Sunday, November 30, 2003

Happy LOTR Day!! (2 of 2)

They had red carpet interviews of course.  Each star walked down the red carpet with a handler (or two, couldn't tell).  I only saw the handlers at work twice, and it cracked me up each time.  First time was when Hugo Weaving came up to the interviewer for NZ1 television and he (interviewer) had no clue who Weaving was, so said something like, "Who are we here with?" and handler helpfully says "Hugo Weaving."  (Later, when Peter Jackson introduced each actor to the crowd, he said Weaving played "Agent Elrond."  Heh.)  Second time I saw a handler at work was after Interviewer spoke with Orlando Bloom, Bloom's handler mopped his brow with a little hanky.  I swear to beer; Orlando Bloom had someone to wipe his sweat away.  (Can you say "eBay"?)  Actually, the thing that I want to see on eBay is Bloom's t-shirt.  Peter Jackson was signing shirts like crazy for people lining the red carpet route, so he signed Bloom's shirt too (right in front of Interviewer).  I can't imagine how much money that would get -- but I bet it would be a sizeable donation for a nice charity.

Happy LOTR Day!! (1 of 2)

Are you getting coverage of this?  Tell me you're seeing this.

I just spent two hours in my hotel room watching the "red carpet" thing from Wellington.  (I was going to stop after the first hour, but then I realized the second channel was showing exclusive snippets of the movie every few minutes and, y'know, I'm only human.)

Just in case you're not getting this, let me throw a few facts at you that I've picked up from watching two hours of coverage:  1.  They approximated 100,000 people lining the parade route.  2.  Yes, there was a parade.  3.  Followed by a red carpet that ran all the way down the street.  Sixty meters.  (4.  Shit!  That's what 60 meters is?  That's how far the free-fall was on the Swing.  Damn.)  5.  The mayor of Wellington was there.  6.  So was the Prime Minister of New Zealand.  7.  She wore chain mail.  8.  Yeah, our President wears army fatigues; their Prime Minister wears a jacket made to look like chain mail.  9.  They had to shut down many of the city streets for the parade.  And bus route stops.  Signs said busses were cancelled for "Lord of the Rings Festivities."  10.  Apparently, postage stamps were issued.  (11.  NOTE TO SELF:  Hmmm.  Postage stamps.  Pack flat.  Inexpensive.  Ideal souvenir.  Must look into finding a post office.)  12.  I mean, you'd think they never had a movie premiere here before.  13.  Apparently, they HAVEN'T.  This explains much.  14.  They said 23,000 (or 26,000 -- I've heard different numbers) Kiwis were involved in making the pictures -- either as extras or just working on them.  15.  Included the mother of my funyak guide.  16.  He'd said everyone showed up at the "audition" and they were just like, "Yeah, blonde headed people to the left; brunettes to the right," and costumed 'em up.  17.  The premiere is actually happening in one 750-seat theater, with simultaneous showings at 10 other theaters.  18.  Which means, when you get right down to it, less than 10% of the crowd that was there for the premiere actually gets to see the movie.


How could I possibly be in New Zealand this long and not mention sheep?  The little buggers are everywhere.  They outnumber the people in this country something like 30 to 1.

Saw my first New Zealand sheep when we were touching down at Christchurch airport.  (I looked at my watch and realized that, yes, it was less than 24 hours since I first arrived in this country.)

Ate my first New Zealand sheep last night.  Well, not the whole thing.  Just some "lamb shank."  Don't know why, but I kinda felt sorry for the little lamb.  It's odd because I eat loads of beef, and don't give a hoot for the cows -- and I also eat lamb and (gasp) veal and don't really give much of a thought for the critters in question at all.  But after seeing loads of sheep grazing away in pastures, with their furry little legs reminding me ever so slightly of my kitten, I just felt weird eating it.

It *was* tasty though.

I've been having a bit of trouble finding someone to take my business today.  At first I wanted to do a 1/2-day Nature Walk, but I was apparently the only person signed up and they won't run it with just one person.  Then I thought I'd try tandem hangliding (why the heck not?) -- well, I'll tell you why not:  it's too windy.  They aren't going up today.  Finally settled on a horse trek.  They'll pick me up in an hour or so. 

Update on the sandfly bites:  They ITCH!!!  Woke up in the middle of the night itching.  Went to the "chemist" today to get some stuff for them.  Had barely gotten halfway through asking, "Do you have something to make the sandfly bites stop itching?" when she went behind the counter and gave me a tube of ointment.  It's working.  Sort of. 

Saturday, November 29, 2003

A word on fitness (or lack thereof)

OK, now you know I tried to get in shape for this trip.  I joined a gym and actually went to it (sometimes I went even when Peggy didn't take me -- ok, three times, but still).  And I've been eating a lot less worse than I used to. 

It appears that all this effort has resulted in me being at the very, very low end of "average fitness."  I mean, if my state of fitness was graded, I'd get a D for "barely passing."  When we walked out to the Canyon Swing platform (the brochure called it a "2 or 3 minute walk") I very nearly had to stop to rest.  I get winded walking up the hill to my hotel.  Walking upstream, I got passed by people who were hauling funyaks.  In general, when everyone is walking along at a fast clip, I'm bringing up the rear, moving slow and breathing heavy.  Basically, when you get right do it (putting it in the proper frame of reference), I'm Gimli.

Edited to add:  I should also note that next Saturday, Queenstown is hosting the World Triathlon Championships.  Which means the city has just had an influx of 1600 amazingly fit people -- who are seriously bringing up the average level of fitness around here.

Dart River (3 of ?)

At one point, we stopped for lunch.  We had to take the funyaks (can you drink funyak milk?) about 400m upstream.  This was done by getting out and hauling them.  Now, it only takes one person to haul a funyak (again, partnered with the guide, yay), but the other person still has to walk 400m upstream too.  In the water.  The mystery of the wet boots was instantly solved.

I am not so much of a wuss that I can't walk 400m.  Upstream.  On rocks.  (Or next to the river, but still on rocks.)  But trying it in an icy cold river, in boots that are too big, wasn't entirely pleasant.  It was the least "soft" portion of this adventure.  When we got to the picnic area, we all took off our boots (I poured out a ton of water) and let our feet dry.  We also ripped off our wetsuits, because it was hot and we wanted to dry off and feel the sun.  This, unfortunately, gave the sandflies more to bite.

I mention the sandflies now because I fear they may continue to feature in the story of my trip.  When I was in Australia last year, the little bastards bit the crap out of my arms, and I wasn't even aware of it until the little itchy welts appeared the next day.  New Zealand sand flies are a little different.  They're larger, so you can see them bite.  They're also messier drinkers.  A completed sandfly encounter usually results in a little spot of blood on your skin.  Or running cheerfully down your arm.  (Or ankle, if you took off the boots.)  I don't know whether the bites are going to commence with the itching tomorrow -- I'll keep you posted.

I seem to be dwelling on the icky bits of the adventure, but it was really quite fun.  The jet boat up the river was great, and the views were really extraordinary.  Floating along in the funyak just drinking up all the beauty was splendid.

Dart River (2 of ?)

There's 19 of us (plus guides).  They split us up into two jet boats, and we're off.  Our jet boat driver was really good, and we were darting all around the river.  The river is full of rocks and sandbars and stuff, so boating up it isn't a "drive straight" sort of proposition.  It reminded me much more of what a jetboat videogame would be like, all full of hairpin turns.  It was really fun.

(It was FREEZING.  In addition to the wetsuits and booties, they supplied fleece tops -- of which they made everyone take TWO -- jackets, life jackets, and little wool hats.  I was wearing all that, but what with the wind blowing in our faces and the spray of the water when we did a 360, I was just about adequately warm.  Although the wetness inside my boots still bothered me.)

After jetboating for about 50km (a good long time), we got out and were given our "funyaks."  These were inflatable boats loosely based on the shape of a kayak.  We also took off all that fleece and realized that (1) the sun had burned through the clouds and (2) when you're not tearing around in a jet boat, it was actually quite warm.  We got into the funyaks, two to a boat, and rowed/floated (mostly floated) back.  Since I was travelling alone, I got partnered with the guide.  (Advantages:  (1)  He knew what he was doing; (2) I hardly had to paddle at all; (3)  I heard all the good commentary.  I'm telling you people, travelling alone has its benefits.)  So, we funyak back for 8 km.

That was what we DID, but it wasn't at all the POINT of the trip.  ("Ooooo.  I paddled a funyak. How exciting.")  The point was the freakin' scenery around the Dart, which was amazing.  These gorgeous snow-capped mountains, dropping down to beautiful green treelines, all around a sun-dappled river.  (Yes, "dappled."  I thought that word about a billion times today.)  It was beautiful.  (I took a lot of pictures.  Hope they came out.)  Guide guy said that one of the mountains there was that amazing opening shot of "Two Towers."  Coulda been -- after awhile, all the breathtaking snow-capped moutains started to look alike.  They got them some serious scenery in these parts.

Dart River (1 of ?)

Weather was supposed to be really pretty today, so I decided to take advantage and do something water-related.  I wanted to ride a jetboat.  There was one over the river over which I swung (the Shotover) but I figured I was looking for something different.  I had the whole day, so decided to do a full day "soft adventure" on the Dart River.

I wholly approve of this whole "soft adventure" concept -- I want to do the adventurey things, but not actually break a sweat.  ;)

Queenstown is on the bank of a lake.  A really long lake.  The Dart River empties into it at the other end.  So the whole adventure started when the bus picked us up and drove for about, I dunno, an hour, just to get to where we were starting.

Arriving at their home base, we were then fitted (I use the word in the broadest sense of the term) with wetsuits and booties.  Now, I've worn a wetsuit (diving) -- nobody would've actually let me go underwater with this thing fitting as loosely as it was.  But since we weren't diving, I let it go.  My booties were also too big.  Letting this go turned out to be one of my less smooth moves.

