Friday, June 26, 2009

We Likely Won't See Another

I kind of feel like I should say something about the passing of Michael Jackson. Everybody is. Everybody. I was on the train last night, shortly after there was confirmation, and you could hear nearly everyone talking: about the moment of the Moon Walk (nearly as earth shaking as the actual walk on the moon), the surgeries, the scandals, the fame, the sad tragedy of it all. And definitely about the music. Older people seemed to focus on that cute kid with the Jackson 5. Younger people mainly on Thriller. Me, I’m kind of a Diryt Diana/PYT kinda girl.

I tried to explain to my niece how big MJ was. Monster big. Beatles big. Elvis big. But she didn’t understand that kind of overwhelming fame at all. There are so many choices, so many niche markets, so much diversity in entertainment today, that I don’t think anyone will ever be as, and this is the absolutely right word, ubiquitous as Michael was at the height of his fame. There were only a few real large segments of music in the 80s. And he combined rock and R&B, two of the biggest. He took over MTV and the radio. He was t-shirts and gloves and zippered jackets. His influence was everywhere you looked.

And in some ways that influence has faded. Nobody puts on a single sparking glove. The super Jeri Curl is gone (thank you, hair gods). But I still see things occasionally. Like this picture popped up last night that I hadn’t seen in years, from the 7”single jacket (remember those?) of Human Nature. Look at that and tell me Andre Benjamin didn’t look to Michael at some point. The shrunken suits and bow ties from Thom Browne remind be a lot of the Billie Jean look. And undeniably, anyone who has any aspirations of making a great pop song has got to study his work. It is the master class. From Justin Timberlake and Ne-Yo to Chris Cornell, they respect the music.

In spite of everything, all the hesitation people feel for various reasons, go to a dull office party and put on The Way You Make Me Feel or Rock With You. See what happens. It’s like the dance floor blooms. Irresistible.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't want no short, short man

You know, we’ve got North Korea getting all scrappy-doo on the right. And Iran trying to pick a fight on the left. You know what Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have in common? They shorties.

Kim – 5’3”
Ahmadinejad – 5’2”

And both of them have a total hard on for picking fights with the “bigger” country. It’s like they can’t resist. Not that we can do anything about it. But the urge to pick them up by the scruff of the neck and give them a little shake is undeniable.

But maybe that’s the key. Could international policy just come down to who has a serious case of Short Man Syndrome? Is there some sort of need to pick a fight that comes with being vertically challenged? Could we eliminate the entire need for an electoral system if we just hand it over to the tallest guy?

Or even easier – just give it to a woman. We don’t care how tall we are.

By the way, Barack Obama? 6’1 ½”

tempted by the fruit of another

It’s a sign of how enmeshed I am with my car (Barney the Wonder Truck) that I’m feeling incredibly guilty about thinking about trading him in. Like I’m contemplating cheating on him with a younger man.

Barney and I have been together a long time. 15 years. I’ve put all but 6 miles on him. And I love him. I do. And it’s not that the other cars are more attractive, or better built. It’s just that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to get him repaired. It takes forever for parts to show up. If they can be found. My sun visor is flying at half mast, and there’s not a replacement to be found. And I’m starting to worry that I’ll end up with an unfixable problem of catastrophic proportions. Some sort of weirdass mechanical widget that holds the whole thing together snaps, and I’m stuck with a 1 ton paperweight.

Unfortunately, I don’t qualify for the cash-for-clunkers. Though at 15 years old, that’s saying something for the gas mileage on the old boy. And the trade-in value is nil. And there is the fact that I don’t know if I will ever love a car again as much as I’ve loved this one.

It may be time to move on. But my heart just isn’t buying it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who says a cucumber's always cool?

I was reading a description of a cocktail in a New York Times article that sounded kind of intriguing. But the bartender didn't share his recipe - selfish bastard. But given the flavor profile, I thought this might be a winner for a friend of mine. So I worked out my own version, and I'll have to say it's darned good. You may not believe me given the ingredients, but trust your friendly bartender. Tasty.

