Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Our most recent taking in a movie, at our local cinema house, exposed a new wrinkle in the ticket buying experience.  Notwithstanding that my spouse and I were attending a less than half-filled show in the afternoon, we had to select our seats in advance, like choosing concert or airline tickets on a laptop screen.

Apparently, this has become de rigueur at least at some local screens in the last month or so.  One would have thought some warning or notification, if only for public relations sake, would have been justified.

We were told this procedure was an across the board requirement.  Where did this change emanate from?  The employee didn’t know.  It didn’t appear likely that anyone else working at the theatre on this Sunday did either.  So we proceeded to our selected location, in the relative sea of availability.

Of course, diagrams do not encompass the first hand reality of being there; so, to achieve greater logistical comfort, before the main attraction began, we moved further back.  We didn’t go back to re-register our seat selection.  We left it to fate that no one would come in later and demand our seats.

One of my concerns about this new system showed itself: the row we moved to had one or two seats blocked off; unlikely this would have showed on the register.  Couldn’t this sort of thing contribute to time wasted waiting to pick tickets for bad seats?

I contacted the movie chain via chat line.  Where did demand come from for reserving seats?  I was told that a (nebulous) number of customers were making this request.  Perhaps I should have pursued this more, as I’ve never heard or read of any outcry; but then, what difference would it have made?  As to why it applied even to low volume screenings, I received a mixed message, indicating that was to apply to certain screenings, not all – a policy not in line with what the cashier at our cinema complex said.

Based on my sister-in-law’s encounters, there may be more flexibility about seat assignment in Toronto than in Ottawa.  Whatever strings are being pulled geographically, their algorithms are difficult to deduce.

In any event, what’s next?

  • Gasoline retailers wanting drivers to set times for gassing up, so they can maximize inventory control
  • Customers reserving leakage-free packaging for purchases at a fresh meat counter
  • Booking seats in a doctor’s office in anticipation of long periods of waiting
  • Setting up a special driving lane for commuters impatient to keep traffic moving along, firmly and briskly
  • Arranging to keep someone at the other end of the line on hold for a change, when in touch with a service provider
  • Beer stores establishing a pick-up appointment system, so they only have to stock beers pre-ordered by customers
  • Highway traffic officers demanding texts from drivers planning to speed past their checkpoints, so they can have tickets ready
  • As an aid to congested dog parks, there could be private spots reserved, like little camp sites
  • There could be allocating of spots on park benches for those with the healthiest diet mix for local fauna
  • Perhaps most importantly, everyone should be developing their own reserves of patience to draw on, for dealing with episodes of undesirable, inscrutable evolution

Facing New Developments

Many of us have memories about tracts of land encountered over the years.  They looked natural, bucolic, perhaps even dreamy – largely because they were undeveloped.

Numerous city boundaries are examples of once-upon-a-time urban/rural landscape divides, where, subsequently, developments have caused diffusion of transition points; the ripple impact keeps expanding, so as to permanently blur any clear sense of dividing lines.

Canada’s largest city, Toronto, manifests this destiny.   When I lived there in the late 1970s, Steeles Avenue pretty much marked its northern boundary.  It was streets and sprawl up to this point, nature in charge beyond.  It’s now hard to imagine this ever having been the case, when one sees how much urban growth has pushed empty spaces many kilometers beyond Steeles.

Ottawa is a smaller city, but it has also come to the land use party.  Growth in the suburbs is one side of it.  But there are also times where areas within city boundaries can come up for rezoning; when approved, heretofore pastoral sections transform into nests of pavement, vehicles, and condensed human activity.

Sometimes the nature of a proposed development collides with a logical evaluation of its impact on an existing situation.

Such is the case with a project in the works in the south end of the city, near Ottawa international airport.  Moreover, it’s a foreseeable impact, wherein vehicle traffic overload is the main concern for not only local inhabitants, but also many commuters who flood the major nearby interchange on a regular basis.

Green space bordering the northwest corner of this intersection has been low elevation, vacant, vegetation filled land since the 1970s.  A recent application filed would see the pastoral setting vanish in favour of ‘new permitted uses’, promoted to include a hotel, luxury car dealerships, additional retail, and a school, in addition to a previously zoned retirement complex.  It’s noteworthy that project proponents are pushing for auto-based retail: this is a city advocating reduction of the use of cars; it’s an area not served in any meaningful way by public transit.  Even compromises for reducing the mix to include less traffic-based enterprises have not been seriously debated.

