Friday, August 31, 2007

An investment firm has paid $100,000,000 for a 200-300 year old skull which has been plated in platinum and encrusted in diamonds by artist Damien Hirst. The article says the diamonds were "ethically sourced" which made me laugh out loud.

Seriously? Ethically sourced diamonds?

Um, how wonderful that the "artist" is conscientious of how the diamonds were obtained and where they came from. Never mind the actual anonymous human skull he obtained from a London taxidermy shop - no doubt that was completely ethically obtained, as well.

Stop me if I've told this one before, but... some time ago a relatively new resident called for a maintenance repair on something in his apartment - plumbing or light switch or some such. The maintenance people who work for me have been with the company more than two decades. I don't think they are perfect, but in that industry, I think they are pretty darned close. I have known them both myself for 19 years and I believe they are trustworthy people.

Then again, we're all human. MY policy is that if I must enter someone's apartment (for example to deliver a package) I enter looking down at the floor and I keep my eyes on the floor all the way in and out. I have no interest or curiosity about looking at people's things - I think it's rude and a breach of trust. That's just me, personally.

I also try not to look at people's things when I'm showing their apartment to new prospective tenants, but it's not always easy when certain things are casually left about. One of the first apartments I showed when I got into this industry years ago was an incredible space where a grungenik was ensconced. He left a hideous glass bong on the table, and I almost lost my game at that moment, but I acted like I didn't see it. Later that day, I left him a voice mail saying that I'd be showing his space again the next day at 3pm. The next day at 3, the bong was nowhere in sight, but there was a big orange frisbee full of weed on the table in its place. Again, I circled the table, always keeping myself between the prospective clients and the weed/bong, but I that was the last time I ever tried to cover for someone. It's too exhausting, and not my responsibility.

So anyway, all those moons ago, the maintenance crew went into the apartment, and apparently one of the maintenance people went to a bookshelf of curiosities the person collected and picked something up, looking at it. The phone rang in my office with the tenant on the other end in a screaming conniption, shrieking that he was watching his apartment on webcam and we were "looking at" his things. I just didn't know how to respond to that, other than to say I was unaware of them behaving in any inappropriate matter, but that I would ask them about this.

I mean, what do you say? I tried as tactfully as I could to tell them they should consider that anyone can see anything they do -that a lot of people have webcams in their apartments these days. It's certainly a different world than it was a few minutes ago.
Crap. I must go to court Friday morning. That should be fun.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

OK. I just want a clarification.

If a sitting US President (Democrat) splays an intern on the presidential seal on the carpet of the oval office and inserts a cigar into her nethers, that's his private life and nobody's business; and if a governor (Democrat, married to a woman) is exposed as a sexual predator who molests other men, well, he's just exploring his sexual identity--after all, it's his private life and we should let him get on with it and his wife forgives him and it's no one else's business; but if a Senator (Republican) plays footsie with another man in a bathroom, well, THAT is a moral outrage and he should resign immediately.

All I am asking for is some consistency. I think it's idiotic for anyone to wrap themselves around the axle freaking out over Craig's gayness. So what? The orientation is immaterial to me. I just find it tremendously ironic that I'm hearing the same voices in the media who were outraged over Clinton's (hee, I spelt that "Clingon" first) indiscretions are also loudly decrying this Craig tool. Yet, the same people who so vociferously defended Clinton are now crying for Craig's blood. Anyone for hypocrisy? Apparently it's all the rage.

Here's what I have personally concluded and I'm guessing this will eliminate me from consideration for the jury pool:

1) Craig is a dirtbag (just like a lot of our morally bankrupt elected leaders - I mean, how many "real" people would give up a decent quiet life for all that D.C. hogwash? I mean, you can't get away with wearing wild shoes there, so what's the point?)
2)Craig is unworthy of the people who elected him
3)Craig might resign if anyone still had a sense of honor or decency, but I really don't think many people in D.C. know what that means any more. They've crossed over into Machiavelli-land and will only relinquish power when we pry it from their clutching, lifeless fingers. And their little lap-dog media, too!

On an equally depressing note - you're never going to guess who this is, so I'm writing her name in white below the photo and you can high-light it if you want your heart utterly crushed. Zero points if you guess it's the crypt-keeper. You may prefer not to know.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Society's little hall monitors want us to know that people only started dying because of big tobacco companies and fast food outlets and SUVs. Before those things came along, no one ever died for any reason.

What a difference a day makes, eh?

On August 27th in the UK's The Daily Mail, they featured a story on this delightful creature celebrating her 100th birthday by lighting her cigarette with one of her birthday candles. I think she's adorable, and she looks like she has an exuberant sense of fun. Who am I to tell a bitch she can't light up, and vice versa? I don't smoke, but I think we have plenty of proof around us that smoking doesn't absolutely kill or damage everyone (or even most) who practice that habit. I say let the old girl smoke, whether or not she inhales.

Contrast that with another Daily Mail article on the 28th which says that smoking causes people to die younger, and therefore as a more staunch warning, photos of corpses and smoking-related tumors will be printed on the cigarette packs in the UK from now on. What absolute twaddle!

Remember those grisly driver's ed films they made us watch in the 80s? Horrifically bloody car wrecks circa the 1950s with corpses strewn about? And even after all that, how many kids from those same schools still went on to die in idiotic car accidents? Most of all, how many people were grossed-out for life, unnecessarily?

Hello, class action suits and candidates making political hay out of demonizing smoking? All this crap does is de-sensitize people to the whole issue. It's insulting, and it's just as disgusting as those morons who stand on the street holding giant photos of aborted fetuses in full view of every child who rides by in a high enough car seat. Nasty people who take out their impotent rage on the wrong people every time.

