Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Remember: the terrorists haven't won

"Just as disheartening, it underscores how the desire for security continues to override the spirit of openness that is fundamental to a functioning democracy."

The USA has been dysfunctional ever since 9/11.

This is just one more small example of how the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is gone.

The terrorists have not only won, they've spent the last 8 years f***ing the prom queen while Homeland Security has been worried about protecting the scoreboard. The USA lost the "War on Terror" when they misplaced the Constitution and forgot what the country was supposed to represent.

...What? You expect me to talk about weddings forever?


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wediquette Part III

I’m totally and utterly bored, so more posts for you folks!

Seems my recent posts have friends wondering about my intentions – but I must admit that the subject lends itself to so many arguments/debates/discussions that it’s easy fodder for a blog. Heck, I could start my own blog on the topic and I’m not married!

So, continuing on our theme of “wediquette”…

(By the way, I see that name is being used for at least one blog already – oh well)

More questions and thoughts:

1. Invitations

I, for one, do not understand the self-addressed stamped envelope RSVP in this day and age. You’re just gonna track the confirmations on a separate medium anyways (even if you just jot them on a piece of paper) so why do you need them? Are people that shallow that they need to receive an overpriced card to feel they are truly invited to the event? It’s not like you need the invite to get in, anyways – who checks these things at the door? I’ve never been asked for my invite and I don’t always know the groomsmen at the door. It seems to me that a cool electronic invite (no, not an “evite" – those don’t work for my email address, by the way, for some bizarre reason) would be better, coupled perhaps with a cool postcard-type hard copy just to be sure. Recently, I’ve seen friends use variations on this, with full size posters folded up or interesting fold-out cards with all the deets – including how to RSVP by website or email. Please don’t try to make the argument that a formal invite is more personal – it really isn’t. I don’t need fancy paper – just date and time. Besides, I always felt that they were worded awkwardly. What do you write where it says “Philip Sullivan will _______ attend”? “…Definitely” attend? “Maybe” attend? And what about “Number of guests: _____”. Including me? Does this mean I can bring a guest? I’m sure the “experts” would say that if a guest is invited the invite would read “Philip Sullivan and Guest”, but that’s not obvious to everyone, so don’t be surprised if Uncle Jed brings his hooker date.

2. Guests

Ok, so I’ve always figured that I’d have to limit the number of folks I invite to the reception (assuming it was a catered dinner at a hall) – but what about after dinner? I mean, can I tell some folks to come by at, say, 10pm to celebrate with the happy couple or is that gauche? Is it an insult to invite someone post-dinner? Surely people understand that halls have limits on guests for dinner and that inviting them for the party half of the night is better than no invite at all, no? It’s like a night out at a fancy bar for them. I always thought I’d invite the world to my wedding – hey, if we have history and you care enough that you wanna come see me get married and have a drink with me afterwards, that’s awesome – but of course I can’t have the world for dinner. I probably could invite the world if it were an evening service with cocktail reception as suggested in my previous post… I always thought a wedding would be nice excuse to have a “this is your life” gathering of old, long lost and new friends – probably the only time you’ll be able to do it before they gather for your funeral! If I have to limit it to, say, 100 then, hell, 90% of my Facebook friends wouldn’t make the cut! :P

3. Cake

Is this a big deal? Really? I mean, I have to say that at 75% of the weddings I’ve been to, the “cutting of the cake” is an afterthought and probably the most wasteful expense of the whole day. Personally, I don’t need it. Is there symbolism or importance behind it that I don’t know about or is it literally just a dessert tradition? I’d rather have ice cream. :P

