Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sociopathy 101

I wish I had the courage of a Velvet to just lay it right out there and tell you what this picture means. I did confess it to a few people, but trust me, it was not me on my best behavior, and to waylay the obvious, "No, it was not me caving and eating junk food."

At the start of the New Year, I developed problems in both eyes. Minor problems that could have been dealt with, but when one eye started bleeding; "had" to be dealt with. I got through two weeks of that. Everything's fine. Just had my eyes reexamined this week, and the whole incident did not alter my vision. Clean bill. Then a few weeks back, at 3 a.m. and perfectly sober, but extremely tired, I fell on my stairs in my house when I went down to get a bottle of water. In twisting to break my fall, my ribs took the full impact of stair treads. I didn't think I had broke them, but when the pain increased, a doctor's visit and an x-ray revealed, "Hello. Broken rib." So I've been painfully recovering from that, and then this past weekend, the cold from hell that everyone's Uncle Tom, Dick and Harriet (we don't talk about him much) has finally landed on my doorstep. I shut down my blogging mode and went into retreat. Coughing and hacking hooey and rib equals weariness and ouch. A lot of ouch.

Yesterday I went out to do my advance work on a cocktail of the week (probably up by tomorrow,) and stopped by a market to buy exactly two things: Water. Tissue. I got into the express lane and waited and waited and waited. Twenty minutes. Three people in front of me. Sidecars and sickness make you do strange things.

I glanced over and saw this Enquirer in the stand by the register, and I thought about Britney Spears and how she is out there daily doing things that scream "Look at me." The crotch shots, the torn fishnet pole dances, the wreckless driving. The reported drug abuse. Ignoring her lobster burger while out to dinner with Pa, but making repeated trips to the bathroom. The reported child neglect and abuse. KFed wants her to see them. You take them. No, YOU take them. Studying the cover story and the raking over of "Kirstie's packaging on MORE pounds," I thought, "If Britney truly wanted to get the media squawking and on full blown out hysteria? She should get really, really, really fat." They may forgive her the weaknesses cited earlier, but getting fat? The last cultural taboo.

....and "no," the pastry shot has nothing to do with Kirstie's eating issues or Britney's road kill of a life. As I said, Sociopathy 101.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

February 15, 2008
Jade Roses

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

After taking a nasty fall, then working through the pain for weeks thinking, "I'm okay," I finally crawled to the doctor and x-rays to learn I have a fractured rib. No blogging this week while I walk around going "ouch" with each step, but I am trying to stick with writing, despite these little setbacks.

A friend this morning, knowing of my injury, wrote me saying, "Cocktails to the rescue: "the Ouchie", "the rib-ow!", "the fractious fracture". I wrote her back saying how boring pain is. You become completely absorbed in it, there's nothing really to say about it other than how it demands much and doesn't give you anything back but it's needs...much like a bad relationship.

I did get my Valentine cards out to people, and I've already received a few. Other than that, I'll have to put this holiday on ice:

Monday, February 04, 2008

Cocktail Of The Week:
Year Of The Rat(fink)

This past weekend was the start of Chinese New Year, and it’s the Year of the Rat. Washington always has a parade in Chinatown along the H Street corridor, with dragons and firecrackers and wushu, “oh mei!” My favorite childhood memory of Chinatown is when my parents took me to the opening of a new restaurant one snowy February night, meeting the then Police Chief’s wife who was boozily downing a standing row of martinis after which she proceeded to backslide politically and literally down the steep stairwell. Welcome to the wonderful world of grown-ups, kid.

Every year, the U.S. Postal Service does a Chinese New Year Stamp. This year, instead of showing a rat or mouse, they are using red lanterns; red being a very lucky color on such occasions. I'll use these on all of my bills.

Traditional Rat Attributes/Associations

Zodiac Location: First in the Chinese Zodiac
Ruling hours: 11p.m.-1a.m. (Heck. Sinatra and his Rat Pack stayed up later than that.)
Direction: North
Season and Month: Winter, December
Chinese Lunar Month For The Rat: December 7 to January 5

Gemstone: Garnet

Actor: Jimmy Cagney (I just threw that in here to see if anyone's paying attention.)

