Friday, December 28, 2007

A General Indictment of the Romance "Genre"

Up until a month ago, I would have considered myself completely unqualified to attack the evil that is the romance novel, not having had any exposure to such "writing" since I outgrew Danielle Steel's turgid members and milky-white bosoms at the age of 11 (not that this would have stopped me). However, the universe colluded against me this past month, teasing me with a big sudsy bath and only Jean Chretien to keep me company.

Nothing against Prime Minister Poutine, but a political memoir is not exactly suitable material for relaxing with a glass of wine, some candlelight and bubbles up to my ears. So I raided my sister's supply in order to find a good "tub book" and lo and behold, her shelf boasted only books with glittery, pastel covers featuring such winning titles as Annie, Get Your Groom, and Code Name: Bikini.

Don't let the titles throw you off, though. There's only one romance book, and that one story is recycled over and over, occasionally renaming characters (Chase becomes Thatcher), or changing hair colours (strawberry blonde becomes dirty blonde). I hate to ruin it for you, but here's the way it goes: a guy with great pecs meets a girl with large breasts and at first they kind of hate each other because they're so damn different (like, she's really rich, and he's really really rich), but then they find each other undeniably attractive (his jaw is chiseled, and did I mention she has great tits?), and then there's about 100 pages of sexual tension and will-they-or-won't-they (even-though-they-always-do) and usually there's some kind of mini-crisis that makes us fear that they won't get together (hint: they do), then even though he's a bad boy who's not the marrying kind, by the end of the book the ache in his loins inspires him to make a lifelong commitment and crave babies and domesticity and soft kisses.

So I know all of this going in, I'm totally prepared for how incredibly and predictably bad these books are, and still I manage to find myself cringing in the bathtub when in the current year of 2007, the premise of my tub book is thus:

Man meets woman...on a, a boxcar....cause, they're like, riding the rails. Illegally. They're hobos. And the girl hobo really brings out the protector in the boy hobo. Because she has a baby with her, and conveniently the boy hobo is recently a widower and grieving his kids, and is looking for a replacement family, and he's inspired to give up drinking. But then the girl hobo collapses and needs to be saved, so thankfully, the boy hobo is actually a multi-millionaire so he literally brings in a helicopter to whisk them all away.

I mean, even for a romance novel that's pretty improbable. They were hobos! Hobos! But sexy hobos. A boy hobo in need of a good woman to save him, and a girl hobo in need of money to save her back. So it all ends up nicely.

And this isn't even the worst offender. In my mother's household, there is a book that is passed around that is referred to only as "the smutty book." The smutty book doesn't even bother with the laughably implausible plot lines. If there are occasionally a few transitional paragraphs between the coupling of her tight, wet, hot... self, and his hard, needy, throbbing...self and the second, even more quiverful coupling of said genitals, I find that my sisters are simply flipping pages straight to the good stuff, as it were. If there's a literary equivalent to the money shot, they're fast forwarding to the main event.

Let's not kid ourselves. "Romance" is a nice way of saying "soft core porn for girls". But it's not just the soft coreness that makes me roll my eyes. It's the formula, the predictability. In fact, it cannot even be classified as a romance by the publisher if it doesn't have a happy\rosy\optimistic outcome. The insistence that some minuscule "obstacle" keeps them superficially apart, although they always grudgingly find each other desirable because only really hot people fall in love. I have no idea what ugly people do, or heck, even what ordinary people do, because no one has ever written about them. Well, ordinary people contract illnesses, or hitchhike across the country, or across the galaxy, or they work in coal mines or they keep bees, but they don't fall madly in love. Romances are only about people who have bodies that can be described as "rock hard" or "pneumatic".

Romances never involve stretch marks or receding hair lines or Honda Civics or guys named Roy. It makes me think that it must be a bunch of stringy-haired, badly-complected, knobby-kneed wallflowers who write these novels, and live vicariously through them. But you'll never catch me saying that out loud. Oh no. When I dared to voice my unfavourable opinion of science fiction, those sex-starved kiddies who call themselves fans got on their bikes and threw eggs at my neighbour's house (woops!). But then I called their moms, who threatened to start charging them rent on their basement lairs if they didn't come home right away, so I guess I didn't quite learn that lesson.

Maybe, for the good of fiction, we should take all those romance authors who just need a good lay, and pair them up with all the science fiction authors who've never seen a woman naked, and just see what happens.

Or maybe we could just take away all their pens instead?

Or maybe I should just stop reading this crap, or at least have the decency to pretend that I don't. Or learn to keep my trap shut.

Hah. Fat chance.
Damn I crack myself up.

Or maybe you should just visit the Quickie Book Review to read about what books I do like (surprising, I know, that something occasionally passes muster).

Or maybe you have a soft core hobo fetish, which I imagine is an itch that's hard to scratch, and therefore I can only counsel you to read away. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

P.S. The sex scene on page 214 is pretty hot, once they take care of the lice. You're welcome.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Obligatory Holiday Post

So first you gotta get your ass to the Home Depot and buy the biggest, most ridiculous, most overtly-won't-fit-through-your-doorway-no-matter-how-hard-you-ram-it tree you can find (and no, that was not a euphemism).

Then you strap it to the car using nothing but odds and ends of free twine and some misplaced optimism, and hope for the best.

Then you stop every 3km and reattach until you get home (because yes, an 80 foot tree does go careening off the roof of your stupid slippery car every time you hit the gas, or the break, or sneeze), losing limbs (tree limbs, not human limbs....well, not ideally) and needles along the way.

Then you get home, curse the fact that you brought home a tree that's twice the size of your house, spend the next 7 hours sawing it down to the point where it no longer looks like something Paul Bunyan would have brought home, then make a quick trip to the ER to get some stitches and a tetanus shot because that slicing yourself with a rusty handsaw is a Christmas tradition, goddammit.

Then you get into the rum balls. And I mean, you fucking lay into the rum balls like there's no tomorrow. Because first of all, now that the tree is in the house, it's making strange noises like maybe, just maybe, there's a rabid squirrel (or two) in there, and also because now is the time where you have to decorate it using a mishmash of "sentimental" (also known as "tacky") ornaments that the family has been collecting since polyester and aquanet were considered to be in taste.

Then you try not to cringe as you dig out some gems such as: a styrofoam ball spray painted cold and "decorated" with toothpicks, several A&W RootBears, some threadbare Bugs Bunny balls, circa 1979, something shiny and distinctly phallic, and let's not forget this little gem, a piece of construction paper older than Hillary Duff, lovingly hand-crafted (using crayons and glitter, liberally, by the looks of it) by yours truly, when I was 18. Or so.

Then make a totally out of the blue phone call to make sure your insurance policy is up to date, and includes fire, and all that good stuff. Because that blinky, somewhat faulty, somewhat monstrously hot bulb is dangerously close to that brittle, dried out piece of kindling - er, ornament, I mean.

Then check the batteries in the smoke detectors just to be safe.

Then hang the stockings with care. Or you know, alternatively, hang them haphazardly on the stair banister when a mantel is lacking; that'll do too. Then take a moment to consider how fucking old you must be when your stocking is starting to grow mould. Mould! Right on Frosty's ball.

Then drink to console yourself. Eggnog is nasty, but brandy is dandy. If you drink enough, you'll forget that you're allergic to tree sap and cranberries make you gag and grandma still wants to know why you aren't pregnant yet. In fact, if you drink enough, your cheeks will turn rosy and your giggle will be enough to convince others that you're "in the spirit" when really you've just been "into the spirits." And if you drink even more, you'll find a naughty button around and instead of thinking oh, how inappropriate, you think, I'm drinking for free tonight!

Then find a karaoke bar where the people are unironically wearing santa hats and the bartender is unabashedly pouring hot toddies and let the good times roll. And by "good times roll", I of course mean get ogled by anything with a penis, and make eye contact with no one, not even the chicks, and get very prompt service at the bar.

