Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Holy Crap, I'm Tired.

Dear Edmonton Oilers,

I totally understand that you want to win games. I don't hold that against you. If you win this series I will even wish you well in further rounds. But by all that's sacred, couldn't you have found a more interesting way to win than by playing the defensive trap? I thought we left that behind in 2004! I watched other games on Monday night, and they weren't boring. So how come you guys are playing boring hockey? Where's the glory, I ask you? Where's the glory and honor?

Oh, and that anthem singer of yours... You have GOT to have someone in Edmonton who can sing better than that guy! Ouch. The pain, the pain.

A Wings Fan who is also a fan of hockey in general


Dear Red Wings,

Okay, you did better at breaking through the defensive trap last night. This morning. Whenever it was. And the two goals within seconds in the third period were most excellent. But seriously, if you're going to keep all of us fans back home up past 2 AM with a double overtime game, can't you at least have the decency to win?

A deliriously tired fan

Monday, April 24, 2006

Annoying Music

You know that piece called "Pomp and Circumstance," the really annoying and repetitive bit of music that gets played at graduation ceremonies while all the graduates are filing in to their spots?

One of my co-workers somewhere off in the distance is listening to it.

Can I go home?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Playoff Time!

Yes, that would be me over there in that picture, posing with the Holy Grail of Hockey. That was from a trip to Toronto and the Hockey Hall of Fame a few years ago. They have almost a shrine for it. All the other various awards are in the same room too, closed in glass cases, carefully cleaned after a day's worth of eager fans press too close, nosing the glass in attempts to see a favorite player's name on a particular trophy.

The Stanley Cup, though, is not under glass. Nor should it be. This is a trophy that's been through some history. The tradition is that every player on the Cup-winning team gets to have the Cup for an entire day and do whatever they want with it. It's been swimming in Mario Lemieux's pool. (And as the story goes, silver and chlorine don't combine well.) Sylvain Lefebvre had it used as a baptismal font for his baby. Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Slava Kozlov took it all the way to Russia. Luc Robitaille took it on a roller coaster at Universal Studios. A guy I used to work with told me during the summer of 2002 that he'd been out at a club when Sergei Fedorov and the Stanley Cup just happened to show up. It was once left on the side of the road when some players from the 1924 Montreal Canadiens. who were driving around with it had to stop to change a flat tire. (Luckily it was still there when they went back for it.)

It is the only championship trophy in pro sports in which every player from the winning team gets to have his name engraved on it. The bands that form the base for the Cup? Covered in names. Players past and present, from Hall of Famers to hard-working hitters.

So, here's to the hope that come June, Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman will once more raise the cup above his head and skate it triumphantly around the ice!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Joy of Bad Movies

Lately, Tirithien and I have been on a kick of watching very bad old science fiction movies for the sole purpose of making fun of them. I can now tell you with certainty that radiation can do absolutely anything. It can cause ordinary creatures to grow to many times their original size! It can turn people invisible! It can bring dead dinosaurs back to life and give them radioactive bad breath! It can turn people into radioactive melty monster things!

And sometimes, monsters wear sneakers.

Now, I have taken great glee from horrible sci-fi movies for many years. I remember seeing part of Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster some rainy afternoon when I was a kid, and howling with laughter as Godzilla used his atomic blast breath to cook the sea monster, which was actually a giant lobster. (The movie didn’t specify whether or not Godzilla ate the lobster with butter and lemon afterwards.)

But these movies we’ve been watching aren’t just any bad movies. Oh, no! We have been watching episodes of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” an absolutely brilliant show which ran through the 90s. Through the magic of the internet, I’ve been able to obtain copies of many, many episodes. (Woot!) You’ve probably seen it—you know, the clip of a bad movie with a guy and two robots down in the corner?

It’s like watching a movie with extra obnoxious friends to help you make fun of it! And while there are certainly some movies which are too bad even for the MST3K commentary to improve, most of it is just excellent fun.

Keep your reality TV; I’ll take the low budget sci-fi any day!

I think my DVD player might be starting to get irritated with having to play so many horrible movies, though. I might have to let it run a decent movie soon. It’s so picky.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Return of the Woodland Ninjas!

