Friday, September 19, 2008

Last Lapse

Well wow, this has been a bit of a lapse! I apologize to all of the non-existent people who regularly read this blog, to my clergy members and their families, but mostly to myself - sorry me. It's a very busy time that has kept me away from my passion of writing rambling non-sequitur laced drivel on the small bathroom stall wall that is my corner of the webbynet (copyright pending). Well that and Facebook. Damn! Yes it's true, merely days after savaging Facebook on this very influential blog, I buckled and signed on to the beastly "social networking" site. I told myself it was an ingenious way to get people to accidentally read my blog, but really I think it was to see what all the fuss was about. I've got to say part of it is pretty neat: seeing old friends' photos, catching up on what's going on in their lives. Then there's the other part, the annoying and silly part: having people accept your friend request, then watching their picture sit in your friends list with absolutely no further contact whatsoever, catching up with people and then experiencing the cyber equivalent of the awkward slow breath exhale accompanied by a "Yep . . ." that you would do on the street having caught up on all there is to catch up on with that same person, then there are the sheer volumes of friends in some of these peoples lists! how can you possibly be friends with 1300 people as one friend is? I have to say, this friend is a particularly pleasant and friendly guy, but 1300?! My wife has over 100, which I'm finding out is a relatively average number, if not on the low end, but I can't say I've even met 100 people - and I've lived in 8 cities in 4 countries! I think there's some serious padding going on here, I frankly don't think you should be allowed to include your entire grade 3 class in your friends list unless your parents are religious zealots and home-schooled you and your 12 siblings. I also now find myself checking updates on my page and am feeling the pressure to join interesting groups and add interesting things and write interesting status updates or risk not looking terribly interesting to the long lost friends now silently occupying my friends list, judging me cyberly (copyright pending). I have to go now, too many things to think about. I can't promise when I'll post next - perhaps when Facebook lets me run away to try to impress people here rather than there . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

101 Ways to be an A$$h@(e

It's been a few days since my last post, and I can't promise that this one will be terribly long, but I felt that I had to write something after a fluke visit to a Yaletown baby accessory store on Tuesday - and accessory seemed to be the operative word. For those who don't live in the lap of the Lower Mainland of BC, Yaletown is a toney district in downtown Vancouver. It used to be an industrial area many years ago where a lot of manufacturing used to take place. When the factories left, the buildings stayed and were soon converted into lofts and "hip" shops. Mix in Vancouver's urban densification boom and sprinkle on some real estate super-inflation and you've got a perfect mix of $7 latte sipping twits and oversized sunglass wearing knobs trying desperately for people to notice how cool they think they are. My wife had gone to an appointment in the area and so I took our daughter for a stroll down the too narrow sidewalks past some wannabe trendy for the sake of trendy boutiques until I happened across one that purported to be a baby store. Thinking it couldn't hurt to see what new might be out there, or whether some as yet undiscovered by me toy may inhabit the innermost depths of said shop, I ventured in. Once inside I had yet another experience that has been played out between my wife and I over the past year and a half of being parents: I got really pissed off by the cost of the crap that no kid could ever freaking care about in this stupid store. Now let me be clear as I say that I have no problem spending the money for quality items as long as there is a value in that item. But a $295 Paul Frank "rocking thing" is a joke! Come on! It was a sheet of freaking fibreboard machine pressed into a taco and a laminate veneer of monkey heads on the underside! This is ridiculous - I know you pay a premium for a name brand, but last time I checked, drawing a cartoon monkey head doesn't give you license to charge the general public hundreds of dollars for a piece of bent laminated wood. The next overpriced toy I saw was a wooden jobbie that was very nicely made and featured some rolling cars, it also featured a lick of paint that informed buyers that it was a french company in existence "depuis 1911." For those not acquainted with the french tongue, that means "since 1911." The toy was valued near the $100 mark - all I could think was how much had they charged in 1911?

