Monday, October 31, 2005

Now with Kung Fu Grip

This weekend I was on the phone with a friend when her roommate’s significant other tooled into the room and asked who she was speaking with. To this she replied, “James,” and then in response to Joel’s look a bafflement she elucidated, “You’ve never met him.” Before I even thought about it, I said, “’Cause I’m a goddamn ninja.” She thought it was all sorts of funny, and when I related the story to RF he told me it was comedy gold, and thus I am sharing it with all of you.

I have also decided it is time for me to come out of the closet and admit to you that yes, I am in fact, a goddamn ninja. As the only male issue in my family (on both sides until my punk-ass brother came along) it fell to me to take up this tradition of stealth and bad-assedness that has been in my family for generations. My summers where not the idyllic respite from school that many of you enjoyed, but rather they were spent deep in training; first at the feet of my grandfather and then, as my training progressed, at the side of many masters. I traveled to exotic lands and learned from many masters. From the savage beauty of Ti Kwan Leep to the subtle minstrations of the Spicy Tuna Handroll, all the secrets of my heritage were poured into my soul.

While the other boys were spending time at church camp, my time was spent in meditation upon a stillness so profound as to appear as death upon those who mastered it. While the other kids went to band camp my summers were spent in hidden refuges high in the Himalayas where a word was never spoken. My taskmasters were harsh, pushing me beyond the limits of human endurance again and again, forging me in to the lean, stealthy creature I am today.

“But James,” I can hear all of you say, “how could you be a ninja? I mean, not to be mean or anything, but damn boy, look at you. And while we’re on the subject you’re not the most graceful of water buffalo, either.”

My only response to this is to quote the French poet Baudelaire, “…the Devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!”


A couple of weekends ago some freinds had a pumpkin carving party. In honor of everyone's favorite holiday, I thought I would share the fruits of my labor.

This was the first pumpkin I had carved in years, and you can kind of tell. A bunch of the people there were using those stencil things, and their pumpkins came out looking great, however it kind of looses something for me when it is not freehand.

Here he is, all lit up and scary and stuff. Wooooo! (That's a scary noise!)

I brought two pumpkins since I was expecting to mess at least one of my pumpkins up. Since the first one came out so well, I decided to try something humorous with the second. It didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but there he is, lurking in the upper left corner with the bottle in his mouth.

Wow, this picture is a lot smaller than I thought! Anyway, the idea was to have a drunken pumpkin, but the eyes didn't come out right. Oh well, maybe I will get it right next year when I try to do a Jack Skellington pumpkin!

I hope you guys had a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Avon Bridge

For some time now I have wanted to do something on here that would show off some of the pictures I have taken during my recent fascination with photography. I intend to post the picture, along with what technical details I can remember as well as notes on why I like the picture. I think I am going to try to do this every Sunday. Sadly, however, I cannot think of a good, witty name for the posts. I initially thought of doing it on Friday and calling them Photo Phriday, but that is a bit too close to Photoshop Phriday from and therefore I did not want to use it. Until I come up with something better the title of each post will be the name of the picture. Please feel free to suggest an overall name for the posts. And now without further ado and no more guilding the lily, here is the first picture:

I took this picture in October of 2003 when I was in the UK on business. One weekend we took a Saturday and went to see Warwick and Kenilworth castles. This is part of a ruined bridge over the River Avon as it passes along the back of Warwick Castle. We had walked down to see the mill and engine house and upon exiting, I looked up the Avon and saw this bridge reflected in the river. It really captured the beautiful decay that I had seen in some other parts of the country. There was a magic and a sadness to the scene that struck me in an instant and I had to record it. I used a Vivitar 220 SL camera with my Vivitar 135mm lens (I am not 100% sure about the lens.) I used 800 speed Kodak film, whatever their consumer level film is. This is before I started using Fuji and before I learned the joys of slower film stock.

Anyways, there it is. Please let me know what you think if you are so inclined.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Worst it Ever Was

It was the end of a millenium, a fairly rare event, and all I could do was lie on the couch and flick the channels. I think I was up for about twenty-two hours that night. I was in my mid-twenties. It was New Year's Eve. I drink from time to time. I should have been out carousing with the rest of the world. Instead I watched 2000 overtake the world, one major city at a time, from the dubious comfort of my parents couch. I didn't even have a drink. I kept watching. Hong Kong. Tokyo. Berlin. Rome. London. New York. San Francisco. They all came off without a hitch. I think that secretly I was hoping the Y2K problem would assert itself, particularly where the towns had gone super hi-tech. I needed someone to join me in my funk, and what better way than in front of the entire world, right? I try to be an up person. I don't often wish bad things to happen to other people. What was wrong with me? Why was I in this funk?

The first reason is that I am never very good around New Years. Like my birthday and the last two weeks of May, New Years is a reminder of everything I have not managed to accomplish in my life. For me New Years is a reminder of all the bad decisions I have made in my life, a time to look back on the past 365 days and realize I am the same git I was a year ago.

There is a story behind the second reason, and, like with all stories, it is about a girl. In this case the girl and I had been involved in a long-distance relationship for three years. We talked almost every night and did the things we needed to do to make the relationship work until we were at a place where we could move in together. One day towards the end of December I came in to the office and found that I had a message from her. She told me that we needed to talk and I should call her after work. I called her right then. You can't go through the day with something like that hanging over your head, therefore I called her right then. She had called to break up with me. She eventually told me that she could have stayed with me and I would have been great to her and for her, but she wasn't going to be fulfilled by our relationship.

This hit me like a ton of bricks. We had been together for three years. We were talking about where we wanted to live when we had kids. I thought of her as my fiancee, and referred to her as such, even though I had not really proposed. Part of my future, the most important part to me, was set. I was in love with this girl and we were planning a life together. All of this came crashing down around me while I was sitting in my office. I was numb. I don't think I really left my office for the day but I know I didn't really get any work done.

