29 June 2008

Tender Austin Thoughts

Tonight, for the second night in a row, I found myself at Rio Rita's at 1:45, vodka tonic in hand. No one really plans for that sort of thing, but there were several jokes made (at my expense) about how this might where to find me every night for the next three weeks.

What I realized, joking aside, is there are a few things that I truly would like to import to Portland when I leave Austin. The list isn't long, but these are the things that I wish I could take with me:

1) Rio Rita's.

2) Flightpath.

3) The HRC reading room.

4) Breakfast tacos.

5) Rebecca and Laura.

6) Gus and his family.

7) My pool.

Knowing that you are leaving someplace for good--even if you sort of hate that place--does make the sweet things all the sweeter.

28 June 2008

"Hey you look like . . . "

There is a guy who is a regular at one of the two coffee shops where I spend the most time here in Austin. This guy looks exactly like Brad Garrett (yes, the guy from Everybody Loves Raymond). I'm super serious. Exactly. Only he's not so freakishly large. If you doubt my judgment in this matter, consider the fact that I brought this up during drinks with Rebecca and Rodney tonight and Rebecca started laughing and said that she immediately knew who I was talking about.

I saw this guy today and, as I was marveling at his likeness to Brad Garrett, I started thinking about the other "celebrity" look alikes I have known in my life. Qwanty can attest to both of them, and she will probably remember more details than I will---

The first is a person that we only knew as "The Nick Cave Guy" for a long time until one night at BOG when we actually had drinks with him. I'm sure that we were introduced to him, but I promptly forgot his given name, preferring instead to continue to call him "The Nick Cave Guy." (Oh, by the way, we called him that because of his shocking resemblance to Nick Cave.) We used to see this guy at BOG a lot, and I also used to run into him at the Flesh--oops, I mean Fresh Pot--on Hawthorne. Here is where my memory gets a little hazy. I want to say that we finally met him the night that we saw the Snifter Guy (some guy we used to see at the bar who we once thought, after we had both consumed many, many Black Butte Porters, looked like he should be smoking a cigar and drinking some sort of brandy or something out of a snifter. I also do not remember his non-descriptive name, but Qwanty may, since she had a little bit more of a relationship with him than I did. Also, in retrospect I think that the whole snifter/cigar thing had less to do with the way the Snifter Guy looked, and more to do with the fact that the first time we saw him he was sitting in a giant, overstuffed red velvet chair that sort of looked like a throne. But I digress.) drink 18 Olys out of the stubby bottles. One right after another.

Anyway, I think that Qwanty asked Snifter Guy about Nick Cave Guy and that he told us that Nick Cave Guy cultivated the look. The fact that he was capitalizing on the slight likeness he had naturally sort of disappointed both of us, since we wanted to believe that the look was completely organic. Then, as I recall, Snifter Guy invited Nick Cave Guy to sit with us. He told us all kinds of stuff about himself, but I don't remember any of it--except for a vague impression I have that he told us he was leaving town to do a program in documentary making at a jr. college in New Mexico. I think that the only reason I remember this is because it seemed like a giant, giant lie.

Guy number two was the "Chad Lowe Guy". (Do you notice a pattern? We favored descriptive nicknames for people that we didn't know well, but saw often. These nicknames almost always followed the pattern "The ________ Guy". We also sometimes would decide that someone reminded us of someone else we knew, but with different intensity. So, for awhile, we could talk about Toddy--Qwanty's special friend--but we also had a "Todd Light", who was Toddy-like, but with a little less Todd, and "Todd Heavy", who was extra-saturated Todd. We actually knew this guy's name, but we preferred calling him "Todd Heavy". His real name was more ridiculous, if you can imagine that. Some people had unusual enough names to just be called by those--our bartender Kip, for example, and the Flesh Pot boys, Skip and Vinnie. Our other bartender, BLT, had a hybrid nickname. It was descriptive, but also included his real name. BLT stood for "Big Louisiana Tom". I don't think that needs explanation.) ANYWAY. The Chad Lowe Guy was someone that both Qwanty and I began seeing in high school. He sometimes showed up on the public bus, and sometimes at the mall (the two places that Qwanty and I frequented, along with the volunteer room at Sunnyside Kaiser Hospital, prior to turning 16). I don't have a lot to say about that guy, other than the fact that he was a dead ringer for Chad Lowe. Unfortunately this was the early 90s and I know that wherever this guy went he was constantly being stopped by people who said, "Do you know you look like that guy on the show with the actor who has Downs Syndrome? You know, the guy who has AIDS?" I mean, that isn't very auspicious, is it? (Although it is probably better than what he gets now, which I imagine is something like, "Do you know you look like that guy who was dumped by that horsey-looking chick who keeps winning Oscars?")

