Sunday, December 19, 2004

Live From New York...

Sorry about that last bitch - this was the post that I was intending to make in the first place today. I am a big fan of Saturday Night Live. I have to say that I prefer the newer ones, simply because I'm of the right age to understand the impersonations and pop culture jokes a fair bit more than the old ones in the 1970s. Sure, there are still the classic skits that make sense even now, but there are a few that are rendered incomprehensible due to the generation gap. I'd say I've been watching SNL for about five years, and I've come to a conclusion about the hosts and the quality of the show. Now, again, these rules don't apply to everyone, just a fairly large percentage.

With the celebrities that host the show every week, I've noticed that there are two kinds of hosts. There are the participating hosts and there are the reacting hosts. They aren't necessarily based on whether the host is a musician or an actor or a comedian, and sometimes aren't even dependant on whether the celebrity has a history of being funny on television.
The reacting hosts are the hosts that aren't funny. They may be funny on their respective shows or their CDs, but they are the ones that tend to bring the show down. The reason I call them reacting hosts is because that is what they spend the majority of their skits doing: they play the straight man, the so-called "normal person" who reacts (hence the name) to the crazy characters played by the SNL performers. They may have a few half-hearted funny skits, but reacting is what they spend most of their time doing.

The participating hosts are the hosts that are the most entertaining, the ones that make the show worth watching. They do not simply stand by and let the SNL guys take the spotlight - they often participate in the craziness, and sometimes even come up with a hilarious character of their own. Let's put it this way, in Cheri O'Teri's "Simmah Down!" skit, the reacting host would be the offended person who's on the receiving end of her "Simmah Down!", and the participating host would be the lady's manager behind the counter, giving their own classic rendition of "Simmah Down!" (Tobey Maguire's "Donna Summer" gag is an example.)

Sometimes the reacting host isn't always bad - sometimes they get the short shrift, but the main reason that a host is reacting is this: they aren't funny on live TV. However, the skits aren't the only indication that this particular episode that you're watching is going to be sub-par. Here are a few indicators of bad hosts:

1. They star as "themselves" in skits: This is a prime factor in whether they are bad or not. With "fake talk show skits " like the "I'm Just Keeding!" guy and the "Prince Show", the participating (ie: good) hosts usually do impressions of some other celeb. However, the bad hosts are forced to play themselves because they can't be funny otherwise - they have to squeeze laughs out of the fact that they are playing themselves and doing weird things "as themselves". Sad examples of this would be Colin Firth, Jennifer Aniston and Robert DeNiro. Exceptions to the rule would be Ben Affleck's classic skit where he spars with a mentally retarded man while filming Gigli.

2. They're not the centre of their opening monologues: This is a good indicator - it tells you straight off the bat who's going to be taking centre stage in the skits later on. The awesome Sir Ian McKellan did an entire monologue by himself with no help from others, Steve Martin was the centre of an entire musical number, and Ben Affleck had the hilarious T-Shirt joke about how he couldn't profit off of the "Bennifer" name because the branded T-shirts arrived after he and JLo broke up. Even Christina Aguilera sang one of her songs acapella (let's see Ashlee Simpson do that!). Examples of how this goes wrong would be Cameron Diaz's monologue - where her talented ass-shaking was upstaged completely by Will Ferrell's "ass choreographer" character, or Reverand Al Sharpton's bit when he was pushed aside by Tracy Morgan's impression of him.

3. "Featuring a Cartoon by Robert Smigel": The reason they show animations? Because that means less time for a bad celebrity to make an ass out of him/herself.
Remember what I said at the beginning that a host's hilarity factor has little to do with fame, or whether they are funny in other shows? This holds true - here are some examples of horrible hosts:

Jennifer Aniston and Megan Mullaly - I know! They're hilarious on Friends and Will & Grace! Why not here? Well, Jennifer falls prey to the "look at me I'm funny just because I'm Jennifer Aniston" attitude, and Megan Mullaly basically rips off her character from W&G for every skit. Dullsville!

Halle Berry - We don't care that you won an Oscar. Your skit about the Quickie Pills does nothing except reveal to us that you must have a really good sex life, because you're really bad at faking an orgasm.

Colin Firth - Don't make fun of Jude Law! That doesn't make us laugh, that makes us angry!
Al Gore - have you people even seen him on TV? Why would you want him to bring that vibe to SNL?

Now, the good thing about good hosts is that sometimes they surprise you. They come out of nowhere, waving their arms and pitching their voices in ways you never thought possible. Some of these people made me groan when I heard they would be hosting - but they quickly changed my mind with their surprising talents.

Justin Timberlake - 6 words: "Bring it on down to Omeletteville!" I thought you'd be some stuck-up person who used his "Justin Timberlake" persona to phone it in. You didn't! You danced in an omelette costume to "I'm a Slave 4 U!" You blasted Michael Bolton and Jessica Simpson! You said "I was only partially diddled" and "We need another napkin - this one's on FIRE!" with a straight face, and yeah, you did have to hide your face to keep from giggling over Jimmy Fallon's "Brothers Gibb Political Talk Show" skit, but we forgive you because Jimmy Fallon laughs at his own jokes, too.

Sir Ian McKellan - I didn't even know you were gay until this show! Your "Hot Air Ballon Inspector" skit was pure comedy gold, you gave two nerds an orgasm by "imitating" Gandalf from LOTR and then promptly disappointed them with your "horrible" rendition of Magneto from X-Men. You seared Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench with one blow and then promptly did what millions of women have longed to do - catch Jimmy Fallon helplessly by surprise by turning what was meant to be a harmless peck on the cheek into a French kiss that Jimmy will never forget.

Elijah Wood - I guess something about the Lord of the Rings films makes actor's reading to try new things. Your "Soprano Choir Boy" performance is one that I will always remember at Christmas time, and your imitation of Boy George is almost disturbing in its accuracy. You also added some new life to Chris Kattan's tired "Old Vegas Comedian" gig, even if you did look like Screech from Saved by the Bell, only with better '80s clothes.

Jack Black - my dad keeps mistaking you for Meat Loaf, and you only added to his confusion with the brilliant "New Birthday Song" gag that roasts Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf's love for long, complicated, and "epic" song styles. You skewered fairy tales as the monster who "doesn't want a fair maiden, but a slutty older woman because she knows more", and then potheads with your "High Times Investigative Reporter" skit. Way to go! You met all expectations!

Ben Affleck - If your next high-profile relationship pans out, if your latest big-budget film goes down the crapper, if your career seems totally washed up - fear not. You will always be welcome at Rockefellar Center. The fantastic turn-around on Jimmy Fallon's last "Boston" skit - as the recurring macho character who turns out, at the very end, to be gay, or as Dan, Dan, the Garbage Man who schools Jimmy Fallon's repulsive "Shock Jock" - you can turn even old, dead skits into gold - at least while you're in them. You are not afraid to make fun of yourself - and that is a must for good hosting.

Did you think we'd really forget you? Never! The Holy Quadrulogy of SNL Hosts - Steve Martin, John Goodman, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks. There isn't enough space to congradulate you for all the good hosting you have done. You are integral to SNL culture. Three cheers!

Walking Through a Weepy Wonderland 2: Revenge of the Ornaments!

Hello there. I know you, dear readers, have probably thought that after many parental admonitions, I would stop burdening you with tearful accounts of my progenitors' transgressions. Not so! Of course, the whole disastrous affair is partly my fault as well, and I know they are decent parents at the end of the day, but I'm only telling you these things now so that I don't have to remind you later and spoil my bitching. One can never bitch properly if one takes the blame.

Every year, we go through the same Christmas ritual - the week before Christmas, we set up our fake tree (it spares the environment, saves us money, and no pine needles need be cleaned afterwards), fill our 5-track CD player with our five favourite Christmas CDs and set it on Spiral (plays song #1 from the first CD, than #1 from the second CD, etc. etc.), and put up all our decorations. We use none of those glass balls, and our candy canes are always secreted on the space of the branches close to the trunk so that we can't get at them until Christmas is over.

Our ornaments tend to be a mixture of wooden miniature toys - wooden angels, wooden figures of Santa playing various musical instruments, rocking horses, boys on drums, the odd eccentric decorations that we receive as gifts from friends and relations - the fat ballerina, the heart-shaped mirror with my name scrawled on it in long-hardened glitter gel, the red and white felt birds in tiny golden cages (although the white one had long fallen off its perch), and old handmade ones that are wretched, but too dear to us to throw away - my sisters' laminated construction paper stars with their first-grade photos on them, along with numerous figures made out of various kinds of uncooked, spray-painted pasta.

I love going about the whole affair - listening (and often singing along to) the Christmas music, while hanging out with my family and joking while we convert an artificial representation of a pagan symbol into an artificial representation of a Christian symbol with our various knickknacks suspended on gold thread. There were years when Mum wouldn't do it, or when Sister One or Sister Two had a hissy fit and removed her presence from the activities, but I could never remember a year when I didn't help. I'm sure during the early years of my childhood development (ages 11 months - five years) I may have been a little reluctant to offer my decorative services in favour of running away and hiding, or else trying to pull the tree down around my ears, but once my mind could grasp the meaning of the word "tradition", I like to believe that I was wholeheartedly devoted to it.

Count this year out, then. Today, Sister One had a belt exam for Tai Kwon Do (she's moving up from green striped to solid green, apparently) in a town that is about half an hour away from our own. Loyal parents that they were, Mum and Dad agreed to drive and spectate the entire 3-hour event (I passed - I had to study, an activity which, er, I will begin to do shortly. I promise.). We were all rather late risers, so at 10:30, everyone realized they had to hurry and get showered, dressed, and decorate the tree before Mum, Dad and Sister One (I wasn't sure if Sister Two would be going) had to leave for the exam. We rushed to our respective showers, but Mum got to hers first, than Sister One, so I had to wait. While in my room, I heard someone start playing Christmas music downstairs. I grew rather suspicious (and rightly so), but I clung to my (now proven to be wrong) assumption that my family, who were aware of my devotion to this annual activity (yet another wrong assumption) would alert me to any early commencement of decoration.

