Impromptu survey finds tourists in NOLA still stupid

It's a long story, the details of which you'll be able to read shortly, but I'm stranded at Louis Armstrong Gate B5 right now. I've been overhearing little gems of stupidity all day, like New Yawkuhs howling and commenting on the Springer show they paid to watch in their TV chair or the woman crying to the gate agent after she missed her plane because she was in the bathroom. But, here's my personal favorite.
Touron 1: That place went to lunch for lunch today was great. What was it called?
Touron 2: Landry's. Yeah, it was great. The one in Dallas sucks.
As Dave would say, "YOU GET F!" You just visited the food capital of the South and went to a chain restaurant. YGBFKM!

They're from Dallas. I guess that splains things.


"Normal Life" was nearly in reach yesterday

I interviewed with a potential Houston-based client for nearly four hours yesterday. All I have to show for the effort is a validated parking ticket and two not-so-great cups of coffee. Oh, well, if it ain't a fit, I ain't gonna force it. I thought that I had enough communications juice for them. Apparently, my grammar and rhetoric ain't up to snuff. That a load crap.

The most disappointing piece of the whole situation is that I am now back in limbo land instead of being on gig seven miles from my house for the next 18 months. Rat Farts! I even have a dog lined up. She's super chill around folks and affectionate and she's laughs at my jokes. Have I told you the one about the Shi Tzu / Standard Poodle mix that got a vasectomy at the dentist's office?

I haven't given up hope of bringing home Barkley or Kojak or Judy or UpDog or whatever her name is. But, it would be tough to justify given my uncertain travel situation and unpainted living room. Iff'n your interested in adopting her or know the owner, please drop me a line.


Some people have voices fit for silent movies

Vanessa is in town for a bit of work (that's work work, not plastic surgery work) so we got together for dinner at Sushi King last night. A constant flow of arctic air from the AC vent aimed directly at us resulted in a shift from the sanushi bar to a cocktail table near the door and the set of boofs near the window. Dinner went well despite our cramped quarters. However, I nearly hurled in my nabeyaki as two patrons exited one of the boofs.

I think these folks were New Yorkers based on the accents and volume at which they were yelling at each other. Yes, I have a frame of reference about New Yorkers from having lived and worked in that area for nearly 18 months. Yes, yelling is the only way to phrase the volume at which their cordial messages were being delivered to each other. No, the lack of respect for other diners was not the worst of it.

The lady's voice could shatter glass. Think Fran Drescher, but not nearly as entertaining. A more shrill sound I have never heard. This lady sounded like the Shrieking Eels on steroids after someone kicked them in the nuts. To top it off, the couple stood on the other side of the fancy glass partition barely separating them from us and rambled for at least three or four more minutes. A headache this caused. Pissed off I was.

The couple was still outside when we left. The man must have gotten his own headache. He was in his Benzo (TX vanity plate "BEDS") attempting to leave. Not-Fran was still blasting deafening yelps of what I can only assume was such important information it needed to be conveyed right then and everyone on the patio, in the parking lot, and in Pappasito's parking lot.

Not-Fran was a car accident. I couldn't look away. I was fascinated by the shrieking. How had this man not ripped off his ears?

Finally I said, "She's got a voice that'd make someone want to club a baby seal." To which Vanessa added, "Yeah - with its brother."


"Don't worry your pretty little head" The State is now available

Before MTV entered it's current spin cycle of suck, the network used to host kickass shows that were avant garde - think The Jon Stewart Show, The Ben Stiller Show, and Liquid Television. The State was a sketch comedy show during the 90's that made Saturday Night Live of that era look like Little House on the Prairie. The show was much funnier than its big network counterpart. Only In Living Color could come close to its edgey subjects and its lack of respect for social conventions.

What's not to love about two white pimps, nearly as cool as "a Drexl," with a love seat covered in $240 worth of vanilla puddin'? The answer is "nothing," which is why I scoured the universe and Best Buy for DVDs. No dice. I nearly lost my mind with the GoogleWeb told me that The State on DVD didn't exist due to some mumbo jumbo legal crapola.

