Saturday, March 31, 2007

My girlfriend drove a 2002 Mercedes SUV for a couple years. In addition to getting abysmal gas mileage, every time she took the thing in to the dealership to be serviced, the cost was never less than $500, whether anything had been malfunctioning or not.

One day she got to the dealership to drop it off late and all the Mercedes loaner cars had been issued, so they handed her the keys to a Toyota.

Big mistake.

She found she was driving a vehicle notorious for its dependability and hassle-free low-maintenance which cost half the price of her Mercedes and wouldn't be so much like a temperamental Teutonic filly. She sold her Mercedes and is now on to driving her second Prius, for which she has nothing but praise.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I was piddling around with my camera on Thursday, taking pictures of flowers, when I saw this pretty little pair of birds. I don't know what type of finch this is, but they were a dandy little pair. I think the female has a bit of fuzz in her beak for nest-building, but I'm guessing. Maybe she felt like wearing a fancy hat that day.

And speaking of personal adornment, can we talk about the grooming of the male of our species?
OK, if men insist on imitating the grooming of women, then at least get it right, ok? I'm talking about the epidemic of young men who are over-plucking or over-waxing the eyebrow area.
Sanjaya on American Idleness is a prime example. Note the bold black furry caterpillars above his eyes. What in those dense forests of manhood could possibly indicate such an abrupt terminus between the brows, leaving a gap so wide one could dry-dock a 747 thereon? I think he's rapidly hurtling toward Xerxes territory, if you know what I mean. Anyway, the growth is so dense that to have such a clean field between the two brows looks utterly unnatural. Then again, if he looked like his natural mono-browed self, the little girls might be crying for another reason.
For all his onanistic prancing onstage, at least Constantine Maroulis didn't over-shoot the brow runway by a mile, and he was a hairy dude. Actually, his brows look nice and may actually be the one aspect of his physiognomy which wasn't over-thunk to a repellent degree.
Quite a few young men I'm seeing about town look like they've been tweezed into oblivion, and frankly, this disturbs me. By all means, mow the thatches of reeds that come bursting forth from ears and nostrils (heads-up, dentists!), and even trim or pluck the two-inchers that rear their heads from the field of the brow and flap boisterously in the wind. But try to look a little less girly. Really. I think I speak for all the gals when I say that you need to be gentlemen and step back and allow us to be the pretty ones.

OK, I posted this image over at Diorama today, but I liked this one enough to post it here, too. This pair of mallards has been hanging around my dirty pool, paddling about and generally keeping my little doglet all lathered up. This is one of the last in a series in which doglet goes all the way around the pool and tries to sneak up on the ducks, who were onto her all along.

I can't believe Chris Sligh fell off his game on American Idol the past couple weeks. He's technically such a good singer. Perhaps it's just too wearing for him to keep up the whole facade-- he's much more clever than the average bear. Wit is a rare commodity on that show. I also thought the guy who did the Cure song was way worse than Chris.

I also read in several places on the net that Gwen Stefani was incensed at the idea of Sanjaya singing a No Doubt song. I don't blame her-- he's the entertainment equivalent of a piece of burned toast sitting on a plate for a day, soggy. Ew. And all the while he looks so pleased with himself, too.

Lakisha and Melinda are great on that show, but they are starting to bore me, a little. Paula on Tuesday night? Yo, dawg-- that wasn't working for me. It was just okay.

Top Design is fairly exciting. I was pleased they sent that whiny boy home last week, but I was very sorry to see Goil go - he was so good-natured, and I liked his red hotel room. Carisa is a pain in the ass, but I think she does a good job and has a great design sensibility. WTF was up with Andrea's room this week? I thought they would send her home for sure. Oh well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

WARNING TO MY DAD: Please don't watch this video - I want you to have a happy life. Having seen it myself, my own life is tainted forever. It's not too late for you. Save yourself.

Some other folks have posted their "worst video ever" entries.

I don't know if I'd call The Stroke by Billy Squier the worst, but I will call it cringe-worthy, which, of course, sends me into transports of delight. Is it the way Billy sports his moose knuckle? Is it the skin-crawling lyrics? Is it the groin-centric photography? Maybe it's both three.

What's funny is that now I'm getting the urge to work up a karaoke version of this little gem. Look out, hapless bar patrons: The Stroke is coming to a venue near you. Run for your lives!

In the early 80s, Mom wouldn't allow me to have MTV. I looked up this video last weekend and I have to say that now, 25 years later, I realize she was protecting me. Thanks Mom.

In closing, I have to say in defense of Billy Squier, I love Everybody Wants You.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I've puzzled over this. My sister and I had lunch at Stoneleigh P's on Maple yesterday, and either we saw former soccer star Clive Owen, or his identical twin is in town. Oh, then my Eureka moment was this morning, when I remembered there's an international film festival happening in Dallas right now. I went to their site, just to take a peek, and no snaps of Mr. Owen were to be seen, but Bill Paxton is in town.

My favorite line from Aliens: "Game over! Game over!"
On contradictions, and other rabbit-chases...

OK. There's been a bee in my bonnet about this for a very long time.

I find it laughable that in (this is my own generous estimation) 4 centuries of fine-instrument-recorded global weather phenomena, people have extrapolated they know so much about our planet's internal thermostat that they can definitively state we are on an out-of-control trajectory toward being burned to a crisp.

My understanding was that the position of a "scientist" is to observe and not to be swayed by emotion, politics, or the hubris that is endemic in human nature. Yet we are told scientists are all agog over the havoc industrialization has wrought on our environment.

