Friday, July 31, 2009

I know what you're thinking, and yes, I have cataloged all of them

I’ve been on a big memoir/humorist book kick recently. Perhaps my verbal diet recognized the deficiency or I simply got older and started caring what other people think.

It may also have to do with my own writing and where I see it going in the not too distant future. You cannot be a good science fiction author without reading the likes of Asimov, Bradbury, and the like; so how do I expect to write my life well if I don’t do the same?

This downward spiral began a couple years ago when I discovered Augustan Burroughs, and found out Chuck Palahniuk did non-fiction as well. From there I went straight into biographies (usually boring and devoid of real “dishy” moments), then onto autobiographies. Michael Cain got nothing on nobody!! I suggest you check him out.

For the past few months, it’s been “chick lit”, a term I loathe almost as much as the books it describes. Most of them have nothing to do with me and were written by and for woman far older, more glamorous, or more deluded than myself.

Scrolling through today (the greatest website for bibliophiles), I decided to see just how many of these books I had read. I created a new bookshelf (a pretty big deal as I do not like to clutter even my virtual bookcase), and went through all the books I had listed as “read” to date. The number was higher than I anticipated, but still only accounted for 18% of my books. Then I got a little sad. Not to worry, there is plenty of time left this year to log more “learned” and “important” works in my catalog. Following are some suggestions:

It was on Goodreads that I discovered Sloane Crosley. She is witty, loves Jem and the Holigrams, and created a series of shadow boxes for each of her stories (you can see them here: Needless to say, I developed a hetero-girl crush. Finally, someone who spoke my language!

Currently, I’m devouring Jen Lancaster and Laurie Notaro (I combine them both because I simply can’t keep them straight in my head). I was skeptical at first- they seemed like every other horrible female writer and one is even Republican, but they proved me wrong. Yes, they talk about “girly” things- boys, weight, shopping; but in a more bitter and bitchy way. Their love lives were footnotes (quite literally in Lancaster’s case as she loves this literary device)- the boyfriends, then fianc├ęs, than husbands- casually mentioned or woven into the story, and rarely in a “boys drool” or “He’s so dreamy ” kind of way.

For traveling see: Bill Bryson or Anthony Bourdain (bonus food gems!)
Religion: A.J. Jacobs “Year of Living Biblically”
Autobiography: all Michael Cain, Tony Curtis “American Prince”, and any Carrie Fisher
It’s no secret I love the movies: Robert Rodriguez “Rebel without a Crew”, Julia Phillips “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again”, and James Lipton “Inside Inside”- seriously.Hospitality: Amy Sedaris “I Like You”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where have all the cool bars gone?

I had the pleasure, for several years, to have my own version of “Cheers”. I made most of my current friends there and the ones I already knew soon made it their home too. No matter what day or time you went in, you were sure to find someone you knew and some good conversation.

Since Ben’s closed a couple years ago, we have all been homeless so to speak, searching for a new place to call ours. We knew we could never replace it, but we thought we could find something close. Surely, we live in a large metropolitan area- there must be somewhere cool to hang out! Were we wrong. No one can come to agreement on one place that meets all our needs. All the bars are always too impersonal, too far away, too expensive, too “trendy”, too anything and everything!

Last night, for my friend’s birthday, we ended up at a new bar (fortuitously around the corner of my house) that may fit the bill. Bryan Street Bar is new, but looks old. It’s got plenty of room, while still seeming quaint. It has a pool table, washer toss, large patio (most important to the smokers), and great prices. It also had pretty good parking. On a Saturday night, around 1030, there were just enough people there that you had to look around for your friends, but not too many that you couldn’t get to the bar. The music was right, the lighting was dark, we were in Heaven. Could it be? Have we found the new Ben’s? Only time will tell. I personally know that many of the people who came last night did it under duress. It’s even further than some of the other place they won’t go, but if we can get enough of us there I’m sure we can make it work.

I’ve tried explaining Ben’s to people who never had the chance to go. It was more difficult than I expected. Instead, I’ve decided to list some of my favorite memories in an attempt to set it straight:

* Karaoke every Thursday and Saturday night may be your idea of lame, but with an impressive roster of talent and balls, it was really a lot of fun. I even won the karaoke championship several years ago. Yea me!!

