Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Round-Up Lists I'd Like To See

  1. Most Egregious Monkey Misdemeanors of 2009
  2. Most Unsettling Pharmaceutical Ads of 2009
  3. Fruits and Vegetables That Most Resembled Famous People in 2009
  4. Most Exciting New Technologies That Rapidly Became Lame and Irritating in 2009
  5. Wackiest Panda Follies of 2009
  6. Most Outrageous Balloon Hoaxes of 2009
  7. Wackiest Financial Collapses of 2009
  8. Wildest Photographs Taken By Paparazzi of People Who They Thought Were Famous but Actually Turned Out Just to Be Random People Who Looked A Lot Like Those Famous People... of 2009
  9. Most Insipid Year-in-Review Round-Up Lists of 2009
And you?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Long live the Jheri curl. There's something to admire about a person sticking to his or her fashion guns and maintaining the same unwavering look year after year, decade after decade, regardless of the fickle vagaries of fashion. I saw this guy at the bus stop the other day, still sporting the Jheri curl, which he presumably adopted back when it was new and cool, on his now graying hair. (He also wore a rather snazzy old-school gold medallion.) Will the Jheri curl have a retro-renaissance like other 80s styles? Has it already returned to more fashion-forward corners of the country? (It's hard to imagine, but I couldn't imagine the return of the flat-top fade either.) I wanna know.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What are the rules of etiquette for a gentleman graced with two hats? Remove both upon entering a building? Only the top? And what about tipping the hats in greeting? (Are stocking caps exempt from tipping? Seems like an awkward business.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve was a muggy, rainy, squally mess, but late in the day, the skies cleared and this rainbow appeared, truly the most perfect rainbow I've ever seen. (Actually, the most perfect double rainbow I've ever seen; the second is faintly visible in the top right of the photograph.) I can only assume this is a sign from on high that, despite their loss to the Cowboys, the Saints will win the Superbowl. Merry Christmas, y'all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We made a gingerbread house. Sarah did the mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking; I did the construction; and the girls and I did the decoration. The more meticulous/persnickety elements—the roof, the trees—are mine. The more expressionistic elements—the walls, etc.—are theirs. (Sarah told me I'm a "Type A gingerbread house maker", which may be true, but I think a good kiddy-craft project is like a jazz composition: lay out a solid framework, and then let the participants express themselves fully within those parameters.) It was the first time we made one, but I'm rather pleased and suspect there will be more gingerbread houses in years to come.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cat by window

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Pussy Pussy Cat

Apparently Delilah got in a tangle with some other cat around the neighborhood, and she came home with a big swollen lump behind her left ear. We took her to the vet who said it was infected and filled with pus (yuck), but the vet cleaned it up, and Dee is on the mend. Except that sometimes the wound still oozes pus. (Yuck.)

Which brings us to today's linguistic conundrum. There's no way in conventional written English to distinguish between:
(1) "pussy cat", as in meow-meow-kitty puss-in-boots cat, as in [poos-ee-kat]
(2) "pussy cat", as in a cat with pus, as in [puhs-ee-kat] (as in yuck)*
What's a person with a pussy(2) pussy(1) cat (say that five times fast) to do?

* The dictionaries I looked at sidestepped the issue by ignoring this adjectival form of "pus" even though I believe most native English speakers would accept the phrase "a pussy wound" (
[puhs-ee]) as appropriate and meaningful (and yucky). The only adjectival variant I saw was "puslike", which of course has an entirely different meaning.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Les Nouveau Retro-Chapeauistes

The hat, of course, has revived. It's now quite common to see men, from dapper dons to scruffy bohemes, topping their domes with with a fedora, pork pie, bowler, or the like:*

This is well and good (though I myself have not joined the Hat Club, both for reasons of personal stylistic minimalism and because most commercially available toppers won't fit my massive noggin), but I do have one concern: I see many nouveau retro-chapeauistes wearing their hats indoors.** May I suggest that:
If we're going to bring back hats, let's also bring back the pleasantly particular manners and customs that go with them.
Going inside: hats off. Going outside: hats on.*** (And what about the tipping of the hat as a cordial greeting?) Simple and lovely, non?

* Drawing hats is surprisingly hard.

** The particular case that prompted this post occurred during last night's hilarious mayoral debate when Jerry Jacobs, the fringe pro-ganja-legalization candidate, wore his hat—a bowler
for the duration of the discussion. (Though honestly, he kind of made it work.)

*** I've spent a lot of time working around Navy guys (an enduring bastion of hat culture and etiquette), and I've seen them don their caps when leaving one building only to doff them again upon entering another building thirty feet away. Maybe it's ridiculous, but it's also kind of great.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Namely N'Awlins, Dawlin'

I propose a bit of socio-regional inquiry: I'd like to determine what is the most quintessentially New Orleans name. And let's use a loose Battle Royale methodology: start with a New Orleans-y name, see if we can find a more New Orleans-y name, repeat until we arrive at our answer (or get bored).* I'll kick it off with:
Hokie Gajan ("Guy-john", sort of, except with a Frenchier "j")**
the color commentator*** for the WWL Saints radio broadcast. Okay, what's next? Give me a New Orleans-y-er name than Hokie's.

