Monthly Archives: September 2012

Things I Would Line Up For

So the iPhone 5 came out the other day.  A lot of people care about this.  I’m not among them, but I do find it interesting on a few levels.  People’s obsession with this device (and any other phone really) is definitely pushing us towards having a weird, socially awkward society of instant gratification.  If you are thinking about bringing a kid into this new world, there is a very real possibility that they will be able to play a video game, while texting, while operating a GPS, while listening to music before they even know how to tie their shoes.  Whether that’s good or bad depends on who you ask.  I guess loafers are available, and velcro could make a comeback.

Every time there is a new iPhone, there is always a big stir, and a bunch of fanatics who absolutely have to have this device the day it comes out.  The desire for this to happen is so strong that these people are willing to camp out overnight at the store to be one of the first to pick this up.  These are grown ups, not usually kids…… Grown Ups!!  People my age, and maybe a bit younger whose parents lined up for Cabbage Patch Dolls in the 80’s, or lined up for Tickle Me Elmo’s in the 90’s.  They’ve been taught that having something a few weeks earlier than someone else may in fact increase their ‘cool factor’, and is worth lining up for.  I disagree.  4-6 weeks from now, everyone who wants an iPhone 5 will have one, and you won’t be the cool guy at the water cooler anymore.  That’s a lot of money to be that guy for a couple of weeks.  I have a friend who ordered it online, and it was shipped, and arrived at her desk at work the day it was released to the public.  She was at her desk playing with the new iPhone while thousands of people had been lining up outside Apple stores for hours.  She was ‘water cooler cool’ without all the lining up.

The other thing about iPhones (or people really) that I don’t get is….. How can you get this excited about something that’s going to have a better version next year?  The iPhone has pretty much put out a better version just about every year since it came out, which begs the question, if it’s so easy to improve and is only relevant for a year, then why would I want one?  If a coffee maker came out, I bought it, and then a year later they redesigned it, I’d be pissed.  Why couldn’t they have designed it better last year, so they didn’t have to come out with a new one this year?  The reason is simple.  The public is stupid enough to keep buying newer versions.  Businesses now understand that (nobody better than Apple).  As long as we are too stupid to hold companies accountable for releasing newer versions of the same shit every year, they’ll keep doing it, and making billions in the process.  They’re following the same business model as College/University Textbook publishers have been doing for years.  If there is an all-encompassing Marketing text-book that is amazing, you can use it for Marketing 101 year after year.  If College/University students are smart (and they should be if they’re pursuing higher learning), then they will try to buy used text books for half the price.  How do you avoid this if you’re the publisher??  Change a few paragraphs, and re-release it as the 2nd edition.  Now a student can’t buy the 1st edition, even though there’s nothing wrong with it, because the class is using the 2nd edition.  More profit for the publishers, and struggling students get to struggle just a little bit more.  It’s how the world works.  If that makes you angry, so should the annual ‘new iPhone’.

Now, a little bit about my philosophy regarding lining up for things….. Your time is important because you are important.  You may not believe that, but you should.  When considering whether or not to enter a lineup, I always do a cost vs. reward analysis in my head.  Even if it’s fast food.  A shopping mall food court might be the best example.  If I have a craving for Burger King, but there’s a lineup, I have a lot to consider.  How long is the lineup?  What are my other food options?  How strong is this BK craving?  How important do I perceive my time to be?  10 minutes in line, strong craving, 5 minute lineup at crappier restaurants, lazy day off….yeah I’m getting BK.  20 minute lineup, busy day……I don’t need it, I’ll eat somewhere else.

Now I will take that formula and apply it to the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5 – 8 hour lineup starting in the middle of the night.  I currently have a working cell phone, I currently have a job and a busy life outside of that, other iPhones are probably available with no lineup.  iPhone 5 is probably available next month with no lineup.  My life could improve marginally if I got stuck in a lineup, because the iPhone 5 could entertain me better (IRONY!!!!).  Answer – NO, but answer could change with the variables.  Would maybe wait 30 minutes for this if my current phone had crapped out.

Here are some other things I may or may not wait for, and maximum wait times.

– To talk to a banker in person – 20 mins (and only if I thought it was a 10 minute wait, but they were running behind)

– To buy concert tickets – 45 mins (I have never lined up for concert tickets, but for a once in a lifetime concert, maybe….)

– Doctor’s Office – 1 hour (or more, depending on how sick I am, but no more than an hour for a physical.  That seems long, but I already invested time driving there, so I might be locked in)

– Restaurant – 15 mins (I’d have to really like the place, or be in a very remote area with no other restaurants around to even wait at all, but if the place had a bar where I could sit comfortably and have a drink, maybe 30 mins)

– I’m in a war-torn country and lining up is the only way to get food – I guess indefinitely but I’d be mad.

