Thursday, November 30, 2006

open letter to the girl at my gym in the pink cap with rhinestones

Hi there!

I just wanted to say, I'm both impressed AND entertained by your ability to perform suggestive dance hall moves while on the elliptical. I'm also a little amazed by how you swivel your hips seductively and gaze at yourself alluringly while you work your biceps with the 5 lb barbells, and a little amused by the way you pretend you're the only one in the room but keep glancing around to see who's looking at you.

Well I confess. I, for one, can't keep my eyes off you -- you're fascinating. I'm always wondering what fancy little move you'll pull on your apparently unsuspecting reflection. You're a hundred times more interesting than looking at my own sweaty little face in the mirror, red with exertion, hair plastered to my brow. Being curious about what you'll do next also takes my mind off the weightier subjects I'd otherwise ponder, like "who in the gym office keeps playing that Offspring CD?" or "am I going to be eating a can of tuna over the sink for dinner again?"

So it's clear that you've perfected that coy, dewy-eyed, come-hither expression, that come-on-big-boy, show-me-the-kind-of-man-you-are look -- in addition to a whole range of other highly emotive facial contortions suitable for (I am guessing) a range of late-night applications.* And while you're comedically, even absurdly theatrical, you're really very pretty and have a nice bum. But I have news for you.

This gym is full of fags. Hot, sweet, man-loving fags. They aren't interested in you, or me, and never will be. They want that dude over there with the beautiful calves who is doing perfectly controlled chin-ups again, now at chin-up number 15, rep #3. (Wow!)

Just thought you should know. It's actually why I love this gym, virtually no straight male prowlers to crowd you or hit on you, and it's got a down-to-earth low-key kind of feel. Plus the gays here are generally very generous with the kindly tips on how to work your obliques or do a more effective curl. Maybe you want to try the GoodLife Gym down the block, which is apparently a total meat market and rhinestone caps (on women, anyway,) are more de rigeur? Or if you're committed to this place, consider bartering your elaborate hip choreography for workout tips from one of the nicer 'mos. You might be able to work out a nice skills swap.


* even though you are apparently compelled to keep practicing them on yourself in the mirror

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

performance anxiety, causes of

Hello there!

Seems there has been quite a bit of musing lately on other blogs about blogging, why do it, etc. Perhaps a symptom of the deflated end-days of NaBloPoMo 2006.

Some folks seem to feel pressure to be popular or well-known or something or to get linked to, and increase traffic, and then feel pressure to be consistently clever or amusing, and to hopefully become like (or one of) the "big bloggers", (I suppose meaning people like good old Dooce who supports herself and her family off ad revenue from her blog).

I don't mean the following as an insult to my readers or other writers, but I don't give a crap and I just don't get this. I mean, I like that I apparently have a reader in Buenos Aires (which I know thanks to Google ANALytics), and I like that I found things like this guy's art, and this woman's writing, and this guy's website, and if any of you turned up in my home town I would probably offer to make you some tea or pour you some bourbon (your call) -- but as for the rest of it, what the hell?

Maybe it's generational, (I mean I WAS already eleven when Sheena Easton sang "Strut") or maybe I spent too much goddamned time enjoying unstructured play as a kid, but I don't want a MySpace page and I don't want to carefully craft an online persona.

I like when people comment on my blog (because I generally think other people are interesting and I like the conversation and connection), and I'm sort of flattered when others link to me, but I think it's also just dandy if they don't feel like doing any of that.

I link to people when I feel like it. It's not to network.

I just write here. My family and friends sometimes read it, and you're welcome to read it too.

And when I'm not writing, I'm posting IM conversations in lieu of doing anything creative. Ahem:

blackbeltbarrister: hey you know under the law in England, you are guilty of necrophilia if whilst having sex with someone they die and you do not stop the act then.

Roo: excellent

blackbeltbarrister: how on earth would they prove that?

Roo: well exactly
and what if you simply mistook their death for a "little death"?
just thought "wow, what a powerful orgasm they seem to be having, they haven't even blinked in several minutes"

blackbeltbarrister: exactly, you're GUILTY !

Followed by:

Roo: so apparently if you have sex with someone who dies
you can be charged with necrophilia
if you don't stop
in England
where my friend is studying law

Drew: That's great to know
Because that would be embarassing
Not only is it a good legal point, it's probably also good manners too

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I'm no scientist, but it seems to me the numbers and categories in the study referenced in this article are bizarre. How is is that you could basically be smoking a cigarette about once every waking hour all day, and still be considered a "moderate" smoker?

Some of my friends already know this story:

I tried smoking when I was 16. I was in an outdoor education class, and our little group of 11 or 12 students was on a rock-climbing trip. It was a sunny weekend in mid-October. We ended up having two vaguely connected campsites -- one for the teachers to secretly drink at and get a break from us; and one for the students to secretly smoke at and get a break from the teachers.

The outdoor ed class had a king and a queen, two clever, laid-back, sneering and charismatic teenagers, in full, raging rebellion against everything. I adored them. They were total assholes. For a little while we were close friends and would get drunk together with her older brother and his friends when the parents were out of town.

Raised by healthy non-smokers, but still wanting to keep up with my pals, I compromised by taking drags of their cigarettes and not inhaling. I liked blowing smoke rings, and I was pretty good at it. I told my smoking friends that I didn't really inhale, and my candour was respected. I had a more sarcastic sense of humour then than I do now, and that seemed okay with them too.

Truth be told, I liked (and still like) unlit cigarettes -- I think all the sweetness of tobacco goes sour in smoke.

