Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Slimbo-Poll: It's Not Rocket Science

Someday the phrase "It's not rocket science" will become obsolete.* Which phrase will take its place?
a) "It's not extreme plasma science."

b) "It's not quantum perambulator science."

c) "It's not zork science."

d) Other: _________________________
* Much like the phrase "It's not horse and buggy science" became obsolete in the 1890s.

Slimbo-Poll: Cluck-Cluck-Ee-Ee-Ha-Ha

Which is funnier and why?
a) Chickens.

b) Monkeys.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All Trailer, All The Time

One of my co-workers, a fellow who used to live in a house and work in an office, now lives in a trailer parked in the front yard of his house and works in a trailer parked in the parking lot of the office.* What's up with that?

* The cluster of trailers in the parking lot is lovingly referred to by its occupants as "Trailerville".

Louise's Anticipated Career Trajectory

  1. "Bug scientist" (or, alternately, "Space scientist").*
  2. Astronaut.
  3. Restaurateur. Her restaurant will serve tomatoes and hummus.** Adults will drink water and cocktails such as margaritas. Kids will drink milk.
* She is operating on the understanding that being a scientist is a common prerequisite for being an astronaut.

** Neither of which she'll eat herself.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Your Turn? What's Up With That?

That concludes my contributions to "What's Up With That" Tuesday. Now I'd like open up the floor to members of the audience. Do you have any curmudgeonly observations phrased in the form of an indignant question from a bad comedy routine?

Segways? What's Up With That?

Segways? What's up with that? I confess, when I first read about the Segway, my inner-dork tingled with excitement. "Finally, harnessing the power of the gyroscope for the common good!" But it never really went anywhere, and I think I know why. The handful of times I've actually seen them, they're invariably being driven by some attention-starved ├╝ber-dork giddily awaiting the moment when someone asks him "What's that?" so he can launch into his twenty minute dork-spiel, endlessly enumerating the merits and technological underpinnings of his overpriced toy. Who wants to be that guy?

Bone Buddies? What's Up With That?

We have little rawhide chew treats for our dog, Penny. They're called "Bone Buddies". Bone Buddies? What's up with that? Sounds like bad gay porn to me.

Facial Tattoos? What's Up With That?

Welcome to an exciting new feature "What's Up With That?" Tuesdays. Our first installment:

Facial tattoos? What's up with that? Once you get a facial tattoo you're pretty much committing yourself to one of three career paths:
  1. Death metal guitarist.
  2. Life long penitentiary inmate.
  3. Line cook.
Or perhaps some combination of the three.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Word of the Day

Today's word?
  1. Characterized by lethargy; sluggish.
"Logy" is much better than "pukey".

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Sad Lot

LLA's interpretation might be right. What started as light vomit showers has escalated into a Category 5 horrorcane, a malady afflicting each and every family member in turn. We're a sad lot. I think, though, that the storm may be passing. The winds are dying down, and I can just barely make out the first hint of clear sky on the horizon.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Postdiluvian Par-tay!

One still occasionally sees rescue boats abandoned here and there around town, private boats that were commandeered in the days after the storm and used to rescue people from the floodwaters, then left where they were as the waters receded.

This one was left in the neutral ground in front of the University of New Orleans. Students returned in January, and since then it has been covered in fraternity graffiti. Whoo-hoo!

Rain of Terror

After the storm, when we moved into our current, smaller digs, we got the girls bunk beds. Of course, in this safety-conscious era, it was covered with all sorts of warnings. Here's one, though, that I don't remember seeing:
Warning! The occupant of the top bunk may come down with severe stomach flu in the middle of the night, causing said occupant to vomit blindly over the edge of the bunk into the darkness below, raining foulness on a remarkably large area including, most unfortunately, said occupant's little sister in the bottom bunk.
I wish they'd told me. It would have better prepared me for the events of last night.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Coinism: Horrorcane


  1. An exceptionally horrible hurricane.
I claim no credit for this one. It's from Annou who used to know a lady who always said "hurricane" this way.

