Not My Blog
Thursday, August 28, 2003
We're off to see the Izzard: Tomorrow morning, cruelly early, I'm packing the van with 50 or so cans of diet lemon cola, CDs, ibuprofen and the latest afghan project, stuffing Fearless and her gear on top of it (mind the needles, hey) and heading west to Vancouver. Instead of making the entire distance in one day and arriving exhausted and irritable, we're making our way sensibly across British Columbia, steering clear of forest fires, sleeping one night in whatever wretched auberge appeals to us, and reaching Vancouver on Saturday. We'll stretch, floss, and freshen our outfits before heading to the Vogue Theatre to catch Eddie Izzard's "Sexie" show. I can't wait.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
The Insidious Homo Agenda strikes again! Before starting to write a promotional booklet for a hotel, I often refer to previous documents for headline style and other points, mainly to prevent any accidental repetition in the new piece. It's not hard, but it's not exactly easy, either. Once you start writing about a hotel, especially one situated on the Vancouver waterfront, you have to blow the dust off the same old cadre of adjectives. "Breath-taking." "Magnificent." "Opulent." "Majestic." "Panoramic." "Elegant." "Cosmopolitan." And many other lavishly syllabled labels. Good luck finding something new to say about them. It's really more a case of rearranging them artfully.
So during this sort of exasperating exercise, it's absolute jam for me to look at last year's haughty brochure and discover, on the accommodation spread, that the colour scheme was inspired by a maritime "pallet" carefully chosen to "compliment" the architectural highlights. Another careless writer entangled by sinister homonyms! The English language has a couple of new notches in its belt today.
A tip of the hat to the resourceful Danyon, who wrote in with the much-needed news that "Rotis" was a hot typeface in 1998/99, while the rest of you font-fucks left me hanging. Don't think I'll forget this, either. If I can't get my "friends" to do my job, I guess I'll just have to do it myself from now on. Danyon, you are the exception. You can do my work for me anytime, darling.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Checking our self-esteem levels, we find... our new driver's licence photo caused the registry's computer system to crash. Seriously: fill out forms, sit in uncomfortable chair, stare at small red light, flash of light, then -- nuthin'. The clerk, once she had recovered from my digitized magnificence, was forced to call the provincial techno-gilligans to get the system back up. Then, with no small amount of trepidation, she took my mugshot again. Tremors were felt. Whirrs and soft metallic groans were heard. But this time the old ship held together. I envision my pixels moving in one large lump, like a pygmy goat through a python, towards the Central Registry in Edmonton.
In other words, prepare for a Western blackout, due some time later this afternoon.
A great day for hippos: On Saturday my cousin MaryAnn and two of her children, Mary-Stewart and Davis, paid a visit to El Condo Non Grande. We decided to spend the day at the Calgary Zoo, checking out the new Africa pavilion. Luck was on our side a few times that day, as we managed to catch the elephant show, and later, as we entered the pavilion, the hippo show was about to start. Unlike the elephants, the hippos didn't perform any "tricks," unless tricks consist of letting the keeper rub your hard palate without snapping your jaws shut and removing his arm at the shoulder. After the show was over, the hippos swam back through their glass-sided pool to the hippo ramp, then slowly emerged. A huge sign was posted saying that climbing the railing wasn't advised, as hippos liked to mark their territory. Looking around, I noticed a large number of people who ignored this, as they crammed up against the fence, many parents lifting their darlings for a closer look. And then, with exquisite timing, the larger of the hippos let fly with a consignment of dung, sweeping her tail furiously side to side and sending a fan-like spray of poo into the crowd. You want an encounter with Africa? We'll give you a damned encounter with Africa. Davis had been right up against the fence, but luckily shielded by a crowd of now completely grossed-out adults and kids. I usually don't mind yer agricultural smells, but hippo manure is something else, something almost malevolent. Oh, and funny.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Fonty fonty font... I have been asked to come up with a list of most popular fonts by year, starting with 1983. I have been asked by the president of my company to do this, in aid of a secret undertaking which I've just realized I'm going to miss, being in Vancouver. Anyway. I've done searches on Google, and searched my favourite databases, but it's hard to come up with year-by-year results. Yes, I could research 20 years worth of Print and How and Communication Arts, but ow. Head hurt much.
So far I have the following:
Yes, I have seen everything now.
[I swiped this from Accordion Guy. Hope he doesn't mind.]
