Katrina X

By special request, and for Eric Nelson: “A Curmudgeonly Supabowl”

Is it douchey? Laws yes. The woohoo girls and the bellowin', fightin', fuckin', fartin', drinkin', caterwaulin' frat-in-the-hat boys were circling my house at their fullest decibels until — well, I finally fell asleep at dawn, when, shortly after, I was awoken by the usual hullabaloo at Krayzee Kornurzz, but I can't ascribe the latter to the little sporty event this weekend, so let's move on.

Speaking of circling my house, there's been a helicopter running the perimeter of the French Quarter since about Wednesday. Whether it's NOPD or media, I don't know. Probably the latter. Yesterday, it hovered directly over my house for four straight hours. I was trying to do some dialogue editing. Soon gave that up. This is compounded by the prop planes droning hither and thither (more often hither) dragging their banners for G€i¢ø Insurance and other totally useless pitches. I think they're turning N. Rampart street into an airstrip, actually. I demand the IATA code of MAN for the Manderley Arëopuerta. (As I end this ¶, another helicopter seems to be landing in my back yard.)

Jackson Square, erstwhile known as "my backyard," has officially changed its name to Superbowl Village, no lie. It is the epicenter of all the media, full of TV vans and camera krewes. I'm scared to go over there, but I might have to if only to document the madness with my own camera.

My dog-walking park has been tented and roped off. There are chandeliers in the tents. I don't even want to hazard a guess what's going on in there. I'm sure I'm not vippy enough to qualify, though my dog is saving quite a steaming load until this is over.

Parking is beyond fuckèd. Three days ago I found a spot in the Treme, only a ten minute walk from the house. Yesterday, husBen had the brilliant idea of going out to a proper grocery store to get cat litter and other provisions too expensive to buy in the Quarter. "Better do it today as tomorrow we'll be really screwed!" As we walked towards the Treme and saw a long queue of cars being directed by the po-po out of the Treme — cars searching and failing to find parking — we reassessed our ambition as one perhaps too lofty for the current climate. No way would we give up our precious parking spot. (It occurs to me now we could have scalped it and made a tidy sum.) Plus, the idea of having to drive right past the Supadome was a thought rancid enough to curdle the very blood in one's veins.

And perhaps the most annoying thing about the Beyoncé concert the football game is that The Saints are not in it. So what the fuck is the point? (HusBen and I have chosen teams to hoot and holler for, albeit weakly. I'll choose Baltimore because I like E.A. Poe. He likes being gay, so it's SF all the way, though we're finding it difficult to be properly emotionally invested.)

There are a couple nice things about Supabowl. Our friend Dwayne rented out his house (for a mere $200/night) and is staying with us, so that is nice. He's a good cook. (We could have rented ours out for $2,000/night, but it would require removing all the animals, and rearranging the whole damn house, not to mention our lives. This droning helicopter is suggesting to me that we might have done well to have made the effort. Ah, hindsight.)

Also, the weather is absolutely fucking wonderful. We get, like, two weeks of perfect weather a year in New Orleans. This early February, weirdly, is one of them. Perhaps it will hold through Mardi Gras. If this is the manifestation of cataclysmic global warming, I'm all for it!

To sum: rah, for your local sporting team or preferred players. Enjoy New Orleans — we need your tourist dollars. But try to remember people actually live in this "pretty little Disneyland" as well, and refrain from micturating your steaming, colorless urine upon the properties, cheers.

Addendum: Ever the intrepid reporter, I ventured into the trenches to bring you these battlezone shots. I was actually dismayed that it was a lovely day, things aren't as bad as I thought, and there was a spring in my step. Imagine. Me. With a spring. In my step. I know, right?

I mean, it's still douchey out there, don't get me wrong.

We'll start with Bourbon St., which is looking very douchey today, but what's new there?
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I Will Not Defame New Orleans.

The Island of Misshapen City Gov't Officials

It's like a birthday. Or Christmas. It comes once a year. But instead of happy anticipation for the coming holiday, it takes a zen-like summoning of one's serene core (always assuming one has a serene core), or a cocktail of seratonin inhibitors, opiods and tranks, before embarking upon the adventure. And instead of exchanging presents, fusty paperwork, ID cards, and little forms are shuffled about from person to person. So it's really not like a birthday or Christmas at all. Je m'excuse.

Perhaps it's like visiting the principal's office — in the 1970s when adults could still hit little kids. And whatever wrongdoing landed you in that musty, faux-wood-paneled office with the sturdy, weather-beaten yardstick leaning ominously in the corner flies out of your mind as the terror of the forthcoming corporal punishment seeps out of your pores. You don't think, "I'll never do [insert whatever crime you were indicted for here] again." You think, "I'll never do anything bad, ever again! Just to be on the safe side, I'll never do anything! Period! I'll sit still and straight and not talk to anyone ever and eat my peas and oh god, I'll even be nice to my little brother just please get me out of here!"

