Sunday, December 31, 2006

sneaking into 007

My end-of-the-year reflection is a goulash of imagery and words.

I listened to Garrison Keillor read a poem called "Benediction" and talk about the life of Henri Matisse on today's edition of The Writer's Almanac. It was velvet and uplifting and hopeful.

I watched Saddam Hussein have the noose placed around his neck in the video of his execution. It was barbaric and chilling and foreboding.

This week, especially, has been filled with delight and despair. Our children are home for a holiday visit. Their wisdom and peculiarity and beauty are are my treasures. Spent yesterday going to museums and bookstores with my daughter. We had an unhurried lunch and time to laugh and talk and be silent. I temper the urge to overwhelm her with my joy; our relationship seems a deeply-rooted but fragile rebirth. I have become very aware that a year is too long to go without seeing either of them. I kiss my sleepy son good morning (at 2 p.m.) and receive his disgruntled sweetness as a gift.

The despair part is more about the world in general. From today's New York Times:

The execution block scenes offered a grim echo of the sectarian struggle now convulsing Iraq, as Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads engage in a implacable cycle of revenge that has killed as many as 3,700 civilians a month this year, and prompted many Iraqis to say that the killings ushered in by the overthrow of Mr. Hussein are becoming as brutal, and numerous, as anything he inflicted.

3,700 Iraqis a month. A month. Jesus Christ, how we've poured gasoline on and fanned the embers of hatred.

We also watched Deepa Mehta's film Earth, based on Bapsi Sidhwa's novel
Cracking India, her autobiographical recounting of the partitioning of India. Brutal and compelling. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims lived together in relative harmony in Lahore for ages and she chronicles how lifetime friends become violent enemies by the time the country is partitioned and Lahore becomes the capital of the Punjab province of Pakistan. I have no solution, just the affirmation that violence begets hatred begets violence.


Holidays are about food. The gift of it. The sensory delight in it. For me, the perfecting of a dish.

Holidays are about laughter. The sound of it. The contagion of it. The way it cushions and clarifies truth.

Here are my end-of-year and holiday images. In no particular order.

The perfect pie, thanks to Christopher Kimball and the gurus at Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. Culinary deities every one of them. This baby tasted as good as it looked. And it looked gorgeous. For all of you who have suffered through my pastry strutting this past week, I vow this will be the last you hear about my damn pie.

And this gem from which captures these young men (one might infer drunken young men) calling to confirm their reservation for three in Satan's basement cafe. If there is a god and said god didn't find this funny, you are all in for a long, depressing afterlife. These guys made me laugh for days. I only wish I had thought of it first.

And finally, my parting grammatical shot for the year:

Will somebody PLEASE explain to these cretins the accurate definition of "literal"? A company cannot be "literally" born. It is "figuratively born" or plain old "born," used with the assumption that no behemouth, gravid being squatted on the race track and squeezed out Henry Ford's factory.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

contributions to atheism

Over the past two days two famous men died: James Brown and Gerald Ford. James Brown died at 73; Gerald Ford was 93.
I'm talking about James Brown here. James Motherfucking Brown. Sweating, rocking, living on the edge. And Gerald Fall-Down-Yawning Ford. Gerald Ford got an extra 20 years, for christssake. What kind of god would stand for this crap? That's rhetorical, my good readers, I really don't want to debate god's mysterious ways. I'm just remarking on the wrongness of it all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

my new title

Today's word of the day:

bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH; brih-\, noun:
Construction or something constructed by using whatever materials happen to be available.
I want to be a bricolager. A bricolagette even. Maybe do a little tinkering on the side. It's the MacGyver degree.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Here are some things that I think need correcting:

  • The scent they use to disinfect the bathrooms at work is that pungent fake green apple smell. I don't know. Perhaps I don't want to be thinking about the taste of Jolly Ranchers during the elimination rite. Unless, of course, I just ate a bag of them. Then I'd deserve the noxious combo.

  • When a driver approaches a busy intersection with the intent to make a left turn and doesn't pull out into the intersection (in case the only opportunity to turn comes when the light turns yellow) I think the driver directly behind The Timid One should be able to ram them gently into the correct position. Otherwise, you end up sitting through the light cycle several times while Mr. Clueless waits for a sign from god or something while I am visualizing getting out of my car, marching over to their window and explaining to them, in my most flowery language, that city driving is not for pussies like them.

  • I love Christmas. Not the shopping part. Not the god part. Just the festive, family, friends and food part. However, I have recently discovered that my allotment of holiday spirit is finite. I went to the Post Office this past Monday. Most of my shipping had been done the week before, and I just had few items left. It was 7 a.m. and I stood in line behind the blessed automatic postal machine.

    I fucking love the automatic postal machine. And I am fast. So the two people ahead of me get finished and I begin my speedy little screen input when a woman gets in line behind me with an assortment of large packages. She's just inside my personal space and her body language is screaming impatience. Oh, for fucksake, I think, you'd better hope the poor sap behind you has more patience than you do, bitch. It's here where I begin to realize that my holiday spirit could be drained before the day had even gotten started.

    I place my last item on the scale, a small gift for our host daughter and her family in Finland, and Nosy Pissypants says abruptly "You can't use the machine for International." I soon learn that she has never used the holy machine (which she doesn't deserve–the regular cattle line is already snaking outside the large post office area and that's where she belongs) and she's trying to tell me, High Priestess of Automatic Interfaces, how to use it. We are not amused. I turn to her and say, "That's funny, the screen says I CAN ship internationally." At which point I turn and press the clearly visible International button and began typing "Finland" on the keyboard...maybe a little slower than I'd been typing before her arrival.

    After I get my international stamp, I walk over to the big drop contraption and put in each regulation-sized box. On the last one, the barrel jams. I am so tempted to skip away. But I don't. I find a kindly but not confidence-inspiring postal employee and tell her that the box wasn't too big but it jammed anyway. The Procrastinating Know-It-All now standing in front the machine crabs loudly, "They didn't tell me the boxes have to fit in there!" "Well," I replied, "they do." And I felt my waning holiday spirit flutter back to life.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

how it sounds to me

Does anyone else hear Fruit of the Loom and automatically merge Fruit of the Loin with Fruit of the Womb? Anyone? This happens to me all the time.

Monday, November 27, 2006

homage to fug

Here's how those brilliant, sharp-tongued, riotously funny, women described one of Posh Spice's (aka Victoria Beckham) outfits at TomKat's wedding (scroll down to #4):

An insane arts-and-crafts fetishist. This one is fantastic. Now, granted, she didn't wear this to the wedding itself; just to some of the paparazzi-baiting festivities beforehand, whatever those were (the official blessing of the pre-nup, perhaps, or free Scientology classes). But there's something so magical about the fact that she ever even put this on at all. She does know the difference between decolletage and decoupage, right?
The difference between decolletage and decoupage? That is just perfect. Really perfect. I bow down in homage and verbal envy.

I freely admit that I didn't even know who Posh Spice was before I became a fugisciple. And I still react to most celebrity names with a look of mild retardation. Like dryer lint would be more fascinating than the red carpet parade hot-air balloons. However, if Heather and Jessica of fug fame were to write about the gauche behavior of the aforementioned dryer lint, I'd line up to read it. It's not the personalities, it's the critique. Bravo, you most unladylike women. You bring new meaning to the domestic science of slicing and dicing.


Thanks to Lori & Mary, I can send my Tourette's humor into semi-retirement and focus full-time on making fun of a fresh disorder: Jumping Frenchmen of Maine. That's right, boys and girls, that's what it's called. Here is the definition from Wikipedia:

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a rare disorder originally described by G. M. Beard in 1878. It results in an exaggerated "startle" reflex, and was first noted among related French-Canadian lumberjacks in the Moosehead Lake area of Maine. It is not clear if the disorder is neurological or psychological.