For the moment, let's stick with actual names of actual people and see how it goes.

** One might object that, as stated in his Wiki-bio, Hokie's from around Baton Rouge, but it doesn't matter. New Orleans names and South Louisiana names flow into and out of each other.

*** "Color commentator"—that's new-ish lingo for me. (You know this Saints-fever is infectious if I'm making fine-grained distinctions between the roles of sports radio broadcasters.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dancin' the Deluge Away: Louise, June, and I went to the Father-Daughter Dance at their school on Saturday afternoon. It started with a gray skies and off-and-on rain, fancy dresses, tightly tied ties, almost-forgotten tickets and umbrellas, a dash into the cafeteria-turned-dance-hall, cookies and fruit punch, the Cupid Shuffle, posed pictures (as you can see), goofy girl group dancing, more Cupid Shuffle (really, they played it twice), more cookies and fruit punch. It ended with unremitting apocalyptic downpours, a mad dash in dress shoes and and stockings through shin-deep waters to my car shortly before it was swamped by a puddle-turned-lake, soaked suits and drenched dresses, labyrinthine white-knuckled navigations around and through pervasive profound block-by-block street flooding, and an eventual highly gratifying arrival home (with a hot bath for the chilled daughters and a generous bourbon for the frazzled father).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I feel that the existing batch of inter-slang acronyms—OMG (Oh My God), LOL (Laugh Out Loud), ROTFLMAO (Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off), AFAIK (As Far As I Know), etc.—has grown stale and inadequate (so late nineties), and I have therefore decided to create new ones. Henceforth, I shall intersperse my posts with the following shorthands:
  • OMGUT (Oh My Great Uncle's Teeth)
  • LSAM (Laugh Silently And Mirthlessly)
  • ROGSMTMN (Rolling On Grapes Snorting Milk Through My Nose)
  • FAOTFWASIMM (Flopping Around On The Floor With A Spoon In My Mouth)
  • AFAICAGTWALIAEOPQU (As Far As I Can Ascertain Given That We Are Living In An Era Of Post-Quantum Uncertainty)
Feel free to borrow them or add your own.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I seem to be in a musician-drawing mood. Perhaps we can view this as an inadvertent visual commentary on today's Saints-Redskins game: It ain't over until the (not) fat lady (with the towering coiffure) sings.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Day and Night

I played two "gigs" yesterday:
  1. A little before noon, just me and my acoustic guitar, for June's kindergarten class.* (The set list included Roger Miller's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd" and Huey Piano Smith's "Don't You Just Know It".**)
  2. A little before midnight, avec Les Brusiers, for a garage rock and burlesque extravaganza at a lesbian bar in the French Quarter.

* They'd been learning about musical instruments, so I asked them to name some different kinds of instruments. They mostly said things like violin, drums, tuba, etc., but one girl flummoxed me by answering "a Flying V guitar". Wow, there are some rock-savvy little tots out there.

** While Googling Roger Miller, I came across this absolutely hilarious clip of him on the Muppet Show, singing a medley backed by a chorus of chickens.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Confusing License Plate

A lot depends on the gender of the driver.

Coin-ism: "Flustrated"

flustered and frustrated
I didn't make this one up. A co-worker was using it the other day to describe her state of agitation. (And apparently she's not the only one.) It seems to get it just about right.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Time for another round: name/deal?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Saints Fever

Our city has officially gone black and gold crazy. I'd like to see an analysis of regional cell communications: How many times has "who dat" been texted or shouted into phone in the last twenty-four hours?

Who dat!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Dig 'Em": Another example of our curious local custom car vernacular. (I like to joke that Sarah should get her Subaru tricked out in a similar manner. But what brand would be appropriate for a Subaru Forester? A preferred variety of quinoa? Or an eco-conscious toilet paper?)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Turkey Lurkey." Yeah, I dunno. I generally feel compelled to draw some jokey little Thanksgiving doodle, and this is the best I could come up with this year. (You can't imagine the pressure!) Get it: he's a turkey; and he's lurking; hence, Turkey Lurkey. Who or what the heck is Turkey Lurkey anyway? It's just one of those phrases that embedded in my cultural consciousness. Oh yeah, that's right... Anyhoo, happy gobbling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Unified Theory of Sweet-and-Sour Cocktails

People often ask me, "Slim what's the meaning of life?" to which "I respond, I have no idea, but I will tell you my Unified Theory of Sweet-and-Sour Cocktails, which is almost as good and maybe even better." Are you ready? Behold the Grand Unified Ratio!
2 part booze

¾ parts sweet

¾ parts sour
Amazing, isn't it? Isn't it? Right...? Well, how about a little more detail.