PTL for Steve Yobs and his ability to convince folks that selling downloadable media is a good way to make money. So, The State is now available for download on iTunes. It's $2 per episode price tag works out to roughly $10 for Season 1, which is a much cheaper and less time consuming way to enjoy $240 worth of pudding and without the mess.


The real inconvenient truth for some is that Houston's a cool town

Lisa Falkenberg is a columnist for the Houston Chronicle who recently relocated from Austin to Houston. In today's piece, she describes a conversation that I have endured countless times since my November return to H-town after 18 months in Austin.
It's a strange phenomenon, the same thing all over Houston.

When I tell people I recently moved from the Chronicle's Austin bureau to start writing this column, I often get an apology.

"Oh, I'm sorry," they'll say. "That must have been a hard move. Don't you miss it?"

"No, actually," I usually say. "Austin gets really small after a while. There's Prozac in the water, and people seem overly concerned with being weird. Houston, with all its imperfections, is real to me. I love this place."
Preach on, sistuh girl. Hopefully folks will start to believe if enough of us residents set them straight. To you Houston Haters, local and not: why don't you step up the plate and take a swing at a good time instead of sitting back and bitching? Gimme a call. I'll be your wingman.


This hat wasn't the weirdest part of the weekend

I suck.
Shot by K.E.B.
Last week was pretty grueling. I was treated to a kick in the jewels during my first Monday back in the real work world. Thursday was even worse than a Monday. My only clean shirt had French cuffs. I couldn't find my cuff links for at least 15 minutes. I dirtied my shirt upon entering my car. I drove past the cleaners during my attempt to drop off my other dirty shirts. And, I had to be a hardass 30 minutes after I walked into the office. That all happened before most people had even hit the snooze button.

Friday's lunch was the only bright spot in the week.

I woke up at the crack of 7:10 AM on Saturday morning after five straight days of 6:30 alarms and subsequent snoozes. SUNOVA! I contemplated the spinning fan blades for 15 minutes before I realized that sleep would not overtake me again. So, I did the most illogical thing ever: I started weeding the planter in the front of my house.

Oops. Sorry. I should have told you to take a seat first. Try an icepack and some Advil for that conk on the head.

Los Pedros and I had been chatting about lawn conditions (krikey I sound grown-up...and Australian) on Friday night in between my maniacal work-related rants. Six months of relative neglect topped off by a week of European vacation had left the planter a blooming weed infested eye sore. At least it matched the flower bed at the base of the tree in the front yard. Thus, the Saturday morning weed weeding session.

Friday night I realized that my house was quickly approaching the least attractive on the block. Now, I'm not really that into image, but I also didn't want my crib to look like The Klopeks. By 8 AM the tree bed and the planter were weeded. I actually felt better. Imagining that I was pulling the heads off of troublesome colleagues seemed to alleviate some of my residual work week stress. Who knew?

I completely annihilated the backyard bouganvilla and mowed the hay in the frontyard in the ensuing two hours and even had time to squeeze in a quick shower before the crawfish dealer called at 10:15 AM. 177 pounds of medium/large Louisiana crawdads with my name on them were about to be delivered to a nearby restaurant parking lot. Time to fire up The Heater and head out to Austin via the parking lot.

Los Mackies hosted a berle on Saturday at their ranch, which is actually ranched size and in the country unlike FPR. Two berlin' rigs made quick work of the five sacks, as did the gathering of eaters. The batches seemed perfectly timed to satisfy all diners with a constant stream of freshly berled goodness. And, trucking in the crawfish from Houston probably paid for the keg of Abita that we nearly floated. Damn, we're old. Not floating the keg is also a sure sign that Homie and Roscoe were not present.

Oh, well. The crawfish were stellar; the beer was cold; and the company was outstanding.


