Category Archives: General

Mostly pop culture rants. Usually without reason or spell chekin.

Deja Thoris

General

Weird. Like a pop culture singularity.

I have stumbled across three “John Carter of Mars” websites today without use of search engine or actively hunting them down. Once = “Cool!” Twice = “Hum. That’s interesting.” Thrice = “yeeks!”

I read (I think) three of these books as a kid. Swords, loincloths, Martians and honour.

Never really bought the whole “gettin’ tuh Mars sans spacecraft” though.

Spooky Communication

General

My off-the-boat-from-Italy grandma was always an enigma to me. Due to her broken English and my fear of trying to connect with this strange lady, we never talked much. We would communicate in different ways though: she would smile at my arrival and instantly put food in front of me and laugh with her eyes. Rosemary was our verb, chicken, the nouns and gnocchi was the “How you doin’?”.

One day I remember going over to Grandma’s house to find my sister in a tizzy. She was sitting at the dining room table with notebook paper strewn all about, the sheets covered in a Bic pen chicken scratch. My had sister discovered that Grandma had been taking notes from the other side and was reading over some of her conversations. Grandma had been talking with a little girl through ghost writing for a couple years and had let my sister read over the conversations while she laid down (it took a lot out of her apparently). Grandma would go into a trance-like state and start to mumble while the pen flew over the page, the girl telling stories of living in “her time” and ominously talk of things coming up in Grandma’s life.

The last note was of an impending suffering Grandma would have to struggle through. Very open ended but creepy, none the less. Of course a while later she was in and out of the Doctor’s for glaucoma and various other health problems. And then Grandpa went downhill with his health. All pretty much predictable and not too spooky.

Creepy was that the notes were written in English. The spelling was bad, but the structure was better than her pidgin speak.

The Gym Report

General

Hello and welcome! Tonight’s top stories:

Fancy Dress: what not to wear on the treadmill
When to Stop: Owchie!
New Species of Gym Bunny
and
Ohm Pah Pah! Or, Make Mine Mild!

• Sharkboy and I enter the cardio room to find a man wearing semi-dressy chinos and a Hawaiian shirt running on a treadmill like he was being chased by a demon or a cop or a demon cop with bees in it’s mouth. I speculated to Sharkboy that this person found his way into the gym without having his ID checked. Sharkboy speculated that he was an idiot. Thankfully he was wearing sneakers, so the shock on his legs would not have been that bad.

• Speaking of shock, a few moments later a woman painfully lifted herself up onto a neighbouring treadmill and started it up into a quick-shuffle, something above “hungry zombie spying a headcheese loaf”. She was wearing black knee-to-upper-thigh tensor bandages, cyborg knee supports and a marathon t-shirt. Time to quit, I thought. Bah. She migh be going through physio, but the marathon tee didn’t support the argument that running is good for you, long term.

• Enter The Hummingbird. This incredibly small creature (5’7″ I estimate) floats, nay hovers between the machine he’s working on and the water fountain without any evidence of his hips, torso or head deviating from a 1cm sine wave. His speed is incredible for the amount of unsauntering walk he exerts!

• I guess it was Octoberfest in the showers because I interrupted a sausage comparing contest. Two bratwurst-proud contestants were showing their heafty meat entries to each other. Both their parents obviously didn’t skimp on the stuffing! I must be “November” because when I walked in, the party was over.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is this month’s installment of The Gym Report. Stay tuned for More of the Same! with Regis Philbin and Kelly Rippah

Crusin’ V – Belize and At Sea

General

Belize mansion

Again, we wake to crummy weather, but that didn’t matter to me. I have been tossing and turning (with the boat) all night worrying: “Am I going to loose it on the zip lines? Oh maybe the bad weather will cancell our excursion! Oh lordy pleeeease!”

We’ve signed up to do “The Belize Jungle Adventure” which entails zip lines at about 200 ft off the ground, through the jungle canopy, just outside Belize City. If you watch Survivor at all, you saw that one team got to do this very same thing as reward for one of the challenges. Not being a fan of heights, I had started to worry about it the day before. I was keeping mum about my fear, though.

We had a few hours before making port so we went up to the gym and did our only workout during the entire cruise. It was lovely to hit the treadmill near the bow of the ship. Very inspiring. We cooled down by walking the upper level outside and watched as the ship moseyed up to the reef that blocks cruise ships from directly accessing Belize City.

Zippys!

Our tender got us to the dock and we waited about 20 minutes for our bus to arrive and found that we were going to do this excursion with a pair of dinner-mates: The Firefighter Mike and the IT Professional, Cathy. We chatted as we waited and I jokingly said that Cathy was brave to do this and she might deserve a present for conquering her fears and made a motion to the jewelry store we were waiting outside of. Zoom! “Come get me when the bus gets here,” Cathy yells back over her shoulder, with glitter in her eyes. I get a “Good lord, Thanks Ted” look from Mike.

I asked Mike if he ever rescued a cat from a tree. Much to my surprise, he had never. Apparently they don’t risk highly paid employees to climb trees. Which makes sense. Call Animal Services. Or just put a plate of food down. Pussies always come down on their own. I snickered.

