Thursday, August 31, 2006

Well, I'm officially surprised. I thought Angela would go through to the top 4 on Project Runway, but instead she's been eliminated. I have to say those pants she wears with the decorative inserts on the bottom circling around to the inside thighs are absolutely beastly - and woefully unflattering, too. Why not just hire a little pair of cherubs to fly around with you everywhere and they can suspend a big ribbon banner over your head that reads - "be sure to notice my wide ass--it's enormous." And if I see one more intercoursing "fleurchand", I'm going to run out screaming. I thought Laura should have won this challenge. I'm so glad Kayne didn't get sent home.

KAYNE SIGHTING - Last week Justin Timberlake played the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas, and Kayne was there. Someone I know saw him, but said people were crowded around him. You can think I made that up, if you like, nein. It's a free country.

Someone recently made a production of saying they want to spend more time with me, and then proceeded to shoot down everything I said with contrarian statements. If more time together means better acquainting me with your jerky side, then no thanks. I've already met your inner asshole.

A friend brought a ticket by for the Gypsy Tea Room show Tuesday night, but I was so doggoned beat I had to go home. The bands playing were X and The Rollins Band. Now, if they had been the Cramps or the Damned, I would have been there, no question. Hot weather is crap weather for concerts, anyway. Give me blue norther and I'm ready to go to a show!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Incredible story I heard from an involved party tonight. Absolutely true.

Jerry Jones owned (owns?) the Dallas Cowboys football team and was expecting an exalted houseguest in the form of one George H.W. Bush, former U.S. president. Of course he's got scores of Oompa-loompas on staff bustling about and readying his palatial manse for the visit, when he calls up a Dallas sculptor to commision a poured stone base for an enormous heavy sculpture, demanding it be done overnight, as the visit was happening in 2 days and it would take one day to set up the sculpture. The artist quoted $500, and the man countered with a take-it-or-leave-it offer of $250. The artist agreed.

This enormous plinth for the glass sculpture was completed just as the workers were clearing away all the boxes and detritus from the major work that had been going on in and around the house.

Come to find out, the boxes full of the pieces of the $180,000 Dale Chihuly glass sculpture had been out on the verandah, but were now nowhere to be found.

The men clearing away the mess were questioned. Did they see the boxes? Well, yes, they threw them in the pile with the rest of the garbage.

Everyone was pulled off every other detail on the property and the employees scrambled to pull the boxes of the fragile glass pieces from the bottom of the garbage pile.

With the exception of one tiny 1 inch nick, all the glass pieces were pristine and unblemished by their airborne trips to the trash pile. The sculpture was assembled and nary a blemish was to be seen, to the relief of everyone.

When the base sculptor received the check in the mail, he noticed that rather than the promised $250, the check was made out in the amount of $249.61-- the employee of JJ who issued the check deducted the amount of the postage stamp. ???!!!

Anyway, sometime later the artist ran into the Jerry Jones contact and he mentioned with mirth the inexact amount of the check.

The embarrassed J.J. minion reached in his pocket, scrambling to give the guy the .39. The sculptor said not to bother - that he didn't even cash the check, but instead kept it on the wall of his office to prove his story.

The Jerry Jones employee laughed, relieved that the ripped-off local artisan wasn't pissed off. I suspect he was also relieved that he saved an additional $249.61. That should make the boss happy.

Oh, over at photonomad's marvelous Phoenix daily blog he has posted images of Phoenix' superb Good Samaritan Hospital. This is where my grandmother was cared for after less competent care elsewhere. I'm not bringing this up to be a downer, on the contrary: Good Sam and its staff of doctors and nurses administered the kindest, most dedicated care possible to my beloved gran. I'll be eternally grateful for the gentle way they cared for her and the comfort they were able to give her, bless them all.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

As I've mentioned, I make glass beads on torch and I make jewelry, and being a creative, arty sort of person, I seem to be a weirdo/loser/kook magnet. Indeed, I find the loopy energy of the out-there lost-in-space artist type quite fascinating. To a point. One of the most out-there people I know came over to my house today with another artist.

He's classic short-attention-span-theater, and although he's mid-50s, he is childlike in some of the most perturbing ways. Anything you mention or that he asks you about, after you give an explanation, he goes on to say that he's done it better/smarter/faster. No one has such a superlative existence as him. *much eye-rolling here*

And he will ask a question only to interrupt you with a subject change 5 words into your response. Maddening.

Here's the big stink bomb he laid on me today. He told me someday when I make a lot more money I need to hire him to landscape my pool. Seriously. How DARE he!

Now, I know there's one section of the garden that is drab, and the perennials aren't very large or established yet (it was the section I pictured here a few weeks ago), but it is evident in every direction of my yard that there is method to my madness.

I can understand speaking frankly, and I think I'm not terribly thin-skinned about things, generally, but that was so beyond the pale. If I had asked for his advice or what he thought, that would be one thing, but unsolicited advice lined with a cruel critique is downright shitty.

I might have responded that with the money from landscaping my yard he might do something about his distended abdomen or buy cleaning supplies so that his art pieces don't always reek of the bitter tang of cat piss.

But I would NEVER say something spiteful or hurtful just out of the blue. Just because I don't say mean things to people doesn't mean I'm not able to criticize-- I just don't like hurting someone's feelings - not my idea of a good time.

Call me fragile or pitiful, but I want the same respect paid me. I don't think I'll be inviting him over again any time soon.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Well, my beloved Deadwood is over forever. I've read that some people take issue with the florid speech of the characters (no, not the potty-mouth bits, the other bits), but I find this quite a likely form of address for that epoch.
Watch the Ken Burns documentary on letters between American Civil War-era soldiers and their loved ones back home. Personal address was obviously of a much more formal order then than what we see today, and taking that into account, I think the Deadwood writers nailed it. Besides, I love hearing the language so masterfully deployed. The current state of English address (or rather, American, at least) is like having access to a Lamborghini, but opting to take the Yugo everywhere instead. What a waste.

I looked Deadwood up on Wikipedia a few weeks back and saw that Al Swearengen and Seth Bullock were in fact real people. Seth Bullock went on to exalted place in Teddy Roosevelt's inner circle and was instrumental in the formation of the first US lands preserved in the form of a National Park. Swearengen ran several saloon/brothels in Deadwood. Sounds like he was a tragic character, actually.

I have to say that all my loathing in the show finally fell squarely at the feet of one George Hearst, who I dearly hoped would be dished up a goodly portion of lead to the brainpain in this episode. This was not to be. I was hoping he would be unrelated to THE American Hearsts, but, alas, George went on to father William Randolph Hearst, newspaper magnate, and great-grandfather of my favorite bankrobber Patty Hearst.

