Ever get annoyed? Ever feel like someone needs to be told where the dog died? Or handed a crowbar and a tub of Elbow Grease to help them pry their head out of their arse? Congratulations--you've come to the right place.

And when I'm not commenting on the latest thing to piss me off, I'm trying to figure out my own twisted life. Because, hey, I'm like that.

On a gentler note: for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, and other assorted bullshit: You are NOT alone.

And if you're looking for a laugh, search on the key word "fuckery." It's just my little thing (as the bishop said to the actress).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ad Memoriam: America, July 4, 1776 - September 11, 2001

This past Sunday marked a painful anniversary for the United States. The image included today is Marcus Halevy's iconic photo from the week after; this image gave me hope. It still does. For me, the 9/11 experience can be summed up in three songs: “Three Little Birds,” by Bob Marley; “Times Like These” (live version, not studio) by The Foo Fighters; and “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen.

I really wanted to ignore the tenth anniversary for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, I hate how the fascist corporate whores who were running the country into the ground at the time used and abused the incident to justify an unjust war that has claimed millions of lives. Second, how 9/11 was used to destroy our Constitutional freedoms; third, how it was used to justify prejudice and has helped to create a movement towards the elimination of the First Amendment and a push towards turning the U.S. into a Christo-fascist dictatorship. I wish I was joking or exaggerating. Fourth, the fact that the cocksucking politico whores didn’t invite NYPD, FDNY, and rescue workers to the memorial… yeah. Fifth, after sending troops into Afghanistan 10 years ago, Draft Dodger/Retard Bush* and his corporate masters passed legislation cutting benefits for veterans and their survivors… Sixth, the survivors can’t get decent health coverage (and have been coming up with lovely forms of cancer) or benefits because, hey, why the fuck should the ungrateful legislative whores in the pockets of the insurance companies defy their corporate masters? Seventh, the Bush administration allowed the Saudi royal family and friends to fly out of the US on the day after, when all other private and commercial jets were grounded. Eighth, shall we discuss the Patriot Act? Christ, I just want to spit—September 11, 2001 – the day used as an excuse to destroy America.

And then, yesterday, while I was driving down the Lynn Fells Parkway on a glorious, beautiful, stunning September Sunday morning, I happened to flip the radio and come upon Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising.” I wept like a broken child because Bruce’s voice and lyrics captured the reality of the day for me—both anthem and hymn, praise and mourning, defiance and acceptance, and it flooded back—that horrible, awful day… coming out into the doctor’s waiting room from my appointment before 10 a.m. to have this couple who had just driven up from The Cape tell me what they’d heard on the radio, and me saying it couldn’t be true… and then… then the news. Frantically trying to reach the guy I had been casually dating because he’d been driving down to NYC every Tuesday for business. Calling former students and emailing and making sure everyone was accounted for because a few of our kids had gone to grad school down there (and I was never so thankful that I’d listened to my instincts and NOT gone to the Actor’s Studio for the MFA—it was in the same block as St. Vincent’s, one of the front line hospitals)… that horrible, empty feeling that something so ugly, so stupid, so evil could be done in the name of ideology.

Ever notice that “ideology” sounds a lot like “idiotology” when pronounced out loud?

All the dead. All those emergency personal. All of the ordinary people who did extraordinary things that day. All of those families, those children…

That was what was the good thing about that horrible day—we all were a little kinder, a little gentler to each other. As a nation, we’d been punched in the gut and realized for a few days what was really important—each other.

A few days after, I heard the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds,” and I wept, grieving and knowing that somehow, it would get better.

I flew to Philly a couple of weeks later to see my best friend, KJ. My Mum didn’t want me to go—she was terrified of me flying so close to the time, and those planes… those planes had originated at Logan. Going through Logan wasn’t pleasant—seeing Staties in riot gear and automatic weapons was as shocking as it was the first time I went through DeGaulle in Paris. I had asked the people I’d been talking to on the plane if there had been a terrorist attack and was told, “Oh, no, this is normal.” It was painful to see it become normal here. Understand that I love to fly—I live for the moment of take off, when the plane “slips the surly bonds of earth.” It’s a magical moment. What transformed the experience for me that night was looking out of the plane and seeing lights—the Eastern Seaboard was lit up completely, shining in the night. I leaned my head against the glass, tears on my cheeks, proud, so proud to be an American at that moment—they had wounded us, but by the Gods, they had not extinguished our light—the nation founded on the principles of “government by the people, for the people” would not fall.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the live version of “Times Like These,” just the raw emotion of Davy Grohl’s voice transforming a nice song into a soul wrenching testimony of survival, and weeping because it was so fucking true: “it’s times like these you learn to live again; it’s times like these you give and give again; it’s times like these you learn to love again.”**

And then the morons started waving flags and chanting, “USA! USA!” on street corners. And people wonder why other countries hate us; why even our allies are disappointed in us. Could it be we allowed a functionally illiterate draft-dodging corporate failure, backed by an unethical, amoral, consciousless corporate tycoon to be the titular head of this country for eight years? Could it be that we, as a nation, have acted like a bunch of bullying, uneducated, ill-bred hooligans? Could be it be that we have forgotten our real history and instead believe in the government-censored fairytale the least-enlightened state in the Union approves of for the rest of us?*** (Christ, I wish I was making this shit up.)

That is what has made the past decade so painful for me—the destruction of the light of America. When our country was founded, it was by men profoundly influenced by the French Enlightenment and from families deeply affected by the English Civil War, not to mention the Reformation. This nation began as a commercial venture and penal colony, and when the time came and independence was earned, the law code those leaders codified was a direct reflection of it. The Constitution of the United States was a document born from a society trying to learn from history; it was never intended to be a static code that remained unchanged and unchallenged. The government established by Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams… they never intended that we would have the same government over two hundred years later. They established a base for us to build on, but never expected us to fail so radically by clinging to the past and ignoring history. They did not expect us to follow the example of the monarchies of Europe.

That is where we have failed, my friends, and how we, as a nation, have dishonored our honored dead. Those who died for this country, who gave their lives willingly or unwillingly, did so to uphold the principles of the Founding Fathers. The problem is that we no longer bother to study those principles. Patriotism is not blind adherence to the government’s policy—patriotism is the belief and love of the principles that governed the founding of this nation—that we are all created equal in the eyes of the law, that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, BUT that with those rights, comes RESPONSIBILITY. We have forgotten as a nation the concept of citizenship; we have become rotten, corrupt—intellectually lazy and cowardly in the face of losing our creature comforts. We have allowed cowards, liars and thieves to take control of our government, and surrendered our wills to corporations, and our partisan identity is more important to us than what is best for our country. We have allowed our elections to become nothing more than muck-raking popularity contests that have nothing to do with public service and everything to do with lining the pockets of the winners and their corporate sponsors, while we allow ourselves to be sidetracked into discussions of irrelevancies and forget we are supposed to be voting for a public servant who will serve the common good, not just our special interests.

We have pissed on the graves of the honored dead and debased ourselves in useless warmongering, destroying not only our own citizens, but decimating the populations of foreign nations under false pretenses. We, as a nation, have sunk lower than France in 1789, and are following the example of Germany in the 1930’s. The pity is that, because we have allowed our schools to become indoctrination centers, history is not studied and ANALYZED, and we as a nation live in denial. Our people are suffering, and we are causing suffering around the world with our selfishness.

I wept Sunday for all that was lost on that beautiful September day in 2001—the lives needlessly, cruelly cut short and for the death of my country. Today, I pray for all of us—that we have the courage to go beyond our self-imposed limits and embrace our responsibilities.

May the benevolent Gods bless us all and guide us to enlightenment and compassion.

*W served in the AF Reserve as a pilot; he never saw combat. He was also seen rather erratically after the Air Force began random drug testing. W is a coke addict; note the present tense usage. There were reports (reliable, sadly) that he was still snorting when he was in the White House. His behavior pretty well confirms it. As for Dick Cheney, he was quoted in Rolling Stone, when questioned as to why he didn't serve in Viet Nam, "I had better things to do." Sorry, but if you're not willing to shed your own blood for your country, don't ask anyone else to, you cowardly scum.