– To go on a ride at an amusement park – 30 mins (I’m terrified of heights, so I pull the ‘don’t like to wait’ card so I don’t have to tell people I’m afraid)

– I’m on deserted island, and the rescue boat had to make multiple trips…….OK this is getting dumb.  I’ll end the blog here.








My Top 20 ‘Do Not Play’ Song List for Weddings

There are a lot of people who are into technology and have calendared the launch date of the new Iphone.  People that can tell you about cars and all of the pros and cons of purchasing each model.  People that know about literature, and have a million books, and know which ones are being adapted into screenplays.  People that know the history of the British Royal Family and who all the important political figures are in all of the countries all over the world.  I don’t know about these things, but if we’re playing Trivial Pursuit, and the topic is music, you better hope I’m on your team.  I love music!  All kinds too.  I know as much about Hip Hop as I do about Rock and Roll, and most things in between.  If I don’t know I’m curious to find out.  I’m a sponge!  The question that comes up with family and friends is ‘can I get paid for such proficient use of that part of my brain?’  The answer would be ‘not to this point’.  If you don’t care about music, and we are in a ‘musical situation’ together, then I am annoying.  If you love music, and we are in a ‘musical situation’ together, then I am awesome, and so are you!

What’s a ‘musical situation’ you ask???  For me it’s every waking moment, but for most people it would be a concert, car ride, grocery store (they always have adult contemporary or 80s music playing….it’s the only reason I go), cleaning the home, and the most obvious ones which are going out to a bar/night club or for those that don’t go to those places, there’s a type of bar/night club that everyone goes to which I like to call a ‘wedding reception’.  Yes, once all the awkward speeches and kissing games are done, and the food is eaten, there is only one man who can bring home a good wedding, and that’s your wedding DJ.

In second place behind top 40 radio, the wedding DJ is the lowest common denominator of ‘musical situations’.  I don’t want to paint them all with the same brush, but time after time, wedding after wedding, they encourage me to paint them with the same brush.  They do this by having the same mediocre playlist of ‘safe’, reception appropriate, multi generation compatible music that every other wedding DJ has.  As a real music fan this sickens me.  It’s not because I think a wedding is the time for a DJ to pull out all the tricks and start ‘digging through the crates’ so to speak.  You do have an audience that has a huge range in age, so you kind of have to play to everybody, which can be a tricky proposition.  So what they’ve done over the years is found songs that work in those situations, and created a formula for success.  In any business, this makes perfect sense.  Being a wedding DJ definitely makes you a business person, but being a DJ SHOULD also make you an artist.  Art and business typically don’t mix very well, and only in the rarest of circumstances can an artist stay true to his/her art, and still make money.  The compromised product is often what works best.

While I’m understanding of their limitations and expectations, I would still like to see wedding DJs to take some chances.  Play some stuff that I didn’t hear a week ago at the last wedding I was at.  You’ll know if you’ve taken it too far, and you can always bring it back to what works, but there are thousands of songs out there that can work in these situations, yet I seem to only hear the same 30 or 40 over and over again.  As someone who loves music as much as I do, the repetition hurts my soul.

My wedding DJ did a pretty good job.  He came over to my condo and allowed me to lecture him on music for 4 hours (I’d gone to high school with him, so we caught up a bit too).  He was very patient with me.  He nodded like he was listening, and when my wedding day came, while I’m not sure he remembered everything I told him, he held his own up there, and kept the party going without really offending me in any way with his selections.  One of the things he did do, which I thought was pretty awesome, was asked me to make a list of 20 songs I had to hear, and 20 more for him to not play under any circumstances.  Now, I can’t remember if he played all 20 of the songs I wanted to hear or not, but he definitely didn’t play the ones that I didn’t want to hear, and that was even more important in a way.  I just didn’t want to hear the same generic songs that I hear at all the other weddings, so those made my list.

For your consideration, here are the 20 songs that I hate (but always end up) hearing at wedding receptions.  Some comments are included.  This is not necessarily in order of hatred, but rather which ones jumped into my head first.

