they once were wolves

Does an animal that finds its asshole, an ice cube and its owner’s face equally delightful to lick care about seeing the Hollywood sign?

Does an animal that chases its own tail, surprises itself by farting and is scared of the vacuum want to go to the Grand Canyon and marvel at the enormity of it all?

Does an animal that, at the peak of health, is happy running for five minutes and then sleeping for five hours want, at the very end of its life, to pose on the prow of a ship on a crashing sea as the sun sets?

Or, to put it another way, when you have the flu, do you want someone dragging you to pose in front of the house from Full House?

I’m thinking “no” on all accounts.

Dogs are delightful, happy, soulful creatures that are content with very little. Ever notice how many homeless people have a dog or two by their side? That’s because dogs are down for whatever. They just want to love and be loved in return. The accommodations don’t matter.

You wouldn’t know that from what seems to be a disturbing trend of late (if you can call something I’ve seen a total of three times a trend). I’m talking about people finding out their dog is terminally ill, then taking the poor animal on a fucking tour around the US. You know, so Max or Maggie can see Las Vegas, the Space Needle and Niagara Falls before crossing that rainbow bridge. What a happy coincidence that the places dogs want to see before they die are also exciting tourist destinations that look great in photos and the coffee table book that may come out of this!

For those of us who love dogs and consider them part of the family, the end of the road is a sad and lonely place. If you knew your dog only had a few weeks or months to live, who wouldn’t want to make the most of that time? But let’s back up for a moment and talk about what dogs enjoy.

They love the smell of shit and dead things. I don’t care how manicured and prissy your dog is. Put her in a backyard with a dead skunk, and she’s going to be all over it.

They love to eat. Filet mignon or meat that fell to the floor from your Jack in the Box taco, it’s all a wonderful culinary delight.

They love to sleep. Take your dog out in the morning when they first get up, and within a couple of minutes they’re ready for a nap.

So, for someone who wants to give Fido an exit to remember, I’d like to recommend a few hot spots the pooch might actually enjoy.

  • Dog park. Plenty of other dog assholes to smell and maybe something dead to roll in.
  • Litter box. Plenty of cat turds to eat and maybe a cat to chase or at least growl at.
  • Your bed. Plenty of opportunity to be loved and maybe a little time for a nap.

Pretty simple. It may not get anyone a book deal or make them an Instagram star, but it will make their little buddy comfortable and happy. And isn’t that really the point?


Lest I lose my crazy-dog-lady bona fides, here’s my dog Stella in her CAR SEAT. Yes, she’s strapped in. I bought this for her when we moved from Texas to California, the longest journey the dog or I ever made. Do you know what she did 99% of the way here? She slept.

PS: If you’ve been spared these treacly stories, here’s a link to one of them. Doesn’t that dog look like he’s having a GREAT TIME and not like he was propped up for the photo and then quickly collapsed because he’s TERMINALLY ILL? The man said, “It was a little bit for him, a little bit for me.” Uh huh.

marketer, heal thyself

A PR firm in Austin got its ass handed to it over the weekend when people beyond their inner circle of hospitality industry clients heard about their name: Strange Fruit PR.

If you don’t know the significance of that name, here’s some history. In 1937, teacher Abel Meeropol (a white Jewish man) wrote a poem after seeing a horrifying image of two black men lynched in Indiana. After it was published, he set it to music to create a protest song (Strange Fruit).

A couple of years later, Billie Holiday added the song to her performances. The record sold a million copies and was her biggest seller. Nina Simone recorded the song in 1965, and Kanye West sampled her version in his latest album. So though it was born in the late 1930s, the song still has a life and among the many, many people who’ve heard at least one of the versions. And the people who hear those two words together automatically connect it to a horrifying image.

The PR company–a couple of young white women (so unusual for PR!)–thought no one would be thinking about a song that was recorded in 1939. They figured they could create their own definition for the term. Turn it from a powerful protest of murderous racism into a fun and exciting way to talk about hors d’oeuvres and skinny margaritas. They now know that they were mistaken, but it’s amazing it took a Twitter shitstorm for them to figure it out. I mean, the song’s history had been pointed out to them in the past. And they work in public relations! Come on.

I hope their new name, Hitler Nibbles, works out for them.


you win, Bunker Hill HEB grocery sackers

won't someone please think of the children?

so shitty, it has to be intentional

We have a winner! In what has been an ongoing competition for shittiest job of sacking groceries at the Bunker Hill HEB, the young lady who bagged my stuff today is the grand champion. This comes after four-and-a-half years of going to this store every weekend and experiencing moderately shitty to super shitty grocery bagging on the regular.