And while we're talking about it, now Hillary is saying smoking should be banned in New York. Well, when she threw that ashtray at Bill's head, whose ashtray was that, pray tell? Hers or Bill's? Or maybe that ashtray wasn't used for ciggies.

Everything Gives You Cancer by Joe Jackson
No caffeine
No protein
No booze or
There's no cure; there's no answer
Everything gives you cancer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Removing all doubt...

If you drop a letter in the post office mail slot and instantly realize you were mistaken to send it off just yet, you can go to the ladies at the counter and beg mercy and they'll usually dig your letter out. However, when you press "send" on an email, there's no snatching it back from the ether in that dread instant your eye zeroes in on the humiliating grammatical error it refused to see mere moments earlier.

Really. I'm not illiterate. Mostly.
When I checked out of my hotmail account today, I was spirited onto the front page of, and I immediately saw something very familiar. The illustration here is by Kim Carney, graphic artist and friend of 20 years who may be seen in my blogroll on her blog Something to Say. She's tremendously talented, and it's a thrill to see her clever illustrations get the exposure she so richly deserves.
Well, the tank pinata is coming together. As it will tend to do, reality is slapping me in the face with a cheap rubber sandal and I'm getting a grip on how much detail I will (or won't) be able to emulate with my little tank. At this point, I'll just be happy if it doesn't end up looking like Thomas the Friendly Locomotive or whatever-the-heck that thing is called. I've bought about 20 pounds of gew-gaws and candy, so it better be sturdy, if nothing else. I'll try to post some images tomorrow night. My one great disappointment is that I haven't been able to find a bag of small snakes to go in the thing. Dinosaurs, yes, but no snakes.

What's really taken me by surprise is that I am too weak to papier-mâché for hours at a time. I literally had to take breaks and lay down and breathe deeply. I'm feeling better every day, but this pneumonia has really taken it out of me. Can you imagine being exhausted from picking up strips of paper and sticking them onto something? Meh!

Anyway, I've got the framework mostly completed, and I'll do the final cobbling together tomorrow and probably start on the external form tomorrow night, and do another layer for each of the next 3 nights, finishing the painting on Friday.

By the way, a guy named Rob Cockerham in California has the coolest site, one I've been admiring for nearly 10 years. He does these amazing pranks and fun things. One of the most amazing things he does is his paper-mache stuff. Anyway, you need to go to his site and waste a few hours. YOu'll thank me. The most important thing for you to see there is his paparazzi halloween costume. Rob was working in the film industry on special effects and wrangled an invite to CGI (George Lucas' effects company)'s party. He knew he needed something spectacular, so he rigged the coolest costume. Go check it out.

Anyway. I'm going to work today, but if it's at all like last week, I'll be coming home and crawling into bed after only a couple hours. And that's just fine.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This weekend was the first time I've picked up me camera in yonks. There was a traveling carnival at Valley View mall so I stopped and snapped a hundred or so images. It felt good to be looking for shots again, and I got a few I really like.

I've never been a carousel fan, particularly, but I loved the faded splendour of this one. The horsies (and rabbits and zebra & others) were in very good, new condition, but the embellishment on the ride and the ornate glass covers over the lightbulbs had been rather neglected. The paint wasn't chippy, but the missing/broken lights were sort of haunting. It was sort of like some old dancehall queen with too much makeup on, fading feathers and holey fishnets. Loved it.


Went to see Mr. Bean's Holiday. I rather expected a series of low chuckles interrupted only by the occasional laugh, but I pretty much howled through the whole film. So did everyone else, so it was't just me. Now mind you, I already love Bean and I like cornball humor, so you may want to take that into consideration. To me, this was SO much better than the last Bean film, and much more like the series than the previous film was.

Willem Dafoe manages to be incredibly funny in the process of poking fun at the art film industry. You may have seen the langoustine-munching scene from the trailer, but there's something even more pants-soilingly funny in that scene. You'll never look at oysters the same way again.

An un-credited star of the film is the breathtaking French countryside. There are spectacular shots of the Millau Viaduc, a nauseating-looking bridge between two plateaus in southern France which at 1,125 feet is the highest bridge in the world. It spans 1.5 miles and is supported only by 7 pillars. Seriously. I felt woozy just looking at it on film. There is no end of breathtaking countryside in this film, and despite frenetic scenes of which there are plenty, Bean's comic schtick is never rushed in the more pastoral moments. Looking around, I had one of those Tahiti revelations where I actually found myself sorta wanting to go there.

If you need a good laugh, this film is a definite tonic.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

42 seconds of Ayn Rand

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My first car was a gloriously bitchin' '74 Camaro (how did you guess?)my parents gave me in 1983. Yeah, I knew my car would go 150, but I was chintzy with that 63 cent-a-gallon gasoline. I worked as a checker for Winn-Dixie (I totally rocked that job) and I made $6.36/hour, more than double minimum wage, so yeah, I was chintzy with the gas.

But there was the one time three boys from the football team who were neighbors wanted a ride home. I think they peed theysefs when I said "Lookie what I can do!" Yes, splurge when you have company, darlings. I poured on the coal and burned about 1/4 tank of gas in about 45 seconds. If you think about it, it was a role-reversal of a certain intimate act. *wink* Seriously. It was good for me.

I think I leered at them, my face cracking into an evil rictus of a grin when I said something like "If I sneeze in about 20 seconds, we'll probably all die" and then I opened 'er up. Doug Johnson's eyes got big as saucers. I think it's good to unfurl a pithy line at the appropriate moment to mark the occasion. They didn't laugh.


OK, that was kind of bitchy/jerky of me, wasn't it? But they were guys. I thought they were sposta be tough, or something.

Oh, it was glorious, my darlings. Actually, that's the only time I ever really drove very fast. I was so cheap! What ever happened to her?

Anyhoo, in honor of my first sweet ride, here's Bitchin' Camaro by the Dead Milkmen.

