Tag Archives: humor

Weird Foods

Okay, everyone probably has their weird concoctions or Dagwood sandwiches that they used to make. Unusual combinations put together or some bizarre family recipe that others looked at like it would crawl off the plate and bite. Sometimes you could pull someone over to your side, and introduce them to the delights of strange delicacies.

I’ve already talked about some of my gross childhood foods. Well, there were other foods that were a bit of a mystery why we liked them, or even why we would eat them. Probably the oddest was “Beans I Like.” Yes indeed; that is what we called this culinary delight. Here are the three ingredients to this uh…unique vision of nutrition. Lima beans, watery tomato soup, wieners. That’s it. We seemed to like it too, from the name. But all I can surmise is that compared to those mushy frozen vegetables that I mentioned in gross foods, these were heaven. I don’t understand it either.

Then there was Velveeta Cheese and its creamier cousin, Cheeze Whiz. Cheeze Whiz could at least be scooped onto celery or crackers but Velveeta was the closest thing to eating plastic that ever existed in a pseudo cheese. I mean really, what was in that stuff? Granted they make cheddars in bright orange and Velveeta tried to mimic that, but it was molded into these thin plasticky pieces of milk product. Of course, kids love crap and that was a parent sanctioned piece o’ crap. Sure these “foods” still exist but I think I’d rather eat a leather shoe and probably get more nutrition though I did love those Velveeta days for grilled cheese sandwiches.

A somewhat odd food I was introduced to by a boyfriend was radish sandwiches. You take bread of your choice, smother it in butter, slice a lot of radishes, stack them in, salt and pepper them, and voila. An interesting vegetarian sandwich, which could be  a challenge to eat with little disks of radish slipping left and right, yet there was something good and crunchy about it.

When I used to eat hot dogs, or for that matter some sandwiches, I would toss a lot of potato chips into the bun/bread. Like I mentioned in Gross Foods of Childhood, I don’t really like mushy textures and I do like crunchy. It added another dimension of crunchy if unwholesome goodness. I’m not beyond the potato chip trick now, should I have potato chips and bread hanging about.

That really is it for the memorably weird foods of the past. There were truly good foods and the truly gruesome. One I didn’t mention before was those Jello molds with little bits of canned fruit and marshmallows in them. I know that during the War people didn’t always get fresh fruit in the days before massive shipping by every route possible, so canned fruit was sometimes a treasured treat. It falls into that mushy fruit category to me. Pineapple, not too bad. Peaches, meh. Pears…pallid corpselike mounds with no flavor. (shudder) And then in some ponderously jiggling, translucent green or orange blob reminiscent of a bad scifi B movie. Even as a kid I found that hideous and nightmarish beyond belief. No wonder I started writing speculative fiction.

It didn’t help that I ended up in the hospital at one point and was fed nothing but Jello, apple juice and consomme soup. Guess what I hate to this day? And Jello shooters (vodka used as the liquid when making Jello), please, just give me the straight vodka.

I was one of those odd kids that loved the crust on bread and always wanted the end piece (chewy) and liked what we then called brown bread, the pre-cursor to whole wheat bread. Though I do remember taking bread and compressing it (sans crust) into a dense dough ball to eat.

My family was probably a typical, whitebread Canadian family. Nothing to adventuresome except for once in a while when my mother brought home fresh crab or a coconut. Other than that, short ribs, pork chops, roast, hamburger, wieners, (tongue!), liver, fish and chips, maybe salmon, meatloaf, etc. were the common fair. Ah, those good ole days. When it comes to food it’s only my mother’s baking that was truly wonderful. The rest is happily relegated to memory.

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The Gross Foods of Childhood

I’m sure I was like any kid and was given foods that were probably good for me but were too gross to consume. Some were the bane of every child, like liver. A strangely dark meat resembling shoe leather, tasting like congealed blood and smothered in onions left an indelible print on my memories. But it wasn’t the only organ meat that my mother tried to make us consume.

Beef tongue--Blech!