Colors: Black, red, white
Lucky Number: 11
Roughly equivalent western sign: Sagittarius

Polarity: Yin

Element: Water
Food: Pork, peas, cabbage
Positive Traits: Meticulous, intelligent, shrewd, compassionate, charismatic, charming, ambitious, practical, industrious, honest, eloquent, versatile, familial, creative, hard-working, neat, organized.

Negative Traits: Controlling, obstinate, back-stabbing, resentful, lacks-a-sense-of-humor, manipulative, cruel, vengeful, power-driven, critical, possessive, stingy, bossy, fickle, defensive, quarrlesome, dishonest .

If I go to hell for this piece, I'm set

"Being the first sign of the Chinese zodiacs, rats are leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rats are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power. They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily. A rat's natural charm and sharp demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone, but rats are usually highly exclusive and selective when choosing friends and so often have only a few very close friends whom they trust. " (Thanks, Wiki.)

If I had been in Chinatown, I would have gone to the parade, but I opted for the gym and Maxim’s market to get some joss and good juju going for the New Year. The store was packed, everyone buying up the traditional foods for New Year's: long noodles for longevity, steamed buns, and there was a lady doing a food demonstration with her fry pan and about six different types of meat. Since it was all in Chinese, I took a gamble and speared a bit of something which turned out to be a bacon coated in brown sugar. Bacon from what, I don't know. I was thinking "chestnut soup pureed with a crumble of this stuff on top." Oddly enough, later in the day I was talking to a friend who had done up some food for a Super Bowl party. ("Oh yeah. How'd that go? Who won?") He had made a sugared bacon "thing" using a portion of a recipe I had given him some time back, then adding his own twist to it.

Persons born within these date ranges can be said to have been born in the "year of the Rat," while also bearing the following elemental sign:

• 31 January 1900 - 18 February 1901: Metal Rat
• 18 February 1912 - 5 February 1913: Water Rat
• 5 February 1924 - 24 January 1925: Wood Rat
• 24 January 1936 - 10 February 1937: Fire Rat
• 10 February 1948 - 28 January 1949: Earth Rat
• 28 January 1960 - 14 February 1961: Metal Rat
• 15 February 1972 - 2 February 1973: Water Rat
• 2 February 1984 - 19 February 1985: Wood Rat
• 19 February 1996 - 6 February 1997: Fire Rat
• 7 February 2008 - 25 January 2009: Earth Rat
• 25 January 2020 - 11 February 2021: Metal Rat
• 11 February 2032 - 30 January 2033: Water Rat
• 30 January 2044 - 16 February 2045: Wood Rat
• 15 February 2056 - 3 February 2057: Fire Rat
• 3 February 2068 - 22 January 2069: Earth Rat
• 22 January 2080 - 8 February 2081: Metal Rat
• 7 February 2092 - 26 January 2093: Water Rat

Asians kids around town love to soup up their rides, and I usually know if I see a tricked out Honda or Toyota, invariably the car will have Chinese characters along the side, undercarriage lights, a big motor that’s being gunned at the stop light and some punked out Asian kid with Brain Failure blasting out "American Dreamer." For a while (and maybe still) the kids would hang out in the parking lots up along Rockville Pike to show off their cars and pick up the Cheng Du. I had read in the newspaper that the cops were trying to break that practice up, fearing some type of gang behavior out of it. Maybe. But teens have been hanging out in parking lots, showing off their cars, since cars existed.

From primitive paint jobs of the 1920’s on Model-T’s proclaiming “23 Skiddoo,” and “Oh U Kid,” to the fifties flames of the James Dean set and then the sixties with Mr. Custom Chop Shop himself, Big Daddy Roth, the creator of the Rat Fink. Big Daddy died a few years back, but he is still remembered for his innovative work in car creations and his cartoon illustrations. I often think of him as a very early graffiti artist in his use of swooping lines and air brush styles.