Like a perverse perennial flower that blooms only in the dead of January, mocking nature Herself with its obscene and diseased stamen, if you live in the French Quarter of New Orleans, you'll need to renew that damned Zone 2 parking sticker in the New Year.

Happy fucking birthday. Now bend over and take your medicine.

I still have vivid flashes of last year's pilgrimage to the parking authority offices, in grainy black and white and a jittering frame, like a murder montage in a B-horror film. I cannot recall exactly what transpired, but there are isolated moments branded into my cerebral cortex.
  • The woman at the front desk who first scrutinized my paperwork, then loaned me a pen — in a hand from which every finger had been severed — pen wiggling like a larva in the nubs and stumps of her hand.
  • Sitting in the waiting room, flipping through obscure periodicals like, "Parking Today!" and "Living XXL" which sold products geared towards the sideshow-freakishly-obese. (Need a toilet seat that can hold 1,100 lbs.? Gotcha covered!)
  • The woman behind a desk in the voluminous white robe whose name must have been on the latter magazine's addressee line as mounds of roiling flesh consumed her chair, giving the appearance that she was hovering. And her mad cackle to the ceiling in an empty room was like something out of The Shining.
  • The considerably thinner yet still corpulent woman behind the two inch bulletproof glass who took enormous bites of her scramp poboy just before beginning each sentence, crumbs shooting from her mouth like birdshot. I questioned for whose protection the glass was installed.

I had come prepared with every piece of necessary (and many un-) paperwork that could possibly be required of me. Ms. Stubfingers still found some pedantic flaw in the pile of dull papers I offered her. I can't remember exactly what was missing, for we tend to block out traumatic experiences like childbirth, Gulf War syndrome, and renewing a Zone 2 New Orleans parking pass. Perhaps it was that I didn't have two utility bills. Or perhaps one of them was last month's. Whatever the cause, you cannot help but notice a subcutaneous smile of satisfaction when the legion of misshapen women get to say their favorite word: "NO!"

Yesterday was a beautiful January day in New Orleans. 67°f, azure skies, a dry breeze. Since there's no parking at or near the parking permit office (which in itself sets the absurd scene for how this place works), I decided to bike downtown. The fifteen minute ride would also give the fistful of pills I had taken time to kick in.

I locked my bike to a pole, extracted the sheaf of papers, and took a zen moment to find my Center. My Happy Place. My Zone (2). I repeated a mantra, "Like water off a duck's back, I will suffer the slings and arrows of The Women Who Say 'NO!' with equanimity. No one will pierce my armor of tranquility. I will keep a pleasant smile on my face, a pleasant tone in my voice, and be the change I seek."

On the eighth floor, I took a sip of water from the drinking fountain. Water cleanses — purifies — after all. Or, I tried to take a drink of water. When the button was depressed, a stream of water overshot the fountain drain and sent a well-aimed deluge directly into a live electrical socket on the wall.

I chuckled at Fate's ill attempt to thwart me, or electrocute me, before I had even reached the first office, sucked in a bolstering breath and sallied forward.

"Hello!" I said cheerily to the woman with wedding cake hair sitting behind the first window. "I'm here to renew my parking pass."

After a while, she looked up from her Oprah magazine, took me in with a cold, disapproving gaze and pointed to a scrap of paper that had been poorly taped to the counter listing requisite bits of bureaucratic proof one must bring to this appointment. "You got all dem papers?" she asked tapping the sheet. Her tone implied that seldom few ever did, and it was her pleasure to send anyone away with their tails between their legs if an item was missing.

"Yup! Sure do!" I said perkily.

She shot me a look of incredulity. "Give 'em here."

I handed over a driver's license, car registration, and a utility bill (current), all within their expiration dates, and all claiming the same French Quarter address, with what I hoped was an easygoing smile of camaraderie. "We're all in this together, sister," is what I tried to convey.

She looked up again, eyes squinting suspiciously as if I were some perp trying to pull off a con. "I gonna need a lease or a tax bill," she said, and was that a subtle note of vindication I heard in her voice? Why yes, I believe it was!

This was a new requirement — they change requirements every year, ensuring that The Women Who Say 'NO!' would always have a legitimate reason to do so. I had thought of bringing the tax bill I had just paid, but it was in my husband's name, so thought it would be useless. Instead I proffered a mortgage statement for our rental house with my name and mailing address, hoping she wouldn't notice the small print that said it was a mortgage for another property. My reasoning for bothering to bring that statement at all was, "Well, they may be pedantic, but they're also stupid."

