Saturday, April 29, 2006

My hot date with Hot Rob

How desperate is the dating scene in Vancouver? Hot Rob asked me out and I said yes. It doesn’t get much more dire than that.

Rob stumbled across my blog last fall after I wrote about what an arrogant ass he was here, here and here. But instead of being insulted, Rob complemented me on my sarcasm (which is funny because I wasn’t being sarcastic). We’ve been emailing each other ever since.

So when he invited me to a party this week, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet the man in the flesh. I was curious to find out if he really was the Adonis he said he was.

Before I go any further, I should probably back up a bit for those of you who don’t know who Hot Rob is.

Hot Rob is a 34-year-old former Sears catalogue model. His real name is Robert Funk. Last fall, Rob called a Vancouver radio station to complain that he had a hard time finding love because women were intimidated by his high level of hotness.

The whole thing was absurd. Especially because Hot Rob wasn’t all that hot. Or at least not nearly as hot as he thought he was.

Which is why it is so painful for me to admit that Hot Rob actually is kind of hot.* He looks nothing like he does in his photos. He is quite possibly the most unphotogenic person I have ever met (which probably explains why his modeling career tanked).

He is also funny, charming and self-deprecating. When I introduced him to my friend Annelle, he leaned across the table to shake her hand and said, "You’re the one who said I look like a gay flight attendant."

He even seemed a little embarrassed about the whole Hot Rob thing. Or at least he acted embarrassed about it.

"I don’t think I’m hot," he confessed over a beer. "I’m okay looking but I’m not hot. Not even close to hot."

So why phone a radio station to complain about being really, really, really good looking? He said he did it on a lark. And he wasn’t happy with the way the interviews turned out. "They edited it to make me sound like an arrogant jerk."

I didn’t buy his explanation and called him on it.

"But I heard you say you don’t like going to a restaurant on a first date because you know every woman in the place will be staring at you and then the woman you’re with gets all jealous and insecure," I said. "You said that. It came out of your mouth in one sentence. Are you trying to tell me that was edited?"

"Okay. Maybe that wasn’t edited," he laughed. He may be vain but at least he can laugh at his own vanity.

On the downside, Rob smokes and talks on his cell phone way too much.

On the upside, Rob is very close to his family. About two minutes after I met Rob, he introduced me to his father, his mother, his cousin, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend. He said they were all dying to meet me.

He wasn’t kidding. Rob’s family spent most of the night gushing over me. They acted as if I was the most fascinating person in the room. They treated me like a celebrity. They told me they loved what I wrote about Rob. I spent more time talking with Rob’s mom than I did with her son. She even gave me a big hug and invited me to a slumber party at her house.

It was so over-the-top that the first thing Annelle said to me after we left was "I can’t get over how much his family loves you. It’s kind of weird."

Now, in case you’re thinking that sparks are flying and Rob and I are about to head down the aisle, let me stop you right there. First of all, I don’t date models. Second of all, Rob has a girlfriend. They’ve been dating for three months. The best part? They met on a reality TV show.

Actually, that’s the reason we were at the bar in the first place. Rob and Katherine had invited everyone to watch the episode of Manhattan Matchmaker where they were set up on a blind date.

I’m happy Rob has finally found love. And I’m even happier it’s not with me. The Vancouver dating scene may be desperate but I’m not.

* Although I admit that Rob is not a bad looking guy, I would describe him as being more lukewarm than hot. He also has the same kind of eyes as Stephen Harper and Karla Homolka -- eyes so light blue they are almost colourless. While these eyes can be attractive in person, they usually look creepy in photographs.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Vote for your favourite word!

Remember when I said (here and here) that one of my goals for 2006 is to invent a new word? And then the whole thing kind of died and you probably thought I abandoned the project because, really, who sticks to drunken promises made at a New Year’s Eve party anyway?

Well, I don’t give up that easily. I’ve spent the past three months compiling all of your suggestions and narrowing down the list. Technically, I guess that means one of you will invent a new word and I will get all the credit. But I’m okay with that.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a word or saying so pithy it becomes part of the pop culture lexicon. Like "off the hook" or "couch potato" or "CrackBerry."

