Sunday, November 19, 2017

I! Am! Home! Officed!

Thanks to the helpfulness and humbling generosity of a friendly benefactor — along with his last-minute tech support to correct a tear in the space-time continuum that resulted in a ludicrously backward-scrolling track pad — I now have a techie-cool PC laptop complete with brothel-red backlighting on the keys. (I’m positively SCANDALIZED by the brazenness of it all!)

Thanks to the chronic shitpile black hole of knowledge, competence and customer service of Best Lie, I also have a fancy second monitor that I was guaranteed — after asking repeatedly AND after the salesidiot literally opened the box and looked at everything it contained before he sold it to me — included all the cords I’d need to connect it to my new laptop ... WHICH OF COURSE IT DIDN’T BECAUSE WHY WOULD ANYTHING BE DIFFERENT FROM THE LAST TIME I WAS MISLED AND PISSED OFF BY BEST LIE? But I found an HDMI cable from who knows where in a jumble of cords in the back of a cabinet at home and I put myself back in business. I can sometimes accidentally look like I know what I’m doing like that.

Plus! I dug out a gay-ass shattered-mirror lamp and a handsomely upholstered leather chair from my storage locker and I am now a member of the computer generation! The jet set! The projector sector! The laptop hipchat! The trackpad smackdown! The mouse house! The cable cabal! The monitor speedometer!

I’ll stop now.

You do realize that putting random, pointless quotes around stuff makes you look illiterate, right?

Of course you don’t.

Fun fact:

The distractingly tan, scruffy, handsome man in the Raiders coat who keeps conspicuously circling past you (seven times once you notice and start counting!) as you wait for your Hy-Vee brunch party is not even a little bit flirting with or stalking or even noticing you. This will become devastatingly apparent when his equally stunning wife joins him after getting what was apparently a highly complicated beverage from Starbucks.

Stupid Raiders.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dah ditditdit!

I fell asleep listening to 91.7 on the couch earlier and woke up in the middle of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, and now I’m climbing into bed as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 blares through our speakers. No matter how cold and rainy and dreary your day may be, there’s really no better remedy in the known world than a fuzzy blanket and an evening of bombastic Romantics. Good night!

Driving around with a burned-out headlight is as embarrassing as walking around with a dribble of pee on your pants

You just hope that if you look straight ahead and keep your eyes only on the road everyone else will do the same and nobody will notice.

29 years ago today

I'm so thankful our family comes from hearty stock. I still have vivid memories of the night Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, the moment 29 years ago today that she came out of her anesthesia after her mastectomy, sitting with her as she got her chemo, watching her take off her wig and remove her prosthetic breast after her chemo so she could get the sleep she needed to keep up the fight. But more importantly, I remember how she wouldn't let breast cancer control her life. I have even fonder memories of her traveling to DC -- one of her favorite cities -- with us, and of her smiling in all our pictures with the slight orange tint of a chemo patient. Of her volunteering for Reach to Recovery, a program that paired breast cancer survivors with new breast cancer patients to answer questions and act as survivor role models and give hope where often there is none. And most importantly, I remember how we all chose to laugh instead of cry over the entire situation. It turns out that a prosthetic breast can be very funny, especially when it's used as a giant nose on a drawing of a face, when it makes uncontrollable farting sounds against sweaty skin on a hot day, and most especially -- and this is one of our family's favorite stories -- when it's put away for the night on a stack of hotel towels, only to fly across the room and SPLAT! against the far wall when the top towel is unknowingly pulled off the pile in semi-darkness. 

We're lucky as a family to have all of this -- and while we celebrate that my mom is still with us, we will always mourn the loss of the people who aren't.

The outsides of my shoes match my socks and my shaker bottle

The insides of my shoes match my stalwart heterosexuality.

Flashback Friday: I Wonder What Happened To That Shirt Edition

Remember when I didn't even pretend to be subtle about taking flexy selfies?

Me neither.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

When you’re in a basket in a basket IN A BASKET

... and it’s the most exponentially cat place you could be on the planet so you’re concatually obligated to stay where you are even though that asshole paparazzo Jake won’t get out of your face with his damn iPhone so you refuse to even flash him your trademark Bitch Kitty ScowlTM just to spite him.

