Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Induce Blathering Magic Missile

I don't like to use this space to hype flavor-of-the-week websites. This is mostly because I have unmeasurable amounts of influence. Here unmeasurable does not mean "too vast to be measured", but rather "too tiny to find even with an electron microscope, postive thinking, and an intercession by St. Jude". Also, I feel that the three people that regularly read this and care would write nasty comments. So, now that I'm breaking this soft rule, please take it as it is intended, a hearty "totally fuck you" to my gentle readers.

Surely waaay behind the look-what-I-found! curve, I recommend checking out Seventh Sanctum. Particularly if your geek factor registers at or above "ooh! ooh! Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie! ooh! ooh!".

A brief session there afforded me with these randomly generated magical spells that resulted in fits of snickering: Summon Corn Elemental, Overwhelming Eruption of Yogurt, Conjure Boyband, and surely necessary after Conjure Boyband, Bind Groupie.

Monday, December 27, 2004

A good time to visit

The day after Christmas I sent an email to someone suggesting a good time to visit Austin. I suggested this Spring for two reasons.

1. Visitors can watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats flying out from underneath the Congress Ave bridge. It's really quite stunning.

2. Visitors can watch the Texas Congress appear to walk around the floor of the chamber and chat with each other while in reality unspeakable acts of evil are occurring. It's really quite stunning. Like some sort of fetid, Lovecraftian horror named Y'gthlzbäbz has sundered a dimensional barrier and is creeping towards a group of low-income children who don't have health insurance.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Bigger Than Life and then some

I was reading Patton Oswalt's tremendously entertaining website recently and he mentioned the Nicholas Ray film Bigger Than Life. Forgive the somewhat pretentious literary allusion to a book I haven't even read, but it was like I'd consumed Proust's tea-soaked madeline. A memory came flooding back to me of sitting in a darkened classroom with my fellow film students, watching James Mason go crazy from taking cortisone. We saw Bigger Than Life because our instructor Walter (a total film theory badass, seriously) was fixated on domestic melodramas being in the midst of his thesis in which he was attempting to show that The Shining was melodrama, not horror, and that anything supernatural was just in the character's addled minds. Dubious, but interesting to consider because the staircase you know.

Anyway, Bigger Than Life is hilarious. It's not meant to be hilarious, but from a modern sensibility it's over-the-top with the yelling and the weeping and the lines like "your daughter is on the intellectual par with an African gorilla." Many film people, Scorsese and Godard among them, love it authentically, but my class was eating it up with forks and knives of vicious glee. The climx of the movie is incredible. James Mason's character is all hopped up on cortisone and has decided to sacrifice his son like Abraham in the Bible. His wife, trying the use-crazy-person-reasoning-to-reason-with-the-crazy-person method, offers that God stopped Abraham, to which Mason responds, "God was wrong!"

It's difficult to convey the intense explosion of love/mock/disbelief/exultation sounds that filled our classroom. We were floored. It was much better than the time we watched Dylan get drunk and belligerent during an episode of 90210, and that was fantastic. Sadly, Bigger Than Life is not available on DVD or video. I don't know if it shows up on Turner Classic Movies, but catch it if you can. Soooo good.

Oh, and also I met Patton Oswalt once at Bumbershoot in Seattle. I knew of him previously and he killed with a fantastic set. I ran into him afterwards and he was incredibly sweet, sincere, and appreciative. So, yay for all good things that happen to him. Must to buy his CD when I get my next paycheck.

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Real World comes to Austin, finally (urgh)

So I heard the news last night that MTV's The Real World is coming to Austin finally. I say finally because at first glance it's such an obvious place to have it. It had been considered before, but since another MTV show, Austin Stories (who remembers this disappointing series?), was being shot here they crossed it off the list.

Well they're coming in February and I'm dreading it and wondering how it's going to work. There's only a few danceclubs in Austin (and two of them are gay clubs) so that doesn't provide much variety of locales at which the Real Worlders can get drunk and whorish, as is their wont. I dread it because well, it's The Real World.

Austin is a great place to live ... uh, but don't move here. Just come for vacation, spend some money at our wonderful local establishments, then go home. Or if you do move here, get with the program and don't complain about how you'd like it better if it was more like wherever you came from (I'm looking in your direction California) cause if you pull that crap you can just go hell, or back to whatever hellish place from whence you came. We like the stew of people that made Austin what it is: hippie cowboys, state employees, college students, Latino immigrants, musicians, techie people, enviros, etc. Sure the Chamber of frickin' Commerce is flogging that "Keep Austin Weird" thing now, but still.