The "Jumping Frenchmen" seemed to react abnormally to sudden stimuli. Beard recorded, for instance, individuals who would obey any command given suddenly, even if it meant striking a loved one, and repeat back unfamiliar or foreign phrases uncontrollably. Beard also noticed that the condition was often shared within a family, suggesting that it was inherited.

It's cruel and unusual punishment to even insinuate that this disorder is not fodder for mockery. Startle a Québécois woodchopper in a New England church and just see if you can stop laughing.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I wish I knew the emoticon for chestbeating victory.
Here's my lame attempt:
We divided and conquered; the attic is now debris-free. And as we went into the ring this week with more heavy duty filters than last week, the sinus reaction was...well, less dramatic. We also turned the oldies station up loud. All nasty projects should be accompanied by bouncy, corny, sing-a-long music.

And, the other results are in. Strangely disappointing: neither one of us has bragging rights for finding any pest remains. No bones, claws or tails. And I was looking. But I wasn't playing CSI; there was no sieving of dusty dirt piles. We had a job to do. Barbara did find an old bottle of Castor Oil. Have no idea how old it is but my guess is that the dregs are no longer odorless nor tasteless as the label claims. She also found two newspapers–from 1936. Must have been a good year to work in the attic because I swear it hadn't been touched since. They were both fairly degraded and brittle.

Okay, so we're targeting our next project on the road to renovation. I know you're all waiting with bated breath. Or is it
baited breath...probably not, who wants their breath to smell like bait? Anyway, we're hellbent on not losing momentum. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


For me, the suburbs were to culture what gore-tex is to sweat: wicking away any music, art or literature of substance; while paradoxically allowing the clammy moisture of the banal to stay close to the soul, chafing if one ventured off the well-beaten track. Perhaps that's why I am drawn to urban living. All those years of wanting something richer, I can't imagine myself ever moving back to the land of strip centers, malls and restaurant chains.

Which is not to say I don't periodically enjoy a big bowl of mac & cheese while watching The Simpsons in a sweatsuit. For balance. I mean, to balance out the symphony and haute cuisine not that I need the sweatsuit to balance. I'm sitting on my ass for the tv/comfort food ritual–not really in any danger of tipping over.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

waits for orphans

Tom Waits has just come out with a new collection of songs. It's called Orphans; Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards. How could you not adore this man (and his wife) for the titles alone? Seriously, I mean adore. Sacrifice-your-virginity-to level of adoration.

Blues, Ballads and Noise. I have long imagined a dotted line running from my brain to my crotch—cutting figuratively through the middle of my heart and soul or spirit (or whatever I am calling it these days). Anything that strikes a simultaneous vibrating chord, satisfying intellect, emotion, soul and desire is a rare truth. A moment of perfection. A glimpse at godhood. Art or thought or person or song. It doesn't matter–the unified plucking of a string that reverberates at all points is not limited by form.

More than any songwriter, Waits did and does this for me. His songs, old or experimental, make me feel plucked to life. My children heard his rough-lullaby voice all their lives. There are songs that I connect so strongly with each of them, I can hardly bear those songs in their absence. The love songs he rasps to life that make me think of Barbara pull at my heart like no others.

The man and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, are fucking geniuses and I'm happy to drop the 40 bucks to pay my humble disciple dues.

P.S. And thank you, Rich, for the NPR link...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

attic in progress

15 hours and three filled-to-overflowing city trash containers later, we've finished cleaning about 3/4 of the attic.

In addition to the previously mentioned fear that the spaces between the attic beams were probably never intended to be weight-bearing, did I mention that scattered about are nail spikes coming up through the floor? Did I mention that much of the attic floor is threaded with electrical cords that qualify as antiques? Cleaning under and in between these electrical lines made me wonder which quadrant of our house would suddenly lose power.

Still no carcasses. Barely any bug shells for that matter.

In the open ceiling area in front of our bathroom a large, dinosaur attic fan sits. We drop bags and bags of debris between the large rusty fan blades. Temperatures dropped last night to the upper thirties. This morning it felt like I was showering outside. Like Catherine O'Hara says in Beetlejuice, in "an indoor outhouse."

We are learning to "hop" mountain goat-like from beam to beam. That alone should make anyone who knows us smile. I would not choose as my animal representative anything that could be described as nimble-footed. I am much more ever-observant but weary bluetick hound type.

[I wrote this post, or sketched it out last month and forgot to publish it. For those of you who are paying attention to such details, my apologies.]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

where does all the dirt come from?

Before I forget, we created a wedding announcement for the online Houston Chronicle "paper." It is hokey but sweet to have an official announcement.

I've been thinking that the Democrats need to pick three or four issues and make some progress, rather than tackle 50 social problems and dissolve into egalitarian squabbling and posturing. That seems like a simple concept but of course, it's not. In keeping with my microcosm reflects macrocosm and visa versa, I thought we might take the same approach with our little world here. So we picked our first thing–the attic. The unfinished, debris-laden attic.

Our attic is accessed by a small, being-John-Malkovich-sized hole in a narrow 9-1/2 foot ceilinged coat closet. It is, without exaggeration, a fucking small entry space. We've tacked up a piece of plastic over the hole to prevent the outside elements from coming in willy-nilly, but let's face it, a piece of plastic is no kind of insulation. It does, however, come down pretty easily.

Our goal is to clean up the attic. Clean it up and prepare to remodel the space so it is a working room with storage. I keep telling people that it hasn't been tended to in 35 years, but that may be an uncharacteristic understatement. Our house is 86 years old. I swear to god there is more than three decades of debris up there.

Up we climbed. We placed a half-dozen 4' by 1' boards across the support beams so we wouldn't have to balance on those sturdy but narrow 2" wide beams as we cleaned. The floor in between these beams is, of course, the ceiling below. It consists of what appear to be fairly sturdy, wide planks of wood. However, this doesn't fill me with confidence as I can't figure out exactly how thick said boards are nor from which direction they have been secured. And I am motivated as much by my fear of falling through the ceiling below, as I am by having to explain to the EMT how I broke my leg and why there's a plus-sized hole in the ceiling above me.

The space in between these beams is chock-full–and I mean to the brim–of broken bits of wood, chunks of old roofing, dust clumps, dropped ten-penny nails and copious amounts of silty dirt. There are the requisite number of tetanus-shot-baiting nail-ends coming through the roof and sprinkled dangerously around the beams. The beams that were tacked up like no human beings would every actually walk around this space. It looks like what you would expect the structure of a grown-up tree house to look like. Pieces of wood in varying stages of soundness, nailed up all over the place. Like cartoon characters slapped up boards with their oversized hammers.

We begin the slow process of sweeping up these three-foot alleyways, filling small plastic bags with giant splinters and dirt. I tell Barbara that the first one of us to find the dead carcass of some long-gone creature/squatter would win the prize. Of course, the person who doesn't win, wins as well. We sweep, bag and shift foot by foot. Poking deep in the eaves with our brooms, disturbing the very birthplace of any number of Stephen King-like stories. It's a relatively cool day in Houston. In fact, when I was downstairs for a period of time, I got chilled. But it took less than 5 minutes in the attic to begin to sweat. No wonder our energy bill is ridiculous. This is like having a rustic cabin stuck on top of our house venting the cooling/heating to the great outdoors.

