Saturday, January 30, 2010

Too Cold for Crackheads

The-Guy-Who-Knows-A-Song-About-A-Chicken and some friends and I went to Lola's last night and there was no crackhead outside to watch our car. That's because it has yet again gotten too cold for hanging around on street corners here in tropical Houston, Texas.

Dag nab it.

I don't have any really good pictures of Lola's, but of course have a picture of the toilet in the men's room from my bar bathrooms tour:Normally when we go to a bar near downtown, a crackhead offers to watch our car. And then we're supposed to pay him some measly amount that presumably he's going to spend on beer or crack or what have you. But they DON'T spend every penny on mind altering substances. Or at least all of them don't.

I happen to know because one day I was stopped at a traffic light back in the early 90s in my shiny, new red pick up truck. Being somewhere around 22 years old, I also had a six pack of beer rolling around the floorboard of the passenger seat.

A pan handler appeared at my window and asked if I had any change. Change?!?! I didn't have change! Or dollar bills either for that matter.

What I did have was my cute little apartment, the one and only new car I have ever bought, a few snacks, and a six pack of beer. That pretty much precludes the existence of spare change.

Still, I had some things and out of those options, I offered they guy snacks and beer. He was willing to take the snacks. But as for the beer, he told me, "I don't drink."

Even at 22, it was a little embarrassing. HE was the street person, but I was the drinker? Mostly it was a relief though, because that meant that all those people who told me, "Don't give those people money! They'll only spend it on alcohol!" were exaggerating at best.

Even so I had already decided it really didn't matter to me WHAT the bums did with the money. My only worry was whether or not I wanted to give a quarter if I happened to have one. It's totally the street person's own responsibility how to spend all those measly earnings.

I actually don't know what substances they are or aren't abusing, really. I just know that I've always heard the people who hang out downtown offering to watch cars for money referred to as crackheads.

And I know that I'm the one who is going inside to drink, after all. And I know that my car has never been broken into while a "crackhead" has been watching it.

So hopefully it will warm up before we hit the bars again. Because I don't own clothing adequate for 30 degree weather. And neither do the street people. Apparently.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tattooed Fish Don't Last Forever You Know

In turns out Houston has been snubbed yet again. You'd think that Houston, known for its many sex shops and strip clubs, would be a natural location for a billboard announcing the infidelity of the co-president of Oracle:

After all, we have not just strip shops, but entire PLAZAS devoted to what is commonly known as sleaze:For all that do we merit one lousy Oracle-guy billboard?

New York got one, of course. San Francisco got one too. That seems reasonable. But Atlanta and not Houston? I imagine that Houstonians are outraged!

Houston is no longer the home to this guy. I don't know if anyone remembers him from a previous post, but he's dead:We went to the restaurant where he formerly resided and noticed that he no longer swam around the tank declaring his undying love for the restaurant patrons.

"What happened to the tattooed fish?" The-Guy asked the hostess. She pointed up at the ceiling, indicating fishy heaven, and explained his demise.

Apparently a known suspect (and restaurant employee) had accidentally committed mass fish murder by returning the inhabitants directly back into their freshly cleaned tank.

The tattooed fish was the brainstorm of a "crazy cook", who according to the hostess, had whipped him out of the tank and into the kitchen, tattooed him with cooking utensils, and returned him to the tank.

Who even knows how the fish survived in the kitchen? And what about the plastic wrap that covers fresh tattoos? Had the fish been afforded that luxury?

Unfortunately the hostess's English was such that we were left to our own interpretations to a certain extent. And even more unfortunately, the "crazy cook" moved on years ago so that tattooing one of the replacement fish seems unlikely.

That's the news from the greater Houston area, home to one less tattooed fish and not one stinking Oracle billboard. At least we still have The Colorado and of course the oldest and largest Art Car Parade. And the cockroaches. And the occasional hurricane. We've got a lot going for us.

The Colorado

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And So That's Why I Shouldn't See Children's Movies

Here's a picture of us having some family togetherness. Or maybe family apartness. In any case, notice the close proximity of the people yet complete lack of interaction:No, we really did talk to each other that day. Or at least my Sweet Pea chatted with The-Guy-Who-Knows-A-Song-About-A-Chicken over facebook.

Here's a picture of me and The-Guy at blues bar in town:It was taken by a friendly drunk woman from California who was in town visiting her sister. I say she was drunk. It's possible that she was just naturally boisterous, friendly, and unobservant.

There was a guy there dancing on roller skates - not just shuffling around as if he were dancing and hoping not to fall, but really, really dancing.Here's a restaurant sign my dad and I saw in New Hampshire:I think Dad figured it was all the same food, because his comment was, "Just close your eyes and pretend!"

We saw that sign on our way back from seeing that Avatar movie. I've heard people liked it, hated it, thought the story was too simple...

