Archive for December, 2009

Twenty Ten

Posted on December 31st, 2009 8 Comments

There is is, the big oh-one. I’ll just dispense with the gushy anniversary right off the top. One year seems like a rite of passage, like a fraternity paddling or violent hazing. After this, I’ll have a little street cred; a little. But I like to think of this not as an end to a year so much as the beginning of the end to the next year.

(This picture is very big!)

christmas tree, nathan phillip's square, new year celebration, rogers, citytv, toronto, city, life

There was much I’d planned to do in 2009 and hope to get around doing this year. Some of it I’d foolishly planned in older blog posts. So be it. Brutal, in-your-facedness, delayed plans ‘n all. As Sam Spade so profoundly put it, “when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it!” He meant with the truth, of course.

But at least there’s always 2010. And 2011 after that. I’ll probably, eventually, sometime get around to doing everything on my list. In between I’ll stumble onto random stuff or maybe get all Prince-like and do something brooding and moody, the purple drain, when Dove makes me cry, so on. Bathroom commentary. And all still under the umbrella of life in the city of Toronto.  Haha! So’s that growth in my fridge. Still can’t believe no one had registered – totally blew my mind.

But nothing stands still. Unfortunately, the Flickr group has been quiet for a while and I only have so many photos to go around, so I’ve mothballed it. Not dead, just sleeping. Possibly terminally, who knows. I’ll try to keep it accessible until the end of days. Or until Flickr shuts it down. Whichever comes first.

In its stead I considered some ads from Google. Just … didn’t feel right. Icky. Plus, that’s no way to earn a living. So I’m back to the drawing board or the corporate sponsors really need get their asses in gear (respectfully looking your way, tasty beverage company Second Cup!)

For now though, I think I’ll just stick with the program. More photos, more writing, more stuff – and switch it up a bit in between. I’ve really been meaning to visit with my old undercover friend again; there are still plenty of locations to eat at / shoot up downtown. And I don’t remember restricting our clandestine meeting locations to breakfast joints. Though I do love a good greasy spoon :)

wendy's, restaurant, dundas street east, toronto, city, life

I also like the older bits of the city because they allow me to hearken back to earlier days, which I find amusing. Plus they look so antiquey, which I like.

Aside from these two subjects, I really will need to revisit the Toronto Blog All-Stars again. The “s” on the end implies that there’s more than one, so I kinda have to. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person with a blog in Toronto; just need find out where the others hang out and infiltrate their society. Secretly record our conversations. Then post them online in the form of an “interview”. All mostly not in many ways libelous.

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The bachelor lifestyle

Posted on December 30th, 2009 6 Comments

I was recently asked if I enjoy being a bachelor.

So far, my answer has to be hells … yeah.

Ask anyone who knows me, I’m definitely not phobic of long-term relationships, I think it’s just that I’m trying to recreate some of those televised dorm room shenanigans because of my own, contrary college experience. It was a community college, strikingly similar to the grouped-together rejects of the TV show Community, but with less of the dry, carefully crafted and craftily delivered humour rolling off Joel McHale’s tongue.

I was surrounded by forty-seven-year-old men who, back home, had been military jet technicians, architects, and — no kidding — bona fide brain surgeons. Often, they would correct the professor (or teacher for those who weren’t allowed to assume the title), much to everyone’s mutual amusement. (“Can’t believe I pay for this horseshit!! Why don’t I just hang around with Mr. Kim here?!”) Plus, our language and cultures often kept our relationships simply cordial. I mean, I was curious to learn about The East, but I found that I really didn’t like kimchi at all. That pretty much put an end to me trying any Korean beer. Plus, they each had families and worked 50 hours after school + studying just to be able to cover tuition (it’s a lot higher if you’re not Canadian), and sadly, yes, in the most prototypical downtown convenience stores one could imagine.

On the recognized work experience scale, I was roughly their supervisor’s supervisor. I could definitely fire their sorry asses. It was a strange dynamic, but at least I was in enough debt that we could share that misery equally (but usually them more than me). And cheating off them was a guaranteed success (a generous coffee a day gets you places! ;) ). But it was no Joel McHale making out with Gillian Jacobs, or Alison Brie. Or even Yvette Nicole Brown. (Even though you know that that last plot line will have to develop at some point. Only way to keep the show classy.)

