Friday, March 31, 2006

New Review:"I slept with all the lights on"

Now, the Toronto Arts Magazine gives a positive review of Zed entitled “A for Zed.” To show you a difference of perspective; Linda and I thought the comment: “she seems to have thrown the characters in a blender, occasionally pressing "stop" to give us a look.” was a very positive comment; putting people in a blender=good thing! Only later did we think, maybe the reviewer was trying to say that she found it a bit overwhelming.

It is true there are continual sections of Zed which need leaps of logic and intuition. I tend to write as I want to read, books that require active mental involvement. Of course, forcing readers to have to picture things they don’t want to is an added bonus (“I get it, she’s skinning his face with a potato peeler. Ewwww!”) As the reviewer Zoe Whittall says, “Zed is the definition of provocative, if you can handle it..” Unanimous! Every single review has implied that if you are some flower sniffing, dewy-eyed, love watching Little House on the Prairies person and you read Zed then you will be found drooling and twitching over page 212 and spend the rest of your days in a locked ward. And who says I’m not making a positive impact with my life?

Arsenal has said that due to the award nominations they have received many requests from American press for review copies in anticipation of the May release date.

On Amazon.ca I have fallen from ranking 22,000 to 299,873! To counter this, as a special offer, order from Amazon.ca and I will come to your house to read you the book while you fall asleep, before leaving with your new stereo system.

jpeg 1 - web.media.mit.edu/~monster/ blendie/blender.jpg

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ebay: Child Pornography Made Easy

Today I read the March 25-31st Economist article on whistleblowers. The common tactic of organizations when facing negative information often isn’t changing but rather a strategy which either discredits the person giving the information or hides the problem. This reminded me of my six month battle with ebay.co.uk regarding the sale of child pornography.

I used to sell hard to find, legal and licensed gay and lesbian DVD’s on eBay. Over time, I began to notice certain other sellers DVD’s selling on ebay.co.uk, always on a 1 or 3 day auction, selling for enormous prices ($150 was not uncommon). I had never heard of these films. When I researched these titles I found they were films which were illegal in the UK due to the exploitive nature of using very young children filmed naked extensively in sexual or arousing situations; or films of children having sex as young as 11. The sellers were almost always “private” sellers with “private” listing so you couldn’t see what the seller had previously sold or who it went to. Literally “Here today, gone tomorrow” in terms of evidence. I reported this to eBay. The items were not pulled.

As a powerseller, I had a direct phone line and called, speaking to a supervisor there. I was told that eBay were not sure whether the films broke policy, or were even illegal. This is eBay's policy: Any images of nude children, including any vintage images. Recognizing that images of nude children often raise legal concerns, eBay has made a policy decision that it will not permit the listing of any item that depicts nude minors (under 18 years of age). Listings of such material, even if described as nude "teens", "children", "youngsters" or "nudist" are not permitted.

This was odd since I gave them links which talked about the “extensive nudity” of children 13 and under in these films (“like all of Kostenyuk’s Foreign Documentaries – “ Cool Dudes ” contains footage shot in the uninhibited European style of full frontal nudity during shower and locker scenes.”).

After two days of waiting I called the police, reported suspected child pornography according to the 1994 amendments ("it is an offence for a person (a) to take, or permit to be taken or to make, any indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child; (b) to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs"), gave them the item numbers and the eBay “powerseller” phone number. The items were pulled within an hour.

On eBay, there is no phone line for law enforcement; they should email regarding illegal activities and replies will be sent. I was told in Jan. 2006 by a Cardiff police officer that getting reply or evidence from eBay can take up to a year.

Checking back regarding the pulled items I was told by an eBay representative that they couldn’t tell me more due to privacy but that they report all suspected illegal activity to the police including DVD piracy (I later talked to an Police Officer at the London Met who told me that in their knowledge ebay.co.uk had NEVER contacted them regarding ANY suspected illegal activity)

Over the next several months I repeatedly asked, and begged ebay.co.uk representatives to take simple precautions to stop the repeated selling of DVD’s which were not only illegal in the UK, clear examples of child pornography but also went against their own policies. Simply adding the distributor (such as Baikal or Pojkart) and titles to their monitoring bots would make a huge difference.

I emailed eBay several internet links showing distributor websites and boy-lover forums which had direct links to ebay.co.uk as the place to obtain out-of-print films of young naked boys. I assume that lawyers talked because the links disappeared, yet the films, continued to sell regularly on ebay.co.uk.

Meanwhile, in the US, two different mothers stumbled onto Baikal films on Amazon.com. One mother was looking for a gymnastic video for her 7 year old and was somewhat disturbed by a film “Gym Boys” which was positively reviewed for those who “love boys” and the clear descriptions of how many minutes of nudity and shower scenes there were. Starting a blogging campaign she managed to get Amazon.com to...pull the reviews. (Yes the solution of a film about gym boys that is too disturbing to show to boys interested in gymnastics is to stop listing how much nudity and radiant boy shots there are). Continuing her campaign she convinced Amazon to stop selling Baikal films, in the US (where they are currently legal), and to petition to get amendments to the child pornography laws to close this loophole.

Under negative pressure Baikal closed their “naturalist boy” review site Moviebizz. In the last month, they also changed their old review system in which they gave the film a number of “thumbs up” depending on how much nudity and explicit sexual content in contained (see it here) to a “critics review” system (see here) and changed the “HOT” rating on a film from how sexual it was to “how well it sells” (hmmmm…..)

