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Friday, October 31, 2003
The colour of money. Finally the U.S. is trying out coloured $20 bills, and as I said to Schmeslie in California, it's about damned time. As a member of one of all the other nations in the world that have multi-hued currency, I'll just say to the Americans, you're welcome. I mean, really, what's the sense of having the most powerful currency in the game if it's going to be so drab? And if you have to keep thumbing through your banknotes to see if you've got a $20 instead of a $1, $5, $10 or $50? Whereas I can look in my wallet, spot a flash of blue paper, and instantly know that I have $5. Or, in the more flush days, a purple for a $10 and a red for a $50. Come on over to the play money side, Americans! Red, white, blue, anything!
Truly scary celebrity costumes: David Gest. Liza Minnelli. Michael Jackson, of course. But this year's winner: Maria Shriver, for the Skeletor cheekbones. Between the Arnolds, Elizabeth Taylor, David Gest, Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers, there must have been enough trimmed flesh for a couple of living room suites. And THAT's scary.
Monday, October 27, 2003
Suspended animation, or how I spent my Sunday: the work folders were there, the ads were crying out for headlines and meaningful body copy, and I was on the couch with a large feline velcro'ed to my chest. Well, we got a couple of 'em done, anyway. Not quite enough to justify huffing on our medals and polishing them with a sleeve, but a token effort was made. Sort of.
Ate Nepalese cuisine for Saturday's dinner, thanks to Vinnie La Vin and Luke. All I can say is, I think it's the climbing of mountains or the thin air that keeps Nepalese people so tiny and fit; certainly it's not the food, which is magnificently rich and satisfying and aromatic, ah, yes -- note to self: freshly crushed cardamom makes us happy. Don't bother telling me that maybe it's because I ingested what would normally have fed an entire town of Nepalese for a week. I already know.
Ended the night watching Tony Bourdain feast on Bahamian goat tracheas in peppery palm oil, and developing instant craving for same. The best food I've ever eaten in any foreign setting is peasant food, which is why I will happily scram down dangerous looking carne asada in Mexico, or baked plantains in the Dominican Republic. Or bannock and pickerel cheeks up North a ways.
Writing food copy all day can be dangerous, especially if you suddenly have to switch to corporate or educational gear. Change "succulent" to "intuitive," "infusion" to "proven." Repeat.
Friday, October 24, 2003
The best part of the week went home to his mommy and daddy last night. Theo and I had one last galomph through a riverside park, then I dropped him back home with the post-honeymoon Bryce and Tabitha. They were all pleased to see each other. This morning I bounded out of bed at 6:30, looking for the old goof to take him for a walk. Then remembered. Somehow, looking down at a snoring mass of cat lacked the early morning joyousness of Theo Awake.
Pineapple and what? For the first time in over half a year, drinkies are being served at the end of the day at Karo. One of the partners is hitting the half-century mark. The rest of us will be hitting the bottle. I've seen the ingredients: coconut cream, rum, pineapple, melon liqueur, blended tropical juices and rum rum rum. The only thing that remains is to come up with a suitable name for such a mixture. Am toying with "The Gilligone" and "Tropical Depression," but we shall have to see.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Variously: If you are going to get married to the love of your life, you might as well make it a fabulous event for everyone. Bryce and Tabitha finally made it official last Saturday night, though as far as minds and hearts go they've been married for a good two years now, and we all knew it, just a matter of time before the vows thing. It's that lifemate phenomenon; indelible and unmistakable. And boy, does it make for a fun evening, the kind I like best. A simple, sincere ceremony, and then one hell of a bash, complete with two chef stations and a chocolate fountain. And the only kind of wedding "cake" that anyone should ever have, that is to say a tower of "croque-en-bouche", the tiny profiteroles filled with cream and held together with spun sugar. It's a French custom, said to bring good luck -- certainly it's immediate good luck for the people who get to eat it. I only hope Bryce and Tabitha had as much fun as the rest of us did. I hope they felt as good as they looked, which was stunning.
Note to Dog Owners of Calgary: If you want your dogs to come when you call them, don't give them such retarded names. Theo and I have been making the rounds of the off-leash parks this week, listening to fruitless calls of "Halley!" "Kia!" "Mia!" "Mulder!" "Timon!" "Spirit!" and so on...those poor bloody animals. I don't care how many sausage snippets you have in your hand, I wouldn't come for that name, either. I've had Theo since last Thursday, and he's been an admirable roommate, though the cat isn't so sure about him. He leaves her strictly alone and always has done, but any time he so much as looks at her, she growls and hisses theatrically (no arching of back or swelling of tail, though, since that would involve effort). At night, I am the Berlin Wall of the futon, with Theo on one side and old bitchypants Martini on the other. The morning reunification is always good for a laugh. I'm going to miss the early morning walks along the river with Theo, especially when he loses the ball and vacuums the ground with his nose in search of it, checking every few seconds to make sure I'm not just hiding it in my hand. He really is the best of dogs.
