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.

gusto hurts

Let it not be said that I don’t do things with gusto.

Thursday morning, I was leaving for work with my hands full. Backpack, lunch bag, notebook and large water bottle in a one-handed juggle as I used the other hand to close the front door. As I stepped through the threshold, I was taken for a moment by the blueness of the sky. We’ve had a lot of gray days, and though I don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder (except around August when I’m depressed about how hot I’ve been for so many months in a row), I was happy to see a bright, clear sky. So happy, in fact, that I paid little attention to what my right hand was doing as I thought to myself, “What a beautiful fucking day.”

Our front door has been sticking since we got that huge dose of rain a few weeks back. The sticking has required a decent amount of force to open and shut the door. In addition, our doorknob is about an inch closer to the door jamb than it should be. I’ve (gently) knocked my hand on the threshold a number of times over the two plus years we’ve lived here. I don’t know who built this place, but I think the builder was on whatever the ’50s version of crack was. A lot of things about this house are a little…off. Wall sockets are crooked, the floors slope (though I think that relates to a jacked foundation), there are phantom light switches that don’t seem to control anything in the house. Coupled with what we assume is a dog’s grave in the backyard, it just adds to the charm.

Now you have the back story. Hands full, distractingly beautiful morning, door doesn’t shut unless you jerk it hard. All of this leads to me pulling the door shut with not a little bit of torque, effectively slamming my hand in the jamb. It hurt so badly, my knees went weak. I stumbled back into the house to drop the load I was carrying and whimper. But no tears. The only thing that makes me cry is emotional pain.

The gash in my hand is healing and the entire thing is an ugly blue-green, but all my digits are still able to digitize (as evidenced by this blog post), so I think everything will be okay. I just need to slow my roll on the multi-tasking in the morning.

don’t make me put my bra on, or why Russo’s NY Coal-Fired Pizzeria can suck it

My first clue that this wasn’t going to end well was the fact that Russo’s NY Coal-Fired Pizzeria is located in the following states: Texas, Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas. Nothing makes me think of NYC pizza more than Texas, Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas. I ignored this blinking warning sign and forged ahead with my delivery order. Why? Because Russo’s offers gluten-free pizza, and I’m off the wheat. Plus, it’s good to try new places. Right?

James and I are busy all week–and often all weekend–so when we have the opportunity to just relax, we do it. For me, laid back weekends at home = avoiding unnecessary bra wearing. I don’t know if you gentlemen can appreciate this state of being, but there’s nothing finer than being cut loose from the bonds of propriety and just letting it all hang out. What I’m saying is, I was free-titting it tonight and loving it. But that was then.

I should back up. I ordered my gluten-free pizza from the Russo’s on Bunker Hill. I thought we were closer to the one located in the Marq-E, but they don’t deliver to our neighborhood.  The guy taking my order at the Bunker Hill location had a hard time understanding the name of my street. I said it slowly. I spelled it out. He spelled it back to me. Incorrectly. I tried again. It seemed we had reached some sort of accord, though I was worried he still hadn’t mastered my location. I gave him my credit card information and placed my order. He said it would be 45 minutes. He was wrong.

When we were at the hour and 15-minute mark and deep into hunger territory, I called the restaurant. The girl who answered the phone checked on my order for me. She said that the delivery dude was en route. Uh huh. I gave her our cross streets in case he called in because our street is very dark, and you can’t see numbers on any of the houses. In an effort to help the guy, James and I were even standing on our front porch at this point, ready to flag him down.

Another 30 minutes goes by. My slight irritation has blossomed into full-grown OH HELL NO. (I realize that there are lots of people on this twirling ball of rock who have horrible lives and deal with nastiness I can’t and don’t want to imagine. So my not getting my bullshit gluten-free pizza in a timely fashion sort of pales in comparison.) (But I’m still going to tell you my story.)

I call the restaurant. Thanks to the handy iPhone, I don’t have to look up the restaurant’s number because it’s in my recent calls (this is now my third time to call them). The young woman answers again. I introduce myself, again, and say that I’m calling to check on the status of my delivery, again, worried that if the driver was indeed en route last time I called (30 minutes ago), our pizza will be a congealed mess. She puts me on hold and an older woman answers “hello,” then promptly hangs up the phone. I stand there in my driveway, staring at my phone, pondering whether or not I need to drive to this restaurant to work it out in person, when my phone rings. It’s not the number for the restaurant. I answer.

There’s a lady on the other end of the phone who says that I just called her restaurant and asks what I want. I tell her my tale of pizza woe. She asks my name and address and (too quickly) tells me that they don’t have an order for me. Um, yeah you do, I say. The young lady confirmed my order 30 minutes ago and said it was on its way. “Oh, she must have not really looked up your order,” the woman tells me. Way to sell your staff down the river! “We have an order for…” At this point she starts rattling off the addresses of people they have orders pending for. None of the inappropriately shared addresses are mine.

“You didn’t place an order with us,” she again tells me. Yeah, I did, I say. I’ve called you three times now. “I don’t have your number in my caller ID,” she says. “You must have ordered with another location.” At this point, I hear the deep-voiced man who took my order talking in the background. She confabs with him for a moment and then FAKES A CALL to another Russo’s location, asking if they have an order for me there. She doesn’t say my name, nor does she completely state my address. She says something about a gluten-free pizza and the name of my street and then “hangs up” the other call. Doesn’t say good bye or thank you or that this bitch thinks she ordered from us when she ordered from you. Worst faked call ever.

She now tells me that I ordered my pizza from the Marq-E location. I already know the Marq-E location doesn’t deliver to my hood, plus I have her restaurant’s number in my phone, not the other location, plus I can hear the man with whom I placed my order talking in the background, so I let her know that she is incorrect. She then says, “they said your pizza is on the way, so I can’t help you.” OH HELL NO. She did NOT just blame her shitty service on another location! We are now at the two-hour mark. And she is gaslighting me.

Until this moment, James was going to be the point person for the transaction because I wasn’t dressed for company. Now imma get up in this business. I put on company-appropriate attire, get out $2 to give to the delivery driver for gas and prepare to send those pizzas back.

And nothing happens. Another hour has passed, so I think it’s safe to say that the pizzas, they aren’t coming.

It’s one thing to lose an order. Or maybe the delivery driver couldn’t find our house and returned with cold pizza. Mistakes happen, and most normal people are pretty reasonable if you apologize. But to argue with me about where I placed my order (and then lie to me that it’s on its way) is inexcusable.

I’m not sure which makes me the maddest – not having any dinner or having to put on a bra on a quiet Saturday night.

but he carried a little black bag

I'm ready to give you your exam, everybody

An 81-year-old man in Florida struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid trial in a case of door-to-door breast fondling. Seems the old coot went around an apartment complex offering “free breast exams.” One of the women who thought this was a great idea (yes, there was more than one) said that he was carrying a little black bag, so it seemed legit. Um, yeah, if you’re living in the 1880s and need a doctor to place some leeches on your forehead to suck the bad thoughts out so your crops will grow again and Paw’s dry socket will heal. The only people carrying black doctor bags these days are hipsters.

She smelled a rat when he fondled her breasts instead of “examining” them and his hands moved to other, non-breast, parts of her body. He was in another woman’s apartment by the time the cops came. Who knows how many women might have fallen for this had the first lady not called the po-po. How are there this many stupid people in one place? Was their apartment complex built on a nuclear waste dump?

When asked for comment after the deal was struck, one of the victims said, “I’m not really worried about what happens to that crusty old man. I was recently contacted by a prince in Africa who needs me to help him transfer a large sum of money. With the reward he’s offering, I’ll be sipping piña coladas by the beach for the rest of my life.”

Okay, that last thing didn’t happen, but the rest of it did. What a country. In communist Russia, you have to fondle doctor’s breasts.

liar liar pants on fire

This weekend I watched the 2007 documentary America’s Most Hated Family, which is about the Westboro Baptist cult. You know, the assholes who picket soldiers’ funerals (claiming that God is punishing America because of its acceptance of homosexuality) and hardware stores that carry Swedish vacuums (because, evidently, Swedish people like the gays) (plus, vacuums have that long sucker hose, taunting you to stick something in it against your better, Christian judgment, and then your wife walks in wondering why in the world you’d be vacuuming at 1 in the morning and she sees you, well, part of you inside the vacuum and you’re watching Chelsey Lately which is, well, come on, so she grabs the kids and goes to her mom’s house and her mom finally tells her that she always thought there was something a bit “off” about you ever since the wedding when you kissed the Hispanic man who brought the rented tables and chairs and you said it was because you were so happy but you didn’t kiss the woman who brought the flowers and she was way more attractive than the tables and chairs guy and then you have to get divorced so you just stay home and hang out with the vacuum but the vacuum eventually grows bored with your attention and spends most of its day looking out the window longingly).

What I’m saying is: vacuums are nothing but trouble.

Back to the documentary. In the minivan on the way to picket a soldier’s funeral, the documentarian, Louis Theroux of the BBC, asked Phelps’ daughter if it was possible the solider was a righteous man who didn’t deserve this sort of treatment. At this point in the film, Shirley has said a number of things that would be laughable if they weren’t so hateful, rage-filled and, frankly, insane. Shirley responds,  “Not a chance, poopie pants.”  She’s a character right out of a Stephen King novel.

Though her usage of such a childish retort was an odd juxtaposition to the bile she’s usually spewing, the mention of “poop” was on message. The Phelpses have a real poop and asshole fetish, claiming that various groups eat their own poop or that of others and are driven by “desires of the rectum.” Gramps Phelps needs to just go to the bathroom at an airport and pick up a nervous, tapping senator who’s also in the closet and quit worrying about other people’s assholes.

LINKS

  • Theroux revisited the family a few years later. He found his face on one of their signs.
  • God hates figs.
  • This is like The Onion of religious news. Read the article about Phelps and then click around a bit.

I’ll just wait for the fire department, thanks

I was reading a blog this morning in which the writer posted a quick entry about wanting to get HBO so she could watch Real Time with Bill Maher. One of her readers left a comment stating that if Maher were on fire, he “wouldn’t walk across the street to piss on him.”

Is that something that’s commonly done for the people you like? If one of this dude’s loved ones were across the street and on fire, would he rush over there with his wiener in his hand yelling, “I’m coming! I’m coming!”? Is this related to the little cartoon boy that pees on things and is found on the rear window of pick up trucks?

Unless you’re totally out of water, the only reason to piss on someone who is aflame would be to insult them. So it seems if you really hated someone and saw that they were, randomly, on fire and just across the street from you, one of the worst things you could do would be to run up to them, pee on them (careful not to douse the flames) and then laugh, point and watch them burn. Bonus points if you had asparagus for dinner the night before.

