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Friday, September 29, 2006
Missing! Okay, all you out there. I know I've loaned out a few DVDs over the last couple of years. Who has the following?
  • Trailer Park Boys, Seasons 1 and 2
  • Gosford Park
  • Robin Williams Live on Broadway
I really don't want to have to buy these again...so if you think you're the borrower, could you have a look in your collection and get back to me?
 
Head of the line, Mr. Barnes. My brain, where books are concerned, is rather like a nightclub in the heart of a dazzling metropolis. Some books wait in line for weeks, months, or years before finally the brain bouncer nods to them. Others make it into the vestibule before being roughly pushed back into the queue by marquee stars. Sorry about that, "The Trade," but "Arthur and George" by Julian Barnes has arrived. Mr. Barnes don't wait in no queue. Good God, but that man can write. I am tapping my foot with impatience for the day to be over so I can go home and get at that book again. Screw my memorization for tomorrow's Scene Study! Screw the wild mushroom torte! Didn't you hear? Julian Barnes.
 
I think it was the Mango who described Woody Allen's "Manhattan" as a nearly perfect movie. Even if he didn't say it, I remember that he liked the movie a lot. I think, as far as my movie tastes go, it is the perfect movie. A love story to a city, with complicated human love detailed humorously. It was made in 1979, but it'll never age, like "Casablanca" or "Harold and Maude." Fabulous.
 
Well. Tuesday night's talk went well. Nothing heroic, nothing poetic, just Jane Stops With the Drinking and Why. I felt a little strange standing up before the audience, especially when I noticed they were all averting their gazes. When I sat down again I was thinking, oh well, you bored 'em, but there are worse fates than that. To my surprise, when the general discussion started, three different people quoted parts of my talk. I was flattered--and frankly surprised--that anything a middle-aged white bag said would resonate with the mostly 20-something, Aboriginal audience. I was also confronted with alcoholic brain damage, exhibited by a man who started to talk about his addiction(s) and never managed to finish a sentence. Ten minutes later, the moderator gently interrupted him and said, "We've got to finish up, Mark," whereupon he sank back in his chair and put his hand over his mouth. I felt both pity and humility at watching him.
 
Torta Torta Torta! Brought to you by Today's Oblique Pearl Harbor Reference Inc. Actually tomorrow I'm going to be making my favourite absurdly rich side dish for the Myrmidon Celebration Dins: Wild Mushroom and Potato Torte. There's actually a shot of bourbon in it, but it gets killed off by the heat. I'm not picking the mushrooms myself, so there shouldn't be any actual killing off at the dinner table.
 
Monday, September 25, 2006
Giving a talk tomorrow night. At a place called "SonRise," which is an Aboriginal outreach centre here in town. I was surprised to be asked, since you could say I'm about as Ur-Caucasian as it's possible to get. Can you say "Ur-Caucasian?" Were the Urrians Caucasians? Vinnie? Anyhoo...I was flattered to be asked and agreed immediately, although today I am of course having second thoughts. What am I talking about? Giving up drinking. Yep, three months later I've become a damned community support gilligan, that's what. My nerves stem from this: compared to most Aboriginal people anywhere, I've had the luckiest life. But if they want to know how and why I gave up drinking, that's easy. Yesterday morning I did something I've been putting off for three months, viz., pouring out what's left in various bottles in the condo down the kitchen sink. The only twinge was the waste of money, but it lasted a mere nano-second--seeing the bottles empty so quickly--without my liver being involved-- was oddly freeing.
 
Watched "Y Tu Mama Tambien" for the fifth to seventh times this weekend. Two results: an indescribable desire to go to Mexico again, and a reverent love of the following line: "Life is like the surf. So give yourself away like the sea."
 
Meet the latest Neil Gaiman fan. Vinnie loaned me a great deal of graphic novels on Saturday, including "Violent Cases" by Neil Gaiman. I've almost memorized it already. I never thought of myself as a dedicated fan of graphic novels, but I can see that changing. Now on to "1602", the series of superheroes that's set in Elizabethan times.
 
Knitting Knews: started assembling a sweater this weekend, one that I'd knitted back in 1994 and stowed away after becoming frustrated with the assembly instructions. But now, emboldened, I took out the yarn needle and commenced stitching. Screwed it up almost immediately, but thought what the hell and kept on. I may post a picture, just because it's so damned funny--in my interpretation of the instructions, the sweater has two smallish humps just below the collar at the back. Like where an angel's wings'd go. I am DUMB.
 
