le menu

James and I had a fun conversation about where we’d eat in Houston if we could magically be transported there. You’ll see the abbreviated list below, and it includes places that are no longer in business. Because why not. Yes, this is a bit of homesickness creeping in (hence the focus on comfort food). We don’t miss Texas yet, but we do miss a bunch of Texans. I hope you know who you are.

BREAKFAST

  • Pig Stand (RIP) home of the cowboy omelet, which cured every hangover it went up against – I wrote about my conflicted feelings when Pig Stand closed in this post
  • Shipley Donuts - we’ve had donuts only once since moving, at the most highly reviewed donut place in the area – didn’t even come close (in fact, we ended up throwing them away) – you can’t beat Shipley’s, except when they’re getting raided
  • Chilosos Taco House - the egg + Chappell Hill sausage breakfast taco is magic in a homestyle tortilla – they always screwed up at least part of our order, but all was forgiven after the first bite
  • Aunt Bea’s - I’ve never eaten at a restaurant that serves so much butter or hosts so many morbidly obese guests - read this about my first experience there (and the butter)
  • One’s a Meal (RIP) – anyone who ate at this restaurant likely remembers the very tall Greek waiter named John who worked there forever – you can find him at Avenue Grill, and he’ll probably remember you – he remembered James after not seeing him for years – randomly, here’s a Reddit conversation from a week ago about this very man
  • Tel-Wink Grill - the line gets so long for breakfast, it snakes its way through the restaurant (nothing like eating with a stranger’s ass mere inches from the edge of your plate) – the Houston Press weighs in

LUNCH

  • Stanton’s – though this place has been around for a while, I didn’t make it there until a few years ago – it would have been a contender for best burger in Houston during the burger journey - it reminds me of grocery/burger joints in the country
  • New Orleans Poboy (RIP) – here’s what I had to say about its closure in that fake advice column I used to write – still one of my favorite burgers of all time
  • Antone’s (before the family sold out) – if you had the privilege of eating an Antone’s back in the day, you would want to slap the fools who make the mushy bread, no chowchow version for sale today - Houstonia talks about the decline of the Houston poboy
  • James Coney Island (RIP the two-story location downtown on Main St) – I used to go to this location with my grandfather – always loved sitting at the old school desks amidst the white-, blue- and no-collar patrons – after lunch, we’d hit the tunnels and wander around, eventually capping off our experience at the 60th floor observation deck of Chase Tower, the tallest building in Houston
  • Liberty Kitchen – I used to go to the one in the Heights (in what was once a quickie mart) (Pepperidge Farm remembers), but I heard a rumor there’s a framed FIGHT STUPIDIZATION sticker on the wall at the fancier Liberty Kitchen on San Felipe

DINNER

  • Barbecue Inn – this place will always have my respect for telling Guy Fieri they weren’t interested in his greasy ass filming his TV show there – plus, the food’s delicious and there’s always a line, so they aren’t hurting for business – I had an awkward encounter in the bathroom there on my birthday eight years ago
  • Tia Maria – we moved through a number of TexMex haunts over years, and this was the most recent favorite for our regular Friday night nosh - that first sip of frozen margarita marked the end of the work week
  • Beaver’s - there’s something very “Houston” about Beaver’s – their delicious drinks inspired me to purchase a muddler
  • Spanish Village - we ate there when I was a kid, and I still remember the multi-colored chairs with straw seats and the Christmas lights that lined the dining room – luckily, not much has changed (except I became old enough to understand why the adults liked eating there–the margaritas will knock your ass out)
  • Dolce Vita - the only forced-valet restaurant on the list (you can still find parking in the surrounding neighborhood, so that’s okay) – I had some great meals there with some great people, and I credit Dolce Vita for introducing me to the concept that brussels sprouts can be delicious
  • Hickory Hollow – two words: hot tots

I think I gained 10 pounds writing this post. I hope at least one of you is inspired to check out some of the places that are still around or maybe revisit one of your old favorites.

And don’t worry about us. We might be a little homesick for our peeps, but we still have all of this to keep us company.

the top 5 reasons I hate lists

1. Lists are lazy writing. It takes effort to write something that flows forth from a central idea and has segues and transitions. It’s much easier to come up with a slideshow about “The Top Ten Reasons We Don’t Miss 80s’ Fashion” with a pithy sentence or two for each image and call it journalism.

