Wednesday, November 29, 2006

That's no string bikini!

Does this guitar make my butt look big?

What guitar? I'm just happy to see you, baby!

Wang twang banger.

EDIT Dec. 2007: Well, dang. the link went broken but I found the text of the article:
Man Tried to Hide Guitar in Pants
Nov 28, 10:48 PM (ET)

DE QUEEN, Ark. (AP) - The guitar-shaped bulge in Morgan Conatser's clothing tipped off a music store owner that there might be a crime in progress. Clifton Lovell, owner of Guitars and Cadillacs on U.S. Highway 71 in De Queen, was talking with a customer last week when he saw Conatser, 29, walking out of the store.

"I saw him walking out to his pickup truck and the bulges in his leather jacket. I said, 'Hey what have you got there,'" Clifton Lovell said.

He said Conatser, 29, replied, "Nothing."

Lovell pointed toward the unnatural shapes in Conatser's jacket and pants and said, "You've got something."

Conatser then removed a solid body electric guitar from his pants leg and from underneath his jacket.

"The neck of the guitar was almost down to his knee and the back of the guitar was almost up to his neck. It wasn't hard to spot. There was no way he could sit down or get into the pickup," Lovell said.

With the guitar back in the store, Lovell didn't intend to call the sheriff's office. But then he discovered a wireless sound system was missing. Lovell called the Sevier County Sheriff's Department and gave a description of Conatser and his pickup.

Deputy Jeff Wahls called Conatser's father, who told Wahls how to find the house.

The deputy found Conatser at home, where Conatser went to his bedroom closet and retrieved the sound system, Wahls said.

"He made a statement saying he needed the property because he needed to make ends meet," Wahls said.

Conatser was arrested on a charge of theft of property under $500 for the sound equipment because the guitar had already been returned to the shop owner. The sound system was worth about $200.

"This is a new one on me and I couldn't believe he tried," Lovell said. "The strings were pressed down and he didn't make any noise."

Conatser was issued a misdemeanor citation and released. Conatser can resolve the charge by paying a fine or he can contest the charge in Sevier County.

[New link, hopefully still there]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tagged! 6 Weird Things

Hill Country gal has tagged me!

According to the rules...
Each player of this game starts with the “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

6 weird things about me? Only 6?

#1 The Little Engine That Can't
I can't swim... or ride a bike. Can't surf, can't water ski or snow ski or snowboard, can't ice skate, and can't roller skate in a buffalo herd. It has to do with some phobia that doesn't seem to have a name. Not all phobias have names, or at least not names published on the interweb.

#2 These Are The Things I Can Live Without
I have absolutely no desire to go white-water rafting, kayaking, skydiving, bungee-jumping or rock climbing. I have gotten very safety-conscious in my middle-age, and beside, see #1 - can't swim... and those phobia things again.

#3 Can't Buy Me Love
I hate being given expensive gifts, and/or romantic gifts. Roses (any cut flowers, really), "precious" stones like diamonds have no value to me. If a man gives me a gift like this, I think he must feel guilty about something he's done. It will not have the desired effect on me. I don't mind little heartfelt gifts as long as they are cheap. Funky, funny, unusual jewelry is much better appreciated, or a living plant for the yard. And puh-lease no lingerie (until I lose 10 pounds). Socks are preferred.

#4 Sunday Funnies
I am a church-going atheist. The church is Unitarian Universalist and is creedless. I love the regular minister they have there, although he is taking a sabbatical right now to write a book or something. Wise man. I would never voluntarily go to a christian church or any other organized meeting where people tell you what you should believe (unless it was for a funeral or wedding or something).

#5 Might As Well Face It
I'm addicted to the internet. Is that so bad? Is it even weird anymore?

#6 Eye of the Beholder
Those are my feet in the picture. I wore those socks and shoes. On the street. In public. In a place of business. I have another pair with penguins on them. Saving those for the screening of Happy Feet at the IMAX. I buy my shirts in the children's section of Goodwill. I manage to squeeze my girth into a child's size L or XL, and their shirts have graphics that are much more fun than the boring old adult stuff. I get the rest of my shirts off of bands' merch tables or websites. Tell me again why I have to grow up?

Here's a year old post with 100 things about me, including some just mentioned. Sometimes I just freak myself out. Oh well... easily amused, I suppose. I'm not scary. Honest!

I am tagging these folks:
Michael Bains
Undeniable Liberal

EDIT: ooops! I only tagged 5 people! I broke the rules, then. [snicker... ducking and running] Sorry about that! RobertG, I would tag you but I didn't know if you wanted to reactivate your blog.

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's Fruitcake Season!

Don't you love all the bizarro stories that crop up during this holiday season?

Woman faces fines for wreath peace sign [LINK]
DENVER - A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said.

Well, if that doesn't make you go Ho Ho Ho...

Soooo, these people somehow think that a symbol of peace somehow conflicts with the so-called goals in the Iraq war... I mean, how dare someone wish for peace when their children are fighting! The nerve of some people! And now I'm wondering which churches are teaching their sheeple that the peace symbol is a sign of Satan. I'm also wondering if they screen the neighborhood Halloween decorations with the same guidelines... when there actually are decorations out that could be considered affiliated with "evil".

