Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The DJ Nightmare Detailed

I have mentioned the "soundboard nightmare" a few times here, and the accompanying "DJ nightmare" as well. For some unknown reason I had it again this morning. It was typical and serves as a description of how they tend to go:

I am auditioning to be the DJ at a huge roller-rink which has been converted to a nightclub. They want me to do a "Retro 80s Goth Night," and I am confident that I can do this, especially because most of the patrons are my friends.

Unfortunately the CD players aren't working so I am forced to use vinyl...this is a slower process and I don't have a lot of vinyl with me. To start off with a bang -- and prove my credibility -- I play an obscure and well-loved song that everybody dances to usually, but instead, the crowd just stares at me and goes back to talking to each other. They are not drunk enough for this particular song. It was a bad choice.

In the booth with me is an acquaintance who is trying to help me, but instead of doing so he is simply a witness to all my mistakes, and a more immediate and professional judge than the invisible bar owner. When I cue up the next song he whispers that it's actually being auditioned on the program channel, and he shows me how to cue the record properly, even though it's something I should have known long ago.

Scrambling to unpack my records, the only other vinyl I have on hand so far is Belinda Carlisle, and I am forced to play's either that or dead air while I find something else. A few people dance sarcastically, and others begin to request songs.

I try to listen to their requests while unpacking the records, mindful that the Belinda Carlisle song is coming to an end, but all the records I'm pulling out are the "long-shot" ones that I shouldn't even bother carrying around: totally obscure choices that nobody ever wants to hear. They're on the top of the pile, apparently. Meanwhile a girl is trying to describe a song she wants to hear, but she doesn't know the name or artist so instead she's talking about the artist's lifestyle. I know that she's describing a newer song -- not one from the '80s -- but I have to let her finish before I can tell her I can't play it.

Just before the Belinda Carlisle song ends I find The Cure's "The Walk" single, and frantically get it set up and played...but it's a B-side flamenco guitar version. Some diehard Cure fans dance, but they don't really want to be doing so.

I believe I have the perfect follow-up, which will also serve as my redemption: the live version of Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts." But I can't find the album. I keep finding OTHER editions of their live album, but never the one with "Everything Counts" on it. Finally the previous song ends and there is a moment of dead air as I slap a different Depeche Mode album down and play something randomly...and it's an "unplugged" version with extended acoustic guitar solos.

A drunken friend jumps onto the dancefloor and starts acting obnoxious, dancing ridiculously and invading everybody's personal spaces. The few people who WERE dancing have left because of him. Meanwhile, up in the booth, I've managed to play ANOTHER incorrect version of a song, and this one is only seventy-one seconds long...even though I now have everything unpacked I'm unable to find a follow-up song which matches it. I'm fumbling with records, all of which have unwieldy gatefold covers and oddly-shaped record sleeves which cannot be swapped between them.

I keep on thinking that I will do better soon -- finally get organized and "in the groove" -- but it just never happens...I have ruined the night for everybody.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"The Substitute" ("Vikaren")

When I rent a movie that has been somehow handled by Lionsgate Entertainment, I am pretty much assured that I'll regret doing so. It won't be TERRIBLE, necessarily, just based on a derivative, quick-sell idea that has been bungled by fools during every step of the movie-making process. I mean jeez, they don't even know how to punctuate their company's name properly.

Yesterday I watched "Chill," which was leagues worse than even the WORST Lionsgate crap, so when I realized that the movie I rented TODAY was ALSO handled by Lionsgate I thought I was going to have to chop my own hands off, to prevent myself from doing such a thing ever again.

But no! It was "The Substitute" (or "Vikaren"), a beautifully-produced Danish film more fairy tale than horror flick, and it had more charm and invention than every other Lionsgate production combined. It's about an alien who poses as a substitute teacher in order to abduct a group of precocious pre-teens, and...well, that's it, really. The film is all about the children trying to resist her designs while their parents -- under the most ridiculously cheerful mind control you've ever seen -- literally drag their screaming kids back to class.

