Friday, December 22, 2006

The Recipe from "Regrecipes": Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls


Ah, yes. The Balls.

If you attended Live Wire's December 14th taping at the Aladdin Theater, you were there to see my mother, the charming and fabulous Sally, take great joy in giving me the what-for in front of 500 people.

That's her above, laughing uproariously after zinging the crap out of me. Watch out, kids! If you don't clean your room, then when you're (ostensibly) a grown-up, your mother might show up on the radio variety show you host and, in the sweetest of ways, tear you a new one. (To mom's right is Shelley Besemann, a therapist, who offered some really helpful advice for surviving the holidays, including multi-purpose one-liners such as, "I love you too much to talk about that right now.")

Anyhoodily doodily, regardless of the destruction that happened in the making of them, these balls are the best thing you'll put in your mouth all year.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (a.k.a. Buckeyes), courtesy of Sally Hameister

MIX WITH HANDS:
3 cups Rice Krispies

1 stick of butter or margerine (very soft)

1 box (2 cups) confectioner's sugar

2 cups chunky peanut butter


After mixed, chill for one hour. Take out of refrigerator and roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Chill for one more hour.

MELT IN DOUBLE BOILER:
1 large Hershey bar (the BIG one - 8 0z.)

1 6 oz. bag of bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 to 1/2 bar household paraffin*


Take a spoon and drop balls into above mixture until fully coated and place on wax paper. Refrigerate until set, and serve. Not necessary to keep cookies refrigerated, but recommended.

*Yes, it's wax. It sounds weird, but it keeps the chocolate from melting in your hand. You've eaten wax before, really. It's fine.



Enjoy the balls. And enjoy the back of Sally's Christmas sweater. See how there's real stockings that hang off that thing? This is a woman who loves Christmas.

Thanks, Mom, for zinging me when I needed be zinged. And thanks for making every Christmas in our house the world's largest, tinsel-iest, chocolate-covered-ball of happy holiday cheer. We were the luckiest kids ever.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Musings

Possible names for my first child

Zippy

Cha Cha Cha Charles

Bulgur

Mr. Greenjeans

Fugly

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

Tapioca Puddin’ Head

Urinary Tract Infection

Punny McKnock Knock

Drapery

Thomas



People or things I would trust to run the country at this point

My dentist

Pamela Anderson

That guy who seems to know everything about meat at New Seasons

Tommy Lee

Bacteria

Anyone from Motley Crue

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

My cat

Dick Cheney’s assistant’s mother

The devil



Titles for a film about my life

Yawny Yawn Yawn Yawn

What’s the Point?

Carrie

The Girl Who Never Cleaned the Catbox

That One Movie About The Woman Who Seemed Like She Would Never Amount To Anything, but Then Sort of Seemed Like She Might Amount to Something For a Minute, then Went Back to Probably Not Amounting to Anything But Now It Was Slightly More Tragic Because You Had Hope For a Minute

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

Friday, December 01, 2006

Who becomes a legend most?

Classy dudes, that’s who.

When our Technical Producer, Jim Brunberg, suggested Dave Frishberg as a musical guest for Live Wire, it was daunting. Terrifying, even. He’s got the word “legend” attached to him. And rightly so. He’s Cole Porter-esque. He’s Woody Allen with a piano. He’s Dave Frickin’ Frishberg.

But we worked through that fear, and decided that as long as we had the man who wrote “I’m Just a Bill,” why not write some Schoolhouse Rock songs for a new millennium? And why not ask Dave to accompany us on one of them? Oh, but he’d never do that, right? He’s all important and stuff so there’s no way he’d...HOLY CRAP HE’S GONNA DO IT!!

And he did. And you should listen to the show on OPB on Saturday night to hear how it all came out. Tyler Hughs and Ralph Huntley wrote some stellar lyrics (and like the girl in the Shake ‘n’ Bake commercial, I helped). Ralph—whose skills as a sketch writer, songwriter, Faces For Radio Theater member and house band leader makes us think he might be an alien from The Planet of the Overextended Creative Types—learned a squillion Schoolhouse Rock songs in a couple minutes, and the whole thing was pretty cool. From what we understand, it may be the only time Dave Frishberg has ever played “I’m Just a Bill” in front of a live audience. We felt pretty honored to be there to see it. Not to mention his other two songs – the hilarious “Quality Time” and “I Wanna Be a Sideman.” He is one cool cat.

Oh, and if you want to see him in action again, he’ll be one of Susannah Mars’ special guests for Mars on Life: The Holiday Edition on December 16th at Artist’s Rep.

Peace on earth? Oh, screw that.

On Monday afternoon, I got an email with an intriguing subject line. It asked the question, “Is Pagosa Springs anti-peace?”

Pagosa Springs is a rather conservative town of about 1700 people in the southern mountains of Colorado. I lived there nine years ago, right before moving to the lefty, pinko, neverending- carnival-of-hedonism that is Portland, Oregon. The email, sent by fellow Portland hedonist Pat Janowski, included a link to a story: a couple in Pagosa Springs had been asked by their homeowners’ association to take down their Christmas wreath. Why? Because the wreath was shaped like a peace sign.

Some residents saw the wreath as anti-war. Bob Kearns, the president of the Homeowners’ Association said, "The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it. It's also an anti-Christ sign. That's how it started."

