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.

you bet your biffy and other news

While perusing a travel catalog that arrived in the mail, I ran across an item called a “biffy bag.” It’s a personal disposable toilet. I couldn’t understand how it works, exactly, because it looks like a trash bag with a piece of foil attached to it. After a google, I was happy to find this helpful information page on the product’s website. You tie the top of the biffy bag around your waist then pull the other part between your legs and tuck into the top, let ‘er rip into the hanging bag, wipe, put your pants back on and you’re done. The website lists numerous situations in which this might be useful including long car trips when you don’t want to stop. I may like to burn miles, but I would much rather stop at the next Buc-ee’s than be in a car with someone who’s shitting into a fancy trash bag in the seat next to me.

While getting my oil changed yesterday, I was surprised to note that the garage employee who drove my car in and out of the bay doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. He wasn’t letting out the clutch enough to really drive the car and was barely able to get it up on the racks. Then when he backed it out of the bay and pulled it in front for me, he almost hit the little old lady who was sitting there waiting for her car. I wonder if his coworkers make fun of him. Maybe I should offer some free tutoring (though not in my car).

I got my oil changed in the Heights because I still return there for a number of basic services. I spent decades finding the places I like, so it’s easier to go back there than start over where I live now. The construction all over the neighborhood sucks, though. Guess the roads are worn out from all of the valet-only restaurants and nanny traffic that arrived with the most recent yuppie invasion.

Speaking of the neighborhood, check out this video of Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) defending support of public television back in the ’60s. How rare to hear someone speak with such deliberation, and even more rare for that person to be listened to and treated with kindness and respect. Can you imagine that scenario playing out in today’s climate? Today, someone would yell “He’s a LIAR” while others would be busy checking their email or playing Angry Birds. “What do you do with the mad that you feel / When you feel so mad you could bite?” Indeed, Mr. Rogers, we don’t seem to know anymore.

(a quick) Friday list

yeah, you know you're jealous

Before getting to the Friday list, I wanted to share with you the awesomeness that entered my life just a few minutes ago. Today over lunch my department had its much-belated holiday party, which included a white elephant gift exchange. I was able to pass along the gaudy necklace I received at a white elephant earlier this month, and through some negotiating today am now going home with the item you see above. Yes, that is a knitted armadillo holding an old can (pull tab) of Lone Star Light. What is sad is that, while everyone at the table was remarking about how gaudy it was, all I could think was, “Man, that’ll go great in my house.” Draw your own conclusions.

On to the short list (because my lunchtime is over):

  • If you want to do some traveling in the US or abroad but don’t have much money and aren’t weirded out by sleeping in a stranger’s house, check out couch surfing. You sign up on this site as a couch host or couch sleeper, and you can basically travel all over the place without paying for overnight accommodations. They expect that the sleeper will make dinner or chip in with chores in exchange for a free place to sleep, but nothing is mandatory. And if you sleep on some creep’s couch, you can leave a shitty review of the experience to save others from having to experience a host who walks around in his underwear and offers a “back rub” in the middle of the night.
  • Posted on facebook this morning, a TED performance of Bohemian Rhapsody on ukulele. Fantastic. Looks like Houston will have another TEDxHouston conference this summer. I really enjoyed it last year and hope this year’s list of speakers is just as varied and interesting.
  • Finally, for my theatre people, check out Arena Stage’s new play blog, which is chronicling what’s happening this week at From Scarcity to Abundance, a conference about new work for the theatre. Really interesting conversations are happening about the health of today’s theatre and possibilities for the future.

Friday list

Man, I’m pretty unimpressed with my blog output in 2011. I hope I can get cranking again. Too much going on at work, including the news that we will be merging with the public radio station. This is a great move that will create a much stronger, more dynamic organization, but the growing pains will be pretty intense. Anyway, on to the Friday list.

- Check out this awesome treehouse. Parts of it remind me of the set for 2001: A Space Odyssey, which balances nicely with all of the nature surrounding the house. [Side note: a few years ago, I met Keir Dullea (the guy who becomes the star child at the end of 2001) when his wife was in a show at the Alley. Delightful fellow who still has amazingly beautiful, intense eyes (which Kubrick focused on throughout the film). While he was here, the Alley hosted a screening of 2001 at the Angelika (RIP) followed by a talkback with Dullea. It was super cool.]

- A friend of mine (whom I shan’t name) watches horrible shows on television and then tells me about them. He relates his enjoyment in such a way that I find myself searching out programs I would normally never watch. Totally his fault, in other words. I’m not talking about the fake reality shows with plastic people pretending to be in relationships – I’m talking about stuff like My Strange Addiction. I watched an episode featuring a woman who is addicted to eating couch cushions (according to her, the darker outside portion of the cushion – the crust, if you will – is more tasty than the lighter interior). She even takes chunks of it in her purse to nibble on throughout the day. So much (non-PBS) TV is a sideshow barker, calling us in to meet the freaks. Once we’ve all been numbed to the peccadilloes of our fellow earth travelers, where will the TV people go for content? Might have to return to hiring writers and telling stories. Old school. The only other option is that each of us gets our own TV channel, which anyone with cable can tune in to watch. Take my advice and skip my channel. There’s very little nudity and way too much cussing.

- Though I’m not a fan of the facial hair, I tip my (imaginary) hat to these guys. That takes some dedication. And an understanding partner.

- On the drive to work this morning I enjoyed a particularly random selection of songs provided by my iPod. The best back-to-back combination: John Denver’s The Eagle and the Hawk followed by Ice Cube’s It was a Good Day. I pictured John Denver and Ice Cube hanging out on a small front porch in a black neighborhood. The sun is glinting off John Denver’s thick glasses, almost blinding Ice Cube as he sips on his 40. Things are awkward and the conversation is going nowhere until one of them pulls a joint out of his shirt pocket. A few minutes later they’re laughing, having a good visit, talking about bitches and good places to go skiing.

list: search terms

I haven’t done much blog posting in 2011. I’m trying to get through draft two of my full length play, so I’ve been using available lunch time to work on that instead of writing here. I did try writing a post yesterday about the shootings in Arizona. I’ve decided to just leave that in the drafts folder and move on.  Know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em.

Today, I’d like to share a few of the interesting search terms that have brought visitors to my blog over the past few months. They have not been corrected for shitty spelling or overall weirdness.

  • trippy pictures to look at when your high
  • sexist baby clothing
  • book cover pink tricycle book masculinity
  • tricycle michael jackson
  • adult riding a tricycle
  • radio flyer trick tricycle 1950
  • big man on tricycle
  • fat man on little tricycle
  • untightened lug nuts
  • see through silence birthday cake
  • happy 11 birthday cake that said elizabeth
  • christmas party through the window
  • gravestone in backyard
  • shittay
  • turtle show
  • baby pushing baby
  • “everyone thinks my boyfriend is gay”
  • holly hunter bunions
  • trippen hermit black
  • tiny white caterpillar in house “not fuzzy”
  • heights houston douchebags
  • what direction to place giraffe pen holder on a desk in fengshui
  • stuffed dog dances to who let the dogs out
  • accidental nudity
  • who is that spooky singer in the hyunda commercial
  • hyundai commercial hipster douchebags
  • twitchy cletus
  • the generation that swore it would never get old, didn’t
  • just for men touch of gray,bullshit?
  • stupidization real word
  • doe ray me far so la tee doe scale
  • waiting for your arrival sister
  • bacon strokes
  • freaky paula deen
  • little kings beer
  • assumptions about people drinking beer
  • get unplugged tvs and verbs that are turned “off”
  • you can see me when you see monkeys flying out of my but

As usual, the search terms are more interesting than the blog. What I found most odd were the various “man on tricycle” searches. Guess there’s some interest on the internet in men who are riding something that is inappropriately sized. Ahem. The most common searches (which are not included above) are a variation on cabin in the woods (cabin at night, writer’s cabin, how to build a cabin in the woods, building permits for cabin in woods, etc.). This suggests there are plenty of other people who have cabin fantasies. Probably other city-dwelling writers who think that bucolic splendor and simple living will be a growth tonic for their work. And also manifesto-creating, sunglasses wearing guys in hoodies. And militia members. And gnomes.