So the world of cocktails is a quirky and heterogeneous place full of idiosyncratic measures, arcane terms, fanciful names, strange histories, regional quirks, emphatic dogmas, and ephemeral trends, but amidst this swirling multi-liquored and -hued booze-cacophony, there are some unifying themes. One of them: many, many, many drinks are composed of something boozy (which is to say, the liquor), something sweet (simple syrup or a sweet liqeur, apertif, or other mixer), and something sour (usually lemon juice or lime juice).* Examples:
  • Whiskey sour—bourbon, simple syrup, lemon juice
  • Gin gimlet—gin, simple syrup, lime juice
  • Vodka gimlet—vodka, simple syrup, lime juice
  • Margarita—tequila, cointreau or triple-sec, lime juice
  • Tom Collins—gin, simple syrup, lemon juice (plus soda water)
And so on and so on. (Really, take any combination of a liquor, a sweet, and a sour, and somebody's probably already mixed it up and given it a name.) And generally, these tripartite components can be combined in the something very close to the aforementioned Grand Unified Ratio to make a damn fine drink. Beautiful, non?

But parts? you say, what parts? (Parts is parts.) Now I shall reveal Slim's Secrets of Scalability:
1 drink: For a single cocktail, the part in question is one ounce, so by my reckoning our Grand Unified Cocktail works out to 2 oz booze, ¾ oz sweet, and ¾ oz sour. E.g. to make a sublime whiskey sour, combine 2 oz bourbon, ¾ oz simple syrup, and ¾ oz lemon juice in a rocks glass filled with ice, dump it all in a cocktail shaker, shake the bejeezus out of it, return the contents to the rocks glass, garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry, and serve. To make a sublime gin gimlet, combine 2 oz gin, ¾ oz simple syrup, and ¾ oz lime juice in a cocktail shaker full of ice, stir until frost forms on the outside, and strain the contents into a chilled up glass.

8 drinks: But what if we want to make drinks for a lot of people? (Or a lot of drinks for a few people?) Pitcher time!** To make a batch of eight (what I think of as a half-pitcher) use one cup as the part (1 cup = 8 oz; math, baby!), so that works out to: 2 cups booze, ¾ cups sweet, ¾ cups sour. Combine the ingredients in a pitcher without ice (ice in the pitcher will melt during the party and result in a diluted drink); then prepare each individual cocktail by pouring out one drink's worth (3½ oz, if you're measuring) of the mixture into the rocks glass/shaker/etc. and proceed as you normally would for a single drink.

16 drinks: To get a right good party going, concoct sixteen drinks (a full pitcher) using two cups as the part (2 cups = 16 oz; math, baby!), which multiplies out to: 4 cups booze, 1½ cups sweet, 1½ cups sour. (Yes, I realize that using two cups as one part might seem a bit confusing, but hey, what's a cocktail party without a bit of esoteric math?)
Voila! So just one last factor to discuss, the Rules of Deviation. Perhaps you're asking, how can this one ratio account for all of the complex variables of real-world drinkery? The answer is: it can't. The Grand Unified Ratio can and should be adjusted to account for two specific factors:
Variations in the particular ingredients: The above ratio assumes the "sweet" we're using is standard half-and-half simple syrup.*** But maybe the sweet you're using isn't as sweet. (That's a weird sentence.) Use more. If it's sweeter, use less. The first time you mix a particular combination, you'll have to experiment, but next time, you'll know what adjustments to make and be all set. (Note: I rarely vary anything but the sweet. Generally, booze is booze, and sour is sour.)

Personal preference: The above ratio yields a nicely balanced "middle of the road" drink (though what I call "middle of the road" is drier than what you'll find at most bars, which usually use nasty over-sweet pre-concocted mixers). But My Lady prefers a drier drink ("dry" in mixological parlance usually just means "less sweet"****), so I'll reduce to a ½ oz sweet for her. And I have guests of long acquaintance who I know like a sweet drink: I'll adjust to 1 oz or more of sweet for them.
And so there it is, the Unified Theory of Sweet-and-Sour Cocktails! It really is rather lovely, isn't it? (And just in time for the holidays.) Happy mixing!

Questions? Comments? Refutations?

* And then there is a whole addendum of what I'll call Embellished Sweet-and-Sour Cocktails, which take this basic trinity and add fourth and perhaps fifth elements.

** A word of caution: Before making a whole big pitcher of drinks, it's a really good idea to make a single drink with the intended proportions to see if you like it or if it requires tweaking. And it's a good idea to have a bit extra of everything on hand for a final fine-tuning of the batch. That way, you aren't frantically dashing off to the store five minutes before guests arrive to buy more booze or limes or whatever it is that you need to make the evening's beverage palatable. (Plus, you get to sip on your trial-run bevvy while whisking around doing last minute host-type things.)

*** I've described my method for making simple syrup before, but it's worth repeating: "Combine equal parts sugar and boiling water in a sealable container (a rinsed-out wine bottle with a cork does nicely). Close and shake vigorously until the sugar is completely dissolved. (It's not a bad idea to wrap the container in a kitchen towel first so you don't burn your hands. You'll need them later to hold that delicious drink you're making.) Use as much as you need. Refrigerate the rest for later; it will last a long time."

