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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Another thing in my house that's smarter than I am. Intelligent, concerned plastic wrap is now a reality, thanks to the microbephobes at Toxin Alert Inc. in Toronto. The plastic wrap is coated with small dots of non-toxic chemicals that turn bright blue when the bacteria in the food reaches barfulous levels. It doesn't work so well on cheese and other less moist foods. [Not that the cheese in my house gets the chance to go bad, but still.] If I were using it now, my fridge would bathe the condo in a blinding, rave-like glow as soon as the door was opened. Yes, yes, I'm going to throw that Stone Age mac & cheese out. In a minute.
Monday, October 28, 2002
Saturday, the bones wouldn’t come out, no matter how hard I tugged. Sunday, David Bowie made bitchy remarks about my inability to small-talk.(“Oh, blahdy-blah, blahdy-bloody-blah.”) This morning I had to carry my car down a parkade ramp. My brain has turned into a film student, a devotee of Buñuel, Godard and Gilliam. Perhaps it's all those short stories I'm eating before bedtime.
Friday, October 25, 2002
Two new donation records today. First, it was the milestone -- the 50th donation. And while there weren’t exactly fireworks going off or brass bands hired to play in my honour, the Collection Crew was pretty congratulatory. Apparently, now that I’m a 50-timer, I get a new silver-tinted donor card. I didn’t want anything to go wrong with today’s donation, so I’d been taking iron supplements beforehand, and made sure I was extremely well hydrated today. The hydration was responsible for the second record: I filled the 500ml bag in 3 minutes and 56 seconds. “Anything for the free cookies,” I said in response to the mildly astonished nurse, who thought she’d have time to get herself a refill on her tea, but then -- bing! -- the bag was full.
Afterwards, in between stuffing cookies down my gullet, I chatted with a retired nurse who volunteers in the clinic’s commissary. We compared notes on giving blood over the years. When she first donated, back in WWII, the nurse taking her blood sat with her the entire time, holding onto the needle and tube, with the glass collection bottle at her feet. Bottles were boiled and reused -- man, that must have been a fun job. When I first donated, back in 1981, the technician jabbed my finger with a good old lancet to get a droplet of blood for testing. I hated that part. Kind of funny, really: I mean, go ahead and stick a big needle in my arm to take a pint of blood, but don’t hurt my fingies. Now, with the new “jabbers”, by the time you realize you’ve been poked in the finger, the pain is already gone. By my calculations, if I give 6 times a year, I’ve got another 8 years or so to go before my 100th donation. Maybe by then there’ll be a new way to test for hemoglobin that doesn’t involve bloodletting -- and I won't have to keep pressing at my fingertip to see if I can't get it to bleed just a little bit.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Where's the rest of this muskox? This weekend the mighty Fearless is heading north to Edmonton, and I'm hitching a ride along with my two deadhead friends: a set of caribou antlers and a muskox skull. Actually, they're my older brother's souvenirs of a trip to Cambridge Bay in the Northwest Territories. He was there to catch fish, which he did, but he also kept tripping over bones and hooves and mandibular fragments and other mementos of just how incredibly harsh the lifestyle is a ways up thar. How I ended up with the bones is your typical bureaucratic story. Big Brother wouldn't let my big brother take the souvenirs back until certain forms were filled out, certain nods and winks exchanged. So the outfitter, a strapping Swede named Jack "Don't call me 'Yack'" Elofsson, brought the "heeds" back to Calgary. And now I, or rather the long-suffering Fearless, am hauling them to my brother's house. My packing list reads "Clothes, toothbrush, heads, antiperspirant, shampoo." Should probably also throw in some puffed wheat squares or a bottle of something nicely alcoholic for F.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Today I was a copywriter. Today I was disciplined. Even somewhat organized. Today I put away all self-doubts and fears and just sat down and hammered out four ads, two profiles and a bunch of promotional hooey.
Question: why can't I be like this every day?

Answer: Oh, shut up and get at it.
