here is something cool
Friday, August 29, 2008
Things are breaking down here. Tom’s truck is seriously troubled and his laptop sighed and died. Dollars are growing wings and flying away.
Everybody, everybody, everybody owes me money. Every dollar is already earned and long since spent. And my mailbox was completely empty today. I slumped to the post office floor and sobbed quietly.
I have lots of little stories to do, lots of tight deadlines, lots of annoying little moving parts. One of the stories involves working with the Choctaw Nation. Working with the Indian Nations can be exhausting. In a way, I admire how much they don’t give a damn about our high-strung ways and needs. But I also embark on stories involving any Nation with dread.
Oh wait, I just got a marvelously helpful phone call! OK, then… never mind.
I’ve been having lots of fun this summer. Lots of parties and dinners, barbecues and gigs, trips and lunches and cocktails. Wheeeeeeee! It’s been grand. Now I’ve had enough. Leave me alone. I have nothing more to say. Go away.
See how much fun I’ve been having?
Photo by Crazy Picture Guy Scott Mankoff
I love this photo. It was taken after the reunion gig of Tex Edwards and the Swingin’ Cornflake Killers. The SCK haven’t played together in, what, a decade? More? They rocked. It was great.
Our lives flashed before our eyes that night. All the old folks made the scene. Ex-wives and everything. We relived our youth. And of course, every great club night ends up in a stinky alley outside a club, which is where this photo was taken.
It was grand.
Will our night at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma be as much fun? I'll let you know next week.
me and tom brown
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Of course, I was a teenaged girl and the six-part series about Rugby, an English boys’ school, was all cute boys with English accents wearing foppish clothes. And the hair! My god, you’ve never seen such marvelous haircuts, straight out of an Urban Outfitter catalog, except the faces underneath them were happy and chipper instead of haunted and morose. I wish I could show you photos, but I can find none online except this on the website of the guy in the photo—cute little Anthony Murphy who played Tom himself. Now he’s a painter in France and good one, I think.
But anyway trust me. Cute boys, good hair, cool clothes and a morality play. What’s not to like?
I loved, loved, loved the miniseries when it ran and saw it a few times. I even wrote a fan letter to Anthony Murphy. Somewhere I have the photo of him I received in return (I can’t recall if it was autographed). Back then, before VCRs, I actually taped it on a cassette audio tape as my only way of preserving the joy.
I rented the series from Netflix recently, with some trepidation. Would it be good as I remembered?
Oh joy. It was every bit as wonderful as I remembered, maybe even more so. Twinkle-eyed Tom Brown is fair, honest and mischievous. His mate Ned East is as upright and loyal a buddy as you could hope for. Poor Diggs’ plain face fair glows with goodness, even though he hasn’t two farthings to rub together. Cutherbertson—oooh, that Cuthberston—is a squirrely little weasel with a lisp and a Little Lord Fauntleroy collar. And Flashman is an all-time great dastardly sexy villain. He is so bad, especially when he roasts young Tom over the fireplace. But when he laughs his wicked laugh, he has dimples to die for.
Tom Brown’s Schooldays is the testosterone version of the Victorian book that inspired the values by which I live, A Little Princess. That story took place in a girls’ school and the torture was poverty and mocking rather than the more brutal and physical torments the boys of Rugby inflict on each other. But the themes are the same: indomitable spirit, stoicism and dignity in the face of injustice (well, Tom did become a vomiting drunk for a while after Flashman framed him, but he got better) and the triumph of good over evil. Hokey as they are, Tom Brown and especially Sara Crewe are the heroes after whom I have always tried to model myself.
And all that aside, Tom Brown’s Schooldays is a ripping yarn. With great hair.
abercrombie & fitch should shrivel and die
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
However, this story about how employees deemed not attractive enough are hustled away to the storeroom, out of sight of customers, is so very very icky that I get the hoobie goobies thinking about it.
Ick. Ick, ick, ick, ick, ICK!
What are we doing to ourselves, what are we doing to our youth, where did our values go so far astray? We are marinating in a strange brew of entitlement and self-loathing, setting up impossible standards and then hating ourselves for our inability to live up to them. We must not only be young forever, we must be young and beautiful.
But by whose standards, please? Some numbnuts who has risen to district manager of an Abercrombie & Fitch? This person gets to decide who is beautiful enough to represent the company? Are our sensibilities, as consumers, so rareified that we would make our shopping decisions according to whether we are attracted to the elf who greets us at the door? Honestly, if you haven’t been chased out by the onslaught if music in A&F, which is played at jet-engine decibels, then surely you are tough enough to withstand the shock of seeing a young person who might not ever appear on the cover of a fashion magazine.
