Friday, February 27, 2009

Auspicious Readings

Speaking of books and all that literacy stuff, what's mrpeenee reading these days? I'm glad you asked. I'm re-reading the Judge Dee series, a weird little series of mysteries written in the 40's. Here's the low-down by Wikipedia, because I'm too lazy to recreate it:

Robert Hans van Gulik (髙羅佩) (August 9, 1910, Zutphen - September 24, 1967, The Hague) was a highly educated orientalist, diplomat, musician (of the guqin) and writer, best known for the Judge Dee mysteries, the protagonist of which he borrowed from the 18th century Chinese detective novel Dee Goong An.

Van Gulik was the son of a medical officer in the Dutch army of what was then called the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia).The Judge Dee character is based on the historical figure
Di Renjie (c. 630–c. 700), magistrate and statesman of the Tang court. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China, a "folk novel" was written about Judge Dee. Van Gulik translated it into English and had it published under the title Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee. This gave him the idea of writing his own novels, set with the similar Ming anachronisms, but using the historical character.

Yadda yadda yadda. Whatever. The interesting parts of the books are the background Van Gulik packs in about Ming China. For instance, did you know hookers then used to turn tricks on watercraft called Flower Boats? I didn't think so.

The "mysteries" are a very small step above Nancy Drew and depend on the most amazing coincidences ever. Since English was Van Gulik's second language, the writing has a charming awkwardness to it, but throughout, the characters erupt into the most fabulous intemperate language. Just try dropping some of these specimen into your conversation and see if your life isn't improved:

"Impious dog!"

"August Heaven!"

"Impertinent monkey!"

All Good Things

Stacey's, my favorite bookstore for years, is closing. In January, they announced the end was near and they've had signs up stating they would shut down in "mid March" (so bookish to have a vague description rather than a hard date.) I've watched the shelves empty as stock is not replaced, but I hadn't been in there for a couple of weeks and it was startling to see today that the whole place is more than half-empty.

I know, I know, bookstores everywhere are a dying breed. But Stacey's (less than a block form my office! Dammit!) was the best you could ask for in a book seller. They had the best stock, were spotlessly clean, and most of the people there were always pleasant. Their emphasis was always books, and not books some marketing flack was peddling as a tie-in to some upcoming movie. Books that were reliably interesting. I'd stop in a couple of times a month and never left without finding something. How often can you say that about some other store?

So, come "mid March" the world will be slightly dimmer. It's not the end of the world, I understand, but, oh my, it hurts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comment on Comments

As we were just saying to houseboy Rainer Humbertus, it's the sassy grief we get from all our beloved, if slightly insane, readers (see comments in the post below) that makes maintaining a blog such a joy.

And did you notice Rainer's nipples bear a striking resemblance to gumdrops? I thought you might.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Return of Unfortunate Good Taste

A little more than a year ago, I redecorated my bedroom. In the process, I briefly toyed with a color palette best described as Excessive Good Taste. It was taupe and gold, based on a roll of fabric I had won at a charity auction years ago and never had figured how to use. Fortunately, I remembered in time that I don’t actually like Good Taste. I can admire it in the abstract, but the idea of living with something Barbara Bush would go for just failed to appeal to me. I wound up using indigo with bright orange accents. Quiet refinement it’s not.

So I still had the damn roll of fabric, lurking in a closet like a woven rebuke. Sometimes the burden of possessions is a weighty one. I felt like I needed to use it, it was there after all. Maybe in the guest room, for instance.

Over the years, we have painted all the interior of our house brilliant clear colors: cobalt, hot pink, plum. The front hall is contrasting walls of gold and red, even the laundry room is turquoise. All the rooms except the pathetic guest room. I originally picked pale green for it thinking it might be sophisticated and soothing for the frazzled nerves of our company. Instead it turned out to be something closer to Nurse Cherry Ames’ dorm room.
I’ve hated that fucking mint green for years. My one absolute decorating mistake.

This weekend, I had the brilliant idea of covering the walls with the taupe and gold Salute to Barbara Bush fabric I had rejected for my own room. It really is beautiful and luxurious fabric, I think it’s silk and cotton with a velvety nap and the repeating pattern of lotus blossoms gives it a kind of Asian feel. Beautiful stuff.

Urban Street Pirate (god love him) helped me put it up, it was a snap, a couple of hours and boom, all done. And now, voila (or walla, as someone once wrote to me in a very disturbing email) I now have a room transformed. It’s just a shame that it’s been transformed from dull to boring. Honey, if the World’s Fair is ever looking for a Pavilion of Granny’s Wallpaper, I got it ready for them. How did I forget Barbara Bush and how I feel about her as a design icon? Plus now I’m wracked with guilt over sucking the Pirate into all that hard work for a project I’m pretty sure I hate.

