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Friday, November 30, 2001
Up to the hospital last night to check in on Jackie and to drop off a card that, currently, she can neither hold nor read. I don't know what kind of industrial-strength morphine she's on, but it was extraordinary. Though she looked like she'd had a thorough going over by a band of hockey goons, she was still smiling as brightly as she could. And though our conversations didn't exactly make sense all the time -- at one point we started off talking about Christmas and then segued into Jackie talking about the importance of having a really good washer and dryer [hear, hear!] -- it was still a huge relief to see that she really will be okay after all.
Off tonight to see a production of Handel's Messiah, which I'm pretty sure is not the sing-along version. I went to one of those once, in Vancouver. Everyone mumbles along, then breaks exuberantly into the "Hallelujahs," then mumbles along till the end. Interesting, but not as campy as, say, the sing-along Sound of Music, and therefore not as fulfilling as the conventional concert.
Thursday, November 29, 2001
Fisherman's foul-up: Check out the Fisherman's Friend web site for further proof of declining standards in spelling and accuracy. I'll say it again: "effect" and "affect" do not mean the same thing.
Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Afternoon Bemusement: So I head to the convenience store to get something fizzy to drink, and while browsing the aisles, I note that there are new flavours of toaster pastries out there [I think they're Kellogg products but I can't remember exactly]. Anyway, as I read the names, I thought how unappetizing they were in general: Oozing Apple. Gushing Cherry. Squishy Strawberry. Perhaps the manufacturer was going after that elusive forensic pathology demographic. All I want to know is, what's next? Sucking Chest Wound Chocolate? Weeping Wildberry? Suppurating Cinnamon? Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Update: Jackie is out of danger. A few broken ribs, a cracked pelvis, a suspected broken ankle, and panoramic bruising, that's what she's been handed. A true "Ab Fab" fan, she's currently experiencing "total sensory deprivation and backup drugs", or so visitors report. Pats and Eddie would be proud.
My problem with current editorial cartoons, to which I am helplessly addicted, is their depiction of Afghanis. I can't help thinking it's bigotry under the guise of art. And I'm not alone. Read Tom the Dancing Bug for his view on the current trend: "Ethnic caricatures are acceptable in service of the war effort."
Thank you, Captain Pleonasm, for helping to capture another offender. "Advance reservations," indeed! [Note: "Pleonasm," n. the use of more words than are needed to give the sense (e.g., see with one's eyes).]
Yesterday morning, while preparing to be very late for work, I had the radio on. I heard the report of a bus/vehicle crash east of Calgary in the hamlet of Conrich, on Range Road 282. "Gee," I thought, "that's right near my friend Jackie's farm. Hmm." This morning I found out that Jackie was the driver of the vehicle. She's in critical condition in the hospital. Back when we used to work together in legal publishing, Jackie had a reputation for not having the greatest luck in the world -- an ironic situation given that she has the gentlest soul and a heart the size of a galaxy. And now, another tragedy to get through. The thing is, she *will* get through it, and carry on being the nicest and friendliest person around. That’s the miracle of her. Anybody else would be holed up in bitterness, looking on life with suspicion and cynicism. But Jackie beams on.
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Somewhere in the United States there lives a man who was blessed with the gift of a deep, slightly husky, mellifluous voice. Perhaps he toyed with smoking in his teenage years. Perhaps he gives in to the odd glass of cognac while singing Russian ballads in a smoky after hours club, all the better to add richness and just a tinge of bitterness to his voice. Perhaps he is really rather an unremarkable man in every other aspect. But for some reason, he does every single voice-over for every single movie trailer produced in America.
Well, that's my theory, anyway.
Another slice of hell rides into town:
Dear Jane: [NAME DELETED BY REQUEST] from Dale Carnegie called and said they could do a complimentary 90 minute Motivational Workshop. This would give you a clearer idea of what Dale Carnegie is about. Some of the topics to be touched on are What makes success, Memory enhancement skills, Tools to get in stride with people. It is an interactive workshop and she says if nothing else you will have fun and be pumped for the day.
I know what Dale Carnegie is about: taking away my money and wasting my time. I particularly liked the tone of this e-mail message, which implies that I'd asked them about a complimentary 90-minute workshop. And somehow "you will have fun" reads like an order, not a statement.
