Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Anyone besides me notice lately that Courtney Love and Madonna seem on some trajectory to morph into the same person? Egads, heaven help us. Sorry, I haven't posted celebrity snark lately, so I was a bit overdue. Donatella Versace was added by popular demand to complete the trifecta. You could wet Courtney's lips and stick her to the wall.

On a more important note, I've learned that has a couture section, and they carry one of my favorite makers, Robert Clergerie - exquisite hand-made shoes of the very finest quality. I'm loving the crap out of this pair, and these are making me think lovingly of the days when I worked for Neiman-Marcus and got that yummy discount on all shoes, but learned in particular to worship Robert Clergerie. At least Zappos has them half price so they are only $285! Ah, bliss! Too bad I've blown my shoe budget for the time being. Just call me Imelda Marcos. I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The sun has riz, the sun has set, and we ain't out of Texas yet.

Driving out west from Dallas always enchants me. It was a slow-dawning occurence--my love for the rugged desolation of the west--but these landscapes are cemented in my affection among my favorites on earth. West beyond Fort Worth the terrain goes from relatively flat to gently rolling hills and distant mesas. Before you hit Wichita Falls, the first oil pumpjacks appear doing their perpetual grasshopper routines while hoovering up the water of life from deep underground. This landscape gives way to more hilly farmland (I noticed cotton growing) and lots of grazing for cows and horses. Beyond Wichita Falls is a farm with a herd of camels who looked quite happy, actually. I wondered if someone is manufacturing camel sausage or something...

On toward the Texas panhandle, the landscape becomes decidedly more sere, the vegetation consisting of more heat-hardy oily types such as sages and lots more cacti. This area is full of low-growing mesquite trees which have gnarled little trunks with fernlike foliage that sway in the wind like a forest of seaweed in the rush of tide. The earth here is bright red. There are occasional long bridges over flat dry areas that seem to make no sense. However, these bridges are over washes and forks from rivers (such as the Prairie Dog fork of the Red River) which are completely dry year-round except after a rain, at which time flash-floods barrel through the area.

By the time you reach the Amarillo area of the panhandle, you are baffled by the vastness of the flat plains stretching out in all directions. The wind there seems ever determined to sand-blast everything in its path, and storms there always seem spectacular to me.

We went to a family gathering (of dear friends of my mother's, not relations of our own) in Hereford which is about 40 miles southwest of Amarillo, and self-proclaimed cattle capitol of the world. If smelling is believing, then they've earned the title: the entire town smells like cow doodie. There I saw an enormous humpty-dumpty shaped woman riding a sparkly purple tricycle motorcycle. She was wearing tight polyester shorts with the waistband pulled up right under her tits. As long as I live, I'll wish I had a photograph to show you. It was very special. Maybe I'll make a trip to Hereford one day and stake out the corner where I saw her drive by, camera at the ready. If YOU were telling ME about her, I'd think you were exaggerating. Little stick legs, body round as a tomato, large and in charge.

Driving back east again on Sunday, we were astonished by spectacular cloud formations ahead, and a huge rainbow that was unbroken from horizon to horizon. The green of the new vegetation and the terracotta red earth looked especially vivid against the federal blue of the darkening skies. Suddenly, there was a sound like a gunshot hitting my car, and dozens more close on its heels. Hail. Hell. New car, and wouldn't you know it? We pulled off the road, as did most people: these quarter-sized chunks of ice were hitting cars hard enough without rushing to meet them head-on. The hail storm lasted about 25 minutes, which is the most protracted hail I've ever experienced. It was extraordinary and bracing, in a way, but I was concerned about having to drive the rest of the way home with no glass in the windshield. Remarkably, the vehicle came through with nary a scratch.

The whole trip was great, and I'll have photos later in the week. The junk shop I raided in Quanah yielded much in the way of goodies, but I opted not to buy the chicken, as I swore in the previous post. Instead I got a lot of other great crap. I got my crap-buying jollies enough to last me for a while, though I have vowed to take the pickup truck next time and fetch me a chicken. For sure!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Hey from the road, kids! It started off windier than a bag of buttholes and we drove through a wild storm last night in the panhandle just south of Amarillo. Pulled off the road 4 times in protracted bouts of hail, some of them as big as quarters. Incredibly, my chariot Lulu sustained nary a pock or dimple in the barrage. Spent the night in Childress, and back home to Dallas late today. Not before I stop at a supreme collection of a junk store in Quanah on the way. They had a big chicken made of Mexian oil barrels I'm lusting after. They may have to strap it to the roof of Lulu, but dammit - it's coming home with me if it harelips the world!

Have a great day, and I'll post at length tonight or tomorrow morning.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Early Saturday morning mum and I are off to Amarillo/Hereford where we'll be attending a memorial service and gathering of friends from mom's high school days. I'll be driving my chariot Lulu, and I've got the road music all queued up. We'll mosey around Route 66 a bit in Amarillo and go see Stanley Marsh 3's Cadillac Ranch, or Caddyhenge™, as I like to think of it. The classic cars are arrayed at exactly the same angle as the great pyramid at Cheops, whatever that means. No use poking about here for plunder - the locals corrupted the sacred site long ago. Funny to think these cadillacs all began as an all-white monument. I think it dates from 1973, though the caddys are from 1949-1962, or somesuch.

