Thursday, June 30, 2005
do pounds count?
granted it's not in us dollars, but i took the iq-income challenge offered up by the guardian. i've always hated iq tests ever since eighth grade when my science teacher forced me to take one so that the rest of my dorked junior high-high school life could be spent in shit like academic decathlon and gifted/talented quiz shows. however, because you all think i'm overpaid (hell, i think i'm overpaid) and i knew you wouldn't believe me, here's a screenshot of the results. (yes, i could've used photoshop, but i didn't. you'll have to believe me on that one i guess)
basically i missed 4 of the 25 questions which gives me an iq of 120+ and a cash/cleverness coefficient of 10 (maybe if i hadn't missed 4 questions i would know wtf a cash/cleverness coefficient means?). i guess i'll have to wait for my next 1.5 year review to bust this out.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
i'm pretty much getting wise to the fact that i say "pretty much" pretty much all the friggin' time. and i'm pretty much getting pretty sick of it.
new list of banned words:
another comic day waster to rival achewood. it even provides useful ideas for work.
filthy takes out batman. i'd say it was a pretty good movie. nolan's no slouch and i thought he did a decent job with the material. but then you read a filthy review and he's always dead on in his own vulgar, loveable way.
"Bale looks fucking ridiculous as Batman. He's moody enough in his regular clothes, but once he puts on his mask, his cheeks bulge out and he reminds me of people I've seen eating at Hardee's in Lincoln, Nebraska. Throughout the movie, he appears to be trying to outpout Hayden Christensen. Holmes is so damn lost she looks like she'd say yes if a gay scientologist asked her to marry him. Caine is having a fairly decent time as the butler. He even smiles, which is remarkable and probably required written approval from Nolan.
Two Fingers for Batman Begins. Fuck Hollywood for so readily bending over for the fanboys. They are the minority. Loud, sure. Annoying, yes. But they're the assholes who would rather steal from kids than grow up, and as long as the grassfuckers listen, we're doomed to more of the same juvenile shit."
Monday, June 27, 2005
moral lessons from herbie: fully loaded
- if you're lindsey lohan and your dad is michael keaton, you can pretty much lie about whatever you want with little to no repercussions (deception good).
- if you're matt dillon and you're the bad guy, lying creates a web of deception which allows you to nearly win the big race. i said nearly, matt (deception bad).
- you don't really have to know how to drive in order for herbie to win races. however, any prowess you do exhibit will help with covering up the fact that herbie is a near cousin to christine. and everyone will cheer and tell you what a good racer you are (deception good).
- you don't have to wear seatbelts (apparently, seatbelts bad).
recent disappointments, expected and unexpected
-the adventures of sharkboy and lavagirl in 3-D
-austin real world
-nine inch nails
Thursday, June 23, 2005
no circumcisions, but otherwise, available
well, it's official. i'm now a reverend in the universal life church. i became ordained in order to marry my two good friends, kevin and leeanne in the fall. i've given them plenty of opportunities to back out, but it seems they want this and i'm honored and humbled to do my part. i know what you're thinking. why didn't they pick me? well, because you're a punk-ass bitch and i have a wallet-sized card with my name on it. plus you've never thrown up on the side of kevin's car. that's bonding right there buddy.
[from the email ordination]
As a minister, you are authorized by the church to perform the rites and
ceremonies of the church (except circumcision), including weddings,
funerals, baptisms and blessings, subject to the laws of your country,
state, or locality. Prior to conducting any civil ceremony (such as
marriages), you should know and comply with the laws pertaining to your
area of jurisdiction.
You are entitled to all privileges and courtesies normally offered to
members of the clergy.
Your commitment is to always do the right thing. It is your responsibility
to peacefully and sincerely determine the right course of action, and to
avoid infringing on the rights of others. You alone are responsible for
your actions as a minister.
Monday, June 20, 2005
things i noticed in mexico
-within two days, every woman, grandmother and baby girl will have her hair braided like bo derek in 10. seriously. hair braiding must be the second largest industry down there.
-getting a decent mojito is harder than you might think.
-if you decide to eat the "surf and turf" in a non-resort restaurant where the waiter calls himself pancho villa, you can pretty much guarantee you'll be puking like an overturned mop bucket in the cancun airport.
-all inclusive means bring about $500 in cash.
-brits are truly the most obnoxious, drunken tourists. i mean hands down. brits, you win.
-they have no idea how to make unsweetened iced tea.
-during a big musical production i learned that the conquistadors interrupted some happy fun game where people hit balls with their hips and then the losers get executed or sacrificed or some shit. then the witch doctor danced around the conquistadors basically saying the equivalent of "fuck off" and "welcome" at the same time. then they all fight and dance and then pretty soon everyone's singing and presto whammo, you get mexico! bring out the mariachis. and those dancing girls.
