For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

That's Some Good Wine, and a bit about Eli Stone and Ikea

My sensational pinot noire has gone straight to my head. So it's a good thing I'm on my third glass.

I had this "I should see what's on now" feeling at 10:02, when I was in the middle of some strange crustacean scene in the depths of Lake Baikal of the tourist hotspot Serbia in the Plant Earth series, and turned on my Guide Plus to see a pilot "Eli Stone" about to play, featuring hallucinations of George Michael.

Naturally, I tuned in. I know, George is a filthy dirty boy who's fucked up a lot in life, but I think he's just the really intelligent, educated, business smart, talented singer version of the fucked up child actor all grown up. I think he's an idiot but I still love him, and I still think his Songs from the Last Century is WAY underrated. What a great, great album of covers. All treated with jazzy cabaret-style big band renditions and George crooning over 'em. That's the music he was meant to make, the music I always hoped to hear after hearing "Cowboys and Angels" 15 years ago. One track from every decade in the 20th century, all given the same treatment, from "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" to "Roxanne".

Nice to see him poking fun at himself. I have every hope he'll get his shit together and realize he's got different ways to go, music-wise, than pop pretty boy, which he doesn't seem able to let go of.

Oh, so, Eli Stone. Well, I think GM's done for now in the episode, but it was great while it lasted. Apparently this show is controversial, from the one site I've look at. Ohkay. Shure. How? We'll see.

Apparently it pushes all the Big autism buttons. You know, conspiracy. Big-biz vaccines. That sorta thing.

We'll see. The first 39 minutes have been good tv, though, and I'm pleased. It means my cable bill's worth paying for another month. This whole writer's strike thing is making me think I should be concerned about the job thing. That'd suck. We'll see. Should be resolved soon. 'Course, this time I'd appreciate a few weeks downtime and I'd... gotta have faith, baby.

(Show's over. Total thumbs up. Dr. Chen fucking rocks. Go, Eli, go.)


This weekend is the reckoning of purge. If I get everything done, I'll head out in the world on Sunday. If not, I'm fully prepared to go three days into the fray, my friends. It entails a visit to Ikea.

Oh, yeah. Ikea. You know girl means bizness. Ikea. Svedish for organization.

Out goes the fuckin' albatross busted-ass dresser that is making my life a complete and under disaster. It'll take ALL my restraint to NOT throw it off my 3rd floor balcony. In a Tom Green/Jackass alter-universe, I'm so pitching that bitch off that balcony.

But in my repressed lower-middle class almost-urban white-girl life, I'll grunt and suffer and risk further shoulder injury trying to hike it down four flights of stairs. Fuckin' MDF. HEAVY, man. What part of the "fake means light" memo did these manufacturers miss, anyhow? God! It broke anyways, dude, and it's heavy! Get your cheap asses over here and hike it down the four flights of stairs your own corporate ass selves, all right? God. Damn Ikea MDF.

Ironic that they're going to solve the problem they're creating. Aside from the four-floor shoulder-straining hike left up to yours truly. (Thanks! Smooch!)

When I lay me down to sleep tonight, I'll envision myself pitching one-drawer-missing dressers off my balcony and watching them splinter, and counting this sequence as I would fluffy sheep bounding over a rickety fence and hedge. One exploding dresser, two exploding dressers, three --whoa!-- splintering-exploding dressers, four...

There's more wine left. Sigh. Whatever shall I do?

Tune in next time for the continuing wacky adventures of Miss Steff and her zany cohorts.

Fightin' the Fight and Thank God It's Fri(thurs)day

This week, I'm not taking any more shit. I started my Monday off with making a big-ass sign for the hallways in my place about these stupid people using air fresheners in public hallways because they think their shit stinks better than the new carpet smell in the building. At least the new carpets don't mess with asthma, man.

Then there's someone else I need to be discreet about, but suffice to say this person missed a promising career as a manure salesman. They owe me money and they're bullshitting and arguing about it, and I'm fucking fed right up with it. Some people are just not fair. Pay the money, and move the fuck on. Unreal. I'm dealing with it. Mmf. But I just can't believe how petty some people are.

Life's too short to screw people over, man. Life's too short to hang on to every little penny like it's your ticket to salvation. Get over it! Fighting for everything means never enjoying anything. I'll never understand how some people choose to make their lives harder by fighting for every little thing they have "on principal".

Happiness is a principal, too. Try it, you might like it, Evil Nemesis.

One part of me wants to say fuck it, forget about the money, but I think this one person needs to be fought a bit for all those people who aren't good at matching their arguments. Me, I'm giving this person a run for their money. But there's a limit to how much bullshit I'll willingly wade into.

I remember this time that my mom went to see a psychic. I'm not really into the whole psychic/medium thing, but I sometimes hear of incidences that are just too bang-on to dismiss easily. I had my own experience I need to write about one day, about the woman that pulled me off Haight Street in San Francisco, to take me upstairs and tell me I "needed" to have my fortune told, whether I could afford to pay it or not. I still get the shivers thinking about it sometimes.

Mom, though, saw a famous medium that connected to her dad for her, and all the things the guy said were right on the money, right down to the names of her dad's best friends and the card games they all played. The medium relayed a message from her father, in which he said "money [isn't] at the end of the rainbow". It sounds trite now, but it was in regard to a couple business deals she made that did wind up being failures. Weirdly, I was the one that kept reminding her not to fight the losing battles, to take the losses and not let it eat at her, because "money's not at the end of the rainbow". It always brought her peace for a bit, but then she'd fight the stupid battles again.

But when she died broke, she told me she finally understood what I'd been trying to tell her then. She died with pretty much nothing, nothing she could've had with a whole lot less of her life spent on fights she eventually wound up losing. Her energies spent elsewhere might've made all the difference in the world as to her longevity, and, on her deathbed, not only did she finally understand, but she seemed to regret her choices, too.

And as important as every dollar tends to be right now to me, I'm loathe to ignore what it took a lifetime for my mother to learn. I will not live with that kind of regret, I can't. Sometimes even money just ain't worth the grief it takes to get it. Sometimes. Like the Borg say, man, resistance is futile. Sometimes.

Sigh, yeah. So this person I'm dealing with right now is making me call to mind some rather dark periods in my past and I can't understand how this person seems to choose to live in that kind of realm of darkness day in and day out. Nope. I'll never understand people like this. How anyone can run so hard and fast in the other direction from happiness is something I'll just never get.

Speaking of happiness, I have three days this weekend, and today's my Friday. Good. Work's been hard this week and last with the shoulder problem. I think I was sleeping on it a lot, so now I'm trying to change that and sleep instead on my back. We'll see how it improves this weekend. After that, I'll try acupuncture or massage and get it back on track.

Yay, Friday. And give in, Nemesis. Give in!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stupid Food, Smart Food

I've had a strained shoulder for a week now and it's really starting to piss me off. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Okay, so, I'm eating healthy now, right? Target of 1700 calories or less a day, and "good" calories rather than some of the shit I was eating last month. Example: Last night's dinner was a small bowl of homemade beans and ham, and a big leafy salad with some chicken breast and homemade dressing.

