some from what I gather are just random: like "Lazy Susan" "Bitter Betty" or "Slutty Leslie"...that's right, I'm looking at you Les!

Sure I made that last one up but new terms have to be coined by someone right? The other day I made one up that I want to see become a regular part of the North American vernacular. As anyone who knows me is aware I am a gassy mother, which is a direct result of my losing battle between my love of cheese and my lactose intolerance. On a particularly toot-filled afternoon I declared, "Aren't I a Farty Isabelle?". As soon as it came out of my mouth I knew I wanted this to take-off.

I have tried inventing language in the past with little success. Back in grade school I tried to invent something that could be said when someone has a coughing fit. Sneezers get a "God bless you" or "Gesundheit!" while the poor person hacking their lungs out gets a tepid, "you okay" or "you should drink something" while wiping away cough-tears. From this, "Kopstoffing" was born. I though it was genius, taking the first letters of "stop" and "coughing" and switching them. It sounded quasi-German and I felt it filled a very needed niche in most people's vocabulary; but alas, the needed support from my friend base (who incidentally suck) was lacking, and so much like my ability to feel compassion, it faded away.

I want "Farty Isabelle" to succeed if only because the idea of someone named Isabelle looking regal and letting one rip gives me a chuckle. In fact, I encourage everyone to make up their own. It's easy: take an adjective, pick a name that works well with it and use it as frequently and inappropriately as possible. Every personality trait should have a namesake from Surly Sandra to Socially Awkward Anna. Share them, trade them like pogs and drop them whenever you can. Do it for me, do it for fun, do it for "Kopstoffing" and all that lost potential.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Addiction & Revulsion

I watch an obscene amount of television. I can try to deny it but the fact I have gotten into the habit of watching 2 shows at once and watching a previously recorded show when they are both in commercials speaks for itself. Instead of reeling in shame at my TV addiction and utter lack of a normal social life, I am embracing it. I watch shitloads of television, and I love it. I love TV more than movies, more than reading and more than you. That's right I said it. Things have been strained between us lately so don't act like you didn't see this coming.

I used to avoid shows I haven't watched from the beginning. Since I missed the boat on 24, Alias and Prison Break I wouldn't give them a chance. Not so anymore as I have recently added Grey's Anatomy, What I Like About You and My Name is Earl into the ole viewing schedule.
I also used to avoid shows I knew would be cancelled due to their utter awfulness and would be utterly heartbroken if something I loved was cancelled: (Birds of Prey we hardly knew ye). That too is a thing of the past as I am one of only 7 people alive who watches Out of Practice. The writing is usually terrible and the characters are completely one-dimensional but every so often they hit it out of the park, like when Oliver sees his newly-single brother buy a comic book and remarks: "If a girl sees that on your coffee table you might as well lay out a copy of Cat Fancy magazine and a bloody clown suit". This for reasons beyond my understanding sent me into hysterics.

On a side note, I would like to add a category to the previous Clio Awards post: Most Creepy. Have you seen the one where a mom is driving her daughter somewhere and the daughter asks her if she is still seeing some guy, to which the mom says yes. The daughter then asks her, "How is he?". The mom innocently enough says he's doing well or something and then the daughter says, "No mom, How is he?". The mom realizes the daughter (who looks 16) is talking about sex and they have a good chuckle, driving off in their new corrola, or camry or volkswagen or whatever car is trying to appeal to the "new family", I couldn't really tell since I was way too skeeved out to notice. What the fuck? Who asks their mom how her sex life is going? Yeah they giggle and drive off, but in real life what is she supposed to say? Oh yeah, for sure. Seriously, his tongue is like a cake mixer. I swear honey no one including your father has ever made me cum that hard". You're 16 you perv! Go play with your Rainbow Brite or put up some JTT posters or something.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Robotic, Robotic, Put Your Hands All Over My Body

I don't know why i was thinking about it but I was pondering the future and the wonders and horrors of technology that await us. I was thinking of Artificial Inteligence and how one day robots will be as commonplace as refrigerators or cars. If science fiction has taught us anything it is that the age of rocketpacks and the colonization of Uranus are just around the bend. Another thing science fiction has taught us is that once the more crude models are out of the way robots will grow to serve their one primary function--to sex up the fleshies.

