Monday, December 28, 2009

Year of the Turd

I nominate 2009 the year of the turd. For me personally, this year has been fecal from start to finish.

  • Really blew out my back in January and had to fight to get an MRI,

  • nearly bled to death in June right before my birthday,

  • got a stress fracture in my foot apparently from just walking down the street,

  • had a second (or fifth?) bad back episode in May,

  • a surreal heatwave partially melted my building's roof,

  • had a creepy, damaging visit from an un-welcome relative,

  • had scary (albeit successful) surgery in October,

  • and then worked for these Conservitards on a seasonal Xmas job,

  • and through it all I was chronically un- or under-employed all the way.




Now if I just had some cat litter sprinkles to go on top. Bon voyage 2009, it's time to flush the toilet on this crap year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Days like these ...

... I especially miss being in Oz. Why right now it's probably 87 F in Sydney and I could be engaging in croc dangling.

Cage of Death designed to thrill, not kill


Crocosaurus cove

The Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove is a popular tourist attraction / AAP



(And fuck you, Rupert Murdock, I'm pinching one of your slave's pics.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Smug Marrieds?

The above is from Bridget Jone's Diary where the author Helen Fielding called her married friends Smug Marrieds because, ummm, well they are. Or they tend to be.

I ran into this phenom yesterday at my final writing class meeting at Hugo House. We read a short, short story by S.L. Wisenberg called Brunch. It was humorous and sardonic and originally ran in the New Yorker.

Anyhoo, afterward, everybody (all the Smug Marrieds in the room) were moaning about how 'bitter sweet' and 'lonely' the story was. Hello? I'm sorry. Was your day of Sesame Street-promoted sunshine canceled? Or as the hipster druggie across my hallway would say: "Welcome to America."

Yup, some of us go through life experiencing multiple relationships at different times that start and end for all sorts of reasons, not all of them logical or even our fault. Woe unto us the risque, the (dangerously?) adventurous, the sexually experienced. What un-ending horrors our lives must be! (or is it whores?)

I loved what cynical old Hanif Kureishi said about this: "... people marry when they're at their most desperate, that the need for a certificate is a sure sign of an attenuated affection."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Chance of Frogs

Just remembering what a mind-blowing film this was when I first saw it. And now, 10 years later, I'm lucky enough to own it on DVD.



On the 'Making of', Paul Thomas Anderson looks like he's about 18 years old.

On my All-Time, Top 10 Movies List.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The membrane of perpetual stupidity

I'm okay with fundamentalist Muslims that want to live in the 7th Century. Really, it's okay. It's a free planet -- issue fatwas, kill school teachers, beat women for walking unattended down the street -- you Muslims party like it's 780 A.D.!

But when modern American males starts believing a ridiculous myth (thanks, abstinence education!), I must don my feminist cape and do something.

Listen up, boys and girls. The hymen. The so-called proof of a young girl's virginity? It doesn't really exist. Yup, there is no penis-proof membrane of pink tissue guarding the entrance to a teenager's vagina. Isolating and pointing out a hymen at the entrance to an organ that is a mass of folds, lips and membranes is like pointing out one damn pedal on a big clunky flower. And technically, that's not her vagina, it's just her vulva. The vagina is an internal canal, like the colon, and can only be seen with a speculum and a light.



And if a girl is in the unlucky, tiny minority and has a complete hymen, guess what happens when she's 11 to 14 years old and Aunt Flo starts visiting? She will have to have that pesky hymen lanced by an MD or she will suffer a build up of menstrual fluid, become very sick and probably DIE.

Why the fuck would anyone wish this deformity on their girl child?

I had a hippie neighbor when I was a teen growing up in Nevada. Said hippie neighbor loaned me an awesome book. It was called Our Bodies, Our Selves and it calmly explained there are different kinds of hymens and about a third of girls don't have a hymen at all. (We can only wonder how many dead teens there are in fundamentalist Muslim countries thanks to complete ignorance of this simple medical fact.)

As a teenager, my experience with this little flap of tissue was pure annoyance. The first time, I had no pain, barely bled and was super bored because the dude was a lousy lay. The second time, I bled again and was anything but bored. I was happy my hymen had receded never to be heard from again. Amen and pass the condoms.

The hippie neighbor told me she went through years of uncomfortable sex with her troll of a husband until she finally had her first kid. Then the pain was gone and she finally got to half-way enjoy herself. Again, why in the entire fucking world would anyone want to go through painful sex?

For the odd caveman out there (I'm assuming they read) who's scratching his brow and wondering about his pleasure via tightness, may I suggest a sex doll with a permanent hymen or a Fleshlight. Because if/when you're fucking an actual virgin, she likely will be as stiff as a board -- possibly from mild pain -- but mostly scared thanks to all the mental baggage attached to the mythical First Time. You know, as stiff and lifeless as a sex doll.

