Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Very Special Holiday Mix CD

[Photo by Steve Hopson]

For someone who can't stand the holidays, I sure can't seem to shut up about them, can I? Well, to me, that's part of the problem. You can't ignore it. I know this because I've tried. Yesterday, to distract myself, I came up with a Mix CD with lots of dark, depressing or just plain old loud or weird (or bad or all of the above) versions of Christmas songs. These I tempered by tossing some good, klezmer-y Hanukkah tunes into the mix. The new CD by Berran Aaron Cohen is most awesome (the songs I've heard, anyway). I love that Chaka Khan does Do You See What I See. And I've forever been a fan of Neil "Jewish Elvis" Diamond faux-sincerely belting out tunes in honor of the Baby Jesus. There's a bunch of other cool stuff I found-- all I had to do was google: "depressing christmas music" and much of my work was done for me. I was, I must say, psyched to find out that Conor Oberst has a Christmas CD. Check out his rendition of Blue Christmas here.

And now, the set list for the CD mix known as BAH!

1. Christmas The Who
2. Father Christmas The Kinks
3. Dreidel Erran Baron Cohen
4. Blue Christmas Bright Eyes
5. Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas) The Decemberists
6. Xmas in Jail Asleep at the Wheel
7. Little Drummer Boy Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
8. Driedel, Driedel Meshugga Beach Party
9. Feliz Navidad El Vez
10. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) Neil Diamond
11. Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah Erran Baron Cohen
12. Do You Hear What I Hear Chaka Khan
13. The Chanukah Song Adam Sandler
14. Fairytale of New York Kirsty MacColl & The Pogues
15. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem Bright Eyes
16. Dreidel Jingle Punx
17. What a Friend We Have In Jesus Tiny Tim
18. Baby, It's Cold Outside Tom Jones
19. Christmas Time for My Penis The Vandals
20. Heat Miser Lushy
21. Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah (Hora) Brave Combo
22. Don't Shoot Me Santa The Killers
23. Chanuka Jingle Punx
24. White Christmas Stiff Little Fingers
25. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch Thurl Ravenscroft
26. Silent Night Jingle Punx
27. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) Joey Ramone

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Spike "Scrooge" Gillespie Mistaken for Santa's Helper!

Okay, this is too rich. So, thanks to the generosity of too many people to name here, I was able to round up a good bit of support for the family that recently lost their young husband/father. The young widow now has four kids to care for on her own and her mortgage is in arrears and she owes the funeral home a small fortune. But members of the Office of Good Deeds, and my neighbors, and some others kicked in cash and HEB gift cards and gifts and toiletries and... it was all overwhelming in a great way.

Then I got an email from Toy Joy-- I'd asked if they might help a bit despite the nightmarish retail scene right now and the fact that they no doubt get hit up regularly for donations. A manager reviewed my request and they donated an awesome fake tree (much like the one I bought at their Fake Tree Lot only mine is smaller than the donated tree and also mine is black-- of course it is.) They also donated a bunch of toys for the kids. I headed over to TJ and loaded up the car. I'd been driving around for a couple of days, unable to reach my friend who is a direct friend of the family in need so she could get the goods from me and deliver them.

Unsure what to do, I decided I would just have to drive over there and drop the stuff off myself. I had the family's address but not their phone number. Now, I am a complete stranger to these folks. And they are dealing with the aftershock of a very intense trauma. I'm not fond of knocking-without-advance-warning even under good circumstances. So my trip over there, the closer I got, the more I worried. What if they freak out? What if they think I pity them? (I don't pity them-- I just want to help because lots of people helped me so often over the years.) What if, what if, what if?

Then I think, Screw it, just quit worrying and knock. So I knock. Someone asks who's there. I say it's me, friend of their friend. A tiny woman opens the door and I sputter out who I am and why I'm there and that I have a tree and some toys and an envelope with some checks written to the mortgage company and an HEB card. And-- oh thank you thank you-- the woman lights up and thanks me and is receptive to all this.

She sends a young man out to carry the tree in and I follow him with the bag of toys. He gestures me inside, which I'm tentative about. It's not my intent to invade their private space, just drop and run. But I do as I'm told and step inside and there are several little kids and they're just looking at me like Who the heck is that?

Then one of them moves closer and says, Are you Santa's helper?

To which I respond with a laugh-- more like a shocked choking noise disguised as a laugh. Me? Santa's helper? Did y'all not get the memo on Spike's Feelings About Christmas?

Apparently not. My choke-laugh instantly melts into a desire to burst out crying. I'm as hyper sensitive and wired and anxiety prone this time of the year as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, as the saying goes. So I beat a hasty retreat. But not before the mom gives me a hug and one of the little kids shouts out, Bye Elf!!

After that, it was all a blur but I think I might have accidentally let slip a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Wish You a Merry Porn Dog

My latest bit of extremely popular genius is now posted over at the Austinist. You can read it here.

If you like it, please recommend it.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Will Work for Dog Food!