Of course, after waiting through two showers, I had my own, got dressed, and went downstairs - to discover the entire tree was finished. My family had not waited. My family had done it all without me. Oh, they'd left "a few" decorations for me to add as a paltry consolation - six of the cheapest ornaments we had, that were gaudy enough to give my family members pause as to where, exactly, they could put them without attracting any undue attention to them. Don't get me wrong. After much thought, I'm not really angry at my parents for doing this. They had very little time before they had to leave. They couldn't wait for everyone to start. They assumed that I'd respond to the Christmas music the way Pavlov's dog responded to the bell and that any absence on my part was entirely of my own choosing. And they had, after all, thought they'd told everyone to start while Mother had her shower first.

I'm just surprised. Surprised that they'd think I would refuse to participate in such a wonderful activity without giving any discernable reason. What if I had fallen on my head and been knocked unconscious in my bedroom? They should have checked! Surprised that they'd think I would be perfectly mollified by the "honour" of being able to put six - only six! - of the ornaments on the tree, after everyone else had finished (although, given the ridiculous alternative - taking all of the decorations down and starting again at a later time that was convenient to everybody - I can be a little tolerant of that). Surprised that they would not remember my enthusiasm for the holidays of previous years. They've known me for eighteen years! How - how could they just have forgotten that? I was especially surprised when they had the gall to suggest (after I'd made the only response I thought was appropriate at the time for such a nasty discovery - bursting into tears and fleeing to my room) that I'd ruined the whole experience for everyone. My reaction was bad, yes, and it wasn't entirely their fault - but knowing that isn't suddenly going to make me any less miserable. I am miserable. I didn't get to decorate the tree. Granted, it was due to a miscommunication on my part (what Mother said: "Everyone have a shower, and start decorating the tree!" What I heard: "Everyone have a shower, so we can start decorating the tree!"), but knowing that it's my fault and that there's nothing I can do about it doesn't fix anything. The tree is finished - and not by me. How's any of this supposed to make me feel any better?

For some reason, my parents expect me to be happy now. But I'm not. Christmas 2004 is officially tainted for me now, because I will never be able to look at that tree without remembering that I didn't get to help with it. I think God was trying to spite me today, because Sister One's Tamagotchis (little virtual pets that programed to know the date and time) started making Christmas trees of their own on their tiny square screens - while mine made a poo, and not a Christmas Poo either. Bah! Humbug!

In conclusion, however, I want to get one thing straight. I don't hate my parents. They're wonderful people. This whole thing was made out of a huge mistake and miscommunication. I don't even really blame my parents for this. The main reason for writing this is that it makes me feel better - and I needed an outlet to articulately express my misery at having missed this holiday treat.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Barbie kicks Disney's Ass!

Still weeping a little over that little Canadian Tire commerical...*sigh* And now I've taken up a habit of forgetting my purse at Christmas parties, very annoying. Sisters One and Two have acquired the hobby of tormenting me, citing my "retardedness" as a perfectly legitimate reason for their disgraceful actions, regardless of where we might be at the moment, like church. They're sinful little heretics, but I love them for Mother's sake. I can't understand what she sees in them, other than half of her genes that, in my opinion, are wasted on them.

Getting back to news...As most of you, dear readers, have already figured out by now, I'm a child a heart. Being "a child at heart" is, actually, a rather flimsy excuse for being immature, or retaining an interest in things that are intended to be childish. I'm not talking about anime (it is not always intended for children...if you screened a copy of Ninja Scroll in front of a crowd of five-year-olds you would scar them for life and doubtless have them packed off to Child Services), but I am talking about American animation in general.

While a few shows attempt to aim for older set through sly in-jokes (Animaniacs, Fairly OddParents, the "Beat-Alls" episode of Powerpuff Girls) or just plain weirdness (how, exactly, do pineapples get under the sea? And why would sponges live in them, much less wear pants?), there are very few that were not initially intended to entertain children. That is much the same with American animated movies.

I like to flatter myself by telling people that I grew up in the Golden Age of Walt Disney - or at least, the Golden Resurrection of Walt Disney. Born in 1986, I was just the right age to enjoy The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King without causing my parents to roll their eyes and mutter about how they won't buy the DVDs because they would be a "bad investment for my life". However, recently, most animated movies for kids have, in my opinion at least, dropped in quality. Walt Disney, after being briefly resurrected in the '90s, died again, horribly. This is for several reasons, which I shall explain:

1) They got rid of the music - one of the best qualities of The Lion King was the African music. They managed to keep the toes tapping while not having to resort to Broadway numbers every time. Disney movies have consistantly been nominated by the Academy Awards for original music, why would they slaughter that golden goose in favour of cheesy background music? Look at Tarzan and Treasure Planet. The Goo-Goo Dolls and Phil Collins have both produced good music, where they're writing it for radio. It just makes the movies dull, what's wrong with them singing?

2) Too many famous people. This doesn't only apply to Disney films - Sinbad was also a blaring example. The good animated movies were mostly voiced by irrecognizable actors from TV or radio, with maybe one or two noticeable celebrities to make it funny. Robin Williams was in Aladdin. Eddie Murphy was in Mulan. What other powerful, A-list personality was in those films? The thing with too many famous people, is that they already have a Star Persona, something I learned about in Film Studies. Each actor with a Star Persona has an emotional, personal, psychological baggage that they carry into each movie. George Clooney is smug. Julia Roberts is cheerful and loves to laugh. Johnny Depp is weird and ooky - and sexy at the same time. Even hidden behind technicolour characters, people will still recognize those people, and their Star Persona taints the animated film that is intended for children. Adults can't watch the film with an open mind. They're not watching Sinbad go through an adventure, they're watching Brad Pitt do a series of animated stunts in a recording studio. Shrek 2 is a bit of an exception, but that's mainly because this movie breaks the next rule even more.

3) Too many pop culture references. You know, people still watch Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White. They still appreciate the magic and excellent music and storytelling. Why? Because they're timeless. Putting a pop culture reference in a movie is the same as putting an expiration date on it. Same with music - nobody I know can listen to Prince's Party Like It's 1999 without giggling. Shrek did a little bit of that, but it mostly stayed with skewering fairy tales and Disney films. Shrek 2, however, falls into the pit of Going Overboard. There were hundreds of pop culture jokes and asides and in-jokes in that film. Sure, people laugh now (even I did) and maybe they will in the next ten years - but fifty years from now, no one's going to understand it or enjoy as much as we did, and that's is a mistake. Pop-culture may be the animator's way to get adults to like a film - but they're going to die first. Why not cater to the future instead?

4) Poo has always been funny to the younger set, but the adult animators and filmmakers used to be too polite to mention it. Now they throw it in our face. That's another downfall of animated films - and children's movies in general. Farts. C'mon, say it with me. Farts! Poo! Pee! Hee hee! Boobies! What the hell is wrong with you people? Children have always giggled over sex and poo jokes - I have, my sisters have, my parents did when they were young. They've done it before kids movies ever started exploiting it for humour. Making movies about it just encourages it, instead of letting them grow up and discover the hard way that poo and farts are stinky, and boobies are only really appreciated once you reach a certain age.

Now, let me get to my final point. Some of you with children may be aware of this. Barbie, that slim blonde do-it-all doll (who recently dumped her boyfriend Ken of 40 years for an Australian surfer named Blaine) has been starring in films. No, no, not for theatres, direct to DVD. They've been based on popular stories and fairy-tales that have not yet been captured by Disney's lawyers. The Swan Princess, the Princess and the Pauper, Barbie and the Nutcracker. Now, I'm not ashamed (okay yes, I am a little ashamed) to admit that I've watched the Nutcracker one all the way through, and a bit of the Princess and the Pauper. They're better than Disney. Modern-day Disney, anyway.

The animation, which is Computer-Generated and uses motion-capture technology along with the Toronto Ballet Company, is decent, even if all the houses and dresses and carriages are pink. The storytelling is fine, childish yes, but in a way that encourages breathing room and growth without attempting to catargorize childhood into tight little boxes of Thinks Poo is Funny, Likes Jokes that Talk About Other Movies, and Wants to Buy Our Toys. Well, maybe not the last one. The tall blonde main character may be called Annabelle, or Clara, or Odette - but everyone knows it's old Barbara underneath. While the first two films (Swan and Nutcracker) didn't use musical numbers, they pulled up the proper music from the corresponding ballets and had them produced by the London Symphony Orchestra instead of some dork's computer. And from what I've briefly heard of Pauper's songs, they aren't half bad. At least they're not Phil Collins.

They're colourful and interesting, and they don't force children to stay children with poo jokes, but they don't force them to be adults with in-jokes. They're finely balanced and it's obvious that a lot of work and effort was put into these films. If I had a daughter, I would much rather plug in Barbie and the Nutcracker than waste both of our lives watching Home on the Range or Sinbad.

By the by, before you comment, movies produced by Disney and PIXAR don't count as Disney. They're too good, and ten bucks says that Toy Story III, which is presently being made by Disney without PIXAR's genius, will be relegated to the bargain bin along with The Little Mermaid II and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (what's that sound? Oh yes - Hans Christian Anderson and Victor Huge spinning in their graves!)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Walking Through a Weepy Wonderland...

'Tis the season, dear readers. I have recently been discharged from University in preparation for the inevitable finals, the end of term, and Christmas. I am firmly of the belief that I have everything in order, school-wise, to be able to study steadily during this week while still taking leisurely advantage of the sudden excess of free time that has been bestowed upon me.

Also, finally, it has snowed in my city, and it looks like the white stuff is here to stay, thank God. You Americans ever wonder why Canadians are so polite? How do you think we keep warm in the winter? Yes, through the heat of our fiery repressed rage! To take out our anger about the Vatican or the re-election of George W Bush and his long-lost brother Ralph Klein, we don't bitch to the media (or most of us don't, anyway) or have long, perilous riots outside of the Legislature, or go bomb another country, we put it to good use on our sidewalks and driveways, to scour off the layers of snow and ice! Yes, rage - while not morally safe, it is both available and affordable at all times, and doesn't burn through the ozone layer.

While I certainly feel less vengeful (I have shoveled the driveway twice this week already), some other emotion has started to take a hold of me. Over the recent years, I have noticed a strange apathy towards Christmas come over me during the holiday season - for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to feel as excited about it as I used to. This year, I noticed a happy return to the anticipation of yore - I was already feeling the half-pleasurable-half-uncomfortable tug in my gut that I usually experience only on Christmas Eve or when I am complimented expressly by my relatives - as early as November. While I felt happy that I could undergo the same masochistic pleasure that every young child feels as Christmas draws near - the painful desire to have Christmas be now while at the same time not yet because the waiting was so much fun - it seemed to burst some other, ill-defined emotional dam that had previously kept my less desirable feelings in check.

