26 Jan 2011

Jack Lalanne On Telling It Like It Was

RIP Jack Lalanne
Image Source: Crossfit Oakland
I wrote this on Monday and thought I had posted it right away - turns out it was simply saved and not published. Oops!

I've been working on some 50s Housewife Experiment stuff behind the scenes (I'll share more about that soon - I promise!) and nearly every time I speak with a new person about it, I get asked what my ethnicity is whether I think the 50s were a better time than our modern era.

The answer is no. But if you were to ask me whether this era is better than the 50s, the answer is also no. I guess a lot has to do with defining what "better" is and from whose point of view are you looking at things.

There's this image of the 1950s as some kind of apple pie-infused wonderland where people were happy, pleasures were simple and life was uncomplicated. Nostalgia and age do funny things to our interpretation of the past (weren't the 80s the best?!) - which is why I really liked relying on the actual books, magazines, commercials, TV shows and resources from the time to build the 50s Housewife Experiment.

There's value in getting information from the horse's mouth, so here's another horse for you - Jack Lalanne. Tell me, does his description of life (in the 50s) match your perception of the era? 

Wha? Unhappy people? Unsmiling faces? Stressed out, despite having all these modern conveniences? Out of shape and out of touch with nature thanks to processed foods and sedentary lifestyle? In the 1950s? STOP RUINING OUR FANTASIES, JACK LALANNE!!

Sounds a little too familiar, doesn't it?

Jack Lalanne, who passed away yesterday [Edit: this past Sunday], wasn't one to mince words. The Jack Lalanne Show, a program that provided straight forward nutritional and exercise advice to housewives (complete with goofy organ music), first aired in 1951 but didn't get national syndication until 1959.

I realize that it's hard to take a man in a jumpsuit seriously, but Lalanne actually provided a lot of good tips that are as relevant now as they were then. Take a look:

Good stuff! Thanks for keeping it real, Jack Lalanne.


21 Jan 2011

Song of the Day: Stamp by the RAA

New video for the Rural Alberta Advantage ... brought to you by Rolling Stone:

Fun! Some of the humour in the video will be lost on you if you're not much of a small venue concert goer ... but, yah, that's pretty much how it is.

Happy Friday to you!


18 Jan 2011

Overheard ... The Worst Argument For Cats

Image Source:
I took a break from work and writing today to pick up some books at the local library (I really, really, really love libraries. Hug a librarian today!). I ended up waiting in line behind two women who were in one of those pointless arguments that most people only have when they're under 12 or over the limit.

Team Paw: I just don't understand how anyone could prefer a cat over a dog. A dog returns your affections, a dog can be trained ...

Team Claw: But a dog is also messy and can do more damage. Cats are simply regal - and they DO return affection.

Team Paw: Cats can do plenty of damage - and usually they're not friendly. Plus, dogs are far more intelligent.

Team Claw: *Smug* My dear, the superiority of cats just can't be argued. As they say, dogs have masters, cats have staff!

You see, that's not an argument for cats, that's an argument against the intelligence of cat owners. Whenever people say that tired old line, I want to shout, "you realize that makes you 'the staff', right? You've just proudly announced that you're the willing servant to a spastic, crotch-licking, moody ball of fur and dander that is too stupid or lazy to learn its own name.Therefore, I really can't trust your judgment on anything."

I didn't say that though. That would be catty. Arf. Arf. Arf.


14 Jan 2011

Offend Your Friends

Queen For a Day!
Image Souce: Blurtit.com
It's a total faux pas to do something nice for someone and then announce it and brag about it (and as you'll see - photograph it - good grief, I have no shame!), but I kind of don't care. I don't care because sometimes I wish more people would think to help each other out and if this dumb post inspires someone out there to do just that, it's worth the lapse in manners.

I'm not sure if it's because all the magazines and books I've read from my 50s housewife days (which I still love to read!) presume a person pitches in when her friends, neighbours, community and country could use a hand, but lately I've been feeling like maybe we've become a little too focused on our own bubbles.

I don't think this is the case because people have become uncaring - I think we're just busier now, have more distractions and have become a mind-your-own-business society (which has its pluses and minuses) that is terrified of offending others (except when it comes to the comment section of articles, blogs and YouTube videos - there, some live to offend). We often worry that when we stick our necks out to offer help, the other person will somehow feel judged, and even get angry with us. In a post I wrote a while ago, I linked to this fabulous speech by JK Rowling that speaks to the importance of imagination. In her speech, she mentioned that through imagination, you can gain empathy and use that to help others. The roadblock that many of us face, however, is that we also imagine a backlash to helping. We worry about making that person in a wheelchair feel less capable if we offer to grab something on the grocery shelf for them. We hold back saying something to a mom whose toddler has pulled off his winter hat for fear that she'll think we believe she's a 'bad mother' for not noticing. We don't offer directions to the person who's clearly wandering about looking for landmarks because we don't want them to feel dumb. We often even keep to ourselves when it comes to people we know well. We don't want them to know that we've noticed that they could maybe use a hand or a break.

These fears aren't completely unwarranted, but maybe we should risk the potential backlash more often.

One of my good friends is the mom to a 1.5-year old. Her daughter is gorgeous and funny and smart and will surely grow up to be a brilliant human being I'll be proud to know. But as nearly all moms can attest, you can have the greatest kid in the world and still need a time out for yourself. My friend didn't have to (and didn't) tell me this - I just knew she was due for a break.

So, yesterday, without offering or needing to explain to her why, we swapped homes. I came up to her place to babysit her daughter (and do a bit of a tidy with my new little helper) and she arrived at  my place to discover this:

At the end of the day, she came back to her place where her family's dinner was magically ready and more wine was begging to be had.

It's OK, you can say it: I am pretty awesome. Har.