Dear Monsieur Louboutin:

Dude, you are stone-cold killing me. If you insist on making shoes I can't afford, please don't make me fall in love with them. Either that, or please grant me special dispensation to lick the display at Saks Fifth Avenue without getting arrested.

At $695, the Miss Fred Tacco Boots with the gold piping, golden spike heel and ribbon laces are almost within reach if I give up feeding the dog and electricity. However, if I'm going to splurge on rather expensive shoes, the patent leather is simply not practical for frequent wear, alas.

Then there is the not inconsiderable matter of the Practique Corta Platform Pumps which make my heart go pitter-pat. Oh, you naughty boy. These shoes are a Mistress Elvira-cum-Minnie Mouse meets Harajuku dream-come-true. $790? Not doable. *sigh*

Finally we must consider my over-fondness for mary-janes which is sent singing by these Mad Mary Suede Mary Janes, and let's see if we can fit one more Mary into this sentence, shall we? Cute doesn't begin to cover it. Amazingly, the black suede is a slightly more forgiving surface than the patent leather so this pair is eminently more practical, but darling! $865 is not even in the ballpark.

Let us review:

  • These shoes are glorious
  • I can't afford these shoes yet
  • You are a mean and nasty man
  • Please make uglier shoes that don't make my heart ache

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back to work on Thursday for a few hours, and I'm wondering if there's a job available de-beaking baby chickens that I could apply for instead. You know, something less soul-killing and tedious. Seriously, the entire property crapped its pants in honor of my return, and I get to clean it all up. Goody goody gumdrops.

I'm going to work for a couple hours Friday. [whimper mode] Please let there be no 911 calls from the property this time?

Talking with another property manager the week before I fell ill, we said we should start a property management support group. He told me if you work in the industry any length of time, you will have to do one of three things to cope: smoke excessively, drink excessively or curse like a sailor. I don't smoke, but if I did, it would be excessively. I'm thinking of starting with the patch. I don't drink very often, but I'd love to have the kind of constitution that would help me function and still have a modest daily tipple on par with that of say, oh, Ernest Hemingway. As for the cussing like a sailor? Relax. I'm all over that shit like white on rice.* I can turn it off and act ladylike and all, but sometimes, the only real therapy in the world is setting afoot implacable strings of well-modified expletives, along with copious amounts of cussin', topped with a dollop of potty mouth for good measure.

I know Friday will be better if I just believe...

There's no place like Tahiti. *click*click*click*

*I'm only on semi-good behaviour here because me Da reads my blog. At least there's SOME thing that governs my urge to vent spleen, eh?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm not one to go off to holiday resorts. It's really not my cup of tea. I hate flying, and adore the great American road trip and all its attendant (dis)comforts. There's nothing like seeing every inch of the roadway, and somehow flying always seems like cheating to me.

I've always had friends who go off to Cancun, Hawaii or Jamaica and the like frequently, but that's had limited appeal. Until now. There IS one place I'd like to go, and it's a tiny island about an hour boat ride from Tahiti in French Polynesia. The place is called Kia Ora Sauvage, and it looks amazing. The meals are traditional Polynesian fare and center on the fruits of the sea. One delight of that island is the coconut crab, which uses its powerful pincers to open coconuts, and when cooked, these crab actually have a coconut flavor. *heaven*

One of the little huts on this island (I think there are only 20 or so) is about 350 Euros for the first person, and 50 E or so for the second. Food is additional.

Anyway, dedicated as I am to all the modern conveniences, I think I could fight through my dislike of flying and sweating and laze about in a hammock for days looking out on white sands and impossibly blue waters.

After nearly a month off work, do you think my boss'll be pleased if I ask for a vacation soon? Actually, after a month of work, I really can't afford a vacation.

At least dreaming is free.

[I got carried away writing this, and never mentioned when originally posting that I saw this place on the French Polynesia episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. I love him. On the Travel Channel, it's a show about travel, food and culture. He's vulgar, rather excessive and dives right into it all. My kind of guy.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big brother is watching you pee.

Well, this isn't creepy at all.

Scientists have devised a way to do a collective drug test on an entire community by testing a single teaspoon of sewer water from a water treatment plant. Click here for details.

The test detects cocaine, meth, marijuana, caffeine and probably chocolate and twinkies as well as no telling what else. They can probably tell which way everyone voted with this test.

There's a link to a poll on this AP page, and when I clicked on the poll, 47% of respondents said they were ok with it, and that the information may be useful in helping track drug usage and aid drug treatment programs.


People don't have a problem with this? Jeepers.
I need your help.

This is the Wednesday post but I'm actually posting it earlier Tuesday evening, because I need as much input as possible. One tradition I started with niece and nephew some years ago was to build them pinatas. I spend a lot of money on goodies. Let's just say there will be several dozen pair of bubba teeth and lots of little plastic toys and premium candy. Any little darling of mine...

Anyway, I like a multi-stage pinata, because what's the fun of it if all the good crap comes sluicing out of it with the first substantial *thwack!* Even if subject of choice for the year is boxy, I build multiple chambers in the pinata, each containing a different set of goodies.

So, on Wednesday I begin construction on nephew's pinata for a couple weeks from now. I'll start by building a framework of balsa, dowels and tape.

Here's where you come in, my esteemed readers. Nephew's subject of choice this time is a tank. The finished product will be roughly three feet long, and the sooner I get cracking, the more authentic detail I can put on it. I'm also going to paint a ferocious shark mouth on the front. OK. How ferocious it looks may be debatable. But anyhoo -

I'd like your suggestion of what type tank to build.

Sherman tank would be most easily recognizable, of course. But then I thought if it's going to be beaten the stuffing out of, wouldn't it be more delectable to make it a tank of foreign extraction? Let me know. Like I said, I've got to start construction by afternoon tomorrow, so I don't have a lot of wiggle room, time wise. Thanks for any suggestions you may make!

