Sunday, November 30, 2003

Wha Hap?

Ok, I'm reading this story from Variety and I'm wondering:

What's an "auds" or "exhib"? And "soph"? And "distrib"? "B.O" ? "Cume"?


I get the feeling I'm missing something here -- like the other half of the word.

First off, I know perfectly well that this is an industry paper and its articles are aimed more at "insiders" who are familiar with the slang and jargon. Nevertheless, it's being distributed on Yahoo's news service, and I'd bet dollars to donuts that the publishers of Variety would be perfectly happy if a few hundred-thousand non-industry types would pay for a subscription or, better yet, buy stuff from their advertisers.

Second, I feel that any writer who can use "juggernaut" in a sentence can spell out "sophmore".

Are we in that much of a hurry today that we can't even take the time to finish words? I'm an excellent contextual reader, so it didn't take me TOO much puzzling to translate "auds" into audience (although I toyed with Audits and Audial), "exhib" into exhibitor and and "distrib" into distributor. "Cume" paused me for a minute until I had a disturbing flashback to a long ago statistics class and came up with "cumulative". I think "cume" is an actual word. I have my doubts about the others.

And the phrase "the Keanu Reeves starrer gave the overall B.O. a mighty boost" gave me a momentary chuckle as I invisioned a rising stench rather than an increase in the Box Office Earnings.

There's a reason to play around with a language. There's a reason to make up words, cut them up, give them new meanings or otherwise turn them into slang or code. The reason is exclusion. The idea is to set "us" apart from "them" by letting "us" speak in a way that excludes "them". You see it especially among adolescences and young adults, and among any group who finds themselves in a minority (especially a minority suffering from some manner of real or perceived discrimination -- I say real or perceived because you see this tendency on both ends of the socio-economic scale. Rich, white people do it, too.)

So much for the idea of joining together through language.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Dilemma

There's always a dilemma in my teeming little brain when it comes to writing about other people, especially people I know. I mean, yes, any interaction I have is part of my life and thus open territory for writing. But, anything I say is also about that person and thus about his or her life and on that score I'm less certain of my rights and responsibilities. How much should I say? What is too much? Should I speak at all? Should I ask permission? What if the person is another weblogger and very likely to read this site?

Fuck it. I met Xkot. He drove up from Jacksonville to meet the Husband and me for a few hours.

Things I noticed about Xkot.

1) Oh yes, believe him when he talks about being tall. He is impressively tall. He does it well. Not everyone is tall properly, but he's quite expert.
2) He's much better looking in person than any of his photographs led me to believe.
3) I'm risking embarrassing him by saying all this, but I'm hoping it will be more "aw shucks" than "damn bitch!"
4) We had a tremendously good time with him, just talking and eating Italian food. I did not tease him about his loathing of vegetables.
5) He's pretty funny, and I mean that in the "ha ha" way. We laughed a lot.

I always overthink my way around such situations. I wonder if I'm being pushy. Or am I not being welcoming enough? Am I talking too much or too little? Am I babbling because I'm nervous? Did I say something wrong? Why was what I said funny and can I say something like it again? It's like having brain chihuahuas --l ots of yapping and scampering and little toenails on the wood floor, but nothing much accomplished.

In any case, it was a good way to spend an afternoon. Tomorrow we leave our little slice of paradise and head back to the land of cats and day jobs.

Random thoughtlets

1) It is almost legitimately cold. No, I'm not such a thin blooded, hot house flower to think that 40 degrees F is actually cold to the tough pioneer spirited inhabitants of the Northlands, but...I check the weather news. I've seen the people up there put on sweaters when it's in the 40's. Serious sweaters, such as I don't own.

2) Just like heat, cold is worse when it's damp.

3) The term "Flaming Asshats" sounds so much like the name of a band that I actually have a logo design floating in my head. If I had any graphic talent whatsoever I'd create it just because it makes me laugh.

4) There is antique shopping ahead of me. I know diddly bupkiss about antiques, so most of my shopping will consist of "Ooooo Pretty" and "My aunt had one of those."

Friday, November 28, 2003

Light Grey Friday

Once more we are in Fernadina Beach, established in our favorite B&B. We went out to do our Christmas shopping, but unusually did not find the usual over abundance of things we wanted. Oh, we managed a few things, but usually the Friday after Thanksgiving is a glutton's paradise of shopping. All the stores here do a "Pajama sale" -- if you wear your pajamas to the store, you get some manner of discount. In years past, the pajama clad were highly entertaining, crowding around and through the main street, showing off sleepy-time finery. This year things were sparse. I'm sure the store owners felt it. It was also warm and humid -- the heat before the front as clouds piled grey in the sky. By 2 pm it was blowing and by 3 it was raining steadily. We retreated to our room and our computers and books to wait out the weather. By 6 pm there was a definate drop in temperature and now it's actually chilly. Well, for delicate Floridians, it's chilly. I'm sure there are snowbirds from Ottowa running around in bikinis somewhere.

I didn't even glut on books as I usually do, because while they have two decent bookstores here (one preferable to the other for being more about books and less about strategic and artful arrangement of bestsellers), I didn't find the Dylan Thomas collection that I am suddenly desiring. I picked up an encyclopedic book on cat breeds (just can't know too much about the alien creatures who run my life) and an interesting volume called "Dragons, Unicorns, and Sea Serpents: A Classic Study of Evidence for their Existance" by Charles Gould, originally published in 1886. Oh, and I plowed through yet another Georgette Heyer book I picked up at Borders. I read it so fast that I didn't even bother sticking it up in my list. And I still have those four books waiting on me. It's pitiful how little I've felt like reading anything other than my current collection of webjournalers. And I've only felt like writing such things as what appears here.

I may be picking up some additional work soon, helping R in her bookstore and perhaps helping her husband with some real estate related web stuff (I can post pictures with the best of them, after all!) which will perhaps have the effect of squeezing my overabundant free time so that once more I will be wound in the agonized grip of Too Busy To Write. I've have nearly two years now of Lots Of Free Time and not a damn worthwhile thing have I been doing with it. On the other hand, I seem to spend a lot less time being sick, being stressed out, being twisted with painful hips and shoulders, but I spend just as much time whining about things and pondering the pointlessness of my life. Perhaps introducing a little more activity outside my beloved house will be good for me.

The idea of surgery to get pregnant is getting more and more daunting. It's coming up for decision time and I just don't know if I can do it. Well, no, I don't know if I can recover sufficiently to survive a pregnancy and then be in any shape to care for a baby. I can do the surgery, yeah, if I don't go back through the mental clouds and darkness and holding a knife against my forearm wondering if not being alive will feel better than being alive and watching blood running into the groove at the base of my palm when the doorbell rings. I've been close, but something -- inside or outside or both -- keeps saying "what you don't get through this time you have to do over, so why waste time?" There's a lot to be said for having faith in your beliefs, no matter how nutty or misguided or out-and-out wrong someone else claims them to be.

But I really, really have problems with the thought of being cut open again -- no, of being put into the chemical sleep that my brain seems to so much resent that it punishes me for months and months afterwards. Even now, so many years later, I know things have changed. My concentration is less. My ability to retain focus is strained constantly. I don't engage emotionally like I once did. Some parts are good -- while anger was so long my energy, it was also the destructive whirlwind, the inexplicable personal hurricane that swept through everything I had and threw it all over, what I wanted and what I didn't want. While I miss the anger, I miss it the way you miss something that was exhilarating yet terribly troublesome -- with a pang, but with no desire to have it back again.

Baker, Baker
Baking a cake
make me a day
make me whole again
and I wonder
what's in a day
what's in your cake this time


Tori Amos, Baker, Baker

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Fur as Art

The Husband took me out for dinner and some shopping. Macaroni Grill and Borders (of course). While there, I found a calendar for my deskspace at work.




Now I have yet ANOTHER book to buy. The website is mostly emails with people either completely buying in to the idea that you can paint a cat (I own 6 of them. I can't get one of them to hold still long enough to wipe something off a whisker.) and complaining about cruelty, or people just playing along. It IS a tremendous example of what people can to with a computer, though. I loved the "Why Cats Paint" books. Anyone who's spent a little time looking at Worth 1000 or Something Awful will have a handle on these.

I expect several people at work to stare, though.

To All Who Hate Me

I've lost my spot as the number 1 Sherri on Google! I guess it's time to get tough!

Or not.
------------------------

Yesterday's diatribe (of which I am inordinately and definately inproportionately proud) has left me thinking and aren't you shocked to learn that? No, really, I started thinking about all the spewing Xkot had to endure and what kind of person does that spewing and how I, myself, handle my own anger.

Of course, I have some conclusions. I've put them into another open letter.


To All Those Who Hate Me

Thank you for taking the time from your busy and satisfying life to hunt my site out from the literally hundreds of thousands of other sites just to correct the error of my ways with your enlightened commentary. Obviously, I will give deep consideration to the philosophical implications of "You Suck" and "Fuck Off, Bitch". Your succint manner of expression gave me an impression of your wit and intelligence that will remain with me.

In fact, I feel deeply honored that my influence upon you is so great that when I strayed into error, you were prompted to such an immediate reaction. It would have been so easy to simply ignore me and move on, never to return. That you expended the energy to hunt and peck your painstaking way through the sharing of your wisdom tells me just how important you consider me to be. Who could not be complimented? You've paused in your schedule to think about me rather than concentrating on your work on the unified field theory, your anti-AIDS vaccine, and your cure for cancer. You've given to me effort and energy that you would usually devote to saving abused children, rescuing earthquake victims and promoting world peace.

I can do no more than thank you.

