Sunday, June 28, 2009

Houston Pride Parade & intermittent dance party

I really had no excuse not to attend the parade since A) it happens at night when I'm awake anyway and B) the parade route is one block away from my apartment. Plus at least once a year I like to see my peoples all glittery and stuff. Unfortunately there was what I consider to be a serious dearth of glitter/feather/hi NRG silliness. Too many staid oil company employees and church groups, not enough gyrating. Also, I didn't check my camera batteries before I walked out the door and so no pictures.

The highlights for me were:

- PFLAG, cause parents in their 50s, 60s, and 70s marching in support their gay kids is a beautiful sight to see

- Lesbians Over Age Fifty, or LOAFers mostly because of the awesome elderly lady waving out the window of the car. I know it's wrong to infantalize old folks, but she was adorable and inspiring.

- The Asians & Friends group who all held giant Hello Kitty head placards. Kawaii indeed.

Afterwards, I met up with some Austin friends for an intermittent dance party. No one had the energy to stay out on the floor the whole time, so intermittent it was. Yay for poorly conceived "sexy" photos, putting a certain inebriated lady to bed, and fantasizing about band reunions (Smiths, Jawbreaker, Archers of Loaf, Afghan Whigs).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

6 Months, 60 Minutes, 16 Songs

So I made a compilation of songs I've been particularly fond of the last six months and wanted to share it. Enjoy, hate, or be suffused with dispassion.

UPDATE: If you register with imeem, you can full versions of almost all the songs. It's a nifty site.

[ed. note: The actual El Goodo track I wanted, "Aren't You Grand" wasn't available on imeem so I swapped in another good (but not as good) track. I wasn't able to find any tracks from Handsome Family's new, great album Honey Moon on imeem, which is why the playlist only has fifteen tracks. So after the Matt & Kim song, pause and go here to listen to a short clip of "The Loneliness of Magnets" and just imagine that old-timey sound continuing, then go back and resume this playlist. Or you could just skip this whole suggestion and destroy the integrity of this carefully curated flow.

6 Months, 60 Minutes, 16 Songs

Friday, June 19, 2009

Who's up for Six Flags?


I will be going to Six Flags in Arlington on Sunday 8/23 if you'd like to join me. It's the last day before the local school systems start up and the park is practically empty. As others who've joined me in the past can attest, it's glorious. No lines and on many of the rides, the employees will let you ride multiple times in a row. The park's open from 11 - 7, but I usually leave around 5 because I've ridden everything multiple times by then.

Spread the word and let me know so I can start planning carpools, etc.

Oh, and Joolie gets a free ticket from me because years ago it was my fault that she was denied rollercoasters and had to settle for the Stockyards.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

HawthoRNe review

This is a bit self-serving, but it's worth noting that three of the new medical shows (Nurse Jackie, HawthoRNe, and starting in the Fall, Mercy) have nurses as main characters rather than doctors. As a nurse myself, it's about damn time. One main character and a handful of secondary ones on ER never cut it. Don't even get me started on the often nameless, ignorant, frequently dumped on nurses that populate the background of House, Grey's Anatomy, etc.

I was reading an online review (which inspired me to write my own) and it was telling that several commenters on the review didn't get that the main character isn't a doctor. We're so used to doc-focused shows that it's going to take some effort to get the necessary shift in the viewing public's mind. My biggest beef with the doctor-focused medical shows (aside from the frequently awful misrepresentation of actual medicine) is that they take away the work of nurses and give it to doctors. Why? Because non-trauma doctors mostly examine, diagnose, and write orders. Not exactly heartwarming or exciting. Doctors don't hold patients' hands, get social work consults, or stay at the bedside at the bedside continually monitoring and responding to changes in condition. All that shocking the patient and giving medications in a code? Never actually seen a doctor do it, always nurses. Sure the doctors there giving orders, but it's all mental work though which while absolutely important isn't terribly heartwarming or exciting to watch.

