Wednesday, April 30, 2008

looking for the mouse...

HERE is a neat article by author Clay Shirky on the topic of where our society, as consumers of media, are going. His theories are fascinating, and I particularly like the way he makes parallels between modern sitcoms and gin pushcarts from the early industrial revolution. here's a snippet of one of his punchier points, for the link averse:

So [watching less television is] the answer to the question, "Where do they find the time?" Or, rather, that's the numerical answer. But beneath that question was another thought, this one not a question but an observation. In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: "Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves."

At least they're doing something.

Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don't? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half-hour that I watched that was a half an hour I wasn't posting at my blog or editing Wikipedia or contributing to a mailing list. Now I had an ironclad excuse for not doing those things, which is none of those things existed then. I was forced into the channel of media the way it was because it was the only option. Now it's not, and that's the big surprise. However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it's worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.

the title refers to the fact that a friend of his has a 4-year old who sprung up in the middle of a dvd to root around in the cables behind their entertainment center to "look for the mouse". because children today think that if their entertainment isn't interactive, it's probably not worth sitting through. as someone who hasn't sat down to watch tv on anything approaching a regular basis in three years, i heartily agree with the kid.

Monday, April 28, 2008


yesterday dawned uncharacteristically cloudy and cold for a texas spring. from a low of 50 to a high of 65? this is our winter weather, not our april weather! so, i did the only thing a right-thinking person could do to console herself in such cold temperatures. i made gumbo. i made yummy, dark brown roux, added andouille sausage (because bratwurst does not a good gumbo make!), peppers, onions, okra, mushrooms, and - at the very last possible minute - sweet texas gulf shrimp. yum!!!

the last time i did this, i left it all in my big soup pot and heated the whole mess up whenever i wanted leftovers. this had the unfortunate consequence of overcooking the delicate okra and shrimp and so it was a bit ... mushy ... after a few days. this time, i packed it up in small tubs and froze it. of course, we ate it for dinner last night, but as anyone who's made stew or casserole or sauce knows, the best time to eat it is the day after cooking. after all those lovely ingredients have had time to really SOCIALIZE, get to know each other, converse, buy each other a drink, make out, mingle themselves inextricably, smoke a cigarette... the next morning when they're all putting their socks back on and promising to call each other is really when you should be setting out your bowl and spoon. i'm looking forward to dinner tonight in ways i'm afraid i cannot put into words. forgive me if i drool.

thanks to rose for the lovely suggestion... and for shopping for all the bits with me ... and for not murdering me when i interjected, "crap! i have no celery!" while standing before a nearly-done roux at the stove last night.

Friday, April 25, 2008


i got my hair cut today. i love my stylist; he's an atrociously cute gay boy who can give me a men's business cut or a modern girly cut with equal aplomb. today his hair was EXACTLY the same color as his skin, only about three shades darker. it gave him a weirdly monochromatic look, so he said he was going to get some lowlights to break it up and make it more interesting. he sorta looked like a ken doll, really, but after "don't ask. don't tell." was repealed and ken could just come on out of the closet and tell barbie how badly she needed that lip wax all along.

now, last week, i had an amusing conversation with a fairly buttoned-down and well-groomed sort of lesbian i am acquainted with. she and i were with a group of friends at a play in phoenix. the play is a whole other post in itself, but i'll summarize it with the blurb they used in the publicity "lesbian erotic fiction dramatized and set to music." now, i ask you, aware readers - do you think any lesbian story EVER needs to be dramatized? i mean, further than it already is by virtue of the fact that it's a lesbian story, whether fiction or non-fiction? anyway, we were sitting in our seats waiting for the show to start, and the two rows in front of us were reserved. just a few minutes before the show, a gaggle of fashionably mussed and well-dressed lesbians came in and filled up those reserved seats. and the lady next to me leaned over and whispered, "doesn't anybody comb their hair anymore?" she had a point. these ladies were pushing the bed-head look to its fashionable limits. being the straight-shooter i am, i leaned over and whispered back that they had stopped issuing combs to lesbians born after 1980, because of the budget cuts. of course, by the time that had wended its way telephone-game-style down the row of friends, it came out something like "they stopped making combs in the 80s because of the petroleum crisis." whatever.