Anyway, Austin's great but I can't imagine the RW producers would care about the RWers going to see a million bats flying out from underneath a bridge or quietly hanging out drinking beer and eating TexMex or swimming in a natural spring-fed pool. Wait, no they'll like the last one since the water stays 68°F year-round and the girls will probably get nipple-y.

The producers have been clear that they wanted to have the "cast" (I love how a group term for actors in a play or movie is applied to people on a reality show) here for SXSW. Great. I shudder to think of the desperate pleading from bands and labels to get the RWers, and more importanly the MTV cameras, to attend their showcases. It's going to be so, so ugly. And yet, I think I will be thoroughly amused if any shit goes down while I'm working registration. As my friend Carole once said, "I wanna be here when the yelling and screaming starts. I wanna be here when the famous people come."

You can read more details, including enthusiastic quotes from the mayor and seemingly nervous quotes from SXSW here and here.

One thing that I think will happen is backlash from the locals. Sure the target demographic and (fleeting) fame whores will be excited, but the rest of us? Not so much. I predict two instances of graffiti on the door of wherever they live, several letters of complaint over their lewd behavior to the Austin-American Statesman (the daily paper), multiple letters of complaint with pithy sarcasm to the Austin Chronicle (the free weekly), and countless scoffings at their mere presence.

So fellow Austinites, let the predictions fly about where they'll live, where they'll work, and what local band will get a record label interest because one of the girls is boinking the singer thus earning said band airtime.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

My misanthropic roommate

You wouldn't know it to look at her, or even listen to her for a bit, but my roommate/friend Carole is of the general opinion that people suck. She's quite warm and cheery, then she'll hear some bit of news that reveals a failing on the part of some person or another and it's, "Well, people suck so..."

Carole has a fantasy that asteroids will come raining down on Earth and wipe out pesky humanity. In honor of her dream, I christened a new organization: BOTA (Bring On The Asteroids). She loves it. Someday I'll become skilled enough to make her a little animation of asteroids coming down and everybody freaking except Carole who will have a beatific smile on her oh-so-Scandinavian face.

Today the topic came up of a friend of a friend of ours who, in an unexpected bit of national pride, signed up for the Reserves after 9/11. That person got called to seemingly permanent active duty recently and upon hearing Carole said,

"Why can't [they] be like all the other sudden patriots and put a fuckin' flag sticker on [their] car?"

Harsh, yet reasoned.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I really liked high school (do you hate me now?)

[names have been changed ... well just for the hell of it I guess]

My high school experience was atypical. That goes a long way towards explaining why I look back fondly on the time, even though I was not foxy, athletic, or popular in some unspecified non-foxy, non-athletic way. Most all my present friends disliked high school
and couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I could have stayed for post-graduate work. I loved my school the way Max Fischer did in Rushmore. Still do.

I went to an all-boys Catholic prep school grades 9-12.

Pause for a moment and consider that statement.

I’m betting that at least one of three thoughts came into your head. One, prep school? Must have been a bunch of rich snobs. Two, all-boys school? Must have been some boy-on-boy action happening there. Three, Catholic school? Must have been some priest-on-boy action
happening there. Am I right? Did such thoughts flicker across your dirty, dirty, class-conscious mind? It’s okay. If you attend an all-boys Catholic school you get used to such preconceptions. Given our culture, it’s almost expected.

I don’t know if anything has changed in the years since I was in high school. If anything I expect it’s worse. Two stories stick out in my mind on this topic.

Once, in the locker room – this isn’t going where you think it is – a prospective student and his father came through on a tour of the athletic facilities. Don’t ask me why the presence and quality of locker and weight rooms would affect one’s decision to attend
a Catholic prep school known for its emphasis on academics and community service, but there you are. After the father had passed out of the locker room and into the weight room, but before his son did, a classmate shouted, “Don’t come here, they’re all gay!” The look on that kid’s face...