Well, I would say to you, if the earth is 5000 years old, as strict adherents to a biblical time-line claim, then yes, 400 years is long enough to detect a trend. However, if the earth is millions or billions of years old, then the millennia of modern bipedal humanoids are but a blip on the map and can't be considered substantial enough to indicate any type of trend. The fact is, before humans crawled from the primordial ooze, there was a cycle in which the whole of the planet was alternately covered in ice and sultry, rotten swampiness. These pre-human aeons of meteorological extremes can't be blamed on the use of fossil fuels or on Al Gore's monthly $30,000 electric bill in his Tennessee mansion. (By all means, stay comfortable, Al!)

I predict that in very short order, if we continue to use electricity the way we do today, all our electric bills will vastly outpace the cost of rents and/or mortgages.

What baffles me is that having been born in the 60s, solar energy collection for domestic use has been available my whole life, yet has not developed into more common usage. Oh, sure, we have light-powered calculators, but ask yourself why solar energy on larger scale has not been developed. I can tell you why, and you only have to look in your pocket or handbag for the answer: the cell phone industry is a great illustrator of a loss-leader. Cell phone companies give away what can be a very expensive little appliance, because the net gain with a one- or two-year contract with the user will reap many more thousands of dollars than the actual expense of the appliance. However, if you buy and maintain your own solar collection system which helps you to be off-the-grid in your home, the sale is a one-shot-deal for the manufacturer, and after that, you'll not be paying anyone for the countless thousands in electrical savings you'll reap by simply converting the brutal sun that will be hammering down on your property anyway. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that electrical companies have bought copyrights to any evolving solar technologies to keep the public dependent on using the energy they provide from lignite-coal-burning facilities. Remember, they want to keep the money rolling in, and we've hastened to accommodate them at every juncture.

I'm not saying everyone needs to rush out and convert their home systems, but I think we have to be smarter in the way we build homes, and in how we use electricity. The fact is we have to find some balance between the manifest-destiny-plunderer mentality and the lesbian-seagull-neo-hippie.

Just don't come between me and my hairdryer and my precious, precious deodorant.

Actually, we'll know it's the end of the world as we know it when we all start to smell like ourselves again. Perish the thought!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ladybugs' Picnic from early days of Sesame Street, courtesy of master animator Bud Luckey. Bud has worked on lots of brilliant animated projects you've probably seen, but my favorite work of his by far is the delightful Boundin' which was the opening animation for The Incredibles. Good stuff.

Here's another shot of the W Hotel taken the same night as the previous picture I showed a couple days ago. The camera was hand-held in this photo, too, but a bit more steady. The truth is, I like the look of the blue neon when it's blurry - I think it's prettier that way. In fact, I think few things we perceive as "pretty" in life will stand up to the harsh light of close inspection-- sometimes a little fuzzy mystery adds to the appeal. Think of it as facing life with a beer-goggles approach: better the nice idea than the bad reality. Just remember to keep those beer-googles well-primed.

I've been feeling guilty about my blog, lately, as I've not regaled you with some of the madcap stuff to which I am privy. I realize for too long I have deprived you of white trash tales of terror from distant relatives, so here goes with one particularly vivid story. I hope you will appreciate this, as it is absolutely true and not gleaned from a Jerry Springer episode.

My first cousin Jay married a vile creature named Charlene in the 70s. If I remember correctly, Charlene is one of about a dozen children born to a wily, strange pair of hicks who probably never had a full set of teeth between them. Charlene had no more joined our family than she was busy trying to pick fights with my grandmother. Classy.

Charlene is a harsh, strange little creature. Her hair is dark and hangs limp around her pale, pinched face. Her eyes have the pig-like effect of glossy black buttons punched into a potato. In my earliest memories, I recall her in the full bloom of pregancy, resplendent in a raspberry pair of bell-bottomed maternity pants, chain-smoking and berating my poor cousin Jay who seemed helpless to defend himself against her constant harangues. Now that's multi-tasking when you can chainsmoke, be a shrieking harpy and make a baby all at once. From their loins sprang 3 children who had the grave misfortune of taking after their mother.

Throughout the years, it was widely known in their small town that Charlene had affairs with local ne'er-do-wells. Eventually, word of this got around to Jay, who was very beaten-down by this entire situation. I suspect Jay never confronted Charlene.

About 5 years ago and after about 25 years of marriage, one of their children found a video tape in the VCR of Charlene engaging in amorous activities with a man who was not their father. Jay came home and they showed him the video, and he was devastated. Charlene came in later and he confronted her with the evidence. Like the brazen hussy she is, Charlene shrugged the video off by saying that video was very old, having been made a long time earlier(as if that made it ok).

Rather than wait for their father to respond, one of their children jumped into the fray and said "Nuh-unh, mom, you shot that with that tripod you bought last week! We didn't have a tripod before then." He also pointed out that the date was on the video tape.

So. Very. Busted.

Having been so crassly confronted by evidence of her faithlessness, Jay had no choice but to face facts and accept that his marriage was over.

Jay does very hard work in the outdoors, a physically grueling job, and his face is heartbreaking to behold, looking about 25 years older than he is. Lines of worry and care traverse his face like the crevices of a canyon, and he has the look of someone for whom nothing has ever gone quite right-- someone who has never once caught a lucky break. If Jad had a home where he was nurtured and supported instead of treated so badly, I think he wouldn't have been so careworn and beaten down by the world.

I wonder how he came to be susceptible to Charlene's reptilian charms, because his spirit seems one far too fragile to bear up under such abuse? My heart goes out to him, but you really can't fix a life gone wrong for someone else. Kinda funny, but very sad and very bizarre.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

W Hotel, Cirque, Victory Station

Well, my girlfriend had to cancel our karaoke date, so she asked me to come over to her house Friday night instead for a big poker game. I've played Texas Hold 'Em quite a bit online, but I've never played poker with live humans. Eek. Either I'll be amazing, or I'll be abysmal. I don't expect a middling performance from myself.

