I believed I mentioned that Aden and I had applied to be a participant on a reality televisual programme that deals with debt and financial management, and if I didn’t mention it, well then I meant to, and yes, that’s what we did.
The show is called Maxed Out, hosted by author and financial management wizard Alison Griffiths. Aden and I have watched it (as well as it’s rival show, ‘Til Debt Do Us Part) a handful of times, and found the ideas and practices that were presented on the show to be both insightful and inspirational. I’ve made no secret that I’ve dug myself into the hole with a lot of consumption, and it’s taken a long time for me to find myself in a position where I’m both mature enough to deal with it and in a situation where it encourages me to do so.
I’ve already established some strangleholds on my spending, I’ve got a plan in place and I’ve started budgeting my pay, so I think I’ve got it under control. If this is the case, then why would I apply to a TV show, where there’s regularly no one but out of control people with spending habits that eclipse my own dozens of times over? I dunno, to be honest. I mean, there are reasons, but at its core, I really don’t know what reasons really stuck out.
I mean, we pitched them as a debt-in-control couple with aspirations of buying a house in an expensive market (Toronto) and also striving to plan for the future (RRSPs, RESP). We’re atypical for the show, and we stressed that, but those types of “how to” things (how do we pay down debt, save for a house down payment and save for our family’s future all at once with what we have?) I’ve never seen on these programs and think it would be not only useful to us, but to any viewer in a similar situation. I’m all for educational TV.
So, the advantages we see are, first, that they give you a stipend for being on the show, and extra money is never a bad thing. Secondly, the resources the show can present to us are probably better than what we’d find on our own. Third, I’m a publicity hound (okay, not really). Fourth, shits and giggles. Fifth, to get educated and to understand the proper way to fiscally live one’s life (and enjoy it). That’s really what we want to get out of the show.
We’ve met with an associate producer who loved our application and mentioned that our objectives, from a couple of our status, is something they’ve been wanting to explore for some time. We sat down for a 1 hour interview which went exceptionally well, and just served to confirm with them that we’re what they’ve been looking for. Our “story” has gone to the “pitch” stage (the production needs the network’s approval before they can go ahead) and if it gets approved we will begin lensing shortly.
My perceptions of some of the barriers to us getting on the show include: not enough drama; not enough debt; not enough threat; and the fact we’re not allowing Aden’s little one to participate. There’s also the possibility that we might have to back out, as I’m trying to wrap my head around the agreement we have to sign (it’s with one of my legal team now for interpretation) and how much we have to give up in order to appear on television.
We’re excited to go on the show if my objections about the agreement turn out to be unfounded or can be overcome, and our experience so far has been a positive one (their excitement over us is quite flattering). I don’t know how much I can discuss about the process when it’s happening (or even after) so if I’m somewhat silent on the matter, please forgive me.
I believed I mentioned that Aden and I had applied to be a participant on a reality televisual programme that deals with debt and financial management, and if I didn’t mention it, well then I meant to, and yes, that’s what we did.