Here's a few FAQs:

1. Can using tampons remove or destroy a girl's hymen? Yes and no. Depends on whether or not she has one. See the above.

2. Will using a vibrator or dildo break a girl's hymen? An external vibrator? No. A dildo? Yeah, probably. And good riddance if you ask me. The person best suited to popping a girl's cherry is the owner.

3. Can falling on the top bar of a bicycle or riding a horse cause a girl to lose her hymen?
I've seen this myth perpetuated on TV shows and I've yet to meet a OB/GYN who will say 'yes' to this one, so I'm saying 'no'. Unless the bike or the horse's saddle is fitted with an upright dildo, I don't see HOW this could happen. More likely, if a girl falls onto the top bar of a bike, it will cause bruising and bleeding of the vulva, the lips that form the outer most part of the vagina.

4. Can an MD or gynecologist tell whether a girl is a virgin just by examining her and looking for a hymen? No!!! In fact, when female children are molested or raped, doctors look for other signs of penetration such as scraping or bruising along the vaginal canal. The absence of a hymen is not conclusive proof of sexual assault in court.

Now, everyone please follow me, the 21st century is right up here on our left.

Uh, you have to actually leave The Past to see it. It's the up-coming part of human history that comes with space ships, genetic research, drastically improved public health, a shocking lack of superstition and little or no interest in useless flaps of genital tissue.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cry for the rapist?



When I was in elementary school, the Manson Family was always in the news in California.

A few years after Sharon Tate was murdered, insult was added to injury of the collective California psyche when Roman Polanski was charged with rape.

In true southern California style, Polanski was viewed as this flamboyant, big shot Hollywood director and the judge who tried his case was seen as a 'square' (Conservative) who clearly had an ax to grind with the decadent Hollywood scene.

Polanski's lawyers, and apparently the man himself, had no qualms about playing the Jew card. Polanski, like many European immigrants of his generation, is a survivor of the Holocaust. Apparently a year in hell absolves one of later devilish behavior. Too bad nobody explained this to Khmer Rouge survivor and Oscar winner, Haing Ngor, so he could run out and rob some banks or liquor stores before his murder in 1996.

Of course, everything surrounding the Polanski case -- including the (now deceased) judge's very unprofessional bias -- is yesterday's news. Even the rape victim, Samantha Geimer, now a woman my age, wants the whole thing to go away. (She's been paid shut-up money and was given a 'formal' apology by Polanski years ago).

There's been a lot of talk about preferential treatment of celebrities like Polanski. But what about preferential treatment because of race and the class status incurred by fame, not just celebrity?

Imagine if Polanski were an African immigrant from Rwanda, a Tutsi man who survived the genocide of 1994. Now imagine this African rising to some prominence for his inventive, yet mainstream films in Hollywood. Now imagine this black filmmaker one night lounging in the hot tub of his mansion overlooking Sunset Blvd. Imagine this black filmmaker drugging and sodomizing a 13-year-old child. Now imagine the child is a boy.

Still want to dismiss Polanski's criminal charges?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dick Lit

I've been in a sci-fi writer's group for over a year and garnered some awesome friends who are eagle-eyed readers, thoughtful critics and open-minded ... normal folk.

Awhile back, I had to temporarily run the writer's group by myself. It was fun at first but after a couple of less-than-great meetings, I started to feel psychically drained.

There's something about the genre of science fiction, aka speculative fiction, which seems to bring a specific type of crazy out enforce. They're almost always white and male and anywhere from Baby Boomer old to Millennial twentysomething.



At the meetings, a predictable scene plays out. A guy (usually wearing mis-matched fleece and khakis) shows up with a slightly creepy smile on his face clutching some tome he has self-published. He'll eagerly tell everyone he spent $5,000 getting it published (an amount equal to a nice used car).

I've yet to see one of these self-published novels that looked good enough that I'd actually pick it up in a bookstore. Usually the cover is glossy, the paperback is over sized and there's some lurid color scheme surrounding a title that over uses all the words they tell you to never use like: space, death, god, stars, love or alien.

Mr. Self Published has brought it to show everybody he's serious about this writing thing, it's not just a hobby! Depending upon his level of crazy, the guy will either tell us the basic plot ("it's about a guy who travels thru time with the help of aliens to rescue the space program from mind-reading CIA agents disguised as runway models"). Or if he's really nuts, he'll smile coyly and tell you it can't be summed up, you must read the entire 750-page doorstop.

During the meetings, we bounce around the room doing an impromptu meet-n-greet where everybody will give their first name, mention what they're reading and what they're working on. Usually Mr. Self Published will interrupt with snarky remarks so the whole process takes twice as long as normal.

