Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

What is liveable…

October 3, 2008

Yukon homestead, circa 1983

Yukon homestead, circa 1983


Killing time…

February 4, 2008

A rosy mackerel dawn sky, fractured between the spaces of the winter-bare apple tree, beckoned me outside this morning. I drew my housecoat around me, ran my fingers through sleep tousled hair and stepped out to stand beneath the tree. The dawn silence, so precious, was interrupted by the jet drone of a large passenger plane headed south-west to land at Lulu Island.

How strange the world looks from up there. If, indeed, passengers are not busying themselves with stashing books and magazines in their bags, pushing their folding-tables back into place on the seat-back in front of them, steeling themselves for the change in engine sounds as the plane descends or as the plane’s wheels thunk down from the wheel-wells and brace for the landing impact.

I took bracing breaths of the chill morning air, lingered briefly in the slowly changing light, then went back inside to read the paper with the first coffee of the morning. This is not a copy of our regular newspaper, but of the other daily which has today a section of the Weekend Thriller Contest, to which both Martha and By-line Woman sent in  a second chapter installment. Had to have a look-see at what second chapter was chosen to continue the plot. Otherwise this paper I refer to, disparagingly, as a “rag”. There is of course no news of what our neighbours to the South are undergoing in their selection of Presidential Candidates. There was a heart-rending write-up of a family dog who gave her life to a cougar in exchange for her master’s. I browsed through the various sections until I reached the travel section. At this season of the year people who travel by plane often encounter long lay-overs, flight cancellations and rerouting – all due to winter weather conditions. The article that caught my eye and attention was:

“Tips on ways to kill some time at YVR

TRAVEL B.C.: There is a plethora of creative activities awaiting you at the airport”

by Rebecca Stevenson, CANWEST NEWS SERVICE

It’s like a sudden loss of altitude in the pit of your stomach: that sinking feeling when you hear your flight is delayed indefinitely.

In the blink of an eye, you’re reduced from a peppy jet-setter to an aimless loiterer.

Stranded travellers, don’t despair. Beneathe the surface of any airport lies a plethora of creative activities to while away the hours.

Here, we discover the secret world of Vancouver International Airport, or YVR.

*The sound of music: Instantly nix about 225 minutes in the domestic terminal by getting thyself to Virgin Books and Music’s CD listening station, where you can sample three full-length CDs.

*The medical/dental plan: Proceed downstairs to the dental clinic, where you can get a one-hour tooth bleaching session for only $375. next door, at the medical clinic, travel vaccines and flu shots are on order.

*Massage or a manicure: The next best thing just might be a treatment at Absolute Spa, which provides hair, make-up, massage, facials, manicures and the rest. There are three specialty “flight-delay” packages ranging from $75 – $95.

*The next level: And once you’re reduced to molten flesh, there is no telling what you might do next. Potential inductees to the famous “mile-high club” might want to pick up some condoms or lubrication at Pharmasave.

*Looking Good: Don’t forget to beautify at the Body Shop’s make-up testing counter.

*Food and drink: Gorging on calories and boredom often go hand-in-hand. But instead of defaulting to a personal dozen at Tim Hortons, why not add some flare to your consumption? Saunter down to the 7-Eleven in the Domestic Terminal and relive childhood by making your own root-beer float, or sipping a slurpee.

Treat yourself to a swanky meal at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Globe @YVR or jetside Lounge restaurants, where you can sink your posh derriere into stuffed armchairs and take in the executive view of the runways.

*Drag your bloated body back to the Fairmont and use the Health Club ($10 for just the shower and sauna, $15 for the gym and pool). You can even drop into yoga and pilates classes.

*Shhh. had your fill of these sushi-eating, downward-dogging West Coast health maniacs? The Fairmont’s Quiet Zone Day Room ($99 for four hours) is literally the stuff lazy dreams are made of.

*Culture Vultures: Refreshed travellers can flit about the airport and soak up a bit of culture. First Nations art installations – including a massive Haida jade sculpture – are scattered throughout both terminals.”