She pored over the mortgage statement and my heart sank expecting a jubilant "NO!" to soon be uttered. "Be stupid. Be stupid," I willed her silently.

When I find myself in a situation that is beyond my control, or when I am cornered, insecure, or frightened (and I often am one or many of these things), I begin singing, just barely audibly, the song that the evil dead preacher sang in POLTERGEIST 2: "God is innnnn…his holy temmm…ple…" I don't know why I do this, but I always have.

I began that refrain now as the fate of the rest of my day hung in those tense moments.

"Awright. Go sit in dat office and fill out doze foams. Dere should be a pen on the table." She had missed the small print showing a non-French Quarter address.

Yesssss! I thought. She bought it! I felt dirty and criminal as if I were trying to get away with something I had no right to attempt, but then, that's the air of the room, isn't it. "Everyone's Up To Something, And We'll Find You Out!" should have read a sign on the wall.

I filled out my forms and handed them back. With reluctance, she signed off on them. I tried a gambit of social interaction, asking if she knew when today's Mardi Gras Krewes would roll, and where. "Afternoon," she said and added, "Uptown," picking up her 'O' magazine once again and waving me away to the next office.

At the drinking fountain, I checked the hall to make sure it was empty and turned on my camera phone. I pressed the water button and the shutter button simultaneously as another minion of the parking authorities suddenly appeared behind me.

"You takin' pitchers of dat water fountain!" she barked.

I jumped, blurring my photo, and said lamely, "Uh, no, I was just, uh, reading a text. Golly. Look at this thing. It's shooting water straight into the electrical socket."

The woman eyed me like a criminal, shifted her gaze to my phone, then back to my face. Finally she deigned to opine, "Dis city be all messed up," and continued down the hallway.

In the second office, I was glad to see that Jabba the Hovering Hut was not at the desk in her white robe, cackling like a witch at the ceiling. Things were really going my way today!

I approached the bullet proof glass and the woman at that station was innocent of scramp poboys. Or french fry poboys or fried erster poboys or any other large food items that could be used as oral ammo as she spoke to me.

I slipped the woman my paperwork. She turned around and mumbled something to the wall. Then spun and stared at me expectantly.

"I'm sorry?" I said, smile faltering, but still there dammit. "I … uh … couldn't hear you?" She threw daggers at me from her eyes. "There's this … uh … thick glass between us?" I added spuriously.

"I SAID," she said, "how you goan PAY fo dis!?"

"Oh. Card," I said, sliding a Visa through the slot.

"I gonna need some ID with dat," she said and pursed her lips in a how-do-you-like-me-NOW? manner. (If pressed for an answer, I would have had to say I did not like her very much at all, thank you.)

"Certainly," I said, smile still holding, but just barely. My serene inner core had taken just about as much erosion as it could for one day.

She sat at her computer and beeped and booped for a minute. Then she mumbled something else to the wall, waited a tick, and spun around expectantly again.

"Oh. Um. Sorry. Still can't hear you," I said. "The glass."

"I SAID," she said, "you got a camera ticket on yo' car!"

The camera ticket had been sent several weeks ago in error. I had written a letter of contention the previous week, but nothing had been processed yet, it seemed. I knew that she'd take the fact that I had the audacity — the temerity — the grapes to even try to fight a robot ticket as reason enough to say her favorite word: "NO!" So instead I mumbled, "Oh yah. I … uh … paid that three days ago. Must not've got the check yet."

She pondered that with squinting, suspicious eyes for a few moments ("Be stupid! Be stupid!"), then, to my utter surprise, spun back around to the computer and continued booping and beeping.

Heh. "I paid it three days ago." Puh-leeze. Three days ago, I was at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris with my husband, soaking up some of the most beautiful art in the world. I closed my eyes and took a little memory vacation back to France. My armor was almost translucent. One more slight tap to it and I felt certain I'd get all Ike Turner up in dat piece.

Again, under my breath, I sang, "God is innnnnn…his holy temmm…ple."

She came to the bulletproof glass and slipped two visitors passes through the slot and explained: "Dis one be yo visitor's pass."

She seemed to be waiting for some kind of response. "The one that says 'VISITOR'?" I asked and she scowled.

"Dis one be fo yo car." It also said 'VISITOR'.

"What happened to the sti…"

"We don't do the stickers no mo!" she explained cryptically and stared at me, daring me to rub up against her … grille? Is that what one rubs up against in such contentious situations?

"Hmm," I said, not wanting to tape a relatively large piece of paper in my windshield for the whole year. "Why'd they stop the stickers?"

She rolled her eyes. In what sounded like one like word she said, "I-dunno-must-be-too-'spensive-or-some-shit."