In other news, this is exciting. I’ve signed up for a class. Maybe it’ll serve as a sneak preview to El Real Tex-Mex Cafe, the restaurant Robb Walsh is opening later this year.

In further other news, the winners of the two copies of Travels with Charley are: Conn and Janel. Next book I read that grabs me like that will be treated in a similar manner, though I may not always give away multiple copies. I’m almost done with Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. It will not be receiving this treatment, bless its heart.

Friday list

  • If you like nerd tee shirts that don’t cost much and aren’t in heavy circulation, check out Shirt Woot. That’s where I bought Tohner a The Rent Is Too Damn High Party tee and myself a bright green owl tee, which I am wearing today. [Note the drug store purchased clip on sunshades that aren't quite the same size/shape as my glasses, the goofy beaded necklace that I made, the fleece vest. Casual Friday, take that!] I’d hoped to capture the owl better, but I didn’t really want one of my coworkers to park next to me only to find me sitting there taking pictures of myself. (I park at the back end of the lot in the no ding zone, so the chances of someone actually parking next to me were pretty slim. But still. No need to make people think I’m more odd than they already do.)

    your blogger

  • I’ve had my iPhone for a few years now, so you’d think that when I type “shit,” it wouldn’t try to auto-correct the word to “shut.” I can pretty much guarantee that I’ve used “shit” entirely more often than “shut” since I’ve had this phone. And probably just in general.
  • Do you ever get the feeling that the powers that be (you know, big brother) are collecting humiliating/incriminating information about each of us, which they will use when the need arises? Like the Navy captain who was just fired for some videos that he produced in 2006/07 that were shown on board a carrier for Friday movie night. He stopped making them when he was told to three years ago, but he wasn’t fired until now. Wonder why? He must be bothering someone who decided to just get rid of him. I watched a portion of one of the videos – the humor was fairly juvenile (I didn’t hear a fart joke but kept waiting for one), with sex jokes that could have been made by most high school guys – you know, guys who are probably close to the age of the people who are serving on a carrier for months at a time.  Think about how many stupid, humiliating things you’ve done. Inappropriate behavior at work, ranting emails when you were drunk and/or mad, passes that weren’t reciprocated or appreciated. Things that, once they were over, you said a sigh of relief – thank God no one saw that/video taped that/was in the vicinity to witness that. Guess what? Someone did see it, did video tape it and was in the vicinity. And that shit will break loose just about the time you start causing trouble.
  • Michelle Bachmann might run for President? Oh my God, guys, what if Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell all run, and somehow they end up in a debate with each other? Can you imagine the misinformation, insanity, inanity, “patriotism” and displaying of teeth and lipstick that would follow? I would find it ridiculously entertaining, right up until the moment my head exploded.

Friday list

 

kill your TV

(Please note: the Fight stupidization. blog does not condone shooting – of televisions, living creatures or anything else. But it does commiserate with people who are fed up. And full of beer. And wearing an awesome mustache.) (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the picture for the story.) (Man bites TV.)

- If you’re on twitter, you should follow Humble Brag. Retweets of people who name drop and otherwise try to show how special they are, often disguising their true intention through fake self-deprecation or faux displeasure. Good stuff.

- Need a little camper for your small car/motorcycle? Actually, even if you don’t you should check out this site. I especially enjoyed the homemade videos that show off the company’s various products. Seriously – if you were going to travel the country and didn’t want to have to set up a tent every night, this is a pretty cool way to do it.

- Yesterday’s post by The Bloggess was ridiculously funny. If you’ve never taken my advice to read her blog before, now is a good time to give it a go. It’s worth the click.

- I’m flying next month, so body scans and hard core pat downs are on my mind. Security theatre, of which we are all players, has finally reached the ridiculous. When will we have to wear government-issued coveralls and paper slippers like they do in jail in order to board an airplane? If you check out this story from the Houston Chronicle, you’ll note the pained expression on the woman whose right tit is being firmly squeezed by a TSA worker. Pat down or breast exam? The gubment sho does like to keep us skeered. We’re so much easier to control that way.

This overstepping of bounds by the TSA is one hot topic that my conservative friends (I have one or two) and I can agree upon. Check out what Ron Paul had to say (not suggesting he’s a friend but he is a conservative):

Until I watched this video, I didn’t realize that Michael Chertoff had a financial stake in the machines that he’s been pimping for years. Huh. How you like them apples?

The scanners are called Rapiscan. I think they should change that “i” to an “e.”

Sunday list

- I really wish that the Science Channel would quit interrupting tonight’s Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman with commercials for Sarah Palin’s “reality” show on TLC. Her shrill voice and odd sentence constructions are like an ice pick in my ear. And never in my life have I heard someone utter the word “tranquility” in a more un-tranquil way.

- James’ 40th birthday party was last night. Like old people, we started our day yesterday at 7AM. Like young people, we had guests until almost 4AM. When I woke up this morning, my liver was standing in the corner of the bedroom, tapping its foot,  arms crossed. I tried to walk by to go to the bathroom, and it reached out and punched me in the face. I had it coming.

- I was at the store a couple of days ago getting stuff for the party when I saw a bunch of cute stuffed dogs on an end cap. Being an aunt now, my eye is caught by potential Rowan/Molly presents on a regular basis. Then I saw that the dog sings and dances to Who Let the Dogs Out, and I knew my brother would kill me if I introduced that to his house. So I kept walking. A few seconds later, I heard the strains of that once over-played and now residing-in-a-stuffed-dog song coming from the end of the aisle. I casually walked back over there, you know, just to see if the dog had any moves, and I saw a lady laughing and sort of dancing along with the dog (I didn’t even notice the dog because she was entirely more entertaining). We laughed together, she said something in Spanish and then the song stopped. A nice moment, I thought, as I began to push my cart past. She then activated the singing, dancing frog (I can’t remember what song that was), and I felt like she’d jumped the shark.

Friday list

hanging out in master control, where I am neither a master nor in control

- HoustonPBS is broadcasting a food-related evening of programming next Wednesday night. My talented friend Abby is hosting the evening, which will feature food docs plus clips of Abby’s visits to a few local restaurants. We’re encouraging people to tweet during the programs to talk about what they’re watching or to share tips on local places to eat. For some reason, the powers that be over here thought it would be a good idea for me to type up the various tweets to broadcast live over the course of the evening. We had a training session today, and my understanding is that the master control operator will be the person to push the button before the tweets actually go on the air, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to sneak any fight stupidization propaganda onto the tube. I’d love to enter some of your tweets so please join the conversation that night, you tweeter.