I love the term but hope we don't have much need for it in the next few months.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Fraid of Ghosts

I've been listening to various BBC radio shows on the internet, and I just adore those quirky, oh-so-British little smartypants games they play. "What do you call a group of ghosts?" "A fraid of ghosts." "Oh-ho! Brilliant! Unbelievable!" My favorites are the ones where I never really understand what's going on, and I can't tell if I'm getting lost in the cultural gap or if there just really are no discernible rules and objectives other than being absolutely, devilishly clever, and I laugh anyway, although I can't tell you why.

Can we start one of those? How does one do that?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fire Hydrants from Around the World, #3 (I know the anticipation has just been killing you).

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

In the months after the storm, the presence of the National Guard was, for me, one of the most potent symbols of the oddness of our situation, the militarization of a major American city: sand colored Humvees rolling down the streets full of Guardsmen and women in full combat gear, toting large rifles. Then, gradually, they faded away, and one day they were gone. We were "normal" again.

Now they're back. After a recent spike in violent crime, they have been invited to return to the city to patrol flooded neighborhoods, freeing the police to focus on high-crime areas. Weird, weird, weird.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Queue the Strings

Queue the strings. Press play on the slow-mo memory montage. My tenure at the coffice has come to an end, and as of today, I'm actually back at the regular old office.* It was a good run, and I will cherish our moments together: the obese ontologist, the uppity hoo-ha, the fucking apes, the Rock 'n' Roll Raider, the mug-to-recovery, the wacky mack-attack-y, the diarrhea dialectic, mini-Manson makes a move, life, poo, love, and conflict. The coffice is a many-splendored thing. I will miss it. And I promise, some day I shall return.

* Although the regular old office isn't so regular. In fact, it's really weird. The buildings themselves didn't flood, but they did experience catastrophic roof failure, turning them into giant, soggy mold-farms. Now the mold is gone, but the work crews are still there. Most of the floors remain uninhabited. The parking lots are full of trailers. Heavy machinery rumbles by all day. And there's not much of anything else for miles around: no restaurants, no coffee-shops, just the occasional barely functional university whose student center I intend to raid for my midday coffee and wi-fi fix.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dear Slimbolala: Shooting from the Hip

Matt asks:
Dear Slimbolala,

There is a man in my neighborhood who has me baffled. He's mid 30s, wears aviators, tight shortsleeve 'sport' shirts, tight pants. But he is not a hipster. It's hard to explain how I know this. He has no similarly-dressed hipster friends. His hair, while totally consonant with his look (shortish, a bit longer on top, strandy), is not fashionable. His shoes (dark-colored bo-bos)* are neither expensive nor trendy. What's with this guy? I mean, he really has a look- you can spot him a block away- but what's his deal?

I've listened to him carefully, and detected no foreign accent at all. So: Can you give me an answer based on what I've told you? What are the possibilities? How can I confirm or rule any out? Help!

Dear Matt,

I, like you, immediately assumed he was foreign, but you've done your homework, eliminating this possibility. There are only four remaining options. He is:
  1. An alien (of the extraterrestrial variety).
  2. A spy.
  3. A feral child discovered in the wilderness and raised to adulthood by kindly city-dwellers, doing his best to assimilate into contemporary society but always slightly out of synch with our baffling array of customs.
  4. Some combination of the above.
Perhaps a Venn diagram would help:

To determine where to plot him, you must perform a series of tests, confirming or denying each attribute:

Is he an alien? As we all remember from ALF, aliens love to eat cats. Acquire a cat (preferably one to which you have no emotional attachment). Place it in his path. If he is an alien, he will chase the cat, attempting to eat it and wreaking comical mayhem in the process.

Is he a spy? Spies love buxom, dangerous women with thinly veiled, malicious intentions. Acquire one of these. Place her in his path. If he is a spy, they will engage in witty, innuendo-filled conversation, retire to his cabana, and make love. In the middle of the night, she will attempt to stab him with a poisoned hair pin. He will suddenly draw a pistol and shoot her straight between the eyes. She will die with an expression of crestfallen bewilderment on her face.

