Ţiganii noștrii fără bani 

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tiganii nostrii fara bani!

This photo has been making the rounds among the Romanian diaspora for months. I got it from my sister, who got it from a distant cousin on my cousin's side.

It shows some Romanian gypsies on the Black Sea coast. *Alleged* gypsies - I can never completely tell the gypsies apart from the ethnic Romanians, unless it's a gypsy woman shuffling about with her huge, colourful, dirty skirt.

Furthermore, in this picture, it's the gypsies with money. The Romanian title means "Our gypsies without money." I.e. the ones who make their wives and kids beg for money, or squeeze old folks out of wonderful Romanian antiques to sell at German flea markets. Not that ethnic Romanians are any better, it's just that the crappy ethnic Romanians aren't all that exciting to look at, with their tiny cellphones and their hip hop bad ass attitude.

Check out the jewellry on these dudes*. I wouldn't mess with them. I would, however, tell their kids to scram when I am in a cafe trying to drink.

*Click on the photo for a bigger view.


Top 25 Blogging Peeves 

Thursday, October 18, 2007

1. Long paragraphs.

2. No spaces between paragraphs: it's different when paragraphs have only a single space between them in books or newspapers, on a computer screen, it's as bad as long paragraphs.

3. Blogger commenting: why should everyone have a Blogger profile? I want to go directly to their blog!

4. Truncated feeds: I don't always have time to go to a blog to check the full version. It gets especially bad when I have to play catch-up with a million posts - I usually never bother reading everything.

5. Long posts: I am guilty of this.

6. Posting more than once a day: though I read a few local and specialized blogs every day, I hardly can keep up with others and I end up skimming for something that interests me. When it's a personal blog, I'd rather be reading everything and really getting a feeling for the author's life. Actually, I really love my once-a-weekers - I can even forgive them if they write long posts.

7. More after the jump: no! I usually read over my morning cereal. I can't put down my spoon, click, then pick up spoon. I ain't no multitasker, stop asking me to work so much.

8. Links without comments: I want to know why you want me to go there.

9. More than two columns: I can't concentrate. I am also additionally fussy in that I prefer my sidebars on the right, but that's just going into crazy territory, I know.

10. Posts without titles: someone told me my posts should all have titles. It's made me think about what exactly I write about and makes me keep to one topic. If I have more than one idea, I can make two blog posts.

11. Good blogs that disappear: I still lament the passing of Baboon Ass. With so many inane dead blogs that cling to the internet like pond scum, at least the good ones could remain un-deleted, like rafts of hazelnut wafers among the pond scum.

12. Tiny (or huge) writing.

13. Exciting blogs that peter out after five posts: local museum blogs are pretty bad about this. I get excited that I'll be learning about the history of, say, Coalmont, BC, then nothing!

14. Exciting blogs that spiral out of control because they don't understand blogging: again, in my profession, organizations make blogs that sound more like marketing tools, with rehashed press releases. I can read those elsewhere; I prefer to go behind the scenes, meet the people and find out about the job.

15. No email: so what happens if I am too shy to write a comment to you?

16. Bloggers who don't answer their comments: sometimes someone has five comments, some of them questions...which seem to hover there, all lonely, for all eternity. I really appreciate reading someone who responds, even to thank their commenters. Hey, we're bloggers, not rock stars.

17. Unfeedable comments: sometimes I want to read the comments but I don't want to have to keep returning to the blog to see the updates. I love getting them in Bloglines. Of course, almost all blogs are guilty of this infraction, but with Haloscan and the Metroblogging Vancouver site, you can get your blog posts and comments too.

18. Comments that turn off after a while: what if I want to comment on your long-ago post on 19th Century gorilla-shaped tschochkes? Huh? What, after November 23, 2004, everything that can be said about gorilla tschochkes has been said? What if ground-breaking research has unearthed new gorilla tschochke revelations?

19. Image-stealing: I don't care that much about Mickey Mouse, but when it's just some kid down the street, please ask her before you use her photo, even if the Creative Commons license says "Exploit me."

20. Serif fonts: these belong on the printed page, not the computer screen.

21. Marketing requests made of bloggers: please don't send me requests to blog about your movie...send me a copy first and I might change my mind. I like horror movies and all, by the way, but I draw the line at Hostel, Saw and their ilk. Seriously though, no one reads this blog except a few people who like naked mole rats. I am flattered that you would think I am popular.

22. Spam/Trolls: delete please.

23. Teen accessories: music, moving pictures, stars that follow your cursor around, abbreviations, etc. The "Next Blog" feature on Blogger is what usually brings you to these sites.