*Costume party every Halloween. They always had neat themes and very interesting prizes, not just the usual bar bucks. They also gave away grills, coolers, a lawn chair, a towel, beer cozies, t-shirts, and sometimes just a handshake. Past themes included 70’s porn, Comic book hero’s and villains, and the 7 deadly sins. My Miho costume from Sin City tied with Ash from Army of Darkness for the Comic Book year, and my sister won for deadly sins as the UPS driver from “Seven”, complete with Gwyneth’s head in a box.

* I got my kick-ass giant Beer Wolf from the auction we held after Ben's closed. He lived in the ladies room and kept the drunk boys out when they got confused. Here he is in his original habitat and partial glory:

*Riotous games of Tumbling Tower (the off-brand Jenga). Many a bottom were exposed and pranks played based on what the blocks told you to do.

*I met one of my best friends there. I had seen him before during an episode of the Gong Show that was held in partnership with the local talk radio station. He kept yelling out to all the contestants and being a general jackass. They pulled him on stage and made him take off his shirt, though I’m not sure he remembers a lot of that night. One evening during Karaoke, his friends kept daring me to sing to him, replacing the name Fernando (of ABBA fame) with his- Sergio. I did and it was very funny. Even more funny was a couple nights later when I learned his name was actually Paul. A friendship of high jinx and fun followed.
I miss you Ben’s, we all do, but it’s time to move on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Ode to Network T.V.

Dear major networks:

Quit it!

You know what I'm talking about. You spend millions developing innovative and great new shows then pull the plug before it gets off the ground. Give it a second. Look at 30 Rock! Also, nothing makes more sense than cancelling shows that just got nominated for awards as well. We'll miss you Samantha Who?, The L-Word, Battlestar Gallactica (I know this one doesn't really count, but I just love it so much! PS- what the hell Emmy's!?! wheres the love for the toasters?), and Pushing Daisies, just to name a few of this seasons casualties.

While I'm at it, quit remaking the shows you just cancelled! Renaming them does not fool us. Think how cool you would have been if you hadn't cancelled Moonlight, Wolf Lake, or Kindred. Supernatural is BIG now Silly Gooses!!

Furthermore, we do not need another show about any of the following: police, psychics, doctors, celebutards, dating, eating something gross, or singing. Quit It!

Side note- Dear Cable: I love you. Keep up the good work and support of fledgling shows. Your many Emmy's and Golden Globe nods and wins must make your network cousins vomit with jealousy. Too bad they're too stupid to figure out what you already know: Don't talk down to your audience. Thank them for paying to watch by giving the shows a chance. Give 'em something they think they've seen and then throw it in their face! I heart Saving Grace, The Closer, True Blood, Weeds, Californication, Rescue Me, Eureka, In Plain Sight, and The Tudors. None of these shows would have lasted a season on network tv.

In closing: We are not stupid. While I may get a kick out of watching the Kardasians pull each others hair or Gordon Ramsey scream at a group of nitwits (in truth, he is so much better on The F Word) or couples race around the globe; but I'm also tired of being told I'm too fat, too lazy, too poor, uneducated, unloved, and unlovable.

Quit it!

Until you do, I'll be watching "The Cable" as it's called in my house.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Postcard from Murderville

Last night, around midnight, I found myself lying face down on the floor next to my couch. Odd popping sounds from outside forced me to duck and cover.

"Finally," I thought, "The gun fire everyone has been talking about!"

A couple months ago an old friend was visiting and dubbed my neighborhood "Murderville" Even in broad daylight he could sense something wasn't quite right in the hood. I love the eclectic vibe my area affords me- the remodeled historic homes and apartments, the dilapidated shacks, the mini mansions. It's the reason I live here, why I've always wanted to live here. If you as me, I say I live in the East Village. Unfortunately, Murderville is what everyone now remembers. Thanks!

I had some time to think while I was on the floor: Can I reach my phone? These don't sound like shots fired, but what are the? Should I get up? No, idiot! What would your Dad say? What if they were gunshots? Stay down!! How much does it cost to replace a window? What about the wall? What's that echo?

Ten "shots" later, I pick myself off the floor and casually look outside. Nothing is there. Not in the courtyard, not at the crack house across the street, not anywhere. Surely I would see something outside, right?