She had started to be too busy or tired to talk to me at night. I wrote this off to being tired from working and going to school, but hindsight being 20/20, I can see that she had made the decision and just hadn't gotten up the courage to send me on my way. We had also been fighting a little recently, but I thought that was due to the fact that she had wanted to come visit for New Years and I was resisting. The week before New Years was one of my busiest times of the year. I was a supervisor in the Parts department at work, and we had to perform our end of year inventory and run reports on December 31st. This meant I usually spent New Years working until late, and then the week after New Years sick due to a combination of lack of sleep and stress. I didn't want her to come down and waste her time with me when I was going to be distracted and stressed out. Eventually she convinced me that it wouldn't bother her, and so she was planning on flying down here. She called the day before she was supposed to come down and broke up with me. It took less than 15 minutes to go from being on the verge of hot millennial nookie to once again being a member of the band of the hand.

I fell apart. I threw myself into work. I called her far to often trying to figure out what had gone wrong. I watched a personal record of twenty movies in the span of about four days. My mom was worried about me, so worried that she sent my dad down from Midlothian to pick me up and bring me home for a couple of days. Thus I ended up on their couch for New Years.

After New Years I was stuck fighting my usual depression along with the new depression of freedom that I had. I could do anything I wanted. I didn't have to worry about going home to call her. I could date. I could sleep around if I wanted. All I could do was sit around the house. I read some. I put on a lot of weight. I had no idea what to do. I had a future and then suddenly it was gone. Erased.

I can't remember if I thought about suicide, but if I did it would not have been seriously. Mainly because I am a big wimp and can't think of an acceptably painless way of offing myself. The fear of failure also plays into this. I am plagued by the fear of failure, sometimes it is so bad I can't get out of bed, and can you imagine how bad it would be if you were to fail at killing yourself?

This was, bar-none, the lowest point of my life. I did not have any good friends in College Station yet, and I felt somewhat abandoned by my friends in Houston. There was no one to help me through this thing that I had to do. More often than not I cried myself to sleep. My teddy bear the only witness to the lows I was reaching. Some nights I would drink myself to sleep.

I had to rebuild my life, and rather than be smart about it, I clung to the tatters of our relationship. I wouldn't let this girl go. I scrabbled and grasped for whatever scraps she would throw me. I told her and myself that I just wanted to maintain a friendship, but this wasn't true. My love for her had transmuted into some pathetic neediness. I needed to matter to her. I needed to make her hurt they way she had made me hurt. I needed some sort of power in the relationship, or what was left of it.

There were periods where we talked and then we wouldn't talk and then we would talk again. I started to move on, to get away from that sick, Gollum-like creature I had become. Eventually she stopped returning my calls and disappeared from my life completely. No emails. Nothing. It hurt a little bit, but in the end it is what I needed. I needed to know she didn't care anymore. At all. I was finally thrown away like the piece of garbage I had become in her eyes. I got over it. I went through a stage where love had been replaced by hate. You know after you have such an intense feeling for someone and you can't let go of the power of emotion? It transforms from love to hate. It is cliche, but that is what happened.

I got beyond my hatred and everything else that I felt. She became one more regret in the string of regrets that is my love life. I only recently got to the point where I talked to people about this, and I know there are a couple of you who are reading this that had no idea how bad it was for me.

Now why I am talking about this now, all of the sudden? What has got me thinking about this? I could try a little obfuscation on you, and myself, however it deals directly with the existence of this blog. She read an entry and posted a comment. She was sly and used a name that I never really called her, but something I could guess was her. The comment was a little provocative, kind of teasing but couched in the past tense to absolve her of any guilt should I react poorly to it. It even had a damned winking smiley emoticon in it. It was cute and harmless and it has had me messed up about this stuff for the majority of the weekend.

I loved her, but I also have a very strong physical reaction to her. After I read the comment I was shaking. I know writing this is playing into her hands, letting her know that she still has power over me. I am hoping that by sharing some of the worst times I have lived through that I might shed some light on them. Maybe I am hoping that confession will be the beginning of understanding for me.


I wrote this post several months ago and just stumbled across it this weekend as I was cleaning up my computer at the casa. I reread it and thought I would go ahead and share. I promise more funny this week.


Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain!

(I have NO idea why I thought of that lyric when I started typing this aside from the fact that both Oklahoma and tapioca have four syllables and end with a, but there it is)

Wednesday after lunch RF and I went to the Tropioca Tea & Coffee Bar so I could be introduced to bubble tea, which is something he talks about getting with some regularity. Bubble tea was described to me as being tea with tapioca in it. Sounds a little strange, but now that I am living in the big city, perhaps it is time for me to get over my provincial world view and try some new things. Besides, it is tapioca and I am a big fan of tapioca pudding (leave it alone). I was imagining tea with the little bits o’ tapioca that are usually found in pudding, however when we finally got our bubble teas (large jasmine, sweet, with milk and tapioca, I think) I found that the bottom of my glass was infested with .38 slugs of tapioca. This illustrated to me that I really did not know anything about tapioca. I always thought tapioca was some sort of seed or fruit, but confronted with the singularities of tapioca bobbling around in the bottom of my tea, I began to suspect my hypothesis on the origins of tapioca might be wrong. Apparently it was time to consult with the Trash Heap of the Internet, Wikipedia.

According to Madame Trash Heap, “Tapioca is an essentially flavorless starchy ingredient, or fecula, produced from treated and dried cassava (manioc) root.” Huh? About all I was able to get from this is that tapioca was basically a flour made from some root. I mean at least it wasn’t something truly disgusting like roe or rocky mountain oysters, but still this definition did not manage to encompass the tapioca I had come to know and love from the eponymous pudding, and what the heck is a fecula? When I first read this word I thought, “Count Fecula, ha, ha, haaa!” You know, the not too well known Gen-X cousin of everyone’s favorite Wallachian (and I’m not talking about Dr. Frank-N-Furter.)