The new word needs to be timely, clever and catchy. But it also has to be marketable. We’ll stand a better chance of going all Tipping Point on the word if we keep this in mind. So here are the nominations:

Aroungry: Somewhere between aroused and angry (submitted by Dead Robot).

Cereal monogamy: Eating only one brand of breakfast cereal for a long period of time before switching to a different brand (submitted by Craig).

Commutiny: The phenomenon of folks getting up in arms and overthrowing building proposals in their areas, ie. Yorkville condo towers, Vancouver Wal-Mart, etc. (submitted by Craig).

Fivebucks: Used to describe Starbucks because damn near everything in there costs a minimum of five bucks (submitted by Carrie).

Frey: Used to describe someone who exaggerates the truth (in honour of James Frey). Example of usage: "I totally padded my resume. I feel like such a Frey" (submitted by Sarah).

Horngry: This term signifies those lusty people who’d rather have sex, but will settle for food when they can’t get lucky, or will use food specifically to drown their unsatisfied lust (submitted by Delacey).

Hotrob: A person or animal that grossly overestimates his or her own physical attractiveness (in honour of hot guy Robert). This is not meant to be synonymous with narcissist, which is more like excessive self-love. It’s simply a term to describe someone who sees themselves in an overly optimistic light relative to how other people actually perceive them. Example of usage: "It’s hard to believe Craig thinks he’s in Laura’s league. What a hotrob." We may want to include a phonetic treatment as well, to ensure that no one mispronounces it "ho-trob" (submitted by Chach).

Googley moogley: The point one reaches when they get frustrated with Google and can’t find what they’re looking for. Inversely, the point when they find something 1,000 percent better than what they are looking for on Google (submitted by Dead Robot).

iPoseur: One who does not keep their iPod inside their bag, usually walking with it in their hands. Possibly thinking they’re one colour and in an Apple ad (submitted by Dead Robot).

MinoriTory: The current state of uncertainty in Canadian politics. It’s a combination of minority and purgatory, with the added bonus that purgatory ends in Tory (submitted by Craig).

Pimping the sibling: The attempt to offer a conjugal union of one’s own sibling to other interested parties or, simply, trying to set up your brother or sister. Example of usage: "In trying to set up her brother with other people, Sarah was pimping the sibling" (submitted by Eldon).

PS 2-2: Bizarre, interpretive dance-like movements while playing video games. Example of usage: "Billy was, like, all over the couch, PS 2-2ing while flying that X-Wing" (submitted by Dead Robot).

Reintarnation: The emergence of Canada on the world scene once again, due to the renewed economic viability of the Alberta tar sands in the current political oil climate (submitted by Tony).

Smallitics: Petty character assassination of those running for public office that almost always leads to that person getting elected, ie. Kim Campbell making fun of Jean Chretien’s facial tic, comparing Oliva Chow to a dog, and, oh yeah, this (submitted by Craig).

Wuzam: I was, still am and will continue to be what you heard about me. This is in direct response to the old "Has Been" question: When people ask about your past, ie. "I heard you were a model," the proper response is: "Yes I was and I still am (WUZAM)." There is only one exception to this word -- ex-high-school football stars (submitted by Hot Rob).

You can vote for your favourite word in the comments section below or you can email me. Once we have a winning word, my co-conspirator Chach and I will unleash it on the world by going on Speaker's Corner or something.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bikes, bears and heroin junkies

There’s a fine line between fun adventures and crazy adventures. Sometimes fun adventures unintentionally turn crazy. Like the bike ride we went on two days ago.

It started out innocently enough. Seven of us decided to ride 100 kilometres from Pitt Meadows to the Hatzic Valley on Monday. My friend Paul described it as a scenic ride that would take us over rolling hills, through picturesque farmlands and along quiet back roads. There would even be a leisurely stop for lunch at a quaint cafe. Sounds fun, right?

Wrong! The "rolling hills" turned out to be steep climbs and sharp descents. It felt like we were riding up one side of the CN Tower and down the other. Over and over and over again. This is me on a relatively flat section of the ride.

Now, take these hills and multiply them by 100 (in size and number) and you’ll get a sense of the kind of thigh-burning terrain we covered.

