Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Bad Idea #1. (I can't think of another performer who is a greater antithesis to the Broadway idiom.)
Bad Idea #2. (I don't want some Catholic teaching my Baptist children how to make macaroni necklaces.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Who wants hot dogs?

Man. My wife and I both like to enter our friends' names on Google and see what comes up. I just entered my own name, and a shit-eating porn website came up. I looked for my name and never found it. What the fuck? It's a little creepy. Especially creepy because a favorite party trick of mine is showing people the volume of TV Carnage that intercuts shit-eating porn with the opening theme of "Three's Company." I'll be clear on this. I like a lot of shit, but I don't like "shit." I am not turned on by feces. Why is my name there? Why? Why? Why?
In related news, why is it so satisfying to emit a particularly foul-smelling gaseous emission? I almost killed my wife with a noxious fart tonight. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, akin to winning a date with an attractive woman, passing a particularly difficult class, or lifting a car off an injured family of eight with my bare hands. I really did something today. What did you do, losers?
Vegetarians. God bless you. You really love animals. Or do you really love your own sense of self-righteousness and/or masochistic sacrificial self-abuse rituals? Who can say? Here's what I think. Yes, and yes. Take this with a grain of salt, vegetarians. I mean this lovingly. Many of you, including my mother and several friends, are members of your silly, silly club. This is just one man's opinion. WAKE THE FUCK UP! Your refusal to eat meat is misguided sentimentality. If you cared about your fellow humans as much as you care about a fucking chicken, life would be better for all of us. Animal cruelty is abhorrent. No animal should ever be tortured, killed for sport, or forced to undergo painful tests to improve cosmetics. But if thousands of monkeys have to die to find a cure for cancer, kill those fuckers! And if any animal happens to be delicious, kill it humanely and eat the fucker! No animal, left to its own devices, has a good death. If we don't eat them, step on them, or keep them as pets, something will fuck their ass up. Another animal or the ravages of nature will take care of that animal painfully and slowly. Circle of life, food chain, all that shit. Ripped apart by mountain lions, starved to death, infected with disease, etc., etc. You're not going to save any animal by not eating it. It's like one of my friends says, "No deer is going to have a comfortable retirement and no cow is going to write a novel." A lot of vegetarians think they have a point by asking "What about dogs and cats? You wouldn't eat them, would you?" My usual reply is "I wouldn't eat my cat, no. But I would eat your cat." My real answer is that I've witnessed most of the people who've asked me this question swatting flies, stepping on spiders, spraying cockroaches, and/or putting out mousetraps. Some vegetarians justify eating seafood, or eating things that don't have a "face," but somehow, cows or chickens are off limits. A fish is smarter than a fucking chicken. Why is it lower on the hierarchy? Besides, dogs and cats are eaten in parts of the world, and they've proven themselves to be good pets. My judgment of their worth is entirely based on their use to human beings. Their primary worth is as a pet. If they weren't so stringy and affectionate, I would eat them. As long as they aren't being tortured, I can rest easy. Everyone needs to eat the meatloaf sandwich at the Kitchen Door. It's really fucking good, people. I'm drunk and incoherent. My argument is full of holes. This is not a serious defense. But I sincerely believe that no one will ever get to heaven, get a medal, or save an animal's life by not eating animals. If you're doing it to get laid, there are much better women (and probably men) out there. Women (and probably men) who eat cheeseburgers are much sexier than emaciated plant-nibblers! But, seriously, vegetarians, I've rarely met one of you I didn't like on a personal level. I'm just teasing. You're alright. I even know a few vegetarians who just hate the way meat tastes. That's more aesthetically and morally defensible in my book. But, you're alright, veggie-lovers. It's hard to hate people who love animals. Vegans, though. Fuck vegans. Vegans are ill-tempered dumbass goofballs. Eat a pizza and loosen your belt, fuckface. For a similar philosophy, please read Cornelius Bear's thoughts on gambling. Bite into this godless, secular wonderland! Whoo hoo!
In my ten-best sandwich roundup, I forgot to mention my own favorite sandwich in Austin, criminally ignored by the Statesman. My favorite sandwich is the Gypsy Grove at Foodheads. Sure, Gypsy Grove sounds like a Blind Melon cover band, but it's actually a timebomb of deliciousness. Check this out: Marinated and grilled pork tenderloin, grilled ham, Swiss cheese, cherry peppers, tabasco slaw, and fried egg on toasted garlic baguette. This sandwich is decadent, yes, but in the holiest way. It is a mindfuck express to sandwich nirvana. If you refuse to eat this sandwich, you hate America! And the Swiss! Nuts to you!
I watched "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" again over the weekend. I don't know if it's Hunter S. Thompson's recent death, drug nostalgia, or disappointment over how much "Brothers Grimm" sucked, but I think this movie has improved considerably since I first saw it in the theater eight years ago. I wasn't impressed, then, but it was a great day anyway, and yet another reminder of how much I hate a predictable, consistent schedule. Week days meant something in college. I never knew what I was going to be doing on any given weekday, outside of class. This particular 1998 day, I think it was a Wednesday or Thursday, about twelve of us got drunk on whiskey at 9 a.m., then went to the matinee of "Fear and Loathing" and ate at Wendy's. Of course, most of us could take a day off work, get drunk in the morning, go to a matinee, and eat some fast food afterwards. But we would be lucky to find one person, let alone twelve, to accompany us. Instead of a fond memory, like this day will always be for me, a similar day now would probably conclude with a crying jag, internet porn, leftover pizza, an episode of "The O.C.," contemplation of suicide, and falling asleep on the couch. Why must every day be the same? Being an adult means decomposing early. Anyway, I didn't like the movie much at the time, but I felt good because most of my friends loved it (though they would have loved anything with drug references), and it was 10 a.m., we were drunk, and we were 19-22. There was a light and airy feeling, life was in front of us, and we were turning a mundane weekday into a Bacchanalian celebration of life. I miss those days. Of course, I'm mostly happier now and I only remember the good stuff when I think back. Nostalgia is an enemy, but sometimes it's a sexy, sexy enemy. Anyway, it's a nice little movie.
I had a couple of weird encounters in public places this weekend. #1 I was buying some beer at HEB and I showed the cashier my ID. He grins at me and says, "You barely made it." Huh? I'm young, yes. But I'm 28. I barely made it seven years ago. What an odd thing to say. #2 My wife and I are at Denny's today, paying for our meal at the counter. The guy looks at us and says, "Imagine seeing you two crazyheads here." I whisper to my wife, "Does he know us?" She whispers back, "No." What a fucking cuckoo batshit looney tunes thing to say. Somehow, the HEB encounter bothers me more. I'm 28, goddammit! 28! Show me a little respect! I didn't fall off the turnip truck! Fuck!
Edna and Troy died. The musk was too strong.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Tale of Ten Sandwiches, or Operation:Sandwich -- The Complete Report