Only the most powerful, potent, original or refreshing of movies will stick with you after seeing them. The Kingdom is not one of those movies, as a mere two months later my memories are entirely hazy about the general progress of the story. Actually, for quite a while I kept forgetting that I’d actually seen this film (asking of my wife “what’s that film we saw before The Assassination of Jesse James…?). That’s not to say that it was a bad movie… when I search my brain superficially I recall enjoyment, a CSI in the UAE where the political climate impedes the CIA investigation into a terrorist bombing on an American base. But for all the great crime procedural elements, the “they’re not so different from us” bonding moments between Arabs and Americans, the film tosses clues and such things completely out the window as it degrades into an action/rescue endeavor (that’s still pretty damn intense but completely negates all that it’s built to). It ultimately breaks it’s commentary down into the circular (human) nature of violence (a potent message weakly made). The acting by Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman and others is solid throughout, the opening credits are fantastic (the film has gotten more blog notoriety for the credits than the actual movie) and director Peter Berg continues to prove that he’s the thinking person’s action filmmaker. Good, but forgettable. 3.5/5
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
There’s a moment early on in The Longest Film Title of the Year where I absolutely fell in love with this movie. We’ve been introduced to Jesse James (Brad Pitt), his brother, and the rest of their outlaw gang, including the wide-eyed keener Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), and they’re prepping for a train robbery. At dusk they load up the tracks with a pile of logs to halt the train, and they put on their masks and hide in the bushes as the dark consumes them. Jesse, holding a lantern, walks out onto the track, the dim glow lighting the closeup of his face. The camera pulls a tighter focus on the distance, the black void behind Jesse. We see nothing, and there’s at first silence, barely a rustle of the wind through trees, and then a distinctive chug getting louder, a glimmer in the distance, growing larger, showing the outline of the trees on either sides of the track, the light growing brighter as the chugs get louder, the train broaches a corner and comes around, visible getting closer as the camera pulls back to reveal Jesse standing atop the logs with his lantern. It’s such a visually awe-inspiring moment, it sucks you right into the movie. Ultimately what it’s about is Jesse’s descent into madness as he sees (perhaps rightly) conspiracies all around him (but also his status as a family man has focus), and Ford’s initial adoration and idolization of the man making way into envy and resentment. Ford becomes the original psychotic fan, the likes of which wound up killing John Lennon and attacking David Letterman and Stephen King. It’s a fascinatingly rich story, with a curious assortment of characters, and despite knowing the fates of the characters in advance, there’s a mystery and mystique that director/writer Andrew Dominick (based of Ron Hansen’s novel, this is only his second movie, the first being the Eric Bana launchpad Chopper) retains throughout, with it’s bleak and grey vistas inspiring and chilling. Phenomenal. -5/5-.
Blades of Glory
Will Ferrell is a funny guy when Will Ferrell does his Will Ferrell thing. Here Will Ferrell gets to do the Will Ferrell thing and it’s as entertaining as it is absurd. Jon Heder, on the other hand doesn’t have a thing, but instead has Napoleon Dynamite looming over his head, and it really means the guy can’t have a real career, ever. He’s not that great of an actor and he’s even less a comedian, definitely not able to keep up with the likes of Ferrell, Will Arnette, Amy Pohler, Rob Coddry, or, hell, even former pro Ice Skater Scott Hamilton. The bonus features, outtakes and other assorted sundries on the DVD serve to prove the point, and those bonus attributes are actually far more entertaining than this amusingly stupid and utterly disposable one-time-use comedy. -2/5-
The Right Stuff
This is one of those classic ’80’s movies that I’ve never watched before, but wow, it’s the logical predecessor to HBO’s From Earth To The Moon mini-series and Apollo 13, and I had no idea. It’s fascinating to have these cinematic records of the U.S. space program, how it progressed, the challenges it faced, and the central figures and faces that made it happen. This features (as if you didn’t know) the early flights where man breaks the sound barrier, the early tests jet planes and space capsules and the like, and the early voyages into the upper atmosphere (although I saw a documentary the other day on the man who went up into the upper atmosphere in a weather balloon to test the effects on humans and then parachuted down and there’s no mention of that brave soul here), all up until the start of the Apollo program (which From Earth To The Moon takes care of). Most surprisingly is how the film, unlike most from the ’80’s still holds up terrifically. We now just need a film that captures the early days of the Russian space program… 4.5/5
Ham & Cheese