Well, it didn't take long for the Wall Street bullshit to trickle-- nay, gush-- down here to little old Spike's casa. Courtesy of soaring unemployment, a freeze on most lending, and sundry other factors, nearly all of my paying work has either dried up entirely or slowed to damn near a full halt. Clients are slow to pay-- totally understandable but still hard to swallow. And so I'm sitting here looking at a stack of bills that's causing me to grind my teeth even more. (Yes, I wore the damn night guard last night, since I can try to meditate into oblivion the bad dreams it spurs, but I cannot currently afford to pay for the real damage the grinding is doing.)

These days, though I am typically a major news junkie, I only listen to/read the news in short bursts. Ironically, I read two articles about how reading about the economy is making everyone more crazy. So I'm laying off of NPR's Marketplace and only skimming NYT. Because if I don't, I'm going to succumb to the craziness, too.

That said, during my allotted two and a half minutes of listening to NPR yesterday, I happened to hear an analogy, presented by a cancer survivor, about getting through all this recession shit. He said when you're facing off with cancer, all you can really do is move forward, strategize the next round of treatment, and keep going. There's little if any time to sit around and wallow in self-pity.

That resonates for me on a couple of fronts. In 1997, a grapefruit sized malignant tumor was found wrapped around my left ovary. It was removed, along with the ovary. At the time, I was in the middle of a horrifying divorce and, while the good news was that it was a rare time in my life I had insurance, the bad news was this insurance was part of my estranged nutcase's policy. Which meant, since I suddenly had a pre-existing condition, that the only way to continue having insurance-- which I needed in case more malignant cells showed up-- was via a COBRA plan.

For those of you unfamiliar with COBRA, it's this guaranteed right to keep insurance at the cost of... well cost varies but in my case it was around $500 a month. A friend of mine, a bankruptcy lawyer, when informed that I couldn't possibly pay both COBRA and my bills, told me to not worry about my credit cards. Of course I did worry, but I stopped paying them. I had no choice. This eventually led me to a bankruptcy filing which still haunts my credit rating. But I don't care. I did what I had to. There was no seven hundred billion dollar bailout for me. Just a lot of hard work, which I've continued to do, and a very slow climb back to a place of semi-decent credit.

The other thing the cancer patient's observations recalled for me were all those years when I struggled and struggled to stay afloat as a single mother trying to make it as a freelance writer. Occasionally, I broke down and took office jobs. Mostly, I soldiered through, forever awaiting the next check which, often enough, was late. Again, I did what I had to. Once in a great while I'd allow myself to lay down and weep over how scary it all was. Or I'd stay up late into the night crunching numbers, fantasizing how one or two big assignments, if I could just get them, would keep us afloat.

One Christmas, when Henry was ten, I became acutely aware of how tuned into my financial stress I was. He had managed-- through gifts from friends, birthday cash, and sales from an art auction he held-- to amass $167, which he presented to me one Christmas morning with a supportive pat on the back. That made me cry so hard-- I was so proud of him for his selflessness but I felt like shit that I had unintentionally let my anxiety seep heavily into his little world which, like all parents, I had hoped I could infuse with a sense of no worries.

So here I sit, fending off the panic. A truly big step back, coupled with a deep breath, let's me see that my situation is nowhere near as bad as that of many folks. I've got a number of gigs lined up for 2009 and, it's looking like, two very small book contracts that will help me eke by. So the reality is, or at least I hope the reality is, that this current financial nut-twisting is maybe going to keep me wincing for, at best, another eight weeks.

In the meanwhile, I'm feverishly searching for some piecemeal work to tide me over. I even applied to be the blogger for a natural dog food company -- they pay a little cash and some free dog food. With four dogs, you know, that's no small thing.

If you hear of any gigs -- folks that need copywriting, bad jokes, knitting advice, or command performances of Dick Monologues, by all means, do let me know, eh?

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Info on How to Help

Okay everyone, here's an update. I now have the name of the funeral home and mortgage company for the family I posted about yesterday. If you can help-- even with just a few bucks-- please email me: and I will tell you to whom you should write the check and how to mail it to me. I'll gather all funds and drop them off directly at the mortgage bank and funeral home.

Other ways to help:
HEB gift cards and/or new or gently used gifts for the kids (and their mom) are much appreciated. I am offering to sweeten the deal thusly: if you will send me gifts for them, I -- Spike "Scrooge" Gillespie-- will personally wrap them and deliver them for Christmas. My mailing address is:

P.O. Box 4843
Austin, TX 78765

Info on the kids:

There are three girls and 1 boy.