4. Photos

I’m a fan of having the wedding and reception close together. I think it’s kind of nuts to expect guests to attend a ceremony, take 3 hours off, and then show up somewhere else for a reception. If you’re from out of town, it can be downright inconvenient. I attended a wedding once where the four of us from out of town went back to the motel and napped between events! Kinda takes the wind out of the sails, don’t it? But I understand that half the point of this is to allow the bridal party to take the time to go to a park and have photos taken. See, the idea is that you can’t take photos before the wedding because the groom can’t see the bride before the ceremony. That’s actually one tradition I like and plan to uphold. But what to do about photos? Well, for some, the photos taken at the reception would be enough. For some, you don’t even need a photographer or formal photos – the snaps people take at the reception from, say, disposable cameras on the table are enough. I’m a fan of doing some quick shots while people settle in at the reception venue or even taking the shots at the venue itself if suitable. I don’t need a lot of fancy group shots – just a few of the wedding party, family and the big group. What do you do with them afterwards anyways? Sure, it’s nice to have a few shots, but the best shots, in my mind, are not the posed shots, but the candid ones. I prefer a natural shot than one that looks like the poster for The Usual Suspects. And there’s no effing way I’m having a photographer hover around the ceremony like I see at some weddings. What’s the point of taking pictures of an event if the photographer is PART of the event? At times, the guests can’t even see because the photographer is at the front, 5 feet from the priest, shooting flash shots with a super loud super sized camera. WTF? No way. If I have a photographer, they better have a telephoto lens. There’s no way a photographer or videographer stands in front of a guest. What for? So I can show the guests afterwards the ceremony that they missed?

5. Gifts

As I’ve said before, for Pete’s sake, GIVE MONEY. I just don’t understand the idea of having a gift registry. Sure, it takes the guess work out of giving gifts and ensures the couple won’t get doubles, but there are just too many issues with it. Does the couple choose the premium item they want or the sufficient item? What happens if you don’t get a complete set of dishes or whatever (that comes in pieces)? How do I get my gift to the reception? What if I don’t have a car and want to take TTC? What do I do with it during the service portion? (who wants to carry an item all day while dressed up and then show up all hot and sweaty?) If you just give money, then the couple can examine their finances after the event and take stock of what they can and can’t afford to do with it. What’s the point of having fine china if you can’t afford a table? The top priority for me is to break even on the day. If everyone covers the cost of their plate then the rest is gravy. Starting off a marriage in debt would suck. If you have some left over, then great – now you can put that money towards a down payment on a house. You can’t do that with embroidered linen. So now that we agree that guests should give money instead of a physical gift, how do the couple make this known? An invite might normally include the fact that the couple are registered at The Bay, but how do you say “don’t bring gifts, bring money”?

6. Centrepiece

Look, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass less about the bloody centrepiece, but it seems that for some folks, “winning” the centrepiece is the highlight of the night. I’m all for giving the guests a little gift/souvenir (a.k.a. bonbonniere), but it doesn’t need to be elaborate and it shouldn’t spark riots. I’ve seen all sorts of contests run (and their “trick” variations) to see who would get it and it usually drags on way too long and seems mighty lame by the end. Besides, if people really care about it, you’re just disappointing 90% of your guests – the ones who don’t win. But if you do insist on running a contest, then arrange to have the centrepieces set aside with the winners’ names. You’d be shocked at the number of times people who did not win the centrepiece will walk off with one, just because it’s sitting on a table unattended as they exit (heaven forbid the winner is dancing).

7. Bar service

This is a pretty big one and can really polarize opinions. Open bar or cash bar? The open bar is obviously a treat for the guests and the most welcoming, but it can lead to a big expense for the couple, potential scamming by the hall (if they do the billing by “measuring” thing) and issues with crashers and sobriety. The cash bar might come off as cheap, but it does allow you to have more guests (see item 2) and allows for some control over their intake (they can’t drink if they run out of cash) and your expenses. I’d prefer to have an open bar, but I can see the merits of a cash bar.

Hm… Ok, I think that’s enough for today. Don’t wanna freak Dan out too much.

So what do you guys think?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Unusual Weddings

Okay, so sticking to our wedding theme from the other day, let me show you this link to a neat wedding procession I came across on Boingboing.

This is awesome and, apparently, lots of fun. It was a big hit, it seems, and shows how you can have fun even when life as you know it is coming to an end.

...I mean on the happiest day of your life.


To pull this off, though, you'd need to have the right circumstances: a non-traditional couple; parents that can check their ego and don't insist on walking you down the aisle; extraverted friends; and understanding guests with a sense of humour.

I know a number of people who would be mortified by this sort of thing.
I'm all for it.