Tongue was fairly common and I imagine cheap enough for a family with four kids and not a lot of money. Boiled in a pot, my mother would then make soup of the stock and slap that giant cow tongue on a plate, looking like a…giant tongue. She would peel back the outer layer of taste buds and then slice the tongue into little roundels. It had a texture unlike any other meat I’ve ever tasted. Light, sort of airy, long fibers like muscle but different. It wasn’t too bad, actually, but it grossed me out. I got so that I would only have the soup that had macaroni shells and veggies in it.

Organ meats were firmly marked in my book as disgusting: tripe, heart, kidney, haggis, tongue, brain, prairie oysters, pope’s nose (turkey bums), blood sausage, all of those meats still rank number one on my grossometer. My mother did try heart once but somehow, accidentally…we let it burn. Saved from the brutal tortures of organ meats.

gross foods, eating, tongue, frozen vegetables, cooking, childhood
Only second to tongue in grossness. Creative Commons: stevendepolo Flickr

And on the top of veggies, there were a few gross ones there too. Not the turnip that most kids sneer at. That might have been refreshing. And we didn’t have Brussels sprouts too often, which one of my boyfriends used to call budgie heads. No, the absolutely most disgusting vegetables known to my youth were…frozen vegetables! Yes, those bags of little sliced up peas and carrots with an errant green (but really sorta gray) bean. These were boiled to a texture resembling pudding and heaped on the plate every night. I would gag over these repulsive, maggoty soft things. In fact to this day I don’t like soft textures in food and I think I just realized why. I guess I’m lucky we never had canned vegetables.

Of course I lived in a landlocked area that had real winter and in those days, fresh vegetables in the winter consisted of potatoes, carrots, celery and a few root vegetables. My mother was big on making things from scratch but not when it came to veggies. I would take those disgusting peas and carrots (the corn mix was pretty rare) and try to hide them in the husk of a hollowed out baked potato. Sometimes that didn’t work. One night I took a piece of bread, buttered it, slapped those degenerate suckers onto the bread and poured gravy over them, and ate it all like a sloppy joe. And guess what? My mother got mad at me. I still don’t know why but I should have been congratulated for my ingenuity.

Not all foods fell into the realm of nasty meats and slimy vegetables though. I also disliked malted balls, you know those balls covered in chocolate. I have no idea why but there was something in the taste that I didn’t like. I seemed to grow out of that around twelve though. I also never liked milk and would add the choco powder to try to get it down. And milk on cereal: there was that extremely mushy slimy texture again. The only two cereals I could stand were puffed wheat because it didn’t get too soft, and shredded wheat (the big ones) if I ate them quickly.

I feel pretty much the same about organ meats and half-dead veggies to this day and prefer my vegetables fresh and crunchy. I’m sure other childhood foods may come to the surface like a skin on steamed milk, but for now, that’s enough to dampen any appetite.

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Movie Review: Zombieland

Finding an interesting movie in the month or so before holiday season releases can be a bit of a challenge. I saw 9 a week ago and being the science fictional gal I am, when fellow writer Rhea Rose wanted to see a movie, we got it down to Where the Wild Things Are and Zombieland. For whatever reason, I decided that I’d rather see Zombieland.

We went to Silver City in Coquitlam, one of the most stupidly designed theaters, as parking lots go. It’s like a maze and some rows blocked so you have to backtrack or cross over the road that cars enter from, to get to the other side. This inefficient design takes up space that could have been used for parking. Let me tell you, if you had to run over zombies, you’d never get up enough speed and they’d take you down for sure. So stay out of badly designed movie parking lots.

Now the movie, which has a brilliant opener, with the narrator, who we don’t know quite yet, and slo-mo pastiches of people turning zombie and chomping on their friends and family. First there was mad cow, then mad people, then mad zombie, and so it began, spreading across the country and maybe the world. But for this movie it is in the ole U.S. of A and there is no saving the country because it’s too late (so much for flu preparedness). In fact, so destroyed by zombies is it that there are few people left alive and one is our narrator, a young, geeky college guy with few social skills and a lot of neurosis, including irritable bowel syndrome (probably from those pizza and Mountain Dew he lives  on.) He is known as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), an unlikely survivor of the zombie apocalypse, partly because of his fastidious rules, (always wear a seatbelt, check the back seat, double tap, etc.) which are often demonstrated in other zombie encountering clashes.

He meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a lean, mean, zombie killing machine who has two goals in a world depleted of humanity: to kill zombies and find a Twinkie, which, he says, has an expiration date despite popular belief.  Tallahassee names Columbus and then two others they meet, the femme fatale Wichita (Emma Stone) and her little sister,  Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Why they have these names and don’t just say I’m Sarah, I’m Fred, is never explained. I mean, it’s not like they have to hide their identities in a world lacking humans, law and order. But that’s just one of the many thin patches on this barely held-together plot. Columbus is looking for…who knows but he’s like every person, trying to stay alive, despite the odds. Wichita and Little Rock are trying to get to the West Coast to the mythical Playland, which is supposed to be free of zombies.

Who told these people about this zombie free land? After all, there’s no one left to spread a rumor. Not that the zombies would encourage the meat to get away. Oh and the zombies. Well they are the most wholesome zombies I’ve ever seen. By wholesome I mean they seem to have all their limbs and haven’t been chawed apart, except for that initial chomp. But then as the zombie virus spreads it seems they all get bruised looking eyes, blood and gore on their faces and they spit blackish or green gorp from their mouths, which might be blood or rotting guts or who knows. Now these zombies aren’t the shambling creatures of other movies. They’re fast and can run (the fatties went first, says Columbus. Rule #1 is cardio.) and they seem to think to a degree, like wily animals, being able to smash in windows. But at other times they shamble, heads askew, wrists limp, legs at odd angles. I’m not sure why.

The zombies are also attracted to bright lights and sound and of course they want fresh meat. But with so few bodies around (a lack of extras or money for special effects), I wonder how it’s much of a problem to avoid them. And what do they eat if they’ve eaten all of the living? Well, one scene shows a zombie chomping on her “manwich” and drinking the marrow from his bones. If that’s the case, it seems that when all of the humans were gone and only zombies were left they’d turn on each other, but instead there are numbers of them waiting to congregate on our unsuspecting heroes.

When there are cars and keys  and homes with food, plus stores abounding, why is it that Little Rock and Wichita have to steal a car from Columbus and Tallahassee? If they’ve survived this long, they should be able to figure out how to get a free car, not to mention,outwitting mindless zombies would be harder than two men. So this unlikely plot thread throws our four nuts together. Columbus has feelings for Wichita which she rejects at first, but Tallahassee is older and weird. And Columbus really has no choice, if Wichita is the last woman alive (her sister being too young). Boy meets girl with a tag along “uncle” and sister in a land of zombies. Hmmm.

SPOILER ALERT. There is a gratuitous Bill Murray scene, which has the least well-planned out skit of the movie. Another rule: don’t dress up as a zombie if you’re not and try to scare people used to shooting zombies. All I can figure is that either Bill Murray put money behind this movie or they asked to use his house and he said sure, but I get a cameo. Of course, he is a legendary comic too.

This plot was very very thin, to the point that we came out of the movie going errr, where was the plot, but it was funny. And that’s just it. The one liners and the hilarious skits are timed very well and the actors all hold their own. Overall it’s a vehicle for Harrelson and we agreed he actually looked pretty good all buffed up. The unlikely teamup of the anal-retentive geek and the hard-edged badass work well and the pacing is good for this rather short movie. How long can you stretch out a zombie-chasing-human story anyways? I would give this a 6 out of 10 for the lameass zombies and gore, and the lacklustre plot, but the humor and the comedy hold this together and had us laughing out loud. So I’ll give it a 7  6.5 because of the good acting and the funny skits along the way to who knows where. The motto could be, family is who you pick.

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How to Date

This is a summation of some aspects of dating profiles that I’ve seen. I’ve tried dating sites and I understand that it’s hard to sound interesting, well-rounded and like a particularly unique individual. But there are some things that will deter men or women from having anything to do with you depending on what your profile says.