**** Usually, though not always. In the case of martinis, it means less vermouth. (Like I said: "arcane terms".)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Okay, so what's his deal? He's got a bit of a craggy detective à la Colombo thing going on, but then what the heck is he wearing? Is that some sort of pilgrim rain gear? (I drew it so presumably I ought to know, but I have no clue.)

The Funniest Cat Name I've Heard in a While

Because he's blind... and he bumps into stuff. (Sorry, I thought it was funny. Does that make me evil?)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Okay, what's their deal?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clippity Cloppity

What technical, ethical, and legal obstacles must be overcome before we can shod our children horse-style? May I suggest that we resolve them promptly?*

* Sadly, they don't exist, but if they did, I'd pay good money for the services of a shoe-nanny: Just come in the morning, convince my children to don a practical and matching pair of shoes in a timely fashion; then come back later and convince them, upon taking off their shoes, to place them in the shoe bin (not on the stairs or the kitchen table or in the toaster or wherever they usually seem to wind up.).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why It's No Fun Playing "20 Questions" With a Platonic Idealist*

"Animal, vegetable, or mineral?"
"None of the above."
"What do you mean, 'None of the above'?"
"I mean 'None of the above.'"
"It's got to be one of the above. It's got to be something real."
"It is real, and it's none of the above."
"That's impossible."
"It most certainly is possible."
"... I give up. What is it?"
"The number six."
"It can't be the number six. It's got to be something that exists."
"The number six does exist."
"Never mind. It can't be a number, okay?"
"Have you got something that's not a number?"
"Animal, vegetable, or mineral?"
"None of the above."
"Ergh! No numbers!"
"It's not a number."
"I give up..."
"It's the concept of virtue."
"Shall we play again?"
"It's got to be something physical!"
"I understand. I'm ready."
"Animal... vegetable... or mineral...?"
"None of the above."
"A perfect vacuum."**
Har! (Yes, I realize this post is profoundly nerdy and hopelessly oblique and almost certainly only funny to me, but oh well, you get what you pay for.)

* Wick E. Pedia says...

** I suppose one might argue that a perfect vacuum is not a physical thing but is the absence of all physical things, but I'll contend that it is "something physical" in the sense that it's defined exclusively by physical properties. Whatever. My head is starting to hurt.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Funeral tribute: "MA DEAR"

The aftermath

Friday, November 13, 2009

Red sky at night

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Comic? Certainly. Ironic? I think not. (Are five-year-olds even capable of irony? I doubt it. I imagine in-depth ironological investigations would indicate that irony is a higher-order concept, the capacity for which doesn't develop until sometime around adolescence. But what do I know?)

"In West Philadelphia Born and Raised..."

The other morning at breakfast, out of nowhere, June absentmindedly launched into a pitch-perfect correctly phrased and intoned recitation of the theme song from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air":
"In West Philadelphia born and raised,
On the playground was where I spent most of my days.
Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool,
And all shootin' some b-ball outside of the school..."
It was just about one of the funniest things I've ever heard, and Sarah and I both nearly snorted our coffee out our noses in surprise and laughter.* (Fortunately, we were able to restrain the impulse, because I suspect snorting hot coffee through the nose is an unpleasant experience.) Oh, Lord.

* In addition to being very amused, we were also very confused. To our knowledge, June had never seen a "Fresh Prince" rerun, but June explained that they'd been learning it from a young assistant teacher at school as they waited in line each day for the cafeteria. Glad they're getting a well-rounded education.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Les Brusiers, Circle Bar, Friday the 13th

So we're like, hey, Circle Bar, we're feeling kind of spooky, so can you give us some spooky shows, and they're like, okay, how about Halloween, and we're like, yeah, okay, that's pretty spooky, we'll take it, but have you got any other spooky shows, and they're like, how about Friday the 13th, and we're like, excellent, that's totally spooky, we'll take that too, and they're like, cool, and we're like, cool, and it was pretty cool.

See you there. Cool.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Hurricane warnings and school closures—huh. We're plenty to used to hurricanes or the threat of them disrupting the flow of daily life around here, but that's usually a summer/early fall kind of thing. Sure, Ida's been steadily marching across the Gulf for a couple of days now, giving us ample warning; sure, there are technically three weeks left in hurricane season; but seriously?*

But at present, Ida's looking like a scattered wayward sort of affair, so we'll sit back, hope/plan for the best, enjoy the lagniappe stay-home day, and have ourselves a little hurricane feast (which Sarah started contemplating the moment we got the news this morning, and which she had fully planned out by 7:45 a.m.). Mmm, hurricane feast...

* Plus, we've all been so busy ironing our Saints jerseys and pondering what mysterious reallignment of the universe's energies could have graced us with an 8-0 season start, who's had time to think about anything else?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"To: Miss Toothfairy"

Ah, the minds of children: mysterious and endlessly entertaining. Louise recently lost a front tooth, and we put it in an envelope to go under her pillow. Louise decided to decorate the envelope—like such:

The front of the envelope "To: Miss Toothfairy from: Louise Olivier Date: 11-3-09". (The middle figure is obviously the tooth fairy triumphantly holding a tooth. I'm not quite sure what the deal is with the two giant disembodied heads on the horizon.)

