Friday, September 19, 2008

Dude. I'm totally being stalked by Opera Man

I'm seriously considering starting to buy my event tickets with cash at the box office, and in a disguise. Because I've bought tickets to a few cultural events in Dallas, I'm on every freaking artsy-fartsy sucker list in town. I get the ballet. I get the symphony. I get at least 4 different theater companies. No, wait. 2 symphonies. Dallas and Fort Worth. And various one offs like Ballet Folklorico and those Japanese drum dudes. So, now the Dallas Opera is starting the fall campaign. I've had 2 mailings at my place. Two at my parents place. One a friend got and handed to me, because I like that stuff. And I just got one at work that was for a former employee.

So every time I turn around in the last 3 days, I see this guy. He's the poster boy for the opera's ad campaign this year. And there he is everywhere I look, big as life. I swear to god it's like being stalked through the postal service.

Well, forget it, Opie. I don't like opera. I don't care if you do have eyes like fields of clover. People singing at the top of their lungs in a foreign language in ridiculous costumes for $50 a pop isn't my idea of a fun Saturday night. I could go to a drag show to get over-the-top costumes for that price. And get 2 gin and tonics. And it would be in English.

Egg-specting Too Much?

You know, I'm starting to get a little hacked off by the bail out for the big financial companies. No. A lot hacked off. A lot.

You hear people piss and moan about welfare mothers having a bunch of kids just to get a bigger check. Okay. Yeah. That would be wrong. Gaming a system set up to help those in genuine need is bad.

But tell me what exactly is the difference between gaming welfare and what the people on Wall Street did? They all invested in bad risks, buttressed their bad risks with bad insurance, and asked for more money so that they could keep on doing the same thing. And collected big paychecks while they did it. Big. BIG. And these people aren't stupid. They're hot shots, with fancy degrees from fancy universities. They couldn't be surprised that their house of cards got knocked down. That didn't stop them building a couple extra floors on it. Bastards.

So who's going to pay for it? The trillions of dollars that it will take to pull this bird out of the nosedive? That would be the American taxpayer. Who would be . . . me! The same me who is currently watching her retirement fund circle the drain. Bye-bye, money, bye-bye. Like I'm not already paying for a couple of wars that I didn't really want either.

And the taxpayer would be you, too. I'm assuming that nobody reading this is a blood sucking financial wizard. (And if you are - kiss my ass, you morally vacuous slime-demon.) We're just the average Americans who have average jobs and pay an average tax that fixes the of people who own yacts so that they can visit their money in off-shore accounts.

It's happened before. And, if any candidate could come up with a workable plan to make sure that people that cause these messes don't get the chance to do it again, I'd vote for them. Because this is behavior that borders on depraved in difference, and does more to endanger the future of ordinary Americans than any terrorist toting a dirty bomb. And frankly, I'm getting tired of it. Black Monday? Enron? Any of this ringing any bells for anybody? Possibly if I was in a position to make gazillions of dollars by running a company into the ground, I might feel differently about this. But this is unlikely to happen, and I'm going to be lucky if I can work until a couple of days before I die, and still have enough money left over to cover my cremation costs. So what I'd really like is for somebody to stop the titans of industry from playing egg toss with whatever little nest egg I'm able to scrape together. I know I don't have a $90 million egg. But I'd still kind of like to keep it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trickie Treats

Lately, I’ve been starting to suspect that the family tendency towards diabetes is starting to creep up on me. My blood sugar is starting to go whonky on me occasionally. So I started making a few adjustments: I eat smaller meals more frequently, I try to make sure I’m eating a better blend of fats, proteins and carbs (carbs were kind of taking over the joint), added cinnamon and chromium to my diet. With the cinnamon it’s hard to tell if it’s doing any good. But heck, it’s cinnamon and it tastes good. Can’t lose there.

The chromium, however, is in pill form. And it’s supposed to take about 3 months to really show effects. Mainly, it’s supposed to help with sugar metabolism and cut sugar cravings. The second of which I could really use, cause I get mad sugar jonze. Not all the time, but there are moments when I could start freebasing pixie sticks. It’s probably too early to tell, but at 3 weeks, I found myself last night wrestling with a recalcitrant Twizzlers wrapper, muttering “Give me candy, damn you.” Possibly not a good sign.

Of course, I’ll give it the old college try. There’s no point in trying a supplement unless you’re willing to give it a fair shot. And I’ll need all the help I can get through the psycho sugar freak’s Halloween Danger Zone. But if by Christmas I’m not able to resist diving head first into Mom’s traditional Tupperware Box of Magical Treats, it might be time for stronger measures.

