Doing battle with daily dragons

Monday, February 28, 2005

Southern Exposure

When I was younger and babysat the kids next door, I seem to remember more than one incident of having to chase the boy of the family around the backyard trying to get him to put his pants back on. I find it interesting, 16 years or so later, that I’m routinely meeting grown-ups with the same problem on a regular basis.

I’m not entirely sure what property that alcohol possesses that makes men want to get their privates out in public. I used to think it was a virility thing, but in most cases, extreme alcohol intake, which is also necessary for the gall required to wave one’s wiener at people in the first place, renders the subject unable to perform. These gentlemen may be surprised to learn that the impulse of ANY woman who is subjected to such an exposure by a stranger will be one of two things: 1) Flight or 2) Violence to the offending body part. Perhaps, if the expos-er is lucky, he might stumble upon one of the .00004% of the female population that MIGHT, upon enough consumption of alcohol herself, be interested enough to take a closer look, but the odds are definitely NOT in his favor.

There are rather a lot of people with this affliction in pubs The Rock Star plays in. One charming individual this weekend threatened to expose himself to the the Rock Star midway through the first set. The Rock Star pointed out that if this turn of events was realized, the individual would receive “a right battering.” Faced with a much taller man with a large, heavy and expensively painted chunk of mahogany in his hands, the individual moved a good deal further off and, in half hearted defiance, bared his ass, which earned him a quick, and permanent trip out the door.

All in a working weekend.

Friday, February 25, 2005

A Bit of Friday Morning Lit Fun

Got this in my in-box this morning. Give it a whirl.

1)Grab the nearest book.
2)Open the book to page 123.
3)Find the fifth sentence.
4)Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5)Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Mine is slightly bizarre. The book next to my computer is "How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher" by Simon Barnes, but you wouldn't think it from the text.

Page 123, Sentances 5-7

"That is what birdwatchers call jizz. Jizz: savour the word. Jizz is a very good word indeed."

I'm not kidding, folks, I'm just writing it down.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Flushing at Sea

We have been temporarily displaced.

For those who have never been on a boat, marine toilets are a whole new ballgame. A lot of boat owners opt for cassette toilets that you can simply empty down an open sewer. Call me crazy, but that felt a little 14th century to us, so we chose a boat with an honest-to-god tank for our excremental convienience. However, over the years, this tank has caused us to have to evacuate the boat on more occasions than we care to remember. (I don’t even want to THINK about the overflowing incident a few years back. And neither do you.)

Now, our marina has a charming device for emptying these tanks that we affectionately call “the chuckle pump.” It’s a horrible, long black hose that really looks like it’s enjoying its repulsive job when actively employed. Not only that, but the person in charge of the hose must be of steady hand. This is due to the fact that if the mouth of the hose should become unattached from the boat tank outlet, there will be what can only be described as “an enormous fountain of unmentionable sludge”. The canal is full of any number of things that can make you seriously ill, but my f.i.l has said he’s seen grown men dive right in rather than get hit by a shit fountain. Of course, I cannot blame them.

This pump is also attached to a tank. At the moment, this tank is completely full and we must await the arrival of the chuckle WAGON to come before we may return to our home and answer nature whenever it calls.

But until then, we shall stay with The Rock Star’s parents and enjoy the luxury of being able to flush without fear.

The Whiz

Oh, but before I entirely leave this subject, I must trumpet a purchase I made over the summer to all you girls out there who are tired of not being able to write your name in the snow. They introduced this thing at the big music festivals last year to cut down on queues for the ladies room. The Whiz is amazing. You too can beat the system and wee standing up. I have to admit that I've not actually TRIED it yet, but am looking forward to on a long car trip in the near future. If I stay close enough to the shoulder of the road, I might even be lucky enough to cause a rubber-necking accident. Seriously, ladies, check it out.