- If this is true (that intelligent people drink more alcohol than their more dim counterparts), then why do I feel so stupid when I have a hangover? Maybe I’m not drinking enough.

- Have you seen that horrible commercial about whooping cough? Or, more importantly, have you heard it? It features the sound of a baby, presumably with whooping cough, whooping coughing. Only it sounds like something you’d hear on your way into the infinite dark abyss. It’s a horrible, wet, hacking, no intake of air, worst-thing-I’ve-ever-heard noise. I have to lunge for the remote to mute the TV every time it comes on.  Same thing happens with that ’50s-style insurance chick. Nails on a chalkboard my soul.

- In addition to the “like” button on facebook, I wish they would add a “you’re being self-righteous” button.

- I encourage you to go to watch Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns series of interviews. Awesome stuff.

Friday list

I didn’t forget about you this week, my friends. I’ve been knee deep (in more ways than one) trying to finish Six Of One Productions’ application to the Idea Fund. It’s an arts grant program powered by the Andy Warhol Foundation that, I would assume, is highly competitive. We had to submit a three-minute video in addition to a narrative description of the project. It was the video that was my downfall. This wasn’t procrastination. I’ve been talking about this project for months. It was other peoples’ schedules that were jacked. BUT – I finished before 4PM, and the deadline wasn’t until 11:59PM today. So I had almost 8 hours to spare. Trust me when I say I’ve cut it much closer than that on grant apps for work.Where they pay me to do this stuff.

Anyway, on to the (down and dirty) Friday list.

- Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis are in a movie together. I love both of them for completely divergent reasons, so I will have to see this movie. It’ll probably be awesome or shit, either of which are better than mediocre.

- I am not a fan of cliffhanger facebook updates. I find them annoying. I’ve started paying more attention to them lately to see if my theory is correct. It is. The people who write cliffhanger status updates are almost exclusively single. Those of us in boring old relationships don’t post that crap. If I did, James would just walk across the house to my room, where I’m holed up with my laptop and a bottle of wine, and ask me what my problem was. Yawn. But lonely single gal can post something that maybe the guy from Match.com will think is about him, or mabye that guy from the mailroom, or maybe her young neighbor who just moved in but might be gay. That can keep her (and potentially one or two guys) occupied for the greater part of a Tuesday night. (I say this as a person who was single for a long time, so I’m not trying to be shitty. I just really, really don’t like cliffhanger facebook updates and feel they must be transparent to even the most thick-skulled among us.)

- While watching the miners being birthed from the earth a couple of days ago, I was surprised to not see Sheila Jackson Lee in front of the cameras. With her braids and shit. She must not have been able to book a flight.

- Seriously? A guy named Rich Whitney is accidentally listed as “Rich Whitey” on ballots in Chicago? And half of those ballots are in black neighborhoods? Damn. Can’t make that shit up. He’s on the Green Party ticket, so you can be sure that he probably is white but probably isn’t rich.

- This is laugh-out-loud funny. Maybe because I’m a dog lover. It’s a somewhat long read (for the internet) but totally worth the effort.

Friday list

 

tee shirt prototype

 

- Yes, we have a fight stupidization tee shirt! There is only one so far. I wanted to wear it first to make sure the words don’t go too far across the chest and are legible. I opted to do gray instead of black since gray tee shirts age better than black but fulfill a similar role in the wardrobe (not being white or a bright color and going with pretty much anything). I think I’ll probably have black and gray printed up for the first big run of shirts and will add white next summer. We’ll have a few to give away at Cultured Cocktails on December 2nd and will start selling them on the website later that month. Of course you’ll know about that as soon as it happens because I’ll write about it here.

- I follow Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) on twitter. He recently mentioned Neil DeGrasse Tyson and referred to him as a “great drinking buddy.” I can’t imagine having happy hour with those two. My brain would explode with the awesomeness. (Side note about reading MacFarlane’s tweets – I hear and picture Brian (the dog on Family Guy) when I read them.) (Side note about Neil DeGrasse Tyson – I got to meet him in 2008 when he came to Houston for a HoustonPBS Elevate lecture, and of course something funny happened. I can’t believe I didn’t write about it in my blog, but I just checked and couldn’t find anything. So I’ll share that story soon in its own post.)

- I’m on a listserve for playwrights around the country to share production opportunities. Many of us have been on the list for a number of years, and we’ve started getting to know one another. Most of the “knowing” is limited to “that guy lives in Atlanta” or “that chick writes kids’ plays.” There’s this one guy – he always comes across as a really nice, kind-hearted person – who occasionally posts more information than necessary. In any situation. Ever. His most recent contribution:

All of you have heard of the Cat of Nine Tails. That’s a kind of flogger. One of my S/M specialties is flogging a naked guy shackled to a St. Andrews cross until his back is full of welts and most often bloody. I’ve got a dozen floggers from very soft doe hide to very rough wildebeest. In there is also a braided cat and a flogger with rubber tendrils that really cuts. It’s an art and obsession.

[crickets...] As you can imagine, no one responded (at least not publicly). This was totally out of the blue. I mean, we weren’t discussing S&M. Or cats. Or hobbies…or even M&Ms…

Friday (short) list

- In an email exchange with a tech person about something…technical, the tech person offered to draw me a picture of what we were discussing. You know, to help me understand. So I drew him a picture of me, shooting the finger. Not really. That would have been funny, though. I’m sure he was trying to be helpful, so I let it go.

- In a conversation with my little brother, I realized that I may, in fact, be a hipster. Sure, I’m too old, too thick and too employed to be a full-on hipster. But…I have a theatre company. I keep a blog in which I share my musings on life. I long to move to northern California to live near the coast and take occasional trips to San Francisco so I can shop at City Lights. That desire is equally balanced by a wish to  move into a yurt or build a straw bale house and start making my own soap, which I would give an ironic name and sell over the internet and at craft fairs. I don’t allow myself to tan and remain an amazingly pale color even in the middle of summer in a sub-tropical climate. I’m trying to grow food. Most of my friends are artists. I use Apple products. My right eyebrow is permanently raised. I live in a house with a record player and 500 or more albums (it really does sound better).  I have a liberal arts degree and a liberal voting record…Thank God I’m generation X not Y, I don’t have any tattoos, my glasses are small and I don’t dress fashionably. Otherwise, I’d be screwed.

Friday list

this is the gravestone in our backyard for Chamus the Famous, who we assume (hope) was a dog - I like the way Stella looks like she's flying up out of the grave and toward the camera and how James' arm/hand looks animal-like - just an odd photo - we get a lot of those in and around this house...

- If I’m still alive when the inevitable “end” comes and find myself sitting in a tent gnawing on the hindquarters of a skinny rat in the moonlight, I will think back upon this dessert as a sure sign of what was to come. A society that creates this bullshit deserves a kick squarely in the ass.

- Facebook went down for a period on Wednesday. Had I been in the office, I might have assumed that the powers that be blocked the site. Since I was at home (and am the power that be), I knew that wasn’t the case. Googling the issue, I ran across Down Right Now. The site gives you green light/red light updates on three blog services, three email services and three social networking services, including Facebook. So you’ll know whether or not it really is just you. Nifty.

- I’m wearing a new bra today. Every time I move my left arm, the underwire creaks. I don’t like it.

