tick/spam/Omaha/breasts

(sorry for the lack of narrative in this post–it’s a good reflection of the inside of my brain right now)

ticktickticktick
The theme song sound for 60 Minutes always bums me out. For decades now, that ticking clock has signaled the end of the weekend. Doesn’t matter if I hear it on a Wednesday afternoon or a Friday night. It’s Pavlovian.

fee-fi-fo-fanna
There’s a certain someone from a far away place who is interested in being my pen pal. Here, check out the email I just received:

Hello! What is your name? At supervision of your structure I very much have become interested in you. My name is Anna. If you want with me to communicate then write to me. If you write to me do not forget to specify yours e-mail of the address that I could answer to you.

Quit checking out my structure, “Anna.”

Omaha
In May, I’ll be able to check another state off my list when I spend a week and a half in Omaha for the Great Plains Theatre Conference. The Singularity will receive a reading and talkback, and I’ll get to spend some time just being a playwright around other people who are doing the same (many of whom probably get to just be a playwright more often than I).

monstrous breasts
Said by me in my kitchen last week, “Wow, look at the size of these breasts. All three of them are HUGE.” James didn’t know what to say as I jiggled them in his face.

The question I have is: What the fuck are they feeding these chickens? Has anyone else noticed how large chicken breasts have been lately? This is across brands, from organic to extra-pesticidey. I’m used to getting packages with four “regular” size breasts–solid B or C cup–but lately I’ve been getting more like two or three DDs. Unless these chickens are also working their legs, I’m not sure how they have the strength to carry their upper bodies around all day.

 

Monday dump

some of the ingredients for last night’s stir fry – it was so colorful, I had to stop and take a picture – now my phone smells like garlic

  • When we go to California on vacation, one of the ways we offset being in an expensive part of the country is by preparing some of our meals instead of eating out the whole time. We always go to Trader Joe’s to get inexpensive food and–more importantly–inexpensive wine. I’m excited that TJ is opening stores in Texas. The first Houston-area store opened in the Woodlands last month, and two more (actually in Houston) will open before the end of the year. We went to the Woodlands location this weekend and weren’t disappointed. In fact, for the hour or so we spent in the store, I felt like we were on vacation. Then we walked outside, and I remembered where I was.
  • I follow a lot of tiny house blogs. You often see the same houses (literally the same photos) over and over, from blog to blog. Which is fine. What’s not fine is that one blog, Tiny House Swoon, has decided to charge 49 cents for you to view their posts. Now, if these folks were searching out the houses and taking the photos themselves, no problem. But they’re just posting things they’re finding on the internet. Needless to say, I unsubscribed.
  • While showering this morning I was thinking that if I were to open an Italian restaurant, I’d call it Manipesto. (some people sing in the shower, some people come up with stupid names for shit) Figured I wasn’t the first person to put that word together, and google confirmed it.
  • A short play I wrote a few years ago–Militia Slumber Party, or Embracing the New World Order–will be produced by Revolution Theatre Company in the Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival next month. Revolution Theatre is an awesome repeat customer–this is the third time they’ve produced my work for this festival. If you’re in Chicago, you should check it out. The festival goes for 72 hours straight. I’ve always wondered what kind of stuff is happening in those overnight slots. Because the audience is bound to be drunk. Or over-caffeinated.
  • Got up to pee in the middle of the night. (note to self: quit drinking 20 ounces of water before going to bed) Guess I was half-asleep (and hunched over) because I ran face-first into the wall. Hoping this isn’t emblematic of the kind of week that’s ahead.

cunning folk

Wanted to knock out a quick post before my friend Lisa comes over for dinner. She’s in town from New Haven, which always makes me think of witches. I guess the “haven” part gets transmogrified in my brain to coven or something. It also seems like a place where Stephen King would set a story about a professor who finds a severed head in his bathroom cabinet that helps him write his lectures. Until it eats his face in his sleep. (Be back momentarily…going to google. Witches, not Stephen King.)

Actually, there were witches hanged and otherwise dispatched in New Haven. So maybe some dim, distant memory from high school history still resides in a part of my brain that the wine hasn’t gotten to yet. While off on a tangent reading about witches, I ran across a wiki page for cunning folk, men or women who practice the magic arts. Though I don’t truck with magic, I would sort of like to be known as a cunning folk. Just make sure you spell it right.

I’m always trolling websites about small houses, living off the grid, etc.. Today, thanks to my friend Reddit, I found this great (and exhaustive) collection of photos chronicling a couple’s redo of a small camper. As I looked at their smiling faces, all I could think about was what those photos would look like if James and I were doing that project. We tend to have…different approaches to getting shit done, so it’s doubtful that we would be as merry as these folks (who, I realize, might have used their editorial discretion when choosing photos). It would be more like, you’d see one of us working alone while the other was kicking something in the background, obviously yelling profanities. But, hey, we always end up getting it done.

I’m out. Lisa’s here, and it’s sort of rude to be typing when I should be making dinner.

 

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.

open letter

Dear Man Jogging Down I-10 Around 7PM Tonight During Heavy Traffic,

I saw you for the first time a couple of hours ago on my way home from work. I was driving my car on the freeway when something caught my eye. It was something that moved unlike a car. A bit of whimsy in the midst of smog-inducing, butt-numbing traffic. It was you, jogging down the shoulder of the freeway as if you had been loosed upon the tundra after a period of confinement.

You were in my sights for no more than a moment or two, yet I still took in the details of your being. You were wearing a white shirt, black shorts and exercise shoes of some flavor. Your clothes were snug, as if you wanted nothing to slow you down. You had good form and appeared to move quickly, though not as quickly as I was, even in traffic, sitting on my ass in my car, listening to music, looking at you. I wonder how many other drivers almost popped their necks, jerking their heads to look to the right. At you, jogging down the shoulder of the freeway as if you were on the first leg of a short run.

There exists the possibility that your car broke down and you’d forgotten your cellphone, so you were forced to let your feet do the jogging. But you weren’t in work attire (unless you work as a model for bike shorts). And you weren’t moving like someone who had the misfortune to break down on the freeway. Granted, I’ve never seen anyone jogging away from their abandoned car, but I would imagine there would be a resigned hunch in their shoulders, a “why me” sort of gait. But you, you were jogging down the shoulder of the freeway as if you were in the midst of an urban workout that requires adrenaline and a death wish. Or as if you were running from zombies–a cautionary tale for the rest of us. No, I know what it was.

You were jogging down the shoulder of the freeway the way I would jog to a wine and puppy party.

