Dear Dr. Slim,We're on a roll. What's next?
I'm thinking of a career change, even though I currently have no career at all. Some of the possibilities I'm considering are are:
1. A Cyprus Shriner
2. A Carmen Miranda impersonator
3. A Monkey Whisperer
4. A Card Shark and/or Con Artist
Please advise on pros/cons and financial viability.
Excellent question. The correct answer is monkey whisperer. There are two reasons for this:
- I find the idea of a monkey whisperer profoundly hilarious, and you would give me great joy by adopting it as your new profession.
- Monkey whispering brings all the benefits of the other careers you mention with far less effort. Why be a Carmen Miranda impersonator when you can simply instruct one of you many monkey minions to be a Carmen Miranda impersonator (but make sure it doesn't eat the bananas off the hat - ha!)? And why be a con-artist when you can just train your mischievous but lovable con-monkeys in the artful execution of such classic monkey-cons as:
As for the Cyprus Shriner, that's not a career, it's a hobby, one for which you will have ample time as you reap the rewards of your evil ape army.
- "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil," and
- "Monkey See, Monkey Do."
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
"I suppose collecting demitasses is also, ahem, Euro..."No, no, collecting demitasses is, ahem, decidedly girlie (but what's a fella to do?). And drinking white wine spritzers from demitasses?* Euro-girlie. Tricky, I know. Perhaps this Venn Diagram will help:
* It is also an incredibly ineffective way to get drunk, should that be your objective.
Fill a tall glass with ice, pour two-thirds full of dry white wine, top off with soda water, squeeze in a wedge of lemon or lime, daintily extend your pinky, and sip away. You'll love it. I promise.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Dear Slim, what can I do to lose weight without exercising or giving up good food and red wine?
Dear Marco, contrary to popular opinion, the key to losing weight is not denying yourself things. It is indulging in new things, specifically cocaine and lots of it. Develop a voracious habit. You'll be emaciated and fabulous faster than you can say "Nicole Richie".
If coke is too expensive, try tapeworms. Let the worms get bloated and fat. You'll be emaciated and fabulous faster than you can say "intestinal distress".
Well what would you say if I asked about the possibility of my fiancee being gay?See? Piece of cake. What's next?
Simple. Disguise yourself in drag,* approach her in a public place, flirt with her, and see what happens. There are two possible outcomes:
It can't go wrong.
- She rejects your advances, and your fears are laid to rest. You live happily ever after.
- She accepts your advances. You become entangled in a complicated, farcical, web of lies. You date for many months as a lesbian couple. Finally, you travel to Hawaii and get married. On your wedding night, she discovers your true identity, collapses, crying in your arms and realizes that she always has and always will love you, regardless of the specific configuration of your genitals. You live happily ever after.
* I make two assumptions, here. First, I assume you are using conventional French gender-forms and your fiancee is a woman. Second, I assume you are a man. Otherwise, you would require no advice regarding the gayness of your bride-to-be. If I've got it wrong, try it anyway. It's all good.
Friday, May 26, 2006
A woman walks back into her house, carrying a plastic jug full of water, which she has just filled at the outdoor spigot. A man walks close behind her, scowling.
I guess that settles that.
Woman: I ain't drinking the fucking water.
Man: Baby, you're the only one who uses the ter-lit [toilet].
Woman: Well, I'm not pooing in a fucking box.
Muffy, huh? I didn't think any Muffys actually still existed. Sure, the nickname was probably assigned long before "muff" acquired its current connotations, but I assumed the Muffys would have all quietly dropped it long ago in favor of something a little less, um, gynecological - Buffy, or Cookie, or something.
And speaking of gynecological, a college friend had a sister with an even more problematic family nickname. Pussy. I ain't lyin'. They have photo albums full of pictures with labels like "Pussy on the beach." Our friend explained that his parents were both Lutheran ministers and consequently not tuned in to the names vulgar resonations. I suppose so, but really? Pussy?
I wonder what they called their cat?
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
The day I find a goat in my coffee, I'm quitting.
