January 12, 2015

Product Avalanche

So I was actually there when it happened. It was probably one of best things that I have ever witnessed.
While I was grocery shopping, I pushed my cart around the end of the aisle. At the opposite end another shopper was rounding that far corner at the same time... but he just clipped the edge. The very tall display of stacked products gave way and stacks fissured off the sides. They built momentum and chain-reacted other boxes until it was a full product avalanche. The shopper responsible briefly looked me in the eye but didn't really have a chance. The enormous wave of new squeezable bottles and single-serving-sized packages engulfed him.
When it was all over he was nearly waist deep, struggling to free himself. Emergency crews of clerks and shelf stockers were despatched. A new mountain ridge was formed that day, starting from the end of aisle 3 to self-scan checkout. I imagined rescue dogs searching for survivors.

October 31, 2013

Coffee, Tea or Me?

So I heard this story the other day. Apparently, there's this cafe in the city that I live in that has this secret code to hook-up single people. When I first heard about it, I was skeptical. However, I heard about it from someone who was told by some other friends so there is at least some solid legitimacy there.
The story is that there is a cafe here where single people looking for a date (or hook-ups, etc) go for coffee or lunches. What I heard was that a single person sits down and orders at a table or a booth by themselves. Now the secret code for availability is that a potential date would pull out a water bottle. By water bottle, I just mean a regular bottle of drinking water. It could be any brand bottled by a multinational soft drink company, some French Evian or maybe even an Italian San Pelligrino. Now if you were at this cafe to get acquainted, I could imagine that your choice could say something about you since they really have nothing else to base judgement other than appearance.
To me, this is nearly unbelievable. To go into some place and order a drink, such as a tea or coffee, but still bringing your own water, presumably bought somewhere else, seems rude to the owners of the restaurant. According to the legend though, the bottle of water is placed at the edge of the table to indicate potential involvement so it's the most important part of the deal.
I have a million questions about this. Is this true? (I haven't actually ever been there.) Do the owners of the cafe know? (They must have noticed everyone bringing in their own drinks, yet ordering new ones.) How does something like this start? (How are other people supposed to know?) Surely, internet dating is more effective. (But I'm married and have no idea. ... Thinking about it now though, if I was, I'm not convinced that this is a very good matchmaking system. Initially, the only thing that you have in common is that you both drink water.)

September 22, 2013


Photo of the actual pear
So we bought these pears the other day and truly realized (when referring to a human body) how the term pear-shaped started. One of them actually had a completely defined fleshy bottom. It was easily the sexiest pear that I have ever seen.

March 11, 2013

Da da da (and other faux lyrics)

So I was listening to some retro music and I noticed and/or remembered some questionable song lyrics. The combinations of 'da', 'de' and 'doo' can (and 'do') replace whole lines of song. While part of me says that this is not trying hard enough when writing songs, there are many songs that would be entirely forgetable without these anti-lyrics. Although these words seem to have the least to say, they end up being the most distinctive and vivid later on.

Suzanne Vega (& DNA) - Tom's Diner (1987/1990)
This is a simple folk song (1987) until it was remixed. It was taken apart and put together again with more doo's The original doesn't actually feature any instruments at all. This a cappella version's doo's are at the end of the song as a closing. The remixed version takes the ending makes it the most prominent part of the song, throughout and right from the start.

Crystal Waters - Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless) (1991)
I actually find this song to be slightly irritating. Still, I've always remembered it. The "La da dee, la da da" tune of the chorus might stay with you too.

The Police - De do do do, De da da da (1980)
This song really is a solid example of what I am talking about. The title brings the point home and part of the song implies that these words really do mean nothing: 
"De do do do, de da da da>
Is all I want to say to you
De do do do, de da da da
They're meaningless and all that's true."
Still it's a catchy and recognizable tune with a fun and low-tech video:

Trio - Da da da (1982)
Of all these examples, this is probably my favourite song. The minimalist German band, Trio, sings, "I Don't Love You - You Don't Love Me" in German and their catchy chorus of "Da da da" is another fine example of the non-word lyric. If you've never heard this song before, at least wait to the chorus when he pulls a keyboard out of his pocket. (Seriously!) This main part of the song is reasonably common in television commercials so you may find it familiar.

There's probably others too. There's also the all 'La la la' and 'Na na na' songs that I won't get into. There's even a 'Trololo'!
Even though these faux lyrics aren't actual words, some of these songs say more and are better social commentaries than other more articulate songs. 

February 21, 2013

Small dogs in baskets

So when I was walking home today I passed three different bicycles with tiny pocket dogs in baskets. Is this the new latest trend?

November 13, 2012

Street Boogie

So when someone crosses the road, there's this point when there isn't quite enough time before a car to just walk across and it's not yet urgent enough to run. To me, this run/walk hybrid of motion ends up looking a lot like a funky dance.

August 06, 2012

Obsolete Coffee Technology

So I was grocery shopping. Unlike the usual shopping cart time-trials, I was taking my time today and looking at some of the other products that I don't need or usually buy. And then... Sugar Cubes! Really? They still sell those? I actually haven't seen an actual cube of sugar in ages. After thinking about it, it's probably an effect of society's rapid advancements in coffee technology. While I am no connoisseur, I do have a cuppa now and then. Even to the casual drinker, such as myself, it's plain to see that we are drinking the coffee of the future!

