Monday, July 31, 2006

I Have Left Elvis’s Building

Every pilgrimage needs its Graceland, its Mecca. For Millions of Muslims, their Gracelend is, um, Mecca. For Tanya and me, our Graceland was…well…Graceland.

Memphis, Tennessee.

You got it. More vacation photos! See, Tanya and I realized that our trip from Nags Head, North Carolina to Los Angeles would take us right through Memphis. So how could we possibly turn down an easy trip to Elvis’s house? Well, we couldn’t. We didn’t. We went. And I took pictures.

But before we got to Graceland we passed through Scottsboro, Alabama. If that place sounds familiar to you, then you probably harbor a secret desire to buy other people’s lost airline luggage. You see, Scottsboro is home to the Unclaimed Baggage Center. The place where millions of pieces of unclaimed lost luggage get sold at low, low prices to greedy patrons willing to profit from other people’s misfortune.

I am one of those people! I want to buy people’s lost stuff. I was really just hoping that a lot of musicians had run into recent bad luck at the hands of the airlines. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that the place I had just heard about on the national news was only a few blocks away!

We got off the freeway and weaved our way through town. There’s really no easy way to get to this place. You have to be alert and follow the directions that you read off the freeway billboard. But I was on a mission. And we found it! My dream was about to come true.

Only, I forgot one key thing. We were in Alabama…and it was Sunday. Nothing is open on Sundays in the Bible belt. Hell, you’re lucky to find a freaking church with its doors unlocked.

So I did what any other red blooded American would do in this situation.

I pouted.

And Tanya made fun of me.

What the South fails to realize is that people who are willing to buy other people’s lost stuff don’t have much need for church. Damnit! Heathens want to buy crap on Sunday!

I hate the Bible belt.

But we finally made it to Graceland.

We took the tour. We saw Elvis’s dining room! Wow. He like ate here and stuff…sometimes.

We saw the infamous “TV room.” This room looks like something out of James Lilek’s “Interior Desecrations.” You can’t really see it in the picture but underneath that creepy porcelain monkey with the pitch black, lifeless eyes there’s a sign that reads “Please Do Not Touch.” I’m pretty sure that’s because that black eyed monkey “will eat you!

Also, there are also only two TVs pictured here. Of course you know there are three. You can pretend like you don’t know anything about Elvis, but secretly you have the knowledge that Elvis had three TVs in his TV room. You’ve known all along, haven’t you? Clandestinely, we’re all hicks.

Here’s the back of Graceland. Nobody ever really wonders what the back of Graceland looks like. Not until you bring it up anyway. Well, this is what it looks like. Awesome.

The tour through Graceland is an audio tour. You have to listen to headphones the entire time. Everyone in the joint looked like obstinate teenagers. If every tourist didn’t look as if they were genuinely interested in everything, I would have felt as if I’d stumbled into my worst vacation nightmare.

And lastly...

Elvis is dead.

Fun Fact: It was Kevin’s birthday the other day! Go to his website and click around. Let him know that you care that he’s one year closer to death.

He’s almost 30!

How did Kevin celebrate his birthday this year? Well, he got 6 stitches under his chin thanks to a sea kayak.

And he stepped on a bee.


P.S. This post was supposed to be up yesterday but...Blogger is a piece of stupid, stupid crap!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Like a Little Waxy Angel

Dear Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt of the future (the real one, not the candle-like thing at Mme. Tussaud's),

It’s your 16th birthday! Happy sweet 16, kid.

Hold on a second, I have to go outside really quickly and water my flowerbeds. I’m 16 years older now too. I’m going to be 50 soon, and lately I’ve been getting these irrational urges to water the hell out of my yard.

I suppose that I should explain why I’ve decided to write this letter to you.