My favorite moment of this episode was Hearst's cook--Aunt Lou-- tidying up one of the town mental-defectives to bustle him out to vote against Hearst's interests in the election. Aunt Lou had been a devoted servant/assistant to Hearst, yet he had engineered the murder of her son(several episodes back), claiming it was a random robbery-type occurrence. Jerk. Anyway, it inspired Aunt Lou to get out the vote when the chips were down.

The show didn't end with the whole town burning down or anything, and there was plenty of unresolved tension. Final shot of Al is of him scrubbing the blood from the planks of his chamber floor after cutting someone's throat, the Nigger General is in line to vote, Calamity Jane is drunk and weeping for her dear lost Wild Bill Hickock, and George Hearst is riding high.

Not a jolting finish to this television masterpiece, but perhaps more realistic for the laborious creaking wind-down, and a harbinger of things to come for all the characters.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Just when I think I couldn't love Amy Sedaris any more than I already do, I come across this image, and yeah, I love her more. Ride 'em, cowgirl! It's the little details you have to love. Is it the purple rollers? The yellow latex gloves? I can't say. I just know she's been reading my dream journal. Fetch the saddle, Jeeves.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Golly, I really hate having to do this, but if you people had been on your toes and had given me shit when you should have, then I'd already have this embarrassing backpedaling taken care of in the comments of an earlier post. But NOOOOO. You let me sit there, my idiocy flapping in the wind for all to peruse, and now my humiliation is complete. I hope you're happy.

I made a fatuous statement that I'm now embarrassed to admit was written not under the influence of extreme inebriation, nor from an hallucinogen-generated fog. I said something extremely stupid in all sobriety. This, methinks, is a strong argument against sobriety.

What I said in the apartment management post was to the effect of your home reflecting your personality, and moreso than your car. blah blah blah. Please don't remind me specifically what I said - I'm taking pains to banish it from memory.

I would like to amend my statement thusly: HOW you live and how you treat other people is an infinitely more important and substantial measure of your worth as a person than where or what you live in, or what you drive. Or where you work.

Sitting in a cool breeze in the shade of another 102 degree Texas day, I realized as I so often do, what an irrascible moron I can be sometimes. I hope you can forgive me, for I still love you.

Sweet babies over for more Friday night pool frolics this week. That's 3 weeks in a row - FUN! Next week we won't get them. We're trying to wring as much fun as possible out of the pool before the water gets too cold.

I'm not feeling wistful about the end of 105 degree weather, but it does seem the merest moment between the end of the super-hot weather and the instant when I realize the pool is just too too cold to swim in. I usually eke out a bit of cold swimming even in October, and I'll try to suck it up and swim at least until then. However, I remember several birthdays of mine have been bitterly cold (Oct 8), and I always hope for that, as I crave nasty weather. Sweet!

It's s'posta be 95, 93 degrees by mid week next week, and that is a cold spell, baby. Let's hope it doesn't fall off too fast - finally got the house somewhat presentable and it's been great having pool parties lately. [ Somehow I just KNEW Kelly would be bringing some cooler weather with her. That's right: she's bad. She's nationwide.]

I know that I won't always have a swimming pool, but for this moment, it sure is sweet. I'm going to miss it some day. If you have a choice between a lawn and a pool, take the pool every time. Oh, and make sure you have a good camera on hand!

Friday, August 25, 2006

I actually hit upon an explanation for what I don't like about apartment management.

I DO enjoy showing my (unusually cool) apartments, and I enjoy the challenge of hooking someone up with an apartment that will meet their needs space- and feature-wise while helping them in some way discover and define who they are. (Ok, it sounds like a lofty concept, but I think where or what you live in is more indicative of who you are than is your vehicle).

I don't, however, enjoy the hand-holding that the 30-and-under crowd seem to need so very much of. I'm wondering if this is owing to the fact that their entire lives have been cradled in a world where safety belts were required for kids, all toys came with an age-appropriate rating system, and they always wore a helmet and pads when bicycling. They just seem so unprepared for life in the real world, and they are incredulous that every hard corner is not clad in rubber bumpers or something.

I'm a ripe old 40 years of age, and when I was a kid, we rode our banana-seat Schwinns sans helmet, and a whole shitload of us survived.

We had Clackers, a wonderful plastic ring tied in the middle of a long string with a transparent acrylic ball at either end. This was a toy. You would hold the ring and clack the balls up and down so they would smack together in an arc from top to bottom, top to bottom. Hours of fun, I tell you. Then some curmudgeon figured out that the acrylic ball fit neatly into the orbital socket of the human skull and was therefore likely to supplant the more desireable eyeball whilst in the process of swinging wildly about the head. Quicker than you can say Wham-O!, clackers were off the market. Wimps.

I've been thinking about it a lot. Most of these young men are terribly unmanly, needing lots of babying when it comes to wobbly door handles and changing light bulbs.

This very much makes me worry for the future of our country. Maybe our society is turning out people with too much specialized skill and too little general wisdom.

Maybe all college degrees should come with a complimentary copy of "Self-Sufficiency for dummies."

Note to self: author and publish "Self-Sufficiency for Dummies."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another housekeeping post.

It was acting wonky and it's not been a top performer, but I was still surprised when my Maytag Neptune washing machine crapped out this weekend. Call me a cheapskate, but I reckon a washing machine you pay nigh on to $1100 for should last at least a decade, and not the scanty 6 years I wrung from its bony carcass.

Went to the Sears Scratch/n/Dent emporium to seek out a mis-matched mate for the old Neptune Dryer. Husband asked my opinion, and I said I want another front-loader, for the queen--she is short--and she'll have greater ease of access with the frontie thing, if she ever deigns to do laundry. Also, the front-loader tumble style washers are easier on the garments and more water-efficient.

Husband thought going uber cheap was the best way. I said "tell ya what: I'll let you pick this one out, and I'll pick out the next one, since this one is Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right."

...This next bit is Project Runway so maybe only me and Kelly will be interested, but here goes. I know things have been manipulated to make Angela seem even more annoying than she is IRL, but golly, her mom is irritating. I felt bad for Jeffrey, like it was crappy of her to stand there and trash his choices when he wasn't there to defend his design. I think there should simply be a moratorium on whining, and the whole damn planet would benefit.

Unless it's me - my whining is always justified. Actually, I don't whine. I unburden.

I'm sorry Robert had to go, but I'm SOOOO glad Vincent won one, because he's caught a lot of shit for his prior designs, and I actually think he's not that bad, that he has potential for creating accessible, wearable garments for women.

I have come to the shocking awareness that Laura is a bottle-redhead version of Gwenyth Paltrow. And my goodness but she's fertile - the 6th on the way? My love for her was cemented when she said "6, 7, 8, I'll just throw it on the pile." Bless her heart...

