Fool Me Twice, That’s What They Say in Tennessee
Tuesday June 29th 2004, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Film
On the request of my glorious French friend Lily, I swore my way past bad drivers and interminable red lights to see Fahrenheit 9/11.
I had planned to see it sometime. I wasn’t sure when. Perhaps at Christmas with my very excellent friends in Chicago. They were after all, the people who sat me down as soon as I arrived in Japan and forced me to watching Bowling for Columbine. They were also the people who took me to Tokyo’s American Embassy for a visit on the day the invasion of Iraq began.
I already knew the content of Fahrenheit 9/11. Though I stopped watching TV a month after the invasion I was still with it. I read many of the same papers as Michael Moore and all other liberal-minded folks. I underlined telling quotes in newspapers. If I ever forgot anything, my friends (all liberal-minded folks) reminded me.
When Lily insisted last night I watch Fahrenheit 9/11, I did a huge detour of my Tuesday plans and ran off to the theatre.
- The theatre, for an afternoon showing, was full. Me, alone, looking for a single seat almost failed.
- Three old coots walked out of the theatre and never returned.
- When the lights came on, most of the crowd was old. They looked like the exact same people in my neighbourhood. The people in my neighbourhood voted Conservative. The Conservatives in Canada are wistful about joining this Iraq nonsense. So what are these old people doing watching a movie that condemns their ideals? (Don’t give me any of that stuff about old people not working. The mall was pretty full of young shoppers.)
- George Bush was actually cute when he was young. No, this does not mean he is my new crush. Down with Bush!
- Colin Powell has similar features to my grandmother. As my grandmother (a Russian/German/Jew) ages, she’s been mistaken for First Nations and for a Taiwanese by a Taipei street meat peddler. Powell’s mouth is very grandmaesque.
- The scene with the Marine recruiters in the mall parking lots: religious cults sometimes use the same methods to recruit. If the circumference of my neck matched that of my waist, I might pass for a Marine, and I could try recruiting people into the Marines too. Just for fun.
- Life must be so boring people wish it was like the movies. I am talking about the part in Fahrenheit 9/11 when the soldiers discuss playing music while “working.” Just like Panama and “Welcome to the Jungle,” the soldiers in Iraq have their own anthem and a soundtrack to their lives.
- The World Trade Centre towers attack looked like a movie and many people (including yours truly at that time) had to do a double take. Being off this continent at the time, I was stuck with the emergency news without a soundtrack. Fahrenheit 9/11 had a nifty little scene, all black, you couldn’t see anything, where Moore recreated the sounds of the planes crashing into the towers.
- Most critics could identify with the grieving mother, Lila Lipscomb. I found myself siding with the injured Iraqi kids. Didn’t anyone else find that really, really sad?
- Moore and I both agree about Britney. She is the total sum of brainless plus bimbo.
- Sure Bush seems like a grand idiot in many parts of the movie. He sure has made a name for himself messing up the English language and not knowing who Musharraf is. My friend Bev has a theory. It’s very beneficial to Bush or whoever is puppeteering him. If Bush looks like a moron, anything he does can be attributed to his stupidity. That gives him a carte blanche to do anything.
- Michael Moore pointed out how Bush spent a heck of a lot of time vacationing during his first year in office. Actually, he was criticized for the same thing while the mess with the Florida ballots played itself out. Surely this is some evidence that he is not running the show.
- Some critics and politicians commented on how Michael Moore is a better film editor than a filmmaker. I agree that he is a great editor, at least. Just the piles of material he would have had to deal with – last year I was so disgusted I just turned off my TV in anger and never turned it on again. I counted one instance where he was just playing; he attached a series of Bushes repeating Saddam and Bin Laden together. Moore was trying to make the transition that Bush made from Bin Laden as the criminal mastermind to Saddam as the criminal mastermind. It didn’t work for me.
- I wanted to do something after watching this movie. Moore suggested, at the end of his movie, that I visit his site for advice. The one thing I thought I could do was to send books to some US soldiers. I envisioned myself converting some poor redneck from a sad honkytonk to the joys of Charlotte Bronte. Alas, all of them want Maxim, the Sports Illustrated Bikini issue and gun magazines (so much for escapist reading). The more literary among them want Clancy novels. One Marine wanted a copy of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I might give away my copy of the Aeneid, but it’s full of violence and he looks like he’s well taken care of by the Classical crowd. Finally I found him. A Japanese-American guy at a hospital. And it seems as if crossword puzzles will do. I happen to be a bigger crossword fan than a crossword completer. So Mr. Nishimura can have my crossword stash. The only problem: what the hell kind of address is 111 Corp 31st. CSH Camp Anaconda APO AE 09391-1275?!