Which brings me to the point of this post--and I do totally have a point--why do all the guys I ever see looking like "celebrities" look like lame celebrities? For once, I'd like to meet some regular Joe who looks like Henry Rollins, or Jeremy Irons, or Val Kilmer, circa Real Genius. You know, some celeb who I actually think is hot? (Wow. That list took me a long time to come up with. Qwanty, who else do I like?)


(Totally Unrelated Thought) Also, Jennifer is always asking me what my favorite word is. But I can't ever think of something when I'm put on the spot like that. Then she reminds me that Ken's favorite word is "aluminum". But today I thought of one that I do really like--sarcophagus. It's a cool word. It is fun to say, and cool to look at--it looks a little bit like it should be a part of the body.

26 June 2008

For You,

James: Thank you for mentioning Robert Culp. I don't think about him often enough.

J-Bro: Missed you before I left.

Some Occasional Reader: I thought that you would appreciate the fact that I went out for a drink tonight and ran into a friend who was wearing patchouli and he wrote down his number for me on a piece of paper that totally smells of it . . . I sort of smell of it too, because he hugged me. (It does linger, does it not?)

Congratulations to Mullins. Damn it. Is there anything that girl can't do? It's depressing for the rest of us who are wondering what we are doing with our lives . . .

Also, I suggest that all of you read Qwanty's blog about smelly boys and Tom Waits. As usual, she is brilliant and insightful. She's sort of preoccupied with her lady-parts these days, but she has good reason, so give her a break.

Mouths of Babes

Wow. I totally feel like I need to stop complaining about things. Especially weird things. I'm starting to sound neurotic. (I may, in fact, be neurotic, but I don't necessarily want to sound it!)

For a change of pace, I'll tell you the funniest thing that I have heard anyone say in a long time.

It goes like this:

One of the highlights of my trip home was a day at the Kah-Nee-Ta resort, which is on the Warm Springs Reservation, just on the other side of Mt. Hood from Portland. Summer days at Kah-Nee-Ta are a family tradition--my grandmother used to take us when we were kids, and now my mom and I take the kids of the next generation. We go early-ish in the morning with a giant packed lunch, and spend the entire day at the pool--which is huge and warm (from the springs) and in a natural basin, so that when you are in the pool itself, you are surrounded by high desert mountains on all sides. It is sunny there like 300 days a year, which is impressive in Oregon.

The pool complex is made up of three connected pools--the first is only about 3 feet deep, so that you can hang out in it with pretty young kids. The second is about 4/5 feet deep. There are two large water slides that feed into this part of the pool. It's a good place for just sort of hanging out, since most adults can touch the bottom, but are mostly covered by water. This is where there is a lot of teenage action--kids playing ball, and teen couples making out. (I mention this because it is almost pornographic. At one time I counted 7 different couples glued together. It was sort of disturbing.) The last pool is deep--11 feet, I think--and houses the serious swimmers.

We took my niece, the lovely lady E, and my cousin's three kids, (known to some as the M-clones). My cousin also came with us. Because there were so many of us, we were forced to take 2 cars. My mom drove Heath and his oldest boy. Since I already had the carseat in my car, I took E. and the youngest M (because they mostly just wanted to ride together. Those kids have a total mutual admiration society). I also took Miss M (the middle and only girl child), who I think wanted to hang out with me. Which is actually pretty flattering, since she is one of the coolest kids I know.

