Sunday, March 29, 2009

I got what I paid for

It turns out ol' *whispers* Slider is a dud of a phone. Slider was on his deathbed these past couple of days and today I practically had to jumpstart it by shaking it and threatening to throw it into the toilet. All to no avail. There was no restarting the one-and-a-half-year-old phone. The ol' Nokia slide phone I got free after signing up for a 3-year contract is just plain old dead.

I had to beg the Telus guy (read: whine like bitch) to waive the $25 connection fee for my new $100 LG Venus (it was the cheapest one they had available), a slick little slide phone with a tiny touch screen. But in order for me to do that, I had to buy a $25 clip-on case. It was the best he could do (and unsmilingly, at that), but it was more than anyone else had offered me up to this point, so I went for it.

I really suppose I can't complain: I've been with Telus since it was Clearnet, (circa 1999). I bought my first phone with a $100 gift certificate for the Ryerson bookstore, one I won in a raffle. I subsequently upgraded, paying only $25 for a new handset, which was the old radiation king I used until I bought ol' Slider in June 2007.

$125 for 4 phones over ten years ain't bad, I suppose. I just hope my Venus doesn't decide it doesn't want to play anymore after six months....

Still...GRRRRRRR!!! I hate it when this happens!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Your epidermis is showing

A little over a month ago, I wrote about getting some new skin care products to help with my gently ageing face. A month later, I can't exactly attest to the effectiveness of this $72 combination of cleanser, toner and face cream.

On the one hand, these tiny amount seem to last and last. I don't need much cream to cover my skin as it spreads quite evenly, but part of me thinks it's because I'm subconsciously being stingy about the amount I use. At $35 for face cream, I'd have to make it last almost nine months when compared to my usual facial diet of Hazeline Snow.

My cheeks seem to be a little less dry, but I don't know if that's because the worst of winter is over. I'm still getting dry skin flare ups where my cheeks break out into almost rashy patches of itchiness, and some days this stuff BURNS (but not consistently, so what gives?) I don't have any allergies, so I'm assuming the flare ups are part of my feminine cycle or else a change in the weather.

Conclusion: I'm not paying $72 again for products that aren't making a significant difference.

What I will pay for is this: Udderly Smooth Udder Cream. I crap you not, I saw this in the pharmacy section of Loblaws and said to myself, "If it's good enough for cow udders, it's good enough for my hands!"

The instructions on the jar aren't even geared toward humans:

"Apply to udder after each milking, massaging into the skin. For teat cracks apply in sufficient quantity to fill crack and cover surrounding area."

If that's not a selling feature to appeal to those of us with teats, I don't know what could sell it.

At $6.69 for 12 oz., I figure at least I'm getting my money's worth pound for pound. And it beats paying $14 for the1.7 oz. of Bigelow chapped hands remedy I've been using, which helped with my super itchy chardonnay-making hands, but doesn't last since I reapply almost every hour.

Worst case scenario: I grow black and white spots and chew more before swallowing.

I'll keep you posted as my skin sloughs off for spring.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Political Correctness Can Be Offensive, Too

I wrote an article for the Toronto Romance Writers monthly newsletter--it got front page! It's also going to be syndicated to other RWA chapter newsletters, so this'll be interesting to see if it drives any traffic to dis here blog.

If you came to this blog via the link in my bio, comment and let me know!

Political Correctness Can Be Offensive, Too
by Vicki So


Seems like an innocuous enough word, one likely drilled into you when PC-ism was supposed to help navigate the treacherously booby-trapped labyrinth of race and language.

As a Canadian-born Chinese woman, I can personally say Asian was preferable to the old term Oriental, which elicited the old European colonial ideas of an exotic race from a land far removed from civilized Western society. Asian was better, certainly, than Asiatic, yellow, or Chinaman.

Then I recently came across a passage in a book in which a police detective referred to the rise of “Asian gangs.” It was a jarring thing to read, not because the language was offensive, but because what I perceived to be hypersensitivity to racial issues actually made the sentence more offensive because the context had not been taken into consideration.