Girl #1: 11 years old
Coat Large
Shoes 5
Pants 12
Shirts 10/12

Girl #2: 8 years old
Coat Med/large
Pants/dresses 12
Shirts 10/12
Shoes 1-1/2 or 2

Girl #3: 6 years old
Coat Medium
Pants 6
Shirts 6
Shoes 13

Boy: 5 years old
Coat Medium
Pants 5/6
Shirts 6
shoes 13

Thanks so much for any help you can offer,

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I just received the following email from one of Henry's all time favorite teacher, a woman who constantly does good deeds. I responded telling her I would put the word out as far and wide as I could. I also emailed her asking to send me the address where we might send donations and also the ages of the kids. I, personally, will pick up your donations if you can't mail/drop them off. The misfortune that has befallen this family, while it would be awful any time of the year, is surely compounded right now with the holidays.

Even if you can only spare a buck or two or a gently used gift, if enough of us kick in, we can help with the funeral and maybe a few gifts for the kids. I ask that you please share this with any friends/groups you have that might want to help. Folks can email me directly if they're interested and I will compile an email list. As soon as I have more details, I'll send a note directly to interested parties and we'll make something good happen.
Thanks for all the good deeds,

Here's the note:
Dear Spike,

Seasons Greetings!

I have been up all night problem-solving this dilemma and I have worn myself ragged with this one. I have decided that I need help. I am the ministry leader for the Dorcas Women's' Ministry circle at my church. One on the young ladies (31) has lost her husband after a long struggle with sickle cell. She is not prepared for any of this as there are four children and, no insurance and the mortgage is two months in arrears. The Church has asked for donations but it is a large building with a small congregation. There is no date set for the funeral because there is not enough money to date. King Tears Funeral Home is being very gracious and allowing her time to work this out. I am able to do some but I cannot do this one alone. I need help with this one. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


A. Renee Dailey

"People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?" - Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Wolfie!

[It is impossible to stand next to a 6'2" string bean and not wind up looking like a pregnant hunchback.]

Well, I'm a couple of days late posting this, but my darling little baby, Henry Mowgli, turned EIGHTEEN this week. I am still trying to wrap my head around this one. I probably called him forty times that day to wish him a happy birthday and he endured this telephone assault as patiently as he could. What a child! I mean what a young man! So kind and compassionate and hilarious. As is my annual tradition I asked him if he might want to get down on the floor with me and re-enact his birth. As is his annual tradition, he rolled his eyes very far back and declined the offer. Eighteen-- I cannot believe it. Happy Birthday, Wolfie!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My friend/boss/tech guru Julie tries to teach me some tech stuff sometimes. She really got me immersed in this whole Web 2.0 stuff. And today, she was able to show me how I had goofed up some RSS thing so that...

Well you know what? The truth is I'm still not entirely sure what she did to fix what I broke. Or even what I broke. So I can't really explain it to you now, can I? But it's all fixed now and she told me to post this note to tell y'all you can subscribe to my RSS now. So please do that. If you know how.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Never Mind Twilight, I'm Your Vampire

Okay Folks,
I am unofficially now Austin's Official Vampire connection. Just got a request for some B Negative Blood for a critically ill young lady over at Seton. If you have B neg blood and can help out with a donation, please email me ASAP at

Oh, universal donors also welcome, of course.

Fangs a lot!

Good God There's A Lot of Great Stuff this Weekend

I already mentioned the Hyde Park Theatre benefit Saturday night. And all weekend there's the EAST tour of artists' studios in the 'hood. Now, about Sunday...

First of all, the Empty Bowl Project is happening-- a bunch of great singers are singing and you pay $15, you get a locally made ceramic bowl to keep, they fill it with gourmet soup made by local chefs, then they wash and wrap the bowl for you to take home. That's from 11-3.

And THEN... The African Children's Choir is performing a very early show at The Parish-- Doors at 4, music at 5. They will be joined by Kacy Crowley, Guy Forsyth, Bob Schneider, Carolyn Wonderland, and Band of Heathens. It's $25 and all the money goes to build a school in Uganda. You can read all the details about that show here. And there's also a link in that preview that gives info on the Empty Bowl Project.

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be resting and taking it easy but it's going to be hard to stay home this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


[Ken Webster-- aka Mr. Smooth]

For going on two years now, the wonderful Hyde Park Theatre, helmed by the astounding Ken Webster, has been the gracious home to the Dick Monologues. Earlier this year new owners took over the building and, as a result, HPT has seen their rent DOUBLE which, for anyone is a drag. But for a tiny, non-profit group, well it's a downright hardship. HPT is one of those places that makes Austin Austin. We do not want to lose it. I sure hope you'll join the cast of the Dick Monologues and come out and support HPT at a fundraiser this Saturday night, November 22nd. It is going to be most excellent fun. It's a sliding scale admission charge, so even if you're on a tight budget it's doable. The price includes drinks and food. And even if you can't be there, you can still kick in a few bucks.

Here are the details:

Hyde Park Theatr just received three B. Iden Payne Awards, including Outstanding Comedy for DOG SEES GOD and Outstanding Director for DOG SEES GOD.

That's the good news.

Our rent has doubled at HPT.

That's the bad news.
But there's more good news! This Saturday, November 22 at 9:00 PM we'll be having a fundraiser at HPT. We'll have live music by Hans Frank and Glambilly, lots of delicious beverages, and lots of savory food from New World Deli and Go Go Gourmet. Tickets are a sliding scale between $10-$50.

