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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My grandmother is approaching that age. The age that many identify as the age where you begin starting to make meals for yourself and then forget them on the counter for several weeks. The age where you reintroduce your immediate family members each time they see each other. The age where you live in constant fear of cows attacking and killing you and your loved ones. In other words, the age when it's time to go live in a home.

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, my paternal extended family got together for a family photograph, something we haven't done in over ten years. The family all met for the pose1, and according to my sister, the embarassment she sustained was dwarfed only by the hilarity that she recognized it for after the fact.

"Madge, this is Tara."

"Grandma, Tara has been my cousin ever since I was born. We've met."

"Well, we're all family here."

Aunts and cousins primped for the photo, bickering ensued, and no one could sit still for more than five seconds at a time. But things really took a turn for the worst when my grandmother couldn't find her bag.

"Where's my bag? I can't find my bag!"

"Do you remember where you left it last?" asked my aunt.

"Fuck off," my grandmother scowled, walking away with a toss of her hair.

If there's an expression that says "Bitch, you're going to a home," it was on my aunt's face.

"I'm really concerned for her well-being," my aunt said later, "maybe we should put her in a home."

1Excluding myself, who didn't wake up in time in Austin and missed the photograph. I'm being inserted digitally. Really.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Several years ago, Lan and I were having a conversation about DR and his wife HR, coworkers of ours.

"If I had a million dollars and I didn't know what to do with it, I'd give it to DR and HR for safekeeping. They're incredibly moral and trustworthy people."

I ran into DR and HR at the Walgreen's across the street from my apartment this afternoon; they looked a little worn out.

"We just had the baby last week," DR said to me.

"Wow, congratulations!" I said.

The couple then went on to tell me that they just found out the day before that their new baby girl was found with some sort of very rare and possibly fatal virus, that may have been contracted from another child in the ward.

"We've had an exhausting last couple of days--we're just here to get some Advil."

They wandered off into the store and I stood there at the counter waiting to pay and feeling like the worst things always happen to the best people.

Good luck, guys.
Everyone knows that Christmas is every cat's favorite holiday second to Hooray for Cats! day, which is celebrated Catuary cateenth each year. It is for this reason that I wasn't surprised to learn about a fantastic new album that should, if it has not already, find a spot on every family's CD rack.

The album is Meowy Christmas, and the artist is the critically-acclaimed Jingle Cats.



See what people who bought this album are saying! M.L. Smith, from Florida, says:
This CD will have old and young alike laughing,dancing and singing along with this wonderful CD! This CD will make you forget all your troubles and worries,and put a huge grin on your face!
I am not making this up!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

SOUND team - Work, 2005

"Wouldn't you know it's another perfect score," croons SOUND team's Matt Oliver in the first words to their major-label debut EP Work. The song is "The Fastest Man Alive", and the swirling Moog, Jordan John's powerful drumwork, and the multi-layered sheets of sound that inhabit the intro track to the EP are equally as reflective of SOUND team's style as the confidence those beginning lyrics betray.

As "Fastest" ends on one powerfully-held note, the second track, "It's Obvious What's Happening Here", an instrumental track, seamlessly begins. This song, not unlike most of the other songs on this release, was put out on other demos and EPs previous to it. SOUND team released Marathon in 2004, a 12" limited-release sold only at shows during their tour and in their native Austin. Yes, a six-song tape-only recording was released earlier in 2004, where "Obvious" was found originally.

"Orange Bird" is next, and if it sounds a little different from the other songs on the album so far, that's because it's reminiscent of SOUND team's work several years ago--more guitar-driven, great pop sensibility, and very straight-forward. Despite the song being originally written and recorded in 2002, it's easy to see why the Capitol record executives and the band themselves would want the track on a disc that is meant to serve as an introduction to the band. Not only is "Orange Bird" a song that has the ability to pry out at least a toe-tap and at best a full-body dance freak out (complete with head-spin and fist pump), it embodies at least one of the band's greatest loves: the color orange.