So, she was the one who made the HILARIOUS comment. We were driving, and she was telling me about a boy that she sort of likes (enough said, I don't want to give too much of her personal life away here. I'm exploiting her for the sake of the blog, but I don't want to exploit her.) Anyway, as we discussed her elementary school love life, she mentioned that she thought this boy liked her as well. I told her that this was not surprising to me, since she is a particularly beautiful and smart girl. Here was her response:

"Well, I am the second smartest girl in the class. K______ is the smartest. But she is like a genius."

I replied that I had a hard time believing that anyone outsmarted Miss M, but she quickly assured me that she was correct,

"No, really Kristin, she's the smartest." And then there was a pause. At which time Miss M added, without irony, "Of course, she did pee her pants in class a couple of times this year. But she is still a genius."

When I was done laughing, I told Miss M that I thought that peeing your pants in class automatically took you out of running for the smartest kid in the class, no matter what reading group you were in.

I also realized that I am now so old that I can't even remember the days when anyone peed accidentally in public, and where everyone knew about it. I vaguely remember someone throwing up on their desk in 3rd grade, and that being a big deal all year, but I don't even remember who it was. Only the sympathy I felt for the poor bastard.

As Miss M turned around to try to start some kind of game with the younger kids, I found myself thinking about how simple life is in elementary school. I felt a longing for that simplicity (not surprising, given the number of adult concerns that I'm struggling with right now).

And then I gave myself a mental slap. As miserable as job hunting, dating, real estate, moving, health concerns and everything else that goes along with being an adult may be, worrying about public wetting of oneself, or of others wetting themselves in public, is definitely worse. It's symbolic of the lack of control--real or perceived--you have as a kid. And as much as I hate making decisions on my own (and trust me friends, I DO hate that), I'd much rather have options than have to ask for a bathroom pass.

25 June 2008

This is a Rant

I hate the TSA. And I don't care if someone from "Homeland Security" (don't even get me started on that freaking rhetoric) who is paid to do nothing but troll the internet for "dangerous" "anti-American" speech finds this and puts me on some sort of list or starts some kind of file. Because airport security in this country is COMPLETE bullshit.

I submit the following story, with digressions:

Today I flew back to Austin. It is my greatest desire to get through security without incident or without having to converse in any way with anyone who works for the TSA. So I go out of my way to travel clean--to wear simple and minimal clothing and shoes that slide off. To have only one carry-on with nothing that will raise any alarms. To have all my documentation at the ready. But I have some kind of security problem every time I fly. And it is always ridiculous.

Last time I flew was in March, when my Frontier flight was canceled and everyone on it was rerouted onto different airlines and I had to scramble to find someone to take my class and proctoring shift the next morning, and a trip that should have taken 6 hours ended up taking 24. But EVEN BETTER, since the TSA has a policy to flag any tickets that are purchased within 48 hours of a flight (or something like that) all of us, who had already been dicked over by our airline, were subjected to full searches of our persons and our carry-ons (and most likely our checked luggage too). But I had booked that flight 2 months in advance of the trip. The airline arranged my alternate flight. There is no way to override TSA policy in that situation? It has to happen all the time.

Anyway, I told you this was going to be full of digression. That is not the story I wanted to tell. It is just proof that The Man is always after me when I want to fly. And keep in mind, I do not want to fly to Austin anyway. So being hassled just adds injury to insult.

Here was the problem today: apparently my pants had too much metal on them. I set off the metal detector when I walked through it. Knowing that I didn't have any metal in my pockets or otherwise on my person, I told the guy that I thought it was the buttons and snaps on my pants. He told me that was impossible, and then asked me multiple times if I had anything in my pockets (NO, I told you, NO) and also multiple times if I had had a knee or hip replacement. (Jesus, I think I'd remember that.) So I had to submit to a full pat down thing. And I hate that. I'm not a real touchy girl. As many of you know, I'm not even a hugger with my closest friends, and I have been known to do some damage to the kidneys and/or the junk of guys that think that they can touch me in a crowd at a show. I sure as hell don't want to be felt up in public by some strange TSA worker--and, no, it does not help that they only have females search female passengers (I don't want to be touched by a woman TSA employee any more than I want to be touched by a man TSA employee), and, no, it doesn't make it better if you offer to do it in private. I. Don't. Want. Your. Hands. On. Me.

