Friday, December 30, 2011

Whoa, Glad That Wasn't Me...

When it comes right down to it, getting some Internet fame for a snow blower ad isn't all that bad.

For one thing, I wasn't in the picture that is associated with the viral phenomenon, and I assure you I was wearing underwear when I took it.  Also, all of the publicity that I got from it was generally very positive and has lead to some really great opportunities (I'm lookin' at you Mr. Fowler).  It's not like I, oh, insulted someone in writing, then lied about having a close personal relationship with several of the Lords of the Internet, then insulted one of those LOTI, directly, in writing.  Multiple times.

Such is the plight of Paul Christoforo.  

If you haven't yet heard or read the story of Mr. Christoforo and his one man campaign on customer service, I recommend reading the Internet.  Or you could start with Penny Arcade, where it all began.  Then a Google search will direct you to the hundreds of articles that have been written on it.

For my loyal fans that want to hear my take on this story/people that are too lazy to click on links or do Google searches, here's the basic premise of the story.

Dave orders two new controller add-ons for console back in November, with an arrival date of early December.  He writes the company in December to confirm that they are going to arrive before Christmas, as one of them is a present.  He's given a date of December 17th by Christoforo (literally, that's all he's given. "Dec 17" is the entirety of the email).  

It's not long after this that Christoforo starts down the path of crazy that ends up with him becoming a meme on the Internet.  And not in a cute, slightly irritating in a fascinating way like Piano Cat.  More like Gary Busey crazy.  

Dave, rightfully or not, responds with a very long email in which he points out the flaws in  Christoforo's customer service technique, and complain about the way that his order has been mucked about.  He also copies this email to Penny Arcade, Kotaku, and a few other news sites.

Christoforo, not rightfully, makes some pretty startling claims (all quotes are taken from Penny Arcade, all spelling and grammatical errors are pure Christoforo):
LOL Thanks for the Free PR I know the Editor N Chief of Kotaku , IGN , Engadget I’ll be meeting them at CES .
You can probably guess where this is going, but in case you can't Paul continues to rant and rave, use very unprofessional language and attempts to browbeat and bully Dave into submission.  He caps it off with:
We do value our customers but sometimes we get children like you we just have to put you in the corner with your im stupid hat on. See you at CES , E3 , Pax East ….? Oh wait you have to ask mom and pa dukes your not an industry professional and you have no money on snap you just got told.
At this point, Mike from Penny Arcade steps in.
Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it.
And what follows is pure, unadulterated revenge fantasy.  Christoforo tries the same policy of bullying and browbeating on Mike, without having any idea who he is or the foresight to use Google. Which is a bit odd, since Paul has marketed himself as a Social Media Marketing Company.  For those of you that aren't in the know, Mike Krahulik is the creator of Penny Arcade, a webcomic that has transcended webcomic-dom and become a force to be reckoned with. Also, the PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo.

To put this into perspective, this would be like if a high school bully decided to pick on the new kid even after the new kid explained that he was Bruce Lee, and perhaps he should choose his words better.  The bully says no and continues to push, so Bruce Lee proceeds to show him the error of his ways.

In this case, he was shown the error of his ways by the Internet.

Christoforo is a bit of an Internet celebrity now, only not in a good way.  All the people and companies that he says he was affiliated with have all publicly denounced him and/or have never heard of him, and he's been forced to admit that he doesn't have the connections he claimed (though apparently he does know the doorman at the convention center in Boston). His company, Ocean Marketing Inc, has now become synonymous with being out of your depth.

Christoforo has apologized profusely to all involved.  But not really.  He's said he's sorry because of who Mike Krahulik is, which basically comes down to he's sorry that he got caught.  The only lesson that he's learned is that if you're going to pick on someone, you should take their advice and Google them first.

Why am I giving this story any more publicity than it has already received?  Because this is a very good example of why I try to only write things that are positive.  Nothing dies on the Internet, and some of it comes back to haunt you.  Thank you, Internet People, for choosing to like something I created and not destroying me.

On the other hand, I found this article in the Montreal Gazette from December 24, written by Doug Camilli.  It is one of the Year in Review articles that we'll be hammered with all week, but it's different because it includes a reference to me and none of the others do.  Yet.  (All emphasis is by Mr. Camilli.)
Enough already: In the pub quizzes of 2021, this year will be famous for this dreadful crew: the Kardashians; Wendy Deng; Isaiah Mustafa; “Tiger moms”; “Tiger blood”; Michael Ignatieff; John Galliano; Ruby Rubacuori; Michele Bachmann; Justin Bieber; “Like a boss”; revolutions via Facebook; Aimi Eguchi; Conrad Murray; Muammar Ghadaff. Quadda. Gadd … Qadh … that Libyan creep; Rebecca Black; Tom Mulcair; the Rapture; the Raptors; “Wait. What?”; Jersey Shore; Dominique Strauss-Kahn; Tim Tebow; “Honey badger don’t care!”; Casey Anthony; Herman Cain; Ashton Kutcher; “first world problems”; Ruth Ellen Brosseau, MP; owling; planking; Anthony Weiner; the movie Bridesmaids as “The Hangover for women”; Scott Jones and Alex Thomas; Julian Assange; “bro”; Mildred Baena; pepper-spray cop; Glencore; Can’t Hug Every Cat; Brigitte DePape; and that snowblower ad (“an 11 HP Briggs and Stratton machine of snow doom that will cut a 29-inch path of pure ecstasy … ”).
Meanwhile poor Conrad Black is back in jail, while Barry Manilow walks free.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/2011+celebrities+year+childish+even+little+royal/5905630/story.html#ixzz1hsvMcqPr

Not being one to let such an opportunity go by, and perhaps spurred on by the tale of Christoforo, I sent him an email:

Well, I guess I'm glad I made the list somewhere...  But dreadful?  Really?

As the one person on the list that will probably take the time to write (although from what I hear about those Kardashians, I wouldn't be surprised if you don't get at least a tweet if not an episode), please allow me to personally apologize to you for any and all offense that you have taken from my not-so-humble advertisement for my snow blower.

Please understand that I in no way intended for it to be used in any way other than to A) get a laugh, and B) sell my snow blower.  If you neither laughed nor purchased my snow blower, I can only say that I failed in both regards.  To be included on a list with Michele Bachmann and Pepper Spray Cop, I can only assume that somebody close to you printed my ad out (entirely without my consent or endorsement, and wasting good paper in the process) and proceded to give you a paper cut facial.

Honestly, you deserve better.  I'm sure you probably had the same thing happened to you when everyone was getting Far Side Calendars.  You can only see a cartoon of a child pushing on a door that says "Pull" below a sign that says "School for the Gifted" before you snap.

Sorry, I had to stop there.  I was just remembering that School for the Gifted cartoon and then I had to go look it up again.  Man, Gary Larsen.  Now THAT guy was a genius.  But I digress.

In conclusion, I shall make it one of my 2012 resolutions that anything I do that should, or should not, go viral will do better on your list next year.  And hey, at least I'm not that guy from Ocean Marketing.  Ouch.

Happy Holidays!
Perhaps I have been underestimating the power of my words...  I've also discovered that Doug Camilli is a pseudonym for a writer that would prefer to be anonymous.  At least I have the guts to stand behind my snow blower!  (Because standing in front of it would be dangerous, that's why).

Happy New Year, Blognostifans.  I'll talk to you in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Most Fascinating Dinner Party In the World

At the closing of the holiday season and all the group meals that come with it, I have decided to put together my list of guests that I would invite to create The Most Fascinating Dinner Party.  Not that the meals that I attended were anything less than incredible.