What I'm most excited about are the wacky signs dotted about Amarillo, of which I plan to take tons of pictures to bore you with here on the blog next week. Fun. On the road again. Feels like I just got back.

Maybe we'll end up at the Big Texan Steak House (home of the 72 oz steak - if you can eat it, it's free). I'll have to tell you soon about the last time I was there and one of the kids in the group tried to eat the 72 oz steak. Let's just say I have barf action photos. But we'll save that for later. Ah, dessert!

I'm hopeful I'll come back with at least one big extraordinary rusty curiosity to stick in my garden back home. There are some fabulous junk shops along the road out west. Ah, the open road - me and my mum are gonna pull a Thelma & Louise, minus the rape, murder, boozing, Brad Pitt and suicide. WOOOHOOOO!.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Coolest thing I saw in Arkansas last weekend: a biker-chick's t-shirt that said on the back does this bike make my butt look fast? She looked like a major ass-kicking momma, and her butt DID look fast!

Left my dog in a doggie camp when we were out of town last weekend and she's been acting like a dog ever since she got home. She made some buddies and I think they must have informed her that she's not a person. I'm not sure if I'm ok with it, though - she's not as cuddly as I'm used to-- but she seems very happy and like she had a good time... Bitches - who understands 'em?

Finally, whoever recommended the book (I'm thinking it was Tam???) Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell - THANK YOU so much. Excellent book - one of my all-time favorites. Brilliantly written with no schlock that made me cringe -- just believable character development and exciting battle scenes. Great stuff. A fast and very entertaining read. I highly recommend this one.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tickersoid tagged me, so here goes:

Six things about me

1. I had a kitten when I was 3 and it disappeared one day. At the corner of the street was a mailbox, and I asked the mailman every day if he would look in there for my kitty. I already know what you're going to say about this one.

2. Despite any typos you see here, I have excellent manual dexterity, and love doing things with my hands like needlework, beadwork and sewing.

3. I once made an alien autopsy kit out of papier-maiche for a friend's birthday. To get the goodies out, he had to make the Y autopsy incision in the 4' long green alien. I know - sick. But funny.

4. I have a collection of airline barf bags. Crown jewels of the collection are Sabena and Pan Am (sadly defunct) and Aeroflot. I also have a mad passion for collecting
floaty pens.

5. I trained as a classical vocalist in college and dreamed of becoming an opera singer. I still would like to, but I believe the professional realm kills the joy of any art. I practically have to sit on my hands when watching operas live - I always want to run up on stage and help out

(right : the immaculate Edita Gruberova as Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute, a role I would have sung)

6. Since I was a tiny girl I've always been able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone I see. I'm friendly, but can turn on a dime. If provoked, I can be incredibly intimidating. Cowardice is something I don't understand, and my blood boils when I see someone bullying other people

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back from the hinterlands of the Ozarks after having a lovely time at the family reunion. I heard lots of family stories and a bit of family gossip, which is sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic, and nearly always entertaining. This was my maternal family, and the reunion I mentioned in the previous post was paternal family, so this is a whole other kettle of fish.

My maternal Grandpa died in 1987, but he had a younger cousin who is now in his early 80s who comes to these shin-digs who looks remarkably like Grandpa. Only problem is Grandpa never had his teeth in my lifetime, and it freaks me out to see his lookalike with a set of chompers in. Someone marveled to me at the efficiency with which Grandpa ate corn off the cob without teeth. Yes, I come from a long line of very accomplished folk! Also, the lookalike has been to the Donald Trump Institute of Hair Arrangement™ and must have about 10 hairs that are a mile long each and looped endlessly like a big bun of cotton candy on top of his head. What's amazing is that somewhere along the way he started dyeing his hair and so the rat's nest is a bit variegated with sections of silver, salt&pepper, and strawberry blond. Still, he's a cute old man and a sweetheart, so I can forgive the peculiar vanity.

I got to see my other Grandpa, who of course is missing my Grandma. He's almost completely deaf now, which means that he believes that if he can't hear his own farts, then no one else can. He lets it rip like nobody's business and never even acknowleges the ill wind he has set afoot on the planet. Then again, he's about 90, and at that age, maybe you just don't give a rat's ass. Let the man fart, I say. Still, the carefree pealing of rolls of thunderous flatulence have a singular ability to discompose all the other folks in the room. Oh well.

We went up a day early to drive through the mountains, and we spent the night at a little mom and pop motel called Red Bird Inn in Greer's Ferry. The little inn was cute and furnished with an assortment of mid-ce
ntury modern and home-spun wood furniture, which made for a quaint experience. There's a lake called Greer's Ferry Lake, but they haven't had an actual ferry for more than 20 years, apparently. There was also a fantastic old steel bridge spanning the lake, but a tornado took it out a while back. I think one of my hippy cousins got married on that ferry barefoot in the 70s. The marriage ended in tears, by the way. I complained to the people at the state park that it was sort of false advertising to keep "ferry" in the name, and we all had a good laugh about that.