Come on out and meet HPT company members and enjoy some great music, food, and drink. We'd love for you to come out this Saturday to help us continue to provide our award-winning programming, but if you can't make it this Saturday night you can still contribute by sending a check to HPT at 511 W. 43rd Street, Austin, TX 78751 or by using PayPal on our website at To find out more about the fundraiser, or to make reservations, call 479-PLAY.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Calling All Good Deed Doers

Not long ago, via the Office of Good Deeds, this blog, and Twitter, we were able to help find emergency blood donors for a very sick newborn. Since we did such a good job helping out, we've been asked to help another critically ill Austinite. Please see below. If you can't help personally but can help spread the word, please do. Contact info is included. Thanks, spike

> This plea comes from a friend of mine. She's trying to get the word
> out for Josh Talbot, a UT student who is critically ill and in
> desperate need for bone marrow donors. There will be a bone marrow
> registry drive at the Flawn Academic Center 12/1-12/5. Even though
> they might not find a match for Josh, there are dozens of other Joshes
> out there awaiting their matches. Additionally, there is a desperate
> shortage of minority donors on the Bone Marrow registry.
> There will also be a platelet drive here in Austin 11/29. These
> donations will go directly to Josh. I will be participating in both
> and hope you will think about it too.
> Recently published articles:
> ow_donors
> please let me know if I can provide any information.
> Sara

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Little S&M Pony

Doesn't that My Little Pony just ROCK? Over at my blogging gig we're trying to come up with the first (and best) new official game to go with the release of the new Google Voice App. It's SO fun. You tell your iPhone, via Google, what you're looking for. And then you get all sorts of answers, some dead-on, some utterly ridiculous. Like, I said, "Pornography" and the search return gave me "My Little Pony." I could do this all day.

Check out the post here and please put your ideas for a game in the comments section.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dick Monologues FREE TICKETS if you can tell me...

Okay, two free tickets to the Dick Monologues (Wed, Nov 12th, 7 pm Hyde Park Theatre), to the first person who emails and correctly tells me the last knitting project I completed. I will throw in a round of drinks if you can guess the brand of yarn I used.

For those of you who aren't into contests or are very bad guessers, you can still buy tickets for Wednesday's show. Just email me at to make reservations.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick!

We STILL have a few Dick Monologues tickets left for this upcoming Wednesday, November 12th, Hyde Park Theatre, 7 pm. I've been a little slow marketing these past ten days or so due to the surgery stuff. Please let me know if you want tickets and please help me spread the word.
email: for reservations.

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Post Up at the Austinist

I've got a new column posted over at the Austinist. Surgery is in three days. Anticipation is wreaking havoc with my ability to sleep but, other than that, I am super excited.

If you like it, please recommend it.

Still More (G)obama!

Last Sunday I got a sneak peek at International Quilt Fest 2008. The show is now open to the public (and I highly recommend the drive to Houston to see it). But last week, it was only open to vendors, shop owners, and a small handful of us who are lucky enough to get early passes. They've got a political installation-- heavily left I was happy to see (and I heard that no one was interested in making a Palin quilt). Above is one I really dug.

Signs of the Time

I live in the hood on a pretty busy, main thoroughfare. A couple of months ago, the neighbors a couple of blocks down went and got Texans for Obama signs for anyone interested. As it turned out, everyone was interested and overnight we became Obama Alley, with signs lining the street, up and down, on both sides. A lot of people took notice and I'd run into friends who didn't live anywhere near us but who'd seen our display.

Well, a thief also took note and, a few nights ago, went up and down the street and stole every single sign. This late in the game it's hard to come by new signs, but when I called the Turn Texas Blue folks the other day, they said a shipment of 2,000 was on the way. So I drove down to HQ yesterday and bought fifty. It was a madhouse down there-- so great how excited people are getting even if some of them strike me as total freaks. By which I mean, yes, I walked in there, saw everyone, and immediately started a narrative in which we all can get along, and life is great. Then some folks started opening their mouths and when I heard how cranky they were I was eager to get the hell out of there.

Twenty or so of the signs were designated for neighbors who answered my post to the neighborhood listserve taking orders. Another twenty-one of them I planted in my own yard. As I hammered them in, I realized I was channeling my father. No, I don't think he could've wrapped his head around voting for Obama. But he was the sort who, when he had something to say, would think nothing of painting a huge message on one of his old cars, or covering up those cars with bumper stickers, or blasting Christmas music through our outdoor speakers. In July.

My message, beyond support of Obama, was directed at thieves who might likely not drive through again, but so what. It was Oh Yeah? Take that! And that! And that! You wanna steal my sign? Fine, I'll put up twenty-one more!

I am, for now, bringing the signs in at night. But if I get too lazy/busy to keep doing that, I also have enough backups to have the first batch stolen and just keep putting up more from now til the election. And I have to say, the lawn looks quite lovely.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Okay, Which One of You Jokers...