Maybe I’m being unnecessarily sentimental. I should probably stop listening to those awful Chet Baker songs, especially this time of year.

Are you like me? Do you like to sit on the floor in a crumpled, sobbing heap, running through all the missed opportunities of your youth in your head, again and again? Right, exactly, neither do I. I mean, I’ve tried it a few times but I just can’t seem to get the rhythm of the comforting rocking motion down. And I just don’t see how it solves anything.

But old Chet and his awful good music remind us how cool it is to be a bachelor, especially this time of year.

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The repellent scent of man and other tidings of joy

Posted on December 29th, 2009 13 Comments

Last day of vacation; regret upon regret. I was supposed to do all sorts of things before the arbitrary tick of the annum clock (I’m very annal about some things). But I did manage to clean my place in time for the folks’ visit — I was up until the unholy hours, but I did it! And my parents expressed surprise that it wasn’t as dystopian and shelled-out as I had led them to believe.

In the process, incidentally, I had another break in the missing underwear case — possibly the break.

laundry, socks, underwear, margarine container, toronto, city, life

Two breaks, actually. Number one, my whities. So that’s one less to worry about. And a margarine container?


Okay, back story here. I had found similar containers, many caked with mud and (seemingly) dried saliva, in a variety of nooks and crannies around the place. Gotta tell ya, I didn’t remember absconding with any margarine containers from, really, anywhere recently. I don’t even eat margarine – I’m a real creamery butter kinda guy. So I was initially mystified as to how they had all ended up in my flat.

One day, while sitting on my couch watching something pleasantly dull, a black squirrel hopped onto the sill just behind the monitor — Ollie uses that window to get out onto the overhang and lord over his domain one storey below. I always kept the possibility of something getting into the flat at the back of my head. There are some overfed raccoons that like to hang around at the jumping-distance tree in the front yard. And the wires that hang from the street to the house make jumping mostly unnecessary for anything smaller. Not for Ollie – he’s too comfortable, but squirrels and chipmunks, no problem.

Whatever would get in, I thought, would likely ransack the kitchen for something to nibble on. There would be ample evidence that I’d finally been broken into by wildlife and that I was right not to trust them all along. Especially raccoons – they already look like criminals for God’s sake!

But when I spotted that squirrel on the sill, and what was that in it’s mouth? A margarine container?


The squirrel had been storing its margarine surreptitiously at my place for the winter – basically using it as a food cupboard. That, I had not expected. I’d also expected Ollie to be a little more vigilant with guarding the flat against invading rodents with chaseably bushy tails. But he literally picked up his head, glanced at the squirrel, gave me a glazed-over look, and dropped his head right back down to sleep. Ollie and old Blackie, it seems, are old buddies. What other explanation is there?

The squirrel leapt, almost imperceptibly, to the side table that holds my monitor, margarine container in full view. I thought that the act of standing up suddenly would be enough to spook the squirrel back out into the night. Nope. Little fucker stood there, didn’t even flinch. Just kinda side-glanced me like he was dissing me. I could’ve sworn I heard him kiss his teeth.

I took two steps forward – the full width of my living room – only then did the squirrel finally mosey back over to the sill. This was in late November, I knew I’d be keeping the windows closed for the next half decade-ish, so I was really more curious to look into the eyes of such an audacious creature than to try to scare it from entering again. Perhaps promise that I would eat its heart for courage if I ever caught it and killed it it in a death match or found its frozen carcass out in the snow – in true urban warrior spirit, and out of respect for its brave little soul.

I would cry a little when I ate that squirrel.

Luckily I don’t have to do that. The squirrel finally walked off and has only flitted by my window on rare occasions. I’m still finding the random margarine container wedged between the sofa cushions or stuck in behind the bookcase, but the mountain of rags reeking with the repellent scent of man is no longer available, and the window is closed now anyway. I saw the squirrel a couple of weeks ago as I was trying to squeeze open-window season to its limit – he eyed me from the sill, margarine container firmly in his grasp, but the fight will have to wait until spring – he retreated and I haven’t seen him since. He’s now probably nestled into a hole in a tree or in some sucker’s comfortable drywall, family cozied up for warmth, my missing underwear at the entrance keeping predators at bay with a chemical-scent shield. If the little ones have the constitution of their dad, the odour won’t faze them. Impressive.