Huh? Last night I saw a commercial for that fiercest of throat lozenges, Fisherman's Friend, [Altoids? Hah! Ju jubes in comparison. Great ad campaign, though] and was puzzled by the tagline: "They Effect You." Hmm. Grammatically correct, no doubt, but do they mean that FF lozenges cause you to exist or occur? That would be the OED definition of the verb "effect," which, if it were meant that way, would also indicate a fair amount of hubris on the company's part. Or perhaps the hapless copywriter didn't bother to learn the difference between "effect" and "affect," which is just shameful.
Monday, November 26, 2001
Well, “Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace,” a.k.a. “Another Expensive Nap for Janey,” was on television last night. Boy, I remember when we used to have to wait *years* before a blockbusting movie would play on television. Those were the days. Enough has been written on this movie in the last two and a half years that everything’s probably been said already. You either like it or really, really, really hate it. Sadly, even if I wanted to slam the movie, the definitive slam has already been written by that bugger Lileks, who has also given me a new favourite saying: “krep krep krep krep krep.” So: I know it's pointless and I shouldn’t bother, but here I go. This is why I hated The Phantom Menace, and fell asleep yet again trying to watch it: because whereas the first Star Wars movie created a world and a society unlike our own, preserving only universal human characteristics among its human (and humanoid) characters, Phantom Menace was merely modern day human life on Earth, translated into rubber masks and funny clothes. I mean, come on, a car race with colour commentary doesn’t automatically become science fiction/fantasy just because, in this case, the announcer and colour commentator share a body, and the cars are replaced with gangly pods. There was no imagination behind that scene, no wonder-filled moments, and no humour we haven’t seen before. It’s simply “Cannonball Run” with unlikely machines. Anyway, a good nap was had, until I snorted myself awake, badly startling the cats, and went back to reading the highly imaginative and transportingThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the book I was reading -- and frequently disturbing Fearless with much chuckling and outright honking at passages therefrom -- in Banff.
Writer wins argument, to no avail.
Client: It's "Banff Springs Jewelry."
Writer: Actually, it's "Banff Springs Jewellery."
Client: Okay, okay, "Banff Springs Jewellry."
Writer: No, "JewellERY, L-L-E-R-Y," and incidentally that's what you have on your web site.
Client: It's LLRY. Period.
Writer: .
Proof goes to printer. Writer goes to Banff for holiday party and, while there, takes side trip to see the infamous store sign, "Banff Springs JewellERY," and feels smug for oh, about 10 seconds, then gently suggests to self that getting a life might be a noble ambition.
No, I didn't go to the Goodbye EyeWire Party, because (a) I wasn't officially invited, and although in normal circumstances that wouldn't stop me for a second, (b) I felt it might be hypocritical, seeing as I haven't lived through the past six months of head office inanities. So I couldn't pretend to know what they were going through, and besides, I'd already said goodbye to EyeWire back in February. Also, I was sick with a cold. But I'm sorry I couldn't see the friends that I made during my four years with the company. It was once a great place to work, and no matter what the business reasons, a revenue-overachiever like EyeWire doesn't deserve to be pulled apart like this. Lightbulb: this attitude may be why I'll never make the front cover of Forbes magazine.
Highlights of My Company's Holiday Party
  • The first ever Founder's Award is presented, and I note that the trophy has been sculpted by Jeff DeBoer, with whom I used to be fairly close, seeing as I worked with his then-wife Debbie for 8 years. I also own quite a few pieces of jewellery he's made, including a custom-designed silver ring. Jeff's an incredible artist, but I have to say that the trophy gave me pause: it's a bas-relief of a hillside, with an exquisitely sculpted and cast human figure pushing a large sphere up said slope. Sisyphus, in fact. The Founder's Award is supposed to celebrate individual contributions to the company's success; I'm not sure if Sisyphus, condemned for eternity to roll a boulder to a hilltop, then watch it roll back down, only to push it back up again, is the best analogy for success. Mind you, if you read much Camus, you'll know that Sisyphus represents the essential human spirit: so what if the ball rolls back? We still made it to the top, we had the brief but intoxicating triumph of that, and we'll have it again. Hmm. Okay, okay...maybe Sisyphus isn't a bad model for the award, if you believe that. Just that the eternal damnation aspect caught me off-guard.