I guess what I’m saying is, people should find a better way to express their disdain for someone than claiming they wouldn’t pee on that person in a given set of circumstances.

I was merely acting, or save the drama for yo’ mama

I like it when the internet tells me about places like this

I unsubscribed from the Houston Chowhound list today. They won’t miss me – I was a lurker not a poster. The list hasn’t been fulfilling my needs for a while, so this was an overdue decision. I joined it because I wanted the skinny on good places to eat and liked hearing about new restaurants before they opened. But at some point over the past year, the list has gotten bogged down in stupid “controversies.”

Today’s controversy? Someone posted a link to one of those Hitler parody videos – there are lots, and they’re almost always funny, combining the vitriol and hatred of (an actor playing) Hitler with subtitles that are usually about something incredibly mundane and not worthy of such drama. The version posted on the chowhound list today is about Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Harmless. Funny. A couple of people responded that it made them laugh, but most of the messages discussed other good places to eat barbecue. Which is what the chowhound list is supposed to be about, of course.

Then one of the list members interrupted the delicious barbecue talk to let everyone know she was horrified, “outraged,” in fact, that someone had posted the video. She shared links to information about WWII and the Holocaust (from wikipedia, natch). Here’s a quote from one of her many messages about this topic:

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suddenly, my faith in humanity was restored

Leaving work yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker on a car in our parking lot (a visitor’s car, not staff) that said:

Annoy a Liberal
Work, Succeed, Be Happy

I stood by the car for a moment, hoping the person would exit the building so I could ask if they really believe that “liberals” want non-liberals to be unemployed, unsuccessful and unhappy. Because, though I do hope that anyone who spurts hateful, divisive political rhetoric gets a bad case of explosive diarrhea and ass pimples, I don’t wish  unemployment, failure and misery on them. Or anyone else. And I think that most people, regardless of their political affiliation, generally hope that their fellow citizens have fruitful, happy lives.

The person didn’t exit the building (or saw me standing there and decided I wanted to make them unhappy) (which, now that you mention it, is sort of true), so I got in my ride and drove homeward (with my own bumper sticker on the back exhorting people to fight stupidization – I guess maybe that could be insulting to stupid people).

On the freeway, I saw a black Corvette with the license plate: bone md.

Then I stopped at Spec’s to get a bottle of wine. There were only two employees running registers, so each line had two or three people in it (the usual post-work rush). The guy in front of me wanted to pick out some cigars and a lighter, so my checker had to go open a case for him while he stood there trying to decide what he wanted. On the other register, there was an issue determining the price of an item. So both lines became backed up. And you would have thought that, in the midst of a famine, we’d been in the bread line for 8 hours and when we got to the front they said they were out of bread. The people behind me were sighing and bitching and moaning and rolling their eyes and stomping their feet like this was the worst fucking thing to happen to them in their lives. And all I could think was: REALLY?

In my usual yin/yang approach to things, the more irritated they became, the more at peace I became. And, this probably says something bad about me, but I sort of enjoyed how pissed they were getting. Because it was so ridiculous and unnecessary and melodramatic and American. I turned around and smiled at their scrunched up, angry faces. They didn’t smile back.

I walked back to my car (parked in the usual no ding zone), and there was a black Corvette parked next to me. It wasn’t the bone doctor, sadly. Because that would have been awesome.

Anyway, I was not impressed with my fellow citizens by the time I completed my 30 minute journey home. But today is a new day. When I arrived at my office this morning, there was a little surprise waiting for me.

two tastes that taste great together - the marriage of two of life's infinite pleasures

That would be chocolate covered bacon, handmade by my coworker Shannon. A little parcel of the stuff was dangling from the handle of my office door, wrapped in red cellophane–reminiscent of uncooked bacon–with a twisty silver star ribbon wrapped around it for that extra splash of panache. And just like that, my faith in humanity was restored. By surprise bacon and a thoughtful friend.

Yes, of course it was delicious. Do you even have to ask? The saltiness of the bacon was balanced by the sweetness of the chocolate. The bacon was thick and just a bit chewy and the chocolate was thin and smooth.

Is this a great country or what?

oh, people

My employer emailed an electronic card today to our members that said “Happy Holidays” and featured an image of Grover and a little kid standing in a snowy field and looking up in amazement as animated snow falls. It’s a delightful picture full of childlike wonder, sure to soothe even the more hardened hearts among us. But evidently not all. Here’s a message immediately received in response to this cute holiday greeting:

it’s Christmas you pagan idiot.

Well, Merry Fucking Christmas to you, asshole. For one, the person who created and emailed the greeting is Jewish. For two, most of us – including my non-religious ass – are aware that Christmas has pagan roots.  Perhaps the crank who felt so moved to send a nasty message should spend a little more time reading up on his religion and a little less time being outraged.

And another step toward the idiocracy is taken… (This is why I’m not the person who responds to complaints over here.)

In other Christmas news, I was happy to purchase a Sit-N-Spin for my nephew, who is not yet two. (Funny coincidence – were I allowed to respond to the guy mentioned above, my message would include the phrase “sit-n-spin.”)  The gifts I got Rowan tie my childhood to his:

  • A Sit-N-Spin for old school action. Remember when we were kids (oh brother) and the upper disc of the S-N-S had a swirl design that turned into a never-ending spiral when you were in motion, thus adding to the trippiness of the experience? It’s gone. Today’s S-N-S is just solid colors. Bore-ring. Of course, these days kids probably place their iPods or mini-DVD players on the top part, so they wouldn’t see the spiral anyway. (Get off my lawn!)
  • A “laptop” for modern times. The age ranges on toys really give insight into how different kids are (or how differently they’re treated) now compared to 20, 30 or 40 years ago. The toys for two- and three-year-olds are highly technical, requiring dexterity and an understanding of electronics that I probably didn’t have until I was in third grade. The next generation may end up not knowing how to write in complete sentences, but even the most dim-witted of their group will be able to program the flight path of the space shuttle (if that program hadn’t been shit-canned in our era).
  • Clothes. The typical boring relative gift. I’ll back off the clothes buying once the kids are old enough to get it. I want to be the cool aunt, not the one who gives them socks and a sweater. But baby clothes are so fun to buy. That’s about all that Molly is receiving. She’s only five months, so she’s not quite ready for the laptop. Maybe a fake cellphone…

I should have time to write tomorrow because I’ll be one of, like, three people at work. But in case I don’t, Merry Fucking Christmas and Happy Goddamn New Year.

XO,
Crystal

Friday list

 

kill your TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

voter check-in shenanigans in Harris County

Today was my first experience voting in my new neighborhood. I’d voted in the Heights for the past 17 years or so, but I didn’t expect today to be any different except for the location change. That wasn’t the case.

I walked up to the table to register, showing my Texas driver license as I always do. I don’t typically carry my voter registration card because it isn’t the right size to keep in my wallet, and a Texas DL is an acceptable form of voter identification (as are much less unique items such as a utility bill or bank statement, things that can easily be lifted from someone’s mailbox).

After I’d signed my name in the voter log, the man checking me in asked if I had my voter registration card on me. I said that I didn’t, and he turned to get “the form.” I then noticed the man at the table next to him was looking at the folded up sheet in my hand (it was my list for the voting booth). I jerked my paper back, and the second man asked if that was my voter registration card. I said it wasn’t and asked what the problem was, stating that I always just use my Texas DL to vote. The second man said, “You can still vote,” to which I replied, “Oh, I know I can.” The second man put a check mark next to my name in the voter log while the man who’d checked me in wrote my name at the top of a form. I asked what this was about, and the second man said, “It’s something new. We’re always trying to improve the system.” Uh huh.

I voted and then came to work, having a good 20 or 30 minutes to stew about this in the car. On the one hand, I was able to vote, so it wasn’t like they kept me from doing what I came there to do. On the other hand, why did they put a mark next to my name in the voter log and write my name on a form? Especially when, being the anal-retentive person I am, I’d checked the Harris County website yesterday to be sure that a Texas DL was okay on its own. If they were keeping track of who had their voter registration card on their person for curiosity’s sake, they could have put a hash mark on a piece of paper. There is no reason they needed to know specific names. And I’m sure that a number of people won’t have their cards on them today, so that list would get pretty long and cause unnecessary delays.

I took a quick poll at work to see if anyone else had been asked for their voter registration card – 50% offered it up before being asked and 50% only presented their Texas DL. No one in my poll had been asked for their card after offering up their driver license. So what gives? Is this simply a case of two volunteers not understanding the process? If so, I shudder to think what other mistakes they are making today.

After my poll, I contacted County Clerk Beverly Kaufman’s office to let them know about this. They asked for a description of the two men – old white guys – and said they’d make sure to let them know that they weren’t following procedure.

I call shenanigans.

UPDATE (4:15PM) – I just received a call back from Beverly Kaufman’s office. The woman I spoke with this morning said that they contacted the polling place to find out what was going on. Seems there are some voters who have a little “ID Required” next to their name. The poll workers were instructed that if those people came in, their names should be placed on a list. She said the poll workers mistakenly thought that people who came in with only an ID (and not a voter card) should be put on a list. That’s basically the polar opposite of what was supposed to happen and pretty counter-intuitive to the entire voting process. You have to wonder how long this went on before they figured it out – I would imagine that backed the line up quite a bit.

It sounds to me like the volunteers didn’t understand the basic voting process, whether from lack of training or their own limitations. Remember that when I questioned them, one man told me they were “trying something new,” which obviously wasn’t the case. Accidents happen and mistakes are made, but this is a pretty odd thing to be confused by. And you want to limit confusion at polling places, or much bigger issues start to arise (see: Florida, 2000).

It also brings up another issue – who among us has an “ID Required” next to their name, and why? I “jokingly” asked if I have an “ID required” next to my name, and she said I do not. But I wonder if I might get an asterisk or something after today…

I did appreciate the follow up call on the same day from Kaufman’s office and the fact that they took my issue seriously. That’s pretty great.

you have the right to not be a dumbass

One thing I’ve been reminded of lately (since the NPR reporter was fired for talking shit about Muslims on Fox News and the school board member was “encouraged” to resign after writing on facebook that all homosexuals should commit suicide) is that there are a lot of people in this country who don’t understand the scope of the first amendment. It’s not just Christine O’Donnell! I thought that maybe I don’t understand the scope of the first amendment either, so I did a google. Then I cleaned that up and started writing this post. Because stupid poop jokes are supported by my right to free speech. USA! USA!