2. Lists make for lazy reading. When you can just click-click-click through something, only stopping at the bright and shiny pieces, it’s the equivalent of eating candy for dinner. Candy’s dandy, but you need some vitamins, vegetables and protein up in this bitch. Also: liquor’s quicker.

3. Lists are taking over like a fungus. Weeklies like Houston Press and dailies like Houston Chronicle are turning into slideshow repositories sprinkled with a few news stories. And, in the case of the Chronicle, a third or more of a given story’s real estate is a photo or slideshow, with the written part of the story only taking up a few paragraphs. At this rate, news will soon be delivered in a series of images, like a child’s picture book.

4. Lists lack meaning. When you’re just getting little nuggets in list form, it’s likely you’re not getting a whole lot of substance. Granted, the less said about popped collars, Z Cavaricci and glacier glasses the better. But in the time it takes to fart out five listicles, a writer could instead write one story with a bit more substance. But they aren’t allowed to do that because… (see number 5).

5. Lists are all about page views. Page views are all about advertisers. Lists aren’t being created for you, the reader. They’re being created so you’ll click 10 or 20 times on the same “story,” which translates to 9 or 19 more page views than a traditional story would bring. This, in turn, makes it seem to advertisers that a site is getting a lot more traffic than it really is.

(This listicle took less than 20 minutes to write. Man, if I wrote one of these each day, I could really up my readership…)

gift suggestions for people you don’t like

I started putting together this gift guide to assist you with your Christmas shopping. Specifically for people you are a) mad at or b) don’t much care for. Alas, I neglected to get this out there during the holidays. Let’s remedy that now.

THE WINE RACK – You’re going to a game or concert, and you don’t want to pay $13 for a glass of shitty wine. With the Wine Rack, you can sneak in a bottle of the good stuff…in your rack. According to the product description, “Turn your A cup into double-Ds.” Not sure how you sneak a tube full of red wine out of your shirt and into your mouth without anyone noticing (or hearing the sucking), but that’s for your alcoholic gift recipient to figure out. What I do know is, this shit is classy.

HUTZLER 571 BANANA SLICER – The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer slices your banana into 18 (sort of) uniform pieces. Because, you know, it’s so difficult and time-consuming to cut a banana. Give this to the person in your life who’s constantly bitching (on Facebook and Twitter) about how busy they are. (Be sure to read a few of the customer reviews. Really. If you only click one link in this post, this is the one.)

HONEY BOO BOO BADGER PINT GLASS – For a diluted version of Honey Boo Boo and Honey Badger, look no further than this non-humorous drinking glass. The recipient will be, uh, maybe slightly amused, only because someone actually designed this thing, took the time to have it printed, put it up for sale, and you spent money on it. Capitalism.

PANTYHOSE FOR MEN – Give this to the guy who thinks anything beyond an overly aggressive handshake is gay. Just hope he doesn’t go all American Beauty on you. (The neighbor thing, not the rose petal thing.)

ILLUSION FAKE NAVEL JEWELRY – Good for irritating the parents of the teenager you give this to. According to the product reviews, one industrious magician used this for (shitty) magic tricks. So there’s that.

BILL CLINTON CORKSCREW – This is pretty much what you’d expect. A 9″ figure of Bill Clinton, and the corkscrew comes out of the front of his pants. Of course. (Unrelated side note: the penis on a male pig is corkscrew-ish.) (You’re welcome.)

WILLIE WOODPICKER TOOTHPICK DISPENSER – Reviews suggest you give this as a hostess gift. Life experience suggests (to me) that the hostess would probably dispense a toothpick and then stab you with it. This is best given as a dump-and-run, where the recipient opens it later, curses you, then throws the whole thing in the trash saying, “I don’t know why we exchange presents with that asshole every year. I’m not doing it next year.” Though of course, you will exchange gifts next year and every year after until one of you finally says uncle. Then the other of you will say, “Well, I thought we were friends.”

Finally, I know that people without children are contractually barred from sending out Christmas cards, but I think next year James and I may buck tradition. The two of us in front of the decorated Christmas tree, the dogs sniffing each other’s asses… That’s holiday magic, my friends. We’ll be sure to include a copy with your toothpick dispenser.

brain dump

is it still an honor if they spelled it wrong?

