july 2001

click here for permalink July 31, 2001

I've updated the Rants section — or perhaps "back-dated" would be more accurate — with articles from 1999 and 2000 that were once published in the Vancouver Sun and the corporate newsletter of my former employer.

If you find yourself reading them (hint, hint!), be aware that some of the older ones contain references and links that are now tragi-comically out of date (eg: I recommend shopping at eToys and weigh in on Y2K hysteria). Think of it as a trip down memory lane to a time when "ecommerce" was a fresh new noun and day traders were flinging themselves from skyscraper windows.

On a personal note, I had a damn fine weekend... it combined all the elements that used to make weekends something to look forward to — back when I worked five days a week and pined for Friday afternoon like a prisoner up for parole.

We went dancing, ate some damn good meals, drank some damn good vodka, got reacquainted with some damn good friends and met a few new ones... the only classically weekend-y thing missing — but not really missed — was laundry (and I think that must be on the agenda for today).

A visit from my grandmother may be in the planning stages — but not before our trip down for her wedding next June. She suggested today that she and her husband may bicycle from Tuscon to Vancouver... Between that and hiking the eleven flights of stairs to my apartment, it sounds like the exact opposite of my idea of a vacation!

However, we'll be glad to have them... as for the athletics, that's just one more thing to add to my list of things I hope are hereditary. As is, apparently, a certain testiness with regards to our limitations. Heh. How's that, Ms. I-Demand-a-Retraction? (Note to everyone other than my grandmother: To find out what the hell I'm talking about, refer to paragraph #2 of my "Fear and Loathing on the Internet" Rant.

click here for permalink July 27, 2001

Spent almost the whole of yesterday framing one of my old drawings from art school (note: "old" implies that there are "new" drawings, which is a bit of a misnomer). It's an 18x24 charcoal that I've always wanted to frame...

But the logistics of framing charcoal drawings are daunting. Even with all the spray fixative in the world (or Aqua Net — art students are always broke and it's just as effective), the charcoal will rub off on contact with anything. So, the safest framing method is under glass with thick matting to put some space between the glass and the charcoal. That, however, is expensive... and, although I'm long done with art school, I'm apparently not through with being broke all the time.

So, creative gal that I am, I combined a bunch of mismatched elements that were taking up space in the apartment and the final product — a painful and time-consuming work of trial and error — is awesome. If I do say so myself.

So, here's how it went down. We had this big, gaudy gold frame with a big, gaudy, shopping mall over-the-sofa painting in it (I've long intended to do something with the frame, but have been too lazy). So, I painted the frame silver then tried "antiquing" for the first time by painting on some dark paint/stain (a combination of dark colors that I hoped would create black) then wiping it off — I was shocked when it worked.

Then I scrounged together all the fabric I've saved from various events — not a bad selection, actually. We have all this two-tone satin fabric left over from our harem girl costumes and tons of gray and red velour that Mr. Pink's sister once purchased with the intention of making throw pillows (we also have the one pillow that came of that project).

I played with about ten different ways of covering the painting and creating a "mat" area for this 18x24 drawing (the frame area is 30x40). Finally, I ended up with a silver/gray velour border of about 2" all around, blackish/silver satin within that and the drawing within that... sounds funny written down, but it looks fabulous.

What I didn't anticipate (and this is the fabulous part) is the way the black and white drawing looks against all the shades of gray and silver. It's amazing... the metallics in the wood, velour and satin pick up the light in different ways and make the drawing almost look like it's doing the same.

On the resulting high from doing something with my hands I can actually be proud of (hey, now — minds out of the gutter), I actually took that trip to library I've been avoiding. Found three books on couches and upholstery and how to upholster couches and... stuff like that. So, we'll see how that goes.

click here for permalink July 25, 2001

Watched most of "Battlefield Earth" last night. So... was it really that bad? Well, it would have been hard for any movie to live up to the kind of publicity it received which was, hands down, the worst since "Waterworld."

Actually, I thought it was funny... sometimes intentionally so, sometimes otherwise. I think that the degree of resentment and hostility generated by this movie's questionable quality probably had more to do with its star and screenwriter than the finished product itself (which, really, was no worse than "Supernova," "Pitch Black" or "Red Planet," three other medium-budget sci-fi offerings released around the same time).

I have to admit, it's almost endearing, the blind determination with which top-tier leading man John Travolta still defends his pet project of bringing one of the lesser-known works of his religious leader to the big screen. Let's face it, the late L. Ron Hubbard's career as a failed science fiction visionary would be all but forgotten if it hadn't spawned his better-known career as the king of Scientology. It's just like how Ed Harris devoted nearly ten years to his dream of bringing the story of Jackson Pollock to a mass audience... only, like, in the Bizarro World.