R Man swears he likes it, but I think that’s part of the whole for-better-or-worse thing, in this case the “or-worse” being my decorating idea. I’m leaning strongly towards ripping it all down and going back to the Cherry Ames hospital green, but first I’m going to finish the room and see if I like it better. It seems unlikely.

Anyway, I’ll post pictures later and we can all vote on it. Won’t that be jolly?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Future Foretold

While digging up the picture of me and R Man from Mardi Gras gone by, I also ran across this photo of my paternal great-grandparents, Maggie and Philip Whitnebert. Maggie obviously lives up to my family's legends of her: mean and crazy as a shit house rat. She is also, I now realize, the one member of my family that I most closely resemble as I dwindle into curmudgeonly old age.

Oh dear.

Mardi Gras Madness

It's time for my annual Pining for New Orleans at Carnival whine. Tuesday, Feb. 24, is Mardi Gras, which, obviously, makes this the weekend before Mardi Gras, one of the great high points of queer life in NOLA. Humpy guys from out of town pouring into the French Quarter looking for a good time, everybody leading the sleazy high life, madness as thick as Jello flavored with LSD. I miss it more than I miss my hair.

Costuming is a big part of Mardi Gras and I always planned to make something spectacular, but I never got around to it and so would always just wind up pulling bits and pieces together that morning and wandering out of the house into the insanity. I can hear true Carnival fans grinding their teeth at this admission all the way from here, but I always figured a big part of my Mardi Gras celebration involved pulling my pants down, so I never wanted anything that would interfere with that. Most of my "costumes' were actually pretty disposable, which was a good thing considering how beat up they became. Case in point:

Here we have R Man and me on Mardi Gras morning, I think maybe the last year we lived in New Orleans. R Man looks irresistibly dapper in his Navy uniform, I look like I have fallen into a rag bag. My mother took this picture as I was standing there smiling sweetly and tripping like a million screaming monkeys. Who wouldn't miss that?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bad Houseboy. Bad, Bad Houseboy.

Unfortunately, what with our frequent trips out of town lately, the houseboys have been slacking off dreadfully. Franciscus Patricius, for instance, hasn’t even looked at the chapters in Critique of Pure Reason I assigned him and also failed to file my state income tax. I’m afraid I’m going to have really crack the whip, so to speak, to get everybody back in line and you know how I hate to be perceived as a disciplinarian.

At least our new patented House Boy Wander Guard and Alarm System kept that awful gang of Thombeau, TJB, Jason, Ray Ray, Larry and all the rest of you from pilfering any of the goods while our back was turned. Honestly, you just can’t trust those rough girls.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Friendly Skies

We had a 4:55 return flight from Dulles Monday evening, got there early (oh, the thrill of telling your in-laws “We have to leave now,” even if it is six hours before your flight,) breezed through security, had a lovely neck massage, and then found out our flight was delayed until 6:30. Any surprise there? Certainly not. The surprise came when we had just settled in to wait and a breathless announcement came in: “Everybody get on the plane. If we can get everyone loaded and the door closed in NINE MINUTES we can leave.”

Nine Minutes. To load a 75 seat Airbus. In these troubled times, it was heartwarming to see a group of people pull together for a common goal: to get on the FUCKING PLANE. Businessmen scrambling down the jetway like chorus girls. Grown men trampling old ladies, old ladies trampling children. Carry-on bags being flung willy nilly into any compartment at hand. Thrilling.

And then we sat there. And sat there. Why? Because there was one lousy row, directly across the aisle from mrpeeneee and R Man still empty. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of an entire planeful of passengers willing the whole thing to lift off, a family with two kids strolled in, ambled down the aisle, and began setting up camp in the row as the flight crew kept chanting “Just sit down, just sit down, we can’t leave until you just sit down.”

Of course, once they actually settled in and then switched seats a couple of times, the pilot came on the PA system to announce we had missed the departure window and would be sitting at the gate for the next hour. It’s times like these when one grasps how sensible it is not to allow people to carry sharp objects onto planes. Certainly, as much as he abhors bloodshed, mrpeenee would have led the pack as we turned on those fuckers and hacked them into hamburger meat with our Swiss Army knives.

Friday, February 13, 2009

That's Saint Peenee to You

But I don't want to go to Annapolis. R Man's father is a cranky old jerk and his sister is both crazy and boring. Both of them are mean to R Man and it makes me crazy watching them manipulate him. But, you know, I guess it's better to have someone at your back when facing down irritating relatives and that's my job.

Plus, this morning as we're trying to get ready to leave, we discovered the cat was running around with a piece of string he had apparently eaten and partially pooped out hanging out of his butthole. So I had to put on rubber gloves and pull it out. I know, I know: disgusting. But the cat WAS RUNNING AROUND WITH A PIECE OF STRING HANGING OUT OF HIS BUTTHOLE. What was I supposed to do?

I am a living saint.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And They're Off! Again.