I've long said that I don't particularly need or want a traditional wedding. I'm happy if there's a duly empowered officiant, a nice venue, and lots of guests/witnesses. I don't need (or necessarily want) a church, flowers, rose petals, a wedding cake and a flock of doves. To me, the day should be special - for you and your guests - so that you mark the occasion with a suitable amount of ritual and pomp. So if you want non-traditional, go for it.

But let's face it: we've all been to weddings (though more likely receptions) that have been a Whether it's the sub-standard venue, or the meal or the DJ, we all have our preferences and limits.

So what are your limits? I once attended a pot luck reception. Yay/nay? What about a BBQ?

Does a reception have to involve a meal? What if it's an evening wedding with a cocktail reception? I actually kinda like that idea. I like this "event theatre" in my neighbourhood, but they charge by the hour so a long reception isn't really a great idea. I'd love to have a party or reception there with the marquee and wedding-related movie posters. I think that'd be fun. (There's also this similar venue and this article that seems to reflect my idea. At $95/person base menu, though, I don't think I can afford it!)

If it were a theme wedding where the couple asked that guests try to wear suitable attire, would you participate? To what extent? What if the theme were "black tie" or "Star Wars" or "Roaring 20s"? I could see this being a lot of fun if people participated and a big bust if you had too many introverts in the crowd.

Personally, I like excuses to dress up but I wouldn't wanna be the only one in a wookie costume, you know?

So how far can you go out of the box before you start imposing on your guests? Is it a matter of "my guests should play along or eff them"? It's a matter of cost and convenience, sure, but also attitude.

Even within the wedding party there can be issues. I mean, the fun wedding procession is cool - but only if everyone agrees to it. If you have one person clearly not enjoying the idea, well, that ruins it for everyone.

I better start vetting my friends for their "cool factor"...


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stag & Doe or Slag & Dough

A co-worker and I were having a discussion the other day about weddings and invites and etiquette and finally moved on to the idea of “fundraising” for weddings. She had attended a bridal shower the weekend prior, and we debated the merits of holding such an event.

See, I’m not a fan of the bridal shower. It seems to be a cash grab to me. You invite people over and expect them to bring gifts you picked out on a registry? Seems…crass.

A baby shower I can understand. When a kid is born, it makes sense that the community would sort of come together and help out – but even in this case, I think bringing second hand stuff would be fine. I mean, people buy or obtain things they need for a kid that they won’t need at other times. The kid grows out of stuff so quickly that the clothes or stroller that will be useful for a few months or years will soon be collecting dust in a garage – it might as well go to someone who could use it. The recipient will then give them away as they see fit when their kids have grown - and the cycle continues.

But what’s the purpose of the bridal shower? What gifts are “unique” to this situation? Lingerie? Really?

Now while this co-worker and I agreed bridal showers were a bit odd in this day and age “sans dowry”, we disagreed on stag & does. See, I think that where a stag & doe differs from a bridal shower is that a S&D usually offers something in return. It’s a fundraiser where attendees receive a good or service in exchange for their money. Usually, a S&D involves buying tickets and getting access to an open bar or meal or paying for a casino night – that sort of thing. If you invite me to a S&D at a hall where they serve alcohol and offer a meal and some games and a silent auction or draw, well, I’m way more agreeable to paying $75 or so. The couple pocket the profits, sure, but at least it isn’t a flat out cash grab. I may even think I’m getting my money’s worth! And even if I don’t, then at least I console myself thinking that the couple will put it to good use, rather than the less practical stuff people tend to put on gift registries.

As a side note, I don’t believe in gift registries for weddings, either. I have been converted, I suppose, by my Italian friends. If you wanna give a gift at a wedding (which of course you should), then for Pete’s sake GIVE MONEY. Not only is this far more portable than the crockery set, it also is more useful (it would suck to get half a tea service set, wouldn’t it?) and flexible (the couple can figure out what they wanna do with whatever amount they receive). It just makes sense. Carrying a wrapped gift into a wedding reception is so mangiacake. :P