It's great to be home. I'm probably heading out next weekend to Hereford and Amarillo Texas with my mom, so long road trips two weekends in a row. Should be a hoot. Nice to see you all again!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sunday/Monday - since I went out of town to go to a family reunion this weekend, I'm reposting this golden chestnut from March 4, 2004. Enjoy.

Reunions in my family are always worth attending simply for the novelty of being around apocalyptic white trash (thank you Sandra Bernhard). Once the family rented a pavilion at a state park in Arkansas for the annual gathering. As it happened, Arkansas didn't shut down the entire park to the public, and many unfortunate souls came by along the path wending between the gigantic springs of the park and the pavilion. I wonder if the woman in the wheelchair thought she would be communing with nature that day, breathing the fresh air and escaping the cruelties of life, if only momentarily? She made her way slowly, laboring to scale the gradual incline of the path. Her legs were both removed above the knee. In a just world, she could have made her way unhindered through the glories of nature, but then again--in a just world, my family and all its tangled strands of DNA might never have existed. It would have been a mercy, too, if the woman could have glided by unmolested by Colton and Austin, my cousin's two young sons. Colton and Austin have the developmental level of a three-year old baboon, with equal communication skills. Austin ran up to the woman shouting "Hay Colton! Come look! This lady ain't got no laigs! Hay lady! What happened to yer laigs, lady?" Uncle Billy (the proud grandfather) said "them kids are gonna end up dead or in prison." Quite.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I originally posted this on November 26, 2002, about the pending divorce of Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley.

Oh the humanity! Oh cruel fate that has torn them asunder! Nicolas Cage seemed poised for a major connection with the King ever since his dweeb-cum-Elvis-wannabe turn in Peggy Sue Got Married. Then Patricia Arquette did the ding-dong honeypot Elvis fanatic in True Romance. WHY oh WHY would any guy divorce Patricia Arquette??? But I digress. Didn't we ALL already know Lisa Marie was a bit tetched? Marrying someone else from a famous family who grew up in the spotlight was bound to be fraught with nightmare problems, not to mention her prior marriage to the ├╝ber-peculiar Michael Jackson. Early buzz on the Lisa Marie/Nicolas union was that Nicolas wanted to close Graceland to the public and live there. In Memphis. Imagine living with the sham-luxe 70's decor of the Jungle Room. I'm guessing Lisa Marie didn't find that such a quaint ideer, considering her wealth is expanded exponentially per annum by virtue of the white trash cavalcade that trots through the disused home of the King.

Incidentally, one of my favorite Elvis stories involves his longtime maid at Graceland, who arduously collected hairs when she cleaned around his "throne" for years and years. When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was collecting artifacts with which to festoon its new showplace in Cleveland Ohio several years back, this maid offered for sale the baggie of toilet hairs. There were no bidders. Michael Jackson is known for odd predilections, including ownership of the skeleton of David Merrick, the elephant man. My little Gordian Knot theory on Elvis would have been complete if Michael Jackson had tracked down the Elvis maid and bought that bag of pubes. Someday, in the Enquirer you'll read the post-mortem inventory of the gloved one's creepatorium, and listed will be an odd ziploc bag of short-and-curlies, and you'll remember I told ya so.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Do you know the muffin man?

On Wednesday, a Dallas high school made the news when 18 teachers went to the hospital after ingesting tainted muffins which had been delivered to the high school by a young man and placed in the teacher's lounge. They described the symptoms of the stricken teachers on the news. I laughed and turned to husband and said "It's pot, only they've left out the primary symptom: undeniable urge to munch on crisp salty snack foods."

Then in the Thursday news, guess what? Turns out the muffins were tainted with marijuana. I'm betting they may make progress locating the perp if they test the muffins for a wee bit of DNA, too. Sure, it would be overkill, but he was already committing a felony - what's a little bodily fluid amongst strangers?

Police continue to look for the delivery man, as other area teachers secretly hope for a delivery.

Friday morning I'm going out of town for a few days. I possibly will check in at some point. If not, see you late Monday night. Have a great weekend! I'll re-post some of my old favorites for the days I'll be gone. Cheers!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Putting on the ditz

Putting on the ditz.

My much beloved favorite comic - Eddie Izzard - said something brilliant about what the public goes for. Forgive the butchery of this story - I won't presume to quote. He said with the public it's 10% what you say, 20% how you say it, and 70% how you look when you're saying it. He cited the example of JFK in Berlin saying "Ich bin ein Berliner" to a crowd of Germans, who just went nuts with glee. In German, to say I'm a Berliner, he should have said "Ich bin Berliner." Instead, he objectified himself and in effect called himself a donut, the local municipal pastry. Eddie said someone in the crowd said "what did he say?" and the guy next to him said "He said he's a donut. He's an American. He's a fuckin' donut!" as they applauded madly with the rest of the crowd who were caught up in the heady euphoria of being in the presence of the attractive young American president.