The peace sign was actually created in 1958 by British designer Gerald Holtom for a nuclear disarmament protest, but that’s not really the point. The point is: divisiveness. A divisiveness now so ingrained in our culture, that a wish for “Peace on Earth” at Christmastime is a trigger for partisan bickering. A wish for peace is anti-troops, and even anti-Christ. Divisiveness has deemed a Christmas wreath…anti-Christmas.

Perhaps it’s time we looked at some other traditional holiday sentiments, like what about these “Good will toward men” people? How would supporters of this decidedly sexist sentiment feel if I walked around during the holidays greeting women with a slap on the face and a kick in the ass? I doubt it would bother them, they’re clearly women-haters.

And what of the proponents of “Happy Holidays”? What are they trying to say to the 17 million Americans who suffer from depression? Are they trying to rub it in? Because that’s just mean.

And don’t even get me started on “Joy to the World.”

I’m actually grateful to Mr. Kearns, the future former president of the Loma Linda Homeowners' Association. He’s taught me a lesson about perspective, and what the lack of it can cause a person to do. In this case, lack of perspective and blind loyalty to his side of an ongoing, underlying cultural war caused him to do something I’m sure he never dreamed he’d do: to fight against peace.

And now, after a healthy dose of perspective from CNN, The New York Times, and...well, the whole country, he came to his senses and dropped the Case of the Anti-Christmas Wreath.

Peace has returned to Pagosa Springs. And not a moment too soon, because the holidays are just around the corner, and no one wants to be at war during the holidays, right?

Photo courtesy of Randi Pierce, Durango Herald.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Shocking Thanksgiving

November 22,1979 is the Thanksgiving I'll never forget. My family was spending the week in a hotel at Willow Beach on Lake Mojave. Stupid names, because Willow Beach is a small hotel, campground, boat ramp and bait shop, there is no beach and Lake Mojave is part of the Colorado River. How the Hell can you have a lake in the middle of a river?

I was a freshman in high school and had just turned fourteen. My family at the time consisted of my Mom, my stepfather Ed and my stepbrother Bill, who was the same age as me. Ed decided we should spend the Week of Thanksgiving water-skiing, so off we went to Willow Beach.

Ed's brother Carl and his family also came along for the trip. Carl had two incredibly hot daughters around my age. Bill, and I had many a discussion about how it would be OK if I made out with one of them because we weren't really related. The Lords of teen lust blessed Bill and I even more that week, Carl's two hot daughters each brought a hot friend.

Consequently I became an extraordinary water-skier that week. The only way my hormone filled teen body could keep from getting a boner around four girls in bikinis was to get into the freezing cold river. Every time the boat stopped I was in the water ready to ski. The rest of the time I sat at the back of the boat wearing my mirrored sunglasses with a life vest on my lap.

I didn't think I had a great shot at making out with one of the hot girls, I wasn't the best looking kid around, but I was on the football team. I sat on the bench for two games then broke my finger in practice and never played a down, but they still gave me a Letter! I had a good sense of humor, I knew a lot of dirty jokes and I had great hair. My hair feathered like a Tiger Beat cover model, like Parker Stevenson, as if the Fairy Queen of the seventies had drifted down from the clouds and blew perfect hair plus twenty on my head.

Thanksgiving day arrived. I was getting ready for the big night and had just stepped out of the shower. I put on my best jeans and favorite shirt. (Property of Saugus Football, 1979.) I gazed in the mirror thinking how good I was going to look after I feathered my hair. I plugged in the blow dryer and turned it on. Unfortunately for me I was standing in a puddle of water and there was a small crack in the cord of the blow dryer. When I turned the damn thing on the electricity raced through the cord, but instead of powering the blow dryer, it shot out the cracked cord and hit me on the right side of the stomach like a bolt of lightning. A bolt of lightning that lasted for six seconds. The arc of electricity that hit me must have been a foot long. The lights flickered, the outlet blew and I was thrown to the floor. I got up shaking. There was a hole the size of a silver dollar in my shirt with black smoke rising from it and my skin was bright red.

The night got worse from there. I had ruined my favorite shirt, my hair wouldn't feather without the blow dryer. Without my favorite shirt and perfect hair I had no confidence. The tremendous shock had also upset my stomach so I couldn't eat. I was afraid to tell my mother what happened and she got mad because I wasn't eating. Then she embarrassed me in front of everyone by sending me to bed. I didn't make out with any girls on that Thanksgiving.

What's even weirder about this story is that three months later hair started to grow on the spot where I was shocked and to this very day I have a hair patch on the right side of my stomach.
(Click on the image to see more hairy detail.)

The hair patch isn’t so bad. What really sucks, is now I like getting shocked. Carpet static is like foreplay, I always test 9-volt batteries with my tongue (even when they're new), and I secretly hope that someday I'll be struck by lightning. Worst of all though, is I just can’t eat on Thanksgiving without giving myself a good jolt of electricity first.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody, and don't panic if your lights start to flicker. It's just me getting ready for the big meal.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Either way, they pee themselves.

In a recent episode of Live Wire, Courtenay asked guest scaremeister Baron Von Goolo which was more satisfying: making people laugh or making them scared. For his answer you’ll have to go back in time and listen in, or go to iTunes and download the show. In the mean time I will satisfy you, readers, with my answer, though nobody asked me. I found Courtenay’s question strikingly evocative. As a performer I find both acts very satisfying and strangely similar. I’m reminded of a story…

Years ago I made a sizable portion of my impoverished thespian’s income by dressing up in animal costumes and entertaining kids and adults at various events That’s a whole other blog, which I’ll get to soon enough, and hopefully before Jonpaul thinks to do the same because I know very well that he did his plushy/furry turn as well.

