Sunday, February 25, 2007

Uncolourful Commentary.

I make a yearly pilgrimage to whichever local rep cinema is playing the "World's Best Commercials"--and have since University. But the quality of this programme has steadily declined over the past few years, making it nearly on par with what I see in between snippets of "America's Next Top Model"--so I don't know why I continue going.

Yesterday, I fulfilled my yearly obligation and took in the Commercials during a matinee at The Plaza here in Calgary. Little did I know, it is the one show in a rep cinema that parents drag their children to, I suppose in some misguided attempt to reclaim the cool their children robbed from them at birth. To any parents reading this thinking that it's great to take their children to see commercials (mostly in other languages) may I make a suggestion? Don't.

A family chose to sit directly behind me in what was a half-full theatre, then proceed to have a hushed discussion about whether it was okay to consume "outside food and drink"; one of the young, moralistic daughters had read a sign upon entry stating that such behaviour was verbotten--and now it lay on dear ol' Dad's shoulders to tippy-toe around why it's alright to break some rules (which I desperately hope will come back to haunt him in a few years when the virginal daughters want to stay out past curfew with "a friend").

Before the show, Dad used a joke he clearly prepared beforehand for the occasion. One of his daughters asked him some question and he answered:

P- "Ancient Chinese secret. Har har har!"

He thought it was a doozie.
No one else got it--so he finally had to explain that it was a line from an old Tide commercial where a customer asks a lady at a Chinese laundry how they get the whites so white, to which the lady responded "Ancient Chinese secret". The daughter still didn't get it because she didn't know what Tide was--which he explained was "like Clorox bleach". Which it isn't. The Mom corrected him by saying, "It's not like Clorox, it's like Cheer." The daughter didn't know what Cheer was either.

M- "Tide's in an orange bottle."

Holy friholy--I was about to explode. I desperately wanted to turn around and say, "It's laundry soap. Tide and Cheer are laundry soaps--so they're like laundry soap. That's the answer to your daughter's question!"

Dad's crummy joke was dragged out with a 5 minute explanation and by the end, the joke well and truly overplayed, and the daughter none the wiser because Mom and Dad are idiots.

As the lights dimmed, questions began pouring out of one of their daughters like Grandpa's flatulence.
D- "Where's this from? What's it about? Is it a car commercial?"

It didn't end. Fresh questions every 30 seconds--with mom reading subtitles and country names--in fact, reading aloud any printing that appeared on the screen.

The questions were painfully stupid. With a giant product shot on the screen of a Sony Handicam, the daughter actually asked:

D- "What's this commercial about?"
M- "Sony Handicams."

Yeah--no kidding. The whole screen is taken up with a Sony Handicam--why didn't Mom let her daughter solve that mystery alone? Exercise her critical thought processes a bit. I mean, unless the kid was blind, describing precisely what is on a one storey screen isn't going to help cure the kid of her case of the stupids.

There was a particularly abstract Pirelli Tires commercial done all in Italian, featuring John Malkovich as a preist and Naomi Campbell as a Hellspawn that provided a challenge for Mom because she was no farther ahead than the rest of the audience in understanding what the Sam Hill was going on.

There was one short reprieve from the questions when, during a commercial featuring a Transvestite prostitute (one of the funniest in the reel), the obvious question came up:

D- "I don't get it."
M- "I'll explain it to you later."

Fat chance, kid. That's the #1 parental avoidance technique in the book.

Just thinking about this matinee has exhausted me. It took all of the patience I could muster from my years as an Anglican Altar boy to not turn around and say, "Jiminy Cricket! Will you shut your gosh dang mouth?!"


I recently rode the bobsled at Calgary Olympic Park.
The ride lasted 59 seconds, and we reached speeds upwards of 123.4 km/h.
According to my calculations the experience cost roughly $2/second; at that rate, it would have been cheaper for me to go to a hooker.

ooooooh! Did I just zing myself?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Under suspicion

I wouldn't say that I'm generally what people would describe as the "suspicious type". I have have the same boyish charm that I did in Grade 5, the same dopey eyes, the same crooked little smile--hell, I still get my hair cut in the school boy style (parted to the right). In fact, about the only thing that garners suspicion are my bowties, and it's always from members of the opposite sex, who look on wearily as if I may try to convert them to Mormonism.

Even my lime green pickup truck Betty, a classic '68 "Vanity Model" Chevy, attracts nothing by adoration.

Yet today, there was something about B that made the long arm of the law put on his leather gloves and approach me with caution in a parking lot. I should say "long arms", as there was a pair of Smokies giving me the 20 questions treatment.

I had thought nothing of the Cowtown Police paddy wagon driving the wrong way down a one way street behind The Palomino; the cops rarely observe traffic laws, and I didn't figure that they would pick today to start--it was cold out. I was toasty warm in my pheasant hunting curling sweater, a nice burgundy paisley bowtie, Arnold Palmer cardigan, light brown fedora, and sharp dark brown slacks. I felt like my mother's pride and joy on two legs! But that inflated opinion of myself would spring a leak when I noticed the coppers from the paddy wagon milling around Betty's nose. As I strolled over to put my parking chit in the windscreen, the one po-po startled back into the other, and things took an unfamiliar turn:

PP- "This your vehicle?"
B- (tipping my hat back)"Sure is! What a beauty, eh?"
PP- "Over the last 40 minutes I have observed you at three different locations around the city. Once at 14th and 11th. . ."
B- "Well, I actually saw you guys at 10th and 12th earlier, if that's what you were driving about 40 minutes ago."
PP- "Yes. And I am curious as to what you're up to."

". . .what you're up to?" Is that real copspeak?

B- "I'm a beer salesman for Steam Whistle Brewing."
PP- "Is that your homebrew?"
B- (I tried not to get snippy)"No. It's certainly no homebrew. We brew a pilsner beer in a National Historic Site at the base of the CN Tower--"
PP- "Yes--"
B- "Our brewmaster is from Pilsner Urquell, the original home of the style--"
PP- "Yes--fine. So what are you doing?"
B- "Well. . . typical salesman type things. I drive around to retailers and licensees. . ."
PP- "Yes--Is it typical for you to make so many stops?"
B- ". . . yes. I'm the only guy for the entire province, so I've got to keep moving."
PP- "I see."
B- "Can you call my boss and tell him that you've seen me all over town; he'd be awful pleased to hear that I'm working so hard."
PP- "Thank you."
B- ". . . keeping warm?"
PP- "Yes. Thank you."

Jumpin' Jeepers! What kind of crime spree would I be able to fashion in a bright green pickup truck while wearing a bowtie? I don't mean to flatter myself, but I have a university education: if I was going to go on a bloody rampage, I wouldn't wear a silk bowtie.