It all started when I saw a commercial on TV for Canadian Tire. In it, a child asked his father how Santa was going to come and give them presents when they didn't have a fireplace. The father replied that Santa would figure it out because he was very clever. However, while the parents are shopping at Canadian Tire for gifts, the child weeps, "Santa's not coming because we don't have a fireplace!" while screen shows the boy's nightmare of seeing an empty tree. I don't believe in Santa, nor do I approve of his work ethic (The elves work all year round, all you do is drive the sleigh - stop being so damn full of yourself!), but somehow, I just felt so incredibly depressed. Tears welled up in my eyes for the child who "didn't have a fireplace" (the parents acquiesce to his wishes by buying a fireplace - which sort of reminds me of that story of the mom who sold her father's ghost on Ebay because her child was convinced he was haunting the house), and I came close to sobbing. Why? I had no emotional connection to the advertisement, heck, I can barely write about it now without tearing up.

What was worse, was that my newfound sensitivity to all things cute or attempting to cute was not limited solely to misinformed children with fears that they aren't going to get what they wanted because they are greedy little bastards at heart. I was forced to sniffle into my sleeve during a Telus commercial! The one where the chameleons have a stampede with the cowboy music and duel with the piglet who has a cellphone! What could possibly be important or significant or depressing about a pig who doesn't want to share?? Chameleons have no feelings! Damn you, Babe! Damn you!

I am really going to have to get a hold on my feelings once more - because I don't want to have to explain to my parents why I'm weeping over Snoop Dogg's incompetence with fabric softener or the Honeybee's unrequited love for Honey-Nut Cheerios.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Winning and Losing...

I have both bizarrely good and frustratingly bad news for you, dear readers. As is customary, I shall entertain you with the bad news first.

I have bad luck with interviews for The Gateway. For my first interview, I was assigned to interview the famous rock band Yellowcard - I wasted a precious hour of my life waiting for them to call the Gateway office so that I could question them, only to have them not call, for inexplicable reasons. Very frustrating. Despite my misgivings, however, I took on a second interview - one for a choreographer who was having his special youth-oriented dance show performed in my city.

I wrote up my questions and e-mailed his publicist a full three days before my deadline. Of course, he (the choreographer) says he'll get back to me. And guess what? I waste my entire weekend (and most of today's afternoon) waiting for some guy to call me like a lovestruck, thirysomething lonelyheart. Of course, he never calls, just sends me e-mails of condolences of how busy he is and how fragile his schedule is, never pausing for a moment to consider just how precious my time is and how thoughtlessly he is wasting it.

You're an artist, for pete's sake! You arrogant bastard! How do you think your show is going to get any publicity if you have no regard for the press who volunteer their free time to make you look good? Of course, I am fully aware of how ridiculous my side of the argument is, but where else can one rant articulately about nothing in particular than in one's blog?

Needless to say, regardless of the perfectly reasonable explanations he has for ruining my weekend and clawing my article to shreds, I still think he's an ass. A stupid, prideful, silly little dancer/choreographer who is so "focused on youths" that he ignores the youth (namely, me) who is trying to make a name for herself through his words! I spit on you! Moron! I'm supposed to vote for my province's premier today, and how can I do that if I have to wait on you?
For the bizarre good news, I won first place in a singing competition. One my friend's friends saw posters advertising a singing competition, and eventually I caught wind of it and signed up. It was hosted by the South East Asian Students Association (SEASA for short), and one could basically sing anything they wanted to. I, in all of my innocence, believed that all sorts of people would show up to participate. I felt actually rather nervous and underprepared. I mean, I wasn't the big fish in a little pond of Catholic French-speaking highschool students anymore. I was in University! Surely, among the 30 000+ students there must be some who can sing! Who else could have auditioned for Canadian Idol when it coasted into my city?

I, along with one other girl who mumbled unintellibly along to a cassetteplayer playing "The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson, was one of the only white people there. Everyone else got up and sang in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese (I'm assuming, I can't really tell the languages apart firsthand) - one person did sing in Finnish, for some strange reason - with karaoke music blaring on the speakers in the background.

I, glowing in all of my Catholic Irish/Scottish/Polish paleness, got up to the stage alone, without music, and sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" right off the top of my head. I won first place, an elaborate trophy, and a bookmark with SEASA written on it. Enscribed on my trophy were the words "South East Asian Student's Association Singing Competition 2004 - First Place". Full to the brimful with pride, I sailed home on the bus, where my parents soon opened my eyes to the guilty humour of the situation.

How, exactly, could I put in my resume that I had won the South East Asian Student's Association Singing Competition, when the full majority of the competitors had all been South East Asian? I'd imagine any interview would go something like this:
The Employer reads: South East Asian Student Association Singing Competition Winner. He looks up, and sees a nervous caucasian girl whose speaks as if everyone around her is slightly deaf. He looks down again. Then looks up again to examine her more clearly.
Employer: "Hmmmmm....something's not right here....."

My parents, of course, all thought this was very funny, but I felt guilty. A felt like a colonist - or a white rapper who wins the prize away from all of the black rappers (Eminem, with his rare talent, is exempt from this metaphor. Not so fast, Vanilla Ice...). This was a competition hosted by a club that was obviously intended for its own members. As my mother put it "They couldn't very well disqualify you because of your race, that would be illegal." Everyone else had put time and effort into their performances, and then I swept in, in all of my white upper-middle-class glory, and performed, acapella, a song that I was still memorizing the words and music for an hour before the competition started.

Let's just hope I don't get called back to do an encore for the South East Asian Student's Association Singing Competition 2005.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Acquired Habits, featuring the element of Satan: Lithium!

Dear readers, have you ever had the pleasure of watching a certain Japanese film called Shall We Dance? Or perhaps its inferior but still enjoyable American remake of the same name? There is one scene in both films where the protagonist is confronted by a fellow who shares his hobby (in this case, ballroom dancing) who tells him that his interest in ballroom dancing is beginning to show, in his posture, in the way he walks. "You probably don't even notice" the co-worker insists. For some reason, the protagonist is sometime nonplussed by this realization.
The point I'm trying to make is, I really hope that I won't begin to unwitting acquire habits similar to those of the people at BAKA. They're all very nice, sociable people, and I like spending time with them (today alone, without overtly begging, I was treated to a box of Nerds, a plate of fries, and a packet of Pocky by three different people. They're very generous). However, there are a few tiny quirks that I find intensely annoying. For instance, there is a friendly girl that I will now refer to as T. T is an artist, and for National Write a Novel month (November, silly), she's drawing a comic book. Now, while in all other respects she is a respectable, amicable person, she occasionally interjects her own speech with random phrases in Japanese. She's Caucasian (as far as I know), and these aren't only Japanese phrases, they're catchphrases from certain anime characters, so only the people who A) understand Japanese, or B) have watched that specific show that utilizes that particular catchphrase will understand and appreciate the joke. Otherwise - it's fairly irritating. Now, she's not so bad, because she seems to only do this while she's in the company of fellow anime fans, so it's understandable.
Another visitor to the BAKA office is someone who doesn't seem to realize she's using annoying Japanese phrases, so I'm assuming she actually uses it in casual conversation with non-anime loving people. The concept is really quite chilling. At least T's catchphrases, when taken in a certain context, are cute. The quotations this girl uses are grating, to say the least. They are random, high-pitched exclamations that no one understands, like "Oro! Oro! Oro?" and "Hein!!" If any of you, dear readers, can make sense of this, feel free to speak up and tell me what they mean.
I like these people, okay, and they're allowed to have their kooky flaws from time to time. I just hope that I don't pick up those habits unintentionally and spread their pestilence to the rest of the world who firmly believes that animated series are for children. Believe me, it would just be giving anime a bad name to those who already hold it in low esteem.
Speaking of low esteem, something else I have little taste for is lithium - specifically the kind that comes in laptop batteries. I recently discovered, to my everlasting chagrin, that the batteries of MY laptop are lithium, and I never checked before I started using my laptop willy-nilly. The thing about lithium batteries, is that they "remember", through some bizarre scientific process that at present I am unable to fathom, when they are recharged, and they mark it as their "low level". This means that you're not supposed to recharge your laptop's lithium batteries until they are completely empty, or have reached a low enough level to satisfy you (say, 1-4% power remaining sounds fine). So - next time, when recharging, the lithium batteries will "remember" how long it took them to recharge from 0 - 5% of power back to 100%, and they repeat it. At least that's what I heard, I haven't done any serious research into the subject. The Reasons: I have essays to write, and I'm lazy. Due in part to that laziness, I never got around to reading the operator's manual concerning the battery - so I used the battery when I wasn't near an outlet, and recharged whenever I was, regardless of how much I had used on the battery. For three months, nothing happened, the computer worked like a charm - I simply began to assume that the batteries of my laptop were not "those" batteries - the kind that have to be completely depleted before they are recharged. Today, however, in my Earth Science class, I turned on the computer that had been plugged in throughout the weekend, only to have it tell me that there was a "Critical Battery" situation - only 4% of the power was remaining! What? Who? How? Needless to say, after giving that little message the laptop promptly crapped out, and it was only due to the extreme luck of finding an electrical outlet underneath the seat next to me that I managed to take any notes on that class at all.
I spoke to my friend's friends - and they relate from experience that the battery will probably be that way for good - which means I have to fork over 60$ to get a new one if it's too late for the warranty to kick in. Some luck, huh? I guess it serves me right for not reading the manual fully......

Monday, November 01, 2004

Surprises, both nice so nice...

