Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Beyond funny




This may be the funniest person alive. Wait! Don't click the link unprepared. You will laugh til you cry uncontrollably and your throat burns out. Have a box - nay - two boxes of kleenex handy and a stack of Halls lozenges. Oh - and it would help if you tie yourself to the chair.

Are you ready? Are you sure you're ready for this? Here we go...

Letter to Tim Hortons

I'm mailing the following letter today:

Steve Endrich
247 Queen St S #7
Streetsville, ON L5M 1L7

Tim Hortons Head Office
Corporate Affairs Dept
874 Sinclair Road
Oakville, ON L6K 2Y1

Dear Sir or Madam:

As an infrequent TV viewer I'm somewhat familiar with your line of TV commercials bearing the slogan 'Every cup tells a story'. I especially like the one where the immigrant reveals to his son the 40-year-old secret that he has covertly followed his hockey pursuits by displaying a portion of his son's team photo while they’re sitting in the stands at grandson Tommy's hockey game.

"You play wight ring," he says.

Excellent! Very touching.

I would like to share with you another story of one of your cups that you may not be aware of. It too is very touching, you'll surely agree.

'Brian' and 'Debbie' became acquainted on a telephone chat line and then met in person - for the first time - at one of your restaurants. Brian bought Debbie a double-double. She blew him in your parking lot. Years later they are still together, married and living in the Thunder Bay area.

I assure you this is a true story. I think this would make an excellent commercial that would really resonate with TV viewers.

If you would like to pursue this project I am available to share more details or for any other consultation. I do not require financial compensation.

Steve Endrich

I'll let you know if I get a reply.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Conan the Saleswoman

I feel dirty. I think I’ve been molested.

She was young and sexy and somewhat voluptuous. She mastered the lead wagon of the vendor wagon train that lay woven through the main thoroughfare of the shopping mall. Her cart was filled with a single product - a kit of some sort containing three items of the feminine cosmetic/skin care realm.

I drifted too close to this Salesmobile of Doom and she stepped right in front of me, halting me at once. She stared right through me with haunting terrible eyes.

“Do you ‘ave a girrrlfriend?” she asked. Her voice dripped with a syrupy European accent. Parisian French maybe? She sounded like the guy from the Alberto hair product commercials of my childhood. Alberrrrrlto…

“Um. Not exactly.” I sensed at once I’d stumbled into a pit of snakes and high-pressure salespersons.

“No? Zomeone zpecial?”

“Well. Something like that. It’s very secret though – and dirty!” I widened my eyes and bobbled my head just slightly, half hoping she’d think me crazy and let me go. Instead she changed the approach.

“What about your muhzzare?”

“My mother? What about her?”

“You are shopping for ‘er present. No?”

“Well – I have something in mind already.”

“I ‘ave what she want. ‘old out your ‘and.” I turned up my palm. She tipped a sleek white plastic bottle over it and dumped a mound of cream onto me. I stared at it stupidly. “Go on. Rub it in.” I did so. God, there was a lot. I spread it over both palms and after much rubbing I still glistened. Later that night I would watch a movie and idly wonder why the popcorn tasted like hand lotion.

“I need one finger,” she said, taking my right hand and turning it palm down. She took firm hold of my forefinger, brandished a white block about the size of a spice jar and began stroking it vigorously back and forth across my fingernail.

This went on for quite some time. Frankly it was becoming a tad painful.

“You know – I think you’re rubbing away some skin there while you’re at it.”

“No-no.” She continued to sandpaper me and make small-talk.

“Um – excuse me but I’m in some discomfort here-”

“You won’ believe the rezult when I am done. You’ll be amazed.”

“Yeah, um – is that blood?”

“She’ll only ‘ave to use this once every tree month or so.”

“Is that how long it takes for the finger to grow back?”

“I’ve zold so many of these today. Everybody love them, you know.”

My mind drifted back, summoning the survival lessons learned from my mom when I was four or five years old. I tried to slot this experience into the lesson scenarios. ‘Is this where I punch the bully in the nose and then run away? Or is this where I kick her in the crotch and run away?’

The buffing mercifully stopped at last. She put down the sanding block while simultaneously covering up the target finger with her other hand.

“Now,” she said, “Before I reveal this to you, you must promise to remain calm. You will be amazed. You will wan’ to jump up an’ down an’ zcream – you will be so exzited.”