The thing is, we expect more of John Travolta now that he's a big star. But really... why should we? It's not as though his "body of work," as a whole, rules out the existence of a "Battlefield Earth" or two in the course of his career. It's not as though the act of working for Quentin Tarantino or Oliver Stone grants you any career immunity — as much as we, the audience, wish it were so.

Also watched "The People Vs. Larry Flynt," which I hadn't seen since it came out. (Okay, so watching "Battlefield Earth" did leave me with a craving for some good acting and a plot that made sense.) Courtney Love's performance was great, but not quite as great as I remembered. In the second half of the movie, her acting efforts are reduced to physically stumbling through every scene and looking like a heroin-chic rock whore — a part that we all know she can play to perfection.

It was great to see Edward Norton looking so young and playing the straight man to Woody Harrelson, who I've loved since NBK. I had forgotten how many famous people were in that movie — Crispin Glover and Norm MacDonald, among others, and political consultant James Carville in a rare acting appearance.

Which reminds me, I still have to see "Primary Colors" with Billy Bob Thornton playing the James Carville character and John Travolta playing the presidential candidate based on Bill Clinton... Huh, that just about brings this movie babbling full circle, so I think I'll stop!

click here for permalink July 24, 2001

Walking home from the video store last night, I was stalked for almost an entire block by a raccoon the size of a medium collie. Brave city girl that I am, I took to the center of the street while it skulked along the sidewalk...

...never taking its eyes off of me. I was similarly riveted; his little eyes were surrounded by goth-like smears of black that tapered out to the edges of his pointy face. All of the expected rings and other markings were lost in shadows cast by the bushes overhanging the sidewalk but I could clearly identify him as a raccoon — a gigantic raccoon.

Vancouver is a weird city... In my five years here, I've seen absolutely no rats or large spiders and only one cockroach (in an apartment where the absence of such creatures would surely have defied some sort of universal law). I have, on the other hand, seen my share of raccoons, smelled more than my share of skunks and been delayed on my way home by a passing family of five possums.

The encounter with the possum family tops the weirdness list, I think. My former roommate and I were on our way home one evening and were stopped just short of the high wrought iron gate to our building by the sight of a small, furry animal. What we initially thought was a large cat emerged from under a bush and wobbled awkwardly across the courtyard less than ten feet in front of us. I, being unfamiliar with the species and slightly drunk, yelped in delight at the cuteness of our little guest.

And then, before we could take a step, another, larger possum emerged and crossed the courtyard with that characteristic, wobbling gait... then another and another... and finally the last, which was easily eighteen inches long, not counting the skeletal, ratlike tail that dragged loudly behind it.

It was only after they were completely out of sight on the far end of the courtyard that I thought to move again and realized that my roommate had thrown a protective arm in front of me — ostensibly to prevent the ill-advised launch forward that might have followed my girlish squeal of joy at the sight of the little one.

Safely inside, I was once again delighted and waxing girlish about the bizarre encounter; my roommate agreed that the smaller ones were cute but cautioned me very seriously, should I encounter another one, not to "corner" it.

"Corner it?" I asked. The thought had, honestly, not even occurred to me. Why would I want to "corner" it? What kind of a freak would try to corner an animal that resembles a toothy, dog-sized wild rat?

Boisterously recounting the event to others, I was surprised to find that this idea of "cornering" came up more often than not... which makes me think that, at some point in my upbringing, I missed a parental speech that was commonplace among my peers. I got the important ones, though... about not talking to strangers, washing your face before bed and blinding a would-be assailant so they can't attack a second time. Those are standard, right?

click here for permalink July 23, 2001

The two most memorable events of a brain cell-vaporizingly dull day took place on my balcony in the cool, cloud-filtered glow of the afternoon sun. The first was Details magazine. I may be a girl but every once in a while...

I find it refreshing to read a magazine that contains more than one article that's well-written, informative and entertaining. Why is it that those qualities only seem to be guaranteed on the glossy pages of magazines whose chief method of gaining widespread distribution is featuring sweaty WB starlets or Brazilian models in undersized tank tops on the cover?

The first time I noticed this fact was in the lobby of my latest hair stylist's salon. I was drinking an obligatory pastel-blue mug of coffee and perusing the magazines fanned out on the black melamine coffee table and the only cover that beckoned to me in a sea of candy-colored women's magazines, was Maxim.

