Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Say it Aint So George

The world's most famous playboy bachelor is getting married. Yes, the 'M' word. George Clooney, the best single person on the planet by universal consensus, will soon be off the market and what are we single losers going to do now?

It used to be that when people pestered me about my single status, I could say that I was single and awesome like Clooney. How could anyone argue with that? The Carey Grant man's man, whimsical, handsome, well-dressed, polished, hilarious, handsome movie star who makes salt and pepper look as delicious as they do on the dinner table at a 4-star restaurant? Clooney, the one who inspires us to be cool, have lots of guy friends, play pranks on them, invite them over for basketball games when their wives give them permission, and pick up cocktail waitresses in Vegas- BECAUSE HE CAN.

When judgemental family members and smug married people told us that we were 'missing out' or that there must be something socially dysfunctional about us, we could look back at them and say 'Clooney', as if the name was a passport to some utopic secret night club where everything shines champagne bubbles.

But now, we've gone back to being basement nerds and crazy cat aunts. Now, we can all aspire to be like Kuthra- you know, the Indian guy on Big Bang Theory, the lonely, slightly alcoholic metrosexual astrophysicist with a dog small enough to fit in his man purse.

A Google search reveals that the second most eligible bachelor right now is Prince Harry, who is often used to being in line for something. Even HE might be getting hitched soon, leaving us all with a loveable minority character or Captain Sweatpants for help.

Thanks a lot for nothing, George. You were our last hope, a way to redeem ourselves, if not to others, at least to ourselves.

Now I can say 'I'm single and awesome like Prince Harry, heir to the heir to the throne of England.'

Or, 'I'm single and awesome like Prince Harry, you know, Will's brother.'

Which is still better than saying I'm a leftover, like the Chinese government is currently telling its young women. You have to give China high points for clarity. Subtle social pressure was not getting the job done well enough, so instead of espousing values or gently prodding peoples' most vulnerable feelings with tear-inducing Hallmark ads, they've gone right for the throat and become the collective tiger mom of their female population.

I might have just found my new tagline: 'I'm single and awesome and I will stay this way just to piss off the Chinese. Because I love leftovers.'

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I've entered that phase of my adult life where I begin to view economics the way that my dad did. I call it dad-conomics. It's that point of your life where you stop thinking about what things cost today and focus more on what they used to cost; you know, the whole bit about how you used to be able to fill your car trunk with groceries for $17 and a movie was $2.50 'back in my day.' The standard of living changes, wages change, economies change, but no matter what, you're stuck in this strange prism of the way things were, rather than the way things are.

It's partly because money just doesn't make any sense anymore. How is it that salaries seem so large in comparison with our grandparents, yet we can't afford two cars and a two-storey house? Grandpa and grandma were pretty resilient and they didn't know what a latte was, but they could at least afford a 'decent' roof over their heads. But now that same house and two cars cost a million dollars, and how in the world did we come up with that?

The 'standards' have apparently changed. Everyone now wants a move-in ready, pre-fab home with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Hold on, now, who set these standards? Oh right, a bunch of rich people and marketing companies and our style overlords over at HGTV. The Kardashians. The people who sell high end paint. Social media. Construction companies.

There was a time when people used to build homes to last and they actually looked different from all the other homes in the neighbourhood. There was a time when people moved into their homes and slowly painted, renovated, added furniture piece by piece and upgraded over the course of their lives. But now everything has to be the same and immediately available and to standard, the end product being overpriced, bland and conformist. Hardly a home that you want to be proud of and grow in and spend the next 25 years of your life paying off.

But this is what income inequality ultimately looks like. The 1% of the population sets the impossible standards, the wage slaves try to keep up. The costs of homes is driven up, the desire for profits for the top tier increase and all of a sudden, a home of one's own becomes an impossible dream without two solid salaries (and maybe some help from the parents).

And never mind just the home; there needs to be coordinated furniture, accents, flat screen tvs and who doesn't have HD or high speed internet? Drip coffee? Puh-lease. Not when gorgeous actresses purr at you in commercials over cups of Italian espresso made from steamy machines.

Part of the problem, clearly, are our appetites, which is being manipulated by all streams of our media. Most reality shows or competitions are basically advertisements, heavily endorsed by the companies that manufacture food, music, home or beauty products- setting our standards and whetting our appetites for the things that they want us to buy. The endless cycle of consumerism is hard to break when everyone is selling you the best version of something.

But trying to keep up is taking our attention away from two important things: (1) we're falling desperately behind and (2) it shouldn't be this hard.

If we keep getting distracted by shiny objects dangling in front of us, we're never breaking out of the cycle. There is no good reason for highly educated, hard working professionals, often dual income households, to be struggling financially. You can blame the lattes, but what is that when compared to the staggering student debts most people rack up when trying to become professionals in the first place? What is that compared to the half a million dollar family home?

Whenever I look at house prices, it's like playing Monopoly. The dollar amounts don't even seem real. Park Place is great if you buy it the first time around the board, but it really sucks when you land on it and a few houses have been built. Is it just me, or does the entire real estate market look like a big, confusing, long game of Monopoly when you just want to go to bed because you've been playing for 6 hours with your siblings and nobody's winning???

No wonder dad used to frown so much.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Sources of news and information on the internet always want to provide you with a more tailored, personal experience. But wouldn't it be great if we could find a way to seriously edit the information that we see? To not be constantly exposed to content that bores or offends us?

I'm not saying that information restriction is the way to go. I'm saying that the power of deciding what we WANT to see should be ours. Everytime I look at a site like Yahoo, I always think to myself, sure, it's great that they want to give me diverse information, but it's not exactly organized the way that I would like it to be. The tendency to include celebrity news on par with what I would consider 'news' news often leaves me feeling frustrated. And since we live in a politically correct sphere where everything is tailored to things that we 'like', there are frustratingly few options to filter out the things that we hate.

I would love to one day see a function where I could list the things that I can't stand and have that work as the filter on the information that I see. You know what, Yahoo? I don't give a shit about Kimye's Wedding. I don't want to see a celebrity's new haircut. That study that says that running is bad for you and will kill you prematurely showing up the day before the running is good for you and will help you live forever posting is just plain confusing.

I want to put my preferences in: Please show me studies that prove that running is excellent, chocolate, coffee and wine are all good for your heart and shopping is the key to happiness. Stop raining on my parade, information website! And stop updating me on celebrities that I couldn't care less about- unless, perchance, there's one that has had a particularly awful day.

Can't you just imagine it? Putting in your settings and never having to see another Rob Ford article? Bieber- who's this Bieber you speak of? And did you know that a group of researchers in Illinois have discovered that bacon is actually good for you in moderation? How about that?

Think of the happier, more streamlined existence that you would have then. Think of how much less garbage and mind junk that would filter through your head at night. You probably could have lived without seeing someone's red carpet minidress. You probably could have done without that video of a cat who rolls toilet paper. I want to see more of what I like, but I also want to experience a lot less of what I hate.

What I wouldn't do for an edit feature of that type.