july 2002

click here for permalink July 31, 2002

A countdown to what could very well be the most embarrassing, ill-advised and — despite an uncannily enthusiastic and thorough media build-up — uncalled-for celebrity comeback of our time, has begun.

On one hand, the mind boggles at the thought that someone is intentionally generating publicity for the media-gluttonous Anna Nicole Smith — and at the rather chilling realization that there are people out there with money and power, still very much alive, for whom she hasn't yet worn out her welcome at the Grand Slam Buffet of Fame. On the other hand, maybe she possesses one of those rare, much-coveted meal tickets that entitles the bearer to All You Can Shovel Into Your Raw-Meat-Red Lips.

This morning, simultaneously repelled and transfixed, I watched as she loomed top-heavily beside Regis, spilling out of a black lace body condom and adopting a hunched-over Panda-like posture in order to keep her balance. Every few minutes Regis had to lurch back in his chair to avoid inadvertently copping a feel of the feminine attributes you could practically see expanding before the live studio audience's eyes.

Somehow, in four days, this hormonally-imbalanced walrus in heels will host her own reality show, the definition of which will be sorely tested by the show's entrance into its ranks. They aired a clip of her first episode this morning; it consisted of several minutes in a tight shot on her stretch velvet-encased ass wriggling around under a coffee table where she had purportedly crawled to retrieve her dog (she seemed, more apparently, to have been napping/hiding when the ever-present cameras "surprised" her).

Several long moments passed as she alternated between half-hearted struggling and resting her face on the floor. Finally, as if prodded by an off-camera handler, she tried to back out towards the camera and ended up wedged between table legs, slumped over in defeat like a yarn-headed sock doll.

Mercifully, Regis reappeared, with a blanched grimace frozen on his face like a Kabuki death-mask. Anna Nicole, her bovine tranquilizer-numbed torso wobbling with toddler-like pride, began clapping along with the audience.

Well, maybe not with pride, exactly... more accurately, I think it was the complete inability to register embarrassment or shame. For those who won't be watching their tape of the Trade Centers collapsing over and over instead during that particular hour, the first episode of "The Anna Nicole Show" airs on the E! Channel at 10pm this Sunday.

click here for permalink July 26, 2002

Whew... it's a hot, hot, hot summer in Vancouver — albeit not to the degree that it's hot in Arizona, Nevada or California... not forest fire hot, mind you. But here, a week in the 80s is rare...

Even in the dead of summer, we rarely get the kind of heat that stands up to a cold breeze coming in off the water, but Vancouver does hit us with a good, hot summer and a genuinely cold winter once every few years. It's what keeps us raving about how nice it is here, despite all the intervening years when we have this mild, damp, annoying, constant not-quite-anything season that lasts most of the year. Long story short, I'm loving Vancouver right now.

After reading my little lonely guy tale last week, a male friend wrote to commiserate — and to ask if I thought the guy was genuinely deranged or harmlessly... clueless. (He seemed concerned — I guess I set off his new "protective parent" radar!)

I had never considered the guy actually being crazy or threatening, though, just desperate and deeply entrenched in the flawed methodology of his — clearly relentless — pursuit of women.

The guy has a pretty novel approach, after all... the FIRST time you hear it... so I would guess he's probably got a decent success rate. I mean, consider the shear odds of scoring a successful "hit" when you make a rule of aiming at every single viable target that enters your field of vision...

And from what I've seen, there are more adherents to this approach than you'd think — I tend to run into a lot of them in elevators — and you can spot them the second you enter their "strike zone."

So there you are, in the elevator. You're both staring at the door, like you're supposed to, and the cables are dragging you closer and closer to walking out of his life forever. You can almost hear the gears in his head grinding away, trying to conjure up something - anything - to say before the doors open again.

I guess he thinks that if he lets the girl get off the elevator without saying a word to her, somehow, all his guy friends will know. And they will ridicule him for the rest of his life. Maybe he imagines his best friend, on his wedding day, standing to toast him and his new bride; "Barry and Angela, what can I say? Hey, she's no Chick From The Elevator, but if you love her, we love her..." as the rest of his friends cheer.