Now I'm reading Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry, sequel to Lonesome Dove. McMurtry writes so brilliantly about women that I suspect he's actually listened to a woman once or twice in his life.

I had lunch Thursday with a friend at a restaurant in the Trammell Crow Center downtown. Fancy place, that. Actually, I don't believe I've ever eaten a meal in a skyscraper, before. There's something odd about 40-odd stories of humans stacked on top of the floor you're in. The food was amazing, though, when I could stop thinking of all the humans I was holding up. Herculean burdens, and the women who wield them...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

OK. I haven't blurbed on my tv habit in yonks. Lately I've even been missing some favorite shows as my DVR has gone wrong, and I've been too busy to care.




Rome goes to 11 this week. It's got eleven. They changed the knobs out and now they can turn it up to 11. Holy crap!

I don't know why, Mark Antony was a better match for Atia than he is for Cleopatra. M.A. & Atia were equally solipsistic and diabolical, whereas Cleopatra is a drug-addled force of nature making the mere human M.A. seem out of his depth. And wow, what a pervy turkey Octavian has turned out to be. Who knew?

Anyway - love that one.

Top Design, anyone? Carisa annoys me a bit, but I think they manipulate the footage to make her seem like more of an ass than she is. I suspect she's no bitchier than anyone else on the show. Well, except maybe Goil. I love Goil - he's so cute. I think the guy they sent home this week - Michael - was far more annoying than Carisa.

American Idol, of course, sucked me in from the beginning by having a few genuinely talented people on the show. WTF is up with the soggy-toast under-energized Sanjaya? He gets up and sashays around the stage like he's rolling around a bag with a valium-drip. He's about 17 and seems positively geezer-like. I LOVE curly-top Chris Sligh - you can tell he's got an over-developed sense of irony and that he's not being taken in by it all. One of his friends in the audience held up a sign that read "bringing chubby back" and "fro patrol" which is an obvious dig at last season's winner who kept intoning "Soul Patrol!" in the little wrap-up interview with Ryan Seacrest after he performed each episode.

Anyway, in Tuesday night's episode, a pre-pubescent girl was crying as though she were witnessing the rebirth of the very Beatles or Elvis. She cried and cried and the camera kept showing her-- I predict she is now a social pariah at her middle-school. She's the Star Wars Kid of American Idol. She'll commit suicide. Her family will sue. It could be ugly.

I started watching 24 about 3 episodes into the season, and then my DVR started messing up a few weeks ago, so I'm back off it. Liked it, but don't know if I'll pick it up again. I'm planning to resist the new Bravo series about hairdressers - for some reason, that one is sounding resistible to me. Also, I'm not pleased by House being almost always pre-empted by American Idol shoving its fat ass into his time-slot. *Harumph*

On to movies...

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I loved 300 - fantastic movie. My favorite moment in the film is after the first battle scene, the Spartans are walking among the dying Persians and dispatching them to Valhalla or Big Rock Candy Mountain, or wherever dead Persians go, and Leonidas is standing by, eating an apple and talking to his Captain who is also going about the business of dealing the death blow to the enemy men. Someone runs up to tell that an emissary is approaching- that it is a group too small to be an attack party, and Leonidas keeps eating his apple, his men keep killing the dying Persians, and Leonidas says "there's no reason we shouldn't be civilized." It made me giggle.

A friend has invited me to a karaoke thing Thursday night. Just what I need. So now the dilemma: Do I sing You Ain't Woman Enough or (Hold Me Closer) Tony Danza? Do I channel one of the queens of country or a queen from the rock genre? Actually, my ultimate fantasy karaoke would be a lounge-version of Jethro Tull's Aqualung. My version would be oozing velveeta as I sang "Hey!" *wink* "Aqualuu-ung!"

I know: it'll never happen, but it could have been so nice!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I've always been musically-oriented, and I like feeling like I know what's around the next corner, music-wise. I've never been one to obsess over what's on the radio--too pedestrian-- but being a movie-buff has served my musical tastes well. One of the best ways to discover good music that is a little off the beaten path is the soundtrack compilation, particularly of more art-house cinema.

Here are a few of my favorite soundtracks, and why I like them, in no particular order.

Until the End Of The World
- Various artists - from the ubiquitous film by Wim Wenders
This was the sequel to Wings of Desire, but fell a little flat - the plot was convoluted and difficult to digest. Still, any Wim Wenders film is worth seeing once. Honorable mention to the soundtrack from Wings Of Desire, which is full of lovely, yearning cello, and the deliciously ghoulish Nick Cave. Ah, the perennial allure of the doom-crooner, extra-bad-boy of rock'n'roll who ties damsels to the railroad tracks.

Naked Lunch - Soundtrack by Fort Worth genius Ornette Coleman. Coleman's style is astonishing and can be incredibly demanding listening. However, this soundtrack--while noodle-some and all over the map in a good way-- contains some of his tightest and most compelling compositions, in my opinion. Love this one. It's very mood-inspiring in an ultra-hip, beatnik sort of way. Good poker background music, if you're playing with the hep set.

Romeo Is Bleeding - Mark Isham - Generally, I'm into about any soundtrack by Mark Isham - he sets mood brilliantly. This soundtrack also features the sublime "Bird Alone" by Abbey Lincoln, and a fantastic track by A.J. Croce, son of Jim Croce.

Stealing Beauty
- Various artists - one of the best soundtracks EVAH, baby. LOVE this. Run out and buy it. NOW. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Grab your bonnet, hop in the chariot and get this soundtrack. Standouts include Portishead, Mazzy Star (favorite!), Cocteau Twins, Bootsy Collins, Nina Simone, John Lee Hooker and lots of other yummy stuff. I was pleased the powers-that-be saw fit to leave the Hole track from the movie out of this compilation. This is my favorite whilst floating in the pool.

