Friday, October 31, 2003

More from College Drama ...

OK, before I drive off to Peggy's wedding (with my COOLEST HALLOWEEN COSTUME EVER), I'll leave you with a teeth-shatteringly scary story from that College Drama class.

Every class meeting, before we got down to the business of acting, we'd do a warm-up.  We were each assigned a part of the body, and then had to come up with 32 counts worth of exercise for that part of the body -- then we put the whole thing together and put it to music.  It ended with an "energy" warm-up where we'd skip around in our circle singing camp songs.

So.  While some people made warm-ups for things like "neck" and "arms" and "shoulders," poor Adam was absent the day assignments got handed out, so he got stuck with writing the warm-up for our "genitals."  I am not making this up. 

Adam -- with some assistance from our teacher -- created 32 counts of warm-up that involved standing in our circle and, er, rubbing ourselves.  Eight counts ... down there .. eight counts up at the chest area ("for the ladies"), eight counts rubbing our own butts, and the final eight back where we started.  Actually, it was only a final seven counts -- the men in class were required to "give a little tug" on the last count.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was part of the unofficial 1987 Synchronized Masturbation Team.

One day it was so beautiful and sunny, we got the bright idea of having class outside.  (None of us really thought this one through.)  So, there we are, outside on the lawn, singing and dancing and warming up.  A crowd starts to gather.  We keep going, oblivious.

Then I realized where the warm-up was headed.  It was at this point I learned that I have no powers of ESP -- because no matter how much I tried to send the silent message "Let's all skip the genital warm-up" to the rest of the class, it didn't work, and all of a sudden we're standing there touching ourselves.

We somehow get through it, and the warm-up ends with us skipping around singing "Great great gobs of greasy-grimy gopher guts" at the top of our lungs.

And then, I heard the scariest four words I'd ever heard in my whole life:  "[NZ], is that you?"

I nearly died.  A friend from a Legal Studies class.  And if you think I EVER lived that down, you are seriously mistaken.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

What should I have said?

The other day, as I was walking to the parking garage, I was stopped by a woman (who I thought was homeless based on her appearance) using a wheelchair.

She stopped me and said she needed to buy some sunglasses. I thought she wanted a handout and demurred, but she said what she needed was a push across the street so she could get to the shop.

Sure. I had the time. Started pushing her chair to the corner so we could cross. She said she'd pay me for this. I said that wasn't necessary. Took her over to the store. (Twisted my ankle along the way. Figures.) Anyway, when we got there (which couldn't have taken more than three minutes), I ask if she can handle it from there and start heading off.

She calls for me to come back and tries to give me $10. She starts getting pretty belligerent about it, yelling at me to take her money. She's sort of causing a scene at this point, and I just walk away (to the sympathetic eye-roll of a nearby security guard), leaving her screaming at me and waving money.

She says, "My father always taught me when someone offers you money, you take it."

I had nothing to say. I didn't mean to insult her by refusing her offer, but really could not possibly take money from someone for helping her get across the street (even setting aside the fact that, from her appearance, she probably needed that ten bucks an awful lot more than I did).

I wanted to say something like, "My mother always taught me not to take money for doing something you ought to do anyway," but I couldn't quite find the way to phrase it. It isn't that I felt this was charity or anything -- it's just that, I mean, dang, when someone is mobility impaired and they need a little help crossing the street, someone else ought to just help them get across the damn street. It's horrible that she thinks she needs to give people money for giving her a push.

Have human relations gotten so bad that you can't show a little common decency to your fellow man without money changing hands?

The Dreaded Theatregoing Injury

No, not "sore butt."

I twisted my ankle on the way to the theatre, 'bout a year ago.

Through a long, convoluted (and not entirely bright) process, I reinjured it repeatedly over the next couple months.  (Hint:  just because it stops hurting does not mean it is better.  Second hint:  your figure skating "coach" does not know when it is better either.  Stupid salchow.)  Ultimately got myself to a doctor (and you know how much I like that) and discovered that I "torqued my ligament."

(Math nerd that I am, I really appreciated use of the word "torqued" here.  It sounds so much cooler than "twisted.")

The really dreadful part about this whole thing is that, although it is pretty much healed and (knock wood) not affirmatively bothering me, it is not back to 100% and never will be.  (Apparently ligaments are really good at springing back, but not if you keep reinjuring them.)  I have to make sure I don't twist it bad again, because I could end up doing my ligament serious harm.  I ended up giving up skating (it was probably time to do that anyway) and now I freak out whenever I step funny and twist the ankle.

What frustrates the heck out of me is that I have this somewhat permanent reduction in ligament quality and I didn't do anything really cool to get it.  I mean, when people asked, "Why the ankle brace?"  I would have preferred to give an answer like "skydiving," rather than "walking down the street."

It is in some way informing my philosophy toward the adventurey parts of my upcoming trip.  Don't get me wrong -- I don't WANT to get hurt doing any of this stuff (truly, I don't.  I'm a wuss.  See above.)  But it bothers me that my body is already experiencing its first permanent limitation and I wasn't exactly pushing myself to the edge at the time.

So, yeah, injuring myself is making me want to get out there and live a little.  I mean, if my body is going to start giving out on me anyway, I might as well enjoy it like hell as long as I can.


Imagine here a link to the CNN story that begins...

>Box Cutters Found on US Airways Plane
A box cutter was found Tuesday aboard a US Airways plane as it prepared to leave Philadelphia, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration said.<

I *toldja.* Just a couple entries down. And, for the record, I was talking about US Airways at Philadelphia.

Here's the thing. Once you pass security at PHL, there are TONS of stores. They call it the "Philadelphia Marketplace." Tons of stores. With product. That comes in boxes. Call me crazy, but I just bet each of those stores possesses something with which to open those boxes. Something pointy with a razor edge.

Do I think store personnel there are bad, naughty, terroristy types? No. But I did spend a little too long in the Philadelphia airport these past few days, and I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult for some bad, naughty, terroristy types to distract an employee and separate him or her from their box-opening device.

Or, like I said, they could probably just purchase something pointy nice and legally from the Staples in there. I don't have what you'd call a destructive imagination, but I took a good look at the boxes of push-pins, letter openers with the razor blades embedded in plastic, and rolls of strapping tape (y'know, with the really sharp edge for cutting the tape off the roll) and thought, "Self, I wouldn't want to be on a plane with a bad guy who'd shopped at Staples."

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Mmm.... pain....

Er, no, this is not an attempt to get included in Journal Enquirer (sorry, no actual link, I'm using a Mac. Welcome to my world.)

So, the pain from the tetanus shot has pretty much receded, as has the pain from the Hep A and Hep B injections. (I say "pretty much" because there's still a little knot under my skin and every once in a while I get the really stupid idea of pressing on the knot to see if I can loosen it. This generally results in a feelings of: pain; queasiness; potential loss of consciousness if I continue; and, mostly, idiocy.)

So, yeah, that's a thing of the past. And yet, I still took out the ice pack last night. "And why is that?" you might ask.

Y'know pierced ears? I got mine pierced years and years ago. About a year ago, I realized the holes had kinda closed up, so I got the bright idea to repierce them. By, er, shoving the piercing studs through the holes. I did use alcohol -- but only the kind you put on the wound, not the kind you drink a lot of before doing something this stupid.

Anyway, about six weeks later, I had nicely repierced ears. Yay.

Then, for my (rather significant) birthday, my parents very generously gave me a pair of really nice earrings. These suckers don't have NORMAL posts -- they have screw-type posts that the backs twist onto.

The screw-type posts messed up my perfectly clean piercings. I promised myself I'd get the earrings put on posts less destructive to my ears, and, in the meantime, stopped wearing them.

In fact, I stopped wearing all earrings.

Yesterday, I discovered this wasn't such a hot idea either. Apparently my newly-recreated ear holes are happiest when they actually have earrings in them, and threaten closure whenever left alone.

