Categories
fiction

She has it all

Shultz
Are you alright?

Kiki
I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be.

Shultz
So, you’re not fine.

Kiki
Why do you let him talk to me like that?

Shultz
Ruby’s an asshole, pay no attention.

Kiki
Are you defending him? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not part of your elite boys’ club. I have delicate sensibilities. I have an education, and a career. I’m respected.

Shultz
Sweetie…

Kiki
Don’t “sweetie” me! I’m a grown woman.

Shultz
Kiki… Cassandra….

Kiki
He’s a racist bastard and he only spoke to me that way because of the colour of my skin. He acts as if he’s your wife.

Shultz
No. He respects you.

Kiki
You Americans are so ignorant. You only value something if it looks like what you’re accustomed to: white, bald and red necked.

Shultz
That’s not fair.

Kiki
Isn’t that why you proposed to me five times? To get away from daft, plastic women? This is what your advisors are used to.

Shultz
Honey, we have to go ….

Kiki
Don’t call me “honey”. Do not cut me off when I’m expressing my displeasure with your callous…

Shultz
…to dinner with our friends.

Kiki
If he shows his face, and greets me with that pompous smirk, I promise I’ll make a scene. I’ll vomit into my plate.

Shultz
Cassandra? I promise you…

Kiki
We have been married, legally, twice. This is our third reception dinner, and we have not finalised the premarital agreement.

Shultz
That’s because your entire firm is wrangling with my team over grammar and spelling.

Kiki
You can’t have spelling mistakes in a legal contract. It’ll void the terms. My firm love and respect me, and this is their way of making sure I don’t get shafted by your team of wankers!

Shultz
Shafted? Shafted. I’ll give you everything I have!!!

Kiki
Was I dreaming this entire relationship? I had the undeniable impression that what we had was real. The things we shared, I’ve never felt like this about anyone. Are you pretending to be in love with me?

Shultz
No! Cassandra, that’s below the belt.

Kiki
Personally, I find the term “coitus” highly inappropriate for a contract. You Americans have no sense of decorum. This is not humane. Dictating the terms of our lovemaking to officers of the court. How is that supposed to make me feel about sleeping with you?

Shultz
We’ll take that out.

Kiki
You’re laughing at me. I’m confused and scared. You’re not trying to reassure me. Instead, you’re having such fun.

Shultz
I am because that’s just business.

Kiki
Say that to me one more time, and I will …

Shultz
What? Not show up to dinner? Fine.

Kiki
Fine! And tell that deliciously hideous twag Mr. Rubinstein, Esquire, to go frag himself.

Shultz
Cassandra. Please let’s leave this to the lawyers and enjoy a night out with friends. Please? I’ll stay in if you want, and we can fight it out here for the rest of the night. But you and I know that you just want to rip my clothes off and have your way with me.

Kiki
You’re impossible.

Shultz
Alright. Can we please go out now, and later you can have your way with me?

Kiki
Am I laughing? Do you see a smile on my face?

Shultz
Alright.

Kiki
Rubinstein. Ball sack. Hill. Billy.

Shultz
I’m sorry.

Kiki
Racist twag. I’m a human rights lawyer, and a woman of colour. I can sue the small creatures crawling around in the crack of his arse, and Her Majesty’s Government would find in my favour.

Shultz
He’s fired. I’m sorry. Baby … Cassandra, I’m an asshole. An insensitive disconnected asshole. I don’t see things from your point of view. I should pay more attention. I’m sorry, and he’s gone.

Kiki
I am so annoyed with you right now.

Shultz
I know, but you love me, right? I love you.

Kiki
Don’t even start with that.

Shultz
Can I give you a kiss? Make up?

Kiki
Go away.

Categories
entrepreneurs news

In defence of “dressing”

mark-zuckerberg.jpg
Mark Zuckerberg. Courtesy: Getty Images

That awful person, CEO and Grim Reaper of Privacy, whose name I will not inscribe (or link to) on this sacred space, has gone super-nomcore. Given his net worth, it’s hard to imagine that people will dismiss his utterances as tarry horsefeathers. Someone quoted him as saying he wears the same t-shirt every day because dressing up is “silly.” I wasn’t sure if he meant that the rest of us are silly or just himself.

I’m sceptical about the awful person’s “I only wear t-shirts”proclamation. Sean Parker, the former CEO of that cursed enterprise, is super well-groomed. He probably consults with a stylist. You sometimes need to take advice from people who have a better sense of a thing that is intimidating to you.

Now to be fair, part of me understands the message he is trying to convey. If you have to be “on” 24/7, you try not to vary your look too much. When she was editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, Carine Roitfeld saved time by wearing no foundation or lipstick, messy hair and tons of eyeliner. Her successor, Emmanuelle Alt, has been photographed on numerous occasions in the same black leather or denim trousers. Karl Lagerfeld wears only black and white.

