Monday, February 20, 2012

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Roger Ebert has one of the coolest jobs in the world.  Imagine getting paid to watch movies and then either diss them or praise them or some combination of the two.  Where do you apply for that job?  How come I never see anything like that in the classifieds?

WANTED - Discriminating person to watch and critique movies.  You are a self-starter (meaning that you can drop a DVD into a player and press the "Play" button) with the ability to work under minimum supervision (although you can bring along a friend if you like) and have demonstrated excellent written communication skills (you have to be able to spell "masterpiece" and "travesty" and use both in sentences appropriately).  You are adept at multi-tasking (you may have to submit reviews for two or even three movies in the space of a single week) and can work quickly to meet deadlines.  If you agree that Francis Ford Coppola should have quit while he was ahead and retired after "The Godfather II" and can fathom the plot behind "The Fountain", please respond in writing to...

As sweet as it may sound, I'm sure there are some downsides to a movie critic's job.  For every "Shawshank Redemption" that you get to enjoy there are, no doubt, countless "Son of the Masks" that you have to endure and then attempt to critique with some degree of seriousness.  I suppose that a certain amount of hate mail from fan boys whose "all-time favourite most awesome and misunderstood movie ever" you had the poor sense to publicly shred is also an occupational hazard.  But, still, as cushy jobs go, this one has to rank up there.

There are other occupations which sound like pretty nice deals for those who are lucky enough to land them.  In the same vein as "Movie Critic", I always thought that working on the Quality Assurance team for a computer games developer would likely be a fun way to make a living.  I mean, you get to play computer games all day long!  What's not to like?  On the other hand, those games are, by definition, works in progress, so you're bound to find lots of bugs and things.  If you're an impatient gamer who gets upset the moment things don't work properly, this may not be your cup of tea.  Also, companies that develop games software are notorious task masters, often requiring their staff to work long hours in order to get those games finished and shipped in time for the Christmas market or some other sales deadline.  As with anything else, it's always possible to get too much of a good thing.

I speak from personal experience in this regard.  My very first job after graduating from college was with a software company that created educational games for younger children.  True, we`re not exactly talking about `World of Warcraft`here but I was still programming games of sorts for a living and I really did enjoy the work.  At least for a while, I couldn`t believe that I was actually getting paid to do this.  A few all-nighters spent trying to meet overly-ambitious sales deadlines soon cured me of my euphoria. 

Another appealing career, at least at first glace, would be "Male Porno Star".  Imagine making a living having sex with porno actresses!  It would be like being Charlie Sheen, only getting paid for it, and you could probably pick up extra cash on the side promoting penis enlargement products.  Where do you sign up for that job? 

I wonder if it ever gets old?  It would probably make maintaining any normal relationships somewhat problematic.  I don't know of too many women who are OK with the idea of their mates doing porno stars for a living unless, of course, your girlfriend was in the business as well, in which case you'd have to be just as open-minded about her doing it with other guys - in some cases at the same time that she's doing it with you!  Even if you reached an understanding about that stuff, would you ever have sex off camera just for the fun of it, or would it feel too much like bringing your work home with you?  Or what happens if you have to do a scene with an actress that you don't particularly like or that has annoying habits ("Oh, God, not Jenna Jameson again!  She uses her teeth!")

I`m afraid the sad truth probably is that even the best-sounding jobs can become something of a grind (no pun intended).  Except maybe for that dream Caretaker job that everybody was talking about around 3 years ago where you had to live on an Australian island for six months and blog about the experience.  I`m hard-pressed to think of too many `cons` for that one.  Unless it`s the box jellyfish.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I was, and still remain, a fan of The Flintstones.  I watched the shows at every opportunity during my boyhood years.  I'm certain I've seen every episode multiple times, and I own the first two seasons in the form of DVD boxed sets.  I still like to watch them from time to time.

I recently watched the episode entitled "Fred Flintstone: Before and After", which aired during the first season.  In this episode, Fred appears in a weight loss commercial for the "Fat Off Reducing Method", which extols the benefits of its product by offering the typical "Before" and "After" comparison.  Fred is mislead into thinking that he is to be the "After" model.  In fact, when the commercial airs, during a show called "The Happy Hour" ("sixty minutes of spine-tingling suspense guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat") there's Fred as "Mr. Before", with all his family and friends watching, much to his humiliation.

Incensed, Wilma threatens to sue the sponsor, report him to the FCC and slap his face.  To pacify her, the sponsor makes a deal with Fred, offering him one thousand dollars if he can manage to shed twenty-five pounds within a month.  Fred loses weight, makes some easy money, and the Fat Off Reducing Method gets some great publicity.  Everybody wins!

Fred agrees and the challenge begins with him stepping onto a scale on a televised weigh-in to record his starting weight.  As Fred mounts the scale, an official from the Bureau of Weights and Measures (if it had been the Bureau of Measures and Weights they could have called themselves the BMW for short, or maybe just "The Beemer") announces that Fred weights two hundred and twenty-five pounds. 

It was right then that I had one of those eye-opening moments of truth that we all dread.  I could stand to lose some weight myself.  In fact, the last time that I stepped on a scale, I weighed ... well, let's just say that it was more than two hundred and twenty-five pounds.  "Oh my God!" I cried, "I'm fatter than Fred Flintstone!  When did I get fatter than Fred Flintstone?"

Unfortunately, my exclamation was overheard by my daughter, who helpfully added "...and he eats freakin' dinosaurs!"  Jessica's very supportive like that.  Obviously, she still hasn't forgiven me for my previous post.  What goes around truly comes around.