Sunday, October 30, 2011

Muellerween! Brought to You By My Favorite London Cabbie Ghoul!

Y'all, down below is a video by my friend Garreth Wilcock. Garreth is one of funniest, bestest, talentedest people I know. AND he's a ginger AND he has a nice English accent. In honor of October 31st, he is taking a strategic view at how to score the most and best Halloween candy in the Mueller neighborhood, where he happens to live and where he happens to sell houses via Sherlock Homes Austin.

Even if I hadn't lent a minor assist in the making of this video, I'm sure it would've turned out great. But just so you know, added bonus, I DID HELP! And not only that, when you watch it, you can help the Austin Children's Shelter, which is also in Mueller. Garreth will donate 25c for every person who watches the video between now and 11/1/11, and he'll donate up to $2500. That's an awfully lovely treat for the Austin Children's Shelter kids, don't you think?

So please, check out the video and HELP ME SPREAD THE WORD! Here's a direct link to the Muellerween video at YouTube

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Begin Anew! The Fall Garden is In! Amen!

As you can see, Rebound is VERY HAPPY. Me, too. Because AT LONG LAST we have our YardFarm Garden back up and running. See, this summer, between the drought and the effing squirrels, the garden (literally) bit the dust. I wanted to be pissed at the squirrels but I took pity since this whole apocalyptic global warming crap is making it so hard for them. Thus they turned my garden into an all-you-can-eat daily buffet, and they chewed through the irrigation hose to help themselves to much needed water and I didn't even bother to shoot them and eat them for dinner. (That really wasn't so hard since I don't eat mammals.) 

I should also take a minute to give a shout out to the clever front yard squirrel that said to hell with all that and set up shop over by the cat bowl, eating delicious processed cat food and sipping from a ceramic dish as she grew to the size of a furry zeppelin. Witness Exhibit A:

See that thing that looks like a massive tumor on the tree to the right? That is actually a squirrel. 
Anyway, following the advice of my beloved Thich Nhat Hanh, who is forever reminding us to Begin Anew, I got out there this weekend and put some plants in the ground. Some of you know that YardFarm built me three raised beds earlier this year (I should note we bartered-- I do some writing work for them). They also do maintenance. In this case, I just asked them to drop off the plants and the compost, since I like getting my own hands dirty. I spent an hour or so playing with the plants, Rebound, and the gnomes, and Warren got some new batteries in the hose timer. We are BACK IN BACKYARD FOOD BUSINESS over here. Yay! Thank you YardFarm!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Announcing the First Annual Throw Away Your Crappy, Ill-Fitting, or Otherwise Annoying Underpants Day!

This male model hearts underpants that fit right!
Well I have been meaning to start this holiday for a long time now and at long last, here we are:
The First Annual Throw Away Your Crappy, Ill-Fitting, or Otherwise Annoying Underpants Day! 
I'm talking about all kinds of annoying underpants. Maybe you bought some yesterday and they fit terribly and you know, you can't return even slightly used underpants. So what? You're going to stuff them in a drawer because you "don't want to waste them"? Really? Don't be stupid.


And the old underpants, the ratty, hole-riddled, skid-marked all to hell underpants? Don't even try sneaking those into the bag you're planning to haul over to the thrift store because THAT IS GROSS. Get RID of them. Got thongs? Well guess what? YOU SHOULDN'T. Those must go. Now.

Come on everybody. I mean it! Chop chop. Put down the fucking Internet for five minutes for god's sake already and GO CLEAN OUT YOUR UNDERPANTS DRAWER RIGHT NOW! 

For you environmentally conscious hippie freaks, it's possible that 100% cotton underpants can be tossed in your compost bin, but I'm not totally sure about that so don't hold me to it. For those of you who think old underpants are great for hanging onto for dusting purposes-- you're more wrong than the thong hoarders. And for the loser whose car alarm is going off AGAIN RIGHT NOW AS I TRY TO START THE BEST NEW HOLIDAYS OF ALL TIME-- take note: That's the 80th time this week your fucking car alarm went off and if you don't get it fixed I'm going to come over there and fix it for you. And I will be using my old underpants to help me with the job. So just stop it, now, if you know what's good for you.

