Saturday, July 30, 2005

Updates on The Pool Of Death

It's been a few days since I had the epiphany concerning the foolishness of having the canopy over the pool which turned said pool into THE POOL OF DEATH. In an attempt to avoid the inconvenience of having stir-fried Teen Peeps, someone in the house...mentioning no names but their name starts with RA and ends with IE...had the incredible idea of putting up a canopy over it to protect swimmers from the sun's ULTRAVIOLET DEATH RAYS. Only problem being, of course, that a pool covered with a canopy doesn't have the warming effect of the sun's rays on its BELOW FREEZING waters, and Teen Peeps weren't suffering from skin cancer, but flirting with the real possibility of HYPOTHERMIA and IMMINENT DEATH.

So I thought I'd let you know how it's coming along.

It's an almost triumphant success. Removal of the canopy has caused the water temperature to rise to roughly three degrees above freezing now! Remember - this is Washington, so by the time the rains come again, we might just have a pool that doesn't make all males cry at the prospect of sitting down!

Of course, removing the canopy has also added the attraction of wildlife to the mix. You can swim with....well...not dolphins exactly but majorly sized beetles, spiders, huge ants, bees and other sundry crawly things which have discovered that the surface of the pool might look nice and shiny and all, but tends to freeze the life clean out of you if you actually touch down on it.

We've also learned that Rosy the Peke, and Katie the Shih Tzu have excellent swimming skills. And that they tend to run like hell inside of the hot house whenever anyone's outside and looking like they might be heading in the general direction of The Pool Of Death, for fear that said human person might decide that the dog looks hot, and they might wind up being plonked inside the freezing waters of The Pool Of Death. Clinton, the cocker spaniel - he who is terrified of the hose pipe, and needs to be sedated before grooming has learned to run very fast.

The major drawback I can see with The Pool Of Death is the odd effect it has on your muscles. Once you overcome its freezing embrace, it's actually quite pleasant to be out in it until your fingers turn pruney, particularly when the temps are high, like they are for a couple of weeks a year in the northwest. Trouble is that when you get out, and come back to the table to work on the latest batch of transcripts for The Big Office in New York, your fingers rebel, and you find that your usual typing speed of 80 wpm has completely disappeared. Your well trained fingers are still somewhere in the bottom of The Pool Of Death, and have been replaced by these weird sausage things that resist every order you give them, and refuse to type certain letters, and balk at anything above 20 wpm.

The consolation to all of this is that my piece of crap Compaq laptop (I will NEVAH buy Compaq again...do you hear me??) can actually keep up with me at this speed, so I don't have to go back and correct that misspelling I made ten words ago when it finally has the grace to show up on my screen.

I am blessed.

And frozen.

Friday, July 29, 2005

My Girl

Talking 'bout my girrrrrl....my girl.

I got sunshine on a cloudy day....and when it's cold outside I got the month of May....

My girl.

The one who has carved out a whole new identity for herself over the past year or so. The one who is now 'Lema, the almost sixteen-year old. For those of you who've never met her - and how unlucky are YOU - here are some little known facts about the oldest of the Teen Peeps:

  1. She would have guessed that song in the first few notes because she's PHENOMENALLY musically talented.
  2. She would have guessed it by frantically singing all of the words of the song and racing them to the chorus so she could proclaim victory.
  3. She's the only blonde in the house, and has gamely heard every blonde joke known to man with the grace to do no more than shake her head slightly in consternation at us.
  4. She can spell consternation.
  5. Cats are her favorite beings, and even after we regaled her with the knowledge that unlike dogs, who will only eat a dead human if they themselves are starving, cats will pounce on you and eat your eyeballs while you're still WARM, she welcomes them to her room by leaving her window open - even in the dead of winter. (Cause they need somewhere warm to sleep.)
  6. She's nervous about being a junior in high school, and worries about paying for college.
  7. She plans on GOING TO COLLEGE!!!
  8. She has such a wonderful spirit that she makes friends with everybody - no matter how much this may downgrade her 'popular' status in school.
  9. She loves underdogs.
  10. Without being asked, she's helping out with transcription for The Big Office In New York, cause she knows we need the money.
  11. She's thoughtful that way.
  12. She cries at soppy movies - particularly if they involve glove puppets or animals.
  13. She'll be really mad I told you that.
  14. She likes it that I cry at soppy movies too.
  15. Her teachers think she's a gift from God.
  16. One of her teachers used to say that when she walked into the room it was like the sun came out.
  17. I know what she meant.
  18. When she was 3 months old, she started sleeping through the night.
  19. I thought she died.
  20. I'm glad she didn't.
  21. She still loves to spend time with me, despite being almost 16 and basically grown.
  22. That doesn't mean she's tied to the apron strings. It just means that the transition from child to adult and offspring to friend is becoming a seamless thing.
  23. She likes to talk. A lot. So much that once, when she accompanied me to the hairdresser to get my hair permed, and stood 'helping' the hairdresser by passing the rollers, chattering all the time, the poor hairdresser lady took advantage of temporary absence for a bathroom break to ask me "Does she EVER shut up??!!"
  24. She reads voraciously. And although she's too grown for me to control what she reads, she makes good choices.
  25. She makes good choices period.
  26. She is inflamed by injustice. Watching 'Hotel Rwanda' with us last week sparked some furious blogging, a movie review AND an article for the website. ALL IN THE SAME DAY. Because what happened and the world's reaction to it was unjust. And she couldn't have that.
  27. Her absolutely to die for meal is spaghetti and meat sauce.
  28. Her absolutely to die for ideal mate would be someone who cooks spaghetti and meat sauce.
  29. Like her mom cooks it.
  30. She has an older sister that she doesn't see and it hurts her heart sometimes that there's a continent and a body of water between them. And that her sister doesn't email her.
  31. Once, when she was three years old, her older sister, who was eleven years old found her playing with a pair of scissors. When her sister tried to take them from her, she cut her sister's finger so badly that she required stitches.
  32. That's not why her sister doesn't email her.
  33. I have a favorite baby picture of her, when she was very, very new, dressed in a pink all-in-one outfit and lying on a changing mat. The sun shines through the blinds behind her in such a way that she seems to glow from the inside out.
  34. But not in a nuclear fallout kind of way.
  35. She was a heart-stoppingly beautiful baby. The anesthetist in the hospital came to see her the next day, and said she looked just like the Gerber baby...as she had that perfect curl at the front of her head.
  36. She's still beautiful. She has that ivory skin and great bone structure that puts you in mind of Veronica Lake.
  37. She understands the concept of algebra.
  38. She can recite Wilfred Owen's poem, 'Dulce et Decorum Est'.
  39. She wishes latin wasn't a dead language, because it fascinates her, and they don't teach it in her school.
  40. To 'Lema, eyeliner is not a fashion accessory. It is a necessity.
  41. She has taken over the running of the website while I am working at transcription so much lately.
  42. Since she took over, our hits have gone up.
  43. She sings in the choir. And in her bedroom. And in the bathroom. Loudly.
  44. Luckily she has perfect pitch.
  45. She swore off Harry Potter books following 'The Order of the Phoenix" because they killed off Sirius Black.
  46. She makes incredible coffee.
  47. She doesn't drink coffee.
  48. She makes it for me.
  49. Her favorite treat of all is a can of olives.
  50. If I were to tailor-make the perfect daughter for myself....it would be her.