  • Does it seem like it’s getting dark really early? I know we just switched from daylight saving time (an outdated irritation), and that’s certainly part of it. But it starts getting dark around 4:30PM. By 6PM, it’s night. I don’t remember it getting dark so early in past years. This is probably a stupid question, but it’s really been bothering me.
  • Saw the same car on the way to work Monday and Tuesday mornings this week. I remembered it because its license plate reads EVIL E. On Monday, I wondered whether that stood for Evil Eye, Evelyn, Evil Erin, Ice T’s DJ… Then I saw it again on Tuesday, about fifteen minutes later than Monday but in approximately the same spot, and it made me think that the cosmos was repeating patterns. That theory was validated when I got to work and did the exact same thing I’d done on Monday. To change things up today, I didn’t wear pants to work. Didn’t see EVIL E either, so maybe it worked.
  • We’ve had a natural gas leak at the end of our driveway for two weeks. We called it in on Halloween night. Someone came out around 11:30PM, said he couldn’t fix it but it wasn’t a “bad” leak. A few days later, when no one had come to fix the leak and I was tired of smelling it every time I exited my driveway, I called it in again. This prompted a hillbilly voicemail letting me know we were “on the list” and I shouldn’t call it in again because we were “on the list.” He said “on the list” approximately 734 times in the sixty-second message. He called again two more times, finally catching me on the third round, and again told me about the list. I asked if he could give me an indication of when we’d be at the top of the magical list, and he said that all he could tell me was “We know about the leak. It ain’t bad because it ain’t sputterin’ or hissin’ or nothin’, so you don’t need to worry about it. You’s on the list.” Well, hillbilly gas man, you’re on my list too. Now come fix my fucking gas leak. Please, with NASCAR on top.
  • I like to hand wash my car whenever possible, but a recent day found me with a muddy car and no cash. I went to Bubbles for a quickie no-touch wash. Since I was last there (months ago), the place has become almost completely automated. There used to be a guy who took your order and swiped your card, then another two or three who directed you into the machine and scrubbed the front and back bumpers. On this trip, I took my own order and swiped my own card. There was one guy cleaning the front and back bumpers and another guy lurking in the vacuum area, but that was it. Though I am at times hermit-like and don’t mind limited human interaction, I thought this kind of sucked. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Thanks for taking our jobs.

UPDATE: A number of you expressed concern here and elsewhere about my gas leak (har har), so I wanted to provide an uneventful update. I called Center Point and had a bit of a chat with a lovely young man who seemed to understand the bad PR possibilities of a CP employee telling me to quit calling about an active gas leak that I can easily smell whilst walking by.  I told the dude that after those houses blew up in Indianapolis (either from a gas leak, asteroid or missile), it made me afraid that we might have a bigger leak underground that will show itself in dramatic fashion. I hope it’s as inconsequential as the hillbilly suggested it was, through a mouth full of Skoal and not teeth, but I’d rather be on the safe, non-explosive side.

The guy on the phone said that customers should never feel like they can’t call a leak in and that he’s put our work order on the fast track. We’ll see what happens. In the interim, don’t wear your skates over to my house.

Thursday list (courtesy of Reddit)

Sometimes in the morning I like to poke around on Reddit instead of reading about how fucked up the world is on all the various news sites. Reddit shows you how fucked up things are too, but there’s usually a good dose of humor to make it go down easier. Here are a few of the gems that I enjoyed the past couple of days. Thanks, Reddit.

  • From a thread asking “what’s the most fucked up game your friends play” comes a game that is pretty funny, even to my old lady sensibilities:In a big group of friends, one person would put their finger to their ear (like a secret service agent) and as the rest of the group noticed they would do the same. When there was one person left without their finger to their ear, everyone would scream “GET DOWN MR. PRSIDENT” and tackle them. On pavement, gravel, whatever. There were some injuries.”
  • Wonder how much time this took? Did they consider any other five-letter words? Booby? Dooky? Titty?
  • At least the view is nice.
  • There’s a KISS tribute band made up of little people. (If you click on the link, be warned that music starts playing immediately.) Upon further investigation, it seems there are TWO mini-people KISS tribute bands. And they are feuding.
  • Stella does this when I’m taking a bath and forgot to let her in the bathroom.
  • Stock photography tells a story. (Funny thing about this is I’m playing BINGO tonight with my coworkers.)
  • I can’t say why exactly, but I find this extremely funny. I look up pronunciations all the time, and his delivery is spot on. Here and here are a couple more. If you find any of these funny, go to his page, click the first video that comes up and just let the pronunciations play. I’ve been driving my coworkers crazy with this one.

