Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not So Revolutionary

The much-anticipated new J. J. Abrams television series 'Revolution' does not deserve its grandiose title by a long shot. The show's premise is great; a world gone dark, the total loss of electricity and the fate of a planet reduced to a pre-industrial agricultural world. A major blow to the pride of civilizations grown soft and dependent on trivialities and luxuries, too busy to look up from their phones to realize that they've lost their strongest asset: adaptability. The philosophical, moral implications are huge. There's more than enough material in there to cover endless seasons of questions, not just on the premise, but on the foundations of civilization, their rise and fall, our relationship with technology and our connection to the earth that sustains us.

The show was bursting with potential. And then it aired.

The premiere was more than disappointing. It was annoying. It's hard to know where to begin: the wooden acting, the predictable writing, the cheesy fight sequences, the stilted attempt at a 'story', the lack of chemistry between everyone in the cast, or the way it overpromised on its superb premise to underdeliver with all of the aforementioned.

Let's start with the starry-eyed optimism of what appears to be the main character, Charlie. She's a young woman who seems to believe in the inherent goodness of people and remembers a time when electricity still existed before her not-so-bad-looking life on a farm. Her father was one of the few people to understand the blackout and appears to have a clue from that time on how to get the power back. So ends the life of the most interesting person on the show, as he gets shot in the pilot within minutes of it starting. As for Charlie, you would expect that someone who had witnessed what was probably a traumatic shift for humankind, would be a little, well, harder.

As a matter of fact, this is one of the main problems with the show. You would expect a show with such a dark premise to be, well, darker. In a post-apocalyptic world gone dark, you would expect that there would be chaos, violence, blood, harrowing tales of human survival. Instead, you have this watered down, family friendly drama where everyone looks ridiculously clean and the dialogue is the only thing stiffer than the acting. There are no emotional connections formed with any of the characters, with the exception of a mild affection for the soft-bellied former Google tech wizard who can't fight, or the mild respect for the bad ass black dude who rocks the militia.

The attempts at 'romance' between Charlie and the militia man who, for some reason, can't stop himself from saving her multiple times despite the fact that he's tracking her as some sort of enemy of the state, are pathetic. The very fact that she needs so much saving is also a contributor to the annoyance factor. J.J.Abrams brought us such strong female characters as Sidney in 'Alias' and Kate in 'Lost' and then with this production, delivers a character who needs to get saved in the pilot-twice.

The attempts at creating family drama are even worse. Two episodes in, I couldn't care less whether or not they save her asthmatic brother. I'm also not sure why Miles even bothers with his little family, unless living has suddenly become boring. Apparently he's the family bad ass, but even he can't resist the doe eyes of his niece.

The show's format breaks down roughly into this: 20 minutes of boring drama, 10 minutes of fighting, 20 more minutes of boring drama, and 10 minutes on the actual conspiracy story which is of some flickering interest to the viewer. Unfortunately, the conspiracy story is not going to be enough. After suffering through two episodes of periodically yelling at characters and saying their lines with them because the script was so trite, I couldn't care less why the world went dark. Maybe someone spilled coke on the switchboard. Maybe someone at Apple got pissed off. Maybe it's the Russians. In any case, this is a series that deserves to stay in the dark.

Monday, September 17, 2012

NHL Lockout- plan B?

Now that the NHL lockout has become official, it's time for us fans to have a little fun at the expense of the players and consider some plan Bs for NHL players across the league.

Watching It: Dustin Byfuglien has been getting some flack for a little weight gain over the summer. He probably now knows how Jessica Simpson feels after the high-waisted jeans fiasco. Maybe it's time for the two of them to team up for Weight Watchers? Simpson's making a cool $4 million on her deal to shed the baby weight- Byfuglien's lockout weight deal should clock in at half of that. That's more than he makes playing hockey and all he has to do is eat lettuce. Not a bad deal.