In no particular order:

The Entertainers
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic - those of you that know me will find this no surprise.  He has amused me for close to three decades (oh, crap, that makes both of us old) and it would give me a chance to ask him to record a series of holiday wishes to me (to go with the recording I have of him wishing me a happy birthday).  
  • Melissa McCarthy - She makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
  • Kevin Smith - Because I think he would get a kick out of everyone on this list.
The Political Commentators
  • Tina Fey - I've put her in this group instead of with The Entertainers so she doesn't feel like she HAS to perform, but I expect her to take part in the discussion.
  • Bill Maher - He's like a thinking man's Jon Stewart.
  • Jon Stewart - He's like a thinking man's Bill Maher.
The Undead
  • Sir Laurence Olivier - As a reanimated corpse, I'd like to ask him about his feelings on the tremendous popularity of zombie related entertainment, and whether he would be open to raising the bar for zombie portrayal on film.
  • William Faulkner - I want to give him a piece of my mind regarding his all too infrequent use of periods.  I don't care that he is a literary treasure, the me that had to read his books back in university kinda needs to punch him in his dead face.
  • Robert Heinlein - I've read just about everything the man has ever written.  I think he would disapprove heartily of just about everyone at this party and that in itself would be interesting to witness.  Also, I can't help but feel that though he undoubtedly respects the work of Mr. Faulkner, he would probably back me up on the whole punching thing.
The People I Know
  • My Lovely Wife - No way I could pull off an interesting party without her.  Besides, I'd spend the whole time wondering what she was doing that was more exciting than this dinner party.  And I need someone there that I know that I can keep leaning over to and say things like: "Can you believe this?" and "This is just crazy amazing, isn't it?" and "I hope that there are enough vegan options for everyone." 
  • Alec Bruce - he bought my snow blower, and we keep having to cancel on each other for coffee.  It would be a good excuse to get together and I'd finally be able to give him the power cable for the snow blower that he forgot.  
  • My Friend's Kids - Because how hilarious would it be to have all these people in one place, but everyone trying to be polite and not swear or say anything controversial while the kids are there.  Then, when the younguns finally leave, everyone will just cut loose and the party will be that much better for it.
The Cheats
  • My Best Friends - You know who you are. (See how I did that?)
  • The entire cast and crew of Firefly - Yes, I know, this is a cheat.  Not EVERYBODY that worked on the show could be that awesome.  But I really want a reunion to happen, and it would be awkward if someone didn't get invited, you know?  Like not getting an invitation to your own high school reunion, even though you still live at home.  Plus a friend of mine served Nathan Fillion pie when she worked at a pie shop, and he apparently isn't a giant douche. 
The Ones That Almost Made the List
  • John Lennon - for similar reasons to Sir Laurence, but also because I'd like to see what would happen between him and Weird Al.  I think they'd get along.  I have no knowledge of what John Lennon was like, but I think he had a bit of a sense of humour.  I mean, that hair cut?  Those glasses?  I think they were a giant prank he was pulling on art school students for generations to come.
  • Nicole Kidman (pre-2001) - You know, from before she started looking like she was chiseled from a  block of ice.
  • Warren Buffet - I'd really like some advice on how I should best invest the gift cards I received for Christmas.
Looking back at my list, I'm noticing a few things.
  1. Although this list seems to be skewed slightly toward becoming a sausage fest, I assume that all participants would be bringing a significant other or guest.  With the exception of the reanimated dead.
  2. The categories are fairly arbitrary, but upon reflection everyone on this list is an artist or an entertainer.   Not a philosopher or a scientist or world leader in the mix.  I wonder what that says about me.  Probably that I can't spell Boutros Boutros-Gahli without looking it up.
  3. There is no way that all of these people will fit into my house, let alone kitchen.  Especially if everyone from Firefly shows up.  I suspect that they know how to eat.
Who would be on your list?  If you invite me, I promise I won't get trashed and break stuff.  Don't get me wrong, I'll still break stuff.  I just won't be trashed when I do it.  Which somehow makes it all the sadder.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Awesome Christmas Presents

If you haven't considered giving a blood donation yet this year, I urge you to do so.  It doesn't take very long and you get all the free juice and snacks you can eat after.  It's a great deal, and you could save a life.  Plus, as home-made gifts go, it's just about the easiest one you'll ever make and you don't have to worry about wrapping it.

I will say one thing though.  When they tell you to drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of your donation, I cannot express enough how great that advice is.

Three times in the left...

Only once in the right... but with lots of shifting around.

A few years ago, I gave My Lovely Wife the best Christmas present ever.

She was going out for some last minute shopping with some friends and I thought "wouldn't it be great if I could have the tree up and ready to be decorated when she gets home?" 

"Yes," I answered myself, for there was nobody else home to do it for me. "That would be the greatest Christmas present you could ever give your wife."

"Plus," I added, "It won't take more than twenty or thirty minutes, tops.  Then you could spend the rest of the time playing video games, and it would be totally guilt free because YOU put up the Christmas tree."

"My god," I replied, "I'm a hero and a genius."

I was very pleased with myself for two reasons.  First, for thinking of this wonderful way in which I could make My Lovely Wife love me that much more.  Second, because I had considered this very thing the year before.  Making it even sweeter - I remembered that I had thought of it.  Three reasons, yes three, why I was so very pleased with myself.

We have an artificial tree that we bought the first year we were married.  It is a mighty, artificial tree (as well as a mighty artificial tree) that comes in three sections.  The branches are all colour coded for each level, which doesn't seem like much, but makes a world of a difference when you're putting it together.  When we took the tree down the previous year, I had an idea.  A wonderful, terrible, crazy idea.

What if instead of taking all the lights off the tree and taking it apart and boxing it all up and then having to find all the parts and pieces and do everything in reverse the following year, what would happen if we left all the lights on the tree and then just took it all downstairs and stored it in the basement in one piece?  Then next year we just have to bring it upstairs and throw the ornaments on it and BAM, instant mighty artificial tree.

I know, take a moment to bask in my glory, I'll wait.

So the deal was struck and the tree was carried to the basement, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger (or stood in the corner of the furnace room, it's the same thing).  There it waited, patiently, for the right time to strike.

I dug the tree out from behind the boxes that had grown in front of it over the last 12 months, and took it upstairs.  "This is odd," I thought, "I don't remember having this much trouble moving the tree around last year."  And it was true.  The year that I stored it, it seemed to go right down to the basement, lickity-split.  Now, it was fighting me every step of the way. 

It wouldn't go out the furnace room door without a fight. It got a few good punches in, and I ended up with some scraped knuckles and a bump on my head (I keep forgetting the furnace room door is really low), but I got it out.

Then it wouldn't go up the stairs.  "Strange," I thought, "it went down the stairs fine, why wouldn't go up?"  I pushed and I manoeuvred, but it wouldn't go more than halfway up before getting completely stuck. By now, twenty minutes had passed and this was threatening to seriously cut into my video gaming time.

Frustration growing, I thought back to how I got the tree down.  What had I done?  I basically pushed the tree down the stairs.  The logical opposite is to push the tree up the stairs, but that wasn't working.  Now in to minute thirty, and I was growing desperate.  Okay, pushing the tree up doesn't work, I'll pull it up instead.

I climbed around the tree and started pulling it up.  And wouldn't you believe, it started to work?  The tree began moving up the stairs, just like I planned it.  Now it would only be a quick hop skip and jump to get the tree up in the living room, test the lights and then settle down for some zombie killing.  I was congratulating myself on figuring out how I got out of this tight situation when the tree shifted.  

And got lighter.

Like, two thirds lighter.

Accompanied by loud banging noises.  

And then the tree wasn't in my hands anymore. Some idiot in the basement had pulled it out of my hands!

