Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Shiners and Biscuits and Hat Tricks, Oh My!

There's a commercial that has been running on the sports channels lately:

I think it's hilarious and not only because I love hockey and know only too well how fans can be. Of course I'm talking about those fans who paint blue and yellow logos on their faces and declare that they're part of the "Tootoo Train". Me? I'm more reasonable and even managed to temper my sarcasm and knee-jerk maternal instincts a tad when some idiot in Brentioch wrote a nasty letter to the Scene suggesting that one of the Predators was only good enough to be his gardener. But I digress.

There's the commercial and it's funny and all but it also speaks to any of us who grew up in households where everyone worshiped at the altar of a particular club except for one poor oddball who just wasn't feeling the love. In most houses, children may feel that they have to compete with siblings or a stepparent or a job or hobby for parental attention. I have a brother and while there were the usual rivalries, we had a common enemy who siphoned away our parents' devotion:

That's right. The Dallas Freaking Cowboys were like the good looking, accomplished kids that my parents loved better than us. Some people saw Roger Staubach and Tom Landry as sports demigods, but I saw them as ringleaders of the group responsible for many shushings and being shunted off to a corner to draw snotty cartoons of "America's Team".

While my poor brother assimilated, I became a devotee of the Madden era Raiders and indulged in my love of that exotic sport from the far north, hockey. Expressing this usually makes at least one person sputter about the Raiders being "dirty" and "meeeeean". When they do that, I usually smile beatifcally while I'm thinking, "Aw shaddup!" Still, the fact that the commercial exists proves that this dynamic wasn't particular to my family. In fact, an NFL Season Pass ad from last year shows that no one is immune.

So, the next time you see one sullen child wired for sound in the back of an SUV while everyone else on board is screaming "Go Titans!", have some sympathy and realize that they are the future of the NHL.

copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Am A Dork.

Someone pointed out in the kindest way imaginable that if I was trying to do a play on the old Bob Dylan sing, I really should have used "Subterranean Pancreatic Blues. So I did. You can find it here and that's where I'll be doing my DM blogging from now on.

The URL for those of you with link wonkiness in your browser is:


I am also a dork because I still owe email and Facebook responses. I am really sorry and will make another running start at getting back to everyone over the shank end of this week.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What? Another Blog?

Yes. I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. I want to write about it. Heck, I even want to find the humor in the situation, but I don't want it to take over this blog, so I've created another one. You can follow the link below:

Subterranean Pancreas Blues

or you can click on my profile and at the bottom you'll find a linked list of my blogs.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Boobies! Boobies! Boobies! Boobies!

Did you see what Dustin Penner did earlier tonight? Holy cats! Just...wow! That was a thing of beauty. Okay, I'll settle down now.

So. Boobies. Okay. Let's get back to task here.

Earlier this week, I had to get a 2D echocardiogram. I asked a number of people what it was like and Stanley, Terry, Kevin, Howard and Dave all said some variation of "It's nothing. They smear some goo on your chest and then run a wand over it." I have two words for all of them: "Ouch!" and "Ouch!" One for each breast. But you know? This oversight might not be completely their fault. Let's take a look at that list again, shall we? Stanley, Terry, Kevin, Howard and Dave... What do all of these people have in common other than knowing me? None of them have boobs. None of them. Have. Boobs. Okay, maybe a couple of them have moobs (man boobs) but none of them have what Fergie once called "lovely lady lumps".

If any of those guys had boobs they certainly would have been sympathetic to my not being happy about my tech seeming to feel that my boobs' tendency to get in her way somehow behooved her to try to push them around to my shoulder blades. She also tried to push the little marital aid-looking thing up under my sternum. People just don't bend that way! Okay maybe other people bend that way and I'm a freak. I don't know, but it hurt. Seriously, I was very sore for three days.

To her credit, the tech did attempt to keep me engaged. At one point while she was trying to grind my ribcage into powder, she pointed to the screen and said, "Look! There's your heart!" On the screen was a murky, twitching thing that made a "shploosh-shoo" noise. I smiled and said "hmmm". In my head I was screaming, "No! Ack! Getitout! Getitout! Getitout!" Now, here's the thing, there was no reason for me to be so squicked out by my own heart. I know it's there. I've got a degree in anthropology. In order to get this degree, I had to take A&P, handle human remains and observe an autopsy. I managed to do all of these things without a problem. However, none of them entailed seeing my own internal organs at work. When I saw my heart, it was all I could do not to beg the tech to see if Sigourney Weaver was in the lobby and if she would come hold my hand in case that thing tried to burst out of my chest.

As of this writing, I'm still waiting for the results. This might be a good thing. I am also being very nice to my boobs by giving them an exam. For those of you who haven't gotten the word yet, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can get more information here. You owe it to yourself and the people who love you to take five minutes this month (an every other month) to make sure your boobies are okay!


copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sometimes the Only Way to the Other Side of Something Is Through It

Hi. I'm okay. Thanks for asking. That may scan as me being more flip than I intend to be and I apologize for that. Please take it for the plain statement that it is.

So what happened? The short version is that I've had some health scares over the past few weeks and have been on meds that didn't play well with each other. Before I could get a handle on what was happening to me, I got very sick. It's a shock to me, too. Twelve years of working with people who are usually on meds of some sort and learning about them by both design and osmosis should have given me enough insight to know that bad interactions can slam you even when there isn't a psychotropic or inhibitor in sight.

It's one thing to know on an intellectual level how much your physical health can influence your state of mind. It's another entirely to see it work and accept it on a more primitive, experiential level. Knowing the effect the meds had on me together and then working out by process of elimination which one was knocking me flat was pretty amazing. BTW, it was my BP pill. Taken by itself, it caused me to get dizzy, foggy, anxious and eventually throw up everything but my shoes. Buh-bye big horse pill.

I should have known better. After all, I calm people in distress and fix bad health care situations for a living. Why didn't I see this? If it's any help, I have been missing the big picture for years. I didn't see (or maybe didn't want to see) that neglecting my emotional and physical health was taking a toll and probably lost sight of that at least two years ago. Things that would have never bothered me that much, things that I could have been zen about, things that I would have laughed off after finally getting some perspective and emotional maturity were suddenly the very triggers that seemed to get me down and keep me down. I know my friends and family noticed this. Somehow I missed it, or ignored it. Whichever it was, I was too busy to care.

What is scary is how easy it is to get accustomed to not being well. I didn't realize just how much I had manifested that in my life until I decided to get in shape to play hockey and found out that I was not only out of shape but scarily unhealthy. That was the first time in a long time I had paid any attention to my body and found out I had been depriving myself of everything that was good for me for a long time. My biggest fear is that I have let myself get as sick as my father did before he died. I love him and miss him but he was never willing to do what it took to stay healthy. It seems like over the past few months I've thought back to the decisions he made and then ran as hard as I could in the opposite direction. I hope it's enough and yet fear it won't be. There's so much that I still want to do and want to be able to do it before I'm too old.

So. I have a lot to think about. I have a lot to do. Most important of all right now, I need to say thank you for caring. If you wrote me, I will answer you. Please be patient and don't think your letter was deleted. And I'm sorry to have caused anyone to worry. Everyone has their own set of things to deal with and adding to those lists is not something I want to do. Hey, I'm a fixer, not a fixee.

As we used to say at the end of every Latin class:
valeo valui valiturus

Jas Faulkner

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mail Bag Time! -or- Jas Gets All FAQed Up

This morning I got an email from someone who wanted to know if the furry guy in my blogger hater entry is Kevin and if he is single.

Dear R. from Birmingham,
Yes, that is Kevin and yes he is single. Since I guess I am his de facto winggirl at this point, I will try to ask the right questions.
Do you love White Castle?
Do you love dogs?
Do you love Keanu?
Do you look like Keanu?
If so, please send a picture of you hugging a golden retriever with one arm while waving a WC Crave Case with your free hand and I will forward it to Kevin.

Best Regards,
Kevin's Winggirl

Maybe it's time to open up that folder where I keep placing all of those letters I get and mean to answer.

Janice T. from Chattanooga, Bob Q. from Levittown, Justin D. from Waco and Ali G. from Oklahoma City all want to know if the people I write about are real and if so, how they feel about being in the blog.

To a degree, yes and they are okay with it. The people and events you read about here are often conflated with other people and events in the interest of protecting the identities of the guilty.

This blog was originally intended to be a small, private affair for a circle of friends in Nashville, Memphis and Bowling Green whose number was reduced by two when a couple of people got offers they couldn't refuse in Virginia and Alabama. It was supposed to be a team effort with everyone posting stuff to keep everyone else up to date. What happened? Okay, how should I put this? You know how Sam Levinson used to say that the best kid for the front of the line in Follow The Leader was always the one with the least amount of common sense? Well, my little circle decided the best person to chronicle our lives was a terminally awkward, dyslexic sociophobe. (Waves hi!)