Uniforms are an important armour for corporate battle, but surely a sacrificial offering must be made to the fashion gods? Perhaps he could build a clothing factory in China and employ one hundred people. Offer them a livelihood. It’s an effective public relations strategy because it incorporates money and political heft while promoting international relationships and community service. Such a gesture might acknowledge that the rest of us have an innate and unquenchable desire to express ourselves through silk, leather and lace.

Categories
about me

Tea time, at desk

Tea time at the office.
Tea time at the office: Peppermint with a teaspoon of nectar.

I’m enjoying a fifteen minute minute break, and I decided to sneak in a bit of peppermint tea and stage a photo shoot for a tiny pot of nectar I got from France. That aubergine piece of satin is a dinner napkin. I found it at a charity bazaar in September, and I still don’t quite know what to do with it. I didn’t want to buy its companion (green) because I thought: who’s going to use the other one? Ha! I’m still asking that question. It has been tucked away in my treasure chest until today. Of course, a colleague complained about the shutter noise, but I think he was secretly envious that he was not the subject of all this attention. That box was a container for chocolate covered nuts, believe it or not. I was so intrigued by the Latin inscription on it (a description of moon phases), I decided to recycle it as a honey pot holder. It’s going to inspire me someday, I just know it.

Categories
art celebrity news women

Begging your pardon, but that’s not art

I do not believe Willard Foxton’s claim that he was largely unaware of Taylor Swift’s existence prior to the release of 1989. I live under a rock when it comes to pop music, but it’s difficult to not know who she is. She bakes sweet treats for fans, dresses up a lot and accessorises with a cat. While New Yorkers were sleeping, Swift and her public relations army invaded and occupied their city. She’s all over the Telegraph website and, as Mr Willard earns a salary writing for them, he cannot reasonably make the claim.

Here’s a true story. I’ve never listened to a single one of Swift’s songs, but I paid attention to her after I found out that she shops at ASOS. Paparazzi took photos of her in one of their name branded dresses and it was posted on the website. I declined to buy the same one even though it was only $20. I’m not into bird patterns.

Willard is annoyed that children are trying to listen to Swift’s new album for free. Apparently, he’s unaware that people who exist outside of his laptop subsist on limited budgets. These people have part time jobs, homework, and do their own cleaning. Sometimes they can only afford to eat cup noodles for dinner. They do not want to give Taylor Swift any part of their disposable income.

They should not. She is a public relations machine in overdrive. We all know how wealthy she is, down to the last cent. If you’re wealthy because of the kind consideration and generosity of others, it’s a good idea to show consideration for that. People who enter the spotlight tend to get brain damaged by the overwhelming attention. They make a conspicuous display of affluence and complain later when people don’t want to help them acquire more of it.

One of the reasons I support classical musicians is that they can’t make a living air-playing an instrument and they don’t get recognised because of their looks. Concerts cost a lot more than album downloads, but I put on nice frocks three or four times a year to show my appreciation for their talent and perseverance.

Willard Foxton’s taste is something strange. He says that Swiftpop is “art” and that illegal downloads are devaluing that art. The Telegraph has a certain prestige but if they keep paying clueless people like him to write articles, I’ll boycott it, too. After all, no news is good news.

Categories
celebrity men news

Hello, Man! This is how you hang on to your £20 million

David James, former England goalie and sports commentator is bankrupt for real. He seems like a well-spoken, compassionate and sensitive guy. He’s not, as he claims, a footie psychopath. He’s reportedly lost a lot more than Keith Gillespie, who has said he wasted upwards of £7 million, in ill-advised investment schemes and a compulsive gambling habit. I wish I’d met David James six years ago, before his financial difficulties started to overwhelm him. I would have told him to live a simple lifestyle; to stay away from hare-brained get rich quick “schemes”; have a no-handout policy; take some financial planning and accounting classes; and live well below his actual means.

A £3 million divorce would not contribute to bankruptcy if he had £20 million in tangible assets at the time of divorce. However, it is reported that James earned that much over a 25 year career in football. At an average of £800,000 a year, the settlement payout would cause problems if he is waiting for salary cheques. He would need to pay his ex wife in instalments over a few years.

The personal net worth of athletes and other people in the news is probably overestimated. The calculation of net worth is straightforward. Assets minus liabilities. The problem is that observers inflate or dream up the value of assets to hype the prominence of the people they’re profiling. In the news, net worth is estimated over a total period and attributed at the time of reporting. It can be misleading.