** Surprised to discover that "Times Like These" came out in 2003. For some reason, I associate it with 2001. Time is fluid...

*** Truth: most states use textbooks approved by the Texas Board of Education. Be afraid. Be VERY, VERY afraid when the books your children use come from a state-approved board. Ever heard of Stalin? Hitler? Mao? Yeah--they believe in state-approved text books as well. When it comes to history and learning history, you don't want to learn the party line--you want to learn all sides of the story. Because hey, wouldn't it be awesome to learn a balanced view of history? One of the best anecdotes I have to share about this--and about the fact that even American history teachers in AMERICAN schools don't know their history: I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Gaiman speak back in June at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH on the 10th anniversary tour for American Gods. The novel contains interludes--his way of overcoming writer's block--which are anecdotes of how the Gods crossed the ocean. One of them involves a Cornish woman named Essie Tregowan who was a tranportee (twice!). For those of you unfamiliar with American history. the colonies were not established for religious freedom and human rights, but as a commercial venture and a penal colony (much like Australia). Neil's son was 12 at that point; he came home from school and told his father that his history teacher said that Neil was a liar.

Yeah. Evidently, they're not teaching history teachers about transportees--the other side of the King's Hard Bargain (hang or be a soldier). Being transported meant you escaped the noose, but instead were condemned to a (possibly) temporary servitude. If you read A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, you can also discover even more ugly truths about transportees and slavery. All true, sad to say, and all serious contributing factors to today's racial issues in the US (and other countries). What's even sadder is that people from other countries know more about our history than our history teachers.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What's Cookin'? Tomato Pie!

Hey, kids - I realized it's been forever since I've posted a new recipe. Last week, I went to the party of the year--the annual gathering of the clan at Camp Atherton. I brought along Tomato Pie, and evidently, it was a major hit. I LOVE this recipe--it's just utterly nummers. It's a high falutin' alternative to pizza that I've been playing with forever, and I think I finally got it right. Plus, it's tomato season... mmmmmmmmmmmm... HEIRLOOM TOMATOES! Cut with just a sprinkle of salt... maybe a little fresh mozz... or Mahon. If you haven't discovered Spanish Mahon cheese, please do. It's the most sublime eating cheese on the planet.

As with all my recipes, if you like it, share it with friends and family, but PLEASE--credit me. I put a lot of effort into the tips and hints (because, honestly, there is nothing more frustrating than trying a recipe and getting weird results that no one warned you about). I hope to finish my cookbook one of these days.

Tomato Pie a la Empress

This recipe IS summer for me, and this is the time of year to make it. Tomato Pie is pizza to the nth degree, a heavenly melding of cheese and fresh tomatoes and garlic… Gods, I’m salivating just thinking about it. Simple, simple ingredients, but utter heaven from the oven. The other beauty of this recipe is, like so many other tomato-based dishes, it’s better the second day, and can be eaten hot or cold (I love a cold slice for breakfast). I also love it because it’s one of the few recipes I can make for my vegetarian friends that will also satisfy the omnivores. If you have gluten issues, switch out the crust. Dairy… can’t help you there. This dish is all about cheese and tomatoes.

This recipe is based on a Martha Stewart concoction I came across a few years ago. I really loved the idea of it and have played around with it over the past few tomato seasons. My advice is to use fresh HEIRLOOM tomatoes for the best flavor. Trust me on this. My three favorites are pineapple (a yellow tomato with a few stripes), brandywine (big bustard of a red tomato), and black prince (a black/purple tomato with stripes). Color is the key—go for variety for the best taste (and one or two good-sized brandywines will give you more than enough for two pies and bits to snack on while the pies are baking).

Trader Joe’s is your friend when making this recipe—I prefer to get my tomatoes from the farmers market (or a good farm stand)—Kimball Farms is my favorite at the markets—but for cheese selection and price, TJ’s is your best bet (in the Boston area). They also have all of the ingredients (including the tomatoes) in high summer.

I use a variety of cheeses in the mix—like five different types in the shred, plus the fresh mozz and parm. Five .75 lb. blocks yield enough cheese for four pies (even with snacking because who can resist cheese?). DON’T skip the fresh mozz, ESPECIALLY if you’re cooking for people with salt issues. The fresh mozzarella cuts the salt of the rest of the cheese. My latest version of this used English Coastal Cheddar, Cheddar/Gruyere (a TJ’s house cheese), Canadian Cheddar, New Zealand Cheddar, Dubliner, and Australian Cheddar. Yeah, I like cheddar. Mix your sharps and milds, and play with your flavors—I’d be interested to hear the result of using a blue cheese or a brie or camembert in this. I know someone tried my recipe with Cottswolds and double Gloucestershire for a great result. If I see a porter cheddar or a mustard cheddar, I may try those for shits and giggles.

I also cheat and use store-bought pie crust (I know, I know, shame on me. Whatever—when I get a bigger kitchen and have room to work, I’ll start making my own. Besides, who the hell wants to make pie crust in high summer?). Trader Joe’s makes an excellent crust; find it in their frozen section. One hint when working with a premade, unrolled crust: if it breaks when you unfold it, DON’T panic. Lay it flat, peel off the top layer of plastic, dust a tiny bit of flour or cornmeal over the crust, put the plastic back over it, and GENTLY press it back together. OR, put it in the baking dish like puzzle pieces & press it back together in there. Your choice.

One final note: you can make this with really basic ingredients—regular tomatoes, packaged cheese, etc. I’ve done it in a pinch. But it just ain’t HALF as good. Trust me.


2 large bulbs of garlic
Olive oil
Crust for 2-9” pies
Cornmeal (for dusting)
Balsamic vinegar
Heirloom tomatoes (2 huge, 2 medium, 2-3 small—you will have extra)
Cherry tomatoes (roughly 10—again, go for color variety)
2-3 pounds of assorted cheeses, shredded
2 balls fresh mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
Fresh basil, cut into ribbons (about five leaves)

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Rub the outer skin off of the garlic bulbs so that just the last layer covering the cloves is left. Cut the top off of the bulb—basically, get the tips off so that the inner garlic is revealed. Lay the garlic, cut side up, in the center of a piece of foil large enough to completely cover the garlic (if you have a garlic baker, use that; I use foil), bring the corners of the foil part-way up, and drizzle olive oil over the garlic. Twist the foil close. Repeat for the other bulb. Place in a shallow pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll know when it’s done because the aroma from the garlic will change from the sharp, intense scent of the fresh cut to a mellow, nutty scent. This will take at least 45 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool (for the sake of avoiding scorched fingers).

Line two 8” cake pans with the pie crust; adjust the crust to fit as necessary & crimp around the edges. Dust the bottom with cornmeal & weight the bottom with rice, dried beans or pie weights & bake for fifteen minutes. This pre-baking isn’t completely necessary; it just makes for a crisper bottom on the pie. Don’t skip weighting the bottom—the crust WILL puff up and the sides will slide down. If the sides start to slide, remove the crust from the oven immediately and press bake into place. (Yes, I’ve had it happen; no tragedy, really, just a minor nuisance).

Shred the cheeses. I tend to alternate cheese blocks to make mixing the shreds easier—shred a bit, toss it in a giant mixing bowl, shred a bit of a different one, throw it in the bowl, give the cheeses a light toss together… you get the picture. Do NOT include the parm and mozz in this process.

Slice the tomatoes; thickness is your choice. I tend to let the tomato decide how thick the slices are going to be because different varieties have different consistencies.

By now, your garlic should be cool enough to handle. Partially unwrap the roasted bulbs and pour the garlic-infused oil off into a small bowl. There are two methods of getting roasted garlic cloves out of the skin: one is neat, the other is messy, and you’ll be using both. The neat way is to winkle the roasted clove out with the tine of a fork—just hook the clove with the fork and pull it out. The messy way is to squeeze the roasted clove out of the skin. Either way, get all of the roasted garlic out of the skins and into the bowl with the oil, add a bit of balsamic vinegar to taste (but not so much as to make it liquid) and mash it up to a fairly smooth paste. If you want to add any other flavors—rosemary, basil, mustard, etc.—mash it in with the garlic. I like to keep it simple. I DON’T advise adding salt—because of the cheese content, adding salt as a flavoring is overkill and really wrecks the flavor.

