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Monday, September 29, 2003
Word of the day: penury, n. A state of living in straitened circumstances, 'cause you have, like, no money? 'Cause you spent like a tit in the summer? And then, the week that you start a sensible budget, your vehicle's ignition system snaps off in your hand?
Well, despite the vehicle, and despite the shocking cost of getting a replacement ignition, and despite knowing that the next sixteen weeks are going to be severely cash-strapped, it was still a fine weekend.
This signals the end of our mature, responsible reaction to our disastrous financial situation. Whinging to recommence shortly.
Friday, September 26, 2003
Not Quite Banner News, but it'll do. The iniquitous "Name Withheld," the randomly accented employee of a flagship client, the private-school-educated woman who dearly loves to rewrite my copy for the sake of rewriting my copy, is taking employment elsewhere.
Also Not Quite News: Today Not My Dog is 21 years old, or three in blog years.
Jane's Thursday Night Hi-jinks: Back bike tire is flat. Pump up bike tire with brand new pump, but note that a faint "s-s-s-s" is coming from tire valve. Fine, then: haul back tire off bike, getting covered in chain marks. Pull old inner tube out and *sproing!* it at yowling cat. Get new inner tube, fit in tire, inflate, put back on bike, more chain marks, etc., and we're ready. Except maybe just a bit more air in back tire? Should we? Oh why not: and then. Then the new bike pump, instead of releasing from the valve, pulls the damned thing right out of the tire. And that, for those who have remarked that I could stand a little more exercise, is why I did not ride to work today.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
The mean bus did it. Oh sure, this is my danger time of year for getting a hellish cold. And yes, four people from the studio are currently at home sick with colossal rhinoviruses. But I just know that it's because I've been riding the awful, awful bus for the fourth consecutive day that I've got the starting signs of a cold.
I keep reminding myself: we're saving money. We'll be able to afford the new couch/pay off the van/book airfare sooner if we take the bus instead of paying for parking. But Calgary Transit has been in a hell of state since their last strike a couple of years back, and it's so very obvious that hardly any of the drivers give a damn. And my route is the one where formerly good bus drivers end up when they've started despising the human race. Schedules are meaningless. Brakes are there to be stomped on, no matter that the bus is filled with standing passengers. People running for the bus are to be ignored in a spume of exhaust. And, oh yeah, this morning's driver's, Mr. Hateful's, favourite feature, turning off the interior "next stop" lights and chime so that he has a ready excuse for driving past your stop. He's done this to me so many times over the past year that I now just walk up to the front and announce "I'd like the next stop, please." He doesn't acknowledge this, or my "thank you" [which I admit I don't mean at all] as I leave the bus. His next favourite trick is to halt the bus at least a half block past every stop, making everybody trot up to the doors. I wonder sometimes if he's as much of a shit in his private life. Probably.
Of course this is all trivial. That's why it's so hard to ignore. I'm trying to see the humour in it, the Calgary bus driver's private war against the people who can't afford cars or are doing their bit to reduce exhaust emissions, or are trying to save money, like I am. But I'm a selfish old human, so it's much easier to complain about how annoying it is without, you know, like actually walking or biking to work instead and getting healthier in the process. Heavens no, not that.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
A beauty of a company for charity. Ever since last Christmas, when I heard about the Veer kiddies doing frontline charitable work by cooking and serving a meal to the homeless at a local street ministry, I've been inspired. Inspired to get my own wee company out there cooking and serving. I sent out the first e-mail to the Karo bunch yesterday at noon, and was flooded with responses. We needed a minimum of about 16 people to carry it off: as of noon today, we have almost 30, with Karo employees bringing their friends [thank you, Fearless], family and/or partners in on the act. The meal itself won't happen until December 18th, but I tell you, it's made me feel good all day. Thanks again to the Veerdos for the example.
In fact, I've been so inspired that I'm off to help cook a meal this Sunday at St. Mary's, after being sent an invitation and a list of instructions that included the charming, "you may bring your own knife." I've been around a kitchenful of Catholics before; somehow one knife doesn't seem like enough.
