Today is March 6th, and this is significant.

Good morning! I have a few announcements.

One: Next week’s posts will come at you from a different time zone, as we’ll be visiting family and friends in France. I plan to post on Tuesday and Friday at around the usual time, so we’ll see how that works out. Also, I’m thinking there’ll probably be more images here than writing next week. I’m not anticipating having much time to write while we’re overseas, but I know a lot of pictures will be taken!


My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.

My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.


Two: Today is my brother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Bro! (Trivia: Callaghan and my brother are the same age almost exactly. They were born in the same year, 10 days apart.)

Three: Today is also the 17th anniversary of the opening day of The Big Lebowski in the United States.


17 years ago today, the Coen brothers introduced Americans to The Dude. Can you believe it’s been that long? I can’t.

“The Dude abides.” That three-word quote is genius. The Dude’s paramount personality trait is being laid-back to the point of almost-apathy, but rather than being apathetic, he’s just free of constraints (especially self-imposed ones)! He does care, in his way. He teaches us how to live in moment, and how to prioritize. For example, getting thrown into a police car is secondary to the more immediate and pressing concern of the beverage in his hand that’s in danger of spilling in the process. It’s easy to see why some of The Dude’s admirers would take it upon themselves to create a religion (Dudism) after the sub-cultural icon who embodies “go with the flow” to the point where he simply abides.

I’m not cool enough to exist in a perpetual state of moment-by-moment abiding. In addition to roaches and Costco, my two legendary hang-ups, I can think of several things by which I cannot abide. In honor of the Dude, He Who Has Been Abiding for Seventeen Years Today, I will present you with those things.

I CANNOT abide by:

1). Dubbed movies.

2). Celery.

3). More than two consecutive days of overcast weather.

4). Doing the ginga to Thai music instead of to Afro-Brazilian capoeira music. (This is my only Les Mills annoyance. Would it be so hard to throw a birembau into that Body Combat music tracklist, Les Mills?)

5). The little “silica” packets you find in such things as new bags and outerwear pockets.

And on that note, I’ll wish you a Happy Friday!

New Year’s Resolutions and 2014 Favorites!

Just over a week into 2015, I’m finally posting my “2014 Favorites” list with the little things I enjoyed the most, reached for the most, or just generally all-around dug the most last year.

Some things that landed on my Monthly Favorites lists in 2014 turned out to be notable UNfavorites, such as the Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain lip color, which started out feeling great, but ultimately caused my lips to flake off, and the T.V. series Stalker, which started out fun, but ended up proving to be a big disappointment.

Before we get too far into the New Year, I also wanted to share my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions with you, especially since one of them ties in nicely with these “Favorites” posts. I have two resolutions this year:

1). Get more sleep!! (7-8 hours/night)

2). Switch to cruelty-free skincare products, cosmetics, hair products and other personal care items as much as possible.

I plan to make every effort on that second one, but I’m looking sideways at my beloved Korean Epielle facial sheet masks and the Jergens Natural Glow gradual self-tanning lotion that keeps my legs from blinding my Body Combat class with their natural snowy whiteness.

I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but I’ve been too intimidated by the challenge, and too reluctant to spend money on expensive products. Things are different now, though, and I’m not anticipating any difficulties in finding great, budget-friendly, cruelty-free products. The time is right! Throughout the year, I’ll refer to this list on, as it’s meticulously updated. For instance, if a brand starts to sell in China, a country that requires animal testing on products, a warning will pop up on the list.

As for that first resolution about sleep, I’ve already got a good start on that one, thanks to the stomach flu. I actually blame sleep deprivation for coming down with that bug in the first place. Callaghan gets more sleep than I do by several hours per night, and he did not get sick. Silver lining to the stomach flu: I have a fail-proof incentive to make sure I get enough sleep on a regular basis! Adequate sleep keeps the bad things away.

So, as I was starting to say before I veered off into resolutions, of all the things I’ve listed over the months of 2014, some stood out more than others. There were T.V. series and movies that left us speechless, foods I couldn’t get enough of, and products that were game-changers. Some of the things on this list didn’t even appear in the Monthly Favorites lists, so they’re appearing here for the first time.

