Thursday, January 31, 2013

Open the Card First

Hypothetical situation: my kid is going to a birthday party, and I have to buy a fetching card to go with the gift.  Why?  Because I know that when the birthday boy starts opening his presents, his mom is going to say, “Open the card first” and if I don’t include a card, the kid and his mom are not going to know who it came from even if there is a tag on the gift bag.  So, I’ll have to holler at the top of my lungs (if you’re wondering why I have to yell then you clearly have not gone to enough kids’ birthday parties – it’s the same reason why they don’t notice the tag on the bag).  And let them all know that present’s from my kid.  It’s like you’re in the emergency room and you’ve been waiting forever, so when they finally call for you, you jump to your feet like a trapeze artist even though you’ve broken your ankle on one side and your femur on the other side. 

Call me The Birthday Grinch if you like, but I have a hard time buying cards for children’s parties.  Why?  Well, it’s partly because 90% of the time, I have never even heard of this kid until my kid gets an invitation to his party.  And it’s partly because I know that the kid doesn’t give a rip about the quirky line ‘I wish you a hoppy birthday’ or even the cuter-than-cute frog on the front.  Actually, he’s young enough that he probably doesn’t even care who brought him the present.  He just wants to disembowel it (I just always wanted to say that). 

There’s another reason too, and this is what really makes me The Birthday Grinch.  My brain has always had accounting software installed in it and I can’t look at any transaction of assets without deciding whether or not the transaction was good for me, good for them, good for both of us, or a loss for both of us.  So, that means that I’m placing the cost of having my kid at their party versus how much I spent on a gift.  Personally, I think it should work out that the gift I brought should be worth more than what they spent on my kid at the party.  But I also work on a budget and if someone spends a ridiculous amount of their kid’s party then that’s their business.  What I don’t like is that I have to trim what I spend on the birthday boy’s present to allow for a card – which no one even cares about.

But then, you should see me hosting my kid’s party and watch me hover over my kid when it’s time to open the presents.  “Open the card first!”  WHAT!?!  I’ve got to do something to teach my kid to stall their greed and show appreciation.  Stupid world. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Babies Don't Take Showers

Now, you’d think that the subject of baby showers would be as pure as the babies themselves.  I like party planning and baby showers are one of my favourite events to plan.  What’s not to love?  It’s a party to celebrate the birth of a baby – how adorable.  Here’s what I think needs to be done for a fabulous, frugal, event.

If you can, paper invitations are the classy way to go.  I know with the advent of technology, facebook seems like an obvious solution, but I find invitations can get lost in someone’s inbox along with all the game requests and additional crap that is shoved on us each day.  I recommend supplementing the written invitation with a personal invitation that is sent to someone’s private message box.  That way, it comes across as a deliberate invite instead of a random wheel of fortune spin down your friend list. 

Also, send it a week to two weeks before the party.  Give the guest a chance to get a gift and mark it on their calendar without having the event so far in the future that it gets forgotten.  And tack on an RSVP.  That helps.

Party Games
Personally, I don’t need these.  Some people despise baby showers because of them.  And who can blame them?  Sometimes you have to identify a mashed up chocolate bar in a diaper.  There may be tasteful party games, but I’d rather not chance it.  I would like my guests to be as comfortable as possible and visiting amongst themselves is half the reason for coming.  Besides, I don’t have to be a performing monkey and I get to put the money spent on prizes into the food budget instead.  Ha ha!

Have a couple sweet things, a couple salty things, a punch and a jug of water and BOOM!

Party Favours
I like doing these.  I think it saves the mom from having to hunt everyone down after the party to give them thank-you cards.  Aren’t we trying to help her out?  So, as people leave, have a little basket of lovelies for the guests to choose from with a little thank-you note attached.  Appreciation has been shown and the new mom is off the hook. 

The Budget
When you do the invitations, they should cost nothing to less than nothing.  Seriously apply your mind to solving this problem.  They should be memorable and free.  Be resourceful.  If you serve six dishes at the party, three of them should be made from things you have in your kitchen anyway.  The other three can be purchased.  How you mix it up is up to you.  The party favours should not cost more than $1.50 per guest.  It negates the purpose of the having the guests bring gifts if the favours cost more than that (and I think $1.50 is generous).

Happy Baby Day! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Since it's a Robot

One of my hobbies is watching movie trailers.  That way I don’t need to see the movie, because oops!  Ninety percent of the time they spoil the movie in the two minute and thirty second teaser. 

The other day I saw the trailer for Pacific Rim and I have to say I was sort of surprised.  I used to watch a great deal of anime, so mecha anime has been one of my past times.  Granted, I haven’t really kept up on my anime fetish due to my increasingly limited amount of time that I can devote to that sort of thing … and these days I’d rather watch a Korean drama … But that is entirely beside the point.  Just because I haven’t seen anything lately doesn’t mean that I’m not familiar with the greatest mecha anime of all time – Evangelion.

And when I think of monsters coming up from a dimensional portal in the Pacific Ocean to kill us all and a whole slew of guys in suits moving their legs to get the legs of the mech to move … I think, “Couldn’t they get the rights to Evangelion?  And if they couldn’t get the rights to Evangelion, then why did they even bother?”

