Thursday, March 29, 2007

Snowy Thoughts

As predicted by local weatherfolk, I awoke to a magical springtime wonderland. What was green, blue and yellow yesterday is now whitewhitewhite. Again, I love the spontaneity and sudden change of the Colorado scenery. Wasn't I wearing a tank top and shorts just last weekend? The snow flakes are big and fluffy and I can't stop watching them. Makes me want to stay inside and write a novel … or a blog post, at least. (Photo at left is compliments of PhotobyDave. Until I can spring for a new camera, stealing is all I have, folks.)

Several items on my mind today, namely:

I heard on NPR yesterday that Golden State Fence, the company that was hired to build that godforsaken fence along the Mexican border, has been (surprise!) caught for employing illegals has been sentenced to community service and a three-year probation. Ha! Although George Lopez may have jumped on this comedy opp first, this joke practically wrote itself. I mean, who the fuck did they think was going to build this thing anyway?

As many of you have noticed, the blogosphere is aflame with the news that blog-ebrity, Kathy Sierra, received death threats and was sexually harassed by some anonymous coward who hides behind his keyboard and undoubtedly has the wang size of a dog. (No offense to dogs.) I caught Kathy's keynote address at SXSW, even though I'd never heard of her, and was so glad I did. She is frightfully smart, very funny and terribly cute. Plus, she's a chick and there just aren't enough programmer/designer/blogger ladies at Kathy's level who get recognized. I'm glad she has the following that she does but it looks like fame – even in the blogosphere – comes at a price. Kathy is now afraid to leave her house and has cancelled all speaking engagements. It's a sad story for all of us.

Fred Vogelstein, a reporter dude I know, is all over the web lately, thanks to a PR mishap. He writes for WIRED and was working on a story about Microsoft. The Big M's PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, mistakenly sent him background notes on … Fred Vogelstein, including bits like "It takes him a bit to get his point across so try to be patient." Said Fred in his subsequent blog post: "I know my long-windedness drives my wife nuts occasionally. I didn't know it had become an issue for Microsoft's pr machine too." Anyway, as a blogger and PR hack, I find this all endlessly amusing and a tad frightening.

Finally, my pal (okay, not really but I am a dedicated fan), Paul Kadrosky, let me know about a study that came out recently that reveals 29% of Americans are not connected to the Internet. Furthermore, most of 'em couldn't care less. The number one reason cited is, "Nothing interesting on the Internet." They've got a point, my life seemed to be chock full before 1997, when I got my first peek. Question is, what would I be doing right now if it wasn't around? Probably talking to myself ... a tragic thought. At least with a blog I have the bold assumption that someone is paying attention and I'm all about self-delusion these days.

Finally, it looks like my father, Bob, is facing a double bypass operation next week. Of course, he is upbeat so that's the attitude I'm trying to adopt. The doctors who will be working on him do this same procedure 400 times a year without complications so no need for wringing hands, right? Thankfully, my good pal, Gins, is visiting this weekend so some much-needed giggly distraction is on its way.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Allan McLaren Day!

Gather round, children, time for a story:

Sometime in the early 80s, my best friend, Lisa, and I were walking the halls of Bancroft Jr. High in Long Beach, California. It must have been the end of February because we were discussing the recent Presidents Day holiday, which seemed too elitist for our tastes. "Seems like there should be a day for people that aren't presidents," Lisa said.

"Yeah, like a day that celebrates the guy that has no desire to be president," I undoubtedly concurred. "A day for the average Joe, y'know? The world needs those guys too."

"Maybe we should start one … ?" she said, eyes wide. Lisa was, once again, ready to co-hatch outrageous plans with me, which is why I love her so.

"Hey .. yeah!"

And we were off. Immediately, we began formulating the outline of the campaign messages and the all-important 'Celebrating the Everyman' gist of our new holiday. Still, we needed a face, a name, a figurehead … somebody to stand up for our new cause. We wanted the guy that just happily exists in life, does his thing, and is perfectly harmless – the guy that merely goes to school/work, does his chores and doesn't spark headlines, bad or good. We needed to pin down the uncelebrated fellow that makes up the bulk of society - the guy that everyone likes but no one really notices.