  • Try updating those pics, and making sure you have a range of clear ones that show you as you are now, not when you were in high school, twenty pounds lighter or you only dressed as Count Dracula.
  • This also means don’t put pictures of movie stars or models up on your page. Unless you only ever want a virtual relationship you will be discovered the first time you meet your date if he or she even recognizes you.
  • Be honest. Saying you’re completely active and bungee jump every weekend, or like to be a couch potato all of the time is only good if that’s what the person is looking for. Duping them into one date might be how you get your jollies but it won’t help for a repeat performance.
  • Don’t say, “I like romantic, candlelit dinners and walks on the beach.” It’s been used so often no one believes it, like those bad chick flicks. You may very well like these things but say it in your own words.
  • Don’t say things because you think the gals (or guys) will like it.
  • If you’re looking for sex for the night, then make sure you’re in the correct area or section. Don’t troll the dating and long term relationship sections.
  • Don’t chat someone up, ask if they’d like to meet for a drink and when they say yes, you don’t answer. In fact, be honest. Say (nicely), sorry I’ve changed my mind. Most people can handle that.
  • Don’t lead people on. Seriously. If you’re such a social misfit that this is the only thing you like to do and you find it funny, then I’m just happy you’re not getting closer to potential dates.
  • Spellcheck your profile information. You may suck as a speller. You may have a learning disability. That’s okay; that’s why God and Gates invented spellcheckers. Use them to make your words readable. Likewise, if English is your second language, get a friend to proofread for you. Spelling is not a sign of intelligence, but some people will equate it that way.
  • Don’t leave a blank profile, or no pictures and then ask others for pictures or to chat when they know nothing about you. I’m not interested in chatting up someone I can’t see and could be 12.
  • Watch the sarcasm. It may come across well in a group of people but on a dating profile it can come across as bitter. Save it until you get to know the person or be really obvious, such as saying, “That was a joke.”
  • Don’t be rude, condescending, antagonistic, bigoted or angry. Save those for your blog. You can rant there, but if you want to meet people, it’s the best foot, face and words forward.
  • Try to be original. In fact, I’ve read many wonderful and original profiles. People are individuals. No two are alike. The picture and the words are the first step. If someone likes what they see, they may be willing to take the next step and talk to you. But you have to be accessible.
  • Don’t say that looks don’t matter (or activity level) and when you go on a date you tell the person they’re not active enough. Again, be honest in what you really want. For most of us, looks do count to some degree.

So that’s it, a few tips that can make a difference between garnering dates and a howling wasteland. People don’t want games so don’t play them. Don’t lie. Be honest. Stick to your commitments or communicate and say no thanks.

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Little Words and Zed

I’ve worked many years as a copy editor and have a fairly good memory for spelling. It’s amazing really that we ever standardized the English language, if you take into account that there’s British English (BE), American English (AE) and the bastard child of both, Canadian English (CE). AE and CE say “synchronize” instead of “synchronise”, but BE and CE say “neighbour” instead of “neighbor” and “travelled” instead of “traveled.” There are a few other odd words such as “jewellery” vs “jewelry.” But mostly we can understand each other even if Canadians say “zed” and Americans, “zee.” I’m an adamant proponent of continuing the “zed” pronunciation (being Canadian) and when some little tads corrected me with saying, “It’s zee.” I pretty much bit my lip and corrected them since they’re Canadian. Alas the invasion continues.

So, is it any wonder that there are so many misspelled words considering that Shakespear spelled his name so many different ways? Of course ,a lot of this had to to with relative illiteracy of the era. If you didn’t write regularly, even if you knew the rudiments, you weren’t very likely to spell words correctly.

As an editor, sometimes words are so often misspelled the same way that I start to doubt my own senses and then I have to look up words that I know are spelled incorrectly. Here are a few words of the modern age that are misspelled frequently:

  • burgundy (not burgandy for color or wine)
  • indefinitely (not indefinately, received three times last week) if it’s not finite then it’s indefinite like infinity .
  • no one (not no-one nor noone; this might be different in England)
  • its (the most misused word ever: if it is blue, then it’s blue. If the ball belongs to it (the dog), then it (the ball) is its (the dog). Its ball rolled into traffic.
  • twenty, thirty-something (twenty-two not twenty two)
  • would of, could of: People say this: I could’ve gone to the store. (which should really just be “could have”) But because of the way we hear it, I’ve seen it spelled could of. Wrong wrong wrong. Could have. I’ve seen this in books, which tells me either the copy editor was inexperienced or the publisher didn’t have a copy editor.
  • yeah is an informal form of agreement (yes) and yay, which is a cheer: Yay! We win.