I've never been TRULY horrible with food, I don't think. Not like Paula Dean. HOLY CRAP, Batman! I flipped onto her show and what's the woman cooking? Bacon-wrapped squares of super-cheesy homemade macaroni and cheese... breaded and deep-fried! Want a defibrilator with that? No, I'm SERIOUS, man. Who eats shit like that? That's even worse than a fried Mars bar, man! AND fried in peanut oil!

"Mm, that's so good" she says after chowing down on a ...what do you call that? "Deep-fried bacon-wrapped macaroni square?" Yeah, I guess. No! I got it! "The Suicide Square"! One bite and you're psychically making a date with the cardio department at the hospital. OF COURSE IT'S GOOD. Fat, fat, mm, and more fat! Bacon, cheese, carbs, all the favourite ingredients of tubbies around the world. A zillion grams of cholesterol? Anyone? Anyone?

But really fucking dumb to eat, man. That's just insane.

Meanwhile, I'm going to have some more homemade granola.* Hey, get this: ate what I thought was a lot yesterday (3 meals and 2 snacks) and still came in at 1797 calories (using FitDay now). Not too shabby. And I've never been into throwing beans INTO a salad, but having a plate of them with the salad? Tastes great and my god does it give good energy. So, I'm on the right track this week.

Now, if my shoulder could just end this stupidity and pain, I might just be a bit happier. It's been making work hell for me, filled with inflammation and discomfort.

And I found my iPOD yesterday so my universe is righting itself. I'm sure the shoulder will follow suit soon.

*Before I make granola next time, I'm taking 20 minutes to do all the food values and figure out what the calorie count is on it all. It'd be cool to know how apple juice-based granola stacks up re: conventional stuff made with oil.

Monday, January 28, 2008


First, they start selling Army advertising. THEN they take all the usefulness out of RT and destroy the effectiveness of its search engine. Nice work, guys.

So, How Dumb Was That, Hillary?

Sigh. Hillary Clinton's really, really fucking it up. After New Hampshire she had a chance to retool her image. She got teary, and people responded. She showed humanity and vulnerability and it seemed like there might be a human heart behind that cold steel after all. So what's she do in South Carolina? Goes on the vicious attack, relentlessly being negative and condescending, AND getting her husband to do her dirty work too. Suddenly she's back to no-heart Hillary. Even Teddy Kennedy is turned off by her aggressive stance and now throws his weight behind Obama. Could this race get any more interesting? Wow. I love how the world at large is transfixed by this race, and I'm increasingly thinking Obama might be tough enough to run things after all. We'll see.

Man, I wish Hunter Thompson never offed himself. This race would've made him feel 20 again. Two years ago I thought this day would never come. When HST shot himself, my first thought was "Yeah, I feel like that about Bush too", and never even thought that he might've had medical problems. I just assumed the political failings of America were literally killing him. Now that the end of Bush's days are here, the options are awesome! Aww, Hunter, I wish you were around to write about this race. That's the only thing missing, man. He was never the same after the '70s. This election would've awoken hope in him, I know it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Taking a Gamble

There's a gallery taking submissions for Vancouver landscapes, so I think I'm going to submit a few. I need to figure out pricing, and that's something us amateurs suck at, but hey. I'll figure it out sooner or later. Here's what I'm thinking of submitting. There's a few others I might try too, but I have to get some work done now and get off my ass. Whatcha think?

I can't decide if I should do this in B&W or not. Shot from Stanley Park, some guy I don't know.

I might lighten this one up a bit. It's an old loading platform from earlier in the 20th century, I guess, late 19th, on the Fraser River.

My Granville St. Bridge shot but desaturated instead of B+W and I can't decide whether to revert back to b&w.
Kitsilano Pool in the dead of winter on a miserable day, and I like it I don't know why. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tradin' Lies

You been following this story outta France where some mastermind junior trader at a bank has managed to, allegedly, defraud the bank of more than $7 billion?

Hard not to call bullshit on the Societe Generale's claim that one "rogue trader" amassed a $7 billion fraud of "sophisticated and varied" "smaller" transactions that flew under the radar. The guy's only been authorized for solo trading two years! Hello? Probationary period, anyone? Trading caps, anyone? Fucking unreal. He's a JUNIOR TRADER! How does he get that access?

But, oh, yeah, it's all this one dude's fault that they've somehow chalked up this massive fraud.

If, however, they're right, and it is true, and this one dude did do it all, and he didn't do it for personal gain...

...Holy christ will that be a great feature film! IF this ludicrous claim of the SG is true, then his motivations have to be really, really intriguing. What if this is the banking equivalent of a hacker hacking into the Pentagon "because I could"? That'd send shivers through a very precarious industry, man.

What a wild ride this story might turn out to be. Too bad a big banking loss in France doesn't have the same sexy teeth it'd have on Wall Street, but... Still. This'll be a legendary story of fraud for the ages, I would think, depending what details emerge now that the Evil Mastermind! (Jerome Kerviel) has been taken into custody.

They're saying that the guy, when evidence of his deeds began to appear, dismissed things as computer errors or "anomalies". So, what, either way -- whether it's this kid pulling the wool over the SG brass's eyes, or the SG trying to sell this highly incredulous tale (that makes them look like bumbling oafs), it goes to show you that Hitler's old adage of telling bigger lies gets more believers, especially if you're repetitive about it. Hey, he was the master of the lie, man.

Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Watch Out! I'm Pissed Off!

[Disclaimer: The YOU I keep addressing angrily is always the stupid Fido call centre person I speak of, not YOU the reader. We cool now?]

So, I call Fido at about 8:48 (they close at 9) to let them know I can't find my cell, and I need a block put on it until a) I find it, or b) I decide it's unfindable and get a new phone thingie.

Then I ask, "Have any calls been made on my phone since last night?" And she says she can't tell me, I have to phone back tomorrow, they're about to close.

I go, "What? You're not closed now. You're closing in several minutes. You're supposed to be a help centre for the next nine minutes, and I'm giving you an opportunity to help me. So, what's the problem?"

The remainder of the conversation had me becoming a bit of a bitch, which isn't like me. I about snapped when she told me I call the same number tomorrow for the help I'm being denied now. Like, how does that work? Somehow they're magically able to help me tomorrow, but not tonight?

So, for the 12th time, she tells me "I don't have those kinds of informations for you." THAT is the EXTENT of her explanation. "Why?" I ask. "Because I don't have those kinds of informations for you."

What the fuck? Are you some wind-up doll with only THAT MOTHERFUCKING ANSWER AVAILABLE TO YOU? Yer brain programmed by Mattel? Christ. And god forbid I keep you preoccupied until your workday's done, eh?

Naturally, two minutes later I find my fucking phone so I have to call back tomorrow and I'm totally making a complaint. Give me a better answer than "I don't have those kinds of informations for you" when they're telling me the same fucking division WILL have the answers 12 hours from now, when it's not five minutes from them getting the drinks they've been fantasizing about.

