Back again. Below, you’ll find Borat, my connection with an actress, basic grammar tips, geek humor, naked women, minor politics, assless chaps and happy endings for women (and more!).

— There’s an actress named Amanda Brooks. Moviefone had confused my site with her, so was listed under her information (courtesy of an AOL search). I found this amusing. (The top listings have changed since I first noticed this.)

— Excellent and simple grammar tips from a business site. They cover 10 common mistakes. Print this article! It’s a handy reference. (I’m guilty of #4 and #8, am often confused by #5 and #9 and still sometimes break #2.)

— Christina Aguilera is interviewed in the September 2006 Allure and the interviewer goes on and on about Aguilera’s wearing of “assless chaps” back in 2002. I thought the very definition of chaps is that they don’t have a pelvis. If they fully covered the lower half they’d be pants, not chaps.

— There was a major bill up for vote in a county near where I live. There were very strong arguments for both sides of the issue. The local people who were opposed to the bill spent less than $1000 campaigning. The big corporation who wanted everyone to vote yes spent over $700,000 campaigning; 90% of those funds were spent outside the county on campaign consultants. As far as I can tell, their campaign was been much like the local campaign: letters to the local newspaper and signs everywhere. However, those outside consultants have been worth their fee. Their signs are really pretty and the locals’ (the opposition) signs have been rather ho-hum. It’s worth over $600,000 to have pretty signs, right?

According to a local Political Science professor, the pretty signs have worked their magic on him. He believes that the company’s willingness to spend so much money to win the vote means that they’re right (I’m only slightly paraphrasing).

The locals weren’t as impressed with the pretty signs as the political professor. The bill did not pass.

— Web sites for authors are almost as much a rip-off industry as Web sites for escorts. I looked at the portfolio of one designer who does superficially good work for authors. Then I visited their FAQ. They explain that hosting is part of their fees. They don’t like working with other hosts, so if you want a site designed by them, you must have it hosted through them. What a line of bull. A shame that over 20 authors have bought into it.

Please note: Professional Web designers can work with any type of hosting; that’s what Web designers do. They may recommend one that works better; always check to see if they have vested interests in their recommendations.

In my own small experience, I’ve worked with four different hosting companies. Every one has their quirks, but I’m not so dense as to be unable to figure them out (although I might complain). And I don’t consider myself a professional Web designer.

— Speaking of Web designers and the like, if you’re into search engine optimization, you might enjoy these cartoons (big geek alert). Or if you’re more of a Linux person, you might enjoy the Linux car! (Yes, I found these things funny. Maybe not knee-slappers, but funny.)

— The movie Borat seems to have stirred up the entire country. Thrown amongst the gleeful finger-pointing and lawsuits are accusations of racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

A number of people have commented on the frat boy who wished America still allowed slavery. Yet not one of the many articles I’ve read mentioned his buddy’s remark about the way he treats the girls he sleeps with. To me, this was more disturbing because it was real and it was happening. I’m not so naive to believe that he’s the only college-age boy with these thoughts. And no one has batted an eyelash. Is it because he’s just “being a boy”? Or is it because deep down, everyone thinks that a girl willing to have sex with him, or any boy, deserves shabby treatment (and probably a disease too)?

Almost no one in the movie has made a comment that hasn’t been speculated and analyzed to death. Except this boy. This is far more revealing than his attitude. The double-standard is alive and well.

— In stark contrast to the frat boy’s attitude are the beautiful pictures of Boris Vallejo.

My lover had ordered a book of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell paintings. Like most men, he likes Boris Vallejo art. Like most art students, I’d always found his work cheesy and the amount of exposed flesh made me uncomfortable.

The book came in the mail yesterday and I flipped through it. Then sat down and looked at every page. I was amazed. What jumped off the pages weren’t the unrealistically muscled bodies, but the attitude. No matter what the situation, Woman is the undisputed focus of every painting. And in every painting she dominates the situation. There isn’t a damsel in distress to be found. The only time she shares the power is with another woman (sorry boys, no overt lesbian scenes). I also liked the fact that every picture seems to have an untold story.

This celebration of the power of femininity and the sensuality of the female form blew me away. I’d never seen these things in his art before, but then, I’d never really looked at it. These women are idealized, but not in the typical porn-star way. These are women who rarely wear shoes, have tummies, butts and teardrop breasts. Their thighs are usually muscular enough to break necks. Even the softer models dominate through their grace and mystery. The few men that appear with them are accessories, much like the bits of clothing that sort of cover the women.

It’s obvious that Vallejo paints strong women. What’s not so obvious is he does so because he is not afraid of them. Although this wasn’t mentioned in the book, my guess is that he doesn’t feel he “captures” them so much as sets them free on his canvas (he works in oils). His talent at expressing his own complex emotions through his women was stunning to me. I haven’t “seen”  an artist so clearly through his own work in years.

It’s always a great thing to discover something new, especially when it’s been hidden in plain view. Maybe I just needed to see a collection of his work? Or maybe I needed a few more years to appreciate it. Either way, I’m very glad that I got the chance to see these pictures and change my opinion about the man’s work.