A few years ago, the group purchased an old record-processing plant in East Austin. The place was filled with grime and junk, but with a lot of elbow grease and a few hard-earned dollars, they turned it into a fully-functioning analog recording studio they named Big Orange, where they recorded Yes, Marathon, Work, various other bands, and their LP, which is due to be released in 2006.

"In the Dark No One Can Hear You Sweat" is introduced with crashes of cymbals and keyboards and transforms into a syncopated guitar progression, with a haunting Moog melody. It transforms again when Oliver speaks: "I'm knocking at your front door window/baby can I come upstairs?" A song whose intro could well have been the soundtrack to a 1950s space invasion/slasher hybrid is actually about the ambiguities of love.

The last song, "Can't Turn Away" is the second track from that little orange tape, Yes, that Bill Baird, bass player and co-founder of the band (with Matt Oliver) transmogrified from sounds and images in his mind into music that can accurately be described as what a calculus problem would sound like if it were recorded.

What amazes me about SOUND team, this EP not withstanding, is that people who hear them for the first time are blown away. It's probably clear by now that I think this band has a great deal to offer, so that may not seem surprising. But the missing piece of the puzzle becomes apparent when I think about how truly original SOUND team's recordings are--it usually takes the average person at least a few listens to come around to something unlike other things they've heard before.

Give this EP a listen, there's only a few more months until their album comes out, and you won't be able to say that you heard them before they got big.

You can buy Work here. SOUND team's website is here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Yesterday morning, I went with my parents and my sister to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston. Houston is a fairly international city--and when I say 'international' I of course mean 'Hispanic.' And when I say 'Hispanic' I of course mean 'Mexican.' I've always known this, but this year I was surprised at how . . . "international" everything was. There were giant Mexican flags, Mariachi music, lowriders, and brown faces all over the crowd. It would be dishonest of me to say that the experience didn't trigger a little paranoia or concern about the demographic makeup of Texas and the United States in the next twenty years.

And here's where I take a brief pause and say this: I'm dating a Mexican girl. See? Not a racist.

So why, if I'm not really a racist, would I care about the amount of Mexicans in Texas/the US, and their impact on the political, pop, and everyday culture? Mexican culture is different. I don't know for sure that when the Hispanic population outweighs the White population in Texas in 2025 that they will have the same political concerns as I do, or that they won't make every radio station in Houston a Tejano one. And that makes me nervous.

But the real source of my nervousness is a style of thinking that most people aware of this situation also use--consciously or subconsciously--but do not and will not talk about. When White people think of Mexican people, they think: lazy; poor; ignorant; uneducated; fifty in a car; standing out on Shepherd as illegal day laborers; this little chica better have insurance after she just hit me; don't know the meaning of birth control; you're in America, speak American; etc.

So I sat there watching the float of a local Tejano radio station pass by, sweating in the late-November humidity, picturing politicians named 'Pepito' and 'Juanito' and perhaps even 'Miguelito,' and trying to reconcile my strong belief for an open-door immigration policy with the xenophobia that seemed to be overpowering my entire body. I started trying to mentally list the values that I hold dear to me that I thought might be threatened by a growing Mexican population. 'A strong work ethic,' I thought. 'Honesty, the desire to learn independently, love for family and friends . . . ' My thinking was cut off when the Mariachi guy on the float start blaring his trumpet into a microphone.

But then I thought this: I'm not worried about Mexican culture taking over White culture. I'm worried about poverty, ignorance, fifteen-year-old girls having kids, and people without car insurance running into me. I'm interested in and cherish foreign cultures--Mexico's not least of all.

And then finally, as the Mariachi band's float passed on, and the tri-colored (red, white, and green of course), candy-painted lowrider settled back onto all four wheels, the Houston Rockets cheerleaders walked by behind them, all wearing short-shorts, lots of makeup, legs up to their armpits, and hair that looked like they must have been up since 5 a.m. preparing it.

"That's what I'm talking about!" my Dad said. "Whoo!"

"Whoo!" I agreed.

