Friday, December 28, 2007

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Can Learn From Four Days in South Louisiana

1. Contrary to popular belief, six year old children are actually quite capable of deftly maneuvering gallon jugs of J&B and, because of that, make most excellent bartenders. What's even better is, they'll never cut you off. Louisianans really understand the value of giving a child a job.

2. If you happen to find yourself at the bleak outer reaches of New Orleans, say, somewhere at or near a Comfort Inn on the corner of Idaho Avenue and Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Kenner, never fear. You are in actuality only about five minutes and a $4.78 cab ride from a night of merriment, courtesy one fully operational Daiquiri Chef and, another block down the street, the venerable Harbor Seafood and Oyster Bar, where six bucks and a little bit of patience will earn you one dozen of the plumpest, juiciest mollusk critters known to man. So I ate about sixty bazillion.

3. Don't bother buying cookbooks. Make sufficient rounds to friends and family and eventually you'll score enough recipes to ensure the luggage handlers at the Southwest ticket counter a hernia all over again. Moi, I came back with a few good ones. Like my mother-in-law's swear-to-Gawd, 100 percent fool proof, money back guaranteed microwave praline recipe. I know, huh? Microwaved pralines? But I couldn't tell the difference. And since I loves me some pralines something fierce but have to be in just the right mood to make them by scratch (i.e., stone cold sober and paying military precision-like attention to what I'm doing) I will definitely be making up a batch of these in the near future and posting the results on da baking blob. Just as soon as I run these extra ten bazillion pounds off Moi's ass.

4. Speaking of which. You know how nobody walks in El Lay? Well, no body runs in South Louisiana. At least not on purpose. Even though they're situated at sea level, a condition guaranteed to shave at least 34.75 seconds off whatever per mile time marks your usual trudge and, if employed as a regular method of exercise, allow one (Moi) the ability to ingest an extra couple slices of pecan pie after each meal with hardly any caloric gain. But no. I guess these people figure they get all the cardiovascular benefit they need lifting the following: Beer bottles. Forks. Guns.

(Oh, and for anyone who's wondering: eight days later and da dawg still stinks.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Heart

Look at the fabulous CD cover the fabulously talented She made Moi for Christmas! I'm posting it up here because it just tickles Moi pink, it's so brilliant.

It will also serve as the place marker for my last post for a few days. But if all goes well, if Southwest Airlines arrives in New Orleans in a relatively timely manner, if Baby Jesus blesses us with an up and running Daiquiri Shack, and if we can likewise grab 'n' go us a couple oyster po' boys, in exactly 50 hours, ten minutes, and some odd seconds, I should be feeling groovy enough to send you my next post from the wilds of the South Louisiana suburbs. Louisiana, Party People. It does a Moi's heart (and stomach) good.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Blessed Solstice to you all!

* * *

P.S.: The Pirate just tagged Moi. And I feel a strange compulsion to obey. Perhaps it's because she gets up at 5:00 every morning to swim and I don't (in fact, I'm coming up with some pretty darn good excuses why I don't even want to go running on this gloriously sunshiny, snow-dappled day.)

So, to procrastinate further:

Five Interesting Things Involving the Number Five. About Moi:

1. Five is the number of the age I wish I could revert back to for one day each week. Because at five, you're not required to have a job – heck, you're not even required to be in school – and you're certainly not required to juggle any kind of grown up stuff like politics and hassles with plumbers. And Christmas is so lovely when you're five. It's just you and the presents. Nothing more, nothing less. Unless your parents forget to buy batteries for your new Malibu Barbie Sports Car. That kinda sucks, at five.