For some reason, my DVR recorded that wretched trainwreck show about Hugh Hefner's 3 grandaughters. What? You mean they are sposta be his lovahs? That is difficult to feature, but ok. Anyway, as with an exploding port-o-sans, I simply couldn't tear my eyes away, and I watched as 20 year old Kendra truly arrives when presented with her platinum and diamond grills. Cause you know, you haven't lived until you gets yo teef crunked.

Oh, and as for Workout - I can't believe it took Jackie all season to break up with that infantile bitch Mimi. Annoying.

Carry on.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Click here for one more good reason why you have to love a Marine. This story warmed the cockroaches of my little heart.

You know, Dick, it's so funny you mentioned Mama's Daughters' Diner, since I photographed it today. So here it is, big as day, Not the best photo. The real glory is on the inside. Mama had a diner, and now her daughters run it, hence the name. It's gratifying to see an apostrophe properly deployed twice in one business name.

If you're ever in Dallas and get a hankering for home cooking, this is the place, over on Industrial near downtown. Their gravy is not bad, (but it's not Babe's, either). They have incredible chicken-fried chicken livers that will make you glad someone thought of eating organs. Oh, and pies-- have you heard about their pies? They have glorious meringue piled hip-deep. Good shit. Oh, and don't neglect to have a filling breakfast, at which they excel.

This is another death-row meal must, in my book.

Seriously, you can pick up your bags at DFW airport and be at Mama's Daughters' in 20 minutes, or maybe under 15 if you're with a skilled local yokel.

Oh, and almost all the waitresses have been waiting tables for decades, and they all call you "sweetie" or "hon." I LOVE that. There is one waitress named Suzy Q. No lie. And a couple of them will remind you of Flo from Mel's Diner in the tv show Alice.

There's one older lady (MUST be in her 70s) who wears lots of rhinestones, has piled-high hair the color of shoe-black, and always wears huge black sunglasses as she waits tables. She's a total rock star. I'll get her photo for you sometime soon - she's adorable.

Dick said to go there at 11 to be seated, because they DO get a considerable line around midday. However, table roulette is fun at this place - they'll seat you with a table of people you don't know and you get pulled into some of the most colorful conversations to be found.

Yeah, this is another thing to love about Dallas.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I double-checked with my dad about Rita's history as a pilot, and he said she raced planes around towers and that she had a bunch of trophies. If I can get hold of a photo, I'll show her to you so you can see what grit looked like. She also had that distinctive East Texas drawl, spoken in a slow voice, like she had all day to get the sentence out...

WTF is UP with sending kids back to school so early? People are always shrieking and hand-wringing about a lack of funding for the school systems in this country and yet they make the children attend during the hottest part of the year and they have to really gin the A/C systems to keep it tolerable in the buildings? What a load of horse shit! Unconscionable. School--at least in the south, should not start until the beginning of September. Seriously.

My house is more comfortable than most, and I'm having a $450 electric bill to keep it 80 degrees in here. We have double-paned windows. Someone with single-panes in the same size house just told me theirs stays about 90 degrees and their last bill was $750.

So not only are we paying for the electric in our own homes, we're buying super-cooled air for the school buildings as well. And frankly, it's too effing hot to learn or work on anything, anyway. I haven't lifted a finger to make jewelry in about 6 weeks, because it's too bloody hot to work on the torch. AND I have people who want more of my jewelry, but they'll just have to wait. Sorry. This is Texas. Call me in November...

Went to Babe's Chicken Dinner House at Belt Line and Garland Road Monday night. They have toe-curling fried chicken, and it's all served family-style where they bring the side dishes to the table and everyone just takes as much as they like of each dish. Mashed 'taters, green beans, corn. But even having some of the best fried chicken I've ever had (and that's saying something) did not begin to compare to the natural glory of their cream gravy.

If I'd been standing when I first saw that bowl of gravy, I would have gone all jelly-like in the knees. It has the most divine consistency - looked exactly like my Grandma Bertie's (my grandma who died in Arizona in June 2005). The faintest whiff tantalized my nose with what I hadn't dared to hope for-- it smelled like that marvel she always whipped up to complement her buttermilk biscuits. Heaven.

Lo and behold, it tasted remarkably like her gravy. My nose began to tingle, and I feared for an instant I might weep, so I started prattling on about something incredibly silly to distract myself. It's not that I'm so in love with gravy as a particular food - it's just the power of association. The tremendous release of again smelling and tasting something I thought lost to me forever was overwhelming. Of course, it's only the tiniest bit off, but it is as close an approximation of her gravy as I ever dare hope to experience.

Funny thing is when I was waxing orgasmic here over fried chicken 6 months or so ago, Big Dick told me to hie to Babe's in Roanoke. You were totally right, Dick.

So for anyone who comes to Texas to visit, Babe's is an absolute requirement. We're talking death-row last-request meal, here. It's that good.

Monday, August 21, 2006

...a friend of my family died Sunday. She was a salty, lonesome sad person, but one I liked very much for her determination to live life on her own terms. My folks were probably the only genuine friends she ever had. She was roughly late 60s , early 70s, not old, but was a heavy drinker in years past, and a lifetime chain smoker, and those habits coupled with poor diet are what I am sure were the cause of her early demise. She looked much older than she should have. Apparently one of her kidneys stopped functioning some time ago and was absorbed into her body, leaving no evidence it ever had been there.

She never married, never had children, and I don't know of her ever having had a romantic relationship. She was like a 70 year old tomboy, tougher than a pine knot and a formidable foe, if the situation demanded. I think her father was violent and abusive, and that she never recovered from the cruelty of that meanness. She insulated herself from people by keeping her distance with a ready arsenal of the quills that are the stock in trade of emotional porcupines the world over.

She would come to my dad's shop and sit around for hours and talk to dad or folks who came in for car repair. Sometimes I'd call dad there and she'd answer the phone. I know she used to be a pilot, possibly a stunt pilot. She was a hard person to know, perhaps because she learned being vulnerable to other people was a dangerous thing to do. I'm just glad that at the end of the day she had in my parents and particularly my dad, a friend who was loving and supportive rather than dealing out judgment - someone to take her at face value and simply respect her as a human being, expecting nothing in return.

I find myself wishing I had taken more time to get to know her, to find out what exactly she did with airplanes-- just to know what she did in all the stages of her life. I know she struggled, but I think hearing about her journey would have been very interesting. I'm sad for her isolation, for her aloneness, but I'm glad that I had a chance to know her at least a little. Like I said, I have a great admiration for the people who set out in a new direction and blaze their own trail.

There won't be a funeral service for her. Her body won't be buried because she donated it to a local medical research facility. No family would come and the only friends being my folks, my siblings and me, there won't be a funeral. Mom suggested we could get together for dinner and just remember her that way. I think that's a lovely idea.