Happy Throw Away Your Crappy, Ill-Fitting, or Otherwise Annoying Underpants Day, People! 

Pass it On!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thank You "COLD" Weather! Thank You George W. Bush!

Thank you cold weather. You have inspired me! Today I ate hot porridge with almonds, cinnamon, brown sugar and milk!

Then I made fresh, yummy bread from a recipe in the excellent book Warm Bread and Honey Cake that I got at the excellent bookstore Domy Books.

Now I will make amazingly magnificent vegetarian French Onion Soup using a recipe from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook.

Speaking of French Onion Soup-- remember when France said it was WRONG to go to war and so George Bush's people said NUH-UH! And then they made everybody start calling things not French but FREEDOM instead? Like FREEDOM FRIES?

Well guess what? Some people still are holding on to that tradition like -- to quote W-- "a pit bull on the pant leg of opportunity." Case in point-- Warren just got back from a road trip to scenic Arkansas. In a gas station restroom he spotted a fantastic vending machine. Here ya go:

And now, off to make some Freedom Onion Soup!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Path to Enlightenment: One Bruise, A Little Whiplash, No Egg Salad

Yesterday the dogs pulled me down and dragged me. I realized— once I’d gotten back on my feet, brushed away the dirt and gravel and determined I had no broken bones or teeth— this was yet another moment in an unplanned Come to Buddha weekend.

I think three or four out of the six of you know that I have a deep interest in traditional Buddhist philosophy as well as a field that I, personally, am developing, which I call Irish Buddhism. I might actually change the name of this burgeoning discipline to South Jersey Buddhism, since even though I claim to be Irish, I’ve never actually been to the Emerald Isle, whereas South Jersey and its attendant attitude I know like the back of a truck with a bunch of TVs “falling” out of it.

Either way—Irish or South Jersey—the concept of my personal brand of Buddhism is the same: I get to go around “enlightening” people by punching them (metaphorically) in the nose. So if, say, some douchebag is getting in my face, or yelling at his kid in public or whatever, I can in turn get in his face and tell him to quit being an asshole. (Probably it goes without saying, but let me put the disclaimer out there: Irish/South Jersey Buddhism is not affiliated with or sanctioned by Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron, or any of other Monsters of Om.)

Anyway, so among whatever other books I’m reading/listening to/Kindling at any given time, you will almost always find me in the midst of one Buddhist tome or another. Currently I’m reading Noah Levine’s Heart of the Revolution. (The reading itself is a bit metta-meta as I find myself wondering, “Hey, does this guy seem to have a pretty big ego for somebody who espouses not having an ego?”) Ego or not, Levine does a pretty good job of delivering the mindfulness lesson in lay terms and reminding readers you can have pain without suffering and that nothing is permanent, that emotions will pass.

On Saturday, just prior to a pair of back-to-back Hill Country weddings, I was reading the book as I waited for my food at the Thyme and Dough Bakery in Dripping Springs. Thyme & Dough is one of my favorite places and whenever work takes me out that way I stop in. In fact, I’d just stopped in the day before on my way to a rehearsal after spending most of the morning swinging wildly between these two thoughts:

a) I cannot WAIT to get to T & D for one of their amazing grilled egg salad sandwiches made with local eggs and pesto and goat cheese on foccacia because this is the best sandwich available in the area since you can't get real Cheese Hoagies in Texas.


b) I should not have expectations about egg salad. Expectations lead to suffering. Do not think about the egg salad sandwich. Let the egg salad sandwich desire go. It is wrong to get attached to the egg salad sandwich.

By mid-afternoon I’d worked myself into a pretty frenzied state of egg salad desire thanks to this internal debate and was about to leave the house to go get one when my son arrived, blocking my car in. Reminding myself to live in the moment, I told myself I could visit with him for a few minutes and still make it to the bakery in time to eat a sandwich and get to the rehearsal on time. I was wrong. (Maybe I should just stop here and BLAME MY SON!)