So, it's back to the piercing studs for me. The holes haven't ACTUALLY closed up again, but if I said the piercing studs easily went back in there with no loss of blood, that would be an untruth. But, y'know, OW.

On the plus side, doesn't matter if the studs were dirty. Because, hey, tetanus shot. :)

Monday, October 27, 2003

Airport Security

I'm back! I'm back! I'm back! Thanks to fate and a nice man named Peter -- who broke all sorts of rules and put me on standby on a direct flight to LAX that (although it left 4 hours later than scheduled) got me here well before the flight from Charlotte would have. Yay Peter!

It actually all worked because of the thing that bothered the heck out of me last night -- the fact that my bag ultimately came to LA without me. (The flight that was announced with a delay of 10 hours actually left only 3 hours late -- although by that time I was snuggled in bed at the airport Marriott. My bag was on it.)

"But, NZ," you say, "What about that federally mandated baggage-matching thing?" Yeah, I wondered about that too. Every time I mentioned it to an airport employee, I got the same response -- an eye roll, and a comment like, "Yeah, in theory." Someone finally told me that there was an exception for when bags were already checked in on the flight and the passenger retickets -- then they just get the bag to the destination as soon as possible.


So, what bag matching is REALLY about is making sure the alleged owner of the bag is identified around the time the bag itself is checked in (if you use curbside check-in, you don't even have to stand around while the bag is scanned). The whole "every bag on the plane is matched to a passenger on the plane" thing doesn't really hold -- as long as there's a delay in the flight and people can reticket to alternate flights.

When I got to LAX, I musta seen 100 bags (neatly sorted by flight) that had arrived passengerless and were waiting to be reunited with their owners.

Man, I feel so much safer now.

And don't even get me started on the Staples store INSIDE airport security. No, they weren't selling box cutters -- but I was surprised at the pointy things one COULD buy there and then take on a plane without so much as a scan through a metal detector. What were they thinking?

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Nudie Journalling (Part Two)

7:00 p.m. Gate attendant now makes the cheerful announcement that our flight is showing a ten hour delay. The assembled passengers start asking questions. How about a flight to Vegas? OK. (I will later learn that flights to Vegas are easy to come by, but flights from Vegas to LAX are not available until Tuesday.) I'm in no real hurry. I ask about flights tomorrow morning. Yes, there's a 7:45 flight. You can change your ticket for it at the ticket counter or by phone. Won't be able to get your bag back though -- that's ready for this plane and will just somehow get to LA (one can but hope) tomorrow. But they'll give you an overnight kit at the ticket counter.

7:00 -7:10 p.m. I run like hell back to the ticket counter while simultaneously calling the airline on my cell phone. I get to the counter first.

7:15 p.m. The 7:45 a.m. flight is booked. As is the 10, the noon, the 2:55, the 5:55.... Ticket counter guy can put me on a 1:20 flight which connects through Charlotte and gets me to LAX around 6 tomorrow. Fine, do it. "By the way, can I have an overnight kit?" "No. You're making a voluntary change. The flight wasn't cancelled." "Yeah, but ... TEN HOUR DELAY!!??" Sorry, no overnight kit for me.

7:30 p.m. Am on telephone (for the second time, after my cell dropped the call) to the nice people at Marriott -- having noticed a Marriott hotel in the center of the airport. Yes, they have rooms. Yes, they can book me one.

7:40 p.m. Arrive at Marriott. Check in. Nice man at desk gives me a toothbrush and toothpaste. I have nothing with me but my carryon (purse, laptop, book, some hard candy) and the clothes on my person. Which are now OFF my person -- in the hopes I can wash my underthings in the sink and have clean underthings for my flight tomorrow. Which I expect to be very late, very oversold, and full of very smelly people.

Nudie Journalling (Part One)

10:30 a.m. Pack. Turn on T.V. Watch CNN. Note there are fires in Southern California. This is not unusual -- this time of year there are always fires (hot + winds = fires). Remain foolishly unconcerned.

11:00 a.m. Leave for last day of Skate America. Think nothing of it.

4:15 p.m. Leave Skate America early to make it to airport on time.

(4:15 - 4:30 p.m. Get lost in Reading. Stupid street closures).

4:30 - 6:00 p.m. Friend drives me to PHL. Fall asleep in car. It's been a long weekend.

6:00 p.m. Arrive at airport in perfect time for the 8:00 flight to LAX.

6:00 - 6:09 p.m. Check in, check my bag, get through security in record time. (9 minutes. A new personal best.)

6:15 p.m. Sit down for a nice slice of pizza.

6:30 p.m. Check cell phone for messages. Discover frantic phone message from friend who lives in San Diego and got evacuated. Realize I should have taken this fire thing much more seriously.

6:35 p.m. Call friend back. Discuss stuff. Learn of 6 to 12 hours delay for arriving aircraft at LAX -- and San Diego airport is closed. Think it might be a good idea to proceed to my gate and see what's up.

6:45 p.m. Gate at which my flight was originally assigned is still housing the 6:30 flight to LAX, which has now been delayed to 9:30. Decide this does not look good. Find new gate for flight. It still says it is leaving at 8:00. Gate attendant assures us she just put a San Diego flight in the air. Think this might be a problem for them what with the closure. I wish the well, but have my own problems just now....

Skate America Odds and Ends

Before I get to the really exciting entry (go on, ask me why I'm typing this entry IN THE NUDE), I want to post some odds and ends about Skate America I'd forgotten to mention earlier.

1. Silliest thing I saw all week -- during warm-ups, one pair of pair skaters refused to skate with each other for most of the warm-up. They just practiced separately. Picture a guy skating across the ice practicing a lift without there actually being a woman skater (or substitute) in his hands. He was holding his arms in the air like he was holding her up, but SHE WASN'T THERE.

2. Silliest thing I heard all week -- the Skate America announcer's attempts to pronouce a French skater's first name -- Olivier. A few times he was "Oliver" and once or twice "Oliv-i-er."

3. Silliest thing I ate all week -- The Sovereign Center (arena in Reading) serves the WEIRDEST stadium food. I was expecting the hot dogs and such. And, all things considered, the pretzels weren't totally out of the ordinary. But the two biggest sellers there were "The Pig Pit" -- serving pulled pork sandwiches, and "The Cabana" -- fresh made tacos, quesadillas, wraps, and, um, "Cuban Sandwiches" -- which are apparently pulled pork again. Go figure.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Our Brush With Semi-Greatness (Spoiler)

Yeah, speaking of military programs... we get there in time for the warm-up for the final group of ice dancers. We see one pair of ice dancers where the guy is all dressed up in fatigues with big ol' bullet holes in 'em, and an American flag patch on the front -- while the woman is wearing this flowing white number that, when you look at it again, looks like a dove across the chest.

I guess our biggest surprise was that these skaters were not from the U.S., but from the Ukraine. I'm thinkin' it takes cajones to dress up like a soldier from the country hosting the competition. Especially with the whole war thing going on.

But, political statement or no, they're very spiffy skaters (Grushina and Goncharov) and they end up coming in second place, much to the delight of everyone there. (Most everyone loved them, but loved the Americans who won -- Belbin and Agosto -- more.)

So, during the next competition (ladies -- apparently to be televised on 10/26 on ABC -- I won't give that one away, it was a good fight for the top three spots), the seats in front of us, which had previously been empty, fill up with a couple speaking a language we can't place, but which sounds nice and Eastern European.

Doesn't take too long for the first kid to come by with a program for them to sign. I look over their shoulder at the autograph and realize -- "Hey, it's the Dead Soldier and the Dove of Peace!" After Dead Soldier graciously signs the first program, the kids must send each other the secret "open for autographs" signal, because it opened the floodgates. Kids start handing everything to us to pass down to them for autographs -- programs, T-shirts, throwin' bears, underwear ... well, ok, maybe not underwear. But they sign everything with a smile.

