Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina


I've visited New Orleans several times and have such affection for Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, oysters & Turbodog, street musicians. My friends Spike & Marty live in the neighborhood where the trolleys go to rest at night. I can't get ahold of them.

Just a few short blocks from where they live (lived) is shantytown. These are tiny corrugated tin and cardboard houses with dirt floors, held together with duct tape and a rusty nail or two. The city stopped repairing their roads long ago since very few cars roam the streets. For these folks, food stamps are the difference between life and death. I cannot imagine what they are going through right now.

I listened to Air America this morning as caller after caller explained the horrifying conditions of their beloved towns, not knowing if their families had made it out, some having lost their pets, their jobs, their homes. My heart goes out to them.

I contributed money to Red Cross and still I feel impotent, useless. It's not enough. It's not even a drop in the bucket. I know an untrained, unskilled emergency worker like me would just get in the way, but still I fight the urge to pack a bag and drive east.

I heard refugees are pouring into Austin's Tony Berger Center and local hospitals are gearing up to help. This makes me feel better; even if I don't have what it takes to volunteer, I know there are people here who can do this kind of work in their sleep, and often do. I want to be one of them. Someday soon, I will be.

Please consider giving money to Red Cross. What our southern neighbors need most of all is shelter, a toilet that works and potable water. Red Cross is equipped to provide these services on a limited basis. With your help, they can go the extra mile. Thank you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

FFF #5

Fellow word fetishist JJ over at Purgatorian created Flash Fiction Friday, in which he gives us a sentence fragment and we create a short fiction piece beginning with those words, due the following Monday at noon. This week: My heart broke...

“My heart broke, you know.” She jabbed the corkscrew into another bottle of Merlot and twisted. “Broke apart, right there in front of god and everybody, and you didn’t even notice.”

He stared thoughtfully at the chunk of wood in his hand, willing its shape to reveal itself to his knife. He relaxed his eyes. After a moment, the knife sprang to his bidding, chipping away slowly, steadily as he heard her pour the wine.

“I had my back to the door, so of course it was Madeleine, prissy little goody-two-shoes ‘water, lemon, no ice’ Madeleine, who happened to see you and that slut come in and sit down.” She grabbed her wineglass and marched out to the porch, standing over him.

“She says to me, hey, isn’t that Logan over there by the window? And the minute I turn to look, not only do I see you and … her, I also see Janine and Tammy, who I’m meeting later for tennis. Only they don’t see me; they’re staring at you.”

Slivers of wood piled up at his feet as the knife worked its way around and around, following an invisible outline of ridges and valleys. He liked the feel of the wood in his hand, warm, strong, yielding only when necessary.

“I want you to imagine the horror, the pure terror, of the situation I was in, Logan. Can you do that? Can you just try for one little minute to put yourself in my shoes and tell me what you would have done?”

He held the half-formed sculpture at arm’s length and studied it. “I honestly can’t put myself in your shoes, honey, but I thought the vodka cran toss in my face was a nice touch.”

“Yeah, go ahead, make jokes. Tammy’s the biggest mouth in town. By now, everybody knows we’re headed to court.” She drained the last drops of wine from her glass and went back to the kitchen to pour another. “So -- who’s the bimbo?”

The knife in his right hand suddenly sliced into the wood, a quick darting motion in, then just as suddenly out, a half-inch-deep angular cut. Thunk, another angular cut meshing with the first, and so on around a sort of elongated circle. He followed the motions of his wrist, his hand clenching the knife, engulfed in waves of pulsing energy directed to his hands.

He knew he should tell her about Cassie, and he would eventually, but now wasn’t the time. Too much shrieking and breaking of glass. Thunk, the knife plunged in and out came another tiny perfectly shaped wedge. He wondered if the surgeon in San Francisco held his knife the same way, if he tackled breast tumors with the same intensity, if he saw Cassie as a human being, as someone’s sister, as someone’s lifeline, as a beautiful shining piece of art.

He gently blew the last splinters of wood from his creation, walked into the kitchen and placed the sculpture inside her handbag, a heart-shaped sun with jagged edges and deep gashes running along the surface, raw, unfinished, yet whole.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Horrible Gorey Death of Fits

Fit fit fits.
You will perish of fits. Repeat this to yourself:
"Things can work out even if I don't get
my way. Things can work out even...."

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm not normally a fit pitcher and generally limit my pitchings of fits to very special occasions. On not-so-very special occasions, I am the provoker of fits. Like today.