Of course, Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs get big points for delectable soundtracks which are a walk through odd pockets of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Any film by Michael Mann will have superb music, but in my opinion the ultimate soundtrack to his films has got to be Last Of The Mohicans - incredibly compelling and just plain old gorgeousness. His film Manhunter had a fantastic soundtrack that set the mood masterfully, but I don't think that soundtrack is even available any more, and the film was pretty obscure to begin with.

I love the jazz-baby era music which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. I'm sure that somewhere there's a compilation of great hits of that era, but I haven't really looked. I have found treasures of this era in the soundtracks for Bullets Over Broadway and also for Henry & June.
Tango, anyone?

Anyway - do you have a favorite soundtrack to recommend to me? There's room in my head for more good music.

OH- My sister reminded me - any soundtrack by Lisa Gerrard is worth checking out - we particularly recommend The Insider and Gladiator. Of course, you MUST love the soundtrack from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

OK, I'm just going to tell you right off the bat that this is going to be in poor taste. The place I'm going with this ain't pretty, so no whining - I won't allow it.

A post in which our heroine ponders a prickly etiquette question...

I went to the cinema to see 300 last week. Ticket in hand I walked up to the teenager taking the tickets. I held out the ticket, but I stopped short. He was wearing a polo shirt but from his left sleeve extended no arm. Now, the ticket takers generally tear off the stub, and I was surprised-- didn't mean to be rude. Instead of thrusting the ticket all the way at him, I stalled by asking him where the nearest bathroom was and then which side of the theater housed my movie selection. As I was asking those important questions, I was wondering "do I tear the stub for him? What???"

My uttered questions answered, it was time to see what would happen next. I held the ticket closer to him, and he grasped it (at this point I'm thinking Oh, I'll hold on tightly and let him rip it off) and then he grasped beyond the perforations and took the whole ticket. He deftly stuck the ticket into his armpit, where I suppose a partial arm of some sort was lying in wait. He zipped the ticket in two, handed me my stub back, and then took his end of the paper from his armpit and dropped it in the box.

I wondered if part of his schtick was freaking out ignorant people like myself. It's weird how even a generally unflappable person can be brought up short by something unexpected. Anyway, I wouldn't have offended him for the world, and I hate when I feel like I've acted like an uncool asshole, because it's so common, innit, what with jerks around ever corner? I mean, should it have to be his job to educate every moron he ever comes in contact with? How tiring that must be.

This is not really the same thing, and I know I've mentioned it before, but in Romeo Is Bleeding (a film noir which I loved, and critics soundly panned), Lena Olin is the ├╝ber-bad-girl and she tangles repeatedly with dirty-dealing cop Gary Oldman. They obviously have some wicked chemistry going on, but she's a lunatic and he could fill a magazine stand with his issues, and it really doesn't seem to work out for them, early on. On, and they are on opposite sides. Then he shoots her in the arm. Next time we see her, she's got a gimboid-looking prosthetic arm.

In one of my hands-down favorite scenes in all of filmdom, Gary awakens on his back, his wrists handcuffed to an old cast-iron bed, and they obviously are about to finally do the deed. She straddles him and says "With the arm, or without?" Gary had already won my heart forever for lots of other roles, but he cemented the deal when he says "Without." The next thing you see is the fake arm flying through the air. Great stuff.

Here's a clip from that film which is of rather poor quality, but still worth a peek. Gary Oldman has just had some toes chopped off by the local big-time crime boss, so he's in a somewhat compromised state. Lena is about to get her shot in the arm, and still she's a force to be reckoned with. I love the way she gets out of the car, and the shoe-toss at the very end is priceless. I told you that bitch crazy!

*warning - not for the fragile. Then again, neither is my blog*

Monday, March 19, 2007

I already posted this image over on the diorama, but I like this building so much I thought I'd post it again.

This is a grand structure, photographed in the dying light of day. In fact, I started wondering if I shot this in B&W setting with a blue filter, but then I noticed the traffic light at the bottom of the shot, and, well, no, it WAS that color.

One marvelous development in recent years is that many downtown buildings like this one were clad in "modern" exterior facades in the 50s, 60s and 70s, but developers are returning these structures to their original glory. I don't understand why there is such an insistence on "updating" architectural works to reflect the passing fancies of another age. These "updates" inevitably look more cloying, dated and poorly planned than the original structure. There's also that brilliant quote from James Lileks: Nothing says yesterday like something that said tomorrow. Damn skippy!

Hankering of the hour: black walnut ice cream. Wish I had some.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Saturday morning was a hot mess.

I kept getting out of bed and setting the alarm clock on the other side of the room for later. (See why it has to be on the other side of the room?)

At one point I was driving the wrong way up the toll road,[dream sequence] and I was behind a bunch of other people going the wrong way, and everyone was trying to keep from hitting the enormous baby penguins standing around in the road, some of them levitating about 8 feet off the ground. At one point, rather than have a head-on collision, I rear-ended a parked car knowing my chance of survival would be greater that way, even though I was only going about 10 miles per hour.

So I sprang out of bed at 7:28. My class started at 8:00 and was a 30 minute drive from home. I did the 9-minute miracle make-ready™ and managed to look relatively pulled-together.

