Friday, April 30, 2004

The Utah Trip

As travelogues go, this will be by far the most mundane. To be blunt (and possibly save you time), I really didn't do much in Salt Lake City, but not for the reasons you might expect. You know, like, "Dude, it's fucking Utah! What can you do there?" But first, some back story.

The entire purpose of the trip was to see A & C. I went to school with A, both of us freshmen in the fall of '92. She was one of the first people I met (admittedly, through her then roommate, who I kinda had a little crush on) and to this day is one of my closest friends. We even lived together for a couple of years in two different group housing situations. Anyway, the last time I saw them was nearly five years ago. (I have known C for nearly as long, as he and A met that same fall of '92.) The last time I saw C was the day of the birth of their first son, M, in August of 1999 and the last time I saw A was a month later, at a friend's wedding. We have remained in touch, of course, but due mostly to my financial struggles that began in the winter of '99, I haven't really had the scratch to get down and see them. In that same time, they have also had a second son, S, so raising a family, in addition to their work, has kept them from making it up to this area.

Needless to say, this trip was long overdue. I set aside the vacation time a few months back, and was really looking forward to making it back to Austin (where they were living until a few weeks ago; a bit more on that in a sec). Then, sometime at the end of February, when I was getting ready to coordinate times and such with them, I found out the news: due to some occupational re-shuffling and downsizing, they had to move to Salt Lake City, where A was getting a job at the corporate headquarters (the other option being unemployment). So SLC it was. I booked the room sometime during the first week of March and booked my flight a few weeks later. Fast forward to a week ago today and presto, I'm in beautiful Salt Lake City.

The flight: window seat the entire trip, with only one connection (in Chicago, my next travel destination). Not too bad, even though it left at 8 in the morning and I wound up only getting 4 hours of sleep the night before. C meets me at the baggage claim, we head off to his truck, and mere moments later, we're in search of vittles. I have to say, Salt Lake City is beautiful. Mountains all around, some still with snow on top, a decidedly tall building-free skyline, and an all-around cleanliness (for lack of a better word) makes it a joy just to ride through. And ride we did, in search of food. What was my first official stop outside the airport in Salt Lake City? Why, Hooters, of course. As has been the case of every other Hooters I've been to, the experience was underwhelming. The beer and wings were delicious, but the staff--less than stimulating. From there we get on to the hotel, where I drop off my bags, give my hair (which is really fucked up for some reason) a once over, and it's back on the road. At this point, it's almost time to go pick up the kids from day care, so our next destination is decided. But before that, a few things to note about my first impressions of downtown Salt Lake City:

Clean. Almost freakishly so. To the point where I nearly question its "city" status.

Traffic is obeying the letter of the law. Stopping at all the crosswalks, going the speed limit, the whole bit. On more than a couple of occasions, I marveled at how some people were able to cross the street without becoming roadkill, as they would have here or just about any other metropolitan area for that matter.

A big billboard for Alternative Utah. If you go to that site, the first billboard I saw was the top, without the makeover. I thought, "wow, the queer community doesn't even get that kinda board space in Dupont Circle! And here they are representin' in Mormon nation. How deliciously perverse!" Okay, that last part I just added in there in a fit of Paul Lynde/Oscar Wilde tomfoolery. Sorry. Then, the next day (or possibly even later that day), it was redone as the bottom billboard (as seen on the site), pimping "Alternative Music Utah." Feh. Modern rock shenanigans. And look at those fucking assmonkeys! I bet you Bill likes to fart on Kerry and Gina while they eat.

Back to the actual trip: we go to pick up M and S from day care. We go to M's class first, and he runs up and hugs C with a loud "Daddy!" cry. Then he sees me standing a little behind and he says, "Who's that guy, daddy?" After a brief explanation, we go pick up S (who is a mere 10 months) in the baby room, where he is being tended to by a rather cute employee. (Another aside: two of the kids there, a brother and sister, were named Jet and Jade. Now if you're going to give your kids alliterative names--damn you, mom!--those are two of the better ones.) We scoop up the kids and we're back to their crib. And what a crib it is! They are actually only renting it for six months from a WNBA player who was a member of the now-defunct Utah Starzz and currently plays elsewhere (but keeps her home in SLC, in which I believe she may have roots). Anyway, A and C are definitely living large for the time being. Not P. Diddy large, but large all the same. We are greeted at the door by Chuy and Max, their two dogs. And cue: allergies! Actually, the allergies didn't kick in immediately, and as it turns out, they were mostly cat related (as one of the couches is still home to some dander that belongs to the WNBA player's cats). But for that evening, when I was on the couch, my allergies just took me to the woodshed. I think the lack of sleep and hours of travel may have worn me down a bit, too, making me more susceptible. But, I prattle on.

