Friday, May 31, 2019

Amateur Dream Analysis

DREAM: I'm in a church basement, helping stack tables and generally clean up after a buffet luncheon that morning. I go outside to find my car parked in front of the church, in the lane leading from the actual parking lot to the street. My emergency lights are on, so perhaps I didn't think I was going to be inside for as long as I apparently was.

Anyway, there's a piece of paper stuck under my windshield wiper, and it's a parking ticket --- apparently my sitting in the lane for hours caught the attention of a local cop. The cost of the ticket? $4800. Yikes!

And then I woke up.

The clearest connection is to the recent ticket I got in real life, as part of my never-ending attempt to figure out Toronto's baffling parking laws. Despite pulling my car literally right next to a sign indicating that parking was free after 9pm, I was still issued a ticket for parking in that spot between roughly 9:15pm and 10pm.  Yikes redux!

Now, my ticket was only for thirty bucks, so it was a far cry from $4800. I'm not sure where that inflated number came from in my dream. Let's see, I was in a church...could it have been a Biblical reference? What is Mark 4:8?

"Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."

Oh, okay, that clears it up. Thanks God! That's not at all vague! Though, 4800 divided by 30 is 160, so that's a combination of 'sixty, or even a hundred times.' And really, what is a buffet but an ever-multiplying array of food? And clearly, since I only planned to park in front of that dream church for a few minutes since I had my cautions on, the amount of work I was called upon to do inside obviously multiplied while I was in there. Maybe others were meant to help clean up, except they couldn't get their cars in because some jackass was blocking the laneway in to the parking lot.

So in this dream, God was acting through the traffic cop to punish me for my sin of underestimating work, which I guess falls under the category of sloth. The dream is an overall parable instructing me to not be so lazy. I dunno....I'm pretty lazy. But, I did just put a lot of thought into a banal dream about a parking ticket, so there's my one non-lazy activity of the day. Now, off to bed, to dream anew!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Warriors Hat, 2.0

From a post in November 2015....

In the summer of 2011, my pals and I went on our annual baseball road trip, this time hitting the west coast for the first time to visit San Francisco and Oakland.  Despite taking a giant suitcase better suited to a Don Draper metaphor than to a five-day trip, I’d somehow forgotten to pack a hat to protect my bald head from the July sun.  So, while in town, I ducked into a Lids and decided to represent some local flavour by buying a Golden State Warriors ballcap.

The hat fit pretty well in the store, yet after a couple of hours of actual wear, it was clear this thing wasn’t quite big enough for my gigantic melon.  For those of you who have never met me, I’ve basically got a beachball on top of my neck.  Even with the adjustable cap stretched to its limit, I was still getting a headache.  So when I got home, I threw the cap in the backseat of my car and essentially forgot about it for years. 

Fast-forward to around a year ago, when I was cleaning out said car and decided that keeping a Warriors hat in the backseat was kind of silly, especially since I had a couple of fisherman’s hats already there.  What can I say, head protection is a concern when your skull is bereft of hair.  Instead of taking the hat indoors or donating it to Goodwill or doing anything to actually create less clutter, however, I just tossed the cap into my trunk.

Since then….the Warriors have been unbeatable.  They rolled through the 2014-15 regular season.  They ran through the NBA playoffs en route to their first championship in 40 years.  Now, they’re a whopping 14-0 to kick off the current season and appear to be unbeatable short of facing Brock Lesnar in their 22nd game.

I’m not taking ALL the credit for Golden State’s miraculous success, but put it this way.  If you’re a Warriors fan and want to keep the good times rolling, please donate to my “keep the cap in the trunk” Kickstarter.  I’m not calling it sports fan blackmail, but…..well, I guess I just did.  Who knew that all it took to break a 40-year cold streak was putting a hat next to my spare tire? 

Fast-forward to today.  I finally took that hat out of my trunk, and tossed it into a garbage bin at a local gas station.

Go Raptors Go!  I've never wanted to be more wrong on any of my predictions!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hot! Live! Music!

The Beatles, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (LOVE remix)
This isn't actually live, but it was made for a live performance, so I'll allow it under the always-flexible bylaws of the Hot!Live!Music! posts.  "Love" was a Cirque du Soleil show set to various remixed, mashed-up, and remixed versions of Beatles songs.  The result is some interesting sound collages, such as this version of WMGGW, which is doubly notable for me since (*whispers*) I don't really like the original version of the song.  My parents saw the Cirque du Soleil performance in Vegas and enjoyed it, so you can take that endorsement to the bank!

Weird Al Yankovic, "What Is Life"
We'll continue on the not-really-live-Beatles kick with this actual live performance of a song by a former Beatle, covered by Weird Al, who I assume has owned a collection of beetles in his life.  As always when mentioning Weird Al Yankovic, let me officially petition the NFL to let him do the Super Bowl halftime show one of these years.