Back to pre-wedding activities: I think bachelor/bachelorette partiers are absolutely on side. This is a fun night out with the members of the same sex and I’m all for them. How far they go in terms of fun is up to the parties involved. Strippers? (for either party or sex) They’re ok as far as I’m concerned, provided of course it’s JUST strippers not anything involving parts of the body other than the eyes. You know? The guests, of course, are welcome to do what they want. Heck, a bachelor party is often as much an excuse for them to act out. For some, it’s customary for the bride/groom to “dedicate” the “entertainment” to one of the wedding party members and to live vicariously through them. Sounds good to me. It also acts as a thank you to the wedding party member. :P There’s a perception out there that the bachelor parties are wilder than the bachelorette parties, but if my experience is any indication, it’s the other way around. Bachelor parties pretty much only get “wild” in terms of going to a strip club and drinking. Bachelorette parties sometimes involve accosting attractive strangers in the street and requiring various forms of physical contact or flirting. You’re also far more likely to see a bachelorette party dance drunkenly on the tables at the local bar – not only would guys not do this, they’d get their elbows re-arranged if they did this at the peelers.

What do you guys think? Bridal showers, stag & does, bachelor/bachelorette parties, gift registries: yay or nay?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

By Request: Garbage Strike

My blog buddy Diane sent this one in to me:

"The garbage strike (Toronto, Windsor, or both - your choice): A righteous cause,
or just downright ridiculous? Discuss."

You know, I can’t say I know too much about the issues surrounding the City of Toronto strike that includes garbage collectors. People don’t tend to care too much about the details, just “what’s being done?” and so the media don’t often break it down into clear negotiation issues.

Yes, there’s the 18 sick days an year that can be banked. We’ve all heard about that. That’s the one issue that the media loves to talk about and the City likes to throw out as an unreasonable benefit "in these tough economic times".

Here’s the thing: unlike most people, I don’t have a problem with it. Not, at least, based on what I’ve heard. In a previous negotiation, the union secured a benefit whereby any unused sick days can be rolled over year after year in such a way that a person may actually “bank” sick days. When they retire, an employee may cash in unused sick days up to a max of six months’ pay.

What you get is workers not calling in sick on a whim or when they don’t feel like going to work – instead they show up. What’s wrong with that?

In companies where sick days DON’T roll over, the temptation is to use them all before year’s end – but, of course, that would look suspicious on an annual review and the employee would perhaps suffer the consequences. So what was the point of negotiating those sick days? Why would you negotiate sick days and NOT take them - since they're a fixed cost to the employer (you get paid the same whether you take them or not), aren't you just ripping yourself off by NOT taking them? Aren't you just working MORE than the employer expected for the salary they're paying you?

Hell yes you should use them.

Of course the EMPLOYER doesn't want you to. Nor should they.

You WANT people showing up. You WANT sickness to be unusual. If everyone’s worried about using up sick days, you end up with offices that always have a staff member or two absent. That’s not good production-wise. Companies shouldn’t have to have an extra staffer or temps to account for missing folk.

The problem is that the City should never have agreed to it in the first place. It was silly and now they can’t afford the back end payouts. But you can’t remove it now (unless you pay those folks out – even then you’d have issues ‘cause it’s supposed to be paid out at salary at retirement, not current salary).

What should be done is that the salaries should be slightly higher but NO sick days given. Don’t show up? Don’t get paid. That would keep people coming in. If they truly are sick, ok, they take a day or two. If the sickness is 3 days or more, you’d need a doctor’s note and you’d go on some kind of subsidized leave (NOT fully paid - why does the employer have to pay for your sick ass? You're not doign anything for them. Let the government take care of health care. If you ARE that valuable to an employer that they'd pay for your sick leave, then that should be because your're special not because you belong to a mob). Why do we need paid sick days? That sounds like some lazy fucker’s initiative.

Don’t get me started on the laziness of some union members…

The thing is, this strike has to end. The garbage is piling up in parks, for Pete’s sake (side note: why aren’t people dropping off their trash in the dumpsters behind apartment buildings instead of going to these transfer stations? Apartment buildings tend to have private companies remove their trash – I don’t even notice the garbage strike in my neighbourhood). But the real pain in the arse is the fact that daycares are closed, too (this isn’t just a garbage strike – it’s a City employee strike) which can REALLY mess up families and their daily routine. Things like that.

So the sides have to come together.

And the argument from the union that they want "what others got" is bullshit. You want what they have? Go work there. Your job is your job, their job is their job. If the job in Mississauga gets paid more than the job in Toronto, maybe that has something to do with the nature of the place where the job is performed.