Another time, our football team was playing a public school team. At some point in the game, a member of the other team offered that the students at my school were, by virtue of attending said school, sexually oriented towards other males; indicating his distaste through tone of voice and word choice. What he actually said was something like, “Fuckin’ faggots!” By way of hyperbole, one of our players sarcastically verified the truth of that assessment and described the curriculum through which students learn methods to express their alleged sexuality. What he actually said was something like, “That’s right! We’re all fags! Suck and fuck, all day long. My first period class is Buttfucking 101.”

I tell these stories to illustrate that students at my alma mater are well aware of the fleeting thoughts that cross people’s minds. As to the truth of those assumptions, I can say that there were certainly rich snobs at my school, that I believe the proportion of
gay students at all-boy schools matches the general population, that the gay students probably weren’t getting much action because they were too scared and full of self-loathing, and that the priests at my school were probably not molesting students. Fr. Ryan would hug you too long on the last day of class, but that's all I know.

Anyway, I went to an all-boys Catholic prep school and I had a great time in high school. Except for the ever-present dread that someone might find out at any moment that I was gay.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A Christmas song

My friend Carole and I have a theme we return to every Christmas and we'd like to bring you with us on a couple points. Can we all agree that the British feed-the-starving-African-children song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is much better than the American feed-the-starving-African-children song "We Are the World"? Yes? Being so agreed, can we go on to say that "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is still a ridiculous song?

Let's take a look.

First there's the way the singers smoothly transition from extremely to not-at-all gay. Seriously:

Boy George (ridiculously gay) -> George Michael (gay, but slept with some women) -> Simon LeBon (just looks gay) -> Sting (straight, but maybe blew a guy just to check?) -> Bono (total cooter-hound)

It's like some sort of audio Kinsey scale. It's there people, you just needed us to point it out to you. Now let's move on to the lyrics.

"And the Christmas bells that ring there" [beatiful image, ringing bells] "are the clanging chimes of doom."

Doom? Really? I can't imagine chimes — you know cute little bells? — sounding any harsher than, say melancholy. But then "clanging chimes of melancholy" neither rhymes nor raises money. So perhaps Bob Geldof, et al. have a point there.

Aw, but now we get to what really gets Carole and I's collective goat. "And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time." And what's wrong with that?! There's never snow in Africa except on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

"And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time / The greatest gift they'll get this year is life."

I think when you're starving you can take some small comfort in the fact that it's not snowing too.

Oh great. There's a civil war, I'm starving, and now it's snowing. Maybe a pile of smallpox-infected blankets will arrive next. Mommy (wet hacking cough, wet coughing cough), this is the best Christmas ever.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Hostes alienigeni me abduxerunt. Qui annus est?

It's still difficult for me to believe, but I got straight As this semester. Not sure what the heck my Chemistry professor did with the final grades that got me an A, but I ain't complaining.

This is quite different from Freshman year of my first degree. I seem to recall getting mostly Bs and then that big fat D in my five hour Latin class. Damn that student advisor. "Take Latin, not Spanish. It'll be easy," the non-Latin-taking ass said, "You had it in high school."

Yes, I took Latin in high school. That's what happens when you go to a Catholic high school run by a certain order of priests. Fifteen years later I still remember The Lord's Prayer in Latin and the Latin meanings of penis and vagina (that would be feather and sword sheath). The prayer from a priest, the fun bits from our obviously cool sophomore Latin teacher. Very entertaining, especially since the Latin pronunciation of vagina is something like wah-gee-nah. So, for a while it was wahgeenah this and wahgeenah that in the halls and lunchroom without the teacher's having a clue. Then one day, someone decided that the new slang term was vlaja. I have no idea how that happened.

Let's see, what else do I remember from high school Latin? The vocative case, -us -e -o -um -e -o, recipes with lark's vomit, naughty graffiti on the walls of Pompei, that Romans had a veritable Eskimo-snow amount of words* for conquer, my first exposure to Fellini via Satyricon, sexual excess in the ruling class, and temporarily memorizing phrases like the ones here.

Now how did this go from a celebration of a 4.00 semester to a clear example of how much sex was on the brains of both ancient Romans and high school Latin students? Isn't that always the way?

*For more on the Eskimo-snow thing, read this fascinating bit. Well, maybe only fascinating to me who still remembers with delight the time in Linguistics class when the teacher discussed prefixes, suffixes, and infixes (inserted into the middle of words). Infixes, cool huh? Erm, perhaps not.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Magnetic Fields in Austin - Part II

The Magnetic Field show on Friday was great. This entry is meant to appeal to fans of the band. It's excessively detailed, but that's what I do for my favorite bands. So, if you find such dorkiness untenable, move on to other more accessible entries.