That being said, onward with this sampling of some of my favorite little things from 2014. I’ll start with products, since they follow my cruelty-free resolution (see… I got a head start)!


1). Face: Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.


The facial cleansing wipes that changed my life: Alba Botanica's Hawaiian 3-in-1 clean towelettes.

The facial cleansing wipes that changed my life: Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian 3-in-1 clean towelettes.


This is advertised as a makeup remover-cleanser-toner product, but the refreshing, invigorating wipes quickly became my go-to facial cleansing product in harried times, and I’ve been re-purchasing them continuously. I don’t use them for removing makeup… I use them in lieu of actual cleansing on days (or nights) I don’t have time for the whole soap-and-water thing. Without fail, I use them on Saturday mornings before putting on sunscreen and heading to the gym. I jump in the shower as soon as I get home, and I don’t see the point in washing my face “for real” twice in a morning (I do put sunscreen on twice, though).


2). Cosmetic: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original.

My favorite eyeshadow primer by Urban Decay.


Urban Decay is one of the high-end cruelty-free brands. I don’t mind splurging on their eyeshadow primer potion, because each tube lasts forever, apparently, and it works so well. I’ve been using my current tube for almost a year; I finally picked up another one just because I figured it’s got to end any day now, and yet that was almost two months ago, and it hasn’t. It’s magic!


3). Fast food: Chipotle’s sofritas (tofu).


My go-to fast food nosh: Chipotle burrito bowl with Sofritas

My go-to fast food nosh: Chipotle burrito bowl with Sofritas


Chipotle’s black beans and brown rice were always a good enough reason for me to enjoy going there, but now they’ve completely won me over with the brilliant creation of their vegan sofritas dish. It’s basically a hearty, spicy, perfectly seasoned tofu chili. The omnivorous Callaghan loves it, too, because its texture is pretty much the same as ground beef. An omnivore would never take a bite of this and say, “I’m eating tofu.”

My standard Chipotle order is a burrito bowl with sofritas, brown rice, black beans, grilled onions and peppers, pico de gallo, hot sauce, lettuce and guacamole. I don’t mind paying extra for the guac. It’s one of my favorite things in the world, and I value the addition of the healthy fats!


4). Beverage: Sumatra ground coffee from Starbucks.


Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.


“Beverage.” I just love that word. Careful, man, there’s a beverage here! I’m just so pleased that we stumbled upon some really good coffee on the humble shelves of Target, I can’t even tell you. I don’t drink a lot of coffee every day, but I like the coffee I do drink to be solidly satisfying. Starbucks’ ground Sumatra kills it.


5). Protein bar: Clif (snack size) Builder’s bars.


Clif Builder's Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar


Clif Bar makes my favorite everyday treat. As far as protein bars go, the snack size bars aren’t terribly high in protein (10 grams – it’s a small bar), but they’re higher in protein than your average candy bar, certainly higher in protein than most treats with only 140 calories, they’re nutrient-dense, there’s nothing bad in them, and they are, for the most part, vegan. The peanut butter ones are my standard 10:00-10:30am snack at work. If I have one after dinner instead, I go for the chocolate mint.


6). Activity: Body Combat.




An hour of someone guiding me through a kick-ass cardio workout in which I can practice almost every martial art I’ve ever studied? Yes, please! This is like cardio shadow-boxing at someone’s command (mostly bad music notwithstanding). All I have to do is show up. It’s fun, it’s an awesome workout, the instructors are fantastic, we’ve met some wonderful people there… it’s a no-brainer!


7). Big Thing: XXL WaveMaster heavy bag.


Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.


Practicing my form in Body Combat is one thing, but cardio shadow-boxing only whets the appetite for the next level. I did a drop-in kick-boxing class at a place with bags one day last year, and the surge of excitement as I made actual contact and worked with a partner had my head swimming with twinkly visions of heavy bags, target mitts and medicine balls ever since. Then Christmas rolled around and Callaghan’s gift arrived. Awesome!!


8). Small Thing: Travel cup from Starbucks.


Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.