* I continue to be very impressed by the work of the Times-Picayune.
Thanks for the tip, Moth Girl.
After all we've suffered, all we've been through, now this too? Jethro Tull lost forever, tossed on the moldy trash-heap of post-Katrina history? When will it end? WHEN? [clench teeth and shake fists dramatically towards the sky]
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Sarah and Louise manage to summon well-rounded, articulate accounts of all that has happened. June is a little different. She invariably just recites the names of her nursery school teachers:
"Bessie, Nephanie"*Twice in recent weeks, Miss Bessie has been out sick. On these days, June's response is merely:
"Nephanie"What goes on in that little mind? Does she think this enumeration is an adequate summation of the essence of her day? Or is she merely trying to shut me up so she can continue eating? Hmm...
* "Nephanie" is June's best attempt at the name, "Stephanie."
A number of years ago, a bizarrely brilliant toy showed up on the scene, Cajun in Your Pocket, a little, talking keychain that, when you pressed the buttons, said things like "We gonna pass a good time, yah, chere!" and "I love you like a pig loves corn!" all delivered in thick Cajun-speak. It became a local mini-sensation. The makers followed it up with equally genius creations like Mr. T in Your Pocket.
And now they've done it again, giving the world the simultaneously hilarious and disconcerting Mayor in Your Pocket which delivers impassioned sound bites from Nagin's famed post-Katrina radio interview such as "Get their asses movin' to New Orleans!" and "Excuse my French, everybody in America, but I... am... pissed!"
Is a toy supposed to give you the chills? I don't know, but this one does.
Note: They're not paying me to say this. I merely feel compelled to give evil geniuses their due.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Time was when the distinctions between high and dry, semi-flooded, and no-mans land were glaringly obvious. You could immediately see (and smell) the difference, but time has gradually blurred and muddled things. It's occasionally difficult to tell what's the result of the storm and what's just plain-old New Orleans blight. The high and dry areas, with the exception of a few obstinately malfunctioning traffic lights, look a lot like normal. That's old news. As for the rest, well, the dirty bath ring that marked our city has faded (it's not gone, but you have to look harder). Grass has grown back. Formerly silent neighborhoods are now scattered with FEMA trailers, still a fraction of the original population, but something. A few quick to recover businesses are up and running, serving the armies of contractors who now make their livings here.
And we're changing, the people who look at this everyday. It's harder and harder to remember what it looked like before the storm. I find myself recalibrating to this new existence and now think nothing of driving past miles of gutted houses where the front windows flash straight through to the back. The thousands of flooded cars stashed under the highways seem like they've always been there. The everpresent sound of nail guns punching through shingles, the endless patrols of clean-up crews, the constantly appearing and disappearing mounds of drywall, lathe, and roofing tiles, they seem like a permanent fixture of the landscape. I can't quite imagine a time when they'll all be gone.
None of us can predict exactly where this all will end. I believe some neighborhoods will come back as strong or stronger than ever. I fear others, despite the best efforts of returning residents, will slowly atrophy and die. The city is not destroyed, but it is permanently and radically changed. And it will be years before we can gauge the exact scope and nature of those changes.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Don't get me wrong. I'm no lush, but I do enjoy a sippy-sip in the evening. By and large, beer is not my cup of tea (once in a while, it's just the thing, particularly with food, and when I do take the trip to beer town, I go for the light and drys - I'm fond of the Mexican brands and I just adore those Japanese Tsingtaos - but it's a once in a while thing for me). Wine shows up more frequently, but what I really like are cocktails.
I like making cocktails. Making drinks is fun, and it gives me a chance to trot out my old mixological chops from my service industry days. And I like drinking cocktails. There's no end to the variety, an infinitude of possibilities, which can be matched to any mood, climate, or occasion. Dry, sweet, sophisticated, trashy, mild, boozy - it's all there.
And I tend to get on little cocktail jags, favoring a particular drink for a few days or weeks. So what's in heavy rotation these days? Margaritas ('tis the season). Let's get to the details.