Did you ever do something to which the outcome was a dreadful, foregone conclusion but for some weird reason no consequence ever materialized? For instance, if you snuck out of the house at night and quietly crept back in at 3 a.m. You know that your parents will kill you if they catch you. As you tiptoe through the kitchen to your bedroom, you knock into the pot rack and a pot is jettisoned and hits the ground with a clatter that almost makes you lose control of your bowels. You stand there in frozen, reverberating silence waiting for your parents to appear and your life to end. And nothing happens. A relief, of course, but unnerving on some plane. Well, that's the critter story. There is no reason that we should not have grabbed (with gloved hands) some dessicated rodent carcass during our archeological dig. It only makes sense. But–nothing. I'm relieved but disturbed. Then, it is Houston and if something once crawled up there to live or die, the heat probably would have evaporated and crumbled their remains in no time. Then again, we're only about a quarter of the way done.

Everything hurts and we haven't even had a night to stiffen up. There's a meconium-like substance coming out of my noise everytime I blow. Tonight I will dream of elves with winches and enormous vacuum cleaners.

Friday, November 03, 2006


We are coming to the end of our week in Vancouver. We had crisp air and sunshine for the first five days and constant rain for these last two. We are currently in a very busy internet cafe/billiard hall in Vancouver's West End. The clientele is almost exclusively young and Asian. It's far too noisy for real writing. At least for me.

Barbara and I have had a wonderful week together. Starting out with getting married on Monday. More about that later–if it seems there is more to write. Mostly, it was a lovely affirmation of the relationship we already have. And a strange, unexpected rush at being legally recognized for the first time in 20 years. If only for the few days north of the U.S. border.

We've tasted incredible salmon and tried several variations on the local dessert: nanaimo bars. We've been wined and winded (flatlanders from the land of cars plunked down into this hilly, walking city). There've been wonderful homecooked meals and ferry rides and conversation. The cold weather has been unexpectedly pleasant. I generally hate the cold but for some reason, these 40-45 degree days have been lovely. Until the rain. Cold and wet is cold and wet and not pleasant in any climate.

There is talk among our friends of a future journey by car and camper to Alaska starting in Alvin & David's hometown of Fort Nelson. Right now, the idea of walking in this climate is pleasant but it might be stretching my capacities to actually camp in a place more than 1,000 miles north of here. Nevertheless, city girl here is not ruling it out.

Monday, October 09, 2006

have you ever...

Have you ever been talking to someone you've known for years and they tell you something they've told you (several times) before as if you'd never heard it? Don't you find it painfully hard to resist asking, "Have we met?"

Have you ever run into the bathroom, your bladder tap-tap-tapping on heaven's door, only to find that the boorish cretin preceding you didn't do the all-important
turn and check before exiting the stall? Boorish cretin with careless elimination habits. I never think about boxing someone's ears. In this situation, it's the only appropriate response.

Have you ever waited behind someone at a red light, for what seems like hours, only to have them turn on their signal after the light turns green and you're hopelessly stuck behind them? You hadn't been given the head's up to go around them because they were too busy unwedging their head from their ass to nudge up their signal stick. Then, they have the nerve to look indignant at your gentle gesture of disapproval.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

rage sabbatical

The rage sabbatical is going well. Exhaustion, apathy and the return of my sense of humor have pretty much smothered the embers of fury. Or banked them.

My dear friend Joe suggested I read, after I made a particularly lascivious remark about the ravishing Helen Mirren. (I'm not 100% about the connection but it's beside the point.) My god, what a bitchy funny blog. This delighted endorsement is a window into my warped persona. You can tell so much about a person from the things that
really amuse them. I've been reading and wheeze-laughing for hours.

Barbara and I are currently fighting the hate-grocery-shopping/ must-go-grocery-shopping battle. And we're going down in flames. Sucked into the warm, welcoming oatmeal of inertia. What is up with this? The weather's finally nice and we're only shopping for the two of us...yet, it's as if we've come down with agoraphobic lethargy. Don't get me wrong, it's not pathological yet--we're bathing and all. It would be creepy if it weren't so womblike. Okay, that's kind of creepy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


There's a saying in political circles, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Well, boys and girls (and the gender dysphoric), I've been paying WAY too much attention. I'm attempting a rage sabbatical for a couple of days. So that my self-digesting stomach gets out of the driver's seat and back in the trunk where it belongs.

Monday, October 02, 2006

black monday

When I start the day feeling out-of-sorts and the first task Monday morning is to attend a “photocopier training” seminar (for chrissake), well, you know the rest of the day is going to involve a lot of restraint. I just put on my headphones and listen to Luciano Pavarotti at full volume and hope his magnificence can blot out my malevolence.

look, she blinked

So this weekend was something of a bust. You know those lead aprons you wear at the dentist to prevent you from having freakshow children? Well, it was if I were wearing the full-length trenchcoat version with matching longjohns. Because when I'm in that kind of a funk, I become glacial in my movements. Pre-global warming glacial, I mean. It occurred to me that I was so incredibly slothlike for a time that one might say that I was like a flower opening...time-lapse photography would be the only way to detect movement. One might say that.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Ran downstairs to stand on a muggy, overcast downtown street at noon today. I wanted to hear the bells as they began to toll for the late Governor Ann Richards. As the peals grew louder, I could have wept. God, she was fabulous. What a dynamic life she lived. She was and is a beacon of how powerful women can be. How dedicated politicians can fight the good fight. Adios, you ass-kicking, no bullshit beauty.

And in a celebratory non-sequitur, tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. All you sharp-tongued, salty scum out there say
arghhh. If you need help, watch this.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

hooray for salvage

Our 25-year old hot water heater began to die this summer—like so many appliances in our house of late. Anyway, the old thing had begun to leak, bleeding out via a pvc pipe into the backyard. A trickle at first and then a slow, steady rivulet running down the driveway. I was pretty sure I knew where this was going.

We weren't ready to buy a new one. The one we want to install when we remodel is one of those cool, waterless, wall-mounted, heat-as-you-need water heaters. But that would require plumbing work that couldn't be done without being halfway through a renovation that we had barely started.

Our friends, Lori and Mary, were going to pull down some crown molding from their friend's house that was slated for demolition. They asked us to help them transport it home in our truck, so we went over there yesterday only to find a relatively new water heater left behind. Lori called the owner and cleared us for pillage. What a huge stroke of luck.

We spent the morning unhooking, draining and transporting the "new" water heater. Why is it that one nut is always, always set in granite? All the other pipes and nuts loosen up as designed except one. Calcified, fossilized and sealed. Anyway, we got the fucker unhooked and on the truck with some effort.

Then, we spent part of the afternoon draining and removing the dying relic. This old one was bigger and heavier and rusted. After we finally picked it up, staggered to the door and slid it down the side stairs into the backyard, we prepared to install the windfall water heater.

Due to the accumulation of water, rust, dust, hair and godknows what else, the substance in the catch pan beneath the old heater was world class sludge. If we'd had time to run an electrical current through it I'm fairly sure we could have created life. As it was, I scooped and paper toweled the slime until the drip pan stopped looking like a dying pond. That, my friend, will make you feel tough. I know grown men who would have paled at the thought of getting that goop on their hands...