Moments later, A arrives from work, we hug, she is warmly greeted by M, and it's catch up time. The rest of the evening consisted of conversation, dog walking, a homemade spaghetti dinner, and a game or two of Hi Ho, Cherry-O!. Sometime around 10:30, A drives me back to the hotel, where I quickly change out of my hair-covered clothes, turn on HBO, and crash not too much later. And that's Thursday.

Friday: I slept in late (when C called at 9 to see if I was up, I had to beg off for a few more hours). When I do get up and ready myself, it turns out that he needed to get a new battery for A's car. So we're postponing for a little while longer. That's fine. I decide to do a little exploring for myself. I get outside, in search for a small bite to eat (nothing big as lunch was in the cards), and just wander. I finally get a $0.99 type burger from Carl's Jr. with some chocolate chip cookies. Yum. Then I walk around some more, seeing the Temple (of course), and some other nice buildings which I cannot identify. Here's where the travelogue really falls apart, because my whole purpose for this trip was to spend time with A and C and their family, not to explore/sightsee. Sure, that would hopefully be part of the deal (especially since it would be a exploration for both of us, since they had just moved up there about a week before I arrived), but not a major priority. I come across Crossroads Plaza (your typical mall) and finally, Wasatch CD Exchange. we are. One thing I try to do when I travel is find the local music dive where I can pick up your basic indie/avant/underground/miscellaneous album. This was a fine store, indeed. My purchase: Virtuosity, by Chops (he of The Mountain Brothers). It's a solid, if a bit "same-y" sounding, record and recommended to all you hip-hop headz out there. After that purchase, I get back to the hotel. Time passes by, then I'm out the door with C.

Another aside: the weather is ridiculously nice. The temp is only in the mid 60s, but with no wind and on elevated terrain, it's perfect, and not at all what was being called for when I checked the weather on Wednesday night before I packed. Score!

Lunch was at Squatters and was delicious. We dined on the outdoor patio, where I had some amazing garlic fries with my entree and a couple of delicious beverages (a Black and Blonde as well as a Captain Bastard's Oatmeal Stout). C also bought this shirt on the way out, which I wish I had picked up, in retrospect. Funny.

Post-Squatters, we basically drove around, looking for something to do and coming up mondo empty. We drove up by the university (of Utah) and then back down in the valley, but ultimately found nothing that interested either of us. Really, there isn't much more to say about this day: we picked up the kids from day care (where the older children, including M's class, were doing sing-a-longs for the parents; a verse: "If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain it would be!" Eat your heart out, Bernie Taupin! I had that song stuck in my head the whole weekend); we had dinner at Wingers, then went back to the spot for some more maxin' and relaxin' (and dog walkin'). My return to the hotel that night was about 12:30 am.

Saturday: woke up and found out that little S was sick and had to be taken to the doc. So I had some time to kill, which I did with the NFL Draft. Fuck you, Eli Manning! And welcome aboard, Vernon Carey! But of course, fuck you Pittsburgh, and fuck you harder Buffalo! I can't believe Big Ben dropped to the Steelers, and that the Bills picked up the QB I was hoping the Phins could somehow pick up. Damn!

Lunch, around 2pm, was at Cafe Pierpont (mit bad service! But excellent salsa bar), then it was off to Hill Aerospace Museum. We didn't have a lot of time to explore, but it was good fun, and recommended if you're into that sorta thing. After that, we went for a brief expedition on Porter Rockwell Trail. Again, not much more to the day, winding down once again at their house, watching Trading Spaces reruns and some late night chinese food.

Sunday morning was a comedy of errors trying to cram in one "fun" thing before I left, or at least a nice little brunch, as A kinda felt bad that we didn't get to do much due to sick kids and car batteries and work and such. She needn't have felt that way, though, since I really enjoyed myself. I saw enough of the place to want to go back and everything I wanted to accomplish--catching up with A and C and their family--was done. Anyway, as it turns out, all the restaurants we wanted to try were either closed or too far from the airport for us to get to and actually dine. So, after dining under the golden arches, I was packed off to the airport. It was a hard goodbye for sure, but that happens. I had forgotten how much I loved being around A and C. And their kids are just angels! Even M took a shine to me, something I learned was rare, unless you happen to be a pretty girl. (Smart kid.)

The trip back was a little hellish (I was in the middle seat most of the way and had two connections), ending with a lost bag. On the plus side, I had a reason to skip work the next day. All in all, my first encounter with Salt Lake City turned out to be a very good one, with the city defying my (admittedly ignorant) expectations and then some. jello for everyone!