The hills weren’t our only enemy. Farm dogs constantly raced out onto the road to attack us. It was pretty terrifying to be lunged at and chased by a pack of wild dogs while riding a bike. Luckily, Sony’s girly screams scared them away.

But it gets worse. Much worse. What could be worse than snarling dogs on the side of the road? A snarling BEAR! At least the bear had the good sense not to attack us. However, no one was brave enough to stop and take pictures of the bear so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Perhaps the only thing more disturbing than the dogs and the bear was the heroin junkie shooting up in the gas station washroom. About an hour into the ride, we stopped at a gas station for a pee break. But someone was already in the washroom. So we waited. And waited. And waited. About 15 minutes went by before one of the gas station employees banged on the door to make sure the guy was still alive. We heard a muffled response. A few seconds later, the door opened and a sketchy looking guy walked out of the bathroom with a syringe in his hand.

I was too scared to go into the bathroom, thinking the walls would be splattered with blood and the toilet rimmed with feces. So I made Paul inspect it. The washroom turned out to be fine (or at least as fine as a gas station washroom can be).

Now, at this point, I haven’t even mentioned the weather. You name it, we got it. Sun, rain, clouds, wind and even a hailstorm. Actually, the hailstorm was kind of exciting. It was the first time I experienced hailstones pinging off my helmet.

We reached our turnaround point at the 60-kilometre mark, just as the storm was reaching its peak. By now, golf-ball-size hailstones were falling out of the sky and littering the ground.

So we took refuge at the roadside cafe in the Hatzic Valley and tucked into soup and sandwiches.

When I found out the "washroom" at the cafe was an outhouse in middle of the parking lot, I actually found myself longing for that gas station washroom.

We decided to hit the road after about an hour. By this point, everyone was feeling tired and no one wanted to go back the way we came. There was a long debate over whether or not we should just ride back to Pitt Meadows on the highway, which was shorter, flatter and more direct.

Some people (me) wanted to go back the same way we came, while others (everyone else) just wanted to get the hell home as quickly and painlessly as possible. So we compromised and decided to ride the highway to Mission and then hop on the back roads to our starting point in Pitt Meadows.

This seemingly bright idea did nothing but add an extra 10 kilometres onto our already epic ride. And we still ended up riding up and down almost all of the same hills. What was supposed to be a 100-km ride turned into a 130-km ride.

To add insult to injury, we were swarmed by a pack of kids on dirt bikes that kept trying to race us. We were so tired we just let them trash-talk us. They grew bored after a while and sped ahead of us.

It was a fitting end to the day when we drove back to Vancouver in Paul’s beat-up pick-up truck, listening to the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. As for the next adventure, I just hope it’s less crazy and more fun.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Juice-box wine

I was so excited to learn that they’re finally going to start selling single-serving size boxes of wine in Canada. But then I found out you can only get them in Ontario. As a result, this was both the highlight and the lowlight of my day.

I love the idea of little 250-mililitre boxes of wine. It would be nice to have a glass of wine with dinner but I almost never do because I don’t want to open an entire bottle of wine just for myself. Juice-box wine is a victory for cheap, single people everywhere!

I wonder if the mini wine boxes come with little straws that are wrapped in plastic and glued to the side of the box like real juice boxes? Or are you supposed to pour the wine into a glass? Would anyone notice if I packed one of these in my lunch box? I guess I’ll never know. Sigh. And double sigh.

Then again, maybe someone in Ontario will read this and pop over to the liquor store to pick me up a case (only $13.95 for a four-pack!) and drop it in the mail. That would be awesome.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Naked yoga?

There are certain group activities that should never be done in the nude. Like yoga, for example.

I can’t think of anything more horrifying than being stuck in a yoga class behind rows of naked men and women bent over in the downward dog position as sweat drips down their butt cracks. It’s about as sexy as a gynecological exam.

But, according to this article in today’s Vancouver Sun, naked yoga is the city’s hottest new trend. There are at least two gyms in Vancouver that offer classes in the buff.

Why anyone would want to take a nude yoga class? What’s wrong with people in this city? Has the rain melted everyone’s brains into mush? Is this what happens when you smoke too much pot?