An older Mexican guy stood in front of me with his thirty-seven four children watching the parade. He stuck his index fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly, chuckling after he did so. I'm not sure what he meant by that, but I'm pretty sure that it's the Mexican equivalent of 'Whoo!'
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

To celebrate, why not put on a sweater and sing turkey carols while you sip on turkeynog by the turkeyfire?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I was planning on getting gas today, so when I saw a gas station that was selling it for $1.99 a gallon, I quickly turned into the lot. It was packed full of course, but I figured that I didn't mind waiting--especially because the cheapest I'd seen it anywhere else was around $2.07 (it's the principle, you understand).

I found that I had lined up on the side opposite the tank of my car, so I turned around and backed into position, preparing to reverse into the spot when my turn came. There wasn't anyone coming from the other side, so I figured it was OK. An old woman in front of me driving a Honda CRV was in the same situation, but she had apparently decided to just go for it and pull the hose around to the other side.

'There's no way that's going to reach over there,' I thought to myself. I was even sure of my prediction when I saw that she had parked like five feet away from the pump itself. 'What the hell is wrong with her?' I wondered.

The woman pulled the hose out, trying to stretch it to the tank. As I had predicted, it wasn't even close to reaching it. Frustrated, she looked at me, apparently in hope for advice. I raised my hands in the "What do you want from me? I'm just some guy" position, but she approached the open window of my car.

"My tank is on the other side," she explained.

"I noticed that," I said, laughing. "I can move up if you want to reverse into it."

"I mean, the hose won't even reach my car."

"What do you want me to do about it?"

"Do you think they'll be open later?"

"What?"

"I mean, this is ridiculous--I'm just going to come back later." She seemed really frustrated, but I couldn't understand why. I mean, she was the one who pulled into the spot. Was she mad at Honda for not putting the tank on the other side? The other customers for crowding the lot? Pedro's Gas Station #3 for not having longer hoses?

"Why don't you just turn around?"

"I can't believe this." She walked back to her car, got inside, and drove off. I reversed into the spot and filled up for less than 25 bucks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Click the preview to read the first comic strip I've drawn in two years.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Smoke On

"Wow, I've never heard anyone argue against marijuana legalization," remarked a co-worker.

"Do you hang out with a lot of potheads?" I asked him.

When the discussion of pot and pot legalization comes up, I quickly find myself being a very unpopular person.

"You've been brainwashed, man. Brainwashed by government propaganda."

Right, dude. Most of my objections to pot legalization come from those "the terrorist will win" commericals, or the other commercial where the potheads run over the little girl on a bike.

No, I don't think pot should be legalized. Yes, I think that smoking pot is a waste of time. I don't think that it's the worst thing in the world, or that it's addictive, or that if you do it you'll eventually start doing heroin. I just think that all things being equal, I'd rather not do it, and I just don't see any good reason to do it. (That, by the way, is an important point. When you're trying to convince someone to take action for something, the burden of proof is on the person arguing for the action, not the default position, or inaction.)

I think the argument that it aids creativity is basically bullshit. The only type of artistic culture that pot has ever aided is pot culture--taking drugs to make music to take drugs to, as it were. I bet Cheech and Chong is hilarious when you're stoned.

And guess what else? I've never gotten high before. "Dude, you don't know what you're missing! How can you argue against something you've never tried?"

This is a real question I was asked tonight.

"Have you ever smoked crack?" I replied.

"You can't compare crack with weed," he said.

"I'm not, I'm just saying that you're using flawed logic. If you've never tried crack, how do you know it's not really awesome? Would you try it if someone told you it was good?"

"Crack isn't the same as weed. Weed is natural, it comes from the earth."

"Are you even listening to me? I'm talking about the logic you're using."

"I'm not using logic, man. I'm using weed logic."

"I can't believe you just said that."