At the center of it all is actress Paprika Steen. As the alien teacher she is by turns sweet, bizarre, and absolutely evil, cruelly taunting the doomed children one moment and then sucking up to their parents the next. Steen deserves an award, but she probably doesn't need one because I suspect she relished the role.

On the downside, "The Substitute" tends to drag a bit and the ending effects are both jarring and unnecessary. What's more, the "love conquers all" theme is laid on pretty thick, ruining what should otherwise have been a relatively gritty story.

I wonder, though, if I'm the only person who has noticed that the story was ripped off from a piece of short fiction from the '80s. I'm afraid I can't remember the story's title or author -- I'll go hunting through my collection to find it later -- but it was about an alien who needs fresh recruits for her army, so she comes to earth as a substitute teacher in order to abduct children. She arrives in class and tries to teach the children about the politics and geography of her planet, and just when she's in the process of teleporting them all away, one of the kids manages to "pop" her like a balloon.

Sound familiar? To clinch it, the teacher in the story was (I think) named "Oona," and the teacher in the movie was "Ulla." Hmmmm.

Blatant plagiarism aside, "The Substitute" is far more interesting than the original short story was, and if you like a dark fairytale with a lot of humour, a few frights, and hundreds of chickens, this film is perfect. But take my advice: switch the audio to the original Danish, and turn on the English subtitles instead. The dubbing is terrible, and probably the only thing Lionsgate had a paw in.

PS: Here's a trailer...without subtitles I'm afraid.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Life in No-Time

I am not an efficient person if I don't have some sort of schedule. The very act of going to work five days a week is enough to keep me on track...buying groceries, cleaning the litterbox, actually getting dressed. Without that schedule, though, I'm jelly.

Right now I'm in the middle of a two week enforced vacation. For the most part I've been living a dreary half-life of sleeping, eating, and shuffling around aimlessly. Part of this time has been sent making sure my Sims graduate from university, but I'm proud to say that I AM in the process of accomplishing a few tasks, and I did in fact clean the litterbox this afternoon.

First, I've been reading Boswell's "Life of Johnson," which is by turns interesting and tedious. Samuel Johnson is still remembered as a man of language and wit, but it's apparent that his celebrated dinner-table ramblings were deliberately contrary and too often half-baked. What's more, they were usually little more than nasty gossip about OTHER 18th century men of wit, which means I can rarely care much about his subject matter.

Every page of "Life of Johnson" is pretty much like this:
The following night I was priveleged to dine with Samuel Johnson and his guests [Notable Reverend], [Famous Playwrite], [Respected Politician], and [Silly Annoying Person]. [Silly Annoying Person] was unfortunate in espousing his respect for [Much-Admired Scottish Poet]. Johnson wasted no time in cutting the poor man to shreds, calling any who so much as READ [Much-Admired Scottish Poet] a "blockhead," and then, turning on [Silly Annoying Person], making the pointed remark that "those who go so far as to read and then ADMIRE [Much-Admired Scottish Poet] are twice-over blockheads, who see in poetry little more than a reflection of their own inadequacies, and who are no better than the Scottish people themselves," which I felt a pretty cruel statement from so great a man.
Anyway, when I'm not wishing I could poke Samuel Johnson in his single remaining good eye, I am learning to play the bass.

Surprise! I borrowed a bass and an amp from my father, and I'm pleased to say I'm picking it up pretty well. I haven't even reached the "beginner" stage yet, but since I started last week with no knowledge of what a fret even WAS, I'm to the point where I can at least play the C Major scale and make my way through a two-octave tetrachord, which probably sounds harder than it is.

Pictures coming eventually (because it's all about the image of course).

Plan for a Holiday Blackout

1. The blue flashlight is in the second drawer of the hallway closet. There is also a yellow flashlight there which you bought when you forgot that you already had one.

2. Using either the blue or the yellow flashlight, find your way downstairs to the kitchen cupboards and locate the matches and candles you bought during the last blackout. Since that happened several years ago, you are not entirely sure which cupboard to look in, but you have faith that the matches and candles are still there. Unless you moved them, in which case you're in trouble.

3. Which to light: the tea lights or the tall, thin candles from the variety store? The tall candles need to be anchored to saucers with wax and you do not trust them; they totter and could start a fire. And you have very few clean saucers. But the tall, thin candles are much brighter than the more stable tea lights.

