Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Paper Bag Princess

Checked my email when I got home last night and discovered that our tiny little fundraising package for SickKids has won a CMA Award.

This same little package recently won a DMA Echo Award.

I'm SO excited about this, primarily because, to look at it, this package is nothing special...which is exactly what the AD and my best friend, SO, intended when he designed it. It contains a simple letter and a 3¢ paper bag.

But this little dynamo rocked the house. It raised 30% more money than forecast and had a response rate that was 130% over goals.

The best part of all of this is not that we won, but that the little girl that featured in the piece - Caitlin - has battled through her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and is currently in remission from leukaemia.

I have a special passion for SickKids. It's so nice when the good guys win.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Don't aim

Just back from our work bonding at Tapatoo.

As is customary at these sorts of things, they divided the larger group into smaller teams of 4 or 5, and handed out assignments to make us work as a team.

Then our team competed with other teams in inane tasks like "pass the marble from one tube to the other and drop it in the cup" or "stand on this log all together and walk as a group toward this piece of duct tape."

Generally speaking, I'd prefer doing my own surgery without anaesthetic to these sorts of initiatives.

Anyway, luckily my group consisted of like-minded individuals who immediately subscribed to my suggestion for a group name: Group Pervo. And, our cheer (cue clap) We're perverted...we're we're perverted.

While other groups got really I mean it....REALLY SERIOUS about winning, we were like, "Fuck it. Let's have as much fun as possible and laugh our asses off."

So want to know what happened?

We won.

Not only that, we won the tie-breaker by doing one of the activities BACKWARDS.

It was perfect. And it would have been MORE perfect if Barb had been there.

Barb would have made a great addition to team Pervo. In fact, I believe she was there in spirit....burnt eyelashes and all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hemming and hawing

After a near perfect retail experience with Over the Rainbow, I got my newly hemmed billion dollar butt-hugging jeans home and find that they are at least 1/2 an inch too long.


I even washed them and dried them in the dryer -- a real no-no, according to the 58 pound 11 year old girl who sold them to me. Apparently putting your jeans in the dryer "breaks down the denim". I thought we were supposed to break down the denim...but apparently not.

Anyway, now I have to bring them back and get them re-hemmed all over again.

The picture is what I WOULD HAVE looked like tomorrow, if my jeans had been hemmed properly...and I'd been born with an extra chromosome.

I'm off to Tapatoo Resort near Otter Lake for our big agency love-in tomorrow. I'm meeting my ride at Pape Station at 7:15 a.m. As the only true morning person, I'm planning to make the ride a living hell for the group. I feel a car game coming on. It's the least I can do.

Today, the world needs a little poetry

ee cummings

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Peach Pit

Whenever I try to register for web sites that solely recognize US addresses, I use the most famous Zip Code of all: 90210.

You can imagine my delight to discover that Jennie Garth is one of the contestants on my guilty pleasure, Dancing with the Stars. Garth played Kelly Taylor for Beverly Hills 90210's entire 10 year run. She's still cute as a button. I'll probably use up my inheritance text-messaging votes for her.

I loved Bev-o, and continue to love it in re-runs.

Who can forget some of the more memorable moments -- like the time Donna (that husband-stealing bee-atch Tori Spelling) is busted for being drunk at the Prom and faces the possibility of explusion. Everyone walks out of their finals to her hearing, shouting: Donna Martin graduates!

Or the time that Andrea Finkelstein (the only 50 year old to ever play a teen on TV) gets knocked up by her Latino boyfriend and ends up raising her bastard love child while waiting for her friends to show up at the Peach Pit after dark.

Or gay-David's elementary school friend who accidentally shoots himself in the head while playing with guns at his freaking birthday party.

Good times.

What's your favourite Bev-o episode?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The sound of one hand clapping.

It looks like the room finally got smaller.

French mime Marcel Marceau died today. He was 84.

Instead of sending flowers, I suggest you pick a single flower, smell it, and take it apart petal by petal.

Saints and sinners

If Niagara-on-the-Lake had a funeral home, it would be called: Death...and Things.

The good people of this picturesque town on the shores of Lake Ontario appear to have a greater than average need to be surrounded by beauty. You can't swing a cat without finding yet another inn, tea room, haberdashery, gelato emporium or year-round Christmas store. Even ye olde public washrooms are located in a building meant to replicate a heritage site.

I saw Saint Joan at the Shaw Festival yesterday. There's nothing like spending the afternoon listening to the heady words of George Bernard Shaw to make you feel like a total hack.

The first act -- which set the political stage -- was slightly dreary, but the second act was electric. Tara Rosling was a terrific Joan.

The place was lousy with "yke-days", as LR says in her fluent pig-Latin.