Whatever your destination and whatever your reason(s), I hope you made it where you were going. Thanks for making the drive home more…confusing.

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.

a slightly different way to go green

a new option in mudflaps

At the airport about a month ago, while waiting for a small, propeller-powered plane to bring me back to Houston, I met a young woman who cut a tough swagger. Covered in tattoos. Face, neck, arms, legs. Probably other places. And she had that “don’t fuck with me” look on her face. So I didn’t.

An unsupervised little girl ran up to her and said something about her tattoos. Her tough demeanor cracked a bit as she chatted with the girl, who eventually ran off. She said, “Kids are so honest. They always ask me about this stuff while other people just stare.” We started to have a conversation.

She mentioned that she’d graduated from trucker school earlier that day and was heading to Houston to visit with her son before going on the road. She wasn’t sure yet what her route would be or what she’d be hauling. Until meeting this woman, I didn’t realize how many pent up questions I have about the truck drivin’ life.

I guess it’s the open road thing. There’s a certain romanticism about it. Long haul truckers see America. They travel through different seasons in the same day. They eat at funky places along the interstate full of other people from elsewhere, everybody moving moving moving and all on a schedule. They spend most of their time alone, and I’ll bet they think some weird thoughts. There are long stretches of road – like I-10 once you get out in west Texas, where the speed limit is 80 and it looks like you’re on another planet – that lend themselves to reflection, imagination and, probably, paranoia.

We’ve made huge leaps forward in so many areas of our lives in the past decade, but someone still has to physically haul all that cheap shit from China that you buy at Walmart. And bring food from ports around the country because we don’t grow our own and we want to have apples in February. So, while blue collar jobs that pay a living wage are disappearing by the bushel, truckers are still in demand. A hold out, at least until teleportation is mastered.

None of this is the interesting part of this story. The newly-minted trucker told me that one of the last lessons she learned in truck driving school was not to put anything green on her truck. It seems that something green, say, tied to the antenna, is a sign to truck stop hookers to come calling. Not having green on the truck doesn’t get you off the hook, necessarily. The students were told that if they were approached by a prostitute whose services they were not interested in, they should politely decline. Otherwise they might wake up with a slashed tire or two. In addition to truckers, I don’t know much about prostitutes. But I would wager that the ones who service truck stops are probably some tough mofos.

Next time you find yourself at a truck stop in the evening time, take a gander at the trucks. See who’s sporting the green. If this cab’s a rockin, don’t come a knockin.

(PS – a quick google for this factoid has not been successful – all I know is that this chick believed it, and I believed her – in my googling I did learn that asking on CB if someone wants “commercial company” is another solicitation tactic) (The More You Know™)

well that was odd

Someone just knocked on the door/rang the bell. We weren’t expecting anyone. I wasn’t wearing a bra. I quickly put one on.

I look through the peep hole. A small, chubby woman or maybe a child has his/her back to the door. I open the door. The dogs are going crazy. It’s a cacophony of barking and a twister of prancing energy behind me. The dogs are ready to eat whoever is standing there. The person turns around when I open the door. It’s a kid. About ten or eleven. Seems frightened of the dogs, so I step outside and shut the door.

He asks, “Do you have a son?”

Uh, no? We don’t have kids.

“Oh. I thought because of the basketball goals…”

No. We play with those.

“Oh. Okay.”

And that was it. He walked back to his bike, which was parked in our driveway, and rode off. He was carrying a white plastic grocery bag with something in it – rocks? pecans? child-sized doses of crack? I don’t know. And I don’t know why I didn’t think to ask him – if we did have a son, what then? Was he going to challenge him to a game of basketball? Would it make sense to challenge the child who lives in a house with not one but two basketball goals? Obviously anyone with two basketball goals in the driveway takes that shit seriously.

Of course, we don’t take it that seriously. We just happen to have two goals in the driveway. I gave James a goal for his birthday a couple of years ago, and we ended up with Mason’s goal from his house. If you are interested in taking the goal that I gave James (Mason’s is much nicer, so we’re keeping that one), let me know. It ain’t fancy, but it gets the job done. Make sure to call first.  We may be busy playing HORSE with a ten or eleven year old chubby boy who doesn’t even live on this block who goes randomly door-to-door looking for someone to play with.

cleaning out my drafts folder

(shaking fist) You killed my shrubbery!

– I’m glad that one of my goals for 2011 wasn’t to write in my blog more often. If it were, I’d be failing horribly. But it wasn’t, so I’m not. This post will be a bit random – I’m cleaning out a couple of posts that were begun and then abandoned because 2011 has been a busy, busy year so far.

– Look at our poor philodendron (above). It is normally about six feet tall and ten feet across, but now it’s a sad, wilted little thing. It froze like this last winter too, so I know that it will come back bigger and better than ever. Until it returns to its former glory, which will probably be May or June, I’ll have to wear clothes when walking by the picture window in the living room. No more shrubbery coverage.

– I was hanging out at a friend’s house the other day and a Rachel Ray cooking show was on. I used to watch the food porn channel pretty regularly but have moved on to other TV pastures the past year or two, so the last time I saw Rachel Ray she was doing that cutesy, schmaltzy, nicknames-for-everything routine. I guess she has a new show now, and she’s so subdued that she almost comes across as depressed. In the episode I saw, she rarely made eye contact with the camera, didn’t smile and seemed disengaged from what she was doing. I didn’t exactly long for the upbeat bullshit, but I did find it sort of disturbing.

Original Works Publishing is translating their playscript catalog into ebook format (including my play) for sale on Amazon. They’re the first play publishing and licensing company to launch its catalog to be read on Kindle and iPad.  In theory, I don’t like e-readers. I love the tactile sensation of reading a book. I love the way the spines complement and contradict each other on my shelves. I love marking my progress through a book not only intellectually and/or emotionally, but also physically as whatever I’m using for a bookmark (receipt, business card, an actual bookmark) moves from beginning to end. I love that when I’m deep into a book, a bomb could go off next to me and I’d barely notice. I love the stack of four or five books I always have next to my bed, ready to be read. None of this do you get from an e-reader.

However, it’s different reading a 10 or 100 page script in that format. I’m used to reading scripts on my computer because that’s where I write my own. So it’s not difficult making the jump. I’ve started buying scripts on Amazon (most are around $5 or $7) and have been pleased to read new plays on demand. If I were to produce one of these plays, of course, I’d buy the script in paper form – you have to be able to make notes and interact with the writing in a way that ebooks don’t allow. But this is a low-commitment way to check out new work (or old work, if that’s your thing) for not much money.