OOOH, I found this neat photo online of an Iraqi tank some Kurds modified. It's pretty neat.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My dear friend Patti observed to me yesterday that since I've been away from work, the stock market has been erratic and the economy has gone kind of wobbly. She said I need to get back to work and everything'll be ok.

I'm coming, people.

I went to the doctor on Monday and she said I can go back to work later this week. I'll go back in short doses starting Thursday or Wednesday, if I feel like it, just a couple or few hours at a time. I'm just now getting to the point where I'm not keeping a feline sleeping schedule, so I'm calling that progress. Also, my voice has risen from the bass/baritone range, so that's a mercy, too. Still coughing a lot, though. She said I should be back to normal in about 6 weeks.

Isn't it funny how hurricanes are nature's little cricket match? The ball is set into play and you watch it unfold in slow motion over the course of days, actually having time to sorta prepare for it, in case it actually sticks in your wicket. Other fruits of nature's wicked wit you pretty much don't know about until they're kissing you hello. Volcanoes? Yeah, we monitor those with seismic sensors, and same with fault lines, but you just never know when it'll blow or when the big one will saw off the crusty end of California and dump it into the drink. Much has been said recently about the whole of Yellowstone being the live caldera of a supervolcano that could turn all us on this continent into crispy critters. [don't worry. be happy] Hurricanes, on the other hand, are like the bowling ball, veering down the alley for days and sometimes they peter out into gutter balls, and sometimes they pop back out of the gutter and pick up a spare.

One of these days a hurricane will come roaring like a big wet salad-shooter over the rain forests of the Yucatan and circle the bowl of the Gulf and become the proverbial "good time, had by all." What a mess!
Never mind the weather - keep your kids away from France.

61 year old French sex felon parolee rapes a 5 year old after prescribed Viagra by a prison doctor.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nephew is turning a ripe old 5 in a couple weeks, and he wants a pocket knife. I was thinking about giving him a little Leatherman Squirt P4. It's pretty tiny with a small blade, and heck, he's gotta start having knives sometime, doesn't he? Anyway, pending approval of his parents, I'm planning to give him this, but I was wondering if any of y'all had a suggestion for an alternative first knife for a young warrior. I figured he'd get more use out of the pliers than the knife, anyway, and what little guy doesn't love the extra gadgets?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fantastic song, Invasion, from Eisley's new cd, released last week. This band is composed of 4 siblings and a cousin, and they're from Tyler, a city East of Dallas. They formed the band about 10 years ago when they ranged in age from about 8 to about 12. Fantastic group. First post-illness purchase will be this cd tomorrow. WOOHOO! All the cool kids are listening to this.

Oh, and because *girl* asked so nicely, here's a link to Eisley's site. So glad you liked it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I actually ventured out of the house late this week and I stood in line at the store to buy a box of Clementines, which I lurve.

I soon realized I was too sick to be out, really, because I probably stood there in a fog for about 10 minutes looking half-heartedly at tabloid covers & feeling faint while the cashier frittered about with the foodstamp thingies of the lady in front of me, but I never regained enough sense to change lines. She had a card thingie like a debit card, and there was some sort of paper that had to be marked or something, and it just took for EVAH.

I think food stamps and programs like that are not totally evil, but I really have to wonder why the rest of us have to subsidize food for someone who--like this lady-- managed to eke out enough money from her budget to get the new i-phone.

On a happier note - I think one of the most glorious sounds in the world is the flibbity-floppity-flop of my dog's ears when she shakes. Isn't that cute? Don't you just love it when your dog does that? I do.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Maggie Gyllenhall, her daughter and her baby daddy Peter Sarsgaard were forced to cut short their Martha's Vineyard vacation this week when Sarsgaard contracted Lyme disease from a tick.

In honor of Sarsgaard, here's this icky song that sees tick hunting as an opportunity for romantic interlude. Frankly, the song's more skin-crawling than the ticks, IMHO. I knew you'd want to hear it.
As I mention occasionally, I don't watch much television, and very rarely do I get hooked on a tv show. I do love cooking- decorating- and design- competitions on Bravo, as they tend to center on real craftsmanship and knowledge of technique, as opposed to the typical network reality programming where producers seem only interested in arraying a pastiche of personality types to generate the most conflict.

That said, this season I did watch Hell's Kitchen (concluded Monday), as well as Top Chef, which has 8 or so episodes to go. HK's Gordon Ramsay seems to be a superb chef, and yet he is quite abrasive and seems unnecessarily cruel in his delivery of criticism. The winner of Hell's Kitchen would be appointed head chef of Ramsay's Las Vegas restaurant and a salary of $250,000. The HK's chefs seem very amateurish and unfamiliar with the more sophisticated ingredients a quarter-million buck chef would be expected to know and use. I quickly realized HK was yet another personality show and not about the cooking when on one episode, the punishment for a group of losers was that they were forced to eat offal - organ meats such as the heart, liver, the tongue, etc. The contestants were duly repulsed by the prospect of eating these less-than-popular meats, and this baffled me. I'm no gourmet, but I've always known that the mark of a master chef is that they can take these most humble ingredients and from them create some of the most delectable meals, and certainly this shouldn't be a foreign concept to the people on HK. Pig's trotters? Yeah, they sound revolting, but apparently, there's a place in England that whips up such a mean trotter that Top Chef's Tom Colicchio would have them as part of his last meal on earth.

What I found offensive about the HK offal thing was that rather than taking an opportunity to in some way educate the public about the very practical prospect of using every bit of the animal slaughtered for food, they took the Fear Factor approach by playing up the squeamishness aspect of icky, unfamiliar cuts of meat. The fact is that in a world where people are crapping their pants to appear conservative of resources, it's obscene to not make the most of the animals which we use purely as a food source. But again, that is part of it- sensation over substance, I suppose.

