Monthly Archives: June 2010

Office Politics – Your weekend stories

The mix of people, personalities, and idiosyncracies at any office will vary greatly and can lead to some interesting interactions between co-workers. Sometimes you will meet your new co-worker and there will be the instant friend connection (maybe even friend with benefit connection if your lucky), sometimes you will meet a new co-worker and realize immediately that you want nothing to do with them aside from the standard hello in the morning and any time your work paths cross. Sometimes it takes a while to assess the level of compatibility with your co-workers. You undergo a sort of rigorous “dating” process for lack of a better term trying to see if there is a connection by dropping some conversation snippets when you bump into them at the water cooler or adding a sarcastic sentence or two in an email to them.

One of my favourite ways to judge a co-worker on whether or not I like them is the “Do I really want to listen to you about your weekend” test.

I’m sad to say, for the majority of them the answer is no. Actually, i’m not sad to say that. I’m probably more annoyed that I have to say that because invariable you will have that person in the office that needs to move from office-to-office spreading the joy of their weekend to anyone and everyone, whether they really want to hear it or not. *Sidenote – this is probably the same person that will also trap you in your office to try to sell you their kids fundraising chocolates or raffle tickets.

If you lead an exciting life or it has been determined through interactions that you and I both enjoy the same sports teams or have like hobbies then i’m in. I’m ready to hear about your weekend and you probably did some stuff that i’m interested in hearing about. Unfortunately it never seems like a large portion of the office meshes well with me. Maybe i’m picky, maybe i’m an asshole, maybe nobody likes me, whatever the case its a select few usually. Which is too bad because I would much rather discuss sports, a movie, or a television show that I have in common with someone as opposed to how your husband and you went and visited your family for the day and flew kites.

Not interested. Someone please call my phone or something to get me out of hearing how your pottery class was crazy this weekend because the regular teacher wasn’t there so you ended up with someone who didn’t have the clay wheel thingy mastered so they splattered some mud on their smock. I’ve zoned out 2 seconds in and am just trying to ride this one out. You know how they teach you fire safety and earthquake preparedness in school, well they should add a third one for dealing with boring stories that you can’t get away from.

So please, if your a boring story person find someone equally as boring as you and annoy the shit out of them instead of ending up in my office wasting my time. The list of things that I would rather do than work is incredibly long……but in this case i’d rather work than listen to your crappy story. I believe that makes my point.