This morning I'm driving my 16-year-old daughter to school. Mornings are a good time for us to talk since it's about a 30-minute drive. (We live in the boonies.) Here's an almost-accurate transcript of our Friday Morning Chat.

Mom: Hey, have you heard of these abstinence/virginity pledges they have at some high schools?

Darling Daughter (DD): Um ... no. What a random question, Mom.

("Um" is a dead giveaway we're broaching uncomfortable territory.)

Mom: It's a pledge some Christian groups are asking high school students to sign, saying they won't have sex while they're in high school. Al Franken was talking about it last night and how it's not working.

DD: What do you mean, the kids are having sex anyway?

Mom: Well, they think they're NOT having sex as long as they're having oral sex or, um, the other kind in the, um, butt. It's called anal sex.

DD (looking out window): Uh-huh.

Mom: But the thing is, they ARE having sex and they're still getting diseases, just like the kids doing it the regular way.

DD: Well, they're not really having sex if they're just having oral sex.

Mom: Yeah, they are. Oral sex is sex. Any time there are sexual body parts and fluids involved, then it's a sexual activity.

DD: Okay, so it's a sexual activity, but it's not SEX. The girl's not losing her virginity or anything.

Mom: That's not the point, DD.

DD: I thought you were talking about virginity pledges.

Mom: I was --

DD: Then that IS the point.

Mom: Listen, do you really think oral sex is not sex? Why do you think that? Who told you that?

DD: Oh god...

Mom: Okay. Tell me this: what happens during a blowjob?

DD: (grabbing backpack) I really need to study vocab.

Mom: Your test isn't until next week. I really want to talk about this.

DD: Obviously.

Mom: I bet I know who told you oral sex isn't sex. It's Ann, right? (names changed to protect dirty little high schoolers)

DD: (studying vocab)

Mom: Ann's having sex with Sammy, isn't she?

DD: No, she isn't. Ann wouldn't do that.

Mom: She's been going out with him for more than a year. I've seen them together. I know the signs.

DD: Yeah, you think you know everything that goes on. Well, you don't know! Things have changed since the '50s!

Mom: (lets this slide, even though Mom was born three days before the '50s officially ended) Tell me she's not having oral sex.

DD: (exasperated) Fine, she's having oral sex. So what? She's still a virgin.

Mom: She's having sex. I knew it!

DD: Mom, you are so out of it. You SO don't get it.

Mom: What I don't get is why you girls are so gullible as to buy into this whole "oral sex isn't sex" bullshit. You can still get diseases. Do they use condoms?

DD: For oral sex?

Mom: Yeah, for oral sex. If Sammy has a sore on his penis, like herpes, then Ann will end up with herpes. It starts in her mouth, and then --

DD: You are so gross.

Mom: Don't be surprised when your little oral sex machine friends end up with herpes.

DD: (suddenly furious) WELL, MOM, YOU HAVE HERPES! WHAT DO YOU DO, GO AROUND HAVING ORAL SEX WITHOUT A CONDOM?

Mom: Tell you what, when you're at your Dad's this weekend having your sex talk, you can ask him how your Mom got herpes.

DD: I HATE YOU!!

(long silence as we approach the school)

DD: Um ... could I have some lunch money?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mysteries of the Intoxilyzer -- Revealed!!


My good deed for the month.

One of these days you might be, let's say, speeding down the highway, merrily changing lanes, singing at the top of your lungs, when all of a sudden you see flashing red & blue lights in your rear view mirror. Uh-oh, busted! Now, you might be as sober as George W. Bush's dry-drunk or as wasted as Courtney Love at a White House dinner party. Either way, it's good to know what you're in for and what LEGAL remedies you have at your disposal.

I happen to work in the legal field, and today I came across an interesting deposition of an expert witness, whose name I'll protect since I want to keep my job. This guy has worked for the Dept. of Public Safety for 24 years as the head of maintenance for those breath test machines cops use when testing drunks out on the road. These days, they're called intoxilyzers.

Anyway, here are the nuts and bolts of how intoxilyzers work and how the cops are supposed to administer the tests. You should either memorize them or have enough moolah to hire an attorney who can pick this stuff apart in court. Honestly, how many cops out there do you think administer these tests properly, and more importantly, how many intoxilyzers do you think work correctly 100% of the time?

Knowledge is power, my friends.

