Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I looked at the book, and it was a brand spanking new Penguin edition. I was tempted. But it felt like such a cliche to buy that book in Indochina. So I passed. But I think I’ll always hear that young man’s voice saying “The Quiiiiet Americaaan by Mister Graham Greene”.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Whilst scaling and sweating and panting, I was passed by more than one fit, trim European who got to the top without even breathing hard. How I hated those people.
Monday, October 29, 2007
So I did get two books read while on vacation. I will strongly recommend Everything is Illuminated, mainly for the way it creatively demolishes the English language with such joy. One of the main characters, a Ukrainian tour guide/translator, is played by our man Eugene Hutz in the movie. I haven’t seen the movie but this didn’t stop me from picturing our Eugene in every scene. He’s a perfect fit for the part. This book even made me want to go to Ukraine. I’m not sure why since it makes Ukraine look like a complete rat-hole but it still made me curious about the place. Anyway, this book is very clever and wildly inventive, etc. etc. Read it.
I also got around to reading Fight Club. Should I talk about it or not talk about it? Must agree with Ms Mushrooms who said the movie was better. Indeed. I dunno if I would’ve liked the book better if I hadn’t known the twist from the beginning. Regardless of that, two things bothered me: 1) too many repetitive descriptions of the narrator’s face and how it is beaten to a pulp; and 2) too many descriptions of how to make a bomb and home-made nitroglycerin, etc. I just didn’t care that much about those details, Chuck. There’s some good stuff in this book, but it didn’t bowl me over.
In other news, boy, is it hard to come back to work. I'm feeling a tad listless, but also happy because some stupid lame work-related things happened in my absence and I am glad to have missed them.
The dumbest comment I've heard so far about my trip was from a neighbour who asked if I had gone to Vietnam to adopt a baby. I don't know why I was so appalled by the question. Maybe because anyone who knows me AT ALL knows this is a preposterous idea. I'm the least likely person on Earth to be travelling overseas to adopt! Good grief!!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
So I was looking at the hotel's web site, and what did I find? Not only does this little chain run 4 hotels in Hanoi's old quarter, it also runs a hospital. Huh? Here I was feeling sick in Hanoi. How could I know my hotel also ran a hospital? Does anyone ever think "hmm, I wonder if my 15-room hotel has a corresponding hospital?" What kind of hotel chain also runs a hospital? I love Asia.
The problem is that I sleep from 1 to 5 a.m. and from 1 to 5 p.m. I've been in this pattern for 3 days now. I just can't stay awake in the afternoon.
This has to be fixed in the next 48 hours. It has to. Or else I'll be sleeping at my desk all afternoon on Monday. Maybe I can just shut the door and snooze.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Apparently the aid, both State and federal, has been very good. Is it terribly evil of me to think that this is directly related to the fact that a lot of rich white people had their homes threatened? If So. California was as poor and as black as New Orleans, what would be happening now? The place would still be burning.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The new bills are really pretty and colourful. They all have a picture of Ho Chi Minh on them. On the 100,000 and 50,000 Dong notes, there is a transparent window. You can look through the money and see your hand on the other side. It is really cool. I guess this is a new mechanism to prevent counterfeiting. It is very hi-tech looking money.
But the problem with Dong is that you can't exchange it anywhere. I find myself stuck with a wallet full of Dong.
Because I left Saigon at midnight, the currency exchange counter at the airport was closed. When I showed a Dong to the lady at the exchange counter in Narita, Japan, she looked horrified. She waved her hands at me and looked upset in a very exaggerated way, like I was trying to exchange tainted devil money or something.
When I got to Montreal, I asked the lady if I could exchange Dong and she said no. She didn't looked terrified like the Japanese lady had, she just said no. And suggested I try their local bank. I didn't even know there was a local Vietnamese bank, and so far, I've no luck locating it.