I got to class about 15 minutes late. Found out that this won't be my last weekend - the state board exam prep class will be a Saturday and Sunday also, woe is me. I'm going to take next weekend, off, though. I'm wiped out. I've been a colossal spaz lately and I've gotten a tremendous lot of things done, but I feel like the essence of me has suffered in the process - like I've been phoning it in, not quite all there.
From the feel-good news of the week, let's take a moment to sit back, put our feet up and enjoy the crashing waves of irony. Obviously, I do and have owned up to watching some oober-crap-reality-tv-programming, but there is one show I watched about 10 minutes of at a friend's house, and the primary contestant convinced me I'd seen 14 minutes too many. The show was Survivor, and the repugnant contestant was Richard Hatch. Through a gritty combination of snide intimidation, devious ploys and the strategic deployment of his doughy, pasty carcass, Richard Hatch managed to cow or manipulate himself into the winner's circle on that show, cashing in to the tune of a cool million.

Now (see link above) he is cooling his heels in a prison for his refusal to pay taxes on that million, but he's whining about what a hell-hole prison is, even with the beautiful view. The most tasty morsel he tosses off is when he whines about his lowest-common-denominator fellow inmates' incessant watching of Jerry Springer's show. I'd call that the punishment fitting the crime.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Life in the tard lane...

...will surely make you lose your mind.

Yes, today and tomorrow are my last required classes before I can take my real estate exam.

I will have a different teacher tomorrow, and who knows what that will bring? Some of the teachers have been superb, and some have been found wanting.

One guy, at moments of particular swagger, kept mentioning deals he'd done in "silicone valley." I wanted to ask if he worked with a lot of strippers, but as was the case most days, I held my tongue in the spirit of expeditious completion of instructors' self-apotheosis. This wasn't his worst mis-pronunciation, but it was the funniest.

Another guy who I otherwise liked immensely talked about getting over the fear of rejection when asking for a sale. He likened real estate to seeing 20 pretty girls and approaching every one of them, and because they are so hot and desireable, they'll be used to saying no to everyone, but that 5 of the 20 might be so pretty that everyone is too intimidated to ask them out, so if you keep asking, the law of averages says you'll "get lucky" with 5 of these hot chicks.

Seriously. Like I said - he was otherwise completely likeable. I know that few of us could really survive having every single thing we say dissected, but sheesh- talking about getting lucky with hot chicks in a room of mixed-company strangers? Thank you, Mr. Inappropriate.

Anyway, there's a lot of it about.

I have to say Genki Sushi at the SE corner of Beltline and Preston is a fantastic eatery. They have incredibly fresh fish. They also have sushi Happy Hour from 4- 6:30 weekdays. Good stuff. If you live in northern Dallas and like sushi - you should give it a try - the folks there are great.

I took the doglet for a loooong walk Friday afternoon. We saw a huge labrador retriever and she was so eager to go make nice to the big dog. Weighing in at a whopping 15 pounds, the only dogs she recognizes as kindred spirits tend to weigh about 100 pounds. Oh, and she's good at dominating the big ones-- it's kind of funny.

Y'all have a great weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Enlightenment Driven Away

I highly recommend this clear-thinking article by Christopher Hitchens:
She's No Fundamentalist - What people get wrong about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

There, Christopher Hitchens calls media pundits on the carpet for mis-characterizing Ayaan by calling her a "fundamentalist" and dismissing her views as "absolutist."

What was she thinking, that uppity woman, to shoot her mouth off about Islam? Doesn't she know we're all supposed to be towing (or toeing?) the politically correct party line? We can't afford to piss anyone off - shhhh! - they might bomb us.

Here are some great links & blog posts from the Zelda at Sleeping Ugly about Ayaan and what she's been going through in recent years. Zelda's first post in that grouping features a link to a clip of Bill Maher's show on which Ayaan makes minced meat of the empty-headed windbags on the panel, including Maher. Her elegant, directly stated observation is the ultimate soft answer which turns away wrath, and impossible to refute.

What I'm wondering is if Islam is the religion of peace, as so many of its clueless defenders in the self-loathing Western media claim (indeed, they are so Godless that they admire anyone who can muster fervent belief in anything -- with the exception, of course, of Christianity), then where are the men of Arab and/or Muslim origin who are standing up to this fundamentalism which nakedly aspires to dismantle Western civilization? Where are all these supposed Muslims who are opposed to fundamentalist agression? Either they are cowardly, or they do not exist.

Yet one mere woman dares to raise her voice in opposition to the culture of violence and oppression to which she was born. It's nice to know someone has the cojones to call a dog a dog, even if that someone is female-- someone has to be one of the first to scramble over the barricade.

Thank God for uppity women.
Back in Baby's Arms...

That was me, or at least how I felt Thursday when I picked up LouLou the Baby Shoe™ from the insurance company. If you recall a few weeks ago I was in a fender-bender on I-30 when some uninsured illegal aliens decided to play bumper cars. Anyway, my insurance company - Progressive - had me bring my car to them and they handed me the keys to a rental car, and they had their people do the repairs.

Anyway, that was a bit of an adventure in and of itself. They made me sign and initial an agreement in triplicate that I wouldn't have animals in the rental, nor would I smoke in it. This baffled me because when the car deodorizer wore off after about 30 minutes, it was obvious that someone had been smoking in this car - smoking heavily.

I'm not a smoking-nazi - I don't say no one should do it - but I resent being forced to sign agreements not to smoke in a vehicle when they clearly have allowed it in the past.

LouLou is a V6 little SUV, but they issued me a V8 Toyota 4Runner. I'd forgotten what that felt like, something a bit more powerful. It was a fun vehicle to drive, but I feel more comfortable in my own. Anyway, after the repairs were completed, we both purred as I climbed in and we pulled away from the pick-up driveway. Back in baby's arms, indeed.