And then there are the similarly pronounced words that have different spellings and meanings, called homonyms. Some commonly misused ones are:

  • consul (a consul general or Canadian consul) and console (to sympathize with someone, or a panel or case that holds an item like electronics)
  • aisle (what is between two rows of bookshelves) and isle (where we all want to go for a tropical vacation)
  • altar (where we put our objects to worship) and alter (how we change our appearance to escape the law)
  • brooch (what you wear as a decoration) and broach (what you do when you want  to raise a subject)
  • complement (how many you have–a complement of soldiers) and compliment (to praise–my you look great in your uniform)
  • council (a group of people) and counsel (the adviser/counsellor you get when your marriage is on the rocks)
  • gorilla (these guys use bananas) and guerrilla (these guys use guns)

There are many homonyms and a very extensive list can be found here, even ones that I’ve never considered or known. http://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html

I find it particularly bad when I read books that have many misspellings but it all depends on how good the publishers are at maintaining quality and if they care. Many small publishing houses do not even have copy editors and depend on (demand) the authors proofread their work. Of course everyone should always do that and hand in relatively clean copies. Still, when you’re looking at a story over and over again you are bound to miss some of your own typos. A second set of eyes is always best.

I sometimes think the internet will work at crumbling the English language (maybe others too) as people abbreviate words down to essential letters. We tend to get lazy at writing, leaving off capitalization and punctuation. Part of the advent of computers for everyone meant that many people have them but probably not everyone learned to type. And like our signatures that get messier the more we write them, our grammar goes to pot on the internet.
But English is a living and therefore evolving language so maybe the misspellings will take over the more people use them. In the meantime, misuses and typos will continue to drive the editors of the world crazy.

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Internet & Sex & Voice

Has the internet changed since those early DOS days of looking for cheap sex and hot chat? I remember getting on to the great vast abyss of the internet. There I sat before my black screen, the neon green cursor blinking a way. Like shouting into a black tunnel, I would send questions out, hoping for an answer from the unknown universe of the internet, not yet called the world wide web.

There was little in the realm of urls. Locally, there was an ISP called Mindlink. It might have been the only one or one of very few at that point. When I joined up and went online to these groups, Mindlink would show the names of all the people online. Sometimes it was ten, sometimes twenty at a time. I joined a couple of chat groups and found that they often contained pedantic blowhards who shot down anyone talking about a subject. They were so obnoxious in trying to show their stellar intelligence that I left them to join Mindlink’s nonsense group.

When you signed up for thsi group you were asked for an alias. Once given, no one would ever see your real name unless you chose to reveal it. For whatever crazy reason, I chose the moniker Laughing Fist. There were others on the group like Feste and names I no longer remember. And true to the name of the group, we talked nonsense. Sometime puns, sometimes jokes, sometimes mad ramblings, but the group was created to counteract all those “serious” groups of know-it-alls.

Mindlink would hold meets where members could meet in a pub in public. My partner at the time had no interest in computers and internet and I really didn’t feel a need to go to the meet-ups. As I was trying to find information on subjects, mostly for writing, on the internet, I discovered that there were numerous chat rooms. A lot of those early groups had specific topics or the alt.groups. But sure enough, about 90% of them dealt with sex, maybe because 90% of people on the net were men and boys.

Mindlink had instant chat and whenever I signed on to the list, where everyone could see your name, I would get guys messaging me right away. Everyone could post a profile and I made it clear that if you asked me how old I was first, then you weren’t interested in chatting with me but just trying to date me. And then there were the guys who would ask if I was interested in hot chat. Basic talking dirty online. I wasn’t interested, have never really been interested. For one, I had no idea how old the person was or what he was like. For two, I’m a writer. I can write all sorts of stories. It might get them off but I’d only be practising my writing.

I also realized in the nonsense group where everyone had shortened my name to Fisty, that they thought I was a guy. Probably from the name and from the way I wrote. Once I realized that, I said nothing that would give away my gender. It was fairly easy and made me realize how much you can have a different personality on the internet. Unfortunately as internet use expanded, the stalkers and degenerates found it as a way to lure impressionable and gullible teenagers. I did eventually show up at a meet where everyone was surprised to find out Fisty was a girl.