So, yeah, no freakin’ way. It must be the squirrel. And I accused Ollie of the undergarment thefts already; I feel like a heel. He pretended not to understand what I was saying. I could tell he was hurt though; he had that dejected look on his face and stopped eating for, like, 300 seconds. It seemed like an eternity. Now I may owe him a huge apology. Then I’ll cuss him out for letting the squirrel in here.

But other than the case, of course, I’ve been busy with Christmas.

christmas tree, gifts, presents, living room, toronto, city, life

I spent a good amount of my life on GO trains, heading west to see my sister, twice, and then east to gather some documents. The documents ended up being the one gift I’d been hoping for this season – both some evidence that the ex is entangled in some untoward business (at my expense :( ), and the fact that finally, I can say with authority … I was right. Oooh. Plus, I learned a couple of new pieces of information — stocking stuffers. Sent a shiver up my spine. Maybe I watch too much Poirot, but I definitely felt a private investigator vibe – and I liked it.

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

To you and yours

Posted on December 25th, 2009 14 Comments

Merry Christmas!

A real post is in the works (as soon as the turkey is done with and I’m back at my place), but I didn’t want you to feel like I forgot about you, dear reader. Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!

Filed under: B Sides

From the desk of Patrick

Posted on December 23rd, 2009 4 Comments
from my desk to yours

i4i, infrastructures for information inc, directory, lawsuit, microsoft, toronto, city, life

Dear i4i,

Awwwwww yeaaaah! You know what I’m talkin’ about!

Dang, I can’t believe the balls on you! A tiny little Toronto company — I walk by your office almost every day and I would never have noticed you if you weren’t in the news – and you took down Microsoft! And with XML on top of that! I mean, you and I know that’s basically like making a claim on the idea of the book. Not one specific book but the book format itself. The crazy Texan court actually granted you the ruling too! Man, that’s awesome.

Seriously, I can’t imagine what you could’ve told them was so special about your use of XML, but unless Microsoft actually stole your software, I’m having a lot of trouble understanding your claim. But I happen to think it’s great that you marched all that way south just to show them who’s boss. And now Microsoft is forced to call Texans ignorant hicks who wouldn’t know XML from their anus. Otherwise, your claim is valid. Heehaw!

Now, with a second ruling in your favour, you’ve shown everyone that it is possible. A little brain can hurt a lot. Bam! Your plot is so Machiavellian as to be evil. Love it. I also love that you’re using something that the public usually doesn’t come into direct contact with. (But it lurks darkly beneath almost every web page … even this one!) One newspaper describes it as programming “instructions”, another as a way of sticking data into a database. Mysterious XML. Hehe … who’s gonna know?

Luckily I know my XML from my anus. Flash developers must know XML intimately, on penalty of death. You and I both know that XML is a blank container, just an agreed-upon way of organizing data. Kind of like agreeing to put periods on the ends of a sentence. It’s the sentence that counts, unless you’re arguing that periods were your idea.


Oh, and may I just say bra-fucking-vo! Your December 2009 press release about support for Microsoft Word … priceless! I nearly shat myself when I saw it! You have a plugin for the software of the company you’ve just successfully sued for $290 mill. Haha! And I’m still not really sure what your company does. Doesn’t matter, you even managed to convince the courts to force Microsoft to stop selling Word in the US come the new year. Presumably, until Microsoft coughs up. Wow, grab the testes and twist; you guys are haaaaardcore.

I hope you use some of that money to throw one helluva New Year’s party, and pretty pretty please, send me an invite.

Your adoring fan,

from my desk to yours

Attention: The Toronto Sun Editorial Staff

Facebook censorship? My ass. Anissa Holmes’ ass too, apparently. Who gives a flying buttock? You keep printing these stories — front page, for God’s sake! – like it’s news. Look, why don’t you just turn the Sun into wholly nude “newspaper”? I have absolutely nothing against nude women, really don’t. Seems you do, because you seem to be repressing your natural tendencies. Just do it already!

Do you know I actually counted the double-spaced, large-print “articles” (mostly reworded press releases), and compared them against the amount of advertising on a single page? I believe article average was around 20%, ads 80%. And yes, to answer your question, I was bored. So what?