1. Celebration by Kool & The Gang ( I get it….. we’re celebrating……I love Kool & The Gang too.  How about ‘Get Down On It’ or ‘Jungle Boogie’)

2. Holiday by Madonna (Madonna has 30 years of danceable hits….Why this one every time?)

3. Dancing Queen by Abba (Same comment as above but only 10 years)

4. Macarena by Los Del Rio (You will only hear this at weddings now…. hate songs with dances made up for them…. hate any form of line dancing)

5. Chicken Dance by Werner Thomas (Same comment as above)

6. Who Let the Dogs Out? by The Baha Men (They used to play the original version of this song at the clubs, and we liked it ok, but when the Baha Men re-did it, it became #3 on Rolling Stone Magazine “Most Annoying Songs Ever” poll.  So if you’re a wedding DJ, and this information is available to you, why would you keep playing it???  It’s horrible!!!! You’re horrible!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!)

7. Love Train by The O’ Jays (I actually love this song, but people tend to start a conga line when it comes on, and then they want to come around to every table, and there’s always some drunk member of the fun police that wants to get you up out of your seat to join the stupidity.  Fuck off and let me enjoy my beer and my social awkwardness!)

8. Conga by Miami Sound Machine (Same comment as above)

9. Mambo #5 by Lou Bega (I want to stab myself with my dessert fork every time I hear this )

10. Swing the Mood by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers (This is a lazy-ass DJ way to play a bunch of swing songs all at the same time in hopes that some of the older people will feel like he ‘played to them’, but if your DJ was a master mixer himself, then he wouldn’t need to resort to this bullshit.)

11. Follow Me by Aly Us (As far as classic house goes, this is a great song, but at a Filpino wedding, everyone on the dance floor starts doing the ‘bus stop’, and if you don’t know that dance, or don’t feel like line dancing, it’s a good time to grab a drink.)

12. YMCA by The Village People (Wedding DJs get off easy, b/c they play to the drunkest of crowds.  Who would tolerate this song if sober?)

13. TIE – Anything from the Grease Soundtrack (This just sucks the life out of me)

14. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson (I’ll take some Michael at a wedding, but not this one anymore)

15. Single Ladies by Beyonce (I wonder if it’s bouquet toss time?  I don’t really see any way of avoiding this one though)

16. We Are Family by Sister Sledge (You can celebrate with your family without this cue, thanks)

17. Le Freak by Chic (It sounds like I’m picking on Disco here, and I’m not really.  I’m merely picking on the lack of originality by wedding DJs.  A lot of these songs would be better if I didn’t hear them all the time.  I probably prefer this stuff to current pop music like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, but a lot of these Disco songs have been getting played out for the last 35 years.  If they are playing Lady Gaga at weddings 35 years from now, I’ll make a new list)

18. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler (I figured I’d include a few of the slow songs that drive me nuts.  This one is almost always the father/daughter dance.  I don’t want to sound un-sentimental (if that’s a word), but I can’t take any more of this song.)

19. TIE Anything by Shania Twain or Celine Dion (As a proud Canadian it disappoints me to do this, but no more please)

20. Baby Got Back by Sir-Mix-A-Lot (Oh my god Becky, look at her butt)

Maybe I’ve missed some!!  Do you have a played out wedding reception song that makes you shoot poisonous glare darts toward an unsuspecting, ‘mailing it in’ Wedding DJ???  I’d love to hear them!


Celebrity Watching (Stalking) and Why I Don’t Approve!

It’s that time of year when the city of Toronto becomes a hotbed of rubbernecking activity.  Yes, the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF (I’m sorry…. I should have included this in the BAN ACRONYMS blog, but isn’t that another word for a pissy little argument?) is happening, and there’s a lot of movie celebs in town for it.  In no order of preference, and just to name a few, but Tom Hanks, Keifer Sutherland, Elton John, Susan Sarandon, Kate Hudson, Will Smith (didn’t he have a tiff with someone at the last festival he went to?), Will Smith’s entire family, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Linda Evangelista (scroll to the bottom paragraph for my Linda Evangelista story), and of course Pierce Brosnan (or Remington Steele as I like to call him, or a way less cool James Bond than he could have been if he did it 10 years earlier).  Oh yeah, if you’re a celebrity watcher, then this would be heaven for you.

Now let me put my hater hat on for just a second (who am I kidding, it was already on).  I’m going to let the Festival itself off the hook.  I’m glad Toronto is hosting it.  They do a lot of charitable stuff.  It’s good for the city.  I’m also going to let the celebs off the hook.  They’re here on business.  They’re probably spending good money (or getting comped) at our hotels and restaurants.  This is part of their job that they may or may not like, but it’s in their contracts to be part of the promo machine for their movies.  I’m also going to let regular people off the hook who may be film buffs, or maybe just want to go out and experience something fun in the city.  Go see a new movie.  It’s great!  Enjoy the festival and behave yourself………….