– Hope to get back to regular blogging soon, but I’m not promising anything. I will be announcing a call to action in the fight stupidization campaign pretty soon. Watch this space for details.

there’s a difference between a tap and a knock

Tap Vs. Knock
Yesterday afternoon, Stella the ratdog and I were having a siesta in the living room. While we were lying on the couch – resting but not sleeping – there was a very light tap-tap-tap on the front door. Not a knock. A tap. The dogs immediately sprang into motion, barking like it was the end of the world as they always do when someone’s at the door. Not wanting to open up to friend or foe with a blanket and pillow on the couch (sloth is a sin, after all), I jumped up, grabbed the bed stuff off the couch and tossed it into my office, put on my glasses and went to the door. Maybe 20 seconds had passed. Max.

I looked through the peephole before opening up. No one was there, unless it was a child who was too short for me to see. Not falling for that one, girl scout cookie seller. I went into the kitchen to get a better view of the front, and there was a guy walking up our driveway. White dude in jeans and a white button down who had almost reached the street. Our house is set pretty far back from the road, so he must have turned around immediately after tapping. Didn’t wait a reasonable amount of time for someone to answer. He got into the passenger side of a dirty red work pickup that had a gold logo of sorts on the door. The truck drove off. I opened the front door to see if there was maybe a flier for landscaping services or something. Nothing. I went back inside to discuss all of this with James. Then I saw the truck drive by again. Didn’t see them  stop at any other houses on our street. Creepy.

It’s not a big deal. Maybe the guy did put a business card in the door, and the card blew off before I got to it. Maybe he realized he had the wrong house when he heard dogs barking inside. The thing that bothered me the most about this situation was the tapping. Who taps on someone’s front door? You tap on a hospital door when visiting a friend, wanting to make sure they’re covered before you enter. You tap on your boss’ door before bringing them the Pensky file. You don’t tap on the front door of a house if you want someone to answer.

Perhaps it was the Raven.

the time I met Neil deGrasse Tyson

(I can’t believe I didn’t write about this when it happened. If I did, I can’t find it in my blog’s archives.)

Back in 2008, I started working for my local PBS station. I’d grown up watching Channel 8 and considered it my “cable” station until I moved in with a guy who ordered the kind of cable that you pay for each month. From the Electric Company’s “HEY YOU GUYYYSSSSSS!” of my youth to the documentaries, cooking shows and British comedies of my adulthood, Channel 8 always provided mentally healthy alternatives to other local broadcasters. So I had a particular love of this station that was equal parts nostalgia and current day appreciation.

Shortly after I started working here, we launched a quarterly lecture series. I was beyond excited when the first speaker was announced: Neil deGrasse Tyson. If you don’t know who he is, you should check him out. He first came to my attention from appearances on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and in numerous science documentaries. He’s a captivating speaker, a great writer, a cool cat and has the ability to talk about science in a way that is accessible but not dumbed down.

We had a few tickets to give away to his lecture, so I posted on facebook that the first couple of people to respond would get a ticket from me. My friend Rob Mungle, a very funny – and some might say “edgy” – stand up comic in Houston, wanted a ticket. I gave his name to our events person, who also signed him up for the VIP reception, which was to be populated with representatives from the foundation sponsoring the lecture, some HoustonPBS board members, a couple of other special guests and staff.

After Tyson’s energizing and fascinating talk and the ensuing Q&A, those of us with the VIP passes moved to a little room with wine and dessert. James and I met up with my friend Rob, and we waited with the true VIPs for Tyson to arrive. He was just as friendly and funny off-stage as he was on. He answered a few questions from the room in general, including something deep from my friend Rob. All I remember is that it was about time travel. In the course of asking his question, Rob off-handedly mentioned that he is a stand up comic. Tyson stopped him right there, gave Rob a hug and said something to the effect of: “Stand up comedians hold the soul of the earth in their hands. They show us who we are right now.” He said more than that, much more eloquently than what I’ve written. It was a lovely paean to comedy/comics, and I tend to agree with him that (good) comedians provide unflinching mirrors to society, just as good plays do.

So he says all of this lovely stuff about comedians, and my friend Rob says, “Nah, man. I mostly just do jokes about titty bars.” Ahhh, just writing it out still makes me laugh. First off, Tyson, Rob, James and I laughed, but the rest of the room was either crickets (foundation representatives) or uncomfortable laughter (HoustonPBS staff). Second, I’m pretty sure that’s the first time the words “titty bars” have been spoken at a HoustonPBS VIP reception. Third, Rob may have a joke or two about titty bars, but he covers more interesting, politically-charged territory than that.

Man, it was funny. Such awesome awkwardness. I immediately texted my brother Mason who was still living in Austin at the time. I wrote: “Remind me to tell you about Neil deGrasse Tyson and titty bars.” Mason, also a fan of Tyson and aware that I was seeing him that night, immediately called me. Very excited. He thought that I was at a titty bar with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Though I’m not big on naked dancing ladies, I would of course have gone to a titty bar with Neil deGrasse Tyson had the opportunity come up. I told Mason what I just told you, and though he thought it was funny, it didn’t have the same impact of me sitting at topless joint having drinks with an astrophysicist.

I’ve done some random shit in my time, but that one hasn’t been checked off the list. Yet.

assumptions, beer

written yesterday at the coffee shop :
Taking artistic license here, but I’m pretty sure I can nail the situation going down at the table next to me. There’s an attractive young lady – looks to be 25 at the most – and a not so attractive “old” guy – who’s probably just slightly older than I am but in comparison to the woman looks old enough to be her dad. And, technically, someone slightly older than I am is old enough to be her dad. When I first sat down, he was laying an unimpressive line of bullshit on her, and she seemed taken with it. She keeps touching his arm. I’m guessing he’s a professor. Most likely her professor. You grow out of that eventually, buying the bullshit of a guy like this – something he already knows and she’ll find out.

I must be relaxed right now. A huge leaf just landed on me, and I didn’t freak out. My heart rate didn’t change. I didn’t immediately assume it was a rat falling on me or an extra-large tree roach. Didn’t jump up out of my chair with a yelp. I just casually grabbed the leaf and tossed it aside. This is highly unusual behavior. Especially after so much caffeine. Must be the fresh air and blue sky.

written today at my desk:
On my way to work this morning I saw a sticker on the back of a Budweiser truck that suggested I visit www.beeresponsible.com. Now that can really go a couple of different ways. I can read it as BEEResponsible, which tells me that if I visit this website I’ll find tips on how to drink beer responsibly. I can also read it as BE-eresponsible, which, though spelled incorrectly, makes me think I’ll find a website that gives tips on stupid things I can do while drinking beer. Like I really need any ideas in that category.