So sitting around that campfire one night, perhaps emboldened after a day of climbing up and rapelling down a lakeshore cliff, I decided, what the hell, I'll properly smoke a whole cigarette. We were sitting in the warm dome of firelight cracking jokes and being idiots in the otherwise perfect silence of an autumn night, the loons already gone south. I smoked the whole thing, carefully suppressing the impulse to cough.

Then I got up, saying I had to pee, and walked trembling into the woods with my headlamp on, looking for some place to get down on my knees and vomit. My whole dinner came up, and I covered it with leaves. I stopped by the shore on my way back to splash water on my face and try to shake the nausea.

Returning to the fire, someone offered me another cigarette. "No thanks, maybe later," I said, all the while thinking "Holy shit. How do people do that?"

Monday, November 27, 2006


Friend: My legs hurt, and that really worries me 'cause the only activity i did this w/e was put plastic on my windows and clean my bike!

Roo: did you do any exercise earlier? in the week?
could it be delayed onset muscle soreness? (DOMS)

Friend: no
this week i will.

Roo: oh, so it's like anticipatory onset muscle soreness
where your muscles hurt just KNOWING you'll maybe work out this week

Friend: i have a bit of DOMS in my privates.
i love chatting with you!

getting a jump on it


I am a jackass for going to bed on a Sunday night at 2:05 AM.

Good morning, Monday!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

your hair, like a flock of goats, bounding down Mt. Gilead

Oh, ha ha ha, la la la, the Bible, it's so raunchy sometimes. To wit (from the Song of Songs):

Your lips are honey, honey and milk are under your tongue, your clothes hold the scent of Lebanon.

Your breasts are two fawns, twins of a gazelle, grazing in a field of lilies.

Ah, romance. Or mystical love. You pick.

Speaking of romance and other languages and cultures and translations: I have an Arab friend. Arabic is much more romantic than English. She is hot, and has always attracted male attention. Once she threw up her hands at me and said "These Canadian boys have no poetry! They say 'I love you', like that's supposed to rock me to the core. My mother will pass me a cup of fucking tea and say 'Here you are, oh my eyes, oh my soul.' Well if a man is in love with me, I need him to do better than those three trite and leaden words. I need poetry!"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

different ears

About two years ago I travelled a bit around France and Spain.

Towards the end of the trip, a fiddler friend of mine joined me in Barcelona and we went on to Granada. He has been playing since he was a young child, originally preparing to be a concert violinist, and studied with some of the best. For the last ten years, however, he's been perfecting his fiddling as well - you name the style, he can play it. These years of experience combined with inborn talent make him an extraordinary musician, but he conducts himself with a genuine thoughtfulness and humility.

On the train to Granada, we met an artist from Austin and a young film maker from California, and we all became fast friends the way travellers do. For some reason, the artist had heard about a luthier at the far end of town, and when she heard my friend was a fiddler she suggested we go. We all stayed in the Albaizin, the old Moorish Quarter, near the Alhambra. I recommend it.

So one evening we set out to find the address of the luthier, weaving in and out of crowds and street sellers for over an hour, until we reached the shop. (Some places are open incredibly late in Spain, and open or closed at seemingly improbable hours - though I'm sure the rhythm seems perfectly natural to the locals).

My friend played almost every violin in the shop, calmly and politely selecting and rejecting instruments based on (to us) inscrutable criteria. We did deduce, however, that the ones he played for longer were probably the better ones. He seemed to sort of settle on one, and put it through its paces. We sat enraptured, listening, stealing delighted glances at each other, like we couldn't believe our luck -- a private performance, in this little shop, in Granada of all places!

After a while, the shop owner asked him, with great admiration, if he could make him a custom violin. "Anything you want," he said, "I will make it." My friend politely took the luthier's information but did not commit. We left excited!

I said, "Are you going to buy one? That was absolutely wonderful!" And he said, "That was fun, yeah, but those violins had no tone."

Friday, November 24, 2006

He has changed his name a few times, possibly for artistic reasons, possibly to outrun us

An eccentric and fairly well-known artist in this town used to be our babysitter -- and he was a favourite sitter for me and my siblings for one main reason.

You know how kids always demand "Again! Again!" if something you do when you're playing with them is funny, until you are sick of obliging with repetition?

Well, he would actually do whatever "it" was again and again and again until WE were sick of it. That's dedication. Or patience. Or madness. Whatever it was, we LIKED it. Especially me, Queen of Overdoing It.

"It" by the way, would have been something like: walking along and pretending to not see the squeaky rubber chicken in his path, then stepping on it and shrieking. Really high-brow stuff.

Hi and thank you, The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Ian!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

you make me feel like a girl for hire

I'm really disappointed. I bared my stinking, tar-oozing heart to you, and only two comments? Come on! Isn't there anything that everyone else in the world loved while it left you cold? Let me hear it. I really want to know.

Or disagree with me and argue that the first two seasons of Friends was actually really awesome.

I know I'm long overdue for a posting on "nipple clamps", but the truth is I've never tried them and don't know much about them. (I just like all the alliteration on the "p" and the general raunchiness of the idea.) So if you want, comment about nipple clamps instead.

Or just hush, and enjoy the fantastic glaring indignation of the shirt-and-belt-with-heels 1984 version of Sheena Easton. (When I was a kid, I thought she was incomparably glamorous.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

either my most useful or my most lame post yet

It depends whether you're coming here for the old-timey banjo tabs*, or if you really count on me to help you keep your email spam down.

If it's the latter, you're in luck! I just found this cool tool for encoding your email address (on your website or wherever) in ASCII characters. In case you didn't know, this foils the spam bot bastards.

Maybe you all already knew about this. Maybe you're smarter than me. But are you #1 in Google searches for "hypnotic squirrel"?!?!? I didn't think so, punk.

