Let’s End July With …


BEIJING (AFP) – One of the world’s hairiest men Yu Zhenhuan, a rock singer who calls himself “King Kong,” has launched a campaign to run in next year’s Olympic torch relay, Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.The hirsute Yu, from the northeastern province of Liaoning, says he is a perfect candidate.

“The Olympics belong to everyone — those with abnormalities included,” Yu was quoted as saying.

“First I am a celebrity, inside and outside of China and secondly, I think my experience in coping with a disfigurement ties in with the notion of Olympic spirit.”

With hair covering 96 percent of his body, Yu is pipped in the Guiness Book of Records by two Mexican brothers dubbed the world’s hairiest with 98 percent coverage.

His torch relay bid is backed by Olympic champion Xing Aowei, who won a gymnastics gold medal at the Sydney Games in 2000.

“In him, I see the perseverance and bravery of the Chinese people,” Xing told Xinhua. “I will help him with publicity and give him some ideas.”

The Beijing Olympic organizing committee said Yu was welcome to apply.

“But it is hard to assess his chances, as the recruitment is open to everyone,” a spokesman was quoted as saying.

The Beijing Olympics torch relay will pass through 135 cities and cover 137,000 kilometres (85,000 miles) in its 130-day journey around the world, much if it by plane, and through mainland China.

A total of 21,880 people are being recruited as torch bearers for the China leg.

If this guy is picked, I hope he knows to wear something flame retardant when he’s running. Burnt hair stiiinks.

Music … Random Thoughts

Between thoughts of travelling and boys dancing through my head the last few days, I didn’t actually think my bloated brain would have room for much else. But for some reason, my mind has been turning to weird and completely unrelated thoughts about music. For instance:

Songs on repeat. Do you ever remember certain songs from when you were a kid? Not like kids’ songs, but cheesy songs that, for whatever reason, were played repeatedly to the point that, they lodged themselves deep in the folds in that part of your brain that deals with memory, and then all you need to do one day 20 years later is sneeze, and it sets them off in your head like faulty firecrackers?

Two songs that do this to me for whatever reason are “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce and Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together”. How cheesy can you get, right? But every morning in first grade, every kid – and I mean, EVERY single one – had to participate in the Health Hustle before they started class for the day. And those two songs played without fail.

I was talking with a colleague today and he made a reference to “Leroy Brown” … and poof! the memory was triggered. And now, every time a work-mate sings Captain and Tennille at karaoke or I watch those Telus commercials, well, all I can think of are jumping jacks and knee-bends.

Mix-tapes. I was just thinking about this today. Remember back in high-school – before CDs exploded as the method of choice for listening to music – how you and your friends would make mixed tapes for each other? And it would be the coolest thing you could do for someone?

And it wasn’t just the effort you poured into taping the songs onto the cassette. If your friends were really creative, they’d like, decorate the leaf of thin cardboard that went inside the case with letters and pictures they cut out from magazines. I still have the one my friend made for me, which says “SOLID GOLD PRESENTS GROUND CHUCK” on the front.

Word up. Kids these days just don’t understand what they’re missin’.

Colourful tunes. I don’t know what made this come to mind … and perhaps this is a freaky thing that only certain musical people might understand …. but I remember when i was younger, I’d sometimes see colour when I’d hear certain songs. No, I’m not nuts or stoned right now. I mean, when I’d hear certain music, it would make me think of certain colours. Although when I really liked a bunch of songs, they’d sometimes all be the same colour.

And to this day, I’ve only come across one person – an adjudicator at a music festival I went to as a flute player in junior high or high school – who actually used colour when describing a musical passage. I actually got excited about it (but you know that you can only silently get giddy about these things for fear of totally singling yourself out as a weirdo).

It only happens to me once in a while nowadays when I’m listening to music. But seriously, if there’s anyone that reads this who gets what I’m talking about, lemme know. Otherwise I’m declaring myself officially weird right here, right now.

“Seasonal” songs. There are always certain songs that I remember hearing growing up – even now – that I’d consider “summer songs”. They don’t necessarily have the word “summer” in the song, but you might hear them in the summer, and from that point on, you just associate them with summer. Like, it would just be weird to hear them at any other time in the year. Do you have any songs that you personally consider a “summer” song? Just curious.

