The Farewell

Jim&Pam_2

Leave it to me to get all sappy about the ending of a TV show…  As you may or may not know, this was the last season for NBC’s The Office.  Eight and something-something seasons later, the show’s finale aired last night.  It didn’t disappoint.

Seinfeld is the last significant television finale still etched in my memory.  Nearly everyone I ever know who watched Seinfeld felt the same annoyance I felt towards its final episode.  How could such an epic Thursday night tradition have ended so poorly?  It still turns my stomach to think about it.

Conversely, The Office couldn’t have ended better.  It left me smiling, laughing, saddened, but most importantly, it resolved the story(and unlike Seinfeld, didn’t leave you wondering if the show you’d watched for so-long might have only been half as good as you remember).  I was one of those few people who followed the show from season one.  Over the last week, I’ve been asking my peers, mostly co-workers, if they happen to watch The Office.  Once again, I’m one of the few.  So nine seasons later, what’s changed?   Now at least everyone knows of or about the show, even if they don’t watch it.

Back in spring 2005, the concept of The Office was new and novel.  It immediately peaked my interest with its documentary feel and character camera interviews (like soliloquies or confessions caught on tape).  And it was about work, and those were the days when I actually felt passion and worth just going to work.

The Office made a second season, and its fandom at my own workplace grew (likely because I was avidly promoting it).  Using my VCR, I would faithfully record the show on Thursdays, and during Fridays’ lunch break, my co-workers and I would bust-a-gut laughing out loud while watching the recording.  Like Miami Vice (Friday nights of my youth), Saturday Night Live (Saturday nights of my youth), and Simpsons (I can’t recall what night of my youth), watching The Office with a group of people makes the experience that much better.  Maybe like in a theatre or cinema, viewers feed off of each other’s emotions and reactions.

TheOfficeUKI’ve watched and appreciate the BBC’s The Office, but not nearly as much as States-side recreation.  Looking at each adaptation of The Office TV show, they differ so much as to practically exist on different planets (not just continents).  The intro scene into the BBC version seems sad, nearly dismal if not depressing, and the intro cinematography makes the show almost look more industrial than about an office.  But credit indeed goes to Ricky Gervais for creating the concept and for getting the whole idea rolling.

So what made The Office different from other television sitcoms?  It was the characters and the setting.  The personalities on the show were both believable and yet over-the-top funny.  So often, the show’s characters could seem so real, down-to-earth, and relatable, while other times you knew the story writers were taking you on some wild goose chase.  And their stories played out in an office space where just about anyone might relate.  Other times, the first person filming of scenes left the viewer actually feeling like part of the cast.Quad_Desk

What will I miss most about The Office?

I’ll miss the emotion that Michael Scott could awake in me–at times I just couldn’t help but root for him because he was the ultimate underdog.  Other times, he would leave me cringing or bubble up with anger.

The cast, while looking more like average folks, rather than Hollywood supermodels, had the ability to capture the viewer’s attention (and often their heart).  At different points in the story, substance rather than superficial made me appreciate each personality for who they were (or developed into).

Watching The Office often ended up being therapeutic… helping me appreciate the quirky nature of working with others, and to realize that the craziest day at my work seldom matched the madness portrayed on the TV show.

A few of my favorite scenes from The Office:

Megadesk
Quad Desk
Booze Cruise
Lip Dub Intro
Princess Unicorn
Finer Things Club
Dwight’s Concussion
Jim playing Call of Duty
Holly doing Yoda Impression
Michael Scott Paper Company
Death Bus (actually called Work Bus)
Michael Scott’s wearing a Woman’s Suit
Creed coloring his hair black to look younger
Identity Theft — When Jim steels Dwight’s look.
Holly, the new HR person, thinks Kevin is retarded
Andy sings to Angela with backing from the friends on phones
Dropping a water melon from  atop of the building onto the trampoline
Dwight reading the speech Jim wrote for him at the Paper Sales Conference

(and too many more to list)

So after spending nine years tagging along, thanks  for the smiles, stories, and laughs!

