Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Self-Inflicted Blogging Challenge.

I struggled with blogging this month. Not because I lacked for things to blog about. Rather because it takes so much time for me to compose posts. I need to stream line the creative process or this blog is going to die.

Often I'm inspired and start composing posts only to get bogged down in the minutiae of explaining my opinions extremely precisely so that no reader could miss (either by honest ignorance or willful thickness) the needle sharp point I am making.  It's the same self-defense mechanism that my brain defaults to when I find a penny and attempt to make a wish, but get sidelined trying to anticipate any  potential loopholes:
I hope that no one I love -- at present or in the future -- should ever have anything bad -- and by this I mean something really big and awful and painful, not some small and trivial hiccup that's actually an opportunity for personal growth -- happen to them during their entire natural lifespan -- somewhere between 85 and 102 years -- and I want us all to have enough money -- not so much money that we come showboating assholes like the Kardassians, just a normal upper class income amount of money -- to live life to the fullest -- but not so full that we get caught up in status and lose sight of the important things like eating dinner as a family or having time to go canoeing or watching Top Gear -- and appreciate our blessings, and also I wish that Fogo -- the dog, not the island off the coast of Newfoundland where my dad grew up -- would stop digging holes in the backyard.

Hence I'm giving myself a challenge. I will blog every day in March. First drafts of the post must be completed with 10 minutes, edits can be another 5 minutes, and googling and posting an illustrative photo of Benedict Cumberbatch should take another 5 minutes.

Whenever I'm struck for inspiration, I'm going to pick one of these topics



This page is from a Language Arts workbook the boys own and I thought it would be fun to use it here. Lest I just wind up posting photos of my pets and Benedict Cumberbatch for 31 days straight. Huh. Now that I think about it that doesn't sound so bad...hmmm...

My allotted ten minutes is up, so I will end with a picture of myself from last weekend when the family went snowshoeing:


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday. Know Your Enemies -- The Ferengi Edition.


Continuing on from last week, I'm blogging about one of my top three Villainous Alien Species1 on Star Trek: the Ferengi.

What Ferengi look like:




They're short, and bald and give off a troll-vibe. Ferengi men have large ear lobes with ridges of cartilage that extend across their brow to connect the ears. Female Ferengis have smaller lobes. Both genders have teeth filed to sharp points. They display an unsavoury penchant for brocade clothing.

Friend or Foe:

The Ferengi were introduced in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I assume that at some pre-production meeting before the series' release, the show runners decided they needed a new villainous race to replace the now-friendly Klingons.  They created the Ferengi. After the first few seasons of half-heartedly trying to make the audience terrified of a race whose singular motivation is profit, the writers gave up and turned their attention to the Borg, who are definitely FREAKY.

Ferengi became comic relief in later seasons of the Next Generation, are only appear twice in Voyager, and once in Enterprise. Deep Space Nine is the series where Ferengi are regularly featured.




Stereoypical Ferengi traits:

They're greedy and will do anything to secure profit in the form of gold-pressed latinum. To this end they are guided by the "Rules of Acquisition."

Women do not have equal status within traditional Ferengi society and do not wear clothing. Ferengi women are therefore not seen on the series except for two "radical" females on Deep Space Nine.




Prominent Ferengi characters:

(from left to right: Nog, Quark and Rom.)

Quark: A scoundrel with a heart of gold who operates the bar on Deep Space 9. His obsession with wealth, disdain for the Federation and his shifting allegiances should make him easy to hate. But I can't help but like him. He's a breath of fresh (swamp) air.

Rom: He is Quark's brother who at first appears to be an idiot, but is in fact a socially awkward, engineering genius. He marries a Dabo girl, and becomes the leader of the Ferengi homeworld of Ferenginar.

Nog: Rom's son brings shame and dishonour to his uncle Quark by joining Starfleet. Over the course of Deep Space 9 we see Nog grow from a teenager to a Starfleet cadet to a war veteran who deals with post traumatic stress after being injured on the battlefied.

Best episodes featuring Ferengi:

The Last Outpost -- The first episode showing the Ferengi, it's interesting to compare how they the race evolved into something very different.

Captain's Holiday -- Captain Picard goes on a scavenger hunt with a sexy archaeologist with a Ferengi in pursuit. Also Picard wears a speedo -- need I say more?

The Perfect Mate -- Again, Picard gets some sweet lovin'.  This time with a metamorph, played by Famke Janssen, aka Jean Grey from the X-Men. Upon further reflection, the Ferengis aren't central to the plot, but it's still such a good episode and I recommend you watch it.

Little Green Men -- It's about Roswell!

The Assignment -- Rom is very charming in this episode.

Acquisition -- The only appearance of Ferengi in Star Trek: Enterprise. It's very clever.

