Thursday, December 30, 2004

Rocket Propellants, Belly Dancing Lesbians and Beer

A couple of high school friends, home for the holidays, have sadly left too soon to celebrate the New Year with me. I suppose they haven't forgotten the year before last, when I accidentally took Britta to a belly dancing lesbian New Year's Eve party. She had requested a night out with hot guys (she's a field biologist, so the only males she tends to see are raccoons or ticks or things like that).

I actually meant to take her to my friend Carrie's art gallery New Year's party (which always has at least a few interesting men). But when a storm wrecked the place, Carrie said Come On Over to My House We're Moving the Party Here. We walked in to see a Christmas tree filled with photos of naked women and a house full of very nice lesbians, who were drinking and belly dancing. The only man there was an Eminem imposter name Hector, and Hector was impossible to talk to because he had to keep answering his cell phone saying things like Yo Yo Yo What's the Dough? or something like that. We had a good time anyway, but Britta swears she'll never let me take her to a party again...

However, I still managed to get face time this year with a couple of the high school buds. We dragged my brothers along and drank many beers at a seedy bar in Ybor city. Heather needed it specially, I'm afraid; she's a rocket scientist stuck in UTAH, of all places. After a few beers, she and my brother Jason (he tests jet engines) became very competitive over who has seen the best explosions at work. They spent at least a half hour bragging about all the huge shrapnel they've seen. Heather won; rocket propellants are much more exciting than jet fuel, and she's created shrapnel the size of a small compact car!

The rest of us felt really left out though. I NEVER get to blow ANYTHING up at work; it's quite disappointing. Why didn't I study rocket science??? Even my brother Matt is doing some interesting things-- he builds robots, and there's always the off chance that one of those might explode, I suppose. My job is so boring sometimes....

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Coughing, Hacking and a Lunch Date

They've started calling me "Wheezy" at work now; I suppose that qualifies me as the eighth dwarf since I'm not stubby with a beard like other techies I know. All I do is cough, hack, and stare morosely at my computer screen while avoiding meetings with other coughing and hacking people. It's like the latest nerd gang sign or something; you say hello and the other person coughs or wheezes at you while complaining about the weather. Ugh.

I had a nice lunch date today, though. Luckily I didn't try to meet him at the wrong Italian restaurant this time; instead, I accidentally invited him to a Middle Eastern restaurant after he told me how much he loathes Middle Eastern food. But we seem to get along rather well since we're both weird, charming, geeky and sickly; plus, he can beat me at air hockey.

Dating is SO awkward however. Especially when people "lean" in-- I mean, how can you tell if they are trying to shake your hand, hug you, or kiss you? Or maybe they've just tripped or something. And the whole paying thing is so confusing these days. I really wish I could just print out a little questionnaire and hand it out at the very first meeting:

***Please circle one answer per question***

(1) Paying on the first date?
a. I think the man should ALWAYS pay on the first date!
b. The man should pay, but the woman should pretend to rummage around her purse a bit
c. I am fine with going "dutch"
d. I am broke

(2) Displays of affection while dating?
a. I always have my hands/lips/other body part all over the other person on the first date
b. Only frigid people don't kiss after meeting for the first time
c. Hug or hand shake on the first date, possibly a kiss on the second
d. I have a germ phobia, so I don't like physical contact

(3) Dating intentions?
a. I'm looking for a one-night stand
b. I'm looking for a girlfriend
c. I want to enjoy myself and meet people, possibly find a girlfriend
d. My biological clock is ticking, and I've already bought the tickets to Vegas

(4) Manners?
a. I loudly announce all my farts
b. I will trample small children and animals in my manly dash to open your front door
c. I usually have excellent manners and I love my mother
d. I live in a fraternity house

(5) Politics?
a. Right-wing nutjob
b. Liberal weiner
c. Independant/open-minded
d. Nazi

(6) Sex?
a. I'm gay and/or celibate
b. Yes please
c. Only when I get to know someone well enough
d. I have a rubber/clown/pony/S&M/other fetish. Let me tell you all about it.