Tom Cruise is Nuts

And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Honestly.

There's an honest to god website out there at http://www.tomcruiseisnuts.com and it's a happy place to spend an hour or so. Caution: Avoid drinking liquids while reading some of the comments TC is credited with making. Your computer will thank you for it.

You know, I guess I just assumed people understood what Scientologists believe - even when it comes to the Teen Peeps. So when Xander was watching tonight's episode of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and Steven Colbert gave his wonderful description of the Scientology belief system, and colt boy almost had a CORONARY from laughing so hard he couldn't BREATHE, it was cute as hell.

I also learned, courtesy of the website in question, that Mimi Rodgers (TC's first wife), Nicole Kidman (TC's second wife), and Katie Holmes (TC's brainwashed little pal) have an age difference of eleven years between each of them respectively. Katie's actually 22 years Mimi's junior. It has you worried about Dakota Fanning.

The great thing about reading interviews with TC which are from other countries is that the interviewers seem to be much less concerned with his status as SUPER HUGE HOLLYWOOD MEGASTAR and are much more comfortable with telling him he's FULL OF SCIENTIFIC THETAN POOP. Why is it that US interviewers seem to be so incapable of asking the important questions - and following them up when he skates around them. There are things we'd like to KNOW about this guy and this weird as hell thing he has going with Katie Holmes, which just aren't being addressed. So to get them started here are:

THINGS I'D LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT TOM CRUISE AND KATIE HOLMES
  1. Does Katie mind that you seem to have approached three other starlets - all of whom balked at the whole Scientology deal - before settling on her?
  2. If it's just you, Katie and Cupid, how come she seems to have turned into some kind of glazed-eyed little thing who parrots phrases like "Tom is good and generous" and "I am the luckiest girl in the world" in inappropriate responses to questions?
  3. Who is this creepy little Jessica chick that Katie has hanging around her 24/7, who claims to be a 'Scientology chaperone', and 'a good friend', but is a bit fudgy on when they actually got to be such bosom pals that she no longer needs anybody else in her life? Oh...and who even prompts Katie in interviews ...'You adore him.'
  4. If Scientology isn't a cult, why does it appear to be such a powerful force in your life that you can't put a sentence together without it relating back to Scientology?
  5. How is it that nobody can get an interview with you without having first attended a 4-hour presentation about what Scientology is?
  6. If you can fix all medical and psychological problems without the aids of modern medicine and drugs, what's the deal with your freaking teeth? Don't you have some kind of machine for that?
  7. Where did you actually meet Katie Holmes - and when? Was it around the time she dropped everybody out of her life and disappeared from the media radar for a couple of weeks before coming back with that hypnotic mantra and slightly glazed-over expression?
  8. Don't you think it's a bit daft for a high school dropout to be waging a war of words with a Harvard grad? And you're such a little bugger - in a fistfight, my money's on Brooke Shields. She could take you with one arm tied behind her back. Or she could just cream you nicely and serve you on toast with her words, the way she did in her NY Times article.
  9. Have any of the other celebs who have been practicing Scientology reasonably quietly for the past however many years - like John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley - come knocking at your door to ask you to shut the fuck up yet? Surely they have to see that you're not exactly the BEST advertisement Scientology could have come up with?
  10. Are you really so out there that you don't see what a dick you're making of yourself?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Rhythm of the Rain....

My parents used to have a little folk wisdom in regards to bad events. Along with their "bad things come in threes" idea, there was another homily for bad events which didn't hold to the triad theory of arrival. "It never rains but it pours."

I never really understood that one as a kid. It wasn't until I was sitting in the middle of a dozen different things screaming for my attention - and my already-stretched-to-the-limit finances - that the comprehension came to me.

Bad enough that Azrael can't find a job that gives him more than 3 hours of work a week.

Bad enough that the insurance adjustor came to our house following a burst pipe which ruined the flooring in two rooms, and then decided that we had to repaint the shed and re-screen the back porch or they would cancel our home insurance.

Bad enough that it's that time of the year when jobs from The Big Office in New York are not as common, because of a lot of companies having vacations and not so many company events requiring the aid of a transcriptionist.

Bad enough that I had to pay $200 to buy screening material for the back porch, and now have to figure out how to cut it, staple it, and then buy replacement wood to cover the edges.

Bad enough that our brand new pool now has punctures on the edge because the two horses in the house decided that they had to see if the cats could swim. (Answer: Yes...cats can swim. Cats also tend to puncture the hell out of the inflatable ring at the top of the pool because even though they can swim, they DESPISE WATER)

All that is bad enough. But this morning I got a little package from the IRS to inform me that since my late husband took out a loan from his 401k in the amount of $43,500 the year before he died, we owe tax on this amount. Somewhere in the range of $3,500. Doesn't sound that much, until you figure out all the other expenditures we have at the moment.

Somebody get me an umbrella.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

All growed up

Sitting here waiting for my latest assignment from The Big Office In New York to show up in my inbox, my gaze wanders over to Xander, the Colt Boy, the youngest of the Teen Peeps, my baby.

He came in here to spend some time with me, discussing recipes and curry variations, and jubbbly memories of my youth, and watch The People's Court. We've a similar sense of humor, he and I - a similar sense of the ridiculous - so he's fun to watch TV and veg out with sometimes.

While I was watching the show, I noticed that his breathing had deepened, and looked over to the other pillow to see he'd fallen asleep. That's always a trip for me, cause it means I can look at a squirmy adolescent without them squirming away in embarrassment.

It's astonishing to me that he was ever a tiny baby, this huge 6 foot plus manling. Head to foot he was smaller than the length of his forearm.

Where have the years gone?
*sob*

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Once in a Lifetime....

The Lifetime Movie Network is the work of the devil.

I say this after spending most of the day yesterday vegged out in front of the TV unable to pull myself away from its evil clutches. I felt like Al Pacino - "Just when I think I'm out, they PULL ME BACK IN!!!"

Then I felt guilty and made potato salad and fried chicken, so all was not lost. This isn't something I do very often, because the Teen Peeps love it, and CRAVE it, and I enjoy basking in their adulation. I do it rarely enough that it never becomes a mundane kind of food.

Having purchased the new shiny pool this week - which I forgot to mention in my previous postings - we're kind of financially strapped until the next paycheck rolls in from the Big Office in New York, so I'm bending further and further over to reach the deepest depths of the chest freezer. Aptly named, I might add, particularly when your bra size is a DDD and you're pressed against the walls of the thing trying to figure out if there are any more bags of chicken underneath all those half-used bags of vegetables.