(Sunday, February 3, 2008   THE PROVINCE)

After reading this article I realized once again why I hate reading newspaper Travel Sections (among other sections) where what purports to be an article is really nothing more than editorial advertising with copy-writing of the most breathless order.  Even the headline’s “ways to kill time” phrase panders to the most unthinking among us. Oh, sure, I know it’s just a figure of speech, but what a profoundly mindless one it is. But to couple it with the phrase”plethora of creative activities” and then to follow that up with a list of “consumer” services which cost a small fortune really insults a reader’s intelligence.

Nita at  posted on February 2, 2008 her writing about a truly creative act related to travel and flying, by a former Indian Airlines flight engineer, Bahadur Chand Gupta who created an opportunity to experience what it is to be inside a plane for people who would otherwise never set foot in an airport, enter and sit in a plane or rise above the surface of the earth. Nita’s piece, titled “A dream come true for those who will never fly.” is one which throws into painful contrast the attitudes we in developed countries have toward travel, particularly of the resource-consuming sort we take for granted such as air travel, against the realities of limited access to creature comforts, let alone opportunities for travel experienced by people living in  other parts of the world.

Here, where I live, to buy into so much sybaritic comfort made possible so that I and others can while away or “kill time” in superficial pleasures  requires a suspension of disbelief. The modern airport is an extension of the modern shopping mall, if I interpret The Province article correctly. Waiting, in transit between one place and the next, I must be entertained, pampered, pandered to in order to be lulled into acceptance of the “urge” to keep in constant motion around the world, otherwise I may have a spot or two of time where I may begin to think for myself and realize that travel is not what I would rather want or need to do.

The Dream Home…

August 21, 2007

There is a song from the 60s musical “The Fantasticks” that I particularly loved and these days still sing in a cracked-alto version whenever I am doing mundane chores around the house.

” Hear how the wind begins to whisper -see all the leaves go swirling by – smell how the velvet rain is falling – out where the fields are warm and dry.

Now is the time to run inside and play – now is the time to find a hideaway – where we can stay.

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can feel it; soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell; soon it’s gonna rain, what are we going to do? (Girl)

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can feel it; soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell; soon it’s gonna rain, what’ll we do with you? (Boy)

We’ll find four limbs of a tree; We’ll build four walls and a floor; we’ll bind it over with leaves and run inside to stay.

We will let it rain; we’ll not feel it; we will let it rain, rain pell mell, and we’ll not complain if it never stops at all.

We’ll live and love in these four walls; happily we’ll live and love, no cares at all; happily we’ll live and love, within our castle walls. ”  (Boy and Girl, together)

This romantic song contains all the idealism and lack of practical experience of the young, the yearning for a love that helps one transcend all difficulty. I find its delicious naivete appealing. The Girl and Boy in the musical are supposed to be in their late teens, innocent, inexperienced and full of hope.

There is no hint of the Girl spreading tried-on and discarded brand name clothing on her bedroom floor and on every available surface. Her mother does not call her into the family room to catch the latest HGTV program on tacking together a fun and fashionable teen girl’s room with cool colours and kicky accessories. No “House Porn” for the Girl in The Fantasticks.

I often wonder what kind of longing is set up in sixteen-year old girls when they peruse the flyers that fall through their home mail-slot regularly, the flyers advertising the XXX Hospital Lifestyles Lottery, where the top prize is a million dollar Dream Home fully outfitted with the latest must-have luxuries and gadgets. And only $50 to $100 buys a chance at winning this Dream Home. Of course, the money goes to a good cause – Hospital Funding – so when one gambles one has expiated lingering feelings of guilt by being assured of gambled money going for “The Public Good”.

Some good friends bought a Dream Home from a lucky winner, who really couldn’t make a life in that house, for a variety of reasons. The house was designed by an architect, had soaring windows the three floors height, was situated in a semi-rural setting and had a gorgeous view of the ocean and islands. Outside, deer wandered by and had their way with garden plantings; racoons visited after dark to search for handouts; ravens flew by in the forest during the days, calling to each other and eagles soared in the sky.

There are unexpected downsides to Dream Homes, designed for a generic Mr and Mrs Average. The location of my friends’ house necessitated a two hour commute to and from work. They lived next door to another lottery home whose new owner left the house uninhabited.  Most of the neighbours were retirees.  Provisioning the home required trips into town a fair distance away. Power outages were frequent in the wintertime.  However, they lived there for five years, until the long commute to and from work became tedious, and the children needed to be closer to amenities, jobs and friends.