- The guy who unwittingly made my day last week when he walked down the street exactly in time to Stayin’ Alive – I saw him again yesterday morning. Only this time his jacket was in the plastic wrap of the dry cleaners and dangling from his hand instead of casually slung over his shoulder. And my iPod was playing Dire Straits instead of Bee Gees. That’s okay. It was sort of a one time thing anyway.

- Have you seen Tubedubber? You search for videos on YouTube and then choose a song to accompany the video to pretend like you’re creating something new. Here’s a combo I just made. (the song will start right away, so be warned)

- I am in dire need of releasing my barbaric yawp, but I can’t quite figure out how to make that happen. I’ll work on it this weekend. Wish me luck.

Friday list

A quick Friday list because I’m trying to finish a play over my lunch break.

- Watch this short film for a bit of insight into Lloyd Kahn. He creates really awesome books on hand-built shelters and is currently working on his latest book, which will be about tiny houses. Many of which, I’m sure, are cabins in the woods. Bliss.

- Normally I drink “good” coffee at home and don’t touch the stuff here. This week that has been different. Guess I needed more caffeine. Anyway, each time I’ve visited the coffee machine, there has been only about half a cup of coffee in the pot. Which means that the previous person who got coffee left just enough in the pot to not feel like they had to make a fresh pot. Man, people can be so fucking lazy.

- I turned off Google Instant. Too presumptuous for my taste. And obviously a lot of other people.

- Back to the play. It is interesting to me that as I continue to write plays, I’m writing fewer and fewer profanities. Yet my work is getting more and more edgy. I dig that. Can’t say the same for my fucking blog.  I still cuss like a motherfucker here. Shit yeah. Tits.

Friday list

  • When I moved my blog over to wordpress, I decided to utilize categories. I went back as far as the beginning of 2008, I think, adding categories to hundreds of old posts. This is useful for me and anyone who is in the mood for a particular theme. What I find interesting is that for the category “lists,” of which this post is a member, I almost always post on a Friday. I guess Friday must be my catch-all day for tidbits that occur to me during the week but don’t get their own post. So I’m going to try to do that every Friday. We’ll see how it goes.
  • This illustrated blog post perfectly displays why I tend to prefer internet-based communication. The entire blog is pretty funny stuff.
  • Have you checked out Regretsy? It’s a website that posts the most ridiculous items for sale on Etsy (a place where people sell hand crafted items) and then makes fun of them. I gave the site a cursory glance a few months ago but didn’t really dig into it until a couple of nights ago. I ended up staying up late and going back to the beginning of the blog and moving forward through time (I’m a wizard), and after 15 or 20 minutes, I was literally laughing out loud. Even though the site features things made by hand, many of the items are not appropriate to look at on your work computer and will invade your dreams if you view them right before bed. Trust me on that last part.
  • My post the other day about missing old school Houston seemed to resonate (positively and negatively) with some of my fellow citizens. I had offline conversations with a number of you about this topic. I think it’s fairly typical for people to have issues with the place where they grew up. Just as I’m upset with some of Houston’s changes, I’m also often first (well, maybe third) in line to defend Houston. Unlike other cities in Texas and beyond, Houston doesn’t obnoxiously push its quirkiness. Nor do you feel like you have to have money to be “somebody.” As I’ve said before, Houston is like that dorky kid in high school who doesn’t come from money and isn’t particularly attractive or athletic. In order to not be a total outcast, Houston has developed other skills. Art cars, Texas Medical Center, an openness to everyone no matter their ethnicity or background, copious amounts of tasty food, a growing arts scene, Lights in the Heights, etc. Houston is a city that doesn’t try too hard to be any one thing. But the weather sucks four or five months out of the year, there are huge flying cockroaches and ravenous mosquitoes, and a number of the places I used to go to with people who are no longer on this plane of existence are disappearing. Those things suck. Part of being in a relationship is being honest about the good and the bad. Houston and I have been together for a long time – I know its faults just as it knows mine. And, for the time being, I’m still here.
  • Today was the monthly potluck lunch for my department. There’s a bit of culinary roulette when we have this meal together, and some months are better than others. This was a good month. Plus, my coworker Holly brought sausage (Kielbasa), providing a great launching pad for inappropriate lunch conversation. Hopefully HR was not listening in.

    randomness of the week

    • “There’s nothing going on on the internet tonight” = words I actually said to James a night or two ago. I was obviously  not visiting the right websites. There’s always something going on on the internet.
    • Why did Roger Clemens have to testify in front of Congress about whether or not he used steroids? I get that it’s illegal and Carrot-Top-creepy, but why was Congress looking into the situation? If it’s time to take down the liars, professional athletes with shriveled up balls and girl-tits are fairly low on my list.
    • Dr. Laura was still pulling in a paycheck? Really? I thought she had gone off to start a work farm for gay autistic children years ago.
    • This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while. The title of the post is Outrage Over Plans to Build a Library Next to Sarah Palin, and one of the quotes is, “It’s like something’s on fire right in the middle of my head. Like I’ve eaten a red hot chili, but it’s gone up my nose tubes rather than down my ass tubes.” The Brits really have a way with words. Pure poetry. Thanks to Larry for sharing.
    • I’ve heard KTRU mentioned maybe five times over the course of my life until this week. I feel for the students at Rice and the folks who listened to the station on a regular basis, but (selfishly) I’m really looking forward to having a full-time NPR station in Houston. And regardless of where you fall on the deal, it wasn’t UH’s fault that Rice decided to sell their station and not tell anyone. So putting down UH (or NPR or classical music) isn’t really the central issue.
    • In a post about facebook today, Houston Press writer John Nova Lomax quoted the fight stupidization blog. Check it out.
    • In my 2.5+ years at PBS, I’ve only bothered to have my picture taken with two PBS celebrities: Neil DeGrasse Tyson and The Cat in the Hat. Both were cool mofos.

      cool mofo, flaccid hat

    (that shot reminds me of the picture of Stephen Colbert with his black friend Alan)

    I swear I’m not crazy. No really. Why are you walking away?

    • An update on Facebook Drama Queen: she recently posted about something that is generally reviled by most thinking people, stating her strong distaste for the topic. As if she is blazing a trail of rebellion against something that, in reality, pretty much everyone agrees is crap. Her sycophants chimed in with words of support for her  stance. She then posted that it was just how she felt, dammit, and screw the people who feel differently. (obviously I didn’t hide her, as I’d promised myself I would) (there’s just a certain level of entertainment here, mixed with vexation) (maybe I’m doing character research)
    • I was discussing weird fears with a friend the other day and feel compelled to share one of mine with you (not done with my lunch yet, so I need to keep writing). I have a mild case of OCD. It mostly involves me locking and re-locking our doors a few times each night before bed (the average is probably three, though I occasionally go up to five – I don’t count when I do it, I just do it until it’s “done”) (I think the number varies according to how stressed I am, but I’m not sure – I try not to obsess about it) (ha. ha.) But there are other not-grounded-in-reality fears that I have that are in no way (?) connected to my OCD. For instance, if I see a large ship in dry dock – like when my grandfather would take me to the Port of Houston where he used to work (he was editor of Port of Houston Magazine back in the day) – I immediately start to feel panic. Because, for whatever reason, I start worrying that I will be next to that boat when it is in the water, and I will be forced to swim down under the water to the bottom of the vessel, then go under it and have to come back up the other side. The enormity of the task – because there is way more boat under the water than above it – is what scares me. I’m sure it’s a metaphor for life or some bullshit like that, but it has me curious. What “crazy” fears like that do you have? Come on, you’re bound to have one or two. Please share.
    • A different thing that isn’t really a fear but more of a coping mechanism is something that my friend Lisa does too. When I’m going to fly, I carefully look at the people who are waiting for the same flight to make sure we don’t have one of each of the disaster movie characters in attendance. If I see a nun traveling with a guitar case, a very pregnant woman flying alone, a fat man who sweats too much and looks like he’s about to have a heart attack, a mixed-race couple very much in love, an old white couple with a sunburn who are very much not in love (and wearing shorts), a rebellious teenager with great hair, a religious teenager with great tits, a grizzled veteran with a slight limp and a distance in his eyes, a milquetoast guy who will end up being evil and an unwitting drug mule with a lisp, then I know the plane is going down. I have seen one or two or as many as three of these people waiting for the same flight but have been spared seeing them all. (I do not fall onto the list and am therefore not counted. Unless “sarcastic writer who likes to drink” is now one of the disaster staples.) (Now that I think about it, I probably do fall on the list. Shit.)