Pitched me to the Discovery Channel? I got an email yesterday from a producer for a home improvement show and they want to know if I'd like them to come and spruce up my house. I actually love this idea. Not sure if they'll follow through and actually pick me to be on, but at least they want to talk about it. This both amuses and excites me. I have no idea how they found me.

A couple of years ago, back when I was in that miserable marriage, we had a chance to be on a different TV show. I am not joking when I say there was a non-disclosure clause in the hundreds of pages of legal paperwork that said if I ever mentioned what the show was they could sue me for SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS (hahahaha) but I did sign the paperwork. So I can't tell you the show, only that had we been involved, it would've called for our "family" (how loosely I use the term) temporarily trading out someone/something in our house for a similar someone/something in someone else's house. We actually made it to the point where they were planning to fly us out to LA for a screen test but then we got a mysterious call during which a faux-apologetic producer, clearly reading from a cue card, said she was so sorry and all that, but they changed their minds. She wouldn't say why.

I didn't care but my then-husband got really stressed out about the whole thing and pouted for a good stretch. I think he thought that show was going to be it, his ship arriving, his ticket to fame, his forty-year delayed dream of being discovered as a rock star finally realized and blah blah blah. Whatever.

I'm not worried about fame or being discovered. A nice paint job, maybe a little free landscaping, now that would be nice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dicks and Bicycles

My latest column just posted at the Austinist. It's called Like a Fish Needs a Man.

If you like it, please do recommend it.

Meanwhile, tickets for the November 12th Dick Monologues are on sale and moving right along. We have a very, very special guest/surprise for you in November. Email me if you want to make reservations: and please help spread the word.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Austin 2.0 Negative (that's a positive) I LOVE THIS TOWN

Yesterday afternoon around 2 I got an email from Allen Chen, my big dog editor at the Austinist. A friend of his needed help-- his sister-in-law had an emergency C-section to deliver her twins 2.5 months in advance. One of the babies needed O negative blood, fast, could I help find donors.

So I emailed the Office of Good Deeds list-- which I hadn't done in a long time. And I emailed folks who'd been to the Dick Monologues. And I posted a note here. And I Twittered. Or Tweeted. Or whatever the hell you do over there. And someone picked up my Twitter and re-Tweeted. Within an hour nearly a dozen O negative donors from around the city contacted me and offered to drop everything to go donate. I heard from a donor in California. I heard from someone out of the country offering to donate immediately upon return. And lots of people, even though they weren't O negative, wrote to send good wishes.

I sat here at my desk totally weepy all afternoon at this amazing response. It would have been emotional under any circumstances but my gratitude was heightened because, as I mentioned in my call for help, when Henry was born he was in gravely critical condition. It was unclear if he was going to live-- in fact I wasn't even sure he was alive when I delivered him. He spent several days in NICU and so many people reached out to us with support, love, prayers, the whole nine yards. That was eighteen years ago and memories of having a little baby in intensive care are still vivid. It's a trauma you never forget-- a newborn wired up, on the brink.

I passed along all blood offers and good wishes to Jason, Allen's friend, and the family was able to put together a very strong donor list. I also told Jason not to worry about responding to me-- obviously he has a lot to deal with. But he took the time to write last night and told me it was okay to share his message, and so I will. Here's his note. But first-- thank you more than I can say to all of you who helped get the word out and who donated or offered to donate. A super big shout out to Bev Shaw who was the first to respond and who gave blood immediately. Okay, the note (the picture above is of the twin that needed the transfusion):

I just wanted to thank you both again for all that you did, and were
willing to do, today. We really, really, really appreciate it. I
took these pictures of my brother with his twins last night, several
hours after his wife's placenta ruptured forcing the emergency
Caesarean section that delivered the twins 2.5 months early (this
coming 1.5 months after an operation to treat twin-to-twin

The first baby pictured is the one that I emailed about. She was born
without a heartbeat, but doctors were able to bring her to life after
four minutes. She is only two pounds and was apparently in need of
blood because of all the samples that are being taken for various
tests to diagnose problems she may have suffered from delivery. She
had a transfusion today and may need more depending on continued
testing, which is why I'm now keeping a list of donors should we need
more. We're overwhelmed and feel truly blessed by the response and
generosity of all those willing to help, and we'll keep everyone
posted as the doctors tell us what is needed.

The second baby pictured weighs three pounds, and the angle is
somewhat deceiving; both babies are about the size of my brother's
face. She is doing much better than her sister, but both will remain
in Seton Hospital for up to six weeks (I heard they might keep them
until what was the expected delivery date in late December). My
brother's wife is still recovering in Seton as well, and I suspect
she'll be there for a while too as the procedure was pretty hard on

Again, I want to thank you both for everything you've done and were
willing to do today; it means the world to us. Spike, feel free to
share this message with anyone else who offered help or would like an
update on the situation.

