Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Possible Scenarios for Heaven

Any introduction would take away from it:

From Leslie Harpold:

"Possible Scenarios for Heaven"

A record arm that you can pick up and put down in favorite parts of your life to play over, like dropping the needle in the middle of your favorite song back in 1980, when you knew exactly which part of the groove was where the guitar solo to "Train in Vain" ended. Moving it there meant you could dance around your room for just one more minute before shoving off, face first, into the snow on a school day. Pick the arm up in heaven, and it's the moment right before Billy Mullen kisses you, standing in the Putt Putt parking lot, just before the street lights come on. Leave it playing through the part where you race home, feet barely touching the ground for the nine blocks you run until you collapse on the landing, face flushed. Lift it off again before you hear your mom say "Young lady..." After savoring it a moment, which might be three hundred heaven years, drop it again that one day you stood in front of the mirror naked and went "you know, I think my boobs are pretty good," and actually believed it. Just replaying the greatest moments again and again, and always being pleasantly surprised how quickly they add up, how many you have to choose from, not having had the luxury of seeing them like an endless play list when you wandered around on this mortal coil.

You get to drive down the most beautiful road ever as fast or slow as you like in a car with enough leg and head room, a great stereo, and the companion of your choice. Your companion enjoys riding shotgun as much as you love driving. Someone brushes your hair every single day and never says, "My arms are tired."

The novel you wished would never end doesn't and peonies bloom year round. You are encouraged to watch movies from an oversized bathtub.

Get up around sunrise, because sunrise is always five minutes after you wake up in heaven, and seeing a different and more magnificent one each day, simultaneously thinking "Wow, earth was beautiful" and also "This is pretty great too." Spend the whole day reunited with pets and being really good at all the stuff you never got around to learning but always wanted to try like snow boarding and making quilts.

The feeling you get when you wake up in the middle of the night laughing thinking about the silliest thing you saw that day.

Swimming in the nicest pool ever, (100% pee free!) slightly heated, incredibly refreshing and no one ever bumping into you. To keep you aware of how lovely it is, periodically you get out of the pool for a big cookout where the watermelon they serve after the hot dogs is fresh and sweet, and there's no penalty for getting back in the pool too soon. Also spitting watermelon seeds would be considered a beautiful gesture, not something "nice young ladies like you do not do."

Perpetually maintaining a combination of these three feelings: hearing the first five bars of your favorite song in an unexpected place, the feeling you have when you wake up from a power nap, drink a glass of water and blink twice while taking your deepest breath; combined with that super fleeting moment your lips stop touching someone else's. Right when you realize you've been kissed.

It is totally okay to write yourself notes and draw pictures on your arms and legs, as long as they are beautiful. P.S. You also get perfect penmanship.

Prada looking pants that feel like flannel pajama bottoms. You are always a size six.

Fresh blackberries with breakfast every day. Diet coke on tap. Gymnastics are second nature to your body, you flip and tumble with alacrity. When people look at you, they see you and they smile from the heart. At night you sleep on the softest pillow ever, and both sides of the pillowcase are cool.

What is is always good enough.

I'm sorry to say that Leslie went to the great soaking tub in the sky in 2006. I didn't discover this piece until this year, but it was definitely one of my favorites, and worthy of a posthumous award. You can track down more of her writing at The Morning News or through the links at the bottom of this post.

Oh. That Would Be Me.

What moron posted the wrong video and called it "The Best of the Year?"

Anyway, here's the real thing:

Complete with stupid hippie stoner cameraman.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best and Worst Video of 2008

Why do I have a favorite music video of the year? What am I, 15?

Oh, no, my pets. This is Jim James and M. Ward live at St. David's church in Austin during SXSW. [Jim James even cut his hair -- swoon.] This is straight out of a dream. [Jim James comes in around the 3:00 mark in this 7:14 video.]

Now why is this my least favorite video of the year? BECAUSE IT CUTS OFF BEFORE THE END OF THE SONG. WTF? YOU POT-SMOKING HIPPIE CAMERAMAN.

Here's a more complete version, but this one cuts off the beginning. (3:07)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Favorite MetaFilter Threads of 2008

A Wild and Introspective Guy
Because I like Steve Martin, but this thread covers a lot more about comedy and writing.


As Jason Kottke said, "No one needs more stuff. But if you've got some disposable income burning a hole in your pocket..."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

While You Weren't Looking, They Were Working

I forgot to add in the last post that all week long I'll be posting my favorite writing from around the web. Here is a piece I found that was written by Ben Stein for The New York Times in honor of Father's Day.

Take it away, Ben:

When You Weren’t Looking, They Were Working

MOST business journalism is about investments and the people who make them, usually on a large scale. Or else it is about the big dogs who run the mighty earldoms of American business and the agencies that regulate them. This is fair enough. As Calvin Coolidge said, “The business of America is business.”

We all want to read about money and how it’s made and lost. But for young people who might have no idea of what business involves, or even what work beyond flipping burgers or selling DVDs might mean, here is a little primer on what it is and why it means something as Father’s Day approaches.

A few days ago, I came across a draft of a memoir my father was working on before he entered immortality in 1999. After reading it carefully, I realized that I knew almost everything in it except for one huge thing: how hard his work — his “business,” as one might say, for it surely kept him “busy” — had been for a number of years in middle age.

To me, as a child and as a teenager, in Silver Spring, Md., he simply got up in the morning, packed his briefcase and went to a fine office at Connecticut Avenue and K Street in Washington — or, if he had business in New York, he packed his suitcase and went to the train after work. When he came home, he had stories about the elegant restaurants he had tried near his office, maybe Duke Zeibert’s or Harvey’s, or, if he had gone to New York, about his room at the St. Regis at 55th Street and Fifth Avenue and how outrageous it was ($30 a night), and how his sleeper car on the train had not really allowed him much sleep.

He never, and I mean never, talked about making money, and he always seemed to have enough of it for a middle-class or maybe upper-middle-class lifestyle. So, frankly, I just assumed that he was having a good time down at his office and was secure and happy in his work.

His memoir told a different tale. There were arguments and power struggles at the Committee for Economic Development, where he was research director. (It was and is an organization of high-ranking business people who put out papers on social and economic issues. My father, for about 20 years starting in the mid-1940s, was the author of many of these papers.) Yes, my father was able to socialize with the heads of the major corporations in America and live on an expense account the way they did, but it was always clear who was the boss. Yes, he got to fly first class, but it was always a struggle to be shown some respect by certain of his colleagues and he often considered quitting.

He also wondered, if he quit, what he would do next and how he would pay the bills, and he did not want his children to have to worry about money, as he did when he was a child of the Great Depression.

I think of this as I shlep through the airport security line with my heavy bags (Willy Loman style), as crazy people sit in front of me on the plane, trying to break my nose by throwing their seatbacks onto me, and as I wake up early to travel to the next destination. Then, as I look at all the other middle-aged (and sometimes older) road warriors in the security line, on the plane or checking into the hotel, I think of our children in school.

I picture our kids bravely taking moral stands on global warming and the polar bears, refusing to “sell out,” get a job or learn anything useful. I think of what I could write to them about their parents’ work. I would start with a short phrase from Hart Crane, the genius poet.

“O, brilliant kids, I was a fool just like you. I was in my mid-40s before I properly thanked my father for his decades of hard work — paying for me to laze around in the cars he bought me, to get drunk in the frat house whose dues he paid, to spend the afternoons with my girlfriends looking at trees and rivers while Pop worked and got so anxious that he took up smoking three packs of Kents a day.

“O, brilliant kids, you get to put on the garments of the morally righteous and upstanding while your parents work — because mothers work now and always have worked — and your parents must say, ‘Yes, sir,’ or ‘No, sir,’ to those who hire them. O, golden children, you get to talk about how you’ll never ‘sell out,’ and meanwhile your parents stay up late in torment, thinking of how they can pay your tuition. Because, brilliant kids, work (business) involves exhaustion and eating humble pie and going on even when you think you can’t. And you are the beneficiaries of it in your gilded youth.

“Be smarter than Ben Stein ever was. Be a better person than I ever was. Right now, today, thank your parents for working to support you. Don’t act as if it’s the divine right of students. Get right up in their faces and say, ‘Thank you for what you do so I can live like this.’ Say something. Say it, so that when they’re at O’Hare or Dallas-Fort Worth and they’ve just learned that their flight is canceled and they’ll have to stay overnight at the airport, they will know you appreciate them.

“Get it in your heads that if you throw away your moral duties to your parents, you are thieves. You were born on third base and your parents put you there, and you think you hit a triple. It’s not true. It’s time to give back.

“ `Attention must be paid,’ as Arthur Miller said. So start now, and make it a habit to be grateful to your parents. Say you’re grateful and mean it. Do it now, however young or old you are. Do it on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, every day.”

How I wish I had done more of it. Now it’s too late — but it’s never too early.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Favorites in '08

I thought that I would use the week between Christmas and New Year's to post some of my favorite things from the past year. True, I'm running 2 days late now, but that's not actually so bad for me.

Favorite Album:

My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
No contest.

Favorite Movie:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Nutcracker

I curled up on the couch last night and watched the SF Ballet production of The Nutcracker on t.v. with Becca. It was SUCH a great production, set in 1915 San Francisco. I'm still swooning over the costumes. Thanks for the tip MrsEm.

It's repeating on PBS throughout the holidays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Bad Idea Jeans Are Feeling Kinda Tight

3 hours of sleep + lasagna at lunch = forehead hitting desk soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nutella Cookies

cookie party at biz', originally uploaded by houston mamacita.

By request of a few:

Nutella Cookies

2.5 cups flour
0.5 teaspoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
approx. 26 oz Nutella (one large jar)
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In one bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and the two sugars until all is integrated and fluffy. Mix in the Nutella, followed by the chopped hazelnuts. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in three increments, integrating each one before adding the next. Chill dough while oven preheats to 350 degrees F. Scoop the dough into balls and bake for about 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wanna Hear Something Funny?

Jim Parsons mentioned this in a thread on Houstonist about the controversial Philip Johnson building that houses the UH Architecture School.

Yeah, Johnson used an unbuilt design from an 18th century French architect as his model, and at the groundbreaking, a bunch of students in Philip Johnson glasses apparently showed up and heckled him.

My favorite part of the story is that Johnson himself reportedly burst through a banner showing a rendering of the building, just like high school football players do before a game. Of course, he was already 175 years old, so that took a lot of moxie. Or a banner with a Philip Johnson-shaped perforation cut into it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

trees with lights

trees with lights, originally uploaded by houston mamacita.

I love Christmas lights in Houston. The best is when they wrap the trunks in lights and then let the lights fall down from the branches like Spanish moss.


The Orange Show (a folk art museum and amusement park dedicated to, you know, oranges) hosted the East End Christmas Party last night. You are going to die when you hear how cool it was. First of all, there were lowriders parked all over the street. Then, as soon as I walked in, somebody handed me a hot buttered rum. Oh, yes. They also had beer and iced tea. Good call on the refreshments, eh?

Upstairs they had tamales and hot sauce from Big Daddy's Ass Burn -- there were three varieties; I really liked the Flaming Lips one. It was made with pineapple juice. I talked to the guy from Big Daddy's for a minute. He's friends with the Flaming Lips, he teaches Math at Memorial High School, and he looks like a member of Metallica. He let Becca rub his beard.

There were crafts for the kiddos, and the entertainment -- oh, y'all. There were three Spanish-speaking acts. The highlight -- the one who got all the Mexican teenage girls a-jumpin' -- was Chingo Bling. He did a really small set, but it was fun. Emmet was dancing like a fool. Of course, I bought one of Mr. Bling's t-shirts, and he took this picture of me and Letitia and some of our friends:

I don't know what else I can tell you about the sheer awesomeness of it all, but I was thinking of you when I took this last picture.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Watch Mamacita Breathe Into a Bag

This is usually Decorno's gig, but she's out cavorting in Mexico. Somebody has to step up.

Do you know how much I hate Pottery Barn? Actually, I can't even say it's a pure hate. There are things at PB that aren't so bad. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I'm saying it's a possibility. Individual pieces, that is.

But you know what offends me to the very core? A whole house full of inane bourgeois reactionary "classics." And now, your little trash/luxe-named princess can have a house full of her very own. Check it.

Did Sylvia Plath never happen? Or Betty Freidan? Or ... hell, Cindy Sherman? Anyone??

But I think it's the wall-sized television shrines that get me the most. This has to be Sartre's idea of a living room.

People used to dream about the future.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Awkward Teenage Nephew: 2008 Gift Guide

I hope you have an awkward teenage nephew, if only to remind you of how very glad you are not to be 15 any more. I have one -- a kid who already has long hair in his eyes and who only communicates in grunts and nods. The boy is on his way. This is what he needs for Christmas:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wake the F*** Up!

Mercy, that's a lot of Samuel L. for a Monday morning.

via, via

Friday, December 5, 2008

R.I.P. Odetta

My mom, a.k.a. Fat Grams, used to sing this to me and my sisters all the time when we were little. Now she sings it to her grandchildren. Yes, my mom is a small white lady. She's a little odd.

(Video 3:25)

Tip o' the hat to the sublime HOBAC.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Huzzah -- I've been invited to a cookie swap. Now I need some help figuring out which cookies to make.
There's the Nutella cookies, which are molto delicioso.

Or these lovely Trios that I brought to the swap last year. They taste fine, but they're mostly pretty.

Or these Brown Butter-Brown Sugar Shorties -- even their creator, Smitten Kitchen, acknowledges aren't the most attractive things, but they are (supposedly) delicious.

Or the Peanut-Butter-with-a-Hershey's-Kiss cookies. Everybody likes those, and they're easy. What are they called, anyway? [Please do not say, "PB Blossoms" because that is majorly gay.]

Or bourbon balls. Because they will get you drunk.

Care to weigh in?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fun With Algorithms

I just looked up the Baker's Edge Brownie Pan on Amazon (high on my Christmas wish list). According to Amazon, "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed":

Obviously, I wasted no time adding these items to my Christmas list.