By this time we've totally missed the skater from Finland (who wasn't bad, I hear) because we've been so busy juggling pens and programs and enjoying our little role in the Ukranian Autograph Machine, and Dead Soldier takes a look up the aisle and now realizes the autograph line goes right up the stairs. So, he and Dove of Peace up and walk out of the arena -- presumably to sign everything for their adoring public out in the hallway.

They didn't return until much later. Mary and I were then part of the Don't Call Attention To The Ukranian Ice Dancers machine. "No, no... not them. Those are my cousins visiting from Israel."

And Another Thing About Michael Weiss

And, speaking of pandering to the audience's emotions, Weiss did himself a long program to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Which, besides being a poor choice from a strictly musical standpoint (seriously -- hum your way through it and tell me where you'd stick the jumps) just bugged the heck out of me. To be completely fair here, it isn't just Weiss who I think is guilty of this sort of thing -- Tara Lipinski did a little patriotic number in Stars on Ice the other year in which she was wearing the absolute shortest-cut little military outfit ever (and, if memory serves, the program ended with a big American flag being unfurled -- or that mighta just been my nightmare vision of it, I can't remember).

But, jeepers people, we're currently at war here. And whatever sentiments Weiss and Lipinski might have about being all patriotic and supporting our troops, I'm not really sure it's respectful of the people losing their lives in Iraq to put on a quasi-military uniform covered with spangles (Weiss looked like he belonged more in a marching band than a military company -- at first I'd thought he was going to skate to something from "The Music Man") and skate around in their name. Even worse to do it a competition, where you're using people's patriotic feeling to get applause for YOUR skating. And also somewhat questionable to do it at an INTERNATIONAL competition. Sure, there weren't any Iraqi skaters here. But still, it just feels wrong to me. I mean, you wouldn't want those Israeli Ice Dancers dressing up in soldier suits and doing a Gaza Strip Swing routine. It's just inappropriate.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Skate America -- Day Two (mild spoilers)

Andrea asks who are some of the people here. Well, we just came back from the men's free skate, where the headliner was Michael Weiss. The skating world is kinda weird with Michael Weiss -- you either think: he's the greatest thing since sliced bread, his new "freedom blades" are the wave of the future, his skating is filled with technical prowess and emotional content, and it's important to yell "Go Michael" every ten seconds or so to show your enthusiasm ... or you think: he's not bad but he's no Todd Eldredge, the "freedom blades" are a gimmick, his landings are generally shaky and his programs pander to the audience, and his fan club is the most ill-mannered set of skating fans out there.

Er... guess which camp I'm in.

Hint: It was Michael Weiss fans that stole our seats last night.

Other U.S. men there were Ryan Jahnke (who wasn't having a really good night) and Scott Smith, who looks so much like Leonardo DiCaprio (but without the brooding) we kept expecting him to skate to the theme from "Titanic." Tim Goebel was supposed to be here but he didn't come -- I think Leo ... er, Scott ... was a last-minute replacement for him.

On the ladies side of things there were three U.S. women (Jennifer Kirk, Amber Corwin & Sasha Cohen) and they skated right after each other (thanks, random draw), which really messed up the poor teenage girls in the audience who didn't know who to yell for. "We love you Jenny!" "We love you Amber!" "We love you Sasha" "Jenny's Number One!" "Amber's Number One!" "Sasha's Number One!"

Mary and I kept yelling for "Bill." Bill was some guy sitting next to the judges, working on a laptop. We knew his name is Bill 'cause it was written in big letters and taped to his walkie-talkie. (Bill struck us as a man who has had his equipment mistakenly stolen one too many times.) So whenever everyone was getting all, "Go Michael!" or "We love you Ryan!" We'd chime in with a "Bill! Bill! Bill!"

Everyone desrves a cheer now and then.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sleep. Must Have Sleep.

Just a quick note -- why is it that whenever I say that, I end up having to edit characters down to reach the max?

Anyway, I'm here in our lovely hotel room in Reading. Our hotel is located right next to the Reading Airport. This is not the problem you might imagine -- our hotel is actually LARGER than the Reading Airport itself (well, ok, the terminal, but still). What I'm trying to say here is the airport isn't exactly huge. But I'm sure both planes are very happy in that hangar over there.

Woke up at 3:15 this morning so I'd make my 6:30 flight. Jasmine was quite confused, seeing as I'd just gone to bed about three hours before. She looked at me as if to say, "Morning? I don't think so."

Got here with a minimum amount of hassle and we got to the arena in time to watch the end of the Pairs short program and the Mens short. We had really good seats but some people were in them, so we just sat down in some really better seats. I had a lovely view over the shoulder of one of the judges, which really helped take the mystery out of that new f'd up scoring system.

The skating was uniformly unimpressive (with occasional moments of quality -- "Ooo, that triple axel looked really good ... right up until he fell"). Mary and I kept ourselves entertained by trying to guess the music each skater would use based on the costume. ("And now, representing China and skating to 'I'm a Little Teapot,' please welcome...")

I don't think we'll do the throwin' bears thing this time. I thought it would be great if we came in with a whole trash bag full of bears, each with a little saying on it, and selected the appropriate one for each skater. ("You deserve a hug," "Go you!" "Your coach made you skate that, didn't he?") Mary thought we'd get thrown out.

Till tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

On the road again... (1 of 2)

Well, I'm heading to the airport early in the morning.  Going to go see Skate America in Reading.  Meeting my friend Mary there.  (And seeing as she's a person of the nursing persuasion, I couldn't ask for a better companion the day after picking up two more vaccinations.  Let me just say it's back to the ice packs for me.)

We're going to Skate America this year because we had such a blast at Skate America last year.  Not so much watching the skaters.  Mary's the bestest type of traveling companion there is -- she makes her own fun.  See, here's what happened (cue the flashback).

Skate America 2002 was all security conscious, so they forbade people from bringing flowers into the arena and throwing them on the ice for the skaters.  You could buy little stuffed animal bears from the Skate America people and throw them (we dubbed 'em "throwin' bears") -- but they were like $15 each and people bought them as souvenirs, not so much to give to the skaters.  Still, people did manage to sneak non-approved throwin' bears into the arena and throw them to the skaters.

And Skate America didn't seem to mind that they did.  We knew this because, from where we were sitting, we could see the flock of kids whose job it was to skate out onto the ice and pick up the throwin' bears after a popular skater's performance.  And once they picked up a bear, they'd carefully put a piece of masking tape on it identifying the skater it was for, so it could be delivered later.

They had three or four kids there at any given time, just waiting to skate out and pick up the throwin' bears.  But there weren't THAT many throwin' bears on the ice -- sometimes the kids hardly got to skate out at all. 

On the road again... (2 of 2)

Well, Mary and I were having none of that.  The kids were way too cute in their little Skate America outfits, and they clearly wanted to go out on the ice and be seen by the crowd (and maybe even get on TV).  So, one day, we went to the nearest Rite Aid and stocked up on stuffed animals.  It was this time of year, so they had a selection leaning heavily on the Halloween-like items.  We ended up buying some brightly-colored snakes.  We coiled them up real well (snakes don't throw as well when they're unwrapped) and snuck 'em into the arena.

Then we added little notes that said, "This isn't for Michelle Kwan; this is for the kids that pick them up off the ice.  Happy Halloween!"  We tossed the first one on the ice at the appropriate time, and waited.

It was a huge hit.  The first girl that picked up a throwin' snake picked it up by one end and it uncoiled in her hand.  She got a huge laugh as she skated off the ice, bouncing it up and down like a spring.  Then we kept waiting for her to read the note.  When she did, there was this little flurry of activity when she showed it to the other kids.  Next time we looked over at the kids, they were playing rock-paper-scissors fighting over the snake.

Next time we threw a snake, they recognized it.  The kid excitedly came off the ice saying, "It's another snake!" and they all gathered around to look at it.  Mary and I had way more fun surreptitiously watching the kids enjoy our little presents than we had watching the competition.

Yeah, so, the secret's out.  Mary and I were the throwin' snake throwers at Skate America 2002. 