This is not an old complaint. We've all seen the proud as peacock mothers and fathers out there gathering at coffee shops everywhere practically revving the engines on their $1000 and $1500 strollers - push-chairs with the seats so high up they look like they're walking their babies around on barstools. My wife and I didn't scrimp on our stroller, we bought a new one with a new infant seat in a reasonably cool color - we thought it looked reasonably cool. When you are spending $1200 on a stroller however, it has nothing to do with your child and everything to do with you! Many years ago, one would walk down Robson Street in Vancouver on a Friday or Saturday night, and at the kitty corner Starbucks at Thurlow Street, one could gaze upon the the long row of gleaming chrome glinting off the dozen and a half Harleys lining the street outside the coffee shop as packs of middle aged wankers relived their youth while sipping a foamy cup of, what was at its core, joe. Today the bikes have been traded in and their wives are now crowding the streets with their newest accessories: their babies' accessories!

Not long after the birth of our first child, my wife and I were walking through Holt Renfrew trying as it might in its new digs to be Harvey Nicks. We walked past the mannequins and the middle aged botoxed women who bore an uncanny resemblance to mannequins and into the Burberry section. My wife pointed out a Burberry pram, and suggested I might like to buy it, knowing my aversion to spending frivolously. I answered that it certainly would save me time having to tell people I was an a$$h@le. It certainly would have saved me time telling anyone in the store in Yaletown that I was - of course the too cool saleswoman would have actually had to look up from her lunch of water to see that I was one of them.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

If This is Political it Must be Saturday

Well, here we are - it's the weekend again and I feel the need to post something of a political nature.

It has been an interesting week on the political landscape. Up here north of the four nine the party ads are airing fast and furiously - well the Conservative ones are. I'm reasonably sure the other parties know there's going to be an election but you wouldn't guess that from the tundra-like lack of anything from them. This void of opposition is why I will continue to reserve comment on the goings on in Ottawa for the time being, but I will certainly hold forth on another chapter of "What the Hell is Going on Down There?"

The Republican Convention is over for another election run-up and think the general consensus after the fact is: "What?!" as in "the hell was that?"  I didn't think it was possible but a senior citizen with a speaking style only slightly more animated than Ben Stein's managed to steal the spotlight and thunder and all the accoutrements from Senator Obama. What did Mr. McCain have to do to accomplish this next to impossible feat? Confound everyone by finding the hottest Governor that no-one has ever heard of in the Union to be his running mate, get the whole country debating the merits of said Governor's fitness to be the Vice President, and then dazzle the Party faithful with an acceptance speech that everyone had to admit was pretty darn good whether you agreed or not. Easy.

Going into Wednesday evening I still wasn't sure what to make of this woman.  Her politics were uncomfortably right wing, her experience level was slim, and Republicans were busy legitimizing her new position by arguing that she had foreign policy experience by virtue of the fact that she lived pretty close to Russia's Easternmost frontier.  I did have "a feeling" about this woman however - and it wasn't because she looks like a mix of Tina Fey and the Karen Walker character from "Will & Grace". I certainly don't share her politics, or McCain's for that matter, but I also don't think that McCain's people are idiots either.  These are essentially the same folks who engineered the last two Bush ascentions. As I said in my last politics post, I don't think this is a political master-stroke and I'm still calling this for Obama-Biden. However there was something about calling on Ms. Palin that I think gives Republicans, particularly young Republicans, the sense that they are also being given a chance to make history that they certainly wouldn't be making with McCain alone. Now I'm not suggesting that there is the same significance in breaking a barrier running for Vice President that there is in running for the top job, or even that there are direct parallels between the personages of Mr. Obama and Ms. Palin. But there is no doubt that Sarah Palin represents a clear and visible shift from the business as usual politics of the right. At least on the outside, of course. On the inside conservatism is alive and well in the person of Palin. This is where the Republicans may in fact lose a portion of the demographic that they must covet or die - the young voter.