Not one, but two Starbucks products on this list! What is happening?! I remember being tempted to travel back through the dusty spring desert to Blythe, California early in 2014 to get this travel cup where I first spotted it, but then hitting numerous Starbucks stores around the Valley, instead, until I found it here. I’m so glad I did. I’ve become kind of embarrassingly attached to it. I carry it with me practically everywhere at work, and it starts a lot of conversations with various aspects of its design. I love it just because it’s awesome, though.


9). T.V.: The Killing, Homeland and The Good Wife


HOMELAND (Season 4)


Here we have a murder mystery/crime drama, a spy drama, and a legal drama. All of our cliffhanger needs were met in 2014. Figuratively speaking, our nails were bitten to the quick during these shows (especially during Homeland last fall, holy smokes)!!

Honestly, we saw so much good T.V. in 2014, I had a hard time narrowing it down. We loved House of Cards, The Following, True Detective, Hannibal and Mad Men. For comedies, we love Modern Family and Bob’s Burgers. Our token fluff comedy is Hart of Dixie. Gotta have the fluff!


10). Film: Edge of Tomorrow, Nightcrawler and The Babadook


I love action, intrigue and terror, and between these three movies, 2014 delivered big time with this excellent trio of releases. That reminds me – American Sniper was released yesterday!!

That about wraps up this list – I’m looking forward to the fantabulous little things of 2015; in the coming year, expect to find mentions of books, articles and music (along with lots of cruelty-free products)!

Happy Friday, All. =)

Tamales, and other stories.

Good morning! My head is deep in a work project, but I’m emerging to present three vignettes of the last week (varying in degrees of quirkiness):


1). T-Shirt

I colored my hair on Friday, and it occurred to me that every time I do, I reach for the same t-shirt… not only that, but the only time I ever wear that shirt is when I color my hair. In light of the momentous realization that I have a designated hair-coloring shirt, I thought I’d honor it by doing a hair imitation of The Dude, who is pictured on the shirt.


I forgot to put on sunglasses, though.

I forgot to put on sunglasses, though.


I went with Dark Auburn this time, by the way, returning to my natural reddish shade (courtesy of my redheaded biological father).


2). Auto Service

We turn onto University from Roosevelt several times a week, at least, so I don’t know how it is that I never noticed the establishment RONNIE’S AUTO SERVICE until a few days ago.

You know this had to happen:


This was too easy, but we couldn't resist.

This was too easy, but we couldn’t resist.


I know, I know. But “Ronnie” by itself just isn’t right, especially if we’re talking about a service establishment. The Wrah-Wrah is a very helpful little guy. RONNIE JAMES’ AUTO SERVICE.


(This picture was taken in France. I knew I’d find a use for it one day!)


3). Tamales

On Saturday night, I went out to enjoy the company of some friends at a country-western gay bar known as a popular dance venue, attended by gay and straight alike. As usual when I go out at night, I enjoyed the people-watching aspect the most. The late-night crowd looked to be typical as a whole, but one person stood out: An elderly Hispanic woman slowly making her way through the room holding a sign that read “TAMALES.”


Fresh homemade tamales... mmm.

Fresh homemade tamales… mmm.


She looked like a sweet old Grandma, totally out of place.

Sometime after midnight, we left and went to another LGBQT-friendly bar. This one was more upscale and situated in the Melrose District, and it was also a dance club spilling over with an energetic dance crowd. To my surprise, the same woman was there, weaving silently through the sea of people with her TAMALES sign.

It had been a long time since I’d been down to 7th Avenue in the wee hours of a Sunday morning.

“I’ve never seen anyone selling tamales in a club before. Is this now A Thing?” I asked, using the parlance of our times, as The Dude would say.

My friends hadn’t seen tamale vendors in clubs before, either. We jokingly speculated that TAMALES was a new gay bar code word of some kind, but now that I think about it, there’s nothing funny about it.

It amounted to a sad social commentary. The old woman is probably very poor, so she goes where lots of people gather (neither bar had a cover charge – admission was free), including gay bars in the middle of the night. It was nearly 2:00AM the last time I saw her. People tend to get hungry after dancing for hours, and I can see how homemade tamales would be a tempting prospect… especially if you don’t have to go anywhere to get them. It’s actually kind of a genius idea.

