Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Having discovered a little store called Daiso in Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, this is the ultimate dollar store. Okay, so they charge $2 per item, but compare this to your average dollar store, you easily get much more than they offer. About two floors worth of merchandise contains just about everything imagineable, from housewares to clothing to skin care products. And then I found this.

If it doesn't do what it promises, do we get our money back?

My understanding of Japanese is minimal at best (I haven't quite gotten past baka gaijin), but it's safe to assume that this is hair gel (also based on the properly translated ingredients list). There are probably better hair styling products on the market, but it's something I didn't actually purchase for its original use (get your mind out of the gutter, you sicko! I collect odd stuff like this!).

This is an example of what's become known as Engrish, or English that has really been lost in translation from its original language, usually Japanese or Chinese (I have since submitted the photo to the and am waiting to see if they put it on the site or not).

As Canadians, we're all familiar with bilingual packaging. As a result, every Canadian knows the words for English/French translations for words such as "sans sucre" (sugar free), "gagner" (win), and "gratuit" (free). It's different when it comes to Asian/English writing, because you have instructions on a can of batter coated peanuts reading, "Refrigerate for better crunchy."

But, either way, I have discovered a place where I can easily maximize dollar limits when given the task of assembling a Kris Kringle gift on a budget. Although I can easily picture the shock of the hapless gift receiver as they open up the gift to discover a bottle of "Pocari Sweat" (that's supposed to be a refreshment beverage, by the way).

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

I got a few nice presents from my family this year. Which one was my favourite? Let's just say that I didn't take a photo of it because I'd have to be standing in front of a mirror in order to do so.

I really think my sister is trying to tell me something, though. Last year, it was a copy of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide Handbook: Sex and Dating.

Christmas was fairly uneventful as Christmases tend to be...visited my father's cemetary site, had lunch, opened presents (I got my brother in law a Popeye t-shirt that says "Well Blowz Me"), helped prepare dinner, watched a couple DVDs (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the first two Die Hard movies, FYI).

Hope everyone had a great Christmas.

ADDENDUM (December 26th, 2004): Okay, okay. After thumbing through the book, it has some fairly useful advice on culture, fashion, and grooming. While there is the risk that some of it may become dated within the next few months (as fashion trends tend to do), the fundamentals are still the same.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

"What does not kill you makes you stronger."
-Self-motivational cliché

"What does not kill you often gets it right the second time."
-Self-motivational cliché reworked for realism

So, after people reading my last post will probably wonder...what DIDN'T suck this year?

Body and Mind. I'm probably the physically strongest that I've ever been. Barring any recurring injuries, I can do the things that I couldn't dream of doing years ago, whether it be acrobatic moves for Capoeira or bench pressing my own body weight, which has actually stayed consistent for the last ten or so years.

Young at Heart. People still consistently think I'm younger than all of my 27 years. This is despite the fact that little grey hairs are sprouting out of the sides of my head and when I run my hands through my hair, at least five hairs come out (none of which I are grey). Worst moment? Someone thought I was still in high school. People wanna know my secret. I'd tell you, but I'm still waiting on the patent office.

I Don't Wanna Work, I Just Wanna Bang on the Drum All Day. As much as it sucks to have the rug pulled out from under you, getting laid off from A&B Sound was probably one of the best opportunities as it allowed me to go back to school full time (plus, I didn't spend that much money while I was working).

School Daze. While my marks haven't all come in yet, so far I've gotten a B (Communications 1118: Workplace writing), a B+ (Interpersonal Skills), an A- (Fundamentals of Professional Writing), and an A (Markets and Job Applications). This, after about a 4-odd year absence from formal schooling, is really nice. The only bad thing about "A" was only in a one credit course, while the others are worth three credits. D'oh!

Night Out With Friends: $20. Date with Member of Opposite Sex: $40. Dinner with Family Members: $50. People That Will Stand By You No Matter What: Priceless. Enough said.

Merry Christmas to all my friends, family, and readers.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

2004: The year in review OF HELL.

While it is premature to be writing end-of-the-year reviews, I'm jumping the gun. It's official. This year has absolutely fucking sucked.

January. I get demoted from my position at work to a much lower paying position. No one bothers to ask me why my job performance might not be 100%.

February. It's the same month as Valentine's Day and I'm still single.

March. The people at work decide to slash my hours in half. Never mind the fact that I give them my best month in terms of work performance, beating out everyone in my department and two people in a department that typically outperforms my department in terms of sales targets.

April. First, my father dies after a long chronic illness. Then the people at work decide to slash my hours back even further, to the point that it's not really worth my effort to continue working for them. I threaten to complain to Labour Relations and we "amicably" agree on a lay-off instead. Fuckers.

May. I manage to land two jobs, but I'm still collecting EI benefits as I'm working too sporadically, being that I don't work 5 days a week every week.

