August 7, 2004

and now for something completely different...

I went shopping with my parents today.

"Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
~Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Do you remember that original series Star Trek episode where the Enterprise crew encountered their alternate universe counterparts? Wicked Spock had a goatee (because all truly wicked people had goatees in the sixties) and everyone was the same but not? It was as though some malicious deity had turned on the "evil" spigot when refilling the crew's delicate life-sustaining H2O balance. Today reminded me of that episode.

It also sort of reminded me of Through the Looking Glass where Alice found herself in a backwards world. A world of highly structured and possibly dangerous nonsense. Where you carefully select your move in the great chess game of life, heading in the opposite direction to where you want to be and talking at length with spiteful flowers along the way. That sort of thing.

Did I mention I went shopping with my parents today?

It's always a surreal experience being part of my family. I feel endlessly like Alice face to face with people who look normal but aren't. They've sprouted goatees overnight and though I keep walking towards them, they get farther and farther away. Logic is useless when dealing with my parents. So is a strict self-discipline. I am constantly telling myself that today is the day I'll be a better daughter. I won't get irritated, offended, and/or engage in pointless debate today. Like Alice "I give myself such good advice but very seldom follow it". It really takes only about five minutes for the caterpillars to start smoking and dopplegangers hell-bent on destroying my fragile peace of mind to pop out of the woodwork.

I think at one point I screamed "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!" It didn't do much good.

Have you ever heard the expression "Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em?" Or "I love you but I don't particularly like you right now?" Both quite appropo.

I went shopping with my parents today.

Then a goateed Vulcan hit me with a phaser blast set to maximum stun and I woke up here, in Wonderland, with all you chess pieces and a white rabbit in a waistcoat.

Of the two sentences, the last one makes the most sense overall.

August 5, 2004

For Skotty

Smurfs and Elves. Much like Lord of the Rings movie canon claims that Saruman bred Goblins with Orcs to create the Uruk-hai, so this new and unholy union is breeding rampant madness within my poor brain. All because Skotty couldn't keep his big mouth shut. As usual. The mind that brought you the revelatory "Lance Bass is Curious George" brain bender is at work again. You've been warned.

What are Smurfs?

Smurfs are half-naked blue-skinned munchkin creatures who are "three apples high" and live in mushroom-shaped houses in Smurf Village. They are fond of replacing words with smurf in everyday speech so questions like "What the hell are Smurfs?" would translate to "What the smurf are Smurfs?". They have stereotypical roles within their society - ie. Papa, Brainy, Painter, Grouchy, etc - and are predominantly male. They are neither particularly wise nor noble but have a high amusement value and are not prone to acts of malicious cruelty.

What are Elves?

I find it hard to believe you're reading my blog and have yet to figure out what Elves are. But in the interests of fair play (and because I love repeating myself on this topic), I'll explain. Elves are immortal creatures of light and mystery who are known as the Elder Children of Iluvatar, The One, the creator of all. Discovered prior to the First Age of Middle-Earth by the Valar, they were named Eldar or People of the Stars. They are ageless, undying, wise and noble beings. They are also prone to flights of fancy or merriment as the mood catches them and tend to shy away from dealing with mortals if they can help it. Elves are tall, elegant, and beautiful. They dwell either in Valinor, the Undying Lands to the West, or in the Elven Realms of Middle-Earth - Lothlorien, Imladris, and Mirkwood being the most noted. They speak either the ancient tongue of Quenya or the more widespread Sindarin as well as Westron (or the Common tongue). "What is that?" would translate to "Mani naa tanya?"

Similarities

Villains
Smurfs: Gargamel the wicked sorcerer and his nasty hench-cat Azrael who are hell-bent on destroying all Smurfs for reasons unknown.
Elves: Sauron the omnipresent Eye of Darkness and his nasty hench-undead Nazgul who are hell-bent on destroying all things, including Elves, for reasons related to jewelry.

Friends
Smurfs: Two human adventurers, one a page boy and one a midget, named Johan and Peewit who first discovered the Smurf Village and are to date the only humans to do so.
Elves: Lots, as immortality is a long time, but most notably eight non-Elven members of the Fellowship of the Ring. Two humans and five midgets among them.

Leaders
Smurfs: Papa Smurf. The one in charge of Smurf Village and the only one who gets to wear red. He's not-so-ably aided by the bossy and moralising Brainy Smurf who is Papa Smurf's biggest fan.
Elves: During the time of the war of the Ring, Thranduil ruled Mirkwood, Celeborn and Galadriel ruled Lothlorien, and Elrond ruled Imladris (or Rivendell). Of all of them Elrond says doom in the most impressive tone though does not wear red. Arguably Celeborn is Galadriel's biggest fan.

Gender Distribution
Smurfs: All male until Gargamel sent the temptress Smurfette to the Village to wreak havoc on all that mini-testosterone. Luckily Papa Smurf's magic intervened and now Smurfette has the distinction of being the only grown female Smurf. The only other female is a tomboyish girl named Sassette who was created by the Smurflings to keep Smurfette company.
Elves: Assumedly there are an equal number of both genders but a scant few females can actually be accounted for. Galadriel, her daughter Celebrian by Celeborn, the legendary Luthien, and Arwen Undomiel. The rest are male. Pretty, silken-tressed, and ruby-lipped but male nonetheless.

Differences

Theme Song
Smurfs: La la la la la la la la la la la...
Elves: What can you see
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come
To carry you home
And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water
All souls pass...