It's really funny, because I know it's not a high-performance vehicle, and probably some (misguided) person would say it's not sexy, but I think LouLou is adorable, suits my needs, and that's all that matters. It's good to have my own wheels back, be-flowered with a fragrance of my own choosing. In fact, whether or not anyone else likes your vehicle, it's a sweet thing to feel you possess your dream car. Until you get bored.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Separated at birth???

Wow. They claim his name is Chad Smith, but I know better. Apparently, all these years Will Ferrell of Saturday Night Live has been moonlighting as the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Early evening Monday was very mild, and I left the door to the back yard open so the little old lady dog could come and go. I've noticed several times recently that a pair of mallards have been landing in the pool and swimming about. I worried that they'd try to nest, because Miss Buns would not be having any of that.

Anyway, I was sitting in the living room, reading, and I noticed the ducks fly in. The dog was somewhere in the house, probably napping. I'd forgotten them completely when about an hour later, a terrible racket issued from the back as the dog set afoot the audible discord of her race. [thank you, Ambrose]

Doglet dithered about the pool in such a state of agitation that she actually fell in. This is funny because she takes great pains never to enter the swimming pool. She fell or flopped in, splashed about and got herself back out again, and all the while the unflappable ducks swam calmly about, apparently never doubting their ability to evade capture. She then ran rowdy circles around the pool until the ducks seemed to tire of her harangue and flew away.

Doglet came in wet and all lathered up, loaded for bear. I think she'll sleep soundly tonight, but her old arthritic body may punish her tomorrow.

Still, here's to the old girl getting whipped into a frenzy at the prospect of fresh quarry. That's my baby!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Well, here it is barely the second week of March and already I've had to turn on the air conditioner. Does this mean I'll be in the swimming pool within a month? Probably not.

I went to see 300 on Sunday afternoon - one of the best films ever. I'm going to stop myself right here before I start gushing. Mesmerizing.

I cleaned a bit this past weekend, and I've taken stuff to the Goodwill dropoff, and still I've only made a dent. I'm feeling frustrated - ready to chuck it all. Well, most of it. This is not a spring-cleaning urge-- I sort of function on some huge elliptical orbit oblivious to the seasonal urges other people seem to get. It's caused by my own recalcitrant circadian clock which also gives me the instinct to awaken at the crack of noon, whether I've had the full 5 hours' sleep or not.

Anyway, the sheer volume of stuff I have is really getting me down. It's insidious how this over-accumulation creeps up on a body. Why do we keep thousands of photographs which are unremarkable and unmemorable, for example, not of people or of anything in particular? I've mentioned my glossy addiction, but now I've started letting the subscriptions lapse and I'm throwing them out. I'm not a minimalist and I never will be, but something's got to give. Everything must go. Please clear the area.

I remember a few years back there was an art student who sold all his crap on ebay. His i.d. was mylifeforsale and listed items included half-used bags of flour, boxes of oatmeal and all his clothes and possessions. It was very odd, but I'm understanding the urge.

I think I've been holding back from life for way too long. I know everyone feels on occasion that life is more dark and complicated than it should be, and therein lie many of its frustrations and heartbreaks. We can't change it. We can't wish it away. All we can do is make the best of what we have, and fight to preserve what truly is precious and of value in our lives, and let go of the flotsam and jetsam that weighs us down.

I love in the brilliant David Mamet film The Edge where Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin are tragically stranded in the Canadian Rockies.

Alec: What will you do when you get back to civilization?
Anthony: I'm going to start my life over.
Alec: You'll be the first.

What do you think? Will you be spring cleaning? Are you a clean freak anyway? Minimalist? Pack Rat? Sick home syndrome? Any tips for de-acquiring colossal piles of crap? Can a zebra change her spots? I'm waiting with bated breath.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

More than the sum of its parts, this is one of my all-time-favorite videos. I love the stuffing out of The Damned:

Alone Again Or is a song I like in and of itself, but the spaghetti-Western-cum-trailer park effect of the video sends me into transports of rapture. I love the elongated forms who people this video, and there's something immaculately delicious about the senorita twirling as red dust boils up around her white shoes, an 18 wheeler streaking past, crop duster overhead and the occasional hog charging through the tableaux. The desolate, desperate beauty of the video perfectly underscores the melancholy of the song.

Great concept, beautifully filmed. I hope you'll like it too.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Love this song by the Eurythmics...


It was kind of a mixed blessing that I was at that class on Friday: my favorite doggie resident moved to California with her owners, and I would have boo-hooed like a goober if I'd been on the property. Isn't that silly? She's such a funny little animal - I would have liked to say goodbye, but I guess it's better this way. Anyway, she was a little beam of sunshine - she was a homely mix of several breeds - one of those dogs that is born looking old - but she was incredibly sweet-natured. She'd always pull at the lead to get to my office door, and she trained me to bring her treats whenever she walked by. But you know me - I'm a total sucker for the bitches.

Y'all have a great weekend.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Paradigm shift:

One icon or another is about to be irrevocably changed in your eyes. That's for ever, and forever's a mighty long time.

Either you will suddenly realize Cher is way cooler than you ever dreamt, or you'll wonder what you ever saw that was cool in David Bowie.

Or you can take the third way, and forgive David because he's English. That's what I'm doing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Here's a photo from Monday of some guys working on a roof - probably 20 - ish floors up. Those three little bumps on the leading edge of that curved surface are people. Sickening!

I'm on a yahoo group in which someone posted an appalling racist rant recently.

My heart went out to her. I want to do an intervention. The grammar and spelling were atrocious. By atrocious, I don't mean simply the garden-variety typos or the kind of errors one makes in a hurry. OK - I'll give you a sample sentence from the harangue:

NO one wants another bar down herethat caters to drunk [intercoursing]
[ethnic group] that solve thier problems withguns and knives!