Before he went on to become a third-tier celebrity on the Daily Show and as Molson Canadian’s current pitchman, Jason Jones was a nobody comedy troupe comedian in Toronto eking out a living with his wife, fellow Daily Show correspondent and comedienne Samatha Bee. I think integral to getting them out of the comedy gutter and into something that actually paid a decent wage was this mockumentary (ala Christopher Guest’s Best In Show or Waiting For Guffman). Jones and co-star Mike Beaver wrote the script (which gives the appearance of improvisation by it’s cast of Canadian comedy talent but is fully scripted) for the story which finds Jones’ insurance salesman Barry Goodson tossing away his life with reckless abandon to pursue an acting career he’s too oblivious to actually succeed in (the same kind of role Ben Stiller plays in half his movies). Beaver, meanwhile, is a small town migrant who come to Toronto to pursue his own acting career, but instead of being oblivious to criticism is actually too naive to understand any of it, and it’s through dogged relentlessness that he sallies forth. It’s not a great movie, but it’s amusing enough for those that like the mocumentary style of filmmaking. It has no polish and is often too awkward for its own good, but the performances are sold by the leads. 2.5/5
Much like Blades of Glory above, Dodgeball is about absurdity that mistakes itself for reality only to often be reminded cruelly how absurd it actually is. It’s your typical down-on-their-luck schlubs versus the popular crowd/corporate tyrants, with obvious results. Vince Vaughn plays the Vince Vaughn character that Vince Vaughn plays when he doesn’t really have to try: affable, somewhat charming, somewhat lewd, but ultimately a stand-up guy, who in this case owns a poorly managed gym. Ben Stiller plays the sub-intelligent, work-out obsessive, state-of-the-art gym owner across the street who wants to shut Vaughn down, evict his loser clientèle and build a parking lot. The two naturally compete over a woman, played by Stiller’s wife, who obviously picks the good guy. Anyway, for Vaughn to keep his merry band of losers in a place to hang out, they decide to enter an ESPN 8 (”the Ocho!”) sponsored Dodgeball tournament with a cash prize that would bail them out. It’s all very predictable, with the usual assortment of irreverent, absurd and juvenile moments one comes to expect from these endeavours. It’s funny at times, but it doesn’t hold true enough to its irreverent conceit to really push it over the top where it needs to be. Compare with other faux sports comedies like Baseketball and Blades…. It’s on that same amusing but, again, disposable level. -2/5-
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
I’ve never gotten into Westerns too much, especially the classic ones. I watched Leone’s Once Upon A Time In Mexico not too long ago, but honestly remember very little of it (perhaps it was good, but I remember it plodded along over 3 hours, I forgot to write about it here)… perhaps it was the movie or that I just don’t relate very well to westerns. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of those movies people tell you that you must see, and I did. It was, let’s say, a revelation… oh, not in that overwrought, hyperbolic way bad film reviewers mean to get their names in quotes on tv commercials, but rather “revelation” in the sense that I see where directors like Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie pulled some inspiration from (the sudden freeze frame and title card, or the focus on a wide shot which suddenly becomes a profile close-up). My first Eastwood western, and for the first 90 minutes, I saw the appeal, the draw of Blondie (The Man With No Name), Angel Eyes and Tuco but the hour where the focus seems to be more focussed on the Civil War and getting weirdly patriotic (with Tuco and Blondie entering the frey) than a cold-hearted outlaw western. The final showdown is a brilliant piece of filmmaking, much of the film is, but yeah, it’s an epic sized movie that’s not really epic enough to deserve the run time. -3.5/5-
Caught this New Zealand comedy duo on tele on Friday, and found them quite funny (this song is particularly hilarious). According to the old wikipedia, Flight of the Concords have had an award winning BBC radio series and currently have their own HBO series (now available on DVD).
w. Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, d. Wes Anderson. The opening scenes of the movie proper of The Darjeeling Limited find Bill Murry, suited and dapper, in the back of a taxi cart whipping along the streets of an unnamed Indian town, dodging pedestrians, cyclists, rickshaws, other taxi carts, cows and other livestock in such a fury that would imply there are no street rules in India. The garb of the town’s residents are bright and shocking against a backdrop of browns, umbers, siennas and clay and there’s just enough differential to show more than just a sea of mud. I turned to my wife an queried if that would be her uncle, who surprisingly one day not too long ago decided to take a trip to India, a place, to even his own children’s knowledge, he’d never expressed an interest in going to.
The end result of the mad dash through town was so that Murray might catch his train, and running along with his boarding pass and his luggage in hand he chases the train down the long platform, it’s name painted on the back, The Darjeeling Limited, moving only slightly closer, the threat of running out of platform or the train picking up steam looming. Suddenly, sprinting past Murray is Adrien Brody’s Peter, well groomed, striding long and lean, and providing a little smile as he passes the older gentleman, one of Wes Anderson’s twee music choices playing over the scene, heading into a patented Anderson slow-motion swell as Peter boards the train, leaving Murray behind passing a meaningless (yet somehow noteworthy) glance at the man standing in front of the door, who passes an equally meaningless (yet somehow noteworthy) glance back.