These new venues would have to be accessed through only one entry/exit, less than three hundred metres from the major intersection, already identified as a ‘high collision’ location.  How traffic flows would be impaired, and what controls would try to keep entry area safe, is left for conjecture – although the implications of added danger are clear.

The black cherry on top is that traffic is already easily plugged up during the day.

What doesn’t help is that neither of the proponents’ main responses is helpful: one, residents consider public transit, bicycling, etc. to ease congestion, notwithstanding the lack of transit for the near future; two, learn to live with the bulging congestion which will affect both the immediate main roads and nearby residential streets, the latter due to more drivers using them as by-pass routes.

Sometimes, just because city bureaucracy opens a door, it doesn’t mean developers should have free reign to run on through it with expensive, noisy, burdensome adult toys.

If the developers seem to have the upper hand in dealing with the city government in circumstances like this, perhaps there are a few strategies to help level the playing field:

  • File counter-zoning proposals which are more environment friendly, thereby getting support of those most likely to help delay resolution
  • Stage in person protests at developers’ own sites, so they can get a taste of the medicine they are hoping to dispense to commuters
  • Enter proponents’ site renderings in an arts contest, so their poor results will make them feel less confident
  • Compliment advocates on their communications’ skills, then set them back by questioning every single statement they make
  • Submit studies to the city planning department recommending they study overlooked studies about making recommendations

The next time someone asks, “What kind of a development is this?”, hopefully it will concern a plot change.


Among the truisms of government elections, and candidates’ behaviours, are that many of them are predicated on massage or sublimation.

Such as in the afterglow of Ontario’s provincial election June 7th

  • Concerns about exhibiting eco-friendliness are set aside once campaign signs start spreading through ridings like weeds
  • An elected government begins with two mulligans: one for being new, and one for blaming the previous regime for any inherited issue which proves truly unpleasant
  • Demand exceeds supply, i.e. there are more hands reaching out for reward than there are hands to do the rewarding
  • There are silver linings in any clouds of results, keeping in mind silver is a somewhat malleable metal
  • Coordinating a balanced, effective, cabinet requires no more skill and judgement than is required of a heart surgeon or an explosives expert
  • Other party leaders, seen previously as candidates for the ‘third degree’, suddenly as viewed as warm and fuzzy once the results are in
  • Commitments before the votes, expressed in detail or not, will reveal, under surreptitious stickers removed afterward, the writing between the lines
  • Delivering election night bromides with gusto makes up for having to say anything tangible or comprehensive
  • Once the dust settles, all can vocalize commitments to being ‘green’, by simple, but persistent, absorption of otherwise would-be Green party policies
  • Declarations of changing the ‘first past the post’ system of determining who wins will percolate once again and then go back in the reduced-for-clearance bin

Beer is not a beverage for everyone, and certainly not for all ages.

Its taste, while variable between brands, is an acquired one.  That said, it remains viewed by some as a rite of passage, and by many as simply a beverage to enjoy with lunch, after a hard day of work or strenuous activity, or simply to help while away time as an alternative to drinking wine or cocktails.

Its ultimate staying power is perhaps best summarized by a famous line from Archie Bunker in an episode of the TV classic comedy, All in the Family.  In it, he reminds wife Edith (and viewers), that you don’t really buy beer, you only rent it. Read the rest of this entry »

Many are those whose careers have been negatively impacted by being considered too outspoken. Especially when such speech rattles the cages of those in power, there may be consequences disproportionate to a particular issue raised.

Many examples through history illustrate this conundrum.  We don’t have to look past our current age to see this conflict play out. Read the rest of this entry »

So-called advances in education (as in, children not learning multiplication tables?!) notwithstanding, there’s plenty to be said for enhancing self-awareness the personal way, via introspection blended with own experiences, stories of the streets, etc.

The June edition of Psychology Today includes a list of skills which are likely to be only truly clarified, then absorbed, outside the classroom.  The key rewards for doing so lie in linking one’s vision with achieving life goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Some of us are old enough to remember that, before the end of the last century, there seemed to be momentum from supporters of Esperanto, promoting it as a universal language for our world.  Conceptually, this still sounds like a laudable goal.

Deservedly or not, nowadays one seldom (if ever) hears stories about it having impact. Read the rest of this entry »