Lately, lottery homes are being built in suburbs, near amenities and schools, often on golf-course developments. My sister lives in such a community, and there are a few Dream Homes built on recently developed streets in her enclave. The new row of these lottery homes goes by the name of “Street of Dreams”. 

I toured a couple of these with Martha and Jeanie, and a crowd of other people, a couple of years ago. For the life of me I could never picture Rumpole and me living in one of these houses – we’d be like the Beverly Hillbillies and never fit in. The houses are tricked out to look like a hotel of sorts. People are expected to transport themselves via their imaginations into these places. All I could imagine was endless washing and cleaning of the granite counters in the kitchen and maybe occassionally chiding Rumpole for leaving acid rings etched on the granite from his orage juice glasses.  And the bathrooms! What sane woman wants to spend her time loping around the numerous bathrooms shining chrome taps. Besides which what woman could ever keep her eyes open watching Oprah  whilst slumped on the leather theatre chairs in the Media Room, exhausted from her rounds of incessant household maintenance!

Some dream! More like a nightmare wished on the unthinking and unwary women of North America! I think The Fantasticks version of castle is much more attractive and although the song didn’t mention ensuite bathrooms with rain-head showers and water-saving toilets, one can safely assume the idea of outdoor biffies never even crossed the librettist’s mind as he plinked away on a piano trying to fit words to the melody of “Soon it’s gonna rain”.

Product development brainstorming…. ” The Spiffer”…

January 20, 2007

Pedagogical training, during the late ’60s-early ’70s, included information disseminated about then current research in Creativity. I immersed myself, along with many other teaching aspirants, into that hot-bed of theory, experimentation, learned opinion, analysis and practice. Those were heady times! (Of course, at that time,  there was not enough credit given to numerous anonymous educators who toiled unheralded for many prior years in the trenches, successfully and gracefully encouraging creative habits in thousands of students).  With missionary zeal, our generation of newly hatched teachers dispersed to school districts, armed with many techniques with which to stimulate CREATIVITY.

A most enjoyable method for stimulating fluid generation of ideas was BRAINSTORMING. One could drop all pretences of earnestness and “seriousness” and be permitted all kinds of leeway, which had systematically been  ground out of one, by years of doing, thinking, saying and making things in the “correct” or approved ways. In short, we could act in a way we had only dared when our parents or supervisors were not watching, or when we had lapses in good judgement. This sand-lot approach was to ensure that all ideas were validated, by being carefully listed on a blackboard. Potential notions were to be considered and evaluated by individuals to weed out flaky, impractical (and presumably anti-social) qualities.

One exercise that was posed for a brainstorming session :  List at least 20 uses for a brick.  Boy, does that open up some interesting possibilities to entertain!

So, a situation that stimulated my well-entrenched brainstorming habit –  My friend, M, who is the most practical and sane woman, phoned to tell me that she had gone out and bought herself a Swiffer duster kit for x dollars. On arriving home she eagerly assembled the components and whipped around like that demented woman in the TV commercials, flicking, dancing and mugging her way through her dusting chores.  She actually giggled as she admitted this! Rather sternly, I mentioned Global Warming, Throwaway Society, Conservation, Ecological Footprint, Recycling, Thrift and Frugality, blah, blah…and so forth.  My cautions fell on deaf ears. Pshaw, said she.

Being mindful of M’s good sense of humour, and her tolerance of my goofy silliness, and knowing that this evening we have an arrangement to watch a “chick-flick” together, (sans “Rumpole”, who hates movies of a feminish persuasion!) I have been madly brainstorming to come up with a replacement product for “Swiffer”, which I have decided to label as “the Spiffer” (heh, heh – to rope in impressionable consumer).

I have decided on the following parameters for the “Spiffer”.  It must be inexpensive, plentiful, readily available, self-cleaning, low-tech to both produce and use, use a natural energy source and be ecological. After making lists, considering options I have decided to use the “domestic cat” as the impetus for brainstorming for developing “the Spiffer”.

So,  I am posing the following question, which M, and any other comers may wish to adress to provide  an exhaustive list to be evaluated, later, individually, by all who wish to take part in developing the “Spiffer” product.