Here is why pot will never be legalized: the government has a duty to stability and the safety of its citizens. The government will never, never approve laws that promote altered states of consciousness. Drinking alcohol is legal, yes. Getting drunk is as close to illegal as it can get in this country without causing riots. Public intoxication is illegal. Driving under the influence is illegal. The only legal states of altered consciousness, in fact, are those that have been approved for medical purposes--which of course roots up that whole discussion.

Briefly, I think that in most situations where pot could be used for medical applications, there are other, less recreational drugs that could be substituted for it. That is not to say that marijuana is without its medicinal benefits, because it does offer a good deal of relief to cancer patients, glaucoma patients, AIDS victims, and etc. It is, however, a slippery slope.

Here's my addition to why I don't think it should be:

Having never gotten high, I can't say it's true that I've never gotten drunk. I've gotten drunk a lot. I've experienced levels of inebriation that venture into Jim Belushidom. But still, somehow, I've never smoked, rolled, tripped, or spaced on any illegal drug. There's something about drugs being illegal that keep a large amount of people from doing them. Legalization will almost surely introduce a larger number of people to pot and drugs in general. Does the US really need another vice?

I'm not saying that our current drug laws are great, or that they're even effective. A plurality of the 2 million-plus prisoners in jails across the US are there for drug law violations. The US is losing (has lost?) a very expensive war on drugs, and in the mean time, if you've got two drug priors and you get caught with a joint, they're going to lock you up and throw away the key. It's just a bit over the top.

On a personal level, I make it a point to try to do the best I can in any given situation. I make it a point to have a reason for doing any of the things that I do--even if the reason is that I want to enjoy myself. When I think about the figures that I admire most--athletes, writers, artists, political figures, etc.--I think about what it will take for me to gain the qualities in them that I respect most, and what it will take for me to eventually reach the places that they've reached. And then I think about pot, and I think about getting drunk off my ass every weekend, and I think about sitting around watching crappy sitcoms, and I think about the scores of things that I could be doing that aren't the worst thing in the world, but that don't really have a purpose, and aren't really going to help me do anything. And I think--why bother?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Conventional wisdom says that if you really want to know what's "hot," and what's going to be popular in the future, you should look to see what the youth (between the ages of 15 and 18) are doing. I am here to tell you that the youth don't know shit.

There are several reasons why I feel like the youth most certainly aren't the barometer for what's hot and what's not, and they are as follows:

1. The youth are generally pretty stupid.

This is the first and most important reason why kids know fuckall about what's cool. Sure, there are some smart kids out there, but even those kids are going to be smarter in the future than they are between the ages of 15 and 18.

I was a youth not too long ago, and I work with them on occasion, and I've experienced their general stupidity first hand:
ME: OK, your teacher has given you an assignment and expects it to be finished by the end of class. We'll be reading chapter eight of Lord of the Flies first, and then will work on the assignment for the remainder of the period. Oh--your teacher has asked that there be no passes given, so please don't ask to go to the bathroom, because the answer is no. Are there any questions?

STUDENT: Hey mister, what are we doing today?

ME: I just--I mean, weren't you li--whatever. Any other questions?

OTHER STUDENT: Can I go to the bathroom?

OTHER STUDENT: (Accidentally stabs self in eye with pencil while trying to determine sharpness of said pencil.)
These are the cavaliers that spearhead the trends of the future.

2. The youth are too worried about what their friends think of them to have their own opinion.

Youth have a lot to worry about--there are pressures from parents, teachers, coaches, and bosses to consider, as well as thoughts about grades, extra-curricular activities, and social life. But no factor plays a bigger role in the mind of most youth than what that cute girl/dude with the ponytail/goatee in fifth period may think of them if they show themselves to be weird or abnormal in any way. This isn't just an opposite sex thing, it's a general peer thing--kids want to be popular, they want to be normal, and they don't want to stand out. How can any of them be on the cutting edge if they're all worried about what everyone else thinks of them?
JANET: Hi Tommy, what's that you're listening to?

TOMMY: It's the New Pornographers.

JANET: You're a pervert! HEY EVERYBODY, TOMMY'S A PERVERT!

TOMMY: (Vomits with embarassment.)