(7) Medical History?
a. I have a sexually transmitted disease/tumor
b. I like to complain about all my aches and pains
c. I have no major or abnormal issues that prevent me from enjoying life
d. I have had a psychotic breakdown, just like the rest of my family

(8) Hobbies?
a. All I do is watch sports/porn
b. I fish every weekend/play a LOT of golf
c. I have at least one interesting hobby and I like to go out
d. I don't like to leave the house

(9) Religion?
a. Cult member
b. Buddhist/Jewish/Hindu
c. Spiritual but not religious/Agnostic/religious but open-minded/Atheist
d. Apocalyptic Christian Fundamentalist/Southern Baptist/Voodoo priest

(10) Employment?
a. No thank you
b. I hate my job at Burger King/Denny's
c. I am currently employed with a career I enjoy or I am actively job seeking
d. I was just released from jail after going postal at my last company

***Thank You and Have a Nice Day***

Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas Debris and Other Natural Disasters

I am back online after coughing and wheezing through the holiday. As it turns out, Santa was rather good to me, despite the fact that I am sometimes Naughty.

Our Jewish friends, Lori and Scott, celebrated with our family and our cats; I suppose they decided What The Hell Let's Go Whole Hog, because they also brought a lovely ham (marinated in Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola). I, of course, baked three amazingly delicious apple pies that people will discuss for years to come.

Lori and Scott also brought their rug rats, Jody (18 months) and Alex a.k.a Batman a.k.a Peter Pan (3 1/2 years) to wreak mild havoc and entertain us all. As my siblings and I show no signs of popping out babies anytime soon, Jody and Alex also have the added bonus of functioning as the emergency backup grandchildren. Unlike many of my friends, I recieve no pained sighs, hand-wringing or queries as to Why Don't You Have A Boyfriend And Do You Think You Shall Ever Marry? Thanks guys!

Unfortunately, the house now resembles the aftermath of a small cyclone, with shredded paper and bows littering the floor. We may have produced more trash than a year's supply of Cosmo.

The next plan of action is to decide what to do for New Year's. I am trying to decide whether to attend an Unusual Hat party in St. Petersburg or the Covivant art gallery party in Tampa (or both if I speed a bit, I suppose).

However, it is difficult to think of celebrating when so many people have lost their lives in the tsunami disaster this week; many of us have been glued to the television and horrified to see photos of children sleeping in the street-- only to realize they aren't sleeping, they've drowned. I am a bleeding heart crybaby, so I am donating $$ to the Red Cross online site here. I hope others do the same...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I Attempt to Wrap Presents But Create a Huge Mess

I don't know how I manage to break the laws of physics, but when I wrap a few presents using two rolls of giftwrap I produce 32 tons of festive waste. There's paper, peanuts, shredded tissue and twisted tape everywhere-- but I have only wrapped FIVE items. Twelve others are waiting gloomily underneath the mess.

A friend told me that I "wrap like a man", so perhaps that's the reason.

The styrofoam peanuts are what really annoy me; they're a bit like plastic Easter grass in that they never truly go away. I am 31 years old, so it has been AT LEAST 15 years since my mother stopped giving us Easter baskets-- yet I still find bits of the stuff here and there, tucked away in corners, behind boxes, in closets...

It just keeps mutating like some irradiated organism from a badly dubbed 1950s drive-in flick: "Attack of the Grass!", "Evil is Green!", "Sod From Hell!", or maybe just "Grass, the Revenge!". It would have the unsuspecting all-American family (astronaut father, Stepford-style housewife, busty daughter, and a small dog) who attempt to celebrate Easter, only to discover that nearby nuclear waste has generated enough atomic energy to change innocuous Easter grass into deadly mutant plant life capable of destroying Life As We Know It. The police and National Guard are called in, but it is a young blond hero with chiseled features who manages to avert the lurking menace with a top-secret hydrogen-powered lawnmower. Of course he later marries the busty daughter and they all live happily ever after -- or at least until the sequel: "Grass II: Return of the Sod"

hmmm.... maybe I need to take a little less Benadryl next time....