It’s gotten so frustrating that last weekend I felt moved to state the obvious to the young man who was about to bag my stuff. I said, “Please put the cold stuff in the blue cooler,” to which he snarkily replied, “Yeah, I KNOW how to do my job.” I didn’t blame him for being insulted (it’s so obvious, right?). I let him know that not all of his coworkers share in that knowledge. His look of surprise suggested he must not spend much time in the employee breakroom.

There’s a lot to like about this HEB. It’s clean, the shelves are well-stocked, prices are affordable and the staff is always friendly. On the weekends, you can usually spot at least a couple of manager-types facing labels and keeping things tidy. These are the reasons I come back each and every week instead of going to Kroger, Whole Foods, H Mart or any of the other grocery stores that are nearby. I also like supporting a Texas company.

But here’s the thing: the last contact I have with the store is the checker/sacker combo. So even if I have a great experience while shopping, if I feel like I got dumped on right after forking over a couple hundred bucks, I leave with a bad taste in my mouth. It might serve HEB well to keep that in mind and invest in training their staff instead of making the only requirements for the position be four intact limbs and active respiration. There are plenty of online tutorials, and I’d wager that at least a few of the checkers and managers started out sacking and can provide some good advice.

As for today’s experience, where to begin… You’ll see my blue soft-sided cooler in the photo. At the bottom of the bag is an unused bag that I brought, which could have replaced the plastic bag the sacker felt like she needed to use. On top of my unused bag: dog food, soap, a box of pasta and a frozen pizza. The bag just north of the cooler, the one with the 2-liter of Topo Chico? Guess what’s at the bottom of that one. Yep, eggs. Eggs on the bottom, then bread, then a heavy bottle of water. Bread was smushed, eggs were fine. The rest of the bags were similarly populated. In fact, she did such a shitty job, it felt like it had to have been intentional. You have to work hard to get cold stuff into four different bags. And that means I have to work hard to put my groceries away when I get home.

Since we’re moving in a few weeks, I only have a couple more trips to the Bunker Hill HEB. I’m hoping to get the condescending sacker on the last trip. He may be bitchy, but at least he knows to put cold stuff in the cooler.

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…)

I gotcher flow right here, buddy

each of us is unique, like a snowflake or grain of sand (though most of us aren't as cool as fat little beach dogs)

each of us is unique, like a snowflake or grain of sand (though most of us aren’t as cool as fat little beach dogs)

The recommendation came from someone I know or someone whose blog I read. I don’t remember. The book is called Finding Flow, The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.  I had a bit of a buzz when I ordered it. You know, holding a glass of wine in one hand, scrolling around on the internet with the other, reading about what a great book this is for getting shit done. “Hey! I need to get shit done,” I thought. “Maybe this book is just what I need.”

Two things.

One, here’s an excerpt from the book. You’re gonna love it.

Leaving aside those still relatively few career women whose primary identification is with their jobs, most women who work at clerical, service and even managerial occupations tend to think of their outside job as something they want to do rather than something they have to do. Work is more voluntary for many women; it is more like play, something that they could take or leave. Many of them feel that whatever happens on the job is not that important–and thus, paradoxically, they can enjoy it more. Even if things go wrong and they are laid off it will not hurt their self esteem. As opposed to men, their self image depends more heavily on what happens to their families.

I know what you’re thinking, that this book was written shortly after WWII. Nope. Copyright is 1997. Dude teaches psychology and education at University of Chicago and, presumably, works with a few women who don’t spend all their time clutching their pearls hoping they set the crock pot at the right temperature before venturing out into the big, scary world in their sweater set and pumps.

That excerpt came more than a third of the way in, so I wasn’t suprised by it. There had been earlier warning signs that my brain tripped over (and not in a good way), but I rarely ever abandon a book. Even if it’s shitty, I keep reading. Because maybe the good part happens later. Sometimes you have to give a thing some time to develop. But I should have known this was wasted effort when, early on, Mr. Flow compares the uniqueness of human beings to snowflakes. It was the equivalent of a stale fart coming off the page. And the fart lingered, my friend. It lingered.

I finally stopped reading the book shortly after the passage above. Not because I’m angry or insulted. Just because this cat obviously isn’t talking to me.

