Sunday, September 30, 2007

JPod Ripoff #1 Living Cartoon Profile

Name:Niteowl, the

Name People Actually Use:Gin-soaked semi-coherent programmer of questionable merit; that guy, over there, you know, that guy; some intern with a surprisingly long term appointment; Old Man Smith; 30-something that still plays video games.

Preferred Room Temperature:
anything that doesn't result in internal hemorrhaging from the ICE crystals that are formed in my blood from the liberal application of 100% UNCUT FREON to the air ducts (which are the chief proponent of the ironically named Climate Control System (I guess Department Wide Morale Breaking System was taken)).

Favourite Game:
Yahtzee!! No, just kidding, I have no idea what that game is or how it's played. I think there are dice involved. I suspect it's really just a tamed down version of craps. But then I suspect all dice games are tamed down versions of craps. Except D&D. Back to the subject, favourite game? Toughy. That's like asking God who her favourite children are. I'm sure she has a few, but she feels guilty about having them as favourite, and they aren't who you'd think they'd be. So I guess I'll just say it's some game 97% of geeks have never heard of (let alone you normal people (and bots!) who read this blog), and leave it at that.

Preferred Simpson's Character:
Moe, because he's so damn tragic. And he has the greatest comeback ever to Bart's prank phone calling. Oh, and Comic Book Guy, because humour is funniest when it's so very true.

Preferred Karaoke Song:
I don't do Karaoke -- publicly, or sober, of course. But forced to pick one, it'd be "Rocket Man", by Elton John. Because it reminds me of Buck Rogers and his devil-may-care attitude about How Things Are Done in the Civilized 25 Century. He had ideas so wacky from the ancient 20th Century that, by god, they just might work. Good ol' Buck.

Food group most prevalent in work cubicle:
According to a past co-worker, something that smells like "Dead skunk" (seasoned costco chicken breasts, apparently). That was the past. Now it consists mainly of the smooth taste of Diet Coke. MMmm! That's Asparliscious!

And in a desperate effort to get comments, any comments, let's hear some Living Cartoon Profiles from some of you? Or at least a few of the traits, don't have to do the whole profile.

Friday, September 28, 2007


So my Literary Book reading of the moment is JPod, by Douglas Coupland. So far, I like it. Although I hear later on Coupland pulls a Stephen King and starts inserting himself, and that might dampen my opinion of it somewhat.

But! The witty banter and entertaining email templates they send back and forth I found inspiring. I know JPod was supposed to be this really depressing dystopian group that has been caught, Kafkaesque, in the backwaters of some multinational conglomerate; but hell, it looks like they have a good time.

What's most important to note is that I'll be using their email templates as fodder for this blog. Some sort of wish fulfillment on my part. Perhaps somewhere the universe will listen and plunk me into a working cubicle group just like Jpod. My current group is sort of like JPod, actually, except more penis references, and a brand of humour that can only be labelled as post 90's two-drinks-from-alcohol-poisoning-frat-boy-chic. Oh, wait, there is a link to the ProdBlog on this blog, so for those of you who have ventured to click on the link (don't do it now, it's too late, and you can never unread the sort of crass, half-brain dead humour that sends us HOWLING into the aisles) you'll know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Fitting End

What follows are what I hope is the somewhat entertaining email trail leading up to our spectacular defeat in the Staff Bocce semis. Yes, I'm lazy, I know.

From: Larry
Subject: Bocce Tournament Semis

As pursuant to articles 83 through to and including III. V. a subsection K, clause 301982 of the "International Office Workers Bocce Tournament Agreement, Rules, Stipulations and Errata", I hereby officially initiate a bocce match between:
John and Jane
Jim and Mike

This will be a single knock out match, side-bets and over under percentages are still pending from Vegas.

Please keep it clean, the organizers of this bocce tournament would like to re-iterate that they do not officially condone eye-gouging, fish-hooking, or well placed elbows to the unsuspecting mid-section.

The date is set for:
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 A.D.