4. Once the candles are lit, turn the flashlight off. You may need it again and it's easier to manage in an emergency. What if you need to shine light into a corner? What if you need to run? Play it safe and use candles whenever you can.

5. When you enter a room, flick the light switch and be surprised when nothing happens. Realize that you've never noticed which of your switches were installed upside down.

6. Stand at the window and watch the savage snow and wind. Remark at the lack of streetlights and the cars that creep uncertainly. When you remark on these things you are speaking to an empty, dark apartment, except for the shadow which creaks in other rooms and which used to be your cat.

7. Fetch sweaters for warmth. The furnace is off. Do not sit too close to the candles. Put on slippers.

8. Give up all attempts to read during candlelight. This is why people went to bed so early in the 18th century. You cannot think of a single productive, solitary, modern thing to do by candlelight. Our ancestors had different eyes than we do.

9. Pile the extra blankets on the bed and try to sleep. Your nose is cold and you can barely breathe from the pressure of so many coverlets. The cat is desperate to join you. Listen to gusting wind, rattling the windows and ringing the chimes. Drift off to each lull and wake each time your apartment shakes.

10. Hours later, jump up in shock when the lights come on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

There is an evil air which surrounds the holidays. A partridge, exposed to it, would die.

My day is finished, I am rushing under a weight of dark clouds and snow. There isn't enough work to do now and I find it painfully difficult to pass the time. The questions I ask go unanswered because the world is losing its people; only the old and sick are left behind to mingle with the busy, and none of them have time to gather together. They've closed the doors to their homes and offices. They have no plans.

My own plans have changed to include foresight; I must find my way home, I must eat, I must wake up again tomorrow. In my dreams I see a wind-blurred deadline which refuses to be observed, but just as stubbornly refuses to be moved. When it arrives it will catch me standing there, exhausted, mouth hanging open. It will knock the tree over.

At home I can't bear to do the cleaning. Instead I stand at the glass and watch hills around me blow apart and become smoking-white planes. This vacation is a time for losing things: a friendship, a soul, a pair of beautifully-knitted mittens. These things are replaced by a freeze which comes through the bottom and sides of the kitchen door.

There is an evil air to the holidays, a pressure, a losing. I'll say something nice to the mailman when he comes back.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Knife

Workmate Mr. App occasionally turns me on to some fantastic music. This week he exposed me to The Knife, and loaned me their most recent album, "Silent Shout."

They're certainly not perfect -- they have a distinctive "recorded in our home studio" sound -- but there is something so unpleasant and honest about them that I can't help being charmed. The Swedish accents help, as do the vocalists who sound like detuned pixies who have been locked up in an abandoned asylum for far too long.

If it were more straight-forward it would be insufferably angsty. Fortunately it is not straight-forward.

Here's my favourite so far: "We Share Our Mothers' Health."

We and Kyle

We travel north to study the newly discovered insects. Kyle Borrowman is assigned to us, and we respect him because the dossier says that he can survive. He's not an entomologist, of course -- there's enough of us here already! -- but he understands how to climb hilltops, and how to find fresh water on the top of the hilltops he climbs, and he can also make a special kind of dirt-food that is edible if not always tasty. Kyle Borrowman has ensured the survival some very important people, says the dossier that we pass around, disinterested. OUR survival is not the first thing on our minds.

We have never learned to preserve anything larger than a bug. We're accustomed to sterile conditions where food and water are always available, sometimes fed to us automatically when we're busy. Apparently, for this journey, we NEED somebody like Kyle Borrowman, and since most creatures are in some way dependent on others we like to imagine that he needs us too.

We're not sure of that, we've done no studies.

The north is a difficult environment and our research skills are not very useful. As we travel, Kyle Borrowman saves each of us in turn from a rock slide, a flood, and an infection which spreads from foot to shin. Doctor Feeler almost dies from a snake that she tries to investigate with a stick. Borrowman sucks the venom out and says crude things about her leg.

