Monday, July 31, 2006

House of Cards

Has anyone else ever watched House of Cards, the 1990 BBC political drama series starring Ian Richardson as a brilliantly villainous politician with aspirations to the "throne" (which is to say the office of Prime Minister)? Although set in contemporary England, it's utterly Shakespearean, right down to Richardson's sly and delightfully wicked asides to the audience. Oh, what that man can say with a single, coy smirk.

The Brits are extremely good at extremely silly and extremely evil. What's up with that?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nuke Their Ass

Sarah spotted the following bumper sticker yesterday:
NUKE THEIR ASS AND TAKE THEIR GAS
Gosh, well, there it is. I guess that pretty much sums it up.*

There were several other attributes that placed the driver in a reasonably coherent demographic cluster:
  • The driver was a white male.
  • He was driving in Jefferson Parish.
  • The vehicle was also adorned with a yellow ribbon, a "Bush/Cheney" bumper sticker, and a sticker that said "Fight Crime. Shoot Back. Jefferson Indoor Shooting Center."
Their was, however, one datapoint that strayed far from the anticipated grouping. What kind of vehicle would you expect to see the sticker on? Hmm? Shooting from the hip (at the Jefferson Indoor Shooting Center, of course), I'd say a Ford F-350 or some such hulk-a-hulk-a-hulk-of-a-truck. But I would be wrong. Are you ready?
  • a Toyota Camry
What? Excuse me, Mr. Nuke'em. Please get it straight. Ignorant racist nitwits do not drive Toyota Camrys. Everybody knows that. It's on page 3 of the Ignorant Racist Nitwit Handbook, for crying out loud. Do we also have to go over the "You don't eat tofu-dogs on the Fourth of July" and "You don't read books (unless they're tawdry thrillers written by Bill O'Reilly)" guidelines.

Jeezum, some people. What's the world coming to?

* I suppose, at least, you can appreciate his honesty. It's more to the point than "LIBERATE THEIR ASS AND TAKE THEIR GAS."

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Party in Pictures

So Louise's fifth birthday was last week, and on Saturday we had a party. I've been meaning to post some pictures, but life intervened. Oh, well, better late than never:

If I may say so, it was a damn fine fête - lots of Louise's friends, little and big, top-notch noshes and cake by Sarah, and tasty little summer cocktails* by yours truly (what's a kiddy-birthday party without good mixed drinks?). Louise received some lovely presents (apparently shopping for five-year-old girls is a lot of fun), and June got a few little things to keep her happy as well.



As the cake and presents wound down and the sugar kicked in, it was time for outdoor activities. Piñata!







The piñata proved to be a tougher than expected opponent, and it gradually became apparent that the chaotic swings of the three to five year olds were having little impact. Eventually, the fathers had to step in and rough it up a bit, and candy rained from the skies at last. More sugar!

We fired up the grill and cooked a big mess of sausages. The kiddies moved on to painting flower pots.



Adult supervision faltered, and the pot painting turned to body painting. A tremendous mess ensued. It had started raining, so we just turned the kids loose in the yard and let nature take care of it, a sort of mini-kiddo-Woodstock.





Finally, the soaked kids were brought in, given a giant, communal bath, and treated to little wind-down movie time (the absolutely wonderful My Neighborbor Totoro).



Pumpkin o'clock arrived. All the children simulaneously collapsed in a huge mass of over-tired, hysterical tears. Shoes were donned, thank yous were given, and hasty exits were made. The gals were bundled off to bed, and the day came to a close.

* A curious and delicious vodka,lime, mint, and cucumber concoction I learned about here. My only change was to rechristen it the Pepino (Spanish for cucumber), because I just couldn't bring myself to call it "the Cuke".

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Know-How

After the events of the past year, we now have a city full of homegrown experts in a variety of fields:
  • meteorology
  • hydrography
  • topography
  • civil engineering
  • insurance law
  • mold remediation
  • home repair
What else?

Let's put that newfound expertise to work. The city's a little strapped for cash. Maybe we can privatize, and hire the citizenry out as emergency response consultants. Hell, just dismantle FEMA and hire us. We'll bring our scrappy, view-from-the-trenches know-how to a disaster near you.

