Sunday, May 31, 2009

Guess the Ironic Mustache

New week, new game. This week's game: "Guess the Ironic Mustache". It goes like this:
  1. I present a drawing of a man with a mustache.
  2. You guess: is it ironic or not? (Is it a knowing winking cultural reference or is it just some hair on the upper lip?)
  3. Once the guesses are tallied, I reveal the correct answer (along with a bit of back-story for good measure).
  4. We laugh. We cry. We smack our foreheads.
  5. We do it all over again. (The challenges increase in difficulty each round.)
  6. The contestant with the most correct answers wins a Deluxe Beard & Mustache Grooming Kit and an ironic "Free Mustache Rides" t-shirt.*
First mustache:
Is it:
a) ironic

b) not ironic
Submit your answer.

* As opposed to a non-ironic "Free Mustache Rides" t-shirt. (It's all in the choice of font.)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Louise, back balcony

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When Termites Attack

The termites are swarming tonight, a (less than charming) annual ritual in which the little beasts take flight, thicken the air, and descend Biblical plague-like on a given neighborhood; and we turn out all the lights (for real) and hope that, in the great wood-structure buffet of New Orleans, somebody else's house looks more appetizing than ours; and eventually they settle where they'll settle and burrow where they'll burrow and leave behind nothing but a trail of shimmery papery cast-off wings and expensive pest-control bills.

I made the mistake of trying to enjoy the night air on our balcony. One flew in my ear. Good thing I ain't made of wood.

Book/Glow Worm

As previously lamented, both my wife and elder daughter are exceedingly voracious readers.* Sarah recounts, as a child, often staying up wickedly late reading by flashlight. And just now, I caught Louise, secreted under her covers, reading by the glow of a light-up Muses ring.**

Sneaky little thing.

* When Louise gets in trouble at school, it's usually for reading when she shouldn't.

** The Muses ring—gotta love it. Another for our series, "That's So Louisiana", or rather, its more specific spin-off, "That's So N'Awlins, Darlin'".

Monday, May 25, 2009

Telephone, Telegraph, Graph Paper, Bell Curve, Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath, Death!

Another from the "Overthunk Idears That Will Probably Go Nowhere" file:

Free association is a well known psychoanalytic tool. Telephone* is a well known party game. Let's blend them into a silly communal bloggy game used to while away the precious minutes of our lives.

It will go something like this:
  1. I will give the first word.
  2. The initial respondent will read it and then (free-associatively) write the first word that pops into his or her head in the comments section.
  3. The next respondent will read that word and then (free-associatively) write the first word that pops into his or her head in the comments section.
  4. And so on...
The shenanigans will continue until we grow bored or until we use up all the words in the English language, whichever comes first. We will then gasp in mutual horror at our collective psychosis.

And now we start with:

* Until I'd read that Wikipedia entry, I'd never heard of its alternate names: Chinese Whispers or Arab Phone. (That last one sounds like it's going to get you placed on some Cheney-decreed black-ops watch list.) Had You?

** Would you expect me to choose anything else?

*** That's the phrase—if my memory hasn't gone all jumbley on me—that my grandfather would proclaim immediately after saying grace: "We attack!", more or less a Francophonic "Dig in!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Giant inverted root beer. (The giant root beer used to reside, in an upright position, on the roof of the Frostop, but during The Storm it took a tumble, and now they've memorialized its fallen state.)

Celebrities, Where Y'at? James Caville Edition

Since James Carville has taken up residence in our life-is-not-always-fair city, I spot him with some regularity, usually as he's jogging intensely around the park. With his bald head, severe features, and Terminator-esque exer-sunglasses, he looks like he'd be a more than fair match for Malcolm Gladwell in a game of Future Ball.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Scowl, milkshake, condiments, and feet

No Writing, No Numbers

When we moved to England, I went to the working-class neighborhood grammar school. It didn't have the hoity uniforms of the public/private/whatever-you-call-them schools, but there were, nonetheless, "understandings" of what one was supposed to wear—some codified, many not. And my end-of-the-seventies scruffy American eight-year-old non-chic did not accord with these "understandings". And my scruffy American eight-year-old non-chic brain did not understand these "understandings". So I wore my prized Dallas Cowboys jersey to school—a lot—like almost every day.*

This presented a conundrum for the administration: there was no rule explicitly forbidding it, yet this behavior certainly could not continue. So they made a new rule:
No shirts with writing or numbers.
And so, my New World individualistic spirit was quashed. I never again wore my Dallas Cowboys jersey to school but relented to their post-imperialistic peevishness and fell in knicker-clad line. But I vowed, some day my crass American freedom flag would fly again. And so it did. And so it does.