-there are an inordinate amount of italians in playa del carmen. one of them told me he thought americans are stupid because we all know italy is shaped like a boot, but we don't know where it actually is. i told him that's not why we're stupid, but then i forgot to tell him why i thought we were stupid. it was actually at this bar that i found a pretty good mojito. which is from cuba, i know. cuba, shaped like a cigar.
-cozumel is pretty damn close, but it looks sort of far away when you're looking at it from the beach.
-did i mention the iguanas?
-i still don't know why dolphins are so smart. i asked the dolphin lady when we were swimming with them. "why are dolphins so smart?" i told her my son wanted to know, which was a lie. "yes," she said. "no, why?" i said. she nodded and smiled at me like i was crazy. i think she was italian.
-swimming in an underground cave sounds exciting and cool. swimming in a deep, freezing river through a dark tunnel with signs every so often that read "4,569 feet to exit" sounds like a cheap horror movie.
-if you ask "where's a cool bar in playa del carmen?" the answer will always be "carlos n' charlie's." if you then say, "no, like a different kind of cool bar. like not so touristy," they will then say, "senor frog's." sometimes these two will be switched around just to fuck with you.
-family vacation is an oxymoron. shirley said this before the trip. she didn't have the heart to say it to me while i was laying on the ground at the george bush international airport, shivering with that food-poisened ache, waiting for our delayed flight. "i was going to take a picture of you," she said instead, "but i can't kick a man when he's down." bless you, shirley.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
we're back, but i'm sick. montazuma got me good the last day we were there. nothing quite like having your youngest son yell out "dad, did you barf?" as you walk out of the bathroom and across the resort lobby. yes, you want to scream. yes, i did. and i will do it again if anyone talks to or touches me.
neal stephenson takes his shot at the star wars phenom. this reminds me a bit of lord of the rings. if you have no idea of the major/minor characters, various sub-plots, origens, etc. you're pretty much stuck with vegging out on the special effects.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
the blind bus and the mexican weekend bicycle club (and the moon)
- listening to the cd from the believer's music issue, which makes mike dickinson's taste in music seem mainstream. i've heard of maybe three of the fifteen artists on this thing. so far, vetiver's cover of be kind to me delivers on the odd-folk-hipster promise. i might ask thomas to play a cover of this cover when twa breaks out. william's got the drum bit down for this song. he's banging his head to the beat right now.
- thomas has concocted another club. this one is called the weekend bicycle club. membership in this club is highly exclusive. the premise is that we ride our bikes to a certain marker (the capitol, the mall, the poodle dog lounge) each day and this stands as our record for that day. the next weekend, we have to beat our record. so, for example, yesterday's record was the capitol. we rode down to the congress ave. bridge to beat the record. needless to say, at this rate, we'll be riding to san antonio by summer's end. one perk is that we tend to ride along or close to bus routes so, if we're ridden too far, we can always catch the bus back. last night we took the #5, which stops at the corner of our street. the #5 goes by the criss cole rehabilitation center for the blind so there are always a couple of blind folks on the bus. they carry long white sticks and tend to wear sunglasses. i'm never sure if this is entirely vanity or a need to block out any sensations that might cross their eyes. one guy eschews the glasses. he talks loudly about computers and unix. the others nod graciously. his eyes roll around the bus. i wonder about all the cliches they must get. super-sensitive hearing and the like. thomas leans in and asks me if he's looking at anything or if he is just seeing movies inside his eyelids. given that it's a rehab center, i'm guessing most of these people were not born this way. some accident, some misfortune occurred. and now they listen for dings, little chirping birds, a cough, an "excuse me," the feeling of the bus slowing down. "movies inside their eyes," i tell thomas. this is my cliche and here i am passing it on. the bus stops and they file off, the novices linking hands to shoulders, the more experienced moving their white sticks in the grass, feeling their way into the night that isn't really night and not day either. i wonder which colors they make up for the grass and sky. i wonder which movies i'd play. this would probably be one of them.
- in less than 24 hours, we'll be leaving for five days/four nights of lazing on the beach at playa del carmen. think of us there, lying in the sand, sipping tropical fruit libations, the waves lapping our feet, as you rise to face a day full of half-decisions (should i bring my lunch? should i quit?), and marvel that it is the same sun we both see, the same moon.
summer reading update:
i've finished four of the fifteen books i purchased for summer reading.
- the polysyllabic spree - as noted previously, this is a love letter to books written by the writer who brought us such straight-to-screenplay reads as high fidelity and about a boy. however, i can't remember reading anything that so closely approximated my feelings when reading a series of books; the way they interconnect in odd and unexpected ways, the way they still move me more than great music, paintings, movies, etc. like hornby says, i'll take literature nine times out of ten.