-- Snip --

Q. When an operator (cop) actually operates the instruments, what does he do?

A. The operator has the responsibility of making sure that the person blows into the instrument correctly. To run a test, he is required to be in the presence of a person who is being tested for 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the test. And during that time, the person not be allowed to eat, drink or place anything in his mouth that could cause the test to be invalidated.


To begin the test, the operator presses a start test button on the intoxilyzer and the instrument goes through a series of automatic steps. Basically, the operator will respond to prompts by the instrument to enter information, such as the name of the person being tested, his birth date, the operator's name, certificate number and so on. His agency, arresting agency. The instrument will then automatically go into a calibration, a diagnostic check of the instrument.

And if it passes all the diagnostic checks, circuitry checks, it will proceed to the analysis part of the test automatically. It will go through seven steps, during which the person is instructed to blow twice at two different times to give samples of the instrument to analyze.

Q. What happens if the circuitry test indicates that there is an error?

A. The instrument will not proceed. It will display a message on the display board of the instrument. It will say, "circuitry failed." And it will print out a test record and giving the reason that the test was invalidated.

Q. Reference sample, what is that?

A. As part of the test, one of the steps that the instrument goes through involves the use of a solution of alcohol and water that I make in my office and my lab to a known concentration. It is kept in a device that is adjacent to the intoxilyzer and connected through tubes, plastic tubing. As it goes through a series of steps, the instrument will use this reference solution to check how accurately the instrument is reading. If I have a predicted reading on that solution of .08, the instrument must analyze that solution within plus or minus .01 of that predictor. If it does not read it that accurately, it will stop the test.

Q. When it stops the test, is an operator able to determine that the test wasn't completed?

A. Yes. The instrument will print, reference out of tolerance. It will not print any subject results and there will be no valid testing.

Q. Now, I want to talk about the underlying scientific theory. Can you tell us in theory how this instrument works?

A. Intoxilyzers are instruments that are designed to measure the amount of alcohol that is on a person's breath. It uses a type of analysis that's called infrared spectroscopy. And basically, this involves the use of infrared light, which is a type of light that is invisible. You can feel it as heat from fire or from anything that's hot. That's infrared light. Infrared light comes in different wavelengths, depending on intensity.

One of the ways of analyzing molecules in science is in the use of infrared light. It was found that certain molecules will absorb certain types of infrared light. So this intoxilyzer picks out the types of infrared light that alcohol molecules absorbs and measures the effect of light from alcohol on your breath.

When somebody blows into the intoxilyzer, it goes into a chamber that it's passing through. There is a source lamp, a source of infrared light, in one end that's shooting light through that chamber. There is a light detector at the other end. When the light detector is struck by the light, it gives off a voltage. When somebody has alcohol on their breath, it goes into the chamber. The light is beamed through there. But some of that light is absorbed by the alcohol. As a result, the voltage that's being produced drops.

The intoxilyzer basically measures the absorption of infrared light by alcohol. The more alcohol that's on your breath, the more light that's absorbed, the less voltage that's produced. It's very specific for alcohol. It is intended to measure the absorption of the bond between oxygen-hydrogen molecules which are present in ethyl alcohol.

Q. Are there any other chemicals that this instrument might pick up?

A. There is a chemical called acetone which some diabetics, untreated, will produce. Also, people who have been fasting for an extended period of time, they will produce acetone. The instrument, in addition to being able to detect alcohol, will detect acetone. If acetone is detected, it will display the word "interferant." It will print the words "interferant detected" on the test records and will stop the test.

Q. I want to go back to the 15-minute waiting period. What is the purpose of that?

A. Alcohol -- some people drink it in the form of beverages. It goes through the mouth, down your esophagus, into your stomach, into the small intestines and into your blood. When you drink alcohol, some of it stays in your mouth. It takes about five minutes for alcohol to evaporate. It's very volatile. It evaporates from your mouth in the process of breathing in and out.

To prevent the instrument from invalidating the test, if someone blows in there and there is alcohol in their mouth, it will stop the test. So there is a 15-minute period prior to the test, during which the operator must wait and be in the presence of that person to make sure that he doesn't drink anymore, put anything more in his mouth that could read on the instrument.

Q. And you just said that if there is alcohol in the mouth, the instrument would not go through with the test?

A. It will produce a pattern of -- on the instrument that will trigger an invalid test by use of a circuitry called the slope detector. It will detect that level of alcohol concentration initially is high. Then it drops and then it raises. So that it will stop the test any time it sees a drop of alcohol concentration initially, which happens when somebody has alcohol in their mouth. And then you get into the upper lungs and there is less alcohol.