Monday, April 26, 2004

I just got back to the spot from Utah about an hour ago (it's 1:15 am right now). The trip, which will be described in greater detail some time in the future, was great until the finish, when my last connecting flight was about 25 minutes late and my luggage was lost. Yeah, if you heard a loud "FUCK!" around 11:15 tonight in the vicinity of National Airport, that was me.

On the other hand, today (the 26th) is my nephew's 5th birthday. So I got that going for me.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Just heard on TV:

Artie Lang, doing a Regis Philbin impression, "Rock, do you mind if we hit you with an ASS-BALLOON?!"

Ahhhhh....late night.

Gawker put this up today. Oy. Cuddle parties? Of course, without them, I may never have read the phrase "ridiculous California-damaged ninny" today. The only way a cuddle party would work out is if it was combined with a bacon tasting. Then I could go for it.

Ugh...this joke writes itself. The job of late night comedy writer just got a bit easier for at least a week. Just sad.

Slow your roll, Maurice. That's right, the courts did the right thing, in my ignorant opinion. As much as I am a mark for Clarett (being a Harding alum and all), I still think his career, and that of every other player who would try to get into the league under this ruling, will be better off in the long run. I just hope he can get his college eligibility back.

In other "news," I'm going to Salt Lake City this week to visit my good friends, Mr. and Mrs. C. It should be fun. The last time I saw both of them together was almost five years ago, when they had only one dog and one kid (who at that time was just a day old). I saw Mrs. C a month later at the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. M, whom I will be seeing (among others) on my trip to Chicago in June. (FYI to those which the following is applicable: rooms without ridiculous daily rates are impossible to find for those dates, so I will likely be seeking assistance on the housing end. I have one more connection to try to get me the hookup; otherwise, expect some requests.)

The weekend that was: home for mom's birthday on Friday night (this trip also included an "inspiring" trip to Annapolis on Saturday afternoon), drunkenness at the Black Cat on Saturday night, and nothing of consequence on a beautiful, lazy Sunday. (Well, except for Backlash, which featured two must-see matches for you marks who missed it: Cactus Jack vs. Randy Orton was tremendous for its brutality, and the booking and execution of the main event made it another match of the year candidate for Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Benoit. That's two PPVs in a row now.) Here's something useful to all you aspiring alcoholics out there: black cherry soda and Vanilla Stoli, like Ben Affleck in Phantoms, is the bomb, yo.

There is nothing else to report.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Today's phrase that pays: horror vacui.

Also: Astroboy as currency. What would be an American equivalent? Homer Simpson? (I seen it. That is to say I saw it here.)

Then there's this: I wanna be trailer trash. (This was swiped from here.)

Finally: take that. (Lifted from this site.)

Sunday, April 11, 2004

People, people, please. Cease your wailing. I'm back. Those dependent upon my hilarious braying need wait no longer. Daddy's home, daddy's home.

Just got back from the birthday/Easter weekend. All in all, very good. The kids were over last night, which was hilarious as always. My niece has the best afro my family has seen since my sister (the one turning 19 this weekend) was a baby. Just awesome and wild. My sister's was more spherical, with tighter curls. Perfectly round, actually. My niece is closer to Ludacris in 2 Fast 2 Furious, but curlier. (His busted-ass hairstyle was more of a comb out than a big, fucked-up afro.) Actually, if you want a good comparison, think King Buzzo of the Melvins/Fantomas. Just wild.

As for my nephew, he's also on that wild, accelerated growing up ride. He seems a bit taller and a lot smarter every time I see him. To be expected, I guess, since he's going to be 5 in two weeks. Still, I can't help but take notice. I suppose if I saw him more, the progression would seem natural. As it is, it seems like he'll be hotwiring cars and crossing state lines in no time at all.

The rest of the family are holding it down as always. There's the normal dysfunctional stuff, sure, but that's not really for this forum. (And not too bad, anyway.)

Not much to report. Even though the family is in Annapolis now (as opposed to that beautiful social desert, the Eastern Shore), there's not much for me to do when I go home. I do have one thing: when we finally made it back to my mom's place on Friday night, she was watching The Brini Maxwell Show. I have to say, I enjoyed what I caught of it. It's like Martha Stewart without the evil, and just the slightest bit of camp. Brini plays it so straight-faced and sincere, though, that it never reaches the point of overbearing. (She's not Paul Lynde, for example. Though, if he were alive, I'd like to think he'd have a similar show on TV.) Plus, and I have no idea if this happens on every episode (I sort of hope it does), Brini and some guy, having thrown a record on the hi-fi, belted out a nice little duet. Very Shag. Mr. O would approve. I think this comes on E! as well, so I might have to keep an eye out for it

Friday, April 9, 2004

Le mot du jour: entelechy.

