Mark's Long-Awaited Year-End Meme

Thanks for your hard work MarkTapioKines!

1. What are the best things that happened to you this past year?
Fell in love, quit my old job, got a few cool paid writing gigs, became more adventurous.

2. What are the worst?
The movie fell through. Some important friendships were strained. Took a pay cut. Dealt with some seemingly incurable health issues.

3. In what way(s) has your life improved since January 1, 2006?
See question #1.

4. In what way(s) has your life gotten worse since January 1, 2006?
See question #2.

5. Name something you did for the first time this year.
Went scuba diving.

6. How many flights – as in individual take-offs and landings – did you take in 2006?
I think it was 10.

7. What's the lamest new movie you saw?
For Your Consideration

8. What famous people did you meet this year? (Define “famous” as you wish.)
Crispin Glover, Eugene Mirman, Patton Oswalt, Aziz Ansari, Greg Duli (sort of).

9. What item or event (including a vacation or taxes) did you spend the single most amount of money on this year?
Sundance.

10. What's the biggest thing a FRIEND of yours accomplished this year? (Please exclude me from your answer – I am not fishing for compliments.)
Well, I was going to use Mark's winning of the Getty Images competition but since he asked us to exclude him from our answers, I will go with pursuing his goal of moving to SF, immediately landing a job, a great, centrally located apartment and a cool roommate. I am now firmly convinced that he can do anything he sets his mind too. Hopefully that means he will be churning out albums soon.

11. How many LiveJournal friends did you meet face-to-face this year? (Or “MySpace friends” if you think that's a more interesting demographic.)
If by “meet”, you mean “hang out with”, not counting “groups”, the total for LJ friends is 21 out of 25.

12. In general, do you think 2006 was a good year or a bad year for pop culture (movies, TV, books, music, fashion)?
Very bad. Britney Spears' vagina was news. The only new album that impressed me was Morrissey's. Leggings are back in style. (Don't even get me started on Goucho pants). And I only saw two films that truly affected me. One was released in 2005 and the plot of the other centers around animal fellatio.

13. Finally, what are your plans and/or expectations for 2007?
Building on my “script coverage” side-job, scoring some more freelance writing gigs, utilizing all of my newly acquired vacation days, and developing my poker skills. Hopefully there will be some pleasant surprises in there too.

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WEEKEND RECAP

FRIDAY

I hadn't been feeling well all day due to lack of sleep and the onset of a cold. I thought perhaps I could power through the evening though. Andrew was in town and this was the only night he was available to hang out. I left work early and met Andrew, Brugos, Alex, Elyse and another Amazonian at the Nite Lite. It was lovely there. It's usually warmly lit and inviting, but they had gone all out with the Christmas decorations. Ordinarily, I find Christmas decorations gaudy, but these were tasteful, fun and made me happy. I had a couple of greyhounds and put some songs on the juke. Andrew suspected that I would give him something for Christmas (I made banana bread) so he picked me up a bizarre karate baby statuette from China Town. Love it.

When we left the Nite Lite, it was dinner time, so we went to Ohana to take advantage of the happy hour specials. I ordered a Blue Hawaiian, which was probably the beginning of the end for me. Those things are not weak. Andrew and Alex ordered the Pu-Pu Platter, which is worth mentioning because it's a PU-PU PLATTER.

Next, we met Faye and the Whiskey. Things were starting to go downhill for me at the point. I was operating on too little sleep and too much alcohol. I probably should have gone home then, but I stuck with it. And, of course, had more drinks. It was too late to stop at that point.

It was on to Shorty's…which, apparently doubled in size when we weren't looking! There was a whole other room hidden behind the pinball machines. Now it's an additional bar and more seating. And proper bathrooms with multiple stalls. Fantastic! I locked myself in one of the stalls and contemplated what I should do. Eventually, I concluded that I should leave. IMMEDIATELY. I said some hurried goodbyes and, aware that a bus trip would have been hell on earth for everyone involved, poured myself into a cab and headed to Ravenna, where my Tobe and I were spending the weekend.

I put on my jammies, drank several glasses of water, and plopped onto the couch. 10 minutes into Lost Highway, I was out. I woke up at 2:30 to a DVD menu. I should mention it was only about 10 when I got home. That's what happens when your night (that you shouldn't even be having) starts at 3pm. I drug myself upstairs and slept for another hour. When I woke up again, it occurred to me that Brugos still wasn't home, so I texted him to make sure he wasn't dead, and then went back to sleep.

SATURDAY

Oh how lovely it is to sleep in and have little to no responsibilities. I made egg nog french toast for breakfast (which didn't taste that much different than regular french toast). We sat around, watched some Carnivale Season 2, and decided what to do with our day. Brugos gave me some early Christmas presents, in case we got bored: Total Recall, T2, and the Warriors. AWESOME.