In the end, history repeats itself over and over. Money is at the crux of it all. The rest of us, the middle and lower classes, we’re just the minions who do the bidding of the upper crust. I don’t think we’ll ever learn no matter where we are in the hierarchy. If someone means well they either end up like sucker chimps or else like Allende in Chile.
One of my university professors, Dr. Robert Chen, wrote about the cyclical story in myth, how its repetition comforts humanity – in its earliest uses it reassured Iron Age man that there will be a spring after winter. Seen in the Persephone myth and the Christ myth/history, this is the literary equivalent of seeing the glass half full.
Eternal truths can be boring after a while so alongside the cyclical story is the heroic story: a hero disrupts the recurring events with something out of the ordinary. Like Beowulf slaying Grendel, this manages to disrupt the cyclical, until the hero sets it all right. The implication is that, after upheaval, there is a happily ever after and the implication is that it includes a return to the cyclical.
For nearly half of Americans, their president is some sort of God and a hero to boot. To these people he is part of some heroic epic, leading them to a happy ending. He might, however, just be part of the cyclical, the Hades who kidnaps Persephone and unleashes the cycle of winter, the Judas required for the betrayal of Jesus required for the renewal of humanity. This means he will fall only to be replaced by another Hades.
We haven’t learned a single lesson from the Holocaust or World War One. As the old saying goes, we’re doomed to repeat history if we don’t learn it. Which reminds me, Jesus was considered a crackpot in his day.
Extra Bait Condition Unicorns
Tuesday June 29th 2004, 8:47 am
Filed under: Toys
Bumblesweet was rather tempting. She sat demurely in her box on the Walmart shelf, her price tag only $6.44. Cheaper than in my day, when a Pony went for $8. Hasbro must have switched glues or used inferior plastic. Some defect must make up for the $1.56.
I broke her hypnotic stare. Around her were three of her compatriots, the darling Daisyjo, the modest Serendipity, and that saucy wench, Sparkleworks. On the next shelf was Strawberry Shortcake and her cronies, and on another shelf was Rainbow Brite. Canary Yellow never looked so good.
Four of them, so cheap, so sparkly and one of them a lemon-yellow. I stopped myself. Where would I house them? My living quarters feature tasteful Romanian and Ethiopian folkart in woodsy colours and sombre metallics. The bright-coloured ponies might make my look just a little kitchsy. Besides their heads were too big.
I had to bid farewell to the ponies – since my first entry about the Ponies, trips to Value Village turned up no Ponies.
Until someone puts together an Eighties Toy Museum, I am re-living my My Little Pony youth through the My Little Pony Customization mailing list:
- Does anyone have extra bait condition unicorns? I’m specifically looking for unicorns in the prancing (Gusty, Sparkler), TAF milky way type, or upwards looking (Powder/Skyflier) poses.
- I have a Sparkler who’s face is pretty much covered in pen, and I think I have a Powder who’s symbol is almost gone, if you’re interested, please email me.
- I ended up buying 2 ponies, and going into an afro-hair shop this afternoon to pick up some gorg. synthetic hair for rehairing.
- She’s a Majesty with a tiny bit of paint work to her eyes that went slightly wrong, hair is fine (last time I looked) body is fine but she might also have a few pink marks on her but otherwise she’s fine.
Some of these messages were from some lady called “Baby Mort.” Wish I’d thought of that. The finished products look pretty good too.
Especially this one:
You are GOTH Pony!
Which Fucked up “My Little Pony” are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
The Key to Happiness
Tuesday June 29th 2004, 12:32 am
Filed under: Art
“He’s far too egocentric to be self-destructive,” she said. “He always seems to land with his bum in the butter.”
“He always seems to squeeze lemon juice square into his eyes.”
“He always seems to affix excessive umlauts to Ã¤djÃ«ctÃ¯vÃ«s.”
“He always seems to buzzsnore after a meal of treacle.”
“He always seems to lick lozenges with his ears.”
“He always seems to inflate his neck when operettas conclude.”
“He always seems to balance yolks on his nose while tiptoeing across a razorblade.”
Which means that “happiness [should] be classified as a psychiatric disorder.”
Saturday June 26th 2004, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Film
My conversion, after nearly a year, back to televisionism is nearly complete. I still don’t turn on the TV on my own; I am certain, however, that the final step is not far off. My sister always calls me over now with a “Hey, What Not to Wear is on!” Today, I watched, for the first time, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy*.
At the end of today’s episode of Queer Eye, after they changed this Greek fellow into something decently dressed, the “Fab Five” gave some last minute tips. “No limp handshakes.” “Dried parsley is confetti.” That sort of advice.
Wait! I thought. All this stuff is common sense. Who the hell doesn’t know about giving giving firm handshakes? And, who the hell hosts a party without greeting all their guests?
Now I could be wrong, since this is only the first episode I watched, but I am going to deduce that the Queer Eye quintet is reminding us of things that would have been quite the norm thirty or forty years ago.
Which then leads me to think, if these guys are advocating older societal norms, then they’re upholding traditions. Traditions lost to the beer-and-pretzels crowd. Perhaps, these other men, who claim territorial rights over expansive nose hairs and extra-large t-shirts, are cutting edge. Perhaps they are the people who are destroying tradition and, thus, family values. Maybe women need their rights to contraceptives out of fear of giving birth to yet another corpulent-in-the-mid-region football fan. Maybe if peer pressure required men to wear fedoras to hockey games again women would go back to the kitchens where they damn well belong.
*I might also add that, as a result of Queer Eye, I have a new, unattainable crush. Goodbye, Mr. Got-A-Girlfriend (yes, that one, Raspberry), hello, Mr. Yummy.
I Don’t Do Quagmires
Saturday June 26th 2004, 10:40 am
Filed under: History
“They came with dogs, firmly held on leashes. God help you if they got loose, because they bit, those nasty animals…They would calmly tear apart a baby before your eyes. Terrible creatures.”
“Then we were taken to rooms where we had to undress. That was an enormous shock for me…It goes without saying that I was embarrassed and ashamed. I remember an audible crack in my head, from being totally naked before the eyes of men.”
“One punishment–a very common one–was, for example, to have to kneel in front of the barracks with a stone in your hands. No one could talk to you or you would be beaten. You were also beaten if you turned your head–and you had to stay there for hours.”
“The Allies must have known, after all; we understood that. And that they just let us go to hell, did nothing, and also let the trains go on running to Auschwitz, to Birkenau, continuously, even though they knew what was going on. Now we know that the war was much more important to them than the Jews. That probably answers the open question.”
Rachel van Amerongen-Frankfoorder
(All quotes excerpted from The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank.)
Wednesday June 23rd 2004, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Personal
Work > Time = Creativity < Bunny Rabbit Spittle
Them + This Afternoon’s Suggestion = No Â¢s
Coworkers Ã— Lemonade – Volunteers = Project Zero
Project Zero Â± Project #1 Ã· Project #2 = Project #4
(Where Project Zero = next week, Project #1 = the ‘zine workshop, Project #2 = Michael Weise’s toaster movie, Jeff’s zombie movie, Tanya’s rock and roll movie, Maureen’s ouija board movie, and Caelan’s road trip movie. Project #4 = aaargh!)
Me – 50% Work + â‚¬ = Â¡Adios!
Reality = Me + 150% Work – $ = %#@!*&!!
The Woman Who Knows Almost Everything (BADLY)
Wednesday June 23rd 2004, 12:11 am
Filed under: Zombie
I met her tonight.
She said she wanted to get out of her dress of synthetic fibres.
She told me she had a glorious changing room (the bathroom).
She was thankful that she didn’t have to kiss the dirty man.
Thursday June 17th 2004, 1:16 am
Filed under: Books
In 1997, my roommate, Rod, who forced Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima on me, insisted I read Ulysses.
I managed to reach the end of Chapter 2. Rod couldn’t wait for me to read Chapter 16. He demanded I read that chapter right away. I got halfway through Chapter 16.
I did like Ulysses, even if I had to plod along at the pace of a snail rigged to a glacier. The wording was great: it was the first time I came across the word snot in serious literature.
Since reading 2.5 chapters of Ulysses, I’ve made a point of celebrating Bloomsday every year. Every year I forget the kidney breakfast. (This year – damn it! – I made myself bacon and eggs. By the time I remembered “kidney” the bacon forkful was already in my mouth.)
Despite the woeful beginning of Bloomsday 2004, I was determined to make sure the rest of the day went as planned. I didn’t print out the official Bloomsday activity list last night. I thought I could remember to retrace Leopold Bloom’s steps.