I don’t go searching out the millions of sites on porn, and as search engines have become more sophisticated one is not as likely to stumble on porn, hot chat, or sex sites unless one wants to. So what percentage of the internet is taken up with sex? I’m sure there is someone out there adding up the googling and could tell us…maybe. But I think even looking at WordPress and my blog gives an idea. I write on a range of topics but some of the ones that get the most hits are the ones about sex, genitals, prostitutes.

We think that humans are more advanced or far above our animal brethren but we forget we are run by the same instincts as they are: the need to procreate. Of course, we have gone further in eroticizing many aspects, making some good and wholesome, some naughty, dirty or downright perverse. We have cultural conventions and moires that animals don’t have. So in essence we have complicated sex, but people still think about it a lot. Whether we’re curious, or appalled or turned on, many still want to read about it.

I think the internet may be broader and more far reaching from those early days of hot chat but I’m not sure by how much. And look at how far we’ve come in less than twenty years. We have way more pictures. 🙂

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Internet: Rudiments of Courtesy and Respect

I have been on the internet since it was DOS, a big black screen with glowing green text. The early chat rooms and newsgroups were full of pedantic people trying to prove themselves in one way or another, from the spelling nazis to the socially insecure showing their scintillating intelligence and argumentative nature. In the new newsgroups, there are often rules against correcting someone’s typos but you can still get the know-it-alls. You also get the people who have to air their grievances against another for one and all to suffer through.

We live in a modern age of computers and instant messages. Before those came along there were phones and letters. Before that era, there were letters and pigeons. Before that, and during, there were riders on horses. Communications could always fall into the wrong hands, or not get through, or your courier be killed…if it was really important and political.

Some of our view of courtesy comes from the Victorian era but even before that, through much of the middle ages there were such things as courtly behaviour. Nobles and the higher echelon, even the peasantry, showed respect. Sure, rumours existed but they were and have always been perpetuated by people talking about the subject behind the subject’s back and never addressing the issue directly. Should one noble to the other have something particularly vicious to say, probably couched in witty ways, it was usually done face to face, because the fewer witnesses the better to deny it ever happened.

To call one out, especially one of any noble lineage was tantamount to a duel or a war, or maybe an assassination. Words had power, have always had power. Words can slander, can give respect, can color one’s view. But even as much as words reflect on the subject, they also reflect on the speaker.

No matter how wronged a person is, or how justified they may be in speaking of the scurrilous things people have done to them, when even the injured get on the soapbox it most often is not pretty. Be careful who you paint with that brush for the paint can spatter on you. I have seen this over and over, and used it as a good lesson. When the wronged one starts pointing a finger back
and getting to name calling, that person too loses credence. Sometimes turning the other cheek is the best policy.

To air one’s laundry, whether yours or the pilfered goods of the “other”, it is still airing your laundry in public. It is a tactic that holds the public hostage to a viewing whether they want it or not. It is a tactic that one does to shame the other. It is a tactic that shows the one who airs as callous, mean, little and low class. It is a tactic meant to anger and to justify one’s own behavior. And it is always lowly done and not of the noblest of intentions.

Here are a few rules by which I judge if there is courtesy and respect. I try to use these. Discussing is one thing but belittling or berating others is not acceptable.

1. If you have nothing nice to say, shut up.
2. If you hate someone, tell them personally. We don’t want to know.
3. If you want to be Machiavellian and stir the pot, well then you really think
you’re so witty that no one is catching on as you sit back and lick your paws.
You’ll believe yourself superior, but it’s not very noble either.
4. If you have to show off your intelligence and superior knowledge in a
pedantic manner, then you’re not very secure and it shows.
5. If you have to whine about how much you did and that no one ever notices or
wants you, then no matter your position you’re not doing this for noble means and
maybe there’s another reason no one wants you.
6. If you make yourself a martyr and make sure everyone knows, then expect to
be used that way and not to get sainthood at the end.
7. If you’re getting so out of hand in your vitriol that someone has to smack
your hand, well then maybe it’s time to go to mommy until you grow up.
8. If you can’t be constructive, or don’t know the facts, shut up.

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Genital Fads

Because it’s looking like spring (at least here in the Pacific Northwest) and little shoots are poking through the ground, and the big VD just happened (that’s Valentine’s Day not venereal disease though they do have a relation), I remembered a conversation with a friend last fall.

