Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Today is BUNSEN BURNER DAY. Don't forget to greet yours!

the play's the thing
Last week I tried my hand at playwriting for the first time, which is a little odd, considering that I'm married to a multi-awarded playwright. Or maybe not so odd-- I suppose the spouses of master chefs, for example, mostly have the good sense to stay the hell out of the kitchen.

Anyway, having given it a whirl, I now believe that all would-be writers should be made to craft at least a single one-act play early on in their careers, because it's a discipline unlike any other. It discourages obfuscation and embraces clarity, punishes verbiage and rewards restraint, and eschews blatant factual exposition in favor of emotional truth. Most of all, it teaches you to put your ego in a drawer and let the characters tell the damned story.

And these are some of the bases for good writing. But don't take my word for it.

in the news today
Singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette is now an ordained minister. She took a short Internet course which now allows her to perform marriages, and plans to use the ordination to help her homosexual friends get married. Robbie Williams did something similar back in 2002.

Who invented the World Wide Web?

answer to Sunday's question
The Philippine president makes Php693,000 a year, or Php57,750 a month, which isn't even twice what the U.N. reckons is our monthly cost of living (about Php32,000 for a family of six).

It's almost enough to make you sympathize...

Overworked and underpaid: Angela, Alex, Dean, Amie, and Kate. By the way, I've decided to discontinue the Smartypants award, since it only seems to encourage some people, which can't be a good thing.
Nikki bit in at 10:56 PM :: ::
Sunday, March 28, 2004

Today is SOMETHING ON A STICK DAY, which sounds incredibly unwholesome to me...

Sorry I haven't been posting, but I was busy with copywriting, editing, and writing an essay, a short story for children, and a one-act play. So you can see I couldn't spare an iota of writing capacity for my blog! We'll see if I can manage to pull anything else out of the hat before the Palanca deadline comes along.

Anyway, here're the point totals for the quiz. Since it is now the last weekend of March, Ariel can drop by Comic Quest Megamall anytime after Holy Week for his chocolate bar prize as March Trivia Champ, and Vin's nose will be ceremoniously poked for his whopping Smartypants win. On to April!
Alex = 7
Amie = 5
Angela = 1
Ariel = 10
Dean = 7
Dino = 1
Drew = 2
El = 1
Gabby = 4
Jason = 6
Jay = 2
Jonette = 1
Kate = 2
Katrina = 4
Pauline = 2
Ron = 4
Vin = 3
Alex = 1
Amie = 1
Angela = 1
Ariel = 2
Dean = 1
Dino = 1
Gabby = 1
Jason = 2
Jonette = 1
Katrina = 1
Ron = 1
Vin = 8

What is the salary of the Philippine president?

answer to Tuesday's question
This was not really the answer I had in mind, but Dino Yu dug it up somewhere, and it's pretty icky too: Black peppers are black because of a fungus called glomerella cingulata. The peppers are initially either red or green, but when boiled and then sundried, they acquire the fungus, which grows on their skin.

But what I was really thinking of was the fact that the American Food & Drug Administration, to this day, actually permits all commercial black peppers to be composed of up to one percent rat droppings. Chew on that, folks.

Peppered with knowledge: Dean (by accident, I believe, but it counts) and Ariel. Jason and Dino also get a point each for adding interesting information. And the spicy Smartypants go to Amie!
Nikki bit in at 11:39 PM :: ::
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Today is WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY. But I'm betting Ernie Baron already knows that.

with pain comes pleasure
Ordinarily, I would take umbrage at being referred to as "Nikita the Chiquitita" (as Jason did in a recent email), but right now I'm too exhausted. I had my first class at Gold's Gym and nearly killed myself learning street dance. It was fun, though, despite my serious doubts that anyone actually dances like that on any street anywhere. Now I know how to do 'the grapevine', which is not a massive achievement, but considering that my previous idea of exercise was (a) getting up to change the CD or (b) purely horizontal in nature, it's a milestone.

in the news today
A Romanian man named Adrian Ionut Craciunoiu lodged an official complaint with the consumer protection office in Gorj, accusing a local prostitute of not doing her best. Although prostitution is illegal in Romania, Craciunoiu filed his case anyway, saying that: "She... even scratched me because she (was missing) some of her teeth. I was honest with her and paid in advance, but what did I get? Bad service and even lesions."

Maybe she was trying to pronounce his name...

What's the scariest thing you never really wanted to know about black pepper?

answer to yesterday's question
I posted this one because people have asked me to clarify, and it's hard to explain briefly. But here goes: In the Second Age of Middle-Earth, Elendil ruled from the northern realm of Arnor as High King of both Arnor and Gondor. His sons, Isildur and Anarion, co-ruled jointly; but with the death of all three of them during and just after the war against Sauron, Menedil, Anarion's son, became king of Gondor, while Valandil, Isildur's son, became king of Arnor. Although the next ten or so rulers of Arnor continued to style themselves 'High King', the two kingdoms were in fact run quite separately.

In the Third Age, Artheduin, one of the three kingdoms that comprised Arnor, was conquered by Angmar (whose Witch-King eventually came to lead the Nazgul). Although the allied forces of Gondor and Arnor managed to defeat Angmar at last, the northern kingdom fell into decline, notwithstanding the continuation of the royal line, which eventually managed to produce Aragorn II, that scruffy guy we all know and love. Aragorn didn't come into the picture until the Fourth Age, by which time Menedil's heirs had died off, thereby allowing Aragorn to claim the throne by right of heritage and one honkin' big army.

Curunirs (meaning 'cunning' or 'crafty ones'): Ron, Alex, Gabby, and Amie. Curunir Trouser-Wearers: Ron, Vin, and Angela. I'm tired of trying to remember y'all's links, so I ain't doin' that no more.
Nikki bit in at 10:43 PM :: ::
Monday, March 22, 2004

Today is INTERNATIONAL GOOF-OFF DAY. Don't I just wish?

Because it was Pauline who asked...
Hey, I've known her almost half my life, and I don't remember her ever asking me for anything! So if she wants a story, she gets it. (Or part of one, anyway.)

excerpt: Jenny Do & Jenny Don't (part two)
"Wait, wait, wait!" Jenny Do cried, putting down her comb and hurrying-- but not running-- out of the bathroom herself. "Don't run in the house!" she called after the strange girl.

But Jenny Don't never did as she was told, so she was already racing through the hallway and galloping down the stairs.

Along the way, she managed to snag some of the pictures hanging on the wall with her snarled hair, so that they were now tilted crazily in all directions. She banged her elbow against the upstairs telephone, so that the receiver fell off the hook and was now making that annoying engk-engk-engk busy signal sound. And she had rumpled up the hallway carpet, especially the fringed ends that Lenlen the helper was always careful to keep perfectly straight and just so.

"Don't be so careless! Don't make such a mess!" Jenny Do called out, but of course the damage was already done, and Jenny Don't had vanished down the stairs.

So poor Jenny Do had to straighten out the pictures, put the phone receiver back on its hook, and try to smoothen out the rumpled carpet as much as she could. By the time she was able to go downstairs, Jenny Don't was in the living room, her face practically pressed up against the screen as she lay on her stomach watching TV, gleefully thumping her feet again and again on the nearby wooden coffee table.

"Jenny, don't sit so close to the TV!" Jenny Do scolded. "And don't thump your feet on the table! And don't ignore me when I'm talking to you!"

"I do what I like!" Jenny Don't exclaimed. As she jumped angrily to her feet, she accidentally kicked the coffee table, knocked over a potted plant, and almost toppled the TV, except that Jenny Do managed to steady it just in time.

Luckily, the plant pot didn't break, but it did spill water all over the floor. Jenny Do was still worrying about whether or not the soil-filled water would leave a stain on her mother's Persian rug, when she heard the front door slam open with a terrific thump-creak-bang!

"Jenny, don't bang the door like that!" Jenny Do cried out. "And don't leave the house without telling Ate Lenlen!" But the naughty girl was already racing outside, leaving Jenny Do with no choice but to chase after her. In fact, she was moving so quickly that by the time Jenny Do got outside herself (closing the door responsibly behind her), Jenny Don't had already crossed the yard and was already running straight into the street.

How, exactly, was Aragorn the rightful heir to the throne in The Lord of the Rings? (I'm such a geek!)

answer to Saturday's question
Hector Boiardi was an Italian immigrant who moved to the States at the age of 17, in 1914. After a stint as a chef at New York's Plaza Hotel, he moved to Cleveland in 1929, where he perfected his spaghetti and meatball recipe at his own restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia. The sauce was so popular that customers kept asking for bottles to take home, which eventually led to the creation and distribution of the Chef Boyardee brand of sauces, cheeses, and dry pasta. And yes, that is his face on the label.

Saucy people: Ron, Amie, Angela, and Ariel. And we will not pour marinara down Vin's Smartypants because Jonette has to wear them too...
Nikki bit in at 1:47 PM :: ::
Saturday, March 20, 2004

Today is MAPLE SYRUP SATURDAY. Here's to sticky sweet goodness!

quiz point totals
Soon, I will have to reconfigure my blog just to accommodate the ever-lengthening point summary... Ariel has once more pulled ahead of rivals Alex and Dean, while Jason has made a surprising leap forward, and quiz newcomers Amie, Pauline, and Ron have managed to achieve pretty respectable totals for people who just started this week. And Vin just better start gettin' ready for that Smartypants poke in the nose!
Alex = 6
Amie = 3
Ariel = 8
Dean = 6
Drew = 2
El = 1
Gabby = 3
Jason = 5
Jay = 2
Jonette = 1
Kate = 2
Katrina = 4
Pauline = 2
Ron = 2
Vin = 3
Alex = 1
Ariel = 2
Dean = 1
Dino = 1
Gabby = 1
Jason = 2
Katrina = 1
Vin = 6

Who was Chef Boyardee?

answer to Thursday's question
It's a fairly well-known fact that every year, exactly on March 19, St. Joseph's Day, the swallows of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano return to their sunny California home to rebuild their nests after their yearly migration. What was only recently determined is that they travel with the same clockwork regularity almost halfway across the world-- to the city of Goya in Argentina, where they spend the winter months from October to February. They leave California on the Day of San Juan, October 23, and fly 24,000 kilometers to get to Argentina, later reversing the journey when they leave Goya at sunrise on February 18.

Flying high: Pauline, Jason, Dean, Ariel, Ron, Amie, and Alex. Once more, no Smartypants. Are you guys (gasp) starting to take me seriously?
Nikki bit in at 5:47 PM :: ::
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Today is ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE KID DAY, which is why we showered Sage with presents. No, wait; we do that all the time...

married brown email
As if it wasn't bad enough that my email is flooded every day with missives from various jerks trying to foist viruses off on me, yesterday I actually received one of these scam spams from myself!! No kidding; one of my e-groups actually got a hoax email from my exact email address. Aaarrgh! Not only is it annoying that some schmoe out there is using my identity for his works of evil, it's infuriating that they think I'm stupid enough to actually fall for email supposedly sent by myself! Boy, if I ever get my hands on this Nikki... See, the problem is, it's hard to plot revenge against yourself.

Anyway, just so y'all know, I would never send messages with a subject line as banal as 'here', okay? Nor as rude as 'your writing sucks'. So don't be fooled, and don't blame me.

in the news today
A German clerk from Dortmund won almost $11M in a lottery, then took nearly three months to claim it because he wasn't sure he wanted the money. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he "needed some time to think things through".

Gotta say, it wouldn't have taken me three minutes!

Swallows. Capistrano. If you guys don't know what I'm talking about, I will be deeply ashamed of all of you.

answer to Tuesday's question
The average penis size for an Asian male aged seventeen or above (The penis is supposed to stop growing at age 16, though there are always late developers.) is 4 to 5.5 inches in length and 1.25 inches in diameter. Caucasian males are actually just a half-inch to an inch and a half longer, at 5.5 to 6 inches in length and 1.25 inches in diameter; while black men average around 6.25 to 8 inches in length and 2 inches in diameter. The penis is most accurately measured when erect, from the base of the shaft where it meets the pubic area to the tip of the glans for length, and around the mid-shaft for circumference.

Interestingly, only Jamie and Ron got this one right out of the male trivia buffs, while Amie, Katrina, Pauline, and Gabby all knew the long and the short of the matter! Goes to show there's no sustitute for close examination of the evidence... The Smartypants go to Vin and Dino, even though they apparently don't know too much about what's in 'em!
Nikki bit in at 11:42 PM :: ::
Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Today is LIPS APPRECIATION DAY. Mwa-mwa-mwa!

poem: weaving
she spins in solitude, rarely
noticed, ever watchful.
with calm dedication, she takes
herself from herself, never counting
the cost of the haven she builds.
architecture by
instinct: a lattice
a lovely as filigreed silver,
strong as tempered steel,
yet fragile as
a heart.

does the spider know, in the making,
the home she creates is only
a trap for some to escape?

in the news today
Twenty-five-year-old Igancio Cabrera checked himself into the hospital last Monday, having sustained an unflagging erection for six straight days. Upon admission, he quickly became something of a tourist attraction, with nurses, doctors, and members of the public turning up to glimpse his predicament for themselves. The Dominican Republic native denied taking any form of sexual stimulant, leading doctors to conclude that he might be suffering from a rare form of anemia that can give men unusually extended erection periods. Cabrera had to undergo emergency surgery, since it was determined that the situation was likely to leave him impotent if left untreated.

What is the average penis size for an Asian male? (Come on, you've always wanted to know, haven't you?)

answer to yesterday's question
A 'one-hit wonder' is defined by Billboard magazine as a musical act that has won a position on Billboard's Pop Top 40 chart no more than once. Recipients of this dubious distinction include Sheb Wooley (for Purple People Eater, 1958), Kyu Sakamoto (for Sukiyaki, 1963), Carl Douglas (for Kung Fu Fighting, 1974), Dexy's Midnight Runners (for Come On Eileen, 1983), and Sinead O'Connor (for Nothing Compares 2 U, 1990).

Top of the Pops: Ariel, Jason, and Amie. And no one even tried for the Smartypants! Vin? Has something happened to you?
Nikki bit in at 11:54 PM :: ::
Monday, March 15, 2004

Today is ACT HAPPY DAY. Yippee! Hooray! Huzzah!

Choose it or lose it.
Today being 'Act Happy Day', I'm reminded of a friend's complete misunderstanding of the saying "Happiness is a choice." He thought it meant, "Pretend to be happy, and some day you will be." Which is so off-base it's not funny. "Happiness is a choice" simply means: Be happy with the good things in your life, and actively work to fix the bad things.

That's my interpretation, anyway. I don't read self-help books because I think they're oxymoronic. I mean, if you could help yourself, why would you be reading the book, right? But I am the happiest person I know, so I mustn't be too far off. I know, I know, people will say it's because I lead this charmed life, but I have problems too. It's just that I approach them with my three-step philosophy: Change the situation, change your attitude toward the situation, or get out. True, life isn't always that simple. But you can be. Try it.

in the news today
A 'sex museum and nature park' recently opened in Shaoguan City, China. Split into six exhibition areas under twelve themes (including 'Sex in Phallism', 'Sex in Waters and Mountains', and 'Sex in Literature'), it is funded by an anonymous business grant and features such attractions as a penis-shaped stone, vagina-like caves, and 'breast rocks'. The park's head calls it a perfect integration of sexual culture and tourism.

I always thought Patpong was the perfect integration of sexual culture and tourism...

What do Sheb Wooley, Kyu Sakamoto, Carl Douglas, Dexy's Midnight Runners, and Sinead O'Connor have in common?

answer to yesterday's question
A grilse is a young salmon. Other interesting 'baby names' include: elver (a young eel), eyas (a young hawk), shoat (a young pig), squeaker (a young pigeon), and poult (a young turkey).

Grilse-d to perfection: Jason and Kate. Joint Smarty Parties: Jason and Vin. Yes, today is Jason Day!
Nikki bit in at 11:36 PM :: ::
Sunday, March 14, 2004

Today is MOTH-ER DAY, which has nothing to do with mommies, but instead celebrates people who collect moths. Y'know, like that guy in Silence of the Lambs...

Quoth my good friend to her current paramour...
"I'm not going to be your clinging girlfriend. I've been there, I've done that. I'm through."

You go, sugar!

in the news today
Well-known cartoon mom Marge Simpson is getting a top-to-toe makeover for her upcoming stint as a cover girl for men's magazine Maxim. She is set to literally let her hair down as she poses provocatively on all fours wearing a wet, low-cut dress. It's "a radical departure..." says editor-in-chief Keith Blanchard. "She's the sexiest mama in all of toon town, especially that voice-- arrghh!" The team behind The Simpsons TV show helped create the sketches for the special issue.

What is a grilse?

answer to yesterday's question
'Biro' is the British term for a pen that uses a small ball as the point of transfer of ink to paper. In other words, it's a ballpoint pen. The weird part is, there's actually a club in Germany that is dedicated to biro collecting-- they meet twice a year, are planning a trade fair, and one of their members actually boasts more than 60,000 pens in his collection.

Biro-biro lang: Ariel, Jonette, and Vin. And yeah, that was a pretty cringe-worthy quip, but Ariel said it first, so he gets the blame... and the Smartypants.
Nikki bit in at 11:11 PM :: ::
Saturday, March 13, 2004

Today is OPEN AN UMBRELLA INDOORS DAY. But my grand-aunt always told me that was bad luck...

quiz point totals
The weekly standings: Alex, Ariel, and Dean are neck-and-neck for first place in the Trivia category, while Vin is the clear frontrunner for the Smartypants award.
Alex = 5
Ariel = 5
Dean = 5
Drew = 2
El = 1
Gabby = 2
Jason = 1
Jay = 2
Kate = 1
Katrina = 3
Vin = 2
Alex = 1
Ariel = 1
Dean = 1
Gabby = 1
Jason = 1
Katrina = 1
Vin = 4

in the news today
A 17-year-old from Connecticut attempted to sell drugs to a pair of police officers wearing jackets clearly marked 'Police'. The officers were on patrol in an unmarked car when Davaughn Goethe waved them down, jumped into the back of the car, and asked them what they wanted and how much. Goethe even remarked to the occupants, "You guys look like cops." Upon realizing that the two men were, in fact, cops, Goethe apparently swallowed his merchandise, which has yet to be recovered. He is due to appear in court on March 23.

Talk about mind-altering substances...

What is a biro?

answer to Thursday's question
Okay, I was talking about the Japanese poetry form: 31 syllables, structured in 5 unrhymed lines of 7 syllables each, except for the first and third lines, which are only 5 syllables. However, Drew and Jay tell us that a tanka is also a Tibetan religious painting on fabric, a member of a people living on small boats in the coastal areas of China, a kind of 25-foot long boat often rowed by women in Canton, and an Estonian grunge band. Honestly, aside from the painting, I have no idea what these people are talking about.

'Tanks' and congratulations to: Dean, Drew, Ariel, Alex, and Jay. And the Smartypants go to Jason and Vin. (These ones really made me laugh this time!)
Nikki bit in at 12:46 PM :: ::
Thursday, March 11, 2004

Today is NAMETAG DAY. So greet your friendly fast food server, I guess...

excerpt: Jenny Do & Jenny Don't
In a little house on a little hill in a little subdivision lived a little girl named Jenny Do.

Well, it wasn't really a hill-- just a slight upward slant of the road that made the house look like it was a little higher up than everyone else's. And the little girl's name wasn't exactly 'Jenny Do', either. It was just Jenny, but she thought of herself as Jenny Do because her mother was always telling her things like, "Jenny, do your homework," and "Jenny, do your own bed for a change," and "Jenny, do put your toys away, there's a good girl."

Jenny Do was a good girl, most of the time. But every now and then, there would be days when she would much rather play than do the boring chores her mother asked her to do. So she'd invented the clever trick of pretending not to hear sometimes when her mother was calling her. Instead, she would hum very loudly to herself, or turn the TV volume up very high, or start a very serious conversation with one of her favorite dolls.

On just one such day, as Jenny Do was brushing her teeth in the bathroom, her mother called up to her, "Jenny, do clean off the mirror after you're done brushing!"

Now, what Jenny really wanted to do on that sunny Saturday was to watch some cartoons, spend some of her saved-up allowance at the candy store across the street, and visit Mrs. Magsino, who kept all sorts of small and interesting animals in her front yard just down the block. She certainly didn't want to spend precious minutes cleaning off any silly old mirror.

So she twisted the faucet tap all the way to the right, so that the water would run very strongly, quickly, and noisily; and she brushed her teeth extra-carefully, counting brush strokes out loud to further drown out her mother's voice.

"Hun, hoo, hree," Jenny Do chanted, through a mouthful of toothpaste foam. She kept right on brushing and counting until she finally heard the front door open and then close again.

As soon as she heard her mother's car pull out of the driveway, Jenny Do immediately spat out the foam, rinsed out her mouth, and reached for the comb next to the sink in order to run it through her shower-wet hair.

But when she turned to see herself in the big bathroom mirror, to her great surprise, the face that she found looking back at her was not her own face!

The girl in the mirror did look a lot like Jenny Do, but her skin was all grimy and greasy, as if she never bothered to wash it. Her teeth were all brownish and broken, as if she never bothered to brush them. And unlike Jenny's, her hair was dry, and all snarled and snaky, as if she'd never picked up a comb in her life.

"I'm Jenny Don't," the grimy, greasy, broken-toothed, snaky-haired girl announced, "and I never, ever do what I'm told!" And to Jenny Do's further surprise, the girl jumped right out of the mirror and ran out of the bathroom.

What is a tanka?

answer to Tuesday's question
Obviously, the proper way to eat with chopsticks is to hold one stick between your thumb and index finger, resting the other stick on your middle finger, and using both sticks in coordination to manipulate food in a scooping or pinching motion. However, there are myriad potential pitfalls associated with chopstick eating, including mayoibashi ('hovering' the chopsticks over several dishes while trying to come to a decision) and neburibashi (the unforgiveable act of licking the ends of the chopsticks). And did you know that, when taking food from serving dishes or other people's plates, you're supposed to turn the chopsticks around in order to use the fatter ends that don't go in your mouth? Finally, sticking the chopsticks into food with the ends upright is supposed to bring the worst of luck-- no wonder Ralph keeps stopping me!

Chop-chop champs: Jason, Alex, and Jay. A bonus point to Katrina for her environmentally-conscious response, and unhygienic shared Smartypants for Dean and Ariel.
Nikki bit in at 11:52 PM :: ::
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Today is officially PANIC DAY. Ack! What are we going to do?!

"Worship me, and all will be well."
That's my country's official motto in NationStates, an online game recommended to me a few weeks ago by Carl. I thought I didn't have time to try it out till today, but it turns out you don't need to spend more than five minutes getting started, and then you can choose to participate as actively or passively as you like.

The schtick is, you get to create and run your very own nation. You choose the name of your country, its flag, its political system, its national animal, its currency, the works. (Not nearly as complicated as it sounds; you just answer a few questions and the game works it all out for you.) Then you get to decide on issues of national importance once or twice a day (or not, if you prefer-- but where's the fun in that?), which are then turned into legislation, which then affects your nation's profile and U.N. designation. You can also join the U.N. and help decide on larger issues which affect the virtual 'world'. Issues range from the abolishment of slavery to the outlawing of DVD regional barriers. In short, Seriously Significant Stuff.

It's fun! Give it a whirl at Jennifer Government: NationStates. (It's inspired by and named for this novel I've been wanting to get my hands on.) My country is The Theocracy of the Supreme Nikita, a mostly-benevolent dictatorship dedicated to the well-being of-- Who else?-- me!

in the news today
Nazi raccoons are taking over Europe! In 1934, Hitler's designated successor Hermann Goering released a number of North American raccoons in Germany, with the intent of "enriching the Reich's fauna". Evidently, the effort has been so successful that, in the German city of Kassel, there are now 100 raccoons per square kilometer. The infestation is so extreme that residential homes in the area resemble fortresses, with mesh wire covering all openings, spikes defending drainpipes and gutters, and rubbish bins secured with bungee cords or padlocks. Kassel has hired an animal control officer whose sole duty is to patrol the streets and answer residents' appeals for help; and the city has even paid zoologists from a nearby university to tag and study the raccoons in a bid to determine the scope of the problem.

Now we know where they put Hitler's brain...

What is the proper way to eat with chopsticks?

answer to yesterday's question
'L.A. Cigar-- too tragical' is a palidrome: a word or phrase that reads the same when read right to left as it does left to right. In certain circles, it's believed that palindromes exert a certain mystical power over spirits. Supposedly, they can become trapped by the circular nature of palindromes, and thus be captured or rendered helpless. This is probably related to the Filipino belief that you must place a broken rosary in the coffin of a deceased loved one, to prevent them from roaming the material world in circles.

Able ere Elba: Dean. I think this is the first time ever that only one person has gotten the answer, so yay, Dean! I'm giving a bonus Trivia point to Alex, though, for contributing a palindrome I'd never encountered before; and the Smartypants go to Gabby and Vin.

And thanks to everybody for reading the rest of my posts, after all! What a relief.
Nikki bit in at 11:31 PM :: ::
Monday, March 08, 2004

Today is UPPITY WOMEN'S DAY. Yay, me!

Redundant astringosol paradise, when hyperbolic morraines hop-skip raunchily via androgyne wellness. Oh, the lucidity! I am writing this to check whether people actually read my other entries, or just skip down to the trivia quiz. Newtonian papadums do photosynthesize under tiptoe absolution. When metastasy conglomerates, gerunds too seem derisive.

in the news today
Two German robbers held up a post office in Bonn at gunpoint, and escaped bearing a bag full of... potato salad. The men reportedly walked into the post office, pulled out weapons, and demanded that the safe be opened. After tying up the postal workers, the robbers then proceeded to stuff cash from the safe into a cloth bag they had brought along. But when one of the employees managed to free himself and set off an alarm, the two robbers panicked and ran off, grabbing what turned out to be a lunch bag rather than the loot bag.

Sometimes crime actually doesn't pay. Unless you really, really like potato salad.

What's so special about the phrase 'L.A. Cigar-- too tragical'?

answer to Saturday's question
John Anglicus was a ninth-century English Cardinal who was unanimously elected pope upon the death of Pope Leo IV in 853 A.D. As Pope John VIII, he ruled for two years-- until one day, riding from St. Peter's to the Lateran, he halted the procession by the side of the road and, to general astonishment, gave birth to a child. It turned out that Pope John VIII was in fact a woman, now generally referred to as 'Pope Joan'.

Legend differs as to Pope Joan's final fate. One version states that the people of Rome tied her feet together, dragged her behind a horse, and stoned her to death; while another has it that she was sent to a faraway convent to repent, and that the child she bore grew up to eventually become the Bishop of Ostia. These days the Catholic church strenously denies that Pope Joan ever existed, although a rumor went around for a while that the chairs used during papal consecrations had holes in their seats, so that an official check of the pope's gender could be performed. The first known reference to the woman pope occurs in the thirteenth century, 350 years after her supposed reign. Around the same time her image also began to appear as the High Priestess card in the Tarot deck, a representation that continues to be used to this day.

Cardinal winners: Ariel, Dean, El, Alex, and Katrina. And Vin wears the Smartypants for this one. (Should we check him under the seat to be sure?)
Nikki bit in at 4:31 PM :: ::
Saturday, March 06, 2004

Today is BABYSITTER'S SAFETY DAY. I don't know if that's, like, safety FOR babysitters or safety FROM babysitters...

quiz point totals
As promised, I am posting the weekly standings for our Trivia and Smartypants awards, including the results for yesterday's question. So far, it looks like Ariel is in the lead for the apparently coveted candy bar at the end of this month, while Alex, Vin, and (surprisingly!) Katrina are neck-and-neck in the race for the Official Smartypants Poke in the Nose. You guys think I'm kidding about that, don't you?
Alex = 1
Ariel = 3
Dean = 2
Drew = 1
Gabby = 2
Kate = 1
Katrina = 1
Vin = 2
Alex = 1
Katrina = 1
Vin = 1

in the news today
The Church of England has put out an advertisement inviting qualified persons to apply for the post of 'web pastor' to oversee the world's first 'virtual parish'. The purpose of this 'i-church', according to its web site, "is to provide a Christian community for those who wish to explore Christian discipleship but who are not able, or do not wish, to join a local congregation". It is the brainchild of the Diocese of Oxford's Director of Communication, the Reverend Richard Thomas, who says: "The Church of England is rightly proud of its commitment to the whole community. As the internet is a growing part of that community, we would be failing in our mission if we didn't provide a spiritual community for people who relate with each other primarily through the internet."

Well, I always believed you could pray anywhere...

Who was John Anglicus?

answer to yesterday's question
Izanami is one of the two primary creator gods in Japanese mythology (although, curiously, she and her husband Izanagi were sent down to earth from heaven by a council of unnamed greater gods). Having created the island of Onogoro, among others, by dripping mud off of a sacred spear, she descended to the island with her husband. They decided to split up and meet on the other side of the island, but when Izanami had the colossal gall to call out to her husband first upon their reunion, she was prevented from conceiving children as punishment for her action. The couple had to go around the island again and do it 'properly' before Izanami could give birth to all the other gods of Japan. These included the gods of earth and metal (whom she expelled from her, er, nether orifice), the famous sun goddess Amaterasu, and the fire god Kagutsuchi, who burned his mother so badly in childbirth that she died, went to the underworld, and eventually became the goddess of death.

Omniscient ones: Vin, Ariel, Dean, Katrina, and Gabby. The Smartypants award goes to Katrina and not to Alex, because the textspeak joke made me snicker and the Skyflakes didn't. So there.
Nikki bit in at 11:53 AM :: ::
Thursday, March 04, 2004

Today is HUG A G.I. DAY. Do I have to?

the skerries-- or scarys-- of dream
Every now and then, Dean has a really vivid dream that he completely believes in, even some time after waking up. The weirdest example dates back to when he was still living at his parent's house: he woke up from his dream, stormed through the house searching for his little brother, and, having found him, yelled, "Johnny! How dare you take the helicopter to Spain without asking for permission!?" Apparently, in his dream reality, they had a family chopper, which Johnny had taken for an ill-considered joyride.

Other notable scenarios have had him waking up and thrashing our bedsheets in search of the poisonous snake lurking within, waking me up and making me sit on top of the pillows because we had to be in a 'high place' to avoid the demons that were swarming 'below', and chuckling in amusement because his 'silly wife' was afraid of the 'green piggy'. (I've given up trying to understand. Freud would have a field day.)

Today he awoke and informed me that I am no longer permitted to ride vehicles of any sort, because in his dream, I was supposedly driving our supposed car (I don't drive, and we don't have a car.), and I crashed into a gate or something and died. It's sweet that this should discombobulate him so, and that I seem to be so much a part of his dream life; but I can only assume that his dream-Nikki is a version of me that actually lets people tell her what she can or cannot do. Talk about your alternate realities...

in the news today
A 42-year-old motorcycle rider named Liz Book is organizing a protest in which she intends to lead hundreds of half-naked women through the streets of Florida. Scheduled for the last Sunday of the annual Bike Week celebration at Daytona Beach, the half-mile march is part of a campaign to gain 'equal toplessness rights' for women. Such rights have already been upheld in parts of Maine and Vermont; and another group of Florida women (dubbed the 'Topfree 10') are pursuing a federal lawsuit to the same effect. "Exposed breasts (are) part of the biker lifestyle," says Book. "I never want to see another girl handcuffed and crying in the street because she yanked her top."

Actually, I think a lot of men would support her campaign-- but they wouldn't mind seeing the handcuffed-and-topless bit, either!

Who was Izanami, and why did she have so much trouble conceiving children?

answer to yesterday's question
The most accurate translation of the phrase 'Enuma Elish' is "When on high..." It is generally recognized as the oldest myth (and thus, likely the oldest official story) in existence. Among other things, this Bablyonian epic relates how the god Marduk killed his wicked mother Tiamat (the original and literal dragon lady), thereafter forming the earth and heavens from her gigantic remains. Clearly, everyone else pretty much plagiarized the Babylonians afterwards, despite the fact that them Babylonians didn't even know that gardens belong on the ground.

Myth-chief makers: Alex, Ariel, and Kate. And the Smartypants award goes to Vin, for his invention of a sandwich that should really be called the 'Enuma Delish'. See? I can be corny, too!
Nikki bit in at 1:09 PM :: ::
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Today is WHAT IF CATS AND DOGS HAD OPPOSABLE THUMBS? DAY. Who decides this stuff, anyway?

bibliophilia: two comic book trade paperbacks
Finally got to read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol. 2 and Arkham Asylum: Living in Hell. If you haven't read the first title yet, stop reading here, as this contains spoilers.

Let me summarize League vol. 2 for you: England is attacked by Martians, and the English government stops them with bacterial weaponry. That's it. If it sounds like this has nothing to do with our heroes, the eponymous League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and one extraordinary lady), that's because it really doesn't. They do nothing of import whatsoever. Okay, the Invisible Man beats up Mina Murray, after which Mina Murray sleeps with Alan Quatermain, after which Mr. Hyde sodomizes and kills the Invisible Man. If that's the kind of thing that floats your boat, go on and pick this book up; otherwise, pass on by, folks, pass on by. The occasional cameo by famous fictional characters, I'm afraid, simply fails to make up for its basic lack of story value.

In contrast, Arkham Asylum: Living in Hell was a terrific read. Ostensibly it's the tale of a white-collar criminal who, pleading insanity in an attempt to evade a prison sentence, gets thrown into the asylum of the title. What it really is is a fascinating look into the worst nuthouse in current comics continuity. Bad shit happens in Arkham, and it may not just be the inmates who are crazy. There are lovely, spot-on portrayals of well-known villains like the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Two-Face, as well as some very interesting, lesser-known baddies like Jane Doe, Doodlebug, Junkyard Dog, and Humpty Dumpty. There's some great plot and character writing here; although it gets a bit murky with the supernatural bit towards the end, the writer manages to pull his own fat out of the fire in the denouement. A good concept, excellently executed-- it's like a car crash, gross and creepy, but you can't look away.

in the news today
A man named Carst Kijlstra was thrown in jail yesterday for refusing to use a shopping basket in the local supermarket. The 32-year-old Dutch citizen picked up two pieces of veal at the Eddah supermarket meat counter, and refused the counter girl's offer of a basket "because it was nearly closing time". The girl then summoned her manager, but Kijlstra told them both: "Don't be ridiculous," left the money on the counter, and went home. He was preparing the veal for dinner when a police car arrived at his home to take him to the police station.