Monday, December 20, 2004

Dr. Paul Bearer from Creature Feature

Dr. Paul Bearer Posted by Hello

Attack of the Giant Leeches!

A very cool artist I know just traded some art for a holiday in Paris; while I sit here expelling phlegm he and his wife get to eat baguettes, buy overpriced designer fashions and listen to street musicians play "La Vie En Rose" every half hour. It just isn't fair!

They've asked Frank (another artist I know) to house-sit, which involves drinking weird wine and taking care of two manic dogs. One is a corgi that slobbers on everything; the other one is just an asshole; he literally steals food from your mouth, pees when excited, and leaps over tall couches in a single bound. I know that his owners love him, but clearly they are mad.

Frank is odd and very nice; so when he invited me and Kathie/Brandt over to watch B movies, I ran over with a big bag of food and Riki-O: The Story of Riki! He had Attack of the Giant Leeches and The Screaming Skull, both wonderful classics in the B horror genre. I believe both were shown on Dr. Paul Bearer's Creature Feature, which was the highlight of every Saturday when I was a kid in the early 80s.

I really miss Creature Feature. Dr. Paul Bearer dressed as a fashionably scarred zombie who spouted terrible puns ("I'll be lurking for you!") and sang old Tom Lehrer songs like "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park". He was SO much better than Elvira and played all these great old movies like 13 Ghosts, The Mummy, and The Gamma People. When I was in kindergarten, he visited our Halloween festival and gave me an autographed photo; my mother said I kept it for ages...

Attack of the Giant Leeches was hilarious and became even more interesting when I discovered that it was actually filmed in Florida! It starred a bunch of terrible actors with fake Southern accents, a leading man who liked to take off his shirt, and two people in giant rubber leech costumes. The leeches ran around the swamp and gave people giant hickeys, so it was very amusing.

The Screaming Skull was vaguely Edgar Allen Poe-ish and had wonderfully bad special effects. The screaming skull was plastic but very active; it constantly ran around scaring people and screaming incomprehensibly. I loved the scene where the actor playing the villain held the skull up to his neck and tried to make it look as if it was attacking him.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Chilly Weekend During Which I Wear a Large Hat and Attend a Graduation

Brrr. Someone should really do something about the weather here in Tampa. While I do appreciate the fact that I can now wear my charming little sweaters again, I am tired of all the false advertising: "Florida, The Sunshine State!", "Florida, the Land of Citrus and Sunshine!", "Welcome to Sunny Florida!", blah blah blah blah. There must be some sort of regulation against the temperature dropping below 60 degrees; if there isn't, the politicians should think about writing one; it isn't as if they're doing anything USEFUL anyway.

But, I am a rock and decided to leave the house despite the inclement weather, which was perfect for my favorite large hat and a wool suit. My friend Debbie had decided to graduate at the UNGODLY hour of 10:30 a.m. in an unheated stadium, so I had to be prepared. Her best friend Bill (who always wears a slightly worried expression) sat with me throughout the entire ceremony, which followed the time-honored and unwritten rules of graduation ceremonies everywhere:

1. All graduates must wear the tackiest, shiniest polyester robes they can find in order to best resemble an ambulatory circus tent

2. The sound system is required to stop working at least once, according to union regulations. Organizations that do not provide at least one ear-piercing whistle and 10 seconds of feedback will be fined fifty dollars.

3. The stage is required to hold (a) three plastic potted palms or (b) one shrub. Flowers are optional.

4. A minimum of two audience members with mullets must provide loud horns and/or whistles to prevent the audience from accidentally overhearing the names of graduating seniors.