I was at the gym one morning, 16 years ago, and I saw a story on CNN about your paraffin doppelganger over at the Wax Museum. Now, it’s been a while since the story of a wax “you” first came out, a couple of days actually, but some genius over at the news network decided that they could stretch the story out a bit (god knows there was noting else going on at the time). They went on and on about how you were the first baby ever to be immortalized in wax at Tussaud's famous museum. I’m not sure exactly what kind of honor that is, but it’s the ultimate comeback whenever someone gives you the old “I don’t know who you think you are, young lady” routine. “I was the first goddamned wax baby!” You can shout at them. Why not throw a laté in their smug faces to add some extra effect.

Now I’m not saying that you would do such a thing. I’m just saying that if I were the first wax baby, I certainly would. Especially if someone called me “young lady.”

I just got to thinking that you might be tired of hearing about your evil wax twin. I mean, it’s 16 years later and CNN is still running segments on it every other day (I’m starting to think that Ted Turner has a bit of a fetish thing going on. Oh, no, not for babies, just for wax.).

So I figured that I would explain to you why your wax baby figure initially garnered so much attention. It’s like this:

For one, your parents used to be really famous. I mean like, really famous. Especially after your dad dumped his first wife to travel the world with your mother (incidentally, his first wife is Jennifer Aniston. That’s right, Senator Jennifer Aniston! The same Senator Aniston who was later deemed to be incompetent after it was discovered that she was elected as a joke.) Your parents used to make big movies and save the children of the world. I know it’s strange to hear about your parents making movies since your mom now lives in a Quonset hut somewhere in the African jungle working tirelessly to eradicate that deadly new strain of whooping cough and your dad…well, cut the guy some slack, he was actually a pretty talented actor, I realize that porn isn’t acting per-se, but he used to make real movies, he just was never the same after your mom left him. Very sad.

Anyway, why was your wax self so popular? Because you were popular. The most popular baby on the planet (tell that to those cheerleaders who keep flipping you crap about your dad!). And why were you so popular? Well, this is where things get tricky.

When you were born, the Iraq war was only a few years old (Thanks god that, after much begging, Al Gore finally decided to run for president again). The war was going terribly. It was worse then than it was when it began. And America needed a distraction. After all, who wants to pay attention to a depressing old war, right? People figured that if they just stared at the celebrity baby long enough the war would take care of itself.

It didn’t.

In fact, things got a lot worse. Israel took the initiative to act on terrorist attacks by Hezbollah. They bombed the crap out of Lebanon. It was scary. It made the Iraq war look as if it was never going to end. Especially since Georgie Bush refused to help the situation. And Condoleezza Rice…? What the hell does she do for the government anyway? I mean, I could go around the world and piss people off, does that require a lot of talent?

That was around about the time that your polyethylene self was being squeezed out Madame Tussaud's waxy womb. And BAM! We had a reason to live again. And the media could remain upbeat! Thank god for that! Real issues can be such a downer.

So I wanted to write this letter to you to tell you that if you ever get tired of hearing about that inconsequential wax figure of yourself on CNN, blame former president Bush.

Go ahead, blame him.

I like to blame him for hundreds of things. And I’ve never been wrong yet.

Hang in there Shiloh. And happy 16th again! Call you dad every once in a while. He could probably use a friend right about now.


Fun Fact: Seriously, I got an obscene amount of joy when I typed the phrase “former President Bush” earlier. I felt the clouds part. I felt the hand of somebody’s god.

I envisioned George Bush being booed off the lecture circuit for being a complete moron because nobody felt obligated to listen to him anymore.

Ahhhhhh…that’s the stuff.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

First in F(l)ight

More vacation photos. Aren’t you the lucky one?

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have many things to offer tourists but probably the most famous is Kitty Hawk. You know, that place where Orville and Wilbur Wright made their infamous first “powered” flight.

I like Kitty Hawk. I’ve been there a few times. The last time was about 13 years ago. Here’s what it looked like then.

That’s Mike in that picture, not me. He went with me last time. In a completely heterosexual way.

Here’s what it looks like now. It’s pretty much the same angle on this picture as the last one. The only difference is that, this time, my big fat head is taking up the whole frame.