We needed to go to the grocery store and Brugos also decided he should buy the Catan game expansion for Wade. As much as it pained us, it seemed like we needed to go to…the mall. The day before Christmas Eve.

We drove the back way to the mall to avoid I-5. The parking lot was appropriately hectic. We parked in the first spot we found and walked into the food court to find me a snack. An Orange Julius (the American Mall's only saving grace) hit the spot. We then hit Toys R Us.

Their board game section was tiny. There was no Catan expansion set. There was no Catan period. Just a lot of stupid looking board games. Even then, the selection was limited. We wondered what Toys R Us sells these days if not games. I guess the kids won't play a game anymore unless it's electronic.

I called Elyse to find out where she bought Catan for Wade. She directed us to a small game store near Ballard. Since we were there already, we decided to stop at Archie McPhee's to browse for some other small gifts for people. I saw one of our trivia hosts there. Was he buying gifts for friends and family or stocking up on crap to give away at trivia?

Our last stop was the grocery store which was surprisingly calm. The Asian checker lady at the QFC by Brugos' house recognizes me and likes to tease me.

When we got back to the house, we heated up a pizza and watched some more Carnivale. A bit later, Roxy came over (Rocko was sick) and we played a rousing game of Catan followed by Scrabble. Roxy took off and we watched a little more Carnivale before going to bed.

SUNDAY

We had another leisurely morning of breakfast and watching Total Recall with the Verhoeven/Schwarzenegger audio commentary. Hilarious. Arnold constantly talks about how much fun he had making out with Sharon Stone and makes very cheesy jokes. Verhoeven always helpfully explains what's “reality” and what's the “Rekall fantasy” and how the film is constantly working on TWO LEVELS. He also likes to mention Robocop and Starship Troopers a lot. He says “Rrrrrrobocup”.

After the movie, we started cooking. I began to prepare my first of THREE puddings that I would be bringing to Elyse's Christmas Eve Pot Luck. This was not entirely intentional. I knew I wanted to make bread pudding and I also wanted to make a sweet potato dish. I happened to have a good recipe for Sweet Potato Pudding. The third dish was a box of Figgy Pudding that my mom sent me. If I didn't bring that to the pot luck, I would never eat it. So…three puddings.

Brugos watched the Seahawks game and made his cinnamon rolls which take a long time but are definitely worth it. I made several sauces including a glaze for the cinnamon rolls. I found it funny that everything I made had booze in in. No, mama wasn't sneaking sips. But it seemed like I should have been.

Tobe and Lucy were getting along fine. This means that Lucy wasn't hissing at Tobe and, in fact, they were in the same room on several occasions. Tobe, of course, is unaffected by everything. He quickly became comfortable at the house. He loves padding around and checking out the nooks and crannies. Occasionally, he'll tease Lucy by following her. I love that they both seem so comfortable. Brugos' roommate was gone for the weekend, having taken the dog with him. I think that Lucy is just glad that Tobe isn't a dog.

We finished cooking in time to shower and drive to Elyse's. We arrived to find Wade sawing away at the cooked Christmas Goose. I immediately began to simmer my spices for my experimental Mulled Sangria. I'd made Mulled Wine for Brugos' Christmas Poker Party the week before and it was tasty but virtually non-alcoholic. I guess that even without boiling, the wine had lost it's potency. So I decided to add less water, and use rum instead of brandy. It worked out quite nicely. I thought it was a tastier drink, easier to sip slowly and definitely had more of a kick.

There were many delicious dishes at the pot luck. Unfortunately, several people couldn't make it, so there was too much food. However, having too much food is certainly a holiday tradition. Borg brought some awesome mexi-egg rolls. Another guy brought some competing cinnamon rolls. Elyse's friend, Andrea, (whom she had talked about for ages but we'd never met) brought Mexican Chocolate Pudding. (Yes. MORE pudding!)

Wade made fresh goose liver patte. Obviously, I didn't try it, but it received rave reviews. I was fascinated by the goose which produced a large jar of bloody fat. Wade put the jar in the fridge. He plans to cook with it. I took a picture.

We gorged ourselves on delicious food and then sat down to watch the first of two bizarre Christmas Specials: Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. I had never seen this but it was apparently a childhood tradition for both Elyse's and Andrea's families. It came out a year before I was born. Elyse and I are the same age. I loved the Muppets as a kid. Still do. I'm not sure how I missed it.

Anyway, it's a pretty rad little film. The Riverbottom Nightmare band song rocks. They sound like Spinal Tap. My favorite character was Dr. Bullfrog. He is a dapper frog who owns a restaurant. The ending was something you wouldn't see in a kids film these days: Neither Emmet or his mother win the talent competition. They are still poor. But they realise that it was the thought that counts and that love is the most important thing at Christmas time. Also, Dr. Bullfrog lets them sing at his restaurant.

