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.