The venue was at Hogg Memorial Auditorium, a concert hall on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. Constructed in 1933, it was named for a Governor of Texas, now mostly famous for naming his daughter Ima Hogg. The other supposed daughter, Ura, is entirely fictional. The University used to have classes there when the seats were still equipped with swinging desktops. It was also a venue for the now-defunct University film program that screened old movies from the US and the rest of the world at ludicrously cheap prices.

On the doors to the Hogg was a sign noting that the performance was being taped for a documentary about The Magnetic Fields and that entering gave them permission to use your image, etc, etc. Interestingly, to Austinites anyway, is that the director of the doc was Kerthy Fix, known in Austin years ago for being a VJ on our local music video channel and performance art pieces that often featured her doing things like having puppies licking tuna butter off her nipples or pulling a cinderblock with her Kegel muscles. Anyway, she's based out of New York now. Perhaps our New York friends can look up Kerthy Fix Productions NYC in the phonebook and check out this documentary.

Darren Hanlon opened the show and my friends and I were pleasantly surprised. We knew nothing about him aside from him being an Australian singer-songwriter on the same label as The Lucksmiths. He sang quite clever songs interspersed with little stories, like an involved one about the Wasa which he told to explain just one line in the next song. Just charming. I recommend checking out his music.

In something that's beginning to repeat often enough to be annoying, he was told that of all the US, Texas was the most like Australia. Seeing just Houston and Austin he didn't get it. See, West Texas is kind of like the Australia Outback only in that they're both sort of desolate. But then West Texas is a lot like the rest of the Southwest in that regard. So the comparison that Texas is like Australia really falls apart.

Anyway, he quickly became fond of Austin because 1)he found a couple arcades across from campus that had pinball machines and 2) the 37th St. Christmas lights, which really are wonderful. Pleased with his performance and being the sort of fellow I am, I wrote out directions to a restaurant in Austin that's known for its collection of vintage pinball machines. He was quite excited by the prospect, I hope he got to go.

After a short break, The Magnetic Fields took the stage. Interestingly, Sam had only his acoustic cello; the electric one did not make an appearance. Also, Claudia played an upright piano, which is ridiculous because the campus is lousy with baby grands. There's one in the building next door for cryin' out loud.

Here follows a setlist and some of the banter from the evening (and no, I didn't record the show, just took notes).

Claudia: I watched you come in and you're really good looking. Like rivaling Scandinavia.

Stephin: Besides the obvious woman in the first row, I don't know what you're talking about.

C: We're a bit discombobulated traveling through the South. Our last show was in Orlando, home of the younger brother. George Bush made a speech there and Stephin and I were making fun of the fact that he couldn't pronounce environment. [several inaccurate pronunciations] The audience was like [shocked inhalation], "You're mocking our God." We're used to New York.

1. I Was Born

Stephin sings "sinnnnnng" with a raspy growl. Explains that he likes to do a different impression each night, in the future he'd do Barbra Streisand. No explanation of who he was doing this night. Then he explains that Claudia and him were in a punk band long ago (was that The Zinnias? Who had a song called "Filled With Leeches"?). Sings "bounce on your rubber ball" and "silver beast in your teeth" weirdly with Claudia joining in. They explain that they were bad and trying to sing like Johnny Lydon.

2. I Don't Believe in the Sun

3. A Chicken With It's Head Cut Off

Quite slow bridge on this one.

S: What is this [next] song about? I've never understood.

C: That's a feeder line.

Claudia explains the next song is about a sad clown, which is hilarious because just before the show started a friend and I were discussing clown porn. By "discussing" I mean I mentioned seeing a bit of it on an HBO documentary and she recoiled in horror. She's scared of clowns. Anyway, she started giggling about the sad clown and we thought the same terrible thing.

C: This is from our newish album "i", or as they say in Spanish "ee".

They count out four and start the song.

4. I Looked All Over Town

Stephin goes off about how they should count 4, 3, 2, 1 right before the end of a song and how it's never been done before.

Claudia launches into an extended discussion of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album, which she has brought on tour. Stephin attempts to sing like Kate Bush and it's all very silly.