Okay, so I just visited the website. Looks like they’re going more for the former interpretation of beeresponsible. The site has images of healthy young college kids hanging out and a mom/dad/boy/girl combo smiling and looking at the camera. I don’t know what these people are happy about since not a single one of them is holding a beer. They should show the “after” pictures of these same groups. The college kids are puking and making bad decisions about whom to sleep with. The mom and dad are fighting over the light bill and how they never go out to dinner anymore while the boy and girl are sneaking sips of warm Budweiser. Ahhh, America. Love it or leave it, commie.

questions for a beautiful Sunday

- Has Saturday mail delivery been suspended? We haven’t gotten any mail for the past few Saturdays. We usually get mail every day that there’s delivery, so it’s odd that this has been a consistent only-on-Saturday occurrence. What gives, USPS? A little warning would be nice.

- What is wrong with people? I just read a story on Chron.com about a man and his two kids being swept out into the water at Texas City Dike (one child died and one is still missing), and I noticed that the comments have been disabled. That means that people were posting responses that most would deem “inappropriate.” There’s a bad virus of people posting horrible comments on news stories about death. The anonymous little trolls who like to go from site to site spreading their darkness seem to forget that when someone dies – regardless of the circumstances around the death or the person’s immigration status – that person was someone’s kid. Maybe someone’s husband or mother or sibling. If you read a story about a person crashing their car at 4 in the morning, the trolls immediately say things like, “I’m sure they were drunk. At least they just killed themselves instead of taking a good tax paying citizen like me out. Then again, only hoodlums and drunks are out in the middle of the night, so they couldn’t have hurt anyone who mattered.” Man, what nasty stew of insecurities and hatred would one have to be soaking in to post crap like that? I’m sure I don’t want to know.

- Are you really busy? A bunch of my friends on facebook have been posting about how busy they are this weekend. Which begs the question: if you’re that busy, why are you wasting what precious time you have by posting on facebook/twitter/your blog about your busy-ness? The only use for it I can see would be if someone were avoiding responding to/hanging out with another person. Because if someone is expecting a return email/phone call but reads on facebook that you’re buried in things to do, they will naturally assume that is why you haven’t contacted them instead of the truth (that you wouldn’t contact them even if you were stuck inside a sensory deprivation chamber for days on end with nothing but a cell phone that only called their number). I guess what I’m saying is, if I post on facebook that I’m really busy and I owe you a phone call…

- Have you checked out Hyperbole and a Half? Seriously funny visual/written blog that I wish were updated more often because it makes me laugh out loud.

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 can breathe freely now, the snot is gone

Seriously, today is the first day in a week that I can easily draw air in through both nostrils and expel air through the same. It’s brilliant. Things were not this way last week. In fact, things got so bad that I was willing to try out other people’s folk remedies. For instance, one of my friends who also happens to be a coworker was telling me about her netty pot (nelly pot? I don’t know exactly what she was saying and I’m too lazy to look it up). It’s a device that shoots warm salt water into your nose and then miraculously that water (plus other stuff) (bad, bad stuff) comes out of your nose. I didn’t have one of these things, so she recommended that I snort warm salt water out of my palm. Though I was dubious about the efficacy of this action, I was desperate. So I tried it. Imagine this – you’ve been stuffy and sneezing almost constantly for a few days. Your nose is swollen and red and raw. Then you shove a handful of warm water and SALT into your nostril. Nothing was going up there. No, but the salt, the salt went right into my poor, pitiful nose and burned like a motherfucker. Took me about three tries to finally understand that this wasn’t going to work. But today, other than the peeling nose, things are somewhat normal. And I am grateful.

It took me twelve hours or so, but I wrote that commission piece yesterday. I will know by next Thursday whether or not I got in, and at that time I’ll give more details on what the deal was.

vampire

Okay, so I vampired off my blog for this week’s Dilettante. Figured I can’t sue myself for plagiarism, so I should be safe. I’m doing Dilettante every other week until January 1 (in other words, until the show is over).

Speaking of the show, we’re going to have an invited dress on December 19th. I’d like to open up that performance to non-profit groups. Please let me know if you’re involved with a group that might like to come for free, keeping in mind the aforementioned dull-but-still-slightly-edgy material of some of the pieces.

I installed the new Mac OS this weekend but haven’t figured out how to use any of the new features. Except I did change my screensaver to a cool new one that links to album covers of the music in my iTunes.

The only reason I like daylight saving time is because one weekend a year is an hour longer than the rest. It’s like a little gift for us poor, sad 9-to-6 people.

doo-de-doo-doo

For the past couple of months, some odd shit has been going on. Lights and ceiling fans turning on by themselves. Paper shredder shredding by itself. Light bulbs burning out. This week, the thing has been sugar. Tuesday at work, I reached into my bag to retrieve a lipstick from the little inside pocket. There was a small packet of “Diamond Crystal” sugar in the pocket. Weird, I thought, as I put the packet in my desk drawer. Then yesterday, late in the day, I again reached for the lipstick and once again found a packet of sugar in the little pocket. I again placed the packet in my desk drawer, but I thought it was very odd for sugar to show up twice in a row. One time you can get over because maybe you were at a restaurant and somehow the sugar fell in there. But two times in as many days…weird. So this morning, imagine my surprise when I looked inside my purse before leaving for work and…there WAS ANOTHER SUGAR PACKET IN THE POCKET. Same brand – Diamond Crystal.

While it is completely believable that someone at work is jacking with me (it seems to be a pastime for a couple of people) I find it odd that the sugar is finding its way into my bag during non-work hours.

And, no, I’m not somehow overlooking a large supply of sugar packets in the purse pocket. Each time I take out a packet, that’s the only one in there.

juke box hero

I played Guitar Hero for the first time last week. I’m sure the game has been out for eighty thousand years, and I’m behind the times. So what else is new. Anyway, it was really fun. As in, making me laugh out loud fun. A) because I’m a dork and B) because I took to it pretty easily. Now I want to own it, which is probably a bad idea. If I end up having my own copy, here’s how it’ll go down.

