Saturday, November 17, 2012

What's in a miscommunication?

For those who know or don't know, today is the third anniversary of the night I finally worked up the gumption to send a message to a cute-looking girl with an interesting profile on a dating website.  Three years from that day, and I'm now sitting on her couch while she takes a brief nap on the couch next to me.  I look across to her and see.. well it's not her face, she's turned to face the back of her couch.  But if it were her face, I'd tell you of the angelic bliss I see in her visage as she slumbers peacefully.  As such, the current view is also quite gratifying.  Boy, she's gonna be mad at me when she reads this entry.  What can I say?  Being a stinker once in awhile is part of the fun of sharing a love with someone.

So you'll be happy to know that barring her being upset with me for the above paragraph, the eponymous miscommunication is not about us.  It's a work snafu.  See, originally, the plan was for me to work this morning.  And if I'd worked this morning, I wouldn't have been able to be with her until late this afternoon or possibly this evening given traffic (they really need to add more lanes on the Trans-Canada between the Cloverdale exit and the Highway 7 exit, but I digress).  Thankfully, there was a foul-up in communication, and someone else is working today.  It would've been nice to work today, make a little extra money, but the fiance was really excited about me coming up this afternoon because it's the first anniversary that we've actually been able to be together in person rather than on the internet or over the phone.  So if she was excited about having the last maybe 7 hours of the day with me, imagine her excitement when I showed up at her door last night ready to spend ALL of today with her!  She's excited, even if her sleeping state doesn't scream enthusiasm.

So, whether you believe that all things happen for a reason or just love a good mix-up, the point is when I called the other person to discuss the schedule foul-up, she said she'd planned on me working this morning, but would be willing to do it if I wanted it off.  So, when an opportunity strikes grab it.  I  did.  It's how I got to spend the whole anniversary with the woman I love.  It's how I got my fiance in the first place.

Happy anniversary, Erica.  I wouldn't switch lives with anyone because I have you.  I love you.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's in a joke or five?

Five Jokes With Which Drew Carey Is Ruining “The Price Is Right”

No question about it: The Price Is Right is one of the greatest, arguably THE greatest, and most enduring game shows of all time.  A lot of this has been due to the fun of playing along at home with the games, a lot of it has been allure of the models over the years, but undeniably, the greatest factor was the show’s host who will forever be directly associated with the program, Bob Barker.  And a lot of good people were dismayed when the reins were handed over to comedian and star of two retired shows on ABC, Drew Carey. 

In all fairness to Drew, Bob Barker is irreplaceable, and Carey was a better choice than some of the other ones the rumor mill was predicting, such as Rosie O’Donnell.  It’s never fun to be the man to have to fill a legend’s shoes, knowing you’ll always be in his shadow.  Drew realizes that, even taking it as a compliment for the first couple years, when people kept calling him “Bob.”  It places you in an instant catch-twenty-two.  If you try to carry the torch by imitating the master, then you’re ridiculed for just being a copycat; if you try to add your own twist to the job, you’re reviled for taking away from the show and not honoring the master’s legacy.  To that end, Drew Carey’s had the good sense to bite the bullet and make the job his own, trying to maintain a balance between the tradition and the reality that Bob’s not coming back, which to his credit, he actually does a good job of.

One of the ways he does this is in the jokes he makes.  Bob made jokes on the show, but as a professional comedian, Drew has a different style that makes the job his.  However, as any professional comedian will also tell you, making your stuff translate to network TV is no small task.  Drew Carey has found this out the hard way, and thankfully he has adjusted the jokes, and has even stopped telling ones that were just bombing (“Ezekiel Barker” when playing the old Barker’s Bargain Bar before that game got a makeover; joking about two completely unrelated products going together).  Here are five more that desperately need to go:

#5: “The ol’ Price Is Right clock on the wall”

When you hear it: before they call the final contestant down to Contestants’ Row.

Why he does it exposition really.  For those just tuning in who aren’t sure where in the program they are.  It also calls attention to the fact that there’s one pricing game left, trying to instill a sense of urgency in the one who’s called down and the three still there.