Do you have a favorite scene or storyline you related to in The Office?  Leave me a comment 🙂

Being naivE

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Many years ago, when I worked in Parks and Rec, the bottled water craze had newly infiltrated society.  Some coworkers of mine bought into the belief that the tap water they’d been drinking for years was now unhealthy compared to the new bottled water alternatives.  My water-drinking associates even preferred certain brands of bottled water over others because, apparently, certain companies made better tasting water.  Not than anyone here on earth really makes water; It’s more an art involving filtration. To me, it all just tasted like water.

I also think holding bottled water made people feel attractive.  If you compaired a mental snapshot of me drinking water from a tumbler (freshly poured from the tap) to any of my coworkers drinking from one of their branded bottles, 9 times out of 10 times their drinking definitely looked cooler and sexier.  Mind you, most of them were young women, fit life guards, and looked both cooler and sexier than me doing almost anything.

Bottled water also became, dare I say, fashionable?!  A person might stroll into a room, OR that same person might stroll into a room with a bottled water in hand.  Did the person with the bottle look thirsty?  No, not really.  Did they look prepared?  I suppose, but not boy scout overly prepared.   That bottled water portrayed the drinker as enlightened, and made statement that tap water and drinking fountains were unfit for their lips (which reminds me of a movie… but read on).naive

As you may have guessed, bottled water was never important to me.  Sadly for both the world and I, neither was fashion.  At some point, someone brought it to my attention that evian spelled in reverse was naive.  This pretty much solidified in my mind that I would never become a bottled water toting person.  It seemed very naive indeed.

dutch_parking

Being naive was something I hoped not to be. Try as I might, I couldn’t avoid it forever.  In 2000. I moved into a four-plex rental in Edmonton.  The buildings were converted military barracks and had huge backyards without fences.  At the end of the backyard was the community gravel pad for parking, and at the end of my designated parking was this sign that read DUTCH PARKING ONLY.

I’d never heard of the “dutch parking” term .  Did it refer to a method of parking like angle parking?  Maybe it was like going dutch on a date?  I noticed some of the neighbors parked bumper to bumper, two cars deep.  Was that the elusive dutch parking method?  This was Edmonton after all, and I was the new guy.  Maybe along with Edmonton’s crazy traffic circles, dutch parking might have been a unique regional term.

When the property manager stopped by to have me sign some paperwork, I asked her about dutch parking.  She looked confused.  I pointed at the sign and wondered out loud what it meant.  She rolled her eyes and said, “It would be removed if it bothered me that much.”  The light finally went on in my head; it was ethnic humor placed by the previous tenant.  Now I was the one rolling my eyes, but at myself.

While writing about bottled water and being naive, drinking fountains came to mind.  I can actually remember the few drinking fountains in my life that provided reasonable satisfaction.  As a thirsty kid, nothing was more annoying than a drinking fountain that lacked water pressure.  Nobody wanted to suck the water from a public fountain. blah!  I’d rather have kissed a girl.  Later in life, I still rather kiss a gal.

The most memorable drinking fountain movie scene from my youth had to be in Michael J. Fox’s Secret of My Success movie (1987).

I can’t help but smirk at the sappy David Foster tune playing in the background, or how Helen Slater’s hair style looks eerily like Princess Diana, but that was the 80s.  Had the movie been shot two or three years later, I doubt she would have been sipping from the drinking fountain.  I’m guessing it would have been from a plastic bottled water.

I Can’t Really Take the Credit…

awarded

Today, I was recognized. I didn’t even stop to bask in my momentary success and recognition. My mind was immediately fixed upon writing an appropriate un-awkward reply (thanks for the thanks?  I think it ended up awkward).  Pondering it all, it occurs to me that I didn’t even tell my wife (sorry my love… it slipped my mind… and you weren’t home for supper. Next time I’ll send an email right away, hopefully, maybe? Who am I kidding?).

So tonight I was articulating ideas that I’ve been itching to type. Initially it didn’t even occur that I should Press my momentary success from today. My natural tendency is to shrug off the glory, but even the smallest victories should be celebrated (if only for a few brief sentences). So in the spirit of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 “…a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” this is my moment to shine (but really to reflect more than shine).