Most readers won’t factor in that after earnings, James has got to pay the top tax rates. In the UK it’s been 40 pc since 1990, going up to 50 pc from 2010 through the end of 2012 fiscal year. It’s now at 45 pc. After that, he pays rent, property tax and utilities, furniture, repairs, fixtures, food, drink, socks and shoes. James would hardly be broke with £400,000 to £480,000 a year after taxes. It’s up to thirteen times higher than the UK’s per capita income of £36,208. If he chose to live on a quarter of his after-tax earnings, a minimum of £100,000 a year, and put £300,000 in a savings account, over the course of 25 years, that would see him with £7,500,000 or a maximum of £9,000,000 in the bank plus interest. That is without putting the money in compound interest account, government bonds or a mutual fund. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

There’s pressure to live up to expectations when your wealth is overestimated. Ask James Stunt. In my opinion, he spends money that doesn’t belong to him. That borrowed fleet of luxury cars was a brilliant trick. It’s good advertisement for the dealers: They let him and his entourage drive the cars out of the shop and park them in front of photographers for an hour or so. How did photostalkers from Xposurephotos get so many plum shots of Stunt (clumsily) exiting the car (with a bottle of coloured water)? They were waiting for him. How did they know he would be there? You do the math.

Stunt is not named on any of the Forbes rich lists. The editors probably won’t let him pay to get on the list. If your net worth exceeds $999,999.999, you’ll appear on the Forbes website. They will find or make a category for you if necessary. Listings on digital shanty towns like “richest” and “richlist” that are meaningless. The owners and subscribers aren’t big dreamers who’ve worked hard to amass wealth. They spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to convince you they’re your betters, and that is wasteful.

Eventually, Mr Stunt will be caught doing something very naughty. It’s inevitable with these types of people. They forget it’s not their money. They become more grasping and obnoxious. Soon after that, people stop lending them things. Then hotel and restaurant bills go unpaid instead of comped. Lawyers are called in to demand payment. The papers get wind of it and that’s that.

The rich and famous might crave attention from the media, but the media is nourished by their lifestyles. Celebrity is a planet that journalists access through their privileged lists of contacts, which in turn are made visible by well-paid minions called publicists. It’s a hostile alien world that thrives on rare spirits, listed rankings and borrowed frocks.

In the end, it’s a lot of bother considering that when your pockets are dry, those same people report your disgrace in painstaking detail. Stay away from sycophants. Don’t spend your money for others to see. Enjoy your wealth by staying grounded.

Categories
celebrity fiction

They want to love you but they’re just too cynical

Storm
All I’m saying is, we need to earn our bonuses this year. Can you believe my brain belched that out after spilling the Kraken’s Mortlach on your iPad?

Marcus
Do you think he’ll notice?

Storm
Do you think he’ll care? I mean, our boss move will cement us as the witch doctors of public relations. Here, I think I spilled some on you.

Marcus
I don’t think it’s…

Krajeck
Girls? What’s up. .

Storm
We have a presentation for the Raven account that, if it meets your approval, we should jump on right now.

Krajeck
Speak.

Storm
Marcus wants to pitch first.

Marcus
Thank you, Storm. Raven has needed a new win after that VH1 documentary flopped.

Krajeck
Right. Everyone wants to out-Madonna Madonna. I told her not to do it, but she insisted on having a what?

Storm
An important part of her brand to archive in the history books.

Krajeck
I’ve never met someone so engrossed in their own myth. We kept the VH1 flop out of the press and edited it out of Wikipedia. What? Did you hear she’s shopping for a new publicist?

Marcus
No, Sir. And as for her tour, camera phones took images of empty seats at several concert venues. The rumours about her husband cheating had already come out. So, she might be listening to other people and not just us.

Krajeck
Hmmm. She’s a brand, or whatever. Everything is someone else’s fault. How are perfume sales?

Storm
We bought up this season’s batch right out of the factory in Macau at wholesale price. Her holding company should be reporting a large sales volume.

Krajeck
Where did you dump this batch?

Storm
We gave a bottle to every C list stylist and fashion blogger we could find. Then, we let Chinese customs confiscate the rest. We contacted department stores to tell them there’s a wait list for new product. The rest should pop up on eBay.

Krajeck
Marcus?

Marcus
Thank you. As I was saying. We need to orchestrate a win that has no threat of backfiring negatively. Storm and I came up with a plan to use the firm’s entertainment industry connections in India. We want to do what we’ll call an “unconventional album release.” No marketing, no leaks, no pre-release interviews. We say it’s the fans that made the venture successful.

Krajeck
We bought all of her 13.7 Twitter followers and she’s only tweeted eight times. How can we get an album released in stealth if she hasn’t tweeted since 2013?

Storm
We want to  lock down the largest call centre in Mumbai, JavaStar, and our army of Twitter sock puppets. First, we create a pre-order sales listing for the album. We do not actually upload the album. The call centre workers will use IP proxy software to make purchases from various locations, including the United States.

Krajeck
That’s super expensive. Can’t we buy the album at a huge discount? Like the Samsung deal?

Marcus
Yes, but her image is sustained on this aura of greatness and glory. She can’t maintain that aura by doing things in the conventional way. As for money, it doesn’t matter what the pre-order sales price is. It could be one cent.