Why it needs to go: for starters, there’s no clock that we see.  When he does that joke, they cut to George Gray at the announcer’s podium, and they show a computer image of a clock with the hands going round.  Maybe I’m alone in this, but I kinda miss the less-computerized things they did: from the giant backdrops depicting a prize trip, which have been replaced with LCD screens; to the old lights on the Temptation game that now show scrolling numbers.  This display of a clock just irritates me further.  I’d rather they have a prop clock with the cuckoo bird holding a sign that reads “One More Contestant!” than see that digital display.  But more importantly, The Price Is Right is too well established as a television institution for this joke.  People who are just tuning in know that the show is winding down by this point.  We know it by heart now: three games, showcase showdown, three more games, another showcase showdown, and the final showcase.  This joke is more of an insult to the audience than a bit of humor.  Lastly, this joke ruins the illusion of relaxed pacing that we’ve all enjoyed.  It’s about fun, not making the show run on time.  With a few exceptions, like urging a contestant who doesn’t know what to bid and takes awhile to decide or the games that run on a timer, the show has always had the illusion of a Jack Benny kind of “We get there when we get there” pace to it, even incorporating the timer games into that pace so it never seems rushed.  This joke erodes that tent pole in the festival of fun.

#4: “One of our luckiest models!”

When you hear it: when playing a game that involves one of the models doing something functional in the gameplay and/or one of the games with a higher chance factor involved than other games.

Why he does it: to give the contestants more confidence, to create and nurture an atmosphere of well-wishing that includes not just him, but everyone, including the models.

Why it needs to stop: in all fairness, this joke really isn’t supposed to be all that funny, so the fact that it’s not funny really isn’t a strike against him.  What is a strike though is the execution of the joke, as quite often he’ll engage said model in baiting banter, asking her if she’s feeling lucky.  Right on cue, she says, “I feel lucky!”  This is irritating because we know what she’ll say.  I mean, what else is she gonna say?  This is just unnecessary dialogue.  I’m not against having the models speak or anything chauvinistic like that—I actually like it when Drew pauses for a sec to ask the model what song she’s pretending to sing when the item up for bids is a karaoke machine.  But the fake enthusiasm the model is expected to exhibit makes high school cheerleaders look like Flavor Flav-league hype-people.  And also, of all the ways luck comes into play, the involvement on the part of the model is really the least of them.  Not to mention that there are some people who will take that joke seriously and attempt to calculate the Model’s Luck Coefficient. .  Lastly, making the models out to be little more than good luck charms is more objectifying than pure chauvinism, as they’re no longer eye candy, but bracelets on the wrist.

#3: “The greatest game in the world!”

When you hear it: when they play Rat Race.

Why he does it: it’s a game that he helped create and develop.

Why it needs to stop: for starters the game pretty much sucks.  It’s one of the most chance-determined games they have.  You can do everything right and still end up with the least of the three possible prizes.  It’s not the most popular game; that would be Plinko, which ironically enough is even more chance-riddled than Rat Race.  True you can win three prizes, including a car, but you can also do that with Master Key, Ten Chances, and even better than that with Switcheroo.  For anticipation, there have been better ways to do it than watching wind up mechanical rats, such as watching the mountain climber ascend during Cliff Hangers.  The joke’s not funny because it’s obvious the humor comes from his pride of ownership.  Also, claiming one game as the best of all is insinuation that there are games that aren’t fun.

#2: “Look out!  Try not to collide!”

When you hear it: when the models have to switch sides in the game Switch?

Why he does it: the thought of two models possibly colliding seems somehow funny to him.

Why it needs to stop: where do I start with this one?  Is it the assumption that on a 2-D television screen, the viewer will forget that life happens in a three-dimensional world?  Is it the thought that the models aren’t smart enough to walk and carry a sign at the same time?  Is it the fact that it’s a completely unnecessary gag during the filler music that plays while they switch places?  Is it the fact that if the contestant doesn’t wish to switch, Drew jokes about a potential crisis averted?  You guessed it, all of the above.  This joke is a failure on just about every level.  It was even funny the first time he did it, it’s still not funny now.

#1: “Oh, mighty sound effects lady…”

When you hear it: when they play One Away

Why he does it: it builds anticipation and tension, and Bob Barker did this joke, too…sort of.

Why it needs to stop: let’s start with the fact that this takes Bob’s original bit to ridiculous proportions.  Bob made the contestant ask nicely using “Ladies” or “Gentlemen”, and say please, or say a specific phrase.  And that’s fair.  The sound effects people are union, work-a-day people, and when Bob asks on their behalf that the contestant address them politely, that’s just looking out for the little guy.  By contrast, Drew makes the contestants flat-out grovel, to the point of deifying the sound effects lady.  The sound effects person does not have THAT much control.  The sound effects person just lets you know how many numbers you got right.  That’s it.  They’ve got higher-ups to answer to if they don’t do their damn job.  There’s no need to humiliate the contestant (any further than they embarrass themselves that is).  Also, it drags the game on forever.  Remember the clock on the wall that tampered with pacing by instilling a false rush?  This is the joke that drags the pace of the show down by Drew actually slowing it down.  He demonstrates how the contestant needs to ask with slow enunciation, and as expected, the contestant emulates the very slow beseeching of the sound effects lady’s favor.  This bit is so annoying that it has wrecked the game for me.  One Away used to be one of my favorite games on The Price Is Right, now I mute the TV when they play the game, and sometimes change the channel, because even without sound, it’s painful to watch.  If the mighty sound effects lady had as much control as Drew makes her out to have, she’d play some goofy sound effects over Drew Carey’s demonstration so the rest of us could get a genuine laugh, for a change. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's in a vacation?

Last week, I finally had the opportunity to introduce my fiancée to my family.  I can’t tell you how nervous I was about it.  While I’m not completely attached to my family, I discovered that it was extremely important to me that they at least be able to be happy for me.  I didn’t quite need their approval of her, just that they be able to be happy for me.  That seems easy enough, but it hasn’t really happened before.  My first girlfriend, they were less than thrilled with.  My second girlfriend, I never even told them about while I was dating her (well, two of my siblings knew, but the rest of the family remained oblivious). 

Now, this is a tightrope to walk to explain: my family aren’t flint-hearted villains who don’t want me to be happy, and I’m not the kind of guy who’d be devastated and would break it off if they didn’t approve or couldn’t be happy for me.  But if the family isn’t happy for me, then there’s probably something I’m not seeing or considering, that love is blindsiding me to.  So I was a little concerned as to how the week would go.

And it was a hectic week.  The main purpose of the visit wasn’t for them to meet my fiancée, but to attend my little sister’s wedding.  And also, my brother was in town with his wife and kids, and while I’d met them, my other siblings hadn’t.  So this was a full plate for the family, and we could very easily have gotten lost in the shuffle.

In some ways we did.  We stayed in a hotel since the aforementioned brother and family were staying with my parents, so we were separated from the family in that way.  And much of the time was spent seeing sights that at one time or another meant a lot to me.  Still there was time for the family, all four siblings and almost all my nieces and nephews (and one smelly rat disguised as a dog).  I don’t know which sibling got to know my fiancée best, or if my parents got that chance the most.

All I can really tell you is the results: one brother said he would start calling my fiancée “sis”; the other brother said he’s never seen me happier than I am with her, one sibling has added her as a Facebook friend (as did the sister’s fiancée and two of her children), the other sister….well she ‘s the one that got married, so let’s let the lovebirds finish honeymooning first, shall we?  (Though the new bro-in-law has also friended her on FB too).

As for my parents?  Well, they’re parents.  They have concerns a-plenty.  Most of it entails either the legal falderal that awaits us or things that are directly affected by aforementioned falderal.  They're happy for me though, and they're looking forward to our wedding.

Normally when I post to this blog, I try to have something learned along the way, or something important to say.  I don’t know if I have that this time.  I learned some things this past week sure, but nothing too grandiose that could be the moral lesson on an episode of “South Park” or anything like that.  To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the whole experience.  I really wish I’d had more time to spend with my siblings to get them to know my fiancée better.  And the major upside of it all is that we feel ready to start planning our wedding, hopefully in April,

So um.. I guess the moral is get your passports renewed, because it’ll probably be in Canada.