28 December 2007

Could Benazir Bhutto be the New Franz Ferdinand?

Let me preface everything I’m about to say by stating that I’m fully aware this is all in very bad taste. You're not telling me anything I don't already know. And yet, I can’t be stopped.


OK. Maybe I’m kind of a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Maybe I smoked too much pot in my youth. Perhaps smoking a lot of pot in your youth makes you prone to conspiracy theories. Or Vice Versa.

Yesterday, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The world is mourning this charismatic leader. When pretty people die the world tends to mourn long and hard.

She had an awful lot of other qualities, too, but one wonders if any of these qualities would have come to light if she hadn’t been so much of a babe as well. Perhaps we will never know. She seemed to have had a good head on her shoulders and her heart in the right place, and as history teaches us, those qualities in a leader are like begging for a bullet.

Anyway – here’s why the whole thing’s got me scared: This might spark a lot of other incidents that could lead to an even bigger conflict. I mean, I think that we can all agree that the area is, to put it politely, unstable, N’est pas? And you’ve already got shit happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and if something kicks off now in Pakistan it’s like all these hotspots geographically surrounding Iran and the pressure could – I don’t know – be like popping an enormous pimple and suddenly we’ve got WWIII.

Because it wasn’t that long ago that WWI, ”The Great War” got started off in a very similar fashion. Franz Ferdinand was minding his own business, doing whatever it is that the Archduke of Austria and Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia does; you know, going on photo ops, appearing at public functions, that sort of thing, when he was assassinated. Then everyone declared war on each other then millions of people from lots of different countries spent the next 4 years sitting in mud pits lopping bombs at each other.

OK. So here’s where it gets weird:

Franz Ferdinand was shot in the neck.
Benazir Bhutto was shot in the neck

There was another attempt on Franz Ferdinand’s life a few months earlier.
There was another attempt on Benazir Bhutto’s life a few months earlier.

Benazir Bhutto was pretty and wore makeup.
Franz Ferdinand had himself sewn into his outfit so he would appear slimmer (True!)

Franz Ferdinand is an alliteration.
Benazir Bhutto is also an alliteration.

OK. That’s all I’ve got. And, you know, I hope I’m wrong because I have absolutely nothing to wear that’s appropriate for a Global Conflict.

Also I can’t help but think how tragic it will be if 100 years from now some hapless teenager is at a Benazir Bhütto concert and someone turns to him and says, ”Dude, did you know that Benazir Bhutto was an actual person and that’s where they got their name? I think it was some guy who started the first Nuclear Holocaust or something.”


“Wow. I just thought it was some cool band name.”

27 December 2007

My New Years' Resolutions

Usually I can't stand any of these conventions that society tells you that you must do like being nice to people at Christmas or having a romantic dinner on Valentines day. Sometimes I even wear white after Labour Day. I'm that crazy. But for some reason, the New Years Resolution thing I like. Even though this isn't the real New Year; which should be 21st March (my birthday) according to the old Pagan way of doing things and people in Iran (apparently). But for shits and grins, I'll go ahead and call January 1st the beginning of the New Year. It's the first day after the whole Christmas Season which tends to clog everything and grind life to a halt, and that I can respect. So anyway, just to make things official, I am proclaiming my Resolutions to The World...Or at least those members of The World who actually read my blog (Hello to both of you).


My New Years' Resolutions

1. I am going to get off my ass and do my writing in my favorite bar every day. I know this might sound like a strange thing to have to commit oneself to, but this particular bar is in a 700-year-old building and in view of a gothic castle and it inspires the hell out of me. The "getting off my ass" part involves walking to the bar which is about 30 minutes away. Once there I admit I will be back on my ass. And just because I'm sitting in a bar doesn't mean I have to drink alcohol, you know. They have coffee, too. (Or so I'm told).

2. I am going to stop letting the cats run our lives. We can go away for the weekend and leave a whole bunch of food and water out for them. They won't die as they would have us believe. We need to have the strength to enjoy being in a hotel room somewhere without lying there wondering what the cats are doing.

3. Glamour is back. I have let my hair be its' natural dishwater-blonde color for long enough. I'm going platinum again. I don't care what anyone thinks. I can still be a freaky hippy with fabulous hair. Also I will attempt to wear high heels more often. Doc Martens should only be worn on country hikes when one is my age.