Mission accomplished. The eagle of freedom has been grilled, placed between two slices of bread, and eaten. God bless America and its sandwiches. Four more years...of delicious sandwiches. These colors don't run...away from good eating. USA! USA! USA! I'm an idiot.
The Austin American-Statesman threw down the gauntlet, and I picked it up and ate it. Here are my findings.
Austin American-Statesman's 10 Best Sandwiches in Austin
1. Italian Godfather, Russell's Bakery. I was skeptical when this sandwich was placed before me. It was quite handsome, fetching even, but was a mere deli-style, meat-and-cheese, mayo-dressing-mustard-lettuce-and-tomato kind of sandwich. However, once bitten into, the sandwich sent off shock waves of culinary delight that exploded all over my palate. Why was it so good? Could it be the tantalizing rosemary bread that held it all together? Methinks it could. Grade: A+
2. Egg Salad, Sweetish Hill Bakery. How could a simple egg salad sandwich be one of the contenders? It was nonsense. Or was it? Holy mother of shit, this sandwich was good. Homemade mayonnaise, fresh farm eggs, hydroponic lettuce, a little white cheddar, and homemade bread. Fuck, yeah. Grade: A
3. Oyster Po' Boy, Gene's New Orleans Style Po' Boys & Deli. Setback #1: Gene's is out of oysters. I settle for my old favorite, the shrimp po' boy. It was good, but I've had it several times. I had yet to try the oyster po' boy. I returned three days later, full of vim, vigor, and determination. Success! I ate the shit out of it, and it was good. Slathered in real mayo and deep-fried to perfection, my arteries say no but my mouth says word booty. Grade: A
4. Nicoise, Texas French Bread. This sandwich was actually good for me, a nice change (tuna, capers, red onion, lettuce, tomato, vinaigrette), and also very tasty. So far, so good, Statesman.
Grade: A
5. Chicken Salad, Galaxy Cafe. Nine of the ten restaurants represented on this list are close to my home. This one is practically in fucking Dallas. Completist that I am, I made the 18-mile trek to the Galaxy Cafe and waited in a hellishly long line to order. Once I ordered, though, service was fast and friendly. It was a good sandwich, but it didn't blow my mind. The first one on the list to be overrated, it was accompanied by a side soup that blew away the sandwich. The Upper Crust Bakery has a much better chicken salad sandwich, in my view (keep in mind I'm not exactly a chicken salad expert). Grade: B-
6. Philly Cheesesteak, Hog Island Italian Deli. Whooo! Yeah! Alright! This restaurant is a few blocks away from my old job, so I spent quite a few lunch hours eating here, but I'd never had the philly for whatever reason, though many of my old co-workers raved about it. They were right. Apparently, the meat and bread are actually flown in from Philadelphia daily. I now have no reason to go to Philadelphia. Thanks, Hog Island! You're the tops! Grade: A+
7. Reuben, New World Deli. Mmmph. If you want a great Reuben, go to the Avenue B Grocery (fortunately right across the street from my home). This one was decent, but a little overstuffed and dry. Grade: C+
8. Avocado Sandwich, Upper Crust Bakery. I think the guy or lady making this sandwich fucked it up. It's supposed to have red onion and vinaigrette on it, but apparently they're rationing these ingredients because only two bites had this stuff on it. Those two bites were awesome. The rest of the sandwich was bland as fuck. I may have to give it another chance, since human error affected its overall score. The chicken salad sandwich is great here, though. Grade: C-
9. Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich, Kitchen Door (Lake Austin Blvd. location). This may be the best sandwich I've ever had. Weep, you silly vegetarians. Weep. Then join Planet Sensible and Club Food Chain and eat this sandwich. Esquire magazine called this one of the ten best sandwiches in the U.S. Don't hold that against it. It's probably true. Grade: A++++++++
10. Three-Cheese Panini, 1886 Cafe in Driskill Hotel. Setback #2: Lunchtime on a Saturday. They have extended breakfast hours on the weekend, so the panini wasn't available until dinner. I ordered the Turkey BLT instead. It was awesome, but I wanted to get my panini on. Five days later, I saunter back in. Success! I had a great time, unemployed, on a Thursday, looking at a classic car parked across the street, sitting in a semi-fancy restaurant in a fancy hotel, watching the light and shadow in the cafe, drinking some tea, eating a panini, taking it easy. This is living, my friend. I loved the sandwich. It's just bread and cheese, but somehow it's incredible. Conversely, it's just bread and cheese, so why is it eleven fucking dollars? Perhaps this has something to do with the spinach salad and "tomato confit" included with the meal (I'm just a small-town Nebraska boy. I don't know from confit, but it wuz good.) Additionally, there was an insane older woman at the table in front of me throwing a ridiculous tantrum because there were three flies buzzing around the restaurant. She complained to the waitress about 12 times and gave her a status report on the flies every time she walked by. She also attempted to kill the flies by lunging across her table with her napkin and exaggeratedly swatting at one whenever it flew past. "Excuse me, miss. I killed one of the flies." "Miss, I saw another fly." "Miss, a fly landed on my spoon but fortunately I was done eating." "Miss, please do something about these flies." "Miss, flies are buzzing everywhere!" "Miss, I killed another fly!" Then, the crazy old bat ordered dessert! She was flapping her arms and carrying on so much that the flies completely ignored the other customers and concentrated solely on her. Grade, (excluding inflated price): A.