As a US citizen you have the right to say what you want (within certain legal limitations related to libel, slander, etc.). You also have the right to deal with the consequences of what you say. You can’t call your boss a retarded twat with bad breath and no work ethic and then cry foul when he fires you. Even if what you said is true, getting fired by your twat of a boss does not equal someone trampling upon your first amendment rights. Being fired is not the same thing as being jailed or stoned to death.

From a wikipedia article (I know) about the first amendment:

When considering private authority figures (such as parents or an employer), the First Amendment provides no protection. A private authority figure may reserve the right to censor their subordinate’s speech, or discriminate on the basis of speech, without any legal consequences.  All may dismiss their employees at will…for good cause, for no cause, or even for a cause morally wrong, without thereby being guilty of a legal wrong.

Then I thought, well, NPR is partially funded by the gubment, so maybe that makes a difference in this particular situation. Then I found this (from a long article about first amendment exceptions that I slogged through, just for you) about a case related to the firing of a federal employee:

In Arnett v. Kennedy, the Supreme Court again balanced governmental interests and employee rights, and this time sustained the constitutionality of a federal statute that authorized removal or suspension without pay of an employee where the “cause” cited was an employee’s speech. The Court interpreted the statute to proscribe only that public speech which improperly damages and impairs the reputation and efficiency of the employing agency…the Act is not directed at speech as such, but at employee behavior, including speech, which is detrimental to the efficiency of the employing agency.

NPR didn’t handle Williams’ firing very well from a political standpoint, but it was legal. There’s little doubt that a reporter openly talking about his fear that all people who dress in Muslim garb are potential terrorists limits his ability to do his job for NPR (but not Fox News, obviously). The dude probably should have been shit canned a long time ago – he’d flagrantly violated NPR’s code of ethics numerous times.

As for the guy on the school board in Arkansas suggesting that all homosexuals, including children, should kill themselves, he’s allowed to spew that vileness from a first amendment standpoint. At the same time, people in his community can call for his resignation without infringing upon those rights. Again – you can say what you want, but you have to take your lumps after you do so.

And PS – putting aside the horrible, disgusting fact that someone ON THE SCHOOL BOARD said he wants gay children to commit suicide, people should have called for McCance(r)’s resignation (or actually, never put him on the board in the first place) a long time ago based upon the fact that he’s obviously really fucking stupid. The VP of the school board repeatedly uses the non-word thereselves? Did it never occur to him to wonder why there’s a little squiggly red line under that collection of letters when he types it out? Repeatedly?

Maybe he’s too busy thinking about going to the gym later. They have a really great steam room full of naked, redblooded, heterosexual male Amurcans. In fact, sometimes he stays in there thinking about how all the gay people need to die for so long that he gets all wrinkly and dehydrated…

A Modest Proposal for Our Times

Life sure is getting complicated, isn’t it? From trying to figure out how you’ll retire in 20 years if social security is bankrupt to determining which couple to pick as the winner in your Dancing With the Stars pool at work, modern lives are a tumultuous, peanut butter and jelly swirl of opportunity and stagnation. Intellectual growth and non-masturbating former witches who are aggressively moronic. The Trevor Project and homophobic politicians who like to tap one out in the restroom at the airport after passing anti-gay legislation. It’s hard to keep up with the latest crop of sound bites spoon fed to us by the media, much less figure out if there should be an apostrophe in the first word of this sentence.

Let’s simplify one thing in our super busy lives. From now on, no more smarty pants comments in reference to a poorly spelled diatribe with horrible grammar in the feedback section of the online newspaper. What are you, an elitist? Perhaps you would like to marry your dog once you are done critiquing everyone else’s writing. Nerd. Sure, “Its so typical for a sochalist demoCANT to want take the easy road by taxing me to death meanwhile your not paying taxes of yourself” doesn’t make much sense on a literal level. But squint your eyes and tilt your head, and I think you’ll understand what Mr. Tea Party is trying to say. See what I mean? We really are all speaking the same language, though at times it feels like we aren’t.

Proposed Simplified Language, Draft One: Common Words.

ur: From now on, no more debate between your and you’re. If we all just use “ur,” we’ll all be right, ALL THE TIME!

thair: Instead of their/there/they’re, let’s go for the much more elegant “thair.” It looks European, doesn’t it?

its: Let’s just get rid of the apostrophe. Clean, simple and works for any occasion.

whoos: No more who’s/whose. Plus, this makes me think of an owl. Whoot!

moran: Let’s just all agree that we’ll spell it the way most idiots do.

We will never truly be equal until we are all equally stupid.

I do not think it means what you think it means

When I saw that a political campaign’s website – specifically John Faulk for Congress (he’s a Republican vying for Sheila Jackson Lee’s spot) – linked to last night’s blog entry, saying I was surprised would be an understatement. Did his staff actually look around my site at all? Or are they just randomly grabbing negative comments about SJL off the web and posting them? Come on, man. It’s well known that Lee gets in front of any camera she can. I was just going for the joke. And it was funny, so I have no regrets.

Anyway, in light of this information, I thought I’d share some information about Mr. Faulk. Here’s a quote from a news profile about him.

Faulk reflects, “I was fat and happy in my Lazyboy when God reached down and pulled me out of that chair to go and do something.   I don’t know if God wants me to win, but He does want me to run.”  Faulk adds, “He’s using me for something.  Maybe to get the ball rolling.”

Oh. Out of all of the missions in the world that God could have chosen for Mr. Faulk, He chose this. Didn’t slip the cure for cancer into his hand while he was napping. Didn’t inspire him to write a poem of such heartbreaking beauty and forgiveness and love that it caused all wars to immediately cease. Didn’t even give him a good baked chicken recipe. Nope. Just asked him to give SJL a run for her money.

The article continues to quote Mr. Faulk as saying that Planned Parenthood is “carrying out genocide against African Americans.” Did God tell him that, too? His website says he “wants to get business out of government and government out of business.” Shame that hands off approach doesn’t extend to a woman’s uterus.

Hey, Mr. Faulk, God told me to tell you that he meant for you to become a Civil War reenactor, and that you should play either Jackson or Lee. He says He’s sorry for the misunderstanding and has refluffed your Lazyboy.

[addendum: There's only ever been one proven case of men being on a mission from God. They even made a documentary about it.]

gubment services

Funny – after my post last week mentioning that we hadn’t gotten mail for the past few Saturdays, I suddenly received mail this Saturday like it was business as usual. Uh huh. Maybe they had to deliver on Saturday since today is a holiday.  Keeping my eye on you, USPS.

Via Americablog, here’s a sketch from Dr. House and some other dude about the privatization of the police force. Americablog shared this in response to the situation in rural Tennessee where you have to pay to have firefighting service. A guy didn’t pay the $75 annual fee, and when his house caught fire the fire department watched it burn down (with three dogs and a cat inside) because he “wasn’t on the list.” The firefighters (fire watchers?) were there in case the property of one of the guy’s neighbors (who had paid the fee) caught fire. The guy lost his house, his grandkids lost their pets and able-bodied firefighters stood nearby and watched. What a sad state of affairs.

In other news, here’s a funny post from Hyperbole and a Half about dealing with awkward social situations. Wonder if I should write in and share my “Uh, sorry. I have to go. Explosive diarrhea.” excuse. Works like a charm. Regardless of your station in life, whether you’re man, woman or child, you have, at some point, had explosive diarrhea. If you say you haven’t, you’re either lying or you have some memory loss you might want to get checked out.

you can do better than me

I haven’t poked any fun at Christine O’Donnell because she does a helluva job of that herself.  (By the way, Christine:  If God meant for people not to touch themselves, our arms would be short like the T. Rex.  And we would be so, so angry.)  When I saw her campaign video this morning, the one in which she tells the camera that she’s just like me, I felt compelled to comment.

This movement lately where politicians sell the concept that they’re just a regular Joe the Plumber, a regular Crystal the Sarcastic, doesn’t work for me.  I don’t want someone just like me running the country.  I want someone smarter.  More experienced.  Better able to pay attention to intricate, ever-changing details.  Not perfect.  But better.  They should be educated (real degrees, not University of Phoenix) and experienced leaders who understand how to make tough decisions and follow through on promises to their constituents, paying attention to the micro while keeping an eye always fixed on the macro.

If you don’t agree that an average Joe is not the way to go, just look around the table at your next staff meeting.  Picture one of those people suddenly becoming President.  I rest my case.

now you know why they were so angry

In other news, Paula Deen is going to market a line of fresh vegetables.  Chew on that.

burning sensation

PPBBBBT!

Whenever I read stories about instigating assholes like the “Christian” pastor in Florida who is calling for his congregation of 50 members to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11, I wish that the big foot from Monty Python would come down and crush the jerk. In what I find a fairly odd coincidence in this particular case, the “pastor” is named Terry Jones, not to be confused with the Terry Jones who was in Monty Python. Furthering the Terry Jones envelope, it would also be acceptable for the Terry Jones from the “church” to eat a wafer thin mint and explode like the Terry Jones from Monty Python.

Terry Jones the “Christian” is quite transparently hoping to instigate some sort of backlash from the militant Muslim community. Guess he figures maybe he can add a few more sister-fucking hillbillies to his church if there’s another terrorist attack. Says Jones, “We think it’s time to turn the tables, and instead of possibly blaming us for what could happen, we put the blame where it belongs — on the people who would do it.”

So what he’s saying is that it’s not his fault if his aggressive, disrespectful actions incite the very people he is trying to incite. It’s the fault of the people who get angry for allowing themselves to, uh, get angry. Following that line of reasoning, I could drive to Florida, find Terry Jones, and shit on his head. If he were to get mad about that, that’s his fault, not mine.

Road trip?

mother superior jumped the gun

my fourth birthday at Peppermint Park (RIP), 1974

A year ago Bookstop closed to much public furor, and the people cried. Two weeks ago KTRU was sold behind the students’ backs, and the people cried. Yesterday Angelika Theater was closed behind its employees’ backs, and the people cried. Some are pissed that interesting Houston institutions are going the way of a good Antone’s poboy. Others say that if the customers were there, these things would still exist. Money talks and bullshit walks in other words. And I say ENOUGH.

Maybe my problem is that I’ve lived here for too long. I’m third-generation Houstonian, so my roots run deep as far as this town is concerned. I’ve seen a lot of changes in Houston over the past four decades, and with the downfall of each cool thing and the raising of each strip mall to replace it, I feel a little less attached to my hometown. A little less like I live in Houston and more like I just live in a hot humid city with no mass transit.