Q. How does it measure a slope? Does it depend on how much time it takes the person to blow?

A. When someone is blowing into the intoxilyzer, the instruments are designed not to accept a sample until you get into the deep lungs. That's where the alcohol levels are highest. That's where they're stable. So that when you blow, the instrument is measuring or reading the alcohol concentration. It starts with the mouth, which should have nothing in it. And then the upper lungs, a little more. And then deep into the lungs, it will start to level out. And it will reach a point to where it starts just to plateau. It will go no higher.

The instrument is monitoring the rate of increase. And when it sees it starting to plateau, to level off, it says it will accept the test. Until it sees that plateau and that leveling off, it will not take the test.

And the time is dependent on basically how much alcohol is in the person's breath. People with higher alcohol concentrations take a little longer. It may take as little as five seconds. We tell our operators to try to get a ten-second breath test.

Q. Is there some kind of noise that the instrument makes that says when to blow and when to stop?

A. When someone is blowing into the instrument, there is a tone that will sound. It is activated by a pressure switch that will detect how hard somebody is blowing into the intoxilyzer. If they are not blowing hard enough, the tone will not sound and the instrument will not accept the test until there is a continuous tone for at least five seconds.

Q. You testified that the instrument picks a point on the slope where the slope plateaus. How many specimens is a person required to give?

A. When somebody is tested, they give two breath samples to the analyst.

Q. Is there a difference in the number of those -- the number result of the specimen, is there ever a difference in them?

A. When somebody blows into the intoxilyzer, there is a reading. In order for the test to be valid, when a person is tested twice, the results of the two different tests must be within .02 of each other. If the difference is greater, the instrument will stop the test and display the words "no .02 agreement" and print those words on the test record. And the operator will have to attempt the test again.

Q. What measurement is that number that's printed out on the slip?

A. The analysis is in terms of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Q. What is a purge, real fast? I saw that on there.

A. Part of the steps that the instrument goes through is to use room air to blow through the chamber before the analysis is done. This has the effect of purging any air that was in that chamber from the last analysis or when the subject blew or other reference analysis was used.

Using room air, the instrument analyzes the result of the room air reading, and it should be a 0.00. There should be no alcohol detected.

So there are a series of purges that are dispersed throughout the test. The subject will blow. And then an air blank, or a purge, using the room air. And then the reference solution is tested. Another air blank. The subject is asked to blow again. And then another air blank.

Q. At the beginning of your testimony, I believe you said that you maintain the instrument and make sure that it keeps the proper temperature, something like that?

A. The instruments are heated about 48 degrees Celsius. Basically, the reason for keeping the instrument heated is to prevent condensation from forming on the tubing or the sample chamber when somebody blows into the intoxilyzer. By keeping it at about 120 degrees, it does not allow the air to form water droplets on the sides of the tubing or the sample chamber.

Q. Is the reference sample kept at a certain temperature?

A. The reference sample is kept at a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius. This temperature is the temperature that human breath leaving the mouth has.

Q. When somebody goes to give a specimen, does everybody put their mouth on a certain piece of the instrument?

A. The instrument has a breath tube that extends out from the instrument. It's just a heated tube, plastic tubing wrapped with a heater tape, onto which the operator will place a mouthpiece, which are kept in the cabinet. They're wrapped in plastic and are used for every test. The person will blow into the breath tube, which is connected to the instrument, which leads through tubing into the sacral chamber.

Q. Do they get new mouthpieces?

A. Yes.

Q. How are these mouthpieces contained?

A. They are wrapped in plastic. We purchase them from a manufacturer of mouthpieces. They're individually wrapped. They're kept -- stored in the cabinet underneath the intoxilyzer. And they are used -- a new mouthpiece is used every time a test is run.

-- Snip --

Monday, August 22, 2005

Annoying Garden State Dis

The indie movie scene is just as insular and back-biting as any Hollywood scene, maybe more so. It saddens me that this has happened in just 16 short years from the birth of the booming indie scene, which I (and most indie film nuts) agree began with Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989.

These days, it's hard to tell the indies from the studio pics unless you do a bit of industry reading. Indie distributors come and go so often, sometimes in the space of months or even weeks, that I don't even try to keep up much anymore.