Besides, even if that person is worthy of a cover shot, he or she would be airbrushed anyway. Lilies must be gilded and then gilded again. We are never good enough.
enough with the beauty
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Specifically, it occurred to me how much more interesting the character Bobbie Barrett would be (she’s the comedian’s wife, Draper’s most recent dalliance) if she were a little more roadworn, a little less young and fresh under her hardened broad act. Give me a face that has lived a little, please. On a person who still manages to be sexy and sexual.
One reason British television shows and movies are so engrossing is that the Brits are unafraid of character actors whose faces are more interesting than strictly beautiful.
Which leads me, in a roundabout way, to an interesting campaign to get one of the women’s magazines to publish an issue in which the feature photo shoot and cover have no airbrushed imagines. If you join the campaign, you are promising to purchasing at least two copies of the first magazine to rise to the challenge.
Sure, it sounds like a very fat chance. But it’s worth a try, eh what? To join the campaign, click here.
monday this n that
Monday, August 25, 2008
I have an op-ed in today's paper. I have received two reader emails so far. One is a very nice note from a fellow who, it turns out, lives right down the street and designs needlepoints. The other is a racist rant from a fellow named Vance who fled my neighborhood in 1970 and sternly advises me to do the same. Yuck. One hates to admit people like him actually exist. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
I have lots of things to discuss here as soon as I have time ... but I have a busy day ahead and now must dash.
quote du jour
Sunday, August 24, 2008
They scream, they sing, they fall down, they take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit.
(Who? Brits in Greece.)
In fact, Tom and I witnessed small-scale British bad behavior flying out of the island of Lesbos several years ago. The airport terminal was full of loud, lumpy underdressed Brits (nobody wants to sit next to your hairy armpits on a small plane) who were sunburned a painful pink everyplace they weren't pasty. We were relieved when they boarded another plane.
Friday, August 22, 2008
To quote the Hershey chocolate company, "sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." That pretty much sums up your score on the trait of emotional stability. There are times when you feel such intensity of emotions, mostly negative, that you just want to lie down and spend the day thinking about how you can score Prozac. In other contexts (like when you are on your meds), you feel just fine - calm, happy, ready to face the day. The emotions cancel each other out and you look like you are dealing with life fairly well statistically.
You may fall into one of two categories - you secretly wish that people would talk to you so that they can see what an absolutely wonderful, interesting, and charming creature you are OR you secretly (not so secretly wish) that people would just go away.
This is nothing I didn’t know already, but I love taking quizzes. And ruminating about myself. So this is the best of all possible timesucks.
By the way, what the hell does “to wit” mean? I don't even really understand the explanation here.
Did I tell you that we have finally trained Jack to let us brush his ass and tail? This was a major breakthrough, since he has a very hairy ass. Sometimes he comes home dragging small trees tangled in its awesome hairiness. So now, Tom posts himself at the front end with cut up hot dogs and I post myself at the back with a brush and Jack gets treats while I brush.
A friend asked, “How come you get the poopy end?” I have no answer for that. But Jack looks much better.
In fact, Jack is generally better than ever. He’s a good boy, yes he is. He doesn’t lunge at fenced dogs anymore. He’s mostly calm when we have visitors, unless they pay him too much attention and then he might give a little “chill, dude” growl or a “back off” bark. This scares some people but I think they should chill. He’s just making his feelings known. I greatly appreciate those friends who don’t act all hoobie-goobie around him because it helps socialize him. We had friends over the other day who own a Giant German Shepherd. Yes, that’s actually the breed. This dog is huge. I don’t know if he’s actually bigger than a Great Dane, but he seems it. Anyway, these people were great with Jack. He barked once, but it didn’t faze them. That made me very happy.
The DMN had an article about possible breed-specific laws and I loved the fact that Chihuahuas appear in the list of top breeds involved in dog-bite reports in a couple of Dallas 'burbs. With breeds like Jack (part Chow) and pit bulls, at which legislation is aimed, people pretty much know to proceed with caution. But nobody worries about Chihuahuas. I bet a bite from those little teeth can hurt, though.
Actually, the biggest problem I have with Jack these days is that he’s such a drag-ass when we walk. Honestly, I’m not capable of walking as slowly as he does.
Oh, and I really should give up on buying stuff for him. Beds? Fawgeddaboudit? Toys? Nah. I bought him a wading pool for the dog days we just experienced here. He drank from it but otherwise ignored it.
Speaking of dog stories, this great episode of This American Life, about breaking up, has a great little dog story at the end, by the hilarious Merrill Markoe, who used to be David Letterman's main squeeze and who helped him create The Late Show. Click through to her website just to read her intro page.
Apropos to nothing (except flotsam)—I liked this Everyday Health article about emotional eating. Made sense to me.
Oh, and speaking of touchy-feely stuff, a friend who teased me about my new obsession with energy--using it and saving it (as discussed here and here)--recently encountered a situation where the energy concept came in very handy. Somebody was trying to drag her into some drama and she just decided no, it was not worth the energy. By thinking that way, she saved herself a lot of grief and wasted energy. She was kind enough to tell me about this and I loved hearing it. This just goes to show you that I am right. Don't fight it. I just am.