  • Staying in the Banff Springs hotel really is like staying in a castle...a particularly confusing goddamned castle at that. I got lost on no less than three occasions when trying to find my room, hidden far off in the Tudor wing, each time having to go outside in the cold to re-orient myself. But finding my way back from the party, long past midnight, quite hammered, was easy. Note to self for future use: When lost, just inhibit conscious mind and let lizard brain take over.
  • Dancing in heels, and dancing like hell besides, is not recommended when you only wear heels twice a year. But the band, The Fabulous Hipstones, was great, and it was the only party I've ever been to where everyone danced the whole night through. The only people not dancing at any given time were those people who were trying to find their drinks, or were out of breath.
  • Saturday morning, 8 a.m., I awake to knocking at the door. I make sure I'm wearing clothes of some sort, and stumble over to the door. It's Housekeeping; the woman takes one look at me, backs away involuntarily, and hastily says, "Um...we'll come back." I catch sight of myself in the mirror; somehow my lipstick has transferred itself to my eyelids.
  • Fearless comes to Banff and hangs out at the hotel with me; we read books in an ornate lounge and are enjoying ourselves fully until, horrors, a sewer main breaks. No, wait, it's a cigar smoker 10 feet away. We try to ignore it (actually, I'm the only one complaining), but soon it's too horrible for words and we have to leave. Then I teach Kirsten the intricacies of the card game Lambsey, and she has the bad manners to beat me, almost, until the last hand.
Driving home in a blinding storm is always a good way to ensure you stay awake at the wheel. Wide-eyed awake. Bowels-clenchingly awake. And oh, there is nothing like the pleasure of seeing, in the ditch, the assholic 4X4 that sped past you minutes earlier, blinding you with slush and ice. And seeing the Mounties talking to the driver of the truck, with ticket-writing implements in hand.
Friday, November 23, 2001
A much-needed chuckle was sent to me by a colleague today, courtesy of Seattle's own The Stranger. Want to know how the Dalai Lama feels about a crucial punctuation mark? Now you can find out . [Note: you'll have to scroll down to see the Dalai's advertisement.]
Off to the mountains again, this time to Banff, where my company is throwing a big Holiday Party/25th anniversary/Retirement of Partner bash at the schmancy Banff Springs hotel. It sounds like an unbelievable deal until you realize that the hotel is one of our clients, so the company's probably getting a killer deal on accommodation, but it's still a pretty amazing affair. And what have I packed? Frilly girly clothes, of course. And two inhalers, ibuprofen, eye drops and lozenges. Last weekend's sojourn with the nieces and nephews, a.k.a. the snot-bombs, has left me with a nuisance head cold. Sigh. I really *have* teo get back to running regularly, since it makes me invincible to viruses.
Well, I may as well tell all: I'm no longer taking part in the 2001 Honolulu Marathon which I used to yap on about in the spring. After buying the condo, I couldn't afford the $3,000 for airfare and accommodations. That's the official excuse. The truth is that I never gave the training regime my full attention, and soon lost confidence entirely. Ah, well. I'm like that sometimes. Anyway, the people who did sign up for the Marathon are now forced to kick in extra cash, since the original booking was done through Canada3000, which is now, so to speak, four-in-the-air. Now all the runners are out of pocket for the original airfare, and are forced to buy tickets from Air Canada for a lot more money. In other words, a disastrous turn of events, especially so late in the training regime. I simply wouldn't have had the money. Then again, I'd be in great shape. Oh, ditherance...
Thursday, November 22, 2001
Back from the incredible memorial service for Michael. That's the most beautiful I've seen. And that's the way to do it: just love and laughter and sorrow and human community. No unnecessary side trips into religious explanation. Dignified, and overflowing with love. I hope it will sustain Drina and Desmond for the rest of their lives.
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
"When I met you in the restaurant / You could tell I was no debutante." Ahhhh...there's nothing better on a busy afternoon than a visit to Blondieland. I've been struggling for what seems like years to find a nice way of saying "rental pants" for a ski brochure, and it's comforting to know that, somewhere back in the late 70s, someone wrote worse than I do now.
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Mad Dad mayhem! So the topic of distant dads came up the other day (I didn't start it, I swear, really I didn't), and a very good friend of mine shared her tale. Her father, who resides in Vancouver, regularly visits her brother and sister, both of whom live with their families in Toronto, but has yet to visit her in Calgary. When she asked if he'd like to drop by some time, he replied, "I'll come when I can visit my grandchildren." That was two years ago. Considering D.'s a lesbian, she's not exactly expecting the old man to pop by any time soon.
