Friday, September 30, 2005

I need a little red wagon

to drag my ass around this week. Man-o-man, I just have no energy. I'm getting sleep, I'm eating ok, and yet the whole idea of moving around and doing something is ennervating. FEH! Here in the land of strangers, this is no good.

Even whining about it takes too much juice. Isn't that pathetic? So I'll just make some notes.

I read a book. I haven't managed to do much reading for a while. I'm in the middle of a dozen books, all of which I'd like to finish, none of which I've picked up. It isn't even a case of "I'm bored by this book." It's a matter of "Oh, this book is interesti...look, a butterfly! Ooo, that's shiny! I wonder if there is a snack bar left..."

I'm contemplating doing the NaNoWriMo. I've contemplated this before, and even stabbed at it a few times, with never a chance of finishing because I just lost whatever thread I had. I'm all about the short fiction, ya know. But this year I have a plan, and I'm thinking that a little support group amongst the bloggity writer types I know around here might be good.

I'm not answering email. In fact, I'm ignoring email in a large way. It's not personal. If I've ignored your email it isn't you. Your email is just surrounded by worms of junk mail getting through my filters and looking too daunting to deal with. It's a denial thing.

I suspect this is post travel malaise, because there is something intrinsicly draining about airports and long hours in cars, and I'm rarely a very energetic person to begin with. Fleas sucking my blood might also be a contributor (round 2 of the battle against the fleas is coming up). But it's almost October, which means normal temperatures around here should start cruising the mid 80's (that's the high 20's for those of you into the whole Celsius thing. I found a converter on line so we can talk weather again!). Cooler weather is more energizing, as I open the windows and like nature again.

Still. that little red wagon might be nice. Especially if it has a motor in it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Attack of the Camera Phone!

Yes, more crappy pictures from my Nokia. Hey, it does the best it can do.

Tim Hortons -- "Canadian Crack" as CanuckGirl calls it -- were everywhere, usually inside other businesses. Even Home Depot had one. Coffee and donuts go with EVERYTHING.

Conservatives in liberal Canada? Apparently so. The headline reads "Is Conservatism Dead?" There was much headshaking. I thought the American SouthEast had a lock on that rhetoric.

Canada has Black Squirrels, which are much less rodent looking and have fluffier tails than the grey squirrels I'm used to seeing. There are some in that greenery up there.

Word on the Street Toronto 2005. Books, books, books, books, BOOKS!

Some of those institutes of higher learning were around the park where the festivak was held. There are probably some black squirrels in there, too. I just loved them.
The Royal Ontario Museum was also near the park. We didn't go in, although I would like to visit it one day. Another marvelous old building with lots of details in the archetecture.

And this weird "expansion" project being grafted on to its side. Supposedly modeled after the addition to the Lourve, this one looks far less promising, and actually will obstruct some of the nicer bits of the original structure. The architect's name was "Michael A. Lee-Chin Crystal" which, for some reason, struck me as funny -- and overkill, especially the initial. We thought it might be two people, but "Chin Crystal" is a cruel name.

OK, I just looked it up. The architect is Michael A. Lee-Chin and the thing he's building is the Crystal, apparently. The signs outside the building do NOT make this clear at all, spelling the whole thing on one line, in the same font.

These are just some random photos I took -- an accidental street click, the back of everyone's heads looking at the "Crystal" (Husband, CanuckHusband, and Canuckgirl) and a photo that was really of the lady in the hat and the yellow flowers but which caught the rest of the group anyway.

O Canada

I've been trying to come up with something to describe my trip to Canada that would be interesting, narrative, and not already revealed by either Canuck Girl or Husband on their respective weblogs. So far, no luck. I've mentioned before that, for a wanna-be writer, I suck at storytelling from my own life.

In part, I guess, it's because everything went so well. Things went my way, were wonderful, happy, and generally tasty. While it's great in a real life situation, happiness makes for boring narrative.

I enjoyed Canuckgirl, her sweet-natured husband, and her extremely fluffy-soft kitty. We ate great food, had long conversations, watched movies, laughed a lot, and played City of Heroes. It really was like walking into the home of old friends I hadn't seen in a while. Oh, and her whole basement is painted a medium purple, with a lavender-grey carpet. What's not to like?