At which point, desperation takes over and he hears himself break the silence with: "sure was hot today!"

Or, if he's lucky, maybe you're carrying props that will help him build a dialog. Like, for example, "so... laundry night, huh?"

Or "Is it, uh, still raining?" This approach may lack finesse but it's like any other game in one crucial sense... if you don't play, you can't win.

Ah, but their brand of die-hard proactiveness is kinda noble, even if it is the reduced essence of a boiling stew of loneliness, desperation and abject boredom. And their quasi-literate, scattershot advances are one of the chief reasons our population will never die out... not that the earth really needs any more people at this point...

And, on that note, you may have noticed that the "reading list" to the left of this column has gotten longer... no, I haven't acquired more friends — that, one suspects, would involve lots of messy leaving the house, which doesn't interest me at all — no, I've just done some long-overdue updating. So, when you get sick of me, you can check out some of my favorite web logs.

Here's a question... what must I do to convince a friend who's just started her very own "blog," [shudder] that the use of that word is intrinsically wrong?

click here for permalink July 20, 2002

They say there's a first time for everything. Yesterday, I was making my way through the narrow, clutter-infested aisles of my favorite Dollar Store — moving slowly, so as not to miss anything I might need...

...I had just rounded the little tupperware cul-du-sac at the rear of the store when I made passing eye contact with another shopper. He was crouching down next to a milky white and iMac-orange garbage bin — slash laundry hamper, slash food storage unit — in consternation.

"What do you think this says?" He asked me in a half-satirical, half-conspiratorial tone, indicating two raised designs on the orange flip-top lid. I "studied" the raised characters for a moment, leaving the floor open for him to escalate towards a rant, "it could say anything, you know? And what is this thing, anyway?"

Before I could volley back with some snappy, Dollar Store banter of my own, a young Asian woman rounded the corner and was immediately set upon by crouching guy; "Hey! Do you know what this says?"

I turned away to "shop" for candle holders as soon as I realized that he didn't know her, and that she wasn't an employee. My sympathetic embarrassment turned to complete shock when she obligingly studied the orange lid for a few seconds and then, pointing at the characters one by one, said, "uh...this one says SMELL... and this one... says RICE," she smiled apologetically and added, shrugging, "but I don't know what this is for."

Crouching guy and I hastily blurted out our thanks and exchanged looks of bemusement before returning to our separate tasks of shopping for clutter. As I started down the aisle towards the door, I noticed the same girl reaching for a tennis racket that was hanging from a hook high above her head. After briefly trying in vain to retrieve it, she looked at me beseechingly and said, pressing her hands together in front of her, "Can you reach for me?"

I paused next to her, waiting for her to realize that I was scarcely a half-inch taller than she was — and I have no illusions about "projecting" a height loftier than my five feet two inches — but she didn't seem concerned with such trivialities so I had no choice but to rise to the challenge.

Standing on the very edges of the very tips of my rubber-soled flip-flips, and hopping a bit at that, I just barely managed to reach and claim my prize — in the name of petite girls everywhere (I did, however, stop short of weeping and thanking my attorney).

She thanked me profusely and nodded several times in gratitude as I smiled heroically, "Oh, no problem!" And I thought to myself, How lovely! I can't recall ever having been asked to reach something for someone... not in the "up" direction, at any rate...

But it could only happen in Vancouver... and maybe Tokyo... I remember a certain petite male friend telling me years ago that he felt like a blond giant when he visited Japan... And, hey, we should all feel like that at least once in our lives.


Summertime. And the livin' is easy...


click here for permalink July 15, 2002

Last year, inspired by a friend who renewed my interest in the topic, I started designing my own set a of tarot cards. I had just finished (exhaustively!) researching decks on the Internet...