Power to the People

I saw this picture in the rather comedy local paper this morning and it tickled me enough to choke on my Shreddies. I mean, wow, they must have been pretty fearsome to BEGIN with, but NOW...They certainly scare the shit out of ME. All 12 of them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Infiltrated

Today is Tuesday and that is very sad for me indeed, for it means that tomorrow I must return to Purgatory.

Purgatory (not it’s real name, although it WOULD be an excellent name if we expanded our range a little to include bits of jewelry to wear in places you wouldn’t show your mother) is a small shop specialising in silver jewelry in a small, well-to-do town about 10 minutes away from where we live. I’ve been doing time there for well over a year now and it’s become apparent to me that it’s high time to be off elsewhere.

I won’t bore you with the details of the ineffectual business skills of my boss or her complete lack of people skills. Those who WANT to lead are often those who should be restrained from leading at all costs. Great leaders and heroes come from the reluctant who rise to the occasion, not the wieners at the front of the class who are dying to be hall monitors. The crux of my problem at the moment is The Infiltrator.

My boss has never been able to keep managers long. There have been 5 since I’ve been employed. I’m lead to believe this is a pretty high turnover per-year rate, even for retail. This is because of her aforementioned completely lack of people skills. She is so lacking that 2 of the 5 managers did not even see out a month before they realized that they had made an enormous career error. 1 of them didn’t see out 3 days. Why have I lasted so long, you ask? Well, for one, she pays me LOADS. But also because every time she has demonstrated her lack of people skills on me, I deliver the smackdown and she runs, whimpering to the corner. I have worked with infinitely worse and more dysfunctional people than her and am very uninterested in being chastised by someone who won’t fix a broken toilet seat for ¾ of a year, but will happily pay 50 pounds a month in terrorism insurance. (I’m totally dead serious. I guess we’re pretty high risk, being in fashion accessories.)

The Infiltrator was brought in to replace the latest absconder. From the first moment she opened her mouth to speak to me, I knew that I had to flee.

The Infiltrator’s main character flaw (and there are legion) is her desperate attempt to socially penetrate me in an uncomfortable place. (“What, like the back of a Volkswagen?”) I made the fatal mistake of telling her something about my social life on the first day we were thrown together and ever since, I have had to lie like a flatfish in order to avoid her company after hours. My m.i.l calls this “poo on the shoe” behavior and I feel this is an apt analogy.

Aside from this, she seems to exist in an unusually high state of fuck-up-edness that, even in the Sword of Damocles situations that The Rock Star and I labor under, makes me want to deep kiss the Fates in gratitude for not giving me her life. It is deeply depressing, entirely of her own making and the only subject she can be persuaded to converse on for hours on end.

What exactly can you say to: “I cheated on my husband with my boyfriend and he kicked me out and then my boyfriend dumped me and now i fancy my husband again but he has a girlfriend and i’ve got no money for a night out and i want half the house and…”

You say nothing, nod politely and start methodically trying to chew your own arm off just to get away. This is why I have decided to leave before becoming mad and armless.

But I do not get to leave tomorrow and that is a Sad Thing.

Monday, February 21, 2005

"Right....?"

The Rock Star likes to ask me questions right as I'm drifting off to sleep, always beginning with "Right....?" so I'll go out on a limb and risk looking like melly-no-mates by posing one of these little conundrums to the blogging populus who may or may not be reading this:

If you had to wee on someone, who would it be and why?

The Rock Star likes to keep me on my toes, even inches from REM.

Soundtrack
Glory bound Martin Sexton The American

Born for the role

"Madonna will play a man in drag for her next movie role." -MSN Entertainment News

Good on you, love. Stick to what you're best at.

The Ducks of War

Duck-on-the-roof season is rapidly approaching again. I know this because they were outside when I opened the curtains yesterday, watching. Waiting.

If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would be spending my 30th birthday living on a traditional English narrowboat, I probably would have dropped a few dollars in their Styrofoam cup and hurried off before they started telling me about the alien anal probe. Yet, somehow, ten years later I find myself forgetting what it was like to have a house in which you can't stand at the front door and stare straight through the living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom and right out the back door.