Toronto has that whole New-World/European vibe, with neighborhoods distinct for ethnic, social, cultural and financial reasons, and mass transit. You don't see much like that in Florida as a rule. There are buildings belonging to assorted institutes of higher learning everywhere you turn, most with fabulous architecture. There's this really HUGE lake on one side (Ontario, for the curious) that sort of creates a centerpiece.

Most of all, it's sort of like being in the States with all the fun of a foriegn country. Metrics instead of Imperial measurements. French translations of all the road and public signs. Odd configurations of familiar fast food (Tim Horton's is pervasive, invading everything like kudzu.) Just enough stuff that's "different" without being terribly uncomfortable. Generally pleasant, clean, polite, friendly -- and despite the constant, inescapable crime I commit by being a citizen of the US and not surrendering that nationality to live in some more rational country, I never felt it particularly. Well, except in customs where apparantly Americans traveling with laptop computers are a dangerous breed, intent on committed some sort of harm on the innocent and unspecting Canadian.

I suppose that was correct, really. We did addict our friends to City of Heroes, which may be to their detriment. However, I don't think it is illegal to invite friends to play a video game, especially in a household where there are already 2 PCs and a video game system on the wide flat screen TV.

Seeing Niagra Falls, which was to have ended the trip, was ruined by ol 'Rita. Hurricanes, even when they don't destroy your home and flood your town, are annoying. There was a thick, misty rain in Niagra when we got there, obsuring the already mist-obscured falls. We caught glimpses from the roadway, but could not persuade ourselves that getting totally soaked just before getting into an airplane for 5 hours of flyingwas a good idea. I can deal with damp, but I hate soggy underwear while sitting in Economy.

So, now we are all about getting Canuckgirl and her husband down South to scare them with all Florida is. Right now March looks promising, as the weather will be far superior here, being above freezing.

Because you don't mess with Santa

Danish Air Force Compensates Santa

Just makes me think I like Danes.

Side note -- if you are from Denmark, is it better to say "Danes" or "Danish"? "Danish" to an American denotes tasty pastry more than a nationality and I think the US has eaten quite enough out of Europe at this time...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

You or your loved one

Ok, I do NOT have the most perfect grammatical control possible. I cannot tell you the parts of speech without looking them up. I've been known to take liberties with the English Language as spoken in the U.S. and I've done it without the slightest trace of guilt. However, this doesn't diminish in the least my astonishment and admitted evil glee when I come across the grammatical errors of others.

Case in point: Recently there have been a spate of ads on television encouraging people who have had problems with various prescription drugs, or who have suffered health problems due to exposure to some chemical, to contact this or that lawyer and sue. Now, the ads themselves are the very earnest, serious sort, with scrolling text on a dark background and a somber voice telling people that they may be entitled to all the benefits extensive/expensive litigation can bring. However, without fail, they've all said the following:

"If you or a loved one has experienced injury or death due to...."

If you have experienced death because of a pill you took, you aren't likely to be watching the ad in the first place. Now, I know that some people have been declared "clinically dead" and then brought back, but unless death is a permanent state, I don't know that it really counts as more than another symptom at the end. Really, death is only a problem (for most of us, at least) when it doesn't go away, right? If you are currently experiencing death, it really doesn't do much good to tell you that you can sue. I feel reasonably safe in asserting you probably don't care, or, at least, you aren't watching any TV show that would have the commercial running.

Ok, I understand perfectly the linguistic Gordian Knot the ad writers are trying to untie here. They are trying to say in simple, short sentences that you can sue on your own behalf if you've been injured or on the behalf of a loved one/relative who has been injured. If that loved one/relative has died, you can still sue. It still causes me endless amusement thinking of lawyers getting phone calls from people who died from taking a particular pill and who now wish to sue. I think the lawyer would take such cases, but can the complaintants actually take any settlement with them? And would the government get to tax it twice?

Photos, Without Comment

Monday, September 26, 2005

quick conversation upon landing

Me: (looking out the airplane window as we land) Hooters Airways? Oh no! They're kidding!
Husband: Like the restaurant?
Me: Think so.
Husband: Oh gods, I'd hate to think how the stewardesses look.
Me: Maybe they can be used as flotation devices.

