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!

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.

“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?