Wear it out

My niece was asking me, "What kind of styles were the 90s?" Frankly, I was stumped. I was young, or at least youngish, during the 90s. I should be at least somewhat familiar with the key/iconic looks. But I got nothing. Grunge, maybe? That was late 80s/early 90s. Kind of. Hammer pants? Or was that late 80s again? And I can't come up with much on mid to late 90s. Bootcut pants? Vintage brooches? Strong highlights? As a child of the 80s, what's a few highlights compared to mall hair? Or neon bicycle shorts? Well, I guess you could say Goth. Goth was pretty big. But we had Goths in the 80s. We just called them Cure fans.

And maybe that's part of the problem. The 80s styles were so strong (not good, necessarily, but definitely identifiable), that the 90s seem kind of anonymous. The 90s were more about not doing something ugly, rather than doing something that might be ugly but was definitely different. Which is a safe way to go. But it definitely doesn't make for an unforgettable style moment. In the 80s when we went for a trend, we went for it. Balls to the wall. Caution to the wind. Sure we have embarrassing pictures to show for it. But secretly, we're kind of proud of them.

Perhaps that should serve as a lesson to the children of the 00s. Make the clothes of your teen years something to remember. Be bold. Be brave. Wear things that will make your kids laugh some day.

Life's a beach, then a hurricane knocks your house down

It looks like, now that they’ve had a look at the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike, Galveston is trying to decide whether they should re-build. Funnily enough, it’s the big, expensive beach homes on the shores that were blown to bits, pushed off their foundations or just plain waterlogged beyond repair that showed the worst damage. The smaller, older houses that were built inside the seawall, before people forgot what hurricanes can do, seem to have weathered the storm fairly well. They don’t have power, but at least they still have four walls that held together. But the wealthy beach property owners are going to have to decide if they meet the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. If they build it, a hurricane will, eventually, knock it down.

Me? I love the beach. I’m never happier or healthier than when I can smell salt on the air. To quote Jimmy Buffett – the seas in my veins. Even if unfortunately it’s not a lifestyle to which I’ve been able to afford to become accustomed. But even if I had the money, I would never build a million dollar house in a hurricane strike zone. I’m an evil old agnostic, and even I think God hates houses cluttering up the Gulf Coast. He lets it build up for 30 years or so, then gets tired of behemoth beach huts cluttering up his ocean view, and then he rolls a hurricane at the shore and knocks ‘em down like bowling pins.

The only way I’d ever do it is if I could have one of those little Tumbleweed Houses. If you look closely at the pic, you’ll notice – tires. That baby is on wheels. You get yourself a nice concrete pad with electric, water and sewer connections, overlooking the water and – “Hey, what? Storm’s a comin’? Let’s beat feet, baby.” You fold up your doormat, hitch the house to the truck, and it’s “give me a call when the power’s back on.” Cause my firm conviction in this life is that she who clucks and runs away, lives to cluck another day. This includes bullies threatening to knock my teeth out, and hurricanes threatening to knock my house down. There’s no piece of property that’s worth risking my life. But I’d have not objection to taking it with me.

I hope they do decide to rebuild Galveston. I love that nutty little town. But I hope that somebody steps forward with a plan to do it sensibly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stage Wrong

Another thing I did this weekend was hit Theatre 3 for my season tickets. The show was Defiance by John Patrick Shanley (he wrote one of my favorite movies of all-time, Joe v. the Volcano, but now does serious theater stuff). I’d say it was a solid B. Decent performances, but a story that could have probably used another 5 minutes on the stove – good, but not quite al dente.

But the thing that was totally making me insane was the costuming. The show takes place at a Marine Corps base in North Carolina towards the end of the Vietnam War. A good chunk of the play happens while the men are in uniform. And not a one of the men’s pants were at regulation length. Ohh! My Grandad would have had a fit!! And in fact the very much a Marine base commander had his pants hems touching the ground in the back. Nuh-uh. No way. And there were other costume gaffes. The colonel’s wife had a scene in a formal dress that was 2 sizes too big for her. And as for the very muscular captain, a Marine with that broad of shoulders would get his shirts tailored off-base. Not out of vanity (those his shoulders would look slammin’ in a tailored shirt), but because a shirt that fits his shoulders would look sloppy tucked in around a smaller waist.

It’s those kind of details that just throw me off when I’m trying to watch a show. I understand that it’s a small theater, and they probably don’t have all sorts of budget. But that’s what pins and hemming tape are for. Every time I’d start to get caught up in the story, little things like the colonel’s pants touching the floor (yes, that really did bug the hell out of me) would throw me off, and I’d lose all the momentum of the drama. Those jobs in the theater like costumes, sets and lights sure aren’t the glamour gigs. But a good job, or a sloppy one, in any of those departments can be make or break for a show.

Nerd Girl,0,7133156.weightedquiz

Well, it's official. I was always a trifle unclear. But with the help of this handy reference, I've finally been definitively diagnosed. I'm not a geek. I'm a nerd. Say it loud! Say it proud!