Storm
We release the album for pre-order quietly tonight on iTunes at a basement price. JavaStar buys up as many copies as possible before five tomorrow morning, our time. When everyone wakes up, history has been made. Another top-selling album has been born. Number one is what people expect from Raven, but this time, we give them number one with a twist.

Krajeck
Her management team might go for that.

Storm
There are only three people in the world who know about this. We are standing here in this room.

Krajeck
I see your point but someone will notice the basement price tomorrow morning, and one screen grab later, it’s game over.

Marcus
Not if we restore the price to $13.59 by five in the morning. Since there is no album to download, customers will get error messages. It creates confusion, increases demand, and adds to the “we can’t download it fast enough” storyline. Also, we don’t sell individual songs. It’s the whole album at one go. That will generate complaints, which will also feed the story. If someone catches the low price, we pretend it was an iTunes malfunction, but it’ll probably get lost in the noise.

Storm
As I’ve said, we’re not going to need the actual album. We need the album cover art and permission to upload it for sale as a pre-order. Her people don’t ever need to know what we’re up to. She’ll stay with us.

Marcus
For our plan to be found out, someone would have to know the album’s being released tomorrow and then search for the name.

Krajeck
Apple won’t go for it.

Marcus
Actually, they have to go for it. Their contract does not stipulate any minimum or maximum price points. So, we can name any price we want, and change it when we want to. The price change affects her commission only. That’s for her record company to worry about.

Krajeck
How many sales are you aiming for?

Storm
We want to try and do two hundred thousand downloads in four hours. The call centre rents by the hour, and they’ve given us a “four hours for $50,000” deal. In terms of the way iTunes calculates “success” of a release, that many downloads in four hours would be phenomenal. We need a detailed protocol and everyone has to stick to it. It will push the album to number one. The iTunes report would be enough to distract everyone from the failed tour.

Krajeck
So, two hundred thousand downloads at one cent, each. We could use the retainer account to pay for it, but we still have to create one hundred thousand unique iTunes accounts. Factoring in the cost of each gift card, rental space for the call centre and your Twitter people. Great idea, but too much of a bother to execute.

Storm
Not necessarily. And that’s why no one will even think of it.

Krajeck
Walk me through it, one more time.

Marcus
Again, the call centre workers in Mumbai buy up as many of the albums as they can in a short space of time. At 4.55 our time, we tweet about the official release from Raven’s Twitter account. We let the bots retweet to other celebrity Twitter bot accounts to create visibility. At that point, we suspend the buying spree and restore the album pre-release price to the original $13.59. Then we wait for the press to bite.

Krajeck
Are we using the Romanians again?

Storm
Yes. They can make the tweets appear to be globally distributed. We could request that Twitter send those statistics around to the music blogs.

Krajeck
Can we afford three million retweets?

Marcus
Yes, we pay them per hundred thousand tweets anyway, so it’s like thirty units. Costs are minimal. The last time, they told me they install trojans on computers or game consoles as far away as Southeast Asia. So, that’s how I know the retweets are doable in our timeline. While the retweets are happening in Asia, people are at school or at work and won’t notice. When it’s time to start the retweeting in the US, people are at school or at work, well after our sales drive finished in Mumbai. We move backwards from the International Date Line, to mitigate the time discrepancies.

Krajeck
I see. So it looks like the release tweet was done at five in the morning to take advantage of the time lag and get people in Asia to buy her album first. Then, we Americans pick up on it on the same day and that will drive up sales. If this works to raise the legitimate sales and no-one twigs, we do a super download to drive up domestic sales at the end of the year.

Storm
That’s a great idea, since iTunes reports album sales numbers only.

Krajeck
Marcus, I want a complete, step by step technical explanation from your team in Mumbai so I can understand exactly how this stuff works. If something can go wrong, I need to see it beforehand.

Marcus
I’ll get on it right away.

Storm
Sir.

Categories
dining out gourmet

Drinking vicariously

New bottles, different angle
New bottles, different angle
Categories
men news women

Reeva, you were right. He’s got away with it.

Last weekend, the Telegraph published an article on the Oscar Pistorius verdict. The question was, “What if, instead, Reeva Steenkamp had shot Oscar Pistorius?” That is the wrong question. We should be asking “What if we’re too afraid to believe that a man at centre-stage would dare kill someone in front of us and brazenly demand that we let him get away with it?”

Narcissists are clever in a way we haven’t yet grasped. We have a tendency to ignore qualities that can’t be traded on the stock market, or packaged and mass-produced. Why aren’t we saying that Oscar Pistorius is a megalomaniac? Could it be we don’t want to call Oscar out for his evil ways because he’s physically challenged? We are undermining his capacity to develop into a mature adult if we fail do do so.