The BackWord is Back...Again

The BackWord Masthead

The Padres and the Cubs are currently tied up in the 13th inning right now. The guy across from me is a Padres fan so I've been sharing my SMS score updates with him since I'm such a good Christian (Thanks, Manatee). He didn't realize that I'm a Cubs fan and started to say, "Whatthe?" I cut him off and tried to send him a link to my explanation, which was previously published on The BackWord.com, a Texas-centric eZine for which I used to scribe. Unfortunately, it has gone the way of the jackalope.

TreyDogg reupped everything B-Dub to his brog, but the content didn't survive his recent migration to killer technology. This spurned me to post my stuff out here, so I am doing that now while listening to a conference call. I posted the articles on the date of their original publication, but have consolidated a list of links below. All of the original pictures were included here, but the funky Texas inspired graphic design did not survive.

I hope you dig it.
JB el JB from TheBackWord.com

+ The Parallels Between Texas and Italy from May 31, 2004

+ A Cubs Fan in Houston from July 19, 2004

+ Houston: A Really Big Small Town from August 9, 2004

+ What Non-Texans Don't Know... from September 27, 2004

+ 12 Steps for Surviving Austin City Limits Music Festival 2005 from October 10, 2004

+ I'm Tough and Stuff from October 24, 2004

+ H-Town Vintage* 2004 from January 1, 2005

+ Resolutions for Procrastinators from February 1, 2005

+ Searching for My LaFawnduh from March 1, 2005

+ Westward Ho: From TX to the OC from April 15, 2005

Back in the cube farm

Back in the cube farm
Back in the cube farm
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
For those of you who didn't receive the TPS report, I am back in the world of the billable and no longer riding the gravy train. The short answer to your question is "because it made sense, and I was sick of not having any leverage to get things done." I am reticent yet excited to be back on the delivery side of the house.

The tricky part of this situation is the immense level of autonomy inherent in my last position has resulted in me being spoiled shitless. The lynch pin of this is my ability to work from wherever whenever and to set my own travel schedule or to refuse to travel all together. Fortunately, I am pended for an in-town gig about eight miles from the ranch. I am working from the downtown office until that pans out.

Today's my second day back in the "real world" of cube farms and people that dress like a night club for an office space. I've worked from here a few times during my gravy train. I actually prefer working from here because of the infrastructure and my gregarious nature. But that was when I actually had some choice in the matter.

This choice was usually the result of an internal dialog in the shower.
How you feeling?
Pretty good, you?
Pretty good. Think I should go the office?
Not really feeling the office today. You should go to The Daily Grind instead.
Now, I have no choice. I must come into the office. The realization of the differences in these similar situations has been an exercise in a statement of obvious facts. But, it is still jaw jarring none the less.
Top 5 Things I Realized During My Drive Into the Office
5. Teaming is not effective when one works from home despite what any Internet2.0 junky says. CRAP. Looks like I'll be back in the pool of regular commuters.
4. Traffic sucks. I need to leave the house by 7:15 AM in order for traffic not to suck.
3. I have to work during normal business hours (8 AM to 6 PM) since the team I managing will be working during those hours.
2. Freeloading at the parking meters is no longer an option because I'll be "working" past 4 PM. The parking cops don't check during the day very often, but they're diligent as hell about ticketing after 4 PM and those bad boys cost $65 a pop.
1. I need to produce results daily.
Holy shit what have I done?

Anyone need a stay at home freeloader? I am reasonably decent at brogging and very skilled at cooking breakfast. Sometimes I'm funny, but only if I have been properly rested, watered and entertained. I prefer real food to Hot Pockets, flip flops to dress shoes, sushi over everything else and brunettes over blondes. Let me know if you need to see my CV or need references.

Free virtual phone solution keeps you in the loop or let's you hide

Heads up. There is a slick new web-based phone service that you should know about. GrandCentral provides a one number telephony solution that makes the final destination of the call transparent to the caller. That's the nerd way of saying, you can call one number and have it ring multiple phones in various locations just like all those bad guys in James Bond movies. I know what you're thinking: Why do I need this? I can just give out my cell number and folks can reach me wherever I am. Sure. You could do that, but then everyone (i.e. clients, exes, collection agents, etc.) could end up with your cell number; and, then they can hound you all the time. Interested? Read on. Not? Have a great day while the rest of us dork out for a few minutes.