Okay, weird post over. Less than 17 days before I jump the pond and kick it, Spanish-style.

Le Sigh, Part Deux

Yes there’s more, if you’ve read the post below.

If you haven’t read it, scroll down one first.

Okay. So, I got invited to Real Nice Guy’s party and The Twinge came back. Hoo, boy. What awkward timing.

So my friend (Birthday Girl #1, Real Nice Guy’s close friend … not Birthday Girl # 2, who went out with him) and I went to the party. It was good, but kinda weird. I didn’t really know anyone there – there’s an age gap – and I tried my best to talk to people here and there where I could.

We did talk here and there, though not very long. I was just trying NOT to act like a complete goof.

Then Birthday Girl # 1′ s boyfriend came over, and they hung out for a bit.

Then it was time to go. I thought it would be a bit like the last time.

I went to say goodbye, and then he decided he wanted to try and dance with me. I’m horrible with dancing that involves another person’s hands, feet and coordinated steps. I tried, awkwardly, and laughed, a bit embarrassed.

After we hugged and said our goodbyes.

And that’s where things stand. He’s right now somewhere in southern Africa, and by the time he returns, I’ll be over in Spain. So I probably won’t see him until September.

And by then, it could be a completely new ballgame.

I just hope when I return I get a chance to play the field, instead of riding the bench like I normally do.

Le Sigh.

I’m sure it’s the dog days of summer really setting in, but I’ve been feeling restless all week. It’s like my brain, amid all this self-inflicted panic and worry, has decided it can’t wait three weeks for my vacation and decided to take a bit of a mini-vacay for the time being.

But I know that’s not the only reason.

Remember Real Nice Guy? I’m sure he has something to do with it, and I’m hoping it’ll pass soon. In case you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, read this first to refresh your memory.

Here’s what’s happened – or not happened – since that last post:

A week after the night my friend – Birthday Girl # 2 – and Real Nice Guy hit it off, a small group of us, including them, went out one night back in June (for North by Northeast) ’cause his roommate and their band was playing.

Even though I knew what the score was, I was dying to hear it from the horse’s mouth. She hadn’t said a word about it since that weekend.

So a bit later on in the evening, when she and I went to the restroom, she gave me the Coles Notes version. They went out a few days after the “magical” night (which apparently involved them talking until the wee hours of the morning). She says she liked him and vice versa. But …


Apparently the confidence he’d had with a few drinks evaporated a bit when the two of them were sober. And so she got the sense that she’d intimidated him a bit, so she was playing it cool for the time being.

So, there I had it. Or so I thought.

We listened to the band in the packed room. “We” being myself, and Real Nice Guy. Birthday Girl # 2 and our other friend retreated to the bar to sit and chat. That was pretty much where they stayed the rest of the entire set.

The plan after that was to go en masse to his place and hang out there. But my friends were still talking, and they said to me, “Oh, you can go ahead. We’ll catch up.” My face was like, “are you sure?” and I said as much, but I then I thought, okay, whatever. So off I went with the rest of them.

Back at his place, a group of us were just hanging out, drinking and talking. Soon a couple of African drums came out, and away they went. I tried to learn how to play, but I was embarrassed at the lack of coordination and stopped after awhile.

Sometime later, my friend called Real Nice Guy and talked to him for a couple minutes.

Then he passed his cell to me.

She told me she and our friend wasn’t coming … and that she decided that she wasn’t going to pursue anything because of what had happened earlier in the week. She added, “I think you’re more suited for each other. So you can get to know him better and chat with him until sunrise.”


I don’t think I processed what she said at first. I left a little while later (but not before getting one of the warmest hugs ever. Sigh).

The following day, I wrote her back. Eventually she responded: yep, she said what she’d said the night before.

But then I started feeling weird about the whole thing. I mean, deep down, I’d wanted a crack at him. And then when I didn’t get one, I got frustrated. So when I had that conversation with my friend (Birthday Girl # 2), it was as if I wished that things wouldn’t work out and then it actually happened. So in my mind, it almost felt like it didn’t happen fair and square.

My big hang-up about it was the age gap between us. He’s not the older one of us two.