Thursday was a horrible day to be working. It was 70 degrees and sunny, and every time anyone opened the door a few feet from my desk, I could smell the spring-scented air and hear the breeze calling me to come outside. So as my day progressed, I had an email coversation with Tirithien, as we often do when work is slow and he's not busy, and it went like this:

Bainwen (11:02 AM): I want to go outside and play. The spirit of Woodland Ninja summons me! But no, I'm making spreadsheets. :-p

Tirithien (12:02 PM): Then let's go play. :-) We can go ninjaing tonight, if you want. :-)

Bainwen (12:18 PM): Thursday night ninja-ing (ninjing?)... For some reason, against my custom, I wore jeans and sneakers to work today. I'm ready to ninja. But I've got laundry to do, and groceries to buy, and my apartment is a godawful mess....
But it's 70 degrees and sunny!
Oh poot. I am coming to you as soon as I get out of work. Foo upon all of the housework. :-p Woodland Ninja time is needed desperately!
So I should get there just about almost when you get out of your class.

Tirithien (12:28 PM): Class is out at 5:30. :-) I'll be walking over to the parking lot right after. :-D

Bainwen (3:36 PM): Almost time for ninjing! And how slowly my last hour goes. :-(

Tirithien (3:39 PM): One hour to ninja... ;-)

Bainwen (3:49 PM): Yes, the time grows near. Whee! :-D
I love you, my kolaninja!

Tirithien (4:03 PM): Yes... come to me and ninja with me. :-)

Bainwen (4:11 PM): 20 minutes and I'm out the door. Invisibly, of course. ;-)

And at 4:30 I was out the door (though not too invisibly, since I hadn't planned for ninjing that morning and was in a rather bright blue shirt). On the freeway with swiftness, heading south to my love and the green woods of Toledo. (THAT is one thing Toledo did with perfection; their city planners left room for amazing parks!)

To my surprise, it is much more spring in Toledo than at home. You wouldn't think 40 miles would make much difference, but it does. Their trees have leaves! And flowers! And the woods at Wildwood Metropark were full of daffodils and forget-me-nots, and how strange it was to see daffodils growing wild!

Wildwood is a park of trails through a rather vast woodland preserve near the Ottawa River, and it's a simple enough thing to leave the posted trails and head out to explore. So this we did, going much further into the woods than we had ever done before. We were rewarded, though; we saw the tracks of deer who ran, and a confluence of scuffled deer tracks as if two great stags had battled there for dominance. We saw a smallish mammal pawprint with HUGE claw marks. (Badger on the loose?) And then-- oh glory! Across the river, a beautiful whitetail doe grazing placidly on new grass; then down by my feet, the tiniest garter snake ever, a delicate brown serpent with wee black jewels for eyes.

Before we knew it, it was getting dark, but we thought we knew exactly where we were. The main path is just up that hill, right? Of course it is. In the growing twilight, we made our way around gigantic puddles, over and under fallen branches, and across small running streams to the base of the hill. My, it certainly looked steep. And tall. And covered with slippery leaves from last fall. And muddy.

Well, woodland ninjas should not balk at such things, so up we went! Oh, I could definitely tell that it's early in woodland ninja season. My lungs protested, and my legs protested even more loudly. Then to top things off, the path wasn't there! Well, never mind, we knew which direction to go, and we'd connect to the main path.

Then we realized the hill we were on was a sort of island, surrounded by small streams feeding the Ottawa with rain runoff. And it was very steep on all sides. And it was getting darker and darker.... and the path must be at the top of THAT hill over there. You know, the one which is even steeper than this one and across a particularly wide section of stream. Oy.

Okay. Down we went. I admit to doing the graceless, non-ninja-like thing and sliding down on my bottom part of the way. (On purpose, I mean.) I can climb up pretty much any hill I've faced with no issue at all, but going down the same hills kick my fear response into high gear!

Now how to cross this stream? It was far too wide to jump. (I probably could have done it with a running start, but there was no way to get up a good run with the steep hill behind me, and no good place to land with the steep hill in front of me.) There was, though, a very fortuitous fallen tree which we could use. No, I didn't walk across the log. It was slippery. Again, I did the graceless non-ninja-like thing. (I'm only an apprentice woodland ninja!) I straddled the log and used my arms to scoot myself across. (And for the record, I really need to work on my upper body strength. Ow.)

Yay! Across, and up, up, up some more-- and there was the path! Whew. It was full dark by then, so woodland ninjing would have become very difficult.

Safely out of the park, and off to get some dinner, and I went into the restroom to wash the woodland ninja mud off my hands. I peeked at myself in the mirror and saw myself pink from the sun and exercise, my freckles all showing strongly, sweaty, a smudge of dirt on my cheek, my hair a mess with a few bits of leaf caught in it... and an exhilaration and laughter in my eyes I hadn't seen all winter.