Long ago pic of mythical Egg Salad Sandwich of Enlightenment
I finally got to the Palace of Egg Salad at 3:05 thinking they were open til 4 but discovering they’d closed five minutes earlier. I went in to beg and even though they were down with selling me some croissants and pastry, there was no egg salad left to serve me. I began to feel so sad until I remembered, “Duh, I’ll be back out here on Saturday for the weddings. I’ll just get one then.”

Which is how I came to be at T & D for a second day running, and which is how I came to discover that the most delicious thing waiting for me was a big pile of irony. Because though I arrived during operating hours, I again arrived post-egg-salad-supply. (I’m telling you, this egg salad is unbelievable. No wonder it sells out all the time. Thyme & Dough Egg Salad—The U2 of Sandwich Fixins! Oh, wait, I mean SELLS OUT as in everybody wants some, not SELLS OUT as in Bono and his wife do ridiculous two-page fashion ads in NYT Mag now. But I guess you can interpret SELLS OUT either way.)

So the irony—I’m sitting there reading this book about letting go, not attaching myself to objects, and all I can think is, “Well fuck— I want a fucking egg salad sandwich, I am going to die if I don’t get a goddamned egg salad sandwich.” My nearly imperceptible nod toward “acceptance” was ordering another kind of sandwich and some soup (as opposed to, say, storming out and screaming, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE OUT OF EGG SALAD?! DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!!”) By the time my food arrived I was running late and had to wolf them down. The sandwich was only so-so and the soup was cold. Rather than grow irritated though, I found myself amused me as a funny thought popped in my head, “Buddha’s punishing you!”

My dad din't write this, but he sure could have.
Let me explain. I grew up in a house where my tyrannical father took pre-Vatican-II Catholicism, selected elements he liked, mixed in some of his own personal brand of fire and brimstone insanity, and used the resultant doctrine to psychologically terrorize us kids. One of the most common expressions I heard growing up was this, “God is punishing you.” So say, for example, I punched my brother in the head, then turned around to run away from him before retaliation and, in my haste, ran smack dab into a wall with a huge rusty nail sticking out of it. And say my eye got caught on this nail, and fell out of the socket, and blood was gushing down my face and I was screaming in agony. The joyful refrain greeting me would not be, “Are you ALRIGHT?!!” Instead it would be a smug and mocking, “Ha! God punished you!”

God punished my son when he played this. I think God should punish the asshole that invented the game. I HATE CANDYLAND!
When my son was little, I told him tales of this common phrase of my childhood and he—raised with no religion—was fascinated. Once, when he was maybe six or seven, he returned from playing a game of Candyland with my mother and reported that she’d told him (jokingly, but still) when he pulled the Plum Card, that God was punishing him. He was tickled at the firsthand experience.

So there, chalk one up to quasi-enlightenment, the dearth of egg salad did not piss me off, as it might have before I started oxymoronically clinging to Buddhist philosophy. I even tried to throw a smidgen of gratitude out there to the universe for a lesson nicely rendered. Little did I know that still more adventures in letting go awaited me.

Sunday morning, I leashed the dogs and headed out for our daily stroll. Five minutes in, I encountered a pair of neighbor boys. One was scootering, the other on foot, both wearing matching burnt orange Crocs. Let’s call them Peter and Paul.

Paul said, “I want to pet your dogs,” and before I could stop him, or pull the dogs back, he had thrust himself mid-pack. The dogs don’t bite, but still, I like to exercise some caution since Bubbles is such a bitch and loves to bark ferociously and Rebound is a fan of jumping up and smacking her front paws hard on her love recipient’s nuts or solar plexus (depending on height of love recipient). Dante, who weighs at least 100 pounds (I suspect more) is the polar bear, totally harmless except he could easily knock small kids over with his joyful tail wagging. And Tatum, since she had her stroke, sort of lists to one side and sometimes falls down, which can be scary. Collectively not a scene you necessarily want a little child hurling himself into.

But I could see, in an instant, that Paul was one of those rare kids that floats a foot or two above the planet. The dogs gently swarmed him and he buried his face in their necks. Nobody-- not even Bubbles-- barked. While Paul got his furry fill, I struck up a conversation.

“Which one of you is older?” I asked.