I. Am. Four.

The recent discovery of this meme has left me laughing way too long and way too hard for someone of my age, maturity and comportment:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Earning interest 

I just had my annual review with my financial advisor, and he’s mapped out a number of highly plausible scenarios where as long as I meet certain milestones regarding retirement and Social Security I’ll be able to live comfortably until I’m 92, which is awesome because 92 WHAT THE HELL 92 I DON’T WANT TO LIVE TO BE 92 ACK KILL ME NOW INSTEAD NOW NOW NOW!
Then I came home to Bitch Kitty shifting her feline wiles into ovpurrdrive trying to get me to come close to her and let my guard down under the pretense of getting to rub her irresistibly furry tummy and finally be her friend only so she could shatter my illusions of mammal-kingdom self-worth by abruptly hissing at me and ripping my veins out. Which would at least save me from living to be 92.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Let it OW!

When you fall asleep sitting upright on the couch and you wake up an hour later with your head still upright but a whole body width to your right and your spine angled like a wickedly curving stretch of highway that would be ominously nicknamed The Widowmaker in a TCM Film Noir best-of weekend marathon, you can really feel like a Disney princess.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I’ve got a taste for livin! I’m thinkin’ cold Blue Ribbon!

Because a befeatherhaired Patrick Swayze rockin’ mad disco chaînés in a long white scarf, that’s why.

Sweet 16!

Happy 16th birthday to my delightful niece, who has grown from being a squirmy toddler who refused to be snuggled to an adorable little girl who charmed everyone into giving her cookies and hosted clown- and cheerleader-themed birthday parties to an inquisitive student who’s rocked at basketball and tennis and cello and show choir and debate to a kind, talented, brilliant young woman whose passions for academics and social justice (and I suppose I should mention the Dodgers) inspire all of us to be better people.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How embarrassing!

donald put the question mark INSIDE the quotations! And just when he was finally acting presidential. Sad.

Orchestra Iowa intermission in my beloved Paramount Theatre!

We just heard Mozart’s sprightly, nimble (well, they’re all pretty nimble) Piano Concerto No. 21 (from house left row J on the aisle where I don’t think there’s any better vantage point in the city to watch the pianist’s nimble hands) and now we’re about to wallow in the glorious bombast of Beethoven’s mighty Symphony No. 5. And before the concert we both ATE KALE.

It doesn’t get any more Just Can’t Even than this!

Things to do when you’re alone in the gym on a surprisingly pumpy arm day


Friday, November 10, 2017

How to decorate like a lazy person

Instead of following your brilliantly tasteful vision of deep marine-blue walls with putty-gray trim, find a blue that works with the sissy-yellow painted and pink-undertone woodgrained trim you already have. Because who has time to paint all that damn trim?

Juliet balcony

Cedar Rapids Science Station building, née Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station
Spanish Colonial Revival

Flashback Friday: Twinsies Edition

This painting hangs one room away from American Gothic in the Art Institute of Chicago. But with me standing next to it, it's hard to tell which painting is which. I can be quite a chameleon that way.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

My sister literally asked me to take a selfie with my niece outside the auditorium after Newsies tonight

Out of the blue. With no warning. I wasn’t even aware that my phone had selfie capabilities so I obviously wasn’t familiar with the technology, but fortunately there were some “tech-savvy” (as the students say) students (as they call themselves) nearby who patiently taught me how to use the selfie functionality on my phone correctly, safely and responsibly. So here is my first-ever attempt, which I wouldn’t even have if it weren’t for the supportive wisdom of my sister:
But anyway. Newsies. Wow. Disney selected my high school’s theater department as one of five in the country for their first school licensing of the show, no doubt because of the groundbreaking work I did there when I had the lead in Oedipus Rex when I was a senior and we all know that emotionally and morally labyrinthine Greek tragedy + unworldly high-school actors = transcendent theater magic and I hate to brag but it’s staggeringly obvious that you can draw a straight line from the sticky stage blood matting my eyes shut on that stage in 1985 directly to tonight’s epic “Seize the Day” sung on that same stage by kids whose parents weren’t even old enough to drive in 1985. So you’re welcome, Disney.

But the torch has been passed. The kids in Newsies tonight grew up with my niece and nephew or are the children of my friends. Some I’ve known forever. Some I just recognize by sight after having watched them sing alongside my niece and nephew over years of school concerts and shows. And I feel so parental and proud of all of them ... and thrilled that they have this opportunity — this AMAZING opportunity — to be a part of this amazing show ... and so proud that my high school was selected for the national honor of field-testing this delightful, brilliant, challenging material. And I can safely say the kids and the staff and the teams of parent helpers and the entire department rose mightily to meet the challenge and blow away the expectations. They’re all the kings of CR.