About 30 minutes in, maybe while we're talking about "World War Z", Harry Harrison or the next comicon, Mr. Self Published will pick a fight. He'll snicker loudly at the meek college girl who says she loves Terry Brooks and is writing her own fantasy story. Or someone will say something about Ursula LeGuin and he'll pipe in with "Oh, the feminazi ... I mean feminist writer".

Or if he's like the winner I dealt with, he'll take the discussion of post-apocalyptic sci-fi (something both Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy have dabbled in) to interject his theory on human extinction and why using nuclear weapons in the Middle East is a cool idea! The fur will start to fly and then Mr. Self Published will gloat, safe in his delusion of superiority, 'cos ya know, he already wrote a book predicting all this.

These freaks like to attack women authors, even roaring successes like Joanne Rowling.

I have yet to meet one of these trolls who did not use the slur chick lit; which is applied to any novel, play, script or short story ever published by a writer with a vagina. Don't expect Mr. Self Published to actually have read anything by a female author. He's way too busy and women authors just don't interest him! (This includes everyone from Joan Didion to Virginia Woolf). Mr. Self Published and his ilk are the reason why women's literature programs were invented.

I've coined a new phrase for this group of socially stunted bigots. (DISCLAIMER: as usual this applies only to some men, not all 4 billion of you.)

Dick Lit.

I define it as sci-fi or speculative fiction that has several specific elements.

Dick lit must adhere to the uber-geek norms for science fiction already set down by their favorite homophobic, misogynistic authors. It must have a machine, it must involve the hard sciences and it must involve space in some way like the launching of a futuristic space ship (think: erection).

Dick lit must have an average-looking male protagonist who is deeply misunderstood by everyone around him. A hero who everyone has failed to recognize as a genius (every cardboard character Michael Crichton ever invented).

Dick lit must have a female character (nothing but dudes would be gay), possibly extra terrestrial or part cat, who is overtly feminine and exotically beautiful in a sort of dominatrix way but who, weirdly, recognizes the genius in the story's hero and either strives to help him in an appropriately subservient fashion or, works against him since all girls are duplicitous.

At some point in the story, the female character, despite her extraterrestrial-ness or over-powering wiles, will get stuck, lost, arrested, kidnapped, gagged, brain sucked, encased in dry ice or put into a chemically-induced coma. Then, surprise, the misunderstood genius hero will come to her rescue. This will happen because from birth, we are all read stories and taught that women are people whom things happen to and men are people who do things.

Dick lit has to have action because stories where people just sit around and talk are lame, like most books women authors write. Those are just people sitting around and talking, right?

Dick lit can have sex scenes as long as they’re non-sentimental and brief, because damn it, the hero has work to do! He can’t be bangin’ intergalactic babes all day like Capt. Kirk. And there should be some weird distancing aspect to these sex scenes like sex with zombies or sex with She-Rah the raging lesbian from planet nine so if the hero has to break things off with her, it’s okay because he’s not emotionally attached, it was just random humping like on that video game, Grand Theft Auto.

Finally, the hero has either some sort of special power or a special machine for kicking ass (think: getting back at anyone who picked on the author in school).

I strongly urge every female reader and author out there to start using this cool new pop culture term at any given opportunity. Like if your boyfriend starts rambling about Peter Parker’s special powers in Spiderman, interrupt him by saying “Oh, you mean like dick lit!” Or if he begins to rant about how they got the warp drive configuration in the new Star Trek flick wrong, say: “Dude, that’s such a dick lit thing to say!”

Dodgy London

I went to the UK for the first time in December 2003. I spent my first week "abroad" holed up in Friend One's house down in Somerset; rural, southwest England. He graciously drove me and a couple of others to see the sites -- Glastonbury, Bath, Dorset.

In the second week of January, Friend One drove me (and another holiday visitor) up to London. I then stayed with Friend Two at his tiny flat in east London, in one of poorer parts of Essex.

Ilford's main features were a giant 12-story heroin rehab facility two blocks from the "town centre" overlooking the rail station and a sea of curry shops and convenience stores predominately owned by Pakistani or Indian first-generation immigrants.

A day after I got to Ilford, the Ricin Scare happened. I perched on Friend Two's sofa, watched Sky News, cleaned his apartment and nursed an appallingly bad flu cold before I started venturing into central London via the train. (I kept a death grip on Friend Two's digital camera the whole time I walked miles in the artic weather taking pictures of everything because I didn't really have any money to do anything else.) I heard stories about the crime rate in the UK having increased 300% in the last decade and saw some crazy take downs of perps by meaty, humorless Met officers ... and they do carry guns.