"Well that's interesting," I said, "since two years ago it cost $25 for the pass and the sticker, and now it's $55 — more than double, right? — and they can't afford the stickers?"

She looked at me as if I had just spoken Swedish to her.

"NEXT!" she shouted through the glass.




  • malfeasance: the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified.
  • misfeasance: the wrongful performance of a normally lawful act; the wrongful and injurious exercise of lawful authority.
  • nonfeasance: the omission of some act that ought to have been performed.
I Will Not Defame New Orleans.

Simon Says

The best, and rarest kind of film is the kind that you watch, sit and think about when it's over, try to figure out if you loved it or hated it, then find that three days later you're still thinking about it, which means, ipso facto, that you loved it.

Take the splatter B-film SIMON SAYS, 2006, starring Crispin Glover, available on the Netflix streamy-thingie, and added to my queue blindly, because I was in a horror film mood, and Crispin's my dream man.

Twenty minutes into the film, I thought, Christ, this film is awful!, and I walked away from it for a bit.

The nature of its awfulness drew me back, since it was so terrible, I thought it might fall into that wonderful rare category mentioned above.

What we've got at the opening is the standard 80s slasher flick setup: mismatched high school kids in their 30s headed for the woods for a debauch; creepy gas station attendant and small town folks being creepy, creepily; flashbacks that should serve as exposition but are so garbled and affected it's really just the director's moment to shine as an art film dropout. Oh, and fog machines.

This is so cliché, I thought, groaning at the motivation and lines from the "teens," all suspiciously beautiful and half undressed even in the van. But maybe it's supposed to be cliché! I dared to hope. It is, after all, a Crispin Glover film, and his strength is that you can never really tell if he's kidding or not. Just ask David Letterman.

When watched through those rose-tinted glasses, the film suddenly became a sparkling gem.

To call the characters two-dimensional is an insult to a square. As we meet the kids driving to the woods to "pan for gold," (not joking) in the stoner's VW van so plastered with hippie stickers it can only be farce, they pontificate, "What if we do strike it rich?" which leads to informative glimpses into each personality.
  • Stoner: I'd buy the seaquarium [sic] where Shamu lives? And make a bong out of it.
  • Virgin: First I'd buy a tan. Then maybe travel for a few years, buy a house, settle down…
  • Spoiled rich bitch: I'd save the animals.
  • Slut: I would buy a set of boobs, then a really hot convertible, then a bigger set of boobs.


They pull over to an abandoned gas station, meet Crispin who Crispins it up for them, freaking the kids out, meet some local gravediggers who warn them about the murders and urge them to turn around…

Creepy Crispin


…does this sound familiar? Not in a general way, but in a specific way? Ever seen CABIN IN THE WOODS, that brilliant love letter to the 80s slasher flick genre, which blatantly names each of the five archetype "teens" like this?


Well, Act I of CABIN is a direct homage to Act I of SIMON, which is an homage to the classic genre of non-camp films in the 80s.

The kills in SIMON really are imaginative. Pickaxe catapults, death by Fattie, poodle-stomping, and believe it or not, the human CD player. To up the body count, we stumble nonsensically upon some paintball warriors in the woods who serve as gore material, and there's lots of it.

I kept pausing the film to read "reviews" (mostly by trolls screaming, "THIS MOUIE IS AWEFULL!") I wondered if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing — a well done, thinly-veiled spoof. A few people got it; the unwashed masses missed the point, in their usual unwashed way. Crispin's tarted-up, over the top redneck accent is so unbelievably bad that it just has to be on purpose. There's no other credible explanation.

In fact the whole film is so unbelievably bad (yet shot so gorgeously) that, after some deliberation, I've decided I love it — perhaps because I initially hated it. And that is the rarest, most delightful kind of film.

Dead Blue Dog

Enjoy the Silence

I had a late screening last night of a film I worked on. HusBen had an early wake-up call for jury duty, so before I left the house and he went to bed, he asked me to, "Text me where the car's parked so I won't have to wake you up in the morning."

A sweet thought, I thought. It was hard to stifle a smile though — I know how these things work out. Ben's attempts at quietude invariably make him louder, and the more carefully he tries for order, the more entropy erupts. I don't think Anne Frank would have had the chance to write in her diary as much as she did if Ben had been holed up with them in their attic cupboard in Amsterdam. The Nazis would have hit that house first for all the chaos emitting from it.

I was kind of looking forward to seeing (or hearing, pardon me) what would happen this morning, for it's a rare occurrence that I'm not the first one awake, and I find my darling's solicitous attempts at courtesy high-fucking-larious. So I was a little disappointed when his shower was uneventful. I was vaguely aware through the haze of sleep that there was someone taking a shower. I waited expectantly for the shower mirror to come crashing down, or a slip-and-fall episode followed by a spate of cursing, or something! Sorely let down. I resigned myself with a disheartened sigh to sleeping in.