From Austin Powers to Serenity, to the Outer Limits to A.I., we can count on the fact that decades of research and ingenuity will eventually create a robot so advanced it will be able to help mankind in ways previously unimagined; not by combatting disease or working the dangerous jobs no living person should do, but by serving us a mojito before our regular 4 p.m. handjob or taking the form of a certain someone who walks by your desk exactly twice a day somehow looking sexier each time especially when they wore that white top that was tighter than it should have been for "business casual". We can lie to ourselves and say it's not a priority--that the study and advancement of robotics has a more relevant purpose but I'd like to state for the record here in 2005 that I saw it coming.

Think of it this way, you're a socially inept nerd incapable of normal human interaction. You spend most of your young life toiling away in mechanical engineering and computer science. After years of research and experimentation you realize you can create a robot that can sort and condense thousands of tons of garbage, a robot that can withstand extreme heat, cold, depth and radiation. or a robot that answers your front door in nothing but a sports jersey (applies to all sexes and sexualities) with a roast in the oven and a program that sees you not as the chunky social malcontent with patches of itchy skin that you are, but the primary target of sex functions 1 through 788 that they've been programmed to perform. Which of these three robots do you think will get the most attention?

I for one welcome this bold new future with open arms and an open zipper.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Clio Awards

I used to love the Clio Awards when they were on TV. To this day it's still the only awards show I have ever sat through completely. I loved seeing the commercials from around the world usually too racy or confusing for a North American audience. It's all well and good to recognize excellence in music, film and television but a good commercial will stay with you forever: "Back Off! Get Your Own Sandwich" has become this generation's "Where's the Beef?" Seriously, ask around--everyone remembers that commercial. I thought I would recognize achievement in today's commercials in the categories of most touching, scary, cute, and funny:

Sick Kids Hospital

The commercial where everyone from patients to lab technicians to doctors sing an oddly sad sounding version of "Lean on Me". The end clip is a little girl singing the final words of the song, "somebody to lean on" before someone applies a gas mask and she closes her eyes...and then the slogan, "They Need Us, and We Need You". How can you not want to give? If I wasn't in training to become a hateful old miser I would cash out my bank accounts and whore myself for any spare change I could donate. *sniff* little troopers *sniff*

Dairy Farmers of Canada

First it was the "Want Milk" rap video which was strange enough but then comes the new one where these 2 parents are re-decorating their son's bedroom and throwing out all his shit. Next scene he's eating dinner with them and complimenting them on his new decor. Then out of nowhere this crazy old lady bangs on the window with her crutch and in the most shrill aged voice possible she angrily exclaims, "Want your kids to move out, stop cooking with cheese!" What the fuck? I'm all for randomness but this is just odd and the suddenness of her appearance and the fact she's watching them through the window really freaked me out the first time I watched this commercial. Am I alone on this? Plus she reminds me of this sick woman I had to sit with every time I went to the orthodontist...long story.

Robin Hood Flour

I don't know if it's CGI or stop motion or what, but that commercial where the little boy is making muffins with his sister and at the end he fumbles the one in his hand and it falls on the floor making his lip quiver and eyes well up. Cue the audience: "awwwwww". I certainly don't want to buy flour after watching this commercial but I do feel like eating muffins, or a wedding cake or a bacon mushroom melt...

Sexual Health

For some reason not many people have caught this commercial. Soft music, soft lights; The narrator is overseeing a romantic scene of a woman giving a present to a man; the background fades and the furniture changes as do the man's clothes and now he is giving the same present to a new woman. We're thinking, wow what a lame ass recycling an ex's gift and the narrator tells us "after being intimate with a partner you may inadvertently be passing something on to your next partner". She opens the gift and it's a big perfume bottle labeled, Genital Herpes. I swear to god I shit myself laughing when I first saw this commercial. It wasn't just the surprise of what was in the box but the second woman's face--it's frickin' priceless. It's this classic mix of confusion and disappointment more suited to the guy who gets you socks then the one who gives you vaginal sores.