The sorry truth is, probably not. About a year ago, I was sitting on the couch watching one of those sappy Hollywood movies you can only watch at home alone and never tell anyone you saw it, when I heard a noise outside. I peeked out the window but didn't see anything there. I went back to my Will Smith movie- damn, I shouldn't have said that! Anyway, a couple minutes later, I heard a noise again coming from my courtyard. When I looked out the window I saw a guy leaning against the gate. "Silly drunk", I thought; and went back to my movie. Not a minute later, I heard yelling in the courtyard as someone, presumably the drunk, tried to beat down the door to an apartment. "Weirdo".

Several minutes later, I notice a flashing of red and blues and peek out the window to the street. There were about six cruisers, and ambulance, and all the cops and paramedics to go with them. In my courtyard, a stretcher carried the drunk out and into the ambulance. Cops milled about, checking out the fence, talking to neighbors. This was just too go to miss! I quickly put on an outfit befitting the situation (i.e. no pajamas), and went outside. A young policeman came up and asked me if I heard anything so I recounted the story above. Apparently, the guy wasn't a drunk, or at least that's not all he was. You see, when I first heard the noise and looked outside, the guys was impaled on the spikes atop my courtyards fence. When I looked back outside and saw him leaning against the fence, he had wiggled himself free. When I heard yelling and pounding, he was trying to get his friends attention. It was a gruesome sight.

I have no idea what the noise I heard last night was. Maybe firecrackers? BB gun? Car backfiring several times? Maybe it was a gun? Maybe the echoing noise was caused by the layout of my courtyard. Like they say in those Tootsie Rolls commercials, the world may never know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I need a new job. Only a year into this one and I only get out of bed in morning because it's something to do. I finally got the swivel chair I've romanticized for 8 years and now I can't wait to get out of it. It hurts my back and is not as comfortable as I imagined. Add the minimum 5 lbs I've put on from sitting on my ass and snacking because there's nothing better to do. Add the strain it has put on my friendship. Add the sinking feeling that I will never be good enough at this to get promoted so what am I doing anyway.

I'm so "done" when I get home that I don't have the energy to do the things I want to do or would like to do. Either I fall onto the couch in a comatose state or I head out to drink with my friends for fear that staying indoors one second longer will lead me to stab someone with a spoon.

If one more Dove dark chocolate piece reminds me that "happiness is contagious" I will scream and drive my car into the median. Oh wait... I kinda already did that.

Proof of my Idiosyncrasy #32:

I believe inanimate objects have feelings. Now, let me try to explain.

I’m a collector. I don’t think I’ve voluntarily thrown anything away since 2000. Sometimes things break, or get lost, or my cat exacts his revenge on me by pissing on anything within 2 meters of him; but otherwise I’m a packrat. I try to limit my junk to certain categories and trinkets: shot glasses, Nightmare Before Christmas figurines, Halloween chotchke’s, comic books, records, pictures of sad cats (preferably on velvet), and the like. I haven’t thrown a CD away since I was 14 and embarrassed to own Madonna (not very punk rock). Fast forward a few years and I had to buy it all over again for a dance performance. I made a vow right then and there to keep it all!

The problem with this is that I feel bad for my things sometimes. My CD’s feel the brunt of my burden. I feel bad for the little guys forgotten in the back of the closet or thrown behind the seats in my car. So, periodically, I pull them out and try to make them feel better. That is how my playlist last weekend came to include: Roxette, 10,000 Maniacs, Alkaline Trio, Hair Soundtrack, a riot grrrl comp, The Cardigans, Avenged Sevenfold, and Neko Case.

I don’t want my CD’s to get lonely or mad at me! I don’t feel the same way about my books. In fact, I find it difficult to read a book more than once because I remember all of it far too well, dialog included! With few exceptions, I don’t even like watching my movies again for the same reasons. Of course, no Halloween would be complete without a viewing of “Beetlejuice” or “The Worst Witch”, and Christmas would be lost without “Elf” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. I watch “Elizabeth” and “Gosford Park” at least once a year, but that may have more to do with the costuming and actors than anything else.
Why do my CD’s torment me so???

