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Thursday, February 26, 2004
We ramble, because we can ... You've probably heard of web sites devoted to the harassment of e-mail scam artists from Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and other places. This one,, has an impressively large collection of "mugu" ["idiot"] pictures. Not to mention some highly diverting correspondence. Jane Vaults From the Room: In the lunchroom, one of my colleagues complains at length about the amount of scent, in cologne form or aftershave, worn by various Catholic teachers in the building. I have a Cliff Clavvin moment and pipe up, "They probably don't know about olfactory adaptation, that their nose stops registering certain scents when they've smelled them long enough." Another colleague frowns. "Yeah, but how do you know the smells are the same as an old factory?" Funny, because true: In the mid '90s my cousin Lester introduced me to friends of hers who pioneered some very cool metal furniture, with only one notable misfire. This was a candleholder that was constructed from three slender rebar rods welded together to a heavy base. The rods themselves were spot-welded together at various points, but left free towards the top; you'd take a large spherical candle and, forcing the rods apart, jam the candle down among them. The rods would clamp onto the candle and the effect was both very simple and very cool. Except for one thing: they hadn't counted on what would happen when the candle burned down sufficiently; that is, the rods would suddenly snap back together, blasting the burning candle high in the air, spraying gobbets of molten wax and creating general mayhem. Which reminds me, there's plenty of fine readin' at The US Consumer Product Safety Commission, including 20 or 30 dangerous candles, such as the menacing menorah from Crate and Barrel:

The candles burn down, the acrylic base ignites! Fine Hanukkah hijinx.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
What Would Jesus Direct? Oh, I could go on and on about why I'm furious with Mel Gibson today, but I'll try to keep it short. "The Passion of the Christ" is revolting and riveting at the same time. There is so much explicit violence -- no matter what you feel about the basic story, what you are seeing is a human body being torn slowly apart, with clubs, fists, ropes and scourges -- and it is so relentless in the blood and shredded skin and torn scalp and dislocated joints that it literally forces you to withdraw. Okay, maybe not you, but me. To me, Gibson's use of violent torture scenes was overtly orgiastic -- ironically warping the "passion" of the title. Also: the Lucifer walk-ons got old really quickly. Mostly: if you don't know anything about the life of Jesus, this movie is only going to give you hints of the rabbi he was, the gentle teacher he was, before subjecting you to an endless bloodfeast. Okay: I misted up in two spots, when Mary tries to help her dying son, and when the reluctant Jew who is forced to carry the cross with Jesus suddenly reaches an arm around him to help him. Nitty: all that blood, and no flies? There were enough of them swarming around the dead donkey when Judas snuffed it. I wonder what made Gibson hold back: sure, show Him slathered in his own blood and tattered flesh. But flies are gross! Or maybe flies weren't mentioned in the Gospels. Catholic fromage: St. Veronica and the veil with the perfect imprint of Jesus's bloodied face. A miracle in rebus format. Riveting: As a former Classics major, I found it fascinating to hear Latin spoken in what I can only describe as an Italian cadence. Recognized "Quid est veritas?" ["What is truth?"] right off. Bring back Latin, I say, and class up your films. Controversial? Gibson can say what he likes about not being anti-Semitic, but Jews definitely do not come off well in this film, aside from one or two token good guys. In closing: Mel Gibson had the ability to make a movie of his own vision of the death of Christ, and that's what you get. It really is only about the death of Christ, and therefore assumes an awful lot of knowledge about the life and historic impact of Christ. But personally, all the gore of the movie only served as a distraction; yes, I know the drill: Christ died for everybody's sins. But the movie never tells you why he was intended for such a sacrifice. That, to me, is the crucial [sorry] question, the foundation of the religion. Well, anyway...I didn't mind Peter Jackson making his own vision of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and atheists and agnostics might say that the Bible and LOTR are equal fantasies. But I went in curious, and came out repulsed. Spoiler: Lucifer? He's a chick!
Monday, February 23, 2004
Not much going on, but that's no good reason not to blog. I've been invited to Mexico for Easter, which should be do-able as long as the pixies take care of my Visa account while ensuring that I get at least $10K back on my taxes this year.
When Catholics Direct: I'm off tonight to see a preview of "The Passion of the Christ," or "Holy, but did Mel Get Scary Religious Or What?" I've browsed a few pictures taken from the movie, all of which show Christ in extreme agony, with so much blood and gore that it looks like He's poured marinara sauce down His shirtfront. I don't quite know how I feel about seeing this movie: a little apprehensive, I guess. Any sort of fanaticism makes me withdraw in discomfort, and I guess I'm worried that the film will be an exercise in rigid fundamentalism. We'll see. Perhaps all it will accomplish is to make me regret laughing at the "Murphy's Nails" joke my brother told me in 1989.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Okay, if Mel Gibson can make "The Passion of the Christ," and the Canadians and Brits can co-create "The Gospel According to John," I think it's high time we saw The Book of Job translated to the screen. Directed, of course, by Woody Allen.