Here's the thing...  we were scheduled to jet boat and "funyak"... neither of these things actually involves getting IN the water (unless by accident)... so I didn't think it was real important for the wetsuit booties to fit.  The fact, however, that when we put on the booties, they were still wet from the day before should have served as a warning sign.

Friday, November 28, 2003


Monday is a national holiday in New Zealand.

I lie.  But from all the publicity it's getting, I wouldn't be surprised if they let the kids out of school.

In case you missed it (and you may have), "Return of the King" is having its world premiere in Wellington on Monday.  (Insert much fanfare here.)  This is a HUGE deal.  Massive.  I mean, the news was promising "full coverage starting at 5:00."  The NEWS!  Covering "the red carpet, all the stars, and the man himself."  "The man" of course being Peter Jackson.  They don't even call him by name.  He is truly the man.  Today's newspaper had a special section on the movie.  They discussed how Viggo Mortenson showed up at his own press conference barefoot.  Am I the only one who thinks this is odd?  Not that he was barefoot -- that he had his own press conference??

I seriously miscalculated the impact of this movie series on this country.  I think this is because I come from Los Angeles.  In L.A., movie filmings take place everywhere, and the acceptable response to them is bemused annoyance.  We're LOCALS.  We're ABOVE THAT.

Not so here.  I mean, yeah, I expect there's a bazillion fly-by-night operations trying to capitalize on the success of the movies.  But beyond that, there's just this whole feeling of national pride over them, and a genuine excitement about the opening.  Kinda nice to see.

Weeeeeeeeeeee! (3 of ?)

I joked with the Swing guys a bit -- this was part of their job, making me comfy and all.  The nice man attached my carabiner clip to the swing apparatus and said I was attached.  I said, "Are you sure?"  He said yes.  I said, "Do you swear to G-d that I'm attached?"  He said that swearing to G-d doesn't mean anything for him, but that he'd swear "to beer."  I looked at him and decided this was the most serious oath he could take.  I must be attached.

All things considered, it did not take me a long time to actually jump.  I stood at the edge of the platform getting really nervous, but since I somehow knew I was going to do this, I just did it.  As I was rushing down toward the canyon (hi mom), my exact thought was, "Holy shit, this is fun!"

They hauled me back up, and I was shaking like a leaf.  All things considered, I did not want to go again, but was really pleased to have done this once.  (Photographic evidence will be purchased at an outrageous price tomorrow, and posted upon my return.)

Weeeeeeeeeeee! (2 of ?)

So, as soon as he calls for 3 more people down at the jump platform --

-- let me take a moment here to talk about the canyon swing.  It is definitely a SWING and not a bungy.  One thing I did not realize, though, is that it is rather longer than some bungy jumps.  (Many of the folks I was with had done a 50m bungy.  This, as previously mentioned, was about twice that.  But all the folks who had bungied agreed that this was less scary.  So YAY for the swingness of the Swing.)  Nonetheless, there is a significant bit at the start when you're pretty much just heading downward into a canyon at a rapid pace.  After we saw the first guy do it, the word "jump" seemed to describe things.--

So, I get down there and sign a really nicely written waiver of liability.  (It was a single page, easily numbered paragraphs, big type, and very clearly meant, "I will not sue you ever."  I was impressed.  I hoped their engineers were as good as their lawyers.)

They put me in this harness thing that included a seat sitting under/against my butt.  I waited while a few others jumped (several who went before me wanted to go again -- I considered this a good sign) and eventually it was my turn.

Weeeeeeeeeeee! (1 of ?)

Yeah, so, 4:30 I meet up the shuttle bus to go out to the Canyon Swing.  There are 9 of us on the bus -- 6 from a tour group, me, and two other people travelling solo.  It is at this point that I realize I am the oldest person in the group.  Bad thought.

We drive up to a point over the Shotover Canyon, and then walk out to the swingoff point.  (I get winded walking out there.  I make a note to self to switch to a wussier glacier walk than the one I am signed up for.  After all the emails I've sent the Glacier Walk Guides, I expect they know me by now.)  We stand at a viewing area a little ways away, while the first three people from our group go down to the swing and put on their harnesses.

I look down at the canyon below.  It does not look that far away.  The first person jumps.  Now I'm scared.  I see him WAY down in the canyon below, and he looks really, really tiny.  I previously mentioned my lack of depth perception -- now that there is a person down in the canyon, I have a frame of reference and realize exactly what 109 meters looks like.  I realize I'm going to have to do this soon or I'm going to give up.

I also realize that there are no port-a-potties out here.  The men in our group just go out and find trees.  (Clearly, the desire to empty one's bladder after seeing the first guy jump was a universal one.)  The four of us girls just crossed our legs.

Auckland to Queenstown

Last night, I walked a few blocks to find a restaurant for supper. Didn't want to go too far because you never know when that Massive Travel Exhaustion is going to hit. Besides, there didn't seem anywhere to go -- the airport hotel wasn't near anything except other airport hotels.

Stayed awake until 9:30, which seemed perfect -- normally, I'd have wanted to be up a bit later my first night, but I had to wake up at 6:00 this morning to catch my flight out, so it was good.

On the flight to Christchurch, Qantas served not peanuts, not pretzels, but ... wait for it ... little chocolate croissants. On the continued flight to Queenstown -- which was less than an hour -- they apologized for not having time for coffee and tea service and offered only a little snack. Which turned out to be a huge chocolate chip cookie. Man, Southwest could learn a lot from these people.

Checked into my Queenstown hotel (found Supershuttle from the airport! Yay me!) and was pleasantly surprised by my room-- it is huge, beautiful, and impeccably clean. Extremely helpful desk staff said they'd book any Queenstown activity I wanted (no booking charge). I said, "er... canyon swing?" She rang them up and booked me for the 4:30 today. Which is good, because I have only 3 hours or so to freak out anticipating it, rather than overnight.

Yes, Andrea, I'm doing this alone. I travel alone a lot. It can get a little lonely at restaurants, but otherwise, it's great. You get to meet lots of people, so that's fun. You can be extremely selfish in choosing what to do -- something I rather enjoy on vacation. :-) Besides which, I've got all you guys to tell about it. Seriously, I don't think I would've travelled alone nearly as much if it weren't for easily available internet access.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

The Journey So Far (Part 4 of ?)

After that, Customs was a breeze.  Even though they wanted to look at my hiking boots as part of their Agricultural hold.  (And the boots were at the very bottom of my suitcase.  And I told him I'd cleaned them in anticipation of this.)  Still, I "declared" it; they looked; everyone was happy.  I was still laughing over Immigration, and besides, I was on holiday, this is the FUN part.

...they did, however, send BOTH my suitcases through the big scanner.  Now, I made a point of putting all the film in my carry on.  Kodak's website says film is ok in a carry on but they say if it gets scanned more than 5 times, you should be concerned.  So far, my film has gone through 2 little scanners and the agricultural one ... and might hit two more tomorrow.  So who knows if any pictures will ever come out.

ANYWAY, we then reach the Find The Airport Shuttle part of the trip, which, like I said, has generally been my downfall.  My travel agent told me to take the "complimentary shuttle" to the airport hotel.  There were no signs for "hotel shuttles," so I followed the signs for "shuttles."  This led me to a $30 shuttle into Auckland.  No, that ain't it.  The nice man at the shuttle bus asked me where I was going.  "Airport hotel shuttle?" says I.  "Over there," says he. 

He sent me a $12 bus that made a circuit of all airport hotels.  I broke into my suitcase to look at my itinerary again.  Yep.  Complimentary shuttle.  Back into the terminal for me, looking for the sign or the help desk or something.  Was just about to give up when I looked outside the window and saw a bus with the name of my hotel on it.  Score!

So, here I am.  I checked in and asked the porter for the hotel's business center.  He proudly escorted me to a room with one (1) computer and printer in it, and told me to buy a card at the reception desk.  Someone was using the computer already, so I waited, and now it's my turn.

Ooops.  And now I have 6 minutes left of my original hour.  Gotta run!

The Journey So Far (Part 3 of ?)

Now, there are two things that seem to always happen to me when travelling internationally:  I get an Immigration Officer with a sense of humor; and my transport from the airport will be f'd up.

Looks like things were going true to plan.  When I got to Immigration, the place was empty.  Big switchback lines with nobody in them.  Just two agents waiting at the counter, one of them helping one passenger... and me.

The switchbacks were arranged so you could pretty much walk straight through them to the counter.  As I approached, the second agent pulled the barrier on the last open one so now I could NOT walk directly to the counter.  I looked to both sides, but both paths looked to be cut off at the end.  I looked again.  Could not see how to get to the counter without jumping the barrier, and that seemed like a bad idea.

The other passenger had now left and the agent at the counter started laughing.  "If you can't figure out how to get to the counter, you can't get into the country," she laughs, "It's a test."  I'm giving her my best "Look, I've been travelling for 20 hours" deer-in-the-headlights look, but, really, I'm laughing my butt off with her.  This should not be difficult.

Eventually, her partner says, "go to your right."  Sure enough, at the end of the line to my right, it did loop around -- I just hadn't seen it -- blame either my tiredness or my lack of depth perception.  So, I followed the loop around and got to the front of the line, where there's a red line painted on the ground that you're supposed to wait at until the next agent calls you.

Now, remember, I'm the only one there.  But still, I'm big on following rules (especially with agents of a foreign government) so I pull myself to a halt at the red line.  My momentum keeps me going and a kinda trip forward over it and pull myself back -- like I was almost stepping off a curb into oncoming traffic.  Agent -- still laughing -- waves me forward, and we get through the transaction in giggles. 

The Journey So Far (Part 2 of ?)