5. All audience members with children younger than 5 are required to distribute themselves evenly throughout the audience for maximum crying coverage. Violaters will be fined.

6. At least one graduate must break down and cry uncontrollably in the middle of his or her speech

7. The ceremony must include one speech given by a graduate who has overcome some sort of "obstacle". The preferred list includes, but is not limited to: cancer, paralysis, Tourette's Syndrome, amputation, birth defects, learning disabilities, blindness, and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

8. No fewer than ten speeches are to be given. Each must last more than eight minutes and include at least two of the following words or phrases:
"Since 9/11"
"hope for the future"
"freedom" (or "liberty")
"years of dedication and hard work"
"inspiration to those who follow"
"the greatest country in the world"
"American values"

9. The National Anthem must be sung slightly off-key after everyone forgets the words to the alma mater

10. A minimum of two prayers are to be given by an elderly minister who is slightly deaf. Additional prayers are to be included if more than ten percent of the audience is non-Christian.

Luckily, Debbie graduated from a smallish sort of college so the cermony only lasted three hours instead of the traditional five.

After stopping to buy some tasty books from Haslam's bookstore ("Over 1,000,000 books in stock!"), I joined Bill, Debbie and her family for a post graduation luncheon at some Italian restaurant outside a mall-- to get there I had to walk two miles through herds of demented shoppers in SUVs. Our flaming friend Carlos ("I'm a man with a twist!") joined us and we drank wine and ate yummy non-Italian Italian food. I would recommend the restaurant if I could remember the name-- their desserts were bigger than my face.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Italian For Beginners Part 2 or From When Make the Talk of the Monkeys?

I was out sick today, so I was very, very BORED.

I wanted to add more to my Italian post from yesterday, but discovered that I had reached the limits of my vocabulary. While I remembered a few additional tidbits, such as vaffunculo (screw you!), they weren't enough to really use for anything. So I located the online professional services of World Lingo to aid me in compiling translations of useful insults for cubicle workers.

The best part was when I tried to translate them BACK to English. Now I know where all those cheesy martial arts subtitles come from -- and I now feel prepared for a lucrative job in the Hong Kong film industry.


Your mama wears combat boots!
Il vostro mama porta i caricamenti del sistema di combattimento!
Yours mama door the loadings of the combat system!

You have a very tiny brain and are not afraid to use it
Avete un cervello molto molto piccolo e non siete impauriti usarlo.
You have a brain a lot much small and you are not frightened to use it.

wanna make something of it, dirt bag?
desideri fare qualcosa di esso, sacchetto della sporcizia?
desires to make something of it, bag of the soil?

Is that your face or did your head explode?
è quella la vostra faccia o la vostra testa ha esploso?
It is that one yours you make or your head has exploded?

since when do monkeys talk?
da quando faccia il colloquio delle scimmie?
from when make the talk of the monkeys?

you are a big crybaby and you kiss a lot of butt
siete un grande gridate il bambino e baciate l'estremità

you are a large one screamed the child and kissed the extremity a lot

please go back to your home planet before I kill you
vada prego di nuovo al vostro pianeta domestico prima che li uccida
it goes I pray before of new to your domestic planet that it kills them


I now want to compose a screenplay composed entirely of World Lingo translations! Desires to make something of it, bag of the soil?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Italian For Beginners

It's rather sad. After meeting Anna's friend Simone, I attempted to dredge up what little remained of my university Italian. I managed a few comprehensible sentences, but finally had to give up. Besides "C'e' qualcuno qui che parla inglese?" (is there anyone here who speaks English?), I can remember a few useless words and phrases -- mostly for cursing at taxi drivers and fending off gypsies.

I have constructed dialogue based entirely on some of the few things I remember:

"mamma mia! dove è la stanza da bagno??" (gosh! where is the bathroom??)
"non sento" (I can't hear you)
"merda!" (shit!)