The service is called GrandCentral.com. It's free, and it's bad ass. Read the write up on LifeHacker if you don't believe me.

One phone number to rule them all
GrandCentral is a brilliant new web app that lets you consolidate all of your phone numbers into one number, meaning someone can call you on your GrandCentral phone number and all of your phones (cell phone, work phone, home phone) will ring. And then it gets interesting.

Still not buying it? You're dumb. The reason that I'm so excited is because I rarely work in the office, so giving out my office number is pointless. I can't give out my client location phone number to other clients from different groups. I'm not sure why, but I've heard it's ethical. Huh. I didn't know I had ethics; that rocks. Finally, I hate giving out my cell number to clients. I don't want to hear from them after 6PM or, heaven forbid, on the weekends.

In my last role, I was in contact with many clients constantly. Based on the reasons stated above, I signed up for Vonage and used it to facilitate an anywhere or virtual work phone. But, Vonage costs $30 a month and may go out of business due to the pending litigation regarding patent infringement. My internal communications dork broke down in a blubbering heap of snot and busted fiber.

Reading about GrandCentral on LifeHacker caused JB, Tech Dork, to send hallelujahs skyward. Ideally GC can steer clear of legal trouble and stay in business. May be the Googlians will buy them. One can only hope.

Four 14 Show goes off with hitch

Happy Couple
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
K & H tied ye ole Gordian Knot this past Saturday resulting in yet another very prestigious union. For all you ladies out there aching for details, the bride wore a dress and so did most of the other chicks in attendance. The groom and his posse were tuxed out and looked really charp. We clean up well. You almost couldn't tell one of us was a Bolivian. Almost.

In all seriousness, the wedding was afuckingmazing. Sure, sure, that's why you pay the wedding planner big bucks, but something usually still goes haywire at the last minute. The biggest problem we had was the manager of the reception hall telling us we couldn't bring our beer on to the grounds let alone into the building.

Houston Crew
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Excuse me? Jackass say what? Clearly he had not yet experienced the power of a fully operational JB Con Tuxedo. I did not kick his ass only due to my respect for the bride who may have killed me with my shirt stud if I caused any sort of hiccup in the proceedings. That bastard got off lucky.

Other stuff you'd like to know: no one tripped on the steps up the altar, no groomsmen cried (B. Whitley held it in), the band ROCKED, the food made us all wonder if we could have a doggy bag for late night eats, and no, my reverending services were not required, but that would have been sweet.

Ice Bar
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
The 9th Modern Wonder of the JB is the ice bar. Rather than satisfy themselves with a normal bar set-up for the reception, H & K commissioned two bars carved out of ice and inscribed with their wedding logo. Holy schnikes! I must have died and stumbled into a Malibu wedding. The entire event was top shelf, but not gaudy which can only be attributed to the excellent taste of the bride and groom.

The most decadent portion of the affair was the hotel suite that the bride and groom forced on the wedding party. By forced, I mean, offered. It went something like this:
JB, we'd like you to be in the wedding. Whaddaya say?
Well, I gotta do my taxes that weekend...
We'll throw in a suite at Hotel ICON for the weekend.
I'm in.

Grazing flamingoes
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Actually, a couple of groomsmen and I questioned this kind gesture since we lived in town or could at least share the swanky digs. Thank God we got rebuffed. We must have been out of our minds to suggest that we could stay at FPR instead of sleeping on a cloud of cushyness surrounded by 800 thread-count sheets smothered by enough down to outfit a whole flock of Canadians.

I took full advantage of el suite. Sleeping most of the waking hours when my presence wasn't required for wedding functions? Check. Long luxurious soak in the two person Jacuzzi tub while reading the comics on Sunday afternoon? Check. Watching Cablevision so long that my eyes nearly turned into raisins from not blinking? Check.