And, since I couldn't decide which I preferred out of my top three, I bought one and found scans of the other two online and printed them, then mounted them on playing cards. But with three new decks in front of me (and one more in the closet that I bought as a teenager and can't take seriously anymore), I was still looking at the cards and superimposing faces of friends and relatives over the characters.

My project started shortly after someone made the logical suggestion — probably Mr. Pink, since he's always nonchalantly setting fires under my ass to be more creative... or rather to do something with my creativity — that I should design a deck of my own around the characterizations that I kept imagining. So, I did.

The project totally took over my brain so that every time I was at my computer for more than ten minutes I was either researching artwork on the Internet or slicing, dicing and layering in Photoshop. The entire deck — a daunting total of 78 cards — took me less than a year to finish. If only I could get so obsessed with projects people pay me to do.

So now, three months after completing the last card, I'm on a mission to figure out a way of actually making them usable. Size is an issue; they're 3.5x5 inches, which is about 25% larger than a set of playing cards (and about 10% larger than the largest standard-size address labels, I discovered yesterday, much to my consternation).

I've printed them out on photographic paper, which preserves all the color and detail but doesn't provide enough stiffness for shuffling — or providing that "card" feel, if you know what I mean. I thought about laminating them but, whether I schlepp into Kinko's with the whole deck, looking like a freak, or actually buy a laminating machine, the cost of such an undertaking might be prohibitive.

Even if it were the cheapest method — which it isn't — actually buying a laminating machine seems to me a bit excessive. Or rather, once I had one, I can easily see myself becoming a bit excessive. I'd probably feel compelled, once this project was over, to "get my money's worth," and I'd go on laminating rampages, wrapping and sealing anything and everything in sight...

I can see myself terrorizing my friends with gifts of glossy, handmade bookmarks, pocket calenders and "quick reference" charts of things they need reminding of... I can see entire art projects being executed for no other reason than their ultimate lamination...

...And now, somehow, this seems less and less like a bad thing... There's a pristine finality to laminating that appeals to me enormously — if you think about it, it is the perfect Virgo finishing touch.

And now, an appropriately themed quiz for the day... huh, tell me something I didn't know...

Which tarot card are you?

click here for permalink July 13, 2002

A few months ago, I spent the day shopping with one of my single girlfriends who was going through a phase of hating being single. By sundown, I was wracking my brain for Sisterly words of encouragement...

Then, just as we were about to pull away from our last parking spot of the day, a face appeared in the passenger side window, gesturing for me to lower it. I glanced at my friend for approval — and probably, knowing me, a refresher on how to roll down the window — before lowering it to admit the torso of a nice-looking man in his early thirties.

He introduced himself to both of us and apologized for the intrusion, then asked if we were single and, if so, wanted to know if my friend would be interested in going out some time. After a bit of dialog and exchanging of short bios, my friend reached into her purse to find a business card and I seized upon the chance to congratulate him enthusiastically for being so proactive in a social situation that many would find prohibitively intimidating... except I think I said "brave" instead of "proactive," but that's what I meant.

He explained that he never likes to let opportunities pass him by if it's possible to act instead and my friend and I both heartily voiced our approval for this school of thought. After they had exchanged numbers, he took a step back and stood a respectful distance from the car — a subtle but calculated maneuver, I noticed, designed to convey the ever-important message: "I am not a serial killer."

Moments later, we were on our way — I, with a smug smile plastered on my face, certain that my side of the "single" argument had just scored a field goal.

Flash forward to today: I was walking home from another day of shopping with another friend when a friendly, smiling man stopped me to ask if I might be interested in going out some time. I politely declined, mentioning the existance of my better half, but complimented him on his approach — and then, as he was taking a step back to a respectful distance, I recognized him from the passenger-side window.

He then proceeded to give me the exact same Personals sales pitch from the parking lot, in which he briefly mentions a very respectable job and nearby place of work and the fact that he lives in the suburbs but is trying to orchestrate a move downtown. I nodded and smiled and started to wonder if "downtown" had recently closed its borders so that new residents had to either buy or marry their way in...