So, in some small way, this is my tribute to her, with respect, admiration, and yes, a little sadness for the pain life afforded her. God bless Rita Tittle.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Today a colleague and friend of husband's is coming for lunch and swimming with his wife and four sons. I'm not really looking forward to this event, but I'll suck it up and deal.

They invited us to church with them, oh, hell, must have been about 10 years ago, or 11. They go to a non-denominational church that's a wee bit on the puritanical side. The women wear a doily over their heads during church service. They didn't inform us of that in advance though (good thing) so I wasn't sporting crochet that day. We didn't go back, either.

Anyway, the wife used to work with husband and her man, but when they started having children, she became a stay at home mom and now home schools their boys. I'm not critical of home schooling - I completely understand that impulse - but I think women with that many children who home school should get paid vacations and shit. I mean, how exhausting - to never get a break!

Recently their old work group gathered (they do this every 6 months or so) and I asked husband if the wife was there, and he said her husband said "oh, well, if she came, all the boys would come, and then lunch would cost me $60." Mind, he just got a new motorcycle, and that's not frivolous, but giving the wife a lunch break out with the old colleagues is too much of a splurge. I just wonder if she ever gets any time to herself? It seems like slave labor, the brood-mare thing, and this kind of stuff makes me think of that woman in Houston who killed her 5 kids. Pathetic.

A couple years ago she hosted a candle party - I hadn't seen her in about a decade - and I thought I'd be a good sport and go. At some point I was in a group (that included her) having a conversation about their sworn duty to submit to their husband and never question his decisions. I said that should be granted only to a man who has an acute degree of common sense and sensitivity, otherwise, fine, burn me at the stake, baby. Needless to say, they were gobsmacked that I would say something so incredibly-- what?-- sinful, I suppose.

I could not get out of there fast enough. Anyway, They are coming. Pray for me.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ok, still suffering a teeny bit of difficulty with adjusting to the mac. Or rather, it's having difficulty adjusting to me. Fear not, for my will will out. Hell be damned.

Anyway, dipping my toe in the pool of photography is quite a hoot, actually. I'm sure my fairy light embroidery on this is something millions of people have done and have done a better job, but I had a blast playing with black and white and long exposure tonight.

Niece and nephew were over for the night and we had pool hijinks aplenty until about 10pm. They are the sweetest little things. I can't imagine loving a child more than I do them.

We went to WalMart and bought some little water craft that run on 8 D cell batteries and squirt water out the handlebars, and they had a field day. Maybe tomorrow night I'll post one of those photos, which were long exposure and color. The pool came out to an almost eerie white, and they seem suspended in mist. Coolness.

The camera is one of the best things I've ever bought. I can't wait to figure out how to really use it, and to that end, I'm having a blast. I'm also loving the opportunity to photograph things and places I've always loved about Dallas for the Diorama.

Have a groovy weekend, you sexy people!

Friday, August 18, 2006

I delight in saying things that are slightly outrageous. I sit back and watch people sputter as they sorta realize what obnoxious thing I just said. It's not often someone turns that around on me.

I was talking to someone yesterday who showed me photos of his children and asked if I had any kids (he's divorced). I said no, that we tried for 6 or 7 years to have children with no success, and finally went to a fertility specialist who did every conceivable (ha!) test and finally told us there was nothing wrong with either of us and no explanation for the lack of offspring.

[what I didn't go on to say was the next step with the specialists would have been fertility treatments for moi, and since I wanted one baby and not a litter, I said ixnay on that shit. my general rule is it's not good to have more at one time than you have nipples for, so I'd have to draw the line at 3, and it would make me sad to shove the extras out of the nest]

He said "well, ya know, if you need someone to step in, well, I'm available. You have really pretty eyes."

My mouth fell open. He said "you're blushing. I guess that's a yes."

You know me, not to be outdone, I said "well, you DO have very pretty children."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I went to an event on Tuesday and met a man who grew up in Dallas and he told me something incredibly funny.

In the 1960s he was in his early teens and his mother made him go to their church in east Dallas every Saturday to help one of the older men to do the lawn and tidy the place up for services the next morning. The end part of their ritual always involved a drive downtown to the post office between St. Paul and Ervay streets to mail the church bulletins out to the flock.

Then the man would continue on down Ervay all the way to the Uptown Motel - the scrubby little place I told you about(where Aaron Spelling was born), where apparently the rooms were permanently booked by prostitutes. They pulled into the motor court and all the ladies came out running saying "Hi, Sugar!" and the like. Of course, with boy in tow, he wasn't there on official business, just dropping by to be neighborly and say hello.

The man told him that he saw the news on TV that JFK had been killed while sitting in a bed in that motel, and that two days later, he was sitting in the same bed when he saw news that Lee Harvey had been killed.

I said "what are the odds?"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This image will be going up on Dallas Diorama soon, but I wanted to go ahead and post it here while blogger is still cooperating with the photo thingie.

This is the South (Downtown-facing) facade of the American Airlines Center. When I took this photo Tuesday afternoon, the posh new W Hotel was directly behind my back.

The 8 or so screens you see being tested are just the first of dozens of giant video panels that will be going up here. As I've driven by recently, I've been riveted by these giant blocks of color, with blips of wrong color in the middle of the fields. Every day each panel is getting more accurate, and I drove by again later and a man was on a crane with a big panel opened in one of the screens, presumably correcting the connection.

The tilted facades will be entirely covered in these panels, so this will be Bladerunner world through here. Coolness.

Monday I was heading downtown to buy some fabulous variegated zinnias I saw at the Farmer's Market, and out of the blue it occurred to me I could go to the community college campus downtown to sign up for an art course I need to take so I could have access to an incredible gazillion dollar lab on that campus. Little did I know I was in for a serious ordeal, because other than my driver's license and the usual crap one has in one's wallet, I didn't think to bring a copy of a bill from 2 years ago at the current address to prove I'd been living in the county these past two years.

Well, 20 years, come to think of it. Bitches. After the round-robin of lines, someone finally told me they needed proof of residency. I find that staggering, considering they take a walloping chunk of my Dallas County tax dollars annually, and still the burden of proof is on me?

Of course, this all brought me 'round to a new universal truth I just noticed - under pain of death, avoid dealing with bureaucratic bullshit whilst PMSing. ROWR!

The one bright spot in this ordeal was when I met a lady working in the counselor's office who was an absolute delight. I would put her at late 60s, and she seemed like she'd look quite at home with a cigarette and a beer. She reminded me very much of my opera voice teacher Pattye Johnstone, who died in 1999. Pattye was a salty old gal, and although she could be a trial in the studio, she was a one-in-a-million and had an incredible ear for a fine voice. I'll talk about her at length someday, but for now, it was a wonderful surprise to meet someone who seemed like she might have been her sister.