Unions always want more than what they had before while employers want the strike to last long enough that they’ll be able to afford the concessions they’ll eventually give (why are we paying for these services that aren't being performed, btw?). That’s why unions should always work to rule before going on strike. They get paid while making their presence (or lack thereof) known to the public who will complain to the employer. That’s assuming, of course, that anyone notices that they weren’t just working to rule in the first place. With some lazy union fuckers, you never know.

So what do I think of the garbage strike? It's garbage, of course.

And tax payers are paying for it - literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ask me questions - I will tell you no lies

I said I would take requests and some of you have taken me up on it. Alison, it seems, is preoccupied in getting to know me better rather than hear me vent on some topic of political or social importance (she’s shallow that way), but I can certainly indulge her (mostly ‘cause she’s pretty).

Here goes:

1) What is the most exciting thing you've ever done?

Well, I haven’t climbed Everest or jumped out of a plane, so I’ll go with the time I went on as an understudy in a professional show in Toronto with no rehearsal (and having never been on the stage or having met the cast), after getting a call from the director that afternoon. It was exciting and terrifying, not knowing if I would be able to pull it off. I stumbled with the first couple of lines but then got through the rest of the show flawlessly.

Side note: I was going to link to Wikipedia for The Mousetrap but, unbelievably, they give the ending away! There's a whole page devoted to the debate of whether or not to reveal the ending, but I gotta say - anyone who argues in favour of revealing the ending is ignorant when it comes to theatre tradition. This is a whodunnit and after every performance the audience is asked not to reveal the ending. You can find it in various places if you look, I'm sure, but to list it on the main page in Wikipedia for all to see at a glance (as I did) is silly. There should be a separate link.

2) If you were a comic book hero, who would you be?

Existing? I would choose to be Superman ‘cause, let’s face it, he can do everything (which actually makes the comic a boring read). This is a different question of course from “if you could only have one superpower, what would it be?” or choosing between specific superpowers.

3) Who was your favourite band in 1992?

In 1992, I was in grade 12 moving into OAC (13). I was a Led Zeppelin fan for a while around then, but was probably moving on by 1992. That was actually a REALLY bad year for music, which explains my retro outlook. Good musicians like Phil Collins and Eric Clapton were getting hella-cheesy, and others like Def Leppard were clearly on the downside of their careers. The Billboard Top 100 for 1992 is a collection of crap. So the short answer is…I have no idea.

4) Where do you hope to travel in the next five years?

Hawaii, Ireland, Austria/Germany/Netherlands, Great Britain …and Haliburton.

5) Can you remember the names of the brother and sister on Alf without googling it?

No. That show was after my time. Yes, I am that old.

6) Would you rather be told you're funny, smart or good-looking?

Good looking. If you have that in spades, the rest won’t matter so much. :P I mean, so long as you aren’t completely deficient in the other categories. You ought to know how smart you are, and have an idea about your sense of humour. Beauty, though, is in the eye of the beholder and so to be told you’re good looking is a greater compliment as it is furthest from your control. It’s nice to know you have that, too. Note that the question says “would you rather be TOLD” not “would you rather be”. Dunno if my answer would change, but… (sometimes I think dumb people are better off! :P )

7) Name five things you never eat.

Puke (unless puking into my own mouth a little counts)
Live animals
My words

8) In what ways are you like a chipmunk?

I can sing.

9) Who are three famous people you'd like to have dinner with (all at once)?

This is always a tough one – it’s a question of curiosity vs mix. Living or dead? Jesus of Nazareth, King Arthur, Abraham Lincoln (lives and times I think would be fascinating). Living only? Dana White, Sam Jackson, Monica Bellucci (good laughs and eye candy).

But I probably just haven’t thought of better choices…

Will you answer these now?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bored stupid

So I'm bored.

No, no. I mean I'm REALLY bored. Like super duper bored.

Normally, I'd use this opportunity to vent about something here, but, frankly, I'm so bored I don't even have the motivation to come up with a topic.

So I'm accepting requests.

Wanna read my take on something?

Ever wondered what makes me tick? Or ticked off?

Wanna quiz me on some topic?

Go ahead: shoot.

I'll be here. Half asleep.

Someone wake me up.