Me, I got all upset because I didn't realize that a movie rated for children would be so violent. There were animals burning alive and spears piercing people's chests and stuff.

"BUT if they had showed a BOOB with a nipple, then it would have been rated R!" I declared loudly in the lobby.

So then of course, I announced equally loudly that in retaliation I was going to start showing my kids porno. It's the only logical solution, after all.

About a week later my friend Beth told me that there actually were several naked alien boobies in the movie, complete with nipples. I just hadn't noticed them, because I was either too entranced by the story or too agitated by the violence.

But I feel much better just knowing they were there, and that the movie wasn't promoting violence over sex. Because why shouldn't children see both?!?!*

I had a totally appropriate and clever ending somehow fit in the blues bar and movie and wrapped it all very perfectly. But of course I forgot that ending. I'll just have to go with the obvious: I should should see less children's movies and more blues bars.

*I realize that it was rated PG-13, but to me, any movie that spawns a line of toys and video games is being marketed to children. Also, I'm totally kidding about children seeing both.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Those Hidden Camera Things Take All the Fun Out of Getting a Traffic Ticket

Me to my sweet pea yesterday:
"I'm getting sick and tired of all these traffic tickets! I'm going to have to try something new. Like obeying the law."
My most recent transgression was sent to me through the mail, which seems particularly cruel. Not only is it impossible to remember why I might or might not have committed a particular violation THREE WEEKS AGO, but all drama is removed.

I'm just innocently going through the mail when suddenly I'm attacked by a photo of my license plate.

Gone is the wondering, "Is that ME getting pulled over?!"
Gone is the panic, "What was I doing wrong? Can I find my insurance card? Is my registration up to date? What about my inspection?"

Gone is the chance to talk your way out of a ticket. I hardly ever manage, but I usually at least make the effort. I got out of one when I was 19 or 20 via this conversation:
Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: Was I going too fast?
Him: You were speeding.
Me: But I saw a deer! It came right in front of my car! It was so close!
Him: Let me get this straight. There was a deer in the road so you drove faster?!?
Me: I wanted to get home to tell my goddaughter. She's going to be so excited! I just really wanted to tell her.
Him: Well just remember this is a neighborhood. And be more careful next time.
And I WAS more careful next time. WAY more careful! And for lots and lots of next times after that. I just have trouble remembering to drive more slowly ALL the time.

And apparently I have trouble now and again remembering to stop at the yellow and red lights too. Because when I got my ticket in the mail, it showed a website where I could watch myself sailing through an intersection, not a care in the world, luckily not crushed to death by oncoming traffic, and definitely unable to talk my way out of a ticket.

In other news, it is EIGHTEEN stinking degrees here in Texas this morning. EIGHTEEN!

I'd like to know where to register my complaint.

Because we already have hurricanes and fire ants and cockroaches for crying out loud. What we do NOT have around these parts is proper insulation and air tight houses. So yes, our pipes are frozen, thank you very much.

Here are some upside down signs at that very same intersection where I got the ticket. They look like they're doing gymnastics, or at least headstands. They've been that way all week. I hope that their backs have gotten a good stretch and that they're ready to go back to work next week:

I hope everyone had a good first week in 2010!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Years Means You Can't Always Get What You Want. Sort of like the rest of life.

New Years has always been a big deal in my family, although we've simplified a few of our traditions. We've gone from entire grocery bags filled to the brim with confetti to a single, illicit handful, furtively tossed by my nephew.

The-Guy-Who-Knows-A-Song-About-A-Chicken not only shares my love for songs about poultry, but has also brought us a new tradition, called a Turducken. That means a dead chicken stuffed inside a dead duck stuffed inside a dead turkey.My brother said he's impressed they can market any food which begins with the word "turd" and then he proceeded to write a short song about it. Turducken has now been the food centerpiece three years running.

We've been listening to the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" at the stroke of midnight since I was too young to remember (also known as the early 70s). I predict this tradition spreads across the USA to become more popular than whatever that ball dropping thing is.

One tradition I'd like to see minimized - lately we seem to make our way into the ER each winter vacation. Last year my brother used his knee to stop a sled carrying a full grown adult. Needless to say crutches and physical therapy were in order.

This year my sweet pea had a post viral restricted airway, more commonly known as an asthma attack. Would you believe she was a good enough sport to pose for a picture?Not to be outdone, my littlest nephew's trip to the ER involved strep throat. He's a good sport too. And he offered to let me take a picture of his red throat (ok, he didn't). But you can never have enough pictures of a baby in a guitar case:

Some traditions I hope we never give up. I hope my brother will continue to wear a silly hat while pouring a champagne tower. It just makes me happy.So does the dancing:Even better if followed by guitar:Happy New Years everyone! This one brought to you by the Rolling Stones, as always:
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
but if you try sometimes
you just might just find you get what you need.
And if you hang out with us, you might just find you get what you need AND some turducken too.

Turducken picture: Turducken


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