When I put a counter on here and realized that the readership was more people than the our little group plus my mom, I had a talk with everyone. Instead of being appalled, most of my friends turned out to be big ole hams. In fact, I have been informed (by Jeffrey via Alice) that if certain people (Jeffrey) don't get their own cartoon, certain people (Jeffrey) will be miffed.

Tabitha M. from Oak Grove wants to know where all of the old stuff has gone. She also wanted to send someone a link to my piece about being dyslexic.

Hi Tabitha!
A lot of the old posts were not really my best efforts. I have archived the best of the worst elsewhere, including "Fooked in Kofsnif Rowked Fer Mi!" and have sent you a copy of that example of the art of the personal essay. Have fnu!

You would think that the bulk of the email this blog generates would be directed at me. No. An eleven-year-old, 80 lb sheepdog/bearded collie mix gets more email related to this blog than I do. Here are a few examples:

Dear O'Neill,
You sir, are an all right doggie! If you're ever in Austin, drop me a line! I'd love to take you out for a Shiner Bock.
Maggie (the Pig)
PS. I am a beautiful, full-sized Hampshire girl, not one of those nasty little pot-bellied freaks.

He must be very big in Austin because that same week he received a letter from another critter in that city:

Dear O'Neill,
I wanted to commend you on having the courage to be true to yourself and not herd sheep. You are who you are regardless of what body you're born with. My people seem to think that just because I'm a male longhorn, I want to chase heifers, eat feed and poop all day. Personally, I would prefer a bowl fresh dandelion greens and a good movie, preferably something Australian. Drop by some time and I'll treat you to a platter of my best nachos. I do veggie and chicken. Don't feel bad about the chickens. They're evil bitches who would eat you in a tortilla if they could.
Best Wishes,
Austin, Texas

And then there was this guy.

You big, fuzzy retard! If you ever come into my pen, I will kick your ass.
a lamb
a very angry lamb

Well now. I guess I'd be angry if someone named me Twinkles.

Twinkles did write to wish O'Dawg a happy and safe Labor Day, so he must be a little less angry now.

So. Write me. You never know. I might bring O'Neill to your house to herd your sheep. Or not.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yo Blogger Haters!

I needed to do some cartooning and exposure to the latest round of "Bloggers are lame!" verbage from people who should know better inspired this piece. Yes, it's rough, hastily scribbled and may have typos. And No, I don't hate anyone I lampooned here, they're just the people whose remarks caught my attention.

Note: Yes there is a lot of text and it's TINY! To see a larger version of the page, click on the link below the picture and then click the cursor one time when it turns into a magnifying glass. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Click here to see a larger image.


Click here to see a larger image.

copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Go Bananas!

I've been busy working on a comic, partially as a response to all of the anti-blogger stuff I've seen in the mainstream media and partially because cartooning is such a great walk-up to painting. I was getting out my fine-line markers because I was feeling too lazy to get my drafting pens dirty and saw something that I'd almost forgotten I had:

I keep this in every black drawing pen can I've had over the years. For those of you who are too young to recognize this item, it's a Bic Banana. My parents got it for me sometime late in 1972 at a McDonalds in Bossier City, LA. Maybe all of those years of filching Daddy's art supplies were starting to take their toll, because it was around that time that my parents enrolled me in classes at the Barnwell and (finally!) started buying me my own paper and supplies. Grumbacher, Prang, Strathmore and Winsor & Newton meant far more to me than Barbie and Skipper ever did. This doesn't mean that I was immune to pressure from Madison Avenue.

Even though they weren't available at the local Weingartens yet, the ads promised colors I'd never seen in school markers: teal and magenta and light brown and hot pink! McDonald's was offering a free Bic Banana with the purchase of whatever oil-based product with banana flavoring they were passing off as a shake that month. My poor Dad bought the "shake" and probably split it with the poodle while I skipped happily off with my precioussssss Bic Banana to luxuriate in fine, dark lines of ink that didn't involve pens with nibs and Mom wishing to sweet Jesus that I liked my Suzy Homemaker cleanup set as much as I loved making a mess.

For what it's worth, it still writes.

And...Mom was nice enough to buy me many, many sets of Bic Bananas over the years. She also bought me Dip Dots and Shrinky Dinks, so I guess she gave up on me being like her sweetly Virgoan Southenr Belle self came to understand my strange ways.

copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dork Like Me, Dork Like My Dog

My right hip was screaming. No, I wasn't in pain. I was not hallucinating. The headset to my cell phone had come unplugged while I was at the store. The last thirty? forty? minutes had been devoted to a very animated conversation with Livy while wondering why she had suddenly gotten so faint.

When I got to the car, my right hip demanded in angry, tinny tones that I plug myself BACK! IN!. Then it called me a doink. That was when I realized that I had been engrossed in shopping, muttering and gossiping to Livy while people were probably seeing my headset swinging free of my phone and thinking I was a loon. Well, then. At least I possibly kept a few people entertained for the morning.

Actually, Fate's little gift of dorkdom doesn't stop there. Kevin is still smarting from his last adventure with O'Neill (aka TardDawg, O-Dawg, Snoot, The Tard and a host of other names.) I'll tell him about this and we'll have a laugh and he'll feel better about what happened last week.

You see, he was watching O'Neill chase a squirrel in my backyard and decided that what Boy was really trying to do was herd the thing. O'Neill is an Old English Sheep dog/Bearded Collie mix, so there is a good reason for Kevin to think he might be a frustrated herder. However, he 1.)is eleven years old 2.)is a big, fuzzy couch potato except when it's playtime and 3.) has never laid eyes on anything remotely resembling livestock except for the pig that tried to attack him in the vet's office.

Kevin arranged for a mutual friend with an enclosed pen and a flock of sheep to allow O-Dawg to work out his genetic destiny. I took him into the pen and unclipped his leash. He looked at me, looked at the sheep and then walked over to the gate and barked to be let back into the car.

Kevin took him by the collar and walked him into the flock. The look on his face clearly indicated he thought he'd been thrown into a milling crowd of walking smelly sweaters. When a ewe stepped up and baaaed inches from his face, he'd had enough and started weaving back towards me. Halfway through the flock, he caught the attention of a tiny lamb who trailed behind him, baaing loudly and trying to grab his tail. Poor Boy looked panicked, shoved through the rest of the herd and ran behind me, looking around my legs at the lamb, who was roughly the size of cocker spaniel.

The lamb looked at both of us, gave a long, squeaky, tongue-shaking baaa as if to say, "Screw yas!" and then did a flippy-tailed scamper back to his mommy.

"He's had enough." I said to Kevin.

The people who owned the sheep agreed.

We headed back to Nashville and I dropped Kevin off at his house. His neighbors, who are professional dogsitters/walkers, happened by with their dog, Sheba. While they cooed and scratched O'Neill, we told them about his big adventure with the sheep.

Ellen and Amanda looked at Sheba, who happens to be a Dalmation mix and looked back at Kevin.

"Dude?" said Ellen, "You know you're not getting our baby anywhere near a firehouse, so don't even ask."

"Oh, ha ha. Very funny. You are all very funny women." He leaned over and scritched O'Neill's neck. "I'll check on you tomorrow just to be sure all the estrogen hasn't gotten to you, boy."

Hey, Kevster?" I said in my fakey deep O'Neill voice. "It's too late. They took me to the vet when I was six months old and ever since then, all the other dogs giggle whenever I walk away. I think I know why."

Of course the girls laughed, which was okay with me because I am a big slut for a cheap laugh. I went home to find a a request for reparations in the form of snickerdoodles for being such an estro-despot in my voice mail. O'Neill seemed to have forgotten about the sheep. He hopped on the couch while I found one of his two favorite shows (Sesame Street or anything on C-SPAN) and settled down with a Harmony Farms Health Bar and a massage from me.


We're here!
We're dorks!


We're dorks.

copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Inspire Me Thursday (7/10/08) : Healing

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acrylic on canvas 10.75 x 13.75

This is my latest response to (yet) another artist challenge site called Inspire Me Thursday. The word posted last week was "healing."

Interesting piece of synchronicity there. I have been having some respiratory issues and talking is a bit problematic. The outlets for writing are there, of course, but not being able to talk cuts me off from a relatively small part of the way I communicate. I have also been letting the unkindness of a few nasty people get the best of me. Even when I'm feeling good, being angry leaves me sick and drained. Better to channel that emotional energy into outrage and action, which means stepping back and seeing if what has me discomfited warrants that.

