Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Favorite flicks in May

I saw shockingly few movies in May.

United 93
once more - The New World

disappointed in

DaVinci Code

made it through 20 minutes of

The Chronicles of Narnia

Friday, May 26, 2006

Disappearing electricians

Up til this week the electricians did everything they said they were going to do. This week they were supposed to finish wiring the guest house by Weds. They showed up on Thurs but I was not paying attention b/c they were in the back. I came home after happy hour to find full, to-go coffee cups sitting on the back porch, no work done, and no sign of them.

Never one to abandon a full cup of Mama Java's joe myself, I have to suspect either an emergency or foul play. They usually call even if they are going to be late. I have heard nothing since talking to them Tuesday night. Hmmmm.

This creates a chain of events that could prove calamitous, or rather, slightly inconvenient. ;-) Postponing their work means postponing the plumber. The handyman is only available for two weeks following the plumber, which should be enough time to finish, but then he goes back to his regular job. I could be doing the drywall and tile myself on vacation in July instead of heading south o' the border. Handymen are harder to find than landscapers. Electricians have to be inherited from friends. What is going on? It's not THAT hot out.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A year ago tonight

A few years ago I stopped telling myself that this or that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as justification for a trip to see a show or spend the weekend in some weird locale. I just realized that I had upped the ante for what a good time was. Not from being spoiled, or making more money, or even from being jaded. Just from finally realizing that life really IS short, it's not a platitude or a concept, it's a reality. So when I got laid off 3 weeks before a trip to Europe in 2003, I went ahead and went. I stayed on the island in the Seine where the rooms were 250 euro a night, I went ahead and splurged on dinner at a nice boulangerie and bought expensive t-shirts at the National Museum in London. And it worked out - worked out to be some of my best memories ever. Going to the Louvre during the day, pogoing with Parisians at night while Bruce played in the pouring rain, and being right at the stage in Dublin - it really doesn't get much better in my little world.

So last year when my friend Karen called to ask if I wanted to go see U2 in Dublin, I said sure. That was it. Very simple. And then later I talked my friend Joann into going - using the "once-in-a-lifetime" ploy still works on other people. Well, one year ago tonight we were standing right at the stage, ahead of 80,000 other people, just from the simple luck of first getting tickets, and then having someone mishandle a queue, letting latecomers in first. People had waited in line for 3 days to be in front. We waited 3 hours.

At the time Karen called, I wasn't even that thrilled with U2. The last tour was eh, the new cd so - so. But I had always wanted to see them in Dublin, from the mid-80s when I was obsessed with them. So it was a no brainer. Then we went to the show in Phoenix, and I fell in love with them all over again. The songs - so much better live!

So rather than bring it all back up again, which brings sadness, I just think of certain moments that will always stick with me. Because of course, it WAS a once-in-a-lifetime, singular experience, being right at the stage, facing down 95 feet of blazing lights and monstrous speakers pounding out song after song. Being surrounded by people who poured out energy, having that energy pour back out from the stage. Jumping up and down in pouring rain in sync with thousands of other people, uninhabited, wonderful Dubliners, who care nothing about how they appear or what people think of them. Seeing a series of artistic images and statements that are so intuitive and chillingly true that you can't even blink, afraid you'll miss something. Having music be played so loudly and in such a right way that you don't so much hear it as feel it enter your body and rearrange your very cells.

So here's to my NEXT once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend in DC, seeing Bruce and Pearl Jam with my great friend Anna and the DC posse. Retirement be damned. Life is now.

x marks the spot

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Middle season

In Phoenix we have 4 seasons. Spring, uncontained trash, summer, and eggnog latte. Right now it's the middle season - uncontained trash. Uncontained trash here is like Indian summer back east. Everything is same old same old, but then for a few days the atmostphere changes before you head into the worst part of the year. The air smells like spring, it's crisp, and expectations are high. You feel unreasonably optimistic. Uncontained trash is just like that. You wander into the park or down an unmarked alley, knowing that things could change at any time, so you just stay in the moment.

It was supposed to be in the high 90s and it's 79 degrees. Big, fluffy clouds are floating through the sky. The lower park is filled from Sunday's irrigation, and all sorts of birds are wading and worming through the water. Even ducks. It is dog and duck heaven. And Bella, fully recovered after only 3 days, charged in after the smaller birds (she is terrified of ducks).

And I just scored my best uncontrained trash ever. Walked half a block down, watching the birds and the water, and suddenly - 3 wheelbarrows full of different kinds of marble tile. Black, green, travertine, tumbled, terracotta, everything!!! I made 2 trips in the car before I was too exhausted to carry any more. Translated into reality this much marble is worth about 6 backsplashes, or 2 murals.