Anyway, the new water heater has been hauled and installed. It has been filled up, fired up and if our luck runs well, our morning showers will not be taken in cold, brown water. When warm, clear water is all you need to start your Monday off right, you know you've dropped you expectations low enough. Any lower and you'd celebrate waking up with a pulse.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

what a prince

British press accused of snooping on royal family
Big deal. Come up with a better headline because spying on the royal family is the raison d'etre of those tabloids. I generally avoid celebrity gossip because it is so paralyzingly boring and because tabloid publishers are such bottom feeders. (Even though I think the royal family would be royally miffed if they were ignored by the slimebags.) Anyway, my apologies to those who followed the Diana/Charles divorce affairs and were privy (don't you love my accent) to this tidbit. I must say I never really liked Charles until now:

LONDON -- British police were questioning a reporter from the country's biggest selling newspaper and another man today after some of Prince Charles's staff suspected eavesdropping on their phones...

If confirmed, it would be the worst revelation of snooping on the royals since...tabloids obtained conversations of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his late wife Diana talking to their lovers...

Charles was recorded memorably telling his then mistress Camilla Parker Bowles -- now his wife -- that he wanted to be reincarnated as her tampon.
Reincarnated as her tampon? That is so GREAT. Loved the woman's happy place and wasn't afraid of feminine hygiene products. What a real man. How could I have missed this?

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I can hardly watch the news anymore. But occasionally the DVD ends and before I know it the news is on the screen. Sometimes FOXnews because the only time I turn on the tube is for The Simpsons or King of the Hill. How can a station be so cartoon humor savvy and so utterly disgusting when it comes to news reporting? If you can even stretch the definition of news reporting to include them. I join my voice to the chorus of critics. Alarmist, sensationalist, pandering dunderheads. And Geraldo is their idiot king.

Read A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's been on my to-read list for years and I was spurred on by her interview with Bill Moyers. It is gripping. And considered by many to be required reading for all feminists. I think it's required reading for all thinkers.

Speaking of feminists, many women have a negative reaction to being identified as a feminist. I don't really understand that. Partly because I never was a feminist when the movement was at it's height yet I find the philosophy more applicable today than ever. Of course, I wash down my feminism with a big mug of humor.

I thought perhaps we should call ourselves suffragettes. It's so much...cuter than feminist, don't you think? And that's what scares women about being a's not cute enough. But nobody even knows what suffrage means anymore, so I say we call ourselves

feminette (n):
1. A woman who believes in equality for women but doesn't want guys to know how much.
2. a great name for a sanitary napkin
Saw a big-ass SUV with a bumper sticker "I Support Wind Energy." Perfect.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

bug and bug-eyed

I am at home today with a second-rate virus persistent enough to produce a mild fever and sore throat but not disabling enough to keep me in bed all day. I've slept all I could, soap operas bore me senseless and I've just finished a book. Blogging seems like the next best activity. Or I could do my ironing. Nah.

Dan Savage writes a great article about Washington state's supreme court decision not to overturn that state's ban on gay marriage. He talks (hilariously) about the weakness of the argument(s) used by those opposed to gay marriage. He sees it as a sign of victory on the horizon. The man is right on.

Just finished Larry McMurtry's
Lonesome Dove. Did not expect a tale of the Old West to unsettle me so much. He can paint a vivid literary picture. And of course, it's not just about cattle ranching and Mother Nature's hardships. It's about the hideous and heroic aspects of human nature. The stuff of all good novels.

I am maybe half-way to my goal of reading all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels ever written.
Lonesome Dove is one of these. I don't think that winning a Pulitzer Prize means that something is the very best. It is naive to think that any awarding body makes decisions free from politics or personal bias. However, the odds of reading something of literary value are pretty good with Pulitzers. Even if that occasionally means slogging through works like Updike's incredibly annoying Rabbit series. In addition to narrowing down the overwhelming quantity of available fiction, I rely on the recommendations from friends and people whose opinion I value. I've been pretty happy with the results.

Bill Moyer's interview with Margaret Atwood did not disappoint. And it made me return to the issues surrounding atheism that have always bothered me. Atheism can become a religious dogma. First, I want no part of an organized belief system. Second, I have difficulty embracing a concept that is rooted in the absence of a thing. The negation of God alone seems a thin premise for a personal philosophy. I would rather be a skeptic. Understanding that there is much that can't be answered and becoming comfortable with that lack of absolute knowledge. But continuing to explore ideas and challenge unfounded claims of truth. Spirituality may just be our organism's construct and I can prove neither the existence nor non-existence of a deity. My logic tells me that stories told to comfort ourselves about death and the unknown have been historically just that: stories. Which have value in so many ways...but not as absolute truth.

Don't you love the photo of Mel Gibson that's accompanying the drunken tirade "the-jews-are-what's-wrong-with-the-world" articles? Bug-eyed terrorist. He looks like a bug-eyed terrorist. I'm sure that's helping him smooth things over.
Hey, it's your Anti-Semite debutante "coming out" tequila party, Mel. Congratulations! If you remove the a-z, Mazel spells Mel. Mel Tov.

Sometimes I read the News Bizarre.

Monday, July 31, 2006

a little bit of this

Two stories that seem related:

Hmmm. Crime rises with temperature...perhaps U.S. politicos can use this angle to get off their collective asses and start addressing global warming.

Today I overheard one of my more endearing co-workers quietly sigh, "I wish I was magic." It made me smile.

A story in today's Houston Chronicle:
Fight against childhood obesity starts with communication

The second paragraph reads:
"To ignore the weight issue (of an adolescent) is almost like the elephant in the room that no one's talking about," said Roberta Anding, a clinical dietician in adolescent medicine at Texas Children's Hospital."
An elephant in the room? Is that the most sensitive metaphor you could come up with, Roberta? Very nice.

Mel, Mel, Mel. What a lethal weapon your mouth turns out to be. There's nothing like getting drunk and letting it all hang out, eh? It's not like there aren't left wing crazies out there but there's something very special about a famous "closet" bigot slipping in the spotlight.

Sometimes I try to curb my criticism of the world at large. You know, look at the bright side, blah, blah, blah. But, let's face it, some days it's like shooting fish in a proverbial barrel. The world if full up with idiotic behavior. All I need to do is close my eyes, spin the mouse and click anywhere.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

stream o' consciousness

It's not the heat it's the blazing hot humidity
The front room air conditioner just went tits up this week.

The back room air conditioner has begun to drip. A pre-death shudder that is sure to damage the wall beneath it.
We're going to get central air and heat. In the fall.
I feel a bit beleagured. It's not like I believe an omnipotent force out there is doling out punishment by the BTU. I'm just warm and whiny.
I just finished Natalie Angier's book
Woman: An Intimate Geography. Note to self: I don't care if all you can get hold of are her grocery lists, read everything this woman writes.
Bill Moyers is doing a PBS series called
Faith & Reason. I hope I haven't blown my hyperbole wad in the previous paragraph (no less bright a spotlight on Ms. Angier). Moyers asks, "In a world where religion is poison to some, and salvation to others, how do we all live together?" His interviews with Salman Rushdie, Mary Gordon and Colin McGinn are food for the soul and the intellect. I listen voyeuristically to these–goddammit I've used up all the adjectives...brilliant minds converse. It's not just the intellectual breadth or the breathtaking vocabularies (though those are awfully sparkly at times) but it's the vision. The measured and articulated view. The creative approach to global issues. That's what makes the brain and soul feel massaged back to life. That's what gives me hope.

This stream of consciousness is getting dammed up now. I have been chronically sleepy for days and I promised myself I'd be in bed before 10pm and I'll be damned if I won't.