So. Nonverbal me has been painting lately and these challenge sites are a great way to get kickstarted so I'm putting paint to canvas. To be honest, the cartoony quality of this painting and the one I posted last week come as a bit of a surprise. Maybe it's because the emotions I experience when I'm painting them are so basic.

copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Illustration Friday (7/5/08): Sour


acrylic on canvas 10.75 x 13.75

Meet Jacques Limon. He's my entry into the latest edition of Illustration Friday. The idea behind Illustration Friday (or "Illofry" as it used tobe called back in the day)is to get creative without having to worry about being perfect. The powers that be throw out a word or a phrase every Friday and you have the rest of the week to illustrate it. Some people post scribbles in a lined notebook, others, paint, collage, draw or get creative with their software. The result is always fascinating and fun to see. Give it a try!

Now, about Jacques... When I saw the word of the week was "sour", the first thing I thought of was lemons. Thing is, I couldn't be completely sour about painting them. I love lemons. They're pretty, they smell good and they're almost always in my kitchen to make stuff taste better. What else is sour? Curmudgeons? I like them, too. They're not always pretty, but there is deep down an element of sweetness. To me, a curmudgeon is an idealist who has gotten a good look at humanity and thinks we all could and should be smarter. I suspect that most if not all curmudgeons keep some hope that we will get smarter. Why else would they bother?
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copyright 2008 jas faulkner

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wild(ly Flung) Strawberries

Yesterday Alice and I spent the morning hiding out from Alice's cousin, MarshaMarshaMarsha. She was in town with her son, Ichabod, who was competing in a dominoes competition and wanted us to come watch. Yes, you read that right, MarshaMarshaMarsha expected her grown cousin to sit in a ballroom that did not have air conditioning and watch her kid play...dominoes.

"This is the same cousin who claimed her kid read "Moby Dick" at the ripe old age of eight?"

"Yep!" Alice shook her head and folded yet another Official Licensed Disney Tee.


Alice plopped the stack of shirts into her basket, "That's her."

"Of course you told her no."

"No, I didn't."


"It doesn't do any good. She's incapable of taking no for an answer. She's the Borg."

"The Borg?" I asked.

"Never mind. Just know that you have officially lost about fifty geek points. Anyway, I figure if we lay low for the first half of the day, they'll breeze by us and we can get on with our lives."

"That's ridiculous!" I snapped. "Tell me you don't think that's just nuts."

"Look, I'm kind of pissed about the whole thing, but what can you do?"

"Nothing, I guess. Family is family. I'm sorry. I have no room to talk because I have cousins who I avoid at all costs because they're okay for about five minutes and then they start shooting poison from their tear ducts."

She nodded and then we sat in silence as Jamie Oliver nattered on the tube about rice pudding and strawberries.

She folded a little Tow Mater tee and watched the screen. "You know, if we're going to be bunkered in, we might as well enjoy it. Let's go pick some strawberries before the kids get up. Jeffrey said it was about time for another batch."

"That's the spirit!" I hopped up. "Siege mentality be damned!"

We grabbed some Suckerware from the kitchen and headed out back. I was happy for the sunshine. Alice was still very quiet, which was unusual for her.

"Are you mad at me?" I asked.

"Aw sweetie. No. I'm mad at MarshaMarshaMarsha and I'm mad at myself. Would you mind turning on the hose? I'm a grown woman and I still let myself get talked into these corners. There's no sense in it."

I walked over and turned on the hose. Alice had her back to me and the front gate. She was still talking, getting a little madder and a little louder as she talked.

"And you know?" she said. "This is the way it's been for years. Damn! Some of these berries are overripe. I should have come out here sooner. Where was I? Jas, I can't believe I've let this go on for so long. MarshaMarshaMarsha is an overbearing, madly in love with herself twit!"

Alice picked up a large, gooey berry and lobbed it at one of the trees.

"She's noxious. She bullies everybody and I! Am! Sick of it!" She turned and rifled a berry at her son's archery target.

It was about then that I heard someone a few feet behind me and to my right softly say, "Excuse me?". But for some reason, seeing Alice lose her composure was riveting and I didn't register that someone else had joined us.

"And... And... Jas? I am so DAMNED tired of that odious, surly, rude little goblin child of hers. She needs to put him back under the bridge where she found him!"

At that point, she turned and flung a huge, nearly gellied berry, presumably at the wooden front gate. Aaaand... She nailed Ichabod squarely in the chest with it a half second before I turned, yelped and soaked Ichabod and MarshaMarshaMarsha with the hose.

We stood in stunned silence for a moment as Jeffery walked out on the patio, scratched his tuchis through his boxers and asked us what in the Holy Name of Jerry Rice we were doing making this much noise at this ungodly hour.

"You're naked!" MarshaMarshaMarsha screamed at Jeffery.

"Marsh, you really need to consider wearing a bra." I said.

She gave us all what I figure was her best attempt at a death glare, whirled Ichabod around by his birdy, underfed shoulders and strode to the gate. She turned and pointed at Alice, "I'm! Telling! GRANDMA!" she huffed at her and then went out, slamming the gate after her and her little changling.

We stood there for a moment, stunned. Then Alice poked a hole in a bigger berry, stuck it on her nose and danced around, singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!"

"You're both nuts," muttered Jeffrey. "I'm making everyone French Toast. No one come into the kitchen while the grownup is busy."

So we didn't.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Like Licking A %*&#! Ashtray...

"Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?"

I had been stymied -yet again- by some random inanimate object that had decided to hate me and in my frustration muttered "Sonofabitch!" to myself. The gentleman who overheard me was looking very stern and sad to be so young. I tried to make the situation better.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. You know? When it comes to people I have all the patience in the world, but get me around the simplest mechanical thing and I go bugfuh- never mind."

Never mind indeed. This is actually sadly ironic because I was as much a late bloomer to swearing as I have been to everything else in my life. My first exposure to the F-word didn't happen until I was in the fourth grade and then it didn't take. A classmate had been beaten pretty soundly by one of the deaf students. (There was a mini-school for the deaf situated right next to the grade 4 classrooms.) The principal went around to every class and lectured us about teasing the deaf kids. She ended her talk by telling us to never make the following sign to them and made a circle with her right thumb and index finger and then pushed the left finger in and out of the circle rapidly.

"What does that mean?" someone asked.

"Uh. It means...chase me. So don't do it!" The principal was ushered out by my teacher, who gave her a few comforting pats on the arm before closing the door.

"'Chase me!' will get you beaten up?" I asked.

Someone threw a paper airplane at me and told me to shut up, so I spent the rest of the school year and part of the next thinking that particular hand gesture meant "Chase me!" I was finally disabused of this misunderstanding by my mother after I got cocky during a church league softball game and used the gesture while taking a leisurely lope between second and third base.

I had finally gotten the hang of stand-alone obscenity when I was thrown yet another curveball at the tender age of thirteen. We, meaning my family, had taken a road trip through West Texas. For some reason the odd town names amused my dad and he loved being able to say he'd been to Happy, Muleshoe, Whiteface and so on. We were taking a break in Earth, Texas. I walked down the street to get a picure of the "Shop Scenic Earth!" sign and noticed a handpainted placard taped to the front window of an old variety-type store. It said:

Come on in!
We're the friendliest store in Earth!

Underneath that someone had taken a marker and written:

My ass!

What? His ass is the friendliest store in Earth, Texas? He has a friendly ass? His ass is friendlier than their ass? For the life of me I couldn't parse it out and was a little afraid of asking my parents what it meant. I finally figured that one out a month later when I asked my new best friend, Terri, who had three older brothers, chewed tobacco and swore like an Aggie cadet.

Later that year my father allowed me to watch Monty Python's Flying Circus. So you'd think... No.

My sheer cussed ignorance of the linguistic red light district came into play again when I was in high school band. Our director was an officious man who did his own version of parade dress and inspection before every football game. He had a son who was studying music education at Middle Tennessee State and he allowed him to "practice" on certain less loved sections of the band. One particularly bad night after the guys in percussion had spent the afternoon being roundly spanked by the director, he decided to send Little Officious over to inspect us. A mere breath after Little Officious demanded that we stand at attention, someone, probably one of the bass drum guys, called him a dildo.

Now, I thought I'd heard this word before but I wan't sure. There was much snickering as Little Officious turned beet red and walked away very quickly. The whole thing had me confused. Why would someone get so upset over being called a Hobbit? Maybe it was time to check out Tolkien.

Dr. Officious stalked over to the drum line. He was so mad he was trembling.

"Does someone want to tell me what happened here?"

Everyone looked straight ahead, not breathing, hoping to become invisible. Everyone, that is, except for me. I had no clue what had happened. I wasn't getting what the big deal was.

"Jas!" Dr. Officious barked, "What happened here?"

"Well," I said, trying to play by the rules when I wasn't sure of the game, "Little Officious was doing parade inspection."


"And..." I looked straight at Dr. Officious and said, "Someone called him a dildo."

There was a collective gasp from the rest of the drum line. I had no idea, none, what I had just said.

"A what?" Dr Officious said, nearly choking.