Flash forward to American Idol, Tuesday night. Katharine McPhee sang the classic Ella Fitzgerald number "I ain't got nothing but the blues." If you watched her sing with the sound down, you'd think she was doing "Walking on Sunshine," or somesuch. Larking about the stage, fleet of foot and a giddy gleam in the eye, the smile rarely leaving her lips is not a convincing way to convey the blues, frankly, and that is part and parcel of why she is such a dead mackerel on stage - she doesn't connect with what she's singing about, ever! She is locked in stasis looking pretty and saying "look what I can do! *blink*blink*" She's like the baton twirler from the old Funky Winkerbean cartoon. She's pretty much just a beautifully put-together dipshit and boring, boring, boring. Yeah, she's a fucking donut. Tragically, the far superior performer--Elliot Yamin-- went home tonight.

Next week should be interesting, but I'm looking forward to the end of the first and last season of this idiotic show I'll ever watch. ESPECIALLY if the Stepford Singer™ wins it. Sheesh. I expect it all to be utterly resistable in future.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On why I love living in truck country™.

A colleague of husband's drives a Dodge Ram pickup with a hemi, and he is so impassioned about his truck that he meets regularly with a group of enthusiasts who all drive the same damned vehicle. Last weekend, they convened at a Golden Corral (low-budget buffet fare - don't allow yourself to be dragged there) for a meal after which they repaired to the wide-open spaces of a disused parking lot to practice peeling out, burning rubber and no doubt plenty of farting. A security guard came along and told them they had to leave the parking lot or he was going to call the police. Mind you, here are 19 middle aged men (little boys) in their identical Dodge Ram pickups being told to clear out by a security guard on a golf cart. Reprobates!

One guy mentions that for a $25 charity donation they can go to a local race track and do three laps around. This suggestion is met with great enthusiasm, so they all pile into their trucks and start following the guy who made the suggestion, but he clearly doesn't know where they are going and drives too slowly for everyone's taste. Along the highway comes a guy with an identical pickup to one of the group leaders, who happened to be driving near the back of the convoy. He flies by the group, and they all start following him, thinking he'd taken up the reins to lead the way. Suddenly, they are driving in a Fort Worth residential neighborhood and although it's curious, they stay with their leader. At last, the head truck comes to a cul-de-sac, and someone they've never seen before parks on the street, jumps out of his truck and runs into his house. Then, of course, there is the glut of 19 more pickups crammed into the narrow turnaround of this dead end street. Imagine you're driving home and a group of 19 vehicles identical to yours starts following you - how weird is that? No doubt he was whipping out the shotguns as soon as he was through the door.

Now, rams are the animals that slam their heads together over and over for entertainment, right?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I finally saw Lady Sings the Blues recently, the 1970s flick starring Diana Ross as the tragic singer Billie Holiday. Billy Dee Williams swans in as the brilliantined dandy who sweeps her off her feet and sets up house with her. (What is it about Billy Dee Williams that always makes me think *ting* when he flashes that megawatt smile? ) This is a film I'm pleased to have seen once, but I don't know if I'll ever re-visit. The tragic circumstances and horrors of racism seem too pat and obvious a trope to explain her slide into addiction to smack. Things must have been more complicated than that. Sad story.

Woot! Diana Ross. There's an onion wants peeling, eh? First there was all the crap with Nancy and Flo, when Diana was pulled to the fore of the Supremes and overshadowed her creative partners. Jilted! I'm sure the spittle of bitterness will never dry between those three. Then there was her bizarre personal interest in the pre-pubescent Michael Jackson. Ease on down the road, would you, but by all means, avoid The Wiz like the plague. Diana was obviously going down the stony end when she was blitzed at some award show at the podium and made free to give Lil Kim's pastied mam a little bounce. Well, shit, she was just doing something half the people in the audience were thinking of doing. BFD, right? Phlegmmy's First Rule of Bad Behavior™: by all means, do not allow people to document your meltdowns - it makes them harder to deny later on. Then there came Diana's arrest for driving under the influence a year or so ago (in Phoenix?). They never actually gave her a field sobriety test, and I think charges were dropped. That's normal, right? The cops wouldn't give her a free ride just because she's a celebrity, would they? Oh, but if they film her arrest story, it could be called "Lady Plays the Blues." Diana may get caught on film copping a feel of nubile pop stars, and she may have enough sadness in her life to justify getting potted and driving recklessly, but at least she's getting away with it. In showbiz, by all means, be a mess - just don't get fat.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We had a great Mother's Day Sunday. I went to church with family and brought my mom, sister, niece and nephew home with me and we gamboled about the back yard, most particularly in the pool. This weekend I had a total brainwave and bought a sandbox for the 3 year old nephew, never knowing the niece would be crazy about it too. Here's a tip for aunts/uncles - sandboxes keep them busy for hours. I also picked up a bag of creepy-crawly plastic reptiles and sandcastle implements. They had a blast, and I think mom enjoyed time in the pool with the grandkids. It was a lovely day.