4. I will run my first marathon by May. Or November. One of those. I haven't decided yet.

5. I am going to talk to that strange old woman who feeds the ducks down on the canal. I have a feeling she might be me in the future.

6. I will no longer even entertain online discussions with Americans who think Global Warming is a "hoax". It just enrages me and takes up precious time I could be spending on lots of other things. When they say these things, I shall just type "LOL" and walk away (figuratively).

7. I will conquer my fear of riding my bicycle on city streets.

8. I will stop talking really fast in exasperated English when I am frustrated speaking Dutch. I'm in danger of turning into Ricky Ricardo.

9. I will have my book finished by August. Honest.

10. I am going to throw more dinner parties so I can convert more people to vegetarianism. Also they usually bring more bottles of wine than we need which is good for later.


08 November 2007

Death by Neti

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Something you should know about me is that I've been suffering from allergies for years. I'm one of those people who always has kleenex and who frequently sneezes. Some days are worse than others, and the whole thing was considerably worse when I lived in Los Angeles; Los Angeles is in a valley and very polluted, so it's kind of like being in a gas chamber full of fake people.

I had my allergies tested by an allergist once - it's a big painless and yet disturbingly unattractive test where they put all these different possible allergens on your back, write corresponding numbers next to them in purple ink, then wait for welts to appear. My back looked like a Sudoku puzzle with welts forming with the numbers that corresponded to cats and molds. As I was living in a damp studio apartment with 5 cats at the time, the doctor suggested that I move to a different apartment and get rid of the cats. Get rid of the cats? You don't just go around getting rid of cats! Cats are family members! And besides, why should they pay for what was clearly my shortcoming? As I explained to the doctor, I was the one with the problem, so I was the one who needed to work on the problem. And so for about 6 months, I had to go to his office and have injections once a week. It helped until I lost my health insurance and then, mysteriously, it stopped helping. (!!!)

But then I took matters into my own hands. I became convinced that it was all mind over matter and that I could cure myself if I just decided not to have the allergies anymore. Also, I heard a theory that if you get a kitten, you'll get used to what you're allergic to as the kitten grows up, and you'll be cured. So the next time I heard of a kitten who needed to be rescued, that's what I did. I cured my cat allergy by getting more cats. A little hair of the dog, if you will.

So anyway, the upshot was that I effectively cured myself of my cat allergy, much to the relief of what was now a small legion of cats and myself. But I still had the mold thing. It would act up like clockwork the day after a heavy rain, or at the homes of the sorts of people who wear black and always have their curtains drawn. And then I heard about The Neti Pot.

The Neti Pot is a little ceramic pot with a spout that looks suspiciously like one of those creamers on the tables in cheap coffee shops. It's an anceint Ayurvedic cleansing system. The name comes from the Sanskrit term, Jala Neti, which I'm assuming means "nose bucket" or something similar. What you're supposed to do with the neti pot is fill it with warm salt water, then pour it into one of your nostrils and it all runs up into your sinuses and then comes out your other nostril. My mother had sent me a neti pot along with a kilo of sea salt (because she thought I wouldn't be able to get sea salt in Belgium). Upon receiving the package, I promptly tucked it all away in a cupboard, dismissing it all as being just a little too Birkenstock for me. But as my mold allergies started getting unbearable, I thought I'd give it a try. So I poured some warm water in, poured some sea salt in, stuck the spout in my nose and went to it.

Now here's a very important tip: If you use a neti pot, make sure to mix the salt with the water until it dissolves. I learned this the hard way. I didn't think about the fact that there was this big clump of salt at the bottom of my neti pot. So effectively what I did was to pour warm water up my nose, followed by pure salt sludge. Three tablespoons of salt right up my sinuses.

Oh my God. Did it hurt? Um.....yeah. Kind of like what I would expect it to feel like if a bee had flown up my nose with some of his friends and started having a stinging contest. Holy shit. Why don't they write the thing about making sure the salt dissolves on the side of the neti pot? And who am I supposed to sue? A bunch of anceint Ayurvedic guys?

Look - I don't want to knock Ayurvedic stuff. I'm a big fan of it as a matter of fact - I just happen to have a problem with this one particular thing. And yes, while I'll admit that it wasn't painful once I'd mixed the salt water, I still found myself rather unwillig to be faced with the prospect of having to pour water up my nose every day for the rest of my life.

So I tried something else. And if you're an allergy sufferer and you happen to be reading this then listen up (or rather carry on reading), because what I'm about to say will change your life:

I gave up cheese.


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I had been addicted to cheese all my life, and now I haven't had it for a month and MY ALLERGIES ARE GONE. I actually caught myself breathing clearly from my nose for the first time a few weeks ago and it was such a revealation.

....And the best part is, now I don't ever have to pour salt up my nose.

27 August 2007

Surely this is not a good name for a beer.....

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket So we were driving on the highway yesterday, and I see a truck from Italy and on the side it has big advertisements for "Drive Beer".

Hmmmm. Maybe not what one should promote on the side of a beer bottle?

I tried not to jump to conclusions. I thought: "Maybe it's a non-alcohol beer for people who want to drink beer and drive." ........Ummmm, nope. The reason it's called "Drive" beer is because it's promoted by this guy:

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Italian race driver Giancarlo Fisichella. And it isn't alcohol free; it's got an alcohol content of 2.5 percent. And while that might be considered a mild driving-safe beverage in certain counties in The Republic of Ireland, it is nonetheless alcohol, and therefore something that we hope Giancarlo isn't sucking down before a race.

They seem to be promoting it as a fun, hip, chic beer for people who live in the fast lane; a fast lane where, apparently, a lot of good-looking Italian people are driving drunk.

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Because, you know, when we've had a bit to drink, we're all a lot more susceptible to suggestion. So when you're asking yourself, "What should I do now?", what better place to look than the place where you've sought so many other answers: your beer bottle. And there's the answer, loud and clear:


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01 July 2007

There Are No Fucking Postcards

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The text reads:

LONDON (AFP) British tourists have left the residents of one charming Austrian village effing and blinging by constantly stealing the signs for their oddly named village. While British visitors are finding it hilarious, the residents of Fucking are failing to see the funny side.

Only one kind of criminal ever stalks the sleepy 32-house village near Salzburg on the German border - cheeky British tourists armed with a sense of humour and a screwdriver.

But the local authorities are hitting back and with the signs now set in concrete, police chief Kommandant Schindtberger is on the lookout.

"We will not stand for the Fucking signs being removed" the officer said.

"It may be very amusing to you British, but Fucking is just Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke? It is just peurile."

Local tourist guide Andreas Rehmueller said it was only the British who had a fixation with Fucking.

"The Germans all want to see the Mozart house in Salzberg" he explained.

"Every American seems only to care about The Sound of Music (the 1965 film shot around Salzerg)

The occasional Japanese wants to see Hitler's birthplace in Braunau.

"But for the British, it's all about Fucking."

Guesthouse manager Augustina Lindbauer described the village's breathtaking lakes, forests and vistas.

"Yet still there is this obsession with Fucking" she said.

"Just this morning I had to tell an English lady who stopped by that there were no Fucking postcards"

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Should we be more disturbed by all the English stealing the "Fucking" signs, or all the Japanese who can't wait to visit Hitler's birthplace?

22 April 2007

Be Wary of Comforting a Degu

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Long story short, we ended up with two degus. I say "long story short" because it's always something - we see a wounded critter, someone tells us about a wounded critter, etc. But if this were a film, the action would start here, where I say it does. I'll give you a few lines of exposition for the past if you think it will help, but after that, you're on your own: We found a wounded degu at the petshop, rescued him before he could be "destroyed", went back to the shop to get his brother (because degus are very social and should never be alone), then brought them home, and put them in a lovely cage.

Within hours, they had eaten their way out of the cage.

So we got another cage.

Overnight, they'd eaten their way out of that.

So we got another cage, thinking this one was foolproof, but the "fools" turned out to be us, and once again they tunnelled out.

Here's a tip to you if you should ever get a couple of degus: Don't keep them in plastic bottomed cages. You might innocently think, like us, there's nowhere on this one they can get leverage for that first bite, but you will be wrong, my friend.