Ah, the Sydney airport.  Like any other big city international airport, it's one big Duty Free shop with the occasional gate.  Sat and read for three hours -- tried to get on the net but couldn't find a terminal -- and got on the flight to Auckland.

OK -- several things were better about the flight to Auckland.  The first, clearly, was that it was only a couple hours.  We were only allowed to use the video screens for 90 minutes, which was a shame, because (as I'm sure the astute readers have already figured out) this was a flight out of Australia, so I got the way better movie selection.  Also, this was one of those planes with only two classes of service, so somehow my Business Class ticket transformed itself into a First Class seat, so I got one of them seats that reclined all the way flat into a bed.  Clearly, this would've been put to much better use had I had it for the 13 hour flight, but it was still very comfy as a lounge chair.

When I got to the Auckland airport, I high-tailed it over to Immigration.  On my way, I passed a pinball machine for Terminator 2.  It dawned on me that people all over the planet likely knew who my Governor was, and would mock me for it if they got the chance.  Made note to not say I was from California, if asked.

(My, this is turning into a long entry for what was basically sitting on an airplane.)

The Journey So Far (Part 1 of ?)

First, the administrative note.  I'm writing from a hotel "business center" (more on that later) and, of course, being charged by the second.  So rather than write everything out in Word and cut and paste and move it around into the right amount of entries, I'll just write as little as I think will actually get posted and move to the next entry, k?

So, my first flight went direct from LA to Sydney.  I was sitting next a man from Sydney.  Although we sat about a foot away from each other and chatted on and off for 13 hours, we never exchanged names.  But he was pleasant enough.  Although he did seem somewhat puzzled by the fact that I was only passing through Sydney -- seems the idea that someone would actually want to holiday in New Zealand rather than Australia was incomprehensible to him.  I placated him by telling him I'd been to Australia before.  (He seemed satisfied.)

He also could not comprehend why I would do this journey alone.  "Why isn't your sister coming with you?"  (Um, because she takes vacations with her husband, not me?)  "Why aren't you meeting up with a tour group?"  (Because no tours do what I want.)  This can't be that unusual.  I mean, it isn't like I'm going to Vietnam by myself or anything -- it's New Zealand.  Civilized country. Modern medicine.  (None of the shots were for New Zealand.)  I speak the language and everything.  I just couldn't get why he couldn't get it.

Anyway, we chatted and ate and slept for 13 hours 40 minutes (the in-flight movies were a disappointment.  Qantas apparently scheduled all the GOOD movies for the "flights out of Australia" and ten movies I had no interest in seeing for the "flights into Australia" this month -- so I didn't spend much time with the in-flight video).  I read though.  And then we arrived in ... Sydney.



Wednesday, November 26, 2003

One Last Bitch Before I Go

The story so far: I wanna walk on a glacier in New Zealand. (Yes, they have glaciers there. Who knew?) I asked my travel agent to book me a three day tour that gets me from Queenstown to the glacier, lets me walk on it, and then sends me on a train on to Christchurch. Sound good?

I get my vouchers from my travel agent. They do not include the address of the hotel I'm staying at near the glacier, so I write the Glacier Tour Company. They send me an email back saying that I'm NOT on the three-day tour, but the two-day tour with an extra day. The difference, they note, is that the two-day tour does not include the glacier walk.

I call my travel agent. She apologizes, and books me separately on the glacier walk (on my free day) with the Glacier Walk Company. She sends me a voucher. Says it departs from their office at 9:30 a.m.

I go to the Glacier Walk Company's website (just to see packing requirements and stuff). They have two kinds of walks. Neither one departs at 9:30. This strikes me as odd.

I send Glacier Walk Company an email. "Which walk am I on and when does it leave?" I do not hear back.

This morning ... figuring that I'm leaving tonight and would like this straightened out ... I call my travel agent. I get her on the phone and inquire. She says she'll check with the person who booked it and get back to me.

OK ... now, I've been really good about not naming actual names here (to protect the guilty) ... but you have to realize how many companies are involved in getting me on a glacier. I call My Travel Agent. She calls Her Australian Contact. Who has apparently booked this through A Local Company. Who has itself booked with the Glacier Walk Company. So there are FOUR organizations involved in this. It's like a bad game of telephone.

I get a phone message back from my travel agent. She tells me not to worry; the walk has been "confirmed and reconfirmed" with the ACTUAL GLACIER WALK COMPANY for 9:30. So I can go on my trip with a light heart; the walk is all set exactly as she told me.


I just got an email back from the Glacier Walk Company. The walk is at 9:15. I'm to show up at their office at 8:45.

I can't decide whether to be relieved that I've caught this in time, or livid that my travel agent TOTALLY LIED TO ME.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


About 25 hours from now, my flight to New Zealand should be taking off.

There are two things that people are asking me around now, neither of which I want to know the answer to: 1) How long is your flight? and 2) What's the time-change?

All I need to know is this: Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. local time I leave LAX. Saturday at 11:00 a.m. -- four flights and an overnight at an Auckland airport hotel later -- I arrive in Queenstown.

This isn't exactly the sanest way to travel (and I've sort of arranged an extra day in Queenstown to acclimate) but it does have the significant advantage of being free. (Yay for frequent flier miles.) So I'm not complaining that I'm travelling for ... however long I'll be travelling. I just don't want to KNOW that in actual numbers.

It's part of my strategy to defeat jet lag. The strategy, in this particular case, encompasses several points:
1. Ignore time on plane. Eat when hungry, sleep when possible.
2. At destination, force self to stay awake to a decent hour. (On theatre trips, this is generally accomplished by watching "The loudest and most obnoxious musical I can find." On non-theatre trips, different methods must be used. I'll tell you this, though -- I've got to do better than that one time I found myself in a hotel room watching cricket on television.)
3. Next morning, wake up at something approaching morning.

Some experts say it takes one day to make up for each hour of time change. I don't have TIME for that -- I give myself one day -- two tops -- to get adjusted.

So, you might see an update or two while I'm trying to keep myself awake. Just don't ask me what time that might be. I have no idea.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Before I forget

One last thing on the watch.

My new Timex is "water-resistant to 30 meters." The instructions tell me that it is not made for diving and that I should not go diving with the watch.

Fair enough. Where do I buy a 90-foot snorkel?

Customer Service

I don't want to come off sounding like some old fart complaining about the days when doctors used to make house calls and the guy at the corner grocer knew your name. But, dagnabbit, what the heck is up with the lack of customer service these days?

OK, on Saturday, when I was at Mall Number One, I saw a really nice coat in the shop of an Outdoor Wear Retailer. It was a good coat, which I didn't entirely need, but it would certainly be great to have. I was too focussed on my Soft Kit Bag mission, though, to take time out for coats. I put it out of my mind.

This is what I do with things I'm not sure whether I should buy. Most of the time, I'll forget the item by the next day. But if, on the next day, I'm thinking, "Damn, I shoulda bought the coat," I'll go back for it.

And I did. The next day, I found myself at Mall Number Two. Mall Number Two also had a branch of Outdoor Wear Retailer, so I went in to try on the coat. I tried on the Small. It was huge. I stood there in the middle of the store looking pitiful for awhile, all wrapped up in this big coat -- until a Cheerful Salesperson came up to me. I asked if the coat perhaps came in Extra Small. No, it did not. Cheerful Salesperson added that it she didn't think it was too big. I lifted my arm and flapped the bit of sleeve that was hanging over my hand. Cheerful Salesperson conceded the sleeves were a bit on the long side. She said I could fold them up. On a $20 coat, maybe. If I was gonna buy this thing, it would have to fit.

I pointed out to Cheerful Salesperson that other coats from the manufacturer came in Extra Small -- I had seen them on the rack there. Was she sure this didn't come in Extra Small? She was. I said that us smaller people need to keep warm too and started muttering something about discrimination against people with short arms.

Realizing she wasn't going to make a sale, Cheerful Salesperson gave me her scripted exit line: "OK. If I can help you with anything, my name is Cheerful Salesperson."

I called after her, "Well, you can't help me, can you?" I mean, REALLY. Why offer to help me when you have been of absolutely NO help at all to this point?

Today, I found myself back in Mall Number One to buy some other things. I walked by Outdoor Wear Retailer and went in, on a lark. Looked at the shelf of coats. Yep. An Extra Small right there on the rack.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Takes a licking (part 2 of 2)

Now, the watch also came with a "Timex Kids Watch Protection Plan."  If your kid loses the watch within a year, Timex will replace it for $10, "no questions asked."

Boy did that take me back.  My first "real" watch was a Timex.  Little round face/black band.  Conveniently it was a timeless style.  I say that because my second watch was a little round Timex with a black band.  As was my third.

Yep.  Lost that little bugger twice.  And I was so afraid my mom would think I was irresponsible if she knew I lost it, I saved up all my money and replaced the damn thing.  Twice.  (And there was no "Kids Watch Protection Plan" then.  I had to pay the FULL FIFTEEN BUCKS for that thing.)

The really ridiculous part was that my first watch -- the one my parents had given me -- had gotten wet.  This was before the days of cheap water resistant watches, so when I took it on a water ride at an amusement park, the inside fogged up and -- once it cleared -- I ended up with a little green ring of mold growing around the inside of my watch.

The first one.  Which I lost.  When I bought the first replacement, I was afraid mom would notice that it somehow got cleaner, so I had to get this one wet too, to recreate the mold.  I was so excited when I managed to fog up the inside -- the idea that I was actually ruining a brand new watch never crossed my mind.  I just had to make sure my parents never knew I lost the first watch.

And when I lost the second one, it was the same routine.  Although, by now, I was an expert at getting mold to grow inside a Timex.  Still told good time, though.