To quote the King of the Rat Pack himself, “I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.” So I hear ya, Frank, and awwwwaaay we go (Gleason):

The Year of The Rat(fink) Cocktail:

1 ½ ounces Dark Jamaican Rum
1 teaspoon Triple Sec
1 teaspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 teaspoon Grenadine Syrup

Shake and pour into a chilled highball glass. Cheese nibbly things on the side are optional. Torch up your joss sticks, paper and candles and have a ring-a-ding time celebrating the New Year.

By the way....have you ever had Chinese liquor? Not beer. The hard stuff. Gasoline. It tastes like gasoline. One swallow and you could join the circus and be blowing fire like a sideshow act…or join a parade and yell out gung hay fat choy!, but if you do it from behind the wheel of your cherry ride with the blue undercarriage lights, you will probably get pulled over, so stick to restaurants and fall down stairs respectably like the grown-ups do.

Confucius say, "Give frat boy red cup, he play beer pong."

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Saturday, February 02, 2008


Often, the nature of your week compels you to write about something. Just like in The Exorcist, “It is Christ who compels you!” In this case, it’s Phil of Playaz Ball and Cuff of Countersignature. “Cube. We compel you to write about virtual reality and whack job friends.”

Earlier in the week, I had been swapping emails with Phil about this and that, and we got on the topic of chat rooms past and the odd behaviors that can form with online relationships, and also those people who had tried for years to get me to join them in playing Second Life or World of Warcraft. I knew I’d be good. I had the chops, but why would I? I told one man obsessed with Warcraft, “I am not afraid of the game. I just don’t want to be a goth angel with purple powers,” or some such nonsense. Then last night, Cuff of Countersignature wrote of similar things as well as Dubai’s efforts to create a playground community called “Falcon City of Wonders”. I have been following Dubai’s evolution myself, and there was a wonderful article not that far back, in Vanity Fair magazine (June, 2006,) written by Nick Tosches, on the subject.

I commented on Cuff’s page last night, in typical lengthy Cube fashion; ( i.e. a chapter,) and realized, “After two discussions this week about this woman, it is finally time to write this story.” In a nutshell, this is what I told Cuff: ~~

""Well written, as ever. It's interesting you are tackling this subject, because I was talking to friends this past week about others I knew who had gotten heavily into Warcraft and SIMS and Second Life. They all wanted me to join them in their little alter worlds, telling me I'd be "great," but I've never had the slightest interest to veer off in that direction.

I'll tell you a funny story I told Phil of Playaz Ball...and no, Phil doesn't play those games. I knew a women who was part of our social set, yet in truth a very lonely little soul with not much of a social life. She discovered SIMS and went off the deep end; even to the point of cutting off her real life social ties and communications to come home from work at night and play this game.

Then things got very strange. She created this "house," in her SIMS world (she had multiple houses,) but this one was all of us...her real life friends, and she had us doing things we didn't do in real life (in terms of occupation). She more or less made the figures look like us, only more faboo, but same coloring, etc. But Cuff? Pause here. She got into controlling us. She would send out emails to our group (and trust me, we flipped) with captured screens of what was going on in her little world. She gave us fake pets, she had certain people engaging in sexual acts. One character hit a glitch and froze: she couldn't manipulate it, and rather than delete it out (as non-functioning), she feared losing the entire level of the game, she so left the jittering figure there, but constantly referring back to it, feeling thwarted by it. You still with me? It got worse. When we discovered this game of hers going on, and she stupidly spoke quite openly of it to our open-mouthed horror, I told her immediately I did not want a character created of me at all. She did it anyway. Then I insisted she have my character commit suicide. She refused to do that either because "I don't know what will happen." I persisted, and she finally killed "SIMS me" off.