2. Five is the number of husbands Moi is afraid she's going to have to limit herself to, with S.B. being primary, of course. Because the list is simply getting too ungainly. As much as I'd like to include up and comers like Daniel Craig and Pablo Nutini, I'm afeared it's going to have to work thusly, for the sanity of all involved:

1. S.B.
2. Johnny Depp
3. Ewan McGregor
4. Jack White
5. Bruce Willis

3. Five is the number of shoes - excluding athletic footwear – I would like to limit myself to in the New Year, in an effort to take a more Zen approach to material goods: One pair of heeled brown boots. One pair of heeled black boots. One pair of low heeled, English riding-style boots. One pair of black patent leather peep toe pumps. One pair of brown leather flat sandals. One pair of espadrille-style sling back . . . Oh, hell, who am I kidding. Never mind.

4. On the other hand, five is the exact number of winter running pants folded neatly in Moi's closet. Not because I hate to do laundry (there's your Zen right there, Party People), but because do you KNOW how many winter running pants styles there are out there and if I just keep trying, ONE of them will make Moi's ass look just right.

5. Five is the number of movies I currently am chomping at the bit to go see in the theaters:

1. Sweeney Todd
2. The Golden Compass
3. Charlie Wilson's War (although it looks to Moi like Julia Roberts has been horribly miscast)
4. I Am Legend (Will Smith was hard in the running for husband #5, believe Moi)
5. Into the Wild (even though I simply cannot tolerate Sean Penn, but the soundtrack sounds marvelous and "Hard Sun" has been running on the iPod for ages)

(But not: Atonement. Christ on a Cracker am I the only person who hated that book?)

Oh, and I tag Meghan, because most likely all she has to do is take five fabulous photos.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

If I'mbuh soundinguh widdle fuddy, dat's becauf I'm writing dis post wid a cloze pid on Moi's nodz.

Becauf at exactly 6:47 dis morning, while od our walk wid Ibin, duh widdle fudcker decided to tangle wid dis cweature:

Dat would be Mephitis mephitis (get it?), or duh common striped skunk. Who wud ambwin down duh paf sniffing duh trail of a nest of wobin's eggs dat had bwown from a twee. Sure nuf, whed Ibin spotted it he wed bwalistic and chawged. And got spwayed bout ted bazillion times.

Hab you all eber sbelled skunk? Id mudst be duh worst sbell knowd to Gawd ad man in duh ubiverse. An' you eber try to get it oud a dawg fur? Da forbula: 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 Tablespoon dish washing liquid. Mix up. Chase dawg dowd. Catch dawg. Howd dawg. Rub in fur. Rinse ab repeat. Sdiff dawg to see if sbell gone. Throw up cause id not. Repeat.

Gib up.

Fidally let dawg id house. Boil ciddamon in water and burd ebry caddle in da house. Throw up again.

Seribously consider puddin a bading suit and some flid flops in ad obernight bag and takin duh first flight oud of here to St. Bart's. Decide against it becauf dat wud leab S.B. all alodne with Ibin and hid funk. Bud S.B. says he can't smbell it at all. Moi, I neber not sbell it. I sbell it all day. Id sbell it all night. I sbell it until duh day I die.

Fudkin' hell. Dat's what I get for puddin a bow od duh dawg's hed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Tis Better to Give than to . . . Get Knocked Up?

(Goodness. What a morning. There I was, putting the finishing touches on Moi’s Christmas post, when the Today Show bombarded the airwaves with yet another shock and awe pronouncement: Britney Spear’s sixteen-year-old-sister, Jamie Lynn, has managed to get herself knocked up. Sweet Jeebus in Heaven, these girls are old enough to drop the equivalent of Peru’s GNP on Bottega Veneta bags and oversized Dolce and Gabbana eye wear, but they don’t know from birth control?

It’s taking a great amount of will for Moi to refrain from completely revamping this morning’s post. But because we’re in the middle of Advent here, Party People, a holy, holy time, I will place my commentary on said incident reluctantly on the back burner and save it for a later date [sloppy ass 'ho.])

