Crafts, Inspiration

Not Safe for Pinterest

Like the proverbial magpie drawn to shiny objects, my eyes first fell on the shimmering  cigarillo wrappers of Swisher Sweets during my daily dog-walking duties. Despite my neighborhood’s reputation as a historic haven for Warby Parker and Lululemon enthusiasts, someone was keeping it real. A stoner version of Hansel and Gretel left me a trail of these flat-as-a-bookmark packages on the hike and bike trail, discarded curbside, and even floating in a drainage ditch after a heavy rain, gleaming like a Faberge egg. I soon turned pro forager, easily identifying the trademark Swisher Sweets label from a distance with fragrant promises of Boozy Mango and Twisted Berry. However, I discovered the area had a competing brand in the form of a fluffy owl perched on a lit cigarillo, the White Owl.  Other economy-sized varieties followed, featuring names like City Life, the Four Kings, and Show, depicting a lady spiraling on a stripper pole.

As my collection grew, my mind turned to thoughts of crafting.  With Christmas around the corner, I envisioned a purely synthetic masterpiece, accented by ornaments fashioned from the wrappers. Hung from tiny gold safety pins, the upcycled ornaments would adorn a winter white, artificial tree topped with a Little Tree, the air freshener often seen hanging from dashboard mirrors in an effort to disguise the smell of what’s really in all those cigarillos. Keeping with the evergreen theme, I chose a simple tree pattern for my ornament-making and set to work, carefully cutting out the trees from the wrappers. Wrappers that still bore their fruity, funky vapors, leading me to take frequent breaks for fresh air. But nothing prepared me for the deodorizing punch of the Little Trees. As I opened the packages containing Cotton Candy and Black Forest aromas, the whole house was overtaken by the manufactured mashup of sweet and scary. After a quick photo shoot, the Little Trees, which had been acquired as a giveaway at a Lucha Libre match, were put in exile on the back patio.

I’ve never mastered Pinterest pinning or any of the picture perfect projects staring me down from my computer screen. But now, I had a contribution to make to the crafting community. A search of Swisher Sweets yielded modge-podged tabletops, an origami creation, and two Christmas wreaths. Underneath the photo of one wreath, hung on a front door, the cigarillo artisan added, “Life goals not gonna lie. Let’s make my family uneasy.” Welcome to the field of Stoner DIY. I think the Easter Bunny might need a new basket……

 

 

 

 

 

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Houston, Inspiration

So this is Christmas…

 

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Resting Bitch Face 1988

You know you’ve hit rock bottom at Christmas when you’re sitting in traffic envisioning yourself in a full body cast in a private room at the hospital and that sounds like a spa day. All of the sudden, visions of a private room, a remote control, and morphine on demand dances in your head.

You know you’ve hit rock bottom at Christmas when you find yourself in the parking lot of a Tuesday Morning contemplating the name of a Smiths cover band called Tuesday Mourning while wondering why you waited this long to buy the perfect gift for your parents. The two people responsible for putting you on this planet and you plan on rewarding them with a picture frame and a scented candle.

But then your spirits are lifted. You overhear the couple standing in line behind you, armchair quarterbacking the holiday family function they just left. “Why didn’t you say anything”? “I was waiting for you to say something.” As you patiently wait with your shopping basket filled with last-minute offerings layered with guilt, you console yourself with the scene from Female Trouble where Dawn Davenport takes down the Christmas tree because Santa opted for a pair of sensible shoes in lieu of the cha cha heels she requested.

And all was right with the world.

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Houston

Ready for Confetti

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The best views of the Houston Astros World Series Championship Parade belong to the children perched on the shoulders of their parents. The children act as lookouts, alerting onlookers to the envoys of mounted police officers, mascots, and cheerleaders signaling the start of the procession. They also serve as amateur filmmakers with cell phones held high as their parents direct them to record the celebratory occasion none of us can see. My personal view, 20 deep in the crowd, is the sunburned neck and bald head of a solidly built man who has tattooed these respective areas with Houston’s original area code, 713, and the Houston hand sign. Behind us, the SWAT team has turned their armored truck into a step and repeat backdrop for fans seeking first responder selfies.

And then the sky opens up with a steady stream of orange, white, and blue. The confetti cascade sticks to our sweaty foreheads and forearms. Children chase after the commemorative tissue strips that magically appear like bubbles from a wand. With the crowd cheering on the hometown heroes beyond our field of vision, we grab hold of a souvenir to remind us that we were here. #EarnedIt

 

 

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Film

Famous Last Words

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“They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” Johnny, the jerky brother taunting his sister in the cemetery where he will eventually join the undead.

I first watched Night of the Living Dead on a big screen TV at my aunt’s house on Long Island. Summers there were spent watching slasher movies rented by my aunt at the urging of my older brother who fancied himself a fan of the genre and even an amateur filmmaker whose contribution was footage of me lying in a pool of blood, poured from a jar of La Choy sweet and sour sauce. I was a reluctant viewer who watched the movie with my hands held over my eyes like blinders, peeking out of the corner of my eyes when I thought it was safe, only to quickly divert my gaze from the stampede of zombies feasting on human flesh.

Things haven’t changed much. I recently saw the movie last Halloween for an outdoor screening but despite my advanced age, I still watched with the same wary eyes from my youth. And despite the movie’s age, which was released in 1968, the film retains all the unease borne from the realization that family ties won’t save you from a zombie’s hunger pains nor would perseverance in the presence of armed townies anxious to exterminate the undead uprising.

