Sunday 29 July 2012

Do I have a movie for you!

Those on-line movie reviews aren’t really helpful. They tell you the genre – romantic comedy, sci-fi, thriller- and whether it’s good or bad, but how do you know that it’s good or bad for YOU? Here are some categories that will help you find a match for YOUR life style:

You need innovative ways of overcoming traffic snarls. Go see THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN or DARK KNIGHT RISES. Spidey’s web, though efficient, comes in a distant second to the Bat-Pod, so beautifully described in the New Yorker as “a motorbike crossed with a very angry praying mantis.” It allows you to make sharp turns without going into “something as tedious as a curve”. That’s the kind of vehicle you need on a dark and rainy night in New York.

Fifty Shades of Gray lover
PROMETHEUS is for you (and you don’t have to wear out your eyes reading). I don’t know why they didn’t call that movie “100 Shades of Gray”. I’m talking about those chic Nehru style gray suits everyone is wearing, not to mention the slick-skinned gray humanoid at the very beginning of the movie. I’d kill for his silver complexion and steely-gray muscles, although they turned out to be water soluble. So if you get hold of the costume, avoid swimming pools. A serious fashion contender is Spidey’s Negative Zone suit, although invisibility can be risky, especially on a dark and rainy night in New York.Tired of gray but definitely into metal? Rent the old OO7 movie, GOLDFINGER.

In an unsatisfactory relationship
Take someone new into your home, like the family in THE IMPOSTER did. They welcomed a young man who claimed to be their missing teenage son. Critics ask how could the family not notice the changes in his appearance? But these critics don’t understand the concept. The whole idea is to get what you want. Those people couldn’t be bothered with a blond, blue eyed, pimpled teenager. They wanted someone darker-eyed, grown up, and with a 5-o’clock shadow. You don’t want an impostor? You want the real thing? In RUBY SPARKS, a writer creates a character who comes to life. Why didn’t I think of that? I could have written myself a perfect spouse/date/child. Only problem: the film doesn’t tell you what to do when you get tired of them. How do you write that person out of your life? You can see the unfortunate consequences in TED. A guy brings his cuddly plush toy to life, and the toy man sticks around and turns into a beer-guzzling, weed-happy party animal, coming between him and his girlfriend. Go see all three films. You may suddenly find your present relationship a lot more satisfactory.

Real estate investor
Check out QUEEN OF VERSAILLES and FAREWELL, MY QUEEN. They are tales of caution for the real-estate obsessed. Not sure what you think about queens, so don’t know which movie would be better for YOU. There seems to be a wide range of queen behaviour. Some common factors: wearing low cut dresses, being a passionate shopper, marrying a monarch (hereditary or time-share king), having many children (minimum four, maximum seven).But there are differences, too: Marie Antoinette is sexually more versatile, also her hair is bigger and her jewellery more tasteful than Jackie Siegel’s, but then Marie A didn’t have to live through construction and put up with plywood stairs and workmen leaving around 2x4s. In any case, there seems to be no happy ending for the inhabitants of super-sized houses. I can see them slipping into bankruptcy, but beheading seems a little extreme.

Couch potato
It’s not often that a film comes along that suits the sedentary lifestyle, a film in which people mostly sit around on upholstered seats. In that respect, COSMOPOLIS is unique. The protagonist only gets up when it’s really, really worth it, like having the doctor prod his anus or killing someone. Carefully watch Robert Pattinson's facial expressions. None. That's right. He is a master of the sedentary style. He doesn't move a muscle unless absolutely necessary. The whole film is a lesson in what you can achieve sitting down: talking, losing your fortune, talking, watching slow moving traffic, talking, watching demonstrations, talking, watching funerals. Did I mention talking?

So now you are equipped to make the right decisions. I know you are already asking yourself: why get an education when you can learn this much from the movies?

Thursday 26 July 2012

Living is dangerous to your health. Essential knowledge for survivors.

Whatever you do, keep moving. Lack of physical activity causes 1 in 10 deaths, as Carly Weeks tells us in the Globe & Mail (23 July). And she doesn’t even mention contributing factors that will make your death more likely, statistically speaking, such as:

Lying in Bed
-Lying down may inhibit physical activity. Learn to sleep standing up!
-You are engaging in physical activity while lying down with your neighbour’s wife. Don't.  Adulterous sex is 38 % more likely to induce a heart attack than sex with your mate of 27 years.

Dangerous driving
Watch for these factors contributing to death:
-Riding in an ambulance. Those ambulance drivers are 56 % more likely to run a red light than your average drunken teenager.
- Riding a getaway car after robbing a bank. Getaway car drivers are 78% more likely to run a red light than a drunken teenager, AND there’s a 32% risk of being hit by flying bullets from pursuing cop cars.