Now the criminal hazards of life in London have popped up again, in a very glamorous way with a jewelry heist. Just so happens one of the suspects was apprehended at a house in Ilford.



And the jewelry robbery itself happened not too far from where I had to go to get my plane ticket changed at a BA office on Oxford Street.

Weird.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I see your un-read novels list, and I raise you!

Supposedly, the BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions: Copy this. Look at the list and put an 'X' after those you have read. Tag other book nerds.


1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - (saw the flick)
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - X
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - No
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - No
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - X
6. The Bible - X (NAS)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - No
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell - No
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - X (read in 2002 and remember almost nothing)
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - X
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - No
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy - No
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - No
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare - X (the high school standards: Julius Cesar, Hamlet, Romeo-n-Juliet (the censored version)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - No
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - X (junior high)
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk - No
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - X (multiple times, was on Elko County H.S.'s banned list)
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - No
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot - No
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell - No
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - X (but I don't remember much)
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens - No, but read parts of Oliver Twist and Christmas Carol
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - No
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - No, started to, lost interest
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - No
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - X (again, don't remember much)
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - No
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - X (loved this when I was 12)
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - No
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - parts of it
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - X (over and over again from age 11 to 16)
34. Emma - Jane Austen - No
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen - No
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - X (yes, yes!)
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - No
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres - No
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - No (dominant paradigm sexual fantasies put me to sleep)
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne - X
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell - X (another one I barely remember)
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - No
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - No
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving - No, but I read "The World According to Garp" and started "A Widow for One Year"
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - No
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - No, but I remember my mom reading me this
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy - No
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood - X, yes, YES!
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding - X, Golding was one of my favorite, also read two other books of his
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan - No
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel - No
52. Dune - Frank Herbert - X, two or three times
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons - No
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - No
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth - No
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon - No
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - No
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - X, another I barely remember
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon - No
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - No
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - X
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov - No, but I saw the more recent movie and really liked it
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt - No
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - No
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - No
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac - X, YES!
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy - No
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding - X, and I read "Edge of Reason" and laughed till I peed
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie - X, yes, love Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville - No
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens - X
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker - No, but I've read like every other single vamp story out there
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - No
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson - X, YES! And his other books
75. Ulysses - James Joyce - No
76. The Inferno - Dante - No, but parts of it
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome - No
78. Germinal - Emile Zola - No
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray - No
80. Possession - AS Byatt - No, but I own the DVD and have read one of her other books
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - X
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell - No
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker - No, but I read FIVE of her other books
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro - No
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - No
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry - No
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White - X, but don't remember it
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - No
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - No
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton - No
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad - No, but have read parts/excerpts
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint - Exupery - X, but I don't remember it
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks - No but I've read one of this others
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams - X, in fact just re-read it for the sixth time this Xmas
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole - No, but I really should
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute - No
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas - No
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare - X
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - No
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - No

Actually read: 29 ... I'm gonna say 28 1/2 just because

On my list and in the house: Hardly any of them. I'm a creative minimalist ... plus I took a painful trip to the used book store in May and unloaded almost two full boxes of paperback and hard bounds I'd been hauling around since before college.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Muscadine

I started reading this old historical fiction novel the other night that I've been hauling around for years. I became a fan of the author in my twenties and have read most of his stuff, though my memories of specific plot details are real hazy.

Anyhoo, I was just gonna flip through this 1988 paperback and then toss it on the Get Rid Of pile but, damnit, the author keeps surprising me. He does things with adjectives I don't know how to do. I'm envious.

I came across one phrase the other night that blew me away:
... they fled into the muscadine shadows.

And another: ... the darkness emerald with waking dreams.

There's more: ... the yard swirled with children and ... he took it for its earthing power.

I'm having trouble deciding whether you can commandeer nouns like 'emerald' and force them into adjective work. Is it grammatically correct?

I don't care. I think I'll keep (re-)reading.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Best memoir about adolescence and racism EVER!

I grabbed a copy of "Jesus Land: A Memoir" on Friday out of a one dollar bin at a bookstore. I just finished it tonight.

I seem to always be just behind the curve of cultural phenomenons, and vaguely remember reading a review of this book in 2005 when it hit the literature circuit and Julia Scheeres' searing novel started picking up awards right and left.



"Jesus Land" is Julia's recollection of her childhood and adolescents growing up in a family run by fanatically strict fundamentalist Christian parents. But really it's about her adopted brother, David, who was African American and brought home by the author's parents when he was three where he became, in her words, 'my twin.'

Gentle, nerdy David's encounters with violent bigots become Julia's and the racism starts early. Part way through the book, Julia recounts the first time white kids try and beat them up ... they are just 8 years old.