Someone my mom works with goes to a church that doesn't celebrate any holidays, even birthdays. Eschewing all holidays seems very strange. In addition to missing out on the important ritual of remembrance that a holiday affords, it also seems quite dull. In two weeks the USA will celebrate Memorial Day, in which we'll honor the men and women who have served in our military, particularly in armed conflicts and especially those who died serving our country. I wonder what kind of religion tells people it is sinful to take a day every year to say thanks to the people who have given their lives for our country? I'll pass on that one, thank you very much. Besides, I like birthday cake too much not to celebrate...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Today is Mother's Day. As someone who has lost 2 grandmothers in the last 10 months, I'd like to remind you to be sure to take time to appreciate your mom, aunts, grandmothers and any woman who has faithfully shepherded you through life. Life is too short, and they do so much for the young lives in their care.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

We're about to renovate the first of our bathrooms, and I went today to a Kohler showroom to check out the bathtubs. I had a Victorian bathtub in the 1910 house we had in McKinney, and I was so spoiled by that monster hunk of enameled iron. I am baffled by the preponderance of acrylic bathtubs on the market because acrylic feels nasty and gets dirty and discolored so easily. I'm amazed by all the ugly products on the market - are people actually buying this overpriced shit?

Once I was in a relative's bathroom in their double-wide in Arkansas, and I used the master bath. Next to the toilet I noticed the oddly-shaped acrylic jacuzzi-tub with a row of cigarette burns along the edge. What blows my mind is that rather than set the next cigarette on an already-scorched patch of the fixture, they deliberately laid the cigarette down in a very uniformly spaced grouping of two dozen or so scorches. You know those old tree-slice home-spun art pieces with the wood burning kit embellishments along the edge of the board? Same thing. This must be the new decorating hobby for mobile homes far and wide. I'll bet there'll be a special on HGTV on this trend. "Acrylic fixture modification: smoke your way to a more unique bathroom!"

By the way, HGTV (Home & Garden Television) is opium for the Mrs.

Friday, May 12, 2006

This is my new plant Porterweed. Pretty foliage with long peppery spikes with brilliant indigo blossoms. Attracts butterflies.

I had dinner with mom and dad last night, and that was a treat, as always. They're so clever that there's always lots of laughter at the table with them. We were laughing at the gritty country truisms they plied my siblings and me with when we were growing up. One particularly fertile one was "if you play with chickenshit, you'll smell like it." Sort of a down-home twist on the pearls-before-swine thingie.

Not only have mom and dad trotted out the old farm-isms for our benefit, they are equally adept at coining new golden chestnuts that are ever in use in the family vernacular. My personal favorite was one I never told my siblings or mother until relatively recently, but it made a tremendous impression on me at the time and I've never forgotten it. I was about 3 and we lived in Memphis or Mississippi, and dad saw me sucking on a penny. I know. Gross. Dad said "Phlegmmy! Get that out of your mouth! You don't know who's been scratching their hind-end with that!" I know. It's dazzling, isn't it? I removed that penny forthwith.

Incidentally, I've never sucked another penny.

Speaking of, does anyone besides me remember The Upright Citizen's Brigade and the Ass Pennies sketch? Classic!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I've always had a fixation with teeth. Not to the degree of peculiarity or anything, I just seem to focus on them. I loved pulling my baby teeth--I'll spare you the details. I'm ok with braces and that sort of thing, obviously, but taking perfectly healthy teeth, grinding them down and bonding veneers to them is peculiar, to say the least. Remember David Bowie's real teeth? Remember Cher's? How unfortunate that people allow themselves to be persuaded to hide a very distinctive and personal feature with a fake, homogenous appliance. It's kinda sick. Some of the most fabulous yet kinda wonky teeth I can think of are Patricia Arquette - and she's nothing but a cute little honey pot. It would be a shame if she ever altered her fetching smile.

Speaking of sick, one of my favorite dental gross-out scenes was in Castaway when Tom Hanks performs a tooth extraction on himself using the blade of an ice skate and a rather large rock. Throughout the theater were audible gasps and groans, and then, the sound of me giggling maniacally. Now if this kind of stuff happened on those so-called reality survival shows, that would be worth watching.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I am all astonishment. Katharine McPhee NOT being voted off American Idol is proof positive that you can put in the shittiest performance of everyone in the competition, including boner notes and dropping entire lines out of the song, and still not be sent home. Shi-tay, boys and girls. Absolute crap.

Katharine McPhee will never have a glorious solo career for the same reason Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham will never have a glorious solo career: Great look, good voice, and all the right moves but nobody is home.

Tune in to American Idol Wednesday night to see McPhee (in the yellow) get her walking papers.
From the land of WTF:
News Flash - NPR discovers people die, and writers are here to explore that notion in fiction so we can be made aware of death.

