Friday, June 25, 2010

Cineplex, why are you the worst, also please learn about comma splices

Cineplex and more specifically your consumer statistics points program, you are the dumbest.

I won't elaborate too much on unrelated incidents, such as Saskatoon's Cineplex Galaxy theatre's obvious conspiracy with the Impark lot across the street to give people tickets during movies when they have clearly paid and then make them spend 3 hours on the phone to get out of the ticket and then blame the wrongfully ticketed person for causing a hassle, or selling tickets to a broken version of Avatar that pauses in intense moments and then blames the customers for going to the show when they should have known it was broken (there was CLEARLY a 4-paragraph essay in 10-point font posted on the door of the cinema, obvi people are going to stop and peruse that instead of finding a seat at a sold out show).  OR the fact that "cheap" Tuesday is now regular price Tuesday with a "free" popcorn and drink - D00DZ do you know how long and slow the food lines are at Galaxy?  Of course you do which is why you realize that most people are just going to see the long lines and not get popcorn and a drink so you can just pocket the extra money that you don't have to spend on giving everyone a free popcorn.

But anyway those are things that happened to my friends and not me.  My complaint is pretty minor but still ridiculous enough to write about.  It's not so much what happened as how it's being dealt with in 2010.

It all started last week when I decided to buy advance tickets online for Toy Story 3, assuming it would be sold out for weeks.  (Surprisingly the non-3D Saturday matinee had about 30 people attending - it was such a good movie where were all the fans????)  I'd only bought tickets online one time previously and was annoyed because to get my Scene points (100 points per movie, 1000 points gets you a free movie) I apparently had to create an account on the site and then go into my account settings to enter my Scene number, but when I created an account there was nowhere to put in the number, THANKS WEBSITE YOU WERE REALLY EASY TO NAVIGATE.  So this time I was hoping they'd have fixed that problem.

Sure enough, this time I was prompted to enter my Scene number without even having to create an account - DUH this is how it should have been done in the first place, Cineplex software writers.  And also something cool, you could put in up to two more Scene numbers if you were buying tickets for other people (i.e. if you're getting two tickets, both people could get points which you can't do if you buy tickets at the theatre).  Finally, Cineplex had created an easy-to-use, efficient online ticket-buying system.

Until, of course, I entered my Scene number and the name on my card and was told that the number and name didn't match.  Ummmmm guys I am clearly looking right at my card and entering exactly what it says, your computer system is WRONG.  I quadruple checked and re-entered, but still got a message that the name and number were wrong, so I just skipped that part, forfeited the Scene points, and bought the tickets.

I know, 100 Scene points is not a big deal.  But Cineplex is super sketchy with keeping tabs on its customers, Scene card or not - basically if you pay with a credit card or debit card, your name and number is in their system with every movie you've purchased on that card.  A friend of mine was getting a refund on her debit card for a movie that she decided not to go to because the theatre was too full and when they swiped the card to put the money back on, the cashier informed her that the last movie she'd bought with that card (not counting that day) was Maid of Honor.  So ANYWAY I figure if they are keeping tabs on me, I better be getting something out of it, and that something better be a free movie for every $110 dollars I spend at their theatre.

We're getting to the really stupid point, I promise.  I sent an email to Scene customer service with a screenshot of the name and number I'd been entering into the website and the information about what show I'd bought tickets for (how many tickets, the theatre, the movie, the time),explained the problem, and asked them to double check their records as to what my Scene number was and please credit me the points I was owed.  I also included the confirmation number in the email AND SUBJECT LINE.

I received this email back a couple days later from a polite Cineplex robot:

Good day, 
Thank you for your  email. We need you to provide us with some more
information in order for us to look into the possibility of crediting
your account with the points.  Please provide us with as much of the
following as possible 
Theatre Name and Location:   
How many adult tickets purchased and child tickets purchased:   
For online purchases
Order Number:   
Booking number:   
For verification
Your address: 
Your postal code:   
Once we receive this info we'll be able to have the transaction reviewed
on your behalf. Should you have any further questions or concerns please
feel free to ask, otherwise you can always visit our website, listed
below, which has a complete listing of frequently asked questions that
may help with your inquiry.


SCENE Customer Service

Oh MAN you guys I already TOLD you ALL of that information, other than my address and postal code.  BTW what do you need my address and postal code for?  Obviously so they can collect the location statistics without having to give me Scene points, but I perhaps stupidly complied with the request - hey, if they are going to give me my points, they've already got that info anyway so it's worth a shot.