The one thing I can say to food commercial writers is try and make the food desirable. Remember the Pizza Pops commercials where a pizza pop would explode and someone would invariably end up licking the remains off of a window or the floor or a dog's ass. How is this appetizing? The same can be said about a radio commercial I heard for Harvey's just recently where the announcer is talking about a juicy angus burger and proceeds to eat one and talk with his mouth full while he is chewing. I swear I got physically nauseous. What kind of ad for food tries to make you nauseous!? You don't need Paris Hilton masturbating at a car wash or Eva Longoria....um...masturbating with a pepsi, just make the food tasty, and when in doubt dip it in chocolate, cover it in cheese or wrap it in bacon. I challenge you to think of something that can't be made better that way.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Know Your Limit, Fly Above It

This may as well be a portrait of me Saturday night slash Sunday morning instead of an Anne Geddes picture gone horribly awry. That is to say it would be a picture of me if I was Asian...and an infant...in a bumblebee costume. My memories of that night are pretty hazy so I may very well have been in a bee outfit, I mean I bought it for a reason right? Why not show it off at the clubs?

After bouncing between going out and not going out at least 6 or 7 times (no exaggeration), Crystal, Sean, Jay and myself got our asses downtown for a night of debauchery and alcohol-fuelled mood swings. We met up with Louroz who introduced us to his friends who were pretty much fitness models born to make me feel as unattractive as humanly possible. Not that they did it on purpose because they appeared to be one of those freakish anomalies--really attractive people who are genuinely nice too. The kicker was that they were together for almost 4 years. Be good looking, be nice, but at least have the decency to be a slutty wreck incapable of holding down a relationship between latenight tricks and alleyway coke binges. The fact we were with Mr. and Mr. Smith combined with the fact I cannot dance if my veins aren't coursing with tequila meant I started drinking right away. Jay had all of two shots before he was high as a kite. I of course was green with envy that he got drunk so fast; enter the sambuca portion of the evening. This game of catchup inevitably caught up with me and I don't remember anything in the latter part of the night.

Except puking. I remember being in Crystal's car and filling one of those HMV bags pretty much to capacity.....and then filling another one. I was such a mess and the only two thoughts in my head were "I'm so embarrassed" and "That smell in Earl's car was definitely puke". The feeling of embarrassment was compounded when I realized I had missed the bag slightly on one occasion and a bit had landed in Crystal's car. Correction: a bit had landed in Crystal's Mom's car. With multiple mea culpas and a sense of shame similar to a virgin's after prom night, I stumbled home.

My mom says she heard me come in around 4. The thing is when I looked at my phone it said it was 6:30. It didn't dawn on me until the next day but I must have passed out in the laundry room while getting my pajamas--perhaps on the floor, perhaps nestled between the washer and dryer, I guess I'll never know. There was no way I was going to sleep without harfing out that last bit of booze so in the washroom I did my best to coax it to the surface. It is then I realized I have a very temperamental gag reflex. When I am brushing my tongue or the doctor puts a depressor in my mouth I am always ready to heave, but when I am hunched over my bathroom sink with my fingers so far down my throat I can feel my heart beat, I get nothing--go figure.

I fell into a deep slumber awoken around noon by an insatiable need for orange pop. And so I drank said orange pop, immediately threw said orange pop back up, lamented my existence, openly wept over the toilet, then headed back to bed. I was awoken at 6:00 p.m. by a phone call. 6 in the frickin' evening! Good thing, as my parents came home at around 6:20 and were curious as to why I was still in pajamas. My mom being the Nancy Drew she is figured it all out right away. My dad who absolutely abhors drunks was not pleased to say the least, and so at 7:00 p.m. I started on my chores that had been neglected through my day of sleep. I scrubbed harder and cleaned more thoroughly than I ever have. A potent mix of Portuguese and Catholic guilt, I was high on humiliation and chemically dependent on Clorox, Vim and Windex to wipe it all away.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Degrassi Then & Now

The clothes may be more modern and the cast may be a helluva lot more attractive (remember Claude--he was like a dorkier, even uglier Kevin Federline with a small ponytail; I was kinda glad the character killed himself--sometimes suicide may be the way) but Degrassi of old and Degrassi next generation are remarkably similar. Social issues are once again addressed: abortion, rape, drugs, etc. Even the adult cast is the same: Spike, Joey Jeremiah, Mr. Radditch. The parallels are quite funny as most old cast members seem to have modern equivalents: Wheels and his bad-boy streak is modernized by Spinner...hey I just realized, Wheels/Spinner, coincidence? BLT and Jimmy, the athletic black dudes with very little storyline. Stephanie Kaye and Paige getting wasted and being tragic.

