Log in

24 July 2010 @ 12:52 pm

It cannot be said that I grew up with what some would consider a normalized family life, as it pertains to extended relatives (though when do “normalized” and “family” ever go together?). This doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of good memories involving aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.

One of my favorites is from when I was about four or five, and stayed with my great-grandmother (on my mom’s side). There was a kid that lived near her house, around the same age as my brother and I. Grandmother was a skilled seamstress and made face masks for the three of us, like what the Ninja Turtles wore. So we would put these on and go out in her front yard to role-play mutant amphibians speaking surf jargon, using tree sticks for sais and kitanas, etc.

At one point in our game, my brother and the other kid decided to “kill me off,” excluding me from the remainder of our scenario. I remember going inside while they continued, but not whether I was upset about it. What I do remember is then visiting with my grandmother. She took out a deck of King Tut cards and we played "go fish" for a long time.
I loved these cards. I used to have a lot of random obsessions when I was a child. Not just with stuff like Ninja Turtles, but iconic things … for example, the Statue of Liberty. Like I wouldn’t be able to die happy till I’d made it to NYC and walked around inside her big head .. which I still haven’t done. Another obsession was Tutankhamun and Egyptology. I loved all things Tut. I almost wore out an old Dr. Demento audio cassette listening to the classic Steve Martin song. And when Grandmother took out those cards, I wanted to take them home with me. I didn’t get to, probably a good thing at the time. I only played with them that one day with her but never forgot them, nor the fun I had being with her.

When she died a few years later, the family was at her house, going through everything. I asked everyone about the cards and if I could have them. Mom tried to help me find them, while everyone else kept telling me I was either mistaken about Grandmother owning them or that she may have given them away. My guess is they ended up in another relative's beach house that got knocked down by a floating barge a few months later, when Conroe flooded. Just a guess.

I don’t often play card games. I play cards less than I do video games, so anyone who knows me knows how rare that would be. But while my brother and I were up at our Aunt Andrea’s farm last week, he asked for playing cards and she showed us a lot of different decks she’s had for years. One was a circular shape, and she called this her “hippie deck.” We played Texas Hold ‘Em for hours.

All of this got me to thinking about my grandmother and those Tut cards. I never had an eBay account until a few nights ago, when I went in search of them. I didn’t expect to find one bid, let alone five, and for as cheap as $10 -- that including the case both decks originally came in. I don’t remember if Grandmother had the case or not. These cards were sold in the gift shops that toured with the Tutankhamun exhibit in the US, back in the 1970s. The set that I purchased, the cards were still in their plastic wrap! Older than me by some ten years, and never handled.
Not anymore. I’ve taken them out and intend to use them. To hell with you “Collectable!” types. Life is short, and I’m reliving nice memories.

Remind me again, how do you play gin rummy?

Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: reminiscing
Current Music: Franz Ferdinand - "Lucid Dreams"
06 June 2010 @ 11:00 pm
I should be asleep right now, but the odd mood I find myself in compelled me to get on here (so infrequently do I log into LJ anymore) and capture the moment.
I think it's worth capturing because tonight is the eve of my first day back in film school. Once again I will be under the tutelage of Rick Harrington. It is five years ago to the day that I walked into his classroom as a new college student. The class was production management. Most of us started out in the wrong building that Monday; we didn't know they had changed where class was to be held. The first person I met was Mr. Coker, Harrington's ancient colleague, a professional film editor. He asked me about my Magnetic Fields t-shirt. What did the lower-case "I" on the front stand for? Then he asked me how many feet of film travels through a camera in a minute if run at 24 frames a second? I stuttered. He told me to calm down. People still tell me that. "Calm down. It's ninety feet a minute."
Maybe I should wear that same shirt tomorrow. I've never been much for minor ceremonious gestures, but maybe this occassion merits the effort? As for Coker, he has been dead at least four years now.

I feel nervous and optimistic at the same time. I'm actually looking forward to getting up at 6:30 in the morning, the first time I can remember looking forward to being awake at that hour; because I'm not going to a Pier 1 to unload a truck, or to have my morning coffee interrupted by some harrassed, tight-wad suburbanite at a Fedex Office. I'm going back to what really matters to me. Tomorrow is where everything resets. My second chance, in full motion. I guess I could say it started with last year's decision of going back to school. Or when I had my first day of math class last January. Or when I met with Harrington last month and settled on summer courses.


This is the moment. Sitting here in my room, just before bed, knowing what I didn't know before that first day, June 6th, 2005. The things I didn't know before seeing her in Harrington's classroom for the first time. All the people I hadn't met yet. I didn't know who Heidi was. There was no Jovan, or Richard. I didn't know Greg, Rhett, Deacon, Jason, David, Cynthia, Delonta, Hamid, Bryan, Josh, Chase, Farzana, Kevin, Misty, Robert, Kiko, Karen, Vincent, Emilia, Kyle, Brent Champaigne, Dave Wells, Rick Boyd, Billy Mac, Craig Crowe ... that old woman in TV field production whose guts I hated ... the kid who gave me one of his several spare copies of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ... I didn't know any of them. And now here I am, wondering about all the hundreds of other people I am about to meet for the first time.

I am thinking of all that has yet to transpire. I'm enjoying the slightest of thrills over the fact that, even though I don't know what's going to happen, at least I know that life will happen to me again; and that I will make things happen, as well. I suffered some pitfalls last time, and while I don't regret, I know I'll have to be more careful. Should these problems pass my way again, I figure on either a leaping or sidestep motion.
What matters is: this is my second chance, and as far as I'm concerned, my last. I am almost twenty-five years old. There is no more standing still. I won't have a night like this again. No "third time's a charm."

Whatever's been going on with me in recent times -- work and everything else -- is now secondary. By walking back into those classrooms tomorrow I am truly and finally coming to terms with everything I've experienced and lived through since 2005. This definitively closes the book on that very long chapter. I'm grateful to be back in touch with many of my old friends at this point, and to have made several new ones. They, along with my family, have helped me to not feel so alone as I recommence at HCC.

I'm taking up this old road anew, and to quote one Marshall Mathers, "Success is my only motherfucking option. Failure's not."

And that is my month's contribution to this dusty corner of the Interwebs.
Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: reflective
Current Music: Vivaldi - Concerto in E, RV 271
31 October 2009 @ 06:40 pm
The Plumpkinhead greets you!It was so beautiful outside today. It's nice being able to trim the ivy on the side of the house without sweating gallons. Autumn is usually my favorite time of year, so it sucks that everything has been so tense and exasperating lately.

No Halloween plans tonight. Just vacuuming the stairs, reading take-home materials from the new job, and ignoring trick-or-treaters. I've two days of goofing off left before recommencing life as a wage slave.

Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: crappycrappy
11 October 2009 @ 01:07 am

Paragraphs 18 and 19 mention John Astin as master of ceremonies, and his one-man show is also referenced. I saw this performance many years ago, on The Strand in Galveston, and it's what sparked my interest in Poe's work.
Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: tiredtired
They send me candy!

Current Mood: happyhappy
08 July 2009 @ 09:25 pm

Say hello to my Nokia 7510. My 'rents called from the T-Mobile store this morning, said I should come pick out a new phone since my mom was replacing hers. Couldn't resist since I've been using a crappy, generic flipper for about a year, after my Samsung met with an untimely... accident.

Now maybe this entry will serve as a reminder that I've renewed my contract for two years.

Useless bit of info #1: This is my fourth cellphone.

Useless bit of info #2: I like it very much.

Useless bit of info #3: I bought my first phone five years ago, at the now-defunct Circuit City.

Useless bit of info #4: T-Mobile is the only service carrier I've used in all that time.

Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Bjork - Volta
25 June 2009 @ 08:07 pm
You're dead. Everyone loves you again.

Smooth Criminal ( Moonwalker ) HD - Michael Jackson - The most popular videos are here

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson, all in the same week. And just a few weeks ago, David Carradine.

Already seen enough of the news coverage. Wolf Blitzer's at CNN went something like this: "We don't know for sure that he's died, but L.A. Times has reported that he's died. We should be receiving word whether or not he has really died. We know he went into cardiac arrest and the word is that he died. Now I want to play Billie Jean for you..."
We only get twenty-odd seconds of the classic music video. 1982, the same year my parents married. Jackson in his prime. Young, talented, untarnished by the -- Blitzer again: "An update for our viewers just tuning in, L.A. Times reports that Michael Jackson has died. We don't know this for sure but he was taken from his home and the latest is that he has died..."

You know, when Gene Kelly passed away in 1996, ABC News did something very classy. There were no extended retrospectives, no maudlin reminiscences, none of that. They simply, briefly, announced his passing, then played footage of his dance number from Singin' in the Rain; all four minutes, without interruption. A few moments of the man and his art, an unadulterated display of something he contributed and that everyone would collectively remember him for. To my mind, that's the most appropriate form of eulogy for a celebrity.

Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Music: Michael Jackson
20 June 2009 @ 01:07 pm
It sure would be nice to have a real camera again instead of using this crummy clicker on my cell phone. Last night my dad and I were en route home from a business trip in Arkansas, more than 1,100 miles driven, when we stopped at the recently unveiled Buc-ee’s mega store in Madisonville. We belatedly thought it would never open: it seemed they’d been working on it for years. Now I know why: “mega” isn’t a grandiose enough term to describe what this is. To explain that Buc-ee’s is a chain of Texas-based gas station conveniences would be demeaning to this Madisonville wonder.

For the record, I'm not a fan of beaver nuggetsLest anyone familiar with my jocose Buc-ee’s fixation should think this another routine jest, I tell you I’m half-serious here. I was astonished. I’ve often been inside the spacious Gonzales store, which was impressive enough, but Madisonville is the same set-up made more bodacious.

To begin with, the main entrance is graced by a life-size Buc-ee the Beaver, for all your photo op needs. For some reason I thought a life-size Buc-ee would be, well, smaller. Never mind. There are also animatronic Indians and cowboys, eerie reminders of mobile mannequins that adorned the shooting gallery at my beloved AstroWorld. The Indian sits atop the counter, greets you with a jerky wave of his robotic arm – “Wel-come to Buc-ee’s!” – and it's so deliciously politically incorrect, it made me curse the lack of video function on my antiquated cellular.
And how about the big piles of fresh-wrapped sandwiches and salads? And diligent employees in their red Buc-ee’s shirts, pushing a large cart, filling it with items that have exceeded their limited shelf life.

And much more: an elderly employee with one of those sweeper machines ("Buc-ee's" scrawled awkwardly on its side in felt tip sharpie) and a younger man following close behind him with a mop, both constantly tending to the heavily traversed floors; shelves crammed full of everything Buc-ee, Texan, Girly, Generically Gimmicky, and Bible Belt Religious, yet lacking any drink mugs that were quite to my liking; a do-it-yourself Buc-ee’s tag maker (encouraging the creativity of customers!); touch-screen computers for placing your own food orders, on which Dad punched in a beef barbecue sandwich, and I, a chili dog; print-out order tickets that are read over the P.A., even in the restrooms; and – OH YES – the restrooms! No enumeration could fail to include THE RESTROOMS. Fifteen-foot-high ceilings, private stalls with four walls, and all soap dispensers bearing the ubiquitous beaver logo. It is a water-closet palace that would have made a Vanderbilt flush with amazement! But then, restrooms are the most regularly touted facet of the Buc-ee’s experience, as indicated on commonplace billboards you'll encounter on our main Texas arteries, with declarations such as, “Cleanest restrooms or your money back,” "Your throne awaits you," and the favorite, "Restrooms so clean we leave mints in the urinals."

Finally, there are the bags of candy (mmm, chocolate-covered pecans!), always functional soda fountains, deli and bakery counters, limitless selection of jerky product, and an add-on facility named Buc-ee’s Outdoors, which I did not look into but seems an outdoor center to give Wal-Mart a good boot in the ass. Finally, I guess I should mention the gas pumps. There are roughly 20 or more at the larger locations, so having to wait for fuel is an unlikelihood. I still have yet to give the car wash a spin.

The first Buc-ee's I encountered was a little store in Giddings, in 2003. The beaver character was weirdly amusing, as well as the slogan, “Our customers are the greatest!” Since then, the chain has adopted countless catch phrases: "Some say, best jerky ever," "Have you hugged a beaver today?" and so on.
It’s amusing. It has an in-joke quality that people latch onto, even though there isn't much of a punchline. The logo itself is good for grins. With its circular yellow shape, it may remind you of a certain superhero symbol. Yes, a HEROIC trademark for a convenience chain. You don’t get it? Sure you do, even if you don’t laugh.

At the time, I thought this an isolated phenomenon; it would remain an esoteric amusement. Years later, I see women in the Woodlands wearing pants stamped all over with Buc-ee, and everywhere the black shirts, extolling Peace, Love, and Buc-ee’s. And I’ve noticed many vehicles bearing the same “Buc-ee’s Rules!” bumper sticker as my own.

This is an object of perverse adulation and was advertised from the get-go with that in mind. It's something funny that you’re meant to take for granted, like Chuck Norris. In fact, the Madisonville store contains such unmitigated awesomeness, maybe the building itself is made out of Chuck Norris. At least this burgeoning business isn't as vapid as, say, Hello Kitty. With Buc-ee's I can at least get good sustenance for my stomach and gas for my car.

Back when I wrote up a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor about my first visit to one of these stores, I had no idea the lucrative little rodent would eventually treat us to such luxurious restrooms, computer terminals, and robotic Indian greeters. Surely no one at corporate got my memo? Nah!


Buc-ees Owner, Beaver Aplin Talks About His Stores. 10/16/08 - More bloopers are a click away

Old Man in Outhouse @ Buc Ees in Martinsville,TX 009 - Watch more funny videos here

Buc-ee's Pilgrimage - Watch more funny videos here
Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: The Sounds
06 June 2009 @ 10:46 pm
This is the final layout, I guess until I change it in another year or two. So what's up with Firefox? It doesn't support the Mv Boli font? I hope you're reading this on Explorer then.

Still putting my website together. The amount of time I waste in Photoshop these days is mind-boggling. Five hours go by in ten minutes. Not really a waste when you're learning a lot, I guess. What's happening in the real world?

Four years ago today was my first day of college... Sigh...
Current Location: Purple Sanctum
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: The Velvet Underground