In their teens, their parents relocate to rural Indiana, the upper domain of the Bible Belt where the locals treat David, and Julia by association, with anything but Christian kindness.

When Julia's other adopted brother, Jerome (the opposite of David in every way except his skin color), gets sent to prison, their parents ship David and then Julia to a fundamentalist Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic to "turn them around".

Julia Scheeres' description of life in Escuela Caribe doesn't read like a typical teen's recollection of boarding school or even a stint in juvenile detention. It's more like a Vietnamese POW camp. There's sleep deprivation, beatings, endless psychological torture and even typhoid.

If you only read one non-fiction book all this year, read this one.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Unsafe at any speed

My uterus tried to kill me on Tuesday. This attempt on my life by an internal organ came just before my 44th birthday.

I have no idea WHY my uterus tried to do this, she's always been a fairly quiet, taciturn gal unlike my ovaries who spent a good chunk of my twenties psychically screaming at me and offering up grapefruit-sized cysts like some weird threat. Get pregnant now bitch, or your lower intestinal tract gets it!

Visiting the ER just prior to your birthday means that every pasty, gray-green LPN/RN/NP/PA you meet, stops mid-monotone medical questioning and suddenly says "Oh, happy birthday!" Like they're really thrilled you dropped in to see them (a complete stranger) while they were working in the ER (a tense, dirty, despairing place that makes Greyhound bus stations seem hopeful and clean).

There's this weird assumption some men make about having a woman's body. It's assumed we know what we're doing, like we orchestrate and schedule things like morning sickness, endometriosis and breast cancer. Like maybe I just penciled in the word "hemorrhage" under Tuesday, June 30th on my wall calendar. As if I have some sort of communication and/or bargaining power with the complicated plumbing that makes up my sex organs. Note to my ovaries: Okay girls, no cramps before the end of the month or I take away all the chocolate.

The reality is when it comes to having a woman's body? Fellas, we have no fucking clue how to drive this thing. Communicating with our bodies is like giving directions to a 13-yr-old Brazilian cab driver in English. No comprende.

We women, hopefully, have a sort of body awareness. We get a feel for when things are going to happen, like puffing up like a water balloon means Aunt Flo's on her way or whatever. But it's not like my vag talks to me or something. It doesn't tell me what it's going to do.



My sex organ is like a brainless, flighty 2-yr-old Thoroughbred filly who flits around a pasture bolting away from every butterfly or bee that drifts past the end of her nose. She's unsafe at any speed and with any rider. My ovaries and uterus are like the Chevy Covair of the vital organ world. Seriously, Ralph Nader should publish a study on my vag and all the near collisions it's almost caused.

So right now, I'm doing what every woman on earth who lives any where near modern medical facilities does: I'm waiting. I had an ultrasound on Wednesday, right after the Tuesday High Drama in the ER but I have to wait.

I hate to wait.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Paranoid, Neurotic, Psycho Feline

... seeks similar in human owner.



Enjoys sleeping 22 hours a day, hiding, cringing, randomly freaking out, kicking cat litter across the room and climbing on kitchen counters when no one is home.



Hates sunlight, cuddling, petting, loud noises, other life forms, expensive cat toys, catnip (what IS that stuff?), normal cat food, chicken, being observed and refrigerator motors.

Email foster cat mom for more info.

(sigh) When can I take her back to the SPCA?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The "Easy Button" Circle Jerk

After months of stir craziness, I'm about to take the first minimum wage job that comes along. Yesterday I went to Staples' job site. What a pain in my ass some of these HR sites are. An HOUR minimum to complete their form pages?

So the first mine in the turd field was this credit check disclosure statement (this is for a minimum-wage job stocking printer paper and holding up a wall):

This application contains a number of disclosures and consent forms which usually are provided in written form. I understand that I have the right to receive such disclosures and give my consent or authorization on paper instead of electronically. If I do consent (blah, blah, blah) applies only to the electronic transactions related to this job application, and that I can access the electronic records by contacting Unicru. I further understand that I may request a paper copy of any consent or authorization I give electronically. I may receive such paper copies at no cost within the next 60 days by contacting Unicru at 1-800-338-6321 or visiting www.unicru.com for contact information.

Translation: We're going to ask for a lot of unnecessarily personal information and then we're going to get this fly-by-night outfit, Unicru, to snoop around in your credit rating. Don't sue us.