Sherri

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

An Open Letter

Dear Xkot

I guess the problem, Xkot, is that you are Godlike in your power to influence the minds and the buying power of so many hundreds of people that you must guard every single word you post on your PERSONAL WEBLOG KEPT FOR YOUR OWN ENJOYMENT. I mean, how can it BE that you could be taken in by the same news story that so many others were taken in by? Are you not perfect? And of course, all these well meaning people taking precious seconds of their lives to come here and type out (in what I'm sure was a painful search and poke process) exactly how stupid and worthless you are for stating what you did must be regarded as nothing less than martyrs and saints, sacrificing themself for your sake.

How could you DARE spread misinformation about something so vital and important as an MP3 portable player? The nerve of you!

I suppose that, now you are a vital news service like Fox News, you will have to check the accuracy of every statement you make. The poor folks who depend upon you to help them form thoughts could be so easily mislead. You've committed a grave sin with this error of yours, and because you have a PERSONAL WEBLOG, you carry a greater burden of responsibility for every letter you type. It's not like you are HUMAN or anything, or even that you made an apology and provided correct information. It isn't even that you have every right possible to say what you like in this First Ammendment protected media form despite who it cheeses off, or that you don't have to have comments or post an e mail address for asshats to send you insults and accusations. Oh no, because you HAVE this site, then you MUST expose yourself to any and all abuse the fuckheads of the world wish to heap upon you. Not only that, but you may be expected at any time to change your statements, thoughts, opinions, and perhaps your very way of life to conform to the wishes of all those who grace you with their trust and interest!

O Xkot, how can you even continue in the face of this outrage? How can you stand up with your head on top of your shoulders and your feet in shoes? Shouldn't you be under a rock? Or at least tossing ashes on your head and begging each and every one here for forgiveness? Personally, on your knees, crawling across the rocks and abandoned carparts in their front yards to their doorways, to plead and grovel and beg, saying:

"I'M SO SORRY I SPREAD AN INTERNET RUMOR AND I WAS FOOLED BY IT! I'M SORRY I DIDN'T PROCLAIM MY CORRECTION IN BRIGHT COLORS AND FLASHY LETTERS! I'M SORRY I INSULTED AN APPLE PRODUCT! I AM NOT WORTHY OF AN iPOD OR ANY OTHER DEVICE WITH A NAME THAT STARTS WITH A PRETENTIOUS LOWER CASE LETTER! FORGIVE ME!"

Maybe that would make it allll better.

Let the Holiday Pettiness Begin!

Leave it to Miami to plot Christmas Tree revenge. It's just so...so...Floridian.

Or something.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Christmas and it isn't even Thanksgiving

Finished scripting out "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas. I'd forgotten all about this little wonder. I found it in a great resource of Christmas stories and poems at (duh) Christmas Stories.Com. I don't know if we can do it, because it does run long, but I'm really pushing for it.

It seems that fewer and fewer people are holding out against the oncoming pre-Thanksgiving Christmas tide. By next year, we'll be skipping the whole Thanksgiving thing and just heading straight into Holly Ho Ho.

I have called them the Hellidays for years now. I feel justified.
__________________________________________________

I dreamed last night in long and complicated ways concerning an Amsterdam that doesn't exist, hiding things that I never saw anyway, women in burkas and a strangely quiet shootout between me and the guy who'd been chasing me all dream long. We were using shotguns, requiring a pause between each shot. I took two in the stomach, which didn't hurt and didn't bleed but were obviously not a good thing. I shot Mr. Enemy Guy in the neck and chest, but he didn't die. Paramedics took him away somewhere, and I ended up on an airplane, flying to where I didn't know but I was hoping there was a stop at a hospital planned. This is where the women in burkas showed up. I woke up VERY late, wondering if I had bee-bee's in my stomach. It actually took a few moments to determine that the reason I wasn't in searing pain was because I hadn't really been shot.

Not being shot. That's a good thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Life in Monster Town

About 12:30 today I awoke, my mystical journey through NERO at an end.

Well, ok, so we drove dead tired in at 4 am, and I spent a large part of my evening in a cinder block cabin watching people get in and out of simple makeup and color coded tunics, but it was still fun.

It's one thing to be a player at NERO. It's another to be part of the staff. To be on staff means to be providing the entertainment. You're on stage. You're making the magic. I ran a couple of very simple NPCs -- no plot, no background, nothing going on but what I made happen myself. This seems to be the key. No matter what the "plot committee" comes up with, it's what the people on the ground do that makes everything happen.

I've been too involved in this kind of play acting to truly step outside and see how it must appear to those not so involved. I get glimpses, certainly. I understand how easy a target for sarcasm and contempt doing this sort of stuff must be. I'd like to have a quarter for every time I'd heard someone sneer and say "get a life". I could buy a nice costume with the proceeds.

However, I would like to counter such thoughts that live action roleplaying games, like any roleplaying game, is really like theatre. Since it is being done to entertain one's self and a few others, the pressures to be "really good" is much less. There are no official critics. You aren't trying to part a reluctant audience from their money. You are just doing the whole "Hey, I've got a barn, let's put on a show" thing, only your group is playing ALL the roles interchangeably -- you are audience, actors, playwright, director, technical, costume and makeup. Theatre has much more pressure on it because the audience, while a part of the whole sphere that makes up "theatre", is much MUCH less involved. They come to pass judgement and that is their role.

The more I think of this analogy, the more points of comparison I see. It's all about who is "inside" and who is "outside". Anyone who doesn't like, appreciate, or care about theatre will make fun of it, insult it, and be contemptuous of those who participate. It's the same with NERO or any live action gaming (or any true RPG) -- if you aren't a part of it, it makes little sense to you, and possibloy looks inane.

Theatre has long traditions to support it as "art". I contend that LARP's/RPG's have a similar history, only without quite the linear connection, finding roots in the rituals and rites available to common folk via such conduits as fraternal and religious organizations, and the pretend play of children. An argument could be made (by someone more scholarly than me) that both types of activity are actually more similar than different.

They differ, I suppose, in "status", whatever that means. There is much less of a selection process involved in gaming. Success or failure in performance is not judged by some group especially charged with making judgements. I don't like saying that it's a "lower" form because of the automatic association of "higher" and "Lower" with other ideas concerning worth, value, and merit.

Whoa, I'm wading into philosophical waters there. What I really wanted to talk about was my happy, enthused, and incredibly bright and cheerful bard character and the singing I did, but since I did so little in actuality, there's not much to tell. II put on costumes. I sang some. I talked to a lot of people and had a little interaction. I sat in the control center and listened to reports of what was going on outside, laughed, offered ideas, helped with costumes. I enjoyed myself. I stayed up far too late.

I'll probably be doing this again.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Singing in the trees

Ah, the joy of last minute costume making.

Actually, that's mostly my fault, as I didn't get started on mine until yesterday, and I'm having more trouble finishing the cuffs than I thought I would.

Oh, costumes? In late November? No, no, I'm not dressing AS the turkey. Actually, a bard. And a necromancer. NERO, remember?

Certain things that other people have reported are not likely to happen to me. No one is going to try to pick me up, for example. First, I'm very married. Second, my husband will be there. Third, I'm pretty much un-pick-upable. Forth, I suspect I'll be about the oldest person there. So I'm completely safe from any untoward activity on that front.

Second, I'm used to the highly inexplicable behavior of people in costume. I attend SF conventions at least three times a year, sometimes more. I worked for years at Ren Faires. While I usually remain rather quiet, or at least unobtrusive when I'm wearing a costume, I understand the kind of temptation wearing outlandish costumes presents. Those of you who go to dance clubs probably see (or do) the same sorts of things, only you aren't carrying boffer swords (and wouldn't it be interesting if you were?)

Third, I'm performing a Non-Player Character role. That means I'm sort of like scenery. I do less of the running around stuff. I'm part of the gaming pieces.

Some time on Sunday, when it's all over, I'll tell you whether or not I'm going to do it again.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Minutia and Jingle Bells

Last night was rehearsal for the Christmas performance of the Reader's Theatre to which I belong. Because I'm just like that (and never fancy myself too busy -- my history here bears that out) I was elected Creator of Scripts. So far, we are performing "A Visit From St. Nicholas", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus", "The Polar Express" and potentially "The Littlest Angel" and segments from "The Life and Times of St. Nick".

Strangely enough, I like scripting. I have such a huge reverence for the published written word that I've had to overcome some real mental blocks about doing it, though. It's sort of tricky translating a narrative work into a script. It's not like creating a full fledged play or *agh* adapting it for a screenplay. No, you get to use narrators and you are supposed to stick pretty close to the actual work. You can cut things out or convert exposition to dialog. And since almost everything is about the voice, it's very relaxed. We don't memorize, but read from our scripts. The experience we are trying to provide is the pleasure that comes from being read to. We have a few really good voices in our little troupe, in particular Mr. M, who is our local version of Rich Little or Mike Meyers (without quite as high a wince factor).

I love theatre. I always have. I'm just not terribly good at it. Oh, I can memorize my lines and hit my marks. I can even develop the character reasonably well. My voice works. I'm just not...good. I lack the particular charisma and magnetism that really good actors have, the "whatever" that compels an audience to pay attention to you, the inner light that convinces them that everything you do and say is true. On top of that, I have always been a difficult physical "type", and I am not particularly graceeful. I also have trouble emoting convincingly. I'm too self conscious in a negative way.

But I get over a lot of that when I'm reading aloud. With the security of the words in my hands, knowing I don't need to rely on memory for them, I can give more attention to all the other things. I don't need to sparkle and shimmer because I'm not demanding that sort of attention frorm the audience. They can close their eyes. They can relax. There's not much to see -- perhaps my face, occasionally. But it's really all theatre in their minds. It seems almost everyone likes to have a book read to them.

