Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Her talent is definitely "Comedy"

Found this via Facebook. It's from an Arizona beauty contest. Funny and baaaaad!

And the dancing!! Whew!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Books Week

Read a banned book, or just be aware of the reasons that books are challenged for their right to be in libraries or classrooms. Top three reasons for targeting a book:
  1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  2. the material contained "offensive language"
  3. the materials was "unsuited to any age group"
Reasons for the thousands of challenges from 2001 through 2008 (24% to public libraries):
  • “sexually explicit” material
  • “offensive language”
  • “unsuited to age group”
  • “violence”
  • “homosexuality”
  • “anti-family”
  • “religious viewpoints”
According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 42 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts. Read the reasons here, and explore the site for a lot more info year-by-year listings of challenged books.

Classics list is below.
  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  6. Ulysses by James Joyce
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. 1984 by George Orwell
  10. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
  11. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  13. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  14. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  15. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  16. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  17. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  18. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  19. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  20. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  22. Native Son by Richard Wright
  23. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  24. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  25. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  26. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  27. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  28. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
  29. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  30. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  31. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  32. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  33. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  34. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  35. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  36. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  37. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  38. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
  39. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  40. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  41. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  42. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

For some reason, The Bible has not been put on any lists, even though it has the whole list of qualifications for being challenged.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Must. Not. Watch.

...but it's just too hard to look away. Tom Delay dances to Wild Thing.

Your brain might need a shampoo afterward.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The price is right - again

I love this kind of shopping. When it's bulk trash day we (and lots of other people) like to cruise around and look for who-knows-what. Two years ago our next door neighbor threw away this very rustic hobbity (that's a word, right?) looking garden bench. I embarrassed myself by transporting the very heavy bench from the sidewalk into our backyard... scraping metal over our concrete driveway (and leaving a scrape-trail too). Well, if I hadn't taken it, someone else would have, and it's been very nice having it in the yard - that is, until it rotted.

Well, no worries. We went out and found this perfectly good wooden bench and matching tea cart (or whatever you'd call it). There was also a table and 4 chairs that would NOT fit in our little car. We were hauling it into the backyard just as someone pulled up and took our old microwave and pair of blown-out speakers we'd put on the sidewalk.

The wood is definitely weathered, but it will be kept out of the sun and rain now (the metal bistro from the porch will replace the hobbity bench outside). I will probably paint it in time. MrB wanted it painted "eggplant." I told him that color is also called "aubergine," (aubergine being French for eggplant) so that was his word for the weekend. Aubergine, aubergine, aubergine... everything that's a little bit purple is pointed at, and proclaimed to be "aubergine."

So here's to recycling... purple paint, and learning a new word every day.

The flip side of the Texas politician coin

Forget the "tails" (Rick Perry, Cornyn, and so many others). On the "heads" side, thoughtful, practically unflappable, and compassionate, we've got Rep. Lloyd Doggett. He might be a little boat on a stormy sea, but he's still staying strong.

Dear ( ):

Thank you for contacting me to share your support for protecting women's access to reproductive care in health reform. I strongly agree. Based on its scorecard, I have a 100% pro-choice voting record according to Planned Parenthood.

Ensuring that all American's have access to the health care that they need is a priority of mine. During the Ways and Means Committee mark up of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act, I voted against any amendments that would limit a woman's access to the health care that she and her doctor decide is best for her.

As you know, one in four of our neighbors lack health insurance, and premiums for the rest of us have doubled since 2000. It is tragic that health care costs are the number one source of both credit card debt and personal bankruptcy, while many lose coverage at the time they need it most. Instead of pouring more money into a failed system, I believe that offering more people the choice of a public plan like Medicare will spur real competition among private insurers. This health care bill is about greater individual choice, more competition, and limiting spiraling health care costs.

Rest assured, I will continue to work to ensure that all Americans have access to good, affordable coverage, for all their health care needs.

Please keep me advised of any federal matters with which I may be of assistance.

Sincerely,
Lloyd Doggett

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Going Postal - UK version


My friend over in the UK sent me a birthday present about a month ago, and I had been watching the mailbox for it for the past couple of weeks or so. It really doesn't take that long usually to get across the pond. I was starting to think that it was probably just lost. Sad, because I normally don't do gift exchanges - only with a couple of people (and my husband is not one of them), so I was sad that one of my 2 birthday "pressies" was gone missing. Turns out, it went to Australia first! It was addressed perfectly, and I guess I can see how a glance at the first 3 letters of "Austin" could have led to a mistake, but she said that a package she sent to her granddaughter in St. Louis ended up going though Jamaica first, and another item sent to the USA is still very much delayed.