The pool is indeed NEW and SHINY and very, very freaking COLD. This is mostly my fault, as I had the earth shatteringly BRILLIANT idea that the Teen Peeps might CATCH FIRE FROM THE SUN or some such thing while they were out in it, so decided to purchase one of those canopy things that protects you from the sun while you're having a picnic or whatever. Put it over the top of the pool....et voila....no HORRENDOUSLY DISFIGURED TEEN PEEPS WITH SKIN CANCER!!

Of course, I wasn't following this thought through to its logical conclusion. Which is, we live in Washington State. Not Arizona or Southern California. We've got sun for two months out of the year - tops. And it never reaches 100 degrees aside from when Andy Wappler (Kiro TV weatherman) says something along the lines of "Expect a heavy breeze", and mushmouths it into being: "Expect 100 degrees".

I also was completely forgetting that a pool full of icy cold water from the garden hose is likely to FOREVER REMAIN icy cold water when the sun's rays are blocked from its surface by the addition of the spiffy new canopy! It's a sad thing when you're happy that your legs have gone numb because at least you no longer feel the BITING COLD of the ICE WATER in the pool!

Great thinking Rachie. No Teen Peep inferno out in the back yard. Instead they're all walking around the house in twenty layers of clothing in the middle of summer because they can't stop shivering after being in the POOL OF DEATH for ten minutes. Um...can anybody spell PNEUMONIA??!!

We removed the canopy yesterday. And hopefully the water warms up to just plain COLD before summer ends.

Mea culpa. Mea culpa.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

He IS the greatest chocolatier

We finally managed to see 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' today. And I have one thing to say:

Johnny Depp IS Willy Wonka.

I got into Roald Dahl's books when my oldest daughter was an infant. As she grew old enough to sit and listen to a story, Charlie became one of her favorites, and we'd read it at bedtime (I'd actually carry on reading it after she fell asleep just because I was enjoying the story so much.) So I'd have to say that I'm pretty up on all things Charlie.

Gene Wilder's version of the character never really appealed to me. None of the characters really seemed to hit the spot, or at least match up to the way I'd envisaged them through countless readings of the story. The bright orange Oompa-Loompas were completely wrong, and yeah, their little ditties were catchy and all, and the bouncing ball was a cute touch, but I much preferred Roald Dahl's original Oompa-Loompa songs - dark and nasty as they were!

I mean, let's face it. Willy Wonka flat out doesn't like children very much. The whole thing's supposed to be a cautionary tale about bad kids coming to a sticky end, and the good kid coming out on top. The original Charlie Bucket was from the 'gee whiz' school of child stars, whose fresh-faced, open-mouthed fake innocence was way too saccharine for my liking. He could have taken lessons from Freddie Highmore, the young lad who plays Charlie in the new version of the movie and manages to say his lines while appearing to be a normal kid.

Grandpa Joe is brilliant. I've been a huge David Kelly fan ever since I used to watch the ancient British TV series, 'Oh Father'. Grandma Georgina? Omigod...Emmerdale Farm lady!! She's a class actress. Noah Taylor and Helena Bonham-Carter are Charlie's mum and dad. I miss Roy Kinnear as Veruca Salt's indulgent daddy, but James Fox plays the character in a completely different way, and it rings perfectly true.

But of course, the absolute star of this movie is Johnny Depp. He truly is one of the best actors of our generation, and plays this role masterfully. I don't know when I've enjoyed a trip to the movies more. I don't remember the last time that I left the theater saying aloud that I can't wait until it comes out on DVD so that we can watch it as many times as we want to.

Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, you've given us a masterpiece. Thanks ever so much!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

We're all wild about Harry....

I just got through reading 'Harry Potter And the Half-Blood Prince'. And I was good. I shine with holy light, having denied myself the pleasure of reading it until I had conquered most of the transcription due this weekend.

Was it worth the wait?

If you have to ask me that question, who are you and what are you doing reading my blog??!! J.K. Rowling's writing affects me in much the same way that really old and really good Stephen King used to do. There are few books that I can't put down and go do something else if I have to. There are many books that I can read in tandem with other books, and still keep a handle on the plots.

And then there is the kind of writing which makes you want to find a nice little private space where you can be totally uninterrupted for the block of time it takes you to read the book from cover to cover. A book where the author creates a world, and the characters who populate it with such brilliance and clarity that you can fall into it and it overwhelms you and surrounds you and you forget about mundane things like eating or sleeping or other people. 'The Talisman' was such a book. Straub and King created such a plausible alternate reality that the ending came as a jolt because I didn't want to leave it. And J.K. Rowling has that talent.

Now since I am the only one of the household who has read this particular book, I won't go into detail at this point. Xander waited up until midnight in the hopes I'd be done, so that he could take over, and I think Azrael has called dibs on it for the third reading, since Babybat has decided she's never going to read another Harry Potter book again EVER after they killed off Sirius Black. She'll cave. It's just a question of time.

What I will say is that I am so completely unlike all of those brilliant people on Amazon who claim to have already KNOWN who the half-blood prince is, cause my guesses were WAY off the freaking mark. And I had no clue who she was going to kill off in this particular book, and when it came, it was one of those....NOOOOO!!! SAY IT AIN'T SOOOOO moments. I have a lot of respect for authors who aren't afraid to kill off major characters in their series - Darren Shan and his Cirque Du Freak series is a great example of that. You really risk pissing off a lot of your readers (as with Babybat, who adored Sirius even before she saw him portrayed by Gary Oldman and who has LOATHED J.K. Rowling ever since she dispatched him.), but I really like it when an author keeps me off balance that way, and makes sure that I know nothing is sacred, and everything can change with the turn of a page.

Is this a book for six-year olds? No, of course not. The series has grown up, along with the characters, who are now 16 and 17-year olds. And, I would assume, along with its faithful readership, who have aged 6 years since the series commenced. Keeping it G rated would have been stupid. Teenagers don't behave like 10-year olds.

What I can say is that it is a book I'll be more than happy to read again, and which makes me want to go back to the beginning of the series and start over.

I don't know how I'm going to wait another year to find out how it turns out!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night....

Here I am blogging away at 2:40 am and feeling righteous for I have yet again cleared my transcription pile and am TTF (Totally Transcript Free). Tonight I was working on some 'scripts for a future TV show (HA...and you thought transcription was all about BORING INSURANCE CLAIMS didn't you??!!) Anyway, this TV show is about haunted houses, and bringing in a ghost of psychics - since I don't KNOW what a group of psychics is called - into the house to tell you how IMPOSSIBLY HAUNTED IT IS and how they're going to stay the weekend and FIX all the lost souls who just need to GO TO THE LIGHT. And all of it is recorded on TV for our viewing pleasure.