At this point, I should note that Claudia continually brings up homosexuality throughout the show vis a vis whether or not every song was or was not about homosexuality. I would go so far as to say it became the theme of the evening.

C: Apropos of homosexality, this song is about the capital of homosexuality. Well, the other capital [Austin is quite gay and the capital of Texas].

5. Come back from San Francisco

C: This song is also from our album "i", which the French call "eh".

S: Someone count to four in Finnish.

C: Finnish anyone? How about Norwegian? One-oh, two-oh, three-o, four-o.

S: That's Italian.

6. I Don't Really Love You Anymore

Done country swing style with significant banjo.

C: This is from our album Get Lost. It's the one that has a picture of all the people not in the band except for Sam.

Sam smiles and discreetly flashes la mano cornudo, otherwise known as the metal Rock On sign or for Texans, Hook 'em Horns.

7. All the Umbrellas in London

Beautiful guitar harmonics from John.

8. If You Don't Cry

C: This if from our album of vampire songs, the black and yellow album


S: (deadpan sepulchral) Mostly black.

C: Vampires don't like to go out in the daytime.

S: (brightly) When they do, they wear yellow.

9. Born on a Train

10. I Wish I Had an Evil Twin

Extended discussion of doppelgangers.

11. I Don't Believe You

Claudia helpfully demonstrates the first line by doing air quotes.

Song ends and Claudia starts using the phrase "coffers of memory" to describe the next song. Stephin likes it but doesn't quite understand. They start repeating it, shift it to "copperheads of memory" and then, of course, starting hissing like snakes. Did I mention that this was their second to last tour date and they're getting very silly?

12. Summer Lies

Audience freakout.

13. All My Little Words

14. Hall of Mirrors

C: That song wasn't about homosexuality. [ha!] This one is though.

15. I Though You Were My Boyfriend

C: This [next] song is not about homosexuality.

(pause as Stephin reviews lyrics)

S: No, it's not. It's about blackface, sexism … and metaphor.

16. A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody

17. Swinging London

18. Smoke & Mirrors

Claudia exits stage. Stephin shushes audience

19. Book of Love

I've heard this song so many times on the CD and live, and still I teared up. Cold medication or heartfelt emotion?

Claudia returns to the stage with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a drink for Stephin. Explains that it's something to keep him occupied while she sings a 30 second song.

20. Reno Dakota

Thunderous applause.

C: We've had our snack break now back to the show.

21. If There's Such a Thing as Love

Stephin is visibly excited and stops the count-off to announce that he has an anecdote. He tells the story of how he wrote the verses, but not the chorus, of the next song in Austin at the Rainbow Cattle Co. [a gay cowboy bar]

S: The Rainbow Cattle Co. is a dermatology office outside of town. Specializing in cattle.

22. Papa Was a Rodeo

Crowd predictably goes nuts. And yes, they did the mirror ball gag.

C: Someone told me that Kelly Hogan is playing tonight too [opening for and backing up Neko Case]. Wouldn't it be a weird moment of synchronicity if she was playing it at the same time? [Hogan did a cover of "Papa" very soon after 69LS was released] Except her Mike is male and ours is female.

Stephin pulls back from his mic and starts examining it warily.

S: I think mine is male. Except it has this bump on the end.

C: They all that have.

Claudia does the opening bit of Epitaph for My Heart and some audience-members whoop it up. She stops, explaining that they don't remember it. Sam and John do their opening bits and Claudia admits that they know it, but not her and Stephin.

23. All I Wanna Know

Claudia explains the next song has become a gay marriage anthem, the song the couple dance to at the reception. So, it's been done many times already but feel free to use it for gay or straight wedding.

C: I guess we'll play it. And then you can hear it.

S: The loyal opposition would like to take the contradictory stance. If you're about to get married, stop. Are you doing the right thing?

C: There's still time to break up.

24. It's Only Time

Band exits stage. Standing ovation. It is a bit silly, eh Mark?

Band returns.

C: Anyone finish your finals today? [scattered applause] You've completed another semester.

S: Not necessarily.

25. Yeah! Oh, Yeah!

C: That song is about spousal abuse.

S: Millions killed, all feeding into that song. Animals too.

26. I Die

Incredibly beautiful guitar harmonics from John.

All in all, a great show.