Friday list

Slogan for this demo/remodeling company: "No job it's too small." Wonder how much work they get...

  • Hung out with friends last weekend. Well into the evening (and the wine), someone said to me, “Is it okay if I ask you a personal question?” I always have the same answer. “Of course.” In fact, please ask me a personal question. Because it generally means shit is about to get real. I like it when we move beyond the superficiality of the day-to-day to dig into the hidden recesses. I’d tell you what the question was, but it’s personal.
  • You may have seen links to the short film Caine’s Arcade on teh internets the past week or two. If you haven’t watched it yet, do. The film is ten minutes of fantastic. While you’re watching, imagine if the dreams of all children (big ones, too) were supported in such a loving and respectful way.
  • Here’s a new literary term that I may have made up (but there are no original ideas, so maybe someone else already did): vinfictive - writing presented as fiction that is really a thinly veiled attack on people who have wronged the author in the past. A distant cousin to vaguebooking. Not my kind of writing, but it’s out there. Perhaps I should add a definition to Urban Dictionary?
  • There are a couple of other people at work who love The Band, so in honor of Levon Helm’s passing we’re going to watch The Last Waltz and raise a glass at the end of the workday. That may be the best concert film ever made. Here’s a ridiculous blog post I wrote while watching it on cable a couple of years ago (even though I own the DVD). I claimed to not be drunk, but reading it now I have my doubts.

Friday list

got rid of my po box: The experiment failed. A year ago I rented a PO box for the FIGHT STUPIDIZATION campaign. It was meant to be a place where people could mail me a SASE, which I would return with one or two FS stickers inside. After mailing out over 500 stickers, the postage was becoming a bigger expense than I cared to take on. Sadly, the $40 I spent for the PO box ended up being a shittier financial deal because I only got a handful of sticker requests over the past year. The box rental has gone up to $52 annually, so today I got rid of it and plan to return to the old method. If you would like your very own FIGHT STUPIDIZATION sticker (or need a refresh for your old one), send an email with your mailing address and a promise to send me a photo of the sticker once it has found a home. Your photo will join the rogues gallery on the stupidization page. (Do it.)

punditry on two wheels: Via a comment on my brother’s site, I was happy to be introduced to a super fantastic blog – The Trailer Park Cyclist. While I’m always talking about simplifying things and living in a small place some day, this dude is living the reality. He writes funny, keenly observant posts about living in a trailer park in Florida and working on bicycles. But he’s really just talking about life. (Read it.)

peeing on yourself: My office is divided into three different rooms – the room I’m in is shared with another chick my age and two mid-20 something  women. The other old lady and I love to torture the two younger chicks with doom and gloom stories about aging. They wince when I mention the lone hair that likes to pop out of my chin overnight. They think I’m kidding when I say that there will be nothing there when I go to bed, yet when I wake up there’s a fully formed, 1/2-inch long hair swinging in the breeze. They think it won’t happen to them. They are wrong. Which they will find out when they are firmly in their 30s when this sort of shit starts to happen. And if it’s not a lone chin hair, it’ll be something else. Because aging isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Earlier this week, we were discussing the new commercials featuring a tightly bound and stuffed Kirstie Alley who is hiding out in some lady’s bathroom. There’s a party. The lady–who looks to be thirty-ish–is standing with a group of friends. She laughs, suddenly looks concerned and then runs to the bathroom. Where Kirstie Alley is hanging out, barely able to breathe in a pink dress that is a few sizes too small. (She’s lost a lot of weight, but I don’t think it’s time for that dress yet.) Kirstie Alley asks the woman if she just peed on herself. From laughing. The woman admits that she did. Kirstie Alley recommends that she wear a Poise pad rather than a pad she would use for her period. Which means that this woman would need to wear a pad all day, every day (and night) on the off chance that at some point she laughs.

This commercial makes me feel the way I assume the two young chicks feel. “That will never happen to me, and I’m not even sure this is real or that it happens to anyone.” I mean, if laughing at some lame-ass joke at a boring party with Kirstie Alley creepily hiding in the bathroom has this result, what the hell does a good strong sneeze do? (Hold it.)