(Well, actually, maybe not. In my adult life, I tend to favor shirts without writing or numbers. Did I internalize their stricture?)

* Yes, even as a child, I was prone to extreme repetition in my attire. (As a wee lad, I had a blue baseball cap with a yellow chick on the front that I deeply, deeply loved. My mom finally had to hide it from me because I wore it so relentlessly it risked fusing to my scalp.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hooded house, Jefferson Ave.

Summer Rains

I love my garden, but I love it best when it doesn't require much of me. And lately it's been giving me the dry-eye, all passive aggressive-like, turning brown just to make me feel bad. So I'm glad the summer rains are here, doing the hard work, letting me sit back and watch the lushness take care of itself.

Plus the dark brooding skies are rather lovely.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Etch-a-Jurist: corn-rowed stern-faced bull-chick

In Duplicate

It's always confusing that when you see somebody around town for years, and then one day you see that person in duplicate, and the duplicates are sitting across the table from each other, chatting with sibling familiarity, and the brain goes: Huh? Pause. Oh. Pause. Right? Pause. Oh.

It's happened before.

Field trip, City Park

[Blink] [Blink] Wow

Time for another edition of "Celebrities, Where Y'at!"

I saw Malcolm Gladwell at the coffice the other day. The realization process went something like this:
Wow, look at that guy. He's got really weird hair. His hair's kind of like Malcolm Gladwell's. Wait, is that Malcolm Gladwell? No, this guy's hair is too weird. Wait, what are those people saying to him? They're asking him if he's Malcolm Gladwell? And he's saying yes? [Blink] [Blink] Wow, his hair is even weirder in person. [Blink] And his shoes are kind of weird too.* [Blink] [Blink]**
You know you're serious New Yorker geek if you get vaguely twitter-a-fied about Malcolm Gladwell.

* They were shiny metallic nouveau high tops—less high-brow literary-ish, more "I have just leapt here from the future and will now show you how to play Future Ball!"

** Get it? Har!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Field trip, Carondelet and Canal streetcar stop

Trend Spot: Big Man, Little Dog

It's an increasingly common sight in my neighborhood to see big men—large tough men, the sort you'd wager on in a bar fight—walking little froofy dogs. I'm well aware that pocket-pooches have fully saturated the world of Paris Hilton wannabes, but I confess, I'm surprised to see it trickle down to burly, callous-handed builders and mechanics. It's quite funny. And rather sweet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You Little Punk

It's quite common at Louise's school to see young boys—as young as second grade—decked out in t-shirts emblazoned with the names and logos of vintage punk bands: the Ramones,* the Clash, Black Flag, etc. Back in my day,** as the lone Possum Holler punk, these bands were serious outsider-weirdo business (at least in Schuyler, Virginia, Home of the Waltons), but clearly the times have changed. Skater-surf-rock-punk-chic has been fully assimilated and repackaged for new teen, tween, and pre-tween generations. Pot-bellied dads can now proudly tossle their kid's hair and say, "Cool shirt. Did I tell you about the time I blew out my eardrums at CBGBs...?"***

But I wonder, is it just the shirts and the accoutrements? Or are those second graders actually listening to all that stuff? Some new wave, some pop-punk, a bit of hardcore (or their fifth-generation re-imaginings)—sure. But Henry Rollins and his truly terrifying existential screams? I just can't quite imagine it.****

* We were watching that Ramones documentary tonight. (Wow, by the way.) Those jeans—where did they keep their keys?

** Back in my day we walked ten miles to punk shows. In the snow. Barefoot!

*** At which point the punked-out whippersnapper can roll his eyes and mutter, "Yeah, like a thousand times, Dad."

**** Though, on second thought, bone-shaking visceral howls might actually be the perfect music for an eight-year-old boy.

Loopty Croup

June has croup,* and we just gave her the one-time dose of steroids to knock it out. Our doctor warned us that the steroids will essentially act the same as speed, and I'm a little worried what a five-year-old on uppers is going to look like:
"Oh, man, I have so many great ideas. I think I'll alphabetize my book case. Alright... 'a', 'a', 'a', okay... Now the 'b's—'b', 'b'... What's next? Oh, we just learned this the other day... um-um-um... 'c'! Great! What's a 'c' look like? Damn, I wish I knew my alphabet. Alright, forget that. Finger painting! Cool. Okay, here we go. Here we go. Okay. Why am I painting with just one finger? That's so inefficient. If I used all ten fingers, I could paint ten times as fast! That's such a great idea! I'm thirsty. Where's my juicebox...?"**
Maybe we should have asked for some kiddy-Qualudes to balance things out.***

* A week ago, Louise had walking pneumonia. Good Lord. At least we managed to avoid the Pig Fever.