New shirts were available in two styles. The first one is black with THE (in red) MAGNETIC FIELDS (in silver) horizontally across the front. The second is available in light brown and grey. The front has a large "i" like the CD cover, the back is like the front of the black shirt. Speaking of which, why aren't shirts available through House of Tomorrow?.

I wish I had pictures for you. If anyone has one or two that I could post, add a comment below. Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Magnetic Fields in Austin - Part I

I'm thrilled to be seeing the Magnetic Fields tonight. They are one of my favoritest bands and it will be nice to see them at home instead of flying across the country for the privelege (I've done it three times, obsessive me).

I interviewed Stephin Merritt last week for an article that ran in the paper. Here are some bits that didn't make it into the article, sometimes because I couldn't make out what he was saying on the tape.


Me: I know you're playing sit-down venues this time, and not clubs.

SM: Yeah. We've been doing it for years. We try not to play bars and nightclubs. We don't have a drummer or a rhythm section, we play very quietly. We really need the full attention of the audience so a theatre is (?).

Me: And you're finding that people are being quiet except at the end of songs.

SM: Pretty much. Except for people who bring their babies and such things.

Me: Does your audience have a lot of newborns?

SM: In Spain, yes.


Me: I see from your setlists that you're playing a greater selection of songs from all over your discography. Any particular reason?

SM: We've just come from Europe where we were promoting a catalogue re-issue. That's what we had rehearesed.

Me: So you rehearse a pool of songs that you pull from when making the setlists?

SM: No, we're travelling with a stable setlist. Where did you get the setlist?

Me: Fans post what songs were played from show to show.

SM: That will be a very boring setlist to read, because it will be the same songs every night.

Me: I don't know about boring.

SM: Well repetitious anyway.


Me: Peter Gabriel covered Book of Love for Shall We Dance? Soundtrack and sang it live with you. Some people think of the work as songbook-quality material. Do you have much interest in people interpreting your songs?

SM: Well yes. I'm not exactly the world's greatest singer and it would nice if the world's greatest singers would cover my songs.

Me: Do you think of yourself kind of like Bob Dylan in that the covers of the songs would be better than the originals?

SM: Well most of the people who cover my songs are more idiosyncratic than I am so, no. Like Woodie Guthrie where he had a raspy, not necessarily pleasant voice and everyone who covered him has a raspier, downright unpleasant voice. [ed. note: not sure what he meant here, Divine Comedy & Kelly Hogan don't have raspy voices, but I moved on]


Me: On "I", the liner notes say "no synths". Did you set that up as a challenge, or change in aestethics?

SM: We had just done a Future Bible Heroes "Eternal Youth" which is all electronic. So I just wanted to switch directions. It wasn't particularly a challenge. I have a whole lot of instruments.

Me: There's a neat effect where "I Thought You My Boyfriend" sounds synthy. Were you trying for that originally, or just work out that way in the recording process?

SM: By synthy sounds do you mean that some instrument sounds like a synthesizer or that it would ordinarily be played on a synthesizer?

Me: A little of both.

SM: Oh. Well there's an electric piano on it, in the background. I think it sounds more like early disco than synth-pop but everyone else seems to think it sounds like synth-pop so I'll let that stand. I think it sounds like New Order covering George McCray.


Me: Most and least essential records of the year?

SM: By other people?

Me: Yes.

SM: Like year end top five?

Me: Well not necessarily. Maybe ones that should be listened to and ones that absolutely shouldn't be listened to.

SM: Well, everything should be listened to once. Only the Loretta Lynn album with Jack White made such an impression on me that I would recommend it to everyone.

Me: What did you think of the Tom Waits album?

SM: I haven't heard it yet. Also haven't heard Smile.

Me: Oh really?

SM: I have them, I just haven't had a chance to listen to them.

Me: Are there records you found particularly distasteful?

SM: Hundreds? I couldn't name them. I generally don't learn the names of albums I hate.



Stephin paid to have the London all-69LS shows filmed, so he owns the footage. He sort of forgot that he had it when I brought it up. He may put it out on DVD on the 10th anniversary of 69LS, though he was just speaking off the top of his head.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Inappropriate comments

I have a friend, Ms. Morgan, that faults me because whenever she is around me and a small child is in the vicinity, Ms. Morgan blurts out something inappropriate. It's happened multiple times and is rather uncanny. I think it's hilarious, she gets embarrassed.