One gig that stands out as pertinent was called “A Walk on the Wild Side” and was a fundraiser for the zoo or walking or the wilderness or something. I was hired (along with Jonpaul, coincidentally, and his old girlfriend who won’t be mentioned again because she was evil, stupid and boring) to dress as an animal and entertain participants as they walked along a secluded trail in Washington Park. The event organizers threw us into a van along with three furry costumes: a lovable tiger, a laughable lion and a horrible gorilla. I got the gorilla. It was as scary as the lion and tiger were not…which they were not…and that’s scary! It had red-lidded eyes and ghastly flared orifices and ragged looking fangs. It smelled pretty scary too.

They dropped me off along the trail somewhere with the instructions to hide in the bushes and pop out and ooga booga when wild-side-walkers passed by. That’s it. It was one of the greatest gigs of my life.

I remember sitting alone in the bushes on that sunny afternoon, birds singing and butterflies quietly fluttering by. I thought to myself, as I often did in that line of work, what the hell am I doing? How did I get here? What has become of my career? Then the first gaggle of walkers approached. I’m sure there was a good cross section of society involved, but all I recall are middle aged women. So, the first knot of middle aged women walked by, obliviously laughing and chatting as I suddenly leapt from hiding with a horrific human scream. This scream begat screams which begat more screams which begat my own deafening laughter inside that smelly rubber and fake fur head.

Women scattered up and down and off the trail. It was sick and cruel and beautiful. Had it been Halloween or even dark outside they might have been at least subconsciously prepared. But they had no clue. For all they knew I was a deranged hairy transient, rabid dog or Bigfoot. Regardless, I’d been given a license to terrorize and was just doing my job.

That same scene replayed itself again and again for hours as clueless victims wandered into my thicket of fear. Sometimes people would laugh or even stop to snap a photo. But mostly it was a lot of screams, fear and anger. It never got old and it was immensely satisfying. The peak of enjoyment came when by twist of fate my high school vice principal walked into my trap. She was as big a pants-wetting rube as the rest. I wanted so much to tell her it was me, and that now we were even for that whole Saturday school thing. But I didn’t. And I’m glad.

Time flew by and before I knew it the van had returned to take me away from my wooded parlour of panic.

It turned out my fellow manimals hadn’t had such a great time. Their plush and huggable outfits were more conducive to cute photo-ops with runny-nosed toddlers and some minor babysitting by the porta-potties.

Incidentally Jonpaul did get a little taste of my experience that day. A young child was inconsolably traumatized by the sight of Jonpaul’s face peeking out the lion’s mouth, as if the beast were in the act of swallowing him. That was pretty cool.

So, I’d rank them thusly: 1. Making them scream 2. Making them laugh.

Okay, I’ll tell you (but you still have to listen to the show). Baron Von Goolo said his favorite thing is to first make them laugh, then, when they are disarmed and vulnerable, make them soil themselves. That bastard is sicker than I am.

Mission Accomplished

It’s confession time.


The family had gone to sleep. I was still up, alone and feeling curious. I found myself at the computer with a crazy desire to explore. My mind wandered along with my fingers, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit…I googled myself again. I guess I just can’t stop. I know it’s supposedly a natural thing to want to do, and I’m not the only one doing it, but still, it feels kind of naughty.

But you know what readers? I’m glad I did it, because I discovered something! The number one result of my googling is my first “Hello Internets!” blog entry! Mission accomplished! And when I say mission accomplished, I mean it!

I’ve come a long way in the land of the Googles and I owe it all to this blog. I want to thank everyone involved and apologize for claiming the whole enterprise was “a masturbatory waste of my time and talents.” I regret those comments, except for the masturbatory part, because it brings this humble blog entry full circle, back to its first paragraph and teasing set of images, all wrapped up tight and ready to post. Another success!

Now I’m going to look at internet porn and touch my privates.

Zing!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

True Stories up on Powells.com!

Want to hear all the audio from the night Jonpaul McLellan called "A triumph..."? The night my mom called, "completely humiliating"? The night some guy in audience called, "Show us your tits!"?

Well, it's all up at the Powell's bookcast!

One warning - okay, three:
1) Again - at the very beginning of the very first piece..a swear word. The big one. El Cursola Grande.
2) You will learn more about feminine hygiene than you ever, EVER wanted to know from Chelsea Cain. And yet you will be tranfixed. How will it all end? You'll just have to keep listening to find out!
3) Don't eat anything before listening to Kristin Hersh's story.

Heed those warnings, and you'll be fine.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More hot costumes filled with...the hotness.

In response to my...we'll call it a rant, Live Wire's essayist extraordinaire Stacy Bolt sent me a link to this lovely piece 'o' bidness. It is very very funny to me.

Warning: not work friendly due to extensive use of El "F" word. (Which also makes it not computer-in-the-nursery friendly, Catholic seminary friendly or checking-out-the-internets-with-your-gammy friendly.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Trick or treat, indeed.


Okay, so I have a question. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO HALLOWEEN? When, exactly, did costume shops start stocking women's outfits straight off the set of Ron Jeremy's "Night of 1,000 Skank Hos"? Not that I have anything against sexy women. Sexy women rule. Sexy women are fun. Sexy women can get almost anything they want from men. Well, straight men. Gay men just tend to want to borrow their shoes.

