500 Words Per Day

Monday, March 27, 2006

Talented Bloggers: Waiter Rant

Blogging has really exploded since Blogger came onto the scene. Everyone blogs now. Even commercial websites are laid out in a format that resembles someon'e blog. You know the style: lots of white space, catchy letterhead design, neat columns and regularly updated news items on the home page. Amist the blogging clutter, a few talented writers inevitably stand out and get noticed.

I discovered a gem recently, call Waiter Rant (www.waiterrant.net)

Waiter Rant is a day-to-day journal of confessions and astute observations made by a certain head Waiter of a certain fancy New York bistro. Our mystery waiter's identity is always withheld and all names have been changed to protect the innocent. It's a very entertaining blog and it's no surprise. The Waiter is a personable writer who has a great eye for detail and a knack for embellishing his stories with just the right amount of colour and infusing them with a healthy shot of pathos (more on that later). And like a lot of readers out there, I've always wondered what goes on behind the scenes at those restaurants... the backroom banter, the politics and the thought processes of that friendly smile serving you that glass of wine. Plus, there always seems to be something interesting going on at the restaurant where Mr. Waiter works. If everything he says is to be believed, there is no shortage of yuppie prick customers whose behaviours range from saintly to the boorish and downright disgusting.

Waiter Rant is insanely popular, with each new post racking up dozens upon dozens of adoring reader comments. I spent a few days last week binging on the site. It's been around for over two years, so I have an immense backlog of material to plumb through.

Turns out I've pretty much my fill of waiter nightmare stories for the time being. I began to tire of writing when recurring themes began to stick out: 1.) The rich make for easy targets, and Waiter seems to take great pleasure in skewering them whenever the opportunity arises. I'm not a yuppy by a long shot, but it gets a bit much when he presumes to know so much about his customers. Yes, they may be rude and ridiculously drunk on their own sense of self-entitlement, but let's try to not dehumanize them so much, hm? 2.) THE PATHOS: Oh boy, as good as his writing his, the Waiter can't seem to resist imbuing every second yarn with a feel-good lesson on human suffering, loss, love, happiness, generosity... hey take your pick. Sure, I understand that's part of the power of good writing. I'm constantly amazed at how he takes fairly hum-drum daily situations and spins it in such a way that I HAVE to finish reading. But... there's not escaping it, he's a bit of a cheese monkey. Does everything have to have such gravity?

But that's just my rant. Maybe I'm just jealous of the guy's site and its popularity. Or maybe I'm just a very jaded, dude, bereft of even the simplest of human emotions. Check it out and decide for yourself.

EDIT: Hehehe... just burned off some time reading some of the older entries off the blog. Okay, it's a really entertaining piece of work and when the waiter hits his stride, combining his unique blend of insight, humour and pathos, it really does work. Some of his customers from Hell are so unbelievable, it's appalling to think people like this exist.

The Name Game

I put the question out and my legions of fans answered the call. What was to be my DJ name? The feedback was near unanimous: stick with the real name or a variation thereof.

Clinton M: you've held onto your throne once again. I guess there's no beating you... for now.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Time Bandit

Making any sort of comments on the fleeting quality of time is one of the worst cliche out there, and sadly, it's cliche I indulge in all too often.

If time flew by during university, and started to really blow by in the years following as a working stiff, then right about now I'd say my time machine is in overdrive.

My days are so very short and compressed. It's as if my mind is reaching out into the space-time fabric and consciously condensing it down into this globule of time-stuff that I can easily grab and shove into my pocket. Maybe that's a poor analogy. It implies too much control and dominance, that I actually have the power to handle my time with such mastery. I wish that were true.

At this point, you my infer that I have a hectic life and run myself ragged each day with errands, activities, work, friends and hobbies. Again, if this were only true, I might not be sitting here after my work lunch break typing a long overdue entry into my blog, thinking how quickly 5:30 will come around, how quickly my gym workout will go by and how quickly it will be until it is once again 12:30am and I reach that critical mental junction on whether to retire to bed or do something else that will keep me up late.

This awareness of time has brought back memories of Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now, which is an entire book dedicated to that greatest of cliches: living your life in the moment: Living in the Now! Watch as I butcher my paraphrasing of this wonderful book. In one of the chapters, Eckhart touches on the phenomenon of having time slow down once you learn to live completely in the Now. When you exist in the present with the world, its beauty comes out to you. The opposite, of course, is projecting your mind into the future of worries, wants and hopes, resulting in a sensation of present time slipping away and moving too quickly. The present and everything in it becomes frivolous and tiresome.