On Thanksgiving, the tables were turned. I was standing in our friend Dan's kitchen helping him prepare for roughly 20 friends coming for dinner including our friend Choo's parents. And by helping I mean talking to Dan while he set out appetizers. I was flipping through his collection of postcards from various friends, all of which say only, "Dear Dan, You are so gay. Love, [name]." Someone started it and now it's a lovely tradition of which Dan is quite fond. They were mailed from all over the US and even internationally, so one can only wonder what the postal authorities think. One postcard picture features a butt, tightly encased in jeans, sitting on a large pole. Just a tad suggestive. Hanging out of one of the pockets is a red handkerchief.

Sensitive readers and small children may wish to tune out at this time.

Handkerchiefs hanging out of back pockets is an elaborate code between gay men about what sexual acts they like. The color of the hankie indicated what act you are looking for, while the pocket you wear it in signifies that you want to do that act or have that act done to you. I'll stop pussyfooting around (excuse the expression) and just lay it out there. Coral on the left? Suck my toes. Coral on the right? Toesucker. Light blue on the left? Looking for head. Light blue on the right? Cocksucker. Grey on the left? Bondage top. Grey on the right? Tie me up (or down). Robin's egg blue on the left? Let's 69. Robin's egg blue on the right? Anything but 69. And so on and so on.

Now of course only gay men would come up with a code that requires one to distinguish between light blue, Air Force blue, robin's egg blue, aqua, teal, and medium blue lest you end of having sex underwater when all you really wanted was to blow a cop. The full list exists out there on the Internet. Nota bene: it is crazy specific verging into scary territory. Do you need to know that maroon is for cutter/bleeder? No? Well you know it now. Having warned you, here's one version. I've never actually seen anyone wearing hankies in the roughly 15 gay bars I've been to so maybe hankies are a relic of the past like the moustache-and-tight-pink-polo-shirt look.

Now that we've completed our gay sociology lesson for the day, let's get back to the postcard where as you recall there is a red hankie hanging out of the, I think, left pocket. Red = fisting. I'm really not going to explain that. Just google it. Oh look, I just did and the first link is Fisting Made Easy, so there you go. Anyway, I turn to Dan and say in a louder than necessary voice, "You know? I think I've finally gotten to the point where I'm not freaked out by the mention of fisting."

And that's when the screen door opened.

Remember how Choo's parent's were coming over? See Dan usually leaves his front door open when he's expecting guests, so the screen door with it's many, many holes for soundwaves to pass through was the only thing between us and the outside. Dan went into aggressive shushing mode and my face got very hot. Luckily it was Choo sans parents. Of course, when Ms. Morgan heard about it she thought it was hilarious.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Carson event wrap-up, and a shocking sight

Huge line to get in to see Carson featuring a large population of gayboys and their platonic girlfriends. Of course there were plenty of straight people too (as Carson noted, somebody has to make more gay people).

Carson was hammy and hilarious. He had clearly pumped his on-campus handlers for information about Austin. He peppered his comments with references that only made sense to denizens. For you locals: the Drag (queen?), Leslie (good thong and Santa jacket, bad shoes), the Dobie Mall (or Doobie Mall as he called it), Oilcan Harry's, Bevo, the hook 'em horns sign.

After doing essentially a great standup comedy act, he took questions from the audience. The event ended with a terrible misstep by the organizers had him commenting on the fashion of a few guys dressed specifically for the occasion. It was lame, but Carson did his best to salvage it. At the very end, he was gifted with a giant, gaudy, Texas-themed belt buckle. Where upon Carson took off his own belt and threw it into the crowd. After brief melee, someone had a nice souvenir.

Here are some of the best bits.

At the beginning of his remarks:
“Normally what I speak about is political structure in Southeast Asia.” And then he actually started reading a prepared speech about political structure in Southeast Asia. Great deadpan.

During the Q&A:
Girl: What can I do to get you to fix my father?
CK: You don’t mean in the veterinary sense do you?

Jonathan: Will you sign my chest?
CK: (cheerfully) OK.
Jonathan mounts the stage and gives Carson a marker.
CK: (mock exasperated) Well, take off your shirt.

