Not My Blog
Tuesday, October 31, 2000
Yet Another Ad Campaign that Makes Me See Red (excuse the pun): Tampax. (Sounds of mice clicking everywhere as my male readers hurriedly hit their "back" buttons.) There's a current campaign aimed at high school girls where the selling point is that Tampax tampons are so small, you can hide them in your hand, so you can leave your purse on your desk when you leave the classroom. Apparently, in Canadian high schools, if you take your purse to the washroom, you might as well wear a sandwich board proclaiming "Hey, kids! I'm menstruating!" All I know is, in my high school, leaving your purse anywhere was an invitation to get your cigarettes/wallet/lighter stolen. Just when I thought nothing could get any more inane than Tampax's last campaign slogan, "Tampax was there," featuring shots of nail polish bottles, marching bands, and beach parties--but not vaginas, no, we wouldn't want to associate them with those. Sigh.
Fempro commercials have always struck me as fairly stupid in the way they're presented. A natural cycle in a woman's reproductive system is treated as (a) a burden; (b) an embarrassment; and (c) a mystical experience best expressed with images of doves flying through the air. But I suppose it's that primal blood fear thang. A roommate and I once came up with a series of slogans for the genre, including "Gee, it's great to menstruate", "Bleeding from your vaginal orifice again? Try these!" and "Hey! Women menstruate. Deal with it." Oddly, we were not immediately offered jobs as copywriters.
Note to self: Jinglebell Run is on November 12th, not the 5th. I filled out my entry form last night, which clearly stated that forms were to be dropped off at "any Super Drug Mart location." So off I go to drop mine at the local SDM. The cashier looks at me: "What's this?" I show him the paragraph about entry form dropoff. I read him the words. "I don't know nothin' about that," he tells me. He calls the manager over. The manager informs me that they don't take the entry forms. I ask, "This is a Super Drug Mart, isn't it?" Yes. "But we don't take these forms." Dear Super Drug Mart Head Office: If you're going to be the major corporate sponsor of a charity fun run, you might want to inform all your outlets. In the end I took the form to a local running store, where the staff breathed through their noses and had two eyebrows apiece. No problem.
Monday, October 30, 2000
Thank you, Duane, for reminding me that I forgot to mention the retchably cute "Visiting Penguins" entry in the current VISA campaign. Nothing I want more than a credit card targeted by flightless aquatic fowl.
Is it true? Another blog among us? Rumours surface that a ring-tailed Central American mammal has begun a web journal. Excellent. This means that the majority of the best writers I know are blogging with abandon.
Those keeping track of my fun runs might be interested to hear that somehow I survived the Halloween Howl 10 km race this previous Saturday. My time was actually my best ever, at 1:03:41. (I'm aiming at a 1:00 time. Yes, it's slow. But I'm old. Shut up.) This was a great surprise, as I was wheezing like Darth Vader on a Stairmaster with a bout of asthma. I make a spectacle when I run at the best of times, so it must have been something to see the Purple One herself barking up both lungs on the hills. This weekend: it huffs, it jogs, it--jingles? Yes, the Jinglebell run. Dunno if it's a 5 km or a 10. I'll let you know.
Wednesday, October 25, 2000
Participaction: Get in the Action!
It just occurred to me: the original 63-year-old Swede, who could outjog a 26-year-old Canadian in those first Participaction ads in 1974, would be 89 years old this year.
And he could probably still wipe up the floor with most 26-year-old Canucks.
Jane Doesn't Get It: The VISA campaign that uses animals has never made sense. One: a man drops his wallet in a chimp compound at the zoo. The chimp makes eye contact, climbs up and returns the wallet to the bewildered man. Cut back to the chimp, who has kept the VISA card. And there is much rejoicing among the apes. Two: A couple on a picnic blanket, syrupily romantic. Ants sneak up and, ignoring the food, walk away with the VISA card. Three: the same man from the zoo is on safari. He stops to look at chimps. Remembering his last encounter, he checks to make sure his wallet (and credit card) is intact. An elephant's trunk snakes behind him and steals his VISA card.