I don't get pissy with call centre people often 'cos I know it's a hard job, but if I could've sent a psychic bitch-slap through the phone at this decidedly unhelpful help desk person, it woulda knocked her into fuckin' 2009, man. Sodding hell!

Fido better have a good answer for me tomorrow, 'cos I'm about a week away from buying a new phone and getting a new deal with 'em. Someone else stupid will give me a good reason to change my mind and hold off on using my "bonus dollars" for a new phone, and instead wait till mid-month and buy a competitor's deal.


Nova's got a weird episode about a Turkish family who walk on all fours because they've no balance. Ooh, inbred, too. Hmm! Interesting stuff. There's all this debate about "reverse evolution" as a result of this family. Interesting! No more stupid call centre people. Speaking of stupidity, I feel badly for all those idiots who don't believe in evolution. What cool shit they miss out on in science.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Call Me CraZy...

...but doesn't Stephen Colbert strike you as the kind of guy who would pronounce his name all fancy like "Cohl-behr" just so he could see what kind of critical mass he's reached by how many people know Colbert is really Cohl-behr?

What can I say? I have trust issues.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fuck, Heath Ledger Too?

You can't help but immediately think overdose when you hear the particulars, what little they be, on Heath Ledger's death. It really, really fucking sucks that another young actor I like has met death under 30.

It's not that I've ever really been wowed by this kid's movies, any of them, really, 'cept maybe Brokeback but that movie's not as brilliant as everyone keeps yammering it is. But I loved the fact that he spoke out a couple years back and said how he'd been "manufactured" into a star by the film co's and that he wasn't ready for the acting that they pushed him into. He eventually put the brakes on, and the result was more stuff like Monster's Ball and Brokeback. He seemed really earnest about developing the craft of acting, and seemed so unburdened by bullshit, unlike many of his peers.

I think I felt about him sort of how I feel about a music act whose CD totally misses the mark and all I know is, they're just not feeling it right. Maybe another day, another time, they could really rock it out. I file 'em under "see live sometime" I kinda always thought he had something potentially "wow" in his repertoire one day, and he just had to have that happen.

But he's dead. Didn't see that coming, and, dude, right on the heels of playing The Joker? There's a "my bad" of unbelievable proportions, if it is something dumb like an overdose. (Overdoses are such a stupid way to go. It's why I've never, ever considered doing anything harder than mushrooms, and haven't touched anything other than pot for years. First thing to go is judgment, so doing a hard drug, god, well, naturally you're going to misjudge one day.)

This is kind of like finding out the high school hall monitor's a crack dealer or something. I have a feeling this will turn out to be some freak medical thing no one saw coming. At least I hope so. It'd be nice if all the fond things people say about this kid can go on being said. Geez, the whole dead-young-actor thing's been done to death already the last week or so, thanks to the, again, early demise of Brad Renfro, who was so awesome in The Client and never lived up to his promise.

Jesus. Fuckin' full moons, hey? Weird. I still remember Kurt Cobain's death, and River Phoenix's, where I was and all. They were both so huge for me, as far as dead young celebrities go. I think this is the first young celebrity's death in a long time that has surprised me. Ah, well. Better luck next time, kid. Blah.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Hate That SPCA Commercial: So That Came Outta Nowhere

Again with the fucking Sarah McLachlan SPCA video with "Arms of an Angel". [shudder]

If I give 'em $5, will they finally stop playing it? God!

I always feel so funereal after I hear Sarah McLachlan. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I associate "I Will Remember You" and "Arms of An Angel" with, well, dead people, and funerals, and people who are about to die.

Still, fucking stop with the sad doggie-McLachlan-Angel commercial, please. Every time I hear "SPCA", I think "Pound" and then I think about my long-gone dog Bandit some punk-ass bitch in the neighbourhood had taken away from us. Who does that because someone stole their stickers? I mean, really. If ever there was a "person in my life under 15 like me I most thought deserved to get an ass-kicking", MICHELLE would be the one.

Yeah, you know who you are, if yer out there. Damn you. I like to think my dog lived out his days on a farm somewhere but they never told us. THANKS, MICHELLE.

You had my dog taken away, be-yotch! That time my cousin punched you in the nose because I was too much of a lady to fight? Secretly one of the best ever moments in my life. Best Moments Ever, #28. Howzat?

'Cos you made 'em take away my DOG. Over STICKERS. Garfield and Odie (pre-Nermal), no less. Irony, anyone? Evil, evil child! Probably an evil woman. Michelle. [sending psychic bitch-slap now]

Grr. Okay. Some repressed anger there.

In the spirit of my new yogic practicings, "I forgive you, Michelle."

Yeah. Right. Psych.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Beer and Steak and Fries, Together at Last.

My friend GayBoy can soliloquy long and poetic about the wonders of San Francisco's Anchor Steam Beer, and so, today, when I was searching for a beer to offer my new mechanic friend after his efforts, I was shocked to see six bottles available at Vancouver's premiere BCLD branch on Cambie, the only government shop open in town on Sundays, and conveniently on my route. Don'tcha just love that?

This amber beer is going down mighty, mighty fine, and I can't wait to throw my steak on the Griddler and pull my hand-cut sea-salted yam fries from the oven.

From the bottle:
Today Anchor is one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world. San Francisco's famous Anchor Steam brand beer is unique, for our brewing process has evolved over many decades and is like no other.
I haven't had a beer at home in many months, but this is exceptional. Very sophisticated fermentation going on there... Very nice. Can't pinpoint it. Nice caramel. Mmm. Beer!

Come hither, steak and fries. Come! Okay, I'll go there. Later people.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

It's a Friday night and some sexy black beast of a man (yowr!) at the Noodle Box filled my Spicy Peanut order with a bit too much peanut sauce (oh, boo hoo, cries my stomach while my brain tells it to shut up, the diet starts Monday) and, tragedy of tragedies, I realize I'm not even CLOSE to the Noodle Box's drug-like concoction.

Curse you, Noodle Box, for muddling my cooking attempts!

Okay, so, I sort of forgot the red peppers, may have been a bit heavy-handed in the use of bok choi, and now realize there is one drug-filled elixer I completely didn't realize was there (since I've never had an extra dose of sauce to sample independently): coconut milk!

And some hot red peppers. And less cilantro. Maybe. Could be the Steffism of the recipe... extra cilantro. Spicy, sweet, all the things I love. Or have begun to love in my recently dawned culinary adulthood.

Wait. Did I say not even close? Hey, no, my flavourings are pretty on the mark, actually. My homemade sauce is surprisingly accurate since subbing out the ground peanuts with creamy peanut butter. I just need to kick up the spice, get the veg mix spot on, and add a small can of coconut milk (one of the 135 ml or whatever cans... aprox. a half-cup).

I'll have to make it again soonish. Boo-fucking-hoo. :) God, I'll be a zillion pounds. No, no, I'll work it out. Really! Well, I'm supposed to teach my bro how to make my Noodle Box knock-off, so that might be a good time to guinea pig someone while dumping the remnants of sauce on him to use in other things. Yeah, poor guy, eh?