A lil less Soccer a lil more footie

There is something that needs to be said here about our good friends to the south, the good ole US of A and their change in attitude towards soccer and the World Cup. For years North Americans never took a liking to the beautiful game, partially because both Canada and the US sucked at it. This year in South Africa there are more Americans in South Africa cheering on “The Yanks” then any other travelling nation. Now, these are unofficial numbers, I am sure that there are a lot of transplanted Africans there from other participating nations, but I digress. The Americans are an intriguing bunch though, because they are so new to the soccer scene, hell they call it soccer instead of its more traditional and correct name, football. However, is this sports renaissance in the USA good for the game? The Americans have come out in droves and are a boisterous, proud nation of supporters and I commend them. However, I think the majority of the nation still doesn’t get the beauty of the game. Long has there been complaints that soccer players are “pansies” due to the fact that they are constantly diving. The act of diving is a cowardly act, but it gets results, there is only one official on the field and there is a lot of action going on for 90 straight minutes. More often then not the official makes a critical mistake and instant replays prove that, but in regular speed in the heat of the action you can see where the mistake was easy to make. The Americans have always been a progressive nation that is not scared to make changes. If there is a rule change that they believe will benefit the game without affecting its integrity then they will make that change, hello video replay in the NFL. The USA is a very powerful market where there is a lot of money to be made and FIFA knows this. There are arguments to be made that a successful showing in this 2010 World Cup will go a long way to growing the game in the US and thus stirring up a market that has deep pockets. Is this actually a good thing? Is FIFA actively working to break into the mighty USA? How desperate is Sep Blatter to grow the game in the USA? I actually overheard a couple of American men discussing the World Cup at the Chicago/O’Hare airport yesterday afternoon which got me to thinking and writing this blog. One of the gentlemen was criticizing the official that called back the go ahead goal in the Slovenia vs. USA game, which is fair because that call was shockingly bad. However, at one point the mid aged American man declared that FIFA should amend the offsides rule. Allowing the offending player to be at least 2-3 yards past the last defender when the ball is kicked, not level with the last man as the rule is currently written. His explanation for this is that the game is “too slow” and needs to “open up” which ultimately means, more goals. Perhaps Mr. Blatter should contact Mr. Gary Bettman of the NHL, he loves bending over for the American public. What I don’t understand is that the American public LOVES the NFL and major league baseball which arguably are some of the most boring sports on the planet behind only cricket and curling. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NFL and I get excited for Sundays, but is that because of the media circus surrounding the NFL or because it is a good game. IF you think it is a good game check out a CFL game or two, rubbish. The NFL consists of 4 – 15 minute quarters; the ball is in play on average for 2 minutes of every game, 2 minutes!!! That is 58 minutes of standing around, yet soccer is “too slow”. I love that the USA is becoming a soccer nation because I believe that it will ultimately help Canada become a better soccer nation, but at what cost? I truly hope that the Americans will accept the game for the way it is and will learn to adapt. Take a look at the way the MLS is managed and marketed and you can see why it is not a respected league in the world, it is too different. With any luck the MLS and North American soccer will continue to grow and adapt as opposed to grow and alter. As for that guy at the airport yesterday, you’re an idiot.

Fabulous Football Announcing

The World Cup of Football is one of the most exciting and impressive sporting events that most sports fans look forward to every four years. There are many things to look forward to when this tournament comes around each time: Passionate fans, amazing football players, acrobatic diving and acting. But the one thing I most look forward to during the tournament is the announcing work done by the british announcers. Their ability to create sayings and phrases that you would never hear in other sports but when put into the context of a football match so aptly describe the play that is happening on the pitch. They don’t have a colour commentator like other major sports, it is just them talking to the audience for a full 90+ minutes of action.

This is my list of favourite sayings from football announcers that I always enjoy hearing. Some of them I have heard for the first time at South Africa 2010, and some of them I have heard from past tournaments but at still as good today as the first time I heard them.

Disposessed – When a player has the ball taken away from him by a player on the opposing team either through a slide tackle or by being checked. When an announcer says it in his british accent it practically drools of haughtiness and it is as if he is telling the player that was “dispossessed” that he should be thoroughly ashamed.

Enterprising run – I’ve heard this for the first time this year and it quickly has jumped up to being one of my favourites. It is brought out by the announcers when a team or an individual starts pressing forward and making a move for the other teams net. This is kind of a kicking off point for the announcer to start getting himself worked up at the possibility of a goal.

Optimistic effort – When a player who doesn’t really have the talent to score from 50 yards out decides he will try to put one on goal anyways. The announcer clearly has done his research on this player as is pretty confident the shot will not end up anywhere near the net If it is on net it will most likely be an easy save for the keeper. Most “optimistic efforts” fly approximately 30 feet high or wide of goal.

Office Politics – Your kids fundraisers

I’m going to start a new segment for the blog that will focus on frustrating things that happen in the day-to-day office world.

First topic, Fundraising for your kids school, sports team, charity, etc.

When I was growing up I played on plenty of sports teams and went to school (shocking I know). As a result there were many times when fundraising was required to attend a hockey tournament or put a class event on. The variety of fundraising efforts included car washes, bottle drives, and the ever nerve-wracking door to door sales pushing cookies, raffle tickets or whatever else they could think of. Not a fun job for kids as its never easy to knock on random peoples doors to try to sucker them into giving you money for something crappy. I would always complain to my dad and ask him to just take them into work. He refused, sayiing it was not fair to ask his employees to help out since it would put them in an impossible situation to say no. Nowadays I applaud the stance he took with me.

