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Antler Tea Toss 


Thursday, December 22, 2005

An expedition into virgin territory, the very heart of Bushiness. Texas. The Lone Star State, or if you believe in anagrams, a Seattle snort or a rental ass tote.

This will be the third holiday season I spend in the United States. I know already to expect American flags hanging from every second house, nativity scenes instead of snowmen and reindeer decor, Happy Birthday Jesus signs, inflexible attitudes on Iraq, daily encounters with newspaper articles covering prison issues, getting carded for buying limoncello cakes and more stores in malls.

I used to be an international traveller, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe on a shoestring. Since April 2003, I have been stuck on the continent, partly due to financial restrictions, partly due to aspirations of careerhood. But, ho, boy, have I ever been getting to know the continent: Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona, Quebec, New York and Oregon.

Texas is an unexpected pleasure.

Here is the state that swallowed other Romanians and spat them out as baptists who dunk each other in water. My dad pointed out that we know another Romanian; he goes to Texas to buy western wear and sells it to cowboys in Canada's Texas, the province of Alberta.

Before going, I'd like to inventory my assumptions, to see if Texas supports or refutes them.

My assumptions are, in no particular order, the following:
  • Texans all support Bush
  • Texan women have two career choices: stay-at-home wife or stripper; otherwise they are lesbian feminists and are, along with vegetarians and pacifists, chased out of the state
  • Texan men like football, beer and strippers
  • Texans think that Hooters is a family-restaurant
  • Texans, like all Waspy Americans, go to church every Sunday
  • Most Texans support the KKK
  • Texans all have guns
  • All Texans are anti-abortion
  • Texans belong to the hunting-is-a-sport half of the American population: popular game is deer, prairie dogs and rabbits
  • Texans are a farty bunch because of all the beans they eat
  • You can kill a Texan by forcing them to watch a 24-hour Scandinavian film festival
  • Texan ants bite therefore Texans do not condone picnics
  • Texans hate the French
  • Most Texans have never been outside the state
  • Texan men all have pasty white legs and rosacea
  • If you examine a Texan high school yearbook, all the girls are blonde twins; brunettes self-combust at birth
  • Texas has more flavours of salsa than we do
  • Most Texans have one of those oil-drilly things in their backyards in get-rich-quick schemes
  • Tumbleweeds roll down streets in Texas, especially at high noon
  • The few First Nations people left have no mainstream voice and the only white references to First Nations peoples will be in the past tense
  • Those farmyard toys at all sex shops have a bigger market in Texas
  • Hippies have never successfully colonized Texas
  • Everyone still believes there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam is the worst dictator in the world (but no one knows of Darfur or what's up in the Congo)
  • Texas has lots of yummy Mexican food
  • Texans do not roast hamster-kebabs over open fires
  • In the seventies, white turtlenecks and fondues were very popular with the nouveau riche Texans
  • All the radio stations play country music except for a few renegade ones that play P.O.D.
  • Most Texans have hunting trophies in their living rooms
  • Most Texan living rooms have dark wood panelling
  • Dim sum does not exist in Texas; sushi is available in the bigger centres but is not fresh
  • I could really harm Canadian-American relations if I spell words ending in -re (theatre, centre) out loud, add a u after the o in words like labour and insist that Americans are lazy revisionists who can't pronounce all of zed
  • The range of barbecue sauces in Texas will delight and amaze
  • Prairie winds flap flattened rabbit roadkill ears along Texan roads
  • The only visible armadillos will be dead ones
  • No cow in Texas has ever perished of natural causes
  • Texan formal wear means cowboy style for the boys and fluffy prom queen for the girls
  • Texans, despite expected lack of, um, openmindedness, will have colourful local witticisms that deserve to be recorded
  • Texas is cockroach country
Amazing, isn't it? I've even met a few Texans to the contrary but my beliefs are unshaken in that these Texans are some freak anomaly, that the true Texan is some strange beast with whom I share nothing in common except eating, breathing and a general physiognomy.

Other assumptions, as I remember them, will appear here. Then, on Boxing Day, I shall delve into the truth. Oh, twelfth state I shall visit, please don't come near me with those nut cutters.


Making Fun of People 


Monday, December 19, 2005

Some names are funny or stupid or both. Take Brittney. No one who takes their daughter seriously would call her that. Or Barbie.

The problem is, once you have friends with those names, you muffle your reaction lest you insult your friends. You can no longer crack jokes at their expense or say behind their backs, "Gee, I wonder if Bambi knows she has a stripper name." Eventually your friends will hear and glare at you. Then you will be shamed into buying them making-up gifts to get onto their good side again.

However, if you make fun of these names prior to meeting a person burdened with such a name, even in as public a forum as a blog, your get out of jail excuse is automatically, "But that was before I knew what a wonderful person you are."