Then continue to celebrate in a similar fashion for several nights in a row. Don't be afraid to occasionally overdose on cashews, pop the cork on half a case of champagne, very occasionally lick a candy cane in a suggestive manner, sing "alternative" lyrics to the Christmas carols you hate the most, indulge in a snowball fight (Mexican fighting rules apply), raise the heat and lose the clothes, and only extremely occasionally mind you, don some footie pajamas and curl up on the couch with someone to watch cheesy Tim Allen movies that secretly make you cry.
Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Industrial Cream Puff Accident Maims 1, Shocks All.

Tits McGee
Kill the Goat News
December 19, 2007 2:30 am EST

Eastern Ontario - The tragic accident that left dozens of puff pastry treats empty and aching for their custard filling has devastated an entire staff room of ornery elementary school teachers looking to soothe their frayed nerves with a chocolatey sugar fix and raised awareness for the plight of the custardless among the shaken but indomitable community.

The site of the accident, an ordinary residential kitchen, still smelled delightfully of vanilla and was lightly dusted with flour, a somewhat whimsical setting for what would ultimately become a grizzly, nightmarish scene.

A woman who can only be identified as "Jay" under the Suffer the Fools Protection Act, had been baking furiously for about an hour before the accident, which occurred at approximately 1:15am. The empty pastry shells of what were to become eclairs could be seen cooling on wire racks behind police tape. Alone and unsupervised, Jay was apparently gently folding whipped cream into a vanilla-based mixture while listening to The Kinks when a large mixing bowl, described as blue and plastic, which contained said mixture suddenly and inexplicably went from sitting politely on the counter to upturned and on the floor.

About 12 cups of not-quite-custard splashed an area including but not limited to the lace curtains, an oven that had just recently been cleaned, the counter top, the sink, the floor, the cupboard doors, the crack between the counter and the oven that's a real bitch to clean, and of course, Jay herself. The ensuing sticky puddle was so enormous that an innocent bystander named Max Keeping quite literally had to doggy-paddle through it in order not to drown.

Another resident of the home was the first respondent to the scene and described it variously as "fucking hilarious" and "still pretty delicious". Other four-legged witnesses didn't even bother invoking the golden 10-second rule, and were happy to lap up the evidence of an epic spill.

According to pastry-police Sergeant A. LaMode, the culprit, also known as Madame LaDropski, was probably mixing at excessive speeds and had been tempting fate by cracking eggs two-handedly and had not even replaced the cap on a very expensive bottle of pure vanilla extract. "People need to know that baking recklessly is a serious offense with serious consequences, as we can see here tonight. This needless accident could have been avoided if only she'd been using proper stirring technique and had not been under the influence of that damned rock and roll music."

Jay, who was treated at the scene for shock and stickiness, gave no comment except for an under-the-breath refrain of "My argyle, my poor argyle."

Meanwhile, clean-up crews dispatched to the scene were delighted to see the floor being eagerly licked clean. Damage to the remaining kitchen was extensive however, and was estimated in the range of 3-4 buckets of hot soapy water and at least one raging backache in the morning. Witnesses were visibly shaken by the carnage - crumbs were scattered haphazardly about the scene, and dozens of tiny eclair-corpses were piled into the garbage bin.

One woman, described as hungry and pre-menstrual, tearfully lamented the loss. "I know you can't make eclairs without the cream filling, but it just tears me up inside knowing that perfectly good pastry and devilishly sweet chocolate ganache are going to waste because of one bad decision. It's just not fair! Who's going to explain this injustice to my poor, exploding ovaries? They just won't understand."

Indeed, this reporter finds it difficult to understand what kind of God would allow such a heart-rending and grievous act of iniquity.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Naughty & Nice, Doggy-Style

You may have noticed that I tend to be somewhat attention-seeking. You may not even put it past me to curl up on someone's lap and demand to be petted. That's the kind of girl I am.