Then there’s the people who go all the way down there hoping they may get a glimpse of a movie star.  In a (their) perfect world, maybe even a picture with them or an autograph.  Here’s my question though….. Then what???   So you line the street for 6 hours waiting for someone to walk around the corner with their entourage, and maybe you sneak in and (perfect storm scenario) get a picture and an autograph.  Then what????  You post it on Facebook I would imagine, and change your profile pic so people would know that for 15 seconds, you occupied the same air space as someone who did something with their lives.  Why don’t you do something with your lives???  Do you think these people got to where they are by lining up and looking for autographs, and stalking people??  No, they worked hard at doing something fabulous, and now they’re recognized for it.  Do you think that just because some dude smiled and put his arm around you in a picture, that he likes you??  It’s his job…..and you’re asking him to do it when he’s not punched in!!!  Do you think Santa Claus likes you because he lets you sit on his lap at the shopping mall????  He let’s you sit there because for 2 hours he’s getting paid to pretend he likes you.  Is that the photo that you want to cherish for the rest of your life?  As a sidenote, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t indulge kids that want to sit on Santa’s lap, but you’re an adult.

I’m petrified of being a celebrity.  I won’t do it.  I refuse to sit at a restaurant, and have strangers come up to me asking for pictures.  I don’t like talking to strangers.  That’s why I try not to get good at anything.  If this writing thing takes off, I will either use an alias, or give it up and start something else.  I’m afraid of you weirdos out there that want to live your lives trying to stand next to something or someone awesome.  It’s ridiculous!  Be awesome yourself!!  Be the one that people want to stand next to!!  Nobody will ever remember you for standing next to someone in a photo.

OK that’s enough….. Now for my Linda Evangelista story……..

This was around 97-98, and I used to head down to Thorold, Ontario because I had some people down there who were attending University.  I’d stay the weekend and we would go out to a bar or club on Saturday night to get drunk and party it up.  There was a place there called the Front 54 (which was a complete dive as I recall), and really not much else.  Thorold isn’t that big of a place.  (For those not from the area, it’s not too far from Niagara Falls).  One evening we went to the Front 54 (or the Dirty Front as some used to call it), because there was clearly nothing else of consequence going on.  I remember it used to have a sunken dance floor that was kind of figure 8 shaped.  One night when we were there, I remember being on the dance floor, and a bunch of people kind of getting moved around by some bouncers.  It was pushing last call, and I just assumed that people were getting into a bar fight….. because at 1 am at the Dirty Front……. that was generally a correct assumption.  So having my groove interrupted, I worked my way off the dance floor and out-of-the-way, only to see a guy and a girl dancing, surrounded by about 8 massive body guards.  There was a spot light shining on them, and the DJ over the loud speakers starts announcing ‘LINDA EVANGELISTA IS IN THE BUILDING……LINDA EVANGELISTA IS IN THE BUILDING!!!!!!’  Taking up HALF the dance floor, I don’t mind adding.  I wasn’t thrilled.  Who was she anyways???  A supermodel??  So??  They try on clothes for a living!!!  Who cares??  Everybody thought it was a big deal though.  Supermodels were pretty well-known in the 90s.  Must have been the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues.  She was one of the better ones.  I didn’t know this at the time, but she actually grew up in Thorold.  She must have been visiting the parents or something, and felt like going clubbing.  The Front 54 was happy to have her.  I’m sure they waived the $2 cover charge.  I would have thought it was a little bizarre to dance in a spotlight surrounded by bodyguards, and 500 people watching you, but who knows…..  It gave us plenty to talk about over our pizza slices later.

Subway Stories

I spend too much time taking public transit.  I waste a good percentage of my life people watching.  I figure between 6-9% of my days are devoted to this based on commute time divided by hours that I’m awake.  This may be a recurring theme in my blog.  Anybody that wants to write and is stuck for ideas needs to live in a big city and spend time on the bus or train.  Everybody has a story, and you can either be a friendly dude and ask people for it, or you can quietly make up their story based on physical appearance, mannerisms and other evidence.  I get a big kick out of speculating what a complete stranger might be spending the rest of their day doing, and what else might be going on in their lives outside of this bus ride.  That’s only when I’m bored!  Sometimes the things that are happening on my commute are so interesting, that I don’t even have time for these games.