Woman who love woman go crazy for Joan of Arc -- maybe because they like the idea of a strong woman doing a job reserved largely for men, or quite possibly because they're looking to her for fashion tips. Well, she does cut a rather striking figure as a soldier.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Voice of a generation

Annie Lennox will be playing Massey Hall on October 23rd. I'll be in the Netherlands. Tickets go on sale Monday at 11 a.m. Her new album, Songs of Mass Destruction, comes out on October 2nd.

There's no greater fan of Annie than my BFF, SO. We used to joke that in his next life, SO wanted to be reincarnated as a pair of Annie's leather pants.

We saw her once, with Dave Stewart (the Eurythmics), live at the Budokhan in Tokyo. I think it was 1987. She filled the hall with her amazing, unique and soulful voice. She's an absolute original.

I'll never forget the shrill cry of a young Japanese woman, who pleaded from the floor: "I ROVE YOU, ANNIE!"

Twenty years later, she's still making music. A true artist. Where will Britney be in 20 years?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it

My ex's ex-girlfriend will be house and cat-sitting for me when I head to Europe next month. Does this make her an XXL?

Anyway, based on the lame joke above, you can probably gather that this weekend can't come soon enough.

Free at last. Free at last. Thank god almighty, I'm free at last.

I did a little pre-Friday celebrating with the creative team yesterday. I brought in a few boxes of premium ice cream bars.

Personally, I think ice cream brings out the best in people. It channels your inner child. It's hard to have bad, back-stabbing thoughts about anyone when your lips are wrapped around creamy, chocolate-dipped goodness.

I hope I'm never diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

And there's nothing like bringing free food into any work environment. It attracts the masses like ants to a picnic.

People from our digital agency were sending screen caps to the printer, just so they'd have an excuse to walk through the kitchen.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blow by blow

On the advice of an in-flight magazine, I rented Ryan Reynold's movie "Half Nelson" last night. I was breathless. It's not an easy movie to watch.

He gives such a sensitive and harrowing portrayal of coke addicition. He's one of those incredibly gifted actors who can tell the story with a glance. His eyes should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

It's Thursday, so I can now confidently deflect major decisions into next week. Yay inertia!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Energy vampires: a cautionary tale

See me.
Feel me.
Touch me.
Heal me.

Some people suck the energy out of me as effectively as a vacuum-sealed freezer bag. You meet a lot of these people when you're a manager.

People who whine.

People who need a sounding board.

People who want you to fix things.

People who want you to listen to how they fixed things.

People who want you to acknowledge how they are busier than everyone else.

People who want to complain about how other people are not as busy as they are.

People who complain about how so and so looked at them funny, got a better chair, has a better view, and a more satisfying list of projects than they do.

People who aren't happy until you're unhappy too.

This week, I'm wearing my shoulders like earrings. I think I'll meet my boss at the airport with a Welcome Home sign.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If pigeons ruled the world....

If pigeons ruled the world, I wonder what they'd throw on the ground to attract humans.

Recently, I've been noticing huge flocks of pigeons on my morning walk.

There's a gaggle of them that hang out in the area around Sherbourne and Carlton, and a large group of them that makes Jamestown their home. Periodically, and seemingly without warning, they take off and fly in formation in a semi-circle, before landing where they started and resume whatever it is pigeons do.

Some people -- usually the ones who spend their days pushing shopping carts -- seem to keep them in day old bread crumbs.

While I try to love all God's little creatures equally, the swarms of pigeons freak me out a little.

Maybe it's the time back in high school when I got stoned and watched The Birds, or maybe its just that with their sharp beaks and piercing eyes, pigeons kind of look like they have it in for us.

They don't just want our balconies....they want our souls.

I think it's a safe bet that I'll never get a bird.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The way it makes me feel

Have you ever noticed that when you're not right with something, that no amount of inner dialogue can convince you of what your body already knows?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fashion Crimes

Have you ever gone shopping with someone whose style is completely different from yours?

I've just spent a lovely weekend with my friend -- the last few hours of which were spent picking through a Scarborough Winners.

CS loves to shop for sport. She even dresses for it -- with thin, easy-to-remove layers. Once, in 1974, she bought something full price. Since then, it's bargains all the way, baby.

Trouble is she's big into colour and pattern, two things I studiously avoid. She swoons over retina-piercing prints. She holds up lime green handbags for me to admire. She even has a soft spot for hooker boots...which is funny, since she's a Mother of four.

But all hail the successful shopping day. She had to buy a new suitcase simply to hold all her purchases, while her patience in picking through the merchandise turned out a few reassuring black and brown numbers, along with some Hello Kitty pajamas, for my wardrobe.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jobs you need to be crazy to do

Besides mine, I can think of two jobs you need to be crazy to do.