“I’ll restrain myself,” I muttered.

“Voila!” She took her hand away. My one fingernail positively gleamed. It stood out from the rest like a sore – finger. “Well? What do you zay?” She produced the third item – a smaller clear plastic bottle – and spilled a drop of clear liquid onto the nail.

“It’s very shiny,” I said without emotion.

“Incredible. No?”

“If you say so.”

“So ‘ow much would this cost, do you think?”

“I have no idea.”

“What would you zay if I told you it cost only thirty nine dollar?”

“Mm. Well, thanks for the demonstration.”

“So ‘ow many would you like?”

“I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks.”

“Wait! Wait! Look ‘ow many I ‘ave zold today! Look at all these bills of zale! Everybody love them!”

“Wow, that’s a lot. Good for you.”

“Wait! Come back! I ‘ave more to show you!”

“Thanks again!” I waved without turning back – flashing the back of my hand. The one nail positively sparkling. It glowed like the grail-shaped beacon.

‘Great. Now Sir Galahad will be after me. He’ll chop my finger off to get it…’


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Movie: Apocalypto

To all the moral superiors out there who suggest we boycott this movie in order to punish Mel Gibson for his (albeit idiotic) comments I must point out that this is not a one-man stage show but the collective work of hundreds of actors/technicians/creators. And I ask – is it more important to punish one individual than to leave hundreds of innocents unpunished? It’s for the sake of those innocents that I paid to see Apocalypto.

And to those who cry ‘historical inaccuracy,’ I would certainly cry with you if only this were a documentary. Instead I will gently point out that this is fiction and that all fiction must inevitably offend some man or creature in some way though only in the strictest sense. Every story depicting a Doberman as a vicious guard dog would enrage me were I simple-minded enough.

‘Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story,’ is Richard Ingram’s famous dictum and to disagree is to declare enmity on all artists everywhere.

While the setting is almost surely Mayan, based on appearances alone and while certain activities fail to flatter, I will furthermore suggest that no history of Mayan behaviour is guaranteed accurate. In fact – the native guides at Mayan sites will confess that much of their dissertations are invented. I know. I was in Chichen Itza and I asked.

As for the story: It captures your attention early and doesn’t let go. A very nicely assembled thrill-ride. It is endlessly violent though rarely gratuitously so. It’s full of tension and emotion and there’s a plethora of very convincing acting to sell it all.

Unfortunately the climactic sequences are almost precisely a splicing of First Blood and Lord of the Flies.

Nevertheless I must insist that if you can stomache the violence – you must see it. It’s different enough that you owe it to yourself. But see it in the theatre while it’s still there. The landscape is key at times and demands the big screen.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Movie: Badder Santa

This is just the original Bad Santa with Billy Bob Thornton but with more of the swearing left in. We’re talking a whole lotta swearing here. The shock value alone – of Christmas’s Saintly hero engaging in all the moral vices – drinking, smoking, swearing, stealing and fornicating – all in copious volume – is darn funny in my humble opinion. And that’s really all the film has to offer.

Surprisingly though – it remains funny for almost an hour and by then we’re rushing toward the rather predictable climax, making the whole ordeal quite survivable.

The theme is redemption of course – for the Santa and for the awkward twerp of a kid that he ‘befriends’ in a purely exploitive manner.

Under the philosophy that any comedy that makes you laugh is a successful comedy – this film is a success. I’ll go so far as to call it a Christmas classic right alongside Bill Murray and Scrooged. Watch it annually at the end of your holiday movie binge – just when you’ve about had enough of all your favorite drippy heartwarming classics for the year.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Movie: Aeon Flux

Oh dear. We’d best keep this short. I rented it by mistake, thinking it to be the movie for which the trailers promised some kind of epic sci-fi fantasy story where the dialogue was sparse but the scenery grand. Most unfortunately I still have not figured out what that intended movie is called or where I can find it. Perhaps it’s yet to be released. I’m tempted to suspect Apocalypto but I really don’t think that’s it. I seem to recall images of a society more other-worldly and warfare more complex. If anyone has an idea I’d be terribly grateful!

As for Aeon Flux: It had all the depth and sophistication of an early TV Star Trek episode, with marginally better graphics but that same problem where the story suggests massive surroundings but the environment feels like somebody’s basement or at best – the interior of a warehouse.