Score: Animals 3, VISA, 0.
Moral: VISA gold cards are so great, everyone will want to steal yours. Yeah, that's comforting.
Tuesday, October 24, 2000
This house-hunting business...I just dunno. Desperately sick of renting though I be, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to visiting hovel after hovel in the search for the perfect abode. Besides, typically for me, I really like the first house I've looked at, which just happens to belong to a trusted and, dare I say, beloved, colleague. Could this be a problem? Will I be hesitant to haggle? Will I resent said colleague when house/yard repairs arise in the future? ("You could have told me about the house needing repainting every 20 years, man," etc.?)
Not a bit of it. I'm proud of never using friendship in a deal. And while I may love this colleague, it won't stop me from offering what I consider to be a fair price for the house.
Because I already know myself well enough to realize that this may be the one, assuming (and it's quite an assumption) that I can get a mortgage. I keep forgetting about the mortgage thingey. As my malaprop-prone friend Jean might say, such things are a mere baguette.
Short track, long-winded...
Saturday: Off to the Olympic Oval for volunteering at the World Cup Short Track Speedskating Meet. As a reward for my time, I am given a homely baseball cap with a logo "ISU HUSKY WORLD CUP." Too bad for you if you don't know that "ISU" means "International Speedskating Union." Also a pin, with the Canadian flag twinned to the Husky Oil logo (a dog, if that's not already obvious), and a travel mug. I have to rent a locker to stow all the goodies.
I spend the hours of 12:30 to 5:30 at the top of a staircase, directing people down to the stands at ice level. It amuses me to note just how many of them look down the approx. 21 stairs in absolute horror. Three times I am asked if "there's an elevator nearby." Twenty-one measly stairs! Now I used to be fairly huge, and am actually still pretty weighty, but even at my fattest I could still manage a few stairs without needing last rites. Participaction Canada seems to have dropped the ball somewhere back in the 1970s.
The speedskating was riotous, dramatic, dirty, and completely engrossing. The Canadians fared pretty well, although they got nipped in the finals by the Koreans and (excuse the inadvertent slur) Japanese.
Saturday evening I sped from the Olympic Oval, home to change into running togs, and then to the Eau Claire market, for the Ambulance Chase 10K fun run. The runners all carried glow sticks around the course, so it looked suitably spooky seeing these disembodied lights floating down the river pathways. In true fun run style, the course marshalls had a breakdown of communication, and I and several dozen runners were directed off course early in the race by an overeager policeman. We eventually learned that we'd run the course backwards, and had an extra .4 km added on. Quite hilarious, I thought.
Sunday: back to the Olympic Oval. This time I'm slated to guard the athletes' lounge. My heart leaps within my chest--beautiful athletes at close range! Quadriceps of titanium! Gluteals of gold!--but alas, it's not all it's cracked up to be. I'm stuck at the end of the tunnel, which runs underneath the ice, right in the heart of all the refrigeration units at the Oval. In effect I spent six hours in a huge cooler, beneath all the action. Still, I did get to meet a bunch of really swell athletes, and this terribly sweet Korean coach, about 90 years old, who gave me a pin and a smile. The only weird fly in the ointment was the other volunteer in the lounge, this 40-something woman who was hyperactive in a strange way. Nice enough, but she would fly up the stairs to the ice level to watch a race, gallop back down the stairs to the lounge, hooting and yipping, then come up and start chattering away to me. Then she'd stop almost in mid-sentence, and wait until I said something. Generally she'd interrupt me in a particularly good section of my book (I finished "Away" by Jane Urquhart), and since I tend to get engrossed in books, it would take me awhile to get my bearings. If I didn't answer her right away, or smile and concur with her excitement, she'd say breathlessly, "Oh, I guess I shouldn't bug you, you look like you're tired and cranky, sorry!" Actually I was neither, I just wasn't sharing her enthusiasm, since I hadn't seen the races. It was like sharing a meat locker with a caffeine-injected terrier with Tourette's Syndrome. After about 4 hours, I was literally commanding her to go upstairs and watch all the races, please, please just go upstairs NOW.