In contrast, BravoTV's Top Chef has featured offal episodes to present a particular challenge to the skills of the contestants. But Top Chef is about cooking.

A much better way to watch Gordon Ramsay in action and to learn his philosophy on feeding people is to watch Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America, in which GR goes into failing restaurants and spends a week with staff to reverse the trainwreck in process. Apparently, he's about to do a parallel program on American TV, but I somehow doubt it will be as entertaining or informative as the BBC original, dumbed-down as things always seem to be for the American audience, alas.

One of the best food shows ever is(was) Nigella Bites, by English kitchen goddess Nigella Lawson. Nigella seems to me a very domestic, slightly-more-exotic dark-haired version of Kate Winslet. She has a very earthy, homey approach to cooking and her recipes are generally simple and incredibly satisfying, yet very stylish. Her Rudolph Pie (a take on Shepherd's Pie) and pasta putanesca are particular standouts. Beautiful food, wonderfully presented.

Speaking of cooking, I have a favorite recipe I'm dying to cook again soon. Pan-roasted chicken with fig sauce, caramelized roasted figs and a side dish of wild assorted mushrooms and shallots in butter. Just a teeny bit of a (preferably stinky) blue cheese with the figs is a brilliant flavor pairing. Toe-curling. It's funny, because I really am not fond of figs, but this sauce is such an elegant little concoction that it made me a fan. This recipe taught me to enjoy the art of making a fine sauce. I like serving this with a very broad-flavored red wine like a Zinfandel, but I'm sure a Pinot Noir would be great with this too, with the savory notes of the chicken and the earthy goodness of the mushrooms. Did I say toe-curling already? Well, it bears repeating. OMG. I can taste it all now. Yeah, I'm definitely getting well. Sorry for the foodie ramble. I've been kinda cooped up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Today I was shocked and saddened to read over at Zelda's blog, Sleeping Ugly, that one of her and her husband Jethro's dearest friends - Charles B. Kitowski III - was killed in Afghanistan this weekend.

I am more sorry than I can say.
A Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands has suggested people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" to ease tensions.

What an utter ass.
Let us cleanse the palate of bad film by talking about good films for a moment.

I know I mentioned this film before, but I'd like to say again how marvelously well-written Keeping Mum is. Here is the trailer, for your enjoyment:

This film is a black comedy throwback to the golden days of the Ealing Comedies, from Ealing Studios in England. Foremost in my mind among those films is their 1955 film The Ladykillers, with a cast including Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness. I actually thought the Tom Hanks 2004 reworking of The Ladykillers was pretty good, but the original was so surpassingly brilliant that it did not need re-tooling, either.

Anyway, rent Keeping Mum asap. You'll thank me. Oh, it's rather rude and inappropriate for the kiddies, fyi.

And that brings me to this delightful bit of news that warms the cockroaches of my black little heart: he's back.

Nouvelle Vague's version of New Order's Blue Monday
Yup. Still cool.

Here's a link to Nouvelle Vague's site. Be sure to click on French or Engrish.
Despite politics I generally despise, I occasionally enjoy listening to A Prairie Home Companion on national public radio. Being a music fan and a film buff, I expected something with the feeling of the radio show on screen in the movie. Alas, I was disappointed.

For one thing, the film was directed by Robert Altman who turned out occasional flashes of cinematic brilliance (Gosford Park), but whose work otherwise seems primarily self-indulgent and under-edited.

Early in his career, Altman directed episodes of Bonanza and several other 1950s television series. His first real critical acclaim came with his feature film of M*A*S*H, and he never approved of the way the bite was taken out of his political statement by the tv series that followed.

I adored Gosford Park, but this was perhaps better-than-typical Altman fare because he was working with a classically trained cast of English actors. Cookie's Fortune was also a delight and starred one of the all-time screen greats, Patricia Neal, as well as terminally cute Liv Tyler.

The style of his films tends to be very loose with script, with bloated super-ego actors improvising and generally in love with the sound of their own voices. The result is often muddled and directionless, in my opinion. Still, Altman has been one of the most revered directors of the twentieth century, particularly amongst the Hollywood set, and huge film stars would work for union pay scale simply to be included in his films. It's all a bit of log-rolling, if you ask me.

So, in the form of A Prairie Home Companion, here was an opportunity to showcase a weekly radio program populated with a permanent cast of singer/actors, musicians and special-effects people who are experts at their craft. Rather, however, than focus on the performances and the quirky corn-pone charm of the show as it exists, the film instead focused on the navel-gazing of ditzy songstress Meryl Streep, her sister Lily Tomlin and Streep's daughter played by Lindsay Lohan.

The great revolving schticks of APHC radio show were eschewed in favor of the rambling of the big-name stars of the film, which is a pity. Gone were the Powdered Milk and Ketchup songs. In was La Lohan's crappily warbled rendition of Frankie & Johnnie. Out was what should have been a focus on the brilliant sound effects man Tom Keith, and in was a little too much face time with Woody Harrelson. Ew.

Ironically, Garrison Keillor shared writing credits on this film, and manages to make himself seem ponderous and even tedious, when in fact, the APHC has always shown him to be rather clever. Pity. Add to that his made-for-radio countenance, and GK comes off looking like Michael Moore's slightly-more-fortunate-looking brother.

Anyway, you'll rarely see or hear me pan a film. I try to take them on their own merits, but in truth, when there is an established history behind a new film, the film makers should strive in some way to at least match the prior undertakings in terms of quality and pure entertainment value. On a scale of one to ten, I'd give this about a 3. Seriously.