This is some grand subject matter done on the cheap.

You see it in much of the stunts – done with neither acrobatics or CGI but with bursts of macro filming – an arm in motion – a body jerking on the ground as though he’d just landed there.

You see it in the casting. It’s like they slotted 42 roles from the first 45 John Smiths that tried out. The villains – far from looking the slightest bit villainish – looked like your next door neighbors. The ones with two kids, a mini-van and twelve years left on their mortgage.

Big yawns. Do miss this one.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Movie: Little Miss Sunshine

Something about the trailers suggested this was a simple honest flick with some good laughs and maybe even – just maybe – a little dose of a rare something I like to call… character development. And indeed these qualities came to be.

Boy – I like to harp on character development don’t I? Do I seem to judge films by literary standards? You may have a point there but can you blame me? I suggest that there are common core elements to all forms of storytelling and character development is chief among them. Why?

While no single element is necessarily essential in making a story worthwhile, I say the ideal story uses strong developed characters to reveal the creator’s insight into human nature. This, I feel, lies very close the core purpose of art. To trade perspectives on humanity. How else may we begin to understand it? And what more critical pursuit is there in life than to discover who we are – if, as I do – you believe that the human being is the most miraculous of entities in the known universe yet one of the least understood?

Will Little Miss Sunshine unlock the secrets of humanity? Of course not. Not on its own. But for those of us out there collecting the millions of clues - there are a couple here. The characters are over the top, granted, but still fall in the realm of the plausible – as do the plot elements.

This movie is a breath of fresh air. It’s solidly funny and entertaining from start to finish without resorting to the inane slapstick or supernatural action sequences that pollute the majority of mainstream American movies.

The heroes are plenty and are all loveable. Empathy abounds. There’s a clear message to this film and granted, it’s a tired old one. But it’s a valuable one – especially to young people – and can surely stand to be repeated now and then.

Had I watched the movie with the intention to critique it later – I would probably have stored up a lot of criticisms for later regurgitation. Luckily I don’t operate that way. Only after the fact might it occur to me to blog a movie. And I suspect this may bear relevance to the fatal flaw of movie critics. By watching a film with analytical intentions one seizes on an apparent flaw before finding out whether it mattered or not.

If you like to laugh and love and feel good – this film will do it for you. I think that’s enough of what matters to make it worthwhile. Go out of your way to watch it.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Get yer pop-culture trinketry here!

Okay. The last thing I want for this site is for it to be reduced to an index for pop-culture trinketry but these are too good not to pass along.

No Christmas is complete without a gander at these two sites: : Better than any e-card. Put your own email address in the To field and then forward to a list of recipients. Better yet - Use a photo of a friend and send to that friend... : Use your imagination. Make Santa do anything you want!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Strange Journey - a poem

Five days ago
In this very village
I met a most unusual man
And likewise, he claims, did he.

Plain were peace and disinterest settled upon his face
And old was the weariness that scarred unhealing eyes.

He spoke of things strange beyond strange.
Things inconceivable and ungraspable.
But he spoke too of lonesome truths.
Those same long haunting my head,
Having never passed my ears or lips
Until that day.

I begged him, teach me more.

But I have taught you nothing, said the man
And I cannot do so.
For nothing real can be learned in the telling.
Only you can teach yourself.
I can do just this for you.
I can help you silence all this noise
So you may hear the voice within.
For that is my task.

But I can not teach myself, said I.
For I already know what I already know.

But you can, said he.
Waves of knowledge rush upon you every moment.
But so terrible and colossal are these waves,
That they crash undetected
And ravage you unseen.
And they extol a terrible price
While not a thing is learned from them.

But those like us who face the empty page
Day after day in search of truth,
As they exhaust themselves each day,
Leaving no poem unwritten,
No vision unpainted,
No melody yet composed,
They attain such a state
That they detect the waves
And they are appalled.

As will you be appalled, he cautioned me.
And you will be terrified.
For the learning
Is a horror.

I think I shall not be terrified, said I.
For I have heard voices before
And I was not afraid.

So we shall see, he said.

Four days ago we embarked on a journey,
The same course he had taken before, alone.

