Gleaming the Cube

Man in the Box
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Milestones come and go. Many are more important than others, but few are as epic as turning 30, the new 16, like two of my good friends did this weekend. LaBronn & Red (real names, not aliases - aliasi, aliasuses?) have been celebrating births together for the past 10 years. Ain't no way I was gonna miss this one after having missed so many before, including the talent show.

Both kids live in E-town (Evanston for y'all who don't speak-uh da Engrish) and are relatively respectable, intelligent, coherent, zesty ladies from roughly 9 to 5 during the week. Zesty takes over after hours and results in relatively harmless hijinx consisting of fodder for stories during my upcoming time in a retirement home.

K.L. (not the city, but Red's spouse) and Beth (LaBronn's sister) collaborated to throw quite a shindig in Chicago last night. Both ladies are 80's junkies and frequently make-up excuses to dress up, like going to church or "hey, it's Wednesday!" So, the party theme was 80's and costumes were required.

I first developed the idea of dressing up like a Rubik's Cube after this kid in New York developed it for me. Thanks, Fred. The instructions were clear, and K.L. had a drill.

The real trick was finding the foam core. I called every art supply joint in the Midwest and was fortunate to find the right gear in downtown Chicago, which is only 12 miles from The E. Those of you who live in Houston probably think, "Huh. That's a trip to the bathroom." Those of you who live in Chicago probably think, "Holy shit. That'll take three hours. Are you prepared to get a hotel room?"

K.L., Fugett & I hopped in the Jetta to hit the art store and pick up costumes for other folks. The art store was a stop & grab trip. I bought the last stock of what I needed, which was just the right amount. And, thank God they had a matte board cutter to slice the foam core into strips or else I would have been taking my loot home via the Purple Line and the Loop.

Rag Stock is a killer used clothing / hipster fashion mecca that features reprint Run DMC t-shirts that sell for $30. Fugett got one; I'm jealous. They've got lots of cool stuff and could outfit a small army of groupies for The Strokes or Death Cab or some other tragically hip emo creation.

IMG_2322Hey ladies, I'm calling out to ya to tell you that you should never send three guys to any store to buy you any type of apparel besides the kind that fits in a super small box and is made to be taken off about five minutes after we see it, which is when we're not listening to you explain what might happen and what ain't gonna happen, particularly if you are planning to dress up like a Spice Girl who we've only thought about in naked situations. We finally bought one of the first outfits we spotted after 30 minutes, some picture messages, four phone calls and a pump-fake at the cash register.

The cube came together surprisingly fast thanks to Fred, K.L. and Jewel. Construction took about three hours. ROI was high once the dickhead doorman finally realized that 147 people showing up to a private party at their bar was a good thing and that the birthday girls may kick his chunky ass if he didn't let me in. Who give's a shit if the other CCR (Cross Canadian Ragweed) was playing there that night? Coulda been the Pope (old pope, not new pope) - wouldn't changed a thing.

Getting a cab back to Evanston was only slightly, think frog hair, easier than finding a cab from the Quarter to Mid City. Maybe it was my Saints t-shirt? The Cube was actually hot and pretty good at blocking the wind so I elected to go sans jacket. Like milk, it was a bad choice. K.L., Fugett & I ended the night by tackling a cab in the middle of heavy snow in the windiest, coldestest intersection in the city. Each of us had been carrying a piece of the box, which we sacrificed to the street corner in only .28 seconds after realizing it wouldn't fit in the trunk.

I'd just like to say "Thanks again" to Red & K.L. for hosting me all weekend. I'd also like to say "You're welcome" to the homeless guy who's now living in a custom made condo tiled with construction paper. If it can handle being freaked by four chicks at the same time, it can handle a winter in Chicago. Just be sure you patch-up that hole in the roof.


I slept on a porch for three and a half hours

Last weekend shaped up like any normal run of the mill weekend. Fly to New Orleans to pick up the car left there during the holidays and related moving experience. Go to the Saints game. Drive home the next day.

The problem was this is January. The Saints don't play in January most of the time. They damn sure don't win. Thus, I didn't know what to expect from the weekend.