Watch out for these factors contributing to death:
-You own a boa constrictor and forgot to feed it.
-You’ve just been handed the mechanic’s bill for the repair of your car.

Contributing factor:
-You dissed the local Mafioso and your feet are encased in concrete.
-If “drowning” is a metaphor for being in debt, you have an excellent chance of survival. Only 0.03% of the population die of metaphors.

Presence of medical personnel
-Contact with the medical profession has been documented prior to 48% of deaths. So, stay away from doctors, nurses, and ambulance drivers (especially ambulance drivers; see above "Dangerous Driving").
-Aggravating factor: presence of cleric administering last rites

Lying in a coffin
This condition has been shown to be 99% lethal, unless you are a vampire or zombie or the coffin is being used in a Halloween play.     

Being human
The rate of death in human beings is 99.9%.
Contributing factors: DNA
There is a small possibility of recall through Ouija board app (0.001%) or reincarnation (0.02%). Outright immortality may be achieved through poetry (0.03%) or deification (depending on era and continent, 0.01-0.03%). And that’s it, I’m afraid.

No wait, there is one other possibility, if you can manage not to die before 2045. By that time, you’ll be able to upload your mind to a hologram-avatar and live forever, according to Dmitry Itskov who is working on the technology. Itskov, who received the blessing of the Dalai Lama for his project, doesn’t say how much he will charge for his services. At this point he is pitching them to the world’s billionaires. So if you are not in that select group, you may have to fall back on reincarnation and take your chances on being reborn as a toad.

Monday 23 July 2012

Spend your money wisely and/or realize your earning power.

It’s the season to travel, and you are wavering between Canada, the US, or Mexico. Maybe this will help you make up your mind:

In love with New York? You’ll never have to leave if you have $500,000 in the bank. That sum will buy you American citizenship. It’s cheaper to buy into Canada, though. We give a bad-weather discount. Another great Canadian opportunity if you like travel: get a licence to kill a walrus. It’s a bargain for under $10,000. You might get hurt in the hunt and need to call your doctor? Well, then Canada may not be the country for you. Doctors don’t give out cell phone numbers there. For that you have to go to the States and fork over $ 1500. Too much, you say? For a discount, cross the Californian border and go to Mexicali. Heck, the doctor there will give you his number for free if you decide to enhance your holiday and have your tummy stapled or your hips liposuctioned while on vacation. 

Where do I get all this fascinating info? Some of it comes from Michael Sandel’s new book, What Money Can’t Buy. If you are more interested in earning rather than spending money, he has some tips for you too.

People will pay you $ 20 for standing in line on their behalf, or $ 1000 for advertising their wares on your forehead, or up to $5000 for being a guinea pig in a drug trial. But those options have limited earning potential. I mean how much advertising fits on your forehead? Here are some fresh ideas for the truly entrepreneurial looking for lasting profits.

Rent-a-bragger. Many people will ask themselves, why advertise other people's stuff on my face, when I can blow my on horn on Facebook? The problem is they can’t come up with a suitable message. If you are a talented bragger, why not sell them self-aggrandizing narcissistic postings at $ 200/pop?

Rent-a-bone. Some people sell their organs, which involves nasty operations and may lead to premature death. No need to take risks if you suffer from arthritis and can tell in your bones when it will rain. Rent out your arthritic bones for a safe weather forecast at $ 50/week, $100, if a long weekend is involved.

Rent-a-sufferer. Those stiletto heels and pointy toes are a pain, especially on the first day you wear your new shoes. Wouldn’t you pay someone to wear them in and cripple their toes for you? Conversely, would you be prepared to suffer if someone paid you? Think about it. There are many and lucrative opportunities for the professional sufferer: rent out your rump and save someone from sitting through boring lectures, from listening to Mom’s nagging on the phone, from writing monthly snail mail letters to elderly relatives who must be humoured because they send large cheques at Christmas. And the list goes on.

Rent-a-bully. You have an unmanageable son who spends much time in the vice-principal’s office? Rent him out to a wimp at $ 20/recess. Give him a way to work out his frustrations and help a vulnerable child at the same time. And while we are on the topic of offsprings,

Rent-a-rich-buddy. If your child goes to a prestigious private school, recoup some of your costs by renting him/her out as a friend to those in need of feeling superior to their pals. This can turn into a career when he/she grows up. There is always a demand for escorts with private school manners to make a good impression at family reunions, office Christmas parties, etc.

And finally: Don’t die for free. Sell your soul to the devil.

Thursday 19 July 2012

The Power of Positive Thinking. Happiness Guaranteed, or Your Depression Back.