My overall opinion about Ferengi: 

. I love the Ferengi because they are the complete opposite of stuffy, violent Klingons. At the core of Ferengi story lines you find humour and humanity. The Ferengi obsession with wealth makes a nice counterpoint to the overtly socialist tones of the Federation and reminds the viewer that today we are probably more like this race, than 24th century humans.

º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º 

  1 -- Because I know you are wondering, they are Ferengi, the Q Continuum, and Andorians.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Best thing about the Oscars: Hugh Jackman rushing to help Jennifer Lawrence.

On Sunday I watched the Oscars for the first time in four years. I did not -- and I want to be very clear about this -- watch because Seth MacFarlane was hosting. I watched despite him.  I will not write a list of the many, many things wrong with the Oscar telecast, because Amy Davidson already did a brilliant job in Seth MacFarlane and the Oscars’ Hostile, Ugly, Sexist Night for the New Yorker. 


If Seth MacFarlane were here today (and thank God he's not) I would tell him two things:

1. Don't laugh at your own jokes. This is lesson number one for comedians, I thought. Oh, wait. Seth isn't a comedian. But I think we all realized this five minutes into the broadcast.  He's a voice actor and a producer with delusions of grandeur. Someone (Hugh Laurie, maybe? Seinfeld? Even better: Daniel Day Lewis) should have told MacFarlane he didn't need to supply his own personal laugh track.

2. You are sullying Star Trek by association. Knock it off. Go fan-boy on Twilight, Rivers.

(Yes this is really MacFarlane! 
The man's got nerve making jokes about actresses 
losing weight in anticipation of the Oscars.)

The main reason I watched The Oscars was because of Twitter. It's fun to gossip and snark with my online friends in real time.

Secondly, I watched for the dresses. But there's just so many times I can see a woman in a full-skirted, strapless ball gown before I get bored. I wish sleeves would come back in style.  I did like Anne Hathway's column dress with the halter neck.  If she'd only remembered to wear pasties and asked a seamstress to alter and soften the bodice's darts, it would have been lovely.



Finally I watched to see how well I did with my predictions random guesses. I was way off and managed to only get five categories correct (animated feature, costume, editing, supporting actress and director).

What about you, readers of my blog? Did you watch? Did you have a favourite dress? Do you wish that the Oscar producers cared more about keeping their core audience (women who love Hugh Jackman) happy instead of hiring vulgar hosts in hopes of attracting new viewers?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday: The Klingon Edition.

It's Wednesday! That magical weekday when I share my love of Star Trek with the internet instead of boring my husband (he being a non-Trekkie) to tears by waxing eloquent about anything and everything related to the world of Gene Roddenberry.


This week's topic is inspired by this great sign my uncle emailed me:



Today I'm going to profile the Klingon race.

What Klingons look like:

Thanks to advances in Make-up-ology (aka, the science of make-up) (I just made up that term) the Klingons in The Original Series (late 1960s) look very different from their counterparts in the movies or later series (1979 onward).






The forehead ridges are new. However both later and earlier Klingons favour facial hair and clothing made from metallic-toned fabrics.

Friend or Foe:

In the early days of the franchise, the Klingons were at war with the Federation. Storylines often paralleled relations between the US and Soviet during the time the Original Series was in production. When the Next Generation went on the air in 1987, the Cold War was winding down and the US and USSR were no longer enemies. So it was natural that the Next Generation present the United Federation of Planets and Klingon Empire as allies.

Prominent Klingon characters:


Worf appears on both the Next Generation and Deep Space 9. He's a member of Starfleet, has a son named Alexander, woos Deanna Troi, but marries Jadzia Dax. All the while he blathers on about restoring the honour of the House of Mogh.


B'Elanna Torres is the engineer on Voyager, and is half Klingon, half human. She is one of the rebels brought onto the ship after it reaches the Delta Quadrant. She argues a lot with everyone on the ship all the bloody time. Then she marries Tom Paris and has a baby.

Stereoypical Klingon traits:

They're often angry and violent. They tend to be stubborn with no time for pleasantries. Klingons are preoccupied with honour, and eat disgusting foods. I like to make the analogy that Starfleet officers are Athenians to the Klingons' Spartans.

Best episodes featuring Klingons:

The Original Series' The Trouble With Tribbles, and the Deep Space 9 revisit, Trials and Tribble-ations are both excellent episodes that feature Klingons.

Two of the very few episodes I enjoyed of Star Trek: Enterprise are Affliction and Divergence which help to explain the altered appearance of the Klingons of Kirk's era and the 80s versions.

Voyager's Prophecy is a Klingon-centric episode that held my interest.

My favourite Next Generation episode showcasing Worf is Parallels.

My overall opinion about Klingons:

I'm not a fan. Could you tell? Klingons tend to appear in episodes that are full of violence and devoid of humour. They're just not my cup of prune juice.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This post is about my cat.