The day started well enough. I made my flight on time even after having stopped at Whataburger for some emergency taquitos. Danny graciously picked me up and ferried me back to his house to check on my wheels and relax a bit before lunch at Liuzza's.

We arrived on Bourbon Street via the street car and stepped into unknown territory. Folks were already milling about the Quarter in a drunken fashion. I counted 27 Reggie jerseys during the walk from Canal to Iberville. That's a lot of Bush in one spot. Naturally, the Eagles fans chose The Frat House as their base. There's no accounting for taste, but I'm glad they were around to spread some green in the city.

We lounged in Jackson Square for a bit before camping out at Old Absinthe House until heading to the Dome. Just as we were beginning to enjoy the scene and our beer, a State Trooper on a motorcycle hauls ass up and starts directing folks out of the way so some SUVs can park. Governor Blanco, with entourage, stepped out and headed into the Royal Sonesta for a drink or dinner or maybe to potty. She was out and gone within a short period of time. No boos from the citizenry either, which I found surprising.

Expecting ParentsAnyway, the game passed quickly amongst a flurry of camera flashes, beers and honking air horns. The lady in front of us was getting pissed. C'MON!!! YOU'RE ONLY AT THE BIGGEST GAME IN THE DOME EVER. Relax! Move with the music if it helps you; it helps me.

I was also adopted by the Row 11 knuckleheads that sit between our two groups of tickets. I'd seen them during my other two regular season appearances and known that they would be fun to have around. Trey, the one the fleur de lis cut in his head, managed to make make the Fox football b-roll for the Saints during their trip to Tampa. Look for him on Sunday; he's the deranged looking guy in the Will Smith jersey (not the one with Jazzy Jeff).

Ricky Jackson Second LineThe French Quarter was Mardi Gras crowded after the game. The NOPD Cavalry was on hand to trample anyone who got really nuts. I got sort of nuts, but was protected by Ricky Jackson at Fritzel's. I don't think he was quite himself that night. But he was bringing Cha-Ching back.

The night was going along splendidly until I felt the pass out alarm going off. "No worries, I'll just step out here and get a cab to Danny's." WRONG. The Quarter was packed. Cabs would be few and far between around there so I forged my way over to Canal to track one down.

Long story almost short: it took me nearly an hour to find four cabs. The first three said they wouldn't take me to Mid City. I told the fourth one to take me to Chez Kercher in Uptown. I was baffled; the fare difference between Danny and Dave's is roughly $3. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? They are lucky that I was drunk and in no shape to argue. Next time I'm brining mace. If they say no, they won't be driving a cab for the rest of the night.

Sophie in the SackSophie, Wonder Dog, was barking her fool head off as a I climbed the porch steps. Not a creature was stirring, 'cept for Soph, which is surprising since rumor has it that she sleeps sandwiched between DK and MJ's pillows. Oh well. I couldn't go anywhere else and I was being a polite moron and refusing to knock on the door.

This is not a bedThings quickly boiled down to hammock or rocking chair. The hammock seemed like a bad idea since it was in the backyard and totally exposed to the elements, aka dew and cold weather. I opted for the rocker since it looked slightly inviting and was on the porch slightly shielded from the dew.

Attempting to sleep in that rocking chair while freezing to death on the porch is one of the stupidest things I have done yet. I decided to improve things by lying directly on the concrete porch. Yep, that was a bad idea, too. I should have just beat the door down until they rescued me. In fact, I did that at 7 AM. Why didn't I fast forward and do that in the first place? Who knows?


All the cool kids at the back of the bus

Dear Al Gore,

Today marked the first time that I used the Houston METRO mass transit system. I rode the bus from my house to my downtown office. It kicked ass despite taking three times as long as driving my car.

The trip was cheap and easy. For a dollar, I was transported from my departure stop, two blocks from my front door, to my arrival stop, three blocks from the office. The walks were short and slightly invigorating and will probably be tolerable even in bad weather.