I'm going to write more about this phenomenon in the future, but I'll move on to the show at hand. HawthoRNe (and yes, that's a stupid name) features Jada Pinkett Smith as the Chief Nursing Officer of a mid-sized hospital. I don't watch The Closer or Saving Grace, but I get the impression that HawthoRNe is a continuation of the "strong woman taking on a male-dominated world in which she is underestimated" theme. Unfortunately, Hawthorne is portrayed as a superwoman capable of practically anything. Here she is starting an IV in a newborn's head vein! There she goes defending her staff against arrogant, deeply wrong doctors! Ad nauseum. She's too good. It's the pilot still, so hopefully she'll settle down and fail in future episodes.

I rather doubt the show will stick with a realistic portrayal of a Chief Nursing Officer, which is mostly meetings and paperwork. Why a CNO? It's an important job and gives an excuse to have her roam all over the hospital, but the position is not all that interesting. There was a much better opportunity for stories at the patients' bedsides and over hospital policy if the character was nurse manager of a unit. Oh well.

OK now I get into overcritical mode over specific plot points.

- If a knowledgeable nurse tells a doc that a patient has a Do Not Resuscitate order, the doc doesn't say, "Show it to me in the next five seconds or I don't believe you." The correct way to over-dramatize the scene is for the doc to note that attempted suicide is not covered by DNRs. Of course that route doesn't serve double-duty to show that the doctor is a jerk while Hawthorne is a fierce patient advocate and all-around superlady type.

- No surgeon would ever want to get this call in the middle of the night, "Uh, your patient is up on the roof threatening suicide. Do you want to hustle down here and talk him down?" Clearly Michael Vartan's character (portrayed as a surgeon, but the attending doctor for a cancer patient???) is supposed to be the shining white knight among the doctors, but this was a rather goofy way to try to get that across.

- A CNO would never not contact Child Protective Services as it professionally negligent and in this case would probably mean suspension of license and therefore loss of job. And making a social worker be the bureaucratic bad guy? Let's not exalt nurses and crap on social workers OK? We're all good guys.

- The "giving the patient a handjob" scene. Yes it seems gimmicky, except I can cite an actual occurrence of this shameless, really unprofessional activity. The nurse who did it giggled about it to two colleagues who didn't report it. Manager found out and fired all of them. So, believeable on this show.

Semi-accurate portrayals:

- Mention of verbal abuse from docs (a real, unacceptable issue) which was immediately undercut by stupid "paramedic is cute" comment.

- The "you're a guy, you must be a doctor" misunderstanding. Happens all the time to me and other guy nurses even when we're wearing the same scrubs as the women. Is it so hard to believe these days?

- Questioning doctor's orders when they don't seem reasonable, though 6 units of insulin (what kind of insulin? Though that may be a bit too picky) isn't crazy. And is definitely, definitely the nurses job. "Just following orders" isn't a defense against getting your license yanked for violating the Nurse Practice Act. The questioning the order scene was decent, but we really didn't need that nurses-are-just-failed-docs bit. I love being a nurse and would never want to be a doctor. Two quite distinct jobs not on a continuum (damn you ER's Abby Lockhart). Also, no recapping your needles! You're a suck-o nurse for that. Lastly, insulin overdose doesn't cause shockable heart arrhythmias. And if you were that worried, check his blood glucose as a follow-up, if you see it drop below normal levels, give the patient some orange juice. That's good nursing care. I'm not impressed with your work.

OK, that's enough. If this wasn't my profession, I wouldn't be watching the show. The feel-goodiness of the show is too saccharine, but I'm going to keep watching for a few eps to see if this mellows and to see how they handle the portrayal of nurses as main characters.

I don't have Showtime, so I haven't seen Nurse Jackie, which is a much more jaundiced view (in keeping with an ED nurse's job I'd say) apparently.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A trip to see Grizzly Bear

After their fantastic performance during SXSW, I couldn't miss seeing Grizzly Bear again when they came to Austin on Tuesday night. Thirty minutes outside Austin, I realized that I'd left my wallet in Houston. Slightly troubling as I had no cash, ATM card, credit card, or ID to get into the show. Counting on the good graces of my credit union, the venue staff, and my own earned music karma, I wasn't overly concerned. First, I went to my beloved credit union, who helpfully explained that they could give me $100 after asking some security questions. So pleasant.

