Register Sunday | June 16 | 2019

The Promise Emporium

Your one-stop shop for New Year’s resolutions

I've never been one for making New Year's resolutions. You can't achieve my level of neurotic self-doubt by making half-hearted, once-a-year proclamations-it takes a daily cycle of unkept promises and subsequent self-loathing. Which isn't to say that there aren't some people who should make resolutions this January 1st. Since I happen to be an expert at finding fault with other people, I'll go ahead and spell it out for those among us who do not practice the self-reflection that behooves them.

Everybody listen up. Maybe, if we work together, we can get it right this year.

1. We, the product development people of the world, resolve to quit creating unnecessary, cognitively dissonant flavours and scents. This problem is out of control. The other day I was in the bathroom of an Italian restaurant in my neighbourhood and they had a can of strawberries and cream-scented air freshener. Strawberries and cream is not a scent. It's not even a flavour in its own right-it's two flavours that candy manufacturers have agreed on a weird synthetic version of, like watermelon flavour or banana flavour. Air freshener, as I understand it, is meant to evoke a fresher odour from a less poop-scented locale, like a spring rain or a floral fantasy or a cedar grove. Strawberries and cream is not an acceptable thing for air freshener to attempt to smell like. Other items with this problem are bubblegum-flavoured toothpaste, Mountain Dew Code Red, anything "blue raspberry," and cheddar beer Kettle Chips. Next year, no more.

2. We, the urban rained-upon, resolve to give it a rest with the golf umbrellas already. No umbrella is going to keep you as dry as a raincoat and a good pair of wellies, you inconsiderate asshole. Nobody likes you, not even the girl you are "chivalrously" keeping dry by shoving everyone else into oncoming traffic mud. Buy a fucking slicker.

3. We, the product development people of the world, further resolve to stop rebranding without cause, particularly by changing attractive, well-designed packaging to hideously ugly packaging. Soda companies, I'm looking at you. Take for an example the new Fresca cans. Not only have they introduced several bile-summoning new flavours (see resolution one, above), they changed the can from cute yellow grapefruit on a classic blue backgroundto something that has a horrible case of ringworm. It's like soda companies think we are dinosaurs and can only see products in the store if they've changed. As soon as you're adjusted to the new, slicker Diet Coke can, another shiny abortion of design comes along. Chip companies are nearly as bad about this. Consumers don't like change, nor will smooth edges and more swirly things trick them into buying stuff.

4. I, my cat Elliott, resolve to stop being such a whiny bastard. The little fuck wakes me up at least five thousand times a night. This has to stop.

5. We, the good people of the planet Earth, will stop being so mean to telemarketers, junk mailers and unsolicited email senders. Yeah, I know, standup comedy has taught us that we are allowed openly despise these people. We all hate the junk mail, the dinnertime phone calls and the annoying mailing lists. I understand that people feel their privacy is being infringed upon, and that this can be infuriating, but the thing is, telemarketers and such are real people, and their jobs are way shittier than yours (I'm excluding porn spammers and emailers of that ilk-I'm referring to the mailing lists you end up on for some arts organization that you don't remember signing up for). I promise. I work for a non-profit, and yes, we send out junk mail asking for money. I'm sorry. I'm not proud. But it's the only way we can get any funding, and it's how I put food on my table. It feels really shitty to spend hours opening envelopes filled with sand, pornography, swear words and uppity letters about what terrible people we are. I can only imagine the telemarketers have got it ten times worse. I know that shit is annoying, people, but let's all try and dig down deep and just ignore it. Don't send back that BRE full of pubic hair, just throw it away! Or better yet, send it back with your name and "please remove from list." Instead of screaming obscenities at that telemarketer or lecturing her on how she'd feel with her dinner disturbed, just hang up. Just delete the email. It only takes a second. Because I promise you, the people getting your anger aren't in a position to change anything about how their business markets. They just need a steady paycheck.

6. We, the network executives at television stations, will take our thumbs out of our asses. Recently, a friend who is brilliant but writes for a fairly middling TV show confirmed what I always suspected: most shows are stocked with bright, funny, wonderfully talented writers who are forced to turn out crap. Look at Patton Oswalt, a completely hilarious comic who works playing a dipshit on a show like King of Queens. Whoever's in charge of TV is taking a bunch of talent and turning it into less than the sum of its parts. This cannot continue. Arrested Developmentfinally gets the axe, but Trading Spouses lives on? C'mon, Fox! Even you should be ashamed of that.

This is in no way a comprehensive list of the changes that need to happen within the next year. I just thought it would be nice to have a few concrete ideas to build on.

Happy New Year!

Audrey Ference tries her darndest to keep up with what the kids are into these days. Her column appears every two weeks. Read other recent columns by Audrey Ference.