[Probably the most telling thing is that though I have distinct preferences (Krypto or K-9? Puh-lease!!), I can easily identify the references in all of the answers. Perhaps that makes me a nerd with geek tendencies?]

Whoops! Lost my water-wingies.

In royal news today, Prince William trains to become a rescue pilot, continuing the tradition of Windsors serving their country through the military. He will be working mainly with helicopters used for water rescues.

In other news, thousands of women forget how to swim.

Oooo. Pretty!

Seeing Washington Gardener's bloom day blog reminded me of a few pictures of flowers that I've picked up on my cell phone in the last month, and I thought I'd post them.

First is a very confused wisteria vine that started blooming at the beginning of last month. Admittedly, I'm no gardener, but I thought wisteria was a spring flower. Still, this was the first one that showed on this particular vine, and then by a couple of days later it was covered. Maybe it was just in a good mood. Didn't stay long, but it was pretty while it lasted.

Then comes a pretty little rose that was on a bush that was next to a wharehouse store. I don't think the poor thing gets any love at all, but even so it had several blooms, that smelled really pretty.

And last is a stand of yucca that's started to bloom. It's one of those things that just pops up out of nowhere in the southwest. I pass these plants every day. And most of the year they're just kinf of anonymous, tall, spikey leaves. Then one day there's a stalk. Next day, boom! Dainty white flowers. Maybe it's having lived in a dry climate so long, but this is just one of my favorites.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Booze in Review,0,7119461.story

As promised, a review of the fresh tomato bloody mary that I tried out on Friday. The response from the tasting panel (isn't it nice when you have willing guinea pigs?) were very favorable. But the general consensus was that calling it a bloody mary was a little off. It's more like a tomato martini. It's fairly dry as the only sweet is from the tomato. Which also makes it fairly low-cal compared to a cosmo or other sweet drink. Though I had to use straight vodka instead of a citrus flavored as I ran out time to visit the liquor store. Didn't seem to do much harm.

In sum, a dandy little tipple that will go into my bartender's stockpile, and could become a weapon of choice when tomatoes are in season. Though it's going to be filed under the revised name of the Bloody Marty. And, in fact, it's already planned as the center piece for a Saturday video marathon of season 2 of Dexter. Seemed appropriate somehow. (Note to Washington Gardener - might also pair well with True Blood, no?)

Storm Watching

Of course I was watching the footage from Galveston when Ike hit over the weekend. I spent a good chunk of my childhood in a small town between Houston and Galveston, and I have really fond memories of that area. And since I've moved back to Texas, I've been down to Galveston a few times. Amazingly, it's one of the few places in my life that has changed very little. In fact, the same shell shop that we went to back in the 70s, with the same day-glo colored puka necklaces for sale and giant clams attached to the front is still there. So any time a hurricane hits, I sit and watch and wonder if this is the time Galveston gets swept out to sea.

I didn't sleep well on Friday night, because at the same time Ike's eye was approaching the gulf coast, the outer edges were starting into the Dallas area. And big fronts always mess with my head. So every hour or so, I'd wake up and wander down stairs to see what was on CNN. I'd kind of stare at the dark outlines behind Gary Tuchman and see if I could recognize anything. And one of my best party tricks is my impression of a CNN correspondent standing in a hurricane. So I'm going to be adding the bit I saw of a little tiny girl reporter standing out in the open holding onto a bush so that she didn't get blown away. Those reporters have to be a really special sort of different to want to stand in 60 mile an hour winds on camera.

But the image that caught me the most probably wouldn't have struck anybody who'd never lived in a coastal region. Early Saturday morning, they showed a picture from downtown Houston where the sewer manhole cover had popped off, because the bayou had backed up, and was spewing water in a fountain into the street. Not just water, black bayou water. And if you've ever smelled that stench of stagnation and decay, it stays in your nose forever. All I had to do was see that picture and it turned into smell-a-vision for me. As sharp and strong as if I was 9 and catching crawdads.

From all the reports, it looks like Houston took a pretty bad hit. And Galveston even worse. I keep looking at the footage, hoping that things I recognize are still there. Which reminds me, I need to go make a donation to the Salvation Army. They're feeding a lot of people and can use the help. And hurricane season still has a ways to go.

* Addendum - and speaking of a way to go: I think it may be time for all storm reporters everywhere to hit the old thesaurus. English is a varied and robust language. Can we find a different word than "power"? "Power of the storm", "powerful winds", "power of nature". Power is a good word. Power is a great word. But there are all sorts of other words that you can use. Let's give power a rest. And while we're at it. Uhm. What is the obsession with "hunker down"? Y'all really like that phrase. Really. Telling a field reporter once or twice to hunker down is sort of folksy. 20 or 30 times and it just starts to sound, mmmm, odd. I'm just saying.

TIME: Quotes of the Day