Overheard at lunch: "You know what's really sad? If you get rid of a lot of the hair and the beard, he's actually a really good-looking guy. Those eyes and that smile...he's really quite handsome." [Speaker, female, is holding a copy of The Calgary Herald, pointing to a early file picture of Osama Bin Laden.] Yeah, there are many possible comments that spring to mind here...but, ultimately, would they make any difference? I doubt it.
A Familiar Chord strikes yet again: Thanks, Grant, for making my list o' blogs a reality.
And to my Australian friends, a clarification: The Sydney Opera House is not in and of itself a f*ing f*er, but the building of it certainly is. Don't take my word for it; even old Jorn Utzon threw down and left before it was complete. Hah! Wienie! Try making it out of dough.
The Great International Online Gift Swap: Found it through a link at -- and it's not too late to sign up. I know what you're saying to yourself, you're saying, "But Jane: you are famous for being the least Christmassy person in, well, Christendom. What gives?" And I can only say this: hey, it sounded like fun, and I desperately needed some inspiration to get out there and trawl for suitable gifts for the burgeoning horde of nieces and nephews, who refuse to share my disdain for the season. This seemed like the way to get inspired. So sign up, and remember: I look terrible in orange.
I just realized that I, too, knew Michael in much the same way as Grant: not well, but I really liked what I knew. And I certainly enjoyed working with Drina, his wife, who still ranks as one of the most hard-working, intelligent and friendly people I've ever met. There are all sorts of words to use in these situations, but they all seem flat. Because death is a real situation leveller, an event that puts mundane life into perspective. Everyday words lose meaning against its permanence. I'm filled with sorrow for Drina and her son Desmond, and their extended family, and I won't clutter that truth with heartfelt rambles.
Monday, November 19, 2001
Loudmouthed Movie Snob sez "No." No, no, no, I will not be seeing Harry Potter and the goddamned Sorcerer's Stone, for a very good reason. A reason that is embodied in a single name: Chris Columbus. Director of such notable flicks as "Bicentennial Man," "Stepmom," "Nine Months," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," "Only the Lonely," Home Alone," Heartbreak Hotel," and "Adventures in Babysitting," and writer of the abysmal "Young Sherlock Holmes," among others. I am disgusted to say that I have wasted money on four of the above wastes of film.
Besides, although it's the equivalent of modern heresy to admit such, I didn't really like the book. My experience with it was very much like Rachel's: read it in an afternoon, shrugged, and went on with life. I couldn't tell you much about it. Duane says the books get better as you go along. But I note that the horribule Columbus is already dumbing down the second Harry Potter movie as I write this.
Remember when Spielberg directed some pretty great movies, like "Jaws" and "Sugarland Express"? That was before he chose to follow the formula of rebus-form moviemaking, a subject of many rants of mine. Yep, I bet those movies do make a lot more money. And I'm sure Chris Columbus knows it, too, since he skipped the stage of making great early movies and started immediately in on the schlock. But, as we loudmouthed movie critics are fond of saying, that doesn't make it right.
Yesterday afternoon's exploits: in Red Deer with Marilla, my eldest niece, helping her with her Grade VII science project on famous architecture. Poor old Rilla drew the short straw and was assigned the Sydney Opera House. Totally unfair, since other students were assigned such difficult buildings as Big Ben [shoebox-milk carton-shoebox] or the Pentagon [five shoeboxes and duct tape to cover the gaps]. The only people in the house with passable spatial aptitude, my dad and older brother, had run away to the farm to play with guns, so: "Oh, just get Auntie Jane to help you! She does that origami stuff, so it should be easy for her!" And there we were, Marilla, Alayne (Marilla's mom) and I with a bunch of homemade playdough and pictures of the SOH downloaded from the Net.
Well, no wonder Jorn Utzon, the original architect, went all reclusive and refused to answer the phone. I am here to tell you that that is one fucking fucker of a building. After fussing for an hour or so, the homemade playdough model looked like a herd of disappointed noses. Then another hour or so messing with origami paper to produce something that looked more like the secret paper airplane burial ground than architecture. Finally I lost it and headed to the craft store for proper air-drying modelling clay. The upshot, post-modelling clay: Marilla now has a herd of pert beaks pretending to be the SOH, but it's slightly better than the rhinoplastic horror of the playdough. Oh, and I specifically asked to be included at the next parent-teacher night at Rilla's school. I'm going to hand her Science teacher a lump of clay and say, "Okay, now YOU make it, you bugger. Come on: Sydney Opera House, right now, right here in front of everyone." I hope he cries.