Read the newspaper while sitting in a port-a-john: I read the newspaper at the kitchen table. 50% completion.
Respond to a personals ad. Encourage the party to believe you are someone other than who you are: Checked out the job ads, didn’t respond to any of them. 10% completion.
Purchase an erotic novel (written by an author whose name is a double-entendre): Borrowed Steinbeck’s The Pearl from the library. The power of the imagination can produce eroticism out of thin air. Plus, John Steinbeck, John, a John is a the recipient of a prostitute’s services, ah ha! Double entendre! 60% completion.
Ogle naked statuary in a local museum: I cop a glance at myself semi-naked in a changing room this afternoon. 30% completion.
Go to the library with a cake of lemon-scented soap in your back pocket: Yes! I did go to the library! Yes! My deodorant is lemon-scented! Points lost for not applying deodorant to back pocket. 90% completion.
If possible, attend a funeral with some friends. While en route to the cemetery, tell a story about a coffin falling out of a hearse: I read about ancient burial mounds over breakfast. 1% completion.
Attempt to have lunch in a local eatery; don’t let loud munching or querulous old-timers intrude upon your enjoyment of a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of port wine: I skipped lunch; dinner, however, involved cheese and a sandwich-like contraption. 20% completion.
Visit a newspaper office or sell an advertisement: I read the paper. 0% completion.
Visit an obstetrical hospital or a pregnant friend: I read a comic about some government thug kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach. She wasn’t hospitalized. 10% completed.
Arrange to have Italian language lessons given in your home by someone half your age: I watched a documentary about a man who gave computer lessons in his home. 15% completed.
Watch children playing on the beach. If possible, stay for fireworks: There were children playing on the beach in the documentary. I watched them. 50% complete.
Visit a brothel with some drunken medical students: I read about early cases of syphilis in medieval England. 7% complete.
Hallucinate: Cockroaches. Everywhere. 100% complete.
Stay up until at least 4 o’clock in the morning, discussing a wide range of topics (including astronomy) with a casual acquaintance for whom you have developed a strange affinity: It is 2:03 AM now. I am discussing my day with you, strangers. Stars remind me of bright shiny objects. Do you like stars? 99% complete.
Go to sleep nestled like a spoon with your head at your mate’s feet: I’ve been thinking about him all day and I shall go to bed and think about his feet some more. 98% complete.
Goodbye, Roaring Twenties. Hello, Dirty Thirties.
Monday June 14th 2004, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Personal
…And less than 5 hours to finish two grant applications: one for the Wobbly Tarantula (a non-profit organization that shows off children’s Vancouver Island Marmot-related artwork) and one for a grant for the ‘zine workshop Caelan and I are putting together. It’s also less than 5 hours writing the bylaws for the Wobbly Tarantula. Plus, I have less than 24 hours to cram for my exam tomorrow night.
So what am I doing blogging when I am so busy?
I am warming up for the grant-writing race and for the Thirties.
The Twenties are nearly over. It was an okay decade, better than the teens, with their belligerence and general untidiness.
The Twenties had a few highlights, mostly contained within old copies of passports. My latest passport, covering 1999-2003, boasts at least two stamps on every page. A few in exotic scripts that fall outside of the Europe-Asia sphere. I circumnavigated the globe twice in the last five years. My sister pooh-poohs my claim by pointing out that it was only the Northern Hemisphere that I went around.
Looking forward, I hope to make the passport that covers 30-years-old to 35-years-old with at least five passport stamps. On my list is another month-long trip to Bologna; a month-long stay in Berlin; a study soujourn in Addis Ababa (Amharic and shoulder dancing); longer stays in each of the Scandinavian countries; Poland; the Czech Republic perhaps (I am not completely sold on the virtues of Prague); more of Hungary; another visit to Taiwan; Japan – Gyoda again, Tokyo again, Kyoto again, Iriomote for the first time and my lovely Miyako Island again; a Spanish class in Oaxaca; Romania obviously; another trip to Tunisia to study Arabic once this Bush madness dies down; China; Hong Kong; the Philippines…almost everything on my list is in fact revisits to places I have already seen. I suppose I should add India, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria. No place in South America calls. I just hope that I’ll see all these places again, once more this lifetime for Ethiopia and many times more for Taiwan, Japan, Romania and Italy. I also hope that I will one day go to some places I can’t imagine right now. How dull if I confined myself only to this list. Maybe I’ll love Mozambique?
I did get two degrees during the past ten years. I studied at two universities and one college in three countries.