Even my other friend who was there that night out at NXNE, was telling me on other occasions that she thought that he liked me … and that I should do something about it.

Then I started feeling really weird about it … maybe I was just nervous … and I think I stopped liking him because of that. I remember him inviting me to something a few weeks later. Then I got sick, and by the time the event rolled around, I didn’t even have the strength to go.

Fast forward to last week. So Real Nice Guy decided to have another party and invited me. So I said sure, since I was feeling loads better. I didn’t think anything of it until I read the invite again.

He was going travelling for a month and wanted to hold a shindig and stay up all night so he’d sleep on the long flight over.

He’s travelling? I thought. And then I felt a twinge. I thought it was my envy at his impending adventure. But after a few moments it kinda felt like the one I felt the night of the party back in May.

The Twinge.

Ebb and Flow (or Calm and Panic)

So, it’s a bit trying for me the last week or so.

I mentioned briefly that I decided last weekend to go to Spain alone.

Since then, it’s been a series of fits and starts. Mainly because I’m not happy at the amount of money I’m spending. But mainly because of my fear of the unknown, and my anxiety that this won’t be the vacation everyone keeps telling me it’s going to be.

Really, all I care about is meeting people, not getting robbed or worse, and having a well-rounded experience in a country I’ve always wanted to visit. I just don’t to be one of those people who complain on those online travel reviews about how someplace sucked or that people were unfriendly or indifferent.

But I think the hardest part has been charging the ol’ credit card. Last week, I sucked it up and bought my airfare. Between yesterday and today, I dropped another wad on accommodation – and that’s only for the first two places I intend to visit (I’m supposed to be going to five locations over 17 days).

But so far my panic’s been briefly counteracted by a brief calm of having gotten the hard part over with each time I finish booking something. And it’s also been helped by people who have been supportive of me taking the plunge, and even more so when people who have been over there (or at least to Barcelona and Grenada, so far) have been enthusiastic and willing to give me information.

I think the excitement of it all won’t sink in until that last booking has been made and I can sleep at night knowing that the hard part will be over.

Ripping off Writers …

Is not cool, no matter how you slice it.

I received an e-mail from a friend of mine yesterday, with a link to an article I’d read in Maclean’s a few weeks ago.

The premise: Canadian newspaper columnist Rebecca Eckler wrote a book, Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be, which was released two years ago in the U.S. She’d been looking into the possibility of selling the movie rights when last year, she found out that a movie of almost the same name as her book was going to be released the following year. Turns out the movie in question has been a success in the theatres this summer.

It also turns out that – according to Eckler – the movie has way too many similarities to her book. So for the last year, she’s been seeking legal action against the writer/producer behind the movie, as well as the film studio.

(Click here for the link to the Maclean’s article, in Rebecca’s words.)

My friend says she was going to go see the film, but held off due to the controversy. She has opted instead to watch the film online illegally, so as not to support the company backing the film.

I’m of two minds whether to see it at all, whether legally or not. Not that I’m a fan of Eckler’s, but as someone who one day wants to write books, this situation bothers me a bit too much.

Not that I’m an expert in the legal wranglings or formal protocol of the movie business. But from what I understand in this day and age, if a film company really, really wants to make a book into a movie, they usually go through the proper channels of asking to buy movie rights. Right?

If this Judd Apatow guy really wanted to make this movie based on Eckler’s book, why didn’t he just do that instead? I mean, he works for a studio that’s not doing too shabbily in the revenue department. And I’m pretty sure that whatever costs were involved in buying movie rights wouldn’t even put a dent in the amount of movie sales this film has pulled in so far.

Whether the truth will emerge about whether this guy actually, wilfully stole Eckler’s story for his own commercial gain remains to be seen.

But for someone who works for quite a while on a piece of fiction – especially if it’s their first – it’s kinda scary to know that when you share it with others, you’re taking the risk of having someone use it in another medium withour your expressed consent and try to pass it off as theirs.

Sure takes the sting out of all those “plagiarism is bad” lectures you get in school, doesn’t it?

To Review …

Okay, so remember back on January 1st, when I spoke of all the things I’d like to try and do this year?

Let’s see where I’m at, shall we?