    one of those posts where I just list random thoughts

    (2006 in San Francisco) We were waiting to take the ferry to Alcatraz when we saw this awesome little girl. She was fearless, laughing the entire time. Hope she's still like that.

    • My lunch meeting with a board member that was scheduled for today (which meant no jeans on a Friday) was canceled. Lucky for me, I still got the box lunch from Jason’s Deli and was able to write this bullshit instead of sitting in a meeting.
    • I know I’m not the first to point this out, but every time someone posts on facebook or twitter about how busy they are, I really want to drive to their office, grab them by the collar and suggest that they not waste time posting on facebook and twitter about how busy they are. If they are, in fact, really that busy. When I’m really busy with work, not only do I not post about it on facebook or twitter, I don’t even get up to go to the bathroom. That’s what adult diapers are for. Hello, people.
    • Going to see Hunter Gatherers at Catastrophic Theatre tonight. Very excited to see this show as I missed it the first time they produced it. Also, I’m in sort of a dark/funny mood, which should be perfect for this particular production. Unlike some of the shows I go to, when I see a Catastrophic production I don’t have to bring my invisible knife or my real flask of scotch. (because their productions are good/interesting enough that I don’t want to stab myself with the invisible knife AND because DiverseWorks allows you to take your wine into the theatre with you)
    • Two nearby coworkers have loud, obnoxious ring tones on their cellphones. I don’t know what to do about this.
    • With the exception of days when I have meetings with people from “the outside,” I wear jeans to work every single day. Not just on Friday. So when they say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, I totally agree. I’m definitely dressing for the job that I want.

    very quickly

    - There is a mosquito in my office that has bitten me on the jaw. I can’t find it, but now I’m paranoid. A coworker just walked by as I was staring at my upper arm, thinking I’d felt the little bloodsucker land there. She didn’t even raise an eyebrow, which suggests I’m usually doing something odd when she walks by.

    - I smelled something horrible in the lunch room today – tuna popcorn. Seems one coworker made microwave popcorn (which has a very distinct, very strong odor) while another coworker made something that involved tuna. Everyone had deserted the scene without leaving a warning sign or anything, so I was struck unawares. ‘Twasn’t a pleasant surprise. I don’t recommend that olfactory combination at all.

    - On Father’s Day last weekend I asked my parents, who have done their share of garden tending, when I’d know it was time to pull up my onions. They asked if they’d flowered yet. Um, no. Not that long after planting, the sets sent some 8 to 12 inch green shoots through the dirt and into the air, and the shoots are now turning yellow and drying up. But no flowering. They suggested I reach down in the dirt and cop a squeeze to see what was going on. I stuck my hand in there yesterday and felt around. Huh, be damned if the freaking onions aren’t about the same size as they were when I planted the sets in March. Only difference is they have roots and yellow, wilted stalks now. Those bitches never grew. And I even put poop on them (out of a bag from Lowe’s – we aren’t THAT organic). Fucking peter pan onions don’t want to grow up. Still not giving up the gardening idea, but I do need to figure out what went wrong.

    bitches

    scratchy bitch:
    I hate it when a chick who is talking about some spoiled girl bullshit drops her voice into that scratchy valley girl register. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s a lazy throat thing. It bugs the shite out of me. Clear your throat, bitch!

    published, bitch:
    I signed the contract with the publisher yesterday. Can’t wait to have the book in my hand. It’ll be a small book. It’s a short play, after all. Betta recognize, bitch!

    what’s my name, bitch?:
    You know how I mentioned that a theatre that had produced the stuffed animal play listed it on their website as having been written by someone else? Well, they promptly fixed it and were very apologetic, which was nice. Then it happened again. The Houston Press has a listing for the Houston Fringe Festival that calls out our show in particular, listing our two play titles and playwrights. Only issue – they put Abby’s name on my play and my name on hers. I first saw this online and contacted the paper about it. They updated it online, but evidently it had already gone to print…good thing no one reads the paper anymore. Attribution is a big deal when you’re a writer, so I don’t feel like I’m asking for something unreasonable. I’m sure the writers at the Houston Press wouldn’t like someone else’s name as the byline on their stories. Then again, judging by the vitriol that has appeared in the comments section (hey! just like the Houston Chronicle!), maybe some of the writers wouldn’t mind someone else’s name being on their stuff. Hide, bitches!

    guess what…

    I wrote half a play this weekend. I’m making too much progress, so I thought I’d take a blog break. First rehearsal isn’t until a week from tomorrow, so I don’t want to finish too soon and lose this horrible feeling in my stomach. If I don’t have public humiliation and abject failure staring me in the face, it’s harder for me to finish. Yes, there’s something wrong with me.

    Random thoughts:
    - People who write about how much they love their significant other on facebook make me suspicious. Why would someone need to publicly talk about their private relationship? If you love your wife and think she’s sexy, go tell her. The rest of us don’t want to hear it. And it makes us think you’re cheating on her.
    - I once worked for a woman who wore a wig. When she was flustered, she would aggressively scratch the wig, causing it to move around on her head. This, in turn, made everyone in the room nervous that it would fall off. It never did.
    - Gerbera daisies are a bitch to grow. They literally need just the right trickle of water every day, given at just the right time, or they fall over like a Southern belle on a fainting couch.

    Okay. The play is calling. Later.

    on the occasion of my 40th birthday


    These three lovely friends (plus James – you can see him in the backyard if you look through the window) (you can also see me taking the picture if you look at the window) (trippy) threw me quite a 40th birthday bash. The party started at 8PM and the last guest left a little after 3AM. I had a hangover that lasted all day Sunday, and I felt every minute of my age. Today is much better. I’m going to have lunch with my parents and watch Zombieland tonight on the couch with James and the dogs.

    Early this morning, while I was dreaming, I turned 40. This is a monumental birthday. Not just because of the number in general but also because of life in particular. Losing my brother Mason almost four months ago changed the way I look at everything. My life. Your life. Our lives. Here’s where I’m at:

    - Once your perspective has been…enhanced, I think you should do what you can to try to keep it that way. I have let a lot of the petty irritations just float away. They aren’t important. I feel remarkably lighter as a consequence.