"ho fame. dove è la fragola? (I'm hungry. where is the strawberry?)
"non lo so" (I don't know)
"è pazzo? ma che! (are you crazy? Nonsense!)

"Attenzione!" (watch out!)
"ma che cosa?" (what's the matter with you?)
"la camera è sporca!" (the room is dirty!)
"merda!" (shit!)

"andiamo alla spiaggia" (let's go to the beach)
"perchè" (why?)
"perché ho un costume de bagno rosso" (because I have a red bathing suit)

"Ho un piccolo libro" (I have a small book)
"è buono?" (is it good?)
"no" (no)
"merda!" (shit!)

"mi lasce in pace!" (leave me alone!)
"perchè" (why?)
"perché ho gamberetti grandi!" (because I have large prawns!)

"aiuto! desidero un piccolo caffè" (help! I want a small coffee)
"no" (no)
"perchè" (why?)
"odio i pattini" (I dislike your shoes)
"merda!" (shit!)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Nerd Herds and Apple Pie

Because I am still wallowing in singleness I decided to hit the I.T. holiday party with friends. I invited the adorably accented Anna, and Stephany invited Simone the short Italian man. Our group formed a typical nerd herd with Shawn and his wife, Debbie and her new boy toy, Cynthia and Chad. The party constituted an even larger nerd herd, but everyone had the good sense to not talk shop; probably because they were too busy gambling. I decided to wear a sassy outfit and exciting stockings because you really can't be too careful these days. I mean, what if the car breaks down and an attractive young man stops to help? One must be prepared.

Because I am bored and I like the sound of "a herd of nerds", I thought of other group names that improve on the old "pride of lions" and "a business of ferrets" theme:

1. a clot of goths
2. a sum of accountants
3. a smear of politicians
4. a spat of siblings
5. a twinkle of drag queens
6. a giggle of school girls
7. a snarl of lawyers
8. a hush of librarians
9. a vanity of actors
10. a @!$#! of bikers

I suppose it's obvious that I'm procrastinating on some things right now...

On Sunday I accidentally made apple pies with Cynthia (for the fourth weekend in a row). We're absolutely depraved, I'm afraid. I try not to make apple pie, really I do, but somehow it just keeps happening. And of course we can't let it go to waste, so we HAVE to eat it. And you just can't eat it properly without the proper amount of vanilla bean ice cream... yum!

Also watched the latest Zatoichi movie with the blind Japanese masseuse who kicks serious yakuza butt-- yeah! Then I went to help my mother decorate the Christmas tree with little mice and angels and things.

Then I went home. The End

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I Hate Christmas Carols

It's official-- I hate Christmans carols. Retailers have been playing them since THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN and I have finally reached the breaking point. I just cannot listen to White Christmas Jingle Bells Decking the Halls in a Winter Wonderland with Boughs of Holly one more time, or I may do something drastic. I have stopped listening to the radio stations; I don't go to the mall; I don't watch television. However, if you see me screaming on my rooftop, you will know that something managed to get through and I just couldn't handle it anymore.

Other things I hate about Christmas:
1. I can NEVER find gift boxes in the right sizes. Ever.

2. Those awful "cinnamon-scented" brooms and "hearth-scented" candles that supermarkets display-- they make me sneeze

3. Obnoxious outdoor decorations -- I keep seeing these dinky little houses that seem about to collapse under the combined weight of millions of lights, stuffed animals, plastic reindeer, fake sleighs, baby Jesuses, fluffy sheep, stoned-looking angels, spinning tops, electric train sets, plastic poinsettas and gigantic snowflakes. Not only that, but people are now startng to display giant inflatable snowmen and things (occasionally taller than the house itself)

4. Fliers that advertise "professionals" who can come and decorate your house for you

5. Sweaters with spangled, jingling, sparkling, or fluffy holiday decorations on them

6. Huge crowds, usually due to desperate people fighting over this year's Tickle Me Elmo or Cabbage Patch Kid

7. Charlie Brown's Christmas. I HATE Charlie Brown's Christmas (although I still rather like A Christmas Story)

8. Singing knick-knacks -- especially if they're singing Christmas carols and dancing at the same time

9. festive ties -- particularly the red kind with little white snowmen

10. Did I mention the Christmas carols?

While I rather enjoy buying interesting (and occasionally demented) presents for family and friends, there are things I would love to remove from the holiday season....