Next entry will be from Skate America 2003.  Be afraid.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

College Drama Class

For my final in Drama 1, I was assigned a scene, and a scene partner. Can't remember his name -- we'll call him John. John is playing my adult son. I've got to be all over-protective mothery to him, and he's got to be fighting it, trying to snip those apron-strings and be his own man.

Our Drama teacher has us do some written work to accompany the performance. A lot of this is touchy-feely techniquey stuff in which I do not believe. This doesn't mean I can't fake it. (Cause I'm an actress, right?) So, I easily write up the ten-page paper in which I discuss, among other things, my character's "theme song," the childhood I've made up for my character, the deep dark experiences from my own life (all made up) which I've used to help me get in touch with my character's deep dark experiences, and all the other things that I considered to be just so much bull.

One day, the teacher took the class on a field trip to the zoo. I couldn't go. The next day I show up in class, and discover that, at the zoo, everyone found their character's animal. We were then directed to partner up with our scene partners. We were told then to play our scenes as our animals without talking.

Ooookay fine. I'm thinkin' fast. Need a character animal for an overprotective mother. OK, I'm a lioness. Yes siree bob. I drop down to my hands and knees and start padding over to John. I'm pulling him over with my paw and trying to pet him or do whatever the hell lionesses do with their cubs. (Hey, I missed the trip to the zoo. I'm improvising.)

John is being extremely unhelpful here. He's not letting me pet him or cradle him or protect him from evil. Every time I reach out my paw (arm) to pet him, he jumps out of the way and runs to the other side. Then he runs back toward me, and moves away again when I try to pet him again. This is very frustrating to Lioness-Me, so I pad on over to him and open my mouth so's I can bite him by the scruff of the neck and put my damn cub between my front paws where he damn well belongs. John darts away again. This is not very cub-like.

Our teacher is adamant that we not speak to each other, but John finally animals his way over to where he can whisper in my ear and asks, "What animal are you?"

I whisper, "A lioness. What are you?"

John falls on the floor in giggles. As the class turns to stare at us while I try to contain my leonine composure, John gasps, "A fly."

Fifteen Hours o' Fame

AOL's Fifteen Hours of Fame contest is seriously bothering me. This because, being the Type A, obsessive-compulsive attention-whore that I am, I can't possibly pass up any sort of writing contest. At the same time, I can't imagine what I'd actually want to say to 25 million people.

I mean, 25 million people. That's, y'know, a lot of people. With one journal entry, we're talking about one character for every ten thousand people. Here's a "j" for the city of Morro Bay. Don't hog it, people, everyone share.

Come on, it's a daunting proposition. Particularly when I think of the sorts of things I might actually say when given such a soapbox. Would I use the opportunity for personal advancement (here's my headshot and resume -- wouldn't you like to star me in your next movie?) or would I try to make the world a better place? And how the hell would I go about the latter in 2500 characters or less? "Um, guys, let's stop with the street violence, ok? And, um, how about ending hatred and prejudice? And, er, don't forgot to hug your mom, feed your cat, and water your plants. Thank you, and have a nice day." Can't be done.

I had an idea though. A wild, crazy idea (that's so crazy, it just might work.) All I'd need is the participation of every other AOL member. OK, gather close. Listen to this.

[Whispers] We all know the reason people send spam is because it works. A quick google search tells me that targeted email can generate as much as a 15% response rate. What if everyone on AOL agreed -- not because of any TOS thing but just out of the kindness of their hearts -- to never ever ever answer spam. I mean, not even if it offered the best price on Viagra, the kinkiest porn, the cheapest mortgage interest rate, and the most enlarged genitalia ever. Just everyone on AOL agreed that any unsolicted email sent to an AOL address would NEVER generate a response (other than, perhaps, a strongly worded letter to the spammer's postmaster). If all 25 million of us agreed that email advertising sent to AOL would never work, the spammers would know not to waste their time with email to an AOL address. We'd be the internet's first spam-free zone.

Wouldn't make the world a better place, but it would certainly make AOL a better place.

OK, who's with me? Do I hear a "yea"? Do I hear 25 million of them?

Monday, October 20, 2003


Since I know you're all deeply concerned about the state of my (ow) arm --

I am informed by the Medical Professional Du Jour that

- with the possible exception of the feeling faint yesterday, what I'm going through is fairly common (and here, I think, is where my history of light-headedness* makes this normal too).

- it can take up to FIVE DAYS for one of these buggers to stop hurting.

- I must drink lots of fluids.

- I can now alternate heat and ice every couple of hours (I think this is to "fake out" the swelling).

- I must do all my wild international travel within the next ten years so I don't have to do this again. (OK, she didn't say that, but we were all thinking it.)

*Y'know if this was a message board, my friends would pounce all over that -- "NZ has a 'history of light-headedness' -- that explains everything!"

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Ow ow ow

I was apparently a little premature when I suggested, "the tetanus shot arm seems to be pretty much back to normal."  It is, in fact, getting worse.  I assume this is par for the course as my white blood cells go to fight off the weakened tetanus germies, or whatever actually goes on with a vaccination. 

But, for anyone out there wanting a little schadenfreude, here's the details of my pain (so's you can take pleasure in it).

Friday morning:  tetanus shot.  I'm just complimenting the medical assistant on her light touch when the injection site actually starts hurting in a quaint sort of burning way.  My wrist starts hurting too. 

Friday day:  Spend most of day rubbing and moving arm.  Occasionally rubbing wrist, too.

Friday evening:  Pain pretty much dissipates.  Decide process wasn't all that bad.  Remove band-aid.  Can barely see tiny pinhole from injection.

Saturday:  Go for a drive.  When looking over shoulder to back car up, injection site hits corner of car seat.  Reconsider that whole "process wasn't all that bad" thing.  Stupidly repeat three times.  Yowch!

Sunday morning:  Wake up early.  Realize this is because arm hurts.  Feel extremely pissed off at medical profession specifically and world in general.  Take Tylenol.  Take shower.  Come out of shower.  Feel faint and dizzy.  Curl up on floor for an hour with head between knees.  Make with the continued cursing of anyone I can think to curse.  Wonder if I should have mentioned my previous incident of fainting (at a TB test) to the medical assistant.

Put a new band-aid on the injection site, which is now so red and swollen the largest band-aid I have won't cover it. 

Sunday afternoon:  Go to theatre.  Realize I would be enjoying the show rather more if my arm wasn't hurting.  Curse self for not bringing more Tylenol.

Sunday evening:  Take more Tylenol.  Inspect injection site.  Note that swelling area is rather hard.  Experiment with kneading on site to loosen things up.  Call off experiment on account of the pain shooting down to my wrist and the repeat with the light-headedness.  Decide to post journal entry and go in search of orange juice. 

I'm geekier than Andrea

Not sure why this is something I'm proud of, but there it is.  (What?  I'm the only one around here that took a class in animated filmmaking in 5th grade?)

Anyway, Andrea asks (regarding the entry below) "What is a cel anyway?" and I figured I should explain.  Besides, it gives me a chance to poke around on the internet and see if the price they have for the cel in question is in line with other prices.

The simple answer is:  a cel is one of them see-through things they painted animation art on (before they started doing it all by computer).  You take a drawing of your characters, copy it on a clear sheet, then paint the little bugger.  That's a cel.  Then you can put your cel on top of your background, snap a picture and -- presto -- frame of animation film.

The complex answer is much more complicated than that -- now that the studios have realized there's a market for cels, they create cels to sell, rather than selling only actual production cels.  So you can get "sericels" or "limited edition hand-painted cels" and shit like that.  I found a fairly good description of both the animation process and the creation of different kinds of cels here.

As for pricing -- well, since it's a collectibles market, I think the conclusion here is "damn if I know."  Obviously, original production cels sell for more than limited editions, but beyond that, it's anybody's guess.  I know that if you've got a cel that comes with background (rather than the character just sitting there on a clear cel), that's worth oodles more, and I s'pose there's all sorts of other factors that go into it having to do with whether the character is main or supporting, full view or head view, action or just sitting there, etc. 

