Monday, December 31, 2007

Hard at Work, Furtively

Good evening! And an upcoming Happy New Year to all.

(It's a lot easier to greet people with "Happy New Year" than with "Merry Christmas" because you can be pretty sure that everybody celebrates the New Year. Don't let the concept of Chinese New Year throw you!)

When I said in my previous entry that I might have two or three posts left in me, I suppose in retrospect that I exaggerated a bit.

Don't think I've forgotten you, though! When I haven't been scouting graduate schools -- or lying around playing video games, because I am what I am -- I've actually spent the days since Christmas working surreptitiously on a nice surprise for you guys.

It's not quite done yet, but it's coming -- so watch for that! It won't be done this year, since this year has about three and a half hours left in it, but it'll be along soon enough.

You'll know it when you see it! Trust me!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Almost Forgot to Mention

As you're well aware, the festive season we find ourselves in is busy for everybody involved -- and I've been so preoccupied with other various things that I nearly forgot to once again plug myself shamelessly.

When I say "Uptown", you say "Mag"!


Well, that's a bit better. We're getting there.

Stand strong, true believers! I'm sure I've got two or three posts left in me yet before the year is done, so feel free to meander back from time to time when you have a free moment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Door Opens, Another Shuts

So the emptied United Army Surplus building -- which you'll recall I'd written about previously -- has been bought by the University of Winnipeg with the intention of converting it into bookstore space. And other miscellaneous retail space, if they can squeeze it in.

Good! That's definite progress, and I'm happy to read this news.

Uptown readers will remember that I'd hoped the University would buy up the A&B Sound building. The old United Army Surplus store may not be the distinctively tricoloured, outlandishly large, prominently vacant downtown building that I'd specifically thought of -- but you have to admit, I was damn close on this one!

The University of Winnipeg gets more space (and oh boy have they been snapping up whatever they can find lately), and our downtown becomes the slightest bit less empty. I can dig it! Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that we'll lose that hilariously anachronistic "WARNING" sign atop the building; such are the sacrifices made in the name of progress.

God, I love that sign.

I wonder -- who would I contact at the University of Winnipeg about buying those charming handpainted signs on east wall of the building? Those would be kind of nice to have, as a quaint sort of local novelty item. How often do you see people handpainting huge signs anymore? I mean, really now!

In the meantime, another longstanding Winnipeg institution hangs in the balance; Pollock Hardware is on the bubble, and unless its nearby supporters come up with a plan pronto the place will be liquidated and quietly boarded up. Which is nothing new for buildings on Main Street, granted, but isn't exactly the best option available -- and I can guarantee with reasonable certainty that the University of Winnipeg probably wouldn't buy this one up, considering its comparative location.

(Most city powerbrokers are quite happy to pretend that the entirety of Main Street vanishes just north of the Museum. It's more palatable that way.)

Man, bad year for local business mainstays! The old Canadian Tire at Isabel and Notre Dame was closed up back in April, Surplus went belly-up in the summer, and now Pollock Hardware is singing its swan song; would it be giving our fine Mayor too much credit to assume this is part of his grand plan to keep stores from selling spray paint to minors? He's very serious about it, you know! You get 'em, Sam!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Don't Give a Hoot About Eyewear

I operate on the assumption, most of the time, that the average passerby in our fair city is not necessarily as internet savvy as you or I. This seems a reasonable assumption to make -- and when somebody, for example, chooses 'OMG' as the name of their company, I usually take it as a given that they probably didn't consider the online connotations of their choice. (On the other end of the spectrum are folks like All Your Base Computers, who clearly know their audience very well.)

But then there are times when I'm genuinely unsure about this assumption. Because sometimes a man just runs into something, stares at it for a few seconds, and announces aloud to himself that these people can't not know what they're doing.

This is one of those times.

Osborne Village has a reputation as being a particularly hip and with-it area of town, as one of the places to be to stay on top of trends and cultural movements. In the heart of Osborne Village lies this spectacles store, a store that many denizens of our fair city pass by countless times without a second thought -- but as late they've had a message on their sign that makes me stop and ponder it every time I go past.

What, you may ask yourself, am I going on about this time? Let's have a closer look:

"O RLY".

"O RLY"?

I get that it combines with the above line to form "naturally" -- er, sort of -- but to what end? Did "NATURALLY" not fit on the board when they tried it? Are they trying to suggest a link between poor eyesight and poor spelling? Is this genuinely a reference to the internet meme, and I'm supposed to mentally link the store's products to the superior eyesight normally reserved for owls? Who decided to put this up onto the sign, and why?