Friday list

  • The winner of a copy of Tiny Homes – Simple Shelter (see previous post) is John E. I used random.org to pick a name. Since Half-Price books always gives me such a shitty return on my book investments, I think I’m going to start giving books away here. Media mail is pretty cheap, and I’d rather spend a couple of bucks to give books to people who want them than leave them with snotty hipsters wearing too much facial jewelry who sneer at my taste in reading material. (the Tiny Homes book is a new copy – I’m keeping mine – but future giveaways may be gently used)
  • When I’m paying for dinner and the waiter hands the credit card and receipt to James instead of me (when the card most obviously says CRYSTAL JACKSON at the bottom), I deduct a dollar from the tip.
  • I watched the first five minutes of Ice Loves Coco last night. What can I say – it’s been an intense week at work, and I made a stupid decision to allow the TV to rest on something mindless. I’ve never seen the show, so I don’t know if this was representative or not, but the few minutes that I watched featured Coco discussing her love of fabric softener sheets. She puts five in the dryer at a time because she loves the smell so much. She kept bringing a sheet to her nose and inhaling deeply, almost snorting the thing. Ice (back in my day, he went by Ice-T) rubbed a sheet all over his head, which she then started sniffing. Only she was really dedicated to it. Reminded me of a National Geographic show I saw when I was a kid where scientists were sniffing people’s armpits. For science. She looked very focused and serious, sniffing here and there, moving his head around for the best nose-to-noggin angle. Also, she was wearing a pink velour sweatsuit. This is why I stick to Comedy Central and science channels. I don’t do well out in the wild on my own.
  • AT&T continues to honor my brother Mason with the Mason Jackson Eternal Flame Award. This was the second year they gave out the award, and thanks to one of Mason’s friends I was able to communicate with the winner. Check out the story here.

searching

A selection of search terms that brought this blog traffic over the past month:

  • how to shit in the wood
  • too many fucking disappointments are a sign of too many fucking expectations
  • fat trucker girl tattoo
  • grandmother fuck
  • i don’t trust people that don’t drink
  • big tits laying over sides
  • how to find a hooker at i-80 truck stop
  • local women to fuck near houston texas
  • monkey flipping the bird
  • my eyes went cockeyed
  • accidental beaver shot
  • my mom makes me wanna punch someone face
  • baby alive doll is unresponsive
  • “do you sees it”
  • wet denim crotch
  • phil collins witnessing a murder
  • i need internet in my cabin in the woods
  • this outdoor bbq turns into a hot tushy licking appetizer before the main course
  • neighbors tits
  • old biddies fucking
  • testicles jammed in pooper
  • good morning assholes
  • now it’s mother fucking hammer time

Seriously, what is wrong with people?

2011 year in review: books

This is the first year I tried to write down the title of each book I read. Probably missed a few but this is the bulk of them, in the order in which they were read. (A note on the links – I rarely linked to a place to just purchase the book but instead included something interesting about the writer or the work itself. What I’m saying is, check out some of the links. They won’t take you to Amazon.com.)