The thing is, I want Halloween to go back to the way it was. Back to women in hobo costumes with their teeth blacked out. Women dressed as pumpkins. Or witches. I mean, REAL witches, with long black robes and green faces and bigass, ugly warts. Not THIS kind of witch:



This kind of witch can't cast a spell on anyone. She's too busy checking the seam on her fishnets and re-applying her strawberry-scented lip gloss. And this witch won't scare me, except if she uses my toilet. In that case, I'm disinfecting. You just never know.

But it doesn't stop at witches. It seems all women's costumes have been infected with the Sex Kitten Virus. (Think bird flu, but with less coughing and more cleavage.) Walking around a Halloween party circa 2006, you'll be surrounded by women whose clothing has rendered them all but completely ineffectual in their chosen profession.


"Nurse, can you hand me the...holy shmolies!!!!"


Imagine. She's standing on a beam on the 32nd floor, drilling in rivets. But the team on the 31st floor? Completely worthless, due to two things: one, they're all totally entranced by the full-on, all-day crotch shot. (Who wouldn't be?) And two, they're all slightly disturbed by the sexual ambiguity of being attracted to a woman with a drill.


"Slide! Slide! Sl...oh crap. That's gonna leave a mark."


First real fire? Third degree burns. Pretty much everywhere.


This one's my favorite. It's a cheerleader for death! Especially popular in cancer wards.

Listen, I understand that there are few opportunities for most women to dress like strippers (unless they are strippers - then they're endless!), but can we leave Halloween alone? Do we, as woman, want to start dreading Halloween like we do swimsuit season - dieting and exercising like crazy so our "Supreme Court Justice With a Whip" costume (Now, with mini-robe and thigh-highs!), will knock 'em dead at the church Halloween Bazaar?

No. We don't. So please. Let's have one freakin' day where the pressure to be pretty is lifted. Halloween should be scary and fun and free of low-self-esteem attacks caused by size 0 women in plasticene nurses costumes that are definitely NOT sanitized for your protection.

C'mon, people! Say it with me now: Keep Halloween Ugly!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hide Your Stash


In an effort to find my perfect look, I've been experimenting, from month to month, with different facial hairstyles. I tried going clean-shaven, I tried clean-shaven with sideburns, I tried a full beard, a chin beard, the horseshoe, burnies, burnies with a doorknob, and most recently, a pencil or maybe it’s a pussy tickler, I’m not sure which.

Thankfully, I can always rely upon the honest opinions of my good friends and co-workers about which look is best for me. While attending the last Live Wire rehearsal, sporting my latest facial hair, a look I thought to be charming, amusing and sophisticated, I was greeted with these helpful comments:

"Did you lose a bet?"

"Are you trying to look like a child molester?"

And my personal favorite,

"Did you really think your face was the one to bring back the glory of the moustache for the rest of the male population?"

That afternoon I found myself in a bar nursing a beer and wondering, was there no one ready to embrace the splendor of my moustache?

Just then a woman came over and sat on the barstool next to me. "I love your cookie duster," she said.

My despair evaporated! I raised my head, smiling and turned to the angel who spoke those words! She was haggard, with bright red lipstick poorly applied and covering most of her chin. Powder blue eye shadow was smeared across her forehead and when she smiled I could see dark yellow stains covering her few remaining teeth.

"Yep," she said. "Nothing I like better than the feel of a cookie duster on my keister. If you know what I mean."

"I'm afraid I do," I replied in horror. "Thank you for the compliment madam, but I don't want to be anywhere near your cookie if it's been sitting around long enough to gather dust." Then I ran from the bar screaming.

I shaved as soon as I got home, but I kept the moustache, it's in a box at the back of my closet and someday when the world is ready, I will wear it proudly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

James Westby Saved My Life

Ten years ago I was cast in my first film role. I showed up on the set not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I had two lines in two different shots and I was playing some kind of Satanist. It wasn't until I got to the set that I found out I had a death scene - a death scene where I would get to fire a gun and wear a squib (an exploding blood sack). Talk about a young actor's wet dream!

At that point I would have done anything they asked of me and I sort of did. I let them draw gigantic Satanist tattoos all over my body with a sharpie, I wore the wife beater t-shirt that was smeared with garbage and gutter slime because it looked too new, and I let them rub bananas in my hair to make it look greasy. (Apparently no one had any hair gel.)

The first scene I was in had me running into a bedroom and screaming, "Who the fuck is in my room?" Then a guy hiding behind the door hits me in the head with a gun and knocks me out. The guy behind the door is the main character in the film and was played by local actor Melik Malkasian. Melik is a great actor, super funny, really intense and crazier than a spring break frat boy on speed.

While setting up for the shot, Melik and I are talking about the scene and how we can make it look real. Melik convinces me that the only way to make the scene believable is if he really hits me in the head with the gun. He promises to pull his punch so it shouldn't hurt too much. I, being young, naive and at this point willing to do anything for the movie, of course agree. Melik thinks we better practice the hit a few times and starts to reel his arm back.

Just then, James Westby, the director, comes walking into the room and sees Melik about to hit me. "What are you doing?" He asks.

"We were going to practice me hitting him in the head with the gun," Melik answers.

"You're not actually going to hit him, you know."

"It won't look real unless I get to hit him."