Sunday, November 18, 2001
Inner Catholic sez "Well, it serves you right for whining:" Mad Melvin is now not coming to see me in Calgary at all. I have had to come up to Red Deer, which is where I am this moment, slapping this out on my brother's big schmancy keyboard, in order to see le roi mon pere. In fact, it occurred to me as I was fuming my way up the highway [the car was fine, but I was sputtering with self-pity] last night that I was actually making the trip in order to hand Dad his overdue birthday present, and instead of spending $5 on postage, I was spending $30 on gas. That's the new math, kiddies.
The birthday present? The truly excellent "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia" by Ahmed Rashid. I can't recommend it enough, in fact.
I have to admit that being able to watch the Leonid meteor storm with the aid of my brother's kick-ass motorized telescope made the trip more enticing. I have a bit of a stiff neck this morning, and am short on sleep, but it was an amazing experience, flash flash flash, streaks of red, amber, blue, that made staying outside for two hours in sub-zero weather a treat.
Thursday, November 15, 2001
Toupee, or not toupee....tomorrow has been deemed "Wig Day" at work, so, though rolling my eyes slightly, I'm playing along. I guess it's because employee parties are rare and wondrous things around here, almost meme-like in their ability to inspire person after person without so much as a single e-mail being sent. I couldn't afford the glorious mullet "do" I saw at my local costume store [and considering that it's the ubiquitous hairstyle of Inglewood, my turf, that wig should be given away free, dammit], so settled instead for a 1980s-era Eurotrash model instead. I hope to have a few images of tonsorial splendour to share with you all.
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
You know, it's just too easy to poke fun at Christian knick-knackery like Testamints, or golfballs that have "Jesus is the Whole in One" stamped on them. Such behaviour doesn't bring out the best in me. Perhaps I'm still miffed that my 1984 Papal Visit Marketing Idea was canned out-of-hand: Instead of those bobbing-head dogs you see in cars' back windows, I was going to have the Holy Father standing with one bobbing arm, blessing all the other traffic non-stop. Yet no one would go for the idea, sigh oh sigh, and in fact I was told somewhat sternly by a colleague that my humour was in very poor taste. So I changed it from the pope to Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and the hand on the bobbing arm was raising one delicious digit [Canadians who were around in the early 80s should get this reference], but still no takers.
I can't believe it's been a whole week since I left for the wonders of Jasper National Park, the Jasper Park Lodge (a client) and "Christmas in November," the gala event I spoke of last week. Three days of the best food and wine I've had in a long while, with festive craft-making thrown in. I felt it was somewhat ironic that I, about the most non-Christmassy person around, was surrounded by things Yuletide and falalalala. And yet I had a great time. I attended a cooking seminar given by Chef Bruno Tison from the New York Plaza, and fell madly, ineluctably in love with him, the classic French gourmet with exquisite accent fellow that he is. Then I took a seminar with Rob Feenie, chef and owner of Lumiere in Vancouver, and fell in love all over again. All my vegetarian pretensions flew out the window as Rob prepared seared lamb tenderloin served on a bed of lightly simmered vegetables flavoured with double-smoked wild boar rashers. In fact, I would have sold my granny to the Huns for another mouthful. And more delectable lamb was devoured by me, which had been prepared by the comic duo of David McGillivray and Jay Nutt, exceptional chefs and unstoppable kibitzers.

His Lusciousness, Nik Manojlovich, host of Savoir Faire, taught me how to fold napkins and clutter up my dining table with an array of silly things, but yes, I love him, too. [I note that on the Savoire Faire web site, the guide to pronouncing Nik's surname reads, humorously, "Man-Oil-of-Itch", which hints to both his preferred bedpartners and, er, unguents applied thereto. The "itch" part I'm leaving strictly alone, and so should you.] Though a desperately bad singer, there was no way I was going to skip the impromptu Christmas choir once I heard that Nik was the choir director. He was great, a really good singer, and very patient.