June. The place I'm about to move into is still incomplete. I end up living in a hotel for about a month while we wait for the slowpokes in construction to complete a job that they said would be done last year.

July. We've already moved in, but there's tons of work that needs to be done. The guys doing installation and painting are idiots. One guy left little exacto-knife shards on the carpet. It's a good thing I pick them up first.

August. The idiots who are responsible for painting use a spray gun to paint the exterior. As the garage isn't complete yet, my car is parked outside. It would have taken them ten seconds for them to tell me to move my car. Guess what happens.

Like an idiot, I allow them to clean my car. They use a harsh chemical to remove the paint and end up making a bigger mess and puting huge swirly scratches in the paint.

September. My student loan application is denied.

October. Almost died at work by falling off a ladder.

November. Mom's place is busted into and my entire DVD collection is jacked. Insurance covers less than 70% of it. Sadly, it's one of the things that insurance don't brokers bother to tell you about until AFTER your stuff gets stolen.

December 15th, 2004 (last night). My car is broken into and my stereo is stolen. Even though I have an alarm system, they disconnect the battery terminal, disabling it.

A member of the opposite sex who I ended up hanging out with last night (as well as expressed a personal interest in) indicated to me that I don't smile that much. I do like to joke around, tell jokes, and do whatever I can to make other people laugh, or at least smile. If there was a time in my life where I was doing the laughing and smiling, it probably didn't happen this year.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

“It’s about the stuff you can’t have, right?”
-Lenny Nero, from the film Strange Days (1995)

The ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary of the English Language defines pornography as “sexually explicit material that sometimes equates sex with power and violence” or “the presentation or production of material.” The word itself is derived from the Greek word pronographos, or the writing about prostitutes (it seems that people have found a way to pervert new forms of media for more prurient interests even back then).

While it is a fairly common definition, it is fairly broad, not including things that have become regarded typically as pornography. As well, it applies the definition to other works which most people would not regard as pornography. For example, the advice and writings of Dr. Ruth Westheimer are fairly sexually explicit, yet more for educational purposes, yet are considered “pornography” according to this definition.

And then we have word being applied to non-sexually explicit material, and I’m not just talking about that scene in There’s Something About Mary where the protagonist uses a lingerie newspaper ad for visual stimulation (“What’s that hanging off your ear? Is that hair gel?”).

In the article “Ecoporn Exposed” (published in The Utne Reader, Sept/Oct ’04 issue), Lydia Millet compares the beautiful images of nature (often consisting of cute cuddly grizzly cubs, spotted dolphins, and mother-and-baby koala bears) to those found in Hustler magazine (sorry, no example here). Oddly-mixed metaphors aside, the article is more about the ineffectiveness of idealized images of nature for promoting environmental preservation. However, the author raises a few interesting points on how the features of pornography can be applied elsewhere.

“Both are clearly porn,” Millet writes, “They offer comfort to the viewer: They will always be there, ideal, unblemished, available. They offer gratification without social cost; they satiate by providing objects for fantasy without making uncomfortable demands on the subject.”

While most people (including myself) will not completely agree with the last two parts (especially when you consider the HIV outbreak and subsequent shutdown in the adult film industry earlier this year), pornographic material certainly does all and is all of those things: comforting, available, ideal, unblemished. One comparison that she Millet misses is that it shows the unattainable. Let’s face it…most women do not have bra sizes in the DD range (at least not naturally) while most men do not have monster-sized genitalia that extend past their knees (“Huh-huh…he said extend”). And chances are that pizza delivery boy (“Large pizza with extra sausage”) and pool cleaner boy (“Ma’am, I cleaned out your pipes…”) are not necessarily job titles that will allow you to have sex more often.

Idealizing just about anything has turned into a fetish and become the mainstream, just as much as the adult industry has enjoyed some explosive growth (pun mildly intended) in recent years. Because of this, it is fairly easy to draw comparisons between pornography and other mass market media, regardless of whether or not sex is involved.

“Food porn” (or “gastroporn”) has been the phrase that has been used to describe beautifully crafted imagery of dishes that most normal people couldn’t hope to do. Food Network cooking shows do this a lot. Showcasing the work of talented chefs with years of experience, they effortlessly take ingredients and combine them into a work of art. Chefs like these have years upon years of experience and expertise. Attempt to cook like that and most of us will have something charred and blackened. It probably wouldn’t taste good either.

“Domestic porn” is the term given to home improvement shows and magazines like Martha Stewart Living, where the domestic divas of the world show us what we'd have a really tough time doing unless we had that type of background or spare time. They show us techniques that would have most people causing significant damage to their homes as they see the absolute ease in which things are done, which are very costly to repair when they realize that it's a lot harder than it looks.