There have been quite a few troubles in the UK with the postal workers' Union, and I'm wondering if unrest and resentments among their postal workers are leading to (perhaps rogue) incidents of this type... a tactical monkey wrench in the works. It's not inconceivable at all. Anyway, this little bear was one of the several items in the package checked for quarantine violations. Isn't he cute? He's from the London Hard Rock Cafe. He's got tattoos, an earring and a blue mohawk. Keeping him company now in the basket are the pig Babe (who also has kind of a mohawk) and Mr Bigglesworth from Austin Powers. Also in the package were added these pamphlets from the Australian government explaining what sort of stuff can be sent to Australia.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bad and really bad covers

Finally, a Jesus who shares the values of the Christian Right.

But don't use your hairspray near the flame.

The bigger the better.


Check out LP Cover Lover, collection of bad and really bad LP and 45 art. Many, many more to look at over there. Go. How can you resist?

Monday, September 14, 2009

August and September live music in Austin

I've been remiss. I have not been posting about the various music events that we've attended for quite a while, looks like August 3rd was the last time (for The Steps).

August 6 was Sarah Jarosz at Shady Grove, part of their summer series of free shows. Sarah’s debut CD on Sugar Hill records is so good it's like a grand slam home run. She was still in high school while she was recording it, and although it has a couple of covers, it’s mostly original material. She’s a wonderful singer/songwriter/player steeped in traditional music but definitely stretching out very creatively – and she has many of her mentors/inspirations playing on the record, people like Chris Thile, Tim O’Brien, and many more. We’ve been friends with Sarah and her parents for about 5 years. We got acquainted while waiting in line to see Nickel Creek (all of us being big Nickel Creek fans, plus I work for The Greencards who have always been big supporters and friends of Sarah). Now when Sarah plays a gig locally, you can bet that the audience will be packed with her friends, neighbors, relatives, half the people in Wimberley – all big supporters. She’s gone off to college in Boston now.

August 19 we went to a house concert with Bert Lams (California Guitar Trio) and Tom Griesgraber -- acoustic guitar wizardry. Tom actually plays the Chapman Stick, which is basically all neck and incorporates 6 strings each, guitar and bass all in one, and is played by tapping (a gross oversimplification... sorry). The way we met Bert (back in 2001) was a bit unusual. My friend showed up with him at a concert at Antone's. She had just picked him up at the airport, coming from Belgium (where he is from). She said that he was a guitar player, and we said "Great!" (a lot of the people we meet here are guitar players... it's a music town). Then we ran into them a bit later at Waterloo Records (CD release for Monte Montgomery), where they pointed out a flyer for his upcoming show as a member of the California Guitar Trio... so he was not just a guitar player, but quite an exceptionally talented one! (Check out CGT on Myspace)

August 29 was Eric Johnson at Tim's Porch at the Backyard. We have missed seeing EJ, he has been in the studio and touring out there in not-Austin. He was back playing with Alien Love Child, which is Bill Maddox on drums and Chris Maresh on bass. It's more of a blues jam outfit than some of his other combos. Eric is my favorite guitar player, whether it's acoustic or electric. Lots of folks I know both in person and online came from other states (Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado) and cities for the show. EJ is a world-class player, highly regarded in the world of guitar players. I got acquainted with EJ from having done some support work on his website awhile back (I also conducted an interview with him once), and not only is he brilliant as a musician, he's a super-nice person.

I wish that was a better picture. September 6th we took advantage to not having to get up on Monday morning, and went to Momo's for James Hyland and Warren Hood. Warren always puts on a great show, and it's different from time to time, depending on who's playing in the band. He had Emily Gimble on vocals and keyboards, she's a sweet jazz singer, and also happens to be the granddaughter of the legendary Johnny Gimble from Bob Wills' Playboys. New to me was the clarinet and saxophone of John Doyle. Wow. He added such a dimension to the sound. I can't wait to hear him again. I think the most impressive thing was Willie Pipkin on guitar. I've loved Willie's playing for years , but he was just exceptionally good that night (Willie, James, and Warren are all ex-South Austin Jug Band, another band I did some work for before they broke up). Then, of course, there's Warren (usually on fiddle/vocals). His music ranges from swing jazz to classical to bluegrass and more, always great. He plays fiddle for The Waybacks, but locally here, people just know him because he's Warren. This show was extra fun because Miss Toni Price was in the house (she has moved back from California - she's home again), looking fabulous, dancing and enjoying the show. She got up on stage for a bit. How could she not? Shows like this are just Pure Austin.