Blogger ate my

post. Why don't they feed that thing?

But they assure me an engineer has been notified.

I'm home and that's good. There are pictures and that's good, too. There are also fleas in HAZMAT suits, which isn't so good.

I will explain all later, once they get Blogger some cookies or something.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Check point and Check point

In canada, which is pretty nifty so far. Canadian customs finds carrying laptops across the border a suspicious activity, but, eh.

Working on addicting Canuckgirl and husband to City of Heroes so we have more cool people to play with. I like playmates.

And this blog is 2. Who knew I'd manage to keep talking so long?

Can't upload pictures because I used my phone and left the cable at home. Tomorrow we will use the camera and that cable I have with me.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Not Dead Yet

I'm still here, somewhere, sorting clothes into suitcases again, because I'm GOING TO TORONTO to see CANUCKGIRL, her poor defenseless husband and slightly less defenseless cat. There will be fun, food, giggling, socks, and a visit to Word on the Street. Yes, I'm packing an extra suitcase for the haul back.

We might even get to see Niagara Falls, since technically we are flying into/out of Buffalo and renting a car (it was cheaper than flying into Toronto, believe it or not, and I've never seen upstate NY.) So, there is much adventure in store, most of it consisting of me staring at a map while Husband glares at uncooperative roadsigns. I expect to see all new convenience store/gas station names, too. The thrills never cease.

Chorus has started up again, we have a new director and a shitload of new music, and so I'm back in rehearsal. Husband is pulling a lot of massage jobs so he's running around a lot. AND I MADE LEVEL 40 on City of Heroes, bwahahhah. And of course I've got jewelry quota to make, but I'm sorting and UNMAKING things from years past that are just not as pretty as they used to be. Anyone going to Necronomicon this October? It's over Halloween weekend, whoo hoo, and so should be especially good.

Oh, and my 2 year anniversary for this weblog is coming up, but I shall be in the foreign country (Canada DOES count as a foreign country, ya know. I get a new stamp on my passport and EVERYTHING.) Canuckgirl and I were pondering if there is import duty on cat hair attached to one's clothing...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

This Whole Blog Thing is Getting Out of Hand

Blogs can help boost a career or sink it

Not exactly "news", is it? Still, there are an amazing number of people who react with a blank stare when I say "I am soooo blogging this."

One quote I find interesting:

[Tim Bray, Sun's director of Web technologies] believes that blogs can boost careers. Those who get in trouble for blogging likely have other problems, too. "Those are the kind of people who would compromise their careers one way or another,'' he said. "... Perhaps having a blog would speed that up.'' (Yes, he has a blog, and no, I'm not linking to it. Read the article.)

While I agree that some people who have blogs may inadvertantly (or even subconsiously) use it in a way that will cause trouble and this may indicate other kinds of behavior with a similar result, I don't agree that blogging about one's job or career is automatically a bid to get fired. There are a list of very popular weblogs that are all about a particular person's real or exaggerated work experiences. Workplace humor and humor about one's job, particularly wry, cutting humor, is not only very common but very popular. (Check Dilbert for one example. Watch TV for another. Movies, too. I'm not even going to make a list, the choices are so obvious and multitudinous.) Writing about work, even writing about the awful things that happen at work, isn't automatically a bid for being fired or a personal kind of subterfuge. Sometimes, it is just where the humor is.

Of course, businesses large and small are notoriously touchy when it comes to being laughed at.

That "mild level of social panic" is another point of interest, as well as the very accurate assertion that 1st ammendment protection does not include protecting a private entity from another private entity. That's why you can sue for slander and libel, isn't it?

Communication is a wonderful thing, as long as you don't offend anyone, piss anyone off, say anything someone else might not like, use language or discuss topics potentially offensive to someone (at least, someone important with money) or make jokes about your boss. Oh, and don't give away any information about yourself or anyone you know, except that if you say anything you should use your own name and be competely transparant because, really, why would you hide?

More Jewelry

Husband and I have been busy little critters since DragonCon -- not just going to intellectually stimulating cultural events, but being wire around. Here's what we've come up with lately. Please note, these are sized for display on Blogger, and therefore the pieces are not to scale. I'm just scanning the images, so not all are showing in their true color either. I'm also working on that damned link over there -- it's just being stubborn.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Whole Entertainment Package

Tonight Husband and I went to see Ira Glass from This American Life do a live performance via WMFE. We made the required donation last spring. Pricy, yes, but worth it. And there was food.