And the back, with a label, "Tooth stuff" (presumably for ease of filing; I imagine the tooth fairy has a very large "Tooth Stuff" section in her file cabinet), and a sort of crest/seal containing the statement, "My tooth is very small" (which it was).


Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I was at the grocery store yesterday, and a bearded, ponytailed, middle-aged man in a fedora and vest stopped an employee to ask, "Is there such a thing as sauerkraut?" I wanted to interrupt and say two things:
  1. Yes! Yes there is! And it's the most wonderful food in the world!
  2. You've clearly spent a good six decades or so living on this planet; I judge from your accent that you are a native English speaker;* and though your beard-ponytail-fedora-vest combo might be judged mildly eccentric, you don't appear obviously demented and show no signs of having just emerged form a half-century-long coma: How can you not know what sauerkraut is or if it even exists? What sauerkraut-less rock did you just crawl out from under?!**
But maybe that's just my sauerkraut-centric prejudices talking, and there are wide swaths of the populace that don't know the glories of "rotten cabbage". Poor dears, what other sublimely salted and soured members of the vegetable kingdom are they ignorant of? ("Excuse me, is there such a thing as a pickle?") Bless their hearts.

* Not that "sauerkraut" is English, but you know what I mean.

** His sartorial choices had a sort of Euro-Gypsy vibe and gave the impression that, if anything, he should be more sauerkraut-savvy than the average consumer.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Our lovely Audubon Zoo resides in our lovely Audubon Park, and one of the curious consequences is that one can be traipsing around with kids on some mild Saturday, doing park-ish things, and can spot, over some unassuming fence, a wayward giraffe stealing illicit nibbles of some almost-nearly-beyond-reach vegetable delectables.

Monday, November 02, 2009


I woke up today with those terrible name puns from the closing credits of Car Talk—you know, "Russian chauffeur: Picov Andropov..., Head of Working Mother Support Group: Erasmus B. Dragon...,"* etc., etc.—running through my head on continuous loop. What the hell is that about?

* Or whatever. Shouldn't it be "Picop Andropov"? That's how and I remember it and that would make more sense, but I've listed it above as it appears on their web site. Dunno. Don't care. Just want it out of my head.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hog lot field, Poplar Branch Farm


Happy concentric circle shoe dance

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Breathe... Breathe..."

A bunch of our friends just had babies,* and more than one used a doula. I'm inspired and have decided to hang up my shingle as a:
  1. A doula for dudes.
I'll help freaked out newbie dads develop their personal birth plan and provide emotional and physical support during the birth process: "Okay, don't forget to breathe. Breathe... Breathe... Very good. Now remember your birth plan: contractions every five minutes, time for your second double martini. Easy, okay... Don't forget the olive. You need your electrolytes. No, no, don't pass out. Now smile and tell her she looks radiant. You're doing great..."

* Yay! Go babies!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Return of Les Living Brusiers: Pumpkin Rock!

Les Brusiers return from the dead—or more precisely, from a lengthy hiatus (various life journeys: living, loving, learning, etc., etc.)—for an ultra-spooky* Halloween Spooktacular at the Circle Bar this Saturday. See you there.

Pumpkin rock!

* Well, as spooky as loose and dirty garage-country played by enthusiastic goofballs can possibly be.


Recently, on something-close-to-a-whim,* Sarah and I switched designated sides of the bed. And I don't mean like just for a few minutes or just for an evening. I mean like permanently. Like I used to be on the near side and she used to be on the far side, but now it's vice versa, and like we took all the stuff from my nightstand and put it in her nightstand and took all the stuff from her nightstand and put it in my nightstand, and it's a done deal.

How often does this happen? How often do couples switch sides, not because of some external circumstance—moving to a new house where the room is arranged differently, or now there's a baby and mama's got to be near the crib, or what have you—but just plain old because because? I suspect, if anyone actually bothered to collect the data (which I don't know why they would, but...), the answer would be: not very often.** Sounds like there's a thesis in Spouse-ological Studies waiting to be written.

* Full disclosure: I initiated the switch. As the aesthetic dogmatist in our house, I tend to have way more opinions than Sarah about what and who should go where and why, and I've always quietly coveted her side: it's close to the balcony, better light, further from the closet and the armoire (both of which give off a subtly unpleasant crammed vibe), further from the door, more in the room. And then I learned that, though Sarah really doesn't particularly care, she found my side slightly preferable: closer to the door, closer to the closet and armoire, further from draft that blows under the balcony door in chilly weather. And so, well then, hey! It's a beautiful thing.

** Though maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are couples out there who regularly swap sides as the mood suits them. Maybe there are couples who don't even have designated sides (though I find this hard to imagine). I dunno. You tell me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cute smile and everything, but I swear they used a Bumpit on my child. (Warning: That link plays the genuine as-seen-on-TV incredibly irritating ad, so think twice if you're at work.)