Friday, September 22, 2006
Pun avalanche strikes otherwise normal work day. Our soon-to-be-departed IT guy, Rudy, asked me for some help naming one of his new businesses, tuning pianos. Alas for him, the pun demon struck while I wrote, and the list I sent him was full of exasperating entries:
  • √Čtude Brute
  • Ludwig Bee Piano Tuning (also refers to Rudy's apiary biz)
  • Bach to the Future (just STOP NOW, FARRIES)
  • Forte: Piano
  • You Can Tune a Piano
  • Tune Town
  • Pitch, Pitch, Pitch!
  • B Natural
Of course, I did send a lot of conventional options as well, most of which were already taken. Sigh. Central Alberta Piano Tuning it is.
 
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I worship you, Bill Maher. From the Sept. 15 "Real Time with Bill Maher":
...when did bagpipes become the official instruments of mourning? These ceremonies [the 5th anniversary of 9/11] are depressing enough without hearing all that Scottish farting in the background.
Okay, maybe I worship his writers, too--but I think he does a great deal of his own writing. And maybe it's only us ex-pipers who find bagpipe slams funny. But I do. Oh, Bill Maher, Bill Maher...for years I've pined for you. But I doubt I'll see you deplaning in Calgary any time soon.
 
Monday, September 18, 2006
Ack-TING classes have resumed, so I'm back at the Company of Rogues on Saturday mornings taking "An Introduction to Film and TV," or Flim 'n' Telly, as I call it. I've started to notice a pattern in the roles I've been given. My last three have been psychiatrist, psychologist, and surgeon. And as I said to Vinnie La Vin, it's like the instructors know that my childhood ambition was to be a doctor. It's not that I mind being typecast, especially since they've typed me as smart and professional. But I'm fairly realistic about the kind of ACKtor I am, meaning capable but not memorable. So I'm not sure I'll ever be hired to play a doctor on TV. Shoulda' gone into pre-med way back when, I guess.
 
One of my classmates is an 80-year-old woman who's taking her first acting class, ever. She's very nice, if a bit nervous. She likes me because, in her words, "You're one of the only ones I can hear. Such a nice, big voice!"
 
Friday, September 15, 2006
PHEW. I heard back from my insurance company that they will cover 100 percent of my ambulance bill ($500 to get duct-taped to a stretcher and driven from the riding stable to the Foothills Hospital ER on that lovely concussion day back in March). What a relief. I now say, though, the next time I clonk the old melon by falling off a horse, just call a cab.
 
Update on the side-effects, because everyone needs to know every detail of my life: I was wrong when I said the doc had prescribed Premarin. The beloved GP had actually prescribed a triple-estrogen cream to be applied to the loony hide once daily. Side effects: floridly odd dreams. Twice I've woken up and gone into the kitchen to shut off the oven to keep food from burning, only to discover that the oven is off and nothing's inside. I've also given birth a couple of times, and had one lusty fistfight with a college friend (male), which I won. Clearly the oven and the womb are related, but the punchup? Perhaps it was caused by something on TV. The thing is, all these many years since puberty, it's kind of cool to see how hormones sneak up on my subconscious again.
 
Put that damned spell-check down and back away from the computer. You're doing the production art on a jargon-heavy ad for GPS engines. Your stupit computer doesn't recognize the word "pseudorandom" and suggests "pseudonym." You go for it and make a global change. The shouts you heard, coming from the Administration area offices? That would have been me.
 
Thursday, September 14, 2006
It was hard changing the topic from yesterday's school shootings in Montreal, but I dined last night with Vinnie and Schmuke, and their company--as well as the fiendishly delicious sweet potato quesadillas--restored some peace to the day. Listening to the news on the way home, I was sickened but not surprised to discover that there's a video game of the Columbine shootings available online. I'm sure, if I cared to look, I'd find video games of the Beslan school massacre, the WTC towers falling, you name it. Kind of like porn in one sense: you may think it's just titties and bums, but then you find people who are turned on by salt blocks or jellied salad. And you'll find it online if you look.
 
Can this sort of bewildering, evil, senseless shooting be prevented? Realistically, I don't think it can. Gun registration won't prevent it. Neither will education. Perhaps if there's a drug invented to cure alienation. The sole positive effect of yesterday's horror is that the Montreal police reaction was superlative--they probably prevented wholesale carnage. A legacy from the 1989 college killings--so maybe there's something from yesterday that can be used to thwart the next attack, wherever it occurs.
 
