Monday, 30 January 2012

Love Thy Neighbour

This film was played at an animation showcase my siblings and I recently attended. We fell in love with it, if only because of how thoroughly horrific the last few minutes are. It's a stop-motion short film that was made by Norman McLaren in 1969. You will go to jail if you can't guess the moral of the story.

“You must not kill your neighbor, whom perhaps you genuinely hate, but by a little propaganda this hate can be transferred to some foreign nation, against whom all your murderous impulses become patriotic heroism.” Bertrand Russell

Friday, 27 January 2012

Cream Goes Boom

Given that I've worked at Tim Hortons for almost five years, now, I've survived so long remarkably unscathed. My arms are not crisscrossed with burn marks from the toaster. My hands have never been cut with breaking coffee pots. The piping hot tea water has never attacked me. And up until this morning, I've never been the one to detonate a creamer.

Today was my first shift with the new 24 oz XL cups. I'm working on getting my coworkers to call them the "Big Momma" size. Nanda, at least, seems open to it. "Big Momma, double double," she said, trying it on for size.

If you order a Big Momma triple triple, you have more cream in that sucker than you have coffee in an XS black. We have always gone through cream fast at Timmy's; needless to say this new cup size hasn't helped the issue. (It hasn't helped the drive-thru times issue, either. Did you know that we have to hit twelve separate buttons to make one XL triple triple?)

So yeah, my cream dispenser ran out of cream at 6:45 am. And I went to change it. One of the supervisors mentioned to me a few weeks ago that whenever she changes creamers, she changes them over the garbage just in case they break open. That way, rather than draining all over the floor, they drain into the garbage bin. It seemed a smart thing to do, so this morning I followed suit.

Nevertheless, as I dropped the cream bag into its metal cradle, I heard a splurt noise. So I looked down. And shrieked. And then I jumped backward in an attempt to evade the surging dairy liquid, but my legs were already casualties. I kid you not. It's like white paint.

I didn't even have the brains to pull out the garbage bin to catch the outpouring cream-stream. You know, the whole reason I had been switching cream bags over the garbage in the first place? It was Soon who did that. As I jumped to... well there was no safety, but farther away from the flood, Soon heroically dived in, pulling out the bin, thereby mitigating any further damage.

Meanwhile, two male customers standing at the counter were confused and working out with each other what had just happened. "Look at her!" one of them laughed to the other.

"No, don't look at me!" I whimpered.

My two wonderful coworkers both began damage control, trying simultaneously to serve two lines of customers and mop up the lake on the floor. And to do so without slipping and smashing their bones. Even the Esso guy helped out, but not before handing me the key to the bathroom.

At least the bathroom was working. All last week, it was shut down because they had no running water. And I ask you, what would I have done if there were no water with which to rinse out my pants? I mean, there are the Timmy's sinks, but there's no way I'd rinse my pants there in front of the cameras. First I'd have to climb into the sink and then it'd be a crazy time trying to wring my pants out again without taking them off.

So I went to the bathroom and made my pants even wetter, but less white. Meanwhile, I heard a new voice over the headset, taking orders. It turns out Debbie had arrived fifteen minutes early. Finding the back door open (bad!) she thought she'd sneak in undetected to demonstrate how easily someone could have stolen all our purses.

"Won't they be surprised?" she thought.

"But," she said to me later, "I was the one who was surprised!"

She graciously jumped into the fray despite being technically not on-shift yet just because she's awesome. And she changed all my creamers for me for the rest of the shift. That's one thing I like about the Esso. Nobody gets mad at anyone for making disastrous boo-boos. They just try to make you feel better. :-D

Eventually everything got mopped up, cleaned up, and I did eventually dry out, smelling not too strongly of curdled cream. But what with the Esso being just too small to fit the new XL cup sizes and everyone having Friday-brain and all, the chaos continued throughout the shift.

I enjoyed it all. Except for the bit about putting wet pants back on. That is not fun.

Ivanova: Ambassador. Do you really want to know what's going on down there right now?
Londo: Yes! Absolutely!
Ivanova: Boom. Boom boom boom. Boom Boom. BOOM! Have a nice day!
Londo: Aah! You can never get a straight answer from anyone around here!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Don't Think Too Hard

I was browsing through some philosophy essays I wrote during my first year of university. I think 2006-2008 was the epoch of my academic writing career. My style was both colourful and interesting without being too casual. Most of the time.