It was while working on this that I had the idea to go on one of these shows, just to see if the psychics REALLY are psychic or if they just feed into whatever you tell them is wrong and SCARE you half to death by TOTALLY AGREEING that the house creaks because you've got a POLTERGEIST in your house. And it's probably your DEAD UNCLE CHARLIE who could never find the way to the KITCHEN when ALIVE let alone to the LIGHT now he's DEAD. He thought fluorescent lights were the work of the DEVIL so there's no wonder he's AVOIDING the brilliantly hurts your eyes to look at it WHITE LIGHT!

I want to invent dead bodies that I ALONE CAN SEE and then step reverently over them on my way to the laundry room. And I want to wake SHRIEKING at the top of my lungs that someone is LAYING on me and I can't BREATHE and the reason nobody else can SEE this presence is because I alone am sensitive to such things. I want to tell hideous tales of doors that OPEN BY THEMSELVES and dogs that BARK AT NOTHING! I want to tell them I haven't slept in 2 WHOLE FREAKING WEEKS because I am being TORMENTED BY THE SOULS OF THE DEPARTED!

Now see, if you acted like that with most people, they'd call people in white suits to take you away for a good long rest and lots of nutritious narcotics. But having typed several of these audio files, I have come to see that my imaginative talent is being plain WASTED. It would be such an immense treat to feed the hungry psychics one HUGE fib after another, washed down with a heaping helping of whine, with self-pity and helplessness to follow. Because they seem to THRIVE on such fare.

The dead body? Well that's because someone DIED in your house and you just see the IMPRINT - the MEMORY if you will of his lifeless form. In fact, they may even go you one better and let you know that one of the HOST of ghosts residing in your home is probably a MURDERER and is only biding his time until he can figure out a way of DOING YOU IN WHILE YOU SLEEP. So it's a pretty good thing that you've not been sleeping at all. OMIGOD the ghosts are falling OVER themselves in your house! They come in through the MIRRORS and spy on you while you go about your daily lives, and it's ALL YOUR FAULT because you're probably drawing them in with your latent psychic ability that you didn't even KNOW you had till they told you.

Not that I think all psychics are charlatans. Just most of them. Mostly the ones who agree to appear on cheesy TV shows about haunted houses. And the people who live in these so called haunted houses? They're either fibbing like mad or they've got a freaking screw loose and belong in a nice quiet bouncy room eating meals with a plastic spoon. How else do you explain why someone would have all of the above CRAP going on in their house and NOT WANT TO MOVE??!! And we're not talking about financial restrictions. It's not a question of hey, if we could get out of here we'd be gone like YESTERDAY. No, gentle reader. These are people who are supposedly suffering the torments of the DAMNED and yet bravely say that they don't find it too bad to live there.

HELLOOOO??!! Oh right. I'm falling over dead bodies, being choked by creatures of the night and can't keep a door shut and I DON'T THINK IT'S TOO BAD TO LIVE THERE??!! Where have they lived previously?? A CRYPT?? So that tends to raise the bullshit meter as far as I'm concerned. And if they're just either barking mad or lying for attention, how do you explain the reaction of the psychics??!!

Maybe I'm just too darned cynical for my own good.

Anyway, it's way past the witching hour, so I need to go muzzle the dog, padlock the door and step over that CORPSE by the bathroom on my way to get CHOKED IN MY SLEEP!

Of course...it's not bad enough that I want to leave.

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Smells Like Grass Clippings

So I'm sitting here in the bedroom, which is where I do the transcriptioning, and I am in utter and complete olfactory HEAVEN! Azrael's been out mowing the lawn this morning (and I use the term 'lawn' in the broadest possible sense as it's now more MOSS and WEEDS than lawn). He's managed to make it actually LOOK like a lawn, but more importantly he's generated this incredibly yummy smell of CUT GRASS!! Which is being wafted into the bedroom courtesy of the window fan. How does cut grass manage to smell so good you could EAT it??

I boggle.

PLUS!! And I absolutely pinky swear this has nothing WHATSOEVER to do with me waking up early yesterday morning. I woke up with a jolt today and myopically perused my watch to find it was 11:40 am! And Azrael was still ASLEEP!! So I dragged myself out of bed with cup in hand and went to the Babybat doing my best rendition of Oliver Twist meets The Thing. Extend cup and grunt meaninglessly. Then I wombled back to the bedroom and woke Azrael.

Me: So you're planning on staying in bed ALL DAY?

Azrael: Mmm nowhattimeisit?

Me: (sanctimoniously) It's almost 12!

Azrael: I didn't go to bed till after 1.

Me: (sanctimoniously AND smugly) THAT was almost 12 HOURS ago!!

Heh...victory was mine. And it was MINE right up until Azrael got dressed and went into the other room and realized that it was actually 7:30 and my watch had stopped.

Oh well...maybe it KNEW I was due for a little vengeance after yesterday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Tiger Sleeps Tonight...

Okay, pop quiz! What irritates the Gemini tiger even more than someone acting like they may be thinking about making menacing movements towards her cubs?

Yeah...some fool waking her up from a deep sleep. Which Azrael chose to do this morning, since he obviously has so little desire to live beyond his 39th birthday. And even though I GROWLED and even though I BATTED HIM AWAY with sheathed claws. He still had the temerity to look surprised when I turned around and CLAWED OFF HIS FACE WITH MY LONG TIGER CLAWS while howling balefully at the top of my voice: "Will you STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE BED!!! YOU'RE SMUSHALYZING ME!!!"

So now Azrael is POUTING and AGGRIEVED and acting like the INJURED PARTY he believes himself to be. He SHOULD be happy he SURVIVED the wild tiger attack ferchrissakes!

And why was it necessary for the tiger to sleep tonight? (Well actually it WAS 10 am to be fair to the rude awakener - not that it's any real EXCUSE because he KNOWS the REASON the tiger needed to sleep tonight!) MY TRANSCRIPTION FILES ARE ALL DONE - TRA LA!!

Yeah I know I could have been boringly normal and worked during normal working hours, but I don't work that way. For some reason it's so much easier to concentrate on what's coming through my earbuds when the house is absolutely quiet. And that's not something that you tend to find in the house when Azrael and the Teen Peeps are all at home for the summer.

It's not that they are constantly bothering me. In fact they're usually good about leaving me alone if they know I have earbuds in and laptop in position. They bring me coffee when I need it and slip in and out of the room like little ghosts.

BUT

I KNOW THEY'RE THERE.

I can hear their TVs or stereos. I can hear their voices. I watch them passing by my bedroom window on their way to the DDR shed to play dancing games. And a part of my brain gets all pissy and 'why should I work when they're noooooot! - ish'

Hence the late night when everyone is in bed working. And the need for a nice long sleep after staying up till 6 am working on the files.

So Azrael is mooching around the house wearing GAUZE on his face because of the tiger claw holes, and may be DEAF from the yelling. And I'm up and feeling mean and foul-spirited and wanting to bite off the heads of small children just for SPITE.

Life bites.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rhapsodies in blue

For God's Sake Stop Me!!

I have discovered the delights of Comcast cable's "Rhapsody" service. And it is the work of the DEVIL.

For those of you unfamiliar with this service, it operates on a similar principle to my much-missed Napster. A bunch of songs you haven't heard in a million years, and you can add them to a playlist and - and - and get LOST FOR FREAKING HOURS in the process! And then, gentle reader, they have you. And boy do they have you. For it appears that you can download these songs to your own little playlist, and listen to them as long as you are connected to the Rhapsody server. BUT to actually burn them to CD, you have to pay an additional amount on top of the quarterly fee for the service - for each track! But...but...this is CRUEL!

Here I am listening to "Sixty Eight Guns" by The Alarm, and knowing that I can't actually listen to it at any other time but when I'm chained to the computer and plugged into the server is IMMORAL!! Now I can understand that you have to pay a fee to download the songs. Napster is no more and never will be again. *sobs* But I don't understand the concept of paying a fee for the service and then paying additional fees to download the tracks on your playlist to a CD so that you can take it with you to the supermarket.

A pox on them. And yeah...I can count. And I don't intend to be with this service any longer than my 14 day free trial. For they are INFERNAL and MONEY-GRUBBING and- and- omigod...'This is Not America - David Bowie & Pat Metheny Group'.

Aieeeeee!!! They TORTURE ME!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

That's Entertainment!

Well Azrael and the Teen Peeps (Sounds like a '60s band) are off down at the lake this afternoon, so I thought it was prime blogging opportunity time - even though it's SUPPOSED to be prime working working working and finishing stupid transcriptions time.

Hopefully they don't all come back with pneumonia. I mean it's not exactly 90 degrees outside. And it is Washington. And they're just wearing SWIMSUITS ferchrissakes! And you can take the kids out of my sight but I'll still worry about them because that's something mothers do. I have this sneaking suspicion that fetuses excrete a parasitic worm which burrows into the host mother's BRAIN and makes her forever fret and pace floors and worry about all the minutiae of the child's life until the day she dies.

So I'm here, suppposedly with stupid insurance claims running through my headphones, while I type, type, type my fingers into nubs. And instead my earbuds are feeding me The Jam in great big creamy earfuls. That's Entertainment all right. OH YEAH!! The Jam hit at the right time in my life. Late '70s, early '80s. The years when I was young, free and single and wanted carpets and not kids. That really did use to be my catchphrase at that time. Of course, by the time the Jam broke up, I was married with a year old daughter, but that's quite beside the point!

I have a good musical sense memory. You know what I'm talking about? When you hear a song from ten or twenty or even - god...it pains me to admit it....THIRTY years ago, and are instantly transported to a point in time when these songs were new and being played over whatever kind of crappy wireless or stereo you had at the time? Not just - oh yeah that was 1980, so let's see, what was I doing then? More along the lines of closing your eyes and knowing that you were listening to this song while you were crouched in front of that tiny mirror on the front of your mother's china cabinet - the only mirror in the whole downstairs - and getting your face on to go to work in the morning.

I bought an old Carpenters CD last year, and made the mistake of listening to it for the first time when I was in the van and ferrying one of the Teen Peeps to one of their school activities, when a song came on that had such a powerful sense memory attached to it that I had to pull over until it was done. The song was "Maybe it's You" - 'Maybe it's you...maybe it's me...maybe it's just the constant rhythm of the sea...maybe it's just that I've never been the kind who could pass a lucky penny by....' All of a sudden I was 5 or 6 years old and sitting on my older sister's bed in our shared bedroom. She was in there with her friend, and I was feeling so privileged to be allowed in the same room, since they were a lofty 13 or 14 at the time. My sister was a HUGE Carpenters fan, and they'd purchased this Carpenter's LP which they were playing on the old and decrepit Decca she had. This was like a big box with a speaker that's not much bigger than most modern radios in ther front grille of the box. But it was portable - if you call something that weighed 40lbs 'portable' - and even had a carrying handle in the front grille. It was white with a red base, and at the time was the only 'stereo' we had in the house! It was summer, and our bedroom floor was linoleum and loved to catch the dust. So as I sat there quietly on the bed, basking in the joy of admittance to the inner sanctum of teenage girls, I watched the dust motes dancing in the air like the fairies our mother always conned us into thinking they were. I could smell that hot and dusty room as I sat in my brand new van which should have smelled of leather seats and brand new van-ness. And not until the CD had moved on to the next track could I bring myself to get back out into traffic again.

This doesn't happen with every song I hear. Which is probably a good thing, or else I'd be stuck in a room with bouncy walls and eating meals with a spoon. But when it does it feels like a gift. Like now...back to the Jam...."Going Underground". Sitting watching them on Top of the Pops with the smell of the bacon and eggs we just had for dinner still lingering in the air. Loving the politicism and activism of the lyrics and making plans to go down and chain myself to the fence of some US military base in southern England in protest over the nuclear warheads they had stored there. Back when I wanted carpets and not kids.

Back before the parasitic worm entered my brain and I abandoned politics for Playschool and activism for ABCs. Back before I realized that you don't need to chain yourself to fences to make a point about nuclear arms. Instead you can educate the generation that follows you to have a global conscience and care about their fellow planet-sharers.

All in all, it's a decent compromise. I have Teen Peeps who can't wait till they're old enough to vote and make a difference. Who know about politics and activism and the lessons of Live Aid and Roe v. Wade. Teen Peeps who can sing the words to more Jam songs than I can.

And That's Entertainment!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

London Calling.

It occurred to me after uploading that last epic that I have yet to refer to the bombings that took place in London the other day. So for what it's worth, here are a couple of musings on that little show.

I guess what surprises me most is how the US is amazed at the British ability to carry on with life as usual as though a handful of bombs going off in the tube stations and on a double decker bus happen every day.

I think a lot of you forget that England's not new to terrorism. We lived through a whole heaping helping of it during the last three decades of the 20th century, courtesy of our friends across the water, the Irish Republican Army. Whenever I hear about a terrorist act, be it the World Trade Center or the Madrid train bombings, or the latest London fiasco, it takes me back to the days when I lived in England and lived through the IRA's happy little bombing campaign.