Takes a licking (part 1 of 2)

Bought me a Timex today.  Actually, it's a Kids' Timex.  I already have a watch -- two actually -- but for the trip, I wanted something (1) water-resistant; (2) with an alarm; and (3) cheap enough that I didn't care if it fell off in a river someplace.  My watches didn't meet those requirements.  But I saw a $14 Kids' Timex at Target and thought, "That's my watch!"  (Target actually had a cheaper model but it was by some company I'd never heard of, and I wondered if the battery would last a month.)

So, I bought the Timex.

Now, I was all set to tell you a cute story about Timexes of my childhood, but I need to take brief digression into the instructions.  It begins with pointing out the five buttons on the watch (all of which are clearly labelled) and then giving each one a number.  The instructions then read:

"Instruction guide -- Instructions start from time display.  Press button 1 once.  Press button 3 two times to select mode.  Press button 4 then button 1.  Press button 1 (button 2) several times or hold to increase (decrease) digits of display.  Press button 1 or 2.  Press button 5, hold for 3 seconds.  Beep tone."

I swear to the Almighty; that's what it says.

I just threw them out and "punched buttons the way a 12 year old would" and it works fine.


Saturday, November 22, 2003

Dear Diary... Part 1 of 2

I never really thought of my journal as ... a JOURNAL ... but I feel like just recounting what happened today.

1.  Woke up.  Showered.  Played with cat.  Prepared to shop for "Kit bag" and "Reef Walking Shoes."

2.  Realized I didn't know what "Reef Walking Shoes" were either.  Took research break.  OK, now I'm ready to shop.

3.  Noticed Jasmine being so cute in the sink.  Stopped for photo break.  NOW, ready to shop.

4.  Go to REI.  REI is having huge sale.  (Yay!)  For winter things.  (Boo!)  They have Reef Walking Shoes.  (Yay!)  But only in size 11.  (Boo!)  They checked their system and another local REI has them.  (Yay!)  But it's like an hour's drive away.  (Boo!)

5.  They had some Teva sandals, though.  I could use some Teva sandals.  Although not for $60.  (I had a back-up plan here.)

6.  After my executive decision (with much thanks to Olddog for his input) that a "kit bag" is, as far as I'm concerned, a duffel, I thought I'd get one at REI.  They were out of mediums -- only had Large, Extra Large, Giant, and Colossal.  Left REI with nothing. 

7.  Put back-up Teva plan into action.  Went to Designer Shoe Warehouse -- which seems to specialize in off-season stuff.  They had a big pile of Tevas in my size (which I knew from that bridesmaid shoe shopping experience).  Found some.  Cheaper than REI.  Yay me.  Also bought some flip-flops.

.... a brief digression on flip-flops.  That is just one fashion craze I do not get.  Call me old-fashioned but I just can't wrap my brain around the idea of people wearing flip-flops indoors.  Like they were shoes or something.  Flip-flops belong on the beach, or by the pool.  Period.  Which is why I never bothered to buy any.  'cepting now, I'm going to find myself near water.  So I got some.  I actually got 2 pair, as they were 1 for $9.90 and 2 for $10.  (They're ugly, but cheap and functional.)

Dear Diary... Part 2 of 2

8.  Planned to go to local mall.  Local mall with Rand McNally store.  (And a lovely tea shop where I really like having tea.) 

9.  Went to Mall.  Rand McNally store was boarded up.  Not a good sign.  Pouted all through tea.

10.  Stopped at LensCrafters to get glasses adjusted.  Remembered to bring my coupon for free lens cleaning wipes.  (Thought they might be handy on the road.)

11.  Stopped at Macy's -- thought I'd check out their duffel situation.  Hidden in the corner of their luggage department was a big pile of packable duffels (each in its own little carrying case) of varying sizes, ALL ON SALE.  Score!  Bought a medium sized one and dubbed it "Kit Bag."  Bought a small and named it "Small Overnight Bag for Village." 

... Walking out of Macy's, I overheard this guy reading the directory and saying, "Fine fashion jewelry?  Screw that.  I want the Cheap Crap."  Cracked me up.  I thought, "Here's a man who does not watch 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'"

12.  Came home.  Actually FINISHED two things I needed to do before I go.  Let's cross them babies off the list.

Woo-hoo.  I believe now is time to watch another few hours of The Two Towers (Special Hoo-Ha Extended Edition With Many Bells And Whistles).

There's Hair in my Sink!!

Just look at all the hair in my sink:


Friday, November 21, 2003

T minus... Dang

When I was paying for my Hep B vaccine this morning, the lady taking my credit card asked where I was going (New Zealand and Fiji), when I was leaving (Wednesday) and whether I'd packed yet.

Er... no.  Hell, I still haven't bought a "soft kit bag" yet.  I'm going to have to get around to that packing business any day now.  And my Dry Erase board has a great big list of Things To Do Before I Go.

And what is frustrating (in that exciting sort of way) is that NOTHING is ever DONE.  I make progress on a whole lot of fronts, but I still haven't reached the point where I can check anything off.  (Don't you hate that?  Like these damn shots.  I've been working on this for about a month now, and have finally been poked with a grand total of five of these little buggers, so I'm set for the trip.  Of course, there's a footnote on that -- I need to get the third HepB shot in about six months.  Will I ever be DONE?)

Anyway, today is when I realized I've gone from "all the time in the world" to "There is NO WAY I'm going to get everything done."  I think it hit me when I checked eBags and discovered they can't get anything to me before I go.  Yipes.  Which means, tomorrow, I've got to:

- go to the mall and try to find me a soft kit bag or reasonable facsimile thereof

- go to a bookstore and buy some books to read for the flight(s).

- see if there's a store left in California that has summer clothes for sale in November

- e-mail the whitewater rafting people and try to book a ride

- put my entire schedule into my PDA and figure out if any more blanks need filling

- Oh!  Buy extra batteries for the PDA

Not to mention a whole lot of stuff I have to get done (mostly theatre critic stuff) before I hit the road.  Sky.  Whatever I'll be hitting.

It's the combination of terrific excitement and total freak-out-ness.  Eeeee.

The plot thickens on the Ipol

Poked around on the 'net and found an actual serial number for .5 mL of Ipol in an integrated syringe. Seeing as this was exactly what I needed -- and exactly what my pharmacist said they didn't carry -- I was livid. There was a good ten minutes of me sitting here being really pissed off, imagining myself returning the vial to the pharmacy tomorrow morning (threatening to sue 'em for fraud if they refused to take it back) and making them order the right stuff immediately, which I'd get the nurse to inject for me first thing Monday.

Yeah. Then I googled it a bit more and found out they don't make it any more. No shit. My pharmacist spoke the truth. Of the two online vaccine ordering places I found (and isn't life cool that pharmacies can order all this stuff on the internet?), both of them were only carrying the stupid ten-dose vial.

Still not sure what I'm s'posed to do with the remaining 9 doses. Four doses is what it takes to immunize a kid. I'm wondering if there's some local pediatrician or clinic or something I could donate it to so two little underprivileged kids can get their polio shots. I doubt it -- I mean, would you accept a vial of Ipol from some stranger? Still, seems a horrible waste of good vaccine (not to mention my money).

Edited -- It pretty much went as suggested in the comments, with the possible exception of the receipt.  My nurse (who was doing the injecting) said her daughter-in-law worked for a pediatrician, and she was pretty sure said pediatrician would take the Ipol.  No receipt was possible since I didn't have the donee present.  I doubt it would have mattered anyway as (1) isn't the receipt unnecessary for something in this price range? and (2) I expect a pediatrician doesn't count as a charitable organization -- even if said pediatrician promises to use the Ipol for charitable purposes.  (I'll have to look that up.)  In any event, for now, I'll just satisfy myself with the fact that I'm not wasting 9 doses of polio vaccine and somewhere two kids will get vaccinated 'cause of me.  Oh, makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.  Or maybe that's the just the Ipol stinging.  Hard to tell.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

How to save megabucks

Yes, that's me.  Your purveyor of useful travel tips. Here's a good one: If you're going to go someplace for which you need shots, get them at a travel clinic.

According to the CDC website, travellers to Fiji need: HepA, HepB and tetanus shots (if not current) and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.

You've already heard the story of my tetanus shot. I also got a HepA and the first of three HepB's. Here's what I might have left out: Each shot costs $100. And they aren't covered by my insurance. I can't recall whether that's true for the tetanus -- but just covering myself from Hepatitis A and B is going to set me back $400.

And now... the polio vaccine. Being as my doctor isn't a pediatrician, he doesn't have a supply of the stuff on the shelf. He therefore wrote me a prescription for it. 0.5 mL of Ipol. The plan was for me to pick it up at the pharmacy, then bring it to him and get shot with it.

So far so good -- except it got called in to the wrong pharmacy, so things were all messed up, and we decided to try again this week. I'm leaving next Wednesday, so we set my appointment for Friday. They called in the prescription yesterday. My pharmacy doesn't stock the shit regularly either, so they had to order out. Today it showed up. I went in to pick it up and was presented with a bill for three hundred dollars. Now, okay, I was expecting $100. But $300? For a single freakin' polio booster. Come ON.

Turns out, you can't just buy 0.5 mL of the stuff. It comes in 5 mL vials. In other words, I had to buy myself TEN DOSES of polio vaccine, just to get the one I need. Have these Ipol people got a scam running or WHAT?

Now, if I had more time, I would've cancelled my vaccination appointment then and there, and made an appointment at my local travel clinic for a dose of what I'm certain would have been reasonably priced Ipol -- but since I couldn't guarantee I'd be able to get to them before I go, I'm stuck with the original plan. And the leftover Ipol.

I can't exactly auction this stuff on eBay. D'you know anyone who needs polio vaccine? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


The UPS tracking number informs me that my package from is sitting at home on my doorstep as we speak.  Which leads to an interesting question.  Do I ...