Yesterday, on Halloween, full of excitement, anticipation and general anxiety, I had my father drive me to the dim sum place where I would meet My Guy and, presumably, spend the entire day with him. I'd put a some effort into my appearance, as I intended to strike a balance between casual and fancy, so that, regardless of what the date turned out to be, I wouldn't end up looking underdressed or, as my mother would quaintly put it, like I was "the tart of the mart".
So, I put in my silver heart-shaped earrings that were pretty without calling undue attention to themselves, and I wore my matching heart-shaped locket with the photos of both my parents tucked inside (as a precaution, should they die prematurely, against forgetting what they look like). I put more care into my short hair - instead of just mixing hair cream into the bangs and parting them, I did that and I also perked up my hair in the back with hair wax as well. I applied eye make-up (black eyeliner and the oh-so-convenient roll-on silver eyeshadow) and lipstick (Maybelline Forever Metallics #15 - Copper Pink).
It was upon my arrival at the Dim Sum restaurant that I met My Guy waiting in line for a table - along with two of his male friends. A female friend (with a car) was supposed to arrive as well, but a sudden illness due to allergies had prevented her from joining us. Ah. Of course. It was a friendly get-together, and I, socially inept as I am, had immediately assumed he was asking me on a date where it would just be me and him and platters of deep-fried squid. I felt quite stupid and ridiculously over-dressed, and silently prayed that My Guy would fail to recognize the extra effort I had put into my appearance, and thus realize my foolish mistake.
Most of those feelings were quashed by the rest of the get-together, which was really quite pleasant. His two friends were quite charming, and the food was exceptional - lots of squid and shrimp and sticky rice (the ingredient that makes it so delightfully sticky - pork!). Our conversations were refreshingly free of adult worries - jobs, politics, religion - and were more inclined towards entertainments of the virtual variety - television, film, videogames, and webcomics.
After the meal, we proceeded to walk over to My Guy's building of residence. Before entering, I, hesitant about entering a strange house with three adult men, only one of which I was entirely comfortable with, called home just to let them know where I was and what I was doing. After that, feeling relatively secure, we entered, and proceeded to watch internet anti-Bush propaganda, movie trailers, and flash cartoons, as well as select clips from the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, Angels in America. It was altogether rather pleasant.
Of course, there were minor problems. Seeing as the young woman with the automobile was too ill to attend our meeting, we were left with no transportation with which to get to our movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. My Guy, instead, called his mother to beg a ride from her, but that temporary solution fell through, leaving me to beg My Father to lend us his minivan for our convenience. Surprisingly, he obliged quite cheerfully, with none of the "I work all the time, don't make me drive all day" vibe he usually gives off. Perhaps he was just eager to meet My Guy in person. The two got along rather well, as they discussed mainly politics and law - which my Dad likes. In the end, both men parted with the generally feeling that the other was adequately cool.
The movie was nice, very colourful, I bought my own ticket and My Guy bought concessions. After the movie was over and the six of us (two more of My Guy's friends joined us on the way to the theatre) exchanged brief opinions of the film (general concensus: brilliant visuals, but overly long), we parted ways, the five men to see if the buses would be running after 6 pm on a Sunday night, me to rather guiltily call my parents to let them know that the movie was over and not-so-subtly hint that I would like a ride home. On the way home, my mother and I discussed the unexpected outcome of my supposed "date". Did My Guy just want to be friends? Was he gay? (That option was swiftly dismissed.) Did he really like me? I didn't know, and neither did my mother. I decided that I was expecting to move, relationship-wise, just a little too fast, and that I should wait it out. Even if, in the end, he just wants to be friends, it's better than nothing. Back in high school I had no friends at all.
The Sunday evening continued on as usual upon my return. I supped on hot pea soup and french bread, with the occasional mini-chocolate bar that was not thrown out of our front door to appease the ravening mobs of costumed children, and drank tea with the parents while watching Desperate Housewives.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Cheque, cheque, testing, testing...

My Guy and I have continued our regular correspondence, to my overwhelming glee. He had since invited me to see "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" with him, which is an anime about robots that go crazy and kill people, and the cyborg police who have to crack the case. I haven't seen the first one, or watched the series, but judging by the synopsises (is that the right word?) I've been reading, I don't think it'll be necessary. He has also, more recently, added the bonus of getting dim sum along with the movie, something I've never had but I'm sure I'll enjoy. I'm still a little worried, though. I've never before been in any sort of relationship other than one of pure convenience with the members of the male gender, and as I have never dated, I am still a little rusty on how things should be done. While he asked me to the movie, and the dim sum, it would be proper to assume that he will be paying, just as I would had I asked him. However, regarding a few choice words he made in his most recent electronical correspondences, I'm beginning to suspect that he expects us to go dutch. That's no problem for me, but I'm not sure how to ask him to clarify without being rude. He's a student with a part-time job, I'm not expecting him to be the Donald. However, how do I deal with this? When the inevitable situation of the cheque comes up, what will I do? Do I say, "I'll pay half"? If he was truly planning on shouldering the entire financial burden, that might offend him. However, if I stare blankly at the cheque and he is assuming that we will both pay, he might think I'm greedy, or exploitative, or stupid. I'm treading on thin ice here, as I have absolutely no experience. For now, I'll just bring some cash and my credit card just in case, and try to subtly hint that I'm unsure of how the bills should be paid...
I've completed all of my mid-terms with nary a scratch, and in my Earth and Atmospheric Science class, the interesting professor who had us read a huge chapter a day has switched to another professor who is just as interesting but only has us read a chapter a week, and you have no idea how much free time I have as a result. So I've begun writing my novel again, a habit I had neglected to pursue for the last few months due to the fact that I was busy copying the entire looseleaf manuscript onto my laptop - and the result was around 150 pages of writing! Yes! I believe this is the novel that I will finish!
I've also finished reviewing all of my books from the Green Man Review, so that means I will be receiving more books in time for the Christmas holiday, which is quite fine and dandy. As for clubs, I have regularily attended the BAKA meetings, and I recently won the Iron Chef of Pain Contest by presenting to the audience the 2nd episode of the "Bob the Ball" flash animation series. I plan on winning again next week with an entry that is just an nonsensical, but a mite less entertaining than the first. I'm still writing for The Gateway, and it is fab. So far I've received three free CDs for review, and I got to see "Shall We Dance?" in theatres equally free of charge. I also was assigned an interview with the rock band Yellowcard (quite famous), but they never called at the designated time and so the assignment collapsed with nothing to show for it. I've become inspired since acquiring the knowledge that students who contribute at least 15 articles to the paper get the bound edition of every Gateway issue of that year, which is personalized with one's name on it. It's about the size of an encyclopeidia (there's no spell check! argh!), and I wants it...yessssss.....
I've also taken to reading my mother's blog as of late (The Lesser of Two Weevils by Talmida) and post comments on them. Rather recently, I posted (anonymously) a bizarre question about generational punishment and why the Prince of Darkness is called the Prince and not the comments of her recent entry, and you'll understand. Upon returning home, my mother immediately regales me with a tale of some "crazy person" making foolish remarks on her blog. With a straight face and a sympathetic smile, I witnessed my mother's rather nonplussed reaction to my spontaneous secret comment. I quickly go downstairs (where we have our second computer, the one I am writing my blog on presently) and write an equally funny comment that reveals my identity. Five minutes later I can hear her uproarious laughter all the way from the basement. Success! Yay for me!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

So Little Time, So Little Time

Y'know, I would write in my blog more often, but I'm simply having too much fun being over-worked at University. Let me rephrase that. The work isn't hard, not in the least, it's just that I'm having trouble focusing on all of it, as well as reading ahead and studying for mid-terms. I'm relatively lucky in that regard - I have five classes, but only three have midterms, and all are in the last week of October so I still have a sizable amount of time to study for them.
Still, I am presently being torn to bits by the amazing amount of new TV shows out there that I simply must see, and the amazing amount of homework that I must learn in advance. I think I'm going to have to give up some of my favourite shows so that I can juggle the remainder of my time between reviewing books for Green Man Review, writing articles for The Gateway, doing my homework, and writing my Fantasy Novel. So, here is my tearful farewell to the shows I will have to do without for the rest of the term:
Goodbye, 'Smallville': Your last season was a horrible mess, with each episode ending with a soppy conversation between Clark and Lana that went absolutely nowhere. However, your new season seems to be quite intriguing, but I really can't trust you anymore, and it's impossible to see you now due to my BAKA meetings.
Goodbye, 'The 4400': As a miniseries, I can always pick you up in DVD form over the summer, and it's really asking too much of my sisters to tape you while I'm twiddling my thumbs at my Film Studies 205 lab. Your fables about super-powered alien abductees will have to wait.
Goodbye, 'That '70s Show': Worry not, sweet prince, there is always syndication! And plus, Topher Grace has two new films coming out this winter so that should satisfy my lust for lanky nerdy men. Again, my Film Studies lab stands between our happiness for now.

Well, now that that's over with, I have stuff to do. I met a guy! I shan't reveal his name, but he does exist. A third-year film-major, he shares FMS 205 with me, and thus today we get to share a movie! Yes, it's a lab, so it's free, but that doesn't matter! We met at my second film lab (where we watched "Chungking Express"), and it simply flew off from there. He always saves a seat for me next to him in class, and he took me out for pizza and revealed his gargantuan store of film knowledge which makes my love on the cinema seem downright bland. Now, I'm trying very hard not to have expectations, or to throw myself at him simply because he's the first adult male to show any shed of interest in me. I must say, I hold expertise in many subjects, but not those of social interaction. I have to try hard to LISTEN, to not BABBLE incoherently about unfunny things or subjects that don't matter, and to KEEP IN TOUCH, something I'm notoriously bad at. I don't want him to think I'm a twit, or a ditz, or an idiot, but sometimes I feel that I can't help acting like one. Gah! I haven't had much practice. I really hope he's the patient and tolerate type.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Screwing up my Schedule!!