Then I called Joolie to set up dinner plans and then was off to trade in some CDs. Waterloo Records was staunch in their no-Texas-ID-no-trading-in-IDs policy, so I headed to End of an Ear which was second on my list only due to geography. Having no ID policy and by virtue of the owners knowing me, I traded in some unwanted music for the new Vaselines compilation (Remastered! Live versions! Naïve, superfun pop!), Baby Loves a Funny Bunny by Fuck (in a wonderfully designed matchbook package), and classic album that will end up as a gift for a friend and therefore will not be mentioned by name here. And I still have an $ 0.80 credit! While at the store, I happened into an in-store for Here We Are Magic, who were opening for Grizzly Bear that night. I liked them well enough.

A call to a Walgreen's in Houston confirmed that I hadn't left my wallet on their counter which meant it was probably sitting in my apartment. "No worries! Everything will work out fine!" he fervently said out loud to no one.

Arrived at House Pizzeria to find a pleasantly designed restaurant with a nicely stocked jukebox. The music's a mix of classic country and whatever we're calling Elvis Costello-Wire-Lou Reed-The Pixies-etc. and I passed the time waiting for Joolie and Mr. Joolie thinking of a setlist that would drive out the abrasively loud and demanding children over there in the corner, not the sweet little thing that eventually sat next to us. Between us we ordered Potato & Goat Cheese, Pepperoni, and Olives & Capers pizzas. Another friend and boyfriend showed up to my delight, and we gorged on yummy pizza while chatting amiably.

I realize now that when Joolie asked me about work and I shrugged it off with a "same old thing, nothing interesting" that I was being a bit too dismissive. Of course interesting stuff happens at work, I guess I just wanted to talk about something else. Sorry Joolie! I'll work on some stories for you.

From there I was off to a quick hello to my poker buddies who had just started the regular Tuesday game (it's been so long since I played, sigh) before heading down to The Parish for the show. I barely started my woeful shpiel about the forgotten ID, when the list guy said, "Yeah he's here," and the ID guy looked at me for about 10 seconds before slapping the drink band on my wrist. It's good not to look anywhere close to 21 sometimes. Oftentimes.

I have excellent music karma which has aided me in the past and will likely continue to do so (does citing music karma cause one to lose some?). I recall one extreme example at my only time seeing New Order. My friends and I had lawn seats at whatever their calling Starplex in Dallas these days, but having laid in a surfeit of good relations with the security staff, we were able to slip up to the front section for the openers (808 State, Stereo MCs) and then neglected to leave. When New Order hit the stage, we had managed to worm our way up to 3rd row from which seats we were never kicked (silly non-showing up ticket holders). After a pretty good show, which ended slightly early in that Bernard Sumner stalked off stage before the (according to the setlist we snatched from the stage) final song of the encore "Blue Monday" (my heart breaks), we were too hopped up to just leave. So I and one friend ran around the back of the venue, crawled under a gate, and insinuated ourselves with a group of lucky people escorted backstage to meet the band.

This was back in the days when I'd pursue autographs, so we got Gillian and had joined the throng around Bernard when my friend was discovered not sporting the required sticker and was rudely propelled out the gate. I had thought to drape a shirt over the spot where the sticker should have been and so went undiscovered. Sure Bernard sometimes is a jerk to his bandmates, but kudus to him for standing there for 30 minutes politely asking each fan their name so he could personalize the autographs. Nice guy.

Blah, blah, blah. The Grizzly Bear show was very good. I'd write a review, but just read this as I completely agree.

From there I dropped by some night owl friends' place to chat for a bit that turned into a couple hours, before heading over to the Joolie and Mr. Joolie house for some leftover pizza and a much needed nap. I crept out again at 6 AM to hit the road back to Houston where I found my wallet right next to my computer.

So happy ending all around.