I found out they had escaped the latest cage when my cat Angelo was going crazy in the hallway. I soon saw that he was chasing Pepito and I interviened. I rescued Pepito, gave him a lecture, then locked him in the bathroom. Then I found Chico cowering on a bookshelf between a Noam Chomsky book and a thesaurus (good place to be), so I grabbed him. He was actually shaking in my hand. And, as you can see by the photo, Degu's are cute little fuckers. I was overwhelmed with the need to comfort him. I went to pet his little head as I said, there there little guy, it's OK, when KAPOW!

He bit the fuck out of me. Right between the thumb and forefinger in that muscle that they tell you to massage when you've got a migraine. And not just in the muscle, but right through the muscle. The guy had been sharpening his teeth on several cages and my hand was like nothing to him. Chico made his point, and I discovered exactly how loud a person can scream the word "Fuck". The pain was so intense that it was almost intellectually interesting. I found myself outside my own body with a labcoat and a clipboard saying, that really is significant.

I cleaned the wound, bandaged it, then proceeded to comfort myself with alcohol. I got so drunk that I fell asleep which was exactly the effect I wanted.

Then here's what happened: A few days later, which happens to be yesterday, everything started hurting. Not just the wound,but also my hand and then my whole arm. And here's what I learned folks: Apparently getting bit by a critter can infect everything. Even if that critter is really cute. And furthermore, apparently when you are bitten by a critter, you're supposed to go right to the doctor, especially when that bite causes enough bloodloss to thoroughly trash two towells, and apparently when you work with animals, as I have done for years, you're supposed to know all this stuff and you're supposed to be current on your tetanus vaccinations. I have been apprised of this fact on numerous occasions in numerous animal sanctuaries in numerous languages, but have always brushed off their medical advice with yeah, yeah, I had a tetanus vaccination; and yeppers, I did. In 1985. that's what happens as you get older. All the years sort of meld into one, and next thing you know, you're in Belgian hospital having needles jabbed into you.

Here's what else happens as you get older: You start talking constantly about your physical ailments, even blogging about them. Sorry.

And here's the thing: Chico isn't even apologetic. Little fucker.

23 February 2007

That's Not Just Crazy, That's Bald Crazy!

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In the years since I have left the US, I have found myself rather obsessively looking over my shoulder as if watching the Titanic from the vantage point of a nice dry life boat.

"Row, people! Row" I say, lest we should get caught in its' wake. I can still hear them playing Nearer My God to Thee on deck, but it's getting awfully gurgly.

So I watch CNN International fairly regularily because, ya know, it's good to keep connected and also it's good for lazy old me to watch a news broadcast that isn't in Dutch. I don't have to concentrate so much. I can enjoy my morning coffee. And mostly, CNN International is pretty informative. They have nice British and Australian people telling me the weather in centigrade and they have reports about different stuff going on in the world, sometimes puncuated by cool rock and roll licks if it's Anderson Cooper. And they have......Larry King.

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Larry King seems like a pretty intelligent guy - that's what threw me at first. I thought ah, this is nice; an American interview show hosted by a kindly old grandfather of a man. He kind of looks like one of those old guys who insists on wearing a suit and tips his hat to you as you pass him on the street. He's got one of those no-nonsense faces and old guy slightly gruff been-there-done-that voice. In short: I trusted him.

A while back I started to notice a creeping proliferation of tabloidy topics on his show; but I'd sort of dismiss them and think well maybe there's a lot I don't understand in American news. Maybe the fact that Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife while maintaining an uncanny resemblance to Ben Affleck is important. Who am I to judge? Larry would still cover other stuff like when people would shoot Amish kids or when Hugh Hefners girlfriends had their own TV show. I was OK with that.

Then I started noticing that Anna Nicole Smith was getting an awful lot of airtime. Who was the father of her baby? What happened to her son? It was relentless. And I started wondering how can anyone think Anna Nicole is this important? Her live-in-lover/lawyer Howard K. Stern became a a constant fixture on the other side of Larry's desk with all the articulation of a surfer with a head injury and I learned that gee, maybe it isn't that hard to pass the Bar. Then Nicole figured she wasn't getting enough publicity so in a daring career move she died and now Howard K. Stern has his own little cot in Larry's studio. Dear God. I was thinking where will the madness end and then along came Britney.....