And last night I learned the news that George Romero, Night of the Living Dead’s brainchild and director, had died. A few hours before, I was watching this summer’s action-packed blockbuster du jour loaded to the hilt with car chases and cool catch phrases which now stood in stark contrast to the grainy, black and white film that creepily made its way into the mainstream with zombie fun runs and pre-packaged costumes for kids. A low-budget legacy that will undoubtedly, like the zombies, outlast us all. RIP George Romero.

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Music

Classic Rock

A steady stream of music fans moved towards the Toyota Center in downtown Houston where Roger Waters would take the stage for his US+Them tour accompanied by Lucius, a two-woman team lending vocal muscle and might to Pink Floyd fan favorites and Roger’s uncompromising anthems asking the audience: “Is this the life we really want?” T-shirts sported by concertgoers provided a timeline of tours from Dark Side of the Moon to those purchased fresh from the merch table. Generations represented by groups of families, couples, and friends gathering for music they grew up with or, as in my case, music that grew on me. Music equally at home in a planetarium’s laser light show, a backyard bbq, the confines of a teenager’s bedroom, or a protest march.

Music simultaneously rooted in the past but uncannily present. The evening’s set list of Pink Floyd titles on point more than ever: Welcome to the Machine, Money, Bring the Boys Back Home, and of course, Another Brick in the Wall with Part II featuring a lineup of young boys and girls singing the chorus while wearing the unmistakable orange of inmate apparel that they shed to reveal t-shirts emblazoned with the present-day battle cry: RESIST.

Music steeped in shapeshifting where a farmyard pig floats above the audience’s head with a bank for a belly. A dog, man’s best friend, turned against him as a tool of torture and intimidation. A president transformed into a diapered, belligerent baby no one wants to hold.

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The Piggy Bank of War taking a victory lap.

Music paired with mammoth-sized video screens streaming scenes of collateral damage later making the drowsy, dreaminess of Comfortably Numb less of a song and more of a statement on our own complicity. But shock turned to awe as the Battersea Power Station smokestacks separating the audience gave way and a mirrored orb shiny as a disco ball floated overhead while Dark Side‘s signature triangle sprung up like a lightning bolt with confetti showering the crowd that now was a community. Wish I was still there.

 

 

 

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Film, Inspiration, Women

A Letter to Wonder Woman

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Dear Wonder Woman,

I hail from the Lynda Carter era. Although the crime fighting prowess of Charlie’s Angels was more my style, I was captivated by your cuffs and crown, not to mention your makeover moves. As a little girl, I couldn’t imagine a greater superpower than spinning myself into a whole new look. But big screen debuts of beloved characters, whether from tv or comic books, are often fraught with apprehension for fans. I resisted at first – unwilling to accept that your attire was now more gladiator than glam. But the sisterhood persisted with talk of your Margaret Sanger, suffragette-inspired roots and coverage of female-only screenings with attendees sporting Handmaid’s Tale womenswear.  I now wanted to be wowed and filled with wonder with a woman at the helm of the male-dominated, summer blockbuster multiplex scene. So imagine my disappointment when you were dispatched to save humankind from ……….. the Nazis. I thought Indiana Jones finished them off in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Earth to Diana: Papa’s got a brand new nerve gas and it looks like you still got the wrong guy.  Suggesting I wait for a sequel or for your pals at the Justice League to join forces just won’t do. Women in the United States scored the right to vote in 1920. 2016 marked the first time in our history when a woman became the first presidential nominee of a major political party. That’s almost 100 years later. And instead, we got a pussy grabber for President. We don’t have time for another flashback when your high-powered accessories could be put to better use right now.

I realize this is more of a demand letter than a fan letter. But I am hopeful when you shed the coiffed, curator disguise and trade in the stiletto-heeled boots for your sensible superhero footwear, your flight path will take you to the battle you deserve to fight.

Stay woke,

First Set Girl

 

 

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Inspiration

A Note of Appreciation

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Thanks for the blue eyes and Willie Nelson’s Blue Skies.

Thanks for making an early riser out of me so I never miss a sunrise or a flight.

Thanks for letting me listen to whatever I wanted on the radio without complaint or commentary. Even during awkward moments like Madonna’s Like a Virgin and my endurance-testing mixtapes featuring Malcolm McLaren’s six-minute Puccini reboot of Madame Butterfly. I thought you liked opera. You paid me back with Roger Whittaker, Glenn Miller, and Marty Robbins. Thank you for chaperoning me and my friends to see Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 show at the Summit and subsequently deciding I no longer needed adult supervision at concerts. Thank you for taking me to see the Rockets play at the Summit when they had The Dream.

Thanks for taking me and my brother to see films because they were good, regardless of rating: The Blues Brothers, The Great Santini, All That Jazz. Although Grizzly, a 1976 film about a bear on a murderous rampage explains why I have an aversion to camping.

Thanks for taking me and my brother to dim sum on Sundays and letting us order the chicken feet every single time just so we could play with them.

Thanks for buying the entire bag of caramel-pecan cluster turtles I was supposed sell for a school fundraiser but ate instead. In one sitting.

Thanks for still making sure I always have a full tank of gas. Please note, I no longer buy groceries, including beer, on my Chevron card.

Thanks for loving our bulldog, Carlyle, like a grand dog, and my husband like family. That is not necessarily in order of importance. But thanks for also being cool when Jason got arrested in front of you for selling Saints tickets to an undercover cop.

Thanks for acting as my personal weatherman, traffic reporter, and in the age of professional influencers, you are the only one who matters.

With gratitude. #IAmMyFathersDaughter

 

 

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