It’s really hard to take the Sun seriously. Your covers are the very definition of tabloid. Again, my problem isn’t that you’re leaning that way, it’s that you’re not leaning that way far enough. One top of the nudity, toss in a few UFO sightings, MJ reincarnations, and a “Your Conspiracies” section, and I think you’d finally hit your stride.

I don’t wish you ill at all, I just feel like you’re suffering from an identity crisis and sometimes you have to be a bit brutal about that kind of thing, you know? Tough hide kinda business. Red cheeks kinda business.

Give Anissa that center spread and, suddenly, some bullshit Facebook story just won’t seem like worthy or even necessary news anymore. You have to do it … for integrity.

I believe in you,

from my desk to yours

Dear Santa,

Am I too old for this? Ah, who cares, I’m sure you’re a cool guy. I’m not doing the sitting on the knee thing – sorry, not my bag, dig? But as for my wishes, well, I only have one, and I can easily divulge it. It’s about this blog thing. I wish, hope mostly, that TCL will one day blossom into a money-producing flower of some sort. Just enough to live on, I’m not greedy. Well, I guess some extra would be nice. But, you know, I owe a lot of people a lot of money, and I think I’d technically be on skid row if I earned any less than I do now. And, unfortunately, I earn a handsome amount. AdSense just won’t cut into that. Barely pays for my freshly imported Brazilian pine nuts. At about $40 per half a kilo (about a pound), I’d be crazy not to feed it to the pigeons. They love it. And me. :)

Anyhow, as you can see, I’m kind to animals and I rarely hit people. Except for that guy I ran into … correction, who ran into me. I mean, yes, I was already irked walking home … whole lotta shovin’ goin’ on. And not in an Elvisy way. I was walking through this narrow corridor of people who just decided to huddle together for warmth, I guess, and blocked almost the entire sidewalk. As I was leaving the passageway of shivering asses, this little guy came from directly around the corner and, without even a pause – oblivious to his surroundings — busted right into me. Except I was going at a good clip too, he came at me at a right angle and, I’m sad to say, bounced off of me. Sad now. At the time I said something to the effect of, “Oh for fuck’s sakes…”, and kept moving.

I had dazed the little guy pretty well. When I say little guy, I mean he was like, a fully grown man, just very little. A little guy. And I bowled him over. I think he even buried his nose in my ribs. He was walking upright, that’s just where his nose was. I thought I felt a crunch as we connected. Basically, I thumped him pretty good … not on purpose, mind you, and it was his fault. But I kinda took glee in it. Like, yeah, there you go, that’s what you get for not paying attention. But later I felt bad, it was just an accident and, well, yeah, he deserved a whack on the head, but probably not a full-on Patrick.

So I feel remorse. You see, so I’m essentially a good guy. And there you go, is that the justification you need? If it’s a promise you’re looking for, I can certainly promise not to punch anyone in the face for at least two or three weeks. Let’s say two. And I’ll lay off the expletives and instead use Mandarin ones like gan ni-a! Actually sounds kinda cute, don’t you think? And good and offensive to most Chinese people (I vaguely recall trying it at Chungking Mansions, generally to effect). People in China don’t do Christmas so I figured you’d like that. I know a few other zingers too, even the proper inflections.

So I’m valuable to you, Santa. Very valuable. And I need you to pull some strings for me, get TCL into full-time mode. I’m open to muddy money and I insist on looking the other way. Only one condition: final editorial decision stays with me! That’s a non-negotiable.

Looking forward to working with you,

Filed under: Pictures

Mystery of the errant skivvies

Posted on December 22nd, 2009 8 Comments

*shoomp* and there goes Monday.

I remember standing there in front of my laundry going, “what the hell?” I’d been folding clothes, literally, all night. I was mighty disappointed; I was supposed to have cleaned the living room on Monday, bedroom on Tuesday, hose down the fridge on Wednesday, sandblast the washroom on Friday afternoon, and irradiate the whole flat on Saturday before the folks visit. And fit in the occasional blog post too. Laundry was supposed to be the warmup.