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there for a moment, back to discovering what the heck a fecula is. Again Madame Trash Heap yields her secrets and teaches us that, “A Fecula is a flavourless (Hey! Who let the English edit this?!?) starchy ingredient, amylaceous and pulverised (Sneaky Brits! That’s twice!), extracted from vegetables like tubers, rhizomes, seeds used for cooking as a food thickener.(And don’t come back until you learn how to spell!)” And here I thought we used food as people thickener. The very brief article goes on to list various examples of a fecula such as arrowroot (huh?), cornstarch (hey, I know what that is!), potato starch (ohhhh, what a waste of perfectly good potential vodka), Maizena, the industrial fecula (it likes Ministry), Sago (it’s pithy), tapioca (well, duh), and toloman fecula (oh, yeah, THAT one.)

Corn starch was the only helpful entry in there and it looks like my initial guess at what a fecula is was correct. So now we all know that tapioca is a flour-like substance often used as a food thickener. Who knew the Opiate could be educational as well as entertaining?

Oh yeah, and as for the bubble tea itself? All in all I enjoyed the tea, although I don’t know if jasmine is really my flavor, it was kinda of flowery and perfume-y like an IPA, so next time I will have to try something else.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Its Ethan!

Back in the salad days (read: before I tangled with the law and then moved to College Station and turned into a jaded prematurely old fart) I was an almost constant guest at my friend’s duplex which was referred to as the Big Green House. When I wasn’t playing hockey, working, or tending to Gurion, Rob and Amy did an amazing job of putting up with me hanging around the BGH like a little lost puppy and cutting into what I am sure could have been quality nookie time. It was a really cool duplex in one of the cooler parts of town (near Shepherd and Westheimer) and from time to time they would throw awesome little parties. Usually these centered around themed movie nights where we would get together and watch two or three movies that were all thematically linked. The one theme that sticks out in my mind was Gary Oldman is Creepy Night, where we watched The Professional and Romeo is Bleeding, however I know I saw several Coen Brothers films there (including the piece of crap that is Blood Simple), Terry Gilliam’s triology of Time Bandits (childhood), Brazil (adulthood), and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (old age, and the first movie in which I found Uma Thurman attractive), as well as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Big Bang (which, first, is not a porno, and second, despite that, I highly recommend). There were other, less structured parties as well.

Now that I think about it, the incident I am going to relate must have taken place after I moved to College Station, since Amy’s younger brother, Ethan, was living in the place. Now before I go on I need to tell you a little bit about Ethan. He was a big boy, and I don’t mean fat. I am no petite, feminine flower, and I know how to handle myself, but Ethan is a man I would be scared to tangle with. He was an inch or so taller than me and he was a Rockabilly kind of boy. You know the type that likes to wear white t-shirts, blue jeans with a three inch cuff at the bottom, and big, dark, butt-kicking shoes. Ethan was also known to get a little rowdy and I suspected he could take care of himself when it came time to get to business.

There was this one night where several of us were at the BGH. We had been drinking for some reason or another (as if we ever really need a reason to drink) and Ethan was already more than a couple of beers into the evening when he decided he wanted to get together with his friends at Live Bait, which apparently was his bar at the time. We were sitting around the living room while Ethan tried to cajole one of his friends into coming over and picking him up since Ethan knew he was a little drunk and he did not want to mess up his car (I don’t remember what it was, but I remember it being something cool.) Monty (Ethan’s friend in this episode, according to my sources) was not going along with Ethan’s plans since when Ethan got the booze into him he tended to get rowdy. Ethan was trying to convince Monty that he was not drunk. This went on for a few moments and then suddenly Ethan busted out with, “This isn’t the beer talking, its Ethan!”

Genius. Pure, drunken genius.

BOOK REVIEW: A Gentleman's Game

I have been a fan of Tara Chace since I picked up the first issue of Queen & Country back in 2001. My one complaint about the series is that it seemed to have an erratic release schedule that, combined with a few other factors, caused my local comic shop to miss ordering about half the issues as they came out. This meant that Queen & Country was a feast or famine kind of thing for me, based on when I was able to hit the Houston comic shops and get caught up on missing issues. This also meant that when I was not able to find any issues after #28 (released in November 2004) I was not terribly surprised. I figured that usual suspects were selling out and I would have to eventually put together an order from an online dealer to fill in the gaps. Imagine my surprise when I read something about a Queen & Country novel. Now I was aware that Greg Rucka was a successful novelist, and I had even picked up one of his Atticus Kodiak novels but I never made it past the first chapter (which, by the way, is no commentary on the novel itself, I am just easily distracted) therefore I was not on the lookout for his latest literary endeavor. I eventually remembered the tidbit about the novel while searching for a trade paperback version of THE CONSTANT GARDENER (my review is here) and lo and behold I found a copy of A GENTLEMAN’S GAME and then promptly read it before anything else.

I thoroughly enjoyed A GENTLEMAN’S GAME. It had all the crunchy goodness of Queen & Country while being a more engaging way to encounter the characters. I enjoy comics, but sometimes the episodic nature of a 22-page book is not the best format to work in. Rucka made the wise, and I imagine not too difficult, choice to assume his readers would not be familiar with Tara Chace or any of the supporting characters, and thus spends some time introducing her, Paul Crocker, and the rest of the SIS Special Section to the reader, however he does so without making a fan of the comics feel disconnected from the story. There was never a point during these expository scenes that I wanted to flip ahead to get to the action, but I am getting ahead of myself here.