We came upon a Spanish town
And a funeral.
Men were gathered, downward bent,
Stroking their mustachios while unseen above,
Angels soared in the torchlight.
And upon high their Savior presided,
His white robes flowing seamlessly into clouds.
And in those folds and wisps and swirls,
Small cherubs gathered like fruits in bunches,
Like petals of flowers.

The Count, his body clad in exquisite armour,
Was cast into to the earth, only to fall,
Unseen by the revelers,
Into the gentle hands of saints,
Who hunkered in brilliant robes,
Each a fine tapestry on which images were sewn.
Depictions of their very own bloody martyrdom.
And on their faces peace and disinterest were plainly settled
And ancient was the weariness that scarred their unhealing eyes.

Three days ago we came to a hill
And on the hill two churches stood,
One, many times larger than the other.
Why an extra church, I asked.
Surely the larger alone would suffice for all,
So huge it is.

Ah but here, said the man,
There are separate followings.
For the devil too has his own church.

I was appalled.
Then we should strike it down, said I.
Look upon the structure
So small and weak.
We may break it.

Stay your hand, my friend replied.
For that is God's house there.
It is the devil has the larger congregation.

Two days ago we came upon a silent city
Crossed with vacant thoroughfares
And tall lifeless buildings.
A solitary man stood in the square.
Where are all your neighbors, I asked.

They all have vanished, he replied.
Now I toil at lonely tasks.
Now I hear only waves.
And on his face peace and disinterest were plainly settling.
And in his eyes the scar of weariness laid claim.

We bade him join us
And he came along.

Yesterday we three came to a bridge
That spanned a great hole in the Earth.
Strange it seemed that the road did not simply skirt the pit.
Less trouble that would be
Than building a bridge.
Instead there stood a long queue,
And on the bridge each traveller
Was searched head to foot.
Their pockets turned out
By a troop of white-robed guards,
Each without shoes but with great wings
Folded behind their backs.

Though no contraband was seemed to be found
On any one traveller upon the searching
They were each hurled into the pit, one by one.
None were allowed passage.

My two companions seemed not alarmed
By this circumstance and upon the searching
They were smiled upon and allowed to cross.
Upon my being scrutinized there was some suspicion
And some deliberation before I too was allowed to pass
And rejoin my gently smiling friends.
What were they searching for? I asked

For a single grain of truth, my mentor said.
Today they have found three
And will unlikely find more.

This morning we returned to my village
Or so I thought at first.
For it seemed like the place of my home
And the villagers seemed as my own neighbors.
But only for moments.
For I saw that the familiar houses were only facades
Erected before each foreign structure.
And I saw that the familiar faces were only masks
Worn by imposters.
This was some other village, disguised.
I became afraid.

What vile place is this, I begged.
That weaves such elaborate and yet so clumsy
A forgery, surely designed to ensnare?
Let us flee!

My friend, do you not recognize your home?

But this is not my home! I cried.
Don't you see?
This is a place of crude deception.
These structures and these people
They are not what they seem!
They all wear masks!

So they do, he said.
And I ask you again,
Do you not recognize your home?
For this is surely the place
And nothing here has changed since we departed.
But you have since heard the voice within
And you are finally learning to see.
And now you know the truth about some things.

Still not believing, I watched two men
Come together in conversation.
The first spoke a purposeful deception
About a thing he wrongly thought to exist.
And the other took him for his word
And spoke a further deception.

This place is a contrivance! I cried.
It is only layers of illusion upon layers of illusion.
This place is an absurdity!

So it is, he said.
As it always has been.

I was suddenly filled with a terrible mourning
For the world I'd fallen out of.
I knew at once, there could be no return.

I saw a woman go by with her baby held close.
She wore a mask, of course
But the child did not.

I took comfort in that.

Thank you friend, I said,
For taking me on this journey.
For though I shake with fear,
I am glad to know this truth.

Oh but the journey has not begun, he said.
For that was only a test
Which you have passed.
The journey lies still ahead
And if you choose it, I will go with you.
But be warned the task will occupy us many years.

Tell me this, friend, I asked,
What more is there to discover?

The most dreaded thing, he answered.
The thing that lies beneath the masks.

I trembled at this.
But I summoned courage
And I asked the question that frightened me most.

Do I wear a mask?

And he answered, yes, my friend,
You do.
And it is only slightly askew

But redemption awaits you
As it did for me.
And though the horror has only begun,
There is a place of joy for us,
A paradise to end the journey,
If we are faithful and adamant to this task.
This I know although you can not.