People watching was pretty cool as well. The bus wasn't filled with vagrants and scalawags like that bus to the south side of Chicago. It seems that folks have bus friends like back in elementary school. Speaking of which, school kids were on the bus which surprised me. I guess the cheesewagons don't go to their neighborhoods. Two old lady HISD crossing guards rode next to each other after boarding in The Heights; that was cute.

The route from my hood to downtown was interesting. We were on the main streets you'd expect for most of the trip with a few interesting side streets mixed in. For example, we took the Sawyer overpass on to Memorial once we'd reached the Sixth Ward. It was nice to see that area during the day instead of speeding through it at night. I also learned that I can bus over to The Loft or El Boliviano's as well.

Mr. Gore, I can't promise that I will be bussing into downtown everyday from here on out. Driving my car is still a passion because I like the challenge of cell phoning, surfing the InterWeb (thanks for inventing that by the way) and slurping my coffee all while weaving in and out of buses at 85 mph. But, I am glad to know that the mass transit option is available and so easy to use, which will be great for hangover days.


JB el JB

What I did on my Christmas vacation

Let's be clear from the get-go. I don't like holidays. In fact, I can't stand them. It's a personal issue, but I am not a big fan of how pissy folks get about Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas. I don't like Christmas shopping and the escalation in gift buying that closely mirrors the Cold War arms race. I don't like driving back from Texas to Louisiana and despise airports during peak periods of tourist travel of any sort. Take your car keys, $20 of pennies and cell phones out of your pockets before you get to the metal detector, JACKASS!

But, I like seeing my family and friends. The key is spending the "right" amount of time with folks. Determining the right amount of time depends your mobility, the amount of constant contact and the number of like-minded folks with whom you can commiserate.

This year's Christmas vacation was short on QT with friends and high on the family factor. I did attend the 5th Annual Oyster Crawl in the French Quarter with the gang. But, I missed out on Panthers vs. Saints and New Year's Eve in general. Most of the trip was spent with Mom this year helping her migrate back to North Carolina and we are both still alive to tell the tale.

The short story is that Murphy's Law was in the house, literally, for most of the moving adventure. Stuff seemed to multiple as we packed up her loot. Apparently boxes multiply if you get them wet, which is tough when you get doused with over six inches of rain in a week. When we tried to head out the truck also got stuck in the front yard that was once packed harder than a diamond thanks to the rain. It was worth it to help Mom get to a happy place.

"They" say that the lessons are in the journey. Brothers and sisters, this was one hell of a journey chock-filled with lessons of all sorts like it's probably not a great idea to try to eat a chicken salad sandwich, adjust the volume on the iPod and change lanes in your 26' moving truck all at the same time. "They" also say that one may not understand the full extent lessons learned until much later in life kinda like when your parents give you shit for not doing your homework or drinking too much Coke. Thus, I am unable to articulate everything that I learned during the trip. I can tell you that I am officially off the helping you move market until 2020 unless you're moving some place cool like Fiji or Como.

Now hear this!

Brothers in Shirts, Part Deux
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Y'aloha, gentle readers - all three of you. My blathering got derailed by home buying, settling in, Houstonisting and beer drinking or some combination thereof. I was pleasantly surprised to get the "My wife is pissed that you're not writing anymore" feedback. You like me! You really like me!

I nearly went crazy about fifteen times during the close of 2006, but I've managed to hang on to the end of my rope by a fraction of a fingernail. Spamming the WebberNet with my ramblings is actually therapeutic and I'm glad to be back. 2006 was a decent year featuring a concentration of Italian travel, two surgeries and general weirdness.

Traveling to Italy twice in one year was stellar, but someone really needs to talk to them about fixing toll booths so that they don't break after every car. No one should ever be able to get out of the car, stand on the toll booth and take pictures of the traffic jam.

Fixing the cankle was big news last year. It's mending nicely but still not game ready, but that's another story entirely. I'm glad to not fall over upon standing. However, I still brace it when I'm out carousing or anticipating a violent doormat.

Weirdness was plentiful between the Saints and home buying. Who dat thought I would buy a house? And, who dat thought the Saints would kickass? Who dat wants to paint my house?

Buckle up, knuckleheads! Double oh seven will be interesting.