Yeah, that's all.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Black Gallagher, bitch!

Um, yeah.

Anyway, what's been going on? Last weekend basically revolved around Saturday. In the afternoon, JW and I went to see Hellboy, which was a solid film. Not being at all familiar with the source material, I have no idea if it was faithful to the comic, or if it was another Hollywood whitewash, but based solely on its merits as a movie, it was definitely worth seeing. Moreover, it makes me want to go pick up a Hellboy collection or two. Now that's quality.

That night, JW, Mr. O, and I hit Bugsy's, as well as the Fish Market (is that the name of that joint?). We hit tried Bugsy's first, but it was still silly packed because of the Duke/UConn game. (Go UConn!) So we hit the Fish Market instead, and by the time the game was over and we went back, Bugsy's had thinned out considerably. So we got our table, got our drinks, and basically just shot the shit. I once again tried to "Free Westy," but did not succeed. All these ducks is killing me inside.

The work week has flown by. Boss is out tomorrow and Friday, and today, we had the farewell reception for the assistant boss, who is getting promoted to CFO of another property. Good for her. Meanwhile, I got my drink on. Nothing like getting roasted on company time. What?! And the foodstuffs was tasty to boot. I felt kinda bad for the outgoing assistant, though, because not many people showed up. (She was not exactly the most well-respected person in our hotel.) Oh well, what does it matter to her? She's about to get paid some serious ducats.

Speaking of jobs, the one I was considering is now off the radar. I found out that they're not trying to pay a brotha more than he's making now, so I said fuck it. It's just as well; a new department would have only been a temporary solution. The real solution is finding a job elsewhere altogether.

The next few weekends are fatpacked. This weekend is my baby sister's 19th birthday, as well as Easter. Next weekend is my mother's birthday, and the weekend after that is my trip to Salt Lake City, plus my nephew's birthday. And yes, I did finally buy my SLC ticket. I bought it when I got home Sunday afternoon, and it cost me about $75 less than I would have paid any time between then and when I booked my room. So everything is set for that. I have one weekend to breathe, then if everything goes well, the following weekend I'm in Virginia Beach with JG and anybody else who wants to come along.

This weekend, I'm missing two social gatherings. On Sunday, a friend of mine is having an Easter BBQ, and on Saturday, a co-worker of mine is having a birthday party at H2O, which from what I've heard, is one of the hotter clubs in D.C. Of course, it also seems like the kind of place where I would not have a good time, just because I would be so out of place in a club where you have to dress up. Consequently, even if this weekend wasn't booked up, I would have probably found an excuse to get out of it.

And that, motherfuckers, is that.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

'Sup fools. The DVX is in the hizzy and um, something else hip. Or something.

The week is wrapping up and it's been up and down (work-wise). I talked to the director in the department to which I'm considering transferring, and from my conversation with her, the job sounds like it's mine if I want to take it. There are pros and cons, of course. Despite her reassurance that I'd be perfect for the job (she actually said I was the first person she thought of when the department was given the green light to create the position), I'm having doubts. Nothing major, probably just jitters, but still, the doubt exists. It's going to be an entirely new experience and the perfectionist side of me (small and hidden though he may be) doesn't like the idea of going into a new position and possibly fumbling around during the transition.

The pro side--a very big pro--is that it would be a change to a different department. While it's not getting me out of this place completely, the change may be enough to not make me want to smack fools just for livin' on a daily basis. Seriously, I have some pretty great co-workers, but the place has kinda fallen apart due to what feels like non-stop turnover and position switches since last summer. What was once a fairly cohesive unit feels like a patchwork lineup of journeymen and past-their-primers. (To use a convoluted sports analogy.) Plus, though it's not been confirmed, I believe I'll be making more cash in this new job. That's always sweet. And hey, if I decide I want to stay in the hospitality trade, the area in which I'll be working will be very valuable in the future. So I got that going for me.

Quoi d'autre? Oh yeah, new term that I hope to never use legitimately (i.e., under a non-comedic setting): "ass-milk." Thank you, Dave Chappelle.

Also, thanks to Monica, I now have "shibby" stuck in my head again. Haven't had that in a long time. Shibby!

Okay, obviously I'm just padding this entry out. But before I wrap it up, I have to say well done to Mr. C on his entry in the wonderful world of blogs (as mentioned previously). It's a swell read.

Speaking of reading blogs (segue!), I'm almost positive one of the boys posted this, but if not, here it is: an anthology of blog writing. (More about it here.) I want to say there's something wrong with this...something that does not sit well...but it would probably come off as my suckling at the teat of hate. One more time with feeling: I don't hate, I participate.

Vega$, bitch. What?