Sunday, December 31, 2006

Today was a nice day for a drive so we headed across the border to do some shopping at Bellis Fair. While wandering through the toy aisle at Target we came across a very unusual action figure:
Spider-Man, threat, menace or FAAAABULOUS!?

Does MJ know about this?

Happy New Year's y'all!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wednesday was a fun day. Ian, Vic and I met up with Diana, Drew and Joanne for a dinner at FigMint. The menu had some new items we wanted to try out. The food was, of course, fantastic. The chef, Lee Humphries came out for a quick hello and later he sent up these deep fried shrimp appetizers in shooters of dip for us to sample. Mouth watering!

Afterwards we headed over to the ANZA Club for quiz night. It was a packed room and everyone was psyched up for the game. This was my first time at this event and I was surprised at how many people I knew. Riel's brother Jesse was there with friends, my sister's roommate Susan and her boyfriend, cartoonist James Lloyd (who didn't hear me when I called out to him as he arrived and then at some point got this weird notion into his head that I was snubbing him! James!). The clerk from the local bookstore was there, some regulars from RX Comics, and many improv and comedy folks, including Eric who we thanked profusely for burning us a copy of the Doctor Who season 2 finale episodes. And Diana brought her dog Pender along who was a total hit with everyone. It was so cool being in that environment, everyone hanging out, having pitchers, playing pool or darts... and that distinct feeling of "this is my neighborhood, I'm not just visiting here". I've never experienced that before and it was so darned neat.

And then a group came in decked out in matching outfits: bright orange hard-hats and matching safety vests with the name of some construction crew or something like that on them. They were already pretty buzzed, very vocal and... well, annoying as hell.

We were very patient with these folks, we all wanted to have a good time and they seemed to have their team spirit locked and loaded but it was a challenge ignoring some of their more blatant ploys with ladies who were clearly spoken for, their heckling during the quiz (including a few declarations of their Surrey pride) and finally a couple of incidents that, as expected, quickly escalated into unpleasant territory.

After feasting on the pizza they had ordered in, their eyes glued to the silenced TV screen in the corner playing the Canucks/Calgary game (occasionally breaking their thousand yard stares to yell "FOUR DEUCE!"), one of the guys shambled up to the mic during the round break and attempted a hip hop riff. A few people asked him to stop and he became angry that he didn't get to use the "communal microphone" like the Quiz master got to.

As this argument snowballed into something greater involving the hairstyle of one of Diana's friends, another guy decided to "crop dust" near and around our tables (this after he offered Pender an unlit cigarette as a joke prompting me to call out a loud warning he didn't hear). The table over commented on the stench and then another argument started up. This one resulted in said farter smacking a guy who was seated in the back of the head.

People in the immediate area started standing (I noticed James practically bolt across the room ready to defend) and those seated all groaned at these asshole's antics spoiling everyone's fun. Pender, the sweetest, most gentle Lab you'll ever hope to meet let out a little bark and stood ready to protect his charges which shocked Diana and Drew.

The wrecking crew were ready for this to become an out and out brawl but thankfully the crowd were way more level headed than that. They started calling out for them to go home, the standees herded the offenders out the door without a punch, a lot of yelling but no punches. Their remaining buddies, a stocky guy in a toque and his leathery, forty-something friend with a THRASHER t-shirt under his faded hoodie and safety vest, a skateboard held defensively in one hand, tried to argue against the eviction. They seemed to hold the position that since their friend got dissed it was perfectly okay to deliver a physical response.

They exited leaving one member of their team, a woman who seemed indifferent to it all, to answer the rest of the quiz. A few minutes went by and everything seemed back to normal when Skater Boi and Toque Head returned to argue again. It was like coming back from an argument twenty minutes later saying "and another thing!" Again, the room was on their feet.

Our table was closest to the entrance staircase and my sister was right at the edge of it all so I got up along with Ian and the other herders there and stood in the way of them coming back in. We didn't fight, Ian and I focused on Toque Head while the others dealt with the mid-life crisis that was the thrasher, telling him that their actions were disruptive and they needed to go home and sleep it off, try again another night. We only wanted to have a good time and they were perfectly welcome to come back when they were ready to do the same.

And it actually worked. It took a while but they gave it up and left.

When we were all finally settled down to continue the game I saw Marjorie looking at me stunned. "I can't believe you stood up to that guy! Holy cow!" and then I saw Vic give me a similar look.

"What? The guy was being a dick."

"You did the mom thing again" and Vic put her hands on her hips and made an indignant mom face "'Now you listen here!'"

"I did, didn't I?"

Our mom was notorious for standing down a 6 foot giant of a drunk with a knife in the hospital she worked in many years back. The man had become violent and holed himself up in the women's washroom. There were police outside waiting for backup trying to evacuate the area of patients and mom, fed up with the fuss just walked in there and literally mom-guilted the guy into submission by telling him he was being a big selfish ninny for creating all this chaos and that he should put down his knife and go and get treated for the cut he was brought in for. And he did.

Runs in the family I guess.