The loss of Angelika and KTRU isn’t only about the arts community, just as the loss of Kiddie Wonderland and Peppermint Park wasn’t only about the under-12 amusement park-going community, and the loss of the Houston Post and the Public News wasn’t only about the print media community. Every time Houston loses a piece of what makes it unique and replaces it with a 24-hour Wal-Mart, a little of the city’s soul is lost too. Trying to stratify each loss as something that only affects artists or is only an issue for residents of the Heights is entirely too narrow-minded and dismissive of the bigger issue.

One of the reasons people stay in the same place (other than inertia) is because they dig where they are. They have roots. For me, man, I remember Kiddie Wonderland, a little amusement park just a hop/skip/jump away from the Astrodome (still a vibrant player when I was hitting the KW). My grandparents used to take my mom to Kiddie Wonderland when she was a girl (and totally in love with horses), and she grew up and took me there when I was a girl (and wanted to ride the “fast” pony). What I wouldn’t give to be able to take Tohner’s kids there in a few years and watch them out in that hot sun, riding a stinky horse while breathing in car exhaust. Do you think that sounds like a bad time? To me, it’s a perfect example of Houston as it exists in my mind. Old school Texas + modern car culture = incongruous experience that can only be found in Houston. Maybe I should say used to only be found in Houston. Things are entirely more sterile and generic now.

Today, I could take my niece and nephew for a little ride past the abandoned Astrodome (8th wonder of the world!) and show them a sea of CVS pharmacies across the street from Walgreens. This is what Houston is becoming. Chain restaurants, drive-thru pharmacies and big box retail, each block looking like the last. And I already know the other side. Why should someone keep renting land to a small business when investors from China want to buy the property? So what if these mom and pop places fill a particular niche for certain segments of the community. If the land owner can squeeze a few more dollars out of Staples, PetCo (where the pets go!) or Chili’s, begone independent business, and take your patchouli smelling, backward looking customers with you. Because MONEY is the only thing that matters. Right? I seemed to have missed that memo. Booze and laughter have been the driving forces in my life. And here we are.

Maybe I’m just becoming a curmudgeonly old biddy yelling at the kids to get out of her yard. Alls I know is, Houston is getting a little too Stepford for my taste these days.

Don’t even get me started on why I moved out of the Heights after 17 years…

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)

changing lanes

On my drive to work this morning, a man driving a big black Range Rover was riding my ass, inches from my back bumper. Perhaps he wanted to get a closer look at my fight stupidization sticker. After tailgating for a while, he made a few herky jerky moves to stumble through thick traffic, only to end up two car lengths ahead of where he was in the pack. I wanted to yell obscenities his direction – tailgating is such a dangerous, not to mention assholish, thing to do – but I’m trying to curb that bad behavior. My irritation doesn’t make the other guy drive any better and only serves to raise my blood pressure. Lucky for me, my iPod saved the day. Just as this guy made another stellar traffic move and ended up right in front of me, the chorus to the Beatles’ Girl started. Instead of yelling at the guy in hopes that he was looking in his rear view and could read lips, I sang “jackass” instead of “girl” at the appropriate time. (just take a moment to do that – it fits perfectly – “ohhhhhhhh jaaaackaaassssss…(inhale) jaaaackaaassssss”) It was surprisingly cathartic, didn’t raise my blood pressure and lessened the chance that the guy in the Range Rover might pull out a gun and shoot me.

There’s an article on chron.com today about the ridiculously hot summer we’ve had. As per usual with any post related to weather, there are the “global warming is real” crowd and the “global warming is bullshit” crowd tossing poop at each other in the comments section. What’s funny is that both sides have switched arguments from back in January when they were commenting on the unseasonably cool winter.

COMMENTS DURING SUPER COLD WINTER

AlGoreSucks: So where’s that global warming, huh? It snowed in Houston yesterday! Lemmings. You’ll believe anything some politician tells you.

Prius4Eva: There’s a difference between weather and climate. Temperatures for one season have little to do with the bigger picture.

COMMENTS DURING SUPER HOT SUMMER

Prius4Eva: Now do you believe in global warming? I fried an egg on the sidewalk yesterday. You science haters need to get with the program.

AlGoreSucks: There’s a difference between weather and climate. Temperatures for one season have little to do with the bigger picture.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so painful.

dilettantes and assholes

Recent search terms that brought visitors to my blog:

  • big naturals brandy
  • untightened lug nuts
  • dilettante psychology
  • dilettante prostitute
  • what to do with a dabbler dilettante
  • my husband is a dilettante and an asshole
  • don imus throat fungus
  • something rotting in the walls
  • masochist getting in a fight
  • dead fish galveston july
  • local houston armwrestling

I like the new variations on the dilettante-related searches – my favorite is “my husband is a dilettante and an asshole.” You have to wonder what the motivation was to search for that. Was the person looking for other people who are married to asshole dilettantes? Was the husband the one searching, trying to figure out what his wife meant when she yelled that at him after the wine tasting/company party/class reunion?

[imagine a smooth segue here]

Back when I was a bartender, I always worried about getting in a pickle like this. I did my best to cut people off when they’d had too much, and I drove many a drunk regular home in an attempt to keep them (and the cars they would have swerved past on the way home) safe. But when you’re working in a busy bar, you can’t keep an eye on everyone, you don’t always know who is driving and you hope that at least some patrons are able to handle their business like adults.

If you don’t feel like clicking the link, here’s the story. A drunk guy hung out at a bar after hours. Well, he hung out upstairs from a bar after hours with the bar owner and other people. While hanging out up there (and continuing to drink), he fell through an opening on the second floor to the street below. Instead of blaming the fall on his own drunkenness (assuming the guy is smart enough when sober to not fall through an opening in the wall), he decided to sue the owner of the building for not providing a “safe” place.

This story reminds me (tangentially) of the trip I took to Grand Canyon a couple of years ago. I was amazed at the fact that the potential for certain – and sudden – death greeted me at every turn. Being an over-protected American, I’d grown used to “stand behind this line” and safety rails and “do not enter.” At Grand Canyon, honey, you’re on your own. There are a few places that have waist-high railing, but for the most part it’s just you, the edge and a steep drop. It was invigorating to be in a situation where I was responsible for myself. I appreciated the challenge to not do something stupid, which is harder than you’d think. At least for me.

There’s an interesting book (Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon) that chronicles all of the deaths at Grand Canyon. There are stories about deaths from early trips down the Colorado to falls as recent as a few years ago. There’s the tale of a father who was trying to make his family laugh by “pretending” to jump off the edge – he’d planned to land safely a few feet below the path but ended up falling to his death. That’s the kind of stupid shit I am prone to do, though I was glad to find that I had enough sense to save the jokes for a time when I wasn’t standing near the edge of the world.

What I’m saying is – if you are an adult, stay away from the edge. It’s your fault if you fall off.

[and another segue here]

Finally – my favorite part of this story is the fact that he grabbed a beer on the way out. Way to go, Steve Slater! You, sir, are awesome.

lug nuts

As soon as I saw the hickey, I should have known how the rest of the transaction would go. I needed to replace a tire on my car. I bought the tire on tire rack and had it shipped to an NTB five miles from my house. Even with $18 shipping, the tire was still $50 less than what NTB wanted for it. All they had to do was put the thing on.

The guy who initially waited on me had a hickey on his neck. It has been so long since I’ve seen one of those things, I’d literally forgotten that they existed (much like the time I was reading plays at the Alley that were submitted by teens for a summer program, and one of the plays mentioned “fingering,” which is a concept that you sort of forget about once you start having the sex) (not that fingers are never used again, just that they are part of a larger piece of work rather than the destination, so to speak).

So the hickey guy asked me – in front of other customers – “Why did you buy your tire from Tire Rack instead of directly from us?” I told him about the whole price thing. In other words, I gave Tire Rack a free commercial in front of tire customers because hickey guy asked a dumb question he should have known the answer to. You know, since he works at a tire place. Maybe a better response would have been, “Because I have access to a computer, the internet and a debit card.”

It takes a good hour and a half for them to finally get to my car, though they pulled it into a bay right away. I like to keep an eye on things, so I made phone calls and stood in the parking lot (and 100 degree heat) to watch my car. For an hour and a half. Lucky I did because a) I got to see the lovely bird at the top of this post in the field next to the parking lot and b) they jacked up the wrong side of my car as if to replace the wrong tire. I had to go up to the guy to let him know it was the other fucking side. Sigh.

So I stood out there, talking to Tohner and then James and then my dad. Then I noticed one of the guys screwing a lug nut onto my car (without the tire having been put back on) and then taking the lug nut over to another guy. Obviously there’s a problem. I get off the phone, and they tell me that one of my lug nuts got stuck in the…lug nut remover (I don’t know what it’s called). When the guy beat on the machine with a hammer, the lug nut went flying.

Yeah? So what? So what that means is, they lost the lug nut. Oh, but they have another one. Sure, it’s longer than the rest of my lug nuts, but it’s pretty much the same otherwise. I suggest to the guy who lost my nut that we take a gander at the floor of the garage to see if we can find it. My car is only two years old, so I’m still sort of into it having matching parts. The duct tape and praying comes later. This search turns into me crawling on hands and knees around a dirty garage with my ass crack showing, and then standing up and hitting my head on a car that is jacked up to head-hitting level while sweat is pouring down my back and pooling in my bra. For fuck’s sake. Still no lug nut.

Two hours have passed at this point, and I just want to get out of there. So they go to put the mismatched lug nut on my car with promises to buy me a new one after I (gently) demanded they repalce the one they lost. The guy who lost the lug nut said, “Okay, I’ll pay for it. But I didn’t have to be honest with you.” I suggested to him that honesty should be a given in a business transaction and should not be something that you get a cookie for. Then I remembered where I was in time/history/location, we had a good laugh and moved on. At this point the lug nut replacer realizes that, hey, there’s already a mis-matched lug nut on this same fucking tire! So they’re getting all smug like ha ha, you already have one lug nut that doesn’t match, you can’t get mad at us. Uh, yeah I can. Because since I bought this car, I’ve only taken it to NTB to have the tires rotated and replaced. So that means one of those fuckers replaced one of my lug nuts at some point in the past two years but didn’t tell me.

They’re buying me two new lug nuts, but until they can be replaced I’ll have to drive with mismatched nuts.

I think if you added up every single time I’ve uttered/written the words “lug nut” prior to today, it would not equal the number of times I’ve used them in this post.