The other day I saw the worst toupee I have ever seen in my entire life.  I can’t even call it the worst, because I’m always strangely happy to see a bad toupee, so I will call it the best toupee I’ve ever seen.  It was black, and it took up 90% of this guy’s head.  Let’s just call it a wig.  The problem was, you could see his white hair above his neck where the wig didn’t quite cover.  Just a racing stripe of white hair at the bottom, enough so it blew his cover, and there’s no way the rest of it could pass for real hair.  That was bad enough on its own, but this wig was not unlike what 70’s Elvis Presley’s hair looked like.  Then I got a better look at him, and I saw that his glasses were not unlike something Elvis may have worn around that time too.  I told someone this, and they said that maybe he was dressed up for some kind of festival or something, but that’s the thing…. he wasn’t.  From the neck down he looked like any other guy in his 60’s.  I would say if anything, his lack of flair for wardrobe combined with his Elvis theme from the neck up (mouth up really, because of the white stripe of real hair at the back) was startling.  I promise, this was not some special outfit.  This is how this guy looks and perceives himself.  I’m positive this man looked at himself in the mirror that morning, put that wig on and thought he was the King!!  He would have fit into my ‘Time Warp’ blog nicely a few months ago.  It’s funny what vanity will have you do.  Also ironic that the bad wig makes him look way more ridiculous than whatever he was trying to cover up with it.

Sometimes the subway train will stop for whatever reason.  For a long time.  I always think it’s a ‘jumper’, but I think there are various reasons including electrical problems, and construction that a train could get delayed.  That doesn’t make it any less annoying when it happens, combined with being underground and having no cell phone reception to call work and let them know.  If you’re like me, and you time your work commute so you arrive there 30 seconds before you start, then there’s not a huge margin for error.  I could work at fixing myself, but instead I think I’ll complain about the transit system.  I understand that these things happen, but my main annoyance is the announcements they make.  They mumble!  There’s absolutely no human being on earth or Krypton for that matter who can decipher these messages.  They’re important too, but all you see is a train full of people with that wincing ‘I can’t hear’ face.  If it isn’t the mumbling messenger, it’s the crappy speakers that can’t seem to handle the most basic function of capturing the human voice.  Now here’s the conspiracy theory.  I truly believe that they do it on purpose, and here’s why…….  They are obligated to make an announcement, or else the paying customers which are trapped on this vessel in the middle of an underground tunnel will freak out.  The problem is that sometimes if people knew the truth (there’s a fire… somebody’s dead…), they would freak out even more.  So what do you do??  You install crappy speakers and teach your employees to mumble important announcements.  I can just see them doing it on orientation day.  ‘OK, now everyone grab a partner and practice sending important messages that nobody could ever possible receive’.

On Saturday I was trying to get home from work, and quickly because I had an out-of-town wedding reception to attend.  I ran to the bus stop after work, and got there about 10 seconds ahead of the bus.  There were 2 other people already at the bus stop.  The bus driver did not pull over, but continued up the road.  We all looked at each other like ‘did that just happen?’  There was no ‘Out of Service’ sign up.  He just forgot to pull over.  Here’s the thing though.  There was a lot of traffic on the street, and he had to stop a little further up before the intersection.  So we ran up to the bus, and started tapping on the door so he would let us on.  This guy has the nerve to point out the bus stop up the street, and we were quick to point out that he hadn’t picked us up at the last one.  He started arguing with us through the door (so I couldn’t hear him that well), and tried to say there was nobody there.  Up until now I had been letting some girl handle the argument on our behalf, but then I kind of lost it, and pounded on the glass, and yelled a bit.  I’m not proud of it, but the guy was pissing me off.  Then he started yelling through the glass asking if I was going to cause him problems.  I responded by telling him that I wouldn’t as long as he opened the door.  Then this chick is like ‘I’m not causing problems, I don’t know him’ (referring to me).  Thanks Chick!!!  Perfect!!  Throw me under the bus (not literally)!!  So suddenly I’m Mr. Crazy???  Then this bus driver was saying ‘because I was thinking of pulling over but I don’t want any problems’.  So I calmly walked over to the curb.  He pulled over.  We got on the bus, and I showed him my bus pass, neither of us making eye contact, and I went to my seat feeling like the ‘unreasonable one’.  I didn’t wake up in the morning thinking I would intimidate a Bus Driver into taking me to the subway station.  I always thought that if I stood patiently at a bus stop, that he would just pick me up and there’d be no drama.  If he did his job properly, none of this would have happened, but that’s not really even why it happened.  It’s because he, like 75% of people out there can’t admit he made a mistake.  Why is that so hard for people?  I wouldn’t have been mad if he just opened the door after he realized he screwed up, but why does he have to start telling stories (like nobody was standing there)?  Just do your best, admit to your mistakes, and you will be forgiven.  I’ll never understand why people have to go through life with this ‘perfect record’ of never being wrong, even if it means they have to make things up to support it.  It’s dumb!