Now, let’s assemble the pies! For each pie: spread the paste over the bottom of the crust, sprinkle a little bit of parmesan, a few handfuls of the shredded cheeses—pat the cheese into a firm layer, shreds of fresh mozzarella, and a layer of the sliced tomatoes. Neatness does NOT count. Fill in empty spots between tomato slices with bits of the assorted cherry tomatoes. Repeat. Put the pan on a baking sheet (because it can bubble over—this is why I bake it in a cake pan and not a pie plate) and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven, toss a scant handful of shredded cheese, a sprinkle of parm, a few shreds of the fresh mozz, and basil ribbons (optional); return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. I like the top bit of cheese to brown a bit for flavor.

Allow to cool for at least an hour before serving. Can be served warm or cold, keeps in the fridge for at least a week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hair of the Dog... ACHOO!

For the record, this is NOT aimed at any of my close friends who own dogs. Unlike some dog owners, you've been responsible and civilized your pup.
"You know what irony is, don't you, Baldrick?"
"Yeah, it's like goldy and bronzy, only darker."
(from Blackadder, favorite quote provided by Vicki)

After finishing the first draft of this post, I got an email from Amazon.com telling me I would want to know that the book, Woof: I Love Dogs has been published and is available for 22% off the cover price. *headdesk*
For the record, I feel the same way about dogs that I do about humans: as a species, I can't abide them; however, I take individuals as I find.
OK, blurkers, I need you dog people to explain to me what the fucking point is.
I'm serious.
I am NOT a dog person--I am actually severely allergic (like, petting them makes my hands itch and break out into hives and cause me to have serious sinus issues) to most of the beasts. As a cat person, I would never dream of bringing my cat along to someone else's house. NEVER. Because a) my cat doesn't like anyone but me; b) my cat doesn't want to leave the house; and c) what right do I have to inflict my choice of animal companion on someone else's home? As someone who suffers from stupid allergies, I know that just because I'm cool with my feline doesn't mean everyone else is.
Dog people don't seem to get this--there is this perception that EVERYONE loves dogs--ESPECIALLY YOURS! because Rover is just so AWESOME! And that I, as a non-dog person am somehow a very bad person because I don't just adore their dribbling needy loud annoying crotch-sniffing INTRUSIVE STINKY four-legged child substitute who literally makes me sick. It's not that they aren't being responsible pet owners--I'm a bad person for trying to avoid my hands breaking into painful hives and developing a life-threatening sinus infection. Yes, of course, I will risk my health just to reassure your personal canine fashion lifestyle statement and ease your ego.
Why is it OK to hate cats but not dogs? I actually had a guy tell me he couldn't date me because he couldn't get into cats. (Yes, this was through a dating site.)
I was at a party recently and two people brought their dogs along, dogs who just had no business being there. One of them kept jumping in the pool (and making it really filthy); the other--a huge, ugly pit bullish thing with a head bigger than the average watermelon and jaws that could have snapped a steel girder--had to be tied up away from everyone else and would NOT STOP barking at everyone and everything, upsetting the dog that actually lived there. It took the moron who brought the drooling maniac almost an hour to get it through his thick head that THIS WAS NOT the place to have his dog.
Why would you do this? Explain this to me. I really don't get it. I don't get this "let's take the dog!" mentality. Dogs are bloody intrusive creatures, most of them--sniffing EVERYTHING, I mean, EVERY FUCKING THING, drooling, dribbling, farting, shedding, Christ on a crutch, WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?!?!? And they're so damn NEEDY--they're worse than kids, for fuckssake. Why would you have an animal that can rip your throat out in your home? Or one that you could shove a broom handle into their arse and clean the floor with? (Seriously, if you have to have a dog, at least get one that goes "woof." Anything that yips is useless.)
Oh, and hybrid? Seriously? Back when I was a kid, we had "hybrid" dogs--we called them mutts and you got them from a neighbor or the animal shelter. The sonofawhore who came up with the "hybrid" concept is one brilliant bastard--one way to save your investment when your purebred drooler fucks a purebred dribbler. Proof that there's a sucker born every minute.
And another thing about purebreds--and this goes for dogs and cats--if you buy a purebred from a breeder for any other reason than allergies (because there are some who are safe for allergies)--you're a shallow, ignorant jackoff. Go to a fucking shelter or a rescue (because there are purebred rescue shelters out there) and stop being an irresponsible, fascist cunt. Nazis care about bloodlines; humans should just care, and there are too many unwanted critters out there who've been abandoned out of human irresponsibility and cruelty. You want the responsibility of a pet? Be responsible then.
I like cats. Cats know when to fuck off and leave you alone. Cats shit and piss in a box and don't require being taken on walkies five or a million times a day. Cats will not mindlessly bark for an hour just because they need to let the world know that, hey, I'M HERE! Cats will cadge food (and do sneaky things), but at least a cat doesn't have jaws that can snap your neck. Unless it's a tiger, and hey, you as a human should know better. Cats don't hump your leg. Cats don't shove their nose in your crotch or arse just because they have to smell EVERYTHING. Cats COVER their shit. Cats clean themselves and don't (usually) need to be bathed to keep from smelling like wet dog (which is one of the most evil smells on the planet).
I get it that the behavior stuff is not the dog's fault--it's the idiot on the other end of the least with the opposable thumbs who hasn't socialized and trained the beast. And there are some pretty obnoxious cats out there. But dogs... Folks, I just don't fucking get it.
Pass me a tissue, will ya?

