Monday, January 21, 2008

Sometimes, Kids are O.K.

Don't get me wrong. Most of the time, I believe children are the reason that God (or whoever) invented Swiss Boarding Schools. Seriously.

But the look on this child's face as Slappy McAsshat leans over to share his MLK-day deep thoughts... that's a look you can't fake, and you can't spin.

Child, whoever you are... for this moment, you're O.K. with me.

Don't let it go to your head, however. Tomorrow you'll most likely just be another annoying pre-teen.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Poke, Wrap, Wheeeee!

OK, it's time that I came out of the closet.

No, not that closet. Christ, I've been out of that closet so long I think the hanger-prints are finally starting to fade from the back of my skull.

No, I'm referring to the knitting closet.

I am a knitter.

Strangely, it wasn't a lot less disconcerting to say that publicly than it was the first time I had to say out loud, "yes, I'm gay." And at least the gay thing, people mostly get. They may not like it, but they get it. But knitting? WTF?

It goes way back. My paternal grandmother crocheted and tatted. I mean doilies. I mean big, complicated, holy fuck kinda doilies. Meanwhile, my maternal grandmother was multi-craftual. My grandfather died shortly before I was born, leaving a 45 year-old woman with 5 children ranging in age from 25 to 15. She wasn't going to be taking care of little kids... so what she did was start to craft. Anything. I mean anything. Decorated egg-crate Christmas trees. Decorated goose eggs. Knitting. Crochet. Embroidery. Sewing. You name it, my Nana tried it, and had a back shed full of craft supplies to prove it. As a little gay kid, my Nana's back shed was a real wonderland... jars and jars full of the most amazing buttons a 5 year old has ever seen... construction paper in every color of the rainbow... magic markers, crayons, cool old postcards to decoupage... you get the basic idea.

My first knitting project was on a Spoolie made for me by my Nana. Spoolies, for the uninformed, are wooden thread spools with nails driven into the top... a kind of home-made version of knitting looms that they sell in craft stores now. I sat on her livingroom carpet for hours, watching Abbott & Costello movies on Channel 29 and making miles and miles of spoolie (OK, so it was I-cord. Happy now?)

I don't think anything ever came of the product of my Spoolie... maybe a potholder or something, but the memory eludes me. True to form, even then I was not a "product" knitter, I was a "process" knitter. The joy of wrapping the yarn, pulling loops over the tops of the nails and watching the knitted cord come out the bottom of the spool was all that I needed - actually getting a usable item out of the thing was just gravy, dude.

Fast forward about 30 years. . Ok, maybe 35.

I've made a few hats, scarves, fingerless mitts. I even attempted and completed a French Market Bag. Woo-hoo! I'm right now in the process of trying my first, honest-to-god, turn-the-heel and full-on-gusseted sock. Can't touch this!

Who invented size 1 dpns? Were they out of their fucking minds? Do you have any idea how many stitches it takes to make an inch of fabric?

I don't care. If I actually get a pair of socks out of this... you guessed it. Gravy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Going Back West

Well, honestly, it may or may not happen. We'll see.

A friend of mine from my San Diego days wants me to come visit. He's now in Long Beach - marginally better than San Diego, some may say. Others may just shake their heads knowingly and say softly "well... whatever."

The trip has nothing to do with wanting to visit SoCal. I can state categorically and without bitterness or rancor that I could die happily (far in the future, of course) without ever seeing the brown hills and fucked-up freeways of San Diego, Orange and LA Counties ever, ever again.

No, this trip is about friendship.

I am not a good friend. I don't say this as a way to fish for negating statements to the contrary. My friendships, few as they are, are even now tenuous, delicate things that may perish by way of wanton neglect or active sabotage. A few of my friends from San Diego (if they ever read this, which I doubt) know exactly what I'm talking about.

I've never been the kind of person who works hard at maintaining a friendship. Or a relationship of any kind, come to think of it. Maybe I'm just supremely self-involved, self-interested and selfish. Maybe I have one of those self-destructive personalities that can't believe that someone would actually want to be my friend and so, Q.E.D. cannot be a friend to another person.

I hope this is not true, as it would validate all of the negative feelings I've ever had towards myself. Vicious Cycle, anyone? Anyone?

But my friend is having a bad time. Not the kind of bad time you have when you end up at a movie theatre watching something that should've been cut up to make guitar picks the day before it was released. No, my friend is having a Seriously. Bad. Time.