First of all, throw away your Rose's lime juice or your mix from the grocery store or whatever trashy thing most people put in most margaritas to make them over-sweet and fake tasting. Second, be willing to spend a little bit of money. An excellent margarita is incredibly easy, but it does require good ingredients. There are three principal elements to my version:
Tequila: I am certainly no expert on Tequila, but a decent one will go a long way towards making a decent drink. Don't go crazy. It doesn't have to be 150 years-old and made from agave pre-masticated by little Mayan grandmothers. We've been using Sauza and like it just fine.Now for the mixing. Fill a rocks glass to the top with ice. Add a generous pour of tequila (what we used to call a "four-count"**), about 2 oz. Next, add a good splash of Cointreau (2 tablespoons if you want to get precise - and, conveniently, the cap of the small Cointreau bottle is precisely 1 tablespoon). Finally, squeeze in the juice of half a lime.
Cointreau: You will be tempted to skimp and buy Triple Sec. Don't do it. This is where it's really worth spending a few extra bucks. And you don't need a lot. Buy the smallest bottle. It will last a while (unless you're a huge drunk, but that's beyond our current scope).
Pour the contents into a cocktail shaker (or, if you're hard up, whatever sealable container you have handy), and shake it like you shook your booty on the dancefloor when you were really drunk at your highschool reunion. By which I mean vigorously. Really vigorously. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it whips the drink into a delicious, frothy frenzy. Secondly, it cracks the ice, which gives things just the right texture.
And what about salt? The choice is yours. I go either way depending on my mood. If you want salt, moisten the lip of the glass. Spread salt evenly in a small plate. Gently dip the rim until it is properly encrusted.
Finally, pour the contents of the shaker back into the glass, garnish with a wedge of lime, bow towards Mexico, and enjoy.
* This is not brand new territory. RJ and I first made our bloggy-acquaintance over a post on martinis. And I still owe Matt something on "olds fashioned."
** Said in an old-timey, miner-forty-niner, "dere's gold in dem dere hills" voice
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Get it? Get it? It's a reference to New Orleans police "commandeering" a large number of cars from the Sewell dealership in the wake of the storm. Very cheeky. Very cheeky, indeed.
Can somebody please compile a compendium of Katrina-specific humor? Make it so.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
Saturday night, my cousin graduated from high school. We went. I have to confess, I was expecting to doze off in a tiresome, never-ending ceremony, overstuffed with pomp and dreary speeches. I didn't. It was beautiful.
For the first time in four decades, the ceremony was outside in the old, palm-lined courtyard (the auditorium flooded). The night was unseasonably mild and breezy. As the sky darkened and the girls proceeded beneath the arches, it was quite lovely.
Lucy gave a gangbusters Salutatory Address. Awards were awarded. And then the main speech was delivered.
The speaker was our very own, Pulitzer-nominated Chris Rose. And he was pitch-perfect: very funny, and very serious (you can read the speech in it in its entirety here). He spoke of this group's exceptional experiences and challenges. At one point, he addressed the "lost everything" kids, a group that included my cousin:
For those of you who fall into that huge swath of our community known as "lost everything," people try to tell you it was just stuff, get over it, at least you're alive and what you lost was just stuff.We, personally, lost a lot in the storm, including some things I cared very much about, but these girls were just about to step out into the world when all the things of their childhood were swept away. Too much. I got a little misty.
Yeah, well. It was your stuff. It took 17 years to get that stuff. And if it all disappeared in one day then, hell yeah, it's all right to be mad about that.
But move on. Make the anger work for you.
At the end of the speech, Chris received a standing ovation. The Cajun maw-maw behind me sniffled into her Kleenex and repeated, "That was beautiful. That was just beautiful."
Diplomas were awarded. Photos were taken. The ceremony ended with the girls encircling the courtyard, lighting candles, and sheepishly singing the school's alma mater. Then we ate finger sandwiches.
It's funny. Now, however many months later, the storm has receded a bit. Daily life goes on. But then we come together in these communal moments and something about that shared experience is tapped into. We grieve a little (and celebrate). It's powerful and good.