The Battle of the Roses: Dion Phaneuf has gotten engaged over the summer to Elisha Cuthbert, the kind of hockey royalty wedding that could be splashed all over People. With so much time on his hands, could Phaneuf move on to become the worst Bridezilla we've ever seen? Somehow, the mental image of Phaneuf man-handling florists and terrorizing bakers seems all too possible.

Mad Hatter at the Tea Party: Tim Thomas was way ahead of the curve; he said no to this season before it even looked like a lockout year. He's taking a year off to devote to his personal matters, like his family and the Tea Party. He looks to be a shoe-in for Mad Hatter status, especially with that stache. If I was Alice, I would run like hell.

Staying at Home: Zach Parise and new BFF Ryan Suter both wanted to spend more time close to home. Wish granted.

Have some great ideas of your own? Why not shout it out on Twitter at #NHLLockoutplanB?

How the NHL Lockout is Like the Public Service

True statement: Hockey fans who will never see a million dollars in their lifetime find it difficult to understand the trials and tribulations of billionnaire owners locking out millionnaire players. Very true. But when you think about the reactions from the public, the NHL lockout is not that different from the public service wage cuts and hiring freezes that were recently in the news in Canada.

Consider these parellels: the public service, as a whole, is viewed from the outside as a place of privilege. Lots of job security, excellent wages, competitive working conditions, enviable holidays and various types of leave for family, medical and other. Which was why when the cuts and freezes were implemented, very few people outside the public service had any sympathy. No matter how unfair it was to ask employees to give up benefits or do more work with less people, the public perception was always the same: boo hoo.

This situation does mirror the NHLPA. While it is unfair to ask the players to concede millions of dollars in a revenue-sharing plan which already benefits the owners, instead of focusing on that aspect, the public only chooses to see the dollar signs, the likes of which they will never see.

Context is important. Just as a low wage earner with no job security jeers at the public servant who makes 6 figures and can never be fired, so does the NHL fan look at the players with their millions and figure that it's no big deal. When you're already in a privileged place, it's difficult for people to sympathize when you lose some of the privileges that you already have. We call this the 'suck it up princess' theory.

In a bargaining process, there's always a certain amount of give and take. The public service fought hard to not have a wage freeze, although the government argued fiscal responsibility and administrative efficiencies. The public service argued for jobs protection and cost of living. The rest of the public mostly sided with the government in this public relations battle, most with the image useless desk jockeys surfing the net. Both the public service in Canada and the NHLPA were called overpaid bums. It's a funny thing to have in common, but there it is.

The NHL board of commissioners, much like the Canadian government, is claiming that it overpays its employees. The job cuts spoke loudly and clearly: we pay public servants too much money, just as Bettman claims that the NHL pays its players too much money. It was always a question of money. Painting its employees as greedy in the media was the weapon of choice for both groups. Another thing in common.

How did the public relations war end for the government and public service? The public service was cut drastically, to cheers from many less fortunate parts of the country. Cheers that may die down as essential services slow or disappear completely without ressources. How will it end for the NHL and NHLPA? So far, feelings are pretty mixed. But like the public service cuts, nobody ended up feeling very happy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Practical Schooling?

Can schools be more practical? This is probably not going to cause the same kind of debate as the question of whether or not they should be more practical. For the most part, it was understood for many young Canadians that school would teach them the building blocks of education, that they would get the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, to prepare them for more complicated matters later, such as philosophy, psychology and engineering, depending on their choice of future career path. All the practical things in life were to be taught at home: how to brush your teeth, fry an egg, table manners, social graces, what to say and wear in front of grandma. But it seems like these things are less obvious or are being forgotten as we microwave dinner and stare at phones. So is there a place for schools to step in?

Leaving the whole question of obligations aside, it is no doubt that society would benefit largely from schools offering more practical curriculum that not only teaches charts and dates, but also teaches fundamentals of life. Perhaps the notion that these things should be learned at home is outdated, part of a fundamental social and religious ideal that is no longer relevant. Perhaps, also, the notion that they can be learned at school is an acknowledgement of the fact that not all homes are the same.