Monday, December 06, 2004

My Very Own Evil Lair

Last night I went over to help make yummy apple pie and watch Spiderman 2 at Cynthia's house...

Having seen this movie about four times, I have concluded that Dr. Octopus is a very lame Evil Villain. His not-so-secret Evil lair was falling apart, he was completely out of shape, and he had absolutely NO evil henchmen. No flying troops of winged monkeys, no psychotic dwarves, not even a subservient hunchback. Nothing. If he had at least designed a better lair, he might have succeeded in blowing up the city...

I actually think that I need a secret Evil lair myself. I would call it the "The Big Spiky Fortress of Doom", and it would be full of trapdoors and tunnels that lead to secret laboratories with all sorts of interesting chemicals and things. I would wear a long black cape and shiny black boots with little gold lightning bolts drawn on them... maybe a little mask with devil horns would be a good idea too.

I'm not yet sure about my Evil Plan for taking over the world yet. I suppose I need to flesh that out a bit. But the henchmen are NO problem -- all I have to do is drive over to Ybor city and pick up a few crack-heads.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Kick-Ass Art at the Winter Salon

Friday night I went to the Winter Salon at the Matthews gallery and bought a funny little digital print by Cat Thompson; it's titled "The Rules of Engagement, or Always Make Sure Your Ammo Bag Matches Your Hair"; for some reason, it seems vaguely manga-like, and depicts a large toy doll with candy-pink hair, a candy-pink ammunition bag, camouflage fatigues, and a big fat gun. It's kick-ass, and it's also an artist's proof -- so I have the only one! bwah-ha-ha ha ha!!!

I told my friends they can come and visit it whenever they want.

Other cool artists at the Salon: Jack Barrett, David Williams, Michael Peters, Kathie Olivas, Brandt Peters, Brandon Dunlap, Thomas Murray, etc. Ate cheeses and drank a little wine with Kathie, who gets tipsy much faster than anyone else I know. Saw my friend Maelyn, who has the most charming eyelashes you will ever see, and Josh, who films crazy skateboarding movies; also talked to Frank Strunk, who's a very interesting artist (mainly metalwork)-- I may have to take him up on his offer to watch ATTACK OF THE KILLER LEECHES!!!!

Afterwords went out with Maelyn and Keith to a fun little Mexican place, something called Viva La Gusta!, or Mi Gusta La Viva!, or Gusta Gusta Viva! Something like that. We enjoyed their very yummy guacamole, and Keith told us all about his autistic neighbor, Buck. Buck is apparently so weird that he exudes a sort of alien hipness; he is obsessed with Royalty, holds mock coronations at his house, and occasionally hires limos to drive him around town (in his purple cape and glittering crown). When he's on a budget, he apparently hires a taxi.

I am completely unsurprised to hear about Buck. Buck is completely normal for Florida, and fits right in with other locals I've seen previously: Peter Pan (a very nice guy who dresses like Peter Pan every day, even for work); Oliver, the ambiguously French(?) guy who goes around wearing clown pants, clown shoes, and spangled wigs; Spook, a girl who wears a corset 23 hours a day and is trying to capture the world's smallest waist title (she looks like a wasp); Cynthia, the attractive ex-guy who runs the Castle; Sterling, the flaming social commentator who vaguely resembles Mephistopheles with a high-pitched voice; and too many others to list on this page.

There's just something about Florida, especially places like Key West and Tampa, that seems to attract a colorful crowd...