3. The youth are too busy getting pregnant and wrecking their cars to know what's hot.
STEVE: Hey Mary, have you heard the new Broken Social Scene album?

MARY: No, I've been too busy having unprotected sex while driving ninety miles per hour down I-35.

STEVE: Huh, that seems dangerous.

MARY: What makes you say that?

STEVE: (Accidentally stabs self in eye with pencil while inspecting its sharpness.)

MARY: (Begins eating plastic fruit from a nearby display bowl.) Are you OK?


4. The youth aren't going to find out anything new from anywhere else but their older siblings or major media outlets.

I'm sure there's a good reason why conventional wisdom dictates that the youth lead the way in what's cool, but I sure as hell don't know what it is. From what I remember about my high school days and what I knew about music, movies, fashion, and culture, it all came from other kids, the radio, or my friend Jason Radfar's older brother, who drove a Mustang, who taught stuff to Jason, who in turn taught it to me. Nowadays I have the time, knowhow, patience, and resources to look into things that interest me, and I use other sources to find out what's available besides the FM dial and MTV.

In conclusion: Fuck the youth, and fuck conventional wisdom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Goodbye, ironic toothpaste,
we hardly knew ye.

From Whole Pop Magazine Online:
Darlie toothpaste is a popular brand in much of Asia. Its dark secret is that it used to be called Darkie, complete with a stereotyped logo of a minstrel man. Apparently its founder had come to the US in the 1920s and seen Al Jolson in his blackface show, and had been impressed with how white Jolson's teeth looked. . . .

Stereotypes of this sort were not unusual before World War II. What was unusual about Darkie was that its racist name and logo were still intact in 1985 when Colgate bought the brand from the Hong Kong's Hawley & Hazel Chemical Co.
Colgate eventually changed the name after the secret was leaked, but . . .
The name change placated Western critics, who pointed out that the toothpaste actually sold better after the name change. What they didn't know, and apparently still don't, is that only the English was changed. The Cantonese name ("Haak Yahn Nga Gou") still stayed the same, and the Chinese-language ads reassured users that, despite a cosmetic change to placate those inscrutable Westerners, "Black Man Toothpaste is still Black Man Toothpaste."
Twenty years later, I found myself at a Cambodian convenience store and in need of some toothpaste. I came across Darlie, and being that it was the only one with words I could read, I picked it up and paid for it with cash riel.

Darlie worked well for me for five long months. It lasted me five countries, one brief relationship, and the feeling of a fresh, clean mouth a few hundred times post-brush. Darlie, no matter what your past, I believe it is my duty to give you a proper burial. Goodnight, sweet prince.


"I have some white-ass teeth!"
- Al Jolson

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I called the general manager over to me to ask him if he could split a check for me on the computer--a function only managers have access to.

"It's $42.81," I explained. "So could you just make two paidout receipts, one for $21.40 and one for $21.41?"

"Excuse me if I don't trust your math," he said, pulling out a calculator.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"If I were to be reincarnated, I'd like to come back as a monkey," said one of my co-workers the other day.

"What the hell? If I were reincarnated I'd like to come back as an ultra-hedonistic millionaire rapper, and I'd live my life in hotel suites, banging models and drinking Moet and Courvoisier, and not knowing the difference between my life and the real world. My name would be Hedon, and it would be pronounced 'Hee-Dawn.' Isn't that better than being a monkey?"

"Uh--no, I don't think I'd want to do that."

"That's fine. Enjoy your bananas, I'll be putting the wood on that hot Brazilian girl from the Victoria's Secret catalog."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Last night as I was driving through Central/South Texas, I found myself listening to an Evangelical radio talk show that was ranting about, among other things, Catholics.

"Catholics believe that Mary is the co-redemptress," they said. "And don't let any Catholic tell you that they don't honor their own traditions and catechism over the word of the Holy Bible. Don't let them tell you that that isn't true."

"Jesus," I thought, "if they're going to rant about something, why wouldn't they rant against fucking terrorists or something?"