And why is my big fat head taking up the whole frame? Because I was my own camera man that’s why. Tanya didn’t want to run the camera that day. She was in “a mood.” Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a picture of her “mood.”


But she wasn’t pouty all day. Here she is pretending that she can fly simply by putting her arms out. Yes, we were at Kitty Hawk and Tanya was pretending to be an airplane. We were “those” kind of tourists.

Here she is playing patty cake with a statue.

Sure, I had to be my own camera man all day but I still had fun taking goofy pictures. Here’s Tanya pretending to hold the Wright Bros. Memorial in the palm of her hand.

I told you, we were “those” kind of tourists.

And here’s a picture that I took of myself doing the same thing. This kind of picture requires a deft, almost innate knowledge of space and angles. I think I pulled the effect off quite nicely.

All in all, it was a very nice trip to Kitty Hawk and not once did I pester a stranger with the phrase, “Excuse me sir/ma’am, but could you take our picture? Just hit that silver button on top. No…the silver one. It’s the silver one. The…one on top. …It’s the goddamned silver button, you freaking po! Jesus, how did you even manage to make it to Kitty Hawk in the first place?! I hope you don’t have children! By the way, those things that people dig in the dirt are called holes in the ground and that thing that you speak out of is your asshole! …oh wait, the button is red…sorry…my mistake…would you mind taking our picture?”

Not once did I say that to anyone. There was no need. I am a masterful cameraman.

Fun Fact: There wasn’t actually a fight that forced me to be the cameraman for the day. It was just something that we thought would be funny. No, actually the only time that we really fought at Kitty Hawk was when Tanya wanted to run the camera.

I’m a controlling jerk. But I wouldn’t have to be if Tanya would just take pictures that way that I want her to!

Let’s end this post with a picture that Tanya took.

You see?! Do you see how that’s all wrong!!!!


P.S. This post would have been up a lot sooner today if Blogger wasn’t a stupid, stupid piece of stupid crap!!! That’s a fact.

Monday, July 24, 2006

We're Baaaack

Tanya and I got back on Friday from our whirlwind tour of the hottest states in America. North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia (very briefly), Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally home to California.

First, as you already probably know, we spent a week in Nags Head, North Carolina on the Outer Banks where we passed the time swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, looking at lighthouses and eating boiled peanuts.

If you’ve never had a boiled peanut, you’re missing a unique experience. Is it a good experience? Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that. Eat a boiled peanut today! (This message has been brought to you by the Boiled Peanut Advisory Council of North Carolina)

We spent more time in Nags Head than we had anticipated when we “planned” this trip. We were having a really good time with my family (which I hadn’t seen in a hell of a long time). Even though they could be extremely loud, there aren’t another 18 people that I’d rather share a house with.

Yes, we stayed with 18 of my relatives. And we actually had fun.

Anyway, now we’re back. And I miss the open road already. I mean, our car has air conditioning. Our apartment on the other hand…

Fun Fact: The first picture above is of a lightening storm that hit the Outer Banks on the second to the last day that we were there. I think it was the pre cursor to a tropical storm that passed by there. But I can’t be sure. What do I look like, a weatherman?!

I’ll post more pictures here as I sift through them. In the meantime, here are a couple. One thing that you should know; I was in charge of the camera for most of the trip so most of the pictures of me look like the one here.

This next picture was meant to be a contrast to the first picture at the top of the post. Just in case you thought that it rained the entire time we were at Nags Head. It only rained the last two nights. Our days were almost completely clear.

Anyway, as I was resizing this picture to post it, I noticed something about it that I hadn’t noticed before. Something in the water. Something that I hadn’t intended to photograph.

Nags Head Nessie!

I’ll make a fortune!

Unless it’s just a dumb old dolphin.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Leaving Nags Head

There are some people out there who said, "hey, you should post from the road!"

So, this is it. I'm "posting from the road."

Isn't this fun?! See you soon.


Fun Fact: This computer has been in this beach rental house the entire time I've been here. It has DSL. It's a nice computer.

I only learned that it was here yesterday.

And I didn't care.

Also, that logo at the top of the post is for the new and improved Outer Banks. They spell things with "X"s instead of "K"s now. They're way cool. If they ever start to spell things with "Z"s instead of "S"s, I don't know if I could stay here ever again. They might just "cool" themselves right out of my "coolness class."

What's up with that?! This place used to be cool, but still lame enough for me to enjoy. Now it gone and "cooled" itself all up and stuff! What am I supposed to do now?! How can I find a place that's still nice, but lame enough that I can hang? This is just another way that the "cool" people are keeping down the "lame class!"

It's the gentrification of coolness.

I hate "coolification."

Friday, July 07, 2006

On the Road Again

It’s almost that time. The time when Tanya and I take a little tour of these United States. We’re heading out on Sunday night to fly to Norfolk, VA, and then it’s on to spend a few of days on the beautiful shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

I really like visiting the Outer Banks. What’s not to like? It’s the place where the Wright Brothers took their first flight (a fact that the license plates of North Carolina will never let you forget). It’s got some of the largest exposed sand dunes in the country. It has Ocracoke island, a place that was frequented by the dread pirate Blackbeard (and since pirates are all the rage these days, this fact is cool and trendy). And not too far away from where we’ll be staying is the Lost Colony of Roanoke (one of its greatest legacies is that Andy Griffith got his start acting in their little Lost Colony theatrical production – which I still have never seen).

I hope that we’ll find some time to get to Roanoke. I’ve been there before. It’s strange, but every time I visit that place I become convinced that I can solve the mystery of the lost colony. I know that hundreds of scholars and researchers have spent countless hours and used their interminable collective expertise trying to figure out what happened to that hapless group of first settlers, but when I go to the place and see the mounds of dirt and hear the stories, I still feel as if my insight into the matter will crack the case.

I’m an idiot.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about with Roanoke, go here to learn more. The short version is this: Some settlers came from England to establish the first western colony in the new world. They chose Roanoke Island. One of the colony’s leaders, John White, sailed for England to snag some more supplies for the colonists in 1587. Well, some crap came up and nobody was able to return with supplies until 1590. By then, all of the colonists had vanished into thin air. No bodies, no nothing. Only a word carved on a nearby tree "Croatoan." Evidentially, either the colonists were killed by Indians and marauders or they got tired of waiting three years for tea and Guinness and toddled off for greener pastures.

Legend has it that, years later, blue-eyed natives turned up. Ooohh. What a mystery. Did the colonists get killed or come down with a ribald case of jungle fever? Maybe we’ll never know.

Unless, of course, I can make it to Roanoke while I’m at the Outer Banks and solve the mystery.

After we kick around in North Carolina for a while we’re heading back to Los Angeles via road trip. We’re going to be touring through the not-so-deep south. First we visit Nashville and Memphis (to see the Egyptian stuff…or Graceland, whichever one it is that we have in the Memphis in this country, I’m so worldly that I often get my Memphises confused).

After Tennessee, the trip gets a whole lot less interesting…on paper.

We’ll be heading through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Northern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Or, as I like to refer to it, “America’s Nothing Belt.”

Not a whole hell of a lot to see in those places, but I’m sure that we’ll have a good time trying to find something.

While I’m gone, why don’t you go on your own mini vacation across the US with us? Just take out your largest map of the lower states and scoot your butt across it. Sure, it won’t be quite the same, but, honestly, you’ll probably have about as much to look at as we will as we’re actually driving through Northern Texas.

Fun Fact: I’m kind of looking forward to visiting Oklahoma. All I know about the state right now is that the wind comes sweeping down the plane and the wavin’ wheat sure smells sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain. Also, I’ve surmised that their main products are barley, carrots and pertaters, (pasture fer the) cattle, spinach and termayters. They have June bugs, lazy hawks and they call their sweethearts “honey lamb.”