Terry Gross interviewing American author Philip Roth on NPR's Fresh Air (audio link here):

TG:To get into the subject that you're writing about I'd imagine you'd have to focus your thoughts alot on mortality, on death, on, um, the slow diminishment of the body over time, on pain, illness. I mean, that's what you're writing about, you had to be thinking about it.

PR: Well, sure, but it's all around one, isn't it?

TG: Yeah.

PR: You see it every day and people who aren't writers have other tasks and their task is not necessarily to look at that. Um, this is no judgment on the way people go about their lives, but it's really the task of the writer to look at this stuff that is not so pretty.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I give you Nuggles von Doglophone.

So the doglet had teeth cleaned almost two weeks ago and while she was out, the vet removed a big cyst thing on her shoulder. Lo and behold, underneath the cyst was uncovered the true source of doglet's seemingly boundless energy: in addition to being her own jet propulsion laboratory, she is the prototype cold-fusion-fired dogdroid. All these years I've suspected that Jack Russell Terriers, with their jaunty yet mathematically-precise gait were too perfect to be a product of nature, and I was right. At the right is a closeup of her control panel. The photo above was taken right after the surgery so she's not quite as bright-eyed as usual, and she's doped to the gills, to say the least. A day later you'd never know she'd been interfered with medically, except for the shaved patch on the back and the vastly improved breath.

I don't normally work on Mondays, but the other girl in the office had appendicitis last week, so I filled in for her. I came home tired and laid on the sofa with doglet, her head draped across my calf and my knee against the soft part of her belly just below her ribcage. Animals never hold their breath, and it's hypnotic how steady in and out their lungs work, very soothing. I fell into a blissful nap, perfectly happy and comfortable.

Since I wasn't going to be able to take her in for her followup until later in the week, I removed her stitches this weekend. Remember me saying she loves to eat toenail clippings? Well, she loves to eat removed stitches, too. Gobbled them right up, and then stared expectantly for more. After the fourth one came out, she glowered at me as if to say "I know you're holding out on me--pony up, bitch!" She can be so demanding and needy. Bossy, too. I wonder where she learned that?

Monday, May 08, 2006

I used to work at the armpit of the Dallas area, the Bulk Mail Center (a postal facility). I worked as a mail processing clerk, and a married woman in my area named Judy was carrying on an affair with a leering weirdo forklift driver. She was always looking over her shoulder and seemed afraid for him to catch her having a conversation with anyone, male or female. He'd pull up suddenly on his forklift, scowling and shooting eye-daggers at anyone who looked his way. He sorta resembled a bulldog, actually, only not so charming. I'd seen him giving her a rather heated lecture on more than one occasion and I suspected he was physically violent toward her.

Now mind you, Judy was so completely stupid that even I wanted to slap her around a bit. Her idea of an edifying conversation was to tell you her grocery list. Bread? Milk? Who gives a shit? Anyway, once Judy told me her dog had puppies in a bureau drawer, but that the wee bastards suffocated because the mother didn't lick off the membrane thingies. I looked at her, deadpan, and said "Judy, why didn't you lick off the puppies?" She sort of sputtered a response that she never thought of that. I rather suspected those dogs had gone to a better place anyway, rather than live in the care of a brain-trust like Judy.

What sort of got me started on this path today was thinking of that song "Let's go to bed" by the Cure, which I always thought must be about talking an argument to death by staying up all night and never getting anywhere with it. If you think you're tired now, just wait until 3. My first boyfriend was one of those power-mad losers that have to win every argument, and apparently love to keep their vict-- er, girlfriend up all night figuring out that he is, in fact, a demigod and not to be questioned.

In Interview magazine sometime in the 80s, Carrie Fisher said in order to work, every marriage has to have a flower and a gardener. She said her marriage to Paul Simon was doomed because they are both flowers and no one was able/willing to nurture the other one. Well, I have to say first boyfriend was the first and last male flower I would ever go within 10 feet of. Even if I come off like John Wayne in a Sherman Tank, I'm the girl, and I make the decorating choices, see? I'll never ask you if my ass looks fat in these. Even if I look like hell warmed over, you'd better tell me how damned cute I am, got it? And none of this keeping me up arguing all night bullshit, because you're doomed to lose anyhow, and momma needs her sleep. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I love card games and puzzles, and tonight I learned to play cribbage. What a hoot! Fun times with good girlfriends! A much-needed night out. Looking forward to a good night's rest... See you Sunday...

Friday, May 05, 2006

OK, so I'm a total label whore. Here are my fabulous new sunglasses - I feel like a glam doll when I have these on. Moreso than usual, even.
Today I took my book and my sunglasses on my new float and wafted around the pool in the sunshine like a paper boat. It was glorious. I actually thought about letting myself drift off to sleep, I was so blissed out. Then again, it would be a shame to miss any of it. This is going to be a great summer to have a pool.My dog was blissed out warming her old bones in the sunshine too. It was a great day.