(Actually, I've read the FCRA and I don't remember the plot line going quite this way)

Fair Credit Reporting Act
I understand that a background check (Consumer Report) may be obtained for employment purposes only at Staples.
Staples may make inquiries to Sterling Testing Systems, Inc., a Consumer Reporting Agency, concerning your employment suitability and qualification. You may contact Sterling Testing Systems, Inc.: 800.899.2272 or Find contact information on Sterling Testing Systems, Inc. using any computer connected with the World Wide Web at: http://www.sterlingtesting.com. [Please do not contact Sterling Testing Systems, Inc. for the status of your employment application. Sterling Testing Systems, Inc. does not have access to this information and will not be able to respond to your request.] [Please do not contact Unicru for results of the background check. Unicru does not have access to the report and will not be able to respond to your request. Sterling will provide you with a copy of your consumer report upon written request.] Staples may verify all or part of the information I give Staples. (Translation: we probably won't even read your application). I hereby authorize Staples to procure a consumer report and, to the extent permitted by law, make any inquiry into my credit history, motor vehicle driving record, criminal and civil records, prior employment (including contacting prior employers), education as well as other public record information.


If any of you, like me are tired of this corporate home invasion crap, feel free to call the number above and tell these people that they're violating both federal labor and credit law.

But wait, it gets better. In the Employment History of this form page which is longer than a tape worm's rectum, they give only these options for why you are no longer with your last employer:

* Why did you leave this employer? (check all that apply)
  • Accepted a job somewhere else
  • Returned to school
  • Moved to a new location
  • Did not like the work
  • Dissatisfaction with my supervisor
  • Unhappy with my pay and/or benefits
  • Terminated due to attendance
  • Terminated due to poor performance
  • Terminated for not following policies
  • Terminated due to economic downsizing or store closure
  • Lack of steady work/not enough hours
  • Had conflicts with the work schedule
  • Lack of advancement opportunities
  • Wanted a job that better suited my abilities
  • Did not get along with coworkers
  • Unhappy with company policies or rules
  • Seasonal job
  • I am still working for this employer

Translation: Hey Fuck Up, how'd you lose your last job?

When you file for state unemployment insurance, they offer only three possible reasons:
1) Laid off due to lack of work,
2) Fired/terminated for reason and
3) Voluntarily quit.

Apparently three simple answers is just not good enough for ol' Staples!

Then the real fun begins. A 36-page psych test to determine whether or not you're going to be 5 bucks short on your till. And then companies like this one or FedExKinkos and Mall-Wart scratch their bloated corporate heads and wonder why they have such high turn over and why it's costing them so much annually to go through the laborious process of hiring people?

Maybe, Mr. Corporation, if you didn't start by treating prospective employees like they were felons ...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Forgive Student Loan Debt

Robert Applebaum and Kevin Bartoy are better than super heroes. They're ordinary people who are questioning WHY in the fuck former college students should be straddled with unbearable debt FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES?!

How does crippling debt and non-existent credit = healthy free-market capitalism???

How are we supposed to be good little mindless consumers and help drive the ponderous engine of the Western World forward when we can't even afford the cheap plastic crap at Mall-Wart?

What I've been wondering for the last half dozen years is, what's next?



Will debtor's prisons make a come back ala Charles Dickens?

Or will we just have privatized corporate prisons where everybody gets let out for the day to go work and then comes home to lock down?

Forgive Student Loan Debt.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Trekkin'

I went and saw "Star Trek" yesterday. I got to the downtown megaplex waaay too early, so bought my ticket and then had to wander and look at all the stuff I couldn't afford and didn't really need.



Anyhoo, the flick was pretty good. Abrams has a knack for gathering casts that have a fair amount of synergy. Zachary Quinto was delish as the new Spock and Chris Pine was surprisingly good stepping into the Spandex of Bill-the-Pregnant-Pause-Shatner. At one point, the actors were doing such a good job feeling out the whole Spock/Kirk bromance I thought they were gonna kiss, like with tongue and everything. Ah well, hopefully in the next installment.

My only complaint: Abrams used the now industry-standard, rapid fire editing. You barely have time to process one scene and the camera is lurching off to show us the next explosion or flying debris, whatever. I know it's the norm now, but I still don't like it.

Ursula Le Guin is right: we're now substituting violence for drama.

B+

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fuckidol

Yesterday, after an un-enthused two hours at the gym (lung infection kicking my ass) I hiked over to Whole Paycheck Market for some bagels and soy milk. In the process of hiking the 1.2 miles to the store I lost my prescription eyeglasses out of my pocket (had the prescip sunglasses on at the time). I spent yesterday late afternoon stomping through rush hour up and down Denny Way in search of my specks to no avail.



What's weird is, while I was walking to the store, some gimpy homeless crazy started following me. In Seattle we are ass-deep in homeless crazies so I'm used to it. But at one point the guy sorta dogged me for two blocks muttering loudly to (I thought) himself. Every time I hit a stop light, I'd pause, pull my iPod headphones off and glance back at him and he'd be about a half block back giving me the Woolly Crazy Eyeball.