I am struggling to maintain a workout regime. I skipped yoga for so long, that after I returned last week, I was sore. Yikes. I’m not sure how to get re-motivated. I do a little bit here, a little bit there. Then I have a PB&J foldover (which was today’s lunch) and am racked with guilt.
So, my new TV addiction is Skins (look here). Seen it yet? Those Brits are so edgy. The lead teen is the boy who played Hugh Grant’s geeky little friend in About A Boy. He’s not geeky anymore.
OK. Happy weekend.
you're staring at my zit, aren't you?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Yeah, I have a zit. It’s right there, you can’t miss it, in the middle of my left cheek.
This is actually an unusual zit location for me. Chin, yes. Nose, yes. Middle of my cheek? Not since I was a zit-riddled teenager.
Ugh, I had horrible skin. My father used to reassure me that it would pass. He would tell me that you never see adults with acne, but that’s not really true, is it?
I went to a dermatologist for a while. He injected things into my face. I don’t know what he injected but I can bear witness to the unpleasantness of having a needle in the cheek. Especially a pizza cheek, which hurt already.
He also used dry ice on me, which hurt like a mofo. Do they still do that?
I can’t say any of this torture made the least bit of difference. My face was always red and raw and painful. I had acne until I didn’t have it anymore, although I’ve never stopped getting zits. Now they tend to be isolated embarrassments, though, rather than humiliating colonies.
The week of my wedding I got the mother of all zits on my chin. It required a trip to the dermatologist and even he was impressed.
I still have scars from the worst of it all. If I had lots of money, I’d do whatever it takes to have those suckers sandpapered away. But I don’t, so not only do I have a brand new zit, I also have memories of zits past.
Life is so unfair.
more on marriage
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So, my online goofing off has given me further fodder for contemplating marriage. Here’s an article about a new book called "The Marriage Benefit: The Surprising Rewards of Staying Together" by Mark O’Connell, a marriage therapist and clinical instructor at the Harvard Medical School.
O’Connell doesn’t argue that all marriages are worth saving, but his focus is on the benefits of long-term intimacy. I like this excerpt:
He explained that scientists have discovered that the first 18 months of any romance effectively are ruled by body chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin. "We think everything that follows is a compromise."
Lordy, ain’t that the truth.
What O'Connell and marriage therapists hear a lot is that one or both spouses in a marriage feel bored or that they know everything about the other.
"The underlying assumption is we know each other so well," said O'Connell. "That's baloney. We are endlessly complex and always changing. Once romance wears off, we tend to block the complicated places within ourselves, those places where we are most scared. In that way, boredom is sort of dynamic self-protection."
In other words, as I understand it, sometimes it's fear of knowing ourselves and facing our own shortcomings and bogeyman that cause us to turn on our spouses.
More interesting than the article is this radio interview with O’Connell. I find the show host annoying but it’s worth a listen.
One fascinating point O’Connell makes is that marriage (and by that he means long-term monogamous relationships—the callers kvetching about marriage as a legal arrangement are missing the point) make us less narcissistic. In a way, I think, even more so than children which may require people to step outside their own needs but which are an extension of ourselves. (And by “our’ I mean “your.”) Marriage requires us to voluntarily support the well-being of another person without the biological imperative of parenthood.
He also speaks about the terror we all fear when we really do love someone, when we reach the point where we would be devastated if we lost that person, which we inevitably will, one way or another. As I understand it, he believes fear of vulnerability may be behind some resistance to marriage. When we love that deeply, we may someday hurt more. And that's scary shit.
stinkin' thinkin' du jour
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Life is just fine. And by that I mean, I have a swell husband and a great house. I have plenty of work. Jack is behaving. My social is chugging along nicely. (Almost too nicely. I’m nearly out of pleasantries.) Tom’s business is a little slow at the moment and that’s worrisome but that will pass. It always does. It’s even been raining the past couple of days, which is a very good thing. And the temperature is in the 80s, which is a very very good thing, after weeks and weeks of 100-plus.
So why do I feel all kvetchy and dissatisfied? Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s a change in the barometric pressure. Maybe I’m not happy unless I’m unhappy.
Maybe it’s all the socializing. Socializing does provide me with the opportunity to compare myself with other people and I rarely allow myself to come out the “winner.”
I had a drink yesterday with a friend who is The Dallas Gal in Demand. She has people running after her waving juicy job offers whether she’s looking for a job or not. Envy, envy, envy.
I don’t want a job but I do want jobs to want me.
Hm. Actually, I think that about sums up my attitude towards everything. I don’t want the hassle of writing for the big fancy magazines, but I want them to want me. I don’t want to do a lot of socializing but I want everyone to crave my company. I don’t want a job but I want employers to pursue me. I don’t want to go to parties but I want to be invited.
