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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Royal waste of Money?

While my wife-to-be and I gasp over quotes to cater and photograph our wedding, in England the Royal couple could rack up a bill of fifty million pounds (about CDN $78 million).

On top of that, the big wedding could cost Britain’s economy six billion pounds because the spectacle has actually been declared a bank holiday, sandwiched in a bunch of other holidays.

OK, I know this is Prince William we're talking about here – an heir to the throne – but I can't imagine the pressure of such an event. Everyone who is anyone (with the exception of the Canadian Prime Minister, it seems) will be in attendance – 1,900 people in total, not to mention millions of TV viewers.

I personally believe a wedding should be a private affair for family and close friends. Not a grand 'look-at-me' gesture.

We are looking at around 100 guests, which I consider a big crowd. And so far, our wedding hasn't been picked up by any TV networks.

It seems like a colossal waste of cash to me to spend fifty million pounds on a one-day party. Maybe I'm too social-minded; I would rather help others with that money. Which is probably why I'll never be rich (sorry, honey).

But to be fair to Prince William and Kate Middleton, they probably don't have much say in the matter. The royalty before them are surely calling the shots on this one.

I have nothing against the Royal Family, but I do have something against lavish spending that will benefit only those involved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Lost Art of the Mix Tape

Remember that girl you had a crush on, but were too afraid to say the words?

Those were the days when you let a mix tape say the words for you.

You strategically placed songs on the tape that somehow said what you were trying to say, put them in an order that hopefully worked, and then wrote the playlist (by hand!) on the inside sleeve.

For those aged 17 and younger, a little history lesson: an audiotape was an analogue (i.e. not digital) magnetic medium, for which you pressed play and record together on a stereo to capture sound.

There was a certain skill required to make a mix tape: you had to know the person pretty well, so they wouldn't think the music sucked. And then you had to make sure the recording levels were somewhat similar in each song, so it didn't go from a quiet track to an alarmingly loud track. On top of that, you had to make sure the 'gap' between each track was fairly uniform, so songs didn't blend into one another.

Let me admit I made a mix tape or two in my time. Did they work? Hmmmm... not really. But that's OK; at least she had some decent music to listen to. Or at least what I thought what she would think was decent music.

You 'kids' today (i.e. under 25) have it so easy: you can just 'burn' a CD of music you 'downloaded' or 'ripped' and click 'equalize' to level out all the tracks. In the 'old' days (i.e. before 2000) you had to 'buy' music or 'wait' for it to come on the radio.

But there's a unique charm to tapes you don't get with CDs. I mean, I have some tapes I recorded for myself (I don't think a girl ever gave ME a mix tape) and they've been played so many times the tape is actually stretched. So the volume goes up and down a bit in spots, and I know exactly when that will happen. Kind of like the 'signature' of the tape, or its battle wounds.

CDs are near perfect. They don't wear out (unless you play them around a million times). The sound is pretty much perfect. Borrrriiiiing!

But at least they are tangible (i.e. you can hold them). God forbid someone upload a bunch of songs to their love interest. Or give it to them on a very unromantic memory stick.

Ah yes, the mix tape. They required time, skill, and somewhat good taste in music. Or at least the ability to match the taste of your intended target. (Just for the record, I should mention that not all mix tapes were for a crush. My best friend – also a boy – made me a few awesome mix tapes I played endlessly during my first year of college. Paul Simon, CSNY, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Chilliwack, America, Guess Who... they were all on those tapes somewhere.)

Mix tape, we hardly knew ye.

But you've been burned into my memory.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wondering the Universe (PT. 1)

I have an interest in history.  But not just your usual interest in say, the world wars, pioneers, or pirates (although pirates are super sweet. Second only to ninjas). 

My curiosity goes a bit further than that. Let me explain. 

We tend to take human behaviour for granted – we laugh, we kiss, we fart, we drink, we joke, we eat prepared food... yes, you get the idea.

How did this all come to be?

Did you ever stop to think who the first person to tell a joke was, and what that joke may have been? 

Back to the dawn of man: While out hunting for food, one Neanderthal turns to the other and says, "ugghh.... so... ugghhhhh.... what call dinner?" 

Other neanderthal looks puzzled. "ArrrrGGGHH... what?" 

First neanderthal says... "Dead meat!" (Translated of course from some ancient dialect.)

(Pause) then a short grunt that could pass for a laugh from Nean#2. 

OK, so it's a bad joke. But remember, that was supposed to be the first joke ever. Of course it's going to suck. I mean, it probably wasn't a knock-knock joke. 

But if it was... 

"Knock knock!" 

Neanderthal asks, "Who there?"

Voice from behind cave door: "Sab!"

Nean: "Sab who?"


Along those same lines, can you explain why farting is funny? OK, it's just a basic bodily function. But who was the first to laugh about it? 

Just think, before farting was funny, early man could just fart and keep on 'talking' like nothing happened. But now it's in our instincts to react to flatulence with snickering. Next time you're talking to a friend and let out a long fart, try not to crack a smile while continuing to talk. (Good luck.)

And what about kissing... is that instinct or did an accidental smashing of lips lead to the modern day version? I mean, think back to your first kiss. Was it awkward? Probably. Now think back to the FIRST KISS EVER and the thoughts that would be going through their heads:  

"WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHAT… ohhhh, that's nice." (Translated of course from some ancient dialect.)