Monday, September 22, 2003
A cacophony of infants. Up to Edmonton yesterday for the baptism of the micronephew, Zane, who was clad in a style I called "satin butch" - a two-piece outfit of white satin, with a satin baseball cap and no lace anywhere. Catholicism doesn't have to worry about declining members if this neighbourhood cathedral was anything to go by: it was a high concept googolplex of a church, with poured concrete altar, dais and fount, angled ceilings, and high-tech audio-visuals. The Twelve Stations of the Cross were stylized wood and wood intarsia pieces, placed one by one along a far wall. The effect, from my perspective, was almost like a flipbook animation: He walks, He falls, He's up, He's whipped, He's down, He's up again, etc. Not that I said any of this aloud, of course, although if I did you wouldn't have been able to hear me. This was baby central, and if you clothe a bunch of newborns in scratchy lace and hot satin, and make them hang around long enough, you are going to get screams. The priest was a good old sort, the kind I like best. Matter-of-fact but kindly, and extremely good with children. He proceeded to conduct the multiple baptisms with a number of helpers and the kind of choreography usually seen only in 1930s Busby Berkeley musicals or 1940s Esther Williams spectaculars. Up and down the aisles he walked, bestowing blessings on about twenty-five babies in all. I found out later this was considered a mediocre bag by the local standards. Springtime is the big time for baptising, with 40 to 50 kids at a go. Then up to the fount with the parents and godparents, blessing, response, spritz from the fount, surprised wahhh! from baby, back to the pews, and we're away. Then over to my younger brother's house for some post-baptismal hors d'oeuvres scrum and baby-dandling, a snort or three, and a ride back to Red Deer with my older brother and his family. A very pleasant day in some unbelievably fine weather, the kind that reaffirms my love of fall.
Nice freakin' tub. McDoom, fellow Myrmidon, is off today to New York, where he and his wife Laurie will board the QE2 for England. I'm trying hard not to hate them both, but it's uphill work. Last week McD wrote and said that when he's in England, should he spot a bowling green, "I'm throwing my money down, Jane. I'm throwing my money down." We will transform lawn-bowling into a bloodsport yet.
The end is near, and by that I mean the end of two current phases in this weird stage of my weird life. I think I'm about to shed the Gorgon phase, meaning taking better care of myself on all fronts. And I'm sick and tired of being stupid about money and paying bills late. So a somewhat draconian budget has been initiated this week, and I'm back relying on public transit, which is also beautifully punishing in its own right. Penance for the spendthrift summer. We shall overcome!
Friday, September 19, 2003
As far as I'm concerned, my old roommate Lori's choice for an apple name is a winner: Columbia Gold. It passes the test of looking good in a grocery store flyer: "2 kilos of Columbian Gold for $5.99." That should freak out the Americans. "Universal health care, decriminalized pot, gay marriage and now this! Help them, O Lord."
And as an aside to all you jittery conservatives, neo-cons and born-agains: the greatest threat to the institution of marriage is not gay unions. It is divorce. I don't mean that divorce should be outlawed -- a few of my lawyer friends would be out of work if that came to pass. But if you are the sort to get anxious over a perceived threat to a wholly human and therefore wholly fallible social custom, you need to put things into perspective. First of all, stop calling it "gay marriage" if the term "marriage" bothers you so much. Call it "gay civil union." Because this isn't about religion or children. Allowing gays and lesbians to unite legally, however, is about the foundation of our society: the extension of basic rights to law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
And for those morons who keep parroting the "legal" argument: law evolves with society. It used to be illegal for races to intermarry. It used to be legal to consider women as chattel. Shut up about your goddamned legal sanctity. And grow up.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
An apple by any other name... Spurred on by CBC's "As it Happens" show last week, I've entered Agriculture Canada's Name That Apple contest in honour of the latest Canadian apple hybrid. It's a cross between a Royal Gala and a Splendour, if I recall correctly, and it was developed in Summerland, BC. Sadly, entrants are allowed only one suggestion per household, so I had to trash "Jane's Big Yellow Apple" in favour of "Northern Sunshine." Even then, I don't like it much as a name, although it sounds a little better than some names currently out there, like "Jonafree Jonathan," or "Idared."
The winning name can't be already be in use for any other apple, or any other fruit for that matter, and (this kills me) has to be free from obscenity. There goes "Jane's Big Fucking Yellow Apple," then. During the course of my research, I found a list online of Irish Heritage apple species, the names of which I just couldn't keep to myself. Besides sending them to Jon, I'll list a few of them here: Uncle John's Cooker; Bloody Butcher; The Smeller; Sheep's Snout; The Green Chisel; Widow's Friend; and my favourite, "Never Surrender." Hey, maybe I should have suggested "Sweet Liberty" as an apple name! Or "Freedom Fruit."