In a discussion about the pitfalls of over-thinking things, I wrote,

"There are so many variables that, in an extreme case, a person [who is trying to consider them all] might eventually find him or herself to be caught so deeply in thought that nothing would ever get accomplished, and the person would simply appear to become an atrophied blob of breathing, thinking flesh."

While I don't think he took any marks off for it, my professor scrawled in the margin, "Carla, I really didn't need this image!"

I probably wouldn't try to use that word-picture in formal writing nowadays.

"Pay no attention to what the critics say. Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic!" Jean Sibelius

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Merlin: Alternative Script

This is how Merlin Series 4 should have gone:

Arthur: I tried to use magic to heal my father. He died.

Merlin: It wasn't his fault. Gaius found an enchanted amulet on him that reverses the efforts of magic. The fact that he died so quickly means that the wizard was actually doing a good job. We think Morgana put the amulet on him.

Arthur: Oh. How did Morgana get the amulet on him?

Merlin: We're not sure, but we know for a fact that it doesn't belong to Uther and he wasn't wearing it before. Someone's a rat.

Arthur: Hmmmm.....

Gwen: Arthur, when Merlin came back from his disappearance in the woods, we found a thing in his neck.

Arthur: A what?

Gwen: A magic thing. It seems to be controlling him and turning him homicidal. Perhaps he should be locked up until Gaius can figure out what needs to be done about it.

Arthur: Ok.

Gaius: Now that the creature has been put to sleep, let's discuss this with Merlin.

Merlin: I can go back to Morgana's hut and kill the motherbeast.

Arthur: You know where Morgana's hut is?

Merlin: Yes. She didn't think to knock me out and drag me to the bog herself, she just told me to leave. I remember the route perfectly.

Arthur: Wonderful. I'll come along, too, and run her out of Camelot at the very least.

Gaius: Take a few more knights along just in case Merlin goes bonkers, and it sounds like a good plan.

Arthur: I think so, but I want to know one thing. How did anyone know where we were going to be in order to kidnap Merlin to begin with?

Merlin: I think we have a rat.

Arthur: Hmmmm...

Arthur: Agravaine, now that we've run Morgana out of Camelot, I've been thinking about this whole "rat" thing, and I think it's you.

Agravaine: What? I never!

Arthur: Well, have you any other ideas?

Agravaine: Gaius!

Arthur: Except that I'm pretty sure Gaius wouldn't betray Merlin. Or kill my dad. He's been our one faithful companion since before I was born. As much as I don't want to believe it's you, I'd hate to think it's Gaius even more.

Agravaine: But I would never betray your mother!

Arthur: I didn't even know you existed until you showed up after my dad went looney!

Agravaine: But I wouldn't ever hurt you!

Arthur: Because I have no solid proof, I'll buy your feeble defense for now. But be careful; I'm watching you.

Agravaine: I'll prove it was Gaius!

Merlin: Gwaine, could you please tell me if you know what this is?

Gwaine: It's iron ore. As far as I know, it's only found one place in Camelot. Where did you get it from?

Merlin: Agravaine's boots.

Gwaine: Why are you stealing dirt from Agravaine's boots?

Merlin: I have a hunch that he's framed Gaius and kidnapped him.

Gwaine: That's a pretty serious accusation, my friend.

Merlin: It is serious, but I have good reason to suppose that's the case. Since you've trusted me and supported me wonderfully with everything so far into our friendship, will you help me discover whether this is truly the case? I'd rather not get myself into trouble or damage an innocent man's reputation.

Gwaine: Of course, Merlin. You know I'd do anything for you.

Gwaine: Agravaine! It was you!

Agravaine: No! I followed you here!

Gwaine: ....and got here ahead of us? Right. Just to be safe, I won't kill you, but why don't you go sit in the corner while I help Gaius?

Arthur: Who kidnapped you, Gaius?

Gaius: Agravaine. He wanted to frame me.

Arthur: Are you sure?

Gaius: Yes.

Gwaine: I caught Agravaine trying to kill Gaius before we could rescue him.

Merlin: Plus, I may or may not have seen him visiting Morgana's hut in the wood when I was homicidal.

Arthur: And you didn't tell me?!

Merlin: Well, I was scared of how you would react.

Arthur: You ninny! Nincompoop! Thanks for the heads up!

Merlin: Sorry.

Gaius: No good deed goes unpunished, my lord. Morgana has lost all of her character complexity and is thoroughly bent on revenge. She's come back into Camelot, despite your warning. Somehow, she has an army.

Arthur: Fine, we'll have to kill her this time.

Merlin: Do you think we can hold her off?