When I finally got out of the place, I was sweating profusely and too damned steamed to think of gardening, so I headed for home. Almost all the way home, my ire had cooled sufficiently that I decided to pick up a few plants, after all, so I went to Lowe's. I got a few incredible plants and this put me right into a much better mood.

Photos here are before and after. Yes, lots of weeding was done and the one on top is the after, but it doesn't look like I did as much as I perceive I did. Trust me - it was grueling and my ancient carcass was sore from it Tuesday. I got all sweaty and disgusting and covered in muck and oomska, then walked into the pool, flip-flops and all. You'd think it would be more cooling, but the pool water was 90 degrees, so it just felt good when I got out and a breeze cooled off my wet clothing. Then I'd weed, mulch and plant some more until I couldn't stand it, and got in the pool again. It's amazing how therapeutic gardening can be, but I confess it's much less tiring when you have a pool.

Now (Monday night) I can't even manage to work up a head of steam on my pissed-off drive. Here I was thinking I'd be cussing a blue streak in this post.

Anyway, still figuring out the Mac - ness, hence this post will be for Wednesday rather than Tuesday. I'm having to diddle my 4.M photos down to a manageable size on the computer at work. One of these days, I'll be doing amazing things with the photo editor program, but it's looking more and more like I'm going to have to break down and read the instructions on the editor.

Husband says that I'm so naturally good at so many things that I have no patience when I actually have to learn something from square one.
Whatever. I just think computer systems should make sense. If this machine is so brilliant, I shouldn't have to work so hard!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I don't remember exactly how it went, but there used to be a joke that asked what Thom McAn and the US Postal Service had in common, and the answer was thousands of loafers.

There was a nasty rumor (which was confirmed for me later when one of the parties told me the story) about a terrible but funny mishap involving one portly couple who were both employed at the Dallas BMC.

He was a great wit, actually, as I got to know him when we worked in the same area some years after this story took place. By the time I met him, he'd divorced his wife, carried on rearing their son, and she'd picked up a hitchhiker whom she married. Later S would tell me that he searched and searched until he found a woman with absolutely no redeeming qualities, and married her.

Anyway, the story was there was an orphaned kitten was hanging around the parking lot for days and days, and people would toss it little bits of food as they went to/from their cars at shift change.

S & his wife took pity upon the poor little thing and took it home. Mr. and Mrs. S were both apparently quite the rotund pair at the time, and, unwisely, allowed the kitten to sleep with them that evening.

Alas, they awakened to find sometime in the night the kitten had suffocated under their combined girth.

What amazes me about this story is merely the fact that they breathed a word of the sad outcome to anyone. I mean, think about what a struggle a suffocating animal would put up, and consider how much pudge you'd have to be sporting to not notice an animal beneath your dunlap in the throes of a mortal struggle.

Anyway, you know how exciteable I am and how I am bad to overshare, but hell, that's one I'd take to the grave with me. Oh, and a loose-lipped spouse would be justifiably relieved of the burden of his entrails for blabbing. But that's just me.

Monday, August 14, 2006

In case you haven't heard about this story , this is some of the strangest news I've heard lately.
Right now in Fort Worth a Reverend Terry Hornbuckle is on trial for drugging and raping three women, two of whom were attendees at the church he founded.
Apparently, Hornbuckle is acquainted with one or two former Dallas Cowboys pro football players, and ingratiated himself to women by claiming to have been a counselor for the team.
You've just got to wonder about people. TH told Kate Jones (pseudonym) that he was brought to her to help her overcome her trust issues with men. They proceeded to smoke meth together from a crack pipe, after which he "drugged" her with a glass of water which caused her to pass out. When she awoke, she observed herself to be nude and surmised she had been interfered with sexually.

Um, excuse me, but if she willingly smoked meth with the guy, didn't she sorta drug herself? Was this her first experience with meth? Did he bring the meth and pipe, or did she produce them from her own stash? The article didn't say... I would just guess that she had enough experience with meth to know it wouldn't have caused her to pass out.

I'm not saying he's not a bastard and not a rapist. She said in the trial she didn't go forward with charges because she felt the drug use would invalidate her claim of rape, rightly so. I wonder what Maypole of illogic one has to dance around to convince themselves an ordained minister who smokes methamphetamine with them is in some way acting as an agent of God? How did things even come to that pass, to a moment in which she's lighting up with this man of the cloth? And how do people live with themselves while using a group of vulnerable people as their personal harem?

Stories like this make me wonder how the pillory ever fell into disuse.

In other astonishing news, Dallas City Council is about to enact a fake firearms ban which will ban all toy firearms in the city, because they may appear to be real weapons. Keep in mind no one has been shot by Dallas Police because of a fake firearm or a lifelike toy.
Besides, if someone is crazy/stupid enough to be waving a fake gun at the police, I'm kind of ok with the Police shooting them. Call it Darwinism and a win/win equation for the human race.
Another image that springs to mind here is a scene from a Woody Allen movie in which he carves a gun out of soap, paints it black with shoe polish, and then uses said gun to try to escape from prison. Maybe the Dallas City Council, who clearly don't have enough to do, should ban soap and shoe polish, while they are at it.

Oh, and finally, the UK tabloid The Sun is reporting that terrorists arrested in the recent airline bomb plot have included mothers of young infants who were to smuggle explosive materials and bomb components onto planes in their infants' swaddling and food/drink. I think it is perfectly understandable why a woman trapped in a cult like that would blow her baby up rather than allowing it to grow up and live under such a tyrannical belief system. Medea, indeed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

There's an odd man who is a friend of my family. Ok, so there are a lot of odd folk who are friends of my family.

This one in particular is from Illinois and is a remarkable guitar player. I suspect he's hypomanic (like your humble narrator) and is a gabby, eccentric musical genius - his skills with the guitar are no less than astonishing.

Still, he's so spazzy and erratic that although he is obviously incredibly talented and intelligent, he can be difficult to take seriously. Odd parlor trick - name any book of the bible, any verse, and he can quote it verbatim, by memory. Random verses - so and so begat so and so... Not just the Lord's prayer and stuff everyone knows. It's amazing.

He claims he wrote a major country music hit of the 70s for whom someone else claimed credit, and also that a primary character from the novel "The Outsiders" was based on him. A bit of a stretch, perhaps?