If schools are meant to give children a real chance at a good life, arming them with the tools they need to succeed, why not teach them practical things and good habits they can use over a lifetime? Here are some of the topics that schools could include to help students in a more practical way:

1- Economics: This is not a topic that needs to be left for post-secondary. The basics of economics goes well beyond basic math and should include theory as well as personal economics. Personal economics includes how to create a budget, how to budget for university, the value of savings and investments and the perils of credit. It's not riveting stuff, but it's also not rocket science. You can't spend what you don't have and you can't borrow money without a reasonable plan to pay it back. Simple.

2- Social Media etiquette: Etiquette is quickly becoming an antiquated concept, but it is not limited to how to behave at a tea party. Etiquette are the basic, unwritten social rules of how to behave in a manner that is respectful, appropriate and as unobtrusive as possible. Anyone reading this post knows hundreds of people who could use social media etiquette- a quick scroll on Twitter will show tons of potential recruits. This course should look at the potential pitfalls and implications of social media and how freedom of expression and right to privacy may not be what we assume them to be. This course can also include smart use of social media, for the savvy would-be entrepreneur, even if that entrepreneur is a teenage babysitter.

3- Physical education and nutrition: We all hear the news about obesity rates and diabetes. Nothing will change if we don't teach good habits, and this type of course is not effective without nutrition, since the two go hand-in-hand. Physical education is not about playing dodgeball. It should be about basic fitness (how many kids can do 20 push ups? Seriously? How many?) and a reasonable diet that includes water and food that doesn't come from a can. This is the best preventative method when it comes to healthy habits and healthy adults.

4- World religions and diversity: It is not enough to just teach children about their own religion or their own community. The world is a small place and diversity is a great thing. It teaches us about ourselves and opens up a world of possibilities in food, fashion, flavours and festivals. More children will travel the world for experience, work or pleasure. They should be given the tools early on to adapt to new places and given a taste of what awaits them in a future of endless possibilities.

These are just four examples of simple ways we can boost education for children. While it's highly encouraged that parents should do this themselves, it's not always possible in our time-crunched world. But if we're really committed to helping children and empowering them for the future, we should at least consider it.

Dad: Boss and Owner

In some households, dad is boss. In one Ontario household, the dad is not happy with just being the boss; he insists that he owns his kids. In a fight with the Ontario school board on the right to pull his children from courses that may be out of line with his traditional Christian beliefs, the most appalling aspect of this case is the man's following statement (taken from Yahoo):

"My children are my own. I own them. They don't belong to the school board."

Well, this statement is 50% right- the school board definitely does not own his children. On the other hand, this statement of 'I own them' is much more problematic. First, there's the creepy Bates-like mentality of saying such a thing, a statement which is sure to resonate with his children later on in life, as they feel the full weight of his expectations. Second, the very fact of owning anything removes all sense of autonomy or self-awareness of that thing. This is not a problem when the thing in question is a flat screen television. Yeah, you own that thing. It's more troubling when the thing is a human being.

Humans are linked- they are not owned, they are not property. The semantics in this case matter a whole lot. The television doesnt't require you to respect it or its opinions. The television doesn't grow up, mature or have a deep-rooted need to find its own way in life. People should not be equated with things or with ownership of any kind; this attitude and this language is repressive.

The whole matter of what he perceives as his right to pull his children from classes, or be made aware ahead of time what's in the course material is only noteworthy when you consider that by the virtue of his language, this is a father with a few control issues.

And as such, his children are probably the ones who could benefit the most from seeing different perspectives on life. Human rights comes to mind.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Politics go OMG!

Prince Harry's butt is back in the news- but this time, it's in danger. And we don't mean the wrath of the Queen or the voracity of the celebrity media; the Taliban has claimed publicly that it will do everything in its power to destroy Prince Harry, third in the line to the British throne.