Match is to be played at:
Bocce Bloodbath Pitch of Death (aka, whatever that scraggly, root infested bit of lawn is called in front of Smith Hall)

I hereby fulfill my responsibilities and wish all particpants good luck and God Speed.

Steering Head Committee Co-Chair Vice-President
Prod Bloc Bocce Scheduling Working Sub-Group


From: Jane
Subject: RE: Bocce Tournament Semis

We see your match and raise you three oxen and two of your children.

Noon on Wednesday, September 19th would suffice.



From: Mike
Subject: RE: Bocce Tournament Semis

You take all 3 and it’s a deal!


From: Larry
Subject: RE: Bocce Tournament Semis

Intentional ‘throwing’ of the game is strictly forbidden Mike.

We are watching you.

The Committee will need to see the oxen before hand, to ensure they are indeed oxen and not, say, overly aggressive cows with a penchant for pulling.

Children need not be inspected, but they should be the offspring of the bettor and not -- as has previously been the case -- the local urchins with a song on their lips and a well-rehearsed kicky dance number at the ready.

Jim, as he has no children, and is apparently allergic to the very sight of them, offers up one large, delightfully delectable tuna casserole.

Steering Head Committee Co-Chair Vice-President
Prod Bloc Bocce Scheduling Working Sub-Group


From: Jane
Subject: RE: Bocce Tournament Semis

Dear opponents,

We are having a lawyer check into the stipulations cited below.

Let us know if Smith lawn at 12pm on Wednesday September 19th works for you.




From: Larry
Subject: RE: Bocce Tournament Semis
Dear Soon To Be Crushed Underneath The Feet of the Never Before Defeated and Never Will Be Vanquished Prod Bloc (not to be confused with Soviet Bloc, who, while terrifying, obviously had an unnatural preference for the colour red),

Your lawyer is not fit to lick the boot-heels of our well-paid, homicidally dedicated crack team of Notary Publics. They not only read every word, they re-read it and then double check for both British and American grammar. Prepare to be riddled with quid-pro quos and other Latin phrases that may or may not mean you’ll be handing over your personal property to a large multi-national bank.

Vis-à-vis changing venues, I’ve consulted The Athletes, and they are not unamenable to changing it from the honourable and storied Bocce Bloodbath Pitch of Death, to the shifty, accursed and frankly, Communist sounding Smith Lawn. Since you have an aversion to dabbling, is ‘puttering about’ still on the table? We hope meddling is still kosher as well.

The day of the furious bocce action is deemed acceptable by The Athletes.

They will not be submitting to drug testing.

May you Cower in Fear,

Steering Head Committee Co-Chair Vice-President
Prod Bloc Bocce Scheduling Working Sub-Group

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


One can never have enough posts about bocce. It's a breezy, outdoorsy sport, and can get you in the good graces of not a few Italian octogenarians. Which is another thing you can never have enough of. For some reason people from the Old World seem to hold the secrets to all things 'authentic'. Large, all-encompassing ideas like 'masculinity', and 'what it means to be a man', perhaps 'the proper way to fold your formal slacks'.

This generation -- and by this generation, I mean the swath of people who speak sarcasm as a first language, sincerity as a distant third, and tend to speak most of their time in permanent air quotes-- longs for things that are genuine and authentic. Maybe that's why the men of this generation love the Godfather so much. There is a code, there's honour, there's brutal killing in the name of family loyalty. What guy doesnt' want that?

And so maybe that's why my work was drawn to bocce. A way to get in touch with the Old World. Even if the Old World wasn't exactly my Old World, you take authenticity where you can get it.

Our team, which consisted of four people (two which play any one match), all assuredly not Old World, all assuredly speaking almost exclusively in air quotes, had climbed to near the top of the tournament. Through guile and a few lucky arbitrary bounces from exposed roots, we had made it to the semis.

Now, I wasn't playing, no, I was in charge of organizing it, which is another story for another time. There were many emails exchanged. Not a small amount of trash talking. This was bad karma. As Lady Justice would have it, the people who I so unjustly made fun of were near pro level. I think they practiced. I wouldn't be surprised if the older gent had a small endorsement deal with a seer sucker pants company. Maybe a small print ad in Competitive Bocce Quarterly.