Another asthma inconvenience: as a paintball player, you are a sitting duck. As I now know, having unsuccessfully stifled one mighty bark in a cornfield and been instantly surrounded and riddled with paint bullets in a manner that would have brought tears to the eyes of Sam Peckinpah.
I sense I'm about to be "budgied" -- more blah-blah later.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
I like I like I WANT I WANT Pt. III: Heard last night on the Ceeb, and reprinted from the web site:
Two mathematicians in Moncton have invented a new musical instrument while trying to solve an age-old numbers problem. The "Tritar" creates sounds through a network of strings that are only fixed in place at one end of the instrument. The mathematicians have applied for a patent while they continue to search for an answer to their math problem.
There are so many good things about this story. The first line of the above paragraph sounds like a set-up to a joke ["Two mathematicians in Moncton walk into a lecture theatre..."]. It's also a teenage math student's fantasy come to life: dude, couldn't solve the homework problem, but look at this wailin' axe! And finally, I'm always happy when applied mathematics are, well, applied to music. Apparently the tritar looks somewhat like an inverted "Y" -- I could care, all I know is that it sounds fantastic. So what if, by playing it, you resemble Spock sitting in with the space hippies as they sang "Searchin' for Eden"? I WANT ONE.
Friday, October 10, 2003
It's not just me.
On being 40
[J.E. Farries]

Regretfully, at last, I cut the straining wires
that had bound my fondest dreams to me.
I watched as they rose and swiftly flew from sight.
What wonder, then, to find myself so light!

Thursday, October 09, 2003
Cyrillic Connolly: I spent far, far too long today tapping out bogus tourist phrases using a Cyrillic glyph table. "Vodka" looks a bit like "BoAka." "Chocolate" looks like wokonaAhoto, but is pronounced "xchok-o-lado," or something close to that. All in aid of a project for a normally great client, except this time I'm dealing with a humourless representative, someone whose cultural awareness wouldn't span a gnat's nostril. This client is a law firm famous for its hedonistic holiday kick-off parties, which also raise a lot of money for charity. I've written a party invitation disguised as a bogus tourist handbook, so it includes such indispensable phrases as "I greatly admire the chocolate fountain" and "Are lima beans a customary Food Bank donation?" in Russian, Spanish and Portuguese, the languages used in the client's international branch offices. The client's marketing rep could give Mr. Spock lessons in remaining stone-faced. "I don't get why it's a travel book," she said. "This is for a party." I remarked that her firm had a tradition of mailing out ironically witty invitations, ones that wouldn't stand up to such prolonged critical examination, either. I longed to throw in "exegesis" here, but held back: I know a limited vocabulary when I hear one. Luckily, she decided to pass the invitation to one or two of her colleagues, who laughed out loud. So far so good. And now I have a cyrillic font to play with, which is always good.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
This morning I was thinking of my friends and family in California, and wondering how they must feel waking up to a new governor whose previous political/business experience is, well, zilch. [No, I don't think marrying into a political family counts; it's not as if you become politically astute through osmosis.] And then it hit me: I've been living in a province that is in about its 18th year of consecutive figurehead governments. Some things have been good; some have been very bad. Despite 10 years in office, Ralphie stills manages to come up with amazing clangers every time he speaks off the cuff. And contrary to his press, not all Albertans favour a ban on gay marriage, hate gun control, welcome privatized medicine, or think the Kyoto Protocol is hysterical overreaction. After thinking it over, I can't imagine daily life in California will change that much for the better or worse, either, although it has made me think that there should be a competency test for voters. Wait, not only voters, candidates! Especially candidates. Yeah.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
A First: A considerate bus driver today. He waited for elderly passengers to sit down, willingly gave directions to two tourists, and kept the interior bell signal on. I nearly hugged him.
A Second: Cave-dweller met budgerigar this morning; things are coming along. I've known for some time that I tend to intimidate certain types of people; shoulda' guessed that that might have been the case this time, although I still can't believe I have that effect on others. Sourcing and will install Jane Mild patch soon.
Monday, October 06, 2003
I do, actually, love my job. But here is something I emphatically do not love: being told that something is a last-minute, blood-coughing emergency, requiring a late night for both copywriter and designer, and then finding out two weeks later that the client has not had a chance to look at the project yet. Because the client hasn't received the project yet. Also, in the intervening weeks, getting a series of "urgent oh god so urgent" tasks from the same twitchy, birdy-booted person and today receiving another consignment of "totally, totally critical" projects with punishing deadlines. I suspect, being brillyunt, that I am being fucked with. In not one, but both earholes. I think this person thinks that this is the only way to get work out of me. Just like you tell someone who's chronically late to show up an hour earlier than everyone else, just to have a chance of him showing up on time. This person is not a bad person. But this person clearly doesn't trust me, and doesn't feel comfortable enough to talk things through, so has resorted to this indirect, transparent, utterly maddening way of communicating. We must figure this out, and if I were to sketch a metaphorical scenario of our respective communication styles, I'd draw a cave dweller attempting to shake hands with a budgerigar. No need to guess which one I am.