Our kitty is a proper lady of refined taste and delicate constitution

But after years of finishing school and tramp shaming, she has shown an alarming intransigence toward improving her brazen behavior.

Day 8 of hunting the elusive Alluring Calfed Dudebro

My frequent visits to his occasional gym habitat have paid off in rich abundance; he made his third appearance in just over a week this morning. My attempts to engage him via traditional tribal Gym Dudebro greeting rituals — faux-offhand-doesn’t-mean-anything-I-just-happened-to-be-looking-in-your-direction sub-second eye contact and near imperceptible head twitches of human acknowledgement — have not been returned, so my camouflage game is either totally on fleek or my presence is non-alarming or we-all-know-it’s-not-true-but-I-still-have-to-say-it-in-my-report-in-the-name-of-accurate-anthropology not interesting enough to notice.


Aside from his aloof courting rituals, he exhibits a sophisticated system of characteristics and behaviors for attracting and selecting a suitable mate. His ‘90s-small-town-high-school-wrestler-crenellated-bowl-cut bangs keep potential suitors cautiously at bay, while his habit of wiping his brow with the hem of his shirt reveals a corrugated curtain of abs that are as impossible to tear yourself away from as a Siren’s fabled song.

At this writing, he has retreated into the fogs of the storied Brigadoon from whence he came, but not without a final, beguiling presentation of his eponymous alluring calves to the sparse early-morning population of his occasional gym habitat.

I shall keep vigilant watch — always in super-cute shoes, just in case — for his next appearance.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Bedtime snacks! 

A whey protein shake for fast workout recovery and strong muscles. And the entire Nabisco test kitchen for stubborn weight gain and gout.

When your date has to cancel on you because he has the flu ...

You logically deploy your emergency I-suddenly-don’t-have-a-date contingency plan: Get a flu shot.
Also: get a bright red post-flu-shot souvenir band-aid > take a flexy shoulder selfie to post on Facebook

Also: post a flexy shoulder selfie on Facebook > score yourself a quality boyfriend

Also: stagger through the aisles of Walgreens in crippling, bewildering, post-flu-shot pain with no boyfriend on any radar anywhere anyway > wander innocently past the cookies

Also: discover you have enough Walgreens rewards points for three virtually free packages of Oreos > it’s none of your damn business what I’m having for my dateless dinner tonight

Why do Mexican restaurants always hide the enchiladas under salad?

ArtThrob: The Burghers of Calais

(Original French title: Les Bourgeois de Calais)
Auguste Rodin
Impressionism (1872-1892)

The relatively short-lived period of Impressionism in art was as defined by what it wasn't -- clear lines, plausible composition, realistic depictions of figures and the space they occupied -- as by what it was: impressions of visual perception told through explorations of changing light and color and even through the rough-hewn textures created in paint using varying brush strokes. A radical departure from the longstanding -- though always evolving -- rigors of academic Realism, the fresh ideas of Impressionism on canvas quickly inspired similar reinterpretations of artistic norms in music, literature and sculpture.

Enter François-Auguste-René Rodin.

Classically trained and well-established in creating representational art, Rodin saw Impressionism's dreamy figure studies and craggy, dimensional textures as a vocabulary he could use to render bold ideas, subjective emotions, and plays of shape and light in sculpture. His raw, turbulent works brought new, profound depth to the revolutionary cacophonies that had so far been constricted to the flat canvases of Impressionistic paintings, and his most riveting use of this complex, muscular multi-dimensional language is in his mighty Burghers of Calais. The sculpture depicts six men walking to their martyrdom to liberate the French town of Calais during the Hundred Years' War. The men are overcome with terror and anguish and resignation and peace all at once, and Rodin sculpted the figures with such a masterful mix of romantic realism and primitive rawness that you can see and understand their every emotion from your every angle. The piece is enormous in size and exaggerated in scale and arguably unfinished in its rendering, all of which invite you to approach it with your own perspectives, examine it with your own curiosities and appreciate it with your own conclusions.

French law decrees that no more than twelve original casts may be made of any work by Rodin, which means The Burghers of Calais tells its weighty story in museums and university campuses all over Europe and the United States, including a single figure from the piece who stands resolutely at the entrance to the University of Iowa's Boyd Law Building.