Coming soon: Why vegetarians are kind-hearted but misguided and foolish, why weekdays were better eight years ago, and odd statements from customer service workers. All that, and what happened to Edna and Troy after they got locked in Dr. Crazynut's Cave of Ominous Musk. Stick around, kids.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Warm sasparilla

Hey, friends, lovers, and jerks,
I got a little ahead of myself. Professor dude resigned as head of the program. He's still teaching there. So Operation: Grad School is once again back in play. Let's see what will happen. If I get accepted, great. I'm starting to get the five-year locational itch, and a new city might be what I need to get out of Rutsville, especially with the job situation in Austin being pretty much Shitsville. If I get denied, shut down, refused, slam dunked, or embroiled in a layup of savings, I won't cry. Plan B will resume its place as Plan A, aka Operation: Get a House, Dog, and Cat and See If I Can Find Some Job in Austin That's Not Total Shit. Either way, limbo will be busted out of and life will once again be scary, interesting, and erotically charged.

I'm one sandwich away from eating all ten of the Austin American-Statesman's so-called ten best sandwiches in Austin. A complete Operation: Sandwich report should be up by Sunday night.

I have a Flickr page now, so Operation: Bad Photographer is newly public.

That's it. Fuck, I fucking need a motherfucking job. Shit.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

It's time to update this bitch

This anecdote I forgot to pass on to you happened on my last visit to New Orleans, a week before the hurricane: My friend, Professor Romance aka Dr. Sympathetic, and I were in the French Quarter, drinking absinthes at the Pirate's Cove or Pirate's Alley or whatever the hell the place is called where the guy dresses like a pirate and serves absinthe, and while waiting at the bar for our drinks to be made, I eavesdropped on a conversation between an older, drunken Australian man, his much younger woman friend, and a twentysomething douchebag of the particularly noxious fratboy/hippie/world-traveling, cultural sophisticate triptych of shame whose dubious European accent occasionally slipped, revealing an American one. Or maybe the American accent was the dubious part. Either way, he was working some kind of affectation that had become malignant and all-encompassing, eventually swallowing up any trace of the personality that had birthed it. This conversation was mildly nauseating, mostly because each person was trying to one-up the other in a game of Let's See Whose Traveled the World the Most and Become the Most Intellectually and Culturally Enlightened, but I was in a good mood, they were mostly harmless, and I wasn't feeling any hate. I was feeling the love, baby. I was in the Big Easy, drinking and eating from sunup to sundown. I had dinner twice. It was a good day. I keep listening in. Dubious Euro Boy starts talking about Japan. He says he lives in Austin, is a UT student, but every summer he goes to Tokyo and teaches English to Japanese children. He goes on and on about how the Japanese experience has enriched him, wonderful, Japan, excellent, amazing, blah blah blah. Then his cell phone rings and a classic moment of unintentional hilarity ensues:
Euro Boy, looking at the number of the caller: "Sorry, guys. I've got to take this call. It's my sensei."
Euro Boy, answering phone and walking out of the bar, looking pensive, serious, and deeply touched: "Moshe-moshe."
I had an extended laughing fit, exacerbated by trying not to laugh at the poor doofus. God bless that ridiculous dork.