We were at the World Fantasy Convention, in the art show. There were some dark, moody-broody pictures involving nudes. After my friend looked at one, she said to me, “I noticed that the woman in that photo had her genital area shaved. Am I way behind the boat here? Is this something that people are doing now?”

And I enlightened her that it is in fact a fad these days for men and women to be hairless. Women already have shaved underarms and legs for years. Now they may have their pubic patch trimmed or taken away completely, commonly called a Brazilian. Men have also been getting waxed of recent years, from back and butts, to chests and genitals. Some of them shave the genital area or go in to see an aesthetician to have as one friend referred to it, a crack and sack hair removal.

It’s been common in the Middle East for hundreds of years, yet in Italy of the last century a woman with hairless legs were considered to be tarty or ladies of the night. But this modern age is not the first time that people have applied fashion trends to their genitals.

If we go back in time there were ribbons applied to pubic curls in the 17th century. Known as a merkin, men or women would adorn these pubic wigs to either disguise the syphilitic ravages to their flesh, to discourage vermin (having shaved the region) or because people found a dense bush more sexually appealing. Some extravagances involved crimping the pubic hairs, adding ribbons, jewels or flowers. Quite a treasure trove for the exploring Don Juan.

Adornment hasn’t just happened to the pubic hair but to the flesh as well. There have been an abundance of piercings for men and women, some being ornamental, others religious, others for sexual enhancement. These have been done for centuries in some Asian and African countries and are popular in some aspects of North American and European culture.

Clothing has also been worn at different times to enhance the genital area (besides the merkin). These have included extravagant codpieces from the German Landsknecht “slash and puff” clothing, through the Elizabethan and Tudor periods. As well, various tribes may have worn penis sheaths made from wood or gourds, such as the New Guinea koteka. Tattooing is also not new.

The fashion of making ourselves as hairless a possible will probably change in decades to come. Nothing is new and nothing is permanent. Whether we see these pubic fashions as awe inspiring, fashionable, sexy or ridiculous they too will change in time. Someone will come up with something new, maybe wearing airplane parts or hanging Christmas ornaments from their pubic regions. Who knows, you might be the first to have the newest undercover fad.

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Dating Site Pictures

So it’s just past that big day brought to you by Hallmark, florists and chocolate companies. I’ve never been big into it, single for a lot of it and find it contrived. On Saturday I bellydanced at a 50th birthday party, then stopped in the local watering hole for a drink or two before home. A woman was writing up a note to pass to a band member because she said she was there with her boyfriend, it was Valentine’s Day and he wouldn’t hold her hand. I kinda wondered if he knew he was supposed to and was thankful not to be in that boat.

But it got me thinking of the dating sites I’ve tried before (Okay Cupid, Plenty of  Fish, Lavalife) and the pictures men post. I wrote this up a while back but it’s still apropos to dating.

I have this word (many in fact) of advice for people:

  • Try updating those pics, or more likely your fashion sense. Giganto aviator glasses went out in the 70s or the latest, the 80s, and even if you were going to wear them, you’d need to have a way funkier wardrobe than is revealed by your pic.
  • And the moustache, gah! If you’re going to go with something that only cops wear you may as well go crazy and have handlebars on it or a Hitler style brushstroke.
  • Don’t stand like tweedle dee with your belly sticking out and your hands down by your sides. You look retarded.
  • Try getting a picture that is actually clear. A fuzzy pic in low light does you no justice. Unless you really want to defeat yourself at the dating thing before you start.
  • Having one eye doing something way weird from the other one makes you look like a psychopathic killer and although it may do to weed out the nonserious, it will also get rid of any sane thinking person too.
  • Putting a picture of a monkey, a horse, a tiger or any other wildlife is nice. But I don’t want to date them. And if I think you look like a tiger or a monkey’s ass I’m not going to want to date you either.
  • Likewise, lovely landscapes are nice but if I want to see them I’ll go for a walk. You are a landscape of flesh, eyes, nose, mouth. Show it.
  • Putting up your game geek pics (where you’re almost drooling, overly dishevelled, somewhat crazed looking) with words like “blank mindless stare” as the caption, well, hmm, you sound like too much of a winner for me.
  • Looking like you just puked over the side of the boat after downing a keg is not so attractive either.
  • Oh, and a picture of you covered in blood and gore (even if it is simulated) is just downright not gonna have me meeting you for a first date.
  • Pictures from South Park are original…for South Park. But not for you. Try your face. It’s unique.
  • A picture of your hand, or belly, or eyeball, or other lascivious body part, although of you does not tell me what you look like. And if I’m going to meet a stranger from online I want to at least know what you look like beforehand in case my body is never found. Oh, and silly me, I’m really not interested in what your dong looks like (unless it’s Adult Friend Finder where that’s what you’d expect).
  • Wearing your pagan/Dungeons and Dragons/Lord of the Rings robe for a picture might be something you wanna save until you get to know the person. Just listing you play RPGs or are a pagan should be enough.