The Taliban has probably chosen Prince Harry as a symbol of the occupying Western forces and his recent Vegas escapade photos have probably only fuelled the notion of Western excess and lack of morals. Even without the symbolism, Prince Harry is a well-known public figure in the media, a highly recognizable target, should he get hit. It would be a media field day if they were successful.

It begs the question whether or not someone as high profile as Prince Harry should even be involved in a secret military mission. He's been pulled from duty before for this reason, stating that his presence actually created a greater danger for his comrades. While the military is committed to protecting, as best as they can, all of its soldiers, and Harry is a professional within it, it's hard to believe that this isn't a similar case.

On the other hand, the whole situation is somewhat baffling. Yes, there is symbolism in taking down a crown prince from the United Kingdom, a symbol of enduring monarchy, but let's face it, Prince Harry is better known as a celebrity. He's a bad boy known for partying it up, while his clean as a thistle older brother is known as the heir, while he jokingly refers to himself as the spare. His life of extreme privilege and hard partying is not that far off from the Kanye Wests of the world. Could it be that the Taliban needs media?

What should be a political threat actually looks more like a publicity stunt. It's like the Taliban is playing for air time, regardless of how it comes. This is the kind of news that could show up on OMG and TMZ in addition to CNN and Fox News. Maybe the Taliban understands that the worst of the infidels watch and follow those shows. Perhaps this is just a logical expansion of their *target* demographic. *pun so intended.

Maybe the Taliban is coming of age. Maybe their next step is a Twitter account. Can't you just see it? Tell me you haven't thought of it. Deny that you're thinking about it right now. And you would Follow it, wouldn't you?

Or else...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Way We Iz- Part 3

This is part of a 3 part series on why the present is better- in some ways. It follows up the previous 3 part series on why the past is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That’s democracy.


Selfishness is a double-edged sword, but it does have its advantages, the least of which is the fact that it's better for you. Seriously, being selfish at the right time is not only a good thing for the person directly involved, it is actually better for the whole of society.

This might sound like a line straight from the conservative mouth, but backtracking a bit on the C word, let's consider the context of how selfishness helps. In the past, we've been taught to be the kind of people we should be and not necessarily the kind of person we are. On the whole, this has meant obedient, diligent, careful, conformist and nice. Nice hasn't always gotten us very far. Nice has made us follow our parents career paths instead of our own, marry the person who everyone else likes, buy the house in the up and coming neighbourhood that is still a bit rough on the edges and be decent, law-abiding upstanding (yawn!)- citizens.

This kind of nice happens to a lot of people, without them even knowing it. But a bit of selfish can pull people out of these life situations once the person is brave enough to stop and ask themselves: What do I want? and then finding out what needs to be done to get that.

Now, selfishness has taken off recently as a concept and is probably on the verge of disastrous as far as the next generation is concerned. This is not the kind of dialogue that you should be having with a five year old child who wants to constantly express their desire for ice cream. Selfishness is the right of the grown adult individual who has taken the time to consider their dreams and knows themselves to the extent where happiness and self-fulfillment are possible.

It's become completely normal for people to talk about 'me' time. It's that precious hour or so a day (depending on if they can get it!) where a person can do as they please. In a life that is constrained by obligations and responsibilities like work and bills, that 'me' time is precious and some experts even claim it's essential for our mental health. It can be as simple as taking a bath, a walk or a few minutes of silence with a glass of wine. The growing acceptance of the importance and value of me time is a sure testament to how far we've come in letting ourselves be a little selfish to make us better. Because a lot of people don't like the foul-tempered, impatient version of 'me' and a lot less are willing to become the bitter, unfulfilled version of 'me' that less inward people might have become.

Letting ourselves be a little bit selfish when our happiness is at stake is part of how we make ourselves and our world a bit better. And remember that I said 'a little' and that I put it in the context of self-fulfillment and happiness, not a desire for material things or the trampling of others in the pursuit of material wealth. Even though it can be a good thing, this is definitely a case of less is more.