Monday, July 03, 2006

the pile

Work in Progress
There's a space under the paper tray of my laser printer where I shove notes scrawled on envelopes, programs and sticky notes rendered sticky-free by the lint they've collected in my pockets and dust they've accumulated under the paper tray of my laser printer.
These are the ideas I collect for doing this. Ideas stacked haphazardly when I can't for some reason synthesize them into words worthy of posting. They are my treasures. My incomplete, fragmented, half-gestated word offspring.
Some of you have gotten tired, annoyed, impatient with my process. Some have written to tell me so. Thank you. No greater compliment can a writer receive than that her patient readers are fed up with waiting.
Behold my pile of crumpled inspiration:

Drivers Ed
I blame part of my two-month blog silence on Defensive Driving.
It's not a lame reason.

Two months ago Barbara and I attended a Defensive Driving course offered through, and paid by, my company. To reduce our insurance premiums. To save the $45 apiece it would cost to take the course online. And the experience was so grueling and bursting at the seams with blog-worthy, vicious commentary, I was struck cyberdumb. The fact that some of the mean-spirited responses oozing out of me were directed at coworkers compounded my hesitancy to write. I'm over it now. I only stayed the torturous six plus hours because I am too fucking cheap to throw away $100. In hindsight, I'll never do that again. Nothing is free.

First of all, let me say that the woman teaching this class was obnoxious, rude, pontificating, stupid, self-righteous, racist, an overfucking explainer, arrogant and did I mention stupid? Stupid. And I am not just being mean. To begin with, she went around the class asking people if they were taking the class for an insurance discount or to avoid a ticket. Then, she grilled each moving violator about their citation. Where, why, what and who. It was incredibly uncomfortable for many of the repentant who just came to do their penance quietly. On the other hand it was an opportunity for the dullards to wax rhapsodic about how they had been wronged by the system. And this bitch had no where near enough sense of how to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.
Here is my abbreviated litany of complaints. Abbreviated because writing "Just Shut the Fuck Up" forty times isn't really specific and tends to make your audience edge towards the door. For accuracy, though, you might want to sprinkle that phrase liberally through these bulleted items.

  • She insisted on talking us through filling out the form...telling us to stop writing after filling out "first and last name," so she could read "street address" lest any of us stumble over that rarely seen label
  • She lectured us about how signing the paperwork incorrectly was the equivalent of "tampering with a government document" and could get us 2-10 years. [I kid you not]
  • She said the influx (didn't use that word, though. If she'd tried, I am relatively sure it would have come out "reflux" or "reflex") of "different cultures" to our city was contributing to the traffic problems. As if, on any given day, one couldn't find enough EFL idiots to fill a freeway.
  • And then there was my list of "Did she actually say...?"

    • Hurricane evacuates; the people who evacuate are called evacuees. The only time I've ever seen evacuates used as a noun was when someone was talking about post-enema matter. And I don't even think that usage was correct.
    • (she read numbers like a trucker) Four, seven, niner...NINER?
    • pronunciation: /sub SEE kwent/ which one assumes means "the next"
    • "all in agreeance" (it's in the dictionary: considered obsolete and a bastardization of `agreement' --which it was)
    • Griping her out (the quaint and idiotic country equivalent of "bitching her out")
    • Photostatic copy--a perfect example of trying to sound like you know so much but end up sounding like you are still awed by the making of dittos.
    • On the rules concerning license plate frames–i.e., the visibility of state name and number–what is banned is anything that affects the delectability of the license plate. Delectable.
    • She READ the most recently enacted, driving-related goverment legislation for almost an hour. Chapter and verse.
    • She fancied herself a writer. [And I'm an evacuate.]
    • She ran over by more than an hour. More than an hour on the longest Saturday on record.
    • She gave us every test answer. Gave them to us. Every single one.
    I rest my motherfucking case.

    Two Bulls Escape on Houston Highway

    I am unable to resist the pull of a headline like this. Powerless. I was going to link to this page for you, but the search feature on my own is unable to pull up this article by its verbatim title. Jesus.
    Okay, here is the story. Comments in brackets are, of course, mine.
    June 12, 2006 7:59am
    A Houston police officer found himself chasing two escaped bulls on I-45 Sunday night, according to a report this morning by KHOU.
    The driver was getting onto the I-45 ramp from the North Loop [not 5 miles from downtown Houston] around 11:30 p.m. when the bulls apparently got out of their trailer. ["apparently got out of their trailer"? Got out is so passive. It explains nothing. "Grew thumbs and opened the latch" would be a more interesting attempt.]
    One of the animals ran through a neighborhood before a police officer was able to stop his car on the rope it was dragging, according to KHOU.
    But the bull got angry and began ramming the officer's squad car until it was finally captured. [Why is the thought of a massive animal headbutting the squad car that has run over its leash so delightful? Can't you just see the cop after he runs over the rope, sitting there smugly until the enraged bull begins to ram his vehicle?]
    The other bull that escaped was hit by a pickup truck and had to be euthanized, KHOU. reported. [I love frontier living.]
    Survey Finds Americans Will Give Anything Not to Be Fat
    May 30, 2006
    by Rob Stein, Washington Post
    [Once again, comments in brackets are all mine. As is the bolding.]

    Almost half of Americans would give up a year of their life to avoid being fat, according to a recent survey.
    The online survey of 4,283 of Americans ages 13 to 79 also found that between 15 percent and 30 percent would rather leave their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed or become an alcoholic than be obese.
    Five percent would rather lose a limb, and 4 percent said they would rather be blind.
    "We were surprised by the sheer number of people who reported they would be willing to make major sacrifices to avoid being obese. It drives home the message that weight bias is powerful and pervasive," said Marlene Schwartz of Yale University.
    Schwartz led a team of researchers that reported the survey results in the journal Obesity.
    The primary purpose of the survey was to gauge anti-fat bias.
    People of all weight categories exhibited a significant implicit bias against people who are overweight, the researchers found. But they said that thinner people tended to be more biased. [I'm sure most of us fat folks will be shocked by this.]
    "The fact that even obese individuals exhibited a significant implicit anti-fat bias is important because it suggests they have internalized negative sterotypes, such as believing they are lazy," Schwartz said. [Ya think? Imagine fat people seeing other fat people as losers. Fat people are not satisfied with hating themselves; they go ahead and hate anyone who looks like them. That's what I call a full course of indoctrination. Belch.]
    I am drawn back to this article because someone I know and love has just been diagnosed with anorexia. Of the many frightening things associated with our culture's hatred of fat is that if she had been plump and bulimic, she would not be viewed with nearly as much sympathy. And in some cases, respect. That's right. There's a bit of sicko respect given to anorexics for their "discipline." Isn't that perfect?

    Pee Cycles

    Did you ever get on the same pee cycle as a coworker? You know, where for a few days everytime you go into the bathroom you run into, walk in with or come out of the stall to the same person? Like your bladders are in sync whether you like it or not. It's kind of creepy. Like stalking without a reason. Anyway, my other urination issue is toilet talkers. When I go in the little stall to pour out some diet coke, I don't want to continue or begin a conversation. About anything, least of which is the topic of peeing. Every once in a while a chatty coworker making small talk enroute fails to adhere to the etiquette of elimination. When I'm having a private moment, I'm having a private moment, dammit.

    Coming Out

    A dear young person I know has recently come out. I cannot say much more here because this person is not out to most of their family. I can say that I'm grateful that things are different today then they were 20 years ago for a young gay person. I can also say that many things are not different then they were in terms of cruelty and ostracization, so kudos to the courage of the young.