The price for the cel that I'm drooling over actually seems quite reasonable in comparison with other cels of its type -- but this is likely because it is background free and the characters aren't in full color.

Thanks for all the advice -- I (gasp) put in the minimum bid.  Now I'll just have to wait to see if I get outbid -- and hope that if I do get outbid, it isn't by someone who goes all the way to the "buy it now" price.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

How much would you pay?

When I was, oh, I dunno, an early teenager (about the age when sleepover parties seem like a really cool idea), a friend had a birthday party that involved going to Westwood.  So a bunch of us girls went into the little shops and spent our hard-earned babysitting money.

There was one shop where they sold these pins with names of rock bands on them.  (They also sold -- we told each other in excited whispers -- pipes for drugs!  We were all way too good to even look at the bongs, but the mere idea of being in the same store as them filled us with that teenie-bopper-forbidden-fruit glee.)  My friends all bought pins celebrating punk rock bands.  I got one that said "The Beatles."  It cost $1.75.  (I also painted my fingernails blue.  It was just that kind of party.)

When I got home that night and told my mother about my purchase, she asked what it cost.  I was afraid I'd get in trouble for spending so much on something useless and fun, so I lied and said, "A dollar."  Mom didn't mind that at all.  "Oh, everyone's entitled to blow a dollar now and then on something frivolous."

Fast forward to today.  I've got a good job, a mortgage, and a weakness for film and theatre collectibles.  Generally, I'm pretty good about it -- ten bucks here, twenty bucks there.  So far so good.  I'm comfortable with saying, "everyone's entitled to blow $20 now and then for something frivolous."

Today I just found out about a charity auction that has an item I really really want.  ReallyWant.  Without giving too much away here (wouldn't want any competing bidders now) -- it's, um, a cel from an animated movie from which I've been looking to purchase a cel for, like, ever.  I mean, to the point where I've always said to myself, "Self, I know you don't spend money on art, but if you ever find a cel from this film, that would be your first grown-up art purchase."

Of course, not having found a cel in the past, I sorta spent my "cel budget" (as it were) on other big-ticket collectibles recently.  Figures I'd find one now.

The opening bid is for what they believe to be the fair market value of the cel.  They have a "buy it now" option for twice as much. 

How much is a grown up allowed to spend on totally frivolous purchases?

Friday, October 17, 2003



Ok.  This might look like your average everyday CD, but it is, in fact, a lollipop.  I ordered it a few weeks ago and it arrived in the mail yesterday.  In a phenomenal display of self-control, I decided not to listen to it immediately, but instead uploaded the little bugger into my ipod so I'd have a treat for myself as soon as I got my shots today.

And, even though 2 shots ended up turning themselves into a blood test and one shot with an option for more, I figure I more than earned it. I'm pleased to report that both the tetanus shot and the blood test actually hurt substantially less than a good solid kitten scratch. However, it's about twelve hours later and while the tetanus shot arm seems to be pretty much back to normal, the inside of my elbow where the blood was taken is still pretty tender. So, y'know, I figure I'm allowed to sit here sullenly and listen to Anthony Warlow's latest CD.

Here's what you have to know about Anthony Warlow: he has what has got to be one of the top five voices in musical theatre on the planet. For my money, he's number one, but I'm willing to at least consider the possibility there are a handful of others.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I would have preferred this disc to be more musical theatrey. (I still shudder that I bought something people file away under "Easy Listening.") But the fact of the matter is, he's got one of those voices where he can sing anything, and sing it really, really well. In fact, some tiny twisted part of my brain is kinda glad he's recorded these standards, because I'll never listen to them any other way, and it is sort of rounding out my musical education.

Vocally, he's got a huge range. I've seen plenty of debates over whether he's a baritone or a tenor. He describes himself modestly as a "baritone with a bright top." The "bright top" is light enough to just skim the surface on these swing numbers -- he sings like Torvill & Dean ice dance: crisp, delicate, and impeccably smooth. And, when he lets it out, he's got a rich, warm baritone you could curl up and fall asleep in.

Mmm, better than any candy.

I lived.

Just a quick note to report on the whole "shot" thing (moment by moment details to follow).  I got my tetanus booster and gave some blood (they wanted to test for Hep antibodies before giving me the vaccine, so I'm probably not done yet) and survived.  But, y'know, "ow."

In a related story, Jasmine understands more English than she lets on.  This morning, she was sitting on my bed while I was getting ready.  So, I was sorta talking to her.  When I was ready to go, I said, "Jasmine, mommy has to go do something she doesn't really want to do now."  Jasmine ignores me.  I said, "Jasmine, mommy has to go to the vet."  Jasmine jumps off the bed and scampers away, hiding in the living room.  Oops.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Halloween Costumes

I think I can actually fit my Life History of Halloween costumes within the 2500 characters they give us.  When I was a kid, we went to Colonial Williamsburg on a vacation once.  My mom got a pattern for real live colonial dresses.  She made matching ones for me and my older sister.  (Purple.  With a green apron-like thing.  Gotta love the 70s.)  I wore mine for Halloween for years, and when I outgrew it, got saddled with my sister's.  I musta been a Purple Pilgrim for the better part of a decade of Halloweens.

Which is just as well.  When I finally got free license to make whatever Halloween costumes I wanted, I always came up with something too bizarre for anyone to understand.  Like, when I was about 12, a friend and I decided to dress up like little kids playing dress up.  We wore oversized adult dresses and makeup all over our faces.  And when anyone asked us, "What are you dressed as?" we responded, "Mommies!"  Confused a lot of people that year.  Got a lot of pity candy.  It's all good.

Finally, I went to a Sweet 16 party that had a 1950s theme.  Mom made me a poodle skirt.  A few years later, mom made herself a Minnie Mouse costume.  From then on, mom and I sorta traded off between the poodle skirt and the Minnie Mouse any time one of us needed a costume -- Halloween or any masquerade occasion.  Seriously.  I'd get phone calls years later, "Do you have the poodle skirt?"  It ran away a few years ago -- I think my sister borrowed it.  :P

Well, this year, I need a Halloween costume.  (Well, I don't need one.  But free drinks have been promised.)  The poodle skirt is lost and mom has Minnie a coupla States away.  I figured I'd go out and actually buy one for the first time -- after all those Pilgrim years, I think life owes me a decent Halloween costume.  But if I'm going to spend hard-earned cash for it, it has to be perfect, ya know.  And I just haven't found the perfect one.  I mean, yeah, sure, I could fork out major bucks for the "Trinity" costume, but unless it comes with Carrie-Anne Moss's body, it's really just turning myself into a vinyl sausage -- and that's no good for anyone.

Well, I've just got a lead on a good one.  I'll keep you posted.

What to write?

I feel like your gold box...  y'know, when it says, "What would you like your next offer to be -- one of our 550 blenders, or one of our 882 power saws?"  And I'm always looking for that "other" button that isn't there.

But, I sit down at the computer thinking, "What would you like my next journal entry to be -- something twisted called 'Reality Television' or something about the CD I just got that is by an artist you've probably never heard of?"  And I can just picture my vast reading public (that's you!) looking wildly for that "other" button.

Oh very well.  I aim to please.

Let's talk about Halloween Costumes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Cat Nicknames

Unhinged&nbsp;asks about nicknames, which is kinda funny as I'd been planning to do an entry with the&nbsp;complete list of nicknames for my cat, Jasmine.

(Grouped by category for easier reading.)

Jas, Yasmina, Jazzy Girl, Jazzy Girl Girl, All That Jas, Jasmine Wasmine,

Kitten, Kitten Witten, Cutest Kitten in the World, Smartest Kitten in the World, Bestest Kitten in the World, Cutest Kitten in the Room,

Baby, Babykins, Precious (var. Precccioussssss)

Action Cat, Destructo Kitty, Cat-Out-Of-Hell,

Who da cat?