Springtime brings the ducks back to the marina. Since we moved onto Galileo 5 years ago, ducks have rapidly become one of my all-time favorite animals. I mean, for comedy value, you just can't beat ducks. Last year, while cruising the Grand Union, I watched a duck dive underwater and moments later, surface right underneath another duck. Anyone who says that a duck's face can't register shock and embarrassment is grossly mislead.

The thing is, they like our boat. A lot. I don't know if it's because it's warm in the mornings on the roof near the outlet for our boiler or that Galileo has particularly tasty fungus growing on it at the waterline, but we seem to be the belle of the Grand Union duck socialite circle.

Lying in bed on mornings when the weather is beginning to get warmer, The Rock Star and I are usually privy to one, if not both of these sounds. First there is the splat splat splat splat splat from above our heads. This is the sound that duck feet make when out for a morning constitutional on a steel roof. Then there is the taka taka taka taka taka taka from just under the window. This is sound that a duck's bill makes when removing the algae du jour from the hull of our floating abode.

There is also a third sound that we get as the weather warms up and that is SHRLUUUUP SHOOP SHLLLLLLUP SCHLUP. This was a rather disturbing noise that it took us some time to identify once we moved onto the boat. Our first, most obvious thought was, "Shit! Monsters!" but we finally discovered that the algae on the hull was not only a delicacy to ducks, but much admired by the resident carp, who use their giant, horrible fishy lips to hoover up just about anything that gets in their way. (bread, tennis balls, kayaks, etc) I can not, by the way, understate the amazing bigness of these fish. They could eat your cat. Even Clive's cat. No joke.

Incidentally, I was VERY disappointed to discover that http://www.duck.com/ is the website of The Duck Corporation who develops software-based video compression technology. Not only do they have nothing to do with ducks, but they've changed their name to "On2 Technologies" and have neglected to give up their domain name so that someone might be able to use it in a more worthy, duck related way. Shameful.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Cats and The Crunchy Piece of Paper

The Rock Star had a gig last night in Ealing at an Irish pub called The Spinning Wheel. I try to go to gigs whenever I can, despite the smoky nature of English Pubs in general. (This is my hugest pet peeve ever. Don’t get me started. Just support The Ban.) I worried when he first joined that I might look like a rather sad groupie, clinging desperately to the vestiges of my 20’s, following around a semi-pro covers band for my own desperate and perverse reasons. But it’s actually Quality Time with The Rock Star as well as a good laugh with the rest of the guys (no offence to The Girl, of course) so anyone who thinks the former of me can spin on it. I know he likes to see me out there in the crowd, bopping around to the music he’s making, so, continue to bop I shall.

Everyone has their own sort of magnetism. People can instinctively sense things about you just by looking; that you’re in love with yourself, that you have hang ups, that you’re looking for a fight, etc. In my personal experience, what people tend to sense from me is that, no matter how obnoxious, drunk, insipid or socially inept they are, if they feel inclined to start a conversation with me, I will politely nod and smile and feign an interest in whatever conversational vomit they chose to spew into my lap, because my parents taught me that it’s easier to be kind than unkind. I’m beginning to believe that that might not necessarily be true, but I know that I will adhere regardless, because I am, at heart, a huge dork.My favorite analogy for this condition is that, if you put one piece of paper in the middle of a football field and released a cat onto the pitch, the cat would instinctively go directly to, and sit on that crunchy piece of paper. I AM that Crunchy Piece of Paper for all manner of drunks, divvies and dickheads.

This is, I swear, an honest- to- god conversation that I had in an extreme Crunchy Piece of Paper Moment last night. The scene: The Spinning Wheel. Myself and The Child (The Hairy One’s significant other who is WAY younger than me) were literally the ONLY people sitting at tables in the whole establishment. A whole room full of empty chairs beckoned to the inebriated 40-something gentleman who’d just weaved his way over from the bar. Which chair do you think he parked in?