What interests me is the indie film that crosses over to become a modest hit, which translates into bigger and better things to come for that filmmaker and possibly the stars. In the case of Garden State, make that writer/director/producer/music supervisor/star Zach Braff, who with his combined success from GS and Scrubs has a more-than-break-even chance of making it big time.

I favorably reviewed GS at Third Eye (which you can read here), but there are some things I didn't mention in my review, like the fact that it was easy for me to reconnect with 20-something angst, which I haven't experienced in a while. The soundtrack was comprised of both tracks I'd never heard before, but knew I wanted to hear again, and one oldie in particular that hit me like a ton of bricks. I left the theater and drove straight to the record store to purchase the soundtrack. I never do that. It's great. I listen to it all the time. These things, plus the fact Natalie Portman didn't annoy the crap outta me like she normally does, are the reasons THIS particular indie film hit home for me and, I suspect, many others and are what made GS a true crossover hit.

Sure, I'm envious of his talents and maybe hate him just a little on bad days, but mostly I cheer his success and wish him well. He's got connections and he uses them for good, not evil -- as opposed to some useless hole of a skank like Paris Hilton. Every indie wannabe looks at Paris and seethes, what you spend on one week's anti-gonorrhea meds would fund my next project, INCLUDING CRAFT SERVICES. Bitch.

Anyway, I was reading an article on IndieWIRE today about up-and-comer filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, who apparently had his film Funny Ha Ha at the 2004 SXSW film fest, which I don't even remember being on the line-up. This film had no buzz and won no awards. But that doesn't stop Michael Koresky, apparently a Film Comment editor [read: New Yorker who gets invited to all the "cool" parties], from praising Bujalski as if he's the Savior of the True Indie Movement by comparing him to the lowly shit that is -- what else -- Garden State. Still shaking my head at that one.

Bujalski's low-budget flick was filmed in 16mm and blown up to 35. That right there scares the bejesus out of even seasoned indie watchers, much less folks who go to the movies every couple of months and choose carefully what they spend their money on. (There are exceptions to this, of course; Blair Witch springs to mind.) It's no wonder Funny Ha Ha has languished alongside other poorly shot indie "masterpieces" that crop up on IFC or Sundance channel occasionally.

But why should Zach Braff be excoriated because he could afford to shoot Garden State in 35mm? Is he any less indie because of it? Or how about the fact he's friends with musicians and talked them into giving him music for his film? Show me a filmmaker today who would turn down an opportunity to put a Shins song in his movie.

This bitter back-biting jealous "he's not the voice of MY generation who does he think he is" bullshit has got to stop. Zach wasn't speaking for you, just like Joel Schumacher sure as hell wasn't speaking for MY generation with his craptacular St. Elmo's Fire. Go ahead and prop up Mr. Indie Savior Andrew Bujalski, but do it on his own merits. Leave Zach out of it. Please.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Flash Fiction Friday #4

Thanks to JJ for creating FFF. Each Friday he chooses a beginning sentence. Our assignment, should we choose to accept it, is to write a short piece of fiction beginning with that sentence, due at noon the following Monday.

This week's sentence: "The day was hot, but there was ice in"

The day was hot, but there was ice in Eddie’s cooler, which I heard sloshing around as he came up our dirt driveway on his banana bike. He skidded to a stop in front of us and gestured Carol Merrill-style toward the beat-up styrofoam cooler hanging precariously from the handlebars.

"Ice," he said triumphantly.

My little brothers and I nodded appreciatively. We’d stealthily slapped together bologna and cheese sandwiches, escaping silently through the screen door so as not to wake momma. There’d be hell to pay if she caught us stealing her food.

Tommy and I exchanged glances –- damn, we didn’t think about drinks. Oh well, too late now. We turned our gazes back to Eddie and the cooler. It was time for our First Annual Weekly Wednesday Family Picnic by the Bay.

Day after day we rode our bikes on the boardwalk and gazed enviously as out-of-towners spread their blankets on the grass and pulled magnificent meals out of giant picnic baskets as if by magic: Tupperware containers of fried chicken, potato salad, slices of watermelon, gallon pitchers of sweet tea. We’d watch them and secretly dream about what it would be like to have a family who just wakes up one day and says, "Hey, let’s go on a picnic!"

So today, for our First Annual Weekly Wednesday Family Picnic by the Bay, seeing as how I was the only girl, I got to be Mother. Eddie instantly declared himself Father. Tommy was fine with being our kid, but Davey pitched such a wall-eyed fit that I finally had to agree he could be Uncle Joe Who’d Just Come Back From The War.