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Champs Times Two. From left to right, you'll see the Myrmidons (Kreg, Schmuke, Me, McDoom--he who kilted up properly, complete with sealskin sporran, stockings and flags), and Not Drowning But Waving, the hideous, hideous bastards who beat us on the last shot in the extra end (and the bastards' names are: Keith, Cathryn, Sean "Yeronner" Dunnigan, and Bob in the back). I decided to wear my 1950s cat's-eye glasses for extra luck on the day. Aren't we FABULOUS?
 
Monday, September 11, 2006
Attention, Cranky Lady Ahead of Me in Customer Service lineup: You don't want to exchange your item for another, you want the cash, dammit, but yet you do not have a receipt. Nor do you have a Co-op number. What else? Ah, you didn't get the item at this particular Co-op. And actually you yourself didn't get it, it was your common-law husband who did. So...let's recap, shall we? You bring in something you didn't buy at this store, and want a cash refund for it without a receipt or any way to identify who bought the thing and when. And you insult the cashier and the entire Co-op organization when you don't get your way and cannot convince the cashier to research the purchase on "The Co-op Accounting page." YOU ARE AN IDIOT.
 
One Bowl From Glory: The Myrmidons have everyone baffled on Saturday afternoon. They finished fifth in the season and are not exactly what you'd call keen competitors, being as likely to cheer their opponent's shots as their own. Yet how come they're in the finals against the first-place team? It beats the hell out of them, too, but they're determined to enjoy every minute of their playoff afternoon. First they meet The Bowling Lebowskis, who dominate the first two ends and then lose the remaining three. Then they meet their favourite league team, The Outback Jacks. Yes, those Australian accents are disarming, but it's more than that; these are really, really great people, and ridiculously fun to play against. They even forgive me for my Tasteless Remark of the Decade, viz., that had I known we'd be facing them in the playoffs, I would have prepared a suitable psychological advantage, i.e., that the Myrmidons would all have had stingray barbs sticking out of their chests as they took to the pitch. I apologize, yes, and silently pray that Steve Irwin, if he'd heard my horrible joke, might even have grinned at it as a joke he might have made himself. ANYWAY. The Jacks finished second or third overall in season play, but luck is against them in every sense now. Not just that they have to play us, but that they can't get a point if they'd paid for one. Twelve-zip they lose, but as testament to what fine humans they are, they immediately vow to cheer for us in the final against Not Drowning But Waving.
 
The game is decided by the last shot in an extra end. One half-inch difference, and the Myrmidons would be champions. As it is, we feel like champions, especially when we consider how weirdly we've played all season. Hail to Schmuke, our newest Myrmidon, taking over from Fearless who is leaving the team for the call of the mountains. Hail to Kreg and McDoom, too. Hell, even Hail to me. Lawn-bowling! Who'd have thought, eh? I mean, who'd have thought?
 
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The new morning routine: 5:30 a.m. on the freaking dot. Open eyes to see two dogs at end of bed. "Aussie Bum Meld," wherein they sleep with their behinds pressed together just below my feet, their preferred position. Perhaps, if I stay absolutely still, the dogs will let me sleep in until 6 a.m. But no, they are receptive to brainwaves, too. At once I have two snouts resting on my chest, two bums waggling like crazy, two sets of eyes trying not to make contact with my gaze, yet absolutely unable to keep from looking at me. "Okay, pups--" I grackle, and they're off to the top of the stairs. Barking to commence in 10 seconds unless death threats issued. Done. I get the first bathroom break since I pay the mortgage. Then we're off into the dawn darkness for our first morning romp.
 
It's heaven, really.
 
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Almost forgot. Hit the six-year mark today. Yep, Tuesday, September 5, 2000 was the day Grant "Hizzoner" Hutchinson volunteered to get "Not My Dog" up and running. Thanks again, Grant. Yer the swellest.
 
The invitation said, and I quote: "Please dress in 1950s fashion and come with a story, song or poem about Craig." Craig being Craig Stuart Jordheim, aka Craigellachie aka Sparky aka Crag/Kreg/Kronk. It being Craig's 50th birthday party, a surprise gathering of his friends old and new. And so it was that I rented a poodle skirt, crinoline and neckerchief, and bought some deevy cat's-eye glasses. And wrote two parodies of 1950s hits: Craiggy Stu (from "Peggy Sue") and Craig-O (from "Day-o" or "The Banana Boat Song").
 