And it wasn't like there wasn't a room full of people ready to help out. It was that kind of room.

We finally got back to the quiz, and when the night was done our team walked away with a cute lil' trophy for first place. Woooo!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dylan Moran's accent is...very... VERY...CONTAGIOUS!

Which is only appropriate for when you've stayed up all night so you could go to Ikea with family early in the morning.

Sleep deprivation and drunkeness aren't too disimilar states of mind it seems.

That is all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Watching a new series on DVD from the BBC called Black Books and I'm really enjoying it. It's about an alarmingly alcoholic book store owner named Bernard, his new employee, and stress refugee, Manny and Fran who works next door in a modern decor shop. Bernard is played by Dylan Moran who played the straight laced lecturer Davs in Shaun of the Dead, and here he's barely recognizable, looking more like a younger John Cusack decked out in a black suit and trench coat, his hair terminally mussed, blearily appraising his surroundings with utter bewilderment. Bill Bailey plays Manny who some may remember from Spaced as Bilbo. And his hair is amazing.

The pacing is very similar to Spaced with quick cuts and a very sardonic style but shot on a set in video. It's kind of weird at first but gets funnier as it goes. Not bad.

Getting ready for Christmas. Working with the Simpsons model sheets and getting a good feel for the characters.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Want to help a dairy farmer in Kenya buy a cow? A shopkeeper in Ecuador expand her business? Go to!

This organization works with financial institutions around the world giving micro loans to small businesses. You can give through Paypal (at no charge!) or your credit card in small or large increments, in most cases you get the money back which you can then re-invest in other businesses.

Go create some real change in people's lives this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The definition of frustration:

The CBC has been showing the new season of Doctor Who and last week was the first part of The Impossible Planet. So so episode, The Doctor lands in the live action version of DOOM before all the marines show up (even the doors have the same sound effect as those in the game!) interesting predicament, nice cliffhanger, on to part two... and I tune in last night to find Christmas shows. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer etc.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The break continues and I'm very content. After finishing the doll I jumped into sashiko quilting, first making my sister a potholder and now making pieces for a blanket. It's very relaxing work, geometric patterns, even stitching, bold symbols and very specific techniques resulting in dramatic effects.

I haven't been overly social, mostly spending time on these solitary projects, watching movies, playing video games, making myself slow down while still giving my fingers, unaccustomed to idleness, something to do. I'll start drawing again soon but right now I'm enjoying staying away from the table. And I need to enjoy this time away in order to get charged up for going back.

In January I start six to seven issues straight and that worries me a bit. Four was hard, five would have been harder, but six to seven? Yikes.

When I first started on the book it was 15 issues until a break. It was supposed to be 12 but by the time I got to 10 I learned the arc needed to be stretched out a bit and I needed to stay on. I was already slowing down, probably because the end was nearing, weird psychological response to stress I guess, pushing the limits like that, and whatever wriggle room I started out with shrank and disappeared until I was running far behind. I was getting calls every other day, I was snappy and grumpy, it wasn't a good time. I was looking forward to my two issues off.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I went blind.

We came home from Ian's birthday dinner and one of my eyes were itchy and seeping. It wouldn't stop and by 2am I was in the hospital. They said it was a minor infection, gave me some drops and told me it would clear up in a couple of days. I had an experience with pink-eye when I was younger but nothing like this and instead of getting better it got worse. Two days later I was an absolute mess. I had this icky stuff building up under my eyelids that had to be peeled off every few hours or it would ball up and feel like sand everytime I moved my eyes. I couldn't sleep because every time I would start dreaming I'd wake up hurting. All light was too bright and uncomfortable. I was finishing up the last few pages of the Astronaut arc, one hand drawing, the other holding a damp cloth to my eye. And then the strain of it all made my eyes unable to focus. When I could pry my eye open from all the muck I couldn't see.

I went to my doctor who became quite alarmed and sent me to a specialist that afternoon. The specialist took one look and left the room. He returned with a group of students who whispered about my case from the doorway. Past experience has told me this was bad. They all left and then the doctor returned a few moments later, this time with a whole new group of students, none came in, they all whispered. Okay, this was really bad.

Finally the doctor entered and sat down, wrote on his scrip paper the words "EKC" and "10% bleach solution" and handed it to me. I had contracted a severe form of pink eye, there was nothing I could take for it except to get into bed with some cold compresses and not come out for ten days so no one else would catch it. The bleach was for everything in my apartment that I had touched.

When I got up to leave he told me to keep the tissue box I was holding and to not touch the door on my way out.

I spent the next few days not seeing anything, just lying in the dark, occasionally getting up to debride my eyelids.


After a week I was fine again. When the white returned to my eyes it was a genuine and much welcomed surprise.

So why did I ramble on about that very gross time? I think because I know it was the stress of pushing myself so hard that left me wide open to that insidious little bug. A bug I had eventually figured out was probably caught from a bird that died in our living room a few days before it all began, a bird that my lovely and sweet lil' Augie decided to ruthlessly torture by not killing it right away, causing a lot of flapping and feather flying near my tear-filled eyes. Yep, gotta love that Augie of mine.