Personas and sandwiches firmly in hand, we grabbed our bikes and took off. As we approached Cassie’s Corner Store, Father announced that we’d better stop and get some cokes. I reminded Father I’d spent all the grocery money last week and would he be so kind as to purchase drinks for the rest of us. Father ordered us to stay with the bikes; he’d be right back.

Father returned with a paper bag which he shoved quickly inside his ice chest, refusing to let us have a peek. "Wait until dinner," Father said sternly. We continued on to the boardwalk.

Since it was still morning, the picnic area was fairly deserted. We chose a primo spot in the shade of a huge oleander bush bursting with pink blooms. I pulled a beat-up vinyl tablecloth from my bike basket and spread it on the ground. Father set the cooler in the middle and we sat in a circle surrounding it, using it as a table.

We ate our sandwiches in silence, enjoying the beauty of the day, the sound of the waves breaking against the distant seawall, other families wandering in and claiming their spots on the grass. A couple of moms looked our way and smiled their approval. I grinned back and gave a little wave.

Finishing my last bite, I said, "Hey, Father, may I have a coke, please?"

Eddie placed his hand on top of the cooler and looked me straight in the eye. "Of course, dear. But first, a kiss." He leaned in toward me, puckering his lips, his eyes never leaving mine.

I stared back at him for a long moment, frozen. The game evaporated. Finally, I said in a low voice, "Get real, Eddie. Just gimme a coke."

Eddie sat up straight, looking off in the distance. "A kiss for a coke, dear. That’s the deal."

"You are so gross." I turned my back to him and stared out at the sea, fuming.

"As you wish, darling." I heard the top of the styrofoam cooler pop off, followed by several long seconds of rummaging through the ice, then the fzzzt-click of a bottle cap opening. Glug-glug-glug. "Ahhhhhh."

Tommy got up his nerve and said, "Father, could I have a coke, please?"

"Sure, son, as soon as Mother gives me a kiss."

Back still turned, I said, "Eddie, not only are you a dork, you’re my cousin. I ain’t kissing you. Give Tommy a coke."

Glug-glug-glug. Burp.

Davey said, "I’ll kiss you for a coke, Eddie."

Eddie chuckled. He leaned in beside me, his lips close to my ear. "It’s your Mother’s kisses I been missin’."

I turned and pushed him away. "Listen, Eddie, I wouldn’t kiss you if you were the last boy on Earth. Ugh." I reached for the cooler. Before I knew what was happening, Eddie’s fist shot out and landed square in the middle of my left boob. The slightly bigger boob, the one just starting to take shape, the one whose nipple was so tender lately I could barely touch it. I screamed with pain and fell backwards, clutching my boob, trying so hard not to cry and crying harder as a result.

I seethed with pain and fury as Eddie calmly stood up, reattached the cooler to his handlebars and took off down the boardwalk, never looking back. Davey ran after him, hollering for him to stop. I closed my eyes and muttered, "See ya, Daddio."

Tommy started crying then, tears leaking out the sides of his crooked black-framed glasses. I reached to pat his knee, but he flinched and moved backwards before I could touch him.

"What’s the matter, hon?" I asked, sitting up a little.

His lips quivering, he said, "All he wanted was … a kiss."

I lay back and watched the tide roll in and out, in and out, felt the rhythm of my heart beating full inside my bruised nipple.

Just a kiss. It always starts with a kiss.

20 Questions

(Stolen from CBT Todd over at Viva Las VegASS, a gentleman, scholar and one of the funniest writers in blogland. He stole 20Q from somebody else, so, you know, no big whup. Feel free to steal them your own self.)

1. Tell me something obvious about you.

I'm a caucasian female with flat feet and a strange sense of humor.

2. Tell me something about you that many don't know.

Steel Magnolias makes me cry. Every damn time.

3. What is your biggest fear?

Social Security won't be enough and my daughter won't be able to get into dental school in order to become a successful orthodontist in order to put me up in her garage apartment and support me in my old age.

4. Do you normally go the safe route or take the short cut?

I don't understand why taking the short cut necessarily indicates danger. This question sucks.

5. Name one thing you want that you can't buy with money.

Peace.

6. What is your most treasured possession?

'96 Jeep Cherokee, 307,000 miles and counting. Love ya, baby!

7. What is the one thing you hate most about yourself that you do often?

I always jump straight to judgmental, never taking the time to walk in her fuckmepumps or wear his hairnet.