But good fortune intervened. I found out from a work friend that we have a colleague going to Vietnam on business in December. So I said to her that I would be happy to sell her my leftover Dong at a discount. I've got the equivalent of $56.00 worth, and I'll be happy to unload it for $50.00. Whatta deal. I hope she'll want it. I can't see why not. Otherwise, I'm stuck with this worthless currency.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I had read about these new fangled toilets that have a button you press which sets off a fake flushing sound to cover the embarrassing real noises you might be emitting in the stall, but I never thought I'd get to use one. It was so exciting.
I'd never seen a toilet with so many gadgets. No. 1 for me was the fake flushing noise, which in my humble opinion, sounded indeed fake. It didn't sound like a real flush. I had to push it twice just to hear the sound.
No. 2 cool option was the built-in bidet which when I pressed the button set forth a very stimulating jet of water. That was super cool. The other option was more like a cool refreshing breeze, but the powerful water jet is, I think, what would have people coming back for more.
There was a 4th button but I can't remember what it was.
So on my return trip, when I got to Narita, I headed for a toilet only to be sadly disappointed. No fancy toilets in the satellite area of the airport. I was at Narita for over 5 hours so I visited a number of bathroom stalls and not one had the new toilets!
I was tempted to walk all the way over to Gates 76-77 where I KNEW the new toilet was located, but I was just too tired. It's a huge airport and that would've been a lot of walking. I just didn't have the energy.
So if you are ever in Narita with some time to kill and want a little fun, head to the ladies room near Gate 76-77 in the main terminal building. It's worth it.
Another fun little past-time is to ride the mini-rail between the main terminal and the satellite terminal. Just because.
Also, Narita is so fancy I felt totally inappropriately dressed for the airport. The duty free area with all the exclusive shops is huge. Like a small shopping mall. And it is so classy looking, I felt like it should have had a sign that said: "Dinner jacket required." Maybe it did in Japanese. I dunno. On the way over, there were two ladies handing out free sips of Chivas. Yo. I was too sick to take one, but free Chivas is not a bad thing at all in my book.
P.S. Another cool thing in the bathroom at Gate 76-77. You know how with most public sinks you just run your hand across and the water comes out? Well, in this bathroom, the soap works the same way. I put my hand under the little spigot looking for something to press and magically I had a handful of soap. It was unexpected and quite cool.
Paging LLJ, Paging LLJ.
Anyway, I'm back. I'm feeling quite okay, I've unpacked my suitcase, bought groceries, and done a load of laundry, but I would not attempt to operate heavy machinery today.Not that that is likely to come up, I hope. I'm still too dozy for that.
There's plenty to tell, including those Japanese toilets! but it will have to wait a bit. Also, I must get my film developed so I can post some photos in the next few days.
I'm glad I survived this adventure, but I'm kinda sad that I may never go to Asia again. It's just too darn far and my delicate health just won't permit it. That is a major drag.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Here on the mushroom farm, it means trying to figure out costumes for the kids (which I'm not too good at).
Miss Mushrooms wants to be "an 80's girl". I invited her to peruse my closet. She seemed oddly unimpressed with even my lime green big shouldered shiny blazer. A few days later, she announced that her 80's girl costume needs leggings and leg warmers. Mr. Mushrooms and I mumbled something about needing to get going to soccer (he's not good at costumes either). Later she e-mailed us colourful word documents complete with google-image-found images of Olivia Newton John in her "Let's get physical" phase (Oh God, now I've got to find one of those fuzzy headband things too). Miss Mushroom is a resourceful girl and I'm hoping she can work this out without too many trips to obscure dance stores. That sounds more like a dad-job, no?
Mushroom Jr. is easier (I thought). He wants to go as his hero, Ozzy Osbourne. Someone gave us long tunic thing that is supposed to be for the Indian festival of Diwali, but it can double as Ozzy in the early 70's. And I can just buy a long black wig. What can be easier, right? Wrong. Superstore had long blond wigs, and Afro wigs, and even a diva curly blond wig (which I bought and offered to Miss Mushrooms for the 80's girl costume which was rejected so maybe Mr. Mushrooms can wear it when he hands out candy), but no Ozzy-straight-black hair wigs. What they had was a mullet wig: hideous and scary and I bought it. Mushroom Jr. commented that this was not Ozzy hair but put it on and immediately loved it (what's not to love?). He then happily claimed that he will go as a hippy which is the great fall-back of all Halloween costumes.