Lisa and I spotted him at the same time. He was a smallish kid, same age as us (15-ish) and we didn't know his name. He had blonde bushy surfer-kid hair, shy eyes and an infectious sweet smile. We'd never noticed him before which made him ideal. Looking back now, I realized we may have come on a bit strong initially but he played along. After briefly introducing ourselves without revealing our true mission, we conducted the interview on-the-spot:

Belong to any clubs? "Nope."
Play on any sports teams? "No way."
Girlfriend? "Um, not right now."
Grades? "C average."
Home life? "Just normal stuff – my parents are okay, I guess."
Get in to trouble? "No, I try to lay low."
And finally, name? "Allan McLaren."

Lisa's eyes lit up at this, since she was the creative ad agency person and I'm more of the big mouth PR type. The phonetics needed to be ideal to result in a winning slogan. She tried it out, "Hmmmmm. AllanMcLaren AllanMcLaren AllanMcLaren. Yes, yes … YES! That will work perfectly!"

We each squealed, kissed him on the cheek and then ran off, yelling back at Allan, "Thank you!" and maybe even "Get ready!"

In the next few weeks, we created banners, posters, buttons and possibly t-shirts that prepared the student body for the big day, which we'd picked randomly as March 26th – the world's first annual Allan McLaren Day.

Because we were those busybody types that ran everything, we managed to get this in the student newspaper, the school calendar, the daily announcements and, most importantly, on the lips of every student. Anticipation was high. Allan was confused but just kept smiling.

When the big day finally came, I recall sitting in typing class (ha!) and watching the very prim and proper teacher, Mrs. Howard, instruct us on the day's lesson. On her print blouse was a button pin that clearly read: "Have you hugged your Allan McLaren today?" This was victory.

In high school, the tradition continued and Allan became a minor celebrity. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Not only was Allan game for all the attention, but he was consistently appreciative and smiled even more.

Years later, at the 10-year high school reunion, I ran into Allan and he was so excited. He introduced his lovely wife, Kristina, and told her the whole story. He then went on to tell us how we had inadvertently changed his entire school experience. Apparently, he'd show up at parties and people would cheer: "Allan McLaren has arrived!" He noted, with some irony, that the football guys who "would otherwise beat me up" had decided that Allan was the coolest dude ever and was to be revered and protected like a king.

Even several years after graduation, Allan was in a grocery store writing a check when the cashier saw his name: "Allan McLaren? I know that name! Aren't you famous or something?"

Decades later, I was living in San Francisco and received a card in the mail. It was an elaborate beautifully self-designed sentiment from Lisa, dated March 26, 2003, with the words: "Celebrating 20 years of the average man … wishing you the very best Allan McLaren Day!"

So, now, I pass along this tradition to ya'll. Buy the Average Joe a drink tonight, would ya? Whether he knows it or not, it's his special day.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No Big Deal

On this rainy Saturday, I'm piddling around my apartment, cleaning rooms filing papers and generally trying not to think about my father, who was driven this morning from Biloxi, Mississippi to Houston, Texas … in an ambulance. And yes, the entire state of Louisiana is lodged in between there somewhere.

I'm told it's nothing urgent, they are just checking on the stent that was put in his heart a few years ago. Still, it's a "procedure" and I'm never comfortable with that. For the record let me state that I am completely and 100 percent against this whole parental mortality thing. Intellectually, I get that we are all temporary bits of squawking meat on the same conveyor belt, heading for the same hole in the ground, but emotionally, I cannot swallow it when it comes to my co-founders.

The fact is, if everything goes according to schedule, we will all see our parents die and for many of my friends, this natural process has already begun. This is taken with the perspective that no parent should ever have to watch their own child leave Earth before they do; even as a non-parent, this is a pain I cannot imagine. My stepmother watched her beautiful daughter die of breast cancer at 37 and how she managed to say goodbye, I'll never know.

These rambling paranoid thoughts are quite premature as my 73-year-old father is, otherwise, the jolly, bouncy picture of senior health. Beyond a noticeable addiction to Dairy Queen Blizzards and cheap cigars, he walks a few miles every night, plays golf and dutifully obeys his doctors. The man retired at age 48 and has been happily entertaining himself ever since, mostly by driving his motor home (which he lives in) wherever he damn well pleases. Bob "King of the Road" Clisby laughs easily, has endless patience and is a friend to all. He raised us with the lesson that "you are just as good as the movie star and no better than the trash man." His cell phone's message greeting kinda says it all:

"Wonderful day! I woke up this morning and I'm still alive and I think that's just great! I hope your day is going as good as mine. Bye-bye!"