Here’s the note with my own [amendments] to protect the innocent.

recognized

Perhaps the most satisfying part of getting recognized by this particular fellow was knowing that he had driven an outsourcing of my job (and others like mine) only two years before. Just like life, things change, companies change, and leaders’ minds do too.  So for me, despite a couple years of mourning, tearing down, and weeping (really more disappointment than all-out weeping), and swapping relative certainty for the unfamiliar, today I feel a wee bit built up, with reasons to laugh, and even reason to dance a little jig (if only to myself, and with a few friends reading along–thanks for being here too).

All this to say, I can’t really take any credit. It’s all about shining and reflection. I might show up to work each day, but it’s Christ in me that brings out the best in me. If there’s goodness to be found in me, it’s not me, but rather a reflection of Him. And if I’m honest with myself, anything I do above and beyond the call of duty, I do for my Love of Him.  In my weakness, He remains strong.  So today, I really owe my thanks to Christ working in me, and how He makes me look good.  Thanks be to Him!

Slaves [and IT guys too], obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ~ Colossians 3:22-24 NIV

And it just occurs to me… at the end of my acceptance spiel, just like every other major celebrity at an award show, I end this off by offering thanks to God.  Go figure.  That wasn’t planned.  Really.

Being Big In Japan

The other night, I happened upon this clip of Swing Out Sister (SOS) on YouTube.  It dates back to 96 or 97, back when SOS had definitely declined from most North American limelight.  I’ve been a longtime fan of SOS since my first listen in the late 80s (you might remember Breakout and Twilight World); their British sophisti-pop style appealed to my overgrown eclectic appetite for diverse music.

In the clip Andy and Corinne are being interviewed on the Japanese TV show,Music Station, which has been around since 1986 (or so Wikipedia tells me).  Many popular music artists have also been on the show, including… Green Day, Deborah Gibson, Tiffany, Kiss, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Boyz II Men, Lenny Kravitz, Charlotte Church, Alanis Morissette, Enya, Destiny’s Child, Shakira, Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff, The Offspring, Backstreet Boys, Stevie Wonder, James Blunt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fergie, Sarah Brightman, U2, Kanye West, Maroon 5, Flo Rida, Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, Oasis, Christina Aguilera, Norah Jones, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Carly Rae Jepsen, and many other artists (ones I didn’t know by name).  The show equates to the British Top of the Pops in how it features popular media and rising music stars.

To me, the Youtube clip captures a moderately awkward interview…

My observations:
What kind of host wears sunglasses while conducting an interview?  I love the co-host’s pink pop filter on her microphone–it seems kinda 80s, but in the 90s.  With the translator on the left, there’s a lot communication going on during the interview, but if you listen clearly, you can hear it’s their first time in Japan (Corinne nods).   When the host asks about where they’d been already, Corinne indicates a reference to some record store.  In there place, I would too, mostly because I wouldn’t have a clue how to pronounce anything else.  “I want to buy some workmen’s trousers.”  I didn’t quite get what Corinne was saying about the workmen’s trousers so I had to look them up…worker_trousers

So here’s the stylish Japanese work wear… It looks pretty snazzy when you compare it with the gear at Mark’s Work Warehouse.  I’m not sure how safe those flair bottoms would be, but hey, it’s fashionable.tabi

And these are the funky shoes that Corinne indicates with her bare stocking.  Speaking of shoes, I wonder what happened to her shoes.  Maybe the airline lost her luggage. Who knows?!  And is it just me, or do the groupies sitting behind SOS look like they might be on loan from the Power Rangers?  I love their facial expressions too.  Some of them evidently very board with the whole interview (insert imaginary mother’s voice saying, “And remember, while on TV, don’t fidget! And for heaven’s sake don’t lift your dress.”).