What's scary for me is all those cute grade 10 guys had mullets and we didn't even know the hair that everybody had even a had a name, let alone that it would make us so embarrassed 30 years on.
(cityofmushrooms over and out-
welcome back nanuk-hope you are feeling better)
This has been a good trip, but not the one I've planned for. That's life for ya.
I'll blog more on this when I'm back home on Tuesday.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
So here's to memorizing. We should all memorize something today. Speaking of Shakespeare, how about that great old-love-is-good-love, anti-self-improvement sonnet 130?
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
(So much for romance, eh?)
Also, think of how much better that poor Leonard Shelby in "Memento" would have done, if he could memorize ANYTHING at all.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
WHAT is Michael Ondaatje's "Divisadero" doing on both the Giller and Governor General's lists? I'm an Ondaatje fan. I like the poetry from the 70's, love "Billy the Kid" and "Coming Thru Slaughter", of course. How can you not? I even like the supposedly unreadable "English Patient" (the section on the winds in the desert remains amazing).
But I just don't get "Divisadero". Is it 2 books? Is it half a book? Is it 2 half unfinished books? Why get me all involved with a character (His whole back story and the inside of his head, his gambling habit which gets him into big trouble, so much trouble that he gets his head kicked in and loses his memory) only to drop him and fly off to tell the story of one of the interchangeable women characters (Couldn't tell them apart, you know the way Woody Allen women all talk like Woody Allen? Like that) off in France with fiddle playing gypsies who keep sticking sprigs of basil or spring onions in their pockets and maybe a son of a gypsy thrown in for good measure not to mention a French poet or a French doctor. I lost track of where I was and who was who and what the whole point of it all was. I just wanted to get through the book (Why didn't I just shut the book or throw it across the room? Too stubborn).
And so now, its convoluted "lyric" and "poetic" "layered" writing (run screaming, now!) is topping prize shortlists. I am missing something. A dumb reader, maybe? A tired one who thinks life is too short to wallow in the whatever it was I was clearly missing.
A book I'm glad made the GG list is Barbara Gowdy's "Helpless". A book that scared the Giller judges, I guess, because tho' it made the longlist, it was cut in last week's shortlist announcement. "Helpless" is a really good book. I highly recommend it. This is what her website says:
Helpless is Barbara Gowdy’s brilliant new novel, a provocative, gripping story of an unthinkable act and a mother’s heroic love for her child.
Rachel is an uncommonly beautiful young girl. With her tawny skin, pale blue eyes and chromium-blond hair, she is a cherished gift to her mother, Celia. Celia is a single parent holding down two jobs. All too aware of her own precarious equilibrium, she worries about Rachel’s innocent longing for her unknown father.
When a blackout plunges the city into darkness and confusion, Rachel is snatched away. Celia, numb with terror and guilt about the choices she has made, confronts the reality of every mother’s worst nightmare. The media coverage is tremendous. Closely monitoring it is Ron, a small-appliance repairman with a rare collection of vintage vacuums in his basement. Though Rachel is a stranger to him, he feels oddly connected to her, as though she is his responsibility. His feelings for her are, at once, tender, misguided and chillingly possessive.
Tapping into the fear and tension just below the surface of contemporary city life, Gowdy’s clear-eyed prose artfully urges us to consider what we dare not look at too closely. With her uncanny ability to lay bare our common soul and to fearlessly explore the intricate complexities of love, Gowdy has created a masterful novel.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Americans know the Brady Bunch better than Bible
ReutersPublished: Saturday, October 13
NEW YORK - How many of The Ten Commandments can you name?
Put to the test, Americans recalled the seven ingredients of a McDonald's Big Mac hamburger and members of TV's The Brady Bunch more easily than the Bible's Ten Commandments.