I said I wanted …

A better job. And I guess you could say I got it. Better hours, better pay, smaller (and nicer) staff. I do have my bad days, but as far as I know, they’re not as bad, now that I’ve set up a routine for my job. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. (I could do with a bit of overtime, though. Or the equivalent of a few days of time in lieu. Maybe in the fall.)

To be more aggressive with saving money. Ehhhhh …. I’m trying. I still lapse often. But I’m making that concerted effort to sock away money to reach my personal goal of a downpayment next year. Still a work in progress.

To learn something useful. I’ve been enrolled in a once-weekly Spanish class since mid-May. I like my class and my teacher. But I think I may have kissed the old university work-ethic goodbye when I graduated more than seven (!) years ago. I’m tryin’, though. I also got a new learner’s permit for driving. At the very least, I have new ID when I go to bars. Heh.

To do something I’ve never done before … and go somewhere I’ve never been (respectively). This turned out to be a 2-for-1 deal. I mentioned I always wanted to go to Spain. On Sunday, after weeks and weeks on waiting on friends who dropped out or went AWOL, I threw up my hands and decided: I’m going to Spain. By myself.

So far I’ve booked my plane tickets. Now I just have to work on accommodation and travel details. This could be the trip – and the much-coveted belated 30th birthday present – I’ve been waiting for. Or it could be the stupidest thing I’m about to do.

To fill my one-date quota. Um, check. You can re-read it here.

7) To get a piggyback ride. And I did! Woot! My friend Mia is the strongest woman under five-foot-five I’ve ever met. Carrying me around her friends’ condo during a party, after 1 a.m. in the morning, and NOT getting a hernia, warrants an award of some kind. Thanks – I love you :).

So I’m fulfilling basic requirements on most of my “wishes”. Now I’m hoping this is the part of the year that provides the extras.

To The Suburban Cyclist …

A word to some of the cyclists who live in my area:

I officially dislike you. Immensely.

There’s a reason those raised pieces of cement off the main roadways, sometimes fringed with plots of grass, are called SIDEWALKS. NOT sidebikes. It’s for people like me who use plain old pedestrian power to get around. NOT for you guys.

I do NOT appreciate the fact that, not only am I taking a huge risk crossing street corners, even WHEN I have the right of way, but also when I’m walking along on the sidewalk, and you’re too lazy to ride AROUND me.

I can understand little kids riding on the sidewalk because it’s too perilous for them to be on the road unsupervised. But grown adults?!

And yes, I’m specifically talking to you, Mr. Almost-Ran-Me-Down-Last-Night-As-I-Got-Off-The-Bus. On two wheels, you move a lot faster than I do running, and I’m pretty sure you saw me get off the bus and had enough time to find a way to bike around me. But you didn’t. You scared the crap out of me with your, “Excuse me!”, almost mowed me down, and then proceeded to try and nervously smile and make some lame-ass small-talk.

What’s that? You don’t know HOW? Well, then you shouldn’t be riding a bicycle.

Otherwise, if you want to indicate to me to move to one side (which I shouldn’t even be doing in the first place), then get a bell or a horn for your damn bike.

And I don’t care about your personal views on preferring to run me off the pavement because you don’t want to hurt the grass. You should have thought of that sooner.

Now, not all cyclists in the suburbs are like this. I’m sure there are those who use the road, or reserve their bicycling to parks and whatnot.

For the rest of y’all, take some lessons from your fellow cyclists who bike downtown all the time, alongside just as many – if not more – cars on the roads … use the street.

Better yet, since we’re in suburbia, use the bike lanes where they’re provided. And believe me they are provided – the city even offers maps. See? That’s what they’re THERE for.

Just stop using sidewalks if you’re skilled enough to pedal, stop and steer. I should be more concerned about the outside chance a car might jump the curb. Not you guys.

Bits and Bobs

I have to apologize for the lack of posts. It’s been a bit nuts, and that’s due to a bunch of factors: the weather, burning the candle at both ends, getting sick, etc.

I don’t know how diligent I’ll be this month, but I’m certainly going to try and make an effort. But here’s a selection of random, unrelated happenings I just haven’t gotten around to sharing with y’all …

Summer sickness sucks. So as I might have mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently ill. It lasted almost three weeks. No, it wasn’t the flu. And it definitely wasn’t stress. I had no idea WHAT it was. It was awful. I felt uncomfortable all the time. I dropped five pounds. I was convinced I’d finally either (a) gotten that ulcer my mom warned me comes with much worrying, or (b) contracted that killer tapeworm that was going to eat me to death.