Upcoming races for me, Jane, Lakota surname "Run Like Faint Breeze":
In parting: Grant, Grant, Grant...I was afraid my musings about apostrophes would be construed as a gentle knuckle-rap. Not at all, my son. You may yet revolutionize English grammar. I, for one, would like to see the word "brang," the logical past tense of "bring," cleansed of opprobrium and given its due place in our spoken and written language.
Thursday, October 19, 2000
Flotsam, jetsam, continued:
Recent favourite line to describe something really, really bad: "A steaming five-coil stinker."
Why I like Garrison Keillor's writing: in his regular "Mr. Blue" advice column in Salon, I came across his description of a 'bad idea': "Like moving into a trailer in Houston in August and boarding the Rottweilers of recovering cocaine addicts."
A note on punctuation: I, along with my cartoon hero, Bob the Angry Flower, have long been obsessed with the inability of a great portion of the populace to distinguish between "it's" and "its."
To refresh your memories, "its" is the possessive ("the dog ate its dinner"), and "it's" is the contraction of "it is" ("It's the bomb, dude").
Yet I recall that George Bernard Shaw refused to use the apostrophe for contractions, resorting to using "dont" "cant" and "shant", among others. He felt no shyness about making his own rules. So since English contains many curveballs as it is, why not make an argument for using the apostropheed "it's" universally? It's counter-intuitive for English speakers not to add the apostrophe to the possessive. And since we make certain contractions carry more than one meaning anyway (e.g., "What's" can mean both "what is" and "what has", depending on use), why can't the meaning of "it's" be gleaned from the context?
I started off on this train of thought after reading some of der Splorpmann's writings, where "it's" is the house style. This is definitely not to insinuate that I think the author can't distinguish between the two spellings and merely cops out with an apostrophe. This is a man, after all, who can make George Bernard Shaw look as dim as a frosted 40-watt bulb on most days. I put it down to his mania for efficiency and logic.
Finally: I thought my expensive nap at the Cowboy Junkies' concert on Oct. 5 might have been caused by a sleep deficit and too much fresh air walking the dog beforehand. So I sat down with a CJ disc and slapped on the headphones. Whammo! Narcolepsy! As soon as Margo Timmins starts breathing mournfully into the microphone, I'm out like a light. Sorry, friend K., I know they're your faves. But could they, um, try even a change of tempo on at least one song? Please? Or maybe sing a little harmony once in awhile? Signed, callous Philistine.
Tuesday, October 17, 2000
An answer to Duane J. Wheatcroft's musings about HMS Ballyhoo:
Bad Man ask question:
Is new boat old, or old new?
Thus he wastes my time.
Ah. There is no conundrum so difficult that a haiku cannot trivialize.
The Banff Mountain Ekiden Relay Race, on October 14, was amazingly fun. I had appointed myself organizer of the two teams, Creative Pronators I and II (Not sure what the team name means? Well, our business serves the "Creative Pro", and pronation best describes what my feet do when I run - i.e., they roll to the inside - thus a clever pun is created on our industry and the sport of running). It turns out organization isn't my long suit. I forgot to tell the runners they had to sign in before running. I didn't give clear enough instructions on where to meet. And when everyone hadn't appeared by 10:00 a.m., as I had suggested, I began to flap like a palsied hen. Yet everything went off well, even though there was a slight hitch when G., the last runner on our second team, had not appeared by the time he was supposed to run. Like all good leaders, I had taken off by this time, running the last leg on the first team, and I didn't find out until afterwards what had happened to G. His car had died on the highway on the way to Banff, so he'd hitchhiked back to Calgary, found another car, and driven back to the mountains, found parking - not easy in Banff on any weekend, let alone a race event day - , then bolted over to the race start and off on his leg. Twelve kilometers and change, like a pro. As for me, well, I didn't plotz as previously forecast, but since my running style often gets confused with fast walking, let's just say that I ran like, um, a gentle breeze. But it was an incredibly scenic route, and the runners who passed me (all of them) were incredibly supportive, yelling out encouragements as they swept past. Then my terrific teammates had arranged to run up the final hill with me, cheering me on. All part of why the Ekiden relay is my very favourite running event in the calendar. Not to mention, they serve manna from heaven, a.k.a baked potatoes, at the post-race banquet. And one of our runners won a weekend's accommodation at a local mountain resort. Given that the usual fun run draw prizes are certificates for a free meal, or a discount on car waxing, this was quite the prize.