Is there anything more annoying than overhearing a co-worker selling the person occupying the office next to yours a raffle ticket for their kids baseball team and then hearing the stomp, stomp, stomp of a rather large elephant about to come through your door. Sure, you can try to avoid them and act like your on the phone, but they just keep coming back until you’re cornered.

The worst part is usually its not even something you want. Candy bars? Fine i’ll take one for your bloated price of $3, but i’m not buying an entire box out of the goodness of my heart. I don’t have enough money to give much to some very deserving charities so why should I dole out $20 for some crappy raffle ticket that gives me the chance to win a one night stay in a hotel 500 kilometers away from where I live. It’s not like i’m trying to be a cheapskate, I have financial obligations myself and when you are being asked multiple times a month for $10 here and $20 there it adds up quickly. I have way better things i’d rather use that money for.

I’m sure there are some people out there that will say “Well, you don’t understand. You don’t have kids.” You’re right I don’t, but I have plenty of other things out there that I could try to collect money from people at my work for. Lucky for them my dad’s lesson is still ingrained in me. I’m not going to force hockey pool registrations on these people so that they can help pay for my team’s new jerseys.

Plus it’s good experience to have your kid out there attempting to sell their own fundraising items. How often do sales skills come into play in everyday real life when you grow up. Might as well start getting comfortable with some awkward situations early on.

So the lesson here is, bringing your kids fundraising items into the office is like holding a loaded gun to a co-workers head. Like we have a choice in the matter once you start asking.

Cheese…..pahlease!

Is it just me or is cheese almost as valuable as gold these days? I mean sure you can go to Costco and grab a 300 pound block of Cheddar for like $20 bucks but when you go to a normal grocery store and grab a little package of peppered chevre to add a little spice to a salad your reaction at the till is probably much like my own. What the f&*#! My grocery bill just increased by like 20% for one chunk of goat cheese that i’m now going to have to incorporate into every meal I make this week just to make the most of the $10 I just spent. Chevre frosted cheerios anyone??

Chevres not the only culprit though, just go into that cheese isle and take a look at the various prices associated with flavoured cheeses/anything more exotic than havarti. Apparently the cheese fairy didn’t get the economic climate email in their cheese mail.

Now just so I don’t seem like a cheap prick I do accept the costs of some cheeses – namely ones that can last a while. I’m talking to you Parmesan. Upwards of $10 for a rather tiny slice, but you bag that baby up and you’ve got parmesan whenever you need it for upwards of a month. So Kudos to you Parmesan, you’re one of the good guys. But the rest of you cheeses that claim “oh if I get a little gangreen on me just pull out the scalpel and do a little amputation”. Bullshit, that might save me a couple of days but you’re still going bad quick and we all know it. It turns into a similar battle that we have with Milk, but at least milk uses blue collar pricing.

Your lucky you taste so good cheese because otherwise you would be on the prohibition list. You don’t want to be there, just ask the Chevy Cobalt.

All this being said, for a delicious way to add goat cheese to your salad, just toss a half-inch thick or so piece of cheese into some bread crumbs and fry it up in a pan quickly. It will be a little warm and gooey as you dig into your salad.

Why does people’s taste in TV shows suck?

The biggest loser, Real housewives of ” “, that show with the two nerds and the hot chick. Why do people watch this garbage when there are so many better shows that are produced each year???

Over the years stupid audiences have failed to pick up on amazing TV shows like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Life, and Arrested Development. These shows were all so strongly written and the characters were so well developed it boggles the mind to think how people couldn’t get into them. To make things worse, I always seem to pick the shows that get cancelled every year as my favourite new ones. I’m smart in my tv show selection, i’ll let you do the math on what that makes you.

Fortunately there are some networks that have vision and realize when they have a gem in their hands and they reap the rewards by having an uber-loyal audience to the shows. They also go out on the edge trying new brands of shows instead of re-packaging old crap and transpanting it in a new city (Hello CSI, Law & Order, and NCIS although to be fair NCIS, the original, is a good show).