Their legal policy page has had a major upgrade from the original which used to read that they couldn’t answer whether the film was legal as so many countries had so many different laws. Also they wouldn’t answer emails of “Is this legal” because if “you are that paranoid perhaps you have other issues that should be dealt with and should pass on this website.” Now their legal page emphasizes that they are not pornography by the laws of US and CANADA and then goes on to generally say how awful pornography is and imply that their films are likely not illegal in many other countries. Yet, even on BoyLoverNet, these films are well known to both fall under the legal classification of “Child Pornography” in the UK yet be available on ebay.co.uk.

While Baikal and other distributors have cleaned up the open sexual exuberance in the naked bodies of 10-14 year olds they continue, against ebay.co.uk policy and UK law to be sold on ebay.co.uk; netting a profit of fees for ebay.co.uk, a profit for the seller and giving the buyer a satisfying evening watching naked boys cavorting in showers, wrestling and sweating. Perhaps the reason they continue to be sold is that while ebay.co.uk has spent millions of dollars in advertising last year, the number of individuals employed by ebay.co.uk to monitor ebay.co.uk for illegal goods including child pornography is exactly the same as the year before: Zero.

Here are several films, which are illegal to sell or buy in Britain but are currently (and unless ebay changes, will always be) available on ebay.co.uk: (click on the titles to see the sale on ebay, found after searching a few minutes)

Trading Punches & High Spirited Boys by Baikal and Pojkart: “42 minutes of absolutely fabulous colorized action that captures a group of boys ranging in ages from early pre-teens to young teens and on through a few older teens… the boys stop “ Trading Punches ” long enough to head for the local spa and sauna where they all spend a wonderful afternoon relaxing, showering for the spa pool and sauna room and having a ball being boys and not boxers. Like other Baikal and Naturist Films, Director Igor Kostenyuk captures the boys in their full natural glory with the same unabashed casualness that the Europeans are noted for in their unashamed respect for the disrobed human body”
High Spirited Boys - water fight nudist fun with children including Oskar, who has been appearing naked in Pojkart films since the age of 8


Genesis Children: The Genesis Children - the film - is an extended excuse to see pubescent and prepubescent boys naked. That's it. What story there is - is there only for the auspice of saying that there is a story. Since it is illegal to promote, film, distribute children having sex, the producers and director of this film have done the next best thing: a vast array of naked boys parade about performing various tasks..Unless you really are into young boys, you'll find this film a bore”

There are many Canadian sellers of these films. They may be legal to sell (though against eBay policy) but are illegal to buy from the UK. But since the only one who could monitor this is ebay, there appears to be no worry.

Cool Dudes by Baikal: (“Participants are between 11 and 13 years of age” Baikal films) "like all of Kostenyuk’s Foreign Documentaries – “ Cool Dudes ” contains footage shot in the uninhibited European style of full frontal nudity during shower and locker scenes."

I don’t see a fine line between child pornography and films that are filmed and rated by the distributors for the amount of sexual content/nudity (an unconvincing “all actors are 18” is stuck on the “explicit sexual content and nudity” films, especially as IMB actor listings and the distributor own review pages say otherwise). This is particularly true when their publicity and review arm, Moviebizz had a special link for films with actors “14 and under.” We are not talking about random nudist images but a specific industry dedicated to and appreciated by adult-child lovers (including The Association for acceptance of adult-child love relationships’ OK Magazine: notice the article on Pojkart).

So ebay.co.uk, ebay.ca, ebay.com please take some time out of counting your blood money and if you aren’t interested in monitoring and enforcing your own policies regarding child nudity, can you at least monitor the sale of films of sexual exploitation of children to countries where they are illegal?

Ebay: Buy Everything You Want (genuine online ad)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Changing my Life Part I: Men

Last night after fencing class was over, William, the 16 year old bloody, blade-breaker (two conditions), observed from having read my blog that I tend to attract either ugly or stupid men. This isn’t entirely true; I also attract insane and criminal ones.

In the UK, I was semi-stalked by a guy who was on disability because of his distress regarding the House of Lords stopping the UK from being a true democracy. He seemed to believe that a) every other country in the world but Britain was a democracy and b) that I wanted to hear him talk about it every day. Early on, when I thought he wanted a discussion; I pointed out to him that Cuba was a fine and happy dictatorship. He got a very odd glow in his eyes. Later he made a passing comment that “The doctors lie, I don’t have schizophrenia, I just attacked that guy with a hammer because he didn’t realize how important democracy is.” Yeah, and I just changed all my walking routes because I realize how important not running into you is.

There was also the guy who kept trying to pick me up at a dance where I had come with a group of 16 lesbians to have a “dance within a dance.” Every single song, he made a beeline to me with a bow and “This dance my lady?” Eventually a big butch took him aside; “We are lesbians, get it, we don’t want to dance with you, she doesn’t want to dance with you.” For the next couple months he was always running up to me, “Hey, remember me from the dance.” Yeah.

I told William how I had seen the backwoods Beard-O and “mama” that day on my trip to Port Angeles, again at the Dairy Queen. I hid behind a box and a table. Graceful? No. But better than resuming the conversation: “You’re tall! Mama, she’s still tall!”