  • Travels With Charley: In Search of America – John Steinbeck. I was so excited about this book, I offered a couple of copies to readers of this blog. Then I found out about the controversy.
  • The Braindead Megaphone – George Saunders. I have read every Saunders book I could get my hands on, and, with the exception of one, loved all of them. He’s wonderfully absurd, touching, sarcastic, pessimistic and hopeful.
  • Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan. I don’t remember much about this book except I kept expecting to like it more.
  • Full Dark, No Stars – Stephen King. A collection of four novellas. I think the thing I was left with after reading it was, “Man, that sure was dark.”
  • Robinson Jeffers, Poet of California – James Karman. After vising Jeffers’ beautiful homestead, which he built in Carmel, I was excited to learn more about the man. Much of his writing is nature-wild and sad, and when you realize the property that is now surrounded by fancy million dollar (and then some) homes was once all by itself, you get a better feel for the place he was (literally and figuratively) as he wrote. Craggy, foggy coast. Few trees. A sign on the fence that said, “Back at 4PM” or something like that to keep people away during the day while he worked. Lots of booze. Obsession with building by hand with large stones. Love of hawks and other big birds. Deep love for his wife coupled with a fondness for his formerly philandering days. He was an interesting cat, and his house/work directly reflect that.
  • Dress Your Family in Courdoroy and Denim – David Sedaris. A reread of an enjoyable book. Literary version of comfort food.
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley. After rereading 1984 a few years back, I decided to revisit a number of the books I read (and didn’t really GET) in high school. This book was another stop on that journey, and Animal Farm is next. Reproductive technology? Intentionally dumbing people down? An overly intrusive government? A doped up society? We’re there, people. And getting more there each day.
  • Post Office – Charles Bukowski. This book may have been the last straw that pushed me to finally leave non-profit development–after a ten-year run–and change careers. If you want to feel suffocated by someone else’s job, read this. You’ll either feel much better about what you’re doing or see it as a cautionary tale and make some changes in your life. (Or, I guess, just feel worse than you already did.)
  • Outrageous Fortune – Todd London and Ben Pesner. Just a little something to remind me of how tough it is out there for a new play. I get it, I get it.
  • Black is the New White – Paul Mooney. Mooney’s commitment to stirring the pot is inspiring. And necessary. His autobiography was enlightening about the scene for black comics coming up through the ’70s to today. It was as much about Mooney as it was about his best friend and collaborator Richard Pryor.
  • Dead Man’s Cellphone – Sarah Ruhl. A play by a favorite playwright. An interesting take on life after death. Ruhl’s play Eurydice (specifically the Alley Theatre’s production) was an inspiration as I wrote The Singularity this year – my first full length play.
  • Bluebeard – Kurt Vonnegut. I didn’t start reading Vonnegut’s work until James and I moved in together and I found myself living with four or five of Vonnegut’s works. This was a grievous oversight on my part as I now count him as one of my favorite writers. This book is a great take on modern art. And his repeated usage of the descriptive term “babyshit brown” made me laugh. (The narrator talks about having just bought a suit that he thought looked pretty sharp. As he’s walking down the street, a couple of cops grab him, thinking he is  the guy who just robbed a bank, about whom they know very little. “All that anybody could tell us about him,” one of them said to me, “was that his suit was babyshit brown.”)
  • Last Days of Judas Iscariot – Stephen Adly Guirgis. The first play I’ve read by Guirgis. Loved it and will read more. He recently found out about some shitty casting of his play The Motherfucker with the Hat and let ‘er rip on the theater, which put a couple of white folks into lead roles that were specifically Latino. Granted, there may not be a shitload of Puerto Rican actors in Connecticut, but the theatre didn’t audition even one Latino actor. Bad form.
  • Franny and Zooey – JD Salinger. My friend Lisa has “Shine your shoes” tattooed on her wrist, and I’ve always wondered at the meaning of the quote (which is from this book). Now I understand.
  • Chalk Line – Paula LaRocque. LaRocque is a friend of a friend (who turned me on to Paula’s blog about writing a couple of years ago). I was lucky to be able to read an advance copy of LaRocque’s murder mystery, which is a genre I haven’t read in a long time. The book, mostly set in Dallas, was a fast, fun read. Like all good murder mysteries, the tale was full of surprises. I love it when I can’t predict what’s coming.
  • Builders of the Pacific Coast – Lloyd Kahn. Kahn is one of the most inspiring people I know of. I’ve written about him here before. I want to be like him when I grow up. As for the book, it’s delicious eye candy of handbuilt shelters in a lovely part of the country.
  • Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell lets you know that some of the most successful people in the world got that way through dogged determination and hard work, sure, but also because they were in the right place at the right time. Success, according to this book, is often the result of serendipity as much as anything else.
  • Death By Black Hole – Neil DeGrasse Tyson. My favorite astrophysicist. See: the time I met Tyson for a funny story about Tyson and titties. He writes about the cosmos in an accessible, yet not dumbed down, way.
  • The Metamorphosis and Other Stories – Franz Kafka. Trying to catch up on shit I should have read a long time ago or did read a long time ago in a caffeine-induced frenzy before class and didn’t retain. This book was very Kafkaesque. Ha.
  • Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads – Luke Sullivan. Given to me by one of my coworkers, this book is a great introduction to advertising.
  • Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas – Rebecca Solnit. A unique way to view the social history of The City, one of my favorite places.

Books are my favorite possession. I love the way they look, the way they feel in my hand, the fact that so many feature interesting little personal bits between the pages (like a receipt from City Lights or a note that was used as a bookmark). I’m excited that there are currently seven books on my desk waiting to be read. In fact… Happy New Year.