    - The George Eliot quote It is never too late to become what you might have been. is my new mantra.

    - I will never again waste time on people/relationships that don’t elevate both parties. Gone is my already small amount of patience for people who have constant drama, negative attitudes or are uninspired. I have no desire to “fix” people, nor do I want to be around people who try to “fix” me.

    - Instead of saying, “I want to do that one day,” I’m doing things today or at least putting in place an action plan to do them as soon as possible. I’ve always been interested in gardening. Now (thanks to a gift from James’ mom) I have a garden. I desired to make my home a retreat from the hustle and the bustle. (Remember: If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now. It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.) Now I live in a funky house in a part of town I’d never been in before with a big yard and a huge fireplace. I’ve planted flowers, and my hands have been intimate with the dirt. I continue to ride the creaky old swing in my backyard – knowing full well I’ll be landing on my ass soon – because it sho is fun until the fall. I feel most “myself” when I’m putting on a play, so I will do that more often. I’ve a long list of things to keep me busy for a while, and I’m sure items will be added as I go and as I watch you guys do cool things that inspire me.

    - At every opportunity, allowing for necessary “alone” time, I will hang out with my family and my friends and smile as I look into their faces, glad we have each other. I suggest you do the same.

    (Here’s my awesome birthday cake – thanks Dennis!:


    More pictures and party recap to come as soon as I get pix from my friend who played photog.)

    PS – Someone left a happy little surprise for me in my bathroom cabinet, I hope in response to my last entry. I’ll post a picture of the surprise when I do the party recap. And also who I think left it for me.

    the big four oh

    My age has never been an issue for me (perhaps because I’m immature), but I am approaching one of those “big” birthdays in a couple of months. In March, I will turn forty. I don’t think I would have been freaked out about it before Mason’s departure, but I can say for sure now that I will revel in every birthday I have for the rest of my life because I still get to have them. If you spend your twenties being a jackass and your thirties getting your shit together, I’m hoping your forties is where you figure it all out. Whatever “it” is.

    Here are just a few of the changes that I’ve noticed over the past few years.

    - The weather is a very interesting topic that must be discussed every day.

    - My tolerance for dumbasses is at an all-time low. (Granted, it was never that high to begin with.)

    - Though I don’t think that my face looks 40 (no, thanks, you don’t need to show me a mirror), I know that my hands do.

    - Gardening seems like something I could maybe get into.

    - Peeling hard boiled eggs is oddly satisfying.

    - It’s easier to say “no” than it used to be.

    - People with (self-created) drama are (gently) shown the door.

    - What I do during working hours has become less important than what I do the rest of the time.

    When my brother Tohner turned 30, he asked that each of his family members write something about the year they turned 30. Upon reflection, 30 was a fairly monumental year for me. A lot of great and horrible things happened during Y2K (except for Y2K, ironically), and it was a time of exponential personal growth. So I’m curious – of those of you who have already celebrated 40 – what was that year like for you? If you’re willing to share, shoot me an email. Or, if you’d like to share it with the tubes of the internet, post your story in the comments.

    snippity snippets

    - The people who just a couple of weeks ago were bitching and moaning about the cold weather are now bitching about the humidity. They will find no sympathy with me either direction. I was enjoying the cold snap. And 100 percent humidity with 70 degree temps is also fine. Any change from the 99 degrees with wet, heavy air of Houston’s long summer is welcome.

    - I had a dream last night that I was walking to my car around 2 in the morning, leaving a bar, when a guy I determined to be “bad” came up to me and started hassling me. I stabbed him in the side of the head with a blue Bic pen. I ran to my car and looked at the piece of paper he’d given me before I stabbed him – he was trying to sell me candles and body oil. Figure that one out.

    - I’m learning that there’s no rhyme or reason to this grieving business. It’s like a shitty rollercoaster. Some days you’re going up, though it’s not exciting or fast and the view kind of sucks, and some days you’re going down, down, though the descent is slow and you’re not looking forward to reaching the bottom. I was getting worried that I wasn’t doing it “right,” but I realized from talking to other people that there is no right way. You feel what you feel when you feel it. That’s the long and short of it.

    - Leaving UH last week I drove past an old panel truck that was covered with propaganda. Tip to tail. I think it was supposed to be mostly anti-choice (judging by the large pictures of feti with “don’t kill me” underneath), but there was also a larger-than-life picture of two men kissing with the caption “sodomy is birth control” or something like that and then the quaint “AIDS = death.” I’m not sure if I’m getting any of this right. It was a lot to take in while also keeping my car on the road. Though I looked when I drove past, I already knew it would be an old white man. I didn’t count on how hillbilly he looked. I mean, he spelled abortion and sodomy right and somehow had the wherewithal to locate and then affix a huge picture of two half-naked dudes kissing. But when you looked at him…Cletus. He was probably ramping up for the big rally those fools had in front of the new Planned Parenthood building on Monday. I gave him a big laugh as I drove by. He looked at me with disdain and then went back to fantasizing about fucking his chainsaw or dipping dog shit or barbecuing his neighbors. Whatever scary business he’s trying to hide from everyone by putting all that bullshit on his truck.

    The Heights – by the numbers

    Tonight will be the last night I spend in my house in the Heights. Tomorrow I’ll be sleeping in a different house in a completely different part of town. More on that later. As a farewell to the place that has been my ‘hood for half my life, I thought I’d do a recap by the numbers.

    *consecutive years in the Heights: 17
    *places lived: 2
    *boyfriends consumed: 4 (the last one is still kicking)
    *plays written: 5
    *vows to become vegetarian: 1
    *months spent vegetarian: 1.5
    *bicycles stolen from me: 2
    *bicycles stolen by me: 0
    *jobs held: 14
    *dogs raised: 3
    *children raised: 0
    *average number of bags of candy given out each Halloween: 8
    *speeding tickets: 1 (on my 30th birthday)
    *complaints about valet-only restaurants and the destruction of bungalows wrought by the yuppies: is infinity a number?
    *4th of Julys spent on the Sawyer Street bridge watching the fireworks while straddling a bike and openly sipping a beer: ~10
    *4th of Julys spent standing on the sidewalk in front of Satellite Lounge watching the fireworks and surreptitiously sipping a beer: 1
    *hurricanes that arrived as expected: 1
    *tropical storms that stranded me on the other side of I-10 overnight: 1
    *family holidays hosted: 4
    *burns from hosting family holidays while drinking too much wine: 1
    *memories made: innumerable

    I’ll miss you, old friend. But I’ve got shit to do.

    one flu over the cuckoo’s nest

    I rarely get sick. Maybe once every couple of years. So when I found myself in the throes of whatever nasty illness enveloped me last week, I felt like I was an inch tall. It wasn’t the flu but something more nasty and longer lasting. My voice sounded like Kathleen Turner drank a pot of scalding hot coffee, removed the ensuing blisters from her throat with a small metal rake and then gargled salt water. I have coughed so much my abdomen is sore. But I can finally breathe through my nose again. I feel like I can complete a thought now that my brain is getting enough air.

    Even though I can complete a thought, that doesn’t mean my brain is ready to come out of hibernation. So instead of writing something pithy, I thought I’d share a few hot links for you to check out.

    Fuck You, Penguin
    This is a wonderful balance to saccharine sweet cutie patootie animal sites and youtube videos.