I left William and within a block I passed Thor and his new crony, both of which gave me the heavy hairy eyeball. Thor seemed particularly interested. Thor is a 40 year old tall, totally blocky and built guy with long blond hair who I am convinced is a criminal. I met him briefly eight years ago in View Towers and based one of the characters in my novel, Zed around him. He owns a limo which he often drives to the states. He told me he takes carpets across the border (that’s what he said, but what I was hearing while he said it was “I dispose of bodies by taking them in carpets across the border”).

Thor (not his real name) is “heavy.” He has that completely stone cold way of saying things which tells you that he lying to you but if you are smart you won’t try to find out or challenge him because then he would have to hurt you, bad. He reminded me of the people I used to meet in Vancouver when the girl I was totally in lust with was dragging me around the club drug scene; showing me the boat where the drugs were cut and introducing me to guys with one eye or nicknames like “Ratchet” (No, I didn’t get the girl then either as she was in love with “Mr. Blow” which means she was not only working as a club mule for the drug trade but also selling her criminal buddies out to the police to get more money for drugs).

But wait. Why should I have to avoid my favorite video store just because the semi-homeless guy outside wants a threesome? Why should I have to avoid my old apartment just because the guy upstairs said that staring at women was “not just his hobby but also part of his heritage?” I could beat these guys up with one arm. No, literally; due to epee, I now have this freakishly muscled arm on just one side of my body (see photo left). Okay, maybe not beat them up but I could use my epee skills and strength to jab them a lot. Would that make me a “nice girl?” No. But I might have less nervous twitches.

I have a plan. I will just carry an epee around town with me. Some guy comes up and goes, “Hey you’re so tall, I’ve always wanted to pretend to be a jockey” then, BAM, groin hit (if fencing has taught me anything, it is that guys fear a 60 mile an hour hit to the groin with a epee). What’s that, you want to know where my porn site is? Taste my Epee Wrath! “Hey baby, I got some Windex if you have a squeegee.” What does that mean? Groin hit him just in case. There are probably some drawbacks to this plan; I just can’t think of them.

Jpeg 1 - http://www.scs.carleton.ca/~oppacher/images/man-with-hammer.jpg

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Epee Blues and Strange Parries

I am going through one of those epee doldrums: nothing seems to gel, I’ve hit a plateau and I’m frustrated and tired. If it wasn’t for Gerald (and my sheer stubbornness), I would probably quit.

Gerald, a 40+ fencer who is coming up to 2 years of epee, is a sponge of observed technique. On Friday he kept encircling my blade, binding and then lunging to the shoulder. I stopped the bout to make him show me what he was doing. Every time I think I have all of Gerald’s tricks covered he pulls another one out; some of them are worth learning. Last week he pulled his hand behind his body and bent backwards to avoid my blade then he caught me as I froze, shocked by this example of incredibly bad fencing form. Fencing him is fun; we laugh a lot during matches.

On Friday I actually leapt into the air throwing my body over Gerald’s blade for a shoulder touch. One time he told me, “Anything works once” so the next match with him I screamed, fully faced him and did a second of “the robot dance” before lunging forward and getting the point while he stood slack jawed. “You’re right,” I told him, “Everything does work once.”

I think we have the same timing; slow. Gerald tries to engage the blade so he can get in close and stab you. During one bout we were almost hugging each other as I kept trying to get my blade back far enough to stab him in the head while Gerald was hunched over trying to stab my shoe. The judge said it looked like we were doing a Three Stooges skit on fencing.

I call him The Degenerator because no matter how clean your form Gerald manages to reduce everyone to wacky attacks, parry in four (his strongest move) and close body blind stabbing. But he is fun, and I need that now. 'Cause even the ping pong ball is harder to hit this week.

Jpeg1- http://www.utahfencing.org/image_manager/epee_pic_2.jpg

Friday, March 24, 2006

Going Pro in Epee & other painful delusions

I cannot force myself to accept the inevitable. Step one: hold epee. Step two: Introduce self – “Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I’m a...a...this is so hard. I'm a....fencing hobbyist. No, It’s a lie! Tell me I can go pro! (shouts of “grab her, she’s going for the trophy stand”)”

After a few conversations with Monica Kwan I have decided that turning pro isn’t a dream in Canada, it’s a nightmare, a very, very expensive nightmare. Let’s see if I can summarize: In Canada, you receive a competitive ranking based on events, but only Canadian events (which means from Victoria, the furthest event would be over 3,500 miles away, while the Leon Auriol Open in Seattle which is 80 miles away doesn't count). The rankings must be reclaimed EVERY year (Class C last year...you’re nothing now!). Then, if you do well enough in rankings AND the nationals you get a national competitive card which lets you compete internationally.

Canada determines your international ranking based on seven different international competitions, which change each year. How well you do at these seven tournaments not only determines your international ranking but whether you get a) a card – which pays for your tuition and a stipend each month which currently doesn’t even cover travel costs and b) if you get on the National Team. During this critical first year, if you are top ranked you may be invited to be a HP (high performance) fencer and do extra training camps in Quebec. All of these, including transportation will be at YOUR expense. Monica said that first year she spent over $15,000 on the transportation alone. If she didn’t get the card for the second year, she couldn’t have continued. She did get the card, but now must compete not just against international competitors but against her teammates to get a card next year as each year there are LESS cards (even though this is a run up to the Olympics). She is however sponsored by the BC Fencers Association for $500. Yes, become the top fencer in BC and you get $500, less the $80 annual Association fee of course.