The article goes on to say "Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members."

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Buy Buy American Pie

I was reading Nick's post about the seasonal consumer binge and "Buy Nothing Day". Then I pulled up an ABC Online video through Yahoo about "holiday rage". Now that's quite a term, isn't it? Nothing new, just a new buzzword for the rudeness, depression, and crass consumerism that overcomes people this season.

It's really a vicious cycle, isn't it? I mean, the only way to stop the insanity is to start with yourself, and stop participating in and supporting the things you hate. We have gotten much better over the years but are still not guilt-free. Even though I don't personally celebrate Christmas or any other holiday in December, I am trapped in the cycle. There is a very small number of people who we exchange gifts (and/or cards) with this month, mostly Mr. B's family and friends, and one mutual friend.

On Black Friday we didn't exactly "buy nothing". We went to an indie record store and bought 3 CDs, 2 copies of one released that day and one that was released earlier in the week... soooo, yes, even though we supported no chain stores we actually "bought something" including one gift. We always give our friend in Wyoming a copy of the KGSR Broadcast CD that's released on the day after Thanksgiving. He can't get it up there unless he does mail order and we are happy to provide -- besides it keeps us in touch with him -- it forces us to write each other once a year. (Besides, the proceeds go to charity) So we always send him that, plus a little something for his cat, and he does the same for us.

As for Mr. Bs family, we have established a tradition of sending them something we created through Cafepress. In past years, it's been coffee mugs with our picture on them. This year it's even better, it's a calendar so there's even more pictures of us!! Oh joy!! What's not to like about that!?! It's also even better because they can throw it away at the end of next year without feeling guilty (not so with a coffee mug). heh heh... Also, it's easier than knitting everyone a butt-ugly sweater that doesn't even fit. (Riiight, as if I knit!!! Haven't ever knitted anything more complicated than a belt.) A personalized item from Cafepress will cost probably $10-$20 depending on what it is, and people aren't satisfied with a gift like that, then I have to wonder what they think all this gift-giving frenzy is really about. If people are using each other to get stuff, that is a sick and dysfunctional situation.

But to get back on track of the original subject, this whole cycle of ugly consumerism will not slow down until each person participates in slowing it down. It doesn't have to stop, it just needs to become sane again.

And puh-lease don't try telling me it's about the baby Jesus. That's been debunked. And if it's about baby Jesus for you, why not help out some needy people instead of trying to impress someone who doesn't need anything? You can't buy love. Never could.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Cat - Sick and tired

Here is Duncan in a pic taken yesterday. His front legs are shaved because of the IVs they used last week. It's been a rough week. Last Thursday, the 16th, is when his heart problem showed up, he spent that day, night, and next day at the vet. He was sent home with pills, which he has to have, but not only is he not a good pill-taker, they seem to be upsetting his stomach. Anyway, he is throwing up and barely eating. On Monday I took him back to the vet because he had only eaten about 2 tsps. of food in 3 days, and that came back out... so they gave him a shot of Reglan and a tin of Fancy Feast. Not his recommended food, but he needed to eat something, and he actually ate some of it. Friday, he goes back to the vet for a followup, and he may need something more for his tummy. Poor little baby.

Alex went to the vet on the 16th too, he's got chronic tummy troubles so he got some more meds which have made him seem very feeble and lethargic. He's been so meek that he's been allowed to mix with Henry and Duncan. He even allowed Henry to smell his butt. This is like hell freezing over.

In good news, Henry seems to feeling fine, and so is Jax except that he needs a steroid shot Friday for his itchy skin (he licks the hair off, then licks the skin off, then the scabs, etc.). It works for about a month.

EDIT post-vet-visit Friday evening: Well, it's not good news. Duncan's blood work now shows kidney failure as well. This is a lot to deal with, and our main concern right now is getting him to eat enough to sustain him. He is in a good mood, and even a little playful. Mr. B has learned how to give him shots, so he will get his meds that way or smeared on the ear from now on. Less stressful for everyone, and more reliable than pilling. Sorry about having another downer for catblogging. :-(

EDIT Saturday: As if that weren't enough for one week, we have now had to take Alex to the vet in an emergency. He was getting more and more lethargic since his vet visit last week, but his symptoms progressed early this morning to being dizzy, disoriented, he was falling down, and very very weak. He is on IV fluids right now and we don't know anything yet, but their first impulse was that he was having a toxic reaction to one of his new meds. That makes sense to me. Still waiting for news. We will be transporting him to the night/weekend emergency vet very shortly, and we may learn more then. EDIT Saturday afternoon: Looks like we are dealing with metronidazole toxicity. He will be hospitalized all weekend and possibly beyond. EDIT Monday: Alex will be coming home this afternoon, but his recovery could be a long one as he will be dizzy and disoriented for an unknown length of time. We will need to make sure that wherever he is that a fall would bring a soft landing. Roaming loose in the house is off-limits as there are stairs.