At one segment of the program, the host made a point about how Halloween is a sacreligious holiday, that it celebrates the occult, etc. "Most people don't know that they're worshiping Satan, but they are, and that's a sin."

But a minute later when a caller noted that Christmas ("Christ-Mass," as he put it) is traditionally a Catholic holiday, the host was offended and refused to accept the point.

"Let's focus on the important things," he said, "sometimes there's such a thing as taking our concerns to the point of the absurd."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

If you were trying to get someone to stop smoking, and you yourself were not a smoker, what would be a comprable "bad habit" to give up in exchange for theirs? Would it be masturbation?

What if it was your grandmother who smoked?
My internet usage has been "spotty" lately, as the wireless networks in my general vicinity have "gotten wise" to me "stealing it," probably as a result of my downloading multiple "gigs" of "porn."
Hearing "Born to Run" during the closing of Terry Gross' Fresh Air (she mentioned an interview that will be airing next week as he releases the 30th Anniversary Box-Set of Born to Run) this afternoon made it all the more important that I sing loudly in my car in protest to the fact that my co-worker doesn't like Bruce Springsteen. The celebration of the re-release made it a bit more satisfying, too.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A well-meaning but immature girl at my job asked me the other day why I don't like Death Cab For Cutie.

"Well, they're a pussy band, basically."

She made that expression where the side of the mouth goes up on one side, and the eyebrows furrow in consternation, symbolizing that she knew I was right, but didn't really feel like admitting it.

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean they aren't good," she countered.

"They aren't good," I said.

"I usually don't like bands that are all 'hearbreak and misery beautiful poetry,'" she said, "but I really think they're different."

"Nah," I said, "they really aren't."

"I mean, you don't have to like them, but you have to at least admit they're good."

"I refuse to admit that. They're not doing anything new or different, they're kind of whiny, and the same goals they attempt are done better by better bands who did it twenty years ago."

"Like who?"

"I don't know--The Cure?"

She made that face again.

"But that was twenty years ago!"

"Exactly."

"I think they're different, they don't sound like any other band."

"Just because his voice doesn't sound exactly like Robert Smith's doesn't mean they're innovative."

"Whatever, they're good."

"I don't want you to get upset due to a miscommunication, I want to make sure you know what I'm saying here."

"What's that?"

"Death Cab sucks."

"Shutup."
"Guys, don't forget to vote tomorrow!" said a female co-worker.

"Hell no I won't forget," I told her, "we've got to make sure those gays never get married."

"Are you serious?" She seemed pretty pissed.

"Hell yes! What, you think they should?"

"Chris, you're going to sit here and tell me that you think homosexuals should be treated like second-class citizens?"

"No, I think that gays, women, and minorities should be treated like third-class citizens. After domesticized mammals."

"Shutup."

"And what's all this garbage about negroes owning land?"

She was really heated up, so her frustration carried over into her feeling relieved that I appeared to be joking. She stared at me for a minute, not knowing what to say.

"Whatever, Chris."

That's when I knew I had to ask myself: I wonder what this chick looks like topless?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A radio station was playing the entirety of Bruce Springsteen's Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. tonight.

"God I love Bruce Springsteen," I said aloud, to no one in particular.

"That guy is a fucking joke," said JH, one of my co-workers.

I wrinkled my nose and gave him a disgusted look. "What are you, from Iran or something?"

He kind of laughed and we continued on our separate tasks. Later, he came to me, taunting:

"I really like those jingle bells on "Born to Run." Bing! Bing! Bing! That sounds really cool."

"Well, at least you've got that much," I said.

"Bruce Springsteen sucks."

"JH, it's one thing if you're just a fool and you keep it to yourself, but if you just keep saying foolish things all the time, people are going to eventually think you're a retard."

He continued making fun of the Boss over the course of the next hour, and I eventually got fed up and presented a detailed and well-thought-out case of why Bruce Springsteen is one of the best things to ever happen to rock 'n' roll music.