The whole sequence is quintessentially Wes Anderson. The composure of the scenes, the timing of the edits, the close-ups of faces, the soundtrack, the sound effects, the angles (or lack thereof), the momentum, and the general goodwill all of this extends to the audience. It’s humorous but it’s not comedy, per se, but watching it, and being an admirer of Anderson’s work, it immediately put a smile on my face, and welcomed me into the film.
A video demonstration of the Amazon Kindle tells me much of what I need to know about this new paperless reader. It’s a nifty gadget for sure, and its potential is great, but I do have a few issues:
1) subscriber rates to read blogs or feeds… as selected by Amazon (it would like it if I could convert my blog into a “Kindle friendly” blog, and my friends could do the same, or if I could set up a feed that would convert the content into Kindle format)
2) how many books are actually going to be available on Kindle?
3) Comics? Yeah, didn’t think so. If Kindle could partner with comics makers to provide digitally available comics that were easily read on Kindle, that would be an easy sell for me.
4) The fact that it will allow you to convert your Word docs and other files to Kindle format is great, but it also for a fee. Also, since you can’t un-convert your file it’s not really transportable (I guess the idea is for Kindle to be just a reader and not a file transferrer, but still, in this world things should be that flexible). Also, they should sell or provide a Kindle converter you can put on your own computer and then upload to the unit rather than having to constantly pay them for converting your own files.
The electronic-paper display is pretty sweet, and the tabbing and notes function of the unit is pretty impressive (but can you extract your notes?). Autoconnecting to Wikipedia is fab, the on-board dictionary and lookup function, equally bril. The connection being more like a cellular rather than wi-fi is an excellent idea.
I’m not sold (especially at $400), as I think something less proprietary is in order, but good on Amazon for getting the first to market with a rather well thought out product.
more on Kindle
The buzz the past couple of days has been about the “Sesame Street: Old School Volumes 1 and 2″ self-imposed warning that states “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”
I can attest that no, the episodes aren’t exactly relevant to today’s kids, lacking a lot of today’s sensibilities about child safety and attitudes we would like our kids to have. Cookie Monster has an eating disorder, strange men approach Ernie in the park offering him things under his overcoat, kids are shown playing around trash heaps, Oscar’s disposition isn’t something we want kids to emulate… etc. But at the same time, it’s entertaining, not just to adults who grew up on the show, but to small children. I seriously think we’re not giving today’s youth enough credit to watch, and interpret storyies, sketches, and songs, and we’re also giving them too much credit that they may read things into the show that clearly are beyond a child’s understanding. Did we have any issues with watching Sesame Street? Nope, it was bright and colorful educational entertainment. We didn’t think that Ernie and Bert were a couple when we were little, there was nothing about Mr. Snuffleupagus that made us think he was a drug induced hallucination, and we certainly didn’t think Gordon was the resident drug dealer (seriously, dude never had a job, but always had nice clothes and was hanging out on the streets all day). These are thing that we, as adults project on the show, but as kids, it’s all just fun and sillyness.
Quite frankly, the wee one loves watching these old Sesame Street shows, and we love watching them with him… and that’s the problem with today’s parents… it’s cliche, but seriously too many parents think of TV as a babysitter. I know when my step son is watching TV or a DVD, he’s got questions, wondering about what’s happening, why it’s happening, why something is funny or why people are sad, etc. That’s why you watch with them, so you can answer questions instead of leaving them alone to passively take it all in without really understanding everything they see. Even if it’s something he’s watched a dozen times, sometimes he still has questions…
If we know he’s seen someting a few times, we’re a little more liberal about leaving him to watch something on his own, but still, we check in on him or he’ll come seek us out if he still has questions.
The New York Times probes the overreactions to how damaging our youth was to us…
w,d: The Coen Bros.. I’m not what one would call “well-read” even though I read a lot. Most of what I read, however, has pictures with their words which much of the literature snobberati wouldn’t call quality reading. I might agree with them but then I realize that those are just prejudices, and that every medium can be looked at differently by purveyors of another. I like comic books, a lot, so sue me. My point being, anyway, that I know nothing of author Cormac McCarthy or his style of writing or storytelling. I’m a film lover, though, and the Coen Brothers I do know and appreciate highly, so the draw to No Coutry For Old Men was based on their name alone. As the Bros. Coen love to mess around in different genres - as late slapstick comedy with The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty and even O Brother, Where Art Thou? - so I had no preconceptions about what I was entering into with their latest, again, having no experience with McCarthy or his “nouveaux Western” styling.
No Country is a cold and violent film, but not in the same manner as, say, David Cronenberg’s recent ventures. This McCarthy adaptation is very much melding of comic book action scenarios and Sergio Leone-esque Western character tropes with the Coen Brother’s oft-explored fascination with crimes, criminals, greed and getting away with it.
I’ve removed all my debt cards (Visa, MasterCard and my “line of credit” banking card) from my wallet. This security blanket of not-my-money-in-my-pocket now ceases to exist… or would if I didn’t so easily remember the card numbers and expiry dates (and if my favourite on-line shopping places didn’t keep them in record). Anyway, they’re in a safe place now and I don’t have to worry about them anymore. I just get to pay them off.
Of course, the “convenience card” factor is the reason why we keep them in our wallets to begin with, and I didn’t realize how useful this was until yesterday when I was at the dentist. I’m so used to paying for things outright that I began to panic a little when I realized I had forgotten to bring a debt card with me. Of course, in the end, they can bill me and I can pay it when I have the money (returned to me from benefits coverage, yay) which is such an old-school way of dealing with one’s expenses… but it works. Paying for things when you actually have the money surprisingly works. Huh. How ’bout that?
…in part at least:
“Blog-era indie fans are among the most promiscuous music listeners around, and it’s precisely this insatiable need for new bands among both fans and blogs desperate for more content that’s forced Black Kids into this position. For every major band that fits Pareles’ description like the Arcade Fire, where fans tape their photos to their lockers like they were Soulja Boy, there is an endless progression of “important” next big things to be forgotten about with the next iPod cull.”
w. Tony Gilroy, d. Sydney Pollack and Tony Gilroy. The rumour had it last month that George Clooney was circling around the proposed G.I. Joe project, perhaps at the behest of his agent, the press lamenting the disappearance of Clooney’s “star power” since the man hasn’t had a solid blockbuster in years. But, it’s been his choice to select directors he wants to work with, to executive produce films he wants to see get made, to star in films that are interesting and not just vacuous cinema (although the appeal of working on cinematic fluff with pal Steven Soderbergh on the Oceans 11 series doesn’t escape him either) that make him admirable and have turned his old tabloid reputation of “E.R.” hunk who starred in cash grabs like The Peacemaker and Batman and Robin to the class act who invests his all into films like Good Night, And Good Luck and Syriana.
Michael Clayton has already proven via box office receipts that it’s not going to be a huge success and that Clooney’s name alone is not a strong enough draw for the everyman. But a movie like this would have 15 years ago starred Michael Douglas and made twice or three times as much money. Why? Because Douglas pigeonholed himself as “the corporate thriller” guy, so any picture he was in, you’d roughly know what to expect. Clooney, not so much. For many of the wanna-be Clooney fans (those soccer moms and middle-Americans), his choice of cinema over the past few years has been far too literate, esoteric or socially relevant. That’s not what most Americans want in this age where they’re racked with massive debt, conditioned to be in a falsified state of panic, their country’s in a war that’s superseding Viet Nam as an utter debacle, and their economy is falling to pieces around them as their dollar deflates. They want escapism.
Since it’s during the BNY I won’t be getting this anyway, and seeing as I already have some (very crappy) copies of the show on DVD I shouldn’t buy it anyway, but there’s a new box set of Father Ted on the horizon and yes, I want it…
$430 of unbudgeted monies added to my MasterCard this weekend. Necessary, but it doesn’t make me happy. Most of that money is coming back, since they were expenses that are going to be reimbursed, in a sense, but yeah, I’d rather these things stopped happening.
We rented a cargo van ($155) for Saturday and Sunday, a monstrous beast which sucked up fuel like nobody’s business. It’s a modern van (a 2008 Chevy) so it had some nice console features including a digital display which allowed you to view things like Avg. Fuel consumed per 100KM, est. remaining distance based on fuel, and total fuel consumed, as well as total KM on the vehicle. I kept it on the total fuel consumed gauge and watched as the dimes were eaten up like Pac Man dots. The thing’s average fuel consumption was under 5KM per litre of gas, and it’s highway consumption was about 7KM per litre. Atrocious. I felt guilty for even driving the thing. But drive it I did, almost 500 KM in total, as I ventured up to Barrie to help my sister out with moving between practice spaces (she’s an RMT) and then off to Brantford to take our second bed to Aden’s parents. I fuelled up before leaving and from 2/5 of a tank it cost me $72 dollars to fill’er up. Oy.