It was not pleasant the first time it happened at PDX this afternoon (and, by the way, it was my pants, idiot who told me that was impossible). But then--

My layover (because there is no such thing as a direct flight from Austin to Portland) was in San Jose. The San Jose airport has three separate concourses, which are in three separate buildings. I was flying in on Alaskan, but out on American, so I had to go from building "C" to building "A". Which I did. Without stopping. I did not get anything to eat. I did not stop in a restroom. I got off the plane and went directly to building A.

So then I had to go through security again. And, once again, I had a problem with security that wasn't my fault, but was due to the fact that San Jose has an outdated and impractical facility. I told the guy at the metal detector what had happened in Portland. I told him that I didn't stop anywhere between the first concourse and the second. I told him that he could look at my paperwork. That I really, really did not want to be searched again. But he informed me that he had to and that, after all, this was for my safety too and wasn't I pleased to know that airport security was so thorough? (The answer to this is no. Because I am of the belief that most of this crap is just for show. If someone wants to bring down another plane on American soil, I believe that they are going to find a way to do it. I think that security "policy" is completely reactionary, and therefore 99% ineffective at prevention. As such, I think that it's only purpose is to make stupid people feel safe. Some days I even feel sympathetic to that crank Alex Jones and might even agree that the only other possible purpose of these policies is to brainwash the American people into believing that they should give up their civil liberties in order for the government to "save" them from terrorists. But I usually only go that far on a day when two different TSA employees insist on touching my breasts in public. Oh yeah, and another thing. They tell you that they are only going to touch the inside of your thighs and your breasts with the back of their hands. Like that makes it less creepy and undesirable.)

Anyway, the second woman came to search me and I was less than cooperative. Actually, I think that I scared her. Because I was really, really pissed. She offered to take me into a private room and I told her that it was not necessary, that my problem was not that I was being searched in public but that she was touching me unnecessarily and I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. Touched. Then she had the audacity to act like that was unreasonable of me.

Hey, and guess what? I didn't have anything dangerous on me. I didn't have any plans to disrupt or endanger any other passengers or employees of the airlines. I am not a member of any far right or left wing religious or political group (in fact, I think that you will find that I sort of shy away from group affiliation of any kind). I don't know a damn thing about chemistry. I'm not a drug mule. I, in fact, have never had any illegal substance in my hands ever.

It sucks. It's a violation. And it doesn't help keep anyone safe--especially not the twins.

Today Is Your Birthday

I have just finished making the annual birthday mix for Dr. Awesome, the awesome doctor. He turned 33 today (yesterday, technically) and I had to miss his soiree at the home of the Moody Blues Bros. due to packing. That is sad. But my guess is that they had a great time, even without me.

I'm not totally happy with this mix. In spite of the fact that Dr. A and Mikey J. were just making fun of me for including a Frank Black song on every mix I've ever made (and this is not strictly true--those of you who got a copy of the 2007 mix know that I didn't include any Frank Black), there is, in fact, a song from Show Me Your Tears on this mix. There are also three covers. That wasn't on purpose either. But one of them is particularly good--the Future Bible Heroes covering "Don't You Want Me." But I'm sure that I'm losing my touch and that is sad.

Anyway, happy birthday to my favorite partner in crime. I'm glad that we got to spend some time together before I have to return to Austin (yuck) and you get swallowed up by Long Island.

And yes, I did say packing. Tomorrow (today, really) I leave the sunny, breezy 80 degree perfection of the PDX summer for Austin, where the weather is less than desirable.

Once I'm there, I'll write a little about what comes next. And I'll finally post Rose Festival pictures. I know you want to see some Rose Festival pictures!

21 June 2008

It's My Problem, Not Yours

I have what I know to be an irrational intolerance for male grooming. I don't want to see it happening, I don't want to hear about it happening. I don't even want to see the results if they are sort of obvious. I get embarrassed, for example, by a guy getting a radically new 'do, or doing something new with his facial hair. I don't ever want to comment on it--because I don't really want to have to acknowledge that a) the dude did something that required thought and effort on his part and that b) I have noticed it.*

Male vanity seems really unmanly to me. It isn't that I don't appreciate general male grooming--I just really don't want to know about it. I know that this is weird and unrealistic and sort of broadly messed up. There are all sorts of complicated reasons that I feel this way, but I won't go into it here, because it won't help my cause at all.