"Too bad he sucks," he said, probably just having fun with me at this point.

"God, now I know how Galileo felt in the 17th century when he was trying to explain to people that we don't live in a geocentric universe."

I felt pretty happy with that one, having thought it up ten minutes prior.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Joey and I were driving through the parking lot at Randall's, when a truck came driving down the same one-way lane, the opposite way.

"What the hell is this guy doing?" Joey said with mild interest.

He kept driving the wrong way towards us, and Joey stopped the car, the two of us at a standoff. After a minute, Joey crept forward, and the guy reversed and pulled into a parking spot. Satisfied, we parked and began walking inside the store.

"Hey!" It was one of those typical hick accents that can be spotted a mile away in any part of the world, not unlike the "gay guy" or the "miscellaneous foreigner." "Where'd you motherfuckers learn how to drive?" When he said "motherfucker" it sounded more like "muthefuhcker," soft on the u, hard on the second r.

He might've stepped out of routine from some Comedy Central sketch show. Blue workshirt, boots, baseball cap, really awful mustache. He stood about twenty-five feet away, holding the door open to his truck.

"You were going the wrong way down a one-way drive," Joey called out loudly.

The guy didn't say anything, but inspected me oddly, looking at my hair, I guess. "Where you from, muthefuhcker?"

"Austin," I said.

"Well this ain't Austin, muthefuhcker, this is Texas."

"Austin is in Texas," I said. "In fact it's the capital of Texas."

He paused, but only for a moment.

"Fuck you!" He swung around back into his truck and drove off.
The phone rang at Joey's house yesterday afternoon.

"You don't want to get it?" I asked him.

"Nobody has the number," he explained. "It's always just telemarketers."

"Telemarketers!" I quickly picked up the phone.

"May I speak to Joseph please?" the female voice on the other end asked in broken English.

"This is he!" I said.

"Joseph, I'm here to tell you that your name has been randomly selected for a trip for two for five days and four nights at our luxurious resort!"

"Oh my word! Did you say randomly selected?" I asked excitedly. There was a pause for about seven seconds.

"Yes," the voice said flatly.

"Every day," I enthused, "every day I sit here waiting, hoping, praying, that someone will have randomly selected my name for a trip at a luxurious resort. And today--today is my day."

No answer for a moment, and she continued, "During your stay, you'll watch a presentation about land ownership, but you will experience no pressure to buy."

"No pressure to buy! How can you afford to offer such a generous package?"

Again, a long pause. "Joseph, are you there?"

"You bet I am, I wouldn't miss this opportunity!"

No answer.

"Will you do me a favor?" I asked, then paused. "Will you take my name off this list and never call here again? I would really appreciate that."

But she had already hung up.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I was talking to a former professor of mine about post-graduate options the other day--law school in particular.

"In Texas, there are really only three choices: Texas, St. Mary's, and SMU," he said.

"Texas is really the best though," I replied.

"That's true, but SMU isn't a bad school either. It could get you a nomination to the supreme court--at least for a little while."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Yesterday, as I was leaving my house for work, I noticed that someone had placed a small but still-useful bookshelf outside by the dumpster in the alleyway.

'Sweet,' I thought. 'I could use that bookcase.'

So I closed the door to my apartment and approached the gate that separates the apartment complex from the dumpster. The lock on the gate is kind of tricky, but I was patient with it because I knew that it would only be a few seconds until I had my free bookcase.

Suddenly, a crappy old pickup truck filled with garbage pulled up and stopped in front of the dumpster. An old guy in a baseball cap got out and went immediately to the bookshelf and began inspecting it.

"Hey!" I yelled out. "Hey!"

Where did this guy come from, anyway? Does he just drive around alleyways hoping to find discarded furniture? He looked up at me and then ignored me. I began frantically trying to work the lock so I could go over to him and explain that while I know I didn't get to it first, I saw it first, and I wanted it first. Instead he picked up the bookcase and put it in his truck, and then drove away while I sat there jiggling the handle to the gate. Some things just weren't meant to be.