"I don't mind if he hits me with the gun," I chime in.

"No, no, no. We'll use a camera angle that makes it look like you're getting hit," James says.

"Come on. I would really like to hit him. It'll look great," Melik pleads.

"I don't mind getting hit if it helps the film," I tell him.

"I will not let him hit you with the gun. He could kill you."

That was the end of the discussion. Looking back now I'm thankful James said no to Melik. He probably saved my life - or at the very least, he saved me from a severe case of brain damage.

James Westby is going to be on Live Wire this Thursday. I hope something horrible happens so I can finally pay him the life I owe him. Maybe I'll get to push him out of the path of a falling light or save him from a rabid fan with a machete. Freaky accidents happen all the time. Let's hope for the best.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Who's the baby?



It started in the kitchen, as so many things do. "WELL. Are YOU the mom?" My 4-year-old daughter's voice dripped with scorn as she addressed her 9-year-old brother.

(It is amazing how scathing a 4-year-old can sound. How does such a small human learn such complex, hurtful, and, well, useful tools in such a short time on Earth? Especially presuming that early childhood should be filled with positive, life-affirming, and mind-expanding input including, but not limited to "WHO's the baby??? YOU are!!!" and "This little piggy went to market," and "No, I don't hate the president, I just think he makes bad choices." Then again, said 4-year-old's mother is me, so she may have advanced more quickly into the real world, purely out of a need to survive.)

"No, but YOU'RE not the mom either, ARE YOU?!" my son quickly retorted. Child the younger had just taken a deep breath and uttered the inflammatory phrase, "NO, but..." when I'd had enough.

"At this point, I'd be happy to give the job to either one of you, because no one wants to be the mom when you two are bickering like this." (I'm pretty sure I actually said "bickering." Who says "bickering?" Me, that's who. And I'm the mom.)

This silenced them for a bit as they considered the implications. The original argument (whatever it was) was forgotten as my son made the wise choice to quit while he was ahead. With five years more experience, he's gotten pretty good at figuring out when's a good time to just sit quietly lest he get peppered by the shrapnel. Little sis was quiet too, but for a different reason. I think we'd begun clearing the table when she dropped the bomb.

"But if you're not the mom, you're DEAD."

Huh?

"If you're not the mom," she clarified, "you're a skeleton! You're bones, in the GROUND!"

I took a moment to ponder this. I mean, I realize that a 4-year-old is developmentally programmed to figure out what everyone's purpose is in relation to HER: essentially, it's her universe and we're all just living in it. But when someone tells you that you are either a mom or bones in the ground, it can be pretty sobering.

I was never the girl who dreamed of growing up and having children. My babysitting experiences as a teenager confirmed this as I struggled through hour after monotonous hour of Candy Land, diaper changes, and preparing and cleaning up meals. I did not play on the swings and read the same picture book over and over again for my own enjoyment: I did it for the money. I did it for the things that money could get me. I used babysitting money to go on my class trip to Washington D.C.; for a week-long canoeing trip with the park service one summer; for a new bike. That paltry $1 an hour bought me my independence. (Being a mom is different than being a babysitter, of course. The rewards are far greater--but so are the challenges.)

You know what I found out? It's dang near impossible to feel independent when you're told that you're either a mom or you're dead.

I contemplated my reply. Should I tell her that, No, even if I had never had children I'd be a real alive person in the world, falling in and out of love, struggling to do work that I'm passionate about, singing songs of joy and devastation? Should I tell her that, while I realize that being a parent informs and deepens my experience when I read, write, hike in the woods, harmonize with someone, play frisbee, or work to find the whole truth of a scene I'm playing onstage, I rarely think about her while actually performing any of these acts? Should I mention how freeing it was to drink margaritas with the Pants Machine in their RV, be responsible for saving only myself when the fire broke out, and then not worry about how late I was staying up, because no one would be waking me up at some ungodly hour demanding breakfast?

No.

"I'll always be your mom, honey," I sighed. "For ever and ever."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why I'm Better Off On Radio


Provocative statement? Perhaps. The truth is, the reason I’m better off on radio has a whole lot to do with, well, my face. Now don’t get me wrong. I like my face just fine. It’s a fine face, and does all the things that a good face needs to do. It serves as a gateway to food (perhaps its most important function). It delivers an array of expressions which allow me to function more or less normally in society. It serves as a kind of vehicle for my facial hair (also an important function). In fact, you’d never know there was something dramatically wrong with my face by just looking at it. The problems arise whenever someone tries to take a picture of my face.

I can’t explain it. But anytime someone tries to take a picture of my face, I completely lose control of it. It’s like a pack of tiny demons inhabit my facial muscles, compelling me to: blink, squint, grimace, snarl, drool, leer (well, that one could just be me...). At my first wedding, there were so many pictures of a half-lidded, sleepy-looking, doltish nincompoop standing next to my wife (me...get it?) that my then-bride selected a wedding group photo for mass reproduction that featured 20 out of 21 people with glorious smiles and big bright eyes. I, of course, looked like I had briefly fallen asleep right as the flash went off, but that didn’t deter my first wife. She said it was the best picture overall, with the most amount of alert-looking people. Never mind that I was the GROOM, for Christ’s sake...
But I digress....