I've been thinking about what I would write all the drive home, trying out various things in my head, listening for sincerity, humor, insight, and relevance. Since I don't stand a chance on any of those, and since I am terribly self consious because I TOLD Ira Glass I was going to blog about this, to which he replied "Send me the link", I am invoking the slogan of this weblog and declaring yet again that it's MY damn weblog and I can say what I like, so there.

Not that I'm not completely worshipful and not that I can come up with anything negative to say -- no giant pore problem here, no rapid cuts and dizzying editing. No, really, it was him and some CD equipment, a mixer and a mic, telling stories about...telling stories. And, you know, it worked. It was a great hour and a half. It was fun and funny, had surprises and side trips off the script. Meeting him later at the reception, I was caught by how genuine he was with all the people gathering around him. It was good just to stand to one side and listen. He doesn't come across as "Famous Person". He's "Guy Doing What He Loves Very Well And People Know About Him". Even when he was pressed fairly close, he kept up the charm and the direct looks in the eyes. He's a touchy person, pressing shoulders and arms, gesturing, all of which makes me think "Hey, he must like people. No, he actually likes people."

If I were any kind of story teller in this weblog, I'd detail to you that I met a guy who employes a women who sings in the Chorus and with my folk ensemble. I'd be able to recount the late teen/early 20s girl I sat next to, who excuded "cooler than thou" and wants to live in New York and managed to entertain said guy mentioned above with her attitude and cocky confidence. I'd give exact details on the man in the front row who was the actual source of a This American Life story, and surprisingly stood up to tell the audience and Ira bits that didn't make it on the air. I could definately tell you about the little apricot/cashew butter hor d'oeuvres and those little chocolate mousse cupcake things. Remember, I said there was food.

The way he talked about storytelling, specifically how he tells stories on his radio show, makes me reflect on how I don't tell them here. I puzzled about it on the dark drive up 441 and concluded I seem to dwell on the reflective bits and skip right over the "this happened, then THIS happened, then THIS happened" parts. I don't really tell stories of my life. When I examine them, it's because I don't think my life is very interesting. At the same time, I find the stories other people tell about their lives which they claim are boring to be quite interesting. I do not get this. I mean, on the surface it SEEMS like I should have interesting stories. I'm involved in some odd things -- a gay chorus, jewelry making and selling at SF/Fantasy conventions, trying to be a writer -- but the "thing" that makes a story doesn't show up. Usually the thing that makes a story is conflict of some kind. I don't have a lot of conflict. My life is peaceful. Things either go my way or I can bend to let them go where they will. Rotten stuff that most people can rant about entertainingly doesn't happen to me, or is so balanced out by good stuff that I forget or simply don't see it as significant anymore.

This American Life is a show I'm glad has online archives. It causes a lot of "driveway moments" because we tend to hear it while in the car, get to our destination mid-story and can't get out of the car until the story is over. We don't listen at home mostly because we don't have the radio on at home except in the mornings, and if we did, we'd be stuck in some weird pose in the middle of the house listening, looking stupid and not getting anything done. So the online archives are a treasure trove. I can dive in whenever I'm bored or restless and listen contentedly for hours. I can go back for seconds whenever I want.

So, Ira, if you actually read this (and my inner optimist tells me you will although my inner pessimist who says she's actually a realist says "feh, idiot. What, he hasn't anything better to do but read your weblog? Please!" Voices in my head and all that.) thanks a lot for coming to Orlando. You were worth the ticket price and the drive. Oh, and you're cuter than I thought you'd be. Congratulations on the new jewelry.

You only need One Word

Last night, the Husband, Miss P, Miss J and I went to see "The Aristocrats" (at last). I'm sure there are scads and scads of other webloggers who've already raved about it, but I've been busy and now it's MY TURN. After I finish this, I'm going to Amazon and put in a request/preorder for the DVD. I would have done it last night, but I was sleepy.