Congratulations, Lucy. Exceptionally well done under exceptionally difficult circumstances. You should be proud.
Nifty factoid: Of the 88 graduates, 23 had some variation of "Mary" in their name, most commonly "Marie," most commonly as a middle name (or, as in the case of my cousin, one of several middle names).
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Our alma mater was located in a quaint, seaside town, and like all quaint, seaside towns, it had its resident creep. Mr. B.J.* was that creep (well actually, for much of our tenure, it had two resident creeps, but then what's-his-name, the alpha-creep, was found dead in his bathtub, allowing Mr. B.J. to rise to the top of the creepy-hill). He looked like a creep, a little homunculus of a man with a striking resemblance to a shaved chimpanzee in oversized glasses.** And he acted like a creep. Specifically he had a habit of propositioning the young men of my college for sex acts (he offered my room mate money to appear in "a movie" he was "producing" - my room mate declined).
I knew of him for several years but didn't personally make his acquaintance until the summer after we graduated, when we were living in town for a few months and I was working at the neighborhood pizza joint. He was a regular customer, and I quickly became his favorite waiter. Initially he started with overfriendly banter. Then, it progressed to thinly veiled sexual innuendos. Finally, one day it was:
"You know, some fellas would think a hundred bucks to give a guy a blow job is a pretty good deal."Golly, Mr. B.J., you're right. A hundred bucks to give a guy a blowjob is a good deal. Now I can buy the shame and degradation I've always wanted!
Actually, I said no. Maybe I should have gone into an uproar, given him a black eye, thrown him out on his ear, told him to scram, but he was so pathetic, so incredibly unthreatening, all I could muster was a "yeah, that's not going to happen" and went about my business.
After I got over the initial shock, this scenario became a source of much hilarity for my friends and me. All someone had to say was "you know..." in his croaky little voice, and everyone would bust a gut. We gave him the "Mr. B.J." appellation. And this coincided with the popularity of the song, "Hey Mr. D.J.," which quickly acquired an alternate set of lyrics in honor of my new friend.
He was undeterred, continuing to visit the restaurant every week. And, I suppose, you could admire his persistence. He made his offer as routinely as if he was ordering from the menu, and I rejected him just as routinely ("sorry, we're all out of blowjobs tonight").
Eventually we moved on. He remained, ambitions unfulfilled. I'm sure he found other young men to harass. I wonder if he's still there. Does anybody know?
* I use this moniker throughout even though he didn't actually acquire it until later in our story.
** I don't claim that the illustration is a perfect likeness (it's remarkably hard to draw someone from memory more than a decade after the fact), but I do hope it catches something of his hunched pathetitude.
Ask, and ye shall receive.
Friday, May 12, 2006
It's true. Popeye's, the international chicken phenomenon, started right here in our (sometimes) fair (sometimes cloudy) city. And those of you who have spent much time here will know that the old Popeye's restaurants were built out of this incredibly goofy looking, black, faux-igneous rock. Most (though not all) of them have been retired, but the buildings can still be seen around town. They're something to behold.
I predict, no, I pound on my bloggy-desk [thump, thump] and proclaim, the day will come when some hipster entrepeneur buys one of these buildings and turns it into a hipster bar/nightclub. Greazy haired kids will stand around smoking Parliaments (or whatever it is they're smoking by then) and drinking PBRs (or whatever it is they're drinking by then). They'll touch the walls and say, "It's so kitschy! I love it! Can you believe this place used to sell, like, chicken or something?"
Hey, let's start a betting pool. Which location and when? I got 5$ on S. Claiborne** - 2013.
* I hope, Marco, the chicken franchise is fair game, since I got nuthin' on the cartoon characters. Wait, well actually, I remember when I used to come to the city as a wee lad to visit my grandparents, there was a little morning kiddy show done in the Captain Kangaroo mode with a bunch of tykes sitting around in little bleachers, and then they would play Popeye cartoons (it was my principal exposure to the opus). And maybe it had a Popeye's Chicken promotional tie-in, although I'm not sure. Do any other long-term local lads or lassies remember this? Fungible Resource, are you there?