One of the first casualties, it seems to me, is the obsolete sugar cube. (Actually, maybe regular white sugar in general.) Not only is sugar rarely pressed and dried into shapes these days, I'm guessing that the use of white sugar as a drink sweetener is in decline. I'm not talking about high-fructose corn syrup either! I mean something like a larger grain, slightly caramel-coloured raw sugar. I think I still see both raw and white available in most cafes but sugar cubes are ancient.

And you just don't order a 'coffee' anymore. You need to order a type of coffee which would be one of several recipes with fancy names. Warm comforting beverages that are made by someone with some sort of certified training to produce - a diploma stating that a particular person is qualified to create designs in thick dairy froth.

A waitress patrolling the tables with a pot of brewed filter coffee topping up people's drinks (for free) is becoming a bit of a relic. The idea that you can order a coffee at the beginning of the meal, with continual top-ups, is fading away. It's being replaced with the suggestion that you could have a coffee and dessert afterwards - relegated to a post-meal experience.

I'm not of the opinion that these changes are better or worse, but I could be slightly nostalgic since cafes and restaurants now feel very different in a reasonably short period of time.

April 29, 2012

Mr. Bubble

So I was in the park, having my weekly sketching practice. I wasn't feeling too well but I feel that it's important for me to practice drawing regularly. I was overlooking a small natural valley that has a large stage in the bottom. It is a venue for holding outdoor concerts and shows. Still uninspired and a bit cold from the autumn wind, I noticed a soap bubble. And then another one. And another. Actually, they were everywhere.
Following the source of this bubble storm, it turns out it was this guy who collects bubble guns. I ended up having a chat with him about his hobby. He has several battery powered toys that create constant streams of bubbles. Some of his guns have been modified to accept another battery (or two?) for a higher rate of 'firing'. He really was filling up this reasonably large amphitheater with bubbles. Apparently it only works that well if the wind is 'right' and if he is firing with the wind.
At first I thought it was a pretty weird hobby, but the more I think about it the awesomer it is. It was actually quite a sight to see that many bubbles, it did inspire me to do a bit of drawing and quite a few kids at the bottom started to go nuts when they realized that they were in the middle of this bubble storm.

April 08, 2012

Viking Lander

So I was sketching a scene in the local cemetery. After my drawing, I noticed a headstone with something unusual. It was for a sailor who died at sea by the name of Viking Lander. Immediately, I thought of the Viking Mars mission from the 1970's. It had a Viking Orbiter and a Viking Lander!
When I first saw this I thought it was an odd name... and he couldn't have been named after the the space probe by sci-fi nerd parents. He lived and died long before humans had put anything in space.
The original Viking Lander accidentally drowned at sea. According to Wikipedia, Earth lost contact with the Mars Viking Lander because of a... "Human error during software update caused the lander's antenna to go down, terminating communication." That makes both deaths sudden accidents. The obvious differences are that the remains are over 60 years apart on two different planets.

February 08, 2012

Sports bar etiquette

So I watched the Super Bowl at a sports bar. This four-hour event was a close game with a last minute touchdown even. Near the end of the game, there was one guy who simply wasn't prepared for a four-hour binge and was pretty out of it. He started getting glasses of water which is totally fine since, in retrospect, we were happy that he was just keeping it all down.
In the final two minutes of the game, he was looking for a place to sit and there was an empty stool right at the front. He sat down with what could have been his third glass and was facing away from the screen. With such a tight final quarter, all eyes were on the game but  everyone seemed distracted by this guy who wasn't watching the game but seemed to be just watching us! In his defence, he had no idea what he was doing and probably couldn't really see anyone anyway. Still, even though there are no written rules about this type of thing, what he was doing is surely bad etiquette. It should be required that if he was to sit there, he must be required to at least pretend to watch the game!
(My rough artwork for this one is available to see on my other blog!)

January 16, 2012

Grocery show opening

So my friend said that he was attending an art show opening. It reminded me of this guy I saw while grocery shopping a few days ago.
While following the tidal stream of shopper traffic up and down the aisles, there was a stationary object that the carts and bodies had to flow around. It was another shopper looking at a wall of products. What made him unusual was that he was the only one not moving, he didn't have a cart or basket and wasn't holding anything to buy. He wasn't even surveying the nutritional value of the competing brands. He really just seemed to be viewing the whole side of the aisle's shelves at once... as if he was viewing a large painting in an art gallery.
It occurred to me that he might have some kind of handicap (or maybe just taking a break from a really horrible wife) but still, the whole situation seemed very Warholian to me.

December 05, 2011

Sidewalk pirate

So the other day, I was walking down past the local shops. On passing a woman walking in the opposite direction, I noticed that she had a live parrot on her shoulder. I had to turn around for a second look since she displayed no behaviour that this was unusual. She gave the  impression that walking around with a parrot on your shoulder outside (without it flying away!) is as common as wearing pants. While I concede that this is very cool, it's not something that is seen everyday. A real pirate! AAARR!..

See the original sketch for this illustration by clicking here.