Outside of the expected musical giants, like U2, Madonna, or Michael Jackson, a couple other artists I enjoy also went big in Japan, specifically Sara Bareilles and Cathy Dennis.  Japanese culture is very different from Canada, and it makes me curious about the things that end up big in popular culture over there.  It seems appropriate to wind up my ramblings today with this little tune…

Some dads have way too much time on their hands…

I enjoy documentaries, especially popular music documentaries about bands and behind the scenes.  VH1’s Pop Up Video used to be my favorite show on Much Music, though I haven’t seen it in years.  I also haven’t watched Much Music or Much More Music in years.  The other night I caught a 2006 series of documentaries covering the career of Depeche Mode (DM).
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At this point, while writing , I have to ask any friends who are turning up there noses to please bear with me, despite their initial shock.  In my mind, I imagine them saying, “I had no idea he’d listen to those guys.” and I imagine others going on about how “Electronic music sucks!”  The truth is, that my taste in music was and remains eclectic ranging from classical to metal (and nearly everywhere between).  I’m certainly not DM’s biggest fan, but did and do enjoy their music in limited doses.
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While I was growing up, I think DM was especially interesting to me because the band were pioneers in MIDI and musical sampling.  Most people I knew didn’t listen to DM for any lyrical genius, but rather for how the band fused pop music with emerging technology, and without being too far out there (wherever there was).

So after viewing the DM documentary, I stumbled upon this DMK video on youtube.

Clearly, some dads have way too much time on their hands… or maybe this Bolivian dad is a stay at home dad with his wife working during the day.  How do I know there’s a woman in the picture?  That little girls hair certainly wasn’t done by any dad I know.  Whatever the case, this cover kind of Everything Counts cracked me up.  I shared it with my wife and son, both of whom watched in amazement.  My wife didn’t recall the original song, even after I played the DM version of it.  My son thought it was interesting (not to be confused with cool, though).  Who knows… had I been more musical and had more time on my hands (and a pile of makeshift studio equipment), maybe me and my kids would be doing cover tunes.

I finish off today’s muse with the original, Everything Counts by a much younger Depeche Mode… (for all you who don’t remember either)

Thoughts on 40…

…not to be confused with turning 40!

I stumbled upon an article on the site Digital Spy where a poll conducted by LA Fitness asked 2,000 people for their 2013 objectives.  Here’s the top 40 list from the poll, many of which certainly did end up on people’s lists of New Year Resolutions (and my thoughts trailing afterwards).

40

1. Read more books (I’m confused… texting, youtube, and social media has all but eroded everyone’s attention spans.  Why would we want to read more books?  Maybe we subconsciously want our attention spans back?  Wait?!  What was I writing about again?  Dang!)
2. Save more money (Sure, I’d like to save more of my money.  How ’bout finding extra money?  Or armed robbery?)
3. Lose weight (Just like money; think more dollar bills and less change.)
4. Redecorate (… your walls with cereal boxes.  That’ll save more money.)
5. Take better photos (… by using real cameras again.  Or by stop using InstaGram.)
6. Go traveling (… which seems counter to saving more money… unless using a bicycle.)
7. Sell old unwanted stuff on eBay (Agreed.  eBay is cool, but Kijiji is cooler–you actually meet freakish people, when you’re not getting stood up by them!  Jerks!)
8. Buy a tablet (… from the paper isle at Staples.  Kickin’ it old-school!)
9. Organize photos (Start by not taking pictures on every mobile device you own?  Just saying.)
10. Do something for charity (Start by buying the person behind you in line a coffee.  I’m the guy with the plaid shirt.)
11. Spend more time with kids (Can’t quite understand it.  My kids would rather not. Perhaps 2013 wasn’t the year to stop buying deodorant.)
12. Buy a Sunday paper  (Really, with the same money we’re trying to save?  The TV guides online now! And we still have no attention span.)
13. Less TV time (Agreed.  Cut the cable.  Watch more shows online.)
14. Connect my computer to my TV (Sure, right after I buy a new TV in 2014 with all the money I saved in 2013.)
15. Leave work on time more often (Great idea! But I’d rather start by just getting to work on time more often.  Unless we’re trying for a shorter workday?!  Duly noted.)
16. Less time on Facebook (Excellent!  Please help me find more annoying friends to further repulse me from using it.)
17. Totally revamp my wardrobe (Plaid?  Plaid forever!  The rest of you are nuts.)
18. Try a new hairstyle (Sure.  But first I’ll have to transplant some from the lower regions.)
19. Get a six-pack (Okay, But beers not really my thang.)
20. Eat less chocolate (What?  Who are these freaking people!)
21. Socialise more in real life rather than Facebook (Yes.  It’s called a telephone young people. You talk with it.)
22. Drink less alcohol (Agreed. Even better, drink someone else’s alcohol).