Arthur: Her army, yes, no problem. I think a highly trained army in a castle built for sieges can withstand a few motley mercenaries. Now that our rat is gone, no one is leaking sensitive information to her, like the location of the siege tunnels. But Morgana herself has magic and may be hard to kill. It's too bad we don't have anything to personally counter her with.

Merlin: Well, um, *cough*

Arthur: What? What did you say, Merlin?

Merlin: I said, uh, if you did have some magic to counter her with, would you automatically assume that the magician is evil and has it in for you?

Arthur: Well, no.

Merlin: In that case, my king, I present to you, myself.

Arthur: Finally.

Merlin: What?

Arthur: You must really think I'm a blockhead if you believed you were actually fooling me these last three-and-a-half years. How blind do you think I am?

Merlin: Well, um....

Arthur: Can you handle Morgana if my knights fend off her slip-shod army?

Merlin: Yes.

Arthur: Good. In that case, I'm supposed be getting married today. Gwen!

Gwen: I love you, Arthur.

Arthur: I love you, Gwen.

Author's notes: The storyline could have been covered in half the time it actually takes, because certain incidents wouldn't have even happened had the characters (or writers) bothered to think things through.

I mean, I can understand them not wanting to kill Morgana, and according to tradition she does have to live longer than Arthur himself, but they way they neglect to deal with her is just ludicrous.

And Merlin had the nearly perfect segue to discussing his magic with Arthur. I mean, really, what else is he waiting for? The exact line, "Well, Merlin, I really wish one of the two of us had magic right now, preferably you"? Maybe, "Please, Merlin, now would be a wonderful time for you to tell me you've been keeping secrets from me... magical ones"?


"What are you waiting for? Another shade of green? This one isn't good enough for you?" my dad, when we don't notice fast enough that the traffic light has turned green.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Lost Book of Hezekiah

I found it! My closet holds many mysteries, but I wasn't expecting this: several ancient manuscripts of the NTBOH* version of the Book of Hezekiah! In case you aren't aware, Hezekiah is that book of the Bible that everyone quotes but can never find (except for me, that is). Using my special powers of super-glasses and intuitive interpretation, I've written out the translation of some of the more interesting bits.

Hezekiah 1:4-14

4. In the fifth year of the reign of Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, when Georgios the servant of the LORD slew the mighty dragon, the land of Judah rejoiced for a prophetical word received for them by their king.

5."Let us gather the people together, that I may tell them the word of the LORD," said Hezekiah, and lo, the people were gathered that he may tell them of his vision.

And when they were gathered, 6. Hezekiah stood on the balcony and addressed the crowd, saying, "I tell you today, take heart! For the LORD has seen your suffering and sends word that it shall pass. 7. Your grief and distress you have caused for yourself will disappear, and your hunger pains shall be no more. 8. Just as your years of slavery in Egypt were numbered, and your days of wandering in the desert were limited, 9. this, too, shall pass. 10. For the LORD is merciful and does not smile upon the hardships of His children. Those who profess belief in Him will live to be as Methusaleh; old and full of days. 11. They will not want for anything, neither food nor song, 12. and shall live in peace and unity with their wives and sons and daughters, even their cattle and oxen and slaves, maidservants, distant acquaintances and the elders of the village. 13. The LORD will shield them from harm, giving them the desires of their hearts, and they shall be happy all their days. 14. Even in the end days, they shall be spared the wrath and tribulation of the LORD. They will sing in green valleys, as the lion will lie down with the lamb."

Hezekiah 2:7-18

7. "My people are prone to evil deeds, for in the beginning the devil, who is Lucifer, grew prideful and decided in his mind to make himself God. 8. Though the LORD cast him from heaven, there was a great battle, and Lucifer corrupted one-third of the angels, that is, the demons, and fought the LORD.

9. "The LORD said to him, 'Lucifer, you wicked serpent, your name is now Satan. 10. May you grow the horns of a goat and be banished to the bowels of the earth, lest you again seek to overthrow me and wreak destruction in heaven.'

11. "And so the devil is on earth and always tempts people, enticing them to fall prey to the seven deadly sins, which the LORD hates: gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, vanity, envy, and wrath. 12. It is the devil that tempts you to do these things, for the soul of man is such that it wants to do what is good and right, except when battling the evil one. 13. Do not be timid, for the demons are but dogs to those who are saved, and can do no harm to those who rebuke them. 14. Be confident in yourself, for having prayed the sinner's prayer, you are a child of God, 15. and once you are saved, you are always saved. 16. Fear not the trials of this world, for all those who say the LORD is their Father are saved, 17. even should they continue to stumble and not serve the LORD, as they were sincere when they desired the forgiveness of their sin. 18. For God is a loving God, and does not judge."

