(see previous post for some exposition)
(for those of you who like to read)
For a change of pace, James and I directed our annual trip to California (which we took in March) to the southern end of the state. We’re diehard fans of the more northern reaches, so we weren’t sure what we’d find on the other end. Traffic aside (horrible, horrible traffic) (just fucking brutally, apocalyptically horrible), southern California ended up being quite nice.
On the flight out, we sat about five rows in front of this irritating, stereotypical Texan. She was from Sugar Land, wore multiple animal prints and high heels and had slapped on a thick coat of make up. The whole flight, she talked about Jesus. She was trying to convert the Indian woman she was sitting next to (who she probably thought was a terrorist). When the plane landed, she threw her hands in the air and praised the Lord. Effusively and loudly. I said something shitty in response, loud enough for her to hear, but I think the buzz from her diet pills probably drowned out anything I had to say.
We didn’t escape her once off the plane. She stood behind us in baggage claim, giving a blow-by-blow to whatever poor bastard was on his way to pick her up, most likely cursing the eHarmony gods and box wine for his fate. Once we had our bags, the woman was quickly forgotten. Ah, but when we were back at the airport six days later, guess who we saw clip-clopping her way toward our gate. Of all the days and all the flights… She was remarkably subdued compared to the flight out, which means things with eHarmony didn’t go so well, or she found a slightly different way to get spiritual while she was in California.
Our first stop after landing was to see my friend Bree in LA. We walked from her cute apartment to a place that only serves grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, which is a great idea. On the way there, we saw the Hollywood sign, a few crazy people (one was singing–rather well, in fact) (and, unlike San Francisco, I didn’t see anyone asking for money) and lots of blue skies and sunshine. We sat outside the restaurant at a table next to the sidewalk. The only “Hollywood” behavior I saw in my short time in LA was this: many of the people who walked by our table *looked.* Not like a passerby checking out the scenery. They looked like they wanted to make sure we weren’t somebody. They’d look at James (in his super funky sunglasses) and Bree (who’s a super cute actress) and me (and then there’s Maude), and they’d decide that we probably weren’t somebody important. With which I beg to differ. We’re just using different currencies.
From there, we drove east. We’ve all heard people bitch about the traffic in southern California, but until you’ve experienced it you really can’t quite grasp the situation. It took us three hours to go 60 miles. On the freeway. Everyone would be going 85, driving with just a few feet between their car and the next, and then suddenly it would all grind to a halt. Stop and go. For miles and miles. If some shit ever goes down out there and people try to evacuate, they’d be better off on foot or bicycle (or boat and ocean) because cars aren’t going anywhere.
We headed into the mountains. Then the desert. Then the beach. We did this over a period of days, but you could seriously do coast-mountains-desert-coast in one day if you wanted to. Now that’s variety.
Pictures are next.
- Each day, to and fro, my 13-mile commute features heavy traffic. Sometimes it’s stop and go, and other days it’s just slow going. What I never understand is why people tailgate during heavy traffic. We’re all not going anywhere fast, and riding my ass is not going to make me disappear or make the cars in front of me get out of the way. One dude in an SUV (of course) was all up on my back bumper this morning. I didn’t move. So he got on the bumper of a Toyota. Real close. So close, it looked like the cars were going through a haunted house together. The SUV didn’t want to be more than an arm’s reach from the Toyota so when the chainsaw killer popped up out of nowhere, SUV dude would be able to grab onto the Toyota’s jacket. Like a bitch.
- I watched a trailer for the new Superman movie last night. It made me think of the 1978 version, which I saw in the movie theater with my best friend (Renee) and grandfather (Papa). It was the first movie that gave me, uh, tingles, and I was in love with Christopher Reeve for a long time after that. Maybe that’s why I joined the newspaper staff in high school. Or maybe I was/am a dorknerd.
- In the midst of my semi-annual belongings purge, I ended up with about 20 books I was willing to let go. Rather than take the books to Half Price and have some snarling hipster roll his eyes at what I’ve brought and then offer me 50 cents/book, I thought I’d check out other options. Ends up, you can donate books to the Houston Public Library (put them in a box, label it “To the Friends of the Houston Public Library” and drop the box at any area public library). You can also donate your books to Better World Books (there are collection boxes all over town).