Great WordFest this year, thank you, Rory. I forgive you for not blogging since July. And by the way, sorry for pissing off your boss. [This would be the organizer of WordFest, a woman named Anne Green, who probably thought she was acting for the best in trying to take my book from me at Louis de Berniere's book-signing. She damned near lost her arm at the shoulder for that one. Nikki, veteran of many book-signings on the pen end, has since explained to me that Anne was probably trying to speed up the process by giving each book to Louis and telling him what name to write in the flyleaf. And if my name were Marciuazjzcka instead of "Jane," I might have seen the purpose of Anne's book-snatching. Anyway, sorry. But next time TELL people what you're doing.]
One more Wordfest observation: If you're a published author who is (a) rabidly insecure or (b) in a shitty mood, it's a bad idea to bad-mouth other authors who are at Wordfest. Yes, Peter Oliva, I'm talking to you. And in reply to your comment on "Eunoia," the book by Christian Bok, that "anyone with a computer could program it to churn out lipograms," well, you can also program a computer to write a novel, but who's going to read the damned thing? And hey, maybe read Christian Bok's book first, before you start criticizing it. Just a thought.
Mad Dad Survives El Condo Non Grande: He came, he saw, he didn't take his coat or shoes off, or sit in any chair, but yes. Yes. Mad Melvin has seen the condo. He was more impressed by the dumplings at the Dragon Pearl beforehand, but let's just say that the evening was a success.
Fixing the cat's wagon: First a round of shots in her ample rump, and then a roommate. I'm going to sign up to foster a stray cat for ARF. In some way I'm trying to make it up to Vinnie, the orange thug...perhaps by rescuing another orphan like he was...but more likely by continuing to drive Martini crazy. At any rate I hope it'll stop her damned 4 a.m. howlfests.
Friday, October 18, 2002
How do I know I'm talking to a Business student at the University? "At school I get overloaded with unuseful information." Unuseful. That's one for the books -- sorry, the text-units.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Hail to the Chief, She’s the one we all sing Hail to: October 15, 6:45 p.m. “I’ll be on your damned condo board, fine, but on one condition: I will * not * be president. Got that? Not going to be the president.”
October 15, 7:15 p.m. “Well, if none of you other bastards is going to do it, I guess I’ll have to be the damned president.”
This is going to be interesting. The last president was a retired police officer, also a real Earth Mother, Get Involved, I Care, type. Meaning, she never let go of anything, caused every board meeting to run nearly 2 hours late, and took on huge amounts of responsibility and grief. I, on the other hand, am only doing this because the others promised I’d only have to chair meetings and keep track of any homeowner requests or complaints. Yep, that’s Jane, President under Protest, Aviara Condominium Community, Calgary, Alberta. Motto: "Committed and concerned." (Still, I’m not blind to the possibility of enforcing a private agenda during my administration, which means that neighbour Harley Boy and his mighty hog are living on borrowed time. And the gargoyles on the balcony across the road from me? They’re about to have an accident.)
Flash: Mad Dad Visits Condo, Daughter Plotzes. It’s true! Mad Melvin is in town, is willing to be dragged to my favourite little “restrunt” in Inglewood, and afterwards, will make the 8-block sidetrip to see my condo. For those of you with scorecards, this will be Visit #3 in 18 years. Memorial tea mugs, dishtowels and matchbooks to follow.
Friday, October 11, 2002
Quelle surprise, I didn't win the Alberta Short Short Story Contest at CBC.
A world-weary observation: There does appear to be one advantage to having a 4X4 in Calgary during a heavy snowfall. You leave clearer tracks on your way into the ditch.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Weird Things I Have Seen Today:
1. A picture from a Japanese book for extremely worried new parents -- that's not the title, it's just my assumption, since the book is filled with photos of infantile bowel movements, presented à la nappy. Is this book (a) boot camp for people who've never changed a diaper and want to inure themselves to the dry heaves before the baby arrives, (b) a niche item for the colonically curious parent, or (c) a frustrated writer's protest, proving that there really is a lot of shit being published these days? I read about it here, under the "baby baby" heading. You can click the link enclosed in the blog entry if you want to see a sample page.
2. This universal symbol:

Apparently it means "Shared Washroom" in bed & breakfast speak. Not a gay-positive water conservation thing. Or a "This is much more romantic in theory than in actual practice" thing.