So let's assume my mind is projecting waaay ahead into the black unknown that is the Future. Why? I cannot say. I'm obviously waiting for something, but I don't know what. I'm waiting for something in my life to happen and it's not just the Landmark Forum seminar I'm going to next weekend. No, I've been waiting for that since I signed up back in December.

Actually what I've been probably doing is sweeping all of my personal issues under the short-term rug, knowing that some answers are (hopefully) on their way. Landmark: that's an entry or two all unto itself.

I'd like to write about it just prior to beginning my first session next Friday, and again after the intensive full 3-day program plus follow-up Tuesday evening. I don't know if you're as curious about the psychic Before and After as I am. I can't wait.

Hah. There I go again.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Love for Oscar

I watched almost half of the Academy Awards last week but God knows why.

My main reason for tuning in was to catch Jon Stewart's performance as host. Since I missed his opening monologue AND the 2-hour red carpet fashionista parade, what the hell else was there to see?

Turns out, not a whole lot. I did get a taste of Stewart's sharp but restrained political humour and enjoyed the occasional barbs he tossed at the celebrity masses. He seemed relaxed and appeared to be having a good time. The post-Oscar verdict on his overall performance is pretty mixed, but I take that as a good thing. There was no way Stewart was going to buy into the oh-so-earnest schtick that has been Billy Crystal's bread and butter in all his hosting appearances. At the same time, the last thing he would want to do is piss everyone off and harp on politics the whole night.

So, back to the award show itself. Well... this is probably the second straight year where I didn't watch any of the Best Picture nominees. Not a one. I think even back in 2003, the only nominee I watched was Return of the King. Last year was the Milion Dollar Baby hoohah. What the heck was with that? 2004 seemed like a brutal year for best picture: I don't even remember any of the other films that were nominated.

So what happens is I'm watching the Oscars get handed out and I really could care less who wins because I haven't formed opnions on anything. Walk the Line? No, I didn't. Capote. Who? Brokeback Mountain? No love for the man-love. Crash. Wasn't that the car orgy thing from 1996?

No, I watched none of it. Instead of indulging in these serious, Oscar contenders, I went the other way and gorged myself on PURE PAP. That's right. Sure, I totally subscribe to the notion that even these so-called "serious" Oscar films are usually selected based on nothing more than endless hype, politics and backroom campaigning. Does that really excuse my low-brow viewing experience in 2005? Not really. Sinking $10 to watch Aeon Flux is proof enough that one should always use careful judgement before deciding to waste 2 hours of one's life.

Based on the winners that I watched, I'd go so far as to add some new categories to the mix. Here's my fantasy:

Best Use of First-Person Shooting Cinematography and Whack-a-Mole SFX
The Oscar is won quite handily by DOOM.

Best Gratuitous Casting of Steve Buscemi
The Oscar goes to... The Island.

Best Ratio of Non-Story to Scenes of Charlize Theron's Lithe Body Twirling Through the Air
The Oscar goes to... Aeon Flux.

Best Effort in Utterly Destroying an HK Martial Artist's Career
The Oscar goes to... Unleashed!

Ok, this is getting sad. I do plan on catching up on my movies. Good Night, and Good Luck got completely shafted out of an award and I'm most eager to check it out. Anyone seen it?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rock the Vote! - Decide My DJ Name

I decided to delay the second installment of my hard-bitten series on oggling babes at Fitness World with a more pressing matter.

As the 4 people who visit this blog knows, I am a rising DJ megastar teetering on the brink of complete global domination. Yet... pretty much since I first laid hands on a Technics turntable, I've been struggling to find a suitably catchy stage name for myself and have lurched through my initial 2 years of DJ apprenticehood with a unremarkable, yet stalwart, moniker: Clinton M.

Other DJs have gone before me who have used their first name followed by the first letter of their surname. Jimmy van M pops to mind. Local jock, James E also rocks the surname intial. It's all well and good and if I was legally required to, I would be fine with Clinton M for the remainder of my DJing career. But I'm not fine. For one, I don't even like uttering "Clinton M" when people ask what my DJ name is, so it's quite pointless to even keep pretending that I'm happy with the situation.

Where's the pizzaz? Where's the hook that grabs people's ears and makes them say, "Yeah, that's a great name.... I'LL REMEMBER IT"?

Fortunately, my dear old friend helped me get the ball rolling again on my search for a name. Nay, a search for my identity. He came up with a very short list of possibilities that have some good potential. We've been sort of limited by an almost self-imposed restriction of using my last name "Ma" in some kind of clever way.