There are a lot of mysteries around here.

Be sure to tune in next time, when somebody writes "STFU NOOB" on the Convention Centre sign and my brain makes a quiet sizzling noise!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wakka Wakka Wakka Wakka

Well! That was a sizeable chunk of inactivity. Hello again, everybody!

As you could probably imagine from recent posts (and from the subsequent lack of recent posts), I've been pretty tired and burnt out -- so this past week I finally bit the bullet and quit my poorly paid, dehumanizing temp job. It was a long time coming, and it was brought on by a variety of reasons, so I'm not sad to see it go. (Plus they were going to make me work Christmas Eve. Nice try, buddies! I've been down that road before, and several times at that!)

I mean, yes, money is never in terribly ample supply for me -- but I figured, what the hell. I was obviously getting nowhere near any ladders of promotion or windows of opportunity, I've bankrolled just enough to see me through the Christmas season, and I can find something else once the new year hits and I've decided what I'm doing with my education.

Besides all that, I can safely say that my financial security is about to get a whole lot better -- because I am just about to win $25,000!

Yes, that's right! It's Pac-Man! In convenient scratch-ticket format!

We're all familiar with Pac-Man; it's a simple game, and it's an easy game. Surely the scratch ticket version will be equally effortless!

I've even got audio tutorials and accompanying music to see me through!

Curtis Hoard - Pac-Man (Conquer the Video Craze, 1982)

Kid Koala - Fender Bender (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, 2000)
[buy | site | myspace]

As you can see, I can't lose! Let the heavens sing my name -- my fame and fortune await! So watch carefully, folks; with just a few flicks of a coin, my present and future financial well-being is





what is this shit i can't even have my two dollars back













Okay. I've got it. I am a rational man, and I have thought about it rationally, so I understand what has just happened here.

The convenience store clerk scammed me somehow and stole my winning ticket.

This is the only reasonable explanation. It happens all the time, I heard it on the news. Can't trust any of them, I swear.

I have once again learned a valuable seasonal lesson, and that lesson is to HATE EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY OH GOD SO ANGRY



Ahem. Anyway!

Since I've rid myself of my unreasonable day job, I'll be able to work on clearing up the extensive backlog of posts I've been meaning to write here; I'll also be able to dive headfirst into the whole graduate school dance, try and track down a few former professors, and take the rapidly growing puppy on walks she quite obviously needs.

I'm counting this as my Christmas vacation time, folks! Expect to see a lot of me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Dam Bursts

Good lord, it's finally happened. I've hit the point where I'm actually, legitimately considering the idea of applying for graduate school.

GRADUATE SCHOOL. What the hell.

Now, of course I can't afford graduate school; I could barely afford the first degree I got, and that's even taking into account that I got it from the threadbare bargain store of education that is the University of Manitoba. But my employment history to date has been such a mortifying chain of underachievements and disappoinments that something has to be done, even if it means throwing good money after bad and chasing a second piece of paper even after the first got me nowhere.

Consider this: you know those applications that you have to send to universities just to even be considered for admission? It costs minimum fifty bucks a pop just to file the application. (Yes, really. And that's lowballing it! For example, the Universities of British Columbia and Saskatchewan ask $90; Queen's, and the University of Regina, ask $85; the University of Alberta says 'screw it' and demands the full $100.) And each application must be accompanied by at least one official transcript; these transcripts, despite being mere sheets of paper with my own numbers on them, will cost me ten dollars each. (Yes, really.)

So if I apply to four or five schools, hoping reasonably that I might get into at least one of them -- I will actually be spending more money than I make in a week. And I work full-time! At a dollar fifty above the current minimum wage, no less!

Such is the whimsy and merriment that I have to look forward to, if somebody doesn't smarten me up and talk me out of it first.

Bloody graduate school, I swear. Rasserfrackin' mumble grumble why I oughtta.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I've Been Better

First things first -- it's that time again!

When I say "Uptown", you say "Mag"!


Okay, we'll work on that later.

You can read my article by picking up a copy of this week's issue -- available now! -- or peruse the electronic version at your leisure. What am I up to this week? Well, not to spoil the column too much for you, but those of you more familiar with my oeuvre have heard me ask this before:

Why is this building still empty?

My previous posts on the subject are now tagged, for her pleasure for your convenience.

Uptown and ugly buildings aside, what's new with me? I haven't had the chance to post everything I've been wanting to, so obviously I've been sidetracked. By what? Why, by work stress and by my own failing personal health, that's what!