* * *

The closer I get to the holidays, the more I start thinking about stress. The stress of extra work. Or not enough work because everyone has decided to adopt a cavalier attitude about deadlines (what, suddenly, we’re all European?). The stress of trying, when you have a fractured and far-flung family, to fit in days with the in-laws and days with the parents and days with the niece and days with friends.

Then there’s the stress that builds around gift giving. I know people who find this custom so meaningless, so mired in useless commercial excess, they don’t even stick around for the holidays but instead steal themselves away to some tropical beach or small overseas town where Christmas is more about praising Baby Jesus and stuffing one's face, and not so much about desperate, last minute purchases.

But you can’t escape Christmas. It’s like death and taxes, only sparklier and with more booze.

So I try hard, real hard, to turn the frown upside down and to view the holiday as a time of giving and gratefulness. As a time to honor one’s family, even crazy uncle Charlie with the grubby fingers and the weird politics. To call a long lost friend, even though the last time you spoke, they made fun of your shoes. To spend an afternoon – stone cold sober, mind you – letting a child run wild through Toys ‘R’ Us even if it ultimately means they choose one of those abhorrent Hannah Montana dolls over your suggested gift of an ant farm. And I try to spend even more time in the great outdoors, not just because exercise melts stress, but also to wonder all over again at the magic of creation that constructed itself just fine without concrete and glass. And to marvel at the concrete and glass, too, because they're also beautiful and also part of our world.

I also refuse to pass judgment on any gift I receive. Whether given out of obligation or irony or love, I will honor the fact that someone took the time to think of me, dip into their pocketbooks, and come up with something they think I’ll enjoy. Even if it’s a plastic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer who poops root beer flavored jellybeans. Even if, for some bizarre reason, something about Moi says Birkenstock rather than Blahnik.

And you know what else I won’t do? I won’t re-gift. Now that's a crass practice, right there. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, I got this laser-powered-toe-nail-clipper-blender-drink-maker-nylon-life-preserver-
sweater last year and you know, I just can’t use it. Would you like it?” And of course, it’s perfectly okay to just give the thing away to a local thrift shop in the hopes that it will become some else’s love at first sight. At a mere $1.99.

But it’s another thing entirely to package the thing up, re-wrap in brightly colored paper, stick a big fat red bow on it and pass it off to someone as something you picked out all by your lonesome. Talk about sin, Party People.

Don’t do it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mute Monday: Role Models

The only thing an artist has to remember is to never lose faith in his vision.

The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life
is the source from which self-respect springs.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve,
not by the desire to beat others.

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living;
the world owes you nothing; it was here first.

Is not this the true romantic feeling - not to desire to escape life,
but to prevent life from escaping you?

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Unabashedly Optimistic Friday

In the semi-sort-of spirit of the bloggers out there who spark our creativity (or at least ensure we have an increasing supply of new ways in which to blow entire work days) with such things as Mute Mondays and Friday's Feast I would like to declare today: Unabashedly Optimistic Friday.

(Yeah, yeah, it's one day only, but hey. Kinda hard to be that optimistic every Friday of one's life. But let's at least give it a go for today, shall we?)

Today's optimism theme was actually inspired by a sign in the margins of The Two Dog Blog that reads:

(Don't you just love that?)

The Two Dog Blog is a recent discovery of mine. And I love, love, love it. Not only because it's written by Landis Smithers, the über cute (le sigh) creative director for Old Navy Stores who lives with his husband and two pit bulls in San Francisco, hence combining two of my loves - bull dawgs and well made but inexpensive basic fashion - but also because in everything he writes, Landis projects such a wonderfully sunny, optimistic attitude towards life, you just want to jump right through the screen and join him.

So tell Moi: What, if anything, makes you think that life is not meant for misery and pain and badly made shoes, but instead for enjoying its great big fat bowls of cherries in all their variety. With whipped cream. And sprinkles.