Two, and most important, the book reminded me of something I already knew but evidently needed to be reminded of: if you’re reading books about creating or being artistic or getting shit done, you’re doing none of the above. Period. So maybe it was worth $11 to get a little knock upside the head.

Oh–just thought of a third thing: I shouldn’t order shit off the internet when I’ve been drinking.

opinions are like assholes

Everybody has one. Except that poor fellow who was born without an asshole and had to poop through his elbow. Best we not talk about it.

Jimmy Carter said last night that he was in support of the legalization of marijuana. Or, specifically, he said: let’s see how it plays out in Washington and Colorado now that they’ve legalized it. If the dope smokers don’t leave the stove on and burn the place down or endanger the Cheeto supply, maybe other states can follow suit with a little more confidence.

Having been a bartender for a decade, I’ve seen people on all sorts of drugs. The most irritating were always the cokeheads (meth wasn’t around back then–I’m sure it would win by a landslide) (if for no other reason than the sores). Then came the drunks. The potheads were always the least irritating. What’s not to love about people smiling and laughing and talking about how great Phish is? In fact, I wish they’d dump THC in the water supply so some people would take a deep breath and calm the fuck down.

I have President Carter’s autograph. He did a book signing in Houston in the mid/late ’90s at a Barnes and Noble way out in the boonies. Somewhere (probably tucked safely in the book because I’m all organized and shit) I still have the slip of paper that was handed out before you got to the front of the line. I remember it said something about how he couldn’t accept gifts, and I’m pretty sure it mentioned cookies in particular. Which I get. Who wants to eat stranger cookies?

It’s impressive how socially and politically active Carter has remained since he left office. He’s the real deal. It would be fun to smoke some weed with him. While wearing sweaters and talking about turning the thermostat down a little.

(Point of clarification: A lot of people who are pro-legalization are not themselves pot smokers. They just think it’s ridiculous to put people in prison for a little wad of herb in their pocket. I would assume Mr. Carter is in that group and do not mean to suggest he puffs, passes or bogarts.)

no exit

My first mistake was not going to the gym after work. That’s what I’d planned to do. Had my gym clothes in the trunk and my iPod was fully charged. But when I left the office, I was distracted and got on the freeway instead of heading under it into downtown. As soon as I realized my mistake, it was too late. I was committed. No exit.

So I did what I often do on the drive home–I called my brother. I drive a stick (that’s what she said) and don’t like to tie one of my hands up with phone bidness, so I put in earbuds when I’m rolling.

The traffic was more stop than go. I grabbed my buds out of the glovebox, stuck them in my ears and picked up my phone to call Tohner. How long does it take to glance down, wake the phone up, go to FAVORITES and hit a button? Maybe five seconds? I’ve never really paid attention because it’s never been an issue.

Just as the line started ringing, I heard honking behind me. Beep-beepbeepbeep-BEEP-beepbeep. I looked in my rearview to see what was up. Was my car on fire? Was a cow on the road? Did someone fall asleep at the wheel? (That last would have been hard to determine because we weren’t really moving.) Then I saw him. The smug fart-smeller in the car behind me (a Volkswagen with out-of-state plates). He was gesticulating my direction.

He did the two-finger thing, where you point at your eyes and then at someone else to let them know that YOU’RE WATCHING THEM. Then he made like he was texting on an invisible phone. He said, “I SAW YOU” and kept making the same movements. I think he may have been semi-erect, he was so excited.

Thing is, this self-righteous prig didn’t realize that I wasn’t, in fact, texting and was, in fact, doing what I could to minimize the impact of my phone on my driving. I considered responding to his shitty theatre with some of my own but decided to leave him in his misery. I mean, what kind of situation do you have to be living in to get such delight in acting like a little bitch?

Here’s a photo that sums up how I feel:

Hey! Fuck off!

PS – Tohner didn’t answer.

does anybody really know what time it is?

the fuck?

The yellow tag above was hanging on our door yesterday, alerting us to a water outage. They’re ripping up the two blocks that make up our little neighborhood, an endeavor they say will take nine months or more. Yippee! They begin each morning at 6:30, usually hammering something massive into the ground to rip up the asphalt. The noise and percussion wake me shortly before my alarm clock, and for a split second I think a giant is coming down the street. (This is actually less weird than most of the dreams I wake from, so in some ways it’s a nice break.)

If you look closely at the tag, you’ll see that our water is going to be out today from 10PM to 3AM. Did they mean 10AM to 3PM? That would make more sense, for it to be off while they’re here working. But then they list the times again, again putting 10PM as the start time. So maybe that’s what they really meant…wait. Now it says 3PM is the end time.