September 9 and 12 were Band of Heathens days. The 9th was a CD release in-store at Waterloo Records, and the 12th was full-on rockin' show at Antone's. We hadn't seen them since the Austin City Limits TV show taping (where I caught the tambourine and won't let anyone forget it - John, the band's drummer, left some comments on that post) and since those boys have been growing in popularity so much lately it's getting hard to see them. They'd been in Europe before that, and all over the country, a couple of quick breezes through Texas, and now back to Europe. No actual shows in Austin until December (at the Armadillo Bazaar) [edit: just realized that there is one at Whole Foods for HAAM Day on 9/22]. They are outgrowing us. It happens. No more being able to see them every week at Momo's or the Saxon Pub. They have sure got some great songs and a lot of soul too. A great live band, just like all the others in this post.

That pretty much rounds out the last month or so in our live music. This week there's Redd Volkaert and Heybale playing free at Sholz Garten on Wednesday, Hayes Carll playing free at Shady Grove on Thursday (those are tentative and will come with cat penalties) and Friday is MilkDrive and Marshall Ford Swing Band at the Cactus Cafe. Maybe Del Castillo the week after... another bash at Antone's. Then... possibly... the ACL Festival. We'll see. :-)

Tags: - - -

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The beaches are safe, it's the sand that will kill you

Ah crap. Just one more thing to add to the lengthening list of things to freak out over.
Beaches pose super-bug risk: study
The so-called superbug MRSA, a multiresistant strain of staphylococcus usually found in hospitals, has been discovered for the first time on US beaches, a study said.
...
Hygiene is always important and make sure you get all the sand off... and cover cuts and bruises on the skin
So there you go. Just get all the sand off and put bandaids on every location where germs can enter. No problemo.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bring on the Flying Spaghetti Monster!


I see this headline on Raw Story about the cafeteria provider whose mission it was "to serve God", and all I can think of is that great old line from The Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man":

It's a cookbook!!!


If it turns out to be made of spaghetti, you can have my meatballs.

What sprouted all this crazy?

A "driveway moment*" yesterday on NPR's Fresh Air: The guest was Max Blumenthal, author of Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. I haven’t read the book, but based on this interview it sounds like a really interesting book.


One of the ‘founding fathers” of the rightwing fringe movement that he discusses is R.J. Rushdoony, who, among other things, wanted to establish a Christian totalitarian theocracy using the Law of the Old Testament (which would very much resemble the Islamic theocracies whose barbaric policies are so repugnant to anyone who loves freedom, featuring such things as a death penalty for immoral women or homosexuality, etc.). Another major player he talks about is James Dobson and his tactics (who many people call “Reverend”, but actually not a Reverend at all), including causing Sarah Palin to be put on the McCain ticket. Then there’s (I’m ashamed to say, “Austin’s own”) Alex Jones, who has these paranoids convinced that Obama’s about to herd them into internment camps under the guise of FEMA.

Here are a couple of Blumenthal’s videos that he has taken in the very belly of the beast.

Gun Show Nation (Inside Anti-Obama Extremist Gun Culture)


Theocracy Now! Convention 2007

*driveway moment: when what's on the radio is so good that you continue to listen in the car after you reach your destination.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Furbaby Friday - The belly itcher

click to enlargeJax has some issues. He has some very itchy skin, it seems to be the most itchy on the right nipple, and he mercilessly licks that area and the rest of the belly until it's bloody (not to mention hairless... I know now that he will never have hair on his belly). Then we take him to the vet and get him a shot of DepoMedrol (a steroid), and if needed, something for the infection he usually has by then. Here he is in his own personal hell involving the wearing of a hated piece of clothing - an e-collar. Below, he's either making the most of having to wear it, or trying to shmooze me until I take it off of him out of sympathy. Sometimes that works. Look at his poor naked belly.

He's been through the mill, as they say, when it comes to trying to find out the cause. We've had him skin-prick allergy tested at the animal dermatologist, and he has loads of allergies which require shots. So far the shots have not affected the belly itches. He's been on Prozac and Prednisone (both as ear gel, because it's almost impossible to pill him), neither of those had any effect, but then ear gels are less effective than pills. He's tried low-allergen food, and various topical sprays, both prescription and OTC. Antihistamines might help if I could get pills in him. GAAAAH!