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.........to deflect attention. Thank God, I thought, anything so I don't have to look at footage of that sedated tranny anymore. Now don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to speak ill of the dead or anything, but I think we (and this includes Anna) could all agree that her's was a life that had sort of run the gammit of it's potential. Does it make me mean to say that? Am I supposed to imagine that she was going to suddenly sober up, be given some sort of Flowers for Algernon transformation and find a cure for cancer? Or am I just a realist who recognizes that there's a limit to the entertainment value of a mentally challenged silicone enhanced celebrity? In that wisdom and awareness that we all achieve when we leave this mortal coil, I imagine even Anna Nicole is looking back thinking, "Well that was silly." Perhaps she'll try to compensate in her next life by coming back as a Nuclear Physisist. One can only hope.

So America turns it's entertainment starved eyes to Britney and her newly shaved head. I thought this was a good thing, until Larry had a team of psychologists and pundits and even a guy who gave Britney a tatoo on his show to talk about this National Tragedy. Here's an excerpt from the transcripts of that show:

I think she was making a statement that she doesn't want to be aligned with this Britney image anymore. It did not work for her and she had a little bit of a tantrum. And I think she was saying I'm not doing well. And I don't think it's -- it's reading too much into it. I think we really need to take -- when celebrities act out seriously before something dangerous happens.

You get it people? She was trying to tell us something. Us. You and me. The public. She can't say stuff to us in a normal way like in an email, there's just too many of us. So she has to do it in a cryptic way like by shaving off her golden locks of pretty pretty hair. She knows that we'll know what's up. And God love her, we do. Something dangerous is happening. A girl shaved her hair. Please call for help. Someone.

So now this Kevin Federline person that she used to be married to has got a lawyer to try to get custody of their kids because clearly anyone who would shave her head is not a fit mother. I mean who knows what she'll do next? Stop wearing makeup? Stop hanging out with Paris Hilton? This could get seriously out of control! Get those kids out of there and into the stability of a household headed by a male gold-digger!

Needless to say, this whole fiasco has seriously stolen focus from the antics in the courtroom of those trying to decide where to bury 140 pounds of silicone formerly known as Anna Nicole. The judge (who coincidentally had earlier pitched an idea to a television network to become the next Judge Judy) had to resort to tears, yes folks, tears, just to get the attention that this important case deserves.

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Good move, your honor.

So now the collective mind boggles as to what Britney will have to do in retalliation. She might choose to hack off a limb or be caught in public reading a book. Whatever happens, it won't be pretty.

Watch this space.
(Not literally. Go out and live your life.)

The only thing we can really count on is that uncle Larry will be there to tell us all about it. God Bless America.

11 February 2007

Death by Diaper

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So this week this lady astronaut thought she might like to kill this other lady astronaut who was doing stuff with her astronaut boyfriend. And then, in what will surely become legend, (and all anyone in her prison wing talks about), she put on a pair of adult diapers, drove 900 miles, and attempted to do damage to the other lady.

When I heard this news item I thought, Finally, someone who's not afraid to use adult diapers for recreational use. Years ago, when I was living in Los Angeles but doing shows in San Fraancisco whenever I could because, well, Los Angeles is an awfully nice place to leave, I used to drive 5-6 hours each way along the I-5. Sure it's a long drive, but I didn't mind it. The only thing that really bothered me about the drive was the fact that I am one of those people who has to pee all the time. So I was constantly having to pull over and use the facilities somewhere. Wouldn't it be great, I'd muse while clutching my Mountain Dew Big Gulp, if adult diapers didn't carry wit them such a stigma and I could, you know, just "go" while you drove? Whenever I would bring this idea up in conversation, my friends would usually react with "That is just sick" and I'd say yeah, heh heh, it's, you know, just a joke I'm working on, tee hee hee. And the subject would be dropped.

But dammit. It just makes so much practical sense. I really considered doing it. I didn't do it, but I sure gave it a lot of thought. My only worries were A) where would you dispose of the diaper? This is a valid consideration if you are going to be staying on a friend's couch in San Francisco; and B) What if I'm in an accident and they see me in a damned adult diaper? I mean the last thing I would want is to be mistaken for one of those diaper freaks.