The Prat: Hi.

Me:Hi.

The Prat: (pointing at the Band, who are setting up. There are amps, guitars, a drum kit and a keyboard on the stage.) So what’s going on here then?

Me: They’re a band. They’re going to play music.

The Prat: (winking unpleasantly) You’re not…

Paula Abdul: (loudly, from the speakers above my head) “STRAIGHT UP NOW TELL ME TO YOU REALLY WANNA LOVE ME FOREVER. ( oh oh oh )…”

Me: I’m sorry?

The Prat: You’re not English.

Me: No.

The Prat: Where’re you from then? (This is one of the classic Crunchy Piece of Paper Questions. I am different and exotic to CPOP people.)

Me: America. Maryland, on the east coast, near Washington DC. (Most CPOP people are impaired by either ignorance or alcohol, so it’s good to say where Maryland is before they ask you if it’s anywhere near California.)

The Prat: (pointing at The Child) She sounds American too.

The Child: I haven’t said anything.

The Prat: My brother’s moving to Florida.

Me: (trying to draw fire from The Child. I think she’s a Crunchy Piece of Paper too, but hasn't had quite as much experience, so she tends to get the deer in the headlights thing going on.) It’s nice there.

The Prat: Do you think…

Paula Abdul: “…NOW TELL ME IS IT GONNA BE YOU AND ME FOREVER
( oh oh oh )”…

Me: I’m sorry?

The Prat: Do you think he’ll do well there? I mean, better than he does here?

Me: Um…what does he do?

The Prat: He runs a restaurant.

Me: Well, people in Florida eat too, so I suppose so.

The Prat: He lives in Plymouth, so he’ll be leaving just like the Pilgrim Fathers.

Me: I think they landed in Massachusetts.

The Prat: (completely changing the subject and pointing at the band) What kind of music do they play?

Me: Rock covers from the 60’s onward.

The Prat: Do they play any…

Paula Abdul: “I’VE BEEN A FOOL BEFORE WOULDN’T LIKE TO GET MY LOVE CAUGHT IN THE SLAMMIN DOOR HOW ABOUT SOME INFORMATION PLEASE…STRAIGHT UP NOW TELL ME DO YOU REALLY WANNA LOVE ME FOREVER (oh oh oh) OR AM I CAUGHT IN A…”

The Prat: ...Clinton?

Me: I’m sorry, I didn’t catch most of that. You mean George Clinton? The funk guy with the dreadlocks? I don’t think they know any of his stuff.

The Prat: No, Bill Clinton.

Me: The president? Did he write songs too?

The Prat: No, what do you think of him?

Me: Sorry, I was silly enough to think that we were still talking about music. He’s okay, I guess.

The Prat: What do you think of the guy that’s in now?

Me: (There are two things that my parents taught me never to bring up with a stranger unless I was spoiling for a fight: Religion and Politics. Likewise any stranger who does this to me earns an immediate conversational Red Card.) Um…I’m not really a fan, no.

The Prat: How about the Kennedys?

Me: What about them?

The Prat: What do you think of them?

Me: Well, they’re all dead.

The Prat: Unlucky.

Me: Yeah, all being dead is pretty unlucky.

The Prat: (raising his Guinness) Let’s have a toast to Jackie Kennedy. (He rams his pint into my stationary water glass, spilling it on my trousers.) To Jackie.

Me: Indeed.