“We’re twins,” said one of them. "We're both eight."

“So it must be fun being twins?” I asked, realizing too late they must already, even at their young age, be sick of this question.

“No,” they said together.

“Oh, well I guess that’s all you know,” I said. “And all I know is not being a twin, which is why being a twin seems neat to me.”

“Actually, we’re enemies,” one of them said. He said this as cheerfully as if he were announcing he had a great knock-knock joke for me.

“Enemies? Really? What’s that about?”

“Well, actually we’re 95% enemies and 5% friends,” the other said, equally pleasantly.

“That’s too bad. Maybe you’ll work it out,” I suggested.

“Oh no! We won’t. We’re enemies!”

“How did it get started?” I asked.

“We had a big fight when we were five.”

“Really? When you were five! Well what was the fight about?”

At this, Peter looked at me, thought for a second and said, “I can’t remember!” And then he laughed.

Then they spotted their nature teacher and headed off to greet her. The dogs and I made it another half-block and then we encountered the boys' dad. I stopped to tell him how wonderful his kids are and repeat the excellent conversation I’d had with them. He told me that Paul, the dog lover, apparently has a way with all animals—to the point that deer will approach him. He also told me Paul lives with a massive tumor in his chest and a series of metal rods in his back.

“Is he in much pain?” I asked.

“Don’t know,” said his dad. “He never complains about anything.”

We drifted to other topics until the dogs, perhaps tired of the conversation and unable to resist any longer, decided it would be a fun idea to eat a cat that was sitting on a nearby lawn. The sudden yank of 230 lbs of dogs simultaneously pulling hard at four leashes caught me totally off guard. In an instant I was in one of those slo-mo scenes. As if in an out of body moment I could see my own face, and I could see the street, and I knew with full clarity that the two were about to make very instant and very hard contact.

Which is when something really weird happened. A muscle memory from eleven years ago kicked in and, despite the fact I was still holding four leashes, I somehow managed to get my arms into the right position (like a triangle) to break my fall properly. I lay on the ground for a moment, where I'd come to rest after being pulled a few feet by the dogs, and the boys’ dad said, “Are you alright?”

Surely sounding like the biggest dork of the century, I said, “Yeah! Martial arts training!” by which I meant that all those hours in the Taekwondo studio years ago had just paid off. Not in the form of me snapping the neck and crushing the Adam’s apple of an attacking stranger on a dark night as I always thought would be the case, but instead saving me from my own clumsy self. I had an instant memory of the time in eighth grade we were in gym class, walking out to the track, and I fell DOWN a curb. Never dawned on me to even put my hands out to break the fall. I slid across the asphalt on my face, spent hours in ER having gravel scrubbed out with a metal brush, and killed a front tooth leading eventually to my fake, $1200 Lee Press-On Tooth (purposefully lightly stained by the dentist to capture the affects years of smoking had on my other, real teeth). That was then. This was now. I fell like I’d been trained by masters of the World Wrestling mat.

What surprised me most, though—more than the fact that I didn’t break my wrists, elbows, shoulders, orbitals, nose, knees or teeth— was that I didn’t cry. I don’t think I even yelled out. I just got up, dusted myself off, and, trying to ignore the adrenaline coursing through me, casually said, “So, you were saying?”

And we really did resume the conversation just like that. My ensuing state of shock was not related to the impact (though admittedly today I am sporting a bit of a bruise on one arm and I have some mild whiplash in my back). Instead I was shocked at my own reaction—or, more accurately non-reaction. I suppose I could chalk this up to Noah Levine or some other Buddhist teacher, or even the Lesson of the Missing Egg Salad Sandwich. But I’m giving credit to those two cheerful little Buddha boys, aware of but not attached to their sworn frenemyship, refusing to let some steel rods and a big tumor interfere with the moment at hand.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Dick Monologues Presents: You're What's Wrong with the Holidays!