Post-vacation Crash Rant

So I've been back in the States for less than a week and the post-Nova Scotia blues just hit full force.
I've been writing multiple blog posts in my head (I know, does no good there) over the past couple of weeks, but just haven't had the oomph to write them. I get it, depression. Understood. However, it's more than that. I was OK for a while because I thought I was going back in September--was going to hit the Jim Jefferies show at the Wilbur, hop in the car, and haul ass for Halifax and The Hill encampment so I could see all of my friends again.
Not happening--for a lot of reasons, most of them monetary. But it hurts like hell. I miss my NS people desperately, and the only reason to be back here are the good people in my life.
I really hate coming back here, and I've realized why: lack of community. Lack of cooperation. And the fact that Americans are the biggest bunch of spoiled, lazy, fucking brats on the planet. (More on that later.)
I spent the last weekend of July in my version of heaven on earth: the Annapolis Valley. Most of it was spent at a living history encampment of the 84th Regiment at Fort Anne in the piss-pouring rain. In full 18th century dress (which I am not doing again unless I'm in drag--there's something going on with my abs that are making anything tight incredibly horrible). I'm going to do a full post on the encampment--a happy post, because this is NOT a happy post and it was a happy experience. What I left the encampment with was a feeling of community--of being a part, even if on the periphery--of a solid community which watched out for its own and welcomed others willing to commit and give back.
I am not a crunchberry--while I believe that yes, we are bloody irresponsible in our use of resources and hate the disposable society in which we live, I am also as guilty as the next person of not being as responsible as I could be in making things better. However, having worked in the People's Republic of Cambridge for over two decades and dealing with starry-eyed fascists who shoved their politics and naive idealism down my throat until I choked... yeah. I believe in being responsible. What that means is that I eat the cow AND wear leather because the idea of wasting the animal is repugnant. I honor the sacrifice; I also accept that it's a part of the cycle of existence. I will be cremated because my remains will not be allowed to break down naturally and enrich the earth (although, being born in the late 20th century and raised on crap food for 40 years, I'd be worried about what would leach out that would poison the earth). The re-enactors I was with are probably the best example of effective use of resources I have ever come face-to-face with: all natural fibers, thrift store shopping, items mended, repurposed, passed down, passed along... nothing going to waste.
Chortling over "Frenchy's Finds"--stuff found at thrift stores for cheap money, perfectly good stuff that other people threw away, given new life. If you didn't have goods, you gave services--cooking, child-watching, help with a tent, whatever. Cooperation.
The cooperation extended beyond the encampment--whether it was just having coffee, help with moving stuff, advice, whatever--the community continues over.
I miss that community desperately. I miss having a cup of coffee in the afternoon and a yak-yak over a snack. I miss having people to meet up with and just be. I miss the Nova Scotian common sense and acceptance of life and limitations--and the indomitable will to just keep going and make things work, somehow.
Because you have to.
I got a little sick of the anti-American sentiment (actually, I got a lot sick of it, and had to bite my tongue a couple of times from saying, "WELL, WHY THE FUCK DO YOU TAKE IT?!?! Close the goddamned border, stand up to the US. What the fuck are we going to do? Nuke you? We'd be killing ourselves and losing everything we need because fuck knows, drilling for oil in the Gulf isn't working, we've decimated our forests, and most of our top entertainers are imported from either Canada or the UK); I got sick of apologizing for American stupidity, not just because I was annoyed with the fact that I know a lot of people who are NOT like what gets shown on the TV--most of the people I know are decent human beings who are doing their best. The other reason I got sick of it is because I'm sick of our diseased society.
And here begins the rant. Sit down or click off, kids, because the Empress is about to throw down: Dear America: Please WAKE THE FUCK UP AND PULL YOUR COLLECTIVE HEAD OUT OF YOUR ARSE. I don't give a rat's nadgers what you classify yourself as--liberal, conservative, progressive, Green, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, what-the-fuck-EVER. GROW UP. Our government is in the pocket of corporations and very, very wealthy people who have directed us on a course of self-destruction that will make the fall of Rome look like a backyard game of tug-o-war because, thanks to technology, we have far more destructive toys than our Roman forebears ever did.
The world economy is collapsing because of irresponsibility and laziness. Because we want to go farther, faster, quicker, sooner, without regard for the consequences. Somewhere along the line, we forgot there were consequences for our actions, or, to use the physics formula, for every action there is a direct opposite REaction. The human race, in its race to advance, has condemned itself, and no society greater exemplifies this than the US.
And it breaks my fucking heart. We have an AMAZING country, founded on an incredible visionary law code, on a philosophy that believes we are all capable of achievement, of raising ourselves up and being better than what we were at the beginning.
As a society, we have lost sight of this. Over the past century, we have gone from being pioneers and citizens to being spoiled, entitled brats, and there isn't an echelon of American society that isn't guilty of it, from the very rich to the very poor.
We eat over-processed food, approved by a government agency in the pockets of corporate food producers, food that is poisoning us because, while it is convenient, it lacks nutrition and introduces compounds into the body that are deadlier than bullets.
We watch corporate-produced crap on the television that more and more, isn't well-written entertainment (although that was scarce enough even before reality TV), but a glorification of all that is wrong with our society. But for a bit of attention, people are willing to sell their souls for a slice of the pie. We get the Kartrashians, heiresses little more than self-supporting whores, neglecting mothers, shallow idiots, and values that have nothing to do with common sense, common courtesy or common decency, all for Warhol's fabled fifteen minutes. How ironic a hack would come up for the label for the fall of America.
We support professional sports teams who are paid more money than any human being is worth to play games for us--rather than going out and tossing a ball around for fun, it's about who can win the scholarship, who can get signed, who can take this to the limit and get all the money. It's not about sportsmanship, it's not about athleticism, it's about money. You will not see me at Fenway, Patriot Place, or the Garden, folks. Fuck them. And fuck the owners of these franchises who are little more than modern-day slave owners--ever see Gladiator? I really am NOT entertained.
We elect politicians who talk a good game and do nothing but line their own pockets preparing for their next run for office. Hypocrites, the lot of them, particularly on the far Right--decrying everything the lowest, least-educated part of society fears while committing the same "sins" in private.
This is what is being played out in "the media"--on the television, the newspapers, the magazines, etc. This is what America broadcasts to the world--that we are a nation of lazy, stupid morons being puppeteered by corporate masters, new money who have no grasp of the concept of noblesse oblige--I may hate Bill Gates for being a plaguirizing jackass, but he has done great things with his money. He has given back. Warren Buffet is another great example. Not so Donald Trump, Rupert Murdock, the thieves of Wall Street and their ilk, and sadly, they are in the majority, takers who suck the life out of others and don't give a damn thing back, selfish idiots who have lined their pockets and bought expensive toys that use up precious resources that can't be replaced while people die because of the conditions they perpetuate.
Don't tell me Wal-Mart creates jobs and has affordable prices--I know this. What I also know is that Wal-Mart has actively worked to destroy American manufacturing in order to keep its prices low, thereby eradicating well-paying American jobs that would allow the workers to better educate themselves and their children and dear Gods, we can't have that happening.
We have an education system that is, quite frankly, piss. Great universities so obscenely priced that we have three generations who have begun their adult lives deeply in debt, the latest with little hope of paying it off in less than two decades. Primary and secondary education are now test-driven--state-sanctioned test-driven, to the point where if you don't pass the government test, you don't get the degree, therefore you don't get a job, and hey, let's talk about those crime statistics.
Are you seeing the vicious cycle we've created? And you want to cut social programs but not tax the rich motherfuckers who aren't giving a cent back to make things better. Instead, you want to cut money for the elderly, cut benefits for children and families, and in short, make the poor pay for the sin of being poor.
This is Calvanistic Puritanism at its most vile and disgusting. Think I'm kidding? Ever heard of the theory of "The Elect"? It is a philosophy at the center of many of the Protestant sects--the concept that there are a finite number of people who have been "saved"--i.e. whom God has chosen and who are going to heaven no matter what. The Elect can be identified by their fortunate lives; the damned can be identified by their unfortunate lives. In short: they ain't going to heaven, SO FUCK 'EM.
I was raised Catholic; Catholicism states that even the worst sinner can be redeemed by sincere good works (sincere meaning that the gestures come from the heart--from a genuine desire to do rightly). If you want a good example of Catholic redemption theory, see the praying scene in Hamlet--the one where Claudius is on his knees but cannot pray because he has no repentance in his heart.
I am sick at heart for all this, folks. I'm angry, I'm upset, and I am sorely disappointed in America in general. What makes it more painful is all of the wonderful people I know down here--my friends--who are trying to live their lives rightly and do right by themselves and those around them. I am tired of the fact that down here, we're doing our best, but up there... up there, they just don't give a rat's ragged arse about what's right, just about what is right for them.
So what am I doing to counteract the stupidity? To avoid the only real sin I acknowledge, i.e. hypocrisy? I'm doing my best. Trying to eat decent food, grown as locally as possible. Trying to be smart about what I buy. Using thrift stores. Repairing instead of throwing away. Passing around, not throwing out. I wish I didn't have to use the car so much, but my knees aren't allowing for walking.
I'm going to go get some coffee and see if I can find a little peace of mind. A positive vacation blog will follow--going over the really high points and giving lots of credit and kudos where it's due--but right now... right now, I need to have a good hard cry because I'm not going to get to see all of those folks again for at least a year.
while I have much to be thankful for, right now... right now, life fucking sucks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Errrrrmmmmm... hello?