Wednesday, October 11, 2000
A warning sign of severe weirdness:
Being too shy and awkward to talk to someone you admire, so instead you make friends with the inanimate objects owned by this person. Saying hello to a car in the parking lot. Greeting a bicycle like an old friend. Tipping your hat to a brand of aftershave. Shee. I thought I'd grown out of it.
I'm not sure, not entirely, but I think I may have digested my Thanksgiving meal at long last.
Three days to go until the big relay race in the mountains. Have I trained properly? No. Did I end up with the most strenuous route? Yes. It occurs to me that the sentence "I really regret trading legs with Hildur" would sound very strange anywhere else but in the world of running. Am I going to plotz on Saturday? 'Fraid so.
Monday, October 09, 2000
It is Thanksgiving Monday in my country, and various rituals have been observed. Making the dinner wait while I superintend the gravy. The marshalling of the nieces and nephews around the table. The singing of grace (ending with "Johnny Appleseed, amen!"). The complete lack of appetite shown by the children. The abundance of sweet potatoes on my plate. The fact yet again it has not occurred that pumpkin pie should precede the meal, not follow it, but that I am the only one who feels this way. Staying up late to make turkey broth, which my sister-in-law tactfully freezes and then throws away when I've left for home.
A brief observation on fashion. On Saturday I was at the international airport, picking up my cousin. The flight preceding hers was filled with cowboys. At least that's what came through customs. Cowboy after cowboy clad in loud striped shirt, weathered Wranglers, pointed boots or ropers, and obligatory knee braces. Oh, and the ubiquitous hat. Now, I used to have one of these in my youth, and since my mother bought it for me, it was a pink felt cowboy hat. But that's not what made it ridiculous. It is my firmly held belief that there is no stupider form of headgear than the cowboy hat. Less than 1% of the cowboy hat wearing populace looks good in them. I live in Calgary, and every summer during the Stampede there are tens of thousands of them (hats) being worn downtown. Everyone looks equally silly. So far only Dwight Yoakam has been able to wear one without looking like a bozo. The basic shape is dumb, designed not to complement anyone's head.
End of rant. Time for another cargoload of food. It's been minutes, after all.
Friday, October 06, 2000
Grant, Splorp King, feels it worth mentioning that the foregoing blob did not mention Linda Blair or The Exorcist even once.
Tonight is my last night with Thelonious Arf Arf Get the Stick Get it Get it Who's A Good Boy No Bite Theo No Bite Beresh, the 6-month-old Labrador/Golden Retriever puppy of my colleague Bryce Beresh. I've been staying at Bryce's house while he's off pretending to attend a conference in New York, but more likely he's just hanging out at the MOMA or trying to get Rangers' autographs outside Madison Square Gardens. My routine has been something like this:
Thursday, October 05, 2000
Duane says that I am talking too much about The Exorcist. Okay, so prodded by yesterday's blog, I set aside time to watch it again last night. But I added a special dimension: nothing like watching a movie about demonic possession in the company of a missionary kid.
Well, technically, K. (aka "The Fearless") is not a missionary, but her parents were, some years back. Fearless grew up in Zaire and New Brunswick--the mission part was in Zaire--so her outlook on life is understandably colourful.
During the more graphic scenes in the movie, I looked over to see how Fearless was doing. After all, she was raised to believe that demons actually existed. But her only comment was "I think I understand where my housemate's coming from now."
And now, Duane, this one's for you: From the recesses of my memory comes a joke dating back to 1973: Question: What happens when you don't pay your bill to the Exorcist? Answer: You get repossessed.