The similarities are all over the place. The funny part is Beverly Hills 90210 was supposed to be the American version of the show, hence those "very special" episodes. But I'd take being the daughter of a rich slutty cokehead in Belair over the son of a poor drunken Zellers employee in the Dufferin Mall area any day.

Aside from being much prettier the main difference in the two Degrassis is the endings. Modern Degrassi usually ends with an obvious lesson, like it doesn't trust the audience to get to the moral by itself. Old Degrassi was awesome in that the episode ended on such a random note. You absolutely never saw it coming. Heather (or was it Erica?) has an abortion and is back home dealing with the aftermath of her choice. Her mom walks into the room and asks "Honey, did you want to go for Mexican tonight?" Erica (or was it Heather?) looks sad and concerned....and freeze, roll credits. That's how it should be done. Just like life; random and mundane.

My favourite TV debates revolve around who was the most tragic character. People inevitably choose Wheels (parents died, car accident, etc.) or Kathleen (boyfriend smacked her around) or Caitlin (she had hilariously bad-acted seizures and had her BF blew his brains out) but no one got the shitstorm worse than...

This girl just had a non-stop streak of bad luck. Molested by her teacher, not taken seriously by her peers for the masterpiece It Creeps!, arrested for shoplifting, neglected by her mother, her best friend dies--what hasn't this girl endured. Her hair alone was a tragedy worth mentioning and in the Degrassi movie which is supposed to be a farewell to the characters, she is in the car accident with drunken asshole Wheels and manages to go blind as a result. (Though it should be noted she has resurfaced in the new Degrassi with full vision) All a dream syndrome?

And to be the new Lucy the Degrassi 2 has given us...

Following in Lucy's footsteps Manny has managed to get an abortion, be labeled the school slut, have a video of her flashing her boobs sent to everyone at Degrassi, get kicked out of her house and more. Like it wasn't hard enough being the Spanish daughter of clearly Filipino actors, one of which looks maybe 6 or 7 years older than her. Though Manny has stiff competition from date-raped Paige, crippled in a gun-fight Jimmy and I cut myself cuz my mom drinks Ellie, I think an arrest or possibly a meth addiction will put her right over the top.
I'm rootin' for ya!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Chocolate Existentialism

Today was just one of those days where you step back, take into account everything you are and think, "Good God, I have wasted my life". I have friends who are teaching overseas, starting companies--hell, starting families and here I am stuck in neutral. I always talk myself down from these ledges of self-deprication but today it was just a little bit harder. My usual cliche parade in the vein of "Not everyone can be in the parade Jamie, some of us have to applaud as it makes its way down the road" wasn't enough. Even the guilt-trip of "You have a job, a roof over your head, family, friends..etc. so what are you bitching about?" wasn't cutting it. Because in the end life has turned out to be the test I tell everyone I think I failed.

When asked how I did after an exam, or how well I think I did on a paper I would always respond with a false sense of self-degredation. Even if I thought I rocked the shit out of a comparative essay and my Prof would be a fool to give me anything but an A, I would always use words like "okay" or "rush-job" or "thrown together" so if the results were not what I'd hoped I could always claim I saw it coming, even if inside I was terribly dissapointed. Life, or how I saw life today, was that paper coming back with a "Low D - see me after class". Because regardless of how much I feigned not caring or not really being engaged in it, it hurts to be told what you have created isn't particularly special, and today I realized that in many ways, I am not special, and that realization can be very saddening.

I wallowed in my pity party for one for most of the day until I bought a "Cadbury Fruit & Nut" on my break. I have been told it is old man chocolate and Earl mocks me every time I buy it but today it made things seem better somehow. It could have been the endorphins released by all that wonderful caffeine or the fact I mentally equate chocolate with childhood but by the time I had finished things didn't seem as bad: I work with people I really like. I can always rely on friends to make fun of me for loving old man snacks. I am healthy; albeit a bit on the chunky side, but healthy none-the-less. I have a whole bunch of years ahead of me, and in them I can see the world, I can go furniture shopping, I can be in a pie-eating contest, go scuba-diving, sleep-in on countless Sundays, meet new people, eat more chocolate. Life ain't so bad. I may not be doing anything all that special, but my collection of everyday stuff is pretty good so far. It's not like we can all be in the parade, some of us have to applaud as it makes its way down the road.