In light of this we recognize our collective debt to him, and we decide unanimously that Kyle Borrowman is the only member of our party who actually deserves a name. He disagrees, brandishing his handmade axe, and says we're being darn foolish. If we don't stop doing this stuff, he says, he'll go back south and leave us here alone, damnit.

We reclaim our names and we acknowledge that there are certain things we do not understand. Kyle Borrowman approves and offers us tobacco, which we decline because it hurts our lungs. He says "What a bunch of pussies!" and spits.


Researchers are too weak and impractical to survive in the wilderness. Even amongst peers we have trouble with things like public transportation and grocery stores. Some of us have gotten lost in hallways while trying to locate the researchers from other facilities, and even stairways of more than one storey give us trouble.

Kyle Borrowman tends us with a down-home type of tough love; he's dependable but sometimes frightening. The songs he sings have uncouth lyrics and he uses the fat of still-living mammals to waterproof his canoe. Every time we set up our campsite he stores our food high up in a tree, and then he hollers that he's not coming back down to give us any until one of us manages to hit him with a rock. He's the only one who's really good at throwing rocks. Maybe this is his way of encouraging us to try new things. We are never sure when Kyle Borrowman is joking or when he is trying to tough-love us.

He has a sensitive side that is not always apparent. During restful times he listens to waves sloshing against the shore, and he says they remind him of his home by the Lake Of No Name. We, by comparison, listen to the quiet buzzing of microscopic wings in our specimen jars. Kyle says that small things like that are not worth listening to, he is more interested in The Large.

Our camp is scattered with jars made of crystal, and each jar holds something that's very, very small. In a rare mood, far north of the timberline, Kyle Borrowman asks us what all of our junk is for and we don't really know what to say, but after a bit of discussion we try to explain it to him.

"Studying the insects is exciting," one of us says, and the rest of us applaud him. When Kyle Borrowman looks unimpressed, Doctor Feeler reads him some untranslated excerpts from her research notes. "This is what we do," she says. "We study."

Kyle Borrowman doesn't care. "That's fine," he says, "but can any of you do this?" He takes off his shirt and flexes his biceps, which are so massive and hairy that we can't believe we have similar biceps of our own. He turns around and flexes again so we can see him from the back. Doctor Feeler says that she doesn't think she could do such things personally, but she can't speak for anybody else. We agree.

His laugh is meaty, like his smell and like his hands. We can only keep his attention for a short time and we worry that he'll grow bored of us, forget the contract he signed, and leave us in the north to die.

He goes hunting with his axe and brings back rabbits, otters, and bears, all dead. He can drag a monster home by its antlers without sweating more than he usually does. We appreciate the effort but we insist on eating dry rations out of ziplocked bags, and he grunts, annoyed. He has begun brewing his own beer with cheesecloth, tinfoil, and tiny pieces of moss. Sometimes he looks at us and we wonder what he's thinking about.


It becomes terribly hot and the trees are poor shelter. Our little crystal jars reflect light-beams. Our tents steam, the beer ferments with a rich dungy odour, Kyle Borrowman sits drunk and naked on the rock which he calls his throne.

His torso is covered with mosquitoes but this doesn't seem to bother him. When he stares at Doctor Feeler like a lascivious killer, her sunburned face turns perceptively redder and she devotes extra study to her insects.

Our anxiety increases as the heat gets worse. Unable to look directly at our bright thermometers, we estimate the temperature from the oscillations of midges. The radio transmitter no longer works, but on cloudless nights we can hear German opera, and Doctor Pop sings along.

We run out of dry rations but we are afraid to ask Kyle Borrowman to bring some down from the tree-top, which for days has been surrounded by eagerly-fighting crows. We have heard about hunger before, but we have never known it personally. This is not within our realm of research and it is experienced without first setting down a proposal.

"So," says Kyle Borrowman one morning, addressing Doctor Feeler as usual, "you ever DONE IT with a mountain man?"

Nobody answers. It's terribly hot and we stare at our ragged shoes.

He points to the mound of mosquitoes on his crotch. "We gotta get it on."