then i walked out of my hair appointment looking like one of those uncombed gals from the play last week... my stylist gave me a modern girly cut today, and bless his heart if he didn't try to iron it flat so it would lay down against my noggin. curls just don't do that, but if he pastes 'em down with gel and i put my motorcycle helmet on right afterward while the gel sets, i can kinda make 'em behave for a few hours. i can't wait to see what the wedding planner and the photographer have to say about that...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

screaming babies


It's totally safe for work, just a serial from the comic strip Non Sequitur on the subject of small children on commercial aircraft. Really, as much as I travel, I've been stunningly (*crossing my fingers, toes, and a few hairs for good measure*) lucky on this score. Yesterday, I was on a plane with a small child and his mother, and they were both very well behaved. He was somewhere between 2 and 3 years old and I base this guess on what I know about language development in kids. At that age, tykes have enough word-sounds at their disposal to communicate pretty much exclusively with their caregivers. I offer you a hypothetical: I'm standing in the kitchen at my sister's house (okay, maybe this isn't entirely hypothetical) and my niece comes in there and says, "muh!" So as I stand there, I start running through all the things that this could signify - Mom, More, Movie, Mickey and the Motorcars, Marvelous Mel's Monster Movie Marathon... I'm at a loss. I don't know what the kid wants. My sister passes by and sees her daughter plaintively trying "MUH!" louder and more insistently at the idiot grownup who is alliterating in the kitchen. "Oh," she says. "You want more milk, honey? Ok. Bring me your cup." Whereupon, my niece toddles off and comes back with a purple plastic elephant, I think; whatever it was did not look like anything I would describe as a 'cup'. My sister performs some ancient Indonesian massage ritual on the elephant that looks like something Indiana Jones does when disarming booby traps in the Temple of Doom and when she finishes, there is a hollow space inside the elephant that she pours milk into. She performs the ritual in reverse, hands the elephant to my niece, and the kiddo toddles off happily, sucking on the elephant's trunk. I think.

Anyway, that's about where this particular flying kid was in his stage of vocabulary development. He made sounds that only his mother could possibly have interpreted as words, but he had no trouble parsing her instructions regarding sitting up and keeping his seat belt buckled. She did a good job keeping him quietly entertained, fed, watered, and calm throughout the flight. So, if you flew to Tucson yesterday with a little boy who likes his Thomas the Tank engine and were sitting next to a gigantic amazon who was working a crossword -- kudos to you and your kid for flying well. Not everyone manages it so gracefully.

Monday, April 14, 2008


this weekend, rose and i got out together for some much-needed road therapy. we rode down to college station to visit my godsons and took the mobile dog unit with us. it's amazing how cars that are BLAZING up the lane to our left will suddenly slow down when confronted with a dog kennel on wheels. i find it hysterically amusing. i imagine that guys who drive old police cruisers get the same sort of giggle when they come up behind someone who suddenly starts driving a lot more lawfully after they catch that shape in the rearview mirror. we seem to create waves wherever we go, and i'm part exhibitionist, so i like it.

there is something kinda magical about driving a motorcycle. people NEVER stop to talk to me at gas stations when i'm in my truck. i've been told in various contexts that i'm not really approachable. sometimes that's a compliment, and sometimes it's not, but for one reason or another... i'm not approachable. unless i'm on a motorcycle. then people want to know "how far you ride that thing" and "what kinda bike is it" and "are you a real girl" and all those sorts of questions. it's TEN TIMES WORSE when i have the dogs with me. this is actually fine with me, because i really am a pretty friendly sort and i love talking about projects i've worked on and, as i said, i'm part exhibitionist. rose and i built that trailer two christmases ago, and it's fun to explain to people how we got the idea and how we engineered it and put it together. it's not complicated, but it is unusual.

