Thursday, March 20, 2008

Less Talking, More Doing

Gearing up for Dean and Jenny's Great Overland Reverse Pioneer Excursion to Colorado Springs at O-Dark-Thirty Saturday morning.

Moving and long distance drives. Two of my favorite ways to suffer.

I've got to go wash something, program something, write something down for the dog sitter, groom something, or sleep.

See y'all on the flip side. Ten-four, over and out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Get Up Offa That Thing, Mr. Fry

Stephen Fry has a new podcast, or blogcast, if you will (and if you won't, hey, no big thang). The second installment is partly about his revulsion towards dancing, which, even for non-dancers, borders on the pathological.

I know, I will listen to almost anything spoken in a Scottish, Irish, Welsh, or, as a last resort, English accent. It's part of my own pathology. But Mr. Fry almost always tells me something I didn't know, or haven't heard, in the most ever-so-correct King's English. It's quite stimulating, yet soothing at the same time.

His troubles abiding the dance remind me of Drew's issues. Drew, of course, is not so messed up that the very fact that he does not excel at it make him unable to appreciate it, or in Mr. Fry's case, even witness it (did you follow that? I may have gotten lost there in the middle, but I think I left a trail of bread crumbs). But it does give me a small appreciation of what it is like to lack the dance gene.

And I call it a gene, because in those possessing it, it can possess us. Can you listen to Madonna's Vogue without doing a little, um, voguing? Can you listen to Haddaway's What Is Love without bobbing your head like Jim Carrey on SNL?

If music makes you twitch, and get up, and flop around like a flounder out of water, you've got the gene. You don't have to be a good dancer, you just have to need to dance.

Those who do not have it can sit quietly and happily listen to James Brown's Get Up Offa That Thing, and those who do are absolutely powerless to sit still.

I am really happy for Dean's generation, as they are so much more free to dance with or without a partner of whatever gender. When Drew and I were in high school, we either had to troll for a dance partner, or sit and wait for someone to settle for us. Luckily, I did not grow up in the generation of girls forced to wait for an invitation, and I went trolling when I needed to.

As I believe the dance gene resides on the X chromosome, I'm pretty sure that I have a double dose, which can be a blessing and a curse.

I am completely at sea in social situations, and can be shy to the point of muteness. But when put in a situation that includes dancing, I lose all my inhibitions, and become the picture beside the definition of "dancing fool." This can be helpful, allowing some people to realize that I'm not the arrogant prig I seemed at first, but am actually quite jolly and possibly mildly retarded.

That is okay with me, as "retarded and jolly" beats "arrogant prig" in my book. With the exception of presidents. But it's hard to get used to the amused looks.

Where was I? I was going to mention the fact that dancing, although you can do a pretty good job of avoiding it, will normally be thrust upon you once a year or so, which is unusual for any other activity. Say you hate bowling and you don't like standing up in front of a bunch of people, throwing gutter balls. In this case, it is easy to avoid ever having to bowl. But dancing is different. Weddings, holiday parties, bars, dancing can jump out at you, and you can not always gracefully decline.

I suppose someone like Stephen Fry, who has excelled at so many things (acting, writing, film production, knowledge vacuuming), would find it most unpleasant to be forced to do something he does not understand and finds completely, Britishly ridiculous. Luckily Drew is of sturdier stuff and can abide a little dancing every once in a while.

More luckily, these days I'm free to grab anyone else with the dancing gene to join me, and do not necessarily have to force Drew out on the floor. Although he is my favorite partner.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Captain Steps Up

Drew is on a temporary assignment as Battalion Chief for a couple months. His rotation started on Friday. For you uninitiated, this means he gets to wear a white shirt, drive the Fire SUV, and tell everybody how to put the water on the fire.

At the same time, his faithful sidekicks were both promoted to Captain. Of course, they will not be taking on the mantle of Captain America, but they are welcome to use any other country name in their superhero title. Captain Belgium sounds nice.

Needless to say they were in the mood to celebrate at the fire station on Friday.

Celebrations at the fire station consist of the consumption of mass quantities of meat, followed by several gallons of ice cream, followed by largely unsuccessful attempts at watching an action-packed, explosion-filled man-movie, interrupted as they inevitably are by fire calls (or more likely, lame calls for bogus fire alarms and tummy aches) or spontaneous, meat-induced napping.

I made one of my once-a-year appearances at the fire station to help celebrate. Nothing has changed. The living room is still full of giant-sized recliners lined up in front of the TV, the kitchen is a maze of refrigerators - one for each shift to cut down on (but by no means eliminate) inter-shift pilfering - and ugly dishes. Citizens, you can rest easy knowing that your tax dollars are not being wasted on china (or forks with all the tines facing the proper direction, for that matter) for the fire stations.

