If Manitoba lost the C-17 contract to Quebec on the same day that Quebec City lost the 2008 Men's World Hockey Championship to Winnipeg, what would more people be talking about the next day?
If the 1995 referendum had been phrased to include three possible answers rather than two, would Quebec still be part of Canada?
If city council started using public-private partnerships to build community centres in lower-income neighbourhoods, how would the local media react? And how long would it take the current mayor and council to approve at least three per district?
Seven months later, do you -- or does anybody you know -- have a clear definition of what "Spirited Energy" is?
If the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had won a Grey Cup in the last fifteen years, would Winnipeg already have a new stadium by now?
Does Jennifer Jones suddenly firing former lead Dana Allerton from her team make her seem better suited or worse suited for a career in politics?
If a gang-affiliated drug dealer were to kill a repeat car thief, who would get more support in Winnipeg's letters to the editors? (Was your answer automatically "the whiter-looking guy"?)
It's no secret at all, and I don't mind telling you straight up: a Monday-to-Friday, eight-to-four work schedule is kicking my ass.
This is the one arrangement I've never had before in my entire life, and the adjustment process has been slow and eerily similar to zombification. I wear nice shirts to work now, business casual to the letter in demeanor as well as dress, and I make better money than I've ever made before. But as a tradeoff most of my time is spent groggy or unconscious, and I'm beginning to think I can actually smell the delicious brains of people around me -- sumptuous and tender, zesty and tangy, some people say that the human brain is 90% unused anyway, I swear if I could just have a nibble of -- no! No, I must be strong. Inner strength! It helps to think of it as like being on a diet.
If it seems as though I've got zombies on the brain (...wow, uh... pun unintended), I must insist on blaming XS Cargo.
Some background, first. I've mentioned previously my love for the Xbox 360 game Dead Rising, and that love has not diminished much at all in the interval since then. The game, you see, drops your character into a mall that -- as per the grand George Romero tradition -- has been completely overrun with zombies.
George A. Romero's 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, which is arguably the greatest anything having to do with zombies that anybody has ever made, carried with it subtle underlying messages about American materialism. The protagonists barricade themselves in an empty shopping mall as their shelter from the zombies and soon take the opportunity to indulge themselves with whatever they want, ultimately realizing after a few months that their sanctuary is little better than shiny toys masking a living hell they are unable to escape. And the zombies, despite the loss of their human consciousness, swarm by the hundreds to the mall because it stands as the only thing they can now remember being important to them -- glassy-eyed wandering and unnecessary consumption remaining the order of the day, but in a different capacity. The mindless hordes are prevented from entering the mall that forms the remaining substance of their lives, and the people still alive enough to hold higher priorities are held desperate and helpless to escape the confines of their consumer prison.
And yet, despite their intentions to find a way out, the protagonists later feel an intense determination to keep the mall for themselves when another group of humans tries to enter it -- even though, by this point, there are no meaningful reasons whatsoever to have anything there. The main priority of everybody involved should be the continuing slaughter of human civilization and the horrible state of the world going on outside their current borders, rather than their seemingly insatiable drive to expand their holdings and keep their shiny toys for themselves. Alas not, and everybody involved suffers dearly for it.
(Did you read all of that up there? Seriously? Wow. I love you too!)
So! All that being said, what -- if anything -- does this have to do with the Polo Park area liquidation store XS Cargo?
Well! The Dead Rising logo features the silhouette of a zombie in front of bold and capitalized text:
Given this knowledge, and given my by now very obvious affection for zombie lore, you can understand my reaction when I saw this past weekend's XS Cargo flier:
Can you blame me, really, for being the slightest bit taken aback? Honestly! Now that I look more closely at it, that's even using the same font!
And the worst part? God help me, those silhouettes are all business casual!
I drag myself up and out each weekday, dressed nicely but severely limited in my cognitive ability, boarding a bus in the night far before any sign of the sun can be seen. I shamble and stumble through the day, exerting little intellectual activity as I paw and scrape through the rote repetition of the same tasks I performed the workday before. And yes, working downtown has meant I've been spending more money than I did before; with the comparatively vast increase in salary from my previous job, the occasional casual purchase now has less thought involved.
What do I make of this? Was this design choice as blatantly on purpose as it appears to be? Is the universe employing some bizarre meta-literary twist, foreshadowing my horrible zombified demise to me through a newspaper flier?