So, before I meet any more people, I proclaim the following names free game for a ruthless round of butt of the the joke:
  • Sandra
  • Kirsten
  • Zachary
  • Alexa
  • Ralph
  • Margaret
Stupid names! Well, just for tainting us with a lifetime of groaning over your names, it's open season on you. Get ready for stuff like, One day, little Zachary wrote to Santa Claus, "Please send me a sister." Santa Claus wrote him back, "Ok, send me your mother." Ha! Take that Zacharies of the world!


Foiled 


Sunday, December 18, 2005

A flight from Romania, unless one lives in Bucuresti, requires a marathon of sleeplessness.

Take Alba Iulia, from I originally hail. I once timed my trip from my doorstep in Alba Iulia to my doorstep in Vancouver: forty hours, from Alba Iulia by van to Cluj then an overnight, unheated bus ride to Budapest, followed by a flight to Vienna or Amsterdam or Copenhagen or Helsinki to Toronto, then another flight to Vancouver, followed by a one-hour car ride to home.

I write this so that you can understand what my father is going through as he circumnavigates the globe to spend Christmas with me. Quite un-understandably, once he lands in Vancouver, he begs for a trip to the car junkyard.

"Maktaaq, your car mats need replacing."

"Maktaaq, I think you could use another windshield wiper."

"Maktaaq, I don't care if you just replaced all your tires, they look worn."

Some moron, you see, placed a very large junkyard in Surrey, which, conveniently enough, is only almost out of the way on the journey from the airport.

My dad doesn't care that jetlag exists. He must stop at the junkyard each and every time he visits Vancouver.

This time, I thought I had him beat. Brakes changed a month ago, the car mats in place, windshield wipers doing their job, all-season tires deeply grooved. No trips to the junkyard.

Until Friday.

I crashed into a curb and my front right hubcap flew off.

Damn you, parallel parking.

In trying to reattach the hubcap, it broke into bits.

Now that I feel like a gentrification failure in a ghetto, I am eyeing other Toyota Echoes with the sort of covetousness formal religion forbids. Ah, gosh dang it, I am sticking with the junkyard.


Overcuted 


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The most delightful thing in the world happened: I've discovered the cute blogs. More cuddly baby animals than you can awwww!!! at are at Cute Overload! and Adorablog.

Be sure to check out the sixteen baby pandas. I will have fantasies of nestling with the babies for the rest of the day.


Buster Keaton Goodies 


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

We are almost at our one-year anniversary of Buster Keaton love. My buddy MaikoPunk, her husband and I discovered Keaton last January when I took out the free videos from the library.

I've watched quite a few:
  • The General
  • Go West
  • Seven Chances
  • Three Ages
  • The Balloonatic
  • My Wife's Relations
  • The Paleface
  • Neighbors
  • One Week
  • The Goat
  • The High Sign
We also started watching the Saphead, which, all story and no action, did not hold our interest for long. Some day I'll watch it in its entirety to complete my education in the Keaton silents. Thankfully, his filmography and my reliance on the whims of the library loaning system means I've got plenty of time to go before I reach my goal.

MaikoPunk did point out one thing: "we realized Scooby Doo and Bugs Bunny had been ripping off Buster Keaton for sight gags all these years."


Top Ten List of Things I Hate 


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today my sister leaves for the South Seas. On a circuitous route that takes her to Asia, Australia, New Zealand and finally the island specks in the middle of the Pacific, our little sailor is extremely happy to be leaving.

Me, on the other hand, I am experiencing a dull pain around the heart. I don't know about other people; when I am sad I physically feel the pain. It's as though my heart were being smothered in a pocket of velvet.

I really hate goodbyes. Even more so now because, as my sister and I discussed, this time "we hardly argued."

She keeps telling me that she'll be back in a few months. I keep trying to think of my top ten list of things I hate more than goodbyes:
  1. Waking up to find a sock monkey beside me with a butcher's knife in its paws
  2. Groping around for the basement light and feeling a clown nose instead
  3. Opening the fridge door and seeing a roach dart across the uncovered brie
  4. Getting my head stuck in the spaces between the stairway
  5. Pulling clumps of hair from the shower drain and pulling up a dead rat along with the hair
  6. Discovering, upon biting into fruit, that a dismembered worm is wiggling about in search of its missing head
  7. Walking barefoot in the snow while wearing only pyjamas
  8. Inhaling pork fumes after a pig slaughter
  9. Accidentally stabbing myself with the neckbones of a freshly decapitated chicken
  10. Headcheese
Don't mind me. I should be ok in a day or two.


There Have Been Some Changes Around Here 


Sunday, December 11, 2005

I've tidied up the place. After two years of wishing, the colours at the top of this blog reflect my patriotism. Then font is also a better representation of me - it's called "Decomposed" and it has a piratey-zombie-Transylvanian look about it that sums up most of my interests. It's all thanks to Matt.

The About section sprawls less now. I've cut out my cartoon crushes. If perchance someone can't get enough of me, they can also read the work blog or my contributions to Metroblogging Vancouver.