Perhaps the Dutch police have become bored since prostitution was legalized...

I like this mythology thing; it doesn't require research. So what's the Enuma Elish?

answer to yesterday's question
Ratatosk is the squirrel who runs up and down the World Tree Yggdrasil in Norse mythology. He is known for carrying insults back and forth between the dragon Nidhogg (who gnaws perpetually at the roots of the tree) and the unnamed eagle (who is sometimes described as a rooster) who dwells at the top of the tree. It is theorized that Nidhogg symbolizes the destructive force, whereas the eagle represents creative energy. This would imply that Ratatosk is a preserver, similar to Vishnu in Hindu mythology.

What I didn't know (and Ariel did) was that Ratatosk is also a small network of people into Scandinavian forms of magic. Additionally, it is the name of a cattery (a place for the keeping, boarding, and breeding of cats) in South Africa.

Little Myth Know-It-Alls: Gabby, Vin, Dean, Drew, and Ariel, even if that's not exactly what I meant. And the sole Smartypants for this one is Alex. Running point totals for the Trivia and Smartypants awards will be posted every weekend, so check your score!
Nikki bit in at 12:37 PM :: ::
Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Today is READ ACROSS AMERICA DAY. Which is very important, because as everyone knows, people who don't like to read cannot be trusted.

poetic license revoked
Probably 80% of people who think they're poets aren't. I'm sorry to say this, but it's true, and came to my attention once more when Drew was showing me the lyrics from one of his favorite music groups, the lead singer of which purports to be some kind of poet.

Listen: just because it's written in verse form, it doesn't mean that it's a poem. Any yahoo can write something and arrange it into a set of separate lines, and anyone who's read Dr. Seuss can rhyme words like 'you', 'blue', and 'true' (with apologies to the late Mr. Geisel-- it's actually more inventive to rhyme 'sneetches' and 'breeches'). It doesn't make them a poet.

According to the Cambridge International Dictionary, a poem is "a piece of writing in which the words are chosen for their sound and the images and ideas they suggest, not just their obvious meaning". In other words, you don't just say exactly what you're feeling; folks, that's what the essay form is for. The point of poetry is to construct, if you will, a separate place in the mind where ideas, emotions, images are intuitively felt rather than logically comprehended. The art of poetry is the craft of elegance: expressing as much as possible as briefly and as beautifully as possible. A good poem should bypass the brain and strike straight for the gut... or the jugular, when appropriate.

If you can't do that (and not everyone can), stick to prose. Or write songs (which are not necessarily poems-- in fact, nowadays, they rarely are), but don't call yourself a poet.

in the news today
Turkmenistan's president Saparmurat Niyazov decreed last Sunday that long hair, beards, and moustaches will no longer be allowed in his country. The new law applies to foreigners as well as residents, and barbershops are currently being set up at airports and border crossings in order to enforce the ruling. This is only the latest in a long string of unusual decrees passed in the span of Niyazov's 19-year presidency, including a ban on ballet and a US$46,000 tax on foreigners wishing to marry women from Turkmenistan.

The 'no-beards' law was passed on the grounds that "unkempt hair" is "unhygienic" and gives outsiders the "wrong impression" of the country. Funny, but I seem to be getting a poor impression of Turkmenistan anyway...

Who or what is Ratatosk?

answer to Friday's question
Polar bears have black skin and fur that is composed of hollow, translucent follicles. The construction of these follicles is such that they (a) absorb as much heat as possible, and (b) tend to reflect light in a way that makes them appear white, regardless of their surroundings.

Clear winners for this question were: Marco, Alex, Katrina, Dean, and Vin. Smartypants winners were: Marco (for his Gummi Bear theory) and Gabby (for her gay purple polar bears).
Nikki bit in at 3:38 PM :: ::
Double-click a word on this page to learn what it means.
                surf                 email



Philippine Sites




creative commons

Contrary to what the disclaimer says, you can ask me to design or revamp your blog, but there is a small associated fee.

This site is prettiest if you set your monitor resolution to 1024 by 768... but I won't hold it against you if you don't. Honest.


illustration by El

Nikki Alfar is really not as sexy as El's illustration would have you believe... but she doesn't mind if you think of her that way.
My Photo
Location: Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

class act/guttersnipe. tomboy/girly-girl. serious writer/comics hack. wife & mom/tart & tease. obssessive-compulsive/laid-back. sweetheart/bitch. all that.

shelf life

books, beauty, buzz

weather nixie


Who Links Here