The first day, I’ll play for two hours straight. Then I’ll feel guilty that I played a stupid video game for that long, so I’ll put up my plastic guitar and do something else. The next day, I’ll get up extra early and play the game until lunch. I will become consumed with mastering all five of the songs on level three (or whatever – I only played the game for a little while). My eyes will become dry and watery at the same time, and every time I blink it’ll feel like I’m rubbing sandpaper across my orbs. My back will hurt from the rocker pose I will have while kicking the game’s ass. This will continue, after work, on weekends, “for just five minutes” before work, until I have beaten the game into submission. Then I will toss it in the corner, forgotten, and never play it again.

Months or years later, I’ll run across the game and the plastic guitar, and I’ll have the fond remembrance of a past love who was fun but wasn’t a candidate for the long haul. Like a really hot but mildly retarded guy.

what is the sound of one hand typing

Thanks to the brave few of you who penned questions for Ask a Dilettante last week. You’ve made my life easier, for the next few columns at least. As for the rest of you, if you find yourself having a stupid, drunken conversation with someone and a ridiculous question arises, write it down and email it to me after the hangover clears.

I guess my life is complicated right now. I know this because, well, I’m living my life. But also because I’m listening to Yes again. All the time. I always seem to do that when my brain is in over-drive. And I’ve written about it before, so I won’t belabor the point.

There’s a pending third production of stuffed animal play in NYC. I was worried (for about five seconds) about having the play produced for a third time in that city in a nine-month period, but then I remembered that, like, 80 million people live there.

OH – 80 million reminds me of something that happened in a meeting yesterday. One of my dear coworkers was talking about a couple that is having a huge house built on two of the big lots in River Oaks. She said it was going to be 800,000 square feet. And she seriously believed that was what they were going to build. 800,000 SQUARE FEET. That’s the size of a huge warehouse that makes a lot of cheese. Or tractors. Or something. I gently (not really) suggested that perhaps she meant 8,000 square feet, which is still a lot of feet. I don’t think she ever grasped just how big that amount was.

getting old

Last night was a small Houstonist gathering at Rudyard’s. Just four of us – three of us in our 30s (and all Aries, randomly – the weird thing about that is that out of the seven or eight “regular” writers for that site, five of us are Aries – one guy and I were born, literally, four days apart) and one chick who is 19. She did not drink alcohol, for the record. Though the teenager is very bright and articulate, there is still a generation gap or two. So I thought it would be fun to tell her what’s going to happen to her physically in another 10 or 15 years.

I told her that after you hit 30, random hair(s) grows out of your chin. I hope she noted the fact that I am NOT a hairy person and in fact only have blonde hair on my arms. I told her that she will be washing her hair in the shower with her head tilted back – a yawn will come on – she will release that yawn while keeping her head back, and she will experience great pain. Perhaps even pull a muscle. Jason (another person in his mid-thirties, though lower mid than I) warned her of violent sneezes that lead to slipped discs.

She seemed properly mortified, so I didn’t go into the whole gravity thing.

hairs

Did you know that if you don’t cut your hairs, they grow? I knew this, but I didn’t really KNOW it, you know? What I’m saying is, I’m wondering at what point your hair (on your head) goes from being individual strands stuck to your scalp and turns into a one-unit STATEMENT. For the first time in a couple of decades, my hair is closer to my waist than it is my shoulders. And I’m not planning on cutting it. I’m also not planning on looking like one of those Mormon women in the ankle-length dress with the long brown hair and downcast eyes. First of all, I don’t wear dresses (and I don’t have to address the eye issue with any of you). Second of all, at some point, long hair becomes toooooooo long. At some point, your hair becomes so long that it looks like you’re trying to say something, OR it looks like you’ve completely given up on saying anything. A hair catch-22.

I’m not trying to say/not say anything with my hair. I just enjoy wearing it long. I feel more like myself. And I enjoy working in an environment that doesn’t require that I have that shoulder-length newscaster ‘do that so many “professional” women sport. Bo-ring.

Does it look good this long? That’s up for debate, and I think most people (if they gave a shit) would say that it does not. But still I grow. Fuck it.

I spy

After a week of not sleeping and drinking way too much and riding the emotional roller coaster, it was great just chilling at home this weekend. I spent all day yesterday cleaning out old business (literally, not necessarily figuratively). I threw away two and a half trash bags stuffed mostly with paper. I am a complete and total packrat when it comes to the written word. I’ve had a big bag of books to take to Half-Price sitting in the front bedroom for at least six months. It’s not like I haven’t been to that store. I just haven’t taken the books. I think I am subconsciously unwilling to let them go. I hope some day I have a huge room in my house dedicated to just books. Rows and rows of books. Then I won’t have to worry every time I come home from the bookstore about where in the hell I’m going to put these damn things (after I’m done putting them in my brain).

As for the cleaning out, I threw away all of the scripts I collected during three different playwriting semesters at UH. I threw away receipts for things I purchased years ago and no longer own. I kept user manuals for every electronic item in the house, even things that have been in my life for years and I pretty much know how to use (or, I know as much about them as I ever will – I don’t plan on getting any closer to my DVD player, for instance – we’re just friends). I threw away multiple copies of my own scripts. Old greeting cards. Bills that were paid years ago, back when I didn’t do everything online. Kept the copies of old tax returns, though they too are completed online. On and on.

Then last night, I didn’t drink. Didn’t go out. Didn’t make small talk. Didn’t have to do anything except just sit there with the dogs, watch some TV that I can’t even remember, and zone out. It was GREAT. Today, I’ve taken my renewed energy to get some ideas that have been percolating for some time down on paper. Well, not paper really. I’ve been putting them down on the Mac. In order to find the word processing program, I dicked around with my computer for a while. Opened this and that program. There are some cool games on here. I’m not much of a gamer (having ended my dominion in the gaming world with the first Mario Bros.). But I was pleased to find that there are a lot of programs I didn’t know I have.

When it was time to eat dinner, I put the computer to sleep because I was still writing. Woke her up after dinner, and I noticed the little green light next to the camera was on. I haven’t used the computer’s camera, so the green light really stood out to me. I thought perhaps I’d turned on photo booth, a program I don’t get. Why do you need an entire program just to take pictures of yourself sitting at your computer? Besides the obvious home-porn/voyeur bullshit. Seems odd to me. Anyway, I tried opening that program thinking it was causing the light to be on, but it wouldn’t open until I closed the other program that was using the camera.

I wasn’t using a program that utilized the camera. At least, not knowingly. So I was suddenly swimming in my great fear about big bro watching me through that little hole above my computer screen. I couldn’t find an open program, other than the word processing one I was using, so I shut this bitch down and started over. So far, no little green light. So far. But I’m watching.

babies, weddings

Yesterday’s Dilettante column was about how to deal with a weather event.