And tomorrow the electricians are coming to start the guesthouse. AND the plumber is coming for an estimate. I'm in that sweet limbo between potential and broke ass.

Ah, sweet middle season.

Monday, May 22, 2006

DaVinci Bored

I had heard the DaVinci Code was getting negative reviews, but ignored that fact when I signed up to wait in line an hour early to see the movie in the valley's best theater. I rarely agree with critics, especially those usually cited, like Roger Ebert or the mustachioed man from the Today Show. They have an old white guy perspective that I never share, and many times, let's face it, films go over their heads.

But this time they're right. (Well, I didn't read them, but read reviews at the Rotten Tomatoes site.) One of the people I went with was worried he wouldn't "get it" b/c he hadn't read the book. I reasurred him that Ron Howard would never make a film that would go over his head. This film would not go over a 3-year-old's head. Everything is explained three times, and there are visual aids like you're back in high school. Those sequences are like a lame history channel documentary, with some misplaced Coen Bros-type, washed out cinematography. Think Oh Brother Where Art Thou crossed with oh, I don't know, something supremely boring.

I read the book right after I got home from Paris in 2003 - I had been to the Louvre and it was a nice way to end the trip. It was a page turner but obviously not without flaws and some supremely silly set-ups. It was amusing to see Christians falling out all over in regards to a fictional story, especially considering all the trouble the catholic church gets itself into without outside help. Why worry about the origins of Catholic creed, pagan or otherwise, or its effect on women of history when the church doesn't even seem to care about living, breathing kids? Many traditions that became Christian originated from pagan rituals, including Christmas, originally the winter solstice. The point is, they did evolve that way, and the Christians have pretty much won over the pagans. Why try to rewrite history? Anyway.

There were protesters outside the theater, holding up signs that say "We love Jesus Christ." Now, I'm pretty sure the movie was not saying that Jesus Christ was not loveable; in fact, I think the point was that he was loveable too much, or with the wrong person. But turning Tom Hanks' character into a skeptic to mollify the church made the film seem cheesy when it should have felt edgy. Too much cheese in anything makes it bloated and bland.

Sigh. I'm thinking about protesting too. Holding up a sign that says "BEWARE, VERY BORING, BRING CAFFEINE!!"

Saturday, May 20, 2006

OK, more mural

Yesterday when I got home from work, Bella was walking really funny, like she was going to moonwalk but couldn't quite pull it off. I gave her some doggie aspirin and she seemed to do better. But then this morning she couldn't walk at all and I had to carry her to her bowl and to go outside. We went to the vet, who did not know for sure what was wrong with her but said it could be a muscle spasm, b/c she had a tender spot on her back.

So with some advice to give her OTC treatment for arthritis, if she's not better by Weds she'll get some x-rays and see what else is going on. She got some pain pills and is content to supervise whatever I'm doing. However, I'm not allowed to go out, b/c when I started getting ready to go out, she started crying. She is not above manipulating me this way. I am not above falling for it. So we made some progress on the mural.
The Supervisor

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

That's it for now

Each of these progress pics represents about 2 hours' work. I'm starting to bore myself with it. I will post more pics when significant progress has been made.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mural progress

Here's a picture of the mural in progress:

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Good new, bad news

Well, it's official. On the DVD for the Seeger Sessions Bruce closes with "It's a Hootenanny!" I thought I would fall off the couch. Yesterday was a Bruce-themed day beginning with trying to get the pit for DC on the cell phone while sailing down the HOV lane, and ending with watching the video with Fran. If you are a fan at all you have to watch the DVD because Loose Bruce is everywhere, including a long period of time he spends quite drunk, and drunk dancing. His 50s have done wonders for removing the corn cob from his butt ("I'm gonna do ... Joad again! I'm gonna do ... FOLK, yeah... in some fashion ... SEEGER, yeah, that's it! I'm gonna have some .... WINE, yeah yeah yeah ..."), although they have not improved his dancing. And there's nothing like watching a video like this with someone just as obsessed with details, here's Fran.. "Oh, that's his house... is that wall not painted? Is that his real cat? Who picked out that clock. Awww, they're outside! They WALK on that land. That's THEIR land. That's in Colts Neck. Patti is lighting candles! Look, they're putting on coats, long walk back to the main house..." Sorry Fran, but it is just too adorable.

So the good news is - Anna got the pit for DC so we are in. I got lame section 202 seats after being on hold for 20 minutes (which have already been cheerfully unloaded to Anna's boss...). So front row here we come... And I'm thinkin we should bring shot glasses for Himself.

But then, bad news came in the mail - got the bid from the electricians. I had thought the prior bid was for separating the panel and then rewiring the guesthouse. I thought that when I came home from work a week ago Weds that the 7-month wait for electric work would be over. Next step, plumber, then tile, then Jerome. Wrong!