But I'd still like to see an example of what those spammers call "discrete packaging." A little packaging over here...a little way over there? And some two doors down? Dopes. While you're spamming the OED or Merriam-Webster, you might want to check the difference between "discrete" and "discreet." Just a thought.
Monday, August 18, 2003
Fab bros, fabbo weekend: Not only did I have Theo the Wonderhound for three whole days, but I had a last-minute call from my older brother on Friday to say that my younger brother and his family were doing the unprecedented: coming on a camping weekend to older bro's new "cabin" far out in the country, on the Red Deer River. That would make it three weekends in a row I could spend in the company of one or both brothers: unprecedented; wonderful.
I raced home Friday night to bundle the rambunctious Theo into the van and head off into the country, following my brother's directions that I thought took unnecessary extra time. [Hint: foreshadowing here.] Met up with younger brother Colin on the road, which was a blessing for him, as he was on the way to being hopelessly lost.
The kids were thrilled to see Theo again. "Auntie Jane," said my eldest niece Marilla, "didn't you use to say that if Theo was a guy, you'd marry him?" "Yes, dear," I said, "but that was before his little operation." Theo himself was not sure about the other two dogs present: the incredible bonehead Carbon, Lawrence's black lab and Bronco, Colin's mostly intelligent collie-cross mutt. He left them pretty much alone until Carbon, the little vamp, starting poking him with her muzzle and dropping sticks in front of him as he lay at my feet. That was it: he was up and humping within seconds, leading to some quick explaining to the pre-teens that "humping isn't always about sex, kids." Not the way Theo does it, anyway, often head first, while Carbon was eating her dinner, on the stairs, pausing while chasing the ball, etc. They're both fixed, so it was love's labour lost, but the humping and wrestling did serve to tire them out while providing the kids with a little entertainment in lieu of television. Theo was rechristened "Prince Humperdinck" that night, after the "Princess Bride" character. He didn't seem to mind.
There were 11 kids and 5 adults present, the extra two kids being birthday party guests of my nephew Orrin. That meant lots of adult-supervised activities and non-stop clean-up. The archery lessons were a huge hit, and in the one time when I was the adult observer, I decided to take a turn with Lawrence's hunting bow. I put the slap guard on and the finger-dowels, and still managed to nearly sever one nip while giving myself a beautiful haematoma on the inside of my upper arm. And missing the target, too, goddammit. "Auntie Jane is just going to watch you kids for the rest of this session, okay?" I said, crying.
We took the kids/dogs to the river a few times for canoe trips and swimming. I abstained from swimming because my skin is currently insane, but somehow ended up the messiest from throwing the ball, kong and hunting dummy for the dogs, who would happily shake mud and sand all over me. When I finally went to bed the second night, Theo jumped up and was asleep before he hit the mattress, and had to be awakened the next morning.
We had driven the birthday guests home the day before, and having two less 9-yr-old boys around cut the noise level by about half. Nevertheless, the clamour for entertainment continued, satisfied by more archery and horseshoes and colouring and exploring. Marilla was the outstanding archer of the family, earning the nickname "Leggylass" (after "Legolas") by consistently skewering the full-sized coyote dummy Lawrence had set up for the adults to hit, not the bigger and closer target for the kiddies. Lawrence and Colin buggered off for some "men time," i.e., fishing, so after about an hour or so I suggested that we take the kids/dogs back to the river, a mile or so upstream from the lads. If that didn't scare the fish away, nothing would.
Later, when everyone had returned and lunched, and packed up their stuff preparatory to leaving, Lawrence suggested target practice with his hunting slingshots. Again, the younger girls outshot their brothers and cousins, so Auntie Jane thought she should teach her brothers a thing or two as well. WHAP! went the slingshot tubing against the inside of her wrist, raising a lovely welt that was as blue as her language. I'm just glad we changed our minds about trap shooting, as I would probably be missing a few fingers or toes by now.
It was such a fine weekend that nobody really wanted to leave, but finally I poured Theo into the van and headed south, back to Calgary, using my infallible sense of direction. Two hours later (the drive there had taken 80 minutes), I discovered I was driving southeast, i.e., eventually either to Montana or Saskatchewan, so had to back-track a bit before finally heading the right way. "The forest fire smoke has obscured the mountains. No wonder you lost your bearings," I comforted myself. "Except that the damned sun tends to set in the west, which should have tipped you off, smoke or no smoke, moron," said my left brain. At last, we reached Calgary. I bade a reluctant farewell to the exhausted Theo, and had a quick tour of Bryce and Tabitha's house before driving home. A fabulous weekend indeed.