Ah, if only.

I surveyed the damage and had a long hard think about it.  The tree was in three pieces, stretching from the top of the stairs all the way down.  Each section attached to the next by strings of Christmas tree lights.  I was a man who's dreams were as broken as his Christmas tree.  Now I was going to have to untangle the lights and reassemble it.

This didn't happen last year!  I would have remembered being this angry.  My Lovely Wife would have said something about it being a bad idea and to just take the tree apart.  And that's when I remembered that it took two of us to get the tree downstairs because My Lovely Wife pointed out that if we just pushed it down it would probably come apart due to gravity.

Giving the memory a begrudging shrug (I call it "beshrugging"), I collected the pieces and dragged them all upstairs.  

It took another thirty or so minutes to get the lights untangled.  It involved taking all the branches off the tree, unwinding the lights, then putting all the branches back on the tree and restringing the lights.  Or that's what the last steps would have been, if I hadn't also broken the stand.

I used duct tape, packaging tape and twine to get the base back together, and even then I had to use three books to keep it roughly balanced.  I ended up tying the tree to the curtain rod - which seemed like a totally good idea that could have gone horribly wrong, but didn't - to keep it standing.

I had just gotten the lights turned on when My Lovely Wife returned.  Three hours later.

The zombies had to wait another day to get killed.

This year, we got a different tree.  And I got help from My Lovely Wife.


They were so neatly coiled in the box, how did this happen?

Do not mock me lights, for I shall be your master!

The key is to start at the top and wind your way around the tree clockwise.  Or just throw those muthers up there.

Robyn chooses the perfect spot to place her first ornament.

I spent more time posing with this ornament for this picture than I did choosing where to hang  it.

From our awkward family picture to yours, Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh, Facebook, You've Done It Again

A few years ago, My Lovely Wife made a decision that would impact us in ways that she would never have believed.  You could have sat down with her and laid out a comprehensive outline of all the ramifications of what she was going to do, including a PowerPoint, charts, and three supporting expert witnesses and she still would have gone ahead and done it.

She decided that Facebook knew too much.

I can't blame her.  Facebook knows a lot about us.  Even if all you ever did was accept only your closest friends and immediate family members as friends, just the very act of linking to them tells Facebook all it needs to know about you.  Like tends to attract like.  You probably have similar interests as your best friends, and you are probably going to have similar tastes in food as your siblings.  Throw that all together in a pot and stir it up with some crazy algorithm, bake it for 45 minutes at 325, and suddenly one of the largest data mining companies in the world knows that you Tivo American Idol, that you voted for the wrong party in the last election (take that however you will), and you like cheese.

You can read about it in this post here: Dear Everyone on Facebook, I'm Okay

Well, good news everyone!  My Lovely Wife has decided to marry me again.  Or at least publicly acknowledge our marriage.

Within 18 seconds - I kid you not - 18 seconds of her hitting save on that tasty little tidbit, we started getting IM's and comments congratulating us on finally tying the knot.

So to celebrate my wife's grudging acceptance that everyone on Facebook should know of our wedded bliss, here is the text from a Kijiji ad that I wrote back in July of 2009 for her.  Well, I kind of wrote it for myself, but it was for something for her so that counts.  This ad almost went viral, it generated hundreds of views, but nothing like the snowblower...

Enjoy!

Address: Moncton, NB
Date Listed: 09-Jul-09


My wife really wants a scooter.

Every time one drives by, her eyes light up like a kid when the Dickie-Dee comes down the street. I thought I could distract her by getting her a little push scooter thing, but that just made her want a motorized one even more.

Here is a sample of the things she's said over the last five years:

"Oh, there's that cute one!"
"There's the one with flowers on it!"
"I saw that scooter parked at work today..."
"I really want a scooter."

The woman is determined.

I, on the other hand, believe that scooters are simply miniature versions of Road Machines of Death and Dismemberment (aka motorcycles). They may be smaller, but you only have to get crushed and ground into the pavement once, right?

I would also prefer to spend our hard earned money on something that won't kill her immediately. Something like a big screen TV, a bear trap, or a game of lawn darts.

I'm not saying that I believe that my wife will immediately crash and burn in a horrible accident. I'm just suggesting that said tragedy could be prevented by, you know, not being on a scooter.

So, I throw this out to you Kijiji and the Internet. If you are a serious scooter-head (I don't know what you call people that love scooters), AND believe that everyone who really wants a scooter should have one, AND you have a scooter that is in good running condition that you're willing to give away, AND you can accept the fact that I will probably hold you morally responsible for my wife's subsequent happiness/horrible injuries/shuffling off this mortal coil, then I'd like to hear from you.

No junked scooters - if it will require money to get running, no thanks. I'll probably be willing to spring for, say, changing the oil. I'm not willing to pay for a new superinfluxuidator valve or flex capacitor. Cosmetic stuff is okay. If it just needs some paint or it's got a dent (although anything that dents a scooter is probably liable to just take it clean out in my opinion), we can deal with that.

Don't worry about safety gear. If you have some that will fit my wife that is in good condition, great, but believe me when I say that if this becomes reality and someone does show up with a free scooter in running condition, there's no way she's getting on it until she's got a helmet, body armor, bubble wrap and (if possible) an emergency crew/police escort. All the money that will be saved in not paying for a scooter will be funnelled into ensuring that My Lovely Wife will remain in the same condition she was in before she got on the thing.

That's about it.

Please note: I never did get her that scooter, despite getting hundreds of views.  If you have one for free, the offer still stands. :)

By the way - Jaymee Splude just posted audio from an interview I did with her.  She amuses me, and I hope she amuses you as well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Ugly Sweater Party, or Why I Need to Stop Procrastinating

I was privileged this weekend to attend Charla and Travis's's's Annual Ugly Sweater Party 2011.

In my defence, I was only made aware that the Ugly Sweater Party would be happening on the day of the last one in 2010.  How's a guy supposed to find another ugly Christmas sweater with only one year notice?  He can't.  So I can only assume that all the other people that were at the party that had them had started shopping sometime in 2007, getting ready for the phenomenon to sweep the land.  They also probably have fully stocked emergency kits and escape plans (and not just for a zombie-apocalypse).

Lacking in ugly sweaters, but with some imagination, I built my own.

I can say that we constructed it because that's construction paper.  Get it?  It's almost a pun!

And thus, my zombie Christmas hockey jersey was born.

The fact that my wife was able to find something on the day of the party does not take away from my earlier statement that finding an ugly sweater is very difficult to do.
Also, apologies to everyone who bought that sweater.  It's not that ugly. 

You may have noticed that more of the zombies have Santa beards in this picture than in  the close up shot earlier.  Congratulations! You found the Easter Egg!  

Before you scroll down to this final picture, I want to clarify that only one person in this photo has had anything to drink all night.  It was the only way that I could convince her to take the picture with me.







All I can say about this picture is FABULOUS.
Cheers everyone!

Weh-Ming and My Lovely Wife

Saturday, December 17, 2011

No Nationwide TV Spot, So Enjoy This Instead!

I have recorded the ad.

And by that, I mean that I have recorded myself reading the ad.  Out loud.  So you can hear me.  It would be a sad sort of recording if it was just the sound of me hitting the page down button a couple of times.  It does sound like something I'd do though, doesn't it?

I've never been one to shy away from publicly making a spectacle of myself, but thus far I've been able to hide behind my keyboard.  Well, here I go!


It turns out that recording software is insanely easy to use in the 21st century.  I love living in the future.  I wonder if this qualifies as my first audio book?