I'm looking forward to our spring performances. I'm thinking of writing up scripts from some classic novels -- Pride and Prejudice, perhaps. Jane Eyre. I need to look over some comedies -- Jonathan Swift? Who knows? There's a wealth of children's books that bear up well for adults.

Hey, it may not be high art. It may not change anyone's life or make a long memory. I certainly won't get rich and famous from it, but...it gets me out of the house.

Dastardly Decor Debacle!

Hey, Josh, you were looking for a scandal, weren't you? Some Britons Shocked at Queen's Decor

"The real importance of the story is nothing to do with security," The Independent said in an editorial. "It is that it is yet another example of the Brits' unerring ability to focus on what really matters: in this case, the queen's breakfast habits."

And how COULD all those earth tones been so trendy 30 years ago? Makes me ponder the durability of IKEA fashion.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

It's the soap opera/train wreck you have to stare at

Is it real? Is it actual? Is the life of jonah just an incredible example of weird soap opera? Or can this be real?

I keep thinking about how easy it is to change locks...

Something better

Hey! This is a friend of mine! Yes, I actually know someone who's talented! Aren't you impressed?

::grin:: Think some nice things for Tommy.

Looking for a scandal

It's just wrong. No matter how I look at this, it's wrong. These are the choices I see

1) He's a scary, scary man who is molesting little boys, and a smart parent won't let their little boys go over there no matter how much he pays.

2) He's so freaked out and scary that no one is sure what he's doing, but he's so damned rich that no one can stop him.

3) He's so damned rich and so freaky that he's a walking target for anyone who thinks they can get an out-of-court settlement.

I remember when he was black, you know? And super hot? And talented? I had such a crush on him when I was 13.



And how he's THIS



I think that pretty much explains itself. Parents, don't let your children play with SCARY, FREAKY PEOPLE!!!
Not even for money, duh.

Great American Smoke Out 2003

As someone who is allergic to cigarette smoke and who has lost several family members to smoking related diseases (both parents, three uncles, an aunt, both grandfathers, a godmother) I support the Great American Smoke Out 2003.

Remember, there is someone who will miss you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Randominity

1) I come up number 1 in a Google search for "Sherri". I feel special.
2) I spent some time this afternoon watching the top of Adam Sessler's head on his webcam.


Ah, Adam, even your receding hairline makes my heart beat a little faster.

3) had a friend come over to dinner and to help us fix the desktop machine. The desktop seems to be permanently dead. Now we must consider options.
4) I'm watching "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", one of my favorite movies in which everyone stands around talking and nothing in particular happens -- and Woody Allen isn't even in it.

So many places to stand

I was discussing my viewpoint on the Iraq war with a friend last night. I read a lot of websites written by people who aare unapoligetically anti-Bush, anti-Iraq-war, anti-Patriot Act, etc. While I don't like the Bushes and I'm not crazed ababout the extreme paranoia caused by terrorism (which is, from what I can tell, the whole point of performing acts of terrorism -- unbalancing the target) I'm ambivilant about the war. On the one hand, I think the US was lead into it with hyperbole, half-truths, and outright lies, I'm certain the world is not hurting for the loss of another totalitarian regime. I'm not certain that the US has a great reputation as a nation-builder, nor do I think we did a good job. But we've put our foot in it now and now is where we have to start making things right. It's too late to recriminate. We have to make things happen and hope they are the right things.

So reading The View from Baghdad is heartening. I've come to accept as axiomatic that being a citizen of the US means that I personally (if anonymously) am hated, reviled, and blamed for everything from mass murder to poor taste in clothes by the rest of the world, in particular those living in the Middle East. I hear only about the hate. It's nice to hear something positive. I can even handle others being ambivelent. I am ambivelent on a lot of things -- and people -- myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Keep watching this space

Most anyone knows I am severely HTML impaired. I know just enough to get myself into trouble. Then I have to send begging, pleading, pitiful eye email to my smart friends to come fix whatever idiot thing I did. But I think I have a new weapon in my arsenal, providing, of course, that I can remember it. So, here goes.


This is a test. This is only a test.



That should be a photo of me when I was about 4. Can you tell my mom cut my hair -- with dressmaker shears?

Oh Yeah, Remember

The Taliban ?

Oh, they were all over the news a couple of years ago -- beating up Afghani women for daring to show their faces, blowing up historical monuments and pissing off Buddhists, general chest thumping, supporting Osama bin Laden and running summer camps for ambitious terrorists.

Now? Now they are back page news. We still have soldiers over there, you know, and a nation-building program, and a lot of work to do, but you don't hear about it like you used to. I wonder why? I mean, this was actually a place where a fair portion of the populace was glad to see Western forces come in, and had hopes that we would be able to help them.

Oh yeah. No oil. Never found bin Laden. Made ol' Shrub look bad. Hmmm.

I feel...politically cynical.
Last night was not a good night for sleeping, and so I'm feeling foggy and undirected this morning.

I stayed up rather late last night, long after Husband had curled up on his side and started making those cute little snoring noises. About the time I thought to turn off the light, he rolled over.

Husband and I have long had bed sharing issues. We have a queen sized bed and his favorite side is 8-10 inches over the center to where I am. We also have 6 cats, at least 4 of which feel the bed is not only their personal place, but that the bed is improved with the presence of one human. When there are two humans in the bed, we have conflicts. I've learned to sleep in the lower right corner of the bed as a result.

So he rolled over, ostensibly (i'm sure he'd say) to cuddle with me, which is fine and nice as long as my ass isn't hanging over the side. I have a lot of issues concerning my ass hanging over the side of *anything*. I'm not particularly interested in going to therapy to face my ass-hanging fears. I think they are sensible and healthy.

So I went to sleep in the spare room. This confused the cats. It also confused the husband when he woke up around 3 am and found me gone. He came to the spare room, laid down next to me, and cuddled -- my ass off the side of the bed. I relented, and returned to our bed (after shoving a few opportunistic cats out of the way). I was having weird dreams involving going over the border into China to rescue someone, only it was someone else's suicide mission and there was a letter and a party...I went back to sleep. Back to China, too, only this time to hitchhike around with a friend of mine, only he didn't want me to bring my laptop and I wasn't sure I could live without my laptop.

I'm not holding out hope for a productive day.

What the world needs now is....soap operas?

Soaps Save Lives in Third World, Producers Say

First, it's an interesting revelation.

Second, it makes me think about how we complain about the oversexualization of our society, so that we both reward and revile television that pushes our limits.

Third, it makes me remember when I did watch them, and why I don't now.

Monday, November 17, 2003

The dangers of late night TV

Peter Pan showed up on Tech TV's "Unscrewed", a show I rarely watch just because I might see something like this on it.

I share it with you because I see no reason to suffer alone. Oh, and if you see this guy's Tinkerbell, DON'T CLAP.

It's all Louis XIV's Fault

For the record, I don't wear high heel shows very often. In fact, I don't think I've worn either of the two pair I own in over a year, possibly two years. And I don't own ANYTHING that could be considered High Fashion Torture devices.

You know it all started with ol' Louis XIV, don't you? There's a lot of stuff cursing modern life that started with him. Bastard.

(Link to news story stolen from Mr. Phancy)

Neil Gaiman

There are a lot or reasons to admire and even adoreNeil Gaiman This is one of them.

"I had an utter fanboy moment when a faintly familiar-looking person came over at the end and introduced himself as Philip Pullman, and I just started gushing foolishly, and he was kind enough not to notice. "

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Where Will You Put YOUR Belly Button Light?

Because I'm always happy to spread the weirdness.

Jello As Performance Art

Aside that, the Soup Lady is just sooo full of warm goodness.

Philisophical Exchange

Actual E-mail conversation


ASW: Oh- did I tell you about the online baseball league I am in? XXXX runs it thru his site: I am the Sgt Grump you'll see mentioned occasionally on his blog. Our league is set in Middle Earth; I am the Owner/GM of the Bree Cheese.

Me: You are and remain one of the incredibly normal weirdest people I know

ASW: OK- what do you want? Why are you flattering me?

Me: For the purpose of making you paranoid. It entertains me.

ASW: You always were cruel to me.

Me: Well being nice to you always made you paranoid, so I gave up on it.

ASW: Just when were you ever nice to me? I met you at Chi-Chi's hoping to get laid. Not only didn't I get laid, but you took over control of my life. I was trapped! Jeesh.

Me: I bought you that train chamber pot for Christmas.

ASW: As a constant reminder that Life is Shit. :-p

Me: And this conflicts with your personal philosophy how?

ASW: It doesn't.

Fixing

I've been trying to patch some link problems. Please, check out the links to the left and let me know if any of them aren't working properly. Thanks!

Catching the Wild Untruth

wicked thoughts : Weblogs aren't fucking stupid, waah

An answer to that universal question : Why the hell am I keeping this weblog?

(ripped from the bandwidth of Red Polka.Org)

Some stupid things never get old

Do you remember this thing? I think it was two years ago that it hit the online scene and was linked on everything by everyone.

DancingPaul.com: I can dance if I want to!

I get nostalgic. It can still make me laugh.

Other side of mirror, looking back

I've been long interested in learning how people in other cultures view life, each other, and the cultures around them. While I cling to the belief that human beings want essentially the same things in their lives, it is worthwhile to remember that there are not only a lot of factors of which I am not aware and factors that have been misinterpreted or misrepresented, but that the filters of my own cultural expectations can have a warping effect on everything I see. It takes a great deal of effort to remove judgement, or at least pay attention to the criteria on which things are judged.

It completely fascinates me to hear how other cultures view my culture, and to realise once again that few of us are "typical" of our cultures -- and that we may not like what others see.