*wait, have I ever posted a single one? no.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm #1!!!!

...if you do a Google search for "hypnotic squirrel", thanks to this post.

Oh I am so happy.

Thank you, Drew, for pointing this out, AND for making me this little beauty to commemorate this great accomplishment.

In which I am a salty, cranky, hating beeetch

...or "Things I should have loved but hated":


Maybe it's because I have no soul, but I didn't like March of the Penguins (or specifically, the English version that I saw). While the cinematography was spectacular, and the facts of the penguin life cycle truly amazing, the whole anthropomorphizing of the penguins and their struggles seemed forced and silly. I felt like it was yet another indication that we can't just let the natural world be what it is. We have to simplify and Disney-fy everything, layer it all with digestible maudlin crap and project our own psychological issues onto it to make it palatable. It's always all about us. Blech.*


Something else I should have liked (because I like me some satire) but hated instead was Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. I remember actually throwing it across the room in frustration. It just seemed so boring and heavy-handed to me. (Mind you, I was 17 when I read it, and possibly not in the right frame of mind.)


Even though by description it sounds totally in line with my values, I also utterly failed to enjoy the ever-popular Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I believe can be effectively summarized thusly (and it will help you appreciate my point, I think, if you read this in a sneering, whiney tone): "I fix my own bike. My friend takes his to the shop. My way is more Zen because it means I am attentive and involved in the present and my own life." Congratulations, mofo.**


I also hated Seinfeld, maybe because of the high-waisted-jeans-with-white-running-shoes look. Maybe because I got sick of it being the only thing my fellow office workers could talk about on any given day. (Rehashing sit-coms = me frantically clawing about for either something to puncture my eardrums with, or something to smash noisily so that it drowns out the natter.)


And I guess to round off this petty little tirade, I'll freely announce that I hated Friends. Don't you, dear reader, know a bunch of people who are way more wacky and fun and interesting than those whiney losers? I thought so. Me too.

And what things were YOU supposed to like that you hated, with the whole of your rancid little heart?


To completely guarantee my spot in hell, here's something I LIKE. I showed it to a few friends and they were HORRIFIED. But I think, while it's terribly dark and a bit over-the-top, it's a brilliant skewering:

What do you think of it? Horrified? Horrified but still think it's clever?

* But hell, I guess if the only way to get people to care about the environment and global warming is to glorify how cute penguins are, bring it on I guess.

** I actually physically shuddered with revulsion and had to explain it away as a sudden chill when a woman I knew at university proudly announced she was going to write her academic paper in a religious studies class on "Zen and the Art of Rowing". (As you may have guessed, she was an enthusiastic rower.) (The religious studies class, for context, was purely academic, and not affiliated with any faith or denomination, i.e. not to be confused with theology or seminary studies.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

bad dinners

Not in order:

1. licorice allsorts

2. spoonful of peanut butter with bourbon chaser

3. can of tuna eaten over sink

4. boiled egg dipped in mayo

5. three-day old noodles, nuked with butter, salt and pepper (actually, not bad!)

6. blueberry cereal bar


Sunday, November 19, 2006

motorized hypnotic squirrel

So you might be wondering why I'd be staying in a hipster boutique hotel in T-dot when I have a bunch of good pals there who'd put me up.

Simple explanation: It's because I won a prize!! Last month I entered a raffle and I won the night at the hotel, tickets for some really good comedy (hosted at the hotel), and dinner for two at Oyster Boy. Rah!

So after the fun noodly day with my funky aunt, I met up with a hot little actress friend of mine (not famous YET) and we slurped back oysters, chugged some vino, and then joined some other pals to cackle at the clever funny people until 2 AM. Then the actress bid us adieu and went home to her boyfriend. Then the remaining people stayed up until Stupid O'Clock, dancing and eating cheesies and drinking beer and later trying to get my dinky little karaoke machine to work.

(Did you know that you cannot order pizza in Toronto after 3 AM? What the hell?)

In the morning, I luxuriated in lolling about in the mountains of fluffy bedding and watching trash TV.

Of COURSE "While You Were Out" was on, and at one point the designer guy said "Well, it's time to work on the motorized hypnotic squirrel."

And I thought: "Hell yah! Oh man, when did this show get to be so AWESOME?"

I was pretty excited, and even pictured it in my mind's eye, and wondered how they were going to make it, what kind of motor, where do the glue gun and nail gun and spray paint come in? Because I was kind of thinking of taking notes and maybe making one for myself later.

And then it turned out to be this kind of squirrel*:

*Meaning, I'd misheard "swirl".

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I'm posting from my aunt's place in T-dot and we've got a fun noodly day planned so I can't write for long. Tonight I'm staying at the Gladstone Hotel, which has a really neat selection of artist-designed rooms (photos posted on the site). Mine has a karaoke machine in it but from a design perspective is not the most dazzling. I really wanted room 417 though, which is described on the website as being "a room that is swimming in nostalgia and lavish exoticism edged with postmodern humour", and hell if that ain't me, eh?

But instead I will likely have a bunch of guys who I've known for 13 years chugging Steamwhistle in my room and singing Prince.

Hey, wait a minute, let me just do some math...

guys I've known for 13 years = swimming in nostalgia
singing Prince on a karaoke machine in a hotel room = lavish exoticism edged with postmodern humour

Rah! I love math.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Seek and ye shall find

So, I'm having too much fun with Google ANALytics. I can now see what people search for when they come to my site. A loosely rated selection:


sexism in borat*
bad dates
peart rick mercer


never put salt in your eyes
poster suspicion breeds confidence***
thurston howell III lovey
snake eating its own tail
ring the bells that still can ring
nacho libra****
power brokering
spontaneous me
wreck beach


stuart puts salt in his eyes
as useless as
stone the devil
can you die from giardiasis*****
attractive jeans hiking boots
voice disorders carol channing
terriers easy to feed
japanese girls******

* spoiler warning: there isn't any. sorry to disappoint.