"A dildo, sir. Someone called Little Officious a dildo."

Dr. Officious squinted at me, pulled at his face, walked a few paces a away, came back and squinted at me some more while I looked back at him, gormless and confused. He sighed deeply, started to walk away again and whirled around, pointed to my section mates and snarled, "DON'T!" before stalking off to make the color guard cry.

Some time during my sophomore year of college, a classmate had a catalogue in her smut collection and I made the connection. So there you go. Some people go to college to complete their training and preparation for professional life. Me? I rounded out my vocabulary of inappropriate words and have been happily swearing ever since.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gone (My Own Special Kind of Crazy)

Some people respond to stress by exercising or escaping into a favorite book or movie. Me? I have two ways of dealing with stress. Sometimes I'll get out my girlie fiberglass recurve bow and shoot an end or two. An end can mean a set number of arrows (usually six) shot in a round to determine the winner in a scored event. For me it means everything in my quiver. So anyway, I'm sitting here feeling very stupid and at the same time stupidly proud of the fact that I have peeled about an inch of skin -off of the side of my left index finger because I neglected to wear my shooting glove this morning. Go me.

The other thing is considerably less voluntary. When the going gets tough, I get weird and end up having lunch with my father. Why is this weird? Dad died in 1995. I could go into an explanation about how its part of my heritage or how this is actually a function of wishful thinking or that it's some kind of cerebral dump. Does it matter? Not really. The fact is, when I am emotionally and/or physically stressed out, the next time I go to sleep I find myself sitting at a table having hot and sour soup and crab rangoon with Dad. It feels very real and I'm not just talking about the soup or the table or the Brubeck that's usually playing in the background.

You know how you feel when you talk to someone you love? Maybe you haven't seen them for a long time and then when you talk to them again there's no weirdness or ramping up. You're right back to where you were the last time you saw each other. And, oh hell, I already sound crazy so I'm going to jump in with both feet. If they're dear to you, it seems like there's something intangible that they leave on you and maybe you leave on them that stays with you and makes you feel you're loved by them. I always feel like I did when I was little and would watch Dad draw or paint. He had huge hands and sometimes he'd stop what he was doing put a thumbprint in charcoal or ink right in the middle of my palm. It was just something we did when I was five and now I feel like I have a thumbprint when I wake up from one of those dreams.

So. Last Friday was just weird. I had almost scared myself out of being a playwright and was considering seeing if I could reactivate my admission to law school "so I could actually do some good for goodness sake!" By five o'clock that evening, I'd mentally finished my JD and was preparing to enroll in the Agricultural Law Double L program at UALR so I could save farms from Monsanto. I went to sleep that night hoping for something deep, dark and seamless. Ah, no.

"What are you doing?" Dad was shaking his head and adding sliced green onions to his soup.

He offered me a bowl and I shook my head.

"You need tea more than soup anyway." He poured me a cup of from the teapot and then settled back in his chair and looked at me.

"I don't care how good your LSAT scores were or how thrilled anybody back home is going to be, you know you don't want to be a lawyer. So I'm asking again, what are you doing?"

"I don't even know how to answer that," I said. "I just don't. But I know I need to do something."

"Sister, you are doing something."

"I feel so stuck. I've completely stalled out. Dad, this is not how I pictured my life."

"Does anybody have the life they pictured? By the way, I've been talking to your husband..."

"Dad, I am not going to get married..."


"How are you...? I'm not married."

He shrugged and chuckled. "Same way I talk to you. Anyway, he thinks I'm Fidel Castro and I'm not going to correct him. Why are you looking like that?"

"Like what?"

"Horrified. It's me in his dream, sometimes I get a little hammy and put on fatigues and a hat and a cigar, but that's all. It's not like your Tia Marcella has turned into a dybbuk and hovers around pinching his ass."


"Incidentally, she says 'hi'. Punkin, life is too short to be unhappy. Go back to where it's safe and familiar and you'll find a niche but you'll always feel sad and diminished and less than you could have been. That would break my heart."


"Sleep on it and let me know how you feel. You'll know how."

Then it seemed like everything was covered in the heavy velvet curtain I had been hoping for and the next day I woke up feeling the thumbprint.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Friday, June 20, 2008


The images in this blog entry (and only this one, please!) are intended as a gift to anyone who would like to show their support for Barak Obama. You're welcome to download them for use on your website or you can do like some of my friends are doing, and print one of the designs on to an iron-on sheet and put it on a t-shirt or tote bag.

Money is a great way to show your support; but there's also a lot to be said for offering your best no matter what it is. This can be through images, using your voice, using your time...you know best where that gift is going to come from.

Having written that, please note that there is a coloring sheet/template as well! Yes, this is a not-so-subtle hint that it's time to get out your markers and crayons and paints and have some fun!

From scrabble obama

From scrabble obama

From paint obama

From obama template

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Rest of the Story

So we finally got settled in and I made some progress on the play and no progress on the ethnology project. Between you and me, I'm sick of the ethnology project. I can't really come to any conclusions beyond "Mah people? They usedta eat squirrels uhcause they hadta. Now they don't haveta, but for some reason, it's fun ta eat 'em, so they do." This is embarrassing. I usedta, excuse me, used to be able to create entire taxonomies of the minutia of human behavior. Now I'm blanking on modern squirrel consumption in the Southeastern US? I suck. I need to crawl into a hollowed out log and die before my anthro teachers, my friends and my former classmates figure out how far I've fallen.

Okay, dying in a hollowed out log might be an extreme alternative. But as an alternative to what? Writing out recipes for fried squirrel and dumplings? Finishing a play about the personal angst of federal appellate lawyers? The hollowed out log does offer the option of feeding what little wild fauna is left in Middle Tennessee and maybe creating some really good compost so that somewhere a hippie is spared the ignonomy of meth production by the discovery that my remains could fertilize some really great pot.

But I digress. Sorry about that. The last day of my stay at the monastery, Keefer and Stuart came up to visit me. Both of them are chefs, absolute suckers for a pretty kitchen garden and are unable to pass up a chance to talk shop or cook. We put off leaving so they could get together with some of the kitchen monks and figure out how to make a gratin from various greens. In the meantime, TardDawg and I were cooling our heels, walking and talking with friends, well, I was walking and talking with friends. Snoot was given the run of the place and had managed to eat his weight in home-baked crackers and chicken during our stay. (The monks had lost their two elderly German Shepherds within a couple of weeks of each other earlier this year so Snoot was getting a lot of doggie love. More digression. Sorry.)

So fast forward... We had eaten lunch, which unbeknownst to me contained chard, which I cannot eat without getting very sick. I was trying to get home to meet with a friend who is in Nashville for a conference. Snoot was pouting. I threw up and passed out. I woke up to find that someone (Keefer? Stuart? Brother Andrew? Brother Toby? TardDawg? Doc? Sleepy? Happy? Grumpy?) had carried me to my bed and taken off my shoes.

"We need to go," I mumbled as I struggled to sit up.

"Not so fast, Missy! I think - we think..."

"YOU think..." Stuart snapped and rolled his eyes.

"What do you think, Keefer?" I reached for my shoes. Keefer scooted them out of my reach with his foot. I made a grab for them, slipped them on my feet and lurched out of the front door of my cabin with Keefer and Stuart in tow.

"You really scared us. It might not be a bad idea to go to the hospital."

Stuart rolled his eyes again. "Mister Kay also might not know what the hell you're talking about, either."

"Gentlmen!" I hissed, "We are at a monastery. Exercise a little decorum, please."

They mumbled and looked chastened.

"I still think you should go to the doctor just to be safe," said Keefer.

"That's very sweet but I really want to get to Nashville by two so I can give Michelle a call and see if she wants me to take her for drinks or Neely's BBQ."

They looked at each other and then Stuart shook his head.

"Sweetie?" he said gently, "It's 3:42."

"Oh, shit!" I barked and then looked around to see two monks giving me a bemused look as they walked by.

The guys trundled me back to Nashville. I gave them both a kiss on the cheek and crawled into bed for the next two days. Snoot the TardDawg is fine, but he does miss his chicken and crackers. I can just tell from looking at him that he's enacting his version of the old Celebrity Cruise Line commercials: "I was a PRINCE. I was wined, dined, massaged...One day...One day..."

As for me, it's time to get to bed. One of two things will happen. I'll either dream about ragey squirrels piling up Erskine Caldwell paperbacks for a bonfire, or the dog will learn to pull open the freezer drawer and get his own darned chicken. I'll let you know which actually happens.

Bon soir!

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life is a Highway...

Somewhere, Loki the Calendar Trickster is laughing his bushy tail off. He's been preparing for this week for a while and I swear I didn't see it coming.

Where do I start? A very witty, very nice lady from an online community is coming to Nashville and wants to meet for drinks. Yay! She's coming this week. Boo!