A survey by Kelton Research found 80 per cent of 1,000 respondents could name the burger's primary ingredient -- two all-beef patties -- but fewer than six in 10 knew the commandment "thou shalt not kill."
Fewer than half of respondents -- 45 per cent -- could recall the commandment "honour thy father and mother," but 62 per cent knew the Big Mac has a pickle.
Bobby and Peter, the least recalled-names from the fictional Brady Bunch family, were remembered by 43 per cent of respondents -- topping the 34 per cent who knew "remember the Sabbath" and 29 per cent recalling "do not make false idols."
The survey was commissioned by the Ten Commandments Commission in the lead up to the Oct. 19 release of animated movie The Ten Commandments and the online campaign to boost awareness of The Ten Commandments.
Actor Elliott Gould, who voices God in the upcoming movie produced by Promenade Pictures, gave his backing to the campaign to raise awareness of the commandment's historical basis for the U.S.'s legal and moral code.
"I would hope that to renew, restore and strengthen our resolve in relation to ethics and morals can help to pave the way to make for peace and harmony in the world amongst all of us," he said in a statement Friday.
You'd better be in the air at this point (9:51 MT), bumped up to 1st class, sipping that drink w/a paper umbrella in it, watching a HK action movie and getting a massage from a white-shorts-wearing stewart.
Keep us posted.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I liked this movie as I like all Wes Anderson movies.
A number of things I liked: 1) a perfume called Voltaire #6; 2) the use of THAT infamous song "Where Do You Go To My Lovely?" as background to a scene; 3) other than THAT song, a lot of other great music; 4) Adrien Brody's face, which I could look at forever; 5) the scene where they literally shed their baggage in slow motion.
I have to get proof from American F Airlines that the flight was cancelled. Oh my, how I look forward to dealing with their customer "service" people. Wish me luck.
Our travel group is supposed to file a claim against American F Airlines for two lost days of our tour, but frankly I don't expect to see much reimbursement from them. But of course we will try. We will not see any of Hanoi (this is assuming that we actually get off the ground tomorrow) and we will miss the boat cruise and sightseeing in Halong. Which was a highlight of the trip. grumble.
Oh, and another thing, if I knew this trip might be delayed again, I could've gone to Toronto to see Springsteen. Shouldn't I be able to claim for this lost privilege? wah.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I'm at home. In fucking Montreal. Because fucking stupid American Fucking Airlines are all fucked up.
Their stupid fucking plane had mechanical problems and we never even got on the plane. The stupid fucking representative told us we had to go back to the check-in counter, and fucking check-in again and clear fucking US Customs and Immigration again and get on another fucking flight. But did American Fucking Airlines have another flight to put us on? Or any way to connect to any kind of useful flight? Fuck No!
So, are we leaving tomorrow, Monday? Fuck No. The next flight to Hanoi is fucking Tuesday.
I still can't believe I spent 9 fucking hours at the stupid fucking airport and didn't get to go anywhere.
So I'll be going to work tomorrow and getting up at 4 fucking 30 a.m. again on Tuesday to go through the whole fucking thing again.
(P.S. please don't leave any comments asking things like "did they try to re-route you through New York? Did they try to get your an overnight stay in Chicago?" etc. Nothing fucking worked.)
Blog in, Nan.
Send post cards via an internet cafe (oh and drink one of those iced coffees with sweetened condensed milk and sit under a palm tree for a while).
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I've left the keys to the blog with Ms Mushrooms. She may drive it as she sees fit. (Damn you, Michael Ondaatje!)
This is the cue for JAW Fan to ask: How come I never get the keys to the blog? Tough luck.
Hope to blog a bit from Hanoi in a couple of days.
My suitcase is half-packed, my pre-trip purchases are all made. My in-flight reading is ready (Everything is Illuminated and Fight Club).
Tickets, check. Passport and visa, check. Money, check. Everything else, check.
At what point do I start to panic because I feel TOO organized?
Friday, October 12, 2007
It seemed like a nice little business. Quite dynamic and possibly interesting. But then he asked me how much $$$ I was looking for. I didn't say exactly, but I told him what I'm currently making, and the interview was toast.