In response to a request for a blooper from Queer Eye:
They were shooting a couple British episodes of Queer Eye and one day they were doing a scene on a British Airways plane. It was parked but the flight crew still had to be aboard for safety reasons. Carson was changing his pants when Thom apparently got frisky and tried to pull down Carson’s underwear. Instead, he tore them completely off. Picture Carson with a shirt on, then naked from the waist down. So Carson runs back to the galley, “I guess to get a napkin or something,” and right into the middle of the crew who were having lunch. Awkward.

Talking about the LBJ School of Public Affairs (a prestigious graduate school that's part of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library):
“I want to pronounce it el BJ. I went to Tijuana and got el BJ, now my urine burns.”

A particularly memorable part of the evening came before he even took the stage. As I sat in my chair, I noticed a guy across the aisle and up a couple rows. He had an incredible mullet. A waterfall of hair cascaded softly halfway down his back while the hair on the top and sides was cut into a bowl-shape. I was captivated. He turned slightly and I saw the weak moustache and chin caterpillar that signified a guy who can't grow a beard but tries anyway. A glance down revealed the showstopper. Cast over the back of his chair was a crushed. velvet. cape. Somehow the sight of it actually blocked any nerve impulses to my voluntary muscles for at least a minute.

When I recovered and turned to my friends to share, an idea popped into my head, "Oh, he's a plant that Carson is going to 'fix'. That must be it." See how I grasped at anything that made sense of the wild disconnect between the event we were at, the mullet, and the cape? Because who has a mullet, wears a cape in public, and stands in line for more than an hour to see Carson Kressley? Two out of the three sure, but...

So I told my friends who were as pop-eyed as I had been. They tentatively agreed with me that yes, he must be a plant. Then the event proceeded, and as it went on we had to admit it to ourselves; that was really what he wanted to look like.

Now I don't want to come off as some sort of fashionista, but really, doesn't everybody know about the mullet thing by now? Especially in Austin? Clearly from the length in the back, he's been working on it for at least three years. And then there's the cape. I mean if he was a goth kid I'd understand. A crushed velvet cape is completely plausible when you're wearing strategically ripped black clothes, eyeliner, and a pound of white powder while clutching confessional poetry that uses the words "blood" and "grave" on at least every other page. Under those circumstances, it would be wrong not wear a cape. But that's not this guy. Maybe it was just a role-playing thing that got out of hand; you know how that can happen. One day you're rolling 12-sided dice to get that +2 dexterity Sword of Palang, the next thing you know you're wearing a crushed velvet cape in public. It could happen to anyone.

I've never wanted a digital camera so bad in my life.

Anyway, I briefly said hello and shook Carson's hand afterwards. He's nice.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Got a yummy baby?

A friend sent me a link to this site and I'm appalled/delighted. Hilariously wrong. I would consider getting it for one of my pseudo-nephews, but I think such a personal decision should be left up to their parents.

The correct spelling of tsuzjing, and other topics

I interviewed Carson Kressley for an article in the paper. He's speaking tonight on campus and I'm looking forward to it.

Not included in my article was a brief exchange that went off the track of discussing his upcoming movie role (read the article for the details on that).

Me: Are you being yourself? Or is it like an acting role?

CK: It's an acting role. I play a bartender named Lance. Although, some people were like 'oh are you going to prepare for the role?' No. I haven't been a bartender but I've been to many many bars so I think I'll be okay.

Me: Now are you wearing a shirt at this bar?

CK: Um yes absolutely, not to worry.

Me: Cause you know, depending on what bar you're at…

CK: Yeah. I love bars where they don't wear shirts, that's fun, that's good times, that's entertainment.

Me: When you come to town we'll have to go out because there's bars where they don't wear shirts here.

CK: (interested) Oh really?

Me: Yeah.

CK: (shocked) In Austin?!

DT: Yeah!

CK: (not quite believing, but wanting to) Stop it!

Me: This is a very gay town, I don't know if you know that.

CK: Oh my gawd I'm way more excited than I thought.

Me: There's not one neighborhood like Dallas or Houston, everyone's spread out.

CK: The whole place is gay, oh my gawd it's like New York only warmer.

Me: Right. There's something like 5 bars downtown including a country-themed one.

CK: I'm going to go to each and every one. Just so I don't miss anyone.

Me: We've had eight straight days of rain here, some flooding issues, but is should be dry by the time you get here.

CK: OK. I'll wear my rubbers. Screw the rain.