Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

bibliophilia: Christmas haul
Vin and Charles got me three books I totally wanted (Well, because I told 'em, but weren't they obliging?): Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett, Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Earthquake Weather by one of my now-favorite authors, Tim Powers.

I'd actually read the Pratchett book before, but (as Charles knows) it's one of those books I like rereading every now and then, because it's fun and funny, and doesn't require actual engaging of mental faculties. In other words, it's shitlit, which I've described before as the intellectual equivalent of junk food: no nutritional value, but yummy if you're in the right kind of mood. Taking place in Pratchett's popular Discworld fantasy setting, it's all about an Occidental wizard who becomes involved in an extremely... polite oriental revolution, along with his friends, a gang of decrepit but still very able octogenarian barbarians. Silly and satisfying.

Another piece of fine shitlit was the Hamilton book, the latest installment in her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. When Vin first lent one of these novels to me, I thought it was just a pathetic Buffy rip-off, and being a freaky Buffy-head myself, I thoroughly expected to be contemptous of the whole thing. To my surprise, I liked it: a fast-paced, sexy, and intelligent-enough feminist rendering of classic horror tropes in a very contemporary setting. This most recent episode was as enjoyable as all the rest.

I'm still finishing up Earthquake Weather, which is not as good as Declare, the other Powers book I've read, but intriguing enough in its premise. To start with, a possessed young woman murders the current incarnation of the legendary Fisher King, which causes all sorts of cataclysmic disturbances in the spiritual and physical planes. And things go downhill from there. This 1997 novel is not as skillful as Powers's later work-- sometimes the pacing gets bogged down in too much description, and there seem to be too many characters running around for them to be developed adequately. Then again, it is a sequel of sorts to an earlier work, so maybe I lack perspective since I haven't read that one. In any case, it's still a solid read, and all the more forgiveable since I didn't have to pay for it.

Nikki bit in at 2:36 PM :: ::

I did it, I did it, I'm so cool that I did it! Finally fixed everything on this blog to my satisfaction, including that pesky comment script and the tagboard color. I also fixed up a new template for Dean's birthday present (Shh! It's not up yet. Don't tell!), again thanks to the so-creative Eris. I'm utterly pleased with myself for learning a new skill.

new year's revolution
Speaking of new skills... I usually don't make New Year's resolutions, because (a) I actually like most of my vices, and (b) I'm really a very lazy person by nature; I just manage my time well so it doesn't look like it. But this year I have decided that I'm going to learn how to letter comics.

By computer, of course, not by hand, because my printing sucks, but really, given the wonders of technology, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to do this. A major reason why I want to do it is that I'd like to see Kestrel Studios put out a (finally!) complete trade paperback of The Lost, which probably isn't going to happen unless we can get the original art re-lettered. (Don't ask-- shit happens in the world of self-publishing.)

So hopefully Vin will have resource material for me to consult, and Marco, Carl, Andrew, and El will have advice from the experts. After all, it's not like it's rocket science... er, is it?
Nikki bit in at 1:10 AM :: ::
Monday, December 29, 2003

happy new look
As you've no doubt figured out by now (My readers are sharp, they are!), I've changed my blog template. Partly in celebration of the coming new year, but mostly because I felt way too many people were using the ol' 'jellyfish' template, and I was starting to feel... mundane.

I got this one from a clearly very talented lady known as 'Eris' (Yes, I talk to Greek goddesses now...), who provides some very nice imageless templates (the best for Blogspot users!) for free at her website. It's a pretty cool selection, and easy enough for even a know-nothing like me to use. So, yay, Eris!

That said, big yay! also to Andrew, who taught me the skills to customize everything all on my own. I am so proud of myself it's disgusting. But doesn't it just look lovely? Won't my circle of co-bloggers be killingly envious? Ha!

useless knowledge
Another neat tidbit of superstition:

If your nose itches, your mouth is in danger--
you'll kiss a fool and meet a stranger.
Rub the itch to wood; it will come to good.

Now, personally, I'm not entirely certain that kissing a fool is actually worse than going around rubbing your nose against the nearest piece of wood. I mean, you'd look pretty silly Eskimo-kissing a tree or tabletop, not to mention that you might get a splinter! In fact, I'm sure it would be quite bad for your skin; and besides, there are some perfectly nice fools out there, and honestly, a kiss or two won't kill ya.

However, old wifely wisdom further says that if your right nostril in particular itches, it means that you will have a female visitor; if the left nostril itches, your visitor will be male. So I guess you should pay attention first to the precise area of your itching, before you decide which to get up close and personal with: hunk or hunk of wood?
Nikki bit in at 6:11 PM :: ::
Sunday, December 28, 2003

reading, retail, and suspension of disbelief
Practically since Sage's birth, Dean and I have been reading to her. This is harder than it sounds, since she has an attention span of approximately half a minute, and also because bookstore salesladies tend to look at you cross-eyed when you ask them where the section for six-month-, fourteen-month-, or twenty-two-month-olds is located. Apparently no one is actually expected to read or be read to in this country until they're at least four.

Not our little girl, though. Not only does she now have a collection of books to rival those of many adults, today she picked up my novel, flipped to a page like she knew what she was looking for, and commenced reading aloud to me, eyes glued to the page as she did so. Of course, what she was saying by no means resembled English or any of the many languages I know how to cuss in. Regardless, she pretended to read, so I pretended to understand; and it was all good.

out in the weird world
What started out as a practical joke five years ago has evolved into an interesting Yuletide tradition in Birmingham, Alabama. Calling themselves 'the Naked Elves', a group of adult men entertained at nearly 30 apartments, restaurants, and homes this year, singing off-key carols while dressed in nothing but red boxer shorts, Santa hats, and light-up suspenders.

It began as a naughty serenade to the wife of Neal Phillips, one of the four original Naked Elves. Since then, the Elves have become something of a yearly holiday rage, garnering fans across two counties, and braving temperatures as low as 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius!) to spread their slightly kinky cheer.

So how come nothing like this ever happened when I used to live in Alabama?
Nikki bit in at 11:03 PM :: ::
Saturday, December 27, 2003

causes for celebration
Arnold and Cynthia are getting married today! These are two of the nicest people on the planet, and sooo perfectly matched it's almost enough to make me question my adamant non-belief in the whole 'soulmate' concept.

It's also Camille's birthday, and since almost the whole gang is going to the wedding later, we'll be celebrating her birth anniversary in style, tricked out in barongs and fancy dress. Should be fun!

useless knowledge: finger factoids
A recent study by California researchers posits that lesbian women (Isn't this a redundant phrase? Are there non-women lesbians?) have significantly longer ring fingers than index fingers. According to these Berkley-based scientists, a majority of men have the same hand configuration, possibly indicative of increased levels of, well, maleness.

In a curiously similar superstition, old wives' tales inform us that werewolves in human form have index fingers equal in length or longer than their middle fingers. They can also be spotted via hair on their palms and eyebrows that meet (a phenomenon referred to in current lingo as a 'unibrow').

All these supposed identifying marks sound about equally preposterous to me (unless Colin Farrell is, in fact, a lycanthrope). But you're checking out your hands now, aren't you?
Nikki bit in at 11:46 AM :: ::
Friday, December 26, 2003

midnight madness
I woke up in the wee hours of last night filled with a vague but acute sense of distress concerning Sage. After several minutes of arguing in vain with myself that there was no need to make a big fuss and wake the rest of the household up, I gave in and went to her bedroom to check on her.

Weirdly enough, she was awake too, having gotten up to ask her nanny for a middle-of-the-night milk bottle, something she hardly ever does anymore. Usually when she wakes up unexpectedly, she's crabby, wanting only to be left alone so she can return to slumberland; but last night, she was more than willing to cuddle and let me stroke her hair and whisper comforting mommy things in her ear.

Psychic connection?

If there's anything that occasionally rattles my so-called 'surreal calm' (Dean's words, not mine), it's the worry that I'm just too damned happy, and consequently, sooner or later the proverbial other shoe is going to stomp down upon me with a vengeance.

Which, I know, is the kind of concern that makes most people say, "We should only be so lucky!"

I do know I'm lucky, and I know that it's an extremely silly thing to worry over, but apparently, my subconscious has no idea.

reaching for the star... city
I'm thinking that maybe my guys and I could celebrate Dean's upcoming birthday at Star City or some similar place next Saturday. His actual birthday is on Friday, January 2, but Saturday would probably be better since (a) I'm sure Dean would want to spend the day itself with Sagey, who is a mite too young to really enjoy a carnival atmosphere, and (b) January 2 is also Vinnie's father's birthday, which means that Vin would be unable to join us, and would probably pout relentlessly as a result.

So, Saturday, if Dean and the gang agree. We've been wanting to go to that sort of thing anyway ('Tis the season, and all that.), and it might be a fun way to offset Dean's yearly feeling of impending middle age (at the age of just thirtysomething, what a silly!). Not our treat, though, because admittedly I overspent on Christmas this year.

Well, guys?
Nikki bit in at 12:29 PM :: ::
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas past
Well, just last night, actually. We had dinner at the Pen, courtesy of Dean's gracious and always gorgeous mother. The spread was awesome (including roast beef, duck, venison, smoked salmon, and some really scrumptious pate), and the atmosphere was tension-filled, as it usually is on Christmas Eve with my in-laws. It's gotten to the point where it's really more funny than anything; I'm so used to it that I hardly know what to do with myself if no one screams at anyone else the night before Christmas.

Sage was beautiful in purple velvet, and I wore a translucent black (It's not like I actually own many clothes in other colors!) number that Dean immediately vetoed as overly daring. Obedient wife that I am, I smiled at him sweetly, flashed some tit, and wore it anyway.

Later, we went to a little get-together at Dean's stepbrother's, where we met a bunch of new people who were either witty and charming, or already drunk in that delightful, glassy-eyed, emptily smiley sort of way. Dean and his brother reconnected after many years of estrangement, which served as a nicely poignant, Christmasy cap to the evening.

It's now Christmas morning, and raised as I was by an American mom, this is the day when we actually open presents under the tree, have a nice family meal, that kind of thing. We woke up at the crack of dawn (Well, 6:30, but I think that 9 a.m. still qualifies as the proverbial crack, so there you go.), gorged ourselves on ensaymada, glazed ham, and hot chocolate with marshmallows (really not cold enough for cocoa, but it just ain't Christmas to me without it), and attacked the hillock of accumulated gifts.

Sage, of course, received more presents than all the rest of our little family put together... to the point where she became overwhelmed and simply sat there, staring at the mounds of wrapping paper threatening to engulf her. After a while, she became acclimatized and started playing with unbridled glee. Her current favorites are a Winnie-the-Pooh fridge from her father and me, and a laptop (!) from her grandmother in the States.

I got a bunch of fabulous presents, along with a couple of questionable ones from people who I didn't tell what I wanted. Serves me right, I suppose. It was all a lot of fun, but a part of me is just relieved that the greater portion of all the hoo-ha is over.

Am I getting old, or what?

Boyet and me
Christopher de Leon wants a copy of Siglo. He spotted my brother walking around with his at the GMA Christmas party (My brother is an actor.), and immediately coveted it, which is obviously a testament to Carl's magnificent book design and his sister Yang's gorgeous cover art.

I mention this not because I'm particularly starstruck (Sadly, for the sister of an artista, I'm so ignorant that local celebs practically have to bite me on the nose before I manage to recognize them.), but because I have a weird pseudo-history with ol' Boyet, having spoken to him twice as a phone-in friend on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

People tend to choose me as a resource person for that sort of thing, I'm not sure why. Then again, maybe I do know. Probably they think: "Now who do I know who hangs around home all day, and whose mind is cluttered with an absurd miscellany of useless information? Aha, Nikki!"

Good to know I'm good for something.
Nikki bit in at 9:40 AM :: ::
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

oh, my beloved...
Been blog-silent again because of the terrible tragedy that recently occurred in our household. It was crippling, devastating... Dean and I were so affected that we've been all but bedridden for the past few days.

Yup, our computer blew out. There was some kind of power surge, and the poor machine just spazzed out and refused to boot thereafter, leaving us bereft of our files, our internet connection, and, most appallingly, our respective computer games. We did our best to cope with the new electronic entertainment-less paradigm, but after playtime with Sagey, books, comics, and mindless physical gratification, there just didn't seem to be all that much to do during the Christmas break except, well, sleep.

Gah. Goes to show you how dependent we are on this little beige box. Thank God it's back!!

And now I have to go plow through my 67,000 accumulated email messages...
Nikki bit in at 12:53 AM :: ::
Friday, December 19, 2003

I didn't want to be blog-silent these past couple of days, but a long-standing corporate client suddenly contacted me last Tuesday for a major rewrite of an already-completed project. (In fact, for 'major rewrite', you can just substitute the phrase 'complete overhaul'.) Not my fault, really: the former person in charge of the project suddenly got the axe, and of course, new management equals new specs. So I had to wade through around 60 pages of new resource material in order to come up with nine pages of new copy.

I surprised myself by managing to do it in just two days, but now I have no brain.

Fortunately, you don't need too much brain power to play most PC games, so I picked up a couple of new ones when Dean and I were in Greenhills. I was all excited to play Mall Tycoon 2, where you get to create your own mall from the ground up, but I found the gameplay a little intimidating since they don't even have tutorials or hints or in-game help or anything! There's so much detail it's amazing, but it also makes it too hard to learn without some kind of guidance. (Or maybe it's just my current lack of cranial capacity.)

Luckily, Sea World Adventure Park Tycoon has proven to be much more fun. As the name implies, you get to build your own Sea World Adventure Park, in either free build mode or a series of scenarios ranging from ludicrously easy to tear-your-hair-out. The visuals are gorgeous (I've spent valuable minutes so far just watching my seals play in their habitat.), and it's both easy to learn and absorbing to play. In fact, I'm going right back to it as soon as I'm done publishing this!

useless knowledge
Since reading The Name of the Rose, I've been intrigued by the concept of canonical 'hours'. Admittedly, this is partly because they have such cool names (like 'Matins' and 'Compline'), but also because no one has seemed able to clearly explain to me exactly what times these so-called 'hours' (which last a lot longer than 60 minutes) correspond to.

Turns out it works like this: the monks would divide the daylight portion of each day into four equal parts (from Prime to Nones), and the period of darkness was divvied up likewise (from Vespers to Lauds). So if the sun rose at 6 a.m. and set at 6 p.m., your canonical day would equate to standard time like this:

Prime = 6 a.m.
Terce = 9 a.m.
Sext = 12 noon
Nones = 3 p.m.
Vespers = 6 p.m.
Compline = 9 p.m.
Matins = 12 midnight
Lauds = 3 a.m.

So it looks like each canonical hour equals three of our regular hours, but the catch is that it only works that way during an equinox! The rest of the year, the nighttime can be longer than the daytime, as well as vice versa, meaning that sometimes the daylight 'hours' are significantly longer than the darkness 'hours', or the other way around.

To complicate matters further, the monks did not get up with the sun, but before it-- usually at Lauds, but sometimes at Matins, or sometimes they combined Matins with Lauds (presumably when no one wanted to get up quite that early). The astonishing thing is that everyone apparently understood how this works, and considered it a perfectly reasonable method of timekeeping.

It's because the names are just so neat, I bet.
Nikki bit in at 1:27 PM :: ::
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

wrap artist
When I was young, and living at home, my mother used to pay me 100 pesos per present to wrap her Christmas gifts for her. Now this was a lot of money for a little kid (Actually, 100 bucks a pop is still a lot of money just for wrapping presents; I mean, it's not like I even wrap them that well or anything.), so it was a pretty great yearly gig for me.

The only catch was that I had to wrap the gifts she was giving me along with all the others. I wasn't supposed to know which ones they were, but when you're the only daughter and younger by seven years than your next-youngest sibling, it ain't hard to guess who the Little Missy Baking Set is meant for!

So, no surprises for me on Christmas Day. Now don't get me wrong, the presents were terrific presents, and always just what I wanted. (Except for the Little Missy Baking Set, which Mom misplaced right after I wrapped it, and therefore only gave to me when she found it at last years later. I was fifteen.) But it added just a touch of cynicism to my holiday season, one that's never quite gone away.

Nowadays, I go around telling my nearest and dearest exactly what I want for Christmas. Not 'hinting', mind you-- telling. Some people think this takes all the magic out of the whole gift-opening ritual, but to my mind, having to pretend I adore some object which I really find quite inexplicable is generally more embarrassing than magical.

Yes, I've grown up into a person who's not overly fond of surprises. And yeah, I wrap all the gifts for my family, including the ones my husband is giving me. Even though we employ two of the most obliging helpers in the world, it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me if I don't wrap every single present myself.

So I guess the magic of Christmas is wherever you personally know where to find it. And I know exactly what I'm getting on Christmas Day, and I can't wait to open my gifts and pretend to be all surprised!

Speaking of magic...
Some time ago, Dean overheard the following conversation between two young girls in our building's elevator:

GIRL 1: I forgot to tell you, I discovered the coolest thing. It's called Magic Tape, and when you stick things with it, you can hardly see it! Parang walang tape!

GIRL 2: Oh my God! No way!

Like I said, magic is where you find it. And cynicism isn't necessarily a bad thing...
Nikki bit in at 12:58 AM :: ::
Monday, December 15, 2003

"Life isn't bliss.
Life is just this:
it's living."
--William the Bloody

Yes, I actually am posting a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which, yeah, I know, reeking of geeking. But I caught the rerun of the musical episode on TV tonight, and the line just struck me as very true. Life isn't a bitch or a beach, necessarily; your life is however you choose to live it.

Neat, and neatly put.

case in point
A Filipina housewife sliced off her husband's penis last Thursday night while he was sleeping. She had discovered incriminating text messages from another woman on his cell phone, and apparently decided to, er, nip the problem in the bud, so to speak. Having done the deed, she then suffered a bout of remorse and rushed the unfortunate man to the hospital, but forgot to take the severed organ along with her. After she rushed home to retrieve it, doctors eventually managed to reattach her husband's manhood.

See? You make your bed, and sometimes you get sliced up even as you lie in it.
Nikki bit in at 10:47 PM :: ::
Sunday, December 14, 2003

comics convention
Hung out at the C3Con yesterday, even though it's something I once promised I'd never do again. It's crowded, it's noisy, and most of all, cosplayers (a.k.a. costume players) scare me. (Totally crazy people I can handle; it's the marginally insane I have trouble with.) But I went anyway, to cheer on Marco and Carl, who both released their new books (Angel Ace Next and the collected Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah trade, respectively); and to sign a few copies of Siglo, which also enjoyed its soft release that day.

Wasn't as bad as previous years-- less loud, for one thing, and the live music was infinitely better. Also, wandering around looking for a take-home present for Sage, Dean and I managed to pick up Mage: the Hero Discovered (and a couple of other neat titles) for a song. I am a huge Kevin Matchstick fan, so I was bouncing around happily for a while... until I caught sight of yet another couple of cosplayers, and thereafter shrank into a huddle of quivering terror.

spam i am
Got an offer from someone named Joannie in my inbox today. She says that she can help me "become the man that women desire!" While this was definitely not one of the items on my Christmas list to Santa, it's pretty impressive if Joannie can actually pull it off. In fact, if she can really turn me into any kind of man at all, it's obviously a revolutionary new product she's hawking...

Heard from Dean that some guy was charged in court because he called up and verbally abused the spammers who kept sending him offers to increase his penis size. I wish I could be on the jury when this fella goes to trial, because I'd not only let him off, I'd spend my own money to give him some kind of award.
Nikki bit in at 3:53 PM :: ::
Saturday, December 13, 2003

All right, already!
Physically, it has not been a great week. First the homicidal coconut on Sunday; then the debilitating fever on Tuesday; and since Thursday, I’ve had this on-again, off-again allergy to God knows what. It keeps puffing and de-puffing and re-puffing my eyelids, so that I’m starting to feel like some kind of pathetic were-goldfish.

Possibly I’ve offended some kind of Wiccan in some way, and she/he has put some kinda hex on me? If so, whoever you are, I’m sorry already, okay? I probably didn’t mean it. Or if I did, I take it back. Scratch that-- knowing me, if I said or did something nasty, most likely I did mean it, and you deserved it, and I'd rather take my licks than back down.

So there.

scrub a dub
I have a sneaking suspicion the majority of my readers are not female. If you are, however (or even if you're not, and you just happen to be kikay anyway), and if you live someplace where you can shop at a Watson's, go there now and pick up a jar of their Simply Divine sugar scrub. It's this exfoliating body polish with sugar (natch!) and macadamia and almond oil, and one good shower with it will turn your skin into scrumptious caramel butter. Smells delectable, too, and the Megamall Watson's has a buy-one-take-one on it for only 99 bucks. So your wallet will thank me, your complexion will thank me, your significant other will thank me. Heck, even the ants that live in your bathroom will thank me!

Just kidding about the ants: the scrub washes away thoroughly, so it doesn't seem to attract pests. However, my own supply of it seems to have depleted alarmingly. I suspect my husband has been snacking on it in the shower...

My health may be shit, but at least my skin is divine!
Nikki bit in at 3:26 PM :: ::
Thursday, December 11, 2003

my favoritest poem ever
e.e. cummings is my absolute poetry idol, even though I can't even claim to understand all his work. (He was deeply, deeply weird.) I just realized last weekend that some people have never even encountered his poetry, so I figured I ought to share. Remember, this is not mine, it's his!

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

There's an ongoing debate as to whether his name should actually be spelled 'e.e.' or (gasp!) 'E.E.' I really don't much care.

Katja-Nora Bochnikova has decided to run for the European Parliament. Better known as Dolly Buster, one of the biggest names in the European porn industry, she has made literally hundreds of X-rated films, as well as written a series of books starring one Lilly DeLight, a fictional porn-star-turned-amateur-detective. The books have been so successful that Bochnikova has even been inducted into Das Syndikat, the association of German mystery authors. However, Dolly Buster apparently now feels that her talents should be turned in yet another direction. "I want to represent the Czech Republic's interests in Brussels," she says.

So this is what people do when they can't do porn anymore, eh?
Nikki bit in at 12:59 PM :: ::
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Sitio Filipino
Dean took me to dinner for no reason at all last Monday. (And now you know why we've been happily married for eight years!) We ate at the Podium's Sitio Filipino, where we ordered the same kind of food we usually get at Ang Bistro Sa Remedios, our old standby Pinoy restaurant. The food was probably 80% as good, at about 50% of the price, and 100% more conveniently located, since we live just a few blocks away! I thoroughly enjoyed my sugpo sa aligue, while Dean seemed quite pleased with his inihaw na baboy and adobo rice. And the dangerously fatty-yet-crispy chicharon was a yummy surprise for us both. The place definitely goes on my list of favorite restaurants.

Possibly as a delayed reaction to my near-death coconut encounter, I fell victim to some virus or another yesterday. I spent the morning and afternoon laid up in bed with a ludicrously high temperature, feeling much like a lump of dough baking in an oven. But I'm a lot better now, thanks to judicious doses of Tylenol, iced tea, and Ultimate Cheese pizza.

bibliophilia: The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
I actually enjoyed this book well enough, even though it bushwhacked me by being almost entirely about gay characters! Now I have nothing against homosexuality in life or in literature, but honestly! They could warn a girl before the young University magister and the studly heir to the dukedom suddenly fall into each other's arms. Especially when said girl is feverish and has to reread every paragraph over to make sure she understood it correctly...

Anyway. The Fall of the Kings is a fantasy novel set in a land which once had kings, wizards, and magic, only they overthrew the kings, killed all the wizards, and no one believes in the magic anymore. When University magister Basil St Cloud (gay protagonist #1) sets out to prove that magic once existed, many lives are thrown in turmoil, particularly that of his lover Theron Campion (gay protagonist #2), who may possibly be the heir to the kingdom. (Actually, nearly everyone in this book is gay. But it's well-written. So now that you've been warned, unlike me, go on out and read it. It ain't bad.)
Nikki bit in at 4:22 PM :: ::
Monday, December 08, 2003

near-death experience
Was walking home from the mall last night when I nearly got brained by a falling coconut! It fell an inch or two past my nose, I swear; I could hear the wind of its passing.

Now, this is pretty extraordinary, considering I actually live in the premiere metropolis in the country, and had hitherto presumed I was safe from such agricultural-type perils. Since I am far from a nature-lover myself, perhaps it was Mother Nature's way of letting me know that she is not exactly a Nikki-lover, either?

Sheesh. No wonder they call her a mother.

silly, silly
The gang and I were at Rockwell last Saturday, where Dean ran into Andrew's identical twin in the men's room. When he reported this sighting to the rest of us, somebody actually said, "But how did you know it was him?"

Which goes to show you that superior smarts will not always save you from supreme silliness.

poem: to Lancelot

if you had only stayed,
we might have found a way
besides the conflagration.

but you
were the first to leave, remember:
on your high horse as always--
certain of your strength,
sure in your

we were never so sure or certain,
left stumbling in
your wake,
two points
of a pointless triangle.

he loved you
more than I, you know.
the pyre scorched but my skin;
while he was consumed from within,
and far more grievously.

you rode back
through the flames too late
to thwart the will of fate.
not even such as we
can rebuild
a kingdom
from ashes.
Nikki bit in at 1:07 PM :: ::
Saturday, December 06, 2003

pornography on pause
I hate to admit it, but I just can't do it.

Once upon a time, I could reel off libido-blowing sex scenes at the drop of a panty, but somewhere in the course of the last couple of years, I seem to have lost the ability. Of course, having my not-quite-two-year-old daughter wandering in and out of the room while I'm trying to write probably hasn't helped, but it used to be easy. It used to be doable without really having to engage my brain's higher functions. (And yeah, I can hear some of you mouthing off about how porn has nothing to do with the brain or higher functions. Pipe down, ya smartasses!)

I could just go ahead and churn out some mediocre work for as long as my Porn Guy is willing to pay for it, but I'm crippled by my excellence-in-all-things doctrine. So, whether this incapacity is temporary or permanent remains to be seen, but for now, the revival of my pornographic career is on hold.

"Gah", as my husband would say.

this is your brain
Dean pointed out this piece in Newsweek about an American woman who woke up from a stroke with a brand-new, completely involuntary British accent. Turned out it's a phenomenon called Foreign Accent Syndrome, which is very rare, but can happen if you incur injury to a specific portion of your brain. I always thought accents were a product of cultural upbringing, but now it seems they're partly neorological as well. So all you have to do is get yourself thumped on the head in precisely the right way, and bam! There you are, sounding authentically French or Irish or whatever. Though with my luck, I'd probably wind up speaking just like that half-assed Cockney kid from Les Miserables.

Newsweek also made mention of new discoveries on synaesthesia, which is another rare mental syndrome, in which one type of sensory input is confused with information of a different sense. For example, some synaesthetes have been known to perceive the color red as "the sound of trumpets", and the taste of grapefruit as "a twisted triangle shape". (Alan Moore portrayed it as a kind of superpower in his Top Ten.) Around one in every 25,000 people is born with synaesthesia, and sadly, I'm not one of them. Would've been cool to have a totally original way of seeing (smelling? tasting?) the world.
Nikki bit in at 4:12 PM :: ::
Friday, December 05, 2003

Just finished one creative project (big hint in the topic heading there, by the way) and have been tentatively commissioned to do another. It's been an absolute age since I got to do creative stuff. It pays practically dirt (and sometimes cheaper than dirt!) compared to my corporate work, but it's generally around a thousand times more fun. And Elbert has even offered to be my artist for the first project! I'm sooo sick of always partnering with Marco. (Heh. I just said that to check if he's reading!)

out in the weird world
A 44-year-old German woman stripped naked in a Cairo airport yesterday just before she was scheduled to board her flight. Other passengers looked on in astonishment (and horror/delight?) until a doctor arrived to inject the woman with tranquilizers, and the plane finally left without her. The impromptu striptease was later explained as an attack of nerves.

I don't know, I guess I've just never been that nervous...

You, too, can win an award for bad sex!
Indian investigative journalist Aniruddha Bahal just won the London Literary Review's 11th annual 'Bad Sex in Fiction' award for his book Bunker 13.

In the offending passage, a woman drops her trousers to reveal a strategically-placed swastika to the book's hero, previously described as "an ancient Aryan warlord". The deathless prose continues as follows:

"Your RPM is hitting a new high. To wait any longer would be to lose prime time...

"She picks up a Bugatti's momentum. You want her more at a Volkswagen's steady trot. Squeeze the maximum mileage out of your gallon of gas. But she's eating up the road with all cylinders blazing. You lift her out. You want to try different kinds of fusion."