** I think this is from people misspelling "Amityville"

*** Note: it most certainly does!

**** I think this is from people misspelling "Nacho Libre"

***** I wondered too, but I just went on drugs to kill it first.

****** I'm guessing you didn't find what you were looking for? Sorry.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Boisterous, flapping application of apricot scrubbing lotion to arms, elbow calluses, other extremities"

This List of Grievances is wonderful.

Blackbeltbarrister, you know it made me want to call you up to reminisce about the many many grievances we had back at UBC. For starters:

- Theory 370 with the "and what not" (x 43 per two hour class)

- "I know we're talking about Durkheim and Freud have a lot of heavy material to cover that we'll be tested on later and critical analysis that is the foundation of this degree but I just want to reveal that I was in a very bad relationship and then I found God and I'm going to make everyone terribly uncomfortable for the next ten minutes which will seem like an eternity by going into gorey personal details while the incompetent mediator for this course stands back shocked and ineffectual."

- vacuous urban hipster taking up valuable airtime chattering senselessly about her romanticized roots as a Yemeni Jewish nomad

- girl who sniffs endlessly, every class, without EVER BLOWING HER NOSE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BLOW YOUR NOSE!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

never put salt in your eyes!

At last. An old favourite, back in my life, thanks to the weinernet:


I love how in this article the first tsunami waves (less than half a meter) STRUCK Northern Japan, and the second wave (20 centimeters, or maybe 8 inches) HIT the shore a while later.

I'm sort of thinking verbs like "(lightly) TAPPED" and "PIDDLED (onto)" would have been more appropriate. Still, I'm glad that they overestimated the possible impact, took precautions, and that there was no one hurt, no harm done.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

a trick, a flicker of the light*

As I crawl out from under this damp rock stinking of rotting leaves and dead worms, I wonder WHY does it have to drizzle AGAIN? These overcast skies are bringing me down.

On the up side, I had breakfast yesterday with an old friend who I haven't seen in 17 years.

We laughed quite a bit but also got right down to the big questions: are you happy? how much are you faking? what things have brought you to your knees in the last 17 years? what are you trying to do with your life? why does the world work this way?

He has a partner so it absolutely wasn't a romantic thing**, but I sure am glad he's out there in the world. It's also just so great to have a friendship like this rekindle so effortlessly.

Last time I asked people about their look-alikes and evil twins, this time I'm curious about how it feels to connect with a friend after a loooooong time.

* From a Dennis Lee poem about a thing called a honkabeest from Nicolas Knock and Other People that had some lines like "a trick, a flicker of the light / the tiny creature / like a flight / of warblers / seemed to ride the air / and shed a frisky lustre there" ... I can't recall the poem exactly, but it has been taking up the limited space of my grey matter since I had to memorize it in Grade 8. Anyway, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, DENNIS LEE, a man who had a tremendous influence on my young mind:

** For the record, I make a lot of mistakes, but I never pursue other people's lovers/partners/spouses.

Monday, November 13, 2006

speaking of dopplegängers...

...don't you think that this picture of Tom Cruise looks like an exuberant/drunk Steve Dallas?

(I couldn't find any pictures of Steve that really suited, so you'll just have to conjure him up from your sweet memory. I used to love Bloom County, and somewhere I even have a Deathtöngue album.)


My aunt and uncle came back from a cycling trip around Ireland and reported that my dopplegänger lives in County Cork. I have to take their word for it. I am often told by strangers and friends that I look like someone else they know. Maybe I have a generic face.

I think it was my Arabic prof, a Palestinian Christian who studied Islam, who told me that the great practical joke in the Middle East is that God made 15 of each face -- that for each face there are five Muslims, five Jews, and and five Christians who look identical. One day fate will conspire so that their paths cross, and they will realize, on looking in these living mirrors, that they are all alike in a fundamental way, all brothers and sisters (or so the idea goes). Then atrocities will be forgiven, diverse groups will start to co-operate and compromise like a respectful, loving, functional family, and peace will reign. Whoo-hoo!

Here's a neat photo set of look-alikes.

Have you ever met your dopplegänger? (The evil OR benign version.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

like a phoenix rising from the disgusting ashes

If you want to know what I'm going on about, download and listen to this:

The Gentleman's Guide to Grooming

Unfortunately it's in Real Audio format (*.ram), which is a drag, but if you have it on your machine already, why not.

"Some call it stagnant, I call it integrity."

all my heros are neurotic whiners*

My Dad, a frequent reader and lovingly unimpressed with some of my lamer posts for NaBloPoMo, said that my whinging on this blog lately has reminded him a little of Jonathan Goldstein, who does WireTap on CBC Radio.


See, some people think WireTap is a huge waste of time, (and the description on the main page does not capture what it really is at all), but to me it's aural manna as I wander the desert of my Sunday afternoon.

Almost two years ago (back when it aired on Tuesday or Wednesday nights) I wrote to WireTap:

timestamp: 2005-02-23 10:28:40 EST

I laughed SO HARD listening to Wire Tap last night and would love to hear it again. It's the one where Goldstein is searching for the source of his deep-seated generalized hostility and traces it back to his bris. I thought it was brilliant. How can I hear it again?

Thanks for making me cackle with delight in my car on my way home.


Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 6:44:33 PM
Thanks for the nice email. Sadly, there aren't any online archives...
though I guess you could call audience relations for cd's. All the best,

WireTap has a great FAQ. The best one is this:

Q: Can I buy the transcript of a conversation featured on WireTap?

A: Most WireTap conversations are born from hours of improvised material that no one in their right mind would want to transcribe, so forgive us if we do not make them available. For now, if you’d like to read something you’ve heard on WireTap you’ll just have to sit by your tape deck, record the show and then type it out yourself.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm behind on the much easier NaDruWriNi. Urp.

*Except you, Pa.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

sometimes I don't feel fresh; or, my musings post-Borat

It was more subtle than I thought it would be.

I'm surprised to find myself writing that about a movie in which a man presents a plastic sack of his own feces to the hostess of a dinner party he is attending.

Anyway, it seems to be getting pegged by a lot of people as gross-out satire, but I thought that this excrutiating movie served up equal amounts of heartbreak, hilarity, and cringing. It's fantastic.

I've read a few great reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes, so I'm hesitant to write much more here because other writers have already done it so well. One noted that this movie is particularly effective in showcasing how clearly racism thrives on stupid conformism as much as ignorance. (I could credit the author but can't find the review again. I'll keep looking.)

A beautiful case in point (although there are so many to choose from) is the South Carolina frat boys. One little delighted thought I had as I left the theater was that those boys were never going to get laid again. Now, as you may know, they've launched a lawsuit, claiming that they "engaged in behaviour that they otherwise would not have engaged in", i.e. if they hadn't been plied with likker and filmed under pretenses, they say.

Come on boys, using booze as a scapegoat may be your usual thing after you proudly "sleep with girls and then never call them because you don't respect them" and then brag about it to your lame little friends, but I don't think the lawsuit is going to lend you any credibility, and I'm pretty sure it's not going to help dig yourselves out of this hole you dug for yourselves by being huge douchebags.*

These privileged young white men are so insecure that they actually believe (or state that they believe) minorities are ruining their country, that we should bring back slavery, and that all women are bitches. So maybe this will come off as preachy or self-righteous, but I really mean it: but how about some kind of statement of apology instead of a lawsuit? Just an idea. I know nobody admits to being an asshole anymore, and it would be really hard to do, but I dunno, it might be refreshing.

Think about it boys. People might even believe you. And in time, maybe after a few years, you might even get laid again.

*Did I mention? My friend Andrea and I invented using "douchebag" as an insult, when we were in grade 8, and we used to give each other wrapped boxes of Massengill douches for birthday presents. Typically someone would screw on the "nozzle" and then squeeze the bottle and spray everyone in the room with vinegar water, or whatever it was. I know, we were cool, huh?

Friday, November 10, 2006

books on the back of my toilet

Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson. I love this book. I haven't read anything else by her.

The Bhagavad Gita, by Untold Thousands who have passed down or added to the narrative over the millenia. You know, for a little "hot Krishna action" (as one might say) in times of need, to mix a little sacred with your profane.

I once left my copy of Anna Karenina on the back of the toilet, and a visiting friend exited the loo with it in hand, held it up accusingly, and said "you expect too much of us, you know. How about a little Esquire, maybe Time magazine? I got so wrapped up in Levin's existential angst I forgot what I was doing in there."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

p.s. congratulations, U.S.A.!

cut me some slack, I'm hungover

Roo: hey so what's the next subject on our blog list
I did clowns
what was for today?

Rik: i dunno

Roo: it's our safety net
tell me what to blog about today

Rik: gardening it is

Roo: fuck
I don't know anything about gardening

Rik: ok, we can do vomit stories?

Roo: yes, let's skip straight to vomit stories

Rik: yes

Roo: I have vomited in the past

Rik: i may not have any nipple clamp anecdotes, by the way

Roo: me neither
but we can certainly DISCUSS them

Rik: i have vomited into a girl's hair
nearly her ear
and it was close to being her mouth

Roo: yes, I have seen someone vomit into a girl's hair (specifically, my brother, into my sister's)

Rik: which would have been great for story-telling
but less good for, like, her

Roo: you know what? fuck it, I'm blogging this convo, but I'll edit it to make us both sound even more clever
actually, let's both edit this convo to make each other sound more clever, and post our own versions.

Rik: surely we've had funnier convos which you can pretend are from today?

Roo: starting with "hey so what's the next subject on our blog list"

Rik: or, we could have an hilarious convo starting now

Roo: ok go

Rik: that could work
given that we both hate blogging

Roo: literally hate it



Rik: nice

Roo: thank you

Rik: totwally
maybe that's it...

Roo: fuck dude, this is enough for me, my standards are rock bottom, I am posting this

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


From: Roo
To: Rik Abel
Sent: Tuesday, November 7, 2006 10:51:51 AM
Subject: same post

So funny, we both essentially posted about the same thing.

Maybe we should do that. Make a list of things to post about, and every day we do our own take on it like:

Wednesday: Clowns
Thursday: Gardening
Friday: Vomit Stories
Saturday: Best Kiss Ever
Sunday: When I was Four
Monday: Onions
Tuesday: Nipple Clamps
Wednesday: Paper Cuts
Thursday: Receipts
Friday: Bad Poetry
Saturday: The Time I Got Ripped Off
Sunday: Rainfall in Micronesia
Monday: I'm Having a Party and ______ is Invited
Tuesday: Anathesia

Etc etc.


Well, Rik never answered, because he's sick, and perhaps because the idea is redonculous. Oh well, I'm spent, and regurgitating Kurt Vonnegut doesn't count. So here goes. True story.

Image from here. (Used gratefully, but as per usual, without permission.)