Anyhow. Friday. Long, painful week, glad it's over. Got to finish off the week with a several-years-old Brit movie that's been remade into shit by the US but the Britsh original was GREAT. Kept making me think of Mom, too. She'd have loved that movie. Just woulda loved it. So, I tapped into the inner-55-yr-old sage woman I know resides in some nethercorner of my mind, and I loved it too. :) kept making me think of Shirley Valentine, which naturally made me think o' Mom again, but not in a bad way, more of a "Steff, want a glass of wine?" kind of way, something we began to enjoy her last couple years among us.

Actually, worked on a number of good shows, and work itself was pretty good, this week. It was just Everything Else that was sort of annoying. I think Monday and Tuesday kind of kicked my ass and I was just keeping my head down and hangin' on till the bitter end this week. Stayed in a good place mentally/spiritually/emotionally but there was that bit of me that just craved tucking-tail and hiding out for a couple days.

Gonna do pretty much exactly that this weekend, but I'd been planning since New Year's day to take this weekend as my stop-and-breathe mid-month reclusing break. As it works out, I need to behave myself and wait and see what comes down the pipes re repairs and such on Monday before I spend money. If the repairs are covered by warranty, then I can spend a few bucks. On the menu? A manicure, one month's membership at a martial arts gym in da hood, and a strip of fit tix for the gym. Yeah, say a little prayer for me that the manufacturer of my hearing aid seems to think a completely shattered shell falls under a receiver warranty. Ha. There's a chance, man. Like they told me today -- "No news is good news", so. Yay lil' ol' me. I think. Maybe. Fingers crossed.

Besides, it'll eat up a lot of my medical insurance that's supposed to last 2 years for aids, but it is covered, and I'll get every penny back, so, it's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen. Next week, though, we're not going to have bullshit like this. Things will Go Better. I know it!

And, in the meantime, there's wine. So... if you'll excuse me! Off I go. (Yeah, I'm in a great mood, considering how the gods have conspired against me this week. Weird. I like this! Not the wine, either... only had a glass so far.)


The tagline for the new Rambo movie on IMDB:

"Heroes never die. They just reload."

Is it wrong that I totally want to see it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Local Mystery Solved

Hey! I almost forgot! Yesterday I finally solved a neighbourhood mystery. :)

I face the back alley, my apartment that is. I see the "binners" ("Dumpster divers") come and go, and unlike some residents in the city, I've got no problem with it. They do what they do, and they seem like great people. We've had many of the same binners in the neighbourhood for a long time now. I never have big chats with them (but have chatted some), don't know their name, but always leave my bottles out for them so they don't need to go diving since a little pride must go a long way. I'll sit them politely next to the bin, usually in a bag, or if I see them in the alley, I'll walk over and give them to them and wish 'em well.

A couple of the guys I like so much because they often smile and they've got so much dignity in the way they move and act, that if I see 'em coming, I go out of my way to find and bring them stuff, whether it means running back upstairs or what. This year I'm going to find out their names. And maybe the story of one particular guy.

Anyhow, one particular binner, but I've never known who, is this interesting individual who, when digging through bins, might find things he disagrees with tossing out, but that he, for whatever reason, doesn't need at that time. Like, perhaps a lightly-wrinkled whole apple that had been discarded. Then, he takes it out, sits it on the side, or a matched pair of still-wearable sneakers, sometimes with a piece of tissue underneath it so you see it's "presented" like a gift, and there it stays until someone who possibly needs that thing comes along.

Yesterday I found out which binner it was. This young mid-30s Asian guy who's been around for years, with really, really long hair, who I sometimes see walking over the bridge, too. I've always liked this guy. He was such a different air about him, and I get the sense he's chosen his lifestyle and that's why he always seems so content, gracious, and smiley. It's nice to officially know he has as generous a nature as I thought he might. 

Funny what little bits of life fly under the average radar. And here, in my back alley, a whole binning subculture exists, and I bet 10% of us locals even know. But I do. :) My three favourites are this guy, then there's the old 70s Asian lady who's maybe 5'1 with creaming thick white hair, skinny as a flagpole, and hoists massive can-filled bags onto the bus or pushes carts that make her seem like she's about to get blown away by a sudden gust. There's the old late-60s Asian man who's always carrying very 1970s vinyl bags and doesn't seem to speak English but will bow several times any time I give him something and smile big with his crooked yellowing teeth. There's no anger in any of these people, just a quiet desperation to make ends meet but an air of assurance that what they're doing will make that happen. They remind me to be grateful, and I'm always glad to see that they're still around, still fighting. When times were their darkest 2006, $$wise, I always kept them in mind, thinking how they proved there was always something one could do to keep distance between them and the sidewalk.

Ah, neighbourhood mysteries. What neat stuff!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Primary Fun for Everyone!
(Uht-oh! She's politicking again.)

Well, I can't say I'm disappointed in the latest primaries down south. Yeah, I'm totally into this Obama message of change, but I've been a pretty big Hillary Clinton fan for a while now. In a perfect scenario, I'd like to see her leading the ticket with Obama her choice for running mate.

Part of it is that I think her records speak for themselves, and her passion for her deeds may be questioned by some, but I think it's pretty evident, and she's pretty straight-up, really, and a hell of a tactician, with good common sense in governing.

And part of it is that I think Obama has much to learn, and with the hard times I suspect stand ahead for the USA, I don't think he's leader enough to get the job done. Some say a recession of no compare lies in wait for the Yanks as the mortgage industry bends over and readies to take one and inflation digs in.

George Bush, clearly, was not leader enough, and look where that's gotten the country, eh? Paddle-less in a shit-filled creek.

And part of it is that I really don't think the USA's ready for it yet. The race divide is still too polarized. Like one old man said on the record for CNN, "He seems like such a nice young man. I just don't want to see him get shot", all matter-of-fact like. That beliefs like that still linger, that fears like that can still be spoken... well, yeah. I think race is still a problem, a big one.

And we got enough martyrs, thanks. VP for Obama works for me. Hope it works for Clinton, too. That'd be fucking wild. A woman and a black man on the same ticket. I think it's possible the country's ready for that, but only 'cos she's been to the dance as First Woman before. I don't think any other woman could do it, not yet. Wish I was wrong on that.


I know I wrote a really stoked posting about Obama when he smoked his first primary, but lemme clarify that. I think it's really, really exciting his message of change is getting met with such enthusiasm. It's time, man. I hope that continues. I hope the race is really, really tight for him and Clinton. I think the message of "we want change" needs to be heard loud and clear by the pundits and the pollsters and the other politicians. Maybe Obama's spouting rhetoric. That's not important. That the element is there and the drum of change is being banged loudly, that's what is of utmost importance. Having that makes the election kind of have to face that reality: People want change. The debate is open. Grab a beer and pull up a stool. Gots us some talkin' to do.

The American people have STUNNED me with their apathy towards the war, their silence on Sudan, their refusal to demand Bush be investigated for all his amazing faux pas. I mean, Katrina's gone from consciousness. It's madness. Hello? Accountability? Anyone? Anyone? Not in the good ol' USA! That they're finally putting their vote where their mouths are is a bit shocking to me, honestly, and I welcome it.