Recently, I had to have a photo shoot for an album that I recorded with my friend Marvella. There were three of us: Marvella, Rouke, and myself, all standing outside on a bright summer day. Rouke and Marvella remembered sunglasses. I, of course, didn’t, and came armed with only my face. We took a number of photos, but all I really remember was trying to keep my eyes open while looking into the sun. (It’s possible that some of you may see where this is leading...) Marvella called me a week later and told me that the photos really turned out well...except for me. My eyes were completely shut in most of them. This didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was what she said next. She and the photographer tried to “fix” my eyes. And this is where it gets kinda weird. Their solution was to graft (via photoshop) Marvella’s eyes onto mine. Which is what they did. Which is a great idea, except it’s crazy and makes no sense at all. Marvella’s eyes look really great on her (that’s why they're called “Marvella’s Eyes”). They made me look like a zombie. Then they went and added “light glints” to make Marvella’s eyes look more natural on me. But that just made me look like a zombie with someone else’s eyes in proper lighting. So they settled on photoshopping Rouke’s ray-ban sunglasses on me. Not a bad solution, I guess, except that now Rouke and I look like the Bobbsey Twins. Plus, when Rouke found out that I was to wear his sunglasses in the photo, he complained that at least I could ask him before I borrowed his stuff.

The clincher to this whole fiasco came later. My current wife, around whom I really try to keep my eyes open, looked at the photo on the back of the C.D. (now in print...) and declared that not only did I have Rouke’s glasses, but that I had his nose as well. Apparently, that was the only way to cleanly photoshop his glasses on to me. All that trouble, to fix my damn face for the back of the album. I suggested to Marvella that it might have been easier to just graft George Clooney’s head on my shoulders. Might even sell more albums. But she just smiled, and told me to keep my frigging eyes open next time.

And that, fair readers, is my self-effacing story of myself, my face, and my self’s FACE on my last photoshoot. Let’s hope to god it is in fact my LAST photoshoot. And now, back to the radio....

Photo courtesy of Wire Moore.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Moment of Truth

All I can say about "True Stories: A Night of Semi-Brutally Honest Non-Fiction in Spoken Word and Song," the show I just saw at Mississippi Studios, is wow.

Wow!

That's not much of a statement from a guy who aspires to be a writer, but after hearing the authors at last night's show I feel unworthy. Sure, I'm a little biased because I'm lucky enough to consider myself a friend of all of last night's authors and I hope they consider me a friend. Although, I may just be the crazy stalker guy that still geeks out around them becoming a complete tongue-tied dork that just stares and drools, that even now, is cringing so hard at the mere thought of one of them actually reading this post his butt puckers and he may have wet himself a little bit.

What was I talking about?

"True Stories: A Night of Semi-Brutally Honest Non-Fiction in Spoken Word and Song" featured Courtenay Hameister, Marc Acito, Chelsea Cain, Stacy Bolt, Jim Brunberg, and Kristin Hersh. I am in awe. They rocked the house. Can you rock a house by just reading an essay? Well, I was there last night and I say you can and they did. I laughed, but I was also moved. I was also a little jealous. Let me tell you it's tough wanting to be a writer when all your friends are great writers. I guess the important thing is; did I learn something? I did. I learned never to borrow a pen from Chelsea, not to get injured during cocktail hour and your chances of being murdered go up significantly if Marc paints your house. I also learned that truth makes the best fiction.

Sorry for that little rant before, about being jealous and all. I mean I'm thankful for the friendships, it just sometimes it feels like getting the keys to a starship and then realizing you have no idea how to fly the damn thing so you start pushing all the buttons and… well it's not really like that. It's more like you're Rocky in Rocky II except when you get your ass kicked in the seventh round you don’t come back and win the fight you start making out with Burgess Meredith. Err… wait. OK, it's not really like that either.

Umm… why am I blathering on? You can hear the great writing from Courtenay Hameister, Marc Acito, Chelsea Cain, Stacy Bolt, Jim Brunberg, and Kristin Hersh for yourself because the show is going to be podcast on Powells.com. As soon as I find the link I'll put it up here. It's worth hearing. (Maybe if someone out there knows where it is they'll let me know.)

I also took a few photos. This is the best of the bunch. From the left, Marc Acito, Courtenay Hameister, Stacy Bolt, Kristin Hersh and Chelsea Cain. I'm not sure who's dandruffy head that is.
Most of the pictures didn't turn out. It's a new digital camera and I haven't learned how to take a decent picture in a darkened room filled with people yet. I have taken some great pictures of my cats though. Like this!
And this!
What was I talking about? Oh yeah! Kitties!
So Cute!
Weeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DRINK RECIPE: Linsel's Jagged Gin and Tonic

Our trip to the Cycle Oregon event in Union is the stuff of legend. Kind of. Well...I thought it would be.

Maybe it was the adrenaline or (more likely) the liquor, but after the Pants Machine RV began belching flame and toxic smoke (and after I trampled poet Scott Poole on my way to safety) my first thoughts were of the many grand tales and songs of the occasion that we’d share with friends and fans back home. As we huddled in the chilly street we began telling the stories right there and then, to people we really didn’t need to tell, as they were there, then. It was Roshomon soaked in tequila.

Our loudly exaggerated accounts were punctuated by the hearty, careless laughter of people who thought they cheated death and lived to drink again. Bedside lamps and porchlights flicked on all over the sleepy neighborhood. Nearby, tired cyclists grumbled in their tents as the RV whined its fire alarm, ever more weakly. Out of concern for the now disturbed peace of our neighbors I would approach clumps of storytellers and shush them responsibly. But a minute later I’d find myself bellowing my own hyperbolic account, making jokes about live wires and flaming pants then being shushed by someone less drunk and more responsible than I.