This isn't exactly my first attempt at recording something... Earlier this year, I entered the CBC HubCap Comedy Festival Stand Up Contest.  I won the online portion of the contest with the following story.  The actual stand up itself?  Whooo... that was a different story.


And that's all I have to say about that right now.  Literally.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Whoops. Whoops again.

Bad news:  I won't be appearing on Canada AM today, due to a scheduling issue.  I hope to get on at some point again in the future, but for now it is not to be.

Worse news: I don't have a post ready for today.  I thought I would have it, but then I got sidetracked by another project and all of a sudden it's after 10, and I'm awfully tired.  So I have nothing for you. I know, I promised you something but I can't do it tonight.  I'll try tomorrow, really, I will.  It's something that I think is kind of fun, and I hope you'll like it too.

I do have this picture of me with my number one fan in Halifax, Walter.

I think that Walter's flashing the international gang symbol for "Snowblowa".
That's the Das Snowblower t-shirt I'm wearing.  I was wearing it as a good luck charm underneath my Monroeville Zombies hockey jersey (seen on the table behind me there), so when Walter asked for a pic I knew it was a sign to strip down.  Unfortunately, the show was in a high school and there were "rules" about public nudity and stuff.  Plus Walter got all edgy and uncomfortable, so I just left it at the t-shirt.

So Walter, you glorious son of a b you, here's to you.  And thanks to your girlfriend for taking a picture of me where it doesn't look like I have uncomfortably giant hands.

UPDATE: I'm not putting an update time on here because this only just went up.

I write my posts the night before and then have them set to automatically publish in the morning.  Today, I was so distracted by something that I forgot to come back and update the post before it went live.

This morning I received a little gift in my email from Gene Fowler of loogaroo.com.  Here is a brief recap of my internal monologue (it's not a dialogue unless someone is talking back to me, and since I upped my dosage, I don't get the voices anymore).

Spam, spam spam spam spammity spam spam oh an email from Gene.  Wonder how things are going up in the 'Chi... 

Check it out!
Music over intro for titles, same with the end.
Starts with exterior of city, as we pan down to their building, when the snare drum hits, we zoom in.
(Spoilers Edited)
I think it's a really good beginning to this series.
gene
Well, that's pretty cool... and there's an attachment...wonder if he's got some storyboarding done...An MP3?  Oh, maybe this is the music that he's thinking of using for the series... Oh, cool it is the intro music.  Liking it.  Liking it.  Liking holy sweet mother of pearl is this what I think this is it can't be it is I don't believe it oh that's so good I can't believe this...


Gene sent me the finished audio track for the first episode of Roaches.  It is, if I do say so myself, rather funny.

So that happened.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanks Benny!

You may have noticed the addition of a bit of text over to the right.  I call it "The Little Box of Big Thanks".

A few weeks ago, I received an email from PayPal that I had received a bit of money.  Attached was the following note:
As they say back in 1965, "You are a Steely Eyed Missile Man" (maybe they said that, maybe they said it in Apollo 13 and I've always wanted an excuse to use it). Either way, great job! 
Truly, whoever this Ben was, he was a word smith, a scholar, a gentleman, a redditor, and probably as handsome and charming as yours truly.  I'm not just saying that because he paid me.  Although I have to admit that the money did make the difference between a "thanks for writing me" email and what you're reading now.  It works much the same way that when a woman says that you're cute: it makes a difference if it's your mother or someone you just picked up in a bar (if it's both, I suggest counselling).

I wanted to find some way to thank Ben for his generosity, so I offered to post a public thank you on the blog and a link to his site as a sponsor.  It turns out that he doesn't have a website that needs flogging, but asked if he could substitute his girlfriend's site.

Holy crap, the woman is talented.

Now, I'm not a big fashion mogul.  My lovely wife doesn't dress me, but she chooses my clothes.  But Dara Dot Designs is really impressive.  So now, my site and hers shall be forever more linked together.  Or at least, I'm linked to hers.  I really don't know how well a blognostifier banner would fit into the ouvre (that's right, I used ouvre in my blog) of her web presence.

Since my overhead is pretty low in bringing you some laughs, I decided to dedicate the next four months of the site to Ben's generosity and Dara's excellent website and talent.  That's when Ben hit me with a "we can also set up a promocode for her site, for people that direct to it from you".

And THAT'S how I knew I was making the transition from plain ol' Snowblower Ad Internet Fame into the real world of regular Internet Fame.  A real, honest to goodness business, run by real people not out of the back of a truck was offering me a chance to put a promocode for you, my blognostifans, to get a discount!  And it's for a business that has nothing to do with snowblowers!

To get your discount, use the code: SNOWBLOWER

Yeah, I did that.

One word of warning - despite the name of her website, I could find no dot designs anywhere.  Maybe she'll do something on commission, if you really need a dot designed for you. Don't ask me though.  There are a lot of dots on this page, but I didn't design any of them.  Here's another one, for free.

Jason gets a shout out too, on account of the awesome t shirts that he sent me.  And, for anyone that may have missed it the first time around, he also let me swim in his pool when we were growing up.  That means a lot to a guy without a pool on a hot summer day.  Especially teenage guys.  Because having a pool meant that at ANY moment, hot chicks might want to stop by for a swim and hang out with us and we'd have a party and then we'd have girlfriends who would be in bikinis.  How rad would that have been, eh?

Getting back to my new friend Ben (I can call him that because I'm the one writing this, so I'm allowed to make up whatever kind of relationship I want to - don't tell my lovely wife about my secret relationship with Veronica Mars), it turns out he has other talents, too.  I'm not saying that the site may be up for a total redesign soon, but I will write it.  And I did.  Just there.

Also, my lovely wife is very well aware of my secret relationship with Veronica Mars.  She's so sassy!

I'm working on something else too that I think is kind of neat.  It may be a one off, and it's going to be very amateurish, but I did it all by myself so that counts for something too.  I'm just trying to figure out how to make it work.

In media related news, if you missed my interview on As It Happens on CBC last night, you can hear it here.  Just fast forward to about the 16:45 mark.  I'm on after the gay penguins.  Never thought I'd say that.

I may be appearing on Canada AM on CTV this Friday, December 16, 2011.  Again, so long as a cute box of kittens that resemble The Beatles don't appear on the Internet, I should be on sometime around 8:40 AM AST or ADT (which part of it are we in now?), so set your PVR's!  And, yes, I do recognize that I am only talking to my family when I say that. But maybe, just maybe, somewhere out there my first stalker is being born.  Exciting!

Finally - I just discovered that Kijiji has added me to the official Kijiji Blog under the Awesomesauce tag, WITH a screenshot of the original ad.  Huzzah!  Thanks for finding it a new home Kijiji!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For a Guy Best Known for Being Silent, He Sure Talked A Lot...And Some Truth About My Day Job

On Monday night, I had the great pleasure of seeing the live recording for a the podcast Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.  The duo, AKA Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, performed their final show in their cross country tour of Canada.  The show also marked the last trip that either would be making for speaking engagements for 2011, which made it just a little bit more special.

It was made even more special because I FINALLY got to see Kevin Smith live and in person!

Love him or hate him, Kevin Smith has done something.  He's taken his love for telling stories and created his own industry in S.I.R., or Smodcast Internet Radio, his own personal podcast slash streaming radio production company.  He tours the world with speaking engagements, and isn't so much just an open book as he is also kind of like the holographic Jaws billboard from Back to the Future II - he comes at you with everything he's got (literally) and it can be more than a little scary and intimidating if you're not ready or expecting it.

Kevin's basic message has always been that you should find what you love to do and just do it.  He went out on a limb and made a movie that garnered critical acclaim and gave him a soapbox to stand on to tell his stories.  I wrote a Kijiji ad, so the similarities are striking.  In this case, Kevin was referring to one James White of Halifax.