I got another email back a couple days later:


Thanks for your inquiry, we have initiated an investigation on your
behalf to Cineplex to have this issue resolved for you, we would ask
that you allow us 4-7 business days to complete this investigation.
Once this investigation is complete you will be contacted via the email
address in your account and advised you of the resolution. 

SCENE Customer Service

WHAT??????  FOUR TO SEVEN BUSINESS DAYS??????  Are you KIDDING me.  (Also, do you guys know what comma splices are, I don't think you do.)  You have all of that information, you have the booking numbers of the transaction, you have all the info you need to look at my account and see that no points were awarded for this transaction, HOW do you possibly need 4 to 7 business days to "investigate" what happened?  In the time it took you to send and read the emails you should have been able to enter just ONE of the pieces of info I provided you with into your database and bring up all of the transaction info.  Shouldn't you have?  Like seriously, when someone makes an online purchase does it just print out a piece of paper on your end that gets thrown onto a stack of other confirmations and deletes itself from your system so you have to hand-sift through the pile to find the info on my transaction?  Of course not because you are far too concerned with my purchase statistics.  If your high school cashier can instantly bring up someone's list of purchases at the theatre, why does it take people with access to ALL pertinent information 4 to 7 days to look into the situation?  Are you forming a task force for this investigation?  Do you need to go out and buy detective hats and magnifying glasses and fingerprint kits before you can get started?  I don't understand.

So anyway that's why I think Cineplex and Scene are the worst.  I'll be in Ottawa next week so I may not be able to instantly update my millions of readers with the dramatic finale, but a follow-up blog post will be in order when I return.  Until then, pay cash at the box office.  Or stop supporting this horrible corporation altogether.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Is Why You're Fat/Huge

One of the blogs I've enjoyed reading over the past couple years was This Is Why You're Fat.  I can't link it because it doesn't exist anymore.  If you haven't heard of it, in a nutshell it was a blog featuring pictures and descriptions of ridiculously unhealthy food, some actual menu items in restaurants and others obviously fan-created.  Think SNL's Taco Town sketch, in real life.

Anyway over the past couple months, posts on the blog had been pretty few and far between and a few weeks ago the blog was removed without explanation, other than a message from Tumblr that said it had been removed by the owner.  I did a bit of research tonight after remembering the blog and found some very vague answers on the blog's Wikipedia page - basically it sounds like the blog's co-creators were married/partners, the guy assaulted the girl, and my conclusion is that they had bigger things to worry about than continuing to maintain the blog together?

ANYWAY in case you were also a fan of the blog and miss looking at pictures of food that could probably give you a heart attack just thinking about it, an almost identical in content blog was started up shortly after This Is Why You're Fat's removal.  I'll be adding This Is Why You're Huge to my RSS feed!

Speaking of artery-clogging, when I was in Prague one of the popular pub foods was something called smazeny syr - fried cheese - basically a mozza stick the size of a large steak.  One evening it was served to us for supper as our only option.  With fries as a side. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Diary

For about 10 years, ages 12 to 22, I kept a private journal/diary pretty regularly. Mostly it was just teen and post-teen angst that was pretty embarrassing so last summer I had a diary-burning party with a couple of my BFFs and got rid of all the evidence of my angst. I may regret this move... but I definitely sleep easier knowing that all that written awkwardness is destroyed forever.

I did, however, keep my first journal. I got it in grade one when I was just learning to write and it ended with an entry about my most embarrassing moments in grade seven (one being that I walked in on a HIGH SCHOOL BOY who was changing in the costume room of a play I was in, OMG, he is going to tell everyone, actually, no 12 year old, he probably forgot it happened three seconds later).

In case you have ever thought, I know Robyn relatively well now but I wonder what kinds of things were important to her as a kid???? this blog post is going to change your life.

Let's take a look through a few pages of that first diary together.

The date is slightly cut off from this very first entry, but I promise it reads "Okt 11th." Note the phonetic lines over some of the vowels to give them a long sound.

You are clearly wondering, did you ever GET to jump in the leaves? Read on.

You may notice by this point all I really wanted to do was jump in the leevs and not worry about staying in the lines with my printing or use phonetic symbols. Also, might I add that I was SIX years old here? Genius child.

Let's skip ahead a year or two, to an exciting family vacation to West Edmonton Mall...

The riveting first page reads, "Today we went and saw the goldfish. People are poisoning them by putting money in their pond. We are looking at the boats. Somebody is making one move. Now two are moving. The two boats that are moving look the same."

So... that was kind of a let-down. Excitement abounds in this next 3-page entry:

And that, readers, is the true life story of how Brehanna, Kristen, Allyson, Megan, and I saved the forest from two seven-year-old boys with a hacksaw.

