Happy Black Friday

Black Friday

What crowds! What crowds! Black Friday at Macy’s 2012 (photo from CNN)

Happy Black Friday!

If you can call it a happy day, that is.

A day where the upside is saving handfuls of money from purchasing items at a deep discount.

The downside is long line-ups – determined by time, in hours or up to a whole day – the competition after doors-open, the race to the most wanted item that you just can’t win, the disappointment for being too slow and missing out, the unrealized realization that you might not have even wanted the item in the first place; you just convinced yourself otherwise because it just had such an attractive discounted price tag you could resist.

Black Friday might be one of the ugliest days of the year. When caution is thrown to the wind and people reveal the worst about what they’re capable of in the name of buying and saving.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sale as much as (or more!) than the next person. My go-to saying when grocery shopping during BOGO week is “what sales! What sales!” – a line I borrow from my mother – but at what cost am I willing to pay to join such a frightful scene?

I partook in a Boxing Day Sale event once. My sisters and I got up at 5 am the morning the sales were on, drove for an hour into the city to join a lineup of nearly a hundred people outside Future Shop. The wait was only an hour or so in the cold and I think only a select number of people were allowed in at a time. The funny thing is, I don’t even remember what I bought.

So was it worth it? I might say yes, if only because it was a learning experience. The wait was relatively short, the weather was fine, nobody got hurt, and it was in a time before Black Friday was even a thing, so the hype of big sales wasn’t the hysteria it is today – before people got trampled to death in favour of a sale.

The benefits of Black Friday, for me, aren’t worth the hours spent waiting in lines seeing the anxious look on the faces of people who would push and shove an old lady holding a service dog in a wheelchair just to grab a bargain. It’s not worth the feeling of entrapment that comes with being in a crowded store full of panicked people who have the same instinctive need to buy and escape as you do. It’s especially not worth promoting the concept that is Black Friday, where stores go all-out to one-up the competition by opening an hour earlier, or the evening before, or even a day in advance, just to win the first round of sale-hungry consumers.

No. Black Friday to me will be the one day I will blackout the malls and stores.

There. Now I can have a happy Black Friday.

Lucinda Williams – Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone

Lucinda Williams - Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone

Like most people, I was late in discovering Lucinda Williams, though while they found out about her from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (1998), I arrived at the much later West (2006). In time to catch some of what would become my favourite Americana songs in Learning How To Live and Everything Has Changed.

Since then, I’ve gotten to know Lucinda through her blunt, to-the-point songwriting and gritty performances that range from soulful to classic country to folk rock. Her albums can be challenging to approach but given the time, she can puncture just the right spot. And I would never pass up the opportunity to see her perform live. Continue reading

Big Hero 6

We’re deep in the new era of big budget superhero movies that mixes smart plots with witty dialogue and plenty of action. The super era of super hero movies continues with Big Hero 6; Disney’s latest 3D animated picture starring Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter).

The story takes place in San Fransokyo, a seaside city that obviously fuses San Francisco and Tokyo into one. Continue reading

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler

The plot of Nightcrawler doesn’t sound particularly interesting on paper. It isn’t chasing a murderer or trying to hunt down a kidnapper, nor does it really have any mystery at all. It’s about a man who videotapes accidents to sell to local news networks in time for the AM news cycle. A nightcrawler.

And that might be why such a profession hasn’t been touched yet for a major movie. It isn’t mainstreamed and the job itself is almost too easy to use in a story. It practically writes itself.

But Nightcrawler goes beyond the predictable and focuses primarily on the character of Louis Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Continue reading

Taylor Swift – 1989

Taylor Swift - 1989

Taylor Swift has become known for a specific brand of pop/country that was all her own. She took the girl-next-door image and built herself around it with lyrics about the good and bad of relationships she’s had, doing so with innocence. She used her growing celebrity status, and subsequently the status of the men she was romantically linked with to her advantage, making her song lyrics the primary talking point about her.

She became a superstar singer known for her songwriting – kind of a rarity in today’s celebrity-driven culture. Love her or hate her, you knew a Swift song when you heard one. Continue reading

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