The reason I bring this up is to explain how I have to sort of suck it up when I go to Bishop's to get my hair cut. Given my distaste, it makes more sense for me to go to a really girly salon so that I am less likely to have to deal with men being groomed, or talking about grooming. But I like the bottle of beer and the loud punk rock and my stylist with the big Hebrew tattoo, so I make the sacrifice.

Sometimes it isn't worth it.

Like Wednesday. I signed in and then sat down with my book--Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White. This was sort of a bad choice. It is neither light enough to read without much attention, nor engrossing enough to make deep concentration in a public space easy. I found myself drifting often--staring off into space, or accidentally listening to the conversations between the stylists and their clients. To make matters worse, an older woman came in and, I think feeling that I was less rock n' roll than the other waiters and therefore more safe, sat down directly next to me when there were more than enough seats for everyone waiting to have at least a seat in between. (Lest you think that I am being too sensitive about my personal space--when I sat down my stylist asked me if I had come with the woman and when I said no, she gave me a that's-weird-huh? kind of look.) Anyway, my awareness of the woman's closeness, coupled with my awareness of the fact that there were plenty of other seats she could have chosen, made me too nervous and self-conscious to read.

All of this led me to outright eavesdropping. The male stylist in front of me drew a young, blond, sporty rock n' roller. I had already noticed this guy, because he was silly. The stylist asked the guy what he was thinking about doing with his hair and the guy answered:

"I was kind of thinking about that thing that all the European soccer players are doing now. You know, parted to the side, a little long in back, lots off the sides and a little length on top. Sort of like a fauxhawk with a mullet." The stylist nodded like this was totally reasonable request and like he knew exactly what the guy wanted and he pulled out his razor and started cutting away.

Readers, I wanted to laugh aloud and cry at the same time. I wanted to crawl under my chair. I wanted to be anywhere else. I started thinking about my "happy place" (the same place I think about when I am trying not to cry at a funeral, or when I feel an anxiety attack coming on).

Is this a "thing"? Does everyone know about this 'do except for me? Who are these guys that they are on the same wavelength about some fad among European soccer players? How do dudes get this kind of information? Is this some kind of conscious thing among said athletes? Or is it a manifestation of the collective unconscious? Do women know about this phenomenon? Do they like it? Am I supposed to like it? (Because I DON'T.) Ahhhhhh!!!

See what I mean?

*The exception to this is if the grooming is done as a goof. An obviously ironic 'stache is funny, and not embarrassing. This may seem counterintuitive, but I already conceded that this is an irrational quirk.

17 June 2008


I woke up at 7:30 on Sunday morning feeling as if someone had beat me up mercilessly, and without missing any part of my body. Everything from my fingers to ankles to cheeks to elbows--everything-- was completely sore. And things went from bad to worse. Within a few hours I was alternately shaking and sweating and had a temperature and I spent all of Sunday on the couch, feeling, and I am sure, looking, pathetic.

I'm still not feeling great, but today I was able to eat something other than coffee ice cream (it's weird what you can tolerate eating when you have no appetite), so I must be on the mend.

But really, who gets the flu in the middle of June? I mean, I haven't even been around anyone or anywhere where that would make sense.

The bright spots in the last couple of days were 1) a funny text message joke from Dr. Awesome and 2) a fabulous Glenn Danzig you tube video sent to me by Mikey J. Thank you, gentlemen.

Lest this become nothing but a post bitching about my not-so-interesting illness--

An apology to J-Bro, since I forgot to mention her in my post about Acapulco's Gold. I am especially remiss because that 21st birthday celebration was sort of memorable. And to Qwanty: I wonder--am I using the term "cognitive dissonance" at all correctly? Because I almost didn't do it, knowing that you were reading. I have a feeling it is one of those terms that gets misused by the masses--you know, like "irony".

Did you hear that Tommy Lee and Pammy have moved back in together? I'm really pulling for those crazy kids. And, let's face it, they are both so disgusting and filthy at this point that they really aren't fit for anyone else (particularly now that Pam has already had a Kid Rock phase).