Lug nut.

clearing the air

  • I’m pretty sure that whatever died in our wall(s) and is decomposing has finally reached the point of not-so-stinky. It’s hard to be certain since James bought a number of plug-in air fresheners that have filled the air with the scents of “fresh linen” and “apple-cinnamon.” Going from one room to the next is like entering different smell zones. I look forward to getting back to our house just smelling like air.
  • We attended a wedding over the weekend that featured an entirely vegetarian spread. The people at our table who had come in from Tyler didn’t quite know what to make of it. I thought it was all delicious except for the tamale, which tasted like glue. I wore a dress for the first time in almost a decade and had to remember how to sit correctly. I’m like the awkward girl from the movie before the makeover.
  • Still waiting on the latest round of fight stupidization stickers to arrive. I’m happy to report that some folks who received theirs last week have already sent back photos of the stickers in place on their vehicles. Hoping more people will do the same, especially those who live in places beyond Houston (and beyond Texas).
  • For lunch today, I ate flavored tuna. It was “sun-dried tomato and olive oil” flavor, and though it tasted okay, I feel kind of gross for having eaten it. Tuna is best when it’s just tuna flavored.
  • I’m thinking about creating a website that specifically pokes fun at the stupid, ign’ant, racist, hateful, completely lacking-in-anything-related-to-reality comments that are left on every news story posted on the Houston Chronicle’s website. Is that giving the morons too much attention? Maybe the fight stupidization blog can feature a dumbass comment of the week or something. It’s either that, or I’ll have to throw my computer out the window. Don’t tell me to just stop scrolling down there. I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work. It’s compulsory.

what you’re doing

Since the radio show on Saturday, I’m happy to report that I’ve run out of stickers. I’m going to get more printed this week, so there shouldn’t be too much of a delay for the people who didn’t get one this round. It’s been great fun reading the various ways people are fighting stupidization in their lives (the requirement for getting a sticker is that the person making the request share their plan). A sampling:

  • I refuse to walk away from the frustrations of the political process and promise to stay as informed as possible. – Marco
  • Thanks for publicizing a tragedy in the making—the dumbing down of our society for religious and political short term goals. – John
  • Most importantly I will not let all my efforts to avoid stupidization turn me into a snob who constantly judges those who don’t fight stupidization. Well…I’ll only judge (and laugh at) them sometimes. – Brittny
  • I will try to do a better job of questioning my friends and acquaintances when they come out with a “stupid” comment. – Bill
  • Intellectual jujitsu is much easier when you know where their attack is coming from.  (“Did you know that they want to build a Mosque at Ground Zero!?”  Actually, it’s a community center they’re trying to build a block or two away, but if your preferred news source deliberately chooses an incorrect label to try to incite passionate opposition to the idea, what else do you think they might be lying about?) – Al
  • The way that appeals to emotion rather than reason have overtaken almost all political dialogue reinforces one of my favorite Charles Bukowski quotes:  “Politics is like fucking a dead cat up the ass.” – Wes

If you’d like to get on the waiting list for a sticker, visit the website for more details.

on the radio, on on on the radio

the sticker

Tomorrow (Saturday, July 24th) at 1PM-ish on KPFT 90.1, I will take to the airwaves. Larry Winters has invited me to join his Spare Change program to talk about what it means to fight stupidization. When this opportunity first came up, I wasn’t sure what I’d talk about. My fight against stupidization has always been through my plays and blog and, to a lesser degree, my interpersonal interactions (aka arguing with people while drinking). Not exactly fodder for compelling radio.

But fighting stupidization isn’t about me (that’s the direction I went at first because I’m incredibly self-centered). I’m just the keeper of the stickers and the person who brings it up all the time. The fight against stupidization is being fought by everyone (whether they know it or not) who refuses to participate in the dumbing down of America. Every person who is raising thoughtful children. Every person who doesn’t pollute their brain by paying even the smallest amount of attention to:

  • whom celebrities are screwing
  • what bombastic blowhards with radio programs have to say regarding topics they know very little about or
  • voyeuristic, exploitative “reality” programming that lowers the general IQ of the room by an average of 15 points per hour* (*85% of statistics are made up).

Just as the pendulum swings one way, it must come back the other. We may seem to be descending into the idiocracy right now as hypocrites of the world shit on our vision of what politicians, pundits, highly-paid entertainers and “responsible” major corporations should be. But just as we are drowning in refudiation, the pendulum will swing back the other direction. And there will be dancing in the streets. Maybe even homemade cookies (without raisins).

For my part, I pass out the stickers and tell stories. Sometimes those stories are subversive, using humor to wiggle past doorways that usually slam shut when people sense a “message” coming their way. That’s it. Well, that and the goal of having one Fight stupidization sticker on every 100th car in Houston to remind people that it’s okay to seek enlightenment, to have a thirst for knowledge, to teach the ignorant through exposure of their ill-conceived notions (or, if that doesn’t work, punching them in the face*) (*the fight stupidization blog does not condone violence), to spell out the entire word and to take time to gather information and formulate a thoughtful response rather than be in a rush to be the first to post a comment on facebook or twitter.

Tomorrow, Houston. Eventually, the world.

Please listen to the show tomorrow. Larry plays a great mix of music, so even if my segment sucks the tunes will be good. Also, I’ll be giving away bumper stickers.

betta check yo’self

There’s a story on chron.com today (that I think was actually written by someone in the paper’s employ – I didn’t know they still had writers on staff) about prospective employers googling prospective employees and checking out their facebook profiles prior to making them a job offer. After reading the headline but before reading the story, I was thinking that anyone who is interviewing for a job should be bright enough to know how to hide their facebook profile from people who aren’t their “friends.” Then I remembered that facebook keeps changing their privacy rules, and things that you think are private sometimes end up not being so through no fault of your own. Still,  it’s probably in one’s best interest to not put up pictures of yourself with a red ball gag in your mouth or doing a keg stand. Not because of job shopping, just in general.

All this to say, I was sort of on the side of the potential employer at the start. Then I read this quote:

Some of the finds have been amazing, he said. One was a swinger whose site included some indelicate information about his multiple partners, while another was a “left-wing, crazy tree-hugger guy” whose personal website focused on corporate greed and corporate pollution.

Huh. The swinger thing is kind of gross. And posting stuff online about one’s sex life probably doesn’t show the best judgment. But the “left-wing, crazy tree-hugger guy” is a bit more bothersome. Any person in a position to hire people should be aware that, other than those at the top who are making all of the money, most workaday folks think things like greed and pollution are BAD. So not giving this “crazy tree-hugger guy” a job that he must have been qualified for or they wouldn’t have been googling him in the first place is bullshit. (Unless the job was VP of Greed and Pollution, a position that I am starting to believe does exist at most large corporations. Then they have a case.) It puts too much power into the hands of the interviewer if they can dismiss a candidate based upon their politics or personal interests rather than their professional qualifications.

Just because you can’t find anything incriminating or otherwise inflammatory about someone online doesn’t mean that there aren’t incriminating or otherwise inflammatory aspects to their character (see: any politician legislating against gay marriage who is later found in an airport bathroom tapping his way into another man’s pants or coming back from a tropical vacation with a hired “baggage handler”). The tubes of the internet aren’t going anywhere any time soon (at least, not until December 21, 2012), so we’re going to have to find a way to work together in this new world of information overload. I’m not deleting my 700+ blog posts just because a potential employer might not like the fact that I use the word “fuck” on a regular basis. Fuck ‘em, fucking babies.

Of course, if I’m filling a position and see that someone reads an author I don’t respect or has kitten pictures on their facebook profile, I’m not hiring them. You have to have some limitations.

Palin around with (language) terrorists, or words have meaning

Sean and Stig fought stupidization in a parking garage in California

Lots of people are jumping on Sassy Palin for tweeting yesterday that Muslims should refudiate a mosque near the World Trade Center location. As a person who writes a lot, I don’t find it at all odd to mis-type a letter (in this case, replace the f with a p for repudiate), but that doesn’t seem to be what happened here. Once people started mocking her on twitter, she deleted that tweet and changed it to “refute.” Um, closer? She then went on to say that Shakespeare made up words all the time, so get off her back.

Huh. First of all, I’m amazed she spelled the Bard’s name right. Second, why is she unable to ever EVER accept responsibility when she fucks up? I mean, getting a letter wrong, or even getting a word wrong, isn’t a big deal. People tweet all kinds of stuff that is screwed up by their iPhone auto-completing the wrong word, creating a scandalous or unintentionally funny tweet (imagine mistyping, “washed my puppy today – my kids were trying to help but got soaked!”).

She could have used the web browser on her phone to google the definition of refudiate, then, not finding one, corrected her tweet with the right word and moved on. Or she could have made a joke about clumsy thumbs. Instead, she tweeted the same thought three times, finally addressing the “refudiate” issue by suggesting that she, like the most prolific writer in the history of the English language, is creating new words for the lexicon. Because she’s such a word girl. If she were creating a new word, she wouldn’t have deleted the original tweet in the first place and then retried it two times with other words. And if she were so interested in language that she would be the type of person who creates new words, she’d probably be able to name a few publications that she reads beyond Lipstick and Ammo.

This brings me to a greater point about stupidization (which first appeared in my blog in June of 2006 and is purposely used knowing it’s not a “real” word) (I’m just like Shakespeare!). Stupid people act like being well-read is something that only effete liberals in New Yawk City do while drinking coffee made from beans that were pooped out by a weasel onto the Sunday edition of the New York Times and ground into a beverage by illegal aliens who are stealing all the good jobs. Stupid people see the pursuit of knowledge and information as being something negative that real, honest to goodness Amurcans don’t have time to do, what with killing the terrorists and watching Midget Dance Contest and wearing flag lapel pins made in China. Stupid people are so deathly afraid of being found out, they craft ridiculous excuses for the mistakes they make instead of saying, “Hey, I typed one letter wrong on Twitter. Get a life, you jackals.”

But the problem here is, it wasn’t a mistyped letter. It was the exposure of someone who values talking points over in-depth knowledge, visceral emotion over reasoned thought and hateful close-mindedness over global awareness. Not everyone in America is a white, straight Christian conservative. Refudiate that, Sassy.

people get ready…


…there’s a weather media blitz a comin’. The strong start to hurricane season is getting everyone’s panties in a wad, so in honor of that I thought I’d share the hurricane preparation guide I wrote for Houstonist back in 2007. Didn’t know I used to write a fake advice column, did you? You did? Oh. Then why didn’t you read it? Bastard.

(To see the original version, click here.)

Print this up and tape it to the inside of your bathroom cabinet in case of emergency.