Now all we need is a snazzy marketing campaign.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Unified New Orleans Plan

Okay, so maybe there is no plan. But at least now there's a plan to make a plan. Go check it out and get involved.

Plus, I drew the logo.

Hansen's

At 6:40 this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice of our favorite Sno-Bliz maker, Ashley Hansen, coming out of the radio. She was featured in this NPR story about Hansen's and its re-opening after the storm. Its return was, for our family, a non-trivial milestone in the revival of the city. Mmm, now I've got a hankering for Cream of Coconut.

Note: Louise has graduated from last year's kiddy-favorite of "rainbow" to the more sophisticated Cream of Chocolate. June, however, still asks for "pink."

Slog

I find this to be a particularly challenging stage in the recovery of our city. The days and weeks immediately after the storm were just plain wretched. That goes without saying. But then, as the city sprang to life again, there was a sense of excitement, a determination to make things happen, and a hope that maybe, somehow, we could make things even better than before. Everything was hard, but it was also weird and fascinating. The destruction that surrounded us was awful, but also, literally, awesome.

Now, though, as the one-year anniversary of the storm approaches, this no longer feels like an adventure. It feels like a long, slow slog, the early stages of a many-year process of making the city whole again. I'm no longer shocked by the devastation. It's just the new normal. Problems of corruption, mismanagement, and crime, endemic to the city since long before the storm, have returned. The recovery of flooded neighborhoods is slow. The city government still has no coherent plan.

If it sounds like I've become a pessimist, I haven't. The city will return. True, some things will be worse. A lot of things will be the same. And some things will be better. But it's going to take a long time and a lot of hard work to get there.

I probably just need a nap.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Louise in the Sky with Diamonds

June woke up this morning with something very important to say. It was a bit hard to decipher but was eventually unencrypted: "Lala* flied in the sky."

"Louise flew in the sky?"

"Yeah."

"What were you doing?"

"I closing my eyes in my sheets."

"Oh."

Do you remember those vivid flying dreams of childhood? I had two I was convinced were real, one where I slowly floated up the red-carpeted staircase and around the upstairs of my childhood home; and another where I drifted up off of a beach, caught up by the wind, until I was hovering a hundred feet over the water looking down at the people below.

Note: Apparently it was a busy evening for magic realism in our household. When Louise was asked if she remembered any dreams from the night before, she responded "I dreamt about Papa except he didn't look like Papa. He was a pig, and we went on adventures together."

* Louise.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Slim's Word of the Day

gob·smacked
adj.
British slang. Utterly astounded, flabbergasted, shocked.
There are four reasons I can think of why this is an excellent word:
  1. It's British slang. British slang is always excellent.
  2. It incorporates the absolutely excellent word "gob," slang for mouth.
  3. It summons the excellent image of clapping one's hand to one's mouth in surprise.
  4. It just plain sounds excellent.
Go forth and gobsmack.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sweetie

Louise turns five today. Five. Somehow, that seems so old to me. Happy birthday, sweetie.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Don Ameche and Me



Recently, I've been going to the pool early to swim laps. It's usually just me and the old timers. Not that I mind - octogenarians are a-okay by me - but it does make me feel a bit like I've just stumbled onto the set of Cocoon.

"I Don't Eat Bobos"

As proclaimed, with no apparent antecedent, by June:
"I don't like bobos.* I don't eat bobos. I eat breakfast bars. I drink milk. I drink water."**
* Boo boos. (Minor injuries, for the kiddie-illiterate among you). No, this was not a commentary on either bourgeois bohemians or old shoes.

** Word for word, this is an accurate transcription though the actual diction was something more like, "Ah don lahk bobosh. Ah don eet bobosh..."

New Wheels

KP asked to see our new ride. Here ya go:



Sweet, huh? Fully amphibious, diesel engine, and a nifty little compartment for holding my sunglasses. We'll be well prepared for any contingencies.*

* Alright, I'm joking, but maybe we're on to something here. Amphibious landing craft could become the new status vehicle for well-heeled New Orleanians. Hummer should do some market research.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pop Quiz: Shuffle-tastic Edition

So is this already a bloggy-meme-thingy? If not, let's make it one. Tag, you're it!*
What are the first seven songs to play when you hit "Shuffle" on your ITunes/IPod?*
And no cheating. If the true answer is "Menudo, Menudo, Menudo, Menudo, Menudo, Menudo, Menudo," you gotta tell it like it is.