A GENTLEMAN’S GAME begins with an attack on the London subway system that is prescient of the London attacks earlier this year. In Rucka’s world the terrorists are MUCH more effective in their initial attacks and it is decided that in retribution for the attacks, the spiritual leader of the terrorists and one of the leaders of the guilty terrorists will be assassinated. This is what Tara Chace adrenaline junkie and Minder One in Her Majesty’s SIS Special Section does very well. She is thusly drawn in to a sprawling plot involving Mossad, the CIA, and not a little in-fighting between the domestic and foreign branches of the British government. Then something goes wrong.

This is all of the plot I can share with you without putting what I would consider spoilers in the review. As I said, this was an excellent read and I really feel that Queen & Country works better in novel form than it does in comic book form. Having said that, I would encourage anyone who reads and enjoys A GENTLEMAN’S GAME to pick up the comics as well as hit the bookstores on October 25th when the second Queen & Country novel, PRIVATE WARS, is released.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Time for the Manssier

The other day I was in my bathroom getting ready to go somewhere or getting home from work and I pulled off my shirt to be confronted by the most abhorrent site I had ever seen in my life (excluding and tubgirl, those are all manner of not right and might have scarred me.) Hairy manboobs. That’s right, I looked in the mirror and saw that yours truly was kicking some fierce A-cup action. Damn. Double-damn. For many years I have been what the kind refer to as big-boned and what the pragmatists call a fat git, but never in my life have I been kicking the manboobs before. It was disgusting! I mean besides my cute nipples it was just a traumatic experience, and I like boobs more than the average Joe, but not icky, hairy manboobs. Clearly it was time to take some action.

This action could really only take one of two forms, I could either give up and find somewhere that sells a 56A bra and support my boys (ain’t gonna happen for more than one reason) or I could get off my lazy and ever expanding butt and do something about it. RF (who I will refer to as Ratf#ck from now on) suggested home liposuction as a third option, and he even offered his wet/dry vac as the suctioning part, however I suspect this suggestion came more from RF just being kind of wrong rather than as a legitimate idea (although with that one you can never be 100% sure.) Clearly home liposuction was right out and if you have been reading the Opiate for awhile I am sure you have seen my rants about trying to get clothes for people of my build (located here and here for the new blood), therefore the only other option is to do something to combat the imperialistic tendencies of my fat cells.

Last year I went on a diet and came within 11 pounds of my goal (I was trying to go from a portly 311 lbs. to a more statuesque 250 lbs.) before everything just fell apart on me. By everything I mean my self-discipline went to crap and I started eating poorly again and I stopped walking. Now with the move to Houston I have successfully broken all of the good habits I had gotten into while doing the whole diet thing. Clearly it is time to fire up the old diet and exercise engine and get things squared away.

I have already started to replace some of my meals with salads, and RF and I are talking about being gym buddies (god that sounds so cute in a prison movie love sort of way). I would like to trim down to 250 lbs., which I think is a reasonable weight for my frame (my chest is about as deep as it is wide), and was the weight I was at before I left Houston. Since I want to start playing hockey again, I need to get my stamina up, and this means time on the stationary bike. Eventually running is not out of the picture, but I need to get down to 250 before that would be in the realm. I also need to work on my upper body strength. Throughout most of my life my legs have always gotten a good workout (of course they would, hauling my tubby butt around) and therefore have stayed in shape even as the rest of me goes to pot.

Here is the plan. I want to be in shape by the time I go to Flipside next year since this is really one of the few places I allow myself to all hang out as it were (and no, I am not talking about things south of the border, geeze you kids have dirty minds). Rather than say in shape, I would like to be down fifty pounds from where I am right now and hopefully be down a couple inches in the old waistline. Now all I have to do is decide which day will be my weigh in day and then get to work on cooking again. Keep your fingers crossed for me, hopefully in a few months there will be less of me to mock for being a fat git.


After I wrote this post on Tuesday I went out and bought myself a scale for the house and Wednesday morning I weighed in at a svelte 305.6 pounds. This is not as bad as I was expecting since I feel like I was more in the 320 range, but it still needs 55.6 pounds of work. Oh yeah, and it looks like Wednesday mornings are going to be my weekly weigh-in day.

I am still debating whether I should inflict a weekly update on all of you or not. On the one hand this comes perilously close to posting the cat, however I think posting the information here might help keep me motivated. If I am embarrassing myself in public I tend to be a bit more disciplined.

Monday, October 24, 2005

To Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

That is the question which assails my mind at the present. From time to time I Google my name (and I have learned some fascinating facts about myself which I will share at some point) and names of old friends which I wish I would have kept in touch with. Through this somewhat stalker-esque application of everyone’s favorite search engine I found the person I believe to be the subject of my Lesbian Spank Inferno post. That was about it until tonight. I tend to engage in this somewhat sad little practice when I am feeling a little lonely and been drinking (For a thirty-two year-old I seem to obsess about my past an awful lot. I am sure my therapist will eventually have fun with that, but back to the matter at hand.)

I guess tonight I was feeling lonely and I had been drinking a little while alternating between reading and seeing how many times I can listen to Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree album before I kill someone. I decided to do a couple of the Google searches for shits-n-giggles and this time I hit the proverbial jack pot. Well, sort of. Every time I play the Google game I put Rachel’s name in (for those of you who are unfamiliar with Rachel and her significance in my life, check my post titles A Couple of Tracks from My Life) and this time I got a valid hit! In the past I had found a couple of posts from her on some nutty Christian website, but they were pretty old and seemed to indicate that she had moved to Oregon. I thought nothing more of it except in my moments of thought that bordered on self-pity. This time Google pulled back the following post on the Nederland High School – Alumni page:

Rachel Cowart Taylor Lindsay
Cypress TX 77433

updated: 02/15/05
I didn't graduate with the '94 class, but some of us have been going to school together since we were in Kindergarten! I left NHS to graduate in The Woodlands but I have called Nederland home several times in the past 10 years. After one failed marriage, a beautiful daughter (06/97) and no college degree, I found my lot in life... Environmental Emergency Response. I spent the next 7 years working like crazy and always on call. After 6 years of being a working single mom, I am now a stay at home mom, married July 2004 to the love of my life and working on a second kiddo. I am taking ASL now and hope to start working with deaf children in the Fall. Hope everyone is doing well! Drop me a line sometime.