Now I wish I’d bought some tamales to bring home to Callaghan, who would have enjoyed them. Making tamales is a time-consuming undertaking that’s not something I’d do more often than once in a blue moon. Even at Christmas, I’d order my tamales from Los Sombreros or Manuel’s.

Speaking of moons, the Blood Moon of the lunar eclipse last night was splendiferous.

A Personal Note on the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

I thought I’d take a moment and join my incredulous voice with the thousands of others on the internet regarding the dominating cultural event of the weekend, and I’m not talking about the Super Bowl. I write about movies and pop culture a lot here, anyway, so I think it makes sense to share my reaction.


 July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014

July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014


On Sunday, when Callaghan broke the calm silence of our morning to blurt that Philip Seymour Hoffman was dead – the half-pause-prefaced audible raised eyebrow at the end of his statement being the damning clue that this wasn’t a hoax – my reaction was physical: my eyes instantly dampened, and my lungs sucked in air suddenly and forcefully, involuntarily, the way they do when you’re slammed in the stomach, and I shouted NO! as my fingers ransacked the keyboard in a fruitless search for evidence to the contrary. It can’t be true. But the reality of the situation darkened the room the more I looked. The lights were on, but the dim and shock lingered. I keyed in WTF NO on Facebook and spent the rest of the day swallowing back tears, a cloud like an open gut suspended above my head. I didn’t let a single tear fall because I felt like that would make it more real, but I was surprised. I don’t cry easily; that my reaction to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman was so visceral rather astonished me. I’m one of many who felt his death as a personal loss.

It just never occurred to me that there could be such a thing as a body of cinematic and theatrical work absent of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s genius, but that is what we have before us. Who is going to play all the parts he would have played, and so resoundingly make us believe that only he could have played them?

In the words of Brandt, “Well Dude, we just don’t know.”

Scenes from a Birthday Weekend

Friday was my birthday, so I thought I’d inundate this space with some pictures! Surprise! heheh.

First, a brief reflection: I’m now 45. Honestly? The only way I feel different is better than ever. I’m grateful to have no health complaints, I’m happy to finally have a use for the cute reading glasses I got in France, and I’m eager to set off down whatever path the New Year unrolls before me. I always loved how my birthday blends into the New Year, being at the end of December… I never thought of my December 27 birthday as being “unfortunately” lumped into Christmas. It’s all about the New Year, as far as I’m concerned.

Recently, I broke open a cookie fortune and got a fortune that catches my current drift splendidly:


The fortune I got a week or so before my birthday.

The fortune I got a week or so before my birthday.


Oh, the magic of a fortune cookie! “Creative energy is up – capitalize on it.” Yes. Yes, that is true, and yes, I will!

So, we spent the weekend at some favorite local haunts. First, Callaghan took me out on a lunch date. Deciding where to go was easy – I just wanted to satisfy my craving for Pita Jungle’s certifiably to-die-for lentil fetoosh salad. (The spellcheck wanted to change “fetoosh” to “fetish,” which is pretty clever. That salad has some serious addictive properties.)

The weekend also involved:

–A pedicure with Callaghan. Well, initially it was going to be just me, but shortly after we got there, he found himself getting his feet rubbed, too…the ladies there were quite persuasive, but it took little arm-twisting to get him in the chair next to mine. As the forty minutes of expert and intense foot and lower leg pampering and massaging wound down to its conclusion, he looked over at me and exclaimed, “Wow! I can’t wait for your next birthday!” I think he enjoyed it.


My Big Lebowski-inspired nail color selection

My Big Lebowski-inspired nail color selection


The deep, shimmery greenish-black nail polish I chose is OPI’s “Live or Let Die,” but it should be called “YOU WANT A TOE? I CAN GET YOU A TOE. THERE ARE WAYS, DUDE.” (Though this polish is darker than the Big Lebowski Nihilist Chick’s.)

–A detour through Papago Park on our way home.


Papago Park - one of my favorite places!

Papago Park – one of my favorite places!


Callaghan and his shadow

Callaghan and his shadow


Me and my... cactus!

Me and my… cactus!


–Also, after several months of Homeland deprivation, seven episodes suddenly became available… so we holed up for some serious binge-watching.


Ronnie James settled himself on Callaghan's legs to catch up on Homeland with us.