Is he a feral child discovered in the wilderness and raised to adulthood by kindly city-dwellers? Feral children can't resist sniffing feces. Acquire some feces. Place it in his path. If he is a feral child, he will crouch over it and vigorously sniff. If it is lady-feces, he will grunt with pleasure.

Follow these steps, and you will be sure to find your answer. Please report back when you're done. We will all be waiting with bated breath.
Wow! You people sure do have a lot of messed up problems, but don't worry. I'm here for you.

* I had no idea what bobos were until the internet enlightened me.

Happy Father's Day

All the best to all the fathers in my life - including me. I shall now do a wild and spontaneous, self-congratulatory Father's Day dance. I'm sorry you won't be able to see it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lost and Found

We're very slowly working through some of our flooded photographs, seeing what's salvageable. I may post some from time to time. Here's wee little Slimbo putting the finishing touches on a groovy Seventies Christmas tree.

photograph by Victor Olivier

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Confessions of a Girl-Boy

Gender Studies Month continues here at Slimbolala:

I have a confession. I’m a girl-boy. No, no, not some Eugenidesian biological anomaly. And I ain't no wussie "girlie-man" either. I possess all the true manly virtues:
  • I'm a good father to my children.
  • I'm a good husband to my wife.
  • I can pack a U-Haul with vicious efficiency.
  • I once built a barn.*
  • I study maps for fun.
  • I have a little thingy on my keychain with lots of tools (including real manly tools like pliers and bottle openers, not just girlie stuff like nail files and scissors).
It's just that many of the things I think about and talk about and care about are things that traditionally fall under the Domain of the Ladies:
  • I can’t bring myself to give a damn about sports.
  • I cut hair, well, specifically my hair (no Supercuts for me, thank you very much). And when I do, I collect the trimmings on the unread Sports section.
  • I'm Decorator in Chief at our house.
  • I like to talk about people.
  • I don’t like to talk about investment strategies.
  • I collect demitasses.
  • I spend way too much time thinking about things like fashion-space.
  • I drink white wine spritzers (oh, wait - that's Euro).
  • I do yoga.
  • I have no idea what I bench press.
And I know I'm not the only one. I see you others out there with your subtly well put-together outfits and your easy rapport with women. It's time to own your girl-boyness. Throw open your windows and tell the world. I am girl-boy. Hear me roar!

What'd you say? Are you making fun of me? Shut up. I'll kick your ass!

* Well, technically, I might have had some help with this one, but let's not quibble.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Storm Cloud Ahead Louise Saying

Louise was home for a couple of weeks between school and summer camp, and she spent much of the time drawing like crazy. She frequently appears as a character in the drawings, as do other family members. And fairies. Lots of fairies.

This is one of my favorites. She required help with the spelling, but everything else is strictly her invention. Where did she learn about crow's nests?

Maybe I can market it as Katrina-inspired art naif and sell it for big bucks ("Hmm, yes. Very allegorical. Very allegorical, indeed.").

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Friday, June 09, 2006

Winnie the Poo

As I said, our Austin trip was not without difficulties. Late Thursday afternoon, we were zipping westward on a rural stretch of I-10 somewhere in Southeast Texas. I was happily immersed in Fresh Air. The kids were quiet in the back seat. Sarah turned to me. "Do you smell something?" It was then that I noticed the faint trail of smoke streaming back from the engine and the temperature gauge buried in the red. We veered off at the nearest exit, stopped on an empty stretch of frontage road, exited the vehicle, and watched the huge plume of steam billow skyward. I opened the hood and saw glowing green puddles of antifreeze all over the engine. Hmm.

We waited. To pass the time, I inadvertently stepped in an ant colony. They swarmed up my leg until my Slappy Hands of Death delivered them to their maker. To pass more time, I read the owner's manual. Finally, I called John, the car-savviest guy I could think of.

"Can I put plain water in the radiator?"

"Yes. Just don't burn yourself."