True to his "everything is an adventure!" perspective, my Dad actually looked forward to the ambulance ride. "Should be fun!" he said last night and then scoffed at my request for the ambulance drivers' DMV records.

A few minutes ago, I spoke to him and sure enough, he fully enjoyed his medical road trip. The two drivers (one had an IQ of 175, apparently) were chatty and quite happy to play tour guide to Curious Bob. It's so admirable - the man has fun no matter where he goes or what situation he finds himself in. As he told me just a few minutes ago, "Oh, I'm doing just fine, punkin - I'm happier'n spit here." (For some reason, saliva often makes its way into his statements. This one was a shorthand version of his usual, "I'm so happy, I could spit!")

So, let the rain fall, I say. He'll be fine. I'll be fine. Our spit will be happy and eventually, we will all be dead and the cycle will continue … just like it is supposed to.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Home is Everywhere

Back home in Denver, after a week or so at SXSW and I'm just now rested up. I love that event but damn, it's exhausting. At the end of the day, you fall into your bed, completely spent, worrying about what other Amazing Thing is going on at that exact moment, what perspective-changing item that you are missing. Sometimes, it feels like an organized, public Burning Man without all the dusty penises, glittered boobs and bottled water. You get so immersed in this concentrated batch of amazingly focused artists – writers, filmmakers, musicians, producers, even the average attending fan - that just keeping an rigid, open-pored attention span kicks your ass. Also, experiencing one amazing conversation after another can be enlightening but ferociously taxing. Even the chit-chat.

For instance, I met a guy under a tree at Brush Park named Keith. He was working the festival, serving beer at his company's promotional tent. I learned about his niece, an independent-minded 30-year-old woman who happens to be blind and deaf. She lives in his house but basically runs the place. I told him that he was a great uncle to give her a home. "Oh, no. She doesn't need me at all," he said, laughing, "I make her live with me to make myself feel better. I don't want to have to worry about her." But she does all the cooking and insists on going to the grocery store – alone – every Saturday. He had to train himself not to move things, as in, anything.

"If I use the salt and don’t put it back in the same exact spot, she'll get mad," he says. "It's the same reason we don't have much furniture in the house. Too much clutter and it's dangerous. Things have to be organized, every thing has a place."

Immediately, I thought to myself: "Hmmm. Sounds like a good documentary." After so many days of this, one starts to view the entire world - at that point, a seemingly endless sea of unmade films - through the eye of a camera lens.

But it's great to be back in my Denver cave and sleep in my own raggedy bed. The weather has suddenly turned into sunny spring days and the city's parks are full. I put air in my bike tires and ventured out to Washington Park myself yesterday to lie in the grass, snuggle up with scattered goose turds, and finish an intense book that HDW lent me. Dogs of every breed and folks of every creed, all moving forward in some kind of fashion. Kind of like being in Golden Gate Park on Sundays except no roller disco or ethnic parades/political protests. Lovely, just lovely.

Still, I must admit to a certain Austin tug at my heart this past week. Can't help it, I feel something when I'm there and it must show for every year, I get mistaken for a local by locals. It happened blatantly twice this year. One time, I was standing in line for (surprise!) a film and started talking to the woman in front of me. When she assumed that I lived in Austin, I corrected her. She looked confused. "Hmmm, that's weird, "she said, "You seem to have such an Austin vibe about you." Oof.

Also, this past week, I stayed with two beautiful new friends, Tiffany and Michael, who provided my own free SXSW resting cave. Tiffany is becoming a certified healer of the spiritual kind and god knows I'll take any and all kinds of help. We had a two-hour session and I'm not sure what happened but I think some rusty doors were opened. There may not be anything much behind them except maybe some old Esquires and neglected ant farm but sometimes it's good to clean house.

Meanwhile, Michael is a foodie, like me. We went out to a fancy dinner at Gumbo's in Round Rock and talked it up. We're talking crawfish, broiled shrimp, asparagus and tabasco-mashed potatoes, fresh bread, tomoto salad and divine red wine followed by Lousiana Bread Pudding and port wine. FUCKING YUM. He insisted the waiter was hitting on me, though I'm not so good at noticing these things. Now I'm now thinking of taking Michael with me everywhere - god knows what else I'm missing.