Here is some advice for you on how to be happy:

BOY FRIENDS. They can seriously affect your mood, so make sure you get the right type. Luckily Jessica Massa explains it all in her latest book, Gaggle. She suggests surrounding yourself with useful types. My personal favourites are The Ego Booster, The Career Booster, and the Hot Sex Prospect. Between the three of them, they should be able to keep me happy.

WEATHER. We all know: weather affects your mood. So you read the forecast. 36 degrees in the morning and torrential thunderstorm with hail the size of goose eggs in the afternoon? I’m phoning in sick, you say, and hiding out in the basement, watching TV. But it turns out to be a perfect summer day, sunny, 26 degrees, with a pleasant breeze. You could have phoned in sick and gone to the beach! That’s why I applaud Dutch labour councillors. They want forecasters to put a positive spin on the weather report and threaten to slap them with fines if their gloomy forecasts are wrong. Check it out:

Monday 16 July 2012

Books, Shmooks: Musings on the New York Times Best Seller List

1.    FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. What’s the difference between “pornographic” and “erotic”? A mainstream publisher.
2.    FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, volume 2. Make like Hollywood. If it sells, put out a sequel ASAP.
3.    FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, volume 3. I’d be ashamed to put such schlock on my bookshelf. I’ll get it on Kindle.
4.    GONE GIRL. A woman disappears on the day of her anniversary. Is her husband the killer? Or was it the author, killing off a boring character?
5.    BARED TO YOU. Two troubled people develop an intense relationship. Wonder what this is about? A debt-ridden shrink and his patient? Mitt Romney and his VP candidate? Two obese people on adjacent seats in the subway?
6.    BLOODLINE. Where have I read this before? Oh, it’s on my bookshelf. Has been since 1968. But the 2012 book is by Rollins, and my 1968 copy is by Gaines. Is this another example of the 60s being hot again? Or just an example of recycling titles? Hhm. Should I entitle my next novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT? Or FIFTY-ONE SHADES OF GREY?
7.    SUMMERLAND. The after effects of a deadly automobile crash. I’m waiting for WINTERLAND, the effects of a deadly avalanche. Or FALLLAND – no, too many ells. Make that AUTUMNLAND: Buried under a mound of leaves. SPRINGLAND: Drowning in a sea of mud. Too bad there are only four seasons, or three sequels. What was the publisher thinking of?
8.    FIFTY SHADES OF GREY TRILOGY. See 1,2, and 3. And possibly 6.
9.    COMING HOME. The Baxters plan a family reunion, but before the big day, the unthinkable happens. Like what? Only three people show up because everyone hates reunions? The catering service they hired folds and leaves them scrambling for a last-minute replacement? Uncle Fred quits smoking?
10. ONCE BURNED. Passion ignites between a vampire and a mortal cursed with dark power. Call 911. A commission will be appointed to determine the cause of the fire. By the time they issue their report, the passion has died down. It turns out it was only a fling.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Children Unite! An open letter to Anne-Marie Slaughter, E.L. James, and Tiger Mom.

We’ve had enough, all of us, from toddler to teenaged sons. And we mean you, Amy Chua, Anne-Marie Slaughter, E.L. James, and other embarrassing mothers and fathers.

But first we want to express our profound gratitude to the founder of the Take Back Your Childhood Movement, the person who has given us the courage to talk back. Let’s hear it for The Honest Toddler. It was he who made it clear at that we will not tolerate any more organic food, especially of the lentil variety that looks like “rehydrated squirrel droppings.” We want sugar! We want Red 40 and Yellow 6! We want trans-fatty hamburgers from MacDonald’s!

And we’ll definitely not suffer any more family holidays with educational stops at museums. Read The Family Vacation Then and Now and ask yourself: what kind of happy family memories does that create? Who will pay the shrink’s bill when we grow up? We ask the same question of Jamie Lynne Grumet. Stop publishing pics of us sucking your breast. How are we going answer the schoolyard bullies when they hold up the front page of The Times?

We are not fooled by your professed altruism, Anne-Marie Slaughter. You say you are giving up your career for us and want to hover 24/7? Get back to your office. We are more than content with ten minutes of love every other day. We need that second salary. We are not content to give up the private school, the iPod touch 8 GB, the Nintendo DS Lite Cobalt, the party scene, our own Beamster, and the prospect of getting into Harvard, just because you want to indulge in foolish motherhood dreams. We want our unsupervised youth back.

That goes for you too, Amy Chua. Perfect your own piano score! We give you fair warning. We’ve been approached by a well-known human rights lawyer, who will represent us in our lawsuit against you. We want a cut of the royalties from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. As Anne-Marie Slaughter said in her article in The Atlantic: You can’t have it all.