The Way We Iz- Part 2

This is part of a 3 part series on why the present is better- in some ways. It follows up the previous 3 part series on why the past is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That’s democracy.


Tolerance. It was a long time coming and many will argue that it's not quite here yet. Others will be quick to tell you that we're losing it, with more and more people falling by way of the dark age. But the very fact that we consider intolerant times the dark age, and the very fact that it worries us as a society, is a good thing. It shows that we care and that we truly value it, and that kind of vigilance means that we're not likely to lose it.

In North America, there would have been a time not that long ago when the sight of homosexuals would have caused violence, moral outrage and ridicule. Indeed, we would not even have seen or heard of it for the most part. It was invisible, this so-called problem of homosexuality. The only times it was made visible to us was when something terrible happened, like a homosexual youth being beaten to death. It took a long time for anyone to even talk about it. But now, people are not only talking about it, they're celebrating it.

For some, it's possible to not only be open about their homosexuality, it has also become possible to live a full life like anyone else, free to marry who they choose and even to have kids. Gone is this ridiculous notion of a lifestyle choice where members of the homosexual community are seen as outsiders who don't have a desire for family and love. And it's not just homosexuals; transgendered people are also coming to the fore and being accepted for who they are and not how they were born.

It's a beautiful thing to see happy same sex couples with their children, living their dreams, full of love, part of their communities. Yes, it's true that they've become the topic of debate in the US elections and not everyone is quite as free as they could be across the continent. But they're no longer strange or invisible, even if they continue to divide people on the moral spectrum. And quite a few people in the educated populace believe that it's backwards to be opposed to them, which is an achievement in itself.

The hardest thing to change in life, and indeed, the last thing to change in humans, is attitudes towards something. The tide has changed largely in favour of rights and acceptance of same sex couples, something which would have been unthinkable not so long ago. Tolerance is progressive and we can only grow by it. Another great reason why this is a good time to be in, especially if you're homosexual, bisexual or transgendered.

The Way We Iz- Part 1

This is part of a 3 part series on why the present is better- in some ways. It follows up the previous 3 part series on why the past is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That’s democracy.

The World is Small

It was once believed that the world is flat. For the most part, people now know this not to be true. But one thing the world has become is a whole lot smaller.

There has never been a time in human history where travel, reaching out and existing virtually in almost every part of the globe at the same time has been possible. Back when cartographers were still figuring out what they thought was our flat planet, there would be vast sections with nothing on it, or pictures of dragons to show the mystery and possible magic of places unknown. Unfortunately, there aren't quite so many dragon maps as there used to be and even less unknown places. But it's fairly easy to get around.

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a time when travel is not just for the jet-setting half alcoholic businessmen who wear fedoras. Now, almost anyone with a middle income or the internet is capable of scoring a seat to travel somewhere in the world that once existed as just a dream. Maybe it's a country that they saw in a documentary or a National Geographic special, or maybe romantic movies in sun-soaked wine valleys; either way, travel, while still a dream for many, is closer to being a reality than it ever was.

Consider the strenuous voyages across the sea that one would have had to take not even a hundred years ago to get to new lands. Between the seasickness, homesickness and general monotony of a week spent on a ship, not to mention some pretty serious cabin fever, ship travel wasn't exactly a cruise. People were lucky to make it to their destination alive in some cases and there was always the fear that a major storm would make it a much shorter trip than anyone bargained for.

Would anyone in that seafaring age have believed us if we told them that now, almost anyone with a summer job in America can travel by plane to the place of their dreams? And it's not just travel which is making the world smaller. An online presence, social networking and virtual business is making it possible for people to connect all over the world, instantaneously. Now it's not uncommon to meet young people who have friends on every continent. And it's even more likely that as they get older, they will travel to meet those friends, or relocate a few times in their lives for work and life experiences. It's also very likely that they will meet the love of their lives while on the road- and maybe face some challenging decisions.