Perhaps not. At my parents' house for dinner tonight, we talked about him. My brother said "He could really have a major career if he'd just shut up and play, but he can't shut up." (reminds me of someone)

Dad said maybe his issues have something to do with his mother cutting his face up with a beer bottle.
I think at that moment we all considered how incongruous it is for one of the most gifted musicians you've ever heard being forever thwarted by what can only have been a staggering degree of cruelty. (His mother cut off the tip of his nose and slashed his throat from ear to ear with a broken beer bottle - I think he was 8 or 9 at the time). I know he has struggled with demons of his own, probably many of them trifling directly with his sense of self-worth, and that he hasn't always won the fight, but I think he strives to be a good person and to overcome the worst of his nature.

Couple the physical damage with a mien of the true eccentric, and you have a person who might be unsettling to some, but who is infinitely interesting. I think no degree of success would fix what wrong life has wrought for him personally, and perhaps he knows that with success come the chains that wring every last bit of self out of an artist. Perhaps surviving as he does while playing the beer leagues is his own brand of heaven on earth.

I hope so. I like him and I think he deserves to be happy, and music is definitely too important an art to be left to the "professionals."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Niece and nephew spent the night Friday night, hence the late post yet for Saturday. They are delightful but draining creatures.

I had a pretty placid b-tribe cd in the hopper as we drove away, and having just kissed his mama and daddy goodbye, I could see nephew's chin quiver as he said "this music makes me sad," when in truth, he was missing them already. So I pulled over and popped in a Gorillaz cd, his favorite. I opened the sunroof and the kids watched planes and building clouds as we traversed Dallas county. It was about as enjoyable a rush hour as you can have on a Friday afternoon, laughing all the way.

I picked them up about 4:15, and then we went to the shoe store to get the 3 year old boy some shoes that light up (I got shoes for niecey last time she was over alone) and then we went to a burger place where husband joined us. Niece shows remarkable promise for the game Galaga, which makes her old auntie proud. Then we hit the snowcone stand and went home and ate snowcones in the pool.

We were in the pool from about 6:30 until 9:00. They ate lots of popsicles, and I got hiccups. Nephew said those weren't real hiccups, that they were too silly. He said "I'll show you some real hiccups." He reminds me of myself.

I watched Power Puff girls with them, and niece drifted off about 10:45, but nephew had real staying power. About 11:30, I fetched husband, who was setting up my new mac (on which I'm typing this) to watch nephew. I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.

I dreamt I was in Manhattan at a posh restaurant which was part of a rocket that was going into space. That's the only semi-normal part I can tell you of it.

Anyway, they are just the best, most delightful kids. But they always are when they're not your own, right? It's funny the difference in energy level between yourself and people who are 31 and 37 years younger. *L*

I'm digging the MAC. WOO HOO!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

OH, I learned something about a bizarre little bit of Dallas history on Tuesday and I'm taking my camera with me today so I can share a photo of it with you when I do Friday's blog post. Seriously. I can hardly stand waiting to tell you. I'm near bursting. It's a gloriously tacky beginning to the consumate American rags-to-riches tale. And it's all true! Watch this space.
WTF is up with the photo thing in blogger? Grrrr.

Ok, now I MUST talk about Project Runway. OMG, what planet has Bradley been living on? I know she's out there, but even from the outer reaches of the galaxy, Cher in her signature Bob Mackie extravaganzas is readily visible. How could he not know who she is?

Has he lived his entire life not knowing the song "Half-breed?" Surely not, surely he was faking that.

There is simply no excuse for the top he made for Cher that most closely resembled a disposable foil roasting bag, flapping in the wind. And those ill-fitting white with fringe down the front camel-toe britches were a travesty, really. Frankly, he needs to avoid making trousers, generally. That's two disastrous pair of pants he made two weeks in a row. Finally they did the right thing and sent him home.

He seems like a nice guy, but he just didn't have a design aesthetic, period. That, coupled with the fact that he didn't know who Cher was, is practically the kiss of death. Go home, throw on a Phish cd, and get out your favorite bong, Bradley, and just unwind. You're too sweet for the fashion world, anyhoo.

We recommend you next launch a nice line of hemp garments dyed with beets and the powdery pollen from flowers.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

OK, this is for YOU, lj - here's an explanation of what's on that audio post.

When I was at university, I was forced to take a computer class as part of my degree plan. This was a very basic "what's a CPU?" kind of course, which I had been way beyond for years.

The teacher was a middleaged cornball who was kind of adorable. In his northeastern accent he said things like "you'll want to bring your swimsuit to class because you will be surfing the information superhighway," and "by the end of the semester, you will be able to send and receive email."

I was bored and skipped a lot of classes and missed most of the pop quizzes which were a third of the grade. At semester's end, I calculated that in order to scrape by passing the class with a D, I needed to make a 100 on the final exam. Not 99 - 100. Eek.

So, day of the final exam, I whiz through the first 2 pages, relieved I know everything so far, when there's a rumble in the middle of the class (about 300-350 students.) I go on with my work, by the professor goes up to the middle area to talk with one of his teaching assistants and a student.

Suddenly he says to the group "who in here doesn't have pages 3 & 4 in their exam?). I had them, but about a third of the class raised their hands, indicating they didn't have the middle bit of the test.
He told us to turn in our tests, that everybody was getting a 100.
Whew. Off the hook!
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I took this photograph downtown this weekend. This has always fascinated me, and later on Dallas Diorama, I'll post more photos of this parking lot. It's at the corner of Main and Harwood Streets downtown, and is a mere block East of the Municipal building which was the Dallas Police Station until about 3 years ago.

This was apparently a store somewhere along the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries in Dallas. This former indoor floor is composed of white, gray and charcoal colored square tiles, which seem to be cement tiles, rather than a porcelain or terra cotta. Their finish is quite matte. The entire floor is bordered by the Greek Key motif you see at the foreground of the tiled surface.

Of course, it's a pity that the building containing this floor was razed lo these many decades ago (before I was born, most likely), but I love the fact that the floor remains, even though little bits have flaked away and depressed areas have been leveled with paving materials. It's one of those little poignant reminders that we're all just passing through.

Oddly enough, this very lot has had a little bit of history pass by its threshhold. If you can see the word "lift" in the upper right corner of the photo, here across the street is where until recently a WesternUnion office stood for many decades. It was in that very office that Jack Ruby went to wire cash to a down-on-her-luck stripper in Oklahoma (she had formerly worked in one of his strip joints in Dallas), immediately prior to going over to the police station to kill Lee Harvey Oswald.

I wonder if Jack Ruby parked at one of those parking meters? Or maybe on this very lot.? Somehow, it seems incredibly callous and anticlimactic that these tiles are spray painted with parking space numbers. 122, 123, 124. The timeless march of repurposing.

...There is a light at the end of the tunnel for my computer woes. I have ordered a MAC and expect it to arrive by the end of the week. Glory glory to the day of my deliverance!

Then I should be able to be a better correspondence, as well as being more diligent in my rounds to drop off my grapeshot of pithy comments. Ciao!