And then there's the late art icon Bob Ross. It's almost smugness, the likes of him shoving it in your face that he's better than you are (although chances are that he was a really nice guy in real life), when he takes a palette knife and a few shades of green and creates a beautiful landscape in a matter of minutes, even though talent typically takes years to develop. I had a few interesting comments about his show on a friend's blog when the topic came up.

What these have in common with pornography is they all show us the best case scenario while reminding us of what we don't have and what we aren't doing. What I'd like to see are practical cooking shows and home improvement shows for the rest of us. I wanna see stuff that is a little on the overdone or underdone side because we didn't read the instructions properly. I wanna see the sour reactions of guests as TV chefs present dishes that literally taste like dirt. I wanna see home improvement guys breaking windows and inadvertently firing nail guns through their toes as they attempt to put up floor board.

But on the other hand, the conniseiurs of pornography probably would stop watching if all the scenes were over and done with after the thirty second mark and all the porn stars had stretch marks, pot bellies, and hairy backs.

I actually stopped watching pornography because it was reminding me of what I wasn't doing with members of the opposite sex on a regular basis. What's interesting, though, is that when cooking and home improvement are turned into educational shows, it becomes pornographic. However, when images of explicit sexuality has any form of instruction in it, it ceases to be pornographic.

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

"I'm like a chainsaw / I'll skin your ass raw / And if my day keeps going like this way I just might / break something tonight
I'm like a chainsaw (chainsaw) / I'll skin your ass raw (ass raw) / And if my day keeps going this way I just might / break your f***ing face tonight
Give me something to break (3x)
And that's your f**ing face
So come and get it."
-Limp Bizkit, "Break Stuff" from the album "Significant Other"

As described in my last entry, I've had a lot of really negative and violent energy that I had to get rid of. There's nothing like the feeling of personal violation to get the blood boiling. When left unfocused and unchecked, it can lead to disaster. When focused in a positive way, you can do a lot of great things.

When you have a lot of your personal belongings jacked all in one go, it's supposedly normal to feel like going out and finding the people responsible and doing God-Knows-Whatever to them. (un)Fortunately, "eye for an eye" isn't exactly appreciated by the Canadian justice system, even though it may lead to some temporary satisfaction. At least right before they toss you in prison, where you run the risk of becoming bitch to a big burly inmate named Bubba.

Wednesday's classes were a complete write off as I could barely concentrate enough to copy down the notes verbatim from the overhead projector, let alone digest and interpret what the instructor was saying. Running on pure adrenaline for the day, I've had one or two people advising me to stay home for the day. That might have been a good idea, although I already paid for my time, so there's no legitimate reason for me to skip out.

When I got home, after calling up pawnshops to see if they had a large number of stolen DVDs come in since Tuesday, I started working on my Communications 1118 assignment. The assignment was to create a set of instructions for a specific reading audience. Some chose topics ranging from the simplistic (programming a VCR) to the practical (ergonomics and stretching exercises) to the complex (injecting medication via hypodermic needle). Mine was a Women's Self-Defense Guide.

Being that I had a lot of negative and violent energy to work out, all of it was poured onto the page. That was possibly the most productive I've ever been able to be whenever tackling homework assignments. About 3 hours later, I managed to bang out 6 pages (single spaced with lots of white space).

Then I got people to read it. Negative energy, properly channeled, can be of good use, but only when it's focused. Sure, I managed to get the assigment done in record time, but here's some of the feedback I received:

-"I didn't like the stomping part. (at the beginning.)"
-"You might want to edit out the thing about stomping on the person's face repeatedly."
-"You mentioned stomping on the person's face in both the introduction and the disclaimer. You might wanna change that."
-"This thing about stomping on a person's face? I'm not sure if you're trying to be funny, but it's not really appropriate for the tone."
-"Perhaps refrain from overusing phrase --> 'Stomping on his face'"

All of a sudden, I'm starting to realize why Women's Self-Defense classes are almost always taught by women and male involvement typically ends at being the would-be assailant that wears armor made of really thick padding (especially around the crotch, throat, and head areas). Thank goodness for rewrites.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

There are some that are eagerly awaiting my next blog entry, but it's kinda on the backburner right now. Can't go into too much detail, but let's just say I got a really big problem with individuals that can't respect the property of others and see fit to violate that. Try as they might, the cops can't do anything to curb the problem and pawnshops are actually helping the problem proliferate.

Sure, insurance will cover most losses, but it won't cover the feeling of violation and the lost productivity. As it was, I couldn't even study last night as all I wanted to do was hunt down those two or more bastards responsible and lay the smack down on them.

As Vincent Vega said in Pulp Fiction: "Boy, I wish I could've caught him doing it. I'd have given anything to catch that asshole doing it. It'd been worth him doing it just so I could've caught him doing it. "

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