If you haven’t seen these shows then you need to get your ass on the couch and focus:

1. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Get over the low-budget production and get into the way the cast interacts with each other) FX Networks

2. The Wire (Made it through 5 seasons, the best crime drama of the generation) HBO DVD

3. The League (A compliment to It’s Always Sunny…. and a necessity for any fantasy sports player) FX Networks

4. Tosh.0 (One of the top 3 stand-up comics out these days goes through online videos while making fun of anyone that gets in his way) Comedy Central/ The Comedy Network

5. Californication (Sharply written and makes you love David Duchovny again, this one is more mainstream than the other 4) Showtime

Networks also just announced their new upcoming fall schedules so i’ll be taking a look through and give you a possible top 5 to watch next fall over the upcoming weeks. I base my rankings on a scientific approach of cast, preview video, and name of show. I give myself a 10% chance of 1 of my chosen shows actually making it into a second season.

Concert Review: Mumford & Sons

Last Sunday night I had to head over to my brother’s place for my Mom’s birthday dinner. Now, I love my Mom and love spending time with her but I had been at a keg party the night before and was still feeling a little listless, lazy, and generally sour. But it was okay because I had an early exit strategy, a concert I had bought tickets too a few months before – Mumford & Sons with Guests. But as I sat down for a little greek salad with the fam, I had no clue that in my pocket I held tickets to one of the best concerts/performances I had ever seen.

It’s not like I was an easy sell that night either – hungover, Sunday night, tired, grumpy. So it was a rough start when I lined up with about 200 other people waiting to get in the door at 8 when it opened, thinking well the opener will probably start at 8:30, it is Sunday night after all right? It was an hour later when we finally learned the opening band would go on at 9:30 and Mumford & Sons would take the stage 10:45!!!! Grumble, grumble, grumpy me. But in the back of my mind I knew it would be worth waiting, even though tickets were a ridiculously low $20 each with taxes, fees, and everything else in.

The opening act took the stage at 9:30 and slowly people began to move toward the raised stage as the lead singer attempted to introduce the band but did so in such a garbled manner no one could make sense of it. My friend would later find out from the pianist of the band that they are called The Middle East. They started off rather sleepy, albeit melodic, before getting the crowd full force into it with some of their more upbeat tracks like Hunger. They saved the best for last, closing their set with the hauntingly beautiful Blood which begins soft and works its way up to a fantastic ending using xylophones, whistling, and trumpets along the way. Simply amazing to listen to in person, I look forward to seeing what this band can produce in the future and can’t wait to catch them next time they are in town.

That was just the opener though, the best was yet to come.

Mumford & Sons took the stage to a roar from the jammed dance floor of the club and quickly made people forget it was 10:45 on a Sunday night by starting off their set with the title track from their current album, Sigh No More. Their energy on stage never wavered as they berated and attacked their instruments with such fervor it was impossible to not be engrossed by their celtic rock sound. The unique sound of Markus Mumford’s voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar, cello, banjo, and piano is truly uplifting as you listen to their songs that often start slow before building into an all out furour by the last chord. All band members took time to interact with the crowd to give the show a more intimate feel and I would guess that not one person at the club would not have loved to have a beer with these genuine, nice-seeming guys. Everything came to an apex when the band played Roll Away Your Stone and The Middle East reappeared on stage halfway through to make as much noise as possible in conjunction with Mumford & Sons which only enhanced the song. The night wrapped up with an encore of Feel the Tide, which left everyone in the club wanting more and waiting for the next time this amazing band comes to town.

If Mumford & Sons are coming to your town I encourage you to buy as many tickets as you can and take as many friends as you can rustle up, because anyone that misses the chance to see these guys on this tour will be paying a lot more and not seeing them in as intimate a setting next time they are on the road. This band will be worth seeing for many years down the road.