Pictures in different types of clothes: sporty, tux, costume, can be okay as long as you show normal attire as well. Now, albeit there are some perfectly fine pics and you can enlighten with a caption. But trust me, one of the above with: “I’m a perfectly average chap,” or “I’m an outgoing guy who likes walks on the beach,” are just not going to cut it. If you go with the freakish pics, then you better be downright entertaining, erudite and interesting in your profile. Now if you don’t wanna date, no problem. I’m jes sayin’.

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UBC Engineer Pranksters to Pay the Price

Well, every year the engineers at UBC pull some sort of magical engineering feat and suspend or put a vehicle or some other object in an odd place. When one goes looking it’s hard to get an accurate list of what was done and where. Even the engineers’ own site lists little. This is probably because the admission of specific pranks could garner infamy and charges.

Over the years they have done a variety of pranks, the most enduring being suspending or placing a VW Bug somewhere off a bridge or the first time, on top of the Ladner clock tower on UBC grounds. Other Beetles have been suspended off the Lions Gate bridge and the Golden Gate bridge, bringing some international notoriety to the merry band of pranksters. The ‘geers feel a strong need to prove their engineering prowess but they received a failing mark for last week’s prank on the Ironworkers’ Memorial bridge in which they may have damaged the cables to the bridge and the car plunged into the drink.

The five culprits were arrested and released (a local catch and release program for engineers), could face charges of mischief over $5000 as well as discipline through the university. The other third of all these pranks is that usually they ask for a donation of $100-$1000 to a hospital or other cause, which, from what I can find, has never been paid by mayors or members of parliament. So, good harmless fun right? The other third is that often the “ornaments” are left blocking traffic or the removal of such blocks traffic and costs Vancouver a good chunk of money.

There have been other pranks. Supposedly they once put a giant engineer’s jacket on the Inukshuk near Stanley Park and it was filled with clothing for the homeless, or they made a giant sculpture of tin cans (with food in them) that then went to the food bank. I can’t find record of these two but after this botched attempt and perhaps a hefty bill to pay back to the city, engineers will try more socially responsible pranks.

There are others that may not disrupt traffic but cause anger or consternation, such as the theft of the Speakers’ chair from the legislature. If nothing else, these pranks do point out security issues. There is a wiki entry of some of the pranks, obviously written by engineers, replete with misspellings and purple narratives.

I remember one year when Sophie’s cafe on 4th Avenue in Kitsilano found the giant fork and knife that adorned the entry to their restaurant gone. It was accredited to the geers and the five-foot utensils were returned. Overall it wasn’t a technically hard mission. Someone loosened the bolts when inside the restaurant and then they just came back later and pulled them off of the outside wall. They’ve stolen the Rose Bow trophy from Washington U and the nine o’clock gun in Stanley Park. Always these items have been “found” by engineers and returned.

A rites of passage for upcoming graduates, the geers try to show their wit, creativity and prowess with such stunts. It would be nice if they now start putting a bit more thought into their antics and see if they can benefit some cause more than just asking for a ransom. After all, perhaps these pranks show the shortcomings of many engineered roadways and systems that often have great flaws in them. I think of our Alex Fraser bridge (yet to have a VW Beetle suspended from it) where three arteries lead to the main bridge and merge all at the same point, causing long traffic jams and slow moving traffic. Another piece of engineering brilliance. So I challenge the engineers to try and take their stunts to a new level and add some meat to the bones.

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