- During this purge, I finally tackled the file folders full of stuff from my brother Mason’s belongings and organized everything in a scrapbook (though I am NOT a scrapbooker) (just a scrapper). There were a number of short film scripts he’d written and the first 8 or 10 pages of what I think was intended to be a full-length screenplay. The start to the screenplay is great, and the story really grabbed me. I keep thinking about it and how we always talked about collaborating. And I wonder how he’d feel if I were to write the rest of that story, listing him as co-author.
- Finally, I’ll do a write-up of our recent trip to southern California in the next post. For now, here’s a sneak peek.
I’m not going to become one of those people. You know the type. They grab any opportunity to loudly proclaim they don’t watch television. “I haven’t owned a TV in YEARS,” they gush, their words slightly muffled by the fact that they’re fellating themselves. Not going to do that. But I do want to tell you about cutting the cord and killing our cable subscription a month ago. Because I think, much like killing the landline, it’s an inevitable and smart choice for a lot of people.
This decision was remarkably quick and easy. Our platinum level package on Uverse was expensive. We had all the movie channels, which we rarely watched, plus all kinds of on-demand programming. And everything in HD. You know the drill–you sign up at a greatly reduced rate, then six months later the rate is jacked up but you’re stuck in a contract for another six months so you can’t do anything about it and then three years go by and you’re used to paying the bill so it remains a given and almost unnoticed until suddenly you say, “We are wasting our money. Let’s not do that anymore.”
We aren’t totally without ocular entertainment now. We’ve just cut ourselves off from mindless, expensive choices. With our purchase of an Apple TV box ($99), we have access to movies and TV shows on Netflix and Hulu+ ($15/month total) and iTunes. But we have to make a conscious, intentional decision to watch something–there’s no channel surfing that “accidentally” lands on a fart-filled episode of Honey Boo Boo. Mindful television. And we’re watching random things we might never have with cable. Like Swashbuckler, for instance.
It’s a pirate movie made in the mid-70s starring my boyfriend Robert Shaw and a shirtless James Earl Jones. There’s a huge fight scene with a number of deaths–by sword, mostly–but not one drop of blood. People just fell to the ground, like in playtime, and you knew they were dead. So much better than the graphic violence of everything produced today. I mean, do we really need to believe that people are *actually* dying in order to enjoy what we’re watching? It’s all supposed to be make-believe. If someone falls to the ground after being “stabbed,” we get that, in the context of this show, they’re dead. Why do we have to see their head explode and pieces of their skull land on someone’s jacket? That’s just gross. And unnecessary.
I’m down to watching TV a handful of hours a week. And I do it with full attention instead of watching with half an eyeball while the other 1.5 eyes are looking at my computer screen. It’s refreshing to not celebrate or cultivate a short attention span and instead give my entire energy to working whatever part of the brain processes TV. It’s savoring one thing at a time instead of cramming as much stimulation as possible in at once.
Like, my brain has a little more room to stretch its legs and take a load off.
Today is my 43rd birthday. It’s Good Friday, and I’m off. Which means that I haven’t showered yet. Got up at the usual time (6:45), lingered over my coffee and enjoyed breakfast made by James. Received calls from my family and opened presents. Will likely take a nap with the dogs later today and then go out for Mexican food tonight. A great, laid back day after a non-laid back trip to southern California. Dig it.
I share this birthday with:
- Eric Idle (Monty Python, writer)
- John Tyler (10th US president)
- Sam Walton (Mr. Walmart)
- Earl Campbell (Houston Oiler, sausage maker)
- Amy Sedaris (awesomeness)
- Bernie Madoff (thief)
- Scott Wilson (one of my favorite people on The Walking Dead)
- John Major (British PM)
- Lucy Lawless (
- Billy Carter (brother to Jimmy, promoter of Billy Beer)
And yet people still think astrology is bullshit…
In closing, this.
First: my radio silence of late. I think this site is in transition. To what, I’m not sure. Rather than just let things dangle, eventually to wither and fall off, I’m going to redesign cryjack.com. Which, I hope, will make my goals for my blog a little more clear. It’s not that I don’t have things to tell you–I’m just not sure how I want to get my message across.
In the meantime, it’ll probably look a little jinky around here as I try different designs and move things around. I’ve been writing this blog since 2005 and am closing in on 900 posts–no small feat in the fickle world of blogging–and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I just need to regroup. Please bear with me.
On to the title of this post. This morning whilst skipping to my car to go to work (#sarcasm), I saw two dead birds in the driveway. They didn’t look like they were attacked by a cat or angry squirrel. They were pretty and the same sort of bird–brownish-gray with a yellow-tipped tail. Probably cedar waxwings. James was still home, so I called him out to see the carnage. He smartly identified the likely culprit. Not a cat. The basketball goal.
Closer inspection showed their little heads were slightly askew on their necks, and they were just a couple of feet from the base of the goal, inches from each other. They must not have seen the plexiglass backboard as they zipped around eating berries and singing their little bird song. It likely was instant, so I suppose in the cedar waxwing world there are shittier ways to go. Small consolation.
Finally, Home Depot. Do they have some kind of work-release partnership with a late-middle-age-inappropriate-white-guy farm? The last two times I’ve gone, I’ve had an awkward interaction with an employee. (I realize that awkward interactions stick to me like pollen on a black car, but still.) The Home Depot by our house is rarely busy, so you don’t spend much time wandering around before someone asks if they can help you.
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for furniture bumpers, only I didn’t know that’s what they’re called. When a guy asked if he could help me, I said, “I need those squishy things you put on the back of furniture.” He didn’t know what I was talking about. So I got more descriptive. “Like, to keep the bedframe from scraping the wall–I just painted it.” I didn’t say this in a scandalous way. There was no raised eyebrow or heh-heh to my delivery. You should have seen the raised eyebrow and heh-heh and oh-yeah coming off the guy, though. Super fucking awkward.
And then last night after work, I stopped in to get a new aerator for my bathroom faucet. The guy helping me said they were near the floor. “They want us to lay down on the floor to get ‘em.” Which he proceeded to do. Got down on his side, bent his elbow and propped his head on his hand, as if he were reading a romance novel on the beach. “Do you need a female or a male?” Really, all I needed was for him to get out of my way so I could pick up what I wanted. By squatting, not lying on the floor. When he’d handed me the item, I said thanks and quickly walked away, unsure if I was supposed to help him up. I passed another customer and wondered what he thought about the dude on the floor.
James says that no one offers to help him when he’s wandering around Home Depot. I responded with one word: tits.
This is a video my brother Mason made. It’s a spoof of Survivorman, a show about a guy named Les getting dropped in the middle of nowhere with nothing but camera equipment. No food, water or shelter. And he had to survive for a week, usually by eating bugs, drinking questionable water and sleeping in less than ideal conditions.
Mason, ever one to poke fun at the hypocrisies of modern life (hence his online handle Hypocridiot), made Survivordude in response. Instead of being dropped in the middle of nowhere, he was dumped in his living room with nothing but a beer, a remote control and his camera. Watch him make the trek to the kitchen in search of something to eat… See him try to get a good night’s rest while the asshole dog next door keeps barking…
Since his death, AT&T has given out the Mason Jackson Eternal Flame Award to a deserving employee. Here’s a bit of information about the award and last year’s winner. Mason’s former boss and good friend Sinda asked for a copy of one of his videos to show when they do the presentation this year. We both agreed that Survivordude was it. He’d be happy to know that it’s about to get screened for a whole bunch of people. And for you, if you click the link.
I hadn’t watched this video in a long time. I was afraid of it. It’s one thing to replay someone in your head or look at static images. It’s a different deal to see them in video, so vibrant and alive. And even though he’s doing a bit in this piece, it’s still so, so very Mason.
Here’s what happened when I pressed play: I didn’t burst into flames.
And it was so great to hear his voice again.
[I feel obligated to include Mason's disclaimer from when he posted the video: If you are a fan of Survivorman this should be pretty funny, otherwise you might want to do something else with the next 8 minutes of your life. First use of my wide-angle WD-H43 lens on the HV20. Unscripted (obviously), one-take, poor lighting. The additional weight/balance of the lens actually made the handheld parts much steadier.]