"Those diaper freaks". Ah. Let me explain: It's an image that is unfortunately permanently emblazoned on my mind. Years ago, in San Francisco as a matter of fact, I was at a party at a guy's house, and this guy worked at a video place where people have their videos duplicated or something to that effect. Anyway, he had come into possession of this series of tapes made by a group called "the Diaper Pail People", who are basically people who get off on pretending to be babies, wearing adult diapers and changing each other. Yup. Go ahead. Google it if you don't believe me. Put in the words "diaper" "adult" and "baby" and see what you get.....Anyway, there I was at the party and they put on one of these tapes for shock entertainment. It was sort of an instructional video showing an "ordinary" couple who were enjoying a weekend of infantilism. The tape had an air of "Hey, we're normal folks who just happen to have converted our garage into an adult sized baby room." Everyone else at the party had the fortitude to laugh at it. I just stood there in horror. (OK, maybe I was a little stoned). And the thing is, this is a HUGE thing. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there; so many that there are businesses that cater to these people, providing them with adult sized baby clothes and changing tables. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
If this isn't a sign of the apocalypse, it bloody well should be. What baffles me is: How do these people meet? I mean how does a person go about bringing something like this up in conversation? Like you're just getting to know this really great guy, having a romantic candle-lit dinner, he gazes lovingly into your eyes and says, "How 'bout I shit myself and you clean it up like you're my mommy?"...And the thing is that this line has apparently worked on many people, hence the heavy web presence.

Well these Diaper Pail People must be all over this latest astronaut news item. Probably they're patting each other on the back (while burping each other?) and giving each other that knowing look that says, "See? We're everywhere."

And here's the scary thing: As happens sometimes, the Cosmic Unconsciousness being what it is, this diaper-wearing for long journeys thing is catch on. Why just look at this item from www.chinaview.cn: The headline is Sales of adult diapers soar over holiday journeys. This was just January 24th. What the hell is going on?

So, while the lady astronaut may not have successfully thwarted her love rival, she has unwittingly become the vanguard of a whole movement. Freaks and lazy drivers the world over will be holding her up as their leader.

I'm sure none of this even occured to her as she was being arrested. To have made such an effort, driven so long, and gone to such lengths only to be caught must have been overwhelming. She must have been shitting herself.

Good thing she was prepared.

20 January 2007

It's a Jungle Out There

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A young woman, thought to be 27-year-old "Rochom P'ngieng", was found living in a Cambodian jungle. She has, apparently, been living alone in the jungle for 19 years since she was 8 years old and went missing whilst herding buffalo. She seems to speak no discernable language and she keeps taking her clothes off and making signs that she would like to return to the jungle.

In an attempt to acclimate her to the modern world, her family has been showing her Karaoke videos. Yup. Can you imagine? For the better part of her life, she's been existing at survival level, relying on her most primitive skills and senses, her only interaction with jungle creatures, possibly. Then one day when she's crouching picking up bits of rice off the ground, some farmer grabs her, puts a tacky dress on her and next thing you know she's being shown Karaoke Videos. We've all had awkward chance reunions with people we haven't seen in a while - perhaps we shuffle our feet a bit and search for the right thing to say; but when, in the name of God, has the right answer ever been to show the person what you look like when you're drunk and overestimating yourself?

"Hey you guys! Rochom's been living like a monkey for two decades so she's never seen Uncle Tony singing Paradise by the Dashboard Lights!" Hell, I'd be ripping my clothes off and heading back to the jungle too.

What exactly are these people planning? Are they even going to teach her how to read books, or only to read the lyrics off a screen at their local bar?

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"Come on, Rochan! Sing it! Hot child in the city...yeah...running wild and looking pretty...ooh...hot child in the city...."

18 January 2007

Don't Drink the Water

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The aptly named Jennifer Lea Strange died after drinking over a gallon (That's nearly 4 liters to most folks) of water in a contest called "Hold your Wee for a Wii" for radio station KDND 107.9 in California. And let's put things into perspective here: The grand prize was a Nintendo Wii (whatever that is) and they are worth over 300 dollars, apparently. So miss Strange drank like a freshly dumped college co-ed, and later she died.

And here's the really shitty thing: She didn't even win. Lucy Davidson was the person who won. What's going to be going through Lucy's mind the first time she sits down to play Nintendo?