Many arguments abound about the use of different racial terms, and I’m not pushing any hard and fast rules for when certain terms will be construed as offensive. But I hope to provoke some thought next time you come across this issue in your writing.

Asia is the largest continent on the planet. While there are some different schools of thought among geographers regarding the physical limits of Asia, the general consensus in terms of political boundaries include Turkey to the west, Russia to the north, Japan to the east and East Timor to the south. (See

That said, you wouldn’t likely refer to someone from Iraq, Yemen, Uzbekistan or Russia as Asian.

The colloquial use of the word Asian differs region to region as it encompasses different groups of people. According to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, “In Britain, Asian is used to refer to people who come from (or whose parents came from) the Indian subcontinent, while in North America it is used to refer to people from the Far East.” Have a look at the Wikipedia entry on Asian people and you’ll see it gets even more nitty-gritty, especially when it comes down to census reports. (

With so many variations on the term, using Asian as a descriptor can be tricky, especially if you’re coupling it with something that might give it a negative connotation. In the case above, being specific would have been preferable to using a broader brush. Context is key: after all, an educated police officer knows the difference between the Hong Kong Triads, the Japanese Yakuza, the Russian Mafia and the Tamil Tigers. And he wouldn’t likely call them “Caucasian gangs.”

You should also avoid absurdist ultra-PC-isms: Oriental Chicken Salad and Asian Chicken Salad are both acceptable, but I’m not convinced “Asian carpets,” “Asian Checkers” or “Asian Anime” will ever be accepted as the norm. And while you might waver at the use of Chinaman in your historical about San Francisco in the early 1900’s, remember that Asian wasn’t a term that was widely used until the 1990’s.

Simple rule: When it comes to race, context is key. Be specific when you’re not sure.

Vicki So is a PRO member of the RWA and a member of the Toronto Romance Writers. By day, she is a proofreader at a large romance publisher. By night, she writes fan fiction and romance novels. She owns no cats, dogs or horses, does not live on a farm, and prefers chips over chocolate. Her real-life hero is a big nerd, just like her, and that’s what keeps their spark alive. Follow her blog at

Break it down...

March 4 was national grammar day!

Taken the quiz to the left of the web page and see how well you're grammar are.

Because every day should be grammar day!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Which Science Fiction Author Are You?

I am:
Arthur C. Clarke
Well known for nonfiction science writing and for early promotion of the effort toward space travel, his fiction was often grand and visionary.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Interactivity Winner!

And the winner of the Dry Hands Reader Interactivity:

who wrote:
My hands are so dry, they could be used to make a Chardonnay.

You will be receiving your shiny icon in your in-box shortly!

Okay, so there were only two entries, but hey, now you know I will totally hand out prizes...with my dry hands. That could be used to make Chardonnay.

Congrats, Flocons!

Friday, March 20, 2009

TV Rundown

TV, from ends to middles to beginnings...


On the last episode of BSG:
It wasn't wasn't great, but it was what it was, and it was the end. I think there are a few gaping holes in the logic of how to settle an established civilization on prehistoric Earth...but it's sci-fi, so I maintain a fairly strong suspension of disbelief as to what one can and cannot do within the genre. Still, it was a fantastic two hours of TV, action packed, emotional, breathtaking in its scope, drawing to what I suppose can only be called a logical conclusion with as little deus ex machina as you can get with a show that features robots as gods...


1. Jumping Raptors from inside the launch tubes.

2. Ramming BSG into the Cylon colony. It was up there in my "favorite destroying iconic ships moments", right alongside crashing Enterprise NCC 1701-D in Generations.

3. A final conclusion to the opera house sequence.

4. Starbuck: "There must be some kind of way out of here..." John thinks this redeems the use of "All Along the Watchtower," but it still sticks me as a too-convenient plot device.

5. Starbuck pulling a "You're Welcome"...I just don't know what to make of this. But I'm kinda glad Lee's on his own. (And it makes Sam's little parting quip that much more poignant.)

I could go on and on, but overall, all I can say is that I'm sad to see the show go. As John has pointed out to me, it's taken seven to tell a four-season story. So they've really prolonged the pain/ecstasy. I look forward to Caprica.