The Four 14 Show was amazing. I'm happy to have been a part of it, but now I have a luxury hotel hangover. I am scared that the only cure may be to move back into my suite for at least one night a week. Looks like it may be time to start crashing a few weddings. Anyone know Chuck Vindaloo?


Hotel ICON is some kinda classy

Hotel ICON is some kinda classy
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.

These two leggy roommates shared my weekend digs with me. Rrrrr. Naughty time.


Puh Puh Puh Paga 2007

Inside the huddle
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
It has happened again. My No Tsu Oh brethren and I went to Rimini for Paganello. Buona Pasqua bitches.

We passed a good time, chere. The not so buona part was losing in the finals to UTI, a London-based frisber powerhouse team. The short story is that UTI played a great game with few forced errors. NTO did not. I definitely did not as the cankle was not game ready, and I'm way out of shape. Didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that - just a video about how to berle crawfish. How many pounds does the camera add? I digress. Mi scusi.

The annual pilgrimage was good but not great. The good part was visiting Italian friends that I only get to see onced (that's a coonass word, piss off) a year: Raffa, Cris, Sara, Luca, Chiara, Pippo, the bartenders at The Barge. Partying with the other teams is also a zesty undertaking. ZESTY!

The not great part of the tourney was coming down with a stomach virus on Tuesday. I was in bed for roughly 18 hours that day. Guess where the other 6 were spent. I slept about 2 hours on Wednesday morning in some sort of hallucinating trance-like state. As I lay there shivering under mounds of covers, I could only wonder if HST felt like this during one of his epic drug binges.

20 Car Bombs at The Barge
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
The good news is that I managed to hold it together for the plane ride across the Atlantic and the train ride across Italia. Then the wheels fell off upon arriving in Rimini on Thursday.

Without being too graphic, I can tell you that I only left my hotel room for a quick 20 minute round trip to The Barge to catch up with the team for a fleeting moment of festivities. Turns out 20 minutes is plenty long enough to lose "Battle of Wits" versus Schultzy. Stumped? Think Princess Bride. There was no iocane powder, but there was a shot of Italian K-Mart vodka. I nearly yacked from the smell, but I think the 80 proof shooter momentarily distracted the virus. Unfortunately, the virus awakened with renewed vigor and forced me to sprint back to the hotel.

We have GayTor
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
The highlight of my trip was penning a ransom note to a rival team after we gained possession of their mascot. Please note that I said "gained possession" not "kidnapped" as it is my understanding that a teammate "found" said mascot unattended and cowering in the corner of the party tent fearing molestation and loss of another limb. I channeled my inner Strongbad in an effort halt offensive action by the other team (who shall remain nameless so that Google powers can't be used for reprisal). If you're interested in more details, you need to bring me a High Life. Then we can chat.

The trip from Rimini to Milano was relaxing but bittersweet as the finality of next year's impending team retirement sunk in. I'm glad that the team will close on a high note. How can I know it's a high note? Simple. No matter what happens next year, we will have won the tourney at least five out of nine tries. That's preety good. Plus, I have built many solid new friendships and strengthened existing relationships. I am very proud of that.

I'd be more proud to play a shit ton of points next year. Time to start running.

The trip ended on a huge positive with a visit to Raffa and Cris in Como. Visiting Raffa and Cris is an annual highlight of the trip and an illustration of a relationship strengthened by my annual trips to Italia. There is no way that either Raffa or I would have guessed that we'd still be good friends after a brief stint together in grad skule. Small world; short life.

Raffa & Cris
Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
Anyway, Raffa and Cris had big news to share. The renovations to the family home were complete with all three apartments being livable. Most importantly, they told me that I was to be an Americano Uncle. Bambino/a is on the way. Sweet!

Attention coworkers and colleagues, I will be unavailable for corporate exploitation during Easter 2008 and the surrounding weeks. Please plan accordingly. Cheers.