Yes, it's true, readers! I am still alive! The main reason for this latest long period of silence has been my recent entrance into University, and I've had to deal with a lot of challenges and deal with a few cliches that are happily inaccurate.
First, the workload. I know, it's still September, but most of my classes are small, or the books are easy and fun to read, or the professors are understanding. My classes usually start at 10 and end at 2! Plus, all the classes I have are classes I chose because I was interested, so all the work is stuff I like doing and generally finish rather quickly. Usually, after that, I tend to work ahead so that I may have brief periods of free time to write my blog. Huzzah!
Second, the notorious Freshman 15, I'm discovering, is turning out to be true, unfortunately. I'm pedalling my ass off on the excersise bike every morning to combat the inevitable results of succumbing, day after day, to the salty, fried wiles of the university's two food courts. I'm starting to wean myself off it, slowly, but it's horribly difficult. They have an A&W's and a New York Fries in the same freakin' building! It's sinful! Gah! However, it plays much easier on my soul to purchase food with friends --
WHICH I OFFICIALLY HAVE NOW! Friends friends friends friends! Haha! I spit in the face of Sisters One and Two! One is, actually, someone I met during the High School Model United Nations project back in high school, and who is currently living in Lister Hall. I'm planning on inviting her over to dinner sometime in the next week, partly to spare her a night of having to force down microwaved "Michelina's" pasta, and partly to convince Sisters One and Two that she does, indeed, exist. With the other, well, I'll schedule a drinking date with her in the near future. She paid last time (and I actually drank alcohol! Wee!), so this time it's my turn. Maybe we'll go to the PowerPlant for lunch. It's fun to drink in the afternoon.
Thirdly, I joined the "Gateway", our University's official newspaper. Free CDs, books and movies! Huzzah! Plus, and excuse my one big-head moment here, I totally kick ass at it! It's a little hurtful, however, whenever they edit my articles (articles published to date: 2), because somehow I feel that I don't deserve to have my name at the top because the article isn't wholly mine. But once I finish writing my novel, someone's going to edit that too, so I should get used to it while I can.
Fourth, I met a guy. I think. So far I've met several, but we've done little but exchange a few words before class ends. Sigh. I met this guy, who shall now be referred to as Mr.?. I met him while perusing the office of BAKA, the anime club (which I joined!). He laughed at everything I said, and I laughed at everything he said, and we like pretty much the same things... he wasn't at any of the meetings, however (Baka meetings attended to date: 2), so I'll just have to look around the BAKA office.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Memoirs of a non-asian Geisha...

I had my eyebrows waxed today, in preparation for my re-emergence into the world of sociable young people at Orientation on September 6th. My sisters, who are still in highschool, are presently vegging in front of the television and shooting me green looks of envy, as I get to start my education a week later than they do. I must say, I don't entirely understand their anger, because I am quite excited to get started in University. My mother and I made a rather delightful excursion to the Student's Union Building just a few days ago to test out the wireless connection on my shiny new laptop. There were a few moments of brief tension, as I insisted on treating my 2000$ machine as if it were made of glass, but we got it settled down and I surfed the Internet all by myself on my very own computer! Joy!
Having little else to do that day, we explored the Student's Union Building a little more closely, scouring the U's bookstore for random school supplies we had not picked up yet, including a pencilcase for me and 31$ worth of Post-It's for mother. For one short moment, we considered purchasing a very large and fluffy black teddybear wearing a University T-Shirt (believe me, teddy bears are never useless buys for me, because I actually use them -- don't ask.), but we decided it against it (I was still carrying on a solid relationship with my Folk Fest Bear, and I wasn't entirely sure whether the slogan "Once you go black, you never go back" was accurate in this situation).
Finally, my dear mother decided to indulge me by searching for the office of the club I desired to join at University - BAKA, the anime club. We found it among a shabby little warren of offices with peeling paint on the doors and ratty carpeting, identifying it mainly by the doodles of catgirls taped to the walls around it. No one was around, but we did discover that they kindly shared their limited space with the Iranian Students' Association. Good to know.
I suppose by now we should return to the subject I started out with, namely the waxing of my brows. I am cursed -- or blessed, depending on how you look at it -- with thick, wild, black brows that could give Brooke Shields or Jennifer Connelly -- heck, even Peter Gallagher of The O.C. -- a run for their money. While at first, in the early days, I was held back by both the acknowledgement of my dangerously low pain threshold (as a child I cried when my mummy washed my hair) and a fierce, unreasonable pride in my unaltered appearance, I have now had the proceedure done several times. Up until now, I only had it done to "tend the garden" as it were, to make sure that my brows did not reunite above my nose, or swallow my eyes entirely. Today, however, I wanted to do something different. I wanted them to be thinner. I didn't want to look like a young woman with humungous, if well-tamed, black caterpillars on her face.
Of course, along with the loss of all that hair, there would naturally be more pain involved. I was used to the whole thing taking only a few moments, but it took a bit longer this time for the nice lady to make sure they were even and all that. Of course, the moment she tore the strip off my face hurt very badly indeed, but it was worse when she plucked. With waxing, the pain is there for two moments, for plucking, it's a never-ending series of tiny, but nevertheless intolerable, pains.
When I finally got home, and looked in the mirror, bizarrely enough the first thought that came to my mind was that I looked like a geisha. Pale, pale face (sunlight is scary!), red, red, lips (as amusingly scatterbrained as I am, I had put some one earlier in the day and forgot about it) and moderately sized, jet-black, perfectly maintained eyebrows. My mother also thought I looked asian, but believed that was due to the fact that my eyes looked smaller because my brows were relatively swollen and puffy from the ordeal. I'm sure once the swelling dies down I'll look like a nice Irish-Scottish-Polish-Catholic girl from a wealthy neighbourhood once again.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Rules to Live By...

Today, devoted readers, you are looking at a free woman. That's right. As of 9:00 pm yesterday, I am no longer an employee of McDonald's. At the end of that shift, I turned in my uniform, my name tag, and my McGold card and walked out with my last complimentary rootbeer in hand. I have to tell you, I feel nothing but relief. First of all, I should tell you, I left of my own free will. According to many reliable Mickey Dee's sources, it's almost impossible to get fired. You'd have to stab a child with a Happy Meal toy to really be in trouble. Yesterday, in fact, the metal nozzle on one of the drink dispensers broke off and fell unnoticed into a customer's drink at the Drive-Thru. Zak the SuperHappy Manager's reaction was "Oops. Oh well."
Moving on, Murphy's Law was in full swing for the entire final three-hour shift. When I arrived, I still believed in the foolish assumption that "it's only three hours, what can go wrong?" How about the busiest day McDonald's has ever had. I never even got assigned to a specific position, I was just told to do grunt work and back up people. Sigh... Anyway, though, now that I no longer have to smile and say "Good Morning!" to every nutjob who wants a Big Mac, I have decided to compile a list of rules that every potential McDonald's customer should memorize. We've had a lot of stupid people come to McDonald's, who do nothing but inspire hatred, so I feel it would be best for everybody if I came up with Shopping At McDonald's For Dummies:
1. If your order is more than five dollars, you may NOT pay only in change lower than a quarter, unless it's an incredibly slow day and no one is behind you.
2. Do NOT pay for a meal less than a 20 dollars with a 100$ bill in the DRIVE-THRU. We don't have change coming out the yin-yang, you don't have to daze us with your amazing wealth, and people are waiting!
3. If you feel so inclined to bring your large, threatening dog with you when you coast through the Drive-Thru, please keep him in a sufficently sealed carrier. Otherwise, we are not to blame for mangled orders and slobbery ice cream cones.
4. If you aren't satisfied with our food, DON'T COME HERE. Don't say anything like "This cone is too small, just like all of your icecream cones are!" if you don't want us to snatch it out of your hand, rudely refund your money, and bluntly tell you that there is a Laura Secord's down the street.
5. The cashiers aren't psychic. If you don't tell us you'd like the Bic Mac as a meal, you aren't goint to get it as a meal. If you don't tell us you want it Super Sized, it won't be super sized. It's called communication.
6. I realize some people receive unnatural pleasure from pumping the ketchup dispensor at the serving table. When satisfying your bizarre lusts, take the time to squirt the ketchup into the little paper cups and not into a giant red puddle on the counter. No one can use it now.
7. Kids, you can either play with your Happy Meal toys, or go in the PlayLand. If you bring your tiny little car into the PlayLand, you will lose it. You're too young to multitask!
8. Use your heads and have you whole order in mind when you go through the Drive-Thru. Check it over twice. We don't want you coming to the final window with "Oh, could you change that chocolate shake to a strawberry sundae and that Happy Meal to a Super Value Meal?" we have to change the price, now! Idiots!
9. No. I am not on Happy Pills. We do not permit drug use at McDonalds. I'm just a dedicated employee. So stop asking!
10. We usually only have different types of McDonald's toys for each gender at a time. If your child desires a model we don't have, deal with it. Don't accuse us of hiding the toys on purpose. Your child is lucky to receive a plaything in his meal. You know what kids in Third World Countries find in their meals? Scorpions! Or bombs!
11. If you order a coffee with milk on the side, either take a little milk on the side, or buy one of our small cartons of milk. If you like milk that much, pay for it like everyone else.
12. If you haven't decided what you'd like yet, get out of line and let other people order. If you wanted to be first, you should have thought faster.
13. If you pay by debit card, you have to enter your pin number. Yeah, you have to push the little coloured buttons on the little black machine. Because otherwise, your transaction won't go through and your wasting everybody's time!
14. Our store doesn't take Visa. I don't care if this "is the first place my Visa wasn't accepted". Bask in the unfamiliar experience if you must, but don't do it on our time. Pay with debit or cash.
15. Sweaty skateboarding preteens who hold up the line because they want three large cups of water and a small cup of ice can go to Hell. Skateboard home and use your own tap, you lazy jackasses.
16. For your information, breakfast lasts till 10:30 on weekdays, 11:00 on weekends. Don't come through the Drive-Thru at 12:15 asking for an Egg McMuffin and act surprised that Breakfast is over! How late do you sleep in?
17. If you want a special order, describe it immediately. Don't ask for a Big Mac and remark at the end of your order that you wanted it without pickles or onions and with a little extra dash of Tartar sauce on it! We're called a "Fast-Food Restaurant" because we're fast. You're just wasting our food now.
18. Read the goddamn fine print on your coupons! Like the expiry date, or the fact that you get the SAME burger free with the burger you purchased!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Someone once said, "Never go to bed angry." A far wittier person added "...stay up and plot revenge!" Well, here is my mild and fairly harmless blow against my family, with whom I am angry again. I really must apologize to my faithful readers, because as of late a great deal of my posts have been forms of tirades against my clan, and not everyone wants to read about that. Well, I will try to make this particular entry as witty and articulate as possible.
My family doesn't like having me around. They are the kind of people who prefer to do things together that require no talking. They go on the computer, and shut the door so they won't be bothered. They watch TV and hiss and spit when someone tries to engage them in conversation. They read as well as fiddle with their Palm Pilots and sigh dramatically whenever someone tries to interrupt them to have some blessed family time. Myself, I am usually the one who tries to start a conversation, mainly because I can't shut up to begin with. I'm usually cut off before I can properly begin with a blunt "I'm not interested", "don't wanna hear this", "consider your audience". Yes, well I do consider my audience, and right now my the audience in my house is a big meanie weenie.
For my sisters, today is the last day of freedom before high schools starts. For me, I still have one more week before the first day of classes. Anyway, because today is the last day of freedom, my family has apparently been planning a nice dinner at a restaurant for about a week. There was, in fact, only one flaw in their brilliant plan. They neglected to tell me in a manner I could understand. You see, when they make plans, they don't ask me. They tune out what I say because they are tired of sifting through my rivers of words to find the tiny gold nuggects of intellect within. They don't write things down either, where other people can see and thus know what's happening in this household. As well, they reserve all of the important planning to the dinner table conversation, a certain time I have been missing a great deal of late due to the fact that I am working at McDonald's. So, of course, they've planned this big end-of-the-summer dinner for today. Today I have my last shift at McDonalds -- from 6:00 to 9:00.
Of course, according to my family, this is all my fault. It's MY fault they continue to use the "osmosis" method of communication even though it has had several failures which all resulted in me remaining out of the loop. It's like it's my fault my farm didn't know the tornado was coming because my family's farm continued to use the faulty carrier pigeon to send messages instead of picking up a telephone. Of course, it's my fault because I talk so very, very much that my parents tune out everything I say and thus miss the important bits like "I have a shift on Tuesday" and so they don't think of asking. It's my fault, because even though I am wise enough to write things down, my family never reads them. Also, as you may not have heard, it's my fault because I spend so much time huddled up in my room with my novel, which is a bald-faced lie. I play the computer, I watch TV with my family and my sisters, but no one wants to communicate whenever I'm around, so I leave. Why should I waste my time hanging around people who make it perfectly obvious that my presence annoys them? If they want me to hang out more with the family, then it's only fair that they should make the effort to put up with me! Lastly, this whole messup is my fault because I miss supper so often with my shifts. Yes, I'm such a bad, bad, person, missing my family's precious dinner time because I'm slaving away to ease THEIR financial load for University. Thanks a bunch, you guys, it warms my heart to see such immense gratitude.
Of course, once the flaw was revealed and the inevitable fight was over, what did they change about it? Not a damn thing. So, I'm missing the one big end-of-the-summer dinner, because apparently, I'm not appreciated in this family. I'm not an important enough member of this family to risk changing an end-of-the-summer-dinner to an end-of-the-summer-lunch. I'm not important enough for my family to make an effort to include me in their celebrations. My sisters get to go out to Earl's with the family and talk and eat and have fun. Me? I get a fucking afterthought...."Mom'll... take you out to lunch...sometime"...yeah, sorry, but that doesn't help. That's not a family dinner if there's only one family member present to foot the bill. I'd rather eat a peanut butter sandwich by myself, thank you. My family is mad at me for not spending enough time with them, but they won't get off their lazy asses and change a few small things to include me in their lives? I can't join the family circle if you guys don't open you stupid arms and let me in!
So have fun at Earl's. I'll just be taking screaming children's orders at McDonald's, you know, to make money to help you guys pay for my education. Then I'll probably walk home in the rain and go to bed. Cause you know what? After I come home from work I like to go to bed. Why? Because I'm tired. Because I work. To make money I can't even spend on myself. For you. Thanks for repaying the debt.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Flip-flopping Emotions and First Booths