The doctor had me take a blood test and provide lab samples (the type I’m not going to disclose here because it’s, well, gross). And then they said, “We can’t find anything.” That was last Tuesday. And very dissatisfying, since I’d been convinced that I had some kind of bug.

Today, however, there was a development. Turns out they were premature in telling me they couldn’t find anything in my lab sample. Because lo and behold, about a couple days later, a germy little guy that’d been having a party in my sample decided to rear its ugly head. Turns out I had – say it with me boys and girls – Giardia, also known (unfortunately) as “beaver fever” among the camping and backcountry set. But I haven’t been camping. I also haven’t been in a nursery. So chances are I either ate or drank something that was contaminated. Anti-dining-out-movement, 1. Me, zero.

He’s baaaa-ack … oh, and so’s he. The night before I started coming down with The Fever, my friend and I were walking home after a night out. (Well, she was walking home; I was walking east to reduce my cab fare home.) As usual, our conversation drifted on to the subject of guys – why occasionally there’s a spark in a chance meeting with someone, and then it proceeds to never work out. I made mention of 59a (who I will now refer to in future as Actor Guy – click the link for the back story) and how it sucked that he went to L.A.

My friend said, “Oh, he’s back now.”What?” I asked. “Are you f—ing kidding me?”

Apparently – and not being in the TV/movie business, of course I wouldn’t know – he went down for show pilot season. I guess he worked on a bunch of pilot episodes for a potential new show, and he then came back here, where he’ll stay until or unless he gets word the show gets picked up by a network.

So he’s since been back and has been playing soccer with my friend and their actor/theatre buddies.

I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Actor Guy for proof of this return, and I probably never will. But who knows? (This is one time I REALLY want Fate and Circumstance to prove me royally wrong.)

On the other hand, someone I hoping NOT to hear from for a long time surfaced in e-mail. Shakespeare (remember this, this and, oh yeah, the second section of this?) dropped me a note to send me the latest installment of the online poetry newsletter he publishes monthly – and because he wondered what happened to me.

“You simply disappeared,” he wrote. “I was hoping to see you on MSN … but no way!”

Truth is, I finally blocked him on MSN this winter (because of a meeting last June which I won’t get into – but is partially explained in the third link above – but it completely alienated me, to say the least). And now I’m never really on it, anyway. There’s been no time. And my computer at home’s broken, so there you go – legitimate excuse.

Perhaps it’s shallow and immature of me to still be so rigidly opposed to any sort of friendship. However, I’ve never felt comfortable with him, because in my eyes, he set the standard for that discomfort. Where I gave a cautious inch, he tried to take a foot. And it’s not something I want to deal with after being free of it for over a year.

This may not be the last I’ll be hearing of him. He says he’ll be letting me know when he’s next in Toronto. I’m hoping it’ll be much, much later than sooner. He’s threatening to appear in September. I’m hoping to make myself scarce. Or at least unavailable.

Summer daze – it’s really here.
I think that mid-summer glaze everyone gets on their brain has finally set in. Monday morning, after waking myself long enough to don my gym clothes, eat some cereal and get all my essentials for the day into my ginormous backpack, I managed to make it to the bus stop on time. Work ID? Check. Metropass? Check. Keys? Check.

The bus arrived, and I boarded, flashing my card to the driver as I passed him. It was only when I sat down and settled my belongings that I looked at the card in my hand. I had shown the driver my gym pass, which looks NOTHING like my Metropass, and has my name and picture on it.

I was instantly embarrassed. I was debating going back to the front of the bus and sheepishly apologizing while showing my proper card when I realized: the bus driver didn’t stop me.

Hope you’re enjoying your summers so far!

Happy July 1st!

Just a quick post to say Happy Canada Day, everyone!

(Except for Quebecers – in this case, I’ll say, Happy Moving Day!)

Hope everyone enjoys whatever they’ve got planned!

And if you’re abroad where there’s an expatriate population, revel in the celebrations!