Perhaps it was because of our immediate and exhaustive processing of the event that the tales are few and I’ve yet to hear any songs. (I’ll be very disappointed if Alan and the Pants don’t come up with one. This could’ve been their “Smoke On The Water.”)

There are still legendary elements of that perilous night that deserve tales told and I want to share one in particular before it fades into the haze of the brain cell graveyard.

Getting to the RV-that-was-rockin’-so-please-come-a-knockin’ was a trial in itself. At the close of our show there was no clear plan or destination for our after party. The cast, crew and guests of Live Wire dispersed to find an open bar or otherwise not-friggin-freezing location at which to celebrate. For about an hour my girlfriend and I wandered the empty streets of Union on a largely fruitless search. We did find one bar still open that contained some of our friends, but when the surly barmaid was seen zealously carding the elderly we knew we’d have to hoof it back to the tent for ID. By the time we returned, our posse had left the bar so we did the same.

The partay prospects were looking more and more grim. We decided to wander past the RV on our way back to camp where we’d sadly, soberly slumber. There we found the encouraging sight and sound of way too many people crammed in a recreational vehicle parked crookedly on somebody’s front lawn. We were surprised however to find Union’s finest (and possibly only) police officer cuffing a belligerent drunk in the grass. We quickly determined it wasn’t one of our drunks and were further relieved to observe our group partying on inside, undeterred by the potential buzzkill outside. In fact, if you’re going to plan a noisy drunken party in a sloppily parked RV in a quiet neighborhood of a tiny peace-loving town, it’s a GREAT idea to have an angry drunk local stationed outside to occupy any police that might happen by.

So we partied! Finally! It was cramped and a little smelly and there was another weird towny guy inside making things interesting. But it was a party! I even went outside a few times to help the cop with his arrest by holding the flashlight, and going through the “perp’s” wallet. (I wasn’t as instrumental in this endeavor as our own Amy Stevens, who was so professional and helpful to the policeman I started to suspect she was a narc.) We discovered from his ID that the drunk guy was actually minding his own drunk-ass business in his own front yard (our unwitting host!) but made the mistake of getting physical when Johnny Law happened by. I salute you, drunken scrapper! You played your fateful, enabling role well.

It was there, next to the toilet, peering out the RV’s back window upon the scene of our host’s misdemeanor that I sampled Linsel’s Jagged Gin and Tonic.

Linsel Greene, friend of Live Wire, took pity on my sober state and fashioned me the drink that would make me merry, and later, lubricate me enough to smoothly slide through the figurative tight spot of a crowded RV fire. From then on it was either tightly gripped in my hand, held aloft in toast, happily passed amongst friends or (believe it or not) sloshing around in the pocket of my coat.

Yes, this blog entry does have a point and this is it. The recipe. I will try and present it as I observed it being created.

Ingredients:

3 inches of warm Schwepp’s Tonic Water forgotten in the bottom of the plastic bottle.

An equal portion of Tanqueray Gin containing swig backwash from friends and strangers and probably drunk belligerent dude from the lawn outside.

Something mysterious that kept bobbing against my lips but was never identified, possibly from my pocket.

Ice.

Directions:

Step one: Cut tonic bottle in half with rusty kitchen knife, leaving plenty of jagged plastic points on rim.

Step two: Pour gin/backwash mixture into tonic bottle (now the drinking glass.)

Step three: Dump in a dirty handful of melting ice from equally dirty RV sink and swirl.

Step four: Allow a moment for alcohol to kill deadly bacteria from rusty knife, soiled hands and dirty sink.

Step five: Enjoy!

Step six: Repeat.

Except...there's no repeating this one-of-a-kind concoction. You can try. That's the idea behind a recipe I suppose.

Not being a fan of tonic, especially, I found this mixture exceptional. To my understanding tonic was invented as a means of administering the medicine quinine, so gin and tonic seems a bit like scotch and Robitussin, or rum and Pepto-Bismol.

So thanks go to Linsel, and his contribution to one aspect of that legendary fiery night under the stars of Union; immortalized in blogform, and saved in the nick of time from the dim oblivion of the bygone.

And thanks to whoever picked up the drink’s empty plastic shell, which I abandoned on the street when the warm, convivial feeling it produced had cooled and gone taciturn. Give a hoot, don't pollute.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Let me stand next to your fire.

Thanks Courtenay. I don’t drink tequila (it’s the devil) so I have a pretty solid memory of the wheelings and dealings that night. Whoa. I just wrote wheelings, like as in wheels, on say… an RV! I don’t know much about the RV. I know it was an atrocious recent movie with Robin Williams and that guy just ended up in rehab, so that should say it all. I also know that there were 12 to 190 people sitting in a small one along with Alan Singley and Pants Machine. We had finished our show and were trying to a) stay warm b) drink stuff c) discuss the theories of Max Plank.

Wouldn’t you know it, but just like in a slasher film, all the lights go off. Whoever’s operating the interior system of this RV restarted them up, but sho’ nuff’, they went dead again. This happened oooohhhhhhhhhhh, I dunno, about five times, before someone dashed out the door like they saw a tarantula scorpion (nearly extinct). This maneuver, as we found out ten seconds later, was to flee the fire that had begun on auxillary batteries beneath the RV sofa. I guess extra weight had pushed down on the battery coils shorting them out and every time we turned back on the RV, we were only tempting fate.