A gaggle of older relatives want to see the magnificence that is Dollywood. The most available cousin has offered to take them. They hate her. They love me. They decided this week would be the perfect time to get their 'billy on. They let me know last week. DAMN it.

Back in April, Stuart and Keefer phoned me all breathy and giggly to tell me that one of the men whom I thought would cause me to stop breathing if he never loved me back is now a monk. In Kentucky. And he has read my blog and wants to get in touch. Do monks read blogs? Not being RC flavored, I'm still a little confused when I see nuns driving. (Yeah yeah yeah, too much Sister Bertrille, too little cultural literacy.) I did and he invited me up to spend some time in one of the monastery cabins to write and relax. I took him up on it and planned to spend some time feeling all holy and shit while I finish a play and get my squirrel-eater study ready to roll. Those plans were for- Wait for it!- this week.

Hold it. I'm not done.

Monday, Livy called to tell me she had a very sweet gig and wanted me to come along. She didn't fool me. It's June, so the sweet gig can't be Beale Street. It's Bonnaroo, which I have managed to avoid lo these many years.

I sent her footage of Lewis Black getting beaned with a bottle at Bonnaroo.

She countered with a demand for proof that it happened in Manchester.

I referred her to the fact that Black asked if he was the only Jew there.

She shot back that one need not assume that there is only one Jew or any Jews in any given venue in Tennessee.

"Yeah," I huffed. "Sometimes it's HALF a Jew."

"Well, it's the wrong half, which makes you a gentile bastard. With a tail. Lets go to Bonnaroo." She paused and I could tell she was lighting up, (something that she had resolved to quit last NYE, LIVY!) "Anyway, I frickin' hate Lewis Black. If he's there this year, I'll throw a bottle at him."

"How can you hate Lewis Black? It's not like he's Carrot Top."

"You like him because he reminds you of your Grandmother. Seriously, if he spoke Spanish and ranted about cats, I could close my eyes and not be able to tell the difference."

I offered to let her take my relatives to Dollywood if I went to Bonnaroo. She declined. I went to Kentucky and found out that the Monks of Our Lady of Purpetual Chagrin use a place in Nashville when their computers die. Don't they have misfit monks who love to tinker? Maybe I'm getting that mixed up with Santa's Workshop. Never mind. So, I trundled back home and waited and tomorrow I will trundle somewhere else, much to the vexation of the dog, who was enjoying something very like what the Cowardly Lion experienced in the Emerald City. Forget boning up on my French. There is the fine art of doggy massage to be learned.

There is also an email from my boss, who wants to know if I think I'm funny. I am pretty sure this is a rhetorical question. What she really wants to know is why I corrected someone from DCS when they complained about hearing one of the social workers singing a Guns n Roses song with a client during a session. I guess I wasn't supposed to tell her it was actually recorded by Pearl Jam. Offering the information that I'd used my knowledge of the lyrics to "Funky Cold Medina" for clincal purposes probably didn't help. I'll just pretend I didn't see the letter.

Oh, well. There's always Dollywood.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Book Review -- Everything Old Is New Again: Jack Fuller's "Abbeville"

In the midst of the shambles that is our economy, it is sometimes hard to put things into perspective and see that we as a people have indeed been through bad times before. Wearied from news that is relentlessly grim, cynicism is the most likely response to any sentiment that we might have the power to fix what is wrong. Could we really be strong enough to face losing almost everything and wise enough to cling to what is really important? This is a question that Jack Fuller's protagonist, George Bailey, has to face as he finds himself on the brink of financial ruin during the Dot Com Bust. As he struggles to keep afloat, he begins to realize how much his identity is wrapped up in the material wealth he can provide for his family and his customers.

What George wants is clarity. He struggles to make sense of what is happening by taking a pilgrimage back to his ancestral home in Abbeville. Through research and memory, he comes to understand how his grandfather survived the loss of wealth, comfort and influence to financial hardship, war, incarceration, bereavement and betrayal. The result is a narrative that echoes George's cinematic namesake as he finds his grandfather's depth, grace and faith in humanity are rewarded with a life far richer than the one that seemed to be his destiny as he entered adulthood.

Part ripping yarn, part fable of the republic, "Abbeville" is an excellent study of life in America then and now. Fuller's story gives us the vantage point of two men a generation apart who are experiencing the unthinkable at a time when America teeters between absorption in provincial concerns and the cold shock of discovering what moves the hearts and minds of the rest of the world. The prose is spare and beautiful. The story is engaging and rich in the kind of detail that leaves you feeling like you know these characters. "Abbeville" will make you want to connect with the past whether it's by dint of blood relation or heritage of ideas.

For more information, visit the "Abbeville" page at http://unbridledbooks.com/abbeville.html

Friday, May 30, 2008

Chest Hair, Beanie Weenies and Attila the Possum

So I'm trying to finish a play and two things keep tripping me up.

1.) My macros keep erasing themselves. What I'm doing is creating macros for each character, action, etc. and then making buttons for them on my toolbar. Every time I close out document or leave it open too long, it "restores" itself and I lose my frickin' buttons. Last night I had reached the point where I got my cute little tea cannister with Ganesh on it (made in Kenner, Louisiana, the most obvious provenance for black tea with Hindu gods on the label) and threatened my CPU. No dice. And please, please, as well intentioned as you might be in suggesting Word or Open Office, please know that both programs do this. I've also tried hitting save every few minutes to no avail. Argh. Just effin' argh.

2.) Three friends have lost their flippin' minds.

It all started with the best of intentions. Stanley is a sweet old guy some of us either know from art school (he was a teacher) or simply by osmosis from having friends who went to art school. He's retired, is living very simply and kinda hanging out at his house and making beautiful art. We all love him. Anyway, some neighbor got upset about the shed/workshop thingy in his back yard and sicced metro codes on him and he was given x amount of days to tear it down. Let's face it, some people suck. So Handsome Jeffrey drew up some plans for a newer, better, prettier workshop, got them approved and then enlisted Kevin, Keefer and Stuart to help with demolition and rebuilding and me and Alice to be support, whatever that means. So far, so good.

Then, Jeff started referring to the thing "Project Phoenix". Um, okay. Then he mentioned that The Men would bivouac in Stanley's backyard for the duration of the project. At that point, Keefer bowed out, pleading being low man on the totem pole at his newish sous chef position. Stanley, who would be visiting family in Monteagle, offered to let them stay in his house. Jeff wouldn't hear of it. This was a chance for the men of the tribe to pay homage to a respected elder. He then instructed The Men to meet him at Stanley's that weekend to get the job done.

I called Kevin.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Sorry Boo, I've already tried to get out of it. Looks like I'm off for a few days of Robert Bly fun."

"Just tell him no. I love Jeff, but that's crazy."

"I tried no. I also told him that you had agreed to give me a baby and this week was bad for camping out because you were ovulating."

"Kevin! This is how rumors get started."

"You know, that would make a great Mother's Day present for next year..."


"Well, I guess I'm stuck camping out because you won't give me a baster baby."

"I can live with that. Do you want me to come check on y'all?"

"As often as possible!"

Here is my journal of what followed...


I offered to pick up Alice so she could check on her husband. She stated that she was fine with seeing him when he got back and got it all out of his system. I dodn't ask her what that meant. I really didn't want to know.

Jeff reported via email that Stanley, being the sweet guy that he is, had already cleared out all of his art supplies and the little bit of furniture that was in the work shed. This put the guys a day ahead of schedule. according to Jeff, there was much jubilation and "a sense of our own precious Man-ness as we picked up our tools and prepared to work".

Having read that email, it was no small relief when I arrived at the compound just shy of six o'clock that evening to see that everyone was a bit bristly from having avoided shaving, but they all seemed be clothed and, well, not feral.

There was a small pile of lumber left over from what had evidently been carted off earlier. I offered to help them load it up so they could have the yard completely clean for tomorrow. Jeff shook his head.

Kevin put an arm around my shoulder and ushered me away from the wood. "We're going to burn some of that to scare away animals in the night."

"What animals?" I asked, "You're in a suburb that is surrounded by other suburbs."

There was no response. They all got very eerie poker faces. I took a step towards the kindling pile and they all lined up to block my way.

"You're scared I'm going to get girl cooties on your wood, aren't you?"

"No!" barked Stuart.

I took one more step towards the pile and they tensed up. I sighed and plopped a bag of Beanie Weenies, Pringles and Mountain Dew at their feet and walked back to my car.

My cell rang just as I got to the main drag.

"How are they?" asked Alice.

"Don't ask," I replied. "At least they aren't naked and chanting."

"That's probably on the agenda for Wednesday. You do know he has an agenda drawn out in his dayrunner for this week..."

The whole thing made my head hurt.