Wow. How stupid is that? What kind of pep talk could possibly be effective to dispel that kind of stinkin’ thinkin’?
Is admitting the problem the first step in recovery?
Do I feel better just saying it?
(Pause to think.)
is she being punished?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
You know, Dillard's does have some OK clothes in their ads sometimes. But never, never on this poor woman. This model must be toting some pretty terrible karma because she is only photographed in the most unfortunate outfits. What did you do to Dillards, poor MILF-lady?
Then I read this story in my paper today, about a guy who is being told he can't park his new truck in his own driveway, and it just makes me want to go to Frisco and kick some suburban idiot ass. It makes me want to park my crappy old Honda on the streets of this gated community and leave it there. Or better yet, Tom's tired old Ford F-150, just to make the point. I suppose if you choose to live in a gated community with a homeowners association you are agreeing to abide by the rules ... but that doesn't make people suck any less.
Speaking of you are what you drive, I did enjoy Terry Box's column today, about driving a muscle car.
More buyouts coming at the Dallas Morning News. Wednesday is the deadline for decisions. Then the layoffs start again. Woe is us.
Friday, August 15, 2008
To quote myself:
…long-term relationships are most often portrayed as stultifying, tainted by seething resentments and unspoken disappointments.
Granted, there is some truth to the challenges of keeping marriage fresh, but long-term does have rewards. They're rarely explicitly portrayed in pop culture, though. Instead, we get Frank and Marie Barone, lobbing insults at each other. Or, more currently, Don and Betty Draper, going through the motions while Don gets his kicks in the big city and Betty gets hers on a horse.
Where are my role models, please?
This USA Today story addresses what women already know—the dressing room is a terrible, terrible place. I was kind of relieved to read that I’m not the only woman who has ever cried in a dressing room. It happened at The Gap, where I discovered that I am grossly deformed according to the standards of their designers.
How ‘bout bathing suit shopping? Most bathing suit makers seem to have no idea at all how women are put together.
Once, after a particularly demoralizing 30 minutes trying on bathing suits in Dillard’s, a saleswoman noticed how depressed I looked when I stepped out.
“It’s not you,” she said. “It’s the clothes.”
I will love that woman forever.
I haven’t mocked press releases for a while so here are some excerpts that made me slump.
This one arrived today:
Holiday shopping, a busy travel schedule and dry winter weather. Feeling overwhelmed yet? Recharge and get in the spirit with the enticing scent of cranberries in XXXXXXX wash and lotion.
This refreshing duo provides the perfect pick-me-up for tired hands and feet. Integrate them into your daily beauty regime to soothe seasonal stress. Festive XXX puts the “happy” back in front of holidays.
I understand that they’re pitching in time to make it into magazine holiday round-ups, but no, I’m not feeling overwhelmed yet and I don’t want to get into the spirit. I want to make it through the last of summer.
I am of the opinion that press releases should never ask questions because when they do, my answer is almost always, "No."
2008 is a year all about POWER, the struggle for it (politically), the display of it (athletically), and the conservation of it (economically and environmentally). This fall, XXX launches its olfactive answer to the question of what is power and how is it being redefined by modernity.
In an unprecedented partnership with prolific Japanese designer and art director of XXX proposes a powerful new identity for masculinity, one centered on simplicity, honesty, and an imaginary flower.
I don’t know which I like better, the “olfactive answer to the question of what is power” or “simplicity, honesty, and an imaginary flower.” Actually, this release is so ludicrous, it’s compelling.
I have to leave the product name in here because it’s part of the joke. The lame joke:
If you have commitment phobias, Sircuit has a product that will make you say Eye Dew!
This also arrived today:
With the winter months beating down upon us, it’s crucial that we prepare, protect and hydrate to keep our skin healthy all year round.
I just realized that they probably meant bearing down not beating down. At least I hope so.
Nothing wrong with this pitch, it just gets a shout-out for the unnecessary quotation marks:
As you are probably are aware, one of the "hottest" topics in the health, family, youth and beauty arenas right now is the safety and performance of sun block products.
And here’s one working much too hard:
Whether you are climbing the side of a mountain, kayaking through a canyon, or snorkeling off the coast, outdoor adventures render picturesque moments that deserve to be displayed and remembered. Present the moments you capture along the journey in a XXX.
XXX has just recently announced the XXX, a premium, hard-bound digital photo book. By simply uploading digital photos, XXX technology allows users to organize photos and preserve memories—like the time the canoe flipped— in the form of professional-looking photo book.
If the canoe flipped, would you really have photos? Or would you have a ruined digital camera? OK, presumably someone else’s canoe flipped … I’ll allow it. But it seems such a non sequitur…
Thanks to FrontBurner for finding this video, of a drunk and giddy Kelly Clarkson at a Red Sox game:
I've always like Kelly Clarkson and now I like her even more.