But the people of the USA needs to take its blinders off and see what a death knell their plummeting dollar is, combined with joblessness, subprime disasters, skyrocketing inflation, and defaulted loans left, right, and centre. They need to realize that this "most important country in the world" mantra we're always hearing really is, this time, true. They ARE the most important country, and that they're coming apart at the seams in such a horribly rapid way is terrifying to most of the rest of the world. It's the global equivalent of "Why, if it can happen to them, how's it not gonna happen to us?"

Americans need to elect someone serious, someone who's going to focus on the issues that really need solving and put age-old controveries like abortion on ice for a while, no matter how strong their religious swayings are (goes double for Romney).

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'Cause this is Thriller! Thriller night...

In my "why'd I fuckin' hafta do something dumb-ass like that" grumpiness this morning, the prison inmates at that jail in the Phillipines are really making me laugh. What an awesome job they did remaking Thriller! You seen this yet? Most popular video on Youtube, apparently. Read this great article in IHT about the guys.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oh, Monday, You're Such a Cliché

Hmm, let's see if I can do my day justice without having to embellish details.

Woke up at 6:30, still couldn't find the motivation to move a little quicker. Did yoga, it kicked my ass, but put me in a good headspace.

Which is good, considering.

I finally got my shit together and headed for the door around 10, and in gathering my goods for my travels via bus, discovered that there was no little green iPOD Mini anywhere. Yeah. Lost it somewhere yesterday. Great.

So, off to the bus I go. Which takes about 10 minutes longer than it should.

I get to work, start my show... which continued to be a challenging grind right to the bitter end.

Then I eventually left work and get confronted by a bone-chilling headwind ripping through the downtown core with continuous gusts upwards of 50-70 klicks an hour. And I walk my eight blocks and try to stand sheltered from the wind at the bus station, but it's tornadoing up the street with dust and leaves and trash blowing in not-so-concentric circles and hitting the body every which way, stinging my eyes with tears.

But the bus came within 10 minutes. Yay, bus.

And I get home and my windows have blown wide open, spitting the bitter chill inside (all day, too, it seems). I'm wearing a double layer of fleece and hope to feel my fingers again one day. C-C-C-C-Cohld. Br-r-r-r-rrrr.

But, you know what?

I've been in a pretty good mood all day, despite all this shit. Still am. The iPOD, well, that sucks, but, really, I've had it almost four years, man! It's a first generation. I'm amazed I haven't killed it or lost it. It's hit pavement and ceramic tiles and who knows what other crazy shit. The thing has done its duty.

Coulda fuckin' given me a warning, but it is what it is. :)

The hard-ass show, did my best and think I did great, so we'll see how that shakes down. Gonna be a long week, and today's certainly an indicator, but I'll sleep soundly, I'm sure.

And do not think I've failed to notice the coincidence of being in a great mood after a day like that, and doing yoga at the start of it. Methinks I mayhap do yoga again on the morrow, since I'm liable to have me a little paranoia before stepping out in the world.

It's 10:38 and 49 minutes ago I shattered my hearing aid. I'm not happy about this. My mood is highly questionable now, and I don't think yoga's gonna help me any. There is, however, a good chance my home insurance will get me a new hearing aid since it was an accident and all. Fingers fuckin' crossed. Otherwise, I might be a little screwed. God, I hope I sleep tonight.

My latest Facebook status: Steffani came, saw, and kicked yogic ass. Now for another stormy day on transit. Smelly people who drip. Fun!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Love Story About a Scooter

Whoo-hoo! My scooter could soon face the end of all its woes!

Had breakfast with Vespa-club types today, and I was talking about how sad my scooter is, and one of the bike geeks offered to give it a listen. Turns out I'm probably EXACTLY right about what's wrong: clogged injector on the carburator.

How exciting. Better yet? He's gonna take a look at my bike next weekend, and see what he can do to fix it. Even better yet? Dude's one of these hardcore hobbyists who not only fixes bikes for kicks, he's one of these rare guys who's trying to max his ride out and has taken it to Bonneville on the Utah Salt Flats to test the land-speed record with the official guys who vet all speed records.

Not like I'm looking to have my bike totally tweaked, but I definitely want my power back. The guy's not looking for much money for the work, either, which was going to set me back $185 elsewhere, and'll probably be a paltry $75 or so.

Oh, I cannot tell you how exciting this is. I've been wanting it done since August and was itching to get it resolved since about the beginning of November. First, my first choice for the repairs was a guy who had a scooter shop on the East Side then decided to close down at the end of the summer and was going to reopen later a little south of his then location. It's been five months now and apparently lawyers are entering the fray, etc. The shop languishes in limbo -- as do the bikes belonging to people that are behind locked doors now. Sordid stuff, really.

Mechanic option #2 was first out of the country for a few weeks, and now he, too, has closed up shop and is the in midst (still) of moving to a new location. He drives me insane, though, since he's one of these "must be GENUINE Yamaha parts" kind of guy who's so by-the-book that it limits his effectiveness and drives up costs for you, the consumer, when a cheaper, more versatile part might work (and won't take three weeks to ship overseas). A 2-stroke engine can take a lot of fudging, man. But he has no creativity when it comes to solving problems, and he's one of these Taiwanese scooter guys who's all about the performance, so god help you if you're one of these slacker Western riders who washes it when the inclination to do so hits, who repairs after the fact rather than doing preventative maintenance. Meaning, dude doesn't understand someone like me who rides a sticker-covered filthy dirty bike like mine and who repairs things with duct tape. Heh. I felt guilty every time I saw him.

So option the third will require a 40-minute ride on my putt-putt bike in the frigid climes of January, but he's pretty passionate about the bikes and I have a great feeling about this. And he's cheap, which rocks.

But it's so funny how different attitudes are re: scooters in a place like Taiwan, where they're high-performance toys people tend to obsess over, versus places like Cambodia or India where a scooter is an incredibly valuable resource and takes a daily beating, or here where you're either a high-maintenance owner for whatever reason or you're the opposite, someone like me who's made a lifestyle choice and is way over the whole "but it's so cute" love affair every scooter owner has for the first year or so.

I've put 40,000 kilometres on scooters. I assure you, I'm over it. Still, I fucking LOVE my scooter in all its cracked, scratched, hesitant, grumbling, stalling, but reliable glory. I. Fucking. Love. It. LOVE it.

And will weep with great sadness when it dies. But I'll ride that bitch right into its grave, baby. Bring it on!

Here's my relationship with my scooter in a nutshell. One of my friends from the scooter club owned it, and I just loved her bike the first time I saw it. I always liked the Vino better than the Jazz when I first saw them, despite owning a Jazz. She put it up for sale right around when I crashed (and totalled) my Jazz. I bought it about 2 weeks after I crashed the Jazz and nearly met my maker. My face was still bruised and blood-clotted, and I couldn't ride it for another three or four weeks, I think.