Those old black magics, the nutty dogs Carbon and Theo, effected an instant cure for my horribule gloom of last week. There is nothing like an early morning snout in the eye to proclaim, "Damn glad to see you." The cat is growing progressively more bold around the riotous mutts, waiting until they're rolling each other around the condo before tucking in to their dinners. Still, I have a first-class slash down one thigh, the result of Martini launching herself from my lap because a dog dared to sniff in the general direction of her bum.
I am this dumb: I will buy scrap dowel rod, paying approximately 50 times as much as it's worth, simply because some enterprising soul in Tokyo has labelled it as a rolling pin for noodle dough. Martha would be proud.
Friday, February 13, 2004
I'm going to be very, very glad to see this week finished. Except that it won't be, at least not for me, until sometime next month. Elsewhere outside this office, it's a long weekend. Heh, say I, knowing I'll be working on Monday. Right now I'm going through the "buck up, buttercup" rituals of remembering just how lucky I am to be where I am in life at this particular moment. It always helps. And by the way, if I were really a problem drinker? I'd have been drunk for most of this week.
But I am rich, I tell you, rich in friends, in family, in wonderful dogs, in complaining cat--all what love me anyway.
There, I just smiled. Phew!
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Curling cuisine! I guess the sport of curling has more influence than I'd realized. Yer basic curling rocks:

Yer new Tupperware® cookware for chefs:

I like it. I don't know how if I could throw it past the hog line, but I like it.
Payment in really, really full: The whole office was staggered this afternoon by the delivery of a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates. We're talking the biggest heart-shaped box of chocolates ever, easily 2 feet across the midrift. And although by the time I got there some ratbastard had already swiped the dark chocolate-covered ginger, I made sure I was the ratbastard who bagged the espresso caramels. This rare event was made even more enjoyable by the discovery that our bon-bon benefactor was our client, the Alberta Dental Implant Academy. Drumming up future business! Evil dentists and their visionary thinking. Or perhaps they own shares in an insulin company. We're enjoying the irony almost as much as the gluttony. Oof.
Monday, February 09, 2004
Dogs, dogs, all is dogs. Three days of dog care are over, and all I've got to show for them are a stiff forearm from chucking the ball, and a slightly shell-shocked cat. I can't tell you just how great it was: those dogs were more fun to watch than television. They insisted on eating each other's food, both different vet-approved brands, which gave both of them a lethal case of gas on Saturday afternoon that had the cat scrambling for cover and me running around opening windows. I get Carbon again for the coming weekend, and then for an entire week in mid-March, which means more long walks in the dog parks, more early morning ball-chucking, more cans of pop sent flying by tails of steel. I can't wait, of course.
I know some of you have been waiting, patiently for the most part, for that phenomenon known as Jane Picks the Oscars [a.k.a. Jane Gets Most of Them Dead Wrong Again]. However, it occurs to me that this year is the 30th in a row that I've watched the Academy Awards, and without turning to the Preferred Database I can tell you that the winners back then were "The Godfather Part II," Francis Ford Coppola, Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, and "The Way We Were." Dunno who the supporting actor/ress were, sorry. So in honour of this prestigious milestone, I've put extra time and effort into getting all the picks wrong. And they are: [pause while papercut is sustained getting envelope flap unstuck:]
Best Picture: The Lord of The Rings: Return of the King.
Best Actor: Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation." (But no surprise if Sean Penn bags it.)
Best Actress: No idea! I'll close my eyes and pick Charlize Theron for "Monster," but just watch it go to Diane Keaton for that lightweight "Something's Got to Give." Pretty terrible year for the women, really.
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins, Mystic River.
Best Supporting Actress: Another crapshoot! How about René Zellwegger for a-drawlin' and a-squintin' in "Cold Mountain"?
Best Director: Peter Jackson.
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Return of the King.
Cinematography: Master and Commander.
Editing: Return of the King.
Art Direction: Return of the King.
Costume: The Last Samurai.
Makeup: Return of the King.
Original Score:Return of the King.
Original Song: Return of the King.
Sound: Return of the King.
Sound Editing: Master and Commander.
Visual Effects: Return of the King.
Animated Feature: Finding Nemo.
Foreign Language Film: [after "hey, where the hell's 'City of God'?"] "Zelary."
Documentary feature: It's almost impossible to think that "Capturing the Friedmans" won't win, but then again, "Fog of War" has an anti-war message. So...oh fuck it, "Capturing the Friedmans" HAS to win.
Documentary Short: Chernobyl Heart.
Animated Short: Harvie Krumpet.
Live Action Short: Two Soldiers.
The Question: How many Correct Guesses on the Oscars will I make in 2004? Last year was my highest score ever: 12/24. The person who guesses correctly, or guesses the number nearest to the number of Oscar picks I get right, will win something utterly delightful. Send your e-mails to today!
Thursday, February 05, 2004
First sign that today is better than yesterday: My Eddie Izzard calendar arrives. If only teenaged girls could apply makeup half so well.