Much thanks to Joi Ito's Web for a hunk of valuable information.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

I'd take pictures

Well, today was a mixed bag. Awakened by a phone call from my mother in law to 1) lodge a complaint that Husband had not sent her some email information she wanted and 2) to check my dress size for a potential Christmas present. I just hope she doesn't by the "cute, wheat colored" ANYTHING. I can't wear yellow, or colors approaching yellow, or even colors that think they might be somewhere close by yellow. Trust me, I have pictures of me wearing yellow. It's a Bad Thing.

Then husband and I drive up to Gainesville to attend the afternoon performance of "Miss Saigon". We try to do something "cultural" every few months, and the tickets were sort of an accident anyway. So we were seated right on the orchestra. The play was...loud. Extremely amplified and LOUD. It might have been good -- I really couldn't tell. All I could tell for sure is that various numbers were designed to be tear jerkers (they got Husband, but I was immune, mostly because I was holding my hands over my ears -- did I mention it was LOUD? Like Rock Concert Loud?) and the woman playing Kim had some trouble keeping a really good voice in tune. Tune it or die, in my little world.

Husband remarked that his ears were ringing when it was intermission. So, we walked over to the Natural history museum, admired a lot of cool stuff, and drove home. How did Miss Saigon end? I may be crass and hardhearted and etc. etc. but I could really care less. The only really impressive parts of the show were the set design (high class and very effective) and the guy playing The Engineer (Cracked me up AND could sing).

So, we drove home and built a fireplace.

No, I'm serious. It came in a two box kit. If I knew where the digital camera had gone I'd take pictures.

It's a ventless fireplace -- basically a mantle with a firebox and a cement "Log" to hide the cans of jell fuel. It looks pretty good and does all the basic fire stuff, only no wood to cut and no ashe to clean out. Whoo hoo. Perfection. And, if we decide we don't like it in the living room, it can be MOVED. There's a wall in the bedroom where it might look nice...

Friday, November 14, 2003

Brush offs with Fame

In 1993, I was working my second year at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival as part of a 4 woman singing group named Faire Falderal. We'd met the previous year on site, joined forces, and spent the following months perfecting our act. In in the Ren Faire scale, we were damn good and pretty doggone impressive. We were also dedicated to making a "name" for ourselves in our tiny world. We we ambitious. We had Dreams.

So, we took every opportunity to perform we could get -- we nabbed a feature spot during Court, and we were always up for a spot in the end-of-the-day Pub Sing, where we could also get a feature spot. Being willing to do such things was a way to move from a "hat only" contract to an actual paid contract (for not a lot of money, but, HEY!) So we were young, eager, talented, and very, very focused.

Some time about halfway through the 6 week run, on a Sunday, we were performing a last set in the tavern for a group of senior citizens. They had gotten around to asking us to sing "Old Rugged Cross" (no) when we noticed an addition to our audience. A kind of short guy, bearded, clad in biker cliche demins and red bandana, dropped a $5 into our hat. He was accompanied by a leggy, spandex clad, gold chain blonde who was, even without the heels, little taller. Hey, Ren Faire attracts all kinds, and a $5 tip is a nice thing. Cindy, our offiial meet-n-greeter, was chatting with him when the rest of us heard the cheers and drum banging that usually announces Pub Sing. Now, if you aren't at Pub Sing when they call your name to perform, you lose your spot and you lose points. Biker dude was still trying to talk to us, so we said thanks, started walking, and essentially brushed him off.

We arrived at Pub Sing, did our bit, and retired to mix with the crowd. One of the security guys was partaking of a mug and turned to talk to us.

"Hey, Bob Segar bought us a beer today. Did you see him?"

We all paused. Bob....Segar?

"Yeah. He's performing at Bike week and stopped here for the day. Nice guy."

Bike week. Bob Segar. Dark, bearded, denim...brush off.

And, at that moment, I heard the flushing sound of a potential music career swirling down the drain.

The cure for celebrity obsession

I don't remember where I found Fametracker :: The Farmer's Almanac of Celebrity Worth. However, I think it is the perfect antidote for the star struck and fame embittered.

Poetic Theories

Yah, back to poetry.

I have a very high opinion of poetry. Honestly, I love to read it. I even enjoy analysing it, which is admittedly twisted. I enjoy exploring the mysterious "underneath" -- where rhythm, beats, allusion and all those other words lurk. I think of it as the girders and bolts of a poem, as if I've walked around the beautiful movie scene to look at all the support structure and lighting that makes it look like it does. I'm also perfectly happy just staring at the pretty picture in front when a backstage tour isn't going on.

My very joy in such is the very reason I won't listen to most people read their own poetry. I most especially avoid "open mike nights" and "poetry slams". I limit my exposure to poems written by anyone under 18 (especially my own, and I have a certain tolerance toward THOSE) and by anyone over 70 who has only recently started writing it. In fact, I try to contol my exposure to poetry written by anyone who has just started writing it.

And it isn't so much self protection (well, ok, so it is pretty much) as to prevent the innocent from seeing/hearing my reactions. I don't like to be cruel to poets. It doesn't really help, anyway.

Poetry is a highly concentrated form of communication. I compare it to Rose Absolut -- a very expensive essential oil. Just in case you don't know anything about essential oils, it takes a lot of the raw product to produce an oil. ) With Rose, it takes an INSANE amount of rose petals to produce a small amount of highly concentrated oil. The stuff is stunningly expensive, but wonderfully sweet. The same goes for poetry -- the very best of it is highly condensed but heady stuff.

I believe Heinlein said "a man who reads his poetry in public may have other bad habits". I won't go quite THAT far, but I will say that, in my experience, those poets most eager to read their works to an audience are really indulging in...mental masturbation. With High Art overtones. I don't want to watch.

With all this said, I thought I would take a cue from Gwydion and post a poem I love.


O my love
The pretty towns
All the blue tents of our nights together
And the lilies and the birds glad in our joy
And the road through the forest
Where the surly wolf lived
And the snow at the top of the mountain
And the little
Rain falling on the roofs of the village
O my love my dear lady
The world is not very big
There is only room for our wonder
And the light leaning winds of heaven
Are not more sweet or pure
Than your mouth on my throat
O my love there are larks in our morning
And the finding flame of you hands
And the moss on the bank of the river
And the butterflies
And the whirling-mad
Butterflies!


- Kenneth Patchen

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Link Bopping

The synchronicity of all this is rather astounding.

Allah Is In The House

Heed Arthur

Make Your Own

And I found them all on the same day.

Careful what you wish for

Just imagine if you can have Any Five People to your house for dinner.

I would have served Cheerios. Honest. With a choice of low fat, skim, and soy milks.

(with gratitude to Ludic)

Chatty Chatty Chatty

Why so many posts today? Why such mood swings? Why such a scattering of links hither and yon?

Swelling.

I noticed it yesterday afternoon. Just under my chin, between the bones of my jaw, there's a golf ball. Well, I think it's a golf ball, although I can't be sure of dimensions and I can't feel any dimples (and the dimple pattern makes a difference as to whether it is a PGA legal golf ball). Anyway, there wasn't a golfball there when I got up that morning, so I was, understandably I think, curious as to where it had come from, why it was there, and what my future would be with it.

The golf ball has now been joined by some frozen peas along the right side of my jaw. My husband (who has studied anatomy and thus knows these things) said. "Ah, your lymph glands are swollen. You must be fighting an infection."

Joy.

So I'm distracted by this golfball in my neck and the frozen peas that I feel in my jaw every time I turn my head, and the slowly growing awareness of pain in those areas. My attention is wandering. I suspect that -- just in time for a weekend filled with plans for dinner with friends, a stage show, and some household projects -- I am going to get sick. Sick as in sore throat, no voice, miserable sinuses, and lots of Kleenex.

I'm posting a lot. My attention span lasts about long enough to get to the end of a post. Get used to it.


...one of the few people who can dance sarcastically

Stolen blatently and without shame from Mr. Phancy


fighting the battle of who could care less

For the record, I hate the lemon fruit pies.

Remembering

I just noticed the date today (I manage blissful ignorance of the date most of the time).

November 13, 2003. My father would have been 73 today.

I miss him greatly even after 3 years. Perhaps I'm just not letting go, or I'm stuck in the past, or whatever, but I still feel dreadfully lonely when I remember he's gone. I keep his big ol' pick up truck because when I sit in it (even though I can't drive it) I can pretend he's with me. Why does it have to stab so? Why must I persist in feeling sorry for myself? (That's all it is, self-pity, and I don't really respect that.)

In any case, the best part is the mood passes quickly.

Happy birthday, Daddy. I miss you.

There is still poetry

I love poetry (have I mentioned this before?). No, really, I actually own books of poetry that I have read more than once. When I was young and owning much less shame, I wrote poetry. I even PUBLISHED a few poems. One of them earned me $10 (which is a lot better than most poets manage). However, the more I learned about poetry, the less poetry I wrote, until I reached the point of being unable to write anything I could show to anyone else without a sharp stab of shame.

So I'm really loving Things I Hate (and/or Love) because the guy has not only put poetry in his weblog, but he can talk about it intelligently. Gotta love that.

Last week I went to my writer's group meeting. A new member wanted to have some of his poetry critiqued. For a moment, the ghost of Dorothy Parker (for whom I have a certain fondness) reared and threatened, but I gave her some gin and a cigarette and she went off to walk her dogs. Then I listened to him read and, in a moment I can only describe as my first out-of-body experience, l started talking about poetry as if I knew jack-shit about it!