Feline Companion, My Owner,


Salmon-breath, Tuna-breath, Smells-Like-Cat,


Little One.

Strike One! Strike Two!

Thought about taking the train to work today. Can't. Transit strike.

Thought about stopping off at the store for some cat food. Can't. Grocery store strike.

On the news today, I heard that both strike situations are looking worse and there's no end in sight. If we're lucky, they might actually start negotiating with respect to the transit strike sometime tomorrow.

OK, here's the thing. I respect Unions' right to strike. It's the atomic bomb of labor negotiations, and sometimes you just gotta pull out the ultimate sanction. (I also respect employers' right to lock-out employees. Same sorta thing.) And I don't really know enough about the fine details of either of these strikes to know who I should be sympathetic with -- but my educated guess is that we're dealing with one of those "not enough money to go around, so who is going to bear the brunt of it" situations. Welcome to California.

But what does roast my cookies about these strikes is that there are no actual negotiations going on this very second. Busses and trains aren't running, grocery stores aren't selling food (which I now understand is going to be going bad on distribution center shelves) and nobody is sitting the hell down at a table talking about how to bring this situation to an end.

I repeat: I respect the rights of Unions to strike. Truly I do. But surely they've got to understand that the strike itself is good for nobody. I mean, the employees aren't getting paid, the employer isn't doing any business at all (which can't possibly help with the whole "not enough money" thing) and there are -- particularly with these strikes -- massive consequences to third parties. We're talking about food and transportation here. This isn't like you're taking baseball away from us, you're taking away pretty basic stuff. (We can probably get food from markets not subject to the strike, but for the people who depend on public transit to get to their jobs... dang.)

So, no, I don't object to the strikes in any philosophical sense -- what I do object to is a strike where labor and management are not working around the freakin' clock to try to negotiate an end to the strike. I don't care if the "other side" is being unreasonable and not moving from its position, keep trying. You might not owe it to the public to go to work, but you do owe it to the public to stay at the negotiating table.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I Won't Grow Up.

I don’t wanna!  I don’t wanna!  I don’t wanna!

Now, I’m not actually having a dialogue with myself inside my head (‘cause that would be, y’know, nuts) but I will admit to having rather mixed feelings on this.

See, in addition to the trip to New Zealand, there’s a little side trip to Fiji in the works.  (Funny story how that came about.  Ask me later.)  And, according to the nice people at the CDC, before one goes to Fiji, one ought to (oh no!) get some shots.

Here’s the thing.  I haven’t had a shot since 1977.  Honest.  My folks had me pumped up with … wow, when I add it all up, it’s about 15 injections … before the age of ten -- pretty much everything a growing body needs -- and thereafter, it just stopped.   (I spent the next four years psyching myself up for the dreaded booster shot at age 14.  When we went to the pediatrician, he said, “We’ve been overmedicating kids.  If you step on a rusty nail, we’ll give you a tetanus shot then.”  So, four years of worrying for nothing.)   I haven’t had a shot in 25 years.  And my memory of them is the good, solid fear of a ten-year-old.

When I first contemplated the trip to Fiji, I realized that I’d need a Hep A immunization (and probably a tetanus booster).  And I said to myself, “Self, are you gonna be a big baby and miss out on a trip to Fiji ‘cause you’re all afraid of a little shot, or are you gonna grow the hell up and just do it and go.”   I booked the trip.  Easy to be bold when things are six months away.

Well, I did it.  This morning, I called up a doctor (I don’t actually have a primary care physician right now.  Funny story there, too.  Ask me later), made an introductory appointment, and made sure he had some Hep A shots sitting on the shelf.   Friday morning.  8:45.  Da-dum.

I keep telling myself that shots don’t hurt as much as I thought they did as I kid, and I’ve probably felt an awful lot more pain zillions of times since in stupid injury-causing things I’ve done, and, hey, my cat got her shots and she didn’t even meow.   I can be stronger than a little kitten, right?  RIGHT?


Monday, October 13, 2003

Just... no.

TV news just informed me (it's too small or too recent a story to make it to web news sites) that a roller coaster car got stuck on Disney's "California Screamin'" roller coaster today. At the top. Stranding a bunch of people up there. Nobody was hurt, but still. I think we're all taking safety a little extra seriously when it comes to Disney coasters right now.

I'm particularly troubled by this one 'cause I really dig that coaster. I'm a real big roller coaster wuss (no surprise -- I'm a wuss in general) and, ever since being dragged kicking and screaming onto "The Revolution" at Magic Mountain in seventh grade, I've avoided looping coasters like the plague. A little while ago, I was with some friends at California Adventure and decided it was time to grow the hell up, so I rode California Screamin'. And loved it. I've probably ridden that sucker half a dozen times this year. I've decided California Screamin' is pretty much the most perfect roller coaster out there. The ride is smooth as silk, it has great little zero-g moments, the loop is nothing particularly scary, and the whole experience is so perfectly controlled, you feel completely safe in it. I don't know how else to explain it -- it's just that the ride is never out of control. It starts with a big unexpected burst of power sending you up a hill, and ends with an equally unexpected stop -- both of which just emphasize how much the Imagineers are controlling every second of your roller coaster experience. There's even this cute little bit in the middle where you're going up a hill and it slows, acting as though you aren't going to make it -- then it kicks in with an extra bit of power as if to say, "Ha ha!  We just faked you out." (Not surprisingly, this last bit has been removed since the accident at Big Thunder. I think maybe the people in charge decided they didn't want anyone thinking, even for a moment, "Uh oh, we're not going to make it up the hill.")

So, now I hear that the coaster stranded some people at the top for no known reason.

I am not happy about this. The words "no known reason" have no place in a discussion of roller coaster behavior. Obviously, these words are better than others (like "casualties" or "terrorism") but I don't like the thought that Disney's coasters are doing things outside of Disney's plan.  Cripes.

Hide and Go Freak

Two things you should know about Jasmine:

1. She's an indoor cat. Who likes bolting for the door.

2. She loves being with me. Not just for my inherent lovability, but because she has what we call "abandonment issues." Meaning that, whenever I'm home, Jasmine is in the same room as me about 99% of the time. The only time she isn't with me is if I've left her a nice bowl of wet food. I'm great and all, but I can't compete with sliced tuna in gravy.

So, the other day, the exterminator came. She's been skittish around strangers lately, so she hid from him.

I had to go to work after he left. Since Jasmine isn't allowed in my bedroom when I'm gone, I wanted to close the bedroom door. Naturally, this required getting a bead on Jasmine's location -- as it wouldn't do either of us any good if I locked her on the wrong side of the bedroom door for a day. (It's one thing getting her to respect my fragile belongings, another to get her to respect them when she can't get to the litter box.)

Looked all around. Could not find the cat. Called for her. (She never comes anyway.)

Looked in her favorite hiding place (under the sofa). Kinda hard to see down there. Waved her favorite toy (laser pointer) in the general direction of under the sofa. No takers. Walked around the house shaking a treat bag. Nothing. Walked around the house shaking a rattling toy. Nothing.

Now I started worrying. Did she maybe dart out the door when the exterminator came? Or... he'd opened the door to the balcony--maybe she went out on the balcony and (heavens!) tried to see how high she could jump from and still do that landing-on-her-feet thing. I looked down at my neighbor's patio below -- no little pile o' Jasmine.

I gave up. I gathered up my work stuff and started for the door. All of a sudden, little paws started doing that yawn and stretch thing from under the sofa, where she'd been hiding all along. I was twenty minutes late for work and my heart was beating a mile a minute (hey! cardio workout!) but at least she was safe.

This morning, another workman came. Jas disappeared as soon as he got here and I haven't seen her for two hours. I think she's trying to play "Hide and Go Freak" again. I'm not going to fall for it this time. I know she's around here someplace.

Still... two hours is an awfully long time... she must be getting hungry... poor little thing...

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Foundations -- Part Four of Four

I had a sudden thought that, with this particular examination, the issue was not whether I was going to get an "A." The issue was HOW I was going to get it.