I stopped by that morning to see the three of them huddled around a campfire. Kevin looked like the front of his hair had been singed and all of them had swirls and paw prints drawn on their chests with ash. No one had shaved. Thank goodness they were still wearing pants.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw something flutter and realized that the tent looked like something had clawed at it.

"Cat?" I asked?

"Possum," said Stuart.

"His name is Atilla," added Kevin.

"We have him contained," Jeffery cleared his throat and stirred the fire. "He got trapped in our tent and clawed his way out."

"He couldn't have run out the front?" I asked

"Well, we weren't really sure what to do, so we zipped him in."

"You zipped him in?"

"He was attracted by the campfire. He's clearly insane."

I bit my tongue, called a friend who works in state wildlife management and loaded the bumping, snarling trashcan full of mad possum into my trunk and arranged to meet my ranger buddy at the nearest Shoney's to get poor Atilla released somewhere away from the crazy people.

While I was waiting in the parking lot, the phone rang. It was Alice.

"How are they?" she asked.

"I'm waiting to give a bungeed-closed trashcan full of mad possum to a state wildlife ranger."

There was a pause and then a sigh. "The sitcom just writes itself, doesn't it?"


This morning Stuart met me at the end of the driveway looking very perturbed.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I hope you brought food. This morning I woke up and heard Jeffery and Kevin discussing who they would eat first if civilization broke down."

"And you're the first to go."

"I really don't want to talk about it." He sighed and played with a pocket snap on his cargo shorts.

I pulled on into the driveway and saw Kevin and Jeffrey hunkered over the fire. They had gone from looking like middle-aged Nashville suburbanites to cro-magnons in the space of 72 hours. Their hair seemed to shoot from their scalps in clumps and no one had shaved. However, there was hope: they were still wearing pants.

Stewart and I joined them at the fire. They looked up and grunted.

"Were y'all talking about eating Stuart?" I asked. (Yes, my brain was absolutely screaming about he absurdity of the conversation.)


"Of course not!"

"We love Stuart. We wouldn't eat him!" Jeffrey kicked at a dirt clod and grimaced. "At least not as long as we avoid living in a post-petroleum economy."

My temples were starting to throb. "You know, you could eat crickets. They're the best bet for protein if things ever get...that way."

Kevin gagged. "Crickets! That's disgusting!"

"Wait a minute!" I snapped. "You would eat Stuart, but crickets make you gag? What is wro- What are you thinking? Why am I even arguing this? Stuart, they're not going to eat you. Even if it came down to eating someone, Jeffery has much denser musculature."

"Oh, I brought that up," said Stuart. "They said I would be better because of the marbling."


Kevin shook his head. "You are so judgmental. How did you ever get through anthropology school?"

Jeffrey tut-tutted. "No wonder you're still single."

"Okay, I said, I've heard enough. Here's a care package. I'm leaving."

I strode out to the car and went away, all the while torn between being ticked off about the old maid crack and scared that they might think I was nicely marbled and eat me.


The smell is now overpowering. If they don't bathe soon, as in today, I'm going to taser them and hose them down. When I got there, they were all lying on their backs, heads together, humming. I stepped over them and looked at the house they were building for Stanley. It was beautiful. It was finished. I strode back out.

"That's IT!" I shouted. "Game over. The shed is finished. It's time to clean up all the caveman stuff and go home!" Jeffery started to say something. "I'll tell Alice," I said. Do not push your luck with me. This local production of "Quest for Fire" is closing. I have three Egg McMuffins in my car. Now scoot!"

Stewart yelped happily, stripped naked and climbed into the back seat of my car. I'm afraid re-entry into the twenty-first century may be problematic.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Romantic Seeks Dog-Faced Boy For Friendship, Possibly More...

It was a dark and stormy night...

Beautiful Alice's husband, Handsome Jeffrey, was in Indianapolis at the beck and call of his employers. Her two adorable littles were being stuffed with fruit pies at Gramma's and something was skulking around her bushes.

"In this weather?" I said. "I'll bet it's a cat or a dog or something trying to get some cover from the rain."

"Cats and dogs don't bother me." Alice replied. "It's the 'or something' that has me worried."

I sighed.

"What? What?"

"Alice, this is the first time you've had the house to yourself in nearly a year. You're supposed to be reveling in this. If I were you, I'd be running around the house naked except for a hat."

"I don't have a hat. I don't really have a hat head..."

"Okay. Not a hat. The centerpiece from your dining room table. I've always wanted to put it on my head and pretend I was in a Botticelli painting."

"You're so weird."

"Me? I'm not the one seeing monsters in my shrubbery."

"They're not monsters!" Alice protested. "For all you know it could be a crazed psychopath with a big knife."

"A big knife? Paging Dr. Freud! Do you want me to come over?"

"Bring your popcorn popper."

"What are we watching?"

"You'll find out when you get here. Oh, wait. There's someone on the other line."

There was a click and then a moment later she came back on.

"That was Kevin. He's coming, too and he's promised me there will be no Keanu"

"I'll believe that when I see it."

A half hour later the three of us were planted in Alice and Jeffrey's bigass sofa, clicking through the previews. First in the player was Cocteau's 1946 film, "La Belle et la bete". It's easy to see this movie strictly as a piece of lovely eye candy, but some of the themes about sexual attraction and relationships were a little surprising. I've always assumed that Beauty and the Beast was all about the calming power of love. Nope. Belle is one kinky lady. In Cocteau's version, Belle is at first frightened and repulsed by the benighted prince. However, she does a quick turnaround and soon it's pretty apparent that the girl can't help it, she's a freak for bears. By the final scene, where one might expect maybe a flicker of disappointment when the beast turns into a rather dandified man, Josette Day's face registers something along the lines of "Merde! Serait-il trop pour te demander de ne pas raser pour une semaine ou trois ??" (translation: Well, gosh darn it! I was expecting maybe a little more evidence of testosterone?) And then tra la la la happy ending kiss kiss the film was over and we loaded up the 1991 Disney Beauty and the Beast. It was more of the same, really, only it was kind of teenagey and had better music. I would love to see Bruce Campbell play Gaston just to hear him sing "Me".

Glutted on all of that eye candy and fairy tale magic, we grasped the romance on an intellectual level but none of us could personally see the attraction to such fixer-uppers. Then, because nobody was in the mood for sleep, we decided to watch one more movie, "Fur - An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus". Nicole Kidman does an outstanding job as Arbus, who, in this movieverse, is the bored, repressed wife of a portrait photographer. While venturing out on her own, she is spotted and pursued by Lionel, a former circus freak and artist of sorts who has whatever disorder it is that causes people to be incredibly hirsute. (Yes, I should look it up, but I'm also feeling lazy. Sorry.) Underneath all of that hair is Robert Downey, Jr., but the only way you really know it's him is because of his eyes and the voice. Fine, that's all we need. I mean, that's we needed to know it was RDJ. Okay. Forty minutes in, we wanted to have his babies. Maybe it was leftover buzz from Iron Man, but lordy, he was compelling.

Until Nicole Kidman shaved him. I yelped, Alice barked, "Oh HELL no!" and Kevin looked stunned and asked us if we were gay.

"What is wrong with you? That's Robert Downey, Jr's ass!"

Alice started reading a copy of Western Horseman that was sitting on the coffee table I took the remote and tried to find the button that would show me how much movie was left so I would know if I had time to make some popcorn. Kevin wrestled the remote away and sat on me for the duration of the sex scene. Just so you know, I saw more of Kevin's ass than I did of anyones' in the movie. Thanks, Kevin.

And then Lionel died and Kevin got sniffly and Diane went to the nudist colony and it was over.

We looked guiltily at each other and realized that we finally got it, it being what would make Belle want the Beast but settle for the prince.

Alice went to the kitchen and came back with three plastic novelty Halloween glasses full of cherry cider and passed them around.

"We will not speak of this to anyone." she intoned. We all nodded and took a sip of the magic cider while it thundered and monsters lurked in Alice's holly bushes.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Diary of Ashley Miller., 6th Grade, Andrew J. Rosenberg Middle School

April 4th, 2008

Today our choices were taco salad, fish sticks or a peach half with a scoop of cottage cheese and some carrots and raisins in it. Grose! Thank GOD for Rice Crispy Bars and Raspberry Snapple or I would starve to death!

We had another assembly and I wanted to just crawl into the girls room and die because I figured it would be another hour of Coach Denise talking about everyone getting a stomach ache and then finding a flower in their panties. People? It's called MENSTRUATION and that stuff is BLOOD. Sometimes I just want to stick a pencil into each eye and lay down in the middle of the football field and die because special classes for girls are SO STUPID!

It wasn't all bad. I got to sit next to Barry in Earth Science. He's soooo cute and smart. I know his girlfriend could kick my butt and she's already been a teen board model but that's okay. He's so cool and smart that you just want him to be your friend when you meet him.