As brief as our conversation was, without the dangling potential of a Love Connection, he managed to squeeze in all his vital stats and selling points. He even reeled off his email address to me, even though I hadn't asked or offered my own, was obviously not writing it down — and had, in fact, already begun window shopping in the opposite direction.

In theory, I stand by my original assessment; proactive is good. I just hope our words of encouragement didn't help to create a monster.

click here for permalink July 08, 2002

I live in an older building (which, in Vancouver, means that our bedroom is big enough to hold more than just a queen sized bed and 18" night stand) and our landlord's policy on replacing the carpet between tenants is a little lax.

I thought that surely our celery soup-colored wall-to-wall was one of the most antique still installed on the premises, since the 80's saw the rise of cream-colored rental standard issue and, in the 90's, pale "stain-magnet" grey ruled the rentals.

But then, as I was leaving the laundry room on the second floor today, I walked by a recently-vacated apartment whose door was open for the between-tenants cleaning crew... the former tenant used to have the most obnoxious bird and I could hear it squawking every time I waited for the nearby elevator, and it always made me wonder how anyone in their right mind could live with a bird...

...Anyway, I walked by today and saw the crew steam-cleaning a bona-fied 70's issue brown-and-orange shag carpet. I shit you not. So I felt a little better about the rancid split pea soup color up here... not much better, though.

Here's a CNN moment for you... In Iran, at least twenty women since February have been arrested for having their husbands killed — and that number is probably on the low side considering that the facts were carefully leaked out a country without a lot of freedom of the press.

It seems the practice has been gaining popularity among women of all classes who would rather face the death penalty than suffer through the remainder of their married lives or through an expensive, uncertain and lengthy divorce trial, which could drag on twenty years, and which generally doesn't favor a female plaintiff.

In a society where men are allowed to take up to four wives at a time and women, naturally, are restricted to one rather sub-standard husband, officials are seeing the current trend as a sign that Iran is going through a period of "hardship and social crisis," not that anyone was looking for more proof of that.

click here for permalink July 03, 2002

Jimmy Buffett was on one of the late night talk shows last night, which kind of freaked me out. It was bizarre because, for one, he was singing new material... or, it was a new song, anyway...

They all have that unmistakable Jimmy Buffettness, regardless of content or decade... He's kind of the John Denver of the Florida Keys, in that respect. What amazes me is that there can be new songs after thirty years!

I mean, thirty years is amazing enough — but it's not as if The Rolling Stones, for instance, made careers out of a quarter-century's worth of material extolling the virtues of their hometown. At some point, wouldn'tcha just run out of material? Are there really any more nuances of Island Life as yet unexplored?

Putting Jimmy Buffett into modern record company context is weird, too... like, I wonder if his record label has to really pressure him to meet his release dates... or if his agent periodically urges him to diversify his repertoire by getting out there and recording cross-genre duets with stars like Shakira and L'il Kim so he'll have brand recognition with the next generation of Spring Breakers?

After thirty years, do new albums full of twangy, tequila-tinged vacation music still practically write themselves? Or is it a constant battle against writer's block, alcoholism and the crushing ennui of endless summer days and nights; a dream, by repetition turned into a nightmare? Oh, the maddening monotony of the salt air and palm-dusted beaches; of the rattan-furnished dockside cantinas, neverending turnstiles of tourists in tropical prints.... and the lonely nights marked in salt-rimmed glasses until the barmaid locks the tavern door after you; staring at the driftwood "closed" sign and the stuffed blue marlin mounted above it as it glares down, judging you with one dark, epoxy-coated eye. And then you stumble down that familiar sandy, tree stump-lined path to your hammock to await another day.

Yeah, but I doubt it's like that. He looked happy, alright. And young. Go figure.

You gotta love the few things, and people, in life who don't ever seem to change. They're like mile markers for the rest of us; Jimmy Buffett, Dick Clark and Cher.