And you, E. L. James. We went fifty shades of red in our faces when we read your book. We want compensation for the embarrassment we’ve suffered in the halls, people quoting passages from your book, whispering “Don’t leave me” or gazing into our eyes with “fear and anguish” or asking us whether we wanted “a vanilla relationship with kinky fuckery”.

Enough is enough. All you children of oppressive parents unite! Join us in our fund raising campaign and demand money for writing your parents into your life. Our model is Toronto author Daniel Perlmutter (Globe & Mail, July 10), who will write you into his next novel for a price. $30 lets you invent a character, $750 allows you to determine the genre of his book, $1000 buys you an ending of your choice. Here is our pledge sheet for parents.

$100/mo and we’ll talk about toilet training.
We offer sliding rates for listening to your advice on job training: Plumber 500/mo. Lawyer 1000/mo. Heart specialist 2000/mo, more if it includes treating you.
$ 2000/mo and up if you want to determine our lifetime success.
Call us for rates on lasting marriages, guaranteed grandchildren, attendance at family reunions, etc.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Children is in the works.

Monday 9 July 2012

                  Holiday Specials. Bragging Rights Included.

Let me ask you, why do you go on holidays -- to relax, to meet new people, to experience new cultures? Get serious! You go away so you can come back and brag about it to your friends. So, if you are tired of fabulous beaches and exciting cities that everyone has been to already, I’ve got some great new ideas for you:

VERSAILLES. No, not that old thing in France. I’m talking about the family home of David and Jackie Siegel in Orlando, FLA. Once they get their finances back in shape and can complete construction, the Siegels’ Versailles will cover ninety thousand square feet and have thirty bathrooms, a bowling alley, a sushi bar, and paintings of the owners in the style of the ancient Romans. In the meantime, you might be able to rent it or, at least, talk Lauren Greenfield into giving you a cameo role in her documentary “The Queen of Versailles,” featuring the Siegel property. If you act promptly, she may be able to splice you in before releasing her film to the public.

Friday 6 July 2012

The Lives of Politicians: Nicolas Sarkozy, Bev Oda, and Mayor Rob Ford.

You thought Obama had a tough life after using Jay-Z’s trademark gesture of brushing dirt off his shoulder and risking a copyright law suit, or Romney was in deep water after references to Hitler doing “one thing right”? No, Canadian politicians are worse off. Much, much worse.

Take Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. He has been ambushed on his own front lawn by aliens. It’s a good thing he called 911 and was rescued from what turned out not to be aliens after all, but the comedian Mary Walsh dressed up as Princess Warrior.

Next, he was accosted by a streetcar driver, who may have been naturally crabby or was one of those commies the mayor described as “two steps left of Stalin”  ( Now it seems that Rob Ford is under attack from Higgs Boson, which keeps attaching mass to him. As every physicist understands, that leads to weight – over 300 pounds in Ford’s case. This in turn causes emotional problems, such as loss of self-respect, so that the Mayor now refers to himself as Rob-Fucking-Ford (

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Don’t trust anyone. Toronto is a dangerous place!

Recently Toronto blogger Aviva Rubin ( raised the question “What should my children be afraid of?” A lot, it turns out, when I researched the topic. They might encounter kidnappers, crazies, prostitutes, drive-by shooters, etc. I won’t even mention life-threatening playground equipment, such as treacherous swings that violate the first rule of safety: Keep both feet on the ground and never ever have fun. Ms Rubin could insist her kids never leave the house, but she has decided to be brave and send them out into the world with just a good warning. But what about the rest of us who are less intrepid than Ms. Rubin? Lke me, for example. I’ve mulled over a few solutions:

TAKE ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICATION? Not. I may wake up tomorrow morning to the news that the medical profession has declared anti-anxiety medication life-threatening and as dangerous as the Toronto streets. Those medical researchers are prone to changing their minds. Remember when they recommended Hormone Replacement Therapy, then turned around and warned us of looming stroke and heart attacks? Ditto with taking daily Aspirins. One day they were good for us, the next day we were urged to stop. Ditto with breast and prostate exams, which were supposed to alert us to lurking dangers. Turns out you may be scared to no purpose. And don’t get me going on fickle dentists – I can’t count the times they did an about face on tooth-brushing. We’ve gone from hard bristles to soft bristles, from brushing horizontally to brushing up and down. Am I still up to date on the best method of brushing my teeth? Oh my God, I can feel the anxiety creeping up on me! And vitamins, once praised to the skies, are now worry-inducing as well. You don’t know how they are going to interact with the rest of the medication you are taking, such as your anti-anxiety pills.  No, we need another solution to the perils of living in Toronto. Maybe I should hop into my car and leave this dangerous town.