The best thing about this contest is that it is so very, very Canadian. The author of the winning name is invited to the fruit laboratory in B.C. for a celebration, and gets a commemorative plaque. You have to pay your own way there, of course, but if you can't make it, you still get the plaque, eh. I love my silly old country sometimes.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Every soul makes the occasional slip of the tongue. Even I, Perfection's Embodiment, have been known to utter the occasional clanger. Vinnie La Vin has often said that she lives in terror of confusing "snow job" with "blow job," which she is sure she will do in the company of her in-laws. I've mangled "plot twist" into "twat plist" more times than I care to recall. And my word association has always been a little suspect, from my early days when I called my mother's new Hawaiian muu-muu a "cow," referred to my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Chu as "Mrs. Gum," and changed my Inuit next-door neighbour's name from Hunter to "Killer."
But I tell you. I was channel-surfing last night and happened upon Rebecca Romijn-Stamos being interviewed on Spike TV, a channel which has become an infrequent yet still very guilty pleasure of mine. Rebecca, when asked how she felt when she was awarded the cover for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, replied, "I felt like Louis Armstrong must have done when he took his first steps on the moon." That was when the ramen noodles took a wrong turn and shot out my nose. I still hadn't recovered when the interviewer summed up Ms. Romijn-Stamos as being blessed with beauty AND brains. Yeah, just not at the same time, apparently, I cackled. And then humbled myself, remembering.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Daily affirmation: 6 or so medium roma tomatoes, seeded, you lazy buggers, and chopped; 3-ish green onions, chopped; 1/2 of a red bell pepper, seeded and de-placenta'ed and chopped; 1/2 cuppish fresh cilantro, chopped; 3 small or 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and chopped; 1 garlic clove chopped with 1/2 tsp sea salt and then pulverized with a flat of the knife; approx. 2 tsp. fresh lime juice; cracked black pepper and salt to taste. To be eaten with sour cream if you are, like Fearless, geared that way. To be scooped up onto most of a bag of tortilla chips, if you are me. We deemed it the perfect pleasure/pain recipe. And think of the vitamins!
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
At the late night single feature picture show...If I forget to take my psyche pellet, which I do about three days out of seven, I am prone to experiencing the most floridly terrifying nightmares that seem to last forever, and that imprint themselves strongly in my memory. While in California, in June, I had the worst: what seemed like a night-long Hitchcock movie going on in my head, the plot revolving around a single mother with two daughters, one about 10, the other about 2, living in a large house (lots of stairways, hallways, sudden corners) who befriend the odd-jobs man, who is not what he seems. He grows progressively more psychotic, more scarily attracted to the girls, who cannot get their mother to believe that there's anything wrong with him. Of course, he's always normal around the mother, who thinks her children are just being shy. One night he engineers circumstances that trap the mother on the other side of the electrified fence surrounding the property, while he goes after the children. He catches the younger one, and I won't describe what he does to her, except that it's awful, and the only accusing words she can summon up to say to him afterwards are the ones she's heard from her mother and sister: you're a bad, bad girl. So while the mother is trying desperately to get to the house, the older daughter is trying to save her sister and get away from the madman. He's after her, through the hallways and up and down the stairs, and her small, wounded sister is slowing her down, so she has to hide her in a unused office before trying to get out. She's on an upper floor when he catches her, but he's being nice and horrifying all at once, talking about how she'll live with him forever, and how she doesn't need a mother anymore now that he's there. She's aware that playing along with him is her only chance, and after an agonizing interlude, he seems to trust her enough to leave the room himself and go find her sister. She waits a few moments, then in a flash, she's out of there, slipping as quietly and as quickly as possible down the main staircase. But he hears her open the door, and is after her again, leaping over a landing and crashing down the stairs, shrieking brokenly. She races into the court yard, yelling, "Help! Help! --" and that was when I screamed "HELLLLP" in my sleep and woke myself up, sweating, adrenaline-laced and terrified.
I know, I know...other people's dreams are deadly boring, and this one isn't exactly a ground-breaking plot. I guess I can't shut up about them because they're not the garden variety nightmares that star me. These ones are full-on horror movies, and I am Alex from a Clockwork Orange, my eyelids pried open, forced to watch.
Last night, though, I was in the dream. My niece had disappeared. She's such a loving, trusting girl that we knew something awful had happened. It was so real, the waiting, not knowing, being unable to do anything but hope, pray, cry. And who was there to help? Who was the kind neighbour who offered words of comfort? Eddie Izzard. Thank you, brain.
Meet my enabler, Mother Nature. I forgot to mention that I was in a bit of a stew last Thursday over one work project, a promotional e-mail for a client hotel in Bermuda, which I hadn't quite finished at the end of the day, and I was taking Friday off. "Well," the web director said, "As long as you finish it on Monday..." Instead, Hurricane Fabian barged in and extended my deadline until November. It's a good thing, since my "ocean-front rooms" copy point is now an uncomfortable reality.