Agh! The guilt trip! And what a long, strange trip it is! Whether inflicted intentionally or unintentionally, it stings worse than salt on a wound, or better yet, another wound on top of a wound. I am perpetually going on these trips because of severals reasons, chief among them being the fact that I'm lazier than a doormat on Valium. I made plans today to mow the lawn, a long and ardous task that inspires nothing but dread in me whenever I think of it, and so I generally procrastinate to the fullest extent. I was really planning on doing it today, and I didn't see any other opportunity, but I was dreading it especially because I had an extra shift at McDonald's at 4:00. The last time I emerging from the task, I was dripping with sweat, slathered in sunscreen and bug repellent, and regardless of how much of the latter I sprayed on, I was also covered in insects. I figured that due to the wretched condition I am in after performing that chore, it would not be a good day to do it if I had an extra five-hour shift at the Clown House to look forward to. My new plan, of course, is to do it tomorrow, AFTER a six-hour shift at McDonalds, and then laze around the house like a limp noodle.
Sadly, though, I neglected to mention this change in plans to my mother, who got angry with me at first for flip-flopping around and procrastinating at a (relatively, mind you) simple job. Of course, afterwards, she reverted to her "You're an adult and should make your own decisions" attitude, but the damage had already been done, so I'm good and miserable now. Ah well. The sooner I mow the lawn, the sooner I can start dreading the day I will have to mow the lawn again.
In about ten minutes, I will have to start the extra shift at McDonald's that I mentioned above, that started this whole kerfuffle ( I love that word! ^_^) in the first place. Yesterday, I was supposed to be working from 5 to 10, but I was let out early, so the manager kindly made up for it by getting me to work today from 4 to 9. Three extra hours! Yaaay....please ignore my lack of enthusiasm. I need the money. It will, however, be worth it in every way if I am assigned First Booth today. First Booth is, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest, the cushiest job at McDonalds. You basically take the orders down for the Drive-Thru, but because you have to stick there as long as there are cars in the drive-thru, you don't have to help make the food or pack the bags. The customers at the Drive-Thru are almost all fully decided on what they want by the time they show up at the window, so there is no waffling about the orders. Also, when there are no cars, you can leave and talk to other people and do odd, simple tasks until a doorbell sound rings. That doorbell sound is activated by a motion sensor that marks down every car that goes through the drive-thru. It's always ringing, so they never give you long, hard jobs or make you do the lobby, because you have to be ready to go by the time you hear that noise. On the other hand, it also makes you paranoid, hearing doorbell noises when there really aren't any...but that's another story entirely. I really enjoy First Booth, because it combines all the best parts of the two jobs I've ever had: The amount of work I had as a cashier, but with the ability to communicate, free drinks, and the young coworkers I have as a McDonald's employee. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Top Banana Nana...

Went for lunch my my maternal grandmother today. I didn't really know what to expect. My Nana is usually prim and proper, a stickler for manners. Sometimes she could be painfully blunt in critizing my posture or my taste for fantasy novels, but all in all she's a very pleasant old lady. Well, with my first year of University looming just around the bend, she wanted to go to lunch with me, so I accepted. I wasn't entirely sure what we would speak of, as I tended to believe that we didn't have too much in common.
Boy, was I wrong. My grandmother's cool! *cough* Well. We went to a nearby Italian restaurant and ordered roast veal sandwiches (sorry, vegans, I love eating babies, so get over it). I decided that since she seemed primarily interested in my upcoming adventures in University, I would talk about my upcoming orientation and what I was most looking forward to: The Club fair, where all the University clubs came out and hawked their wares and memberships and so on. My grandmother suggested I join the Newman club, which was run by chaplains and was held at St. Joe's. I do try to be a dedicated Catholic, but initially, the idea of spending my free time in a religious club didn't appeal to me.
Since I'm still writing this blog, it means that God has not decided to smite me where I stand. Anyway, I told Nana about the club I really wanted to join: BAKA ("idiot" in Japanese, haha) which stood for Banzai Anime Klub of Alberta. I proceeded to enlighten her about my parents' negative opinions of it. Oh yes, you're an adult, they said, so you can join any clubs you want, but we think this BAKA is a horrible idea and we're totally against it. My younger sister also believed that guys who like anime like only anime and thus get terrible grades, so it'd would be a horrible place to find a husband. Exactly, sister, because I live in the 1950's. Right. I wasn't sure why I was telling all of this, because I expected my Nana to agree with my parents.
Again, I was wrong. "Of course it's a good idea!" she protested stoutly. "Anime is an adult art form, even I know that!" Who knew? She completely supported it, without slamming it completely, like my father, or trying to dig down and find the psychological meaning of anime and coming up with completely backwards ideas, like my mother (and I shall quote her: "I know you like anime for the stories, and I'm sure there are a few other girls who do, but I'm pretty certain most people watch it for the porn.").
And the conversation only went up from there. We spoke of books and clubs and God, and books and clubs about God, and what I would do in University. I mostly wanted to follow my parents' advice, as they had experience in University (more recently, my mother, as a few years ago she went again to study textiles), but my Nana continued to interject to remind me that I should do what is best for me. Oh God, I'm so glad somebody other than me came out and said that! She then continued on to reveal hilarious things about my mother that I shall not repeat here, because Nana told me not to, and because I have found a completly new respect for her I shall comply.
All in all, it was a very pleasant lunch, and I learned a few pleasantly surprising things about my grandmother. Huzzah! Hooray for Nana!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

My Parents are Not Actually Emotional Sadists, but Caring and Thoughtful Parents Who Strive for My Wellbeing... But I hate them anyways.

Only kidding, of course. I know I haven't written in a while, but a lot of both good and bad things have happened in the Gap. I finally received my graduation present, a new laptop! The only reason I'm not using it right now is because my new computer only has wireless Internet and I can't use it at home. Otherwise though, it's fabulous for my writing, especially my novel. Plus, it's MINE, all mine, and thus I can fiddle around with the backgrounds and the colours as much as I want without anyone complaining.
So... what happened other than that in the past week... I finally went drinking socially with my parents. I usually despise the taste of alcohol, and I find it repulsive even when it's smothered in an otherwise pleasurable sustance, like chocolate. Well, my parents managed to convince me to go to the local bar with them, where I indulged in a Cosmopolitan. Not completely bad, but it would have been far more enjoyable without the nagging taint of vodka.
I sold the books I no longer wanted at a little second-hand bookshop called "The Wee Book Inn", as well as all of my manga. To my surprise, I raked in more than anyone else in my family, a cool 57$, which I promptly blew the same day on an anime DVD of "Fruits Basket", an entertaining, if rather fluffy, television series about a cursed family who transform into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac whenever they are embraced by a member of the opposite sex. Now that was a tough decision to make. For the longest time I was trapped by indecision between the DVD of "Fruits Basket" -- an anime I had never watched before, that came with six episodes, and was 44$ -- and the DVD of "Full Metal Panic" -- and anime I adored, that came with the three final episodes of the series, and was 29$.
In job news... I don't think working at McDonald's is particularily healthy for me, as working there under less-than-perfect conditions incites pure, painful, and completely senseless hate within me for all the pathetic, picky, slovenly people who attend our restaurant. It destroys me, but I am fortunate in the fact that I only need serve the Clown for two more weeks before I depart for University. Still, often I am only one long, elaborate, and bizarre special order away from having a complete mental breakdown and stabbing the idiots with a plastic knife (they're sharper than they look).
I must apologize, dear readers. I know I'm rambling on about nothing, mishmashing different events into my blog with no real organisation or order, but I guess that's a result of my reluctance to write, even when exciting things are happening. I will try to write more often. Today, I'm writing it because my mother suggested it... she's understandably annoyed by the title of "My parents are emotional sadists" being first from the top, so she's eager for me to create another entry to detract from my raging rant. Well, I love her, and she's usually right about most things, so I will do this for her.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

My Parents are Emotional Sadists... At least, today they are...