starbucks_barrista
23. Buy less coffee from Starbucks (Sure.  That’ll last a week.  When was the last time you tried office coffee? So how do you steal Starbucks coffee anyways?)
24. Start my own business (By now I think we’ve determined I’m trying to save money, and my attention span is limited at best.  Let’s wait til 2014 for this one.)
25. Tell someone I have feelings for them (I’d love to tell my boss about my feelings, but suppressing them helps keep me employed.)
26. Quit smoking (Yes.  Setting things on fire is bad!  I think we covered that in 2012.)
27. Gain a promotion (Again.  That’s why we keep our real feelings to ourselves, right?!)
28. Learn how to use Twitter (Sure. So I can miss use the hash key and further erode my attention span).
29. Run a half or full marathon (Who are these people?!  Ah, right… silly LA Fitness poll.)
30. Call people more than text (That depends… how about good news by phone, and bad news by text?  Seems like a reasonable compromise.)
31. Cut someone out of my life who isn’t good for me (Hey, why are you looking at me that way?!)
32. Meet online contacts in real life (I’m not sure I want any more scary real life people in life, unless you’re buying me coffee in the Starbucks line.)
33. Watch less reality TV (And more YouTube instead?  I don’t think this is helping any of us.)
34. Text people less (Less bad news is a good thing… see my point at number 30.)
35. Try to save relationship (Does that involve you saying, “I think we should just be friends?”  No.  Say it isn’t so!)
36. Try extreme sports (Only if I get a cool free Redbull outfit, a TV special, and a good looking nurse.)
37. Get better at social networking (How about we try complete sentences with capitals and punctuation?)
38. Stop contacting/going back to an ex-partner (That depends.  How much money money did she have?)
39. Have a face-to-face with my boss to find out where I stand (This was covered under the previous “feelings” discussions.)
40. Do a bungee jump (Only as the guest of Reality TV–please come back ABC’s The Mole *sniffle, sniffle*)

2013. Tuesday’s Grey and Wednesday Too.

Friday, I’m in Love

On the opening weekend, my family and I went to see the Hobbit.  My kids loved it.  My wife thought it was a bit too violent.  My nine-year-old son delighted in the fact he’d just been to a 14A movie (and that “he was only  age nine!”).  Yep, in his mind, he’d pulled a fast one on his dear old dad.  I had to laugh thinking back to seeing The Lord of The Rings at some midnight showing with friends and co-workers, long, long before my son had even been conceived.

It was in the moment, that I realized I’d been to see the movie with my friend Chadd; the same fellow who departed earth for heaven this last year.  That brought a moment of sadness.  How could so much had happened between then and now?  It made me wonder if there’s film showings in heaven.  It would seem a shame to see the other three films and then to miss the Hobbit.  Or is the business of heaven, what I imagine as pure fun, simply too distracting?  For a few seconds it was mind boggling.  But life waits for no one and time marches onward.

New Year’s Eve always seems anticlimactic for me.  Maybe it’s because past New Year’s Days seemed blue to me.  Or in the lyrics of The Cure, this year “Tuesday’s Grey and Wednesday Too!”  Yep.  I imagine Wednesday, my first day back to work  (real work that is), will seem a bit grey.  *sigh*

Welcome 2013!  I know that not all the days will be blue or grey.  Some days will definitely feel like Friday, and being in love.

2012, I’ll always be thankful for a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones.  And to my friend who departed this mortal life too soon, thanks for helping me remember just how precious each person and friendship can be.  And for every crumby thing that happened in 2012, thanks be it that I can leave you in the dust with reassurance that “This too shall pass.”

So in 2013, I pray God make every new day his reminder that the business of love, His Love, must remain my most important focus.  Matthew 22.39

Thanks also to Loy Valera for the cool design found here…

http://beta.threadless.com/product/1589/Friday_I_m_In_Love/tab,guys/style,shirt