8. What is your favorite lie to tell?

Yep, things are fine with me, too.

9. Name something you've done once that you can't wait to do again.

Edit a movie.

10. Are you the jealous type?

No.

11. What is the one person, place or thing you can't say no to?

The New Mexico high desert.

12. What's the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?

Tried to love me.

13. If you could do something crazy right now, what would it be?

Buy a camel. I've got 10 acres and nothing to show for it. Might as well buy a camel.

14. When was the last time you cried?

Monday. Six Feet Under. Devastating.

15. When was the last time you felt so good that nothing else mattered?

One year ago, just about to the day. Phone sex will do that for ya.

16. Do you feel comfortable in public with no shirt on?

I really don't think so, but you never know until you try.

17. Name something embarrassing you did while drunk.

Went to a movie wrap party on 6th Street, got drunk on free tequila shots, flirted with some psuedo-rocker whose name I swear was Dash Riprock, got in a cab with Dash, proceeded to make out with Dash, wondered why the cab was spinning around and around, got kicked out of the cab by Dash in a 7-Eleven parking lot, stumbled to the front door in time to spew copious chunks, slipped in said chunks, landed on my ass and cried like a baby. Yes, I was Courtney Love in another life.

18. Name one person, past or present, with whom you'd like to spend the day.

My grandma.

19. Name one place you've never been and would like to go, and why.

Guadalajara, because I have this idea it might be perfect for me.

20. What's the story behind your online persona/name?

When my mom was seven months pregnant/three months married, she and my dad were walking down by the bay and spied a shrimp boat named the "Melody Ann." She shrugged and said that was as good a name as any for a kid. To this day, I'm so thankful that boat wasn't named the "Agatha Lou."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Oh yeah baby I'm hot


What Flavour Are You? Hot hot! I am Curry Flavoured.Hot hot! I am Curry Flavoured.

I have a spicy personality. If you can take the heat, you'll love me, if not, I'll probably make you cry. I am not for the faint-hearted. What Flavour Are You?


The question that probably saved me from being "Bang! Bang! I am deadly sea urchin flavoured!" was the one about my favorite kind of animal. I checked off "dead" right away, and fought with myself for a good five minutes before I changed it to "sea life" because of that fucking penguin movie. They're in the sea sometimes.


I finally grew a brain and started a different blog for family only, pics of the kid at school events, etc., and they won't know about this one and I can just relax, let down my golden hair and be me. Shoulda known this uptight/polite phase wouldn't last. Probably should have started all over, but what the hell. I still have college notebooks from 1982 that I can't bring myself to throw out. There might be something I need to read in there someday.

Okay. So the gloves are off, the tower window is open and the hair is hanging down.


OH -- will somebody please tell me where the terms "ass hat" and "ass clown" originated so I'll know which TV show I can continue avoiding? (Actually, I kind of like "ass clown," but feel like that phrase has been hilariously co-opted by Rachelle at The Daily WTF and so I won't steal it. For now.)


Speaking of TV shows, I ordered Profit from DeepDiscountDVD today, when I saw it was not only offered, but on sale! for less than 15 bucks! including unaired eps! with Adrian Pasdar interviews! I was so excited! ... and then after I'd submitted my credit card info, they tell me they're temporarily out of stock. Sigh.

This show came out in '96 and it only aired four eps that I know of, and never repeated, but yet it's stuck in my brain these last nine years like gorgeous Italian hot wax baby Adrian Pasdar OMFG. But it's not just the lovely Adrian; it's the absolute weirdness and intensity that I remember. That, and the fact that ** SPOILER ** DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANNA KNOW THE WEIRD PART ** he sleeps naked in the corner of his apartment in a cardboard box. ** END SPOILER** Boy gots issues. Oh yeahhhh. And so I wait....

Saturday, August 13, 2005

PostSecret


This has got to be one of the coolest things I've seen on the Net. Create a postcard revealing your deepest, darkest secret and send it anonymously to the address posted at the bottom of the PostSecret blog. There are postcards on there that will break your heart, like the one I posted above, or make you smile, or wince. Some might make you angry. The perfect definition of art. Check it out.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Yummy

I like old-fashioned recipes, the kind that aren't cut to reduce fat and sugar, the kind that Grandma used to make. You know, the good stuff. Ever been at a potluck and everybody is digging the broccoli salad, it's the best thing they've ever had, and come to find out the dressing is made with -- gulp -- mayonnaise and sugar!! Why, who in their right mind would eat that way in this day and age?