First, a clarification. If you've see ANY of the advertising for this movie, you know the tagline -- no nudity, no violence and no conflict. Well there IS a brief, BRIEF flash of nudity. It's old man ass, and unless you are bent in that particular direction, you don't want to see it. Just blink whenever a couple in a hot tub show up. There is a hint of middle age woman boobie, but it's only a hint. OK, now I've got that cleared up.

It was FUNNY. That's pretty good for a movie that actually had me reflex gagging in the first ten minutes (and I saw it at a dinner cinema -- my chicken quesadilla with guacamole was happily hidden in the semi-darkness). But beyond the laughing and gagging, it was thought provoking. The convolutions, twists, turns, flips and dives of a comedian's mind are revealed here. The ideas of what we find offensive today and yesterday are pulled forward. The importance of a wide vocabulary is exemplified.

OK, the seed is an old (and pretty lousy) joke -- guy walks into a theatrical agent's office and says "Have I got an act for you". He then either describes or performs the act. It involves his family, animals, fruit, and every possible disgusting excractory and sexual act you can imagine, generally described in the most vivid and crude terms. It then ends with "And what do you call this act?" The man replies, "The Aristocrats". It grows from there. The variations are endless. It's jazz in a joke. There are even moderately clean versions. Bob Saget's telling probably manages to be the MOST disgusting. I think he even embarrassed himself. It's about the juxtaposition of images and words. As George Carlin aptly puts it, it's more about surprise than shock. It's about boundery pushing, it's about creativity. it's about jazz. You can analyse the hell out of it.

Mostly it's a comedian's fish story, with each subsequent teller trying to out do (out gross, out offend, outlandish) the next guy. It puts me in mind of a particular Monty Python skit where 5 or 6 Substantial British Gentlemen are sitting about in white dinner jackets, smoking cigars and drinking brandy, and one tells of the harshness of his youth and how far he has come. The next Substantial Gentleman has to top that with his even harsher younger years, and so forth. It's the same idea. It' s marvelous.

Vocabulary is important. If you don't understand what the word "Aristocrats" implies (or if you automatically think of Disney's "The Aristocats"), you won't get it. Some people use "The Sophisticates". In Britain, they substitute "Royalty". It also helps to have an extensive glossary of offensive, crude, and vulgar language at one's fingertips. (I am amazed at my own knowledge, since I never really sought this stuff out.)

OK, it wasn't ALL lovely. My largest complaint was the editing. With one exception, all these folks were filmed in natural lighting, in normal surroundings, without any cosmetic help (except what the female comedians usually wore). There were far too many GIANT PORE shots. There was a heavy touch of the ol "MTV flash n slash" editing which, honestly, made me notice the editing rather than the movie. Still, there was a lot to appreciate in seeing these people as just people.

I also had a lot of fun counting how many comedians NEVER TOLD THE JOKE, but just commented upon it. I can't imagine Rita Rudner telling this joke. However, I can imagine her staring at someone who was telling it and delivering icy death with her eyes.

Not everyone is going to get this movie. Not everyone is going to like it, understand it, approve of it, tolerate it, or want to discuss it without pitchforks and flaming torches. But, who cares? It is what it is, which is sharp, funny, honest, funny, interesting, funny, involving, funny, accurate, funny, and fascinating. Oh, did I mention it was FUNNY?

You only need One Word.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Special Photos

This is David Mack. Husband and I first met him
at Fantasm a few years back, when we knew diddly about him, and refered to him as "the artist with the ARMS" because he has these wonderful, muscular arms (and chest and shoulders and...) He also has Dennis Quaid's smile. He draws Kabuki.

He deserves to be worshipped.

This is Jennie Breeden. She draws The Devil's Panties, my all time favorite independent web comic. I bought all her books and gave her chocolate and even got her a free massage from The Husband. This is her being afraid of my fangirl enthusiasm. She is bright, funny, and deserves your worship slightly more than David Mack because she needs it more. Go and buy her books, as I did. Buy them now. It isn't Satanic Porn.

As she and I share a deep admiration for David Mack, I thought I'd put their pictures together, just 'cause.

Potential Blackmail Material

I promised you pictures, so, here are pictures -- DragonCon 2005. Important notes -- we don't get out of the art show much, the best costumes wander by when you don't have a camera, and there are some pictures I haven't figured out where Husband loaded. More to come.