I took the GRE last week. I did pretty well. Unfortunately, that doesn't matter now. The sole reason I took it was so I could apply to one particular film studies program at one particular university. I have no real desire to attend grad school anywhere else for any reason. I don't want to be a college professor, and I have an extreme distaste for academic writing and the insularities, irrelevancies, pretensions, and Dungeons and Dragons-style games of oneupsmanship that seem to dominate most graduate schools, though there are loads of exceptions, I have friends who get a lot out of their grad programs, and it's still preferable to a money-chasing careerist nine-to-five lifestyle even at its worst. This particular program is run by a professor and writer whose books, ideas, taste, and classroom methods appeal to me greatly. It's the only film program that teaches what I value in ways I find valuable. It places zero value on academic theory and jargon, sociologic and symbolic readings of film, or junky pop-culture entertainment. Instead, all value is placed on art (which is an academic dirty word) as a form of experience, not some puzzle or message to figure out or "get" or theorize about or throw a sociopolitical net on top of but as a new way of understanding, experiencing, feeling, and expressing what it's like to be a human being. Unfortunately, this professor is not well liked at his university because what he teaches is not academically fashionable. Changes he disagrees with are being made to the program, so he resigned. This will be his last year. So now my goal of the last two years has been rendered moot. I'm back to square zero. I was so caught up in studying for the GRE and preparing my application, I almost forgot I'm still unemployed. I've hit rock bottom. I have nothing going for me right now. It's actually not that depressing. A few months ago, I was waking up in the morning in a sweaty panic because I was having so much trouble finding a job. Now I don't give a shit. I don't give a shit about anything, and it feels good. My grad school plans are fucked, my job situation is fucked, and in a few more months, my checking and savings accounts will be fucked. I don't give a shit. I've got real freedom right now. It probably won't last. This is what I care about: My wife, family, friends, books, music, movies, art, writing, good food, good drinks, living. When I get a job, hopefully it won't depress the hell out of me, but they always do. Now that grad school's out, I want to get a house and a dog and a cat and continue to read, listen to music, watch movies, write, eat, drink, hang out with my friends, maybe luck into a job that doesn't disgust me, travel a little bit. That sounds good to me. That sounds like what I want to do until I'm dead. Too bad the university I wanted to attend will probably end up teaching classes about the representation of lesbianism on TV's "Friends" and the religious symbolism of "The Matrix" and churning out students who go on to write books like "Digital Diasporics: Reimaging Africanity in Cyberspace" (actual book title) that five other academics will read, but my life goes on. At least I'm not floating in a two-foot pool of feces-ridden water in New Orleans, am I right? Something will happen to me eventually. I will once again receive a steady paycheck and hopefully luck into having a meaningful life.

Reading: An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

These new indie kids need to eat a cheeseburger, run a comb through their hair, and spend a little time in the sun

I haven't been posting much lately. I was in New Orleans for a week, then an unexpected trip to Nebraska for a funeral two days after the NO trip. 45 hours in a car in two weeks. Then New Orleans floods. I didn't know if my friend and gentleman scholar, Professor Romance, was okay for a few days. Fortunately, he escaped to Houston, then Florida, but he's probably lost most of his stuff and his college is closed for a semester. There's lots to say about this flood, but I'm not up to it. It's just bad. Very bad. In this early retirement/poor life decision/necessary insane gesture/winter of my discontent/endless summer/neverending dance party I've launched myself into without a Plan B, I've taken two separate trips to New Orleans and fallen in queasy, degenerate love with the place. It must rebuild. It's below sea level. That kind of lunatic hubris needs to be respected. Nature will fuck all of us up bad one way or another. Nature is a bad motherfucker. The world is a scary place and life is brutal and short. Eat animals. They'll eat you first if they get the chance. Drink, cavort, be merry. Get as much pleasure out of this shithole as you can.
For some stupid reason that escapes me now, I've decided to apply for grad school. I've been studying for the GRE these last two weeks. It's probably pointless. My undergrad transcripts are the equivalent of a three-year-old coffee-stained map of Afghanistan. Lots of As, Bs, Cs. An F. No Ds, though. Fuck. I've had a weird month. I feel like a kicked skeleton. I need some luck. Maybe I'll go to clown school.

Reading: Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind
These Norwegian Black Metal guys are some of the most hilariously stupid people who ever lived. It would be easier to laugh at them if many of them weren't neo-Nazis or in jail for murder and arson. They got the writers they deserved, too. I don't think the book has touched an editor's hands. The writing is disorganized, pretentious, repetitive, ridiculous, and unintentionally funny, just like the bands. These guys have names like Euronymous, Dead, Hellhammer, and Count Grishnackh. Check out this quote from Dead about his band Mayhem's stage show: "Pigheads, as well as other heads, is what we try to have at all gigs." After Dead committed suicide, his roommates Euronymous and Hellhammer found the body. Hellhammer: "Euronymous thought of sawing his arm off and putting it under a glass display case, but he figured it wouldn't be very smart because the police would probably ask where his arm was." I love the use of the word "probably" in that quote. Genius.

Thursday, September 01, 2005