Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Mind Blown (in two languages)

I have satellite radio in my car and one of my great enjoyments is listening to a station called Radio Classics. They reair radio programs that were originally broadcast in the 40s 50s and 60s (with an occasional 30s program for good measure).

Tonight I was half-listening to "The Third Man" starring Orson Welles. This episode was "The Golden Fleece" and the characters were talking about some town in Spain. Since I lived in Spain for 3 years my ears perked up, but I couldn't understand to where they were referring. It sounded like "all-gee-see-russ". Finally I figured out that they must be pronouncing "Algeciras" in the anglicised version, but Castilian Spanish speakers pronounce it something like "ahl-heh-thir-ahs" and apparently I think with a Castilian accent which is why I didn't recognise it.  Mind Blown #1 - Spanish

It then occurred to me how much the Anglo version sounded like the television station "Al Jazeera". Good old Wikipedia informed me that a very literal translation from the Arabic to English means "The Island" but actually refers to the Arabian Peninsula.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Algeciras is the gatekeeper city to Gibraltar (of giant rock fame) and is it's only real connection to the mainland of the Iberian peninsula. Perhaps even less coincidentally, Algeciras and most of the rest of Spain spent centuries under the rule of invading Moors from North Africa (like, of course, what is modern-day Algeria) and beyond; and who...wait for it...spoke Arabic. Let's take bets on how/why Algeciras got it's odd little non-Castilian name, shall we? How did I never realise this before? Mind Blown #2 - Arabic

I'm so incredibly nerdy about this stuff, but I don't even care what people think. Language is totally freaking cool. As in radically genio (Spanish). As in totally Momtaz (Arabic).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

All the News Not Fit for Print

Wow - it has been a whole ten days since I posted - lazy me!

Actually, I have been super busy but having a great time.

First, I've been getting to know my new roller derby officiating teammates (well, I'm new - they have been kind enough to take me in and teach me).  I don't know if derby can be a "calling" but somehow I know I'm in the right place and I'm very excited to keep learning and practicing and generally feeling awesome about the whole experience. Plus you'd be hard-pressed to find a smarter, funnier bunch than Team No Fun. :-)

Next - big milestone for my pub quiz team: not only did we NOT come in last place like we usually do, we actually placed sixth out of twelve. They may as well have handed us a trophy the way we were carrying on.  Then again, the Guinness may have had something to do with that. Apparently my vast knowledge about B movies that Tom Hanks made in the 80's actually turned out to be worth something after all. Who knew?

Finally, and probably the most exciting news of all, I'm going back to New Zealand.  I can't believe I'm so privileged to go again and this time I'm sticking to the South Island for hiking, glaciers, a trans-Alpine train ride, maybe a side trip to Wellington and hanging with my mates in Christchurch. Best of all: escape from people everywhere I turn. I love city living, but once in awhile you just have to get away and go outside.

Anyway, not the most exciting post but they can't all be worth writing home about. Just so you know, though; my backside is in a complete pucker knowing I ended the previous sentence with a proposition.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I used to enjoy shopping at JCPenney. Note I said used to - past tense - as it is unlikely I'll be shopping there again any time in the future.

Things were going great when they would send me print adverts with coupons. Those coupons made me feel like I was getting a deal and I felt loyal to a very old brand. Then the markdowns...oh those beautiful hours of hunting through the racks to find the $50 pants for 12 bucks. I have a home filled with JCP housewares and workout clothes (the two types of products for which I've spent much more than one should on things that aren't actually necessities). Good times.

Then in February odds 2012 the screaming started.

Enough is enough.

Oddly enough, those screaming commercials only lasted a month or so, but I've been screaming ever since. JCP suffered an identity crisis in which they thought they were the product of "If They Mated: Wal-Mart Target edition." No sales. No coupons. No damned sense if you ask me. I only went one or twice during that period and I hated it.

Apparently the TICs (a.k.a. twits in charge) went to Dr. Phil who pompously pointed out to them that the new strategy want working out so well. Maybe they just read the sales reports that indicated an exodus of customers not seen since the Old Testament was taking place. Enter reboot #2: back to markdowns and coupons.

The problem though is that while they went back to the gimmicks I loved, they eliminated the selection on brands I like to instead focus on aspirational customers by offering lower-end versions of luxe brands made especially for JCP. Mango for JCP. Nicole Miller for JCP. The Ralph Lauren knockoff line American Living. In-store Sephora. The list goes on and on. Meanwhile, nice mid-line stuff that once gave rise to a wide selection has all but disappeared.

Now finally, the last straw.

I'm trying to improve my health situation by exercising. I like to wear quality active wear that is stylish and doesn't look like I pulled it out of the reject dumpster behind the goodwill resale. As I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of my workout attire came from JCP. AGAIN PAST TENSE because apparently JCP doesn't want my money anymore. Despite fashionable activewear being all the rage during Fashion Week and in every industry publication, JCP doesn't want to focus on affordable options for plus sizes. They have plenty of selection for the skinny set, but we larger people are apparently supposed to either wear potato sack rags to the gym or just stay home.

After a scathing commentary I delivered to the shop girls when they informed me I was shit out of luck if I wanted to look pretty while working out, I left without buying anything. Then I went to the one place where fat people are free to roam without judgement (ignoring the infamous internet website): Wal-Mart.