Links and Tags: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Scribblings - -

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks Giving

I thought about delving into Thanksgivings Past, but that's rather unpleasant. Thanksgiving Present is much saner. I shun most traditions that are handed to me, and don't generally enjoy rituals made up by other people, so holidays have to have our own made-up traditions. We went to the Alamo Drafthouse, which is a movie theater with a full menu including booze. Mr. B had chips and queso with a couple of beers, I had a glass of wine and a veggie pizza (a generous personal-sized one). Thanksgiving is not "Eating Day" for me, and it's obviously not Turkey Day. We saw Casino Royale which was very good, and breaks a lot of the Bond-movie formula rules. I like Daniel Craig!

If it's a day to give thanks, I would thank Mr. B for being who he is, and for putting up with my quirks (they ain't goin' away!). I thank the people I do business with for trusting me to take care of things. I try to earn it. I thank all the musicians, artists, and artisans who have enriched my life with their gifts. I thank all those folks at the club entrances who believed I was who I said I was even if my name got left off the list. I thank these cats for being our "kids". I thank all the people who visit this blog regularly, and I look forward to your comments (except for the racist, that one can bugger off).

No "Black Friday" for us. We will go to Waterloo Records tomorrow and pick up the latest KGSR compilation (one to keep and one to give away), plus Loreena McKennitt has a new one out. Two cats have vet appointments in the afternoon, and late evening we are planning to spend at Momo's seeing Rob Socia Band and The Band of Heathens. The weather is ideal here, it will be 75-80 degrees most of the rest of the week.

Are we there yet?

Scott Adams has a good post up on atheism and its perception in society since 9/11. He also points out that there are 2 books promoting atheism on the best seller list right now. That's a good point.

I'm not quite sure if there's been much progress toward tolerance of godlessness in this country. Actually, right after 9/11, things got worse for awhile as part of a knee-jerk reaction against all non-christians.

I even lost a job over it in 2001, I'm certain of it but there's no way to prove it. I was a temp working toward regular hire when I was derailed by a casual comment uttered in the break room where the TV was on showing the prep for the war in Afghanistan -- the newspaper had an article about how some local atheists were offended by there being so much God-centrism in America's rhetoric and commemorations (I am paraphrasing), that they were as equally horrified and disturbed as any American by the events of 9/11 but were, just the same, offended by all the official government religiousity. A couple of the good old boys said that they oughta send them damned atheists over to Afghanistan. Since I didn't respond to that with a "hell yeah", they asked me if I was one of them. I said it didn't matter if I was one of them or not, they had the right of free speech and were not being un-patriotic. (I'm not crazy about the idea of fist-fighting a couple of big strapping men, so I tried to be tactful in my response. I never mentioned my (lack) of beliefs as I felt that it was irrelevent... or should have been.) The VERY same afternoon, I was called into the office and told that business was very bad since the attacks and they would be letting me go, and unfortunately other people (referred to as "real employees") would be laid-off as well. It was a very small company, family-owned business and gossip makes the rounds. Funny I hadn't heard any scuttlebutt of lack of sales. The whole thing was bullshit, their business was not subject to declining that quickly. But if you are a temp, you are let go with no notice and no reason needing to be given to anyone.

Of course, there has been a whole circle of events that have happened since 9/11, and maybe Scott has a good point, things may be coming around. Of course, the more of us who "come out", the more acceptance there will be when people begin to realize that some of their favorite people are actually non-believers. Check out this list. Anybody there that you like? Think about it... hating someone for not believing what you do... is that really the way you want to be?

I still think there's a loooong road ahead for us, we are still in a place where I am not comfortable with divulging this particular aspect of myself freely in all situations because I would fear... oh... I dunno... being killed. I don't think we're quite there.

Links and Tags: This carnival of the godless is at Hellbound Alleee on Sunday - - - -

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bakin' bovine

Bevo there is the mascot of the (UT) Longhorns, and these are called Bevo Brownies. Normally you wouldn't want brownies made by a cow, would you? These are fortunately not made by a cow, but by someone named Marcia, or someone who works for Marcia. I'll bet they smell a whole lot better than the ones Bevo normally makes in patty form. Now, I wonder if Marcia stirs in a few "burnt oranges"?

Get your flamenco-gypsy blues on

For all those headed off in new or different directions this weekend, here's a beautiful guitar instrumental by Del Castillo called "El Camino menos Transitado", or "The way less traveled" (I think that's the English translation).

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The Day America Died

When this date rolls around, just seeing it is like a punch in the stomach... very much like seeing the date September 11, except that this event happened at a much more impressionable time for me, I grew a lot older that day... that four days. Last year I created a more extensive post, so here is a link to that if you want to read it.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

TMZ gets the goods on another racist

They are the ones, as I recall, who were the first to get the scoop and footage on Mel Gibson's last big PR mistake. Mel Gibson is a big enough star with enough diverse entertainment accomplishments (plus there was supposedly rehab...) to be able to keep his career and most of his fans (hey... they had to already know about the anti-semitism if they were fans, you hear about that stuff eventually when you focus on a celeb).