And thanks to Very Short List for this oddly moving and simply odd little film that puts a balloon into famous movie scenes. I don’t know why I was compelled to watch all six-plus minutes but I couldn’t stop.
acting my age
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Driving to dinner at a shmancy restaurant last night, I realized I was feeling some anxiety over the prospect of valet parking.
It’s not just because I would be turning my 14-year-old jalopy over to a valet parker accustomed to Mercedes, Jags and Beemers. That is its own special humiliation.
But I actually found myself worrying about doing it “right.” Wondering if I would seem like an impostor when the valet opened my door and when, later, I slipped him a tip.
Not that I care what a valet parker thinks of me. It's not that. It's just that I shake the feeling that I'm a callow kid trying to act grown-up.
Of course, I 100% look like a middle-aged lady. I get ma’am-ed everywhere I go. But while everyone else looks at me and sees a seasoned old broad, in my head, I’m just a little knucklehead trying to keep up with grown-up life. It’s weird.
Maybe it’s the life I’ve chosen to lead—childless, working at home alone, still rocking out too late some nights. Perhaps if I had to engage with the corporate world more often, the inner and outer mes would be better aligned.
I guess this is a callback to the column I wrote a zillion years ago for Salon about going back to school. (Ah, such a heartbreak—my editor on this column commissioned a series about going back to school in middle age but then immediately changed jobs and the new editor wouldn’t give me the time of day. She must have known I was just a dumb-ass kid pretending to be a professional writer.)
I guess feeling young is better than feeling old, but at what point, I wonder, will I actually feel my age—in a good way? Sometimes I get tired of feeling like a dumb-ass kid. I’d like to feel like a dumb-ass adult for a change.
envy and admiration
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In fact, she even heard from a Hollywood producer. I’ll say no more, but I’m proud of her. (Or whatever is appropriate to say here—it’s not like I invented her or anything.) I’m also plum (plumb?) tore up with envy.
Envy, as you know, is my deadly sin of choice. Well, not choice, exactly. It’s the sin I can’t seem to shake. I’m the Dame Edna of Dallas.
My envy is conflicted, of course, since Ruth’s witty essay is about having cancer. So while I would like the accolades she is receiving, I’d really prefer to take a different route. I’m pretty sure Ruth feels the same way.
She’s being very magnanimous about it, too. “You’re funny too,” she assured me. “You just need a fatal disease.”
I know, we shouldn’t even joke about stuff like that. But since Ruth’s essay is about laughing her way through cancer (however bitter the laughter), I give us a pass.
Nevertheless, I want to think of something appalling to joke about so I too can date George Clooney. (Since we all know he’s not going to marry Ruth or anything. He’s not the marrying kind. Besides, she already has a famous husband. Really. His research about the benefits of self-disclosure is standard in psychology textbooks. He's a personal hero since the research essentially validates what I do best--writing about myself.)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I also finally threw away the bad watermelon that's been sitting on the kitchen counter looking unappetizing since I cut into it Sunday and decided it wasn't worth eating. I threw out one half when I went out to the garage to turn the a/c on, I threw out the other half a couple of hours later, when I returned to the garage to work out. So it took two days and two hours, but it's done.
Now I will shower.
big nuthin II
Revising my novel. I put a couple of hours into it yesterday but it’s not exactly whizzing along and I’m not sure the revisions are improving anything.
Working out. I’m averaging every other day, maybe. I managed a big 20 minutes on Sunday. If I push myself to do twice that much, I feel like an Olympian. The air-conditioner is running in the garage right now to cool it down and I’m suited up. The hard part is showing up. I keep telling myself that something is better than nothing but nothing is a whole lot easier. I haven’t been to a yoga class in weeks.
Working. I actually have a lot of work lined up. I eke out an assignment or so a day but it’s not easy.
Gardening. I’m not much of a gardener, to understate the case, but I do get out there with pruning shears and tidy things up from time to time. But not now. Every day I pass a little ivy bed by the driveway that desperately needs a clean up. Every day I think about getting out there and snipping the straggly things down. It would take four minutes, max. Every day I forget all about it.
Sewing. On Sunday, I started making a skirt that should take about three hours. I’m managing about one seam a day.
Going to the supermarket. Poor Tom. It’s always up to him. I hate going to the supermarket. I don’t know why. We’re running out of everything we can’t buy at Costco and I can’t seem to care. I’ll just eat whatever is around until the cupboards are bare.
Putting away my laundry. I finished doing my laundry days ago. It’s still in the basket in the bedroom. I just rummage around in there for clean underwear every day and leave the rest of it sitting.