(Oh, and don't forget to tip toe over to Da Baking Blob for a bit of end-of-week fun.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Insert Requisite Yeats Quote Here

(NOTE: *Spoiler alert in seventh paragraph.*)

No County For Old Men
is shockingly heavy for a Hollywood production. Usually, Tinseltown deals with issues of right and wrong, good versus evil, with all the dexterity of a three year old wielding a blowtorch. In fact, the entire industry seems run by increasingly short-distanced thinkers trying to pass off undersized ruminations on sex, football, the flag, and the occasional misbehaving businessman as Big Ideas.

But directors Joel and Ethan Coen thankfully prove themselves up to the task of creating a film that, for all its violence, serves as an unusually multi-layered morality tale – nerve jarring, hauntingly beautiful and, yes, cautionary. Although flashes of their signature deep black humor serve on occasion as relief from the persistent violence, the movie is not a satire nor does it ever for one moment sink into tongue-in-cheekery.

The soundtrack alone clues us into the fact that the Coens are dead serious about their topic. You won’t hear swelling strings or screeching horns (much less one single inappropriately interjected pop song). Instead, about the only accompaniment to the action other than dialogue are the staccato bursts of gunfire, the desperate gasps of men facing death, the stealthy crunch of truck tires along a lonesome gravel road, and the animalistic howl of the relentless, ever-present wind.

The Coens have also managed to coax some of the year’s most inspired performances out of their actors: Tommy Lee Jones doing what he does best; Josh Brolin's revelatory balance of intense physicality and spare emotion; and Javier Bardem, who gamely sports one of the weirdest hairdos known to modern filmdom yet nonetheless manages to create a walking personification of evil so bone deep chilling it’s right up there with Peter Lorrie in M. Kudos as well to the always welcome Woody Harrelson (please, work more), and to the Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald who dons a Texan accents as easily as sipping a glass of water.

Then there’s the landscape itself. The movie opens with the vision of a west Texas so stark and bleached-out, it can only be meant for tragedy. We meet that tragedy soon enough, precipitated by a middle of nowhere drug deal gone wrong and the theft of its cache of millions by a discontented, nothing-to-lose welder (Brolin). Into the mix is thrown Tom Bell (Jones) the stalwart long-time sheriff who is nonetheless still capable of incredulity in the face of violence. At one point in the movie, after reading a newspaper account of a couple who not only rob their neighbors, but then torture them to death and bury them in the backyard, he asks his deputy, “Who ARE these people?”

Denizens of some formless nihilistic milieu that escapes everyday understanding? Or, as a minor character describes later on, part and parcel of an ever-present, ever-shifting tidal wave of havoc and horror?

* Either way, we're introduced to one of these denizens soon enough, a killer-for-hire named Anton Chigurh (Bardem) who possesses a near supernatural, Terminator-like unstoppability and an offhand tendency to decide his victims’ fate with the toss of a coin. When one of them refuses to make the call, saying a coin toss is no way to decide if one lives or dies, the killer will just have to decide, Chigurh shrugs and says, “But I got here the same way the coin did.” *

Indeed. Although Chigurh has been sent to recover the stolen cache, profit, another character tells us, is not his goal. Instead, he operates off not just a peculiar, but a wholly unfathomable set of motives.

If then, as the story suggests, evil is relentless, purposeless, and as haphazard as the toss of a coin, and good is the conscious decision to try and stop it, one hand crossing its fingers, the other on the butt of a gun, then what of those who reside in the gray spaces in between? Well, let’s just say, you don’t dance with the devil in the pale moonlight and then not return his calls the next day.

If there’s any relief at all, it comes in the moments that make up the movie’s ending. Yes, contrary to the bitching and moaning of about half the theater after the lights come up, this movie does have one. Listen for it. You’ll hear in its final words a message that almost wipes the entire bloody slate clean.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


You know what that sound is? It's the sound of one Moi stuffing. Cookies. Into her mouth (what?!? I ran today!), while writing down her thoughts on No Country For Old Men before Aunty Belle never sends any of that southern sugar-coated hospitality Moi's way again. (It sucks to be snubbed by a southerner).