“Holy crap!” was my first thought, and because I am not a good person I immediately thought, “People that do urls like that bug me.”

What should I do? Immediately I wanted to email her and say hello, but there was this clenching in my guts. I have some very fond and some not so fond memories of Rachel and I am probably guilty of putting her up on a pedestal, and so renewing contact with her after a decade could be weird. Was I even certain it was the right Rachel? I didn’t really see how it could be anyone else, but hell, weirder things have happened. In order to verify my gut instinct I went ahead and plugged the address into my browser and after a couple of clicks there, through the vastness of cyberspace I was looking at pictures of her. The face so familiar to my memory’s eye.

Now do I shoot her an email and say wassup or let sleeping dogs lie? My roommate says to leave it alone. I suspect he wanted to cuss about it as well, but since we were using Yahoo Chat he went for short answer (and yes, we were IMing each other while in the same house, we’re so sad).

I guess I don’t know what I am going to do. For right now I am going to leave it alone, but knowing me I will break down by Wednesday and email her.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Elevator or Bathroom

It been awhile since I shared one of my moments of “Duh!” with you guys, so I thought I would relate this little embarrassment that took place in the office about a week ago.

So there I was laboring away at my desk on some project or another (have I mentioned lately that I love my job because it is something different almost every day? I do.) when it occurred to me that I really had to go to the bathroom. I have been trying to drink more water and less soda so now when the urge arrives, it ARRIVES. I got up and casually walked out of the office, telling my officemate that I had to go to the bathroom and offering to bring him back something if he so desired. I imagine Wayne said something truly deep like, “I’m not listening,” and with that I tromped out the door. I wandered down the hall until the critical point in my journey came. I could either go to the right and relieve the growing pressure in my bladder or I could go to the left and get on the elevator. Care to guess which option I embraced, dear reader?

You’re right; I went left. I turned towards the elevators and proceeded to press the button for the down elevator. I waited for a minute or two until my elevator arrived, boarded said elevator, and then proceeded to press the button for the Basement. As the elevator was plummeting towards the basement it occurred to me that this was not, in fact, the way to the bathroom, and what the hell was I doing in an elevator? At this point there was nothing to do but ride the elevator to the basement and then turn around and head back up to my floor to tinkle. My one hope was that no one would get on the elevator with me.

Clearly I was paying back some minor faux pas in a past life because karma was not with me. As the elevator reached the basement and the doors opened, one of the four or five paralegals I have worked with got on the elevator. She gave me a look that spoke exactly eighteen words. These words were, “What the heck are you doing staying on the elevator rather than getting off and going to lunch?”

At this point I REALLY had to pee and all I could do was shrug and shift back and forth from foot to foot (I get fidgety when holding it in). I think I made some sort of joke about being off my meds again or having found my bosses’ stash of booze, however I am not sure. All I know at this point is that as soon as we got back to our floor I made a beeline straight for the bathroom and sweet, sweet relief. Everything came out fine, just in case you were wondering, and I went back to my desk and my project, feeling a bit sheepish and not to bright. At least until my officemate said something and then I felt intelligent again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Word of the Day - Muffin Top

From a friend:

You're all familiar with this dreadful fad of tight low-risejeans. I've seen women sporting this look who had maybe 3% body fat,and every last molecule of it was spilling over their waistband. Onmore normal women it turns into a feminine version of the spare tire,which wasn't so hot on its original gender, either.

Well, my pal Deana has coined what I believe to be the canonical namefor this look: "muffin top."

Use freely, spread widely.


If they are also wearing a tight bra & shirt I call it sausage chic.

I would like to fully endorse these nom de fashion faux pas and would encourage anyone who reads this to spread them. These are probably third on my list of most hated fashion f-ups. The other two are guys who wear flip flops in public places that are not swimming pools/beaches and girls who think pajamas are acceptable wear for shopping/movie going/attending class. The second one may be born out of jealousy since I would be tossed in jail if I wore my pjs out of the house.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What is this baseball of which you speak

I need to start this post by saying that as a general rule I do not follow baseball. I will pay enough attention during the season so I can discuss it at work with some of the more rabid fans, but beyond that I find the game rather boring. This is not to say I do not enjoy going to see games with friends, but I feel the game is too slow to watch on television. Thirty minutes of Baseball Tonight on ESPN shows me all the important (read exciting) plays of the day without all the waiting around for something good to happen.

The second thing I need to confess is that I am the worst sort of sports fan. If it is not a national team, or Aeros/Stars/Canadiens hockey, I am a fair-weather fan.

Now that we have got that straight, a certain someone whose blog I read on a daily basis has been talking some crap about the Astros (witness ASTROS SUCK and attendant comments). Admittedly Pete backed off a bit after the ‘Stros went up 3-1 in the series (BASEBLARGH), however because I am a seven year old trapped in a thirty-two year old body, I felt the need to say:


Or rather:

At least you managed to fend off the dick-slapping promised to you by basshole. I am sure the twig and giggleberries thank you.

After the totally airwolf win by the Astros I am ready to watch me some boring World Series baseball and pretend like I cared all season long. Go Astros!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Final Rampage

In the few short months I have been reading blogs, Graeme’s Fanboy Rampage has become the one place that I check several times a day. Graeme fearlessly surfed the comics newsites and blogosphere, places many mere mortals fear to tread, and brought back all the news that was fit to mock. Once the news was posted the comments would come alive, often feeling more like a message board than a blog comments section. I will not belabor the point that others, such as Dave Campbell and Beaucoup Kevin, have much more eloquently expressed, but I am saddened by the passing of the Fanboy Rampage. Thank you for all the fun Graeme!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Arithmetic of Cool

While reading the Fanboy Rampage I stumbled across mention of the world’s greatest comic book title ever, Monkey in a Wagon vs. Lemur on a Big Wheel. Let me say that again, MONKEY IN A WAGON VS. LEMUR ON A BIG WHEEL (in all caps and red letters, I must be excited.) Sadly I was not able to find a webpage for the creator, Monkey Pharmacy Productions, however I did find a review of the book over at written by Graig Kent (you can read it here) where he gave the book four out of five Vikings, which seems to be a pretty good rating. Mr. Kent tells us that this comic is basically a Spy vs. Spy with a monkey in a wagon and his arch nemesis, the titular lemur on a Big Wheel, but who cares what it is about! Just look at how many good things are included in this book:

  1. Monkeys. Need I say more?

  2. Wagons. Now who doesn’t have fond memories of their wagon as a child? Mine was a cool, red wooden wagon that we could attach to my Big Wheel (see #4) so I could haul more crap. And as an adult they are so useful!

  3. Lemurs. They are only found in one place on Earth; Madagascar, and according to the recent documentary lemurs are the quintessential party animals.

  4. Big Wheels. Again, something every child loved. I rode mine so much that the wheels actually wore out. I even tried riding it down the stairs once, which did not work out so well, but I still have fond memories of it and wish I had a big boy big wheel now. I would totally ride it to check the mail and stuff.

So there you go. Simple monkey math tells you that something that is four out of four parts cool must be cool indeed. Personally I suspect the fifth Viking was terrified of the monkey and thus could not enjoy the comic, or perhaps he was Dutch. I could never really stand the Dutch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Giant Crackers in the Sea

I met Shawn through the good offices of Tami and Steven.  Now Shawn is crazy.  Not crazy in the he needs to be medicated sort of way, but rather crazy in the he grew up in a small town (Mineral Wells) without proper parental supervision kind of way.  Oh yeah, and he thinks he is immortal.  He is also one of the funniest guys I have the pleasure of knowing.  All of this adds up to I would not trust Shawn with my pet rattlesnake, let alone a child.  Of course this means Shawn is a single father.

Alyssa, Shawn’s daughter, is 100% her father’s child.  Beyond being a stick (Did I mention that Shawn is in the neighborhood of six feet tall and cannot weigh more than 175 pounds?) she is also a very funny and a little crazy.  To be honest I feel sorry for the boys when she gets a little older because she is going to be WAY smarter than them, and a handful to boot.  Shawn dotes on Alyssa without spoiling her and is perhaps one of the best fathers I have ever seen in action.  He always has a new story for us about Alyssa’s latest exploit, and even though the Pickle Jar Opening Extravaganza and the Raw Spam Smorgasboard stories rank up there, to this day the funniest story about Alyssa is the Giant Crackers in the Sea story.

One day Shawn got a call from one of Alyssa’s teachers asking him to come in for a conference because she was very worried about some things Alyssa had said in class the other day.  Being concerned about Alyssa, Shawn of course went in to have a conference with the teacher.  At this conference the teacher proceeded to tell Shawn that Alyssa had been telling a story to the other kids that disturbed her (the teacher.)  Apparently Alyssa was telling the kids about something where there was a giant cracker in the sea that was attacking a girl and someone threw snake heads at it until it was destroyed.  The teacher really focused on Alyssa’s use of the word destroyed, and she kept coming back to this throughout the conference, feeling that it was somehow inappropriate for a girl Alyssa’s age (she was around 6 or 7 at the time).  Shawn’s feeling on it was, “So what?  Alyssa is a smart kid with an above-average vocabulary for her age.  No big deal.”  As soon as he figured out this is what the teacher was worried about he tuned her out and tried to figure out where Alyssa had come up with this story.

Giant cracker in the sea?  Nope, nothing there.  Snake heads?  Again, nothing.  I am not sure when it occurred to Shawn, but eventually he had the realization that Alyssa was describing the climax to Clash of the Titans.  You know, where the kraken is menacing Princess Andromeda and Perseus saves her by using the head of Medusa to turn the kraken into stone?  Apparently they had watched Clash of the Titans with some friends recently and Alyssa was telling her classmates about the film.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lighting the Lamp

I am a relative late-comer to my hockey fandom. Being a native Texan I did not really become aware of the game until sometime towards the end of high school. I know I have been aware of hockey far longer than I have been a fan. I was already familiar with the names Howe and Gretzky when I started watching games in 1992, and the first picture that comes to mind when I think hockey is a flag-draped Jim Craig searching the stands for his father. The first time I can remember watching hockey was during the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs. Not knowing anything about the game I chose to root for the Montreal Canadiens because one of my friends in high school had given me a Canadiens puck. As it turns out the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup that year and I had a new addiction.

Over the next couple of years my interest in hockey branched out from just following the NHL. I started to watch college and minor league games, read magazines, and even collect hockey cards. I even bought some rollerblades and started to learn how to skate so my friends and I could play street hockey together. Then in 1994 my hockey world changed. In January Houston was awarded a hockey francise in the IHL and on October 7th, three days after my birthday, I was one of the 15,552 people sitting in the summit to watch the Aeros face off against the Atlanta Knights. I watched that first Aeros game on the edge of my seat. I don’t remember whether we won or lost, but I knew I was hooked. From then on it became my tradition, as long as I lived in Houston, to attend opening night. I attended many other games as well and got to see some great moments, like the 5-3 defeat of the Orlando Solar Bears in 1999 which won the Aeros their first championship, and not so great moments. Out of all of these moments, opening night is the one night I look forward to each year. There is a magic to the whole night that I cannot put in to words. The atmosphere is electric. There is a purity to opening night. It is a new beginning.

Thus I came to find myself sitting in the Toyota Center on Friday night, the buzz of the crowd washing over me, the scent of ice heavy in the air. It had been too long since I had made my fall tribute to the gods of hockey, having not made it to an opening night in several years. I had excellent seats. Eight rows back from the ice behind the opposing bench.

I was here. I was ready.

The puck dropped and the game was on!

The Aeros held up their end of the bargain, winning the game 6-5 on the back of a hat trick from Roman Voloshenko and 25 saves from Josh Harding. The Aeros out-shot the San Antonio Rampage 41-26. There were a lot of penalties, which broke up the flow of the game but lead to some exciting breakaway chances.

None of this mattered. For the 60 minutes those guys were out on the ice nothing else mattered. The Aeros were back. I was back.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Snark Share

I read this in the comments section of Fanboy Rampage today and thought it was worthy of sharing:

Thank god for G.I.Joes. Not only could they ransack your sister's barbie mansion in a professional, efficient manner, but they got me reading comics, too.
I primarily read Fanboy Rampage for the comments section. There is nothing like some fanboy angst to make me smile in the A.M.

And from Dave's Llongbox comes this gem:

Dave's Longbox is one of my favorite blogs. Dave is an excellent writer and his theme weeks are not to be missed. The previous week covered Boob War comics and this covers comics people are embarassed to admit they paid full price for. There is also a lot of crossover between the readers of Fanboy Rampage and Dave's Longbox, so the comments section of Dave's posts render little gems like this and are worth the read.

Number 32

Subtitled: A Rather British Evening

So Wednesday was my 32nd birthday and that evening turned out to be one of the best birthdays I have had in a long time. I shared the evening with some friends, had good conversation, did some drinking, learned a few lessons, and was not too hungover or in jail Thursday morning. All in all the evening was a resounding success.

The evening began at The Black Lab, one of the few places in Houston that serves British food. I have slowly come to the realization that one of the most important things for a successful night of drinking is the foundation upon which you pile the booze. A mistake I often make is that I will start drinking without having stable food in my stomach. This leads to a host of problems both in the morning and later in the evening (or day depending on how early you start.) In turn I have deduced that British food in general, and pub food in particular is designed to provide this foundation.

I decided Shepherd’s Pie and a couple of pints of Guinness would be a good way to start the evening. Rob, my MC and driver for the evening, and I were joined by Scott, Don and Mike for dinner. It was a lot of fun. I got to make jokes that made people groan, some of them vaguely offensive, but some of them rather milquetoast considering the circumstances. Rob tried to get me to go fight a girl at the bar to no avail. Honestly Rob can do a pretty poor job of being a bad influence. He knows if he wants me to fight someone there has to be a pay phone involved or I had better be drinking tequila.

After the Black Lab, Scott, Rob, and I headed over to the Kelvin Arms in the Rice Village area. They claim to be Houston’s only authentic Scottish pub. Having never been to a Scottish pub I cannot debate the veracity of this claim, however I can attest to the fact that they have an impressive selection of scotch.

The Kelvin Arms is where I learned the two most important lessons of the evening. First I learned that “Your mom” is a funny answer to nine out of ten trivia questions. For example, “Who invented the first steam boat?” The correct answer is Robert Fulton (for some reason I was convinced it was Robert Smith) but just say “Your mom.” Comedy. “What member of the Little Rascals, who went on to be an STP spokesperson, was born Mickey Gubitossi?” “Your mother.” Funny, funny stuff.

I also learned, or rather confirmed a long-held suspicion of mine, that drinking with a former bartender is a bad idea. They know all sorts of remarkably inventive and stupid ways to get you drunk. Fast. It moves into the realm of historically bad ideas when this former bartender also happens to be Scottish, a people who are genetically superior to any other when it comes to putting away the hooch with no ill effects. As someone pointed out to me they have a whole class of liquor named after them. When Rob and I arrived at the bar Scott was lying in wait with what he calls a “proper” Car Bomb. The most familiar version of the Car Bomb or Irish Car Bomb is a shot that is half whiskey and half Bailey’s which is then dropped into a half-pint of Guinness. The entire drink is then drunk very quickly. According to Scott the addition of the Bailey’s is something of a pansy American thing and that a proper Car Bomb is just a shot of whiskey dropped into the half-pint of Guinness. Brutal. After that I had a glass of Laphroaig and then started in with the Whiskey Sours. (I had to have a girly drink but didn’t want to unman myself in front of Rob and Scott by ordering something really fruity like a Midori or Amaretto Sour.) Sometime later in the evening Scott then had the bartender whip up something he calls an Absolut Shambles. This is something you can only give to two kinds of people: those you don’t like and those you know you do not have to deal with in the morning. The recipe for a single serving is: Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in a shot of vodka. Fill to within 1 inch of the top with Red Bull. Top off with champagne or sparkling wine. This is a dangerous drink because it combines the energy burst of Red Bull with the 100% guarantee of a hangover that accompanies champagne. Scott is a really good guy and I like hanging out with him, but damn he can be dangerous when you let him order drinks.

I went on to have some more whiskey sours and a Snakebite. Again Scott had to muck about with the Snakebite. The Snakebite I am used to is a half-pint of Guinness atop a half-pint of cider, usually Ace Pear cider. The Snakebite Scott had them prepare was a half-pint of some lager atop a half-pint of Strongbow cider with a short of Absolut Kurrant thrown in for good measure. I think I will stick with my Guinness and Ace Snakebites.

Some time between the whiskey sours and the Absolut Shambles, Annie and Paulina show up and join the festivities. Paulina had threatened to show up via email, but sometimes those threats end up being empty threats, so we were not sure if anyone else was going to join us. I was really happy to see them both. I have considered Paulina a good friend almost from when I first met her, and I was glad to have the opportunity to get to know Annie better. We had met a couple of times at parties and whatnot and I had always wanted to get to know her better, however I am intimidated by attractive women and therefore I was not going to go up to her and talk to her. By showing up these two raised the level of the conversation and prevented the evening from being a total sausage fest.

Around midnight we decided to head over to 10 Downing Street and moon Tony Blair. By moon Tony Blair I mean finish the evening with a few more drinks and a round of cigars from Scott’s locker. Sadly they did not know how to make a Richslide (a half-pint of Maret-sous 8 layered on a half-pint of Ace Pear Cider) so I had to settle for another Guinness. We sat outside and drank our last drinks of the evening and shared some quiet conversation as Two in the AM slowly stole upon us. Cigars were smoked, ensuring that I would wake up and feel like someone had taken a crap in my mouth, and then as the bar closed, we headed home for the evening, which for me was Rob’s couch. Before I crashed Rob forced me to drink a glass of Emergen-C, thus preventing the next morning from being a complete disaster.

All in all a very excellent and subdued evening with the proper mix of friends, jackassery, and talk. Thanks guys and girls!

The image is from one of the birthday cards my friend Nikki sent me! Thanks Nikki!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Foleys Hates the Fat Man

So today is my birthday and after work I was planning on going out with some friends and drinking myself into a liquid state. While discussing plans for the night, primarily where I was going to crash and said logistics, I realized that I had neglected to bring any undergarments to wear tomorrow. I brought a pair of pants, socks, and a polo shirt, but no undershirt or underwear. There are only three ways this was going to turn out. I could go commando tomorrow and then post about the new freedom I had discovered, but that struck me as being too derivative from Dave’s recent adventure in underpantlessness. I could wear the same underthings I am wearing today, although this option was not really actually considered and is just listed here for completeness. The third option is that I find a nice quiet store and pick up some britches at some point during the night.

Since shopping in a group while drunk is always an exciting proposition this option held some momentary appeal to me until I realized I would probably come back with a red leather banana hammock festooned with sequins. This could be bad, and I am not just talking on a squishing the boys into said red leather banana hammock festooned with sequins would be uncomfortable bad, but it would also be bad on a psychological level. And since we would be drunk and there would be several of us there might either be pictures of me trying it on, but at the very least word would get out about James and the Giant Thong.

I emailed the evening’s MC regarding the need to stop somewhere to prevent an unnecessary commando mission (I wanted to work in a joke about assassinating Hugo Chavez here, but I just can’t come up with anything). His response was exactly four words long and it solved all of my problems. What were the magic words you ask?

“Foley’s is your friend…”

He could not be more right; or so I thought. With the downtown Foley’s barely two blocks down the street from my office (I can actually see it from my window) acquiring the previously mentioned unmentionables was going to be a piece of cake.

I think Shakespeare said it best when Puck said, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

I made the quick jaunt down to Foley’s, only momentarily distracted by the bus being towed by one of the big tow trucks (those things are so frickin’ cool). Once I arrived at Foley’s the comedy of errors began. To start with I could not figure out where the men’s underpants section was. The sign told me that men’s wear was on the second floor, therefore I thought this the best place to start. They had slacks, suits, sportswear, and women’s “intimate apparel” (as soon as I saw the section I felt like a pervert and that all the women on the floor were looking at me in disdain) but no britches.

You might think this would be the time to ask where they keep the undies, but not for me! I don’t need no stinkin’ directions! I then went to the third floor. Girls clothes. Before I proceeded to the fourth floor I found another store directory. This time I bothered to read the directory and learned that men’s shirts, shoes, and furnishings were actually on the first floor. I told the part of my brain that was making jokes about men’s furnishings to shut up and went downstairs. There, tucked away in some corner of the store, were the underwear racks.

This was it! I had arrived. Now all I had to do was find some underoos that fit and I could be on my way. (Man I miss the underoos. I would totally wear Batman underoos if they made them in adult sizes.) I looked through the racks thinking all I had to do was find some that fit. Find some that fit. Find some that fit. Find some that fit. (Imagine a somewhat crappy echo effect here as I search for underpants.) I found one package of underwear that are of an appropriate size. ONE PACKAGE! That’s it. In all the Jockeys’, Tommy, Ralph Lauren, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom there were only two pairs of boxer shorts in the whole damn store that would fit my chunky butt.

MC Rob I hate to disagree with you, but you were wrong. Foley’s is not my friend. Foley’s is an evil empire telling me I am too fat to fit into their stylish underpants. Sounds like a lot of girls I have met in my life. Huh.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Funky Girls Rooms

As some of you regulars may have noticed, I added a counter to my blog (it is WAY down there at the bottom of the page.) Ever since I started blogging I wanted a way to find out who was reading my stuff and then, one day, I stumbled across a meter on someone else’s blogspot blog. I then added the meter to my site.

Now, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with the title of this particular post, Funky Girls Rooms. One of the features of the meter is that I can review a whole bunch of data about each hit I get, including the ISP, location, and referring URL. In the case of visit #188 to the Opiate of the Masses the person, I assume it was a guy, was surfing from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

How did he come to stop at my little corner of the web? Well, he performed a search at for Funky Girls Rooms and this blog was the seventh link presented by that particular search. Since his visit length was 0 seconds I am assuming he did not find what he wanted which, judging from the search terms Funky, Girls, and Rooms, is something that should not be seen, but nonetheless I had a good chuckle about it this morning and thought I would share.