Only crazy city workers drive those little machines with the giant tubes that suck up garbage. This morning, one particularly wild-eyed lunatic kind of chased me down Carlton Street while singing in Italian.

You need to be crazy to be a school crossing guard. There's nothing like a whistle and some reflective tape to channel your inner crazy. And then there's Premier of Ontario. Have you seen Dalton McGuinty's new ads? He can't WAIT to close the separate schools....he's almost giddy about it!

My friend CS who will be visiting from Ottawa this weekend has a crazy job. She programs Weight Watchers meetings in her community. Weight Watchers, to their credit, only hires "graduates" of the program. But to keep her job, my friend needs to stay within 4 pounds of her goal weight at all times, or she gets a warning.

Maybe I'll try that little trick with the creative department. Yo fatty....hand out of the TimBit box or these are this could be your last day in advertising.

Happy Friday everybody. We worked for it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lessons from my Father

My Father was born and died on the same date. October 1st last year. The priest made a big deal about this at his funeral.

For his part, I think my Dad would have appreciated that living an extra 8 hours into the month of October, meant an extra month of his old age pension for my Mom. No one appreciated the value of a dollar more than my Father. He was notoriously tight with his money, a fact he attributed to his Scottish-bred Mother, who raised him with the mantra, "A fool and his money are soon parted." My Dad died with a closet full of barely-worn clothes that he kept "for good".

As his anniversary rapidly approaches, I've been thinking recently about the lessons I learned from my Dad.

For one thing, I always arrive at the airport hours before a flight. Hours. Probably hours before the pilot and the flight crew. My Dad worked for Air Canada for 34 years, and would regale my Mother and I with stories of flights missed due to carelessness and car trouble. Tardiness was a character defect never to be tolerated.

Working for the airline (or so he said) gave him an unnatural fear of changing climactic conditions. (He would have loved Al Gore.) He burned the weather channel into our TV. When you turned off the set, you could still see its outline around the periphery.

My Dad also taught me to fear: black ice, travelling at high speeds, economic downturns, roller coasters, my own potential, high electricity bills, bicycles, and honesty. It wasn't until after his funeral that I learned that he hadn't graduated from high school at all -- as he maintained his entire life -- but left school after grade eight.

Knowing this, I have more compassion for the things that irritated me so much when my Dad was alive. It just proves that he was afraid. He was afraid of everything -- both failing and succeeding.

Fear is the great immobilizer. Today I'm going to do something that scares me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Joy in the morning

This morning's Zen calendar entry reveals this pithy epithet from Frederick Franck:

"Millions of people, unseeing, joyless, bluster through life in their half sleep, hitting, kicking and killing what they have barely perceived."

Whoa. Clearly Mr. Franck had a crappy morning on the TTC or his Timmies is definately half empty. But he goes on to redeem himself somewhat by concluding:

"They have never learned to SEE or they have forgotten that man has eyes to SEE, to experience."

Okay, I get it. Intimacy comes with attention. But really, do you have to be such a buzz kill?

And speaking of attention....if there are any children watching, please look away....I got my first bikini wax EVER yesterday.

Oh my god. I mean, really. Oh my god. Thank god for the gentle hands and warm spirit of Saba, the bikini waxer, who walked me through this virgin experience. I wonder where bikini waxers rank on the scale of job satisfaction? I'm guessing that a day spent looking at nappy women in paper underpants would send me over the Bloor Viaduct.

When she was done, Saba sent me off with a wink and a (I swear to god) "Have fun." Fun! I'm gonna try, Saba. God willing....I'm gonna try.

Be careful out there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years ago this morning...

Okay, I was at my desk at 6:45 this morning (which surely indicates some kind of mental defect) and I thought, as I sometimes do, about the hard-working men and women getting a kick start on their day at the World Trade Centre six years ago this morning.

People, like me, who may have been dreading some meeting or other, were looking forward to the particularly delicious lunch they'd packed for themselves, or thinking they really should find the time to organize their closets because it's getting crazy in there. People on deadlines, experiencing new love, going through nasty divorces, recovering from hangovers. I think about the people who hated their job -- who sat at their desks thinking, "I can't wait until I can get out of this hell hole and become a gardener, baker, dog tamer, executive chef."

All over in a heartbeat.

The number of US military casualties in Iraq surpassed the World Trade Centre dead last year. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wag the dog

Question everything, children. Stop me if you've already heard me pontificate about this.

Under the freedom of information act, I need to come clean and tell you that I'm a big one for global conspiracy theories. You don't spend the majority of your formative years in Catholic school without some inkling of the power of mind control. Most people believe what you tell them to believe.

I also need to come clean and tell you that I once dated a very sexy and highly principled Communist, who had the quickest wit on earth and played a wicked game of pool. We broke up amicably, but not before I'd bought a year's subscription to Green Left Weekly.