Still, when T&M asked me to stay another day to enjoy a birthday party they were hosting (Michael tortured me with the elaborate menu he would be preparing - I tried to ignore him but the words "fresh fish", "fennel" and "champagne sauce" managed to get through), I couldn't bring myself to oblige. I love Austin but I was worn out and ached for the place where I actually collect my mail.

When the plane zeroed in for a Denver landing, I looked out the window and smiled. "My mountains!" God, I suddenly couldn't wait to get home to my lil' place, my cheap guitar and my zany batch of new buddies. Once in the door, I was so happy that I laid on the floor and did carpet angels, with my cat mashing her head into my armpit.

And the tug-o-war continues …

Thursday, March 15, 2007

SXSW: Musical Surprises

The music portion of SXSW has begun here in Austin, which means a sudden influx of musicians, producers, managers, roadies, groupies and just plain ol' music fans. It is also Spring Break for University of Texas so that boulevard of debauchery, 6th Street, now blocked off to car traffic, is officially on a bender. Everyone is either a hipster or a student or Me.

Yesterday - or was it the day before? - I saw five films and fittingly, three had to do with music:

The day began with "Companeras", a documentary about Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, the world's first all-female mariachi band. (Anything regarding LadyFirsts, I'm all over it.) Going against the "man's world" of mariachi, these young musicians elbow their way into their own unique space, juggling their art, jobs, school, husbands and children all the while. In one scene, a 16-year-old band member sings an ancient Mexican love song, "Albur de Amore" and despite never having been in love herself, her rendition left me misty-eyed and speechless. I want the CDs and yes, I want the outfits.

The next was a two-hour doc classic, "Let's Get Lost" about famed jazz singer/trumpeter, Chet Baker. I'd only vaguely heard of Baker - my jazz knowledge is fairly limited to the big names. Apparently, this film was a classic; released in 1989, it included interviews during the final year of Baker's life. The director, Bruce Weber, was there for the screening, which always makes it a special occasion. Seems Baker was a phenomenal talent but, unfortunately, he was also a drug addict and a thoughtless asshole. Sometimes you see these blazing phenomenons get crushed under the weight of their own gift. Sad.

Finally, I attended the World Premiere of "Dirty Country" probably one of my favorite films so far this year. Meet Larry Pierce, a regular Joe who lives in a small Indiana town, works at a factory, has been married for 24 years and is the father of two children. Larry also has a hobby, he plays guitar and writes songs ... dirty songs, really dirty songs ... unbelievably filthy songs. Song with titles like "Porking You is Always On My Mind", "Will You Swallow My Cum?" and "Sleep Right Next to Your Pussy."

So, Larry has been playing these songs to the delight of his friends and family (including his wife and mother) for years, performing in his garage since it makes the local bar crowd uncomfortable. He records under the Laughing Hyena record label which sells them at truck stops across the nation. This has been going on for about a dozen years and Larry has put out about 14 albums.

Meanwhile, a rock band out of Colorado Springs, CO named Itis, has been covering Larry's songs for years. They idolize Larry and can't quite believe he's real. The documentary is about bringing Larry and Itis together to perform and the result is beyond fun. Hard to believe but despite the film being set to songs like "Every Time I Shit" and "Worthless Cunt", this is one of the sweeter documentaries I have seen in a long time. First of all, despite the dirty lyrics, Larry is one of the kindest and humblest people you will ever meet. He adores his wife and when interviewed, she insists he is a gentle, romantic soul and their steady love is quite evident.

After the screening - once the entire audience was firmly enamored of Larry - the directors got up and announced there would a party down the street with free beer - we were all invited! Furthermore, Larry and Itis would be perfoming, making their Texas debut. Of course, I had planned on going straight home - I was dead dog tired - but how could I possibly pass this up???

I got a chance to chat with both Larry and his wife. (Sandy? Sally? I can't remember.) Both were sweet as pie and Larry was very gracious to everyone. I approached him at the beginning, "Hey, Larry, do you have any CDs for sale?" He said he did, grabbed my hand and we went off looking. The boxes hadn't been opened yet so I was thrilled to make the first post-doc purchases.