So when I arrive at a house where I am to be upstaged by not just the world's cutest puppy, but two of them, well....let's just say I've had to get my growl on just to compete.

Nice: This is Roxy. You may recognize Roxy from her moonlighting as a noble steed. She's also known as the only girl who looks good in a beard, a fierce cuddler, lover of toast.

She's also a proud Mama to a moose wearing a Leafs jersey. She shows her motherly love by clenching him in her jaw and shaking him vigorously. Her baby has lost both eyes and a tail, and most of his stuffing. But it's still nice compared to the way she defiles her non-babies. She also hangs out with a dalmatian and a sing-and-snore Ernie who have been humped into early retirement.

When she's not busy letting her inner porn-star out, she's usually flopped in someone's lap with her paw in the air, looking for a massage. She loves having paw-dicures. She expects to be pampered. She has a great "please me" look. She's a girl after my own heart.

Naughty: This is Max Keeping, the newest addition. He's lucky he's so cute because in the 2 weeks he's been here, I've been bitten in places where I usually only like to be nibbled!

If you're not from the Ottawa Valley, then you probably don't get the joke, but 'Max Keeping' is the name of a respected and dignified local newscaster. He's a swell guy. If you aren't a Max Keeping fan, you can substitute Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters or Ron Burgundy or Tom Brokaw or any other honourable anchorman that you'd like. Personally, the novelty of yelling "Max Keeping, get your cold nose out of my cleavage!" has not yet rubbed off.
Max Keeping, did you just take a dump on the kitchen floor?
Max Keeping, your tongue has no business in there!
Max Keeping, please stop riding your sister!
I think I just accidentally touched Max Keeping's penis again!
So you can probably guess that Max Keeping has been high on the naughty list, and I've been busy rubbing his nose in his many indiscretions (dear Santa: please bring me a steam cleaner, stat!). But then he shows me his little belly and knocks my hand with his nose until I rub it, and he smiles with those tiny little teeth and I get all melty and forget that I used to have flesh on my ankles and that my usb cable used to be in 1 piece instead of 3 frayed ones and that there was a time I didn't have to wear rubber boots and be on strict puddle-patrol inside my own house.
Life in the dog house has been pretty good, but no word yet which list my name will be appearing on, though frankly, I've got this winning naughty streak going for the past, oh, 26 years or so, and my coal collection could use a new addition.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You Live, You Learn, You Eat the Worm.

1. You know it's Christmas when the dog starts to poop tinsel.

2. Turns out, I don't like 54-40. I just thought I should.

3. I hate ordering wine at a "family" restaurant because for some perverse reason, they still go through the tasting ritual. I mean, if I just ordered a $30 bottle of wine from Chili's, I'm probably not too fussy. And if you're wearing suspenders filled with "flair", you're probably not a sommelier yourself. And the truth is, I find the whole thing so embarrassing that even if it did taste like gym socks, I'd probably just nod anyway.

4. I just bought a box of condoms that had a prize in it, the way cereal boxes do. But why are condoms trying to lure in customers this way? I mean, I thought that's what short skirts were for. Sex is not prize enough these days, you want sex AND a unicorn-shaped eraser? Jebus.

5. I learned to Wii on Friday. I'm considering getting addicted. I have wii-elbow from the tennis and wii-wrist from the bowling, and wii-crotch from the...well, it's just amazing the games they come up with for this thing, isn't it?

6. Excellent thing to do if you're ever bored: drizzle your dog with chocolate. I did this (accidentally) and hilarity ensued for hours - poor guy tried to lick behind his own shoulder blades for hours.

7. Talking virginity with your grandmother is funny. Listening to her refer to it as "the sex" over and over - priceless.