UPDATE: Y'all-- I posted this info the other day. There is a link to my email that works for some folks but not others. If the link doesn't work for you, you can cut and paste my email address: -- that's where to send a note if you want to reserve seats. Thanks. sg

Hey Y'all,
Well we had such a goldang good time with our last You're What's Wrong with America show, and we had such a long waiting list for tickets that, that's right, WE'RE DOING IT AGAIN! This time the show will also be a benefit for Hyde Park Theatre. We'll have lots of new readings dealing with our latest topic: You're What's Wrong with the Holidays! (And those of you who love the holidays-- despair not. Apparently a couple of our cast members share your bizarre sentiments and will address the reasons why in their pieces.)

Tickets sold out super fast last time. Don't wait to reserve your seats. The way you do that is by sending me an email. Here are details for the show:

WHO: The Dick Monologues
WHAT: You're What's Wrong with the Holidays!
WHERE: Hyde Park Theatre
WHAT TIME? 7 pm (arrive at 6:45)
WHAT FOR: A) the hell of it  B) HPT fundraiser C) All of the above!!
HOW MUCH? $10 or more if you want!
WHAT ELSE? We'll have lots of delicious cold beverages (hard and soft) available for your donations.

Hurry up! Reserve your seat! And please pass this on!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's Good for One Business Might Not Be So Good for Another

Before I tell you today's most excellent story, allow me to clarify: the above picture has nothing to do with the story. I just like the picture, part of a new movement I've decided to found called Art on the Spot. How the piece came to be: I was at this cool new space, The Snug, which is adjacent to and owned by Tom's Tabooley, and they had those little battery operated candles. I couldn't stop playing with them, pretending to blow them out and then unblow them out. And then, as I was holding two together, I thought, These look like eyes. So I got out my iPhone (RIP Steve, couldn't have made this art without ya) and googled mouth and then I put the whole thing together and, voila, I know I know-- I'M A GENIUS!! Now it's your turn. Email me your Art on the Spot masterpieces and I'll post the winning pictures here. (email:

Now, as for my story. So, last night I went to an open house at a wedding venue. This is a chance for me to meet other vendors and schmooze with engaged couples to convince them they must hire me. It was a bit of a slow night so there was plenty of time for me to chat with the other vendors. A woman and I were talking about how, once you do a certain number of weddings, it can be really hard to remember names. How true this is-- I think I must meet at least 4,000 people a year through weddings. Okay, not meet them as in have a conversation with everyone, but meet them as in my head keeps filling up with more and more and more faces.

I told the woman that I reached a point of such confusion-- not just at weddings but in my day-to-day life-- that once I walked right past my son in a restaurant. Not only that, but it wasn't a random run-in-- I had a date to meet him. (In my defense, I like to point out that my son was wearing a hat at the time and, best as I can remember, the last time he'd done that was right after he was born. So the hat was a red herring or whatever.)

I told this woman that I was toying with an idea to help me avoid constant confusion. Maybe I could use my iPhone to snap photos of couples when I meet them so that when I see them again for their wedding-- sometimes as far off as a year later-- I'll actually be able to identify them. And the woman says... I shit you not... That's a great idea! My gynecologist does that! Really? Uh, I don't think I want to see those pictures. (Well, at least she didn't say it was her proctologist.)

Speaking of conversations at weddings and wedding related events, at long last I have started a blog to reveal pictures and stories about my job. Because, you know, I didn't have enough blogs already. You can check out the latest offering right here. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Introducing My New Mascot

Warren and I spent the past week reacquainting ourselves with the concepts of "rain" and "cold" up in Maine. I also fielded emails and phone calls accusing me of killing Steve Jobs with my last post-- a welcome reminder of how powerfully I am perceived to be. And, too, I got a hell of a lot of knitting done. So overall it was a most excellent week.

Best of all, though? I acquired a new friend and mascot. His name is Yeah! The Affirmative Moose! You may call him Yeah! for short. He watched over us as we drove our rental car through perilous and gorgeous moose and bear territory up by Canada. And now he has a new permanent home on the dash of the Cube so that anytime I need to be validated-- e.g. "So, Yeah!? Regarding this current argument with Warren I'm having, you agree with me, right?" -- Yeah! will nod his head in enthusiastic agreement.

What a great new addition. Dashboard therapy at the ready. Thank you Yeah!