After the movie, we watched the blooper reel which was hilarious. Making Muppet movies must have been the most amazing job ever.

Next, we got appropriately fuzzy headed and put in the Star Wars Holiday Special. Elyse had seen it before at my house with the sound off. I was the only one who had seen the whole thing with audio. It's probably the most fucked up hour and a half of network television in history. The best part of the copy I have is that it still has most of the commercials. Commercials in 1978 (the year of my birth) were SO MUCH DIFFERENT than they are now. They are full of blue-color Americans eating McDonalds and talking about their jobs at the auto factory. Women buy panty hose and sing about looking for the Union Label. Whirlpool has a serious ad featuring a soaring bald eagle that talks about how important it is to them that they provide quality products to America. Every jingle is original, not a co-opted pop song. The only celebrity in the ads was Reggie Jackson selling his candy bar. Commercials may seem irritating to us now, but they really are a snapshot of America during the time they occurred air. With TiVo gaining so much popularity, we won't have this for much longer.

It's hard for me to talk about the special itself. It's just…something else. The best part is Bea Arthur. She owns the Mos Eisley Cantina and sings a song to get her patrons to leave. Did you know the song in the Mos Eisley Cantina had lyrics? So does the main Star Wars theme. An obviously coked-out Cary Fisher sings that one. Harrison Ford looks like he wants to die. mark Hammil looks like he's been hanging out too much with Cary Fisher. Most of the special is Chewbacca's family hanging out, speaking Wookie and hitting things. There are no subtitles. They are just speaking Wookie. It's astounding.

After the Special, we talked about the commercials. Borg and Andrea took off and the remaining 5 broke out the Catan expansion set. We played a very good game in which Wade took us all by surprise. Around this time, I was feeling pretty crappy. I had been sneezing all day but it was escalating since I'd been out of the house. Brugos and I left around midnight.

MONDAY

Christmas! I woke feeling pretty fuzzy headed and stuffy. We made breakfast and set about opening gifts. Brugos' parents gave me a necklace with a black pearl pendant. It's very pretty. I wish I was more inclined to wear jewelry. I will wear it on New Years Eve.

Brugos gave me a gift certificate to a shoe store in which I'd remarked about the shoes in the window. This was a very thoughtful gift. I need some new casual boots that aren't wintery. The boots I'd seen in the window of the store were really cool but they were high heeled. Hopefully they will have something similar that won't send me falling to my death.

I gave Brugos his favorite movie of all time, a book and some other stuff.

We sat around in our jammies and watched more Carnivale. Not sure why we're continuing with the Carnivale. The creator had planned a 6 season story arc. He learned too late that the show was canceled and wasn't able to tie up anything. We are asking for a lot of dangling story lines. It will be like watching TV's Lost but with better actors.

It was a beautiful day so we decided to go for a walk. I was feeling pretty ill still so we couldn't go too far, but the fresh air did feel nice in my lungs.

We got back to the house and watched some more Carnivale before heading out to pick up Gene and go to the Rickshaw. It was very crowded. The bar was full of serious-looking blue collar types and, for some reason, rockabilly folks. The karaoke host apparently brought a large group of friends out. We got our songs in early but still had to wait till after midnight to sing our second numbers. This may have been the biggest crowd I've ever sang too. Brugos and I decided to do songs we knew well on account of the caliber of talent in the room. Everyone looked like they would be too cool for karaoke and then would get up and rock it. All but one guy who was either being the most ironic man on Earth or else didn't know that striped cable knit sweaters, white jeans and bushy mustaches were SO NOT SEXY. (Well, bushy mustaches can be sexy, but not on that guy, and certainly not in conjunction with the outfit). He pissed off the host by messing with her sound board. She cut him off and banned him from singing.

Gene was awesome with T-Rex and Blue Oyster Cult. Brugos did “China Girl” (which is probably his best song) and Cult of Personality. I did Build Me Up Buttercup and I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone. A bald, tattooed man spoting an ungodly amount of eyeliner sang Jeff Buckley. He sounded beautiful. It was an evening full of surprises like that.

I wasn't feeling great so we left immediately after Gene sang his last song. Gene stayed on with his lady friend.

T'was a good Christmas. Mostly because it didn't feel like Christmas. If all holidays were like that, I could really get into them.

NEXT WEEKEND: New Years Eve. What I'm doing is a mystery.