After his Depo shot, he's nice and non-itchy for about 3 weeks. Life is good. Trouble is, steroids can bring on problems such as diabetes, so we stretch him out as long as possible (this time it was less than 6 weeks, with the last 3 weeks being spent in the collar a lot, and belly-licking the rest of the time.

I will spare you all a closeup of the violated belly, but you can see a bit of the damage here as he enjoys a little break. You gotta love this guy, belly issues and all.


Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Three Tabby Cats in Vienna - -

Monday, September 07, 2009

Baby food


[LINK to slideshow] Yes, those are real pears, and they grew on the tree like that, check out the rest of the examples at the link. When the fruit or vegetable is small, they put it in a mold so that it conforms to the desired shape.

They have square watermelons (easier to stack!), star-shapes cucumbers, apples with Apple® logos and more.

Also in the slideshow, a few naturally occurring weird and funny-shaped fruits and veggies.

David Bowie honored with spider

[LINK] It's large with reddish-blond hair, named Heteropoda davidbowie, and endangered. Read more about it at the link.

This is my "not another big damn close-up spider picture" version. If you want to see all the hairs and eyeballs, click here.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Basterds and the smell of Mandom

Went to see Inglourious Basterds yesterday (more on that at the end of the post), and the Alamo Drafthouse showed a couple of these Japanese MANDOM cologne commercials featuring Charles Bronson as part of their pre-show. They are hilarious! Bronson has a habit of throwing his clothing in the air. Also he is usually alone when he is reveling in his own mandom. Wonderfully bizarre. Hope you don't mind the stained-glass penises shown in the first few seconds of this one.

Another clothing-throwing episode, removing the MANDOM cap makes bullet sounds, and he puts enough of it on his body to turn him into a weapon - a smell-bomb.

More MANDOM Charles Bronson commercials on Youtube

Inglourious Basterds
[IMDB]
No Spoilers

If you like Quentin Tarantino's stuff, I think you'll like this. Some people have actually complained that it's not violent enough for a QT movie. Really? And so what anyway? There's plenty of that, believe me, but the conversations are always the most important thing, and there will be payoff. There's humor too, mostly centered around or coming from Brad Pitt's character. I have to mention that his Southern accent is atrocious, and I believe deep-down that it must be intentionally so. That, in itself, adds humor. His heavy Southern-American accent added to his Italian completely reminded me of my mother when she tried to speak Greek. It was exactly like that.

I love Brad Pitt as a character actor. I don't have a crush on him like most people do (except when he played Achilles [pic] - that one leaves me weak)

Besides Pitt, big highlights are Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus and Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa. I was not familiar with either of these.

The trivia file on this movie is ultra-rich. In case you haven't seen it, the spoiler trivia is well-marked and at the bottom.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fresh Despair for the holiday


Stay safe if you're traveling this weekend! We will be staycationing... as usual.

Latest Demotivator from Despair.com.

The sickness of the situation

Summed up beautifully here in jabs at the insurance companies:

Pirates of the Health Care-ibean

and drug companies:
The Drugs I need


If you like those, check out more satirical songs (like "Jesus Loves Me but He Can't Stand You" and "Shallow End of the Gene Pool") by the Austin Lounge Lizards.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Kittens make it better

Are you sick of the news? Sick of politics? But still obsessed with it so you can't stay away from your favorite current events sites? So much ugliness! Mark Sanford, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Sarah Palin (for crap's sake! Why the hell aren't they gone?) and the birthers, deathers and teabagger morans?

Here's a partial fix. Create a bookmark for this Kittenify link (drag to toolbar, right-click, control-click, whatever works).

Then go to any page you like, click your bookmark, and the images are replaced with pictures of kittens (or at least tagged as kitten) on Flickr.

[Created by Reload.Me (includes more details)]
[Found via J-Walk]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Well, this is awkward...

...mostly for the cats.

I found this through the site Awkward Family Photos, found via a Facebook friend. She posted the picture of the little girl holding her pet skunk. I had a pet skunk when I was a little girl too, and *all* family photos to me are pretty uncomfortable, so I'm really enjoying browsing the pics.

Owl cuteness

Malay Eagle Owl, so cute and loves to get head scritches. His eyes don't even look real.