Monday, March 24, 2008

I don't think he's gonna apologize.

You know that scene in Thelma & Louise when they have the trucker pull over and blow his shit up? Did you know I can make a cosmopolitan in the time from when they decide to pull off the road and when he actually struts on over from his truck? I'm that good.

Plus since I leave for Japan tomorrow, I didn't want you to have to read, "I used to fuck guys like you in prison," all week.

I used to fuck guys like you in prison.

Omg. Laughing my ass off. How had I never seen this movie?

Totally awesome. But jesus, a little intense in parts. One part, mainly, near the end. Some guy says the title line I've got up there as he and Swayze are beating the shit out of each other. But don't worry, merely moments later, the Swayze rips the dude's throat out with his bare hand. Jesus Christ! Uh, they don't make action movies like this anymore.

Another classic moment: he goes to see the hot town doc to get stitched up (even though earlier we saw he usually does this himself) and she asks him about his degree from NYU.

"What did you study?"

And we said it together, "Philosophy." So wonderfully awful I could almost own it.

Before that D and I polished off Enchanted, which was, for lack of a better way to describe it, really cute puke. Except for one thing: is it a requirement now if you have a chipmunk in your movie there must also be scat humor? That was so unnecessary. But Susan Sarandon was marvelous and it goes without saying I don't think this movie could have ever made a dime without Amy Adams.

She's really cute. The movie definitely had more than its share of moments (James Marsden's not bad, either, as the prince who tries to rescue her); it's as fully predictable as you expect, but then, how could it not be?

And though neither Patrick Swayze nor Richard Gere are my normal taste, I guess yesterday was just a day for hot young Buddhists, as before Road House, I took in An Officer and a Gentleman, which I had also never seen.

Really great 1982 flick, once you get over the whole Golly, I Just Need a Man To Rescue Me thing. And the 18 different muzak versions of Up Where We Belong punctuating each "moment." But Richard Gere did a great job (so young!) as did Debra Winger, very cute, and really, it's all about the Louis Gossett, Jr. role. I didn't realize it was this movie that brought us that vivid image, "I will skullfuck you." A very all-around macho type of movie. But 80s romance at the same time. It weirdly worked--just don't get all PC on it. And don't step in all that melodrama in the second half.

Now if you'll excuse me, my cat is flipping out. There is a stray that comes around and taunts them both and it makes my cat Mouche especially insane. He got his ass kicked by a similar cat a few years ago, and maybe the Dog Incident a few weeks back didn't help. Maybe this cat is spraying as well? But it's so bad that Mouche turns on Bourdain for a little while. Well today, it's three hours past The Incident, and Mouche still is having none of Bourdain, tons of growling and hissing and altogther one pissed cat.

It's like he's having a 'Nam flashback he can't shake. We even tried giving him catnip to chill him out (draw your own parallels) and just when we thought it had worked, Bourdain made sudden movements and killed the buzz.

Tried putting Bourdain in the big carrier so Mouche could sniff him out, but Bourdain has MAJOR carrier issues and just flips out HARD CORE, so that was just fucking pointless. This is getting really frustrating, though. No idea what to try.

So I'm staying home today to make sure no one maims anyone else. Oh, and I put in my two weeks' notice.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I never had an answer. I guess that's why I'm working at Initech.

I was really conflicted about whether or not I should go see a show Friday night, as it meant getting out of work early (a pain in the ass in itself). But I did and it was so much fun. I went to see Trish Murphy, who I used to see play in Austin quite frequently.

She played at the Palace Theatre in downtown Grapevine, where I'd never been. Really cute downtown and what a neat theatre. I was thrilled to see they do weekly movies, too. I think the first week of April there's a screening of Citizen Kane. Can't say I'm pumped to see it again so soon (meh, maybe) but it's exciting to know I can.