I still speak only one language fluently – by fluently I mean that I can recite nursery rhymes and write passable poetry in English. I don’t know any nursery rhymes in Romanian or Mandarin; this is easily remedied but I am quite aware that I will never be able to write more than limericks in either of these two languages.
It’s sad to think that I’ll never be fluent in Romanian (I was born in Romania after all) or in Mandarin. Sometimes I wonder if I will lose my Romanian before my Mandarin or vice versa. I’ve spent more of my life speaking thorough Mandarin than thorough Romanian. It’s easier to throw in an Anglicism in Romanian so my vocabulary isn’t pure.
My conversational Japanese is decent. I recently surprised myself by eavesdropping a Japanese conversation. I could probably raise it a few more notches even while in an English-only environment. That leaves me with fourteen other languages to master between now and my death, which, if we go by averages, will take place in another 45 years.
Career-wise, I suppose if I were to emphatically declare myself a traveller, I have been extremely successful. That I managed to stay alive in obscure places for months at a time with less money than some people had for their weeklong holidays makes me some sort of jetsetter superstar. I’ve worked a lot of bizarre jobs, from selling mushroom purses in Japan to writing speeches for Bill Gates to being a de facto “hostess” for Asian businessmen (albeit a “hostess” that was one part dominatrix to one part Dorothy). I haven’t found a job I really like because I like variety. Most jobs insist on inserting the worker into a monotone box. I do hope that I can continue doing my job or one very nearly like it for longer than my current contract allows.
I am pretty well sure that I’ll never be rich, but that doesn’t bother me too much because then I would have to wear dreadful shoes. As long as I can travel, live in a house free of cockroaches, and have a bit of extra cash, I might be ok.
Four hours left of my Twenties and four hours to go until the Thirties.
It’s time for a re-cap of the rules to live by:
1. I’ve said it before: avoid cat men. Any man who names the cat as his favourite animal or owns one of these creatures is bad news.
2. Avoid philosophy men. This means men who majored in philosophy or even just men who read philosophy books. If he owns a cat, vacate the premises.
3. You can’t please everyone.
4. Nor is one obligated to like everyone
5. Appearances can be deceiving.
6. But if you have a nagging feeling about someone, you are usually right. Intuition is always right.
7. If a guy really likes a gal, he will call sooner than later. Anyone who waits a few days to call obviously doesn’t like the gal; he just likes the idea of a gal.
8. Unlike what the Cosmo magazines and their ilk say, if some fellow really likes a gal he won’t care if she brings up a taboo date subject like roadkill.
9. The best places to meet people are still at parties and through work or school. Anything arranged will work as often as elephants mutate into wolves.
10. I haven’t completely made up my mind on this one, but for the last year I’ve been thinking that all drugs should be legalized, taxed, and the taxes should go towards helping people kick their habits.
11. The purpose of life is to be happy and not to trample on anyone else’s happiness in the process. Thus, cheating, malicious gossip, extortion, pedophilia, murder, etc. are not conducive to happiness because to partake in these activities would be destroying someone else’s happiness.
13. Almost everything is good in moderation.
14. The One is a misnomer. We don’t actually have only one soulmate, but about 20-30. The trick is finding any one of these. Soulmates might live in your town and in a Mongolian yurt. The other trick is being from her or his culture so you could speak the same language and be at least somewhat compatible on a cultural scale.
15. One best friend can be found in each city around the world; I estimate that one could also find a best friend in one out of every five towns; and there is a best friend lurking in one of any five thousand villages. In any group of 50,000 individuals I theoretically have a twin with whom I can immediately start making obscure fart jokes and they would get it.
16. Without perseverance talent is a barren bed.
17. A smile takes barely a second.
18. Any man who treats a waiter with needless disrespect is a no-good scoundrel.
19. Separation makes the heart grow fonder if it doesn’t exceed a weekend.
20. A cure for all sorrows is conversation. Heck, in most situations better a chattering squirrel than a mute abalone. Look at that poodle girl in Silence of the Lambs.
21. All sunshine makes a desert.
22. A knife doesn’t recognize its owner.
23. Most importantly, you cannot giftwrap a fire.
2.5 Hours of Overtime
God, I love working with history. My volunteer recruitment poster and a computer virus infection on the other computer conspired to lead me to the comic strip for 19th Century-centred museum employees. You can be sure I’ll add Daze of Our Lives to my Etc links column.
A few highlights:
Inhumane Warship (hamsters included)