Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Post 2008

I had planned on posting a small rant here about Halloween today, and then I noticed this post. Though they beat me to the punch, I must soldier on.

I don't hate Halloween per se, just the stupid parties. I don't hate costumes or disguises on their own, I just find it to be ridiculous when a large group of people congregate in said costumes at a designated time of year. While it isn't exactly a group-think contrivance, it is perilously close.

It is also dull and contrary to what those "clever" revelers think, unimaginative.

I find it much more interesting to dress up when people don't expect it like Phil Laak did in this year's WSOP.

What is worse are the costumes that are concept costumes, like this one posted on the White People site.

What a fucking tool.

You're dressed up like a clown
Putting on your act
It's the only time all year
You'll ever admit that

-Jello Biafra

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Addition

I had another action packed weekend. Saturday found me returning to Zilker Park to watch the Lads play again. This time their opponent was the St. Olaf Hensmen from San Antonio. The Hensmen turned out to be a much tougher opponent than the Mongrels and our heroes went down in defeat.

Some of us headed over to the Saxon Pub to watch the Texas/Oklahoma State game. We missed the first quarter but were able to get a table in front of one of their new HDTV's. Oddly, that was only my second time to ever set foot in the place.

One of the guys from the team (who was out of town when they played the Mongrels) was a guy from APD, named Sgt. Brill. I had never met him but recognized his name as he is the Ombudsman for the Allandale neighborhood. He and I have traded emails over the past 18 months regarding noise ordinances and other perceived nuisances. (He replaced Officer Crowder.)

He sat near me at the pub and after a few beers, I started talking to him about neighborhood issues that concerned me. He waved me off telling me he was off duty. I persisted (gently) and he ended up moving to an open seat further away from me. That was my signal to check myself. How embarrassing.

At least UT won.


It looks like I have a new kitty. This was one of those situations where I was in the wrong place at the right time and ended up taking the homeless gato in. My decision was influenced by the 6 beers I had been drinking and a very cute girl pleading the case.

His name was Mr. Buttons. Ummm, no. He now goes by Morrissey. I just need to make sure Luke knows he is a family member.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Spy

In our lifetimes, most of us have felt the chill of the warden's stare, like the time in high school when my mom walked in on me bathing a mannequin.

Yesterday, I made a return visit to Houston's bar. I just wanted a belt of whiskey and a bowl of their delicious tortilla soup. I didn't want to cause a ruckus with my presence there. (Long time readers will recall that I was banned from that establishment.)

So I donned a straw cowboy hat and some over-sized glasses. I was instantly incognito.

I strolled into the bar before the after-work crowd could assemble and found a seat in the middle. In the past, I typically sat at the end next to the television if the bar was empty. I didn't want to repeat past trends with my behavior.

There was only one bartender when I arrived and I didn't recognize him, so I knew he was new. I decided to order my usual drink and relax before placing the soup order.

A short time later, two of the regulars that I was friendly with entered the bar. I was tempted to yell out their name, but caught myself in time. I had to stay nameless.

One drink led to three and I started to loosen up and get chatty with the bartender. I learned Greg was a grad student at one of the local universities and had a wife and baby girl. We both shared our distain for Jerry Jones and a certain type of urban music. The alcohol was lifting any inhibitions I had and I was about to tell him my little secret about being banned when the owner walked up to the bar with a plate of food from the kitchen and sat down across from me.

I clammed up and just stared at my drink. I allowed the nearby conversations of the patrons to fade in and out of my cognizance. It was a good 5 minutes before I looked up and sure enough, the owner was eye-balling me. I looked away casually, beads of sweat forming where the brim of the straw hat met my brow.

A few minutes later, he took his empty plate back to the kitchen and asked Greg to join him. Greg returned immediately and asked for my ID. I had already given a fake name and realized I was about to be busted. Thinking quickly, I told him I left it at home. I was then told he couldn't serve me anymore. What!?! We were just getting to be buddies and now this?

I got the check and fished around in my wallet. I didn't have enough cash and had to put it on my check card. My name is on the check card of course. I was about to confess when the owner walked up.

This dog-eyed gentleman possessed the gate of a wagon train cook and a police lieutenant's snarl. He imediately asked me to leave. Such astonishing effrontery surprised even me.

I paid the bill and left, all the while feeling the aforementioned chill of the warden's stare as I left the premises.

And yes, I am going to try this stunt again, but with a better disguise. Like maybe this one.

Now its war!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two Scrimps

I was involved in a minor car accident 2 weeks ago. After some wrangling and paper shuffling, I finally took my car in to the body shop this past Monday for the repairs. The insurance company provided for a rental while my car was being worked on.

I received a phone call just after lunch yesterday informing me my car was ready to be picked up. But first, I had to take the rental back to the rental agency. The woman who checked me in at the rental agency was the same one who picked me up on Monday, so we had a history. It was a good history actually. She was very friendly and accommodating. She was professional too.

So, I signed all the papers and paid for the gas and taxes (my insurance company did not pay for that.) While we were in the office, she was very professional and engaging at the same time. When we got in the car to take me back to the body shop, she started hitting on me.

There is no question that was what she was doing. She immediately asked if I was married. Then she asked if I dated outside my race. (She is a fine black woman.) I had to inform her I don't even date within my race. We laughed and laughed. She told me about her being jilted at the alter. She got me to tell her about a rather regretful relationship in my past, as well. We bonded quite a bit. (She immediately pegged me as a non-commital type and told me that Oprah dedicated an entire show to people like me-never married males.)

We were in the car for less than six minutes and I learned a very personal saga from her life, she from mine and she practically asked me out.

All good things have to come to an end, and she let me out of the car at the body shop and we traded our plaintive goodbyes.

That was the highlight of my day (in addition to the arrival of the new sparkling blue recycle carts from the city.)

Today's found photo seems like it is from a NAMBLA brochure.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bar Report

Some of the drinkers in our company scheduled a happy hour yesterday right after work. The organizer of the event consulted me on where it should be held. People in my office defer to me in such matters, so it was with some surprise that she ignored my suggestions and decided to hold the informal event at Sam's Boat.

I haven't been to Sam's boat in well over six years. The place has changed somewhat, but I still don't like it much. It has too much of an "ice house" feel to it. Plus, the drinks are way too expensive. I ordered a double Makers and it came in a small plastic cup and it appeared to be a single pour. Our waitress assured me otherwise.

The woman who organized the outing couldn't have been more apologetic. I wasn't alone with my discontent so after an hour and a half at Sam's Boat, we all headed north to The Hideout.

This was my first time to The Hideout (inside, anyway). Much better. Much, much better. Shannon B.'s review of the place on Yelp sums it up for me:

Dark room, cold AC, clean place. CHEAP, *strong* cocktails. Great bartender (Andrew) who makes my signature drink as soon as I sit down. Excellent movie selections being shown behind the bar (a la Casino El Camino). Great old school video game selection (Galaga, Golden Tee, Silver Strike, etc.). Eclectic jukebox. Big patio. Average pub grub menu; nothing special in the food, but it's nice to have the option to eat after you realize you are tanked by the powerful highballs you've been downing. Did I mention the strong drinks?

So there you have it. The only drawback is the location. It is pretty far North, but that does work in its benefit in keeping the college crowd to a minimum.

I have no data for today's found photo post. I like it though.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pee Pants

This past weekend was outstanding! Somebody up there likes me. It was memorable in many ways. I attended a very, very fun party on Saturday in Tarrytown. The Texas-OU game was the basis for the get-together.

Our hosts had the grill fired up all day and an unlimited bar. Did I mention they had a pool? No? Well they did. It wasn't a big party (fewer than 20 guests), but it was a rollicking one. Of course the fact that UT beat OU in such a big, great game made it even better.

I arrived home from the party around 6:00-ish and decide to take Luke and Taz for a walk and go get some ice at a nearby convenience store. I don't go to Sun Liquor for ice as it is old and crushed. I like fresh, cubed ice that they sell at The Breadbasket.

Anyway, I have the leash on the two dogs and am walking out the back gate of the back yard when I see Troy (hobo neighbor) waving at me and yelling out for me to come over. I cross the street and catch him as he is zipping up his pants. He explained he had to pee outside since he has a lady friend over (my mind reels about that one.) He was 6 feet from the very busy street that bisects our houses. It was broad daylight and anyone could see what he was up to.

So, he want's me to help him fix his computer. He has such a short term memory. He still "owes" me two six packs and a gas cap (which he broke) for previous lawnmower usage.

I am going to help him because in some ways, it is the right thing to do, but I can't let him think he can take advantage of me. I am sure I will have further stories to relate regarding this latest interaction.

Today's old photo post has no date or locale, but it appears that the subjects were standing very near an outhouse when the photo was snapped.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cloak and Dagger

I picked Uffe up at the Airport last night on his return from New York on a business trip. We decided prior to his arrival that we would go out for cocktails before I would deposit him at his front door.

I decided we would drink at The Cloak Room. (To learn more, click here and here.) Even though I have lived in Austin for over 27 years, I had only recently (2 years ago) been introduced to the place by Bill Curra.

His flight was early, but I was following the status on line and arrived in time (10:40 PM). I even had a tallboy waiting for him in the car. (Tallboy is a beer, by the way.)

The flight was pleasant enough, even though he sat next to an extremely obese (and cranky) 22 year old girl. I did not press for details.

The evening air was perfect so we travelled to The Cloak Room with the windows down. We found a parking spot right by the front door. The pungent aroma of the Laurel Oak trees that dot the Capitol grounds permeated the air. It was a fine night and we had some whiskey drinking to do.

The Cloak Room is a pretty small bar, but is is perfectly dark and you access it by descending an exterior flight of steps. It is dark, as I mentioned and I tripped on the step that leads into the establishment. I was hoping that would not cause me to be cut off before I had my first drink.

I have been lucky in that every time I have been to The Cloak Room, it has not been crowded. I have always been able to acquire a nice table and this time was no exception. Its funny, but I never think to go to this place unless I am bringing friends home from the airport or I am looking for a nice place to go after a hearty meal at Austin Land and Cattle. Those are the only occassions that bring me there.

I do believe that The Cloak Room is my favorite bar in the state of Texas.

Here's another scanned pic. All it says on the back is "Anderson High prom." No date is given. I wonder if kids today perform the broom limbo?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Day That Was

Here's another found picture from the box I bought.  The back of the photo says "Kiper Room - Dallas Texas, March 5, 1968"  I googled "Kiper Room" and nothing came up.  I rather imagine if I had been born 40 years earlier, the Kiper Room would be a favorite haunt of mine.

Today, I had to go to the HEB in my neighborhood (the one at 2222 and Burnet Rd.)  Man, I hate going in there.  It's poorly managed (longer lines than elsewhere) and crowded most of the time.  I dropped in to pick up Luke's medicine, which is discounted from $95 to $5.  That discount is the only way to get me to go there anymore.  Otherwise, I shop at Randalls.

I arrived around 10:15 and the place was littered with elderly folks (mid 70's and above.)  They were either shopping or just hanging around.  Some were inside at tables by the deli.  Others lounged about outside on the wooden picnic tables.  They were in no hurry to go anyplace.  It reminded me of a high school cafeteria at lunch time (except for less hotties.)

Yet you go in there during the late afternoon or evening and it looks like a barrio.  The place completely reinvents itself.

Either way, I strive to avoid the place.  

Monday, October 6, 2008

He's Got the Moves

In my last entry, I mentioned that I was about to watch The Visitor and indeed, I did. I also mentioned I was going to have a glass of red wine while watching. Well our protagonist in the film could be seen in every other scene drinking red wine. I bonded immediately.

It was actually a very good movie. It was obvious that it was a "message" movie, intent on changing the way certain people felt (bigots) about CERTAIN other people (Muslims}, but that didn't bother me in the least because it was such a well made film, it didn't feel like the film makers were at the pulpit barking their message.

On the other hand, I started to watch Wall-E this evening (thank you torrent.) I found myself looking at the clock several times to see how long I had been watching. It was typical Disney: horrid. It had a lot of style, just no substance. I assure you the screen writer would have thought otherwise. [REDACTED]

So I turned that movie off half way through and turned my attention to some old Saturday Night Live shows I snagged from the torrent site(s). The shows I grabbed were all from the 70's. I had watched everyone of them when they first aired, but the comedy doesn't stand the test of time. Bill Murray, might be the exception there.

However, the musical guests they had on the shows do stand the test of time. I skimmed through three shows and caught Loudain Wainwright, ABBA, Talking Heads, Brick (from Atlanta-Dazz Dazz, Disco Jazz) and Tom Waits. That was just fantastic.

There were fewer commercials in the 70's than there are today on that show. What do I care?

Here's another pic I scanned from the box of photos and such from the estate sale. That could have been me back in the day as I loved the older ladies. (Click image to enlarge.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Purchase Pics and a Free Krups

I attended another estate sale this afternoon and bought a box of old photographs and Christmas cards. I am unsure what year this one was taken, but I don't think this was the famous Joe and Marilyn from the 50's. (Click image to enlarge.)

I joined Austin Freecyle a few months ago intent on giving away some things to help reduce clutter around the house. So today, I entered phase two of my big Fall cleaning and rounded up a bunch of clothes for Goodwill and tossing a bunch of junk I have accumulated due to nostalgic attachment.

Most of the stuff was junk, but there was also a Krups mini-cappaccino machine I didn't want so I posted it on Austin Freecycle and got 15 emails within an hour trying to claim it. I finally decided on one person and she is heading over right now to pick it up. Now I have to return 14 emails (PAIN) telling them they weren't selected to win the free prize.

I did post a second notice on the site stating that it was taken but that won't stop some of those lurkers from emailing me anyway. I have to say, this is a bit nerve racking because now I have to wait for this woman to make her way over and who knows what kind of a person she'll turn out to be.

I should be glad someone is getting a free coffee maker and not so down on humanity, huh?

5 minutes later...
As I was typing that last sentence, the woman (Cheryl) showed up to get her coffee maker. She did two strange things. She handed me some literature on her business selling air pollution devices you put on your home air conditioner. Then she told me about having to put her husband on a 2 year restraining order as they go through a divorce (he battered her.)

Kind of weird, but I guess I am glad I met her. I get another chance to do so as she has a booth at InnoTech Conference on October 16th. Maybe I will see you there.

Now I am going to pour myself a glass of wine (red, natch) and watch The Visitor

Friday, October 3, 2008

100 Skills

Popular Mechanics has published a list of 100 skills that every man should know. I did not fare well in comparison. I am dexterous in only 6 of the skills (#40, #76-80.)

How well did you compare?

1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow
3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt
5. Wax a car
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer
9. Jump start a car

Handling Emergencies
10. Perform the Heimlich
11. Reverse hypothermia
12. Perform hands-only CPR
13. Escape a sinking car

14. Carve a turkey
15. Use a sewing machine
16. Put out a fire
17. Home brew beer
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
19. Move heavy stuff
20. Grow food
21. Read an electric meter
22. Shovel the right way
23. Solder wire
24. Tape drywall
25. Split firewood
26. Replace a faucet washer
27. Mix concrete
28. Paint a straight line
29. Use a French knife
30. Prune bushes and small trees
31. Iron a shirt
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
33. Change a single-pole switch
34. Fell a tree
35. Replace a broken windowpane
36. Set up a ladder, safely
37. Fix a faucet cartridge
38. Sweat copper tubing
39. Change a diaper
40. Grill with charcoal
41. Sew a button on a shirt
42. Fold a flag

Medical Myths
43. Treat frostbite
44. Treat a burn
45. Help a seizure victim
46. Treat a snakebite
47. Remove a tick

Military Know-How
48. Shine shoes
49. Make a drum-tight bed
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup

51. Run rapids in a canoe
52. Hang food in the wild
53. Skipper a boat
54. Shoot straight
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
56. Escape a rip current

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness
58. Build a shelter
59. Find potable water

Surviving Extremes
60. Floods
61. Tornados
62. Cold
63. Heat
64. Lightning

Teach Your Kids
65. Cast a line
66. Lend a hand
67. Change a tire
68. Throw a spiral
69. Fly a stunt kite
70. Drive a stick shift
71. Parallel park
72. Tie a bowline
73. Tie a necktie
74. Whittle
75. Ride a bike

76. Install a graphics card
77. Take the perfect portrait
78. Calibrate HDTV settings
79. Shoot a home movie
80. Ditch your hard drive

Master Key Workshop Tools
81. Drill driver
82. Grease gun
83. Coolant hydrometer
84. Socket wrench
85. Test light
86. Brick trowel
87. Framing hammer
88. Wood chisel
89. Spade bit
90. Circular saw
91. Sledge hammer
92. Hacksaw
93. Torque wrench
94. Air wrench
95. Infrared thermometer
96. Sand blaster
97. Crosscut saw
98. Hand plane
99. Multimeter
100. Feeler gauges

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vet Visit

I went dark for 30 hours and am just now resurfacing. Details will follow in a future entry.

I took Luke to the vet this morning. The doc wanted to do some bloodwork to make sure his kidneys were functioning properly before she renewed his prescription for arthritis medicine. Cost me $50! They informed me this needs to be done every 6 months. That sounds like a scam to me.

Luke hates going to the vet. To make it worse they had asked me to remain in the waiting room while they dragged him back to stick a needle in his arm. He was clawing the floor trying to get back to me. Neither of us enjoyed that experience. Luckily it did not take very long at all. We had a nice long walk afterwards and I think he has shaken off the experience.