You're probably thinking, that's great, these stories are cute, but where is the depth of the Robyn I know and love today? Answer: here it is.

In case you think you are reading it mistakenly: "Counting all the autographs in both 2 autograph book I have 52. Plus one more on a (sic) peice of paper shaped like a pig. 53 in all"

Next, a Christmas miracle:

4 trolls! But a ridiculously juvenile toothbrush. MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT.

Remember when I told you I was really good at drawing? Here is more proof.

Marc H, the above is for you...

The black furry thing is labelled "sloth bear" and I am pretty sure a witch's hat is not an animal but who is really keeping track here.

And finally, before things started getting too pre-teen gossipy to share, I luckily included the plans for a great invention. Please recognize that I'm taking a huge risk by posting this idea on the internet for anyone to steal....

Voila! There you have it folks, a deep insight into my 6-10 year old mind.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Parks and Recreation

I just watched Season 2 of Parks and Recreation in 3 evenings. It is my new favourite show.

A couple years ago, before the concept of the show was really defined, there were rumours that it to be an Office spinoff, which terrified me. Please, do not ruin my favourite shows with lame spinoffs. So I was really happy to hear that it had gone from "Untitled Office Spinoff" to "Untitled Amy Poehler project" to a similar concept to The Office in terms of being mockumentary-style revolving around a group of people who work together, but this time in the parks department of a small city in Indiana.

The concept sounded really promising and I watched the 6-episode first season but decided not to continue watching into season 2. It was okay, relatively funny and had promise, but there was nothing really calling me back. It wasn't as funny as The Office or 30 Rock so I just stuck with those two Thursday night standards and left it at that.

Recently though I read somewhere that it had improved immensely from season 1 to season 2 so I gave it another chance. I'm so glad I did!

It's been a while since I saw the first season but I remember Amy Poehler's character being sort of a female Michael Scott, but more unlikeable. She was basically incompetent and not respected by the people who worked for her. In season 2 though her character developed into someone much more likeable and ridiculously good at her job. She's still extremely quirky, but it's no longer unrealistic that she would have friends or be able to have the job she does. The rest of the characters have also become equally awesome.

What I really liked about season two was feeling emotion for the characters. Not quite in the same sense as how I've teared up for some of the more important Jim and Pam moments on The Office, but still more than I've felt for sitcom characters in a while. I still love The Office but P&R was better this season at making me feel something for its characters.

Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE shows with consistency and running gags, especially when those running gags aren't explained in a flashback or something - it feels like an inside joke for fans of the show. P&R introduced a lot of hilarious ones in season 2. If you give the show a try, remember these words: Duke Silver. You will pee your pants.

I was really sad to find out that it's not coming back until January as a mid-season replacement for something NBC inevitably cancels. NBC, it scares me a lot that so many of my favourite shows are in your hands because you suck at making smart decisions with your programming. I miss it already and just finished it last night. Dare I say... I might miss it more than The Office and 30 Rock? It's really that good you guys. I promise.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Blue Box

Here's another home video clip of me, my sisters, and my cousin attempting one of those "turn off the camera to make it seem like someone disappeared!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" "tricks."

In case you have trouble following the "plot," allow me to help you out. First, two little girls get into THE SAME Rubbermaid. What??? How do they fit in there? Then I flex my 9 year old girl muscles to show that I am really strong, and pick up the box and walk away with it. Then, while I am out of the room putting dolls in the box, my grandma is practicing her line dancing. Then, I come back and there are dolls in the box... the viewer is supposed to believe that the little girls have turned into dolls but clearly I just put them in when I was out of the room... not the best thought-through illusion. Anyway then the dolls turn back into kids and the two girls come out of the box (HOW did they both fit in there?????). Then all of the actors and one of the production assistants bow.

The backstory behind why I produced this amazing video is as follows. A year or two earlier, on a rainy weekend afternoon, my dad had the idea to create a similar video but with much higher production value (i.e. using a tripod and not having the camera shut off while people were still in the shot so you actually couldn't tell when the camera turned off and on). As kids, my sisters and I (especially me though) ALWAYS dreamed of someday appearing on America's Funniest Home Videos and this might just have been our ticket to 30 seconds of fame. It was actually a good video, at least good compared to this one. However as we were just wrapping up filming (I know a lot of film production phrases BTW) the tripod fell over and the camera broke.

My parents took the camera to Sears to get fixed and it WAS fixed in about two weeks, however the tape with the video on it had been in the camera and the Sears peeps took it out and lost it. I was devastated and over the next few years tried to recreate the illusion but I think the first time was the charm - the family never could get excited about making another video and our chances to be featured on AFV were lost forever.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Today my sister and I drove out to Humboldt where our parents live to do some stuff. On the way, as we were driving down the highway, we saw a little bird just standing on the shoulder. As we came closer to the bird I started wondering when the bird was going to fly away, because, being someone who knows a lot about birds, I am pretty sure that birds usually fly away when cars get within 5 feet of them. BIRD FACT.