The old British man across the street from us when I was growing up was a retired clown. His house smelled like unlit tobacco, furniture polish, and library books. His nose was swollen, his eyes almost translucent. He was an alcoholic. I didn't know then that he was, but learned this later from my mom, who knew, as all the neighbours did, that he drank all day to keep a low-level buzz until the evening, which is when he'd really start knocking it back. While he had a kind of Benny Hill lewdness about women, that stuff would have been over my head at the time, and besides, he was always perfectly well-behaved with us kids.

Once he showed me and a friend an old scrapbook of newspaper clippings, and told us about travelling around Europe in the 1930s in a circus caravan. There was an old photograph of him in his face paint. In those days he was in a clown/straight-man act. You know, the clown behaves outrageously and the straight-man is his foil. He and his straight-man buddy had an act where one of them would dress up like Hitler and they'd mock his mannerisms, all very amusing.

A few years before the war broke out, they performed this for the first time in Germany. Half-way through this Hitler sketch, the music suddenly stopped and they were marched off stage. The crowd was hurried out and the circus cancelled. He said that they were given three hours to get the entire troupe out of Germany or they'd all face indefinite imprisonment. They scrambled to pack up their paraphernalia. Two hours later, they were on the last train out that night, fleeing the country with half of the circus gear left behind. "They wanted us out!" he said. "Can you imagine it? On a train in the middle of the night? Get out now or jail for you? No sense of humour, those Germans. Or Hitler, anyway."

Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes?

Many years ago, this Kurt Vonnegut piece appeared in Harper's. I cut it out and photocopied it, and have put it up on my cubicle wall at all of my soul-sucking corporate whore jobs. You know, for perspective.

Reprinted here without permission, because I'm an outlaw?

Technology and Me
I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I'd never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil. Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, "Are you still doing typing?" Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, "Okay, I'll send you the pages." Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, "Where are you going?" "Well," I say, "I'm going to buy an envelope." And she says, "You're not a poor man. Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes? They'll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet." And I say "Hush." So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I'm secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I've had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.

From an interview with Kurt Vonnegut in the November 1995 issue of Inc. Technology. Vonnegut was asked to discuss his feelings about living in an increasingly computerized world.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

you've created a monster

Thanks to this guy (whose art I'm quite smitten with) and his post about using Google Analytics, I thought I'd use it on my thingy here too.

So now I know that I had a reader from Espoo, Finland. And Reykjavik, Iceland. (IS THAT YOU BJORK?!?!?!?!!?) And there were TWO from Tucson. One from Rosario, Argentina. And one from Slovenia. Hello!

See, I always figured only family and friends would read this. It's shocking, frankly, to discover otherwise.

mixed messages

You come here for love, and I seem to want you here, but I send you away. I'm sorry for the mixed messages. It's just that I found this most fantastic video of Japanese girls chanting while doing aerobics and also acting out being assaulted, and you should go watch it (at I think they're right. It DOES actually defy description.

Monday, November 06, 2006

wretched stinkpot of disease and filth

Sorry, these old emails are a gold mine.

Words of explanation required for 1997 email posted below:

My sister (aka Goose) was living in Montreal.

I was living in Vancouver.

Jake and Sophie were our family poodles, and by "poodles", I mean "poodles".

Date: Fri, 4 Apr 1997 13:52:23 -0500 (EST)
From: Goose
To: Roo
Subject: yay

today is a happy day
for mr. maille decided to sign all of the forms to sublet my house!!!

Here is a list of reasons for joy!

1-sublet signed...sealed
2-one week left in montreal (or at least in this stinky apartment (pizza))
3-spring is joyous
4-I can count the assignments left to do on my right hand (4)
5-I can count the assignments left to do on my left hand (4)
6-Jake is cute
7-the sun is shining
8-Sophie is cute
11-Glad glad glad!!!

i will only make a very short list of bad things:
1-my kitchen is a bloody awful mess
2-my bathroom is a retched stinkpot of disease and filth
3-my main room is a god forsaken zone of apocalyptic chaos and trash
4-my orange bike has a popped tire

okay, there, i fulfilled my daily craving for listmaking.
and I am off to pack some boxes. love from goose!!!!!!!!!

my knees remind me of my elbows

It's probably just pharmaceutical scammer bots crawling the web for medication names, but it seems the #1 hit for me (in terms of "people" googling and finding me) is my post on apo-metronidazole.

(Either that, or there are a lot of you out there looking for the kind of high that will make you feel crappy, and make everything you eat taste like you're chewing on a tailpipe?)

Anyway, if you're sick of reading about antibiotics or my old emails, go check out my friend Kenji's comic:

Updated every Wednesday.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"Love, I come!", or, 1994: the dawn of my relationship with email

I just found this "floppy disk" with my old emails from 1994 to 1997 on it. Yes.

A selection:


Date: Wed, 7 Dec 1994 12:55:17 -0800 (PST)
From: monika
To: roo
Subject: about lemurs

oddly enough, on the topic of lemurs, i just subscribed to lemur fan newsgroup and there are people in this world who have a lemur conference every year. maybe i will go this year and meet all the friendly lemurs currently residing in north carolina (that's where the conference is)

this internet thing is just making me tickle myself in all sorts of private places. i want a modem a good computer adn i would be hooke dup day and night. dear god, the computer age is coming and i want a piece of it!!!

love monks

Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 23:19:31 -0600 (CST)
From: "Mike"
Subject: the drunken politician weeps upon the streets

i have had a long day today. i went to this seminar by this relatively famous guy and while it was pretty good, my reaction to him was the same as my reaction to all relatively famous guys: what a bloody narcissist. i wonder why narcissism looks so unbecoming on *other* people. and these people that think they've figured it all out (he, by the way, thinks he knows what all the determinants of health are and how to go about making healthy people) they're just saying, in their own idiosyncratic, selective way, what people have always recognized. they just think it sounds better than what people were saying 4000 years ago because it's their own voice saying it. and the audience likes their story because they're charismatic, you know, their voice sounds good and their hair is right.

so it's all the same old news.

did i mention that i bought a book on physical examination today? i have to admit i feel tempted to linger over the pages that outline speculum insertion. why are the pictures black and white?