Later, when Larry was formally introduced to the load roar his new fans, he high-fived me on his way to the stage. I was THRILLED. When he launched into the crowd pleasing, "Good Hard Fuckin'", you saw a hard working man finally getting his due. Larry was positively beside himself - it was a long way from his Indiana garage. I looked over at his wife who was positively beaming with love. My friend leaned over and said to her, "Bet you didn't know you'd married a rock star!" She just smiled and then started dancing.

Larry Pierce makes everyone happy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

SXSW: Heroes Everywhere

Once again, I am completely inspired by the intense focus and dedication of the people around me, no matter the intention.

The photo at left shows two of the stars of "Confessions of a Superhero" hanging out in the press room. The film documents the people who take it upon themselves to dress up as superheroes for the delight of Hollywood tourists. Apparently, they begin to take on the characters in a serious way and ultimately have to deal with identity crisis. I'm screening this tonight - should be interesting.

Of course, at right is legendary news anchor, Dan Rather. While I was always more of a Tom Brokaw gal, Fang has enlightened me to the hokey ways of Rather - so human and brimming with great intent - the man has my respect. He spoke yesterday and the one hour was, quite frankly, too short. He talked about the dangers of a journalist getting too cozy with their sources, "You get so close that you become part of the problem." He had a ton of great quotes but my favorite: "I've never really liked the term 'investigative reporting', it seems redundant to me."

My first screening of the day was "Audience of One", a documentary about an evangelical minister who sees his first film at age 40 ("The Lion King" of all things) and receives a message from God to build a movie studio and make biblical films. It's a hard film to watch because the guy has no clue whatsoever yet he drags his entire congregation (First Pentecostal Church in San Francisco) along with him. They travel to Italy with no shot list and no idea how to load film. They burn through thousands of dollars and, at the end of it all, end up with two shots. To my surprise, the preacher dude showed up to the screening after watching an audience of mostly filmmakers laugh at his misguided naivete. When asked in the Q&A how it felt to watch this documentary, he said, "It felt like watching yourself go to the toilet." Still, he talked on about how he was not swayed but realized he just had to learn more. Said he woke up one day and thought, "Wow, look at me. I'm a fat, white, cracker preacher. How can I do something extreme and think outside the box?" He wanted to change, to do something different in his ministry and for that, the man has my respect, even though I think he is nuts.

I then attended a panel: "Do You Blog on the First Date?" It included bunch of romance and sex columnists (i.e., Carrie Bradshaw) who blog about their personal lives as a paid profession - all women, of course. I went because as an amateur blogger, I was curious to see how they dealt with it as a job. Bottom line, they have mixed feelings but it certainly seemed to wreak havoc with their personal lives. I certainly didn't blame the men in their lives who felt weird about it. One woman said that when she starts dating a guy, she tells him what she does for a living with this caveat: "I won't blog about you until you dump me and then you are fair game." Oh, wow ... that'll get him in the mood, fer sure. Then someone else asked, "What about if you dump him?" And she said: "Same thing." Which led to another question: "Do you take notes as the relationship is going along to post later when he's out of your life?" She admitted that she did. Ugh. I'm no Princess of Blogger Piety here but that seems a bit sordid to me. It made me quite happy not to be a pro-blogger, on this topic, at least. My romantic life has enough challenges as it is.

"Knocked Up" - The latest film from Judd Apatow, starring Seth Rogen ("Freaks and Geeks" and "40-Year-Old Virgin") and Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy") about two opposites who spend a drunken night together and part ways, until she finds out she is pregnant. Admittedly, I only went to see this film because I know this will get distributed widely (coming out in June) and I need those films for the listeners of the radio show - the entire reason I am here. ("Movie Magazine International" on 90.3FM KUSF-FM out of San Francisco but broadcast nationally.) The film is so hysterically funny and yet rather poignant. Ben (Rogen) is an unemployed stoner who hangs out with a gang of equally unambitious gents while Allison Heigl) is on the TV entertainment fast track. When a fetus starts growing between them, they decide to try and make it work and awkward hilarity ensues. The real treat was watching Rogen and Paul Rudd, who plays Allison's brother-in-law, Pete, connect comedically. Some things never change.

"Smiley Face": At last! The world's first stoner movie told from an entirely female perspective! Oh, how long we stoner gals have waited for this. Anna Faris is Jane F., an out of work actress who accidentally ingests her roommate's pot-laced cupcakes on top of already being very stoned and she tries go about her day and make things right again. (This actually happened to me in college, when I accidentally ate a roommate's pot brownie and then went to work driving a limo on New Year's Eve on one of the foggiest nights in Los Angeles. FUCKING SCARY.) The film is so authentic - especially for any stoner who has had long extended inner conversations.