Apparently I was quite impressive, because he wanted to read another poem. Now, I know I wasn't being effusive or enthusiastic (Dorothy might have been out walking, but she burps some vitriol now and again). And I didn't really *like* his poetry. Too political, relied hard on literary allusion, and occasionally was deliberately obscure. I didn't *hate* it, though. Some of the pictures he created were really specific and clear and layered with meaning, every word pulling it weight. (See? See how convincing I sound?)

After three of his poems were dissected, the girl who works at the bookstore (a casual friend) asked if she could read HER poem to us. Now, Bookstore Girl is a definite product of Southern Culture in the modern day. She's beautiful, she's smart, she doesn't have a heavy accent, and she's going through college a little later than her peers, so she's getting much more out of it. In any case, she reads her poem, Dorothy burps again, and I'm holding forth on the abstract versus the concrete. She gets a few comments from other group members, including the other poet-of-the-night, but they are yielding the floor to me and I'm wondering who exactly I'm channeling here. It was a real Shirley MacClaine sort of evening.

Anyway, go read Gwydion (don'tcha love that name? I think it's a Welsh variation on Gideon, or it's completely unpronounceable, but it's sooo...poetic. You can almost see the blousey white shirt with the ruffles down the front, can't you?) No, really, go read. It won't hurt.

Same dance, new step

Ok, in this story, the show is called "Strtaight Eye for the Queer Guy" and it's a "one shot" deal -- as befits parody.

I liked the other title better. My head is still spinning, though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Now We Know

The Husband and I spent the evening at Sci-Fi City, meeting the members of the local NERO group. A good friend of ours is involved in running the group and has invited us to join in several times. Now we are going to do so. We bought the book and everything.

There are stereotypes about gamers, in particular live action gamers. A lot of them are true. There is a large part of me that says I've grown passed these sorts of things, and these kinds of people. They tend to be the ugly, the clumsy, the socially inept, the outsiders and fringe dwellers who don't flow with mainstream society yet aren't part of the group who make a point of rejecting that society. They are squished and scrubbed somewhere between. If you consider yourself reasonably cool, sophisticated, intelligent, culturally aware, and fashionable (or desperately want to give that impression to other people who are all those things), then you wouldn't talk to any of these folks -- not in public, at least.

I look at these people and I don't want to be like them. But it's too late. I'm already like them, and I have been for years. I've just grown painfully aware of what "they" are and how "they" are seen by others. We are people who happily wear costumes at any given opportunity. We speak in coded languages. We own dice with more sides than you've ever seen, and we know how to use them.

So, in a little less than two weeks' time, I shall be running around in the woods in costume and makeup, pretending to be something medieval and fantasy, until I am embarrassed into more mundane behavior and go home. I suppose if I just put on a short dress and went to a club, got drunk and sang karioke with groups of people I don't know until someone sent me home in a cab, I'd be a lot more "cool, sophisticated, intelligent, culturably aware, and fashionable".

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sci-Fi City used to be the best gaming/comics/SFF/Anime store in all of Orlando. It also used to be called Enterprise 1701 (guess why!) While we were there, we went shopping (of course). Bought the Nero Book. Husband picked up some comics titles he'd missed while I cruised the graphic novels. Found the first two of the Kabuki series.

There's only one reason I know anything about Kabuki, and that's because I've met David Mack. Only thing is, I ddn't know he was David Mack or that Kabuki was quite as big as it is. Here's the tale.

One of the shows we work is called Fantasm. Last year, one of our favorite artists, Andy Lee, was there. (I adore Andy Lee and wish there was time enough at these shows to actually sit and talk and -- well -- get to know people. He seems like such a tremendously sweet person, and I *so* adore his artwork.) Across from Andy was another artist, whom Husband and I called "Muscular Arms Artist Guy" - "Arms" for short -- because of his beautifully muscular arms and broad chest. He was a fairly short guy, not typically handsome but very pleasing, obviously a weightlifter, and he had sheafs of beautiful pictures on his table (the significance of which eluded me then). At some point during the show, Husband did some massage work on his shoulder and, in trade, he gave us one of his prints on which he had done some enhancement. He also seemed like a great guy, but he had to leave the show early and, well, when you are working your booth all day, it's hard to get to know anyone, and at night you just want to crash.

So, while cruising through the graphic novels, I noticed that the print we had was the cover art on one of the books. Inside was a photo of Muscular Arms Artist Guy, with his name underneath. So we bought the book, and if I like it, I plan to buy the rest of the series (as the artwork looks wonderful).

And now we know.

Why Men Confuse Me

As a mostly straight woman married to a bisexual man, I have not yet come to terms with "Queer Eye". And now, there's a new show: 'Straight Plan for the Gay Man' .

I am without resource for handling this.

Should I be insulted that a gay-positive show is being parodied? Is it a compliment? Does it indicate gay acceptance if it can be held up for this type of ridicule? Is it terribly bigoted in its aim to teach "gay men how to pass as heterosexuals"? Is it really a backwards demonstration of how stupid stereoptypes of any kind about how men should be or act are? Is it just corporate trend-riding? Is it subversive comedy poking fun at men of all kinds?

Somebody's playing with my head.

Monkey monkey

'Grand Theft Auto' Makers Fight Lawsuit

A 14 year old and a 16 year old are old enough to put together the logical sequence of "I fire a gun/guns shoot bullets/bullets could poke holes in things/some things are people/I could shoot people" along with the concept of "video games/television/movies are not like life." They are old enough to understand consequences.

What they may lack is sufficient impulse control or the foresight necessary to think "Hey, shooting at cars is the same as shooting at people."

I'm not buying a "The video game made me do it" defense. A 16 year old boy is old enough to get a driver's license, hold a part time job -- in some states, old enough to get married! Whatever was going wrong in that young man's mind when he opened a locked room, removed guns from it, and went to the highway to start firing, it happened long before he played a video game. Somewhere along the way he didn't learn something, or wasn't taught something -- about gun safety, about personal responsibility, about the value of human life, about compassion for other people, about making choices consciously. He was, apparently, taught how to throw blame for his actions on something or someone else, though.

(And don't even go on about it being the gun's fault. I'm no fan of guns, but in my neck of the US, kids have been caught dropping cinder blocks off overpasses onto cars below.)

Why can one group of people play violent video games and then eat pizza, while another group plays the same game and then goes shooting? Is it really the game's fault?

If it is proved in a court of law that it IS the video game's fault these two young men killed and injured people, what does that mean overall? Will the "Grand Auto" defense go down alongside the "Twinkie Defense" as incredible dodges of personal accountability?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Oh, and in other news

I passed my boss's traffic school exam. I got a 39 out of 40 -- missed the question about how difficult it is to properly install a child safety seat. I said it was simple -- I expect there are rude awakenings in my future.

Retribution

Warning: Long, probably whiney post. If you aren't in the mood to indulge me, may I suggest checking out this or this instead.



Ah, I sense the backlash coming. Hell, I think it's here, big and bad.

I have consumed just too damn much sugar, in various forms, over the last four or five days. Not only am I moody, weepy, whiny and generally unpleasant to be around, but I'm feeling quite sick to my stomach. And I did eat real food today, normal, sort of healthy food, in a modest amount.

Ok, it was in a box and heated in the microwave, but it had a vitamin in it, I swear.

The part that confuses me, that I'm unable to remain objective about, is, which came first, the sugar urge or the mood?

Often times, I'll use food (the way some use alcohol or drugs or sex or whatever) to manipulate how I feel -- usually with some form of sugar, since I'm particularly sensitive to sugar and it works fast. I'm sure everyone has some conception of "comfort food" -- those things you eat when you feel bad, feel sick, lonely, isolated. Foods that remind you of better times and situations. Every once in a while you start longing for mashed potatos or grandma's chicken-n-dumplin's or oatmeal with raisins.

Well, for me (and, I suspect, for a lot of other people) there are a LOT of those foods, and they are used to deal with just about every form of emotion there is. We celebrate with food. We comfort our sadness and grief with food. We eat our anger and our fear. It's a bizarre thought when extracted from context -- feel tired? Get a candy bar. Frustrated? Eat a donut. REALLY frustrated? Eat two donuts. Stressed? Pizza, extra cheese.

Food is symbolic. Food is chemical. Food is status, class, ethnicity, gender, politics and religion. We develop relationships with food. We abstain from food, segregate food, discriminate against food. Everything is food, food, food, said Wimpy.

Somewhere in my life, the connection with my body that told me when I was hungry and when I was full, what I wanted and what I didn't want, was broken. Food became more than just sustanaince. It became reward. It became punishment.

I have one memory, viewed from outside like a snippet from a made-for-tv movie. I was very small, maybe three or four, sitting in the back seat of the old blue Ford. My mother is in the driver's seat and she is angry. I can see the back of her head and the side of her face, tense and harsh, her black hair and her tanned skin. She is angry because it is Easter and she's taken me to some sort of Easter Event and something happened. I cannot remember what. I may not know. What I do know is that she's angry, and right now she's angry because I've collected a basketful of Easter Eggs and I am hungry, but I don't want to eat an egg. I don't really like eggs, hardboiled, scrambled, fried, baked -- and she's very angry and it's because of me and those eggs, so I'm peeling an egg and choking down the icky, sticky white, vaguely colored from the dye through the shell, crying because I hate that egg so but I'm hoping if I eat it my mommy won't be mad at me anymore and everything will be ok. To make everything ok, I will eat that damned egg, even the horrible, powdery grey-yellow yolk.

I cannot stand boiled eggs. Even the smell of them cooking turns my stomach. No, my mother did not abuse me here. This is one of those events in a life where a child's mind associates things that are not related in any way. As an adult, I know my mother didn't really care if I ate that egg. She never made me eat eggs any other time in my life, didn't even encourage me to take a taste. She didn't actually make me eat that particular egg.