- Stay at the office and work late, so that I'll have absolutely nothing to do here tomorrow?

- Go home and do some reviews?

- Go home and play with the cat?

- Go home and fold laundry while I enjoy my extended edition Two Towers DVD?

Hey everyone!  It's laundry night!

Update: Ironically, that didn't happen.  I had to put gas in the car and take some stuff to the dry cleaner, and by the time I got home, I didn't really have four hours.

I did, however, have an hour and a half, and the other surprise in my mailbox was that Netflix sent Finding Nemo, which I had never seen.

Awww.  The poor widdle fishy.  (I cried twice.  I'm such a girl.)


Sorry the font is so big below.  That's because this is Arial 10 point

This is Arial 12 point

And this is Arial 14 point.

Famous Guitar Riffs

When the stage musical The Who's Tommy opened on Broadway, I remember seeing an interview with someone involved in the show, who talked about how difficult it was to put "Pinball Wizard" on a stage.  Not so much the actual staging of the number, but the idea that "Pinball Wizard" was such a well-known song, you risked trouble by messing with it.

And what that person said was that "Pinball Wizard" starts with what has got to be one of the three most famous guitar riffs in the history of rock music.

And I thought, "Yeah."

And then I thought, "What are the other two?" 

I am certain one of them is the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction."

Any thoughts on the other?

I have been wondering about this (on and off) for years.

The other night, I went to the Simon & Garfunkel concert, and was surprised at how distinct and recognizable the riff for "Hazy Shade of Winter" was -- even more recognizable than "Sound of Silence," which is obviously the much more successful song.  But as strong as the opening riff for "Hazy Shade of Winter" is, I just can't rank it up there with "Pinball Wizard" and "Satisfaction" because the song wasn't that huge.

So, what's the obvious guitar riff I'm missing?

Monday, November 17, 2003

Feel the Joy!

OK, everybody remember the story of the cel I was bidding on?  Well, the auction ended and I got a call (this was not an eBay auction) that I won!  For the minimum bid!  I pick it up tomorrow.  Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.

Now I feel safe to share the details.  It's a cel from "Great Mouse Detective."  (Being as I'm both a Disney fan and something of a Sherlockian, it's pretty likely that I'd go for that film in particular.)  The cel is of Basil with Dawson and Little Olivia -- although it is from a night-time scene, so everyone's color is somewhat muted.

I was amazed as all get-out to see the cel.  I've been looking for a "Great Mouse Detective" cel pretty much forever -- I've never seen one at any of the Disney parks, any animation art stores I've happened upon, or on eBay whenever I've checked. 

So, picture me at an event I didn't even know was having a charity auction.  They mention they have some cels from various studios for auction, and "a few" from Disney.  What are the odds, eh?  They had two Disney cels and both were from "Great Mouse Detective."  I expect most of the other people were disappointed, as "Great Mouse Detective" isn't exactly one of your more popular Disney flicks -- but I could barely contain myself.  (I mean they had two.  I got to choose which one to bid on.  Amazing.)

Anyway, a month later and it's mine for the minimum bid.  I paid for it this morning, and I get to pick it up tomorrow.  Eeeee!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Oh man, I ticked off a trekkie

With respect to my entry below, Lisa wrote:

>>I don't know why people always knock Bill Shatner...take a look at Patrick Stewart sometime if you want to see "overacting." Sorry, I love Star Trek...have loved it since I was 13 years old (I was a fan of the ORIGINAL show when it actually aired primetime---9 pm Central on Friday nights...) Get a little defensive about it now and then.<<

And I've got enough to say in reply to that to fill up a whole entry.

1. Thanks for dropping by, Lisa. No need to apologize. I respect your opinion. Of course, we will now commence with the complete and utter disagreement part of our program. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the input.

2. Just to be clear, I got Star Trek cred. I watched the original as a kid, and even went to the World's First Star Trek convention. I loved the show, read the Fotonovels, had a Star Fleet manual and Enterprise blueprints, and kicked ass at Star Trek trivia. Rather than count sheep, if I couldn't sleep, I'd try to rattle off a Star Trek episode for every letter of the alphabet. ("The Apple," "Bread and Circuses," "Catspaw," ... scary, isn't it?)

3. But I grew out of it. I didn't even realize I'd grown out of it until I happened to catch an episode on the Sci-Fi channel recently. The cardboard sets, the dorky costumes, the cheesy music behind every fight sequence, the hi-tech stuff that looked really low-tech, the treatment of women (which I'd thought progressive at the time, but which now seems, er, not quite PC) -- all this I could forgive. But I just couldn't see clear to see my way past good old William Shatner falling in love with every female who wears too much eye shadow.

4. OK, yeah, "You Klingon bastard, you killed my son," was from the movies, not the TV show, and clearly not his best work. But, come on -- repeating a line, spacing the words farther apart does not give it any more emotion.

5. Picking on Patrick Stewart?? Them's fightin' words, missy. Stewart is a classically trained actor with a list of Shakespearean credits a mile long. I had the privilege of seeing him on stage with his one-man show of "A Christmas Carol" and it brought me to tears. The man can bring a dozen characters to life by changing his voice and mannerisms. Shatner was TJ Hooker.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

He's Dead, Jim

Saw "Master and Commander" today, and the truly horrible thing about the movie is I had "Star Trek" flashbacks.

Yes, I know.  I'm a geek.  But I'm not so geeky that I frequently have "Star Trek" flashbacks.  It isn't like I see anything with a security officer in it and think, "Dude, you're dead by the first commercial."  What I'm saying here is that for something to give me "Star Trek" flashbacks, it has to affirmatively be enough like "Star Trek" to dredge the memories up from my hazy childhood.

And there were some places in "Master and Commander" in which Russell Crowe's character (Captain Aubrey) was decidedly Kirk-like.  And let's be real here -- if there's an actor you want to model your performance on, perhaps you want to aim a little higher than William Shatner.

Now, obviously, there's going to be some sort of overlap.  I mean, "Star Trek" was created on a Navy model -- they don't call it a space SHIP for nothing.  So, yeah, "Master and Commander" whistles are going to sound like "Star Trek" attention whistles, because they're both working from the same model.  Similarly, captains are going to be stuck wearing a little too much glittery braid on their uniforms in either universe.  But there's something more than that going on here.

I don't know whether it was Captain Aubrey's likeable commanderness; his casual friendship with the ship's doctor; his thinking outside the box; or his obvious flirtation with the only female in the movie ... or maybe it was the way Russell Crowe wore his vest too tight over his sizeable midsection ... or that when Aubrey wondered if he'd done something personal to the enemy ship's captain (like killing a relative), I immediately pictured Shatner yelling, "You Klingon bastard, you killed my son!" ... but somewhere I got the distinct impression that Captain Aubrey and Captain Kirk were created from the same mold.

Really.  About two hours in, I started checking the other officers for pointy ears and signs of logic.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Memo to Theatre- and Concert-goers

Unless you have a cell phone that is actually SILENT when you put it on vibrate, turn the damn thing off.

(Like it is somehow less distracting for me to listen to your purse buzz softly and dance around your lap for a minute and a half.)

Pack Up My Troubles ... Where?

OK, I'm leaving in less than two weeks so it's time for some serious pre-travel purchasing. I've already acquired something on the scale of 4 pairs of shorts (which pretty much triples my previous collection) and two swimsuits (the second of which was purchased on the internet - and, to my great surprise, actually fits enough to be wearable).

But now I'm stumped. Part of the trip is this really cool tall ship cruise thing in Fiji. I am told to bring ... and I'm gonna quote this, "a soft kit bag (which remains on board), [and] a small overnight bag for the village."

OK. I know what a small overnight bag is, and I even have a pretty good idea of what to put in it (say, toothbrush and sleepwear for starters).

But what the f* is a "kit bag"? My dictionary helpfully offers several definitions for "kit," and since I assume that my "kit bag" is not, in fact, what I keep my kitten in (she's not coming with), I've got to go with the definition that suggests it is my "personal equipment."

So, basically, a "soft kit bag (which remains on board)" is, a George Carlin would say, "a place for my stuff." Well, that helps. What stuff are we talking about? What the heck am I gonna need when I'm on the boat? I figure: towel, wrap, something in the "dry clothing" department, sunscreen, and (the all-important) lemon drops. What else am I missing? I don't think I'll know till I'm there and then realize a very valuable item has been overlooked from my "kit."

And what sort of bag are we talking about? If they'd said something like, "backpack" or "small duffel," I'd be on the right page. But running the phrase "kit bag" through ebags is getting me nowhere.

I believe there is the right tool for every job, and I hate finding myself in the situation where I have the wrong tool -- and that extends to clothing and personal items.

So, MacGyver me up, people.  What the heck is a "soft kit bag" and what do I put in it?

The Raven Thing

OK, I haven't said anything about this yet, 'cause I never read Raven's journal. In case you missed it, here's the background:
-Someone kept a journal here under the name of Raven.
-A few days ago, someone posted in Raven's journal that Raven had been killed in a car accident.
-People are now questioning whether Raven existed at all. Seems the photos used on Raven's site were shots of a model that were snagged from said model's site.
The whole story is over at Journal Enquirer.

Here's what I think:
1. When news of the death was first posted, I was oddly skeptical. Just because it seems weird that a friend would have Raven's password to log on to her account. Seemed a little convenient, but not impossible.
2. When info regarding the potential hoax was posted, I was also oddly skeptical. How on earth did someone just RANDOMLY come upon this model's website, scan through the photos, and then happen to recognize the photos as the ones on Raven's site? And they'd do that shortly after someone posted about her death? Suspicious. (In what way, though? It's almost as if someone *knows* it is a hoax and is now prodding the AOL Journalling community into discovering it.)