James, out of nothing more than the need to be creative, drew a poster to celebrate the Jay and Silent Bob Canadian Tour, and sent it to Kevin out of the blue.  Kevin saw it, loved it, and made it the official poster for the tour.  Then he contacted James and asked him to do a poster for the Plus One Per Diem podcast that they would be recording in London in 2012.  And last night he announced that there would be a series of posters coming out showcasing Jay and Silent Bob for each province.  And all this because James created something and threw it out into the world.

It sounded really familiar (only I don't have Kevin Smith calling me... yet).

After the show, I was lucky enough to run into James.

Oh wait, before I tell that part I have to tell you how I ran into him.

We were standing in the lobby waiting for some signatures (I bought the aforementioned poster because it truly is magnificent) and out of nowhere a guy comes over and asks: "Are you the snowblower guy?"

BAM- First official discovery of the Snowblower Guy outside of my own town.  :)

He asked if I could take a picture with him, and I agreed, even taking off my Monroeville Zombies hockey jersey (which I purchased at Secret Stash West and is officially the closest that I will come to playing hockey) to reveal my awesome Das Snowblower t shirt.

I totally forgot to get the dude's name or take a picture (I had forgotten my own camera, derp) so if you're out there sales guy from Halifax, could you send me a copy of the pic?  You were awesome.

Anyway, back to meeting James.

As my number one fan in Halifax stepped away, I walked over to James and asked him if he was the artist of the poster.  He asked me if I was the snowblower guy.  Then we ate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and celebrated our diversity.  Well, that would have happened if we'd had any Reese's.  Maybe.  I don't know his stance on peanut butter covered chocolate.  It's not like we're dating, come on, give me a chance to get to know him better.

We did have a great conversation about what it's like when you make something that takes off.  It was pretty cool to talk to someone else that has had a similar experience to mine.  The best thing that I learned from it is that I A) need business cards and B) need some swag.  He has the greatest stickers...

I highly recommend taking a look at his site, Signalnoise.com.  The man is a Visual Artist & Designer in the same way that I'm an accomplished breather - it comes naturally to him and he does it for a living. (Get it?  I just thought of that.  I feel like I've done some good here today.)  Aaaaaand I also didn't get a picture with him.  CRAP.  I need to work on that.

A huge thanks to my good friends Joc and Tim. Joc bought the tickets for Tim and I to go on a man date for the show and for that I am eternally in her debt.  Well, that and also putting me up for the night.  Hmm, maybe eternally is a bit of an exaggeration.  I mean, it's not like she cured my male pattern baldness.  But she was there when I got three pieces of pretty cool news.

The first was that As It Happens wanted to interview me for Tuesday's show.  As of now (5:50 PM on 12/13), I just finished talking with Carol Off.  It was, by far, my most nervous interview yet.  I mean, this is AIH!

Okay, back from eating supper and listening to the show.  And I feel the need to make one small itsy-bitsy correction.

I am not a financial analyst.  I'm not.  If you ask me to analyze your finances, you will get a blank stare, a shrug and a "okay, I guess I could do that if you really want. Just let me download a couple of spreadsheets..."  So, as reported in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and now CBC, I am not a Financial Analyst.  Okay, yes, my job does involve analyzing stuff.  And some of that stuff is financial.  But I'm not a Financial Analyst.  I'm not real sure about what a Financial Analyst does, but I'm pretty sure that it's probably kind of boring.  And that's coming from a guy that spends all day with spreadsheets and databases.

If you listen to the interview with Carol, when she asks me about my job I tried to work my way around it... but you don't just correct Carol Off.  She's a cultural institution!  Soooo, I guess that means I'm a Financial Analyst now.  Okay, Carol says I am, I guess I am.

Bring me your finances!  I'm pretty sure I can get creative with them...

Monday, December 12, 2011

More Popular with Gael's Mom than Timothy Findley, Sheila Fraser and the Chief Veterinary Officer of Canada (But Not Popular Enough With the Extended Family Apparently)

Today, I go for the "Longest Title For a Blog Post I've Ever Done" award.  It's an award that I created specifically to honour the titles that I have written on this blog.  I comprise the entire jury selecting the nominees, and I am also the entire body of the eligible voters.  The accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers tallies the votes, and a winner is selected.  In the case where I cannot afford the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers to administer the voting process, I will substitute the accounting firm of my choice.  In this case, I may use my three year old niece, Holly, who demonstrated her completely accurate ability to say numbers on my last visit.

This title refers specifically to some email correspondence I've been having with one lucky reader (would YOU like to be a lucky reader too?  Just send me an email, and I will write you back with a lovingly hand crafted missive.).  In our most recent exchange, she informed me that she had forwarded my ad to her mother, who had missed it on the news.  Later, when they were talking, she told her mother that she had been writing with me.  In her words:
I think me writing to (you) had thrilled her more than my long
correspondence from years past with Timothy Findley, my recent
correspondence with Sheila Fraser (former Auditor general of Canada) and my work relationship with the Chief Veterinary Officer of Canada (who she is awfully fond of, having seen him on the news many times).
Like all good Canadians, we all know that the Chief Veterinary Officer of Canada is Dr. Brian Evans.  If you aren't familiar with the good Dr. Evans, I recommend reading his bio.  Did you know that he was also appointed as Canada's first Chief Food Safety Officer?  I didn't know that.  He never ceases to amaze.

Also, Timothy Findley wrote some books and Sheila Fraser made the government uncomfortable.

In other news, the following happened.  These are my lovely wife's cousins, who are excellent people, but I've blocked out their pics and names because that's apparently what you do when you're posting pictures of wall posts to the Internet.  Plus, it's close to Christmas, so red and green seem like appropriate colours.

If anyone wants to buy the rights to this epic tale, feel free to contact me.
That's it for now.  I'm off to see Kevin Smith in Halifax tonight, recording the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast.  Can't wait!  I missed his Evening with Kevin Smith last month because of work, but I rearranged all my days off this month to get to this show.  Big thank you to my friend Joc who thought I would make an excellent chaperone for her husband and arranged the ticket purchase.  I promise to do everything in my power to get him back to you in one piece...but if there's an after party, I'm totally stalking Kevin.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Which I Substitute Email for A Real Post

Just realized that because I'm going to be at Jay and Silent Bob Get Old on Monday night, I might not have time to come up with a post for Tuesday.  And I'd just feel awful if I didn't have something for you to look at.  Cause that's the kind of person that I am.  Apparently.  Now.

On with the email bag!
You are hilarious!!! If I wasn't recently married, I'd be down on one knee askin you. Girls can ask, too
And if I wasn't also married (which I am, very happily), and I had had time to get to know you (but sadly, the only time machine I have at my disposal only allows for travel forward in time at the rate of 1 second per second), and you were better than all my other prospects (which seems unlikely, given that you are a newlywed who has taken to proposing to strange men on the Internet), I would TOTALLY consider it.
Your snowblower rant.
Ohmygod.
Marry me?
AHAHA. 
If I had known that a short treatise expounding on the virtues of my snowblower would make it this easy, I would have been writing this stuff up a loooooong time ago.
I hope you lose your virginity before you turn 50 
Holy crap!  I used to say this to the mirror all the time when I was a teenager!

I'm not really sure what the deal is with the 50 year old cut off.  Is there something that happens to people that don't lose their virginity before turning 50?  Or maybe the person who sent this to me originally write "die", then had second thoughts and replaced it with "turn 50".  I wonder how many other ages they considered...