Anyhoo, great show. She didn't play a couple of her biggest hits, which surprised me, but then again I never did understand how performers can play certain songs ad nauseum for the rest of their lives. How does Depeche Mode play Enjoy the Silence without offing themselves at this point?

I own all her albums except her first one (and apparently her second album is out of print...had I worn my brain that night I would have brought it for an autograph) so I bought the first album, Crooked Mile, and chatted with her a bit, which was fun.

Stuff like that really breaks up the week nicely.

And going to Japan next week should help even more. I'm thinking about quitting my job before or after I get back, I can't decide. I just...really hate it.

But I am OFF TODAY and by god, I'm making fried pickles because I haven't had them in ages. No one can stop me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You're sayin' the FBI's gonna pay me to learn to surf?

Lots of fun in Fort Worth, ate an obscene amount of chocolate from Schakolad, and walked all around downtown. Interesting storms yesterday forced us inside for the better part of the day, but we're a resourceful pair.

Came home today and checked email and my stats from the website I write for and got a great laugh. Typically my most-frequented articles are about TV shows and get about 80 hits a day or so, nothing much. It shows me the weekly trends, usually up 20% or down 11%, etc. Well this week I'm running at 1100% more. I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I saw that. I figured it was a mistake or I accidentally wrote about my lesbian locker room French kissing experiences and forgot. But no, alas! I wrote an article about the ten best St. Patrick's Day movies, and this week, unlike the 80-100 average hits, it has nearly 6,000. As far as I can tell, it looks like imdb featured a link to my article on their homepage, causing the surge in hits. Dammit! I wish I could have seen that!!

I also saw Point Break for the first time today, which was actually a lot of fun. (D was very excited to watch it again). Some really painful acting moments from Keanu (not to mention a terribly two-dimensional role for John C. McGinley, but he gave it his best), but it kinda goes with the territory. But it was a good action movie, much much better than I expected all these years. Forgot Kathryn Bigelow directed it, of Strange Days fame. Her next movie, Hurt Locker, is also starring Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce. Mmm hmmm. Too bad it's set in Iraq, should be a real upper.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm no criminal. I can't even sell retail, and that's legal!

Yup, that may been the lamest, dullest week ever. Nothing to report. Didn't really even watch any movies. I did forget to mention I watched Into the Wild a while back and really enjoyed it.

And yes, I say that even knowing there are many, many Christopher McCandless nay-sayers who grind their teeth every time someone praises his adventures. I mean, rightly so, it was more than a little stupid, what he did. That doesn't mean it can't also be admired. I hate to go into too much detail, as not everyone has seen it, but I can really see both sides of the argument. It's still a great story and a great watch.

Netfux sent me Pink Flamingos and I'm really working up the nerve to watch it. Tried once years ago and could not get through it.

Today is D's birthday, in addition to being St Patrick's Day. We're off to a hotel in Fort Worth, located downtown. That's really for Marshmallow Day, to be honest. We celebrated his birthday in February (the cabin) so this is actually a treat for me on his birthday. I should probably pick him up a little something anyway...!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let's see if you bastards can do 90.

I have a hotel booked in Tokyo for the last week of the month for hanami season. The first thing that sort of alarms me is that they claim they'll charge fees if you don't show or cancel the day before. Typical, yes. But they never get a credit card number for you. Is Kenji going to come collecting?

And I got an email confirmation. My two favorite parts:

Thank you so much for your reservation.
Thank very much for your reservation.
We are pleased to confirm your reservation as follows..

Did we say thank you yet? It's cute. And even better and far more mysterious:

From the above-mentioned contents, if very well, please access the
following addresses. hear reservation until I have you access
-- it does not become precocious

Uh, god. I just hope they have a room with my name on it. We are staying at the Villa Fontaine Tokyo Mita. Wanted to stay in their Ueno location (Ueno is cherry blossom CENTRAL) but they were all booked. Der. This is in Tamachi, which is two stops from my old 'hood, Osaki, and is still on the Yamanote line. Score.