Monica goes to university, goes to national and international events, trains every day and works to cover her costs. The closest Canada has to a “professional” fencer is Sherraine Schalm-MacKay (pictured left) who is currently number 1 in the world in women’s epee, lives in Hungary instead of Canada because of the costs/training and still has to teach English to make money. This woman is the best fencer Canada has ever had. She is the number 1 in the world in her sport. She has been in the top 8 for the last six years and yet still cannot support herself through fencing. There seems something wrong with that (particularly when you find out that in France McDonalds sponsors the National Team).

If Amanda does well this year at Provincials and Nationals, she will have to make this decision: $20,000+ for a one year shot at international competition?

What about me, will I ever face that decision? I would like to say that what separates me from Amanda, Monica and other fencers is a fine line but in reality it is the grand canyon – they have young bodies, years of exclusive training (Mr. Ho sure does like them young) while I...

Let’s put it this way, the pain from epee fencing means I still don’t sleep the two nights I fence; add in running and that is three nights a week of pain pills, sedatives and moaning (the bad kind). The cost for me to go up to simply 5 days of training a week without a coach would be $2,000 (which I don’t have – if I did I would have a lot more clothes than I do!), plus another $3000-$5000 to go to Canadian events to compete.

This is high school PE all over again. They are “natural” athletes, while I am “the nerd.” It doesn’t matter that I think faster than they do or that I almost always want it more but in the end, can a slow-twitch, scoliostic, bruising and constant pain 30+ year old take out these 19-21 year olds? YES!!!!! Totally! Screw reality and pass the pain pills Linda!

When I ran marathons my parents would debate who I could have inherited athletic anything from as the entire family for multiple generations are good steady, always-picked-last-for-the-team people. I didn’t tell them I’m not naturally athletic, I’m just the most stubborn, bitchy, determined, borderline self-hating person I know. Oh, and arrogant, really arrogant. Who the heck is nature and the “laws of physics” to tell me what I can and cannot do?

Going to tournaments is a win/win for me. Since I haven’t gone before that means beating ANYONE improves my ratings (ha, I bet I can make that 13 year old cry!). Plus as I pointed out to Monica, even if I can’t go pro, by getting better and beating the other girls at tournaments, I can reduce their chance of going pro too! Monica looked appalled. I’m guessing either that isn’t the “proper” attitude or I have been fencing epee with the guys way too long.

jpeg 1 - http://www-scf.usc.edu/~fencing/Images/Duel-04/167-6711_IMG.JPG
jpeg 3 - http://espn-att.starwave.com/media/oly/2000/0919/photo/gallery16_s.jpg

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Flirting: Ferry of love & exploding heads

Three times a month I take the 46 year old ferry, M. V. Coho from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA (so many American temptations: manga, chocolate, shotgun weddings).

When Linda and I took the Saturday ferry we found not just any ferry; but the ferry of love. As soon as we cleared harbor people approached each other; a singles mingle at 12 knots. On our left lounged two playstation-loving, sports-trivia expert slackers complete with baseball caps: attraction potential zero. Yet within 10 minutes an Asian model with purple lipstick sat down across from them and tried to get them into polysyllabic conversation. To our right a sophisticated blonde was trapped by Mr. grey pony-tail guy whose soft tones indicated that he was “centered” and “sensitive” (Run, lady run!).

Within half an hour the Asian model has the boys eating out of her hand; she stands up and they follow her outside (what exactly can you do on an open deck? Never mind. That just shows my lack of imagination; erotic smoking?) Meanwhile Pony-tail has moved into the rhythmic soft cadence and meaningful hand gestures which indicate a life story with suffering and enlightenment; he may mist up soon. The golden haired beauty looks up and our eyes meet. I wonder what that means but turn back to my trashy thriller.

As we line up for offloading in Port Angeles Linda and I end up behind the blonde and Mr. Ponytail. I’m still carrying the thriller.

“Good book?” She asks, catching my eyes again.

“No. It’s boring.”

Pony-tail is offended at this. Is he friends with the author or maybe he is one of nature’s killjoys? The blonde just smiles and says, “I think I’ve seen you on here before.”

Later I realize that she is right, I have seen her before. This was the woman from three weeks ago who kept making eyes at me from across the lounge and positioned herself next to me while leaving the ferry, giving me a smile and a wink.

Usually, I am magnet for flirtation from creepy males. The less they bathe and the stranger they get, the more they want me. Linda finds this funny. I ask her, “Why can’t I ever get a girl interested in me?”

Now, the same woman who was making eyes at me has initiated conversation, she is giving me chances to show my interest. Chances of which I am totally oblivious.

She tries again, “If it’s boring, why read it?”

I shrug, “Long trip, either read this, or spend my time trying to blow up people’s heads.”

Linda is killing herself laughing and the woman is laughing too, though maybe having moved away a bit. Pony-tail’s kill-joy meter is off the charts, “I guess we each have our own way.” he says in calming tones. “I’m a healer and you, uh, blow up people.”

“Yeah. But less people in line ahead of me.”

Pissing off Pony-tail makes me happy. But, no, I don’t get the girl, I don’t get the tingle-tingle flirting, just the “what if I hadn’t talked about killing people?” reflection.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Flirting: "mama" & shotgun style

Last week, while in Port Angeles, I was picking up a burger from Diary Queen for the ferry ride back to Victoria. This is not a large diner and there were just two other customers; a 30 year old guy with one of those scary uneven backwoods beards (with matching eyebrows) sitting with a plump 55+ woman. We noticed each other. Then they started staring at me, and pointing; animated talking and more staring.