So anyway the car got closer and closer to the bird until we were about 15 feet away. Suddenly the bird, which had previously been having a leisurely stand on the shoulder, leaned forward with a purpose and booked it into the bushes at the side of the road. Possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

I didn't know if my sister had also observed this but we both burst out laughing and didn't stop for a very long time. This dumb little bird, suddenly leaning forward and sprinting into the bushes. A MS Paint instant replay:

Did I mention I am really good at drawing? I am really good at drawing.

So ANYWAY maybe you had to be there but today a bird made me laugh a lot.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Mystery of the Expanding Face

Okay so, I recently spent two weeks in the Czech Republic on a geography field course. Most of the time was spent in Prague with a day in Vienna and another few days in and around Znojmo (small-ish town in the southern Moravia area of Czech). It was a pretty great time BUT that is not what this entry is about.

Probably the worst thing about the trip was that in major cities in Europe, they make you PAY??? to go to the bathroom! Even at McDonald's sometimes! Like 50 cents Canadian or 25 cents without toilet paper in the stalls (thanks, Prague metro). Or sometimes even more, for example this awesome (not actually) bathroom in Vienna:

The Toilet of Modern Art. Surely this was to be a bathroom like no other, right? Wrong. It cost 0.60 EUR (over 75 cents CAD!!!) to use and was the most crowded, dirty, ugly bathroom of the entire trip (even worse than the one with no toilet paper in the stalls). Ugh worst.

So anyway, having to pay to use the bathroom + public bathrooms being really hard to come by + holding up the entire group of 14 people if I had to go to the bathroom and we weren't stopped = most of us not drinking very much during the day for two weeks. Luckily the weather wasn't too hot so somehow we got away with it without any major side effects...

...other than the third last day of the trip, when we had taken a 3 hour bus ride from Znojmo to Prague first thing in the morning (no bathroom on the bus, no stops), dumped our luggage at the dorms in Prague and hopped back on the tram all within about 25 minutes. We then went to a restaurant for lunch where I drank juice instead of water (no such thing as free tap water either), which went right through me and I had to hold up the group while I followed bathroom signs up a hill which led to a cemetery and no bathroom. I didn't drink anything else until the evening when we got back to the dorms in the late evening and I realized that my lack of water intake was probably not healthy so I had a couple glasses of water.

I caught a glance of myself in the mirror shortly after and basically did a double take - something didn't look right. My eyes seemed closer together and my face was almost fat! Okay not actually "fat" by comparison to other people but I normally have a very thin, oval-shaped face and my head looked really round. Compare Prague-me on the left and normal-me on the right:

No one would ever say I looked fat of course but it's just not my natural face shape and it was really unsettling so suddenly have a different face shape!

Eventually one of my roommates helped me figure out that I was probably dehydrated and retaining water. Not good! I downed 1.5 L of water in the next couple of hours and within a day or two my face was back to normal. Drink water, people. Don't let this happen to you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Food News

This morning I went to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market, mostly looking to buy a small spearmint plant, but unfortunately all I could find was applemint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint (???), gingermint, peppermint, and maybe another obscure variety but no spearmint. Oh well. I left relatively empty handed, except for some sort of cranberry bun-like thing which promised to be "Bread Like No Other"... it was pretty good anyway.

The BEST part though was getting to try a sample of coffee-braised beef short ribs from a new restaurant that is going to be running a few nights a week at the Farmers' Market during the summer. OMG it was seriously amazing and I can't wait to check out the restaurant. It's called Cultivate and is completely staffed and managed by a group of culinary students, with most of the food supplied by Farmers' Market vendors. LINKLINKLINK

In other food news, last night I checked out Schryer's Smoked BBQ Shack (warning - doesn't work in Firefox) on Millar and 51st. How long has it been open? It sounds like a couple years but I only just started hearing about it over the past couple months. Anyway, three smaller-appetite girls shared the "Smoked Out Sample Platter" consisting of (source:

- 1/3 lb of hickory smoked pulled pork
- 1/3 lb of hicory smoked beef brisket
- 1 quarter piece of hickory smoked prairie pride chicken (thigh and drum attached)
- 1/2 rack of hickory pork side ribs
- Large portion of skin on fries
- 2 pieces of Schryer's home made corn bread with butter
- 2 sides of Schryer's home made coleslaw
- 2 fresh baked buns

We forgot to take an after picture, but here's the before, on a platter that basically took up the whole table:

All that was left at the end were some fries, half a bun, a bit of cornbread, about 1/4 of the pork and brisket, and a bit of coleslaw. Recommended! Also their in-house smoked cheeses, of which they provide samples, were quite good too and actually probably better than I thought since I was trying it after eating a million pounds of meat and was so full and didn't really want anymore food anyway.