Between it all we went grocery shopping ($212) at the Superstore, which we do anytime we get a vehicle, since it is like heaven after having to put up with Dominion’s sorry ass for weeks on end. Of course, we always wind up with things that aren’t food, which this time included some Christmas presents for the wee one, which is great to get that out of the way, but it all wasn’t budgeted for this week.. so I’ve deducted the amount off my future X-mas spending money and I’ve adjusted my next pay-period’s debt payment to include the difference from what’s not getting paid back to me, so it’s all taken care of, but yeah, dropping $450 in two days is frightening when you’re trying not to accumulate more debt.
But on the positive side, that’s some PC points and Air Miles well earned…
If I had my druthers I’d completely ignore Christmas altogether.
Yes, it’s that time of year where the old “X” slaps us in both our secular and non-secular faces alike for all too long of a period.
I’ve probably talked about this before but the commercialism of the season has far overwhelmed its religious connotations so I’m no longer offended by Christians and their symbolism slapping me in the face over and over again every year of my life. But the whole commercial aspect gives me the heebie jeebies. Halloween wasn’t even over when Canadian Tire was already putting up Christmas displays… MID-FLIPPIN’-OCTOBER!
Seriously, not cool.
If I had my druthers, which I don’t, my participation in X-Mas would be, well, nil, as would my family’s. I think the glut of stuff (and in general about one or two-thirds of it is shit we either don’t need or want or both) we receive is atrocious, and then there’s kids who are these days doused with things they will never give each enough attention to really be worthwhile….
So in the spirit of this discussion, I thought I’d mention that I picked up the gifts for my stepson that I’m going to get him. He’s a toy car nut, so I got him a die-cast helicoper, because he doesn’t have a helicopter yet. He’s also getting a big Tonka dump truck, because his little plastic one has been used to pieces and really isn’t going to last the winter.
He keeps jawing about a table-top train set he’s seen in the Toys-R-Us catalogue but we’ve no room for it to start, and he’s already got enough tracks and trains and accessories that there’s not much more he really needs anyway. The other thing he’s been agawking at is some Lego-town stuff he’s seen on TV. The problem is this delightful child is so incredibly finicky and he won’t just build stuff with Lego, no, it has to be built EXACTLY like it is on the box, which he can’t do himself. And he’s a little too young still to understand Lego’s fragility, so he’s rough with them and they fall apart quickly, and Aden or I or Uncle B (the “B” stands for Basement Dweller) are left to put the pieces together. So yeah, none of that.
It sounds kind of cold hearted, but this well-loved child is surrounded, sometimes literally, with toys. Not only does he have a closet full (literally) of stuffed animals, a couple drawers full of small cars, shelves full of big cars, action figures galore (thanks to Aden and I), giant Star Wars vehicles, three baskets full of trains, three big baskets full of tracks and accessories, and still more stuff arriving all the time (recently the Richard Scarry Busy Town playsets my sister and I had as kids), which isn’t to mention the plethora of kid-friendly cartoons and TV-on-DVD I have and books and comics which he’s going to at some point soon be able to read himself (recently added the Sesame Street Library vol. 1-12 plus a half dozen issues of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew to the stacks, which he’s loving). He’s got plenty to keep him occupied and happy, so you’ll forgive me if we don’t spent hundreds of dollars on him just because advertisers tell us we should.
I sat down and crunched the numbers and with BNY in place I should be able to pay off my debt load completely by January 2009. That’s about 14 months, or 28 paycheques, worth of budgeting and I don’t doubt that it’ll be tough, but I look forward to it, and I look forward to being debt free. I’ve even managed to factor in a healthy amount of spending money for each pay period so I’m not going to be completely skint, but I’m also not going to be able to spend frivolously either… I’m actually going to have to budget out my 15 days between pay each month.