For those of you who weren't there, here's a little hit list:
  • 10/31/71 Bomb explodes in Post Office Tower
  • 12/04/71 Bomb demolishes crowded Belfast pub.
  • 2/22/72 IRA bomb kills six at Aldershot barracks
  • 9/10/73 Bomb blasts rock central London
  • 2/4/74 Soldiers and children killed in coach bombing
  • 5/17/74 Dublin and Monaghan bomb kills 23
  • 6/17/74 IRA bombs Parliament
  • 7/17/74 Bomb blast at the Tower of London
  • 10/5/74 Four dead in Guilford pub blasts
  • 10/22/74 Bomb blast in London club
  • 10/28/74 Minister's wife survives bomb attack
  • 11/7/74 Two die when IRA throws bomb into Woolwich pub
  • 11/21/74 Birmingham pub blasts kill 19
  • 12/22/74 Heath's home is bombed
  • 9/5/75 London Hilton bombed
  • 11/27/75 TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead
  • 1/29/76 Explosions rock London's West End
  • 3/22/79 British Ambassador assassinated in Holland
  • 3/30/79 Car bomb kills Airey Neave
  • 8/27/79 IRA bomb kills Lord Mountbatten
  • 8/27/79 Soldiers die in Warrenpoint Massacre
  • 7/20/82 IRA bombs cause carnage in London
  • 10/27/82 RUC officers killed by IRA bomb
  • 12/17/83 Harrods bomb blast kills six
  • 10/12/84 Tory Cabinet in Brighton bomb blast
  • 3/23/87 30 hit as car bomb hits army base
  • 11/8/87 Bomb kills 11 at Enniskillen
  • 3/16/88 3 shot dead at Milltown cemetery
  • 2/12/89 Belfast lawyer Finucane murdered
  • 2/20/89 IRA bombs Tern Hill barracks
  • 9/22/89 Ten dead in Kent barracks bomb
  • 7/20/90 IRA bombs Stock Exchange
  • 4/10/92 IRA bombs Baltic Exchange in London killing three people
  • 12/3/92 Bomb explodes in Manchester
  • 3/20/93 Child dies in Warrington bomb attack
  • 4/24/93 IRA bomb devastates City of London
  • 2/10/96 Docklands bomb ends IRA ceasefire
  • 2/18/96 Bomb blast destroys London bus
  • 6/15/96 Huge explosion rocks central Manchester
  • 3/3/01 Car bomb devastates BBC news center
  • 5/6/01 Second blast at London post office
  • 8/3/01 Car bomb in west London injures seven

And there we have it - a partial list of the IRA's greatest hits.

I remember coming over here to the states and discovering that contrary to my long-held belief, the IRA were NOT a para-military terrorist organization. They were, in fact a bunch of patriots fighting for their freedom from the wicked old colonial United Kingdom. These patriotic freedom fighters targeted places like Enniskillen at a Remembrance Day service, killing old veterans, mothers of slain soldiers and little kids. They blew up a coach full of children because there happened to be a couple of British soldiers on it. They assassinated Ross McWhirter, the editor of the Guinness Book of World Records, for having the temerity to speak up against the IRA.

Freedom fighters.

When the WTC exploded in flames on 9/11, I was as shocked and horrified as the rest of the world. I also thought - at last - now they will understand that the difference between freedom fighters and terrorists depends on how far removed you are from the results of the actions they take. Will you now take a second look at your beliefs in regard to the IRA and their bloody reign of terror?

And then came the new bombings in London. This time not by the IRA but by our latest adopted bunch of terrorists, the Islamic extremists we've acquired courtesy of our adherence to the policies of the US. I watched the news broadcasts, and was heartwarmed to see how my countrymen and women picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and went back to work, having learned that nothing warms the heart of a terrorist more than to see a nation cowering in fear of more attacks, and altering their behavior and restricting the movements and freedoms of the citizenry of that nation just means that the terrorists have won, and achieved what they set out to do. I also noticed that the US broadcasters were swimming in their usual hyperbolic stream and boggling at Londoners' ability to carry on with their daily lives. And then I heard the newscasters talking about how the Brits were showing the good get-up-and-get-on-with-it spirit they showed during the London Blitz in WWII.

Apparently the IRA bombings and the terrorism of the last thirty years never happened.

Funny that.

Appypollylogies and Accents

As Ailema-child (aka The Babybat) reminded me in her usual succinct style, this is supposed to be a near-daily and not a near-weekly blog. So mea culpa....mea culpa and much beating of breasts and rending of garments. I'd promise to do better but sheesh, peeps....you KNOW how THAT one goes. I'm one of the least organized people I know. I only WISH I could be one of those folks whose every microsecond is graphed and diagrammed and on some kind of orderly list-like thing. THOSE people. The ones whose homes smell of Pine-Sol and Lysol and all the little baby Sols. The ones who never leave laundry till they're down to a single pair of knickers. The ones who ACHIEVE things!! THOSE people. Probably most of you.

I could blame it on the job that never ends - the unceasing flow of audio files being thrown at me from the Big Office in New York. And yes...there has been a ton of that lately. But the real reason for my not writing lately is shamefully this.....LAZINESS! Something about being a Gemini Tiger and doing a lot of chasing down food and then needing to sleep for a week. I did a mountain of transcription last weekend while you were all playing with your 4th of July fireworks. And then spent the next couple of days collecting audio files to do later in the week and being hideously LAZY and playing Crescent Solitaire and reading Stephen King, and LOOKING at the files I had to complete by Monday next and not actually making a START on them until a couple of days ago.

I thought I was in pretty good shape with the files until yesterday. All week I've been having an email problem. My email will talk to anyone and everyone. It's not picky at all. It welcomes all those little missives that tell me how I can achieve a more satisfying erection and buy a house with the lowest rates EVER. It talks to those people EVERY HOUR. Unfortunately it isn't talking to the one and only address I NEED it to talk to - the Big Office in New York where I send my completed transcripts. It's been this way since last Sunday. We had to reset something at the site because it wouldn't upload the new edition of the website that BB had worked so hard on. Unfortunately I think that when the system administrator at Infinology reset it, they did something wacky to the email settings. So now it won't talk to my employer. AT ALL. It'll communicate with them via their back-up Hotmail address, and even by their French office....but the actual Big Office in New York? NO!

So anyway we've been trying to figure out why this is happening all week long. Yesterday I had the brilliant idea that I could use a different email address to send in my files, and contacted one of the peeps in NY who assigns them - using my trusty AOL messenger (which I've not had up for days because I didn't want to be socked with any last minute files) - and the first words out of her fingers were "OH I tried CALLING you earlier. I have a question" Questions from the Big Office in New York usually never bode well and usually have something to do with me spazzing and uploading the wrong file or something stupid. But noooooooo....they had another file due on Monday next which has BRITISH ACCENTS and I was the ONLY one they could THINK of that was good with accents so pleeeeeeease....PLEEEEEEEEASE would I do this file???!!! Ack. So now I'm not in the good shape I thought I was. It's doable, but REALLY puts a dent in the plans I had for laying around in bed and watching movies and eating dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. Good with accents....bwah ha ha ha....I'm BRITISH ferchrissakes! Of course I can do British accents. It's the yank ones I have issues with :) !!! Although I did have one last week which was funny as hell. It was one of those financial statements to shareholders meetings kind of thingy, but it was a French guy trying to speak English. And it was obviously originally written in French and translated by a Frenchman who doesn't know the nuances of the English language. The funny part was that as I was transcribing it, I became aware of the fact that the only reason I could do it so well was because of all the years I frittered away watching shows like MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS and NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS where they often used to put on ridiculously over the top French accents and butcher the English language. HA! And I thought I was just WASTING TIME watching those things!!! All I had to do was picture John Cleese or Rowan Atkinson up there talking about shares and end of year averages. Peasy!!