I make a point to see my reproduction of the work every summer on my annual pilgrimage to visit friends in Washington, D.C. It stands with other Rodin masterpieces in a relatively austere corner of the sunken sculpture garden behind the Smithsonian's relentlessly round Hirshhorn Museum. I usually stop there on my way to the airport at the end of each visit. I walk around the sculpture a few times to take note of specific details Rodin included -- like articulated toes to help propel the walking figures through space -- and specific details he didn't include -- like eyeballs to help the figures see where they're going. Then I sit in my same spot on a little concrete ledge to take in the piece in its weighty enormousness, to contemplate the explosive change Rodin and the Impressionists brought to the way we see and understand and interpret art, and to take comfort in the fact that my Burghers will most likely stand caught in their time and this place, waiting for me year after year every time I come to visit them for as long as I live.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

This morning I voted to go to the gym instead of voting to go vote

I also voted to do a pretty intense leg workout at the gym, so I’m pretty sure there won’t be any kind of runoff in the next few days. But after work I finally voted to go vote, though in all the civic excitement I forgot to vote to finally get my flu shot afterward. And now that I’m home and my shoes are off, I’m voting to stay put. Which, my fellow citizens, is my Constitutionally exercised right to democracy inaction.

Day 7 of 7

Seven days of black and white photos about me. No people. No explanations.

This popped up in my Facebook memories today

... and seven years later I’m still both thrilled and proud of it.

Shout out

to all the people who don’t know what the opposite of in is

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Day 5 of 7

Seven days of black and white photos about me. No people. No explanations.

What IS this unholy alchemy?

I have never in my life encountered a pre-workout-shake scoop that even acknowledges the narrow-bottle-mouth needs of people who mix their shakes in slim water bottles. Yet this scoop has a hinged funnel BUILT RIGHT ONTO IT.

It must be a witch.

Happy and safe running today, NYC!

Seven years ago this weekend I went to New York, saw some shows, had dinner with some lifelong friends, and ... oh, there’s something else I’m forgetting here ... shows ... dinner ... yes! That’s it! I ran my seventh (and so far last) marathon! With Jared from Subway! Well, not really WITH him; Subway was not going to let him embarrass the company with any kind of marathon-related scandal so they had him running literally in a ring of elite runners who made sure he crossed the finish line ... right in front of me. The jerk. He went on to pursue other scandals soon after the marathon, while I went on to curse my decision to leave all my cash in my hotel room during the marathon so I had to hobble more than two miles around marathon blockades from Central Park West to East 45th Street after the run because I couldn’t pay for a cab. But Woody Allen saw me cross the finish line, so the entire race was like a red carpet gala. I even took home a big shiny award, which I self-congratulatorily wore along with many of my crippled marathon brethren to LAX the next day.

Of course, all of this was back when the only thing runners had to focus on was the joy of running through 26.2 miles of cheering crowds in all five NYC boroughs and not being wounded and murdered by terrorists. The 2017 NYC marathon is happening as we speak, under 26.2 miles of heavy security — a week after multiple pedestrians were murdered in a terrorist attack in lower Manhattan. I’m sitting here in Iowa unable to protect today’s runners so each one can experience the same euphoric joy I did when I ran, but I know we’re all putting our trust in the extended local law enforcement to keep everyone safe. I don’t know if I know anyone who’s running today, but my heart is with everyone, and I’m excitedly cheering from afar in the hopes that today’s marathon is as thrilling — and safe — as mine was for every runner.

No! Wire! Clock! Hands! Ever!

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Cedar Rapids public radio has distressingly meager music offerings on a Saturday afternoon:

88.3: A meandery improvisational jazz combo featuring a dyspeptic saxophone, a trumpeter who has recently discovered how to triple-tongue relentlessly for 36 relentless measures relentlessly, a keyboardist who’s clearly terrified to improvise beyond a dotted-quarter/eighth/dotted-quarter/eighth rhythm, and more dyspeptic saxophone to mask the trumpeter’s tongue-surgery screams

91.7: That one opera where heartbreaking circumstances propel a bunch of people with vibratos tall enough to drive a truck through into a labyrinth of unrequited love, totally plausible misunderstandings, a silly song sung by a person in a ridiculous hat, a fully staged ballet that acts as an Artful Metaphor for people who need to have plot points re-explained to them by waifish women in tulle and high (or low, depending on the contextual emotional-continuum level of anguish) hair buns, atonal recitative that it a totally productive replacement for Earnest Dialogue, three totally plausible deaths, and an emotionally triumphant High C Of Self Actualization


Fortunately, I now have the Amazon Music app on my phone so I can dig that beat, stomp my feet, dig be-bop and never stop down in Birdland whenever the need arises. Yes, indeed I do.