I opted for the Healing Room...they didn't have a Ladies Room available. What is a Ladies Room, you ask? I have no idea, except, as they say on their site:

The Ladies' Rooms attend to the needs of our female guests.
The rooms are stocked with amenities especially geared towards women.
We also provide special rich amenities for Ladies' Room exclusive use.

So apparently Clive Owen will be our personal chef while I watch Japanese TV? I don't know.

Haven't gotten the tickets yet, but those aren't important are they?


Why the fuck not. New ideas are boring.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

It's not HBO. It's regular ass TV.

Lol, thank you so much Alex!!

(original link)

A very detailed behind-the-scenes of the old school HBO movie intro. I have such deep affection and nostalgia for this thing, they must have done something right. I wish I could put it in front of every movie.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Two degrees colder, me without my muff.

Here is another favorite photo from last week in Pigeon Forge. Before and during the snow, we had really low clouds. So late in the afternoon Thursday when the sun came out and the clouds went away, I looked outside and said to D, "Uh, did you notice those giant mountains in the back there?" He hadn't seen them either (low clouds, I tell you!), so luckily I didn't have to wonder about my sanity.

(The ones that nearly blend in with the clouds--the picture doesn't do them justice but they were really impressive).

Speaking of snow, we had some a few days ago and then Wednesday it was around 75 or so and then last night we had another "huge" winter snow storm. North of us got really nailed, our neighborhoods just saw a little ice, and there's some frost on the roof. It just better not fuck with my purple irises that are starting to come up!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

I was listening to All Songs Considered recently, well, catching up is a more appropriate way to put it, as they had one of Nickel Creek's very last shows at the 930 Club in DC recorded (and that was November). I really love that band (almost as much as I love to surprise everyone with my conflicting taste) and I cannot listen to their debut without thinking of Austin. Though consequently, I picked up their sophomore effort in Tokyo and it, too, reminds me of a very particular time in my life. (Waiting for the train after my private lessons I taught).

So I started to wonder, what are the ten most distinctive albums in my life? The ones I cannot listen to without thinking about the time in which I discovered them? So here we go, starting off with the one that brought it on:

1. Nickel Creek (self-titled album): This album will always be Austin Community College photography class. I discovered them while working for Austin City Limits in January 2001. That same month I started taking a photography class on Saturday mornings. Not only did I listen to this album on the trek out there, but also in the 24-hour darkroom near my house. I know this album inside and out and it's one of my all-time favorites.

2. The B-52s, Good Stuff: Technically speaking, the last full album the band ever released in 1992 (but that will change later this year). And I vividly recall being with my older sister Veloute at Sound Warehouse (Music Warehouse? whatev) on Fry Street when she bought it. I have no idea why it's such a vivid memory but it is. And the first three tracks off that album continue to be the best off the album and I suppose were a distinct impression the way home.

As a matter of fact, it was probably a cassette, now that I think about it.

3. Black 47, Fire of Freedom: I used to fucking loathe this album. My mother brought it home from Recycled Books & Records, and to say Black 47 is an acquired taste is an understatement. I did enjoy Maria's Wedding, their catchiest hit, but the rest of the album left me really cold. Then when I was in college and doing a ton of research on Ireland's political history, I started listening to this again. I was turning onto Oak Street when I finally started listening to the lyrics of James Connolly and I was hooked. I have gone on to see them live in NYC, but was underage at the time and could not consume insane amounts of Guinness.

4. Dar Williams, The End of the Summer: This album is my apartment on West Street in Austin. I listened to it a ton and it coincided nicely with the first time I ever saw her live (another Austin City Limits story, I'm afraid). I used to work for the Texas Education Agency and we had to park on the top two floors of the parking garage and it was like, eight stories. So I really recall listening to this album as I went round and round up to the top and all the way back down at the end of the day (as I was freelance, the days were often 3-5 hours).