Welcome, Spring. The woodland ninjas are very, very glad to see you again. :-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Satanic Ritual Abuse?

The other night, I caught part of a show on A&E about Satanic Ritual Abuse. This is the phenomenon by which people suddenly remember (sometimes spontaneously, but more often with the assistance of a hypnotherapist) horrendous abuses they suffered in their childhood-- physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and any other kind of abuse imaginable. In these cases it is remembered as being perpetuated (usually) by their parents, who are said to be worshippers of Satan.

I've got to give A&E tremendous credit for producing a show that showed both sides as fairly as possible. It was my own bias that colored my emotional responses.

You see, I think the vast majority of those who claim Satanic abuse are either victims of self-deception or are trying for attention (or both). There was an interview with an FBI assistant director who has investigated multitudes of purported abuse cases, who pointed out that there has not been one substantiated case of cultic abuse in the US, and that he is not aware of any substantiated cases in any other countries.

I'm not saying it has NEVER happened, but if it's as widespread as its believers claim, there is no possible way it could be completely unsubstantiated. There would be some evidence somewhere. People are clumsy, and there is no such thing as a perfect crime.

The real tragedy, to me, seemed to be in the families of those who claimed to be victims of Satanic abuse. There was a case in which a woman told her therapist that her sister and brother-in-law were planning to sacrifice their own son on the Vernal Equinox. The therapist by state law was required to report this as a clear and present danger. The police, though, did not investigate. They raided the home and took the kids away. It took months for the couple to clear their name and get their kids back. Why didn't the police do any investigation of any kind before taking the kids away? After these months of legal battles, the parents had to declare bankruptcy. They're held responsible for the court costs and the costs of their children's foster care, even though they were cleared of the sister's allegations.

A bizarre case came from a small church in Tulsa. The preacher there learned of the Satanic abuse "phenomenon" several years ago, and began to counsel his congregation in such ways that every single thing wrong with their lives was a direct result of having been Satanically abused in their childhoods. It was almost comical in its absurdity; all of the members of this group claimed to have been abused by the same man, the now-deceased father of one of the members. But this father had never lived in Tulsa or anywhere near it. Even group members who had grown up in completely different parts of the country claimed that this man had somehow abused them, and this stretched the credulity of even the neutral A&E interviewer. "Doesn't that seem strange to you?" he asked. The believers offered no explanations as to how this occurred, but simply claimed it was "the work of the Lord" that had brought them together.

It would have been comical, if not for the very real grief of one woman in the group. You see, the preacher forbids the "victims" from having any contact with their families of origin, because, as he puts it, it's not safe. The way he twists the tale, the more attached you are to your parents and the more you love them, the more horrendous your abuse must have been. There was one woman in the group who clearly missed her parents horribly, but was so convinced of the truth of the Satanic abuse, even though she remembered nothing but love from her childhood, that she would not speak to them.

They showed her sitting with her husband, a smug, smarmy-looking man who said primly that he KNEW there was something wrong with his wife's relationship with her parents because she was so attached to them, and that was why he had taken her to that preacher for counseling. He then proceeded to shame her on national TV by saying that she was still weak and under Satan's influence because she missed them.

If anyone on that entire program was doing evil, it would be that deluded, power-mad preacher in Tulsa.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I was tagged by Martie...

So now I am playing along!

1. Who was your first Prom date?
The Invisible Man. “Prom” and I do not belong in the same sentence.

2. Who was your first roommate(s)?
My mom. We shared a big bed when I was a baby.

3. What alcoholic beverage did you drink the first time you got drunk?
The “Love Potion # 5” – a concoction of vodka, any preferred flavor of Pucker or other fruity schnapps, and Sprite or 7-up.

4. What was your first job?
I worked at Taco Bell right after I turned 16. For two weeks. They didn’t want to give me any hours, so it seemed like a waste of time, and K-Mart was offering me better, so I took it.

5. What was your first car?
A 1987 Dodge Shadow. (I got it in 1997.)

6. When did you go to your first funeral?
Real funeral? I was 25. It was my now-ex’s grandmother’s funeral.

7. How old were you when you first moved away from your home town?
18 when I went away to college.

8. Who was your first grade teacher?
Ms. Anderson. She was MEAN!

9. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane?
Home to Florida. I’d been visiting with family in Detroit, and they had to get me home somehow.

10. When did you sneak out of your house for the first time, who was it with?
It was by myself. The ex-H was playing video games and I wanted to go for a walk, so I very quietly slipped out of the house.