Year 35 Has Begun

That flourish of trumpets that you heard at 12:50 CST today signaled the beginning of Year 35. Feel free to sleep well now. Who knew that I would make it this long? I half expected to have been a victim on a stat sheet for some sort of moving vehicle accident. I'm serious. Experienced JB el JB stalkers know that my history on wheels, particularly of the dual wheeled motorized vehicle variety, is somewhat sketchy. [Note to Mom: No, I am not hoping to manifest anything. Just making an observation.]

Today, I took vacation and woke up without a clear direction or desire to exit the most comfortable bed in the world (it's a fact, you can look it up). But, most of my colleagues, relatives and friends would say this is par for the course. Let's just say I was even more relaxed than ever. Picture a cross between The Dude and Floyd from True Romance. The result would be a vision of nonchalance on par with my BURDAY self.

I mapped out my day with Los Pedros last night. A few errands needed attention: bank, post office, Toys R Us, etc. I also decided to exploit the local area Denny's to the fullest and cash in for at least two free birthday meals. BURDAY 34 would conclude with a feast of chili cheese dogs at the Libbey Compound whilst watching Opening Day Astros and the NCAA Final.

Cliches abound regarding best laid plans and all that. In my realm, prans are made to be altered at the last minute when more better (sit on it, rhetoric nerd) options rear their pretty little faces. Rare are the occasions when a sensible choice is made, but BURDAYs are time for such grown-up sensibilities, 'specially when you're old or getting there. Thank God I'm still not 38.

I'm proud to say that I made several sensible choices today. First, I chose not to display my BURDAY suit even though I'm pretty sure BT's Handbook says it's OK to flaunt said BURDAY suit on one's BURDAY. I'm not quite pleased with the cut of this particular suit. Unfortunately good tailors are hard to find. They typically lurk in mirrors and live at Bally's a fair bit. Hmmm...I'll have to check out the local Bally's sometime next month for that tailor.

The second good choice I made was oatmeal. I heard that oatmeal is good for you. I also remember liking oatmeal more than Coke, but that version of oatmeal was populated with herds of butter and sugar. That version is not good for you. Good for you oatmeal reminds me of snot. And, I don't like to eat snot or carrots or Brussels sprouts. Today I ate oatmeal so that I could reduce my cholesterol by at least one half of a point thereby enabling me to eat my chili dogs for dinner.

Making two good choices and following through exhausted me no end. Think about when Jean Grey does cool shit in X-Men and then passes out. Shit, I just made a comic book reference. Anyway, I felt nearly the same way. I dorked out my Mac chatting with friends and emailing and surfing for gas guzzling pick-up trucks until I realized that my butt was asleep and I was the only Daily Grind customer not eating lunch. Try the cheeseburger. So, I left.

A bad lunch rejuvenated me and put me back on the path toward pseudo-activity. The Pete and met for cajun food, which is always good, but never good for you, and homemade creme brulee, which can never be Jello. Then I ran some errands and wrote up a few headlines for Houstonist in between reading a BURDAY feud between MJ and The Manatee during which he berated her for not informing his Ambassadorship of my BURDAY. She told him not to come home unless he wanted an ass kicking, but they're kinky like that so he left work early.

Originally uploaded by JaseMan.
I left not work early to pedal the sled down to 11th Street and back with TP & KP. Eight miles later we returned sweaty and ready for game dawgs.

The game dawgs were great; the games sucked. I wrangled the hot dogs, not dogs and chili. LP got dessert dialed in, and TP kept KP from eating my flip flops. Lidge blew a save. Go figure. Sorry Oswalt. Is it too late to void Lidge's contract and send him to the Great Lakes Loons? Yes, I know they're not in the Astros organization. That's the point. Plus, it's still snowing up there and his arm couldn't be colder. March Madness ended with Florida handling Ohio State, which means Gator fans will be tough to handle again. At least Spurrier wasn't involved.

Thanks for the calls and emails and what have you. I really appreciate it. Anyone up for a road trip to Fun Fair Park?