So what am I doing with my time these days? Jackshit.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I seem not to be bursting with information and opinions I feel compelled to share. I suspect all bloggers reach a point like this, especially those of us who rely on blather over information. Considering how long I’ve been yammering at y’all, I’ve managed to last a long time before hitting a wall.
I’ve been looking back at some old posts. Wow, I sure had a lot to say. Impressive. These days I can barely compile a good head of flotsam. What’s to become of me?
Of course, I’m not hearing much of anything from anyone else, either. My email is a total dead zone. I suppose I can again blame midsummer malaise. We were promised a cool front today in Dallas but that never materialized. It rained for a few minutes and now the air is like a warm, mildewed washcloth. Who can think in such a climate?
I got nuthin’, people. Absolutely nuthin’. Let me think and rummage through my email and links collections and maybe tomorrow I will once again sparkle with wit and wisdom. Maybe.
I'm open to suggestions of subjects on which you would like me to pontificate. Anything I can update?
I'm probably not meditating enough.
sunday paper wtfs
Sunday, August 10, 2008
First of all, my clan is rarely busting with enthusiasm. They also live far away. And we don’t own a badminton net—just a croquet set we never use. I’m beginning to suspect the stars don’t know what they’re talking about.
You may have seen this story in your own morning paper, if you read a morning paper, which you probably don’t, which explains the state of newspapers in the U.S. today. It’s all about this lady who had her pit bull cloned in South Korea, which got a lot of news coverage. As a result, she was recognized as having skipped bail after kidnapping a Mormon missionary 31 years ago and handcuffing him to a bed and using him as a sex slave.
At the time, she told a judge, “I loved him so much that I would ski naked down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to.”
Here’s a column about the day the moving sidewalks weren’t working at Love Field. Thank goodness for rolling suitcases! This writer managed to squeeze 618 words out on the topic, which is impressive in its own way, I suppose. On the other hand—WTF? You get what you pay for, I guess. She’s a “volunteer columnist.”
Finally … not only does the hat look silly, but it’s going to be 104 degrees in Dallas today. Just looking at this picture makes my head itch.
Friday, August 8, 2008
A couple of people sent this to me. I can’t imagine why.
The New Yorker has a tendency to repeat comics. I can’t remember if I posted these before but if I did, they made me laugh again so maybe they’ll make you laugh again.
So here is today’s dog cartoon and here is today’s meditation cartoon.
Yeah. I rarely watch videos people send me either. But here are a couple of cool ones, FWIW.
This is the cutest goddam puppy video ever.
And here is a skill I plan to perfect someday.
Ever wonder what your favorite phone sex operator looks like? Check it out.
I like to mock drummers for no particular reason but the New York Times says they’re fit mofos.
Ever wonder what I look like at work? Here I am in the World Blogging Sweatshop. I’m the one in the red shirt.
dr. phil ain't nobody
Thursday, August 7, 2008
This is puzzling to me. Why does it matter to anyone? I wrote The Making of Dr. Phil because someone hired me to do it. Otherwise, to me Dr. Phil would just be part of the general celebrity cacophony in which we live and which I mostly ignore.
Our obsession with celebrity is loony to me. I don’t get it at all. I started to say “America’s obsession with celebrity” but changed my mind because the incident that shut me down completely on celebrity-watching was the bizarre worldwide freakout over Princess Diana’s death. WTF? I have nothing against her but still don’t understand why the whole world was sobbing and rending their garments over her demise. She was just a woman who got married and divorced. Her end was untimely and sad but I repeat---WTF? After a week of watching that incomprehensible display of inappropriate mourning, I decided to check out of the whole celebrity culture.
When I covered country music, I often was offered backstage passes to meet country stars and usually declined. I didn’t mind interviewing celebrities—especially songwriters—but saw no need to be among the faceless masses to shuffle by them just for the opportunity of shaking a famous hand and maybe getting a photo. So what? To me, that kind of contrived meet ‘n’ greet is unpleasant, even a little humiliating.
I’ve been trying to think of ways to capitalize on all this interest in Dr. Phil but can’t think of anything new to say and don’t really care. It would be great if everyone who is interested bought the book and it actually earned back my advance and paid me some royalties but I have little hope of that. And I’m certainly not interested enough to want to do my own investigation into the state of Dr. Phil’s marriage. If more information comes out on what went awry there, I will contribute my learned opinion but that’s about as far as it goes.
I had my Summer of Dr. Phil when I wrote the book and was glad when it was over. I’ve boxed up the files and put them in storage. Now all that’s left in my office is one of the enlarged book covers the publisher made for me to sit in front of when I did interviews. Ugh. I don’t even like looking at him anymore. I never really did...
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
It’s too hot for anyone to do very much. My email has been nearly silent. My telephone too, though that’s not unusual. Most people know better.
I like these dead zones. Fortunately, I have enough work so that I don’t feel panicked and I like the feeling that everyone is on vacation and nothing is pressing.