Wooooooo anyway you guys should go to these places!

Friday, June 11, 2010

These rollerskates will do the trick

Over the past few months I've been digitizing a lot of old home videos through a service provided through Walmart. About 10 years ago my sisters and I used to watch these videos all the time until our Beta player finally broke and we lost the VHS tape to which we'd transferred a bunch of the videos. So, watching them again now, a lot of what we're seeing is pretty familiar (but still so awesome) but none of us were expecting this 30-second bit of hilarity that was randomly squeezed in between two more "important" (birthday parties?) clips on one of the tapes.

So many bad ideas.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Heidi Montag Contest Prize

So listen, I never expected for this to happen. I never watched Laguna Beach or The Hills when it was in its "prime" (I'm not sure such a horrible show warrants the word prime without quotation marks), but maybe because I don't have any drama at work or school because I'm not involved in either I have been watching this season. In my defense though I mostly watch it to see the characters (that's what they are, they're not real, it's so scripted) get lambasted on The After Show by Jessi and Dan.

Last night I watched the latest Hills episode, which honestly was actually so lame. I maybe watch because I am just so incredulous that these stupid, stupid girls actually welcome their reputations being tarnished like this, by behaving so horribly on a reality show for the world to see. I know it's not "real" but still, to me I question anyone's character who would act like that on TV and allow their name to be associated with people of such low morals and no substance. But anyway that's beside the point.

The point is actually really hilarious, not just my cliche rant about reality TV stars. If you follow pop culture at all you may remember this absolutely terrible "music video" featuring Hills star Heidi Montag:

(Unrelated but sort of related note - apparently Heidi Montag's debut album sold LESS THAN A THOUSAND copies in its first week. Ouuuuch.)

So anyway for whatever reason, maybe to get people to listen to her music or something I don't know, Heidi Montag held a music video contest promising the prize of an iPod engraved with a personal message from Heidi. Jessi of The After Show entered as a joke and of course, won.

Last night was the big prize reveal, as Jessi had brought the package she received from Pratt Productions to open for the first time on the show. The suspense grew as Jessi and Dan struggled to open the cardboard FedEx box. What would the message be from Heidi herself? What kind of iPod? Eventually, all was revealed when the box was opened and a tiny iPod Shuffle bearing the engraving "Heidi Montag Contest Prize" was displayed to the excited crowd.

I think I laughed for about five minutes straight. The reason why I've never been into reality shows, besides the fact that they basically want to make me gouge my eyes out, is that I don't like that these shows are blurring the line between the reality and fantasy lives of the people on them. Is Paris Hilton actually as dumb as she appeared on The Simple Life? Could Lauren Conrad actually get a real job based on her own merit and qualifications? Are Heidi and Spencer actually as tacky as they appear on The Hills?

Last night though, at least one of those questions finally got an answer.

Numba One

Hey d00dz, I have a blog now! I used to have one on my MSN space when I used MSN regularly but only about 2 people read it (one being me?) which might happen again here but that's okay. I tried to start a grammar blog last summa as well but after about a day it proved too tiring to keep up. Hopefully this one will not suffer a similar fate.

Right now I am at an interesting/not interesting point in my life. I finished my degrees in engineering and math in December and have been taking a bit of time off to figure out what my next step should be, applying for jobs that seem interesting along the way. My time off has been pretty okay but the lack of moneyz is starting to hurt and I also just really want to feel like I'm doing something important and meaningful again, so that's what I'm looking for in a job. I've got a few weeks of fun work lined up later in the summer doing science camps in remote areas of Canada which I'm really looking forward to but after that it's time to put more time and effort into the job search and hopefully end up with something challenging and meaningful that I enjoy.

Lately I am interested in a lot of different things which I hope to write about in future entries, like successful attempts to make homemade crackers and beef jerky, cake decorating, trying to grow vegetables and herbs in planters in my front yard, traveling and weekend trips, watching videos of myself as a nerdy child, and reading. But also sometimes things happen like my bike tire busting at a gas station two km from my house, trying to make breadcrumbs in the blender and spilling them all over my floor, falling down the stairs in the catacombs in a small city in the Czech republic, and sometimes I even watch reality TV :( I blame the inevitable boredom that unemployment sometimes brings...