That night we gather in Doctor Feeler's tent and hold a vote: we will no longer answer any questions which make us feel uncomfortable. We pack the delirious Doctor Pop in formaldehyde put him to bed, and in the morning he dies.

Our weaknesses infuriate Kyle Borrowman, who rarely stirs from his mosquito blanket. He says that Doctor Pop was a useless man who should have drank more fluids to prevent dehydration. He threatens us in a fuzzy voice and his threats, as always, are effective. By simply sitting on his throne and waving his axe around, Kyle Borrowman is more powerful than the rest of us combined.

That afternoon the heat breaks and a downpour floods our tents. We run to Kyle Borrowman for help and we discover that he is gone, and so is Doctor Feeler. She left her notes behind.


One day our savage children see an equally wild old woman stalking our burrow. The woman's lab coat is patched with fur and she is holding a knife in her hands, something tough and made of bone. Instead of fighting, our children jump and holler, and eventually the old woman goes away.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"According to Queeney" by Beryl Bainbridge

Typically, I'm falling in love with Beryl Bainbridge during a time when most of her books are out of print. It seems strange that this woman with a knighthood could be so unknown and so often passed over for awards, but that's probably part of her charm; if Oprah promoted her she'd seem a little less radical.

I read "Harriet Said" on a total whim, and immediately scooped up the few used copies of her books that I could find. I'm treating them like rich delicacies that I don't want to eat all at once, only reading them when I need to rekindle my enthusiasm for books.

After a maddening attempt at reading John McPhee's "Annals of the Former World" (which was like digging through a mile of shifting sand in order to find a few pieces of loose change and a rubber band) I desperately retreated to my Bainbridge stash: "According to Queeney," a 2001 novel about Samuel Johnson's relationship with Hester Thrale and her daughter Queeney.

I know very little about Johnson -- "The Life of Samuel Johnson" is next on my list -- but it seems like Bainbridge has taken various accounts of his life, mashed them up a bit, introduced the inconsistencies you'd expect to find in a wide selection of primary sources -- Queeney's after-the-fact recollections both clarify and obscure the events in the narrative itself -- and then hung a pall of doom over all of it. In the book, Johnson and his friends are obsessed with death, the macabre, and the grotesque, all the more disturbing in the otherwise pastoral setting. None of the characters seem able to get any pleasure out of life unless the events are tainted by bizarre tragedy.

I don't know if this is an established aspect of Johnson's life, but it certainly seems to be part of Bainbridge's general style. From the first "flash-forward" pages, with Johnson's corpse being dissected under a flayed dog which is hung from the ceiling, to the repeated motif of deformity, passive cruelty, injury, and missing buttons, you feel like you're facing 18th century fears as they really were, not as the glossy stereotypes that producers of historical dramas would present.

Visiting France in 1775, Bainbridge's version of Hester Thrale has these main impressions:
She watched the scarlet streaks flooding the darkening sky and thought of other things: of the Queen's gown made of gauze adorned with flowers and of the pearl bracelets on her wrists; of the French way of cruelly whipping their horses over the face; of the infants in the Foundling Hospital pining away to perfect skeletons and expiring in neat cribs with a bottle hung to its neck containing a milk mess , which if they could suck on they might live, and if not, would die; of the anniversary of her wedding day some two days past and of Henry presenting her wifh flowers and stammering she had been a good wife to him. That she had never been in love was not a great deprivation, for what one had never known was scarcely to be fretted over.
The darkness of Anna Kavan, but readable and superbly written. It doesn't make me happy to read "According to Queeney" but it sure makes me swooney.


On the final day of shooting, the director notices me and he has a revelation: my eyes are perfect, he says, and so is my bearing, as one who has served proudly and remained below the status she has deserved. I will be elevated, he tells me. I will play the part.

A headdress is prepared. Against my wishes I am placed before a mirror to practice my lines. My own replacement, a new servant, whispers to me what I already know: this is blasphemous, it is against the rules and the customs. I must not do this thing, even in jest. I must not appear without makeup. I must not speak in my own voice.

The director is busy with his other duties. During rehearsals the actors look at me with a mixture of hostility and pity. They know I can't be allowed to do this. So do I.