But this is Michael Richards, Seinfeld's Kramer. Basically known for, well... pretty much that, and making a living as a standup comedian. Here's the link for their story and video. He needs to learn the same lesson that Kinky Friedman needs to learn (as pointed out by Molly Ivins), certain words might be funny out of the mouths of Chris Rock or Richard Pryor, but... ummm... those guys are African-American. He's not, and it's not even funny when he says it. Some of the audience were laughing, some were angry or shocked, sounds like most of them just wanted their money back. Michael Richards, that was stupid.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cat pilling world

That is where we are going to live for awhile. I've got four old-timers (referring to the cats), and have had to give plenty of medication through the years. Alex has been the one getting most of it for a long time. He's got Inflammatory Bowel Disease, so he's been on a pill schedule of generally every other day. He's used to it and handles it OK, mainly because it was just one pill, plus Alex is pushing 16 years old and has lost down to 7 lbs -- so not the tough guy he used to be.

Last week, he had meds added (antibiotics for a few weeks) so that now he is getting four pills twice a day... [sigh, this is not going well]... and Duncan is now a sick boy and needs two pills twice a day. 12 pills need to be swallowed by cats here, per day. That's a lot of pokes in the puss.

It's not going well, in fact, it's starting to be overwhelming. We've lost a couple of Duncan's doses - one by trying to sneak it in food, and one through one of those freaked-out cat incidents where all we end up with are spitty crumbles on the carpet and scratches. Those are on us. Duncan is barely eating food at all anyway, he's eaten no more than a few teaspoons of food for days. This evening we will try to dissolve the meds and give by syringe. Fun for all.

Alex, who was OK with a pill every other day, is in flat out revolt over having to take as many as 8 per day. This morning's session was a towel-wrapped drool-flinging disaster where, again, we got a carpet full of spitty crumbs and I got my finger bitten. That's what happens when you try stick it down the mouth of a very disgruntled cat. Alex has been getting sneaky snacks of the other cat's prescription food, and loving it, so this evening we ground up his dose into that food. He won't go near it. I'm keeping a tally of lost pills. Nearly exasperated here.

The graphic at the top came from this page, which has hilarious (but dead serious) instructions on how to easily pill a cat. Riiiiight... why didn't I just gently tilt the head back, etc. What was I thinking? Geez!

I prefer this set of instructions, which have made the rounds. At least it's intentionally funny. Instructions for dogs also included.

How To Pill a Cat

  1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on each side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
  2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat gently in left arm and repeat process.
  3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, pick up and throw soggy pill away.
  4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for count of ten.
  5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse in from garden.
  6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into cat's mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
  7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill out of foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep up shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set on one side for gluing later.
  8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with a pencil and blow into drinking straw.
  9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
  10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door just enough so that head is showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with plastic band.
  11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw t-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
  12. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.
  13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by a large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
  14. Get spouse to drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearms and removes pill from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home and order new dining table.
  15. Arrange for ASPCA to collect cat and contact local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

How To Pill a Dog
  1. Wrap it in bacon.

I am wondering if it might be easier to pill a snake... or a crocodile.
Cartoon from Kev's Cartoons.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Serial hugger

Fun video (music by the Sick Puppies):

The video is about a "serial hugger" going by the moniker "Juan Mann", and you can learn more about his hug campaign on this website.
Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whose sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.

My friend sent me a link to this, and she didn't even know how stressed we are right now, but hugs are always good. I haven't been to a Mensa gathering in a while, not since maybe 1998, but hugging is a big part of the those, in fact, a lot of the time you will be offered an option of a "hugging sticker", color coded in green, yellow and red. Red means "I'm not a hugger, keep your distance", yellow means a selective hugger, and green means "Hug at will!". I am a green.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Duncan is a very sick boy.

My poor Duncan has become very ill. I rushed him to the vet this afternoon, and it turned out to be congestive heart failure. Luckily I was home today and able to get him to the doctor as soon as possible, and he nearly died there but then stabilized some. This afternoon at 6 he still needed to be near the doctors so he is in the all-night emergency pet hospital. They are trying to get the fluid out of his lungs and keep enough oxygen in him. I don't even know if he can come home tomorrow either, but I just want him to get better. If he survives this he will always be on medication (just like all our cats, we are an aging population here).

Sorry about the such a distressing post. The absolutely weird part is that Duncan had been acting very frisky and had even lost a pound (he needed that, plus a couple more). He already had a vet appointment for his annual vaccinations 2 hours after I had to rush him in there.

Biting our nails down. See what tomorrow brings.
(((((((hugs for Duncan)))))))

EDIT and UPDATE Friday morning: I picked him up at the emergency vet this morning and delivered him to the regular vet where he will spend the day being treated there. He looks much better! As you probably know, this is a chronic condition, he will always have it. It just needs to be managed. My poor little sweetie. Lots of meds from now on.

EDIT and UPDATE Friday evening: Duncan is home! He looks and feels much better, but he is our little heart patient now so he will need lots of monitoring from now on. We are so happy to have our kitty back today. It has really been touch and go for the past day.

tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Mind of Mog - -


This IKEA store just opened on Wednesday in Round Rock (just north of Austin). People were camped out in line since Sunday to get in!! Supposedly there were special prizes or something. There would have to be a new car in it for me to camp out for 3 nights in chilly air and high winds just to get into a store. Hopefully, the store will still be there later (like in January) because I wouldn't mind going there. I've never even been to an IKEA.