My conclusion:
One of two things is going on. Either:
1. Raven wasn't altogether honest with us, and was using someone else's pictures.
2. Raven didn't exist, and the whole thing was a hoax. Possibly one were are *supposed* to discover now.

I don't know which to believe, but I'll add the only thing that really matters to me right now:
The post by Raven's friend in her journal reads like someone seriously in pain, full of anger at the senseless death of her friend. Could it be bogus? Sure, it could. But if it's true, I can't imagine the extra levels of hell we are putting this woman through by challenging the truth of the journal and asking for proof of its legitimacy. If she is actually grieving right now -- and we still don't have actual proof that she isn't -- what we're doing to her is worlds more cruel than any possible hoax.

So, yeah, I have a great big question mark over the whole thing -- but, for now, I will give a grieving woman the benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Snorting Coke

I snorted coke today.

Not that kind.  The kind that ends with "-a cola."

Yes, I know, traditionally, when there is a mishap involving coke and one's nose, the soda is generally travelling in the outward direction.  What can I say?  I'm a non-conformist.

The unfortunate incident occurred shortly after I'd opened a bottle of beverage and inserted a straw, for easier consumption while typing on the computer at work.  I commenced slurping through the straw, and the soda therein got so excited at the prospect of travelling northward, it continued on its journey even after I had ceased drinking and removed the straw from my mouth.

In other words, frothy coke up the nose.

I was laughing so hard I very nearly sent it on the return trip.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Yes, Alan Rickman.

A couple entries down, I casually mentioned a crush on Alan Rickman.  It's true.  I got the DVD of the latest Harry Potter movie and I just watch him send Kenneth Branagh sailing down the table over and over again.  "Expelliarmus!"  Boom.  Thud.  (Tee hee.  Cracks me up every time.)

I digress.  Point is, Alan Rickman = nummy.  There, I've said it. 

You want to know the moment I knew I was thirty?  I went to the movies and saw that remake of Man in the Iron Mask starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and I kept thinking, "Get that boy off the screen and give me more Gabriel Byrne."

Yes, there's that unfortunate moment in any girl's life when she looks at a picture of Orlando Bloom and says, "Is he 18 yet?"  Because, really, even if we're just talking about one's fantasy life, you still want to make sure it's legal.  Otherwise, y'know, ewww.

So, yes, I have a crush on Alan Rickman.  I think it proves I'm a grown-up.

Am I the Only One...?

And speaking of technical foul-ups, is this happening to anyone else?

-- I go to add an entry to my journal, and when I try to open the "Add Entry" page, I keep getting script errors.  I ultimately have to close the journal and reopen it.  Then "Add Entry" works fine.

-- For some reason, it will DEFINITELY go wrong if I try to hit "Add Entry" before the journal page has finished completely loading.

-- The same script error thing sometimes happens if I try to "show recent" comments.  I have to close the journal then reopen in order to see them.

-- Oddly, this only seems to happen from within AOL.  If I'm just reading (or editing) the journal from the web, I do not get these problems.

Anyone?  Anyone?  

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Don't edit on a Mac. Just don't.

So, I write a journal entry on a PC.  I notice a typo in it from the Mac, so I go in to change it.  Next thing I know, the entry is populated by little "&nbsp;" thingies all over it.  Dude, I didn't write that.  It's like them friggin' plus signs.

Linguistics Corner

Today in Linguistics Corner, let's look at word sex.

Well, word gender actually. What consenting words do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business.

Today, I decided to treat myself to a massage after work. I called up my local day spa and made an appointment. "That's with Kevin. Is it okay to have a male masseuse?" No, actually, it isn't. English (and French) rebel at the thought. A male who gives massages is a masseur; by definition a masseuse is female.

Got me thinking. Not just about the fact that a receptionist at a day spa (of all people) committed this particular faux pas -- but also whether there are other feminine words that, through use or misuse, have come to include the masculine gender.

We know it works the other way. Many female performers prefer to be called "actors" rather than "actresses" -- the word which once meant only a male who makes his living on the stage now includes the female of the species.

But, other than this perversion of masseuse (which I'll admit to having heard in many other places), I can't think of another set of words divided by gender in which people now use the female to refer to the male as well.

I've never met a male executrix, a male widow, a male waitress, a male sculptress, a male usherette, or a male stewardess. (I give partial credit to "nurse" -- which never actually had a male variant, but there was a time when one said "male nurse" to distinguish, and now a "nurse" is a nurse of any gender.)

Is there any other word that used to denote solely females, that is now sometimes used as the gender-neutral version?

Monday, November 10, 2003

Next up: The Poky Little Puppy -- Director's Cut

Am I the only one who finds something seriously WRONG about the whole idea of a movie of "Cat in the Hat"? Not only that -- a PG rated movie?

I'm not against adapting children's books for the big screen as a matter of course. Hell, I'm looking forward to the next "Harry Potter" movie as much as the nearest 12 year old. (Probably more. Odds are, he doesn't have a crush on Alan Rickman.)

But I do think there's something fundamentally wrong with adapting for the screen a book whose only justification is to make kids sit down and read it. It isn't like it's a particularly intriguing story or it has anything remarkable in the way of characterization -- Seuss just did the best that he could when writing in rhyme at a 6-year-old's reading level. And that's sort of the whole POINT of the book. There's no point in fleshing out the story and ratcheting up the level of the dialogue for a more mature audience -- what makes the book GOOD is that a six-year-old can read it, comprehend it, enjoy it, laugh at it, and have a feeling of accomplishment when they've completed it.

Has our society dumbed things down so much that we have to make a movie out of a learn-to-read book? What's next -- a six part mini-series on "Pat the Bunny"?

Sunday, November 9, 2003

What am I 'posed to take away from The Matrix? (Part 2 of 2)

And there's my problem.

Your big honkin' duel between Luke and Vader wasn't really about who was going to chop whose head off; it was about Luke's soul -- would he go over to the Dark Side?  (And, ultimately, it was about Vader's too.)  There was a lesson here, something to take away.  That there's always good in all of us.  That you can achieve victory by not fighting and instead relying on the spark of inherent goodness in your opponent (it's vaguely Gandhi-esque when you think about it).

I can't find the lesson I'm supposed to take away from Neo's victory over Agent Smith.  Make a deal with an enemy to get rid of a common enemy?  Cautious equilibrium is better for everybody?  (And what sort of messed up deal was it that the machines made?  "Sure, we will let your pesky independent human civilization continue in exchange for you ridding us of our rogue program who has inconveniently jumped the fence."  Yeah, that's a war strategy I'd like to see the Iraqis try.)

I s'pose this might be easier if I actually understand exactly how Neo took out Agent Smith in the first place.  Closest I can get is it was some sort of attack from within -- somehow once Neo was had been Smith'd, self-destructing set off some sort of chain reaction.  Kinda like a computer virus. (ID4 anyone?)  But regardless of exactly how that happened (hell, once programs actually had an existence outside the matrix I ceased attempting to understand how stuff actually happens in the movie's universe) -- what I'm missing here is the message.  Where's the really cool way Neo used his humanness to defeat Agent Smith (in the same way Luke used his goodness)?  That's what I'm needing here.  It isn't just enough for Neo to kick Agent Smith's ass, he has to win by exploiting some flaw in what Smith is.

Otherwise, it's just another Baddest Ass Wins sort of movie.

What am I 'posed to take away from The Matrix? (Part 1 of 2)

OK, let's assume you've seen Matrix Revolutions. Or, at least, seen enough reviews of it so that the whole damn plot is spoiled for you. Or, barring that, the you never plan to see it, but want to read discussions about it anyway. 'Cause I'm gonna talk about it is if we've all already been, OK?

I've read a few reviews of the picture comparing it to lots of other movies (not surprisingly -- it's hard to make a work that isn't completely derivative anymore).  But what this one totally reminded me of was Return of the Jedi.  Not itself a particularly original piece, mind you -- I wouldn't want to imply any philosophical originality in the concepts of: the power of the individual; the small primitive society taking out the greater technological one; and the basic idea that doing evil (even in the name of good) is a teeny step down a really bad path.  But, hey, wrap all that up with some spiffy light saber dueling and hand it to my then 17-year-old self, and I'll think it's Plato's Republic.

Now, Matrix Revolutions plays, in a lot of ways, like Return of the Jedi.  I mean, really -- Neo's sitting there with a cloth tied over his eyes trying to wave off sentinels with the power of his mind alone and I'm the only person that thinks, "Use the Force, Luke"?  And what about the whole blindness thing anyway?  Feels almost like Luke getting his hand chopped off by Vader -- loss of a body part not deterring our heroes as it shows the lengths to which they will go and heightens their resolve.  Not to mention how it ultimately makes them more like their enemies -- Luke's mechanical hand is all Vaderesque, while Neo picks up a second sight which seems rather more like how the programs see the world. 

And of course, the heart each movie is a classic three-front battle going on -- where the most important of the three battles is a duel to the death between your representatives of good and evil.

OK, OK, I'm going

Just so y'all know, I'll be going to see "Matrix Revolutions" (ooh, no italics -- she must be on the Mac) this morning. Probably just as soon as I finish this entry and shower and all that other stuff. I realized last night that I have to see it today.

Why? Because I have to see "Master and Commander" next weekend. And I'm not entirely certain Matrix will still be on a decent screen in two weeks' time. And since I know I'll see it EVENTUALLY, I might as well have the best possible viewing experience.

Now, why do I have to see "Master and Commander" next weekend? Well, there are a bunch of things I learned about the movie this morning which just confirmed my decision -- like that Peter Weir directed it, or that David Threlfall (amazing British stage actor from way back) has a small part, or that the critics actually like the movie. None of which I knew last night when I drove past a billboard that said the film was opening next week and I thought, "Well, then I'd better make room for it next week then." I have to see this picture as soon as it comes out because I'm in love.