An apology: While I had every intention of attending the screening of "What Would Jesus Buy?" I actually made a geographical miscalculation and ended up in the wrong theatre. When the lights dimmed and sub-titles popped up, I realized my mistake but since I'd already ordered my french fries and was snuggled in, I opted to stay for "Exiled" a Hong Kong action flick that was actually quite enjoyable, very Sergio Leone and with a great mix of violent grit and silly brotherly behavior. A shoot 'em up flick that I probably would have not seen otherwise, such is the inevitable magic of SXSW.

I tried to go to a midnight screening last night of "Kenny" a loving portrait of a porta-potty cleaner in Australia who dispenses wisdom and insight at every turn. His philosophy: "Everybody poops," seems like something thatI could relate to. However, a torrential thunder/lightening storm damped my mood, as did my inability to locate the correct theatre on the map.

We'll give it another try today ...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

SXSW: Blogs and Docs

Sorry but I’ve got to get this out of the way … Last year at SXSW, I was woozy with new-found outta-the-blue-sky Love. I was smitten beyond belief with a man who proved pivotal in my life – my U-Haul ended up in Denver instead of Austin, as I’d originally planned. Though I lovelovelove my new home in Denver, admittedly, I feel a tug here – right down to my Lone Star ring and cowgirl boots. Urf.

My hosts this year came out of friendships formed at last year’s festival. A beautiful, incredible couple who recently moved from Manhattan – their spacious Round Rock home stands in large contrast to their tiny New York flat.

Anyway, enough about me – let’s get on with it …

I sit here now, awaiting the SXSW Interactive Festival’s opening remarks by Kathy Sierra, a really smart woman I’ve never heard of. The place is packed and she’s going to talk about “creating passionate users” which I don’t understand. However, I think attending the keynotes is crucial – these folks are on the schedule for a reason, I figure. There are people sitting on the floor and there are two spillover rooms that will broadcast her words over speakers so whatever she has to say must bed worth hearing.

This morning, I attended my first documentary – the first of many this week. “A Hard Road Home” focused on the mission of Exodus, a non-profit organization made up of ex-cons who help other recently released felons find their meaningful role in society and above all, avoid a return to a life behind bars. The director, Macky Alston, spoke prior to the film’s screening and nervously stated that we were the film’s first audience, “So go easy on us.”

The film illustrated the incredible love that the Exodus ‘family’ offers to one another, even when they stumble and fall back into bad habits. Julio Medina, the leader of Exodus, a respected family man who had spent most of his 20s behind bars for drug trafficking, is a father figure to many who have lost their way. One is Griffick, a young hood who wants to turn his life around. His transformation – especially when he first dons an interview suit and works on his language patterns – is so heartwarming, you can’t help but root for him. After the film, the filmmakers plus Julio and Griffick, showed up to answer questions. This was the first time they had seen the film as well and they received a massive standing ovation. They were tickled pink. (Mackey shot 100 hours over eight months – a question I always ask so I can grasp the amount of editing work that goes into such a project – down to 73 minutes.)

The photo shows a random appearance on the streets of Austin by the stars of “What Would Jesus Buy?” a film I have yet to see – it screens on Sunday evening. At the helm, Reverend Billy followed by The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir. Apparently, this focuses on how consumerism has swallowed up the Xmas holiday. Looking forward to that!

By the way, I’m typing this in the plush press room (God Bless press passes!) beneath a giant poster of The Governator for a film called “Running With Arnold.” Hope I get to see that – I notice there are a ton more films this year that focus on the political process. Perfect to get me in the mood for the Democratic Convention in Denver next year.

Finally, another photo shows a gal in a typical state of organized disarray. At SXSW, we are bombarded with so much STUFF – schedules, film catalogues, panel descriptions, promotional crap, magazine, flyers, party invitations and on and on and on. On top of all that, everyone is blogging about it, taking photos or documenting the experience in some capacity. It’s madness I tell you … MADNESS!