** If I'm not mistaken, they had covered this one with crappy siding, but the storm blew the siding off, returning it to it's faux-igneous glory. I'm not sure that's what actually happened, but it's what I choose to believe happened.
Ask, and ye shall receive.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Nikki has requested more Africa capers:
In addition to a fondness for scorpion hunting, my little friends and I also shared a love of toy vehicles.
I had a dump truck. It was made of bright yellow and red, modular plastic with big, knobby tires and a little lever that lifted the bed up, dumping its contents. My friends became instantly enamored of it and repeatedly ran it back and forth across the bare dirt ground until the wheels fell off (this initially caused me some anguish, but I believe we were ultimately able to reattach them, allowing the good times to go on).
They, in turn, had their own toy cars which I deeply coveted, elaborate constructions made from scrap wire. Each one was different, and they were remarkably realistic, but their most stunning feature was a full-sized steering column and steering wheel, also made of wire, extending up to waist height, allowing the boys to push the cars around and actually steer. Brilliant! I wanted one so bad.
Why didn't we just swap? An international, good will toy exchange - it would have been perfect.
Ask, and ye shall receive.
I used to work with a guy. He was middle-aged, unmarried, no kids. For every single vacation, several times a year, he would go, by himself, to Disney World. While there, he would sleep in his car in the Disney parking lot to minimize expenses.
Put that in your freak pipe and smoke it.
And the alumni are just as freaky as the students (well, really, the alumni as a whole are just as freaky, but the alumni who hang out around the school are, on average, even freakier than the norm). One evening after Friday Night Lecture,* a number of us were standing around, chatting. A non-descript, middle-aged man who had been standing nearby chimed in with his thoughts on the talk. We politely listened. Then, he mentioned he was an alumnus. We began to get nervous. As the conversation progressed, he focused more and more of his attention on our friend, Zena. Soon, he was monopolizing the conversation and leaning into her personal space with a weird, bug-eyed smile. He recounted lengthy anecdotes of his heyday at the school. Others glanced around, looking for escape routes, and, one by one, they dropped away. After a couple of minutes, our large group had become a small one.
Then... "Yeah, I remember this one time, we were really drunk, and we got a whole bunch of Wesson Oil and we filled up the Pendulum Pit** and started wrestling! It was pretty crazy..." Quick as lightning, our remaining friends peeled away leaving just Zena, Wesson-Boy, and myself.
Oh, horror! I wanted to leave so bad, but it was impossible. I couldn't abandon my friend to the clutches of this heinous man. The torture dragged on and on. I looked longingly at nearby conversations full of happy, sane people not talking about wrestling in cooking products. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Zena extricated herself, and we walked away to rejoin (and viciously reprimand) our treasonous friends.
I like to believe, in that cruel hour, I was Zena's truest friend. In my heart of hearts, though, I suspect I was merely her slowest friend.
* Too complicated to explain.
** Also too complicated to explain.
Ask, and ye shall receive.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
"When I say that a kiss can take you to another reality, another plane of existence, it's not because I want a kiss from you. It's because I want to take you to another dimension."He then went on to make various Matrix references in support of his case.
At one point, he was talking about how he was really getting healthy, eating well, and whatnot (but hadn't stopped smoking). Um, I’m sorry to have to mention this, but you can consume every essential vitamin, guzzle wheatgrass smoothies until the cows come home, have the shiniest, freshest colon in the whole wide world, and it ain’t gonna do you a damn bit of good if your lungs look like little, burnt embers of coal.
Monday, May 08, 2006
June: Noo! Nooo! Noooo! Noooooooo! [in response to our denying her a second beignet when she had merely licked the powdered sugar off the first one]Ah, yes, the concept of sarcasm. A difficult one to teach but profoundly valuable once mastered. You're on your way, my dear, on your way.
Me: Well, this is fun.