    My favorite part of Chex Mix, it turns out, is the Chex. This, from a long time pretzel aficionado. You have to grind the crunchy, salty stuff with your molars. Sometimes afterwards you want something sweet and, if there's nothing else around, you might pop a few Skittles or, godhelpme, chewing gum in your mouth to satisfy that sweet urge. Then, your jaw mutinies/spasms/locks. TMJ is just another way of saying one more of your hinges is dangerously rusty. It's painful and irritating and ridiculous. I understand why my knees and back complain. I am a lot of woman riding on one skeleton. I even understand my shoulders' persistent squawk whenever I reach behind me. But that much pain in my jaw makes me mad. Damn thing may not be responsible for my girth but it's been a player in the crime and it doesn't get to join the chorus of aches. Grrr.
    And I know this is self-hating. The Gods inspired the creation of hair shirts because They invented them first.

    Vocabulary Poverty

    It's official. I'll be attending Cultural Vocabulary Bootcamp this fall. How a lover of words and seeker of unacceptable, impolite, UNLADYLIKE expression could be so uneducated is a mystery to me. But I don't plan on remaining ignorant.

    I'll tell you what put the bee up my wordy ass: a few years ago someone used the word "fluffer" and I looked at them like a toddler being introduced to quantum physics. My children knew this word and suddenly I felt like I should be needlepointing something. Okay, so a fluffer, it turns out, is the off-stage person in charge of getting a male porn store to the stage of camera-ready erection. This person, I assume, would be male or female as the situation warrants. I don't know if there is a respective job for the female star...since evidence of readiness could be somewhat more easily faked or unseen. Nevertheless, like the Grip or Best Boy, the Fluffer has a job to do. Just because the job in gay porn could easily use either of the previous job titles is immaterial. I was was chagrined at my fluffer-ignorance. (The temptation to slip the phrase "fluffer-nutter" into this paragraph was too great to resist.)

    This past week over lunch with the girls, my vocabulary once again showed a significant...crack or hole for lack of a better adjective. Queef. Queef. Pronounced /kweef/. A sweet sounding, playful little word that I heard and at which I blinked vapidly. It means vaginal farting. A concept that encompasses so many of the things I find delightful, yet I did not number this word among my vocabulary treasures. My children and apparently most of the people I know (and was decidely unabashed about asking...demanding their acquaintance with the onomatopoetic noun) knew about the queef. This is why bootcamp is in my future. Not to mention that my punishment demands the writing and publishing of this silly poem.
    It is rarely a relief
    to produce a queef;
    to some it's a gaff
    so why did I laugh?
    gas and queef, if wed,
    make gaff, I said.
    The aforementioned space under the paper tray of my laser printer is now empty.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    natural woman

    After a day of working in the Houston heat, who's calling who a stinkbug?
    It's not that I don't think bugs are very cool. They are. We saw a half-dozen fascinating bugs and spiders during today's clear cutting. Here is a picture of a caterpillar perfectly disguised as a stick and below it a photo of a tough-looking stinkbug. (These are not our photos—our camera sucks on close-ups—but they are exactly what we saw in the backyard.) No
    w, as I said, bugs are cool. Just as long as they're not crawling up my bare arm. Then, I don't much care for the little motherfuckers.

    I am happy to announce that the Sawzall-aided destruction of the weed trees in our backyard is complete. I actually had to get up on the roof for one set of precariously-situated limbs. Nothing like standing that high off the ground (how high, you ask? two broken legs in a fall high. I'd estimate) holding a hefty machine that heats up and vibrates steadily while lopping off limbs that could stun an ox if properly aimed. Still it was exhilirating to finish with danger. I am woman, hear me saw.

    Came inside to cool down and shower before surveying what our next round of carnage would entail. I wear comfortable but not too loose-fitting clothing while playing lumberjack and all I want to know is how that much sawdust, dirt, etc. finds its way into crack and cleavage? [This is rhetorical, so you assholes out there don't need to put a lot of effort into providing me with cute answers.] I could start an indoor garden. If I were so inclined. Which I'm not.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    end of the nature trail

    A final mockingbird* update:
    The three relocated baby birds flew out of their nest on schedule. We were able to witness (unobtrusively from inside the house, of course, looking through our back "Discovery Channel" window) the last of the trio trembling on the edge of the nest—with parental units flitting about anxiously—not unlike the first time you walk to the edge of the diving board and stand there in terror while all your friends and family are squawking at you to "go ahead, you'll be just fine." The bird looked around as if to say "what a truly bad idea this is...throwing myself off a ledge into the unknown." However, Instinct is a dominatrix and finally launched the reluctant adolescent. The bird fluttered to the ground, then, hopped and flew awkwardly until it reached the gazebo. We assume that it will live happily ever after.

    The fourth, hand-fed, runty bird has thrived and grown stronger, fuzzier, featherier and louder. We turned it over to the semi-pros of wildlife rehabilitation and have closed this chapter. The End.

    *It was brought to my attention that there was no small irony in my being compelled to save a wild creature from the "mockingbird" category. I believe the insinuation was that I have a higher than average enjoyment of mockery. This after I witnessed the male accuser in tacky 50's drag and exhibited such restraint of my considerable lampooning gifts. Just wait til I create an online "dress the paper doll" flash game with my good friend Dave in his skivvies trying on his many colored poodle skirts.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    prehistoric muppet

    Baby birds are rather homely. Bulging eye sockets, featherless bald spots, scaley skeletal limbs and hungry behavior that makes them look like diamond-shaped gullets (Muppet-like unhinged jaws) atop scrawny necks.

    Still, it does my heart good to see little Skeksi (sounds kind of like Trixie but not so cute) eating well and sleeping comfortably. And there's even something reassuring about her/his seemingly disproportionate excrement. It's hard to believe all that exits so small a creature.

    This experiment in wildlife rehabilitation will hopefully end this Friday. I think Dr. Doolittle is getting attached to her small charge but understands that a mockingbird needs to bond with other mockingbirds...and I refuse to order or make any costumes to this end. As over-the-top funny that sight would be.

    *I regret to report that the "bird brand" is, in fact, mockingbird. Of the "To Kill a Mockingbird" fame. Thanks to Lori & Mary and their wildlife rehabilitation skills. [It's so hard for me to say "rehabing" wildlife without thinking of stumbling armadillos reeking of tequila and frenetic chipmunks on crystal meth.]

    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    casualties of cleanup

    We did some real cleanup in the backyard yesterday. When I said we have some weed trees, I mean we have 8 or 9, full-fledged, 25-30 feet tall, vine-matted trees weaving in and out of electrical and phone cables. This is a job for ladder, rope, Sawzall and fortitude. Not to mention a deep respect for danger and an understanding of physics and engineering. We removed two of the biggest trees on the side of the house. I can't believe I can lift my arms to the keyboard this morning.

    The last tree limb we pulled out of the jungle had a nest. Didn't see it until the three (plop, plop, plop) baby birds landed on the soft grass. I am no more zookeeper than farmer, so I was alarmed and awash with guilt. Barbara, calm lover-of-all-things-helpless-and-small told me to go get some gloves and a shoebox. I bounded inside and got the things. She lifted the now empty nest out of the downed limb and carefully placed the almost fully-feathered birdlets back into it. We placed it on some bowers up on air conditioning unit cage near the downed tree. Birds have nested there before and it seemed safer from cats and squirrels than anyplace else we could reach. Then, we waited. The parental birds (I assume...not seeing any resemblance outside my ignorant, prejudicial: all brownish birds look alike) circled, scolded and fretted. We went inside and finally, the mother bird came down and began feeding her relocated offspring. I may not be in touch with Nature, but I get walloped by guilt if I create orphans.

    All is well. The three little mockingbirds (more guilt) or sparrows (slightly less) seem to be fine. We've seen them fed a number of times and they made it through the night just fine. We are going to add more protective foliage next time the parents go foraging. I think the little critters are a little too exposed.