And what about alcohol? I mean, historians claim fermentation is as old at 10,000 BC. But was it an accident that led to the discovery that rotting material can get you drunk? And who was the first person to get hammered and subsequently hungover, and how did he/she relay this experience to their peers?

"Man, I was so hungry last night I ate some rice sitting in a bowl... but it was a bit mushy... and I drank the stuff at the bottom. Next thing I know, all the women servants looked better than ever and then I blacked out. But they said I danced like never before." (Translated of course from some ancient dialect.)

So just let your mind wander (wonder?). Think about the first person ever to do any given thing in your daily life, and what they must've thought at the time. 

Those folks didn't have any kids in the schoolyard to tell them how it is. They were the ones who told the others who eventually down the line told the first kid in the first schoolyard about it, who then passed it down through generations. 

Kinda blows your mind. 

Feel free to add more thoughts and theories to this. I mean, maybe we'll uncover another first in the process. 

Oops, just farted. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Wedding Files: Part I

Sometimes, you surprise even yourself.

That's exactly what happened to me when I proposed to my girlfriend of two years – on Valentine's Day of all days... cheesy, right?

But it was the perfect day to do it. My girlfriend (love you Gooberstix!) didn't suspect I would pull this stunt, especially on a day when guys are supposed to do something nice for women.

I put the ring in a bigger box (how clever am I) and when she saw the ring box, she was so excited she slipped the ring on her own finger. I didn't really even have to ask for a 'yes'.

So now that the nerve-wracking proposal is out of the way (I almost couldn't feel my legs after), now comes the real challenge, one that I didn't really expect; well, sort of, but not fully –


What colour should the flowers be? Will shoes match those flowers? Pink or white gold in the wedding band? What theme for a cake? Open bar or drink tickets? Should there be bagpipes? What songs should be on the playlist? Should I shave?

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm just a tiny bit overwhelmed. That being said, I'm keeping the planning duties at arm's length, as my wife-to-be has surrounded herself with wedding magazines to help guide her through the process. And she really seems to enjoy it all.

So do I to a certain point, but if my brain spends more than an hour or two thinking about a wedding each day, it will short out and explode.

But with all the planning so far, there's also been a genuine outpouring of love and encouragement from our friends and family. We've already been treated to an engagement party complete with Rock Band, with another party coming up and who knows what in between.

From a partying/hanging with friends and family standpoint, getting married is awesome. 

It's also awesome when your partner is awesome.

So if the flowers are yellow or blue, if the music is jazz or rock, if we serve sausage rolls or cheese sticks, in the end it doesn't really matter to me.

All I want is for my beautiful bride-to-be to say 'I do'. (Awwww. Hope I didn't spoil anyone's lunch.)

Stay tuned as we navigate our way along the curvy road to wedded bliss. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

There's a little bit of Sheen in all of us...

If I could have your attention for just Two and a Half seconds:

A lot has been floated in the media recently regarding embattled Hollywood (hero? Anti-hero?) Charlie Sheen.

But is any of it actually newsworthy? Well, this is one of those times when the public makes that call. 

Truth is, the average person has an insatiable appetite when it comes to the perceived falls-from-grace of Hollywood Stars (note: I just Googled 'fall from grace' and the first hit was a Sheen story). That's what has kept tabloids at grocery checkouts for so many years.

You may not ever pick up or buy those gossip rags (or read quickly-pieced together celebrity dirt stories like mine on the web), but don't pretend you're not interested in Sheen's antics. Even those people who are criticizing Sheen, or making comments like "I couldn't care less about him"– well, they have just expressed an interest in some form or another.

Truth is, Sheen represents the human condition; we can all see some aspects of ourselves in him. His free-loving ways, drinking, drugging, lashing out, and wild partying are all things we've imagined we'd like to take part in at some point (as if we haven't already).

It's the same principle that makes people see movies like The Hangover and call it "awesome". They put themselves in the character's shoes, and think, "Wow, wouldn't it be great to let go – I mean, really let go – for just one night?"

As it turns out, Sheen seems to have 'let it go' many nights.

That being said, like many, many others I'm a fan of his sitcom (which is currently on hold), Two and a Half Men, which seems to mirror his life. 

Why do I like the show? Because his character lives his life the way he chooses to live it. He is witty. He is funny. He is 'winning'.

But there is another side to this man that some of the more 'responsible' folks can relate to. After he joined Twitter recently and posted a picture of himself alongside one of his 'goddesses' (as he calls them), he also updated his million-plus followers about the status of his twin boys, who were taken from him by police after his ex-wife claimed foul.

After thanking all the Twitter users who followed him and wished him well – "In all sincerity... Thank you Twitter community for the warm reception" – he posted, "Pardon my absence.... My first concern is my kids... Back soon..!"

He has also reportedly backed off on demands for a pay increase for appearances on the sitcom, while advocating for the show's crew to get its payout for cancelled episodes. 

Does that sound like a man who has completely forgotten all responsibility and courtesy? Is he an antisocial monster like some media outlets seem to paint him as?

I don't think so. 

As my wonderful wife-to-be (love you Gooberstix!) said about the male fascination with Sheen – "I think men who are generally decent have a hard time looking away from stuff like this, like Charlie is showing you the 'other' way of being a successful guy."

That sums it up better than I ever could. 

Thanks for reading. Now back to real news – for example – radical change in the Middle East