- If you are faced with an imminent flood, tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster, the first thing you must do is pick a fight with your spouse or roommate. At some point during the weather event you’ll probably be without power – meaning no TV or internet – so you’ll need something to occupy your time.

- If you manage not to lose your electricity (or have a generator because you’re a militia member), make sure you watch the Weather Channel. When Hurricane Rita was swirling our direction, the Weather Channel didn’t change the tone of its music to reflect the utter scariness of the storm. Nothing like bringing in all the plants and lawn furniture and pausing, arms full, next to the television to see the massive red and yellow satellite image of a storm that is bigger than Texas spinning ominously in the Gulf to the sounds of light jazz.

- If you have a canoe or other form of water transport, take your kids out for some fun in the flood. It’ll be like a mini-vacation. Have plenty of antibiotics on hand for the inevitable full-body rash or intestinal disorder that’s sure to follow.

- If your car floats down the freeway, sideways, take a picture to send out with your next holiday card. Inside the card write something breezy such as, “Oh well, it was dirty anyway.” Impress friends and family with your ability to overcome any obstacle with a cheery disposition. Do this before your insurance agent tells you that “acts of God” are not covered in your policy.

- If your phone is working and someone from out of town calls to check up on you during some particularly heavy rainfall, ask them if they know when you’ll be getting more of “the wet stuff.” Actually, only refer to the bucketfuls of rain being dumped on the city as “the wet stuff” for the entire weather event. If things with your spouse/roommate aren’t bad yet, these words said over and over in a singsong lilt will be sure to finish the job.

- If you hear the sound of a train outside, that’s probably a tornado. Unless you live next to railroad tracks, in which case you need to determine if it’s a train or a tornado so you can prepare appropriately. If it’s dark outside and raining so hard you can’t see past your own ghostly reflection in the window, go stand on the tracks. You’ll be able to feel the vibration of a coming train through your shoes. If no train is coming, run back to the house and seek shelter in the safest interior room, excluding any room that features your spouse/roommate. That would just be awkward.

- If you’re considering evacuating town when the authorities tell you to do so, stand on one end of your living room and run as fast as you can across the room. When you reach the other side, ram your head into the wall. Hopefully that will knock some sense into you, and you’ll keep the car in the garage.

- If you don’t have the necessary hunker-down supplies on hand, go to Spec’s. When Hurricane Rita was just hours from landing and most businesses had closed their doors and nailed large planks of plywood over their windows, Spec’s on Smith Street was open for business. If the storm has a fortunate name like “Rita,” you can go thematic. We could wait for years before Hurricane Red Stripe arrives, however, so in the interim here’s your generic shopping list: booze, crunchy snacks, fruit, deck of cards, candles, bottled water, cured meat, crusty bread and chocolate. These items will see you through anything. Plus they’ll still be useful when the skies have cleared, unlike all those batteries you bought.

[The photo features James standing in our driveway after Hurricane Ike in 2008. Our house is to the right and the garage is buried behind all of that tree debris. That house, which we no longer live in, was surrounded by huge old pecan trees that had never been trimmed and, thus, had a shitload of limbs ready to drop on our noggins. Luckily, nothing came inside the house. But it was a bitch clearing out the driveway. Our very elderly neighbor - who has a heart condition - came down with his saw and helped us out. The guys across the street had to cook up all of their frozen meat - we ended up being without power for a week - so a group of us had potluck each night. Ended up, between three or four houses we had plenty of meat, wine, veggies and candlelight. If I sound nostalgic, I am. It was in some ways very freeing being without power for that long. The nights were quiet and unseasonably cool for September. Then the fucking generators started and it was like living next to an airplane. But it was fun while it lasted.]

bullshittery

A friend of mine passed along a link to a blog that is being written by someone he knows who’s obviously bucking for a book deal. She almost comes out and says as much, continually comparing herself to the writer character on Sex in the City. The site has a very strong “brand” to it – the color palette, logo, etc. are all ready for print, tee shirts and the “movie based on the popular blog.” She is chronicling dating after divorce, and her attempts at being edgy or provocative come across as contrived and unnatural. It’s an awkward read, so of course I shared the link with my brother Tohner. After reading it, his response was much more enjoyable and way funnier than her blog. (In fact, I laughed so hard that I snarked some green tea on my computer screen.)

As this article attests, there are lots of abandoned blogs liberally sprinkled around the internet – people thought they’d immediately get a million readers and didn’t, so they quit writing. Or they thought publishers would beat a path to their door and didn’t, so they quit writing. If I had to wager a guess, my bet would be that this chick writes for a few more weeks and then gives up the ghost. It’s hard to build an audience – in the beginning, you’re not even sure if anyone is reading the thing because they want to or because they landed there via googling for something else. You have to do it purely for the experience of doing it, at least at the start.

Lucky for me, I started blogging for myself – to make sure I was writing something other than grant proposals every couple of days and to record some of the funny and/or awkward things that happen to and around me on a constant basis. That has slowly morphed into somewhat of a conversation. People are feeling more inclined to comment (here or on facebook), which I love love love. Though I do enjoy the sound of my own voice, it’s always nice to hear a response or three. [Especially when you guys knock me upside the head when I say I'm conflicted about what to do with my life - EVERYONE pretty much feels that way. It was good to be reminded that I'm not alone or particularly special in that regard.]

Even though I make my living as a grant writer and write plays on the side that generate a tiny amount of income, I’ve never wanted nor expected my blog to turn into a paying gig. It’s purely about communicating. Nothing more, nothing less. I think that you would sense if I were trying to impress some unknown $$$ entity with my wordsmithery (bullshittery, really), and I think it would turn you off. It wouldn’t be genuine communication, it would be a job interview. And who wants to read that crap?

the defendant is…

…not guilty. So says a jury of her peers. Well, the jury actually thinks she’s probably guilty of something, but the state didn’t prove that beyond a reasonable doubt so she is “not guilty” as far as the court system goes.

Now that the trial is over, I can talk about it. Twelve of us were brought together to hear the story of a woman, now 42, who was allegedly involved in a drug deal four years ago. Not a little bit of dope – we’re talking a kilo of cocaine. She wasn’t the point person for the deal (which was made with an undercover officer), nor did she participate in any negotiations or money exchange. She was accused of bringing a plastic bag, inside of which lay a brick of coke, to a restaurant and giving it to her employer (she was a maid/nanny). The employer was the one who did the deal and was the target of the investigation.

The question was, did the defendant know what was in the bag? An even more simple question: was the defendant involved in the exchange at all? Here’s the deal. The undercover officer testified that the transaction was a “buy-walk,” wherein the deal was supposed to be one step along the way to developing a relationship with the seller such that she would eventually lead the cop to her connection (who would be a big drug dealer, according to theory). After this transaction, the undercover officer found that the boss lady was not, in fact, the connection to the big guys that they thought she would be, so she and the defendant were arrested two years ago for this one drug deal. And for almost two and a half years, both have been in jail waiting for trial.

The night that the deal occurred, the undercover officer was working with 12 to 16 other officers who were working surveillance. He was also wearing a wire. Yet there were no stakeout pictures, there was no video or audio played and there were no other officers to corroborate the undercover officer’s story. There was the kilo of coke and the officer’s word. That was it. And if you’re going to convict someone of being involved in that large an amount of narcotics, the sentence starts at 15 years and goes up from there. We didn’t feel like we could convict this woman based on the officer’s testimony alone.

In addition, the officer didn’t seem to have read his report before coming to court. He didn’t remember very much about the transaction, so we had to sit there in silence while the defense attorney directed the officer’s attention to various sections in the police report to refresh his memory so he could answer questions. So, he didn’t have good recall. Strike one. The 12 to 16 officers working with him the night of the drug deal didn’t have tangible proof or even offer eye-witness testimony. Strike two. We twelve jurors had reasonable doubt. Strike three.

Though many of us felt the defendant probably was guilty of poor judgment at least and criminal intent at worst, the cops didn’t do their jobs to allow us to reach that conclusion. And even though a couple of the jurors mentioned Arizona and illegal immigrants during our deliberation, the entire two or three hour discussion (they took our phones – I have no idea how long we talked) was remarkably civil and respectful. The three or four people who initially voted guilty changed to not guilty with grace and honor – and, most important, honesty – and I think we all felt empowered by the experience.

The twelve of us – three engineers (civil, electrical), a lawyer for domestic violence cases, two IT people, a grocery store employee, a truck driver, a homemaker, a City employee, a guy who builds metal buildings and a grant writer for PBS – were all able to put our biases aside and answer one question. Did the state prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt? The answer was no. In fact, when the two lawyers came to talk to us after the verdict, I asked the prosecuting attorney if he was surprised by the verdict. He said that he was not. So he knew what kind of case they had. And I can sleep at night knowing we made the right decision, based on the facts as they were presented.

holy shit knuckles

I’m not sure what that title means. It’s the only thing I can think of that encapsulates this day of mine.

First, I reported for jury duty a little before 8AM. I usually roll into work “around” 9AM, so I had an earlier start than usual. I planned ahead and brought my laptop with me, expecting the usual jury duty experience of hanging out in the big room waiting for my number to be called and eventually being dismissed right around lunch time.

Not today, my friend. I was in the second group called. 65 of us were taken over to the courthouse to experience the singular joy of voir dire with our “peers” in Harris County. You know how I’ve bitched about the anonymous commenters on every story on the Houston Chronicle’s website? How I’ve said that they aren’t representative of the city as a whole? Okay, I still believe that, but I also believe that about 20 of them were in the group I was in today. The vileness that some of these people spewed – hatred for illegal immigrants and anyone who doesn’t speak English, self-righteous anger about situations they don’t totally grasp but have no trouble passing judgment on… I’m sure some of them just wanted to get out of jury duty, but some of these people are carrying some stone cold, impotent rage around with them.

A couple of times, I said – out loud, “Well that guy’s obviously trying to get out of jury duty.” A couple of people chuckled and a couple others hissed. I think they thought I was a witch. At one point, the most vile of the viles was explaining why he judges people purely based on how they look/dress/talk – he explained that his day job is “observing people,” so he is very astute at determining who someone is just by their outward appearance. I said sort of under my breath to the guy next to me, “Yeah, his day job is being a serial killer,” which, if you could see this guy, totally fits and was a funny thing to say. The guy next to me didn’t understand a word I said and asked me to repeat. I was already worried I’d get in trouble for talking – you know in voir dire they love to make you talk – so I just shut up after that. No point in under breath muttering if there’s no one to appreciate it.