Gym math

Residual headache + pre-workout shake jitters + chronic elbow tendinitis flareup = only vertical, non-elbow-using activities at the gym = no options but leg day = certain messy death at the squat rack


Day 4 of 7

Seven days of black and white photos about me. No people. No explanations.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Ever had a headache so bad that the pain went down your spine?

Want mine?

Day 3 of 7

Seven days of black and white photos about me. No people. No explanations.

Let’s hear it for the Rainbow Tour!

I was up way past my bedtime at callbacks last night so I didn't go to the gym this morning so I have no new chapter to report in the penny-dreadful saga of The Mystery Secret Gym Boyfriend With The Beguilingly Handsome Calves(C).

[Private note to The Mystery Secret Gym Boyfriend With The Beguilingly Handsome Calves(C) so don't any of you snoopy, gossipy Facebook friends read this because as I just clearly said it's private and I've decided I'm even going to whisper-type it so you won't even know I'm saying it so mind your own beeswax: I SHOULD BE AT THE GYM TOMORROW AT 1:00 IN CASE YOU HAPPEN TO MAYBE WANT TO PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PERHAPS ADJUST YOUR SATURDAY SCHEDULE AND BE THERE AT THE SAME TIME I PROMISE NOT TO MENTION BREAD. OOPS.]

So here's an interim gym-related news item that I am selflessly providing for you until I have a chapter three to report about The Mystery Secret Gym Boyfriend With The Beguilingly Handsome Calves(C): As you know, I'm still on my Top 14 Most Active Gym Members From The Week Of November 3, 2015, Worldwide Victory Tour (see chart above). But Facebook tells me today's my two-year anniversary of earning my scepter and tiara, and I wanted to take a moment to remember the humble beginnings from a more innocent time where it all began. So a moment of silence, please.

I SAID SILENCE. Shut up already. Jeez.

Now. I'm heading back out on my Top 14 Most Active Gym Members From The Week Of November 3, 2015, Worldwide Victory Tour with stops this weekend in Wahoo, NE, and What Cheer, IA, but -- as just a casual, means-nothing, there's-really-no-useful-reason-to-even-mention-it closing thought -- I SHOULD BE AT THE GYM TOMORROW AT 1:00. Ahem. Bread. Oops.

Flashback Friday: Long Lost Lap Love Edition

I used to have a good kitty who sat on my lap and purred. Now I have a broken kitty who hides under the furniture and barfs.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Unfortunately, it never goes out

I hadn’t counted on being able to stop at home between work and my Sunday in the Park with George callback tonight. Now I’m tearing through my meager sartorial trousseau and obsessively rethinking my callback wardrobe. I need to look stuffy and reserved enough to be a plausible Jules yet athletic and devastatingly handsome enough to be discovered and fanboy profiled in some dreary socialistic periodical. I think I’ll wear something nice with swans.

Day 2 of 7

Seven days of black and white photos about me. No people. No explanations.

Second day. More advanced.

So Mystery Secret Gym Boyfriend was at the gym again today with his Beguiling Masculine CalvesTM. I was with my trainer so it would have been weird to just walk away from my workout and abruptly introduce myself by saying something mortifying like “My name’s Jake. Are those your calves? I like bread.” Just like yesterday, he kept totally to himself during his workout, but my trainer had me doing legs and while I was on the quad extension machine he yelled from across the gym to ask if I was using the squat rack, which tells me three things: 1) He noticed I was doing legs. 2) He’s considerate and polite. 3) We should have a June wedding.

But there are three more things that have left me in a ponder: 1) I hadn’t been anywhere near the squat rack, which is so far from where I was doing quads that you need a passport and a Silkwood scrubdown to get to it. 2) There are two squat racks right next to each other and neither had weights loaded so his question had only one transparent purpose and that purpose was to ask me how many cats we should get when we move in together. 3) Maybe the wedding should be earlier than June. Like this Saturday.

Anyway, he was doing planks as I left the gym, and don’t nobody wanna have a conversation with a stranger while counting seconds during planks. So I’ll just have to wear a different marathon shirt to the gym tomorrow to impress him with my Total Jock JocknessTM. Which I totally didn’t spend time picking out this morning for that very purpose. That would just be bread.