I emptied all our drinking water into the engine, and while I did avoid burning myself, I didn't manage to avoid re-stepping in the ant colony. I was once again forced to send dozens of my little, six-legged brethren to the Great Ant Colony in the Sky. We restarted the engine and puttered down the the road to the nearest gas station.

Perhaps, I should mention that these events held a particular charge for me: "Oh no, the Curse of Texas strikes again!" You see, the first two vehicles I owned both died in Texas (on my first two trips into that cruel state). I thought last fall's evacuation had broken the curse, but the new events made me question this. "That was Annou's car, not mine, so maybe the curse didn't apply. Will I ever be able to drive a vehicle I own into the state of Texas and actually drive it back out again?"

At the gas station, I filled the radiator with antifreeze. After a silent, optimistic minute, it poured back out, gushing forth in a neon torrent from the engine block. A chubby man with sweaty, grey hair, overalls and a big, bushy mustache waddled over and took a look.

"Hmm, they sure got these engines packed in here. Might be the water pump. You can't get that fixed here. Ain't nothing in Winnie. You're gonna have to go to Beaumont. It's back east about ten miles. Take it real slow."

"Okay, thank you. We will."

"'Course, I don't drive anything that costs more 'an a hundred dollars," he said, pointing to his '80s Ford Escort of an indeterminate, splotchy blue-grey color. "That way, if it breaks, I just leave it where it is. Where you all coming from?"

"New Orleans."

"Oh, yeah? That's pretty bad. I still gotta blue tarp on my roof from Rita."

"Wow, yeah. I know how that is."

"The fellow I want to roof it says he's backed up for the rest of the year, and I oughta get somebody else, but I don't want one of these fly-by-night operations doin' it. I'll wait. Where you all headed?"


"I'm heading up to Oklahoma City. My wife's having surgery up there. I got about ten hours of driving ahead of me. Well, I'll be praying for you all the next hundred miles."

"Okay. We will be too. Good luck."

After deciding that we weren't headed anywhere that evening, we checked into the nearby Holiday Inn. The desk clerk informed me that Winnie was not, in fact, as desolate as our friend had indicated and gave me the number of a nearby mechanic.

We unloaded the car, and smuggled Penny (our dog) into the room. I called the mechanic and explained the situation.

"[incomprehensible cell phone garble]"

"I'm sorry, what was that?"

"[incomprehensible cell phone garble]"

"I'm sorry, can you say that again?"

"Have you been drinking?"

"No, sir. It's just a bad connection."

"I understand. I said our guy will be there in the morning."

"Okay, thank you."

We read the children stories, and tucked them in. They, however, found the prospect of staying in a random motel gloriously exciting and repeatedly untucked themselves, bouncing up and down on the bed. After lengthy, complex negotiations, we achieved a tentative victory.

Next we were presented with the daunting task of figuring out what the hell to do for several hours at night in Winnie when we could neither be in the room, lest we rile up the children, nor could we go anywhere, lest we be charged with child neglect. We decided the solution was beer. I cut through a hedge, past the neighboring RV park, and into a skeezy little Shop Smart (or some such thing). The small, burnt-out woman behind the counter twitched, smirked, and leeringly asked, "Are you old enough to buy that?" as if we were complicit in some low-grade crime.

"Yeah, I'm plenty old enough."

We sat on the sidewalk outside our room, discreetly sipping the beers. The children decided to reject our previous agreement and periodically screamed more demands. We considered filling their sippy-cups with beer. The night progressed. Eventually, everyone went to sleep.

In the morning, I snuck Penny out for a brief walk among the generic landscaping and mulch. Then the mechanic arrived. He was missing an eye and a tooth. He introduced himself as "Dane, D-A-N-E,"* but his shirt said "Patch," and he met every statement or question with the response, "Not a problem," doled out in a slow, easy-going drawl.

Dane, a.k.a. "Patch"

"Yep, it's your water pump. I'll get you a replacement, and we'll have you on the road as soon as possible." He left and returned. "Got one. You're lucky. Most of the time we gotta go to Beaumont for a part like this." He began dismantling our engine. I told him we would be hanging out at the pool if he needed us.