Oh god, the folks visit. Now they’ll see the slum I’ve been inhabiting. I’ll have to explain why I’m paying over a thousand a month for this place. Nightmare. At least it would be clean when they dropped by! Unless I didn’t manage to keep to schedule at every step. Unfortunately, I’d already stumbled. Fuck, and on a Monday too.

laundry, toronto, city, life

Okay, so another problem emerged. Holy … frickin’ … cow … WHAT HAPPENED TO MY UNDERWEAR?! I’m freakin’ out, man! I swear, I had like twelve pairs. I spent the entire night gathering every scrap of clothing I could find … hence the lengthy folding session. But the result?! ONE PAIR!! (plus the pair on my ass). Now, c’mon, seriously. I could see two or three going wayward, and especially at my place. But now, with all the clothing on the shelf, there’s only ONE?! ONE?!?!

Think, think … Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you talking to? Who had a chance to manhandle your laundry? Something’s going on here, I can feel it. Something’s not right.

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Son of yesterday

Posted on December 19th, 2009 6 Comments

At the company party last week, a fairly new employee (a superfluous fourth nipple of a teenager, the son of the third nipple, my supervisor), asked me, “Why would anyone want to learn to program Flash?”,  or something to that effect. The “why would anyone” part stuck with me as a particularly brazen thing to say coming from a kid who doesn’t know an object from a pointer. That’s programmer lingo for he’s wet behind the ears, the little shit.

And as I told him, I grew tired of all the low-level nonsense that his pop still likes to muck around in. It’s unseemly. I mean, I’ve done it too – every good programmer should rip apart their computer in every which way. But I put aside childish things when I decided to actually get some work done. Seriously, it’s like going back to the frickin’ Stone Age.

I like Flash because there’s a big creative aspect to it – half of the software is geared specifically for drawing and animation. Programming is fun, don’t get me wrong, but staring at computer instructions all day kinda sucks. It’s nice to work in a  piece of software where I can also draw a doodle of the CTO, animate it in some obscene way, add programming to it for interactive fun, and email it to friendly coworkers. And it all looks like legitimate work.

But the reason I brought all of this up wasn’t to go over my portfolio. This situation jumped to mind while I was strolling home and listening to Spark, a CBC Radio podcast about technology. That Zune that you see in the TCL header has a number of ultra-geeked-out podcasts on regular rotation but Spark stands out from the crowd; it looks at the human implications of gadgets and websites rather than the gadgets and websites themselves.

The episode I was listening to, for example, was going into detail about how to operate the iPhone (curse Apple!), with gloved hands. The touch-screen requires human flesh (not my word), to maintain a certain level of conductivity – to operate the phone, in other words. Gloves act as insulators, so the iPhone’s a brick with winter gear on (Ha! I can operate my Windows Mobile phone with mitts and a toque!) In the episode they came up with the solution of sewing some conductive thread through the tips of the glove; not that it’ll affect me directly but it’s neat to see someone thinking about this. After all, in Canada it’s a genuine problem for half the year, and I don’t see Apple using their “genius” to solve the problem. I don’t like Apple.

Nora Young, Spark’s host, has that perfect mix of nerdy affinity and enthusiasm for what technology could be. In fact, all of the podcasts I listen to are done by folks why have genuine interest and enthusiasm in the subject matter, and the fact that some of them are learning as they go along makes the shows accessible. Plus, the topics are approached from an angle that most in the industry wouldn’t think to consider. The third and fourth nipples sure wouldn’t.

Obviously, creativity counts for a lot with me. So when I found the advertisement for Wind Mobile on King Street, I was impressed:

wind mobile, statue, advertisement, king street west, construction, bell lightbox building, toronto, city, life

Yes, the ad is the statue. Already intriguing, no? I stooped over to read the plaque, took a few pictures, even had a brief conversation with a passing girl who happened to be editing a video for some Wind Mobile spot – talk about effective advertising! The thing that really struck me was that this particular campaign doesn’t rely on flashing lights and loud noises, it just stands politely to the side and invites your attention. Well.

Unfortunately, Wind needs a new copywriter – the statue idea is absolutely brilliant but the plaque makes an unkind insinuation:

wind mobile, statue, advertisement, king street west, construction, bell lightbox building, toronto, city, life

It reads:

The statue commemorates Flippy, Mr Ideas, FlowerGal and the thousands of other Canadians who rose up against an unresponsive mobile industry. It was upon the immortal thoughts of this community – who made proclamations like, “No contracts… do this and I will be your customer forever,” and, “it would be nice to NOT have limits” – that a movement was born. Their brave ideas gave rise to the dialogue which gave rise to Wind Mobile – the first wireless company to be led by the people and a testament to the truth that conversations always make things better.

the power of conversation

The insinuation is that I will be Wind’s bitch if only they would do away with contracts. Not likely. Plus, if I don’t like contracts, I’m probably not going to commit to “forever”. But their putting statues on street corners (there’s another at University and Richmond), if nothing else, indicates a level of creativity that’s lacking in the older carriers. Here’s how Rogers tries to snag my business:

rogers, advertisement, pamphlet, toronto, city, life

Granted this is for the cable TV and internet packages that Rogers offers, but it’s still pretty pathetic. A sad kid and a teddy bear — “We miss you”; I can’t imagine giving less of a toss. And while it’s rare that I buy something without going deep into technical specs, I consider a company’s advertising campaign to be a part of that specification. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the company or its products are currently any good, but at least they’re thinking (or at least willing to think), differently. Many companies claim to do this but few actually do.

Asking why anyone would want to learn to program in Flash is basically the same as asking why anyone would want to broaden their horizons. It’s kinda sad to hear a student ask that question, and especially in a mocking way. He’ll end up at the Rogers of the world, hopelessly out-of-date  before he even graduates, and the real world doesn’t take kindly to inflexible youngsters. I know I won’t, the little shit.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Less-than-enthustatic torch

Posted on December 17th, 2009 8 Comments

So now that we’ve had our first, proper winter cold, I’m starting to feel a little better. It was getting close to minus ten (14 Fahr.) this evening, but I had a good pace going and my bits were all looking like they wouldn’t be falling off. It helped that it wasn’t windy – the body can maintain a pretty good micro-climate around the skin as long as it’s not constantly being ripped away. The micro-climate, I mean. Well, the skin too, I suppose. Winter storms can be a bit rippy. It’s mostly the millions of tiny, razor-sharp ice shards being blasted against your skin at high velocity that does the trick. They momentarily melt as they slide (you have to imagine this in slo-mo), tiny rivulets of water running across your exposed cheek and, just before being lifted aloft again by the incessant wind, freezing; microscopic icicles suddenly snapping and being borne aloft in the frenzy of the beastly rush.

Except that didn’t happen tonight. I was just saying it could (and at some point will) happen.

street corner, king street west, st. andrews's church, simcoe street, toronto, city, life

But as everyone around here seems to be so keen on saying, that’s what a Toronto winter is. Bam! And you take your licks whether you drive, bike (hahaha!), walk, ride the rails, or none of the above. Everyone gets equally abused during the dark months. And the current one’s still getting darker. Ouch.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit less than enthusiastic about the Olympic torch passing through town. I mean, there are worse things to cheer for than people striving for physical limits, this I know, but I like watching televised events that take me to exotic locales, not another view of winter. Makes me feel like, you know, maybe I should be out there doing that too. A little cross-city skiing or something. There are many occasions when that’s actually not unreasonable, it all depends on the fickle snow. After all, it was ten years ago that MC Mayor Melly-Mel Noooooobody! Lastman (in hindsight, the most entertaining mayor of them all), called in the troops to help with the snow. That spring I shook my fist out the window as my plane took off for the east. Far east. For a while.

Now I have a new perspective :). But perspective doesn’t keep you warm. So standing around waiting for some dude with a flaming stick to run by … meh, I prefer to keep my fingers. But I did catch the rehearsals for the City Hall torch ceremony the day before. Ah, balmier times.

… Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The Practical Gentleman’s Guide to Urban Insolence no.9

Posted on December 16th, 2009 6 Comments

When the gentle snow begins to fall outside my icy window, dear reader, my thoughts turn to a snifter of some fine, aromatic liqueur, and to your delightful company by the side of a crackling fire. I do so love this season. :)

The urban sphere is no less magical at this time of year; festively festooned store windows hold visions of the wonders to come, with children looking on clinging to their mothers, promising all manner of rehabilitated behaviour if only they could get exactly that. And luckily, toys are a relatively inexpensive way to motivate them toward adopting good manners. It’s a terrible shame that the same can’t be said of the adult populace at large. It would certainly make shopping for gifts much more enjoyable, don’t you think?