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
The truth is out! From
Mango Pudding Blues is a false moustache that keeps drinks cold! It can go from 0 to 60mph in three seconds and has a retro 70s design.
Splorp is a toothbrush that repairs itself! It is ideal for the kitchen and always points to magnetic north.
Cacomixl is a scooter that obeys simple instructions, can run MAME roms and slices vegetables.
Transient Veracity is a wafer-thin plastic sheet! It glows at night!
EvilTwin is a burglar alarm that lasts forever, floats in water and is ten feet tall.
MangoSalsa is a gas-mask that plays the theme from Steptoe and Son! It can extinguish fires and is better than the last one.
Craptastic is like a normal letterbox, but it loves you as a person.
Textism is a human clone that's not suitable for children, traps small animals and is voice-activated.
Not My Dog is a handheld contraceptive device that plays Sokoban!
Fun, huh? Try your own name here!
Wanna' see the paper dress? It's right here.
Quite the happy little bunch I'm working with these days. The company just won a prestigious contract against huge competition in Vancouver, so again the raspberry vodka was hauled out, the ice cubes readied, the lemons sliced. Oh, the irony...we win all these contracts and we'll be too drunk to work on any of them. Still, I'm very pleased about the recent successes, even though it means I have to curtail my habitual sloth and indolence quite severely over the next few months. It's a definite improvement over the gloom and worry of five months ago, when we didn't know whether we'd see the year out.
Lung update: Still barking like a trained seal, despite the steroids. Coworkers less enchanted day by day.
Happy anniversary to Grant, Genius and Gracious Blog Host. And happy anniversary to Not My Dog, a couple of weeks late -- September was the two-year mark for the introspections and long-winded anecdotes.
New word alert: writing the last paragraph made me think of a word to describe a category of long-winded, pointless stories told by my older relatives: "anecdotage." As in, "Uncle Ted's in his."
Fictitious ambition: I've entered yet another short story contest at the good old CBC. Entries have to be under 300 words and start with the uninspiring words, "There we were, just me and my dog, Shep." I bit back the editor's impulse to say, "Shouldn't that be 'just I and my dog, Shep'?" Generally I enter these things just for the writing practice, and to kick my own ass a bit. My problem is that I hate everything I write, but I hate other people's writing even more.** So every morning I've been listening to other people's entries being read on the radio and trying hard not to criticise. I already know I won't win, because my story isn't about someone, a dog and an exciting adventure. It's about someone being forced to listen to anecdotage about someone else's dog.
**[The "save my ass" qualifier: I tend to hate only the writing of people I don't know. Phew.]
Friday, October 04, 2002
What absolute, unqualified fun. Just returned from the Unisource Paper Fashion show in Calgary. Karo had entered a dress constructed entirely from paper, including paper jewellery. The competition was stiff, and often mind-blowing. Favourites included "Paper-nesia," a loud Hawaiian shirt and grass skirt modelled by a tall, gorgeous man -- the skirt was pulled off to reveal a pair of striped Bermuda shorts. Even his sandals were made out of paper. I also loved the paper Amadeus -- his wig made of paper staggered me with thinking of how much work it must have been to build.
The imagination displayed was incredible: I particularly enjoyed the sheath dress with panels of pressed leaves, with border panels backlit by tiny lights, called "Pressed"; the bold and original design of "Y.U.M." or "Young Urban Male", with tunic-like formed shirt, striped pants, and even a paper courier bag [designed by old EyeWire colleague Donna Holesworth and her creative partner Monique]; "Kanga Zoot," an absolutely hilarious oversized Zoot Suit in black and bright yellow, complete with massive lapels, fedora, and feather in hatband; "Monsieur Banane," which was basically a tall skinny guy wearing a giant banana costume; and of course, the Karo "Wow" dress modelled by mein buddy and colleague Sue Hauke, who also designed it.
Karo ended up winning both People's Choice and Best of Show, which stunned and delighted the Karovians in attendance. Upon reflection, I think we won because (a) Sue's two-piece dress was an original design -- business card-sized panels chained together to form the skirt ; the bodice and skirt top created from paper woven to form an actual textile; the entire outfit looked like actual clothing, and allowed Sue a full range of natural movement (unlike other outfits which were basically dragged up and down the runway by their inhabitants); and the paper jewellery was award-winning in itself. So yay, little Karo team. Good on you. [They won a raft of gift certificates for hotel stays, spa visits, free movies, free meals, CDs, etc.]