Dearest Blog,
I am so sorry it's been over a month since I've visited you. Please accept my apologies for being a bad blogger. I promise I will try to be better in future.
Hello, my blurking dears. Greetings from lovely Nova Scotia. After multiple postponements, I finally made it up here. And yeah, I'm a friggin' mess. Insomnia kicked my ass for two days (surprise, surprise), but I'm actually getting on a normal schedule for the first time in forever.
And I'm finally letting myself grieve--the loss of community, the loss of home (when Hell's Vestibule is finally sold, it will be the first time in my life I have no roots, no place to call "home;" I cannot tell you how horrible it leaves me feeling, how lost and afraid), and being in a "real" relationship for the first time since I was married. (For those of you unaware, I was married for a couple of years; it ended in 1990.)
Nothing puts my ass into perspective like a few days in the company of my eternally practical Capricorn best friend. If you are not a believer in astrology, whatever. I don't know that I believe in it; I do know that there are some people who epitomize their sun signs. I am a true blue Scorpio, and never, never was there a more Capricornish Capricorn than Vicki. After months of just trying to maintain and keep from completely losing it, to actually have the time to stop, rest and think... have had a few good cries. Still haven't sorted out things, but I'm actually breathing and resting and not in a constant state of flat panic.
I have to face the employment shit. I really don't want to. I have two potential courses of action: 1) retraining (which is really appealing) for something new, different and more interesting. 2) Applying for a job with Planned Parenthood. They have an opening for a purchasing agent in Boston; while it's not a new career path, it will be a job with an employer that I firmly, completely believe in. After working for BBN years ago and temping in an MIT lab that did experiments on live animals, I know for a fact that I can't work for an employer whose mission does not mesh with my ethics and values. Academia... *sigh* Academia has become a disgraceful racket. I believe in the work--education--but I don't believe in the infrastructure and administrative BS that encumbers it.
It's like knowing how the magic trick is done--up to a point, it's cool, but once you know that there are two birds and one has to die, the lustre is lost. I love working with young adults, but I hate being a part of the machine that is setting them up to enter adulthood deeply in debt and is NOT preparing them for reality and teaching them practical skills. The fact that college today has become the equivalent of high school in the 70's is shameful. I just don't know if I can be a part of that.
Planned Parenthood... that's an organization I can work for with no qualms.
Next item: family. When I get back, I have to help Mum with applications and work on cleaning out the house. I can do that. I can handle that. Her brother is voluntarily going into rehab for a month--he's putting himself in.
I'm a bit overwhelmed by this news. He has accepted that his life has gotten out of control and he needs to clean himself up. I am afraid to hope. I am desperately afraid to hope.
And then... then there is the relationship. For the record, his name is Al. It's been four plus months--it almost ended; it may still. I take nothing for granted there. However... there is hope. Being with him has brought home to me how damaged I am. I have a dichotomy to face regarding my sexuality and a lot of healing to do. Thank the merciful Gods I am dating a decent, gentle and amazing man. He ain't perfect, kids, but then, neither am I. He's a much better, nicer person than I am--his compassion and desire to do the right thing leave me in awe. I have never known a man who, when I've said that something was wrong, actually LISTENED, took it in, and tried to do something about it. I hope with all my heart this works out. Don't get me wrong--he drives me utterly nuts at times, but then, that's normal and as it should be. I drive him up the wall, too, but we work. Together, we work. If this is happy, I'll take it.
However... happy scares the piss out of me. What I have with Al is something I've never had before, something I've dreamed of all my life. To finally get this at my age... it's terrifying. So I'm doing everything I can NOT to fuck it up. Going away and leaving him behind has been beyond scary. Trying not to be clingy and constantly in touch is a challenge--that "pleasePLEASEpleasePLEASEplease DON'T forget me!" needy part of me that I hate so much. Trusting... trusting is such a challenge. It's not him, either, that I don't trust--it's me.
Christ, I am so fucked in the head.
And then... then there are the creative challenges. I managed to do some sculpting last night that I'm actually pleased with. Next up... some writing. I've been writing bits and bobs of books 2, 3 & 4, but the real challenge is the rewrite of book 1. I made a major decision about a character--a decision not to kill someone--and I finally realized that I'm not saving her: I'm saving myself. I'm trying to save my own life, holding out a hand and protecting a child like I was not all those years ago. Argh. I hate when my art imitates my life.
So Nova Scotia is working her magic on me--I'm relaxing and healing. I arrived bleeding and badly wounded, and I'm slowly pulling it all back together.
So, thank you, dearest blurkers for indulging me. Hopefully, I'll be back at it and commenting on life the universe and everything again on a regular basis.
Or, at least, plugging Jim Jefferies--not only seeing him in September at the Wilbur IN THE FRONT ROW!--but he's playing Foxwoods on my b-day weekend. Can you say, "road trip?"
And on that note... I need a shower and to get my arse in gear. Much love, kids--be good to each other, be good to yourselves. Let's hope things improve.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

*groan* Sod the Black Dog

Hello, my darling blurkers. (If anyone is left, it's been so long.)
Greetings from the fringes of utter disgruntlement; it has not been the best of times.
I have been severely, deeply depressed of late (big surprise!). Slowly coming out of it.
I spent about a month almost completely unable to write. This is not good.
Uncle Monster started drinking again. Again, not good.
Jobless... mixed blessing. With the state of my knees, the retail option for a job is out. However, I so DO NOT want to be stuck at another desk job. I can't take isolation and mundanity. So I have to revise my resume and hit the job/training center and see about the possibility of retraining. Perhaps culinary school...
That's about the only really creative thing I've been able to accomplish--been cooking quite a bit. Perfected Wussy 5-Bean Chicken Chili (for those of us who can't eat extremely hot food), have made umeshu (two jars, one made with vodka the other with tequila), created incredible oven-smoked, spice-rubbed country style pork ribs that damn near fell off the bone and melted in the mouth--beef ribs are next! I really have a deft touch in the kitchen--I have a serious instinct for creating amazing food. Not exotic, but seriously flavorful, delicious food. Wouldn't mind making a living feeding people.
Still in relationship, although barely. We hit the Three Month Slump--broke up for 36 hours, got back together, trying again taking it slow, and hoping to keep it alive and well. Not sure if it's going to work, praying it will. I love him--he's a wonderful man. I think our issues are surmountable. I hope so. We're good together--we're a good partnership, good companions and becoming good friends. At this point in my life, I know that's what I need for a long-term--a good friend I can share a bed with, whose crap I can tolerate. He's... he drives me nuts, but he's worth it.
I have a backlog of crap I want to blog about; like I said, writer's block has been horrific. It feels like being mentally strangled and makes me fairly unlivable. Sucks the energy out of me, not being able to express myself and makes the depression worse. I don't know if love is good for me as an artist, and I don't like that thought one friggin' bit. I do not want to be one of these utter losers who can only create in a state of misery and loneliness. (Sorry, but... I think there has got to be a way to balance the angst and anger, rage and sarcasm, creativity and love. There has to be. And still produce something worth reading that isn't utter shite and sunshine. I have a feeling that's why I was weeping during X-Men: First Class during the Charles/Magneto moment when Eric has his breakthrough. I'm looking for that balance.)
My sleep is a mess. Body... not sure WTF is going on with my health. Weight loss issues are weighing me down (no pun intended. I think), and my knees... my left knee is utterly shot and the pain has been intense. I'm usually fairly impervious to pain--I can handle a fair bit and ignore it, but this... when the fucking thing collapses on me, NOT good. So much for the elliptical. *slams head on the desk* I MISS BEING ABLE TO WORK OUT WITHOUT THIS BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, yeah, THAT has been bringing me down.
On the happy side... well, organizing is finally starting to happen in Hell's Vestibule. It's taken a while, but Mum is finally getting on board and listening. I've also seen most of the blockbusters that have been released--Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, Pirates--haven't seen Super 8 yet, but I may catch a matinee (all the comic book boys are raving about it, and that's good enough for me)--also caught Fellowship of the Ring on the big screen; Two Towers this week. It's been a serious popcorn summer already and have loved them all. Been to two author events--Jason Ciaramella up at Larry's Comics in Lowell (awesome guy--great adaptation of a Joe Hill short story, The Cape, that was a one-shot comic for IDW; it's now become a 4-issue mini series starting next month; he did a signing/Drink & Draw/writing seminar--will blog more on this); and This Is Teen with Maggie Stiefvater, Meg Cabot and *drum roll* Libba Bray who is an utter goddess. Different kind of fan girl moment for me, meeting her--love her writing, respect her incredibly, and meeting her was joyful. I've mentioned her fabulous novel Going Bovine in an earlier blog; it was lovely to get it signed. Yep, another "will blog" moment.
OK, kids, I'm going back to editing my manuscript. I have a goal of finishing by the end of this month, writing query letters, and then... then I'll seriously tackle long-term employment goals. With a time-out to hit the much-postponed trip to Nova Scotia for the last couple of weeks in July. I so need to recharge my batteries up home.
Be well. I'll be posting regularly (well, more regularly) I hope.