A Word of Warning

My miracle cure whenever I've felt a cold coming on has long been to shoot some Nyquil and retire to bed early. Apparently, this backfires if you have any sort of anxiety on your mind. Last night was such a night for me. In retrospect, it may still have worked if I'd taken more than the recommended dosage. But, as I only took the suggested amount, the anxiety (and the equally restless cat in the bedroom) fought off the Nyquil coma. When I finally did fall asleep, I had an astoundingly realistic nightmare. So realistic, in fact, that when I woke up (crying), it took me several minutes to realize that it had been only a dream. This was a far cry from the pleasantly bizarre fever dreams Nyquil usually induces. It was difficult to get back to sleep after that.

The good news is that, lack of sleep aside, I did seem to stave off the impending cold. The bad news is that I otherwise feel and look like hell. I contemplated staying home from work, but, as I've only been working here 3 months and have already called in sick twice (albeit for legitimate reasons), I decided against it. Sitting here at my desk, a ghostly version of myself (in appearance and demeanor), I am beginning to regret that decision. I only hope I can pull it together to see Andrew for his One-Night Only appearance.

B'utcracker

Last night, Brugos and I caught the last performance of the Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door. I wasn't sure what to expect. I have never liked the Nutcracker. The music is beautiful, but I find ballet incredibly boring. However, I have never seen a live burlesque show and have been wanting to for a while. The description made it sound fun. Swing versions of the Nutcracker Suites! Sexy ladies! Elaborate costumes! Plus, the Triple Door is a very classy venue. I've been there once before (to see some god awful jazz show with a work event) and even though the music was painful, the food and atmosphere were very satisfying.

We were seated right down front to the left of the stage. The host told us it was our waitresses birthday. She was very sweet and seemed in good spirits despite having to work on her birthday. We ordered drinks (I got a nice and salty dirty vodka martini) and I ordered the stuffed mushroom appetizer. The show began and I was immediately drawn in. Everything was adorable from the host's swing vernacular to the curvy tattooed dancers in their sexy costumes. The things these girls could do with tasseled underpants! There was also one man in the chorus line. Later, he joined another guy to do a cool rough-and-tumble dance number in pinstripe suits. And the other guy performed a swing number with two ladies. I am always amazed at how easily trained swing dancers can throw a girl around. I had a big silly grin on my face for the whole show. I felt pretty classy sipping my martini and watching cuties strip tease to Big Band Tsaichovsky with my fella by my side.

Just look at all these burlesque cuties!

Here's a flier that was too big to paste into my blog. Aren't they adorable?!

I admit, I was a LITTLE skeptical at first. $20 is a lot for a show for me and the Nutracker usually sucks. But it was worth every penny. It's too bad it was the last night, or else I would urge each of you to run out and see it. I think it was a success, though, so they may do it again next year.

I really want to learn how to swing pasties and waggle my butt in tasseled underpants. Luckily, I can take lessons! I think as soon as the classes are back in session, I am going to try it out.

heh

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Thanks a bunch, National News

Dear National News,

Why did you tell my mom Seattle was being evacuated?! She called me in a panic. I was out getting teriyaki. She'd just tried my office line and there was NO ANSWER. She called my cell phone and I, as usual, didn't hear it the first time because the city is loud. So she left me a voicemail telling her to call her back IMMEDIATELY if I was ALIVE and OK.

So I did, and she told me that YOU told her Seattle was being evacuated, that streets were flooded, power was out and public transportation was out of commission. Granted, all of these were true, but only on a relatively small scale. This is no hurricane Katrina and the only people who had to evacuate anything were people who's homes had trees fall on them. They didn't need to leave the city and hopefully, they have friends and family who could take them in.

Maybe you DIDN'T say that the entire city was being evacuated. You might have just said the WORD “evacuate” and that was enough to take several years off my mother's life. But I know you, National News. You are as prone to sensationalizing things as my mother is. So between the two of you, wires got crossed and I had to get out of line at the teriyaki place to calm my mother down and assure her that I was unharmed and, apart from having not showered this morning and being late to work because of the power outage, otherwise unaffected by the storm. It didn't help that all of her equally unstable friends who know of me called one after the other to ask if she'd SPOKEN TO HER DAUGHTER YET!!!! What a mess.

Anyway, all I ask is that you PLEASE try to be EXTRA careful when using words like “evacuate” and “disaster” to be sure they are appropriate to the magnitude of the situation. Fragile old women like my mother just can't handle it.

Thanks a bunch!

Love,

Baxter

Another weather post

So it's official. This is more than just a particularly horrible Seattle winter. Two weeks ago, it was SNOW. Now it's FLOODS and WIND STORMS. Holy. Crap.

This is in Wallingford!

Many people woke up to find TREES on their cars.

People are kayaking in the streets!

Who wants to place bets on what's next? Tsunami, volcano or P.T. Anderson frog plague?