In five days, mentor,
Not a word of your tongue has eroded
And some instead have formed
A solid foundation beneath my feet

I say you can be relied upon.
So lead on, I say. Lead on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How I spent my bogus vacation

Oh dear. I hate to drag karma into it again but this does seem like a clear-cut case.

The new boss reminded me that according to official records I still had two vacation days to book before the end of the year.

"Use 'em or lose 'em," he said. "There's no carrying over to next year."

I was confident that all my vacation days were used up except for the mandatory three that are booked between Christmas and New Years (The office shuts down for a week over the holidays). But I could not come up with any records to prove it and New Boss recommended I just go ahead and take two more days and not worry about it. So I took his advice. I booked off Monday and Tuesday of this week - making for a nice (albeit dubious) little 4-day getaway.

And as luck (karma...) would have it - I became miserably sick for precisely four days.

To make a long story short - here's all the fun that was had:

1. Sneezed repeatedly.

2. Blew nose roughly 300 times - until it was red, raw and painful.

3. Snorted and swallowed two or three times when lacking required energy to drag sorry ass to the nearest box of kleenex tissues.

4. Laid around listlessly.

5. Skipped Headwaters Writers' Guild meeting, declining perfect opportunity to spread germs to many families.

6. Tried - almost entirely without success - to sleep.

7. Finally took up Steve-o's offer to try out his Playstation game system selecting a first-person-shooter game where I command a Navy Seal unit infiltrating an Albanian terrorist drug lab (yeah - okay). I thought I did pretty good too - knocking off eleven Albanian drug-running terrorists before accidentally blowing up myself and my unit - until my post-game performance review scored my attempt as unacceptable and suggested I stick to Pac-Man.

8. Kept movie/dinner date with Professor Plonk and Captain Vino despite warnings of my dire condition and advice that they back out (which they declined). Chalk up victims #1 and #2.

9. Kept dinner date with elicit sweetheart despite stern warnings of my dire condition and strong suggestion to back out. Further insisted that no kissing on the lips be engaged but couldn't possibly resist. Nothing trumps the care and protectiveness felt for the beloved except for - you know - rampant hormones. Chalk up victim #3.

10. Dusted entire lower level of apartment and cleaned both bathrooms top to bottom.

11. Used up an entire can of spot-remover on the dining room and hallway carpeting, greatly lessening the stain-factor left behind by the last tenants of this apartment - Jabba the Hutt and a large family of chain-smoking hydrophobic automotive mechanics and their chain-smoking pet pigs, I assume, by the state of cleanliness the place was left in.

12. Walked off said carpet and onto the ceramic kitchen floor with wet, slightly soapy bare feet which went flying out from under me.

13. Crashed into wine rack and freestanding cutting-board/shelf/implement-rack thingamajig stubbing toes and sending knives and barbecue utensils crashing to ground but miraculously not doing any permanent damage to anything. Definitely a bona fide Christmas miracle.

14. Sat on my ass on ceramic floor and fired off 78% of all known English language obscenities in one continuous breath and even promoted a few previously-considered innocent words to vulgar-status.

15. Had two breakfasts out. One at Bobby's Hideaway of Streetsville and one at Apple Annie's of Burlington where my order for decaf coffee could not be accommodated until my meal was almost finished and where said coffee was full of grounds and where said coffee was left untouched and removed from bill and where - I shall never return despite their very nice breakfast menu. Sorry but nobody fucks with my morning coffee and gets away with it (well - except for my Super Karma Man nemesis at the office).

16. Watched three more movies - two of them renters. Perhaps I'll post brief reviews. Of the limited feedback I've received regarding this blog I've learned that the movie reviews are appreciated and the poetry is not!

17. Wrote a rather lengthy dark and allegoric poem which perhaps I'll post here just to piss you off.

That's about it. I'm back at work today and - whaddaya know - feeling healthy again. Go figure.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

FWG's nugget o' wisdom #12

If life gives you water, sugar, glucose-fructose, citric acid, potasium sorbate, sodium hexametaphosphate and acacia gum - make lemonade.

This has been an original nugget o' wisdom from the brain of Fantasy Writer Guy. Do not use nuggets o' wisdom if you are pregnant or may be pregnant. Do not take orally.