This is a world of possibilities that we are fortunate to have. In our lifetime, if we make world travel our priority, we can scale Mount Kilimanjaro, ride a camel in the desert towards the pyramids, barter for goods in Lebanon, visit the holy land of Jerusalem, surf in Australia and so much more. It's truly a small world.

The Way It Wuz- part 3

This is part of a 3 part series on why the past is better- in some ways. To be fair, it will be followed up by a 3 part series on why the present is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That's democracy.

Work For It

I love looking at old black and white photographs of grandparents back when they were young, standing proudly in front of their first home, their first car or cradling their first born child. There's something safe and simple about those photos, and they will always tell you that they didn't have much, but what they did have, they appreciated. Most of them moved into their first home with barely a stick of furniture, wrapping up towels and drinking root beer on overturned crates. They worked a lifetime to fill the house with furniture, photos, decorations and love. And they were proud of it.

Nobody expected to come into their adult life equipped with a fully furnished house, a new car, a barbecue and pool for friends. They would have laughed at the notion. Limited access to credit meant that everything had to be earned, slowly, over a period of time and if there simply wasn't enough for two things, then you had to choose one. Nobody was ashamed to have their friends over because their couch was old or their dining room set was only for 4 people instead of 6. And nobody was expected to live on the cover of a magazine in the perfect house with a gourmet kitchen.

This is not to say that the previous generation wanted less than the current one; it's just that they expected less. And they didn't expect to have it all overnight. They worked for everything and did it over time, often doing overtime to get what they wanted.

Now people are killing themselves to get the things that they believe they have to have, taking out loans, putting things on credit, living way beyond their means. Guess what middle class- nobody has ever died by not having a dining room set in the dining room. Your neighbours aren't judging you for the state of your couch- they're probably too busy thinking about their own couch. It's really not all that bad.

A lot of people still work hard, it's their expectations that should be kept in check. They should expect to work years to have a home full of wonderful things like their parents had, they should expect to have to make choices with their money and maybe forego a few vacations instead of running into debt. And they should set a good example for the kids as well.

It was not that long ago that kids would dream of Christmas all year round so that they could finally get that one toy they desperately wanted, being extra good in December, brushing their teeth without being told and not fighting with their brother. But now, you can barely see the bottom of the Christmas tree which is literally buried in piles of presents which are forgotten as quickly as they're opened in favour of yet more presents.

The old saying 'a penny saved is a penny earned'is meant to show the value of self-restraint when it comes to finances. But the more important lesson is that the things we work for are the things that we truly appreciate.

The Way it Wuz- part 2

This is part of a 3 part series on why the past is better- in some ways. To be fair, it will be followed up by a 3 part series on why the present is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That's democracy.


Community is not a word that you hear much these days, unless it's used in the religious or suburban context. But it is something that we all need to survive. Humans were not made to live alone; indeed, it would be almost impossible for the species to survive that way, given that we need not just contact, but help. If you stop to think about who you would call if you had an accident at home or fell terribly ill, who comes to mind? It's usually family and rightly so. The sharing of genes is a good prerequisite for help, part of the preservation of the species. But what about those people who aren't lucky enough to have family, or those who don't have them nearby? This is where community comes in.

In the past, people could rely on religious communities, people from their church, to help them out. Floods of neighbours came over, armed with pies and casseroles when someone fell seriously ill or lost a family member. Some people now have community groups located in their neighbourhoods, not linked by religion, but geographical proximity and shared lifestyles. But outside of that, there's less and less community in the western world, and even, within it.

It's natural to think of family in a crisis, but maybe it's time to expand on that, if possible. More and more people don't have the luxury of staying all in one place, surrounded by family and other support units. These other support units actually need to exist in real neighbourhoods. It's time to bring back the concept of the good neighbour, the neighbourhood watch, the welcome wagon. Neighbours need to be more than that awkward hello at the mail box while you flip through your junk mail pamphlets. People need to actually get involved with each other, help each other and get involved in a type of community.