In retrospect, I'm guessing it may have been the aerosol deodorant that eventually set it off, though I wouldn't testify to that in court. Our fire alarms sometimes go off for reasons unfathomable. They're all tied together, so when one goes off, they all go off, emitting an ear-piercing bleep! in every room of the house. "Here we go!" I thought with tired glee.

"Shit!" I heard my cherished mutter from somewhere in the front of the house as he went into the laundry room to get the broomstick, knocking over a clatter of god-knows-what in the process, which resulted in another, "Goddammit!"

This is gonna be good, I thought.

The first tricky bit about our fire alarm system is that to turn off the screaming bleep! you have to use a wobbly broomstick to tap the small button on the apparatus affixed to the underside of the twelve food ceiling — a long way up. Like the old game Operation, it takes a very steady hand. Ben's not too clumsy — except when he's trying not to be clumsy — so the 'Operation' was a failure and the broomstick stabbed impotently at the ceiling: thump, thump, thump.

The second tricky thing about the system set up, and the part that can be really annoying, is that only the fire alarm that first sensed the potential threat can turn the others off! Usually it's the one in the kitchen, reacting to blackened chicken smoke that didn't go up the vent hood, or something else obvious. But on those occasions where the things go off for no discernible reason, you have to wander the house with the broomstick, hitting every button until you find the right sensor.

In my half-awake/half-asleep state, I followed Ben around the house by listening from where the next clunking stabbing of the broomstick came, and the inevitable, "Shit. Goddammit. Fuck." It seemed to my dazed mind that he must have hit every fire alarm button in the house — twice — and the thing was still going off.

"This is a particularly beautiful attempt to leave the house quietly," I thought happily as I pulled the blankets over my ears to muffle the screaming bleep! I relaxed to 'watch' the show.

What seemed like 40 minutes later, I took pity on my poor husBen and went to turn off the fire alarm. I had noted that if he had hit every room in the house to no avail, then he probably forgot there was one in my back-back office, next to the bathroom and, thus, the aerosol deodorant. I got up, went to my office with the lowest ceiling in the house, pushed the little button with my finger, and the house fell into silence once more. Ben was in the front of the house stabbing willy-nilly at walls, cupboards, cats, who knows what else. I don't think he ever knew why the alarm shut off.

"Good show, good show," I silently applauded Ben as I crept back into bed and closed my eyes. But the show must, and did, go on.

It was time to dress. To dress, one must first extract clothes from the bureau. Ben's bureau is about as old as he is, but not in quite as fine shape. On a good day, pulling the drawer open causes a squeal of pain from the sad old wood. It's a little loud, but over quickly. Ben knows this, of course, so tries to do it quietly when I'm asleep. Which, as you could probably guess, causes the squeal of pain to turn into an elongated howl of agony and wrenches of desperation as the frame of the drawer shifts to the diagonal, and you have to 'walk' the drawer out, wiggling it back and forth: screech! squeal! crunch! choke! scrape! Oh, that's not the drawer containing the clothing you were looking for? Better shut it again, but for god's sake do it quietly! Push. Squeal. Crunch. Squeak. Crash. Ben deflects attention from the agonized bureau by muttering of a stream of cursing over the sound effects. The louder the drawer, the louder the litany.

Next drawer, same thing.

Third verse, same as the first.

Oh wait, I guess the socks were in the top drawer. Back to one, from the top, people. Take two!

Squeal! Crunch! Scrape! Break!

Of course I'm wide awake now, and trying hard not to laugh. It's important to continue to feign sleep for a couple reasons: I don't want to hurt his feelings, and by faking sleep I like to think I'm giving him the illusion of being quiet. As if, after setting off the fire alarm for an hour and a half and prying the bureau open with a crowbar and hammer, he can still think, "Well, Todd's asleep. It's a job well done I guess! Damn I'm good! Stealthy, even! I'm Ninja-Ben!" But more important than my one-and-only's pride is my own sustained amusement — the moment it is perceived I'm awake, the attempts to be quiet will surcease, and actual quiet will recommence. And that's no fun!