Naked yoga is allegedly all about "removing barriers" and "being spiritual." I have no idea what that flaky new age shit is supposed to mean. All I know is that naked yoga will make Vancouver the butt of jokes in the rest of the country.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Why Harper is wrong on Kyoto

The big news on the front page of today’s Globe and Mail is that the Tories "will neither kill nor live up to Kyoto."

Wow. Stephen Harper sure loves to have his cake and eat it too (no, I’m not referring to his expanding waistline). It seems a bit disingenuous to remain in the Kyoto Protocol but not meet its targets.

If Stephen Harper refuses to live up to Kyoto, he’s basically killing it. It’s like starving someone to death rather than shooting him in the head.

To his credit, Harper appears somewhat serious about reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Or at least he appears more serious than Paul Martin did. Even though the Liberals signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, they did absolutely nothing about it. In fact, our emissions actually increased while the Liberals were in power.

One of the stupidest programs created by the Liberal government was the One Tonne Challenge, which unfairly placed the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the shoulders of individual Canadians.

This program was a failure from the outset. First of all, no one understood it. No one knew what the challenge was about, why it was important or what a tonne was. Second of all, climate change is just not an issue of national importance to most Canadians.

It would have been more useful to create a program that actually targeted those responsible for creating the majority of the emissions (ie. mandatory vehicle fuel efficiency standards or emission caps on large industrial polluters).

So Harper was right to cancel the One Tonne Challenge.

But he’s wrong to stay in Kyoto and not meet its targets. Climate change is a global issue and the Kyoto Protocol is the only global agreement we have to address this challenge. It took a decade just to create the Protocol and it would take another decade to create something new.

Drafting a new agreement would mean another 10 years before we actually start doing something. Until then, our emissions will keep rising, which will only make it that much harder to cut them.

Kyoto is far from perfect. It’s not nearly ambitious enough to slow the effects of climate change. Canada only has to reduce its emissions six per cent below 1990 levels. This won’t make a damn bit of difference. But it’s a good first step. At the very least it will get us going in the right direction. And the last thing we need right now is more talk and no action.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Motivationally challenged

It’s hard to be a goal-driven overachiever when you’re also a lazy procrastinator. Which probably explains why it has taken me three months to put my one and only New Year’s resolution ("do less") into action.

My extracurricular activities (swimming, cycling, racing in triathlons, blogging, freelance writing, volunteering, learning French, watching television -- just to name a few) have been pushing me to the edge of exhaustion.

So I made a list of everything that was eating up my spare time and decided to drop the thing I liked the least. This turned out to be "doing laundry and cleaning." But because living in filth was not an option, I ended up dropping my second most hated activity -- going to the gym -- instead.

I’m excited about this decision. Not going to the gym will free up two nights a week to do other things, like feed my newly acquired MTV addiction.

I’m not sure if I will permanently stop going to the gym or just give it up for a few months. The only reason I started going to the gym in the first place was to make my shoulders stronger for swimming. But I’m not sure it made a difference. I still have the upper body strength of a kitten.

I also thought the gym might be a good place to meet guys. This turned out to be true. I met lots of guys. Guys like Perry, for example.

Perry was a heavy drinking, chain smoking, overweight, ex-rower from Romania in his 50s. Perry told me the only reason he went to the gym was because he was trying to kill himself. Literally. He would eat and drink and smoke and then bench-press twice his weight in the hopes of having a heart attack. He was tired of living and wanted to die but was too afraid to commit suicide in a traditional manner. So Perry was fixated on having a heart attack. He seemed disappointed to find himself still alive after every punishing workout.

This might sound depressing but it wasn’t. Perry was actually quite funny about his death mission. I think he may have accomplished his goal because I haven’t seen him in about a year. It’s too bad because Perry was the most interesting guy I met at the gym.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll miss the place. Going to the gym was a chore. The only exercise I really liked doing was chin-ups (even though I can only do two in a row).

Still, I can’t help but feel conflicted about my decision to "do less." Like most New Year’s resolutions, it probably won’t last long. I suck.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I no longer want my MTV

I’ve been watching MTV Canada all weekend. Strictly for research purposes, of course. I’d heard a lot of hype about the relaunched Canadian station and wanted to check it out for myself.