From Fri Apr 12 23:22:17 1996
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996 23:22:15 -0700 (PDT)
To: Adam
Subject: dubious coherency and relation

i suppose you will not get this note until monday, since you non-students enjoy the life of leisure which includes weekends where you can just fuck off and eat shit. i am finishing up my last paper and reading the crazed political treatises of ayatollah khomeini and sipping vermouth.

anyway, everyone around me is getting laid these days except me and as usual i have four hundred crushes but they are all on stupid people, like the hot waiter at the fringe cafe who flirts outrageously with me etc. so another spate of abstinence,
here i come. (not literally, of course.)

which reminds me of a famous passage in that poem by christopher marlowe:

"And with that he stripped him to the ivory skin/
and crying "Love, I come!" leapt lively in."

the guy is talking about going swimming, but is it a good double entendre, don't you think?

love from roo

Saturday, November 04, 2006

big plans with my pal Mike

Me: This dinner you invited me to, who am I going to be meeting? What should I wear?

Mike: Well, Dave will be in fleece pants or something, and probably scratching his balls, and Steve WILL be wearing plaid and stink, and who knows what the French guys will be wearing. So basically, I dunno. Look hot.



This doesn't count as my post for today, more later. But this woman created this cool little thing to randomly teleport you to different NaBloPoMo blogs, and I had to get it up.

I have been trying to randomly select from the list on Fussy, but I've discovered that names and URLs rarely indicate anything about whether the associated blog will go out dancing like a total wacko with you, nibble your ear in just the way you like, or thoughtfully challenge those silly ideas you've been carrying around for so long, (hey, different things sing to different people!) so this is a really neat way to flip around the channels and hear some new voices.

Try it yerself, punk!

Friday, November 03, 2006

go watch this

I found it posted here, and it is one of the best South Park YouTube clips I've seen in a LONG time.

tumbling home and packing heat

Today's post is about canoes and guns.

The part of a canoe that curves inward at the top into the gunwales (pronounced, as you probably know, "gunnels") is called the tumblehome. Some canoes have tumblehome, and others don't.

Whitewater canoes usually have a little more tumblehome, so you can hold the boat more aggressively on its sides (called "edging") without too much water splashing in. It's also handy for solo flat water paddling, because the best way to paddle solo is with the boat "heeled" on one side.

If you are not comfortable in canoes, edging or heeling will freak you out. It will feel like driving into oncoming traffic, or like walking a cliff edge unroped, or like meeting people on the internet.

The gunwales were added to boats at some point for structural stability and to help "accommodate the stresses imposed by the use of artillery". I rarely bring artillery on my canoe trips. OK, never. Why? Because I'm Canadian for God's sake. We don't even lock our doors here. Come on in! I just put some coffee on. Want my DVD player?

On our kayaking trip this summer, we ended up hanging out with some really friendlyseiners in Tenakee Springs, Alaska. Kayaks don't have gunwales because they have a closed deck. Seining boats do have gunwales though. And sometimes seiners have artillery. We learned this when we went for a stroll with one of the boys, and we stopped on this bridge to look at some grizzlies feeding on salmon in the river, and one of the guys handed my friend his gun.

"Here, hold this while I take some pictures."

(Thank you to Michelle, who took this picture of our surprised friend milliseconds after he was handed the gun.)

To Americans, this might seem like no big deal. But to us, this was shocking, quietly hilarious, and another sign that we weren't in Canada-ansas anymore. (My friend has hunted before, but no one we know carries anything that might be considered for personal defence.) We wondered why this guy had brought this gun, wondered if he thought it might be useful against a charging grizzly bear. (Lewis and Clark say "um, no".)

Then we considered his circumstances. Living on a fishing boat. For months. With five other guys. Four days on, one day off. Days "on" typically 15-20 hour days. Days "off", everyone gets recklessly hosed on shore and fist fights often break out, sometimes between ship mates, sometimes between boat crews. The four women on our trip (we are all adorable) could SMELL their testosterone from shore, and when the seiner "party" started on their day "off", we kept close to our male buddies and faked that we were all couples.

When one guy started a bonfire - a few feet from our tents - by tearing apart a nearby shack and dousing it with gallons of diesel fuel, and a couple of guys beat each other bloody over whose turn it was to use the pay phone, dude's gun almost made sense.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

the well is deep

A few days ago I was speaking with my friend Little Rock Arkansas. She works in war zones and stuff and is totally amazing.

Her work is hard and heavy on the heart, and even though I don't work or live in war zones my pretty good life sometimes totally bites, so when we talk on the phone, we are our silliest: stupid voices, hysteria, cackling.

Last weekend we were reminiscing about bad dates we'd been on and she urged me to write about this one. (The "Bad Date Story Well" is deep and dark, my friends.)

Rocky baby, this one's for you:

So, many months ago, there was this guy online. He was HANDSOME (by which I mean, attractive). He was FIT (by which I mean, athletic). He was SUCCESSFUL (by which I mean, not living in his parents' basement). He was a CANOER! He knew HOW TO DRESS! Check! Check! Check! Check! Check!