"Pads on Ice Cream"

I was playing with some musicians the other night, not earnest amateurs like myself, cobbling together scant scraps of knowledge into some elemental semblance of a musical construct, but genuine semi-professional and professional hepcat gigging musicians, the kind who travel places to play in front of large groups of people and quite convincingly fake it on songs they've never rehearsed before and casually talk about the octave on top of the dominant five and whatnot. The keyboard player wanted to know how his part went, and the saxophone player told him to just play "pads on ice cream".

I had to ask, "Did you just say 'pads on ice cream'?" Indeed he did:
pads = big fat chords played on the 1 beat and sustained for the duration of the measure (or something like that)

ice cream = that classic doo-wop 1, 6, 4, 5 chord progression ("At least that's what we called it on the East Coast," he explained)
Whodathunk? I want to say stuff like that, "Just lay down some pads on ice cream, daddy-o". Maybe I'll just make up my own slang: "Gimme some couplets on gravy." "Throw down some backbeats on butter." "Try it with some quarter notes on quinoa." They'll be like, man that guy is far out, he must really know his stuff.


Thursday, October 22, 2009


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I second that emotion.

On the Goat Walk*

Today I saw a well dressed and by all appearances sane man walking a goat on a leash down Esplanade Ave.:

The man was carrying some hay and what I took to be an industrial strength poop bag. The goat didn't seem particularly inclined to cooperate, clearly preferring to dawdle and munch grass, and the man had to give it a rather stern nudge with his knee to get it moving again. It takes all sorts.

* Complicated self-reference.

Note: I believe this fulfills my long neglected obligation to provide a photograph of a "colorful freak".

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!

Returning from my school to my work today, without even trying, I practically ran into the Presidential motorcade. I work a stones throw from where they held today's town hall meeting, and when I found my usual route barricaded and thronged with police and onlookers, I detoured into the quiet nearby neighborhoods of Gentilly. But discovering that all possible alternative routes also barricaded, I finally gave up and waited it out, almost all by my lonesome—just me and the police officer manning the barricade and two old ladies with a video camera on a nearby stoop. And then zoom! zoom! zoom!—a whole bunch of black SUVs with pitch black windows and police motorcycles and all sorts of auxiliary vehicles with all sorts of flashing lights all moving at a fearsome clip. And then they were gone.

I was pleased.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wildflowers, Grayton Beach


It seems the girls have inherited my beatboxing tick (or "beat-dead-horse-boxing", if you prefer).* And when the three of us get going simultaneously (but not quite synchronously), sputtering and clicking beats of our own amateurish devising, let me tell you, Sarah just absolutely loves it. (Especially in the car. Sarah just loves family beatboxing in a small confined space.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Louise and June, back from the beach

Friday, October 09, 2009


Usually my car smells just fine (thank you very much), but periodically (once a week, let's say), I get in and it smells very strongly of vinegar. What's up with that?*

* In the absence of an alternate explanation, I'm forced to assume that a lockpicking hobo is breaking in at night to eat his salt and vinegar potato chips in comfortable seclusion of my vehicle. Mr. Hobo, I am not amused.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Bob Dylan meets Eraserhead (meets Kid 'n Play)?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ironic Inventory

We've focused on ironic mustaches in great detail (and more recently touched on ironic eye wear), but these are just a few select genres in a broader pantheon of ironic accoutrements. Might I suggest that we assemble an Ironic Inventory, a comprehensive taxonomy of ironic accessorizing? (And we'll assemble a Human Genome Project-style data bank of ironic stylings, and then we can publish a scholarly journal, Ironic Stylings Quarterly, and then we can publish a popular weekly, Irony Today, and it'll be beautiful, man, beautiful.)

Particularly choice ironic stylings witnessed recently:
  • A guy in full-on ironic 70s rock/groove-wear: long center-parted hair, knit headband, a knittish pilly textured (forgive me fashionistas—I'm fabric terminology deficient) short-sleeved over-tight v-necked sweater with horizontal stripes of orange, brown, and cream; worn with way way way too tight matching cream-colored jeans that revealed way way way too much about the ironist's man-business.
  • Ironic quail pants—you know, those khakis with the little embroidered quail or pheasants or grouses or whatever. (Having attended an Episcopalian prep school in central Virginia in the 80s, I had way way way too much exposure to these and similar ultra-preppy trends in their original entirely sincere form, and I find their modern day tongue-in-cheek reappropriation really really really weird.)
  • A guy with an ironic mustache actually wearing an ironic "Free Mustache Rides" t-shirt. (I don't make this stuff up out of thin air.)
  • And much much much more that sadly escapes my recollection at the moment. (I'll have to take better notes.)
What have you got? Share your sightings.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tizzy Tuesday: A Vegetable By Any Other Name...

Those close to me know that if they want to send me into a logico-linguistic tizzy, they can just say:
"Did you know a tomato is really a fruit, not a vegetable?"
Let's proclaim this Tizzy Tuesday, get all righteous and indignant, and lay this half-truth (/half-falsehood) to rest once and for all.