The next morning I lie in bed, listening. The headdress has been quietly removed from my room. Somebody else is saying my lines in the courtyard.

The Muffyoglb

There comes a time, with any endeavor, when I feel that I've said everything I want to say within certain parameters. Having set myself a goal of tone and style, and having laid down rules for my own behaviour, I have a blast for two or three years and then -- slowly -- my enthusiasm wanes. That's how I felt with the Bollybob reviews and with the old She-Devils radio show.

Unfortunately that's also how I've begun to feel about "The Muffyblog."

When I started the blog I unconsciously chose the approach of writing first-person, experience-based posts in an almost "essay" style. I'd just started my technical writing job and, perhaps influenced by it, I tried to stay away from fanciful things, unfinished ideas, or just plain fantasy.

When I DID write inscrutable posts I fell afoul of my OTHER rule, one more consciously-decided: to respond to EVERY SINGLE COMMENT that anybody left for me. I wanted to be warm and friendly and welcoming. But whenever somebody asked me "what did you MEAN by that?" I felt the need to answer their question, even though I feel that inscrutable posts should NOT be explained.

In addition, I felt that I couldn't just respond to a comment by saying simply "Thanks!" or "I agree," I needed to write MEANINGFUL responses, which became increasingly difficult the more informal the comments were. In short, I felt I needed to write mini-essays to comments that the person probably didn't even expect a RESPONSE to, let alone one that was interesting or entertaining or meaningful.

As my mailbox filled with notifications of comments posted I grew increasingly avoidant. If I didn't meet a quota of at least one post for every day of the month, I felt like I was failing. And I had that nagging, familiar feeling that there were no more posts left in my head because I'd already said everything I'd wanted to.


The idea of "The Muffyoglb" is a liberation from this. It's a subtle change of philosophy. Rather than needing to write sociological studies of every experience in my life -- and not posting them until I've thought them through to some extent -- "The Muffyoglb" will be a spot for me to post what I feel like posting. I'm sure there will be unconscious rules for what I've posted -- that's inevitable -- but at least they'll be different rules, and hopefully more inspiring to me.

As for the comments, that's where the CONSCIOUS change is: I have promised myself that I no longer need to respond to them. I still crave them, and I'll read every single one of them, and if there are some that I want to answer then I definitely will...but I'll no longer NEED to. Comments will foremost be reader-created addendums to posts, if any are made.


Thank you for reading "The Muffyblog" and "The Muffyglob" over the last few years! Maybe "The Muffyoglb" will be exactly the same, or maybe it will go totally stagnant, but either way I feel like a weight has been removed from my back...and that's a good thing for me. It's probably a good thing for the blog as well!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

As an Extension of the Below Post

Two come-on lines I heard tonight:
MAN: Do you know how hot you two girls are?


MAN: Do your boyfriends know?
That's a clever way of determining a person's level of attachment. And then, said to me:
MAN: Were you on "So You Think You Can Dance?"
What the hell? Who responds positively to that? It's so totally out of this world that the speaker must be both drunk and stupid.

Unless I really WAS on "So You Think You Can Dance" and I just don't remember it.

The Fetish

Friday nights at Club Abstract teach me a lot about human behaviour...I mean, the behaviour of humans that I don't deal with in every day life, at least not in an intimate, pseudo-sexual way.

These Friday nights are very heterosexual: young men go there to find women to have sex with, and young women are in the privileged position of being able to pick and choose among the men at the bar. This is not an unusual situation...

...until I arrive, because I genuinely enjoy the music and because I trust the staff. My very presence in the bar is a case study in gender, because suddenly the focus changes.

(I don't want to say that I am the ONLY person who could disrupt the bar's focus in such a way, because obviously I only know what happens there when I'm actually THERE. Still, I assume that when I'm there the men get somewhat distracted by the creature that is Muffy, and...well, I'm not really sure what the average girl does when I'm there).

I'm VERY curious about the men who are attracted to me...and I mean, the men who really know that I'm a man, which is increasingly obvious as I get older. I want to know WHY they like me, and my incessant questions are probably the ultimate turn-off for guys that I'm already determined NOT to be involved with: who do you NORMALLY date? What do you LIKE about me? What do you EXPECT?

After a brief interaction with Spanish men who had obnoxious stories to tell about "traps" they'd met in the past, I was extensively fumbled by a "straight identified" guy who simply wanted sex...and this was the sort of situation that could simply go on and on and on.

Who are these guys? These men who have virulently heterosexual friends and who go out looking for women, but perhaps never pick them up because they don't REALLY LIKE the women. What do they WANT? When I show up in their ecosystem -- the fish they truly desire to catch but never expect to actually find -- how do they ultimately RELATE to me?

That's the really interesting question. Sometimes they get disturbed and scared. Sometimes they express a deep hostility, quietly, under their breath. Usually they just tell stupid jokes. Tonight was the first time I was approached by a man who really tried to make me feel GUILTY: "I don't ever get chances like this and you're REFUSING my advances? You're ruining my LIFE!"

I suspect that this is a technique used by bar-men frequently, to get women to sleep with them anyway, so this is surely nothing new. In this situation it was particularly nasty because I honestly DO want such men to find comfort...I want them to be able to explore their sexuality without their jerkoff friends taking covert pictures of me, which they were, oddly.

But -- as I explained -- we're all adults, and we're all responsible for our sexuality...and if you want to keep your sexuality HIDDEN it's best not to do it around the aforementioned jerkoff friends. Especially not when you're way too drink and are about to be kicked out for two dozen different reasons, one of which is your treatment of me.

I don't pretend that my own sexuality something easy to deal with. I like to think that I'll help others to explore theirs as well. But I suppose my message to the world is that being somebody's "fetish" is not necessarily a complimentary thing, and -- most importantly -- that "no means no."

Still, however, I find myself wondering: what do these men want from me? Is this just a fantasy? Or, more unlikely, something more significant? What do they LIKE? Who am *I* to them? Everybody probably asks these questions, at least in their heads.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cat with Mother's Eyes

Suitcase packed! Cat-sitter booked! Plans made! All ready to have a blow-out weekend in, socializing, schmoozing!

And then the storm came. Then it continued to come. Then it REALLY came, and threatened to come for many hours hence. In my mind's eye I saw myself stuck in a stranded bus on the 401, surrounded by emotional misfits and knife-wielding executioners. Then I saw myself actually IN Toronto, trudging through snow and wind to both arrive at and depart from J&C's apartment sanctuary.

My cat looked at me with the eyes of my mother. When I was a young adult, my mother would look at me and say "You CAN'T go out in this sort of weather." Unconcerned with my mortality and resenting any form of control I would go out anyway, and get stuck in ditches and mowed down by ravaging snowplows.

But now I'm an adult. My mother didn't dare say "You CAN'T go out in this sort of weather," but my CAT seemed to. And as frail and senile as she seems to be getting I can't disregard the wisdom that best-laid plans SHOULD be aborted when the situation calls for it. I'm not a quitter or a loser, I'm just being SENSIBLE.

Thanks, ma. Thanks, Zsa. I'm staying home today. Sigh!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Cowboy Junkies Musical Moment

Tomorrow night's another Club Renaissance "Glamourspunk Night," and in a quest to find new songs to perform I've finally tackled the holy grail: "'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel" by Cowboy Junkies.

It's already a risky song because it's slow and sad, but it's also eloquent and poignant and awfully fitting for a "bar performance around Christmas." The only problem is the extended instrumental portion in the middle, which consists of a steel guitar solo followed by an accordion solo, during which the key and the mood changes from "I'm game" to "I've found temporary happiness" to "I'm simply resigned."

Cutting instrumentals out of songs is easy enough to do, and I do it frequently to prevent me from prancing about on stage with nothing to do. But this instrumental is one of the most important parts of the tells a story in a way the words never could. And the solos are so individual and complete that you simply cannot chop pieces out of them. Believe me, I've tried.

After all this editing frustration I can only conclude one thing: this song is a perfect construction which cannot be dismantled. You can't take a single thing out of it without throwing the whole thing out of balance. That's annoying, but it's also evidence of a really special piece of music. This is one of the world's most under appreciated "musical moments."