Note: I've tried this with varying levels of jalepeno. 1 slice is zippy, 2 is tingly, 3 is quite zingy. Good to know your audience before you start shaking.

Cool to Hot

6 slices of cucumber (seeds removed), plus one extra thin slice for garnish.
Half a lime, juiced
1 - 3 slices of fresh jalepeno (seeds removed)
1 1/2 oz blanco or sliver tequila

In a cocktail shaker, muddle cucumber, lime and jalepeno. Add ice and tequila, shake till frosty. Strain into a martini glass. Float remaining thin cucumber slice.

Can I get this to go?

We had more fun laughing about this at the office. It's a Miss Manner's article about a person who was handed an unusual "rememberance" of the dearly departed at a funeral. Actually, it wasn't a rememberance. I was the dearly departed. In a little silk bag. Which they didn't announce contained cremains until everyone had been given one. Visualize a roomful of people, of varying levels of acquaintance with Dear Old Dead Fred, all simultaneously looking at the palm of their hand.

This would be one of those moments where, I'd hope that I had the presence of mind to get over my own shock in time to look around at other people's faces. That moment would have to be priceless. From "holy crap!" to "WTF?" That would be a mental image that would bring you hours of giggles.

And what did they think all those people would want a teaspoon of Fred for? If you worked with Fred, it's not like you have your "special place" with him. What are you going to do, sprinkle his ashes in the breakroom so that you can still have coffee with Fred like the good old days? Or carry him in your pocket so that you can take him with the gang to lunch - How about Lou's for lunch? What do you think Fred?

Miss M is right. A funeral is no time to fool with tradition. It's bad enough when you have to do something "different" at a wedding (like doing a dollar dance with a groom who can only dance in a clockwise direction - I thought he was trying to screw me into the floor, literally).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Large palm print in the middle of my forehead.

Okay, here's the super-dumb-ass moment I had.

I started writing another play. Not coming quite as easily as the first (don't think I'll get that lucky too many times), but I'm kind of interested in seeing how it will all come out. In fact, I'm thinking of taking a few vacation days to get out of town, and really concentrate on getting some words on paper.

But, as I looked down on the page, I thought, Gee, I really wish I could put all this energy into writing a real novel. You know. A nice fat book. But, well, you know. I don't really like writing all the exposition stuff. The "it was a dark and stormy night" stuff or the "Bob and Jill were standing in the famers market when" stuff. Whenever I have a good idea, and I start writing that blah, blah, blah stuff, it all just fizzles into nothing, and I never get anywhere. I could write a whole epic if it were all just dialogue. I love writing dialogue. Too bad you can't write a whole book that's just dia . . . wait.

A whole book with just dialogue. Don't you just call that a play?


I just sat there with the stupidest look ever on my face. It's like I've been locked in a box for years, and never looked up to see that there's an escape hatch in the ceiling. I hate it when that happens.

Now I'm just getting over the part about being a person who writes plays. I mean, who does that? Nobody normal. Books, short stories, novellas, godhelpus, poetry. Those are all pretty normal people things to write. But plays? That's just whackadoodle. But I'll get over it.

And as I heard Lilith Saintcrow mention on her blog, who loses if I don't write? If I don't do something that I like doing that costs virtually nothing? Um, that would be me. So, screw it. I'm just going to take up my whackadoodle little hobby and damn the consequences. Of which there actually aren't any. Other than being slightly more whackadoodle than I was 5 minutes ago. Who'd notice?

Not to harp on this, but.

Okay, the MyLife e-mail I get today has the subject line "Julie, See Who's Still Popular from Your High School".

Does the word "bluh" mean anything to you? What are we? 17? This is my biggest problem with most social networking sites: eventually they seem to devolve into dragging people back into that same old popularity contest that I was overjoyed to leave behind. Thank you. One of the few things I actually got around to doing in the last 20+ years was growing up. Don't care who'd be elected Prom Queen if they had a re-election today.

Really, other than the small minority who I do keep up with (and it is very small) there's only 3 things I want to know about the people I went to high school with (to paraphrase Stephen King) - who got fat, who got bald and how many of God's little children got wings. Where's that e-mail?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Isn't that . . . ?