Since I've never played the game, I don't know the command, but my character drowned in the group home swimming pool, while she had another character (a real life friend) sitting next to the pool watching me drown. He was so angered that she had his character just idly watching me die--as if he would ever do such a thing in real life. She also did odd things like have SIMS Paco dog peeing on his leg. As I said, it got very weird.

Here's the best part, if you haven't snorted cocoa out of your nose yet, it gets better. She killed me off, and SIMS created a little tombstone behind the group house. She didn't create it. It just popped up. That creeped her out too. But the best? A while later, she was playing her sick little game, and I reappeared: a blue ghost. And when she was relaying all of this to our group? And not knowing how mentally unstable she sounded? She expressed frustration at me because she couldn't control me as a ghost. I came and went at random and without player control. She hated my ghost.

I was talking to the leg pee guy last night about this; telling him I had told Phil, and we were wishing we had saved some of those screens from her emails, so I could show you Heather frozen in the back yard all jittering and not able to follow her commands, and me popping up out of my little R.I.P. marker and haunting people.



HA ""

After I wrote this, Mr. Leg Pee himself signed on, and I asked his permission to talk to him in instant message as an interview, going back over the above, and having him add his thoughts. He readily agreed. We will call the dog lover “TM.”

Cube: TM. Welcome to Cube's blog. Glad to see you.
TM: : Thank you, Cube, for the invitation.
Cube: I had you read what Cuff wrote on his blog, and my response to it. Let's talk about this a little further.
TM: I'm good with that.
Cube: I distinctly remember Bunny pulling away from the group (her regular movie viewings, parties and social events) and her own early version of blogging, and she retreated talking from any of us, other than when she would appear online and talk solely about her SIMS worlds. Remember that?
TM: I certainly do. She became more distant from her real-life friends to become more involved with her SIMS characters. The only time she would return to the group was when she had news to tell us about her manipulations for our SIMS-selves
Cube: and she seemed to really relish the manipulation, didn't she?
TM: She did. It was as if she couldn't maintain any control over her real friends and resorted to SIMS for some god-like control. It became very disturbing.

Cube: How much do you remember (and I confess I remember very little, wanting to shut it out) about our SIMS careers? I know she had Heather walking dogs, I think Lau was a chef, and we had real life newlywed friends..and she put them in a bed with a big red heart headboard, where she would have them engaged in sex.
TM: I remember that we all had jobs of one sort or another...that we could get promoted in the household by holding particular jobs. One of our friends was a jewel thief, another may have been a band member. I recall that I worked as a housekeeper or some other domestic job. I also recall that in SIMS-world I was supposed to be romatically inclined to another friend and that I was supposed to have some opposition. That perturbed me since I was (and still am) contentedly married.
Cube: I think Drew was in the band. I may have been the jewel thief. In fact I was the thief.
I remember when Heather's character froze in the back yard, all jittery but non-moveable, she was so thwarted it drove her crazy. I told her repeatedly to just delete the character out, and she refused, because she feared losing the level she had achieved in the game. One thing she did, that was again...odd...was have SIMS pets, yet she owned no pets in real life, not ever to my knowledge. It started with "Snowball" the SIMS cat, and then she added a dog or two, but I noticed, very quickly, she would be fascinated with the actions of the cat or dog rather than SIMS us.
TM: She loved watching the antics of the pets. I believe at one time the dogs even enjoyed moments when they were in heat. She thrilled at that.
Cube: Laughing. You're right. I had forgotten that...or blocked it. The virgin watching SIMS sex. Shaking head.
TM: One thing about her SIMS world was that she could create a scale of like-ability to her characters which made the characters react to each other in different (and perhaps) in contentious ways. She knew that my household always has a cat or two or three and perhaps that's how I got the rating scale that I got which leads to how the dog was allowed to interact with my being peed on my leg many times. If she was thrilled at the doggy-sex she was GLEEFUL at the dog-peeing events.
Cube: I wrote on Cuff's blog how she had the dog pee on your leg, but you are right. It was multiple times, and she reported as you accurately said, "with glee," every time you got soiled. And yet, of all of our real life social group, you are the only pet owner with multiple pets and very understanding of the animals’ needs. And what was so bizarre? She never seemed to grasp how any of this sounded in the reporting.