If there's a new mom or dad in your life, or anyone who could use a little relief, please steal this idea from me. You'll never feel so appreciated!


11 Jan 2011

Best Diet Ever?

Whenever I'm feeling peckish, I'll watch this video and lose my appetite.

Whenever I've just eaten, I'll watch this video and immediately throw up.

Skinny jeans, here I come!

Ok, but seriously, did anyone else suddenly think of the song "Ben" when they saw this?


7 Jan 2011

New Year, New Humiliations

Hi everyone! How's 2011 treating you so far?

Our New Year's trip to Las Vegas was all kinds of giddy fun - but we predictably did not come home millionaires. I could pretend we did, but then this blog would look like the last season of Roseanneand we all know how crappy that was.

Instead, I had a lineup of work waiting for me, including a meeting with a client on Bay Street (Canada's version of Wall Street). I bring this detail up, only because in the humiliation I'm about to relay, you'll gain a greater understanding for the environment I was in - one of suits and money and people who undoubtedly think they are better than me.

Upon returning from vacation, the laundry situation in our home was looking grim - which resulted in me opening up a new pack of pantyhose to wear for the meeting. This was a pair that I had received in a gift bag at some random event - so they weren't my usual, trusted brand of super control-top sausage casings. In fact, this style of pantyhose bragged about being totally opposite to my usuals - these were seamless. I put them on, they fit and off I went to walk to the meeting.


As I now realize, seamless means zero control. Seamless means no holdy-uppy elastic. Seamless means disaster. As I was heading toward the office, I could feel the sickening sensation of pantyhose shimmying down my body. I grabbed hold of the southbound waistband (through my dress) just before the hose could slide over the hump of my bum. I had to get myself to a washroom - stat. I'm sure I looked like a lunatic - taking tiny quick steps, keeping my body as stiff as possible, creepily smiling to fake to the world that everything was alright, while tightfistedly clutching my dress at the hip. I probably looked like Pee Wee Herman on the verge of drawing a gun.

Once in the restaurant bathroom, I yanked the hose up as high as they would go. I contemplated removing them all together but black hose with the dress sort of pulled the outfit together - plus my legs were in need of a trim shave and it was below zero, so walking around bare-legged would be completely bizarre and far too casual a look for this meeting.

The hose miraculously stayed up as I got to the client's office. He suggested we continue the meeting at a nearby coffee spot - so off we went again. Slight clutching was necessary, but I thankfully made it there intact.

Meeting complete, I walked with my client back toward his office as we chatted about a few last minute details of the project. And then it happened ... my pantyhose started sprinting down my body as if it was a fugitive and my ankles were the Mexican border. I tried to discreetly catch the waistband but missed and couldn't do anything but keep walking with my client and pray that the downward shuffling would stop. I could feel that the pantyhose had made its way past my butt and was now truckin' down my thighs. I started sweating and locked my knees together as we walked. I have absolutely no idea what my client said during those few steps because all that was going through my head was, "Please, please, please, please let this not be happening to me!!!" I pressed my arm against my body, hoping to clamp the tights while putting my purse in front of me, dangling it at the level of my dress's hemline to disguise the possible emergence of my hose. The wind blew a little and I could feel the cold flash of air on my previously hosed thighs. Nooooooo! I could feel the pantyhose starting to bunch just above my knees. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.
This is Bay Street, the scene of the crime.
Image Source: ElliDavis.com

"Well, here's my stop, looking forward to working with you on this!" my client said. We shook hands and he walked into the building. It didn't seem like he had noticed my crazed, sweaty disposition or the pantyhose - although it's for certain that other people did. When my client was out of view, I moved my purse aside and looked down to survey the damage. My pantyhose has fallen to the bottom of my knees. My dress length? Just above the knee. There, on the busy sidewalk in the financial district among all the suits and money and decision makers, I was standing there with my hoses's gusset in plain view (that's a random pic from the net - it's not of me). If you had been walking or standing behind me where my purse could do no hiding, you surely saw all this and wondered if I was an idiot, really eager to use the washroom or a pervert.

Horrified and yet relieved to have not been literally caught with my pants down by the client, I dashed toward a nearby building column for a bit of shelter (although not much - I was still very much in plain sight of the world), tossed off my shoes, tore off my pantyhose and stuffed them into my purse. It's not everyday that a woman starts stripping on the sidewalk, so, yes, people were looking, no, I didn't give a damn, and no, I will never wear seamless panythose ever again. They are so effing dead to me.

"Uh, Jen?" a voice said.

I almost vomited from shock and embarrassment.

It wasn't the client whom I had just been with, but someone else I had met in a business setting the month before. As my luck would have it, as I turned to face him, I still hadn't yet put my shoes back on. Nothing says HIRE ME, I'M A PROFESSIONAL like taking off your undergarments and standing around barefoot, publicly, downtown, in the winter.

"Oh, hi!" I said, as if nothing completely insane was happening.

"Umm ...Do you need some help?" he asked, now obviously looking at my feet.

"Oh, I, uh, just had something in my shoe," I said, red-faced. He had clearly seen me rip my hose off - something that isn't exactly the standard thing to do when one claims to be getting a pebble out of her shoe. And even if he hadn't seen me tear off my tights - and he had - what's the explanation for having BOTH shoes off? I believe the answer is this: She's crazy.

"Oh ... ok, then. Uh, Happy New Year," he said and then went on his way.

"Sure thing, same to you!" I said as I put on my shoes and stuffed a dangling leg of the pantyhose deep into my purse.

Cringe x 10000000000. Just a wild guess, but I'm pretty sure that if that guy requires writing and marketing services, he won't be calling me up. In fact, he's probably warning people about me now. UUUUGGGGHHHHH.

Image Source: Digital Daily

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I have no shame

Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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