Monday, May 9, 2011

This Song Is Over, Part 2: Requiem for a Nightmare

OK, let's talk about being unemployed.
Or, specifically, about ME being unemployed.
Technically, I can't go into details--officially, on paper, I was laid off. The reality is different, but after long consideration (and yeah, I consulted a lawyer), I decided to sign off and take the unemployment for a bit because, with the exception of the relationship I'm in, my life is a fucking disaster ATM.
I had a dual reaction to the job ending. On the one hand, I was relieved that I was out of there. I no longer loved my job like I used to; I no longer felt that I worked in the best office on the planet. On the other... on the other, I was no longer a part of a community of which I had been a part of for more than half of my life--22+ years of my life were spent as a member of the Lesley community.
While I was there, I did some amazing things, and I no longer need to be diplomatic about some of them. See, working in academia can be seven kinds of hell if you're not a professor or an upper-level administrator. There is an embedded prejudice against those of us who possess skills but no piece of paper--an attitude that if you haven't enslaved yourself to the establishment for a significant portion of your life to create A Unique Contribution to Human Learning (aka a Ph.D., or, as so many of us disdainfully call them, a Piled Higher and Deeper because too many of them aren't worth the paper the three copies they were printed on; there are exceptions to this--a dear friend, Roger Stritmatter, comes immediately to mind. His dissertation on the Earl of Oxford's Geneva Bible is a part of a revolution of thought on the Shakespearean authorship, and I remain in awe of his dedication and devotion in completing it, and have never forgotten running into him in downtown Amherst right after he returned from DC after examining the book... the moment a historian LIVES for, the discovery of a generation... But I digress into Shakespearean geekdom) you aren't worthy of notice or being taken seriously.
I take exception to that attitude. Mind you, I'm still paying off the debt for my useless BFA, and I don't know if I have the patience to undertake a terminal degree, either MFA, MLS, or Ph.D. (and, yes, dearest blurkers, I have at least three theses that are Ph.D. worthy. Sad, ain't it?). I KNOW I don't have the patience to play politics, and sadly, that is 75% of the process. To me, that's also a major fucking waste of my time and money. I am NOT forking over thousands of dollars for the privilege of kissing ass to some over-inflated egomaniac who thinks they know it all. They don't. Having a degree is meaningless if you don't keep on learning, if you don't keep an open mind and keep exploring, keep educating yourself and have the attitude that you ALWAYS have something new to learn, and sometimes my darlings, what you have to learn is that teaching is a two-way process--in the act of sharing YOUR knowledge, your students have MUCH to teach you, if not about your subject, then about yourself as a human being. And if you're too fucking arrogant, too fucking scared, too fucking insecure to be open to that, YOU SHOULDN'T BE TEACHING, ASSHOLE.
Gods, that felt good to say. REALLY good. And there are some people who know me well who are reading this who know who that was aimed at. One of the things I did at Lesley that remains a very proud achievement is the founding of their undergraduate Shakespeare company. Yes, I said "founded"--I did not, as publically reported, co-found it. I founded it. I was the one who named the company and gave my all the first season, including almost losing my job. I laid the groundwork that was built on when the company was revived in '93.
I was NEVER a theatre student of the professor now attached to it. I took two of her literature classes; nothing more. She had nothing to teach me in theatre, except, in the end, by negative example. I hope she has changed; I have heard she hasn't. That mades me sad; we were friends once.
I gave almost ten years of my life to that theatre company; by the time I left, I didn't know if I could ever do theatre again, I was so hurt and burnt out and betrayed. I've done very little theatre since then because my heart just wasn't in it. If you want to know why I am so
enamoured of Jim Jefferies, it's because his work... his work vindicated mine. After being told by this "friend" how wrong I was to think the way I do, to see someone up on stage--on fuckin' HBO, ferchrissakes!--spouting out the same kind of wrong shit that I've been writing (privately) for years... vindication.
The other great thing I did while there was being a part of the Staff Representative Advisory Council and spearheading Staff Development Day. Three years, and no regrets only pride and sadness that I couldn't finish out my term. I miss my compatriots on SRAC. But I am fiercely proud of what we managed to achieve in three years.
It hurts that I won't ever walk across campus knowing that I belong there. Academia... academia is an ancient culture. It's almost like belonging to a monastery or a cloister (no surprises--academia began with the Church)--you are a part of a dedicated community, a community with a shared purpose, an enclosed environment that many people join and spend their entire adult life as a part of, with the knowledge that they are safe and welcome.
I no longer have that.
It's painful--like a part of me is missing.
It's also AWESOME--LIBERATING! I no longer have to go into that place every day, no longer have to endure the personality issues, the politics, the silliness, the baggage that made the last few months there a soul-sucking burden.
There are people there I will always be in touch with--friendships began that I hope will endure. And there are other people I am joyful I will never, ever have to see again--their presence in my life was distasteful, horrible and unpleasant. And now... now, I can move on.
The next chapter is beginning. This week is all about organizing--making lists, figuring out a strategy, and getting a schedule. I have to get Mum settled; I have to find a new job; I also need to finish my rewrite and get my standup act on its feet.
And, of course, I also have a relationship that I want to invest in.
So, this song is over, but a new one is beginning. I'm looking forward to having y'all singing along.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jim Jefferies: Another Road Trip, Part 1