Now I see that people were camped out at least one night, maybe more, at a Best Buy so they can get the new Sony Playstation. Some of the people interviewed said they were just going to resell it for more money. In the same newscast, they say that the CompUSA is going to open on Thanksgiving to let shoppers get the jump on "Black Friday". Boooo on you, CompUSA. I know they are not alone. This is a trend.

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If you've seen Del Castillo, he's on the far left

Happy birthday today to Austin's own, the awesome Rick del Castillo, who is one of the finest guitar players I can think of, and a heck of a nice guy too.

Paz, Amor, y Musica Latina!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lucas would have had a cameo as Sauron

Video: what if George Lucas had directed The Lord of the Rings?
Alert: geek-out ahead, clear the area.
I guess I qualify as a bit of a geek and a fangirl. A bit of understatement there. I AM THOSE THINGS. Back in the 80's, even when I still believed in the Mighty Jehovah, there was someone I worshipped just as much and it was George Lucas. I was not a child when this happened to me, I was in my 30s... hence the geek title. It was pure escapism from a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't any fun at all.

After Return of the Jedi (which did not measure up to the other two, but was still worthy to be ranked among them) I got caught up in other interests, plus a huge dose of "real life", and eventually sold my very nice collection of stuff and brushed the love affair aside. Old loves die hard, sometimes not at all, so of course I went to see the second trilogy... had to see each one 2 or 3 times just to make sure that they sucked as much as I had thought on first viewing. I give stuff a chance to redeem itself by having the opportunity to show me something I didn't see the first around. Love is like this... right? Sad disappointments, all 3. Plus Hayden Christenson (Darth Vader, eps 2 & 3) looks a hell of a lot like my nephews so that's weird in itself. Also, there were lots of really good actors all turning in mediocre performances (I'm seeing a pattern). Lucas would rather eliminate the actors altogether and just digitize everything, which is FINE if you still have passion and soul and heart and brilliance. Gaaahhh!!

I now love the Lord of the Rings trilogy as much as I used to love the old Star Wars, although, thankfully I am not using them escape from some ugly situation. Anyway, I got a big kick out of this video.

(Maybe getting on a movie kick this time of year IS an escape from something ugly after all. Christmas christmas christmas... where's the barf bag?)

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Just for grins

(no, it's not my cat)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Still on the movie kick

I love these last 2 months of the year mainly because it's movie season. Yes, there's a summer season too, but the big guns come out now right before the Oscar deadline. Short list of what we want to see in no particular order:

The Queen
Fast Food Nation (see below)
Casino Royale (Bond, James Bond)
Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny (Black, Jack Black)
Happy Feet (Robin Williams)
For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy)
Flushed Away
Shut Up and Sing (Dixie Chicks)
Deja Vu (Denzel and the guy who played Jesus)
Charlotte's Web (Talking pig and other animals. 'Nuff said)

Fast Food Nation is from Austin's own Richard Linklater. It's not a documentary, it's a regular feature with Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette and more, and based on this book. It's about food and what's in it vs. what you might think is in it, basically. Well, maybe not most of MY food, but I'm not out of the guilty loop either, especially since none of these cats are vegetarians. (the pet food industry... well, plenty of issues there too)
Check it out:
Official website --- IMDB (with trailers) --- Quicktime trailer at Apple

And here's a flash cartoon based on Fast Food Nation called Backwards Hamburger.

Now I need to think of a way to afford to see all these movies. I think I need a tip jar. I may have to wait for the video on some.

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Seen any good movies lately? Any stinkers?

This one is really good! It stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, but they are not really the main stars - so many of the characters have equal weight with theirs. The stories are inter-connected through what is happening with them. There are 3 connected stories involving 4 cultures (the 4th cultural element is shown where it is out of context, and out of place. It's a clash).

Brad Pitt IS really good in this, and may get a Best Actor nom, but I will be very disappointed if Adriana Barraza doesn't get a Supporting Actress nom. She is absolutely great as the nanny! Maybe my favorite character.

(When is that stodgy old Academy going to drop that old actor/actress terminology? They are all actors. Call them female and male actors if you like. I've heard plenty of women in that profession refer to themselves as actors, and I think it's progressive. Gender-specific titles just generally bug me. Pet peeve. OK, parenthetical rant over.)

I expect to see this movie nominated for Best Picture. People compare it to Crash since that one also had interconnected stories, but I think it mops the floor with Crash. I wasn't a fan of that one.

Babel IMDB listing --- Official website

In other movie news, The Departed is also a really good movie. DiCaprio is the guy to beat this year. I don't think Brad Pitt will quite do that. Another potential Best Picture nom here too.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Beautiful weekend

This is a great time of year to be here in Central Texas! The temperatures are ideal, a few days ago it got close to 90, but the "cold fronts" drop it down to about 70. Aaaah!! Our yard is geared toward butterflies, and there must have been a hundred butterflies visiting the flowering plants back there. Enjoy the pics!!

Sunday morning we went to the UU church*, and it was one of the best services I've been to recently. The band Mundi played, they have an ancient sound, very old Celtic/Renaissance/Muslim flavors. They also had a short play, an act from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and it was hilarious and very well done. I confess I have never read the play or seen the movie so I have total ignorance, but would like to read it sometime. (*yes, I'm an atheist and a UU. The church has several atheist members and nobody thinks they need to become something other than that., I can do that.)