Am I wrong in my outrage that action movies these days focus so hard on special effects that they sort of overlook another important element of storytelling – a plot?  Personally, I blame Alfred Hitchcock and Daphne du Maurier.  Why them?  Because of The Birds that’s why.  In The Birds (1963), the main idea of the plot is to get a mama’s boy’s mother to accept another woman in her son’s life.  I know – you thought it was about birds.  Yes, in the midst of this – there are insane birds that kill people.  Then, we can blame Jaws while we’re at it.  I know, you thought Jaws was about a killer shark.  No, it’s about a guy who’s scared of water who learns not to be after he kills a man-eating great white shark.  Well, even though I have a place in my heart for both those films (they’re classics), I prefer something with a little more thought put into it. 

I remember watching a review for V for Vendetta where they talked about how it was an action film and yet it was not (p.s. that movie had the best ally scenario I have ever seen).  The point is I don’t need to have every moment of a film be jam-packed with action scene after action scene.  You can have car chases, mafia hits, skydiving, and robots as big as the Empire State Building without compromising plot.  Evangelion proves that.

Well, you don’t have to take my word for it.  Surely, the Rotten Tomato score will speak for itself when Pacific Rim scores somewhere between a five and a six.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Good Guide to Vomiting

I’m giving you all fair warning now.  This is a serious guide to vomiting.  Thus it may not be acceptable reading material for some of you … make that most of you.  But I have to voice my knowledge somewhere and there are very few things that I know as much about as vomiting. 

So, the first thing you’ve got to know about vomiting is where to throw up.  Do not throw up in the toilet.  If you do, you’re likely to get toilet water splashed in your face.  That’s all you need after you throw up – toilet water on your face – charming.  Also, do not throw up in a sink unless you are positive that you will only be throwing up liquid.  Otherwise, you’ll have to clean the sink yourself or you’ll clog the drain.  Throw up in a bucket and then empty it out into the toilet.  Seriously, it’s the only way to fly.

The second thing you need to know is how to hold your head.  If you’re in a lot of gut-wrenching pain, it may be your instinct to curl yourself into a ball and bend your head over.  This is a mistake.  If you’re hurling really violently – you’re going to aim up your nose instead of out your mouth.  And though vomit tastes revolting, it’s worse to have to clean out your nasal cavities afterwards.  Keep your head up like you’re a princess.

The third thing you need to know is how to protect your teeth so that you don’t break them or damage them with all that stomach acid.  Do not brush your teeth.  You may want to, but if you do you will be actively shoving acid in the spaces between your teeth and your gums.  The best thing you can do for yourself is just to rinse your mouth out with water. 

The last thing you have to know for the after-party is to take a healthy drink of water.  It’s very dangerous to get dehydrated.  You could end up in the hospital with an IV in your arm if you can’t keep down liquids, but you should at least try.  Also, water is the first thing to enter into your small intestines from your stomach since it doesn’t need digesting, so there’s a good chance some of it will get into your system before you throw up again.  If the stomach acid is really brutal, take a couple Tums.  If you throw them up, you can always take more … Tee hee.

And lastly, the worst thing in the world to throw up is oranges.  And the second worst thing is tomato sauce, so try to avoid those foods if you think you might have a problem.  The best thing to throw up is a milkshake.  The next best is Jell-o.  That’s why hospitals serve it.  So don’t diss it. 

Happy hurling.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Did You Get Paid?

For a struggling artist, this is probably the most insulting question a person can ask, and yet, everybody does it.  Even other artists do it … at least they are calling themselves artists.  Personally, I think that a fellow artist would understand that a monetary pay cheque is just one of the many rewards available to an artist.

Sometimes I contribute to someone else’s work and after that novel gets published, I confess that it was a project I worked on and then I get asked, “Did you get paid?”  Did I get paid?  A pay cheque?  No.  Do I care?  I’m annoyed that anyone thinks I should care.  I believe helping someone with their project is like this:

Your friend phones you up and says that her house is being shown to a prospective buyer and she only has four hours to pretty the whole place up.  Obviously, she needs help, so you head over and give her a hand.  Later, when the house sells does anyone ask you if you made any money off the sale?  Such an idea is unthinkable.  What?  Do they think you deserve a percentage of the profit?  Sweeping the floor should entitle you to five percent.  Don’t you think?  Ridiculous!

If I’m a writer for the money, then I’m in the wrong field.  Psychological romances (my genre of choice) rarely make any money.  These days it’s all about erotica.  All the same, if I wanted money, I could probably make a lot more of it working an ordinary day job.  Here’s a list some of the rewards that come from being a novelist that have nothing to do with money.

1.      The joy of creation.  Making something is fun.  It’s fun to make cupcakes.  Does anyone ever ask me if I got paid for making cupcakes? 
2.      Exercising your brain.  I love getting a good cerebral workout.  Don’t you? 
3.      Reviews from fans.  You only get this if you are willing to put up your writing for free.  I’ve done that for many years because I’m of the belief that if no one is willing to read your writing when it’s free then they are certainly not going to pay for it.  I’ve really enjoyed this.  I’ve had forums with hundreds of posts from readers requesting to know more about my story because they couldn’t wait for my Thursday update.
4.      Exchanging ideas.  That’s why occasionally I help people with their work.  It’s just exciting to see what other people are doing at a point when your input could improve a story.  Not that you want to change it in a big way.  If you want to change everything about a novel, then it’s probably not a project you should be working on.

So, don’t ask, ‘Did you get paid?’  The backlash may make you wish you had bitten your tongue instead.