This morning's show wound down to a rather anticlimactic end, with just the usual minor scuffs and bangs and expletives following Ben out the door. I began writing my theatre review in my blanket-covered head: "Despite a deflated ending, I have to give this play a big ole thumbs-up for its surprising opening alone. Act I rivaled some of his better works to date, like his world renewed classic thriller, 'Emptying the Dishwasher'. What theatre-goer can forget the shocking cacophony of smashing dishes and the poetic carpet of obscenities woven throughout that masterpiece? That play won seven Tonys…"

I was drifting off to sleep when an ambulance screamed by the house, jarring me awake again. In my mind I reopened my review and amended it: "Retraction! When I complained about Act II's less-than-noteworthy ending, I hadn't anticipated the twist at the end! In a stroke of absolute genius the likes of which this reviewer had never anticipated, the playwright dazzled the audience by deliberately getting into an automobile accident on the next block, throwing in the howl of cops and EMTs to close the farce, inevitably to the roar of a standing house, crying, 'Author! Author!' and throwing Tiffany's diamonds onto the stage!"

I fell back asleep, smiling, loving my husBen for taking the trouble to wreck the car and perhaps harm himself for my amusement. I'll never find another like him, I sighed happily as I fell back into slumber.

Then the construction site at Krayzee Kornurzz next door began. A band saw's whine, its abrupt cut-off, and a howled line of, "Fuck! Godammit! Give me the … fuckin' … three-quarter-inch … it's RIGHT FUCKIN' THERE, DAMMIT! Fuckin' … fuck …"

They try, Krayzee Kornurzz'zz Kooky Konstruction Krewe, every morning, to put on a good show, but really, no one can follow my Ben, who shall forever remain the love of my life.
Foot Foot

Mad Libs

I came across some old “Bar Libs” I made for Leila, Candace and the krewe at Lounge Lizards back-in-the-day. You should do one and post it somewhere. They’re fun.


APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENT

Dear Leila,

My name is Mosquito.

I would like to apply for a job as a shoe shine boy at Lounge Birds.

I used to hang out at The Hot Danish Pastry back in the day. Maybe you remember me? I am 9,999,999.99 feet tall and have precise eggshell hair that I usually tie up in a heart failure. I wear mincing clothes that make me look more teetering than I really am. My boots are always droll, but most people know me by my unique tongue piercings, which really define my style.

Candace used to kick me out for bathing at the bar. There was a picture of me on the Laundry Chute of Shame where Rufus and I were ignoring smorgasbords.

I've been with my parents in Minsk for a year recovering from a Flintstone’s multivitamin problem I had, but no more of that! I'm unforseeable!

I used to work at Harrah's casino as a bean counter but I got fired for forgetting at work one too many times. But they'll still give me a good reference.

I can work any hours between 88 and zero o'clock.

I love your bar because it's so scarred! All my bereft friends would totally come see me on my shifts.

My drink specialties are a super-fuscia-headed baby, which is a shot of Bailey's with a splash of placenta goo and served weeping. Also, Marcy gave me her secret recipe for a vermillion mother-tugger, which are always a hit.

If you hire me, I promise I won't blossom the customers or gestate on the job.

Leila, you have got to hire me! I'll take anything! I'll even be your forensic pathologist! I really need a job bad because my landlord is threatening to peep me next month!

Call me! Jusqu'à la prochaine!
Ryden Reader

Fighting Stupid

Fighting Stupid

I have a filter on my web browser that suppresses certain kinds of responses from the public in the comments of a YouTube page, an Amazon review, and other places where the Unwashed Masses are given free reign to pollute the web with bad spelling, excessive punctuation, and general stupidity. While I appreciate the work this filter does, sparing my sore eyes and sad brain from being accosted by the insipid utterings of the nearly-retarded, I do take umbrage at the filter's name: “Comment Snob”.

It bothers me that having standards — almost any set of standards — will result more often than not in accusations of 'snobbery' or 'elitism' and other la-di-dah pejoratives on the web and in real life, though in the latter case it's generally not said to one's face.

When did it become a crime to bring up a serious topic in the World At Large, or pose a question to which there may not be an answer, but that would spawn an intelligent conversation? I'm sorry, too lofty? Too 'snobby'? What about a simple exchange of ideas? Even this tepid goal, attainable by the dimmest of dullards, is on the decline. Need an example? It's an election year. How many people on one side or the other actual listen to an opponent's idea and give it its just day in court? I'm not just talking about internet trolls, but even people within your own life — people to whom you would not think to apply the word 'stupid'? And yet their minds are closed to unfamiliar processes and ideas.

Why is it abnormal to challenge oneself? Why is it read as a sign of weakness to question oneself? I'm very suspicious of people who claim to know anything beyond the shadow of a doubt. People who have cemented convictions in such slippery subjects such as religion, politics, and your more squirmy ethical dilemmas may deduct 25 points off their I.Q. on general principle. The audacity of 'knowledge' — bah!

Conversely, I don't think we as a society are treating deliberate stupidity with quite enough firmness and disapproval. Of course it's hilarious to scan the nominees of the Darwin Awards, watch any movie with Adam Sandler in it, or marvel at the nadir of intelligence and taste encapsulated in Honey Boo Boo. I'm not suggesting we do away with enjoying some good ole' stupidity from time to time. Life is a buffet, and creme puffs are delicious! But so is, say, turkey, and it's probably a bad idea to eat more sugary pastries than a protein-rich meat.