The Killer Mare of Vancouver Island: I wasn't the only one having a crappy day yesterday. My pal Nikki Tate was on a trail ride with her daughter. At one point, she and Dani were leading the horses down an embankment, across a shallow brook and up another bank. Dani went first, leading Tony. No problem. But Breezy, veteran trail horse, who crossed the Truckee River in Nevada day in and day out carrying riders on her back, flipped out at the prospect of putting a single hoof into the water. I'll let Nik describe the ensuing action herself: "The last thing I saw was this wall of white chest coming at me like a hairy avalanche and then my head became the filling in a horse/tree-trunk sandwich. A sickening cracking/crushing sound echoed in my skull. Excruciating pain shot through my jaw and then I found myself being tossed backwards into a low fork in the tree."
As proof that my old high school chum is tougher than a $2 steak, she climbed back in the saddle and rode home. Dani put the horses away and then hauled Nik to the hospital, where doctors pronounced her impressively bruised but not broken. Her riding helmet was nicely smashed, though. Her assessment of Breezy? "That horse is a bit of a nutcase." But sweet!
In 15 minutes I become the dog-sitting woman of Inglewood. Lawrence is dropping off the incredible bonehead Lab, Carbon, before heading off for a skiing weekend. Tomorrow night I pick up the beloved Theo from Bryce and Tabitha. Carbon and Theo get along like gangbusters, so entertaining them won't be too hard. The cat, on the other hand....oh, that poor cat.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Flame on! Flame ON! [cough, sputter, fizz.] Sigh. Not even a spark. I'm going home.
If you've asked me three times today whether you've done something to upset me, and each time the answer has been, "No, I'm just extremely busy and can't talk," the fourth time the answer will be "yes."
Bad day? Bad day. Oh, well. Only two more ads to expel from the top of my head before I can go blow money on a cat bed.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Hooting helplessly at my desk while reading Izzle Pfaff's devilishly great writing on the Super Bowl:
Aerosmith. These antediluvian fucks. Whose idea was this? Anyway, there they were, prancing ridiculously; they looked like the Living Avatars of Fruit Leather. Joe Perry arthritically strangled his guitar like a recalcitrant stepchild, and Steven Tyler . . . good god. He clutched frantically at the microphone, like a drowning man, as his glassine bones moaned under the weight of his terrible array of scarves. And of course his voice is just ruined any more: he searched myopically for notes the way a frustrated man looks for a missing sock in the back of the dryer, and unable to locate any, resorted to some terrible, grainy shrieking. At this point, mysteriously, tiny men began parachuting into the stadium, for unclear purposes. Tyler eyed them nervously, and I thought, ecstatically, They're coming to kill Steven Tyler! Finally!
His indictment of the Super Bowl ads is just as deadly. Thank you, thank you, Skot. You understand.
Monday, February 02, 2004
Yep yep yep yep: Butternut squash, russet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, pan-seared chicken, some stock, some curry, cumin and cinnamon, freshly ground pepper and salt, finished with cilantro. God DAMN. That's good eatin'.
City of God is currently up for Best Foreign Film Oscar, and although I haven't seen any of the other foreign nominees (not even our "foreign" Canadian film!), I'd have to say that it gets my vote, automatically, just for being made. The fact that the director found kids from the streets in Rio de Janeiro to play characters in the film. The fact that it was shot on pretty much a zero budget. There's no set-dressing in this film -- just a few hundred years of poverty and absolute squalor. Chaos and colour and horror and it never stops. What's so extraordinary is how optimistic the "everyman" character, Rocket, manages to be. There's every reason in the world why he should be dead by his 16th birthday, if not earlier, but in the face of overwhelming odds he manages to accomplish his one life goal. Two, if you count losing his virginity. Also: the soundtrack is utterly hypnotic, something I absolutely must own and soon.
Finished the 2004 High Performance Rodeo with a viewing of "King Gesar," which for some reason I thought was going to be a historical play. With puppets. Obviously I'd mixed up a couple of shows in my head. It turned out to be modern opera, the story taken from Tibetan legend. There was one singer, the magnificent baritone Michael Hope, who was also the narrator. The music was, as you might expect, atonal at times, almost Foley-sound-effectey at others, and occasionally painfully shrill. What Fearless and I found interesting about the story were the many parallels between King Gesar and Jesus. Except that Jesus wasn't born in a egg expelled from the top of his mother's head. And you don't read much about his magical flying horse in the New Testament. And he didn't expel the merchants from the temple by singing "Ka li lili li ka raka raka" at them. But there were coincidences nonetheless.
Can you say "lawsuit"? No, you can't, because you're the Red Deer Public School Board and you have had the great good fortune to escape having your ass sued off. My 9-year-old nephew broke his arm on Thursday, while in gym class, during a climbing exercise. The rail on the climbing apparatus he was standing on came loose and rotated, causing Orrin to fall off, striking his arm on the rail on the way down, and then falling over onto the same arm when he hit the ground. Orrin thinks it's great that he has a big ol' cast and can get his friends' signatures. The school board is happy that my brother and sister-in-law aren't the litigious type. I think there may have been some suggestion that the rest of the equipment get a safety check, that's all. So far we've escaped the ludicrous option of having a multitude of signs posted, saying "Caution: falling from a great height may result in serious injury."