Feeling only slightly self-conscious, I pushed aside the hairstyling bibles with their smiling Meg Ryans and Faith Hills and the upscale celebrity ass-kissing rags with their beaming countenances of Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltow. Maxim's cover delivered up one of their favorites, the gorgeously tanned and otherwise completely irrelevant model Caprice, bookended by headlines that screamed of death, cars and orgasms.

The average Maxim/Gear/Stuff (I could go on) is loaded with features that will interest very few without a Y-chromosome, like the 50 grossest ways to die and a global look at moonshine's international cousins. However, I was surprised to find that the vast majority of the content is extremely readable (okay, I read those two as well).

Which puts them in a class above almost every "women's" magazine on the racks with their endless parade of stale sex tips, impossible diets, ridiculously overpriced and irrelevant clothes and skin care products and that ubiquitous interview with a celebrity about whom we all know more than enough to write our own simpering, pointless interview.

It's already been mentioned by more than one female journalist, but I must reiterate that the quality of the sex-related content in such magazines is not only more accurate and useful than that of their fairer-sex counterparts, but also better-suited to actually improving the performance of the reader for the benefit of their lovers. In other words, women who are turned off by the "sexist" covers may be more than a little turned on by the tips their men have been picking up between the covers.

I should point out that the cover of the particular issue of Details that started this train of thought actually features the decidedly masculine Vince Vaughn (and only from the neck up), but the content within is similar to those mentioned above, minus the gruesome frat boy filler.

I feel like saying, Part Two...

The other mildly satisfying experience was actually more of a moment of not experiencing anything... which is something I am usually staunchly against and go to great lengths — and expense — to avoid. I leaned back at some point in the afternoon to see that the sun had been swallowed by a thick layer of gray clouds that dropped all the way down to the horizon. Above the line where this dark expanse began, were other layers of clouds, ranging in color and texture from the combed, breathy white stuff that floats past backdrops of blue with visible speed to the sculptural, snowy landscapes that make up what we call "overcast."

I watched this collage of cloud-types move against each other and change imperceptibly for what seemed like a long time, letting my eyes unfocus to see swirling vapors of mist and dancing shapes emerge and disappear perpetually overhead. It was very relaxing... I wasn't on any hallucinogens, in case you're wondering, and I don't meditate, though I've been advised to by many who probably know better what's good for me than I do.

I rarely sit still, to be more accurate. Unfortunately, this inability to be sedentary rarely manifests itself in any kind of productive activities like exercise or artwork either. My mother writes to tell me that she is addicted to physical activity and that she feels, post-workout, invigorated and charged with positive energy. It's not hereditary.

I derive no more satisfaction from the physical act of exercise than I do from taking the snacking high road. I should be proud of opting for a piece of fruit instead of a Score bar, but I am not one of those who feels elevated by the masochistic act of laboring for fifteen minutes to consume a bile-green pear so under-ripe as to cause one's gums to bleed.

It's not the pressure to be thin or fit that aggravates me but rather the pressure to enjoy being active, for what it's worth. And, hey, if we were still in high school, the choice to not be a jock would be a respectable one.

click here for permalink July 17, 2001

Ah, relationships... are they more complicated these days than in the days of our parents... or our parents' parents? Is it the longer life expectancy or the vastly increased number of options... or are we just spoiled?

In the latest issue of SF Girl, my friend Liz weighs in on relationship issues peculiar to our generation and comes up with more questions than answers. And in real life, I have to say I'm at a loss. I'm faced with the entirely different (and admittedly, enviable) question of what do two people do when they're at crossroads in their lives and the only sure thing is the relationship they share?

On a far lighter note, I heard a funny story from my dad last week... my 14-year old brother (one of two from my dad's second marriage) wrote a letter of protest and had it signed by his entire class when organizers of the talent competition at his school deemed the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication too smutty to be performed by his band but then turned around and let a quartet of L'il Divas perform Lady Marmalade. You go, boy. Makes a sister proud.

click here for permalink July 15, 2001

I've been watching so many movies lately I can barely keep track when they come up in conversation... prompting entire exchanges comprised of; "hey, have you seen, uh..." "with whatshisname..." "yeah, the one about..."

This weekend I discovered a new way to fine-tune my A.D.D. called "infinifilm," a DVD feature format that enfolds all the special "extras" into the movie (as opposed to having them viewable separately). If you choose to watch the movie with this feature on, a blue bar comes across the bottom of the screen every five minutes or so offering links to information relating to the scene.

The whole thing is very Starship Troopers and some people would probably find it fatally distracting but, being a classic Virgo, I find the constant invitations to "learn more" irresistible. Throughout "Thirteen Days," a complex and well-executed historical drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, the options include bios on all the key actors and characters, archival footage from the early 60s, historical background information on each event, details on how sets and events were faithfully recreated and behind-the-scenes notes on nearly everything you could wonder about the production.