Human nature always cracks me up. I honestly didn't think Karo would win anything at all, so I was happily applauding and cheering the other entrants. And to be fair, the other design firms were cheering for their rivals, too. Yet as I walked through the crowd after the awards were announced, I heard lots of rationalization: "Oh, they played the 'woman' card down the line." "Guess we should have designed a woman's outfit, huh." "Who the hell let kids model these outfits?" [One firm had entered two little girls modelling ball gowns constructed by, surprise, their parents.] "Yeah. Unfair use of cuteness, dude." So bitterness is alive and well in a microcosm of Calgary's design world.
So we dragged Sue, who doesn't work on Fridays, back to the office and plied her with crantinis, making her don the dress and walk the pretend catwalk again. Then we had a slide show. And I'm getting paid for what, exactly? Get hosed on another Friday and cheering my creative studio mates, apparently. Still, yay.
Thursday, October 03, 2002
Oh, Let's See Now... for sheer fun you can't beat a good bout of asthma. It's a relic of the honking head cold from last week, just my luck. But fun, yes! Jettison the cat from a dead sleep at night. Startle your coworkers throughout the day. Ponder the inconvenience of remaining well hydrated (especially important for those problem lungs), yet having to bark with all your strength at random intervals. Staying within hobbling distance of a restroom is a must, as is the catcher's mitt for your eyeballs.
Lucky for the cat and the coworkers, I only have these bronchial interludes a couple of times a year. They're loud and annoying, kind of like cat/coworkers, but I can't claim to have chronic asthma. Thankfully.
Also worth pondering is life's essential unfairness in the case of my pal Nik on the last leg of her book publicity tour this past week. Nik was on her own, both Jan the Publicist and I having returned to Canada. Which meant that she had the joy of discovering the source of the unbearable motorhome stench that had plagued us for over a week. Somebody (probably me) had left the pump switched on one too many times, while somebody else (Jan! it was Jan!) occasionally parked the "motorhovel" on a slant. This caused the clean water tank to empty, which filled the grey water tank to overflowing, which then caused the sewage to back up into the bathtub. We had been storing a truckload of rolls of paper towels in the bathtub, as well as some clothes to be washed, all of which soaked up the goodness. And poor Nik got to shovel it out and disinfect everything all by herself. Bet she was glad I'd insisted on buying the bottle of all-purpose cleaner with bleach.
But that wasn't all for Nik. Once the horrible bog odours had dissipated from the motorhome, she began the drive to California. On the way, the motorhome completely conked out. She had to wait for hours for a tow truck to arrive, disassemble the drive shaft in the motorhome, and haul everything into the shop. Then they could only manage to do a partial fix, so Nik was left with a crippled vehicle that could *maybe* get up to 50 mph on the flats. She had to coax it to Davis, Sacramento and Ventura, then back up the coast to Canada. She arrived back in Victoria late Monday night, exactly a week after Breezy and I had set down. Then she had the unenviable task of cleaning the motorhome and removing a month's worth of stuff we needed and didn't need, and about 100 postcards that I'd bought and had mysteriously disappear. If anyone deserved a good rest after the desert expedition, it was Nik, but no such luck. The only good part was that Xena the dog was finally out of heat and didn't have to wear those damned leopard print pants. Oh well...All part of the glamour of publicity, don't you know.
The Old Grey Mare update: Nik took Breezy out for a quick spin the day after she'd arrived home, only to find that her sedate, biddable 22-year-old darling had transformed into a spirited 2-year-old full blood Arab. Quite the bouncy ride Nik had. So that's what good feed and grooming can bring out: time travel for mares.
Yay, the Film Fest is here: Off tomorrow night to see "Mad Love," a Spanish film about 16th-century monarchic follies. I don't know why they had to change the title for the North American market. I loved the original Spanish title, "Juana la Loca," or "Jane the Mad." I think it has a certain flair, don't you?