We leave Friday morning for Annapolis, to visit R Man's crusty old father and neurotic sister.  We've just got restless feet, gadabouts, gypsies.  Plus R Man is a much better son than I am.  I figure my family got twenty years out of me before I split, what more do they want?  If they had something interesting to say, why didn't they spit it out then?

So anyway, at least we're no longer camping out in their basement; instead we'll be in a charming new Westin downtown.  Room service and nice beds, hoo hoo.  Annapolis is a lovely colonial town, stuffed full of cool Federal architecture.

And studly midshipmen from the Naval Academy there, many of whom could be doing much better in the finer adult film studios.  Instead they're just wasting their hunkiness on some dumb stupid career.  Sheesh.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Home again, home again

Well, that was terribly amusing.  Down to LA and back in three days time, thanks in large part to mreenee's driving.  Usually R Man is reluctant to allow me to take the wheel because of my well established opinion that anyone in the left hand lane doing less than 90 is a traffic hazard, an opinion I'm happy to share with them, in sign language, as I shove my way past.  This time, though, he was distracted worrying about the trial he was going down there for so he handed over the driver's seat and, hoo hoo, we were off.

This is what it looked like as we wheeled out of the Bay Area.  The rainy season here can be so pretty. 

This is what it looked like in the pass just outside of Los Angeles, in a treacherous, mountain area called the Grapevine.  Welcome to sunny Southern California, indeed.  I've mentioned how suspicious I am of snow, raised as I was on the Gulf Coast, so my theory was to just ignore it and drive really fast to get out of it more quickly.  Worked great.

We had lunch at Clifton's cafeteria, a relic of the Great Depression.  Not this one, silly, the last one.  They have fabulous terrazzo murals outside, but I was in too much of hurry to get to the steam tables to get any good shots. Sorry.

Naturlement, the interior is decorated to look like a redwood grove.  That's appropriate since many of the regulars look like they came straight from sleeping under a log.  Did I mention there's an animated raccoon that pops up out of a carved rock?  Oh yeah.

Jellos of many lands.

The Specialitie d'Maison, tapioca.

The Urban Street Pirate and I made a trip out to the Saint Vincent de Paul's Thrift Store in Lincoln Heights, mostly because the reviews of it were so scathing.  All of them accurate, too. Fortunately we are both capable of being amused by how bad a junk store can be.   This one just happened to be the biggest, nastiest, scruffiest one I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty.  The level of quality was universally dreadful; everything there looked like it had been thrown away at least once.  This was the only time my insatiable love of crap has actually been thwarted.

There was a crowd of people waiting at the front door when we arrived, shortly afterward someone rolled a gate open and they surged forward into a fenced off area, literally running to get to bins of unsorted clothing.  My favorite part was when someone screamed "OW."  You don't get to experience moments like that at Nieman's.

Their finer dishware selection.  Melamine and plastic, and some of it was clean.

Fashions pour madame.

Really cool bits and scraps of leftover art deco architecture remain in downtown.

As does art.

The view from our room was sweet. Oh, and R Man, as predicted, knocked his trial opponent's dick in the dirt.  Yeah Man.

Miss Janey protests that we didn't get together.  Next time, sweetie, I swear.  We can meet for tea at Clifton's Cafeteria.  By the raccoon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

To Live and Die....

Me and Urban Street Pirate in LA Xmas '08, freezing.

We're hot-footing it back down to Los Angeles tomorrow for a very quick trip (back on Wednesday.) R Man has a trial there and has to go be all Perry Mason and stuff. Urban Street Pirate and I are going along for moral support and to hang out together while R Man knocks his opponents' dicks in the dirt. I have the one day we're going to be there all planned out as a whirl of thrift stores. R Man tragically has never gotten the thrill of prowling through other people's crap, it's the only area we disagree on. So in all these trips to the Southland, I consistently point out the many fabulous looking junk stores and he speeds up.

This then is my perfect chance. With him distracted, the Pirate and I will sweep through castoff heaven. Here's part of the Yelp review of St. Vincent de Paul's there, described as the biggest thrift store in captivity:
Waste transfer station or thrift store? You decide! You'll find here splintered and damaged particle board furniture, rows of used mattresses, broken and irregular chairs, all sorts of soiled and damaged sundry bric-a-brac that look like they were Goodwill discards. I recommend donning a Tyvek body suit to avoid picking up any bed-bugs on your clothes. Be sure to check out the awesome collection of post apocalyptic Katrina Cars and derelict boats in the back parking lot!

It sounds too fabulous for words. And Bed Bugs? What kind of pussy wrote this? I've been in second hand stores where you needed to be concerned about picking up scurvy and typhus; a few measly vermin aren't about to scare me off. And it's not all about scoring a find. One of my favorite things about junking is to diss the store, in fact, I have used the phrase "Goodwuil discards" myself. Gleefully.