OK, no piccie with Jim this time. Let's face, the last two sucked, and I was VERY ill at the end of the gig--nearly passed out several times towards the end of the show because of a negative reaction to something I ate. (I think it was the drink--I had a Godiva coffee, and I think my body has informed me that my drinking days are done with, like it or lump it.)
So, it was an amazing road trip. As I said in the early post, I was seriously debating about whether or not to go; not from lack of desire to see Himself, but from lack of funds, worry about leaving Mum on her own, and worry about the health of the Blue Bomber. Silly Empress.
Mum was released from the nursing home on Tuesday; she seems to be holding up well. We're going to have some serious go-rounds about Hell's Vestibule--she's already undone half my work in the kitchen, and that just ain't gonna fly. I made the point this morning that it's either a) an act of utter sadism on her part; or b) she's lost some essential screws in her head and is mentally incompetent. Neither option made her happy, so let's hope she's actually going to examine her behavior and change it. Before I lose what little is left of my sanity.
The Blue Bomber made it just fine--Gods, I love that damn car. To quote the only reason to watch episodes 4-6, "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts." And so far, I haven't had to get out and push. There is nothing sweeter than a car that can do 100 mph on the highway without even trying. I mean, I love I80 in Pennsylvania--it's a fuckin' speedway and a joy to drive. I don't think I was doing less than 80 at any given point, something the Blue Bomber is just made for. She may only have a six cylinder engine, but that bitch can haul ass.
So, Friday a.m. started with a huge hug from my godson--you know you're not a complete waste of space on the planet when a kid loves you. More girl talk with KJ, and then a lovely road trip through rural PA. Again, this is where driving is a pleasure--country roads, rock'n'roll blasting on the stereo (I'm not a huge Tom Petty fan, but if ever there was a time to hear and enjoy the song, "American Girl," it was under those conditions)--blue skies, green fields and hills, the occasional horse-drawn buggy, little towns, farms, and perfect temperatures.
Met Tory (finally) for coffee in Monroeville, got the directions and headed out for the show over in Homestead (neighborhood of PGH).
We had a good table--somehow, I always end up to the left of the stage. Don't ask me how or why, I just do. *shrugs* Whatev. The MC and the opener were OK--not fabulous, but OK. The MC was a chick--amusing, but not laugh-out-loud. This bothers me, especially as a chick considering standup. This has been something bothering me from the first open mic experience--the "boys club" feel of it, and the fact that women just don't seem to be as funny. I really hate the idea that female humor is different--I mean, yeah, it is, but at the same time... I always make guys laugh. I mean, I shock the shit out of them half the time, but I also make them laugh. I'll think about this more later.
The opener was a finalist from Last Comic Standing. *shrugs* Moderately amusing.
That's the problem I'm having with this show (aside from getting sick)--the energy was off in the room. Part of it was the openers, but part of it was the room. It just didn't feel right.
Don't ask; it's just the theater-Spidey-senses thingie. And then again, it just may have been ME.
So the MC brings Jim on, and he immediately declares himself hungover (after greeting the crowd; never let it be said Mr. J is not a gentleman). He looked hungover (no, faithful blurkers, despite being firmly in love with My Man, my Celebricrush is still firmly in place; remember, it doesn't matter where you work up your appetite just so long as you dine at home. No worries there, either)--back in February, despite needing a shave, Jim looked fabulous. Friday night, he looked a bit rough. Yes, I'm being a friggin' den mother--it's my nature. I also love the man's work and want him around for a good long while, so Jim, if you're reading this, please take care of yourself. Your roomie's a friggin' health nut who's saved the life of your podcast Tard--let Eddie get your ass in the gym and kick it around. /end nagging.
The other side of this is that Jim himself has admitted that he's very good at appearing drunk on stage when he really isn't, especially when he has to drive. (This is called "acting," for the uninitiated. This is why standups like Robin Williams go on to do things like win Oscars--essential skills developed to survive gigging in a different city every friggin' week.)
Soooooo... the set. Jim has stated before that he doesn't do political humor. I was happy to see that he's deviated from that stance. Yes, there were comments on Bin Laden; he had a little tip at Mr. O., and a good slap at the Republicans. Nice to see him getting a toe wet in there--I understand the desire to keep his material undated, but at the same time, the political situation in this country is too ridiculous NOT to have a go at it. As a resident alien (although he's said that he's considering American citizenship--he's white, so unlike so many, he shouldn't have a problem. After all, our last president still does a fair bit of coke, so no reason to hold it against anyone else) who's lived in two other first world countries, traveled the world, and played for troops in a war zone, he has a far broader perspective--and is better informed--than 90% of Americans. (And yeah, I include myself in there.)
I lost it over his Jenga/9-11 celebration party bit. Too wrong for words. TOO FUCKING WRONG for words! And utterly brilliant.
The bulk of the set was materical from Alcoholocaust, and centered around hypocrisy. Jim had his usual go at religion--Allan, Bubba and Elephant Guy--and he's expanded and better developed his bit on depression and dreams. If you've seen Alcoholocaust, you've seen this piece--"Don't die today!"--but he's gone a step further and used it as his tie-in/tie-up for the show. It was a sweet thing to see; this is the third time I've seen Jim in eight months, and he's evolving and developing his set beautifully. While I know most of the material, I can't say that any of the sets I've seen have been identical. The material he's done that's on the DVDs has never been presented rote--he neverhas the feeling of recitation. He's got his marks to hit, his punchlines to get to, but at the same time, he's confident enough and pro enough to let his shit go wherever it needs to and explore it.
Gods, I love watching him work--not just as an audience member, but as an actor, a director, and someone seriously considering standup. Watching Jim is like a master class--the fuck-up, druggie/alkie veneer is just that--a veneer that covers genius. What draws me and keeps me coming out to see him is that the foul language (one of these days, I'm going to try to do a "cunt count"--I don't think I'll be successful because I'll be too busy laughing to remember to make tick marks, but I'd like to try the challenge) and utterly no-holds-barred material is the other side of a wounded soul--under all of it is an incredible amount of pain and offended compassion and essential decency demanding an answer from the universe for why the fuck this shit is happening, and for fuckssake, doesn't anyone else SEE WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?
Remind you of anyone you know?
I am going to say what I've said in every review of Jim Jefferies that I've posted on this blog over the past eight months--GET OUT AND SEE HIM PERFORM. I know his material, and I still laughed, clapped, and hooted along, despite the fact that I was sick as a dog during the last twenty minutes.
Jim is at Caroline's in NYC all weekend; check his website at www.jimjefferies.com for the full tour schedule. I'm not roadtripping this weekend--the reality of unemployment is setting in, and I don't have friends in NYC to crash with. And there will NOT be a repeat of the Port Authority debacle. Argh.
Of course, like the past two times I've seen him, there was a debacle following. I mentioned that I was sick towards the end of the show. I actually had to do the rudest thing an audience member can do--I had to leave during a part of the set to go to the bathroom. Understand, I am old school theatre--when you are in the audience, you DO NOT get up during the performance. It's just incredibly RUDE. ESPECIALLY if you are seated down front, and Jim has commented enough that he takes it personally. However, I had no choice. No way I was vomiting in public. I made it to the ladies room in time; however, because of the weird way my stomach processes, I couldn't throw up. So it was sit and shake for a few minutes (and have a pee; never, ever miss a chance to empty the bladder). That helped a little bit--got some of the shit out of my system--but I still wasn't out of the woods. I went back into the club, but didn't sit back down--I just didn't want to walk in front of the stage while he was performing. I mean, as an actor, I've had to restrain myself from stabbing audience members who do that (and that's the great thing about doing Shakespeare and playing men--edged cutlery). Not something I want to do to my favorite performer. Bless him, Jim actually waved me back into my seat. Tory had said he wanted to meet the man, so I waited for him in the lobby after the show (because the bathroom lines were ridiculous). Almost passed out on the stairs (I have to say, I am amazed sometimes at the iron control I can exercise to avoid humiliation--no fucking way I was going out of there in an ambulance). Said hello to Jim, complimented him on the show, asked about the set list for the second show, DIDN'T ask for a pic, Tory shook his hand, complimented him, and as we were going out the door, asked if Jim remembered me. And because I'm shaking and trying not to heave, I was a bit cranky and said, "I don't know; I'm not going to bother the man!"
Made it to the car and promptly fell apart. Tory had to get my keys and unlock the door for me. At this point, let me say that I'd had VERY little alcohol--I didn't finish the coffee drink I'd ordered because I was feeling too awful. I'd had nachos and had them hold all the stuff I'm allergic to. And I felt like I was going to die--shaking, nauseous, dizzy, faint, SICK. Tory sat with me until I got it under control--who'd have thunk that celery would fix it? Managed to get on the road half an hour later instead of staying for the second set (REALLY wanted to, but was terrified of getting sick and passing out without a friend there to help me; plus the line was sod-all LONG. A very, very GOOD thing!).
The drive back took six hours longer than expected; two three hour naps caused that. Fuck, I must be getting old.
I got caught up on the podcast during the drive. Sacre merde. Now that I have time to think and write and post again, I will be doing an updated review of Talkin' Shit. Again, if you're not listening to that show, you need to. Trust me. Jim and Eddie (and resident Tard, Jason) are hysterical. And after finding out Jason's grandfather was a bartender in SoBo, I'm a little afraid he's a distant relation. Gods forbid.
OK, kids, I have to get my arse in gear to get ready to meet up with My Man and go see Thor in IMAX 3D. A first--should be interesting.
Will post more tonight if I don't get a leg over. (Although I think he missed me, so... *grin*)

Friday, May 6, 2011

On The Road Again with Fan Grrrl - Joyous Reunions

Greetings from beautiful East Bumfuck, PA!
After a day of right royal clusterfuckery (and bless My Man for his patience, ingenuity and knowledge of an honest mechanic--he missed a Bruins playoff game to do a quick safety check on the Blue Bomber that turned into two hours of ridiculousness in the rain because of serious water damage that will require rewiring the taillight panel. All done with good humor and grace and a apology because it wasn't a problem he could fix. Yes, I love him), I made it down here in seven hours--would have been 6.5--even with rush hour in Connecticut--but I hit construction in the last five miles. Argh.
ANYWAY, once I lost my Boston radio stations, I fired up the MP3 & got caught up on (most) of Talkin' Shit with Jim and Eddie. I'll listen to the last three podcasts on the road to Pittsburgh--I should be fully caught up by the time I get there. Doing 100+ MPH on the highway and laughing my ass off--THAT'S a great combination. (Along with two trenta iced coffees. Yes, I was wired.) And tonight... tonight, Jim Jefferies at the Improv Pittsburgh.
There is a part of me that feels like I'm being incredibly irresponsible, taking a road trip while everything else is going on in my life, but after this past April, I need this. Last night, I had a Girlie Night with KJ--turned her on to two Lush perfumes (and only was able to hold on to my vial of Dirty because she liked the Vanillary better. *whew* Dirty isn't available in the U.S. yet--it might have gotten ugly) and we painted our nails and just TALKED until 2 a.m. Today, I'm hoping to see her mum in Monroeville before meeting up with Tory and having an afternoon of chat and writing before a night of laughing my ass off (and yeah, if the first show is as good as the past two of Jim's I've seen, I'll stay for the second one). A dear friend from Canada is in New England, and if I make it back in time, I'll meet up with her tomorrow for an intro to steampunk, and Sunday, I'm seeing Thor not just in IMAX, but IMAX 3D with My Man. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE comic book movies? Green Lantern and X-Men are coming soon... geek out! And leave us not forget the latest Pirates.
Last weekend was a weekend of reunions for a painful reason. This weekend is all about joy and laughter.
Oh, yeah--and Celebricrush.
Review to follow, and let's hope there's no disaster story this time (and I get a decent pic with him, although the bad pic would make for a great running joke).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blog Shog: Don't Judge Me...