My deepest gratitude,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


If so, and if you are in Austin and can donate today, a brand new premature baby really could use your help. Please email me asap: and I'll hook you up with the details. I love this town so much-- I have already had four donors materialize in under thirty minutes. Thanks to everyone who helped get the word out. Henry was a NICU baby and I won't ever forget it.

Again-- if you are O NEGATIVE and can help-- please do.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bubbles The Reading Dog

In the interest of posting something with the hopes of actually writing again soon, I give to you the above photo of my favorite dog, Bubbles (shhh, don't tell the other dogs) reading her favorite magazine.

The Job Market

It's been forever since I posted. Crazy busy. Hope to put up a real post soon. Meanwhile, this video rocks so hard:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Because Tonight's Debate Isn't Going to be Exciting Enough

There are some excellent games you can play while watching/listening to the debate tonight.

The first is Palin Bingo!

The second was sent to me by my buddy Jaycee. It is the VP Debate Drinking Game-- if you google that phrase you'll come up with several variations. Here's the one I received:

Tonight's debate is (like America's future) all about reduced expectations. If Sarah Palin manages to remember what office she's running for, she will have managed expectations. If Joe Biden manages to make it through the night without calling Gwen Ifill a "gorgeous negress," he will have beaten his debilitating gaffe addiction. But what about the other 90 minutes of bullshit? Let's make it fun — or hazy, at least — by drinking away the terror.

Take a drink of wine or beer when the following occurs:

PALIN evades a question by mentioning state rights.
BIDEN says he takes the train home every day.
PALIN fills time by listing all her kids, by their ridiculous names.
BIDEN talks about Scranton.
PALIN blames Iraq for 9/11.
BIDEN blames McCain for 9/11.
PALIN says "like" as a White Trash discourse particle or interjection.
BIDEN audibly laughs at Palin.
PALIN stares blankly when she can't answer a question.
BIDEN makes a sarcastic joke that goes right over Palin's head, along with about half the viewers.
PALIN says anything comically idiotic about Russia or Canada.

The following situations call for One (1) Shot of Liquor:

PALIN doesn't know what FDIC or SEC stand for.
BIDEN admits to plagiarizing the Constitution.
PALIN admits to dealing meth.
BIDEN references Palin's stump speech insult — where she claims she's been hearing about Biden's Senate speeches since she was in second grade — by saying there's no evidence Sarah Palin ever made it to second grade.
GWEN IFILL asks Sarah Palin about incestuous rape.
PALIN insults Biden for having hair plugs.
BIDEN calls her "another tanning booth whore, and I've know a few."
PALIN says "lipstick" in any context.
Finally: Three shots and throw the glass at the TV if:

BIDEN calls palin a "hockey pig."
PALIN pulls off her pantsuit to reveal a confederate-flag one-piece bathing suit, and she looks fat, and the audience boos.

New Obama App-- Free and Cool: Get It!

Hey Y'all,
My boss at LaunchPad Coworking got to be one of a handful of beta testers for a new app that was just released. It's very cool and if you have an iPhone, you should get it. Really. You can read all about it here.

Burlesque the Vote!

Hello Everyone,

So, with all the dumbasses "running" the country (into the ground), yes, it's getting more and more difficult to suspend disbelief and believe our vote actually counts. But I'm trying to keep the faith and, along those lines, I beseech you to come out to Burlesque the Vote at Antone's on Friday, Oct 3rd. Monday is the last day you can register to vote, or make changes to your current voter registration. Pretty please-- make sure you're signed up.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shana Tova!

Happy New Year, Y'all,

Yes, it's another Jewish Holiday, my favorite kind. (I think we need to start Talk Like a Jewish PIrate Day come to think of it... Shiver me gefilte fish! Ah-OY maties!

I'm celebrating with The Largest Challah Bread Ever Made. It started out so small and innocent but you know how that yeast stuff can be. Before I knew it, I was looking at enough challah to feed everyone in the Old Testament and then some. See for yourself:




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Making Whoopie (Pie)!

[Fairy House photographed by Patty Bright my new BFF.]

Oh yes yes YES! I LOVE IT HERE. I posted still more about my adventures over at Knitting and Yoga Adventures, and more still at my column for the Austinist this week. I think they call this Web 4.0, but I just call it lots of opportunities for travel writing. Knitting Camp is SO FUN! I mean, the other day we built Fairy Houses!

And we got to eat homemade Whoopie Pie! Here's a picture I call Still Life with Whoopie Pie:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fighting Back (Sick Fucks Part II)

This just came across my desk. For about the same price you'll have to pay for that home pregnancy test to find out you're so screwed because abortion has been outlawed... you can get political and have some fun. Here's how:

Instead of (in addition to?) us all sending around more emails about
how horrible she is, let's all make a donation to Planned Parenthood.
In Sarah Palin's name.

And here's the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her
name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has
been made in her honor. Here's the link to the Planned
Parenthood website:

Scroll over DONATE and click on the HONORARY OR MEMORIAL DONATION link.

You'll need to fill in the address to let PP know where to send
the 'in Sarah Palin's honor' card. I suggest you use the address
for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:

McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
1st Floor
Arlington , VA 22202

Sick Fucks

Do we need any more proof-- no really do we-- of what a bunch of sick fucks the Bush administration is? Okay, if you insist.

Here you go.


It be International Talk LIke a Pirate Day! And so, in honor of that, here's one for ye al:

A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel hangin' out of the front of his britches. Bartender says, "Matey, you got a steering wheel hanging from the front of ye britches!" Pirate says, "ARRRRGH! I know! It's driving me nuts!!"

Speaking of nuts-- only about ten tickets left for the Oct 8th Dick Monologues. Don't wait, mateys. Email me for reservations today:

Off to shiver me timbers!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spike n' Ike

I have this thing about hurricanes... they excite me. Am sitting here waiting for my Galveston friends to arrive along with their four VERY LARGE cats. Spent an hour this morning driving around like an idiot looking for a shelter to drop off a bunch of water, granola bars, soup and dog food. Got lost. Got lost again. Got lost some more. Thought about that scene in the original (campy) Batman movie from the sixties-- one of my favorite lines of all time: "Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb."

So I still have a carload of supplies for evacuees and it turns out, of course, there's a drop-off spot three blocks from my house. DUH. It opens in a few hours. By then I expect the granola bars will be melted.

Meanwhile, over at the Austinist, after a bit of a delay, my latest column just posted. If you like it, please recommend it. It's all about hurricanes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tonight Tonight! Me and Mr. Jones (Mr. Jones Mr. Jones Mr. Jones)

Hey All Six of You!
You have heard me gush for years and years about my favorite songwriter of all time, Mr. Southpaw Jones. We're lucky to call him an Austinite. He plays Thursdays at Flipnotics in the Triangle and he is our token straight white dude in the Dick Monologues. Paw just released a new CD and to celebrate, a bunch of us are doing something a little different.

Tonight, at BookPeople, Friends of Paw will be giving dramatic readings of his lyrics which truly are poetry in motion. Please do join us. It's absolutely free and the lineup is really super fantastic. Much fun, I promise you. Here are the details:

7:00 pm
Celebrating the lyrics of CRUELTY!
603 N. Lamar
(512) 472-5050

Readers include:

Kristine Kovach
Spike Gillespie
Lindsey Lane
Laura Lane
Robin Chotzinoff
Rudy Ramirez
Ben Bartley
Brian Kremer
Amelia Gray
Idgy Vaughn
Maggie Wilhite
Jaycee Wilemon

See ya there,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Missing Molly

I've been thinking a lot about Molly Ivins during this it-would-be-hilarious-if-it-weren't-so-damn-scary Republican National Convention. Molly was my great friend, my unique mentor, and a gift to everyone who knew her. If she were still here with us, she'd be having a field day, I'm sure. Which is why I was so grateful today, when I was reading coverage in the NYT, I came across this reader comment:

The late Molly Ivins, champion of women's rights and enemy of the crooked and anti-feminist good-old-boy network, might have said of Sarah Palin after her acceptance speech: "Women voting for this ticket is just like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders!"
— Kate Madison, Depoe Bay, Orego

Thank you Kate.
Thank you Molly.

New Austinist Post: Gillespie and Palin-- Separated at Birth?

There's been a lot of confusion out there-- people have been getting me mixed up with Sarah Palin. So, to dispel and clarify, I've written about our differences for my column this week in the Austinist.

If you like it, please recommend it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Three Cheers for Dick

Boy did we have a great show last night. Thanks to everyone who came out and filled the house. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Tickets for the October 8th show are already zipping out the door, so don't wait to make reservations-- email me at

In other news, the slowdown of posts continues as I am in the final push on the book deadline. Am turning it in on Monday and then I'm going to collapse for a few days. What a summer-- five trips in seven weeks to meet and interview textile artists all over the country.

My new post at the Austinist should be up sometime later today so, if you're trying to kill time at work, keep an eye out for that.

Your exhausted friend,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why I Love The Internet!

Because it fosters deep, meaningful exchanges between total strangers. For example, I just went to to check on the status of I-35 South. I'm teaching in Round Rock, need to get back to Austin in a timely fashion, and I-35 South has been closed for hours due to a wreck-- a tractor trailer caught on fire. While looking for updates, I found the following exchange of helpful comments from readers:

By ben
August 22, 2008 10:21 AM | Link to this
It looked like a mexican truck to me.

By benisanidiiot
August 22, 2008 10:25 AM | Link to this
Dear Ben, You are a moran. you probably just masterbated.

By Frank
August 22, 2008 10:37 AM | Link to this
At least he didn’t commit two spelling errors in two sentences.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Best Kind of Art Show

I had dinner last week with my pal, the amazing singer-songwriter Tricia Mitchell and she was telling me about her son's upcoming art show. Ben is... wait is he four or five? Anyway, he's a little guy, really smart and funny, and he came up with this idea for an art show, and he planned it out, including some great online marketing-- talk about 2.0 savvy. Sunday is the big day.