Plus, excellent sounding Mexican food downtown for dinner Tuesday after a hard day shaking the racks of thrift stores throughout the metro area. I can't wait.

Watch for reports of developments as they occur.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What's for Dinner?

What did you have for dinner?    We had petit fours

By the fireplace.

Which sounds terribly romantic, in a cheesy, Playgirl sort of way, but in fact was just what we had on hand.  Plus later I had white bean soup with cranberry jello.  Not terribly Playgirl.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stylin', Take 2

The LA Times features the home of a singer in the band Counting Crows today. $8.25 million for a property that exudes the cozy charm of a tuberculoses sanitarium.
A tuberculoses sanitarium decorated by Carmella Soprano, it would appear.
And a library with 26 books in it. I counted.

Amazing. The guy sounds like a neo hippy from Berkeley (natch) and the house looks like a factory for Lladro figurines. More here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pete Shelley - Homosapien

How I adore this song. It's more than 25 years old, imagine. Pete Shelley is the cutest leprechaun ever. Ever. And dig his fabulous computer machine.


Michael Guy over at Temporary Troublespots pointed us to a quiz (at Ethan Allen’s, of all things) to help the style deaf among us discover What’s Your Style.

Turns out my style is estate:

The verdict is in—your style is Estate. Estate is an eternal American summer. Sporty. Charming. Breezy yet cultivated. A union of antique inspiration and geometric clarity. Civilization in peaceful coexistence with robust outdoor life. In the main house or the guest cottage, effortless elegance.
This online portfolio shows your style. Brought to life in rooms. A subtle mix of furniture, accessories, and attitude. Different “looks.” Because every home should be unique.

What is that gibberish? It’s like they took random words and inserted some punctuation and called it a day. Plus, as I mentioned in outraged tones to Michael, isn’t “Estate” code for “Garage Sale?”

Boy Talk

A completely unsolicited remark by sarospice at the Fabulon party about how cute Rod the Blog is has encouraged me to come out of the Impeached Governor closet and admit I would do him in a second. I imagine his buttocks are as white and soft as pizza dough waiting to be rolled out. I want to spank him.

In my defense, I also find the following dreamy:
Matthew Mitcham, the Aussie gay Olympian. Isn't he adorable? I want to spank him too, but not hard.

Mark Frechette from the Antonioni film Zabrieski Point. I may have not spelled any of those nouns correctly, but look at Those eyes, Those nipples.

John Abraham. Did our dear Muscato just faint? Again?

Andy Cooper. Who is totally not gay, by the way. As he told his big black boyfriend right after Mr. Boyfriend Who Has No Name finished stuffing the Cooper heinie like a Thanksgiving turkey "I am so not gay. Again."

Yul Kwon, the Survivor winner. A local boy. As are those abs.

Superbowl Monday

I was driven from my office (not that it takes much to make me head for the great outdoors) by two competing conversations about that stupid Super Bowl thing yesterday. Eventually they merged into one cacophony shouted across my cube. I perceived, vaguely, that the Arizona Watchamacallits were not considered stellar talent worthy of the great contest. So why are you still talking about it today? I have learned to let go and move on from my disappoint that Mario Lopez is potentially heterosexual; why can’t you do the same about some idiotic game?

I thought about joining in, just to show I’m a good sport, but whenever I consider big muscley men running around in tight pants and jock straps, I’m reminded of a quote by Jason, over at Night is Half Gone: “all roads lead back to Porn.” I decided to just sneak off to the gym instead.

Of course, if they had actually wanted me to contribute, they could have held a lively discussion of something actually interesting. Like Sunset Boulevard. I would have been glad to share my thoughts that the best scene in the movie is the one where they bury the monkey, but nobody asked me. Typical.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What a Swell Party It Was

What a lovely party.   Thombeau had added one of those chat thingies to Fabulon and everyone huddled there at the agreed upon time and started whaling away on our keyboards.  Very amusing, and just like a real party where no one can hear what anyone else is saying so the conversations tend to be disjointed and nonsensical, but without all that annoying "What?" and "huh?" rubbish.

And star studded?  Darling, you just don't know.  Madonna.  Stevie Nicks.  April Ames.  Sandra Bernhardt, too, although she was so loaded she kept signing on as sarospice.  I know Cher wanted to come, but since her "computer" is actually an old Etch-a-Sketch that Chastity left behind when she made her break for it, it sort of didn't work out.

The only problem was that I found a runaway houseboy in my bag when I got home.  Octavius Philanthus has begged us not to send him back, so what could I do, I had to grant him Refugee Booty status.  The other houseboys are grumbling, of course, but I think it's important that they learn to share, don't you?

In Which We Are Arty

  When we were in Paris in April (and I love any story where I'm able to casually mention I was in Paris recently. Ooh la la.) anyway, w...