 List a series of reasons why a “domestic cat” is ideal to be used as a “Spiffer”.  You may wish to mention specific characteristics of cat,  the science of dust collection, positioning of the cat for optimal performence of dusting, methods of recharging the cat, resources for long-term maintenance of the cat “Spiffer”, precautions that you must follow in using your product, and ecological reasons which you may wish to list to sell this product. You may wish to include instructions for how to use the Spiffer. Doing this point-by- point helps all of us appreciate your innovativE thinking. Please share freely.

Note -” the Spiffer” is not to be copyrighted, but is to be available to all and sundry.  I promise you a Revolution in Dusting.

M – no watching “chick-flick” until you have satisfactorily completed this assignment!!!


Creme de Corps(e) – sic…

January 18, 2007

My aging skin and body feel dry and cold all over. I need to take a warming shower, but first had to read the New York Times, headlines and some articles that caught my fancy this a.m. An headline beginning with the word “apothecary” propelled me to open up and read the article.

It was about the store, Kiehls, in Manhattan,  which purports to be of equal appeal to patrons of such diverse social cachet as “the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and an East Village junkie”. Wow, now that’s a broad-spectrum market! Needless to say, I don’t know from Kiehls, never have been in one nor expect ever to darken their doorway.  On the other hand, the description of the store decor and lauding of the low-pressure sales staff certainly had refreshing qualities that intrigue me, a confirmed shop-a-phobe. Their major drawing-power for a consumer is their practice of giving free samples of the unique products they sell.

Abyssene Eye Cream is one that sounds like it may provide a petrified and polished firmness in the problem area surrounding the eyes which on aging tend to take on the texture and character of an arroyo in Abyssinia? What am I thinking (hit myself upside the head)? Of course, DUH, I can expect to have the gloriously unlined eye-area of that famous beauty, Nefertiti, whose physiognomy hints at Abyssinian forebears. I am sorely tempted to Google a supplier who could send me some of this stuff, but I fear, in my case, no amount of unguents will make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  Rats!

Kiehl’s “signature product Creme de Corps, which promises on its label that ‘ continued use for 10 days will provide a skin texture heretofore unattainable’  ” seems like a desirable concoction with which to coddle dry and aging skin.  Could it work? That must have been my maternal grandmother’s main question before embarking on a 20-years long toilette which involved liberally smearing denatured lanolin (right off a sheep) on to her face and throat. (Well, THAT worked for her – she had the most beautifully white and creamy-textured skin, except none of us kids wanted to be anywhere near her as she smelled strongly of the barnyard – win some, lose some!) Did that work for the poor kid in my first-teaching gig up in the Canadian North? She was a fresh-faced girl of 13 whose mother did her the double favour of covering her with bear-grease to help keep her warm on her two-mile trek to the school-bus in Minus 23 degree weather, as well as to prevent her youthful skin from winter chapping. (The poor kid not only slept through classes but also smelled like a hibernating bear’s den – not nice!)

The words Creme de Corps conjures up something which “Renaissance Man”, aka my son, could develop and market in his capacity as funeral director. Only, in his inimitable fashion and with black humour, he would mislable it Creme de Corpse, which would promise the return of youthful and lively bloom to dessicated crones such as yours truly.

On that note, I will now repair to the frigid bathroom and warm myself up with a hot shower, after which I shall speculate on the wisdom of larding up my body. Lard is more or less scent free- and it’s cheap!

Vivaldi, with vegetables on the side…

January 17, 2007

Last night while I was flipping through TV channels casually a fragment of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” accompanying as sound-track a fleeting image of a plateful of dinner arrested my attention. Incredulous, with open mouth, I took in the advertisement. In choreographed movements perfectly keeping time with the music, a man methodically polished off ALL of the vegetables on his plate.  The woman, with whom he was dining, archly questioned whether he was going to make any attempts to eat his steak.  Presumably, the vegetables were so delectable as to completely fulfill his appetite.  Sort of an inverse of the male’s real preference for meat. Clever advertising, except for one thing, the juxtaposition of Vivaldi with vegetables surprised me so much that the brand of what was being advertised didn’t register.

Somehow, what is shown on television is not compelling enough for me to immerse myself in  watching TV often enough to try to come upon this advertisement again. At least, PBS doesn’t conflate Vivaldi and vegetables.