11. Who was your first Best Friend and are you still friends with them?
Probably my younger cousin. We did everything together when we were little. We’re still friends, but not as close because of distance.

12. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parents house?
In a dorm room.

13. Who is the first person you call if you have a bad day?
My boyfriend.

14. Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid/groomsmen?
My mom’s. I was 10.

15. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Hit the snooze alarm.

16. What is the first concert you ever went to?
*groans in anticipatory embarrassment* New Kids on the Block. I was only 13, okay?

17. First tattoo or piercing? What age?
I had my ears pierced when I was 11. Don’t have any tattoos… I don’t think I can handle the pain.

18. First Celebrity crush?
My mom claims I had a weird thing for Davy Jones of the Monkees when I was a baby. I suspect it’s because I was almost as tall as him even then.

19. Age of first kiss?
I was 19. Late, I know.

20. First crush?
A boy I met in first grade. He was in a lot of my classes over the years before we moved up north, and he was always cute and always nice, but alas, he never liked me “that way.”

21. First time you did drugs?
No illegal drugs. I’d only test positive for them if I’d eaten something with poppy seeds beforehand.

I will tag Tirithien and Beth to play along, if they so choose. :-)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Jealousy: Friday Confessional Series

(Maybe I’ll just confess things on the Fridays that I have something worth confessing?)

One of my co-workers is very pregnant. Her baby is due at the end of May. So of course the other women in the office have been making a fuss over her, giving her unwanted advice, and all the other things that happen to a new mom-to-be. This is her first baby, so it should be very exciting.

I am happy for her, because I know she and her husband had been trying for awhile.

But I am also heartbreakingly jealous of her, and I will tell you why.

They decided they wanted to know if they were having a girl or a boy. According to the ultrasounds, their baby is very definitely a boy.

Since she found out, the mom-to-be has done nothing but complain about how much she’d rather have a girl, because “boys aren’t as cute” and “there aren’t any cute clothes for boys.”

I want a baby boy more than anything in the world. But here I am waiting patiently for the time to come when I can provide a baby with a good life. It could be years.

And she will have her baby in her arms by the end of next month, and she can’t even show any gratitude for it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Flashback Wednesday

Yes, I know, the blog trend is to put the Flashback on Friday. But this morning I was looking through some old pictures I have saved on my computer, and figured I'd share this one. It's from either late 1987 or early 1988, and I was just 10! The bald-as-a-bean baby is my cousin.

That chubby cherub of a baby is now an 18-year-old college freshman. Weird.

She did grow hair eventually (but not until she was 2).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Faded Blue

They met up at the McDonalds, the father with his golden-haired little girl, the mother joining them a few minutes later. They sat at the table across from where I sat reading my book and eating fries, and I smiled to see them at first, the tiny child so happy to see her mother, clinging to her joyfully, laughing as she showed her mother the pink-haired toy from her Happy Meal.

It wasn’t long before the joy faded.

The mother and father talked intensely; not loudly, but they had sat down so close to me that I couldn’t help but hear them. I tried to ignore them, tried to lose myself in The Silmarillion and the poetry of Tolkien’s mythology, but they would be heard whether I wanted to hear or not.

They had betrayed each other, I gathered. Each had done unforgivable things. They hated each other, and said so, in a million ways; the shrill softness of the mother’s accusations, the placid refusal of the father to acknowledge her pain or his own. On and on, never ending. Threats, blame, insults, hatred, so quietly delivered, and yet so deadly.

The child clung to her mother, looking over at me with weary eyes the color of faded summer denim, silently pleading with me to make them stop.

I looked back, the hazel of my eyes no doubt saddened to the color of dark woodlands, silently telling her that I wished I could.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well, this is awkward...

Not quite a Monday Confessional, but more of a Monday "Wow This Is Embarrassing."

I'll preface by saying that I'm very glad I wore cargo pants today, with huge pockets that can button closed. Soon you will see why.

I have a problem finding bras that fit. So I measured myself carefully and ordered one from an online store. It arrived, and all seemed well and good. It didn't quite fit, but it fit at least as well as any I've ever picked out from a regular store, so I figured it would be fine.

I wore it today.

A little while after lunch, I noticed that it was starting to feel REALLY uncomfortable.

I went to the restroom to lock myself in a stall and investigate in relative privacy.

One of the straps had broken. It was not reparable. At least not by me, with the resources I have at work!

It is now in my gigantic buttoned-shut cargo pocket.

I just have to remember not to jump up and down at any point today.