The judges cited the 'exuberance and energy' of the writing, granting Bahal the dubious distinction over rival nominees Paul Theroux, Paulo Coelho, and John Updike.
Nikki bit in at 4:24 PM :: ::
Thursday, December 04, 2003

Who's the Man?!
Andrew fixed my blog! With a tagboard and comments and a hit counter an' everything. And so far it seems to be behaving very well and not doing foolish things like freezing halfway down the page. Andrew is the coolest ever!

childhood mysteries
As I was reading to Sage from her nursery rhymes book, I was struck by the tantalizing mysteriousness of many of the entries. As some of you may know, a lot of nursery rhymes and fairy tales actually have their roots in actual events, such as 'Ring Around The Rosie', which is supposedly about the Black Plague of 1347.

In case you don't know:

Ring around the rosie (A round, red rash was often the first indication of infection.)
A pocketful of posies (They used to carry little bunches of flowers around to combat the smell of dead and dying bodies.)
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. (This is either a corruption of the sneezing sound 'achoo', or a reference to the fact that they would burn the corpses to prevent the further spread of disease.)

So I can't help but wonder what some of those other rhymes are really about. Why, for example, was some king somewhere served a pie of four-and-twenty blackbirds? What was that all about? Who was Wee Willie Winkie, and why did he like to run around town in his nightgown? And, most puzzling to my mind, why did the cheese stand alone?

untruth in advertising
As Dean and I were walking home last night, we spotted a delivery truck bearing the logo Solomon Beds, with the startling tag line since the beginning of time...

Which is really quite the revelation! I mean, who knew that beds even predated mankind? Were they made in extra-giant-emperor size to accommodate the brachiosaurs? Or super-teeny-tiny, to give the paramecia a comfy place to rest?

Honestly. Do people not think before they come up with that kind of thing?
Nikki bit in at 12:49 PM :: ::
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

bibliophilia: Declare by Tim Powers
I LOVED this book! It's a masterful concoction of espionage and the supernatural, set towards the end of World War II (which should make Vin happy, except I'm never lending it to him, 'cause he takes forever to read anything). Spiced with liberal doses of the Arabian Nights and Hebraic mythology, and a sprinkling of Rudyard Kipling, it manages to be both excitingly and intelligently written. Powers even pulls off the neat trick of stirring in a truly daunting heap of exposition while never once diluting the narrative flavor. The characters are solidly drawn, the pace is expertly maintained, and a couple of the plot twists managed to surprise even me, jaded mythology nerd that I am.

What's not to love? It was so good, it even made my list of The Five Books I Would Save If They Were Going To Burn Everything Else.

The Five Books I Would Save If They Were Going To Burn Everything Else
(in no particular order)

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (which is a single novel, not a trilogy; ask any Tolkien scholar)
2. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
3. The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie
4. The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
5. Declare by Tim Powers

Upon inspection of this list, it would seem I particularly enjoy books titled 'the blank of blank'. I used to have some other titles on this list (Yup, this is the kind of thing I actually ponder periodically!), but since they have spun into multi-book series, they no longer qualify under my single-book rule.

I woulda saved G.G. Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude too, but Dean is going to save that anyway, and besides, it doesn't start with the word 'the'.

the eight
Not the book by Katherine Neville (although I enjoyed that one when it came out way back in my college days), but the years that Dean and I have been married. It was our anniversary last Monday, and he spoiled me silly with dinner at Chateau 1771 (If you haven't tried their coffee pie, you should.), gorgeous white lilies (my favorite flower), and a tri-gold bracelet that I am still gloating over two days later. You know you really love a piece of jewelry when you find yourself gesticulating madly in conversation just to show it off.

Most of the time I don't even realize that eight years of almost entirely happy marriage is a rare thing nowadays. (And even our unhappinesses have always been caused by something external, not a problem between us.) Probably it helps that I adore my husband, and consider him the smartest, sweetest, silliest, sexiest man on the planet.

And no doubt it helps that he will forgive me nearly anything, even embarrassing him half to death as I have right now. Love you, Husband!
Nikki bit in at 12:05 PM :: ::
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