For the record, to be considered a new friend of Craig's, you have to have known him less than 20 years. I've only known him 18 years. I was one of the newest friends at the party--he had childhood friends show up, as well as university roommates, articling pals, you name 'em. There were a few of us Carswellian types, so at least I knew one or two others in the throng of Craig-fans.
 
Craig was profoundly surprised by the gathering, and by how thoroughly Andy (the beard) had managed to fool him into staying downtown for another pint or two with a sob story about disappointed family members bagging at him (Andy) for being a failure. I was really surprised to find that I was the only one who showed up in 1950s dress, and the only one to bring songs to the get-together. Luckily most of Craig's old friends had come equipped with stories of Craig's youthful misadventures. One of my favourites was when Craig dangled himself off an apartment balcony by his arms, hoping to impress his new girlfriend, Liz. One of Craig's other friends, also a little boozed up, suggested that Craig let go. Craig, convinced that he was on a first-floor balcony, immediately did so. Just then he realized that he hadn't hit ground yet. You see, he'd dropped himself from a second-floor balcony. Liz ended up meeting Craig's parents (and her future in-laws) for the first time when she brought a casted-up Craig home from the Emergency Room. That was one of the milder stories, too--and the funniest thing is, to the first-time viewer, Craig is Mr. Straight-Laced Upright Goodguy. The various Craig stories soon had everyone crying with laughter, and my songs managed to round out the colourful offering. Anyway, a great, great party it was, made unforgettable by the guests and the gourmet cooking prepared by Judy, Craig's chef sis-in-law. I didn't even mind my solo costumery. Now I want to sew my own circle skirt and crinoline. Oh dear oh dear.
 
Released the hounds! Up at Gull Lake after a morning's fence work with Jean and Tyke, with the panting dogs in tow. It was plus-30 degrees and completely cloudless, so dashing into the shallow lake was the work of a moment. The dogs entertained themselves with swimming and racing and playing keep-away. Piper even swam out into the lake after me (I'd swum out to one of the buoys marking the swimming area)--it was her longest swim to date and she was fine. Riven, Doc and Diesel swam right along with us, which was cute but a bit of a risk for scratches as they swam over me. Later on, after another finely barbecued chicken dinner, Jean and I went for a short horse ride and the dog pack was almost too exhausted to come along. Piper and Riven curled up together and snored all the way back to Calgary. We all slept in the next morning. What a great day in the country it was.
 
I'll miss Steve Irwin. I always loved his work, too--and "The Crocodile Hunter" movie is just plain good stupid fun. No doubt he died as he would have wished, just not when he would have. I wish I could have had even half of his vision and energy. And sense of fun.
 
Friday, September 01, 2006
Not of this world. I was looking after the front desk at lunch today while the replacement receptionist took her break. It's pretty easy, although part of my ego thinks it's below my station in life, like why can't they ask newer employees to do this? Yeah yeah yeah, anyway, I found it easier to make an arrangement with the company admin. that I would cover the phones automatically. I think I hated being asked in that apologetic tone, oh, Jane, would you mind? We know you're busy, but?
 
Getting miles off topic here again. Anyway, it's a pretty easy task for a Friday, answering the few calls from people who phone other people during lunch hour and sound surprised to hear that they've gone out. The only trouble is that sometimes callers and co-workers expect me to know more about the job than just the phone-answering bit. Conversation on point:

CO-WORKER: Jane, do you know how I can arrange a rental car within the next hour? I've got a meeting at [CLIENT NAME] and the Smart car's booked.
Me: Oh, jeez, I know we occasionally use Enterprise, but you'd need to get sign-off from [dept. head] or [Karo pres.]. They're out until later this afternoon.
CO-WORKER: Maybe I could borrow someone's car. I can't miss this meeting.
Me: How far of a drive is it?
CO-WORKER: Oh, it's in the Petro-Canada tower downtown.
Me: So you'd be needing a taxi, then?
CO-WORKER: Oh yeah! I guess I could just take a taxi.
Me: [to self]: And save $150 compared to a day's car rental plus gas. Good thinking! [To co-worker]: So can I call a taxi for you, then?
CO-WORKER: Could you? How long will it take?
Me: I don't really know. When do you need it to come?
CO-WORKER: In, like, five minutes?
Me: [to self]: And you thought you could RENT a car this fast? [To co-worker]: Tell you what, if you walk two blocks to the drugstore, there are always taxis in the lot. That'll be your fastest bet.
CO-WORKER: Never mind, I'll call them. Bye!
 
So, yes, it's possible to have a career in an professional design/marketing agency without acquiring basic knowledge of how to get 19 city blocks without a rental car.