24. Status updates: Happens in blogging for beginners, aka Facebook. Usually appears as "Jimbo is Julie ate my corndog." Or "Madeleine is Up at the crack of dawn." I, and others like me, will judge you on your grammar and capitalization.

25. YouTube: I hate it when I have to click that play thing. Almost as bad as something that starts up as soon as you visit the page.

Yes, I am guilty of many of these. I promise to blog about what I do like next.


19. Image-stealing: When I wrote this, I was thinking of the Dallas girl who was made fun of in a Virgin Australia commercial. I don't care if the images are free - surely no one just takes free samples at a supermarket without acknowledging the free sample food giver-outer? I think it's just nice to make a human connection, to thank them for their image, and to let them know where it'll go.

21. Marketing requests made of bloggers: I am not famous. I somehow got into a horror movie niche, over which I am thrilled, but these poor kids making films are trying the blog route of promotion. It kind of died down after Snakes on a Plane failed. Not saying I am not flattered, but I was taken aback.

I had no idea how to even rate these films, and some of them sounded gory, which I actually don't like (unless it's quick, like in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - I hate scenes that linger on people screaming).

Recently I also got something to promote a local charitable event. But, while I want to be a good citizen, I have no idea how someone who bumbles about like I do, can even seriously write about this. I think those of you who read this blog aren't here because I am saying anything worthwhile or new; you're here because you're my friends and want to humour me. The one or two of you who may not know me, I think I just haven't rambled enough lately on about how much I hate Republicans or how I think vampire fiction sucks. I may do so and then you'll stop reading. You think now that I am all about hamsters and Belgian comics.

24. Status updates: I like status updates, but I like them written properly. Sometimes they're hard to read. This peeve should read "Grammatically weird status updates."

25. YouTube: I just don't like to be told "You gotta see this!" then have to sit through 6 minutes or even 2 minutes of waiting for what I gotta see. Most times it's not worth it.

So, do any of you have pet peeves?


More Tintin, Mostly from Snowy's POV 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Photo used by permission of Annie Rhiannon.

Last week, in a flurry of Tintinology, I gobbled up seven Tintin adventures in my quest to read all the (accessible) Tintin adventures in chronological order.

Following The Blue Lotus, is The Broken Ear.

It was great to see Tintin wearing Chinese-style blue pyjamas, a souvenir from his Blue Lotus days, along with the huge Blue Lotus vase from the cover of the previous book. Then, on the ocean voyage, there's cringeworthy depiction of a black waiter, utterly black with shiny brown patches, exaggerated lips and something of a popcorn hairdo, rather like Balthazar the artist's apartment manager's nighttime hairdo earlier in the book. Then again, one of the Hispanic characters is called Señor Tortilla.

Other interesting tidbits: Tintin is very dashing in his colonel's uniform and Snowy goes through a lot in this story. The poor dog gets shot by a bullet and a poisoned arrow, nearly goes off a waterfall, runs into a predatory South American tribe that wants to kill him and pluck out his heart, and is attacked by piranhas. It'll get worse for Snowy in upcoming stories.

Next in line on my Tintin reading list was The Black Island, a Scottish gorilla tale. Snowy has the following mishaps:
  • he somehow ends up with a bandaged face on page 6,
  • he clings to the back of a speeding car,
  • gets hit on the head with a spike,
  • is robbed of his bone by some bully dalmatian-doberman cross,
  • flies out of a runaway trailer when it collides with a tree,
  • gets hit in the head by a falling apple,
  • jumps on a moving train,
  • gets drunk on Loch Lomond Whisky,
  • his plane crash lands in Scotland,
  • gets spanked by Tintin the third time he has a run-in with Loch Lomond Whisky,
  • falls down a cliff while chasing a rabbit,
  • lands in a patch of thistle,
  • gets strangled by a gorilla,
  • is hit on the head with a falling gun,
  • and has a fright from a menacing spider.
According to Wikipedia, this is the only Tintin book in which the reporter physically punishes Snowy.

Yet Snowy also shows his brilliance: he uses a goat to save Tintin's life, he brings a fireman to the chloroformed Tintin lying helpless in a burning house, steals a whole roast chicken (and gives Tintin a mere drumstick to nibble on), he harasses the gorilla, and retrieves a gun from the criminals, getting rewarded with a bone but not that Loch Lomond Whisky.

This book was also cunningly copied into Tamil by children's author Vaandumaama. To get around copyright restrictions, Tintin becomes Balae Baalu, an Indian boy who, remarkably, goes on the exact same adventure, with the Indian equivalent of Snowy.