When I bought the bike, I didn't know how I was going to get over the fear of god I had just from looking at it. I almost died, man. Getting back on a bike? Fucking horrifying. I spent much of the first six months after my accident injured in one form or another, on crutches and shit, so there was very little riding that winter. I was terrified of turns, everything. Riding a bike's physical, you have to be able to lean into it, and I was so off physically for the first year or so, that I couldn't mechanically ride it as well as I could, which made me feel awkward and ungainly when riding. Getting over the fear of riding probably took a year. Ironically, the first night I remember thinking "Wow, it's been 14 months and I finally feel confident, graceful..." I got home and found my dad sitting at the front door of my apartment. My bro was in the hospital after having been hit by a Suburban while riding his scooter. He was in a coma five days and spent months recovering, mostly from the head injury.

So, the fear came back since it was the dead of winter, and winter riding's only for us purists. This last year has been where I've really come into my own and I'm now a confident rider who knows she can get out of most predicaments, and has faced (and beaten) some bad wobbles, ridden through every climate, carried ungodly amounts on the scooter... (Nothing like having it strapped with about six pots and pans, carrying two massive bags brimming on the floorboard between my knees, and a block of knives balancing on the top of THAT. Heh heh. Taking shit in for my cooking classes, and home at the end of the week, was just hilarious. The looks I was getting! Ha! But I've even taken a 6' long roll of bamboo blinds on there, too, and a huge toaster oven. It's fun!)

I dunno. The scooter's been huge in helping me conquer fears and inadequacies. It's been a huge part of my identity. I love my scooter and it's hard to explain all the reasons why -- from the convenience it affords when I roll it up on the sidewalk next to traffic-surrounded urban stores, or the fun it offers in the warm summer when cage-drivers are stuck in sweatboxes in 35 degree weather, the ease it gives me in getting around a city consumed with pre-Olympics construction on every fucking block for two years now with two years to go... It's the original "how do I love thee, let me count the ways" conundrum. Does my love for my scooter know bounds? Likely not. Like I say, I ride it year round, and sometimes it's awesome in the winter, too.

My boundless love has ceased of late. I have bounds. Oh, how I have bounds. Let me count the ways. I hate the sloth-like pace up hills that has me feeling like a victim waiting to happen, and the rugged, ragged chugging of its idle, the baffling way it spits and huffs as I cross the holy numbers of 34-38 kilometres and it finally finds some power, and how it slows and sputters and gives up against the slightest of hills... in a city of hills. I find myself half-dreading rides, and I dread the dread since I feel like I'm betraying a longtime love of mine.

And now that looks to be coming to an end any day now. And not only will it come to an end, but this guy claims he'll patiently teach me everything he's doing, so I'll learn a little about how to care for it. :) Again, for free! I'm gonna make him cookies, and pay him of course, but definitely cookies. Or maybe brownies, since my brownies are sublime. They ARE. (They have marshmallow cream!)

YAY. Requite my love, baby! Make it happen! Oh, Pussycat. All will soon be well again. Happy, happy Steff.

(I dubbed my scooter "Pussycat" a long time ago since it's too fun blurting, "Faster, Pussycat, faster!" when chugging uphill. The last one was "Lemon" since it was yellow and built for sluggishness. Yes, I do get verbal on the bike. It's half the fun.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Spicy Peanut Chicken Stirfry (Noodlebox Knock-off)

The Noodle Box is a very popular Victoria stirfry joint that has really caught on here in Vancouver after opening last fall. GayBoy was a big fan of the original as was a guy I went out with last year, so I decided to try it a couple of months ago on a total whim, even though most so-called Asian food strikes me as greasy and monosyllabic...

...And I loved it. It's not greasy, not too heavy, and pretty vibrant stuff. The spicy peanut they serve has me addicted, and I wanted to try recreating it at home because if THAT was what authentic, healthier Asian food was like, then I wanna be learning some of those tricks. So, this is my best attempt yet and I think I've done a very, very good knock-off here.

I made a huge batch of it so I can avoid cooking for a couple days, and because I'm at the end of my paycheque with four days to go. :) I think this'll serve at least 4. You'll need 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce from this recipe I posted recently. Yes, making your own makes all the difference. I tried making this recipe with commercial sauces and it sucked ass. So, I assure you. Make your own. Better yet, make mine!

So, inspired by the Noodle Box, here you go.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Stirfry

Marinade for the chicken:
1 stalk lemongrass, pale part only, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lime
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs chopped in bite-size pieces.

Combine all, then mash as best you can with mortar and pestle. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

In a large bowl, combine:
3 cups chopped baby bok choy (I used Shanghai)
3 cups bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions, chopped fine

In a small bowl, combine:
1/2 cup Spanish peanuts (with skins)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Also make sure you have your peanut sauce (1/2 cup at least) ready to go, and a bottle of hot sauce handy.

On a medium-high burner, get your wok nice and hot. Don't add any oil. Strain about half the marinade out of your chicken. When the wok's hot, throw your marinade and chicken in and start stirfrying.

When it looks about half cooked, strain most of the juices out (leave a bit) and throw your bowl of veggies in. Get everything mixed up, then cover and cook 3-4 minutes, until tender-crisp. Take off the lid, drizzle peanut sauce over the stirfry, a little salt, if you want hot sauce, now's your time to add it (I used a teaspoon or two), ADD SOME COCONUT MILK TILL IT'S SAUCY ENOUGH FOR YOU (forgot to put that in this recipe originally!) and toss everything well, then add the peanuts and cilantro, toss again, and serve.

I've got mine on a bed of shortgrain brown rice and it's terrific. So, enjoy! Lemme know whatcha think if you try it, 'specially if you've had the original! :)

Flick Check: Sweeny Todd

Saw Sweeney Todd with a friend tonight (thanks for the flick) and absolutely loved it. Missed out on a lot, though, thanks to always having trouble with a) lyrics and b) accents, and throw them both together and I'm bound to miss a bit. Still, fantastic stuff. Popcorn feast.

Two hours of musical is a lot to ask anyone to sit through (be honest, c'mon! there's only so much bursting-into-song I can handle) but this one just flew by. Some funny-as-hell stuff, too, and surprisingly Johnny Depp can sing. I think he takes a bit of influence from Nick Cave for a stanza or two in there, particularly in the opening number. Figgers though. He's probably somewhat a fan, knowing his tastes.

Then there's Tim Burton and the stunningly brilliant art direction in that movie, but praising the set, warddrobe, and art direction in a Tim Burton movie is like saying your favourite thing about the blue sky is that it's blue. I mean, duh, of course it looks brilliant and of course you love it... that's what Tim Burton's all about: art and quirks.

You know, I just found out that Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter are together. Why doesn't this surprise me? Talk about your perfect match. Anyhow, she's fucking awesome in this flick, and continues to prove just how dynamic and underused she is in film. (I mean, hell, in Fight Club she's awesome, isn't she? Big Fish? Yep. She's the female Johnny Depp, but lacks his charisma. [Doesn't everyone?] )

See it and be ready for over-the-top bloodletting Burton-style. I'd have liked a bit more on the story in the film, but maybe we'll get an extended version on the DVD, which I'm so buying.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's Avalanche Season, 'Cause that's Just How We Roll

It's late and I'll probably call it a night shortly, well earlier than I have in several nights, but I'm knackered. Man vs. Wild is on and the dude's in some crazy northern Scottish mountain range.