Did you see one of the more recent South Park episodes that dealt with Lowering The Bar, and focused, incidentally, on Honey Boo Boo and her popularity, and exalted her as a spokesmodel of what's entertaining? It was pretty insightful, actually. Go look for it if you missed it. (Let's not even think of how sad it is that South Park is a more reliable moral compass than, say, network news.) The episode lamented how low our standards have sunk this century, and then asked the question, "But what can I DO about it?" It's easy and cathartic to bitch and rant on a silly blog on the silly internet about how dumbed-down the country has become, but once the catharsis has faded away, the next logical step would be to ask, "What can I DO about it?"

Probably not much. I'm just a little person, a bug on the face of the planet, scuttling about my little life as are most of us. Just having the ability to leave a YouTube comment in full grammatical sentences does not make me a great intellect. I'm reasonably intelligent, sure, but susceptible to the over-saturation of Stupid with which we are confronted thousands of times a day, from sub-standard music, to television (particularly 'reality' shows), to political rhetoric and speeches written so those who dropped out of fifth grade can sorta understand, to the constant stream of advertisements that bombard us at every turn. Not watching the news is a great way to hack off a lot of the fat, but I still live in this country. And use the internet. I've allowed myself to accept the level of Stupid I've been presented with.

Key phrase: I've allowed myself…

It's time to wean off Stupid, mes frères, mes sœurs! Listen to my proposition. Don't worry, you're not going cold turkey. You can still have your Jersey Shore or whatever your guilty pleasure is (and if it's such a 'guilty' pleasure, shouldn't you try and keep it on the DL instead of wearing it as an ironic badge?).

For every minute you spend reading, hearing, watching, consuming something Stupid, you must spend an equal number of minutes reading, watching, doing, making, or thinking something Smart.

An equal number of minutes! I'm not even asking you to spend more time on Smart than Stupid. You still get to dive merrily into a political flame war on some retarded forum on the internet, as long as when you're through, you do something Smart — like question your own convictions that you just spewed forth on that forum — play devil's advocate — search for weaknesses in your "argument" and consider polar opposite points of view.

For every half hour of "Desperate Housewives of Wherever" that you watch, watch a half hour of Carl Sagan's NOVA, or a few of these clever presentations on TED Education.

And hey, I didn't mean to bash so hard on Honey Boo Boo. She and her awful family are important pointers to who's the lowest common denominator. So watch the travesty of Honey Boo Boo, wince at their white trash drawl, but then spend half an hour listening to your own voice, your own accent, and consider how you may be judged by others due to the cadence of your speech.

Then spend thirty minutes learning an unfamiliar language.

There are hundreds of ways we can improve ourselves every day. Education, practice of a physical craft or skill, examining our prejudices and convictions. If you're as sick to death of Stupid being the accepted status quo, the best thing you can do is to make damn sure you're not contributing to the pollution.

After all, it's the ones who think themselves the most righteous that are always the most wrongeous.
Stamp

A Boy and His Dog

A Boy and His Dog

Since about January I've had the idea bubbling away on a back burner that I'd like to take most of August and drive backroads to my lake house in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York, just me and my dog.

Ben was not disinvited, but it's hardly his idea of a good time, weaving around small towns and ending up in my funky cottage which is crawling with, as he puts it, "little tiny scary things."

The ultimate goal was to meet Ben in New England and continue on to Provincetown on the tippy-tip-end of Cape Cod. Which is from where I now address you.

Rather than rambling on about the trip thus far, let's have us a little show n' tell, what?

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Damn I'm Nasty

Krayzee Kapurzz, Pt. MCXXXVII

Have I been remiss in reporting on the refined, etiquette-driven antics of the finishing school dropouts next door at Krayzee Kornurzz? Did you think that anything has been resolved, improved or scrubbed up in any way due to my failure as a journalist? Oh ye of little cynical faith…

Just a sampling from the Krayzee Buffet then, to whet your app. These stories have all taken place within the last 48 hours, just to give you an idea of the frequency of their high jinx.
  • Walking my dog at 3:00am on Friday night, I saw the portal to hell gate to Krayzee Kornurzz was wide open — about as wide open as the mouth of one of its denizens who was choking and gagging on a rather impressive horse cock, said horse having leaned his back against a parked car to better find his thrusting leverage.

    But here's the trashy part (I know, right?)—

    Señor Caballero's amigo was standing two feet away, watching the demonstration, presumably because he was next. ¡Ándale!