King Ottokar's Sceptre finds Tintin in the fictional Balkan state of Syldavia. Tintin still has one of his Chinese vases around, though it is smashed at the beginning of the story. The Thomson Twins, as in the previous story, play a big role in this story, and the awful opera singer Bianca Castafiore appears. Oddly enough, though Tintin presumably loses his luggage when travelling to Syldavia - did they throw his suitcase after him when they ejected him mid flight? Did they put his suitcase in the Klow International Airport lost and found? - his Chinese-style pyjamas turn up again when he sleeps over at King Muskar's place.

This time, Snowy
  • is burned by a cigarette,
  • is hit on the rumps with a stone,
  • is ejected from an airplane,
  • is forced to eat a secret note,
  • has the diplodocus bone he stole from a natural history museum in turn stolen by some bully Syldavian mutts,
  • and gives up another bone because of visions of a thunderbolt-wielding maniac of a Tintin.
However, he gets some fancy digs when his actions save the rule of King Muskar XII, and he gets a smart blue ribbon around his neck while his master receives the Syldavian Order of the Pelican. All in all, Snowy gets off pretty easy in this adventure.

Some other King Ottokar's Sceptre comes again from its Wikipedia entry. In the 90s cartoon version, Professor Alembick's evil twin is the smoker instead of the other way around. The cartoons also downplayed Captain Haddock's drinking problem (and apparently made a mute out of Snowy). Though Tintin in America and The Black Island were banned in Nazi Germany because they were set in enemy countries, this book squeaked by despite its criticism of forced unification and its villain, the would-be usurper Müsstler (his name a melding of Mussolini and Hitler).

The Crab with the Golden Claws finally introduces Captain Haddock. His most amusing insult in this issue, among equally alluring fuzzy-wuzzy, anacoluthon, technocrat, carpet-sellers, ectoplasms, etc., is toffee-noses.

Snowy starts off the story by getting his snout caught in a can of crab meat. Tintin admonishes his "dirty habit of exploring rubbish bins." Poor Snowy must not be fed at home because he robs a homeless man of his bone. With regards to the homeless man's bone, my parents told me that they once ate a roast chicken at a Polish restaurant where a poor woman asked for their bones, which she took away in her bag. So there is something about poor Europeans collecting bones. Anyone know why?

Back to Snowy, he has to play the role of "dog," fetching Tintin's wretched magnifying glass and, when Tintin is absorbed in his mystery, Snowy sneaks off behind the couch to gnaw away. I should mention that Snowy has an angry and devious look on his face at this point.

Snowy then:
  • almost gets crushed to death by a pallet of cans of crab,
  • is hit square between the eyes by a champagne cork (but gets to lick the bottle when Tintin isn't looking),
  • clings fearfully to Tintin's back as he climbs from porthole to porthole on a ship,
  • barely manages a tongue-full of Haddock's whiskey,
  • his lifeboat is capsized,
  • his plane crashes in the Sahara,
  • beats up both Tintin and Haddock with a camel bone (for once not being the recipient of paint),
  • is snapped at y Haddock's suspenders,
  • nearly dies of thirst,
  • steals some sort of ham from an Islamic merchant,
  • gets hit with another gun,
  • has his paw stepped on by a thug,
  • gets drunk on wine fumes,
  • and bites a villain on the bum only to have the beaast's crushing weight fall down on him.
Finally, a secret admirer (and concerned animal lover) sends Snowy a parcel of a large beribboned bone.

My favourite Tintin book as a child was The Shooting Star. A little sillier and more sci-fi, this story had cute white mushrooms with red splotches and funny spiders.

But enough about the humans. Let's see what happens to our canine hero. Poor Snowy has the following misfortunes:
  • he runs into a pole thanks to his owner's stargazing,
  • a nasty observatory worker slams a door on his pristine white bum,
  • another spider harasses him,
  • a horde of rats chases him,
  • he gets trapped on a road of melted tar,
  • in a Titanic movie moment, both he and Tintin get splashed with some bracing seawater,
  • he gets seasick,
  • he is almost washed overboard,
  • he gets caught by the tail,
  • he slips on the frozen deck,
  • he topples hot spaghetti onto himself,
  • he has the galley door slammed onto his face,
  • he falls down a ladder,
  • he is sat upon,
  • he is stranded on a plane wing as the contraption takes off,
  • he is plucked off the plane wing by his leash (and nearly strangling the poor thing),
  • he is burned in boiling water,
  • he has an apple core tossed onto his head,
  • he is attacked by a monster butterfly,
  • a mammoth apple crashes onto his head,
  • he has a near-death encounter with a mean-spirited overgrown spider,
  • he has to bite Tintin on the bum (hopefully he didn't get pink eye),
  • he falls down a steep slope,
  • and he is whipped across the snout with a rope.
Yet Snowy displays remarkable brilliance once again as he douses a stick of dynamite with his urine. He also manages to gorge himself on sausages. Most cutely, he dons a bonnet, cape and bootie ensemble (his "best bib and tucker") in the Arctic, proudly proclaiming that he "is going to cause a sensation." Does anybody appreciate our little Snowy? No. They don't even share their whiskey with the poor dear, not even when Captain Haddock, the honourary president of the Society of Sober Sailors, gets an overflowing thimbleful for his tonic. Obviously, Snowy is miffed, alone under the table on page 31.