So now the fire has spread to the cushions, and we all disembark (do you “disembark” from a RV?) and either a band member, a mysterious drifter, or some phantom of the night hands me a fire extinguisher. It wasn’t one of those 50 pound proton pack behemoths that you saw in Backdraft, but rather something about the size of a RedBull. I whipped off the safety strip (‘cause who needs safety right?) and gave it a trial squirt. Pslat! We’re good to go. So I jollyjump back inside and make my way to the sofa which is gurgling smoke like every car I’ve ever driven during a first date. It takes me a good twelve seconds before all the foam or whatever is out of the extinguisher but alas, the fire is defiant. So I entrust my right leg (who I call “Lefty”) and jam it down the chargrilled holes in the sofa, attempting to stamp out the flames like a Rhinocerous (hey, who hasn’t seen “the Gods Must Be Crazy?). I think it goes out, and if on cue, my eyes and lungs throw in the towel and convince me to get the hell outta there.

So I do. And I cough like it’s my first cigarette for three minutes straight. My eyes have watered profusely and due to the smoke and good ‘ol Union, Oregon dirt, I now look like Tammy Faye Baker. I cough some more and when I see my first bit of pulpy lung come out, I decide to call it a night. That’s all I remember. At some point, I realized that watching the escapade from outside the RV was probably more entertaining than watching that Robin Williams movie. Good thing I get paid more than him. Oh wait… shit.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ssh! Antelope!

Hello fellow bloggers, readers of blogs and government computers that sift through blogs in search of keywords that might indicate terrorist activity! You’re the bomb!

It’s exciting to be a part of a blog! What a great opportunity to create more and better results when I Google myself!

So far, I’d compare my blogging style to the dialogue in the comic strip Mark Trail! In that beloved King Features syndicated series every sentence ends with an exclamation point! Even when our animal-savvy hero (coincidentally named Mark Trail) quietly sneaks up to a nest of hatching quail or a timid herd of antelope, he ends up SHOUTING something about it! The same thing happens in Apartment 3G! I’d hate to live in 2G or 3F or whatever apartment is next door as I think I’d find all the screaming very disturbing! Does anyone in that apartment have an inside voice?

Dang it. With the above rhetorical question I just shattered my dream of an exclusively exclamation-point-punctuated blog. Nothing to do now, but return to my original goal of increasing my visibility in the Googleverse.

Tyler Hughs. tylerhughs. hughs, tyler.

Please note, there is not an e in my name. Well there's the one. But it's hardly silent. I ask you: what's the point of adding a vestigial e in "Hughs," silent as a fart in an elevator, when there's already two silent letters in there anyways? What am I, French?

Now when you or I enter “Tyler Hughs, celebrity” or “charismatic, brilliant, masterful lover, hope for our future, Tyler Hughs” we can all find what we’re looking for: me! And when Google asks:

Did you mean tyler hughes

or

Did you mean “trailer hitches

...answer NO…with an exclamation point!

And before you call my first foray into the blogosphere indulgent and self-serving, consider what I’ve done this day for Mark Trail, Apartment 3G, Tyler Hughes and trailer hitches. As my flickering spark of Google light grows brighter, so does theirs.

And I’m glad of it…except for in the case of Tyler Hughes. That guy can suck it.

Sean + smoke inhalation = brain damage?

Okay, the thing that happened in Union wasn't Sean saying hello to his Gammy. Sean, you wanna finish the story?

I Blogged myself

Hi Grandma, I miss you very much. I hope to see you for Thanksgiving. I will eat a lot of turkey. And then maybe watch football. Are you going to get drunk again and hit my brother behind the ear? I will see you soon. Bye, love, -Sean

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blog Day 1: The Hangover

Hi. I'm Courtenay, and along with my fellow "Hello, Internets!" bloggers, we make the comedy. Most of that comedy happens on a Portland, Oregon radio variety show called "Live Wire," but some of it happens while we're just sitting around our houses enjoying some Coco Puffs. We'll put it all here. Because we care about you, the reader. And you, the grocery-store shopper. And also you, the wealthy guy who wants to give our show money. Mostly that last guy.

Last Friday we found ourselves in a 12-passenger van, returning from our first-ever road trip outside Portland. As we approached the city, we were all looking out over the stunning beauty of the Gorge thinking, "Wow. This would be so much nicer if I didn't feel like my head was in a vice and a rodent ate my tongue and replaced it with its own body." See, there was a little bit of drinking the night before.

We were in Union, Oregon, performing a show for the bikers on the 500 mile Cycle Oregon ride - which this year passed through Heppner, Sumpter, Lake Wallula and some other places that sound totally fake. We performed the show outdoors in what was...I don't know...-17 degree weather, and then moved on to more important things. Like booze.

The majority of the Live Wire staff was drinking margaritas, expertly mixed by Pat, our Siren of Sound, in the kinda-too-small-to-hold-25-people 1970's-era RV of our guest band that night, Alan Singley and Pants Machine. I had mostly stayed out of the RV, due to a combination of claustrophobia and the close quarters reminding me that I took up a smidge too much space in the world. But that's for another post. At around 11:45, I left the RV to get more tequila. And that's when the real excitement began.

I'll let Sean tell the rest, for reasons that will become obvious later.