Infact, one of the very few "regrets" I have in life is that I didn't see her second show while she was in town. The guy I was dating at the time was a big fan but didn't want to go, as it was a large venue and he thought no one would show up and he would feel bad for her. What the fuck sort of thinking is that? I was confused at the time but went along; in retrospect, I really wish I had just said, "Ok, cool, I'm going."

5. Depeche Mode, Violator: There are a ton of albums I could credit Veloute with turning me onto...The Damned, The Smiths, 45 Grave (ok, that one song...Riboflavin is such bitchin' fun), but mostly, this is the one I recall booming through the wall, any number of tracks. And to this day, it is Depeche Mode's strongest album and I really love each track.

The tracks off this album are always the ones they play best live. Sure I have a soft spot for Music For the Masses and Black Celebration, but this is arguably their best album. And with my bedroom right next to hers, the bass really came through nicely. I still have a few of her concert shirts that have miraculously survived the years. However much the radio overplays "Enjoy the Silence" and "Personal Jesus," the album itself will always be a treasure for me.

6. The Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces: I used to listen to this album a ton on my trips between Denton and Austin. The title track was a particular favorite, and it was while listening to this album that I got a lot of thinking done (3 hour trips, you know) and one of my trips back up to Denton was to surprise the guy I was dating. But sadly for him, living in a new city was a very energizing thing and it was on that trip that I realized I didn't have to put up with his bullshit baggage. And I realized I didn't feel anything for him anymore and dumped him in the following weeks. Good album.

7. Paul Simon, Graceland: My mom used to listen to this album a lot (at least in my memory). And rightly so, it's a great album.

I think she also really favored Rhythm of the Saints, but Graceland is the one that really sticks out. And for some reason I really remember having lunch at the table while she was listening to it on the giant black boombox on the microwave and I got to drink Strawberry Crush from those conical glasses with the impression bubbles in the glass. My sister Alex was usually there too, and I don't know if we were playing games or eating. But it's a distinctive album!

8. Pet Shop Boys, Very: This is a weird one. This album is BRIGHT FUCKING ORANGE. And it came out when I was in ninth grade. I had four close friends, three of whom were Mormon and the fourth was agnostic like me. We all used to go to their Mormon dances at their church once a month, since it was fun and something to do. Myself and a girl named Signee were the only females and we both loved this album, especially the first track.

The not-being-able-to-drink-caffeine-or-alcohol thing wasn't as weird at that age as it presumably would be now, and sadly, I did lose touch with everyone but the agnostic. (But fair enough, he and I have known each other since 3rd grade--we were the only ones in 8th grade to bring Clinton/Gore materials to poli sci class for extra credit...everyone else brought Bush/Quayle crap). I'm surprised we never dated but I had too much fun giving him shit for the drama queens he did date, all the while lusting after our sane intellectual friend Ellen.

9. Tori Amos, To Venus and Back: I bought this album to listen to in the car after two of my college girlfriends invited me to a Tori Amos concert. I'd never been a huge fan but I was familiar with most of her hits. Bizarrely, I had had a total of three strangers come up to my in life and declare that I was "like a little Tori Amos." So I was curious to see the lady live. (To this day I have no idea what they were smoking).

I still recall with much clarity being in the car while the two of them discussed their relationships woes, much of which I had been privy to in film class, but the details came flying out in the car. And so did the pronouns. I had had no idea that they were both lesbians and I have rarely felt as ignorant (but secretly so--I had managed not to reveal my stupidity or hetero assumptions) as I did at that moment. And I saw it clearly afterwards (of course she's gay!) but it never occurred to me at the time.

I've always been much better spotting the men than the ladies. I grew up on Erasure, for fuck's sake. Did you see that Pet Shop Boys entry up there, I ask you?