The worst thing you could do for someone with a God complex is give them a lot of disposable income, permission and unlimited access. I feel sorry for the journalists reporting the trial. Their stance at the outset, in 2013, was that Oscar’s an asshole. Near verdict time, they dialled back and said it is better for the justice system to decide Pistorius’ fate. To me, this is the collective hand washing of a situation that is their problem.

They nurtured this monster with conferences, interview questions, admiration, fantastic praise and high expectations. They’ve said, “Let’s sell him as the light of our generation. Let’s overlook his flaws as a person and focus on his achievements in sports.” It’s never that simple. Wasn’t it “sports” that afforded him a wealth of private and social engagements to enjoy? For example, he has access to SA’s most beautiful and visible personalities, and according to those who know him, he availed himself of their company as often as he pleased.

Oscar’s father left him as a boy. This does not mean he’s grown up to be a compassionate, humane man. He’s a pompous bastard who nearly shot a friend in the foot and then asked him to pretend it never happened. The shame he should have felt was most likely terror at the prospect of sleeping in a dirty jail cell surrounded by a cohort of his peers.

A few days ago, it was reported that cage fighter Nicolas Leaning had stabbed his pregnant ex girlfriend five times to kill her unborn child in order to prevent her doing a DNA test to confirm his paternity. I wish Reeva had been found pregnant because we would feel deep compassion for the unborn child. It would have been hard for Oscar to argue that he’d accidentally shot the mother of his unborn child. We would connect the dots fast. I do not believe her mother’s assertion that they hadn’t slept together. Is Oscar the kind of megalomaniac who would entertain the idea of a celibate coupling? If I had to venture a guess, I would say that she’s fulfilling her end of a deal: “If Oscar’s found not guilty of pre meditated murder, publicly deny they had a sexual relationship.”

How did he know the public would fall for his childish antics? It was as if we were waiting for him to sweat blood. (Symptoms of childish antics include perspiring, vomiting into a bucket, sobbing and squealing.) The child throws himself on the floor and thrashes around to distract us from what he’s actually done. You can’t discipline someone who’s already in extreme distress. “Calm down, Oscar,” they say. “Let’s attend to your needs.” No-one needs celebrity, much less a celebrity license to kill.

Ten months in jail don’t make sense. I feel bad for Reeva because she might have thought as she slipped away, “He’s going to get away with this.” Oscar’s had a full dress rehearsal on the biggest stage in the world. I do not want him to ever get out of jail. I’m scared he’ll kill another person. Goodness knows he’ll be better prepared for the fallout next time.

Categories
news women

Twenty one

Miley Cyrus in a Tom Ford bondage dress, was right on the money.

Miley’s choices of designer and outfit for the amfAR charity gala were right on the money. People like to tell Miley she’s dressing immodestly, and I’m not sure why. I’m happy for her. She has access to Tom Ford, a genius designer and he wanted her to show off her body.

Twenty-one is the best time to really experiment with your presence, image and style. You have no inhibitions and you’re not as self-conscious as you will be in ten years. Your capacity to predict the future is limited. At 21, you don’t have any perspective and very little useful life experience. Everything you’re going to do is risky. A “mistake” could very well be the blaze that’s needed to light up a trail for your peers and those coming up behind you. Sometimes, you have to be the first one out the gate.

I never did drugs, drank or smoke, but I did a lot of crazy, wild, bizarre, off-the-wall fashion and lifestyle related things at 21 that were not accepted at the time. I never factored into my choices what anyone thought of me, because it was never really important to the bottom line: graduate university and find a new, exciting path.

I appreciate Miley. She doesn’t live her life according to others’ expectations of her. You can only be mediocre if you do that. She’s working to find a definition of herself that she’s comfortable with, and I like that she’s ignoring everyone. She’s rich, talented, successful, confident and happy-go-lucky. She should absolutely treat her body as a canvas if she wants to.

Categories
fiction women

Thus, a good deed is punished

Have you ever tried to do something nice, only to have the recipient of your consideration slap you in the face? Well, it happens to many of us all the time. Instead of saying “Thanks”, people question your integrity. Why do good deeds get punished? ArsTechnica has a probable explanation.

Some people, I’d concluded, cannot receive help. I had written the following fictional dialogue for the 2014 Bartleby Snopes 6th Annual Dialogue Only  Writing Contest. However, I don’t think they’ll read it, so instead of submitting it for rejection, I buried it. But today, I’m publishing it here. Good luck to all the contestants of the Bartleby Snopes Contest. The title is “Thus, a good deed is punished.”

Thus, a good deed is punished

Quince:
It’s too dark and spooky. Why aren’t there any windows in here?

South:
What are you saying? You already know why there are no windows on the ship.

Harvey:
Even a kindergartener knows the effects of cosmic radiation on the human body.

Quince:
I’m so excited. I don’t know if I can do drones later.