Well, everybody except Hillary. Hillary HATES him. Every time he gets an answer right or somebody says something nice to him, she looks just like that crazy chick with the big nostrils from that movie where Ferris Bueller is all old and wants to stop her from being student body president. The other day I saw her sitting in McDonalds with this high school dude named John and some of his friends and they were talking about blowing up stuff and she seemed so happy. My friend Beth goes to church with her and said she told their Sunday school teacher she was shot at by Crips at the Lone Oak Mall when she was at Wet Seal. There were some other guys there, too named Dick and George. We all know who Dick is because he drove his Dad's truck to school and had to go home because it had a rifle rack in the back window. Beth says she bets Hillary lets Dick slip her the tongue. Grose!

So the assembly? It was about student council elections for next year. It's going to be Barry against Hillary. Barry got up and gave a speech and it was very nice and then he sat down. Then Hillary got up and as she was climbing the steps, Jon and Stephen started making "bah-boom-dah" noises like they do in the old movies when Marilyn Monroe walks on the screen. Everybody laughed and Hillary got mad and ran back off the steps and grabbed Stephen by the neck pulled him out of his seat and started beating his head against Jon's legs. Then the principal grabbed her and started to carry her out of the auditorium and yelled at us for laughing. It was awesome. We could hear the principal telling Hillary to pull it together outside in the hallway and then Stephen got up and stood on his chair and everybody cheered.
Then Jon put his sweater in his shirt and started saying he was Hillary and this eight grader named Bill yelled that Hillary didn't have any boobies. It was so cool.

Then Barry walked up to the stage and told us we should all be ashamed of ourselves and people started booing and someone threw a pair of socks at him and he sat down.

I got an A in Spanish. Muy bien! Everything on TheN was a rerun. Beth said her sister has boobies and has to sleep on her back so she won't push them back in. I want boobies.

Until tomorrow! Stay sweet!

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Friday, April 25, 2008

What's your Function?

We all have titles that we use to define ourselves as friends, co-workers, family, or significant others. We can spell out relationships using this simple tool of social taxonomy without a huge expenditure of tears and fuss. Slightly trickier are the assignations we give ourselves and each other when it comes to our jobs as friends, co-workers, family or significant others.

With me? No? Let me give you some examples: The latest object of my affection can be depended upon at least once a day to express his amazement that I am from Tennessee and yet I wear shoes, have all of my teeth and can read and write. We're working on this. Alice is my go-to person for all things gracious and traditional. While we were both raised right by genteel Belle mamas, it took far better on Alice than it ever did on me. Big Gay Kevin is still teaching me how to like boys/men/those funny acting things with penises. I've never been very good at the whole relationship-romance-flirty thing and he is there to keep me from punching men on the arm and patiently explaining to them using the farthest limits of my Buddha nature that Bobby Orr is the greatest person to ever pick up a stick, not that Gretzky person. So what is my job?

It's not a huge, important function, but it does make things a little easier in a pinch. I have finally figured out that I am here to supply all of my loved ones with bon mots when they're at a loss for words. I discovered this when I was on the phone with Big Gay Kevin and I asked him if he'd ever seen a Joe Gage movie and would he think it might be more fun to watch one of his movies than the usual fare (Keanu for him, anime or martial arts or something with lots of magical realism for me -or as BGK calls them: "movies we have to freakin' read"). Sorry. Getting back on track...

I asked Kev about Joe Gage and he gasped and got quiet.

"What's wrong" I asked.

"WHERE did you hear about that? Have you ever actually SEEN a Joe Gage movie?"

"Ah, no. What's wrong?"

"Well. They're movies for men. Whooo...like men. And they're not really the kind of movies I'd expect you to know about. I'm a little shocked."


"It's disorienting to hear you talk about Joe Gage. I'm not sure how to put this..."

Now, here's where I would normally plug in some clever turn of phrase that would make them say, "Yes! That's it!" The thing is, I have to think of one for myself. Dang.

"This is a bit like watching a toddler swear and flip the bird, isn't it?"

"Yes! That's it!"

My work here is done.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Thursday, April 10, 2008


This morning Beautiful Alice came by and hung out for a bit. She made us both a cup of tea and scooched the dog over so she could sit on the sofa.

"I saw your blog. Nice work! It was funny and Aunt Sylvia was really tickled. The thing is..."


"Jas, did you notice anything unusual about the theater or the people there?"

"Not really." I said.

"Sweetie, you're a trained anthropologist..."
"I'm sorry. I was fighting the urge to run."

"The movie you reviewed? It doesn't open until tomorrow."

"Oh, crap. It was so long ago and I've been mixing up dates all month. So um, how screwed are you?"

Alice sat back against the dog. There was a deep sigh and I wasn't sure if it was her or the pooch.

"Does anybody read this blog? I mean other than your family."

"I'm not sure. Maybe a few friends. Chances are, no one even read that far."

Alice sighed.

"Actually, there were a few people at the paper who read you pretty regularly. I linked them in when you wrote the alternate ending to 'Ole Yeller'."

"That was good wasn't it?"

"Focus, Jas. I'm sorry. They did talk me down. You do spare me having to deal with too much of the Keanu thing and for that, I'm grateful."

"Well, uh, yeah. Yeah! You should be grateful. Who took your aunt to see 'The Lake House'? Hunh? Yeah? It goes both ways."

"You're pushing it, Jas"

"Okay. I do fell bad about this. Really. Seriously and for true. I promise. How can I make this up to you?"

Alice didn't bat an eye. She didn't hesitate. Her delivery of what the proper reparations would be was swift.

"Baked goods."

"Baked goods?"

Yes, baked goods. And make them cute. Maybe even...churchworthy."

"You've got coffee klatch at St. Tabitha's this Sunday."

"YES!" Alice collapsed into a teary puddle of person against O'Neill's furry side.

"Vanilla cupcakes with candied violets?"


I'm sure there's a lesson here somewhere, although the only thing I can take from this tonight is that I should keep better track of my day runner thingie and that there's little in this world that can't be fixed with a good homemade cupcake.


copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

Monday, April 07, 2008

What I Saw, Read, Listened To Last Week: Reviews for 3/31 to 4/6

TV My Name Is Earl NBC Thurdsay 8/7pm E/C:eight:bold;">My Name Is Earl NBC Thurdsay 8/7pm E/C:
The writers' strike was a cruel blow for fans of NBC's Thursday Night lineup. There's precious little on TV that doesn't entail sitting through confessionals, eliminations, or exposes and the long spate of reruns meant that a lot of us got caught up on our leisure reading. Okay, maybe it was was win-win situation for both the writers and the fans of scripted television. Never mind. Greg Garcia's My Name is Earl made it's hour-long return last week and the results were a mixed bag.

Let's get to the bad news first: The talking head at the first of the show making cheap slaps at the writers? Please, in the name of everything that is good in the universe, lose that bit. It wasn't funny. The idea that a network wonk would beg us to watch reruns before the "free period" runs out and they have to pay the writers makes me want to either rent the DVDs or just wait until Day 18 to do some online viewing.

Some people at Television Without Pity have posted that they felt the inclusion of the sitcom within a sitcom was lame. (Yeah, I'm a TWOPer. I've even written to Joy and gotten a response, so shoot me.) I have to disagree. A big part of the original premise of the series was based on Earl taking his cues from television. Let's face it, if Earl hadn't heard Carson Daly holding forth about karma, this show would have been about nearly everybody I went to high school with two undermotivated guys hanging out and my ex-sister-in-law the hairy, taller guy's scary ex-wife. I didn't exactly love the sitcom stuff, either, but I understand why they used it. This one time. Okay?

One other gripe. Please pick a character for Catalina and stick with it. One week she's the girl next door who Jumps for Joy, the next she's a stereotypical third-world fish out of water who wants to worship her dark, unnamed gods and rip out internal organs. The first two seasons, Catalina was interesting and fun. Now she seems like the repository for every South American primitive joke the writers can come up with

Now for the good news. Garcia and company are back with new episodes. Hooray for that! The cast is still pitch perfect. Alyssa Milano as Billie is a great addition. As a romantic interest for Earl, her Billie is believable and charming. She's a keeper! Kudos to her and Michael Moriarty for creating the back story that makes me want to keep watching to see what happens.

The regular suspects were also back in good form. Eddie Steeples as the enigmatic Crabman/Darnell/Harry wasn't given too much to do this episode, but he turned in a very good performance as a foil for Jamie Pressley's Joy. Pressley, as has been the case over the past two seasons, is often the heart of the show. However crude Joy and Darnell may be drawn by the writers, there is so much fine detail that Steeples and Pressley put into their performances that you can't help but feel the desire to emotionally invest in their stories. They were the standouts in a very strong ensemble.

The script was good, if uneven. The best cameo of the night was the reappearance of Josh, the truck driver as Earl's escort to the afterlife and and best laugh of the night came from an unnamed supporting player. Here's my approximation of it:

Joy: Can't we get a real doctor? You know. One of them Jew Doctors?