What a busy weekend. Saturday I went to Austin for my cousin’s baby shower. Last night I went to my friend Alvaro’s wedding. The couple wrote their own vows, which normally would spell trouble. But the dude is a playwright and the chick is an actor/director, so the vows were short, sweet and not at all maudlin. The ceremony was over in about ten minutes. Now THAT’S the length a wedding should be. The only people who could possibly enjoy a long ceremony would be the couple, and I’m not sure that even they dig it. Maybe the people who are paying for the wedding feel like they get their money’s worth if the ceremony drags on and on. The couple is Latino, so I was kind of surprised when they did the grand march during the reception. I don’t think I’ve seen that action since I lived in the country around all those Germans. So we got up and did it. There was just the right mix of alcohol and old people to make it loads of fun.

P.S.

I have over twelve (yes, I counted) bug bites on each of my legs (I counted those, also – there are two of them). I wasn’t outside at all yesterday, so I’m wondering if it’s from my day of aggressively attacking Gdad’s backyard – I was standing in bushes the entire time. Can bug bites sit dormant for more than 24 hours? If so, what the hell bit me, repeatedly? (or only once if there were more than 24 of them) Little fuckers. I’ve put Calamine on my legs but they still itch. Not an attractive sight, me sitting at my desk rubbing my legs against each other like I’m a fucking cricket. Grasshopper. Whatever.

And no, I don’t have bed bugs.

inspection, appletime

As I watched my car get inspected today, it occured to me that in the almost 20 years I’ve owned a car, I’ve never had a failed inspection. Keep in mind I’ve never owned a new car, and some of the cars I’ve driven have entered ghetto stage because of my inability/disinterest in fixing things that were slowing wearing out (present car excluded – perhaps I’m all growed up now). Is the whole car inspection thing a scam? How shitty does your car have to be before it fails? Just wondering.

I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new, shiny white MacBook. I’ve never owned a Mac, so this should be interesting. This was a big purchase, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I have a late-90s IBM ThinkPad that works great for sitting in a coffee shop and posing. I mean writing. But as I travel more and more and as city-wide wifi approaches (thanks Bill White!), I decided it was time to move up to something a little more current. Since I have three or four short plays to write before the production this fall, perhaps my shiny laptop will give me a goose. I need one.

call your mother

New dilettante.

The Alley ball was Friday night. Prior to the event, I was skeptical of the 19-member band because all I kept hearing about them was “they were on the Sopranos,” but I ended up really enjoying the show. My favorite person in the band was this guy who was basically a modern day go-go dancer. Hilarious and very entertaining. Even all the old people were out on the dance floor.

I’m traveling to Minneapolis in a few weeks. It’s one of those places I never thought I’d go. Nothing against the town, it just hasn’t been high on the list. I’m going up there for a theatre conference. The average high in June is 79, so that’ll be a nice break from what is sure to be 90+ degree weather in Houston.

note to self

The phrase “screw the pooch” has always made me laugh, yet I’ve never really used it. As of now, I will make more of an effort to bring it out when someone (hopefully not me) has made an error. I’m trying to find some good alternatives to saying “fuck” and its many offspring.

A guy I haven’t talked to in over a decade emailed me at myHoustonist email yesterday. We worked together for a brief couple of months in the mid-90s at a place I’d forgotten about. It was one of my few day jobs during that decade (I was still bartending at the time, so it must have been part-time). The operation was based upon then new technology – you could call in to a phone system that allowed you to listen to 15 or 30 seconds of each song on an album, and if you decided to buy the album you were connected to our office to make the purchase. The deal was very similar to what you can do on music purchasing sites on the internet today, but thar weren’t no internets when this job was happening. Actually, some people were online by that time, but they were in the minority.

So this place never really took off, but the guy running it (who was really pretty cool as I remember) kept us employed for a few months in hopes it would all start happening. The boss was one of those entrepreneurial types who had his hands in lots of stuff, so he was in and out of the office all the time. There were about seven employees, I’d guess, and we were pretty much all in our 20s. To kill time, we would do things like turn off all the lights and play hide-and-go-seek. The office was located inside a building with few windows, so we could make it completely dark. You’d end up crawling around on the floor to keep from hurting yourself. Yeah, good times.

The reason this guy tracked me down is he ran across pix from the night that a few of us went to the Stevens and Pruett Holiday Ball. Man, I’d forgotten about that event. On purpose. The vague memory I have of it is there were lots of titties and midgets there. Sometimes both in one package. And I got drunk. And laughed at how stupid the whole thing was. I kind of want to see the pix he’s talking about, and I kind of don’t.

good lord and butter I’ve been busy

Enough with the being busy. I mean, really. The good thing is, I will appreciate my vacation all the more once it arrives. And it’s almost here. Yes.

If you know anyone in NYC who might be interested in a night of entertainment, here’s the info on the show. My play is going up Thursday (9:30PM) and Saturday (8PM) on the upstairs stage at Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street. For reservations and the full schedule, click here. It’s not just one-acts – they’ve got musicians, burlesque, stand up comedy, dance. All stuff written/created (and mostly performed) by chicks. Tickets are $15/cash at the door. I’ll be there Thursday. If you send someone, tell them to chat me up after the show. And, what? I don’t know. I’ll give them a cookie or something.

No, seriously. I think this is going to be a great time. It will also be the first time I’ve ever seen my work done without my being involved in it. It’ll probably be better…

I’m out.

Jeremiah was a bullfrog. I, however, am not.

Dilettante is back after last week’s hiatus. I’m happy people are commenting more – it lets me know that someone’s reading it – but I’m a bit confused by two of the comments. They were left by the same person. I think maybe he/she didn’t see the last line of the column, but I’m not really sure.

Went to my parents’ today. The traffic on 290 was remarkably heavy both going and coming. I’ve been city-bound for so long, it was really great getting out on the road. Whenever I go out there for a visit, I always wonder if I am/will ever be ready to live in a more isolated place. Obviously one of my goals is the cabin in the woods – though I’m not married to woods, the beach would be fine, a mountain would be okay, actually Big Sur has all three – but I always picture that scenario with a town or city quite nearby. But not too close.

For some odd reason, I’m always happy when the rodeo is over for another year. Maybe it’s because I know that I won’t have to see any of the jagoff local newscasters wearing cowboy hats or attempting to lasso the weather guy for a while.

The chin hair that I have to pluck every few months is here again. I’m concerned because I could swear I just plucked that bitch a week or two ago. Perhaps I’m on my way to a full beard. If so, I hope I can shape it into something like a Van Dyke.

cereal

Just got home from work – fourth late night in a row. Now I don’t have to feel so guilty about the occasional blog entry written on the clock. I’m not getting paid any overtime for these extra hours. It all balances out in the end.