Anyway, I asked if I could take her photo to demonstrate what most of us look like in between films/panels and whatnot and she gamely agreed, “As long as you link to my site!” Such a typical SXSW response. She turned out to be Liza Sabater of and told me she was going to be on a panel, “The Digital Enthnorati” about minority engagement on the web. “Um, can white people come too?” I asked. Turns out, we can.

Finally, I’m about to check out the interactive trade show since I am UP TO HERE with the limits of Blogger. I'm appreciative of getting me started and all but hell’s bells, I need me a new format, something more photo-essay-ish and sound-file friendly. As Truman pointed out, sometimes writing is just typing.

Monday, March 05, 2007

An Unfamiliar Feeling

As previously mentioned, my taste in women is superb and my ladyfriend standards, incredibly high. Many agree that I have a noticeable talent for selecting only the cream-of-the-crop females to be in my life. While I recognize tendencies amongst some women to be competitive with one another, I always marvel at my opposing urge to protect them.

Most of the time, these bad ass ladies don't need my protection but I like to stand guard at all times just the same. The offense could be anything - bad bosses, neglectful boyfriends, rude waiters or an accidental splashing of mud but in a society that often lacks chivalry, I try to fill a gap somehow. Hear me now - my allegiance to the sisterhood is strong.

Which is why I find it so alarming that I would like to beat the highlights out of conservative supermouth, Ann Coulter. I'm not sure which upsets me more, that she exists and is famous or that she – a woman! – inspires within me such a violent reaction. More specifically, a longing desire to run her over with a Hummer and then set them both aflame. (This fantasy also involves me simultaneously smoking a giant spliff and wearing nothing but an American flag but that's for my therapist to ponder.) This is the kind of reaction that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity could only dream about fearing from me.

Honestly, I could snap that spindly bitch in half in 10 seconds flat only to be dragged away in whistling "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and consider my life completely fulfilled.

Y'see what I mean? This ugly side of me gets stirred up every time she spits out something particularly vulgar, such as her recent usage of the word "faggot" to describe John Edwards. (Mind you, this is in no defense of Edwards, who promptly used the ensuring media frenzy to his fundraising advantage.) Honestly, I can't help myself when it comes that hateful skanky witch, I just go ballistic. It's not healthy. She makes me want to grow my nails long specifically to claw her eyes out when normally a cat fight is my personal idea of hell. I recently told a friend, "If we ever get in a fight, I would just apologize and give in immediately, whether I was right or not. I don't like fighting with women."

Could it be that I am confused within myself because I hold the female gender is such high regard and this hair-flipping cunt-face is not worthy to own ovaries? It is not because we disagree, there are women in my life who are conservatives, staunch Republicans, born-again Christians, dedicated Catholics and a bunch of other things that I reject or can't relate to but that never gets in the way of me loving them. We may argue or debate but I never feel a desire to chop all their hair off and stuff it into their mouths until they suffocate. Nor do I entertain fantasies of kidnapping them and dressing them up in a Las Vegas showgirl costume and dropping them inside Mecca during hajj. I'm just not that kind of girl - I support slumber parties , giggling and clothing exchanges. So why instead do I imaagine AC's slow death by a thousand-State-Department-press-release-paper-cuts-followed-by-a-
pineapple-juice-bath? Otherwise, I'm quite loving. No, really.

Oh, dear. I just realized that I may, indeed, need to seek counseling for this. While my hatred for Dick Cheney is widely known (still gunning for my own FBI folder), I try to refrain from wishing him stone cold dead. Mind you, I have certainly wished painful ass boils on his physical being but nothing life threatening. I feel like it may not be good karma, no matter how much that scheming motherfucker deserves it.

This loathesome whore, however, is a different story. Not only do I envision a time when the world is blissfully Ann Coulter-free, I also imagine the long process of her painful demise. Perhaps a public bleacher set up and maybe some high-grade explosives? Some tar and feathers just to get the party started?

See, now what is THAT? Oh, how the bile rises within me whenever her pond scum-self reappears. My ugliness ends up matching hers and then, we are left with zero, are we not?

On the world/political stage, men will be dicks - that's just what they do. They start wars, they build bombs, the become dictators, they proliferate stupidity, etc. (Personally, however, I still think they are swell and couldn't live without them.) Within the Congress, the Senate and any other legislature throughout the world, plenty of folks - both male and female – make bad decision, the wrong choices, say hurtful things. Ladies such as Karen Hughes, Condi Rice and even Laura "The First Fembot" Bush draw my ire, make me roll my eyes, piss me off and so on but I would NEVER wish these women any harm. Furthermore, I have some begrudging respect for what each one does even though it is about 180 degrees from where I stand.