I'm convinced that the Americans are waging a hate campaign against their new enemy -- the Chinese.

It goes like this. The Olympics are coming. For the last four years, the Chinese people -- all 500 trillion bazillion of them -- have been engaged in a unified campaign to present a new, bold, and superior face of China to the world. Every taxi driver in Beijing is learning English. Modern superstructures are being built. People are working, working, working. The economy is booming. You saw "Reds", you know the drill.

It's the antithethis of America. While Beijing flourishes, the New Orleans levies overflow, Wall Street crashes, and Vietnam continues -- only this time, it's in Afghanistan. America counter-attacks by building a Starbucks in The Forbidden City.

Through it all, the American people are still being told to believe that they are the smartest, strongest, richest and most powerful people on earth. This is partly because their exposure to China is pretty much limited to Jackie Chan movies and lunch at the Mandarin.

By the time the eyes of the world are on China in 2008, America won't know what hit them.

Which is why, the American government needs to sow the seeds of hate now, while China is off the radar of most god-loving Americans.

What better way to do that than to do a little fear-mongering among the most tired, over-worked group there is: parents. We all know fear works -- have you been to an airport lately? So how about a complete toy recall because of "impermissable" levels of lead.

"Oh look at those nasty Chinese people....they're poisoning our children." Stage one in the new Cold War.

But what they don't tell you is that the American government CHANGED the "permissable" levels of lead before the recall. They used to be higher. They used to be permissable! For years, the super-sized ankle-biters of America were just fine gumming up their Hot Wheels and sticking Barbie's head in their mouths.

That was until America realized that there was a new global, nuke-loving superpower waiting to emerge.

I could be wrong. But probably not. Watch the spin and decide for yourself.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fame: what's your name, what's your name, what's your name.

I'm feeling a little grumpy grumpelstein today, and I think this is why.

While I have to admit to enjoying the buzz that surrounds the arrival of the Toronto International Film Festival, I'm amazed at the lengths people will go to to be in the presence of another human being who simply makes a living by pretending to be someone else.

I pretend to be someone else at least 15 times a week. Where's my paparazzi?

Anyway, one of my co-workers photocopied an article out of the Metro for me this morning. It's entitled "A handy guide to the celeb-friendly hotspots." While the celebs are inside drinking Crystal and doing lines of the toilet lid, you, too, can stand outside in the oppressive Toronto smog to catch a glimpse of them. Why? Because maybe Brad Pitt or Jake Gyllenhal will emerge from the protective shell of Lobby or One, lock eyes with your sorry ass, and be your BFF.

Most people have more channels in their basic cable package than books in their library.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Impermanence and Attachment

A flower falls,
even though we love it;
and a weed grows,
even though we do not love it.

I get so attached to people, places and things. And not just to everything. To experiences. To sensations. To thoughts. To a small plastic soap dish. But I learn the lesson of suffering over and over and over again. That happiness comes when you can detach and see things the way they truly are.

Deep breaths in and out. Serenity.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Comfort Food

On long car rides, a good conversation starter is to ask the other people you're driving with what they'd have as their last meal.

I usually begin the conversation, "If you were on Death Row..," which wakes them up a little.

You can find out a lot about a person by the foods that bring comfort. For the most part, people long for the simple comfort foods of their childhood, or a special recipe that family member or friend used to make, or something they had once, in some far off place, that they're hoping to recreate once before they die.

My menu has changed over the years, but there are a few constants. For instance, Kraft Dinner always makes it to the table. I don't know what it is about this big bowl of gummy goodness that I love so much, but there's nothing on earth that makes me harken back to a simpler time more than this. I'd also like a Lobster Roll -- stuffed to brimming, like the one I had at the Ogunquit Lobster Pound on a driving holiday in Maine. We did that trip on $40 a day, including the camp site rental, so we counted our pennies and splurged on lunch. How many forgettable meals have I had since then?

How about some fresh fruits and vegetables, too? How much would you savour fresh-picked asparagus, perfectly formed cherries and vine-ripened cherry tomatoes if you knew that this would be the last time you tasted them?

Two desserts -- because who needs to worry about calories, since it's your last meal and all -- date squares and the $100 cake my Mom makes. Once, back in the 50s when $100 really meant something, an ingenious housewife won $100 for coming up with this chocolate cake recipe that lists Miracle Whip as one of its main ingredients.

And maybe a steaming hot cup of coffee -- made from perfectly roasted, organically grown coffee beans -- or a Manhattan, made with two cherries.

What would you have? And what's stopping you from having it tonight?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How long before we get there?

On being asked how long it takes to obtain an understanding of Zen, Hasegawa said:

It may take you three minutes,
it make take you thirty years.
And I mean that.

I guess I'll have to buy another Zen Day By Day Calendar again next year.