Hey, didya ever wonder if the Bible and the Fundies got it wrong and Judgement Day is really just going to be run like a beauty pageant?
That would be my idea of Hell.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Song is Over... Part 1, Ad Memoriam Chris Larson

The sad news came down that Chris Larson lost the battle with cancer on Wednesday. Ny heart goes out to his family, especially his parents. No parent should have to bury their child.
I wish I knew what to say.
I mean, there are a gazillion things I could say, but none of them... I've been crying off and on. I start to talk about it to people I really love, and I just start to fall apart. That's really not like me. I had to break the news to Ferd. Ferd is quite possibly one of the most gentle-hearted human beings on the planet, and the shock in his voice... he posted a lovely statement of farewell on FB that night. I haven't been able to get it together... I could deal with Marco's loss last year because it was an accident, a stupid freak accident that shouldn't have happened, no one could have predicted it would happen, but it did, and it sucked, but... Chris died of cancer. Colon cancer. ADULTS die of colon cancer, not kids like us. That's a grown up death, not the way kids my age...
But I'm not a kid any more. We're not still in high school, insulting the hell out of each other, making fun of teachers, dealing with all the stupid shit that happens in high school. We're not those kids who went to the prom, got hammered at parties, passed notes... did all those little things that shape the adult you become.
I miss Chris. I miss Luca, Pepoli, John B., Goldy, Mike, Amy, Kim, Mo, Trisha, Danni, Pam, Dave... I miss the kids we were. I hope the adults we've become are as cool and awesome as the kids we were.
My last words to Ferd on the phone the past two days have been, "Love ya, brother." Because right now, I'm feeling how tenuous life really is--how temporary every is. Except the bonds of love that shared experience creates.
And because I am Boston Irish, and because there are going to be a lot of tears over the next couple of days down at Doherty's (remember, the Irish get buried out of Doherty's, the Italians from Dello Russo), I'm going to throw in a laugh. Chris didn't introduce me to George Carlin--WBCN & HBO did that--but he DID introduce me to Carlin's famous bit, the Seven Words You Can't Say on Television. He did that in the limo, on the way to the prom, when I was head-over-heels in crush with him and trying to prove to him that the hoyden was really a lady. I blushed furiously and laughed my ass off, even though the long-line body armor under my fairy princess dress made it difficult. So this is for you, Chris. The Bruins won last night--they beat the Habs in game seven at the Gahden, and I think Horton may have gotten a little help from Heaven's newest angel. The clip ain't safe for work, but watch it and have a laugh and get in touch with your old friends. Remember the kid you were and be true to the best of it.
Today's title comes from one of my favorite songs by The Who. It was Chris's favorite band back in high school, and my crush on him was the reason I got into them. I wish you knew that, man. We fought so much about music; both of us were so damned stubborn and butted heads like mountain goats. I gave bands that I never would have a chance because of you. I'm glad I knew the kid you were; it hurts that because of the silliness of life, I didn't get to know the man you became.
Remember, kids, pride is never worth it. I learned that lesson after I'd walked away from my old friends because of the path I chose. Being right isn't the same as doing rightly, and the need to be right, to win, is why so many of us miss out in life.
I know a lot of folks in my life are going through pain right now, and it's easier to draw in and protect than it is to be open, but... try. Keep your heart open. Remember that none of us know when it's going to be over--when Whoever Is Calling the Shots decides that your ticket is punched. As long as you're breathing, you're still in the game. Everything happens for a reason (good or bad), and love... love in all its forms is the only thing really worth having.
Now, I am going to go and cuddle my cat because she is warm, fluffy, purrs in a very comforting manner, and getting very old, call my mum and see how she's doing, write another blog post, and be about my errands.
And please... if you haven't had a physical within the last year, please schedule it. Check in with your body, get the screenings that are recommended for your age group. Chris is the latest in a line of friends lost to preventable cancers. (Not casting aspersions on him--PLEASE, not doing that!) Get checked--get the pap, the scope, the mammogram, whatever. And don't think that you're too young. I found out when I was 20 that no one is too young, and thankfully, it was caught in time. Another friend of mine didn't. Please take care of yourselves.
/end Den Mother Mode
I wish all of you love.
Your Empress

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I'm not dead yet!

Hey, Folks.
Sorry it's been so long--the past two weeks have been a bit... well, "hairy" is the first word that comes to mind. "Hellish" is also pretty accurate. "Frenetic," "insane," "intense," "nervewracking," "frustrating," "upsetting," and "ridiculously busy" also come to mind.
The short version: Mum took a bad fall two weeks ago today and was rushed to the emergency room (I wasn't home; her brother was). I had to fight to get her admitted; the ER doctor missed the compression fracture of one of the discs in her back. I had to take Tuesday off from work and spent it making multiple phone calls, talking to several different caseworkers, and... yeah.
Three days later--right before she was transferred to a rehab/nursing home, I was laid off from my job.
Yep, I am unemployed.
The next morning, during my physical, my GP told me that the weird spells I've been having are caused by serious depression and stress. I've been ordered into therapy and need to find a new psychopharm because my GP thinks I need better monitoring than he can offer.
My insurance expires on April 30th.
An hour after seeing my GP, I saw my orthopaedist. Both of my knees need to be replaced. However, for the short term, I'm going to PT.
Did I mention my insurance expires on April 30th?
Yesterday, I saw my bariatric surgeon for the 2 year post-surgery follow up (four months late). Discovered that I have gained one pound since July (I thought it was more like 20; it FEELS like 20). Told him about the vomiting. The constant, regular vomiting and the fact that most food is so not my friend. He informed me that I needed to be scoped. Immediately. Because I may have burst my staples. Or could have an ulcer. No matter what, there's a problem that may require surgery.
Did I mention that I only have health insurance for four more days?
So this morning, I had The Ride deliver me to LMH at too friggin' early for me to be functioning. To be told that they couldn't do the test (I have to be sedated for it because of PTSD--basically, if I go through the tube-down-the throat-gagging test conscious, I will end up having a psychotic break at the level of stress I'm at).
Did I mention that I only have health insurance for four more days?
So, I'm off to the ob/gyn in a few minutes--I was ordered to get my arse in there, too, because I haven't had a visit from God's Final Insult since December (and I know that I'm not pregnant, sadly). And have a meeting at the nursing home to discuss/assess Mum's situation at 2:00.
Add to all of this... running to the nursing home on a daily basis... postponing the Nova Scotia vacation for a month... still need to clean out my desk... needing to clean out the house before either the bank or the uncle sells it out from underneath us... the Blue Bomber needs a new fender desperately (and a new dashboard array)...
I'm a little stressed.
What's funny is that I've had three people tell me I look happy. I find that really amusing.
On the upside... I am involved with a wonderful, supportive man whom I wouldn't trade for the world. AND I'm seeing Jim Jefferies in Pittsburgh next week. AND going to Nova Scotia once I get unemployment and insurance sorted out.
Despite the depression and stress, I feel ridiculously optimistic.
Yeah, I know. I'm nuts.
Admit it--you wouldn't want me any other way.