"Not a problem."

Louise splashed happily. June fussed miserably until we silenced her with an armload of snacks from the Free Continental Breakfast. Sarah read trashy magazines from the lobby. I drifted lazily in the whirlpool among the drowned insects, slowly spinning in circles and staring at the puffy white clouds in the blue Texas sky. One hour passed. Then two. Then three.

We ate lunch at Taco Bell. When we returned to the room, Penny welcomed us by vomiting on the carpet. Finally, in the early afternoon, Dane was done. We paid him and thanked him, loaded the car, smuggled Penny back out of the room, buckled in the kids, checked out, and hit the road.

I made one more stop at the gas station for a cup of coffee. As we returned to the highway and Winnie receded in our rear-view mirror, I sipped happily. We had escaped the curse, and shitty gas station coffee never tasted so good.

* Presumably he felt the spelling necessary since his thick East Texas accent rendered the names "Dan" and "Dane" near homonyms.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What I'm Drinking: La Michelada

Our weekend in Austin introduced me to a new drink to add to our bevy of warm-weather beverages: the Michelada. I'd never heard of it before, and I should warn you, it's a weird drink, probably not for everyone, but I'm besmitten.

Line the rim of a tall glass with salt (spread the salt on a small plate; moisten the lip of the glass; gently dip the rim in the salt). Fill the glass with ice. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Add several vigorous dashes of hot sauce (the exact quantity is your preference, but I'm finding a like quite a few dashes). Fill the glass with the Mexican beer of your choice and sip away.*

Enjoy the cooling beads of sweat as they form on your brow.

* I think one of the reasons I'm so enamored of this drink is that the flavor combination reminds me of eating raw oysters. All that's missing are the Saltines, horseradish, and, well... raw oysters.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hints from Slimbolala

Advice column? Going strong. Series of nifty household tips? Coming right up. World domination? A stone's throw away. But don't worry, my dominion shall be kind, judicious, and full of handy, dandy, nifty little tricks to keep everything humming along right as rain.
Today's tip: When the ice cream is too hard to scoop, put it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Great tip, huh? I made it up myself,* and I'm giving it to you for free. All I ask is that every time you use it, bow your head and silently incant, "Thank you, Slimbolala. Thank you, Slimbolala. Thank you, Slimbolala. Thank you, Slimbolala."

And you're quite welcome.

Warning! If you, like me, are prone to absent-mindedly placing items in bizarre places, this practice could be problematic, gradually eroding the psychic barrier between the ice cream and the microwave and telling your subconscious, "It's okay to store the ice cream in the microwave. That's where it goes." Let me tell you, it's not okay. Discovering the sweet, sticky remains of last nights overpriced Ben & Jerry's puddling onto the revolving tray, well, the heartbreak is palpable. The solution is to mercilessly beat your subconscious into submission while screaming "You're not the boss of me! You're not the boss of me!"

* Because, certainly, no one in the history of humanity has ever thought of this before.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Home Again, Home Again...

... jiggety jog. We're back, gorged, tired, and happy. All went smooth like butter (except for mechanical difficulties on the outbound journey, which resulted in an unanticipated and less than glorious night in Winnie, TX - more on that later).

So don't touch that dial. This font of nonsense shall once again flow forth unimpeded.

Oh, and Happy Day of the Beast... or Bad Day of the Beast... or Very, Very Evil Day of the Beast, or... what does convention dictate? Hmm.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Texas Bound (Again, Again)

We head to Austin today for a long weekend, visiting our darling friends who were blown west by the storm. I had never set foot in the town until the incredibly strange and stressful months we spent there during our exile. It will be good (and probably a little weird) to see it again under these more favorable circumstances.

Things might be a bit sluggish around here for the next few days while I digest immoderate quantities of tacos and barbecue, but we'll get going full bore again next week.

White Knuckles

Today is the official start of hurricane season. According to my reckoning, we're more vulnerable than we've ever been. This is going to be a jumpy town for the next few months.