After church we went to Maria's Taco Xpress for a brunch of great tacos and gospel music. The band was good. I like gospel music just fine. I don't care what it's about. It's good singing, playing and hand-clapping stuff.

We couldn't bear to come inside, the weather was so beautiful, so we went to the Botanical Gardens. Here's part of the carp pond. Everyone loves the big carp. They are so beautiful and huuuge!.

Here's a kid trying to cross over the pond on stepping-stones and avoid falling in and being nibbled by carp.

The Gardens are full of bamboo, and here's some pretty big bamboo that has been used as a message center. The stalks look like Mister Eko's staff if you watch "Lost". Lots of love notes, and most of the names are hispanic: Jorge, Jose, Beto, Manuel... very common names in Austin, and there's lots of Spanish heard on the street and everywhere. I really need to learn Spanish. It's important.
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

To End All Wars

The day was originally called "Armistice Day", and was created to commemorate the end of hostilities in WWI - the War To End All Wars: November 11, 1918. The Germans and the Allies agreed to stop the fighting and work toward peace. Armistice Day has since been expanded to be called Veteran's Day to commemorate all those who served.

War is a terrible thing. Even though war has been around since humans began roaming the earth, war is something that should be avoided if at all humanly possible. Sometimes it is not possible. The war we are waging in Iraq is certainly not in the category of something that could not be avoided. It was an illegal invasion based on lies and damned lies. The cause is unjust. That doesn't mean we should dishonor those who serve. I am sincerely hoping that the balancing of power in this country will bring about more sanity when it comes to the waging of war.

Graphic taken from this page.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

My little friends have worn out their welcome

I have been dealing with an upset stomach (general indigestion) for many months. It really only bothers me when I eat something, so food has been an enemy, and the condition has been constant with no relief. For months. I've been trying to tough it out, hoping maybe it will go away on its own. Also tried eliminating dairy, gluten, alcohol, spicy foods, etc. from my diet with no help and all OTC meds and herbs have done zilch.

I hated the idea of going to the doctor with it, because... well... going to a gastroenterologist is something I try to avoid for various reasons, not to mention the $$$$$. OK, so not too smart on my part so I broke and saw the doctor.

She had my blood tested for Helicobactor Pylori, and I'm not sure why the blood test was necessary since the next day she put a scope in my stomach to look for it, and found it, yes. It's a bacterial infection that causes all sorts of problems, they work themselves into the stomach lining and become happy campers. If untreated they can bring about ulcers or even cancer.

Today I had another test that may or may not be related to the little buggers, but I still had to do it. No needles and tubes with this one, I was expecting it to be something like a barium swallow, egg was mentioned, so I was imagining some gawdawful nasty drink. Instead, the tech takes me to the waiting area and says he's going to cook me a sandwich. It's going to be radioactive egg-beaters (scrambled) on toast... asks if I want grape or strawberry jelly. There are salt and pepper shakers there if I want them. I also have to drink a half cup of water, must finish the whole thing in 10 minutes, and must wear rubber gloves while eating so I don't crap up the machinery with greasy fingers. Then they track the nukes as they go through over a couple of hours.

I tell the guy that I usually don't eat eggs as an entree and avoid them if possible, and he says, "Well you don't normally eat barium either", so I figure he has a point.

A woman patient passed through the waiting area and was very puzzled, remarks "Salt? Pepper?" I hold up my hands with the rubber gloves already on. She shakes her head with an "I'm outta here" look. So after a couple of tedious and annoying mornings I am being treated with antibiotics for these damned little buggers that have been messing me up for a long time.

I was looking for more info on these things on the net (that must drive the doctors crazy but I still think it's a good idea), and found this really bizarre and unique shop called "Giant Microbes". It's a collection of plushie stuffed microbe toys, representing such things as athlete's foot, mad cow disease, halitosis, ebola, syphilis... long list. You can even get a plushie "scum". All this just in time for the holiday gift-giving season and they would be excellent gag gifts anytime! Pictured is my very own microbe H. Pylori, which is being sold there under the name "Ulcer".

Friday Cat - Undivided Attention

Henry probably thinks that you are not through petting him. That will get you this look, and usually a few hand nibbles -- nothing that hurts though, he'd never hurt you.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that you will never be through petting him. You can use a brush if you like.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at This blog is full of crap - -

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'll love you forever, it is written

This woman has gotten Anderson Cooper tattooed onto her leg. That's not even very weird when you consider that she has Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on the other one.

Got any tattoos? I have never really wanted to get a tattoo myself. For one thing, I don't like pain. For another, I know, deep down, how fickle I am... and how I can't think of anything that should be permanently written on me. I guess "MOM" is a pretty safe bet for most people.

I have often thought about how people would feel about their tattoos many years later -- like when the guy who gets the swastika inked on his head ends up in a nursing home, depending on all sorts of people to help him just get through the day in one piece. Then there's the love affair that ends badly, like Johnny Depp's "Winona Forever" that he had changed to "Wino Forever".

Skulls, dragons, flames, wizards, snakes, butterflies, panthers... those don't ever go out of style.

Star Wars inking found on Neatorama. More really "interesting" and hilarious ones, some NSFW, here.