8. I love how every time I get into the bath lately, all the pine needles stuck to the bottom of my feet float around in the water until eventually getting stuck to other parts of my body, parts where no pine needles ever should be. I also love the delicious irony of soaking in the tub while reading The Dirt on Clean. I haughtily congratulate myself on living in a time when hot water magically comes out of the tap marked H, and feel superior that I use toilet paper instead of arsewisps. This is the book I shall buy in bulk and give as Christmas gifts. I like gifts that say "Hey, look at me, I'm intellectual AND hygenic AND have somewhat curious taste in Non-Fiction. Happy Birthday, Jesus!"

Monday, December 10, 2007

How to Party Like a Rock Star

So I'm at this moment sitting here in the bathtub wondering how it is that we as a society can manufacture artificial hearts and take pictures of dust motes on Mars and make margarine that is so butter-like in flavour that you can't even tell it apart from the real thing, and yet we still cannot manage to make tubs that fit real people. Is it so crazy that I might like both my knees and my boobs to be submerged? I'm only 5'3, practically not even people-sized myself, but still, I have to choose. Either I have to bend my knees so they rise out of the bubbles like arid twin peaks, or I straighten my legs and sit upright, watching my nipples get hard in the comparatively cool air. The bathtub makes you pensive. I also realize that:

a) boy do I need to re-pedicure.

b) damn I have sexy thighs.

c) I may never recover from this weekend.

And if I don't live to see another weekend, know that I died happily, and already somewhat pickled. Take whatever useful organs I have, but um, you may want to leave the liver where it is. And if it's my partner in crime who keels over from trying to keep pace with me, I've already promised to wear something very plunging to his funeral.
You have to put some serious effort into developing the kind of legendary mystique that boys will risk death for, but any of you can fake it for a night. You just have to not give a damn about your bad reputation, and:
1. Screw the icy sidewalks. Wear heels anyway. Men will fall over themselves to offer you their arm.
2. Wear a silk shirt in a flannel kind of town. Remember that buttons are optional.
3. Resist the urge to rub your lips clean when a man whispers in your ear "Your lipstick just gave me a boner."
4. Madonna meant for you to dance on a speaker when her song comes on. It's a rule.
5. Never refuse a drink. Think of it as a public service. It builds male morale to be able to buy a pretty girl a drink. You don't have to drink them all (donate the ones you don't want to your wallflower friends), but remember - restraint is for losers, and Monday afternoons.
6. If you're wearing fancy panties or any kind of lingerie, make sure there are at least 3 other people in the room who know it.
7. Tactile is good. Touch men on their wrists, their chests, their thighs. But touch yourself the most, especially while dancing.
8. Practise a bitchy wink and a lascivious grin. Don't use them on just your date.
9. Don't hurry back from the bathroom. Use the time wisely. When you get back to your table with a drink your date knows he didn't pay for, and a phone number that clearly isn't his, sip the drink sweetly and discreetly slip the number into your bag, and be prepared for some seriously undivided attention.
10. Don't be afraid to cultivate a little jealousy on the dance floor. Watching guys throw punches is kind of a turn on, and besides - black eyes are sexy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Breakables & Unbreakability

I can understand why a person might steal. I can even almost understand why a husband might steal from his wife. I can grasp the concept of wanting all the money instead of just half of it. I'm the same way with pie. I can likewise understand why he also took the car, and the apartment, and all of the furniture. Having a couch is good. Having a couch, a love seat, a lounger and 3 chairs is much better. And it's perfectly understandable that he'd feel entitled to both the dining table and the little kitchen table. After all, he's got all the dishes, all the damask napkins, all the serving platters, all the candle sticks, and even the little pot holders that my grandmother crocheted for my hope chest when I was 8 - the poor guy needs a place to put them all! And I certainly don't begrudge him all the bedding, including the Winnie the Pooh set my mother gave me when I left for school, or the Star Wars set I inherited from my cousin Tim. I mean, come on - he took the bed, so what the hell would I do with sheets and blankets anyway?

So yeah. I kind of get it. It's nice to be able to buy food, and have an oven to heat it in, and a fork to eat it with.