Doesn't make a damn bit of difference. Eggs smell like poison to me. Took me a very long time to learn to like quiche, and even then, it cannot smell or taste eggy. That's progress.

What's the point of my particular story? There's more to food than just the eating of it. And I have a lot of associations with food, aside from the actual affect certain kinds have on me, that complicate my life and making eating properly challenging.

Which is one more piece of the puzzle I'm putting together to reveal why I ate enough candy to make myself sick.

The Pointy End Goes Into the Other Man

I never realised how far out of context that line could go until just now...stop that snickering.

There are rumors that Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones may do a sequel to The Mask of Zorro. I can't say I loved that movie, but I certainly liked it enough to buy it on VHS, although that had as much to do with Anthony Hopkins being in it as anything else. This story says that he might also be reprising a role for the movie -- which is an interesting thought, since Diego de la Vega *died* at the end. Flashbacks? Ghosts? Weird resurrections? The mind reels.

I'm always a little skeptical about sequals, especially those made some years after the original. Then again, the first wasn't exactly an intellectual challange to watch, so as long as there are buckled swashes and assorted swordplay, how bad can it be? (ok, maybe that's optimistic.)

Monday, November 10, 2003

Too much sugar

I'm a sugar addict.

No, it doesn't look very impressive to me either. It doesn't look desperate or dangerous or interesting. There's no cache of cool to go with those words -- no line of fashionable clothes, no radio rocking music, no special effects extravaganza. No big stars with good hair and the right shoes walking the red carpet to a benefit raising money to Help the Sugar Addict.

There's a book or two that I've seen, but nothing I've read.

I've eaten a lot of little chocolate candies tonight and I feel sick. I remember thinking as I was eating, "I should stop this, I really don't need this. They don't even taste good anymore." I didn't stop until they were gone.

It goes up and down. Some days I'm all about vegetables. Other days I'm scouring the cabinets for leftover tubes of cake frosting. I really like toast, but not with jelly. And I drink Diet Pepsi. Can't stand sugared sodas. Does that make sense? Not at all. There's no sense involved in it.

I sometimes refer to the parts of my personality that are counter to my overt wishes "demons". It's a little like having two separate people living in the same head, only they do know about me and neither one has superpowers. If you indulge in any sort of self-destructive behavior, you might be familiar with the sensation. There's part of you telling you how stupid or dangerous or pointless your particular behavior is, and another part of you directing your legs, your hands, your mouth toward the intake of whatever it is you use. That voice with the good sense doesn't carry much weight.

Maybe it sounds too much like the voices of the doctor, or your parents, your friends, the kids who picked on you in highschool. Maybe it sounds just like the voice that tells you how stupid you are. It enumerates exactly what stupid things you do, how they all add up to make you a worthless piece of shit person, and then details just how many people, things, and lower life forms are worth more than you are, all couched in the perfect words to gouge deeply into your every weak spot.

Right now I really am wishing I hadn't eaten those last few candies. But I did. And it confirms everything that voice was telling me.

More discoveries

I find the best stuff just picking random links from the "Fresh Blogs" list. Why can't I write like this? (don't answer that)

The View from Baghdad

I caught this in the Blogger homesite's "Fresh Blogs" list. I don't know if The View from Baghdad is real or not. The author says nothing about himself, not even in the first entry. It's hard not to be suspicious about something so unsubstantiated -- the downside of the web's anonymity/need for anonimity issue.

If this isn't real, it's a very interesting and engaging exercise in fiction. I'm reading the archives with amazement.

Quinn Skylark's BookWatch

Ok, now this is a stunning new development. Via Quinn Skylark comes a story about a student punished for having violence in his poetry.

Punish a poet for miscounting beats in his iambic pentameter or for using vague abstractions. Expell them for indulging in concrete poetry passed age 10. But don't, please, censor for SUBJECT MATTER -- for THOUGHT. This is, to be cliche, rather Orwellian -- or at least Stalinistic. This is the kind of excess fear drives us to commit. In response to horror we create more, different, longer lasting horrors. It's damaging to our civil liberties, to our souls, and to the sate of our literary future. It's a bad, bad sign.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Day of the Dogs

Second day of a two day "arts and craps" show. Low Points -- few sales, too hot on Saturday and too grey and windy on Sunday (windy as in having our Easy-up tent picked up and moved every few minutes), feeling in general too negative about it all. High points -- met another wire-worker/artist who was fun, and got to pet some very nice dogs. Made a contact for potential contract jewelry work. We didn't make even our booth fee and left early. We sit and puzzle over what we need to do to improve, to sell.

I don't know if we can keep up the attitude needed to do outdoor art shows. There's no particular reason we can decern for why sometimes we sell really well, and other times we do diddly. I've looked at other wire artists at the same shows -- my work is often quite different, but usually equal (and sometimes better) in execution and quality. My pricing is on par and a little on the low side. Yet I still go through crushing doubt about my ability to do this.

I suppose I should add that I go through periods of crushing doubt about every creative endeavor I attempt. Sometimes I feel confident. More often I feel modest but not defeated. Then there are the times when I wonder why I have all this desire to make ...whatever...and no talent. That feeling -- like a sack of thick, smothering black cloth dropped over my head -- fills me with a bitter anger and I hate everything. I hate every thing I've done. Nothing looks good. I see only the flaws, only the imperfection or lack. I throw whatever gets into my hands. It often descends when setting up for a show and it's only my husband's voice and some underlying self control that keeps me from destroying everything I've made and going home to die.

Within an hour or so, sometimes two or three, the blackness lifts and it's just grey. I just don't know.

It's the same way with everything I do. Where is value measured? I find happiness in what I do. I want to do it a large part of my time, but that excludes doing other things that I might not enjoy so much, but that provide me with the means to do what I want as well as to live. If I can turn what I love to do into a means to provide for my life, I'd be happy, right? Then what I do has to have value. If I can sell what I do, then it's valuable, right? Someone buys my jewelry, or pays for my story, or tosses coins into a basket while I sing and purchases a CD or tape. But if no one wants to exchange money for what I do or what I make, then it's worthless. If I am what I do or what I make, if I put myself into it, and no one wants it, then I'm worthless. And if I try to bend what I do or what I make to fit someone else's idea of value, it has nothing to do with me and I don't find any good in it.

The funny part, the part that makes me laugh at myself, is that even when I do well, I don't really feel all that much better. There's never quite enough, and that's such a paradox, because the doubt is always so much greater than any amount of affirmation can be. That makes me laugh, and that makes me realize the trap I lay for myself. That knowlege, I think, is the "thing" underneath the black sack, the place where the control lies. I know that the mood, the demon, the doubt, will pass.

And after all that, I'll do something stupid like try to move a road barrier away so we can load the van, only to have the wooden pieces come apart and the heavy crossbeam land neatly on the end of my big toe, creating a wave of intense pain -- the kind of pain that only comes from sudden but minor injury. It still hurts, in the minor injury way -- only when I forget about it because it's not hurting that bad, so I do something I'd normally do and touch that toe on something and *WHAM*.

Another week of my life, over.

Even more

More excellent Matrix thoughts from Gamera Spinning

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Didn't need popcorn

Ok, just saw Matrix:Revolution.

Why all the complaining, folks?

My brain and eyes are just fine, thank you. I know a great deal about story structure, my ability to watch and understand a movie are equal to most people's, I'm perfectly able to think my way out of a paper bag, and I have a high opinion of my own opinion -- much like most people who express opinions. Now, with that out of the way...

Revolutions was a fine movie. I enjoyed it. I didn't have any big problems with it.

Now, specifics. No, it did not have a neat and tidy, all the threads packed up and handed to you ending. It had pretty much the ending I was expecting since about the middle part of the first movie. It also had all the kick ass action, emotional button pushing, and nifty visuals I was expecting. It didn't give huge layers of philosophy because it did all THAT in the first movie. The second/third movies were just philosophy in action. It did come up with a few new effects which I enjoyed. However, it was not the first movie because...well, that was the first movie. They invented all this stuff already. It's not new anymore.

OK, there was a certain amount of anti-climax in the ending, especially for those people who went in wanting/needing/expecting a Final And Complete resolution -- good guys win, bad guys go down in flames, la la la. The idea of an uneasy peace without anything "solved" probably rubs some people the wrong way. Maybe there are better ways to make them swallow ambiguity and like it than this one. Ah well. For those of us who don't believe in a black and white world where everything is settled without question and there's always movement toward change, I think it was about as satisfying as it is gonna get. One person's anti-climax is another person's denouement.

I was rather interested in the whole Christ myth as channeled through the King Arthur Myth (when they moved Neo's body onto the glowing platform, it invoked the carrying to Arthur to Avalon). I also liked the firm line of Taoism there -- one cannot combat one's self, one must accept one's self to change -- I mean, the Smith/Neo thing was just hammered like you weren't going to get it. It might have been more obvious, perhaps, if Neo had hugged Smith but that might have also been too much (potential giggle factor as well). The Oracle's subroutine was a nice touch. Still, I can see where some might find that mixing of the Christ/Arthur legend a little too chewy to swallow. Like most of the myths in our culture, it's been done a lot. It's been done a lot because it still has some resonance.

There was also a lack of any "everyman" for the audience to identify with. Neo was an "everyman" in the first movie -- an ordinary guy being called to greatness and really not getting it, very Joseph Campbell. We were rooting for him to "get it" through the movie. He "got it" at the end of the movie. Usually you don't see what happens beyond that -- how does the "everyman" live after he becomes "The One"? What does he do? Does he still have limitations? Does he grow? Does he just walk around all day doing cool stuff?