I've also cut out the Now Reading section; it was there to make me read more but long-time readers might have noted I am still reading the same books as in 2004. I need to learn to speed read and finish them off but you guys were no help in prodding me along the path of bookishness. I am attempting another book page to make me read more literature instead of those fascinating but ultimately useless Ripley's Believe It or Not books. More on that when the page is done.

After much thought, I will try out abbreviations in brackets to point out the British Columbian (BC) and Romanian (R) blogs I read. I am not entirely sure if that'll make anyone think, Damn, that's where all the Romanian blogs are, I must go and read them now! I'm hoping it might.

Then there is the Blog Graveyard for those blogs that haven't been updated in six months. Overloaded with sentimental value, I cannot bring myself to erase them. Someone told me to add them to Bloglines and wait for an update; I'd still like, however, to have a link to them in case I ever feel nostaligic enough to read their archives.

Finally I added another new blog, Loud Murmurs, which my friend David writes. David is a refugee from the conservative madness south of the border and has great insights on the great divide that separates Canadian and American societies. His love affair with my city makes me proud of being Canadian and, more specifically, from Vancouver.

There are still two other bigs changes I want to add here. Those will take a lot of work.

Hopefully you like the new look. Thanks for reading!


Beer and Baldness Remedies 


Friday, December 09, 2005

As part of her offensive against impending baldness, my grandmother shaved off all her hair.

"Look, it's growing back already!" she said feeling a tuft at the back of her head in answer to the look on my face.

"Grandma, you missed that spot."

"Oh, poo."

"Doesn't your wig itch?"

"I'm used to it."

"So this is supposed to help your hair grow back stronger?"

"Yes, and I massage a special garlic-alcohol mixture into my scalp. That helps too. The mixture forms when you leave a clove of garlic in a bottle of rubbing alcohol for about fifteen days."

I poured my grandmother her beer.

"Don't pour backwards - that's an ill omen."

"For you, grandma, or for me?"

"For me. By the way, one of these Canadian bottles will accumulate 20 drops of beer after you pour it out. One of the big bottles that we use in Romania will drip out a total of 44 drops."

My grandmother worked in a beer factory for 25 years. She knows all about beer.


Compliment 


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I went ghost-hunting. I received the highest compliment from the "professional" ghost hunters.

"You sure are morbid," they told me.


Coalmont 


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"You should go to this place," said a coworker. "It's just between Coalmont and Princeton. It's like the motel in Psycho."


Morning People 


Sunday, December 04, 2005

This morning I was very disappointed to learn that I am not a morning person.

Oh sure, I've long suspected it.

I sleep through air raid sirens. Alarm clocks are powerless against me. For super-duper important appointments, nothing short of three alarm clocks set to ring at different times in the different parts of the room will get me up.

Yet I thought with the right amount of exercise, an early bedtime and a hot cup of cocoa, I, too, would shoot out of bed in the morning, ready to tackle the day. Recently, however, this strategy is failing. The pull of sleep is winning the war.

It can all be traced back to that old adage, that pet owners become more and more like their pets. Hamsters, the original vampires, are nocturnal. I am a hamster owner. Therefore the strength of the hamster life force is taking over my life.

Take a look at Crenguţă before she wakes up:



Now take a look at her once she wakes up:



Note the fierce look in her eyes, the stance of somehamster about to pounce, the crinkled ears that are the sign of a sleep-deprived hamster.

Already I, too, have constructed a nest of scrunched-up tissues and kicked the roof off my bedroom. It's only a matter of time before I adopt the less savoury aspects of the hamster.

As I revert into hamster behaviour, I wish to issue a warning to anyone who might think of disturbing my sleep.

Like the hamster, I am liable to nip anyone who dares wake me before my inner clock decrees that "sufficient sleep" has been reached. I am, as well, very likely to lunge at anyone who disturbs my tissue nest.

You may scoff. But don't forget that, as a Transylvanian, genetics has handed me a set of fangs.


Fantasy Time 


Friday, December 02, 2005

Now that I am almost fnished my novel's first draft, the fantasizing can start in earnest.

Even more important than writing a novel, is imagining where the novel will take you. Fiction writers have to be good at imaging things. Or else you just end up with Silas Marner.

I went into work yesterday and everyone's panties were in a knot. But I knew that, once I become a rich bestselling author with a movie deal, I'll go into work and the scenario will play out very differently. I let my imagination soar.

For starters, I am going to take up pipe-smoking. It'll make me look dignified and serious, like a Nobel prize winner.

Then I won't even bother getting dressed. I'm going to work in a silk robe. My buddy Stephen King recommended that a burgundy-coloured one suits writers of zombie fiction. Hey, if the expert says so.

I won't even pin my nametag to the robe. I mean, I got to keep some anonymity. All those autograph hounds can get to you, said my good friend Salman Rushdie.

The biggest change at work will be when my coworkers recognize my genius. No more of this interrupting me mid-sentence. My words are worth listening to, as long as Hollywood pays me to pen gorefests.

Acknowledgements

No author would let those who helped her or him along the way go unmentioned.

Assisting me in delusions of grandeur are David and Travis.


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