Harvey:
No-one here comes with hands on experience. It’s all theoretical.

South:
It’s kind of far to have hands on experience, don’t you think?

Quince:
What do you mean, “far”? Oh, okay…right.

South:
Is she always this oblivious to context?

Harvey:
Hmmm. Did you review the schematics for the robots and drones we’ll be operating today?

Quince:
What’s that?

South:
Did you use any of your ten days in physio to reread the manuals for any of the machines you’ll be operating?

Quince:
No… I didn’t look at that.

Harvey:
Them. Look at “them.”

South:
She’s talking really fast and seems agitated. Perhaps a bit of shock after decompression?

Harvey:
Have you got full medical clearance to work? Do you have memory loss?

South:
You might be dehydrated. Have you been taking a lot of fluids?

Quince:
Why, why? What do fluids have to do with that? Are you a medical doctor?

Captain:
Peeps, listen up, we deploy five two-ton transformer catchment tanks to Titan at oh five hundred hours. Remember your simulation training? All of that is utter shagging bullocks once we’re in the atmosphere…

Quince:
What?! I’m not going into the atmosphere.

South:
“Right,” said Fred.

Captain:
…so, use. Your. Head. Miss Quince, I would like to know why you’re shouting when I’m three feet away from you.

Quince:
They said we were using robots to go into the atmosphere.

South:
Miss Quince might be dehydrated.

Captain:
Miss Quince, did you rehydrate? Dehydration can cause disorientation.

Quince:
Yes, yes, yes. I don’t have any of that.

Captain:
Did you roll your eyes at me just now? Did she roll her eyes at me, Harvey?

Harvey:
I…

Captain:
Even then, you cannot have forgotten your basic training. You received 300 hours of simulator training so, don’t make pointless…

Quince:
No, it wasn’t 300 hours.

Captain:
…statements. Excuse me? It says that in your mission documents.

Quince:
Wha-what mission documents?

Captain:
I am talking about your curriculum vitae!

South:
The training requirement is at least 300 hours, which is in your …. I give up.

Harvey:
It was in your contract.

South:
Did you read your contract? Do you even know where you are right now?

Quince:
I know, I know.

Captain:
Fine. What did you mean by “minimum training”?

Quince:
I did a twenty hour video game course at Omni Signum Theme Park, and the drone operation thingy.

South:
You put a theme park gaming marathon on your resume as qualification for a mission to Saturn? This is better than I thought.

Captain:
Harvey?

Harvey:
Miss Quince told me she would complete the minimum training requirement when I hired her, and Professor Wong Ken …

Captain:
Nobel Prize for Physics, Board of Trustees Member Professor Wong Ken?

Harvey:
He signed off on her training before the  mission. I mean, she told me she was about to start her training under his supervision, but after she signed her contract, Miss Quince refused to communicate with me.

Captain:
What was she doing for Professor Wong Ken?

Quince:
I was…

Captain:
I’m talking to Harvey, Miss.

Harvey:
He said she was building his course for particle physics. So, when I asked the Professor to confirm that she had completed her training, he said that she had. As you know, the mission preparation was done in four different countries, so the oversight is disjointed.

Captain:
Harvey, you should have done your job more thoroughly. Liesel!

Lt. Liesel:
Yes, Ma’am.

Captain:
We have a stowaway on board. She might have mad cow.

Quince:
I don’t have mad cow.

Captain:
You misled a prominent member of this organisation about your training and preparation. As its primary trustee, I am inclined to file criminal charges. When you return to Earth, you will give back your one million euro salary and then go to prison.

Quince:
I didn’t say I didn’t have minimum training.

Captain:
Three hundred hours of simulator training are what you agreed to when you signed a contract with us. Twenty hours of video games at a theme park is not enough for a mission like this. You travelled a billion miles from Earth without the proper training. You endanger your life and the life of every person on this vessel if you do not know what you’re doing.

South:
She just asked about windows.

Captain:
Exactly what I mean. You edited a textbook on physics and you don’t know that the EMR coming off those rings would fuse the cone cells in your retina?

Harvey:
By the time you finished taking pictures, you would be completely blind. By the time you uploaded them to your blog, you’d have Stage III brain cancer.

Captain:
As Miss Harvey has demonstrated, you’re not only irresponsible, but also irretractably dumb.

Quince:
And what are your qualifications?

South:
Oh, boy.

Captain:
You do realise, you insolent slagbag tartamundo, that I’m in charge of this operation? My brain had a child and from it you collected one million euros and a  prestigious assignment. You should already know my credentials, since I am your boss, you ignorant insufferable buttsore hag.

Harvey:
Ma’am? Please.

Captain:
Liesel, if she looks at me sideways, or attempts to speak again, eject her cremated remains from the cargo bay. To the left, you slagging shart gas.

Lt. Liesel:
Come with me, Miss.