I guess I'll just have to come up with some "business" in the middle.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Coalition Crisis, Yarrgh

I have to admit I'm getting a real kick out of Canada's sudden "coalition crisis." It's not just that I'm hoping to see Stephen Harper get trounced, or that I believe it really IS time for Liberals and NDPs to join up and stop splitting the vote...I'm mainly excited because stuff like this doesn't HAPPEN very often in Canadian politics.

First off you've got Harper's lackey presenting a preliminary budget and an economic statement that is both ridiculous AND a punch in the progressive nose. Rather than nurse their sore noses and let Harper get away with it, the three opposition parties ganged up and utilized a totally bizarre -- but also totally legal -- parliamentary move which allows them to simply kick Harper out of power and replace him...with themselves!

As if that weren't fun enough, everybody's screaming at everybody else because this tricky maneuver requires the cooperation of the Bloc Québécois, the stinkiest party in Ottawa. Every few years it is necessary for somebody to cozy up with the Bloc, which prompts a firestorm of insults from everybody else: "Your party is in bed with the SEPARATISTS, and therefore you HATE CANADA!" What's amusing is that few people outside of the parliamentary chamber actually believe this rhetoric, especially since the people yelling those insults had no doubt cozied up to the Bloc just a year or two before. That's the case now, and it was also the case the last three times this happened.

It's hard not to view Canadian parliament as childish. They're no more cynical and immature than other governments, I'm sure, but they also tend to secretly WANT TO GET ALONG. So even when they scream and shout at each other, you know that deep down inside they hope it'll all blow over and they can all be friends.

But this time, it's like one of the babies in Parliament pushed the other babies down...and then they all pulled out GUNS! It's like, wow, you guys MEAN it this time! You really HATE each other! This is SO COOL!

I can say this with an air of amused detachment because I have no doubt that things will work out just fine. It's easy to get outraged about the microscopic elements of Canadian politics, but when I view it from a two- or three-year distance it all looks pretty much the same. That's good for unity, but bad for engagement.

I like it the way it is.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dr. Seuss and Flit: "Mosquitoville"

Just look at this estranged couple, he in his baggy, ill-fitting clothing and she with a figure so broken down that her breasts almost reach her waistline. This, apparently, is what happens when you waste away in Mosquitoville, lookin' for your lost sprayer of Flit.

This episode of "Dr. Seuss and Flit" brought to you by the May 11, 1929 issue of The New Yorker magazine.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fred and Portland

I hear a lot of great comedy duos while listening to old time radio, but one of my favourites is Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa. There's something about his deadpan sarcasm and her earnest stupidity -- and strangely clipped delivery -- that makes me happy. Not to mention they have a decidedly bizarre and almost scary style of humour.

After years of hearing them guest-star on other people's programs, I've finally gotten started on the Fred Allen Show proper. Here I am, listening to the first existent episode (from Christmas day 1932) and I'm already in love.
FRED: Who's first on your list?

PORTLAND: Grandpa. I wanna buy him some liver tonic.

FRED: "Doctor Groan's" is the best.

PORTLAND: Yes, that's very good. The man upstairs used that for twenty years. It cured HIM!

FRED: That's fine.

PORTLAND: He died last week.

FRED: Well, if he died cured, that's something.

PORTLAND: You can't blame the liver tonic.


PORTLAND: No! After the old man died they had to beat his liver with a stick for three days to kill it.
If I had a daughter, I would seriously consider naming her Portland.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Beefcake in Irish Poplin

And the award for LEAST sexy male apparel goes to...

Reis' jimpants of Burton's Irish poplin!

I'm not sure what that entire sentence means exactly, but according to the write-up these jimpants are as "Masculine as a Dunhill pipe" and are "For the man who is really particular about his nether apparel."

What's interesting is that in phys ed we always talked about our "GYM pants," since we wore them in the gymnasium. And even though our pants didn't look like KGB torture devices and we didn't smoke while wearing them, I suppose we never guessed that they were once called "JIMpants." I assume that this was an American-ized version of the term, before they just gave up and used "gym" instead.

Just think, kids...gym could have been worse!