10. Trish Murphy, Rubies On the Lawn: Another Austin album, are you fucking kidding? Sorry, yes. But I got dumped before Valentine's Day and I was determined to see a Patty Griffin show at the Mercury. It was the first show I ever went to by myself and it was REALLY HARD. Like REALLY. Not only was I on my own but EVERYONE ELSE was paired up. Hard core. I shit you not, someone even came up to me, in a case of mistaken identity, saying, "Hey, aren't you Troy's cousin?" and I so desperately wanted to pretend that I was. (I guess I hadn't had enough to drink yet).

Opening for her were Abra Moore, Darden Smith and Trish Murphy. I enjoyed all three of them way more than Griffin, who insisted on playing actual romantic songs. (I was bitter, if that wasn't apparent. Who likes Valentine's Day anyway??). Murphy played a song that positively lit me up with its bouncy beat, called, "I Know What You Are." I was hooked. I wrote her the next day to find out what it was, and I've never seen her play it since, as her sets are usually acoustic and this one needs FUCK YOU DRUMS. It has a fun That Thing You Do! beat going on. I went to see her a bunch while I lived there and have not been able to see here since, though she does occasionally make it up here to Dallas. She often plays barefoot and has her dog at the show. She says all her voice coaches told her she was "singing wrong," but fucked if I can tell. I fucking love this whole album and it makes me want to go back to Austin right now.

Shit, looking back at this ten it's obvious to the casual observer (or even to the comatose observer, frankly) that not only did my year in Austin make a big musical impression, I seem to like the ladies with the guitars. Fair enough.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

That's fuckin' blasphemy. Elvis wasn't a Cajun.

I'm so thrilled, I actually got a ton of writing done today. Nothing much on the whole website project, mind you (except realizing my how-to-Dreamweaver book was due yesterday, oops), but I did write six film articles I've had outlined. Yahoo!

I've been toying on and off with the idea of checking out the caucus tonight, apparently Texas is one of the few states where you can both vote and caucus, and I'm not altogether sure what the fuck that even means. (Except that I could get to vote twice, but whatever). A brief search turned up an AP article, which contained the frightening line:

In the caucuses, participants must gather at a set time for sometimes lengthy party-run meetings where they publicly declare their choice, and turnout is inevitably lower.

Public speaking? Fuck that. I'd also be on my own, as D is closing tonight. So I have a feeling I may be giving the caucus, however interesting and educational, a miss tonight. I would drag my friend J, but he's off at the They Might Be Giants show, which I turned down. (Although he mentioned a show in April I'm debating--The New York Dolls at the Granada. Ok, most of The New York Dolls is a more accurate description. Might be a fun show). Anyhoo.

And speaking of music, I've actually been doing a decent job with one of my "resolutions" (for lack of a better word) to listen to a new album each week. I usually download a new album, preferably something I've been curious about (rather than a group I'm really familiar with). I made an exception for the new Sheryl Crow album as I heard such good things and I haven't been too impressed with her last few efforts (I can seldom stand the stuff they play on the radio, but the other tracks on her albums are surprisingly good).

I think I'll be making another exception soon, seeing that Chris Thile (as Bob Boilen of All Songs Considered described him, "My favorite mandolin player," as I guess we could have so many...?) has a new album with a group called Punch Brothers. (Chris Thile was the lead singer of Nickel Creek, which seems to be indefinitely "temporaily" disbanded. But who cares, he was the easily the best part of that group anyway...and no, not just because he was charismatic and the brother/sister duo was overtly religious and cold. Okay maybe it didn't help).

(Hmm, someone got plenty use of this shirt...this is the same shirt he was wearing when I got permission to shoot photos during a Bluegrass fest in 2001...)

But in the meantime, I've got to get back to my broccoli cheese soup I'm attempting. We ate what we both feel is the absolute final word in broccoli cheese soup at Hoffbrau Steaks last weekend and I'm desperate to re-create it. Not gonna happen, but maybe I can at least make something close? Plus we've been eating like shit lately.

I'll be up keeping an eye on the caucus/primary results, woo hoo!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

She's going to crawl through the intercom!