Here's a question: Is there a distinction between gossip and simply sharing information about people in your family/social sphere?

I'm having a difference of opinion with someone I personally who also reads this blog, and I was curious what other people think. I understand this person wishes to be moral and not engage in idle gossip, but I think they've gone overboard and that it's ridiculous to not be able to have a conversation about events in the lives of people in our acquaintance. This has turned conversation with the person in question tedious and decidedly dull. Actually, I think they are struggling with their own judgmental nature, which is not a problem for me. I can say "My brother got a pet spider monkey" in a way that is matter of fact and not have an opinion one way or another about it. The person I am talking about here would conclude (phlegm's brother can't care properly for a monkey, monkeys are unsanitary - blah de flipping blah) lots of things that involve looking down upon or disapproving the other person's action. I think the problem is not what's being said but the thought process and inherently judgmental nature of the person in question. I value your opinions so what do y'all think?
To clarify, what's happened in several recent conversations with this person is they will break off in the middle of a sentence and say, "oh, never mind. I don't want to talk about people."

Of course, this is not to say that I am never judgmental - when forced, I can be the most ferocious critic, as you may have noticed. I'm just saying if you can never talk about things that happen involving people you know, how much is left to talk about?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Since I'm off a few days in the week, I like to take whatever book I'm reading at the moment and go to a restaurant by myself for lunch. I don't mind if there's noise around me- in a public place that is to be expected. However, I have some restaurant pet peeves I'd like to whine about for a moment.

Why is it that terminally dullard women travel in packs and chatter so loudly that you couldn't tune out their inane palaver even with a Milli Vanilli track looping 'round your brain? Overheard at my favorite brunchy place recently was this golden chestnut:
"I came home and there was a big raccoon on my porch and I waited and waited and it wouldn't go away so I called 9-1-1 on my mobile." *much laughter*
I think no jury would convict me for battery if I'd slapped the shit out of the bitch just because. I would have called it a crime of passion. It just happened that I had a pair of foam earplugs in my handbag which I pulled out and ceremoniously inserted. It helped a bit, but I still resented they oxygen these women were wasting, along with the time and money of the public who provide a police department for real emergencies.

Next restaurant pet peeve - the Donald Trumps of the world who go to a public restaurant and think they are conducting a private business meeting, talking loudly and bandying about the usual tired corporate bullshit catchphrases. All I know is these assholes need to reinvent frictionless deliverables and engage collaborative solutions to give me a peaceable enviroment in which to enjoy my meal . Losers.

And finally, my personal favorite people whose heads I'd like to rip off so I could potty down their necks: people (predominantly men, I must say) who have loud cell phone business conversations at the table. My favorite Dallas Indian restaurant is near the region's high-tech corridor, and there's always some weenie at a nearby table, trying to talk colleagues through some meltdown that's happening back at the lab. Last week a woman sat quietly during the entire meal as her companion talked on his cell phone for at least half an hour.

There was a time not so long ago when one of the great things about being away from home was that you didn't have to answer the phone. Where has that sensibility gone? It's as though most people can't function without the disruption. Me, I'm finding it difficult to function WITH the disruption. Call me a cranky old broad, but my patience wears thin... Is there such thing as dining rage?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm off work the next two days, so this will be me. Just kidding - I'm much better groomed than this. And I don't drink the kind of beer that should have been left in the horse in the first place. I am a remote-control Nazi, though.

The Smoking Gun reports that the ATF is demanding that crunked-out grills of convicted gangbanger felons be confiscated as federal property, since the oral bling is evidence of ill-gotten gains. The defense said the confiscation of the dental appliances would compromise the dental health of the felons. That's ok, cause when they get in the joint, their new daddy Bluto will probably prefer them toothless and will happily relieve them of they gold package. Classy!

American Idol Pap -

Who will go home - Paris Bennett despite her two solid performances Tuesday night

Who should go home - Um, Katherine's first song was abysmal, but her second was fantastic. Chris Daughtry's first was great and the second sucked balls. It's kind of a toss-up who's next on the block, but I predict top two will be Taylor and Chris. Kind of interesting, now, but as ever, thank goodness for DVR and being able to forward through the crap like that revolting host and his incessant flirting with Simon and then there's the insufferable commercials... tv. yuck. but I just cain't quit yew!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Here's one Tam at View From the Porch should appreciate:

I had a great conversation on the phone with my dad tonight (actually it's always hilarious when we talk). He told me a relative (by marriage, thank goodness) told him about the golden days of adolescent hijinks when life on the farm got a little too boring. He and his brothers picked the lead out of .22 shells, tamped in a tootsie roll over the powder and shot each other with the dentally challenging chocolatey treats. They ended up at a doctor's office having a professional extract a deeply embedded tootsie roll from one of their unfortunate asses. True story from the Ozarks.

So, we kept talking, and the convo turned to movies. Dad asked if I'd seen "Walk the Line" and I said yeah, I saw it on cable. He said he went with mom to see it and she said that was more than she ever really wanted to know about Johnny Cash, and we laughed.