This Messy Mush of Muddled Meanings is, I assert, based on an erroneous conflation of two distinct uses of the word "fruit":
  1. Culinary: An edible plant product, usually sweet (though perhaps not necessarily so), that by convention, for cooking and eating purposes, is called a fruit.*
  2. Biological: "The ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant, together with accessory parts, containing the seeds and occurring in a wide variety of forms."
Culinary fruits and culinary vegetables** are disjoint sets: there are no items that belong to both; so it's fair to say that "An apple is a culinary fruit, not a culinary vegetable," or "A tomato is a culinary vegetable, not a culinary fruit." But culinary vegetables and biological fruits are overlapping sets: an item can belong to one, the other, or both; so it's fair to say that "A tomato is a biological fruit and a culinary vegetable." Let's get Venny with it:

Note: This diagram indicates that culinary fruits are a subset of biological fruits—that if an item is a culinary fruit it is also necessarily a biological fruit—which I believe is the case. Can anyone think of a counterexample, a culinary fruit that is not a biological fruit? (No, not bananas. Bananas have itty-bitty little seeds.)

With our newly enlightened perspective, let's nitpick the initial tizzy-inducing statement to pieces:
First assertion: "a tomato is actually a fruit". Ambiguous—true in the biological sense; false in the culinary sense.

Second assertion: "a tomato is not a vegetable". False—vegetable soup with tomatoes? yum! fruit cake with tomatoes? blech!
Messy Muddled Mush of Meanings resolved. Statement debunked. Righteous indignation vented. (Whew! Thanks, I'm all better now.)

Feel free to trot out this little gem during smalltalk at your next cocktail party. And don't forget the Venn diagrams. (And don't worry about the eye rolls, yawns, and derisive snorts. They're just jealous of your logico-linguistic savvy.)

* Yeah, this definition sounds a bit tautological: "It's a fruit if it's called a fruit," but isn't that really how it works? It's a (culinary) fruit if, by historical linguistic and culinary convention, we say it is. I can think of loose amalgamations of traits that tend to distinguish (culinary) fruits and vegetables (sweet vs. savory, etc.), but I can't think of any bright line distinction based on inherent qualities that unambiguously distinguishes the two. (As opposed to the biological definition of a fruit which is much more explicit: it's either a ripened ovary of a seed bearing plant, together with accessory parts, containing the seeds and occurring in a wide variety of forms; or it ain't.)

** Really, "culinary vegetable" is probably redundant since "vegetable", as best as I can figure, is a strictly culinary term and has no biological or other non-culinary usage; but I'll keep the qualifier in the interest of
clarity and symmetry.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pines and hands, Grayton Beach

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Wildflowers, Grayton Beach

Friday, October 02, 2009

Wildflowers, Grayton Beach

Thursday, October 01, 2009

June with brightly colored beach toys

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Secrets of the Four Eyes Revealed!

My "Four Eyes" post has raised a slew of requests/inquiries:
  • A new profile picture and/or an illustration
  • What's the deal? Near or farsighted?
  • A photograph
  • Details of the selection process
  • Are the glasses ironic?
And in the interest of full, ahem, transparency (does that even qualify as a pun? a bit thin), I'm happy to oblige:

A new profile picture and/or an illustration

Check! Top right. Brand spanking new. (I was getting bored with the old one anyway.)

What's the deal? Near or farsighted?

Drum roll! Farsighted (a term whose meaning was fuzzy to me until I learned that my vision was fuzzy due to it). The glasses are for reading and working on the computer, and I do quite a lot of the latter: by day, as a 9th Level Geek Lord, writing code-sonnets for the teeny bit-monkeys, or peering over coworkers shoulders saying things like "Your byte-vortex is set to autofrag? Of course you're data-dysphoric!"; by night, as a no-holds-barred blogger-reporter, hunched over my laptop-of-fury, pounding out riveting exposés on the decline of the muumuu. (As for the rear view mirror, during the first couple of days, the glasses were a novelty, and I wore them in all sorts of situations where they served no legitimate practical purpose: "I wonder what it's like to wear glasses here. I wonder what it's like to wear glasses here..."*)

A photograph


Do they pass muster? (Do they pass the mustard?)

Details of the selection process

Well shucks, I just grabbed the first pair at hand and said, "I'll take these, please. Any old thing is good by me." Okay, maybe not. (Am I really so predictable? Eesh!) Yes, the selection was carefully weighed. For reasons that are now unclear to me, I had my eye exam in a strip mall in Harahan, and afterward, I wandered through the store thinking "Gaw, there's not a single pair of glasses here I would wear," (the teeny architect-ish rectangle things that are so popular now make my already giant noggin look positively elephantoid), but my long-time four-eyed wife steered me to a vendor with a more sympathetic aesthetic where I found a suitable pair, happily achieving the subtly,-not-excessively,-retro-50s/60s-NASA-engineer-chic I was going for. (Or if you prefer, retro-50s/60s-newsroom-chic.** I've already had more than one comment about looking like I'm about to turn into Superman—which at least means I've got my Halloween costume in the bag.)

Are the glasses ironic?