I consider myself open-minded and able to appreciate even the outrageously bad film, if done with a point of view and sense of humor. Frankenhooker? Loved it. Basket Case II and Killer Klowns from Outer Space? Yes, I saw them in the theater. Rarely have I felt angry at myself for wasting time watching a stinker of a film, but this was one of those occasions.

Learn from my mistake and avoid this one.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Over on Xavier Thoughts, the author is always de-constructing scenarios where criminals shoot the good guys, and analysing how these outcomes may have been avoided. I'd like to see his take on this one.

In Dallas at 2:05 Sunday morning, a motorist had a car wreck and was on the side of the road. Two people stopped to help him, and the driver of the wrecked vehicle shot and killed both of them. A second vehicle pulled over to help, and the shooter shot and seriously wounded the third Good Samaritan.

A Dallas Police patrol car then pulled over to render aid to what appeared to be two car accident victims lying on the road, and the shooter shot one of the officers in the face, leg and hand.

Finally, the 20 year old gunman turned the gun on himself and did the world a favor.

It's freaky to have to think twice about helping someone who seems to have been in an accident. The fact is that pretty much at no time in public can one afford to be casual about the threat level when dealing with other people, particularly when things have gone all wobbly on the roadway at 2:05 on a Sunday morning.

Thoughts and prayers are with Senior Cpl Jerry Poston, a good guy who works the CBD in Dallas.
One lovely discovery Sunday evening was the little bouquet of bruises on my tummy from the shots I got there every day. The shot was allegedly a blood-thinner to help avoid deep-vein thrombosis. I don't know if the DVT was likely to happen because I was bed-ridden or because I was on i.v. or what. Anyway. They hurt less than you'd think, believe it or not. Still, not my ideer of a good time. The first time a nurse came at me with one of those and lifted my top, I was thinking "Don't be a baby, suck it up!" but I know I was half way to puckered up and crying, looking up at her with hurt, wounded eyes. In retrospect, it's funny, but I don't like surprises.
Saturday was great for a little bit because my sister and brother both happened to come see me at the same time. That's funny, because the three of us have not been alone together probably in more than 25 years or so. (Brother is a year older than me, sis is 9 younger)

Anyway, my brother has a gift for snarkery. He also has a gift for not giving a rip what anyone thinks of him. This makes for a diabolical combination. He also happens to work in an industry largely populated by unsavories, and he shared some of his off-putting techniques for encouraging the flies to steer clear of him. He liberally peppers conversations with things such as "after all, who among us has not set fire to a public building?" I don't even have to have seen him in action to know he stares wildly when he says these things and never cracks a grin. He also speaks occasionally of moving to live under an overpass and eating cat food.

Some years ago he had a friend who worked at an area State Park who let him go fishing on the lake after hours. One night as he was leaving, he told the park keeper he saw 5 masked youths hanging out near one of the piers, and that they should keep an eye out. He promised to send them a photo he snapped, and later he emailed them a .jpg of 5 baby raccoons who'd been hanging out and begging fishing bait. "Masked youths." I love it.

We were laughing and laughing and the nurse came in to get my vital signs, and I think she thought we were nuts. I suppose we are.

Sis and bro compared techniques on identifying meth-heads, and they discussed the possibility of corraling and exterminating same. I laughed and laughed, feeling a little weak for making any contribution. Bro said that he was going to put his foot down to the step-kids, insisting "if you plan to keep on living over these four tires, you're gonna have to follow a few rules."

Sis brought me banana pudding, which was the most glorious thing I ate all week. Thanks, sis!
It's good to be home and have the doglet nearby. It's also nice to have the option to take a shower without rolling my IV shadow along for the ride. I also know that no one will wake me up for 3:00, 3:45 and 4:30 changing of my i.v.s.
I suppose I'll be back at work before the week is over, but I think it's going to have to be on a very limited basis. I definitely can't walk all over the property, but maybe it'll be enough for me to answer phones and do some paperwork, which I can just feel piling up on me.

I still have a lingering cough and the last of the congestion is working itself out. I wish my ears would clear up, but maybe the doc can do something about the fluid therein when I see her Tuesday or Wednesday.
I swear I won't keep talking about this stuff forever, but one thing about the PICC line was that it was on the inside of my upper arm, and sleeping was always something of an ordeal. I would sleep on one side or another, always using the larger of my two pancakey pillows to bolster the arm so that the line didn't get snagged and tugged. Indeed my arm is all bruised around the area where the feed went in, because once or twice a day, the line would snag on the covers and get sorta ripped away. Trust me when I say that if you get pulled by a line like that, you'll soon follow. Now I know how a fish on a hook feels.
Thanks for all the well-wishes and kind words to those of you who commented and emailed me. It was very encouraging, and no doubt aided in my recovery.

Sunday, August 12, 2007



*insert goofy lady dance here*

Yesterday, that big teddy bear Dr. Mueller sent me for x-rays. I like him.

They sent a fellow up from the second floor to fetch me in a wheelchair. I felt pretty good, so I did a queenly wave as I was squired about the hospital to radiology for my pics, flirting with babies, toothless grins returned from the rooms of oldsters who are fellow inmates looking for reprieve. I looked at the xray afterward, and it didn't look THAT much better to me. I was crestfallen. I mean, I knew I still have congestion, but 5 days of i.v. antibiotics shoulda put more of a dent in it than that, I thought. I resigned myself yesterday to being happy about staying here even if it meant 3 or 4 more days.

What was really cool on the xray was to see the wire going through my arm vein up through my shoulder and arcing down to my heart. A little freaky, actually, but really nifty.

I settled in and finally tucked into the superb Falkenberg's Legion, which Tam has highly recommended on her blog, if memory serves. Fantastic book. I found a copy on ebay months ago (out of print) and I have been saving it for a moment I needed a good book. I started reading about 10pm last night and read until I fell asleep, and woke up wondering what happens next. I was about a quarter of the way into the book at noon today.