Why are they talking about me? Face free of food? Check. Cool clothes and leather jacket? Check. Carrying a backpack full of manga? Check.

The guy gets up and walks right up next to me. He’s up inside my personal space with a look on his face that tells me he doesn’t have all his rocks in his polisher. “”Look mama, she’s real tall.” He shouts, looking at me with a dopey grin. “You’re tall,” He tells me.

Bad news. The whole stare and point thing has become clear. Beard-o had taken a “shine” to me. I nod and smile.

“I ain’t seen you round here before.”

Nod and smile and grab the burger bag.

“You’re tall.” He doesn’t realize he’s said this already, “Sure is lots round here.”

Huh?

The woman is up and out of her chair. “Get the door for the nice lady Junior.” She shouts.

Evade! Escape! If “mama’s” telling Junior to be nice it means that Beard-o has already been turned down by every girl within 40 miles. It means his mama has been telling him for five years that “There’s a girl out there just right for you.” And now I know why their eyes both lit up when I walked into DQ. I am God-sent; I am Junior’s last hope.

I keep walking. But I’m listening for the sound of a backwoods pickup and the pump action of a shotgun. If I hear mama saying, “She’s got strong bones” or “breeding hips,” it's time to run.



jpeg 1- http://www.adventuremetal.com/images/Beard-O.JPG
jpeg2- http://www.nolifetilmetal.com/images/bride_shotgun.jpg

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Zed's Book Award nominations and Fig Newtons

Zed has been nominated for two awards. The first is the ReLit Awards, awarded to books published by independent Canadian Publishers. I am on the long list; the very long list of 39 novels. The short list comes out in April. While being 1 of 39 isn’t super affirming, how depressing would it be NOT to be one of the 39?

This proves to me that I never fully leave behind the lessons of elementary school: watch out for the guy that runs around kissing girls, make sure you have both mittens, play-dough is not for eating and try not to throw up while the cool people loudly discuss whether they really want to pick you for their team. Do you think if I gave the Director of the Relit Awards some of my Fig Newtons that she would be my friend? Pick me, pick me!

The second award is the Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year for excellence in Independent Publishing. Simon Logan emailed to tell me this. Simon’s an author who looks to be a major mover in Urban/Industrial Fiction (Check out his site). I am in the Science Fiction category which has 14 books in the shortlist. I think this is the first time Arsenal Press has been nominated for their publication of science fiction (bwhahaha..welcome to the dark side). A little odd, as my genre default tends to be “fiction” or “literature” since “ever-present urban hell” isn’t yet a recognized genre. (the Globe & Mail Review is here)

The idea that people are currently comparing Zed to other works is frightening. I know Zed must stand on her own two feet but all I can envision is a Junior Miss Beauty Pageant where the other contestants are putting glitter in their hair while Zed is carving “Me Pretty” into her arm with her switchblade.

For anyone who has read Zed (or really anyone!), please feel free to try and tamper with the selection processes. I recommend cutting letters out of newspapers to use in writing your missive; crayon is also a very acceptable medium. Any accounts of OCD, foot fungus and other miraculous healings upon reading the book as well as details of the religious figures seen in the coffee stain on page 113 are needed. Now is not the time to be shy. As my writing mentor once screamed after me, “Whore yourself, it’s the only way!”

This blog nears the Top 10!

Thanks to a recent referral, I have found out that this blog is now the 11th highest response for the search topic "Bronze Porn Video"

I know this is a proud moment for everyone (Barf!)

Monday, March 13, 2006

1000 ping pong strikes for epee Jesus


I have whacked a ping pong ball 1000 times for Jesus. Well, technically I delivered 1000 surgical strikes with a foil on a ping-pong ball for learning epee. But often God got a mention, along with my prayer “Lord, why give perfect hand-eye coordination to all the wrong people? Why not me? Also please give me the reflexes and flexibility of a 16 year old gymnast. Amen.”

What have I learned? I learned that if my feet aren’t perfectly aligned in fencing position it throws off my shoulder. I learned that hitting an angulation shot is really tricky and I learned that currently if there was a tournament between a ping-pong ball with an epee and me, I would lose.

On Friday night all that fencing practice came together when fencing Gerald. In the first hit of the night I snapped from a defensive guard to a high angulation and put my tip right over the top of his guard, hitting his forearm. Perfect.

For the rest of the night no one let me even close to their arm.

A new epeeist has started named Steven who is 6’8”. Mr. Ho seems, like the King of Poland, to have a lust for collecting really tall fighters. For the first few bouts Steven maintained form but now, remembering how people have hit him, his actions are really erratic. He likes hitting my leg a lot. Plus because I tend to hit his arm, as soon as my blade comes close he just pulls his arm all the way back. Sometimes he crouches on the ground. This is not to say he isn’t effective as he has several inches on all of us and as he is withdrawing targets we must either chance a hit when he decides to attack (dicey for me as I miss more often than hit) or charge the body and hope he doesn’t get his blade up.