Mean, but hilarious: the Dairy Queen billboards showing huge hot fudge sundaes, with the caption, "Here, Jared Jared Jared."
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Adieu, Brute: My old roomie Lori phoned on Monday with the news that the venerable Brutus, the first cat I ever owned, died the previous Saturday of kidney failure at the grand age of 17. He was always a loony stringbean of a cat, but affectionate to the three or four people in the world whom he trusted. I named him "Brutus" because I was a nerdy Classics student when I got him, and it means "Stupid." He was a glutton for vigorous back-scratches, doing his patented tippy-toe dance as you drummed your fingers along his spine. And as Lori said, the only accident he ever had was about three years ago, when he lost part of his tail in the screen door. Not that you'd notice -- he'd always had about twice the normal length of tail, anyway. Goodbye, old Brutus Maximilian, Brutus Tootus, Brutie Tootie. And thanks again to Lori and Bruce for looking after you for the past 15 years.
Whehey, Myrmidons. We creaked out another two wins on the lawn-bowling pitch last night, and somehow, through some actuarial miracle, found ourselves holding second place in the league standings. The season is now over, with a three-week hiatus until the playoffs on September 6th. But we Myrmidons have already planned our training sessions to keep our skills honed for the kill. We'll practice rolling cannon shot across the prairies. We'll crush whole lemons in our hands to strengthen our grip. We'll drink even more beer while heckling each other's bad shots. And throughout it all, we'll chant the words that McDoom taught us at the start of the season: We Shall Smash Them! A bit.
Ready, Eddie. A mere two weeks now until the road trip to see Eddie Izzard in Vancouver. It's fate. I read that Eddie really liked the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," starring the one-time Bonder, George Lazenby. I really liked it, too. I just know that at some point during his show, Eddie's going to glance over the crowd of 500 people and sense the common, eternal bond between us. That's why I'm bringing my passport.
Yes, yes, just kidding. But it would be cool.
Beautiful sunsets lately, with all the forest fire smoke in the air. I feel that I shouldn't find them as stunning as I do, considering the awful price exacted for them. That and I'm coughing a lot. Stupid lungs.
Monday, August 11, 2003
The poor schmo who gets my blood today is going to experience the garlic and jalapeño rush of his life, as that is all I ingested this past weekend. [A lie.] Update: I was turned away! Insufficient haemoglobin! First time in 55 donations. You know what this means: Guinness for breakfast for the next couple of months. Huzzah.
Bunan Bandol 1998. Purchased in 2002 in anticipation of the Great Clickover. Forgotten about on the actual birthday. Carted up to family reunion and forgotten again. Carted to Red Deer on Saturday and finally, finally uncorked late at night in the company of beloved brother and sister-in-law. I have never tasted a wine that fulfilled its promise so well. Every tasting note on the label was a crescendo in the mouth. It was one of those wines that make you realize why wine fags become wine fags*, because like all exasperating, enriching pursuits in life, you strive to experience that first moment of tasting over and over again. What an absolute goddamned untrammelled PLEASURE.
*[This term used in a strictly jocular sense, having evolved from an "art fag" sketch in the early '90s by the comedy troupe Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie.]
Friday, August 08, 2003
A phrase I wouldn't like to see taken out of context: "While no one will ever know exactly what transpired in the final minutes of Flight 93, every shred of evidence indicates this plane crashed because of the heroic actions of the passengers." It made me think: it's just a strange damn sentence, taken by itself. (Heroes crash planes?) Second, it could have just as easily come from some Al Qaeda [Arabic for "cowardly bastard"] manifesto, not FBI spokeswoman Susan Whitson. What weird times we live in.
The Gathering of the Clan, a.k.a. “The Kickham Family Reunion,” was an event of epic proportions. No, make that biblical – I forgot about the plague of locusts. Anyway, for the last month or so, whenever I discussed the upcoming reunion with myself or others, I became quite agitated, fretting about all the possible disasters [admittedly I didn't quite predict the locusts]. And the upshot of all that fretting? I am an idiot. It was a marvellous get-together, hilarious by times, debauched at others, touching, silly – well, you get the idea. I've got a great family.