Ann, however, serves no purpose other than to spew ugliness, flip her idiot head and pretend she's Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct." Quite frankly, my own anger towards another woman scares me half to death but she makes Barbara Bush, the biggest Mama Bear Bitch to ever open her mouth, seem downright cuddly.

I can only conclude that Ann is not only NOT a female but, in fact, not human at all. She is made up of twigs, stretched leather, a bad wig and dentures all enhanced by a 45nm processing chip that is programmed to simulate human behavior. (Has anyone checked her birth certificate? Does it say "Birthplace: Fourth Rock from the Sun"?)

So … stay with me now … the words and movements of this crazy ugly alien and/or robot are controlled remotely by an evil scientist who wants to take over the world or start WWIII or some crazy shit like that … and he sits at a desk in a New Mexico underground compound eating Hot Pockets and Red Bull …and laughing to himself about easy it is to stir the pot of normally level-headed folks and make them turn on each other. In the movie version, he would undoubtedly be played by Dennis Hopper.

Whew. Okay, I'm going to buy into this for the good of womankind. Let's hope it sticks. Speaking of sticking, I could always invest in this … I've got a box of pins around here somewhere …

Friday, March 02, 2007

Next Stop: American Idol

Against my better judgment, I committed karaoke last night. I met up with some folks at Armida's and really just wanted to retrieve my hat and gloves from a friend who had them. Still, I'm a sucker for peer pressure and a beckoning stage so I knew it was simply a matter of time. To access my courage, I ordered the biggest beer they could carry; I had to lift it with two hands – perfect! Then I ordered some beef tamales and began perusing their overwhelmingly comprehensive song catalogue.

There were a handful of talented folks present who could honestly go pro – including one Stevie Nicks-looking chick who actually sounds better than Stevie does now - but more importantly, there many more who were just plain awful. These people instantly become my heroes. Within each terrible, off-key voice was a quiet urging: "Look at me! I have no musical skills whatsoever! You've got nothing to lose! Tra-la-friggin'-la!" I loved them all.

But none as much as the tall cowboy guy who brought up a stuffed dog (for support?) and a tambourine supplement. I can't even recall what the songs were since he was determined to make them his own. He also incorporated some fancy dance moves and as I watched (trust me, it was better than listening) his long leather denim-ed legs attempt fancy choreography, I felt a strange mixture of admiration and disgust. Kinda like how I felt when Hunter S. Thompson offed himself.

The guy was clearly a freak and so naturally, we became instant friends. He offered his business card and "The Sicilian Clown" has no less than five aliases (though he introduced himself as "Randy") and professes to be a comedian ("Professional Smart Ass!"), singer, percussionist, dancer, actor, promoter and "Wise Guy." To the left of all this info was some random clip art of a teddy bear with hearts. Bonkers? Pretty much. However, I prefer to regard him as an eccentric individualist since sanity is highly over-rated and painfully common.

At one point, three young girls got up and did a Vanilla Ice rap, which caused me to comment: "There's something strange about watching three white girls impersonate a white guy who impersonates black guys." But hey, that's just me.

As for my singing debut, I eventually decided on Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" since it appeared lively party music inspired the entire room sing along and would thus drown out my flat, cracked voice. (It was between that and Donna Summers' "Bad Girls.") However, this plan backfired when I quickly realized that there were not nearly enough gay men in the room for this strategy to work – no one really knew the song!

Ever the quick-thinking stage hog, I opted to make it a physical comedy routine when telling the sad, sad story of Lola, the showgirl, who ended as a lonely old woman wearing her aged cha-cha feathers in a bar and marinating herself to death. Funny stuff, huh? I tried to leave my audience with a very clear warning: "DON'T … fall in love!" I think Lola learned a lesson for all of us, truly.

When I got back to the table, my new friends assured me I had "stage presence" which may have been a nice way of saying that perhaps a tambourine would've helped ... ?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Quick Pick-Me Up

Not sure why but I am feeling kinda blue, icky or just plain bored, this ad is like fizzy water on my brain and perks me right up. Delightful. It sure in the hell wouldn't play in Kansas ...

Any one else feel the same?