If I seem callous and unkind it's because I just find the whole thing so ridiculously stupid. First, these loud overly-perky radio station promotional stunts, then the people who are so wowed by the prospect of their "15 minutes" that they are willing to publicly debase themselves, and finally Nintendo itself. Why is everyone frothing at the mouth about a computer game? Is life really that boring? Apparently so. And beyond that - how does one physically take in so much water? Where does it all go? Surely your stomach would hurt from holding it all, and you might get the clue that what you're doing isn't too healthy? I mean what are you thinking at that point? "Damn, this might be rupturing my intestines, but I can't wait to play with my new Nintendo!".

During the water drinking contest a nurse called in to say that this was dangerous and that people could die from it. The DJs joked, "That's OK, we've had them all sign releases."...Here's a good rule of thumb: Never (repeat) NEVER sign a release that involves damage to your body when you are about to potentially damage your body:

I was once asked to sign a release when I showed up at a Temp job at the Chevron building in San Francisco, years ago. The release basically said that if anything should happen to me like the building collapsing that they wouldn't be in any way liable for medical costs (or bereavement compensation - where applicable). Now bear in mind that this was about 2 or 3 days after the Earthquake of '89. We were still experiencing aftershocks; everyone's nerves were frazzled and we were expecting everything to come tumbling down any second. I refused to sign the release. So they spent the next HOUR arguing with me that it was "routine" and that "everyone else did it". I didn't budge. Finally they fired me, I didn't get paid, and my temp agency stopped calling me for assignments. OK - perhaps the "moral" of the story would have been communicated a bit more effectively if I told you that at that moment the ceiling had collapsed, I had sustained multiple spinal injuries and sued Chevron for 90 million dollars. That's not what happened. But I still say I had a valid point. Things could have gone wrong, and in that parallel universe where they did I am sitting in a white marble villa in the Italian Alps sipping champagne whilst having my feet massaged by two male models. But I digress.

As if it weren't horrible enough that a young woman is now dead, there is the added tragedy of it being a particularly embarrassing death. She's sure to make this year's Darwin Awards, and for the rest of their lives her loved ones are going to have to repeat the story of her dying by drinking too much water for a Nintendo game - which she never won.

And lets not underestimate the paranoia of the American public, either. How many kids are going to have to endure the next year or so hearing their mothers freak out every time they drink a glass of water too quickly? There's nothing America loves more than a new medical threat, and this one is just as good as all the Trans Fats, red M&Ms, Excedrin PMs and tampons of yesteryear. Will complimentry water stop ariving at your table in restaurants for fear of the lawsuit that may ensue? I wouldn't doubt it. Unless you've signed the release form.

16 January 2007

Scarlett 'n' Me

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Gone With The Wind really is a great film. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I realize that this is old news, but it happens to be on TV right now as I'm writing this. I quite literally have seen it probably about 100 times. Maybe more. Not multiples of hundreds like I've seen It's a Wonderful Life; but enough times to make me kind of a freak, anyway.

If you're like me, (and God help you if you are), you like the movie all the way through until Bonny Blue dies and then (I'm sure you'll agree), it all slides rapidly downhill. Oh, don't get me wrong; it's well made and it's a classic and all that, but it just at that point gets rather hard to watch because Scarlett acts like such a moron. I mean there's Rhett who is f-f-f-fine and totally in love with her and yet she's still all hung up on Ashley who is nothing short of insipid. And of course it all ends badly. Sorry if this ruins it for you, but you've had 80 years to see the film so don't come crying to me for ruining the surprise.

After seeing GWTW you sort of feel sick for a few days with this big lump of regret on behalf of Scarlett and how she's made a complete ballsup of her life. Ah, but there is hope...

In the 1980's someone had the good sense to write a sequel to GWTW. It's called "Scarlett" and I don't care if it is practically a Harlequin Romance, it's a damned satisfying read. She gets back together with Rhett and things work out much better. Sorry if I've ruined it for you, but it has been out for 25 years now. get with the program, my friend. And I honestly wish that more authors would write more happy endings to formerly negative-ending classics. Perhaps this is my calling? I'll give it some thought. First on the To Do list: West Side Story. I never liked Tony dying in the end... (Again - sorry for ruining things if you've been twidling your thumbs for 45 years)...In my sequal I think I shall have a multicultral team of paramedics rush in and save the day. Tony and Maria will get married and everyone will have a great time at their wedding; all social wounds miraculously healed. And to those of you who will shout in protest, "But it's based on Shakespeare! The classic story of Romeo and Juliet!!", I say what the hell I'm rewriting that one too. Juliet wakes up right before Romeo drinks the poison and they all have a good laugh. The End.