The deep summer work dead zone is different from the holiday season work dead zone. Around the holidays, the city buzzes and hurries and everyone is too busy to work. In summertime, the city slumps and everyone is too lethargic to work—or do much of anything else. Traffic on the highways is thin. I went for a pedicure Monday and the salon was practically empty. I met friends for sushi today and the restaurant was uncharacteristically quiet.
This July was one of the hottest in our history. We had 16 days of 100 degrees or higher. Monday the temperature was 107 degrees.
Texas heat even looks hot. I can see it from my window. The sun is a hard, bright light and the trees and shrubbery are pale and stressed from its brutality. If the Garden Bed of Death survives this—and it is hanging on—it will be the hardiest garden on Earth. Sorry looking, but hardy.
Right now, the temperature is a balmy 89 degrees. It’s lovely, but I’m still not working very hard. It’s summertime. Who cares?
a death in the family
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
This is one of my brother’s early bands, The Eels, circa 1975. That’s brother Nick, doing a Harpo Marx kinda thing, second from left. He played the drums back then. (He can play about any instrument you put in his hands now.) Next to him on the couch is Chris the bass player, who was so laid back he was inside out. Last I heard, he was in some kind of metal band. And then another Chris, the temperamental genius guitarist and my ersatz brother. He and Nick were friends since elementary school and Chris spent a lot of time at our house. Sometimes I would get up late in the morning and there would be nobody in the house but Chris, sitting at our kitchen table, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
And on the far left, holding the inert warhead in what is known among those who know it as the “Warhead Picture” is Jerry Garcia. The other Jerry Garcia.
Jerry died last week and it’s given a lot of people a lot to think about. A lot of ambivalence surrounds his death, from hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver. As you might imagine, with those particular causes, his death is not entirely surprising but that doesn’t make it any less sad.
Jerry was charismatic, charming, talented and a drug addict. Gosh, that’s a cliché, isn’t it? After the Eels, he played with a couple of important bands in the NY punk scene—Richard Hell and the Voidoids and James White and the Blacks.
My friend Dave, who was close friends with Jerry from childhood, told me that when Jerry learned that he’d made it into the Voidoids, he went straight to Dave’s house and they jumped up and down and squealed like little girls.
But Jerry was a vortex of dissolution and over the years, he sabotaged himself—stealing from friends, band mates and professional associates, for example—and many (most? all?) of his friends dropped him.
One friend one time left a room leaving his wallet and Jerry alone. In the wallet was money and a note that said, “Take the money and never come back.”
At his best, Jerry was social, garrulous and a raconteur but that may be why he tried so hard to bring his friends into his drug-driven life. He liked people and didn’t want to do stuff alone. We all like friends around who share our interests. My family holds Jerry partly responsible for my brother Oliver’s descent into addiction and his ultimate death. I don’t think I ever saw Jerry again, after Oliver died in 1987, though I heard news of him now and then, none very good.
Jerry lived with his parents when he died. There was no funeral, just a viewing of the body. Dave went and a few other people. Just a handful. A small handful. After seeing what was left of Jerry, they all went out together and reminisced about Jerry’s good days, about the Jerry who charmed everyone around before he allowed himself to freefall.
Jerry was not an intimate of mine, although he was certainly part of a gang with which I ran. I still laugh to think of him telling me, when we were both older teenagers, that he likes Jewish girls “because they put out” –which is tawdry but funny anyway. (Jerry was Cuban.) I never put out for him though he once expressed a fleeting interest.
Drug addiction is so sad, so sad, so sad. It steals people away from us, sucks them into a cesspool from which many never emerge. Oliver was sucked down quickly. Jerry spun around and around into middle age before his body gave out.
Maybe Jerry was a bad person. I don’t know. He did a lot of bad things. But I think he was just broken, like Oliver. Now that he’s gone, his friends are mourning the person he once was and could have been. It’s a complicated sadness.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Our goddam shoe wheel is still part of the family. We've had it since December 2006. Maybe some day we'll open the box.
can i function without clutter?
I bought Jack a wading pool yesterday but haven’t got him in it yet. He mostly just drinks from it.
My latest endeavor in my quest to tame my monkey mind is clearing visual clutter from my office.
Some of you old timers may remember my blog posts about organizing for your learning style. (You can read them here and here.)
In one post, I wrote:
I also realized that I have my office set up all wrong. I have always had lots pictures and tsotskes around my desk. My idea was that lots of stuff around me would be creatively stimulating. Wrong. After this panel I realized that one reason I've been working on the living room couch so much is because the room is less cluttered. All the visual stimulation in my office feels oppressive. It turns out that just as Tom can't tune out bad music, I can't tune out visual stimulation. I am aware of it all the time and it jangles my nerves. So as soon as I get caught up on everything I need to catch up on, I am going to take down most of the photos on the wall by my desk. I removed a lot of the tstotskes last week and can breathe easier already. Who knew?