The Prat then rises from his chair and leaves as abruptly as he came. This is a classic Crunchy Piece of Paper exchange for me. I am convinced, however, that I am not alone. I'm sure there are some of you out there who read this, nodding your heads in grim solidarity. Embrace your Crunchy Piece of Paperdom, my brothers and sisters, for we shall be rewarded for our patiently borne out martyrdom, in this life or the next.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Kiwi in My Face

That mad bastard Kiwi came in the shop again today. This man is the poster boy for de-caf. He's your sterotypical aging rocker, although I'm sure he'd indignantly call himself an artist. His look is leather jacket and loads of jewelry; Mick Jagger trying to shag Steven Tyler but making a real hash of it. But, truth to be told, I actually like when he drops in; it's very rare to meet anyone who's natural ebullience extends boundlessly in all directions. Even when he has a dislike for something, he ENTHUSIASTICALLY dislikes it. On most of his visits, I manage to sell him something, but not today. Certainly there is a limit to how much turquoise jewelry that any grown man should wear in one sitting.

MOVIE DRIBBLAGE

May I just say that I am completely wetting my cinematic trousers over the release of the Hitchhiker's Guide movie? I was very small when the original series was aired on PBS; The Last Bastion of Intelligent Programming Left in the Cosmos And Shower of Cool Things Like Sesame Street, Mystery, Red Dwarf, Doctor Who and Live from Lincoln Centre. With wet hair, straight from the bath and cocooned in my footie pj's, I was allowed to stay up late to watch with my dad. God knows what I must have thought of it, but it's inspiration stayed with me long enough to read Adams' whole catalog in high school. Since then, there has never been a time when I didn't have a copy of Hitchhiker's Guide. I'm quite excited to see what 50 million dollars does to one of my favorite reads of all time.

Time for sleepy bobos.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

E-I-E-I-Oh My Dear God

Had to mass delete my old e-mail inbox spam this afternoon. It's funny how the bulk of the stuff seems to move in cycles. Two months ago, the majority of the 600 or so messages that I got every month were encouraging me to lengthen my completely absent penis by means of Viagra or natural herbal remedies. Of course, there were also the usual smatterings of "hOt T33n pUSsy" and "farm sex". (I've never been brave enough to open up one of the latter mails to discover whether or not these e-mails are refering to sex on farms or the much less tasteful alternative. I don't need to know that badly) Now it seems to have moved on to encouraging me to increase my "payload" as it were. Is that something that we like? If so, I never got the memo.

Soundtrack:
The West Wing Season 3 "Hartsfield's Landing"

The Rock Star and his Band of Merry Men (and Woman)

The Rock Star is in band with 5, occasionally 6 and rarely 7 other people; The Cheerful Idiot, The Hairy One, Pretty Boy, The Girl, The New Guy, The Fraggle and occasionally The Nudist. A Merry Band of Fuctional Dysfunctionalism and a good laugh to boot. I’m trying to get The Rock Star to phone the Idiot at the moment, so that we can find out if he’s got rehearsal this evening. It’s been hard to get a hold of him after returning from Banff. Since splitting up with his wife, he suddenly discovered that he was incredibly popular with women and has disappeared into a haze of batchelor hedonism. I guess it’s to be expected and even encouraged.He’s called The Idiot for many reasons, although he earned himself a shirt with his moniker emblazoned on it after sticking his tongue to a metal pole in -38 on the second day of our vacation. I’m pretty sure he knew what was going to happen, but the fact that he did it anyway is the reason his nickname will stick.

The band rules our life a bit at the moment. Weekends are definitely not our own. I think that should bother me more, but it's about all the socializing I do at the moment, so I can't complain. As long as he's in for good TV night on Tuesday evenings, it's okay by me.

I am hoping that The Idiot will inform The Rock Star that there is no rehearsal this evening so that we might take advantage of Orange Wednesday at the cinema. Most promotions that companies offer as "incentives" turn out to be as useful as a left handed screwdriver, but my new mobile phone company offers two for one cinema tickets on Wednesdays, which completely rocks. Something useful! Rapture!

Ah. Perhaps not. The Rock Star must run this evening. Bumlasers. The Marathon is creeping up stealthily and he must be prepared. The thought of running 26 miles makes me want to expire on the spot.