What I don't understand is why he would also steal a drawer full of my underwear. What is he doing with my panties? Wait - don't answer that. Turns out, I'd rather not know. Rather not even consider it. Rather not picture him walking around his lonely apartment with lace chafing in all the wrong places.

But I would like to know why he's also taken my mittens. When he leaves the house bundled in the leather coat I bought him and gets into the car that isn't his, does he feel guilty that his hands are warm and mine are not? Or does he watch the weather network (while wearing the red silk thong) and gloat over my frostbitten fingers?

Does he feel like a big man when he puts on my cupcake pjs, pours some champagne into my monogrammed flutes, tosses aside my suede throw pillows and sits down to watch Love Story?

Is he proud to have robbed me of Christmas - of my mistletoe bar ware, my gingerbread cookie jar, the papier-mache reindeer ornament that I hand-painted just last year?

He's got every photograph I've ever taken, every poem I've ever written, every memento I ever deemed worth keeping. They're just things, but they're my things, my lifetime of things, and he's holding them hostage. The only thing he's not taking is his medication, but maybe if I wrote my name on the bottle he'd want that too.

I grieve for the man that I married, lived with and loved as if he's dead. For me, he is. He doesn't exist anymore. He's been replaced by a thief who's stolen more than just my possessions. I picture the man I married buried somewhere underneath the things taken from me - beneath broken promises, broken vows, broken hearts. I might have been buried there too, suffocating under the collapsed burden of the fraudulent life we built together, had I not taken my leave when I did.

He can have the teacup that belonged to my dead Aunt Mary, and the picture frame that my sister made me when I graduated high school, and the video tape of my third grade recital. It'll take a lot more than that to break me. Those are just relics of a past life anyway. I don't need them anymore.

So pardon me if my smile is too bright for a woman who's just lost everything. My new life may be sparsely furnished, but it's mine, and nobody can take it away.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm Getting Fat for Christmas

The good news is, there's nothing left to stop me from taking up grand theft auto.

The bad news is, when they inevitably find my bloated corpse in a ditch by the highway, they'll have to use dental records to identify me.

I'm going to miss having fingerprints, but on the upside, my laptop screen has never looked more smudge-free!

As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I've been doing a little holiday baking. You know, the kind where you bake furiously with the intention of freezing it all so you can pretend to be the perfect hostess when those annoying impromptu guests show up when really you're just thawing crap you made a month ago. Also the kind where none of the desserts ever actually make it to the freezer, because of course you can't simply trust that they're delicious, you have to taste them, and then you can't rely on such a selective sample, you have to be more thorough, and then someone comes in the kitchen and catches you furtively shoving sweets down your gullet and it makes such an attractive picture they decide to join you, and suddenly you've spent 7 hours baking and all you've got to show for it are some crumbs and a pile of dirty dishes that you're considering just chucking out because it's not like you'll need them again before next year, at which point you can claim ignorance to what's happened to them (and let's face it, you've already opened your second bottle of wine, so it's quite likely that you'll have legitimately forgotten anyhow) and besides, you just consumed several kilos worth of sugar - you need a nap, or a padded cell, or a nap inside a softly padded cell.
So yeah. I'm feeling a little queasy. I just seared off my own fingerprints via the painful but effective method of molten marshmallow - and damn if that stuff doesn't stick! And when you finally get to peel it away, off comes those identifying little whorls you wasted years of your life becoming familiar with.
Anyway. Everyone knows there's only one real reason we do holiday baking, and that's to have the opportunity to freebase some sweetened condensed milk. All year long, I fantasize about that little pop top, rolling back the lid and finding all that sweetness inside. The baked goods get sacrificed - they end up dry so that I can get my fix - but just a little of that ooey gooey good stuff dancing on my tongue, and it's all worth it. Years and years from now, scientists will find my legacy. I won't leave behind cave paintings or arrowheads or clay pots. I'll leave behind crumbly bits of dessert buried deep within a chest freezer, and when they do their experiments they'll conclude that in the year 2007 there was a frightful sweetened condensed milk shortage, and how did we all survive?