I didn't catch the map at the beginning, but it seems like the wild, wonderful landscape of northern Scotland's Cape Wrath described by Paul Theroux in The Kingdom by the Sea. (A place I've always wanted to see but ultimately suspect it'd smack largely of my home province, but on smaller scale. We gots mad mountains here, man. Mad, mad, mad. No wee island's mountains are gonna compete with ours. C'mon!)

Anyhow. He showed how to test the snow's susceptibility to avalanche, by digging 10 or more inches deep, carving out a 18" or so square shape (just carving the perimeter and leaving the square's inside intact) and then, it's complicated to describe, but you try pulling the square of snow horizontally towards yourself and if it shifts, it's vulnerable. How easily and far it shifts is indicative of its level of vulnerability. Doesn't shift, it's a stable snowpack.

Here in BC, though, is proof that what seems stable isn't always. Avalanche control and prediction is not an exact science.

BC's smack dab in the centre of what's shaping up to be our worst avalanche season ever. Avalanches are standard issue here in BC, where we're blessed with even alpine rainforests, meaning crazy snow seasons. With ever-warming climate, though, we're getting more mixed bags of weather. Weather change-ups really fuck with the snowpack, creating layers of varying densities, and with freezing temperatures thrown in the mix, sudden warming... Whew. Madness can occur.

Hell, we just had an avalanche on a groomed ski hill for the first time in two decades here. One fatality for sure, and I think an Aussie's still missing. Terrible stuff. Fucked up, for sure. But that's Mother Nature, as fickle as any woman could be.

And here's this wacky Aussie dude who loves to tango with the wild and walks out of one life-threatening scenario after another. Some kid pays good money for the safety of a groomed run and this avalanche-death shit happens. What an ironic world, huh?

I'm not saying the ski hill's liable. Maybe they are. Good chance it's just that fickle wench Nature, and the existential dice rolled with them guys' number coming up. I don't know. Certainly don't need an avalanche to die on a groomed ski hill, though. Just ask Sonny Bono. And the tree.

Some days, the remote control and the couch really do sound like a great notion, eh? Oh, great box of pretty moving pictures... [click-click]

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Poor Britney

I honestly feel sorry for the kid. She's having a complete meltdown and the cameras are there to catch it. Like no one's ever melted down before, like it's some spectator sport we're all privvy to.

And get this load of crap. Dr. Phil shows up when she's in the hospital and was going to film it all. What's he tell the hospital? He was there at the request of the family. A furor erupts and now he's not going to show the show after all. What's he tell his viewers? At the request of the family, he's not airing the show.

Seems like "at the request of the family" is a one-size-fits-all solution for nosy, irrepressible talkshow hosts. Dr. Fuckin' Phil needs a real job. Here's the CNN article on his antics.

As for Britney, isn't it time we just back the fuck off and let her deal? God knows if I'd had cameras following me around during the worst times of my life, I'd have been pretty photogenic too. 'course, I've never been THAT bad, but then again, if I had all the tabloids in the world saying what a loser I was, that probably would've helped jump me to whole new levels. Nothing like a little negative reinforcement to help you realize all your failings.

Poor kid. This keeps up, she's gonna kill herself and her death's gonna be on every single tabloid person who hounded her.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Clutter, BE GONE!

Yay! The great purge continues! WOW. My place is looking great! I might just start entertaining again. :) (I've adopted a great method for whether sentimental items should be kept: Is the first emotion I feel sadness? Then buhbye and thanks for playing.)

So, in the "wow, I haven't heard that before" news category is the BBC bitsy on the fact that compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and that if you break it, or even dispose of it, one needs to do so carefully. IE, never sweeping, but instead vacuuming. Lovely.

I just thought I should link to the story. File it under "good to know". Here you go, feed your brain.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ooh, the Election Year's Off and Running

Yay Obama! I'm trying not to get too hopeful on the Obama thing. I really, really want to see the USA go that route. That'd be amazing. Oh, my god.

But I got so depressed when fuckwit Bush won again. Betcha anything in hindsight he wishes he didn't, but whatever. He did, and I was crushed.

And I'm not certain America has advanced far enough to handle a black president. I mean, fuck, nooses are coming back en vogue in some parts. How advanced are the noose owners, huh, and how good are the spotting scopes on their rifles, anyway? Two words: confederate flags. A bonus word: everywhere.

I can't help but be a little paranoid. But if he could win, if he could lead, if America could really get behind that, if this alleged cry for change is genuine... wow. That'd be pretty fucking cool. I want to experience one summer of love when all the artists and musicians think the world has changed for the better because "the leader of the free world" is somebody who has dreams, not goals, who's a master orator and a big heart with a passion for global action. Oh. My. God. My generation has known: Nixon, Ford, Carter (yay), Reagan, Bush, Clinton (yay), and Bush. Not a whole lot of shining light there, man.

That'd be weird... Huckabee (a presidential candidate who didn't understand he was crossing a picket line last night to be on Leno... fucking twit. good luck with that) versus Obama? Whoa. And don't discount the mighty power of Oprah, either. Clinton, third? There's a kicker.

This is the first election year I'm pretty interested to see the campaign trail. Big changes ahead, either way. Ahhh. Not a fucking moment too soon. Hell, oil's a hundred bucks a barrel. All hell's breakin' lose, man. Alternative energy's gonna be a good topic. (Shitgas, anyone?) Hunter Thompson died too soon. He'd have really fucking enjoyed this campaign, man. He always wanted to see a Democratic politically brilliant dreamer in office. I think Obama might've fit the bill.

Books, Books, Books!

I'm about to shower and head to work soon, getting in a little later than I would normally, but it's been a couple late nights and my week is changing as a result, and I have a coffee to finish.

Last night I started making spaghetti sauce at 9:45 after writing for an hour or so upon my return from work. Naturally, I got to bed around 2.

New Year's day night was spent sifting through all my books and another 2am beddy-bye. It was worth it, though, looking at the order and beauty of my shelves now. I'm getting rid of anything that never made me think "I really should read that" or that I read and might've been good but didn't impact me on a cosmic or new-favourite kind of way.

So, my Hunter Thompson and Paul Theroux books, I'm keeping. Ditto any Cormac McCarthy, Wallace Stegner, Peter Matthiesen, Pat Barker, William Dalrymple, or Pico Iyer books. To name a few. Plus anything I've never read and know I should, or things I coveted when working at Duthie's Books because I knew it was a more temporary than contemporary book, a lesser-than in a literary world that never stands still long, but a book that might be very much worth the reading, regardless of when I'd get around to doing it. (IE: Books that should stand the test of time, but won't.)

I'm probably getting rid of a third of my books this week. I'm excited about getting rid of puffery books that cost me a pretty penny, like Jonathan Franzen's Corrections, which disappointed me in a huge way. Small matter of relevant plot missing in that book. How the fuck did it win anything? God. Writers should top being so impressed with witty coinage and spinning of wry phrases and maybe try conjuring a little fucking significance in plot, instead. Plot's kinda significant, don't you think, and shouldn't be so fleetingly present as it is in that fucking National Book Award Winner's book. How can something so long say so little?