The verdict? Well, it’s more insipid, vacuous and irrelevant than the critics said it was. But its sheer absurdity is also what makes it highly addictive. My complete analysis is below:

1. MTV Canada is not like MuchMusic. For example, MTV doesn’t play music videos. Ever. As far as I can tell, MTV Canada has nothing to do with music at all. This is because MTV Canada is not licensed to be a music channel. It simply runs American MTV reality shows about rich, beautiful people. It also runs reality shows about poor, ugly people (it’s inclusive like that). Once in a while we see the ditzy Canadian MTV hosts sitting on a couch discussing these shows. Sometimes there is a live audience, sometimes not.

2. MTV Canada does not have VJs (you can’t have VJs if there are no videos). MTV Canada has hosts. The purpose of these hosts is to provide Canadian content, which they do by sitting around on couches talking about the aforementioned American programs. Sometimes they interview people, sometimes not. They almost never talk about music, which is understandable because we’ve determined that MTV no longer has anything to do with music. Watching these hosts in action is like watching a community cable show produced out of someone’s basement. It’s painfully amateurish.

3. Daryn Jones is one of the aforementioned MTV hosts. This is huge a step down the career ladder for Mr. Jones, who most recently worked as a writer and a correspondent on Rick Mercer’s show. What happened? Did he get fired? Daryn Jones looks about as uncomfortable and out-of-place as I feel watching him sitting on a couch surrounded by some of the stupidest people in Canadian television.

4. I learned a lot of things while watching Canadian MTV. Like how posting topless pictures of yourself on your website is an easy way to increase traffic. During one segment, the hosts invited some local web "experts" to come to the show to talk about online trends. According to one of the cute girl experts, the biggest trend is to post pictures of your naked breasts on your website. She told us all the cool kids are, like, totally doing it. We were then treated to several screen shots of said girl’s naked breasts (with a black bar blocking out the naughty bits). This revelation provoked a round of in-depth questions from the MTV hosts, such as "So, like, do a lot of guys come to your website because of these pictures?" and "What’s your web address again?"

5. The forced banter between the hosts makes me squirm. Here are two examples:
Male host: So you’re going to have a good weekend?
Female host: I’m going to get hammered. Woo!
[insert weird, awkward pause]
Female host: So, like, this building is 100 years old and there’s ghosts and stuff. Like, I’ve heard total ghost stories about this place.
Other female host: Oh my god. I’m, like, totally getting goosebumps.
[insert weird, awkward pause]

6. When the hosts are on, MTV Canada is very, very bad. When the hosts aren’t on, MTV Canada is very, very good. That’s because it runs nothing but American MTV reality shows. Reality shows about wannabe models, reality shows about bored, rich teenagers living in California, reality shows about rock stars, reality shows about cars, and even reality shows about former child stars. I am addicted to each and every one.

7. The best of the aforementioned MTV shows is Laguna Beach. This is a reality show about spoiled, rich teenagers living in Orange County, California. Pretty much nothing happens. The girls are catty and bitchy. The boys are clueless. The boys also take turns dating these catty, bitchy girls, which only makes them more catty and bitchy. Sometimes there are major crises, like when one girl is embarrassed because she drives a jeep but, luckily, daddy comes to the rescue and buys her an Escalade. There is no point to this show. It’s just a voyeuristic look at a bunch of self-absorbed kids obsessed with status and image. And yet, I am completely fascinated by it all.

8. The second best of the MTV shows is 8th & Ocean. This is a reality show about the trials and tribulations of wannabe models in Florida. It’s "groundbreaking" because there are both female and male models on the show. The show is unintentionally hilarious. It’s like Zoolander but with real people. I especially liked the episode when one of the female models contemplated suicide because of a few zits.

9. In conclusion, I predict MTV Canada will be off the air within two years. First of all, it’s way up in the cable stratosphere. It’s on channel 90 here in Vancouver, which is only two channels away from the coma-inducing cpac. Although MTV Canada is free for basic cable subscribers, its location in television Siberia makes it easy to forget about. This means it will have a tiny audience, which means it will eventually fail (again). Second of all, why watch MTV when CTV has already bought most of the most popular MTV shows like The Osbournes, Newlyweds and Punk’d? Enjoy MTV Canada while you can. It won’t be around for long.