In the first bout I hit him in the groin four times in a row. Now, while I may be a mild man-hating-lesbo I certainly am not going to just aim for the guy’s groin. I finally realized that he kept parrying my sword down. So I would aim for his shoulder and he would parry the lunge right into his groin, time after time. For once I might not be the most bruised person at the club.

He actually is quite nice and says that he is “rich with a cushy job” which involves something with the government. In the last bout of the night he beat for the first time; 5-3. He consoled me by saying that I was tired. How nice is that? He’s almost too nice to demolish. Good thing I practice throat strikes on Teddy Bears.

Straight men and lesbian kisses


Men. Yes, you guys who showed up because I put lesbian in the title: Thanks.

Every time I put the word “lesbian” in a blog title about 20 guys show up, stay for 2 seconds looking for naked pictures, and disappear. Yet, if it was not for this known (and predictable) nature of male-kind I would not be able to enjoy the lesbian subplot of season 2 of OC, or the same in season 2 of One Tree Hill. Without the big dollar draw of the guy/lesbian attraction would Willow have ever kissed Tara? Would there even be the L-word series? (they are all hot long haired lesbian women because they...reflect the community?).

Lesbians on Project Runway, the lesbian-cheerleader episode of Veronica Mars, Ally McBeal’s (Flockhart’s) kiss with Ling (Lucy Liu), the lesbian kiss on season two of Las Vegas; these are your accomplishments.

Kudo’s to you guys, whose relentless obsession lets me give The Kiss keychains to my friends, watch lesbian jokes on the TV series The Job and even get some lesbian humor into Gilmore Girls (and a kiss between Rory and Paris). It lets sexually explicit series like Tipping the Velvet get made by the BBC.

The whole straight male/lesbian interest thing is a mystery to me (and many, many others). The fascination is creepy, maybe kinda sad and produces lots of horrific explotation sites (no thank-you’s for that!). Regardless of your intent, I benefit from most guy's known attention-getter, so please keep writing in those letters to every network saying: “We want more lesbians on TV, especially with kissing, particularly during sweeps week.”
http://www.clublez.com/movies/lesbian_movie_scenes/titles_new_02.htm

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My belly, my breasts and global warming

I am having body part issues (mine, not the neighbor I hear through the wall with the strange chopping sounds). Going to war with my pot is a common enough experience (as well as with my “love handles,” “thunder-thighs” and various other cellulite manifestations). But now my breasts are blackmailing me.

Usually I have what people call a “model-like” body (Translation: long, thin with little boob). By coincidence, I also have a model’s personality (narcissistic, neurotic, insecure and slightly disturbed). But, now due to winter, moving countries, sitting at my computer too much, global warming and economic instability in Venezuela I have a pot. Who cares why I have it, or that 90% of women over a certain age (lets call that 19) have one, the important and devastating thing is that I do (Hello? Remember the neurotic and narcissistic?). Or more importantly, ½ of my tops are laughing at me. I can hear them snickering in the closet.

And it isn’t like I’m not exercising: I fence for three hours twice a week, walk everywhere, do daily fencing exercises and run for endurance. My lower abdomen is tight as a drum, my torso has slimmed down and my collarbone is prominently displayed. All in all, everything AROUND my pot has toned up and flattened out leaving my pot looking BIGGER and more jiggly than ever.

And my breasts, who most of their life have been distinct underachievers (they keep telling me, “Wake us up for menopause, we’ll grow then"), have decided to get perky. If I was in the shower or in front of a mirror that would be great, but they reserve perky-time for when I’m exercising. That means 30 minutes into my jogging I am giving everyone that goes by me the nipple-attack.

I went to buy some new jogging bras. They start at $50. So, $100 in sport support bras for breasts that (let’s face it) are not needing a lot of support. I’m spending all that money just to stop the launch of nipple missiles? What do I get for $50 that I can’t get with duct tape? Linda says, “Stop moaning and buy the bras.”

Besides, last month I spent something like $200 on bras at Marks and Spencers (using pictures of C-cup models on the package of smaller size push-up bras is not just false advertising, it’s emotionally cruel). My breasts are well dressed, content, and somewhat smug. All they have to do is think of something rude to do and I have to spend more money. The galling thing of it is that with all my pot-obsessed exercise, I think they may be slightly smaller. Sigh.

Jpeg 1 -http://www.edhat.com/img2/belly2.jpg">http://www.edhat.com/img2/belly2.jpg
jpeg2 - http://www.roadrunnersports.com

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Surprise someone this Christmas: A toast to lesbianism

Having someone butcher my hair makes me an indoors gal (what is the point of a cool-dyke biker jacket when your bangs now look like they did when you were five?). Having Canada Post say, “So, we lost $800 of your stuff, how is that our problem?” makes me believe in spiritual yeast infections.

Luckily there is still the soothing embrace of audio/visual envelopment (with mega-bass), and a big fat internet-cable pipe to supply my craving.

For tapping into the darker side, I like the new X-3 trailer (click on this or any other link to watch the trailer/movie/whatever) which makes both destructive oblivion and pleading for death look heroic. But nothing blows the ultimate-pouting-fantasy where I'm using my mind to set my town (and Canada Post) on fire faster than letting Linda watch the trailer with me. Why? Because she actually tries to figure out the PLOT.
“What did he say?”
I glare at her.
“No really, was that ‘Stand with me?’ or ‘Ham and Cheese?’”

I’m not in control of my life and the flash animation User Agreement has finally told me who, or at least what is (why do I spend more on my computer than I do for food?). It might also explain my nudist inclinations while sitting in front of the computer.