No. No, no, that's nonsense. Clearly this is all entirely coincidental. My imagination is just running away with me now! Ha ha! I should just ease up, think about other things, and try to distract myself by viewing the terrific bargains available in the
You know, all I wanted to do late last night was to check the bus times and find out when I needed to leave for work in the morning. But no! How dare I assume that everything is going to work out properly.
Whatever else I might have been up to that night, I believe I was specifically not looking to be told that accessible and convenient transit information is the very foundation of what we understand to be the good life and the ideal society.
Well. Good evening. Happy New Year! I trust you enjoyed yourself.
Last I'd written, I was ready and waiting to leave my previous job; I had thought to myself that this upcoming period of unemployment would last anywhere from a couple weeks up to a month. Newfound freedom! Plenty of time to chill out! Visit some family, do some writing, catch up on some reading and some neat video games, maybe see my roommates again every once in a while -- me time! Yeah!
The unemployment lasted three days.
Yeah, whee. I left my former employment at midnight on December 30th, then it went 31st, 1st, 2nd, hired. Stupid current desperate economy! Why I oughtta.
Three days is a lot less downtime than you'd think. I got to visit with my cat --
-- and I found time to draw a picture, just to see if my meager artistic talents had died from prolonged inactivity yet.
And then suddenly, here I am, working again. I got a job through Pinnacle Placement working for Investors Group, which means that I work way up in the Tower of Song in the NewPort Centre and that's all the information I'm allowed to give you without getting canned.
The view's nice from up there.
But you didn't hear that from me.
Anyway! In the bewildering and painful transition from working overnight shifts to working genuine business days, I haven't found much time to do much else but work and sleep. It wasn't until yesterday that I got around to skimming the piled newspapers of days previous, and it didn't take long at all before I regretted ever learning how to read.
Have a look at this, and see what you make of it. On page A3 of the Sunday, January 7th Winnipeg Free Press:
Let that all sink in for a second.
Yes, folks, Fred Brick of Brick's Fine Furniture deigns to tell you that "this generation", meaning anybody young enough to grasp video games (and by that he means anybody capable of following a ball around a screen), is specifically out to ruin television and radio for him. "I find them most aggravating and I'm not alone!"
Negative blanket statements about entire segments of the population are big business!
I find myself completely unclear on how this is supposed to draw people into his establishment. ('Mind-boggling annoying promos', indeed.)
"I, too," a crotchety senior citizen must theoretically be exclaiming somewhere, "am incapable of understanding Pong! I loathe the younger generation with their Atari games and their properly proofread advertising! GOD I NEED TO BUY A BEDROOM AND DINING SET SO BAD RIGHT NOW" and then off they go, rushing as fast as they can, to The Brick by mistake because old people are notoriously bad at reading the very small print lining the bottom of advertisements.
My question to you, Fred Brick, of Brick's Fine Furniture -- how the stone hell did you land prominent editorial space on page three? Is it seriously as simple as buying advertising room and writing in whatever incomprehensible nonsense you feel like? And, more importantly, how can I get in on this?
I mean, man! Clearly I've been going about this all wrong. The ticket to securing steady mainstream exposure for the fruit of your intellectual labour isn't won by a balanced approach to complex issues, an eye for a captivating story, a love of the written word, or the hard-earned respect of your audience and peers -- all you need is influence in the business community and a fat wad of cash!
Well, folks, just you wait! One day, I'll have that coveted spot on the opening pages of our venerable and respected city paper -- and there'll be nobody to stop me from delivering the hard-hitting journalism and carefully-phrased editorial wisdom that Winnipeg deserves! A sneak peek:
James Hope Howard is a currently-job-hunting Librarian, a current affairs panelist on 101.5 UMFM's Winnipeg Internet Pundits, a competitive gaming stream commentator for Chip Damage, and the reigning five-time Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown champion of Winnipeg. Plus other duties as assigned.
He blogs in his spare time.
Views and opinions expressed on this site are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the institutions or outlets mentioned above.
"Slurpee" is a registered trademark of 7-Eleven, Inc., a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings Co. Ltd.; neither this site nor its writer are affiliated in any way with either entity. "Murder" is the unlawful killing of one human being by another, intentionally and with malicious premeditation; neither this site nor its writer are affiliated in any way with the act.
I may, from time to time, indulge in certain words that are considered profane or vulgar. Please be forewarned.
All MP3s posted on this page are provided for sample purposes and are intended to promote the purchase of their original album or source; please contact jameshowardresearch (at) yahoo.com to remove material that you would prefer not be shared.