Now nithat I've considered it, if you think about it, this actually is a kind of a nice thing to say to someone. It would be like me meeting someone in the street and saying "Hey, I really hope that you have a donair before you turn 50!"  Because donairs are delicious and everyone should experience them, that's why.  And if you experience them before you turn 50, then with modern medicine you could possibly expect to get another 50 years of donairs in before you die.

This was an awfully long rebuttal to a ten-word email with no punctuation.
I am not a person in need of a snow blower. But were I some sort of literary agent or publisher I'd want to see what else you've written. I'm not that person either.
 I can't tell you how much this made me laugh.  Seriously, I had tears.  So well written.  Sadly, this email was one that slipped by me earlier, so I only just sent them a response, but I -hope- whoever this was gets back to me.
I would hand ya 900 bucks just to be able to read the ad alone !!! 
This was another email I only just got to.  Surprisingly, I haven't received my 900 bucks for just reading the ad, but I'm hopeful.  I'm on PayPal!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

In Which I Score Some More Swag and I Make Patti Jo's Day

A while back, my buddy Jason sent me a rather cryptic message in which he informed me that I should watch my mail for a package.  Over the course of the next few days, he peppered me with more notes with tracking numbers and checking for updates on whether I had received anything, and generally firing up my curiosity.

Yesterday, two packages arrived.


Why are the addresses blocked out?  To prove my excellent skill with Paint, that's why.
In the smaller box was my Paul Castle Bobble Head, which I totally scored when they called me for an interview.  I would still have done the interview without the Bobble Head, but it's another one of the things that totally made this adventure worthwhile.  It now sits on the mantel.

It's kind of like he arrived in a foam sarcophagus, which is a word I don't get to use very often.
Sarcophagus.   
The other package was more intriguing.  I knew it was from Jason, so I documented the process so that he could experience the moment with me.  And also, I like it when people send me awesome stuff, so maybe it would inspire others to do the same.  Hint hint.

It was soft, but not soft like a gummy bear that has been in my pocket all day.
More soft like I hope there isn't a lung in here because my wife'll kill me if I ordered another one.

I attempted the traditional opening of the package with my teeth, but only for show.
I have astoundingly brittle teeth.  Mind bogglingly really.
At this point, I had to hand the camera to my lovely wife so I could get into this thing.  I thought I would have to use scissors, but modern packaging turns out to have nice points where you can tear it open.  Why can't DVD's come packaged like this?

OooOOOOOoooH!

This is what I look like with a bag on my hand. True story.

And there it is!  Das Snow*blower!  On a t-shirt!  It's awesome!
See my face?  It's a happy face!
Big thanks go out to my friend Jason, who I was totally friends with BEFORE he got a pool, so it counts as real.  Incidentally, and here's a shameless plug for his gig.  The man sells cars and his last name is Carr, so it was like it was preordained.  I kind of wish his last name had been SpaceRocket though.  Seriously, if you're  from back home and you haven't gone to talk to Jason, go.  He's good people. And I'm not just saying that because he sent me and my wife awesome t-shirts (wife not pictured).  I'm saying it because he also let me hang out in his pool AND his father taught me how to swim.

I also have to give exceptional kudos to my friend Julia, who created the image of "Das Snow*blower".  I wasn't able to get in touch with Julia while I was writing this, so hopefully I can find out if she has a website I can link to.  I will say that she's a registered massage therapist and I bet she rocks at it, though do to geographical restrictions and my discomfort with being manhandled (or womanhandled, I'm an equal-awkward-opportunity-handled kind of person) I have no personal experience to speak of.  I'm basing this entirely upon our friendship and her skills with Photoshop.  We go way back to the university days.  Really, I have pictures to prove it.

But yesterday wasn't just about getting free stuff.  It was also about making the front page of the Telegraph-Journal, the Saint John paper.  And by making the front page, I mean literally accounting for about one third of the front page.

It's amazing what a professional photographer can do, isn't it? 
There are two things I'd like to draw your attention to.

First, that is 62" TV beside my head.  My head is huge.  Okay, not really.  It's actually the Kobo that my lovely wife gave me for an early Christmas present.  I was so happy about it that when Victor the  Photographer arrived, I said "I can put the ad up like this if you want it in the picture!"

The second thing is the unfortunate nature of headlines.  Let me blow that up for you.

Damn.
Thanks for crushing my dreams Telegraph-Journal.

Finally, I had an awesome time talking with my new friend Jaymee Splude on the air at 590 CJCW in Sussex, NB.  Jaymee was the only radio interview that we couldn't coordinate, which made me awfully sad. But thankfully, we were able to reconnect this evening!

Best of all, yours truly got to do the honours and draw the name of the winner of the turkey of the day!  So congratulations Patti Jo Adair!  YOU. WON. A. TURKEY!!!!!!

It sounded better on the air I think.

Anyway, I had a blast talking with Jaymee, and would happily do it again (hint, hint? I've only got so many seconds of fame left and I have to streeeeetch them out!).

And Patti Jo, you'll be pleased to know that I resisted pronouncing your name "Patteeyo".  I know my lovely wife was relieved.

Have a great weekend Blognostifans!

Friday, December 9, 2011

I. AM. IRONY-MAN! Also, sad news.

Hi everyone,

As you are no doubt aware by this point, my beloved snowblower ad has indeed been taken down from Kijiji. But this is not a time for anger or for red hot flames of vengeance to strike down those that would oppose the awesome might of my words. It's a time to celebrate the time that the world was united under one common cause: to sell my snowblower.

Before I tell the story, I want to say that the folks at Kijiji are some fine people with a great future ahead of them doing wondrous and magical things. And while those of you that are used to my blogging voice may be used to a certain, how shall I put it, modicum of sarcasm, there is none to be found in that sentence.  They've been nothing but professional, supportive and up front with me through this journey.

Here goes...

I checked Kijiji at around noon to check on my count.  It wasn't there.  I panicked.  I hit refresh.  I hit refresh again. I checked my email and found the boiler plate email from Kijiji notifying me that the ad had been pulled.  I immediately sent a message to the Kijiji Support Team asking why my poor little ad that never hurt nobody had to go and find a place in electron heaven.

Then I had to go back to work, because I actually do have a job that they pay me to do and everything.

After work, I hopped on Twitter and asked for some help with why my ad was pulled when I thought it was safe.  Shawn was the lucky PR guy that got to talk to me (and also, as it turned out, answered my earlier support request that I didn't see until later).  Big kudos to him - in 140 characters or less, he was able to explain the situation to me and keep me calm.  I'm a guy that just lost a 500K viewed ad, so you can imagine my emotional level.  Shawn, if you're out there reading this right now, I salute you with this picture, the only one that exists of me with my moustache from this year.

It's not really a moustache.  It's more of a lip-brow to match my eyes.

The short answer is because of the dreaded bad publicity that I had been warned about.

Now, you're probably thinking the same thing that I was thinking - with all the coverage that the ad has been generating, and all the hits that it has received, how could there be negative publicity?  I mean, 500,000 laughing people is pretty decent, right?  And I held up my end of the bargain not to go on a crime spree (please note that I am NOT the guy stealing all the sex toys in the area).

The longer answer is that the publicity isn't JUST on the part of the media.  Kijiji does have a business to run, and like all successful online ventures, they have a community.  While I believe that the majority of the community was probably pretty happy with the success of the ad (my inbox kind of feels like they all sent me a message), the other side of the coin is that there had to be people that weren't.

Remember, Kijiji doesn't want ads for things that have been sold being kept up for long periods of time.  In fact, it doesn't want them at all.  The comedy and publicity is good, but there is a limit, and my ad was bending the rules by staying up even though the product was gone.