Well, ok - this wasn't SUCH a poorly constructed sentence, but it is typical of the flavor of the post. What makes this whole thing such jolly good fun for me is that although he hails not from the ethnic group being vilified here, her husband is of foreign extraction.

Anyway, when I said I wanted to do an intervention, I meant that in the same way that when I see a woman in an unflattering garment and I want to approach her and say "Girl! Don't. Ever. Wear. Those. Pants. Again. Seriously. " Not a good look.


Anyone besides me notice that the runaway bride from 2 years ago looks a lot like that kooky astronaut stalker chick?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

For the life of me I can't remember which one it was, but back in the day there was a Britcom on which someone said "You're uncouth," and the object of scorn replied in a down-market accent "I'm bloody couth!"

Well, do you think this photo is bloody couth? I was going to post a picture of Easter-egg colored buildings along Davis street in Oak Cliff, but then I noticed I was capturing one of the locals going about his business. What do you think-- is this too lowbrow for Dallas Diorama?
Am I couth, or bloody couth?
I also was wondering what color this dog is-- is he gray, milky-coffee-colored, or could he be white under a lifetime's grime?
Poor beast looks remarkably healthy-- no doubt he's sired an impressive number of unwanted pups. Deadbeat fathers are remarkably fertile, or so the Jerry Springer show would seem to indicate.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dizzying heights.

This huge building downtown was designed by noted architect I. M. Pei.

Monday morning - I barely remembered to bring my camera, but I was so happy I did when I saw these window washers at the top of the building, just starting on their task. I'd guess this is about a 60 floor building. Can you see the line of cable sweeping down from the window-washer trapeze and connecting the open window about 15 floors below? Anyway - with its kooky angles, this one's a real engineering challenge to clean, I'll bet.


Since I've been in school for more than a month, there's been almost no cooking going on in our house. We've existed on sammies, salads and oatmeal and cereal. We really haven't had loads of time to contemplate the state of the refrigerator or its contents. Something, however, was rearing its furry little head and making its presence known. We noticed a pungent emanation from the fridge every time we opened it in recent weeks. Husband finally ferreted out the culprit yesterday. (I at first spelled that "yeasterday.")

The new life form was a little tub of Philly cream cheese, sell-by dated October-ish. Anyway - husband told me about it, and I said "a ha." Makes sense.

Later I was going through the mammoth pile of junk mail, sorting good from bad, shred from tossers, and I left the trash bin by the table, sitting on the floor.

Before I left for work Monday morning, I noticed the bin was pushed over, but I didn't think anything of it - there seemed to be nothing but the junk mail on top and just slightly spilling out the edge. I picked the bin up and sat it on the kitchen counter, out of reach of curious paws and whiskers.

Monday night, home from work, the house smelled - garsh- assy was the first thing that came to mind. Beastly. Foul. VILE. We looked the place over from stem to stern and found no eruption sites that we could identify. In the living room, I found it: the spotlessly clean cream cheese container. Bitch ate the whole thing. Apparently the eye-wateringly nasty odor was her gas.

I hope my dog doesn't die in the night. If she had a choice of which way to go, she probably would choose to die from eating something spectacuarly flavorful like rancid old cream cheese. Better than getting run over by a mack truck, I suppose.

Sometimes I think she's such a clever girl, but moments like these teach me that she's just a dim little bulb. I see her staring up at me these days, and I am less able to deny that adorably blank face with expressive ears and warm, moist eyes is indicative not of inate intelligence and a ponderous view of the world, but of a more bovine variety of stupefaction. In recent times, I've come to know she is just a tiny cow, willing to be made burgers of - she's simply more nimble and portable. Inside her brain is that old Indian head test screen they broadcast on off-the-air tv stations back in the day. Her conscious brain has an information loop of about 1.5 seconds' retention. And me? Even after 15 years I'm like the beaming new parent who doesn't see their baby looks like a shar pei or something from the Island of Dr. Moreau. She's mine, she's beautiful, and she's smart, dammit!

Now she's curled up at my feet, happy as a clam, apparently. We'll see... All I know is, her gassy ass won't be under mama's covers tonight.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I thought that since I mentioned my spetacular doodling, you might want to see one. This one is less complicated than most. I'll post more up this week. I like to use colored disposable Varsity fountain pens by Pilot. They are fun to write letters with, too. But they have some very nice colors.

I haven't used my camera for anything in about 3 weeks, and I miss lugging it around. I've scraped the bottom of my archive barrel for Dallas Diorama photos, so, clearly, I need to get out and snap some more.
Allergies have been kicking my butt the last 2 weeks. There must be something particularly vile blooming on the premises of my real estate school, because as soon as I set foot outside my car there in the mornings, I start sneezing my brains out. Teacher this week was tolerable and actually rather entertaining. For once I couldn't begin to tell you his political leanings - how refreshing.
I've also twice successfully traversed the roadway where I was rear-ended last week. I'm not at all superstitious or nervous about it, but it has crossed my mind both times. Oh well.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wow, two weeks from tomorrow I'll be done with Real Estate school. WOOHOO!

Actually, though I have felt a little sicky on and off, I'm pretty proud of myself for hanging in there and not losing it. Lots of people I'm in class with have blown off one or two weekends, intending to make it up later. Personally, I want done with it-- I'm tired and I just want to sleep late again like the good old days. I'll be one of those night-time realtors. Want me to write a contract at midinight? No problem. Just don't ask me to show you a property at sunrise. Ew.


Remember Doc Holliday of OK Corral fame? Did you realize he has a Dallas connection?

Originally from Philadelphia, he learned he had tuberculosis and was advised to repair to a drier clime, and off he went to Dallas. In 1873, he was hired to work with Dallas dentist Dr John A. Seegar. However, Dr Seegar fired Holliday because he kept coughing in the patients' faces and grossing them out. No telling how many of them he kilt.