Young Republicans today are far more likely to be more put off by the views of the radical right and the black and white clear cut platforms of old. Even young Evangelical voters are more likely to be moderate and unwilling to touch Roe v. Wade despite the fact that they see themselves as Christians in good standing. Palin's staunch stance against pro-choice arguments in all cases as well as her lack of any kind of positive record on environmental issues may be off-putting and marginalizing to the young voter. Whether the Grand Old Party likes it or not, it is going to have to move beyond the old or it won't be so grand anymore - so to speak. In one sense Governor Palin does reflect change for the party in that she is a woman, she is young, she is clearly strong an unafraid to ruffle some feathers, and she is new - so new that most people obviously had no idea who she was. That's all good and certainly part of why the McCain campaign went with her.  It's also most likely the reason they didn't go with other women within the party who are more qualified and definitely just as strong: they are not new and McCain's camp probably felt they still represented too much of the "old" in the party. The problem of course is that Palin's record doesn't really reflect any new thinking, which ironically was also most likely the other part of her draw. She is a staunch right wing conservative which may well lose them some of the younger vote. The truth is however that all this punditry lives on paper alone, and most people vote with their heart whether we like it or not. This is the big variable and will become the X factor in all of this.

How this plays out come November is going to be most affected by how these two tickets make people feel. This is where I think McCain's camp is laying their chips. I think that they believe that Palin is going to make conservative voters feel good because she's likable, she's funny, and she'll appeal to that conservative base - even the ones who are unsure of the level of zealotry. As long as this race stays close, people will vote out of fear in those booths. Not fear of terrorism, or imminent threats, but of "the other guys" getting in. Obama has some serious mojo on his side and he has had it for some time. That mojo is fueled by the feeling of impending history, of change, of excitement. He makes a lot of people feel good, he makes them feel good about the country, about the economy, and about their place in the world. If Palin can make those swing voters who were swinging for Obama but are normally conservative start to feel good about the right, then the Republican Party may have a chance to stay in this thing and keep it close right up to the curtain closing behind voters alone in a booth with a ballot and their feelings.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Slippery Slope

So it begins . . . three days since my last post. Is this the slippery slope upon which I tread that leads to my turning to a career in competitive tiddly-winks rather than updating my soon to be influential amateur blog? Possibly, but my legions of imagined fans will be relieved to know that I have not yet purchased a set of professional tiddly-winks. I have, conversely, been watching a lot of television and reading news feeds online which inform my ravings on popular culture and the political state of innumerable unions - real and imagined. I will not however be blogging on anything political tonight as I still need more events and times to ferment.  Maybe I will make a weekly posting on all things political to give my non-existent fans something to look forward to, assuming they are politically interested - otherwise it will be a weekly posting to be avoided!

Things are exciting here as always - well not circus exciting, but exciting to us nonetheless. We have new windows coming soon to the house which we are anticipating eagerly, even more so when they are installed. My wife and I are tidying up and readying ourselves for an imminent new arrival as we add another beautiful we'en to our family - our second.  Before long I will be a father to two little ones under two and I couldn't be more over the moon. If you find yourself considering parenthood in any way shape or form and are over the legal age of majority and in a happy committed relationship, I strongly advise you to go for it! Jump on in with both feet! Being a parent is the greatest thing I have ever done or ever will do by such a huge margin as to make all other margins laughable (even margarines)! That would certainly be a fun thing to blog about, parenthood and kids, maybe I should use the other page for that - it would certainly be apropro considering it's titled "Musings from Suburbia."

In other news I'm starting another movie next week, another conservative budget, but it looks like it will be fun. It's about stuff, and some other stuff, then this new stuff happens, and then at the end there's a big stuff twist. I wonder how far out of town I'll be travelling for this show? Ah well, I'm sure it'll all be worth it. So I'll do a few days on this show and have some fun. Well I think I'll bring today's lecture to a close with this philosophical question: If a tree falls in the forest, does it improve someone's view? Ruminate my friends, ruminate.