Ronnie James settled himself on Callaghan’s legs to catch up on Homeland with us.


–And there was the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game on the 28th…


Sun Devil Stadium bore the banner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the show-down between Michigan and Kansas State on the 28th.

Sun Devil Stadium bore the banner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the show-down between Michigan and Kansas State on the 28th.


–We didn’t go to the game, but we went to sit on the patio at Rúla Búla for a little while…


At Rúla Búla, December 28, 2013

At Rúla Búla, December 28, 2013


On our way out of Rúla Búla, I glanced up at one of the T.V. screens and winced on behalf of Michigan, because I’m partial to the Wolverines, and man, that score was painful. Final Score: Kansas State, 31; Michigan, 14. Oof.

At least the Wolverines and their attending fans got to hang out in paradise for a couple of days. I’m here to tell you, there’s hardly a sight as gleeful as a Michigan fan skipping down the street in Tempe, Arizona WEARING SHORTS AT NIGHT at the end of December!

–Strolling home, we admired Mill Avenue’s holiday lights, which always stay up until after New Year’s:


Holiday lights on Mill Ave

Holiday lights on Mill Ave


…and here we have my beloved mill, street-side:


The street-side building of Hayden Mill at night.

The street-side building of Hayden Mill at night.


I guess if I could marry any building, it would be that mill, haha!


Walking by the light rail station at 3rd St.

Walking by the light rail station at 3rd St.


–And, of course, there was the Ronnie James.


Ronnie James birthday hugs.

Ronnie James birthday hugs.


It was a lovely weekend, and I’m ready for 2014!

“The Dude’s not in. Leave a message after the beep.”

A while back, we were watching something, and there was a reference to boiling a bunny. Hart of Dixie, perhaps? I think it was Zoe Hart… she was talking to Lavon or someone about Wade – or maybe about George? – saying something along the lines of, “I’m not going to boil his bunny or anything like that.” (I could be misremembering this. Maybe it wasn’t Hart of Dixie at all.) Whatever the case, it made me snicker, and it brought to light an important information deficit. Callaghan didn’t get the reference. It turned out that he didn’t know anything about boiling bunnies, because he’d never seen Fatal Attraction. This threw me off. Callaghan got his American citizenship (he has dual French/American citizenship status) back in 2003, and I don’t know, I guess I’d just assumed that familiarity with Fatal Attraction is some sort of requirement. I mean, shouldn’t it be on the citizenship test? How can you claim to be an American if you don’t know about Glenn Close boiling a bunny? The cliché has become as American as baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, as the old commercial jingle goes. It’s circa 1980’s American Pop Culture 101 material.

So we watched Fatal Attraction, effectively rectifying the situation. Now, Callaghan has all the background he needs on Glenn Close and boiling bunnies, and he is enriched. His life is complete. What would he do without me?

Being dedicated pop culture afficionados, we ventured downtown Friday night to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Ritz) for The Big Lebowski Quote-Along, so we could sit in a theater with a bunch of fellow Big Lebowski geeks and shout out the famous lines captioned on the screen (lines we all know by heart, anyway), waving our glow sticks for The Jesus and swinging our oversize blow-up baseball bats to show Larry what happens when you fuck a stranger up the ass. Our waitress brought a White Russian for Callaghan, a tall glass of ice water for me, and a huge metal bowl of the best movie theater popcorn we’ve ever had.

The timing was great, since we’d been overdue for a Big Lebowski fix. Satiated, we emerged from the theater onto the thumping street. 6th Street in Austin at almost 2:00 on a Saturday morning looks like this:


Austin closes off vehicle access to 6th Street during the night on the weekends. The bar-hopping pedestrian party needs all the space it can get.

Austin closes off vehicle access to 6th Street during the night on the weekends. The bar-hopping pedestrian party needs all the space it can get.


6th St, Austin (6/28/13)


6th St, Austin (6/28/13)


Even the going-home was entertaining! The bus that took us back to our apartment is dubbed “The Night Owl,” but it should be called “The Party Bus,” because that’s exactly what it is. From 6th Street to our apartment. Direct.

No In-and-Out Burger on the way home for us, though. Nor music by the Eagles. You see what happens, Larry?