(I don't really have a checklist, I'm just expressing enthusiasm for these qualities.)

Anyway, we correspond. He's taking some time off work, he says, to train a bit, and to invest more time in his personal life. He makes it sound like he's taking a vacation from his business life because he's been so successful that he can afford it, and that he just values taking time to be active, travel, and hang with friends.

First clue that he's likely not the guy for me: he suggests we meet for a drink at a super cheesey yuppie martini bar. It's not even a pretentious-hip bar, (which can fun if you're in the mood, looking hot in those boots, and heading there with your least reverent friends). This place is wanna-be hip, (which means over-attentive waiters, a sneering hostess, tables that aren't quite clean, food that embeds its scent in your clothes even when it is served to a group 20 feet away).

But he's going to be handsome! fit! successful! (AND I wildly imagine: hilarious! warm! might like banjo AND electronica (not together)! knows how to fix stuff! well-read! left in his politics but fiscally responsible!) and so I put on that V-neck cashmere sweater and those hot boots and brush my teeth. I am excited. I am anxious. I am thinking:

"I better be on my best behaviour. I will probably have to be my most clever, my most alert, my most relaxed and confident, my most fun. Shit, I must stop being so self-conscious. Shit, I hope he doesn't want to discuss Turkey joining the EU. But I could probably do the Liberal Leadership race. Definitely could talk about the pesticide ban, or South American literature, or religious fundamentalism. See? That's not bad. Shit. How pathetic. Get a grip."

Anyway, I get there, and spot him almost immediately at the bar.

Thought #1: So that's why all your profile pictures are taken from the left.

Thought #2: Are you wearing a Christmas Sweater?

Thought #3: Oh thank God, no, it's not. But close.

Thought #6
(#4 and #5 were spent remembering how to greet someone politely): Wow, you talk JUST LIKE CAROL CHANNING. With an up-voice.

(Photo borrowed from here.)

So Mr. Handsome spends the first fifteen minutes talking. Non-stop. And he says (and try to hear a kind of masculine, toothy, spittley, run-on Carol Channing kind of "up-voice" in your head as you read this):

"So I'm not working right now. Yeah. Well see the thing is, I was having lots of ideas? So many ideas that my head started to hurt? Like, I started to get these headaches. So I don't really have a lot of energy. But I'm into dating? Like, it's fun to hang out! So I'm on quite a few drugs right now, that really helps, but I'm kind of in this haze? This emotional haze? So I can't really connect? But I'm totally into dating."

Thought #18: Uhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

(Thoughts #7 through #17 were spent selecting a glass of wine and calculating the pros and cons of downing that glass, along the lines of: CON, I'll have to wait an hour to drive and that might prolong things, whereas PRO, downing that glass might help me survive the minimum 30 minutes that this is going to take if I stay.)

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not actually a huge bitch, and I could see that this fellow was, under all that crazy, actually pretty sweet. I have lots of friends who are or were on medication for mood disorders, depression, etc. and have no problem with this. I support this. I am no Tom Cruise.

But dude? Maybe you aren't ready to be dating just yet.

And me? Maybe I have to talk on the phone with these guys first.*

And Rock? Maybe you need to get out of that warzone for a while so I can do these voices for you in person.

*As a sarcastic friend drily observed at the time: "And really, who's worth cashmere on the first date? Almost nobody."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

game on!

OK here we go. NaBloPoMo! (Thank you for organizing the month-long masochism, Mrs. Kennedy!)

To start cheap, I’ll begin by revealing to the ether my ONE good/pathetic Halloween costume idea, so that I can finally stop telling new friends about it every year and pretending I'd just thought of it.

(If you're a friend of mine, I can already hear the groaning, so save it, mofo!)

That would be "The Pervert". The idea is to take the classic "Flasher" costume (trench coat, mid-calf nylon dress socks, beat-up black leather Reeboks*, etc), and take it up a notch by adding hair on the palms.

Get it?

Get it?

Get it now?

Sigh. Yup, that's my big idea.

I suppose another visual cue might have been, say, a sack of dead kittens, but that joke is soooooo 2002.

I thought about adding to the costume by making "The Pervert" blind (you know, to keep with the theme of "if you keep touching yourself, then [insert hideous consequence here]", but being blind is inconsistent with the flasher/pervert’s M.O., which is to see people's reactions, and know that people see them, and then beat a fast retreat from the authorities with a dizzying adrenaline rush and turgid genitals.

On a sort of related note, when I went to UBC, I used to occasionally study for class at this clothing-optional beach (right off campus).

(Picture from Wikipedia. Thanks!)

It was usually deserted during the school year because it was just too cold outside to be naked, so it made for a beautiful and quiet place to hang out and go through my Classical Arabic verb declensions. (Don’t ask.) So I was down there studying with a friend one warmish day in spring when an average sort of fellow strolled past, wearing a jean jacket, sunglasses, a sunhat, and sneakers.

And nothing else.

So he walked by us, and that would have been fine – you know, cause for a few quiet snickers between girl friends – except he stopped about 50 meters down from where we were sitting, and started an activity that I guess you could euphemistically say made us want to go blind. Because he was wearing sunglasses, it was hard to tell if he was looking out to sea or at us (both sexily clad in bulky fleeces, baggy worker jeans, and hiking boots, how could he not have been intensely aroused).

Nothing came of it (HA! HA! haaaaaaaaaa), at least as far as we know, because we refused to look at him once we realized what he was up to – in fact pretended we’d not noticed at all. But I did lean across to my friend and whisper quietly: "He’s thinking about you."

*not sure why, but I’m pretty sure these are the #1 choice for pervs to shod their hooves with