(excerpted from Into The West by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, and Annie Lennox)

Appearance
Smurfs: Tiny (three apples high), blue-skinned, hairless (except for blonde Smurfette and bearded Papa), half-naked, and cap-wearing.
Elves: Tall (six feet or over), pale-skinned, long-haired (raven or white-blonde generally), fully robed in rich velvets, and crowned with mithril.

Purpose
Smurfs: While nobody is really sure, it's widely assumed to be one of entertainment. A form of harmless comic relief. Should not be taken too seriously or else questions like "How do the Smurfs continue their kind with only one female member?" will prove your undoing.
Elves: Conjecture theorizes that Iluvatar intended the Elves to be the keepers of light and purveyors of timeless wisdom. They are bound to the world until it ends and so must pass to the Undying Lands to spend the duration of their days while men muck about in Middle-Earth and mess it all up. And create things like Smurfs.

Really Smurfs and Hobbits have more in common but Skotty had to go and kick-start the insanity by saying "I picture Lothlorien to be much like the Smurf Village. 400 men, one woman, yet somehow the population continues to survive. I wonder if the smurfs were immortal as well?"

Sadly I do actually have an answer to the Smurf immortality question. The Smurfs are all 100 years old and perpetually stalled there - they never get any older. The only exceptions are Papa Smurf, who had just turned 542 at the time of the Smurfs' discovery by Johan and Peewit, and the three Smurflings who are caught in Father Time's wheel and are actually aging in reverse starting at 100.

Curse you, Skotty! *shakes fist* I'm helpless against your "logic".

August 3, 2004

Consumer spending dropped alarmingly in June ostensibly because Americans were spending more time reading. (Two can play at this "scientists find vague link between disparate entities" game.) Though I do find it intriguing that Minneapolis is currently ranked as the most literate city by measuring "the extent to which residents of the USA's largest 79 cities behave in literate ways". The study claims this means buying books and newspapers and checking materials out of the library. I have to ask if that includes purchasing Curious George books, the Weekly World News, and borrowing old copies of Playboy retrospectives from the library. If so, is literate a bit too broad a term? Or should we just be glad that most Americans are able to read the cereal boxes they've apparently stopped buying in mass quantities through June?

There's nothing I love more than these kinds of random studies. Especially with cold hard facts like the following on display: "Of the 20 cities at the bottom of the heap, Texas and California are home to 14 [least literate]." I'll reserve comment on the prevalence of wannabe actors, models, plastic surgery, and Miss America contestants in each state and let you draw your own scientific conclusions.

I mean, I so should have been a scientist. They get to study the most randomly weird things. I imagine a science team board meeting would go something like this:

Head Scientist: Okay, it's been a month since our revelation that carbohydrates actually cause cancer in South Beach Diet patrons. Which, naturally, followed our amazing discovery that a lack of carbs causes cancer in Atkins Diet patrons. We're sort of out of popular diets and variations on carbs so we need something else to study. Let's think outside the box here, guys. Suggestions?

Scientist Peon #1: Llamas?

Head Scientist: Llamas. *ponders* Yeah, okay. What doesn't go with llamas?

Scientist Peon #2: Vanilla Coke?

Head Scientist: Yeah, good. Good! Okay so let's prove something about llamas and Vanilla Coke, okay? I want a theory in 48 hours.

~~ 48 hours later ~~

Head Scientist: Any brainstorms? Uh... I mean data?

Scientist Peon #1: Well I did find that out of 376 visitors to the llama exhibit in {insert random city here} Zoo in the last month, 218 of them had consumed Vanilla Coke sometime that week.

Head Scientist: WHOA! Okay. *frowns* Wait, that's not actually anything. What happened to them because of it?

Scientist Peon #2: Well I found out that of those 218, 166 had eye exams in the last month.

Head Scientist: Oh. My. God. Drinking Vanilla Coke at llama exhibits causes BLINDNESS!

Scientist Peon #1 & #2: *in unison* OMIGOD.

Head Scientist: Okay. Make some pie charts and stuff and get this information out to the public pronto!

Mind you, it's just a working theory.

August 1, 2004

Who was that masked cat?

No matter how many times I explain to Poe that I sleep in on weekends, my words fall on deaf (if cute) ears. She just looks blankly at me with that vague expression that says "I couldn't care less, human". So once again this morning she woke me up. It was a drive-by waking. She cruised in, perched on the edge of my bed, and emitted a fearfully loud yowl right into my ear. "And like that - poof - she was gone" to quote The Usual Suspects.

I dragged my sorry ass out of bed to find her looking smug in the middle of the living room. Now, being rudely awake, I have no choice but to find ways of amusing myself that are not related to bed. So I continued torturing Homie with the godawful music my sadistic parents raised me on. Have you ever tried to have a peaceful summer morning to Kenny Rogers' The Gambler and John Denver's Calypso? MWAHAHAHAHAA!! He'll get me back, though. Generally in the form of Slipknot and Pantera at wall-shaking volumes. Then we'll call a truce and play Marilyn Manson. Followed by the Resident Evil soundtrack.

And on principle I refuse to play the Meow Mix commercial for Poe. Goddammit cat, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET ME SLEEP!!
Corie: There are watchers and there are doers in this world. And the watchers sit around watching the doers do. Tonight you watched and I did.

Paul: Well it was a lot harder to watch what you did than to do what I watched.

~ Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, Barefoot in the Park