I'm now wondering if Mr. Offhismeds found my eyeglasses and was, in his own Thorazine way, trying to give them back.

Shit, shit, shit! I really liked those glasses. After checking today, I found out it would run me about 400 bucks to replace them.

In other news, I had this flu cold that I think I possibly caught from the cat I fostered for two weeks. Said flu has left my sinuses/throat but remains dug into my lungs like a tick in a dog's ass. I don't even remember how many times I woke up last night and coughed and coughed while hanging my head over the side of the bed. Echinacea, etc. has been only partially helpful.

Fuckidol, I'm going to Linuxfest in B-ham tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The DEpression and pets

MSNBC had a great article on how the 'recession' is affecting pet owners and how the number of dogs and cats being surrendered to the SPCA (and municipal dog pounds) is skyrocketing.

I took Mer kitty back to the SPCA today out in Eastgate. She's a love but I just can't be anything other than a 'foster' cat mom right now since I'm not even sure how much longer I'll be living in this area.



Anyhoo, the stories about people forfeiting their pets because they're losing their home are tragic.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

(Foster) Cat Mom

I'm a foster cat mom now. I signed up as a volunteer with the SPCA a week ago. Mercedes (hate the name, call her 'Mer') has been ensconced here for a week. Her horrible lung infection is gone and I'm FINALLY done force-feeding her antibiotics.

When I signed up, I had this picture of a cute, sweet 5-month old kitten to take care of. Instead, the head volunteer honcho handed me a carrier with a 16.5 pound 7-year-old female cat. I nearly dislocated my shoulder lugging her home from the Sound Transit stop.



To her credit, Mer Kitty is demure, quiet, perfectly litter-box trained, doesn't destroy house plants and was the quietest cat I've ever transported in a carrier. (I helped a friend haul a couple of her cats to the vet a few years ago and it was YOWLING, inhuman SHRIEKING and non-stop insanity for two miles through terrible Seattle traffic.)

Anyhoo, she goes back to SPCA next Thursday and then I'm going to take a volunteer 'break' and wait a couple weeks before I have to start dealing with litter boxes and cat fleas again.

Right now, seriously folks, I don't know if I'm going to have a place to live come May 5th. No lie, the shit in my life is that deep.

UPDATE: Mer Kitty's catnip addiction is out of hand. She's now demanding 'cat crack' at all hours of the night. I've had to cut her off the herb. She's out of control! ;p

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Creep Me Out!

I have a checking account (and almost penniless savings) with a huge, well-known west coast bank. The last few months, the bank has been creeping me out to no end. I have "online banking" but I still insist on the old monthly bank statements.

Anyhoo, watching mysterious "overdraft" fees magically appear on my online account one day and then mysteriously vanish the next day is getting old.



Yesterday, my unemployment insurance went through in deposits but before that, the bank was trying to auto draft my monthly ISP bill plus some weird "overdraft" fees (the ISP is a whopping 45 bucks a month) and I only had like $30 in checking at the time. The catch is, I checked and the auto draft for my ISP bill wasn't supposed to go through for another 48 hours. WTF?!

It's like watching a fucking game of Three-Card Monty.

To paraphrase Bill Maher: "Stop trying to sell me online banking shit to make my money safe. I put it in a bank because BANKS are supposed to be safe!"

Saturday, February 28, 2009

One dollar's worth of hope?

A few weeks ago my checking acount balance plummeted to like minus 10 cents or something. Anyhoo, I fixed the problem and then, weirdly, this showed up in my mail.

I've been denied an ETB (foodstamp card) because I "make too much money" on Unemployment Insurance.



Then, bizarrely, Washington Social Services sends me this check for a whopping one dollar. Don't know if my balance had anything to do with this or if it's part of the first stimulus that Bush signed right before he left?

Also it might be a new annual WA state thing for low-income renters. Once again living in CHHIP housing has helped me just enough to annoy me ... but not really help.

I can now buy half a cup of coffee.



Oh wait, I can't. The Tully's closed.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Best Alternet Essay EVER!

Boys can't handle this.

I'm jealous of 'anonymous', wish I'd written it. I especially like the beginning.

And here's yet another Alternet essay I'm jealous of:

Stella ... where is your groove?

Amanda Marcotte hits point after point when discussing hetero women's sex drives (or the lack of) but this one really stood out:

To add to it, sexual desire in our culture is almost solely contextualized as something straight males have and not anyone else. Images of nubile (presumably straight) women with no clothes on still signify "sex" in our culture. Half-dressed women greet straight men everywhere they turn with beckoning smiles and lidded eyes, titillating men and inspiring men to think about sex constantly. Straight women don't get near the provocation on a daily basis -- is it any wonder that 60% of the men who answered the Consumer Reports survey thought about sex once a day, but only 19% of women?