Anyhoo, in Dallas south of I-30 several blocks is Seegar Street, named for this dentist. Within 3 blocks is where Aaron Spelling was born in a little shack, and also a block away is the former skating rink (now lofts with the original rink floor - COOL!) where Elvis played just when he was hitting it big way back when. Then another block over is where the Nu-Grape soda building was put up during prohibition (word on street was that grape libation had a little extra sum-sum'in) and where a boarding/flop house was run in the 40s/50s, where Jack Ruby lived, opening his first Dallas strip joint, The Silver Slipper, in the adjacent building.

Sorry, that were a bit of a ramble, weren't it? Too many days of concentrated concentration. My mind is cracked and odd bits are slipping out...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Let's give this a whirl. Thanks to Lawdog, Mushy & Myron who demystified the embarrassingly simple.

Love love love this song from Nouvelle Vague - a re-working of the punk classic In A Manner Of Speaking...

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Since I switched to new blogger, for the life of me I can't figure out the secret handshake to make youtube videos post on the blog, alas.

Sorry I've been such a crashing dullard lately, but this 7-day week of school/work is kicking my butt. I'm glad it'll all be over in 3 weeks. --or at least the sat/sun school will be over.

Ladies - there's a new perfume in town and it's fantastic - you've got to check it out: Sexy 9 by Trish McEvoy.

trust me on this one. You can pick it up at Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. Forget the diapers this month - you've got a new baby to make.

When Calvin Klein came out with Obsession, I liked it, but I didn't like the way it smelled on me. My mom joked me that it should be called "Repellent." Anyway, it made my skin burn, and I stopped wearing it. I'm really picky about fragrances, and I hate cheap scents and high-alcohol fragrances. Recently I bought Prada which has as its high note Bergamot which is one of my favorite herb scents. Bergamot is a flower (which I also grow & adore) also known as Bee Balm and given the Latin name monarda. Bergamot is also the primary flavoring of Earl Gray tea. Yum.

Some fragrances for men smell amazing on me - especially Aramis. Nice. I'm really hankering to get the new Tom Ford Black Orchid scent, which included one of those sample thingies in a magazine I left on the bed last week, opened to that page. I came home, and the little hound dog had been laying on it, apparently, and instead of smelling like her usual little Frito-chip self, she smelled like Black Orchid and Fritos. Hmmm, nice!

It must be strange for people from less commercially obsessed cultures to be around & smell Americans, since everything we wear/use for personal care is scented, these days. I'm all for flavoring things, up to a certain point.

What drives me nuts is scented lady-time products. If one washes on a regular basis, why should it be necessary to buy flavored maxi-pads? Good golly, this is a degree of self-loathing I will never understand.

I also don't understand the appeal of fabric softener sheets for the clothes dryer. Every one I've ever smelled stinks to me, and Hell!, I LOVE chemicals! What's up with that?

John Waters is one man who really got it right when it came to recognizing the important role of the olfactory system in the enjoyment of film. For the movie Polyester, Waters came up with the inspired idea for a scratch'n'sniff lobby card to accompany the delights of the film. The card has scratch sections 1-10 on the back, and admonishes the moviegoer to Wait! Do not scratch until you receive instructions from the film. This shows a great sense of fun, and considering that the film is by John Waters, there is bound to be something foul on at least a couple of these numbers. I've heard #2 is particularly assy. I have a couple of these cards, but I've never scratched them. Perhaps I need to rent this film.
Have a great Friday, y'all!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bad breath fog person came into my office today. I feel like I need to squeegee all surfaces as well as my person after he comes for a visit.

OK, it's shitty, but I'm going to say it: Erin, my equestrian friend - is my favorite tenant. I mean, it's shitty to admit a bias, in a way, but, well, she's a fellow hypomanic - how can I not love that? We went to lunch today and had a hoot. At the risk of sounding like a Designer Impostor™ commercial - if you like my wickedly delicious blog, you'll like Erin. Anyway - it's so nice to sit and talk to someone who totally gets my teeny little clusters of neuroses. Anyway, we were talking about our magnetic effect on gay people, and she said her husband calls it her "fagemones." Love it. Her husband is more clever than the average bear.
Sitting at the intersection of North Houston and Wichita streets Wednesday morning, I looked across to the big screen of the channel 8 studios and saw some local guy interviewing Richard Thomas (Johnboy from The Waltons). It freaked me out when I realized that I and my beloved LouLou were in the background of the shot, sitting in the intersection. It totally freaked me out, and as I was driving away, I realized I should have held the fake finger-fone up to my head and mouthed the words "CALL ME." Nah - no one would have noticed.
That was my mid-week brush with fame. You can go back to sleep now.
Did you know Andy Warhol loved the show "Love Boat" so much that he guest-starred as himself in episode #200 in 1985? Si, ees true.

Pinkie swear, I'm not making it up. See the picture?

Anyway, Andy would be a rabid fan of American Idol, too, no doubt, considering it reeks of the "famous for 15 minutes" schtick.

I watched it later on tonight, and I was thinking about how all they want is technically good singing. There's really no spontanaity to it. And AI contestants won't succeed unless they can sing any of numerous genres of music convincingly and with ease. In fact, what they are looking for are singers with good pipes and the agility and adaptibility to sing show tunes or R&B. *eyebrow raised* What they want for this show is human tofu - people who can take on the flavor of whatever/whomever they are singing. Dead boring, that. And still, I'm addicted to it.

How about some brilliant music, for a change of pace? Over here on the myspace page of Voyager One, you can click on a track called "Gun" which is absolutely brilliant - one of my favorite songs, ever. Hope you enjoy it.