FSK visited from New York at the end of last week, and it was really, really fun to see her, and to see the other PSU crew that turned out for her visit. Also, she wanted to eat at the exact places that I have been wanting to eat since I've been here: Dots and the Delta. Come to think of it, maybe I was susceptible to the last of the flu virus because of the comfort food diet last week.

Good things come in threes, you know. My parents celebrated their 38th (!) wedding anniversary on Friday. That's cute, right? Blake celebrated his last birthday as a 20-something on Saturday. We had a family BBQ at the compound. Sunday, of course, was Father's Day. I'm afraid that it was a bit of a disappointment for Bruce (as you already know, I wasn't much for a celebration). It's too bad, because as most of you know, he's one of the best dads out there.

11 June 2008

Word Made Flesh

OK, so I'm not some kind of hippie or anything--I'm as much of a skeptic as anyone you are likely to meet--but sometimes I do have to admit that there does seem to be a relationship between speaking something and having it come to pass. That is--sometimes it does feel that you can talk something into being.

Just a few mere hours ago, I spoke of the legendary and mighty Space Room, and lo! That is where I spent the last 3 hours, quite happily. For those of you who have enjoyed the pleasures of the Space Room, I invite you to lean back and recollect the wonderful times that you have had there. For those of you who have not been initiated, I say to you, come visit me here tout de suite so that you can begin making memories of your own. I will pick you up at the airport and deliver you immediately to the Space Room.

I've been frequenting the Space Room since I turned 21. The last time I was there was about a year ago. I'm always afraid that it will not be as good when I go back. But tonight I went with my cousin, and his lovely boyfriend Sean (who is also a colleague of mine) and it was everything that I remembered: the drinks were strong and cheap, the waitresses sassy, the jukebox filled with Neil Diamond, Patsy Cline, Elton John, Johnny Cash and the Beatles. My Bloody Mary glass was filled with the inexplicable sesame seeds. We were bathed in black light and surrounded by florescent paintings of Mt. Hood, downtown Portland, and Haystack Rock.

In a word, the Space Room is always, always reliable. And that reliability provides the backdrop for great conversation, memorable occasions, and all-around good times. And lest you think that I am just (once again) being biased in favor of PDX, let me tell you what Sean said about it: a) that as soon as he walked in he felt like he was on the set of a movie and b) by the time he left, the Space Room was his new favorite bar ever.

God bless Sean, and God bless the Space Room.

10 June 2008

Golden Evenings

Friday night I was out working at a coffee shop and my parents called me and asked me to meet them at Acapulco's Gold for dinner. Which was awesome.

My parents love Acapulco's Gold, which is sort of weird, because it isn't really a "parents" kind of place. But they have (according to my mother) great chicken nachos and the strongest, cheapest, and most easily drinkable margaritas I've ever had. The margaritas taste sort of like lemon-lime crystal lite, but with a kick. That sounds disgusting, but it is actually sort of marvelous.

Further, all the servers are heavily tattooed and pierced, there are always a couple of tables of gay boys, and the restaurant is all the way over in deep NW--a long drive from the Happy Valley compound.

But Bruce and the Kare Bear love it.

There are two strange consequences of this for me:

1. Many of my adult family memories actually take place at the Gold. My parents have taken all my out-of-town guests there (Laura has an especially good story about the night that we went there). We've celebrated family birthdays there. Dr. Awesome and I took our parents there together. AND, the Gold is where my brother and sister-in-law told us that they were having a baby. (Not just any baby, it turns out, but rather the lovely Lady E.)

2. Because so many of my family memories take place at the Gold, but also so many of my 20-something memories happened there too, I have some serious cognitive dissonance about the place. After all, I also have memories of going there with Anita and Katie (Katie got so drunk BEFORE dinner that she spent most of the meal outside throwing up). And of the time that I walked there with Emily after work at the pharm and we split 2 pitchers of margaritas (which could easily kill a horse) and then walked back to the pharm and, because I was still drunk, I had to take the # 15 bus down Belmont and call my dad to pick me up. And there have been lots of nights there with Qwanty (when she dated the bun-wearing guy) and Dr. Awesome and my brother and who knows who else.