But hell, the boys we fielded were strapping lads. Known to play a game or three of hockey. A sport singularly known for allowing fighting and only getting really upset at the violence when people go paralyzed. Players of such a sport could surely give any mere bocce player a run for their money? Not so much.

To make matters more.. uhm.. compliant to our winning, when it was our teams turn to set up the target, we would HURL the target UPHILL as far as we possible could. One of the opponents, it appeared, was not overly gifted in the upper body strength department.

Even this shady tactic didn't work.

The Cup for the bocce tournament was not meant to be ours. I think we might have bro-- ok, I might have broken some unspoken rules about trash talking opponents I don't even know over email. What can I say? I was egged. Or I was bored. Either one. And then the team that we fielded held less than stellar ethical concerns over an intramural work bocce tournament. I guess playing a game where hitting is expected tends to dull finer sensibilities.

In the end, I think the gods of the Old World taught this little worker-bee something authentic about sportsmanship.

When do we get to whack people?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy Fun Ball™

Anyone remember that SNL skit about Happy Fun Ball™, that marvellous device that was happy, fun, yet surprisingly dangerous? On the surface, everything was hunky dory. It was everything you were looking for in a toy. It brought back the collective memory of 1950's America, clean, happy, with Everything In It's Place. There were just some stipulations, addendum, and quid pro quos that one had to obey to avoid nasty, random consequences (like, say, nuclear holocaust).

I firmly believe there are many Happy Fun Balls in the world. Not literally mind you (barring any that might be in possession of the darker parts of the US Government), just people that make you realize Happy Fun Ball was a very real universal metaphor.

There you are, trying to appear to be enjoying yourself at the latest Adult Forced Socialization Event -- be it work or a strata meeting or Block Watch -- and suddenly you find yourself talking to a really optimistic, shiny happy bright guy. He dresses like the hipper portions of the Sears catalogue (which are just not overtly square), he talks with an oddly clean sense of humour and a cheery outlook on life.

You wonder, perhaps too late, why no one else is chatting with this positive chap that makes Mary Poppins look like a five dollar crack whore cornering you behind the Bob's Rifles, Liquor and Adult Magazine Store (only because, hey, you thought you and your boys could stand to finish off another forty of Gray Goose, and this part of town isn't that bad) with a crooked smile, a broken bottle, and skin that looks like she might have had intimate relations with a sand blaster.

You catch out of the corner of your eye, the other people at the gathering giving you furtive, pitying glances. Like you are a fluffy bunny caught in the jaws of a long forgotten bear trap. Others look at you with a grim satisfaction, as if they were in your place not too long ago, and still bear the scars.

Time slows. Your mind -- the part that asks no questions and takes things at face value, the part that suckers you into buying a lottery ticket when the jackpot is some obscene number -- is quite happy to have found someone so energetic and so positive. So much better than the disaffected youth of, well, pretty much every era since man could feel disaffectation. What a gold mine! Why can't we all be as positive as this great guy! Bursting with verve and positivity! You might even make a silent promise to yourself to be more like this person, every day! Every day is a new day! A rebirth! A day to be born again! From the coursing rivers of blood.

Wait, what?

Somewhere between talking about the unreasonable cost of vinyl siding and the generally accepted fact that politicians are grand lacerny artists with a gift for public speaking, he's caught you. That snapping sound is the wearied gears of the long forgotten bear trap springing into action.

The look of pity from the rest of the people is palpable now.

Luckily you can't dwell on those looks too much. You are busy thinking of every single socially acceptable reason to turn down this fellow's invitation to his group or church or really fantastic direct marketing opportunity. Something not too obvious, something that hasn't been repeated a thousand times. All the while firm in the notion that he has a quick and stunning counter-argument should your excuse be predictable enough.

Think fast now. Think hard.

And remember, do not taunt Happy Fun Ball™.