    "Classy!" I said as I walked by with the dog. The whore's rhythm didn't flag for a second.

  • Last night my friend Pamela came by with her friend Erika. Pamela, having stayed with us many times, knows what's what next door, and she and I began explaining the nature of the blighted tenants who live in that blighted property.

    The ladies left the house to go buy some champagne. I was sitting on the stoop, again with my dog. The Screamer* came down the street carrying a large, heavy, old-skool tube TV. Pamela and I gestured towards this antiquated hardware and asked of Erika, "See? Whaddwe tellya?"

    "I wager that TV will be back out on the street, cluttering up my front stoop within the week."

    Pamela laughed and agreed.

    This morning, I found this outside my stoop:


    Can I call it or what?

  • This morning as Pamela, Ben and I were enjoying coffee and kaffeklatsch in the kitchen, we couldn't help but notice the roar of power tools coming from Krayzee Kornurzz.

    What kind of mess are they making now? was my first thought, but was quickly squelched by the next thought: Wait! Power tools? That implies improvements of some sort. DOES NOT COMPUTE! ERROR IN LOGIC! BEEP BEEP BEEP!

    I looked out the window and found that they were raising the bit of our shared fence just inside the portal to hell front gate, presumably to keep the crackhead fence-jumpers from climbing onto their property (via my fragile gate).

    This is fine with us, we all said.

    Shortly after, I went out to walk the dog and saw the other side of the — I guess they'd call it a "fence?" — that they had — I guess they'd use the word "built?"

    I took a picture of it and sent it to Ben, with the comment: It looks like a 14 year old's treehouse.


    Why buy materials when you have perfectly decent scraps littering the courtyard?

  • And speaking of scraps littering the courtyard, Mosquito Woman** was — I'd guess she'd call it "tidying up?" — in the courtyard today while I was enjoying a smoke on the deck that borders that haven of insanity.

    She was humming to herself — a crazy little tune that reminded me of the inmate's "I Come To The Valley" song at the end of the John Waters' film FEMALE TROUBLE.

    How nice. A little cleaning up in The Clampet's cesspit of a white trash landfill, I thought.

    Of course, not even sweeping could be accomplished at K.K. without someone (besides me for once!) threatening to call in the po-po.

    Mosquito Woman started screaming at Crackwhore CINDAYYYY! about how she never cleans her mess. CINDAYYYY! responded with the nonsensical mantra, "Payback's a bitch," over and over and over while her john gentleman friend The Screamer threatened Mosquito Woman, who threatened to call the five-oh.

    This argument went on for about 30 minutes (I recorded most of it, of course), and I sincerely hoped it would come to fisticuffs for two reasons: a) I sincerely wish bodily harm upon anyone blighted enough to live at K.K., and b) it would make this story more complete.
As I have been writing this, there is a rare moment of mirth and merriment erupting from K.K. Several of them are whoopin' it up in the courtyard, but it sounds to me like the mad cacklings of any cliché 80s film set in an asylum.



*"The Screamer" is the gentleman friend of crackwhore CINDAYYYYY!, so named for her name being screamed outside our bedroom window at 4am with annoying frequency. By The Screamer.

**So named for the pitch and timber of her voice and its close resemblance to the whine of a mosquito in one's ear. And the fact that just looking at her makes one want to slap her.
Canned Ham

Egg Salad

Here for your perusal, and my own reference, is…

Todd's Super-Delicious Low-Carb Egg Salad*

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 large eggs (or 11 med.), hard-boiled & peeled
  • ½ – ⅔ c. mayonnaise
  • 2 bunches green onion, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 lg. jalapeño pepper, de-seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ yellow or orange pepper, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 5–7 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. dried tarragon
  • ½ jar Zatarain's Olive Salad (Or, if you can't get that…)
  • 1 – 1½ tbsp. white vinegar
  • ½ tsp. salt (Note: if using olive salad, omit the vinegar and salt)
  • 1 – 1½ tsp. white pepper
  • 2 tsp. paprika

PREP:
  • Smash each peeled egg with a potato masher once. Continue to mash the eggs until in medium–small pieces
  • Add all the stuff and toss like a salad.
  • Chill for a couple hours.
  • Eat.
  • Send me a royalty check.


Of course if you're a pussy you can ixnay the jalapeño. And if you're a total pussy you can forgo the raw garlic, but you're off my Xmas card list if you do.

I'm on Atkins at the moment, and this is fully compliant, assuming you don't put it on bread. It's delicious enough to eat with a fork out of a bowl though.

While it's sad to have egg salad not on toasted rye (or whatever bread you prefer to make a sandwich), it's sadder not to have any egg salad at all.



*NOTE: This recipe works well for chicken salad also! Simply swap out the eggs for 3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into small cubes.