I like to think not. Though retro can be ironic, I contend that it musn't necessarily be so. (In the Venn diagram, the Retro and Ironic circles would overlap, not coextend.) But maybe I'll get myself a big pair of honkin'-ugly 80s-woodshop-teacher-style specs for when I feel like busting out the retro/ironic big guns. And I'll grow a cheesy mustache to go with them.

That's all for now, but stay tuned for more exhaustively detailed minutiae of my new life with glasses here on Slim's Wild World of Eye Wear!

* Veteran four-eyes-ers all have nuanced, highly developed eyeglass rituals: put the glasses on the bedside table at night, put them on in the morning, wear them while making breakfast, set them next to the toothpaste while showering, in the shirt pocket to work, on for the rest of the morning—only taking them off only to gesture with or absentmindedly chew on—back in the shirt pocket for lunch..." I'm still working all that out.

** Or if you prefer, dork-chic. My students notice even the subtlest stylistic deviation or misstep, and they found the new look hilarious.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Do Not Walk on Dunes", Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

Friday, September 25, 2009

Four Eyes

For most of my life to date, I've had the good fortune to have well-shaped and highly functional eyeballs, but recently I found myself muttering grumpy-old-mannish things along the lines of "Godammit! Why do they have to make the print so small?" and I began to wonder if the gig was up. It has proven so, and at last I've joined the club of the four-eyes.

As a newcomer, I've got to say, it's a weird business, a crazy crash course in how the brain processes visual signals. Because thus far when I'm wearing my new glasses, it doesn't process them particularly well. The new visual stimuli are definitely sharper, but they're also oddly reconfigured and shift slightly when I move my head and just generally don't quite match up with my Internal Sense of How the World Is Shaped.

So I keep thinking the ground is way closer than it used to be and have to try to hard not to walk with a weird clippity-cloppity horsey gait, repeatedly expecting my foot to land long before it actually does (like when you walk up the stairs at night in the dark and miscount the steps and flub the last one and clunk awkwardly down on the landing).

And then there's the aesthetic strangeness. Glasses usually belong to the Class of External Things That Become Assimilated Into and Identified With the Self, but I'm not quite there yet, and in the transitional interim they belong to the Class of External Things That... Whoah! What the Hell Is That Doing on My Face? I find myself getting startled by my own reflection: "Whoah! Who the hell is that sitting in my car in my driver's seat exactly right where I'm sitting right now?" And I catch my wife and daughters shooting me quizzical sideways glances, clearly pondering their own formulations of the "Whoah! Who the hell is that...?" question.

But presumably, with time, my brain will work out the kinks in the spatial mapping, and my face will make friends with its new acquaintance, and I'll stop clippity-clopping, and I'll stop being startled by mirrors, and my family will decide that I'm not an impostor, and I'll learn to appreciate my new ability to elude fights with bullies by saying, "You wouldn't hit a man with glasses, would you?" and all will be right-as-rain.

Weird business.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Miscellaneous Photographs of Not Much: "'Good Old Fashion' Service"

Miscellaneous Photographs of Not Much

Our motto here at Slimbo's Fun Factory is "When you run out of things to post, just lower your standards," so this week we're starting an exciting new series called Miscellaneous Photographs of Not Much in which I post the dusty dregs from my Bin of Photographs That For Whatever Reason Please Me Even Though They Have No Obvious Narrative Significance and in Most Cases Can Barely Even Be Said To Be of Anything (Except in the Trivial and Obvious Sense in Which All Photographs Are of Something). And all for the low low price of absolutely nothing (which means you can't complain). Whoo!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sarah and blue house

Itchy Bitchy Spider

June was enumerating the books she can "read".* In her enumerations, she included "Itchy Bitchy Spider". For a micro-second I was startled, perhaps even outraged, for though "Itchy Bitchy Spider" might be an excellent book in its own right, it hardly seems like appropriate reading material for a five-year-old.

Then the parsing-context-clues-and-assembling-plausible-meanings part of my brain caught up with the turning-raw-sounds-into-elemental-strings-of-words part, and it occurred to me that June probably meant "Itsy Bitsy Spider", and I could throw the shocked-letter-to-the-teacher I was mentally composing into the mental trash can.

But still, it made me curious, how would that go?
"The itchy bitchy spider crawled up..."
* "Read" here is being used in the expansive sense often employed by pre-literate children, meaning "recite from memory while looking at the book and turning the pages, creating an external semblance of what is more conventionally considered to be 'actual' reading".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Head shop owner? Wood shop teacher? Former roadie for Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young? 3 p.m. barfly? Post-Transcendentalist poet? Suede aficionado? All of the above?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Genuine Conversations with Little People: Minty Fresh Edition

"Does my breath sound good?" Exhales in my face.

Inhaling, "Yes, yes it does."

Proudly, "That's because I used the new mint toothpaste."
Some mistakes are too funny to correct. And I think there's relatively little chance of June going through life confusing "sound" and "smell". (Unless this is an early indicator of one of those exotic Oliver Sacks-ian brain disorders. Hmm.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009