Postmodern Jukebox and Ariana Savalas, "Blank Space"
Another excellent PMJ cover, with the bonus of also giving us another cover version of Blank Space to overwrite the Ryan Adams rendition.

Chet Faker, "No Diggity"
Is this a Blackstreet cover?!  You'd better believe it is!  One of the great songs of my teenage years, covered by a guy who looks remarkably like me in my late-30's years.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mark's Marketing Tips

Years after the "poker boom" has come and gone, it's still amazing that you can find poker on any sports channel on any given day.  Gotta fill those hours somehow, I suppose.  Yet it's equally amazing to me that, to my knowledge, none of these poker events have ever been sponsored by a potato chip company.

Think about the logic, if you're Pringles or Tostitos or Ruffles or someone.  Whenever I watch poker, I get an unbearable urge to eat chips.  Every other sentence on one of those shows is, "He's reaching for chips," "He's put half his chips into the pot," "Joe just added 50,000 chips to his stack." It's subliminal advertising at its most insidious.  By the end of the show, I'd walk over my own mother for a bag of chips (p.s. happy late mother's day, Mom! I just admitted I'd sell you out for snack food!)

This kind of viral marketing doesn't work for other sports.  You'll never see a summer theatre production of a Midsummer Night's Dream sponsoring a hockey game, or Court TV sponsoring NBA games.  But if you're a chip company, there's definitely money to be made in throwing a few bucks at a poker tournament, since what better time than 2019 to invest in the poker boom?

This may seem like a silly idea, yet was it any worse than Lays having Mark Messier as its spokesperson in a series of increasingly crazed ads?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Survivor Rankings: Chris*

I considered writing this whole thing pretending Gavin had won and just ignoring Chris altogether, but then I would’ve just been wasting the audience’s time leading up to an unsatisfactory conclusion.  And that would be just bonkers!

I’m also going to do away altogether with my usual Survivor winner category headings since they don’t really apply to the Chris Underwood story.  After all, “how he won” is summarized just as “a very lame gimmick for a season,” you can’t discuss “skillset” since there’s very little evidence Chris is actually good at Survivor, and “could he do it again?” is a hard no, since I somewhat doubt the show will ever revisit the Edge Of Extinction gimmick given the pretty resounding critical pounding this season has been taking.

To be clear, I don’t blame Chris the person for this lame result.  He did his best within the rules he was presented with, and maximized it to his full potential.  He’s also far from the worst possible winner of the season — had one of the Four Horsemen Of The Mediocre Returning Player Apocalypse (Joe, Kelley, Aubry, David) won, it would’ve been absolute rock bottom.  And having the impossibly obnoxious Rick Devens, the other Edge Of Extinction returnee, win would’ve also been worse.  Plus, Chris looks kind of like Aaron Rodgers, so I can’t hate the guy. 

But I don’t consider him a “Survivor winner” since he didn’t win an actual season of Survivor, as the show finally succeeded (after years of trying) in fully undermining its premise.  If putting inexperienced players against returning players wasn’t enough, or the final threes, or the final four fire making challenge, or giving everyone an initial do-over chance with the old Redemption Island premise, or introducing a hundred immunity idols and special advantages into the game wasn’t enough, it took the Edge Of Extinction to finally break it.  The ultimate social experiment catch lying at the heart of the show (how you have to convince the people you voted out to then vote you to win a million dollars) was completely sidestepped. 

Chris ended up only participating in six actual tribal councils all season, and amusingly, didn’t even get the majority of votes from those six people he directly eliminated or tried to eliminate.  Reem and Victoria voted for Chris at the final tribal council, while Rick, Lauren, and Kelley all voted for Gavin and Keith wasn’t on the jury whatsoever.

All the other Chris votes came from people he not only didn’t eliminate, he didn’t even have a chance to eliminate since (this can’t be stressed enough) HE WAS THE THIRD PERSON VOTED OUT OF THE ACTUAL GAME.  The rest of the time he spent stewing at the “Edge Of Extinction” island, which I’m sorry, is more an advantage than a disadvantage.  Chris got personal one-to-one time with virtually the entire jury, while Gavin and Julie were in the much more stressful position of actually having to play Survivor.

Even when he was back in the actual game, what game did Chris even play?  He was gifted an idol since Lauren is an idiot, gifted another idol in that half-and-half split with Rick*, won a single challenge, then took the “bold” move of giving up that challenge immunity to personally beat Rick in the fire making challenge.  This, frankly, wasn’t bold whatsoever since it was apparent that it was Chris’ only move, once he saw that Julie and Gavin weren’t much at making fires.  Chris was open about the fact that Rick was unbeatable in a jury vote, so Chris was only risking dropping to fourth place from 2nd or 3rd if he was in the finals with Rick.