It's been five months since we placed the cats on a diet and Ezri is finally starting to look slimmer. Not that it's apparent in this photo:


If you ever encounter Ezri in this position, please attempt to scratch her belly. She'll curl in a ball around your hand and deliver a gentle nip. Then her face will light up as if to say, "In biting you I have sated my primal need to taste flesh. Now I'm free to go back to eating elastic bands! AND NAPPING. Good times!"

Until last week I was despairing about Ezri not losing weight despite her new/expensive diet food. Klaxon responded by developing an exercise program for her. If we are walking somewhere and we pass Ezri, we pick her up and carry her to a different location. The idea being that she will walk back to her previous location (usually the chesterfield or my bed). Ezri doesn't know that we are trying to make her exercise, she thinks we are attempting to diversify her nap locations. Upon being set down, she is quite happy to puddle on the floor and sleep for several hours before getting up, walking to the back hall and showing off her new/only trick: prying open the lid to her food container and having a snack.

However, in the last few days I realize she is losing weight. She's still obese. We still can't palpate any of her bones (as they are hidden under fat pads). However, her head no longer looks freakishly small compared to the rest of her body. 

 
Good job, Ezri, your sizable rump is no longer making your head look like a grape!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Not a happy post.

A partial list of things that annoyed me today:

- the chicken paprikash I made for dinner was too spicy. In order to save dinner, I pulled the meat out of the gravy, rinsed it off, dumped the gravy, and stewed the meat in a clear broth. In the end it was edible, but I was kind of hoping for a dish that warranted a few more colourful adjectives. I suspect the blame lies not with my cooking skill or the recipe, but because our paprika is some super-spicy variant.

- Bryan Adams' new baby is named Lula RosyLea. Because Mirabella Bunny's sister obviously needed an equally stupid name. Adams' named this child after the song Be-Bop-A-Lula and a creative spelling of a slang term  for ‘a cup of tea’. The random capitalization in RosyLea is the worst part. Also I can't shake the feeling that Adams is too old for this shit. His daughter's have names that seem more appropriate for children born to glamour models and football players.

- after logging onto the Vancity website to check the balance on a prepaid credit card, I received this message:


Figuring it was better to get the security check out of the way, I clicked through  (but only after screen capping the page, because I was already suspicious) to 10 questions that were OBVIOUSLY not related to security, but attempts to profile users. Since I'd already logged into the site with my password AND the site featured a https address AND because it was aesthetically exactly like the main Vancity credit card page AND I needed to know my balance immediately, I figured I had nothing to lose. I answered the questions. Sort of:


True to my answer to the last question I went on twitter and complained. I received these responses:


I don't know what to make of this. For one thing I'm not so sure that I was on a phishing site. Like I noted earlier: I did visually check the address and noted the security hypertext tag AND I was already logged onto Vancity's credit card site before I got the weird message. Also as soon as I clicked onto submit, I was directed to my credit card account with all the correct transactions. This last part is most distressing and makes me wonder if this is a phishing attempt sanctioned by Vancity or done on the QT by one of their employees. They're not my usual bank, and I don't have a particular positive opinion of the outfit. Any thoughts? Advice?


UPDATE: EVERYTHING IS ACES WITH MY ACCOUNT! 
Phew. I spoke with VanCity and the questions 
(which I still think are ridiculous and strange) are legitimate. 
Check out the comment left by Anonymous (February 15, 2013 at 5:17 PM) for a quick overview.


-I watched What's Your Number while working-out today and yesterday. It's a good movie with a different take on rom-com conventions and Anna Faris is very funny. But. BUT! I couldn't get passed her hair. It was the colour and consistency of straw. It was distracting but I think with a little bit of tweaking she would look so much better. This makes me shallow, right? Also a hypocrite, since I'm hardly a style maven.

- I fell while walking the dog at lunch. As I tried to keep myself from tumbling I felt a vibration in my tibia and I sensed that it was *gulp* starting to bend. There was a sharp stab of pain deep beneath my muscles at the core of my calf. Then I twisted my ankle. And tore my inner thigh muscle. Landed heavily on my hand. Wrenched my arm. Strained my neck. Lost my dignity.

A second after I landed, I rolled onto all fours, catching my breath and wondering if I'd actually broken my leg. I took a few deep breaths and looked around for Zarf and Klaxon. They were squealing with equal parts horror and delight. When I'd started to fall, I'd flailed my arms and accidentally launched a poo bag high in the air.  On it's way up and it's way down, it narrowly missed hitting them. As fans of physical comedy they were in hysterics. Their laughter made me feel a bit better. But my humiliation and pain were not over yet.

Just then Fogo bounded up, mounted me and started humping.

Happy Freakin' Valentine's Day!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

When he got home from work Mr Wrath gave me the gift of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It helped my mood immeasurably. As did these cards:











How was your Valentine's Day?