To wit, and to recap -- I last posted here on Tuesday. Wednesday I woke up feeling a bit sick, but shrugged it off and went in to work; midday at work I was given an hour's notice to clear everything off my desk, then immediately moved to another department. As this was the third department I'd been assigned to in the past calendar week, you can imagine how I felt about that. (I may have taken this better if I hadn't been feeling increasingly unwell.) And the work day starts an hour earlier for this job, which is probably their way of telling me that they don't actually like me.

Speaking of which: in talking to another employee (an actual employee, one that doesn't have a quarter of her wage chopped off and diverted to a temp agency) and giving her the backstory that I've worked in five different departments with this same company since January, she widened her eyes in genuine surprise and asked in a tone of amazement: "And they still haven't hired you on permanently?" No. Clearly, they haven't. Thanks for that, though.

Thursday morning I woke up quite conclusively ill, but dragged myself to work as best I could regardless. I'm too noble to miss my 'first day' of work at a 'new' job, and I'm too stubborn to admit when I'm obviously out of commission, so in I went; halfway through the day I was sent home, partially because the work wasn't coming in as expected but mostly because I was almost immobile by that point.

I got home, slept ten straight hours, woke up feeling worse still, and spent the night hovering in and out of consciousness before finally calling in sick this morning.

And here I am! It is Friday evening, and here I am -- lapsing in and out of ineffective recovery rest and weighing the comparative benefits and drawbacks of dying in my sleep.

It hurts to swallow, it hurts to turn my head, I feel freezing cold under three blankets with a heater running full blast, and -- to paraphrase Captain Murphy -- my lymph nodes are as big as cats. It could be strep throat, the flu, tonsilitis, or some combination of the three; it could be a voodoo curse, an unknown karmic backlash, or West Nile contracted from a mosquito so tough that the deadly winter weather just led it to grow fur. I'm hoping my immune system can just armour up and kill it, whatever it is; I'm a busy man with things to do, and it's hard to get stuff done when you're wincing every fifteen seconds.

Things could be better, you guys!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Not Gonna Get You a Diamond Ring

Last year it took me a full month before I finally got around to posting about the annual parade; keeping that in mind is what makes me feel comparatively good about the idea of getting it out this year within about a couple weeks of the original event.

I mention this because I'm finally getting around to moving all the photos off my ol' digital camera, and even that is really only because I've nearly filled the sucker up completely (!). In looking at these pictures, I figure that these cover at least five different subjects spanning three different notable days; clearly I've got good times with formatting ahead of me.

And there are still some planned posts I haven't even started photographing yet. 'Tis the season for immense backlog!

So, first things first. For the sake of progress, let's get an unrelated one-shot out of the way.

We're now into the Christmas season -- as you may have noticed, if you've had to go outside or interact with people in the last couple of weeks -- and the onset of Christmas shopping means that retailers have to ready their marketing strategies and get their best foot forward to draw in the fickle consumer and the almighty dollar.

Some advertisers will go retro, and others will go current; some will go subtle, and others will go brazen; some will produce rational and well thought out promotional material, and others will go work for Warehouse One the Jean Store.

Have you passed by a Warehouse One recently? If you have, I don't doubt for a second you've probably noticed that something seems a little off about their promo pictures. And if you haven't been near one as late, behold as I beheld the imagery that they have chosen as their Christmas marketing plan:

Step one: cut a hole in the box--





I like a good Saturday Night Live callback as much as the next guy -- and having said that, I intend to die in slow-motion from a gunshot wound while Imogen Heap plays in the background -- but really, now. Does this picture make you want to buy jeans?

I know that some of our younger readers may still be impressionable and subject to the influence of mass media imagery, so let me serve as a paragon of virtue on this point: do not try this at home ever. Regardless of how keen a sense of humour your sweet babboo has, the odds are prohibitively high that this will be a fiercely bad idea no matter where you bought your pants from.

And if this Christmas you rack your brain for ideas and genuinely decide that your best bet is to dress fancy in Warehouse One jeans and give your girlfriend a Dick in a Box -- guess what! You are going to get no sympathy from anyone when you're explaining why you're single on New Year's Eve.

Warehouse One is trying to trick you! Do not be fooled! I can't promise that I won't laugh uproariously at your misfortune, but I might feel bad about it later!

And underneath it says 'Affordable', ye gads. "Well, dear, I've been a little short lately, so--wait, no, I mean--uh--"

Man, and this isn't even the worst promotional material I've seen recently. Stay tuned, gentle readers! The world only rolls downhill from here!