Extra-credit: Annotate it. You know, give us a little back-story. It's all about the human interest, baby!

Extra-extra credit: What's the most embarrassing thing in your music library?

* Benji's already ahead of the game.

* Those of you with out ITunes or IPods can, like, totally ignore this and go back to chiselling on your stone tablets or whatever.

Weather Band

Does anyone else ever listen to weather band radio?* The computerized, never-wavering voice incanting buoy readings, water temperatures, and wind speeds, occasionally interrupted by some sleepy-sounding weather-crat with a thick yat accent announcing tide heights at the Rigolets or the Southwest Pass - I find it strangely engaging, hypnotic almost.

* After our recent experiences in Winnie, we decided we needed an evacuation-mobile that wasn't 10+ years old so we finally bit the bullet and bought a new car, a Subaru. Of course, since Subaru-drivers are all extreme and shite, it comes with weather band radio.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Clouds



With the return of the rains have come the clouds, the billowing cumulus towers so characteristic of the New Orleans summer sky when it's always just poured or is about to pour, and the light is white hot, and the air is thick as a sauna. I remember, as a kid visiting my grandparents here in the summer, I was always struck by those skies that said clearly, this is a tropical place, and everything around, to the horizon and beyond, is all water and heat.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hippie Dancing

Love it. Hate it (mostly hate it). You have to admire the robustness of hippie dancing. Is there any genre, beat, or tempo that a determined hippie dancer can't bust his or her groove too?* Latin? No problema. Country? Yep. Funk? Oh, yeah. Rap? Why not? The complete disregard of rhythm and good taste is a powerful and liberating tool in cutting across stylistic boundaries. Go, hippie dancer, go!

* I sense a Ph.D. dissertation in here somewhere.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Slimbotastic Musicometric Shuffle-ology

My brain, which has been in a soporific stupor the last couple of days, is gradually rousing. Good morning. Let the blogging begin:

A little birdie asked me about my musical tastes. Okay. I briefly considered trying to list my favorites but found it impossible(It's simply not in my constitutional makeup. I'm a waffler by nature.) But then I decided to let technology do the work for me. In this ITunes era, our personal musical libraries form a sort of binary fingerprint, a detailed encapsulation of our particular musical tastes. And the shuffle function provides a perfect, non-biased* random sampling of that dataset. So I present to you an annotated list of the first seven songs (why seven? because this is my show, goddammit, and I want seven - that's why) to randomly play on my ITunes library (isn't there some sort of bloggy-meme-thingy just like this?):
  1. Lydia Mendoza (the First Queen of Tejano Music), "Carino Ciego": I adore this music. I don't speak a lick of Spanish and don't understand a word of what she's saying, but whatever she's saying, she says it beau-ti-ful-ly. The wonderfully expressive voice backed by exquisitely played guitar work, mmm! And it dovetails nicely with my obsession with old country: country goes south of the border, learns another language, takes on a flamenco tinge, comes back, picks up a German accordion and a polka beat, and does it's own thing. What's not to love?
  2. Fats Domino, "It Must Be Love": 50s era New Orleans R & B is another one of my obsessions, and Fats is one of the best. Give me anything recorded by Cosimo Matassa.** I love it. And this is a particularly good song, a great swinging melody, and then the hook, that drawn out "O-o-o-o-oh", the break, and the tight "I'm-in-love." Magnifique!
  3. Willie Nelson with Johnny Paycheck, "Take This Job & Shove It": This is from the Willie & Family Live Album. I love Willie Nelson. I love Willie Nelson in concert. This album perfectly captures that experience. The song, itself, is ridiculous, but I'm more than happy to hear it pop up, and it's a damn fine sing-along.
  4. Men at Work, "Who Can It Be Now?": How the hell did that get on there? Oh, it's from the Valley Girl soundtrack, a strictly Sarah-addition to the library and one that even she sometimes questions (though it does have a few brilliant tracks, "Angst in My Pants", great; "Johnny, Are You Queer?", wunderbar). But, in the name of scholarly integrity,*** I'll keep it on the list. And because Men at Work was my first, independent musical fixation (I was born in Australia and had some complex childhood notions of "down under" pride). And because they're mentioned in the very first Slimbolala post ever. All that being said, I actually skipped through most of the song.
  5. Cat Stevens, "The Wind": I can't imagine sitting through a whole Cat Stevens album, but in itty-bits, sure, it works for me (I'm generally on-board with the whole Seventies-folk-revival-thingy going on). This is from the Rushmore soundtrack which is genius, as are all of the soundtracks from all of the Wes Anderson movies (done by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame). And it's a short song.
  6. Les Paul and Mary Ford, "Take a Warning": Oh, I just love these two and freak out in tingling happiness when they're on. His dizzying guitar and her other-worldly voice, it makes me giddy. This particular song is a slightly goofy old-world-morality-tale-with-castanets schtick, but the mild dopiness is far outweighed by the musical brilliance.
  7. Johnny Cash, "Orange Blossom Special": Johnny Cash is pretty much it for me, the whole kit-and-kaboodle. I have nothing else to say. Also, the absurdly elaborate harmonica break down in the middle of the song is hilarious and a great contrast to his voice. And what's that second breakdown? A saxophone? They had some quirky instrumentation on those Columbia sessions.
Then I got bored with annotating stuff, and a bunch of weird, not-particularly-representative crap started popping up, and the project sort of fell apart and I just started hitting the forward button, but here's a few things that were coming down the line that I really do like:
  • David Bowie
  • Louis Jordan
  • Lightnin' Slim
  • Nat King Cole
  • Bobby "Blue" Bland
  • Nick Drake
  • Link Wray (playing "The Batman Theme" - ooh, that's a doozy!)
  • Elliott Smith
  • The Beatles
  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • The Velvet Underground
  • Alemayehu Eshete (freakishly wonderful sixties Ethiopian R&B)
  • Clarence Williams
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Belle & Sebastian
  • Duke Reid & His Group (glorious old-school ska - and "His Group"? what a perfect name for a backup group)
  • and on and on and on...
That's a pretty good sample. You asked. You got. There ya go. Now you know. Ciao.

* Yeah, yeah, I know about the various IPod/ITunes shuffle conspiracy theories. ("Dude, my IPod loves Menudo. It's totally weird!").

** Best name ever. Oh, and by the way, I had a stint a while back where I was going to the local Zen temple for morning meditations (that's a story for another day) that happens to occupy Cosimo's former recording studio (the second incarnation). That's a room with a damn weird history.

*** The Slimbo-sciences shall never be tainted by ethical lapses. Truthiness above all!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


photograph by Louise

Hobo Stick

Louise has recently expressed an interest in getting a pogo stick. Except she keeps calling it a "hobo stick."* I find this extremely funny.**

* The internet is a weird place and a constant reminder that their truly is nothing new under the sun. I just found a recipe for "Hobo Stick Popcorn" on a Girl Scouts website. ("Mmm, delicious. You can really taste the hobo.") Personally, I thought Hobo Stick might make a good deodorant brand: "Hobo Stick, so effective you can skip a month."

** Of course, I find the word "hobo" extremely funny in general and use it frequently which is almost certainly the cause of Louise's malapropism.

News Flash: Slimbo-Readers Are Slightly Cooler Than Expected!

The results are in. The social grade of Slimbo-readers* breaks down as follows:**



There was a preponderance of nerds, weirdos, and losers, but also a surprising number of Bs and even a splash of A or A-ish folks*** bringing us to an average grade of (da-da-da-daaa!):
B-
OMG! We're "socially in the mix," just barely, but whatever. This is like the best day of my life! OMG! I can't wait to tell my mom!

* You complicated types were given a single, average value using whatever gall-durned logic I felt like.

** The fact that I made this chart clearly demonstrates why I was a C.

*** 'Cause frankly I assumed you were all on the fast train to Dorkville.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lost Boy

Do you ever feel that the magic is gone? There's no mystery left? Go here.* It will change your mind (and possibly your life).