Louise: You're being sarcastic! [gleefully]
Sunday, May 07, 2006
And besides, Ashley preemptively out-funnied me with his "white guys with dreadlocks clapping on 1 and 3" comment (damn you, infernal readers, with your free wills and cheeky senses of humor - this is my show, my show!).
So, um, I got nothin'. Uh, bad blues - discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be back in five to see how things are coming along.
Ask, and ye shall receive. Kind of. Not really.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Gutted homes on the edge of salt-burnt swamp.
For every photo series I can post depicting the return of life to the city (1, 2), I can post a series, or two, or five, showing the pervasive devastation that still remains.
This afternoon, the girls wouldn't nap. I loaded them in the car and drove until they dozed off. I spent the next two hours slowly weaving my way through the wasteland of New Orleans East, dead cul de sacs, empty streets, blasted out, boarded up strip malls. It was unearthly.
Thursday night I tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Then a vision appeared before me, the Ghost of Jazz Fest Past. It showed me joyous moments from my childhood Jazz Fests as well as the bitter day when I was trapped and abandoned in a port-o-potty, forming the basis for my present day humbuggery. Next, I was visited by the Ghost of Jazz Fest Present who showed me throngs of ecstatic, funky festers, exuberantly shimmying and shaking. Finally, I was visited by the Ghost of Jazz Fest Yet To Come who revealed the miserable, soul-less end my curmudgeonly, hippie-baiting ways will bring me to, if I don't change them.
I awoke, threw up the window, and shouted "Young lad, fetch me the largest, most colorful fest-hat you can find!" I sent a message around, "Tim, Tiny Tim, go to the Fest! Have fun! Be free!" I donned my giant hat and my oversized rice-and-beans shirt, slathered on the sunscreen, and away we went.
And a good time was had by all (except for June, because we left her bossy, fest-hatin' little butt in day care). Louise got to see one of her papa-pals sitting in with local kiddie-rock megastars. We ate damn fine food. I spent a bit of time in the baking sun watching Louise do art projects, which she could do for free at home in the air-conditioning. And then we went to the Gospel Tent, which (as always) made me cry, particularly when they sang a rousing, thundering chorus of:
If FEMA don't show up on time...Brilliant.
If FEMA don't show up on time...
If FEMA don't show up on time...
If FEMA don't show up on time...
Lift it up!
Lift it up!
Lift it up!
Lift it up!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
"I was the guy who measured that kick."
"Yeah, that was me... on the side lines, counting it out - sixty-three yards."
There was a tiny moment of quiet surprise, and then the conversation went into high gear, with everyone remembering what a great play it had been, remembering other great plays, and on and on until we arrived at the cemetery.**
* Though this is not unique to New Orleans, it is particularly common here: the extensive use of eccentric family nicknames, often with no apparent connection to the person's actual name. My grandfather, Victor, was Petey. My uncle, Victor, is Chip. My grandmother, Claire, was Daidy. The women are often named some combination of Marie and Elena but, in practice, are distinguished by their nicknames: Kiki, Boonie, Doucette, etc.
** I, personally, had nothing to add to this conversation, since I don't know a damn thing about football, but I enjoyed listening.
Ask, and ye shall receive.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
As always, I fully expect this Pop Quiz to crash and burn, but who knows. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Today's task:
Using your powers of deduction, correctly identify which smurf character has the highest level of Fest-rogen.This task will test both your knowledge of smurfs and your knowledge of Fest-ers. Please show your work.
The winner will henceforth be referred to as "Brainy" and awarded a big pair of doofy glasses and a white stocking cap.
And then we could graph people in n-dimensional smurf-space.
* Sounds like a job for Doctor Jeff.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
Go ahead. Throw your Teevas and hacky-sacks at the computer screen. Call me a traitor ("Have you no shame? This year of all years..."). I won't argue. I'm just (probably) not doing it.
Mardi Gras crowds make me giddy and ecstatic. Jazz Fest crowds (and the ever-soaring ticket prices) make me crotchety and irritable. Can someone explain this to me?
* Of course, I say this every year and somehow haven't missed one yet, so we'll see...