I hate Wal-Mart. I mean I really really HATE Wal-Mart. I'm not even going to bite you with the reasons - just take my word for it that the feeling is intense. Even so, after I left JCP I promptly went to Satan's living room and dropped $100 on 3 new sets of exercise pants with cute matching tops.

It's bad enough that you pushed me our of your store Penney's, but leaving me to last resort shop at HellMart? For THAT I will never forgive you. You can't see me, but I'm totally flipping you the fin.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Whistle While You Work

Today I'm quite happy.  Not only is it Friday, but instead of sitting here being productive I'm sitting here shopping for my very first real whistle.

Yeah, you read that right - a whistle.  One of those beautiful noisemakers that every child loves and every parent hates.  I'm not talking the little plastic doohickey that comes in the bottom of the CrackerJack box where the pea instead gets all gooey and stuck either.  I'm talking about a sleek, brand new Fox 40 pealess whistle used by referees and coaches the world over! Don't believe me? Check this out from the NY Times: Whistle for N.C.A.A. Tournament Is Instrumental to the Game

Why am I shopping for a whistle you ask?  Yeah, I know you didn't ask but I'm going to tell you anyway.  I'm very excited to report that I'm in training to be an official for the Windy City Rollers - Chicago's premiere women's roller derby league! File that under 'things I never dreamed I'd be involved in'!  Of course I love derby and I love being right there in the midst of the action, but what I love even more is how amazingly wonderful, positive and welcoming this group of people is. After a long day what's more fun than hanging out with friends, getting a little aggression out of your system in the penalty box and clutching a shiny new whistle in your fin?  Another bonus is that there are several other sharks and other professionals in derby so you get a lot of beautifully weird, esoteric humour.  These are my kind of creatures!

My life is pretty feckin' good.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Extra Pepperoni Please

I don't know how how I managed to get all the way to Thursday without posting anything! Oh wait - yes I do - it's because I've done crap-all interesting all week. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly doesn't make for great reading here in the Tank.  Thankfully this week of toiling in the humdrum of the salt mines is almost over so I can find something fun to do this weekend or at least make up a really good live for you so you'll keep reading.

Tonight is pizza night 🍕 which always brings me joy because I'm a simpleton who appreciates globs of greasy cheese plus carb-loading. I've been thinking about my retirement plans and one problem I anticipate is If I end up moving to Hawaii (as I have tentatively planned) then I'm either going to have to learn to make pizza, learn to tolerate frozen pizza, or learn to tolerate hordes of people so I can track across the island every Thursday night to the Whole Foods where they sell slices that don't require you to take out a second mortgage to afford them. Since I'm a non-cooking simpleton with a refined palate for fresh cheese and carby goodness (see above) who is definitely NOT a people person, I may just have to rethink paradise.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's Zombie Night!

I'm sitting here in my jammies, freshly showered, waiting anxiously for the next 22 minutes to elapse so the next episode of The Walking Dead can get started. It's a bit of a recreation of Sunday nights in my childhood when we got ready for bed and then watched Disney before we actually hit the rack.

Speaking of TWD, I observed some weird stuff on social media this week. See, I don't usually follow celebs on Twitter or IG because I prefer to pretend that they are a magical and mystical beings that aren't plagued with the banality of life the rest of us face.  I do make one exception and that is for Norman Reedus. He's pretty darned interesting compared to your average celeb - he wears onsie pajamas and bunny slippers for pete's sake - so the more 'real' he is outside of the character he plays the more magical and mystical he seems.

Anyway, I happened to see a video interview this week where he was opening fan mail. People sent him the most amazing crap. By amazing I mean a little disturbing. Some woman sent him a motorcycle helmet that must have cost a small fortune. Another woman from Korea sent him prints of photos of his son and that were personal/private shots and he seemed visibly distressed to receive them. All over the social media accounts are weird people proclaiming their love and that he is their reason for living.

Meanwhile I'm witnessing this and feeling kind of sleazy for watching it unfold. I realise the fame game is designed to put eyeballs on screens and sell merchandise, but who the hell sends expensive gifts to a stranger!? Who has no sense of personal boundaries that they support the sale and purchase of private photos? And don't even get me started on the psychos whose reason for living is a dude on tv?

On one hand, these are the people who elect politicians so that at least partially explains why governments are so messed up. Really though, it makes me very grateful I'm not famous. I'm somewhat anti-social as it is, so I'd probably be walking around with each middle finger permanently extended. On the rare occasion I decided to show up at a business dinner or a social event in polite company that would probably be verrry awkward.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Back in the Water

Hi blogosphere, I'm back. I'm still irritated with Google for outing my real name when it took over Blogger (and for deleting my holiday photos from my mobile during my misguided foray into the world of Google+), but I kind of miss blogging.  Sometimes 140 characters and a fb meme just don't cut it. Plus, my mobile is semi-permanently attached to my fin so making time for blogging should be a little easier.

It's funny how after being gone for several years and then reading old posts gives you such a sharp view of how much you've changed. Hopefully I'm a more mature, less ignorant shark. I'm sure I'll still impart my fair share of cluelessness and stupidity; but I'll try to do it with a laugh so try to bear with me.

It feels good to be home.