I have a strange run of luck in running into famous people at the airport. Literally, in the case of Robin Williams and Danny Devito, both of whom I nearly physically ran over at baggage claim. And not literally, in the sense that it all happened so fast that I’m never sure that the person I nearly body checked was actually who it appeared to be. Usually I process so slowly that I’m about 10 feet down the terminal by the time I think “Hey, that looked like . . .” Or the time that I was at Sky Harbor and heard “Charles Sheen, please pick up a white paging phone. Mr. Charles Sheen, please pick up a white paging phone.” How many people are there named Charles Sheen? Maybe a lot. But I did have independent quasi-verification when I find out that Charlie had been sent to town for one of his many revolving door rehab trips in Phoenix that week. And with Williams and Devito, same thing, only not rehab related. They actually were in town at the time. Maybe I nearly collided with them. Or maybe I just nearly plowed into someone who looked like them by bizarre coincidence. Who knows?

So, on Sunday, while I’m trapped at OKC, waiting for the bomb sniffing dog to have his way with the abandoned suitcase at Love, I’m sitting there casually sipping a Sonic Dr. Pepper with a vanilla shot (gotta love an airport that has a Sonic), when I see this guy pass and think, “Gee, that looks like the lead singer of the Flaming Lips.”

Now Wayne Coyne does live in Oklahoma City. And frankly, how many Okies are 6’+, have wild gray hair and have the guts to wear a gray and silver ensemble, with huge white sunglasses and a pink carry-on bag, and still manage to not come off gay? I’m thinking not many.

My thinking is there are two possibilities: either this was the guy from the Flaming Lips, and if manages to be a whack-o rock start but still be down to earth enough to make Oklahoma City home, then he deserves to be left in peace as he tries to get a Moe’s burrito; or he’s a guy who knows he looks like Wayne Coyne and tries to get attention by parading around the airport in his “incognito” shades – and frankly, I don’t think we should encourage that sort of behavior.

So, alas, no cell phone pic to document the sighting. Just an odd little maybe tale from the road.

The weekend in OKC

Well, over the weekend I went up to Oklahoma City for a min-family reunion. I had a lot of anxiety going up. My granddad has Alzheimer’s and it was kind of one of those “go up and see him while he still has a shot at recognizing you” things.

I’ve been through it before to some extent. And there’s all sorts of stages to the decline. Right now, Grandpa kind of slides in and out of recognizing people. At one point he asked Grandma who all those people in the living room were. At another he recognized my cousin who’s in the military and started telling her stories about the cruises he did in the Merchant Marines. Including telling her about 2 countries he never went to. But even though this all kind of sounds bad, he’s at a point where even when he doesn’t completely know who we are, he still seems to think we’re nice people. And even though he’s never been to Japan or Russia, he really seems to enjoy his memories of going there. So, if you just kind of relax and let him be who he is right now, and don’t push him to remember this or that or act like his old self, it’s easier to deal with.

On the other side of the coin, my cousin brought her new baby boy. Who is about as broad as he is tall. Little square baby with a faint glaze of white blond hair and a big, gummy, sunny smile. My nieces thought he was just the cutest thing ever, and they wanted to know if we could go get one right away. They were very disappointed to find out that you can’t just go pick out a baby and take him home. They decided that they’re just going to have to work on their parents to make one the old fashioned way.

Our family get-togethers are always exhausting. Everybody is talking a mile a minute. And listening 3 miles a minute, because you’re in about 3 conversations at once. And people wonder why I’m hyper-verbal. In my family, it’s a freaking survival skill. Especially since most of them are word junkies and you don’t know which direction the next pun will come from, or how somebody will deliberately misconstrue something you say just to get a rise out of you. Sitting around at the dinner table is like a conversational Hong Kong action flick.

So I was exhausted by the time I got back to the airport to go home. Of course, that was before they made us get off the plane because there was a delay (bomb scare at Dallas Love Field – the Curse continues). But, it’s fine. Made it home in one piece. And very happy to see my homey-of-me-owney. Love my family. But they just wear me out.

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