I wrote that on July 18, 2007 and I finally got around to a full-scale desk flotsam purge this weekend. It looks great but I feel a little anxious about it because I even took down the bulletin board that hung over my computer. I’ve never worked at a desk without a bulletin board.
It’s not that I used the bulletin board for reminders and important information. It was mostly a repository for photos, cartoons, postcards, ticket stubs and other junk. I rarely changed the display out, but would put stuff up there and watch it yellow and curl. I had the last Calvin and Hobbs cartoon posted since the day it ran in 1995. (Yikes. I didn’t realize it was that long until I just looked it up.)
When I told a friend who used to work at my desk while dog-sitting for us, she said she liked looking at my bulletin board, that it was full of interesting stuff. I do like the idea of other people looking at all my flotsam and thinking about what an interesting person I am. But maybe that’s an exhibitionist side of me I don’t need to indulge anymore. I yam who I yam. What have I got to prove?
Instead of flotsam, I have filled up one shelf of my desk hutch with books about writing. Surely those will be more inspiring than the little plastic figurine of a girl on a telephone. Or even the little wooden acorn.
We’ll see. I feel a little anxious about all this. I still have the bulletin board leaning up against my bookcase in case I crater and must return to my flotsam ways.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
my travels, my feet
Friday, August 1, 2008
galveston oh galveston
Tom and I have been in Galveston the past couple of days. We loved it.
We did note how much our respective families-of-origin—-mine from Manhattan, his hardcore Chicago--would hate the tacky, ramshackle, moist and not particularly lovely island city. This is no place for sophisticates or poseurs.
The beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are not breathtaking. The water is warm and gentle but murky and brown and surf warning flags include one for “venomous organisms” in the water—mostly jellyfish.
And Galveston evidently lacks zoning laws, like Houston, so the collection of buildings lining busy Seawall Boulevard is a cockamamie hodgepodge with no attempt at beauty, unless you count the fake volcano on top of the Rainforest Café, which spews fire on an unpredictable schedule. It scared the crap out of me one night as I lounged on our hotel room balcony.
Once a wealthy port city to rival San Francisco, Galveston was all but wiped out in 1900 by a giant hurricane—a natural disaster unrivaled in our nation until Katrina blew through. Galveston rebuilt, but the Houston Ship Channel, which went through various stages of widening and deepening, siphoned off much of Galveston’s ship traffic and therefore wealth over the decades.
Galveston floundered through decades of casinos and crime and decay in the moist sea air, and then, in the 1980s, when Texas was shaking off the meltdown of the oil industry by investing in tourism, the island revived and now it’s a popular family vacation destination (it appears no one visits the island in summer with fewer than four children) and cruise port.
The last time I visited Galveston was the mid 1990s and I expected to see it changed, riding the wave of prosperity that has luxurified everything it washed over. But from the looks of it, new hotel development along Galveston’s seawall (built to protect the city from a repeat of the 1900 disaster) ended around 1989, unless you count the prefab chain hotels popping up here and there. Residential development is somewhat more robust, with high-end developments such as Beachtown, rising from the sands. (Beachtown is designed by the same folks, and along the same lines, as the planned communities Seaside and Rosemary Beach in Florida.) We’ll see what happens now that the bottom has dropped out of our crazy housing market.
Across the narrow island, on Galveston Bay, The Strand (modeled after London’s Strand) survived the storm and now the lovely iron-front buildings house souvenir stores of the most craptacular nature. Put down the elephant made of seashells and walk away. Nobody needs it, nobody wants it. Streets of surrounding neighborhoods are studded with spectacular Victorian historic homes and mansions, some open for touring.
We mostly bummed around the beach side. Our hotel, the San Luis Resort, has a crazy pool with grottos and waterfalls and a slide and a cool bar--poolside and swim-up--and enough children to populate one of the smaller nearby islands. We spent some time there, some time walking the long beaches, some time eating greasy seafood and more time than we intended in a semi-ersatz biker bar with a view of the beach and some of the most godawful loud cheezepop music we’ve ever suffered through. We stopped in for a quick drink and snack and hours later had new friends and a fuzzy view of things.
Galveston is hot and humid and it has many smells, among them the whang of eccentricity. It is island people and beach people and Texans and historians (the Galveston Historical Foundation is strong and motivated), all iconoclasts. It’s an urban beach town, a ripe concoction of seaside and industry. It's a tourist destination but without the sheen that has polished the authenticity right off a lot of places. (Think about Antiques Roadshow--when you strip the original finish and redo a piece of furniture, it might look prettier in a superficial sense but it loses much of its soul.)
Galveston reeks of soul. I might could live there. I might be just eccentric enough.
P.S. Good luck getting the song out of your head.
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