I had worked two years straight, long hours, constant deadline pressures, phone calls, and always the feeling of just not being up to the task, and had managed to scrape out a week's vacation. That's how much of my spare two months I had eaten up, not just during the blindness episode but all of it, the family emergencies, the bouts with a cold or flu, and just extra needed time with the people I love.

Fortunately I was able to arrange for shorter arcs after that and it got easier. I found ways to be more efficient with my time, relax more, though it's still a tough job and I know I don't want to do anything this huge in the future. I like my sleep after all.

Soon it starts up again, it won't be as hard but it's still scary. Six issues with the last one being double sized.

And the story is just fabulous.

Which will no doubt make the time fly right by.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

It's been a week since the snow came blowing in but despite the warmer, rainier weather there's still lots of it on the ground, especially in the residential areas that aren't on the city worker's list of places to salt and plow. What's worse is that much of the snow-turned-slush is now slick and icy. Even worse than that are the scads of inconsiderate twits who can't be bothered to pitch a few bucks worth of salt on the sidewalks in front of their homes to make it safe to traverse.

A few days ago a postie fell on some ice in front of a business in town. He hit his head but didn't think much of it, bit of a bruise, he filed a report and went home. The next day he wasn't feeling well and agreed to see a doctor but not in time. He died shortly afterward from a brain hemorrhage.

Some ass decided to be cheap about salting the walk and now a man is dead. And this was days after the snow stopped falling and everything in town was business as usual. Plenty of time to run over to the corner store or the Canadian Tire to pick some up.

Walking to a meeting yesterday was so frustrating. Most of the paths were clear except for sections that just couldn't be avoided, some on hills. We struggled to find the crushed footfalls and avoid the chunks of ice that would threaten to bring us down. A 10 minute stroll became a 30 minute pain in the neck as the muscles in my back tensed with every slip.

Yes, the snow was a surprise but it's not totally unheard of here. We get snow every year, a little but snow all the same and every year there's the lingering accidents-waiting-to-happen from people who just refuse to believe that dusting of the white stuff out front will ice up and become dangerous. "But we have daffodils in February! Whatever will we gloat about to the easterners if we have snow?! Nope, I'm going to ignore it and it will quickly go away!"

I'm sorry but if you have a home you should have a bag of salt in your closet, a shovel wouldn't hurt either. There are elderly people trying to get to the store, kids off to school, adults going to work and disabled folks who have enough crap to deal with as it is without cheap fuckers making it worse for them.


Makes me so mad.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Had a very fun, semi-quiet birthday. We got up in the afternoon (I spent most of the morning working on a doll for a friend's daughter), we got into a cab and visited Lee Valley to load up on goodies. I found a very nice set of safety glasses that actually fit, watering globes for the garden, a spider trap on a stick and a book on chip carving which was a hobby I took up some years back but want to try again. Got some great advice on rotary tool heads capable of cutting a new door into the dollhouse I'm fixing up.

We brought our swag home and then met up with Vic for dinner at 1215 on Davie (kobe beef menchi katsu!) followed by some heavy slackage at home in front of the TV, including viewing the Donner cut of Superman II. There were some neat scenes but wow, am I glad they went the other way. That original ending was atrocious. I mean come on! How hard is it to write a good Superman story?

Finished the doll this morning, quite lovely, and this week I will be making some clothes for it before packing it off to Edmonton. The really nice thing about having time off is being able to make toys for friends' kids. I have a couple of crocheted dolls lined up and will be planning more once I get out to Dressew for some fabric.

Even cooler! Vic gave me a great present of a book on Sashiko quilting and some sewing materials! I'm so pysched to make something with these patterns and techniques!

Gosh but I'm domestic!

My brain won't let me sleep without doing something creative.

Friday, December 1, 2006

In the bank line a man was holding a tiny black and brown chihuahua that looked like a miniscule Doberman. It was wearing a bright orange rain jacket and when set down on the ground it delicately avoided puddles of melted slush.

At the A&W a young security guard entered with a homeless guy and bought him a coffee and a sandwich and listened to him tell his story, occasionally patting him on the shoulder with a patient grin. It didn't matter that the guy was drunk and a little loud in his ramblings, he was cold and needed a cuppa joe.

On the bus I saw a woman I knew from the SCA I hadn't talked to years. I complemented her on her picture in a recent Province article. I didn't want to bring up the fact that it was also a result of that article that I learned her husband had passed away three years earlier. He was a cool guy who taught me sword fighting techniques ("Always root your heel to the ground!"), who played chess with me once ("damn you're a kamikaze player aren't you?") and told great stories to everyone during lulls in court events ("Now here's a story about a bunny and a duck!"). I was irked that none of my old household buds told me about it so I could attend the service but I wasn't about to mention it, so instead I smiled and told her how great it was to see her again. And it was.

At the Zellers a woman saw my basket full of yarn skeins and we got into a lengthy conversation about scarves and the right colours for different relatives.

On X-Box live I got my ass kicked in F.E.A.R.

That was my day.