12 January 2007


OK. One more cat story then I promise to post really exciting stuff - complete with car chase scenes and gratuitous nudity, if you like. But right now, just this one little cat story…….

So....About 5 months ago, I started noticing this grey kitten living in the bushes at a construction site around the corner from where I live. When I first saw him, he was probably about 4 months old and so thin that his cheeks were sunken in. I was so worried about him, but he wouldn't let me get anywhere near him; so I'd leave food for him and send him good energy hoping on some level he'd figure I was looking out for his best interests.

Then I had a very vivid dream where some of the feral cats I'd seen around the neighborhood were in front of my house and gathered around the grey kitten who was sitting on one of the wooden chairs out front. It was one of those dreams that effected me in such a way that when I woke up, I was sort of "stained" by the dream all day long. Certainly not a dream up for Jungian interpretation - This one wasn't about me. The dream haunted me so much that in an If You Build It They Will Come kind of way, I started putting dry cat food in a dish under the table out front. Just in case.

Sure enough, two nights later at about 1:00 AM, my cats were causing a bit of a commotion at the front window. I went to see what they were looking at, and there eating the food, was one of the feral cats from my dream, and the little grey kitten.

The next morning, I looked out the window and there was the grey kitten looking up at me. I went outside and he wouldn't come near me, but I left him a dish of canned food right next to the dish of dry. After he'd had his breakfast he disappeared, but he was back at the same time the next morning. I could see he was putting on a bit of weight, and I was relieved to see that. This went on for about a week, until one day I saw him playing with our cats in the afternoon. They were all hanging out together, completely comfortable in each other's presence. It was hot outside and I had the front window open and my cats were running in and out. I was busy working when suddenly I looked down and saw that the grey kitten was in the living room with the other cats. I stealthily ran over to the window and shut it as fast as I could so he couldn't get out. He saw me doing it, went into a panic and jumped at the window a few times trying to escape, then he ran under the couch and cowered there in the dark. I had this strange moment where I felt guilty that I was locking him in against his will, but then I thought better of it. If I had him inside, at least I'd know he was safe and well fed. I had to make the call that I knew what was good for this kitten better than he did. That night I happened to look out the window again and I saw the feral cats that had brought him. They were looking up at the window, but they walked away when I opened the front door. It was as if they were just checking to see that their kitten was alright. I don't think they've been back since then, but I keep the dish under the table out front filled with dry cat food every day just in case. Someone's been eating it, so it's important that it's there, I think.

Now inside, the kitten was eating a lot, had figured out the whole sandbox system perfectly, and was getting along with the other cats, but was still living under the couch. This went on for about two weeks. Finally, I got him to venture out by rolling one of the cat toy balls across the floor. He heard the sound (all our cat toys make sounds to accommodate Martha, our blind cat) and then forgot all his fear to come out and investigate it. He had never seen a toy before (I guess there isn't really much call for toys when cats are fighting for survival on the streets), and devoted all his time to it.

Every day we'd try to get closer to him, and little by little he started to calm down and trust us. We gave him a name; Bram – and right away he knew that that was him. He's a very smart little guy. Bram would watch as the other cats sat next to us and on us, and he got braver and braver until one day he jumped up into my lap, and that was it: I fell immediately and hopelessly in love with him, and he became an affection junky and now we've got this mutual codependent thing going on.

Right now as I write this, he's sleeping in our laundry basket, which is like saying, "you are my family" in cat language. As for me, I can't stop kissing him every chance I get. So now we are a household with 6 cats, 2 rabbits, 3 gerbils, 2 dwarf hamsters and also 2 humans.

Some people, including some so-called "experts" on cats, will tell you that you cannot tame a feral cat over the age of 2 months. All I can say is that they are wrong, wrong wrong. All cats – infact all creatures – respond to love. The proof is sitting in my laundry basket.