In the meantime, click on over to Moi's baking blob for the secret to the cookie that makes S.B. a happy, happy man.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dawg Tired?

Too ding dang bad.

Put on your Party Shoes, Party People, pour yourself a glass of champagne and get going. It's Blog Party Weekend!

Two things I know for sure:

1. I'm wearing these shoes and I don't care.

2. I need a really beeg drink.

Cheers to all!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Someone Let the Dogs Out; They'll Show You Where the Truth Is

The old man’s got a set of wrinkles on his face from living a life most of us will never expose ourselves to: one spent largely outdoors, coaxing subsistence from a patch of land along the river that’s been in his family over 300 years. A two-pack-a-day life spent worrying, figuring, calculating, gauging – everything from the weather to a neighbor’s intent. It all has weight. He doesn't know from SPF, from lung cancer, from the health benefits of green tea or the cholesterol-fighting properties of red wine. So he most certainly isn’t going to know why this spay/neuter business is so important.

But he’s brought his dog in anyway. A six month old Shepherd mix wrapped in an over sized towel that he carries in his arms like a baby.

“Is it gonna hurt him?” he asks me, nodding down at the bundle in his arms. The dog blinks its big brown eyes at me but otherwise keeps still in his owner’s arms. “He’s a good dog, you know? I’d hate to lose him.”

I understand how he feels. I spent part of my childhood on a ranch we rented from a local cattle baron. When my father was on break from teaching high school science, he helped our landlord with the herd – everything from castrating the bulls to branding, birthing, and herding. So I know just how valuable a good dog can be.

But that was a long time ago. Today, I’m just a middle class white chick trying to explain to someone from another universe about why we need to stem the flow of unwanted animals into our city’s shelters.

Once upon a time, I didn’t know from spay or neuter. Growing up, we pretty much let our animals do their thing. When our dogs had pups, what the coyotes and hawks didn’t get, we kept or gave away. There was always need for a good dog – to herd, to guard, to hunt, to retrieve. They didn’t go to waste.

But what of dogs today? Many people are indifferent to them. Many purport to love them. But in my experience, few understand them. That many of them languish, woefully unused and misunderstood, crosses all socio-economic barriers, from the short-chained backyard barrio pit bull to the over nurtured poodle whose upper crust owner invests it with a bus load of unmet needs but who has never taken it on a hike, thrown it a ball, run it on an agility course.

Witness the call I received early this year from a woman desperate to figure out why her pit bull/Labrador retriever cross was tearing up her home when she was gone. She told me she'd consulted a pet psychic who said her dog was "stuck" emotionally. Refraining from calling her a complete nut job, I instead firmly suggested she try some hard physical exercise. You know, give the dog something to do. The woman was a distance runner but for some bizarre reason had never thought of taking her dog with her. Duh!

You know there's a big disconnect between how we feel about our pets and how we truly meet their needs when even Wayne Pacelle, president of the world’s biggest so-called animal welfare organization, the Humane Society of the United States, admits he has no real understanding of or connection to animals.

In Ted Kerasote’s marvelous book Bloodties Pacelle admits: "I don't have a hands-on fondness for animals. To this day, I don't feel bonded to any particular nonhuman animal. I like them and I pet them and I'm kind to them, but there's no special bond between me and other animals. . . . It's more of an intellectual/philosophical motivation than it is hands-on."


Remember those words, the next time you’re tempted to donate to the Humane Society. It’s an organization that, along with the domestic terrorist group PETA, operates not one single animal shelter anywhere in the world. Yet these are organizations that control bank accounts totaling over $100 million each. Where does all that money go? Certainly NOT to the frightened animal toughing it out on a cold concrete floor at your local pound.