So, eventually, something had to give, and Kijiji is, as I mentioned, first and foremost a business.  And if my ad started to make their regular users uncomfortable because it was outside the law, then they had to take action.  Plus, as Shawn put it:
We're not too concerned, but a lot of people are looking for a snowblower, and I'm sure are tired of seeing yours (no longer available).
Once again, a victim of my own success.

Am I angry?  Maybe I was a little.  But all anger is rooted in sadness of some kind, and I'm a lot sad.  I was really hoping it would stay alive and beat the record.  But I take solace in having the all time highest viewed English ad on Kijiji.

On to happier news!

With the news that I was working with Gene Fowler at loogaroo.com, Global News contacted me this morning to see if they could get a quick interview with me.  I was agreeable to the proposition, but honestly, the job that is actually paying me money to live on has to come first during working hours.  So I agreed on the caveat that we meet during my lunch and do it then.  All was good and the interview was set.

Sadly, the interview did not go well.

In fact, you could say that it didn't go at all due to a camera malfunction.  We were set up in the lobby of the Delta, ready to go, when the camera decided it would refuse to record.  It continued to be an anti-camera, diligently not recording anything at all for the remainder of my lunch time.  The reporter for Global was a really nice guy and was desperately trying every trick in the book, up to and including phoning for help.  I know the gut wrenching feeling of trying to do your job and your tools not cooperating, so I had genuine compassion for the dude.

I finally had to go, and we agreed that once he had a working camera we would try to reconnect in my building to capture some magic.  I then walked the three blocks back to the office, against the wind and into the rain.  Really, all I needed was a sad saxophone playing in the background to finish the scene.  And, of course, the moment I walked through the front doors of my office my phone rang; he was calling to let me know that the camera was working again.  Doh.

He was going to shoot someone from the business association as scheduled, and I agreed that he could give me a call when he was done there. When the call came, and I went downstairs to meet him, I half expected something else to go wrong.  Like there would be a video of adorable kittens playing piano in Buctouche, but I sat down and we were off!

The interview went pretty well I thought.  If you caught it, here's a spoiler:  That's not my laptop.  Also, if you watch my fingers while I'm typing, I'm writing things like "This is not my laptop.  In fact, it is not even turned on.  This is a fraud. Don't believe the media!"  True story.

Thus concludes Ironic Moment Number One: The same day that a national news organization takes an interest in my story, the ad gets pulled from Kijiji (again, big thanks to Shawn!).

Now on to the Ironic Moment Number Two (which is funnier, really)

If you didn't catch the news piece, there was one teeny tiny practically not noticeable thing that kind of made it difficult to watch.  Yes, my name.  I didn't even think to say my name a few times for him so he'd be okay with it (though I did spell it for him).  So through the entire piece, I was referred to as "Weh-Ming Chow".  I can't fault him, it's a common enough mistake that I've learned to live with from an early age, but I should have used the old mantra we have: "It's Cho like go, not Chow like cow" (from hence was born my sister-in-law's twitter account ChoLikeGo).

But they mispronounced my name while showing my blog post of the day entitled, as you may remember blognostifans, "SAY MY NAME". An article in which I expound at some length about the ways in which my name has been bungled.  Ooooh the irony, right?

WRONG.  That's not irony.  That's rain on your wedding day/free ride when you've already paid/the good advice that you just didn't take coincidence.

The irony isn't even that the name of the journalist with the recalcitrant camera was Brion (pronounced Bri-on, not Bree-on, you jerks).  And also, Brion was a totally nice guy that with some slightly better equipment is gonna go far!

No, the irony is that just before we were filming the piece, the following was posted as a comment to my "SAY MY NAME" post. This is from an old work colleague, named Carmel:

It made me feel happy that in the name game of life..I am not alone. Oh and by the way...you always called me Carmel like it rhymed with bell, but it is actually pronounced as if it is spelled Carmal...just saying...lmao
December 8, 2011 1:18 PM 

I felt awful when I read that, so I immediately (or as soon as I was aware of it) responded with:

@Carmel - Waaaaait a sec, Carmel, is that you? Why did you never say to me "Weh, you idjit, you have been pronouncing my name wrong for YEARS." It seems like it should have come up at some point...
December 8, 2011 5:48 PM 

Notice the time stamp on that? That's 12 minutes before the start of the news broadcast in which my name was bungled.  You'd think that those of us with different names would make more of an effort, yes?

Well, Brion and Carmel, I humbly accept the keys to my glass house.

BTW - you know who else shouldn't throw stones?  EVERYBODY.  It's dangerous and someone is going to get hurt.  Put the stones down, and stop whipping them around like some kind of game, because it isn't and you're going to put out an eye.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

SAY MY NAME

Some of you (and when I say some, I really mean my closest friends and family) will find this familiar.  I wrote this article after suffering yet another misprint of my name.  Let the record show that in all the media coverage that I've had in this mad twirling round of insanity that happened as of late, the worst mistake I've seen in my name has been the missing hyphen.  That really means a lot to me, as you'll probably gather from my post below.

Also, I acknowledge that I don't have an English name.  People meeting me for the first time are often quick to point this out for some reason. Honestly, they act like they're pulling me out of the Matrix when they tell me this wondrous fact.  "What?!  Weh-Ming isn't a common name?  Are you sure?  That's just so weird, I've heard it all my life..."

I wonder... hey, if anyone living in a non-English as First Language Country is reading this, do people ask you what your Mandarin/Taiwanese/Swahili/Esperanto name is?

Before you immediately scroll to the bottom of the page and start hammering out a missive on Non-English as First Language Countries, I'm joking.  Also, any name that you've been given probably means "Foreign Devil"... and don't even get me STARTED on that tattoo.

Without any further ado, I present:


SAY MY NAME

I received a letter from VIA Rail Canada yesterday, offering me a promotion for taking a train trip this summer. I have a pretty good feeling that we’ll be taking that trip this summer because when I say “received” I really mean that I found the letter, open and unfolded, sitting on the keyboard. I’m pretty sure that’s a hint.

What caught my eye about the letter is not the promotion (20% on incredible Canadian travel experiences!), but rather my name. It’s addressed to “Weh/Ming”. My split personalities must be getting pretty obvious. The Weh Side of me wants to take a train trip to Montreal, but the Ming side of me wants to stay at home and play video games! Whatever shall I do?

Anyway, this got me thinking about all the mistakes that have been made with my name. Here are just some of my favourites, with attribution where I can remember.

Weh Ming-Cho: This was from a magazine subscription that I had, I think for the ever popular Readers Digest. It was really easy to figure out who they had sold my information to by tracking this one. I would get offers to get my degree at home, gardening magazines, and all kinds of other coupon packages and junk addressed to Mr. Weh Ming-Cho. I wondered what kind of person I’d be if I’d grown up with a hyphenated last name like that, but I don’t see my mother as a Ming…

Whe-Ming Cho: The name that sounds like fun! Okay, it’s only almost like saying “whee”, but sometimes almost is the best you can do.

Wah-Mang: I have Grammy to thank for this one. She’s known me my entire life. MY ENTIRE LIFE. And not once, in all that time (and I have my whole family to back me up on this), has she EVER said my name correctly. Once I got past the whole emotional scarring thing, I eventually made it into a game. I would work out a way to say my name in a conversation. Something like “Then my teacher said ‘Weh-Ming, come here!’” Or maybe I’d put something with my name written on it in front of her. Something like, say, my birthday cake “Happy Seventh Birthday Weh-Ming!” (The cake decorator could get it right, why couldn’t she?) Then I’d wait for her to say my name again later. I do have to give Grammy props for creating another, more embarrassing, mispronunciation ever. I’m not writing it, but if you look at how I wrote it there, and switch the W and M and say it again… Yeah, pretty funny right? Jerk.