— Once again, I’ve failed the NaNoWriMo contest. The goal is to write 50,000 fiction words in a month. I was going to just get 50,000 words further into my second book, but that didn’ happen (yes, it has been started; no, I’m not that far). This is the third year I’ve tried the contest and the third year of failure.

The first year I got about 15,000 words on a fiction story. Last year I reworked my book’s manuscript (technically not writing 50,000 new words). This year — nothing.

It’s a great idea and one that I’d like to complete at some point in my life. Maybe next year.

— Although I was unable to find any Internet stuff to back up the claims (and I didn’t spend a lot of time looking), massages for women at New York salons are starting to involve happy endings (according to a bit in a women’s magazine).

The idea is funny and intriguing, although apparently it makes a lot of women uncomfortable. No mention was made of the sex of the massage therapists. I wonder–if they’re so talented they can give multiple, random women orgasms — then they should be holding educational clinics instead of giving massages.

6 thoughts on “bits and pieces 4

  1. Wow. English as a Second Language Grammar Perfection come true. I couldn’t believe my eyes but I do not fall for any of those 10 typical mistakes. Except that I never knew that i.e. should be directly followed by a coma. It isn’t in Russian…

    Love Vallejo. Discovered a book of his when I was 10 or something, and was enthranced ever since.There is truly a story to every picture, and I even started writing a fantasy novel based on a couple of them. I was 14 or something, never finished.

  2. Thais,

    I never paid attention to grammar in school (I was always reading a book instead) so I think I misssed a lot of very basic lessons. Strangely enough, they didn’t seem to teach grammar in college, at least, not in the English classes I took.

    Vallejo’s paintings were inspiring, both from a level of awe, and because they made me want to finish the story too. I’m curious which pictures made you start writing about them?


  3. Didn’t know about the comma either. Some of those mistakes are so common that we’re all getting confused after a while. One I never understood is: “I could care less”. I always say “couldn’t” myself, as it makes more sense, but was told I was wrong.

    A mistake I find particularly repellent is “are” for “our”, for some reason. Maybe because even the sound is different.

    And I’ll have to go back to my Borat DVD for those comments. I remember the drunkenness of the guy, and thinking he was more pathetic than offensive. Alcohol will make you say things – some we mean, some we don’t – and, yes, I’m aware that it’s a bit of a cop out. Remember Mel Gibson? Where there’s fire…

    But wherever you gather a few members of a certain group, and social constraints are lifted (alcohol use, emotional support needed, no one else is watching…) you see a lot of ugly comments on all other groups. Sometimes they’re just made to console not to state an absolute truth, I think.

    Lots of un-PC thoughts of all types lurk in all of us. We’ve just been socialized to appear enlightened in public and watch what we say. And a lot of groups are out for justice… for their own, not so much society at large, it seems to me, unless an alliance is in order to defeat another more powerful lobby.

    I remember hearing a black male rant about women once. His contention was that women had some nerve to ask for a fair share of the pie (such as equal salaries) when they hadn’t done anything to deserve to reap the fruits of the labor of men (who had built society as we know it). Ironic coming from any minority… and illuminating!

    That old French comedian Guy Bedos had a brutal skit that started something like, “Where’s the COMPASSION?! Where’s the TOLERANCE?! Where’s the UNDERSTANDING… FOR ME?!” 🙂

  4. Hobbyist,

    I think “couldn’t care less” is correct too. As in, “I could not possibly, in any way, care less.” Hmm…

    Who the hell mistakes “are” for “our”????

    The guy on Borat only says things that I’ve heard before, that men have said online before and that doubtless you’ve heard men say before. It’s nothing new at all, what still shocks me is that NO ONE paid attention to it. Everyone jumped to defend Jews, blacks, gays and whatever else in the movie. Women were not even noticed or commented on.

    The rant by the black guy you related is also something I’ve heard before (from white guys). Perhaps it never occurred to them that women might have enjoyed being given a chance to build society too or that perhaps women feel they are indeed building society NOW. (Not to mention the whole concept of “equal pay for equal work” but we won’t get into that.)

    Bedos’ skit sounds funny and familiar. I’m going to have to YouTube it.


  5. “Who the hell mistakes “are” for “our”????”
    Oh, they do! I see it in writing quite a lot and it never fails to make my skin crawl.

    Only thing that I can’t get over from Borat is the nude wrestling match in the hotel… :O
    And although Baron Cohen did need personal security (bit of trivia: Pam Anderson’s detail in the movie was actually HIS), some have remarked that what the movie showed, was actually how NICE Americans are. I realize it’s debatable, of course…

  6. Hobbyist — I’m still in shock over the “are/our” thing. Wow.

    The nude wrestling match is my favorite part of the whole movie!!! I literally hurt myself the first time I saw it. I was CRYING. It was great.

    It is true, the movie showed how tolerant Americans try to be with a guest in their country. If you’ve seen a couple of the outtakes on the DVD, you’ll really see that come out. The guy in the grocery store with the cheese section and the Christian woman with the puppies who defended Jews as “God’s Children.”


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