Who needs a chiropractor when there are horses? Let me explain: I woke up last Wednesday with a cranked neck, which proceeded to get worse over the next two days, despite heat and ice treatments and much ibuprofen. On Sunday, I was up at my friend Jean's farm, and at one point we were leading two of her three horses from the pasture to the barn. The third horse, a lively little three-year-old named Lucy, lost sight of us as we walked through a patch of trees, and came tearing after us. Honey, the mare I was leading, spooked and lunged sideways as Lucy barrelled past her, knocking me off my feet. Though abundantly cushioned, I still landed quite hard and snapped my head to one side. Result: this morning, though I can still feel a little stiffness, I've regained all range of motion in my head. Didn't cost a thing, and I don't need to go back three times a month for the next five decades.
Friday, October 03, 2003
And the new apple name is.... not mine! Surprise. They picked "Aurora Golden Gala" out of 11,0006 (sic) entries. It surprised me only in that all three of those names are currently applied to apple cultivars, which according to my interpretation of the contest rules, was not allowed. But I am so often wrong. I also did not win a free cookbook or gift basket. The unfairness of life....
Thursday, October 02, 2003
It's back....metallic blue eye shadow, warm pink blush and coral-toned lipstick. I saw several examples of it on the hellish bus and thought, well, you know, rough side of town, but no! It's all over the television, the magazines, the billboards! The cosmetic combination that makes every woman look like a pre-teen playing with her mother's makeup kit. Fifty percent of the population turned into walking Beauty Parlor Barbie heads. Bring back belted jumpsuits for men, and that's it. Long time no see, 1976.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Another test of the restraint system occurred Monday night, when I was a guest at the Senior League's Lawn-bowling banquet. I had arrived late-ish, having picked up Soccer Mom from the expensive repair salon, and found that I had to sit beside the harmless yet annoying old gent who's a fixture of the club. He had been a thorn in my side last year, coaching me without invitation, but this year I got tired of getting worked up and decided to humour the old coot. He's one of those "touchers" and "leaners," in other words, a human I will never really feel comfortable around, since he can't seem to say a word to me without first placing a sweaty hand on my arm, hand or shoulder and leaning in. Anyway, Harmless also turned out to be quite a spittle-demon, so when I realized that whatever dinner I was about to enjoy would be subject to a continual spray, I closed my eyes, said a short prayer against homicide, and surreptitiously shielded my plate whenever possible.
Despite that, it was a lovely evening, making me feel that I was about 12 again, as I was at least 25 to 30 years younger than everyone else. I'm getting more of a sense of the kind of old coot I'll turn out to be, i.e., taciturn 'till the third Scotch, then unshuttuppable afterwards. My invitation had come about because my league needed a representative to donate our season's profits of $650 to the club slush fund: yes, I toyed with the idea of using it to pay for Soccer Mom's new ignition, then fleeing the country, but canned the idea, as a rogue lawn-bowler on the lam will never be the subject of a feature film.
About the budget: Along with this being the traditional time of year for me to catch a horribule cold, it's also my cash-strapped season. So thanks to the person who wrote in suggesting that I put up a PayPal link, but I'll resist that idea as long as possible. I'm getting a little tired of all the PayPal links I run across in my surfs. They're getting kind of like the silly tip jars you see all over the place now. I've donated to one or two bloggers whose popularity has forced them into crippling bandwidth fees, since I like them enough to want to keep them going. That's about it. Besides, what would I say? "I couldn't manage my money intelligently this summer: please help"? I'm managing just fine now and will commence to shut the hell up about it.
Speaking of tip jars: I don't know which of my Canadian-transported-to-California friends it was, either Vin or Schmeslie, but one of them and a pal were in a coffee shop in either LA or San Francisco. It was self-serve, so when they got up to the register with their self-poured coffees and self-selected pastries, they were somewhat surprised to see a large jar marked "TIPS" next to the till. They paid for their stuff, collected their change, and were walking away to find a table when they heard, "Uh, HELLO?" They turned back to see the coffee shop manager, a multiply pierced, dyed and tattooed 20-something female, holding up the tip jar in one hand and pointing to it dramatically with the other. "Uh, TIP JAR? Hello, TIPS?" she called out. Whereupon the friend walked back to the counter and took 50 cents out of the jar. That's the way to do it! Brava.