How am I relaxing after yet another long day at work? I’m watching a program about serial killers. Interesting how pretty much all serial killers are white males under 35. I know a lot of white males under 35.

My favorite cereal is granola. Unless that’s not considered cereal and is just considered granola. If so, I’m not that into cereal and am mostly into granola.

spring has sprung…almost

Today’s column.

Such a beautiful day, I decided to do some overdue yard work. There’s something extremely gratifying about working in the yard. I keep hoping that some day I’ll get into gardening or at least plants, but that hasn’t happened yet. It felt good bagging up the last of the pecans and leaves from winter. New beginnings and all that.

I have dates for the show in NYC: March 29th and 31st. I’ll be at the show on the 29th (we already have other plans for the 31st), and I hope those of you who live up there will be able to go that night, too. More details as they become available. Still considering going to Kansas City on March 16th for that opening night. It’s just a little too far to drive in one day and airfare is twice what we paid for NYC tix, so I’m not sure if I’m going to make it. They’re having an opening night “gala” and everything…

tonight

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Texas Independence Day, look no further. Houstonist is sponsoring a Light Rail Pub Crawl. The group is meeting downtown at Flying Saucer at 5:30 this evening and will take the rail to other celebration spots (bars) for the following four or five hours. If you make it to Flying Saucer before the train departs, Houstonist will give you a free light rail pass. Can’t beat it. Oh, and you’ll be able to pick Houstonist writers out of the crowd because they’ll all be sporting Houstonist tee-shirts. I keep saying “they,” not because I’ve quit Houstonist but because I will be sitting at Toyota Center watching Eric Clapton and Robert Cray this evening. I’ve always wanted to see Robert Cray – he’s so smoooooove. I’m really bummed to miss the crawl, though. The whole concept of a dozen or two drunks riding the rails sounds like my kind of night.

Haven’t been blogging much this week because work has been in-fucking-sane. I’m working nights and on the weekend. It’ll be that way until the middle of the month. Good times.

the Oscars are on and I don’t give a shit

New column. Should have looked at the Chronicle before I wrote my column – the two topics I covered were on page one and page three, respectively. Then again, my coverage is much different from the Chron’s…and they used the same source I did (NY Times) for one of the stories, so fuck it.

Can you believe the story about Strom Thurmond’s family having “owned” part of Al Sharpton’s family? You can’t make shit like that up. I mean, it was bad enough when the news broke that racist, hateful Thurmond was a baby daddy.

* Al’s great-grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, was a slave in South Carolina.
* Coleman Sharpton, a woman and two children – believed by genealogists to be his wife and kids – were given as a gift to Julia Thurmond, and were forced to move to Florida.
* Julia Thurmond’s grandfather is Strom Thurmond’s great-great-grandfather.

Ree-dick-you-luss.

I watched An Inconvenient Truth last night. That’s some crazy, scary shit. Amazing the brain power that existed with the combo of Clinton and Gore. You forget, with Cletus and Satan in charge now.

tha roof

When you drive a car with a roof made of fabric, you tend to get nervous when traveling behind certain types of vehicles. For example, I don’t like to drive behind a truck that’s hauling sharp, pointy projectiles. So you can imagine how uncomfortable I was this morning when I was stuck behind a truck pulling a flatbed trailer full of crap that practically demanded you have a tetanus shot just to look at it. Old boards with bent, rusty nails poking out one side. Triangular scraps of tin. Barbed wire. So as soon as I had the chance, I dodged around the death-on-a-trailer. Immediately I was on the ass of another truck/trailer combo, this one hauling stacks of wooden pallets, probably ten or fifteen high and waving back and forth. So though this other cargo wouldn’t necessarily have pierced my skull if it fell on my car, it would have been heavy enough to cave the roof in.

etc.

Why do local weather people tell you to wear a coat when it’s cold outside? The temp is in the upper 30s. A sane person would realize that’s a bit chilly and think to him/herself, “I should probably wear a sweater or coat today.” If the temperature wasn’t enough information, a quick trip to the front door would be. You open the door, it’s cold outside, you put on a freaking jacket. It’s not like we’re all living on the 25th floor of a high rise and have a ten minute trip to the outside. This is Houston. We’re very close to the outside here. And we’re not so stupid that we need weather people telling us how to dress.

I heard one of my favorite cheesy songs on the way to work this morning – Emotional Rescue by the Rolling Stones. I’ll be your knight…in shining…ahhhhmor. Fabulous.

I’m planning the NYC trip now. Jet Blue has some terrific prices, though I may go with Continental because of the known. If you’ve flown Jet Blue and have an opinion, please email me or leave a comment. I’ve already booked three nights in a sub-let, so we’ll stay in a hotel only one or two nights. The sub-let should be interesting – it’s a studio that belongs to a theatre artist who’s out of town. That’s all I know at this point. Bit of a gamble, but the price is so right I couldn’t pass it up. Luckily I have friends up there. Just in case the place sucks. Curtis and Nikki, you guys might make some room on your living room floors at the end of March…you never know.

Gladys Hardy

My cellmate at work is named Morgan. She’s a bright young lady with a sharp sense of humor and a slightly sarcastic bent. Since she’s been stuck with me for the past year, her sarcasm has been honed to a deadly point. However, being a decade younger than I, she still retains some wide-eyed belief in things. Belief that will slowly seep from her life until she is the arched-eyebrow-with-sardonic-half-smile type of chick I’ve become. Lucky her.

She shared with me a You Tube video one of her friends emailed out that features a segment from the Ellen Degeneres show. Ellen received a voicemail from an 88-year-old Austinite named Gladys Hardy. She was full of the piss-n-vinegar we like in our old ladies. Ellen found her message so entertaining, she called the old gal at home in Austin during one of her shows. She was probably fifteen seconds into the conversation when I started thinking that this was a put-on. At a minute-and-a-half, the old lady started sounding to me like a man pretending to be an old lady. At about the two-minute point (it goes on for six or seven minutes), I recognized the voice as maybe belonging to one of the Greater Tuna guys. Finally at about four minutes or so, the “old lady” says something to the effect of “Honey, I love Jesus, but I drink a little.” That was IT. I knew it was bullshit for sure. So I had to share this news with Morgan. She’d been eagerly watching the video, leaning forward in her chair and laughing a lot until I said something, then she sat back and was no longer enjoying it (having felt like she’d been tricked). I felt bad for saying something.