Hezekiah 3:14-15

14. When the child did not step into the chariot to calm the stallion as the king had asked, Hezekiah addressed the crowd again, saying,

"Thus says the LORD, 'Follow your dreams, and to your own self be true.' 15. For the LORD helps those who help themselves. God cannot steer a parked chariot."

Hezekiah 6:28-31

28. All in the land of Judah were glad, for a Messiah had been promised to them. They danced to the sound of the lyre and the tambourine and drank juice made from grapes. Isaiah the prophet approved of this revelry. 29. While he was dancing, he received a word from the LORD, and so looked for Hezekiah to speak it to him.

"Hezekiah," he said, "I have a word from the LORD regarding the Messiah."

30. "Isaiah, prophet of God," Hezekiah replied, "Though you are drunk with grape juice, speak it, for while I have received a word from the LORD myself, it has not been tested as the word which you have received."

31. So Isaiah said, "Thus says the LORD. The Messiah which shall be born to you will have a wife, of the region of Magdala. He shall release her from the grip of demons and then he shall marry her and have children with her, for it is the role of all godly men and women to raise children."

Hezekiah 12:4-9

4. Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was playing in the dirt, making fortresses out of mud. 5. When Isaiah saw his son, he grew angry and picked his son out of the dirt, saying, "Now, my son, you must wash in the river, both your body and your clothes. 6. For you are filthy, and cleanliness is next to godliness."

7. "But father," replied Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, "there is a woman with a washtub there at the market. You shall pay her a coin and I will wash there, rather than in the river where it is cold and swift."

8. "When you are a man, you will be destitute, my son, for a fool and his money are soon parted. 9. Why should anyone pay for water, though it is contained in a vessel, when anyone can access it without cost?"

*New Totally Bogus Often Heresy Version

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Mark Twain

Friday, 13 January 2012

New Year Report

Now that it's half-way through January, let's take a look at how the new year is shaping up.

1. Apparently two-thirds* of the Tim Horton's coffee-drinking population made a new year's resolution to cut back on coffee or to brew it at home. Or perhaps they were just reeling from Christmas spending and decided to budget better in general. In any case, most of them lasted exactly one week into January. Some of them held out for nine days. Good job, folks. That's at least $12.53 you saved this year!

2. My hairbrush is oozing goo.

3. The price of transit ticket books went up again.

4. The USA no longer follows the rule of law. And if you think that the act will only affect terrorists or people that look like terrorists, well, I hope you're right but believe you're wrong. Perhaps this is an appropriate post for Friday the 13th, after all.

"Now the night rolls back on the West and the night is solid.
Our fathers and ourselves sowed dragon’s teeth."

Stephen Vincent Benét (Litany for Dictatorships)

*This statistic is not made up. We track numbers.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

I'm Officially in Love

....with Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat. I've never really seen either the Disney or Tim Burton's version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but I just finished reading the books.

Disney, for whatever reason, originally classified the Cheshire Cat as a villain, so I started off reading the books with this expectation, but really, the Cheshire Cat is perfectly pleasant and good-natured. Just horribly creepy while he's at it.

And, as Flippers says on Hoodwinked, "We don't arrest people for being creepy."

Maybe it's the juxtaposition of creepy and perfectly decent that I like. Maybe I like that, despite the cat's own claims to the contrary, he is seemingly the most sane of all the inhabitants of Wonderland. All his dialogue is well-worded and clever. I'm not sure why I love him, but I do, which is causing me to pine after a Cheshire Cat mug from Amazon that I stumbled across. When you put something hot in the cup, the cat fades away, leaving only his smile behind, just like the cat does in the story. Unfortunately, the mug is from the .com side, rather than the .ca side, so I'm debating whether it's worth it. The Disney Store has a Disney Cheshire Cat mug, but it's the original cat I'm in love with.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been, on the whole, confusing but pleasant. I appreciate Carroll's wordplay and some of the philosophical themes he highlights. Unfortunately, it's rather difficult, at least in a culture so different from his own, to identify what he meant as pure nonsense and what he meant as a statement, or whether he distinguished between the two at all.

I wouldn't let young kids read it, though. The Queen of Hearts is positively terrifying!

Here's a taste of my new feline friend, straight from the book:

"Cheshire-Puss," she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where---" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"---So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."