Weh-Ming Chow: I find it incredibly ironic when someone gets my given name correct but can’t get the last name right. Mom made up a poem to help these people.

It’s Cho like “go”
Not Chow like “cow”.

Weh Mingcho: A variation on the Weh Ming-Cho, but doesn’t take as long to say because of the lack of hyphenation.

Ms. Weh-Ming Cho: This was how I was listed on all of my insurance policies for years. For some reason, nobody ever noticed it – including the insurance broker that set up the policies and I spoke with frequently. When they switched me to a Mister, they didn’t charge me that much to make up the difference in what I should have been paying, which made me think that my insurance company had a heart. Silly me.

Ming Cho: I don’t know what happened, but somewhere I lost my way. Get it? That right there’s what you call your basic pun.

Wang: True story. The very first phone call that I ever took working at a call center changed how I said my name forever.

Me: Hello, this is Weh-Ming, how may I help you?
Customer: Wang?
(Entire life flashes before my eyes spent correcting my name a hundred times a day)
Me: Yes, sir.
Customer: Wang, I got me a problem…

After that, I always said my name was Weh. When you’re on the phones and you’ve got to keep your call time down, there’s nothing like having to explain my name for two minutes on EVERY CALL. At least with “Weh” people could mistake it for “Wayne” or “Wade” or “Ray”.  Even when I was no longer on the phones but working as a supervisor or trainer or account manager, I just went by "Weh" for the next nine years.  When I changed industries, I took my name back.

May-Wing: Interestingly, this happens to be the one that I got the most growing up, but hardly get at all anymore. I’m not sure what it was about Weh-Ming that caused adults twenty-odd plus years ago to all make this mistake. Every once in a while it rears its ugly little head and I think of The Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride. “May-Wing. May-Wing is what bwings us hewah today.”

Wemming Cho:  I heard that this was how Steve Murphy on the ATV news said my name.  I can't blame him though.  I do have a hyphen in my name, and that just leads people to want to say it quickly sometimes.  After all, Billy-Bob would be pronounced "Billybob" not "Billy...Bob".

A note on my first name: Little used, except to screw people up (and by people, I mean me).

Chow, Chu, Chong (really), Ko, Sho, etc.: I won’t go into my last name. Three little letters that make so many problems.

For a few years, I just went by "Weh" (though I'm back to the full "Weh-Ming" now). However, it’s only been recently by my choice. Now an exploration of some of the many witticisms that I received on a daily basis.

“Hi Weh! Get it? Highway?”
Yes, you are a marvel of wit and delight. You have compared a greeting with me to a road. How very amusing. It’s usually followed up with:

“Bye Weh! Get it? By way?” 
You slay me.

“You’re Weh out there!” 
And yet somehow you’ve managed to find me.

“Hey Weh! That rhymes!” 
It sure does! Here’s a cookie, now don’t play with the scissors.

“Go a-Weh.” 
You first.

“How much do you Weh?” 
This one didn’t make any sense to me either, but it brought near paralysing levels of laughter to the kids so it was all right.

“Hey Weh, Weh-t up!” 
I shan’t. Bugger off.

“Yo Cho!” 
Way more popular when G.I. Joe was in the mainstream.  I braced for impact when the movie came out, but nothing really came of it.

“Hey, don’t cut in line. Weh Cho turn!” 
I offered bonus points in a class I was teaching to anyone that could come up with a new one I had never heard of. Within about five minutes, I got hit with this one. It’s pretty situational, but incredibly unique, so I gave double bonus points.
“Weh!” 
Thanks Wayne’s World.

“No Weh!” 
Followed up by the ever popular...

“Yes Weh!”



That’s all I can remember right now. I'm sure there are more though.  In the meantime, I hope that VIA doesn't force me to buy two tickets so both of me can go with our wife.


UPDATE 9:54 PM 12/8/11:
My good friend Jason, who will feature in an upcoming post that I don't want to give anything away but is pretty awesome, pointed out one that goes WAAAAY back.  It's such a classic that I had to update the post to include it.

Wyoming - At a school event in Grade 7, we were going around the room introducing ourselves, playing the name game that sort of thing.  A really cute, OLDER girl (she was in Grade 8, which meant that she was as worldly and as unattainable to me as the poster of Samantha Fox in my locker) accidentally called me "Wyoming". In her defence, she was really cute and older and therefore it didn't matter to me at all that the nickname stuck for years. Jen, if you're out there, I may have had a bit of a crush on you. ;)

And in case my lovely wife is reading this: I love you, she means nothing to me. I'll just sleep over here on the couch, okay?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In Which I Get a Chance To Do Something Pretty Awesome

UPDATE:  12/07/11 6:30 AM - Just about exactly two weeks into the little phenomenon that is the Snowblower That Ate the Internet, I have cracked 500,000 views!

500,085 views to be exact, but who's counting? 
I don't mean to interrupt the news about catching a much larger break in the scheme of things that I posted last night, but SHAMWOW, this is awesome.  I now return you to my regularly scheduled post.

Original post as follows:

I've gotten a lot of interesting offers as a result of these snowblower shenanigans.  I've been pitched pyramid schemes (why is that people who pitch pyramid schemes don't know that they sound like they're pitching pyramid schemes?), and I've been asked to join weird online services, and I've been propositioned enough times that I no longer get embarrassed by it.  I've also met some really interesting people, gotten some very neat opportunities to do something I've always wanted to (make a little coin from my writing - the tally for which is now up to $4.42, excluding a snowblower, but more on that next week).

One of the most interesting people that reached out to me was Gene Fowler, the Creative Hotdog at Loogaroo.  We've corresponded, we've chatted, we've exchanged some ideas, and today we've officially announced that we are developing a project together.

For as long as I can remember, I've loved movies and TV.  For as long as I've been able to write, I've scribbled down scripts that mostly never saw the light of day, but sometimes were performed in our garage (by Mike and I, or Rabbit and Oddfellow as we insisted were our stage names), and then even a few times at University (by the Acadia Theatre Company, where we spent more time in the basement of a building than computer science majors).

Loogaroo is an animation and app development company based in Miramichi, NB, not far from my little home in Moncton.  This is advantageous for me for several reasons.  First, I've done more than my fair share of travelling and unless it's something near and dear to my heart, I feel no desire to get into another airport waiting lounge.  Secondly, I like the fact that there's a company in my home province that's doing something like this and doing it successfully!

But mostly, I think I like this Gene fella.  He's got a good sense of humour, he has an excellent grasp of the creative process, and most importantly, he seems to like me.  I'm not saying I need everyone to like me. I'm just saying I need everyone that I like to like me (like, y'know?).

The project that we're working on is called Roaches.  You know those short cartoons you see online?  It turns out that somebody has to write those.  And it also turns out that it takes some time and effort to write them.  Therefore, if I appear to be distant or not paying attention to you, it's because I'm imagining how an anthropomorphic joint would handle the conversation you're attempting to engage me in.

In other news, I would like the rest of the world to give my wife a great big hug and say "good job" for getting through her exam today. We had our first date night in a while, going out for supper and dropping by the now closing out Rogers store, where I picked up a copy of Kevin Smith's Red State on BluRay. Looking forward to watching that.

Oh, and I think I may do an IAMA on Reddit sometime this week, maybe on Wednesday.  Or Thursday.  Possibly Friday.  Let me know if that's something you'd be interested in seeing.  If you aren't a Redditor (it's a lot like the Hotel California of websites) you realize that you can ask me questions whenever you like, right?  Just send me an email or post a comment.

Goodnight blognostifans.  If you dream of something funny, make sure you write it down.

Wow, that was a poignant thought to end on. Quick! Look at this!