The fact remains that in this country alone, we slaughter between 6 and 8 million cats and dogs, puppies and kittens in municipal animal shelters each year. Your tax dollars pay for that slaughter, Party People. Even worse, think of the terrible, sickening waste. Of creatures we plucked from the wild and domesticated to work side-by-side with us – to hunt our food, keep our pests at bay, protect our children, offer us companionship during and after a hard day’s work. Think of the awful betrayal of that contract.

Turning my attention back to the old man, I assure him his dog is going to be just fine. All he has to do is limit its activity for about a week. Oh, and bring him in these next couple nights. It’s critical the dog remain warm and dry.

For the first time, the old man relaxes his face and smiles. “Oh, that’s no problem. He sleeps on the bed anyway.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

All I Want for Christmas

Dear Santa,
I know you’re taking up a lot of the slack for God this time of year, so before I add my own voice to the mix, may I just start by saying what a fine job I think you’re doing? Really. The Big Guy Upstairs should just go ahead and hire you on full time for the entire year. You know, kinda like a Heavenly Secretary of State, albeit without the Prada heels.


If you take a moment to look back through my history for the year and ignore that one teensy, eensy moment I had with the jerk off, er, impolite elderly gentleman, in front of me in line at Sam’s Club, you’ll see that my nice outweighed my naughty by what can only be considered a major improvement over last year.

With that in mind, I herewith present you with Moi's Christmas 2007 Wish List:

1. You know how you can innocently start off a Saturday night with a few slices of pizza, a couple beers, and a piece of chocolate raspberry blackout cake and then wake up on Monday morning, a mere two days afterward, and suddenly find five extra pounds attached to your happy ass? But then it takes a papal dispensation plus about five bazillion months of eating cardboard-flavored rice cakes to divest your ass of that extra weight? Well, I’d like that whole process reversed, por favor.

2. I want you to make Brad Pitt’s Christmas wishes come true. Not that I have any special fondness for Brad, mind you, and, no, my dislike has nothing to do with being on Team Anybody. I mean, I've been to Springfield, Missouri. All it takes is about 30 minutes inside one of their Steak ‘n’ Shakes to understand why Mr. Pitt let loose of that golden-glowed, Malibu-surfer-chick-meets-Dolce-and-Gabbana wife of his in favor of a woman whose personality is like one of those pousse-café drinks from Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans: all kinds of multi-colored layers of C-R-A-Z-Y. The man was genetically predisposed to start slummin' at some point.

Nope, with his $500-an-hour personal trainer abs and the $10,000 a month he spends on bottles of what is basically tarted-up petroleum jelly to pamper his delicate facial skin, Mr. Pitt does a fine job all by his lonesome of making Moi go, meh. What I do like about him, however, is the very real passion he has for New Orleans, thoughtful urban development, and innovative architecture.

With those passions in mind, Mr. Pitt is pledging $5 million dollars of his own money and enlisting the assistance of innovative urban planners and architects from across the globe to raise enough money to build 150 new homes in New Orleans's Ninth Ward. All at the cost of about $150,000 each, a pittance by today's $2-bazillion-per-square foot Taco Bell Mansion standards. Still, it doesn't take a math wizard capable of carrying his zeros to know that's nonetheless some mighty mucho dinero right there, Party People.

As S.B. says, let's just forget for one moment Pitt's annoying ass celebrity. The man is doing what we Americans do best: instead of whining and crying and beating our breasts for our gub’ment to do something, we’re saying, fuck the gub’ment. We can do this ourselves. We can open our hearts and our pocket books, roll up our sleeves, and get down to the business of building something.

And sweet jeebus, just look at these homes. They’re so gorgemous, I want to buy one!

So, please, Santa, work some magic so these people who lost everything dear to them can once again know the solace and safety of Home.

3. And before you starting worrying, you can go ahead and slip Moi some of these while you're at it:

Yours in peace, joy, love, and (Christ)ian Louboutins,