So which is the preferred state of being: believing the magic trick is really magic, knowing it’s not magic but willfully suspending disbelief or knowing it’s magic and also knowing how they did it? I vacillate among the three options, and my preference for each is in a constant state of flux.

I looked around online to see what others thought of “Gladys” and found I wasn’t alone in thinking it was one of the Greater Tuna guys (my vote is that it’s the fat one). This article in the Statesman suggests that Gladys probably isn’t a real person. There are many comments below the story, and the general consensus seems to be: who gives a shit if Gladys is real or not because it’s funny, why be so cynical, she brings joy and laughter and if you out her we won’t get to hear her again.

I call bullshit on that. If one of the Greater Tuna guys had come on in their usual country-time drag, the segment would have been pretty funny. But presenting it as a real phone call from a real little old lady doesn’t work for me. And this let us have our fantasy attitude presented by the commenters on the Statesman story is pretty indicative of how people are approaching their lives in general these days. Believing that the manufactured situations on reality TV are real. Believing that if we ignore it, the bad stuff will go away. Believing that it’s preferable to ingest lies because they make us feel better for a little while. All bullshit. Because eventually the bill comes due, and boy is it going to be a big one this time.

full moon fever

Just got home from opening night of A Moon for the Misbegotten. Such a sad, beautiful story. Don’t know if it was the mood of the play or what, but I need to talk about the elevator.

After the show, as cast, crew and staff were in the boardroom on the 14th floor for the after-party, I had to go to my desk on 18 to get my bag. The ride up the elevator was no big deal. Business as usual. Perhaps it was the wait for the ride back down, standing in the lobby of what is normally a bustling office but at this point (11PM or so) was dark and empty except for me, that set the mood. I don’t know, but the short ride back down to the party – alone in the very quiet elevator – was one of those moments that I think we all have sometimes where you feel like maybe this is what it’s like after you die. Not the end of the journey, but the part between being alive and being DEAD. The last time I had this feeling was riding the subway in New York. I just had that moment of being not completely sure about what scene the elevator doors would open on. I don’t know that I would have been surprised if the doors had opened on the 14th floor and it was completely dark and quiet, the way it is sometimes on the weekend when I go up there to work. Had that been the case, I would have continued down to the floor where my car is parked and gone home. But it wasn’t the case. The doors opened and there was light and sound and booze and food and actors and people talking and laughing. So I did that for a little while. Then I went to my car. Parking garages late at night are super creepy, and tonight’s trip was no exception. Not as spooky as those few seconds in the elevator, though.

And I only had two glasses of wine over a five-hour time period, so I can’t blame it on that.

resolution two, check

New column is up. (this link will not work until at least noon on Sunday)

Please note that though it is technically Sunday morning, since I have not yet gone to bed it is still Saturday night for me. I have completed my first Houstonist blog of the new year PRIOR to Sunday morning, as was one of my resolutions for the year.

Perhaps the scotch helped make it happen.

I’m going to bed.

Nighty.

worst job ever, plus other stuff

Saw this on the news – Xtreme Measures Teen Driving School. If the shitty spelling wasn’t enough of a clue, check this out – this is a driving school in which pimply, nervous teenagers are put behind the wheel and forced to experience extreme, excuse me, Xtreme driving conditions. So, they have to drive fast and brake hard on a SOAPY wet road, dodge random cones thrown in their paths, drive with two wheels off the pavement, etc. The worst job EVER would be driving instructor for that company. I would go out of my fucking mind. Really.

I don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder, but I am feeling particularly lethargic and mentally lazy today. I just want to crawl back into bed. Alas, I am at my desk, sitting next to a window that looks out into the grayness. Sigh.

Because the S&P shakers were still in the window boxes at Pig Stand, I entertained fantasies that the restaurant would re-open. Last week, the S&Ps were gone. Gail, one of the old school Pig Stand waitresses, is now working at 59 Diner. The food there is nowhere near what Pig Stand used to dish out, but I’m glad to know at least one of the people who lost their jobs has found employment. And by the way, when did 59 Diner’s food become so shitty? It may have just been a bad morning, but my food totally sucked. Plus, the restaurant was kind of dirty. It had an overall greasiness or something. Yuck.

One of my resolutions for this year is to get my Houstonist column written before Sunday’s due date. If at any time you have a suggestion or want to write a letter for Ask a Dilettante, please have at. Dilettante has received only one letter so far – it was from my friend-since-birth Shawna Mouser. The rest of you need to get on the proverbial stick. Please.

another one bites the dust

A year or so ago, some Alley friends and I went on a journey… a journey to find Houston’s best burger. For 31 Thursdays in a row, we traveled for lunch to places we’d been, places we’d heard of and places that just looked cool from the outside. There were a few unwritten rules that governed our choices. The place had to be the type of establishment most likely described as a “joint” – no yuppie burgers. The place had to have at least one really bitchy employee. The place had to be in or near a neighborhood. The place had to have a slight layer of grease on the walls that could be removed with a fingernail. We mostly stayed inside the loop, but we did venture out for a few places that we knew to be good – Bellaire Broiler Burger being the main one worth the drive. After visiting some burgers twice and three times, we came up with the top five.

In no particular order:
- Pig Stand
- Christian’s Totem (now Christian’s Tailgate)
- Lankford Grocery
- New Orleans Poboy
- Triple A

Since that magical burger-time, some things have changed. Most of the people who went on the burger journey no longer work at the Alley (except Dennis – he was my partner in all of this and he’s still here with me). No, they didn’t die of heart attacks. They just moved on. Pig Stand has been diminishing in food quality and service for a couple of years. Christian’s Tailgate is a victim of its own success, and now the wait for a burger is too long. Finally, New Orleans Poboy is closing/closed. It’s terribly sad. There are so few places in Houston that are this old school (and not in a kitschy, wink-wink way). You have to pay in cash, they don’t make it until you order it, the customers are always a diverse group, the food is greasy spoon great, the same people have been working there for decades, the Coke paraphernalia is random and extensive, the chairs make a horrible screeching sound when the uninitiated try scooting backwards, and, finally, the cheeseburger poboy is one of my favorite burgers of all time. I’m so sad to see it go.

With the imminent demise of the West Alabama Theater/Bookstop and the gentrification of so many old, central neighborhoods, I guess I shouldn’t stay attached to very much anymore. At least the Alley has been around for sixty years. I don’t think we’ll be tearing down our building (castle) any time soon and putting a fucking Barnes and Noble on the lot.