Monday, August 07, 2006

I was talking to my brother tonight and I said if it's not observed when the prisoners in question are captured American military, then we should take the Geneva Convention and throw it out the window.
He said "The rules of war? That's stupid. It's kind of like fornicating for chastity."


It got windier than a bag of buttholes in Dallas today, and next thing ya know, it's raining. It was a grand thing, and me caught out without my camera, alas!

Cross-purpose eddies of dead leaves swirled in the streets. The rain was beautiful, and much needed.

A lady swerved her car over into my lane and nearly hit LouLou the baby shoe. I laid into my horn and honked a good successive 5 seconds, none of which the old heifer appeared to have heard. All I know is my Asian SUV is about to get an all-American make-over.

As soon as I got out of traffic, I dialed my dad and told him my horn isn't cutting the mustard. I told him when I hit the horn, I want the person I'm honking at to pee their pants. Dad said to bring 'er in and he'll fix her up. Yee haw! I'll give a full report, of course.
Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I took the doglet this afternoon and headed to downtown Dallas where I drove around a bit and got some spectacular photos, many of which will be appearing on my alternate blog, Dallas Diorama.

The photo at right was taken at Field and Commerce streets, looking up the eastbound one-way Commerce which is really the southern boundary of skyscrapers downtown. The red brick building is the Magnolia Oil building. Magnolia Oil was headquartered in Dallas until they merged with Vacuum and Socony Oil Companies and became Mobil Oil.

Thus, this impressive all-original 1920s structure is in effect the corporate beginnings of Mobil Oil. Atop the roof you can just make out the red Pegasus which is the symbol of Mobil and became by extension a symbol of Dallas. This sign is extraordinary, and I think it's about 40 feet tall, and can be seen for miles at night, as it is illuminated with red neon. coolness.

I've been updating and adding pictures of great neon over at Dallas Diorama the past few days, so check it out. I'm looking forward to posting the great stuff I photographed today, some of it related to the JFK thingie.

After piddling around town with the camera, I headed the buggy over to one of the area dog parks so doglet could get her social game on. There were about 8 other Jack Russell Terriers at the dp, and first time there ever, as soon as she came through the gate, a much smaller JRT bitch came up and yapped excitedly for about 2 minutes nonstop. Welcoming committee. Then another little female came over and just flopped on her back in front of doglet. They know the queen bee when they see her, apparently.

Doglet would mosey all over the place while I sat and chatted with other dog owner/victims. The news of the day was about the 270 dogs rescued from a rural home recently, more than half of them being JRTs. Heaven help me to have the strength to resist rescuing a dog. Doglet wouldn't be pleased to share our affections, I suspect.

Anyway, it was a grand day out. Enjoy the remains of the weekend.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This image is El Rancho motor court motel in Hot Springs Arkansas. You have to go long exposure to get these neon signs with no flash, of course, so the white smear in the bottom left is an auto headlamp streaking past. I need to get a photo of this building in daylight, because it's very mid-century modern, pretty swanky for that moment in time.

I am SOOOOO glad it's the weekend at last. This flu stuff is still sorta kicking my butt, but at least I can have a 24 hour period where I don't have to be anywhere, and I won't get any calls from my problem children. I can think of several (I call them) special needs residents who are in dire need of a serious spanking, which I'll happily provide, gratis. I'm just generous that way. I call it a kindness that I don't want to beat the ever-loving crap out of them.

OOOOHHHH, yummy products on the market. Tyler Candle Company, from Tyler, Texas has the most incredible line of candles. They have one called "Cowboy" which honest-to-goodness smells like yummy new leather, and maybe a bit of sage thrown in. It does smell like a fine boot store or something. Great stuff. Trust me. I'm an expert. These are some of the best candles on the market. 'Specially "Cowboy" and "Texan" (vetiver - yum) flavors. I'm hoping they'll do a Taos/Santa Fe version with Sage, Pinon and Cedar. That would be heaven.

Have a great weekend. Oh, and coming soon will be pictures of the big fake cow at the Longhorn Ballroom where the Sex Pistols played all those moons ago. Great concert venue, that.
Click here to read how a school in Texas is banning cleavage. I'm ok with that, but while they are at it, I just hope they address the pandemic of ass cleavage. Perhaps Whitney Houston said it best when she said "crack is whack!"


I'm sick of butt cleavage. It's everywhere, and on some rather ugly bodies, in a lot of cases.

And time for an end to "muffin top." That's when your body that would have fit in your too-low, too-tight jeans comes bubbling up over the top and sits there just bulging, flapping in the wind. I've got to say that this is a dark, dark moment in some ways, fashion wise.

For all the repugnance of the styles of the 80s were, at least proper grooming and presentation was a concept. Now, no matter how beastly it looks, young to middle-aged women are doing the muffin top/ass cleavage thing like it's a desireable look for everywhere: Family reunions, funerals, fine restaurants, the grocery store.

Friday, August 04, 2006

So, I'm still sick and even then I can rely on the likes of nein to wax critical when in a fevered haze I leave a letter or two out of words on a post. All this after nein has enjoyed mining the fertile fields of my demented blog, that fair-weather sampler. Tsk tsk.

Yes, Kelly won. I realized that you might have gotten the impression that everyone in my family is all sweetness and light, so I had to gently introduce the fact that there are some neer-do-wells in the bunch, too. Actually, I have a pretty straight-and-narrow side of the family (paternal) and then there's the wily bunch of criminal hillbilly carpetbaggers on the maternal side, and more than one career criminal in that lot, including the one in prison with that famous Scientologist, Charles Manson. I know. Now, having read my blog, you have rubbed shoulders with greatness, by extension. No need to thank me.

Now Dick, you've got to give Kelly the wet sloppy kisses, k? She already had my great admiration, but now it's just cemented. I love the way you sorta backed into that one, Kelly, thinking it couldn't possibly be right. I just celebrate that there ape-shit galloping lunatics out there who are Scientologists, just to put everything into proper perspective. Well, Travolta and Cruise are obviously apeshit, but then the Manson thing cements that deal. woo hoo.

I saw a license plate going up the Dallas North Tollway today that said ARKITK. I wondered if it was some screwed up way of spelling "Arctic," like maybe they went exploring in their spare time. Oh, and it was on a brand new Corvette. Red.

THEN it dawned on me: Architect. I would think the very exacting nature - that the sense of proper structure of an architect would be outraged by this dumbed-down carbonics version of the name of their esteemed profession.

I don't think I ever will, but if I were considering getting customized license plates, I'd probably get something like CRASS or the name of that incredible band, the CRAMPS. Think the DMV would go for it? I didn't think so, either.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

meh. sick.
I have the flu. Aching joints, sinuses stuffed to bursting and a bastard of a headache behind the eyes. As Withnail said so daintily, "I feel like a pig shat in my head."