And lastly, I dare you to place your face on the carpet in the dining room and not come away with a methicillin-resistant strain of staph infection. It would be safer to lick the engine bay floors than to touch that carpet.

Congratulations to all the up-and-comers. See you in a year or so.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Here. Look At Something Pretty.

We often run into Avalon's paintings in galleries at the coast. Here are a couple we saw in Newport. The kindly proprietor allowed us to take these photos.

All done with pallette knives. All. I like to limit myself to pallette knives sometimes, but the effect is not the same. It keeps me from being too literal. For Avalon, pallette knives don't seem to have any limiting effect at all.

All done with a pallette knife. I said that, right?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Highlights from My Night Out

I went to see Craig Ferguson last night. Well, actually, Drew drove me to see Craig Ferguson last night. Well, actually, I-5 was a parking lot and we had to reach the Aladdin Theater, which is on the other side of Portland, in an out-of-the-way area that is by no means charming, and then have some dinner so as to prevent me from dying, so I worried that we wouldn't make it in time, and the traffic would continue to suck, and that we wouldn't be able to find anything to eat, and that we would miss the show, while Drew continued to drive.

As you may know, there is a Secret Bridge you have to cross to get to Milwaukie Avenue ("where bars go to become saloons)", where the Aladdin Theater is, and it is tricky navigating your way through Portland (or should we say Rosaria, because it's more, you know, Tolkein-y) to get access the Secret Bridge. Luckily, Drew knows the most pathologically circuitous route possible, which must be good for points somewhere, but made me worry about missing the show. Oh, and the part where we tried to share physical space and time with another F-250 bent on our destruction. HEAR THIS F-250S: YOU WILL LOSE AND THE PRIUSES OF THE WORLD WILL WIN. EVENTUALLY.

Where was I? So we made it across the Secret Bridge and found parking. It was 5:30 and people were already in line for the 7:00 show! This made me extremely worried, (a) because it was cold and rainy, thus I could not see myself standing in that line like an idiot, and (b) I was losing consciousness from hunger (yes, you can still worry while unconscious).

So we found a German restaurant nearby, and if you know German restaurants, this could go very well or very, very, badly.

It went well, if you don't count my looking at my watch every two minutes, and the bill (holy, moly, it's expensive to have a decent but not spectacular meal in this saloon-infested land). I worried about whether I read the bill correctly.

By the time we reached the theater, the lined-up people had long since gone in, but Drew found me a seat in the balcony on the aisle with a clear view of the stage (whew), and THEN he went and got me something to drink. (Duuuude. He's really not bad.)

Craig Ferguson's opening act was a Randy Kagan, who was funny and freshy-fresh. He writes for the Late, Late Show.

Craig Ferguson was that delicious blend of too-clever and so-silly; but the couple in front of us may have been funnier. How deaf do you have to be to not hear a comic using a microphone in a small theater with refrigerator-sized amps for the rock acts that they usually host? However deaf that is, that's how deaf he was. Oddly, he seemed to be able to hear everything but the punchlines. For those, he would look at his wife with his "huh?" face, and she would repeat the punchlines.

So our experience went something like this:

punchline: "...there are Osmonds more Hispanic than this guy."

["huh?" look] "THE OSMONDS." [laugh]

punchline: "I guessed that the bowling helps them pass the time between dental visits."

["huh?" look] "DENTAL VISITS [laugh]

punchline: "well, maybe if it was a swanky Belgian octopus..."

["huh?" look] "SWANKY BELGIAN OCTOPUS." [confused chuckle]

punchline: "because I have a huuuge cock."

me: "oh, come on, say it, say it!"

["huh?" look] [nervous laughter]

me: "chicken."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What Year Is It in The Land of Heloise?

I did not know that Hints from Heloise, a column dedicated to extreme homemaking, still existed until I resubscribed to Vancouver's ultra-right-wing paper, The Columbian (motto: What Would Cheney Do?).

Why did I resubscribe? I don't know. Not enough sources of red-hot fury in my life? I thought I could use a reality check on what the other, unthinking, unfeeling, unwashed, half thinks (apparently they think that firefighters should work seven 12-hour days a week according today's winning editorial letter-writer).

I'm getting off track. I wanted this post to have little other than this helpful hint, sent to Heloise by a helpful hinter from Chino Valley, Arizona:

Dear Heloise: My husband doesn't like the crumbs in the bottom of the cereal box.
When it's bran flakes, I use a colander to strain the crumbs off and save them until I'm making bran muffins. If it's cornflakes, I crush them further for crumbs for coating fish or the top of casseroles.

I hope Gloria Steinem doesn't read The Columbian. This might just send her into a spiral of depression from which she could not recover.

Cue Tina Fey's brilliant "Bitch is the New Black" rant on Hillary Clinton, stat!