As the questions, and the vileness, wore on, I began to really hope that I was chosen just to up the defendant’s chance at having at least one sane person who was willing to listen to the case and make a non-judgmental judgment. And so it was. Once it’s all over, I’ll talk a bit more about the experience of sitting on a jury. Since it’s my second time, I think I’ve effectively broken the generations-long run my family has had of never being chosen for a jury. Lucky me? Maybe. It’s a lot more interesting than what I usually do during the day. Speaking of – I put the fact that I work for PBS on my juror form. And I was still chosen.

Second, I got home from a long day at the courthouse to find the proof for my first publication sitting in my inbox. I’ve signed off on it, so Please Remove This Stuffed Animal From My Head is coming in book form. As soon as it’s posted online, I’ll share the link in case you’re in the market for a short play to read (the purchase of which kicks a little money back your friend Crystal’s direction).

seven year bitch (not really)

As of this weekend, James and I have been together for seven years. That’s a long time. To celebrate, we went out to dinner. A foursome sat down at the table next to us, and one of the men proudly proclaimed to have “both Aspergers and ADHD.” He appeared to be with his mother. The other couple might have been his sister with a guy she hasn’t been dating for a long time OR his sister with a guy she HAS been dating for a long time but has kept away from the Aspergers/ADHD brother for as long as possible. Other than seeming to be rather self-involved and obnoxious (saying the word “mayonnaise” in every permutation he could think of, over and over), the guy was just like any other boring 45-year-old balding white guy on a double date with his mom.

Aspergers is one of the disorders du jour. In my over-simplified understanding, it is something that is not as serious as autism and is mostly centered around having shitty social skills. If the latter is the key to diagnosis, we all suffer from Aspergers here and there. Case in point: I went to a barbecue yesterday. There were quite a few people I’d never met before at the party. Though they looked like perfectly lovely, intelligent people, I had little interest in talking to them. One woman approached me, James and Robert and engaged us in a chat. We talked to her for a while. After she walked off, I realized that I just wasn’t in the mood to meet new people.

Do you ever get like that? Sometimes I really enjoy talking to someone whose bullshit I don’t know and who doesn’t know my bullshit. Then at other times, I’m reminded of that Seinfeld where Jerry talked about not really being interested in getting any new friends. That the friends you have at, say, 30 or 40 are pretty much the people you’re stuck with, and you’re no longer “interviewing” new people. I guess it just depends on my mood. I used up all my chatty stuff when we had our show last weekend and didn’t have any juice left. And I’m not saying any of these people wanted to be my new best friend. I’m just saying that I didn’t have the brain juice to have conversations with strangers and was more inclined to shoot the shit with the guy I live with and one of my oldest friends.

This doesn’t mean I have Aspergers. Maybe just that I have Assholers.

opinions are like assholes…

…everybody has one.

I was at a party recently. At this party, I mentioned our upcoming (at that time) Houston Fringe Festival performances. One of the party guests, a person who lives in Austin and whom I’ve only met one other time, said the following:

If you want me to edit your plays for you, just send them to me. Wouldn’t charge you anything. Happy to do it for free.

I laughed and said, “Oh, playwrights don’t use editors. It’s not that kind of writing.” To which he responded (because he obviously wasn’t listening):

I’ll be happy to redline it for you. You know, especially if you ever want to get published. You’ll need an editor.

I didn’t laugh this time, but I did smile as I said, “Funny – I literally just signed my first publishing contract two days ago! So I guess I’ve got that covered.” He didn’t stop. He said something else about “helping” me out with my writing because he “has an English degree.” I don’t really know what else he said because I walked away while he was mid-sentence. He’s probably still talking in that dude’s driveway, not having noticed that I’m not standing there anymore or that the earth has rotated 12 times and everyone else has gone on with their lives.

You have an undergrad English degree? That’s rare. And you don’t work as a writer, nor are you a playwright? And you are, in fact, a blowhard who has a big stain on his shirt and some roast beef in his beard while he’s talking to me? Wow, I’d have to be crazy to pass up such a stellar opportunity.

Speaking of blowhards, I just visited the KHOU website to read a news story someone posted on Twitter. I’ve never been to their site before, and I was saddened (but not surprised) to find that the people commenting on stories there are of the same non-variety as the people who post on the Chron.com website. When I decide to leave Houston, I’ll have to make sure I don’t judge the next location based upon the comments that are left on news sites. Even the local “left-wing” rags are starting to attract these faux-patriotic ball suckers, I’m sorry, teabaggers to their stories. It’s tedious.

don’t think I won’t cut you

To call the parking lot at AvantGarden a clusterfuck is being too kind. It supposedly accommodates two rows of cars with enough space between to back out, but even in my compact car I find it hard to leave. It takes about ten back-and-forths to finally free yourself.

After our show last night, Dennis found that he was blocked in by two vehicles. First was a very large pick up that was parked perpendicular to all of the other cars and was blocking in four cars. Then, next to Dennis’ vehicle was a car that parked in a no-parking area (there’s a tree in the spot that makes it such that only a smart car or scooter could fit). So its ass was sticking out into the free zone, further blocking him (and other cars) in.

The staff at AvantGarden tried to find the owners of the cars, but no one claimed them. So the only thing left to do was to have the bitches towed. As we waited for the tow truck to come, a man approached the pick up with some drums. We asked if it was his vehicle. He said it was his friend’s. We let him know that they needed to move it because a tow truck was on the way, and the guy immediately let us know “there would be a big problem” with the owner of the truck if a tow truck came. He was being very “hard” about the whole thing. Dennis and I had passed our point of tolerance, and we let him know that we “already had a big problem” with their shitty parking job. I guess two middle aged theatre people aren’t too scary because this guy kept talking shit. Then his big bad mofo friend came to the truck and talked more shit.

Seriously? You’ve blocked in four people, and you think it is asking too much to move your vehicle so the people who’ve been waiting for over 30 minutes can leave? Is there no civility left? (Because there’s certainly plenty of melodrama still around…) AvantGarden is a very interesting space to hang out in – in addition to the fringe festival the past few days, there have been fashion shows, DJs, bands and I guess a drum circle of assholes. Makes for an ecclectic scene both inside and in the parking lot.

Anywho, we had another full house last night. And it was actually a bit cooler since it was cloudy all day. So other than the parking lot sitch, ’twas a lovely evening of theatre. We have one more show tonight at 9PM. Please join us. Just do yourself a favor: park in the neighborhood and walk a block or two.

bitches

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

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

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

large (chicken) breasts, dumbasses

I bought a package of chicken breasts for dinner last night. They were supposedly of the no hormone/organic variety. Looking through the plastic, I thought the 1.5 pound package had four breasts – two for dinner and two for lunches today. But inside, there were three. Two regular sized breasts and one DDD. I don’t know what was up with that particular chicken, but I hope she was popular with the boys. Still, it was kind of creepy. No one really wants to eat a mutant breast for dinner. At least, I don’t.

I’ve written before about my frustration with internet bullies, specifically of the anonymous flavor. They feel free to spew vitriol and misinformation that they don’t have the conviction or balls to express around 3-dimensional people. People who could, for instance, kick them in the nuts when they start going off on some bullshit tangent. There’s an article on Houston Press today about the immigration rally over the weekend. Of course the story is bringing the cranks out of the woodwork – most of whom I’m sure never read the HP.

Anyway, here was my slight contribution to the bullshit in the comments section. For context, I wasn’t addressing my comments at any one particular person, but USA1 wrote about a third of the 50+ comments on this story, so I’m not surprised he felt the need to respond. Twice.

CRYSTAL WROTE:
I may not be remembering my history correctly (lord knows we like to change it around here in Texas), but didn’t our ancestors who arrived in Ellis Island basically just have to survive the trip by boat? And then give a name and some simple paperwork when they got off the boat?

Here’s something from about.com regarding the process at Ellis Island back in the day:

“Once the immigrant arrived in Ellis Island, he would be questioned about his identity and his paperwork would be examined. Inspectors were usually foreign-born immigrants themselves and spoke several languages so communication problems were nearly non-existent. Ellis Island would even call in temporary interpreters when necessary, to help translate for immigrants speaking the most obscure languages.”

USA1 WROTE:
Crystal- Common sense would tell you that alot of the immigrants that came through Ellis Island didn’t already know English.

How many of those immigrants took the time and effort to learn English after they got here? THAT is what we’re discussing here. Do you think our Gov’t printed everything in their native language like they do now in Spanish? Hardly.

CRYSTAL WROTE:

USA1 – I never claimed to have common sense. But thank you for taking the time to tell me what “we’re” discussing here. Judging by the number of times you’ve felt compelled to comment on this story, I wouldn’t really call this a “discussion” so much as one of those parties where there’s that one obnoxious drunk guy who keeps telling people the same boring story over and over again and people feign having explosive diarrhea just to get away. But I digress.

If I did have common sense, I would suggest that the number of different languages spoken at Ellis Island would have made printing up forms for each language cost-prohibitive. That, and the whole thing about “printers” having not been invented.

USA1 WROTE:
Crystal- You do realize the majority of my postings here are answers to questions, right?
Your ridiculous posting about Ellis Island is
not a epiphany, I already know this. Everyone already knows this. Like I said, it’s common sense. Thanks for your 4 cents tho!

HAHA! He got mad because I told him that if I were to interact with him in public I’d fake having explosive diarrhea rather than talk to him. What a jackass.

douchebag

We had another great rehearsal tonight. I was gathering my things when one of the actors came back into the rehearsal room with the news that her car was blocked in and she couldn’t leave. Being the type of chick I am, I thought, I’ll move this little lady’s car. No problem.

Then I saw that she wasn’t exaggerating. She had about an inch and a half behind her (as noted in the photo above) and maybe four inches in front. When she parked, she was the only car on the block. The car behind her was the worst offender. It was parked almost on top of her, it was over the red striped lines that say DON’T PARK and, of course, it was a fucking Mercedes with a handicap tag on the rearview.

We stood there for a long time, waiting for the douchebags to return to their vehicle. I was primed and ready to read someone the riot act unless a) they were old or b) they seemed compromised in some way. We saw lots of douchey cigar smoking office guys who looked promising, but they kept walking. We saw young hipsters in expensive clothes who might’ve borrowed Peepaw’s car, but they kept walking. We saw a middle aged lady in a neck brace who would have only gotten a slight chiding, but she kept walking. Slowly. After nearly an hour of this bullshit, we were going to call a tow truck. Then the chick decided she would risk the structural integrity of her car to play bumper cars to get out. She had to hit both cars, front and back, numerous times (something I wouldn’t have done with my car ’cause I’m funny that way), and after about ten tries she was out of there. I used the pent up anger I felt at the situation to pen the following (with help from Abby and Robert who were standing nearby):

You almost got towed tonight. Lucky for you, we aren’t the inconsiderate asshole that you obviously are. Learn how to park.