Even though it was understand they would be doing both these jobs, here were separate bids and bills. I thought I read the bid, I swear I read the bid. I think I saw it through tears of relief that ended up just postponing the inevitable, that it really WAS going to be expensive, and that I needed a transition phase to get to that understanding. Because it is double. DOUBLE!

So it's up to over $5K for just the electric, which was the budget for the entire project. And what about getting other bids, you may ask. After spending 6 weeks at a time waiting for people to even call me back, just trying to get 3 bids... I would probably just GIVE someone the guesthouse if they said they would finish it... The electricians were wonderful, the new panel is bright and shiny, we're all gonna be in the newspaper. I'm not complaining, just sad because... no Jerome this year. Will take til the fall to get the plumbing and tile done now and it is getting hot hot hot.

It's a hootenanny.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pay ME Your Money Down

Pay me your money down indeed.

So I'm tasked with getting Springsteen tickets for the show I'm seeing in DC with Anna and the crew, b/c there is a 2-ticket limit for the pit - more hands are needed because the whole DC posse is going. It's not like a regular tour that will sell out in 10 minutes, but there is always that possibility, and it's the first onsale, so there is no history to judge by. One time when I was living in Florida I had 10 people on the phones at work (you know, government offices) and still only 1 person got through. That was the day we shut down the phone system at the Pentagon. Ah... good times. (Yes, Anna, the infamous show that you missed, let it go.... :-))

Anyway. So I cruise over to and see that there is a PRESALE for the Phoenix show, for Coyotes Club members, TODAY. So I think, after being really taken aback to see any kind of presale for Bruce, what is this club and do I know any members. And can I contact them before 10 and offer outrageous favors and perhaps even beg. Because I now want to be in the front row for the hootenanny, if indeed there are rows, and not just bales of hay separating the have-good-seats from the have-nots. Perhaps the club is a hockey thing that you get with season tickets. Maybe it's a skating club or education promotion thing.

But no. The Coyotes Club is for special seating and treatment at the venue. This club is so expensive that you have to contact an account manager and set up a payment plan, and then sign a promise to donate all your worldly goods upon your 70th birthday. And STILL the good seats are over $200. AND THEY'RE IN THE BACK.

This is the kind of club that if I knew someone that was a member, I would not even be talking to them any more. This is the kind of club that Bruce made fun of the people sitting there DURING the show, at the opening of the Staples Center in L.A. "Mr Staples, can I get better seats?" Yet ticketbastard says the club presale is at the discretion of the artist. Sigh.

So Mr Populist is taking the hootenanny tour to the rich. I read somewhere that this tour was perfect for the kind of folk that listen to NPR and donate to PBS and I thought, hmmm, curious. Those people generally do not like Bruce. The only way I would donate to PBS would be to make them stop Wayne Dyer's daughter from singing. But now I'm seeing the connection.

So I'm thinkin there won't be a lot of tickets sold during the presale. If I didn't know about it, chances are these rich bastards who will only go to people watch and will leave after 3 songs won't know either. And they'll be in the back anyway.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Music Tuesday

Happy Anniversary to Claudia and Scott!

The Raconteurs are a new band with Jack White of the White Stripes trading off vocals with Brendan Benson of the Greenhornes, and a couple other band escapees that I hadn't heard of. They just released their first single "Steady as She Goes" - it's the free download at iTunes this week. The website looks like an old DOS menu, which is really annoying if you started on computers back then, and the font, an X-Files green. It's retro, but not in a good way. Hey, at least they're trying. Anyway, the song is great and has really unusual lyrics - retro, but in a good way. The song is like Elvis Costello and Sting's green alien love child.

The Pearl Jam cd finally came out and it's No 1 on iTunes - who knows what that means. It's just the once a year where I actually align with a greater number of album purchasers. In fact, when I first woke up, PJ was No 1 and Bruce was No 2 and I'm pretty sure that's never happened. But anyway. The album is reliably Pearl Jam, with some kick ass stuff and a couple of real losers. It's overtly political, you don't have to stretch to get the point a la , "hey wait, these protest songs are relevant now. hmmmm." Not that I mind metaphor, but most times it's better to get one's ass moving.

Along those lines, my bud Kevin made me a disk of HIM, which is listed as Metal, who knows why. The CD is Dark Light and I love it. It reminds me most of Muse, which was a semi-obsession 2 years ago.

And this may be the only week that I received two Pete Seeger-related ditties, but that's for another blog.

This is the best though: Dave just sent the Dilbert for today:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Favorite flicks in April

Travellers and Magicians
Brokeback Mountain
Everything is Illuminated
Thank You for Smoking
Mrs. Dalloway
Breakfast on Pluto

disappointed in

Paradise Now
Grizzly Man
Sympathy for Mr Vengeance