Best thing ever: I did not know that Hot Dog was Adama's son! (No, this is not a real life, Edward James Olmos is father to Bodie Olmos. It's so weird that I never saw it before, but when you put the two side by side...)


On Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
Meh. As a whole, not impressive, but what this show does well is reveal aspects of each character's life in vignettes.


John's confrontation with Jessie was fairly intense, but it seems all the confrontations in the show are like this. Quiet, subtle, with that hint of violence trembling just beneath the surface. And that's pretty much every character in this show in a nutshell. Thomas Dekker (John) is still a fairly good actor for the part, but I'm hoping to see more development in all the leads.


On Dollhouse:
By far the most interesting and challenging episode to air yet....


...Not just because rape is always a hot-button topic, but because all the moral issues dancing around the show were made so clear in this single episode.

I've heard quite a few rants from fans complaining about how Joss is "trying to kill his fanbase" because Dollhouse is "not feminist" since it portrays the subjugation of women, but that's a ridiculous complaint since they seem to be viewing the show entirely out of context. Yes, the show is about taking power away from a group of people, but that's what's supposed to make us mad. And last night's episode was definitely hitting you over the head with a "YOU SHOULD BE MAD ABOUT THIS" sledgehammer.

Important to note is Paul/Helo's (I'm going to have a hard time calling him anything else) rise from hapless FBI agent being led around by his tail to hero. The story seems to be more about his quest than Echo's gentle rise to self-awareness. (And no, that does not mean the show is sexist because Paul is trying to rescue a supposed damsel in distress). How it all gets played out and how the twain shall meet is what will make the show fun.


1. Helo vs. Faith (er, I mean, Paul vs. Echo), Round 1--awesome battle, with Tamoh Penikett's MMA skills in clear evidence. Lots of drop kicks, body slams...Penikett is, like, 6'2.5", and Dushku is only about 5'5" yet somehow they manage to break even in this fight.

2. Penikett shirtless--nekkid tiemz are good anytiemz!

3. Sleeper agent neighbor--I KNEW it!

4. The chubby computer dude's assessment of Paul's fantasy, and his own tragic tale. Pure Joss Whedon writing at its tragicomedic best.

I look forward to more of this show. It beats watching Heroes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's for research. I swear.

My latest writing project features an MMA fighter as the hero who needs to get his Octagon prowess back before a championship match. So it gives me a good excuse to watch this. Not just because Georges Hummena-Hummena-Hummena Rush St. Pierre's in it, either. Besides, who can resist a little MMA, KOs, and T & A?

Best. KO. Ever.

Total KO, courtesy of

Friday, March 13, 2009

Conversations with the fiancé

(Exiting the TTC subway station:)

Me: Is that the bus?

John: No, just a garbage truck.

Me: We could totally get a ride, as long as we start our request with "Yo, home, to Bel Air!"

John: ...*thoughtful look*

Me: You're totally reciting the theme song to Fresh Prince in your head right now, aren't you?

John: As with the Lord's prayer, I think if someone got me started...

Me: (falls over laughing)

Reader interactivity!

My hands are SO dry...


(...I dunno. That's why I need you to fill in the blanks...)

Winner gets accolades and an Interactivity Icon--the Web equivalent of a Play Day ribbon!
Entries due midnight, Friday, March 20, 2009.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Not to Write

Best. Purple prose. Ever.

I don't think I have a favorite line...but "Your eyes are the sound of rain" ranks pretty high up on my list of OMGWTFHAHAHAHA lines.

The book is called Silk & Steel by Ron Miller, published by Ace Fantasy, 1992.

It is NOT a Harlequin novel.

Thanks to vandonovan at LiveJournal.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You used to be such a nice boy...

An open letter to Jake Gyllenhaal:

Dear Jake,

Dude, I think you're a great actor. Really. I even have a little soft spot for those soulful baby blues of yours, despite being a happily engaged woman. But man, you look REE-DONK-U-LOUS as the Prince of Persia. I mean, kudos to you for bulking up for the Prince of Persia role (which I won't rant about not going to someone who was actually, you know, Persian), but dude, greasy hair and unshaven face paired with your baby skin? You look like a hobo with Conan the Barbarian's body photoshopped on. Viggo Mortensen just barely got away with it. You shouldn't try.