- the partly cloudy patriot - sarah vowell sits somewhere between david sedaris and p.j. o'rourke, but not really as funny as sedaris or as politically sharp as o'rourke. perhaps this was another case of over-hype. i expected her to be funnier. her main piece about the "geeks and jocks" of the 2000 election didn't quite connect for me. she's cute. and she sort of knows it. she seems on her surest footing when she's gushing over lincoln and the civil war. and, in this case, she is extremely persuasive and articulate. i loved the piece on travelling to gettysburg.
- the undertaking - the poet, thomas lynch, writes about his decades as a funeral director in milford, michigan. this is the best book on death, with the possible exception of c.s. lewis' a grief observed, i've read. it bogs down a little toward the end, but i think it's because the opening chapters are so gutwrenching/poignent. his piece linking the invention of the flush toilet (invented by a man named john crapper...no shit) to the removal of the funeral (from all signs of waste, decay) from our everyday lives is elegiac. be warned. i was sort of set up to believe this was a six feet under with gossippy/funny stories and high drama. it's really nothing like that show. not that the show is bad. i liked it quite a lot. but he might be the dad's alter-ego, speaking to us without the clever quips and half-cover-up zen koans, yet still shooting us straight. we don't know, but we know.
- ray - i devoured this on the plane to new york. hannah is the crazed alternative to percy, the literary in-bred cousin. i don't want to describe it (how can you describe an approx. 100-page book that shuffles between the same character living during the civil war, vietnam, and the present day?). go read it. now. if you don't love it, we have no traffic.
signs of the apocolypse via shirley: salado has a winery. or what will be a winery. i'm looking forward to the cowpie merlot.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
two airplane stories and garden state
well, we're back from nyc. whew. i'm still wiped if you can believe it. the book looks great. new york looks great. rob looks, well, rob looks older than me still, thank god. and somehow, everyone has taken up karaoke.
on the leg from atlanta to la guardia, there were several soldiers flying back home from iraq. one of the soldiers was sitting across the aisle from us. an elderly woman in front of us asked him questions throughout the trip. he was in the reserves and had been over in iraq for eighteen months. this was the first time he would be seeing his family in over twenty two months. he was a cop in his day job and lived in nyc. when we arrived, the stewardess announced that since this was the first time several of these men had been home in over a year, they were asking folks to stay seated in order to let the soldiers off the plane first. everyone on the plane spontaneously applauded. it wasn't polite applause. it was heartfelt and strange. people whooped. this was probably the closest i've ever been to something like that. when the seatbelt light dinged off, a bizdev jerkoff sitting behind the cop said, "OK, buddy, move it. C'mon, let's go. Let's go, guys." he seemed agitated, in a hurry to get off the plane. you know that sensation. the seatbelt light goes off, you hear that ding, and blammo, everyone's shoving each other like it's general admission at a who concert. i turned to stare back at him, but he didn't look my way. moment over. welcome to new york.
there's a thai restaurant in williamsburg called sea. i'm not sure how many of you have seen garden state, but this was the place they used to film that opening restaurant scene (where zach braff is a eyeliner-wearing waiter). it didn't really look like that restaurant except for the large reflecting pool in the center. the food was great once it was properly sorted out. initially, they brought lonanne an entire fish standing up on a plate, complete with eyeballs. she had ordered chicken. man, was that a close call.
boarding the plane to come back i saw richard ford sitting in first class. like an idiot i walked back up (holding up several other boarding passengers) and nearly yelled out "richard ford!" i can't seem to shake this habit of telling celebrities (or celebrities to me...he did win the pulitzer people) their names when i see them. he smiled and shook my hand. i rattled on a little about how much i appreciated his reading and q/a at texas state a few months back. he was gracious. he said he enjoyed it (how many of those does he give a year?)i could tell bizdev guy sitting next to him was trying to figure out who the hell he was. "anyway, see you around," i said. i'm sure he was thanking sweet merciful jesus i didn't hand him a manuscript. i did have a copy of mary gaitskill's bad behavior and thought about going back up to tell him how much i enjoyed it and blah, blah, fucking blah. fortunately, i fell asleep instead.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
bruce springsteen sucks
i'm sitting here on the eve of our trip to new york city listening to my two favorite bruce springsteen songs. as some faithful readers may recall, a story of mine got accepted into dirtpress quite some time ago and now they've gotten around to publishing a book with the same story in it. technically, this isn't my first publication. several of my poems were published in the southwestern literary review when i was in college. i still cringe when i go back and read some of them (how many struggling writers would show you their old poetry?). ok, let's consider this my first publication. so we're going to nyc for a party in celebration of the book and i'm sitting at the computer listening to bruce springsteen while lonanne tries on different outfits for the trip. every once in awhile she comes up behind me and yells "hey!" and i jump. "what do you think of this?" she says. "it's good. different top," i say. for some reason she listens to my fashion advice. even asks for it. i'm not sure what this says about me (or her), but we manage. sometimes she gets mad and tells me i'm stupid. this entire exchange could pose for several other conversations.