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wish I Was Here

It's about that time again when I should be taking vacation and enjoying weather much cooler than my own. My family gets together every summer in the mountains of Pennsylvania, far from what I would consider civilization and relax, drink frozen beverages all day, and swim in the lake. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to go down the mountain to town and wander around the small shops and restaurants that only exist in movies. I miss it. It's my favorite place to go and as evident by the photos included in this blog, how could it not be?

As a Texan, I'm supposed to love the heat. I'm not supposed to sweat, just glisten. I'm supposed to laugh at the Northerners who complain, but something happened this year and I just can't do it anymore. I love their quirky ways:
-The perfect temperature for swimming in the freezing lake is about 72. Mind you, it never gets near 90 so I'm usually trotting down to the lake in a sweatshirt before I take the dramatic plunge that shocks my senses awake.
-The lake is not very big by lake standards yet I have gotten trapped in my canoe on the other side unable to make it back to the safety of the dock. Thankfully, I am a genius and always have my camera and smokes in a zip lock bag for just these occasions.
-Neighbors drop by with out warning and will stay until you make them leave. Sometimes they bring strangers with them, sometimes food.
-No one but my father and I like to leave the mountain. It's 15 minutes to town and 30 to a "city". The city's only offering is 2 fast food joints and a Walmart. But in town, we have The Dairy Bar. The greatest soft serve parlor in the world!! Plus, god bless her, my gram's cooking leaves much to be desired and we must leave to find sustenance in the real world.
-Northerners have no concept of time or space. I haven't seen my cousins in years because the 3 hour drive from Connecticut is "too far" to come for the weekend. Uh...I just came 1500 miles so get of your lazy ass and come say hi!
I wish I was there, or anywhere that wasn't here, right now. I want a vacation.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Goodyear Tire:

Last night I fucked my car up. One flat tire, and another one that simple exploded taking the hubcap with it. I couldn’t believe it. It is the family curse. Anytime something nice happens, something far worse is sure to follow.

So, I spent the night sitting on curb of a church parking lot waiting for AAA and my folks to show up and rescue me. First, I want to say what lovely people AAA is. The operator was very patient with me and even asked if “I felt safe”. How did she know my neighborhood so well?! Thankfully, I was just outside “Murderville” and felt pretty secure. I only saw one suspected crack head but was more concerned about the family of five walking down a busy street at night. Clearly they were members of some sort of grifter gang or rogue pack of accountants- much scarier!

When Stephen from A Tow 4 You showed up it was efficient and friendly. We agreed to take my car to the Firestone nearby and off we went. I should have known this was too easy. What did I just say about me luck? I don’t have it. The Firestone parking lot is down the street from the bar district and was covered in tow away signs. I got nervous. The girl who finally answered the number for the tow company could not assure me that my car would not get towed. She didn’t care that the car couldn’t even be driven they would find a way to take it. Added to this: Firestone has no answering machine, service, or care. Ring…ring….ring… I was going to stab myself in the ear or throw a rock at their window. Our fabulous tower saw the guy who tows from that area and drove over to ask him if we were safe there. He said yes, but Stephen didn’t trust him. He got into his truck and drove down the street to Goodyear to see if they had tow signs. They didn’t so we loaded up my car again and took it down the street. All free! A big shout out to Stephen and the fine crew at A Tow 4 You!

I called Goodyear and left them a message saying I was leaving my car outside. Their machine also listed an emergency number, so I called that one too. The guy who answered offered to send the manager out to move my car inside so it would be safer. Less then ten minutes later, one of the mechanics and his friend drove up and looked at my car.

“You know, I think I have these tires in stock. Let’s just take care of this now”

That’s right! At 10 PM on a Friday, my savior Beau and his friend opened the store, gave my mother and I free reign over the TV and put two new tires on my car. Amazing!! I couldn’t believe it.

“That’s just the kind of service we offer here at Goodyear”

You can say that again.
Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I highly recommend the fine people at Goodyear. They will certainly get my business from now on. After all was said and done, I went home and passed out. Clearly, I was not supposed to leave my house. The signs could not have been clearer. Thank you thank you thank you!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sympathy Puppies

It seems girls my age all have marriage and babies on the brain. They’re either getting married, want to get married, why aren’t they married! They want a baby, they’re having a baby, they’re stealing your baby! I don’t care. Can’t my life simply have the grand aspiration of becoming Goldie Hawn or Angie Jolie?? I’m talking to you Mom- go bug your youngest child who actually cares and wants all the same things you do. She’s already your doppelganger now leave me alone! (I’m sure there are men with similar yearnings, but I only know one and he’s a wack-a-do).