Unlike some artists, who once they pass the age of, say, fifteen, sometimes succumb to an irritating self-importance, or at least get overly attached to their work, Ben hasn't succumbed to any of that. His price of admission is a bargain at 50c. And, once patrons purchase works, they are invited by the artist himself to head out to the garage and, if they want, "Make the art more beautiful."

Ben works in a number of mediums, including photography and drawing. He keeps a blog, along with a couple of samples, right here.

I loved hearing about this because it recalled for me the days when Henry was very little. Being an only child with a lot of adult friends, he often had two parties per birthday. One was kid-centric. The other was packed with big people. I'd make homemade pizza and dark chocolate cake with raspberry filling and fresh whipped cream on top. Good times. In 1998, on the occasion of his eighth birthday, he decided he wanted to sell his art. So we hung it on the walls, and on a string hung across the living room. His prices were reasonable. Until...

There was this one mixed-media piece-- wax paper, autumn leaves and crayon shavings-- that two people wanted. They insisted on bidding. This made me uncomfortable but I was shushed and sent to the other room. Soon, everyone was bidding on numerous works. In the end, I think he netted $67, most of which he bestowed upon me as a surprise Christmas gift.

The tradition carried on for years, until he got to that one birthday where he woke up, and sort of like the Saturday Night Live skit about Picasso, decided it was fine to hastily dash off a number of super quick works. I believe they were ball point pen on typing paper. No matter-- his fans gathered as ever and ate it up.

Anyway, I hope you'll check out Ben's blog and, if you're in the neighborhood, maybe you'll swing by and pick up a piece of his art.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August Dick Monologues: SOLD OUT

Hey people,
Sorry if you waited to get your tickets. We are sold out but there's a waiting list. If you want to be on the waiting list, or would like to be on a list for September info, drop me a line:


Spike On KUT TODAY at 4:44

Hello All Six of You,
If you want to hear my sexy voice on the radio, tune in to KUT today at 4:44 and listen to my review of Beth Burns' production of Twelfth Night, playing now at Scottish Rite Theatre. My written review of the show should post soon at The Austinist. AWESOME SHOW. Go see it!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Than a Handful's a Waste: Dick Tix Going Fast

There are only a few tickets left for the August 27th Dick Monologues. So, people, do not wait. If you want tickets, email me today:

Garreth Thinks The Ham Wasn't Worth $100

I've got a new one up at The Austinist about a little adventure Garreth and I took. Actually, Garreth cowrote the piece and as he is a brilliant, hilarious, red-headed, Oxford educated Brit with a sense of humor drier than Clint Eastwood's face after he walks for days through the desert in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, I highly recommend reading it.

And if you like it, I ask you to recommend it, too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Unbelievable! American Airlines Gets Their Shit Together!

Okay, in the interest of fairness, I just have to say this about American Airlines. Not only did they leave Seattle on time last night and get us home early, today I (finally) got an email from customer service about our lost luggage adventure last month. They said they were sorry that they could not refund my $30 luggage fee. This made me roll my eyes. Then they said I should click on the link and check out an evoucher they sent me to be used toward future travel. I rolled my eyes further, figuring, great, I'll get a $30 coupon to use toward a $500 ticket to fly on an airlines that screws me 9.7 times out of ten. So I was pleasantly surprised, albeit puzzled, to see that that they gave me $150. Not sure why they prefer to do this over just sending me thirty bucks, but I won't question it. So, the moral of the story is this: it pays to complain. Sometimes.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Buck Stops Here

It is, regrettably, my last morning in Astoria. In a little while, we're off to Portland and then on up to Seattle so I can interview a couple of quilt artists for the book. There are too many things I love about this little town to list. A big one is the spectacular view no matter where you turn. Another is that it's impossible not to relax here. And a third is that it is, by my standards, practically cold. When I left Austin, it was 100 degrees. When I caught a connecting flight in Phoenix, it was 103. Here in Astoria, we actually have had a fire in the fireplace the last couple of nights and I sleep outside, in a tent on the deck, under about twenty blankets.

This morning, there were four bucks out in the garden, including one that had a bunch of something-- looked like a cross between Spanish moss and a yarn winding experiment gone wrong-- wrapped around his antlers. Even the deer are totally chill here and let me take some pictures.

Oh, and the trees and flowers are marvelous. And yesterday Eleanor and I got to borrow two brand spanking new, shiny happy cruisers from the bike shop. We rode down to the dock where the sea lions hang out and bark and burp. Now I'm back at the Blue Scorcher for one last cup of coffee and the easy camaraderie that makes talking to strangers not the daunting task I often find it. I just wolfed down a still-warm-from-the-oven nectarine scone. And I'm already plotting my return trip next year.

Cruising In Astoria:

Outside the Blue Scorcher:


The View: