Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cosmetic case of Violet Thomas

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Just Thought You Should Know...

I just thought you should know that:
  • I have one white eyelash. It periodically falls out but always grows back. I like to think it means I'm the Chosen One (though I have no cosmological basis for this claim).

  • I only wear grey socks—mid-charcoal grey. I'm having a hard time finding replacements, and they're all starting to look kind of ratty.

  • Taco trucks have changed my life. (Prior to the storm, I always packed my lunch for work. Now I find myself hitting the taco truck at least twice a week. Though I love the po-boys and other local fare, a big midday po-boy makes me want to kick my feet up on the desk, rest my hands on my gut, and go to sleep. But dos fajitas y dos pastor with onion, cilantro, lime, green and red sauce, and sliced jalapeno makes me want to jump up and down, thump my chest, hoot like a Gibbon, and do something.)

  • I am prone to occasional, inexplicable, and sudden shifts in my absurdly rigid rules of attire. I have, at various points in my youth and adulthood, refused to wear khakis, refused to wear jeans, refused to wear black, constantly worn black, refused to wear sneakers, only worn sneakers, etc. (I suspect, in the near future, I will ditch my current batch of stripey knit workaday shirts and replace them all with a closetful of short-sleeve white Oxfords—a rigorous Mormon missionary chic, if you will.)

  • I have a bigger head than anyone you know.*

  • I'm terrible at remembering songs (both lyrics and melody) and will often jumble two mis-remembered oldies together into a single, unintentional mashup.
What should I know about you?

* In the literal sense. It's kind of big in the metaphorical sense too, but I am, after all, the Chosen One.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007



* muff-uh-LOT-uh!

Java Drive

This morning I woke up and made the brutal discovery that we had no coffee in the house—a most hateful coffee conundrum. How can you get coffee if you don't have coffee?

There should be a coffee delivery service:*

Two large coffees and a pound of French Roast, whole bean if you please. AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN! Thank you kindly.

I would pay any price.

* This must have happened somewhere, right?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Slang Sling

In what's becoming something of a regular feature, here's my recent slang round-up:
"like the red-headed stepdaughter" – An outcast. (That's a weird one. Google revealed several possible back-stories but nothing conclusive. All the possible back-stories were also kind of weird.)

"sewed up like Betsy Ross" – Squared away. Done did. (I love this one.)

"crawfish" – The verb form meaning to "back out of". (I assume this is a reference to the way a threatened crawfish will skedaddle backwards out of trouble.) As in, "This guy crawfished on me. I've got to get a replacement."
That's my list. What've you got?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Go, Grill

There's a guy I've seen around town a couple of times recently who's built a full-size charcoal grill into his bicycle. That's the kind of ingenuity this city needs.

What other about-town oddballs have we got?*

* For starters, there's the Hank-Williams-blasting-cowboy-hat-wearing-truck-covered-in-tiny-figurines-driving fellow. I saw him again a little while back. Glad he's still around.

997, 998, 999...

Sarah's favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. Last night, Louise got ahold of Sarah's dainty little hardcover copy and insisted on taking it to bed with her. When I asked her why she wanted to look at a book full of small, densely set print with no pictures, she responded, "I just want to."

Once, when I was five, I counted to a thousand because it seemed like fun. Tonight, Louise counted to a thousand because it seemed like fun.

Genes are weird.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

All Slightly More Grown-ish Up

And speaking of life going on, Louise "graduated" from kindergarten today.*

My goodness. We have a first-grader on our hands.

* She cried a bit when she realized she had to say good-bye to her teachers.

True Crime

A reader who knows New Orleans but no longer lives here asked for my take on the city's recent, much publicized spike in crime, saying that from afar it's easy to get that impression we're sinking into an uninhabitable quagmire of violence.

The short answer is: No, we're not an uninhabitable quagmire of violence. The long answer is complicated, and I feel some ambivalence on how to respond.

I don't want to downplay what is a serious issue. Our murder rate is atrocious. The police force is understaffed and overwhelmed. Our justice system is dysfunctional. The consequences are very real for the victims, for their families and friends, and for the neighborhoods besieged by violence. (And for the communities that lose a large percentage of their men to incarceration.)

Growing up in the country, the sound of gunfire was not uncommon: the single deep crack of a rifle as a man shot at an animal somewhere in the distance. Unfortunately, in some parts of our city, the sound of gunfire is also not uncommon: often the repeated pop-pop-pop of a handgun as some stupid kid wildly unloads an entire clip at some other stupid kid over the right to sell drugs on a corner for chump change.

But that's far from the whole picture. Some potential visitors, alarmed by the coverage in the national media, have expressed concern. The reality is that the parts of the city frequented by visitors are very safe. A typical tourist would have no reason to go to the drug-riddled neighborhoods where much of the violence is concentrated.

And for those of us who live here, we take reasonable precautions. Like residents of most cities, we each have a mental map of the city's risk-topography. We make decisions about where we'll go and when. We learn to spot trouble. We learn who and what to avoid.

Life goes on. The crime sucks, but we make do. And we still find life in this city very much worth while.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Hunt White Tail

Continuing our investigations into the good, bad, and ugly world of bumper-sticker humor, I saw this one recently:
It was on the back of a large pickup truck driven by a paunchy middle-aged man. A tired-looking woman rode in the passenger seat.

Do you think he calls her his "prize doe"? When they go on dates, does he joke like he's going to tie her on the hood ? Does he sweet talk her, "you're so pretty I'd like to replace your eyes with glass replicas and mount your head on the wall"?

No wonder she's tired.

Monday, May 21, 2007


What section of the newspaper are you? I'm pretty sure I'm the Living / Style / Whatever They Call It Where You're From section. (Though I like to think I’m a good Living / Style / Whatever... section. Our local rag's often frail assemblage of debutante photos,* feel-good stories, and fitness regimes tends not to hold my interest.)

I admire the front and Metro section folks.** Sometimes I try to convince myself I'm one of them, though in my heart of fluffy hearts I know it's not true. The Sports section-ers completely mystify me. Is anyone Classifieds? Weather? Obituaries?

* Actually, the debutante/society photos are kind of fascinating.

** And these days, around here, Metro really does top the list.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bumper-Comedy Gold

The other day I saw a bumper sticker, "WELDERS STAY IN HEAT". Now, I realize this is not a new genre*—the career-innuendo pun has been kicked around for a while. (Though at the moment I can't actually think of a single other example. "SPELUNKERS DO IT IN DEEP HOLES"? No...) But I'm wondering if maybe, just maybe, there's a bit of bumper-comedy gold left in that vein.

Is there a pun for every career?
  • Accountants?
  • Car salesmen?
  • Organic chemists?
  • Small-engine maintenance technicians?
  • Wal-Mart greeters?
  • Sandwich artists?
Is there any career that can't be innuendoed? (I'm pretty sure there are some that shouldn't be.)

We still have so much to learn...

* Nor was this a particularly good example of the genre.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Double the Fun

Looking for something to do Saturday night? Well, there's more Bruisers gigs than you can shake a stick at—well, specifically two. They are as follows:
  1. Musical interlude to the Big Easy Roller Girls bout against Memphis. Rock 'n' roll and tough chicks on skates—what's not to like? Mardi Gras World, wheels roll at 7p.m.
  2. Later at the Circle Bar. Along with some other musical magic. (Happy Birthday, DC.) At some other indeterminate time (that, by the dictates of logic, would be sometime after 7p.m.).
Hope to see you there. And then there again later. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The drawring is all well and good, but I'm thinking the real fun is just making up the names, so how about another round of the Name Game? Do we have any:
destitute mime names?
Or perhaps:
doll names for a line of dolls with disconcertingly realistic bodily functions?
Or maybe:
names of characters from an animated straight-to-DVD talking barnyard animal movie with evangelical Christian themes?
Extra points are awarded for names matching multiple categories. If you submit a name that successfully matches all three categories, you will be crowned Grand-Mega-Name-Game-King/Queen-Super-Tastic and receive our Super-Tastic Prize Pack: a voice-over role in an animated straight-to-DVD talking barnyard animal movie with evangelical Christian themes, a doll with disconcertingly realistic bodily functions made in your likeness, and an army of destitute mimes to do your silent bidding.

Make it so.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Dopple Gang

This morning I was told I look like Mr. Quintron.* I've also been mistaken for or told I look like the following:
  • Dave Matthews**
  • Dave Grohl
  • Harry Connick, Jr.
All musicians, often with the name "David"—what's up with that? Who do you supposedly look like?

* At work. I'm still stunned that anyone at my place of employment even knows who Quintron is.

** I was in a bar in Charlottesville. Some college gal I'd never seen before hollered at me, "Dave!" (This is my actual name. It doesn't say "Slimbolala" on my birth certificate.) Slightly confused, I responded, "Um… yes?" She hollered, "I love your music!" Slightly confused (since at that time I'd never played anywhere but in my bedroom), I responded, "Um… thank you." Her friend leaned over and whispered in her ear. She turned bright red. Clarifications were made. We went our respective ways.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cock-A-Dude'll Do

This picture was in the paper the other day. The caption reads as follows:
They're on opposite sides of the issue, but Chris Daughdrill, left, president of the Louisiana Game Bird Association, and Laura Maloney, chief executive officer of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, kept it civil Tuesday before a Senate committee hearing testimony on a proposed cockfighting ban...
Looks like a little more than "civil" to me. Somebody option that story. I smell a date movie!

Evily Oogles

Evily Oogles: evil villain
and rejected Hee Haw skit character

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ol' "Greazy Boots" Joe

I have some vague notion for a game: You make up evil villain names*—you know, good villain-ish villain names—and I illustrate them. Or maybe pirate names?** Or rejected Hee Haw skit character names? I don't know. Never mind.

* Is there any other kind of villain?

** I'm trying to figure out if Stumps McSnagglebeard is a good pirate name. The "Mc" seems dubious. But then just plain "Stumps Snagglebeard" doesn't flow right. I don't know. Never mind.

Fish in a Barrel

The other day as I biked through the neighborhood, I saw a guy sitting on his stoop with a rod and reel "fishing" in a small tin can—dangling the line down into the can and twitching it about like he was trying to lure some big catch. What was that about?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Lousy With..."

I like the phrase "lousy with", used in the sense of "teeming with" or "possessing an abundance of":
"This place is lousy with hipsters. Let's go to the Brothers Three instead."
Lice infestation as metaphor—what could be better?

What do you like?

Ba Da Da Dum Dah Dum Dah Dum Dah Dum...

So this guy—he seems like a sort of regular, straight-ahead, played-football-in-high-school, guy's guy kind of guy—his ring tone is the theme music to "Sex and the City". Does he know? Does he just think it's some catchy little diddy?

Or is this the iceberg-tip of some complex and tender inner life? Does he circle the reruns in TV Guide? Does he brew some herbal tea, curl up in cozy blanket, and tune in? Does he cluck his tongue at Samantha's improprieties? Does he laugh at Stanford's sour quips? Does he fret over Charlotte's marital troubles and Miranda's hard-headed ways? Does he cry at the final episode?

Just wondering...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

So the mantra of eco-friendly living is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", right? Let's see how New Orleans is doing:
Recycle: Nope, nada. There hasn't been any recycling since the storm. Cans, bottles, absurdly erroneous Road Home rejection letters—they're all just trash.

Reduce: Well, a lot of us have a lot less stuff than we used to. Does that count?

Reuse: Ding! Ding! Ding! This is where we really excel.
Last night we hauled various unwanted items out to the curb. Within five minutes, a truck had stopped, and a man was stripping plumbing from the old, battered sink. The work crew down the street snagged an old door. By morning, the pile was picked clean. Anything that might be of value to someone somewhere was gone.

This is the way it always is. We're a poor city. The street curb functions as a sort of informal peer-to-peer Salvation Army, implemented by a large network of trash-pickers, odd-jobbers, and fix-it-uppers. With a minimum of overhead and no overriding organization, things migrate from where they're not needed to where they are. Broken stuff gets fixed. Every drop of value gets squeezed out of items that, in more prosperous locales, might long ago have been cast off as not worth the trouble. It's remarkably efficient and slightly amazing.

I'm glad we're good at something.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Junie Wanna Cracker

Louise is almost six and likes to muse on curious subjects. June is three and likes to be just like her sister. This can have humorous consequences:
Louise: If I was a bird, I'd be a parrot.

June: If I wassa bird, I be a parrot.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Flood Days

Some places have snow days, we have flood days. The first round came at 4 a.m. The windows rattled with tremendous rolls of thunder. The girls climbed in our bed until it passed. June quivered with fear.

The morning was calm, but more rains swept in as the day passed. At midday, the power at work cut out, then flickered on again as the generators kicked in. As I was recomposing my lost email, we were told to go home. The streets were flooding. I decided the email wasn't meant to be sent.

The next two hours were a complicated series of logistical maneuvers: cross town phone calls, traffic jams, circuitous navigations around and sometimes through flooded thoroughfares, kids (and the classroom guinea pig we were pig-sitting for the weekend) picked up early from school, more circuitous navigations. Eventually we made it.

The local news was gushing with neighborhood by neighborhood reports, rain tallies, earnest young reporters in windbreakers, and a fresh batch of the perennial rain-day scenes: cars that misjudged the deep spots, up to their roofs in water, windshield wipers still swishing; poor suckers pushing stalled vehicles up to high ground; others staring dejectedly at their dead engines. Some kids had played hookie to go to Jazz Fest but flooded their rental car instead. One brazen pick-up driver speedily backed his truck into three feet of water, keeping the engine dry in its wake, and emerged safely on the other side. The news crew couldn't hide their admiration.

The weather cleared. Dinner was an impromptu affair with friends and leftover red beans from Monday. As the kids devolved into a Lord-of-the-Flies tribal society, we sipped and chatted on the balcony. The houses across the street turned luminous gold in that certain magic after-the-storm light my aunt calls La Lumiere du Sainte Esprit (Light of the Holy Spirit).* Sarah said, "Look at the clouds." They were Mammatus: rare, beautiful, pendulous formations that occur in turbulent weather. (I knew this from my recent forays into cloud-geekery.)

The children came and wowed, then returned to their savage rituals.

Eventually, calm night settled. Friends went home. Children went to bed.

The next day was clear, hot, and new.

* At least I have a recollection of her calling it that, and it doesn't seem like something I would make up, though I could only find one Google hit that matched the phrase, and it's talking about the communion of several children at a church in Cairo, Egypt and plays organ music and doesn't seem to have anything to do with brilliant rays of horizontal sunlight shining beneath a turbulent sky. Annou, can you confirm?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Good Night"

I like the use of "good night" not just as a nocturnal "good bye", the termination of a conversation, but as a standalone evening salutation:
"How y'all doin'?"

"Good night."
The intonation is different: instead of dropping to a flat close, the "night" draws out and lilts gently upward.

Another one for the gunnysack.

Ee I Ee I Oh

Here's a good article from my hometown paper, the Daily Progress, discussing the challenges faced today by old family farms including ours, Poplar Branch Farm.* As it quotes my father:
"The whole agriculture sector is facing a lot of challenges. There’s tremendous pressure to get out of farming."
It's true, keeping those old farms alive is a tough business. Take a gander.

* The print version also included nice big color photos of my parents schlepping around with sheep. I like having documented proof that they aren't just loafing their days away up there.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Such Bursts of Horrid Thunder

Speaking of lying to my child, there was another long-running bit of dis-information we maintained in Louise's wee years.

Louise doesn't much care for loud noises. When she was younger, she would sometimes ask me at bedtime if there was going to be thunder that night. I would assure her there wasn't.

One night she asked me how I knew there would be no thunder. I told her I was personally acquainted with the man who controlled thunder. She asked me his name. I said "Zeus". She asked me to make sure. I picked up the phone, "called" Zeus, had a polite little chit chat with him, and relayed Louise's request. He agreed. Louise was satisfied. She slept soundly.

And so it started. My little seed of untruth soon grew into a towering tree of deception. Each night she asked me to call him. Each night I called. She didn't like the loud trash trucks that clanged at four in the morning. Turns out Zeus the Almighty Truck Dispatcher controlled those too. No lightning and no trucks, please. Sometimes she wanted to talk to Zeus herself. Unfortunately he had pressing engagements and couldn't chat. This went on for a long time.

Eventually Louise's bedtime fear of thunder waned. (Now she's on to venomous tree frogs.) Zeus was forgotten. The phone calls stopped. But I think I sense their lingering traces. That girl is to this day undeniably pagan.

What lies do you tell your child?