Anyway, here are some of the candidates for my DJ name. I would love to you... YOU... to chime in by putting in a vote for a name on the list, or better yet, suggesting something that you think reflects my personality as a wonderful human being and/or my mad skills as a mind-bendingly awesome DJ.

Note: Cast your vote by leaving a comment. Blogger doesn't offer polls and I don't have the inclination now to see if one can be attached. Sorry!

Okay, here are the list of DJ names:

1. - Clinton M (current)
This is is the name to beat, the current title holder. I thought it would be easy to dethrone, but as you can see it's been tougher than expected

2. - Mr. Clinton
This is a last-minute name that I thought of while blogging on my music site. It's a bit of a throwaway suggestion IMO, but hey, it could prove to be a sleeper hit.

3. - Macrobat
Chris' best suggestion for a name to date. It incorporates my surname into a clever amalgamation of "macro" and "acrobat", which in turn conjures up other ideas and themes related to my persona as a DJ. Could be good as just Macrobat or using the usual prefix, DJ Macrobat. This name is my favourite to win right now but I'm still not 100% sure of it. Oh and please don't let my favouritism sway your voting.

4. - Macro
A predictable variant. Doesn't carry the same "special meanings" as the previous idea but it still sounds kinda neat.

5. - Macroscopic
Getting technical here! The opposite of microscopic... so, what... I'm larger than life? In yo' face? Too much to handle? Getting a little doughey in the midsection? You decide, dear reader.

6. - ** Insert your Brilliant Idea Here**
Yes, I had to leave this poll open to better options than the ones already listed, of which I am confident there will be much better options born from much greater minds than my own. No pressure, people. No pressure at all...

Finally, I thought it would thoughtful to include a link to my music site, Union Progressive.com
Take a look around if you haven't already and listen to some of my sets. Hopefully this will help you help me decide on a great ass-whoopin' name!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fitness World - Scoping Chronicles Part 1 of 3

Well as some of you already know I finally bought into a Fitness World membership last week. And so I have begun my journey into a healthy and active lifestyle. I think I must have milked 3 guest passes over the course of that many years. So what was the straw that broke the camel's back? What finally made me lay down the cash to become a bonafide treadmill drone?

A couple of things. First, even before I became unemployed last summer and well before the Christmas gorging season, my fitness level was on the decline. If there ever was a technique for phoning in regular workout routine, I had already mastered it. Beginning last year, my workouts slowly shortened from 60 minute sessions to 45 and even 30 minutes. Instead of 3 time a week, I'd drag myself in only twice. Instead of really sweating it out, I would take it easy, mill around and read magazines on the stationary bikes. Oooh, that's always sort of bugged me, the people who do that, and I was becoming one of them!

Secondly, and really as a result of what I just described, I'm getting way out of shape. Constant fatigue, slovenly lifestyle... and the gut! The beer gut terror alert has been elevated to Orange. Get this, I can actually feel my gut getting in the way and I feel less agile with the extra load. Now THAT'S when I started to pay attention.

Actually I have more reasons for joining Fitness World. I got scared straight by what was probably the smallest gym in the western hemisphere. It was a community centre facility and it was so cramped, the one rowing machine they hade made me paranoid I'd bash my left elbow on a support pillar. It was so cramped, you have to grab your dumbells from the rack, then walk away somewhere in order to use them, because the flat benches are inches away. GREAT DESIGN, you turds. Try and spend some fucking money on your gym. Maybe oooh, knock down a wall to make some room, hm?

But this is what you get with the community centres... hit or miss. What dawned on me, finally, is for $5 - $10 more per month, I could have access to tons of new, well-maintained exercise equipment, buff plasti-smile trainers and staff and all the toned & curvy Kitsilano ass my wandering eyes can handle.

And oh the ass is good. I'll talk more about that next time.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

R.I.P. Gunther

My sister broke the news to me that her Siamese cat of over 10 years passed away rather suddenly this week. This put a good damper on my morning but I'm sure it is but a fraction of what she must be feeling today. He really was an intelligent, graceful and affectionate kitty cat in the short time that I knew him. It would have been great to see him again during my planned trip to Montreal this summer. Alas fate has other things in store for us.

I had a long rambly post scheduled for today, but in honour of our cute and faithful feline companion, I would like to dedicate a moment of silence to Gunther.

Good-bye Gunther. Wishing you great times on the flip side and all the heavenly catnip and kitty 'poon you can handle.

Gunther the cat