One for the hetero girls

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

American Idiot

On slow nights (we unemployed have a few) I've watched Wife Swap. It's this over-the-top reality show that doesn't just press the offensive button, it leans on it for 54 minutes once a week.

One episode had a white supremacist family swapping moms with an African American family. There's been a lot of so-rural-we-say-shucks families mixing it up with city slickers. And Wife Swap has done the Pagan-Punk-Rocker Mom vs. the Bible-thumping-hillbilly family to DEATH.



Now, weirdly, America is offended by the latest installment. (This after several seasons of offensive?!!!) Yes, the lethargic ire of white trash America has been roused by a Brit Twit in San Francisco, a city that's actively cultivated snobbery since about 1979.

Apparently what's got everybody's Wall-Mart undies in a twist is the fact that the twit was A) un-apologetically rude, B) brazenly proud of his (apparently upper) class and C) he's a foreigner, dagnabit!

So after multiple seasons of paranoid, controlling, psychotic husbands forbidding their families to watch 'sinful TV', dine in restaurants that serve 'murdered animals' or fail to clean their rooms ala boot camp style with a toothbrush -- they're upset because some Brit Twit talked trash about ATVs?!

I wonder how much of this ire is about the Twit verbally lashing out at the redneck wife and hurting her feelings vs. his attack on 'Merkica and the slothful, stupid pastimes so heavily promoted in some parts of the country (Missouri, anyone?).

ATVs are stupid and they do promote laziness, just like the American car or SUV. And paintball is great if you live in a trailer in Tennessee and you've run out of cows to tip, but promoting it as a way to get your gap-toothed spawn into college? PA-LEASSSE!

The Twit is right if it only takes some Toff asshat like him to get under America's skin. We are inbred, stupid and lazy if that's all it takes.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Traveling with Tyler

This has been floating around the web for a few years but I decided to grab it off a travel site and link it here.



It's just ... lovely!

And to think ol' Richard was tellin' me about creative minimalism way back in 1991.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dr. Phil = Not really a doctor, not really wise

I knew there was a reason I've linked to Feministing.com!!!

What an awesome rant on an utterly retarded show.

Yeah, fuck you Phil, you creepy shit kicker.

Maybe Omar's torture will end?

On the first day of the Obama Administration, the President (damn, it feels good to say that!) ordered a freeze on all of the pending Guantanamo cases via those very shady military tribunals.

Omar Khadr specifically was mentioned in the presidential order. I posted a link to the original story about Omar that ran in Rolling Stone magazine in Oct. 2006.




It's a grim, horrific story about a 15-yr-old kid raised by a fundamentalist Islamic father who was seized by U.S. Special Ops during a raid on a villa in Afghanistan. Omar (again, remember raised by a fundamentalist parent) was part of the firefight that took place. One of the military Special Forces soldiers died in the firefight and they took Omar prisoner.

To try and understand the sheer stupidity and insanity of the Bush Administration, imagine if our country had 'arrested' and 'indefinitely detained' every 15-yr-old North Vietnamese that had ever fired a rifle at U.S. troops.

I know I'm supposed to be dancing and throwing flowers but the truly Liberal part of me still wants to see Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. in handcuffs.

Actually, I'd prefer orange jumpsuits and chains.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I am Joe's Inflamed Spine

Haven't posted for a while. Hell, have barely been online enough to check my email, monitor my descent into un-popular on Authonomy and order a couple of discounted DVDs on Amazon.

I can't believe I made it all the way past 40 without nary a glimpse into the masochistic world of back injuries.



Yup, that's right. After years of lugging 85-pound backpacks up 60% grades for the Forest Service and humping over-sized TV sets and awkward furniture in and out of more dive rentals than I can remember, I'm now the proud owner of a seriously fucked up lower back.

I'm more than a little irked at my chiropractor for waiting until now to say 'um, yeah maybe you need an MRI' rather than seven months ago when I still had insurance.

So on Monday I enter the murky world of workman's comp. And this is a work-related disease. I spent 8-12 hours a day sitting in a chair while contracted to Boeing and other companies in the area.

It's weird to think the most-perceived-as-lazy job has crippled me: a desk job.

And I have all the typical symptoms of a A) herniated disc, B) leaky disc, C) inflamed disc or D) all of the above. I have shooting pain, weakness in both legs, weird twinges and pain in my feet and outside of my legs, sharp sciatica-type pain inside my groin and now both thighs, a swollen, slushy feeling in my lower back, etc., etc.

So Monday, after a quick visit to the chiropractor, I throw myself on the mercy of the ER. I'm bringing something to read.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Thanks David Horsey



About 15 days and counting until the Retarded Rodeo Clown rides off to his secret lair in Uruguay.