I don't mind Acapulco's Gold as a crossroads for my youthful memories and my family memories, but shoot me if I ever start hanging out at the Space Room or BOG with my parents--it'll be all over then.

02 June 2008

This One Goes Out to the One--

QWANTY! I do believe that today is your special day. You are officially "older than Jesus". Congratulations.

Qwanty and I haven't spent either of our birthdays together in a long, long time, but we already had made a lifetime's worth of birthday memories in our youth.

Like the time that we rode around in a limo listening to the audio tape of the Singing Nun she bought me for my 16th birthday.

Or the time we went to Who Song and Larry's with her parents and her lame boyfriend Ryan and I walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper on my shoe (god bless Rick, he was the thing that MOST redeemed that night).

Or the time that Qwanty and her ex-hubbie took me out to her brother-in-law's restaurant and she got so drunk on gin from Eric's flask that she slid under the table before we even ate.

Ahhhh. Good times.

Rules to Sing By

Late-ish last night I got back from spending the weekend at the chalet (or as Dr. Awesome calls it, the "shallot") with Jane. Spending time with Jane always convinces me that I want to sing karaoke. This is because Jane has a deep political and philosophical fondness for karaoke since it is, according to her, the most democratic of all leisure activities. (Everyone gets a moment on the stage, other singers understand that it is important to be a good audience, it is less about talent and more about heart, so on and so on.)

The problem is that I'm not built right for karaoke. Sadly, I do care about sounding decent. I am not a "performer," so I don't have the option of pleasing a crowd by being purely entertaining. (Whatever that means. For instance, I can't jump on a table and belt out "Sweet Caroline" like Andy Z.) As a result, I'm really uptight about picking the right song, and then I get honestly nervous until I get called. So, I'm not really much fun.

This is completely exacerbated by the fact that (and try to hold in your surprise about this one, readers) I am sort of a control freak, so I can't get drunk as a way to enjoy the karaoke experience and calm the nerves. In fact, I tend to only engage in karaoke when completely sober.

Let's be honest, people, I'm just not that much fun.

But I do (and I say this very, very self-consciously) love to sing. So I can't NOT sing karaoke, if it is offered to me.

As a result, I have developed a set of strict rules for choosing karaoke songs for myself. Here, for the first time in print (well, not print, but you know what I mean) are:

Kristin's Rules for Karaoke Song Selection:

1. The song must be under 4 minutes. No one wants me up there for the whole of "Carry on Wayward Son" or the long version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" or anything by Meat Loaf. It's too long. I don't need that much stage time.

2. The song must not have an intro, outro or bridge that lasts more than about 4 measures. I get nervous. So I don't want time to wonder what to do with myself (and particularly my hands) while I am up there. I want it to be all singing, all the time, if possible. You do too. No one wants to watch me wring my hands onstage during a guitar solo.

3. The song must be in my range. No struggling to make high or low notes. That's a bad scene.

4. The song must not have any potentially embarrassing lyrics. Hey, I know that my brother once won a karaoke contest by doing a ripping version of the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself", but I couldn't get through it in front of strangers. Or people I know. I just couldn't get through it. I am a lady, after all.

5. No power ballads. This one breaks my heart, because no one wants to bust out some "Angel" or "What About Love" or (the king of all power ballads) "Still Lovin' You" as I do. But power ballads usually break 3 or 4 out of the other criteria, and so I have had to ban them as a class. These are songs that, sadly, are relegated to my car.

6. The song must have lyrics that are already completely known to me. I'm going to watch the words the whole time that I'm singing, but it isn't because I don't already know them. It is because I don't want to make eye contact with anyone watching me. I don't want to screw up, and the best way not to screw up is to already know the words.

These are some songs that meet all the criteria above, and that I have thus approved for possible karaoke choices: "Manic Monday", "Johnny Angel", "Teenager in Love" (which becomes somewhat more inappropriate the older I get), "Love is all Around", and, occasionally, "Ramblin' Man". I have also recently come around to thinking that I should add the Violent Femmes song "American Music"--there are lots of fun uh-uh-ohs in that one . . .