First and foremost: pardon my language, but I am not myself today...
Here I am, writing to you, faithful readers, if indeed you exist, from my parents' computer room, between bouts of frantic, noisy sobbing. I am utterly miserable, and my plan is to make all the readers of this entry completely aware of it. The reason? Well, you'd think on Sunday, the 8th of August 2004, I would be at the Folk Music Festival, gorging on delicious fried food and and engaging in conversation with my beloved family. Well, I'm not, and I don't love my family. I hate them, I think they're sadistic bitches, at least for today. I'm stuck at home, heartbroken, because I can't make up my fucking mind and my parents are unwilling to make it up for me.
I had been granted the freedom to go or not to go today, seeing as I usually do not enjoy the Folk Festival to the extent that the rest of my family does. Today was the last day of the festival. I had been to the Craft tent, and received my annual Folk Fest gift (a Shinto pendant), seen all the acts that I thought were worth seeing (only one: Great Big Sea, and they got boring after 20 minutes), and today was overcast with menacing clouds. I really had nothing to look forward to, and my parents had made it perfectly clear that they severely disapproved of my bringing my giant 600-page fantasy novel to read on the hill. If I couldn't read, what could I do?
So, to answer my sisters' annoying questions, I answered a hearty "No!" to whether I would accompany them. Of course, that was not my real answer. I'd been going to Folk Fest for eight years, and I'd always brought a novel with me, I really couldn't understand why my parents would pick this year in particular to try to wean me off my addiction. Of COURSE I'd be going. Sure, there was nothing to look forward to, indeed, the day ahead looked positively bleak, but I wasn't going to skip out and risk missing something special. I am a hermit by nature, and I was eager to break out of that shell before leaving for University. Of course, my father had to ruin my moment by asking me himself whether or not I'll be attending, instead of asking my sisters and acting surprising when I reveal I will be going. So of course, I say "no" to him as well. My mother immediately starts to praise my decision, "Of course you shouldn't go! I'm proud of your choice! Don't go, if you aren't going to enjoy yourself!" Where does she get off, being happy I won't be with her? So, naturally, to spite her I change my mind and declare I will be going. I'm not packed at all (I discovered, after the final and irrevocable decision had been made, that I'd left my only source of warmth, my sweatshirt, at home anyways) so I have to scramble to gather my things underneath the exhasperated looks of my family. My mother and sisters insist I shouldn't go if I'll be unhappy (and I believe their suspicions were aroused by the fact that I was going about doing everything with a dreary scowl on my face), but I replied, with passive-aggressive charm, "Whatever! I'll just go!"
I get into the van with my mother and youngest sister, while my younger sister and my father take the car. We've started to drive, and suddenly my mother starts telling how it's best to do things that you like, how you shouldn't try to be something you're not, how staying home all day reading books and watching anime and playing videogames must be much better than being miserable on a cold, wet hill for the sake of one's family. We're already well on our way to the Park N' Ride, so why the hell is she telling me this? Ah yes, to make me regretful and miserable.
"We're already well on our way to the Folk Fest," I whine indignantly, "So why are you giving me MORE reasons about how staying home would have been better?" To my horror, instead of admitting that she was getting off on making her eldest child wallow in depression, she turns the car around and starts heading for home, despite the squeals of rage from my spoiled youngest sister. Then, on the way home, my mother begins to lecture about how I should come out of my shell, and do something different for a change, live life to the fullest, open my mind to new experiences...I start to cry at this stage, due to the hopelessness of the situation, and my mother lets fly a whopping fib by saying that "The last thing I want is to make you unhappy." Fuck you, mom! By now it's too late to INSIST on what I really wanted to do in the first place (which was, in case you hadn't guessed, to spend some quality time with my fucking beloved family for a fucking blessed change), because that would result in wasting even more time. After seeing that I was good and wretched, my mother drops me off at home and leaves for the Folk Fest, cheerful at having accomplished a whole year's worth of torturing her eldest born in the space of an hour.
As soon as the door is shut I promptly burst into tears. It's quite fortunate that you cannot hear me, for my sobbing is rarely a peaceful and quiet affair. Heaving, wheezing, wailing, and screaming usually accompany such rages, until the whole neighbourhood begins to wonder why my family has purchased such a large number of stray cats, and why in God's blessed name aren't they feeding them? Then, the phone rings. Now, I should warn you that my mother is far more subtle and clever in causing me suffering, snipping and slicing away at my soul with the grace of a neurosurgeon. My father, on the other hand, is far more blunt, cleaving carelessly away at my spirit like a gleeful butcher on holiday. So, when I picked up the telephone (and trained my voice so that it sounded sad, but not too sad, so that whoever it was one the other line would feel sorry for me instead of disgusted), it was to hear my father roar, "Well, I hope you know you've ruined the whole day for everyone!" after which I promptly hung up on him. His voracious hunger for emotional pain not yet sated, he called again, to make sure I listened for a full five minutes while he raged about how all of his and my mother's plans for Folk Fest were screwed up because she chose to turn around, and then it was his turn to hang up.
After that little show, I picked up the telephone and dialed my mother's cellphone number, and in a breathless, sobbing voice, told her (through my youngest sister, because my mother isn't stupid enough to talk on a cellphone while she's driving) how sorry I was that I caused her to be late for the show she wanted to see, all the while informing them on my father's little tirade. You see, I didn't call out of any real sympathy for my mother's situation, but to tattle on mean ol' Daddy to make sure that he was properly punished.
--Oh dear. My mother just called, letting me know that she could come home and do something special with me, if I wanted to. After letting out this little rant onto my blog, I'm in quite high spirits again, so having my mother give up her fun is the last thing I would want her to do. I insist she stay at the Folk Fest, because that is what she really enjoys doing, and she relents.
Okay, my mother's an emotional sadist....but for only one hour every year.

Friday, August 06, 2004

To Quote Megatokyo's Dom, I'm "So full of Hate!"

I love my parents. I really do. They're great. You know how in novels and movies and television shows how the parents are cold, or kooky, or mentally unbalanced, or abusive, or absent. My parents were never like that. My mom is a "Domestic Goddess", the kind of mother-goddess-genius figure who can whip up a sumptuous casserole after spending the day researching our family tree back to the 3rd century AD (oh, I'm sorry, C.E.) and teaching herself Biblical Hebrew. If I ever caught a flu at school, she'd be there to pick me up, drive me home, tuck me in on the family room couch, and stir the bubbles out of a pitcher of gingerale so it wouldn't hurt my sensitive elementary-school tummy. In parent-child arguments, she's usually the Good Cop.
My father is often the Bad Cop, but when we're not biting each other's heads off, he's quite the cool guy. He is one of the rare men who is possessed of two different personalities without being crazy. On the one hand, is the fitness-obsessed, workaholic, war-fan disciplinarian. He's about a foot and half taller than me, but weighs only about ten pounds more. He bikes ten miles a day, every day, no exceptions, regardless of holidays or weather conditions, he's a six-foot-two beanpole with a buzzcut. He eats like a horse, but gripes about how he hopes all the food he consumes won't make him gain a measly pound, which always pisses off the less-healthy members of our family. He subscribes to Civil War Monthly magazine, a concept I find to be mind boggling (the Civil War happened a hundred years ago, how much more can they write about it?) and has to keep his beloved collection of war films on a separate shelf from our other movies because he has so many of them, so many films that only he is interested in watching. He love affair with legal violence is one of the things that has led to many differences in opinion between him and me. I love Japanese animation (anime) because it's colourful and expressive. My father hates anime because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and strangled a hooker in Rising Sun. He believes anime to be simple-minded and immature, even though he's never really watched it, because he's been raised on the inaccurate assumption that animated stories = made for children. We fight about it. A lot. My mother also disapproves of my anime hobby, but at least she doesn't go out of her way to belittle it.
On the other hand, is the beer-guzzling, joke-spurting, movie-quoting, science-fiction-reading, baseball-loving goof that I get along best with. We're a lot alike in many ways, which is partially why we fight so much. My father's passion for military films is fully as bright and as long-burning as my passion for Full Metal Panic and Escaflowne. When he's not in "Full Metal Jacket" mode, he behaves like a 21-year-old student let out of University for the summer. No one is his presence can so much as mention Buckaroo Banzai or Starship Troopers or Men In Black without being immediately buried underneath a mountain of his favourite lines, repeated over and over. "Laugh while you can, Monkeyboy!" "I always get the shakes before I drop! Everybody drops, everybody fights!" and "Your--proposal-- is-- acceptable!" (followed by an upward grasping motion of his hand, meant to imitate the scene where the alien cockroach kills Vincent D'Onofrio). Finally a shared interest: movies. We've had several of our best moments together watching films, like the week where Mom took my sisters off to BC, and Dad and I shared a pizza while watching Phantom of the Paradise which he first saw when he was my age. Or when we watched Enemy At the Gates, and even though I was watching it to see Jude Law, and he was watching it to see history re-enacted, I still let him distract me from Jude Law's flawless visage with his endless supply of historic military knowledge. The family can't even watch Gladiator without Dad pointing out that the Romans weren't supposed to be using cavalry until two centuries later, due to the fact that the stirrup hadn't been invented yet. You have no idea how many people he annoyed when he watched it in the theatre! ^_^
I do love him, very much. I love both my parents. But now (after many distractions) I must get to the point of today's blog entry. I love my parents. My parents love folk music. I, on the other hand, despise that kind of music. This year is the 25th anniversary of Edmonton's Folk Music Festival, and my parents have been going for 15 years to this event. I have been going with them for about 8 years, and out of those eight years, I have only found two bands that were worth getting the CDs, and they were both joke bands: Moxy Freuvus and The Arrogant Worms. I go for the company (all of our family friends go) and the food (deep-fried -- everything!). This year, however, I had recently discovered a perilously time-consuming addiction to a certain internet forum (that I will discuss in another entry), and thus was not looking forward to going to the 'Fest. My bad mood soaked into everything, as I discovered I had lost my only verifiable photo ID (my learner's permit) at the Animethon. So I had to brave the scathing ridicule of my father for nigh on three hours, as well as fork over 20$ for a new permit. This also meant that I couldn't enter the beer tent unattended by a parent, even though I was now legal drinking age. Gah! Needless to say, when we finally arrived at the festival grounds, I was thoroughly unhappy. My stomach was twisted with paranoia (what if I got sick from the food and couldn't leave? What if I had to actually use a porta-potty?) and the grounds (a series of steep hills with the stages at the bottom and the audience on the slope) carried the familiar scent of a stray dog after a heavy downpour. After the massive storms and flooding that had wracked our city a few weeks prior, the mosquitos were plentiful, and hungry, and the Churros stand that provided those heavenly deep-fried sugared delights was no longer present!
In the beer tent, I was forced to ignore my mother's friend's cigarette-smoke, a scent I had grown used to over 16 years when my mother smoked, but was now completely intolerable after my mother had successfully quit. However, once I finally made my way up the steep main hill (no mean feat, even for healthy, athletic people, and my parents had put the tarp down in their usual spot: right at the top) and settled down into my new, ridiculously comfortable lawnchair, and opened my Entertainment Weekly, things began to look up. The wailing, irritating performance music drifted, as it usually did, into the background as I socialised with my sisters and my parents' friends' children. It was really quite a pleasant experience at the end, although we didn't stay for the entire night. My mother's best friend, NJ (I will not reveal her entire name, but she's not the one who smokes, thank God), was going through her first Folk Fest experience, but, even for a Folkie virgin, she was enjoying it immensly. That is, until NJ's daughter phoned to warn her that a storm warning had been declared on the television, and that a severe storm, with thunder, hail, and funnel clouds a-plenty, was headed for our city and would touch down in about an hour. Needless to say, we beat a hasty retreat after that, and raced home surrounded by flashing bursts of lightning, with the first drops of rain falling only after we had reached our house in relative safety.
By the way, this really has nothing to do with my blog, but I thought I would mention it. We brought two vehicles, a car and a van, to the Folk Fest Park and ride. My father left with my younger sister (who could drive) for the car, and my mother was prepared to take my youngest sister and me home in the van. That is, until she remembered how much she had had to drink at the beer tent. She didn't even hesitate. She left the van and immediately switched places with our father, who was completely sober. You see, you can prevent drunk driving accidents, you idiots. Use your heads.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Does Anyone Who Isn't Related to Me Read This?