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday: Number One

The basic premise for Star Trek is that 200 to 300 years in our future, Earth has joined the United Federation of Planets, a United Nations-style intergovernmental body. The main characters are members of Starfleet, a space faring armada whose main goals are exploration, defense, scientific research and diplomacy. All five series are set on space-faring vessels or stations and the shows' casts always include a captain, a doctor, an engineer and assorted bridge officers. One of these will always be a token alien whose behaviour adds comic relief. Ah -- but that is a post for another time.

This time I'm blogging about each series' First Officer, aka the second-in-command, aka executive officer.


Commander Spock:
"I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic circuit using stone knives and bearskins."   (City on the Edge of Forever)

Spock does double duty as the Enterprise's science officer and second-in-command. The strength of the character is when comparing the linear, logical thoughts of Spock with the impulsive, rash actions of the mercurial Kirk, his captain. He's a good commander to have in both war and peace. I really identified with the character during my teenage years when I was a slave to frequent emotional swings.

Commander William T. Riker:
“What’s a knockout like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?”  (11001001)

When the Next Generation premiered it was natural to discuss and compare the new crew to the original crew. In short order Riker was deemed the New Kirk. He goes on all the away missions. He is in more fire fights than Picard. He raves about his hedonistic shore leaves on Risa. He has sex with more alien ladies. He is such a Kirk. He also plays the trombone, the sexiest of all brassy horny instruments.

Major Kira Nerys:
"The fact of the matter is, I've already been where you're going. I've lived the life you're choosing. Fighting, hit and run, always outgunned, living on hate and adrenaline... it's not much of a life. And it eats away at you, so that every day a little bit of you dies." (Crossfire)

Whereas Spock is the calming influence to his captain's emotional impulsiveness, Kira Nerys is a hothead who often needed to be managed by her commanding officer. She's a former foot soldier, a solid tactician, an abject failure as a diplomat and a very religious person. All these facets make for a great character that develops and grows through the series. Also she has more than her fair share of love interests, but is no Riker.

Commander Chakotay:
“Trapped on a barren planet and you're stuck with the only indian in the universe who can't start a fire by rubbing two sticks together.”  (Basics, Part Two)

It's really depressing to watch the first and second season of Voyager. They're actually very enjoyable, but it drives home that the series developed into something far removed from the initial premise.  In later seasons story lines focus upon Janeway, Seven of Nine and the Doctor with the talents of the ensemble cast wasted. There's a nice amount of friction between Chakotay and his captain in those early years, but sadly he is pushed to the side after season 4. Things I like about Chakotay: he is a good looking, strapping man who doesn't care if people dislike him for making tough decisions.

T'Pol:
"One of the first things a diplomat learns is not to stick his fingers where they don't belong."  (Unexpected)

Like Spock, T'Pol does double duty as science office and second in command. She's also a Vulcan. But she looks better in a one piece lycra jumpsuit than Spock. Her relationship with her captain evolves through the series but it never develops to the level of friendship and trust seen by the principals on TOS. Mostly because it was apparent that T'Pol's captain is a numb-skull with Daddy issues. Jolene Blalock did admirably adding levels of complexity to a character that the writers struggled to use effectively.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pots.

Back in 2001 my husband requested a Le Creuset dutch oven for Christmas.  I had no idea what this meant so I turned to my shopping guru, my mom.  She translated that my husband wanted cookware similar to the orange enamel cast iron pots she owned during the seventies.

Ah. The seventies. The golden age of orange household decor.


I tootled off to London Drugs and bought my husband a monster-sized, not-orange (blue, in fact) dutch oven. It holds 6.9 litres (for the Americans reading this, that is about 7.25 quarts). Because this was before Teh Oprah popularized the brand and drove the prices sky-high, I bought it for $129 AND I got a free frying pan with my purchase. Today a similar sized pot runs at least twice that amount. With no free frying pan.

I didn't mean to start off this post by ranting about Teh Oprah or referencing the seventies. Both of these are blights on our cultural landscape and it's best I set aside my frustration and focus upon the reason that I started this post. Which is...

Last year I bought a Le Creuset frying pan and it's gotten horribly stained and no amount of soap and elbow grease would make it less disgusting.

See:


And here it is now:



It's not perfect but at least it doesn't look utterly unhygienic. This miracle of cleanliness comes courtesy of Easy Off oven cleaner. I sprayed it on for 20 minutes, wiped it off with a damp sponge, rinsed the pan under warm water, did another spray, another 20 minutes, wiped, and rinsed. I should probably do another round, but I ran out of time.

Confession: Remember that free frying pan I mentioned earlier? I tested this method on that pan first. It was "FREE" after all.


It looks damn fine, too.

If you're going to try this, I highly recommend wearing rubber gloves and not suing me if the whole thing goes tits up.