But cleaning up brought me into contact with a few old books, one I need to finish that I got interrupted in, but was loving, years ago, Colum McCann's This Side of Brightness, which I'll save until spring, given it takes place largely under New York City and Vancouver's a little too dark as it is this winter, and another one I always intended to read but will begin today, Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, about the seedy battles between the Intuitionist elevator repairperson's guild and the Empiricist elevator repair guild. Heh heh. (One "intuits" what's wrong with elevators, the others check every winch and pulley.) The reviews do rave about it and I have an advance reader's copy with an uncracked spine.

There is a shocking amount of Booker Prize nominees in my stack. And then the elephants I could never get into, like DeLillo's Underworld, which I'm debating keeping because I feel small and ridiculous that I've failed to read it, and Jame Clavelle's Shogun and that other long-winded James, Michener's got a couple books in the stack. Roddy Doyle's on his way out along with another several contemporary Irish writers and their books, including the also much disappointing Dork of Cork, which sold out and sucked ass in the end.

It feels really fucking weird to be moving on from all my good books. I always wanted a big library, but with the real estate market as it is in Vancouver, I'm committing to the idea of living in my cute pad for a very long time. I know a couple former tenants lived here 15, 20 years. It's that kind of building, and my apartment's a charmer... but I only have so much space, and the books are making me feel a little too trapped, and it's either I save my books for a library I might never have the space to enjoy, or I move on.

I'll be all sad and happy at the same time when they're gone. I'm having anxiety attacks (not really) about getting rid of these things, too. But having space, even white space, to look at? Priceless.

I've read a half-dozen books this season. That's the most in years. Far cry from the old book-a-week days, but I'm pretty pleased to be considering myself a reader again these days. I'll read more as time passes, too, but for now, it's a good start.

Anyhow. Off I go to delve into the sordid world of elevator repairs.

New, Improved, and Powered by Shit!

A Rwandan prison won the Ashden Award for sustainable energy.

They're using human feces --poop--excrement--le doo-doo-- to power the prison. The crap is converted into methane, or the more trendily titled "biogas", which has reduced their carbon footprint something fierce while reducing the amount of woodfuel consumed by the prison.

And puts shit to good use, which is good, since shit's the benchmark for what constitutes "shitty".

Shitty is the new good, I hear.

And what better country to find a way to make use of the shit from their shittiest citizens as a fuel for their own prison but Rwanda, where the majority of those presently imprisoned were culprits in the-- oh, sorry, murdering, genociding bastards ...from the bad old days in the '90s when machetes and massacres were the order of the day.

Lemons, meet lemonade. Enter bold new energy source: shit.

Now, if only it could power our cars... then OPEC could go to hell. Who ever thought anyone but the constipated would pray for shit, huh?

I just LOVE living in 2008. The news just gets weirder all the time. Go Rwanda, go. 

Oh, and the article was in WIRED.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Why, What Is This Pile I See Before Me?

I should be doing yoga but I can't muster the energy and instead I'll stretch, eat breakfast, and head into work, where I know exactly what's awaiting me and I could be happier about it, but hey!

Yesterday I had written my Die Hard bit when GayBoy showed up. Just before he arrived, I got all motivated and started taking down my Christmas tree. He Who is Taller Than Me put my boxes into the storage unit, and he began marvelling how big my in-suite storage is, and how, if I wanted to, I could gut the room and turn it into a pantry.

So, I commented "Well, I'd need someone objective to help me throw my shit away..." and next thing you know, we're taking three trips of crap down the four flights of stairs to be "disappeared"* in the alley.

After GayBoy left, I began looking at my bookshelf... and four or so hours later, I had amassed a teetering pile of things to hawk, disappear, or donate. Selling the books looks lucrative. And this time, I AM selling them. I always give my shit away, well, fuck that. The $50 or $100 I deserve for books of this calibre will be nice to spend for a change.

And I'm not done. I want to do one more pass on the bookshelves, and DVDs, and then I need to go through a few more piles. Then my bedroom will need doing, plus some more gutting in the storage until. In a couple of weeks, life will be entirely uncluttered. Wow. Exciting! :)

My goal? To reduce my possessions by 20-30%. Clutter SUCKS. We're moving on, kids. My life (ie: my past) is NOT my things, right? Right. Right!

*Disappearing: In the age of recycling and "one man's trash is another man's...", to "disappear" something means to put it BESIDE the dumpster, not in it, in case someone wants to take it home. Some of the paint and most of the kitchen goods have been snatched already from my "disappeared" pile. We'll see what else goes soon. If people will take stained mattresses, my god, you never know what they'll take! We don't need less waste... we need more packrats!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Movies! Live Free or Die Hard minireview.

Tee hee. And the slack continues. Today's lack of ambition and ridiculous nothingness is brought to you in part by...

Live Free or Die Hard!

Enter the most ridiculous of the movies, but also the best one next to the original, methinks. Die Hard, the classic that began the series, is still one of the best action movies ever made. Smart cops and smarter criminals. Showdown at Nakatomi Plaza! Just call me Roy. Yippee-kay-yay, motherfucker.

This one follows suit, using someone I think is way underused in Hollywood, Timothy Olyphant to play the narcissistic cyberterrorist bad dude. He rocks. Going grey now, and how sexy is that on a hot young thing? And McClane's still the original bad-ass, but the one review I agreed with was that, in the original, McClane's limping around with a bloodied foot all cut to hell by a floor full of glass, and in this movie he's bloodied but invincible. (His sidedkick, Justin Long, is quite overdue for his shot in the movies. He stole the series Ed several years ago, and finally got his claim to fame in commercials as the laidback "Mac guy". Does a terrific job in this flick.)

The special effects and shit in this movie are just ridiculous. I mean, this movie seriously needed more "Do you think that's over the top?" round-table meetings, dude. Half the action sequences you just know the guys were sitting around with a bong, just saying "Yeah, but, like, dude, get this -- what if we have a jet plane trying to take out a rig on the highway, and, like, fuckin' McClane's driving the thing, and, DUDE, this could be so extreme, but what if--"

I mean, the shit with the helicopter, the jet plane, the semi trailer, and, oh my god, the elevator shaft? Like what part of plausibility applies to any of these things?

But... who gives a fuck?

This movie's a perfect example to what happens when you answer the proverbial question of "Why?" with "Because I can."

Why blow up a helicopter by hitting it with a car? Because they can. Why do that shit with the jet plane chasing the rig? Because they can. Why have a game of tug-of-war with a car suspended in an elevator shaft? Because they can.

Why put it all together in one ridiculous reality-suspending implausible romp of a movie?

Because they could. So they did.

And as stupid, implausible, ridiculous, and over the top as this movie is...

...I love it. I fuckin' LOVE it.

Tee hee! And there's 52 minutes left. (Saw it in the theatres -- died laughing.) Oh, and happy new year. :) Go, McClane, go!