Not with Russell Crowe. Lordy no. (I still haven't entirely forgiven him for "Gladiator," although I'll concede he did show some actual acting ability in "L.A. Confidential.") So, no, I'm not going to drool in my popcorn over Russell Crowe -- especially not a Russell Crowe who has -- from the looks of things -- put on a pound or twenty.

No. I'm in love with sailing ships. Have someone yelling "Hoist the topsail!" and I am all over your movie like... like.... Andrea on a Keanu Reeves flick. I love them tall ships. Every time there's some sort of tall ship parade in town, I always go visit to check out the recreations. One time, I even went out on one for an afternoon sail and gun battle with another ship. (We won. Yuh-huh. Take that Spirit of Newport.) Hell, my New Zealand trip contains a side trip to Fiji -- which came about only because I poking around the web looking for things to do in New Zealand, and I stumbled upon a adventure-style Tall Ship cruise in Fiji. Tall Ship -- three days! Eeeee!

Hmmm -- so, as far as marketing for this movie is concerned, I think this means I'm a guy.

Saturday, November 8, 2003

Other Journals Panel

OK, most of the other journals I've linked to over there in "Other Journals" are probably journals you've already read.  Odds are that's how you've found me.  And my hearty thanks to them.  Still, good to sum up what I'm linking to. 

- We start with By The Way -- John Scalzi's journal here.  I've been reading Scalzi forever.  No kidding.  Long, long ago, Scalzi used to be in charge of the little hidden humor area you'd get by clicking the AOL logo on the welcome screen.  About half of what was there was crap, but I quickly learned that whatever Scalzi (or James Lileks) wrote was actually worth reading.  Really.  This one piece he wrote about What Good Are Men is still, in my mind, a classic.  ANYWAY, if there's anyone who got me interested in journalling, it was him.  Scalzi has been writing a journal on the web (called Whatever -- also linked in my Other Journals) and I've read it religiously.  When I learned he was coming back to AOL to help AOLers Journal, I figured that if anyone was going to get me to start one, it'd be him, since his was pretty much the sole journal I've read for the past, oh, five years.

- Next I've linked Unhinged and Two Scoops of Crazy -- two journals that were AOL picks (Andrea, you were a #1 pick, weren't you?) that actually deserved to be.  They both read really well which is what I look for in a journal.  Funny stuff.

- Hearts and Thoughts is here because its author is smart and self-aware -- which is a combination that gives you a really accurate portrait of a person's emotional life.

- On Whining Well is a man's perspective, and it's good to read this stuff so we'll better be able to manipula--  understand them.

- The Single Woman's Guide is a well-written journal by a single, thirtysomething female, and we all gotta stick together.  :)

- What a Difference is a new journal, but shows a lot of potential.  rbushu has a great talent for recounting what's funny in an everyday story.

- The Journal Enquirer should be in everyone's links -- you should check it daily just to keep an eye on whether they're talking about you.

- And lastly, I've got the (unofficial) Help journal in there, since I'm always clicking on that thing to learn how to code things right.

:::sniff::: You guys. :)

Wow.  I was really expecting/dreading rather more negative comments because of my whine below.  (Not one person told me to adjust my meds.  Color me shocked.)  I really appreciate the support I've received (both via comments and email) and I'm particularly pleased that my comments about the member awards have prompted some ideas on how to maybe make them better in the future.  Of course, any decisions in that area are up to Vivian -- but I'm pleased at the thought that something constructive might come out of me being all tantrumy -- I'd really hoped that things would be taken in that spirit (constructive, not tantrumy) and I'm glad that it looks like they have been.

I've also taken some advice and added an "Other Journals" panel.  I hadn't done that from that start mostly ... well, mostly because the first other journals that I'd read around here were the ones I'd checked out from the Editor's Picks -- and although sometimes they were really good journals that I'm glad I was directed to, many of the others were just stuff I didn't want to read.  Well, now I've actually been pointed to enough good other journals that I have them all "favorite placed" on various screen names and various computers, and now it seems like a good idea for me to keep them all in the same place.  Short descriptions appear in the next entry.

Also, a follow-up...  I was asked in the comment thread for this entry how (and why) I got Mr. T's autograph.  They filmed an episode of "A-Team" near my dad's office, so at lunch, he went over and asked Mr. T for an autograph for his daughter (apparently thinking it'd be embarrasing to ask for himself).  It reads:  "Dear [NZ].  God Bless You.  Mr. T."  A few hours later, my dad's secretary went over and asked for an autograph for her boss's daughter.  It reads:  "Dear [NZ].  God Bless You.  Mr. T."  So, yeah, Mr. T really cares about my immortal soul.

Friday, November 7, 2003

"So, why IS there a quarter in your scrapbook?"

There's a quarter in my scrapbook.  Taped in there, from a day in Junior High School.  It had special significance for me then.  What's so remarkable about it, I think, is that I realized at the time how significant it would be.

It is, very simply, the only thing I ever won for athletic ability.

Not entirely true.  Looking back over my "School Days" book, I see a certificate for "3rd Place Batting" in my Elementary School's Third Grade Games.  Kinda funny how that one came about.  They had contests running simultaneously in all sorts of different sports.  I hadn't even signed up for batting.  Then, all of a sudden, someone told me there were only two kids entered in that one.  I'd never swung a bat before in my life, but, hey, whack a ball off a tee, get a certificate.

And years later, I got myself trophies from two figure skating competitions.  A first place and a second place!  Woo-hoo!  Just don't ask me how many people I was skating against.  Yeppers.  Dead last each time.

But my quarter... 

Back in Junior High School, we had to do that damn Presidential Physical Fitness thing.  I never did well enough on any of the exercises to win the little badge -- with one notable exception.  The chair push-ups.  I could do the requisite number of chair push-ups and then some.  I could do chair push-ups till the cows came home, got milked, and went out again.  What I'm trying to say here is chair push-ups, I could do.

And, like any good athlete, I thought, "there must be a way to turn this ability into profit."  There was.  Nobody else in class thought I could do chair push-ups.  Why should they?  I was a nerd who had never demonstrated any athletic ability -- there was certainly no reason to believe I could do chair push-ups.  So I found me a likely candidate and suggested that perhaps I could do more chair push-ups than she could.  And how'd she like to put a little money on it?  Say, perhaps, a quarter?

I think she gave up around 18.  I went to 20, just so there'd be no doubt.

And then I took the quarter home and taped it in my scrapbook, realizing it was the only thing I'd ever actually won for athletic ability and assuming -- quite correctly -- that it would likely remain the only thing I ever actually won for athletic ability.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Feel the Whine (Part 1 of 2)

Yeah, well, Sothisatreadmill is feeling a little unloved today.  Yesterday, I wrote what I considered to be a charming little Hamlet-inspired bit on whether to see Matrix Revolutions, and every time I clicked on my journal today to see if anyone caught the little "Undiscovered Country/Star Trek VI" line, I saw the counter had only gone up by 1.  Boy is that depressing.  I'm the only one driving my counter up.

And it isn't just that.

Obviously, like many other journallers, I'm a little peeved at AOL's selection of a non-journal for its 15 Hours of Fame winner.  Now, I didn't even enter this contest, so it isn't like I'm disappointed that I didn't win it.  But I am miffed that this contest was advertised to journallers as a sort of way to get us journalling -- and then they give the first award to someone who writes a single entry bio, rather than an actual journal.

I'm also a little ticked about my exclusion from the whole Editor's Picks thing.  Back when the Editor's Picks were daily, I got a nice little email from the Journals Editor saying my journal would be featured there, and to sign the release and send a photo in case I'm selected #1.  Cool.  I send the release and send the photo.  Then nothing.  Editor's Picks go to weekly, and I notice several recent top 5 picks are new journals that were started well after I sent back my release form.  (I keep saying to myself, "Hey, maybe they want to use me as the #1 journal and they want to rotate that spot among different types of journals," but really -- how much longer am I gonna fall for that?)  Apparently, I was worthy -- but am worthy no longer.  Thanks.

Feel the Whine (Part 2 of 2)

I'm a little disappointed about the AOL members-voting-for-members awards for journal excellence, too.  Not so much my exclusion therefrom (although, y'know, ouch) but the duplication of nominees.  One Journal got nominated for four different awards, one got nominated for three, and five got nominated twice.  Where there could have been thirty nominated journals picking up extra readers from the attention of the nominations, we're left with only two-thirds of that amount.  There's also two nominees who have declined their nominations -- but they're still in there, even though their withdrawal could have made room for two more nominees to get some attention.

I wish I knew the way to say this without it sounding like: (a) sour grapes; (b) an insult to Vivian (who has nothing but the best intentions and really is trying to do something nice for the AOL Journalling community); and/or (c) I'm casting aspersions on the nominees (who have genuinely good journals worthy of the attention they're getting).  It's just that -- well, every time I see an online poll, it always gets messed up by people who tell all their friends to "stuff the ballot box" in their favor, and the winner ends up being not so much the person who might otherwise deserve to win, but rather the person who has the most contacts in their address book.  Please believe me -- I'm not accusing any of the nominees of doing this.  But when I see 20 journals filling up 30 nomination slots, it starts looking vaguely "cliquey" to me.

I'm sure I'm over 2500 characters so I'll stop.  I'm just not feeling the love right now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Decisions, Decisions

To see Matrix Revolutions or not to see it.  That is the question

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer

Keanu Reeves's bad acting and an incomprehensible plot

Or to stand up against such piffle and go without seeing

the trilogy end?  To give up?

To give up?  And by giving up to end

The boredom of Neo killing hundreds more Agent Smiths

Tis a scenario I could really get behind.  Yes, to give up.

To give up and perhaps only imagine the movie I'm missing

Aye, there's the rub.