    Kickstarter
    A place to fund interesting projects. Hey, the NEA no longer gives out individual grants…

    Advanced Style
    I have the fantasy that some day I’ll dress fashionably (which is very different from dressing in fashion, which I never hope to do). The great thing about aging is that you – or at least I – care less and less about what other people think. That frees you to wear fingerless knitted gloves and 80 bracelets if you wanna. I especially love the dapper gents on this site.

    blah-di-blah

    - The former Pig Stand on Washington Ave. is about to open up as a two-story sports bar. Ye gads.

    - Finally found a use for Twitter. I was going home from a meeting last Monday night when I encountered a roadblock on Montrose at Waugh. While sitting there not moving, I logged on to Twitter to see if anyone had posted information about what was happening. Someone had. So, while I have little interest in learning what my lovely friends ate for lunch (though I still love you), I do appreciate using the site as a way to obtain immediate news (and share when I’ve written a blog because it brings me new readers). The only way to manage the online part of my life is to pick and choose what I spend my time doing (both reading and writing). I’d rather spend 15 minutes writing a blog entry than 15 minutes writing 100 Twitter updates. And that’s okay. The only other option is to go totally luddite in a cabin in the woods, and I’m not at that point. Yet.

    - On the way home from grocery shopping Sunday morning (before 10AM), I saw a motorcyclist pulled over on 610 near the Woodway exit. He was standing next to his motorcycle…wearing a rifle. Is that legal? To ride around on a motorcycle with a rifle strapped to your body? Seems it should at least be in a carrier or something. Maybe it’s not as intimidating when he’s in motion because his hands are busy operating the motorcycle. But driving by someone who could shoot you with one easy movement is not a comfortable situation in which to find yourself. I realize, of course, that living in Houston means that I’m probably never very far from people with guns. It was just such an odd thing to see on a sunny Sunday morning.

    - There are a shitload of cameras on I-10 between Studemont and Washington. What’s that about? I’ve been noticing cameras more and more in this city. We’re turning into London. Mind the humidity.

    - One of the new theatre groups I’ve been working with (Horse Head Theatre) is this week’s Cultured Cocktails featured artist. Happy hour is from 5PM to 10PM this Thursday (June 18) at Boheme on Fairview, with a portion of the proceeds going to Horse Head. I’m excited because I hear the place has good sangria. I love good sangria and am even sort of fond of shitty sangria.

    writer’s block

    One of my friends on facebook posted a message about his writer’s block, asking for suggestions on how to overcome it. Here’s what I recommended:

    1. Alcohol
    2. Exercise
    3. Do something purely physical and not at all mental
    4. Have a deadline
    5. Be accountable to someone else to finish a script
    6. Do something artistic in a different medium (photography, dance, etc.)
    7. Walk away from it and don’t give it power over you – it’ll want your attention badly enough to make it easy for you to write
    8. Ask your muse to give a brother a break

    Not sure if it’ll help him, but each of those things has worked for me at different times.

    And I hope they work for me again. I had tea after work (it’s the new happy hour!) with an actor/director friend of mine yesterday. I started running my mouth about a few of the plays that are in my head (always a good idea to talk about your story ideas in a coffee shop full of people with laptops), and it occurred to me that perhaps I should spend less time talking and more time writing. So there.

    Maybe I’ll write a play this weekend.

    effluvia

    Jeff Balke tagged me today. I’m in a good mood since Cletus and Mister Potter have left the building, so I decided to play.

    I live in mortal fear of the unknown thing or things that live under my bed.
    Each night after I turn out the light, I have to make a harrowing journey to the bed. I’m fine getting across the room, but once I reach the foot of the bed I start moving a little faster. I’m pretty sure my heart rate increases, but I wouldn’t know for sure because I’m distracted. Waiting for the hand. The cold, strong hand that I know is going to reach out and grab my bare ankle. Oh, I know it’ll happen. And even though I’ve prepared myself for the experience, even though I know it’s an inevitability, I’ll still probably pee a little.

    I give people nicknames.
    I tend to give nicknames to people who aren’t in the inner circle (with the exception of my friend Morgan). I don’t know why I do it. Sometimes it’s because I can’t remember/don’t know someone’s name and I need some way to refer to them. Sometimes it’s out of admiration. More often, it’s out of disdain. Some examples of my nickname-giving prowess: Stretchy Pants, Mashed Potato Girl, TMM (Thoroughly Modern Morgan), Nantucket, Arthur (for a small, drunk woman), the Hobbit and one of my most imaginative – Dickhead.

    Sometimes I just…know things.
    Call it ESP or being cuckoo or whatever, but I occasionally know things that are beyond my realm of experience. This doesn’t apply to lottery tickets.

    I have a huge crush on Jon Stewart.
    I don’t typically credit entertainers with having a direct impact on me, but I make an exception for Jon Stewart. He just breaks down the stupidity in a way I’ve never seen before. Especially during interviews. One recent segment that stands out to me is when he talked to Mike Huckabee about gay marriage. He’s thoughtful, concise, funny, smart and he has balls.

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    Mike Huckabee Pt. 2
    www.thedailyshow.com
    Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

    I once went on something called “the burger journey.”
    My friend Dennis and I decided to try all (well, most) of the wonderful burger shacks inside the loop a few years ago. This was to be a Thursday lunch excursion. The first week was just the two of us. Then the second week there were three. And then four. By about week 15, there were ten or twenty people meeting in the lobby of the Alley and bombarding Mom and Pop burger joints with way more business than they could handle. Fast forward a few years, and here I am. Haven’t had a burger or fried potato since July. My last meal, as it were, was at a place out in the country. And it was truly one of the best burger/tots meals I’ve ever eaten. Thanks, Mr. Walsh.

    Okay – that was only five, and I was supposed to do seven. My lunch break is over. And, really, haven’t you had enough of this bullshit?

    Please feel free to leave random facts about yourself in the comments.

    etc.

    - Just saw a job listing for a local arts organization that listed the following:

    Salary: Commiserate with experience

    Does that mean that instead of a paycheck someone comes to your desk to lament the shitty salaries we make in the non-profit world? Or that someone feels sorry for you for getting a liberal arts degree?

    - The Burger King “virgin” commercials suck. Can you imagine someone from the bush eating a cheeseburger laced with trans fats and high fructose corn syrup and actually enjoying it? I would think that someone who truly has never eaten anything plastic like that would immediately regurgitate it and kick the camera guy in the nuts.

    - I’m itching to get out of town. I really enjoyed this year’s road trip and wouldn’t mind doing another one of those. I just takes so damn long to get out of Texas. Two days of your trip are spent getting from Houston to the border and back. Assuming you are travelling west, which is a pretty good assumption. We were going to do Christmas with the family in Big Sur this year, but that plan changed once the new Jackson started cooking. (He’s due to arrive in late January, by the way.) The more I travel, the more I want to travel. And sometimes the more I want to move away. But that’s another story.

    - It’s been great having a little taste of winter (between days where the high is near 80). My skin hates it, though. I don’t know what I would do if I lived in a cold climate. I guess all of my skin would eventually peel off and be replaced with…what…scales? My hands are so dry they a) look like they belong to an 80-year-old and b) have knuckles that are so raw they start bleeding at the slightest tap. Yeah, pretty. When I worked at the grocery/feedstore in the country, the old men would put bag balm on their hands during the winter. A little for the cow’s teats, a little for my hands. Maybe I should get some of that. I just worry that my fingers will slip off the keyboard.

    welcome

    This blog is still seeing a lot of action since the “news” report last week. For any new readers I’ve picked up, here’s a quick 101 on the Pithy blog.