Soundtrack:
Show Me the Money Mohair Dave

Friday, February 11, 2005

What I See Down the End of My Nose

I think I'm going to have to come to grips with the fact that I'm a snob. Everyone has an inborn right to exist and my life, in the grand scheme of Everything isn't worth anymore than anyone else's so....does that mean that I have to go on holiday with them?

Soundtrack
My computer's processor fan making a noise like a cat trying to gak up a hairball

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Muscle Memory

Spent the evening on the slope in Milton Keynes this evening with The Rock Star. After coming back from Banff two weeks ago, where both of us tentatively learned the art of snowboarding, we were somewhat concerned that the knowledge might have abandoned us, but all was well, even after the first run. The lift was more of a challenge than the actual boarding; I feel an unpleasant groinal bruise coming on from having a small disc attached to a bar shoved through my legs.

Dexterity in the snow has never really been my thing. My two skiing experiences in high school ended in disaster. The first time I went, I fell face first onto my ski pole and jarred my right eye in its socket. I escaped, luckily, with only an embarrassing black eye and the nickname "bruiser" for the next few days at school. My second trip, however, ended in the emergency room with a dislocated thumb, a month in a cast and very pissed off parents. With those catastrophes in mind, I was quite chuffed to discover that, 12 years later, I'm actually fairly competent on a snowboard. My guess is that it comes from the fear of both of your feet strapped to a slippery plank; not much room for cocky beginners.

Must retire. Totally knackered.

Soundtrack
The Rock Star beat-boxing in the background

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Mouse in the Pants

So, a funny thing happened to my mother-in-law this morning. Stepping out of the shower after morning ablutions, she bumbled back to her bedroom in search of underwear. She had only just pulled on a pair of pants when Moggins strolled into the room, nice as you please, with a mouse. This, in my opinion, completely disproves said m.i.l’s theory that the cat hates her. Surely she wouldn’t bother with the ritual presentation if she didn’t harbor SOME respect in her grudging little acorn sized heart. At any rate, there they were; 63 year old woman in pants versus 14 year old moggie with mouse.

My m.i.l is not faint hearted. She grew up in the midst of the Blitz in London and was a rather stern ward sister in the 60’s and so, consequently, is tough as nails. Mice, dead or otherwise (the mouse in question was either dead or hedging its bets, but at that precise moment in time, she wasn’t entirely sure which) hold no terror or “ick” factor for her. Still clad only in bathrobe and pants, she chivvied the cat onto the landing, calling out to enlist my brother-in-law’s help in catching the little ball of fur and razors.

After managing to corner the little beast on the landing window, m.i.l pinched her nose shut to make her drop her prize, which she duly did with great deal of complaining. By this time, b.i.l was in the hall, having just emerged from his bed. Mother and son, cat and mouse had all converged in the hallway when m.i.l realized that the mouse, having been granted an unexpected 11th hour reprieve, had taken refuge in the safest possible place; inside her bathrobe.

My guess is that it’s human nature, whether you’re a 63 year old ex-ward sister or an SAS commando, to flail and holler like a wild monkey if something small and alive makes its way underneath your clothes, because this is exactly what m.i.l did. My brother in law was precisely no help whatsoever due to the intense trauma of seeing his own mother running down the landing wearing only a pair of pants, and open bathrobe and the gifts that god gave her. Dignity was all he could contribute to the situation as he averted his eyes.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard her scream like a girl,” he remarked later.

Damn, life is all ABOUT stories like that.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Searching for the Sun on Tuesday

3000 miles to the west, in my parent's basement, back home in Maryland, is a box. I have, for YEARS, toyed with the idea of alternately burning or burying this box. It contains 40+ journals that I kept during college and high school. They are priceless, cringeworthy, surprising and deeply mortifying to me every time I get the urge to open the box and gorge myself on the contents.

I haven't kept a journal since I've been married. I'm sure this lovely form of catharsis must cease for many people once they put on the ring. It's for the best, I'm sure, for many, many reasons.

And yet, here I am. Again.

Soundtrack:
Harder to Breathe Maroon 5 Songs about Jane