I began with the simplest question--was Watson's verdict factually "right?" Did the captain deserve an acquittal on the grounds of self-defense or defense of others? Undoubtedly yes, but this merely scratched the surface of the problem.

Was Holmes legally right in appointing himself judge and Watson the jury, thereby bypassing the legal system? Definitely not, I concluded.

But would the legal system have reached the correct result? And at what cost to the captain and the lady? Did Holmes do right by reaching the right result through the wrong practice?

The resolution to each question simply revealed the next. My determination of whether Holmes did "right" changed with each successive inquiry.

Can it ever be right to usurp the legal system? Is the cost to the fabric of society greater than whatever harm might be avoided by the subterfuge? Does it matter if no one else in the society is aware of the injustice worked to the system?

I honestly cannot recall what my ultimate conclusion was, although I suspect my own bias in favor of Holmes probably played a part. But I think, as with the subject matter of the class itself, it was the procedure of getting there that mattered. Discovering for myself that "right" can be determined factually, legally and morally, and that each standard may lead to a different result. Experimenting with the interplay between doing justice for individuals and doing justice for society. And perhaps most important, realizing that it does not require Oliver Wendell Holmes to raise an inquiry worthy of a Legal Studies final examination. Sherlock will do just fine.

Foundations -- Part Three of Four

But not this time. When we turn over our tests to begin, I am delighted to discover, not the fact pattern of some dry legal dispute, but the familiar story of "The Abbey Grange."

In "The Abbey Grange," a ship's captain was in love (from afar) with a married woman. When her abusive husband struck her, the captain flew to her defense. Attacked by the husband, the captain killed him. The captain then covered the crime to make it appear as if burglars had killed the husband. Holmes deduced the truth, but the authorities did not. When Holmes confronted the captain, he confessed the crime, but admitted no guilt--he believed he had done the right thing in saving the woman from her brutal husband.

Holmes then appointed himself judge, and Watson the British jury. Watson, on cue, acquitted the captain and Holmes, accordingly, set him free, promising to keep the truth a secret unless some other man be brought up on charges for the murder.

The question, "Did Holmes do right?" stared at me from the paper.

Foundations -- Part Two of Four

It turned out to be the only class I took, in college or law school, that was taught in the Socratic method. I became "the" student in the class--the one who is always called on when someone else does not have the response the professor is looking for. I knew I could get questioned in that class at any time. As a result (and, perhaps, a cause), I was more prepared for those class sessions than any other class, before or since. Although I did not quite realize it at the time, I learned a hell of a lot along the way. Really LEARNED it. In my desire to always be ready with the answer for the professor, I internalized the things he was teaching. I wasn't merely mastering the material so I could spout it back on an exam and forget it the next week, I was taking it in, engaging in dialogue with myself over the material, and coming to terms with the concepts at issue.

And what concepts they were. The "foundations of justice," I learned, are nothing less than the basic rules upon which societies are built: That before people can come together at all, they must agree to speak the truth; that doing good--justice-- is an end within itself. In my practice as an attorney, I've always respected the "due process" protections our constitution provides. But in "Foundations of Justice," I considered, perhaps for the only time, the necessity of respecting these protections, whatever the consequences, in order for the populace to continue to consent to be governed. The process must always be seen to be, and actually BE, just.

I remember arriving for the final exam in "Foundations of Justice." A three-hour written examination. The exams are set on the table, face down, in front of us. We are not to turn them over, but there is no rule against attempting to make out the type, backwards, from the back of the page. (You can tell I was already thinking like a lawyer.) There is a lengthy single-spaced fact scenario set forth, and the question beneath: a single line, set apart from the rest. I concentrate my efforts on making out the question.

"Did Holmes do right?"

For a moment, I think it is a Sherlock Holmes question. With regret, I chide myself that I am now entering the path to becoming an attorney, and future references to "Holmes" will mean Justice Oliver Wendell and not Sherlock.

Foundations -- Part One of Four

I just finished watching "The Abbey Grange." "The Abbey Grange" is a Sherlock Holmes mystery--one in a series that was dramatized some years ago (1986) with Jeremy Brett as Holmes, which aired on PBS' "Mystery!" series. They were purchased by A&E, which explains why I just finished watching one.

I've seen them all before, multiple times. I am quite the fan of these adaptations, having gone so far as to cancel my subscription to Entertainment Weekly in protest of their review of the series. (It was, I should note, a positive review. Entertainment Weekly, however, had the audacity to imply that Sherlock Holmes stories appeal only to men, as if women would not possibly be impressed by a brilliant intellect or, at any rate, a brilliant intellect who does not sleep around.) So, yes, I've loved the adaptations, had seen them all before, and generally had little interest in watching them again (particularly with commercial interruptions).

But "Abbey Grange" is special.

"Abbey Grange" wasn't always special. It certainly wasn't my favorite Sherlock Holmes story when I first read them, nor even my favorite of the television adaptations. But it came to be an important part of my life in 1987.

At college, I took a course in the Legal Studies department which had the profound title of "Foundations of Justice." Now that all is said and done, I'll freely admit that I took the course for the sole purpose of obtaining a letter of recommendation for law school from the professor. The class was large, but I was motivated by the desire to get into a good law school, so I made certain I was known to the professor.

"Foundations" -- Introduction

When I was playing with the "Gender Genie" the other night, I decided to give it one my favorite pieces I'd ever written.  Took me awhile to dig it up from the bowels of my hard drive.  But once I found it, I thought, "Duh.  Why not post it on the journal?"  Well, for one reason, it's rather long.  I'll have to break it up over four entries -- so, y'know, start here and read in order.

I think it requires little explanation.  The only thing I'd add is that I wrote it a number of years ago, at around 2:00 in the morning, in an email.  This was before the days of journals (or, at least, before the time I'd heard of them).  But I had all these thoughts jangling around in my head, and I just couldn't sleep until I'd written them.  Sometimes you just have to write, and this was one of those times.  Had I had a journal then, it would have been an entry -- so I'm sort of going back and resurrecting the piece.

And, um -- it's a little meatier than what I usually write.  It happens.  I'll be back tomorrow with the new game my cat taught me.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

You're placing the product where?

Yeah, OK, it's my third post about ER.  I realize it makes me look obsessed about the show, which is wrong.  (I watch about a half dozen TV shows on a regular basis.  ER is sort of on the bubble.  I watch it if I'm around.) 

But there was something wrong with this season's second episode of ER -- something else wrong (besides, y'know, the plot) and it only just hit me.

Product placement.  I'd thought it kind of amusing that Carter would take an iPod to Africa.  After all, I remember when Carter had an iBook all nicely product placed -- must have been a couple seasons ago.  But once an Apple user, always an Apple user.  So good for them for keeping him with Apple.

That's what I thought when I saw the episode.  And then today, I realized what was wrong with it.  You can't change the batteries in iPod.  I know this.  I have one, and the fact that you can't change its batteries is what's keeping me from taking it with me to New Zealand.  The damn thing is strictly rechargeable.  You get about six hours of music out of it and then you need to plug it into a wall.

Now, tell me exactly where in a burnt out clinic in the middle of the Congo is Carter going to find himself the necessary electrical current to get this sucker going?  I mean, hell, a single charge on an iPod isn't even going to cover you for half the damn FLIGHT to Africa.  Now, OK, maybe he can recharge it that first night he spent in a hotel -- but before the iPod's big scene, he's spent days (at least it seems that way), helping out Red Cross Lady and otherwise trying to find Luka.  Not exactly curling up with a good book next to a nice source of alternating current, is he?

And that's assuming he's taken care of the whole converter (they're on 220V there) and adapter issue (this being the reason my iPod will not be joining me in New Zealand).  Look, iPods are great for going to the gym or commuting, but the little buggers are just NOT made for international travel.

Then again, Carter's so rich, maybe he just brought a whole duffel bag full of them--discarding them along the way when they lose their charges.  Yeah, that's it.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I write like...