I also know that Tanya’s going to go crazy while we’re there as I plan to try to hold out the first note of the Broadway classic song for the entire duration of our visit to the 46th state.



Thursday, July 06, 2006

So Now I’m Back from Outer Space

You should have changed your stupid lock. You should have made me leave my key.

I’ve been on a brief hiatus lately. Tanya and I have been house-sitting. Well, house-sitting and dog sitting. The people whose house we look after bought a new dog recently (the dog we used to look after passed away. So did the old cat. Now that I think about it, maybe Tanya and I aren’t the best people to care for pets?). The new dog is fun, but man, he requires a lot of attention. He completely wore me out with his constant desire to tear-ass around the back yard. He just wants to play all the time. And he doesn’t want to play alone. He wants me to chase after him. Doesn’t he realize that I’m going to be 33 soon? Doesn’t he realize that I’m lazy?! I don’t have the energy to play “keep-away” at every available moment. I suppose I was encouraging him a bit by letting him win all the time. I could have totally gotten that bone away from him. Easy! I just didn’t want the puppy to feel bad about himself.

Maybe by the time we house sit next life will have worn him down to a dull, lifeless pile of dog hair content to watch the world pass him by and wait for death?

Oh, man, that would be sweet.

I also had to go to the dentist yesterday. I hate the dentist. I mean, I really hate the dentist. Which, I suppose, makes me a glutton for punishment since I decided to go to UCLA Dental School to get my work done. Now, UCLA is a great school, so it’s not like getting your hair cut at the local Barber College. But the morons at the barber college don’t poke at your gums with sharp instruments either.

I’m going to go ahead and wager a guess that you’ve been to the dentist before. I’m also going to assume that you’ve had your gums probed with one of those pokey gum probing thingies. Those things that they shove down into your gum line to check for bone loss and periodontal disease. Those things that make having a toothpick shoved under your fingernail feel like a manicure.

I hate it.

Well, thanks to the fact that my resident “dentist” had little experience with the procedure (and thanks to the fact that I’m a big pussy who flinched every time she crammed that thing into my jawbone) I got to experience the process a grand total of three times!

Whenever the instructor came around to check my resident’s work I crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t have to do it again. I think I may have even prayed a little. I suddenly became her greatest cheerleader. I’ve never wanted a student to succeed so much in my life. Now I know how her parents must feel.

Anyway, it turns out that I don’t have an abscess as I previously thought (yeah me!). Just horrible, horrible gums. Usually, the protocol for me at the dentist is to sit in the chair, get my teeth poked at and, given the state of my gums, have the dentist tell me how awful my oral hygiene must be. I wind up leaving the place feeling like I’ve got the brushing technique and mouth of a crack whore (but without the potential income that it could generate, which could come in handy when it comes time to pay the bill).

But yesterday I was finally diagnosed with a genetic condition. Finally! I knew that I was blameless! I knew that my bad gums couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that I smoke, eat questionable meat products and sometime go entire weeks without brushing!

No, I don’t do those last two things. But it is nice to finally have a dentist give me a freaking break for once. It was nice to have a dentist who didn’t berate me. It was nice to have a dentist who didn’t make me feel like I had gums that could have only been crafted by Satan himself. I’m still in shock.

Has anybody checked the temperature in hell lately? I’m fairly certain that there’s been a cold snap.

Fun Fact: I’ve talked a lot of crap about my gums, but really, they’re not as bad as all that. Sure, they’re not in great shape, but at least it’s not something that you can see.

And if anyone out there is as afraid of the dentist as I am, I suggest that you go to the nearest (respectable) dental school to have your treatment. There’s nothing like a younger, ambitious co-ed to make you act like a tough guy. Sure, inside you’ll be screaming, but the thought of looking like a pussy in front of a college chick is enough to help you hold it together. At least to the point that you can walk out of the dentist’s office with your dignity still intact.

And, trust me, if I can leave a dentist office with dignity, anyone can.