It's the next logical step in bridging the gap between entertainment and education and it makes the static, one-way experience of viewing a truly "interactive" one... but make no mistake, I know I that my newly-acquired knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis is about as useful and profound as the Score bar I consumed at the same time.

Still, to belabor the metaphor, I'm on the information age equivalent of a sugar high right now and loving it.

Also saw "Best in Show," a comedy about dog show contestants and their owners, which was incredibly funny. I could never be a dog person, although I do like dogs almost as much as cats. It's the other "dog people" who scare me. When you have a dog, you enter into a nonverbal contract with an entire community that makes it impossible to avoid certain long, drawn-out and painful exchanges.

As a dog owner, I would be obliged to stand still, nodding and replying politely, while strangers crouched and spoke baby-talk to my dog on routine walks. I would be forced to converse, over and over, with other dog owners on topics like breed and gender and brands of food and the quality of one park versus another.

I know all to well how an ill-timed hangover or mood swing could leave me vulnerable to making a fatal error in judgment, resulting in my snapping unexpectedly at some well-meaning old lady who would quickly spread word of my mental instability to the rest of the dog-owning community. My subsequent dog-walking excursions would forever after be met with the glaring hostility of an entire neighborhood.

It seems that my particular brand of selectively affectionate behavior is far better suited to cat ownership. I understand their bitchy, separatist nature... I appreciate their pouty narcissism. When a cat submits to being the object of your attention, you can't help but feel complimented. Unconditional love? I'd rather earn it, thank you... or receive it grudgingly in trade for the food and shelter I provide, whichever way you see it.

click here for permalink July 09, 2001

Seven days since my last update. I feel guilty but also a bit silly apologizing to a silent and diminutive audience. By way of explanation, I've been watching lots of movies and wallowing in inexplicable depression...

Well, not entirely inexplicable, but I don't want to wax astrological on the topic of my own insecurities and paranoia. The funny part is how totally inappropriate my mood is to my surroundings. It's been so beautiful lately; a perfect summer for those of us who love the sun and heat and can deal with only having six hours of darkness.

That last one does get a little annoying at times... luckily, I have an extraordinary ability to sleep soundly in broad daylight when the need arises. I can sleep undisturbed in an incredibly noisy environment, as well, come to think of it... I'm not particularly proud of this but I've fallen asleep at a rave on more than one occasion and in more movies than I can remember. Odd that I should be so good at something that I don't particularly enjoy, as necessary bodily functions go. Oh well.

Rented "Cast Away" and had my biggest cry-fest since "Boys Don't Cry." Good lord, what a movie. It doesn't take a lot to get me weepy, as anyone I've known for more than a week can confirm, but this was different. It wasn't so much the ending (this isn't a spoiler) but rather the concept that underlay the entire movie.

Something about hope and the lack of it and what we live for... I can't stand to relive it enough to review it at the moment but I will say that Tom Hanks is an extraordinary actor and, as absurd as this sounds given his critical acclaim and success, I believe him to be somewhat underrated.

Well! Tonight's double feature represents the crowning jewels of 90's lesbian chic; "Bound" and "Wild Things." Did I hear someone say "Showgirls?" "Basic Instinct?" Bite your tongue. Maybe a little melodrama, murder, double-crossing intrigue and — let's be honest — Gina Gershon will be all I need to forget the existential torments of modern life for a while.

click here for permalink July 02, 2001

What an incredible weekend... got a last minute call on Saturday night from my best friend since we were eleven years old telling me he was on his way up from Seattle and to get ready for dinner out on the town.

We had a great time for the briefest visit ever (the poor dear had to drive back Sunday to get a big stack of paperwork done). But, for about twelve hours, we had a blast. It's funny how we can forget — for brief periods of time — the simple truth that we are most truly ourselves when we're around those who know us best and love us most.

It's not just the finishing each other's sentences or the way that eye contact can substitute for an entire page of dialog or even the fact that he knew Mr. Pink was my Mr. Right the first time they met — and took him aside to tell him so, like the sweet big brother I never had. There's just something about watching another person grow up and experience life and change over time and, more importantly, stay the same — and watching them watch you grow up and seeing yourself reflected in their eyes. It's a kind of recognition that's reassuring in a way that nothing else can be.

And the rest of the weekend (before and after the whirlwind visit) was spent basking in the beautiful sun that streamed, uninterrupted, into our apartment and playing movie trivia games until my brain finally shut off and we fell asleep in an oddly not-so-uncomfortable pretzel shape on the couch.