Are these walking giants also time travellers? Is that why our water bill is so high?

UPDATE: the water was off in the middle of the night and back on this morning – guess that answers that question

renewing my TDL, or the fifth circle

Yesterday I completed a rite of citizenry that I haven’t had to face in 12 years: renewal of my Texas driver license. My current license features a photo of me at 30. Not exactly accurate. Nor was my expectation regarding completion of this errand. I expected it would take, at most, an hour and a half. I was 50% correct – it actually took three hours. My phone couldn’t get a signal once I was inside (purgatory doesn’t have wifi), and I didn’t bring a book, so I wrote notes about the experience on my phone. Here ya go:

  • I’m wearing a tee shirt with writing on it – hope they don’t try to turn me away – if they do, I’ll flip that bitch inside out
  • why am I surprised that the two teenagers behind me are actually kind of smart and funny? is my faith in today’s youth really that lacking?
  • do rich people have to stand in this long ass line? I’m not seeing anyone who looks higher up the money chain than lower/middle middle class
  • there’s a guy sitting in his car right by where we’re all standing – it’s idling, and in addition to being able to enjoy the exhaust fumes, we’re also being treated to shitty ’80s dance music turned up too loud – he thinks he’s jamming – he is mistaken
  • almost to the door! only took 40 minutes…
  • four old people pushing walker/seat combos in front of them just cut to the front of the line – one of the women said “you’ll be old one day too” – I hope so, and I hope that I don’t have to cut in line at the DMV wearing orthopedic shoes and pushing a stroller for adults
  • fuck – inside now, and it looks like a refugee camp – there are easily 200 people crammed into this tiny room – hope license renewal goes quickly and these people are waiting to take a test or something
  • near the front of the line – at the one hour point now – the lone clerk just asked dude for his social security card – I thought all I needed to bring was my license
  • they took my thumbprint last time I did this – seems like my thumb should be an acceptable form of ID – if not, maybe middle finger will work?
  • whew – made it through checking in with no second ID required – now I wait
  • no longer worried about my shirt with writing on it – dude in here is wearing a tee shirt that features Brittny Spears (I think?) with no top on, holding two teddy bears over her tits – classy
  • indecipherable number system – I’m number 44 and they are currently serving people in the 900s and 600s – they do this to keep you confused – also keeps you from leaving this dank shithole with no wifi to sit out in the sunshine because you can’t tell where they are in the line up
  • holy cow – deaf girl sitting in row behind me just yelled at an old man to move over because she can’t see the board that tells you what number they’re serving – he’s confused and not sure what to do – she’s yelling (because she’s deaf) and he’s got no place to go – exchanging glances with surrounding people – we have reached silent pact to jump in if this gets any more intense
  • have made friends with tiny little old man with a strong accent whose number is 981 – we’re both confused but for different reasons

All told, I was in and out in three hours. When the chick took my photo, she said, “I’m going to take your picture. You can smile or not.” Yeah lady, I know I can smile or not. Texas hasn’t started trying to regulate my facial muscles. Yet.

spell check, mofos

Were my driving and photography skills better able to coexist, the photo above would have captured what I wanted to show you. Instead, you’ll have to take my word for it.

That electronic sign there on the right is supposed to let people know that, since the 45 N exit is closed, they should use the Heights exit. Only it says Heigths instead. And it has been misspelled since Friday last week. Either they don’t know, don’t show or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.

(insert pithy segue) I’m glad Valentine’s Day is over. Facebook was intolerable yesterday. I kept waiting to see a photo of a chick with a bouquet of flowers poking out of her ass, an ugly tennis bracelet blinging on her arm and a row of chocolate stained teeth grinning wide with the comment, “OMG! BEST BOYFRIEND EVER!! I LUV U BOO♥” underneath it. These are usually the same chicks who are masters of passive-aggressive facebook commentary the rest of the year. You know, things like, “Well that’s the LAST time I’m going out of my way to do something nice for someone WHO OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE enough to say thank you.” I’m glad guys don’t feel the need to wax poetic about the blow job or oil change gift certificate or tie or whatever they get on VD.

Here’s a nice thought. Tomorrow (hopefully) I’m going to announce the next book giveaway on this blog. Watch this space. Tomorrow. Or maybe Friday. But soon.

And Happy Valentine’s Day. I may not have sent flowers you could show off to your bitter coworkers, but I did send sweet thoughts. To most of you.