... a guy. At least according to that Gender Genie thing.

As I mentioned in the comments below (Andrea beat it out of me), my little job on the side is as a theatre critic. So I sent some reviews through the Gender Genie, and it said male. Overwhelmingly, according to the score.

I am kind of pleased about this.

I am kind of disappointed that I'm pleased about it.

I mean, that's a little self-hating, don't you think? To be a female-type person who wants to write like a male? Which, I guess, I do.

Back in the good old days when I actually had time to read a lot of fiction, I developed something of a bias against female authors. This because I'd read a few books in a row that started out as perfectly good genre fiction (mystery, fantasy, whatever) and then all of a sudden took a turn off into a feminist tirade or bodice-ripper. And then when I checked the "About the Author" at the back of the book, I'd found that the author -- who had hidden her gender by the sneaky use of initials -- was, in fact, a woman. Hit a couple of these in a row and you start to develop a bias against women writers. (I have nothing against a perfectly good feminist tirade or bodice ripper, but there's a time and a place, you know?) So, I developed this assumption that women writers were the ones who would mess up otherwise good stories, whereas male writers would just, you know, write them. As a result, I started thinking the male voice was the "normal" one. In other words, there was no such thing as "writing like a guy" -- that was just writing. It was "writing like a girl" that had negative connotation for me.

And since, when I write reviews, I want people to think, "Hey, good review," rather then, "Review from a female perspective," I am somewhat pleased that the Gender Genie does not think my reviews are particularly female.

That's not the whole story, though. I gave the Gender Genie some entries from this journal and, although it was somewhat of a closer call than with the reviews, it decided I write like a female here.

I am also pleased about this. The journal is informal writing. Frequently stream of consciousness stuff. And if it's going to be words that fall directly from my head onto the page, I certainly hope it comes out female, because that's what I actually am.

It says this entry is male. Damn.

Thursday, October 9, 2003

Ooo. A request!

Our Unhinged friend Andrea suggests writing a movie review.  Now, normally, I'm all over requests.  Especially when they come from someone like Andrea, whose journal is AOL's Top Pick for today.  (Go her!)  But this is a rather difficult request to fulfill.  See reviewing movies is dangerously close to some writing I do in the Real World, and I try to keep the journal Far, Far Away from Real World writing.  A concept which is, in itself, kinda funny, because one of the reasons I took up reviewing was to try a different kind of writing from what I do at my Day Job.  To sum up -- three types of writing: Day Job, Real World Reviewing, and Journal.  And never the three shall meet.

So, reluctantly, I have to turn down Andrea's invitation.

Then again.  Perhaps I can try an unusual format for a movie review.  That way, I'd be doing Experimental Journal-type writing, while still reviewing a film.  Sounds like a challenge to me.  For instance, let's see exactly how short I can make a review, and still make it work.  I'll just paw through the list of movies I saw this summer and try to do shorter and shorter reviews with each successive film. k?

Movie:  X2:  X-Men United

Form:  Iambic Pentameter

You'd think I'd just see Hugh on screen and stare

He just is not sexy with stupid hair.

Movie:  Seabiscuit

Form:  Haiku

Ooo!  Watch the horse race!

The music swells joyously

Wonder if he'll win.

Movie: Matrix Reloaded

Form:  Ten word movie review

Never thought I'd say this but: too many Hugo Weavings

Movie: T3:  Rise of the Machines

Form:  Five word movie review

Get to the war already!

Movie:  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Form:  Three word movie review

Intelligent comic oversimplified.

Movie:  Spellbound.

Form:  Two word movie review

Revealing documentary

Movie:  Pirates of the Caribbean:  Curse of the Black Pearl

Form:  One word movie review


At the gym

Gym last night was kinda interesting.  I used some of the weight machines.  I like the weight machines.  Something satisfying about watching the stack of weights (the really small stack, but still) ride up and down on my power -- way more satisfying than riding the exercise bike to nowhere.

Got to thinking about the last time I actually used machines.  It was about a decade ago.  (Our new friend rinakatay has just experienced what it's like to think "a decade ago" for the first time.  Just imagine the first time the words "twenty years ago," escape your lips.  Makes you want to sign up for AARP right then and there.)  ANYWAY, so 'bout a decade ago, a friend and I decided to spend a night playing with a weight machine and doing all the exercises (out of this book my friend had) for one part of the body -- we did the arms.  Well.  We both TOTALLY overdid it.  The next morning, my arms were so sore, I could barely lift the phone when my friend called to see if I'd survived.  I spent the next day cursing weight machines, my friend, and that bastard who'd written the exercise book.

This book.

Oh man.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

You take the good, you take the bad...

... and you sound like the Facts of Life theme song.

Weird day today.  I find out that I have my very first unsolicited links.  Two of 'em even.  One from our pal Scalzi who quoted the entry below in his piece on AOL Journalers' responses to the election.  And just tonight, Andreakingme of Unhinged made us one of her three picks this week.  (I'd unreservedly return the favor with Unhinged.  Every day, I take a look at at least one or two other AOL Journals in the hopes of finding something I'd actually like to read on a regular basis.  So far, I've been somewhat unsuccessful.  This is not to say that the bulk of what's out here is crap -- it's rather that the bulk of what's out here isn't something that I, personally, care about reading enough to cram it into my daily reading list.  I first followed a link to Unhinged when Scalzi mentioned it the other day, and I thought, "FINALLY."  Andrea gets that it isn't what you say that matters, but how you say it.  It's sorta like how I could listen to James Earl Jones read the phone book.  Style over substance, baby, that's what I look for in reading material.)

So yeah -- not one, but two unsolicited links.  Yay me.

And then, same day, I get into a stupid flame war with some jerk in a different forum.  There's no point in rehashing it -- just know that I was right and he was wrong (but I should stress that this wasn't a difference of opinion thing -- this was me being right and him being a butthead). 

And what am I dwelling on?  My two shiny new links?  Er... no.  The argument with the butthead.  I know that I should let this go.  But it still irks me that this weasel still doesn't get it.

Gonna go to the gym now.  Maybe I'll hit things.  :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

The Governator

Well, that's it then.

I know a lot of people originally feared that the winner of the recall election would have something like 20% of the vote.  As of now (56% reporting), Arnold's got himself 49% of the vote, which is one of those numbers that will probably lead people to start throwing around words like "mandate." 

Random Thoughts:  Was it a particularly good idea for Arnold to give his victory speech when Cruz Bustamante was busy conceding to him?  I mean, especially given the fact that Bustamante is still Lieutenant Governor of California, so the two of them are going to have to, you know, work together?

Here's the list of the top 10 finishers in Part Two of the ballot, according to CNN right now...

Schwarzenegger, Bustamante, McClintock, Camejo, Huffington, Ueberroth, Flynt, Schwartzman, Coleman, Simon

OK, I've heard of nine of these people.

I don't want to cast aspersions on the viability of George Schwartzman as a candidate for governor.  But I have to wonder if 5700 of my fellow Californians really meant to vote for a San Diego businessman "currently ... involved in providing urological services to hospitals and physicians" or if maybe, just MAYBE, it has something to do with the placement of his name on the ballot next to that of Mr. Schwarzenegger and some people who still haven't mastered the art of the punch-card. 

Poor Todd Richard Lewis.  Currently in last place with 109 votes.  There are a LOT of candidates who got less than 1000 votes, but, still, it's gotta hurt to be last.  Ten more votes and he can catch Gene Forte.

Weird world.

Thursday, October 2, 2003


- Got the shoes today. They actually fit. They look a little more little old lady-ish than I'd hoped, but, y'know: navy, wide heel, closed toe, comfy, fit. Yay.

- Yeah, OK, so ER's cliffhanger was a "mistaken identity" thing, but now we've traded off one lead missing for another. Um, kids, if the show is still called ER, what say we put the whole cast in the general vicinity of the hospital, k?

- Cat still cute. She's doing one of those "scratch me here" things, so I gotta post this and give her a little attention.