When I’m depressed I mentally replay all the bad things people have said. Hearing the voices of ex-friends/relations who don’t get that living and loving isn’t about social conformity, or living the parents /grandparents dreams or about going to heaven or hell really sucks. The Korean flash film There She Is gets that (oh no! A girl bunny and a boy cat – what will the children think?). Plus it has a soundtrack which somehow mixes the cool of cult film Tokyo Drifter with an underground Budapest swing-dance club.

In my ongoing quest to queer history/Hollywood and all things pop-cult, I’ve been watching the alternate history of Back to the Future and the relationship between Doc and Marty in Brokeback to the Future; a trailer from which I am still giggling.

To attain that warm fuzzy feeling, Home for Christmas is a short film from Norway about coming out as a lesbian (with strange Norse humour). It’s nice to know that I wasn’t the only one with this fantasy. In one scene the father raises his glass over the dinner table, “Imagine how proud Grandpa and Mimmi would have been had they lived to see a lesbian in our family..a toast to lesbianism. A toast to the future.”

I wonder if I can get some t-shirts printed up with the film’s tag line: Surprise someone this Christmas.

Monday, March 06, 2006

An idiot with scissors gets my money

Nothing can ruin a nice day faster than bad haircut (or a truck without brakes). Thankfully, I didn’t need a haircut. But I did need my bangs trimmed.

I made the appointment at the nearest salon for this morning.

Signs that you have gone to the wrong stylist

  1. The stylist has only 1 brush
  2. The stylist has to ask someone what “ceramic straighteners” are
  3. The stylist has a hearing problem which translates “Cut below the eyebrows” to “Cut two inches above the eyebrows”
  4. You have a better hair dryer than they do
  5. The stylist can’t cut in a straight line
When he finished I was turned back to the mirror.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!!!" My bangs have been reduced to a one inch curl off the hairline last seen on the Three Stooges skit; “Moe’s Bad Hair Day.”

Desperately, I try to brush the bangs down but they aren’t getting any longer. “Straighteners?” No, this salon has no straighteners/flat irons.

“Maybe it’s too short” says the stylist.

“Yes, it is. Can you make them longer?”

“No... That will be $6.55.”

My parents told me not to run with scissors and to take them out of my mouth. They failed to mention that for the rest of my life, when I least suspected it, idiots with scissors would ruin my day, my hair and then charge me for the experience.
Jpeg 2 - http://www.michauxrecreation.com/images/haircut/close_cut.jpg
    32% of people surveyed have skipped school/work due to bad hair
    http://www.beautifulhairstyles.com/hairpolls/skip.html

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Epee, bruises, training and painkillers.

    Friday night I swallowed a prescription painkiller, two muscle relaxants and valium in order to get four hours of semi conscious sleep. It hurt so bad I was making mewling sounds. Yes, Friday night was fencing night.

    At the club, Gerald was back, having recovered from his flu. So we warmed up with epee bouts. I was trying out a new technique of lunging into the forearm. Gerald had his usual method of engage the blade and then poke the body. He also shares a frustrating habit with nearly all men I fence; when they fence me, they never retreat (when they fence men however...).

    For the first ten minutes I just couldn’t get anything to work; my hand-body-brain connection wasn’t meshing. I was getting tired of being Gerald’s PiƱata girl. I tried being mature or being above it all but he just kept hitting me. So I told myself fortune cookie philosophy like “Think of the mountain, not the boulder.” This is when Gerald decided to stop and give me a lesson in what I “should” be doing. What’s that, hit you on the arm? Why didn't I think of that!

    Whether it was the touch of anger or finally getting warmed up I could suddenly do no wrong. I was untouchable. This concerned some of the guys there. They told Gerald he should “get it together”, “Show her” cause “I’m betting on you.” (because we all know nothing is worse than getting beat by a GIRL!). Gerald however, did not show me; Amanda did.

    Amanda is the Western Champion. She even has the T-shirt. I was doing okay with her until I told her there was “no way” she would be getting points off me, especially not off my foot (that requires an advanced lunge technique to hit the tip of the toe). So, she not only hit my foot twice, she also bruised my thigh and won the bout 10-1. For some reason, I can motivate her (was it when I told her I would be beating her by April?).

    Gerald left and Amanda went with Mr. Ho for her lesson. I was left practicing lunges at the full length mirror. Mr. Ho did not like my lunges as they were foil lunges (where the arm extends and you lunge forward simultaneously). He showed me the epee lunge: extend, aim then lunge in a single motion. I practiced some more. That girl in the mirror sure is slow.

    After Amanda finished her lesson she talked to Mr. Ho. He turned and called me over. Me? Yes. Oh, yes, Elizabeth is getting a lesson! Thank you Amanda.

    First Mr. Ho shows me the jack knife: how to shoot my arm from a bent defense position to an extended attacking position in one fast motion). Then there is the second jack knife, my back leg, which is used to accelerate my body forward. Attack from bent arm to aimed arm and explode forward on target while keeping the arm protected perfectly behind the hand guard. Have I got it? Good, now repeat until sore.

    Mr. Ho wears a super thick arm guard with different coloured patches on it. This lesson uses the three blue patches: one atop his lower arm and one either side of the wrist (targets for over the top of the wrist and on each side).