** Yes, I realize this has a notable thematic resemblance to a recent "Shouts & Murmurs". Let's just say it was in the ether.

*** Firmly planting June on the road to an uppers/downers/repeat Johnny-Cash-in-the-sixties style crack-up. She'll get all skinny and start missing concerts, and June Carter will have to rescue her, and... Oh, wait, that June/June thing get's confusing. Hmm...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wow, what is there to say? You've got to love a business who's mascot is a gently sloshing jar of urine cheerily tipping it's cap.

Up With Beards

The other day, I saw one of them wearing a t-shirt that said:
Should we worry that the Beardo Movement is becoming politicized?* What's next? Razor burnings in the streets.

* Yes, I realize the shirt was ironic. But isn't beard-centric irony perhaps the greatest threat to society today?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Boy with purple bat

The Early Bird Catches the Beer

I'm often surprised to see the neighborhood drunks out and about in the early hours of the morning, while I myself am still groggily blending my wife's leftover mugs of coffee. Where do they have to be? I imagine, if I were a neighborhood drunk, I wouldn't get out of bed until noon. But no, there they are, feet freshly be-slippered, ready to put in a full day of pop-topping. Hmm.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Boy with basketball

The Way to a Mom's Heart...

Suitable to the mom of honor, we ate our way through the day: roused from slumber with eggs, bacon, grapefruit, and coffee; little this-es-and-thats by the near-empty Mother's Day morning pool; sushi al fresco for lunch; a late afternoon picnic in the park—crawfish (8 lbs.), fried chicken (12 pcs.),* potato salad, prosecco.

Happy Mother's Day, breeder ladies. May your bellies be full and your hearts happy.

* We had help.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Gimme a Backstory! Face-Tat Edition

* That's for sure true.

How about another round of "Gimme a Backstory!":
Name: ?

Deal: ?
Points will be awarded for impish roguery, blind luck, and Faulknerian excess.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Heavenly Lands Auto Detailing: Hmm, it actually looks rather earthy to me. (Cool car, though.)


"Look at the pretty moon! It's never been this night before."

Jury Summons

I had a jury summons this morning. (It's my second summons. I will serve duty for the first time in July.) I adore jury summons for two reasons:
  1. It's weirdly efficient. Our local judicial system is widely acknowledged to be a train wreck, but down in the basement of the courthouse, this little summoning-engine-that-could thrums along at a gratifying pace.
  2. The waiting room is the most representative sample one is likely to see of the (not formerly incarcerated) adult population of the city—roughly equal parts black and white with a smattering of Other; young, middling, old; every strata and curious corner of our multivariate society:*
  • moms
  • pops
  • grandmoms
  • grandpops
  • students
  • nurses
  • day laborers
  • casino dealers
  • office managers
  • compu-geeks
  • low-slung hip-hoppers
  • prim church-going matrons
  • form-fitted ghetto divas
  • off-duty security guards (a.k.a "2.5")
  • Afrika-chic Americorps-ettes
  • droopy flip-flopped post-hippie boomers
  • straight-backed ballet boys in little vests and big jewelery
  • gummy marms of doubtful cognition
  • corn-rowed stern-faced bull-chicks
  • cargo panted scruffies
  • neck-bearded slouchers
  • be-scrubbed doctors
  • tony lawyers
  • down-on-their-luckers
  • texters
  • podders
  • grimacers
  • jigglers
  • chatterers
  • zoners
  • bloggers
* Don't forget to check back and see if I'm so gung ho about the diverse panoply of life after I've served jury duty.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The latest installment in our series, Neighborhood Kids in Brightly Colored T-Shirts, on Wheeled Toys, Photographed in the Late Afternoon Sunlight as the Shadows Recede Towards Infinity.

Awesome Auger

Our local non-cable kiddy TV channel, through some mysterious business inefficiency, airs commercials almost exclusively targeted to adults—the sort of square, practical, infomercial-esque commercials typically aimed at the frugal and/or elderly. Recently, Louise was home sick for several days, and she watched a lot of the aforementioned channel. So did June.

The other day, out of the blue, June asked me:
"Papa, are you tired of digging holes for your plants?"

"Um, no. Not reall..."

"You should try the Awesome Auger."*

"The what?"

"The Awesome Auger."


"It does the work for you. It digs holes, cuts through roots......"
Oh, Lord. Next she'll be touting the improved visibility and safety provided by UV protective wraparound sunglasses.

* Rendered in her hilarious kiddy-lisp.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Louise: point and shoot