Heh, my new-found passion for manga-drawing has inspired me to actually enjoy -- and keep up with -- "MegaTokyo", the online manga written by Fred Gallagher. The first time I tried to read it, I got bored. No magic, just this shy dude named Piro and a raving alcoholic named Largo who was very l337 (what does that mean? What does it mean to be l33t?). Now, however, I've gone back to reading it (from the beginning! I'm on comic #282 now...) and it's awesome! Who'd'a'thunk? Also, I'm actually taking the time to read Piro's rants, and of course, they reminded me of my own blog, something I haven't been keeping up on too well...
Still working on the concept for my own online comic, manga-style. It'll take place at a University campus, but unlike MacHall, I'll be living with my hilariously exaggerated anime-hating parents! Huzzah! Also...the character based on me will have magic powers and will join a magic police force that patrols the campus looking for baddies (naturally!). I had to add that plot piece in because, although I love anime and I love games and I love movies....I really don't have enough money to keep up with what's what, so my comic has to have something filling in. Maybe my younger sister will help me with the comic...she's very l33t, so long as l33t means "weird, in a very cool and popular way".
I just hope that I can actually get it up...the last time I tried to make a webcomic (titled "AnimeJune", ver predictable) I had the account set up and everything, but then had no idea how to put my comics onto the webpage! Something to do with computer wasn't capable of uploading my comics for some bizarre reason. Since then, I've forgotten what didn't work...So I'll try again!
In other news....because I have such a bad habit of acquiring junk, I used up all the available space in my room, so my parents opted to get me new shelves and move all my furniture around. Sweet! Except for the fact that I had to take every movable object and piece of junk I owned and dump them in my sisters's rooms while I fiddled with the furniture. After it was all done, now I have to move all my shit out of my sisters' rooms and put it all back. But, on the other hand, it's not like I don't have a lot of time on my hands...
My mother and sisters planned a trip to Sparwood, B.C. to see our Aunt Mary Ann and her preternaturally articulate 2-year-old daughter Claire (according to my mother, she can hold conversations at a 5-year-old level). I couldn't come, because I assumed I would have work (at McDonalds! Did you forget?) on those days. Surprise of surprises, I had no shifts until Friday! Which meant I had three days where I would be completely alone in the house until my father got home from work. It wasn't completely horrendous. I got to hang out in my exercise clothes all day, eat pancakes, and read "MegaTokyo" for hours at a time. When my father got home, the fun was magnified, as we both set out to do things that my mother never wanted to do. Yesterday, in fact, Dad and I shared a Delisio Veggie Delux Pizza (mother never got us anything except pepperoni for Delisio, and the rest was the flat Restaurante stuff), a huge bag of Ariba! Jalapeno and Chedder corn chips and a carton of chocolate icecream while watching the freakiest '70s horror/musical of all time, "Phantom of the Paradise". Watch it. It will blow your freakin' mind. Of course ( I can sense my mother will read this entry) that's not ALL I did...hahahaha *nervous laughter*. I perfected my drawing skills...and that's art! That's productive? Right? I worked on my fantasy novel (and by "worked" I it over without really writing anything...*sigh*). And I counted all the money in change drawer! You really needed someone to do that, right Mom?
Gah...*I can already feel the waves of disapproval radiating out from wherever Sparwood is right now...*

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Reunited With a Lost Love...

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's been a while. I'd make up an excuse, but in truth, I'm just too damn lazy. In fact, that's the main reason I haven't been keeping up on my posts. Yup, I just don't have enough free time on my hands, so I frequently do nothing simply to keep up the allotted amount of time spent doing nothing that even slightly resembles work. Plus, my burning passion for anime (Japanese Animation for those of you not in the know) has been viciously rekindled by Animethon 11. Again, for those of you whose minds are going blank, Animethon 11 is the largest anime (do you still remember what that is?) convention in western Canada. Uh huh, I know that tacking "Western Canada" on doesn't always say much, but the convention continues to grow year by year. This time around, instead of nine viewing rooms, there were sixteen, and the dealer's room was located nearly two buildings away (on the Grant McEwan College Campus...did you really think a non-profit event could afford a hotel?) in a gym. On the negative side, that meant more physical activity for those of us who were perfectly willing to sell their souls for the season of "Slayers: Next" on DVD. On the positive side, due to the larger space, it wasn't as crowded and it didn't smell like the weekend of Animethon had coincided with National Not Take A Bath Day.
Me, I got a good haul, and for once, I didn't have to spend all my money! This year, I had made a solemn vow not to buy any manga (*I'll explain this later...), or any DVD of a series I had not seen yet, or any CD that didn't have at least one song I had heard before and enjoyed. The year before, I blew 400$ (All of the salary I'd received so far from my summer job at was my first job, and I was unused to getting that much money in such a short amount of time...predictably, it all went to my head) and wound up with four manga volumes I was willing to throw away two weeks later, a CD of Sailor Moon music all performed on a mouth organ (I'd asked the vendor for "Instrumental" Sailor Moon music, and that's what I got) and two Japanese versions of "Newtype Magazine" that I couldn't read. Sure, I'd also bought the second half of the "Fushigi Yuugi" series, the "Escaflowne" movie, and a "Fushigi Yuugi" OAV, all of which I enjoyed, but if I'd only purchased those, I would have saved a boatload of cash and my parents' respect for my financial judgement.
*Why do I not like manga (Japanese comics)? Enough to completely strike it from my Must Buy list? Simple. Translated manga, even though it is becoming increasingly more common in book stores like Chapters and Indigo, costs anywhere from 15 to 30$, and it takes about twenty minutes to read, tops. Plus, the anime versions are nearly word-for-word identical to the manga that inspired them, so by buying, say, the "Full Metal Panic Vol. 1" DVD for 40$ and the "Full Metal Panic Vol 1" manga for 25$, you're basically throwing 25$ down the drain. I prefer colour and movement, so I stick to anime and leave the manga well enough alone. If I see a title at a library, I will take it out and read it with relish, but if I have to shell out a quarter of a hundred bucks for twenty minutes of pleasure, I'd rather save my moolah for the anime version.
Anyway, back to Animethon. I walked away with the "Strawberry Eggs" series on DVD, the "Escaflowne" series on DVD, "Full Metal Panic: Mission 06" (I only had Missions 01 and 02 at home, but it was the last one in the whole Dealer Room), and the soundtracks for "Full Metal Panic" and "DNAngel". That's it.
My parents (still convinced that anime, simply because it was animated, was a childish pursuit) were extremely disappointed in me nonetheless for spending so much money in one place, regardless of how rarely I did it and how long I had waited for the event. I find it more than a little frustrating, seeing as they blow a ton of cash every year at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival on CDs and gear. I don't agree with it (to me, every Irish jig sounds the same), but I don't lose any respect for them because of it. Folk music is important to them, and it's only once a year, and they've attended Folk Fest with most of their friends for the last fifteen years. If I can tolerate it, why can't they?
Other than my parents' disapproval, I also gained a newfound interest in drawing manga (yes, I can create it, but I don't like reading it! ^_^). I'm pretty good at it, or more accurately, parts of it. I have faces, heads, hair, and storywriting down pat, but there are a few details that have alwasy escaped me and eventually led up to me abandoning my hobby. Primarily, I suck royally at drawing hands, buildings, backgrounds, shading, texturing, and perspective. I always wanted to start a manga of my own, but a little voice in the back of my head would always say, "Wait until you've learned this, so that your comic will look better." But I would never learn it, and my story would go untold. Well, no so anymore. I will start designing a comic! It will probably never get published, but it will hone my skills. And at faces, heads, and hair, I have mad skills indeed.