    - There is a lone hair that grows out of the bottom of my chin. I blog about it when it shows up, which is every few months, even though no one wants to hear about it.

    - “Rat dog” refers to my rat terrier/chihuahua mix Stella. She’s four years old and is 10 pounds of sweet/bitchy splendor.

    - I constantly bitch about the gentrification of my favorite Houston neighborhood, the Heights, even though it does nothing to stop the destruction.

    - I cuss too much.

    - Most of my online time is spent writing in my two blogs and reading the blogs of others. If you know of a funny one you think I should read, please leave a link in the comments.

    - Someday I hope to own a dog farm, where dogs that don’t have a place to live can stay. It will be a place with rolling hills. In the morning, I will walk out on the front porch in my robe, clasping a cup of hot tea, and I will watch herds (dens?) of dogs running over the hills. There will be one dog that gets to live in the house and will be reviled by all of the other dogs. I will have dorm-style housing, far from my house, where vet grad students will live while they go to school. In exchange for a free place to live, they will take care of the dogs. And clean the dog shit. This will probably never happen, but I like to picture it anyway.

    - Another fantasy of mine is to have a writing cabin in the woods that is just within sight of my house. This one is a little more within reach. I have not yet designed the cabin, but I do know that it will have unfinished wood walls, one or two windows, a clean desk and lots of books. If the cabin cannot be in the woods (because I don’t end up in a house that is situated near that many trees), a Japanese tea garden would be a worthy alternative setting. And may end up being the preferred alternative, actually.

    - I once went on something called the “burger journey” with my friend Dennis. My body paid the price. I haven’t had a burger in over four months. My body now thanks me. Dennis does not. The cheese stands alone.

    effluvia

    • I wish Amy Goodman (NPR) would occasionally clear her throat.
    • Why do I read the comments on www.chron.com? They make me angry, and they paint a pretty sorry picture of the state of humanity.
    • We spent $331.39 on gas during the Grand Canyon road trip. Used 91 gallons, for an average price of $3.64/gallon. Average mpg was 34, though there were a few tanks closer to the 40mpg range when we were in higher elevations.
    • I’m looking for a couple of bikes on craigslist. Since I’ve had two bikes stolen over the past 15 years (three, if you count the one I gave James for Christmas a few years ago), I’ve decided to only buy used from now on. My favorite way to spend the 4th is to ride a bike over to the Sawyer/Taylor bridge that crosses I-10 close to downtown and watch the fireworks from there. You get a nice ride through the Heights, and the bridge is always covered with families, which means there are a lot of little kids who are ooohhhing and aaaahhhing along with you. I’m hoping to find a bike deal today or tomorrow and make the transaction happen before nightfall on Friday. If not, there’s always the option of buying a couple of Schwinn from Target. But that’s less interesting than getting a cool old beach cruiser with a rack on the back for a cooler.

    snow?

    My victory today – I spelled hors d’oeuvres correct on the first try.

    Though the characters on Barney are not mascots in the traditional sense, I still want to twist their little fabric heads off.

    Snow is predicted for the two days we’re staying at the Grand Canyon. That’s exciting – I’ve never really been in snow. Just the piddly shit that southeast Texas drops every decade or so. The low temps will be in the 20s. This makes me doubly sure that I’m going to buy some Scotch for this trip. I’m really not drinking much these days, but snow at the Canyon calls for some nips of something warm and tasty. I’m sure I’ll take to it quite easily. I still like to drink, I just don’t like the way I feel the next day. But when you’re on vacation, the rules don’t apply.

    I wonder if Levon Helm and Tom Waits would get along? I’m listening to music at work. I just heard a Waits’ song and now I’m listening to The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Both men are cool, but in different ways. Well, their music and stage presence are cool. I don’t know anything about them personally, nor do I wish to. Usually, if I start looking into more information about people, they become less attractive. Like when I found out Beck was a scientologist.

    there’s never any traffic on Friday morning

    Maya Angelou is on Sesame Street today. Yesterday it was REM.

    This morning I was blow drying my hair, bent over at the waist. As a droplet of water made what must be a Niagara Falls-like journey off my ass, I was confused for a short moment as to what time of day it was. I’m not going cuckoo. It’s just that when you do the same thing over and over again, day after day, year after year, the details sometimes begin to lose meaning. How many times have I stood on the bathmat, drying my hair upside down, and felt a droplet of water run off some part of my body? Hundreds of times. Thousands of times. What does it mean? Nothing. What’s the meaning of life? Banana.

    What’s it like to be followed by a moonshadow? Is it fun or scary? Perhaps I shouldn’t listen to Cat Stevens at work.

    I think the thing that will drive me from Houston some day won’t be the soulless gentrification of neighborhoods that I used to dig or the fact that corners such as the SW one at Westheimer/Kirby are slowing becoming unrecognizable or the city’s obvious disdain for anything “old.” No, the thing that will make me leave some day is whatever it is in the air that makes my right eye water and feel like it’s getting pushed out of socket. I don’t know what it is. Tree pollen. Pollution. Cat dander. Whatever it is causes headaches on a painfully regular basis and makes my eye drippy. Pretty girl.

    trying to get back to blogging

    As I mentioned in my last entry, I was working on an essay for Tohner about my 30th birthday and the ensuing year. I ended up with four single-spaced pages, which isn’t that much writing, but it took me about eight hours to do. There was just so much to say, and I was trying to keep it interesting. Dad said something about how he wished he’d done something like this every year – at the time it was happening rather than years later. I thought that was a great idea, so I’m starting now. I’ll be 38 in a few days, and I’ve already begun the wrap-up of 37. This was actually a pretty eventful year, and I don’t know that I would remember that, say, a decade from now. I like the concept of doing a where was I/where am I going exercise each year in late March. Time is moving faster and faster (the old people weren’t lying when they told us that when we were kids), and it’s hard to see the forest sometimes.

    If you were to drive through the Alley’s parking garage (which is 13 stories and mostly populated with the cars of workers from the surrounding law firms, banks, and energy companies), you would notice a few cars with Fight Stupidization stickers (which is totally cool to see, by the way). Since others are representing Six Of One Productions, I thought I better do the same. But I really didn’t want to put a sticker on my pristine paint. My brother Mason recommended using a sticky magnet strip, which I happened to have at home, so I’m now sporting the sticker on the back of my car. Hopefully no one will be looking closely enough to see that it will easily peel off. As always, the offer remains for me to mail you a sticker. You just have to promise to display it on your vehicle, cubicle wall, ass or other area that people look at.

    I’m wearing a suit and a new bra today. I’m not comfortable.

    Tina Fey was on Sesame Street this morning.

    I have a bug to get the hell outta Dodge for a while. I’m not sure where I want to go, but I want to go somewhere. A road trip in the new car would be fun. And probably cheaper than flying somewhere. Switching jobs with no break in between probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve had, but it was the right financial move. Now that I’ve stabilized over here, I need a mental break. I’m starting to get claustrophobic sitting at a desk all day. I’m freaking out, man. Seriously.