Friday list

improvised candle holder for James' cake-free birthday last month - it's not a birthday unless you get to make a wish, even if the candle is in a wine cork

Saw a commercial for zit medicine last night. The teenage girl (in her zit-free afterglow) says, in reference to her previously huge zit, “Do you sees it? ‘Cause I don’t sees it.” I thought the TV was acting up again, certain I misheard that, so I rewound the commercial a few moments. Yup. That’s what she said. I hope her zits come back as well as those of the writer who wrote that crap.

Lately I keep getting spam from “Adriana.” The whole thing is a venereal disease full of bad grammar (“i guess your not getting my messages”), text shortcuts (lots of LOLs and fake words like “cudn’t”) and talk about how horny she is and how she loves watching porn. Then comes the money shot, where she gets around to saying that she has her own webcam show. Then, because we’re such good friends, she provides a free code to watch her do her thing. The climax of the email is her begging the recipient not to share the password. “DON’T GIVE IT OUT OR ILL KICK U IN THE BALLS INSTEAD OF LICK U IN THE BALLS WHEN I SEE U.” What a ridiculous set up. Seems like cutting to the chase would be just as effective: “Hey, perv, if you want to watch a few moments of free porn before we make you enter your credit card info, go here.” Maybe this is the guy’s version of Mr. Darcy. At least Jane Austen could spell.

The previously mentioned Chick-fil-A billboard is gone now, replaced with an inoffensive Conn’s billboard. So the rearrangement of cows will have to wait for another day. If I find out that Conn’s has some bullshit anti-gay agenda, maybe we can do something with their red dot.

yes

I didn’t put up a Christmas tree the past two years, so I am more excited than usual to have one up this year. My ornament collection is a box of awesome. My mother’s parents collected ornaments for all of their grandkids each year. You received your box of ornaments when you turned 21 or got married. Good thing it wasn’t based just on the latter or I’d still be waiting. So I have this great collection of ’70s and ’80s ornaments coupled with the ones I’ve purchased over the years. I went through an unfortunate sun/moon phase, which found its way to my Christmas tree too, but those ornaments have mostly been phased out. Over the past few years I’ve been sure to buy ornaments when we travel. Since we rarely travel around Christmas time, this means that the things I use for ornaments had a different original purpose. It makes for a nostalgic tree, which, to me, is the whole point. I’ll never understand people who buy a bunch of matchy-matchy ornaments. Doesn’t have the same soul.

planning ahead

When I finally have that nervous breakdown that I’ve been saving up for all these years, I’d like to be taken to a place like this while I convalesce (though I’d prefer a fluffier couch). This little hobbit house looks like a great spot to read a book, take a nap and get one’s general shit together. I’m reminded of something Dennis once said about needing to take a break from his very busy and stressful life. He said he’d like to be committed, only for a week or two, so he could do crafts and stare out the window onto the lawn of the “home” and just be quiet for a little while. Maybe that’s why people used to be committed back in the day. It was really  just a vacation from dying of consumption or having 12 kids and no air conditioning.

When you have time to kill (and an internet connection), check out Have you seen this?!. I tend to skip the cat videos but have found other things of interest. Like this video of a guy skiing (link updated) through his neighborhood. Literally. All I do is walk through my neighborhood, sometimes to that exact song. No one videotapes me doing it, though. I hope.

When you want to bake something sweet for the holidays, I recommend these ginger cookies with the following changes (all of which were gathered from reading a large number of the comments on the recipe). Replace the water with an equal amount of orange juice. Use butter instead of margarine. Chill the dough for an hour before shaping it into balls and placing on a cookie sheet. Leave at least a couple of inches between each slightly flattened ball because the dough spreads out like a mofo. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar instead of white. I’m not much of a baker, but I had good luck with this recipe.

When I take my next road trip out west, I hope to stop by Antelope Canyon, AZ for a look-see. For a state with a lot of backwards thinking, there sure is a lot of breathtaking beauty and rampant reminders of the passage of time/power of nature.

When The Walking Dead returns in February, I really hope that Shane (the bad cop) is killed off. Not because he’s gone crazy and is now probably evil but because the guy playing him is a horrible actor.