* I find this particularly hilarious/disturbing because the fellow bears a freakish resemblance to a former co-worker of mine (though my co-worker's bowl-cut was mod-rocker, not impish fairy-child).

Thanks for the tip, Marco.

Random Overheard Quote of the Day

"My watch is stinky."

Imax Movies I Would Rather Not See

  • Imax: Journey to Hoboken
  • Imax: The Magic of Parasites
  • Imax: Gigli 3D
  • Imax: Colonoscopy

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Louise: Quote of the Day

Absolutely out of the blue (the TV was not on), loudly declared from the other room:
"Cookie Monster uses bad grammar!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

Slimbo-Poll: Making the Grade

What social grade were you in high school?
A: In the "in crowd."
B: Not in the "in crowd" but socially in the mix.
C: Nerd or weirdo.
D: Viciously ostracized outcast.
F: Shut-in.
For example, I was a solid C, initially a nerd, later a weirdo. Sarah was a B, generally well liked, class president, and friends with the A kids, but also friends with C kids and a little too brainy to be in-in.*

* Sarah quibbles with my analysis, stating that while she was, in fact, a B in middle school, she was an A in high school. My response is that her high school was a magnet school for the arts and heavily skewed towards "nerds and weirdos." An arts-school A generally translates to a B in any "normal" school.

"That's for the Toilet"

This morning, June was rooting around in the bathroom, looking for trouble. She found the toilet brush and held it up to me with a quizzical "What's this?" expression. I told her, "That's for the toilet." A look of understanding dawned on her face, and she declared "for stir-ring."

Um, sure.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Extreme Foolishness

You know what this world needs? More extreme sports. I have a few suggestions:

  • extreme accounting
  • extreme Elvis impersonation
  • extreme haberdashing
  • extreme head games
  • extreme hooliganism
  • extreme hopscotch
  • extreme limping
  • extreme mumbling
  • extreme pandering
  • extreme pickup sticks
  • extreme sloth
  • extreme streaking
  • extreme thumbwrestling
  • extreme tiddlywinks
  • extreme waxing
Feel free to add to the list, though I should warn you, if your idea's any good I'll be forced to steal it, claiming all media rights and adding another sinuous tentacle to the many-armed beast that is the Slimbo Media Empire. Mwah-hah-hah!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth

Hope you enjoyed your burgers and weenies. I sure do love this country. It frequently frustrates and embarasses me, but I love it dearly. I really do. That is all. Good night.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Computer Filled with Wesson Oil

Somebody recently wound up at this site by Googling:
computer filled with Wesson Oil
Forgive my schadenfreude, but I have a hard time not laughing when I imagine the scenario that must have prompted that desperate search ("Damn it, woman! I told you not to keep your groceries on top of my computer!"). And were they actually performing the search on the oil-filled computer, frantically racing against the clock to find an answer before the insidious substance seeped into the motherboard and brought their efforts to an end?

Rain, Rain, Come and Stay

It's finally raining again, which is good.* It's been way too dry for way too long. Maybe it will wash away all the grit and debris and turn the brown, flooded yards green again.

* Although each time I smell that wet-earth smell, it takes me right back to those early days after the storm, when that pungent, humid funk pervaded the city. How long will that last?

Slimbo-Poll: Hunka-Hunka-Goo-Goo-Gachoo

I think I know how this will go, but what the hell:
a) Elvis

b) Beatles
Place your vote.

The Sounds in My Head

In truth, I'm a bit of a musical curmudgeon, and my real musical heart-of-hearts resides in that far-off era before the Beatles set foot on Ed Sullivan's stage, but I still like to know what those crazy rock n' roll kids are up to these days. To this end, I have waded into the brave new (to me) world of podcasts and discovered* this fine program:
The Sounds in My Head
It's a fellow named Daniel who puts together "a weekly music podcast featuring songs and bands you might have missed," recent cuts from various indie/rockie/etcetera bands I've mostly never heard of intermixed with his fine banter plus plenty of cheeky, leftist-propaganda snippets.

Try it. You'll like it.

* Well, more precisely I learned about it from Rob Walker, author of this fine book and this fine blog, but anyhoo...