Ask my buddy Jana, who makes broccoli with mayo & sugar dressing for our bunko potlucks, good-naturedly weathers protestations from the bunko yuppies about how they haven't dared eat mayo in years, watches said yuppies sneak back in the kitchen for just one more bite, and always takes home an empty casserole dish.

In that spirit, I recommend
Kitchen Garden, who won over my heart by explaining in exquisite detail how to make a roux for gumbo. This is something I've always wanted to do! And zucchini lasagne sounds good, too -- it uses long thin slices of zucchini instead of lasagne noodles. Mmmmmm.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fundraising for Dummies

"I saw Lance Armstrong at Super S last week!" Mrs. I said breathlessly. "He was buying Lunchables for his kids!"

Well, let me tell you, any pretense of getting work done at tonight's booster club meeting evaporated at this proclamation. You'da thought she'd brought Lance along in her purse, the way everyone gathered around. What was he wearing? Was Sheryl with him? (They obviously don't keep up with their gossip rags.) Did you talk to him? Was he nice?

Lance is our neighbor, you see. Even though Austin claims him, he lives out in our tiny town and has, in the past, been spotted by yours truly riding his bike with Sheryl and an unidentified third party (I'm guessing goon squad) on the winding hilly road leading to my house. You don't see me taking out an ad to herald my blessings from on high at such a sight, do you? No, you don't, because everyone has a right to privacy, and the last thing Lance needs is me (or anyone) slamming on the brakes, jumping out like some kind of insane dopehead and waving him down for an autograph. Which is what people do out here, sadly.

That's why I got such a kick out of Jon Stewart's witty exchange with Bob Costas the other day about Tour de France coverage and Lance climbing a hill and coming in 18th but still winning, or whatever. People in this town will brook nary a disparaging remark about their beloved Lance.

So anyway ... at the meeting, when everyone had finally settled down, we got back to the topic at hand: how to raise $28,000 so that our girls on the dance team can go to New York in March. Suddenly, Mrs. N had this huge light bulb go off, blinding us all with her brilliance: "We should get Lance to do a bike race for us!"

I'll pause while you finish snickersnorting.

Honestly, why would a world-famous athlete and, I dare say, celebrity like Lance Armstrong want to host such an event for us in our rinky-dink no-name town, much less race against rinky-dink no-name biking enthusiasts, in order to raise money for an organization he's never heard of, for people he has no connection with, so that these kids can go to New York for fun??? Kids who don't even have cancer of the balls or whatever? Hell, kids who don't even HAVE BALLS!!

Nonetheless, this was treated as a viable alternative to our otherwise reasonable fundraisers. Mrs. I volunteered to do the legwork -- i.e., camp outside Super S in her Ford Eco-Extinguisher and wait for Lance to show up again, then ambush him. Wouldn't it be fun to have a hidden camcorder ready for such a moment? That is, if you cared?

Lance, do yourself a favor, move by cover of night. And for god's sake, don't wear yellow.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Wandering the blogosphere

Last night, I stumbled across this guy and then it was time for Al Franken and then I fell asleep during the last 15 minutes but luckily I still had it on my computer this morning. I'd never have remembered the title otherwise. A mixture of space & UFO & intelligent ramblings, and he's an author, even has a blurb by Bruce Sterling, and that's enough for me to be intrigued. I want to explore more. You might, too. Check him out.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Blahgs

We do admire it, and yet ... don't care.

-- Jon Stewart on Lance Armstrong's 7th Tour de France victory


I'm getting bitten by all manner of creatures, both outside and in. Must be summer in Texas. As of right now I'm sporting:

  • ant bite, left ankle -- don't know when that happened
  • centipede sting, right thigh -- last night while watching TV
  • numerous mosquito bites -- recently aborted attempt to catch sunset on porch
Gotta eat more garlic.


My Daily OM told me today: Sometimes we need to experience what we don't want in order to determine what we do want.

What a load of shit. "Sometimes?"

How about this: We experience what we think we want, and then when we have it, we realize it looked better on the shelf or in our heads or on the screen, and so now here we are sitting right in the middle of what we thought we wanted, and it's disappointing on a level we never dreamed existed, and it ain't going anywhere, and we have no energy to get rid of it or do the right thing with it, and now we vaguely want something else, knowing not where to find it, and even though we've peeped through windows here and there, we are, in the end, clueless.

Guess it's a good thing I don't write the Daily OM.