In fact, patience was the key trait shared among most of the presenters and personalities. It's a necessity, given the crowd. For the most part we were good old broads [there were a few men, but we women outnumbered them about 20 to 1], keen to have a few glasses of wine or a crantini or two, mess about with felt and glue guns, and eat much too much chocolate. But there were a few who just *had* to let everyone know their opinions about everything, or who, like overstimulated toddlers, just couldn't stop showing off. So I was impressed by Rob Feenie's patient reply to the woman who blatted out, as he prepared the exquisite vegetable accompaniment to the lamb, "You're just making a fancy stirfry, right?" His answer: "Well, no, but I see how you might make that comparison." [My answer: "You see a wok anywhere? No? Then it's not a frackin' stirfry, toots."] Or Nik Manojlovich gently suggesting to the raucously drunk and tonedeaf woman that she save her crescendo flourishes for the last chorus of "The First Noel," and that (oh thank you, thank you Nik) "Jingle Bell Rock" didn't give the altos much to work with, so perhaps we should skip it.
You know, I went to Jasper with my sneers and cynicism packed and ready to be dispensed, but they stayed packed for the most part. I really enjoyed being seated with the Japanese media at both lunch and dinner; they were very gracious and didn't seem to mind having two wine-swilling Canadian women at their table. Several times they took pictures of me and Monique (the account manager) in various small groups. So I'm curious to know just how many Japanese tourism magazines I'll show up in. ["See the happy drunk Canadian women, and how much they eat!" "Friendly Canadians will happily pose for you; they are harmless and like many red wines."] And I made a craft and did not die. Although I can't say as much for the craft, an oldstyle Father Christmas. He got his as soon as the cats figured out how to jump up to the mantel. Santa clawed, indeed.
For Breath that's 'Born Again' Fresh, chew new Testamints®!
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
So today was proving itself to be studded with minor disappointments and irritations. But before I get into them, a quick note: I had decided some time ago to stop posting my attempts at soul-searching and Understanding The Real Jane When No One Else Will, but it turned out to be as impossible as suddenly disliking extra-hot salsa on my mashed potatoes. Talking and writing about myself is as Jane as it gets. But I’m trying to keep it down.
So anyway, first thing today I find out that on Mad Melvin’s Alberta itinerary I rate somewhere on the level of visiting the Calgary Tower. We all know it’s there, but we’re not going to make the effort to see it. It’ll keep. Despite knowing how whiny this sounds, I’m quite irritated that Mad Melvin will spend days and days with both brothers, but slots me in to “Monday night between 6:00 and 10:00.” Basically he’ll have time for a drive by the new condo, a quick bite to eat -- and we do mean quick, since Dad has a lifelong habit of eating as though the waiters could take his plate away at any second, and then putting his coat on and waiting, drumming his fingers and checking his watch, while other diners finish their meals -- and that’s about it. A quick peck on the cheek, and Mad Melvin hits the road once more. To be fair, I don’t know what the hell I expect from him. He’s just not a demonstrative man. I have ample proof that he loves me. He just doesn’t love the visiting thing.
And then I was looking forward to some evening plans, and those were changed, so the self-pity alarms were starting to sound. Luckily, just then I saw that “Es no mi Perro” showed up on Blather. Again, Bill, that there’s some truly excellent timing. Thanks.
I can honestly say I've never seen quite this combination of words before:
"I am happy to report that the Munchkin White Hot Feeding Bowl more than meets my expectations in the toddler bowl category."
Ah, well...just another oddity scraped from the Internet floor.
It's said that everyone's hell is different, and I just found out mine is coming to town:
The Power Within
February 26, 2002
One full day of Inspiration, Motivation and Enlightenment that will touch your soul forever!

International Best Selling Authors:

John Gray: Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy
Robin Sharman: The Monk who Sold His Farrari [sic]
Loretta LaRoche: Life is not a Stress Rehearsal
Mark Victor Hansen: Chicken Soup for the Soul
So's you all know, on February 26, 2002, I will be hiding under a duvet with the cats, rereading Fran Lebowitz, P.J. O'Rourke, Michael Bywater and any other works of literate, acid-witted curmudgeons I can find.
Monday, November 12, 2001
No, You Have Not Necessarily Paid Your Dues, and You Are Not Owed.

Dear Old People, of Whom I Will Very Soon Be One:

1. I understand that your tour bus is leaving the parking lot in five minutes, but that doesn't mean it is acceptable for you to barge into the restaurant queue ahead of me, without so much as an “Excuse me,” and then let in three of your friends, all of whom dither between ordering the child’s portion of Mr. Frosty, or the regular size.