Insolence at this time of year is most un-Christmas-like, yet during any average shopping expedition one may expect to encounter it at regular intervals. While previous installments of The Guide have dealt with successfully navigating crowds or dealing with queue jumpers, we have thus far not discussed the techniques for ensuring that the last item on the shelf ends up in your possession instead of the aggressive gentleman’s who just pushed you aside for it. The natural inclination may be to bare one’s knuckles and prepare for fisticuffs, but there are many variables to this approach that simply cannot be accounted for. Besides this, it is ungentlemanly. The timeless question must once again be raised; what’s the practical gentleman to do?

Luckily, dear reader, we have a few avenues open to us that ensure that we escape both unscathed, and with the gift we had wanted under our arm. And as my special gift to you, I have taken great pains to research two excellent approaches that are both entirely preemptive and self-maintaining. The gifts that you select will be ready for you when you’re ready to make your purchase; you won’t need to fend anyone off, thus entirely preventing insolence, as it were.

A great deal of wisdom has been scribbled hastily within convenience store greeting cards on the way to the relatives’ as regards these matters, but please allow me to at least get the ball rolling.

The Mark

Chocolate, who doesn’t love it? The insolent, that’s who. But not me, dear reader, and I believe you will love it too once this scenario unfolds in its entirety.

Clearly, for this technique we will be needing chocolate. I prefer dark, but melted milk chocolate also has a certain appeal. The idea is to use something that approaches the colour and consistency of feces, and cocoa is a wonderful medium to work in anyway.

Enjoy a corner of your favourite chocolate treat, allowing it to melt in your mouth until soft. Then, simply rub it onto a visibly obvious section of the gift you have selected, replacing it on the shelf from whence it came. Anyone who encounters it will see the “fecal” smear and will steer well clear. You hear? :)

The nice aspect of this strategy is that it allows you to shop with hands free while marking, and reserving, potential gifts you may want to return to later. Clearly there wouldn’t be much advantage to marking gifts weeks in advance, unless you’re short of cash at that time, so the approach is a day-of sort of thing.

It would be remiss not to complete the thought and ask what happens when the besmeared gift is unwrapped. “I was eating chocolate, as I am wont to do when wrapping gifts, and some of it dripped there. I had the receipt but they wouldn’t let me return it and mall security chased me out. I have no idea why. But it’s what’s on the inside of the box that counts anyway, right?”

Bingo bango, you’re done.

The Markup

When something absolutely must be reserved, the idea here is to make the object simply unattainable … except for yourself ;) As with the previous option, this may also be a day-of sort of thing or an advanced-planning sort of thing. But you must prepare.

The essence of the thing is to create our own price tags, of varying degrees of outrageousness, that we will apply to reserved items. Access to a printer is great, but if you write carefully (paying attention to size and spacing), you can produce credible tags by hand. A fine felt tip marker and some self-adhesive envelope labels – the kind that come on sheets – should serve you well. We’ll be cutting these into price-tag-sized pieces, so we really don’t need many.

It’s a good idea to produce them in incremental values of ten dollars. And ninety-nine cents, of course (that adds to the authenticity). Start at $10.99, then $20.99, $30.99, and so on. These are good psychological thresholds, hurdles for their penny-pinching minds. How high are they willing to jump?

Of course, you’ll know something they don’t; that the real price is just beneath the reserved tag.

To absolutely ensure that a certain item is held until your return, consider marking up a number of the same items in increasing sums. This adds to the confusion should someone decide to double-check the price. As the items leave the shelf, the price will most certainly climb – that $150.99 (what?!) Transformer is sure to be yours. Teehee … can you hear their outraged outbursts at the toy store’s audacity? Maybe if they weren’t so rude.

The Marquis

During the holidays it’s nice to clean up a bit. Get that haircut, brush those teeth, put on the top hat, pop on the monocle, strike the cane and get out there! As the Marquis, or Duke, or V.I.P.of one sort or another, you are to be afforded various privileges, and if your wealthy industrialist father taught you anything it was that any problem can be bought.