I'm honestly not sure how to handle this. Do I pretend it's not happening? Do I try to joke and sarcasm my way through yet another challenge that life throws my way? Do I actually express my feelings and make myself vulnerable, let myself feel the anger and sadness and frustration and grief?

I dunno.

Sarcasm, irony and schadenfreude have been my go-tos for so long now that any other choice is waaaaay outside my comfort zone. To quote Shirley MacLaine in Steel Magnolias ...

"Are you high, Clairee?"


Monday, January 14, 2008

The End of an Era, Part II

This one really hurts.

I spent January 2002 to June 2006 in San Diego, CA. I won't go into the long list of pros and cons of San Diego... people who love it, love it; those who don't so much love it, don't, and ne'er the twain shall meet.

One of the blessings (and as a non-Christian I don't use that term loosely) of my time in San Diego, however, was to meet Kevin Cavanaugh. Kevin was the mastermind behind Blue Velvet, a self-described "retro lounge act" whose brilliance had to be seen to be believed.

Imagine, if you will, a sharkskin-jacketed vocalist/keyboard player/impresario, backed by 2 chicks dressed as 1967 bridesmaids, singing a totally-lounged-out arrangement of "Born To Be Wild" or a brilliantly conceived medley of ABBA tunes, whilst wearing gowns and wigs that would make Emma Peel or Lady Bird Johnson absolutely green with envy. If you can imagine this, you are either a total stoner, or you actually managed to catch "Blue Velvet" at one of their gigs.

I met Kevin shortly after I arrived in San Diego, and became a total, "oh-my-god-I'm-a-teenaged-girl" fan. Even more incredibly (for me, not for the audience), I had the chance to sing with him several times when he played at The Caliph, a bar that I can charitably describe as - ahem - "The Wrinkle Room". We even had an abortive attempt at a guy-group cleverly referred to as "Aqua Velvet". Wait... does one gig count? Need I say more? It died a death and probably the world is better for it.

Kevin is not only an amazing musician, but a genuinely helluva nice guy. He's one of those guys for whom I wish nothing but great things... and if you know me, you know how rare that is. I'm not really evil... I'm just very sparing with praise...

Anyway, it turns out that after more years in SD than I, Kevin has decided to return to the land of his ancestors, namely Grand Rapids, MI. Now, I'm not about to go on about MI having the highest unemployment rate in the country - let Mitt Romney answer for that in his campaign speeches. And Kevin, I already did the "going back to my roots" thing... imitation is just tacky, dude.

I will, however, join those in San Diego in mourning the fact that Blue Velvet will no longer be gracing stages there... they were amazing, and the fact that they were not showered with gigs and cash money only reinforces my judgment that San Diego is a cultural backwater that deserves non-stop repeats of American Gladiator.

To the ladies of Blue Velvet, I can only express my undying affection and appreciation - and I hope nothing but the best for you all.

To Kevin, well... Kevin, I hope you find happiness in Michigan - and you need to know that now you're only 1 time-zone away from Connecticut. If you ever need a partner in a duet of "Oliver's Army"... you know where to find me.

"One More Widow, One Less White... mphmmger... "

The End of an Era

You might possibly not know Trudy. If so, you are much the poorer for the lack. Trudy was a blogger long before the word "blog" had even been invented. Her first dated post goes all the way back to the Cretaceous - July 23rd, 1995 to be exact - and I can honestly say that Trudy was indeed a voice in the wilderness, calling out for peace, love and complicated cocktails long before it was in fashion.

Trudy, as you may or may not know, is her own special creation - it was never quite clear whether she was female, male, gay, straight, transgendered, transvested or simply a Pontiac TransAm with a clever alter ego - but no matter. Trudy welcomed all into her conversation pit, had witty banter with the worthy and managed to put the unworthy in their respective places in a most amusing and loquacious way.

In her last post dated 28 September 2006, she voices a certain world-weariness with which I can identify - having changed my nom-de-blog from the confrontational Angry Homo to the more mainstream NeoYankee... but it hurts, oh, god, it hurts.

Trudy, I for one miss your witty conversation, your sparkling repartee, and of course your cocktail recipes. You are a true original, and you shall be missed. My conversation pit nom de plume "Aquanetta di Seraglio (Mlle.)" shall be retired forevermore.

Unless, of course, you're just on a very LONG vacation, in which case... just whatinhell has Abbatoir been up to???