rose's dad had a great story for us recently: he works at a deli and this couple pulled up to the store on motorcycles with a trailer just like ours in tow. he got to chatting with them about it, because he thought we were daft to build ours in the first place and he wanted to know what madness had possessed them. it turns out they had seen one on the highway a few years before and had been so intrigued they turned their truck around and followed it for a few miles to snap a picture and study it. he asked what the bikes and trailer they had seen looked like... sure enough it was us. he said he felt proud to tell them that it was his daughter's trailer they'd seen. winning converts over left and right, we are!

of course, we ourselves got the idea from seeing someone else pulling a trailer like this behind their motorcycle. in fact, i nearly flipped rose's bike trying to get a better look at it, because i was still riding on the back of hers at that point. anyway, it's been fun to have it out every time and the dogs sure seem to enjoy it. it beats the heck outta tying them to my pillion with a bungee net. they'd probably sit still if i got them some little doggles to wear over their eyes, but i don't think i could teach them how to counter-lean in the slow turns...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


i hurt my neck last week by sleeping "wrong" on a plane to denver. i had a couple of very bad days and took a lot of advil and did a bunch of stretching and it mostly chilled itself out. yea! then i came home and slept "wrong" on a plane and played a rugby game. why? well, because i'm firmly convinced that people think i'm brighter than i really am and i occasionally have to prove that point. ok, i might be lying about that last part. but have you ever fantasized about how much better volleyball would be if they'd allow tackling? if you have, then you probably understand why i can't give up rugby in any permanent sense.

so i spent an hour or so saturday putting my head and neck into tight corners that really weren't conducive to recuperating the erstwhile injury. meaning: i re-injured it. and then i came home and cried about it until rose offered to go get me a muscle relaxer. sometimes, i wonder if "muscle relaxer" isn't her personal secret code for "pillow over your face" but whatever. i injured myself a while back so i had a couple of pills left over from those prescriptions and she dug one out and gave it to me. and it worked! my muscles relaxed and i drifted off to sleep after muttering some particularly choice nonsense that popped into my head in the twilight of consciousness. this is how rose gets her revenge. she records these silly mutterings in her brain and reminds me of them the next morning after i've had some coffee. i am always properly contrite after being reminded how odd the dark corners of my nigh-sleeping brain are.

i awoke in the middle of the night and i needed to get up and go to the bathroom. you would be AMAZED at how heavy muscle relaxers make you. i was three times my normal bodyweight as i moved across the room. or, at the very least, it was three times harder to move myself across the room.

the next day, i chewed down advil all day long and kept my tender knee on ice and stretched a lot and my neck was JUST FINE. that was great! alas, all the scrapes and bruises that i'd been able to ignore the night before due to the adrenaline of having played a great game of rugby started catching up with me. further, this was when i started to notice that every muscle i owned (except my uterus, really) was in pain. ouch.

sunday night we're settling in to bed and i start crying about how sore i am and rose growls: "do you want a muscle relaxer?!?!" (emphasis mine) i think she was about ready to kill me. instead, i asked for just a painkiller and another round of anti-inflammatories.

monday night... lather, rinse, repeat. this time, when rose suggested i take a muscle relaxer i suggested that she bring ME a painkiller but get a muscle relaxer for herself. it won't shut me up, but it'll certainly make me easier to tolerate.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

dear the universe:

please to stop immediately with the stealing of my stuff. in the past week you have robbed me of my bluetooth earpiece (in Houston), my etymotics headphones (in Denver), my ethernet cable (in Huntington Beach), and a copious supply of advil. ok, i probably ate the advil. but i only did so because you keep stealin mah shitz! so cut it out.

yours truly,