Cube: I do remember discussing my SIMS career with her, and I chose "jewel thief," which she fought me on. It didn't fit into her master plan. "Maybe" I would get arrested. How could she control me from SIMS jail? I could only take a week or two of even existing on a SIMS playing field when I started demanding my SIMS self be killed off. I've never played the game, but I don't get the sense she could control "how" I died, only that I did. A delete key?
Cube: I do remember I drowned in the backyard swimming pool of our SIMS house, while you sat in a chair watching me go under. Do you remember that?
TM: The rest of our group was all left scratching our heads at the SIMS' news. When we wanted 'out' she would deny us that saying she was having too much fun with us. When we mocked her characters by inventing new options or career moves she would shut us out. I felt insulted that she would have me watch helplessly or uncaringly as you drowned in the swimming pool.
Cube: That's true. Once I had bolted she wasn't letting go of any of the rest of you. She would keep coming to the group with her latest SIMS installment, including captured photos of the screen to show us what we were doing, and if we poked fun or asked for anything else, she became quite indignant and would stop talking to real us.
TM: She didn't need us when she had SIMS-us.
Cube: Well, honey. I know you would never let me drown. But you have to admit, she had us doing all sorts of out of character things that suited her twisted needs. I remember when I died, a little gray tombstone finally appeared in the background, again...she didn't create it, it popped up a few days later..and she could never stand those uncontrolled events. But the best came when after weeks, I appeared out of a wall, or the pool, as a blue vapor ghost.
TM: True. She manipulated people to be doing things that were not normal behavior.

Cube: She could never control Cube as ghost, never say where I went, or when I showed up, and it drove her nuts. She hated me as a ghost, and she couldn't delete me because I was dead.
Cube: Any final thoughts on people who play these games?
TM: She didn't like it that the SIMS program had ideas of its own. She thought she was in control at all times. So when the Heather character froze on her and she couldn't do anything about it, it drove her nuts! Once you were dead, Cube, she lost control of you. You would pop up at different times where you were least expected. She eventually became comfortable with the idea of Cube-ghost and was amused at your showings.
Cube: One thing I want to go back to...and if I'm wrong correct me... In real life you are married, and we all know your wonderful she did...yet...and am I wrong in this? You didn't have a wife in her SIMS world?
TM: That is correct. She did not include my wife in her world. Again, she had me in situations that were quite uncomfortable because they included other friends who are dear to me. (I would add here: she had him having sex with all of our friends, then she would turn around and send out SIMS pictures of him doing it.)
Cube: And even though, in real life, you exist in a professional career capacity, she had you doing domestic work or something, didn't she? Groundskeeper or something?
TM: Yes. I believe I was a housekeeper. The only way that any of our characters could change was by earning points or something and getting promoted to a new career.
Cube: ...and you were busy clipping hedges and getting peed on so no points for YOU.

TM: AT one point I DO believe that I had a new job but I don't remember what that was.
Cube: She never focused on our careers and advancing us as much as she wanted to see people have sex or get great new outfits. It was like perverse Barbie. I remember her SIMS figure looked NOTHING like the reality her. What cons call a "tell."
TM: Yes, and when she included a new house of other friends she knew into the world it became even stranger
Cube: I guess in summation, and you can agree or disagree, we saw her pull away from her real life, decline invitations out, always citing she wanted to be with her SIMS people.
TM: Her beach friends.
Cube: Yes. I forgot. She created an entire city of gay people. Gay men. With her the controlling Queen. I don't even want to think about what was going on in that SIMS structure.
TM: She would be online and communicate with us but it became rare. Only to tell us of the newer antics through e-mail announcements.
Cube: I remember her telling me how much more fabulous "the boys" house was than our house; and I thought "but of course." TM? Thank you for the little walk down our twisted memory lane. Any final thoughts?
TM: Thank YOU, Cube. I'd like to say that I know many friends that game online and who have other items to "chew" on but I have never seen them withdraw into their own worlds and abandon their real friends and outside interests as she did. It was quite sad to see the withdrawal and downward slide.
Cube: Well. She's made new friends now over at Fly Ladies.