I realize there is still the possibility that a cute little old lady drives that car and genuinely didn’t know what she was doing. But we were there until about 10:30, well after the Alley, Wortham and Jones Hall had puked out their audiences. If it was a grandma, she was getting her drink on somewhere. So I think she can handle the note.

comments policy

When I set this blog up five years ago, anyone could comment on my posts. Anonymous, spambot, real human person with a soul. Then the “investigative news story” about Houston Arts Alliance rolled around, which included yours truly and painted me as some sort of lefty pornographer, so I had to change the comments policy to approval only because I started getting a number of lurid come-ons and wingnutish insults. And you know that each and every nasty comment came from the same entity – anonymous.

I guess you could say I have a “thing” about people leaving anonymous comments. Some of you who comment here don’t put your given name, but you do choose something that still tells me who you are. That’s fine. And some comments come from people I’ve never met. That’s fantastic. But anonymous? Me no likey. Yesterday, I decided to change the comments policy back to open season. And last night this blog received an anonymous comment. That didn’t take long. And, as is the way with most anonymous comments, it was a little…argumentative. Nothing big. Just a slight poke in the side. I didn’t respond.

Do I have a distinct point of view politically? Yep. Does it come out in my writing? Sometimes. Am I looking for an anonymous commenter to show me the light? Nope. Do I invite people with different points of view to comment here? Sure. But put your name down, for one. And don’t expect me to have a change of heart or argue with you, for two. (Unless I’ve had a lot of coffee – then I might be up for a fight.) I’m not writing things here in hopes that I’ll change someone’s mind about an issue or get them to do what I would do in a given situation, nor should you expect the opposite. I’m reaching out to you, finding connections, trying to make you laugh, occasionally venting about things that drive me crazy and mostly leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that I can trace back to see where I’ve been. That’s all. No more, no less.

I appreciate each and every one of you who takes a few minutes to read this bullshit every couple of days, and I love getting comments. But if you’re going to take the time to write one, tell me your name. Maybe we can have a conversation.

Signed,
Crystal Fucking Jackson

fire ants, douchebags and butt cracks

Judging by the most recent Pithy poll, 31% of you have fantastic jobs that you love. Good for you. Another 43% of you have a job that pays the bills, and you do what you love in your off time. Also acceptable. Only 24% of you want to jump out a window or set the place on fire, so that’s not terrible.

Onions, potatoes and garlic aren’t the only things growing in my garden. Last week, I found two fire ant beds, one of which grew up into my above-ground garden. Obviously I couldn’t put something like Amdro on the beds since I hope to eat what I’m growing, so I had to find an organic-ish alternative. After a bit of googling, I ended up on this helpful page. I used the Orange Oil Recipe for Fire Ants, and I’m happy to report that it worked almost immediately! No more fire ants, at least in that location. I found a jug of orange oil at Lowe’s for about $15. I’ll use it for cleaning until more ant beds pop up, which they invariably will. Little bastards.

As I mentioned yesterday, I met some friends for happy hour at Onion Creek. Hadn’t been there since leaving the Heights back in October. Man, where did all the douchebags come from? I know they were sprouting by the time we left, but they seem to be in full bloom now. The place was crawling with them. Girls in shorty shorts and booties wearing hoodies and scarves (scarvies?). Um, are you cold or not? Pick one. And the guys. Many who were close to my age were wearing faux vintage tee shirts (Tony the Tiger? not GGGGGGGGreat) and white belts looped around expensive jeans. Every outfit smacked of trying too hard to look like they didn’t try too hard. Bleh.

I was having my own sartorial issues last night. I was wearing some low rise pants with a shirt that wasn’t quite long enough, so I had to position my backside such that it was pointing away from the other drinkers. This was easy when we were sitting on the patio in the corner. Not so easy when we had to go inside to get away from the rain. I had to pull my shirt down and then lean back against the chair to keep the crack to myself. Klassy. At least I’m honest with myself when I’m being a jackass. I need to plan my drinking outfits better next time. Maybe to fit in I’ll wear a knitted cap, tank top, ski pants and stilletos.

don’t go in there!

I’m having some people over this weekend to help me end my 30s on a drunken note. I was just mentally taking a trip through my house thinking of final preparations that need to be made before we have company, and I was reminded of a party from long ago. I lived with Ed and JC then, and we had a big Christmas blowout. Aware of the fact that some people are nosy and will look through yo shit, including your medicine cabinet, we decided to rig the cabinet in our main bathroom.

I don’t remember everything we put in there, but I know for a fact there were suppositories, a length of rope and a pair of handcuffs that didn’t have a key. That last fact ended up being important when one of my inebriated friends (who shall remain nameless) rambled out of the bathroom with his hands cuffed together. “Ha ha, where’s the key?” he asked. Yeah. So, drunk myself, I had to use a knife to free him from his metal wrist prison.

We won’t be rigging the medicine cabinet for this party. If someone wants to see where I keep my toothpaste and eyebrow tweezers, more power to them. Just hope they ignore the rope.

cranky cranks

Those of us in Houston know that the majority of people who comment on the Houston Chronicle‘s stories are conspiracy theorists who hide behind the anonymity of the internet to spew vitriol. Typically, they choose to blame every ill on either Obama or illegal aliens (or both, if you go with the Obama-wasn’t-born-in-Hawaii fantasy). Even the most innocuous story about puppies and rainbows can somehow turn into a series of tirades from people who can’t spell, love guns and Amurca and generally come across as cranks. Cranky cranks.

There’s a story today about an old coot who shot a gun during an argument with his wife (he was drinking, she was not). Since he’s old, white and a former Marine, the majority of commenters just think it’s a cute little story about a guy who’s a real character. If this had been a story about a young man with an Hispanic name, they’d be yelling for his death and/or deportation (even if the story never specified that he was illegal – Chron.com posters assume anyone with an Hispanic last name is an illegal alien), talking about how their taxpayer dollars paid for the six hours of the SWAT team’s presence. They would especially take issue with his “threat” to take down “the whole [expletive deleted by the Chronicle] Army.”

I know, I know, it’s my fault for scrolling down there and reading that bullshit. I do this to myself.

In other local news stories, girls named Crystal are trashy and usually end up in prison or stripping.

a study in contrasts

I mostly listen to my iPod while driving because it offers a more diverse selection of music than Clear Channel radio. Still, sometimes I want the randomness that radio occasionally provides. My favorite local station is The Gulf Coast Rocker (89.7FM), but their signal is hit/miss – including this morning. So instead of listening to a good selection of rock and some awkwardly read news, I ended up flipping back and forth between 97.9FM The Boxx (hip-hop) and 93.7FM The Arrow (classic rock redundancy). ‘Twas a study in contrasts.

The Arrow is rarely on in my car in the morning because the Walton and Johnson show is so unfunny and lowest-common-denominator-focused it makes me want to throw my radio out the window. The two white guys on the show do a number of characters including a, what, transvestite (?), a hillbilly and a “black” guy. They treat their listeners like hungry dogs that have been chained up in the yard, constantly poking, prodding and provoking. They had plenty to say about the health care bill this morning, and let me tell you – it was ugly.

The Boxx, on the other hand, is a frequent addition to my drive. Their Madd Hatta morning show is populated with people who aren’t dismissive or hateful, nor are they pushing a particular extreme political point of view. The part of their show that I heard this morning was about the little girl who was shot in the attempted car jacking in Houston a day or two ago. It was a real look at a heartbreaking story, and it made me feel like I was listening to human beings who were trying to connect instead of characters who were trying to incite anger in order to increase their fringe listener base.

I realize that most of us have permanently secured whatever filter we see the world through and aren’t looking for “enlightenment.” But this isn’t to say we can’t learn things from people who hold different opinions. It’s just that most public discourse has been turned into us vs. them, so there’s no wiggle room. Just as I pledge my undying love for Jon Stewart (who at least makes fun of liberals, too), there are a number of people I know who would never watch his show. Which is how I feel about Glenn Beck and Rush. And Walton and Johnson. We’ve allowed ourselves to be stratified into two camps, when in reality we’re in a thousand camps. Human beings are more dynamic than this or that, black or white, liberal or conservative. And most issues (like the health care bill) are more complex than just yes or no.

I don’t get too political in my blog – I generally save that for other avenues. I don’t expect my opinion on an issue to at all impact what you, dear reader, think. Sometimes I have to vent and do so – it’s my blog, after all, and you can always move on to the next jackass – but most of the time the things I write about strike a chord with at least a few people regardless of their political point of view. I wrote yesterday about hiding people on facebook. I’m sure plenty of my conservative friends hide people like me when I post things like this.

So, see? That’s one thing we all have in common. Kumbaya.

sweet, sweet torture, bitches, coffee

I just started writing what may or may not end up being the play I produce in the Houston Fringe Festival, and it may or may not involve a bit of boss torture. I’ve found it somewhat cathartic to consider the various non-bloody ways to torture bosses from my past (my current boss is awesome) (I’m not being sarcastic – she’s a personal friend) (as opposed to a “work” friend, who is generally someone you wouldn’t talk to outside of the office because the only thing you have in common is work, and who wants to talk about that shit when you’re having “free” time) (it’s the same as having an “elevator” friend – you know, someone you bond with because you’re both stuck on the elevator, only after you’re free there’s really nothing else to talk about except how shitty it was to be stuck on that elevator).

Here’s a link a friend of mine posted on facebook today. It lists the various types of “bitches,” according to an angry and somewhat precocious third-grader. Or, a third grader who has an older sibling. Let’s see…I would fall into the following categories of bitch: 18, 26-28, 62 (after lunch) and 68 (if I had a store).

Curious about the blogger who posted this list, I googled his name and ran across another entry of his detailing a bad experience at a coffee shop. Funny how what he probably considered to be a throwaway blog entry blew up into something else. I mean, the Washington Post covered the story. Then again, look at (fill in name of stupid politician/whorish, drunken young actress/person interrupting someone at awards show). We are a nation of minutiae-watchers and big picture ignorers.

(and PS – when I was a bartender and someone ordered something that was just wrong, like scotch and tonic with a lime, I’d serve it to them with a smile and then make fun of them when they walked away – I would never refuse to serve someone something just because I thought it was against nature) (that’s kind of the whole point of the service industry) (there sure were a lot of parentheses in this blog today)