The bus comes and we are driven in a bit of a round about way through Belize City to the highway. I could see Cathy sitting just ahead of me with her forehead against the glass and I was under the impression that she was either worried about the excursion, like I was, or she was upset at the tremendous poverty Belize seemed to be mired in. Like I was. It wasn’t disgusting or anything, just… poor. The houses in the city were for the most part, windowless and had shutters to cover them. All the “yards” had some sort of refuge in it, possibly left over from the hurricane the month before, who can say.

The road from the highway into the jungle was incredibly bad. Bouncy-headachey-bad. All the way down the highway, past the broken homes and shacks I was silent and worried about the heights. From over the seat comes the dreaded “waiver form” that stated that we must be able to stand on a 2ftx2ft platform, 300 ft off the ground, comfortably. I nearly lose it. I look up at Cathy and somehow, she forgot to sign her waiver and it came back to her when the guide did her tally. Sorry C.

The Canopy

We were given a rest stop 2/3rds the way there, just outside the jungle and they sprayed us down with OFF, which smelled different. After a pee, a juice and a spray we were back on the bus, winding our way into the damp jungle. Most of the people on the bus got off at The Jungle Canopy Tour, which turned out to be a double-decker bus like vehicle with monster truck tires. I was glad we weren’t on that tour as that it was raining pretty hard by then.

Entrance

We arrive and have to walk through a big cave to get to our gear-up point. Beautiful. They strap us into the harnesses and yell “DO NOT touch any of the straps. Doing so jeapordizes your safety!” I keep my arms perpendicular from the harness. After a few photos (“This feels like a regular Saturday night at the Eagle,” I whisper to Sharkboy) we start our long haul up into the jungle.

Straight up.

Past vines. Past bottomless pits. Along ledges that hang over hills deeper than Riverdale Park. Past “wild” orchids in their natural habitats. Keep moving please.

strap in

We get to a kind of rock cave open on both ends with a demo zip line set up. One guide hooks himself on the line and shows us proper hand placement. I am somehow closest to him and expect I am first to try the demo line.

Nope.

I am first in line for the first run.

Holy.

Shit.

Sharkboy sees the fear in my eyes and offers to go first. At this point something welled up in me and said “You’ve preached not to be afraid pretty much for the last chunk of your life, time to practice what you preach.” I hold my head up high and step up to the platform. I could sense that Cathy (and probably the rest of the group) were glad that someone else was going first.

Action Shot

The platform, by the way, wasn’t actually 2ft square. It was a bit larger. I think they were just weeding out the nervous nellies.

Click. Click. Click. “You’re good to go. Don’t bother braking for this leg. It’s too short.”

Go!

“AAAAAAGGGGGG!”

Over way too fast to really enjoy it. I tried to look about but wound up slowing myself down somehow and stopped about 20 ft from the platform. I had to hand-over-hand to get to solid ground.

The jungle was beautiful. I can’t express the colours and the awesomeness. And the thrill of the ground dropping out from under you while your crotch is tethered to what could be described as your mom’s old washing line, was exhilarating. I have no other words to go on.

If you ever get the chance, do it.

Then came the time to rappel over the side of a platform, stuck into the side of a cliff, about 75ft up. Thankfully Mike the Firefighter was in front of me and went first as that it involved a huge leap of faith to step out off the platform and hang there a moment while the guides prepared you for the quick drop. I don’t think I could have done that first.

Again, the rush was exciting and fun. Again!! Do it again!

The day was over within an hour and it was the best excursion of the whole trip. We were punch drunk high after the harness came off with much slapping each other on the back and hooterin’ and hollerin’.

The bus ride back was even more bouncy (if that was possible) and we met up with the Canopy Tour group and listen to them gripe about not seeing any wildlife. We snickered to ourselves over our good fortune for picking such a great excursion.

Dinner and the evening was a blur again. Coming down after such a great day was like the best sex ever. I felt like Barbarella rolling around the back of the Ice Guard’s sleigh, singing a tuneless tune. There was a midnight buffet that had my head saying “OH GOOD LORD STOP EATING!” and my stomach saying “6 more sushi? Why certainly! Oh and could you pile on some cheese too? Thank you” It was all very decadent and midway through my meal in the cabin, with the tv on and the boat rocking I got a bit sad that we were headed into the last day of our trip.

A trick!

The next day we spent sleeping in and having breakfast in bed via room service. At the first sign of sun (it certainly was a holiday miracle we got some sun on the last day of the trip) we high-tailed it up to the pool and got two chairs for ourselves. And again, we got sandwiched between a newlywed couple who talked over us while we tried to sleep. Next time, we take end seats. At 1pm, we went an ate (duh!) and wandered the ship until dinner. Or so it seemed. We napped, we did the slot machines for about $40 each and then had our last dinner with the gang.

I liked our dining compadres. They had great stories and nary a complaint. They laughed at our jokes and told us some themselves. The food was terrific and the company was great.

Mike and Cathy

Since the weather was far to horrid to go walking out on deck, we went and dropped another $40 in slots and I swear to you, I figured out a pattern and managed to keep going for about an hour, or at least until our backs gave out from sitting on stools for so long. It’s all in the wrist, kids.

Next time, my final thoughts on the cruise (oh thank god!!) and an invitation.

The Final Gallery.