With the rise in condo living, less and less people are feeling attached to their neighbourhoods. Indeed, when these groups get together, it's often because there's a problem. The first time that I met my own neighbours in my condo building, it wasn't at a reception over food and drink; it was a town hall style meeting where we discussed vandalism on our common areas. Needless to say, it wasn't quite the meet and greet with the neighbours that I was expecting.

It's probably time we took an interest in one another, and not the creepy, staring into each other's windows with binoculars kind. We should reach out, talk and get to know each other and not stare directly ahead at the elevator buttons in silence when we meet. We won't have the communities of the church groups of yesteryear, but at least we'll exist in the eyes of our neighbours.

The Way it Wuz- Part 1

This is part of a 3 part series on why the past is better- in some ways. To be fair, it will be followed up by a 3 part series on why the present is better- just to keep it equally confusing for all. That's democracy.


I attended a funeral today for a lovely lady who passed away in her eighties who had been married to the love of her life for over 60 years. They had been together even longer; her beloved husband stated to me at the wake that his only regret was not having proposed sooner to his lady love. The priest at the Church stated that this was the kind of marriage we could barely imagine given the times these days and he was absolutely right. While we still joke about the old ball and chain today, most marriages are starting to look more like cell phone contracts, full of features, defects and limited terms.

The famous 7 year itch has now been reduced by experts to 3 years and some countries have introduced 'trial' marriages, where a couple is wed for 2 years and is then allowed to separate without the inconvenience of a divorce (the union type is only recognized for 2-3 years, or in terms set out by the individuals- convenient.) 1 in 5 relationships start online, as do 1 in 5 affairs (ahem- figures are so similar, could there possibly be a correlation?) Official divorce rates are holding steady at 1 in 4, but none of us would be surprised to see that number jump right up.

Coincidentally, as more marriages fall apart, the wedding industry continues to rake it in, becoming a billion dollar juggernaut. Could it be that people are taking weddings more seriously than the institution of marriage? That, instead of going to couples counselling to figure out how they'll deal with family and money, instead of taking marriage courses like those offered for free by most churches, could it be that couples are spending more time picking out linens and colour coordinating napkins to silverware than actually considering how their future will be?

It strikes me as no surprise that the long-lasting couples from yesteryear are the ones who didn't have extravagant parties or huge gowns to celebrate their union. They were grounded, more often than not, having a ceremony in someone's basement and having friends bring over food. Part of it was a sign of the times; they simply couldn't afford an over the top party, but there was also no expectation that the simple fact of committing themselves to each other should turn into a pageant.

Let's face it; pageants are distracting. They steal attention away from the more important matters, like what the couple expects for their future, how they plan to overcome adversity, what would happen if there was a crisis, what their values are and how they align. A wedding lasts a day, but a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime and no amount of balloons or bonbons is going to make up for a couple who doesn't talk things through beforehand.

All you really need for a wedding to happen is two people in love, an officiant or religious leader, a piece of paper and a witness. It's not more complicated than that. A wedding can be a great occasion to celebrate with friends and family, but it's far from the most important thing.

This is not to rain on the wedding parade. People are entitled to have the kind of day they've always dreamed about and there's no problem with mixing a little fantasy in there or even a bit of extravagance. But people should consider that when they get engaged, the most important thing to remember is that it's an honour to be asked to share a person's life with them and they should do it because they can't imagine their future without them, not because it's the right time in life or because the ring is huge. And when it's time to plan a wedding, they should keep in mind that a wedding only requires love and consent, not the 3 ring triple tiered circus it has become.

In the past, marriage is forever and weddings are simple. I hope a handful of people in the world get to have that kind of love.

The post is dedicated to Lois and Bill Boucher, two halves of a whole, married for 61 years and only separated by her death.