Me = old = rich?
Now I can relax, until I get home and start worrying about packing for my trip. Then I can panic again. It never ends.
I'm a bit disappointed that his co-winner was not Sheila Watt-Cloutier from Iaqluit, but instead the UN Panel on Climate Change.
The UN? Sigh.
I know it is capable of good work, but the UN is so frustrating, and from what I've seen, I dunno how much global cooperation and progress this panel is really able to accomplish.
Time to watch the right-wingers further rip into Al, as if they'll have anything new to say.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that Saeed Akbar, a manager at an interpreting and translation company, "had wanted a bit of excitement".
Akbar, 35, left the interview room and came back in to speak to his female victim naked and clutching a clipboard. When the job candidate refused to strip as well, he put his clothes on and attempted to continue the interview as normal, the court was told. (BBC)
Scotland: Land of effing crazies.
I'm having a short (10 minute) phone interview with them tomorrow.
Oh No! I don't want to do this!!
Update: I've just been googling the company and it turns out they have an office in the same building where I am having my barium x-ray tomorrow. Should I drop in on them, weak from fasting and lips covered in white paste, to tell them I'm saving them the bother of a phone call?
Poor Emma. Here is her lesson for all of us: If you live beyond your means and rack up a load of debt, don’t expect your old lovers to come to your rescue. Her solution: take poison and die.
Poor hapless Charles couldn’t get over her death. But then he found the stash of letters from Rodolphe and Lucien. He was so distraught, he too died.
At least the guy with the new wooden leg lived happily ever after. He even came to Emma’s funeral.
The accordion player falls into the same category. He’s thinking: Who am I and what am I doing here? I look like a plumber and yet here I am on stage with hot chicks. Life is good.
What a fun show. As good as the first time we saw them, I think. I’m ready to see ‘em again. They did not disappoint. It seemed to go on forever. But the show ain’t over until the young lady plays the big bass drum. I love that!
As for Dub Trio. Well, shoot. I like dub, and I like trios. What’s not to like?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Four weeks without pay for peeking at George's file. Seems a bit harsh.
There could have been a particularly debonair x-ray in there. An elegant scan, perhaps. An alluring ultrasound? I know I could not have resisted if I had been one of these nurses.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The National League went against me, though. I can't win them all.
In Hockey News....Sens are 4 and 0 to start the season. Go Sens Go!
In other sports, turns out Marion Jones was just another cheater. Tough. I always thought her teeth were cute. But I just like imperfect teeth. I wonder what Shane MacGowan's doing these days... now I'm off-topic.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Temperature leaving Toronto: 32 C
Temperature arriving Montreal: 12 C.
I'm goin' in the wrong direction.
Friday, October 05, 2007
I can’t wait to go on vacation just to run away from my medical appointments.
The Number 1 symptom of a hiatus hernia is heartburn. How often do I get heartburn? Never. How does this make any sense?
I won't know how serious this is until the next test and consult. But the doc told me hernias come in three convenient sizes: small, medium and large. And mine is a large. Apparently hernias are only a problem if they are large. Goodie!
And I may have had it for a long, long time. What does that mean? Years? Decades? I dunno. Doc also said he thought, for now, that the likelihood of requiring surgery was very small. At least that’s good news. But he did say it would be VERY beneficial for me to “lose a few pounds”. Define “a few”, thought I. But I know what he means.
Last night I was lying in bed, thinking an alien was going to spring out of my stomach.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I'll be at the Montreal General. Motto: We leave no orifice unprobed.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
It's Baseball time.
So go go go go: Red Sox, Indians, Phillies and Cubbies!
I suspect, though, that nothing in post-season is going to match the Mets' end-of-season meltdown. That was one for the ages.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
The words "weekend gouge" come to mind.
And next weekend is Thanksgiving. I expect it to go over $1.10 for that occasion.
I filled up yesterday at 94. I'm not planning on driving much this week, so I'm just letting the gas sit in the tank and accumulate value. Makes me feel rich. No siphoning please!