    Oh, and a stinkbug startled me during the earlier demolition. (I suspect the degree of startle on its part was slightly higher than mine but it's so hard to tell...their 1-inch armored bodies are so aggressive-looking) Suppressed the yelping noise I wanted to make. I'm not truly afraid of bugs (okay, wasps make me want to pee in my pants) or reptiles, I just hate the surprise aspect. Which is why Nature continues to creep up on me. Nature loves a good joke and I'm a walking temptation.

    P.S. Found a fourth baby bird this morning. Jesuschrist. The runt of the clutch (that sounds wrong...maybe there's another word for runt when you're not talking about a litter) had nestled in the root system of the downed tree. It was cold and I thought it was a goner. Barbara put it back in the nest but it was too weak to hold its own, so she brought it inside and it has made something of an amazing come-back. It is eating worms like a champ and making the appropriate squeaky noises. I'm still not sure it can survive but we'll see. The other three in the nest are completely okay, eating and squawking like they'd never been tossed out.

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    logic and passion

    Whenever I get enraged, a little voice in me asks, "why?" Why are you so mad? Does this issue or event threaten you? Frighten you? Make you feel small and insecure?

    Sometimes, I tell the little voice to fuck off. Sometimes, I think about it.

    If anger is just a displaced emotion masking the fears of the inner-child, or if it is just a response borne of ignorance, where then, is the virtue in passion? Most important decisions need to have as much emotional volatility drained from them as possible before proceding. We don't think clearly when we're hysterical. But not all of the visceral should be eviscerated. It's a critical ingredient in our humanity.

    So, why am I so angry? You sigh, patient reader, what is it this time? Please, bear with me for a moment.

    If the goal of enlightenment is to lose fear and its red-faced frontman anger, then peace becomes that elusive and difficult to understand state of nothingness. What place in Nirvana is there for passion?

    Today's catalyst, and it is–godhelpme–just one of of many issues from the past week, is the hysteria surrounding the national anthem sung in Spanish.
    Nuestro Himno. Will somebody please explain to me what the fuck is wrong with this country and our president? Last I checked, nobody was uprooting English as our national language. Nobody was suggesting that the national anthem in Spanish was intended to supplant the original, British-drinking-tune-turned-anthem, Star Spangled Banner.

    Our beloved melting pot is not diminished by immigrants singing their love for this country in their
    first language. No matter how multi-lingual an individual is, the language that expresses their deepest sentiments best is usually their primary one. This is not rocket science. It's simple logic. This does not mean that they will be discouraged from learning English as a second language in order to function best in this thick-headed, monolingual nation. All it is is an expression of love for their adopted country. WTF is the problem here?

    Furthermore, Bush is an
    idiot. An idiot extraordinaire. The largest minority in this country, the Hispanics, has the inexplicably largest pro-Republican bloc. Now, I am not blind to the idiocy of politicians, Democrats included. And a very wise man one said (and I paraphrase) that it would be better to be slave to an owner who cares only for his business than be indentured to an overseer who wants to save/improve/help you. There is something to be said for trusting the motives of greed over benevolence. But I digress. My point is that Hispanics supported Bush in this state as if he and the majority of his Republican redneck/bluebloods gave a rusty fuck about their brown skins, outside of their laborer ability to do grunt work quietly, of course. Okay, so why would even the most dimwitted politician step into this ridiculous non-issue and state that the national anthem should be sung in English. English only, one would conclude. Why?

    I'm pissed and can't seem to talk myself into the calm peace of "this too shall pass." I am a twin disciple of Logic and Passion. So much creativity is borne out of violence and upheaval. So much of what we see as exalted forms of expression: music, art, literature, dance, etc. is nourished by the passion that threatens to explode the artist if it is not released. And so much damage is done in the heat of passion. So much is destroyed out of fear and ignorance.

    So, I don't know what else to say except that, for me, this flies in the face of both Logic and Passion. Kudos to Adam Kidron. If his motive is to make money, as some detractors claim, then he is sadly more the American for it. Many people are also comparing any other country's reaction to having their national anthem sung in another language. I say, once again,
    horseshit. No other nation represents the amalgam of cultures the way the United States does. So those comparisons are weak. We are a nation of immigrants.

    If Vietnamese-Americans, Pakistani-Americans, Armenian-Americans, etc. all sang our national anthem in their native tongues, nothing would make me prouder to be an citizen of the United States.

    P.S. Just when I thought I was destined to stew in my state of pissed-off-ness for the day, my friend Lori called and asked if I'd ever listened to the show then playing on NPR. She thought I would like it, so I tuned in. She was right. The program "Says You" is all about word usage and wordplay. It delighted me, silly word-nerd that I am, and I welcomed the break from fury. Perhaps I worship three gods: Logic, Passion and Humor. I am unbalanced without the third.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    a fine tribute to cheap

    After the Sawzall's 1-hour debut (see previous entry), we cleaned up and headed out to The Alley to see a play. One of the benefits of working in advertising at a major urban newspaper is that there are always free tickets in the offing. I was able to snatch up some passes to see Moliere's The Miser.

    What a delightful play. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The set, staging and costumes were great. The play itself is timeless. I enjoy going to plays all over town but what a contrast to the smaller companies this was. Not because it was grander–because it would have worked in a smaller venue–but because The Alley attracts stronger actors. The lead Harpagon (played by Steven Epp) was excellent in his delivery and timing. This unattractive skinflint was actually able to curry affection from the audience. The other actors were fine and their characters fairly well-developed. I particularly like the way voice modulation was used to enhance the comedy. One scene showed the servants filling the miser's bath water from the stagnant water that had collected on the roof. Now that was a bit of clever staging.

    The beautiful irony was that it didn't cost us a penny.

    her maiden voyage

    So we took the Sawzall out back for her debut. Too clear the back 40 (sq ft) more or less.

    There are weed trees all over the yard that testify to my nonagrarian lifestyle. One such tree in the alley was a roadblock to good scraping and sanding so it had to go. Or at least most of it. I had hoped to Paul Bunyan the bastard but unfortunately, it was more like the legendary logger than I...way taller than I had realized. And there were far too many cables, power lines and whatnot woven in and out of its branches.

    But we were undaunted. The two blades provided are called "Wrecker" and "Torch," a testament to why marketing, in all its unctuousness, exists and works. I picked up the coarser-bladed Wrecker and started on the lower branches. Like butter. Even while on a ladder (well-placed and with a spotter—but still a little wobbly being that high up with a machine that can saw up to 3000 strokes per minute) I was able to lop off the offending arms and clear the area. Sawdust showering me and the unsettled insect hordes teeming (oh, you buddhists, don't worry there's greenery aplenty for the gnats to regroup in) I held that small, weighty destruction machine and tried to smile without parting my lips.

    In less than an hour most of that tree was in heavy-trash sized pieces and so was a lattice frame on the side of the house. And some railroad ties. And several branches I'd passed on the way to the curb. I had to make myself unplug the thing so as not to bite off more than I could chew. A reciprocating saw...everything I'd hoped it would be.

    If the fence or trees in my backyard were sentient, they would all be fearing for their lives. They would tremble as my newly opened eyes examined them for optimal destruction points. This is better, forgive my disloyalty, than the beloved whack-a-mole.

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    tools and eunuchs

    This past weekend we finally got our collective asses in gear and began to take down the screens on the garage apartment in preparation for the painter, who begins scraping and sanding today. Our plans are to rebuild these ancient screens and put them back up after the painting is done. When you start a project, you begin to notice twenty other items that need your attention. Which is why getting the ball rolling is so invigorating and overwhelming.