I know...these things tend to go on forever because I don't write often enough and then wind up with a bazillion things to say, but bear with me for one last thought about accents and the way people talk.

There is NEPOTISM in local TV in Washington state.

Anyone who doesn't believe me has only to tune into Kiro 7's weather forecast in the evening. See, they used to have a weather guy at Kiro called Harry Wappler. (Which when Americans say it sounds like some nasty breed of insect.....and today we'll be dissecting the Harry Wappler....) Anyway. Harry was at Kiro forever. For like 20 years or some such thing. And he was REALLY good. Not necessarily his predictions (although they did name the Kiro doppler after him...the Wappler Doppler ....*chokes*), but his presentation. He spoke well. He was plausible and not the slightest bit irritating to my ears.

Well Harry retired a couple of years ago, and who took over his role at Kiro as the weather guy? His son, Andy Wappler. I guess they needed another Wappler so they didn't have to rename the Doppler?

And herein lies the problem. Think of all the TV news guys and girls you know. They all have one important thing in common. They can speak in clear, comprehensible sentences and read a teleprompter. Andy might have inherited his father's last name, but I think the speaking gene missed a generation. He's a freaking MUSHMOUTH. I don't know how many times I've been listening to the weather while doing something else and turned to the TV and asked WHAT?? WHAT did you just say?? He can't pronounce the word Seattle - which for someone doing the weather for this region one would think should be a pretty obvious requirement. It comes out of his mouth more like Settle. And when you hear something like 'Settle's 'onna have some shevy showers issevenin' " you'd say WHAT too!!

I'm a transcriptionist. I translate for mushmouths all the time. And even I have difficulty in following what he's trying to say most of the time. It says a lot for the loyalty of Washingtonians to their TV guys that nobody's started a campaign to get him a speech therapist yet. And it says a lot about the nepotism in local TV that he got the job in the first place.

Shevy Showers.

Bwaah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8 encore and other stuff

I've had a day to recover from my aggravation over Live 8, and have since read media accounts of the coverage from various parts of the world. So I'm back to render an updated version.

Live 8 good....MTV so unbelievably bad that a degree of badness has yet to be created which could come close to matching how bad it actually was.

Apparently in England they were treated to Live Aid-esque coverage courtesy of Auntie Beeb. They got to watch whole entire sets of songs by musicians and bands people actually care about. In fact, I was gobsmacked to read in the BBC talkback section that someone was griping and whining because the BBC had the temerity to talk over the end of a Muse song.

Laughs hysterically.

I take it back. Bob is king, and I'm waiting for the official Live 8 dvd to come out. Hopefully it won't take the 20 years that the Live Aid one did.

And moving right along...
Can I say - at the risk of sounding more and more like Oscar the Grouch every time I open my mouth - that I'm fed up with 4th of July festivities? Yeah...you know and I know that it's only July 3rd. But apparently nobody else in the neighborhood does. I'm becoming very aggravated by the ongoing firework displays which have been taking place since the beginning of the week, which quite often proceed until around midnight each day. You're really getting on my LAST NERVE people!!

It angers me more than anything because of the neighborhood pet population. As you know, we've got 6 cats and 3 dogs. Who HATE fireworks. If anything, they hate fireworks more than I do. By the time the festivities are over - not on July 4th...oh noooo....cause apparently not only do the mental defectives around here not realize when July 4th actually begins, they have no clue that it lasts a mere 24 hours either, and so we'll still be going through this shit by NEXT WEEKEND!...every pet in the neighborhood is going to be completely traumatized by the noise and the craziness. And I'm going to be insane from worrying that those dickheads who can't even tell time and date will be just as clueless when it comes to plotting a rocket's trajectory and it'll come down and set my house/car/one of the pine trees on fire while we're sleeping. And then we'll all die a horrible fiery death.

At least in England we celebrate Guy Fawkes Day (or bonfire night) on November 5th. November....when it's a) dark by 5 so kids don't have to stay up till 10 to be able to enjoy the majesty of a TNT Grand Patriot, and b) it's usually raining and has been for days so there is MUCH less chance that anything's going to get loose and set things ON FIRE! Oh and people have more respect for their neighbors than to treat Guy Fawke's DAY like Independence DAY and turn a DAY into a WEEK AND A HALF OF BOTTLE ROCKETS AND M 80s.!!

Oh and finally...finally....here's my ending rant. I never really felt one way or another about Tom Cruise. I liked him in 'An Interview With The Vampire', and 'Rainman'. Beyond that, I never thought he was that big of a deal. Now he's in my face so much that I actually wish him some kind of major disability. Like the permanent loss of his voice so that I didn't have to hear another inane comment about how this actor, who up until the age of 15 wanted to become a priest; who never took the time for a college education of any kind, has more knowledge about EVERYTHING than anyone who disagrees with his rabid belief in Scientology. And furthermore is exceptionally rude about pointing out this fact in interviews.

I'm sure that Wanda Yates who along with her husband believed that drugs were not necessary to aleviate the post partum psychosis she was slipping into, wishes now that she had taken the drugs and kept the 5 babies she drowned in the bathtub. Brooke Shields was brave enough to come forward and write a book about her struggles with PPD and how she was helped by means of anti-depressants. As someone prone to depression, I can sympathize with her totally.

I can also testify to the fact that Tom Cruise has his head so far up his rear end that he can see the vitamins he just ate for breakfast. How this little nobody can sit there and make such fatuous statements in front of a TV audience is a mystery to me. The scary thought is that if just one person comes off their anti-depressants cold turkey based on some irrational belief that Cruise actually does have more knowledge than all of the history of psychiatry put together, and then, as is plainly stated in the warnings section about these drugs, suffers a boomerang effect and commits suicide while in the pits of depression, is Cruise going to be held accountable?

I don't have a problem with anybody practicing their own religion. And I don't have a hatred of people who espouse scientology. I don't understand them, but if that's what they want to believe, all well and good. But cramming it in other people's faces is annoying. Making grand announcements and denouncements based on this religion is irresponsible. After all, John Travolta's been a Scientologist for years and we don't have to listen to him telling us at every single opportunity how he knows more than the collective scientific wisdom of the ages.

Tom Cruise should just shut up. And go somewhere. Far, far away.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's not very PC to say so but....

Live 8 sucked.

There. I said it.