The other characters moved along the lines indicated. In fact, I'd say that how they changed was as predictable as any other interpretation of the Monomyth. The Man of Faith, Morpheus, faces doubts and must either crumble under them or make his leap again. Trinity, who offered herself up as a sacrifice for Neo so many times, finally succeeds in sacrificing herself and proves her love. In fact, the dichotomy of faith and doubt were huge, huge parts of every character in the movie. I still enjoyed them as characters even as they represented that particular conflict.

For the complaints about the change in the Oracle -- it's a MOVIE ROLE. Separate the actor from the role. You might prefer one actor to another, or one performance to another, but it's still JUST A MOVIE ROLE and that means more than one actor can play it. It's all pretend, right? The Wachowskis did a little patching to cover the bump (I think it would have been better to just pretend there WAS no change, myself, but perhaps modern audiences aren't sophisticated enough for that, or perhaps they thought it would make for a neat little sub-story they wanted to use.)

As for what happened to the Marovingian, I thought it was plain -- either he left the Matrix via the train or he was Smithed. If Smith could take the Oracle, he could take the Marovingian without much trouble. I'm betting he left, but either way it didn't have a bearing on the ending. He wouldn't have been involved. I didn't entertain the idea he was a previous "Neo" or those things because he was a program and that was declared. His purpose was to collect things.

While I did at one point wonder if Zion was a part of the Matrix, I figured that creating a layer illusion all about the parts of the self being in deadly conflict with each other was just dragging in more than was really there. If everything is illusion, then there is nothing else, and NOTHING is illusion. So, since the movie did a pretty clean job of dividing "reality" up into sections that remained consistent, I accepted those and went on with it.

I guess, for me, it boils down to the idea that the war between the humans and the machines was never as clear cut as we would like it -- most people like their complicated moral issues boiled down to simple "us" and "them" equations. The whole trilogy picked at that quite a bit, eroding the idea that there is always an evil "them" who must be destroyed. It's hard to imagine, for many, that EVERYONE is an "us", and EVERYONE is a "Them", and who is and isn't evil is often a purely perspectual difference (and even more, an illusion). It isn't easy to stand alone with your minority opinion and be unshaken. Wouldn't it just be a perfect world if everyone thought the same way? OOoooo! Who's way would be chose, since even people who agree will find points of variation in what they do and don't agree with. That aside, we don't live in such a world, and when we picture such worlds they are always distopian hells of some sort, so that leaves us Compromise. We stand on the shifting sands for as long as we can.

Which is an uncomfortable thought to go home with, and may be another reason not to like the movie.

Perhaps the big problem with the whole Matrix trilogy is that it didn't leave us with just the first movie, with the most simple form of the myth and all the comfortable stuff that goes with it -- Neo triumphed over the Matrix and would go on being Superman and fighting the subversive Machines. If there was a single area I felt somewhat unsatisfied with, it was The Source (its resemblance to the MCP was similar to the MCP's resemblance to other god figures in art and architecture. Humans tend to use the same images world over, and we often make our gods in our image). I would have liked a little more insight into the Machine City and this Source, and how it relates to the Matrix and the various programs. Was it literally the machine God? Was it a central communications and control hub? That was a question I felt might have been fun to explore, but I also expect it would have been far too boring to go into it in the movie.

In any case, I know there are so many people who are going to disagree with me, which is actually fine with me. I don't need anyone to agree with me to decide if I like or don't like something. (I've hated a lot of popular movies.) But I liked this one.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Car Conversation

Me: "My old dog Xany was cute, though."

Him: "Yeah, especially the way he'd hump the grass in the back yard."

Me: "He wasn't humping the grass. He was scratching his belly. It's a dog thing."

Him: "Uh huh."

Me: "I bet you'd do it do if you could."

Him: "You'd be surprised how many different things a guy rubs his dick on when he's younger."

Me: "..."

Him: "You know, like , 'that feels different.' Any guy who says otherwise is lying."

Me: (long pause) "You just revealed one of the Dark Secrets of the Brotherhood, didn't you?"

Him: "Nuh uh!"

Me: "They're going to revoke your membership."

Him: "Nope. It's in the rules. You just deny everything."

Friday list

1) Got through 3 of the four hours of online traffic school. The only people on the road with right-of-way are pedestrians. The law only dictates who must YIELD right of way. Who'da thunk?

Spent a lot of time waiting for the little timer to work to the end so I could go on to the next section.

2) No donuts. Bagels. Eh, I was hungry. There will be donuts, tho. I know these things.

3) Almost done with "Slan". Am also halfway through "How to Read Literature Like a Professor". Will get it on my list, possibly, before I finish it. "Slan" is pretty slick for a book published in 1940 (she said with a slightly wry wrinkling of her upper lip.)

4) In "waiting on husband" mode. He went to pay business sales tax and pick up stuff from the storage unit before we head off to the arts and craps show set up. As is typical of Florida, it might rain tomorrow, it might not, but it's DEFINATELY going to be uncomfortable. What's up with this 77% humidity in NOVEMBER?

He's been gone a little longer than maybe was necessary. But if I call him, I'll find him about a block away. Works out that way a lot. My sense of time is scarily precise. Or completely out of control, depending on how you look at it.

5) I dreamed this morning that I was trying to pack and get dressed so I could haul my duffle outside and steal a helicopter. I was in some godforsaken place like Afganistan. I had several pair of glasses I kept dropping. One pair had a single, triangular lense set in the middle. I picked those up and knew they weren't mine.

6) My first NETFLIX dvds arrived. I rented "Spirited Away", "Silk Stockings", and "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

7) I was right about the phone thing. The Husband just pulled up. Must go.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

True confessions

Ok, I have to be open about this. I love Adam Sessler. He's one of the hosts of X-play on Tech TV. He's the goofy blond one with the remarkable lack of social skills.

And I love him.

He's a rebel.

He's the epitomy of goofy nerd boy. He's always picked last. He's got a lot of very serious minor problems, not the least of which is a weirdly understandable fixation on fudge. He's got a slightly whiny voice that he can make into a terribly whiny voice. He's skinny and pale and his hair sticks up -- rather like Calvin's.

Adam Sessler. Adam Sessler. *sigh* He'll never, ever know how I feel.

Ok, Adam is a gamer geek who's made good. He's hosting a TV show that requires him to play video games, give his opinion about them, and occasionally be extremely goofy on camera. He's also working with the scarily anime Morgan Webb. Morgan is turning into an anime character. The eyes, the hair, the bright yet pastel clothing, the high voice, the big happy smile, the deathdealing -- it scares me. Adam is the target for most of her aggression. He's sort of hapless. He's a victim of his own impulses as well a Weeble of the universe. It keeps flicking him in the head because he keeps getting up.

I don't completely understand the attraction, either. Some things surpass understanding.

On the other hand, he's got a wicked sense of humor and a fairly bitter line running through him -- the geek who knows he's in the sites of every jock in school and who's pissed off about it even as he's resigned to his fate. He's articulate. He's astute. He makes me laugh.

Alright, I'll be honest, I'm not going to leave my husband for Adam. First, he's a little too young, and while I am a believer in training men from a young age, I'm sort of passed it now. I've invested too much time and effort into my current husband and he's doing really well. I'm not even going to stalk Adam on his webcam. San Francisco is a long long way from here. It wouldn't work anyway. I don't play enough video games. We'd have to share the sunscreen and the fudge.

But I will type his name here, over and over. Adam Sessler. Adam Sessler. Adam Sessler. Adam Sessler.

Oh Adam, I adore you!

Share the Love

Ok, so in a bit of lemming behavior, I'm doing what Buzz at Buzzstuff is asking -- Blog It Forward. Pick a site I like and honor it here.

My problem is picking one.

You've possibly noticed the Blogroll list over to the left there. Those are my current favorite sites, but only a small portion of the sites I read daily. Right now I'm in a state of finding new sites, new people to read and talk with. I can't possibly select a single site as being one most deserving of attention right now. Why? Well...I wouldn't want anyone else to feel slighted! I love them all for different reasons! Some of them are sites belonging to friends. Some are favorites because of the comments and discussions that go on. Some make me laugh, some make me think, some turn me on to latest and greatest things, some are just amusing.

Besides, if I pick one, I'm certain that everyone else will hate me, and the person I pick will think I'm brownnosing or something. It'll get ugly. I'll be paranoid. Like I am right now because I can't remember if I put Buzzstuff in my Blogroll and I feel sort of committed to doing it because I've linked his site here and I really enjoy it and...I don't want him to hate me or anything.

You think maybe I take all this stuff too seriously?

Shut your mouth, Drive the car

Traffic-Signal Control Devices Threaten Chaos. Imagine that. Some people want to change the lights to suit their own convenience. Can you believe it?

*yawn* What some people won't sell on eBay.

In an interesting juxtaposition, I have to take traffic school, four hour course, tomorrow. You can do it online, for about $40.

No, I didn't get a ticket. My boss did.

Yeah, that requires explanation. My boss drives some manner of Jaguar (it's really just a Ford) and he drives fast. It's a green two door tan ragtop low slung affair and he rips and roars around this redneck-ranchland-turned Wal-mart-Suburbia in his best New York Italian manner. And he got caught speeding, for about $50, by a polite highway patrol man. So he has to take driving school to get the points off his license. And he doesn't want to because, well, he's ...him. Bosszilla. Complete with mighty roar and nuclear garlic breath.

Me? I'm a contract employee. I show up when there's work to do, for $20 an hour. Sounds good, except I work maybe 16 hours a week, sometimes less. So, tomorrow I'm doing traffic school. Yeah, I'm pretty certain there's a moral issue here. Traffic school is really supposed to be a sort of punishment, not an actual learning experience. You go to be bored and intellectually numbed because that will pay your debt to driving society. So it's a little like the days when rich people would pay some poor schmuck to represent them in the army of the King/Queen for the latest set of wars (17th century? 18th? I can't remember.) But no amount of traffic school is going to change his driving habits, and he's paying me to do this for him. So while my moral compass is spinning some, I don't think I've damned myself to hell or driven huge spikes into the impermeable wall of my integrity.