[ok - the nurse just came out and removed my heart wire - I think it's a Pick line (pic line? pik line?) YAY! Freedom is at hand.]

So Dr Mueller came in to my room about 12:30 and talked to me about what I need to do when I go home. He asked what I'd been taking pre-hosp. and I hopped up and went to the closet and pulled out the bottle of xithrimax or xanadu or whatever it was and he said "well, you're getting around quite well - you seem to be feeling fine." I did my best zuzu's petals moment and said "does that mean... (big blue eyes *bat* *bat*)... I can, you know, go...." He said "Home? Yes, well, why not."

I told him I'd hug him but he looked too clean for it.

So, anyway. Yip, yip yahoo. Home within mere hours. Nice!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Yay. I might get to leave hospital Sunday or Monday.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

The good news is I'm all caught up on my sleep.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

OK, just a little quick update. I'm feeling better, but I'm pretty weak.

Tonight I learned that with the mere sacrifice of the room phone, I can access dial-up of my home internet stuff, and here I be!

I'm kinda shaky, prolly won't bother fixing typos. Took my painkillaz, and I'm off to sleep in a few minutes.

This hospital is really nice. Most of the staff are incredible. There is one eeeeeeevil thing going on here, though, and I have to bitch.

The one time I turned on the tv to find a news station (couldn't, but found about 8 sports channels) I learned the speakers are on the bed rails next to the ears of the patient. The patient can turn the sound off utterly, but not turn them down on a very low setting. I have no intention of turning it on again, so this won't be a problem.

What IS a problem is that the intercom system for the floor is piped through those speakers. So if Nurse Discoboy gets a call, Lilypad at reception will page him through this system, the dulcet tones of her not-ready-for-radio voice waking everyone up, whether or not their speakers are on.


I brought my clock-radio with ocean sounds, and I turn it up and listen to the ocean all night. About 4am, the nurses sound like a monkey-house out there. The loudness of the voice is directly proportionate to how annoying the speaker is, I've noticed.

So, yeah, the ocean drowns them. Will write more tomorrow.

Thanks for all the well-wishes, people. This has been a strange experience, yet has been oddly comforting, all the support of family, friends and all you sexy bloggers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

hospital not too bad.
food is not bad.
i.v. meds good.

wish the nurses believed in letting peopple sleep, though. they keep waking me up. feeling better.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Say "Hello" to my leetle frien'.

The doc moved my appt up to Monday and was concerned about meningitis. Ew. She quickly decided no spinal tap would be necessary.

Took blood for West Nile Virus thingie. She didn't hear congestion in my lungs, but sent me for a chest xray just in case.

Thank goodness. She called me as I was going home to inform me that half my right lung is a massive pneumonia. She said I could have died. Eep. She asked if I wanted to come back and be admitted to the hospital. I told her that I thought I'd recover more quickly in the comfort of my own home, but it looks like I'm going to end up in the hospital anyway. Jeepers. I'm really bummed.

I have to go back to the hospital the next 7 days anyway for a big antibiotic IV cocktail thingie, and, crap. I guess that's it. Maybe they'll have wifi there, but I doubt it. I'd better go pack my bag.

See y'all around the sandbox.

Monday, August 06, 2007

OK, this stuff is officially whupping up on yours truly, oh my darlings. Looked up West Nile Virus, and did a mini-freakout that I have all those symptoms except the rash. Delightful. My abdomen is so shredded by now that the only way I can cough is to curl up in a ball and help squeeze.

I've never been admitted to a hospital for anything in my life, but I thought sure I'd be going there before this weekend ended.

Mom called and left me a voice mail and said she knew without me telling her that the bastard (my word, not hers) shouldn't preach my funeral. She said she suspected his services would not be required anyhoo.

I swear I'm not normally a drama queen.

I'm like my dad, mostly. Dad had the flu once on a road trip when the alternator went out. What to do? Needs must. Dad changed that alternator in between bouts of projectile vomiting á lá Linda Blair, and all the while a passenger was haranguing him to get the car fixed. Then he got back in the car and completed the 10 hour drive.

So, anyway, if I take after pop at all, I'll kick this stuff's ass eventually. Unlike my father, though, I do reserve the right to whine about it. And I'll certainly be giving a piece of my mind to that jerk at my doctor's office. And I'll not be available in the immediate future for any alternator repairs.

That is all.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

OK, I'm still sick but I'm marginally improved, my status having gone to merely "crap" from the hammered variety.

My throat started feeling funny Sunday night, then felt mildly sore the next two days. Wednesday midday my throat was officially sore, my head was throbbing and my throat was scratchy. By 8:30 Wednesday evening, I was useless. All my bones, muscles and joints ached, and I could feel and hear the congestion in my lungs and sinuses, but my nose never ran. Thursday morning I actually went to work a couple hours, although I was miserable. Thursday night was VERY bad.

Friday morning I woke up with 102.6 degree temp and called my doctor. The useless reception person said they couldn't see me that day, and I asked if they could phone an Rx for Tamiflu to my pharmacy. He took a list of my symptoms, my contact info and the number of my pharm. He told me they wouldn't call in the Rx until after noon. About 1:30 I hadn't heard back from them, so I called the pharmacy to see if it was called in. It hadn't been. I called the doctor's office. Guess what? They close at noon on Friday. Bastard.

So I've been grappling with over-the-counter stuff, trying to find the perfect combination to bend the symptoms to my will, with little success. Tonight I had a bowl of Pho (Vietnamese soup) with an evil amount of Sriracha sauce, et voila! I have at last found a decongestant. At least my head is somewhat clear for the moment.

Anyway, this entire post is pretty much in the vein of whining. I feel like my ribs will snap off at any moment from all the unproductive coughing. I've pulled a couple abdominal muscles. Everything hurts, especially my ears.