For surely my imagination can envision something actually worth seeing.

And that must give me pause.  Indeed, that's what

Makes me so often attend lousy sequels.

For who would bear Men in Black II,

Back to the Future III, and that second Jurassic Park

if they could easily be avoided?

No, who would possibly suffer through five Rocky movies

and Attack of the Clones

Were it not for the dread that you're missing something really good by not going?

The undiscovered country about which friends speak at the water cooler

on Monday morning -- puzzles the will

and makes us rather suffer through Star Trek VI

than sit at home on opening weekend and play with the cat.

Thus peer pressure does make cowards of us all,

And the intelligent decision to bypass that which should not be seen

is defeated by a sad addiction to pop culture.

And decent weekend plans to read a book

are turned away by the need for closure.

Oh, Trinity -- In one wave of thy vinyl coat,

Be all my weaknesses remember'd

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

An Open Letter to the LA Times (part 2 of 2)

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, a very nice LA Times telemarketer called and said, because I'm a customer in such good standing, you'd start delivering the paper to me for the rest of the week for free.  (Oh joy!  What a lucky girl I am!)  I told the rep I was not interested and, in fact, should have been on your Do Not Call list.  "Would you like me to put you on the list right away?" she asked.

Well, as a matter a fact, I would have liked to have been put on the list last month, when I went to the trouble of calling you for the sole purpose of asking to be put on your Do Not Call list.  Remember?  The time when I said I'd cancel my subscription if you called again?  Yeah, that time.

Consider my subscription cancelled.  Consider this my third request to be placed on your internal Do Not Call list.  Consider this my notice that if you call me again, I will report you, and I sincerely hope you will be fined for it.

An Open Letter to the LA Times (part 1 of 2)

Dear Los Angeles Times,

Upon receipt of this letter, please cancel my subscription.

I have been a Sunday Only subscriber for approximately 11 years.  Clearly that is not sufficient for you, as your representatives seem hell-bent on making me subscribe to the full week of your paper, usually by promising me free papers for the rest of the week for six weeks, in the hopes that I will become so enamored of your reportage, that I'll ask to continue the service at my cost.

Some years ago, the phone calls magically ceased when I told the salesperson, "I do not want the paper during the week, and if you call me again I will cancel my Sunday Only subscription."  I had several years of bliss -- you gave me the Sunday paper, I paid for it, and nobody called me.

A few weeks ago, one of your more aggressive salespeople called, trying to tempt me with the same offer.  I was unable to get a word in edgewise to explain my lack of interest, as he kept silencing my protests with, "Ma'am, you're not listening to me -- I'm offering you free papers."  I finally lost my temper and said, "If you don't shut the f- up, ..."  I never finished my threat, as he hung up.

I then dialed your customer service department and politely told you that I wanted to be placed on your "Do Not Call" list.  Your representative said I'd be immediately placed on the list, and tried to give me the number for the national registry.  I know that number.  I'm already registered.  What I need is for you -- a company with whom I do business so is therefore exempted -- to leave me alone.  I told your representative what I had been unable to tell the marketer -- if you call me again, I'm cancelling the subscription.  Enough is enough.

Monday, November 3, 2003

A cry for help

I am AGAIN puzzled by my inability to write an entry for Fifteen Hours of Fame.  Every time I try to think of what AOL might actually want on its welcome screen, I can't shake the idea that what AOL wants is some horribly sweet piece of glurge that would put you in a diabetic coma just by looking at it, and I just can't be a part of that.

So I beg you, loyal or not-so-loyal readers, throw me a freakin' bone here.  AOL says "Entries should have potential to draw other members to read and comment on the entry."  I can't for the life of me think of such a topic.  What does the Great AOL Reading Public care about my philosophy of life, the worst play I've ever seen, why there's a quarter in my scrapbook, or any of the other half-dozen topics I've considered and thrust aside?

So, what could I possibly write that AOL would think is clickable?  I haven't gone over Niagara Falls (with or without a barrel), haven't kissed Madonna, haven't been groped by the Governor-elect of California, and am not one of those stupid criminals who signs the ransom note with their real name.  (Closest thing I have to a brush with fame is a piece of paper somewhere that says, "Dear [NZ], God Bless You.  Mr. T."  I'm thinkin' that ain't it.)

Now, sure, I might have something going once I've actually bounced down a hill in a big plastic ball, but till then ... give me a topic, please?  I'll do the rest.

The more things change...

In my spare time (i.e. driving back and forth to someplace), I've been listening to tapes about Victorian Britain.  (There'd be a link here, but their website is down.)  I mention this not for its inherent snootiness, but for something I heard on a tape this morning.  Today's lecture was on "Leisure" and it discussed the different sports Victorians engaged in.  The working class played football (that's "soccer," to you); the middle class played golf and tennis; the upper class hunted; and everyone played cricket.

Cricket, says our lecturer, crossed class lines.  Everyone played cricket, and it was as huge a deal to play it in a gentlemanly fashion as it was to play it well.  Cricket etiquette was as important as cricket itself.

We are then told that cricket was a huge part of every British schoolboy's life.  That his final year in school was generally marked by the big cricket game that he would remember for the rest of his life.  That most autobiographies and fictional accounts of British schools generally had much to say about cricket and its importance in forming the moral character of those who played it.

And I thought, "Damn, that's quidditch."  I started realizing that, in the Harry Potter novels, JK Rowling isn't just writing a fairly classic fantasy storyline about a kid growing into his destiny, she is also writing an equally classic British schoolboy coming-of-age story.  I've occasionally heard debate about whether the books should be Americanized for the folks on this side of the pond (witness changing "Philosopher's Stone" to "Sorcerer's Stone") -- but the truth of the matter is that they can't be fully Americanized.  The very essence of the stories is British -- encompassing everything from the class system (the old wizarding families like the Malfoys looking down on those of mixed blood) to the importance of playing sport not for individual glory, but for the honour of the team.

Yeah, quidditch is standing in for cricket.  Both have games that can go on for days.  Why didn't I notice it before?

Bridesmaid Tips

I’ve been a bridesmaid or maid of honor five times now. Thought I’d compile a few little tips I’ve picked up along the way. (I’m not mentioning these because any of this stuff went wrong at Peggy’s wedding. On the contrary, I thought we avoided most of the common bridesmaid pitfalls. Well, with the exception of the last one.)

1. It ain’t your wedding. This means that you wear the orange taffeta dress with the big bow on the butt, you put your hair in the unattractive french twist, and you wear the bright red lipstick – and you smile about it, dammit. It isn’t about whether you look good; it’s about whether you look the way the bride wants you to look. If it’s any consolation, nobody is looking at you anyway.

2. Bring extra everything. Your fellow bridesmaids might forget: pantyhose, slips, lipstick, mascara and breakfast. Bring your own, and bring enough for them. Also, bring some of that gum that doubles as toothpaste so you all can have minty fresh breath without mussing your lipstick.

3. It’s all about the bride. Y’know how you’ll sometimes hear about some cyclist in the Tour de France giving his bike to a teammate so the teammate can continue on to win?  That’s you. Be prepared to give the bride anything you might have about your person so that she can make it to the finish line. (This can include:   jewelry, shoes, kleenex, hairpins, sewing kit and – at one wedding I attended – electrical tape.)

4. The emotionally stable bride is a rarity. Your bride might be weepy, snippy, panicky, twittery, or any of the other dwarves. Do what you can to help her appear calm, if obtaining actual calmness is out of the question.

5. Make nice with the rest of the bridesmaids. You’ll probably be getting nekkid in a very small room with all the other women, so you might as well be on friendly terms with them.

6. If you’re sitting at the end of a long head table, try to start the “wave.”

And, the lesson I learned at Peggy’s wedding

7. If you’re making a toast at the reception, you might find yourself holding a microphone and your notes. It would be a good idea if you free up a hand to actually raise a glass in honor of the bride and groom.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Random Thoughts From The Weekend

Eat Bubbalah, Eat ... the tea-roasted duck. And I thought Jewish mothers had the monopoly on the whole "make you keep eating till you're physically ill" thing. Apparently we've got nothing on Chinese families. I returned from the weekend spent at Peggy's wedding (great couple -- lovely wedding). Let's see ... was it 8 courses at the rehearsal dinner and another 8 at the wedding? And they were all so nummy, too. But, dang, I am so going back to the gym this week.

Ma'am, put the bacon down and step away from the plate. In all the excitement of getting my shots, the doctor did the standard blood work-up on me, which included testing my cholesterol. I'd been avoiding this on the dubious philosophy that what I didn't know wouldn't kill me, but now I know. And although it wasn't nearly as high as I'd feared (I couldn't tell the doctor that. "Really? Less than 250? Woo-hoo!") it did confirm that I should adjust my eating habits. So, this morning, we went to a breakfast buffet and, as per my usual "breakfast buffet" habits, I piled on the eggs and bacon. It was only around my fourth piece of bacon that I realized I should stop eating it, and guilty set it down. A friend who happens to be a cardiologist told me to go ahead and eat the bacon -- start the better diet on Monday. I wondered if this wasn't so much "friendly advice" but rather "an investment in her future." I left the bacon.

Apologies to My 19th Century Sisters. Peggy let each of her attendants pick their own dresses from a mix-and-match set at David's Bridal. The top I picked was a lace-up corset. I put it on early in the morning ('cause it would be hard to get on without mussing the hair) and ended up wearing that damn thing for about 14 hours. I gotta say, it did nice things for my posture, but by the time I took it off, I was really needing the release. The weird thing was, when I took it off and was wearing "only" a bra and loose-fitting shirt, I felt like I was damn near naked. I wonder whether those straight-laced Victorian types felt all naughty and sexy when they were merely fully-clothed, just without all that whale bone around their middle.