Hell, I’m not very girlie. Granted, I love make-up and dress up, but I’d much rather get dolled up, drink beer, watch two grown men flirt w/each other (I’m talking to you MMA!) then hang out with a bunch of ladies. Giggling. Being loud and annoying. Urgh. Ironic that I founded a ladies book club isn’t it? However, I will admit to one total act of girlishness. Small animals. Tiny animals. Animals sticking their tongues out at me. Tiny animals waiving. I want. That’s it- I want. I don’t really care what, but preferably cute and cuddly. This is what lead to my latest online obsessions, namely and

The former brought on an eight-hour desire to breed and raise bunnies. So cute and adorable. Never mind that they bite, and poop everywhere, and I have it on good authority they smell. I want! Thankfully my sister was there to talk me down and explain how irresponsible I was.
“You do realize they smell? And make noise? And you have to clean up after them?”
“No! They’re adorable! I want! Anyway, I saw these metal domes you can get so you can keep them outside. They can run and jump and be free!”
“Um… You live in an apartment. Where you gonna do this exactly?”
Of course, she was right, and I settled for saving and emailing pictures of bunnies (and hedgehogs, and baby goats) to everyone I know. I’m surprised they haven’t had me committed yet.

The second website has now taken over my life, kept me up at night, and ruined me for all other sites. Icanhas (as we in the know call it- I know, don’t say anything, I'm ashamed too) takes pictures of animals and makes captions for them. Sounds harmless, kinda stupid. Oh no. It is addictive, obsessive, and contagious. I blame my friend M. Because of her I’ve seen every posted page on that site (over 352) until there were no more pictures to see. Then, a miracle: You can vote for the pics, and see upcoming ones, and make your own, and my head just exploded!

At work, it seems everyone is getting a puppy and they all want to bring them by and show me: a lab puppy, a shih tzu, a mutt. The tipping point came when I discovered the twin beagle puppies tripping trough the grass. They were maybe 8 weeks old and I swear, my uterus dropped. I tried to hide one in my shirt but the damned owner had eagle eyes and caught me! I tried putting one in my purse the next time but was foiled again. Don’t these people know that I need, I WANT, their puppies?! I promise to give them back when they grow up and are not as cute. Come on!! Everyone else wants babies or husbands or boyfriends. I’ll take the last one, but only if it comes with a side of shiba inu.

PS- google search “Entlebucher Sennenhund” or “Entlebucher mountain dog”. Gimme!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I just had to share this. Please consider this as testement:

Roasted alive, or how I came to think I was so important

I'm not much of a narcissist. In fact, I doubt there is anyone I know who would label me as such. However, I'm pretty sure Texas is trying to kill me. Or at least beat me into submission.

My apartment is like a sauna but much less comfortable. It has become my latest obsession- this heat! It all I can think about or talk about or write about. Parts of me stick together that I never thought possible. I'm googling "blocks o'ice" looking for something to put in front of my oscillating fan. How did I used to wear hoodies all summer long? Clearly the activity of my youth has rotted my brain and ruined my bodies ability to regulate itself.

My vintage apartment is kept cool by an equally vintage window unit. Actually, my third unit in as few years. They keep dying and now I think I understand- they just want to be free! Last night it was actually cooler outside than it was inside and I cried for the first time in forever that was not directly related to a movie about puppies, sudden death, or Mandy Moore. Sometime around 5 AM I called my apartment manager and left a message threatening death and/or dismemberment if the problem was not resolved. I packed up my belongings, pet the cat on the head (and hoped he'd make it), and drove to work. To sleep. So sad.

So now I'm operating on about an hour of actual rest and a liter of coffee (thank you to my lovely friend who brought me Starbucks when the work machine was broken).

So, Texas; bring it on! I love you but I will hurt you if I have to. You would do go to remember all the nice things I've done for you, like that one time I thought about recycling or did not throw my kleenex out the open car window (even though I'm pretty sure birds will use it to make their homes). Keep it up and I'm leaving. It's not me, it's you.