I'd mentioned about a month ago my idea of having T-shirts printed with small talk emblazoned on the front, but Mike from Ireland persuaded me that to wear such a shirt would be rude, not to mention slightly gutless. The alternative was to steel myself to the reality of small talk, to accept the challenge of being polite when asked for the 8th time, "And how's life in Calgary?" or some other variation of questions you ask when you don’t really know someone anymore. So I did. And it was fine. Thanks, Mike. I needed that kick in the ass.
We held the reunion at Rundle's Mission up at Pigeon Lake, a heritage site with a peculiar landmark, like a giant slingshot buried up to the pinions in the ground: two giant "arms" of concrete, about three stories tall, stretching upwards and outwards. ["Perfect for launching water balloons across the lake, if we could get the rubber bands," said one cousin.] At first the idea of the mission made me giggle, but then the thought of me in any sort of religious setting makes me giggle, which I suppose is proof that I am in desperate need of saving. Anyway. The mission is this gigantic log building, more of a lodge, really, with two dormitories, a gigantic kitchen and dining room, spacious upstairs hall, and acres of well-tended grounds overlooking the lake. Even in 33-degree Celsius weather, the building stayed pleasantly cool. All that for a mere $225 per night, which kicks the flabby hinders of most hotels I've ever stayed at. And there was enough fridge, stove, oven and counter space for everyone, an important consideration in a clan full of cooks.
Oh, the cooking. The meals. From the inaugural wienie roast on Saturday afternoon to a decadent breakfast on Monday, it was like being aboard a luxury liner, albeit one constructed of logs: food, food and more glorious food. Ribs. Chicken. More exotic salads than Martha Stewart has napkin rings. A decadent fry-up breakfast. Grilled flesh. Potatoes potatoes potatoes. Not to mention those post-breakfast refreshments of beer, wine, boozy coolers and occasional martinis. I had to take a cricket bat to my liver on Monday just to get it back under my waistband. If I hadn’t left the Mission after breakfast, I'd be dead by now.
As a single person in a group full of families, I really got the best of both worlds, in that I could play with the kids when I wanted to, but didn't have to worry about feeding or clothing them, or wondering whether they’d brained a sibling with a bocce ball. Mostly I just enjoyed watching the kids playing together, rocketing around the grounds, taking part in crafts, putting on a talent show, and subsisting on desserts and pop.
And now, a confession: I didn't really do much to help out over the weekend. I poked about doing the odd sink of dishes here and there, cleaning up rubber fragments after the Water Balloon Escapade of 2003, picking up pop cans, but nothing much else. The busy moms and dads did the rest of the work. Although I did do my share to get rid of all that spare beer cluttering up the fridges.
So a grand weekend indeed, thanks to cousins MaryAnn, Les, Carol, Aunts Ann and Peggy, and my brothers and their families. I came away on Monday thinking I'd behaved rather badly, i.e., lazed about a bit too much, which is why I let a few days pass before writing this blog. Now all I can do is smile when I think about last weekend: about my brothers and our three Jones cousins sitting by the campfire the first night, having outlasted everyone else, and laughing ourselves into exhaustion. About fending off those damned grasshoppers at the beach, watching otherwise calm human beings suddenly flap and spasm at finding themselves transformed into a locust perch. Listening with immense pleasure as my younger male cousins played guitar long into the night on Sunday, then proceeded to drink all available alcohol on the premises [helping out, you see?] and stay up to 5:00 a.m. My younger brother and I tried to keep up with them, but I conked out by 2 a.m., and Colin discovered that when you mix beer, coolers and wine, they will happily remix themselves later, on the grass, while killing you. Looking at the living wrecks sitting at the breakfast table on Monday, I just knew that Mom, Aunt Lloy and a contingent of Kickham ancestors were somewhere grinning widely. Now THAT's a family reunion, dammit.
Friday, August 01, 2003
And there are times when you feel a surge of love for complete strangers, when something about them -- something they do or say -- makes you long to know them. Yesterday I took my bad-tempered self to the grocery store for family reunion kibble, and saw a little girl who'd obviously undergone chemotherapy, since she was very pale and completely bald, having lost even her eyebrows. She came out from one aisle and skipped past me. Then I heard an adult call her name, and her dad came chasing after her. He'd completely shaved his own head and eyebrows. He caught her up in his arms and she squealed happily. Meanwhile I had to turn my eyes to the display of canned olives, as I was brimming with tears. I spent a good part of the day moaning about the awfulness of people. Then I find out once again how wonderful they can be. What a great father.
Copyright © 2000-2011 Jane Farries
All blandishments herein are property of the proprietor. There you go.