    I need to attack when he exposes a blue patches. The problem is that after 150 minutes of epee bouts I feel like a my limbs are made of playdough; very heavy, very painful playdough. I have to put my epee tip consistently into a target space the size of a half dollar. And if the attack isn’t done at the perfect angle, instead of the blade making a nice arc it skids and slides up the arm. When that happens Mr. Ho looks at my tip like it trailed dog poo up his arm and barks, “Hit target.” All that is required is perfection.

    First we do it stationary, then he moves and I move, attacking the exposed patches as often and as quickly as I can. Next is a distance lunge, hit and repeat, again. Finally he backs away so I must step and aim, lunge and hit. I start ten feet away from him and must hit the perfect spot at the perfect angle. And we do it again and again.

    I don’t always hit the spot, sometimes, especially on the side of his wrist, I miss entirely and the point scrapes his arm before sliding past. I feel like an idiot. I am an idiot. Mr. Ho looks at me like I’m a five year old caught eating glue, “You hit here” he points to the patch, “Don’t go past. You don’t hit, you don’t get point.” Yes, Mr. Ho. And again.

    My legs are telling me they want to cramp, or collapse; whichever. My body starts to weave because of exhaustion and Mr. Ho yells at me to be STILL, “only move the arm.” I clench my molars together, still my body, still my arm, extend and lunge. This is my first lesson, my only lesson and I will pass out before I stop. All I see is Mr. Ho and the blue patches. I will do it perfectly.

    When I do it perfectly a few times he says, “Good.” The finishes with, “but you are too slow.”

    He takes off his helmet and we salute with blades. I want to bow.

    Now, I have homework. I need to get a ping pong ball and suspend it from the ceiling and extend, lunge and hit it 1000 times before next week. The next 1000 I must do when the ball is in motion.

    Before I leave Mr. Ho comes and asks, “There’s nothing wrong with you?” Mr. Ho won’t teach people who get or have injuries. Amanda’s been told if she even sprains her leg she’s out. I am so tired I’m not sure I can move one arm and leg. That night I will cry at 3:30 am because my body is burning up and it won’t stop hurting. But when morning comes I will go and buy ping-pong balls. No, there’s nothing wrong with me.

    Jpeg 1:http://goprincetontigers.collegesports.com/sports/w-fenc/prin-w-fenc-body.html
    Jpeg 3: http://eur.news1.yimg.com/eur.yimg.com/ng/sp/ap_photo/20051014/all/l1599419.jpg

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Update on Zed and your public library

    The interest/sales of Zed are very up and down. On Thursday, Feb 23rd at 6:00 pm I attained 1,654 in the Amazon.ca Canadian book sales rankings. This put my book ahead of such classics as A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Once I had hoped of cracking the top 10,000 and now dreams of being within the top 1000 best selling fiction books on Amazon.ca were quickly fermenting.

    Well, like many things that ferment, my dreams started to explode under the stairs like poorly stored home-made root beer. I have been slowly falling in the rankings since then and now reside back around/below 18,000 again. And the book’s availability continues to cycle through available in 1-3 months, 4-8 days, unavailable and back to 2-6 weeks.

    The Victoria public library currently has one copy with twelve holds on it and is ordering two more copies of the book. The Vancouver public library has one copy with eleven holds. I haven’t found any other Canadian libraries with copies. So people have seen the reviews and decided to read the book...just not commit to owning it. I must now depend on the impatience of library readers to boost my sales. Also, if anyone out there has read the book without being paid to do so, please let me know.

    The book isn’t coming out until May in the United States which means I need to come up with a plan on a) how to get more libraries to buy the book across Canada and b) get more newspapers, bloggers, or other sources within Canada to review the book until the US reviews start up.

    Why all the effort? Is it because this book that will help people or bring communities together? No. But it does speak for a group of people who almost never get to speak: those for whom survival is success.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    The Gold-Standard of Mental Self Assessment

    During the move yesterday Ras came down and gave Linda a full body hug saying how much he would miss her (since she usually orders him to turn down his stereo I think he has a little domination fantasy going about her: particularly as he jokes about her whips and shouts “Yes Ma’am!” whenever she tells him to do something). After the hug he went upstairs and cranked death-rock on his 16 perfectly attuned speakers. Good luck next tenant.

    Our new apartment is large and very quiet. We can’t hear our neighbours at all; except the guy across the street. There is a Victorian house across the street where someone is practicing drums. Last night they had a whole garage band in there and this morning he is practicing again. While it's true he is a pretty awful drummer I am not sure I support daily practice, not when I have single-paned windows. Of course I haven’t started practicing my double bass yet either.

    To drown out the drums I am playing the three CD’s unpacked so far. Right now it is the Michael Nyman Songbook. The atonal clarinet and the soprano, Ute Lemper, singing Latin is creating a musically assisted suicide. Why did I buy this CD? I think I bought it to impress someone. It might have been God.

    I changed CD’s to Holly McNarland’s Sour Pie (see her video). Her song Stormy is like having a personal Twin Peaks soundtrack to your life. I need that soundtrack.

    Creativity is a lot like insanity, at least it is with me. Being alone for days working on something that only I can see brings out the muttered one sided conversations. Once on a Bipolar Disorder Forum I asked a woman how she knew when it was time to be institutionalized. She said she knew when the fisherman only she could see at the end of her bed took off his head. I currently use that as the gold-standard of self assessment.