    Anyway, there's a lot of destruction to be done–foliage and structures to be cut down–which necessitated/inspired the purchase of a tool. A tool I have been pining for, lo these many years. I am now the proud owner of a Milwaukee Super Sawzall. I really can't tell you how excited I am about this because everyone to whom I've already waxed rhapsodic loses interest after about 10 seconds. It's okay, I understand. Not everyone sees power tools as I do. I'm just telling you, this thing's a beauty and I may take it, in its spiffy new case, to show & tell.

    We also watched King Kong this past weekend. It was entertaining and more fun than I'd expected. Those prehistoric bug scenes were ten kinds of creepy, though. Giant centipedes and 4-foot wide spiders are just the mental imagery that I don't need before climbing into bed. My only complaint was with Kong himself. Oh, the animatronics were stupendous. Never once did I look at his movements and think, "oh you can almost see the mechanical structure...or is that a bit of untufted webbing the tyrannasaurus left behind?" No, it was more about the big picture. Here you have the most agressive, virile ape filling the screen and what is missing? Kong the magnificent is a eunuch. No balls, no dick. He stands atop the Empire State Building beating his chest in triumph and between his massive legs is...nothing. I know the motion picture industry and the people in this country would not have allowed the portrayal of twelve foot simian genitalia further enlarged by the giant screen. We are such pathetic hypocrites when it comes to stuff like that. Because of that, during the first hundred films made for the populous break that barrier, our eyes will be glued to the enormous package. But eventually, we'll get over the fixation and start watching movies not for a glimpse of the forbidden but for the story. Until then, our mythical beasts will remain foolishly neutered.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    just tattoo an xy on his tiny forehead

    Two of my favorite people, Chris "New Guy" and Katie (blogger extraordinaire had a baby. A 9lb 12oz little boy. Which is a lot of baby and just what happens when you mix the DNA of two rather tall (6'+) people.

    Anyway, I wanted to get something for the littlest new guy, so I walked to a downtown department store during lunch today.

    Shopping for babies is one of the areas that I come dangerously close to traditional straight womanhood. What's not to love? Everything is all miniature and shit. But it's been awhile since the last time I'd bought baby stuff. Or I have selective amnesia about the experience.

    Babies are, on the genitalia-covered surface, essentially unisex. And to all those people who coo about their newborns being brawny all-boy or dainty all-girl, I say horseshit. I've seen those babies and gender is totally in the eye of the beholder. Cross-dress the little darlings and I promise you folks will swear that your little butch is the belle of the baby ball.

    Nowhere does our gender-bias appear more rigid than in baby clothes (including the quantity aspect—there are 4 baby girl togs to every 1 baby boy outfit). The stereotyping is somewhat more inflexible for the male of the species than the female but that's just splitting baby-fine hairs. I found myself singing, "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be homos;" so frantically heterosexual were the selections. Half the boy's outfits were ablaze with athletic, superhero or fireman symbols. The other half were shrunken versions of executive-wear...complete with the ubiquitous embroidered Ralph Lauren horse: oxford cloth crawlers, tiny khaki cargo shorts with coordinated Polo shirts, etc. Not a hint of the metrosexual here.

    I find myself wondering why we don't beef up the "package" on infant boys' Pampers so they can wear snug onesies with pride. You half expect these tykes to rip the head off of Winnie-the-Pooh and perfect-spiral-throw Pooh's decapitated body into the endzone, all while highstepping those rubbery little legs to a Souza march. Or, crawl into an MBA seminar after napping on the yacht all morning and sucking down imported non-fat milk out of an ergonomic bottle picked up at The Sharper Image.

    Okay, I bought the yacht outfit. Couldn't find any overalls that weren't bastardized by embroidered manliness. Furthermore, this one is just a blue & yellow striped shirt and plain white cotton pants...

    I'd lose the faggy yellow belt, though.

    Welcome to the world, Henry Todd. Sorry for the limited clothing selection.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    insanity sans sangre

    I really hate to admit this. Because I hate to have my reactions discounted and chalked up to hormones, but truth is my hormones had a slapfest with me.

    I was lulled into a false sense of security that without the monthly egg drop and its endocrine magic/madness, I would be lounging safely on a placid shore opposite Mt. PMS. Well, just switch the pre with post. I know, I know, many women still cycle without the bloody mess. Guess I'd had a mini sabbatical and forgot.

    Goddammit I can preamble the fuck out of a subject.

    Okay, so today I was hostile, hungry and hypersensitive. Put that together with that vague feeling of physical discomfort and bingo, I was cycling without any proof of purchase.

    Describing what this is like to men is a little hobby of mine. I like trying to find an analogy that makes sense even though the quest is probably asymptotic: you may never get there but you might get damned close.

    When a person has a migraine or a hangover (or both) they can become hyper aware of light, sounds and jarring movement. When I had/have a visit from my surging hormonal system, I become hypersensitized to morons. The sound and drivel of irritating people (that I usually try to ignore) suddenly becomes DEAFENING. I pray for a slugfest so I can join in the fray and work out some of this quite stunning hostility.

    When the desire to pop someone recedes, I'm left with a surly feeling of isolation. Another lovely and pleasant incarnation. Throughout this little exercise is the pervasive and overwhelming urge to an earthworm through soil. If you saw me you would think that's how I achieved such impressive, some might say awe-inspiring, rubenesqueness. But you would be wrong. On a normal day (as opposed to this mock/stealth/pseudo pre-period crapulence) I'm content with my bowl of soup and diet coke at lunch. At most, I indulge in an afternoon snack bag of pretzels. Not so today. No. Pity the carbohydrate-protein-sugar-fat that wanders unknowingly into my path.

    So that's the way it was. My reaction to life may be more controlled without the estrogen shot (like tequila only more...homicidal) but nowhere near as honest. I told my good friend Dave that he would know I was leaving the building when the whistled sound of "the sun will come out tomorrow" wafted over to his office from the stairwell.

    Which reminds me...the last player in the Hostile-Hungry-Hypersensitive foursome is Sarcasm. It ruins the alliteration but knows no better name. Slicing, dripping, sharp-tongued Sarcasm. And you should hear all the things that I filter out. Scathing shit that never sees the light of day. I hold the worst of it back because I'm just that fucking sensitive.

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    pain relief extraordinaire

    I have an ulcer incubator for a stomach. Not unlike many people, my digestive track produces enough acid for more than one person. One might say, snidely, I was making acid for two, if one was jealous of my precocious menopause. I wonder if my Darwinian purpose is to digest leather or tree stalks. But I digress.

    The result of this digestive zealousness is not, as Gollum puled about the rope around his neck, that "it burns us." Heartburn from reflux may result in acrid backwash but that's not usually what happens to me. Instead my stomach muscles spasm. Incredibly painful spasms that can last for 15 minutes or 3 hours...depending on whether I catch it on time.

    My medication usually keeps this in check but not always. Why it happens is a combination of things predictable and inexplicable but that's not really my point. You know when you have a bitch of a headache and it's all you can do to concentrate on something else? Then, at some point you realize it's gone. Ditto for having the flu—although the timeframe is stretched—the abatement of misery is gradual enough that you don't notice the change. Not so with these corrosive chemicals. The pain comes on like being repeatedly punched in the stomach. At some point I feel the blows slow, then, noticeably stop. It's that moment. That moment when the pain quickly fades into nothing that is so fascinating. The cessation of pain is exquisite. For a moment I wonder if sado-masochism is not about hurting but about the feeling you get when it stops.

    No, I'm not ordering nipple clamps online or anything but I admit that consciously crossing over the threshold of intense pain into the blissful absence of pain is incredible.