The Secret of the Unicorn has Nestor and Marlinspike's debuts. This book, along with the other WWII-era books The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Shooting Star and Red Rackham's Treasure, keeps to a less controversial story, centring on a treasure hunt.

From the beginning, we see there is no end to Snowy's suffering. To please his tactless master, he accompanies him to a flea market, picking up some sort of itching parasite as they wander among the bric-a-brac. His sacrifice is hardly noticed and, rather, Tintin blames Snowy for breaking a newly acquired trinket. Only later on will Tintin realize that Snowy's one instance of poor judgment turned out to be a lucky one. Snowy also shows he can answer the phone and bring it to his master.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Tintin adventure without more physical pain for Snowy:
  • a stack of books tumbles onto Snowy's head,
  • he is snapped across the nose by the secret note,
  • a glass of whiskey falls on his face,
  • he is nearly cut through by a sword-wielding maniacal Captain Haddock,
  • he gets dizzy drunk on more whiskey,
  • his tail is stepped on,
  • a dying man's hat blinds him momentarily,
  • he jumps out of a second-storey window,
  • he is twice splashed with mud by careless motorists,
  • he is nearly run over by a speeding villain,
  • and he has yet another glass of whiskey thrown in his face.
Red Rackham's Treasure marks the first appearance of the annoying Professor Calculus. However, Snowy gets a little bit of a reprieve while Haddock and the Thomspon Twins take the flack. But his relatively pain-free vacation comes at a price; Hergé cut his dialogue back. Snowy is almost mute, hardly voicing any complaints about being forced to accompany Tintin in a never-tested submersible.

The poor dog does get drunk again (on whiskey), is caught with a human thigh bone in his mouth, nearly suffocates in Calculus' diving shark, falls on his bottom (with a preoccupied Haddock not heeding his mournful crying), gets slapped on the nose with another rope, and is hit with dirt. Though by the end of the story, he gets his bone. Still, I hope that this doesn't mark the end of Snowy as the little complainer.

The criminals' objectives in these seven stories were:
  • The Broken Ear: a diamond.
  • The Black Island: counterfeit money.
  • King Ottokar's Sceptre: a sceptre through which rule of Syldavia was guaranteed.
  • The Crab with the Golden Claws: opium.
  • The Shooting Star: fortune and possibly fame.
  • The Secret of the Unicorn: a treasure map.
  • Red Rackham's Treasure: the treasure.
Now, to find the next set of books.


Ivan's Birthday 

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ivan's Birthday Dinner 2

Ivan recently turned eleven. That's 77 in dog-human years. After 15 years, 50% of cats are senile. So far, Ivan is still with it.

To celebrate his birthday, Ivan got a plate of his favourite food:
  • A whole can of tuna
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Ground coffee

We didn't let him watch The Godfather, his favourite movie, because we needed to save a present for Christmas.


Disgusting & Shameful Secret Vice 

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I eat powdered milk with a spoon. Not mixed with water or anything. I just like the sweet, stickiness.

It might have something to do with the fact that I was fed formula as a baby. You see, I was a bit bite-y when I was young - my vampire heritage and all - and my mother's doctor told her to stop breast-feeding me or else it would be curtains for her nipples.

Now, the medical profession would have you believe that breast milk pumps up a baby's IQ and bolsters their immune system. Maybe. Maybe for some babies.

But not me. The lack of breast milk hasn't prevented me from being immune to the common cold and dysentry. I drank faeces-laden soup and lived!

Back to powdered milk, Matt recently discovered my dark secret. He bought a large bag of the stuff and then had to go and get himself allergic to dairy products. Not just dairy, but also soy anything, red meat, crab, squid, all sugars (including my collection of twelve jars of honey), wheat, vinegar, alcohol and even duck, for fuck's sake.

What this means is that I have to drink all the booze and eat all the chocolate before it spoils. I just finished my bowl of powdered milk and am on to my second glass of wine. I'm doing this for you, baby!

The powdered milk thing is ok; I like white powdery things. It's when I finish off the wine and milk, that I have to work through the Campari. Now that's gonna be torture.




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