Wednesday, October 04, 2000
This morning Linda Blair appeared on the national news show. She was talking about the re-release of The Exorcist, which got me to thinking about horror movies in general. (By the way, good on you, Linda, the head-turning hasn't aged you a bit!) I tried to vote on the IMDB site for what I felt were the top 5 scariest movies, but apparently one must be a "regular" voter. Whether this means a voter who votes regularly, or one with happy bathroom habits, I am not sure. But I couldn't seem to break into the ranks.
Well, nuts to you, IMDB. Here, for the sake of posterity, are the Top 5 Films That Scare Jane:
Furankenshutain tai chitei kaiju Baragon.
Thank you. I feel these oversights have long needed correcting.
Of course it is blizzarding today. It is Calgary.
Along with the first snowflake hitting the ground, witness the concurrent phenomenon known as "Multiple Fender Bender." In Calgary, you see, snowfalls are like orgasms. Once you've had one, you forget what it's actually like until you have another. And so each time there's the tiniest flurry, it's like we're driving in winter for the first time ever. We celebrate with a fanfare of sirens, scraping metal, and brake-stomping.
Time for a Movie Moment From the Extremely Opinionated: Chris Cooper is an underrated master of acting. I watched American Beauty again last night, and what makes it watchable a second time are Kevin Spacey and Cooper.
Tuesday, October 03, 2000
CUT TO: The Olympic Oval, the only covered speedskating venue in Canada.
CLOSE IN ON: A lone female skater, in her 30s, somewhat tubby, crouched over in what would be, on dry land, the final stages of advanced constipation--but which, on speedskates, is "standard" position.
She is gliding slowly, wincing somewhat as the lactic acid takes over her quadriceps. Tiny children on speedskates flash past; they resemble small figurines strapped to I-bars, but skate like the wind. Soon the speedskating coach approaches the woman.
Time to practise crossovers! Everyone over by the bumpers!
WOMAN (softly, to herself):
CLOSE-UP of two speedskates, seen from above.
WOMAN (VOICE-OVER, but she's speaking to herself):Nothing happens. The rest of the class has shuffled itself a quarter of a lap away from the woman. The coach skates back to her.
Lift right foot over left foot. I command you. Lift. Right. Foot.
Are you stuck?
No, merely paralyzed.
To recap: I decide, 20 years after falling in love with speedskating at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, to learn how to speedskate my own dumb self. To replicate this scene at home, take any reasonably sized domestic quadruped, attach speedskate blades to the bottom of its feet, and put it on glass-quality ice. Then roll film.
Monday, October 02, 2000
So it's this way. I spent Saturday in a "Fundamentals of HTML" course, where 30 hours of instruction were distilled into 8. Needless to say, we couldn't cover everything in detail. But I dove in headfirst and splashed about amongst the tags.
Perhaps this means I do have an online future after all.
Now to Sunday: early in the morning I took part in the annual Run For the Cure, in aid of Breast Cancer. The event took place on the campus of a local college, and thousands of participants and supporters were there. The event was divided into 5 km runners, 5 km walkers, 1 km runners, and 1 km walkers. Several colleagues of mine were also at the event, but only myself and the redoubtable JP ran.
At this juncture I would like to say that as much as I love dogs (my totem animal being the Labrador Retriever), I don't think they have any place in fun runs. I doubt they get anything out of it other than stress and confusion. Also, it's a pain trying to run around someone holding a dog on a leash. But most especially, I resent having to jump over or slide through dog crap (in my brand-new $140 sneaks) when I should only have to be thinking about finishing the race without dying.
Other observances: the oddness and irony of seeing several people smoking in the crowd; after all, this event was about abolishing cancer, so seeing people puffing away on known carcinogens was definitely weird. And adding to my lifelong list of trivial peeves is hearing someone say "I haven't trained at all lately, so my time is really going to suck" and then they still beat me by 5 minutes. Making it worse, beating me by 5 minutes when I had actually bested my previous 5 km time by 4.5 minutes.
More bloggy blather forthcoming. What hath Grant wrought?
Copyright © 2000-2014 Jane Farries
All blandishments herein are property of the proprietor. There you go.