Captain:
Did you hear what she just asked me, Harvey? You had one task, and that was to find me a replacement for Dr. Xi Bei. Can you believe she stood there asking me for my credentials after saying she committed fraud?

Harvey:
I accept full responsibility for this. I offered her the job because I felt sorry for her. She was n a student visa in Spain and everything she earned went home to pay bills. She was sleeping in a bunk bed in a youth hostel and living on breakfast cereal to save money.

Captain:
This is not a homeless shelter, Harvey.

South:
She has a custom-made sports car and a couture wardrobe.

Harvey:
I was of the firm opinion that we should have a representative from…

Captain:
Affirmative action does not apply to my six trillion euro space exploration project. This project is based in the Republic of France. We are the first humans, and the first all-woman crew to arrive, alive and well in the far reaches of our solar system. We have to work at a much higher standard than this. Also, why does someone with training in  physics know so little about … physics?

South:
Ma’am.

Harvey:
I apologise.

Captain:
Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. However, I do not want to have to say that we did not do our due diligence with crew selection.

Harvey:
I have a way to fix this.

Captain:
Speak.

Harvey:
We place her in a cryogenic coma, monitoring her vitals closely. I will adjust the registry so that she will not have awakened from her coma, effectively    indicating that she was immobilised for the entire trip.

South:
What about her blog? She is babbling about being a pioneer.

Harvey:
We can erase those entries right now. The system is on a delay and we have a lot of electromagnetic distortion this close to the rings, so they’re still buffering  in the cloud. We probably won’t start transmitting data back to Earth until we leave Saturn’s orbit fourteen days from now. She’ll need eighteen months of rehabilitation after re-entry. By the time she recovers, the press will be  uninterested in a person who slept through a fourteen year round trip to Saturn. Also,  we should change her status to junior research fellow, here to collect and analyse data, which she is already qualified to do. The breach of contract should be  a civil suit and not a criminal one.

Captain:
Not bad, Harvey. Go “write” your wrongs.

Harvey:
Ma’am.

Captain:
Barande!

Barande:
Yes, Ma’am.

Captain:
We’re delaying the deployment of catchment tanks for forty-eight hours. Our log will say that one of our junior research fellows did not wake up from stasis and we’re putting her in cryostasis to reduce organ damage. Then, inform all robot and drone operators that starting at oh five hundred, there will be a  sixteen hour simulator test covering every single stinking minging part on every barfing machine we have on this rig. An eight-hour organic chemistry practical exam will follow immediately after that. Anyone who loses consciousness or passes with less than one hundred percent of the total marks will be  literally frozen out of the mission. I want the best of the best on this deployment, so everyone better buck up.

Barande:
Yes, Ma’am.

Captain:
Welcome to Titan, bitches.

Categories
women

Love versus Ambition

Models pose for Caribbean Fashion Week 2008

A woman in love might be her own worst enemy. An ambitious woman in love can waste a perfectly good opportunity to be a role model for girls who need to see how a solid work ethic, brains and beauty operate in reality, away from cameras, mics, tea parties and candlelit baths. Instead of speaking in general terms, let me throw my cousin under the bus. She’s a twenty-something black woman who runs her own high fashion empire. She’s talented, educated, articulate, a wife and mother, a stunning beauty.

My cousin’s company, a fashion brand, has a profile online. My cousin and her husband have their heads Photoshopped on the heads of US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama. It seems that President Obama’s achievement has provided fuel for a new generation of swashbucklers whose only talents are piracy and barbaric posturing. “I can do it,” without necessarily doing that which one can do, or for that matter nominating what “that” is. That is not to denigrate President Obama’s achievement in any way. A Global Superpower is a behemoth to run. But in all fairness, the personality of a narcissistic male is a behemoth to wrangle.

The only thing more destructive than a narcissist with a vision is one with no singular focus. I endured an unfortunate series of grey-hair inducing conversations with one black male who was, simultaneously, a globetrotter; author-to-be; linguist; law student; the reincarnation of Alexander the Great; standup comic; hedonist; King; and movie director.

A Jamaican model, Jeneil McKenzie, poses on the runway for the 2013 Caribbean Fashion Week

A narcissistic black male is doubly problematic if he has low self-worth, his self-esteem constantly challenged by his employers, colleagues, neighbors or media programming. If he attempts to overcome the onslaught of negative identifiers by aspiring (borrowing actually spoken words) to “be like white people,” then you’re just in time for a colossal Mongolian cluster fuck. Only a woman in love, with her hormonally tweaked ganglions fluttering hither and thither, would be caught off guard.

My cousin’s a fashion designer whose clothes I want to wear and show off to my colleagues and friends. I had been following her work and media presence since her wedding tweets and have read everything written about her over the past three years. How do I buy all of her frocks? That’s how I got to her online profile. I live way across the planet from her, so I was expecting to see a gorgeous storefront with her creations displayed on it.