I just hope you can hop and fight as gracefully as the gameplay does with all that extra muscle....

Friday, March 06, 2009

Obligatory What Happened in Vegas Post

Three nights and four days in Sin City and I only lost a net of $1. I think. I'm never sure about the math, so someone should help me out with this:

I lost $2 at the Bellagio slot machines.
I spent $1 at the airport casino slot machine and won a cash out of $2.05.
Does this mean I actually won 5 cents in total? I don't know how to count the dollar I spent to win the extra $1.05.

Anyhow, math nerdom aside....

Vegas is fun. A truly larger-than-life experience with resort/hotel/casinos and attractions to match. You just can't grasp it until you're standing on the strip, staring up at the blaring lights, or watching the famous Bellagio fountains. Really, the YouTube videos just don't do it justice, especially considering those jets of water can go 250 ft. up into the air.

That said, little I can say can be perfectly captured with words alone.

The most fascinating part about Vegas I discovered was that the streets were paved with boobies. People hand out flyers and coupons everywhere for "discreet" services from women who, according to the stacks of graphic business cards I collected for John, will provide "Totally Nude Full Service." I should have called to ask if any of these girls would fry bacon totally nude. That would totally be worth the $35 special.

If you're not a gambler, and you have no plans to kill and bury a hooker out in the desert, the hotels will be the main draw for you. Each themed casino/resort has its own distinctive character, and are world-famous for their brand. From the faux canals of the Venetian to the classic Greek style of Caesars Palace, you can spend a whole day just walking around the hotels. They're basically small cities--or as we kept saying, cruise ships times three. At the Bellagio where we stayed (highly recommended), there were 11 restaurants, a nightclub, a botanical garden, a conference center, a wedding chapel, an arcade, a mall-sized shopping boutique gallery, and a full-sized theatre, currently featuring Cirque du Soleil's O. Not to mention the 9-acre fountain out front. It took something like 15 minutes of walking just to get from the street to our room on the 26th floor. It's THAT big.

On the subject of shows, we went to see O, a fantastic water-themed performance featuring a lot of synchronized swimming, acrobatics, aerial manipulation and diving. In my opinion, it wasn't as good as Varekai in terms of story and variety, but what made this show special was the sheer scale of the thing. The depth of the pool onstage can be rapidly changed so that it alternates between Olympic-deep diveable to a perfectly dry, flat stage. Truly a feat of engineering. Too bad the clowns were so damned boring and annoying.

Of course, if one of the five mind-bending Cirque shows going on in Vegas isn't your cup of tea, Cher, Bette Midler and Wayne Newton are all currently mainstays on the strip. Wayne's probably the only one I'd want to see simply because, you know, he's like Grandpa--you should probably go to see him before he kicks the bucket so you don't regret it later.

Shopping wasn't that great for me in Vegas. Of course, I'm cheap, so you shouldn't listen to my opinion. But hey, if you can afford all the big boutique and designer brand names, then by all means, open your wallet and splurge. We got a $11 shuttle out to an outlet mall about 40 minutes away from the strip, but didn't end up buying much. Let's face it, 80% off a $15,000 Chanel dress still isn't a great deal.

Foodwise, most of the restaurants we went to were in the resorts, and the prices can be pretty up there. We had dinner at Michael Mina one night--the tasting menu was $115 US. The picture on the left is of the first course--a single scallop in some sauce. The food was very tasty, but I'm a girl of simply tastes and a fairly shallow wallet, and food has been my arch nemesis for as long as stomach troubles have been my mortal enemy and poo my quirky on-again off-again lover/hater. So while I enjoyed the experience and don't regret it, I'd have been just as happy eating from the $1 menu at the McDonald's down the Strip. Those with big appetites will prefer to eat at the buffets, which cost about $25 or so. I think there were slightly cheaper ones outside of the hotels, but who knows what the food quality was like.

Would I go back? Perhaps, if I had more money and more time to simply lounge by the poolside at the Bellagio. But if I really wanted to relax and do nothing, Vegas would not be the place to go.