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Smile on a Stick

I brought my Smile on a Stick to work with me today. Sometimes you just need a little help. One little thing to smile about is that Lloyd Doggett, the Representative now covering our area, is not in trouble. He is popular and expected to win. He actually repesents my views. I am not used to having that. Yay Lloyd!

Other than that I am just generally grumpy. A bit overworked and overly humbuggy and depressed over the upcoming holiday season. Get your own Smile on a Stick here (you may have to call an 800 number to locate a store). They come in a variety of styles, including multi-cultural and some holiday versions.

Monday, November 06, 2006

All aboard for hell with a non-stop ticket

Governor Goodhair declares that the Bible has no errors and all non-christians are going to hell. Well, par for the course for him. It's what we would expect him to say. [sigh] Can we get this damned election over with so I don't have to hear his ads anymore?

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Communication will not be discussed!

Mr. Blueberry sent me this list that is supposed to be a real set of "Dilbert Quotes", in other words, extremely pointy-haired statements from real-life. I've looked around, and have seen these things everywhere and can't determine a source other than it was "a magazine contest". Even snopes was no help. Still... they are worth reading for entertainment value, and believable enough if you've ever worked for a corporation.

  1. As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday, and employees will receive their cards in two weeks. (This was the winning entry, from Fred Dales at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA)
  2. What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter. (Lykes Lines Shipping)
  3. How long is this Beta guy going to keep testing our stuff? (Programming intern, Microsoft IIS development team)
  4. E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business. (Accounting Mgr., Electric Boat Company)
  5. This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it. (Advertising/Mktg. Mgr., UPS)
  6. Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. (R&D Supervisor, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing/3M Corp.)
  7. My boss spent the entire weekend retyping a 25-page proposal that only needed corrections. She claims the disk I gave her was damaged and she couldn't edit it. The disk I gave her was write-protected. (CIO of Dell Computers)
  8. Quote from the boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what 'I' say." (Mktg. executive, Citrix Corporation)
  9. My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my boss, he said she died so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, "That would be better for me." (Shipping Executive, FTD Florists)
  10. We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees. (AT&T Long Lines Division)
  11. We recently received a memo from senior management saying, "This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above." (Microsoft, Legal Affairs Division)
  12. One day my boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough. He said, "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!" (New Business Mgr., Hallmark Cards)
  13. As director of communications, I was asked to prepare a memo reviewing our company's training programs and materials. In the body of the memo one of the sentences mentioned the "pedagogical approach" used by one of the training manuals. The day after I routed the memo to the executive committee, I was called into the HR Director's office, and was told that the executive VP wanted me out of the building by lunch. When I asked why, I was told that she wouldn't stand for "perverts" (pedophiles?) working in her company. Finally he showed me her copy of the memo, with her demand that I be fired, with the word pedagogical" circled in red. The HR Manager was fairly reasonable, and once he looked the word up in his dictionary and made a copy of the definition to send to my boss, he told me not to worry. He would take care of it. Two days later a memo to the entire staff came out, directing us that no words which could not be found in the local Sunday newspaper could be used in company memos. A month later, I resigned. In accordance with company policy, I created my resignation letter by pasting words together from the Sunday paper. (Taco Bell Corporation)
  14. This gem is the closing paragraph of a nationally-circulated memo from a large communications company: "Lucent Technologies is determined to promote constant attention on current procedures of transacting business focusing emphasis on innovative ways to better, if not supercede, the expectations of quality!"
  15. No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them. (R&D Supervisor, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing /3M Corp.)
As for number 9 above, I used to work for someone just like that. There was a big sales meeting in another town and one of the salesman had a wife who was going through a difficult labor/childbirth at the hospital -- so he told the boss he would have to miss the meeting. The boss told him, "She has her doctors, and you have your job. You belong at the meeting". The man went to the meeting. People who worked there were so brainwashed, beaten down and terrified of those tyrants that they allowed themselves to be put through things like that in order to keep their jobs. I've got a few stories from that place. They are unbelievable in modern times.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Living on treacle and stout

The weather was just right for the Austin Celtic Festival Saturday, a little on the cool side so that a sweater was needed morning and evening -- also it was overcast and misty -- so rare weather for us but not the Emerald Isle. I love Celtic music, and we were treated to lots of it, including the wonderful John Williams (pictured above) on the button accordion. Reason enough for going right there.

In addition to lots of accordions, pipes, and drums, there were lots of skirts and swords... and I imagine that a lot of these are actually sharp! I said "skirts" and of course I means "kilts", but don't see how calling it something else changes it fundamentally. I really think that skirts (or "kilts", if you insist) should be a regular part of a man's wardrobe if he wants them. I prefer wearing pants to skirts myself, but think everyone should have the option of wearing either one. And believe me, these things do NOT look feminine.

There was opportunity to whack a knight if you wanted, and most of the volunteers were kids. The "swords" were made out of something pliable, so hopefully the suits of armor prevented bruises.