ME: Even though Reese Witherspoon is a bit rat-faced, she's still really cute.
DAD: The one that played June Carter? I guess she is sorta cute.
ME: I have a hard time reconciling her with playing June, who I always thought was rather homely. Did you think June Carter was unattractive?
DAD: Shoot, she looked like a hammered turd.

Nope. No one spins a bon mot* like my pop.
*well-chosen word(s), particularly a witty remark

Monday, May 01, 2006

I went to a restaurant last night and as I was leaving, a waitress stopped a patron who was wearing the above tee shirt to ask him about it. I thought "oh boy: here it comes." I didn't stay to see how it ended up.
The Mayday illegal immigrant laydown may or may not be the Y2K moment of 2006 - the crisis that wasn't - but the media have certainly been salivating in rapt anticipation of a big disruption to public life. I want to believe they will be disappointed, but who can say? I suppose we'll know in a few hours.

If I couldn't think of Mexican examples of exceeding wealth and popularity in the USA, I might say, yeah, they're getting a real bum rap, but the fact is that illegal immigrants have been a tremendous drain on the public coffers in the USA for a very long time, while not contributing in the form of income taxes. While I concede they contribute largely in the service sector, if Mexico and its culture are so wonderful, why do they leave there? Also, if they are demanding to turn the USA into a Mexican colony, how can they expect more than the squalid conditions and violent, defective culture they came from? Here in Texas, legal Mexican-Americans are already profoundly respected members of the community with large flourishing businesses that count people of many other cultures among their best patrons - I'm not seeing the disrespect the media claim Latinos are getting from other Americans.

The fact is that for hundreds of years and for better or worse, people have been leaving beloved homelands and throwing their lot in with other Americans, facing great adversity and prejudice upon arrival. Yeah, it's crappy that people don't just automatically respect each other because it's the decent thing to do, but we're basically pack animals and we like us/them equations. Ergo the wild popularity of professional sports.

Around the industrial revolution, Italian and Sicilian immigrants were the bottom of the social barrel. Did they bitch and moan and insist government forms be written in the mother tongue? Who knows, but they found a way to make living here work and took the crappy factory work there was in abundance, instead of trying to break down the system and prove what big swinging balls they had. They sucked it up and adapted and although their old grannies never learned English, their kids and grandkids have become wildly successful and live happy, prosperous lives as vaccinated and public-schooled Americans, some of them even enjoying the witness protection program. In short, they were grateful for the opportunity to live here instead of the economic deadend of the hopeless tuberculosis-riddled places they came from, and appreciative of a society in which they had a fighting chance to flourish and raise families free of violent political revolutions.

Then along came the big potato crisis in Ireland, and massive waves of Irish folks came to these fair shores and would you believe it? Suddenly being Italian wasn't the crappiest thing anyone could think of. Remember that nightmare tornado scene in The Wizard Of Oz where there's a store's Help Wanted sign that says "Irish need not apply?" This was the great depression, 1930s America, and discrimination against Irish people was common and accepted. Yup--you read correctly - white people discriminating against white people. It's a cycle. Yes, it sucks, but it's likely that someone born in the desert 100 yards north of the Rio Grande tonight may in fact one day have a housemaid and gardener of Ukranian and Thai Hill Tribe extraction. That's just the way it goes.

When Mexican pop star Selena died, Howard Stern caught all kinds of hell for saying that hispanics are melodramatic. Their outcry over this was melodramatic off the chain. Turning the streets of the USA and the wheels of commerce into a mercurial gauge with the fluctuation of a Mexican soap opera is, in fact, the fast track to turning the USA into the same rundown, crappy place they came from. Way to go, losers!

Although my style of jewelry is very free-form and intuitive, I've sort of felt in a bit of a rut lately. I am going to start fabricating my own silver chains to add a more distinctive look to my work. I'm easily bored, I suppose, and the mini-torchwork is fun. It's also exciting to pull your finished piece out of the tumbler to see it all shiny and pristine. When you finish a silver piece, you tumble it in a polishing tumbler thingie for about 8 hours. If you want a shiny silver texture, you put in stainless steel shot, and for a matte silver texture, you use a ceramic or plastic bead-type of shot. It's interesting stuff. I'm thinking I'll get a second tumbler just for the plastic/ceramic, instead of switching out shot, which is messy and kind of a pain. It's neat, all the steps of the process to make jewelry. I love the more elegantly-wrought chains of the Victorian/Edwardian eras (such as those pictured above), and also Empire style. While I don't intend to copy these styles, I would like my chains to have the more substantial look of these chains from a non mass-produced technique, rather than the cheap flimsy things we see so commonly these days. The next big piece of equipment I need for my studio is a grinder/polisher. I'd love to take some lapidary classes, but that's a whole new can of worms maybe best not opened. On highway 7 in Arkansas there was a fabulous rock shop where I bought a lot of great pieces for experimenting in putting little gemmy bits into my jewelry. Should be fun.