2. You Did Not Fight In The War for the right to smoke in my non-smoking zone.

3. Do not assume that brown people do not understand English.

4. Impolite behaviour in a public setting is no less annoying at 75 as it was at 7. Please stop a moment to consider that just because you can’t hear yourself, it doesn’t mean you’re whispering.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001
The Julie is back! I am back from my desperately overdue appointment with my hair stylist, and the Julius Caesar cut frames my coconut yet again. Surprise, my stylist just got herself a little religion. Not that I minded, yet her crucifixdid keep tapping my skull as she leaned over to trim my hair.
I see that those ridiculous "pop-under" ads are getting up someone's nose again.
For those cynics who say life isn't all pretzels and beer, I will just say this: Oh, yeah? Because when I arrived at Luxurious Mountain Hotel #1 on Sunday night [for business! really for business!], there, in my SUITE, was a plate of homemade pretzels alongside a bucket containing two bottles of beer. If there's any better way to watch Game #7 of the World Series, I have yet to hear it.
Luxury, schmuxury. The client worked my ass off all the next day. I knew I'd have to pay for sleeping in a bed that was wider than I am tall, soaking in a jet tub, wrapping myself in a freshly laundered cotton robe....okay, enough.
I was thrilled to find that I was sharing the Luxurious Mountain Resort with none other than The Billy Graham School of Evangelism. I mean, I know I was staying at heaven on earth, but when I heard the church music on Monday morning, I thought, "Holy overkill." Anyway, yep, there I was, surrounded by your average white evangelizin' type. I have to say, punnishly, thank God for them, since they're not afraid of travelling in these troubled times, since the worst that could happen (a terrorist attack) just means they get "called home." Don't laugh...they may save the tourism industry. Hmmm...can't believe I just said that....
The most unfortunate product name in Calgary, and perhaps world, history is still here: IP Anywhere®. What the heck is it, you ask? According to its product description, it has something to do with offering "new paradigms in remote data acquisition, monitoring, and control." Yeah, yeah, but come on...did any of you say the name out loud before you registered it? I remember nearly driving off the road the first time I saw a billboard for the product. Yes, I know it's childish, but it's also, unfortunately, an automatic association to those jokes of long ago: Yellow Spots on the Wall, by I.P. Standing; Race to the Outhouse, by Willy Makeit and Betty Won't. Still, if someone were to offer me an IP Anywhere® baseball cap, I'd take it. I have no shame.
Sunday, November 04, 2001
As I'm about to head to the hills, it seems like an appropriate moment to talk of hills being alive with the sound of music. The Sing-Along Sound of Music, that is. I went to the opening night in Calgary. My overriding impressions are below:

Was it fun? Yes, for the most part. It was nerdy-cool to see the original Liesl, Charmian Carr, in person. Singing all the songs at the top of my lungs was a hoot (literally). See all the costumes was amusing, especially the two men who dressed as goats. (Gettit? The Lonely goatherd?) Playing with the bag of props I was given as part of my ticket fee was also fun, especially the exploding prop. Collapsing in mad, helpless giggles with Fearless when the abbess asked Maria, "What is it you can't face," and her accent turns the word "can't" into a four-letter word...that was VERY FUN. What wasn't fun was being constantly assailed by the shouted remarks of socially retarded adults who'd unfortunately been drinking up a storm before coming to the film. One woman in particular was extremely annoying, since she thought she was Tom Servo, Crow. T. Robot, Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson rolled into one, trying her darnedest to keep up an MST 3K-style commentary, yet relying solely on peepee/poopoo jokes. Example: The von Trapps are hiding behind a tombstone, trying to elude the Nazis. High-larious comment from demented drunk: "Oh, Kurt, I told you not to fart!" Not that I was expecting total silence in a sing-along movie...just that less of the childish humour and more of the singing would have made it a perfect nerdy evening.
Oh, I am spoiled... My friend Vinnie in Los Angeles just surprised me with a gift of a Salon Premium subscription. I was miffed at Salon when they decided to charge for their articles, but I have to admit I really missed a lot of the writing. So thank you, Vinnie, and I'll try to contribute intelligent nuggets to our next conversation.
And thanks to No Comment for hosting the first blog salon I've ever attended. Great, intense, involving conversations were also had with Cacomixl and Roryborealis throughout the evening. I hated to drag myself away. And I love it when that happens.