There wasn't a lot food available for us veg-heads, so we took advantage of the bake sale. There were some very unusual choices, such as lavender bread and soda bread, but we got by on a loaf of treacle bread. I have to admit, I've never seen the word "treacle" on my food before, and never even knew what it was. I always had the impression that it was some kind of drug or poison, based on its mention in Alice in Wonderland: the Mad Tea Party:
'Once upon a time there were three little sisters,' the Dormouse began in a great hurry; 'and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well--'

'What did they live on?' said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

'They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.

'They couldn't have done that, you know,' Alice gently remarked; 'they'd have been ill.'

'So they were,' said the Dormouse; 'VERY ill.'

Alice tried to fancy to herself what such an extraordinary ways of living would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she went on: `But why did they live at the bottom of a well?'

'Take some more tea,' the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

'I've had nothing yet,' Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can't take more.'

'You mean you can't take LESS,' said the Hatter: 'it's very easy to take MORE than nothing.'

Turns out that treacle is molasses. And that last little quote from the Mad Tea Party reminds me of a joke that my Mother told me all my life, and her mother told it to her. You have to think like a hillbilly to even get it.
Youngster at table: Give me some molasses.
Kid's Mother: How can you have mo 'lasses when you ain't even et none yet?

Not really the King's English... and it helps to embellish it with a rural Oklahoma accent.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Clark helping to give 'em hell

Gen. Wesley Clark has affiliated himself with the PAC Vote Vets, which uses the slogan "Support the Troops, Send them to Congress!". They have produced some very blunt and powerful ads that counter the right wing messages we are getting about terrorism, as well as the way certain members of Congress have chosen to support themselves rather than the troops by voting for their own pay hikes instead of for providing proper body armor and basic needs for the soldiers they are sending into the belly of the beast. Normally I don't pay much attention to any political ads, but these are compelling and powerful. View them here on the Vote Vets website.

Gen. Clark was my preferred Dem candidate for President in 2004. I would really love to see him on the ticket next time around, or at least part of the next administration. He's highly qualified, intelligent, articulate... good grief... we are not used to that anymore, are we?
Link: Wesley Clark website
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Found via Pink Dome.

Friday, November 03, 2006

First Thursday in November

First Thursday is an evening event on South Congress when there are craft vendors and musicians covering the sidewalks and the shops are open generally later. The neighborhood itself is struggling with events like these, with parking issues and whether or not this or that is permitted. It's a bit different in spirit every month, depending on the mood of the town, and this month attendance was fairly light because people think that 50 degrees is freezing.

We always see something we hadn't seen before, and one of them was this. The most beautiful art car I have ever seen! It was parked in an unlit parking lot and is only illuminated by the flash of the camera so there's no way I can do it justice. (click to enlarge, you gotta see this) Here's the view of it from the back side. It's entirely covered in mirrors, glass and beads. There a whole motorcycle on top, plus enough parts for a couple more, I suspect. There are two riders, and multiple horses in front, churning out of a frothy tangle of pipes, parts, and more horses. Extremely impressive. Horsepower!

We had a really good pizza at Home Slice, where there was miraculously no waiting (must have been the freezing temperatures outside). Looks like they have crayon amusement at the tables (we sat at the bar) as the bulletin board was full of "Draw Morrissey" artwork. Any age can participate, of course, and I really liked the one below, where 39 year old artist Robert Smith states, "You can't do Morrissey without a black crayon". So there, Home Slice.

After pizza we went over to Jo's Coffee as we usually do on 1stThu to listen to Gary Primich with Mike Keller on guitar. It's a fine blues outfit, Chicago style. Then we headed down the street. Will Sexton (Charlie's brother) had played earlier, and Reuben Ramos was now playing at Guero's in the courtyard. We moved along down the street where there was a really good band playing on the corner called Tapwater from San Diego. They were due to play at Ruta Maya later with the Resentments. Really good players, kind of a jam band with a zydeco flavor. So here comes this crotchedy older guy (older = "older than me") with this big heavy "get out of here now or I'm calling the police" line! This was right on the corner of (I think the name of the store is) Tinhorn Traders, and maybe he was the owner or something... but let me say this: I have NEVER not seen a band playing that corner on First Thursday. It's always a lively band that draws a crowd, all kinds of music, gypsy, zydeco, bluegrass, accompanying hula hoops, ribbon dancing, whatever. There are bands on the sidewalks of every block, every nook and cranny possible has street players working for tips. That is First Thursday, that is Austin... period.

So a bit of a sour note to end the evening there. I will check it out if possible, but don't see any further reason to ever buy another thing in that store.

I am personally enjoying these cooler temperatures, and it's fun seeing almost every dog wearing a sweater. (...and at First Thursday, possession of a dog is practically required.) It's nice to able to wear a sweater once in a while. Helllooo winter!! heh heh...

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Friday Cat - You may take my picture now.

Alex was just so cute in both of these, and they were so similar I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so I posted both of them. What a charmer, and the camera loves him.

His little crooked face is so cute. He has a fang (canine tooth) missing on top and the opposite side missing on the bottom, so he's got a Bucky Katt look with an attitude to match. (Alex is not part-Siamese, but I think part of his brain is... maybe it's the spots doing it, but in any case he's got a 'tude) Such a catmodel!

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Crazy meezer, where they also have an Alex, and he is a REAL meezer unlike my Alex who is only Siamese in his dreams - - -