* = let’s take a moment to point out the stupidity of giving what was essentially a full immunity idol to a person coming into the game at the final six

So when it comes right down to it, Chris was very good at the game of “Find Idols And Make A Fire,” which is what the final episode of any Survivor season has devolved into.  At the actual game of Survivor we’ve been watching for close to 20 years, Chris finished in 16th place.  In my rankings of Survivor winners, he finishes dead-solid last since he is the living asterisk, the “well…”  To take my Aaron Rodgers comparison a step further, it’s like if the 2018 Packers had won a group Madden challenge against the 28 other teams, then somehow replaced the Rams in the Super Bowl.

This show really needs to get itself back on track.  It seemed like the great David vs. Goliath season was a nice step in the right direction, but then you had this mess.  I’m not sure all the giant statues of Sandra and Rob in the world can bail Survivor out.  Does the giant Sandra head have an animatronic component that curses out the other players?  That would help.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tim Conway

"The Carol Burnett Show" used to hold two tapings for each episode.  One was the "proper" taping, where the cast all performed everything to the line.  The other eventually became the looser taping, wherein the cast was encouraged to improvise.  And by the cast, I really mean Tim Conway, who made a particular sport of coming up with wacky nonsense to make his fellow actors laugh. 

The Carol Burnett Show was before my time, so I've only seen footage in various anniversary shows and best-of compilations.  Yet the common thread of all these shows was that so much of the "Best of" material came from those looser tapings --- maybe it's just human nature that the most memorable moments are the ones that were completely off the cuff and broke people up.  If you're going by just the compilations shows, poor Harvey Korman never kept a straight face in ten years.

RIP to the always funny Tim Conway

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Musical Day In The Life

If this meme seems vaguely familiar to you, that's because I'm randomly deciding to answer a meme e-mail from 2006.  Better late than never!

So, here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie
---- 7. Mark adds his own personal ranking system out of 10 as to how appropriate the song is ----

Opening Credits: One More Night -- Stars

Waking up: Voulez Vous -- ABBA
(6/10, as I rarely wake up speaking French. Or Swedish.)

First Day at High School: Holy Joe -- U2
(7/10, since while there isn't much connection on paper, I did become a U2 fan in high school)

Falling In Love: In Dreams -- Roy Orbison
(10/10, can't go wrong with Orbison)

Fight Song: Fortunate Son -- CCR

Breaking Up: Beat It -- Michael Jackson
(11/10, man, my iTunes have appropriate taste)

Prom: She's a Rebel -- Green Day
(7/10, since any woman who would attend prom with me would have to be some kind of rebel from social standards)

Life: Growin' Up -- Bruce Springsteen
(10/10, hell it's right there in the title)

Mental Breakdown: Battle Of Who Could Care Less -- Ben Folds Five
(9/10, hee hee)

Driving: Evenflow -- Pearl Jam
(7/10 studio version, 9/10 for the live version which is much faster and more conducive to a good highway-driving feel)

Getting Back Together: Rebellion (Lies) -- Arcade Fire
(6/10, I guess you're rebelling against the lies that caused the breakup by getting back together. What?)

Wedding: Rose of my Heart -- Johnny Cash

Birth of Child: Holiday in Spain -- Counting Crows
(4/10, though this could rise if any of my future children end up Spanish.)

Final Battle: Changes -- 2PAC
(5/10, unless my final battle ends up being against Biggie Smalls' ghost.)

Death Scene: Jumble Jumble -- The White Stripes
(3/10, as the song itself isn't very deathly, though Jack and Meg did go out of their way to look like Beetlejuice characters)

Funeral Song: Neon Lights -- U2
(4/10, it's slow and kind of pretty, but I don't plan to have my funeral in a place with a lot of neon lights. Unless I die in Caesar's Palace.)

End Credits: Fear -- Sarah McLachlan
(8/10, oh no, it's the end of the movie, we must flee!)

Monday, May 06, 2019


Canada Day isn't until July 1st, but get this. 

My radio presets consists of two oldies stations, two top-40/pop stations, and two rock stations.  Today, while driving around and flipping through channels, I came across a run of...

* Bryan Adams
* Drake
* Alessia Cara
* Arcade Fire
* The Tragically Hip
* Metric

....all at the exact same time! 

This is the most statistically improbable thing to happen to collection of domestic artists since the Group Of Seven were exposed to a meteor's radiation and turned into superheroes.  Marvel, if you need some fresh post-Avengers ideas, just give me a call.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Hello Sunshine

Not a reference to the weather, since it'll apparently never stop frickin' raining.  But, new Bruce Springsteen song!

Shoutout to the 2007 Danny Boyle film "Sunshine," one of the all-time examples of a movie that's amazing for the first two-thirds and then just goes off the rails in the last third.