Monday, September 08, 2003
A week later, and the Great Road Trip of '03 is still tickling my nerve-endings divinely. Let us just say that the Eddie Izzard concert was everything I'd hoped it'd be, and more. Sure, I made the witty comment about him spotting me in the audience and taking me on tour with him there and then, but adolescent fantasies aside, it was a marvelous show. Despite what the constipated Martha Stewart-clone in the row ahead of us said (her opinion was that Eddie was "great-looking, but only mildly funny," die screaming, you prune-lipped crone! die!) -- despite what some humourless old bint said, Eddie had me honking and gasping in the first five minutes, and he never let up. How do I love the man? In every way: he was gorgeous to the point of being edible, showing off his new, mail-order breasts. He was onstage for over 2.5 hours, not including the intermission. This, when Jerry Seinfeld tickets went in the $70-145 range for one 35-minute show in Calgary. Eddie was patient with the many interruptions from the audience, squelching them smoothly and masterfully.
I especially liked the way he handled one interruption, during his piece on Medusa. He talked about how, with snakes on your head, it's always bad hair day, and how the snakes always woke up before Medusa in the morning -- "What? You're up -- oh, put in a video, will you" -- and how it was worse because she couldn't even look in a mirror to fix her hair, or she'd turn to stone --"

"No, that's not right!" a woman in the audience called out. "It was the other people who looked at her who'd turn to stone. Not her!"

Eddie raised his eyebrows before asking for clarification. She gave a rather long-winded explanation of the Gorgon myth before Eddie cut her off by saying, "But you were all right with the snakes watching a video, then?" And then casually remarking that his show "was not actually interactive, unless you really want to get a lot of abuse." By this time, everyone else was waiting for him to humble her completely, but all he did was briskly toss his head and say a single word: "Anyway." I know it's not funny when you're reading it, but it was a sublime moment. Eddie, in every way, you are a beautiful man.
Yes, I did the fan thing, waiting around outside the Vogue Theatre for an hour, Fearless encouraging me not to give up at the 45-minute mark, until Eddie came out, signed autographs and had his picture taken with the Izzard addicts. Yes, as soon as I figure out how to post them, you'll see me with Eddie. He's incredibly nice. A week after the show, I'm still wondering: if I want to fondle a man's false breasts, does that make me a lesbian? Where did I put that "Freud for Dummies" book, anyway?
The trip included mooching off my generous cousin Tom and his girlfriend Deb in Vancouver (thanks again, eh?), a jaunt over to Vancouver Island to pester Nikki and Dani, and watch Kirsten and Nikki disappear down a sun-speckled lane, riding Breezy and Tony, as I walked behind, with Zena the dog on a leash. Then more mooching off my lovely cousin MaryAnn in Victoria -- you may say I use my family as convenient hoteliers, but having me for only one night is kindest to them, really. The return trip included a kite-flying interlude on a mainland beach, two horrible road accidents (not ours) that stopped traffic for a couple of hours, a meltdown outside Salmon Arm that nearly led to a punchup (a natural result of spending 3 days in my company), a quick and amiable resolution, another burger in another roadside cafe, a hair-raising night drive on the bendy Golden road, and a final picture-taking session in the driveway of El Condo Non Grande at 3:30 a.m. Then a day of recovery in a Calgary park.
The rest of the week was hectic, with lots of piled up work and two new account execs on board. So it made perfect sense to take another day's vacation and head out into the country to relax before Saturday's long-awaited, fear-inducing
How did we do? Well, to put it in the kindest possible terms, we fucking smashed them. The Myrmidons hoisted the trophy after three hard-fought games, then quickly went and drank too much and indulged in a huff or two behind the clubhouse, courted our admirers, posed for pictures, and went home. The funniest part of the afternoon, for me, was when we were about to begin the final game. Chris, the president of my company, pulled me aside to say, "Look, I don't care what you do, just BEAT MICHAEL, okay?" Michael being Karo's creative director, my much-admired boss, and an absolute competitive asshole on the pitch. He plays an aggressive psychological game, completely wasted on the Myrmidons, I have to say. We can't be psyched out. We're usually too drunk. So while Michael was calling out encouragements to his team such as "You were only 12 feet out on that last one, Tamra, so adjust your swing and you'll kick these guys out of the way," I was hollering, "That was AMAZING! Nice weight!" no matter who threw the bowl. The lads, John, Craig and Andy, bowled like the weapons-tested, inspired geniuses they are. And to his credit, Michael gave us a very nice victory salutation in front of everyone. Though I note there is a very large bottle of Maalox in his office this morning. Heh heh heh. Whehey!