“Sir? Sir? I wonder if you’d be willing to part with that game for a profit. Name your price.  Well, now, that’s  quite a tidy sum. Luckily for you, I made that while standing here. Hang on, I’ll write you a cheque; I don’t carry that much cash on me.”

Fancy duds, presumptuous, quick to pay you off – yeah, thanks for the money, Mister Sucker. Yoink! Didn’t really want the game anyway.

A well-dressed lady interacting with members of the opposite sex is more likely to accomplish this without any complications. Ladies will have an advantage over the gentlemen here, I’m afraid. Sorry fellas, we can’t win ‘em all.

At this point, you contact your bank to put a block on the cheque. You can also use expired cheques such as result from switching accounts to avoid possible fraud — “Oh no! My bank card is missing!” (But not really :) )

We must absolutely not reward insolent behaviour, and moochiness is no exception. By using this method, the gift is given by someone truly deserving, and contrary to ending in raised fists, the situation results in a handshake. Is that not in the spirit of Christmas? I happen to think so.

Well, dear reader, this is the final edition of 2009. It’s been a tumultuous year, to be sure, but it is my most sincere wish that The Guide has thus far provided a modicum of guidance through it. I will continue to work hard to bring you real, practical solutions to modern urban insolence.

Wishing you and your loved ones the ho-ho-ho-iest Christmas and Auld-Lang-Syne-iest new year. Until next time!

Filed under: B Sides

Cold dropin’ science

Posted on December 15th, 2009 10 Comments

Wikkidi wikkidi wikkidi wack.

I’ma be blunt, if I may. Ashley and Madison are assholes. Nope, no link, and this is the only time I use their wretched name – from now on it’s AM, with spit on it. There, I’ve said it, it’s out in the open. The way it should be.

You know what this company does? They are a service that promotes marital infidelity. Cheating. No, not a dating service that happens to have a lot of married people, they exist specifically to help people cheat. Their slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.”

And they’re assholes.

My idea of a relationship is pretty free-wheeling. Gay? Fine by me. Bi? A-okay. Swinger? Keep on swingin’! Miscellaneous? Please use my contact form. But an affair, that’s just simple lying. It’s deceptive, cowardly, and a big middle finger to the one you’re with. If you wanna fuck around, have the balls to say it. It won’t get easier with time, and you’re wasting the rest of your life if that’s what you really want. Maybe it’s just time to saddle up and ride off into the sunset, you know? ;)

And AM, they’re the assholes helping people to be cowardly liars. It don’ git no plainer ‘n that.

Okay, but I really wouldn’t give a shit about them except that lately they’ve been pushing the TTC to decal two of their streetcars with AM ads (the whole things – a full wrap), even getting cocky enough to begin offering discounted fares to anyone taking their streetcars — before the ad was even approved. The Commission wasn’t too sure about it (as well they shouldn’t), and turned it over to a committee who finally gave it the thumbs down. *applause*

Unfortunately, AM decided to kick back with threat of court saying that this is impinging on their freedom of speech. Cockswaddle. An affair is grounds for divorce – in the eyes of the law, it’s wrong. Therefore, to condone an affair (directly) is to condone something that the law states is wrong. Hence, if the TTC were to allow this, they would be challenging this rather embedded legal precedent. What, for getting to whore out two streetcars? Bitch, puh-leeze!

I’d slap AM’s ass to the curb faster than you can say Q.E.D. Where do they get off, pushing the Commission around? You know, I’m not always a fan of transit, and even though there’s a tonne wrong with it, I’d rather it showed some integrity and backbone rather than put it’s ass in the air and grease up. Once again, *applause*.

Joe Mihevc, second in command to the TTC chairman — who is ideally the most impartial and level-headed person in the room — responded to AM’s threat with “We’re ready to defend our right to determine what ads go onto our brand as the TTC.” Oh yeah – I almost forgot; the TTC is a business and they have a brand image to protect. Ding ding … and in this corner … the TTC’s gonna kick your ass!

Wow, our little Red Rocket’s balls grew two sizes today! I can’t tell you how proud I am.

And as regards lying, well, I do it all the time. Lots of different ways and, sometimes, quite enjoy it. But generally not at someone’s expense, and especially not at my own. Words of wisdom, biatch!


I’m out.

taxi, street corner, yonge street, king street east, tracks, road, toronto, city, life

Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right