As an addendum, I should state that she did, indeed, remain withdrawn from her circle of existing friends, but in an effort to control her inner slob, she had joined an online group called The Fly Ladies. The entire purpose of this site is to keep people (mainly women) focused on keeping their domicile clean, and since she was a slob, she thought if she was told what to do in timed events and blasts of by the minute email, covering specific parts of her home, she would get it done.

She grew more and more heavily invested in this world and started going into Fly chat rooms where, if I understood her correctly, they would talk for 15 minutes, then for the next half hour go clean some specific thing, then come back and talk about what they had just cleaned. Ultimately, she joined their ranks and became a host for these chat rooms. It seemed to fit her needs of enforced cleanliness and control, and I have to admit we’ve joked over time about her barking out orders to women to go scrub their kitchen sinks, or go unclog the toilet or wipe down all glass surfaces.


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Silentium -- For Reya


Speak not, lie hidden, and conceal
the way you dream, the things you feel.
Deep in your spirit let them rise
akin to stars in crystal skies
that set before the night is blurred:
delight in them and speak no word.
How can a heart expression find?
How should another know your mind?
Will he discern what quickens you?
A thought once uttered is untrue.
Dimmed is the fountainhead when stirred:
drink at the source and speak no word.
Live in your inner self alone
within your soul a world has grown,
the magic of veiled thoughts that might
be blinded by the outer light,
drowned in the noise of day, unheard...
take in their song and speak no word

~~ Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev

This was done as part of the annual poetry listing in the blogging community, in support of Reya's creation at:

Tyutchev was born on December 5, 1803 on an estate 200 miles southwest of Moscow. He was educated at home until he was 17 and was nurtured in an atmosphere of piety, patriotism, and reverence for the throne that often characterized the Muscovite landed gentry of the period. Undoubtedly, this atmosphere also helped to shape Tyutchev's future Slavophile views. Under the tutelage of E. S. Raich, a minor poet of the time, Tyutchev gained a strong knowledge of the classics both European and Russian, and was encouraged to write verse.

Tyutchev's public literary career began when he was just 15 years old, when "The Nobleman" was read aloud at the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature, a group organized run by a professor of literature at the University of Moscow. In 1819, Tyutchev entered the University, where he studied for two years and received an advanced degree. Appointed to the Russian legation in Munich in 1822, he spent much of the next 22 years in the West. The influence of German Romanticism on Tyutchev's writing was great, and he was published in a variety of second-tier journals in this period. Then, in 1836, sixteen of his poems were published in Pushkin's journal The Contemporary .

Though Tyutchev had a great interest in international politics, and enjoyed socialized in the upper level political circles, he did not have a serious enough attitude toward his diplomatic post to launch a serious career. In 1839 he left his government post without permission so that he could marry his second wife, and was subsequently discharged from the civil service. When he returned to Russian and once again joined St. Petersburg society, he began a more serious literary career.

Though married twice, Tyutchev could not find spiritual satisfaction with either of his wives, and he was constantly involved in extramarital affairs. One of these proved to be the most significant event of Tyutchev's later life. Elena Aleksandrovna Denisieva was an impoverished young noblewoman, with whom Tyutchev had a long and intense affair for fourteen years. Denisieva became a secondary wife to the poet, bore him three children, nursed him through illness, and supported him during his frequent bouts of melancholia. The couple did not particularly hide their affair, and were stigmatized by society. Perhaps due to this burden, their affair was often a difficult one, and included many quarrels. Denisieva's health began to decline, and she eventually succumbed to tuberculosis in 1864. Shaken by his mistresses death, Tyutchev wrote little in the following years, and in 1872 a stroke left him paralyzed. Over the next year other strokes followed, and he died on June 27, 1873.

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