I’ve already started, and it certainly is a challenge. The temptation to dip into debt (via “credit” cards and line of “credit”) is very tempting, but I’ve resisted so far. With $40 in cash in my wallet to start out last weekend and about $70 in the bank account may seem like a lot, but factoring in public transportation, groceries, and miscellaneous expenses, it disappears rather quickly.
Aden and I have started bringing lunches to work this week (last week we tried bringing sandwiches but we only succeeded twice) and it’s all been advance preparation that’s allowed us to. Aden made chili on Sunday (some taken to work, the rest frozen), we had leftover lasagna on Wednesday, and I christened our new crock pot yesterday by gettin’ myself a stew goin’ like Carl Weathers, some take to work today, the rest frozen.
Progress, slow and steady.
Aden and I have been very diligent about walking to the subway every morning for our commute downtown to work. It’s about a 20 minute, 1.5 KM walk which, I can tell you, is much better than standing around waiting for the Sheppard bus, which can often take about 15 to 20 minutes, be jam packed with high school kids and generally an uncomfortable ride (and in the looming winter, it’ll be better to be moving than standing still).
We walk along the residential streets, crossing one major street (Wilson Heights Blvd.) along the way. At the traffic lights of the intersection of this major street and the residential street, there are signs posted permitting no turning or straight through traffic from the major to the residential street from 7am to 10am. I noticed these signs back in late spring and also noticed a high number drivers ignored the signs. There are quite a few schools in the area, so there’s a lot of parents taking the road to drop their kids off, as well, the street bridges the gap between Wilson Heights and Bathurst street, which makes it an attractive alternative to the often backed-up Sheppard Ave. But I imagine the “no turn” signs are intended as a traffic calming measure in the neighbourhood, and they weren’t working. Until recently.
Okay, they’re still not working, only now there’s a police officer (or two) stationed about a half-block in on the street pulling over the bulk of motorists who decide to ignore the signage. Aden and I take great pleasure every morning walking past the row of cars the cops have pulled over and are giving tickets to, and then stopping (and usually waiting) at the lights at Wilson Heights keeping a eye out for any other traffic that decides to turn down the street, and keenly observing whether they get busted or if the cops are already too busy to pull more over.
It brings us great joy, this misery of others. It’s a great start to my day, I must say. I think the highlight was the one day a short bus full of children was pulled over, I imagine much to the delight of the kids inside. Another day a mini van was pulled over and the mother had her three kids scramble out of the car and make their way to school on foot, as she was fourth in line to be served her ticket. Today a man in an Audi (or Lexus maybe) was pulled over and got out of his car and proceeded to debate with the cop about why he got pulled over. A few vehicles behind him, a Puralator van.
When we were standing at the Wilson Blvd. lights, I noticed two Bell Canada vans in the left turning lane waiting to turn onto the residential street. I was smiling because I knew these guys were going to get busted but I also noticed the front driver having a look around. When he looked at me I smiled and pointed up towards the sign and then indicated he should drive straight through. At first he was a little annoyed, as if to say, “whatever, it’s just a sign” but then I think he caught sight the officers down the block walking between their pullovers. A third Bell van, unable to see down the road, was confused as to why the two vans in front of him suddenly turned right instead of left from the left turning lane and he continued on his path, noticing immediately the trap awaiting him and sharply turning into a driveway and turning around before he could get caught.
Yes, this is what makes my day a happy one from the get go.
I have none.
That bag of chocolate and candies and chips that the little one brought back from trick-or-treating has tempted me far too many times. And for every fifteen moment of resistance, I am rewarded with one prolonged moment of failure.
It haunts me, that bag of those tiny chocolates. “Have some,” they say in a nasally-gravelly Robert Evans-esque voice, “you’ll like it.”
“Of course I’ll like it,” I say, “but I’ll like it too much. So no, I won’t have any.”
“Not no, yes” it replies ever so convincingly.
Damn it. Damn it ever so much.
I’ve lost track of my failures, but they’re in the dozens over the past week, that much I can tell you.
Shame is awash over me.
Since I’ve been thinking a lot about my debt, I figured I should work a little harder at planning how I spend my money. I’m going to look at all the advanced solicitations from the bigger publishers so I can help figure out what I’ll be buying, what mini-series and stories perhaps I should stop buying in order to minimize purchases.