Whatever this is, it's some evil stuff. Do all you can to avoid it. Trust me.

I actually told my mother on the phone yesterday "if I die of this stuff, don't you dare let that bastard **** preach my funeral. I'll come back and haunt you." Mom laughed. I was serious.

It's funny how perception slips sideways when you're really sick for several days. I have a clock that projects the time on the ceiling, and I remember waking up at one point in the night and wondering why my clock was now in Japanese characters.

I just hope I'm on the downhill slide. I sure wish I could have had some Tamiflu, though. Sounds like miraculous stuff.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Erik Friedlander's new cd Block Ice and Propane goes on sale August 14.

Great stuff.
Still miserably sick as all git-out. Thanks for the Tamiflu recommendation, folks.

Don't be surprised when Sean Penn runs for president someday. He went to New Orleans right after the hurricane and he's been to Iraq and now he's had a romantic rendezvous with Chavez in Venezuela. Jeff Spicoli, like, wants to be taken seriously. Anyway, he's building up his little CV and going on the record in support of totalitarians far and wide. And in case you didn't get it the first 50,000 times, he really, rilly hates George Bush.

Chavez said: "In the name of the peoples of the world, President Bush, withdraw the troops from Iraq. Enough already with so much genocide," to much applause from Penn. Apparently Chavez is ok with genocide so long as it's being done by Saddam or someone of a more domestic ilk.

I love this picture of Sean looking all intense with the little plaster on his cheek. I'm just going to imagine that's a piece of toilet paper where he nicked himself shaving. Classy!

Friday, August 03, 2007

I have managed to come down with some evil form of flu virus. I'm burning up one minute, and freezing the next. meh.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Blessings to all the folks touched by the Minneapolis bridge collapse, to all the rescue personnel, and to all the medical folks who will work in the coming days to save as many lives as possible.
Wow, that whole negotiation thing didn't work out for the South Koreans, did it? At least the magnanimous Taliban are allowing them to take the bodies of hostages home once they are done with them. Sounds like coming to the table for a non-American-style dialogue is not terribly productive.

"Anti-American sentiments by some elements are only helping the Taliban and justifying their atrocities," the Chosun Ilbo, the country's largest newspaper, said in Thursday's editorial.

With "anti-American sentiments" running so high, I wonder how they think the USA will help to expedite the process? Further, these people were on some kind of death-wish, having been warned not to go to Afghanistan by their government. I am sorry they are getting their chops busted, but how self-indulgent that they ignore serious safety warnings and now think everyone else should start to play nice and bail them out. It's a war zone, folks, not Disneyland.
Oh, I don't know if this was national news, or if it was just splashed about because it happened in Dallas, but a few weeks back, the 3rd Annual Women's Peace Conference was held in Dallas. Keynote speaker was Betty Williams, 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate from Northern Ireland. Williams was speaking to this conference allegedly convened for the purpose of exalting peace, and she thought it would be a great moment to mention she'd love to kill President Bush. Thanks, lady. We in Dallas particularly appreciate your giggling banter about what fun it would be to kill our president if there were no consequences, or if you could do it in a non-violent way! What could be more insensitive than joking about killing a president in a city in which half the population have living memory of that very event on our very streets? [I'd show you this conference clip, but for the life of me I can't find a clip on the net. Someone advise if you know where it is and I'll post it.]

Turns out, this is not the first time she's made such a statement. In October last year, she made the same statement to a group of school children in Brisbane Australia. Wow. So, um, let me get this straight: Williams doesn't feel there's ever any reason for other people or nations to go to war to defend a principle or ideal, but she's ok with killing another human being herself? Way to promote peace, bitch!

By the way, if a conservative or libertarian of such prominence ever made such a statement about a sitting Democrat president, there would be no end of the press coverage and there would be far and wide moral outrage and the media would be out for blood, from NPR to CNN. You know it's true. Heads would roll.

Now, everyone says something shitty every once in a while. We all have verbal di-reer occasionally, but this one is --to use an apt Irish expression -- beyond the pale. Considering she's made this statement before in public, it could not be considered a thoughtless, spur-of-the-moment slip. It was intentional, it was vile, and I think her nose need be rubbed in it, frankly. But it won't be.

She can say anything she wants, but Rush Limbaugh needs to be shut down.

Ironic, innit?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wow. August already? How'd that happen? I'm still bracing for the Y2K crisis. It can't be 2007.

Tuesday was super-muggy. Decked out in my best, I had to help guide two groups of prospective buyer investors around the property. Very nice people, actually. Several of them have been very unassuming - didn't seem like gazillionaires, though they all are.

One quite refined man said "how much if I just write a check today and take it off your hands? x million$?" I didn't gasp.

Later, I googled the guy and nothing on the internet told me he was very well-heeled, specifically, but I did learn from a jet-setter's blog that he's got a French Riviera beach house next to one owned by the king and queen of a European country. I'm guessing it's not a shack, then.

I've gotten a nibble on one of my craigslist joints, and just now I listed a couple small collectible items on eVILbay. We'll see what turns up.
I couldn't sleep Monday night, so at 3am I got up and sorted through some things and made a pile for goodwill and a bigger pile for the trash. Gosh, where does it all come from? I mean, I'm an inveterate junker and all, but I never thought I was a packrat. I just can't pass up kooky mid-century kitsch in the junk stores. There's something about finding a piece of collectible pottery signed by the artist in a junk store for .99. Music to my eyeballs.
Traffic-stopping bra and panties!

It's true. In Durham County, England (beautiful place, btw) someone flushed a bra and panties down the loo and it combined with french-fry grease and other non-flushables to clog the artery of the sewage system. In fact an entire 10 meters of road collapsed.

Also in England, a CCTV was set up to watch a particular spot to determine who was letting their dog crap there every day. Turns out it was a person. Ew.