Since it was an absolute cunt of a day, I stopped off at Starbucks for a new Honey Latte, at my sister's recommendation. It is certainly very, very nice. It was also pissing down rain, but that didn't stop the manager from nearly crawling into my car to ask me to take a store survey (I could win $1000! No, I'm not sharing!) and how amazing and important it would be to them. She kind of scared me. But then, they often seem as if they have had too much caffeine...

My dad sent me this site, which I find to be absolutely hysterical and utterly depressing all at once. I really love it: Garfield Minus Garfield. I think "I Dread Tomorrow" may be my favorite.

Off to watch The Fugitive, as I've had a mean craving for that movie lately and we don't own it. Wtf?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I've begun reminiscing events before they even occur.

Well, we're back. It was very relaxing and we had unbelievable luck with the weather. Our first day in we stocked up on food and beer and checked into our little cabin high up on top of a mountain. Our little Kia Spectre rental actually made it! They had warned us the chance of snow that night had gone from 80 to 100%, so we got extra nibbles.

Sure enough, a wet snow started that night not unlike the kind we get here. However, within the hour it became soft and flaky--a snow completely foreign to me. It makes horrible snowballs, but that's ok with me. You can lie down in it and not be completely soaked--I just don't understand!

What, you say? This story would be so much better with pictures? Indeed, it would! Well, first picture of the trip. We had lunch at a local brewery and when we tried to order a pitcher, we were told they don't have those, so we ordered 2 of their "tankards" or whatever they call them. That's a quarter next to mine.

Come inside! That's the front door and our little kitchen. I left all the cooking to D since 95% of it involved the grill. Note the chair on the left. Everything about this place gets 100%...except maybe the decor...

Looking up, we have the upstairs...

Where I was just standing--the living room. Gas fireplace and I believe that's The Meaning of Life we've got there on the TV. We waste no time.

The view from the kitchen.

The main bed just upstairs. There was a downstairs bedroom with a view of the hot tub on the back porch (not the most exciting), but we never slept in there, as we had a much better view from our bed.

And you can see how this would be okay to wake up to.

Popping outside, we have the swing. Very nice, but not a ton of time here as it was a bit nippy.

And let's get to this "nippiness." For comparisons sake, this was our little Kia...

And the next morning...

The view of our neighbors' cabins the first day...

And the next morning!

And this is the cabin itself!

Yeah that black thing in the front? That's the grill. Luckily the snow abated in the afternoon and we were able to successfully grill. I don't think hot dogs over a gas fireplace would really do it.

Ridiculously beautiful. Couldn't stop watching it snow!

Played quite a bit of pool, which I especially love not doing in public.

As I mentioned, the snow was total powder. No soaking, no freezing, no yucky slush, magical.

I have no idea who this person is. Someone completely undignified, clearly. *cough*

How unappreciative if we had left the driveway pristine!

We couldn't decide how unusual a snow like this was for Pigeon Forge. Our last day we stopped at the same brewery for lunch and when the woman found out we were leaving, she said, "But you got to be a part of the snow!" with the same appreciation as a native Texan might, and we decided it was a highly unusual snow.

The weather made it extra special but it was a very relaxing trip regardless. I'd go there again any day!

On the down side, we came back yesterday during rush hour and as soon as we got off the highway a woman rear-ended D's car, shattering the side of the back bumper. To her credit she gave us both a hug afterward. Then we got home and I barfed, as I am not the best when it comes to motion sickness. The plane had been okay, but the shuttle to the car was less than settling, nor am I a great passenger in rush hour traffic (all that braking).

But neither incident was as bad as it could have been. (But don't even get me started on my rant about bumpers being made of fiber glass these days as opposed to rubber, as they used to be. My old Camry could take anything). The woman is insured (even if it does look to be a very small company) and once I went to bed I was peachy keen.

It may or may not appear about to rain, so I've got to hurry up and play in my yard a little while it's nice outside...