Porkky Night, or Delicious van Bacon (a list)

happy fourth

Postscript As a follow up to the last post, this (expensive fake plastic babies) may be creepier than having a monkey baby. At least monkey babies are cute. And alive. These babies are horrifying. Imagine lying in bed and rolling over on your side, only to find yourself face to face with one of those vinyl monstrosities in the dark of the night. Or going to a woman’s house for the first time after a couple of reasonably decent dates and being introduced to her fake baby. “Yes, it looks just like you. Um, I’m afraid my explosive diarrhea is returning, so I’m going to have to go now. I’ll, uh… Bye.”

Baconalia A masterful work of baconart: Starry Night. It was part of a larger bacon challenge created by Instructables. Though the recent Baconalia event at Denny’s would suggest that bacon has jumped the shark, I shall never tire of the stuff. Continue reading

list o’ bullshit

  • Just finished: Black is the New White by Paul Mooney. It was mostly about Richard Pryor.
  • Currently reading: Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut. It is mostly about a not real person.
  • On deck: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis.
  • Needs they ass beat: David Mamet (if for no other reason than those stupid fucking yellow plastic glasses he wears).
  • Things to remember when writing a script: written by David Mamet for TV, but it works for some plays, too (his glasses still suck).
  • Need for recalibration: why are we celebrating graduation from Kindergarten? Does anyone not graduate from K? Let’s set our sights just a bit higher, m’kay?
  • If you make theatre: read this manifesto. If you don’t, it’ll probably just sound pretentious. Or maybe even if you do.
  • Best two search terms of the past week that brought people to this blog: where to punch somebody except the face and the balls and dog themed bedrooms, adults.
  • Reason I haven’t written in my blog in over a week and am even now only writing this bullshit list of random things: I started a new job on Monday. I love it, and I’ve been too busy at lunch to write. Today is my first try, and I already feel like I should be working. So I’ll end here. Next post will be more substantial. Maybe.

Thursday list

Kero-whacked: Here’s a line-by-line recreation of On the Road, “retold for bros.” So massively horrible/awesome, you can only read a few passages at a time before your eye starts twitching. (I was looking for a site devoted to the original tale when I ran across this – a film version that hasn’t been released yet. Guess we’ve milked the ’80s and ’60s enough, let’s start in on the ’50s. Should have known this was coming after Howl came out and was well-received.)

Ruins of Detroit: Two photographers documented decaying Detroit. One of the things I find odd about their collection of photos is how much stuff is still in the buildings. The library still has books, the churches and ballrooms still have beautiful light fixtures and one church still has a piano. It would seem as if people just *poof* disappeared, except in some shots you can see signs that they were there after the fall. Like the one of the bank vault where a number of safe deposit boxes have been tossed on the floor after being checked for any treasure that might have been hiding inside. These buildings aren’t individual houses that were abandoned. They were once large, lovely, busy places full of people. And many of them look as if they were left to rot a hundred years ago, not 10 or 20 years ago. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with so many dead/dying buildings. Bad feng shui, to say the least.

Scariest Trail Ever: This is video of El Camino del Rey, a trail in Spain that probably shouldn’t be traversed anymore. Watch the video in full screen mode, and you may find yourself worried you’re going to fall off your chair. Kudos to the badass (and obviously insane) person who made this film.

Honey Badger: You may have already seen this video about the crazy nastyass honey badger, as narrated by some foul-mouthed dude and posted all over the internets a couple of weeks ago.  It’s worth a look, though probably not at work. This is a far, yet inevitable, cry from the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Sunday nights of my youth.

Travels with an Idiot: An Idiot Abroad is fast becoming my favorite show. The host Karl’s incredibly dry (arid, even) delivery is fucking funny. And unlike most travel shows where toothy hosts act as if they are comfortable in any situation and happy to meet people everywhere they go, Karl has no trouble expressing fear, distaste and disdain, voicing concerns that would not normally be expressed in polite company. He also gets obsessed about the little details, which I relate to. You can watch snippets on the show’s website, but you really need to see the full program for the complete effect.

Fight stupidization volunteer effort: No link for this one, but I wanted to let you know that almost 30 people have signed up to volunteer for FIGHT STUPIDIZATION: phase two. We’re having our first meeting in mid-March, where I will unveil the very simple idea I have for the next phase of the effort. The purpose of the meeting is to use the brain power of the group to map out what needs to happen next. If you’re interested in getting involved, please send me an email (you’ll find my email address on the bottom right of this page) and I’ll be in touch with further details.