Saturday, November 03, 2001
Dammit dammit DAMMIT: I accidentally closed a file while trying to perform a cut & paste function. This iMac keyboard is much too tiny for my clumsy mitts. Oddly, as I cussed up a storm, "I'm Mad" by The Presidents of the United States of America began to play on the office stereo.
If you're reading these posts in the hope of hitting something worthwhile, today is not the day.
Oh, how I loathe coming into the office on Saturdays....wa wa wa, cry me a river. I have to get work done prior to beetling off to the aforementioned luxurious mountain meccas. Sometimes I really hate being a responsible adult. So I'm going to console myself by writing a blog entry after each task I complete. For now: I just noticed that, thanks to having Saturday Brain, my attempt to change the word "successfully" to "seamlessly" resulted in "seamlessfully."
Friday, November 02, 2001
Would you assign a technical manual to this person? I just received the latest Directory of Editors, and was hunting through the lists to see if I recognized anyone, when I came across the following name: T'Lar Joy Freedom. I blinked. One eyebrow raised. Then I thought, "Well, it's not fair to assume this person's a crystal-sniffing New Age Trekkie freak. She may have had hippie parents. It's completely possible she's a technical writer of great expertise." Then I read her interests, which included "cats, death & dying, and animal rights." Get out the tie-dye, mother, storm's a-comin'.
Talmudic Laws for Children! Forwarded to me by my friend Lori Hahnel in an e-mail, but originating here. Note: If religious stuff makes you uncomfortable, just scroll down to the Talmudic article. See for yourself -- Catholics *do* have a sense of humour!
Oops...heh heh... I came in to work this morning and found the following note on my computer:
Hey Jane - How 'bout before you head off for a week (or so...) you give your office a big beating with the clean stick?
Though the note was unsigned, I recognized my boss's handwriting. He's a man notorious for folding his garbage before disposal. I wonder how long he was holding back? [Note: I am slightly embarrassed by all this, but carrying on gamely nonetheless.]
Thursday, November 01, 2001
Further proof that I have a set of horseshoes lodged somewhere in my sigmoidal colon (an undainty reference, yes, but I can't let those physiology lessons just go to waste): Next week I'm spending two days at one mountain hotel, then heading up to take part in a pre-Christmas culinary gala at another. The fact that I finally get to meet His Royal Lusciousness, Nik Manojlovich, at the gala (definitely to be pronounced with a long "A" in this case) in no way takes away from the fact that this is a business trip. Yeah. I'm going to two of the most beautiful mountain hotels in the world TO WORK, DO YOU HEAR?
Stupit headline du jour, courtesy of The Mother Corp: "Book by Alberta author used to help attack victims." Take that! Wham! Quit yer whinin'! You want a fresh one?
Urban cat follies: Hearing an unfamiliar noise from the kitchen last night, I sneaked in to find Vinnie the Severely Microcephalic Cat, with a very startled look in his eyes, slowly sinking past his elbows in a bowl of bread dough that had been left to rise on the counter. Hygiene alert: There was plastic wrap over the dough, so Vinnie's little escapade didn't end up contaminating my culinary efforts. The funny part was that he was frantically trying to push himself out of the dough and get away, since I was advancing upon him with murder in my eyes, but his little paws were firmly trapped in the warm, embracing dough. I laughed myself silly.
If you can stand just one more mention of the CrimeStoppers thing...I was surprised at how bothered I was by the negative letters and phone calls on the current campaign, by how much they were occupying my thoughts. I sneered. I rationalized [see previous entry]. Again last night I went to sleep all fucky and flustered, singing "la la la la la" to drive out negative thoughts. But when I awoke this morning, it hit me. It's so simple: we dropped the ball. We screwed up. We should have done better [through more focus groups, more diverse model selection, whatever it took]. This is hindsight, of course, but still true. Fact: a purposely edgy campaign will offend people. Maybe it's meant to do just that, to cause a strong reaction, get people thinking about the subject. However, in this case, the message was lost, and people aren't thinking about the subject [stopping crime], but about bigoted marketing. Finally: why should I mind all this breast-beating and introspection and guilt? It's just what the Inner Catholic craves. Rock on, martyrdom!
Yay! Duane gets a job. Congratulations, Bad Man. I have to hate you now, because you're the competition, but I'm still very happy for you.
Wow! Another star appears in the bloggy firmament.