5 people in Dallas have died of West Nile Virus. I hope I don't have that shit. I think I'm too full of spleen for such a pathogen to really get a grip - there's only so much room in here.

I'm glad that bitch Keith got booted off Project Runway for cheating. I knew it would be him - he was the only one arrogant enough to flaunt the rules so brazenly. And it wasn't the only questionable thing he'd done in just this one episode.

Anyhoo, since I'm not up to a marathon typing session, I thought I'd give you a quiz.

One of my maternal cousins lives in the same building with one of the world's most famous Scientologists. Can you guess which one?

Big sloppy kisses and my eternal admiration to the winner.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Do you ever glance at something - newsprint, a sign, etc., - and mis-read what is there? This happened to me in Arkansas this weekend.

Driving through Harrison, I glanced at a billboard that said "Meth Makeover" and showed mug-shots of a homely, barfly-type woman in a photo on the left, nothing remarkable, and in the photo to the right was the same woman a year or so later, sunken-cheeked (having lost all her teeth), looking like she should be stirring a cauldron in a swamp somewhere.

(This is not the same sign, but it was very much of the same ilk - I would guess this sign is somewhere in Washington or the Pacific NW area, and I found it on the site over here.)

The point of this ad campaign obviously was that if you dabble with meth, you'll get an extreme makeover that will render you an aged, haggard old crone.

But that's not what I saw. I wondered why the makeover photos were out of order. At first glance what I thought was being advertised was some sort of plastic surgery/makeover clinic where they'd redo your puss after you jellied it up with face-melting hallucinogens.

Well, it is understandable I'd glance and think that, seeing as our culture is all about the quick-fix for problems. There are countless publications and tv shows dedicated to just that subject: the miraculous repair that will fix the whole life and undo the ravages of poor choices, etc. I think what would be tragically telling would be if those shows revisit their ugly ducklings to see if the physical repair did in fact bring along some better choices and a dollop of less hard-luck in its wake... But I seriously doubt there was significant change in the fortunes of most of those made over people.

Anyway. More importantly - great story from my childhood.

High Midnight
Along about the mid-70s, we lived in a town across the Mississippi River from Memphis and across the street from our house was a city park with a pavilion and picnic tables.

Now keep in mind that my family is very clean-cut with no drinking and very few smokers among us. Mom and dad have never drunk socially, though they did concede to taste the champagne (rotten grapes to them!) at my wedding. At 13, I got my mouth washed out with soap for saying the word "butthole" in front of my 4 year old sister, who was delighted to repeat it. (thanks, sis!) In other words, my parents have never been the sort to abide anything with the appearance of impropriety, and be assured they would not sit idly by while nefarious goings-on are conducted in their neighborhood.

A group of teenagers and young adults from the area started convening at the pavilion in the park after dark on summer evenings. Soon after they'd arrive, a sweet cloud of pot smoke would drift the 50 or so yards over to our front door.

Then on the 4th of July these kids and one 35 or 40 year old guy were smoking pot under the pavilion, and firing off bottle rockets that were landing on the houses all along the street, including ours. Big mistake. Dad told them to clear out, and they proceeded to foolishly ignore this.

Dad then took a high-pressure sprayer with trigger-control and got the water hose of a neighbor a few houses down and connected it to our hose, turning it on full-blast. Dragging the hoses along behind him, Dad calmly strode across the street, up to the pavilion, took aim and opened fire, thoroughly dousing the potheads and their little fireworks, too.

Dad said the older guy was apologizing profusely as they cleared out, because I suspect these people were about to pee themselves thinking Dad was really about to drop a knot on each of their heads. He would have, too.

Every neighborhood should be lucky enough to have such a badass Charles-Bronson/no-BS type resident.
Yup. That's my Dad!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fantastic bowling neon sign from Hot Springs Arkansas. This sign cycles three phases - first is just the red neon "Bowling", second is just the white pin and ball, and the third is both of those lit along with "Snack Bar" in white on the bottom. The cycle flashes back and forth for in about a 10 second series. I love neons like this. This is a super-cool art form. Beautiful.

One popular sport in the country has always been coon hunting. Raccoons are plentiful, destructive and a nuisance in general, so it makes good sport to go out and give the dogs a thrill by rustling some up and letting the dogs go in for the kill.

Grandpa bred blue-tick coon dogs and won lots of trophies. These dogs were brought from several regions of France in pre-colonial era, and in the early 20th century breeders would travel to the Ozarks and remote areas of Louisiana to buy coon hunting dogs of the most pure bloodline from the original Gascogne. They were grandpa's abiding passion and he devoted countless hours to breeding and training these ultimate hunting machines. Intrepid scenthounds, even blind blueticks make masterful tracker/hunters suffering no deficit in competition with sighted dogs.

These dogs are beautiful animals with a deep baleful howl that must be terrifying to raccoons. To me their bark is by association the right sound to hear reporting through the hallowed columns of the forest on cold dark nights. Grandpa also had several redbone hounds which were larger, and truly magnificent dogs, but the blueticks were his specialization.

Invariably sleeping on the sofa at Grandma and Grandpa's, I remember staring out sleepily from under my quilts as dad and Grandpa made ready to go out hunting in the middle of winter nights. They'd be pulling on hunting boots and attaching the wires on the carbide lamps they wore on their hats, attached to wet-cell batteries worn on their belts. Grandpa always had the wet-cells in plastic Ideal brand bread sacks, which grandma never threw away, along with twist-ties. I remember the smell of those lamps too, the vaguely sulphuric tang of the odor that wasn't unpleasant to me.

Anyway, he told a story that painted such a vivid picture that I wish I had a photograph of the scene he witnessed.

Out with the dogs one winter night, the air was incredibly still, and the trees and the dead grasses were all encrusted in a thick layer of ice. He said the moon was so bright you could almost read a newspaper by it, and it illuminated a scene of enchantment in the cold silence of the night forest.

The dogs had treed coon after coon that night, and in his words, "I decided to honor the dogs by letting them catch this coon." The coon was treed, the dogs howling at it, and Grandpa pulled out his hand axe and set about felling the tree.

My dad said once that Grandpa was so remarkably efficient at felling trees that there was no wasted motion and you'd best stand back, because the wood chips would be flying.

Anyway, down came the tree and the coon was on the ground and was off, dogs in hot pursuit. As they progressed through the woods-- coon, dogs and man-- all the frozen grasses in their path shattered sending diamond fragments up into a glimmering shower in the still night air.

He said it was one of the most beautiful visions of his life. I can well imagine it's precisely this sort of moment that a sportsman lives for. Who says men have no appreciation of aesthetics?