I warned him that he better buy Dunkin Donuts tomorrow or he's gonna fail really embarrassingly.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Beyond the Blue Horizon

Voyager May Be at End of Solar System

Can you believe it?

I can't really convey the awe I feel, the vastness of the incredulity I experience when pondering this event. The record, that golden record with the message sent to the universe, is heading out there. Such a tiny thing to be sent as envoy.

I keep thinking "Science Fiction". I recall the thrill of the Enterprise traveling through space (despite the corniness, despite the dated production values. I think of every book I've read where man seeks to know the larger reality.

I hope we don't lose that desire to reach beyond. I hope that other, better probes will be launched and children of the future will think "Wow, they just picked up the latest signal from beyond the galaxy."

Yes, I know. "We should spend that money and effort on our earthly problems! It's a waste! It's not doing any good."

But it is. Our entire human history has been based around some portion of us reaching into the unknown. We've dreamed, lived, and died seeking to know what lay beyond the horizon, under the earth and sea, beyond the visible sky. When we turn our attentions outward, we aren't shooting each other. We think the high minded thoughts of "how can what we learn be used to help?" I think it can be argued that space exploration has done a great deal to provide solutions for many of the problems we face on our planet -- and so many of those problems are more about how we treat each other, not about whether we seek to better understand our world. There's no amount of money we can spend that will make one group of people cease to hate, fear or persecute another.

And the answers may well be out there, somewhere.

Cyber Dragnet

Attention Web Bounty Hunters: $500,000 Reward

I applaud the effort, although I'd prefer to have software with fewer open doors. However, I do ponder -- can a new television show be far behind?

Is EverCrack Addictive?

Yahoo! News - Video Games Are Addictive as Work

1) Work is addictive? Maybe for certain really sick people
2) Everquest (and other games) are addictive in that many people prefer them to other things, like eating and sleeping.
3) My friends who play indicate their need to get back to the game by smacking the inside of their arm, as if raising a vein.
4) There's something wrong when people can sell imaginary/virtual game items for REAL MONEY on eBay. I'd call that a sign of addition.
5) There is a cure. Poverty (having to close your account and sell your computer) brings on an amazing response. When poverty isn't an option, friends and family can stage an intervention. Hit the power. Haul the addict under a shower (they tend to need it) and outside. Show them the stars. Anytime they same the words "Drop" or "Mob", smack them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

...to dream, Ah, that's the rub

I'm at some sort of party, with long cheap banquet tables set around with chairs, all on a stage. People I know -- people from my life and various celebrities -- are being seated all around. There's a sudden need to rearrange the tables and the one in front of me is collapsed and moved, but I stay seated. Peole mill around me in conversation. One group starts singing snatches of song from musicals (Showboat, in particular, I think). I get up and follow a few people to where they are sitting in a group, waiting for the tables to be replaced.

No one will look at me. Any conversation I try to start is ignored. If I sit somewhere, everyone's back is turned to me. At some point I find a place against a wall, crouching on the floor. One of my highschool boyfriends, a guy whom I've seen once or twice since then and who still has a soft spot in my heart, notices me as he passes by heading to his place at the table, and he gives me a weak little smile. He looks much older now and he seems slightly embarrassed, like he has committed a faux pas in making eye contact.

Then the tables are set with an open area in the middle and a sort of gaming court set up. Two teams are throwing tiny water balloons at each other. The balloons are unusually resiliant, and when thrown on the ground will bounce 15 or 20 feet in the air before coming down and exploding. If you are directly hit, you are "out" and someone else from the crowd replaces you. Of course, despite my being right next to the court, I am not allowed to join the game. I still get very wet because I am near people who are hit.

I woke up feeling completely unwilling to speak. I'm still not feeling chatty, except to ponder this dream and the weird feeling of isolation left over from it. No agony or particular sharp fear, no anger, no sensation of loss. Just the weird embarrassment of being somewhere I'm not wanted, of having no where else to go and no way to get elsewhere.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Another fluffy day

I actually left the house this morning and took a yoga class.

Now, I realize that for many people, this is No Big Deal. There are just so many slender, well toned, gold draped, well manicured yoga students out there for whom this is normal (and even more slightly overweight, hardworking people). Hitting the gym, for some, is challenging but doable. I don't know any of those people.

In fact, in even more shocking news, I'm going to try to get in at least 2 classes a week, if not three. I signed up and everything. I have one of those little swipe tags, the kind that go on your keychain, that subtracts each class I take when I go in. Very high tech, actually. And because I know the folks who own the yoga studio (and the Husband is a part time instructor there) you should go check out their website.

I didn't do anything else worthwhile for the rest of the day. That's what happens when you start off with the high point.

Oh, I made the bed, did a little laundry, and even picked up the bedroom some, but nothing IMPORTANT. I came back all energized and ambitious, but slowly I wound down until I was doing what I'm doing right now -- sitting on the bed with my laptop and goofing around on the web. I rated and queued up more movies on Netflix. I finished reading the last of my latest vampire mystery series as I defend my right to read trashy literature. I even did some work on my book lists (and you should just hurry right on over there to see exactly what I think about things, yes you should.) I think I Blogrolled someone's site. OH, the excitement is endless. It's amazing I have time to breathe.

Actually, I should be getting some jewelry made. We have a show this weekend, a new show in the arts and craps line. I'm not holding out a lot of hope for it. On top of that, I've had this weird sore spot on the inside of my right thumb. When doing wire work, that spot on your thumb is essential for pushing and prodding the wire into the appropriate locations. Since anything approaching pressure on this particular spot comes complete with ouchy sensations, I find myself disinclined. I'm pain adverse, what can I say? Directly opposite the sore spot on my thumb is the calloused spot where my bird bit me last week (she's a vicious bloodsucking beast, is what she is) that has only just started to heal. Of course, the bird nailed me in the one spot on that finger where I always bump or rub, which means even the bandaid was annoying.

My life is full of minor irritations that I build up to enormous proportions in order to have something to say.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Drinking My Way Around the World

Husband and I spent today (spent being the operative word) at EPCOT, enjoying their Food and Wine festival with some good friends. This is a little something Disney does during the off season to encourage locals to come. Let me give you a total.

$ 7.00 -- parking
$110.76 -- one day passes for two people (yes, it now costs OVER 50 FUCKING DOLLARS TO WALK INTO EPCOT)
$ 54.28 -- all you can eat dinner for two at the Akershus in the Norway Pavilion (and damned well worth it. Yum!)
------------
$171.76

i can't get over that ticket price. This isn't a multi-park pass. This isn't a return pass. This is ONE DAY, in ONE PARK, for ONE PERSON -- something around #52.00 a piece plus tax AND $7.00 for freaking parking. Do you wonder at all why we haven't been there in almost 4 years? And does it surprise you at all that we are not likely to go again for another 4 years?

Now, that price up there doesn't include the festival. That's a whole different situation. It works like this -- there are little wagons set up all around each serving tiny portions of food and wine from various countries. (There are also various wine tastings you can attend that don't cost anything extra because they are big advertising moments for the various wine companies.) At each of these little venues, it will cost between $4 and $10 to try a few items. We had a Polish Cherry wine I quite liked, and something called Valckenberg Madonna -- a sparkling wine -- that was delicious. We tried a LOT of various wines, all served in 3 ounce cups and shared between four people, yet I managed to get a little light headed right before we sat down to dinner. I'm such a cheap date. We sampled food and wine from Australia, from Germany, from Ireland, and from different places in South America, among others. Oh, and we tried a Plum Wine/Saki called Ginkobai while in the Japan Pavilion -- that was some very, very, VERY good stuff. There was some fairly nasty stuff in spots (like the Samual Adams Cherry Wheat Beer -- foul, foul stuff! Smells nice, tastes like a burnt sock. We dumped it on some of the genetically engineered, unnervingly perfect Disney Grass)

And that's probably the most alcohol I've had to drink in a single day in several years.

EPCOT has changed considerably in the nearly 4 years since the last time I was there. First, the parking lot people now ride Segways while they direct cars -- obviously, this explains the NEED for the $7 per car parking fee. We also saw Segways in the park tricked out as little sales buggies for the "glow-in-the-dark" stuff they hawk before the fireworks go off.

And the big Golf Ball (Spaceship Earth) now has a huge Mickey Hand holding a Wand attached to it, which looks tacky as hell. Like the big Golf Ball wasn't distinctive enough. Oh, and in what used to be the open pavilion between the entrance area and Spaceship Earth is filled now with rows of red marble monoliths in graduated sizes. The monoliths hold tiny one inch square laser cut "photos" people have paid to have attached. From a few feet away, they look like odd hyroglyphs. Close up, they look like generic outline faces. Yes, you too can now pay good money to have a lousy and very tiny picture of yourself attached to what looks like a bomb barrier.

I was not impressed.

I was impressed with the new Mission to Mars ride. It was quite effectively done and fairly fun, if ever so slightly nausea inducing. If you've ever ridden Star Tours, this is even better and not nearly as goofy. It's also a little too short, but then I suppose there's a matter of attention span. They've got Gary Senise doing the little movie and the voice acting for it.

Other than that, I'd say the last few years have not been good to Disney. Many areas I remember having shops or shows are now closed off. Several restaurants were relatively empty for large parts of the day (although it IS off season right now). Still, the weather was perfect, the usual annoying factors were not so annoying, and I had a good time. I'll sleep well.