As someone who lived through the whole Live Aid experience back in the '80s, I was expecting some kind of spectacular musical extravaganza, of the kind we saw back then. Being in England, I guess I was a little spoiled, as the BBC put on a stellar show. The BBC is a government-sponsored network, so there were no commercial interruptions, but that was only a part of it. There was a layout to it - a structure if you will. A band would come onstage at Wembley, do their three or four songs, and then they'd cut back to the studio for their "this is what we're here for, give us your money" pledge drive kind of thing. Most of the best-known bands of the '80s - and some from even earlier decades - came along and played their sets without remuneration of any kind - they even had to buy their own coffee and soda - with the understanding that all of the money raised from the day would go towards famine relief in Africa.

Of course there were glitches. It was a live show, the scale of which had never been previously attempted. It was taking place on two different continents. So naturally there were occasions where a band would take the stage in Philadelphia while Britain was still showing a PR piece, and they'd have to cut to the band's song in progress. That was expected. There were points where a microphone went dead - as in the Boomtown Rats' rendition of 'Rat Trap', or when the live feed from Wembley cut out and left Philadelphia's stadium in the dark during The Who's performance. These things happen when you're doing it by the seat of your pants.

But for the most part it worked, and it worked well, raising millions of dollars in aid for Africa to feed starving children, and raising the world's consciousness about a problem most of us had been in the dark about.

So when I heard that Bob Geldof et al had planned another Live Aid-esque spectacular for July 2nd which was aimed at making a pointed statement to the leaders of the G8 conference on how we would all very much like them to stop making life so freaking tough for folks in Africa and other third-world nations, I was most interested. When I heard that bands like U2 and Pink Floyd and The Who and REM were going to be making an appearance, I was even more interested. I wasn't quite sure how they were going to arrange the feeds from the seven or eight different countries which were hosting concerts - particularly because of the aforementioned problems with scheduling at Live Aid - but I figured they had come far enough along from Live Aid that they had ironed all of this problem out.

Well today was the day of the show. So we tuned to VH1 - the only source for this concert in the USA - in anticipation of seeing the best of today's bands in tandem with the huge stars of yesterday. Who wouldn't love a free show (as they made clear this was NOTHING to do with money) with this kind of line-up?

I can honestly say that I've never been more disgusted with a show in my entire life. With the exception of Benny Hill shows, but then you know in advance what you're going to get with that, so it's really your fault if you're dumb enough to watch it.

Instead of seeing a band come onstage and perform a set - cut to announcers to do their spiel - back to the stage for the next band, what we got was a couple of peppy announcers who seemed to have clones of themselves all over the place, who were talking to the crowds, talking about Live 8 (even though some of them weren't that knowledgeable about the facts), and generally just talking to hear themselves talk. WHILE THE FREAKING BAND PLAYED ON THE STAGE A COUPLE OF HUNDRED YARDS AWAY!!!

Oh they'd cut in for a song every now and then. They might even let you hear the beginning of the next song. Then they'd cut back to the announcers, who were already tiresome by the second time they showed their perky little faces, who'd spiel off and name drop some more before cutting to a commercial. And then they'd come back from commercial and cut to some other little dingbat duo who'd spend ten minutes letting us know what a GREAT time they were having and how much WONDERFUL music they'd heard, and how this show was JUST LIKE Live Aid except how they WEREN'T asking for money this time. And then they'd cut to a different city and talk to another of these cloned couples while ANOTHER band was playing in the background, before cutting to the band for ONE SONG IF WE WERE LUCKY!!

The only exception I saw was during the Pink Floyd set, where they actually got to play TWO AND A HALF SONGS IN A ROW before the incompetent idiots with microphones in hand were back in our faces telling us how much they were enjoying the show and how this was JUST LIKE Live Aid except how they WEREN'T asking for money this time. And then they cut to a commercial.

Well, I'll tell you this. It's a good thing they weren't asking for money, because if they had been, I wouldn't even have given them the handful of assorted foreign currency I've got in the bottom of my nightstand drawer. I've never seen such a complete waste of television time. And that includes golf. At least you get to see the players playing in golf. It's not just ten hours or so of announcers telling you about the GREAT shots being played in the background.

What the hell happened?? Is this just an Americans don't know how to run this kind of shit thing? Was the UK version any better? Was it a question of biting off more than you can chew and not being able to schedule anything properly because there was just TOO MUCH going on?

Those are all the charitable explanations. However, Azrael and I were born with a cynical spoon in our respective mouths. Aside from giving you a wonky grin, it also gives you a somewhat jaded view of the world, which isn't always a good thing. Anyway, Azrael's take is that this is one step removed from the whole Napster fiasco. Bands are so paranoid about the idea that anyone might use their home recording equipment to record their performance and pirate it for money that they didn't want the show to reflect their complete sets.

That's a fair enough point. Here's mine. I think the reason why they didn't show these acts live as they were being performed - or at least show the entire set - and the reason why they were making it SO KNOWN during the hours and hours of presentation that NO MONEY was being requested during this day of concerts, was for one simple reason. They want you to wait for a month or so and then buy the DVD when it comes out in time for Christmas. Yesiree Bob. All of these acts that we tuned in to see, and saw just a smidgeon of are going to wind up on a compilation or two - with the purchase price (or most of it) going towards funds for starving people or whatever they have in mind for it.

And that sucks. Cause it's a lie. At Live Aid they reminded us after every set that the performers were giving their time and talent for free so that we would reach into our pockets and help to feed people who were dying of starvation and starvation related diseases. And we gave. We gave because to get in to see a Bowie concert would have cost us $10. A Queen concert or a U2 concert would have cost as much. A Duran Duran or Elton John concert, or a concert by The Who or The Boomtown Rats would have set you back easily that $10. And here we got to sit in the comfort of our own homes and watch band after band come out and perform for hours. Whole performances of multiple songs. It was WORTH sticking your hand in your pocket for. Live 8 was supposed to be about raising awareness for the G8 summit and NOTHING as they kept so tiresomely repeating to us, NOTHING to do with raising money.

Well if that's the truth, and the cynical reason of money from DVD doesn't apply, and the only reason the bands are doing these free concerts is to raise awareness, why the hell should they CARE if someone tapes their performance from the TV? If they're not intending to make ANY money off it, why does it MATTER that their fans tune in and record them?

If they're that paranoid, why even televise it? Why not just have a show where these annoying announcers got together in a studio and yakked for ten hours? It was basically all they were doing on the show in any case. Hey, you could even have music playing in the background, so it would ALMOST seem like we were there. Oh wait...that's what we got, wasn't it?

If this was the way Bob intended it to go when he started making plans for Live 8, then I've lost my respect for him. If you're not going to give the world a real concert, then don't advertise it as such. If all we're going to get is parts of a song from our favorite bands, then don't announce it as though they're going to be doing a live performance. And if you're doing it to raise awareness of an issue, why would you want to piss off the people whose awareness you want to raise? That seems to make no sense at all to me.

Live 8 needed aid today. Aid in deciding what it wanted to be.

Now you'll have to excuse me cause I'm off to go find our Live Aid DVD (and no - I didn't mind paying for something I'd ALREADY SEEN cause that's a different thing entirely) and watch how a REAL live benefit concert should be put together.