here's the deal with springsteen. i just got done with nick hornby's polysyllabic spree, a book about reading books, and he mentions several times how much he loves bruce springsteen. i loved the book so much (really, this is a laugh-out-loud, fart-under-the-covers, layman's guide to reading books with some of the best quotes on writing i've ever read) and generally agreed with just about everything he said, including things i didn't understand at all (like cricket), that i just had to give old bruce another shot. i mean, i once actually bought the ghost of tom joad so i'm not a complete atheist when it comes to springsteen. i was in eighth grade when born in the usa came out and i really did like that one song about being on fire. c'mon, you did too. with lyrics like this: "Sometimes it's like someone took a knife baby/edgy and dull/and cut a six-inch valley
through the middle of my soul?" and being in eighth grade and over at shawna johnson's house? you'd want a knife to cut you in half as as well. hell, you were a knife. but then there was also dancing in the dark and born in the usa and, well, nearly everything that came after. i mean to say that i've tried. and tried. but his melodies don't hold up for me. and his voice starts to grate. and all his songs really do start to sound like the same bad poems that somebody put some crap acoustic guitar behind. don't get me started on clarence clemons.
then it came on. atlantic city. off the nebraska album. that's the other song i like and goddamn if it didn't fuck me up all over. just when i was ready to write springsteen off for good, here's the song that reminds me, more than any song, of my dad. my dad's not from atlantic city. he was born in newark. and the song is really about some guy, down on his luck, trying to get his woman to meet him out at atlantic city. if you boiled this song down it would probably produce some sort of bruce springsteen cologne. it's got every aspect of every bruce springsteen song ever written. the down-on-his-luck loser. the faint cry for love and hope and redemption filtered through the jersey dusk. and something about blowing up a chicken man(?) but the last part, when he's nearly crying "well i guess everything dies baby that's a fact/but maybe everything that dies someday comes back," the last part springs a leak in me every time. and, of course, i'm thinking of my dad and how i'd written him off for good. how i'd wished him dead almost just so i could close that book for good. and now he's called.
the short story is he's recently remarried and living in fontana, california. he spent about three years living in a doorway in san francisco; living off welfare and ringing bells during christmas for the salvation army. then he met a woman who needed someone to watch her apartment while she was away in the philippines for over half the year. so he split the rent with her and got off the street. he called me because he was marrying a friend of this woman and he needed the divorce paperwork from harris county on his divorces (from my mom, from the lady previous to my mom, from the woman after my mom). i didn't want to help him at first, but i did. i also told him my mom had died. he seemed pretty shook up about it.
"oh, god, son," he said. "oh jesus." my dad's a great actor. he would freely admit this. he can act sympathetic with the best of them. but deep down, sometimes, i'm not sure what he's thinking. maybe he's thinking of sleeping in the doorway, drunk yuppies kicking him at 2 a.m. in the morning. or maybe he's thinking about that inane tire business he tried to start back in the summer of 1982. i helped him that summer. we'd ride around in his beater truck, pick up used tires from gas stations, and re-sell them to tire dealers for something close to a buck a tire. by the end of the day we were both covered in grease, but smiling still, his white teeth and my white teeth shining through our blackened faces. "shit, we're just selling other people's junk," he'd tell me, laughing. maybe that was the truest i ever saw him. but now, split by three states, i'm not sure what he's thinking.
"why didn't you call?" i asked him. "i mean before. why now?"
"i was angry," he said.
"about the money?"
"yeah. if you want the truth, yeah. i had to hitch hike to california with no money."
"serves you right."
"let me ask you something and i want the truth, ok?"
"i haven't lied to you yet."
"would you have called me if you didn't need these divorce papers? i mean would i have ever heard from you?"
"yes," he said. "yes i would."
i still don't know if he was telling the truth. i don't know anything about the man who raised me anymore. just the hazy truths of memory. he calls me though. we've talked several times. he tells me about his crazy homeless life and his new crazy life with this strange filipino woman. about getting his driver's licence for the first time in eight years and driving a car around. about giving up cigars for good and health exams. about learning things fresh. he's sixty nine years old and i'm thirty four and what we don't know could divide a continent.
"hey, i haven't told you this lately, but i love you," he said. i'm wondering what he's selling. he's probably thinking i'm wondering what he's selling. "really," he said.
"yeah," i said. "shit, i love you too."
but i still fucking hate bruce springsteen.