Instead, I was disappointed to see a disempowering profile with her husband’s name above hers as “head of business operations.” Excuse me? My cousin did all the work of creating her brand. In comes her husband with a massive load of brand-conscious ambition and no shame whatsoever in touting his experience as a “bank teller” and “pastor-in-training-at-college” as qualifications to be the head of a (future) global brand. He makes sure to remind everyone whose name is on the masthead by walking the runway after his wife’s fashion shows.

Based on the glowing reviews I’ve read in the press, my cousin’s frocks simply do not exist without her technical training (cutting, sewing, pattern making) and countless, tiring hours of hands-on, hard work. So, her name definitely goes on top. Not to the side, and certainly not below her husband’s.

I encourage people to go the extra mile to share their aspirations and promote their work. But needlessly self-aggrandizing profiles are a turnoff. This one was particularly exasperating to read. I was mortified that my cousin, a woman in her twenties, who should be the embodiment of this 21st Century, this age of black women “doing it” engaged in such retrogressive behavior. I asked her to please consider an urgent update to her business profile. I did not want to purchase frocks from her if this was not, in fact, a woman-owned business.

Before diagnosing yourself with self esteem, make sure you're not surrounded by assholes, quote by William Gibson

She defended herself thus: “I put [him] at the top not as a sign of inferiority on my part but because he’s a true leader and he has taken what was my passion and made it an empire. We’ve just been slow in updating the info.” I waited a month but now my cousin’s profile has been updated to highlight that she is a “failed pediatrician” who had flunked science and had no choice but to learn dressmaking at a trade school for people who flunked high school. Ouch. According to this version of the profile, her husband’s presence, as the visionary hero trained by top business coaches, is therefore justified. He swings over, rescues idiot damsel of a cousin (who forgets she’s already famous in her own right) lands smoothly, struts, and shakes his tush on her catwalk.

In her reply to me, I could read two distinct voices. Hers, saying that her husband isn’t using her business to thrust himself into the spotlight. His, humming in the background informing me that “[He] has been coached by [a] Top business coach for [the] #1 Business coaching firm in the world. He really has a strong vision for the … brand.” If her husband had his way, my cousin says, “I would be making appearances everywhere, as he believes I embody what our brand is about.” Right, right, right, right, right. So, by that logic he is walking the runway after her shows because he’s a doting husband who lets his wife have her way. There was no point continuing the conversation and I dropped it right then.

The problem is that my cousin says she does not like cameras, public appearances or the attention that comes with it. But her husband clearly does. At the moment, his plan for her business is for them to “present … to the public as Super team, Power couple.”

 

I am afraid that she might at some point in the future be forced out of her company if she doesn’t keep pace with his ambition for global domination or if he finds another ambitious designer-model-wife to take over as sidekick. There, I’ve said it. Have I watched one too many episodes of American Greed or Dateline?

My cousin might be lucky. At least she isn’t lost, scattered, and trying vainly to reach a point of clarity in her relationship with her husband. At least she acknowledges that she is the sidekick, an elegantly rendered footnote to the story she should be writing herself.

One thing is clear about my cousin’s relationship: she has already created the domain and has given her husband power and control.

Let’s hope that my cousin and any woman of color who plans to run her own business will learn before it is too late why the situation I’ve described is disempowering to all women. The Golden Horde invades, overpowers, takes by force and then leaves its targets humiliated and destroyed from within. Given that my cousin’s husband has a super-inflated ego and all the power in their relationship, it is not difficult to imagine a sad conclusion to this saga of love.

Categories
art

Tape is the new mud

A couple of days ago I went to one of my favourite stationery stores to look at masking tape. I found shelves stacked floor to ceiling over space three times the size of my apartment. Took a while, but I managed to choose only four tapes. After seeing some of the papier mache objets d’art on display, I decided to mask a cardboard potato chips container. This is my first taping project, and I think it’s going to be a “thing” like Louis Litt’s mudding.

The original labeling is very loud, and it was a red box, so I wrapped the container with bright red box tape. The edge of the cover was then taped over with one long sheet. The key is to tear, paste and press until you get the look you’re after. The rough edges of the torn tapes make up part of the look. I could have used a tape cutter, but I like the ripped look.

After taping up the container, I still had lots of tape left, and as it turns out, they all fit inside, so my objet is now decorating my desk at work. To finalise the project, I should paint three coats of varnish glue so the tape doesn’t peel off. But I like the matte look and I’ll keep it as is.

Red box tape to cover at first.
Red box tape to cover at first.
The cover is all done.
The cover is all done.
The barrel is covered in a layer of tape.
The barrel is covered in several layers of torn up tape.
Several layers, later. We're done.
Many many layers later. It’s all done and I have a new container for my washi tapes.
Signature
This box does not expire.