Doctor: Didn't you know? Indians are the new Jews.

Darnell: I thought it was the Koreans.

Doctor: They wish!

Overall, Earl shows a lot of promise. I'll be watching to see if they (and the other shows on NBC's lineup deliver.

Books The Clumsiest People In Europe: Or Mrs Mortimer's Bad Tempered Guide to the Victorian World by Todd Pruzan 2005 Bloomsbury Press and Light Fantastic: Adventures in Theatre by John Lahr 1996 Dial Press:

Todd Pruzan's Favell Lee Mortimer is hardly the sort of person you'd want to have as a traveling companion. On the other hand, reading her impressions of the people she met while traveling abroad is an unadulterated, if evil delight. The Clumsiest People In Europe: Or Mrs Mortimer's Bad Tempered Guide to the Victorian World is one of those books that will make you alternately gasp then laugh, then call up your friends to read them passages. It is so tempting to share passages here, but I won't because it always takes away from the shock and pleasure just a bit to find a really good part that you've already read out of context.

The mock travelogue/clueless fish out of water thing is nothing new. What sets this book apart is the earnestness of Ms Mortimer's fact-free opinions regarding her travels coupled with the impression that she honestly sees her words and actions as an expression of noblesse oblige. Pruzan manages to make such crude ignorance funny mostly by making Ms Mortimer so horrible. It's like reading a Westview ethnographic monograph by someone who no longer gives a damn. Well worth a look.

John Lahr is one of those rare writers who can get to the heart of what makes performance work. In Light Fantastic: Adventures in Theatre, he manages to get under the skins of an amazing array of people who work on or write for the stage. This is indeed a mixed bag. You'll find interviews with Bill Hicks, Tony Kushner and Dame Edna (Barry Humphreys), thoughtful reviews of productions of works by Tom Stoppard and Edward Albee and meditations on the careers of Clifford Odets and Lillian Hellman among many others.

There are many reasons to like Lahr's work. He has a genuine love of what he's covering and is knowledgeable enough to do so in a manner that balances his enjoyment of what he's seeing with well-informed observations. He also manages to stay out of his own way. This is important because it makes him the perfect audience by proxy through which we can have a clear idea of what the work is really about. While theatre fans will get the most enjoyment out of this book, anyone with an interest in pop culture and arts and letters in the 90s' will get a lot out of it.

Music Putumayo Presents: World Hits 2007 Putumayo World Music:

Putumayo anthologies are the musical equivalent to Chia Pets and Sea Monkeys. Either you get it and enjoy them enough to own a few (well, in my case nearly all of them) or you don't and see them as cheap, tacky, sanitized versions of world music for suburbanites and stick to raw field recordings from Nonesuch and the dearly departed Ellipsis Arts label. The World Hits collection isn't going to change anyone's mind if they're predisposed to disliking Putumayo's CDs. To longtime fans, this one delivers exactly what the company motto promises: music "Guaranteed to make you feel good!"

The two quibbles I have with this CD are the title and the fact that entire continents are not included in what is implied to be a global sampling. South Africa is the easternmost country represented in this collection. "World Hits" manages to completely leave out any examples of J-Pop, Bollywood, and a number of other music movements and styles that have as much universal appeal and recognition as the tracks they chose to include. These are indeed hits that have roots all over the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Africa; but the newest track was first released in 1994 (Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry's "7 Seconds) and the oldest track dropped in 1963 (Mongo Santamaria's "Watermelon Man"). To me, "Hits" indicates that the contents are going to be pretty current, maybe 5 years old at most. Putumayo stumbled on naming this one, missing out on the opportunity to use the qualifiers that would make room for a more current collection of hits later on. This release should should have been called something like "World Gold".

Aside from the those concerns this is a pretty good collection. If your musical interests are pretty eclectic, you may already have most of the tracks on this disc. For those who are building or rebuilding their libraries, this is a great way to get your hands on Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger's turn on "Don't Look Back", Jimmy Cliff's gorgeous "The Harder They Come", Miriam Makeba's dancable "Pata Pata" and Santana's lush guitar work on "Oye Como Va". Out of eleven tracks, there's only one real clunker: Kaoma's "Lambada". It seems anemic compared to the richness of the other ten songs.

I generally love Putumayo's collections and have found their themed discs as satisfying as the ones they've devoted to specific countries or regions. This one feels a bit like a training disc for someone who has listened to very little outside of what corporate radio has to offer. "World Hits" is fun and a keeper for lazy Saturdays in the back yard, but not nearly as challenging as some of their other titles. If this does whet your appetite for more, I suggest checking out their Lounge and Groove series.

DVD Haiku Tunnel 2001 Sony Pictures Classics:

If Mike Judge's "Office Space" could be considered Dilbert's laid back Texan college roommate on a beer buzz, "Haiku Tunnel" would have to be it's wound-too-tight New York cousin who lost his Prozac, the number to his new doctor and quite frankly most of his adult composure. Nine out of ten paralegals, former paralegals and legal secretaries who have seen this movie find it strangely cathartic.

What starts out to be a boilerplate piece where the underlings take on The Man, complete with the usual twittering about how lawyers are a pretty homogenous bunch, turns into something that eventually resembles a harrowingly buddy caperish "After Hours" as much as it does a workplace comedy. I almost hate to talk about the payoff because it will give away too much of the movie. Let me just say that the only person who needs and gets any sort of redemption is the lead and in showing that you see that no one else really needed a redemption arc because they were all pretty nice people to begin with.

Some people might find "Haiku Tunnel" to be a bit cloying because of the lack of venom. I liked the good-natured looniness and the human scale of the comedy. No buildings blew up, no one bilked anyone out of a million dollars and no one died or was committed. Heck no one even got fired. All that happened was people pitched in and handled a small crisis and then they got on with their lives. In the bizarro universe that is what we see onscreen, this is pretty uncommon. The fact that it's entertaining and -Dare I say it?- a bit of a feelgood film, makes this a rare movie you shouldn't miss.

Movie Street Kings 2008 Fox Searchlight Pictures:

Okay, here is a review of "Street Kings" for my friends Sylvia and Big Gay Kevin. You have them and the guy who writes Crazy Days And Nights to thank or blame. A few months ago, he posted a picture of Keanu Reeves, who was making a movie called "The Nightwatchman". The first thing I did was make two mental notes: 1.) Send Syl and Kev a link since they both think at some point they are going to be Mrs. Reeves. 2.) Be sure to have cholera the week "The Night Watchman" comes out so they will have to find another disinterested third party to take them to see it.

And then one day Sylvia called to tell me there were pictures from the premiere of "Street Kings" and "Ooh! Let's go see it! It has Forest Whittaker and Hugh Laurie!" That was so dirty. She knows I would pay to watch Forest Whittaker and Hugh Laurie read the phone book. Let me requalify that, I would pay to watch Forest Whittaker and Hugh Laurie make out, read the Nashville Yellow Pages, make out some more and then read volumes 19 through 27 of the Tennessee Code Annotated. Little did I know that I would be watching a big, loud testostofest while sitting between Big Gay Kevin and Sylvia, who would alternately gasp and then hoarsely whisper, "LOOK at those ARMS!" Let me just say at this point that if Mr. Reeves is into furry gay redneck dudes from Alabama or foxy 83-year-old women, he's money if he ever comes to Nashville.

Here's the thing. I don't really have anything against big loud testostofests. "Point Break" is one of two dozen discs I would take if I ever lost my mind and did field work in Papua New Guinea and they had a hut with electricity. It's the most adorably blockheaded movie ever made and deserves acclaim for being the adrenaline-addled bemulleted gem that makes people alternately want to read the densest book on semiotics they can find and bungee jump over the Cumberland River. I don't even have anything against Keanu Reeves. He's a decent actor who has picked some interesting scripts (Thumbsucker, Tune In Tomorrow, My Own Private Idaho, I Love You to Death). It might be the nutty Keanu love from my two best that makes me want to run the other way when I see his mug in a preview.

But enough of that. Let's talk about "Street Kings". It is big and loud and the script is a shade smarter than most cop thrillers. Everybody in the cast was good and right on pitch. BGK thinks Laurie was miscast. I disagree. As a sort-of antagonist, he hit the marks in every scene. I was also quite impressed with Cedric the Entertainer. Let's face it, I expected good performances from everyone else, but Cedric floored me. He's really good! Would I watch this this film again? Probably not. But I do want to see everyone in it again, possibly together and maybe with Sandra Bullock along for the ride.

My next movie? "The Forbidden Kingdom" which will hopefully have lots of airborne battle scenes and Jet Li and Jackie Chan flaring their nostrils at each other in Mandarin or reading from the Nashville Yellow Pages.


copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner